Populusfortimes_1A Populus poll for today’s Times suggests that David Cameron has improved the Tory standing but that he has yet to transform it.

Peter Riddell writes:

"The poll underlines the favourable impact of David Cameron’s election as Tory leader on the Conservative Party’s prospects. Tory support since his election has been in the 36 to 38 per cent range, compared with a maximum of about 32 per cent since the mid-1990s.  Mr Cameron’s leader rating is now much higher than that of his predecessors. On a scale of 0 to 10 his rating is 5.28. That compares with 4.58 for Michael Howard a year ago, and 4.2 to 4.3 for Iain Duncan Smith in the summer of 2003, before he was forced out."

The slightly disappointing message from the Populus survey is, however, that the last month’s favourable blizzard of publicity has not produced a stronger Tory showing.  Given the electoral system’s bias against the Tories the survey underlines the considerable uphill struggle that still awaits David Cameron.  Up until now he has made the easier PR announcements.  He has not made tough decisions on such issues as nuclear power, Iran, family values and how he intends to ‘share the proceeds of growth’ between tax cuts and spending increases.

MarkoatenPopulus’ headline finding relates to the LibDems.  Echoing Sunday’s BPIX poll Britain’s third party have sunk to 16% – their lowest standing for four years.

Mark Oaten (profiled here in The Independent) appears certain to stand for the LibDem leadership according to the BBC.  Mr Oaten hopes to be Charles Kennedy’s successor when the ballot of the party’s 70,000+ members is declared on 2nd March.  The LibDems’ leadership sprint will take about seven weeks – a marked contrast to our seven month marathon.