WEEK IN POLITICS: Lord Ashcroft poll puts Labour ahead in Norwich South

Lord Ashcroft

Lord Ashcroft - Credit: PA

Lord Ashcroft's pollsters have been on the phone to the people of Norwich to find out if the sitting MP Simon Wright will hold his seat.

His research suggests the Liberal Democrat's shock victory over Labour in 2010 will be a one-term wonder, with BBC technical operator and Labour candidate Clive Lewis in the driving seat.

Questioned on which party they would vote for if there was a general election tomorrow, 36pc of those phoned said it would be Labour.

Lord Ashcroft – a former Norwich School student – observes that things look very difficult for the Liberal Democrats in seats where Labour is their closest challenger.

Indeed the survey of 1,000 people put the Green Party, Conservatives and the UK Independence Party – none of which had even selected candidates when the poll was carried out between June 11 and 22 – ahead of the incumbent Liberal Democrats,

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According to the research, Conservatives would be second on 19pc, Greens on third at 18pc and the UK Independence Party on 17pc, with the Lib Dems trailing on just 8pc. Although there was some comfort in the fact that when it came to a question specifically about the candidate, the Lib Dems still came in behind the other four, but with 12pc of the vote.

There have been questions about why Conservative Headquarters has dragged its heels in getting a candidate into Norwich South and the Greens have held fire until after the election, although they tell me an announcement is due in the coming weeks.

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The UK Independence has subsequently announced that Steve Emmens will be its prospective parliamentary candidate in Norwich South.

In contrast Labour has been making itself known, according to those who spoke to Lord Ashcroft's team.

The statistics showed 45pc of those asked had heard from Labour over the last few weeks.

Although the detailed poll revealed 59pc of those asked thought Britain's economy would fare well over the next year.

But just 29pc were satisfied with Prime Minister David Cameron, with more people in Norwich South preferring Ed Miliband to the current resident of Number Ten. Of course, this is just a poll. As Lord Ashcroft says: 'This is a snapshot not a prediction, and the race in these seats may well narrow over the next few months.'

Indeed Simon Wright remains optimistic, citing a constituency poll conducted by Ipsos MORI in March 2010 which put the Lib Dems in fourth place in Norwich South.

'Just a few weeks later I was elected to represent the community,' he told me.

Just 308 days until we will find out.

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