It’s not the opinion poll that David Cameron would have wanted at the start of his Bournemouth Conference. After enjoying months of steady but modest opinion poll leads he wakes up to a YouGov survey for The Daily Telegraph which puts both of the main parties level-pegging on 36%.
He shouldn’t be too panicked about those headline numbers – Labour will undoubtedly have been boosted by the very positive coverage of Tony Blair’s speech and by Labour’s monopolising of recent media output (although that may continue during their leadership election). More interesting opinion polls will come in a fortnight or two – after the public has had the opportunity to digest the whole party conference season.
More worrying for Mr Cameron is the electorate’s sense that they still do not know what he believes. Although 47% believe that the Tories have acquired a new freshness and vitality since David Cameron became party leader (down from 60% in January), 54% believe that it’s hard to know what the Conservative Party stands for at the moment. 60% believe that David Cameron talks a good line but that it is hard to know if there is any substance behind the words.
CCHQ appear to be aware of this increasing questioning of David Cameron’s substance and yesterday’s pre-conference briefing focused on presenting him as much more than a PR man.