ComRes’s monthly poll for the Independent has topline figures, with changes from ComRes’s last poll a week and a half ago, of CON 43%(+2), LAB 28%(-4), LDEM 16%(+1). There are no dates yet, but on normal timetables it would have been conducted between the 23rd and 25th.

This leaves ICM as the only pollster still showing a Conservative lead lower than 10 points, and they haven’t published a poll since mid-December (the fieldwork should have been completed today, and we can expect to see the figures tomorrow evening). This however is the first poll since back in September to show Labour falling below thirty percent.

Incidentally, the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dems figures in this poll imply that “others” are all the way up on 13 percent. ComRes do tend to produce very high figures for the minor parties – for some reason they tend to weight people who voted for “other” parties to a far higher figure than other pollsters.

UPDATE: The full tables are here. Two things are worth highlighting – firstly, Brown & Darling’s lead as the team people would prefer to steer the British economy through the downturn appears to have fallen from 19 points to 2 points. Look carefully though – the previous time the question was asked was in a poll for the BBC’s Daily Politics, which wouldn’t have been politically weighted, while this question was. Questions like this are highly correlated with voting intention, so the two questions are not comparable.

Secondly, 49% of people agreed with the statement that “The Conservative team around David Cameron are lightweight”, with 38% disagreeing. This compares to figures in November (in a weighted poll, so entirely comparable this time) of 48% agreeing and 35% disagreeing. There is a slight shift in favour of the Conservatives, but nothing worth writing home about, suggesting Ken Clarke’s return to the Tory front bench hasn’t had an immediate impact on how heavyweight it seems, though naturally, these things can take time to sink in.

UPDATE2: It was actually conducted between the 21st and 22nd January, so the middle of last week.


53 Responses to “ComRes too show a double digit Tory lead”

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  1. The LibDem change from last week’s Comres poll is +1 not -1 hence Others +1 not the implied +3 .

  2. So, irrespective of the movement, is the 13% “others” correct, speaking as one of those “others”, and a former fan of Lost?

  3. The Conservatives would be well advised to avoid complacency, especially after what happened to the polls in the autumn. But there is no doubt this poll is disastrous news for Labour.

  4. James – there is no “right” answer for past vote weighting, it is largely a matter of judgement.

    Personally I think ComRes are weighting “others” too highly, given they are weighting them above what they actually got at the last election, when I would expect false recall to work the other way around.

  5. Well,

    I said on Friday that we could expect Tory leads in the teens in the next few polls..

    Not claiming to be an Oracle, merely surprised to see the drop below 30 for Labour happen so soon.

  6. This pretty much consolidates the trend we’ve seen in the last four polls – Tories gains as Labour support slides back down into the 20s.

    Obvious factors are the impact of the economic crisis, the increasingly gloomy predictions, and Brown’s decline again into dithering and dismalness. Perhaps too a touch of a Ken Clarke effect – suddenly the Tory front bench looks a lot meatier (literally and metaphorically),

    Bad news indeed for Labour – and now with a big sleaze story involving four Labour peers looking likely to dominate the headlines for a while.

    Can Labour’s Obama-inspired online initiative reverse the trend? I doubt it somehow.

  7. I’m not sure how big an impact the Labour peer story will affect the government, as many dont see a direct connection between the Lords and the Commons, so this may well not cause a sudden increased slump in Labour support.
    In addition, the effect of Clarke being returned to the front bench may not be a massive boost to the Tories purely because – as demonstrated by Caroline Flint on ‘Question Time’ last Thursday – many cannot clearly remember Ken Clarke in his prime!
    However, once he has delivered a few onslaughts in his owm inimitable style during PMDs, then the true value of his re-introduction to the Shadow Front Bench will be reflected in an increase in Tory support.
    However, what is particularly damning for this governement, is Brown’s admission that he never saw this recession coming!!
    What on earth was he doing when Chancellor???
    And apart from the obvious, what on earth has been doing since – particularly as we all know that Darling is nothing more than Brown’s mouthpiece??
    As a Tory supporter, I would have respected Brown far more had he chosen to go for a GE in the first few months of this year – when he could have even pulled off a slim, but incredible victory – but all that he can expect now is to be at the receiving end of either a mere bloodbath or an total massacre.

  8. Scottish figures are;

    Lab 28%, Tory 21%, LibDem 15%, SNP 32%, Others 4%.

    That compares to a ComRes monthly poll average for 2008 of;

    Lab 30%, Tory 16%, LibDem 14%, SNP 33%, Others 7%.

    Comres do however jump about a fair bit although there average for the year is close to both YouGov and Populus.

    Labour have only been lower than this in 4 of the last thirteen polls, although one of them was a bizare 18%. The other three cluster around 26-27%.

    For the Tories this represents as high as there highest which was in Feb but agans the scores do bounce around with Dec and Jan at 12% & 13%.

    For the SNP it represents a small fall back from the last two months.

    The biggest drop seems to be the “Others” but as Anthony has said Comres do seem to have high other scores.

    All in all given recent news a small rise for the Tories isn’t unexpected.

    Peter.

  9. It seems that my prediction of a steady Tory climb is coming true….Perhaps a little quicker than I expected.

    Again, this poll serves to confirm others but the significant thing for me could be Labour crashing back through the 30% barrier if it is supported by ICM tomorrow evening.

    I think 30% is a psychological marker.

    One way or another it is bad news for Gordon Brown and I think he will have to get accustomed to it because he will see little else in his remaining tenure of office.

  10. “Brown’s admission that he never saw this recession coming!!”

    This explains why we are not the best placed to see out this recession, and why the pound has fallen so far. Brown didn’t think recession would come, and so he didn’t prepare for it.

    If you live in a flood prone region, you have defences for your home. Brown sold these because we had a few dry years with no floods and he assumed the floods had gone forever. This year, it has poured down and because we spent all the money we can’t afford to buy any sandbags.

    Note for whoever the next government is – recessions happen. When they are not happening, prepare for them.

  11. Fieldwork was Wednesday and Thursday. They’ve held onto it for a while.

  12. Before the conference season I likened Brown’s Labour as entering a storm. Amazingly, they managed to find the eye of the storm with the result that many were lulled into a false sense of security.

    Just how much damage is done to the economy and thus to Labour during the next 16 months I think is very difficult to say.

    I really hope we don’t reach 3 million unemployed. But even the inevitable rise above 2 million is likely to cause Labour’s popularity to drop measurably.

  13. I guess the ICM poll will show Con 44 Lab 27 Lib Dem 19. This would be consistent with recent passed polling by ICM and the present trend.

  14. the monthly totals for JAN 2009 so far are

    CON 42.8% 355 SEATS CON MAJ 60
    LAB 31.5% 239 SEATS
    LD 15.3% 26 SEATS
    OTH 10.4% 30 SEATS

    however if ICM come out bad for labour tomorrow then the labour vote for the month could drop to 30-30.5% a low point not seen since the end of last year around mid october.

  15. WMA 43:31:16 and from the Retrospectives it seems that the real CLead may well higher. So far the collapse of the latest “Brown Bounce” is following a similar trajectory as the previous onewas also showing a CLead of just over 10% 42 days after the peak. However I don’t think there will be a 4th Brown Bounce. Indeed we cannot rule out an Iceland-style situation: it is hard to see how there can be an economic recovery until there is a government that people can trust.

  16. I never thought that I would hear myself saying this, but as a Labour supporter since 1991, I think that it is time for GB to step down while he still has some dignity intect. Let the Tories mess things up for 5 years, then the Labour party can come back refreshed.

    The danger with hanging on for the next 16 months is that Labour will dig themselves into a bigger and bigger hole, and get destroyed at the election, like the Tories have been, we could then be out in the wilderness for another 18 years as we were before.

    Think of the party GB, and step down

  17. More people polled prepared to vote Tory than think they are not lightweight. (43% – 38%) Some non Tory supporters may be part of the 38% so it could be more than 5%.
    Confirms this is mainly an anti Government protest and Tories will struggle as things stand to beat 40% in a GE which depending on split and marginals could cost them outright victory.
    For the conservatives to be confident they need 2 things, Labour polling well below 30 for a month or so (this may happen) and to be getting over 45% themselves consistently.
    The right strategy may be for Cammo to keep smiling (copyright Colin) and let Labour lose but to be sure they need to get more positive support.
    One thing for certain we will have to wait until 2010 for the G.E.

  18. Hi Anthony, all I meant was “what were the correct topline figures from this poll?” at the point at which that was in doubt.

    Labour must be rueing the October 2007 election-that-never-was all the more every day.

  19. The polls sure are rattling around at the moment!

    I’m looking forward to seeing what the Obama effect will be now that Brown and Cameron are voluntarily ceding the agenda to him.

    I guess we won’t be able to ascertain how this has fed through the the UK polls until it becomes clearer what kind of action he undertakes.

    So far he can’t be judged to be favouring either Brown or Cameron’s line on the economy therefore his first 100 days in office is guaranteed to create a frenzy as all sides attempt to sidle up to him!

  20. Jim Jam – no, you can’t compare the figures like that. The voting intention figures are repercentaged to include people who won’t vote or say don’t know, and are also weighted by past vote. The other questions aren’t.

    The percentage of the total sample who said they would vote Conservative tomorrow is about 33%, so less than the number who disagreed with the statement.

  21. My swing analysis gives 43/27/15 after this latest poll, a very healthy Conservative lead.

    I try to take into account the poor performance of Labour in elections compared to polls by looking at the swing from each pollsters results from polls conducted around the last election. I’m sure there are some flaws in this method, but I do get very close to the actual 2005 election result using the swing from 2001 (Swing gives 33/35/23 compared to the actual 32/35/22).

  22. Jim Jam,
    “More people polled prepared to vote Tory than think they are not lightweight. (43% – 38%)”
    “Confirms this is mainly an anti Government protest and Tories will struggle as things stand to beat 40% in a GE”

    About 40% of TORY voters in the poll agreed that they were lightweight! They can’t ALL be ‘protesting’.
    Lots of young faces that haven’t yet had the saturation coverage an election would bring. There are afair few undecideds too.

    I think you’re clutching at straws. On the lightweight/Heavyweight front there is only one way the Conservative front bench is heading in peoples minds. More coverage will result in a higher opinion in my mind not the opposite.

  23. Anthony. How does ComRes present the question re C& O about competence? Seems to me a big difference between- “Are C%O lightweight?” and “Choose between following descriptions of C&O”.Surely the first is a leading question.

  24. @Adam

    “The danger with hanging on for the next 16 months is that Labour will dig themselves into a bigger and bigger hole, and get destroyed at the election, like the Tories have been, we could then be out in the wilderness for another 18 years as we were before”

    There’s the rub though, the way Labour destroyed the economy through tax, borrow and spend in the 1970s meant they deserved almost two decades out while the country was put back together.

    This round of tax, borrow and spend has all the halmarks of being a LOT worse than last time, so if its another 18+ years there can be no real complaints.

    The accounts are an unmitigated disaster and they are only going to get worse. Labour have signed their own death warrants.

    Again.

    Once the full horror of the situation dawns on the electorate, Labour will do well to poll above 24%.

  25. Collin

    It was presented as “The Conservative team around DC is lightweight. Agree or disagree?”

    On that basis, I would suspect that a lot of the 13% “don’t knows” are those who don’t think they are lightweight, but also don’t think they are heavyweight enough to disagree with the statement.

  26. @ Thomas – I don’t think “the Obama factor” is going to make any difference no matter what path Obama follows. The US economy is not the British economy and Brown’s policies aren’t going to suddenly start looking impressive if Obama adopts some vaguely similar (but in reality rather different) policy.

    If anything, I think Obama’s freshness and dynamism simply further underlies the weariness and desperation of the dying Labour government.

  27. I would be very concerned now if I was the labour party, even more so the government (more and more they seem to be different).

    If the opposition was being veiwed by the masses as being more heavyweight and effective than the government, then this result could almost be forgiven. What is actually being said is “we don’t mind how bad the other lot are, they must be better than you”. If the conservitive naratives start to show that they really do have substance (Come on Ken), then I think Labour have to change leader well ahead of conference season / maybe even the June elections – not to stand a chance of winning, but to stand a chance of not being the third party come next year.

    As a Tory supporter, I am really hoping the Lib Dems stick to their latest campaign of saying the Tories don’t offer change, as it will be easier for them to obtain more core labour protest voters from Labour (something any Tory party will struggle with).

  28. Barring an unexpected by election the next test at the real polls comes in four months time at the Euro/ English Council elections. How bad do the results have to be to force the resignation of Mr Brown? I don’t know but there has to be a tipping point somewhere. Any ideas anyone?

  29. Hidden away in the columns of the ‘Sunday Times’ yesterday was this little gem. Apparantly the head of the Inland Revenue is writing to John Swinney to tell him that there is no legal basis for raising a local income tax in Scotland and that his department will not act as a collecting agency.
    If this report is true and it seems to be where do the SNP go from here? Without the cooperation of the tax collectors how is it possible to devise a system which can replicate their role?

  30. Personally I think it unlikely that Brown will go “quietly into the night” – more likely it will take a vote of no confidence (even then I’m not sure the results are conclusive, as I’m sure he still has to resign and cannot be forced out). I think he will fight tooth and droop jaw to stay in power as long as he can. I’m not sure (unlike likeable tony) he has much of a career after number 10. Could you imaging him as an after dinner speaker. If he went on a world cruise entertaining guests there’d be a “man over board” shout very soon after leaving dock.

    I’m not sure he’s ever had a proper job, so not sure what he would return to. Maybe he could takeover from Nick Robinson as the unbiased face of the BBC.

  31. I don’t think there is a point where he would resign. He is a bit like Major in that way, will hang on until the very last. Even Simon Heffer in the Telegraph thinks that the 1997 election was held around 4 years too late and that cost the Tories the 97 and 01 landslides.

    As we’ve seen in the past decade, a government without credible opposition gets complacent. Even as a Tory I don’t want Labour to be unelectable for a decade as we could then end up with a government that is just as much of a shower as this current lot.

  32. I am now fullysucked into this site. As I have said before, I do not understand opinion polls and the fickle nature of the general public, but one thing i can say for sure is that i am finding other peoples predictions and view points very educational. Thank you.

  33. @ Keir – I don’t think he’ll resign either (though he seems, umm, psychologically frail to me and might crack up and depart in a white van instead). A leadership challenge is a possibility but after Milliband’s feeble will he/won’t he/have a banana performance last year, I don’t see where a viable challenge is going to come from. There seems a dearth of leadership quality talent in the parliamentary Labour Party right now, which is why Brown succeeded to the premiership without contest in the first place.

    On the other hand, I just can’t see how Labour can cling on to power for another 17 months under these circumstances. I suspect we may be looking at Tory support registering in the high 40s and even 50 in the coming months while the government continues its out-of-control tailspin. The crash-and-burn surely has to happen earlier than in 17 months times.

  34. Even an unabashed straw clutcher like myself has to agree Kier’s question, which as I understand it is how bad would it be for the Government if The Conservatives weren’t seen as light weight by as many people, – is a good one.
    Alternative question is will more people see them as lighweight as they get scrutinised more?
    Thanks to Anthony’s rejoiner, I acknowledge, they have enough already respondents considering them heavyweight enough as it is.
    Straw clutching says Obama’s actions mirror GB’s more closely, the Economy picks up in the final 1/4 09, Clarke can’t keep mouth shut over Europe, and Labour prevent melt-down in May 10.
    Reckon GB will hang on but if forced out by the Labour Party no younger cabinet ministers would accept the task of losing the election – better to come back as leader after losing again in 14/15 to fight 18/19.
    So caretaker would be an old hand who would enjoy being PM for even a few months – Straw perhaps or maybe Beckett who has been more loyal.

  35. Asking the question about the Conservative frontbench team being ‘lighweight’ is a bit irrelevant if you don’t ask a similar question about the Government frontbench.

    It may be that lots of people feel that DC’s team is lightweight, but even more people feel that Gordon Brown’s team are incompetent?

  36. MarkM. Thank you. Still looks like a leading question to me. If the question were “C & O are a reliable team on the economy – Agree or disagree?” You would get a quite different answer.

  37. Nick,

    “Where do the SNP go from here?”

    It leaves us exactly where we were.

    It has always been the case that once Holyrood agreed on LIT, it would be down to Westminster to instruct the IR to collect it on Scotland’s behalf, either by a government directive or legislation at Westminster.

    This is in many respects an artificial argument in that most government proposals aren’t legal till legislation has made them so.

    This is a bit like the MOD issuing a statement saying it has no power to invade Zimbabwe without government permission.

    If this does raise an issue it’s this;

    If in the next year the Scottish Parliament passes legislation to bring in LIT in the run up to both a Westminster election and an Independence referendum, does the government and/or Westminster block it and make it an election or constitutional issue.

    I am tempted to do a Wendy and say;

    “Bring it on”.

    Peter.

  38. @Jim Jam – how about prescott?

    Come on now, even if Obama said that Gordon was where he got all of ideas and ideals from and that Gordon was actually his most trusted advisor, I can’t see it making that much difference to GB. Obama is under fire in the US (although he does have the majority of the world backing him in good will etc) GB does not have that (no matter what he says). Labour supporters need to act now if they want to save their party. Labour supporters need a new leader now. Labour supports need to stop thinking about what can save Gordon Brown (as he has managed to make them do so far) and think about how they will save the Party. The Tories want Brown to stay.

  39. Collin – completely agree with you on the “lightweight” question. i would be interested whether this question used about labour before 1997? I always thought that Blair came across as a lightweight ( as do most of todays cabinet) .Many commentators in the US thought TB was a lightwt, and many described him as “camp” . It didn’t stop him being elected three times without defeat. Maybe it is a question that has been introduced at the behest of the Labour spinmeisters.

  40. Jim Jam – your scenario would see labour “clutching at Straw” haha

  41. Jim Jam – just read your post again – PM Beckett -ahhh, and I thought Brown was bad!

    That would be an interesting poll to do though- who can you think of as a less appealing PM than Gordon Brown? – I think mrs Bucket might win!

  42. Keir
    you are quite right as a Conservative voter the best thing for us is for Brown to stay as he could never win an election in with Jim Jam’s straw clutching scenario.

    However as a passionate Brit I hope he goes sooner rather than later as he is destroying the public finances and with that our ability to deliver better schools, hospitals and other essential public services.

  43. CharlieJ,

    I agree with you entirely. As a Conservative I say it would be great if Gordon clung on, but the country does have to come first. I think it is a case of striking a balance between his staying long enough to ensure Labour get kicked into the wilderness, but not long enough to make the economy irrecoverable.

  44. Interesting to see that the last time ComRes gave a Tory lead above 15% was way back in early september 2008 – all the POLLSTERS seem to be on a similar footing at the moment and have come into line with the revered “Oracle”.

    I do like my predictions backed up with proof in the POLLS.

    Everyone seems to be getting so excited on here about the next election – it’s a long way off (even further off if you are one of millions of people who are struggling to get by day to day under this regime).

    Remember my prediction – especially the Labour hanger on’s on here, waiting for a miracle to happen – your party will have vanished within months after the next election – the signs of the break up will already be visible by the end of this year – “cut and paste”.

    Oh yeah – please stop talking about Barack Hussein Obama – he will only be a flash in the pan – he certainly won’t affect anything happening in the UK and won’t win a 2nd term in office – “cut and paste”.

  45. Obama will be delighted to hear Oracle’s prediction!!

    I agee with those that say that Brown should call an election soon. The longer this goes – the worse this gets for Labour.

    If Brown insists on dragging this out then all he’ll achieve is a devastation of his party. Labour will be able to look forward to Opposition for 12 years.

  46. Peter

    I find it hard to believe that an SNP driven proposal on LIT -upon which my local Lib Dem MSP has gone distinctly cool -will get past the Westminster parliament or government. It won’t be blocked just shelved whilst a committee examines it up to the time Mr Brown calls an election. Such a committee will no doubt be hijacked by the anti -Barnett formula brigade to boot.
    After the election we are in a new ball game and whose knows what will happen. But this side of an election I predict LIT will be sidelined.

  47. Nick – you might like to know that the HMRC system already has the coding in place for LIT as the SVR as it was called then in 1999 just needs the go ahead by an Act of Parliament. Lots of hot air and hogwash from the HMRC person. He has a lot to answer for with his department in a mess. Nothing under £10,000 owed being collected – if you under-state your income by at least £5000 nothing happens as it is not being looked at. I don’t know how the Government will raise the tax during this recession when they are reducing HMRC staff and the place in choas – all the small offices with the experienced staff being shut. Doesn’t make sense. Be interesting to see if these closures will have an effect in marginal seats.

  48. This poll seems to tie in with the Ian Dale observatioon you are reporting : the C2s have gone back to the Tories. The recession has gone on from the financial sector crisis to hurt this group.

    It seems that there is a group of about 5% of the electorate which is readily prepared to change voting intentions almost at whim according to its economic interests. When, as most of the time, these people are going for the Tories we get, as before, polls similar to this one. When they go for Labour we get results like last Autumn. Except for quick transitions, we don’t get many polls in between.

    This observation tends to confirm in my mind an observation I posted toward the end of last year. We should think not so much of steady swings in voting intentions, but discontinous changes in the state of these intentions, which mathematical catastrophe theory should help us understand.

    it is difficult to see what Labour can do now to get the C2s back.

  49. Hi Marcia,
    Whatever the rights and wrongs of the SNP’s local income tax (currently better understood as a national salary tax), it’s not the same as the Scottish Variable Rate. The latter covers the basic rate of income tax payable in Scotland, and would be received (or paid for) by the Scottish Government were it ever to be used, and the former is a tax to support local council spending.

    James

  50. This could be a bit of an outlyer, but it does indicate that the government is going to struggle politically when it’s back to the domestic grind on the economy, as opposed to that period from September onwards where the banks were the lightning conductor.

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