Just had this sent to me as I was packing up to go home, so don’t have time to post on it properly…but it’s a surprising news so I didn’t want to wait till tonight. MORI’s monthly political monitor shows Labour back ahead.

The topline voting intention figures with changes from their last face-to-face poll in December are CON 37%(-5), LAB 38%(+3), LDEM 16%(+1) (from their telephone poll for the Sun earlier this month the changes are an even more stunning Conservatives down 5, Labour up 6…but I think they are tending to produce slightly different figures these days).

The poll was conducted between the 17th and 23rd January – I’m told it was delayed simply because they wanted to take the time to double check the figures before publishing because of the surprising findings. This means the fieldwork would have been completed prior to both the Peter Hain resignation and the Derek Conway scandal, in fact roughly the same time that ICM were also showing a lift in Labour support.

Every pollster has now shown the level of Conservative support dropping, though there are contrasting findings as to who is benefiting at their expense. We haven’t yet seen any polls taken after the Conway affair, so it may well get worse for them.

(Incidentally, on the economic optimism question I wrote about the other day, the figures have got even worse. 60% think the economy will get worse, only 9% expect it to get better. The net economic optimism figure of minus 51 is the second lowest figure since 1980, the exception being the poll taken straight after September 11th 2001.)

79 Responses to “Ipsos MORI show Labour back in the lead”

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  1. As I’ve said repeatedly, there is a significant soft floating vote in this country that has yet to make up its mind. Last summer they said they were going to vote Labour. Then in October they swung back in droves to the Tories. Now again we see the parties at even stevens.

    The common thread here is that neither party has spelt out yet what they will do for this country. We’ve had lots of ideas and so called policy reviews but little specificity from either Brown or Cameron. That is to be expected mid term but the flip side is that politicians can hardly claim to be surprised when the public’s mood swings in such a febrile manner.

    I await several comments to the effect that Mori have never been any good…

  2. In January 1993 there was an isolated ICM poll showing a 2% Tory lead, despite Black Wednesday.
    Perhaps this is a similar one-off?

  3. Or maybe the grossly inflated media attacks on Brown have receded, and the true picture is coming back into focus? The truth is out there, somewhere!

    The next few polls will be watched really anxiously whatever our political stance.

  4. And Anthony’s update on “economic optimism” would seem to prove that it is just not worth collecting this useless “information” – except to provide more needless and inaccurate doom and gloom.

    Nobody with a memory better than a goldfish can seriously believe that the economic output is worse now than at any time since 1980. Can they?

    P.S. the clock here is still kaput – or am I really posting into the future?

  5. John,

    Since the fieldwork for this poll happened we’ve had polls showing reasonably large Tory leads. If this result was part of a pattern we would have seen it by now.

    As I’ve said here before a rogue poll is one that produces numbers that contradict all the other pollsters.

  6. Ralph , I agree Yougov’s 40% rating for the Conservatives is clearly out of step with all the other pollsters and their poll is clearly a rogue LOL .

  7. As I’ve been saying, its becoming obvious that David Cameron needs to move his strategy on and start developing a coherant narrative in the publics mind as what this guy is all about and where he wants to take the nation. We’re not at a crisis point yet, but slowly the Tories failure to develop a narrative is handing the initiative back to Brown.

  8. I think GIN has got it about right, and although the polls are not all in agreement in detail, they currently all agree about the direction of movement, and apart from a minor boost for the Tories immediately after Christmas this has been a clear pattern for some time now. I think this wasn’t really picked up on the blog as a number of posters were continually dismissing any dip in the Tory lead as a blip, rogue poll, whatever. I’ve raised the prospect before that Brown may well benefit from a tough economic outlook rather than Cameron. This won’t necessarily be the case, but it looks like Cameron’s failure to really ‘get traction’ as the Americans say, may be beginning to show.
    As a neutral observer what has struck me as impressive is the Labour parties collective discipline – in the main they have held their nerve rather well in recent months, which when compared with the febrile mood in the Tory party last summer and the LDs at frequent intervals looks rather good. It will be interesting if this poll is mirrored by others what effect it may have internally on the Tories.

  9. The Tories will be hoping this is a rogue poll. Labour will be hoping the Conway scandal means it isn’t.

  10. Watch out if the Labour lead becomes steady and consistant we could see wisperings from Labour again about a snap genral election sooner than we all think!

  11. Sorry I may of got that wrong I forgot Gordon Brown doesnt take any notice of polls does he!

  12. Glenn, there have been odd polls giving Labour small leads (such as MORI in October, and Populus in November) but there’s been no sign of a sustained Labour lead since the end of September.

  13. The fact that anyone could be even thinking about the possibility of a Labour lead at this stage in the electoral cycle should send shivers down the spines on any true-blue Tory. No, it’s just a small straw in the wind at the moment…

    But I’ve always said don’t underestimate Brown (or the Labour Party in general) – as I think Anthony did, at what might yet turn out to be Labour’s lowest point.

  14. Sean it could happen if the Conawy affair is just the tip of the iceburg for the Tories I said here some time ago the only way Brown will have a remote chance of wining the next election is to call a snap election when the Toties are on the back foot whenever that is and if this or something like this comes to the fore and Labour start showing a consistant lead he will go for it
    I still think he will lose when it comes to a head to head because he will be ducking and diving all over the place when Cameron goes to work on him im not for one minute saying Cameron is my ideal Prime Minister he is not but more Brown is just not an option for me!

  15. I think we’ve seen that Brown doesn’t have the guts to take risky decision at pivitol moments. He’ll go to 2010 or at least 2009.

  16. this poll makes clear that the main parites are neck & neck but as rightly pointed out the field work is slightly older than some other polls, but its still bad news for both labour & conservative as floting voters do not know who to vote for as both do not have any ideas about the way in which they want the country to go, this gives the LIb DEms the perfect chance to pick up votes from both parties, and gain more seats at an election whenever it comes, however for the conservatives i think this is just a blip and the polls will recover for them, back to normal by mid fb or the first week of march: prediction end of month CON 40% LAB 30-32% LD 17-18%.

  17. Gin you are probably right its in his nature to drag it out as long as he possibly can( a slow death for him and the country) but I do think he is an opportunist and if he really belives its his best chance I think he will call it he is desperate to have the endorsement of the country

  18. There are as many Labour MPs as Tory ones who are nervous about the Conway story.

    Sky news blog’ is reporting that Lab MPs are furious with Mann [who is himself the subject of an investigation]. Apparently there is been an acknowledgement that there are worse stories than Conways’!

    It will play very badly if it is all Tory, but the nervousness in Lab ranks suggests they know they are in the firing line aswell.

    I think this poll is out of line, still there is an undoubted Tory fall back, but, after recent events it is more out of date than normal in more sense than one – who knows how Conway/Hain will play.
    Inheritance tax was much bigger than anyone thought.
    The missing discs was not the Black Wednesday predicted.

    As a Tory who works for free [3 hours today in the office where I actually paid money in!] – walking the streets in bad weather tomorrow – I am too close and too angr.

    Sean Fear might be right when he says we, paradoxically are angrier than anyone else. I hope it has come across to the world at large that are instant knee-jerk response was to take no excuses and no prisoners.

    That at least seems is a departure from what the public have come to expect from partisan party people.

  19. The issue I have with this poll is that it’s not just a big swing even accepting that the Tory lead has stagnated or slipped, but that it can’t be linked to anything in particular that I can think of.

    When Brown extended his lead in the summer Cameron stumbled over Grammar Schools and didn’t seem to be in control. We all easily connected the turn around in the autumn with Browns hesitation over calling an election and Cameron going down well at his Conference.

    But what happened between the start of January and a week or so ago , before hain and Conway to make people swing this much.

    In truth there doesn’t have to be an “event”, but there is usually a change in mood that people can point too. In addition when we look at the Mori list of issues the top four are Crime, Race, the NHS and the economy.

    The top two are ones where the Tories are usually strong and in recent months have been ahead, while the have closed the gap on the NHS and the economy.

    Issues where Labour does well like housing and Jobs are all down below 10% compared to crime and race well ahead in the 40%’s.

    I am not saying it’s wrong it just doesn’t seem to have an identifiable reason or feel right.


  20. Sorry ‘our’…response, not ‘are’. ‘Are’ is actually how I say it […Yorkshire,..you know] but not usually how I spell it.

  21. Mark,

    All the pollsters over or under represent certain groups, but at present the average lead for the Tories is roughly 5 points while this poll gives Labour a 1% lead.


    I agree it is time for Cameron to move from reacting to Labour failures and start presenting an alternative.

  22. Peter,

    It was during the later part of Brown’s fight back [when he was making announcements, but keeping out of the press himself]??

    Furthermore, the Tories were having a bad press for reasons unconnected with politics. The ITV share issue resulted in the Tories being blamed in The Sun for Gary Newlove’s murder, because we didn’t have the right policies on law and order!

    The day after he was instructed to sell his shares, the headline was ‘Police, Cameron, Action!’

    You couldn’t make it up – but someone else obviously finds it easy.

    Still – not sure that explains it.
    Didn’t Anthony once say, if it looks wrong and feels wrong, it probably is wrong.

    Judging by the recount, the pollster thought it felt wrong.

  23. Peter, the reason, IMO, is the Tories failure to show an alternative. Over the time, this will cause a slow drift of floating voters to Labour. Voters need a reason to vote Tory. So far, they aren’t getting one.

  24. Ralph , it is a mistake to compare or average polls from different pollsters . That would only be a reasonable statistical thing to do if all the pollsters used the same methodology but they do not so we have then arguments about whose methodology is correct .
    Let’s summarise
    ICM/Populus/Comres All telephone polls with comparable raw data which is then weighted slightly differently ending with :-
    ICM LibDems 1-2% higher than the other pollsters
    Comres Other parties 2-3% higher than the other pollsters Labour 2% or so lower
    Populus Labour 1-2% higher than the other pollsters
    Mori do both telephone and face to face polls , the face to face polls generally have Labour 2% higher than their telephone polls with the Other parties 2% lower . Their harsh certainty to vote filter usually counteracts the slight Labour bias in their samples .
    Yougov at least recently have higher Conservative figures than all the other pollsters . Their panel sampling is certainly unique and to me at least it is a worry that their raw data shows their panel is much more likely to vote than the telephone/face to face samples .
    Now taking all these into account and the usual MofE variations a reasonable estimate of party support this last month would be Con 37-38 Lab 33-35 LibDem 17-19 with a 4-5% Conservative lead .

  25. It was generally accepted that Gordon Brown gifted David Cameron a second honeymoon, but like all honeymoons they do come to an end sometime – and it looks like it has.

    I think the best answer to this is both the main parties are basically equally unpopular, and as for the Lib Dems, well, still nobody knows what they stand for: possibly Clegg can do something about that.

    I suppose we’d better see what happens next, ie if there is a recession, whether it is adequately handled or not, or whether the opposition look like they can do better. There is quite a bit of nervousness in the country right now about the economy, if it turns out to be not quite as bad as feared – then perhaps Labour might get away with it.

  26. One theory is that in hard times the worried run back to the arms of the one they know, not the one they love.

    Major said that was why he won. Things came good in the end that was when they were punished.
    The public have to wait for the car to be under control before they stop and get out.

    Not sure if those parts have undergone a recent wobble in the face of economic gloom.
    The Tories seem to be doing quite well on ‘its the economy stupid’ bits of recent polls.

  27. This is clearly a complete rogue poll – we already have 2 later polls so we can calculate the retrospective error (-6.4%) as well as the deviation from the WMA (-5.7%). It is the 3nd worst rogue poll in the dataset – the worst being the Ipsos/MORIs on 6/9/06 and 16/10/06 which both proved to be underestimating the C Lead by 7.6%. These things happen – as I have repeatedly pointed out the real 90% confidence intervals of these polls are over +/-5% and so in 26 polls you’ll get 3 out of them. Ipos/Mori have an Anti-C bias of 1.5% (the worst of any pollster) and a StD of 2.9% (second worst only to Communicate). Bottom line: says more about Ipsos/Mori than about C Support.

  28. PS the Weighted Moving Average is now 39:33:17

  29. I dont think just the economy good or bad will save Brown there are large numbers of people in this country the “Im not sure yet” voters who are not saying will I vote for Brown or Cameron I think its more like David come up with a real change of direction and attitude that is much more in tune, attractive and what the people really want and I will vote for you or I wont be voting next time
    Get out there Cameron and tell the Nation where we need to be going be honest tell us what you can do what will be difficult to acheive and promise that things will really change under the Tories or at least they will have a good go at doing so otherwise you will miss a the boat!

  30. LOL Mr Beale it doesn’t need a statistician to look at the whole series of polls since early last December . A 10 year child would easily see that Yougov are consistently giving higher Conservative ratings than all the other pollsters . I agree they would also pick up that this latest Mori poll is right at the limiys of M of E though not technically IMHO a rogue .

  31. GIn

    “Peter, the reason, IMO, is the Tories failure to show an alternative. Over the time, this will cause a slow drift of floating voters to Labour. Voters need a reason to vote Tory. So far, they aren’t getting one.”

    While that may well be true, this isn’t a drift it’s a tsunami, with no evidence of a typhoon or earthquake to cause it.

    So where did it come from?

    I do take on board Sally’s point , and it may be that what gets front page in the SUn or Express doesn’t make the Record or Herald, so I’ve missed it.

    We’ve the first SNP budget, Wendygate, and then Trumpgate, Aviemoregate and Windygate on Lewis to deal with.

    It seems it all coming down to whether an SNP government set on expanding the economy and encouraging growth and investment has been too proactive and crossed the line in terms of neutrality on planning.

    I don’t think it has and if we have pushed it it’s more being over enthusiastic and inexperienced that anything corrupt, but then sleaze is the big story these days and we’ve played our part in promoting it, so I guess whats sauce for the goose.

    Under normal circumstances I’d be laughing to see the Tories take a hit like this but just doesn’t feel right.


  32. Anthony,

    Apologies again for drifting in to Scottish politics but I was trying to point out that I can miss the mood in England because we can have a different news agenda up here.


  33. I believe its unhelpful to dismiss this as a rogue poll entirely – it fits with the pattern for most of the last 2 months and is consistent with a recovery in government fortunes after the awful November press. It highlights Cameron’s basic inability to really connect with voters – compare to Blair in 94-97. The position for Labour mid term is not too bad, but lots can happen. There is evidence that Brown is growing into the role of PM and those looking for reasons into a drift back to Labour shouldn’t discount trips to China & India etc – the normal stuff of being PM that looks good on the TV. Like some of us said in October and November, its all to play for – I was surprised at our hosts comments on Brown’s chances next time round, but perhaps we’re all getting a bit more perspective now.

  34. There is one thing that puzzles me it seems most councils will be raising their taxes between 4 and 5 percent does this give the real indication that inflation is at this figure and not the 2 percent figure Gordon Brown is telling us or are local councils hoodwinking us into coughing up more money or is it the government short changing councils so they get the blame for yet more tax rises
    I think council tax and how councils are run could be an issue at the next election but non of the parties seem to say to much about this

  35. Indeed a child of 10 can see that, of the 5 YouGov polls since Dec 1, they have on average come out with higher C leads. The question, as always, is whether this is statistically significant? The 10-year-old may be stumped on this. The answer is, not yet.

  36. Wow!

    Unbelievable. Sad! :(

  37. Mr Beale , no an 8 year old would not be stumped with that question , average Conservative % in those 5 polls 43% average of all other pollsters 39.5% , the answer is clear .

  38. While this may well be a rogue Poll the by election results over the last few months don’t seem to bear out the very poor Labour Poll showing over the same period.

    Brown has not been under constant attack in the media which must have had some effect.

    Taxes the tories are offering tax cuts on the back of growth in the economy – with little or no growth that policy is meaningless!!

    Also now we know one third of tories are paying their families, while the vaste majority of this is legit does anyone believe there aren’t any more Conways out there – maybe some in other parties too

  39. The main point for Labour is that if they can keep the Tory lead under 5%, it almost certainly means Brown stays in Downing Street – either in a minority government or with Clegg’s help. That’s why it’s so important for the Tories to keep that average lead in the polls over 5% at least. I see the WMA has the Tory lead down to 6%, so it’s getting near to that uncomfortable level for the Tories.

  40. I cannot believe that this poll is spot-on (not that my lack of faith is proof).

    However, the fact that a poll from a reputable source can show such a result is almost certainly telling us that the is in that direction. It’s not out of line in direction, merely in size.
    Tories lead dropping. Labour Up. Lib Dems up a bit.

  41. I can’t help but get the feeling that N Beale is very biased towards the Conservatives … I thought this forum was supposed to be independent!!

  42. I have been reading the comments with interest. Some seem to me to be ‘wishful thinking’.
    It also appears that there are a lot of conclusions drawn when the actual questions asked by the pollsters are not necessarily known.
    I take part fairly frequently in these polls, I am one of the volunteers. I volunteer my opinions because I am not able to respond (and be heard) in any other way. Although the pollsters no doubt try to get a balanced response, I should think that it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes I answer the questions giving the response that is nearest to the one that I would like to give.
    I guess that some of the respondents are not as aware of the true picture as others when they give an answer to a question which is sometimes a little vague as to its real meaning.

  43. The Labour lead is surprising, but it isn’t that different from the Guardian one only a few days earlier that had the Tory lead down to 2%. Rogue would perhaps be a bit strong a term. It will be interesting to see what impact the Derek Conway affair has.

  44. Perhaps the voters are slightly miffed that the IHT initiative hasn’t been followed by further eye-catching policy announcements, and therefore momentum has been lost.

    Another thought – Brown seems to have accepted a little advice regarding the need for a spin-doctor, and the need to be “post-Blair” not “anti-Blair”; the internecine fights weren’t helping.

    Like Alec above, I’m impressed by the apparent unity in the Labour ranks.

    The next fieldwork will be done against the backdrop of not only the Conway affair, but also of a couple of close poll results. There doesn’t seem to be much chance of respondents being too emabarrassed to say “Labour”, which I think was the case for the last Tory Govt.

    Off topic a little, but there was something in the news about parents being too shy to sing nursery rhymes to their kids! Could it be that we are a nation of reticent ditherers who identify with the PM more than with his oppo?

  45. JohnTT says,
    ‘who identify with the PM more than with his oppo?’

    John, who did you mean?
    an oppo is your mate/friend.

  46. The Conway affair will put Labour up to about 40% and the Tories on about 35% with MORI and Populus I would have thought.

  47. As an aside, I suspect February will be a generally bad month for the Tories, but beyond that we’re into the local elections campaign, which will put Brown and Cameron center stage and should see the Conservatives fortunes improving in the polls in March and April.

  48. John tt As I have said before Cameron will lose ground if he waits to long before showing his vision for the next decade it has to go past the next election I think Thatcher did do that “like it or loath it” but Blair didnt maybe because peolple would not have liked what he would say and he would not of gained power for so long being removed from power earlier than he actually did by either the voters or his own party
    In my opinion Brown and the Labour party are being forced by the public and the Tories to move their policies reluctantly to the right I think at some stage there will be unrest in the Labour party over policy though I must say I agree they have held together very well but I will be very supprised if this continues
    But if Brown is genuine about going down this route instead of spinning it I will listen with interest instead of turning off my T.V.Set whenever he appears on the screen
    I also think alot of people still today dont like to admit they vote Tory its just thought of voting for that (mostly unfair view) overweight super rich M.P. in the house commons who is not really interested in society only when it effects them
    I remember during the 80s I asked many people which party they support and very few said Tory I was convinced then that the Tories were rigging the elections somehow sounds daft I know but that was how it was

  49. Very interesting to see labour back in the lead. Although it should be said there are a few factors with this poll that make the results questionable.

    Apparently there is a Sunday Telegraph ICM poll tommorow that will show a larger Conservative lead than the last Guardian ICM poll.

  50. Here it is – the usual Tory partisan “running for the hills” reaction to a rogue POLL – true supporters believe in the party and pay no attention to the odd silly POLL – The Tory party themselves have cleared out most of the old “prophets of doom” – now they need to clear out so called supporters (and their are some on here that say they are supporters)as well who worry about th slightest downturn .

    Either you believe in something or you don’t !!

    My predictions are all you need to follow .

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