ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has topline figures, with changes from last month, of CON 44%(+6), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 16%(-3). The poll was conducted between the 23rd and 25th January.

The poll obviously shows a large and significant increase in Conservative support – the sort of large shift I’d normally urge some caution about if it wasn’t in line with the sort of movement all the other January polls have shown. All the polling companies are now showing the Conservatives back above the psychologically important 40% level, back in a double point lead, and back in an election winning position. Things are not as bad for Labour as they were in the summer, but clearly things are not headed in their direction. There can be no doubt that the tide has moved back against Labour, and we now have to see how far it falls, how this effects the media narrative and if there is anything they can do to turn it around once again.

Some of the comments in the previous post have looked at the cross breaks and concluded that this is the shift in C2 support I spoke about earlier today. I wouldn’t conclude that yet, as I said earlier on, the crossbreaks by class jump about wildly from poll to poll so I’d wait to see a couple of polls before concluding that. That said, while we haven’t the evidence to conclude it yet, it is a likely explanation – ABC1s were strongly Tory anyway, and DEs have hitherto been reluctant to move further towards the Conservatives.

Looking at other questions in the poll, 64% of people think the government’s economic strategy will have no effect or make things worse. Looking at the specifics, the VAT cut and increased public works are supported by 63% and 85% respectively (though as we saw in some of the polls last year, this doesn’t necessarily mean people think they will be effective), less popular is the government’s attitude to banks, 52% support underwriting bank lending, only 43% support the partial nationalisation of the banks (wholesale nationalisation would be less, not more, popular – backed by 40%). Cameron & Osborne are also back ahead of Brown & Darling as the team they’d trust more on the economy, albeit by only a point. I think that is the first time for a while that a question comparing the two teams has shown Cameron & Osborne ahead.

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35 Responses to “ICM show a 12 point Tory lead”

  1. About what was expected. A shame really. It doesn’t give us a lot extra to talk about.

    Where will the political world take us next on this polling roller-coaster? Will the Tories actually hold onto the lead this time or will they let Labour claw it back against all odds again? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  2. There does seem to be about 6 or 7 percentage points of the intend to vote electorate that is casting around for which of the two main parties on economic competence.
    The next few months could be the point where the Tories solidify their lead amongst those people,
    but there remains a chance that Labour keeps up the do nothing/bankers party line and it changes again.

    Not only will we just have to see…but inevitably we will all do exactly that.

  3. Perhaps 6 or 7 is a bit of an exaggeration, but certainly several points – 4 or 5.

  4. I was bang on target with my guess that the Cons would get 44% but I’m rather surprised that Labour was as high as 32% and the Lib Dems as little as 16%. It doesn’t quite match up with the recent history of the polls.

    This is just one poll and all that. Still it confirms the general trend.

    One piece of good news for the government that came some days ago was British Gas’ announcement that it will reduce gas prices by 10% in February. This may have had an impact on this poll.

  5. This Labour peers scandal must be delighting Cameron. It is all so familiar to the vibe of the Major years and simply adds to the perception that…..

    ‘it is time for a change’.

    We could see a 20% lead by Easter.

  6. Does anybody else think the LibDems seem to be polling lower than sounds accurate? My guess would be that they should be at minimum 20%, but the last few polls have shown them in the mid – late teens. Does anyone know whather they generally do better in elections than in polls?

    By the way, I am not a LibDem myself, I just think they will do a bit better than that, despie Nick Clegg.

  7. not much change in the monthly figures, hear are the changes with difrerance’s from the last set i posted

    CON 43.0% up 0.2%

    LAB 31.6% up 0.1%

    LD 15.4% up 0.1%

    OTH 10.0% dn 0.4%

    however if you contrast that to december 08 it works out as:

    CON +3.5%
    LAB -3.3%
    LD +0.3%
    OTH -0.5%

    a clear swing from LAB to CON, and a small up turn in the LD vote. all this breaks down as

    CON 357 SEATS +146
    LAB 239 SEATS -107
    LD 25 SEATS -40
    OTH 29 SEATS +1

    CON MAJ 64

  8. WMA 43:31:16 so very much in line. Having said which the Retrospectives suggest that the real CLead *may* be a couple of points higher.

    Comparing the previous deflation of a Brown Bounce it seems that it may be happening a bit faster (it took 47 days for the CLead to grow to 12 vs 42 now, and that’s disregarding the Christmas break) and that the major parties are both polling higher (it was 41:29:19 on 25/4).

    Rachel Sylverster in The Times is interesting today.

  9. Neil,
    “Does anybody else think the LibDems seem to be polling lower than sounds accurate?”

    They’ve been slowly losing share for two years now. I suspect that the more centre-right element of their support has gradually drifted over to the Cons over that time.
    With a more centrist agenda and masterstrokes like Ken Clarks promotion those that were put off the Tories in ’97 (that couldn’t stomach voing Labour) have gone back to type. I doubt the Liberals will get many back before an election now.

    The battleground they should be fighting is with Labour in a bid to mop up the protest vote in areas the Tories have no chance.

    If they don’t shift policy a little to the left soon though I think we’ll see them well and truely squeezed on election night, extra coverage or not, with 16% if their lucky.

  10. I agree entirely with you Ivan about LibDem’s strategy.

    There is a vacuum to fill on the left-and it will be huge if NewLabour are crushed at the GE. That’s where they should be headed, instead of trying to out-Cameron, Cameron.

  11. On the same theme it would appear that a similar shift (on the meagre evidence we have) is occuring in Scotland too.

    Two or three exrta seats in Scotland could be up for grabs which, though a small victory, would at least be something to build on. It would be a dream come true for the Conservatives.

  12. Swing analysis suggests a 9.4% swing from the 2005 polls towards the Tories, giving voting intention of 44/28/15 and a 128 seat conservative majority.

    Anthony – while I’m doing these, have you any reason to suspect that pollsters have significantly changed their methods since 2005 that would affect the swing (e.g. they already take into account that Labour pick up a lower percentage vote than polls suggest)?

  13. I think the open letter from Barclays yesterday might mark an easing of the banking crisis for a while and may result in a recovery of Labour’s vote. It felt to me that last week was so dismal that it might well represent a bottom in terms of economic, and hence political, sentiment.

  14. @ AngusA

    I hope you are right, but I don’t think you are. I’m afraid that I can’t see the economy (and hence Labours fortunes) turning for the better anytime this year

    Also, perople are fed up with this government, and the “Time for a Change” sentiment that swept the country before the ’97 election seems to be sweeping the country again

    Economic recovery or not, I think that there will be a change of government next year

  15. MARK M: “Where will the political world take us next on this polling roller-coaster? Will the Tories actually hold onto the lead this time or will they let Labour claw it back against all odds again? ”

    Yes, this is the thing for me – the volatility of it all. I know someone on another thread recently said that Labour seemed to’ve found the eye of the storm before Christmas which made it look as if they were clawing back – and while it’s a nice metaphor, there are no eyes of storms when it comes to electoral advantage/disadvantage.

    And just to be clear – volatility doesn’t mean ‘rogue polls’! Volatility is that in early autumn it was all going the Tories way; then it begins to swing towards Labour; and now – in the course of just three weeks – we’re suddenly seeing double digit Tory leads again.

    I’m not disputing the polls – this is clearly happening. It’s just – where will this put us next month, let along come May? I’m not convinced that these big swings necessarily mean that they’re ‘safe’ for Cameron et al – it’s too easy to say that the British electorate have woken up and smelled the coffee.

    Anthony – I know this is just me being lazy, but when was the last time we had such volatility in the polls and is there anything we can learn from that?

  16. Adam C

    I’m not sure what the polls are saying now but it certainly used to be the case that Cameron was the preferred post-recession PM suggesting that if there is an economic recovery before the election, we are more likely to see a change of government.

  17. @ Osbak – the polls have indeed been volatile, but there’s been some consistency too. For example, they never became quite volatile enough to put Labour back in the lead. With regards Labour, the volatility seems only to occur along the spectrum between “pretty bad” and “utterly dreadful”.

  18. To me it seems that people got a bit excited about the prospect of tax cuts – these things are always popular – and then when they turned out to be a little underwhelming, they are going back to the traditional tax-cutting party, all the while hoping the recession won’t take their jobs away.

    As for the state of the left after the coming next GE defeat we generally expect to see, I just think it will be one big mess – much worse than the mess left over after the 1979 election. New labour is badly overstretched in terms of trying to broaden its appeal, that can work when you’re in power, but just after a heavy defeat, probably not.

  19. Quite a mixed bag above – none of the usual contributors. Not much ro say about this POLL apart from the obvious – just another POLLSTER joining the throng.

    At least now we get a better picture than just relying on YouGov for the accurate picture.

    Certainly interesting to see so many POLLS all coming out at the same time – after a long lull.

    I wonder why ?

  20. Mike,
    “Quite a mixed bag above – none of the usual contributors”

    Several names I recognise. Perhaps you should visit more often! :-)

    Why a sudden rush of polls? just back to normal after the Christmas break I guess. More papers being sold/ thirst for news etc.

  21. @ James Ludlow – yep, I agree that “there’s been some consistency too”. It’s not any inter-poll volatility that’s getting me scratching my head but the overall pattern of high Tory lead, low lead, high lead over a matter of around 16 weeks.

    That just seems to be a bit too much of a rollercoaster to have reached it’s natural level at this stage. I’d just caution people (both Labour and Tory, though unfortunately there doesn’t really seem to be much need for LibDems to heed this advice) to keep the champagne on ice . . .

    Hi Mike – really, The Oracle asking questions? Tsk . . .

  22. Anthony -is there any chance of adding significant events tags( like the ones on the pre-2005 GE graphs under Historical Polling) to the post 2005 GE graph.

    They certainly add something to an understanding of the trends.

    The Leadership changes, and the credit crunch onset ( Northern Rock ?) come to mind.

    The 83-87 panel is not clickable-or is it me?


  23. @ Osbak – yes, it’s been a strange 3 months in poll terms. I think it probably just comes down to the economic crisis making people jittery. As we haven’t had an economic crime of this scale since Methuselah was a young man, we don’t have any polling figures to compare it with. It would be interesting if we did, though I suppose there are so many other variable also in play such a comparison might not be all that useful after all.

    I suspect that in a crisis people want to put their trust in the government so we see some of that from time to time, but this government has a lot of baggage and is looking frayed and clueless so a lot of people are blowing lukewarm and cold with it. But I’m just speculating, obviously.

  24. the current polling- would see the key seats from the seven to the trent go to the conservatives and could also see some small conservative majoritys in other seats.

  25. Angusa – I think the open letter from Barclays yesterday might mark an easing of the banking crisis for a while and may result in a recovery of Labour’s vote.

    Sadly for Labour I dont think Barclays’ good fortune will make a lot of difference to Labour’s vote.
    This, I feel, is because Barclays were not involved in Brown’s bail-out and so managed to find themselves in this position due to a simple act of honest disclosure which, in turn was rewarded with renewed trust by investors.
    This is rather unfortunate for Brown, as it may give the rather mixed message that if the other high street banks had shown similar contrition, then renewed investment in them could have likewise resulted, thereby doing away with the need for Brown’s panic measures of billions of pounds of fiscal underpinning.
    Now, I am not an economist, so the above two paragraphs maybe totally testicular!
    But I do feel that Labour’s fortunes are fast ebbing away purely because Brown looks more and more like a rabbit caught in the glare of the recession’s headlights, since his horrendously massive borrowing gamble seems to have failed. Now without a plan B and identified as being bankrupt of further ideas, Brown has resorted to his usual strategy of attending futile summit after futile summit, amidst a cloud of bluster and bombast in an attempt to disguise the fact that he has finally been rumbled by the electorate

  26. Tony,
    Interesting angle on Barclays that I had not thought about myself. I agree entirely.

    If the media narrative changes from its current position (that the bank bail outs were generally a good idea) to a more mixed or opposing one then Labour will be finished electoraly.

  27. The Treasury Select Comittee has concluded that Bank Bailout 1 did not improve credit availability because of the way it was constructed.

    A CBI survey concludes that VAT reduction had no effect in January.

    Germany’s reduction in personal taxation produces first signs of increasing consumer confidence.

    Sleeze in the Lords hits Labour & Cameron seizes the initiative.

    Brown is losing control of the agenda. If he doesn’t pull a rabbit from the hat soon he could see that 30% floor collapse.

  28. TonyK, I was thinking more in terms of Barclays affect on the mood music of the country. If Labour’s poll ratings are tracking the feeling of doom and gloom that has been very strong recently then they may recover a bit if, as I think, it eases up a bit in the next couple of months. If, as you say, Brown is a busted flush and people increasing come around to that point of view then we should see Labour’s poll ratings track that and continue to fall.

  29. Angusa

    I think the trend Anthony identified was due to economic optimism linked to government action. Barclays was very publicly not involved in the bailout and by posting better than expected results have shown up Mr Brown’s latest position of “government action is the only solution”.

    In fact, it could almost be argued that government action achieved exactly what could have been achieved privately, except with the shotgun wedding of Lloyds TSB with HBOS destroying the value of Lloyds, looked upon as the ‘safe bank’ when everything started going down the pan.

    I would expect Labour’s position to increase with economic confidence only if it is seen that Labour’s policies are making things better. If Barclay’s show that it was possible for banks to make it through the crisis on their own then I wouldn’t expect a jump in Labour support with improved confidence.

  30. Good to see the thread on this has returned to polling, as opposed to a few recently that had some contributors writing essays in support of their own political opinion

    Angusa makes an interesting point, but I think it would have to be rather more than just a recovery of Barclays to have an effect on the polls for Labour. Also it may be noticed that barclays has not received any public money. The banks that have are still very much in the doldrums, and show no sign of lending. No “green shoots” = no recovery at all for Gordon “Hubris” Brown.

  31. MarkM & NigelJ, I think that what you both say is very true but does the general public make these nuanced distinctions about funding or do they just think that the banks are recovering and therefore government policy is working?

  32. The polls are definitely volatile.

    In fact they are so volatile that they seem to have taken on a cyclical nature. Fancy that – Brown hasn’t abolished boom and bust, he’s introduced it on a 6-month cycle into the polls!

    Can we trust the polls?

    One thing is for certain, the rapidly changing economic climate added to the radical changes to social relationships is having a combination effect which is radically realigning voter opinion. We might be able to trust them for that moment in time, but I wouldn’t trust them to have any relevance further than 1 week ahead. Margin of Error is an absolute non-sequitur.

    So don’t be surprised if Brown charges into a 20pt lead by Easter and calls a snap election, before being beaten resoundingly.

    It’s that bad – people are changing their minds on an almost daily basis – which is the ideal breeding ground for polarisation and radicalisation of opinion. Scary times indeed.

  33. Some psyche 101: –

    We usually use insults of other people which we feel would hurt them most, but this is based on our own opinion of what would hurt us.

    For example people call others fat who are themselves have either low self esteem or fat.

    It makes PMQ’s more interesting for both parties

  34. sorry that should read: –

    Some psyche 101: –

    We usually use insults for other people which we feel will hurt them most, but this is based on our own opinion of what would hurt us.

    For example people call others fat who themselves have either low self esteem or are fat.

    It makes PMQ’s more interesting for both parties

    Maybe Gordon is scared that doing nothing is the thing percieved oppinion of himself?

    David could be worried about people linking past economic failures to him and his team?

    Please take this further, the method work (simple as it is). Maybe it’s something worth exploiting in the months ahead.