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Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 19:07 GMT 20:07 UK
Poll Monitor: Unlucky Friday for Tories

By BBC Political Research editor David Cowling

The Gallup snapshot poll in the Daily Telegraph on Good Friday, 13 April, put Labour support at 53% (down 2% on last month), the Conservatives on 27% (also down 2%) and the Liberal Democrats on 15% (up 3%).

The Labour lead of 26% is unchanged from March.

The fieldwork dates were 4-10 April and the sample was 1009.

In general terms the findings could be summed up as "Friday the Thirteenth" for the Conservatives.

In his commentary accompanying the poll, Professor Anthony King remarked: "The light at the end of the Tories' tunnel is still that of the oncoming train."

Despite Labour's 2% drop over last month, its standing was still 7% above its 1997 general election vote share, while the Conservative rating was 4% below their own share at the general election.

As if that were not bad enough for the Conservatives, several indicators of public opinion were shown to be moving in Labour's favour.

Approval of the government's record had been a negative rating of -2% in February but in March it shifted to a positive +7%.

Labour's lead over the Conservatives as the party best able to handle the economy increased from +18.5% to +21.5% over the same period.

Labour's reputation as "honest and trustworthy" has collapsed since the heady days following the May 1997 election victory; but even so, its negative rating of -14% on this measure in February shortened to -8.6% in March.

As far as the personal standing of the three main party leaders was concerned, Tony Blair saw an increase of 4% (to 50.8%) while William Hague registered a fall of 3.5% (to 18.1%).

Charles Kennedy's rating increased fractionally (from 12.9% in February to 13.2% in March).

But the public have few illusions as to why the election has been deferred to 7 June.

Whereas 34% agreed that the delay was due to Tony Blair's genuine concern about the plight of farmers, an overwhelming 64% judged he was more afraid of a backlash in public opinion if he had held to 3 May.

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05 Apr 01 | Talking Politics
Poll Monitor: Election delay has little effect
03 Apr 01 | Talking Politics
Poll monitor: Labour lead grows
29 Mar 01 | Talking Politics
Poll monitor: Labour lead continues
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