Poll boosts for the Tories and Lib Dems as the campaign opens
With Tony Blair due to announce the election date today four new polls this morning show that the race could be much tighter than was being forecast. All of them show Labour leads over the Conservatives to be on the decline and one has Michael Howard’s party five points ahead. The polls are with changes on the last surveys from each pollster are:-
NOP in the Independent has LAB 36 (-2): CON 33 (-1) : LD 21 (+2).
ICM in the Guardian has LAB 37(-3): CON 34 (+2): LD 21(+1).
Populus in the Times has LAB 37(-2): CON 35(+3): LD 19 (-1)
MORI in the Financial Times has LAB 34(-3): CON 39(+2) LD 21(nc)
All these polls took place following the controversial sacking and removal as a Conservative candidiate of Howard Flight which many pundits believed would do serious damage to the Tories. It clearly hasn’t and the the almost nil reaction on betting markets seems to have been the right one.
The Flight case shows that punters were much more in tune with public opinion than the pundits some of whom were talking last week of a “Tory meltdown”
It should be noted that ICM, Populus and NOP are telephone surveys which weight the responses by past vote recall and also prompt for party choice. The MORI poll is face to face and, as usual, the headline totals show only those who said they were “absolutely certain to vote” – a factor that has had the pollster showing better Tory figures than the other for several months.
For Labour the hope will be that a close race will galvanise their supporter and boost turnout.
For the Conservatives these figures are a huge boost for Michael Howard and his Australian campaign manager Lynton Crosby.
For the Lib Dems there will be relief that there is no other poll with a rating near to the 16% that CR had on Sunday and real optimism that they will be starting the campaign in a substantially better position than four years ago.