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Labour captures parents' support

Labour appears to have captured the parental vote. A survey of 4,115 parents puts Labour ahead on 41 per cent, the Tories on 24 per cent and Lib Dems on 9 per cent. Sixteen per cent were still undecided and 3 per cent opted for the Referendum Party.

The result shows that even if David Blunkett's education policies have left many teachers doubtful, parents have been won over.

The poll represents the preliminary findings of a survey conducted by DRS Data and Research Services in 250 schools throughout the country. Pupils were also asked who they would vote for and the results were similar: 38 per cent said Labour, 18 per cent Conservative, 8 per cent Lib Dem and the rest undecided.

The total number of votes gathered so far from pupils and parents is 18, 000. Eighty-seven per cent of parents intended to use their vote.

Asked who would make the best prime minister, Tony Blair got 39 per cent of the votes, John Major 23 per cent, Paddy Ashdown 10 per cent, with 21 per cent unsure. This should help reassure Labour that Mr Blair's popularity is holding despite Tory efforts to exploit Mr Major's image as a man of the people.

The survey confirms that anxiety over Europe is dominating the election. Fifty-eight per cent said Britain should not adopt the European currency, 21 per cent said it should and 17 per cent were unsure.

On spending, 84 per cent said more should be invested in schools and 87 per cent wanted more spent on hospitals. Defence spending should stay the same, said 49 per cent, while 31 per cent thought we should spend less than at present.

The majority thought we should spend the same on roads, social security and Third World aid. More should be spent on the homeless (45 per cent) and the same on sport (40 per cent). But the arts, should get less money, said 52 per cent.

Labour's promise not to increase tax was also endorsed. Just 17 per cent thought people should pay more tax, 39 per cent thought taxation should remain the same, and 33 per cent thought we should pay less tax.

Sleaze seems to have made an impact. Asked how often they trust what politicians say, less than 1 per cent said always, 61 per cent sometimes, and 35 per cent never.

Most people wanted to keep the monarchy (63 per cent); 22 per cent were convinced Republicans and 10 per cent were unsure.

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