There is a new YouGov poll in tomorrow’s Telegraph, which shows a respectable boost for the Conservatives following their conference. Topline voting intentions, with changes from the poll taken after the Labour conference, of CON 45%(+4), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 15%(-1). It shows a reasonable boost in Conservative support, but unlike ICM’s poll no fading of Labour’s conference boost yet. The poor old Lib Dems have seen their conference boost from a fortnight ago entirely vanish. The fieldwork was condcted between the 1st and 3rd of October, though as always with YouGov’s polls, the large majority of responses would probably have been received on the first day.

The whole conference effect may not have played through yet – David Cameron’s received better coverage in the press the day after his speech than from the broadcasters on the day, so may not have peaked in these polls; equally like the Lib Dem boost any Labour or Conservative boost may fade in the coming days. From these first two early polls from ICM and YouGov though, the overall effect of the conference season and the economic crisis that co-incided with it seems to have been a small recovery for Labour. The Conservatives still have a large, election winning lead – but Labour may have pulled themselves out of the hopeless 20 plus defecits we saw in the summer.

33 Responses to “And now the Tory conference boost…”

  1. We are now entering the realms of electoral reality – as opposed to nEU-Labour hatred. As I have said many-a-time at Mike’s place, a Tory majority of 60+ is realistic.

    Interestingly Martin Baxter’s poll-predictor equates this poll with a 106 seat Tory majority (after I adjusted the Scottish poll to Tory:20, Labour:29, LibDems:13, SNP 35). That – I would suggest – would be of the most optimistic of Tory wishes…. ;)

  2. will be interesting to see the effects of the cabinet resuffle on the polls. Cant imagine that the recall of the old guard – Mandleson and Beckett – would persuade too many to go back to the New labour fold, but you never know!

  3. I think Mandelson is being brought back more as an electoral strategist as opposed to a cabinet minister. He played a huge role in the creation of New Labour and he may think that even if he can’t win a fourth term he can at least avert the absolute apocalypse that the polls had been suggesting and which would have reduced Labour to a rump concentrated in the heartlands.

  4. The latest YouGov poll is of interest despite the health warning that post conference polls should be treated with caution. Nevertheless the poll suggests four things to me

    1 Tory support remains solid at or around 45% as it has for the past six months

    2 Labour have pulled themselves up to 31% at the expense not of the Tories but of other parties. Whether this will last given that the financial crisis is beginning to quieten down is questionable. It does’nt look enough to save the loss of the Glenrothes by election.

    3 The Liberal Democrats have leaked support to Labour. Is this in any way as a result of the repositioning of that party by Nick Clegg? Has Clegg got his tactics right?

    4 The Scottish sub sample is just too small to take as a reliable barometer. At 29% Labour support is allegedly lower than that for England and Wales which I just don’t buy.

  5. I think point number 3 is very interesting since it has been proved over and over that a party with a limited appeal does not win many seats. Appearing to do something for as many people as possible is the route to power, and it seems plausible that Clegg has lost some left-leaning support to Labour, lacking somewhere else to go.

  6. Nick,

    remember it’s a four party system so if the SNP wasn’t strong or even there you would at least divide by three and multiply by four to get a Uk figure so 29% in Scotland would be 39% UK.


  7. Nice to see there was no drop in labour support, not surprised the Lib Dems have dropped again as well as other parties.

  8. I think this may well be a temporary bump. Despite the good ink in the rightwing press, there was very little substance in Mr camerons speech (in fact it was entirely vapid) and murmurings amongst voters are growing louder about this.

    I had an inkling the Tory lead would not breach much more than 14-15% after their conference. What remains to be seen in the next couple of weeks is whether Mr Brown’s reshuffle and Mandleson’s return to government is followed up with a more targetted demolition of a more vulnerable (than 2 weeks ago anyway) Conservative Party. I think there will be.

    What is for certain is that this prolonged election campaign – the run up to May 2010 starts here – is going to be the dirtiest and most interesting in a long, long time. So much can happen, both inside the Westminster village, and outside it, as the Credit Crunch continues to unfold.

  9. I think it is informative that the pro-Conservative messages have already shifted to maintaining the size of their poll lead by squeezing the third parties.

    This suggests that Cameron’s supporters think he has already reached the ceiling of his popular support and are now trying to manage expectations of a victory rather than promoting speculation on the scale of any victory.

    I wonder if Cameron can regain the initiative now that Brown has seized it with his unexpected moves in the long-awaited relaunch/reshuffle: if Cameron cannot maintain his bounce and regain his earlier polling momentum then it needs to be asked whether the current lead is sufficient to protect an advantage going into the next election. Because for all the times we’ve seen leaders slump into mid-term doldrums only to eventually start making their incumbency count and stage a devastating fightback, it is still common to be lulled into the trap of complacency. Hares and tortoises, anybody?

    I think it is fair to say that Brown’s decline was largely in default of his lack of direction, rather than in outright opposition to it, so he can’t consider himself out of the woods yet, but at least he’s given himself a chance by deciding finally to put up a fight instead of attempting to quell all dissent.

    The foreplay is over. The parties have stopped fumbling about tentatively with their new leaders and their stalls are now set. It’s about to start getting interesting.

  10. “Despite the good ink in the rightwing press, there was very little substance in Mr camerons speech (in fact it was entirely vapid) ”

    That’s irrelevant – the overwhelming majority of voters didn’t listen to Cameron’s speech (and those that did are likely to be partisans anyway), their only exposure to it was through the prism of the media. What he said isn’t here or there, it’s what the media said he said that counts.

  11. It looks like a simple battle for publicity now – all three parties enjoyed a bounce just after their conferences.

  12. Poll of 192 Labour held marginals in the News of the World tomorrow, it was this poll a year ago that was credited with changing Brown’s mind about the election. Headline voting figures are Con 43%, Lab 34%, LD 15%, this would give the Tories a 78 seat majority. Usual caveats apply!

  13. Yes – the initial gap after the conference just as i predicted – 14%. That will grow back to the 20’s within a couple of weeks.

    The new reshuffle will speed up the gap in the POLLS.

  14. NoW ICM Poll in 192 Marginals:-

    Labour lose 164 seats-Con majority 78.

    Fieldwork 1-3 October.

    Same Poll in April suggested Labour lose 131 seats.

  15. I’ve got this feeling that the gap is more to do with a longer-term disillusionment with the Labour government, and expectations of a new Conservative leader who has not yet been proved to be significantly worse than the current incumbent at running the country. These things mean that the lead will probably stay about the same or increase until 2010, unless something comes up or the incumbent government becomes a bit more popular thanks to people actually starting to think about an immiment election – I doubt that will be much. If things stay as they are, Labour will be lucky to be much above 30% come election time.

  16. I don’t see the Cabinet Reshuffle as helping Labour’s cause in the polls.

    I think the fact that Mandelson has return (again) will only be a negative for Labour in the next few polls.

  17. From the NoW Marginals Poll:-

    “Better at” question:-

    GB wins one-Dealing with credit crunch.
    DC wins eight-Being PM/Setting taxes/Rising prices/War on Terror/modernising NHS/Improving School Standards/Controlling immigration/Improving Transport system.

    GB to step down /stay-Stay (56 to 36)

    New Policies-Good or Bad:-

    Council Tax Freeze a la Tory Conference-Good (78)
    Child care from age 2 a la Labour Coference-Good (78)
    Cut Income Tax /fund from Public expenditure cuts -Good

  18. “I think the fact that Mandelson has return (again) will only be a negative for Labour in the next few polls.”

    Mmmmm-I wonder-it’s all down the Press reaction as Anthony keeps on emphasising.

    He will attack the Tories in a way the old team has failed to do-and will articulate a strong defence of Labour in a more effective way.

    But things have changed a lot since he went.The Press is more cynical about Labour, and less so about the Cons than he was used to.

    Leaving the Ivory Towers of Brussels for the Bear Pit of the UK political Press , in a time of Labour problems ,is going to be one hell of a transition for him.

    We will get a first inkling on Sunday morning when Adam Boulton interviews him-fascinating!

  19. Anthony would like to think the absence of policy in Cameron’s speech is irrelevant, but it isn’t.

    Voters are looking at the Tories again as an alternative government, and, given their first oppportunity to set out their programme as favourites to win the keys to number 10 next time, Cameron balked. Again.

    It is no longer going unnoticed.

  20. “Voters are looking at the Tories again as an alternative government, and, given their first oppportunity to set out their programme as favourites to win the keys to number 10 next time, Cameron balked. Again.”

    You say that, and yet that recent marginals poll actually gives Cameron the lead in all policy areas – many in double figures. The only place where Brown beats him is the credit crunch handling. In particular, there is a strong belief that the Conservatives are better-placed to offer tax cuts. Cameron’s speech might have been light on the specifics, but it was very strong on the intent. That is what people are responding to. Furthermore, Brown’s speech was even lighter on policy. His two pledges were to buy computers and provide nursery care. Everything else was just “help people through…”, nothing more.

  21. Weighted Moving Average 43:30:17 so there has definitely been a recovery for Labour from the 46:26:17 situation over most of the summer.

    With parliament in recess and during the holidays Brown’s alarming lack of management skills has been less problematic. But the latest reshuffle will create further turmoil, and I think things will inevitably keep going wrong.

  22. BenM,

    If the measure of a political speech is the number of minor policy announcements, then Cameron’s speech was a flop. However, that is to pre-suppose that the role of a Prime Minister is to micro-manage the country – certainly Brown’s perspective.

    What Cameron did – and did well – was to outline an alternative political philosophy. To para-phrase Bush (snr), it was about the “Vision” thing.

    In such a speech, minor policy announcements to do not add substance, they detract from it.

    Cameron also appears to have learnt from the experience last year. Where specific details were provided – eg on banking regulation – the Government has already announced implementation as if these were their own ideas.

    I suspect that most people now have a much clearer idea of the direction in which a Cameron government will go. That is what they wanted, not minutiae.

    Equally, to his credit, people now have a clearer view of Brown’s willingness to tackle the issues rather than dissipate his energy on internal factions and petty point-scoring. That probably explains the strength of Labour’s post-conference bounce as he has reassured Labour core voters.

    However, there is a clear distinction between the parties, and Brown’s “vision” offers little to attract back “middle England” in the way that Blair did. Thus we are unlikely to see Labour rise above 31-32%, while the Tories will settle in the mid 40s, then rise again as the recession bites.

  23. Paul H-J, I think whether Cameron did successfully set out an alternative ‘vision’ is a matter of opinion.

    For my part I thought his ‘vision’ was all smoke and mirrors.

    Cameron’s hour-long speech culminated in the narcissistic self-delusion that mere mention of the great and dear leader will automatically resolve all the problems facing the country. It was inoffensive guff rolled into well-meaning vacuuity which left me with greater doubts about his real intentions.

    We will see whether the general public subjects the Conservative position to serious scrutiny, but as the financial situation starts to hit home I don’t believe the general public will give the opposition as easy a ride as they have till now.

    The conventional wisdom that ‘oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them’ appears to have been turned on its head now that economic expectations are negative – ‘the opposition might not even become the government if they win the election and the government also loses it’.

    Cameron made gains a year ago over the election-that-never-was by advancing the argument that leadership by default is bad leadership, only now when his argument is being applied back to him he can’t live up to the standards he expects of others.

    I wonder, how much more time can Cameron buy while his stocks are dropping? A commitment to reviewing policy does not a manifesto make.

  24. “We will see whether the general public subjects the Conservative position to serious scrutiny,”

    We will indeed thomas-but not in the way you mean-at least not yet.

    The Cameron speech was not a list of detailed policy announcements.It was a statement of things a conservative government would change, and the way they would seek to govern-as expressed in terms of the usual areas-eg Education/NHS/Economy/Policing etc.

    For some of the areas he covered, in a broad canvas, there have already been policy announcements-like education-for some there were new policy announcements-like Council Tax-for others the details of “implementation” remain unclear.

    For Conservatives the speech was recognisable throughout as a statement of their “values”.
    It doesn’t need detailed policies to make these understandable to Conservatives…any more than GB’s espousal of “Fairness” needs detailed policies to conjure a picture of what that means to a Labour supporter.

    The key question at present is whether GB’s & DC’s speeches -in the broad brush values & principles they painted-resonate with floating voters.

    Cameron tried to take areas of public & private life & explain how he would try to change them.
    If none of this resonates with you then he has failed so far as you are concerned-or you are an unmovable Labour supporter, which comes to the same thing.

    You will get your shopping list of Tory policies when the Election is called. If that is the only way you can assess the Conservative approach ( and for many new voters post 1997 that will be the case )you will just have to wait.

  25. “Cameron’s hour-long speech culminated in the narcissistic self-delusion that mere mention of the great and dear leader will automatically resolve all the problems facing the country.”

    Cameron actually said he doesn’t have all the answers, so quite how you can come out with a sentence like this is beyond me. Brown is the one who pretty much said that his experience will magically sort the economic situation out. We must have watched different speeches, it seems.

  26. i’ve been on yougovs web site and have found not sign of this resent poll, where is it??

  27. Thomas,

    There is a difference between whether or not Cameron set out a “vision” which offers an alternative to that set out by Brown – which I believe he did – and whether or not one finds that alternative attractive, which I suppose you may not.

    If by “smoke and mirrors” you mean that there were no detailed / costed policy proposals which the new Business Secretary can get his teeth into and pull apart, then that is because, as I said in my previous post, that is not what the speech was about.

  28. Colin,
    I’m happy to state that I am an independent floating voter and have voted for all of the major parties at different times and have also decided not to vote on occasion too.

    I think you’ve hit a nail on the head in describing these party leader speeches as values-oriented and directed away from pragmatic people like me, but I also think it’s a big mistake to start giving the impression that any party can take undecided voters for granted so far out from an election as there is plenty of time for us to unify on issues and comprise an effective tactical or bloc vote when the ballot comes round.

    So I will continue to keep an eye on the ‘others’.

    exactly my point. Why does Cameron think advertising his lack of knowledge amounts to a competitive advantage?

    If there is a solid argument behind the line (which I’m open to be convinced on) then in addition it must now outweigh Cameron’s inability to communicate it clearly – accountability requires transparency, without which we cannot rebuild confidence (in our financial markets among other things).

    I’ve listened closely to Cameron because I want to give him a chance, but to my ears it sounded like he really doesn’t want my vote!

  29. “Why does Cameron think advertising his lack of knowledge amounts to a competitive advantage?”

    I don’t think that’s what he did, in all fairness. At least that’s not what I got from it. I think he was merely pointing out that experience can’t teach you everything; just like political instincts cannot prepare you for every circumstance. And the way he tied this in with the idea of the incumbent always being able to use the experience card – however useless that experience might be – I thought worked quite well. He reflected political reality with a bit of common sense, while showing there was no reason why Brown should be able to hold some mystical position as the only man to help us.

  30. David,

    Cameron addressed the experience issue quite clearly in his speech when responding to the charge from Brown that he is a novice.

    But his reasoning didn’t stack up.

    Either he is a novice and experience doesn’t matter or he is experienced and he must be judged on his record – he simply can’t advance his credentials as a reason to vote for him while also saying this doesn’t matter.

    Whichever way Cameron turns now he has put himself in a corner as everything he said added to the case for opposing him because his role in Black Tuesday beside Lamont and in writing Howard’s nasty manifesto must be placed beside Brown’s economic and social record for comparison.

    Maybe he did apply a bit of common sense to the political reality, but it wasn’t enough to amount to good sense.

    So I don’t see his speech as likely to give a lasting boost and help him continue gaining at the polls, I see it as the moment which put a stop to Conservative momentum and began their retrenchment.

  31. Looking at the Scottish figures Labour seem to have had a boost even after the Tory conference, with the Tories Snp and LibDems all down.

    There is no full figure for the SNP, with it in with the others at 29%, so I’d estimate in the region of 25-26% way behind Labours 43%, the best figure they have had in a long time.

    The Tories and the LibDems on 17% and 11% seem to have lost any conference bounce and indeed it looks as if overall GB’s performance has made him more popular in Scotland while Cameron has if anything gone backwards.


  32. “I’m happy to state that I am an independent floating voter”

    So thomas-as an independent voter-what did you think of Brown’s speech?
    Do you think it will give a “lasting boost and help him continue gaining at the polls,” ?

  33. No, Colin, I wasn’t too impressed by Brown’s speech or Labour’s drilled audience responses either.

    Apart from the noted single line it was much of a muchness and almost lacking in the stylistic flourish which Cameron attempts.

    But where Cameron matched fluency with incoherence, in his speech Brown provided the mirror-image with cast-iron rigidity and Palinesque levels of repetitiveness: everything Brown said we’ve been listening to for years, so we’re almost immune to it by now.

    I don’t think anything Brown can say will influence his poll rating and it’s far too late for him to change his manner now, so the only things which will are the things he does (such as obviously biting back at a cabinet colleague, or in the decisive nature of the reshuffle – some would say radical reshuffle).

    I’m actually divided on my judgement of Brown and whether he is playing a game of tactical brinkmanship with himself, with a form of masterful oversight knowing that he must suffer for his sins in order to enable him to win, or whether he is running fast and loose making his turns on the hoof while keeping his ear so close to the ground that it prevents effective planning.

    But whichever it proves in the end (and it’s most probably a bit of both), I think Brown has bought himself a bit of time by grasping the nettle with a demonstration of the power of office and that this will be reflected in the polls for a while. Whether he can use the office to sustain or even build on any resurgence is another matter which lies in the weeks hence.

    Furthermore, I think long-term poll watchers are very much like meteorologists in that we know everything is cyclical and changes will happen, so after 12 months of unfavorable winds it was increasingly unlikely that the combination of events would continue to conspire unceasingly against Brown. It must be considered inevitable that he would finally feel some kind of bump.

    Into this mix I think the Clegg and the Liberal Democrats play an important part because they have reestablished a profile. Where the floaters among us had previously been swaying and swinging directly from Labour to Conservative (almost in default of the third party) and seemed decided over the summer seem they now to be moving in all directions and are creating all sorts of potentially predicable volatility.

    In conditions of continued volatility the LDs will be the most significant feature for the next few months, while we may also see some more sporadic support for the nationalists and fourth parties as those on the fringes consider their options amidst the turbulence.

    So while I stand by my assertion that the Conservative conference was decisive (principally because it marked the gun for the end of the warm-ups) I think the next few months will see a battle of attrition commence.

    Thereore question now should be whether Cameron can maintain his lead into the spring or whether Brown can make any inroads with his new cabinet beneath him and contrary to the partisans here my overriding feeling is that the new stability found under Clegg will see them strengthen slightly to 20% rather than squeezed.