The most worrying finding in the poll for the Tories is that voters appear to have taken the austerity message of George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, at face value on both taxes and public spending. Asked which of the two main parties would raise taxes most after the election, 37% named the Tories against 26% for Labour. When asked a similar question about cuts in frontline public services, 50% of people thought the Tories would cut more, compared with 14% for Labour.
The poll shows Mr Cameron is more trusted than Mr Brown to deliver on the NHS (by two per cent), schools (by seven per cent) and the economy (by three per cent).
However, in January his leads were eight per cent, 12 per cent, and seven per cent respectively.
So, Labour is gaining traction on the big ticket items. Their simple message is getting though. But wait, other goodies are being tossed up in the air.
Suddenly, Lords reform is pushed forward and there is the promise of another public holiday. Then it’s discovered that Darling has saved himself some money, which will give Brown further ammunition to create his famous dividing lines in the Budget.
Finally, Yvette Cooper is out and about pushing forward ‘family friendly’ policies:
The minister will promise that from later this year, every time a new full-time vacancy is advertised in a job centre, the employer will be asked if the position can be instead offered part-time, as a job-share or another variant of flexible working.
It’s all part of setting the agenda (which the Tories are failing to do), enticing the voters to look again at Labour and keeping the patent happy this side of the election.
The concern for the Tory party is that Labour’s strategy, if the polls are the judge, is working.