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Battleground Britain: exclusive poll of key seats predicts Tory landslide

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 11 September 2008

Channel 4 News poll of key battleground seats suggests the Conservatives could win power with a 150-seat majority.

The Conservatives would beat Labour in the key marginal seats David Cameron needs to take to gain a working majority in the House of Commons, according to an exclusive Channel 4 News poll released today.

If repeated at the next general election, the findings would see the Conservatives sweep to power with a majority of around 150 seats.

The YouGov poll of 2,144 voters in 60 marginal constituencies across Britain gave the Conservatives a 13-point lead, with 45 per cent of voters plumping for the Tories against 32 per cent for Labour.

This suggests that voters in these key battleground seats are following the same pattern as the rest of country in turning away from Labour.

A Guardian ICM poll released this week gave the Conservatives a 15-point national lead, with a 44 per cent share of the vote compared to Labour's 29 per cent.

Interactive: poll results and analysis

Explore the results and read analysis by pollster Peter Kellner, plus a full list of the seats surveyed here.

To download the full results click here (Excel file).

For a more detailed breakdown of the findings, by voting intention, age, gender and social class, click here (Excel file).

The battleground seats

The seats surveyed by Channel 4 News, which are currently held by Labour with a majority of 6-14 per cent, will prove crucial in the run-up to the next election.

They are not the most marginal, but whether Labour loses them to the Tories will determine which will be the largest party, and whether the Conservatives would gain a working majority.

To win these seats, the Conservatives would need a swing of 7 per cent. Our poll indicates the current swing is 12 per cent - which would give a Conservative majority of around 150 seats.

Watch Gary Gibbon's analysis

A new prime minister?

The majority - 59 per cent - of the sample rated Brown as a poor, bad or dreadful prime minister, citing him as being indecisive, out of touch, incompetent and gloomy.

In contrast, 71 per cent of those surveyed gave the thumbs up to David Cameron's performance as Tory leader, rating him as good, excellent or fair.

Despite Brown's low approval ratings, only a third of voters agree with former home secretary Charles Clarke's suggestion that the PM should consider resigning.

Fifty three per cent think Brown should stay in charge until the next general election. - the same number that thought a new leader would make no difference to Labour's prospects of winning the next election. Support for Brown is strongest among Labour voters, 75 per cent of whom think the PM should stay.

Although 40 per cent of voters would choose Cameron as the better prime minister over Brown (and only 22 per cent Brown over Cameron), the gap widens if a choice is given between David Cameron and Miliband. Thirty nine per cent would choose Cameron as pick of the PMs, but only 16 per cent Miliband.

New leader, new election?

If Labour were to make a change at the top, 38 per cent think a general election should follow immediately, and 21 per cent would give the new incumbent six months. Only 22 per cent think parliament should run its course until May 2010.

This gives little hope to those plotters who would wish a new leader to get the full parliamentary run to turn things around, and hold an election later down the line when economic times are expected to be more favourable.

If he were to step down, a large majority - 71 per cent - of the sample thought there should be a proper leadership election with rival candidates, rather than a swift coronation as when Brown took office, unopposed, last summer.

Which ministers stand to lose their seats?

The seats surveyed cover a cross-section of the country from Plymouth to Edinburgh, including areas as far-flung as London, Ipswich, Blackpool and Worcester.

The constituencies transport secretary Ruth Kelly (Bolton West) and home office minister Tony McNulty (Harrow East) fell into the sample. According to the poll results, both MPs would lose their seats.

For a full list of constituencies surveyed, see our interactive guide.

What can Brown do?

Not much, is the short answer.

Those with a negative opinion of Brown were questioned about actions that might encourage them to have a higher opinion of the great clunking fist.

"Take more radical steps to protect from the current economic crisis" was the most popular choice (44 per cent), followed by "be more frank and honest when he speaks and answers questions" and "set out a clearer vision of his ideas for Britain's future" (37 per cent), show he's in touch with ordinary families (34 per cent) and, lagging behind, "sack the chancellor, Alistair Darling, and reshuffle his cabinet" (21 per cent).

A third felt that none of these steps would up Brown in their estimation.

The government's recent announcements on stamp duty seemed to have made little impact on voters. The majority thought the best way to help poorer families in the long-run is to help them with home insulation and energy efficiency.

They also thought that the government should introduce a one-off windfall tax to help poorer families with their bills - something the government has shied away from.

All good news for Cameron?

Although 71 per cent rate the top Tory as a fair, good or excellent leader, 55 per cent think he is a lightweight politician. Only 22 per cent have him down as a heavyweight.

He also has some way to go to gain economic confidence. Only 28 per cent of voters think the party is now more competent than it was to run the economy; 34 per cent are still unconvinced that he has changed the party, saying it is still not competent to run the economy.

Although, as 12 per cent think it could always handle the fiscal books, these plus the improved camp combined outweigh the economic doubters.

Perhaps giving another crumb of hope to Labour, the majority of voters - 59 per cent - think it's important to have experienced people to run the economy at the moment.

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