THERE are opinion polls for all seasons. Last week we had one which showed strong recognition of Gordon Brown's sterling qualities, such as integrity, political strength, prudence, reliability (but not charisma!).
This week a Guardian/ICM poll says that with Mr Brown as leader Labour would lose the next election to the Conservatives by 42 to 29 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats getting 17 per cent.
The polling company unkindly pointed out that the last time Labour lost in such a fashion was with Michael Foot in charge.
I think it is necessary to be very careful with polls that ask hypothetical questions. Gordon Brown has had no opportunity to show in specific terms what he would do as prime minister or what leadership qualities he possesses; for the moment, out of loyalty, he is harnessed to Tony Blair's policies and the longer this remains the case the more difficult it will be for him to make his mark. Meanwhile David Cameron is free to float policies as he wishes, although thus far he has noticeably avoided the tough issues.
A more worrying polling result for Labour was one showing a 40 to 31 per cent advantage to the Conservatives if there were an election tomorrow.
The leaderless condition of Labour is perhaps taking its toll at last. The only solution is the departure of the deluded Tony Blair at the earliest possible moment, regardless of who succeeds him.