LONDON: Britain's ruling Conservatives took a five point lead over Labour in an Ipsos-MORI survey Thursday, the latest poll to show David Cameron's party gaining an edge just seven days before a knife-edge election.
The Conservatives and Ed Miliband's opposition Labour Party have been neck-and-neck in most polls since the start of the year, but by Thursday seven of the 10 pollsters covering the May 7 election had Cameron's Conservatives ahead.
In a poll for London's Evening Standard newspaper, Ipsos MORI put that lead at five points, after the Conservatives gained two percentage points to hold 35 percent support and Labour dropped five percentage points to 30 percent.
The results helped to keep sterling near a two-month high against a weak dollar.
The election, which could determine Britain's place in the European Union and Scotland's future in the United Kingdom, is the closest since the 1970s with neither of the two main parties able to open up a big enough lead to rule alone.
Surveys show that, instead, millions of voters are flocking to once-marginal parties, especially in Scotland where the Scottish National Party (SNP) looks set to make major gains, and in England where both big parties are losing votes to the anti-EU UKIP.
At a briefing in London, Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI's Social Research Institute, said the poll had picked up on the recent trend of the Conservatives gaining momentum but that there were too many moving parts to make a definite prediction.
Skinner said that due to the way Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system works, Labour could win an overall majority with a 3.5 to 5.5 percentage point lead, while the Conservatives would need nearer an 8 point lead or above.
However the strong growth in the smaller parties could still undermine those traditional rules.
"In Scotland Labour will pile up votes in second place in an awful lot of seats but win almost no seats, so their vote nationally will become much less efficient than it has been," said Philip Cowley, Professor of Parliamentary Government at the University of Nottingham.
The SNP has surged in popularity north of the border since it failed to win September's independence referendum and now looks set to emerge from the UK-wide election as a key player in Westminster.
An Ipsos-MORI poll of Scottish voters Wednesday predicted it could win all Scotland's seats next week and wipe out Labour in what was once its stronghold.