The Sunday Times poll gives them a ten point lead - which would give them a clear 20 seat majority. The poll of polls puts the result at Tories: 37; Labour 31; Lib-Dems 19. The key issue? Whether fiscal retrenchment will kill off a fragile recovery. Labour already has plans to increase the equivalent of FICA taxes. The Tories are pouncing:

The chancellor is planning to increase national insurance contributions by 1% for both employers and employees from April 2011 and appeared to concede to the Treasury select committee of MPs that the tax rise could affect jobs. He had told MPs he would not be specific but "we said we think the impact [on jobs] is manageable, it'll be limited, because you've got to take into account everything else that's happening at the time".

The Conservatives have insisted they will not introduce the rise on incomes below £35,000. They have won the support of some business leaders who backed the national insurance pledge made by the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, by writing to the Daily Telegraph to warn that increasing national insurance would damage business as the country emerges from recession.

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