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 A/V REPORTS
The BBC's Peter Snow
analyses the latest polls
 real 56k

Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 19:30 GMT 20:30 UK
Labour lead cut
The latest state of the opinion polls
David Cowling

The ICM/Guardian poll gives Labour 43% (down 4% on one week ago), the Conservatives 32% (up 4%) and the Lib Dems 19% (up 2%).

This poll is guaranteed to cause a flurry as it is so close to polling day.

Bar chart showing the results of the ICM poll for the Guardian
However, the previous ICM/Guardian survey a week ago happened to register the highest lead in that series since December 1999.

On the 1st and 3rd of this month, two ICM polls (for C4 News and The Observer respectively) gave 12% Labour leads; and ICM's poll in the London Evening Standard on 4 June put the lead at 17%.

What are we to make of all this?

The more facetious among us might suggest splitting the difference but I think we need a little more rigour than that.

What to make of it

It seems that the previous ICM poll for the Guardian was an outrider and therefore the contrast with this one is very marked.

Of the six surveys published on polling day in the 1997 general election, ICM came closest to the actual Labour share of the vote.

If these latest ICM figures are fed into the Online Virtual Vote model it suggests a Labour majority slightly reduced from its present 179 seats to 167.

The survey asked respondents if they were more or less likely to vote Labour in the face of another Labour landslide: 90% of Labour supporters said it made no difference to them and 7% said it would make them more likely to vote for the party.

When it came to Tony Blair's personal attributes, 59% disagreed that he was arrogant and 52% that he was out of touch.

Out of touch?

Some 67% thought he was experienced and 62% that he had lots of personality.

However, respondents were evenly divided on whether he understood people like them (47% agreed and 47% disagreed) and 51% disagreed that he was more honest than most politicians.

The survey also tested attitudes towards a number of Mr Hague's potential rivals.

Respondents were asked if various individuals led the Conservative party would they be more or less likely to vote for the party on 7 June.

The net figures (the difference between those who said they were more or less likely) were: Ann Widdecombe -22%, Michael Portillo 17%, Ian Duncan Smith -32% and Kenneth Clarke -17%.

Perhaps one of the reasons Labour still maintains a substantial lead in this poll is the answer to the question: would public services such as schools and hospitals get better or worse under a Labour government?

Some 36% thought they would get better compared with 16% who thought they would worsen (41% thought they would stay the same).

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