A Populus poll in tomorrow’s Times
gives the Tories a 4% lead over Labour but the lead widens to 9% with Gordon Brown in charge.  With Brown in charge Labour’s support drops to 33%, the LibDems drop to 16% and Tory support rises to 42%.

Labour actually does better with John Reid in charge.  The Tories ‘only’ lead by 40% to 32% if the Home Secretary succeeded Tony Blair.  Mr Reid’s assured handling of the recent terror plot may have boosted his standing (but, perhaps, only temporarily).

These poll findings have to be taken with a large pinch of salt, however.  They do not, for example, capture how voters might react to a difficult Labour leadership election or if a victorious Brown sets a convincing new direction for his party.  The ‘Reid findings’ will increase the Brownites’ desire to see Blair go sooner rather than later.  The longer Tony Blair keeps the keys to Downing Street the more it is likely that John Reid or Alan Johnson might emerge as a credible challenger to the Chancellor.