A new ICM poll in the Sunday papers apparently has topline voting intention figures (with charges from their last poll) of CON 41% (+4), LAB 30% (-1), LDEM 19% (-2). The exact dates of the poll aren’t available yet, but normally ICM polls published on a Sunday have fieldwork conducted between Wednesday and Friday, so it’s likely this poll was conducted when Labour’s funding row was at its height. (UPDATE – the News of the World report is here, and the poll was actually conducted on Wednesday and Thursday. It should go without saying that this isn’t the strongest Tory lead for 15 years, it’s the strongest lead for 8 months…but hey, that wouldn’t have been a less impressive headline wouldn’t it? Sheesh)

If confirmed the the changes in vote share would suggest a boost for the Conservatives, a slight fall for Labour and a larger fall for the Liberal Democrats since the last ICM poll a week ago. However, that poll was itself somewhat strange, showing a huge drop in Conservative support and an equally massive 6 point jump in Lib Dem support. I suspect those were down sample error, and hence the Conservatives haven’t really risen so much and the Liberal Democrats haven’t really fallen in this latest poll.

Putting the immediate changes from the rather dubious last ICM poll aside, the poll confirms the same picture we’ve seen elsewhere: the Conservatives are pretty steady around the 40% or low 40s mark – YouGov had them up at 43% but we’ve seen no consistent sign of them profiting from Labour’s misfortune. The Lib Dems have progressed from their autumn lows are are back in the mid or high teens depending on the pollster. Labour’s support has fractured over the last month, compared to the polls at the end of October they are between 6 and 8 points down. As with YouGov and MORI’s recent polls – the picture ICM are giving is that Labour are back where they worse during their worst ratings under Tony Blair.

99 Responses to “ICM give the Conservatives an 11-point lead”

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  1. The last 2 ICM polls are quite consistent within sampling margin of errors , The one poll that is completely out of line is Yougov and the differences in LibDem support cannot be explained by M of E . Populus to come and I expect it to confirm this . Some serious questioning to be done at Yougov methinks .

  2. Mark
    I am sure that Peter Kelner will be hanging off your every word.

  3. After the week Labour have had this isn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting…


    I don’t think you’ve seen the worst of it yet / YouGov seem to be the most reliable source for most POLLS

  5. “Populus to come and I expect it to confirm this . Some serious questioning to be done at Yougov methinks .”

    But it might be YouGov which is in fact the most accurate. Populus is the most Labour-friendly pollster of all – they still have a 1% lead for Labour at the moment! As unreliable as ComRes, the most Tory-friendly pollster.

  6. Andy , yes of course it could be Yougov is correct and all the other pollsters wrong with regard to LibDem support levels but it is rather more likely that it is Yougov that is wrong . We do know why Comres is the most Conservative ( and Others ) friendly pollster and why Populus is the most Labour friendly pollster and ICM the most LibDem friendly pollster – it is the differing weightings they apply to past voting . We can debate which is likely to be the most correct . The very low Yougov LibDem figures compared to the other pollsters is down to a more fundamental cause ( and has been there since late 2005 ) so I am sure that Peter Kellner is giving it some thought .

  7. I’m not sure why Mark has it in for YouGov. They predicted 24% before the May 2005 election for the LDs which was more than what they had, but generally turned out to be quite accurate.

  8. You Gov proved to be the most stable and accurate pollster during the 2005 general election.I’m inclined to believe their figures until they are proved wrong when it matters, at a general election.

    Anthony: What happened to the polling organisations Harris and NOP? They used to be as common place as You Gov and Mori.

  9. Prior to the last GE Yougov weighted by past vote as do the other pollsters now ( except Mori ) . It is a mystery to me as to why they changed a successful formula . ICM were also pretty spot on at the last GE so I will give their figures more credence than Yougov as they have not changed their methodology .

  10. Intesting that the Tories have stuck in the low 40’s. Intuitively one would have thought this week would have been a Labour massacre, but the polls don’t really show this so far. I genuinely think the next election is up for grabs, but I have a strange feeling that I’d rather be in Brown’s position than Cameron’s, highly odd as it might sound at the moment.
    I will also be interested in Brown’s personal ratings once this dies down. I have detected an odd shift in the media attitude to him – there have been plenty of positive comments made on his performance over the last few days, as he stands alone on the blazing deck.

  11. Im kinda surprised by the Lib Dem drop, personally i thought they would gain a boost from this week, what with disaffected Labour supporters and Cable’s fantastic performance at PMQ’s

  12. Well as noted the Weighted Moving Average is 41:32:17 C lead continues to climb (9.3) and the Retrospectives show that it was about 10 2 polls ago so probably 12 now. Lab have dropped 3 points in the week and will doubtless drop another 3 in the next week or so.

    Alec: this *is* a massacre for Labour it’s just that, once you remove the noise, the polls move in slow motion. They have had a 17% swing against them in 2 months, involving a 9.5 point drop in their support. Another couple of months of decline at this rate and they’ll be the 3rd party.

    And please don’t imagine that the negative news-flow has ceased. Still to come: Harman, Dromey, Mendelson and Darling going (12 months max, 1-2 months for the first 3), house prices falling, serious economic difficulties, more problems with Northern Rock, more leaks of trouble at the top of government, more government resignations (Drayson was the first, the next ones won’t feel the need to spin it) and more Unknown Unknowns. Brown has alienated almost everybody (including the Garden Girls) and has no store of goodwill on which to draw.

  13. That Labour haven’t fallen so far is probably down to 3 reasons

    1) There are some people who just would never vote Tory and would do anything to prevent a Conservative government (e.g. the monolithically Labour seats of Liverpool, Bolsover, S Yorks etc.)

    2) There’s still a latent distrust of the Tories that has to be expunged, and could only be so by an inoffensive Conservative government in the future

    3) Any anti-Labour vote in Scotland is likely to be going to the SNP at the moment. To a lesser extent Plaid will be benefitting from some anti-Labour sentiment in Wales. In 1992-7 there wasn’t really a credible anti-Tory alternitive (these days I suppose we’d see a healthy boost for UKIP as an anti-Tory government vote)

  14. Brian – Harris stopped doing political polling in the UK a long time ago now and moved into online polling. In the US they do online political polling as well – but not here (though they did dip their toe in the water just before the 2005 election. I thought that might result in someone signing them up and regular Harris Interactive political polls turning up, but it never happened).

    NOP are still around and are a major player in market research. They still do carry out political polls for the media, but they don’t have a regular contract for anyone and – unlike MORI – don’t carry out regular voting intention polls anyway just for the publicity. Prior to the 2005 election they had a regular contract with the Independent and called the election precisely corrected. They were rewarded by having their contract cancelled. Life’s not fair is it?

    Mark – the major change in YouGov’s methodology since the last Parliament was the switch from weighting using recalled data, weighted to an estimate of what the recalled data should be if false recall works how they guessed it did, to weighting using contemporary data weighted to fixed contemporary targets. This was presumably to remove the need to estimate the level of false recall, something that couldn’t previously be done. You’d have to ask Peter for the reason to go for party ID rather than past vote, but IIRC it is more stable and should allow new panellists to be integrated with less guesswork. There shouldn’t be any difference in actual results between weighting using the two different targets.

    ICM have introduced two changes to their methodology since 2005 – they moved to filtering by likelihood to vote rather than weighting by likelihood to vote (which probably makes very little practical difference, though I haven’t studied it), and shifted their weighting formula so it is 70% of the way towards the actual 2005 result compared to the average recall in their polls, rather than 50% as they used to use (and Populus still do). This increases the target for weighting past Conseratives and past Liberal Democrats.

  15. Anthony: What happened to Gallup?

  16. Weighting by past vote sounds credible but isn’t as straight forward as it sounds.
    If people have changed their minds, many (but not all of course) will lie or – even forget – about what they voted before.

    Also, if you apply too many sets of weights you can fall into the trap of thinking you are making it more accurate, but in fact, you can easily be increasing other inaccuracies in the data, so you need to make careful judgements and sometimes fine-tune, according to what is really necessary.

  17. For years when the Tories were flatlining at around 30-33% people used to say they needed to be polling in the high 30’s. When they achieved this everybody used to say they should be polling in the low 40’s. Now they have achieved that people are saying they should be polling in the mid 40’s….

    An 11 point lead is an 11 point lead as far as I’m concerned. And theres no reason to suspect that Labour can’t fall lower over the next month, even if the Tories remain in the low 40’s. As far as the Conservatives moving into the mid 40’s, my guess is it won’t happen until they set out a coherant vision for the country. But I believe that day is coming and when it does we’ll see the Con’s into the mid 40’s.

    (edited for spelling)

  18. Tories need to be 40+.
    If they can keep up the pressure they should start to get the odd 44 or 45.
    I’m a Tory and am slightly concerned that all this row about sleaze will start to turn voters off both parties, with the pious Lib Dems saying look at all this yah-boo etc.

    The Tories turned things around at their Conference by setting out sensible but sharpened up policies, and they need to push that agenda aswell.
    It’s also a good time to revive issues such as the pensions which Gordon Brown has wrecked. They made some impact on this earlier in the year, but people were still cagey because they believed Brown was competent with financial matters then. I’m not sure they still do.

  19. ALEC :-

    “I have detected an odd shift in the media attitude to him – there have been plenty of positive comments made on his performance over the last few days, as he stands alone on the blazing deck”

    You must have a great detection system – i have’nt heard anything postive from the media about Brown – only Brown’s colleagues have said anything postive about him ! Some have even stabbed him in the back fairly quickly .

    More excrutiatingly painful POLLS on the way for Brown now till at least January – after that they won’t get any worse because he will have reached rock solid Labour support at the high 20’s . The Liberals will peak at about 18% by January – they will slowly drop back to about 14% to 16% support , that too being rock solid support .

    As for Scotland which keeps getting mentioned a lot – people seem to think that Scotland is grass roots Labour – go back to the 70’s and the Tories had a very good share of the vote there and seats – lost during the Thatcher years / all of that can easily be resurrected given time and circumstances .

  20. Philip – I think the Telegraph terminated their contract and they decided to stop doing political polling in the UK.

  21. I don’t agree that the Tories will ever do well in Scotland now- I think it’s gone for good, especially if the Tories persist in talking about the West Lothian question and mocking Brown’s scottishness (which is a fair enough tactic, it just won’t help them in Scotland). Nevertheless, the anti-Toryness of Scotland is certainly quite…shall we say… impressive, and remarkably long-lasting.

    In Wales I think the Tories can recover to 1992 levels. They’ve already made a lot more progress there than in Scotland- where they’ve not improved at all since 1997.

  22. Paul D – very much agree with your points. There is still an anti Tory element, and electoral conditions today are very different to the 70’s and 80’s when we essentially had a 2 party system. The Tories are not as popular as they think and a lot of voters are still hoping Labour aren’t so bad that they can’t vote for them.
    Mike Richardson – you’re quite wrong, and can’t have been watching the news this week. All the media commentators rated Brown’s Monday and PMQ performance as good, last night he got good comments from BBC/ITN news and the printed press has been in similar vein. Will this last beyond the current crisis? Who knows.
    You’ve also misread completely the Scottish situation – Tories are now the fourth party, and Cameron is absolutely not the man to deliver any meaningful recovery for them. This matters – the last Tory government needed Scottish seats to form a majority. Long term, if they are to regain their position as a regular party of majority government they need to bury the Lib Dems so the third party returns to 10 – 12% in the polls and recover 20 seats or so in Scotland and Wales.
    With a dire Labour performance they could still win, but Labour will recover to some extent at least and I feel things are going to be tight. Labour was 14% ahead 2 months ago – remember that?

  23. Yes, I am perhaps a little surprised that the Tories aren’t even further ahead, especially since Labour was supposed to be 13% behind in 1 poll even better this grim news broke. This situation is very poor for Labour, but is certainly by no means beyond recovery. Mind you if these ministers keep dropping like flies I could be PM soon……..

  24. sorry that should have read “even BEFORE this grim news” etc.

  25. Yes – these are very good figures for the Tories, but there is more to do.
    They don’t point to anything near conclusive about the next election. This is not 1995.

  26. Barnaby,

    People base a lot of ‘the Tories should be doing better’ argument on polls from the late 1990s. As methodologies have changed across the board doing so produces nothing accept for a bit of spin for Labour ministers.

  27. “Philip – I think the Telegraph terminated their contract and they decided to stop doing political polling in the UK.”

    That surprises me. We have a lot to thank Gallup for. They began opinion polling in the UK way back in 1937 – that’s when it was all born. And to just to be thrown on the scrap-heap like that in 2001! It would be wonderful and greatly appreciated if Anthony could put up pre-1987 polls in the “historical” section imho. :)

    This idea that the Tories should be doing as well as Labour did in the mid-1990s is quite absurd (I’m not saying Joe is suggesting that) – they were the precursors to the biggest landslide for over 60 years.

  28. Alec,

    I would be the first to recognise the possibility of some Labour recovery. We just don’t know yet!

    However you appear to be misinterpreting the media’s view on Brown this week. Yes a few commentators such as Polly Toynbee are prepared to say Brown has strong points but today on BBC she admits she does not know if he has the necessary leadership skills. Most e.g. Matthew Parris have given what appears to be convincing reasons why Brown has the wrong personality to be a successful PM.

    You also seem to have misjudged the Scottish situation. There is little polling but the most recent polls the Tories have tended to be 3rd not 4th. While they may not make a major recovery for some time 3/4 gains at the next GE particularly any from Labour may be particularly relevant to the overall election result. My impression in Scotland, where I live, is that at the next GE there may be much more tactical voting against Labour rather than against the Tories as previously.

  29. Andy D – the only polls I have details of from pre-1987 are Gallup’s ones and, since they weren’t actually the only show in town back then (there would have been Harris, NOP and others) pre 1987 pages would be severely incomplete. If anyone has nice lists of pre-1987 polls they can let me have then I’d be delighted to put them up!

  30. Spinning is obviously here to stay. Last week Mark Senior made much play of the Rochdale local bye election which I mistakenly but understandably thought was something with the parliamentary constituency of that name. I still say Mark that that bye election on a 17% turnout was utterly utterly meaningless. The only party to make any gain last week were in fact the Tories from Independent which naturally Mark failed to mention but to be fair that was an equally meaningless result. You have got to have a spread of at least 10 council bye elections on the same day to draw any conclusions Mark. You can’t just pick and choose dubious individual results to suit your book.
    As for the efforts of one or two Labour supporters on this site when will they wake up and realise that they have no divine right to keep winning elections? If they don’t face up to the prospect of losing then the morning after a defeat comes will be especially hard for them to live with.People like that are to be found in all parties. They merely create a rod for their own back by refusing to acknowledge that the other side could win. It’s their funeral.

  31. Hi, I’m a new poster. I’ve been watching the site for quite a while and enjoying the debate and thought I’d like to join in. My first comment is below.

    Much is made of the fact that some pollsters methods favour Labour and some pollsters methods favour the Tories. However, is it not true that polls in general over the last few years have tended to understate Tory support?.Tory support is usually higher at actual elections rather than in polls or so I am led to believe. Maybe some Tory supporters are shy about declaring views to phone pollsters. Anyone any idea why this should be ?

  32. Nick
    There are more than one or two Labour supporters on this site – most thankfully keep there views non-partisan, as do most of the Tory posters.

    You make a good point with regard to complacency – if the Brown bounce effect had sustained and the Labour lead taken a course of slow declline, then complacency could easily have led to torpor in the next year, followed by a collapse in support and defeat.

    On the matter of timing, this is not the worst time for Brown to be 11 points adrift, and at least one thing is sure : there can’t now be a SLOW decline in support for him; there could even be a slow incline, given that his approach from now on will be far from complacent.

  33. When i said “there” I meant “their”, but did not mean to exclude myself!

  34. John T

    Yes Labour can recover from this position but it won’t be easy. It depends whether what has happened recently permanently damages Brown in voters eyes.

    I think the Tories can win an overall majority at the next election with 42-43% given boundary changes help them and as long as they perform well in the marginals.

    Regarding boundary changes – My own consituency was comfortably Labour at the last election (5,000)but will definitely go Tory
    at the next election given the fact that a mainly Labour small town has been taken out of it and put into the neighbouring constituency which has a huge Tory majority.

  35. To deal with my earlier point, no the Tories don’t need to be doing aswell as Labour in 1995 because, yes, they achieved a huge landslide, and we in the Tories don’t need that, nor is that going to happen.
    But they need to make sure they keep it at 40 or above.

  36. Alec, I have been watching the media all week and it has been excruciatingly bad for Brown. Just trawling through the papers this morning makes it clear how badly he is doing, hav e alook yourslef nothing positive at all. I watched at least 4 reports on PMQ’s with the most positive point being he didnt lose his temper. Most commenattors and media focussed on the fact he had been likened to Mr Bean (how is that positive).

    I like this site because it gives even handed and factual based comment. Please leave the partisanship behind and focus on reality

  37. Joe,

    What the Tories need to get a reasonable majority is getting over 40%, and less Lib Dem to Labour tactical voting.

  38. I think that everyone should remember that it’s two years to the next general election and if a week is a long time in politics (and how recent events have demonstrated this) then two years is an absolute age. I’ll be amazed if Labour doesn’t poll at least as well as it did in 2005 and if that’s the case the result will very much depend on the level of Liberal support so perhaps anyone with a long term perspective should be keeping their eye on the Liberal leadership election as a key to the future.

  39. I’m inclined to agree that there doesn’t seem to be any particular enthusiasm for the Tories as yet.The fact that Labour are still hanging around the 30% mark,The Tories stuck around 40% and the LDs seem to be making something of a modest recovery, simply means it’s very much as we were both Brown took over.

    Of course, this may change.But there’s no freefall as yet.

  40. I share the caution of other Conservatives here.There is a lot do -and as David says, two years is an age in politics.

    Nevertheless, looked at from Cameron’s viewpoint,ever since he became leader the Tories have been ahead, with the exception of the short lived Brown honeymoon.

    Given the state of the party when he took over,his own lack of experience, and an initialy hostile press, he might be entitled to some satisfaction now.
    It seems to me that he has grown visibly in self confidence since the Conference.Clearly Brown’s implosion , and a more positive press have helped-as have the Polls.But he is soaking up experience like a sponge.

    Perhaps Conservatives should be looking for stability and consistency in the Polls now.
    Flash in the Pan results which evaporate at the first whiff of grapeshot from Labour are pointless and would immediately destroy the good work of the last two years.
    But a steady hold on the current Poll position, building credibility and policy will take a toll on Labour’s ability to fight back-and they will fight back.
    I don’t accept that Brown is a busted flush.He is a very astute politician.

  41. Nick Keene , I really don’t understand why Conservatives feel a need to decry real election results , winning elections is the name of the game not leading in opinion polls . So let’s look at all the byelections in November fought by the 3 major parties ( this leaves out 2 LibDem gains from Conservative not contested by Labour )
    Total votes and share compared to last time fought .
    Con 5275 30.0% previous 8887 31.1% minus 1.1%
    Lab 3714 20.7% previous 8149 29.0% minus 8.3%
    LD. 5570 31.1% previous 5239 18.0% plus 13.1%
    Oth 3415 18.2% previous 6221 21.9% minus 3.7%

    The LibDem votes up not just as vote share but in actual number of votes despite the much lower turnout . Now of course I would not say that LibDems will poll anything like that % in a national election but it is pretty clear that LibDem support is reflected rather better in polls by pollsters other than Yougov and that although Conservatives are polling well in the polls the people who are telling the pollsters they will vote Conservative are not that enthusiastic when it comes to getting off their backsides when they have the chance to cast a real vote .

  42. In terms of boosting the Tory vote in Scotland Cameron is doing the right thing, keeping a low profile and not trying to play to Scotland.

    His best strategy is to focus on UK issues and hope that the Scottish Tories through Holyrood can make gains themselves rather than him trying to do it.

    When a Tory leader comes North people still think Thatcher, so he’s actually better staying away.

    Something low profile like a short Scottish weekend break with the family that shows he likes Scotland and Scots but isn’t electioneering or playing to the cameras would be ideal.


  43. Oh and the Sunday night update,

    Both Scotland on Sunday (effectively the Sunday Scotsman) and the Sunday herald, have had editorials and comment pieces effectively saying Wendy Alexander should resign….

    The next key date in the Saga is the meeting of Labour MSP’s on Tuesday. For the (extremely) little they are worth both papers on line polls on WA have over 8)% saying she should go.

    Unfortunately still not one poll amongst them… Cheap skates


  44. Whilst the figures for by-elections in November posted by Mark are arithmetically correct, they do include some distorting contests. Firstly, there was one in Scotland (accounting for 27% of the total votes cast in November) where the SNP nearly won on the first count. Secondly, in 3 of the 9 English by-elections fought by the main parties, the LibDems did not contest the previous election, whereas Labour fought 8 and the Conservatives all 9. This obviously boost the LibDem position relative to the previous elections.

    Considering the 6 by-elections where all three parties contested the previous election we have:

    Con 3,624 37.9% previous 5,628 41.8%
    LibDem 3,976 41.6% previous 4,704 34.9%
    Lab 1,535 16.0% previous 3,139 23.3%
    Others 431 4.5% previous 0

    In particular, although the LibDem share went up by circa 7% its actual vote fell.

    Furthermore if we consider the 5 by-elections against the comparable ones in May 2007 we have:

    Con 2,770 40.9% previous 3,795 44.6%
    LibDem 2,280 33.7% previous 2,842 33.5%
    Lab 1,358 20.1% previous 1,860 21.9%
    Others 360 5.3% previous 0

    Thus the LibDem share was little changed from May 2007, with others coming in at 5%+ at the expense of the Conservatives and Labour in the ratio 2:1.

    This appears to give a somewhat different picture to the one posted by Mark above.

  45. Something I’ve been wondering for about a month now but not posted here yet: In the lead-up to the Labour change all the polls showed a bigger Tory lead under Brown. Then the Brown Bounce happened and we wrote off those pre-change polls as having been people being bad at predicting how they’d react?

    Is it not looking like actually people predicted it very well? For a couple of months now the Tories have been doing better than they did facing Blair in his dying days.

    The difference is that Labour have been doing better too, but we’re now back to May levels of a Tory lead with the higher Tory ratings that were forecasted by the Brown choice polls.

    Perhaps the polls back then with the “Brown as leader” questions were more accurate than we’ve given them credit for?

  46. Mark Senior: I have no compulsion to decry real election results. Local by-elections with abysmal turnouts massively influenced by local factors (including simply who has any) are simply NOT real election results though.

    As for people “getting off their backside” to cast a “real vote” – next time there is a real vote, 2010 probably, we’ll have turnout of at least 60% probably 70% or more. What is the turnout in these puny local by-elections?

  47. Some misconception here that I’m a partisan Labour supporter – afraid not, and I’m not saying who I support either, (if anyone). My point is simply that with a truly awful week of headlines, on top of a month of very poor coverage, mid term of third parliament, and the Tories are only in the low 40’s. There is still no need for an election until 2010, and little snippets like the council by elections point to the fact that there has not been a national moment of revelation when the nation irreversibly turns against the government as in 1992. This could happen, but hasn’t yet.

  48. Philip Thompson has really said it all for me in his well put response to Mark Senior’s continuing efforts at spinning so called Lib Dem “successes” in local bye elections. Number crunching at ankle level usually means tripping up over your own feet but Mark simply does not see this. The next GE is looking more and more like a two horse race particularly as the Lib Dems are seemingly set on choosing the wrong jockey-yet again!

  49. Philip , you rightly point out that turnout is lower in council elections than a general election 30-40% generally rather than low 60’s but the effect of that has been well calculated over many years and can be allowed for . Yougov poll figures are based on a turnout of 79% ( last poll ) . Turnout will be nothing like that ,which party are the 15% who say they will vote but won’t support .
    Nick , first you decry 1 byelection result and say you need a decent sample , then I give a whole month’s and you decry that . You make a bald statement without any evidence whatsoever that the next election looks more and more like a two horse race – this is pure wishful thinking on your part and any and every bit of evidence to the contrary is brushed aside . The LibDems are choosing the best leader out of a choice of 2 good candidates .
    The plain fact is that the Conservatives have a lead in opinion polls but much of that is froth and based on Labour unpopularity . When voters have a chance to actually go out and vote Conservative , they do not feel strongly enough about it to actually do so and would rather sit at home in front of the box .

  50. As someone who is old enough to remember the last Labour Government, and indeed the one before that, one thing that strikes me is that the Tories have not yet managed to make the breakthroughs in by elections and local elections that they made at the low points for previous Labour Governments. For example, Ashton Under Lyne Council was briefly gained by the Tories in the 1970’s; and in the late 1960’s they even gained control of Manchester. Despite healthy leads in the opinion polls there is not much sign of a recurrence of either at present!

    The major difference of course is that the Liberal Democrats in England and the SNP in Scotland are much stronger than they were in previous periods of Labour Government. David Cameron knows that well, which is why he has made a deliberate pitch for the Liberal vote, and has tried privately and publicly to encourage Lib Dem MP’s to defect, including most notably Nick Clegg.

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