LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party is three percentage points ahead of the Labour 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 Labour 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, Labour on 31 percent, the Lib Dems 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 Labour 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