I am expecting at least two new polls in the Sunday newspapers, our first chance to see how the public have reacted to the email smears and the political fuss around it over the last few days. I will update here as soon as the figures are available.

UPDATE: The Sunday Telegraph has a Marketing Sciences Ltd poll. My understanding is this is a sister company to ICM, with the poll presumably done by the sister brand because otherwise it would clash with ICM’s contractual obligations to the Guardian. The poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday.

The topline figures are CON 43%, LAB 26%, LDEM 21%, putting the Conservatives 17 points ahead. With the exception of a single MORI poll in February that in hindsight screamed “rogue poll”, this is the largest Tory lead since September.

On the assumption that this poll was conducted in exactly the same way as ICM’s polls, the changes since their last poll are Conservatives down 1, Labour down 5, the Lib Dems up 3 and presumably the “others” up 3 or so. It appears from this poll at least that Labour have suffered damage from the smear emails, but that it has been to the benefit of the Lib Dems, others (and I expect, non voters) rather than the Conservatives.

I’m expecting at least one more poll tonight, so we’ll see if it confirms this pattern.

Looking at the rest of the questions in the poll 36% of respondents said they blame Gordon brown for presiding over a dirty trick culture at number 10, 50% did not.

Asked who they would most like to see replace Gordon Brown were he to resign as Labour leader, Jack Straw lead on 23%, followed by David Miliband 14%, Alan Johnson 7%, Harriet Harman on 6%, Ed Miliband on 4%, Ed Balls on 3% and James Purnell on 1%. As usual, questions like this probably say a lot more about how well known Brown’s potential successors are, rather than how popular they woulb be as PM.

UPDATE 2: There is a second poll from BPIX in the Mail on Sunday has topline figures of CON 45%, LAB 26% – Lib Dems to be confirmed. It has been 6 months since the last BPIX poll was published, so changes can’t tell us much about reaction to the email smear scandal alone (Tim Montgomerie on ConHome is comparing it to YouGov’s last poll – you shouldn’t, my understanding is they use different weighting.)

There is normally some scepticism regarding BPIX polls because their methodology isn’t open. Their polls are weighted by past vote, but to what shares we don’t know. However, in the past their figures have been broadly in line with other companies, albeit, towards the more “Tory friendly” end of the scale. This one appears roughly in line with Marketing Sciences – the Tory score isn’t too different and they too show Labour being pushed down into the mid-twenties.

UPDATE 3: You’ve probably seen it by now, but for the record that BPIX figures for the Lib Dems is 17%.

UPDATE 4: Just had confirmation that the Marketing Sciences poll was done using the same methodology as ICM, so should be directly comparable.

95 Responses to “The public’s judgement on the email smears”

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  1. Thinking about this more perhaps the most interesting poll will be the Ipsos Mori one which should be coming out soon.

    Since Mori completely exclude people who are anything other than 10/10 to vote it may show up the support which has switched from Labour to Lib Dem as ‘soft’ support. In other words it may be the case that the left-of-centre electorate have been turned off Labour but are actually more likely to abstain than vote Lib Dem. Just a thought.

    If the Lib Dem vote is solid then it’s a danger to both Labour and Conservative because there are just as many Lib/Con marginals in the South as there are Lib/Lab marginals in the north.

  2. Is it just me, or is it really bizarre to have the BPIX Lib Dem vote as ‘to be confirmed’?

    Either you have a coherent set of figures – or you don’t. How can there be any change in whatever result the BPIX poll shows for the Lib Dems without changes to the Tory and Labour votes?

  3. Anthony

    Do you include BPIX Polls in your calculations particularly when they do not adhere to the polling council’s rules about being open about the methodology they use so we can’t be sure if their figures are representative even though they may have been in the past?

  4. As I suspected Labour are now struggling to keep to the 28 per cent that a few thought was their bottom line

  5. John,

    While a shift from Lab to LD should in theory assist LD in the Con/LD marginals (mainly in the South), the reality is that in most of these seats the Lab vote has already been squeezed almost to extinction. In any case, Con/LD margins are always difficult to predict because they often depend on purely local organisational / individual factors.

    What is far more likely to have notcieable impact is that the Lab-LD shift in Lab/Con marginals will deliver a disproportionate number of seats to Con than UNS would justify. Put another way, this may well also tie in with teh unwinding of Anti-Tory Tactical voting clearly evisdent in 1997 and 2001, but less so in 2005, to deliver an electoral landscape that appears less tilted to Labour.

  6. Little suprised how much the polls has been affected by ‘smeargate’, saying that the unrelenting obsession by the right-wing dominated media and also Cons crocodile tears over this it could have been worse – interesting to see if this a blip or this trend continues.

    I still believe the more promising news regarding the economy which will be impossible to burry, even by the said right-wing rags, and despite some polls to the contary the Labour party will get the benefits – cutching at straws I suppose, but have some credit in electorate that they will start to question what exactly the Cons would do – media gimmicky headlines will only go far and substance will be needed – this will be their downfall!

  7. @James – to say the Cons had no imvolvment in the Con funded Guido Fawlkes breaking of the story is incredibly naive.

  8. @Alec – good point and I believe in everything you say esp on the issue of Con shadow cabinet refusing to give up their 2nd, 3rd and forth jobs- this didn’t receive the coverage it deserved and if it had been Labour they would been absolutely slaughtered by the press.

  9. @ Chris – do you have any actual evidence of that? Or is it just a “feeling”?

    This is tipping into partisanship again. I’m sorry these poll results are obviously depressing for you, Chris, but if you want to spin them your way then LabourList looks like a good bet for you.

  10. 26%, Liberals on 21%. From those figures alone Labour ought to be concerned, after all following 1983 the Alliance almost pipped labour into third place (in % share of vote terms), so its not unaimaginable that a self mutilating new labour party might fall behind the Liberals this time round. The Liberal core vote seems stronger and % higher than in the aftermath of 1983, so I’d expect to see the Liberals put up a real challenge for second place in % share of the vote in the coming months; if; Labour struggle in maintain 27/8%.

    However as a Tory, the 43% can be read effectively as no change, and thats further demonstration of the potential threat posed by Liberals; as not 20 years ago enough voters would have switched directly to Tories in such an event as these, but today in many regions of the UK the Liberals are now being seen as a credible alternative. That worries me as a Tory, as they can win in our heartlands just as much as in labour ones too.

    Lastly, I think that a small labour recovery to 27-29% ought to be expected, if the Darling budget is actually written by him (if its another Brown budget then thats the final nail in New Labours ready-fit coffin!). The next polls coming will be interesting reading; will they reflect this polls findings? I’d suspect not, surely Labour can’t have melted down this badly already (and for a second time!)?

  11. @ Chris Newey

    “to say the Cons had no imvolvment in the Con funded Guido Fawlkes breaking of the story is incredibly naive.”

    Order-Order is not like LabourList, that is controlled by the Labour party. Guido gives our boys just as bad burning as he gives corrupt new labour.

    Can someone please moderate Chris pathetic bias-political rants please? I thought this was about discussing polls and predictions in a grown-up atmosphere.

  12. lib dems on 17% in BPIX poll as reported by conservative home

  13. putting all the new numbers in gives us a majority of 100 for the conservatives with very little diffrance between all election predicting softwere election calculus is stating a majority of 98 the same is ture with the figures for this month with this site and only slight verying with UK ELECT at 104 maj so overall a 100 majority is predicted.

  14. @ James Ludlow

    I never said that it was purely ex-ministers causing the 4 point drop, but I believe that without further assistance, the drop may well prove transient.

    However, Field, Byers, Milburn, Mahon have all decided to give Brown additional servings of cold revenge, and I expect further servings from other Labourites who felt Brown’s ire. It’s their actions which are likely to make the effects permanent.

  15. @ Staurt Gregory

    A majority of 98, can I ask if you rant through the regional variables in that? As the Scottish dimention, if not considered, can nock off a couple from the Tory majority.

  16. Obviously an awful couple of polls for Labour. Makes you wonder how much worse it will get after whats set to be a grim budget and bad GDP-unemployment figures are released in the next week.

  17. @ Chris Newey

    Could you explain which bit of your daitribe below is not partisan and adds to he debate on this polling website?

    “Saying that the unrelenting obsession by the right-wing dominated media and also Cons crocodile tears over this it could have been worse – interesting to see if this a blip or this trend continues.

    I still believe the more promising news regarding the economy which will be impossible to burry, even by the said right-wing rags, and despite some polls to the contary the Labour party will get the benefits – cutching at straws I suppose, but have some credit in electorate that they will start to question what exactly the Cons would do – media gimmicky headlines will only go far and substance will be needed – this will be their downfall!”

  18. Gin you’ve hit the nail right on the head.

    Can New Labour really recover to 27% in the coming month given the ‘austerity’ budget (if its Darlings) or the fiscal & irresponsible (if its another Brown job)? Where is the room to re-envigorate the core voters?

    For example, I was out canvasing in Stirling, and the ‘new build’ housing estates (McGuires majority really) and the biggest winner was the voters switching from Labour to ‘W’ – wont vote. Labour from my recient door nocking experience seems to be dying in ts heartlands. I fail to see much that could stmulate a recovery at all. The only hope is twofold so far as I can see:

    1. the bad polling leads to a ‘rally round the flag’ attitude. However given whats-her-names resignation of membership as a Labour member (former MP) this seems unlikely
    2. Darling delivers a statesman-like Gladstonian budget of reduced public expenditure a fresh ‘responsible and sensible’ budget.

    However its all extremely open to question and conjecture.

  19. Chris Newey,

    You’re not to be the only one being partisan today.

    Imagine how bad the feelings of anger and despair get when ‘your’ party are no longer in power!

    All those evil “right wing rags” pumping out, for years, unsubstantiated nonsense about just how bad a mess the previous (Labour) government left us in.

    Tories wall to wall on TV spinning how they’re ‘changing things’ for the best when in fact you know they’re just dismantling your precious ‘state’ bit by bit.

    Blairs/Browns names being dragged through the mud, all the things you belive in being irrevocably altered for the worse…

    Horrible isn’t it? Uncomfortable feeling?

    I’ve lived it for 12 years mate. Your turn soon ;-)

  20. @AndyG
    “The Conservatives must be slightly disappointed not to have benefited more out of this last week of unremitting negative coverage for Labour.”

    Realistically I don’t think the Tories can hope to get much higher than the mid 40s. What will decide their majority now is how low Labour’s support drops. And as bad as the last week has been, the effects of a hammering at the Euro elections (June) and the publications of MPs’ detailed expenses could be a lot worse.

  21. I think Paul(Brownoutin2010)’s brief comment is important.

    Over the past couple of years we have had polls somewhat yo-yoing between the levels that we have had, for example, for the last couple of months and one’s with Labour on around 28%. My guess is that this variation has been largely due to the effect of recent events at the times polls were taken shifting a layer of floating voters whilst underlying core votes have not changed much for several years. However, as Paul says, the polls today suggest that Labour is going below its 28% base, i.e. that they are losing core vote, although as 26% is within 3% of 28% we must acknowledge that the difference might just be due to sampling error.

    We don’t know without further investigation, but my guess is that it is not Labour’s e-mail smears scandal that has done the damage. Outside the minority of us who chatter about political matters, I am afraid such bad behaviour is, sadly, seen as par for the course.

    I suspect that the big new hit on Labour support, on top of the economic crisis, is the policing of the G20 summit. They are unlucky that the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough coincided with publicity about the police’s “kettling” tactics to detain demonstrators en masse, which appears to create voluntarily, on the part of the police, the sort of dangerous overcrowding that happened in Sheffield. And the public will not tolerate a second killing of a manifestly innocent person for no other reason than he was unwittingly on the edge of a major police operation, particlularly if there is then an initial attempt at cover-up. These concerns relate to specific events, but I suspect (again, one lacks data as yet) that they have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back” of popular acquiesence in New Labour’s disregard of basic and traditional English freedoms. As is shown by the editorial stance of the “Daily Mail”, which is clearly the swing national paper at present in opinion-formation and which is hardly the first one would have in past days expected to campaign for libertarianism.

    In relation to this point, the decision that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute Damian Green has major implications for the future of UK political processes, if not on public opinion.

    It is too late now, in terms of political support, for Labour to do anything about its failures in relation to human freedoms and to policing policy.

    All the above is as I see it, not necessarily as I want it.

    We have been waiting for polls, but clearly voting intentions may be changed by the budget and then the Euroelections. If Labour came fourth in the European elections, that really would be terminal for them: even third would damage them more than similar voting which has already happened on local election nights.

    Dean Thomson, your report of your canvassing experience is intersting and valuable, However, people in English equivalents of the Raploch stopped voting ages ago. In Southern England, the vote that won New Labour three General Elections was largely middle class, and that is vanishing too.

  22. “In Southern England, the vote that won New Labour three General Elections was largely middle class, and that is vanishing too.”

    And if Darling opts for higher taxes rather than (even) lower spending, it is likely that they will be the targets.

    Having already defected from Labour in droves AD may wave them a fond farewell as he tries to shore up core left support with a “soak the better off” budget.

    It will be fascinating to see how much of this Budget is about the nation’s finances, and how much is about trumping the Tories…..AD or GB ?

  23. dean thomason- no UNS as normal the minimum for the tories was 98 maj and the max 104 so there is manover room a bit anyway, but also taking into acount that in england what we must understand is that the english are more likely to vote for camoron than scots or welsh would so any scotland or wales effects could be cancelled out by england

  24. @Dean and your comment on corrupt new Labour is the height of impartiality? Jese

  25. @Chris – and there you have it. Make you a deal, stop posting and I’ll stop commenting on what you say :-)

  26. Can anyone remeber how Thatcher was regarded during Westland which was only 15 months before a big poll victory.
    Trusted less than Brown is now and an effective Kinnock could have seen her off.
    Of course big (turned out irresponsible – John Biffen’s opinion) Tax cutting bribes are not possible for the Government.
    Sleazegate etc may make a slight difference but it is the Economy that will determine the next election result.

  27. The level of ignorance about the economy is shocking. Well perhaps it isn’t as it’s partly the reason this country is in the mess we are in.

    When you hear reports of ‘green shoots’ and ‘past the worst’ it doesn’t mean that the economy is growing again (let alone returning to the easy borrowing and rising house prices of pre 2007) it means that the economy is continuing to worsen but at a slower rate.

    The only things people have to look forward to economically are rising unemployment and debts and falling living standards and house prices.

  28. @Jim Jam – Margret Thatcher was disliked by some, hated by others. However she had the respect of people who knew that no matter what they thought of her policies, she had the drive and mental capacity to see them through. I was this steel that saw her through. By comparrison GB is a pale imitation, blustering and ignorant.

    So no I do not think Labour will see their way back, the bookies don’t see labour on the way back. To understand this you have to look at what labour really stood for before new labour took over. Remember they were “of the people for the people”. This is not what labour are now, they have moved away from their core and now have little to no substance to keep them going. In essence they are a husk of career politicians and power hungry sycophants (GB destroyed all the other tallent on his way to the premiership)

    Paddy Ashdown said it quite nicely in an interview (from which I’m paraphrasing) – that the UK has been waiting for some time for the representation of the left- center left of politics to be represented by liberal veiws rather than the outdated principles no longer adhered to by labour. In terms of the narative of our times, it’s more yin yang with Lib vs Tory than the current format.

  29. sorry I wasn’t actually her steel :-( – should have said “It was her steel” :-)

  30. Keir – you are right about the respect Thatcher got from even her opponents who recognised she stood up for her interest group. My point is rather narrower concerning trust as during the Westland affair polls showed a large majority of people thought she had lied etc.
    Believing the PM is conniving distrustful and the rest does not stop them being re-elected.
    GB will lose the next Election (the issue is how well will the Tories do) but not because of sleazegate.If he was felt to be doing a good job by enough people the distasteful stuff would be overlooked like it was with Thatcher.

  31. The Budget strategy is emerging in the Press:-

    a)No cuts in Public Spending programmes.
    b)Efficiency Savings over n years in the future.
    c)Further Stimulus expenditure.
    d)GDP growth for 2010 of 1% or so.

    a)=Battle line with Tories over “Public Services”
    b)=jam tomorrow-sort out the real problem after they win the GE
    c)=Brownian policy-keep chucking money at it.
    d)=Everyone else will say this is nonsense-but Treasury forecasts are always wrong -& the public don’t care.

  32. Antony – are you going to do something with Keir’s partisan and extremly ill informed comments?

    I’m resisting the opportunity to tear this delusioned view apart, this isn’t the place for it – so I’ll truest you to be consistent and remove this ignorance from the board.

  33. Anthony

    I trust you will treat Chris Newey identically to Keir. For Newey to accuse others of being partisan and ill-informed is surely the epitome of hypocrisy.

  34. Chris – I have learned to rise above the partisan stuff as it does not change any minds. If anything it helps as it informs what attacks will coming and enables a rebuttle line to be worked out.
    Plus a modest bit of partian banter further down the thread keeps things going whilst we wait for the next poll.
    I think Keir normally stays within acceptable boundaries even if the below is on the edge but it is only an opinion after all and it is a rather well constructed sentence.
    ‘In essence they are a husk of career politicians and power hungry sycophants (GB destroyed all the other tallent on his way to the premiership’
    He has not called Labour voters mad or, as one fellow leftie did, call Daily Mail reader morons.
    This kind of petty insult is what we should avoid.

  35. @Colin

    Sounds like it’s going to be a ‘Brown budget’, rather than a ‘Darling budget’ from those points. The feeling I get from reading around is that a Brown budget is more likely to harm Labour than a Darling one.

    I’m glad we got some polls before the budget so that we can judge how it will be viewed.

    Personally, I don’t see any electoral benefit in going for a wildly optimistic ‘treasury’ forecast. The public is extremely sceptical of the government at the moment, so why give them yet another reason to be?

    Still, at least Labour have got George ‘Soundbite’ Osborne keeping them in with even a faint possibility. It’d be a bit dull and predictable if the Tories had anyone good as shadow chancellor.

  36. Borrowing now being forecast at 170 billion for the budget.

    Interesting policy, borrowing your way out of debt.

    With most people having to tighten their belts I’m curious to see how this budget is going to be received in the weekend polls.

  37. @MARK M

    Yes, I agree,but I always thought that this-above all of “his” Budgets -would be the most drenched in party political strategy.

    I’m not sure that I agree with your third para-from Labour’s point of view.
    If they can convince the public that 2010 will see some return to growth, then their tried & trusted ploy of threatening with “Tory Cuts” might have some reasonance.
    Their problem will be bridging the gap between Mandelsonian “look on the bright side”, and real world experience of unemployment & repossesion….but it can be done if they get a fair wind.
    Of course other perceptions in the public mind could still see them turfed out.

    I thought Osborne struck exactly the right note on Marr yesterday-he was very impressive-but as I say, if people want Mandelsonian “optimism” rather than Osbornian realism , he is wasting his time.

    pb say that the betting markets indicate a Con majority of 62 ….spot on Anthony !

  38. On the budget (moving on from the tit for tat of your more partisan than I am):

    What are people’s thoughts on how it will be received both by the press and by the voters? e.g.

    1) Will the press use headlines promoting the budget as AD and GB (or probably Peter Mandelson) would desire such as “Belt tightening” “Green investment” “investing for growth”
    2) Will the press go with a predetermined agenda such as “Worse recesion since 1945” or “£170bn – £3k for every person in the UK”

    and how to you think voters will react:
    1)More positive headlines – will they buy it and give GB a GB bounce? Or will they think it is more spin?

    2) More negative headlines – will polls contine to show 15pt deficits and mid twenties support or again will teh voters think we have heard it all before?

    One last question:

    Is all of the above irrelevant as what matters is performance and if AD et al. look good on TV and get good airtime whilst George O looks weak then the lead will drop to below 10pts?

  39. Thank you Jim Jam & Charlie. Arguing about how partisan other people are is as bad as being partisan in the first place.

    If someone else puts something up that you think crosses the line then, if they are a new poster then politely explain this isn’t really that type of discussion. If they are a regular poster who should know better, ignore them.

    Don’t (a) take the piss, (b) whine about it and definitely not (c) post a partisan argument back. The whole point of having a rule about partisan comments here isn’t because they are instrinsically bad, but because they drive out sensible conversation – and in that sense responding to them is as bad or worse as making them in the first place.

  40. I got it right i said 17 points what do i win!!!

  41. @Jim Jam – I agree it is all about trust and that’s where I think we will see swings in the polls as we did with the major giv. When the gov are bad they will lose votes. If the tories and libs also end up with smear though it is unlikely to lose them as many votes as much as it will cause an increase in voter appathy. I still believe that the biggest issue to face the polls this year will be turn out. As always this will play to the Tory strengths as their voters are always more willing to get out and vote (we’re all grumpy old men at heart).

    @ Anthony – I really am trying, I hope you see that.

    @Chris – :-P

  42. @Colin

    Agree on the point that if Labour can convince people that there will be reasonable growth in 2010 then they have a chance of the ‘Tory cuts’ sticking.

    However, given everything that has been going on lately, if the chancellor’s forecasts are immediately shouted down by the independent forecasters, they are going to have a very difficult task of convincing people outside of the Labour hardcore (which, at 26% is about all they have at the moment) that they are right and the others are wrong.

    Of course, if the independents are forecasting doom and gloom they can hardly go along with that if they want to win, although they might pick up some “well they’re being honest and I like the way they are adjusting” votes.

  43. The last poll puts the swing from Labour to Conservative 45%, to the Liberal 17%. I find it extremely hard to believe that the working class labour core are switching credibly to Camerons Conservatives. I have a gut feeling that the first one was prob. more accurate with the voter switch.

    One thing is clear, the email scandal (I refuse to call it -gate!) has had a major affect on labour core votes, and since we fail to have a Scottish opinion poll we can’t know how the scandal has affected key lab/con margials there- I’m thinking Renfrewshire East, Dumfries & Galloway, Stirling and the Edinburgh lot.

    So a picture is kind of forming, but only applicable to English marginals me thinks.

  44. I think one number that will be interesting to see will be the Labour average voting intention. No doubting that there are many voters who would never vote Conservative but if a number of these are turned off from voting altogether by recent events then it will be just as bad news for Labour.

  45. P.S. on that point, Anthony have the cross breaks been published from either of the latest polls? If they have could you provide a link.

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