Labour May Have to Scare Supporters into Voting; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt


TONY BLAIR told the Cabinet last week that this would be a turnout election and today's polls prove his point. The Mori poll for the Financial Times underlines just how crucial it is for Labour to get its supporters to the polling stations on 5 May.

The survey's clear five-point lead for the Tories is among those who are absolutely certain to vote. But when Mori tested the wider issue of general support for the parties, the position is reversed and Labour has a five-point lead. Today's Guardian/ICM poll echoes the turnout point, giving Mr Blair a three-point lead among all voters, not just the "definites".

Both follow last month's British Election Survey which again gave the Tories a narrow lead among those in the certain-to-turnout category. All the parties will, in a way, be unsurprised by the contrasting results because they have long known there is a huge difference between "soft" and "hard"support.

In short, Conservative supporters angry at Mr Blair's eight years of spin and lack of delivery are more motivated to get to the ballot box. Labour supporters may support some of the party's achievements in Government, but the Iraq war and the Prime Minister's personality may be a bar to them putting their cross on the ballot paper.

Tory chairman Liam Fox has been telling his backbenchers that internal party polling points to a hung Parliament if turnout falls below the 59 per cent of the 2001 election. Similarly, Labour's polling guru Philip Gould has been stressing that the margin for error is so small that every effort has to be made to mobilise, if not scare, "soft" Labour people into casting "hard" votes. …


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