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Lord Ashcroft Poll Finds Labour's Deficit Denial Could Cost Miliband Election

LONDON, November 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Labour's poll lead is softer than it appears because of swing voters' concerns for the country's finances if the party returned to government, according to new polling by Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC.

Four in ten voters who have switched to Labour since 2010 fear that another Labour government might "spend and borrow more than the country could afford".  More than half of all voters say Labour have failed to learn the right lessons from what went wrong during their time in office.

At the same time, many of those who supported a different party at the last election but now say they would vote Labour - especially those who have lost out through austerity - believe that a Labour government would reverse many of the cuts.

Those who would consider Labour but have not yet switched are more likely than others to think the party has failed to learn its lessons, especially on spending and borrowing.

The findings are set out in Lord Ashcroft's latest research report Project Red Alert, which is published today.

The research presents Labour with a strategic dilemma, according to Lord Ashcroft. In his commentary on the results, published on the Conservative Home website today, he says:

"Ed Miliband has a choice. He can either make clear to his supporters that there will be no return to the days of lavish spending, or he can fight an election knowing that most voters do not believe Labour have learned their lessons, and many of his potential voters fear that Labour would once again borrow and spend more than the country can afford.

"The fact that Labour have got themselves into this position shows how much the party has changed since it was last in opposition. Tony Blair would never have risked losing because voters feared a Labour government would be profligate.

"I think this research clearly shows the strategic path Labour should choose. But why would they take advice from me?"

Key findings from the research include:

  • A quarter of those who have switched to Labour since the last election say they have not finally decided and may well change their minds. 40% of these say they are concerned that a Labour government would spend and borrow more than the country could afford.
  • Ed Miliband does not attract voters to Labour but he may put them off. While Labour supporters often say he is the price to pay for getting a Labour government, a low to neutral view of the leader is one of the factors that most distinguishes those who are considering the party but have not yet switched.
  • Voters as a whole, including those who would consider Labour but have not yet switched, think David Cameron would do a better job than Ed Miliband when it came to representing Britain internationally, making the right decisions even when they were unpopular, having a clear idea what he wants to achieve, leading a team, and doing the job of PM overall. Miliband led only on understanding ordinary people.
  • Half of all voters, including more than a fifth of those switching to Labour, say Britain's overall level of debt would be worse today if Labour had won in 2010.
  • 52% of voters say Labour have "not yet learned the right lessons from what went wrong during their time in government, and cannot yet be trusted to run the country again".
  • Many of those who would vote Labour in an election tomorrow said they would have to reassess their voting intention if there were a real economic recovery in which their living standards improved - particularly since Labour had been so insistent that the government's economic policy was wrong.

View the report: http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/prne/prnewswire/project-red-alert.pdf

Notes to Editors

  • 8,103 adults were interviewed between 17 and 28 October 2012. In addition, twelve focus groups were conducted in Nuneaton, Pudsey, Warrington, Hastings, Watford and Thurrock.
  • Full data tables will be available at LordAshcroftPolls.com from Wednesday 21 November.
  • Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, author and philanthropist. He is founder and Chairman of the Board of Crimestoppers, a member of the Board of the Imperial War Museum and a Trustee of the Imperial War Museum Foundation, Chairman of the Trustees of Ashcroft Technology Academy, Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and Treasurer of the International Democrat Union. From 2005 to 2010 he was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.

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