Blow to Conservatives as Labour increases poll lead

A revival in Conservative support among voters appears to have stalled after the first round of pre-election skirmishing, according to the latest YouGov poll for The Telegraph today.

Labour has regained a six-point lead while the Tories have failed to hold on to a brief surge in support as a result of Michael Howard's high-profile campaign on immigration and asylum.

Last month YouGov had Labour and the Conservatives only one percentage point apart.

Its latest internet survey puts Labour on 38 per cent (up three), the Tories on 32 (down two) and the Liberal Democrats on 21 (down one).

The YouGov poll will come as a relief to Labour MPs, who had been unnerved by two conventional polls earlier this week suggesting that the Tories were closing the gap.

An ICM poll showed Labour's lead over the Tories had been cut from seven to three points over the past month. A MORI survey yesterday put Labour on 39 per cent, the Conservatives on 37 and the Lib Dems on 18.

Labour's bounce-back will be deeply disappointing for the Tories, with only 70 days left before an expected May 5 general election.

The Conservatives have sought to set the agenda with policy launches on asylum, council tax rebates for the over 65s, and the return of matrons to lead a drive for hospital cleanliness.

According to YouGov, the Tories enjoy a lead over Labour on immigration and asylum as well as law and order. But Labour is still well ahead on the economy, one of the central election battlegrounds.

Although Tony Blair's personal ratings have plummeted since 2001, 35 per cent of voters still think he would make the best prime minister compared with only 20 per cent for Mr Howard.

YouGov's findings will reinforce concerns among Tories that Mr Howard has not managed to project a favourable personal image.

Mr Blair will hit the campaign trail today when he leads a simultaneous Government announcement in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff to highlight plans to increase the minimum wage to more than £5 an hour.

Michael Howard last night renewed his charge that Mr Blair had "lied" about Tory policies during their Commons exchanges over new terror laws.

He said the country expected the party leaders to conduct the debate "in an honest and responsible way. For my part, I shall continue to do so".
Only 6 points in it but what's the margin for error?

I'm actually quite surprised its this 'close' considering the lead labour had before the war.

Maybe, just maybe, there's a chance the tories might make a difference. I'll then give it a year or so and people will be asking for labour to come back!!!

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