Exclusive poll:

You can both go hang, say voters

50 per cent say choosing Brown is unthinkable... 51 per cent claim they have no enthusiasm for Tories... 38 per cent would like a hung parliament

People do not want Gordon Brown as their Prime Minister for another five years but have no enthusiasm for the Conservative Party, according to an opinion poll for The Independent.

People do not want Gordon Brown as their Prime Minister for another five years but have no enthusiasm for the Conservative Party, according to an opinion poll for The Independent.

The ComRes survey suggests the mood of the nation is one of "a plague on both your houses" as Labour and the Tories struggle to inspire voters ahead of a general election expected on 6 May. According to the poll, the Tories have halted a recent slip in their fortunes and now enjoy a seven-point lead, up two points on last month. They are on 37 per cent (no change), Labour on 30 per cent (down two points), the Liberal Democrats on 20 per cent (up one point) and other parties on 13 per cent (up one).

The result is a blow to the Tories, who are also unlikely to have been boosted by the performance of George Osborne during Channel 4's Chancellors debate last night. Both Alistair Darling and Vince Cable questioned how he could afford to reverse Labour's proposed rise in national insurance contributions. But the shadow Chancellor said that the Government had identified £11bn of waste which could be cut. He told Mr Darling: "Instead of tackling that waste now and stopping wasting people's money, you want to increase the taxes on pretty much every single person here in this room and people watching at home."

Mr Cable said: "George, last week you went round denouncing these government supposed efficiency savings as complete fiction – which, frankly, a lot of them are.

"You are now using these fictional savings to finance your tax cut. That is utterly incredible."

If the figures from the ComRes poll were repeated at an election, it would result in a hung parliament in which David Cameron would be 31 seats short of an overall majority. The Tories would have 295 MPs, Labour 266, the Liberal Democrats 57 and other parties 14.

Fifty per cent of people regard it as "unthinkable" to elect Mr Brown for another five years, while 44 per cent disagree with this statement. Almost one in four Labour supporters believe electing Mr Brown for another term would be "unthinkable". However, 51 per cent say they personally feel no enthusiasm for the Conservative Party, with 42 per cent disagreeing. Remarkably, a quarter (24 per cent) of those people who intend to vote Tory say they have no enthusiasm for the party.

Meanwhile, a strikingly high 38 per cent of people believe the country would be better off with a hung parliament and coalition government, while 53 per cent disagree. One in four Tory supporters would prefer a hung parliament and coalition, as would 36 per cent of Labour and 57 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters.

Although the Tories will be relieved to see their lead increase since last month, they will be alarmed at the apparent lack of enthusiasm for a Cameron government. "The mood is sullen; people have turned against the political class generally," one Tory source said last night. "The anger over MPs' expenses last year had faded a little but has been reignited by the Lobbygate affair."

By a margin of 46 to 41 per cent, people do not agree with Mr Cameron's statement that the lobbying scandal which engulfed Labour last week is worse than the sleaze scandals that affected John Major's Tory government in the 1990s.

The ComRes survey contains some good news for the Tories, whose biggest lead over Labour in any region is the 17-point advantage they enjoy in the Midlands, an area with a clutch of key marginal seats. In the South-east, normally the Tories' strongest region, the party leads Labour by nine points.

Tory strategists will also take comfort from the public's hostility towards the Prime Minister. They have made their attempt to prevent "another five years of Gordon Brown" one of their main campaign themes.

The Tories are 11 points ahead of Labour in the top AB social group but Mr Brown's party enjoys the same advantage in the bottom DE group after winning back some traditional Labour supporters since the turn of the year.

The percentage of people who voted Labour in 2005 and are now returning to the fold has risen to 76 per cent since last month. The number of Labour supporters who are absolutely certain to vote this time has increased to 64 per cent, compared to 71 per cent of Tory and 68 per cent of Liberal Democrat supporters.

The Tories enjoy a seven-point lead over Labour amongst both men and women, while the Liberal Democrats are more popular by a margin of four points (22 to 18 per cent) among women than men.

The headline figures will steady Tory nerves and come as Tory party officials express cautious optimism that they have survived the "wobble" in fortunes which began after an uncertain start to 2010. They believe that polls suggesting a much narrower lead over Labour – some as low as two points – were wide of the mark. But they admit their party now needs to "push on" if Mr Cameron is to win an overall majority.

ComRes telephoned 1,001 GB adults between 26-28 March 2010. Data were weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables at comres.co.uk

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