Even Labour's once impregnable lead as the party most likely to protect public services is now narrow. While 48% of voters think Labour will protect services, 46% also think the Tories will do the same.
Labour still has a positive score on the issue of 1 point, meaning slightly more people think the party will protect services than harm them. But the Tory deficit is only 3 points, suggesting Labour warnings about the impact of Tory rule are no longer hitting home.
That is also the only issue where Labour still has the edge. On the battleground issue of controlling public debt, the Conservatives lead strongly. Only 23% think Labour is likely to cut borrowing, and 72% think it will not – a negative score of -49 points. For the Tories, 51% think the party will cut borrowing and only 43% think it will not – a positive lead of 8 points.
Other findings suggest public confidence in Labour has collapsed since similar questions were asked in October 2002. Asked whether they think the Conservatives will take the right decisions in government, 48% think they will and 45% say not – a net positive score of 3 points. For Labour, 33% think it will take the right decisions, and 62% say not – a net deficit of -29 points. The political picture has reversed since 2002, when the Tory deficit on this measure was -25 and Labour's was only -1.
The failed cabinet rebellion against Brown has hit perceptions of party unity hard. While more people think the Tories are united than think they are not – a net positive score of 21 points – Labour's negative score is a huge -61. That means only 18% of all voters think Labour is united, against 79% who say it is not. In 2002, people were far more likely to see the Tories than Labour as a split party.
Asked whether they think the three main parties are likely to clean up the political system, 46% think the Conservatives will, 47% think the Liberal Democrats will, but only 31% say this of Labour.
The prime minister's recent announcement of constitutional reform plans has not won public backing. Labour's deficit on the issue is -33, against just -3 for the Tories.
Asked whether they think the Conservatives are in tune with ordinary voters, 46% say yes. Only 32% say the same thing about Labour.
The headline figures are better for Labour though. Labour 28% (+6), Cons 39% (-1) and LibDems 18% (-7).