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NOTW/ICM poll gives Tories 38-seat lead

David Cameron is set to sweep Gordon Brown aside and secure a 38-SEAT majority in the General Election, a shock poll reveals today.

The ICM poll carried out for the News of the World shows the Conservatives have managed to secure a thumping 8.5 per cent swing in key marginal seats across the country.

Our in-depth quiz in the parliamentary seats that will decide the election suggests the Tories could get rid of almost 130 Labour MPs.

It also shows senior Labour MPs, including Cabinet ministers with majorities of up to 8,000, are no longer safe.

Chancellor Alastair Darling, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy and leadership contender Jon Cruddas, with a 7,605 majority, all face the boot.

And at least 151 new Tory MPs could be taking their seats in the new Parliament after the country goes to the polling booths in May.

ICM quizzed voters in 97 seats where Labour are in first place, and where the Tories need to increase their vote by between eight and 20 per cent to overturn them.

Our poll says the Tories will win 80 of those, on top of 49 seats where Labour MPs have a smaller majority. And if the swing revealed in today’s poll is repeated in areas where they are trying to unseat the Lib Dems, Cameron would walk into Downing Street with an 88-seat majority.

The poll also reveals:

A MAJORITY of voters (54%) now believe Cameron has the skills to become PM, though 56% say he is too inexperienced to tell for sure if he’ll will be any good.

GORDON BROWN earns considerable sympathy. Almost 80% say the Prime Minister is trying to do a good job under difficult circumstances.

CAMERON’S decision to launch his election campaign early is paying dividends. The Tory leader has a strong lead in areas like the NHS, schools and fighting crime.

Mr Cameron enjoys a 12-point lead over Mr Brown when voters are asked who would make the best Prime Minister (45% v 33%). That figure includes almost a quarter of the people who say they voted Labour in 2005.

However, it is now abundantly clear that Labour will not win any ground by finding a new leader before May.

Although 18% of voters say they’d be more likely to vote Labour if Brown stood down, 17% say it would make them less likely to vote Labour, giving a new leader a rise in the polls of just 1%. No potential Tory voters say they’d turn to Labour if Brown goes.

Despite fierce criticism of his managerial style by ex-Cabinet ministers such as James Purnell and Charles Clarke, only 36% of voters say Mr Brown is weak and indecisive, while 57% disagree.

However, only 20% say Gordon Brown will be able to unite the Labour party. And 59% disagree with the Labour’s depiction of David Cameron as a posh toff who will not look after the ordinary people’s needs.

In the battle over policies, the Labour party are gambling on their ability to pull Britain out of recession, hoping that translates into votes.

Today’s poll shows the most important election issues will be managing the ECONOMY, securing JOBS and PROSPERITY, TAXES and public SERVICES (all scoring more than 80% in voters’ approval).

however, brown and cameron both score 39% when the public are asked who would be best at setting taxes.

Mr Cameron has a slim lead (41% v 40%) over who is best to deal with the RECESSION.

But in other traditional Labour policy areas the Tories now have a strong lead: On modernising the NHS his ratings are 47%/31%; on improving SCHOOLS 46%/33%; and on cutting CRIME 43%/29%.

Cameron was seen as a clear leader when it comes to controlling IMMIGRATION, scoring 52% against Brown’s 22%. But it is clear the public has little confidence either party can win the war in Afghanistan, with Tories rated at 28% and Labour 26%.

Elections expert Prof John Curtice, from the University of Strathclyde, says today’s poll indicates the Tories SHOULD be on course for the sort of landslide Tony Blair won 13 years ago but in reality they are unlikely to achieve such a huge victory.

He explained: "The Tories are hoping they’ll do better in these marginals than in the country as a whole. However, this poll says they’re doing the same as elsewhere in the country."

For the past three years the Conservatives have been spending millions on campaigning in marginals. Yet just 28% of voters in those seats say they have seen any evidence of Tory doorstep campaigning, compared to 24% for Labour and 13% for the Lib Dems.

The Lib Dem figure is understandably low, as these are not seats they hope to win. However, those Lib Dem voters may prove crucial to the Tories.

Almost a third of all voters (32%) in marginals say they’d be prepared to vote tactically for another party to stop someone else winning — and the figure rose significantly to 39% among Lib Dem supporters.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,004 people by telephone on January 19 - 21, 2010. Interviews were conducted across the 97 Labour-held political constituencies (based on next election boundaries) where the Conservatives were in second place, needing a swing of 4 to 10 per cent to win the seat. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council.



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