Independent poll

UK heading for a hung parliament, poll shows

Labour closes gap to ten points as economic confidence returns

Britain is on course for a hung parliament after the general election amid growing optimism about the economy, according to the latest ComRes poll for The Independent.

It puts the Conservatives on 37 per cent (down three points on last month), Labour on 27 per cent (no change), the Liberal Democrats on 20 per cent (up two points) and other parties on 16 per cent (up one point).

Because of the way the first-past-the-post voting system works, the figures would leave the Tories six seats away from an overall majority if repeated at the election. They would have 320 seats, Labour 240, the Liberal Democrats 58 and other parties 14. These figures exclude those up for grabs in Northern Ireland. It is the second poll taken in the past two weeks to point to a hung parliament. An Ipsos MORI survey for The Observer, published nine days ago, put the Tories on 37 per cent, Labour on 31 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 17 per cent.

The ComRes survey will raise Labour's hopes that the party might yet deprive David Cameron of victory and, if it can close the gap further, even hang on to office. Gordon Brown hopes the polls are starting to shift as people stop regarding them less as a "referendum" on the Government and think more about the "choice" they will make at the election, which is expected next April or May.

Labour strategists believe recent polls reflect greater scrutiny of the Tories' policies. Labour's private polling suggests the party's attacks on Mr Cameron's plans to raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m have persuaded some voters the Tories are a "party for the rich".

And with the economy expected to start growing again in the final three months of this year, Labour will take comfort from the findings on the economy. According to ComRes, more people are optimistic than pessimistic about the British economy and their own economic prospects. Some 56 per cent say they are optimistic about the economy generally, while 41 per cent are pessimistic. When asked about their own financial outlook, 71 per cent are optimistic and 26 per cent pessimistic.

Younger people are more likely to be optimistic than older people about the British economy and their own financial prospects. Labour voters (74 per cent) are much more optimistic about the economy generally than Tory supporters (50 per cent) and Liberal Democrat voters (48 per cent).

People intending to vote Labour are the most upbeat about their own financial position: some 82 per cent are optimistic, compared to 71 per cent of Tory voters and 70 per cent of Liberal Democrat supporters. Some 61 per cent of people say they will spend about the same on this Christmas as last year, but 30 per cent believe they will spend less and only eight per cent are planning to spend more than last year.

Brown allies will hope that a closing poll gap will silence speculation about another attempt to force him to stand down before the election. However, some senior Labour MPs believe the party could do better with a different leader. The party appears to be held back by poor ratings among women. According to ComRes, Labour has the support of 30 per cent of men but only 25 per cent of women, while Tory support is much more evenly spread. The Liberal Democrats do much better among women (24 per cent) than among men (15 per cent).

Labour lead the Tories by 10 points among 25- to 34-year-olds. But Tory support from people who regard themselves as natural Tories (89 per cent) is higher than Labour's among people who identify most with Mr Brown's party (78 per cent).

The Tories believe they are still on course for an overall majority of up to 50 seats. They were relieved by a YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph published at the weekend showing them with a six-point lead in 32 key marginal seats in the north. It put the Tories on 42 per cent, and Labour on 36 per cent, a reversal of the result at the last general election, when Labour won 44 per cent of the votes and the Tories 34 per cent.

n ComRes telephoned 1,003 GB adults between 27 and 29 November 2009. Data were weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables at www.comres.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
tennisLive: Follow all the updates from Melbourne as Murray faces Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-final
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
musicYou'll have to ask Taylor Swift first
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our exclusive client in St Albans Hertfords...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Primary Teachers

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Hertfordshir...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ACCA/CIMA - St Albans, Hertfordshire

£55000 - £58000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - London, Old Street

£25000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - Londo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness