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. 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.

  2. So if had released this poll the change between it and the Observer would have been Tories the same, the Lib Dems no change, but Labour minus six points. Not releasing this poll was really helpful for Labour, odd that.

  3. Am I reading this right, the poll was taken over a 7 day period? Have we any idea when the bulk of it was taken?

  4. Well the first 4 days of polling was before the Labour party conference and 3 days during the conference. This was a face to face poll but does this mean the bulk of the fieldwork would have been at the start or the end or an even spread?

  5. Is the MORI political monitor a tracking poll?

  6. What amazes me the most, is actually how voters switch all the time. Really no consistency: Brown is delivering a speech: bang +10% for Labour. Cameron is talking: bang +10% for the Tories… what the point of having ideology, good (or bad) ideas, will of reform… as Alastair Campbell would probably agree: the only important thing is how you communicate. Voters have no memory and are more interested by the champion’s league than turning on election day, so it’s all about communication nowadays, stupid!

    Am I the only one to think it is really sad?

  7. Gary – as far as I’m aware the fieldwork should be evenly spread throughout the period with a face-to-face poll.

    Dave – depends what you mean by a “tracking poll”, if you mean do they ask the same questions month in and month out, giving them tracking data going back about 20 years then yes, it is.

  8. Vonric, you might be jumping the gun, there is no +10% for the Tories. But I understand what you are saying, I tend to look at trends in polls rather than taking each poll as meaning too much in isolation. The polls for the last three months or so have shown a steady increase in Labour support, from being a few points behind the Tories to being about 5.5% ahead (on average over that period). If you look at the trend over that period you do get big drops and big increases (from Labour lead of 0% to a Labour lead of 13%) but looking at the trend then Labours lead slowly increases over time.

  9. Anthony- any chance of having a thread that invites people to speculate on the likelihood of a November election?

  10. Davwas – speculate away. I don’t mind people going off topic a bit, I just don’t like people spinning for their party, making partisan points or trying to score points off each other.

  11. Interesting to see the impact of Brown’s speech, albeit with the caveats of margins of error etc. As with Vonric, I wonder why people are so swayed by short term news items, but I guess that’s life – democracy isn’t necessarily infallible, but it’s the best we’ve got.
    I am interested however as to whether this polling reaction indicates that if/when an election campaign starts public reaction to Brown on the stump is very good? Will it mean that in the exposure of a real campaign people will focus on the contast and swing to Labour, or is it just the froth of media reporting of politics? I would love to see some real psychological studies of how people actually decide on who to vote for, rather than just the results – the polls.

  12. “there is no +10% for the Tories.” – only because the polls haven’t been taken and published yet.

    Hostages to fortune are silly but having said that if there is no movement in the polls this week I’ll eat my metaphorical hat.

    I am curious as to what sort of level could have what impact on getting an election. Would a bounce for the Tories this week that is insufficient to prevent Brown from calling one be the beginning of something bigger that forces him out of office? Or could a bounce for the Tories that is sufficient to prevent him from calling one end up being a temporary thing with Brown kicking himself in November for not having taken the chance? Or any other potential outcome?

  13. The Conservatives should get a boost following their conference. It would be unusual if they didn’t.

  14. It will depend how Cameron’s speech looks on the news, which pieces they choose to report. The line the press are taking seems to be that it was an excellent sppech, but fell short of where it needed to be (which was astronomical). He seems to be being criticised for going on too much about policy, which considering this is Dave the Chemeleon or whatever we are supposed to believe, sees odd.

  15. Phillip Thompson – If the Conservatives gain 10% off the back of that conference I’ll not only eat my metaphorical hat I’ll also eat Mik R ‘ Clock of bad predictions.

    I’m biased,but cannot see what all the euphoria is about from the delegates at Blackpool.Yes they have had good press,but mainly from the right wing press.The Mail and the Express are hardly going to say that Mr Cameron stunk the place out are they.

    I await the next set of polls with anticipation.

    Outside of the press and the bloggers I don’t think either conferences has impressed the majority….though time will tell.

  16. An election could ironically cause the SNP problems. Our Conference is scheduled for the 27th to 29th of October which could be the week before the election.

    On the one hand it’s an ideal opportunity to show case the party but as it’s in an election campaign, the rules on balanced political coverage might mean that we don’t get the same coverage as other parties have had and therefore don’t get a conference boost at just the right time.

    Politician or not I am not so cynical as to think it’s all part of the Brown master plan…..


  17. The London Lite says that there are three polls on their way, A channel 4/YouGov on Thursday, a Guardian/ICM poll on Friday and then another YouGov on Sunday for the Telegraph. So we wil not have to long to wait for some poll news.

  18. Will all the fieldwork for future polls be conducted after David Cameron’s speech or might some overlap before it?

  19. I thought Cameron’s speech was just right. If he had gone for less detail & more oratory he would have been criticised for mere grandstanding.
    The-this is what they’ve done wrong/this is what is needed/this is how we’ll do it-analysis across the whole sweep of policy was more managerial than overtly political-and very accomplished in delivery.

    At least they can’t say he hasn’t explained what he believes in !

    I was recalling a clip which was shown on TV during the last Labour conference, of a fringe meeting at which Kinnock was seen on his feet, thumping the table & shouting “lets grind the b*****ds into the dust”.
    I seem to remember the last time Kinnock got all excited like that was at a Sheffield rally, a week before the April 1992 election. That time his much reported Barrymoresque cry of “Well all right” was promptly followed by we all know what…. Plus ça change…?

  20. I think there is a poll out tomorrow – am I right Anthony? As with all post conference polls, the host will get a boost. The next poll will show an increase in the share of the vote for the Tories – but the question is how much? Upto 34/35% then it will soon whittle away again, upto 36/37 then we have got real politics again – for a while!

    The soundbites are all very good from Cameron – just like Blair to me – but the problem with all this ‘you look after yourselves’ bit and ‘the government won’t interfere in your lives’ is typical Tory philosophy.

    The family will look after you when your old, the family will look after the children, the family will help you out in a crisis, he says.

    But what about all those people who haven’t got families to help? Yes thats right, the ones that are the most needy – usually the old, the infirm or children who’s parents are Thatchers children (the ones that grew up with no job and no hope so just turned into druggies, the parents of the present day hoodies) – what happens to those? Not the governments job by the sound of things, a bit like Thatcher when she said leave the dealing with the poor to those wonderful charities! Wonderful excuse more like it!

    So what we are saying is don’t get old and be on your own, don’t get ill and have no family to help and don’t be a child of an incompetent parent because you’re on your own pal! Not the governments problem!

    I wonder how he thinks broken societies are created.

    I can’t think of any organisation that suceeds without top down managment and control. Without leadership, chaos reigns and everyone pulls in different directions with all their differing views on how a job should be done. Can you imagine the health service being run by people with no leadership, all with differing ideas of whats right and whats wrong, some right wing, some left wing, some liberal, what chaos it would be.

    You have got to have leadership and government must provide it, not wash their hands of responsibility for fear of getting it wrong.

    Sorry but you just cannot leave a country and it’s subjects to look after itself thanks to market forces. Been there, done that and it didn’t work.

  21. Peter – I understand that had Brown called the conference last week the BBC had said it would have still covered the Conservative conference in full. They could say the same about the SNP conference, though of course, being almost directly before polling day, rather than right at the start of the campaign, they might take a different view.

    Gary/Andy D – Mike Smithson is suggesting there is also a Populus poll in the works. Andy, the fieldwork for the YouGov polls will certainly be after Cameron’s speech. I can’t confirm the ICM and Populus ones, but I would guess they are too.

    Richard – if the YouGov Channel 4 poll is the same as the one for Labour’s conference it will be out at about 7pm tomorrow. I haven’t actually confirmed it is being done on the same short time frame, but I assume it is.

  22. Thanks Anthony.

    Having watched the news reports on Cameron’s speech, I don’t really think they do his speech justice. I can’t see it having too much influence on non Tory voters, how did you read the news reports on his speech Anthony, in terms of altering the polls?

  23. Anthony, four polls then by the look of it, sad to say I am quite excited!

  24. What really turned me off Labour totally was Ed Balls disgraceful behaviour on the Daily Politics. I don’t want someone like that in Government.

  25. Some info Ive just heard has me making a prediction that Labours percentage will have increased in at least one of the polls that will be coming out this weekend.

    It’s OK making the people in the hall happy,it’s the people outside it that count.

    I am now even more interested in what these polls will now say,than I was pre-speach.

  26. Wouldn’t know Richard, I was watching Heroes. More to life than politics you know ;)

  27. Anthony,

    Yeah to hell with the election, fancy Nathan Petrelli being Clare Bears dad, she must have been desperate to get off with a fly boy like that.


  28. Carol- Yes, I was shouting at the screen at Balls. He was being extremely partisan and simply repeating spin over and over. That’s fine (if dull) in some circumstances, but on a programme like that a more grown up and non partisan approach is really called for.

    I have personally never understood why people think Balls is very good. All he seems to do is repeat the party line endlessly and fairly inarticulatly.

    Aside from that (sorry) I think there will be an impressionmade in the polls. I thinl Cameron is getting a reasonable press tomorrow- although he is a bit unlucky that another Diana (yawn) story has knocked him off the tabloid front pages.

  29. “… Britain will win”

    Given that “Britain Will Win” was Labour’s 1987 Manifesto has Cameron, subconsciously, conceded that he will be the Conservative Party’s Neil Kinnock?

  30. Carol/Lukw,

    I don’t know why some Labour figures are so rampantly partisan, it’s not as though we don’t keep a ‘big tent’ ;)

    Must admit I’m not too struck on Balls

  31. I wonder if a polling company will do any research in marginal seats. We’ve heard rumours here and there tha the Tories are doing better there thanks t Ashcrofty money and all the rest of it. That is the real crucial factor. If Labour lose their most 25 marginals seats’ they’ve lost their majority, and that is what the election is really about. For that reason, some data from marginals would actually seem to be more relervant than headline net voting figures.

  32. On a side note, where is that Tory defecor that was rumoured? In any case, I yearn to see Labour relase Quentin Davies on the marginals to bring home the attack!

  33. Lukw,

    Yes, the press and blogosphere was awash with rumours of Tory defections. Perhaps, they are hedging their bets to see if Labour wins a fourth successive election and then jump ship? I don’t know.

    I think it’s healthy that the Conservative Party has a few “lefties”. It’s not them that scare the life out of me ;).

  34. Anthony,

    It’s not really a poll as such, but out of interest what were the news viewing figures like for Brown and Cameron’s speeches. If more peopel tuned in to Brown it might well be that he is the one people are more interested in.

    In part it might be that as he is PM what he says can become law while Camerons can’t, and we would need to have some idea of how much air time they both got as it could be a factor ( as could what else was on the news that night and it’s billing on the bulliten) but I’d be intersted in knowing which of the two is the one people want to watch.


  35. Lukw – I’m sure lots of polling companies are doing polling in marginal seats….for the political parties. Not likely that any of the newspapers will do polls of individual marginals, they do sometimes do some polling of groups of marginal seats, but they need a big caveat because I’m not sure how many people really take tactical voting into account when answering polling questions.

  36. Richard(Wilmslow)-An interesting view that the rising tide of drugs & violent crime is all Margaret Thatchers fault-I really do hope that becomes an official Labour position!-but it would be a tad difficult for Gordon now wouldn’t it?

    Carol-yes I agree -he is the worst kind of Party Parrot and always fails to engage issues.


  37. While we’re on crime, the public perception (gleaned from poll results) is that there is a rising tide, whereas the statistics (according to the British crime survey) show a 40-45% drop since the peak of 1995 (violent crime too), and currently stable.
    Perception is often at odds with reality – it may be that Ed Balls has damaged perception of New Labour, but that’s nothing to do with how well he does his (relatively junior) job. It may be that Cameron’s speech has improved public perception of the Tories, but I find it quite depressing that he felt the need to lead it with the fact that he didn’t need a script, and that the polls will reflect his performance rather than his policies

  38. John T – I do believe there are very interesting results coming out of the early analysis of how the public has viewed Camerons speach.It may change over the next few days.One thing is certain.If it doesn’t change,Brown will be mad not to call an election.Cannot wait for the first poll to come out.

  39. I still hope he doesn’t call it, simply because I like to see a fair fight between experienced leaders, with firmly established policies. How long since an election was fought between party leaders who were all less than two years in the job of leader? It’s too rushed for me, suggests we’re vulnerable to a “putsch”

  40. Cameron has fallen into the same trap as previous defeated Conservative leaders.He has reverted to type in a pitch to shore up their core support.On one hand you can see his point as pre-conference season all polls showed that he had problems with Conservative support never mind the rest of the voters.However a mixture of a lurch to the right and using a Blairite style will not go down well with mainstream voters.As one person on a phone in said,”we have just got rid of Blair and his style of politics,why should we vote for a right wing version”.

    His use of his child,yet again,is a political mistake of high proportions.

    I cannot wait to see the polls at the end of the week.I do believe one maybe imminent from Channel 4 tonight or tommorrow.

  41. Me too, T Jones, and no doubt Channel 4 will repeat its exercise of last week. I have a feeling the papers will run photo-shopped pictures of Brown and Cameron in a boxing ring. The moderates in the Tory Party have gone very quiet, though Ken Clarke was on Newsnight last night virtually admitting that Cameron was unlikely to win a majority.

  42. I thought most interpretations of Cameron’s speech was that is was not a tub-thumping exercise designed to woo the hall, but an attempt to speak to the wider country. That’s certainly the view taken by Andrew Neil and Matthew Paris. As far as the supposed lurch to the right is concerned, I don’t think so. Even Portillo- who has been highly crticial of any apparent ‘lurches’ (as they are so tediously referred to by Labour supporters) – does not believe this to be the case. If any Conservative policy (such as a tax cut) is describable as a ‘lurch to the right’ I think that was rather inevitable that Labour party supporters would jump up trumpeting this phrase.

    I also really do not see him using his child at all. He only mentioned him indirectly in his speech, and he also mentioned his other children. Plus, those bits of his speech are barely touching the political radar. Why? Because its simply a non-issue.

    Many Labour supporters have reacted with greater than expected hostility to Cameron’s speech, and I sincerely doubt it was due to the content of it.

    Unlike T Jones, I do not recieve leaks from polling companies, so cannot really comment on what is to emerge. One thing I will say- if there is no improvement in the Tory poll rating then I think it is obvious that they are still playing a game they cannot really win, and must simply wait a few more years for the playing field to level up, as it inevitable will do in politics sooner or later.

  43. I don’t think most Conservatives who can speak their mind (and Clarke is in the rare position of being able to do that given his age and status) believe they will win a majority. The real fight is whether Brown is able to keep his. If he does not, and stumbles along in coalition with a weakened Liberal party, he may go down to a heavy defeat in a few years time. I would rather seem a hung parliament thn a Tory majority of 1. The only problem there, of course, might be electoral reform.

  44. Lukw – a Labour majority of less than 50 would create problems for Brown within his own ranks, and this might well be driving the Tories to push for an election. Clarke seemed a little puzzled by the whole thing, describing the situation as peculiar, and Brown as dithering, while at the same time saying an election was unnecessary.

  45. Lukw-I agree with your last two posts very much.

    There are clear signs that the credit squeeze is starting to bite-Credit for “sub-prime” borrowers being tightened up/interest rates for these being moved to penal. Mortgagees coming out of Fixed rate deals, not able to repeat & forced onto higher variable rates. City institutions looking at job losses-no big bonuses=the London effect disappears from the housing market.
    So a combination of stagnating(? falling) house prices & less available/more expensive credit is appearing over the horizon.

    If Brown calls it to get in before this hits the electorate at large, and the Cameron effect returns somewhat,we may have a weak Labour government, trying to soldier on through a recession. How long would that be sustainable? Would Ming come into the big tent after being so wary of the “trap door”?

    And to top it all -a postal strike cocking up the Postal ballot?

    Interesting times!

  46. I suspect a small Conservative marjority, or even a mirnority government, having to manage through difficult economic circumstances, might well be defeated at a subsequent egenral election. What he Conservatives really need is a strong victory or a landslide. Anything less may do more harm than good.

    What I am worried about though, is Cameron. I fear the party may go and knife him, and go back to someone old fashioned and right wing. I think that would be a fatal error.

  47. I didn’t spend that much time on either Brown or Camerons speeches, but certainly from the main news and Newsnight, I think Cameron made far less use of his sons disability than Brown did of his sight to underline there commitment to the NHS and the experiences that shaped them.

    At one point I half expected Brown to say that he woke in the night and with his one good eye he saw Matron sitting by his bedside with a lamp in her hand reading him the bible.

    It would have rounded the whole thing of nicely, poor wee sick Gordon, the NHS, his fathers sermons and nostalgia for Britains past.

    I am not happy about the fact that the debate is so much about the two leaders and their styles, but as to the idea of Brown as a politicain of substance and Cameron is just style, I think that both are putting forward highly polished and manipulated images of themselves as part of party strategy.

    I think both are fairly decent politicains and no doubt people but the versions of themselves being portrayed to the electorate are more charactures than real.

    Both parties have been through the focus groups and the polls to identify their leaders strengths and weakness and have then tried to play to their strengths and play down the weaknesses.

    So Brown had a well identified cut and paste speech from the Boys book of stern politicains, and studiously avoided anything that looked like Blair, while Cameron went for the Young gun, hit the Floor running not like tired boring old Brown look.

    Politics is all about perception and what we saw was what they wanted us too. The danger like the country moving to the right regardless of who wins, is that with either we will get a PM a lot like Blair in terms of image over substance and constant focus on the polls and headlines.

    Brown may be campaigning on gravitas and an end to spin and style politics, but that very glum bank manager image is itself a piece of spin, to distance himself from Blair and Cameron.


  48. Lukw-yes I understand that fear-but I think the Tory conference has generated a very good degree of loyalty & common purpose and proved Cameron’s leadership qualities.
    It’s interesting that some of the “Old Guard”-Baker, Clarke etc seem to be painting the prospect of a major reduction in Labour majority as the realistic aim.So maybe this idea of two stages to get Labour out may take hold.
    I can’t see the party abandoning Cameron in such a strategy-he is better than Brown at the despatch box, and could make Brown’s life hell with a small Labour majority…..and what would the Labour party do to a PM who called an election mid-term in order to reduce their majority?

  49. If this country requires strong leadership then Brown is your man. He, like Blair before him, will confront Labour’s malcontents and win; Cameron, on the other hand, I fear would capitulate to his party’s right wing. This is not the path for Cameron to take, assuming he sincerely, wants to ‘modernise’ his party. That is not going to happen overnight. It didn’t for Labour. In fact, it was a somewhat painful, bloody and protracted.

    I struggle to name any party conference speech that stiffend my sinews more than Neil Kinnocks to the 1985 Labour Party Conference when he attacked the Militant Tendency and it’s shenanigans in running Liverpool City Council.

    Yesterday, we got some insight into Cameron’s ‘core’ but the question is whether he has the testicular fortitude to stand his ground. I have sore misgivings that he can.

    I tend to respect “My Way or the Highway” types of politicians, be they on my side of the spectrum or the other. They can either stand or fall, but, at least, they are bold.

  50. Anthony-could you explain exactly what the effect of the boundary changes will be on the current party membership at Westminster.
    How real is the conclusion-is it a theoretical piece of arithmetic, or does it have some reality at the ballot box?

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