Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Lib Dems set for by-election defeat

Reuters, LONDON

Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party will suffer a crushing defeat in this week’s parliamentary by-election, two opinion polls to be published yesterday showed.

The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election in Manchester, northern England, on Thursday, is viewed as a key test of the Lib Dems role as the junior partner in a Conservative-led coalition government that took power last May.

National opinion polls have already shown their support has plunged since they entered the alliance as voters punish the party for its U-turn on promises to oppose higher university fees.

Both surveys of voters show the party trailing by a massive 17 points in the marginal seat in sharp contrast to when the party’s candidate lost by just 103 votes in the parliamentary election last May.

The opinion poll published by the Sunday Telegraph, which interviewed 1,500 voters, put Labour way out in the lead on 46 percent, the Lib Dems on 29 percent and the Conservatives on 15 percent.

An ICM poll for the Mail yesterday, which spoke to 500 adults, meanwhile, gave Labour 44 percent, the Lib Dems 27 percent and the Conservatives 18 percent.

The by-election was called after former Labour minister Phil Woolas’ victory in May was annulled by a court after he was found guilty of smearing a Lib Dem rival. It was the first such ruling of its kind for almost half a century.

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