ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has voting intention figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 42%(+2), LAB 30%(+2), LDEM 18%(-4). It was conducted between the 20th and 22nd of February.

The raw changes from the last Guardian poll obviously suggest a sharp fall in Lib Dem support, with both Labour and the Conservatives benefitting. However, if we cast our minds back that last ICM poll showed a rather surprising 6 point leap in Liberal Democrat support with no obvious cause. Despite the lack of an obvious cause, Populus and ComRes polls showing a similar pattern seemed to support it, until YouGov and MORI showed a distict lack of a Lib Dem gain. With ICM now showing them back down, it’s looking like that 22% was a blip. It’s possible that the Lib Dems really shot up temporarily for a week then slumped back down again, but more likely random chance just provided ICM with a particularly Lib Dem inclined sample. We’ll never know.

Taking a wider view the poll shows the Conservatives maintaining a healthy double point lead, and unlike some other recent polls doesn’t show Labour falling below the psychologically important 30 point level.

On other questions in the poll ICM asked about the best party on issues. Exact figures aren’t available yet, but the Guardian reports that the Conservatives now lead on most issues. Predictably they are ahead on law and order, which is normally a Tory banker. They are now pretty much neck and neck on education, substantially ahead on the economy in general and narrowly ahead on the present economic crisis. Labour remain ahead on health, which is normally a banker for them and apparently on terrorism. The article implies the Lib Dems are ahead on the environment – at least, they are ahead of the Conservatives.

I take issue with one sentence in the Guardian’s report, “Fears that the recession would push issues such as immigration up the political agenda are backed by today’s figures. It lies fourth equal in importance, cited as a priority by 9%.” This shows the peril of taking a poll in isolation. There are far more regular and better trackers of what issues people think are important, and they have not yet shown any rise in concern over immigration. MORI’s monthly, unprompted tracker of what issues people think are important – full data here – shows 21% cited immigration as an important issue in January, the third highest after the economy and unemployment. That is high, but if you go back to early 2008 and 2007 it was typically cited by over 40% of respondents, so the trend is downwards. It may very well rise in the future – we haven’t seen MORI’s issue tracker for February and the effect of the BJFBW strikes – but so far there’s no evidence of it.

69 Responses to “ICM’s monthly Guardian poll”

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  1. Actually, according to the Guardian, Liberal Democrats are +2, Others are +2, Conservatives are -2 and Labour are -2.

  2. Mine are the changes from the previous ICM poll, the policy I always follow, which was published in the Sunday Telegraph. The Guardian’s changes are from the last ICM poll that the Guardian commissioned, which is older.

  3. One very important point mentioned in the Guardian is that there has been a significant rise in optimism regarding personal fiancial circumstances: those who are confident about their personal finacial circumstances rose from 43% to 51%.

    This seems to me to account for Labour’s rise to 30%
    What is the cause for this greater optimism? Perhaps the better weather, Bank of Enland’s prediction of a 2% growth in the economy next, the implementation of British Gas’ reduction in their prices.

    Whatever the cause it will soon come to an end. Indeed, there are concerns voiced by the police that the mood will turn ugly this summer with protests and riots.

  4. ‘next year’, i meant to write. in hurry, bye

  5. Am I right in thinking that all the main pollsters, having continually underestimated the Tory performance at General Elections, give them an additional 4-point differential premium?

  6. Isn’t the key to this as Mike Smithson mentions on Political Betting “The Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and other parties would fight a new election in your area.”…In your area being key. The Lib Dems surely have a much lower base level of support but are the standard ‘rebellion’ party in any area. This poll by getting closer to that with the ‘in your area’ phrase might be closer to reality? Lib Dem variances are a factor of geography, aren’t they?

  7. back again.

    It did seem unlikely that the Lib Dems would sustain 22%. But I think it is premature to conclude that it was a complete blip. It could be that they will sustain a better position of 18% and that over the coming months they will rise to a sustained 22% before the end of the year.

    The next two or three polls may indicate whether or not the Lib Dems have gained a solid improvement.

  8. ICM seem to fluctuate quite a bit, particularly on the Lib Dem figure.
    My gut feel, however, is that this current poll is pretty accurate for where we are at present. I suppose 30% is a crumb of comfort for Labour if they can claw back, but I suspect they’ll come under more pressure as the recession continues.

  9. Anthony , as I pointed out before Mori did find an increased level of LibDem support compared to their previous poll , it was clearly indicated in the detailed data but not in their headline figure restricted to the 45% of the sample saying they were absolutely certain to vote .
    FWIW 20% for the LibDems seems about right for their current level of support allowing all the other recent polls except Yougov to be within normal sampling M of E .

  10. David E Jones – No. No one does anything as crude as adding a couple of points to a party.

    Domesday – if the wording makes a difference, then it’s likely to be because it’s enough to make people take personal votes and tactical voting into account. For example, if someone supported the Labour party, but actually voted Lib Dem in their own seat because the MP was such a nice chap, they might say Labour in a normal poll and Lib Dem if asked how they would vote in their constitutency.

    We know that happened in the PoliticsHome poll of marginal seats, but I put some pretty damn heavy prompting into that – it asked people how they would normally, THEN prompted them to think about tactical voting, THEN asked them very specifically to think about their own seat and the candidates there, and asked them how they would vote then. The fact the question was asked twice probably had the biggest effect – allowing people to state their national support, then getting how they’d actually vote.

    I’m dubious about whether just mentioning “your area” in passing, in a single question, would have much of an effect, though its probably one factor amongst many. Alongside that though there is also different weighting targets, the data that is used to weight and the reallocation of don’t knows.

  11. Weighted Moving Average 43:29:18 which seems a bit more realistic. ICM generally seem to have a slight anti-C bias though spectacularly NOT in their Nov poll which over-estimated the C-Lead by nearly 7 points.

    It seems unlikely that the drift away from Labour will slow any time soon. Almost no-one expects Labour to win the next election, the unscientific poll on Labourhome shows 69% thinking they have a less than 10% chance, 20% think a 10% chance, 4% give them 50:50 and 4% (say) they think Labour will win.

  12. not much change in this poll about right one feels. the change in this poll along with the minor change on the month still points to a conservative victory of about 45 to 50 seats or a 90 to 100 majority, after the next election. and if the trend continues the conservatives at a miximum will hold 46% of the vote, and a minimum of 44% of the vote est. with labour at a minimum of 24% and a maximum of 26%, the lib dems will round off with amin of 16% and max of 18%


    CON 44%-46%

    LAB 24%-26%

    LD 16%-18%

    OTH 16%-10%

    but in the short term at least a majority of 90 to 100 is exspected at the next election.

  13. i think the conservatives will still do better on election day than the polls predict.

    people like the liberals,but their support is oversetimated as on election night there will be a switch to dave to get labour out(this happened in 79′)
    this is no refelection on them with cable and calamity cleg at the helm.

    labour core is 25/30,foot days levels, so not much to reduce there,but,add to that a generation of voters that will hate labour for what they have done, like the conservatives were plagued with for 10 years and more and that may slip.

  14. “i think the conservatives will still do better on election day than the polls predict.”

    If Mike Smithson is right on pb , they will need to.

    He gives an analysis of the Uniform National Swing outcome from this Poll & questions it’s validity-in Scotland-and in LibDem incumbencies.

    Food for thought.

  15. Rodger – can you read the comments policy please.

  16. I would agree with the consensus that this poll is probably about accurate at the moment.

    I also expect that things could get more diificult for Labour over the next four months and lead to further discussions about the likelihood of a Tory gain in Doncaster North;

    then comes the Labour recovery in autumn as people remember that they dont actually much like the Tories and they don’t actually know what they stand for, cue widespread disbelief on this forum.

    Think things will be very close indeed by the time the election is nigh to the detriment of Lib Dems.

    I speak to a huge number of people in Chesterfield on a weekly basis and the anti Government / GB feeling is nothing like as strong as it was last summer, but people are unsure and masses of voters are still there for persuading, Tories have not by any means sealed the deal yet.

    I think the Lib Dem increase reflects the ‘plague on both your houses’ rather than any feeling that they have actually got policies worth supporting. This will fall as the election becomes closer, before rising slightly again during the campaign itself.

    By next spring I expect the polls to be extremely close indeed and in fact issues like crime, immigration and the general fairness agenda to become more important. Labour will need to have established a more equal footing on issues like this to be in contention, which I think we will have.

    Plenty for all parties to go at, but I am comforted by how quickly the Tory supporters on here are willing to go into lighting up a cigar mode, think they might be starting to believe their own publicity.

  17. It is very, very difficult for a party to win four on the trot. You can go right back to the 19th century and neither the Whigs nor the Tories (nor their successor parties)managed to do so even with the somewhat strange franchise arrangements. (I think I’m right about that). John Major won the fourth for the Tories in 1992 (and we can all spend hours discussing how and why!) Sheer weariness seems to set in both with the government and the electorate (“the ever turning political wheel of fortune”) and that is why the Tories (barring the most monumuntal clanger) must be odds-on to win. Not being partisan, not being scientific, but despite the spin doctors there’s not very much that’s scientific about politics. The science (or stats) is about the measuring of the on-going change of opinion. That is not to say anyone should take anything for granted, just to say what a difficult time faces any third term government.

  18. Can we knock on the head the myths perpetuated in the media about the recent Lindsey oil refinery strike. It was not about BJ4BW, as the BNP found out when they tried to take advantage of the situation. The mass meeting overwhelmingly supported the strike committee’s recommendations, which were at pains to point out their concern not to attack foreign workers but the employers who used them.

  19. So we’re back to the ~12% consistent lead. What I think is interesting is that the Guardian have gone really big on the figures showing that 2/3 of people believe Labour would do better under a different leader. To me this could be an indication that the media are not prepared to give up the “internal Labour divisions” angle so soon. If they do keep pushing it then it spells more trouble for Labour.

    Other than that it’s a pretty middle of the road poll, nothing much has changed of note.

  20. The Guardian’s spin on the results regarding immigration is fairly predictable – there’s a tendency in that newspaper to present any concerns about immigration as if they were a prelude to wholesale ethnic cleansing.

    It will be interesting to see which way The Guardian jumps in the coming months. Will it remain an essentially Labour supporting paper or, as some have suggested lately, will it give up on the party and switch to the Lib Dems instead as the Great Yellow Hope of so-called progressive politics?

  21. My straw is looking less frayed.
    If you are in work with a mortgage you are better off in crude financial terms terms; fear of unemployment impacts contentment amd works against the Gov’t but the confidence index improved in this poll.
    We all know the shy Tory theory as in the 80’s and early 90’s some people doing well where reluctant to admit they would vote Cons when unemployment was high etc. Maybe some doublethought themselvesand only decided Cons during GE campaigns as they beacme more considered etc.
    I wonder if some ‘tracker mortgage’ voters will become shy Labour supporters?
    The polsters adjustment sare based on hositical beahviuor which may not apply now.

  22. shy labour votes:

    what labour voters are their any

    this poll goes with current trend at the moment, but if the economy gets worse then things may go only one way.

  23. I would be surprised if there is much of a ‘shy Labour’ vote. In my experience, Labour voters are fairly vocal in their support and wouldn’t sit nodding while a colleague spelled out his vision for a low tax, low spend country (“you would give the rich more and the poor less” seems to be the standard response).

    If anything I would expect ‘shy Tories’ to be more common now – people may not want to publicly support a party that intends to spend less when the news is about increasing unemployment even if they felt it best for the country.

  24. @NBeale

    Interesting that 89% of Labour supporters feel they have a 10% or less chance winning. Given the electoral bias I would wager money at 10/1 on Labour being the largest party at the next election, (if only to finance my one way ticket out of the Country).

    Even as a fairly bullish Conservative campaigner, I feel Labour have a good (less than even but good) chance of being the largets party as I do feel Labour are good at mobilsing their core vote.

  25. I’ve just been having a read through YouGov’s detailed results. It’s interesting, although not entirely surprising, to see how most people think only along party lines. For instance, approx the same percentage of Labour supporters think Gordon Brown is doing a good job as Conservative supporters think David Cameron is doing a good job. Same with most trusted on the economy, Labour supporters choose Brown/Darling, Tories take Cameron/Osborne and Lib Dems take neither.

    The biggest one for me was the 3% of Labour voters who think the economy is either very good or quite good (0% for other parties). Surely that is loyalty of the blindest kind.

  26. @Roger Bannister – yes roger stop being partisan, we don’t like it on here :-)

    I think dead news stories over the past few weeks have kept the level fairly static, but expect some rather large problems to face the government soon. See their stance on not supporting LDV in birmingham forcing 5000 people out of work and indirectly another 2000 supporting contracts. Having no other prospects in the area this will be calamitous to the longbridge area of brum (very close to my heart as I grew up near there) – The postal ballot will also have an effect with people muttering that Mandleson is putting out breifings to bully the labour vote into backing private investment (or the pension fund collapses – it may anyway, but lets not be concerned about that yet)

    So all in all a good result again for the Tories and an indifferent one for labour. It’s nice to see consolidation of support for Lib’s

  27. @Mark M – ever heard the story of 3 blind mice? We know what happened to them

  28. I take the time for a change of leader stuff with a huge pinch of salt.

    Brown can’t be happy with the fact that he seems to have only the support of half of his supporters but as to the rest, it’s pretty much the norm that opponents always want to see their opposition go through a damaging leadership election or say it’s time for an election when they are ahead.

    Still if things don’t change over the next month and we get a long period of averages predicting a 100 seat Tory majority then a challenge to Brown may well emerge.


  29. Anthony,

    just a general question but what are your thoughts on “Election Rules”.

    I know a few sites which close to elections have to introduce additional or stricter interpretations of the rules because the level of partisan comment goes to extremes that effectively render the site useless.

    I’d welcome your ( and others)comments on the following possibilities, as we are still probably a year out from the next UK election. I am not advocating any of these as such just thought along with your future thread on the user feed back they might be worth discussing.

    1) Remind everyone of the rules.
    2) Be stricter on moderating the site.
    3) Temporary bans for infringemnet.
    4) Barring some posters for the duration of the offical campaign.
    5) Restricting comment to certain individuals.
    6) Members having to earn election membership between now and the Campaign.

    I know some will see this as censorship but I’d hate to see what I think is the best Polls site in the Uk overwhelmed by activists, zealots and party hacks until it was just another rent a rant site.


  30. I agree with Peter 100% (though I wonder whether he ran the idea past Alex first?)

  31. Re Peter’s proposals-my reaction:-

    1) OK
    3) At Anthony’s discretion if he thinks neccessary.
    4) Absolutely not.
    5) & 6)-I can’t really believe that these are serious suggestions!

  32. Re Peter’s proposals:

    1) Remind everyone of the rules. – Yes
    2) Be stricter on moderating the site. – yes
    3) Temporary bans for infringemnet. – Yes
    4) Barring some posters for the duration of the offical campaign. – Surely this is the best time to earn money for the site?
    5) Restricting comment to certain individuals. – please no we just need to avoid central offices contributing policy lines
    6) Members having to earn election membership between now and the Campaign – please no

  33. @Peter – OMG why not lock everyone up fo 42 days or more for even suggesting that they might be in favour of 1 party over another.

    Seriously to ALL this is a blog site for the free sharing of veiw on polls. Yes I and others may show some (or a lot) of partisan spirit (usually after a great poll result or after the dicussion gets dry – thankyou anthony for adding more analysis).

    1, Agreed
    2, Agreed (happy for my rants to bemoderated when required)
    3, For continued infringment ok but not enforceable on this technology
    4, How would you know who we are?
    5, Elitist – would those be the veiws of the people you agree with or not?
    6, Simple madness that restricts the veiws of the common man or passerby

    Sorry man but your suggestions past 3 are simply bonkers (If that gets moederated so should your entry)

  34. Ahhhghh – someone (Toby) has used the “sealed the deal” labourHQ inspired cliche again. Of course Cameron hasn’t “sealed the deal”, that can only be done on GE night. These are OPINION polls, and are by their nature a snap shot from which one can try and understand prevailing opinion. Please stop using this meaningless spin inspired cliche Toby

  35. If 2010 was to become a tight election, the economy would really have to pick up in Autumn/Christmas quickly. I can see things improving at the end of year, but it really counts on what will happen in the summer. I personally believe we’re heading towards a summer of discontent, which Labour will find very hard to retaliate against, in the process and aftermath.

  36. It’s also worth looking at betting sites to see that the odds are still very much with the Tories

    Labour Party 7/2
    Conservative Party 1/6
    Liberal Democrat Party 150/1

    Having worked withon this industry I can tell you that their risk systems would not allow for that much money to be made on a labour win unless they were absolutely certain of a tory victory. The odds are still where they are to attract punters who are still prepared to have a go on the outsiders but in actual fact is only seen as a way to bolster the bank account to pay out to the firm favorite winners.

    Please just strike out in red ink anything you do not agree with Peter and I’ll try to write something more pleasing to your world veiw next time :-)

  37. Peter,

    Sensible forward thinking.

    Agree on (1), (2) and (3). If AW has the technology to enforce (3), then (4) is redundant – i.e. naughty posters get infringement bans – but get to stay if they behave..

    I think your (5) and (6) could be addressed by applying the registration and party allegiance flag rules which already apply on the Constituency section.

    Personally, I think AW will have to make comment on the site open to registered members only for the duration of the campaign. Non-members can easily sign up in advance, and even if they don’t, they still get to enjoy reading the quality of input regular posters on this site provide.

    Naturally there will be increased partisanship as the election draws near, but we don’t want this site to degenerate into political rants.

    By making our allegiances transparent to the pasing reader, we can resist the temptation to make political points.

  38. @Paul H-J – in so saying Paul what is your allegiance

  39. The question I ask myself has always been whether to only allowed registered people to comment come the election. I probably will do that over on the seat guide part of the site, just to make things managable (plus the registered membership is already there and set up).

    For the main blog, I expect I’ll leave it open. I certainly won’t restrict it to existing posters or qualifying people. I’ll probably just be a bit harsher with people who misbehave and give less leeway before just banning people who are deliberately not following the spirit of the comments policy (I can assure you I have the technology to enforce it 100% – if anyone wants to test it out they can ;) )

  40. @Anthony – Keeping the main blog open is the right thing to do thankyou

  41. Thanks Anthony.

  42. The Tories have been solidly polling around 40-43% in polls for so long now that I would say that appears to be their base at the moment and I expect them to poll somewhere around 41-42% at the election.

    The issue then becomes what will Labour and the Lib-Dems do. Labour may fall below 30%, but this seems unlikely at the moment. My guess at this stage is that Labour will poll low 30’s.

    Lib-Dems are likely to do worse than the 22% the achieved in 2005. The 22% achieved in 2005 was very much down to the Iraq war fall out, Iraq obviously won’t figure in the coming election. However, I don’t think we’ll see an absolute collapse in the Lib-Dem vote, somewhere around 18-20% is my best guess.

    So putting it all together, I still think we’ll end up with an election result of;

    Con 42% Lab 31% Lib-Dem 19% With a Con majority somewhere around 20-40 seats depending on how many the Libs manage to hold on to.

    This result is very close to where the polls are right now, hence I’m expecting very little change in the next year or so. I think the polls we’re seeing right now are pretty much where we’ll be come May 6th 2010.

  43. I still think – from the questioning of Labour supporters locally that I’ve seen – that there is little direct switching to the Tories, a lot of undecideds (as per Toby Perkins’s post) and less hostility than last summer (and certainly less that right after the abandoned election in late autumn 07) toward the Government.

    30% is still a decent base to come back from, and whilst the next election is probably Cameron’s to lose I think a lot of the predictions on here are over-optimistic, GINs above is probably more realistic but I’d still chance a bet on a hung parliament if the worst of the recession is felt to have passed by next summer.

  44. Thing is Warren the worst of the recessiuon won’t be felt before mid 2010. Even if the indicators are are improving (highly doubtful at the moment) most peoples personal experiances will not be. Not sure if you can remember previous recessions, but theres always a lag between the onset of recovery and people feeling better themselves – This can last up to 18 months or even two years from the onset of recovery.

    I’m afraid I’d rather rely on polling than adacdotal evidence about what Labour supporters in your area are doing, as interesting as personal stories like this are. ;)

  45. Gin, sorry but I have to strongly disagree with your statement: “I’m expect very little to change in the next year or so.”

    The economic forecast is that we will have at least another 9 months of recession. Recently, it was published that unemployment grew by 146000 between October and December rising to 1.97 million.

    While this is aweful, it was below the predicted 2 million by some. This probably lessened the negative affect on Labour’s support. But undoubtedly, the next time they publish the unemployment figures they will smash well beyond 2 million. And if, as is likely, unemployment continues to rise at a similiar rate then unemployment will have risen to above TWO AND HALF MILLION by the end of the year.

    I’m sorry but I think you being more than a little unrealistic to suggest Labour’s popularity will not suffer much in the months to come. Even Labour’s resilient core of 25% will be in danger of erosion before the year is out.

  46. Morale is very important in politics and at present Labour morale has collapsed. I expect it will collapse further. Gordon Brown may be the only MP who thinks Labour will win the next election (possibly even he doesn’t).

  47. peter c-

    yes some of your proposals could be good at election times but banning commentors come on,its an open decussion of current politics not a mugarbe style, i’ll edit t if i don’ like your political view point. web-sites like this are for debate and yes a little bit of your patys saying this, but my party will do that, but we need that on sites like this i.e a small bit of partianship dose not do anyone any harm, and unlike some people i do not tout party x-y or z’s view just beacuse i vote for any of them ill kick all of them if i need to, even the SNP for that matter. in refrance to this months polling data it’s still looking bad for labour, and a 90 to 100 majority for the conservatives is looking likely at this point.

  48. Just to be clear I’d be happy for no change, but during the Bush election against Al Gore I actually remember one comment site that was effectively closed down.

    The vitriol became so intense that the moderators just pulled the plug till after the election and it went off line.


  49. Stuart – No, this site is not for “debate and yes a little bit of your patys saying this, but my party will do that, but we need that on sites like this i.e a small bit of partianship dose not do anyone any harm”

    This site is for what is says in the comment policy, and that is non-partisan discussion. There are a million sites out there for partisan discussion, I try to keep this one different.

  50. @peter – what I’m confused about peter is that as we get closer to elections, you think it is reasonable to ask people to be less partisan than they are normally.

    I read a story once about a group of people who could only tell the truth. They got so good at telling the truth without saying what they wanted to say that people started to distrust them.

    The moral is that people will always be partisan but will just change how they do it. I’d rather see straight forward comments that leave the reader in no doubt as to the position of the commentator.

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