Another poll blow for Labour

Almost half of voters would back a Conservative government under David Cameron if Gordon Brown was leading Labour, a new survey finds.

A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph finds 46 per cent of voters would prefer a Tory government compared to 33 per cent a Labour government under the chancellor.

The results will be a blow to Mr Brown, who is expected to be the next prime minister, particularly given his efforts in recent weeks to expand his remit beyond financial affairs to national security, citizenship and education.

Today’s poll finds the Conservatives are still leading on Labour by a significant margin – they command 39 per cent of support, up one point on last month, compared to 32 per cent for Labour (up one per cent) and 16 per cent for the Liberal Democrats (down two).

When voters were asked which party leader would made the best prime minister, Mr Cameron came top with 28 per cent, compared to 27 per cent for Tony Blair and just six per cent for Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell.

Asked if Mr Cameron himself was a good leader, 35 per cent of respondents said yes, 29 per cent no and 38 per cent did not know.

Earlier this week, Mr Brown sought to reassure supporters that Labour had the best policies and voters would respond to this, after a poll showed the party was at its lowest level of support for 19 years.

But today’s poll shows the public have lost a lot of confidence in Labour’s ability to run Britain well – just 31 per cent believe they are doing a good job, down 18 points since the general election, compared to 30 per cent for the Tories, an increase of three points.

A further 61 per cent said they disapproved of the government’s record to date, compared to just 55 per cent in May last year. Less than a quarter approved, down nine points.

Yesterday, Mr Brown said he expected the economy to grow more next year than most people expected, emphasising his main trump card, the handling of the nation’s finances.

But shadow chancellor George Osborne attacked his record during a Commons debate, warning that Mr Brown’s taxes had cut the value of most people’s pensions by £100 billion and his regulations had caused 60,000 schemes to close.

“Does he accept what his own party says – that he has made serious mistakes in the handling of pensions?” Mr Osborne asked.

“If he cannot accept that, surely the current secretary of state for work and pensions [John Hutton] is right – the chancellor will make an ‘effing awful’ prime minister?”

The speaker of the House intervened, saying MPs must use “temperate language”, but Mr Brown responded angrily, saying he had introduced the proper regulation of pensions and a new protection fund for people who lose their pensions.

“We will not do the most important thing, which unfortunately happened under the Conservative government; we will not put the stability of the economy at risk, and that will be foremost in resisting irresponsible and unaffordable tax cuts,” he said.