New ICM poll

After all my ponderings about whether we would see Labour fall to third place behind the Liberal Democrats in the next ICM poll, their actual poll shows nothing of the sort. The full topline figures are CON 39%(-1), LAB 28%(-2), LDEM 20%(+1). Others are at 14%, somewhat lower than in other recent polls – this divides between 4% for UKIP, 4% for the BNP and 2% for the Greens.

So a contrast to the other polls over the weekend. The trend at least is similar, both Labour and the Conservatives down, the lead substantially the same, minor parties up. The degree, however, is much less – and consequently we have Labour up in the high twenties rather than the calamitous figures we’ve seen from some other pollsters. I expect some of the reason may be ICM’s re-allocation of don’t knows, which in practice tends to help a party down on it’s luck. We won’t know for sure till the tables are out.

Other questions show a similar picture to YouGov, ComRes and BPIX’s findings. Most people (69%) think Gordon Brown has handled the crisis badly, while David Cameron has done well (55% agree).

145 Responses to “New ICM poll”

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  1. @Neil – I’m not sure you are correct about nobody caring re ‘Cameron’s Millionaires’. Some don’t but others will, and I can guarantee that as soon as the shine comes off a Cameron government, as it surely will, this kind of issue will become a vulnerability for the Tories as a party and Cameron personally. I’ve always said that long term, even though he’s further from my politics, the Tories would have been better off with Davis as leader.
    In terms of what influences the GE, rather than what happens after it, I suspect the party funding and second jobs issue could have a bigger impact on Cameron. Its a risk area for him, and I would be surprised if there wasn’t a major ‘scandal’ erupting in the media at some point in the next year. The prevailing mood will determine the electoral impact such a scandal might have, but given the mess Labour are in I doubt it would be a game changer, although I never say never in these things.

  2. In a sense it matters not how much the (potential) government front benches earn or have. If we have to have millionaires in charge, I think people would prefer competent and reasonably honest millionaires. Whether we get this or not is another matter entirely.

    In this current situation of high “others” popularity, it seems that the Conservatives no longer need 40%+ to get a worthwhile majority – say Labour go down to 25% or so, then the Conservatives could get say a 60-80 majority fairly easily. Not quite a landslide, but I imagine they’d settle for that instead. That’s assuming things don’t back to “normal” in the next few months.

  3. I’ve said it before, but the millionaire jibe just doesn’t work. Has anyone counted the millionaires in Parliament? I would bet my house that the majority are millionaires. It’s not that big a deal these days. Simply by paying off your mortgage and inheriting a parent’s house you will be halfway there in most parts of the country.
    It’s possible that the Tories’ millionaires are richer on average, but so what? Wouldn’t most people expect Tories to be richer than Labourites? And don’t forget that Labour has Sean Woodward and Geoffrey Robinson who are ‘serious’ millionaires (and probably several others too).
    Please note: this is just an observation. I am undecided who to vote for at the forthcoming election. I just get irritated at ludicrous class-envy propoganda.

  4. Sorry. ‘propaganda’.

  5. Anthony,
    I hate to ask this, but could you (or someone) pull the guys feuding over the BNP apart? The discussion feels a bit worn out and is cluttering this thread with a lot of highly irrelevant discussion. Thanks.


    A thought did strike me: I think it is possible that Labour does have a “base” of about 25% or so, but this particular scandal drew some blood and actually tore away a few points from that, at least temporarily, amid the outrage. I can see party faithful on both sides being outraged, and it’s possible that a chunk of the base is having a fit of pique and listing one of the third parties in the polls. They’ll eventually come home, one expects, but for the moment they’re having their own fit over this and that’s knocking Labour around unusually badly (especially on the computer surveys).

  6. Proms…
    The mud won’t stick to the Tories, as most people expect their front bench to be loaded – which seems to imply some sort of competence!

    It could easily stick IF hte media cottoned on to the fact that allowances are paid irrespective of need. So, if mortgage interest up to £22k was allowed by the taxpayer, then anyone with a nice big house bought outright would be a fool not to take out a mortgage on it that cost, what? Erm, well how about £22k a year in interest? The capital sum (@5% that would be £440k) could then be invested for the duration as a nice easy win and paid for by you guessed it, you and me.

    I’m sure in the old days a new boy was asked whether he had private means, and if he did was told to use them, and if not was told to fix himself up with a pad and put in a claim.

    It would show “a bit of leadership” for the wealthier members (on all sides) to write a big fat cheque to cover all the expenses they’ve claimed. Starting with the chaps at the top.

    The reason why Labour seems to be losing some of its core is simply that people recognise hypocrisy when they see it. They will return when (or if) Labour kicks out the tax-“avoiders”.

  7. John TT,

    I’m not sure most people take a significant enough interest in politics to be swayed on a daily basis by whatever minor policy changes are made.

    It has taken about 4 years to erode the election winning level of Labour support and I suspect it will take a similar (at least) time to win it back (on the understanding that enough is done to do so!).

    What I believe is that, no matter what good deeds are done in the next 12 months, Labour can only hope for a modest gain of share to perhaps 30% before an election. There is not much historical president for more than that.

    I think those of us who take a keen interest expect much more volatility than is actually possible sometimes.

  8. Alec – I don’t think there is much risk for Cameron on the “second jobs” issue anymore. After the election it’s odds-on that all his frontbenchers will have to give up their second jobs anyway in order to accept ministerial positions, so I’d expect most of them to be winding them down already as Hague is doing. At any whiff of trouble, it will be increasingly easy for them to drop them.

    At the same time, Labour are likely to be increasingly less keen about raising the issue since the chances are that in a years time lots of their frontbenchers, newly freed from the shackles of office, will be looking to take up second jobs outside Parliament.

  9. Two interesting items in today’s papers :-

    Cameron engineers Anthony Steen ( “estate management”) & Sir Peter Viggers ( floating duck pond) standing down as MPs. Hogg of the Moat has already done so. The Tory Star Chamber will pronounce on repayments. -a good sign for Cons & a signal of the battle ground to come on who sacks most MPs first.

    IMF praise the Government’s “bold and wide-ranging,” anti-recessionary measures.-a good sign for Labour -though an IMF statement that it urged the government to adopt more ambitious plans to reduce the huge scale of government borrowing takes us smack into the Brownian ” investment” vs “cuts”.

  10. Alec / Anthony,

    There is another side to the “second jobs” issue which Brown does not appreciate but many others in his cabinet will, and so could lead him to back-track on his proposals to ban second jobs.

    The main reason for allowing outside interests is simple:

    Just as there is an argument to say that MPs who have worked in the “real world” before standing bring better experience and expertise to parliament, so too an outside interest ensures that an MP can keep in touch with the real world rather than being isolated in a Westminster coccoon.

    But, for Labour MPs looking forward to next year there is another, purely personal, ineterst in taking up a second job. Apart from Ministers at all levels who will see their pay and privileges disappear, and so will want to plug the gap in their personal fiannces, there are up to 200 MPs who may be facing the prosepct of enforced early-retirement / unemployment.

    For many, particularly the career politicians, they will be going into the labour market at a time of widespread unemployment and with very little in the way of marketable skills / experience to offer. Taking on the odd consultancy / directorship / what have you now will surely help them find their way back into a productive job elsewhere.

    Alec is frankly wrong on the second jobs issue.
    It is right that Ministers – who have a salaried public appointment in addition to their role as a constituency MP – should relinquish any external appointments, but on the other hand back-bench MPs should be encouraged to take on at least one such role, if not more.

    The question we should be asking our MPs is not “why have you got a second job ?” but “what are your external interests and how do these expand your understanding of the wider world ?”

    As to the millionaires question: why should wealth debar one from public service ?

    Should I resign from my local council because I have above average earnings ?

    In what way would the public be better served if they are represented mainly by the feckless and idle ?

  11. Paul – are you saying that those on or below average earnings are feckless and idle? I know plenty of feckless idle people who earn above average earnings. Hell, I only have to look in the mirror… :)

    The “millionaires question” will go away once the allowances system is re-ordered so that rents are paid rather than interest, and travel, but nothing else.

    Presumably salaries will be kept in line with comparable countries.

    Personally, I’d rather have a wealthy person representing me than a poor one – in my view they are more likely to act according to my wishes rather than the whips’.

    It’s just that I’d rather the wealthiest didn’t rip me off through the allowances system.

  12. Not directly related to poll figures, but likely to adversely affect the economy, and thence the polls.

    An important (and worrying) piece of news was released an hour ago. S&P have downgraded their outlook on UK finances. This is not a downgrade from AAA, but it notifies the market that a downgrade is being considered.,1,1,3,1204846854464.html

    This will push the interest rate the government has to pay on its debt up, and (because of the increased chance of a debt downgrade) reduce the likelihood of foreigners buying Brown’s debt.

  13. Has Brown proposed to ban “second jobs” ?

    I thought he had merely proposed transparent declaration of them & their details.

    Backbench MPs who have no official second jobs should be encouraged to take private jobs-paid or unpaid. MPs don’t operate on a five day week-their hours are very flexible, as is evident by the queues of them lining up on the media at all hours of the working day.

    Career politicians who know nothing but machine party politics are the reason for the slow strangulation of democracy in HoC.

    It would be interesting for the proposed second jobs register to show the hours spent by Ministers & others on their official jobs for which they are rewarded by the taxpayer with a second salary.

  14. Anthony

    Are you able to say from your sources or knowledge how many MP’s have had their expenses investigated by the Telegraph and how many are still to be subjected to scrutiny. It is hard to make out since we only seem to hear about those MP’s who appear to have transgressed in the eyes of that paper.

  15. I’m still surprised to see the conservatives ahead when they don’t even have any policies of note (apart from saying the government are awful of course). Now that does reflect badly on labour – an opposition with no other policy than to say you are bad.

    How come the media accept this?

  16. John TT

    No, I know many people who work hard but are paid below average incomes – and vice versa. (Don’t confuse “earn” with “receive” )

    The point is that those who are working hard are generally unable to afford the time to devote to public service – while the feckless and idle – who have the time – generally can’t be bothered and are happy for someone else to deal with the many things they complain about.

    Quite agree your point about those not being dependant on their parliamentary salary (not to mention expenses) for their livelihood are more able to take an independent / principled stand in the face of the whips. That is why the whips have always been afraid of MPs with private means, and so try to dig up “other” dirt in order to keep them in line.

    As to the ACA – Transparency is not enough, the scheme stinks and needs to be replaced.

  17. Nick – I haven’t been keeping tabs, but the Telegraph are also releasing lists of MPs they think have behaved well each day. IIRC somewhere on their website there is a list of all the MPs they’ve looked at so far, which you could tot up if you were minded too.

  18. Andy,

    “I’m still surprised to see the conservatives ahead when they don’t even have any policies of note”

    I would be surprised too Andy if that were in any way true! But it isn’t.

    Taken from the policy pages of the Conservative website (a random selection, you can see more yourself if you dare to look rather than just parrot Labour spin);

    -‘A massive expansion in the provision of real apprenticeships’
    -‘Allowing struggling firms to defer their VAT bills’
    -‘Cutting the main rate of corporation tax’
    -‘Cancelling Labour’s planned increase in the small companies tax rate’
    -‘strengthen police powers of stop and search’
    -‘directly-elected police commissioners’
    -‘an annual limit to control the numbers admitted via immigration’
    -‘a high-speed rail line connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with the Continent through the Channel Tunnel’
    -‘No third runway at Heathrow

    Etc, etc, etc…

  19. Presumably we don’t hear too much about these policies because they aren’t really eye-catching

    Apart from the “dog-whistle” immigration and more power to the “boys in blue” ones.

  20. Ivan

    Nice to see someone actually use facts. It really brings an argument to a close quickly. I did notice the PM use the phrase ‘spending cuts’ in every answer at PMQs yesterday. Looks like this will be Labour’s attack line for the next election, whenever that chaotic event happens :)

    That could fall flat on it’s face if S&P’s news today flows through to a downgrade. I really hope it doesn’t come to that, but if that’s what it takes to convince people that we can’t afford to go on as we are then so be it.

  21. Sure, I wasn’t claiming they were all amazing vote winners, just that they do exist at least!

    ‘Eye-catching’ for much of the electorate right now would just be some semblance of competance I suggest.
    Whether rightly or wrongly Cameron (and more recently Clegg) appear more successful on that score than Brown of late.

  22. Funny how the IMF approving of the bold fiscal stimulus plan wasn’t picked up by your antennae, Mark.

    A downgrade is only likely if the economy deteriorates markedly further. Relative to Japn and Germany, we’re not in basket case territory.

    I don’t think you can claim a debate is closed in this period of history. What is so extraordinary about it is the impossibility of accurate predictability (which in itself is a de-stabilising factor)

  23. Mark M,

    I think the S&P thing could give interviewers some spikey questions to ask of Cameron to be honest.

    If somebody (current government or ‘one to be’) doesn’t start talking about major cost cutting soon a downgrade will definately result.

    That’s not fun and games with the sort of debt figures we hear bounded around for the UK. It’s back to 4million+ unemployed and 15% interest rates if we’re not careful!

  24. Well said John – this obsession with any bad news and the ignorance of any potential good speaks volumes of the mentality Labour has to contend with.

    Funny Cameron, who is always quick to quote IMF, didn’t mention this at PMQ’s yesterday.

    @Ivan – i’m afraid your confusing empty, headline gimmicks as policies!

  25. ANDY-Ivan might have suggested also that you read the “Where we stand” statements on some 25 issues.
    These will give you an idea of Conservative philosophy.

    You may not like it-but just because you havent read it does not mean it doesn’t exist.

    John-that was an uncharacteristic response from you.
    What I enjoyed about most about your posts was your willingness to discuss differing political viewpoints, rather than resort to tired tribal cynicism.
    Ah well!

    On the matter of the “culture” at Westminster which has given rise to the blatant abuse of taxpayers money by MPs for personal gain -this about sums it up :-

    “You know what it’s about? Jealousy. I have got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral. …….I was never told otherwise. As far as I am concerned, I don’t know what the fuss is about…..
    it is the fault of this wretched Government to introduce Freedom of Information ….What right does the public have to interfere in my private life? None,…..Do you know what this reminds me of this whole episode? An episode of Coronation Street. This is a kangaroo court going on….I never claimed mortgage interest”

    From Anthony Steen who just stood down as Tory MP for Totnes after claiming £87k over four years on his country pile .

  26. Ivan, if you read the report, you wouldn’t have written that. A couple of quotes :

    the ratings on the U.K. continue to be supported by its
    wealthy, diversified economy; a high degree of fiscal and monetary policy
    flexibility; and its relatively flexible product and labor markets.


    The rating could be lowered if we conclude that, following the election,
    the next government’s fiscal consolidation plans are unlikely to put the U.K.
    debt burden on a secure downward trajectory over the medium term,” Mr. Beers
    said. “Conversely, the outlook could be revised back to stable if
    comprehensive measures are implemented to place the public finances on a
    sustainable footing, or if fiscal outturns are more benign than we currently

    So nothing is certain Ivan. Words like “could” and “or” quite clearly reflect uncertainty.

    One way of returning to high unemployment, high interest rates and despair would of course be to cut too deeply for ideological reasons.

  27. Colin, I’m sure Cameron will flesh out some pretty dynamic looking policies in time, but Ivan’s list was a bit pathetic, you must admit!

  28. MARK M-It is clear from PMQs that Brown intends to stick with the “investment” vs “cuts” approach.

    We will see a whole new lexicography which portrays Labour cuts as “efficiency savings” and any public expenditure-good , bad & indifferent ,-as “investment” .

  29. John:-

    “The rating could be lowered if we conclude that, following the election,
    the next government’s fiscal consolidation plans are unlikely to put the U.K.
    debt burden on a secure downward trajectory over the medium term,”

    And that is the key point-it is what the economic argument in the GE will be all about.

  30. Colin – couldn’t have put it better myself! At least we can stop talking about Toffs and Stupid Smiles if we embrace your new lexicon!

    re the politics of envy – I reckon Cameron is bracing himself for a lot more of that from reluctant retirers. it’s mor elikely to come from tory MPs than labour MPs, who are far more likely to try to defend themselves than to attack their persecutors in that way.

  31. John TT,

    “A downgrade is only likely if the economy deteriorates markedly further”

    Nothing political in this John, the problems are global, but does it not worry you that people are talking about ‘green-shoots’ when things are still actually getting worse (albeit at a slower rate)?

    For instance recent optimism has caused many, that were waiting, to place their homes for sale over the spring at (according to rightmove) rather over-hopeful prices.

    Given that there has been no equivalent surge in potential buyers for these properties I suspect the normal rules of supply and demand will push prices down further still.

    What I mean to say is that unless decisive action is taken on the public finances we are holding ourselves tied to the hope that all gets better. What if it doesn’t?

    Or at least not any time soon. Or, as I’ve pointed out with the House price example, the possibility of more severe corrections ongoing.

    I know you are a believer that ‘Gambling’ of a kind got us into this mess. We should not be ‘gambling’ our public finances on a quick recovery either.

  32. So, Colin, what happens if S&P “do a Lumley” and turn round this time next year to say how brave and kind good old Uncle Gordon is , to quote them, “if fiscal outturns are more benign than we currently
    anticipate.” ?

  33. john:-

    “One way of returning to high unemployment, high interest rates and despair would of course be to cut too deeply for ideological reasons.”

    ..or to put it another way :-

    One way of returning to high private sector unemployment, high interest rates and despair would be to refuse to cut any significant public expenditure for ideological reasons, and place the whole burden of correcting the public finances on tax increases–for ideological reasons.

    In its report, the IMF said that the Government should focus on “putting public debt on a more firmly downward path faster than envisaged in the 2009 Budget.”

  34. “I reckon Cameron is bracing himself for a lot more of that from reluctant retirers. it’s mor elikely to come from tory MPs than labour MPs,”

    Oh dear oh dear john!!

  35. Ivan, I’m not a gambler ever since a narrow escape on a Cheltenham Festival, so I’m not overly-optimistic.

    What I’m saying, and I think I’m agreeing with you if I remember past posts , is that instability itself is a danger, and I see the point that negative S&P reports can themselves add to uncertainty, and damage markets. The answer is I believe to tread a very fine line, not engage in the “chaos” of a general election amid hurried, hasty policy formations.

    The issues will be much clearer this time next June, and if we’re still talking, I’ll defer top your greater perception if it turns out things get a lot worse.

  36. Colin – how would that speech you quoted have sounded from a Labour MP? Completely ridiculous, as they have never used the phrase “that’s the politics of envy” What’s so contentious about that? The phrase is used to justify (sometimes correctly) the hanging on to great wealth in the face of attacks from leftist administrations seeking to make pips squeak.

    The only ideological difference that Darling makes from Osborne is that he believes in raising taxes during growth, and cutting them during recession, rather than the other way round.

  37. “So, Colin, what happens if S&P “do a Lumley” and turn round this time next year to say how brave and kind good old Uncle Gordon is , to quote them, “if fiscal outturns are more benign than we currently
    anticipate.” ?”

    Well that will make things very interesting-and timing will be everything.
    GB can’t use good news at the eleventh hour it will be too late. He can’t forecast good news-people don’t believe his forecasts.

    He needs manifestly verifyable green shoots-attested by IMF, et al by Feb/March next year.

    And even then-as Anthony so often points out , there has been a suggestion in the Polls that voters want a change-even when they think GB can best sort it out….and it’s a while since Polls showed the latter!

    And there is still the IMF question about the Public Finances going forward.-
    Will GB just say -“Green Shoots-Recovery soon-Tax revenues will sort the Public Debt-no need for nasty Tory cuts & we won’t put taxes up-honest”

    And of course-as you will no doubt point out -how does a Cameron pledge of Prudence & Debt reduction appeal when GB is saying -it’s all over folks & we fixed it?

  38. I’ve waded through the last 20 or so posts having just been out a while.
    I have one questions, how good have S&P and the IMF been at predicting the matters their pronouncements on are making the news today?
    Rubbish is the answer for the IMF and probably the same for S&P. – A bit like the BoE.
    I find it bizarre when media and opposition politicains quote Mervyn King on fiscal expansion when he got it so wrong last year, only one member of the MPC got it right.

  39. Ivan:
    when I said ‘policies’ I did mean policies of note (as John suggested) and the ‘where we stand’ list is hardly set in stone (which is probably the point but it does then seem populist).

    And when I say policies, you know, properly funded workable policies.

    That was my comment – in that even though there is a lack of this, and Cameron constantly saying ‘change’ whenever he can, it is enough to say the government are bad.

  40. “And when I say policies, you know, properly funded workable policies.”

    Like the ones Labour have been implementing recently you mean? ;-)

  41. Frederick Stansfield

    You are quite right that national poll data will have to be interpreted with great care in the light of local factors. his was so anyway in 4+ party Scotland.

    It is true that the issue of expenses will decay, but not till after the election. Here are some of the things that will keep it going.

    Prosecutions and Appeals
    Speaker bye election
    Deselections and “Retirals”
    Selection of new candidates
    Party morale
    Party Funding
    New expenses rules
    Increase in MP pay
    Two jobs

    It would be impossible to bet most of these things dealt with in a few weeks.

  42. Jim Jam
    Edmund Conway in the Telegraph does explain on one of your points. Yes, he says, they got the ratings dead wrong for CDSs, but sovereign debt is much simpler to analyse (relatively speaking) and so the ratings are far more likely to represent actual risk.

    The warnings are very clear. S&P are saying “if you don’t sort your finances out, we’re going to downgrade you”.

  43. “john t t

    The mud won’t stick to the Tories, as most people expect their front bench to be loaded – which seems to imply some sort of competence!

    It could easily stick IF hte media cottoned on to the fact that allowances are paid irrespective of need”

    I’d imagine there’s plenty to come… the Telegraph people aren’t stupid… they know they’ve found a journalist’s crock of gold.
    I would expect them to have had many meetings planning how they’re going to release it for maximum impact: on their sales and reputation as the first port of call for disgruntled voters.

    We’ve already started to hear rumblings of thunder over the BBC’s expenses, and for some wounded MPs, a bout of revenge against the journalist class, directed at the Beeb may be further sport for the Telegraph to benefit from.

    Then there’s the great unmentioned… outside earnings!

    The thing about this whole thing is that it’s like watching a hammy disaster movie… slow motion explosions and collapsings… and a predictable plot.

    The recession is going to last long enough, and hurt enough for the media to be legitimised to go the full 12 rounds with the politicrats.

    If I was a betting man, I’d expect the Telegraph are preparing a special treat for MPs the last couple of days before the June election.

    …imagine an absolute ton of material, with a dedicated team searching, sniffing, sifting, and sorting, selecting targets, and building a strategy.

    Cameron as PR man, is alert like a fox to the sound of the hunt; Brown, well… unless he suddenly appears on telly stroking a white cat with a scar down his face like Donald Pleasance, he’s [rude word]-ed.

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