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23 March 2010

Labour cuts Tory poll lead despite troubles

Will the Tories ever deliver a deathblow to the government?

By George Eaton

New Statesman - Polls Guide_1269340065886

Latest poll (Sun/YouGov): Labour 31 seats short of a majority

With industrial strife, a sleaze scandal and a record Budget deficit on its hands, you’d expect Labour to be languishing in the polls. But instead, the latest polls show the party narrowing the gap on the Tories.

The YouGov daily tracker put the Conservatives down 2 to 36 per cent, with Labour up 1 to 32 per cent. Meanwhile, a new Opinium survey for the Express shows the Tories’ lead falling 4 points to 7 per cent.

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We’ve all become slightly desensitised to the falling Conservative lead, but it’s still remarkable for it to be this small at this stage of the electoral cycle.

New Statesman poll of polls

New Statesman - Polls Guide_1269340116897

Hung parliament; Labour 38 seats short

I’m not surprised that the Tories’ attack on the trade unions and their claim that we’ve regressed to an era of 1970s militantism has had no discernible effect on the polls.

Most voters are astute enough to realise that there is no comparison between 1979, when 29.47 million working days were lost to industrial action, and the past year, when, even including recent disputes, well under a million have been lost.

In retrospect, the Tories may regret their decision to concentrate so much fire on Labour’s links with the unions, rather than focusing on the economy and public services.

But otherwise, if the Conservatives can’t deal a deathblow to the government this week, one has to wonder if they ever will.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has gone on the attack over Labour’s claim that the Tories would scrap the winter fuel allowance, accusing ministers of “telling lies” and describing them as “appalling people”.

It is unusual for a party leader to launch such a personal attack, mainly because voters hope and expect figures at this level to use more restrained and civil language.

It proves once again that the Tories still lack an attack dog to do that sort of work for them.

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