IcmtelegraphLast weekend’s opinion polls which showed the two main parties level-pegging have proved to be as irrelevant and misleading as ConservativeHome suggested that they were.  The first poll after the Party Conference season – by ICM for The Sunday Telegraph – gives the Tories a 6% lead (up 5% in seven days).

Particularly encouraging for the Tory leadership is news that David Cameron now enjoys a 45% to 34% lead over Gordon Brown when voters are asked ‘who would you prefer as PM?’  The poll will be a boost for John Reid who, according to the ConservativeHome Members’ panel, would be the Labour leader that would most worry grassroots Tories.

Team Cameron will also be encouraged to learn that they enjoy a 19% to 17% lead on who can be most trusted with the NHS.  More than one-third of voters are not prepared to trust either party, however, with what David Cameron has described as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century.

Three ICM findings should give Mr Cameron some pause for thought:

  1. The LibDems are not going away.  This latest poll shows Ming’s party at 20%.  It is difficult to see the Tories winning a parliamentary majority without LibDem support retreating in southern England.
  2. The majority of voters want British troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of the year.  It is possible that the situation might deteriorate over the next two to three years (unless there is a major increase in deployment) and a ‘troops out’ Liberal Democrat party might gain voters.
  3. 52% of voters believe that you can have tax cuts and economic stability or simply prefer tax cuts.  It is vital that George Osborne does not box themselves into a corner on taxes when it is likely that there will be a real hunger for tax relief at the next General Election.