Cameron wins poll boost – but there are clouds on the horizon

The Conservatives appear to be rebuilding their poll lead after a well received speech by David Cameron.

Wednesday's speech, which saw the prime minister mix heartfelt recollections of his personal life with serious observations about the challenges facing Britain, saw his personal ratings rise along with the Conservatives'.

An equally well received speech by Ed Miliband last week suggested he was about to overtake Cameron on the all-important category of who would make the best prime minister, but that trend seems to have been reversed by the Cameron speech.

Miliband's speech narrowed Cameron's personal lead to just four points, but a new YouGov survey today puts it at 14%.

Two successive YouGov tracker polls now put the Tories seven points behind Labour, on 35% to the opposition's 42%. This is a significant improvement on their pre-conference performance, which saw them between ten and 14 points behind.

The Labour lead is far from insurmountable, especially given the tendency for governing parties to win bounce ahead of general elections.

But the electoral arithmetic makes it an uphill struggle for the Tories to secure a majority at the next election, especially since they lost the constituency boundary reform.

The post-conference bounce may also be short lived if Cameron finds himself embroiled in more scandals and U-turns. He is already under considerable pressure to sack Andrew Mitchell, the new Tory chief whip who became embroiled in an expletive filled 'pleb' rant at police officers outside Downing Street.

MPs and ministers want Mitchell gone and there are questions around Cameron's judgement in allowing him to keep his job in the first place.

Mitchell may also face investigation by the Commons international development committee for his decision to reverse a cut in aid to Rwanda due to human rights concerns. Some reports suggest Downing Street backed that decision, raising further potential problems for the prime minister.