ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has topline voting intention figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 43%(-2), LAB 28%(+3), LDEM 19%(-1). The poll was conducted between the 18th and 20th July.

We’re getting some contradictory messages from the polls this month. Populus and ICM are both showing Labour recovering from their nadir, YouGov and ComRes show things pretty much as they were. Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate the differences – the broader picture is still that all are showing the Conservatives up in the 40s and Labour in the mid to high 20s.

The other questions in the poll revealed the deep pessimism over the economy that has become typical in recent polls. 61% are not confident about their finances, 60% say they are cutting spending and 80% think we are headed for recession. David Cameron and George Osborne now have a 19% lead over Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling on which team people most trust to run the economy.

For those who got excited about that 5% for the Greens in Sunday’s ComRes poll. they are at 2% in this poll.

23 Responses to “Labour up in latest ICM poll”

  1. things quietening down now summer is upon us. Still nice to see Purnell try and liven things up

  2. Weighted Moving Average still 45:26:17 – the changes in the polls all look like noise/sampling error to me.

    I still think we’ll see another drop in Labour support before the end of the year, but at the moment things are quiet. I wonder what will trigger it?

  3. As a couple of us suggested a few weeks ago Labour would recover to about 15 points deficit, although I thought it would be later in August.

    But this is disaster poll for Labour. Basically spineless Labour MP’s want any excuse not to take action against Brown. Polls like this, and especially if Labour retain Glasgow East this week, mean that Brown is safe. But does anyone really think Labour can win under Brown? At best they will restrict the Tories to having most seats but no overall majority, with Cameron having to stitch up some deal with Clegg. In such circumstances will Brown stay on as leader? No, they will dump him; so if Labour are going to change Brown after the election why not do it now. At the moment the nation is sleep walking into a Tory government.

    The only real good news for Labour in this poll is that the Tory support is soft. It’s been the worst 9 months for Labour since the 1980’s and yet the Tories are only at 43%. I don’t know where Blair/New Labour were in 1995 but it wasn’t 43%.

  4. Labour were at 48% in summer 1995, but the ‘other’ vote was only 5%, and at that time polls tended to over-estimate the Labour share systematically. 45% (and I agree with N Beale above on trying to read anything into individual voting intention polls) is outstanding for David Cameron’s Conservatives.
    The reasons why Labour probably won’t dump Brown yet, and shouldn’t, are that (1) the next leader will suffer the same fate as Brown due to the continued economic downturn and (2) one of the main reasons why the Tories were hammered in 1997 despite not bad economic indicators was their appalling divisions being highlighted, principally over Europe, in that Parliament (the other is ‘time for a change’ after 13-18 years in, as captivated in the perceived sleaze factor – and Labour will now be suffering that too). Yet another unelected PM after a bitter contest would make Labour seem more divided, which really unimpresses the voters.
    The time to change the leader as a desperate throw would be about six months before the next election, and if the polls and results are still as they are now that must be quite likely. However this would be unlikely to gain the party a fourth term, unless there were to be a miracle in perceived financial standing.

  5. Gareth – you can look at historical polling data on this site.

    Just click on “POLLS” (pace Oracle!) at the top, and then HISTORICAL.

    Labour/Cons were anything between 47/32 and 59.5/20 in June-July 1995.

    With petrol coming down at the pumps, the spectre of Osborne’s stabiliser won’t do him much good unless they go up again. No-one wants a rise in duty now to compensate for a drop in the headline price.

    It’s not clear to me whether “sharing the proceeds of growth” really has changed to “saving some of the proceeds of growth until we have a down-turn”. The stabiliser idea is the same thing writ small. The Cons seem to be putting themselves forward as the party of responsible taxation , but if the level of thinking is what I suspect, their tax policy could well kick them where it hurts.

  6. Robert – Six months before the election, is anyone going to want to stand? If the lead has been cut to single figures, they’ll think they can win under Brown , and if not, they’ll be vulnerable to the “last throes of a discreditted regime” charge.

    The other difference is that the momentum of contempt for the Tory government really started many years before 1997. New Labour were an unstoppable juggernaut by the time came. There was a broad coalition against their perceived attitude to society, and although Blair was widely despised, it was by the left and the right, for opposing reasons which couldn’t meld.

    The momentum against Labour has still a lot to gather -this could well mean an ever widening gap over the next two years, depending on whether there is a uniting factor – the idea that they have stuffed it up for us and don’t care.

  7. It looks like Labour support has bottomed out as many said. It has been a bad few weeks for the Tories and they seem to be on a run of bad stories. I do think their support is soft as said above. A few people have commented to me after seeing Osborne on TV recently that he is very vague and does not inspire confidence. With increased exposure closer to the election it will be crucial for him to up his game or their lead could evaporate slowly. However, Labour needs to exploit this but they seem to be still on the defensive. A more attacking strategy would help them I think.

  8. Labour supporters – this is just one poll, don’t read too much into it yet.

    Personally until YouGov do a poll which shows a (marginal) Labour recovery I won’t believe it.

    Regarding the Labour leadership – personally I still think Brown will be there at the next GE regardless of the polls. The main reason being that all the decent candidates won’t stand when the perceived wisdom is they’re going to take a pasting at the polls and the economy and Government books are in their current state. It’s a quick way to ruin a career! Why not wait until after the GE, which would give the a chance to rebuild and make a name for themselves in opposition.

  9. KTL – It depends on the circumstances. If Brown were ousted, I’d agree totally, but if he resigned for whatever reason, it might be seen as a courageous move for some-one to stand, and it would be unlikely that the new person would be blamed for the defeat.

  10. The shares are beginning to drift back to what I would call a more normal position for the circumcstances, which I would define as C – 40%, Lab – 30%, LD – 18-20%.

  11. The idea that labour is recovering is not at all borne out by this poll or others. The levels of support seem to be pretty constant for the last month – but the ratings on competence, trust with economy seem to be getting worse and worse. Eventually these will feed through into another slab of Labour support melting off and crashing into the sea.

    Brown’s ratings are uniformly dreadful – there will be more appalling cock-ups and the economy will get a lot worse. Brown is already (I think) the most unpopular PM since records began, and this will get worse as well.

  12. I agree Labour is being written off a bit too harshly – I’ve made the point many times.
    But when some polls still show the Tory lead around 20 points, it’s a bit premature to say it’s been a bad patch for them.
    I did read that Consumer spending was pretty strong in Central London in June, although they think it was partly tourism and good weather.

  13. Nbeale – i hate to say it, but some of that last bit sounds like the Oracle!

    The weather is an interesting issue – hurricane Dolly could well determine whether oil settles back below $100 per barrel, which in turn could prevent looming disasters at the pumps.

  14. An artificial uniform swing of 6.65% is required (assuming no change in the LibDem share) to deliver a Conservative overall majority – which would mean the Tories would need to be 10.4% ahead in the GB vote.

    But I think If the Conservatives can keep their lead with YouGov to no less than 8% by the next general election, they will have an overall majority. This is because the swings tend to be larger in the marginal seats (as they were in 1992 and 1997). A YouGov Tory lead of less than 8% and we’re looking at a hung parliament. If YouGov are still showing Tory leads of 11%+ by then David Cameron will be absolutely guaranteed an overall majority.

  15. Given that swings tend to be larger in the marginal seats when a change of government is a strong possibility, as they were in 1992 and 1997 – I think the Conservatives will get an overall majority if YouGov still show their lead at 8% or above at the next general election. Any less than 8% and we’re in hung parliament territory. If it is 11%+ David Cameron is guaranteed an overall majority.
    I single out YouGov for its well-deserved reputation for accuracy, as per its predictions of the London mayoral race.

  16. My first post had disappeared before I posted my second.

  17. Re KTL and john tt

    I agree with up to a point KTL; no one wants to stand if they are going to get a pasting in the polls. But there are 2 exceptions: first, if they are going to lose their seat anyway then they won’t be in the next parliament. This applies to the original Worcester Woman, Jacqui Smith, Oxbridge Economics degree, working mum, appears like a human being on TV, and despite being asked to do some pretty unpopular things by Brown, still has some respect left in Labour. What’s she got to lose? (except her seat on current polls).

    And secondly, if someone really has got the balls to go for it despite knowing they will lose, they may calculate they could restrict the Tories to the extent that they have no overall majority after the next GE. In that case they will retain the Labour leadership after the election loss and they will have stealed a march on their leadership rivals. This must surely be going through Miliband’s mind as he sees Purnell positioning himself recently.

  18. If Jacqui Smith was leader, perhaps she would hold her seat, as leadership tends to give a boost.
    Or does it?
    It seems opposition parties get a leadership boost, more than government parties. (or maybe that’s just because opposition parties tend to be doing badly by definition, and the electorate makes an exception for the leader).

    As it is, I suspect Jacqui Smith could become a target – although that may prove completely wrong and it’ll be entirely in line.

    Btw – John Howard lost his seat in Australia last year.
    It didn’t attract much attention here, but it happened.

  19. I think people tend to “swith off” from politics during the summer, I know I certainly do.

    This summer it will happen to less of an extent due to the severe economic situation, but I think some degree of narrowing can be expected until the gap widens again in October.

    And that will probably be my final post here for the next month or so. :)

  20. Andy D, trust in YouGov polls is a dangerous thing – it was successful in making an accurate prediction because there is a large geographical bias in its panellists towards the capital, so its polling for the London Mayoralty was disproportionately accurate. I’m sure Anthony can provide further information on how YouGov sampling fluctuations are likely to impact on a wider scale, and how they are weighted to provide a unified picture, but I don’t suspect any uniformity can be accurately extrapolated out of their polls for a general election seat return figure.

    As it is a 15pt lead is more realistic than 20pts, though I’m a little surprised that recent increases in LD newspaper coverage (tax-cutting has brought some tentative interest from both Telegraph and Guardian, strangely) as their new leader starts to bed in (ho hum) hasn’t yet fed into the polls. When Clegg establishes himself as a recognisable figure (he will do eventually, though one may question how long it will take) I fully expect them to return consistently to above 20%, even if there is no greater advance on that.

    So if we’ve entered a new period of poll stability and this small shift is the only likely movement in the upcoming months before the conference season begins we should ask whether the LDs will bite equally into Lab and Con, or one more than another.

  21. “there is a large geographical bias in its panellists towards the capital”

    And this is based on? I know exactly what the breakdown of the YouGov panel is, but as far as I am aware there are no publically available figures.

    I don’t who what you mean by sampling fluctations. If YouGov suffered from a severe shortage of people in a particular region they’d have a problem, but they don’t. Samples are geographically representative across the country like all the other pollsters.

  22. Gareth / JJB,

    UNless there is a significant change in the polls, Jacqui Smith will lose her seat. Not only does she have a small majority, but Tories now control her local council and she lost two more local councillors last week – one, a Cty Cllr elected same day as last GE, on a double digit swing.

    Being party leader – or even PM does not grant immunity from losing one’s seat. Chancellor Kohl lost his seat when his government fell to Gerhard Shroder some years ago. Few people noticed because the German’s have a top-up list (like Welsh Parliament & Scottish Assembly) so he was returned as an Additional Member. It is conceivable that were Thatcher still an MP in 1997 she too may have lost to Rudy Vis – though she would undoubtedly have had a greater personal vote than whatisname (aka Hartley Booth).

    Having said that, Jacqui Smith really does have nothing to lose by challenging Brown. If she does not, then she may never have the chance to even be in the shadow cabinet after 2010 – let alone be PM. Remember that if Portillo had not lost his seat in 1997, then he would in all probability have become leader. Even returning in a by-election two years later was not enough to recover the lost ground.

    Wonder how many other Labour MPs are making that calculation ? Will Charles Clarke or Alan Milburn stick their necks out if they see their own seats slipping away ?

  23. I take your point re Jacqui Smith having nothing to lose, but really – she’s looked totally out of her depth as Home Secretary never mind as a prospective PM. No Matter how unpopular, good or bad GB is he’s still better than JS.

    On the wider issue of big name MPs losing their seats at the next GE – If there is a big Tory victory, which is a distinct possibility, it is inevitable that there will be some cabinet ministers amongst defeated MPs. Some of whom may not even be in particularly vulnerable seats.