Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Economic Boost Melts Labour's Lead over Tories

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Economic Boost Melts Labour's Lead over Tories

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

LABOUR'S lead over the Conservatives has melted away after months of improving economic confidence, an exclusive poll reveals today.

Ed Miliband's party has slipped to 35 per cent since last month, while David Cameron's Conservatives climbed to the same figure, Ipsos MORI found.

The blow to Mr Miliband comes despite evidence that his personal standing has dramatically improved since September when the parties stood at 37 per cent to 34. Satisfaction with his leadership has soared by 12 points -- and by a massive 21 points among Labour supporters.

The findings suggest that Mr Miliband has improved his pitch to voters -- but it is too late to stop a rising economic tide lifting the Tory battleship.

Today's poll shows Nick Clegg's Lib-Dems down one point to nine, behind Ukip, who are down one to 10. Tory attacks on "Red Ed" appear to have stuck. More than half of voters, 54 per cent, see Mr Miliband as "Left wing" or "Left of centre", which is 10 per cent higher than two years ago. But so have Labour's attacks on Mr Cameron. Some 57 per cent consider him as being on the Right, up eight points.

Mr Miliband's flagship pledge to freeze gas and electricity bills emerges as the most popular of the policies unveiled by party leaders during the party conference season. Some 62 per cent said it would be best for them, while half said it would be best for the country.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: "The dividing lines between the leaders are a bit clearer after conference season, and they have all shored up their support - especially Ed Miliband, who has given more confidence to his own supporters.

At the same time we have seen the Conservatives' vote share rise in recent months in line with economic optimism. The public's view is fascinatingly poised."

Labour's lead has trended downwards since January from 13 points on Ipsos MORI's monthly Political Monitor survey. It is the first time that the pollsters have found the parties on levelpegging since January 2012. Optimism about the economy is slightly lower than it was in September. …

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