Poll: Labour and Tories neck and neck

by Peter Wozniak

The Labour party is on level pegging with the Conservatives for the first time in two years, according to a poll by Ipsos Mori.

The poll for Reuters, Mori’s first since July has the Conservatives down three points to 37%, almost exactly what they achieved in the general election in May.

This brings Labour level, the first time this has happened in a Mori since 2008, and will greeted with glee by the party, which still remains without a leader until September 25th, the eve of its conference.

The poll makes for grim and increasingly familiar reading for Liberal Democrats, who have seen their support fall to 15%, compared to the 23% they achieved at the election.

The Lib Dems will point to past polls that have traditionally seen the party suffer a slump post-election, but the figures will occupy the minds of many members and activists as they gather in Liverpool next week.

Party discontent with the coalition will get an airing during the conference, though Lib Dems will have one eye on the local elections next year.

Whilst the drop in Conservative support is comparatively small, the party will be concerned that such polling, if reproduced at another election, would see its ambition of an overall majority slip further from its grasp.

With the spending review imminent, and the governing parties likely to suffer a further drop in popularity and the scale of cuts becomes clear, both will be worried that the honeymoon period for the coalition, began in the Rose Garden press conference in May, is rapidly slipping away.

They will however draw some solace from the poll, which suggests that a majority of the public support the need for cuts.

Three quarters, however, believe the government’s austerity drive is occurring too quickly, which Labour will suggest is a vindication of their economic argument.

“The government’s message on the need for cuts is getting across to the public but as it comes closer fear is also increasing,” said Bobby Duffy, managing director of public affairs at Ipsos MORI.

“In a sense we are still in a ‘phony war’ as there has not been much of a direct impact on services and benefits the public receive or on public sector employment as yet. The real test of the government’s popularity will be in the months ahead as the cuts begin to bite.”

The details of the spending review will be revealed on 20th October.