Conservatives take the lead in a poll for the first time since 2012

David Cameron Looks Upwards

A YouGov poll, released last night, has placed the Conservatives on 35%, just ahead of Labour on 34%

This is the first time Labour have not been in the lead in a poll since May 2012 when the infamous ‘omnishambles’ budget was presented to the country by George Osbourne.

Such a poll could be a sign of change in the political landscape and could see the Conservatives build momentum towards May next year. Armed with headlines such as ‘tax cuts for 30m’ it is arguable that the Conservatives are taking the lead position in next year’s race.

Combined with Ed Miliband ‘forgetting the deficit’ in his recent speech, this could change the public’s view on the two main parties.

Writing in the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland even said: ‘David Cameron fired the starting gun. In the process, he lodged at least a couple of deadly bullets into the flesh of his Labour opponents.’ Despite hiccups at the start of the conference - the defection of Mark Reckless and Boris Johnson’s former Deputy Mayor, as well as the resignation of Newmark - it is clear that the Conservative conference did not go as badly as many predicted at the start.

On the other hand, it could be a post-conference one off and in a couple of weeks Labour might return to its strong lead in the polls. But if not, it is possible that the Conservatives could be edging towards a victory in 2015.

However, it is important to mention margins of error. Peter Kellner, the President of YouGov has urged caution on the poll, writing on the company’s website that: ‘A one-point lead is well within sampling error; and YouGov has frequently reported very small Labour leads in recent weeks. Our latest figures are not so very different from those.’

The poll also put UKIP on 14% and the Liberal Democrats on just 6 points.

Interestingly, when the poll’s results are put into ‘Electoral Calculus’s’ user-defined prediction, Labour would get 316 seats and the Conservatives would get 296 seats. In this scenario, due to the strange nature of first-past-the-post boundaries, Labour would get the second highest vote share, yet get the highest number of seats, whilst the Conservatives would get the exact opposite. However, it is important to note that such calculators are crude measures and are used as rough guides. For example, it is still unknown how strong the UKIP effect will be in May, and how well the Liberal Democrats will do in holding their seats. Additionally, with the SNP expected to do well in Scotland, at Labour’s expense, there is still all to play for in the run up to May 2015.

But back to the poll - such a lead will be hailed as a positive for the Conservatives, but as advised by Peter Kellner, everyone must be cautious about such close results.

A lot is still unknown, and everything could change by May next year, but to quote just about every politician, whilst polls are important to give an indicator of mood: ‘the only poll that matters is the one on election day itself’.