A new poll by ICM in the Sunday Telegraph has topline voting intention figures (with changes from their previous poll) of CON 37%(nc), LAB 32%(-3), LDEM 21%(+1). The poll was conducted between the 30th and 31st January.

Since ICM last did a poll we’ve seen two significant events – Peter Hain’s resignation and the Derek Conway scandal. Looking at the raw figures would suggest that Hain damaged Labour, but Conway didn’t damage the Tories. I suspect that isn’t actually the picture, the last ICM poll was already showing an unusual Labour increase that I suspect may have been overblown and this poll merely underlines a Conservative decrease we’d already seen.

That aside, the first post-Conway poll is still suggesting the Tories haven’t suffered huge damage, doubly surprising since coverage of it would have been all over the press when people were replying to this poll. Why not? Perhaps it’s sample error, the Tories are really down but this poll is falsely showing them static. Perhaps it really hasn’t damaged them, or the benefit has balanced out the damage. We expect a story like this to damage a party, but it doesn’t always do so – Mike Smithson has a theory that the Conservatives always improve when Cameron is on the telly, even if it’s a negative news story. It could even be that the (relatively) swift dismissal of Conway helped Cameron.

My own expectation is that the story will damage the Conservatives, it certainly still has legs(though there is no reason to think it won’t spread to other parties, MPs across the spectrum employ family members) Populus are next up, tend to give some of the more favourable figures for Labour and I wouldn’t be surprised to see findings similar to MORI’s last poll from them next week, but we shall see.

Beyond voting intention, the poll asked about policies that would make people more likely to vote Conservative. Amongst non-Tory supporters the most popular potential policy was putting more police on the street – a net +63 (i.e. 63% more people said it made them more likely than said it could make them less likely) said it would make them more likely to vote Tory, +38 would more likely to vote Tory if they forced people to reduce greenhouse gases, +30 if they reduced immigration, +29 for allowing terrorist suspects to be held for longer, +22 for allowing more grammar schools.

Allowing a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was lower, with a net plus of only 13. Cutting taxes and spending was a negative of -6: it would repell more people than it would attract, though as Tim Montgomerie rightly notes, there are some tax cuts like council tax or inheritance tax that polls suggest are more popular (Tim is also right to say that it these questions would be far more interesting if they were restricted to only those who might change – realistically many of the people answering these questions would actually never vote Tory whatever policies they promised.)


71 Responses to “First post-Conway poll”

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  1. John tt
    Yes he was finished off by Derek Conway!!

    Cameron doesn’t need to “promote” him. He is doing a job he loves in which he is making a huge & essential contribution to future Conservative Policy on Social Deprivation.This topic feeds into every aspect of life-Crime, Prisons, Drugs, Healthcare, Welfare Costs….Taxation levels.

    He has found his niche.-Horses for Courses-a lesson GB could learn from.

    Re Prisons-there are two large populations of people in our prisons, both of which have increased dramatically .They are Foreign Nationals who represent around 14% of the whole, and people with serious mental illness who may represent up to 20% of the population.

    Both of these populations spin off from failed policy in other areas.

  2. Andy

    Re MPs standing down.
    Would be interested to know how many are affected by boundary changes.

    That is certainly the reason given by my local Labour MP for standing down. He says it is going to be ‘too difficult’. I suppose you could say he is standing down because the job no longer provides security of tenure.

    I believe there are 49 ‘lost’ Labour seats using Anthony’s calculations.

  3. T Jones….way back up there…

    The Daily Mail is essentially right wing [its owner and readership] but Paul Dacre the Editor is a very close personal friend of Gordon Brown’s. [Their wives are friends too].

    Mr Dacre is on record as saying the Mr Brown ‘has been touched by the hand of greatness’.

    There have been rumours of clashes between the Editor and his staff [the papers positive coverage of the Labour IHT/non doms story, was one.]
    Basically Dacre tows a Tory line when things are good but gives them a kicking whenever he gets the chance.
    This has been widely discussed on ToryHome.

    I undersatnd Mr Dacre’s policy has not been without cost to his paper. Last I heard it had lost 60,000 readers or about 5% of it circulation over a relatively short time.
    I suspect that some don’t mind some negativity about Cameron [esp if it is set in the context of trying to make him more right wing], but they are not on the whole, cheerleaders of Mr Brown.

    Interestingly, in the same period, The Daily Express gained 30,000. Have you seen what they say about Mr Brown?!

    Why does the owner put up with it has been an often discussed question? How long will it go on?
    How far do the circulation figures have to fall?
    Believe me when I say any critisisms of Mr Dacre’s line will not be published on their blog.
    New Labour at its best/worst.

  4. Colin, the mentally ill used to be housed in secure accommodation, before these provisions were closed circa 1988 in favour of “care in the community”, a massive cost-cutting exercise. Even if you took out only the mentally ill, on your figures the prison population would be down to 64k (ie pre-“prison works” boom)

    Derek Conway brought down IDS? You must be making that up!

    If Cameron forms the next Govt, do you really think IDS won’t have a major job on the front bench?

  5. Sally C – please don’t be enraged – I’m sure you’re right that constant meddling doesn’t help services like the courts and justice system, and there is certainly much blame on successive governments for endless reforms. However, the legal profession must accept some blame – simple steps like allowing lower qualified solicitors to handle more cases etc have been blocked by what are in practice trade unions. I don’t think we would accept some of the restrictive practices in law, medicine etc if they occured in manufacturing industries.

  6. John tt – Derek Conway was the first (or one of the first two) MPs who publically announced they had written to the Chair of the 1922 Committee to request a vote of no confidence in IDS.

    IDS’s position in a future Tory government is interesting actually. A lot of the chairs of the policy committees are old war horses like Peter Lilley, John Redwood and Ken Clarke who probably won’t be getting ministerial office in a future government. IDS is a senior figure by wrote of being a former leader, but obviously not on the verge of retirement, so does he step back down to being a minister or stay as a not-that-elder statesman? My guess is that he’d end up with a Secretary of State role tailored for him, covering benefits, employment, communities, social exclusion (a beefed up work and pensions) in a first Cameron cabinet.

  7. Thanks Anthony – that would be funny if it weren’t so appalling!

    I can understand Lilley and Clarke not being candidates – they’ll be well into their sixties, but Redwood will still be in his fifties – I wonder what’s happened to his economic policy review from August?

  8. John tt
    I have no quibbles with you on Care In The Community-a pre Labour policy to save money-& a disaster for the mentally ill.

    Re IDS Anthony has answered I think-do your own research-he must be smiling now!

    Anthonys ideas for IDS post an election win are interesting -and most acceptable to me.

  9. Alec

    I could take further issue with some of what you say eg solictors rights of audience
    – it is very difficult to undo years of disinformation in an area where public experience is limited
    – and I say this as a solicitor rather than barrister

    but I haven’t got time to go for another lie down.

    ‘Successive governments etc…’
    Yes they all make mistakes.
    Each one has to take responiblity for its own.
    ‘Oh well the last lot did X and Y’ is the poor defence of those who do not want to admit the shortcomings of those they voted for.

    The mistakes have been too many and there is no desire to learn from them. The only real commitment is to good press.
    Complaints made about previous administrations are now looked back on with a fond irony: the mantra ‘things can only get better’ looked back on with a sad one.

    ‘But I guess we are all out to feather our own nests and the Government are the ones who will tell you a straight tale.’ [I think that is a quote by Hans Christian Anderson, but I can’t be sure].

  10. This is beginning to sound like an in-house Tory moaning space. It seems to be just assumed that nobody in their right minds can see anything good that has happened in the last 10 years – that no Labour politician can be other than stupid, devious or corrupt (and probably all three) – that everyone, even the Daily Mail, Lord help us, is against the plucky misunderstood Tories – that Labour is doomed whenever they face the electorate, who are baying for their blood…

    I could go on, but my blood pressure might get alarmingly high.

    Back to the polls. Not that bad recently for Labour, huh?

  11. Perhaps the conservatives have not suffered in the polls as a result of Conroy because he was only behaving as people expected him to. Or to put it like commentators on movements in the financial markets do – his actions had already been discounted.

  12. What is fascinating about most recent posts is that the more intemperate and irrational ones are coming from those firmly on the right. Their spelling is atrocious, too! Is there a message here?

  13. I too was beginning to wonder if I had logged on to ConservativeHome by mistake.

    Amazingly quick recovery for Labour after the deluge of bad news since October. It would appear that unless Labour is constantly on the wrong side of news stories the polls start to move towards level pegging pretty prompltly. That cannot be good for the opposition.

  14. New poll in The Times puts Tories eight points agead.

  15. ahead

  16. A Populus poll for The Times tommorow will show Labour 31 (-3), Conservative 40 (+3), LibDem 17 (-2) and others 12 (+1). A random sample of 1,504 adults aged over 18 were polled by telephone between February 1 and 3.

    Exremely intersting. The Hain affair seems to gone down worse than the Conway affair. Sleaze makes all parties look bad and no one really comes off worst the other.

  17. John H
    You are in the clear – not moaning now.

  18. Jamie – not sure the Hain affair has gone down worse? more the way Gordon handled it.

    There could still be something of a delayed response. Obviously, we said that about the last poll aswell. But we will see.

    This has to be very worrying for Labour.

    Mike Smithson on PB is taking it as proof of part one of his theory:
    Part One – every time Cameron is in the news the Tories poll rating goes up [whether the news is good or bad].

    Part Two – [a recent addition – since January] that every time Gordon is in the news personally, Labour go down.

  19. Ah well, Sally C and members of the Tory Brigade, enjoy your moment of relief with the latest poll – but don’t count too much on it as a prediction of how things will look a year (or more) hence.

    We’d better move to the next set of gloats, moans, hopes, fears – further up the screen :)

  20. The detailed data for this Populus poll is now on the website and it is a mystery why the LibDems are down in this poll compared to the January poll . The raw figures are actually slightly better in this latest poll as are the net changes with how people say they voted in 2005 . Net change to Con 12 voters compared to 11 in Jan , net gfain from Labour 13 voters compared to 10 in January . The strange change is with the weighting . The January raw LibDem figure was boosted by the weighting but this month that weighting has gone to Others instead .

  21. OOOPPS Meant to post this on the Populus thread .

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