POLITICS

General Election 2015: Are The Tories 'Gliding To Victory'?

07/08/2013 14:38 BST | Updated 07/08/2013 14:43 BST
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The new British PM David Cameron and his wife Samantha arrive in Downing Street this evening

The Tories are back in business, Ed Miliband's in crisis, and David Cameron is striding purposefully towards a majority in the 2015 General Election.

That's what the papers say, with Labour's trade union spats, an improving economy, and Abu Qatada's deportation all cited in evidence.

On Tuesday, the Daily Telegraph even reported senior Tories' confidence that they were on a 'glide path' to victory.

And Ladbrokes said 70% of election bets in the past fortnight had been for the Conservatives.

Is it really so simple? Not according to respected polling experts at the University of Nottingham, who believe the true picture is different to the "Westminster Village narrative".

A blog post by academics Robert Ford, Will Jennings and Mark Pickup scoffs at suggestions that Labour's poll lead is collapsing, saying its support is up half a point on the previous month, to 38.1%.

The pollsters write: "So why all the fuss? The problem seems to lie in two longstanding journalistic habits: the tendency to focus on poll leads, rather than shares, and to interpret the poll leads in terms of the prevailing Westminster Village narrative."

The main reason Labour's lead has fallen is because of Tory voters ending their flirtation with Ukip, they said, rather than Ed Miliband's row with Unite leader Len McClusky.

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Voters are barely aware of the union baron, they say:

The mistake journalists make in doing this is to assume that the average voter pays attention to the same issues they do. The union row which so excited the Westminster Village barely registered with voters. Less than a fifth of the members of McLusky’s own union could recognise the man at the centre of the row (many thought he was Sir Alex Ferguson)...It is therefore no surprise to anyone except the political media to see that Labour’s poll share has not budged at all in the wake of these supposedly toxic feuds.

Ladbrokes have Labour as 5/4 favourites for a majority, with the Tories 3/1, and a hung Parliament at 13/8.

Meanwhile, with MPs away for the summer, Westminster's pundits are busy speculating on the outcome of the 2015 poll.

A Twitter tussle between Huffington Post UK's very own political director Mehdi Hasan and Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges tempted political heavyweights at the Sun and the Daily Mail into pledging money on the result, while former Tory MP Paul Goodman, executive editor of the influential ConservativeHome website, said he did not think Cameron could secure an outright majority. Even Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory donor and deputy chair weighed in, as did CCHQ's Ric Holden...

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