THE Independent newspaper performs a useful service by commissioning a “poll of polls” every month which is designed to provide an overview of the many and various political opinion polls taken during the past month. Its June assessment, just published, showed that Labour and Conservatives were probably running neck-and-neck with each on 36 per cent and the Liberal Democrats at 17 per cent. In March this poll-of-polls gave the Conservatives an eight point lead. Some heavily-headlined polls taken in the immediate aftermath of Gordon Brown's arrival at No 10, for instance yesterday's Populus poll in “The Times”, showed Labour having gained a four point lead since early last month and the Conservatives having lost two points to put Labour ahead 37-34.

Either way there has been a remarkable recovery in Labour's position. This is probably a result of Mr Blair's departure and Mr Brown's impressive early performance combined with the Conservative's lacklustre and muddled appearance over the past few weeks which Mr Cameron's reshuffle of his shadow cabinet will have done little to improve. However, there is nothing in the polls to shed light on whether or not Gordon Brown will decide to call an early election, although it is worth keeping in mind that a 36-36 share would give Labour an overall majority in the House of Commons of about 20 seats. That is hardly enough for a party committed to “change” to risk an early election.


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