WHERE were they? The Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Leader of the House were all missing from their usual places at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. If there was any significance in this absenteeism, David Cameron chose not to exploit it. A pity really because his preferred topics of the government's administrative incompetence and legislation on knives did not get him very far. The outcome was a rather boring no-score draw. Of greater interest at the moment are the opinion polls published over the past few days.
One of them, by MORI which tends to be a rogue pollster on occasions, made the headlines with a ten point lead for the Conservatives. However, three others all agreed that Mr Cameron's party is now three percent ahead at 37 per cent, with Labour on 34 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 18 per cent. Surprisingly, given that almost nothing has gone right for Mr Blair over recent weeks, these figures show a strong (four per cent) Labour recovery from a month ago and a small decline for the Conservatives. What is still striking, of course, is that Mr Cameron is the first Conservative leader in almost ten years to take the lead from Tony Blair. However, he still has a lot to do to achieve a working majority at a general election and yesterday the first distant rumbles of trouble in his party over Europe were to be heard.