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. Interesting, but as you say whether there is any major impact will only be able to be assessed a couple of weeks after the Tory conference.

    However given the apparent potential that Labour’s conference would actually make people less likely to vote for them which there clearly was in the run up to the conference season then it is still a very welcome boost.

  2. Lbaour should enjoy being in the 30’s. They will be back in the 20’s again next week.

    Do you think these conference polls have any worth Anthony? All they tell us is that with wall to wall, one sided coverage a party gets a boost, which drops or disappears the next week as the show moves on. It really seems like a bit of a waste of money to me?

  3. GIN – well, they give us some short term idea of whether conferences went down well or not. As to whether they are a waste of money – depends if they sell papers or not!

  4. You’d have to be pretty sad to buy a newspaper for opinion poll results wouldn’t you? Oh wait a minute, us political anoraks are quite sad…. :D

  5. It’s all been said above and shows the power of media airtime – the Liberals are back down after a week / the Socialists are up (mostly i would imagine from previous Labour supporters) – and the Tories are down – but still in the 40’s / in 1 week everything will be back to exactly where it was 3 weeks ago – ho hum !!

  6. What I think these polls may give an indication of is the floating vote.

    We can expect a bounce for most parties at Conference time, but if it’s say 10%, ( On current polls 2% for the Libdems, 3% for Labour and 4% for the Tories) then it may show that most people have made up there minds.

    Last week the LibDems were up 20% (16% to 20%) and this week Labour are about 30%, that may well suggest that there really are a lot of people out there prepared to change there votes.

    Oh and Anthony there is also a MacConference in mid October in Perth. With it finishing on the 19thth that will be only a fortnight before Glenrothes so a good time for a boost if we get one.


  7. Yes I agree that this is probably no more that a “post-conference boost”, we will see for certain (ha ha) after the Tory event.

    Although I am and always have been interested in politics, and have some “core values” etc, certain things can swing my opinion from one party to another, so I certainly wouldn’t ever vote for someone who can’t differentiate between “there” and “their”, just a friendly Scot-to-Scot hint!

  8. Perhaps Peter, but even IDS got a polling boost after he turned up the volume, so it really does make you wonder how much we can take from these polls….

  9. labour up seven!!!!!

    come on in two or three weeks the conservatives will be back in a twenty point lead or so in the polls bye bye gordon this happend before during foot and they failed to win the following election

  10. mm yes Labour are 10 points behind, what was Major on in the build -up to 1992? plus points of course!

  11. I think this poll reminds us how many floating voters there are and that a massive win for the Conservatives is not inevitable.

    My guess is that come October Labour will actually poll on average around 25% and in April 2009 24%. But I still wouldn’t even like to guess what will happen a year later afterwards, the economic and political situation is too unpredicatable to make such a long term serious-minded guess.

  12. Labour has form on overselling its successes, so any gains will soon be tempered by scepticism. I already hear Brown’s speech being marked down from ‘did enough to secure his position’ to ‘didn’t say anything substantial’ as the details of announcements contained within it are picked apart into meaninglessness.

    So unless the Conservatives do spectacularly badly in Birmingham I suspect Brown is now even less likely to survive to the election. Paradoxically this may mean Conservative electoral fortunes may be helped by a bad week – but would they consider engineering a muted conference?

  13. Weighted Moving Average 44:27:17. Brown has this fatal habit of doing things that look good at the time to the tabloids and unravel later. But the resignation of Ruth Kelly and the deconstruction of some of Brown’s more blatant lies in the speech would not have had time to impact this poll.

    All in all, I suspect it’s a “dead cat bounce”

  14. The BBC seems to be reporting this poll, it’s on Ceefax at any rate, I can’t find it on the website and domestic politics seem to have disappeared from the main news. I thought the BBC had a policy of not reporting opinion polls. Or does this policy go out of the window when they’re (relatively) favourable to the labour party?

  15. Nbeale – please refrain from referring to “blatant lies” – that’s a matter off (pretty partisan) opinion, rather than polling stuff (which I personally think you do rather well).

    GIN – the conference polls were important last year – they possibly made Brown think twice about calling an election (which had a disastrous knock-on effect on his ratings)

  16. Was the Kelly resignation supposed to make Brown look Ruthless? ba-boom!

    If reports are correct that she has voluntarily stepped down, this just makes Brown look weaker still (hardly possible, I know) – is she a plotter? is she really concentrating on her own constituency to ensure her reelection? How can we trust this government when there are all these questions flying around? When will they get a grip?

    Surely this is another missed opportunity for Brown which only further undermines his credibility and add to his poll problems.

  17. Ruth Kelly was one of four ministers who dodged the Independent’s “is Gordon Brown the best person to lead Labour into the next general election” poser.

    For interest the others were Hazel Blears, John Hutton (who’s pretty sure he’s lost his job judging by last night’s interview)and Jackie Smith (who fancies Gordon’s job but needs to hold her seat).

    On the poll – it seems to correspond with the recent ComRes poll putting the Conservatives on 39% but with a much better Labour score relative to the Lib dems. Unless DC really messes it up over the next week wuld expect the polls to settle a little bit but with Labour a little higher (28/29) and the Conservatives a little lower (42/43) than in the Summer polling.

    If this is the case Gordon’s OK until Labour get thrashed at next year’s local and European elections.

  18. He who pays the piper calls the tune. I am sure that YouGov would rather have waited two weeks before conducting another poll but the Sun newspaper is not noted for either its rationality or logic and YouGov were’nt going to pass up a pay day.

    Philip J W says we cannot predict where the economy will be come April 2010. If you mean Philip that we might be in the middle of a recession or towards the tail end of one then you are right but if you think that it is at all likely that a discernable recovery will by then have fed through to the consumer then you are deluding yourself. Without a economic recovery there is no prospect of a political recovery. We have long since passed the tipping point for this government whoever is leader.
    The longer Labour hang on the better it is for the Tories since it only means that the recovery will be in place well before a 2014/15 election.

  19. That’s quite a big Labour boost.
    I’m glad the Lib Dems have gone backwards again.

    But in the Tories, we get the last conference!

    Perhaps we have to wait and see, how it all pans out in a few weeks, but my objective opinion is things have got a bit better for the government [because the sheer scale of the turmoil has caused a few people to defer to the people in charge, whereas until now it’s been easy to have a pop], and anyone who indulges in a leadership contest will look pretty silly.

    But I still expect, and hope, that the Tory lead re-establishes around 15 points.

  20. I agree with Nick Keene, and I go further.

    A recovery wouldn’t even help Brown anyway, as 1993-1997 demonstrated when the Major gov’t saw over the start of the growth, yet their poll ratings did not budge.

    The recovery will happen around 2010, and Labour is beginning to see the hard left rear their unpleasant heads about the economy. We’ll see if the Tories can avoid the temptations of state control and protectionism and help the UK to recover.

  21. ‘Interesting, but as you say whether there is any major impact will only be able to be assessed a couple of weeks after the Tory conference.

    However given the apparent potential that Labour’s conference would actually make people less likely to vote for them which there clearly was in the run up to the conference season then it is still a very welcome boost.’

    I agree with the last point – personally I always find Party conferences make me less likely to vote for that party in question, so this is good news for Labour, despite the best efforts of the Left to ruin it for them

    It will interesting to see what happens at the Tory conference, which, with their new found confidence, I think will be very different from the last two in which they strived to present them as moderates in touch with modern Britain

    If it is one of those conferences like 93 or 99, where the Right completely dominate proceedings (which it could well be), I can’t see the public responding too positively, and Labour might really be back in with at least a fighting chance

  22. Last year’s knee-jerk polls (taken the day after the speeches by Brown then Cameron showed a boost (from other polls) for Brown of between 2 and 5 points, followed by a boost back to Cameron after his speech of 3 points

    Con Lab LD Con
    33 44 13 -11
    36 40 13 -4

    I don’t see any reason to think this isn’t being repeated. For any change of momentum, it will require more than just these speeches.

  23. Those figures are from the Channel 4 polls.

  24. “We’ll see if the Tories can avoid the temptations of state control and protectionism and help the UK to recover”

    In essence, this is the defining difference.

    Will state intervention ameliorate the situation and shorten the period of recession, or make it worse and prolong it?

    The USA doesn’t seem to have much choice.

  25. “Nbeale – please refrain from referring to “blatant lies” – that’s a matter off (pretty partisan) opinion,”

    But so often with Gordon it is not john-it is a matter of fact.

    It is facts that caused The FT, The Forum on Private Business, & Adam Bolton ,amongst others to challenge assertions in the speech.

    It is facts available at a click on Google which demonstrate that his claims of “ownership” for elements of UK suffrage are innacurate.

    These things do matter, and they can be distinguished from the half truths and spin which all politicians-not least Gordon Brown-place on interpretations of their own and their opponents achievements and policies.

    And lets not forget that the wife of Gordon Brown’s predecessor expressed a view on Gordon’s little weakness in terms as stark as Nbeale!

    If Labour’s Poll improvement declines it will be in part because-as so often with this man in the past-the cold light of day reveals much to “pick apart into meaninglessness” to quote thomas.

    This will happen regardless of any Tory effect.

    What the latter turns out to be remains to be seen-but Cameron & his team have a huge opportunity now to convince the public that they are not what Brown, Harman & Blears so increasingly & deperately try to portray them as.

    It is an oppotunity they cannot afford to shirk.

  26. He isn’t a liar Colin.

    Nor did Mrs Blair say so.
    A spin-artist/con-man, (as is Cameron et al) but not a liar.

    Nor is he a former drug-abuser.

    Now, we can either join an unpleasant ranting blinkered ranting match, or cool it and discuss rationally.

    I prefer the latter, but I suspect you chew the same hay as The Oracle.

  27. “The USA doesn’t seem to have much choice.”

    No it certainly looks that way-and watching the Congressmen grill Paulson & Bernanke on US tv channels is riveting.

    They are clearly caught between the rock of what these two are telling them, and the hard place of their constituents outrage at the bankers of Wall Street being bailed out whilst thousands get their houses repossesed.

    This is incredible stuff-but it isn’t just for the USA.

    If TARP doesn’t go through-or does go through but doesn’t function in unblocking credit, this will knock on worldwide.

    I believe the factors shaping the nature of our downturn,-or perhaps the severity of our recession-are to be found as much in Washington as anywhere right now.

  28. “Now, we can …. discuss rationally”

    That is what I tried to do by siting the instances I have read , and which convince me.
    It is facts rather than opinions which we should concentrate on -as I have tried to distinguish in my post.

    “I suspect you chew the same hay as The Oracle.”

    Oh boy!!

  29. If John Hutton and Ruth Kelly are no longer in the Cabinet, then it leaves just Jacqui Smith who look set to be defeated.

  30. Actually this poll, which shows Labour support can rise (if not enough) appears to back what I have long suspected – that the Lib Dems are likely to face quite a severe squeeze at the next General Election between those who want a new government, and those who want to prevent it.

    However, there remains quite a large group of floaters, I think, and the Tories still need to do a bit more to keep them for the election.

  31. Anthony King maked some interesting points yesterday from YouGov’s Daily Telegraph Poll of last week.

    Of 19 “problems facing the country”-Tories were ahead in 18 as “best to handle”

    But “None of them” or “Don’t know” only fell below a third in 1 of the 19, and was 40% or more in 9 of them.

    So the point in Joe James’ last paragraph is well made.

    I cannot believe that Hutton will be sacked. He is one of GB’s best Ministers & has done a great job on energy from a terrible hand of cards.He also did much of the work on Welfare reform for which Purnell is now being praised.

  32. I didn’t hear this about John Hutton – I find it hard to believe he will be dropped, and is probably someone from the right of the party who needs to be kept on side.
    I did hear something extraordinary about Anne Moffat being in the cabinet, but can’t believe that’s true.

  33. ‘I cannot believe that Hutton will be sacked.’

    Neither can I – and if it were to happen Labour might as well throw in towel altogether

    Hutton is one of the only figures in the cabinet who have performed their job well over the last year or so, and doesn’t deserve to see his repuation decline as the rest of the government collectively destructs

    Whilst not a leader in any sense, he seems to be a much more sensible figurehead for the right of the Labour Party, than the horrendously overrated Charles Clarke and the exceptionally quiet Alan Millburn

    Brown needs him in the government, not out

  34. On the usa election, Obama seems to have had a boost from the Wall Street quake – largely (I think) because he has a more measured attitude than McCain (who has gone a bit OTT with his reaction)

    I don’t think anger or outrage helps anyone here – what happens next is so difficult to call, and depends as much on reviving confidence as on the material effects of the different “options” of lending or swapping.

    It’s easy to get angry but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not easy. (to quote a very old man)

  35. I believe Osborne meant it when he said that making money out of other people’s misery is a function of capitalism.

    I’ve heard it in other ways from eminent capitalists, for instance that capitalism’s success depends on the regular failure of some of its participants.

    The way Brown spun it was to imply that Osborne approved and encouraged the concept of misery for profit, whereas he specifically said “no-one takes pleasure from the fact”.

    Brown didn’t “lie” there, he twisted the remark. Reprehensible a trait common to all politicians and many journalists.

  36. I would think Cameron ought to be advised to do another speech without notes or lecturn, given he is capable of it. That looks superb on telly and was one of the reasons (the other bein the inheritance tax pledge) why the Conservatives were able to head off the election that would have spelt doom for them last year. Polly Toynbee acknowledged, I think correctly, in her recent column, that Cameron’s conference speech last year was one of the most significant ever delivered- even though critics gave it only a cautious welcome it was of immense tactcial significance.

    Was Brown’s speech like that? No, I don’t think so. I think it was something new, and did show he should never be underestimated. I thought it was very good, but I doubt it will herald a seismic change, although a swing of this magnitude is huge- the problem is that even with a massive boost Labour is still 10 points behind.

    I think these figures are pretty close to what I expect the outcome of the next election to actually be. I can’t see the Tories polling above low forties, and I can’t really see Labour polling less than 30%, and 16% or perhaps a touch higher feels right for ther Lib Dems at the moment.

  37. I still find it interesting that the ‘conference bounce exists’; anyone got historic figures showing the regular size of the swing (yes, I recognise that the swing will vary over years)? Thus what would we be the average size of the Conservative swing over, say, the last decade? Does the bounce last longer if you are the last conference?

  38. It’s probably a bit of an urban myth beyond a few weeks, but there are some cases where it seems to have had an effect.

    In 1986, a successful Tory Conference seemed to be the turning point after quite a bad mid term trough (Westland and aftermath – although split between Labour and the Alliance).

    In 2007 both parties had good conferences, but perhaps the Tories benefited from being last.

  39. I suspect it is a bounce, but short term. And perhaps a bit longer if you are last. Was the Tory 1986 one last? (Just wondering if there are fair generalities which can be made here)…

  40. I support the Tories but have been braced for some slight improvement in the government’s standing as the economic downturn takes hold. It’s easy to take pot shots at the people in charge when the bad news is speculative.

    Well the 1986 one lasted and took hold for the 1987 election (mainly the economy), but if the Conference had been a miserable affair the chances of a sustained poll lead might have been a lot less good.

  41. The financial turmoil and the political malaise are definitely the two big factors influencing the polls at the moment, but I’m not sure that either alone is capable of providing any reliable insights into why the polls are moving as they are, nor am I sure what insights can be provided when they are combined except to say that we should expect the unexpected.

    The problem with financial problems is that it polarises between the haves and have-nots, some becoming more cautious while others become more radical.

    Depending on how the conferences are recieved relative to each other the cautious and the radical could split any party base or unify around any party.

    Everything depends on whether personality or policy is deemed more important in the country at large and which party is considered stronger in that area.

    And it is in this that the Conservatives have everything to lose, especially going last. Cameron&Co can’t try to beat the experience of Brown, while they are unwilling to have such an openly contested debate on the issues as the LDs had.

    So how do the Conservatives show they are stronger in either personality or policy than their two competitors? In both respects they lose by comparison – all that is left is for the leadership to undertake a damage limitation exercise, and at a time when they should be feeling more confident than ever (having topped 50% for the first time under this leader before the season began).

    The way I see it Birmingham can only go wrong for Cameron. He has a fine balance to find between rousing the troops and treating the outside world with due seriousness. Overpitch to either audience and he will suffer in the polls, say nothing and the audience will start to look elsewhere.

  42. ” The way I see it Birmingham can only go wrong for Cameron”

    Really thomas?. As Mike Smithson says on political Brown has given Cameron so much ammunition he can hardly miss. In each of his two conference speeches to date Cameron has-whether you like him or not- shown a masterful touch and having kept a low profile recently as inevitably happens to any opposition leader during the summer recess he is going to come across as fresh and uncontaminated goods.
    Rousing the troops last year did the Tories no harm so I can’t see why it would fail this time.

  43. Nick (and thomas)
    Strangely, I find myself agreeing with both of you.
    Cameron has nothing to gain in his speech, apart from a repeat of last year, and everything to lose if his touch deserts him. Given his classical education, that is most unlikely. He exudes charm and class, whereas Brown seems to have improved his performance by reading (not very good) books on presentation skills .

    I hope he has a coach, but I pity whoever that is in that despite his (in my opinion) inherent desire to do some good, Brown is not in the same league as Cameron when it comes to oratory, and lacks the degree of humility that enables good people to learn easily.

  44. I concur with the views in the last two posts by john & Nick-but also think that Cameron is vulnerable in one area specifically-the economy, and particularly the current crisis.

    The Economist today criticises the Tory team’s lack of economic experience, and also Brown’s assessment of his own record.

    But Brown has done his speech, He said Labour is “pro-enterprise, pro-business and pro-competition” but that the “new times” need a “new settlement” in favour of the consumer-ie more regulation of banks.
    He said “there would be no regulation at all to protect homeowners.” under Cameron.

    So he neatly bestrides the pro-business / pro-consumer divide just at the time when, in USA , citizens are outraged that their taxes are bailing out banks who clobbered poor housebuyers.At the same time he prepares the ground for accusations of ravening freemarketeers who steal the widow’s mite ,if Cameron says the “wrong thing”.

    In USA the credit crisis appears to have swung the polls towards Obama.What McCain & Obama say & do about it over the next few weeks will be critical to their fortunes.

    I think the same may be true for Cameron-Brown as the incumbent is where he is for good or ill, but Cameron has it all to play for.

  45. expect Brown to do his cabinet resuffle on the day Cameron gives his speech.

  46. I believe that the electorate doesn’t support the tories due to anything that they have done, but to Labours unpopularity and therefore these big tory leads are fragile. Whether this bounce will last we will have to wait and see

  47. Anthony. any idea when we’ll be seeing this months Guardian/ICM poll?

  48. Paul
    I suggest you read the article by Anthony King mentioned by another contributor.

  49. I’m suprised people feel that the current financial crisis has helped boost Obama in the States. A quick check on a US polling site shows him only back to where he was prior to McCains ‘conference’ bounce (introduction of Palin etc)


    In fact, given the astonishing unpopularity of Bush and the Republicans in general, I’m amazed it’s so close at all! This should have been a walkover for the Democrats but they cant seem to even break a five point gap. I don’t want to sound too ‘ORACLE’-like but my prediction, a shock, McCain to win!

  50. …On THIS poll, after a whole week of fairly positive coverage for Brown and not a peep from the Conservatives, all it musters is 31%. Not looking good for Labour.

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