An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph has voting intentions (with changes from the last ICM poll) of CON 33% (-2), LAB 40% (+3), LDEM 19% (+2). Far from the slight drop in the most recent ICM poll representing the end of Gordon Brown’s bounce, it has clearly continued to gather strength in the last week. The 7 point lead for Labour is the largest in an ICM poll since September 2005 and would presumably result in an increased majority if repeated at a general election. On the subject of which, the newspaper coverage of the polls is predictably in the context of whether a snap autumn election is now on the cards – I suspect this is rather too soon: we now have a better idea about the first question we should be asking ourselves about the Brown bounce – how high it will go (to a seven point Labour lead – at least), but still have no clue as to how long it will last, and where it will settle once it is over.

The poll also asked about the possible Conservative policy of recognising marriage in the tax system. There was strong agreement that it was better for parents to be married (70% agreed) and 57% thought it was right for ministers to encourage marriage. However people were far more divided on whether this should be through tax incentives – 49% agreed, 44% were opposed.

A second ICM poll for the News of World (I say second poll, they were actually the same poll with both the Sunday Telegraph and News of the World both having some questions) has the rather suspicious figures of CON 28%, LAB 35%, LDEM 13%. Unless the “others” have jumped to 24% this is not a straight voting intention poll. It appears to have been a “which party do you feel warmest towards”. If these are the straight results from the poll they don’t tell us much, we know that party identification is about these levels – if not and, as implied by a comment from Ian Kirby on Iain Dale’s site, the News of the World have tried to do something clever and approximate a voting intention result by buggering about with recalled vote, why bother with faked voting intention when you’ve got proper figures from the same poll – ignore.

UPDATE: The News of the World data has been published on ICM’s site, with an admonition that “This poll has been reported in some places as containing standard ICM vote intentions. This is not the case, and ICM method vote intentions (state of the parties) should not, and cannot be inferred from this poll.” The actual question asked was “Now that Gordon Brown has taken over, and faces David Cameron for the Conservatives and Ming Campbell for the Liberal Democrats, do you feel that you are becoming warmer to the idea of supporting…..” and the high number of people not saying they felt warmer towards any of the parties was because 11% of people said their feelings weren’t moving.

The actual breaks in the question contain some interesting trends – of people who voted Conservative in 2005, 4% now feel warmer towards Labour and 3% feel warmer towards the Lib Dems. Of people who voted Labour in 2005, 11% now feel warmer towards the Tories, with 6% feeling warmer towards the Lib Dems. Of people who voted Lib Dem in 2005, 19% feel warmer towards the Tories, 23% feel warmer towards Labour. Intersting in itself, but obviously not a proxy for voting intention.

I said a couple of weeks ago that one of the really important considerations about the Brown handover will be whether or not it addresses the public desire for a change. ICM found that 38% of people thought that “Labour under Gordon Brown feels like a new government with a new direction”, but 55% thought “Labour under Gordon Brown feels like a change of faces, and that is about it”. A better finding for Brown was that 50% of people now expect the government to perform better under his leadership than Tony Blair’s, with only 27% disagreeing.

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