DAVID Cameron has the best reason among Britain's party leaders to look forward to his summer holidays if yesterday's Guardian/ICM poll is a reliable guide. It put the Conservatives at 39 per cent, Labour at 35 per cent and the Liberal Demoncrats at 17 per cent, on the basis of respondent's voting intentions if there were an election tomorrow. Yet Tony Blair can find consolation in the fact that Labour's share has apparently risen by three points in the last month, narrowing the gap with the Conservatives by one point. Not since January 1993 has the Conservative party been within striking distance of the 40 per cent vote-share which some experts believe would give them the chance to form a government. However, Labour's ability to stay in the game despite controversies over John Prescott and loans-for-peerages and the continuing lack of good news from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, must worry Conservative strategists. It suggests that Labour continues to hold the loyalties of a strong core of support which is not affected by shifting fortunes. For the Liberal Democrats the low 17 per cent share must be depressing and perplexing. After all, the party all but won the supposedly safe Conservative Bromley and Chislehurst seat in the recent byelection there and ran Labour close in the May local elections. Menzies Campbell will need to deliver a powerful speech at the party conference in October if the question of his leadership is to be avoided.
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