At the weekend MORI had a poll in the Observer that showed voting intentions of CON 34%, LAB 41%, LDEM 16%. They also published the findings from their regular monthly monitor showing thing like the most important issues facing the country (currently topped by immigration and crime, which has fallen from the previous month when Rhys Jones’s murder was in the news).

However, as I’ve mentioned before, the turnaround rate for face-to-face polling tends to be a bit slower than phone or internet polling, so the figures were almost a week old by the time the Observer came to public and hence the voting intention figures that came out were actually more up to date ones from a separate phone poll. So as not to confuse matters with two sets of voting intention data, the Observer held back the older voting intention data from MORI’s monthly monitor until now, and it now appears on their website here.

The monthly monitor was conducted between September 20th and September 26th, so most of the fieldwork occured at the same time as the Labour conference, with Gordon Brown’s speech bang in the middle of it. Boy did it have an effect – topline voting intentions were CON 31%, LAB 44%, LDEM 15%, Labour’s best performance since 2003.

Since we now have more recent figures from Ipsos MORI that show a much smaller lead we can be relatively confident that they was just a blip, or outlying figures at the top of the margin of error, but all the same it was an astonishing lead. Just think about how the first day of the Conservative conference might have been different if it was those figures that had been on the newspaper front pages as delegates travelled to Blackpool rather than the more managable 7 point lead the Observer did report. A lot of the time the polls are more important for the effect they have on the political weather rather than their predictive quality (after all, there isn’t an election tomorrow), David Cameron is probably lucky he avoided the squall from these figures popping up on the frontpage.


66 Responses to “What Ipsos MORI almost showed”

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  1. Dave Hawk
    I tend to agree with your last para-though we are probably at different ends of the spectrum.
    I think Cameron has demonstrated pretty well-both yesterday & when he won the leadership that he will not tolerate extremes-of left or right-indeed he repreated this yesterday.
    Personally I think he has played a quite clever game.Travelling initially ,overtly & with much publicity to the left of centre on green issues for example.Leaving the Colonel Blimps to get used to this and allowing the furore to abate. Then yesterday coming quietly back to right of centre with practical solutions across the board that appear to be keeping both wings happy.I assume the far right has long since departed for UKIP, and there is no pull to the far left ( I sincerely hope!)

  2. Gary,

    “Even better result for Labour than the snap poll taken straight after Browns conference speech!!! If all voters are included the figures are Labour 48%, Tory 28% and LibDems 14%, a whopping 20% Labour lead!!! Sorry about the exclamations but I just couldn’t resist.”

    Given Labour’s inherent strength in MORI’s ‘all those naming a party’ identifier question. I believe the Conservatives, under Cameron, have led Labour only once on that indicator, imagine the result, should that be accurate and voting mandatory, come a general election, on a uniform swing?

    LAB 487; CON 129; LDEM 6 – Lab maj. 324

    In fact, I don’t think I’d want a majority that huge.

  3. colin, a very good post; but if Labours majority goes up then the 2 more goes to get rid of Labour looks not very good. The current polls seem to indicate an increase in Labours majority (depending on the marginals).

  4. Dave Hawk, when the people speak, their voice must be heard. But a landslide of any size is ok, much better (I feel) than a hung parliament. But no way will Labour get 48%, Tories 28% and LibDems 14%. The next few days will tell us how things have moved, if there is not a move from Labour to Tory I think that the Tories will need to think about a new leader (unless the election is called). I still don’t think there will be one this year but I will not be too unhappy to be proved wrong.

  5. I, for one, will be absolutely astonished if the Tories are not nearly level pegging with Labour in the next crop of polls.

    But, then, I never thought Schwarzenegger would be Governor of California…

  6. Colin,

    That we are. On different sides of the spectrum, that is

    As for the Conservative Party Conference, I must admit the party was on its best behaviour. They knew they had to be. That is why it’s perceived as being a success. Only time will tell if it was good enough to “shake things up a bit”. Voters don’t have much confidence in divided parties or those which they perceive as a less credible alternative to the existing government. That’s why Conservatives were re-elected in 1983 and 1992 against a backdrop of two recessions.

    I sometimes wonder if Labour can preside over continuing economic growth and, successfully, stear the UK through choppy waters, should they come, whether they could emerge as a Fianna Fail style “natural party” of government. I don’t say that with any cockiness. I think we are a ‘centrist’ kind of nation but with a progressive tilt, except on issues like immigration, law and order and Europe.

    I think Labour, in 1997, in setting high objectives, which led to high expectations, have fallen short. That said I really do think an incremental approach bodes better for wider society than any radical overhaul, so as to minimise social trauma. I sometimes wonder whether a 21st century equivalent of a “Butskellite” consensus is emerging over the long-run. I doubt I’d object if it did. It’s not the Tory ‘Left’ that scare the living daylights out of me.

  7. Oscar,

    There will be boost for the Conservatives, I don’t doubt it. I just think, like Labour before them, they still have some way to go in becoming a credible alternative. No political party can “change” or “modernise” overnight (well almost close to two years to be precise). Cameron may well have ‘detoxified’ them to some extent.

    That said it will be interesting to see how Cameron’s favourables and approvals compared with Brown stack-up post conference. I certainly think many Conservative voters will have more faith in him after a good conference.

  8. Oscar,

    “But, then, I never thought Schwarzenegger would be Governor of California…”

    Well, if the Democratic governor Gray Davis hadn’t run into troubled waters, he wouldn’t have been. As for 2006, the Democrats, in Phil Angelides, didn’t exactly nominate a dynamic candidate.

    Arnie isn’t too bad for a Republican. I imagine myself being something of a ‘Blue Dog’ Democrat [in fact, given my Georgia lineage, I’d be a ‘Yellow Dog’] but for the most part, the GOP is a putridly reactionary party. In an American context, I’m a moderate liberal populist (econonically centre-left, socially centre-right), about as left as many Southern Democrats can be, but closer to the GOP on defense and national security issues.

  9. Let us be clear- it is impossible for an opposition out of power for a decade to seem-

    a.) Experienced. That’s fairly obvious.

    b.) Have costed promises that ‘add up’ as opposed to the government who have all the figures and the power to actually raise and spend money. (Who are interestingly lambasting the Tories for proposals that will cost £3.5 BN (inheritance tax) and £350 million (community service) as ‘unfunded’ and ‘black hole’ when they happily spent £15 Bn on ID cards and £10BN (and rising) on the Olympics without challenge.

    c.) Seen as representing the safe hands in a crisis.

    An opposition is untried, it is new. It cannot ever do any of these things, it’s simply a truism of politics. Which is why I find these Labour attacks so unimaginative. Basically, they are saying ‘You’re not experienced or turstworthy enough to govern because you’re the opposition’

    That is not to say, however, that such attacks will not resonate with voters.

  10. Colin, your comments don’t suggest you’re at one end of the spectrum, I happily inhabit the “bell-curve” with you (!),and if hope it’s true, your comment that Cameron is nudging the elements (Blimps?) this way and that and softening them up. I thought it was a shame he got a dunking for going to Rwanda, and I do believe he’s the Tory’s best hope, perhaps with Haig back from the dinner circuit.
    However, I don’t expect that Brown’s ratings will suffer (soon) from deterioration in the economy. The “sub-prime” lending problem, where imprudent under-regulated lending led to the coming of a cropper, is a problem not readily associated with “Brownism” – it’s the de-regulating ethos (associated with the Tories)that will be peceived as being to blame.
    Headline in this evening’s (Londodn) Standard : “House Prices surge again”, with the sub that the Northern Rock episode hasn’t affected confidencein London. No doubt lending practices will be more cauitious, and some big city deals won’t now happen, but it smacks rather more of a soft landing than what happened after Lawson’s boom ended in 1989.

  11. I find the partisan side of current posts from Tory and Labour a bit odd as they portray each other as right v left in an idiological sense when the policies and speeches of their leaders say the opposite.

    If Cameron had came away with “British jobs for British” workers, or relax the law for “Have a go Heroes”, the Labour supporters here would be telling all ad nausium how Cameron had capitulated to the right.

    They’d say he was going back to the narrow dead end of the Tory Core vote, playing the race card and pandering to peoples fears about crime.

    But as it was Brown who was pronouncing a set of policies and soundbites to the right of Cameron we haven’t heard a word against it.

    I am not sure if it’s sad or comical to watch a Labour conference applaud things that would have them screaming condemnation of if they had been said by a Tory.

    It’s also odd to see those who hated Thatcher talk about her on the steps of Downing St with Brown, as a coup not an outrage.

    I don’t think it’s helped by a current crop of posters who have obviously started the election campaign already.

  12. For those who take betting as a guide, the odds against an early election, odds against a labour majority and odds against labour winning most seats have all drifted significantly in the last hour. You have to wonder if that indicates the poll information being negative for Brown.

    Peter, how did the Brown/Thatcher thing play in Scotland, I would imagine that would inspire a few scots with long memories to get out and vote for your chaps or the Lib Dems

  13. Iain Dale’s blog is reporting the latest Channel 4 News/YouGov poll shows a Labour lead of 3%. Quite a trunaround if true.

    Great site by the way but often spoiled by posters trying to put their own biased point of views across. Posts are much better when analysing the facts of polls rather than trying to spin the figures to promote ones’ political bias.

  14. Cllr Peter Cairns (SNP), I was one of those not bothered by Thatcher being on the steps of number 10, I always hated the lady (as PM). But she is now an old lady who used to be PM and was asked (or asked) to go to no. 10 for tea; no matter how much one may have hated Thatcher the PM, after all she was elected 3 times (as was Blair), Thatcher the old lady should, I feel, be shown some courtesies. And I should say again I hated Thatcher the PM.

  15. I do think it was a coup, once it was unimaginable that a Labour Prime Minister would one day be in that position.Notwithstanding her faults (her efforts in Scotland among them), she saw to the far left, and as a moderate who doesn’t like voting the same way each time, I’m glad that Cameron (or was that blair?) has seen off the far right. Nothing sad or comical in that, I just don’t recognise your prism, Peter, and I re-itorate that I don’t want an election, but I am interested in seeing the effect of the conferences on public opinion

  16. Having seen all 3 party conferences I felt Cameron and the Torys was the best. I thought Cameron did the best speech of the 3 leaders and the next set of polls will show a narrowing to a Labour lead of 4%.
    If there is an election in November Labour might lose its majority.Iliked alot of what the Torys had to say on Law and Order and Imigration and getting the workshy back to work.

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