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Labour's collapse in the North since 2005 gives the Tories huge cause for optimism in the region

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Earlier in the month the Telegraph carried a report claiming that the Conservatives were failing to make a breakthrough in the North of England - which was swiftly rubbished by the authoritative Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report. I covered it all here.

So it is equally reassuring to see today's Financial Times reporting a collapse in Labour's support in the North of England and a swing to the Tories in the region which goes into double figures:

"The FT’s analysis of the most recent aggregated polling data, which allows sufficiently large sample sizes to show reliable regional and demographic trends, paints a bleak picture for Labour. The Tories have built a narrow four-point lead in the north, eradicating the 19-point Labour lead in the region that underpinned Tony Blair’s last general election victory, the research shows. The 11.5 percentage point swing from Labour to the Tories in the north since the May 2005 poll is the largest for any region of Britain."

By my calculations, such a swing would deliver nearly thirty gains from Labour in the crucial battleground of the North West, more than a dozen seats in the Yorkshire and the Humber region, as well as three or even four seats in the North East.

The fourth North East seat would be Sunderland Central, which the FT considers in some detail as a potential "Basildon of 2010" which could provide an early indication of Tory success on election night (assuming the votes are counted on the night... but that's another campaign). Lee Martin, the now full-time candidate for the seat wrote about his campaign there in this week's Diary of a PPC.

There is one note of caution in the FT coverage of its polling analysis, however, in its suggestion that David Cameron must be careful not to alienate the lower middle classes:

"The greater resistance to spending cuts further down the socio-economic scale may help to explain why Mr Cameron is finding it easier to woo the ABs, the upper middle and middle classes whose jobs are largely immune to Whitehall culls, than the C1s, who include a lot of public sector professionals in relatively junior positions."

Jonathan Isaby


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