The Tories have pulled ahead of Labour in a new poll in today’s Evening Standard. The Ipsos Mori poll puts David Cameron’s party three points ahead of Labour, at 32, and Labour down four points to 29. The Lib Dems are on 9 and Ukip 14.
This poll is just one poll, Labour will say, as it tries to stop more panic breaking out ahead of Miliband’s speech tomorrow. But it is a bad poll, the worst poll for Labour so far. The Labour leader does need to reassure his party that going neck-and-neck and sometimes behind the Tories is not a symptom of Labour’s weaknesses but a feature of the era of multi-party politics which means that no mainstream party can expect a poll lead. That the Tories are on 32 per cent is hardly a sign of strength, either.
What would cause more panic would be the party sinking below the 29 per cent that Gordon Brown secured in the 2010 general election. But given no-one wants Miliband’s job, the panic may manifest itself as quiet despair rather than unrest. And a poll this bad taken after days of unrest in the party is quite useful evidence for loyalists to use when they warn colleagues about the perils of complaining.
But what’s more interesting is that the Tories have pulled ahead while Ukip still has a sizeable chunk of support. The party is down two points to 14, which is still much better than many thought would be the case when the Tories did pull ahead regularly.