Conservatives widen opinion poll lead

LONDON (Reuters) - The opposition Conservative Party has widened its opinion poll lead to 13 percentage points, up four points from last month, a ComRes survey showed on Saturday.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the Prime Minister's Questions in Westminster, London in this January 13, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The poll, to be published in the Independent on Sunday, followed one by Populus earlier this week which also showed the Conservatives holding a 13 point lead over the ruling Labour Party.

Support for both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, Britain’s third party, remained unchanged in the ComRes survey at 29 percent and 19 percent respectively, compared to 42 percent for the Conservatives.

The number of people saying they would vote for a party other than one of the main three fell four percentage points.

The projections suggest the Conservatives would secure a majority of 70 seats in parliament in an election due by June, ComRes said.

According to the telephone poll of 1,005 people carried out between January 13 and January 14, 33 percent of respondents agreed that Labour “has the right ideas about how to get Britain out of recession,” while 59 percent disagreed.

Arguments over how to reduce Britain’s record public deficit -- through public spending cuts, higher taxes or reduced borrowing -- have dominated the early skirmishes in the election campaign.

While the Conservatives have said that, if elected, they plan to start cutting the deficit in 2010 to safeguard confidence in Britain’s economy, Labour warn that withdrawing stimulus measures too soon could sabotage the recovery.

Some other recent polls have pointed to a shrinking Conservative lead that could result in a parliament in which no party obtains an overall majority, meaning Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg could hold the balance of power.

But 64 percent of those surveyed by ComRes said they disagreed that Clegg was a better political leader than either Prime Minister Gordon Brown or opposition leader David Cameron.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Charles Dick