Labour lead smallest for a year as Ukip threatens all three parties

The Independent's "poll of polls" reveals Ed Miliband's fortunes waning since Febrary

Labour’s lead over the Conservatives has dropped to its lowest level for more than a year, according to The Independent’s latest poll of polls.

It suggests that Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party is eating into Labour’s support as well as harming the Tories. Labour enjoyed an eight-point advantage in April but last month that dropped to five points in May, its lowest since March last year.

Despite a flatlining economy and Tory divisions over Europe and gay marriage, Labour’s lead has been on a downward track since February this year, when it was 13 points ahead. The latest weighted average of the polls puts Labour on 35 per cent (down four points on the previous month), the Tories on 30 per cent (down one point), Ukip on 15 per cent (up three points) and the Liberal Democrats on 11 per cent (unchanged).

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who compiled the “poll of polls,” said Labour’s shrinking lead was caused partly by Ukip’s advance. “In relative terms Ukip is still hurting the Conservatives more than Labour,” he said. “But in absolute terms Ukip is hurting Labour more than it was. So we should not assume that any further increases in Ukip will necessarily come especially at the Conservatives’ expense. Labour’s relatively soft vote, much of it a protest vote, also seems vulnerable to Ukip’s appeal.”

By April, 16 per cent of  people who voted Tory at the 2010 election had switched  to Ukip, as well as 4 per cent of Labour’s 2010 backers and 8 per cent of Lib Dem voters. By last month, 21 per cent of Tory, 9 per cent of Labour and 9 per cent of Lib Dem voters at the last election had moved over to Mr Farage’s party.

Although the latest figures will worry Labour, they would still give Ed Miliband an overall majority of 42 if repeated at the next general election. Labour would have 346 seats, the Conservatives 240, the Liberal Democrats 34 and other parties 30.

Labour strategists insist that the party has built a  solid platform for  the 2015 election despite the turbulence caused by Ukip’s rise and the outbreak of “four-party politics.”  But they admit Mr Farage is scooping up voters angry at the Government who might normally switch to the main opposition party.

Insiders hope Labour will reap an eventual benefit in the polls following the speeches on economic policy and welfare by Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, and Mr Miliband last week. A tougher line on welfare, on which Labour is perceived as “soft”, could woo back traditional working class Labour supporters from Ukip.

Yesterday the Tories and Lib Dems challenged Labour to spell out whether Mr Balls’s announcement that pensions could be included in its cap on social security spending would mean cuts in the basic state pension. Labour denied that, insisting that it would stick to the Coalition’s “triple lock” under which the state pension rises annually with inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk