Two opinion polls showed a dramatic increase in support for the Liberal Democrats, and now a third poll for the Independent on Sunday shows that Liberal Democrats have nearly moved into second place – Labour are now in terminal decline! Over the last month their support as declined substantially and now only one in four of the population say that they will be voting Labour at the next General Election.
The ComRes poll for The Independent on Sunday gives the Tories a 16 point lead.
Conservative 41% (no change)
Labour 25% (down 7%)
Liberal Democrat 22% (up 7%)
Others 12% (no change)
The three-point gap is the narrowest between Labour and the Liberal Democrats across all polls for 22 years, since May 1987, apart from a "freak" poll in September 2003, after the Iraq war and the Hutton inquiry hearings, which put all three parties on 31 per cent. This is a remarkable change of fortune for the Liberal Democrats, but not surprising the Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg as a strong team around him. Vince Cable outshines all other politicians on the economy; Chris Huhne is competent and very capable on the Home Affairs brief; and they also have a youthful team with members such as: Julia Goldsworthy; Sarah Teather; Jeremy Browne; and Jo Swinson.
The poll is extremely bad news for Gordon Brown; he is now quickly running out of options. In many ways he will still wants to go to country this year – but it would be electoral suicide. Obviously there will be a great deal of soul searching in the Labour Party, and I am sure that some members will compare and contrast with those dark old days when Michael Foot was the Labour Party Leader. I am not saying that Gordon is in such a dire position as poor Michael Foot, but the party is haemoraging, and up and down the country members and councillors are leaving in their droves.
Possibly, one of the main reasons for the surge in the Liberal Democrats has been the performance of Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor who was widely praised for his response to the banking crisis. Shortly, he will resume temporary reign of the party which could push the Liberal Democrat poll rating higher. The survey poll will trigger fresh speculation about which party the Liberal Democrats would back in a hung parliament.
In May 1987, a month before the general election, the SDP/Liberal Alliance was on 30 per cent, overtaking Neil Kinnock's Labour Party on 28 per cent. Last month's IoS poll gave the Tories a lead of 9 per cent.