Tory lead cut to four in new poll

Latest YouGov poll suggests a hung parliament remains the most likely outcome of the election.

New Statesman - Polls Guide_1272220939606

Latest poll (YouGov/Sun) Labour 59 seats short of a majority.

Britain remains on course for a hung parliament at the election, according to a new opinion poll which shows the Conservatives' lead falling to four points.

The latest daily YouGov poll for the Sun puts the Tories down one to 34 per cent, the Lib Dems up two to 30 per cent and Labour up one to 28 per cent. If repeated at the election on a uniform swing, the figures would leave Labour 59 seats short of a majority in a hung parliament.

The poll suggests that support for the Lib Dems, though down from a peak of 34 per cent last week, remains strong and that Nick Clegg's party could push Labour into third place for the first time since 1918.

The New Statesman Poll of Polls, based on the last five opinion polls, has the Tories on 34.8 per cent, the Lib Dems on 28.2 per cent and Labour on 27.8 per cent.

New Statesman Poll of Polls

New Statesman - Polls Guide_1272220982594

Hung Parliament, Conservatives 55 seats short.


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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.