The Telegraph's interpretation of its new YouGov poll is that support for the Tories is beginning to cool. Although the Tory lead is holding reasonably steady at 5% it believes that the lead should be greater. George Jones and Brendan Carlin write:
"Given the Government's difficulties, with the cash-for-peerages row, the problems at the Home Office, John Prescott becoming a laughing stock and a series of policy U-turns, the Conservatives ought to be much further ahead of Labour. After Mr Cameron won the Tory leadership election in December, people seemed impressed by his performance. Six months ago, 46 per cent of YouGov's respondents thought he was "proving a good leader of the Conservative Party". That figure has fallen to 35 per cent. The proportion who think he is not proving effective has nearly doubled from 19 to 33 per cent."
Professor Anthony King is equally downbeat:
"The Tories today are no better off than they were under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. David Cameron's election as Tory leader last December has so far made remarkably little difference. An initial tick upwards has been followed by several ticks downwards. Voters still seem not to know who the Tories are or what they stand for."
Professor King thinks that the economy is underpinning Labour:
"The Conservative Party's principal asset - almost its only asset apart from its core of loyal supporters - is evidently the Blair Government.... Only 36 per cent of those who bothered to go to the polls at the 2005 election voted Labour. According to YouGov, 33 per cent say they would still vote Labour today. In other words, despite a chaotic reshuffle, evidence of gross mismanagement in government departments, "loans for peerages" and John Prescott's 10-gallon hat, Labour support over the ensuing 15 months has dropped by only three points. The explanation must lie overwhelmingly in the Tory Party's continued lack of popular appeal and in the fact that the economy, if not exactly buoyant, remains in most people's eyes in reasonably good shape."