Close allies of Gordon Brown will tell him this weekend he will never have a better chance of crushing the Conservative Party after two new opinion polls gave Labour a huge, 10-point lead.
Mr Brown is to consult trusted advisers on whether to call a snap election but will not make a final decision until after he has seen the reaction to David Cameron's closing speech to the Tories' conference in Blackpool on Wednesday.
A Populus poll for today's Times newspaper puts Labour on 41 per cent, the Tories on 31 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 17 per cent. Labour has risen by four points in the past four weeks and the Tories fell by five points.
Mr Brown leads Mr Cameron on key leadership attributes – by 59 per cent to 30 per cent in having "what it takes to be a good prime minister", by 60 to 45 per cent in caring "about the problems ordinary people face", by 50 to 30 per cent in having "answers to the big problems facing Britain" and by 64 to 57 per cent in being "about the future not the past".
Meanwhile, a YouGov survey for The Daily Telegraph gives Labour an even bigger lead of 11 points – on 43 per cent – with the Conservatives on 32 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 15 per cent. Compared with Mr Brown, Mr Cameron is described as "lightweight" by 55 per cent, and "out of touch" by 60 per cent of those questioned.
The polls were described by one Brown ally as "the icing on the cake" after a successful Labour conference in Bournemouth this week. At his Chequers country retreat, Mr Brown will study Labour polling in key marginal seats which will play a crucial role in his decision. A report by Stan Greenberg, a former pollster for the Democratic Party in the United States, is said to show Labour's support is "good but patchy".
Mr Brown, who is entertaining his adviser Alan Greenspan, the former head of US Federal Reserve, is not holding a "council of war" but will speak to close allies over the weekend. Yesterday's rain reminded them of the downside of calling an election on 1 November, since bad weather and dark evenings could depress the turnout. But it did little to dampen their enthusiasm for a snap poll.
"The key question is can things get better if we wait? I cannot see anything that could be better than now," said one senior Brown ally. "I haven't spoken to anybody who has said, 'Don't do anything precipitate'. A lot of people are saying we have got our foot on the Tories' necks and we should not let them get up."
One argument in favour of an immediate election is that Lord Ashcroft, the Tory deputy chairman, has begun pouring money into the party's target seats. Labour MPs and Brown advisers fear that would have a big impact if the election is delayed until next May.
The latest surveys mean eight of the nine polls this month have put Labour on at least 39 per cent. No poll had put Labour that high since autumn 2005, shortly before Mr Cameron became Tory leader.
But the Tories received a boost on the eve of their conference from nine local authority by-elections held on Thursday.
Labour held six and gained one, the Tories retained one and won one seat from Labour.Reuse content