Labour regains six-point lead, but turnout remains its biggest worry

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Labour has doubled its lead over the Tories to six percentage points in the past week, according to the latest opinion poll by NOP for The Independent.

Labour has doubled its lead over the Tories to six percentage points in the past week, according to the latest opinion poll by NOP for The Independent.

The findings will help to steady Labour's nerves because the party's lead fell in the previous two NOP surveys from a high of 12 points in February. Labour is now on 38 per cent (up two points), the Tories on 32 per cent (down one point) and the Liberal Democrats on 21 per cent (unchanged), with others on 9 per cent (down one).

The survey found 59 per cent of people were certain to vote, in line with the actual turnout at the 2001 election. Some 67 per cent of Labour supporters say they are certain to vote, up three points on last week.

But Labour voters are still less likely to turn out than the Tories, with 78 per cent certain to vote (up one point from last week). The 11-point gap will worry Labour officials, who fear such a differential turnout could make the result on 5 May much closer than the headline poll figures suggest. But NOP has taken account of this differential turnout in estimating Labour's share of the vote.

The findings of NOP's survey of 956 adults, taken between Friday and Sunday, would give Labour another huge majority of 134. They will be seen by Labour strategists as a reflection of Gordon Brown's return to the front line of the campaign. He has appeared alongside Tony Blair on several occasions since they staged a press conference last week in an attempt to make the economy the dominant issue.

Labour and the Tories have been locked in a daily battle to set the election agenda, with Labour trying to keep the spotlight on the economy and public services, and the Tories seeking to raise other issues such as immigration.

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