The latest internal polling from the Labour campaign in North Shropshire indicates that the Conservative lead in the by-election has been narrowed to seven points.
Conservative candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst’s lead over Labour’s Ben Wood is now in single digits, according to the opposition party’s campaign in the seat. 33% of residents are reportedly backing Wood while 40% support Shastri-Hurst.
Internal polling from Labour North Shropshire:
Con: 40% (-23)
Lab: 33% (+11)
LDem: 11% (+1)
Reform: 7% (+7)
Grn: 2% (-1)
Changes with 2019 general election.
Boris Johnson visited the constituency last week amid reports that the Tories are increasingly worried about retaining their hold on the previously safe seat. Johnson was criticised as he got the Tory candidate’s name wrong.
“Boris Johnson’s panic visit on Friday was a response to their worsening poll position. They had already suffered a massive setback in the Old Bexley and Sidcup election the previous day and he was desperately trying to shore up their position in North Shropshire. He is clearly losing votes to Labour and a small number to Reform UK.
“Labour has fielded the only candidate actually born in the constituency, Ben Wood. He is young and energetic and winning many people over,” David Hallam said.
The former Labour MEP for Shropshire added: “Time after time, our canvassers are being told that they just don’t think Johnson is up to the job of leading the country and they are beginning to look seriously at Labour as an alternative.”
North Shropshire has been held by the Conservatives since its creation. Paterson, the MP for the seat since 1997, was returned in 2019 with 62.7% of the vote and a 22,949-vote majority. Labour has come second in every election since 1997 with the exception of 2010, when the Lib Dems received 1,458 more votes.
The Lib Dems reported over the weekend that they have closed the Tory lead in the by-election race, based on their own internal polling, telling The Guardian that support for their candidate rose from 32% to 38% in the past two weeks while the Conservative vote has fallen from 52% to 44%.
Journalist Michael Savage, who wrote the story, reported that other local parties described the claims from the Lib Dem campaign as “incredibly dubious”.
Anthony Allen, formerly a Conservative councillor in North Shropshire, today defected just ten days before the by-election. He has joined the Reclaim Party, founded by political activist Laurence Fox, as its first elected representative.
Labour took 22% of the vote in 2019 while the Lib Dems were backed by 10% of residents. According to the internal polling from Labour today, Lib Dem Helen Morgan’s vote share is currently 11%, which is 22 points behind Wood.
The figures suggest that support for the Tories has fallen by 23 percentage points since 2019, while support for Labour has increase by 11 points, the Lib Dems one point. The Green Party has seen its vote share fall by one point.
Right-wing party Reform UK, created following the 2019 election as a successor to the Brexit Party, is supported by 7% of voters, according to the polling by Labour.
Paterson triggered the by-election when he stepped down from his role as MP after a cross-party committee had found him guilty of an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules that saw him paid more than £110,000 on top of his salary.
The by-election, set to take place on December 16th, will follow the vote in Old Bexley and Sidcup – a by-election in south-east London caused by the death of former Conservative MP James Brokenshire earlier this year.
The vote in London last week saw the Conservatives hold the historically safe Tory seat, but the party saw its 2019 vote share of 65% and majority of nearly 19,000 cut to 4,478 as the new MP Louie French securing 52% of the vote.
Labour increased its vote share from 23.5% to 30.9% with a 10.3% swing towards Keir Starmer’s party. Neighbouring Labour MP Ellie Reeves described the outcome as a “fantastic” result, adding: “If replicated at a general election, Labour would be within reach of forming a majority government.”
Both the North Shropshire and Old Bexley and Sidcup elections follow numerous reports of potential rule breaches by MPs in relation to outside interests and a wider debate on whether and to what extent they should be able to hold second jobs.
The government sparked outrage early last month after it initially whipped Conservative MPs to reject the recommended sanction of Paterson. Ministers subsequently U-turned and the disgraced backbencher resigned.
Ipsos Mori research during the row showed the Tories losing their poll lead. Polling towards the end of November by Survation and Savanta ComRes had the two main parties tied in first place, while Opinium had Labour two points ahead.