Opinion poll puts Labour one point behind

Prime Minister Gordon Brown gestures during a "listening session" with members of the local community in Leeds November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

LONDON (Reuters) - Previously sceptical Labour Party backers are returning their support to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday, boosting Labour to almost level with its Conservative rival.

A ComRes opinion poll for the Independent newspaper put Labour support at 36 percent, up five points on last month and catching up with David Cameron’s Conservative Party, which lost 2 percent from last month’s poll to score 37 percent support.

The gap between the two main parties is the narrowest in any poll since January when an Ipsos MORI poll put Labour one point ahead, the Independent said.

The Liberal Democrats, the nation’s third largest political party, registered 17 percent support, up one percentage point from the previous month.

The ComRes survey showed that voters in the lower-earning social groups had reacted warmly to the pre-budget measures Brown’s government announced last week -- including a new 45 percent top rate of tax for high earners and a small reduction in value added tax.

It also found that among voters who identified themselves as natural Labour supporters, 87 percent said they would now vote for the party compared with 81 percent last month.

Among Conservative “identifiers,” those intending to vote for Cameron’s party fell to 91 percent from 95 percent last month.

Reporting by Kate Kelland