14/12/2011 04:34 GMT | Updated 12/02/2012 05:12 GMT

General Election 2012? Opinion Poll Gains For Tories Prompt Speculation

Opinion polls on voting intention suggest the Conservatives are continuing to slightly out-perform Labour, but the Lib Dems now find themselves neck and neck with UKIP and most people don't seem to trust Ed Miliband on the economy.

A Reuters/Ipsos Mori poll put the Tories on 41 percent, while backing for Labour slipped two points to 39 percent. The surge in Tory support is significant because they appear to have picked up 7 points since the last such poll was taken.

Meanwhile a Comres poll for The Independent puts the two main parties neck-and-neck on 38 percent, but also sugests the public backs the coalition government’s approach to cutting the deficit by a margin of three to one.

In this poll Labour have lost two points and the Tories have gained two points. The Lib Dems are stuck on 12 points, neck and neck with UKIP. This isn't the worst polling for Nick Clegg's party in recent months, but it would still lead to electoral wipeout if it were translated into a general election.

A separate, unscientific poll, suggests a possible collapse in support for Ed Miliband.

The percentage of LabourList readers rating Miliband as Good or Excellent has fallen to just 26% down from 40% last month and a high of 59% in the wake of the phone hacking scandal in July. 41% think that Miliband’s performance has been Poor or Very Poor, with 33% considering his performance to be average.

Labourlist believes the strikes on the 30th of November have been damaging for Ed Miliband.

Meanwhile the subject of an early general election has people gossiping at Westminster, and bookmakers William Hill have slashed their odds of it happening from 4/1 to 3/1. Some Westminster insiders are speculating about whether David Cameron - clearly supported by a majority of the public on his European veto - might decide the coalition has become unworkable and go to the country early.

Achieving this wouldn't be as easy as all that, though, since the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, passed in September, means the date for the next election is fixed at May 2015. That doesn't mean the government couldn't come to a premature end, though, as there could still be a motion within the House to call an early election - or more damaging for the Tories - a disorderly collapse of the coalition and a lost vote of confidence.

However on Tuesday night Nick Clegg reportedly told backbench Lib Dem MPs that he had no intention of causing the government to collapse, because an early general election would wipe out his own party.

The Telegraph reports Clegg as saying: “I don’t want to be the last leader of the Liberal Democrats by provoking a general election today.”