Vote date fails to lift Tories

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Indy Politics
John Major's announcement of the election date has failed to galvanise public opinion, according to this week's Independent/Harris poll. Labour retains a lead of 24 points, compared with 21 in yesterday's MORI poll and 25.5 in the Gallup poll on Sunday.

The polls, done since Mr Major went to Buckingham Palace on 17 March, confound predictions that the gap between the two main parties would start to close as soon as voters focused on the reality of their choice.

The Harris poll for The Independent finds Labour's lead closed by 3 points since the calling of the election - Gallup recorded a similar small narrowing of the gap, while MORI found no change.

The firing of the starting gun has, however, had an apparent effect in firming up the Tory vote. There is now no significant difference between those intending to vote Tory and those intending to vote Labour when asked how likely it is that they will actually decide to vote.

Of Conservatives, 75 per cent said they "would certainly vote", while of Labour voters, 77 per cent said they were certain to vote.

Our poll continues to show the two main parties level when people are asked how they voted in the 1992 general election. This is an important indicator of the reliability of a survey, because it can be cross-checked with the results of large random samples conducted over a long period.

As expected, our poll shows the Tories and Labour dead level, as people bring their memories into line with their current voting intention.

On a uniform swing, today's Independent poll would give Tony Blair a 261-seat majority - with the Tories reduced to 154 seats.

Battle of the percentage points

Polls taken since election date announced on 17 March

Poll Lab Con Lib Dem

Independent/Harris 54 30 11

Times/MORI 50 29 14

S Telegraph/Gallup 54.5 29 10.5