The monthly YouGov poll for the Telegraph has the Conservative lead stretching slightly to 7 points. The topline figures with changes from last month are CON 39%(+1), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 17%(+1). The changes from last month are not significant, but do suggest that the Conservatives are consolidating the lead they have enjoyed since the local elections. The total vote for “others” has fallen two points, but at 12% remains historically high.
The poll also included forced choice questions on whether people would prefer a Conservative government under Cameron to a Labour government under Blair, and a Conservative government under Cameron or a Labour government under Brown. With Blair as Labour leader the Conservatives lead 45% to 36%, with Brown as Labour leader this narrows to 44% to 38%.
These figures present a huge turnaround from the last election – in a comparable question on May 3-4th 2005, a Labour government under Blair led a Conservative government under Michael Howard by 17 points, more interesting though is what they say about attitudes to Gordon Brown.
Prior to David Cameron’s election polls consistently suggested that Labour would perform better with Gordon Brown as leader. Since Cameron became leader, every time a hypothetical poll about voting intention with Gordon Brown as leader has been asked, it has shown either the parties neck and neck or a Tory lead, and the majority have shown Brown doing worse than Blair. However, because the hypothetical questions include the names of party leaders, and normal voting intention questions don’t, these polls haven’t been directly comparable. The change could be because Brown is less popular than Blair, or it could be the effect of associating David Cameron’s name with the Conservatives.
These YouGov findings, which included party leader’s names in both questions, suggest that it is the Cameron effect rather than Brown damaging Labour’s chances. Of course, we still can’t say that Brown would help Labour’s position in the polls, since it is a forced choice question between just Conservative and Labour. Those people who prefer the Tories with Blair as PM, but Labour under Brown could all be die hard Liberal Democrat voters who wouldn’t vote for either of them. Polls like this can only either be hypothetical, so we’ll never know what will really happen until Blair is replaced, but what would give us the best idea is a normal voting intention question prompting with party leader names, and then another voting intention question but with Gordon Brown as the Labour leader (and then possibly, just to put the cat among the pigeons, some with Alan Johnson, John Reid, Hilary Benn, etc, etc…)