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VOTERS TO SWITCH TO LIB DEMS FOR LOCAL POLLS, SAYS MORI

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Many voters supporting the Labour or Conservative parties in the general election are switching to the Liberal Demo...
Many voters supporting the Labour or Conservative parties in the general election are switching to the Liberal Democrats for the local election, according to MORI research for LGC and the Local Government Association.

Residents of 34 county councils, 19 shadow unitaries, two existing unitaries and one new district voted in local elections yesterday. These votes are being counted today.

When MORI asked people in areas due to hold local elections who they would vote for in the general election, Labour won 47% support, compared with 32% for the Tories and 16% for the Liberal Democrats.

But when the same people were asked who they would vote for in the local election, Labour fell to 42%, the Tories to 28% and the Lib Dem share came up to 23%.

According to Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of the Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre at the University of Plymouth, on a general election share of 45% Labour, 35% Tory and 15% Liberal Democrat, the Tories are set to win six counties: Bedfordshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Surrey and Wiltshire. But if, as the MORI poll suggests, the Liberal Democrats buck the national trend in the local elections, they will retain control of East Sussex, Hampshire and Wiltshire.

On this basis, Rallings and Thrasher rule out more difficult targets for the Tories, such as North Yorkshire and Kent.

This contradicts predictions by Paul White, leader of the Local Government Association Conservative group, that the Tories could regain control of 20 counties in yesterday's vote.

Rallings and Thrasher also predict, on national polling evidence, that the Lib Dems will lose Wokingham DC to the Tories and Windsor and Maidenhead unitary to no overall control. This outcome may also be in doubt if the Lib Dems have a strong local showing.

Labour will lose Bracknell Forest unitary to no overall control, but other Labour unitaries such as Blackpool, Blackburn Plymouth and Slough will be safe.

Only a Labour landslide is likely to win Cumbria and Cheshire for the party.

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