David Cameron has seen Labour pull further ahead in polling by Tory donor, Lord Ashcroft
David Cameron has seen Labour pull further ahead in polling by Tory donor, Lord AshcroftGetty

Labour has increased its lead over the Conservative party according to polling by Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft, ahead of this week's Newark by-election.

Ed Miliband has seen his party's lead move up three points to 34%, a lead of nine points over David Cameron's Tories, according to national figures.

The advantage is well in the realms of what psephologists deem acceptable for an opposition party hoping to form a majority government at this stage of an electoral cycle – less than one year out from the next General Election.

Poll results showed the Tories down four points on 25%, the Liberal Democrats on a dismal six points and Labour up three points, on 34%.

The latest figures echo recent research by Ashcroft carried out in marginal seats, which found Labour ahead 10 points of the Conservative party. Under those figures, Labour would gain 83 seats at the 2015 election.

Meanwhile, in Thursday's Newark by-election, the polling showed the Tories on 42 per cent, Ukip second on 27 per cent and Labour third on 20 per cent.

The numbers represent a fall in support for all three main parties in Newark, down 12 points for Cameron's party, down 14 points for the beleagured Liberal Democrats and down two points for Labour.

Anti-EU Ukip saw support for it shoot up 23 points in the constituency vacated by disgraced MP Patrick Mercer, who resigned over accepting payments to lobby for a fictional Fiji lobbying group.

Nigel Farage's Ukip are hoping to score an upset in Newark, a Conservative stronghold with a majority of around 16,000. Farage and candidate former Tory Roger Helmer have been pressing the flesh in bid to embarrass Cameron in a safe Tory seat.

But the Tory high command will be satisfied with 15pt cushion.

Ukip voters were most pessimistic about the state of the nation, with half claiming that both their families and the country were worse off since 2010. Half of Conservatie voters though the economy was stronger now, but only just over a third said they had felt the benefits.

Meanwhile, 70% of respondents to Ashcroft's poll said the national situation would be the same or worse if Labour was in power.

A new Populist online poll also showed Labour advancing with 37% support, Conservative on 32%, Ukip on 13% and Lib Dems polling 10%.

LordAshcroftPolls.com quizzed 1,000 people.