The ICM poll we’ve been waiting for these last few days has finally turned up in the Guardian. The topline figures, with changes from their last poll a week ago, are CON 45%(+3), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 18%(-1). It was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, so this is the first voting intention poll conducted after the full press coverage of the pre-budget report.

It shows an increase in Conservative support and a small drop in Labour, though as ever no single point shift is significant. While this is only a single poll, it is the first poll to show any significant trend away from Labour and back to the Tories for a while. While ICM have been showing the largest Tory leads in recent months, this is still their largest lead since August. As a note of caution though, this poll was conducted at the exactly the point when the media was full of negative coverage about the PBR and secret plans to raise VAT to 18%. Not only is this a single poll that is yet to be corroberated by other companies, we also can’t yet tell if it’s a real shift in opinion, or just reflecting bad publicity for the government at the time it was taken.

Looking at the other questions in the poll, 50% said they approved of the measures in the PBR, with 41% disapproving. Brown and Darling also have a 9 point lead on being the best team on the economy, backed by 46% compared to 37% for Cameron and Darling. The weak point for the government appears to be borrowing. 74% agreed that it was important to “keep borrowing under control so as not to store up problems later”, compared to only 22% who chose the option that “it was important to boost the economy now, even if it means more borrowing and taxes later”.

On the question of whether it is time for a change from Labour, 58% agreed, with 35% disagreeing.

55 Responses to “Conservatives gain in ICM’s post-PBR poll”

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  1. All polls when asking supplementary questions about borrowing are clearly showing that the public are not in favour of much higher Government borrowing. That’s got to be bad for the Government and good for the Tories

    A good poll or the Tories – the next few polls will reveal whether this is a trend or a blip.

  2. This poll is extremely good news, not just for the Conservatives, but the country as a whole. Brown is clearly adopting a “scorched earth” approach as George Osborne has indicated. He has nothing to loose and is prepared to do almost anything to stay in power. He does not care how much he borrows:

    – If he wins the next election, he has five more years in power and a great deal can change in that time.
    – If he looses, he leaves the Conservatives with the worst balance sheet in history.

    Brown’s performance since coming to power has been absolutely abysmal. He was initially praised for handling such events as the 2007 floods! Surely any responsible adult, let alone politician could have done just as well.

  3. The Brown mantra of “do nothing Cameron” appears to have failed.

    Only 22% agree with the Fiscal Stimulus,;5% only saying they would spend more as a result of it.

    74% agree with the Conservative approach re control of borrowing etc.

    Cameron should be pleased with that-he took some stick from Brown, but appears to have been more in tune with voters than the PM.

    I really do think that the assertion that a 2% price reduction would send shoppers on a buying spree, just looked as though this was a Government which is not in touch with ordinary people & conditions on the High Street at present.

    If Brown doesn’t get Bank credit moving I think he could see Labour losing a few points.That he may not have the power to do so ( short of nationalisation) will not help him-I think people expect a payback from the Banking rescue package.

  4. One poll is not that significant, but if it is reflected elsewhere then Cameron may be back on track.

    The Damian Green effect is also an unknown at the moment. Nasty business and given that people are naturally suspicious of the government, I suspect that this incident will harm Labour in favour of the Conservatives. There is nothing but bad news for Brown in this story and it will feed the headlines for a few weeks.

    I suspect that there will be a swing to the Conservatives anyway eventually unless Brown pulls off the economic miracle of economic miracles.

    I think Brown has had his bounce and we will see that in the coming weeks. The Green case may accelerate the swing

  5. I think it is informative to list the poll leads from the past month:

    30/10 +9
    01/11 +14
    06/11 +13
    09/11 +6
    13/11 +11
    14/11 +5
    16/11 +3
    21/11 +11
    25/11 +4
    26/11 +15 (all Con)

    This is consistent volatility beyond MOE.

    So either the pollsters weightings are no longer reliable or the poll samples are no longer reliable.

    It strikes me that the politicians are now trying to hedge their bets and are second-guessing how the public will react in order to manipulate their agendas accordingly.

    This volatility is therefore the ultimate consequence of spin and it is causing a loss of confidence in the system.

    It is the exact political equivalent of speculation in derivatives – and just look what the effect on the wider economy are!

    If the currency of polls has been debased then the only way to rebuild confidence is to place it on a broader footing by doubling or tripling the sample sizes. Better still would be to have a general election (though that is months away at the earliest).

    The alternative is growing irrelevance for the polling industry and a general cleavage between the establishment classes and the underclass.

  6. There have been a few polls which have shown similar results to Yougov’s.

    ICM do have a somewhat different approach with their polls it has been pointed out here. But they all I expect show a fairly accurate picture of public opinion.

    The inconsistancies of the polls represent the inconsistancy and uncertainty in some people’s minds.
    I imagine that even for a person with a degree in economics it has not been easy to digest and analyse all that’s been going on.

    The next few weeks I expect will give us a more consistant picture.

  7. Colin,

    If you repeat that list of 10 polls with the polsters names then we will be able to see the effect of methodology which i suspect will show us if they really are that volatile.

    Add the dates so that we can look at the key events just before polling so we can detect adverse media effects and it might be more usefull.

    But as it is without either it’s just a list that looks to be random and erratic.


  8. Thomas, You do write in such a ‘flowery’ fashion, most entertaining.

    “a general cleavage between the establishment classes and the underclass”

    That’s page 3 of The Sun isn’t it?! :-)

  9. At least we have a poll that the majority on here wont call a rogue.

    The kneejerk reaction to one poll on here is quite humerous.

    If the next poll shows a closing lead will that mean the public are all of a sudden backing the financial stimulus and think Cameron is running a do nothing party. Will it also mean that the public thinks Green is as guilty as sin…ofcourse it wont and to try and find a swathing shift in public opinion on one poll is quite rediculous.

    I find it even more humerous that the posts on here when there is a closing of the lead, the poll is either a outlier or not to be taken seriously.

    Even if you look at the leads in the post above, the leads seem to have no direction, they seem to be random, unless you cherrypick which ones that are meaningful and use them as a basis for a rise in your favoured parties support.

  10. Weighted Moving Average is 42:33:16. No real trend yet, though as I have said before wrecking the economy is hardly a sustainable basis for a poll lead. See eg Martin Wolf in the FT (normally pretty pro-Labour) ” How Britain Flirts with Disaster ” and James Blyth

  11. don’t know if anyone who posts here lives in the real world but the vat reductions on my shopping receipts are giving me the feelgood factor and i have just received a letter re my mortgage showing a big reduction. i will feel even better when the mortgage payment comes out of my account and i have a lot more money left for christmas. i am then looking forward to some extra child benefit and tax credits in january when money is always tight.

    will be interesting to see how the fiscal stimulus plays with the public when it starts feeding through to them rather than them guessing how it might affect them.

    i don’t think there will be a consistent trend in the polls until these changes have worked their way into peoples pockets.

    i’m interested that i didn’t see any replys to my previous post seeking views on whether or not the conservative suggestion to limit any fiscal stimulus in practice might have led to higher borrowing in the medium term if the recession was longer and deeper as a result. maybe most here don’t want to consider the possiblility that the conservative position might be wrong ?

  12. RLH,

    As a self-employed person the VAT-changes mean diddly-squat to me. So much for help for small-businesses…!

    As for mortgages, you are deluded. The government cannot sell it’s debt: ergo no interest-rate cuts due soon. Unless you believe in Zimbabwe’s economic model. [Hat-tip to Guido! :P ]

  13. RLH – If you haven’t noticed on here, if you do not back Team Dave you do not live in the real world.

    If you wanted a more balanced view I would go to Conservativehome, they are less Conservative that most of the posters on here.

    Beware for polls that show a reducing lead.You can play Rogue Bingo and see how many times posters can get the words Rogue,Ignore,Not Right into thier posts.Now and agian you may get a few comments about the polls amongst all the anti-government retoric,however it is worth reading for “The Oracle”. His predictions are legendary.

    All in all it is a very entertaining place if you can ride over the Cam Flam.The posts about the polls are actually worth scrolling down for, some are actually non-partizan.(tips hat to Peter Cairns)

  14. fluffy thoughts,

    i’m commenting on the general picture not on your individual circumstances

    my comment re vat changes were re the effects on shoppers

    my comment on mortgages were re the last cut not future cuts

    look forward to your comments after the next interest rate cut

  15. I could be “pernickerty”…!


    fluffy thoughts,

    i’m commenting on the general picture not on your individual circumstances

    my comment re vat changes were re the effects on shoppers

    my comment on mortgages were re the last cut not future cuts

    look forward to your comments after the next interest rate cut

    But what have your comments got to do with the polls….?

    I maybe wrong – and Anthony will correct me – but should we not focus on the poll-figures, their accuracy, and other intellectual-comments associated…?

    [PLEASE: Don’t get me started on Economics…! ‘) ]

    PS: I am not a nuber: I am a free [English] man! :)

  16. RLH – With reagrds the poll, I think the difference in metholodogy between the different pollsters is being highlighted than neber before.The difference between them is way over the margin of error.So unless they converge towards the day of the election, some will have eggs on thier faces.

    Even the polls themselves contradict themselves, 30% say they will vote Labour and 35 % say that it is not a time for a change of government.Only 22% agree that the governement should boost the economy by borrowing now and paying back later however 50% approve of the plans announced by Darling.

    The biggest crumb of comfort for the government must be that the economic team score lead has improved, which even though admitadley is a small crumb,considering that the headline shows they are 15% behind, show that the voters are at least still listening to what they say.

    Personally I think the polls show the public are very confused with the situation at the moment and are contradicting themselves not only between polls but within actual polls themselves.The percentages now seem to change not only through the different methodology, but also what is the major news of the day. The next poll could show the Conservatives 20% + ahead or Labour drawing level depending on who has asked it and what hit the headlines,and although this happens generally, I can’t remember the varience being so big between polls that are taken within days of each other.At least it makes it more interesting if nothing else.

  17. “don’t know if anyone who posts here lives in the real world ”

    RLH-you seem to be saying that the respondents in the ICM Poll do not live in the “real world”.

    You can certainly argue that they may change their minds for the next Poll.

    But you can’t say they don’t live in “the real world” as you would define it.-they came to a conclusion about the PBR & that’s it-until they get asked again.

    Maybe they’ll share your view next time-maybe they won’t. Like the rest of us , they will find out what sort of real world we face in 2009/2010 when we get there,and no amount of speculation will tell us before hand.

    The PBR is one view of the future-there are plenty of others on offer in the Press. Economists disagree about which is more likely-so do we here-that’s what politics is about.

  18. fluffy thoughts

    i’m commenting on poll trends not isolated polls.

    there appears to be a lot of people here trying to fit single polls into their preferred narrative.

    to sum up my original post in simple terms, the polls will not currently reflect the impact of the fiscal stimulus, interest rate cuts and other measures just the public’s perception of them ( which can be influenced by media narrative ). the proof will be in the post christmas pudding.

    ps if i was pernickety i would point out your typo but i would rather post, not shoot and leave.

  19. ps if i was pernickety i would point out your typo but i would rather post, not shoot and leave.

    Sorry RHLbut aye-isa-programmer from Sarf-Lundun – eddicaked by the aye-yell-eee-ah!.

    No doubt you think Ken did a good job. No doubt you are not from London…!

    …not shoot and leave….As (I am sure) Anthony would advise, don’t Panda to me…! :P

  20. RLH – astroturfing on here is inappropriate. Let the poll analysts do their job!!

  21. Well, the poll margins are obviously all over the place. But they do all show one thing: in every single poll, the Tories are ahead of Labour. The only question is by how much.

  22. James, very true, but at least for the moment there is still something to play for.A few months ago that was far from the case.

    Where is The Oracle, I think we need one of his sensible, unbiased, level headed, well thought out posts.

    Is he still out celebrating McCains victory?

  23. As I think I’ve observed before the lead varies because of the huge differences in Labour and Lib Dem scores. The Conservative position has remained fairly steady at 40-45%.

    There may also – I haven’t looked closely – be big differences in the polling for other parties. And finally there is a big variation (bourne out by results of local by-elections) across different regions. The Conservatives won a formerly safe Labour seat in Walsall this week but lost a seat to Labour in Cumbria a couple of weeks back.

  24. how do people feel the Daamien Green arrest will play out in the next poll ( i assume this one was to soon for it to have affected the figures)

  25. This begs the question yet again as to why the most recent YouGov poll for the Telegraph wasn’t published on Thursday as usual, instead of rushing ahead with it.

  26. Isolated polls mean very little, but “On the question of whether it is time for a change from Labour, 58% agreed, with 35% disagreed” I think says a lot. The low 30s is what is in line with current Labour support in recent polls, and since the CON to LAB trend has slowed in the last couple of weeks (and even in this case reversed) it seems that 35% is the best that Labour are going to get.

    The question is, will this base support make any gains in the next year? I find that unlikely, Brown seems to thrive on his ‘bounces’ but then always manages to find a way to make them disappear again. If this 35% level of support is as important as I think it is, it looks like a hung parliament is the best that Labour can hope for now.

  27. RLH – Your first post on this subject certainly did’nt hide your political leanings – it’s no good giving us all “spin” on here about how great your shopping basket looks after 2.5% was deducted & that you have had an interest rate drop on your mortgage – I would love to know which Bank or Building Society your mortgage is with – sounds like a good one to me if they have given you anything.

    RLH – It’s time mate to wake up and smell the roses – your party will not win the next election , or the one after that or the one after that – as I have predicted previously , after the next election will be the end of the Labour Party for good in the UK. It nearly happened in the 80’s , but this time it will happen.

    I will neither say one way or the other whether this latest POLL is a rogue or not – who can say what a rogue POLL is anymore – the only thing that is certain , is that the Tories have been in the lead in the POLLS for over 14 months now – that is not going to change, just the gap between the the two main parties will widen.

  28. ‘the only thing that is certain , is that the Tories have been in the lead in the POLLS for over 14 months now – that is not going to change, just the gap between the the two main parties will widen.’ Mike ‘certainly not an oracle’ Richradson

    Your ability to see in the future remains stunning Mike; is this like your ability to predict Obama to lose even after 60+ successive poll leads? You make a point about other people’s political leanings; your continual right wing seeing into the future is equally irritating. If you can predict the future so well do so by winning the lottery then I might be interested in your fantasies…

  29. Okay JACK – would you like me to make a false prediction just to make you happy – Labour will win and win big – they deserve to, they are the best thing since sliced bread !!!

    No, I can’t do it – I nearly gagged, I can’t make a false prediction – sorry !

  30. mike oracle –

    your ability to predict future events is as reliable as your ability to predict past events – i did not vote labour at the last general election, i am a real life floating voter and will in future vote conservative if i like their manifesto, hell i even like boris !

    fluffy thoughts –

    i like your style, nice reply ( no irony intended )

    colin –

    i was referring to the posters on here rather than the respondents to your poll but i agree with the general flava of your post

  31. ps scampi

    i hate playing on astroturf, the ball seems to run away from you faster the older you get.

    no pr job here, just a punter with an interest in politics ( autocue ends )

  32. “how do people feel the Damian Green arrest will play out in the next poll ”

    Interesting Question Onthejob.

    If Press coverage reflects public opinion the latter will be overwhelmingly in support of Green.

    The big question is who will the public criticise-The Met -The Speaker-The Home Secretary-Gordon Brown-maybe Boris or Cameron even!

  33. Thanks Colin

    One other question do you think it is one of those issues that stiks as well? e.g Black Monday etc where the polls change and go one way and there is no way back whatever the policies are.

  34. I don’t know Onthejob.

    If it was to emerge that Brown was complicit in some way -I suppose it might stick-but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t.

    If the Home Secretary was found to have “authorised” the raids & arrest-I suppose that might do some damage-but again that seems unlikely.

    So it seems to boil down to this if you read the papers:-

    ” Jackbooted Police riding roughshod over the Peoples’ representatives & Freedom of Speech”….vs……” MP’s just trying to do their job in informing the Public & holding the Government to account”

    Will the public feel the same degree of outrage as MPs and journalists are currently exhibiting?

    I don’t know.

    Two things make me smile about it :-

    This quote:-

    “The Home Office has suffered a number of leaks of sensitive information over an extended period … this was clearly a matter of serious concern in that it risked undermining the effective operation of my department.”

    :-from Sir David Normington, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office.-yes the Home Office!!!

    And the pathological inability of Gordon Brown to support a Tory MP’s right to act as he himself so famously did under John Major’s premiership-as recounted in practically every paper today.

  35. Tony,

    ‘The kneejerk reaction to one poll on here is quite humerous’

    The media reaction to one poll that had the Tories only three points ahead was to suggest an early election. The spin here has never been that bad.

    This poll is in line with other ICM ones, so the issue is not is it a rogue but which pollster has the best methodology.


    ‘how do people feel the Damian Green arrest will play out in the next poll ‘

    Probably but more because it’s part of a pattern, eg terrorist Iceland.

  36. thanks for that i think

    form a personal point of view it just feels like we are reaching that tipping point where the governement has lost and the oppostion have won

    I do live in the south of england so i guess people are more motivated to vote against the government anyway.

    I guess the only thing to do is wait for the next two polls if the gap gets much bigger i think it is aurevoir to brown

  37. RLH: Go away and stop trolling. As someone who looks at a few political blogs I can always spot Trolls. They are always the ones that say they are “floating voters” but at the same time are continuously biased toward one party, and vitriolic against another. Mike Smithson has unmasked quite a few. Cut the crap please, this is meant to be a site for those interested in polls (or POLLS as Mike so wierdly says)

  38. Having read the earlier comments on volatility, I thought I would have a look at the trends by pollster through 2008.

    My observation is that ICM appears a lot less volatile than the others, however it also provides a rather different pattern to the other three (You Gov, Populus and IPSOS MORI) which are graphed.

    ICM trend shows a slow but steady improvement in the conservatgive share from under 40% to just below 45%. at yhe same time Labour declines steadily from around 33% the start of the year to 25% but then recovers steadily to just over 30 which it has held.

    In the other three cases after a period of a narowish (around 5%) Tory lead, conservative support rises sharply to over 45% before falling back (again sharply) to 40% (or less with MORI) while Labour declines to 25% and then recovers to mid 30’s in a mirror image of the conservative vote

    In all four cases the Lib Dem share falls through the period although the squeeze is a lot less pronounced with ICM.

    So you have three which are more volitile through 2008 but which are broadly consistent with each other, and one which is a lot less volitile but looks like a rather different pattern than the other three

    take your pick

  39. Ralph – “the spin on here has never been so bad”.I take it you pasover The Orac les posts.

    Mike I see Labour is going to die again. Will this prediction be as good as your last two.In case your memory fails you.

    1.McCain will win
    2.Labour will lose at Glenrothes

    Two absolute howlers in 48 hours, hope you keep up the good form.Welcome back by the way, I have missed your barnpot posts.

  40. Jack – I think Mike does a cracking job for the voting public. These type of people still lurk in the shadows of the shiney new Cameron Conservatives and are a reminder of how it was and what could be.

    He actually did win the Lottery and put the lot on a McCain/SNP double….thats why he is back here entertaining us instead of kicking his feet back in paradise.

  41. No, ONTHEJOB, we have to be really patient and wait until the poll results in August/September 2009 before there’s any reasonable certainty about what’s going to happen at the next General Election. (And by then Damian Green will be long forgotten – unless he’s banged up for stealing state secrets).

    Meanwhile, if this POLL isn’t a rogue the UK electorate are too ungrateful and must be replaced :)

  42. We should try to stick to poll analysis here and minimise political point-scoring. The fact that someone does not reply to a political point does not mean that everyone agrees with it!

    As I have tried to explain, the real MoE of individual polls is about +/-5% and that’s just a 90% confidence limit. With the real underlying position moving a bit this scatter of polls is not out of line.

    My guess is that the Damien Green affair will be terrible for the government: it has been slammed by leading MPs in every party, and it is bound to drag on with an inquiry at least by the Standards & Privileges Committee. But whether there will be any way of isolating the specifics in the polls I doubt.

  43. I’m not sure that the Green affair will hurt Labour that much, purely because most people aren’t really that bothered about these things. That would change if someone could prove Brown lied about being informed in advance. The fact that many backbenchers across the board are upset about it removes the more naked party politics from the issue.

    Back to the polls – even with the recent dip, the Tories have been pretty solid in the 40+ area, so things look good for them at present. I suspect there are regional effects, with Labour retrenching to a degree in the traditional heartlands but losing ground in the south. Mike’s view that Labour will be finished after the next election is daft and quite pointless, and just what was said about Labour in 92, Tories in 2005 etc etc.

    The subsidiary questions are interesting. People like the PBR in general, they don’t like borrowing, and in other polls they feel more optimistic. If a recovery starts earlier than expected Cameron’s position will be tested.

  44. From Jeff Holt much earlier :
    This poll is extremely good news, not just for the Conservatives, but the country as a whole.

    Is this the most pompous & partisan comment ever made here?

    Obviously this POLL – sorry poll is a disappointment for Labour supporters. But as has been noted, ICM for whatever reason do show better figures for the Conservatives than the others. Too early to get despondent at this stage.

  45. Don’t underestimate the effect of becoming despised by almost all independent commentators.

    No-one seriously believes the UK recession will be short, and Gordon obviously enjoying things is not going to do him any good as people actually lose their jobs. But if the (genuinely impressive) Obama team does pull of a faster recovery and economic gloom is less pervasive, then the only reason offered for keeping Brown (“Moses, who can lead us” according to Mandelson) goes away.

  46. nigelj

    i’ve voted several different ways over the years and, as stated earlier, did not vote labour at the last GE. i have never been involved in organised politics in any way.

    i have provided a small summary of how the fiscal stimulus is affecting me and suggested that the polls may not reflect how the changes affect everyone for some time.

    i may be wrong, are you allowed to admit to that here ?

    i have asked for opinions rather than stated my opinion as fact.

    i protest too much.

  47. The recent Ipsos mori and populus polls for Labour of 37 of 35 respectively do support You gov’s results. It has to be seen as an indicator that about 4% of the voting population have at least been thinking seriously about switching to Labour.

    But it is fairly evident that the response to the budget has been mostly luke warm to pretty negative. This would seem to make further relatively good polls for Labour less likely.

  48. Rogue!

    (sorry, couldn’t help myself) :)

  49. I gather poll in Observor showing Tories 11% ahead.

  50. 43/32/15

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