New polls cement Lib Dem lead
By Ian Dunt
A new poll released this afternoon confirms a huge surge in Liberal Democrats support, with the party up ten points.
The survey, conducted by ICM for the Guardian sees the party on 30%, three points behind the Tories on 33% and two points ahead of Labour on 28%.
It is the first time Labour has been forced into third place in the history of the ICM/Guardian series, which stretches back to 1984.
The newfound support seems to have come at the expense of both Labour, which dropped three points, and the Conservatives, who dropped four points.
It comes just hours after a YouGov poll for the Sun put the party in first place, but with its support taking place predominantly at the expense of Labour.
The governing party’s support fell 26%, while the Tories stood on 32%. The Lib Dems were one point ahead, on 33%.
The new polls will consolidate the impression that Nick Clegg’s leaders’ debate performance has changed the shape of the 2010 election campaign.
A BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday saw Lib Dem support at 32%, a point ahead of the Tories on 31% and well ahead of Labour on 28%.
Other polls saw huge support for the party and Nick Clegg’s approval ratings nearing Winston Churchill level.
The previously downbeat campaign has now turned into a highly volatile three-way race, with an ever increasing likelihood the Lib Dems could end up with some Cabinet seats as a result of a hung parliament.
In an interview with the Guardian today, Tory leader David Cameron admitted the race had become electrified.
“That is the excitement of an election campaign – there are moves and tides, and shifts and great sweeps.”
Speaking in London this morning, Mr Cameron added: “People are asking me ‘how are you going to respond, what are you going to do, are you suddenly going to go negative?’
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to redouble the positive. I’m going to make sure everything we do is about the positive future for your country.”
Gordon Brown spent most of the morning chairing a Cobra meeting in to the volcanic ash cloud which has grounded all flights to and from the UK.
But in an event highlighting Labour’s economic policy this morning, the prime minister suggested Mr Clegg’s period of popularity would be short-lived.
“I know a little about what it is to have a short political honeymoon,” Mr Brown said, referring to his brief window of popularity just after entering Downing Street.
Meanwhile, Mr Clegg began the day with an early-morning press conference in which he pledged to redirect £3.1 billion of spending towards a ‘green stimulus’, creating over 30,000 jobs.