The leaders won’t dare risk honesty

At the beginning of manifesto week and the first leader’s debate on Thursday, voters give a howl of protest at all-party lying in a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday. Will the leaders’ come clean? Will they hell. Unless somebody breaks ranks in the leaders’ debates. Of the Big Two, Brown has least to lose but he has never been one for the bold gamble has he?

The survey, taken yesterday and on Friday, shows that 63 per cent of people agree with the statement that “neither Labour nor the Conservatives are being honest about how they would reduce public borrowing” – with only 27 per cent disagreeing.

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Of the possible outcomes of the election, 29 per cent said they would prefer to see the Tories form a government with an overall majority, while 26 per cent favoured a Labour-Lib Dem coalition in a hung parliament. Some 25 per cent said they wanted Labour to win with an outright majority, while 20 per cent favoured a Tory- Lib Dem alliance.

While this appear to boost support for a hung parliament, no party is yet prepared to come out clearly and back it decisively although Brown is clearly flirting with the idea. Yet for all the talk of a hung parliament the polls show a consolidating if not decisive Conservative lead. And according to the latest forecasts in the IoS piece, 7 out of 8 pollsters, the people who pore over the fine details of each other’s figures, believe the Conservatives will win an overall majority
Adds Martin Ivens in the Sunday Times has a thoughtful piece “Who’s more honest: voters or politicians?” He’s right about voters needing strong leadership to accept serious cuts but too kind about the ” more or less honest” tax and spend debates.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London