Election' 97: Tories fear big changes by Labour

THE INDEPENDENT HARRIS POLL

Most voters believe a Labour government would make a difference to the way the country is run, according to today's Independent/Harris poll.

The poll, in which Labour's lead is unchanged at 24 points, also points to a small majority in favour of changing to a proportional voting system in the referendum on the issue which Labour has promised, although many voters have yet to make up their minds.

In a finding which contradicts the assumption of widespread voter apathy, nearly three-quarters of those polled (73 per cent) said they thought a Labour win in the election would mean "big changes", or "some changes", for the country. Only 18 per cent predicted "hardly any changes", or "no changes at all".

It seems most voters are going into the campaign proper with modest expectations of the difference Tony Blair would make as prime minister.

Mr Blair said yesterday that his manifesto "does not promise the earth" - which seems to be accepted by people intending to vote Labour. Of them, only 24 per cent expect "big changes", while 56 per cent see "some changes".

It is Conservative supporters who are most likely to forecast "big changes" under Labour - feared by 34 per cent of them. Liberal Democrats are most likely to be cynical - 26 per cent of them expect "hardly any", or "no" changes.

But the overwhelming majority of the electorate rejects the idea that there is no difference between the parties.

In a separate finding, however, most voters take a jaundiced view of Mr Blair's ability to maintain a united front over Europe if he forms the government, with 46 per cent (and 45 per cent of Labour supporters) expecting it to be as divided as the Tories.

The Independent/Harris poll suggests that there is all to play for in the referendum on electoral reform promised by Mr Blair - who is "not persuaded" of the case for change. He could come under pressure from Labour supporters, who support a proportional voting system by a margin of 44 to 31 per cent, with 22 per cent undecided.

Predictably, Liberal Democrats are most keen on change (backed by 60 per cent), while Tories are most opposed (56 per cent back the present system).

But our poll will steady Labour nerves, showing the party's lead unchanged since last week, on 52 per cent to the Tories' 28 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats on 14 per cent.

Today's Gallup poll in the Telegraph shows the gap closing by 4.5 points over two weeks, with Labour on 52 per cent, the Tories on 31 per cent and Liberal Democrats on 11 per cent.

Two other polls this week produced contrary findings - ICM showing the gap closing. while MORI showed it widening. So, while polling companies may disagree about the levels of support for each party, there is no clear evidence yet of a shift in public opinion.

The clear gainer in our poll today is Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party, which registered 3.2 per cent support - its highest in our polls.

This will alarm Conservative Central Office because the Referendum Party's support continues to come overwhelmingly from among those who say they voted Tory in 1992.

It is possible that The Independent/Harris poll overstates the Labour Party's lead by a few points, as it puts the Tories four points behind when people are asked how they voted at the last general election. Other evidence suggests the parties should be level pegging on this measure.

Harris Research interviewed 1,091 adults face-to-face in their homes between 27 and 31 March.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial