Poll: Purna Sen and Caroline Lucas 'neck-and-neck' in Brighton Pavilion

Purna Sen, the Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion, and Caroline Lucas, the sitting Green MP
Purna Sen, the Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion, and Caroline Lucas, the sitting Green MP

Private polling shows that it is "neck and neck" between Purna Sen and Caroline Lucas, the sitting Green MP.

Private polling shows that it is "neck-and-neck" between Purna Sen, Labour's parliamentary candidate, and Caroline Lucas, the sitting Green MP, in Brighton Pavilion constituency.

The findings come after polling by Lord Ashcroft, the multi-millionaire businessman and former treasurer of the Conservative Party.

In an article on the Conservative Home website, Lord Ashcroft said: "In Brighton Pavilion ... I found Labour on 33 per cent, just one point ahead of the Greens, who were up a point on the last election. The seat will evidently be closely contested, but on this basis I would not be surprised to see Caroline Lucas holding on next year."

The news brought a swift response from the Green Party. Adam McGibbon, Ms Lucas's campaign manager, said: “This poll, essentially showing Greens and Labour neck and neck, is very good news for the Greens. It shows that, even this far out from the election, with all of the national debate focussing on Labour and Tories, in Brighton Pavilion voters are still bucking the trend once again.

“We echo Lord Ashcroft's own view - this will be a closely-contested race, in which Caroline retains a very strong position. Caroline is a fantastic MP, relentlessly standing up for what matters to her constituents, and her track record speaks for itself.

“Her voice in Parliament is extremely strong and she holds solid political sway. Whether it's standing up for the NHS, affordable housing, a safer environment, or keeping public services in public hands - Caroline fights for what matters and she gets it on the political agenda.”

In his article, Lord Ashcroft said the Green Party’s performance across the country suggests they may have been identified as the new “none-of-the-above” vote for former Lib Dems who dislike the coalition and do not want to back any of the established parties.

In other words, he said, they could perform the same function for younger urban voters that UKIP currently does among older voters in other parts of the country.

Responding to the poll findings, Ms Sen said: "The latest Ashcroft polling in Brighton Pavilion is, of course, encouraging, as it puts Labour ahead of the Green Party.  It reflects what we have been hearing on the doorstep and when listening to local residents: that support for the Green Party is ebbing and for Labour is growing. The same poll shows that Pavilion residents would prefer a Labour government (43%) over a Conservative one (20%). Opposition to this government's policies is widespread.

"Opinion polls are not election results and I shall continue to work hard to listen to local residents, hear their concerns and put my efforts towards returning a Labour MP with a hotline to a Labour government. The voters of Pavilion deserve to have an MP with influence."