Today’s Sunday Times has a new YouGov poll which again compares how people would vote with Davis or Clarke as Tory leader. While it echoes Populus’s recent poll in showing that Clarke would perform better than Davis, unlike Populus it suggests that both potential leaders would trail a long way behind a Brown-led Labour party.

The standard voting intention figures were CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 21%. Asked how they would vote if Gordon Brown was the Labour leader and Ken Clarke the Conservative leader, Labour’s lead would jump up to 11 points with the Conservatives on 31%, Labour on 42% and the Lib Dems on 17%. Asked the same question, but with David Davis as leader, Labour’s lead would be even larger – 14 points, with the Conservatives on 30%, Labour on 44% and the Lib Dems on 18%.

The main difference between the two scenarios isn’t actually the Conservatives – there is very little difference between the level of Conservative support – it’s Labour. With Clarke as Tory leader Labour would get 42%, with Davis as leader they would get 44%. A possible explanation is that Clarke would indeed win more votes from Labour as leader, but they would be partially cancelled out by Tory voters drifting away to UKIP or other fringe parties.

Anyway, leaving such speculation behind the bottom line is that , while Clarke again comes out top, the poll doesn’t tell us a huge amount about the respective popularities of Clarke and Davis, when they are put aside the huge impact that Gordon Brown will make on voting intentions once he takes over.

YouGov also asked a straight forward question on who people would like to see as party leader. As usual Clarke was the runaway leader on 42% with Davis second on 16%. Liam Fox’s launch does seem to have had some minimal impact, since he is now third on 9%. Rifkind and Cameron are both on 6%. Bear in mind that, unlike most if not all of the other questions asking about people’s prefered leader, this had been re-percventaged to exclude don’t knows.

Moving on there were a variety of other questions in the YouGov/Sunday Times poll. Respondents were asked about a variety of possible policies the Tories might take forward, 47% of people supported a policy of withdrawing from the EU if there was not repatriation of powers (29% opposed), 46% supported cutting taxes and public spending (28% opposed), 50% supported radical reform of schools and the NHS, including possible privatisation (28% opposed), and 72% supported tax policies that benefit those on middle income, as opposed to those on low income (strange finding that – it’ll be interesting to see what the breakdown by social class was) [UPDATE – not so strange, it was a mistake by the Sunday Times. The poll actually found that people wanted the Conservative’s to give less help to the well off and more to average and low income families, which makes more sense]

YouGov also asked about President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina – 60% said he handled the crisis very badly, while only 1% thought he handled it very well. 63% thought he would have done more if the victims had be white and middle-class. Not, I suppose, that George Bush will lose much sleep over what British voters think of his performance.

Finally YouGov asked about foreign takeovers of British firms. 69% of people said they were concerned about British companioes falling into foreign ownership, while 63% said they thought the government should take some form of steps to prevent large British companies being taken over by foreign groups.


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