Labour have been tipped to seize Burnley’s Parliamentary seat in May’s General Election with the UK Independence Party finishing second, according to a respected online poll.
If the data from LordAshcroftPolls.com is correct, Labour’s former Burnley Council leader Julie Cooper would be the town’s new MP, taking the seat from current Liberal Democrat MP Gordon Birtwistle.
The polls have Labour taking 38% of the vote, with the Lib Dems taking 23%.
UKIP, which made great strides but failed to gain a seat in last May’s Burnley Council election, is tipped to gain 25% of the vote.
Labour’s Julie Cooper said the poll was encouraging but she would not become complacent.
She said: “I know Lord Ashcroft’s polls are well respected, and the results are very encouraging. However, it is only a poll.
“I’m obviously pleased to see more people want to see a Labour MP in Burnley but I will not become complacent.
“I will continue to work hard and listen to people’s views, and I hope this lead stays with me.”
Mr Birtwistle told the Express the poll did not take into account local personalities, and he could understand why people were disaffected with his party nationally.
He said: “The Lord Ashcroft poll sampled just 1,000 people and purely asked about parties rather than local personalities.
“A Lib Dem poll in Burnley brought similar results when asking along party lines but when asked if they would vote for Gordon Birtwistle the figure changes dramatically in my favour.
“I can understand why people are not happy with the leading lights of our party, but I think on a local level Burnley people can see what has been achieved in the town in the last few years.
“I accept it will be close and tough at the election, but I will continue to work hard. The only poll that matters is the one on election day.”
The polling website was set up in 2010 by former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lord Ashcroft, who included Burnley in his latest round of constituency polling as a Lib-Dem held Labour target.
He said: “My latest round of constituency polling includes an assortment of seats and some intriguing results.
“I found the challengers comfortably ahead in Burnley, with a 13-point lead and a 10% swing.”