What will the gap settle down at?
One of the things you should never do is compare a survey from one pollster with one from another pollster and then try to suggest that there is some trend. Each of the surveys carried out by the five main UK firms use different approaches so that concluding that there has been movement when one from one survey from one firm is different from another from a different firm is simply not valid.
But I guess that all parties will be viewing today’s July poll for the Times with half an eye on the 4% Labour lead that ICM reported in the Guardian on Saturday. For ICM and Populus do operate in a broadly similar manner and, indeed, both normally use ICM call centres for their field work.
The headline Populus figures, with changes from last month, are CON 34% (-2): LAB 37% (+4): LD 18% (+1) – so a third poll since Gordon took over has reported a clear margin for Labour over the Tories. Interestingly the shares are very similar to what Populus found in December 2005 in a poll that took place during the weekend after David Cameron became Tory leader. That had CON 35%: LAB 38%: LD 19%
The Conservatives will probably be breathing a sigh of relief that after weeks of wall-to-wall positive media coverage for the government that they have only slipped back two points.
The big question is where it is going to go from here? Will Labour consolidate or will the Tories begin to reverse the trend when they start being able to command the headlines again. Who knows? But all three parties must be looking nervously to the two by elections in sixteen days time.
Andrew Cooper of Populus tells me that fieldwork for their next Times survey will start on day after the by elections. Watch this space.