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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 20:27 GMT
Labour poll lead dips
Graph showing the latest state of play in opinion polls
David Cowling

The ICM/ Guardian poll published 23 May 2001 puts Labour at 45% (down 1% on one week ago) the Conservatives on 32% (up 1%) and the Liberal Democrats at 17% (up 1%).

The Labour lead of 13% is 2% down on last week and the lowest recorded by a poll since the ICM Guardian survey published in March this year.

Bar chart of opinion poll for the Guardian
There is also a minor problem because due to rounding up the figures the voting intention adds up to 101%. Although the movement last week is hardly seismic and well within the margin of error it will doubtless give some encouragement to the Conservatives.

William Hague also finds his continued leadership following the election endorsed by 62% of Conservative voters, as opposed to 29% who think he should stand down.

When asked to assess potential challengers, 45% of Conservative voters supported Ann Widdecombe and 15% supported Portillo.

Prescott boost

The poll found that John Prescott still has a negative personal rating at -11 points but that compares to -22 back in March. Among Labour voters his standing has gone up to +36 which is a 6 point increase since March.

For Labour there is some encouragement that they have slightly increased their lead over the Conservatives as the party with the best policy on taxation.

However, they are neck and neck with the Conservatives on the issue of crime.

More worrying for Mr Blair has to be the public's initial reaction the launch of his idea for improving public services during the next parliament, namely a greater infusion of private investment and private management.

By 52% to 38% respondents opposed private management of state schools; and when it came to introducing some private management to NHS hospitals, he could not command a majority among Labour voters.

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