Labour has dipped below 30% in the polls for the first time since Ed Miliband became leader, latest research shows. A study for Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft puts the party on 29%, a fall of two points. Ukip has dropped two points to 16% while the Conservatives are down one point on 30%, according to the polling.
Reports have claimed that Labour is focusing on a "35% strategy" aimed at getting the party just over the line at the general election - a claim senior figures have denied. But the Ashcroft weekly polling shows a "slow but unmistakable decline" in support for the Labour, according to the Tory peer.
It is the first major poll to put the party below 30 points since Mr Miliband took the helm in September 2010. Lord Ashcroft wrote: "Though these changes and the Tory lead are within the margin of error, the longer term story shows that while the Conservatives remain in the centre of their 30% zone, Labour are continuing their slow but unmistakeable decline in the Ashcroft national poll, from highs of 36% in July and 35% in early September.
"This is the first week in which Labour have dropped below 30% in my poll, and the second time the two leading parties have scored less than 60% between them." Asked whether they expected to be better off under the Tories or Labour after next May's election, most voters, 57%, said it would make no difference who was in power.
Although the polling is unlikely to give much comfort to either of Westminster's two main parties, the results may be more welcome at Liberal Democrat headquarters. After languishing in single figures, the junior Coalition party is up three points to 10%.
:: 1,002 adults were interviewed by telephone between October 31 and November 2 and the results were weighted to be representative of all adults in Great Britain.