Cold wind from Washington could blow away Labour's nine-point lead

Share

The secret wish of most Labour MPs must be: "Oh that spring were here." Our latest NOP poll indicates Labour has opened a nine-point lead over Conservatives. If that were to materialise at the election, nearly every Labour MP could hold their seat, and Tony Blair would have a secure third term.

The secret wish of most Labour MPs must be: "Oh that spring were here." Our latest NOP poll indicates Labour has opened a nine-point lead over Conservatives. If that were to materialise at the election, nearly every Labour MP could hold their seat, and Tony Blair would have a secure third term.

But there are still six months till the most likely election date in May. That is a very long time in politics. One sign that Labour's lead might not withstand a harsh political winter is that its voters seem less keen to vote than Conservatives. Among those certain to vote, Labour's lead falls to five points.

One direction from which a cold wind could blow is Washington. Despite the substantial antipathy many British voters have towards the European Union, they would still be happier seeing their Prime Minister courting leaders in Brussels, Berlin or Budapest than watching him fly across the Atlantic to congratulate George Bush. No less than 64 per cent say it is more important for Britain to have good relations with other countries in Europe than with the United States. Only a quarter take the opposite view. Labour voters place a slightly higher premium on good relations with Europe. Mr Blair's Atlanticist sympathies have most appeal to Conservative voters.

But despite doubts voters may have about Mr Blair's foreign policy, the Conservatives face losing the domestic argument, in particular the public mood on tax and spend. The party has been trying to persuade us it may be possible to have tax cuts without damaging the main spending priorities of NHS and education. But voters are unconvinced. Only 37 per cent reckon it possible to cut taxes without harming services such as the NHS and education. Fifty-eight cent think it impossible. And middle-class voters, who might expect to gain most from a tax cut, are just as likely to believe taxes cannot be cut as working-class voters.

Four years ago, Conservatives stood at 34 per cent, four points higher than now. They face gaining little from Labour but losing more seats to the Liberal Democrats. For Mr Howard, the winter could prove short.

John Curtice is professor of politics at Strathclyde University

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea