Populusforthetimes_2A Populus poll for The Times gives the Tories a narrow 1% lead over Labour this morning – a more modest lead than that suggested by ICM on Sunday.

If that would appear to be good news for Labour there is much less good news when voters are asked about whether they’d vote for the Labour leadership hopefuls:

  • The Tory lead rises to 8% if Gordon Brown became Labour leader (42% over 34%);
  • To 8% with Alan Johnson in the driving seat (41% over 33%);
  • A full 10% with John Reid as leader (40% over 30%).

The best news for David Cameron comes in voter assessments of various politicians’ strengths and weaknesses.  The poll – taken before yesterday’s launch of the NHS Independence Bill idea – finds that the Tory leader is most thought to ‘believe in the principles of the NHS and wants to improve it for everyone’.  Cameron is not seen as strong, charismatic or prime ministerial as Tony Blair but is seen as more likeable and a little bit more honest.

Mike Smithson over at notes that the Tory standing increases every time David Cameron’s name is mentioned:

"The fact that the Tories receive a substantial boost if Cameron is named in a voting intention question is a phenomenon that has been recorded in every poll that has asked this since the new leader came in.  I have long argued that the best way for Labour and the Lib Dems to deal with Cameron is never ever to mention his name. Attacking him just reinforces the link between the leader and his party which gives the Tories a boost."