An ICM poll for last evening’s Channel 4 News contained slightly better news for the Conservative Party. A 4% Labour lead in the previous ICM poll has been eliminated. The ConservativeHome Poll of Polls puts the Tories a statistically insignificant 0.6% behind Labour.
Less encouraging was ICM’s finding that voters, by 37% to 32% – regard Gordon Brown as best-qualified to be prime minister. Mr Brown also enjoys a 44% to 34% advantage when it comes to "understanding the needs of people like me". The most troublesome finding is that voters think Gordon Brown is tougher by 61% to 29%. It may be difficult for Mr Cameron to prove toughness until Oliver Letwin’s policy groups report and the Tory leader makes some crunchy decisions on policy. More talk of change – which will characterise today’s Spring Forum speech – may not be enough to convince the 40% who believe that Mr Cameron was "more about spin than substance".
58% told ICM that Mr Cameron was a "new face" but that the Conservative Party "hasn’t really changed much at all". This view that the party needs to catch up with Mr Cameron’s positioning motivates Francis Maude’s suggestion that ‘proper Tories should be more like David Cameron‘.