A new poll by ICM in the Sunday Express has topline figures, with changes from ICM’s previous poll, of CON 43% (+3), LAB 35% (nc), LDEM 15% (-3). The poll was conducted between November 8th and 10th – Thursday to Saturday – so there does not appear to have been any boost for the government following the announcements in the Queen’s speech and the Lib Dem recovery in the last ICM poll, now looks rather like a blip. They are still up from their very lowest point, when they hit 14% in an ICM poll, but only just. Obviously the figures are a strong contrast with Populus’s a week ago – Populus do use weighting that is somewhat more favourable to Labour than ICM’s, but the difference is relatively small. Chances are one of the two polls is just an outlier thrown up by normal sample error.

If repeated at a general election on a uniform swing these figures would just give the Conservatives an overall majority. It’s often quoted that the Conservative need a lead of around 11 points to win a majority – that’s based on a straight swing from Labour to the Conservatives, if the Lib Dems do badly and the Conservatives pick up seats from them they could win with a smaller lead (and in really swings are not uniform anyway, so any party could easily do better or worse than the uniform swing suggests depending upon how variables like tactical voting pan oout).

As in other recent polls Gordon Brown generally remains ahead of David Cameron asked about personal qualities, being seen as more courageous by 39% to 33%, better at handling the economy by 53% to 28% and as a strong leader. Cameron was seen as the most likeable by 46% to 33% and as most likely to get the issue of immigration right by 45% to 30%. These figures can’t be directly compared to any other recent polls, so we can’t tell if Brown is still falling, steadying or recovering – only that he remains ahead of David Cameron.

71 Responses to “Conservatives remain ahead in latest ICM poll”

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  1. The focus here, and increasingly in the Press is on what Labour’s opponents think-what their plans & ideas for the future are.
    One wonders what Brown can do to get off the back foot he seems to be rooted to at present.

    I hope it isn’t too partisan to suggest that events over the coming months might conspire to keep him there:-

    Oil prices rising- the cost of heating the average home through the winter becoming unaffordable for people on fixed incomes-the elderly at risk.

    Food prices-particularly staples like bread and milk continuing to rise.
    Avian Influenza disrupts the supply and price of Christmas Turkeys.

    The warning issued by Mervyn King today of rising inflation and a slow down in the economy materialises- perhaps followed by recession and real house price falls.

    The 2008/9 Council Tax increases announced-pensioners complaining again that they can’t afford them, and remembering they were told this week that their UK state pensions are the worst in the EU.
    At the same time SNP get a deal through to freeze Council Tax in Scotland.

    It may be that some of these events have their source in the booming economies of Asia rather than Downing Street, but if they are accompanied by the continued steady drip of stories of incompetent Government administration, how many voters will bother to make the distinction?

    English Local Council elections next May could provide the answer.

    It looks like a potential sticky wicket for at least six months.

  2. Philip Thompson – Try reading what I wrote again.I said get onto Politicalbetting.com as they have Labour odds on to win the next election.

    Check if you do not believe me:


    Now if I was really being pedantic I would pull you up and say Betfair is actually a BETTING EXCHANGE not a Bookies,(I’m sure I said BOOKIES)but what would I want to do that for.

    If you don’t want to look Phil the best odds you can get at a BOOKMAKERS to win the next election is:

    Labour 23/25(In my world that is ODDS ON)
    Conservatives 11/10(In my world that is not ODDS ON)

    Get stuck in Philip and make a mint.

    To coin an ill judged phrase “If you’re going to make claims next time try to avoid ones which are factually incorrect”

    Cheers Philip!

  3. John mcgregor – Any notion that a party will never be out of power is both crudely undemocratic and clearly fallacious. It that level of hubris that led Labour to thinking they’d never lose Scotland and this fine mess we’re in less than a decade later.

    If England were to be independent then the centre of politics would be different than the centre of British politics, but the parties would move with it, as has happened in Scotland.

  4. Philip,

    Quite right, One thing the SNP may well have done , inadvertantly, that may be a real change is establish that politics in scotland no longer needs to be a scale model of UK politics and that might well be better for all the parties.

    It might seem odd but what might well do the other Scottish parties good is to have a real argument with their Uk equivelents. It might seem counter intuitive but Annabel Goldie having a fight with david Cameron might actually boost the Tories standing in Scotland.

    John mcgregor,

    I think you are missing the point. Blair won an election by moving away from labours core support., but in doing so he has made the Labour party a shadow of it’s former self. The opposition mantra “You can do nothing without power”, is now commonly percieved as having become “Without power you are nothing”.

    Once a party is percieved as being prepared to do anything for pwer even abandon it’s own ideals it soon becomes little more than a PR agency for interests and that will ultimately be corrosive.


  5. Nick Keanes Mate …

    You said on Politicalbetting and on Politicalbetting through that link provided:

    Labour 1.06/1 (Betfair)
    Conservatives 0.96/1 (Betfair)

    Those are odds provided on that page on PB.com and last I checked 0.96/1 is Odds-On. Which Mike Smithson (of PB.com of course) reported on 31/10

    Of course if you define winning the election as actually getting an overall majority: link – then nobody has Labour in the lead in that listings.

  6. It surely has to be in the Tories’ interests to get rid of Scotland. So in a completely tactical sense, they should campaign complainign about the West Lothian question a lot, and give up entirely on Scotland. Having been returned to office with one or two Scottish seats, they can rely on the SNP to ram home quickly (befor elbaour replaces them at the next holyroad elections) the fact that Scotland is being governed by England. They could begin by equallising state spending per head in England and Scotland (which would mean large cits for Scotland) and having English votes for English laws. Creating that kind of territory should prove more fertile for Mr. Salmond’s party to win the vote on independence.

    Then after the Scots are gone Uk politics (what is left of it anyway) wil lbecome much more even.

    I was always of the opinion that devolution was a bodged settlement and would invariably end up either breaking up the United Kingdom, or being patently unfair to the English. Anyway, I think the argument for independence for Scotland is extremely strong, anyway.

    I also think the SNP should runs ome candidates in the the south of England to see how they do. If they can show England wants independence from Soctland as well that will surely strengthen their hand further.

  7. “I also think the SNP should runs ome candidates in the the south of England to see how they do. If they can show England wants independence from Soctland as well that will surely strengthen their hand further.”

    Do the English want independence from Scotland? Has anyone ever polled people in England to see what they think? From personal experience I would guess the English are much more keen on keeping the Union and Britain than Scotland are. I could be wrong though.

    November 15th, 2007

  8. Stephen
    Self-determination principles mean that it is not for the English to determine the status of other countries.

    Constitutionally, it would be at odds for us to hand over sovereignty of Scotland, or The Falklands for that matter, to anyone without the expressed desire of the population in question.

    For England to obtain independence would mean the replacement of our head of state. I imagine a large majority would favour the status quo at least until the Queen retires or dies.

    On your general point, I agree that the English are happy with the current arrangements, but there is some pressure to re-visit the financing of Scotland. In my view the West Lothian issue is a dead duck that doesn’t bother the ordinary voters. (I haven’t seen polls that contradict or support that, though)

  9. Stephen: There have been polls reported here that asked the question of Scottish independence ‘South of the Border’ and north of it at the same time. The poll I recall had English support for Scottish independence higher than it was actually in Scotland. Though I think that was taken as potentially a lot of people saying “well if they want it, why not, so yes” – rather than “I want it”.

  10. John T: No need to replace the Queen in the case of anybodies independence. The Queen is still head of state in Australia and Canada (and through her the Governor General) – and in some other Commonwealth countries I believe. Nobody questions Australia or Canada’s independence.

    Nor do I agree with you “that the English are happy with the current arrangements” – I most definitely am not. Until the WLQ is answered fairly, the Barnett formula is completely scrapped and constituency sizes are brought into line, I will not be happy.

  11. Philip
    I’d love to see where the WLQ features in the polls’ lists of important issues.

    Personally, I don’t mind that Scottish MPs have a say in English affairs – the more brains involved the better. I don’t mind if non-parents have a say on schools either.

    People vote for an MP in the full knowledge that the MP will vote in the HofC on issues which will have little relevance to their own lives. The WLQ is a leading question which is only being posed as part of a campaign to demonstrate that life under Labour isn’t fair. It will disappear, unless full constitutional change is embraced.

    As I said, I’m happy to be dis-abused and learn if there’s any polling evidence that people find the WLQ would be an important issue at the next election.

    Australia’s government is not run by Her Majesty’s civil service.The Uk’s is. Australia’s judicial system is not Her Majesty’s The UK’s is. Therefore, independence for England would mean the abolition of the Crown as our ruling system, and solicitors would no longer be members of HM’s Court.

    The Queen/King would remain the Head of State, but only in the same way that Australia has it. The judiciary and system of Government would necessarily be different. I think people don’t want that amount of upheaval.

    Your reference to constituency sizes puzzles me – are you suggesting constituencies should have equal numbers of voters in them? Personally I would be against that, but i’m afraid I trust the independent Boundary Commission more than my own judgement

  12. Gah, why has Scottish independence sneaked into this thread, take it to the Scottish polls thread. Don’t mind things going off topic, but when there is another recent thread that’s on topic, it can live there! Like immigration and Europe it’s one of the those subjects that infects every thread if you let it!

    Anyway, in MORI’s regular polls about how important issues are devolution and the WLQ regularly score very low figures indeed. These polls are unprompted, so people could say WLQ if they wished, they are just not particularly salient issues. That said, they probably won’t go away in a hurry either – Tam Dalyell asked the question 30 years ago and we are discussing it now.

    In terms of constituency size Philip almost certainly means quota size. In Scotland and England it has now been equalised (though I don’t think it’s fixed, just a one off correction, so in the future they will diverge again). Wales continues to have a substantially lower quota than England does.

  13. Anthony,

    Don’t blame me I didn’t start it (this time).


  14. Thanks Anthony

    This time I’m afraid I disagree – the WLQ has been a constant theme not far from the forefront of debate. “How much further in the lead would the Tories be if only the English voters were polled” is a valid question, though just as frustrating to me as it is to you. It dominates discussion dis-proportionately to its relevance .

    Having said that, I’m quite happy to accompany Philip cheek by jowl to the Scottish Independence thread.

    As long as he doesn’t bring that Cairns bloke with him!

  15. The ICM Lib Dems do seem to switch to the Tories more than Labour (the opposite being true with other pollsters). It’ll be interesting to see if the Tory lead holds up with a new Lib Dem leader.

  16. John T,

    ” “How much further in the lead would the Tories be if only the English voters were polled” is a valid question ”

    No it’s a purely hypothetical question, a bit like,

    ” How much easier would it be to get to work if we abolished the law of gravity”


  17. Cameron’s recent speech about more local accountability re council tax capping seems designed to attract LibDem waverers. Also, the co-operative schools approach has a whiff of “power to the locals” that LibDem policies have been about. The polls following the leadership election will be very interesting.

  18. Peter – that’s a completely different question; mine was to do with the hurry to remove Scottish voters from the equation – one of the consequences of deliberation over the (mis)leading WLQ. I’m happy to continue elsewhere!

  19. I suspect English voters havent much thought about the WLQ. I would say that if Scottish and Welsh MP’s do something that makes English voters poorer that’s when the thinking will start, especially if the government made a shift to the left economically.

  20. Am I the only person here who thinks that the Lib Dem leadership election has had about as much impact on the public consciousness as the result of the Coca Cola league match between Leicester and Burnley last Saturday? Maybe tonight’s duel on question time will change all that but I would’nt bet on it. I am reminded of the rather cruel cartoon in the “Times” at the start of the campaign which depicted the two candidates both saying in unison that “not even I know who I am!”.
    A pity in a way as it less than clear where these two men would stand in the event of a hung parliament.I am told that if elected that Nick Clegg could be the most right wing leader the Libs have had in decades but that does’nt mean he would take the risky step of propping up a Tory government. Jeremy Thorpe tried to do that in 1974 when Ted Heath offered him the post of Foreign Secretary but Thorpe could’nt carry his troops with him. Mind you saying that nobody could possibly have carried the late Cyril Smith anywhere.

  21. Peter Cairns is right. The Tories may have lost Scotland electorally, but they are still conservative with a small c. They are attatched to the Union, however much trouble it causes them.
    Trad. Tories have a rather romantic idealism about the past and the preservation of certain entities that is wider than vote share. Union Jack underpants and all that.

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