Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor shows the smallest Conservative lead so far since the figures began narrowing a few months ago. The topline figures, with changes from MORI’s last poll are CON 40%(-5), LAB 37%(+7), LDEM 12%(-2). The fieldwork was conducted between Friday and Sunday, so after “baby P” had become a political issue and at the same time as the fuss over whether George Osborne was right to say that the government’s policy could damage the exchange rate.

It’s a big month-on-month change, and like Mike Smithson, I wouldn’t be surprised if part of it is related to an increase in Labour’s voters’ certainly to vote, but we’ll have to wait for the detailled tables to be published before we’ll know for sure.

While there is a sharp drop in Conservative support here, it brings it more into line with the sort of figures most other pollsters are showing. Labour though are up to their highest figure for many months, above the support they received at the last election. The Lib Dems are right down to 12%, the same as ComRes’s poll. Frankly I thought that figure looked somewhat suspicious and there seemed to be fewer former Liberal Democrats in ComRes’s sample than usual – but now we’ve had a couple of polls in a row with dire figures for the third party.

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While I’m here, a pre-emptive blast at anyone tempted to describe this as a statisical dead-heat (I know you, dear readers, would never stoop so low, but there are other people out there!) since the figures are within the margin of error. A 3 point margin of error (though MORI actually quote their turnout filtered figures as having a margin of error of 4 points) does NOT mean that any score within that range is equally likely. With the Tories at 40% in this poll, it doesn’t mean they are equally likely to be at 43% as they are at 39%, for example. It is more likely to be towards the middle of the range, and their most likely actual level of support is 40%.

On a normal 3% margin of error, 95% of the time the “real” number will be within 3% of the given number. However, 80% of the time it will be within 2% of the given number and 50% of the time it will be within 1%. If a poll shows two parties at 49% and 51%, they are not in a dead heat; it is more likely than not that the party with the higher score is ahead.

Not of course, that any of that changes the fact that things are looking very, very close.

UPDATE: No tables, but Mike Smithson’s been in touch with MORI and they’ve told him that the past vote in the poll was pretty much the same as last month, which had past vote shares of CON 23%, LAB 31%, LDEM 10.5%. This rules out the possiblity that the poll just had far more former Labour voters this month than last month.

UPDATE 2: The tables are here. Surprisingly none of the increase seems to be to do with Labour supporters being more likely to vote – in October 56% of Labour voters were 10/10 likely to vote, now it’s 53%. The shift seems more to be 2005 Labour and Lib Dem voters who said they would vote Tory a month ago, now saying they’d vote Labour – not, I should add, that one should put too much weight on little shifts in the cross-breaks. For the record, the political balance of the sample is slightly different from last month – this month’s sample is made of up 21% people who say they voted Tory in 2005, 30% people who say they voted Labour and only 9% who say they voted Lib Dem.


70 Responses to “MORI show an even smaller Tory lead…”

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  1. I think the Tories may have miscalculated by talking about Labour future tax rises as if it is something being hidden. It seems to me Labour is being pretty open that tax cuts are needed now to create an economic stimulus in very difficult times. They are not suggesting as far as I can tell that they will be permanent.

  2. I do feel that if the two narratives of 1. Borrow more and 2. Spend Less come into conflict I feel the later will be the winner in the current climate.

  3. As ever good article.

    But one point you’ve missed :

    IPSOS Mori have shown a slight bias to the Conservatives in their polls. (Check it out). So a poll by these pollsters which shows a 3% Con lead may well be indicative of the very dead heat you forewarn against.

    Keep a tighter eye on slight bias by different pollsters.

  4. Polls are just snapshots of opinion, but in the case of recent polls that opinion is – as many people have already commented – only based on the media spin of Brown’s interpretation of the economy and the public reaction to it.
    However, spin will only be effective if it reflects public mood and at the present there is nothing – yet – to shake the spin about Brown’s mastery of the economy. One has only to remember how the refusal of people to believe the spin about the invasion of Iraq and Blair’s subsequent back-tracking and ‘remoulding’ of the truth to see how even the best spin is ineffectual against public perception.
    The recession is still a storm in the distance to most people, with the hope that it may be less serious than expected, but until it hits the majority of us full on, Brown will still be ‘spun’ in a good light.

    At least Cameron has finally come out and said something!
    However, his timing could have been better. When Brown is trundling along the tracks at full pelt and picking up speed, one speech of substance from Cameron is hardly likely to slow the Brown leviathan down. The Conservatives have to be making announcements of substance continually from now on to have any chance of derailing Brown. Particularly announcements from Conservative ministers of substance. Osbourne’s witterings, no matter how incisive, have been diluted by his russion billionaire indiscretion and his credibillity was never rock-solid to begin with. However, the same can be said for Miibrand and his photoshoot with the banana!
    But seriously, hoping for the bite of the recession alone to be the Conservatives main ‘weapon’ against Labour is somewhat irresponsible and even cynical.

    What people of all political hues have been asking is what policies do the Conservatives actually possess? Now that Cameron has nailed the Conservative policy colours to the mast, he can’t just disappear below decks again and batten down the hatches as before!

    The battle for the next GE has begun, but I dont think a 2009 Spring Election can be considered that likely. More poll leads of only single figures will probably make it more likely, but unless the Conservatives slip below 40% then I dont think Brown will risk it.

  5. A quick line just to say how much improved this website is now. A lot of effort and thought has obviously going into refornatting it, so a job well done and most appreciated!

  6. Like I said a week or two ago –

    Don’t be surprised if a poll has a Labour lead soon. I do not expect the Tories to re-establish a significant lead until a couple months in to the new year.

    By May they’ll be no talk of an early election as the Tories will be back to 10-15% clear.

  7. I have to say I think the descent into partisan bickering here is quite representative of the poll volatility at large in the country.

    I also want to thank Anthony for placing a WMA at the top of the page thereby making NBeale’s tedious commentary obsolete. I find the obsession with every small change in the polls tends towards hypermania and exacerbates short-termism in our politicians.

    It won’t be until after Obama is inaugurated and the Christmas trading figures are published that we will be able to see clearly which way the economic winds are blowing, so the clear water which has opened up on tax policy between the three parties is less clean than some would have it and it is therefore unlikely that any side will have been advised to raise their sails above half-mast.

    In fact I’d say the picture will remain muddied until January, and that the jostling for position will continue to increase in intensity until the starting gun is officially fired.

    So everything is currently up in the air.

    As such I think the current situation is one where the polls are actually doing more to decieve and distract than to enlighten, so a period without any party polls would probably be more helpful.

    My money is still on an Autumn election – it will be the last opportunity for Brown to wrong-foot his opponents and he will be able to use bottled election of 2007 as a dry run.

  8. The Christmas trading figures won’t be all that great.
    I suspect the Tory lead will be somewhat restored (10%+) as this recession gets under way, but there will be other difficult (political) moments for them, as the government announces tax cuts and so on, plus inflation coming down.

    It’s too early to speculate on an election date really,
    I think the most likely would still be to leave it until the end in the hope that the economy is showing some green shoots in early 2010, but of course the danger in that is people have been through 2 years of bad news whereas something earlier makes people perhaps a bit more fired up to deal with the problem and look to the government.

    They’re certainly doing better, but they’re not ahead .

  9. BENM
    “All the while the Tories propose solutions straight out of the early 1980s, they will be viewed with scepticism”

    I’m not so sure. I recognise that among the politisised left the early 80’s are viewed with horror but to many, me included, they represent a few years of good medicine required to save us from becoming a banana republic (you can’t deny the dire straights that the uk was in prior to Thatcher).

    “It’s as if they haven’t learned anything and are wedded blindly to an ideology that is exposed as benefitting a small clique of very rich individuals”

    You are misinformed, the Conservatives are not Communists, though I believe some still exist in Labours ranks ;-)

  10. The PBR will be riveting-and significant.

    Mandelson/Brown will want to shoot any Tory Fox still in view-so will their Fiscal Package be “funded”-by savings now?

    Who will be the beneficiaries of the mooted tax cuts-and who won’t-and what will the fall out be from that divide?

    Will the tax cuts just be postponments-thus the timing of tax rises-or re-instatements will actually be visible.
    Would that mitigate against recipients spending their temporary relief?

    What will Darling’s revised forward annual borrowing forecasts look like ? Brown has missed every one he made-will Darling’s have any credibility?

    What will Darlings Plans for the
    2010/2011 year look like?-will it give Cameron a chance to say “I told you so” !?

    Both DC & Clegg at PMQs asked about continuing poor credit availability to Small & Med. Businesses . Brown’s replies were full of coded messages-is he going to announce a Government source of lending direct to SMBs?-and where does that take us politically in light of the Bank Bailouts?

    etc etc.

  11. For the record it has been made clear that the likely tax cuts are not intended to be permanent. They are supposed to be a temporary measure to tide people over until the recovery starts.

    It isn’t fair to suggest that MORI polls have a pro-Labour bias. After all not long ago the same company had the Tories no less than 28% ahead, more than any other poll.

  12. with the labour supporters hanging on to thatcherism(she left office nearly 20 years ago) is magic to me.

    like saying in 1998 that dennis healy(if anybody remembered him then) was a great chancellor,grow up boys.

    ok labour lovies,at the election what is your message?

    higher taxes like the last 12 years or cut taxes(thatcherite)

    need for change(obama)

    all not good for labour.people will always pretend they want higher taxes when their house is going up in value.

    this country is in a complete shambles and you were in charge.record debt,worse than dennis healy,that great chancellor.

    bring on the election.

  13. If you look closely at the tables on the Mori site, the 40-37 split relates to the 51% of respondents who say they are certain to vote. If you add in those who say they are 90% certain to vote you get to a turn out of 58% (it was 59% in the last election) and 38-38. Which, according to Electoral Calculus, gives a Labour majority of 32 and, according to UK-Elect, leads to a Labour majority of 40.

  14. “For the record it has been made clear that the likely tax cuts are not intended to be permanent. They are supposed to be a temporary measure to tide people over until the recovery starts.”

    Yes of course-this is all about the size of the Stimulus Package & whether it is funded by borrowing which exceeds that engendered by the recession; or funded by reductions in non-productive government spending.

    The more I think about it I can see Brown shooting all Cameron’s Foxes including Reversal of the proposed VED increase and Council Tax-why not?

    Council Tax would be a beauty from Labour’s point of view-a centrally funded once off 10% discount -£100 or so-would cost £1.8bn out of a speculative package of £15 billion…and when it disappears a year later, its Tory Councils who get the flack .

  15. Has there been an Oracle bug sweeping this board. Go through his post from the last few months and you will notice his predictions of 50%+conservative vote, Labour being dead and buried, copy and paste to your hearts content is utter trollies.

    Yet this plucking Conservative leads out of the airthat is being done by now quite a few posters” in a few months time”, “the next set of polls”, “when the recession kicks in”,is identical to what was posted two months ago. Don’t believe me check it is in the archive, by November Brown was gone, Labour was supposed to be dead,etc etc.It is getting wilder as the polls get closer.

    Do some of you think your political views are actually staining your Oracle crystal ball when in the last few weeks the polls have closed whilst your future predictions seem to make it wider. I would have thought the McCain Victory Prediction Turkey would have knocked this silly partizan approach to predictions on its head and people would try and use what is actually happening in the polls as some kind of indicator not what they wish was happening.

    Here’s a prediction I will give, if in the next poll it is getting even closer the words ROGUE POLL will appear.

  16. It does sadden me to read repeatedly individuals relying on a recession to increase the chances of the tories increasing their poll leads once again. I am hoping that it will be a moderate recession, but even so let me take you back to the recession of the early 90’s

    Conservatives – The recession is a global recession, it is not our fault.
    Labour – It is the fault of the Conservative government.

    and now in 2008

    Labour – The recession is a global recession, it is not our fault.
    Conservatives – It is the fault of the Labour government.

    1992 – Conservatives win election
    2010 – who knows, but the message is don’t rely on a recession to bring a change of government, in turbulent times voters can stay with who they know.

  17. Paul, I agree.

    As well as the pain it’ll cause us all I think the impending recession allows the Labour hierarchy to paint themselves as hard working, solid figures.

    Prior to this strife, just a few months ago, they were viewed as a bunch of clowns! Lost data, dodgy crime figures, bloated bureaucracy, 10p tax…

    I won’t hide my belief that Labour ARE partly responsible for the financial mess we’re in but I must admit, both personally and from a political viewpoint, I wish we weren’t.

  18. Philip Johnston – your contribution is semi-literate, hard to fathom at times, but definitely totally partisan. It makes no reference to the polls at all.

  19. Paul Goodard, I hope the recession is shallow, and in my posts over the summer, I was prepared to wait and see.
    Unfortunately, I think this is going to be almost as bad as 1990-92 as GDP could fall by 2 per cent next year, about the same as in 1980 or 1991.

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