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I think your headline might have pointed out that the two parties are now neck-and-neck Ed. That kind of news management is a bit Daily Mail and doesn't reflect well on you. I know this is a Conservative supporting website, but honesty is always the best policy. What this poll shows me, is that the Tories still have a long way to go before they can fell confident they have done enough to ensure a GE win.

The parties are not neck-and-neck. The Conservatives are ahead.

Let's have a look at past (recent) Populus polls.

December 9th - 11th 2005 Political Attitudes The Times :
Labour 38%
Conservative 35%

January 6th - January 8th 2006
Published in The Times:
Labour 39%
Conservative 36%

Fieldwork: March 3rd - March 5th 2006
Published in The Times
Labour 35%
Conservative 35%

More recent Populus polls show small Tory leads, but there's no significant difference between this and previous polls.

Labour has had good press over its conference period, and yet the Tories are still ahead.

The Tories do not need to win elections in 2006, they need to win in 2009.

So the exact standing under Blair and change of +-2% in Tory lead just isn't as interesting as the fact that Blair will be standing down within 9 months and the evidence is that the Tories will be doing better when Blair is not standing.

For the first time in 3 elections, WE DO NOT NEED TO BEAT BLAIR.

Forget Blair.

If the two main parties are within the 4% error margin they are neck and neck!

I am more concerned about Conservative principles (and yes policy) than I am about the polls given we are miles from an election.

You are WRONG to make comments SUCH AS - - "The Tory lead rises to 8%"- - 9depending on labour ;eader)

The Tory lead remains UNCHANGED because the 1% lead is based oln how people say they will VOTE. Preference for a leader is useful knowledge and beloved of "spinners". The headline lead is what matters.

When you look at the detailed figures on any such polls (eg ICM last week) the increased Tory lead ALWAYS contains preferences from those who say they will VOTE Labour though preferring Cameron. Voprers refuse to be tidy.

Whichever way you spin it, this is another example of the Cameron bubble - if not bursting - leaking massively.

Re my last: The Vopres are ALWAYS tidy . It's the VOTERS who refuse to cooperate


The Labour Party appear to be benefiting from the gradual decline of the LibDems. When Cameron starts stealing from the right of the LibDems the lead will be unambiguous.

The poll is hardly the most encouraging one.

Regretably Christina you continue to manipulate the figures to suit your anti Cameron agenda.

Polls should be taken in long term trends and the inescapable conclusion is that Cameron has reversed the substantial Labour poll leads and given the Tories a sustained if modest poll lead.

With as long as three and a half years to a 2010 election Cameron has provided a platform for the Conservatives to deny Labour a majority government and perhaps even a small Tory majority.

I think at times some Tories on this site fail to recognize the scale of the electoral challenge facing them. It is huge. A strong third party, well dug in in many areas and the prospect of differential swing in the Midlands and Northern marginals and no sign of any recovery in Scotland lend the challenge even greater pause for thought.

Nevertheless Cameron has turned an electoral corner. It remains to be seen whether the new road is a dead end or the highway to sun lit Tory uplands.

The jury is still out, although if you were the Foreman I'd guess you'd already have pronounced prisioner Cameron guilty of crimes against idealogical purity and the scaffold would beckon. Fortunately the mass of voters have given him a reprieve and they await developments. May I suggest you do the same.

The Labour Party appear to be benefiting from the gradual decline of the LibDems. When Cameron starts stealing from the right of the LibDems the lead will be unambiguous"

I don't think there is much of a Lib Dem right wing to steal from. I accept there is a type of voter that votes Lib Dem in local elections, and Conservative at Parliamentary level, but that's not the same thing.

I reckon a good 15% of the population are europhile, left wing, quite socially liberal (but still believing society can be improved by regulation) and vote Lib Dem for that reason.

I actually think there are more votes to be gained from the right of the Labour Party (in fact, if we want to make headway in the North, it's essential we gain such votes).

Jack W. - I've not manipulated anything. The "Poll of Polls" WAS running at around 6.8 - 7% lead. It's now on 3.2% and anywhichway you look at that, the Tory lead is shrinking. You say the Tory lead is being "sustained". This flies in the face of the figures.

I agree that the only opinion poll that can be "used" is the one just before the polling day that actually matters but it's no good indulging in wishful thinking. The minimum lead needed is 10%. It was 6.8% and is now 3.2%.

My comments on the preference for leaders is just that - preference. It is NOT voting intention.

Actually, if the Times write up is correct, the figures ARE voting intentions depending on who is Labour leader, implying the question was "If Gordon Brown/Alan Johnson/John Reid was Labour leader, which party would you vote for", not "who would you prefer as Prime Minister". Unfortunately this poll does not yet appear on the Populus website so there is no way to be sure. However, if the question asked was similar to the first one above, it IS valid to say that "the Tory lead rises to x%" depending on who is Labour leader.

Peter - If your belief is confirmed then you are right of course, though I wonder if a degree of confusion might not have crept in if they've changed horses in midstream!!

I've just been scouring the ACTUAL figures on Sunday's ICM poll to assess the reality behind the figures. ICM has excluded those who say they will not vote, refuse to answer the question or don’t know who they would vote for

Oct 4/5 Certain NOT to vote 12% (18-24 20%)
Don’t knows 19%
Refused answer 9%

BOOM BOOM!!! That's 40% in total!!!!!!!

Re: Sean's comments @ 11:28. Sean, I think you're right about that proportion of people who hold the views you describe, and the Orange Bookers are completely unrepresentative of the activists in the Lib Dems, but I think there are still loads of basically Tory middle class people (especially in the South) who vote Lib Dem because they think that votng Conservative is what 'selfish old bigots' do (the exact words of the wife of the deputy head of my school, who might not be a headbanger but is not leftwing). They allow themselves to do so because: 1) the Lib dems will never form a government and 2) this myth that Lib Dems make "great constituency MPs".

" I think there are still loads of basically Tory middle class people (especially in the South) who vote Lib Dem because they think that votng Conservative is what 'selfish old bigots' do "

How numerous that particular group is is, I suppose, the key to the whole Cameron strategy. I don't think they're significant in more than a handful of constituencies in the South.

More numerous are, I think, middle class people who used to vote Conservative simply because that's what middle class people did - without really having anything in common with the Conservatives. They now vote for left wing parties (eg Manchester Withington, Hornsey & Wood Green, Oxford, Sheffield Hallam) because they reflect their convictions (a mirror image of the way that Southern working class voters have switched from Labour over the past 30 years).

The strange thing to me is how none of the three main parties seem to have any interest in the votes of the traditional working class, 'blue collar' manual workers and similar. Labour take them for granted*, assuming that they're dependent on state hand outs and council houses and will vote like sheep, the Lib Dems share none of their values, and most strangely the Conservatives seem to have no interest in reaching out to them, yet in the USA (and I think in Australia) their shift from left to right has been the bedrock of Conservative electoral dominance. Instead everyone seems to be fighting for the votes of young professional metropolitan women, surely a smaller demographic even in London?

*Except possibly when they threaten to vote BNP.

White, blue-collar, workers are not very numerous in London, which may explain why three metropolitan-dominated parties may overlook them (they are of course, very numerous in much of the Country outside London).

However, I think you are quite correct that the section of the electorate that Cameron is targetting is quite different from that of foreign conservatives.

Simon has a valid point. It is the C1's and C2's who are most likely to return us to power, yet they are those who are rapidly becoming the most disenfranchised in the current climate. None of the main parties seems to be looking at policies that would attract their vote.

During last years local elections I stood in a what was seen as being solid Labour ward yet came close to winning it. Many of the comments I had during the campaign were of "we never see your lot round here" effect. By failing to engage these voters we do run the risk that they will vote for parties such as the BNP as they feel a need to express their dissatisfaction with the current political process. Someone mentioned earlier that we seem to be going left when everyone else is going right.

Much is made of the fact that traditional political allegiances no longer exist yet current strategies seem to assume that they do which I find odd. However, as Sean mentions it may be the 'London' effect that causes this. Could other posters provide me with an update of their own experiences of the changes that are occurring in this area?

Christina Speight: those figures suggest a turnout of 60%, which isn't too bad.

I would just like to add: poor old Sir Ming. Nobody likes dull people, and it's even worse if one happens to be leader of a political party. I don't care how principled people think they are, charisma wins votes. Blair excels at this, and Cameron is a reasonably good second.

Boring old sods like Sir Ming and Gordon Brown are more use as Foreign Secretaries or Chancellors.

It's little wonder Blair is hanging on for dear life. He wants to give his party a fighting chance. But who has the charisma to take on Cameron?

Good Lord! Even the traditional post conference "bounce" lasted all of, what, 48 hours. How many more excuses will the Cameroons give us for the Conservative failure to pull away from Labour in the polls? However you spin it, a (very) slim lead (and - within the bounds of statistical error - a possible slim trail) against a failing administration is not a mark of success.

Not sure where on the site to post this question, but hopefully people will see it here and answer, and it does relate indirectly to our opinion poll standing.

I keep hearing from Cameron opponents (of the left and right) that "there are 15 Old Etonians in the Shadow Cabinet". Can anyone list who these 15 OEs are and also how big the Shadow Cabinet now is, because I thought it would only be about the same size as the real Cabinet, i.e. about 20 or 22, and the 15 figure must be wrong as a proportion of that. Even if it means 15 frontbenchers (if so, out of how many - probably at least 60 or 70 surely?), I would be surprised. I will start the ball rolling with Cameron himself, and Letwin, in the Shadow Cabinet, plus Boris as a front bench spokesman. Maybe Swire is, and whoever is leader and/or Chief Whip in the Lords (but haven't confirmed those). So can we have the others please before this enters accepted mythology?

This particular figure seems to come from a sloppy Guardian headline. The second headline to the article states that the "shadow cabinet is home to 15 Old Etonians". The article however states that 15 out of 130 front bench office holders are Old Etonians. It goes on to state that the Shadow Cabinet has 3 Old Etonians amongst the 24 members - rather less than the 15 in the headline! The list of Old Etonians included in the article only has 14 names on it, so either they can't count or there is someone missing.

The 14 are David Cameron, Oliver Letwin, Hugo Swire, Bill Wiggin, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Boris Johnson, Viscount Bridgeman, Viscount Astor, Lord de Mauley, Lord Cope of Berkeley, Lord Glentoran, Lord Skelmersdale, Lord Luke and Lord Astor of Hever.

The only way to reach the 40% is to take votes from the LibDems. They are incredibly weak on the local income tax but we never mention it in leaflets or websites. Perhaps Conservative home could do a chart outlining how double income households would be hard hit across the countyr. Also single occupiers would lose their 25% discount. This would bring rightwing libdem voters home.

To add more evidence of the Guardian's inability to count, the Shadow Cabinet is actually 25 strong and contains 4 Old Etonians - David Cameron, Oliver Letwin, Hugo Swire and Lord Cope of Berkeley. And they can't say it is because they didn't count Cameron - their article specifically states that he IS included in their count of Shadow Cabinet Old Etonians!

Peter Harrison, thank you very much re Old Etonians. Isn't this website good for getting prompt and accurate answers?!

So, 6 frontbenchers in the Commons: I would not be at all surprised if that's lower than at most times in the last 50 years, including from 1964-2005 when there were State school educated Leaders (Heath had about 8 Etonians in his final Cabinet, i.e. nearly half, as I recall). The other shocking result is that there are Old Etonian Tories in the House of Lords. Amazing.

Clearly the real key influence on Cameron is these 8 peers and Boris. Who would have thought? Apart from Oliver Letwin, and without any disrespect, I should think this lot have about as much collective influence on Cameron as the cyclists he passes on the way to work.

The trouble is Blair might change his mind and stay on to fight the next election as leader.

Re mine at 18:31 - sorry, Boris probably IS one of the cyclists Cameron passes on the way to work...

"those figures suggest a turnout of 60%, which isn't too bad" Whoa there! The "certain to vote' question was on a sliding scale and if you add in thoise who MIGHT not vote the Not Voters rises to 88% - WOE! Won't happen but that's what the poll's figures are.

Dave B:- "The only way to reach the 40% is to take votes from the LibDems" Oh no! You look at the demographics and the best way is to recapture the defected Tories. You won't do that with Cameron
I published here the Etonians in the KITCHEN cabinet. They were almost 100% Old Etonian - the exception's girl friend was Old Benenden! MY objection is not the school but the totally incestuous nature of such a clique

Vote losers:
Anything to do with war.

Liam Fox - Military option must be kept open on Iran

That statement alone puts us back 5%

Simons point is worth debate. We do need to appeal to c1s and c2s, although perhaps more so in the North. I've found that in some areas we do click with them, it depends to some extent on the candidate as well. However more people aspire to and are becoming "middle class" and not necessarily feeling they have to vote Conservative. This was in part an image thing which DC has tried to resolve and the inclusion of position stements as well, like recently on the NHS will help in this regard. However it sis worth bearing in mind that C1s and C2s are very practically minded and it may be that "clever" image PR will be make less impact on them,


To Christina Speight - can you provide a link or say where on the site your analysis of Cameron's Old Etonian "kitchen cabinet" is? I'd be interested to see this because, as my previous post showed, I think there may be some myth making here. I need to see your list, but are you sufficiently certain of the "membership" of such a body for such an analysis to be valid?

The strange thing to me is how none of the three main parties seem to have any interest in the votes of the traditional working class
Far fewer than there used to be and they are the least likely to turn out or be interested at all.

The trouble is Blair might change his mind and stay on to fight the next election as leader.
He can't, once he said that he was not going to fight a fourth General Election then if he decided to follow Mrs Thatcher in changing his mind and trying to go on and on then his own party would remove him, especially after such a long time in which it dominated the news - if he changed his mind then Labour members, MP's and voters would be annoyed that all that fuss had been for nothing and having raised expectations of many of his opponents in the Labour Party and ministers and MP's looking forward to getting more senior positions when Tony Blair steps down would move against him.

This poll is an eye-opener. It's amazing how well Tony Blair seems to rate still, despite Iraq and all the other burdens for which he is expected to take sole responsibility. True, Cameron is seen as more trustworthy. But before becoming PM so was Blair in comparison to the Tories at that time. That's to be expected.

Personally, as someone who has NEVER voted Labour, I think his treatment at the hands of his party is an abomination and they should be begging him to stay. Your contributor above is probably correct, though. Even if events meant that staying was the right thing to do, his fratricidal party would soon have him for breakfast.

I'm on a lone mission (it would seem) to get Mr Blair to stay - Keep Tony Blair For PM. I'm questioning the whole business of his party forcing him out, since people across the political spectrum voted for him as the leader of his party. Yes, I know the party has the power to change leaders. But can you imagine them getting rid of Blair a few months after his first or second victory? Can you magine the Conservatives getting rid of Thatcher just after hers? The country would have been up in arms. And normally removing a PM would be done for sensible reasons such as illness, madness or corruption. OK, OK, stop chuckling! Presuming none of the above applies, and his achilles heel is Iraq, for which there is cabinet responsibility surely, it's my belief that they should not force Blair out without recourse to the electorate. Let them call a general election.

I know this may not be the place for this line of thought, but it might be that Cameron will have more of a chance facing Blair in the next election than facing his successor.

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