I’ve been speculating about it for a couple of months, but in the Sunday Telegraph tomorrow we finally see a poll (as suspected from ICM, who tend to give the Liberal Democrats their highest levels of support) putting Labout in third place. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s last poll, of CON 40%(+1), LAB 22%(-6), LDEM 25%(+5). The Lib Dems caught Labour as recently as 2003, after the Brent East by-election, but as far I can see one has to go back to 1987 to find them ahead of Labour.

The Lib Dem score contrasts wildly with Populus’s yesterday – the two companies use very similar methodology. Populus’s fieldwork is conducted by ICM, their weighting figures are very close, they carry out almost the same re-allocation of don’t knows by past vote, the fieldwork dates for the two polls were the same. Possible differing approaches to polling the European election shouldn’t make a difference, since Westminster voting intentions were asked first. There is a slight difference in the question that is asked, but my guess is that most of the difference between these polls must be down to sample error.

ICM also asked about European voting intention. Topline figures, with changes from ICM’s last poll a week ago, are CON 29%(-1), LAB 17%(-7), LDEM 20%(+2), UKIP 10%(nc), Green 11%(+1), BNP 5%(+4). Again, we have a sharp contrast with Populus, who put UKIP second and the Lib Dems fourth. Mike Smithson is speculating that the difference might be down to ICM not prompting using the names of the minor parties, that would explain the difference in UKIP support – but ICM and Populus are showing broadly similar Green and BNP support. I guess we’ll have to wait for the tables to see.

UPDATE: Darrell in my comments has looked through past polls more carefully than I – there was a single poll in 2004 that had Labour in third place too.


114 Responses to “Labour drop to third place”

1 2 3
  1. hope these result represnte reality,this government has had it and the polls reflect this anlysis

    Report comment

  2. Wolf – not that I know, other than the stuff Paddy Ashdown was on about a month or so ago. It really isn’t as common as people think – it seems like more when you think back, but only 3 Tory MPs defected from the Conservatives to Labour or the Lib Dems during the slow death of the Major government.

    Report comment

  3. I’m disappointed that there won’t be an election-night programme. Sad case that i am, I’ve already booked Friday morning off to recover from staying up all night!

    Anyway, why aren’t the Euro votes being counted till Sunday? it just gives them more opportunity to stuff the ballot boxes with fake votes.

    Report comment

  4. @ Colin 4.58pm – usually I find your points highly researched, intelleligent and I respect them. This time your point is a little off beam I feel. You’ve compared EU election turnout for UK, France and Germany, that all use PR, and found them to be broadly similar.
    Then you compare Scottish & Welsh elections (PR)with UK Parliamentary ones (FPTP) and draw inference from that. You’re comparing apples and pears!

    For the record, in GE equivalent elections as near to the 2005 UK date you’ve used, German turnout was 77.7% (2005), France 60.4% (2007) and Italy 83.6% (2006). All higher than the UK figure you quote, Germany and Italy massively so.
    I never claimed voter turnout as the measure of success for PR. It’s the battleground you chose, perhaps a little unwisely?

    Report comment

  5. There looks like a poll on the front page of tomorrow’s Telegraph….or am I imagining things……?

    Report comment

  6. @Alec

    When people say “PR”, I’m not sure how often they really understand what they mean…
    “en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system”

    there are tons of variations on the theme, and I think the point is that the system you implement doesn’t magically alter the culture of a country.
    Germany and Italy remain distinctive in their cultural norms, and their PR systems yield different outcomes.
    Plugging PR into the UK would likeasmuch yield yet another outcome that reflects our own cultural norms:
    “www.worldpolicy.org/projects/globalrights/democracy/maps-pr.html”
    …you can’t generalise.

    PR is one of those things like Direct Democracy that sound great in theory, but when operating in the wild, they are subject to the vicissitudes of human nature.

    A preferential voting system would probably satisfy most (if not all) of the desires of people who profess an interest in PR. Ireland is about the only model for that, and turnout is respectable.

    Report comment

  7. @Alec

    When people say “PR”, I’m not sure how often they really understand what they mean…
    “en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system”

    there are tons of variations on the theme, and I think the point is that the system you implement doesn’t magically alter the culture of a country.
    Germany and Italy remain distinctive in their cultural norms, and their PR systems yield different outcomes.
    Plugging PR into the UK would likeasmuch yield yet another outcome that reflects our own cultural norms:
    “www.worldpolicy.org/projects/globalrights/democracy/maps-pr.html”
    …you can’t really generalise about the outcomes of PR being entirely negative; but it isn’t purely the reserve of “free and fair” democracies.

    PR is one of those things like Direct Democracy that sound great in theory, but when operating in the wild, they are subject to the vicissitudes of human nature.

    A preferential voting system would probably satisfy most (if not all) of the desires of people who profess an interest in PR. Ireland is about the only model for that, and turnout is respectable.

    Report comment

  8. whoops! sorry!

    Report comment

  9. Promsan,
    There’s also Australia’s IRV, which seems to work reasonably well. The only problems with that which I see are forcing people to rank large numbers of candidates (particularly in some of the more circus-y by-elections) and the fact that it’s still completely FPTP.

    Report comment

  10. Pete,
    It’s the EU rules. The election takes place over four days (Thursday-Sunday) and they force results to be sat upon. Now, that’s not saying it’ll always work…for example, if the penalty were simply a 100,000 Euro fine, a network might well find it to their advantage to stroke a check and unapologetically report on the elections; likewise, a leak to a network based outside the EU would be exceedingly hard to prosecute. I also do seem to recall there being a leak on the Dutch results in 2004, for example.

    Report comment

  11. And, of course, I now find another leak that I think may prove analogous to what I suspect may happen this week: The German Presidential election results got prematurely Twittered out. I have to say that Twitter is certainly becoming a pain in the arse for anyone trying to sequester anything these days.

    Report comment

  12. Alec-yes your right.

    Report comment

  13. @Promsan – I quite agree. In essence my desire is to see a system that permits much greater varition of opinion to be expressed within Parliament, therefore hopefully encouraging new entrants more easily. Whether this actually happens is up to us, rather than the system, although a well constructed PR system should make it easier to break the current party stanglehold.

    Report comment

  14. Alec,

    On the PR thing, two points:

    Firstly, France only uses PR for the Euros. For all National elections they use a two-round FPTP whereby any seats with no candidate securing 50% in the first round goes into “ballotage” two weeks later. Only candidates securing above a threshold (I forget actual number but it is around 15% of votes) can stand in the second round – though in practice it is often the two top placed candidates. For the presidential election only the two leading candidates progress – which is how the 2002 election produced a shock Chirac-Le Pen run-off.

    While a modified version of anglo-saxon simple majority FPTP, it is nonetheless FPTP. What the two-round system does do is allow a wider choice of party and ensure that in all seats the most popular candidate wins. It also moderates the wide swings which can occur under simple FPTP as voters can take stock of the national and local position after the first round.

    Secondly, while we can debate the merits of various systems and perhaps even reach a consenus on reform in the not too distant future, there is no way that any change in the electoral system is going to be in place before the next GE.

    Even assuming that Brown can get himself organised to introduce a bill and whip it through the Commons, with extensive use of guillotines, it will not pass the Lords. Brown cannot invoke the Parliament Act to push it through because there is less than a year to go. Even then, there is no time for it to be put into effect in practical terms.

    Any attempt to even try it will become clear for what it is – a blatant attempt to rig the election to save Labour from disaster – and as such, I doubt even the most passionate PR supporter on the LD benches would support it.

    Report comment

1 2 3