An ICM poll for tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph puts the Conservatives back into a commanding position. Conducted on the 10th and 11th October it is the first standard poll with fieldwork carried out over several days since the announcement that there would not be an election this year. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s previous poll conducted straight after David Cameron’s speech, are CON 43%(+5), LAB 36%(-2), LDEM 14%(-2).

The 43% recorded by the Conservatives is their highest figure since July 1992. On a uniform swing it would put the Conservatives tantalisingly close to an overall majority with 320 seats in the Commons. 14% is the lowest figure ICM have given the Liberal Democrats since 2001. ICM normally give the Lib Dems a higher level of support than other pollsters and, with the party recording perillously low scores of around 11% and 12% in other companies polls ICM has been a ray of comfort. With even ICM showing them down by almost 10 points on their 2005 election support the murmurs around Sir Menzies Campbell’s position that have begun in the last week are probably going to continue.

Far from peaking after their conference, this poll suggests the Conservatives have continued to improve their position and Labour have continued to fall, hardly a surprise after the embarrassment Gordon Brown suffered in having to announce there would not be an election and the torrid week the government have had in the media. What remains to be seen is whether this is still just the short term result of a bad period for the government and some positive coverage for the Conservatives, a temporary Tory lead that will fade away again, or whether there really has been a sea change in the last few weeks.

The government’s inheritance tax proposals certainly don’t appear to have given them any short term boost (though of course, strategically their intent was probably more to rob the Conservatives of something they could have campaigned on long term, rather than give the government an immediate boost). Asked what they would prefer out of retaining the present £300k limit, adopting the £600k limit for couples, adopting a £1m limit for all, or scrapping it entirely the government’s policy was the first choice of only 16% of people. 39% of people opted for the Conservative policy.

Last month Populus asked some questions on whether people trusted Gordon Brown and Alister Darling on the economy more than they trusted David Cameron and George Osborne and found a huge majority for Brown and Darling. ICM asked people to compare the two sets of leaders in this poll, and found the Brown/Darling lead down to 11 points (47% to 36%). The questions aren’t directly comparable, Populus spoke about economic crisis, rather than just the economy, and we know people say they trust Brown in a crisis, but all the same the Labour lead on the economy is still looking somewhat weaker than before.

Finally, the poll also asked about the EU treaty – there is still overwhelming support for a referendum (66% to 12%) and people would vote against it if there were one (by 47% to 29%). However, if there actually was a referendum it seems very likely that supporters would try and cast the argument as being about whether we wanted to be in the EU at all, and when asked about that a majority of people (56%) still think we should be, with 38% saying we should leave.

UPDATE: There is also a new BPIX poll in the Mail on Sunday. Topline voting intention figures, with changes from last week’s poll, are CON 41%(+2), LAB 37%(-1), LDEM 11%(-1).

UPDATE 2: Sky news is insisting on reporting this as the biggest Tory lead for 15 years. It isn’t. It is the biggest Tory level of support for 15 years, it is the biggest Tory lead in an ICM poll since…er…March.

109 Responses to “Conservatives open up a lead in new ICM poll”

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  1. WOW! Fantastic Conservative lead that. Bound to panic Labour!

  2. And on time one arrives…evening GIN.Still think they should get rid of Osbourne as he is too lightweight????

  3. Funny that, no sooner had I posted on the last poll about the LD problem, when along comes another poll proving the point.

    However, I still think LDs should hold their nerve and keep their leader – at least until May.

  4. The Tory share in this poll is significant, and not just because it is the highest rating for years.

    In his campaign for the leadership Cameron set himself a target of achieving 43% (an improvement of 10% on the 2005 result). He will no doubt be opening a bottle f bubbly for having done so within two yars of becoming leader.

    It will be interesting to see what headline accompanies this poll. I thought the Sun’s “Tory surge” on Friday was a little over-blown given that the lead they reported was well within the margin of error. A 9% lead on the other hand confirms that the Brown bounce is over.

  5. They can’t get rid of Osborne now, although all he did was announce popular polcieis. I still think he seems too young, especially next to Cameron.

    This kind of lead is about what I would exepct right now. I think it is the maximun that Labour can fall behind without starting to get a bit worried. The actualy Tory figure sin teh last few polls have been very high, but Labour support has also held up quite well so they aren’t a mile ahead.

    Time, I think, for Brown to tell us about the ‘vision’ he had that convinvced him to cancel the election so he could enact it.

  6. Paul H – Totally agree,polls are all over the place.Still won’t know where they will settle for at least a month or two.How can you have Labour ahead in the marginals whilst having the Conservatives way ahead on the National poll.Did find it rather humorous that the Telegraph hid away the one about Labour ahead in the marginals but has made the national one front page headline.

    Anyway all these posters on here who said Osbourne was too lightweight and needs replacing as fickle as ….well as fickle as floating voters at the moment.

  7. Paul H-j It’s 7% lead.The 9% lead comes next week.

  8. T Jones, Clearly, whatever Cammy and Ozzy are doing is working, so for them, it should be; More of the same. Including keeping George Osborne who HAS earned his place at the top of the team. :D

  9. Cammy and OZZY…I think you may have been on the Gin.:D.

    The pollsters must be delighted,I’ve never seen so many polls appear at one time,General Election time excluded.

    Keep up the good work,it’s very entertaining.

  10. The inheritance tax poll question remains biased, I think. It should talk in terms of marginal payments, i.e. “pay inheritance tax on the amount over £300k, £600k, or £1,000k”. It gives the impression (widely and wrongly held, that you pay it on all the amount, like stamp duty).

    On Europe the government should call a referendum on EU membership so we can see where we all stand.

  11. Luke,

    At the risk of being purged, I don’t believe the vision thing. Talk about spin.

    In a democracy, if one has a vision for change, one should put it to the people for their approval BEFORE implementing it, not going ahead and hoping they like it enough to keep you in power.

    IOW – if Brown really does have a vision, then that is an argument for having an election now, not in two years, so I fear you may be waiting awhile to see that vision explained.

  12. I think theres a danger a majority would vote NO, if the held a referendum to pull out. The public would be angry at being forced into an all or nothing position, from a government that promised them a referendum on the treaty. There is a danger that anger could manifest itself into a NO vote, IMO.

  13. Mathew – With you on the Euro question.Nation should be asked,you either accept the EU with the treaty or we pull out.Take it or leave it.This is going to drag on and on with every change or introduction of a new country and we wil get more and more Sun and Telegraph petitions.Murdoch will keep slanting his papers and the argument will be drown in his own agenda.(I do know that the Telegraph is not Murdoch owned but has followed suit in another stupid internet petition about the treaty).

  14. Paul, I agree on the “vision” thing. It just sounds like an excuse for bottling the election to me.

    As far as Labour’s lead holding up well in recent polls goes, you have to remember that polls do not move instantaneously after “events” “Events” actually take a little while to filter through into the publics mood (this is something the media forgets all the time) And its quite possible that only now are we seeing the full extent of last weeks non election announcement and Labour stealing Tory policy, playing out into the polls. I wouldn’t at all rule out Labours support dropping further into the low 30’s over the next couple of weeks.

  15. Gin – The government promised a referendum on a Constitution.Sorry for trying to cloud the issue with facts.

  16. Labour must, somehow, channel its collective energies in ensuring that this is as bad as it gets. Boxing themselves in on the EU Treaty was foolish. Yes, I know its not exactly the same as the EU Constitution, on which they pledged a referendum in 2005, but they are not winning that argument; an argument, which, sadly, is being undermined by pro-Treaty European leaders.

    Even if it was ever to emerge that a Treasury mole leaked government proposals re-IHT and non-domiciles, which enabled Osborne to launch something of a pre-emptive strike, given the torid time Labour has had in the press (even sadly, elements of the progressive press), I’m not even sure it would make a blind bit of difference.

    The real irony is, however, that Gordon Brown never actually said there was going to be a general election, only to break his word. Nor did Alastair Darling increase the IHT threshold to £1m (that’s the Tory policy); nor did he propose that all non-domiciles would be taxed £25,000 (that’s the Tory policy). As for the ‘flight tax’, he shouldn’t have even gone there. The cost of this will, ultimately, fall on passengers and many of them will be far from happy about it. That should be have left for the Tories and Lib Dems to articulate. The environment is important, but to some more than others.

    CGT should have been left as it was; with a distinct ‘new’ tax at 18% should have been levied on private equity, assuming that this would not have breached transnational rules. I’m not an expert on tax law.

    Labour must hold its nerve and not panic, especially now that the Tories seem to have got their act together.

  17. 43% Tory hasn’t been reached since July 1992 – before the honyemoon wilted with the ongoing recession, and crashed to an end on Black Wednesday in September of the same year.

    Tories have hit 41 in several polls in 2006/2007, and 40 in the 2006/2007 local elections.
    Plus Michael Howard scored 40 a few times in 2004, before things went backwards again over the autumn of 2004.

    If Tories can stay around 41-43%, and ruthlessly target marginal seats, they could probably pick up all the seats needed for a small but working overall majority. But it will need a huge amount of work, with a very disciplined plan.

  18. Dave Hawk – Don’t worry.Remember who the opposition is.Unity is their achiles heel.Go back three weeks and they were wanted Osbourne out.Bookmakers wee opening a book on who the next Conservative leader would be and William Hague was asked on live TV if he wanted the job.He declined.

    Give it a few months and it will return to the norm.I’ts not a matter of holding Labours nerve it’s just a matter of waiting for the Conservatives to shoot themselves in the foot again and fall apart.Even Micheal Howard reached 40%.The economy keeps growing,the eternal downturn that the Conservatives have predicted since 1997 has never happened and on the issues that count the public still trust Brown more than Cameron.

    It will all come good in the end.

  19. Meanwhile, BPIX in the Mail On Sunday reports CON 41% and LAB 37%.

    -41% favour the Tories IHT policy and 31% Labour’s.

    -33% say opinion of Brown has gone down; 32% say opinion of Cameron has gone up.

    -66% want EU Reform Treaty referendum. 44% would vote against it; 18% for.

  20. Anthony,

    I don’t know whether this is possible but on the specific pollster ‘boards’ could the sample number be included?



  21. Dave Hawk come on mate, I respect your right to form your own political opinions but

    “The real irony is, however, that Gordon Brown never actually said there was going to be a general election, only to break his word. Nor did Alastair Darling increase the IHT threshold to £1m (that’s the Tory policy); nor did he propose that all non-domiciles would be taxed £25,000 (that’s the Tory policy). ”

    seriously come on my friend.

    Labour MINISTERS were briefing the press about an election, Brown always seems to do his bidding through others. You say Gordon Brown never said there was going to be an election. True? But answer honestly. Where did the elction come from. The press, the Tories or from Labour ministers.

    Yes your policy on IHT and Non doms is slightly different, but you are supposed to be social democrats making the argument for why we should pay IHT to help the underprivaleged. Do you believe there would have been any mention of either IHT or Non doms if the tories hadn’t announced it and it proved to be popular?.

    What you are doing is what the Labour party are perceived to be doing, playing with words that people see straight through, as is reflected in these polls. I think these polls are more to do with what Labour are perceieved to have done/said, than anything the tories have done.

    I thought Labour stood for social democracy, not populist fake Tory tax cutters. Whats with Browns constant blue ties, next it will be a blue dress, handbag and a maggie wig.

  22. The latest poll shows Labour back at the support it got in 2005 and that was really a low point (even though they won the election) because some Labour voters drifted to the Lib Dems because of Iraq and a desire to kick Tony Blair. When Tony Blair left and the reduction of Iraq as an issue the Labour vote should have (and did) increased at the expense of the Lib Dems – this has been seen with the Lib Dems in the 15-18% range until recently (down from 22% in 2005). So Labour has squandered the gains made by changing leader and reducing troops in Iraq (as well the reduction of the tuition fee issue). The Lib Dem vote has always been soft, made up of Tories who shifted alligence in 1997 and Labour votes who shifted their vote in 2005. That process has unravelled somewhat so they are much nearer to their core vote of 10-12%. Cameron was correct when elected leader to target ex Tories who vote Lib Dems because there are around 30 seats in the south, SW London, SW England that were Tory up until 1997 then changed to Lib Dems. These 30 seats are vital for him to reach the target of 13 gains to get a majority.

  23. Before we all get too excited about these polls, it may be worth noting that the vote for others has dropped significantly to just 7%. That is unlikely to happen in a G.E and playing the devils advocate, I would say you can knock a good 4% of the Tory figure in this poll if there were a G.E.

    The electorate are certainly a volatile lot and I think the true figures between the Tories and Labour will be more like level pegging at the moment with the libs likely to get 18% or so if there were to be an election.

    The fact is that people are miffed at the fact there is to be no election so they are annoyed with Brown. It will all blow over – after all how many of you are going to be leaving more than 600k to your nearest and dearest and how many of your children are earning 64K a year needed to get a mortgage if they are paying 250k for their starter home – not many I think :)

    Up the blues and enjoy it while it lasts :)

  24. RICHARD :-

    Why would you knock 4% off the Tory POLL for the others and not off the Socialists ? Bit biased and wishful thinking there .

    It’s a bit blinkered if you think that that the only reason there is a surge in Tory popularity is purely down to the inheritance tax – you must have missed a lot of the news recently and the continuous gaffs by Brown and his team and their “Vision” ?

  25. Adam,

    I don’t think the Conservative Party has a monopoly on ‘tax’ as an issue any more than Labour does on ‘public services’.

    Labour is, constitutionally, a democratic socialist party, but, in practice, pretty much a ‘Third Way’ party of an incrementalist, rather than radical, hue.

    Getting back to tax, I have strong misgivings about Darling’s let alone Osborne’s proposals re-IHT, non-doms and ‘flight tax’, as well changes to CGT.

    1. IHT and non-doms.

    Firstly, Labour should have focused on tearing Osborne’s proposals apart. I’m sure it’s the hype that went along with it, which explains why it has resonated so highly in the public consciousness. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that Osborne’s proposals were tantamount to a great big fat whopping cash-in-the-hand tax cut for the masses, which, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. It is not something that affects the vast majority of estates and, therefore, people.

    My criticism of Osborne’s proposals were founded whether 1) taxing non-domiciles could have a wider detrimental impact on the wider economy and 2) what if the monies could not be obtained from non-domiciles to afford this, then on whom would the burden fall? Yes, you’ve got it, the vast majority of us who’s estates are not worth £300,000.

    I can’t speak with any certainty when Darling’s own proposals had been finalised but I guess that the PRB is put together over weeks rather than days, so they may well have been in place before Osbourne announced his.

    Darling has not taken on board Osborne’s proposals re-IHT or non-domiciles.

    Personally, an increase in the threshold to £450,000 and indexing it year on year thereafter to the average rise in house values so as not to encatch more in the net would have sufficed when you consider that it’s this which has put IHT beyond the very wealthy.

    Secondly, as I’ve said earlier, I have strong reservations as to whether non-doms should be taxed at all in case of any wider detrimental impact on the economy. I reacted this way to Osborne’s proposals so I’m not changing tack because of Darling’s. However, on balance, I think his proposals are more realistic.

    2. CGT.

    I definitely have strong reservations on changes to this one. I can understand the rationale behind targetting private equity but think were it possible (i.e. not in breach of any transnational law) then a distinct new tax of 18% in respect of private equity should have been proposed, while leaving the taper relief on CGT as it stood for others. Again I have concerns about any detrimental impact on the economy, as to these changes to CGT.

    3. ‘Flight tax’. Don’t like this one bit whether levied on the airlines or passengers since we all know upon who the costs will fall and it isn’t the former. I wouldn’t have increased air passenger duty either. Most people pay enough tax without having to pay this.

    But the bottom-line is that in setting taxes and wider fiscal policy is that economic stability must never be compromised (even if it means not implementing ‘ideals’) because if that happens we are ALL potential LOSERS.

    As for being a social democrat, I’m probably more of a Christian Democrat but perceive Labour as being less to the left, than the Conservatives are to the right.

  26. No surprises here. The WMA is now 40:38:12 but this is a lagging indicator, and the average of 5 polls shows that the IpsosMORI/Sun poll on the 10th (41:38:11) which was apparently overestimating the C lead by 4 points (compared to the WMA) was in fact spot-on. I still think we’re going to see C getting above 45 and Lab getting below 32. It’s too early to write off Brown completely – with a GE probably in 09 almost anything can happen – but those who thought that after 10 years in Govt Brown would not fundamentally change certainly seem right at the moment. Yesterday’s lead editorial in the FT seems about right.
    PS The Petition now has 13,118 signatures, rising steadily, and is now the 14th most popular.

  27. Richard, I fail to see why you should knock 4% off the Tories and add it to Others. I actually argued in the last polls thread that it is odd that Others are not getting squeezed, in a competitive 2 party contest less people should waste their vote on an Other party. In an environment like 2005 where we know who’s going to win, voting for Others ‘costs’ less.

    Besides, even were Others to increase I don’t see at all why it should be at the expense of just the Tories.

    I still think that we’ll have a 2010 election, always have done. Brown won’t take the risk in 2009. Inactivity may be more of a risk than activity sometimes, but I’ve seen nothing in Brown’s history to ever show that he’ll follow through and act dangerously like that.

  28. 36% is very bad for Labour, I must admit I didn’t think they would drop this low. Unless Labour come out fighting soon then this drift will continue. I think that’s what Lord Falconer is now saying and if that happens I think that the Tory lead will soon vanish.

  29. Which “Labour” Gary?
    Old Labour, or New Labour or New New Labour which Brown hasn’t quite got round to defining yet.

    According to The Times there seems to be a feeling amongst Blair & his old mates that Gordon is an empty vessel-bit of a change from a Clunking Fist isn’t it?

    They say that the electorate are very unforgiving of political parties who quarrel & can’t make up their minds what they stand for.

    Brown should have a word with Major, Hague, IDS, & Howard-they could give him some good advice right now.

  30. This bears a striking resemblance to the 1979 general election result (C 43.9%, Lab 36.9% and L 13.8%).
    I still have a theory that rather than taking 4% off the Tories’ share and adding it to “others” as Richard suggests, we ought to be adding about 3% to the Tory lead to give us an idea of what is going on in the marginals rather than going on the implications of uniform swings.

  31. The phrase ‘they want me to get on with the job’ is becoming almost seminal to Mr. Brown at present, and Mr. Campbell. ‘Get on wiht the job’ is often a phrase applauded by audiences even if it is used as an excuse for taking democratic power away from people.

  32. 36% isn’t so bad for labour if the LibDems recover and take points from the Conservatives, and that is possible if they get a new leader.
    On UHT, it seems to be working for the Conservtiver’s popularity like the minimum wage worked for labour. Those who aren’t affected (ie from the other end of the wealth spectrum) still think it’s fair and therefore supposrt it. This is a major change of mind for me ( I trust that’s allowed?!)

  33. When I said UHT, you know I meant IHT, and may I just add that a triumphal tone isn’t going to get any Labour voters swinging to the Tories!
    It’s all great fun.

  34. At the last three elections “others” received 8%, 7% and 7% of the vote in Great Britain. The idea that they would automatically go up to a natural level of 11% or 12% at a general election is somewhat unusual, 7% or 8% is exactly the level of support we’d expect them to get.

  35. UHT? Yes, the real new conservative weapon is revealed- Ultra Heat Treated Milk!

  36. The really interesting thing here is where have the 2005 Liberals gone and is this a temporary or permanent change. There are a number of fairly obvious scenarios:

    1. the increase in the Tory vote compared with 2005 is primarily ex Liberals switching with the Labour vote holding–if this were the case it poses an interesting dilemma for the Liberals who have a distinct left of centre image at the moment
    2. the increase in the Tory vote compared with 2005 represents quite alot of ex-Labour and a minority of ex-Liberals with the majority of the ex-Liberals switching to Labour….this just reinforces the dilemma for the Liberals.

    Anthony, can you enlighten us on this from a detailed examination of the latest poll data?

    Whatever the pattern I think the result of the next election could well revolve around how the Liberals deal with what looks like a definite trend rather than voter volatility. Given that they are unlikely to get an ‘Iraq bounce’ at the next election, do the Liberals concentrate on their rural and suburban strongholds or continue beavering away at the inner urban footholds they achieved last time or is this simply a ‘Ming’ problem which a new charismatic leader (have they got anyone other than Charlie?) could overcome?

    Interesting times!

  37. Richard suggests ‘you can knock a good 4% of the Tory figure in this poll if there were a G.E.’

    The problem with that being is that the Tories, at least in the last two elections, performed better than the polls suggested while Labour performed worse (eg in 2005 it was Tory +1, Labour -1.6, and Lib Dem +0.4).

    I think the Lib Dem level is too low but that’s ecause BOTH main party is over represented.

  38. Dave, point well made. the IHT does only affect a small proportion of the population, but it is being widely embraced because people think IHT is unfair, regardless of their means. It was the same for Labours praise worth minimum wage, how many middle england professinals will it really affect, hardly any, but it is a fair policyand therefore widely embraced. As for Labour trying to rip up the proposals in the usual “sums don’t add up” or “cuts to public services”, this often inaccurate fear tactic needs to be countered by the tories, economically it doesn’t add up. Labour is borrowing heaviliy to fund spending, most public services, whilst admittedly receiving increased spending are not sufficiently reformed, and whilst Labour will always attribute tax cuts with public service cuts, it can be clearly proven, as in Ireland/Australia that often tax cuts can lead to a higher overall tax take and increase money available for public services. Tax cuts means cuts to public spending is pigeon economics aimed as a fear tactic to less astute. It works, but the tories need to prove that is inaccurate. because it will be Labours weapon of choice once more.

  39. Adam 8, The point was mine, not Dave’s. I changed my mind, not my name!

    I think you’re right about lowering rates leading to increases in take – the lowerin to 40% of IR, I think had that effect.

    The clever bit is knowing which taxes to cut, and to what extent. I don’t know the answer, but if they can find more ingenious savings like charging foreigners, I’d want them to relieve the burden at the bottom thresholds (20% and 40%)

    I don’t think many Tories want a return to the “trickle-down” theory (it led to “trickle-away practices!) of expecting omni-beneficial growth increases as a result of dramatic tax cuts at the top-end.

    Cutting services means cutting jobs, effectively, so there’s a fine line to balance on there too.

  40. I think that the IHT question would probably be badly framed for a sample of fiscal/political anoraks. On the wording of the question a preference for replacing IHT with an accession tax or subsuming it within a comprehensive capital tax might result in the respondent choosing the “scrap it” option even though he felt that inherited wealth should be taxed no less heavily than it currently is.

    In the actual sample this is probably not a serious worry, but it should probably be taken as a health warning on reading too much into the breakdown of these figures across political parties.

  41. John Hutton, the Business and Enterprise Secretary, quoted today in The Guardian as saying : “The key challenge for us – and Gordon has rightly identified this – it’s a vision thing. What we have got to do now is set out our vision for the next 10 years.”

    …The Guardian says that later Mr Hutton’s aides insisted he was entirely supportive of the Prime Minister and he was not suggesting Mr Brown lacked vision. “It’s about the nitty-gritty of knuckling down in the next few months,” one said. “It’s not about any lack of a huge vision”

    So -a case of blurred Vision then ?

    More seriously I thought the normal sequence of events was:-

    1-Explain Vision to voters.
    2-Hold Election
    3-Await verdict of voters.

    ..something seems to have changed!

  42. I don’t doubtBrown has some sort of idea/vision of what he sees as the future direction. Was it the only reason though he avoided going to the country? As the Blairites have said “let’s see it” then.

  43. “Some sort of Vision” is no good.

    Unless he can stop the totally incredible combination of sniping at Conservative values whilst nicking their policies, and start to explain what his big ideas are he will indeed begin to look look like an empty vessel.

    Cameron has done it, and with great panache-Wisconsin style welfare reform, Swedish style education reform, devolved power in the NHS, Local accountability for the Police , Tax reductions, and a real agenda for tackling Social breakdown etc.

    It’s up to Brown now-personally I think he will struggle-he is a Finance Director-not a Chief Executive.His instincts are centralised control by him & a trusted cotery. That may have worked at The Treasury-but you can’t play at being PM like that.

    The welter of unintended consequences from Darlings statement, which has outraged the Business & Enterprise Community has all the hall marks of Brown on it. He turned a Strategic medium term National Finance Plan into a Tactical short term political maneuver-and to hell with the consequences.That was not a vote winner in the Business constituency.

    One of the things I grudgingly liked about Blair was his ability to deflect attacks with a self-deprecating humour. I think now that he could do this because he never took any of it too seriously-it was all a bit of theatre & he loved it.

    Brown can’t do that.He takes it very seriously and is in danger of looking & sounding like everyone’s grumpy old uncle.

    But boy is he dangerous-like a cornered bear-and Cameron must stay on his toes.
    If the Conservatives can sustain a ten pointish lead in the polls through the next eighteen months it must surely sap the moral of troops being led by such a dour man?

  44. “Sky news is insisting on reporting this as the biggest Tory lead for 15 years. It isn’t. It is the biggest Tory level of support for 15 years, it is the biggest Tory lead in an ICM poll since…er…March.”

    That would have been Gallup in October 1987, when the Tories were 21 points ahead of Labour (a post-election bounce).

  45. Less than 3 weeks ago there was a poll showing Labour 13% ahead of the Tories; now we have a poll showing the Tories 7 points ahead of Labour. At the time of the Labour lead most people (including myself) seemed to think it was a bit rouge, I think this one will turn out to be the same. I do think we need a few weeks for things to calm down.

  46. Yes, Gary, given the volatility in the polls it is going to take a few weeks to see if it calms down in one party’s favour or the other. Labour have, of course, had a pretty abysmal fortnight and they’ll be hoping that this ICM poll is as bad as it gets.

    Labour can no longer rely on Cameron being undermined from within by his own party, however. For him, his conference has largely been mission accomplished in that he has come out of it with a restored sense of trust and confidence from among the Tory ‘malcontents’ and ‘doubters’.

    Brown must somehow, someway restore confidence and trust in him. It is vital that Labour doesn’t, itself, descend into chaos.

    This kind of Tory lead may be pretty soft, given recent volatility, just as much of the Brown ‘bounce’, seemingly, was; but then it may not be. It’s too early to tell; but I imagine Conservative supporters are certainly more upbeat than many Labour supporters must be feeling right now.

    Can Labour arrest any long-term decline? I’m sure it can but only if it has the collective will to do so. Voters don’t have much confidence in a House divided within itself. Both Labour and the Conservatives have endured enough internal trials and tribulations, over the years, to be fully aware of that by now.

  47. Dave – I agree with your comments but the dangers of Labour division are starting to show. See Blair’s and Lord Falconers comments in the Times today. The Blairites had to endure Brownite sniping for years and are now getting some revenge. I expect this to continue if drift is allowed to happen. Brown has to quickly counter the view that the “vision” thing is absent – there is a danger of being shown as intellectually empty after 10 years in power if all you can do is copy Lib Dem and Tory policies. The next few months will be crucial as to whether this view of a lack of vision becomes a firm public view. As the Tories have found out adverse public perceptions can take years to correct.

  48. Up until recently I’ve been saying Cameron’s tactic of trying to be “nice” was a stupid idea. If people care most about green issues or the NHS they’ll vote for the parties who’ve always believed in those things.

    I’m now starting to realise what a brilliant tactic it was. Cameron until recently wasn’t winning many votes but he has been improving the image of the party. Now when he talks about more traditional Tory ideas like cutting taxes and immigration people are free to switch over without feeling any guilt about voting for the “nasty” party in a way they couldn’t with Howard or his predecessors.

    For the first time I’m starting to think Cameron just might be our next PM. Gulp! :(

  49. Yes, there is sense in what Steven Wheeler says. Immigration, Europe, low Tax etc have always been popular issues but polling in the past has found that when asked ‘do you agree x should be done about y?’ people have said yes but when asked ‘do you agree with the Conservative party that x should be done about y?’ then people have often said no.

    Cameron has made the Conservative brand pallitable, and thus it no longer drags down support for eternally popular conservative issues.

  50. Steven,

    “For the first time I’m starting to think Cameron just might be our next PM. Gulp!”

    Shudders :(

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