A new poll has been printed in the Sunday Telegraph and aside from the headline figures, it raises some questions for the Tories and David Cameron.
Firstly, lots of Tories will now jump in and attack me stating the poll still has the Tories well ahead of Labour (5% ahead- 37% to 32%). But the poll also asks important questions about leadership abilities and in this area Gordon Brown scores higher than Cameron, and that has to be a worry to the Tories.
Tory Strategy Not Working
For many months the Tories have been running a strategy of trying to undermine Gordon Brown's credibility and trying to attack Gordon Brown as not being up to the job. What is clear is that this strategy has failed. Trying to torpedo him before he gets to be Prime Minister, fatally weakening him before he had a chance to take power might have made some sense but the Grammar Schools debacle and the generally positive press Gordon Brown has received in recent weeks has seen Labour's support holding fast.
Again, the Tories will point to a 5% lead, but the interesting statistic in the poll is that a majority (a clear 51% and 17% more than the Tories %) of voters still think Labour will have the most seats in the next parliament. Voters are drawn to winners, and if Mr Cameron starts to look like a loser, and already the electorate are seeing him as that or else more a majority would be expecting the Tories to be the winners of the next elections, then his gloss might start to tarnish. There is, for all the Tories longing for it, no sense of the inevitability of a Tory government that existed for Labour in 1995-97.
Lib Dem Love Bombing
The poll does have good news for the Lib Dems. A 1% rise in their poll rating in what has not been a good month for press coverage for the Lib Dems has to be seen as good news for them. The Tory policy of "Love Bombing", where the Tories try to steal the Lib Dems thunder appears to have, if you excuse the pun, bombed !
Grammar Schools Debacle
The other thing the Tories will have to show concern about is the way the Grammar schools issue has simply not gone away and how this has, according to the Telegraph, led to dissatisfaction amongst Tory backbench MP's, councillors and campaigners. Blair from 1994-1997 keep the backbenchers on side, kept activists motivated and was not being sniped at. It appears for the Tories the idea of slagging of your leader, whatever his poll ratings, is a habit they just cannot give up.
After the local elections successes for the Tories, this poll is something to mull over. Yes, a 5% lead is still good, but remember that Neil Kinnock was popular and had a lead in 1990. A change of leader from the Tories (the Chancellor), seen as uncharismatic and boring, saw the Tories fortunes change in 1992. A lesson for the Tories there I think.