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Ken Clarke: the Tories would lose an election now

A revealing admission from the Justice Secretary.

The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke yawns at Trent Bridge.
The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke yawns at Trent Bridge. Photograph: EMPICS.

Ken Clarke was in mid-season form on the Today programme this morning, batting away demands for an EU referendum ("I cannot think of anything sillier to do"), declaring that the Tories would lose a general election if one were hold now and mischievously explaining his nap at Trent Bridge ("My young friends me tell me its callled chillaxing").

Clarke's admission that, as things stand, the Conservatives would lose an election might seem like a statement of the obvious. The latest YouGov poll puts Labour 11 points ahead of the Tories, a lead that would give Labour a majority of 118 seats on the current constituency boundaries. But given that support for the governing party tends to increase in advance of a general election, as the opposition comes under greater scrutiny, it is still a notable concession. Until recently, the Tories dismissed Labour's poll lead on the grounds that Ed Miliband was unelectable. That they are no longer able to do so is the best evidence of how much the political weather has changed since the Budget.

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