Labour cuts Tory lead to 9 points

Back in hung parliament territory

The latest Guardian/ICM poll has just been published and shows the Conservatives' lead cut to 9 points, a result that on a uniform swing would leave David Cameron six seats short of a Commons majority. The Tories are down 2 points to 40 per cent, with Labour up 2 points to 31 per cent.

I expected Labour's poll ratings to be hit by the widely derided pre-Budget report, but aside from the ComRes poll at the weekend that gave the Tories a 17-point lead, they seem to have held up. Perhaps the popular bonus supertax has made all the difference.

The fact the polls are still pointing towards a hung parliament will intensify the debate over a 25 March election in Labour circles. As I've argued elsewhere today, Brown should prepare to call an early election.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.