An ICM poll for The Sunday Telegraph shows the Tory lead down to just 1% (although ConservativeHome’s Poll of Polls still gives the Tories a 4% advantage). The previous ICM survey (for The Guardian) gave David Cameron’s party a 5% lead. The Sunday Telegraph:
"[These] poll findings, if repeated in a general election on current constituency boundaries, would give Labour a 24-seat majority. At Downing Street there was barely disguised jubilation over today’s dramatic narrowing of the gap. Sources close to Tony Blair claimed that the findings showed that the recent Tory surge in support could be a "mirage" resulting from a spate of bad headlines about Labour."
The poll will provide ammunition to those impatient with Mr Cameron’s policy-lite approach. A leader in yesterday’s Daily Mail called on Mr Cameron to stop taking "tribal Tories" for granted. The Sun called on the Tory leader to start selling "real policies to the public". In contrast, Cameron loyalist Matthew d’Ancona uses his Sunday column to warn against any change in direction. Pointing to Friday’s YouGov survey, the Editor of The Spectator defends the leadership’s project:
"The Conservatives should emphatically not change their message, but they will have to bare their teeth on the campaign trail and improve their local intelligence gathering if they are to win the Lib Dem votes that they desperately need to win the 85 or so marginal seats where they are second to Labour. As one shadow cabinet member put it: "We haven’t learned how to localise the national Cameron message."
For much of the year the major pollsters have diverged on the LibDems’ rating but the most recent surveys from ICM, YouGov, Populus and MORI have all put Ming’s party at 18%. BPIX’s most recent survey (two months ago) gave the LibDems 19%.
ICM’s main aim this week was to explore public attitudes to crime. Last week The Sunday Telegraph launched its ‘Make Britain Safe‘ campaign. ICM found that 75% of voters thought Tony Blair had failed to keep his ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ pledge and 81% were worried about the level of crime in Britain. If Mr Cameron wants to reassure "tribal Tories", the need for a crackdown on crime is surely his most fertile territory.