Tory lead just six points in latest poll

David Cameron's performance in the final leaders' debate fails to boost Conservative support.

New Statesman - Polls Guide_1272655965021

Latest poll (YouGov/Sun) Conservatives 54 seats short of a majority.

David Cameron's performance in the final televised leaders' debate has failed to improvesupport for the Conservatives, according to the first opinion poll to be published since the event.

The latest daily YouGov survey for the Sun had the Conservatives unchanged on 34 per cent, with the Lib Dems also unchanged on 28 per cent and Labour up one to 28 per cent.

If repeated at the election on a uniform swing, the latest figures would leave David Cameron 54 seats short of a majority in a hung parliament.

New Statesman Poll of Polls

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Hung Parliament, Conservatives 50 seats short.

UPDATE: A new Harris survey for tomorrow's Daily Mail puts the Tories' lead at just one point. The topline figures are Con 33 per cent (-1), Lib Dem 32 per cent (+2) and Lab 24 per cent (-1).

If repeated at the election on a uniform swing, the figures would leave the Tories 47 seats short of a majority.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.