One of the reasons I first started blogging about opinion polls was the newspapers’ insistance on writing about the polls they commissioned themselves as if they were the only polls in the universe. Today’s Guardian leader says ” With the sole exception of September 2000, in the aftermath of the tanker drivers’ fuel protest, this is the first ICM poll since January 1993 in which the Conservatives have led Labour.” In actual fact it’s the first ICM poll to show a Tory lead since…er…a week and a half ago in the Sunday Telegraph.

Still, the poll pretty much echoes ICM’s Sunday Telegraph poll – the topline figures are CON 37%(nc), LAB 36%(+1), LDEM 21%(nc), the only difference being an insignificant change in the level of Labour support. The poll was taken between the 15th-18th December, so well after Charlie Kennedy’s latest problems had hit the press – they do not seem to have had any negative effect upon the Lib Dem vote.

Like the Sunday Telegraph poll, ICM’s Guardian poll also asked a theoretical voting intention poll with Gordon Brown as Labour leader. Voting intention would then be CON 41%, LAB 36%, LDEM 18%, following the increasingly familiar pattern of the Conservatives increasing their lead, with the Lib Dem falling back – presumably as a result of churn as anti-Blair Lib Dem voters switch back to Labour, but anti-Brown voters switch over to the Tories. It’s worth remembering that all these theoretical ‘with Brown as leader’ voting intention questions also include the assumption that Charlie Kennedy will still be Lib Dem leader – something that looks considerably less likely after the past week.

David Cameron continues to enjoy very good underlying figures – 66% of people see him as a potential Prime Minister (obviously this includes nearly all Tory voters, but also a majority of Labour and Lib Dem voters). More importantly 51% of Labour voters and 62% of Lib Dem voters think Cameron could change their view of the Tories, and 36% of Labour voters and 46% of Lib Dems think that Mr Cameron is “someone I could vote for”. Charges that he is all spin and no substance chime with only 26% of people (mostly Labour and Nationalist voters), only 13% of people agree that he is too young for the job.

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