But the Tories return to 42% on the named leader question
The May Populus survey for the Times, out this morning shows a biggish swing from the Lib Dems to Labour but with the Tory share remaining static. The headline numbers with changes on last month are CON 37% (nc): LAB 33% (+4): LD 17% which, if repeated at a general election would produce a hung parliament with Labour having most seats.
But when the “named leader” question was asked those surveyed responded with the following showing changes on last month: CON 42% (+1): LAB 32% (+2): LD ??% which would see the Tories home with a workable majority.
Even with this element the overall effect of poll should be to ease residual Labour jitters about Gordon and reinforce the unity that the party has displayed in recent weeks.
My reading is that the huge difference between the two sets of numbers, as shown in the chart, is, as we have seen so many times before, that “Brand Conservative” is boosted when you link the party leader’s name to it. In the first question it isn’t – in the second question it is. Gordon Brown is no longer as big a negative for Labour.
A positive for the government when Brown is eventually elected is that there will no longer be “named” leader questions and Cameron won’t get this bounce. That does not mean the effect is not happening – it will just not be recorded.
In the past week the only politics that has been reported has been the Labour leadership with almost all of it has putting the party in a positive light and the broad findings from Populus are very much in line with what YouGov reported at the weekend in the Sunday Times.
Part of the Lib Dem drop might also be down to the massive positive publicity that Labour is getting and, even more than the Tories, the difficulty Ming’s party has in getting its voice heard.
Other findings in the poll show that Tony Blair’s ratings are rising and Brown is ahead of Cameron on some measures.