Poll shows pro-fracking candidates in key marginals at risk from protest vote

Despite a large amount of opposition from their own supporters, the Tories are the only party with no candidates signed up to Greenpeace's fracking pledge


In one of the most uncertain elections in a generation, fracking could become a surprisingly important issue for candidates in marginal seats.

That’s according to a major ComRes survey commissioned by Greenpeace UK, which found that nearly a third (31 per cent) of all British voters say they would be less likely to vote for candidates who back fracking in their own constituencies.

Just 13 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fracking.

An anti-shale swing could have a significant impact on the outcome of the election, as at least 35 of the seats targeted by the Tory 40:40 strategy are in areas licensed for fracking, as are 11 Labour and eight Lib Dem held constituencies with a swing of two per cent or less.

One in 10 Conservative  voters and one in five Labour voters say they would be much less likely to support a candidate who backs fracking in their area, Greenpeace’s survey shows.

Potential Lib Dem voters are the most hostile to pro-fracking candidates, with 41 per cent saying they would be less likely to vote for them. 34 per cent of Labour voters say the same, followed by 26 per cent of UKIP voters and 22 per cent of Conservatives.

Meanwhile, more than 200 Lib Dem and Labour candidates have signed a new pledge against fracking, in open defiance of their party lines. The Frack Free Promise is an online platform launched by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, to which 780 candidates have signed up so far.

Candidates pledge to oppose fracking in their constituencies or to block it across Britain if their areas have not been licensed.

The Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP all back fracking, whilst Labour have made their support conditional on the introduction of tougher regulations. The Greens are outright opposed to fracking.

The SNP have brought in a moratorium on fracking in Scotland, and the Welsh Assembly has voted to introduce a similar one in Wales after Plaid Cymru forced a vote on the issue.

Despite this variation, the Frack Free Promise has seen support across all parties – except the Conservatives.

At the time of writing, 402 Green Party, 104 Lib Dem, 100 Labour, 23 Plaid Cymru, 7 SNP, and 7 Ukip candidates had taken the pledge.

No Tory candidates have signed up so far.

Friends of the Earth fracking campaigner Donna Hume said:

“The scale of support for our Frack Free Promise will leave parliamentary candidates in little doubt as to the political toxicity of fracking. It’s clearer than ever that backing fracking will spell electoral disaster for prospective MPs on May 7.

 “The scale of the planetary crisis is such that decisions made in the next parliament will make or break our chances of preventing dangerous climate change. Whoever is elected must consign fracking and the reckless dash for shale gas to the dustbin of history.”

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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