POLLS should always be regarded with suspicion. For example, do we really believe that Labour, despite all of its recent difficulties, is really 19 points in front of the Tories as all the polls suggest? This would mean an even bigger Labour majority than the one it obtained in 1997 - and that was a post-war record.

Then there is yesterday's poll by Mori - a respected polling organisation - which shows that 52 per cent of British people would like to leave the European Union. This was such a high figure that it even surprised the Yorkshire arch Euro-sceptic Paul Sykes who commissioned it.

This was not a poll about joining the single currency - a prospect that many people understandably have problems with - but about tearing up the economic policy of the last 30 years, which, by and large, has been pretty profitable for the UK, and starting all over again on our own.

Mr Sykes and his British Democracy Campaign - which wants us to withdraw from Europe - was naturally delighted.

He had some interesting, and valid, things to say about it. He criticised the major political parties, saying: "There's no debate, no information, apart from 'vote for us and we will represent you for another five years'."

He is quite right. None of the parties dares to stand up and say what the last 30 years of European co-operation and integration have achieved, even though the country at the moment boasts the lowest unemployment for 30 years, the lowest interest rates for 30 years and the lowest inflation rate for 30 years.

Mr Sykes also said: "The politicians are not representing the public any longer." From the results of his poll, this appears to be true.

But it could also be the case that the public are no longer listening to their leaders. Why has no mainstream leader of the last 20 years, and that includes Margaret Thatcher, not seriously put forward our case for total withdrawal? Why do the Tories, consistently told they are 19 points behind despite being prone to bandwagon-jumping in the search for populist votes, still stick by the slogan: "In Europe, not ruled by Europe"? Could it be that our leaders know that there is no viable economic alternative to forming a trading area with Europe and so, even when the polls show them languishing, they cannot ditch that fundamental truth.

A final reason why this poll should be regarded with suspicion is the result of the last General Election, when the Referendum Party polled a paltry 2.59 per cent and the UK Independence Party a pathetic 0.34 per cent.

As those Labour candidates rushing to stand in the most unlikely of seats might discover, it is not what people say to pollsters that counts, but where they put their cross on election day