Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor has topline figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 44%(+5), LAB 30%(-5), LDEM% 17%(+2). The poll was conducted between the 16th and 18th of January.

Clearly it shows a very substantial shift in support from Labour to the Conservatives. Normally I’d advise some caution in any poll showing a big switch in voting intention and advise people to wait to see it confirmed in other polls, but in this case, while the extent of the switch in support is rather larger, the trend is the same as we’ve already seen from Populus, YouGov and ComRes. The boost in Labour support we saw last year appears to have gone into a sharp reverse.

UPDATE: Full tables are here. Interestingly enough, while Populus, ICM and TNS have all shown economic optimism heading back down this month, the MORI poll shows it continuing to rise: net optimism is up to minus 40 from minus 48 last month. In contrast, optimism about how it will affect them personally doesn’t seem to increasing, 49% of full-time workers said they were worried about losing their job, compared to 43% last month.

181 Responses to “MORI show decisive swing back to the Tories”

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  1. @NigelJ

    To echo colin, I would be happy to move away from the discussions we have been having (quite happily thankyou) if someone has a point to discuss. As it stands though we have had 2 people ask for a return to a discussion about the polls without actually suggesting something to talk about.

    You start mate and we’ll carry on the thread.

  2. Ivan the terrilble, makes a good point about the rough persona of Brown. When confidence in Labour is now in a state of precarious balance such a handicap may well make a significant difference.

  3. I should like to add that when I said that Brown has a rough persona I am not just expressing a personal opinion but something that has often spoken of in the media over the years. For example, since becoming PM it has been pointed out that Brown has made a deliberate attempt to smile in front of the cameras, and sometimes with dubious results.

    Brown’s tendency towards being morose is in striking contrast with Blair’s personality and it is logical to presume that in times of difficulty this is a considerable disadvantage.

    While I would not call people morons I think I understand what Ivan is getting at. The changing nature of the polls over the last six to nine months does demonstrate it seems to me that a considerable amount of people are fickle when it comes to their support for a party. And this is why personality and not just policy matters!

  4. I last commented in the middle of December and said then that it would be difficult to comment further until around mid January. The latest poll seems to have produced such a welter of comment that I think it has become counter productive.

    May be this is too radical but might it be a useful initiative to restrict comment to any made within say 5 days of a poll or a maximum of say 70 or 80 whichever came first with another maximum of one comment per contributor?

  5. I think that the second bank bailout this week may prove to be a turning point – somewhat like devaluation in 1968; 3-day week in 1973/74; IMF in 1976 and the ERM ejection in 1992 – whereby the polls will turn against the government and there is no way back. The key issue for the economy is confidence – not just in banks, but also in the government. The latter is now clearly as much, if not more, of a problem, and cannot be resolved without a general election to restore authority and credibility to the British government.

    For a government that was already struggling, that is bad news indeed – and yet, from Brown’s performance on Radio 4, there is total denial of any problem, still less that the game is up. On the other hand, maybe Darling’s plea for more time is the first recognition, and a precursor to emergency legislation to delay the election beyond 2010 ?

    I expect that the next set of polls will all show Tory leads in the teens, but also that we could be seeing leads of 20% or more within weeks rather than months. Unfortunately, the one thing we desperately need is likely to be denied us for up to 17 months, or even longer if Brown thinks he can get away with it.

    On a related point, Labour must be ruing the day they decided to delay the County Council elections to June in line with the Euros. If the aim had been to reduce the media impact of County Council losses on the back of good European results (based on comparisons to 2004 instead of 2005) , this plan is likely to backfire spectacularly. Not only will the County Council results prove a bloodbath – a clear parallel with 1993 – but also, by virtue of producing differential turnout in the mainly Tory shires vs the urban areas where there are only European elections, they could exacerbate the overall Tory lead in the European elections. (see my separate post on the Euro thread for analysis and likely impact)

  6. Ok, I’ve been busy, not least since I have been entered into a new kindergarten, namely Mike Smithson’s place. Yet – lo-and-behold – I had time to spare so I thought I’d revisit Ant’s place.

    ‘Boy,’ I thought, ‘where were these comments last year, when I made the same forecasts?’ Then reality bit: Ant’ stepped in with the non-partisan rule.

    So I have broken my self-imposed rule (based upon the Wells mantra) that any contribution I make on this site should be about the polls, and not my personal, political or economic views. Sorry Ant’!

    Still have to read the remaining comments of the last few days, then off to the PB play-pen. When are the next polls due…? :)

  7. I really don’t think there’s a realistic chance of Brown trying to (or succeeding) in delaying a general election beyond the legal limit.

    Leaving aside the interesting constitutional decision that would give to Her Majesty, not even Labour MPs would vote fo such legislation. Well, some might, but not enough. The outrage would be enormous, in Parliament, in the country, and probably internationally!

  8. Her majesty, would not sign such a bill, i fact i think 4 years would be better for a genaral election and half elections in the so called metropolitan councils, half in the unitery councils and full elections in district and county elections, all in all a shake up .

  9. James,

    Spot on.

    Only Labour MP’s who thought they would lose their seats would support such a move, while all those in safe seats (particularly those off the payroll with nothing to lose financially) would take a principled stand in the name of democracy.

    This kind of speculation really borders on the paranoid and comes from the two types of bad government. For some Labour is “Bad” as in evil and dangerous and for others ( like me) it’s “Bad” as in not very good and lacking in quality.

    It’s about whether you want rid of duff government (me) of you think it’s an evil one.



  10. To change tack a little, what are the chances of a vote of no confidence in the government? How bad would things need to get before that became likely? What are the procedures? Are there any precedents?

    If the country continues to plummet down the recession abyss, polls show a massive decline in support for the government (which seems extremely likely and fairly imminent), Brown goes on blundering, and ministers are running around like headless chickens, how long can such a situation feasibly persist? I just can’t see government holding together for another 17 months in such circumstances.

  11. The country will plummet down the recession abyss.

    We have had a decade of excessive consumption paid for by debt & fuelled by asset price bubbles which went unchecked by so called Regulators.

    This was always going to self correct-and we have to go through the pain of de-leveraging & asset price correction.

    Brown will not suffer loss of support because of this pain,but because he said-and keeps on saying-he will ensure we won’t feel it.

    He cannot deliver on these ridiculous promises to people & they will feel let down. A degree of honest warning to us all might have seen his Polling support more favourable.

    Obama told his people that it’s going to be bad-but of course he has the advantage of not being at the helm when the fires of the Boom were being stoked.

    It yet remains to be seen whether Obama’s fiscal stimulus will deliver the millions of jobs he has promised…and his approach is quite different to Browns, with huge reductions in Income Tax, and large Infrastructure spending programmes.

    There is huge debate to be seen on US TV Channels about the effectiveness of all these fiscal & monetary interventions.

    The Jury is well & truly out on them all-and on the Administrations around the World who are relying on them to work.

  12. Bills to extend the lifetime of parliament are (as I recall) specifically exempt from the Parliament Act so even if the MPs voted for it it would never pass in the Lords.

  13. Ooh, constitutional stuff. I like that :)

    James – the procedures for a vote of no confidence is that the opposition tables it, and then by convention the government provides time for the debate and vote, normally almost immediately.

    It would be unpredecented, at least in modern times, for a government with a working majority to lose a vote of no confidence – and no reason to think they would now.

    For extended the life of the Parliament, as NBeale says, it would require the consent of the Lords which would be unlikely to come without crossparty agreement that the situation was so dire that an election really should be delayed, and in those circumstances the monarch would have no cause to overrule the will of Parliament (in fact, in the last century it was accepted that one of the circumstances that the monarch could legitimately refuse an election when the PM requested on was the it would be detrimental to the economy).

    While it’s interesting to discuss the constitutional possibilities that would allow a PM to delay an election without cross-party support, it’s not something that is realistically going to happen.

  14. At the risk of going further away from a discussion of the polls (until we get another one to discuss!!)…

    If, hypothetically, one Party had a large majority in both houses (say Labour packed a load more peers into the Lords, or consider the Conservatives in the 1980s), what is to stop the government from tabling a bill to extend the Parliamentary term to 10 years, or even more? If they were able to persuade their own MPs and Peers to vote for it, could it theory come into law? could a strong enough governing party abolish elections altogether?

    Other than the Queen refusing to sign the Bill, without a written constitution what other safe guards are there?

  15. For teh record, I don’t think that there is any prosepect of this Parliament being extended, but I do think that Brown will try to hang on for as long as possible.

    Even were Labour to somehow pull off a third Brown bounce, past form suggests that this would need to be strong and sustained for Brown to risk going to the country.

    Technically, Brown can wait until 10 June 2010, but with Local Council elections due in early May, he cannot realistyically seek a dissolution days after these, so GE is likely to be 6th May 2010.

    The only way this coould be earlier is if Brown chooses to call an election, or loses a motion of confidence. For the latter to happen, too many Labour MPs would need to either vote against him or abstain, so it is rather unlikely.

    Even if the polls fall through the floor, I can’t see Brown choosing to sacrifice himself for the good of his Party, let alone the country. There is an outside possibility of teh Labour party choosing to dump him if teh June results are catastrophic. However, the procedures involved, and the time it will require for a new leader to be formally elected and settled in, would probably take us to the end of this year, so it would not be unreasonable for the new caretaker PM to hold out for May 2010 anyway.

  16. NBEALE

    In one of your posts you predict a near certainty of a Conservative victory at the next GE on the following basis:

    “I don’t think Cameron is really worried about whether he will win the next election (the Spread Betting odds are 75%) but I think he is seriously concerned about the state of the economy and public finances when he does come in. International investors have almost completely lost confidence in Gordon Brown (who didn’t even know the name of ABN Amro), hence the collapse of Sterling and the fact that UK Government Debt Credit Default Swaps are trading at 136bps – ie the expected loss from a default in the next 5 years is thought to be about 6.8%. Since in a default investors would get about 75% of their money back, this suggests the markets now think the probability of a default is about 25%.”

    January 23rd, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Hold on a second! You allude to Spread Betting odds that are stacked heavily in favour of a Conservative victory. Big Big Big mistake making a comparison with Banks and Markets.

    Which institutions indulged in hedging betts with billions of pounds of our money and what system was it that has descimated our economy??

    Oh it was the Banks and the Free Market!

    On the basis of your argument and comparison Cameron should be very worried. Very worried indeed!

  17. Just listened to the PM on the Today Programme on Friday. He practically gave the game away with his constant repetition of “global financial crisis” by saying “we’ve accepted it’s a global problem so you can’t blame me”. Evan Davis is hardly Jeff Randall or Simon Heffer and the PM made himself look (sound even) even more evasive and defensive than normal.

    My favourite part is near the end:-

    Davis: “Boom and bust is a term associated with you, I see you’re hanging your head as I say it…”
    Brown (interrupting): “I’m not hanging my head”

    Caught out on radio methinks there Mr Brown – he wouldn’t even use the words ‘boom and bust’.

  18. Who would fight for Gordon Brown.apart from SO19 ?

  19. Anthony, thanks for you response regarding votes of no confidence and extensions of parliament. Very interesting.

  20. there is a strong case for shortening the parliament to remove the worst government in modern history and restore confidence in the uk economy and debt market.

    i wonder if the queen would go for that ?

  21. This is just the beginning.

    The polls are going to keep tipping towards the Conservatives as the news gets bleaker and bleaker.

    The debt levels are truly stratospheric, the public sector liabilities are enormous and the private sector which has to fund both is in complete freefall.

    We are watching a slow-motion national disaster unfolding the likes of which haven’t been seen in living memory.

    A visit to the IMF in late 2009, early 2010 is looking distinctly likely, despite the protestations of our dear leader.

    While I admire labour supporters loyalty they are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think re-arranging the deckchairs on the titantic will make any difference to the election. It won’t matter who is leading them, the country will show absolutely no mercy at the ballot box.

    In fact I will make a prediction that May 2010 will probably see the worst election disaster for Labour since the 1920s

    It will make the 1997 Tory rout look like a walk in the park.

    I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to see a Tory win in the 48-52% range with a thumping 200+ seat majority.

  22. SImon – of course she wouldn’t. The monarch does not involve themselves in partisan party politics, not least because it would lead to a constitutional crisis that would likely end the monarchy. It would be a statement by the monarch that she would prefer David Cameron to Gordon Brown as PM, which is one she cannot make (indeed, for all we know she might very well not think it!) Clearly a lot of people don’t think this is the worst government, or 30% of people wouldn’t be saying they would vote Labour.

    There is no recent precedent in this country of a monarch dismissing a government. The most recent prededent in a Westminster style legislature is the Gough Whitlam affair in 1975, when the Australian Prime Minister was unable to get his budget passed by the Sentate, but was also unwilling to request a dissolution to resolve the impass (though he was willing to request a half-dissolution of the senate).

    The Australian Governor-General dismissed him, appointed the leader of the opposition on the agreement that they would immediately request a dissolution, which they did.

    The Governor-General Sir John Kerr, experienced angry demonstrations when he appeared afterwards and eventually resigned early from his post 2 years later.

  23. We could sure do with a new poll sometime soon. It’s getting harder to keep it non-partisan around here.

  24. When accessing this site I had another glance at the table on the right hand side which gives a fairly comprehensive record of the recent Opinion Poll history of the 3 main Party’s.

    In a serious attempt not to be too Partisan, it appears that, particularly in the case of Labour and the Conservatives, their share of the vote has risen and fallen rather like frequent ‘Tidal Waves’. Their support seems to me to be all over the shop!

    There appears to be a very high level of volatilaty in their support. This makes for fascinating politics for us ‘Anoraks’! but I think means that it will be almost impossible to predict the outcome of the next General Election.

    The one thing that I rekon we can be sure of is that one of the following will happen:

    A wafer thin outright Labour victory (possible)

    A Hung Parliament (Most Likely)

    A narrow Conservative victory (possible)

    A comfortable Conservative victory (also possible).

  25. On the wait for a new poll I’d say it’s something we may well have to get used to over the coming year for a number of reasons.

    We are in a recession,
    newspaper circulation is falling,
    Advertising revenue, particularly housing and cars is falling,
    A lot of energy and utility costs as high,
    Newspapers are cutting back on staff and spending,
    Companies are cutting back on advertising and market research,

    All this may well result in fewer political polls being commissioned, particularly if there is no prospect of a general election in the next year.

    It could be one of the main pollsters pulls out of a regular poll for a paper, the likes of the BBC cuts back on their occasional polls or a newspaper switches to a cheaper possibly not BPC pollster.

    In addition it might be that the Pollsters put more effort in to getting business clients in a shrinking market that chasing shrinking political work.

    YouGov as far as I can tell is well placed being highly regarded and low in debt although that is supposing it hasn’t paid to high a price in acquisitions to expand recently.


    if you are looking to meet and make new clients I think there are still spaces left at the SNP conference where being the Government we tend to attract the great and the (not so) good.

    On that subject it will be interesting to see the stall count at this years conferences as it’s a great indicator of who the private sector expects to be in charge in a years time. The government always does best but I’d expect the Labour conference to be a bit smaller and the Tories to be busier.


  26. @ James Thurston – my money would be on a comfortable Conservative majority unless something very unexpected happens (such as Gandalf coming to Brown’s aid, or a tsunami wiping out everywhere south of the Scottish border).

    It’s even possible that by the time the general election arrives we’ll be talking about a Tory landslide.

  27. Even if the economy does recover during 2009, the employment figures aren’t going to look good for a long time later, so I fail to see how Labour will be rewarded for the mess we are in and the geniune fear people are feeling. A 15%+ Tory victory is surely on the cards whenever the election is.

    Also, why are people talking about a parlimentary extension? Have I missed some news? There would be riots if that happened.

  28. a poll!!!

    hang on

  29. Apparently Tim Montgomery broke an embargo by Twittering about a 15% Tory lead tomorrow.

    I popped ver to Political Betting, who are now covering it.

    43/28/16 with Comres in tomorrows Indy.

    Labour down to 28%. what a speedy fall from grace!

  30. The ComRes result if true puts other on 13% which is quite high.

    It will be interesting to see the Scottish figures.

    Having said that I’ve always found ComRes to be one of the most erratic of the Pollsters so even if this looks bad for Labour I’ll wait a poll r two before I believe they have dipped below 30%.


  31. MIKE R

    You claim:

    ‘A 15%+ Tory victory is surely on the cards whenever the election is.’

    As I explained earlier the polls have over time been far too eratic. I would assume absolutely nothing even at this stage!

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