MORI have released their monthly political monitor (their poll earlier this week was a seperate one, commissioned by the Daily Mirror). The topline figures, with changes from earlier this week, are CON 39%(-2), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 15%(+4). I don’t have confirmed fieldwork dates yet, but it was likely done over the weekend.

Given the extremely short gap since the previous lot of fieldwork and the lack of any great world shattering events that could explain a big jump in Lib Dem support, I expect the changes here are no more than normal random sampling error (that is, the variation in the make up between one sample and the next) – though we are getting into the period when I’m slightly wary of polling results anyway as Christmas shopping starts to skew the people who are at home to take phone calls. The overall picture remains a Tory lead in the mid single figures.

54 Responses to “MORI shows 4 point Tory lead”

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  1. Yet another poll with the Conservatives below 40% and still on a downward trend.

  2. Gary

    Ok I fail to see this represents a downward trend. Surely if the last 6 polls are with in the 3point margin of error ie plus or minus 3 points around a 3 point lead this represents a steadying of the polls.

    With my knowledge of statistics I know of no analysis that would allow you with any confidence to state that this is a downward trend.

    I suggest you put your bias back in its no doubt red box.

  3. I think it is clear that Tory support has fallen considerably over the last few months and there is now a clear pattern of leads less than 5/6% and we are certainly in hung parliament territory. The momentum is clearly with Labour and it is the Tories on the back foot.

    I think Cameron needs to reshuffle his team, certainly remove Osborn from the crucial job if this slump is to stop.

  4. Wills,

    I think there is a downward trend in the Tory numbers. The fact that a poll has a margin of error of 3% doesn’t mean that a poll with the Tories on 40% and another poll with them on 37% are the same. In the latter it is far more likely that they actually are on 37% than in the former.

  5. The conclusion from these polls must be that the next election will be the summer of 2010. The economy will start to improve towards the end of 2009 and continue into the following summer. Winter GEs are not good for Labour. The current neck and neck polls race will continue up to April/May 2010 and as it is customary for the governing party to win support back during a GE campaign, there will be the chance of a Labour victory. Brown has already had his fingers burnt over will he/won’t he call an election. He will not make the same mistake twice. Speculation in the tabloids, as usual, should be taken with a large dollop of doubt.

  6. Polls clustering nicely around my Low-Series trendline. My thesis was that the high Tory leads through the autumn were the noise and the lows were the trend is holding up nicely; we seem to have broken through a resistance level, as they say on the stock market, in late November. That would be consistent with Labour firming and Tories losing voters into the undecided pool.

  7. Jakob,

    What evidence do you have to back that up.

    There is very little you can actually draw from any poll other than the fact that it has a margin of error of plus/minus 3 points.

    Really once the numbers are published it is pure speculation as to what they mean and the phrase downward trend is just the same. My point is that there is no proof for saying that a downward trend exists.

    The only thing that you can say from reading this polls with any sort of certainty is that the Conservative lead has shrunk and even that comes with a few caveats.

  8. Wills,

    Average Tory percentage in November: 41.8

    Average Tory percentage in December: 39.2

    So it has gone down.

  9. Oops, Wills’ comment is a bit sharp… I’d suggest looking at the graphic that Anthony provides – you know, the graph showing the exaggerated Tory lead during the summer steadily collapsing.

    It could be, as many uncomprehending Tory supporters claim, because the British public are blind fools, and/or are being carried away with Christmas spirit – in which case we obviously urgently need to appoint a more reliable electorate.

    Or it could be that after months when GB was attacked by his opponents, much of the media (and even some of his “friends”) on trivial, mostly on personal and in many cases rather unpleasant grounds, the Conservative alternative has at last been put under some genuine scrutiny, and has been found lacking.

    What we don’t need is another fake “election fever” to be whipped up, with the hope that Brown can again be attacked for “bottling out” of an early election – rather than praised for sensible caution.

    So let’s not get carried away with gloom or delight about Labour closing the gap, but wait and see where the polls are in March/April or, even more sensibly, by next summer.

  10. WillS

    Sorry, think I touched a nerve there ;-)

    Excel is a good way to look at trends.

  11. This is all very meaningless at the moment, and I don’t see any movement here. There certainly doesn’t look to be any joy for Brown if he calls a February election, but we’ll have to see how that pans out. The talk is probably just a ploy to counter accusations that he is cutting and running should he decide to go in June.

  12. Interesting for all this is portrayed as good news for Labour if you look at the graphs on the MORi web site Brown’s personal approval levels have all gone down in December.

    This suggests that he did well last month possibly around about the PBR with the cut to VAT and the likes but that it might be wearing off.

    With talk of yet another banking bail out being needed it could be that Brown could either get a boost by being the man who is doing what needs to be done or be hurt if he is thought to be just throwing our money at it to no effect.

    Could go either way.


  13. “The economy will start to improve towards the end of 2009 ”

    Says who JOHN C ?

  14. Comparing this poll to the MORI one from 28th November (rather than this week’s one for the Mirror) changes are: Con – 5, Lab + 3 and Lib Dem no change.

  15. Not touched a nerve at all, I just think that this site should be for analysis of polls not inaccurate speculation.

    Also if you read what I wrote you would see I do understand that the Con lead has shrunk, I just refuse to acknowledge it as a trend, it has jumped from about 10 point lead to about 3/4 point lead.

    All I’m saying is that a trend is directional, from the last few polls it would appear that the Tories have on average 3/4 point lead that is relatively static. It just shows that a block of about 4/5 % would now vote Labour not that slowly more and more are voting Labour, if that was true you would expect to see a Labour lead in the next polls and if it does then I shall contritely aplogise but for the moment it’s speculation. I’m just commenting on published polls.

    Also on the point on trends made by both Gary and Jakob on trends and as Gary mentioned in Excel. I believe Anthony actually stated his dislike for averages as they aren’t statistically relevant. The point I’m making is not to knock to bolsters Tories or knock down Labour. I’m merely saying that it is mathematically impossible to draw any meaningful relevance from 6 polls that take the Con lead down from 10 points to 3/4 points other than exactly that.

    Drawing conclusions now is purely anecdotal. The reason I like this site is that you can do analysis from year on year. I can’t stand it when people use a small handful of polls to draw a huge political conclusion.

    Rant over. I look forward to the anger this posting will no doubt cause.

  16. I am looking forward to Anthony’s end of year review. If I remember correctly he wrote Gordon Brown off in last year’s review!!!

  17. It’s a sign of how things are balanced that if you move the votes of the main three parties by just 1% you go from Brown with almost a majority to Cameron as PM.


  18. “I cant stand it when people use a small handful of polls to draw a huge political conclusion”.

    Your in the right place for that.The Brown bounce is forever faltering and if we had a pound for every” wait until the recession kicks in, then Labours percentage will fall”, we could pay for most of the governmet borrowing.

    Glad you mentioned averages,pollsters that have not shown in a certain party in a certain light should be excluded from the polls of polls, so some say.

    Everyone no matter how unbiased they claim to be always try to draw a favoured conclusion from any poll.”If this is all Brown can do with all this media atten tion, it reads good for the Conservatives” is another classic from here.

    The problem is sometimes, and Anthony has mentioned it quite a few times, people just rant , generally in the negative about the “other” party,without even mentioning the polls.There are other forums that revel in whinging about the “other” party, go and join in the fun.

    I do believe that another poll showing the Conservatives under the 40% mark is quite significant.It is a few that have now shown it,and it does push them towards not being the largest party in what could be a hung parliament.

    There still should be a few more polls before Christmas, and rogues aside, they should cement the current position of a 5 to 3 percent lead.Cant see any major shift in percentages this year so anticipate the next shift at sometime in the new year.

    I also notice the Orhahahacle has kept up his good prediction form by stating the Conservative small lead would be “very short lived”.and we would return to double digit leads very soon……how short is very short and will I find out very soon?

    Also will the previously pronounced dead Mr Brown live again in Anthonys end of year predictions?

  19. ‘Everyone no matter how unbiased they claim to be always try to draw a favoured conclusion from any poll’

    But if one does not see any significant difference between the three main parties then this observation looks least likely to hold.

  20. I would like to point out that only Anthony seems to hold the non-biased approach on here.

    The rest of us spin to high heaven.

  21. Jack – if one did not see any significant difference between the main parties, one would need a new set of glasses.

  22. Tony –

    You keep repeating that the Brown Bounce isn’t faltering (unless I’m misreading any intended sarcasm in your comments) yet you expect that the next few polls will show a 3-5% Con lead – thus, the end of the Brown Bounce.

    When I’ve been saying the bounce is over, I’ve not meant that the conservative lead will suddenly leap back to double digits. I’ve meant that the Labour gains are ceasing.

  23. I think it is reasonable to say that picking an electoral winner based on recent polls is guesswork. As it is christmas we can expect things to be a little unrepresentative.

    I don’t think anyone in parliament really wants an election anytime soon. There is no obvious clear winner.

  24. Wills

    No anger, just good natured banter ;-)

  25. I think I’ll go backwards a little bit and say that the polls are showing the number of floating voters is at about 20% of the total and the base-line of the parties is Con 30%, Labour 25%, LibDem 15%, with others consistent around 10%.

    If we take that as the current standard then the poll fluctuations can been seen to be perfectly normal.

    It looks to me that the number of floaters has increased over the year as Labour’s class-war rhetoric and Cameron’s do-nothing strategy has somewhat weakened the unswerving loyalty to their causes they could count on previously.

    Contrastingly the LibDems look like they were already stripped to the bone covering their essentials after their leadership turmoils, so have little to lose to decreasing tribalism (if LibDems could ever be considered tribal in the first place).

    My conclusion is that the polls are obscuring a deeper trend for greater scepticism about the politics of our major parties and no amount of news manipulation or press announcements will be helpful to their electoral prospects unless they are backed up by real developments.

    The growing body of ‘unfaithful’ voters signals an opportunity to change the electoral landscape and make the next change of government an epochal change, but with Cameron already faltering he has shown he doesn’t have the staying power to be the agent of change.

    It all looks like Brown and Cameron are tied together in perpetuating the old politics of party advantage for personal gain at the huge and literal expense of the wider public. Their choice is clear: real pain for the many or relatively severe pain for the few. It’s not an appealing choice.

    I consider myself a floating voter who’s yet to decide which way I’ll cast my vote, but one thing is certain, it will depend upon the choice of candidates I’m presented with, not the choice of parties.

  26. The big question is whether recent poll results represent a high point for Labour, or have now settled, or show an ongoing Labour improvement that will see Labour inch ahead over the coming weeks.

    If I had to place a bet, I’d go for the high point answer because I think the economic situation currently favours Labour and will soon do the opposite. But I don’t think I’d bet more than a fiver on it.

  27. Polls seem to be pretty stable really. There seems so bethe odd rogue poll (high Conservative lead, low Conservtive Lead) which seem to even out.

    I think the Conservatives are making big hits against Labour on their idiotic rescue package! and other areas. These will come through in polls in the New Year.

  28. Class war rhetoric? That’s a serious exaggeration of Labour’s recent stated policies. As it happens I’m not averse to class war myself – certainly more than most Labour Party members! – but I can’t discern class war in anything that leading Labour figures have said. Of course, if you’re the kind of person who thinks that attempting to improve the living standards of the poorest equates with class war, or class envy as one Lib Dem contributor has put it, then that’s different………

  29. Having looked again at the figures I feel confident in repeating that the predominant trend is of a definite increase in the numbers of floating voters, which does a lot to account for the volatility of the past year.

  30. Thomas – I think the figures you need to look at are those indicating certainty to vote.

    My experience on the ground is of people who identify with Labour and who have voted Labour in the past – who either did not vote in 2005 (mainly over Iraq) or who were more recently less certain to vote – now saying they are much more likely to vote Labour again.

    There are some who are switching from one Party to another but from what I’ve found locally (a marginal) they seem few and far between. Confidence in both main Parties and their leaders seems to have ebbed and flowed.

    I’d argue it’s a mistake to look at polling changes and say they are down to people drifting between Parties – I think much more of it is down to people feeling more or less motivated to actively back a Party they identify with. Less “absolute tribal loyalty” perhaps, but that doesn’t necessarily mean people are shopping around for someone to vote for.

  31. This “superman” Brown bounce will go the way of all the other ones. As Philp Stephens said in the FT the other day, there is no way an objective observer can see it as credible that Labour will win the next election.

    Voters who do not yet notice that the £ has collapsed, the public financces debauched, and the economy is in recession sadly soon will.

  32. “Philp Stephens said in the FT the other day, there is no way an objective observer can see it as credible that Labour will win the next election.”

    lol! So an “objective” observer should conclude that with a 4 point lead , up to 18months before an election , the Consrvatives are certain to win the election.

    I see Mike has some competion. :)

  33. I meant “competition”

  34. Given that Labour are still around 4-6 points behind after a huge amount of good publicity, this must be worrying for them.

    Also, there is a lot of talk about when the election will be and reasons why to have it in 2009. One I have not heard but have consider myself is this: the at the moment the pund v euro is just numbers reported on tv for most people. If Brown waits until after summer ’09, how many people, who have been on holiday in EU countries and felt their hard earned cash get them much less than in years before, might turn from Labour, or from being a floating voter, to the ToriesQm. Just a thought.

    ps. My question mark button is bust, hence the Qm.

  35. Hi, I’ve been off line for a while.

    I’m relieved to see that at least a few of my guesses have proven to be accurate recently. There can be no reasonable doubt now that Labour has closed the Conservative lead to just 5 or 6 points.

    But I don’t think that Labour supporters should be getting their hopes up.

    Whether or not the high level of borrowing will have much positive impact on the economy people will view it as a kind of binge. A lot of people in Britain enjoy a good binge as the Christmas season demonstrates. But they enjoy paying for consequences of the binge a lot less!

    And even before the tax rises of 2010 onwards, will Labour do this well come the summer of 2009 when the country is in deep recession and only the rich can afford to holiday on the continent? It doesn’t seem sensible to think so to me.

    I’m sorry Labour supporters but I think the government has peaked. It has not peaked well enough to call an election next year, and I can’t see it getting enough momentum for the following year to get above 32%.

  36. MIKE R

    I’ve been reading some frightening economic outlooks which involve a return of rampant inflation caused by import prices rises & Government debt & money printing.

    There are a few pennies to drop yet I think.

    What the political fallout will be -who knows?

  37. Mike,

    I can’t imagine someone in that situation thinking “I know how to fix this – I’ll vote for the Tories.”

    Maybe it’s just wishful thinking from a Labour supporter, but I don’t think many people believe the Tories would have kept the pound strong. And even if they did, it won’t really matter at the next election because people will want to hear about the parties’ plans for the future rather than how they’d have fixed everything in the past with the benefit of hindsight.

    Even if people really do vote based on how they think the Tories would have handled the crisis, that’s likely to benefit Labour. Don’t forget that weeks after Labour had bailed out the banks, the Tories finally ended their dithering and decided what they would have done. They’d have bailed out the banks too, but they’d have done it without increasing debt. I bet Brown wishes he’d thought of that.

  38. Colin – be a little careful, and remember that the one rule of economics is that economists have no real idea what will happen in the future – that’s why we are where we are now.
    The polls tightening could be explained by recent data on consumer confidence, (rising for the last two months) and retail sales (volumes up last month). More new entrants are also going into the housing market. These figures are by no means clear cut, but there is some evidence to suggest VAT cuts and interest rate drops are working. If the bank rescue plan deliveres better credit lines in the New year by the next budget things could genuinely be interesting. Its a big if.
    As I’ve said many times before, if Brown’s rescue package is seen to work, Labour has a good chance of winning. If it doesn’t, the Tories are in with a big majority. The key issue is to define what ‘working’ means in this context. Colin and NBeale and others like them will never accept Brown did the right thing, others are more likely to be swayed. To date Cameron has lost the arguement, but not yet the war. There’s no doubt that the economic landscape come the next election will be a mess, but the issue is whether brown can claim it would be a worse mess if we had listened to Osbourne, and so far that is the arguement that is winning.

  39. Brown and some other leaders are blindly following Keynsianism (the US are even printing more money – God Forbid!) which was discredited and discarded in the 80’s. The unfortunate thing is this is what led to the stagnation of western (especially the UK and the US in the 60’s and 70’s when efficiency and economy went out of the window.

    Our only hope is an early election – If it isn’t too late already.

  40. Last line should read:

    The unfortunate thing is this is what led to the stagnation of western (especially the UK and the US ) economiesin the 60’s and 70’s when efficiency and economy went out of the window.

  41. Should we ignore any polls between now and Christmas/New Year? Or wait until they are published and then spin them depending on our political leanings? I will declare early and say that I will ignore them (even if they show Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck).

  42. Neil,

    After monetarism gave us the credit crunch, there aren’t any untarnished economic theories left.

  43. Nice to see that some correspondents can see nothing but the inevitability of a Tory overall win.

    I should have thought they would have learnt by now that the situation is very fluid at the moment. In fact, conventional wisdom would have it that if the Opposition is only 4-5% ahead at this stage of a Parliament, the Government would be a favourite to retain power. However unlike some of these Tories we in the Labour Party will take nothing for granted. But those who say the Labour Party is dead, finished, kaputt, are taking a real leap in the dark.

  44. The devaluation of the pound is interesting development. I wonder how low it can fall before inflation becomes an issue.

    For Brown this must be a serious concern as the final pin of his economic reputation hangs on keeping inflation at bay – once that is gone, so will any last shred of his credibility and his political career will be at an end.

    So will he choose a lower-interest rates, lower-inflation, lower-growth economic model and further entrench financial inequalities in order to survive politically? Would Labour be able to maintain it’s backing and electoral support by becoming anti-aspirational?

    Brown is facing the choice: stay in power or stay Labour. Which way will he go?

  45. Thomas

    I don’t think many people are worried about inflation; the main worry seems to be deflation, when people stop spending and wait for prices to fall further. But the latest survey by GFK NOP shows that consumer confidence has improved for the second month in a row, including the major purchases index.

    Maybe this confidence will lead to a neck and neck poll in the New Year?

  46. I think the inflation issue is a confusing one.

    The headline rate is based on a basket of commodities some are staples such as utility bills , housing costs and food, others the likes of clothes and durables from hi-fi’s ( showing my age there) and white goods.

    As inflation rose due to food and fuel so people spent more of their incomes on these items which meant that they both bought fewer low inflation items while felling inflation more as a higher proportion of their spend was made up from high inflation items.

    This lead to a public perception that inflation was higher than the government said and it clearly hurt the government.

    Looking ahead the prospects for the core domestic elements look good in that utilities food and fuel all look to be going downward, Along with some raw materials. However the drop in the pound has has pushed up the price of imports and to a degree ( but not by much) blunted the drop in the oil price.

    Thus the drop in core item inflation may free up some money in people pockets to buy none core items but these imported items will themselves be more expensive.

    Given the overall economic outlook this may mean that people are reluctant to spend on imported durables and high value items like cars, but it could be some respite to things like eating out.

    However overall even if inflation does fall the prospects of any boost in consumer spending over the next year to 18 months look grim. disposable incomes will not rise and at present despite aggressive rate cutting the interest rates for existing debt let alone new credit are still high, and when it can be afforded it still isn’t readily available.

    In addition it is looking like we will need “Bank Bail Out MK2” , probably a buy up of wider toxic debt and possibly a Swedish style “Bad Bank”.

    With this backdrop I really can’t see any real return to consumer confidence in an economy in the next year for an economy that is 70% services.

    Oh two issues coming up for next year.

    UK industry and business has to refinance £1 trillion in debt and as people start post Madoff to draw capital out hedge funds we will see the funds sell assets to raise cash and that might lead to the Fire sale that wall st was so dreading that it begged for the US bank bail out.

    Oh and did I mention that some are saying that up to half of the US’s credit card debt is off balance book and starts to surface over the next eighteen months.

    I was talking to senior members of the Councils finance department who look after the councils treasury side and pension fund after a budget meeting yesterday ( we lost but with 17 members out of 80 that wasn’t unexpected) and I joking said;

    ” I am Okay about losing as the world finacial system will probably collapse in six months so all bets are off”.

    The reply was;

    ” You’d give it six months we were thinking six weeks”

    We were all joking , but there was a nerviousness to tha laughter.


  47. Gary –

    If you look back to the polls when confidence was high previously, the Tories had a 20 point lead. Are you sure you want the confidence to return?

  48. Mark M

    Yes. And I don’t think there are many people who would say no.

  49. Jakob – I don’t think people will say: I can’t imagine someone in that situation thinking “I know how to fix this – I’ll vote for the Tories.” If people are sick enough of the government they will vote for the opposition – so in England that is the Tories, or Lib Dems.

    I go to the U.S. in June, so hopefully we haven’t fallen to parity with the dollar by them… What effect would that have on the polls – and if things go really bad is it possible…

  50. I see OPEC have got fed up of Gordon Brown today, with their message essentially being ‘if you don’t want high petrol prices, don’t charge such high tax’. We currently pay around 265% tax (duty + vat) on petrol.

    I would love to see results on a poll that asked ‘Which of these would have have rather seen? £12bn on
    a) cutting VAT from 17.5% to 15% or
    b) on cutting fuel duty and bringing unleaded from 87.9ppl to around 64.9ppl.’

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