Poll suggested low turnout helped losing Conservatives

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Indy Politics

The low turnout in June's national election helped the Conservative Party, suggests a new poll which contradicts the losing party's belief that it was hurt by voter apathy.

A poll conducted by ICM Research for British Broadcasting Corp. radio found that 53 percent of the non–voters say they would have supported Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party, compared to 19 percent who backed the Conservatives.

In the June 7 election, Labor won with 40.7 percent compared to 31.7 percent for the Conservatives. Voter turnout of 59 percent was the lowest in Britain since World War II.

ICM researcher Martin Boon said the results may have been skewed by a tendency for people to report that they backed the winner in an election. Even with that caveat, he said the survey was bad news for the Conservatives.

"There's no getting round a deficit of 19 percent to 53 percent," Boon said.

Conservative leader William Hague announced his resignation after the party's second landslide loss. Former Treasury chief Kenneth Clarke and party defense spokesman Iain Duncan Smith are campaigning to succeed Hague, in a race which ends next month.

The poll commissioned by the BBC's "Today" program was based on telephone interviews with a thousand adults who said they had not voted. The interviews were conducted on July 20–22, 27–29 and Aug. 3–5, ICM said. The margin of error was about 3 percentage points.