Conservative Lead Falls To Two-Year Low in New Poll

(Telegraph) – DAVID CAMERON has suffered a fresh blow with a new opinion poll showing the Tory lead over Labour falling to a two-year low and suggesting the party will fall well short of winning an outright majority at the general election.

The Conservatives (38 per cent) are seven points ahead of Labour (31 per cent) in the ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph, down from a lead of nine points last month. The Liberal Democrats are up one point to 21 per cent.

The poll findings follow two jittery months in which the Tories have struggled to set the agenda and have been hit by a series of setbacks, including revelations this month over the “non dom” tax status of Lord Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the party.

As the Conservatives struggle to restore their commanding lead, which hit 20 per cent at its height, Sunday’s Trevor McDonald interview with Mr Cameron on ITV1 includes the first televised clip of the opposition leader’s mother, Mary Cameron.

A former magistrate, she tells the programme she used to return from the courtroom with stories designed to teach her son “the perils of doing the wrong things.” She adds: “I think he learned probably a lot from that. I wasn’t always successful.

“He always had something to say, even when he was five or six – and went on holiday with another family – they said, ‘For heaven’s sake can’t you shut David up?'”

In the full interview Mr Cameron deals head-on with his privileged background, a weapon used against him by Labour. “Look, for a long time, you know, your full name is the old Etonian David Cameron,” he says.

“And I totally accept that in the eyes of many people that is, you know, that is very posh, very privileged upbringing. Look, if the next election is about, you know, ‘let’s not have a posh Prime Minister,’ I mean, I’m not going to win it.”

If the ICM poll were repeated at the election, widely expected on 6 May, and with a uniform national swing, the Tories would be the largest party in the House of Commons but still 30 seats short of an overall majority.

The seven-point Conservative lead equals the narrowest advantage in any ICM poll for the last two years.

The poll shows Mr Cameron is more trusted than Mr Brown to deliver on the NHS (by two per cent), schools (by seven per cent) and the economy (by three per cent). However, in January his leads were eight per cent, 12 per cent, and seven per cent respectively.

A surprising 34 per cent of voters think that Britain’s interests would “best be served” if the election resulted, as most polls now predict, in a hung parliament, despite warnings that such an outcome would gravely hamper the country’s ability to recover from its economic woes and record deficit. More than half (56 per cent) want one party to win a clear majority.

There is overwhelming public support for a referendum if a new European Union Treaty is required in moves to allow euro zone countries in economic turmoil – such as Greece – to be bailed out by other EU member states.

More than four in five voters (83 per cent) back a public vote in such circumstances – something the Conservatives have promised but Labour has not – with just 13 per cent disagreeing

In a highly personal interview with Sir Trevor, billed as Mr Cameron’s “answer” to Gordon Brown’s recent ITV interview with Piers Morgan, the Conservative leader reveals that his wife, Samantha, sometimes has to tell him he is being “an idiot”.

He says: “I’ll come home and sort of say well I’m wrestling with this problem whether we should do A or B and if we do A it means this and if we do B – and she goes ‘its obvious, you know, of course you do that, you look an idiot you’ve got to do this’.

Mr Cameron acknowledges problems with a recent poster campaign featuring a giant image of his face. “You know, were the spoofs of the poster probably better than the poster itself? Yes, I think they probably were.

“The picture was not actually airbrushed, I am afraid I have a baby face, I can admit here. I am afraid that is what I look like.”

Asked when was the last time he lost his temper, Mr Cameron says: “I don’t lose my temper as in, you know, flying rage with bits of furniture going around the room, but I get excited. I certainly have a temper, I certainly, as I said, get cross, emotional.”

Meanwhile, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, will today dismiss suggestions that he will be the “kingmaker” if the election produces a hung parliament.

In a speech at his party’s spring conference in Birmingham, he will repeat his line that whoever wins the most votes deserves the first chance to form a government and comes close to ruling out a formal coalition, claiming: “This election is a time for voters to choose, not a time for politicians to play footsie with each other.

“The party with the strongest mandate from voters will have the moral authority to be the first to seek to govern.”

In an interview for The Politics Show on BBC One today Mr Brown asks to be judged “on my record of making decisions – making the right decisions for this country”.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1007 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 10-11th March 2010. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

… (Reuters, 14/03/2010) – Two new polls point to indecisive result

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