Ten-point lead in Mail poll puts Tories on course for a majority in election

The Tories have a ten-point lead over Labour  -  enough to secure a working majority on May 6  -  according to a poll carried out for the Daily Mail.

And the gap between the personal ratings of David Cameron and Gordon Brown is wider still.

Asked if they would rather see a Conservative government under Cameron or a Labour government under Brown after the election, 42 per cent went for the former and only 29 per cent the latter.

This 13 per cent gap compared with the overall poll figures, putting the Tories on 37 per cent, Labour on 27 and the Liberal Democrats on 22.

The findings of the survey by Harris are an emphatic endorsement of the Tory leader's flagship policies.

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They also provide proof that immigration has become a major issue with voters even though it has been widely ignored as a national campaign issue.

An overwhelming majority of voters want tough controls on immigration and almost half say they would be more likely to vote for any party which offered a crackdown.

BROWN 'HIDING FROM VOTERS'

Gordon Brown was accused of hiding from ordinary voters last night, as he kicked off his election tour with a series of stage-managed meetings with Labour supporters.

Labour aides have boasted that Mr Brown is planning a 'canteen campaign', meeting ordinary people in their workplaces and homes to discuss their concerns.

But his election tour began with a series of carefully choreographed events that appeared to involve almost exclusively Labour supporters.

Neighbours outside the house of one Labour member visited by Mr Brown yesterday said the Prime Minister appeared to be 'nervous' about meeting ordinary voters.

The Prime Minister had arrived at the home of 80-year-old Labour Party member Isobel Jordan in Watford to discuss local problems with antisocial behaviour. The house had an eight-foot high Vote Labour poster outside, the only one in the street.

On arrival Mr Brown and his wife Sarah were whisked inside by local Labour officials, where the Prime Minister was lobbed a series of soft questions by a group of a dozen people, all of whom appeared to be Labour sympathisers.

Some 63 per cent of voters think the influx of 2million immigrants to Britain since Labour came to power has been a

'bad thing', more than five times the number who think it is a good thing. And 69 per cent say they are 'very worried' about the scale of immigration.

In what is the most comprehensive study of the attitude of voters towards migration since the general election campaign began, the poll found that 74 per cent believe the current level of net immigration  -  around 160,000 a year  -  is 'too many'.

Three out of four voters want to see a numerical annual cap on arrivals and there is overwhelming endorsement of Tory plans to keep net annual immigration below 100,000 a year.

More than two thirds of voters think that immigration will have a 'negative' impact on their quality of life if the population hits 70million, as official estimates suggest.

The figures will be embarrassing for Gordon Brown, who gave a speech and issued a No 10 podcast just a week ago boasting about Labour's success in controlling immigration.

Some 74 per cent of voters quizzed by Harris said that the Government has been 'ineffective' at managing immigration since 1997, with just 20 per cent saying it has been effective.

Mr Brown promised that Labour would pursue a policy of 'British jobs for British workers' but 64 per cent of voters believe he has not met that promise 'at all', more than double the 31 per cent who say he has been partially successful and 13 times the number who think he has been 'completely' successful. 

Labour ministers argue that immigration has been necessary to plug gaps in the job market. But voters do not appear to accept that explanation.

Fewer than half think that immigration brings valuable skills to Britain and 63 per cent believe it leads to 'higher unemployment among people born in Britain'.

Almost half of those polled are in favour of British-born workers being given preference when employers are deciding who to hire, with only 22 per cent against.

Many MPs and candidates are campaigning on immigration issues at a local level, in part because the influx of immigrants has left councils struggling to cope.


David Cameron visits Spear, a youth training centre in Hammersmith, west London,

David Cameron visits Spear, a youth training centre in Hammersmith, west London, as a new poll for the Mail shows that the majority of people support tax breaks on marriage

The poll shows that 72 per cent believe immigration has caused 'significant overstretch' in public services such as schools and hospitals, and 68 per cent believe it is a 'significant cause of unrest'.

Six out of ten voters in the Harris poll said that they felt immigration is a threat to 'traditional British life'. Only a slim majority  -  43 per cent to 32  -  believe that immigrationbrings 'welcome cultural diversityto Britain.

The findings of the Harris poll were supported by the latest YouGov survey for The Sun, which last night also put the Tories 10 points ahead on 40 per cent, with Labour on 30 and the LibDems 20 per cent.

Both polls add to the view that Gordon Brown's prospects of clinging to power are slipping away.

In a sign of his growing desperation, the Prime Minister gave an interview urging voters to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats to keep the Tories out.

Echoing a call for tactical voting from Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, he told the website politics.co.uk: 'If you don't want a Conservative government make sure you don't get one.

'I want everybody to vote Labour. But if people don't want a Conservative government then they must make sure they don't allow the Conservatives in.'

The poll results were seized on by the Tories. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This Government has completely failed to control immigration.'

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General Election 2010: Ten-point lead in Mail poll puts Tories on course for a majority in election