ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian, which we had expected yesterday, is out on their website now. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s last poll, are CON 38%(-7), LAB 33%(+3), LDEM 19%(+1). The poll was conducted between the 12th and 14th December.

As with Ipsos MORI, the other pollster that had shown a double point Conservative lead in the direct aftermath of the pre-budget report, this ICM polls shows Labour increasing, the Conservatives dropping back and the lead narrowing back into single figures. Unlike MORI and YouGov ICM has the Conservatives below the symbolic 40 percent level, but I suspect the diference between the polls there is a knock on effect of the much higher level of Liberal Democrat support ICM invariably report.

A lot of the media seem to be getting themselves up into early electon fever again, now the final double point lead for the Conservatives has fallen and all the polls are showing the Tory lead down to single figures I’d expect that to continue (Julian Glover and Martin Kettle both respond to the poll in tomorrow’s Guardian by focusing squarely on what it means for an early election), though luckily for the government the media bandwagon effect will be broken by Christmas itself – few political stories have the momentum to perpetuate themselves across that (that said, before someone else points it out, it doesn’t mean the same story won’t fire itself up again as soon as some January polls show a tight race).

36 Responses to “Now all the polls show single figure leads…”

  1. I think the main issue from the polls remain the same–extreme and rapid change suggesting little ‘confirmed party support”.

    Brown gets increased support under the old electoral principle ‘support your leader in a (n Economic) war. (Or, if you prefer, nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.) And the first point of call remains the same ‘it’s the economy, stupid’–or, if you prefer, the hip pocket nerve.

    If the Conservatives can get it back to Brown being at fault for the economy they will win an election; if Brown swings it to a global economic ‘ wa’r (and throw in a few local terrorist acts-even in Paris) then he will win.

    I think no-one would call an early election as the polls (and the economic news) are changing so rapidly. So, can you predict the economy next month? (This obviously excludes Mike Richardson as his ability to see the future is so totally wrong as shown by his view of Obama and the polls-and his inability to win the lottery)

  2. Is anyone seriously saying that any government, let alone one behind in the polls that has been saying we need to focus on the economy, is going to call an election in February, in a recession, as people are opening their post Christmas Bills.

    I think this is speculation gone mad.

  3. I am just waiting for the call to ban ICM from your analysis now that they have stopped showing the ‘right’ results too! :)

    Interesting that after a bout of hugely different polling results the majority of pollsters are arriving at about the same point.

    The temptation is to claim that the original ICM and You Gov polls were rogues, but I think it might be more reflective of how unsure the electorate is at the moment. I think that the polls may continue to swing wildly around for a few months, as we see how the economic situation pans out, I certainly get the impression in Chesterfield that an unusually high number of people are undecided at the moment, though there has certainly been an improvement in the likelihood to vote of Labour supporters in the last two or three months.

    Certainly makes for an exciting time for politicos, and if the polls remain roughly where they are over the next week, it is fascinatingly poised going into the new year.

  4. Now all the polls show a single **figure** lead…

  5. ‘SIngle figure leads’ you mean- not ‘single point leads’

  6. Oops! :)

  7. Thats it chaps, all the polls need to be taken out of the poll of polls as the do not pass the Sally test of not showing a double figure lead.

    Jack – I would like to jump to the defence of the Orafice……I would like to,if I could remember one of his predictions he has got right.You will have to leave that with me, I may be some time.

    Taking into account the Labour bias in votes to seats, the party will be very close to neck and nack. Many consider that the Conservatives need 40% to become the largest party at an election, so these figures would make it very tight in who would be the largest party.

    It is anticipated a few more polls in the days before Christmas and if the Conservatives remain below 40% in these it is well and truely game on for next year.

    Whilst Brown/Darling stay ahead on the economy question, the Labour Party still has a chance. The question will be then how long will Cameron let them stay ahead on this, especially how important the economy is in the eyes of the voters.The having a tiff with the political editor of the Sun at a press conference when he asked him about Osbourne wont have helped him either.

    Can’t see an early election next year as I cannot see the electorate continue it’s swing to Labour enough for Brown to take the chance, then again six months ago when the Labour Parties grave was being dug, I couldn’t see them being within 5% at the end of the year.So whilst the Brown bouce continues,thats a reduction of 10% in the Conservative lead,(unless we want to play the game of polster flip flop), anything could be possible, including a resurgent Conservative Party.

    For those that say that the electorate will turn against Brown once the recession has kicked in, the same was said 2,3,4,5 months ago, when some were arranging his political wreath.

    Bring on the next poll.

  8. I am in full agreement with Peter.
    I doubt Gordon Brown would call an election before summer 2010 unless all the polls are pointing to an outright Labour majority. At present, I don’t believe there is a strong enough case for the prime minister to risk the 60-plus majority he currently enjoys.
    It is also perhaps important to remember how doomed to defeat Margaret Thatcher often looked in 1978 – and Edward Heath, even more so, in the run-up to the 1970 general election – which he famously won against all the odds.
    Everything remains wide open.

  9. My first thought on stories about a February election was that Brown was seeking to counter accusations that he is cutting and running by allowing a story to run that he will go earlier than he is planning. Trouble is, the more I think about it, the more nagging doubts that accusations of “bottling it” might be just as damaging spring to mind.

    Is he honestly considering going to the country in February? That would be brave.

  10. So the Con lead is now around 5%-but it is a lead & it might be uncharacteristic for a PM who failed to go to the country on a Labour lead; to do so on a Conservative lead.

    Peter’s comments seem logical too-but who knows-GB is at his core a partisan politician & if he sniffs an advantage….?

    The Conservatives have allowed Brown to make “Do nothing” stick. In a week when business leaders write to the FT endorsing their Business Loan Guarantee idea this is stupid.
    On a day when yet another failed IT efficiency drive is shown to cost us £80 million “cutting out Government profligacy” is a message waiting to be heard.

    Brown is playing a PR blinder.

  11. Of course the public or some of it have rallied to the the government of the day in the light of the events which have taken place since September. There is a natural tendancy to hope that the measures taken will work and until they are given a chance to succeed or fail there is little an opposition can do except place a marker for the future..
    If however the government was to cut and run and try to hold an election in the midst of the current troubles the opinion polls could and in my view would change dramatically because the electorate would smell a rat straight away and the government would no longer be able to dominate the airwaves. I think that the earliest the government could risk holding an election would be June 2009 and by then the recession will have really kicked in. The election is still the Tories to lose and it seems that the bookies at least agree with that view.

  12. Nick Keene, but the election is also there for Labour to win, I think they will now start to open up a big policy divide between themselves and the Conservatives. Brown has manages to play the Conservatives and make them look slow and uncaring. If Labour can continue with that kind of attack and show Labour as the party that wants to fight against the recession and not ‘let it take its course’ as Cameron has said, then I can see the Labour vote continuing to rise and the Conservative share of the vote continuing to fall. Labour could not have had a better Christmas present than the last five polls, unless there is better to come before the 25th.

  13. Colin – frustrating, isn’t it?
    Last summer I was yelling at the radio and TV that the oil price was going through the floor and no-one was reporting it! I seem to remember even you telling me to put a sock in it.

    The fact is that the narrative doesn’t like an inconsistent quirk. it may well be that Cameron’s policy doesn’t really amount to anything substantial, or it may be that it does. Whatever, the Media has decided that a Brown recovery is what they should report instead.

    Perhaps the Media would like another series of Election Time or Not?stories to run. They’re much easier to fill airtime with than detail and analysis.

    On another point, perhaps the voters are not too trusting of any party that espouses free-market capitalism and seeks to blame regulators and government for not putting enough surplus in place to protect us from the fall-out of the outright thievery that has gone on in the murky world of finance.

    I blame the Madoff’s of this world. However, i think the bankers are part of the solution so should not be vilified and threatened with prison.

  14. Would it be a “cut and run” or an acceptance of Cameron’s assertion that a huge policy gulf warrants an election? Cameron can credibly say one or the other but not both.

    Can’t wait for the “you’re cooking this up”, “no, you are” arguments on radio four and five (not!)

  15. I think Cameron might do a Wendy and say bring it on, lets have a spring election and let the people choose how to deal with the credit crunch, “Bet on debt” or “Tighten the public belt”.

    He would be taking the initiative like he did when Brown got the election bug after the good labour conference and then Brown would have to put up or shut up and be faced with calling a risky election before he’s sure he could win or looking like Chicken little again.

    Given that the “Do nothing” Jibe may well have hurt It might be worth Cameron coming out strongly at PMQ’s and saying “Put up or shut up Gordon”.


  16. I would say Brown has a liitle more intellect than to call a GE in February, a few weeks prior to the visit of Obama to the UK!!

    With the new president likely to advocate a broadly similar view to Brown and a very opposite view to Cameron regarding the way forward in these unprecedented times, anyone with a brain might just want to capitalise on the probable positive impact of such a visit to the UK and have it bang in the middle of an election campaign or maybe a month before!

    There will be no February election – April has to be the favourite unless Brown sees June as a likely problem for the Tories with their differences over Europe presenting them with potential splits on a same day GE/European poll.

    I can’t imagine a Davis/Clarke led Tory party letting Labour get away with achieving parity in the polls to their 2005 GE share of the vote right now – something is badly wrong with the Cameron/Osborne project in the eyes of the electorate otherwise they would be hitting Brown for six and it just isn’t happening.

    The problem for Cameron is that his project is entwined around his pal Osborne and if he sacks him then the whole project lacks credibility.

    The dilema for Brown is how long will he retain the confidence of the electorate as being best placed to get the country through the current problems – it is likely that Spring/ early Summer will be his best chance because most people who have jobs will be better off financially by that time and some very considerably so, with big falls in mortgage payments (apart from the 5 million on fixed rates), falls in fuel,food and general goods prices and that is what matters to the majority of the electorate. The value of stirling or the amount of government debt wont make a jot of difference to the way most people will vote.

    The policies that Brown has introduced which will put real money into the hands of the voters could never have been introduced were it not for this worldwide financial mess – Brown has been very lucky it has happened – he could find himself very lucky indeed if he goes to the county in April/June – such an opportunity will not come his way again!

    In this neck of the woods people are saying Brown is a lucky politician, they could just be right! There are a lot of frustrated Tories in Tatton lately :)

  17. There are two points of attack that the Conservatives seem to be missing: 1). Despite an unprecidented period of growth and prosperity, taxes are very high. 2). Never mind the extra 5% on £150k+ earners, surely Brown will have no choice to introduce 30% (or more) income tax on £20-25k+ earners, once international markets no longer are willing to lend to the U.K. Brown needs middle-England to win an election, surely there can’t be too many educated midle-Englanders who will be willing to pay for his failures for the rest of their lives!

  18. I have a feeling that its between the CON +2 to +6 margin that will be consistently be shown in the polls for a while to come now. We are back to the levels of support right after Brown’s honeymoon period had ended, but right before he became heavily unpopular over the summer.

    It looks like that heavy unpopularity was simply temporary, but this smaller Tory lead of single digits is actually their more reflective of their support over the last couple of years. Look at Blair’s final year, this is exactly where Tory support was and where it stayed before Brown came in – and again, after Brown’s initial popularity the Tory lead recovered back to the mid single digits.

    The obvious conclusion is that Brown wont be able to return to any consistent or substantial lead over the Conservatives, but as we all know the electoral bias means that they don’t have to!

    These poor CON leads essentially equal a hung parliament, which is why Brown wont go in the Spring – even if these are reflecting the best scores that he can hope to achieve. No one will forgive Brown for creating the instability of a hung parliament in the middle of recession.

  19. I must agree with Peter. Labour’s recovery in the polls nonetheless leaves them trailing the Tories and even with the electoral advantage Labour enjoys (someone please explain to me why we tolerate this in a supposed democracy?), the government’s position remains very weak.

    Moreover, there’s a pattern in the polls that would seem to make them particularly unreliable indicators of a general election outcome right now – namely, variations on a theme of “best to lead during the present economic crisis” versus “best government for the future”. Calling an early general election may prompt voters more towards the latter rather than the former – a proportion of those polled would seem to prefer continuity right now but can’t stomach the idea of another 5 years of Brown and co. In a general election, they might decide that 5 more years of Labour is too high a price to pay – particularly if, by calling a general election, Brown is perceived to be disrupting the very status quo that has given him that slight boost in the polls lately.

  20. “Colin – frustrating, isn’t it?”

    Yes john!-enyoyed your post.

    Which American politician said ” The People have spoken-the bastards” ?

  21. john-meant to say I particularly agreed with your comments on the media.

    The level of informative analysis on policy in the UK media-well tv particularly-is abysmal.

    I would love to see some of our politicians face interviewers from US tv channels.

  22. My own view is still for an election in 2010.

    I’ll bet my metaphorical house on there not being a GE in Feb 2009, if only because of the reason a contributor mentions above – Obama’s first scheduled visit.

    If Obama is marshalling all the powers of the federal government in the economic war at the time, and Brown is mirroring this, then Brown should be able to use the ideological inertia of the Tories as a weapon against them.

    Hence spring election would be more likely if one is going to take place next year,

  23. Gary Gatter-this is not the site to debate what sort of policy divide you think the Labour party can open up with the Tories in the hope of avoiding blame for the position in which we find ourselves. Instead I will simply remind you of the old adage that oppositions don’t win elections governments just lose them.

  24. And now if Anthony will forgive me I want to tell a little story!!

    On Friday the 5th of December my wife and I caught the 11am Edinburgh to London King’s Cross train having reserved seats in a quiet carriage which had signs all round saying that the use of mobile phones was prohibited. There were inumerable places including the nearby restaraunt car in which a phone could have been used without bothering those of us trying to get a little shuteye.
    When the train reached Newcastle we were joined by a 65 year old man in a smart fedora hat and city suit who proceeded to ignore the signs and talk loudly into his mobile phone. Nobody on the train seemed to recognise him save me. It was Vince Cable MP.
    I made frequent eye contact with Mr Cable in an effort to ward off the growing irritation of my fellow passengers and by his reaction he knew what I was trying to say to him but he chose to ignore me. Finally of course two other passengers turned round and gave him a bit of a verbal. Still he continued to use his phone so I did the only thing possible in the circumstances. I informed the entire carriage just exactly who he was.
    You need no imagination to work out the reaction of the other passengers. ‘Arrogant ‘ ‘Should know better’ and ‘who do MP’s think they are’ being the more printable ones.
    Will they ever learn?

  25. I think someone has said that GB is a lucky politician and that the press are on his side… well I agree that recent events have favoured him, but the press being on his side is a hugely recent thing. For the 12 months before September Brown was subjected to one of the most vicous, and personal, attacks I have seen by the press on a PM. In fact, it made me quite uncomfortable and strayed into some pretty unpleasant territory (class/Scottish stuff) in a few outlets.

    As said above, I think an election in Feb would be too soon. No one like February, it is a miserable month. Wait till Spring, Obama, and the European Elections… or just wait until 2010 and try and pass some legislation..

  26. Good story Nick!

  27. Colin – Dick Tuck said it (it’s sometimes attributed to Mo Udall, who did later use it, but didn’t himself originate it.)

  28. Nick Keene

    Whilst I do not condone the lengthy and loud use of mobile phones on trains and also understand the resultant irritation of other passengers, M.P.’s, of all political party’s are often hard working and are also – many would not believe it – Human Beings like you, I and everyone else.

    Ok politicians may be seen as, or are ‘arrogant’, ‘out of touch’ and deached from mainstream society ( a theory that I am sometimes inclined to believe) however, because of this widely held opinion, to alert other passengers as to who it was was in my view rather unfair.

    The reaction that the said M.P. received could well have been much worse than if he were a mere member of the public.

    As dedicated Politico’s I do feel that we should really give them a smidgen of credit !

    And by the way, I am making no apologies for politicians in general either.

    Sorry Anthony if this deveates from the purpose of this site, but I felt a response was needed.

  29. Well, the people have been given lots of goodies lately:

    VAT down
    Petrol down from 120 to 90
    Mortgage payments down for those on trackers
    Extra help for people in mortgage arrears
    Tens of billions thrown in to lubtricate the economy

    For people who don’t look beyond the end of their noses, all is sunshine, and no wonder the Government’s popularity is recovering.

    How it will look to people in a few months’ time when all this has worked through ,and has to be paid for, could be a diferent matter.

  30. Thanks Anthony-it’s one of my all time favourite quotations.

    I just hope I’m not reminded of it again after the next GE!

    Nick-interesting story-the public & private personas of these people are, one suspects often quite different.

  31. Colin – it’s now on my list – of quotations and things to remind you of!

    Clive – it won’t be paid for in a few months time, but in a few years time. The next few months might well be horrible enough to obscure the “goodies” for people.

    The basic premise (as puit by Labour) is that taxes should go down in bad times and up in good times.

    As put by Conservatives, “don’t spoil the good times to come by spending more in the bad times now” (and presumably that taxes should never go up, apart from fuel tax regualtor tax)

  32. Clive-the first price which has to be paid is in jobs.

    Today’s figures are the start of a trend that will add another 1millon plus next year by most forecasts.

    These jobs will be lost mostly in the Private Sector in The South, MIdlands & Wales. The people in these areas -according to that last YouGov Poll already support the Conservatives 45/33.

    In the Rest of the Country-the North & Scotland,-job losses will impact less severely because the Public Sector provides proportionately more jobs together with their attendant so-called “gold plated” pension rights.
    The people in these areas-according to YouGov already support Labour 39/33

    The people in the first group are unlikely to switch to Labour as their job losses mount.

    The people in the second group will be more inclined to support Labour as the job losses mount for the first group…in order to ensure that their own jobs remain secure with the existing Government.

    The Country is polarised, and will become more so as the Recession destroys lives in the wealth creating areas & protects livelihoods in the State sponsored areas.

  33. Nick,

    You should have said he was a banker, they’d have thrown him off the train.


  34. No Peter they might have thrown him UNDER the train which would have delayed my journey…

  35. Nick,

    Given their current place in the publics affections is there any reason to suppose a banker on the tracks would delay a train…..