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Hemming ‘on course for Yardley General Election win against the odds’

Hemming ‘on course for Yardley General Election win against the odds’

🕔28.Nov 2014

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming is on course to retain his Birmingham Yardley seat at the General Election against all the odds according to the latest Lord Ashcroft opinion poll.

Despite Liberal Democrat popularity being at an all-time low across the country, in Yardley 34 per cent of those questioned said they would vote for Mr Hemming.

Labour is on 31 per cent and Ukip on 19 per cent. Only 12 per cent said they would vote Conservative.

Mr Hemming won in Yardley at the 2010 General Election with a majority over Labour of 3,002.

The Conservatives were in third place with 19 per cent of the votes cast.

Lord Ashcroft’s figures show a sharp gain in Ukip support, up from 2.9 per cent in 2010, largely at the expense of the Conservatives.  While support for Mr Hemming is down by five per cent, Labour candidate Jess Phillips has not yet made up enough ground to take the seat.

Failure to win in Yardley would be a serious blow to Labour. The party has targeted the seat in the hope of putting paid to the career of Birmingham’s only Liberal Democrat MP.

Liberal Democrat candidates won all four wards in the Yardley constituency at this year’s city council elections in an indication that Labour might struggle in the General Election.

Labour responded by insisting that its candidate, Ms Phillips, would win the General Election because Mr Hemming was less popular in Birmingham than Liberal Democrat councillors – a claim that appears highly dubious if Lord Ashcroft’s findings are accurate.

In fact, Mr Hemming’s narrow lead over Labour appears to be based on a personal following. When Yardley voters were asked which party they wanted to see win the General Election, 35 per cent said Labour and 19 per cent favoured the Conservatives.

Pollsters asked voters in Yardley whether they had been contacted in recent weeks by any of the political parties. Almost one third (32%) said they had been contacted by the Liberal Democrats, but only 16% said they had received visits or literature from Labour.

First elected in Yardley in 2005, Mr Hemming has been a flamboyant figure in Birmingham and at Westminster most notably for his unconventional private life. But he has also made a name for himself as a passionate campaigner for family rights.

A self-made millionaire thanks to his IT software firm, Mr Hemming was the deputy leader of Birmingham city council from 2004 to 2005.

Lord Ashcroft’s poll also gives a fascinating snapshot of voter sentiment in Yardley, with 55 per cent believing the UK economy will do well over the next year against 41 per cent who think the economy will perform badly.

Opinion is split over whether David Cameron is doing a good job as Prime Minister, with 27 per cent saying yes and 28 per cent saying no.

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