I’m expecting two new polls tonight, ComRes in the Sunday Indy and possibly YouGov in the Sunday Times. ComRes is the first to arrive. The topline figures, with changes from ComRes’s last poll, are CON 41%(-2), LAB 25% (-3), LDEM 22% (+6). The poll was carried out on the 11th and 12th February.

That’s now the third poll in a poll showing a significant jump in Lib Dem support – the sheer size of their increase in that first ICM poll looked suspicious, but Populus and ComRes have now pretty much confirmed that there is some sort of increase in their support. It looks as though while the decline in Labour under Brown has up to now gone largely to the Conservatives, a significant chunk of support is now also going over to the Lib Dems.

As well as the increase in the Lib Dem figure, I should also note that this is the largest Conservative lead from any pollster since October, the lowest level of Labour support since September. It’s also the lowest gap between Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the polls since – I think – 2003 after the Brent East by-election. Last Summer when Labour collapsed in a similar fashion in the polls I used to occassionally ponder what the political reaction would be if the Lib Dems overtook Labour, it could be a real game changer. It’s starting to look possible again.

46 Responses to “Now ComRes shows a Lib Dem boost”

  1. WOW – nuff said

    Seriously though this is incredible. Surely the time for Gordon to go is nigh. Labour to become the 3rd Party? How long has it been since Labour did that to the Lib’s. Maybe as long ago as my namesake Keir Hardy. Labour won’t want to wait that long to get back in surely.

    again WOW

  2. Could this be that the impact of the steady drip, drip, drip of common sense on the economy from Vince Cable is at last having on impact on the Liberal Democrats’ poll ratings?

  3. All is possible… but I would expect a steady drip-drip to have had a steady effect, rather than a sudden one.

    On top of that, the public profile of most politicans beyond the leaders, even ones on the news as much as Vince Cable, is stunningly low.

    The general rule that it’s governments that lose elections, rather than oppositions winning them also applies. My guess is that what has happened is that the collapse in Labour’s support is getting to the point where there are more traditional, liberal or left wing Labour voters who are now peeling away and want to vote against them, but couldn’t possibly ever bring themselves to vote Conservative.

  4. This is very interesting. I wonder if the Lib Dems are losing support to the Tories in the South but gaining more (than they’re losing in the South) from them in the North. I can see myself, as a Tory, being tempted by the Lib Dems if I lived in some places, such as Newcastle. I wonder if the next election will see cities like Newcastle and Manchester return huge numbers of Lib Dem MPs, while cities like Birmingham and Coventry go Tory.

    Are any of the polls broken up regionally or are there any regional polls to compare?

  5. Anthony’s analysis seems good to me.Can I also raise the point that if LibDem support can get to the mid 20s and beyond they might well begin to acquire greater credibility as a viable alternative to both Labour -AND the Tories.Many former Labour voters who initially had switched directly to the Tories might well pause and consider the Libdems.This could hit Tory support- which might also be vulnerable to the possibility that 2005 LibDem supporters who had gone over to them ,will decide to remain in the LibDem camp.

  6. I think Graham is right. LDs have always had the problem of hte ‘wasted vote’ syndrome. If that perception ebbs away, Cameron is in real trouble. It will expose his failure to make a meaningful contribution to political discourse other than as a purveyor of snappy soundbites.

  7. Graham – that goes double if they overtake Labour!

  8. It’s always been odd to me that anyone assumes Lib Dems would naturally switch to Conservatives anyway and vice versa. Labour and Lib Dems are clearly parties of the centre left and have clearly stated that’s what they are. They scrap for the same ground. In the south the Lib Dems have always picked up voters who are not centre left but who never have read Lib Dem policies and just don’t like the Tories. The recent polling confirms that the battle for the centre left is on. The Tories are largely on the sidelines of this.

  9. I ask again who do you think the general public trust most with the economy.


    my money would be with Cable!

  10. 11 in a row for the cons 40-45 but they can’t break through the 45 mark. Tories will be happy with lead but can not be confortable at not gaining more ex Labour voters.
    Smiling for the next 15 months may well not be enough.
    I’m off down the bookies to get a bet on my 12 year old daugher being the next Labour Prme Minister.

  11. The Tories will be more than happy with this poll as a split opposition with roughly the same vote as them will deliver them a healthy majority and a split opposition.

    I think there was always a saturation point for Labour/Trory switchers and now Labours decline will spread out more between the party’s.

    It will be interesting to see what the YouGov and Scottish results are to see how any Scottish fall in Labour support splits. If it is more SNP than Tory or LibDem then it is still people going anywhere from Labour as opposed to a positive shift to the LibDems.

    Having said that if LibDem policies on things like Education that have no effect on Scotland and haven’t made the Scottish news do boost the LibDems it might not show up much on Scottish figures.

    There is also the possibility of a double effect if this continues. The Tories on more than Labour and the LibDems combined and the LibDems ahead of Labour.


  12. I take Andrew’s point about Governments losing elections but the Tories have also been losing ground in recent polls. So Lib Dems seem to be gaining from both Con and Lab. Nick Clegg hasn’t had an opportuntity to make a big public impact. Evidence from previous elections is that new Lib/Lib Dem leaders (e.g., Steel, Ashdown, Kennedy) need exposure of a General Election campaign to become known and then enjoy the bounce at the next election. The difference this time is that Cable is getting lots of exposure and it is surprising this has not had an impact up until now.

  13. the net effect of all this is that for the month at least the scores on the doors look like this

    CON 41.0% +7.8 357 SEATS

    LAB 27.0% -9.2 210 SEATS

    LD 20.7% -1.9 52 SEATS

    OTH 11.3% +3.3 31 SEATS

    so the vote seams to be splitting more towards the conservatives but the lib dems are making ground back fast, but the others seam to be rising as well, them and the conservative are the biggest rising party

  14. I’d agree with Nill Furness that Cable is the most trusted of those three in the public, even if that is primarily because he has been in the media so much and they have rather obviously promoted him in a very positive light.

    That might well change over time, and I’d expect a shift close to the General Election, especially once it has been called and media (um) emphasis, shall we call it, becomes less effectively under purdah and with election materials arriving in people’s homes.

  15. There are some interesting trends in the detailed data. While I am cautious about the low cell counts, I’ve just blogged about this at length but here’s a summary:

    – Northern England ++ 8 point Tory lead ++ – C 37%, L 29%, LD 25%, BNP 2%.

    – 39 points ahead in Southern England (C 56, L 17, LD 17, Green 6)

    – 10 point lead in the Midlands (C 36, L 26, LD 26, BNP 6),

    – 22 point lead in Wales/South West (C 48, L 26, LD 20)

    – Scotland (C 9, L 38, LD 17, SNP 24, others 11).

    – 21 point Tory lead in the DE social group (C 48, L 27, LD 18).

  16. Take your point Peter abour split opposition votes and well remember landslides in 83 and 87.
    What happens, though, if the Cons slip below 40% which must be a possibility as they can not breach 45% even with so much in their favour. If they scored 37% then assuming there is a limit to the growth of ‘others’ (counted as a UK %age) the LD/Lab combined would be comfortably over 50%. Labour won with 37% but given the way FPTP works for now I doubt the Cons would be in overall majority.

  17. This leaves Labour in a very serious electoral position!

    Incidently, I do reflect Cllr Peter in so far as how can this be seriously replicated into a Scottish context? Remember 59 seats are effected here. These swings cannot possibly be adequetly replicated in Scotland due to the four party system.

  18. The benefits of a “split opposition” depends on how it splits!!!!

    If Labour and The Lib Dems poll 24% – 24%, it can mean anything between –

    a) they contest closely in many, many seats allowing Tories to win stacks on a (relatively) low vote share;

    b) LDs poll heavily where they are in with a chance, but poorly where they are out of the running – bad news for the Tories methinks!

  19. The Scottish subset of less than 100 is too small to be taken seriously.

    We will have to see what the breakdown of the Sunday Times poll has for all the ‘others’ . Two polls this evening with big UK differences for Labour and Lib Dems.


    This poll must seem almost too good to be true for supporters of the Lib Dems. I have speculated on a few occasions about the possibility that the Lib Dems might overtake Labour. This possibility seems to have become now more probable. But I think we need a few more similiar polls to be sure that it has become more probable.

    In the media questions have been asked about Brown’s link to the near collapse of the banking system and the Conservatives for once seems to me to have received less coverage than the Lib Dems at this critical point.

    Labour seems already to have reached their tough, resilient core of 25% I have spoken of, although again we need a couple more similiar polls to be sure.

    If Labour have already reached then time will tell how resilient this core is to the full impact of the recession which we will experience over the coming 6 months or so.

    How bad will things for Labour get between now and September and how much might they recover afterwards?

    The Bank of England are predicting the economy will grow by 2% next year. Overly optimistic in my humble opinion. But if there is a small recovery by the middle of next year then a small recovery in the support for Labour might occur.

    Oh, 12% for the ‘others’ which suggests a return to the trend that existed before the Brown bounce.

  21. Jim garner

    11 in a row for the cons 40-45 but they can’t break through the 45 mark…

    I agree. But is the 45 mark that vital for the Conservatives, with Labour now struggling to get above 30?

    It appears that disaffected Labour supporters are now shifting to the LibDems more so than to the Conservatives – which is not at all surprising – but the Conservative vote is still holding strong in the low 40s.
    Of course, what happens on GE day will tell us all the true state of play and with it – I suspect – a slight drift to the Conservatives from the LibDems, but nothing on the scale of years gone by.
    This is all due to the recent resurgence in Nick Clegg’s fortunes and the ever-reliable analysis by Vince Cable. Between them have given the electorate a ‘sane’ glimpse of economic policy which does have a nice feel about what they say. However, they know as well as we do that they will never be in power and, therefore, have the confidence of plain speaking from the position of being in permanent opposition. I am not saying that Vince Cable’s comments are in any way crass – indeed, GB would be well-advised to listen to his words with greater respect – but neither Cable nor Clegg are examined across the despatch box and so never have to defend their views in the heat of debate.
    Despite this, the LibDems have earned their rise in popularity and – who knows – could be on their way to be the second major political party (..no I dont think so either!)

  22. I suspect this might be a blip low for Labour, certainly at the moment. We wil see, but I think it could be a couple of months before we see them as low as 25% regularly. Also, as I have said before, they will not dip much below 25% for any sustained period, because they have a core of support who will not budge from Labour no matter how bad things get.

    The LibDems could see a sustained period of coming close to Labour in the polls, perhaps eclipsing them in the occasional poll, but come the Election, this will not translate into seats. Constituency boundaries are skewed heavily in Labours favour, such that even if they got an equal share of the vote, Labour would end up with about 2 and a half times as many seats.

    We will need to see more polls confirming Labour in the mid 20s before we can make judgments on this with any degree of accuracy.

  23. @Neil

    Agree about the seats issue, but I think you may be wrong about the blip.

    I think it would make sense that as the country through insecurity moves more to the right (standard motivational theory), we will see the “core” support move away from Labour but not mostly not to the tories (until election night). I would not be surprised if similarities between GB and his cabinet are not decribe against the context of animal farm (the cartoon, not the other type of film) very soon as this would follow the current media narative.

    Labour are now going to have to accept that there biggest danger of obscurity comes from the Lib’s

  24. Keir,

    I don’t honestly believe that the Lib Dems will replace Labour as the third largest party (in terms of seats), but as for share of the voting intention- this ComRes poll is countered by the YouGov poll at the opposite end of the spectrum. Perhaps its too early to speculate on the race for second place follwoing the next election. (That is of course if the Tories keep above 40%, which since they can’t break 45% aint to be assumed)

  25. I don’t think 40% is the goal anymore. It was when labour were closer, but not now. No I think we are starting to see the electorate make a real choice and I think it will stick and grow. I ca’t see what labour have that can save them at this point. Almost daily now their policies are failing, sleeze and scanadal are growing, information is being surpressed and Gordon continues to dither. See MP Final slary pensions for example – most people would say stop them, Gordon say “lets have a review”. I think Vince and the other one in the Lib Dems are now making a good fist at it and the Tories as someone has already said are the spectators at the moment.

    I would expect an above 50% tory mandate at the polls with Lib / Lab scrapping very hard for second place.

  26. phil .
    the bank of england publish the figures they are told to by brown,so ignore!

  27. What puzzles me is how some people react to polls. If it fits your narrative then its the trend that will continue. If it doesn’t then its just a blip.

    Since Christmas we have seen a swing to the Tories, now allegedly its a swing towards the LibDems. Does it register with some of you that voting intention is about as stable at the moment as currency trading or share prices?

    Does it point towards a Tory win and the potential for their opposition to split? Yes – IF the situation driving the current trend continues. Which it won’t because (a) we have no idea what state the economy really is in (b) its clear that the politicians on all sides are clueless and (c) we haven’t seen how the Obama factor and the progressive global consensus he will build over the summer will have on UK polls.

    The problem with so many of the assumptions being made is that people are flocking to the Conservatives and they quite patently are not. Away from the government yes – thats not the same as permanently camping in the Conservative column. As the year goes on we’re going to see the Conservatives look increasingly isolated globally, arguing against a platform that Obama, Brown, the EU and others all align to. Thats not to say its not a winning position, but Cameron is going to find it increasingly lonely and difficult to demonstrate why the rest of the world has got it wrong and Osborne has got it right.

  28. one must remember the lib dems are the only party guaranteeing big TAX CUTS,and reductions in public spending as a direct result of that.

    so they are RIGHT of camerons conservatives,who will cut taxes when they can.

    a centre right coalition emerging between the conservatives and liberals to keep labour out of power for ever?

    it makes sense because when they were centre left a few years ago and in power in scotland with labour they made a complete hash of scotland.

  29. All of a sudden there seems to be a lot of Lib/Dem supporters here I wonder where they have all come from lol !

    Ian Bailey

    I think we all know what the state of the economy is Brown , Darling, and Balls all dropping hints every economist telling us we are in a worse position not better to ride out the recession (depression) etc etc

    And as GB seems to have got almost everything wrong that he has touched I cant see that Cameron will be isolated I think that title will go to GB

    Wait till Joe public discovers the true cost the British taxpayer will have to cough up because of this crisis, its going to be eye watering even Europian leaders are openly questioning GB`s credibility

    But I can see a similar result to the 83 election

    I`m still not sure GB will hold on to fight the next GE

  30. Where I come from (rural southern England) the contest is always between the Tories and Lib Dems, with Labour trailing by some distance in third place. UKIP also tends to gain more locally than its national share of the vote would suggest. As a result, I think there is a sizeable Tory/Lib Dem back and forth in some areas and that the Lib Dems shouldn’t only be regarded as an alternative to Labour for leftwingers.

    It will be fascinating to see what happens if Labour does slide into third place though I don’t think Cameron has anything to worry about right now – Vince Cable is excellent but he’s not the Lib Dem leader (next two weeks notwithstanding) and Nick Clegg seems decidedly lacklustre. Might be famous last words but the Tories seem to have the next general election in the back. The next-but-one might be very interesting indeed, though.

    Gordon Brown, the man who killed Labour …

  31. @ Ian Bailey – the Tories have been ahead in the polls for over a year now. Even at the height of the “Brown bounce”, Labour was unable to overtake them. So I don’t think your assessment re: trends and blips is very accurate.

  32. The Tories are having the easiest of runs at the moment, having the luxury of sitting back and criticising at a time of extreme economic difficulty. Even then they are close to 40% and heading in the wrong direction. When it comes to a general election where they are forced to put forward a manifesto trying to explain how all their uncosted plans and vague promises fit together (e.g. high speed rail with no money available to build it) it will be a different matter.

    With Cameron – an arrogant charmlesss hectoring toff – and Osborne – ditto plus no real world experience – fronting up the party’s election campaign, many voters are likely to be unimpressed. It is really a question of whether the electorate is desperate enough and sufficiently angry to hold their noses and vote for a Conservative party they don’t really believe in or whether they feel there is a practical alternative. If the Lib Dems can win over just three to four percent of Conservative voters – and general election campaigns usually see an increase in their support – then a hung parliament will result.

  33. @Robert C
    With Cameron – an arrogant charmlesss hectoring toff – and Osborne – ditto plus no real world experience – fronting up the party’s election campaign, many voters are likely to be unimpressed.

    You are forgetting the return of super Ken (and he IS popular)… the shadow shadow chancellor…

  34. Robert C – New Labour has it’s fair share of “Toffs”, doesn’t it? For example, there was that chap who was PM for a long time … what was his name … ah, yes. Tony Blair. And what is Gordon Brown’s “real world experience” again? 4 years as a lecturer in the early 1970s and 3 years as a television journalist in the early 1980s. The rest of the time he’s been a career politician.

    I think you’re whistling in the dark, frankly. The polls are pointing to just one thing – a Labour wipeout. Dave Spart outbursts won’t change that.

  35. @James Ludlow – true about the polls. So when Labour was behind by 1% and thus would have won an overall majority, does that fit in with your trend that the Tories will win comfortably?

    @Glenn B. It takes a bizarre leap of the imagination to think the French and Germans were lining up with Cameron. Germany criticises the VAT cut as ineffective then pays out 2% of GDP as a stimulus. Sarkozy does the same at the press conference where he announces his E22bn stimulus. Noone in Europe – not a single government – is with Cameron arguing against any kind of stimulus package.

  36. “Cameron arguing against any kind of stimulus package.”

    Not correct.

    Conservatives have argued for both Monetary & Fiscal interventions-just different ones to GB.

  37. @ Robert C and Dean Thomson

    Whilst I agree with you that Cameron & Co are too posh to attract the breadth of British society I resent your implied bias due to someone’s background.

    We live in what is the most egalitarian society we have ever had. A privileged (posh) background does not give anyone rights over others and neither should it count against people in any walk of life.

    There is too much comment in the media implying posh people must be arrogant/incompetent/only achieve anything due to their backgrounds purely out of prejudice.

    If you don’t like Cameron & Co because you don’t think they are up to the job, fine and if their background has contributed to this, fine but do not hold prejudiced views based purely on someone’s background.

  38. @ Ian Bailey – 1% behind is still behind, Ian, and it’s only the anomalies of our constituency system that allow the bizarre possibility of a party that comes second nationally nevertheless forming government. So, sorry, it doesn’t alter the picture at all. Labour has been behind the Tories in the polls for well over a year and, even at the height of the “Brown bounce”, still didn’t overtake them in even a single poll. I think it’s your preferred narrative you need to be worrying about if you imagine that this is somehow not a trend and may even just be a blip. Or perhaps you live in some alternate reality where up is down and ahead is behind …

    But Spart away all you like …

  39. Ian Bailay,

    I am a Conservative, this poll fits in very well with my narrative (or at least what I would like it to be), but I still think it is a blip, and I think YouGov confirmed that (even though their poll was a bit extreme too). How does this fit into your narrative?

  40. Ian Bailey

    The big difference between the UK ,France and Germany is they have set out how they intend to paid for their stimulus if they decide to go down that root

    Unfortunately WE have no idea how our our Government intend to pay of our debt we are all kept in the dark which in turn will create uncertanty for our economy in the future

    I am not a Tory and belive we should have some sort of pakage but I want to see what I`ll be paying in taxes first.
    We are now seeing people who have worked all their lives being put out of work and when they need the state to help them its not there for them
    On the other hand billions have been paid out over the years in benifits to people who have never and will never contribute to our economy

    I have lost faith in the Labour party particularly when they have put the idle class before the working class
    And be sure it will be the working class who will be footing the huge bill after this debacle

  41. Sorry that should have route not root!!!!

  42. I am in two minds about the package or indeed any package. I was reading the guardian articles on it a week or so back and three stats struck me.

    Size of world stimulus package $2tn.
    Size of Global GDP $55tn.
    Size of the debts run up by banks $860tn.

    debt is roughly 16 times global GDP which is 25 times the stimulus package making the package worth less than a 400th of the debt.

    I think we might be trying to stop a charging elephant with a ping pong bat.

    Put another way, what do you do when a hurricane coming?

    take all your money out of the bank and board up your house, or let the storm do it’s worst and then take your money out to rebuild.

    If you go to the first and the storm is a whopper, then you risk losing your house and your savings.

    So the question is, is this storm to big to board up against.


  43. Wow, unless labour starts making a come back, especially from the tories, and atleast get a sizable number of seats next election we may not just see the tories in government but the death of labour, and for some reason i dont think Gordon Brown will forever want to be known as ‘the man who killed Labour’, althoughi f they do go this makes way for the Liberals to return to thier rightful position as the left wing party, cant wait to see the next general election results.

  44. Anthony

    “My guess is that what has happened is that the collapse in Labour’s support is getting to the point where there are more traditional, liberal or left wing Labour voters who are now peeling away and want to vote against them, but couldn’t possibly ever bring themselves to vote Conservative.”

    The last part of what you say is why many Scots who have no interest in independence are grateful to have the opportunity to vote for the SNP wherever they arn’t in 4th place. If the SNP are 4th, as in some LibDem held seats in the Highlands you can be sure that however badly the polls say that the LibDems are doing nationally, that sitting MP’s will hold on in these seats unless they are caught in sexual relationships with minors or animals.

    That’s part of the explanation for why there will be few seats change hands in Scotland.

  45. Roger Banister

    “it makes sense because when they were centre left a few years ago and in power in scotland with labour they made a complete hash of scotland.”

    I recall you said something to that effect before and it is nonsence. The Lab-SLD lost after two terms very narrowly, and mostly because Labour did not sufficiently distance itself from Westminster New Labour.

    If any party can be said to have “made a complete hash of Scotland.” (not the capitalisation for the name of a country) it is one which once had the majority of the popular vote in Scotland, the only party ever to do so in any part of the UK, and now is in terminal decline despite having a party leader more widely respected outwith her own party than any party leader since Donald Dewar.

    Credit for that is due to Margaret Thatcher. In comparison to her spectacular performance, Tony Blair’s is but a cheap and ineffectual imitation.