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.


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. Tempting to make a comment about how some people (one in particular) a few months back, made oracular predictions about the total demise of the Labour Party due to some bad polls, but that would be cheap. The real comment is more obvious; polls show a now. And what they are showing is massive swings fairly quickly; party loyalty is obviously breaking down. This, I suspect just makes more seats less safe. I wouldn’t be a politician…

  2. Wow. I remember discussing with someone just after Christmas about what Gordon Brown needed to turn his opinion polls around. One of the things we settled on was a crisis which allowed him to show off his skills. I didn’t think it would happen though. While I think that the polls could still go anywhere, and the Tory’s are still ahead, the big news here is that the story has changed.

    Poor old Lib Dems. What next .. I used to think they had something, but they have become invisible again. They need to start playing to their strengths and become the real environmental party. That might give them a chance.

  3. No, it’s not huge swings from one to the other. It is as Anthony says an increase in Labour supporters certainty to vote. This is coming across on the doorstep. In the summer they were angry, in the autumn they were undecided, now they are coming back. Lib Dems and others are being squeezed.

    There may also be some rubbing off of the Obama win on UK politics (progressive politics/youth interest), and some element of people turning to Labour (support for public services/intervention in markets etc) in difficult times and away from the Conservatives (reducing public spending/deregulation).

  4. Tories still at 40% or above so not all doom and gloom. Will be interesting to see how long the LibDems will put up with their figures before the leadershiop questions start again (can they afford to knife clegg this side of a GE?) .

  5. One additional factor is that for some time the LibDems got a boost, at the expense of Labour, by being the anti-Iraq war party. At least some potential Labour voters will be “returning home” from the LibDems (and other smaller parties) as the Iraq war fades out as a major issue.

  6. Yet again the Conservatives on 40% or more, Labour are not out of the woods until they can get the Conservatives below that magic 40% figure.
    A good increase in Labours share of the vote but the Conservative vote is holding strong. But with the Conservatives trying to differentiate themselves from Labour by dropping their commitment to follow Labours spending plans and disagreeing with Labour (and the Lib Dems) about the best way to deal with the World wide recession, could this lead to a drop/rise in Conservative support in the next few polls?

  7. It certainly doesn’t seem to be showing massive swings between the Tories and Labour.

    Yes the Tories are down, but looking across the last few polls it is Lib Dem voters going across to Labour, with the Tories still remaining in the forties.

    Interesting times…

  8. Sensational!

    Only two months ago Mori showed 52/24/12

  9. Two months are a long time in Politics. will also be interesting to see how the tax cuts next Monday will play out in any polls?

  10. Anthony, do you have the ‘others’ figure – I’m interested because didn’t ComRes show the combined ‘others’ score as being a point higher than the Lib Dems?

  11. For the first time I now see a possibility of a 2009 election although Brown will not go early unless it looks like he can win – why lose a year just to lose less badly than it previously looked

  12. Freddie – they sum to 11. ComRes normally show a high others score, they seem to weight them very highly.

    The full tables are, incidentally, now up – though I’m off to get on a train so can’t look at them

  13. I find this so depressing. Still an economic issue is really the only weapon in GB’s artillery and even with this ‘mother’ of all collapses, Labour aren’t in the lead yet.

    Time for steady nerves on the Tory side and wait for the voters to swing once again when they see how all the globe trotting still doesn’t stop wide-spread economic pain at home.

    If the PBR does however include to a big short term give-away and Lab bounce in to the lead, I would suggest an election in early 2009 is now really on the cards as the longer they leave it, the more chance this recovery will fade away again.

  14. Paul P (“I find this so depressing.”).
    The general election is still many months away, so there’s still plenty of time for Labour to recover from its mid-term blues and to regain a convincing lead. So, cheer up Paul P – this no longer looks impossible :)

  15. I would like to point out to Gary Gatter that there is a difference between a poll and a vote.

    Votes are binding, polls are not.

  16. The detailed tables once again show that the low LibDem figure is not sustained by the detailed data . Those who say how they voted in 2005 show 13 LibDems moving to Labour but 20 from Labour to LibDem and 11 from LibDem to Conservative with 5 in the reverse direction . .With this raw data ICM would have a LibDem figure of around 18% .

  17. Some time ago I raised the fact that the Tories had not fully ‘closed the deal’, and had essentially failed to set out a clear and coherent vision beyond some smart soundbites and a few well chosen policy nuggets. If Labour imploded, this wouldn’t matter, but the comparison with Labour 1994-97 is not good for them. In terms of strategic positioning during the crisis Brown has played a blinder and Cameron has been blown away.
    If the fiscal stimulus is seen to work that could be the election for Brown. If it doesn’t, and borrowing balloons, Cameron has a good run in to No. 10. The game is now live, and I don’t think anyone can honestly predict the result with any confidence.
    One point I am looking for is where a LD recovery would come from. I’m certain their support will increase to an extent during an election campaign, and who it comes from will be critical.

  18. Brown seems to have the TV media back on his side.

    That is a huge advantage.

    A New Labour narrative is developing along the lines of ” Tories turn their backs on helping people now”.

    Whilst this is a travesty of the truth,if it gains currency via a more Labour friendly TV News it is very damaging for Cameron.

    His brave, and some would say overdue, dumping of Labour Spending Plans post 2009 also gives the Labour Spin Machine exactly what it wanted-the chorus of “Tory Cuts” will echo out again.

    A cheque from the Government just before Christmas will, I am afraid, trump Cameron’s “higher taxes tommorrow”.

    Tough times for the Opposition .

  19. The current polls are showing that UK politics has become very interesting again.

    Cameron was the wrong choice of leader, with little substance, it is now clearly showing.

    I expect a GE in the Spring next year.

  20. Labour and particularly Brown have from nowhere managed to pick up the concerns of the voter. Or has it been from nowhere. You don’t have to ask who has returned to the Labour fold in recent months, many people may dislike them, however, the polls have only gone one way since the once enemies have called a truce for the partys common good. The once vocal critics of Brown with the party fell into line within weeks. The policy seems to be more in step with current problems and Brown himself, as even his most biased enemy, has had the best period since he became PM.

    As I have stated numerous times, voters loyalties seem very fickle. It is still the Conservatives election to lose, however as the lead diminishes, will the grumblings on Conservativehome, become louder. The Conservatives seems to have lost all media savy and thier timing is completely wrong. They announced today that they are against Browns fiscal stimulus the same day that the Institute of Directors and the CBI actually backed it. In fact the IOD has said that the fiscal stimulus should be tax cuts in the region of £20 billion, not the £15 billion which has been mooted about.

    As I stated last week god knows what the next set of polls will show, an increase in Conservative lead or, heaven forbid a drawing level. Only a fool…or an oracle…would predict they knew exactly which way the polls would go.

  21. This is hardly surprising, Brown is never out of the news these days going on about it is not his fault and almost the entire media seems to have bought this. I can’t believe they believe it but that is the story they are selling and some people are buying it. This is a great advantage and the hand of Mandy and Campbell are clear. If the public buy into this discredited lot again it is time to get out of the UK. Still there is a real personal dislike of Brown so maybe once the real economy is hit common sense wlll kick in. I bet the ‘tax cuts’ will only be for credits and of little help to the hard working middle income class that pays for everything and who have mortgages and jobs to worry about. A big influence was probably the large cut in interest rates too. I am no great fan of Cameron but any government would be better than this lot of dishonest crooks who have ruin ed our country.

  22. Hi Carol – welcome to the site, but I should point out we really don’t do the sort of partisan stuff in the last line of your post here. It’s for people of all parties, and we all rub along better if we avoid partisan language.

  23. I think one of the problems facing the Tories is that with the forthcoming announcement of tax cuts, Brown will again increase in the polls by a couple of percent more and that will get the Tory Right angry.

    At the moment the right wing of the Tory party are not convinced with the Cameron project and in my opinion they are looking for a scapegoat. That person is Osborne. If they get rid of Osborne they think that someone more akin to their way of thinking can be put in charge of financial policy but it wont work and will just expose divisions already there. The only chance the Tories have of rescuing things, to be assured of a good majority at a GE is if they match Brown’s giveaways and promise no cuts in public spending – it isn’t going to happen because Osborne is already committed to a different path.

    40% is still a very good poll for the Tories but who would have thought that this Brown government would be polling higher in the middle of a recession than they did at the last GE? Shows how fickle the electorate are.

    It’s a difficult time really for all parties but if and it’s a big if, Labour were to poll 37% in a GE, I can see the Tories getting a similar figure which would give Brown a majority similar to that which Major had in ’92. It’s looking more and more like Cameron is the Kinnock of the Tories and Brown the ex Exchequer is going to pull off the Tory Ex Exchequer, Major’s feat, in spring 2009.

    If Brown doesn’t call a GE in the spring he’s finished for sure. He will have one more chance – but will he have the bottle!? :)

  24. Carol42,

    The reason the public are “buying it” is because it’s so obviously true. The Tories are asking people to believe that the economic problems are all Brown’s fault and that it is only coincidence that every other country in the world is experiencing the same problems at the same time. I’m actually impressed that they’ve managed to convince so many people of this. It seems the “will to believe” is strong enough to overcome their critical faculties.

  25. Whoever wins the next election will have to raise taxes and interest rates pretty sharpish. Vince Cable who is the de facto leader of the LibDems has given Brown his complete backing so no surprise LibDems are going to Labour. No good news for Brown this week though..Still fair play to Brown he seems to want it more than Cameron who should get as involved in economics as he did over baby P.

  26. It is Mandy the political genius. He has turned it around. The conference boost helped but Mandy contacts in the media and ruthless political operative ability mean the tories cannot spew out BS and get away with it anymore. The tories got away with alot before Before they could spew out any old drivel and the media took it hook line and sinker, now they are up against a real political heavyweight they are struggling.
    Mandy seems to be the major influence on how well labour does, when he leaves they struggle when he joins they recover. He really is set to placed in history as the real major historical figure of new labour. Blair and brown we’re just puppets. When he backed them they did well. :

  27. Carol42 “The Tories are asking people to believe that the economic problems are all Brown’s fault and that it is only coincidence that every other country in the world is experiencing the same problems at the same time”

    From the raw data available it would appear that our problems are and will be somewhat more severe than most other western countries. Our ‘external debt’ by total owed or, more frighteningly, per capita is so out of line with the norm that no further explanation is required for the exodus of capital and subsequent sterling devaluation we have seen of late.

    I suspect that in a year our very grave situation here will be too great even for Labours spin doctors and their friends at the BBC to hide any longer as the unemployment queues lengthen and credit remains unattainable.

    I reckon Browns best bet (if he really wants to be in charge when the truth outs!) is to go to the electorate in the spring, when a hung parliament and coalition with the liberals would be a distinct possibility.

  28. Cameron’s statement today puts the Tories back into a Thatcherite monatorist position, one which I doubt will play well with public sector workers. Clear blue water has been reestablished interesting to see how this effects the polls and also what Clegg will do. He has been moving the lib dems to the right of the tories fiscally now he is being stampeded by the tories rushing past/over him. Recently he has been backing Labour economic policy. Hardly surprising that the lib dems are being squeezed

  29. I wonder whether income tax will be cut by 6p on the standard rate (announced Monday 24th), with borrowing increased,
    and a General Election announed next day with a 3 week campaign for 18th December.

  30. I wouln’t get too excited until a clear theme emerges across multiple polls. You may find a Tory lead of 10 or 12 points in a weeks time and we will wonder what all the fuss is about.

    My own view is that the current conditions are playing entirely to the strength of the incumbants, and proves that if a government can merely get back to the day-to-day running of things and look like they’re tackling things, the opposition can easily (and inevitably) be made to look like an impotent talking shop.

    I believe that once the economy is off the agenda, or its domination is less total, then the greater charmisma, likeability, and optimism which surrounds Cameron will easily trump the experience of Brown.

    I have always believed ‘experience’ os overrated as a vote-winner anyway. I can think of many occasions when the younger, less experienced man has beaten an older one associated with experience, but rather less the other way round.

  31. well I just had to respond – particuarly when my name is used in vain.

    My only comment would be – please Mr.Brown call an election – don’t chicken out like you did last time – then let’s see who will vote for you – just like the autumn of last year if a general election had been called – he would lose badly ! That’s the only POLL that counts !

    I am pleased to see all the Labour supporters back on here after a few POLLS – I thought they had mostly gone into hiding – I say enjoy the sun while it’s shining guys, it won’t last long- lol.

  32. if a xmas poll was to be held gordon would almost lose half of his mp’s it would be seen as him seeing worse times ahead, he caurses this mess in this country and as camoron says, he should have fixed the roof while the sun was shineing not wile it was raining!! but this months polling shows a conservative lead of only 8.7% for DC around what i predicted last month and if this continues we sould see a rise in the labour lead again but only 0.5% or less with the conservatives rising a few more pts to 43-44% by the end of december

  33. ow yes forgot this months polling show the following

    CON 42.2% DOWN 0.6% ON LAST MONTH

    LAB 33.5% UP 2.3% ON LAST MONTH

    LD 14.2% DOWN 1.3% ON LAST MONTH

    OTH 10.1% DOWN 0.4% ON LAST MONTH

    so most of the labour up turn is coming from the lib dems and the conservative are also losing around half a pt per month if repeated the conservatives would come out with a small 18 majority at the next election.

  34. Clearly there seems to be a revival of Labour support partly at the expense of the LibDems but the Weighted Moving Average is 42:34:14 and 1 month ago it was 43:31:16 – looking at the swing between one poll and another 1 month ago is not meaningful esp with Ipsos/Mori who have a historic Standard Deviation of 3.5.

    At the moment there is lots of bad news in the press and the markets but most of the job losses are announcements – it is, to say the least, “far from clear” that people will be so supportive of Brown when the widespread job losses actually occur.

  35. It’s hardly surprising that the polls continue to show (with one recent exception) a steady improvement in Labour’s fortunes. The Tories are playing into Labour’s hands and I found myself actually smiling at Cameron’s announcement yesterday. A couple of short months ago Labour looked a total rabble and the Tories a government in waiting, now the Labour government is seen to be attempting to tackle the severe problems the country faces and the Tories seem not to know which way to turn. One moment the Tories are the low-tax party, now they say a tax cut is irresponsible. Voters who receive a real tax cut – which of course as I write this hasn’t been announced yet, but seems extremely likely – will find the description of it as a “Labour tax con” rather puzzling.

    Some of your correspondents continue to hope that the Tory lead will be re-established in its full glory soon. They could be right. But there’s absolutely no guarantee that it will. If Brown’s policies succeed in moderating the recession he will get the credit for that,and the Tories will seem churlish and partisan. I said to my wife when I heard Cameron’s annoucement that by Christmas it was more than possible that Labour could be in the lead, and this poll brings that possibility a bit nearer. But it is only one poll as NBeale & others imply. Nevertheless the Tories to me don’t seem to be employing the strategy at the moment to stem Labour’s advance, even though their share of the vote does remain over 40%.

  36. Barnaby – It is normal to announce tax cuts when the Country is strong financially not when its haemomoraging money at the rate it is now. A budget deficit of £120-150BN looks possible now for 2009 although as Treasury forecasts are usually way too optimistic I doubt if we’ll hear numbers like that in the PBR next week.

    The Tories are in favour of tax cuts but they aren’t in favour of tax cuts from borrowed money.

    I think Cameron has been right to establish clear blue water between the parties over 2010-2011 spending plans because current spending plans are now clearly unaffordable. He should tell the truth to the country about how it is.

    I still see 2009 as being a disaster for GB and the Government and they can’t play the “Global financial problem” card forever without voters eventually seeing through it. If this poll is true I see it as a high point for Labour before falling back in 2009.

    Tory waverers should not be having go at Cameron. DC is generally well liked by voters and personally adds extra votes to the Tory total.

    I still feel the severity of the UK recession in 2009 will do the Tory’s work for them without them having to do too much and as long as they remain united they will win the next GE whenever it is.

  37. the tory small and ‘ affordable ‘ fiscal stimulus = longer and deeper recession + less tax receipts and more unemployment costs + more borrowing medium term to compensate

    the labour large fiscal stimulus = shorter and shallower recession + more tax receipts and less unemployment costs + less borrowing medium term to compensate


  38. “It is normal to announce tax cuts when the Country is strong financially not when its haemomoraging money at the rate it is now.”

    Actually KTL, its not. Traditional economic theory is precisely the reverse, but this was forgotten in the 1980’s when monetarism ruled the roost and interest rates become the favoured sole mechanism of control. This is why the right leaning governments of Reagan, Thatcher, Bush Snr and Bush jnr left massive national debt levels to their successors, and more left leaning governments – Clinton & Blair/Brown [up to now] worked to clear the debt, while at the same time trying to rescue public services starved of spending. This is the fundamental misunderstanding of economic history of the last 30 years.

    To be honest, what happens next in the polls is largely down to luck. No one really knows how effectve the fiscal stimulus will be. Tentatively I feel Brown may be on a winner. Unlike when the Japanese tried something similar and failed, this coincides with international action which will clearly help. The large devaluation of the pound is a godsend for exporters, while higher import costs will have little effect on inflation due to other factors such as sharply falling oil and food costs. We’re already seeing record UK food exports, and I would anticipate stronger than expected bookings for the UK tourist industry. If the global fiscal stimulus takes off I would expect to see an increased UK share of export trade and a more competitive home market for UK producers.
    The old saying is that there’s no such thing as a good chancellor – only a lucky one. If Camron keeps predicting a disaster that then doesn’t happen he’s finished – opposition in difficult times is extremely tricky. Labour’s good timing might be coming back to them.

  39. We are told so much of politics is about momentum. Clearly for 12 months it was with the Tories and no matter what Brown did he couldn’t halt the Tories. It clearly took an event of huge magnitude to give Brown the opportunity that no amount of relaunches could do. Cameron now faces the same difficult problem. His team have shown to be wanting in the economic policy area, regarded as lightweight and inconsequential. I don’t think there will be a bigger story than this before the GE and with the momentum now with Brown it is all down to HIS handling of the economy and avoiding slip ups. I would almost say it is his to lose if he maintains this progress into next year and Labour edge ahead.

  40. Thanks for the info on margin of error. I fear I may have been one of those people you pre-emptively corrected, but now I know better!

  41. I think there is a paradigm shift in the minds of voters. They don’t swallow the neo-liberal economic solutions propose by the Conservatives and their press acolytes any longer.

    This is financial crisis is a crisis of the Reagan-Thatcherite economic settlement. It has been found wanting and voters want wholesale policy change.

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

    I think the charge that Brown is to blame has potency, but the narrative needs to be backed up by policies which do not slash at public services just when millions may have to rely on them. That is not joined up thinking.

  42. Well, the Labour Party has had power since 1997, and had plenty of opportunity to change things how they wanted.
    So I’m not sure I agree with Ben’s analysis.

  43. The tories do not appear to have a clue what to do and there announcement yesterday was a return to thatherism and more and more people are seeing through the smiley image. Yes they are still over 40% but the trend is currently downwards.

    Cameron started to ditch the nasty party image by visiting icebergs – vote blue go green – but has now ditched his policies on the environment. The other policy was to be in favour of public spending, that was ditched yesterday, now not only is he promising cuts in public spending plans he is not giving people tax cuts as a result – all pain no gain. All he can promise is jam tomorrow when people want and need jam today.

    He is floundering and I won’t be surprised to see a few slightly sub 40% polls if the narrative doesn’t change.

  44. “slash at public services”

    Been waiting for the first siting of this little beauty-we shall see more of it soon.

    Just for the record Cameron has said he can no longer commit to Labour’s PRESENT spending plans from 2010 on.

    These Plans will be re written in Darling’s PBR soon anyway-.
    No one can yet foresee what economic conditions will be at that time.

    Cameron has said that the RATE OF GROWTH in the post 2010 spending plans would be less than Labour CURRENTLY plan.

    This statement has nothing to do with “slashing” or even “cutting”-though the blase individuals for whom all government spending, is sacrosanct have a bit of a shock in store-whoever is in government.

  45. “All he can promise is jam tomorrow when people want and need jam today.”

    Nope-he has promised jam today-despite what you & Brown have said.-just check the facts.

    But he hasn’t promised that it does not have to be paid for.

  46. Can we please try to avoid getting into a tiresome party partisan argument about whose policy is best. It is all a bit pantomime.

  47. Anthony – I asked a while back on another strand whether there has been any polling evidence to suggest if the state of the real economy follows voters perceptions of their own economic prospects as asked by pollsters. In other words, do ‘real’ voters predict the economic out turn with any degree of accuracy?

  48. Anthony-my posts were made in full recognition of your edict on partisan posts.

    I merely corrected factual innacurracys in the postings of BENM & Paul Smith -both of which you allowed.

    I made no claims as to whose policy is best.

  49. Anthony – Oh no it isn’t :)
    I’m confused about the LibDem figures – does a low LibDem poll reflect polarisation? So as “clear blue water” develops, the LibDem share goes down?

  50. Colin – the person who happens to have put the last post up before I happen to check by isn’t necessarily the culprit! The problem with partisan posts is often that people feel dutybound to rebut them, and from there off it spirals. If someone posts something you think is silly partisan point scoring, ignore it – you’re not going to convince them anyway.

    Alec – I don’t know. Most economic trackers are pretty rough, better or worse sort of things that I expect people get right. The best thing to look at would probably be regular trackers of expectations for inflation, which are a bit more detailed.

    John TT – I wouldn’t have thought it did. If the main parties went off in rival directions it would leave more space in the centre for the Lib Dems (and in terms of support, albeit not seats, the polarisation of Foot v Thatcher saw the highest level of third party support).

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