Cameron first Tory since 1987 to start with a poll lead

Cameron is the first Tory leader for 23 years to enter an election campaign ahead of Labour.

David Cameron may be far from certain to win a majority at the election but he is still the first Conservative Party leader since 1987 to enter the campaign with a clear poll lead.

Here are the results of polls conducted just before each of the past five elections was called. All figures are taken from ICM.

 

12 May 1987

Conservatives 43%

Labour 29%

Liberal Democrats 25%

7 March 1992

Conservatives 39%

Labour 42%

Liberal Democrats 15%

2 March 1997

Conservatives 30%

Labour 48%

Liberal Democrats 16%

22 April 2001

Conservatives 33%

Labour 47%

Liberal Democrats 14%

3 April 2005

Conservatives 34%

Labour 37%

Liberal Democrats 21%

 

Today's Guardian/ICM poll puts the Tories on 37 per cent, with Labour 4 points behind on 33 per cent.

It's still remarkable to think that while a 3 per cent lead in 2005 (Labour won 35.3 per cent to the Tories' 32.3 per cent of the actual vote) was enough to give Tony Blair an overall majority of 66, a Tory lead of 4 per cent would likely leave Labour as the single largest party in the Commons.

Only twice since the Second World War (in 1951 and in February 1974) has the party with the most votes not won the most seats in parliament.

If the Tories are the winning party in votes but the losing party in seats, we can expect to see a series of newspaper headlines declaring: "Crisis as winning party loses election".

The resultant anger and confusion could transform the dimensions of the debate about electoral reform.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.