Monday 23 April 2018

Tories have biggest lead over Labour in three years

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron talks with a local family as he campaigns in Alnwick. Photo: Reuters
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron talks with a local family as he campaigns in Alnwick. Photo: Reuters
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband waves after unveiling his party's election manifesto at Granada studios in Manchester. Photo: Reuters

Christopher Hope in London

The British Conservatives have opened up their largest poll lead over Labour in three years, a new poll has found.

Prime minister David Cameron's personal approval rating is also at its highest level for five years in a survey which will come as boost to the Conservatives ahead of their manifesto launch.

On the day that Labour leader Ed Miliband launched his party's manifesto, the survey by ICM for 'The Guardian' newspaper put the Tories ahead on 39pc ahead of Labour on 33pc, the party's highest lead for three years.

The slide in backing for Nigel Farage's UK Independence Party also continued, with support for the Eurosceptic party sliding back to 7pc, the same as the Greens.

The Liberal Democrats support remains at 8pc in the telephone poll, which was carried out on Friday and Saturday night. The ICM poll came as the Tories were unveiling spending pledges on the National Health Service but before Sunday's key inheritance tax break to help middle-income couples.

The poll - which is at odds with other polls showing the Tories and Labour tied - is the best ICM rating since March 2012, just before the "omnishambles" budget.


Separate polls from Michael Ashcroft, the Conservative peer, and Populus found that the Conservatives were neck-and-neck with Labour, giving both parties 33pc support.

The poll also found that most voters - 21pc - preferred a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, ahead a three-way coalition of Labour, SNP and the Greens, which was favoured by 19pc of voters.

Only 15pc of voters thought a Conservative/Ukip coalition was "best for Britain" ahead of the 11pc who supported a Labour/LibDem tie-up.

Martin Boon, a director of ICM Unlimited, said the sample for the poll was "demographically sound", but there were signs in the raw data that this sample "could be a just touch too Tory".

Mr Cameron was rated highly, with 52pc of voters rating him as doing a good job, and only 34pc suggesting he is doing badly.

This was Mr Cameron's strongest personal leadership showing since 2010.

In comparison, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, was behind at -30pc, worse than Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (-20pc) and Ukip's Mr Farage (-12).

Yesterday Mr Miliband attempted to overturn a damaging perception his party cannot be trusted on the economy, unveiling a manifesto he said showed it had the most responsible plan to manage Britain's finances.

In a speech tackling what experts say is one of Labour's greatest electoral weaknesses, Mr Miliband sought to reverse his party's low ratings for economic credibility, an area where the Conservatives have long led.


"Over the last four and a half years, I have been tested," Miliband told supporters in the northern English city of Manchester, a traditional stronghold.

"Tested for the extraordinary privilege of leading this country. I am ready."

Mr Miliband, in bullish mood, said Labour had learnt the lessons from the crisis and could balance the books in a fairer way than the Conservatives, while remaining fiscally prudent.

"You want Labour values and a new start but you ask whether we can be responsible with our nation's finances," he said.

"This is a plan to change our country.

"It is a manifesto which shows Labour is not only the party of change but the party of responsibility too."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said that chancellor George Osborne had treated the British people with contempt by not outlining how he will fund his £8bn NHS spending vow alongside other proposals.

Told that a lot of Labour supporters would want him to make a similar commitment and outline how it will be funded, Mr Balls told the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme: "I think this goes to the heart of trust in politics and the election choice.

"You had George Osborne yesterday asked 18 times by Andrew Marr where he would find the £8bn from and he couldn't say." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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