February 9, 2015 / 4:48 PM / 3 years ago

Poll gives UK Cameron's Conservatives small lead before May election

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron examines a manufactured piece of metal during a visit to the Spooner engineering works in Ilkley, northern England February 5, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party is three percentage points ahead of the opposition Labor Party, an opinion poll showed on Monday, three months before a May 7 national election in Britain.

A three point lead, broadly within the margin of error of most opinion polls, underlines how close the contest, billed as the most unpredictable in modern British history, really is.

Most recent polls have put Labor narrowly in the lead or neck and neck with the Conservatives.

Monday’s poll, funded by Michael Ashcroft, a former deputy chairman of the Conservatives, put Cameron’s party on 34 percent, Labor on 31 percent, the Liberal Democrats on 9 percent, the Greens on 6 percent and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) on 14 percent.

Analysts believe Cameron’s party would need to open up a lead of up to seven percentage points to have a realistic chance of winning the election outright under Britain’s winner takes all voting system. A quirk of the current system means Labor could win a majority with a smaller lead of around five points.

The poll was conducted on Feb. 6-8 and interviewed 1,003 adults by phone. Results were weighted. Ashcroft polls, despite the political past of their funder, are widely accepted to be authoritative and impartial.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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