From The Guardian
David Cameron is on course for a possible general election win, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today that shows support for the Conservatives climbing to a lead that could give them a narrow majority in the Commons, while Labour has plunged to a 19-year low.
The Tories have gained over the last month while support for Labour has fallen heavily in the wake of the recent alleged terror plot against airlines. An overwhelming majority of voters appear to pin part of the blame for the increased threat on Tony Blair’s policy of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ministers – including Mr Blair – have repeatedly denied that there is a connection. But 72%, including 65% of Labour voters, think government policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists. Only 1% of voters believe the government’s foreign policy has made Britain safer, a devastating finding given that action in Iraq and Afghanistan has been justified in part to defeat Islamist terrorism.
That may explain why Labour support has dropped four points in a month, to 31%, the lowest figure recorded by ICM for the Guardian since just before the 1987 election and the second lowest since the poll series began in 1984. The fall may be partly caused by Mr Blair’s absence on holiday and public unhappiness at the announcement that John Prescott would stand in. The rating is worse than Labour achieved at the 1987 or 1992 elections and worse than almost every poll result under Neil Kinnock and John Smith’s leadership.
Meanwhile the Conservatives have climbed one point to 40%, passing the confidence-boosting threshold for the first time in a Guardian/ICM poll since August 1992, in the wake of John Major’s election victory.
The findings will shock many at Westminster who had expected Labour to gain ground following John Reid’s high-profile handling of the alleged plot against transatlantic airlines. Carried out over the past weekend, following the series of terror arrests, the poll shows voters do not believe the government is giving an honest account of the threat facing Britain. Only 20% of all voters, and 26% of Labour voters, say they think the government is telling the truth about the threat, while 21% of voters think the government has actively exaggerated the danger.
A majority, 51%, say the government is not giving the full truth and may be telling less than it knows. That finding comes despite a newly introduced system of public information warnings that saw the home secretary downgrade the threat level from critical to severe.
Such distrust forms the background to a dramatic shift of support away from Labour. The poll shows former Labour voters switching to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in almost equal numbers, boosting Lib Dem support by five points to 22%.
The findings will help the party’s leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, ahead of what is expected to be a testing party conference next month. The poll follows his questioning of the prime minister’s close alliance with George Bush and could leave the Lib Dems as powerbrokers if the election produces a close result.