Twitter has been buzzing today as a result of the publication of an Ipsos MORI poll in The Observer which shows the Conservative lead down to only 6% after a period which has seen Tory leads of up to 20% in some surveys. The UK Polling Report’s swing calculator projects that this would be the outcome of such a result at a General Election:
A poll like this will give a lift to anyone who isn’t an enthusiast for David Cameron’s project to restore the levers of power to the Conservative Party. Gordon Brown and his followers will feel that the game isn’t up quite yet, particularly since the current parliamentary boundaries benefit Labour disproportionately (for example, if Labour and the Tories both polled 36% Gordon Brown would have 333 MPs compared to David Cameron’s 246). The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, will see an opening for the Holy Grail of a hung parliament and the possibility of negotiating to replace Britain’s bizarre first-past-the-post voting system with something that actually reflects the voters’ wishes.
As I’ve previously posted, I don’t believe the Tories have ‘closed the deal’ with the electorate yet, despite two years of mammoth poll leads and media coverage which seems infuriatingly reluctant to ask the Tories any difficult questions on policy.
Nevertheless, we must remember that this is just one poll. I still remember ‘Wobbly Thursday’ during the 1987 election campaign (yes, I’ve been an anorak for years) when Margaret Thatcher’s poll lead was almost wiped out, and the 1992 campaign consisted almost entirely of rogue polls (only one Gallup poll gave the eventual winner, John Major, a lead in the polls – of 0.5%).
So my instinct about this poll is that it could be merely a blip, but I think it also shows that next year’s General Election might still be an awful lot closer than anyone thinks.