The second new poll of the day is ICM’s monthly tracker for the Guardian. This is has topline figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 42%(nc), LAB 30%(nc), LDEM 20%(+2).

Clearly, as with the YouGov poll at the weekend, there is very little change indeed here. If one assumes this mornings MORI poll is something of a return to normalcy after some outlying figures, we really do have a very static and very uniform picture across the pollsters, with the Tories in the low 40s and Labour at or just above 30. The variation, as usual, is in the level of Lib Dem support, which differs for various reasons (not least, 13% of ICM’s sample was made up of people who claim they voted Lib Dem in 2005, while only 9.3% of MORI’s was – there are 40% more Lib Dems in the sample to begin with).

Putting the voting intention question aside though, there is a possibly more important finding – ICM’s semi-regular “time for change” question. As I’ve said here before, that’s a powerful message, the sort of narrative that sweeps governments from office (ICM’s Nick Sparrow once wrote that there were only really four really powerful messages in politics and all election campaigns boiled down to them – “Let us finish the job”, “Their policies won’t work”, “Don’t let them ruin it” and “Time for a change”).

Back in September 2006 70% of people thought it was time for a change. After the handover to Gordon Brown ICM asked the same question in August 2007 and found 55% thought it was time for a change, still high, but a significant drop: clearly some people’s desire for change had been met. In November 2008 the question was asked again during the “second Brown bounce” and 58% thought it was time for a change. Today the figure stands at 69% – pretty much back where it was before Tony Blair’s resignation.

113 Responses to “69% think it’s time for a change”

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  1. Do you have the detailed data for this poll already Antony ? I know ICM weight to a LD figure of 13% but was this the actual figure in this sample ?

  2. There is a great moment in the West Wing as all the mid term results come in and it turns out nothing has changed.

    Cameron away from Westminster from 2 weeks, Brown in Washington, Lib Dem Spring Conference. All the pundits will have speculated as to what could happen with the polls coming out today and essentially, nothing has changed!

  3. Mark – nope, but it will be about 13%.

    ICM’s weightings do change slowly over time, but it is very, very, slowly, so for all intents and purposes their past vote shares will be the same as they were last month.

  4. Anthony , it was interesting that Feb and March Populus LibDem weightings were to 13% , December and January weightings were to 12% It does not sound a great change but January’s low 15% wouls have been a bit higher with weighting to 13% .

  5. Time For A Change is a tidal wave the government will be unable to withstand. When this amount of people start desiring a change, theres nothing the incumbants can do, short of changing the leader (which they’ve already done once this Parliament)

  6. Mark Senior,

    You said that the Conservatives won in the early 90’s despite unemployment rising to over 3 million.

    I think that rising unemployment will have a greater political impact this time because people’s expectations are higher now than then.

    Unemployment has been below 2 million for nearly a decade if memory serves me correctly. People have got used to being better off and indeed thought that the good times would never end – thus the casual and careless borrowing ensued. And many still do not appreicate what a mess we’ve got ourselves into and what a long haul it will be to get out again.

    Secondly, the terribly fast tidal wave of unemployment will mean that one million people will become unemployed in one year! And this not only impacts the one million but families and communities as well.

    It will be a shockwave that will smash this already teetering Labour party out of power in the most undignified manner!

  7. Oh and unemployment is set to hit the north of England particularly hard. Just where Labour have so many critical seats!

  8. philip jw-

    i use three differant polling and prediction stes one is this one ukpolling, one is election calculs and the other is uk elect.

    all show big losses in the north of england but no landslide predicted a yet taking the regional monthly figues fom all polling organizations a land slide is still not predicted only a UNS pritty simple to the conservatives and a bit to the lib dems maj 70 and 100 maximum,uk elect shows the following seas will fall in the north on current figures.

    con gains from labour

    barrow in furness
    blackpool north & cleveleys
    bolton north east
    bolton west
    bury north
    crewe and nantwhich
    ellesmeare port and neston
    morecambe and lunsdale
    rossendale and darwen
    south ribble
    warrington south
    weaver vale
    west lancashire
    wirral south
    wirral west

    con gains from lib dem

    westmorelad and lonsdale

    lib dem gains from labour


    con gains from labour

    stockton south

    con gain from labour
    batley and spen
    bradford west
    brigg and goole
    calder valley
    colne valley
    elmet and rothwell
    leeds north east

    con gains from lib dem

    leeds north west

    in total a predicted loss of 35 seats for labour a gain of 38 for the conservatives and a loss of 3 for the lib dems in the north as a whole on the current polling UNS only.

  9. also van i add that a predicted majorty of 68 is forcaste and a maximum 100 majority is forecast as a worst result for labour taking all current finding into account.

    CON 359 +149
    LAB 228 -121
    LD 33 -29
    OTH 30 +1

    MAJ 68

    VOTE: CON 42.2%, LAB 30.2%, LD 17.4% OTH 10.2%

  10. I think a 68 Majority would be the best result for Britiain as it would allow a party to govern with confidence but not to get to comfortable.

    From a persoanl point of view we would all like to see huge victories for a chosen parties but i don’t think in the long run it does any good perhaps we are moving back to a more fluid situation between the parties in the long run

  11. Philip , you are arguing exactly the same thoughts that I had when the Conservatives drove up unemplotment , I then underestimated that the vast majority of people were still in work and had many more votes .
    Stuart , even most Conservatives in Westmoreland do not think they have a chance of regaining that seat , The LibDem majority here will be well over 5,000 .

  12. I the IMF is correct in saying UK will suffer worst-and be in Recession longest; that will make things very difficult for Labour.

    If 2010 dawns in US & elsewhere with green shoots & GDP growth, whilst we are still mired in decline , there is no rhetoric which will save Brown.

  13. How tiresome these hypotheses and predictions are! I firmly predict the opposite of everything, yaboo etc….

    I wonder what the comparable “time for a change” figures were in 1991?

    Kinnock didn’t propose the sort of change people wanted in enough numbers.

    At the moment, 69% seems to suggest that apart from the 31% or so who would vote Labour to-morrow, everyone else thinks it’s time for a change. No great revelation.

    Also, it doesn’t illuminate the relevant issue of the GE; namely, what sort of change is desired?

  14. @John T T – which side of the bed did you get up on this morning :-) – I would imagine that PMQ’s will be very interesting and will get a lot more coverage than normal due to the gap. The questions about the IMF will be raised and coupled with unenployment figures to be released will make for a very uncomfortable time for the PM – although he still won’t answer anything. The next few polls will be interesting

  15. Mark Senior

    ‘Even most Tories do not think they have a chance of regaining Westmoreland. The Lib Dem majority here will be well over 5,000’

    WHAT!!!! Oh god don’t tell me that the Lib Dems are back sniffing at those magic mushrooms again!!
    The Lib Dem majority here at the last election was just 267. With the average Lib Dem poll rating down 5/6 points since 2005 for Mark to then blindly predict that the result next time will be a massive increase in the Lib Dem vote is just plain daft.
    This forecast is on a par with those made by other Lib Dems on this site when they foolishly claimed that they were going to win the Henley by election last July. Get real Mark. And leave those mushrooms alone.

  16. Cruddas is in today’s Grauniad proposing a swift shift to PR and something called “New Socialism” in an attempt to stave off electoral defeat.

    What would be the process for shifting to one or other PR system? Is it actually feasible before the next election and how likely is Labour to go down this road rather than lose power?

  17. A slightly off topic question:

    I haven’t used the UK Elect software programme before.

    Does anyone have any thoughts or comments on it?

    Is it a worthwhile tool for a political geek? Will it give me more sad number tinkering options than just playing on electoralcalculus etc?


  18. Actually it’s not that uncommon for really marginal seats to be held at the next election. I think it’s a response by the constituents at being taken for granted. For instance in 2001 Cheadle had a Lib Dem majority of 33, everyone thought it was job done for the Conservatives and yet in 2005 the Lib Dems were returned with a majority of over 4000.

    A lot of these individual anomalies will be present on election night; the Conservatives overturning 15,000 majorities and yet cannot hold on to 2000 majorities etc.

  19. At the risk of being told off by Anthony my sister is a Labour supporter all her life living in Kendal (Westmorland) and has told me she has a dliema. Last time she voted Labour as she did not expect LD victory and Labour would win nationally.
    This time she is considering voting tactically. LDs
    Only need 500-750 of these to cancel out national swing plus (as per John above) LD incumbency works well for them. I am not an LD but they will do bettet than UNS suggests.
    As for national picture we are on hold waiting for the next seismic event and I am trying to prevent my bias producing predictions about the coming months that fit my preference.

  20. Was this ‘time for a change’ type question asked before the 1997 landslide? it would be interesting to compare how the tories currently compare to labout in the mid 1990s on this point.

  21. Seems hard to believe I know, but Labour are doing much less badly than the Tories were a year before the 1997 election. It’s hard to see what more could go wrong with the economy that would change that for the worse. Maybe people are just getting bored with wall-to-wall economic gloom and doom stories and are going back to their basic political instincts.

    Tory private polling appears to be showing that their national polling figures may well be flattering them, in particular that confidence in their ability to run the NHS has taken a tumble.

    The European and local elections will I suspect hold the key to what’s really going on.

  22. Any idea why I’m getting pre-moderated again?

  23. All posts with a link in get pre-moderated automatically (that said, the software has been a bit grouchy the last couple of days, I’ve been having to drag lots of stuff out of moderation that seems completely inoffensive.)

  24. Westmoreland local elections 2007 LibDem vote was 23.254 Conservatives 12,579 . Even on a lower turnout the LibDems polled more votes than in the 2006 GE .
    Quote from a Conservative member in the constituency
    ” I’m sat here on Westmoreland station listening to a group of old dears singing the praises of Tim Farron ….. How do we get this man out ? He is personable likeable local and hard working ….. I long for a Conservative government but cannot help thinking my efforts would be best spent in another seat “

  25. Why didn’t you mention the findings that given clear signs of ‘green shoots’ in the economy, support would leak away from the conservatives and the lib dems?

    A switch of 8% would put a very different complexion on the result.

    This struck me as a lot more interesting and significant than the ‘time for a change’ message

  26. Phillip JW. Unemployment has been over a million for many years now. This would have been regarded as appalling in the 1950s and 1960s, rightly, but people got compassion fatigue.

  27. It is not suprising at all that the Tories were in a worse position before 1997 for ‘time for a change’. in the early/mid 1990s there was a lot of major problems with the Tories that don’t currently exist on the same scale with the current labour party.

    1. There was an almost daily dose of sleaze (it felt that way at least) in 1995-1997. There have been sleaze allogations with Labour but there have not been the number that there were then.
    2. The Tories were fighting each other on a regular basis. This has also been the case under Labour but there has yet to be the ‘put up or shut up’ moment with the party. Also the division under labour is more about personality but with the Tories is was an idealogical division over the EU.
    3. The Tory majority was very small. It started at 16 and finished at 1 (I believe). This included having people defect to the other parties. This is not happening to Labour and the majority is such at the moment that it takes a larger amount of rebels to take down a bill in parliament. For the Tories it only took a couple of rebels to side with the opposition for a bill to be rejected by the commons.
    4. Labour were fantastic at spinning all of the bad news and keeping their noses clean until getting into power.

  28. @ Leslie – I think one major factor in 1997 was simply Blair. Hard to imagine now, perhaps, but the guy was an extraordinary politician in his heyday (in terms of just dwarfing everyone else, politically speaking). I quite like Cameron and he seems a lot better than Brown but he doesn’t have that strange evangelistic charisma that swept along so many voters in ’97.

    I also think that hardcore Labour voters hate the Tories in a way that isn’t as true in the reverse (Tories may dislike Labour but that venomous hatred doesn’t seem common).

  29. Westmorland and Lonsdale was being discussed. It is possible to completely defy the national swing; Alan Beith did it in 1979. The national swing from Tory to LD was 7% but in Berwick-upon-Tweed it was 8% the other way, a divergence of 15%.

  30. When it’s time for a change, I guess you have to get it right first time. Labour didn’t, and I don’t think another change of leader before the election would benefit them.

  31. “Seems hard to believe I know, but Labour are doing much less badly than the Tories were a year before the 1997 election. It’s hard to see what more could go wrong with the economy that would change that for the worse”

    I’m not a big fan of the “given the economic situation the Conservatives should be further ahead” argument for two reasons.

    The first is that long before the scale of the economic crisis really became apparent the Conservatives had a consistent double digit lead. This suggests to me that there was a base movement away from Labour before the economic crisis. Indeed it was the economic crisis and the debate about how to handle it which initiated a resurgence for Labour. So it seems strange to assume the Conservative lead is built on the economic crisis and will dissipate if/when the recovery comes.

    The second point is that recent polls have given Cameron and Osborne a consistent lead on who is most trusted to run the economy after the crisis. So I don’t think the situation is as simple as ‘economy getting worse: good for Conservatives, economy getting better; good for Labour’

  32. Leslie, ICM polls in 1996 are actually quite close to the ICM polls we’re seeing in 2009. This idea that the Tories were doing much worse in the 90’s than Labour is doing now is simply not true.

  33. just thinking at the last election the total number of people voting was 61.2% up 2% if the vote goes up again this time around by say 4% to 6% that may give an early indication of who is voting. on other things 69% of people want change i could have told you that in 1997 i did not trust blair from day one the sooner the better in my mind. with the local elections and EU elections coming up fast we may see an opening in the polling as the campigen gets going. and yes some spellings are rubbish i know.

  34. The ‘Time for a change’ slogan will be less significant in the 2010 General Election. ‘Change for the sake of change’ will be seen as not necessarily good for the nation’s well-being. Thinking members of the electorate – and there are many such – will compare what each of the parties has on offer. The Opposition still has to show that gravitas and statesmanship which will be sought by the electorate when choosing a government. Although Cameron has styled himself ‘heir to Blair’, to date he has failed to demonstrate those undoubtedly formidable political skills of the previous Prime Minister, who won three successive General Elections – two of them with majorities unsurpassed during the last hundred years. Apart from Cameron and Hague where are the impressive characters on the Opposition Front Bench?The likely result of the next General Election is a parliament without either of the two major parties having an outright majority.

  35. What no one has so far appreciated is the impact a GE Campaign has on the polls. A UK Polling Report Average of Con 42%, Lab 30% and LibDem 18% could well end up after a three to four week campaign as something like Con 38% Lab 32% and Lib Dem 24% (I base these trends on the impact both the 1997 and 2001 GE Campaigns had on the Polls) leaving us in Hung Parliament Terrority.

    What does everyone else think?

    Anthony, What is your view of the impact a GE Campaign has on the Polls?

  36. Richard, if Brown is leading Labour at the election then I would actually expect the Tories lead to increase as the campaign goes on. This would be rather unique of course, but I just can’t imagine Brown being able to connect with the general public as he goes across the country campaigning.

  37. “What no one has so far appreciated is the impact a GE Campaign has on the polls”

    Yes I agree too-it will be a big factor I think.
    But I think it will work as GIN describes.

    However there is always room for the fatal Gaff from any direction.

  38. Anthony,

    Did you not recently do a piece on the accuracy of the polls at recent elections which showed how they had moved during the campaigns ?

    It would be interesting to see if there ahve indeed been any patterns in previous elections and if one can draw any conclusions from these. Obviously one needs to compare movement in the Polls themselves and not just how accurately they predicted teh result.

  39. Thank you Stuart Gregory for presenting us with your research on the present political situation in the north of England. It underlies the expectation that if there were an election tomorrow that the Tories would win comfortably but with no landslide.

    When Labour abolished the 10p starting rate they offered the Tories a landslide victory. They recovered as we now but it demonstrated how vunerable they are to being defeated heavily in the next election. And this is why I wrote of Labour as already teetering.

    If the abolishen of the 10p starting resulted in Labour polling twice 23% in Yougov polls what might happen when the full impact of the recession hits. And if the scenerio occurs which Colin mentions where other countries are recovering while Britain still has not then 23% for Labour in the election becomes plausible.

    I’m not predicting that Labour will get 23% in the election. But there is a danger it MIGHT happen. Although I don’t think as someone has predicted that it would be the end of Labour. I don’t see any reason for thinking that!

  40. @ JohnC – are you reporting from a parallel reality?

    (incidentally, where has Mike “the Oracle” gone? Haven’t seen him here for a while)

  41. “Time for a change” obviously isn’t a new slogan. In 1992 I think Labour’s election campaign slogan was: “It’s time for a change”, whilst the Lib Dems slogan was the slightly different: “Time for change”. Of course it doesn’t always work if the main opposition leader is judged to be not up to the job.

  42. James,

    “Haven’t seen him here for a while”.

    God forbid he’s available on video.


  43. Andy, the reason “Time For A Change” didn’t work in 1992 is because the voters had already experianced a change – Thatcher to Major. You can see how the Tories polling changed almost instantly in late 1990/early 1991 when Mrs T was swept out of office;

    And the Tories polling stayed consistent right up to the 92 election. John Major was enough of a change that people felt they had had a change.

    Trouble for Labour now is that Brown was meant to be “The Change” and clearly he hasn’t been. This was always Labours fundamental error – Brown had been at the heart of the New Labour project for so long that the public knew him almost as well as they knew Tony Blair. He was never going to provide the change that Labour would need if they was to do what the Tories in 92.

  44. Peter

    I am collecting the highlights of past contributions from the ‘Oracle’ on video-how many copies can I put you down for?

  45. I thought yesterday’s BBC poll for the Daily Politics was interesting. 55% of people felt that Britain should leave the EU but keep close trading links (much like Switzerland currently does). I know you are not a great fan of BBC polls Anthony, but have any of the major pollsters run any EU questions lately?

    Personally, I find it fascinating that over half of people polled hold a view that is not advocated by any major party or media outlet.

  46. In addition to the influence of the GE campaign to come, there is another major factor which is, as yet, not reflected in Opinion Poll results.

    It is Public Expenditure Policy from 2010 on.

    In today’s Times two items throw it into focus:-

    Robert Chote, of IFS spells out the damage being inflicted on the Publc Finances by the burgeoning unemployment numbers-Public Finances which were already in a dire state.

    The analysis of the new unemployment figures shows an increase in employment in the Public Sector took place October/December, whilst Private Sector employment declined.

    This latter state of affairs is clearly unsustainable, as are the Public Finances. The cracks are already showing-The LSE running out of money , leaving 65 Colleges with plans for & half built colleges, high & dry.-The Local Government Association signalling a 40k workforce reduction by end next year.

    With this background, the Political positioning is truly otherworldly.

    Cameron, at last seeing the horror of that which awaits him in office, starts to spell out “home truths”-says Cons can no longer support Labour spending Plans-even for this year.

    Brown -in full knowledge of his own plans to shrink Public Spending from next year, leaps on this and derides Cameron for wanting to cut Public Spending “in a recession”.

    Brown’s stance is completely phoney-and only makes sense if we come out of recession next year, when he can say well my fiscal loosening got us out of recession-now we have to pay it back .

    But next year is only nine months away-the GE only 14 months away. Unless a miracle happens & we are back to GDP growth & increasing employment by then, Brown will be left stranded by this shrinking window of time, and forced to move from his posturing about “fiscal stimuli” , to the reality of his own plans for cutting Public Spending-and worse as Robert Chote indicates.

    This will level the playing field, but what will Cameron do?-will we see a contest over who cuts most, or what & where ?

    At least this will have some element of reality about it-which the present political “debate” lacks entirely.

  47. He might well have a look at the French – 78% approve of to-day’s general strike in response to Sarkozy’s tax and spending cuts.

  48. And having looked, what should he conclude ?

  49. That tax cuts/protection for the wealthy and spending cuts are not very popular.

    i can’t imagine many people on a march campaigning for Cameron’s strong medicine (if it exists).

  50. No of course public spending cuts aren’t “popular” with those who lose their jobs.

    They aren’t “popular” with those being thrown out of work in the Private Sector here.


    As to “protection for the wealthy”-that makes everyone angry- Lord Myners included, though somewhat after the event,

    The French Unions want Sarkozy to increase the minimum wage and scrap his plans to cut public-sector jobs

    So where does that get us to?

    Choices I think-

    An economy in which Private Sector Directors & Managers write their own cheques regardless of their competence? -not any more I suspect-whoever is in power.

    An economy in which Public Sector Employees demand better pay & pensions than their Private Sector counterparts-guaranteed by the taxpayer & untouchable?

    …we shall see if & when our Public Sector Unions make us choose.

    plus ca change…

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