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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Gerald Kaufman dies aged 86

Before becoming an MP, Kaufman's varied career included a stint as the NS' theatre critic.

Gerald Kaufman, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and former theatre critic at the New Statesman, has died.

Kaufman, who served as the MP for Manchester Gorton continuously from 1970, had a varied career before entering Parliament, working for the Fabian Society in addition to his flourishing career in journalism and as a satirist, writing for That Was The Week That Was and as a leader writer on the Mirror. In 1965, he exchanged the press for politics, working as a press officer and an aide to Harold Wilson before he was elected to parliament in 1970.

Upon Labour’s return to office in 1974, he served as a junior minister until the party’s defeat in 1979, and on the opposition frontbenches until 1992, reaching the position of shadow foreign secretary. In 1999, he was chair of the Man Booker Prize, which that year was won by JM Coetzee’s Disgrace.

His death opens up a by-election in Manchester Gorton, which Labour is expected to win. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.