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”

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  1. Anthony

    What does this do to the Moving Average?

  2. This is entirely unbelievable, but not unforseen.

    Liberal Democrats on 25%? Even with a margin of error of 3% that still leaves them neck and neck with Labour. My, my- Asquith and Lloyd George will be rising from the dead in glee if this poll is found to be more accurate than not!

  3. Sorry Anthony, Seen it. Thanks.

  4. I think it is a bit of a rogue – but the timing is terrible for Gordon

  5. Am I right in thinking that even in the last years of the Major government the Conservatives never fell to third place in a poll of Westminster voting intentions?

    Coming from ICM (who are usually quite cautious, I think?) this is staggering stuff!

  6. The governent need to listen to us, call an election. Labour have no mandate to govern any more

  7. Sally C I think this poll may over state Liberal level of support, but in regards to Labour, I’d hazard a bet that its quite accurate; it seems consistant with the majority of recent polling outcomes for the level of labour support (down to 22-25% range in Westminster intentions)

    The Conservatives have held up thanks purely to David Cameron I think.

  8. How long will it be until Labour fall into the teens?

  9. 10 point difference down to sampling error – I shall have to get out my Normal distributions tables !
    Could the difference be explained by different filters for likelihood to vote?

  10. Wow, i’m kind of pleased and upset at the same time. My family were always loyal Labour supports, up until the last election really, so i’m a bit sad to see Labour in so much trouble, but i suppose they derserve it in many ways. But i’m also pleased because the Lib Dems are by far my favorite party, at least out of the big 3.

    I think Labour are going to get even lower on Thursday than the polls suggest, i think around 15% or maybe even lower. Then Brown will call an election next week for early-mid July. I also think the latest EU poll is overstating the Lib Dem’s numbers.

  11. This seems to be a little bit out in terms of the Libdem vote, and I suspect their real support is actually not above 22%, however the psychological impact of this will be large. I wonder will the BBC think this sufficiently groundbreaking to mention? They should, but given that they support Labour (a fact which I have made many formal complaints to them about, with supporting evidence, and not received replies, despite requesting them) I don’t think they will.

    Will this have an effect on the Conservative vote if the Libdems begin to be seen as plausible?

  12. Lol, M, don’t be naughty. I would dearly love to see his take on it though.

  13. I’m starting to disbelieve these low Labour polls somewhat, as from a purely subjective point of view I’ve met so many people who are are ‘always Labour, always will be’ core voters. Have so many of them reneged on their lifelong views?

    Maybe what these polls reflect is that these people are planning to stay at home. Because I just can’t see these voters switching to the Conservatives. Maybe some have decided that going Liberal isn’t such a betrayal at the moment.

    But I still think they will come back when the general election is called; and I bet the Labour campaign will focus on fear of the Tories to get them all out.

  14. The rise in the Liberal vote is something i expected to happen. The reason is Nick Clegg is doing very well and like David Cameron has made himself very available to the media.
    The Labour Party on the other hand have real problems and Harriett Harman seems to be doing a lot of work which the leader should normally be doing.For example the BBC News channel have been interviewing party leaders this week, Cameron , Clegg and Harman !.
    Is gordon hiding ?

  15. Despite the perceptions of some regular contributors, David Cameron does seem to have played a blinder, as all the ingredients (moats, tennis courts, servants quarters and the rest) for Tory Toff knocking were there for the using, but Labour seems not to have put a glove on them. Looking at the perceptions of who has been hurt, Cameron isn’t much ahead of Clegg, which he must regard with satisfaction. We shall have to see if GB can make up any lost ground, but to turn this round in eleven months?

  16. The article acompanying this poll is already on the telegraph online, and interestingly it is a really good time for it to have come out for D.C – not least because also tomorrow two party grandees (and former cabinet ministers) have come out criticising D.C’s european policy, it might have been really damaging for the tories (infighting over europe again etc) had the story not in all likelyhood become buried in tomorrows headlines.

    Oh, and Chris Newey would I am sure have his usual effervecient take on everything (explaining how it will all work out in the end…I am currently thinking of the bunker…lol)

  17. I think I said there was a chance of this happening when the previous poll came out, but I’m surprised by how high the LDs are. I suppose it’s the public sector vote transferring from Labour to LD; most of them still don’t consider voting Tory because they think their jobs might come under attack.

    I think Labour really will win less than 20% of the vote in the Euro elections. The problem for them is that there really is no reason for anyone to vote for them. Any genuine friend of the Labour party would not want to send a message that everything’s going well at the moment, which is what a Labour vote would be saying.

  18. @Richard – Gordon is always hiding. His nickname is Macavity after all.

    @Neil – Cameron would be bonkers not to privatise the BBC when they get in. Having a publically funded mouthpiece for the Labour party is crazy.

  19. Malcolm Hewson – ICM and Populus do deal with turnout slightly differently (Populus weight by it, ICM filter out those less than 7/10 likely to vote), but in practice the effect of the two different filters is almost identical. It’s certainly not feasible to think it could make that much difference.

  20. Richard B – the Conservatives did fall to 3rd place behind the Lib Dems several times during 1993.

  21. One question. Is the Conservative lead not technically 15 now?

    I don’t think the Conservative supporters need to say a lot. Poll says it all really.

  22. The comments on the polls (those that have actually stuck to them) have tended to concentrate on the rise in support for the LDs. What I think is more incredible is that the Tories seem to have been left largely undamaged by the whole expenses scandal. Can this really be true?? The media coverage would appear to suggest that some of the worst greediness has come from the Tory side (moat cleaning, duck houses etc) and that given the relative small numbers of Tories to Labour, the Tories comparatively seem worse…………….

    Maybe it is that David Cameron is ruthlessly culling his grandees. Getting rid of so much dead wood will axctually make the Tories even more electable than they are now. Contrast his performance with that poor old no hoper Brown. Labour has more power over their constituency Associations than the Tories but he seems totally incapable of acting.

    It is also bizarre that in the face of consistently horrendous polls, senior Labour politicians have not dispatched Brown. Maybe they were hoping that Thursday’s election could provide a glimour of hope or else the definitive launch pad for rebellion.

    My prediction is that post Thursday, Brown will pre-empt them and do something extraordinary with his cabinet. Set piece plotting is his forte and I suspect he will further dilute his Labour Government by trying to get the LIb Dems on board in some way. An anti Tory coalition might just work in elctoral terms but it would be a further disaster for democracy……………..we need change.

  23. I suspect when the expenses furore is a distant memory that the Tories will squeeze a few more percent from swing voters, mainly from the LibDem share.

    I can’t believe 60% of voters view themselves as ‘left wing’ which, lets be honest, is what almost all the other main parties represent in some form.

    The next general election will see Cons at 45% plus I’m certain.

  24. I think this poll is a more more accurate reflection of what is going on at the moment. Nick Clegg has had some very good media coverage over the past few weeks and I think that is helping the Lib Dems.

    It is quite interesting that the Greens are ahead of UKIP in the European poll. If this turns out to be accurate the Greens are heading for a very good result next week.

    I suspect 4th June will be an absolute disaster for Gordon Brown, but I reckon he will manage to hang on until the general election. Whether he goes for PR before then to prevent a Conservative majority remains to be seen.

  25. ICM polls usually show the Lib Dems highest – it seems likely this is due to an element weighting back to past vote in 2005.

    I’m a little surprised the Conservatives don’t seem to have been hit harder actually (although we will pour through the results next weekend). Nevertheless, quite a lot of people seem to think David Cameron has responded better.
    Or maybe these kinds of plague on all your houses things tend to hit whoever is behind worse.

    The Lib Dems have had cases aswell.

    Talking to non political anoraks about this, there is a great deal of cynicism and it’s very hard to predict what will happen in the immediate period ahead.
    But I think quite a lot of people are fairly measured.

  26. 29 September 2004; Populus had Labour in thrid place on 28% compared to the Lib Dems on 29% and Conservatives on 32%.

  27. Any scottish breakdown?

  28. @ SilHillian

    Right now a disaster would be a thumbs up to them because at the moment Labour is heading for a trainwreck of carnage and bloodshed.

  29. Hardpressedtqy: If the electorate are determined to be rid of Gordon Brown it would not be a wise move by Nick Clegg to be seen supporting the government and its current agenda.

    Lib Dems might be viewed by the voters as writing a very public political suicide note.

  30. @Hardpressedtqy

    Well there has just been a Downing street leak that Brown is considering making Balls chancellor! Moving Darling to the Home Office.

    If true, Brown must have completely lost the plot. Balls is a thoroughly disliked figure by his own side and comes across badly in the media as well.

  31. It could be abit of a rogue, we will have to wait and see if comres and yougov yeild similar results.

    P.s. sorry to post 3 time now

  32. we will have to wait and see if comres and yougovyield similar results, only then will we know the accuracy of this poll.

    P.s. sorry to post 3 times now.

  33. Great to see such positivity for the Lib Dems. However, I am not sure whether to take this too literally. Some polls have shown the Lib Dems as low as 14% so its hard to know which polls are the most accurate.

    My new prediction (Euro):
    Cons – 28%
    Labour – 19%
    Lib Dems – 18%
    UKIP – 13%
    Greens – 9%
    BNP – 7%

  34. Well one of the two polls is a bit out. I suspect the truth is in the middle. I wonder if the local elections are influencing people ? The Lib Dems have a reasonably strong local government base and people may be carrying over that support, esp where the Lib Dems are campaigning on a strong local record. “Pavement politics” is probably the best antidote to “snouts in the trough”.

  35. Labour seem to get the blame even when it is tories who take the expenses.
    Most of this week has been dominated by Bill Cash, Kirkbride, mackay (a close adviser to the Tory leader), and the duck house guy, yet labour fall to a record low, and the Tories go up.
    The expenses scandal ONLY hurts labour in any serious way. That is odd.
    Is it because corruption is always blamed on the government even when the culprits are form all over.
    Maybe when labour are in opposition they should fiddle the system, and perversely boost their own ratings as a result.
    You could argue that keeping the expenses scandal in the paper Kirkbride and Mackay have actually helped the tories, that might cheer them up as they have had a bad few weeks themselves.

  36. Anthony,

    I have written a comparison with the last time Labour was third in 2004 on my blog because I think there is a potentially big story there to be blunt. I think those people that are saying that the LD figure is the suspect one have hit the nail on the head….

  37. @Silhillian
    “Whether he goes for PR before then to prevent a Conservative majority remains to be seen.”

    I don’t think a government could do that without it being in their manifesto, or without a referendum.
    Someone please tell me I’m correct!!

  38. David Cameron certainly took a risk by taking a very hard line with his own MPs, the people he has to rub shoulders with most days of the week and including some personal friends, but polls like this completely justify the stance he’s taken.

  39. In the 1948 US Election, Harry Truman was down in double digits in the polls right up until election day i think aganist Thomas Dewey, and was predicted to lose in the Electoral College by about 400 to 100. He came back and won the popular vote by something like 5% and won in the Electoral College by 301-191.

    In the 1970 UK General Election, Labour were ahead by 5-10 points in the exit polls, and were predicted to get a 50-100 majority and lost by 3% and around a 30 majority to the Tories.

    In the 2004 US Election, John Kerry was 3 or 4% up in a lot of the exit polls, and Zogby predicted a 311 to 213 win for him in the Electoral College, and almost all other polling organizations predicted him to win too, and he lost by 2.4% and 286-252 in the Electoral College to George W. Bush.

    Could the same thing happen on Thursday and at the next General Election?

  40. Any form of PR would need new boundaries to operate from, which would have to be decided by the boundary commissions. Unless there is some form of PR which I don’t know about, which operates with single member constituencies.

  41. I said last night I was shocked by the low level of LD support. This poll is much closer to what I would have thought was the case. Potentially also very, very good for the Greens. Beating UKIP in an unprompted poll suggests some significant movement. As some others have suggested, I would think many pro Labour voters have given up in despair and opted for Greens, but its a sign that politics can eventually change.
    Not overly surprised about the Tory rating – as I’ve said before, people want Labour out, and a stuffed monkey would probably do the job, which is just as well…
    If Brown had any loyalty to the party that has been remarkbly loyal to him, he would position himself as the problem, shoulder as much blame as humanly possibly, and stand down. He won’t, as politicians seem to be incapable of looking beyond their own egos. Labour are paying the price of power without principle. Cameron’s turn next, although it won’t last as long.

  42. Neil – the AV system uses (potentially) the same constituencies plus a top up list vote.

    Steve Cooper – a Government can do anything if it wins a vote in the Commons and has sufficient time to use the Parliament Act if the Lords object. All that’s left is for Queenie to sign the deal, and that hasn’t been refused since I think 1704.

  43. It this poll is repeated on 4th June, how long will Gordon Brown last?

  44. The question is: will Brown try and carry on even if he comes 4th or 5th with 15% of the vote? The papers will be constantly hounding him to go if that’s the result.

  45. Speechless but don’t want Colin to think I am hiding.
    GB won’t go – expect day of long knives re-shuffle aftew Euro poll.

  46. The 2 polls showing Lib Dems firstly on 15% and then on 25% confirms, I think, what I said regarding being uneasy about having complete confidence in the polls in the present situation. Nevertheless, whether this poll is accurate in respect to the Lib Dems, I expect this will help them.

    The next few polls and the Euro election will be a test to see how much of a boost to the Lib Dems this poll has been to them.

    In my last comment I said I did not expect the Euro election to have any impact on the General Election. I may have been wrong. IF the Lib Dems do come in second in the Euro Election then the likehood of them coming second in the General Election must be greater. After that, watch out Tories :-)

    The fact that the Lib Dems also polled second in the Euro poll is definiately encouraging.

    Also I said that we should probably subtract 3 from the score for Labour given by ICM due to reasons explained several days ago. This suggests that we could see Labour soon on 19% !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    However, A WORD OF CAUTION, I think we should wait until the beginning of July when hopefully things have calmed down a bit to assess what kind of permenant pattern in the polls we might see.

  47. I have done some canvassing and my party has been damaged, but I couldn’t quantify how permanent that is or whether it’s a lot.
    I think most people do realise it’s not all politicians.

  48. I really don’t understand this polling. Can someone help me guys?

    I am new to this, and as I only just turned 18 will be casting my first vote on Thursday.

    In 24 hours, it seems in the Euro poll, Ukip has dropped from a high second to a very low 4th.

    I just don’t get it? Why has Ukip lost 9 points in the Euro election since last night?

  49. Seing as this has become a partisan forum in many cases I’m finding it hard to resist
    While I am overjoyed Labour are slipping into 3rd place I am dismayed they have got 22 instead of 21 or less
    I am hopeful they will fall into the teens at real elections – let’s remember polls ALWAYS overestimate their strength

  50. @ Maxking – sampling error, the mathematics, when the poll was taken….there are various factors. Congratulations on casting your first vote – it is a moment of great satisfaction – but do so on your convictions not on the polling.

    And, in opposition to a few on here I would regard no vote as “wasted”. Even if you vote for a hard left, or a hard right party or one which is totally opposed to my views and I find abhorrent – you have voted and made your feelings clear. Better that than sitting on ones backside and moaning.

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