A Populus poll for today’s Times gives the Tories an 8% lead over a faltering Labour party. The Prescott, Clarke and Hewitt triple whammy combined with the local election results and bloody reshuffle have sent Labour’s rating tumbling to 30% – a 6% fall on the month and the party’s lowest rating since 1992. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are up by 4%. A 2% Labour lead in April has become an 8% Tory lead in May. Sir Menzies Campbell’s LibDems are down 1% to 20%.
Labour MPs thinking that Tony Blair is the problem will find plenty of support from the Populus survey. Half of the 1,509 people questioned by Populus wanted Blair gone by the end of the year. But, the same Labour MPs will also learn that Gordon Brown may cause a deterioration in Labour’s support: "If Labour do change their leader the situation may not improve for them. Populus also asked a hypothetical question about voting intention with Gordon Brown as the Labour leader and found the Conservatives on 41%" (UK Polling Report). If these findings are repeated the prospects of a Reid-Johnson-Blears alternative to Brown are only likely to grow.
Mr Brown’s best chance of victory may be going for a snap election during what he hopes will be a honeymoon period after he succeeds Tony Blair. George Osborne told The Times that CCHQ has "contingency plans" if Gordon Brown tries such a thing:
"We are ready to go at any time. If Tony Blair goes early and Gordon Brown cuts and runs we will be ready. We would draw together the work our policy groups have done together with ideas from the Shadow Cabinet into our manifesto.”