By Mark Wallace
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A few weeks ago, a feeling was developing that the Conservative leadership had a good thing going. Labour were in a mess over welfare, struggling to define a line at all, still less to push a popular message. Then Woolwich happened, the news agenda understandably shifted and the momentum was lost.
Looking at polls in the last few days, it seems like that mojo may be back. ICM's polling for the Sunday Telegraph finds that 64% support Osborne's benefits cap, and a massive 87% agree with the Chancellor that benefits should be cut for migrants who refuse to learn English. The longer-term picture looks positive, too – Ipsos MORI's intergenerational research shows the young are far more enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and self-reliance, while they are increasingly sceptical of high taxes and generous benefits. As I wrote recently, they are also voting Conservative in greater numbers.
But the good polling news is not just that the Conservatives are doing fairly well – it's that Labour are doing spectacularly badly.
As Peter Kellner notes in today's Sunday Times, YouGov are now predicting that we are on course for another Hung Parliament. Nationally, Labour's lead has slipped to 5% – exactly the result ICM show from the Wisdom poll, too – which is a disastrous figure for an Opposition which claims to represent popular dislike of austerity.
Not only is there no evidence for popular opposition to austerity – see those welfare figures above – but it seems the electorate wouldn't trust the two Eds to represent it if it did exist. YouGov also found that Cameron and Osborne have a 10 percentage point lead over Miliband and Balls when people are asked who they trust to run the economy.
These are damning figures – how long will Miliband put up with Balls' failure to make headway on those economic ratings?