The first poll conducted since Gordon Brown’s speech has some good news for Labour. The YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 41% (-3) LAB 31%(+7) LDEM 16%(-4). It was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the fieldwork starting after Brown’s speech.

The poll shows an impressive 7 point jump in Labour’s support, putting them over 30 for the first time in months and resulting in the lowest Conservative lead since way back in April (though perhaps it’s a sign of how much things have changed that a poll showing the Conservatives 10 points ahead is now considered a fantastic advance for Labour).

Does this mean the corner has turned and Labour are pulling things back? It could do – nothing’s impossible – but right now it’s probably more likely to be a passing conference boost. To see how ephemeral they can be we only need to look at the Lib Dem score in this poll. The YouGov poll conducted after their conference put them up 4 points to 20%, their highest score for years. This poll puts them back down at 16%, where they were before the conference season began. We’ll know the real position after all three conferences and all three conferences bounces have come and gone.


92 Responses to “Big post-conference boost for Labour”

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  1. I am pleased the Tory’s are on 41% after Labour’s saturation coverage.
    Perhaps that is now their core vote?

  2. I also think the large poll leads for the Tories are artificial. Brown’s speech was very good and well aimed. It has certainly bolstered him – probably for the medium term.

    The reason why Tory leads are so fragile is because this economic downturn is a direct result of their policies, and that the Tories have already pitched their tent on the “free-market” side of the fence with the current role John Redwood is in. That puts them firmly on the wrong side of history now.

    Labour should attack this with aplomb. Pointing out that Redwood proves the Tories are for the same but with “go-faster stripes” has the benefit of being true as well as reminding voters that the Conservative Party has no clue how to handle this crisis.

  3. GIN – they normally do the fieldwork over a weekend and release around Tuesday, so I’d expect they’ve delayed it for a week and it will turn up on Tuesday.

  4. jontt
    I can agree with you on one thing . Gordon Brown has an inherent desire to do some good. Most politicans of all stripes do and it always drives me nuts when people suggest that they have dark and sinister motives for their policies. Whilst I come from the opposite political spectrum to Mr Brown I suspect that if we sat down for a pint of beer in a quiet country pub one day we would probably find ourselves agreeing that we had the same ends in mind just not the same means.
    I believe Gordon Brown is an honourable man on a mission to do what he can to help the poor and disadvantaged in society. He does I think understand that a society has to create wealth before it can spend it but somewhere along the line he has as chancellor lost control of the situation by allowing our public and private finances-both credit and debt -to get out of hand. The consequences are only now becoming apparant leaving a legacy for the next generation to bear for which they may not easily forgive us.

  5. I’m not actually that unhappy with some Labour revival.

    If Labour had gone into freefall the Tories would have got complacent (still a lot of work to do to make sure that 117+ seats is actually delivered when the time comes),
    and the LD vote may have risen.

    This poll is further evidence that this election is going to be a two party contest – it will focus on those who want a change of direction, and those that want to prevent it and stick with Labour,
    and this is one the Tories can win.

    The LD vote is interesting. It is true that if they’re vote only just dips below 20% they can buck the trend in many seats. But if it falls further into the teens, there could be a tipping point where a lot of them lose their seats.

  6. “GIN – they normally do the fieldwork over a weekend and release around Tuesday, so I’d expect they’ve delayed it for a week and it will turn up on Tuesday.”

    They ought to delay it until the week after next, when the dust has settled after the conference season is over.

  7. Nick – Well said!
    I think the UK’s debt habits/problems are cultural, and would have been just as bad if not worse under a Tory chancellor.

    The French are apparently weathering the storm much better than we are on account of their extremely strict credit controls and (cultural) caution – it makes for sluggish growth, but the trade off is less pain during downturns.

  8. JJB, I’d be interested to know why conservatives fear the LDs so much and are so intent on returning the country to a polarised two-party system which has so regularly and spectacularly failed throughout the years. Why do you think this is in the public interest?

    Considering the growth of floating voters and fall in total membership numbers it would seem to me that this is recognition of a general desire for a different way of politics, even if it is no endorsement for the LD party platform.

    The anger over ongoing expenses scandals, spin and sleaze is damaging for our system of government which can hardly help improve engagement with and participation in the decision-making process. Whatever partisan affiliation individuals have we should all be concerned about levels of disillusion, apathy and the growing gulf between representatives and their constituents.

    The two-party system leads to a reductive choice between two equally undesirable options and creates to a breakdown in debate with divisive policy outcomes, as seen over the issue of the Iraq war when both major parties were in favour.

    The truth remains that Hobson’s choice is no choice at all – pity the Americans.

  9. Portillo put it quite well last night –
    it’s not a British crisis, or a Word crisis.
    It’s an American and British crisis.
    (don’t always agree with him).

    Sooner or later we need to have a higher rate of saving in both countries.

  10. JJB – It is a World crisis – many of the poorest countries in the world are still suffering from not having their bad debts written off by profligate lenders.

  11. That is true – but it’s best to bypass aid to people who have specialist knowledge and can help put in place measures which are sustainable.
    Claire Short was a good International Aid Secretary.

  12. This is all interesting speculation but I still think if we get a poll 2 weeks after all the conferences are over and the dust has cleared the Tories will still be 20 points in front of Labour. We shall see…..

  13. And if the Tory lead bounces back to about 20 and Labour lose the Glenrothes by election where will that leave GB within the Labour party ?

    Leadership talk will bcome rife once again.

  14. “Sooner or later we need to have a higher rate of saving in both countries.”

    Quite right but the whole economy has become geared towards consumer spending. Not only are people not saving enough but they are also borrowing too much to fund even more spending.

    The economy needs to be fundamentally rebalanced which will lead to a lot of pain in the short term.

  15. Thanks Anthony. :)

    Andy, ICM haven’t missed a month with their ICM/Guardian poll since 1987, so they have got to do one before September is out.

  16. I would love to know what Gordon Brown is doing in the USA ?? His party claim that he is there to sort out the world economy – then why are’nt the rest of the world there ?

    This i am afraid is another example of what he did last year by going to Iraq during the Tory conference – this time trying to look like a world statesman and going off to the USA.

  17. If I was the PM (which is somewhat unlikely), I would send David Milliband crawling out of Downing Street on his hands and knees, in the reshuffle.

    That’s got to go down as one of those classic cringe making speeches.

  18. ‘This i am afraid is another example of what he did last year by going to Iraq during the Tory conference – this time trying to look like a world statesman and going off to the USA.’

    MIke doesn’t every Head of Govt. try to look like a world statesman, especially just ahead of his opponents Conference. Normal politics to me…

  19. “the whole economy has become geared towards consumer spending. Not only are people not saving enough but they are also borrowing too much to fund even more spending”

    Hmm, who’s to blame for that?

  20. “This i am afraid is another example of what he did last year by going to Iraq during the Tory conference – this time trying to look like a world statesman and going off to the USA.”

    I think there is plenty of practical work to do in New York on reforming the international financial architecture, though what influence Brown exerts and whether he can exert it to any positive effect remains to be seen.

    Mike’s criticism is entirely misplaced. Any suggestion that this financial crisis will go away on its own is complete wishful thinking.

  21. “Any suggestion that this financial crisis will go away on its own is complete wishful thinking”

    Really? I’m beginning to think that letting some of the more profligate banks go to the wall and leaving ourselves with a rump of well managed and slightly more cautious ones going forward might not have been such a bad idea!

    As it is it seems that we’ll all have to fork out billions/trillions in order to save who? How many people will be saved from repossession because of the financial ‘bail out’? I still have to pay my mortgage whether or not my particlar bank goes bust!

  22. I think Ivan might be correct, but I haven’t come to a definite view on this.
    I’m also very sceptical about stopping short selling – surely it is a legitimate function of the market.

  23. Ivan-I have considerable sympathy with that view.

    Watching US TV just now demonstrates that Main Street USA pretty much shares your view too.

    The Congressmen trying to respond to the Paulson/Bernanke Rescue Plan know that only too well, and will get lynched back home if they leave Washington without making this a package of help for Main Street as well as Wall Street.

    They all seem intent on making the package reflect this-hence the cliff-hanger!

    BBC screened a fascinating Andrew Neil programme last night on the causes & implications of the whole thing.

    There is “blame” everywhere-Feckless borrowers/Irresponsible lenders/Worthless Credit ratings/Growth driven Government credit policies/Inadequate Central Bank supervision…and even the possibility of Criminality following the FBI investigation.

    It just seems that , in the West, the growth of our economies now relies on domestic consumption of imported consumer goods, financed by low savings levels and high personal debt.

    The alternative model of high savings & low personal debt.( used to be called “prudence” I seem to remember)
    =recession.

    And that-so it seems-cannot be countenanced , so the whole merry-go-round has to be kept in motion-and we need the Banks to keep it in motion.

  24. ICM out;

    Con 41% Lab 32% Lib 18%

    Another poll showing a modest Labour bounce.

    Now, lets see what bounce the Tories get after their confernece.

  25. It’s true the bail-out doesn’t solve any of the structural problems, but neither will letting them fester.

    The lack of transparency which has let people like Hank Paulson be appointed to a political positions from their financial/military/other positions in the US presidential system exemplifies the lack of accountability and the lack of independence of the post holders.

    Who was the prime advocate for the invasion of Iraq? Gen Colin Powell. Who has designed the bailout of the financial markets? one of the men who designed it.

    The problem is the presidential system itself.

  26. I don’t see any reason why the Tories should expect much of a bounce from their conference. They have been deafeningly quiet throughout this financial crisis and I believe that is for the simple reason that they know the electorate associates them with the kind of indulgent lax regulation which leads to the sheer gluttony we have seen in merchant banks these past twnety-five years.

    There just isn’t the voracious appetite for a Tory government out there. Just a wish to pillory Labour for their capitulation to wrongheaded “free-market” dogma (which many Tories are still wedded to). A conference hall stuffed full of the way-out-of-touch blue-rinse brigade won’t stretch the Tory lead out to 20 points again.

  27. “It’s true the bail-out doesn’t solve any of the structural problems,”

    I think you may be absolutely right thomas.

    There is much comment that selling their doubtfull debts to the taxpayer may clean up balance sheets of these banks, but it doesn’t fill the hole in their capitalisations.

    The massive re-capitalisations now required, will entrench & enhance the losses sustained by common stock holders.

    And that’s where the losses should land-with the holders of risk capital in these companies.Then the stock-holders can decide whether they want to continue approving their directors’ remuneration packages-or even their emloyment contracts.

    That’s the way it ought to work.

  28. Well Ben, the 2007 Tory conference certainly helped change the political weather…. I personally think its a given that we’ll see a 4-5% bounce for the Conservatives this time next week.

  29. Ben “They (the tories) have been deafeningly quiet throughout this financial crisis” Absolutely true! I’m not sure I agree with your reasons for this but I find it baffling all the same.

    “A conference hall stuffed full of the way-out-of-touch blue-rinse brigade”
    Hmm, Methinks it may be you who is out of touch here, the membership of the Conservative party has changed a lot in recent years. You only have to look at recent polling breakdowns on this site to see that Tory support is stronger in the lower age groups as, of course, is that of the Lib Dems.

    I suspect it’s the Labour party who are struggling to fill a hall with young faces for the cameras these days!

  30. Judging by last week, they are struggling to fill a hall full stop

  31. Past history is often irrelevant. I give this example just to put any Tory jitters in some perspective –
    In November 1976, at the depths of the IMF crisis, the Gallup poll gave the Tories a 25% lead, and the County elections in May 1977 were terrible for the government (left with just Durham outside the Mets).

    Yet the Tory lead gradually shrank and averaged 2% in the final quarter of 1977.

    They still won the election in 1979.

  32. Joe James B. It remains very debateable,however, as to whether the Tories would have won an election called in 1978!

  33. Ah – I did a description of that elsewhere.
    Forgive me if I post it again here.

    I suspect Labour would have won in the late summer/early autumn but it was risky…..

  34. LAST TIME – Tory/Labour leads in 1977-79

    Forgive the old posts below, but Graham has raised an interesting question about what would have happened if Jim Callaghan had called election in 1978.

    According to Bernard Don’hue, Callaghan’s decision was a considered one, even if it turned out to be a disaster.
    He had been privately advised that although Labour had regained a narrow, fairly steady, but still intermittent lead in the opinion polls, they would be beaten in marginal seats in the Midlands.
    He went to his Sussex farm, I think for the August bank holiday, with the Times Books of the 1970 and 2 1974 elections, working through the results (as some of us do here) trying to work out what the results would be. He concluded something like 305 Tory seats and 305 Labour seats or something very close.

    Thatcher, who could actually be quite a cautious figure on some things, wrote perceptively that if she had scraped in in 1978 and got the winter of discontent it could have broken her too.

    . At the end of the summer recess [1978], Jim Lester (MP for Beeston, now Broxtowe] was telling people he’d clear out his office to avoid coming back to collect it (if the election was called at the end of the recess).

    By 1979 everyone was looking at a pay policy smashed by union stupidity.

    March 26th, 2008 at 11:31 pm
    Joe James Broughton
    Twickenham (& Richmond Park,Windsor)
    I think the Tories would have won if the government had collapsed in early 1977. I think a lot of Tories were quite fearful that they had missed their chance as the Labour government recovered it’s standing in late 1977 and 1978 (apart from a brief Tory boost around Feb 1978). The IMF medicine appeared to be working for a while, and the air of crisis began to subside.

    March 26th, 2008 at 11:35 pm
    Joe James Broughton
    Twickenham (& Richmond Park,Windsor)
    I think an October 1978 election probably would have produced about 42% Labour (37.8 in May 1979) and also 42% Conservative (44.9% in May 1979) with the Liberals falling back a bit more – 12.8% (14.1 in 1979).

    Jim Callaghan was probably pretty accurate in his assessment of about 305 seats each for an Oct 78 election. (Either party could have scraped it though – they’d have needed to reach 318+).

    I sometimes think, perhaps the idea that Labour would have won in 1978 is a comfort blanket for those who’d like to believe the 1979 loss was only because of the Winter. In fact, I think the winter confirmed a deeper malaise that the electorate was already aware of.

    But to be fair, a lot of Tories believed they would lose if the election was called at the end of the recess, and the chances of a majority were slim.

    March 31st, 2008 at 11:58 am

  35. BenM

    I don’t see any reason why the Tories should expect much of a bounce from their conference. They have been deafeningly quiet throughout this financial crisis

    Well – lets be fair here. If they had gone out with trumpets blaring, one of four things would happen.

    1) Brown would steal any good ideas
    2) They would be accused of playing for cheap political points and not putting the country first
    3) Any potential flaws in their plan would be pounced on by Brown and Co – whether there are flaws or not.
    4) It would all be blamed on conservative policies, as a poster further above stated.

    Actualy…thinking about it….they’d all happen.

  36. Poll alert acc to LDV tomorrow’s YouGOV:
    LD: 20% (+4)
    Con: 44% (-2)
    Lab: 24% (-3)

    GBs bounce gone in a flash!

  37. Scampi – nope, that’s an old one from before the Labour conference.

  38. Hurrah! A single point Tory lead at last! I know it’s a conference boost etc. etc before anyone reminds me, but at least it shows that not everyone has entirely given up on Labour

    I think this means that there will be some proper scrutiny on the Tory party conference and that can only be a good thing for democracy. If the Conservatives come up with a coherent set of policies and the public agree with them then they deserve to win the election and although I’ll be disappointed I accept that that is part of democracy.

    What would really scare me is if they are allowed to get into power based purely on a good marketing scheme and an unpopular PM. I’d like to see some proper Conservative proposals coming out over the next week (which in fairness did happen this time last year) – it’s going to be an interesting week! :)

  39. “it’s going to be an interesting week!”

    It’s going to be the decisive week.

    Cameron has suddenly drooped in the polls after topping 50%, if he can’t regain that rating with his conference bounce then the perception will be that the tide has turned and the momentum is now against him.

    The succession of conference bounces is an interesting phenomenon which has long been acknowledged internally in the formation of protocol over which party (of the main three) goes in which order: political attention is undivided and the important issues can be scrutinised better.

    Anthony, I hope you’ll reserve some analysis is for comparison between the different bounces each party experienced, because it is interesting that the commentariat is now picking up and dissecting in more detail the relative effects of the season.

    At this stage it seems that Clegg and the LDs have benefitted more than Brown and Labour, so we’ll have to wait and see a little bit longer whether Cameron can reimpose himself successfully on the public consciousness and, more importantly, whether or not he can regain his former position of poll dominance – having dropped 10pts so far a rebound of less than this must be considered a failure for the Conservatives.

  40. “it’s going to be an interesting week!”

    It’s going to be the decisive week. ”

    Oh no it’s not–we are all nerds: in the main world no-one cares. In a week’s time it’s all forgotten for normal voters.

  41. That depends on what happens next. If Gordon decides it’s a good idea to announce some big policy during Cameron’s speech or he pretends there’s going to be an election when there isn’t going to be one or he decides that an excellent way of distinguishing himself from the other parties is to copy everything that Osbourne says in his speech, then it could be pretty decisive.

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