A poll of PinkNews.co.uk readers has found that although Labour is still the top choice for gay voters, there has been a substantial shift towards the Conservative Party since the last election. Among first time gay voters, the Conservatives are overwhelmingly the most popular party.

Our survey of more than a thousand readers found that 28 per cent said they would vote Labour if a general election was held tomorrow, with the Tories and the Lib Dems following on 25 per cent each. The Greens came fourth with 19 per cent.

Only 17 per cent of respondents voted Tory in the last election in 2005. A PinkNews.co.uk poll last June placed David Cameron’s party ahead of Labour at 39 per cent compared to 29 per cent, but the Tories have lost their lead since the controversy over their European allies, who have been accused of homophobia.

However, their rating among LGBT voters has picked up since our October poll, which found that only 22 per cent would vote for them, compared to 36 per cent for Labour.

Interestingly, those who were too young to vote in 2005 were more likely to back the Tories than any other party. Forty per cent of those now aged under 23 said they would vote Tory, compared to eight per cent who said they would vote Labour and 32 per cent who said they would vote Lib Dem.

These voters are not old enough to remember a Tory government, although most will have experienced school under Section 28, the law which banned the promotion of homosexuality.

We asked our readers who they wanted to lead the country, regardless of which party they would vote for. Cameron was the most popular choice with 25 per cent wanting him to run the country. Current prime minister Gordon Brown came second with 24 per cent, while Nick Clegg closely followed on 23 per cent. However, more than a quarter (28 per cent) did not rate any of the three politicians, opting for ‘none of the above’.

Brown was the second most popular choice to lead his own party, coming in one percentage point behind foreign secretary David Miliband, who 18 per cent of our readers wanted to lead the Labour Party.

Equalities minister Harriet Harman was the third most popular choice, while ten per cent opted for the openly gay Lord Mandelson, despite the constitutional changes which could be needed to give him the leadership.

As three party leaders court the pink vote with interviews and mentions of civil partnerships, we asked our readers what were the most important issues when casting their votes.

By far the biggest proportion (35 per cent) named the economy as their top concern, followed by 20 per cent who cited LGBT issues. Sixteen per cent said foreign issues, while 14 per cent said education and 11 per cent said health. Only four per cent named immigration as their biggest worry.

The Lib Dems have also gained LGBT supporters since the last election. Twenty per cent of our readers said they voted for Nick Clegg’s party last time around and 25 per cent say they would vote Lib Dem if an election was held tomorrow.

Following the launch of their LGBT manifesto, the Green Party were named as the party with the best gay-friendly policies. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s recent support of gay marriage may have helped his party into second place with 29 per cent, while Labour and the Conservative Party languished behind on 16 per cent and seven per cent respectively.

1,076 people who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans took part in a self selecting online survey on on March 10th and 11th.