Small susurrations over ‘Lord’ Ashcroft’s polling for the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election:
according to a survey I completed yesterday, Labour’s grip on the seat is firm. I found Labour on 61 per cent of the vote with UKIP second on 15 per cent, the Conservatives on 14 per cent and the Liberal Democrats fourth on 5 per cent.
In passing, that’s “Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC”, as the by-line insists. We are in very distinguished company.
There are all kinds of reasons to doubt that is a “safe” prediction. Ashcroft himself recognises:
A lot can change in a week – especially the last week of a by-election campaign – and any poll is a snapshot not a forecast.
True enough, o worthy Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.
Were that to transpire next Thursday, it would be a truly remarkable result:
¶ A Con/Lab swing of some 14½%;
¶ Labour’s best result ever in this seat — better by some three points than 1997.
More to the point, Ashcroft included UKIP in the prompts for preference.
Let us, too, relish the prescience of Toby Young for the Telegraph:
… it will be enormously helpful if Ukip wins the forthcoming by-election in the constituency of Wythenshawe and Sale East. That is not as far-fetched as you might think, as Mike Smithson points out in this post for PoliticalBetting.com. Since 2011, Ukip have come second in five by-elections – Eastleigh, South Shields, Barnsley Central, Rotherham and Middlesbrough – and the party did well in local elections in Wythenshawe and Sale East in 2012. Last night, Lord Ashcroft tweeted that betting on the outcome of the by-election had been temporarily suspended, suggesting that the bookies were busy recalculating the odds of a Ukip victory after several large bets had been placed on precisely that outcome.
We must wait for Mr Smithson to air his views, but Soapy Sam and his fellow turf accountants are currently offering 1/100 on a Labour win.