Conservatives stretch lead in British election race: polls

24th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The opposition Conservatives have extended their lead in the race to win Britain's May 6 general election without yet attracting enough support for an outright majority, polls showed Saturday.

The surge in support for the Liberal Democrats, sparked by their leader Nick Clegg's strong showing in TV debates, may have run its course, according to one poll by Ipsos Mori for the Sunday newspaper News of the World.

But most surveys showed the election -- initially expected to be a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives -- was a genuine three-horse race likely to produce a hung parliament, with the Tories the largest party.

A BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday newspaper of people voting by post found that 34 percent said they would back David Cameron's Conservatives, who are seeking a return to power after 13 years of Labour rule.

The poll put the Liberal Democrats on 30 percent, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour trailing on 27 percent.

Postal voters are considered to be a "wild card", as many are expected to send in their ballot papers in the next few days, denying the parties the chance to influence them in the final days of campaigning.

A YouGov survey in the Sunday Times put Tories on 35 percent, a rise of two points, with the Lib Dems down one on 28 percent and Labour down three on 27 percent.

The Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror commissioned a ComRes poll showing the three-way race is getting tighter.

The Conservatives remain in front on 34 percent, with the Lib Dems in second place on 29 percent and Labour on 28 percent.

But the Ipsos Mori poll suggested that the sudden rise of the Lib Dems -- traditionally anchored in third place in general elections -- might be waning.

It put them on just 23 percent -- down nine points on a similar poll on Monday -- behind Labour on 30 percent and the Conservatives on 36 percent.

However, even this result would produce a hung parliament in which the Lib Dems could play a crucial role in forming a coalition government.

Ipsos Mori interviewed 1,245 adults on Friday. ComRes telephoned a random sample of 1,006 adults on Friday and Saturday, while on the same days, YouGov interviewed 1,412 voters across Britain and BPIX surveyed 2,139 people.

© 2010 AFP

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