Norwich’s University & College Union have commissioned an ICM poll for the forthcoming by-election in Nowich North. The topline voting intention figures for the by-election are (with changes from the general election shares of the vote) CON 34%(+1), LAB 30%(-15), LDEM 15%(-1), Green 14%(+11).

This is the equivalent of an 8 percent swing to the Conservatives, pretty much in line with national polling at the moment, though beneath those figures the actual shift has almost all been from the Labour party over to the Greens. The sample size was only 500 (and once don’t knows, unlikely to votes and so on were taken out, the voting figures were based on only 294), so there’s a hefty margin of error, but the Conservatives start the race slightly ahead.

This is of course an early poll – the by-election campaigning has barely started and Labour haven’t even named their candidate. 18% of the people ICM contacted weren’t even aware there was a forthcoming by-election, and 24% said they didn’t know how they would vote (as usual ICM re-allocate a proportion of these people based on how they voted at the last election, without this adjustment the figures would have been CON 35%, LAB 28%).


71 Responses to “First Norwich North poll”

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  1. Okay, even allowing it for being Norwich- and caveats on the size and time of the poll- the Green figure is impressive, not least as an indicator that Labour (ex) supporters may not stay at home but switch to Greens. I would suggest long term it further marks the shift from tribal party loyalty to many more ready to change.

    Interesting if LD fall behind the Greens, would that help swing LD back to a slightly more left Party?

    I would suggest that once you vote Green it means that you might vote Green again some time…Goes with the strong EU Green vote…

  2. Does anyone have any idea when this by-election is likely to take place?

    If it takes place before the Labour party’s conference, and they lose it, then a leadership challenge must become more probable.

    This by-election may prove to be critical for Labour’s future, or lack of it.

  3. Isn’t Ian Gibson standing as an independent, in protest at being scapegoated? If he does, it makes this poll worthless.

  4. If those figures are right, they’re actually fairly reasonable for Labour- better than alkmost all here were predicting on the Norwih North thread, and might improve when they select a canddiate.

  5. Phillip-

    I personally doubt the result of this seat will plunge the government furtherinto the mire. I think they expectation is that Labout will lose, so it won’t surprise anyone. Were they to narrowly hold on, however- well, they would be able to present that as a bit of a triumph I think.

    I think it will be worse for Labour if they lose Glasgow NE as its a seat as safe (if not safer) than Glasgow East was.

  6. Stuart,
    I live in Norwich North , and much to my disappointment and that of many others Ian Gibson is not standing.

  7. Stuart / Graham,

    If Dr Gibson had intended to stand in protest at being deselected, he would have done so at a GE rather than provoke a by-election.

    Also, given that he is not in prime health, he may prefer to retire with his dignity intact rather than face the pressure of a needless election campaign – what would he then do if he won?

  8. I remember the days when protest votes used to flood towards the LibDems, now it’s the Greens. Maybe the LibDems are just too indistinct these days?

  9. Odd how a swing to the left creates a Conservative gain.

    more: http://bit.ly/cpXAy

  10. The Liberals fail to be associated with anything distinctive anymore. Heavans only knows why- they have a federalist constitutional radicalism about them for example so this current constitutional/expenses debate ought to have allowed for them to make signifcant headways.

    In my opinion Clegg simply isnt as politically aware as Kennedy would have been in todays political climate.

  11. Odd how a swing to the left creates a Conservative gain.

    —–

    Good point.

    People are moving away from Labour but not to the Conservatives. (At least, not in significant numbers).

    And yet it will the Conservatives who gain the seat.

    Repeated across the country at a GE and these voters (splitting the left vote) will ensure a comfortable Tory majority.

    This suggests that – although almost certainly too late – Labour could win back a lot of it’s lost support by concentrating on these disaffected voters.

  12. If the LibDems have any sense, they will not waste too many resources on this by-election. They cannot get anything out of it – but there will be lots of other places coming up for election soon where they can.

    I do expect at least one independent to stand, though – probably more than one – and probably the BNP. The latter won’t get more than about 3% but where they take them from could have a bearing.

  13. So let me get this straight David – you think that labour would do well to target ex Labour supporters?

    Can I suggest that maybe we are not talking the same left and right. People know that current political parties don’t work – Even DC is changing the Tory party as he knows that old conservatism is not on the agenda. Might I propose that the Greens are part of this new dimension and that the old left right veiw is stale.

    I had hoped that this GE would have seen the conversation be between Cons and Libs, but I’d be more than happy to see us have a conversation between a new look conservative Government and the Green Party.

    PS I am not suggesting that left right theory has gone, just that people are looking for a new way.

  14. I’m not sure it is a swing to right. The share of the votr going to left leaning parties at the GE was about 66% (based on the notional results which take into account boundary changes) This time it’s down to 59%. surely this is a swing to the right.

  15. @ David in France – “Repeated across the country at a GE and these voters (splitting the left vote) will ensure a comfortable Tory majority.”

    But it won’t be repeated across the country and I’m not sure why you think there’s majority left-leaning vote in the UK as a whole. If we take, say, the EU results – the Tories, UKIP and the BNP between them got 50.4% of the vote and that’s without adding in the tiddler parties of the strange right getting .5 or 1% or whatever. Admittedly those results won’t be replicated in a general election for various reasons but we’re probably still looking at a little over 50% of the vote going somewhere on the spectrum of centre right to extreme right.

  16. Thanks for the clarification, Graham & Paul.

    LukW, I’m in Glasgow and can’t see Labour losing Glasgow NE. The SNP got a perfect storm of conditions – Labour in crisis, SNP Holyrood government in its honeymoon period, and a poor Labour candidate coming out of a bungled selection process. Can’t see Labour making that many mistakes again at the same time as they did back then.

  17. Conservatives will be disappointed with only 34%. They need to get moving in the constituency if this poll is correct.

  18. With all the caveats for the small sample size ,this is a poor poll for the Conservatives . To be only 1% above the figure they polled in 2005 is rather unpromising especia;;y as if the figures are to be believed their support is highest amongst the 18-24 age group who do not turn out to vote to the same extent as older age groups .

  19. Stuart, Further to my earlier post , there is a BBC report from Michael Crick that Ian Gibson might stand after all , depending on who Labour selects as its candidate. Perhaps we need to hold our horses for a few more days!
    If Gibson were to stand, I expect him to win.

  20. There is a majority anti-Labour vote out there and a majority anti-conservative vote.
    As discussed on other threads in a GE the prospect of a con victory will coalesce voters if there is sufficient prospect of that process denying them an outright victory.
    Labour voters will not turn out in Norwich North so Con gain inevtable, the size of the con share iand vote will be the significant indicator of relative party strenght.
    Agree if Gibson does stand any attempt to analyse the result will be meaningless except a strong performance from him would suggest voters are forgiving even if you use your ACA to house your daughter through college etc, if you are considered a good local MP.

  21. When analysing this poll, should we not be comparing it with Crewe & Nantwich? The Tory vote was considerably underestimated in what was traditionally a Labour seat. The expenses scandal wasn’t around and at that point there was a nearly direct transfer of votes. Yes, any party would want to be polling higher, but I cannot see anything but the anti Labour vote being a stronger than anti Conservative vote here. It will be interesting where the anti Labour vote goes though? How much anti mainstream is still in the system? If there is an early election then I suspect there will be, by October that could change.

  22. This poll (with all the caveats for its small size) actually begins to hint at what I think is going on nationally constituency by constitiuency. Almost all the Conservative advance since 2005 is actually from ex-LD voters. Thus in seats where the 2005 LD vote was well below average there is vitually no gain in the Tory support level. Where the LD vote was high, a marked shift is happening to the Tories (as in locals in West Country). Labour has been disintegrating, partially to LDs, and thus hiding the switch of ex-LD voters to Cons. Also, Labour vote crumbling to Greens and to a lesser extent to the BNP. Some will return by the GE. This would indictate that Conservatives may do very well against sitting LDs, but find it harder going in the main battle Con/Lab marginals (those after the first “easy 50” gains) where there was a low LD vote. However, this poll is a first “teaser” about what I expect to be a bigger differential behaviour pattern than previous GEs. How useful this renders national opinion polls is an interesting question?

  23. Norwich North is the Cons 163 target seat. If they take this seat comfortably it will prove to Labour MPs that at least 150 of them are almost certainly going to lose their job next year.

    The temptation to risk a leadership challenge would be great. But a risk it would be. It could easily make things worse.

    If the Cons win this seat after the conference season it will undue any small momentum that Labour might have achieved.

    This is why I said this by-election might prove to be critical.

  24. sorry, undo not undue.

  25. Tony,

    I think that was a very insightful post. Thank you.

  26. Tony –

    That’s quite easily checkable by looking at polls like Populus, MORI or ICM where cross breaks by 2005 recalled vote are given.

    In most cases the Conservatives have gained more support from people who voted Labour in 2005 than people who voted Lib Dem 2005.

  27. Yony , as Anthony points out your hypothesis is not born out by the detailed data from the 4 pollsters who publish the data comparing how people voted in 2005 with current voting intention .
    Indeed recent polls have shown very little movement from LibDem to Con
    Mori had 7 people moving from LibDem to Con but 5 moving from Con to LibDem . Populus figures were 5 and 2 , .ICM 15 and 9 .
    There was also no shift of support from LibDem to Conservative in the CC elections in the West Country . There was a movement from LibDem to the minor parties and Independents with a resultant swing to the Conservatives . The 2 areas which did show some movement from LibDem to Con were North Yorkshire and Oxfordshire .

  28. In fact the data tables for this ICM/Norwich N poll are on the ICM website . The Conservatives gain 20 voters from Labour and just 3 from LibDem . The LibDems have a net gain of 9 voters from Labour . All 3 parties lose some support to Greens and other minor parties .

  29. The poll neglects to include one already declared candidate, independent Craig Murray.

  30. tony Dean – others have said it but I’ll say it as well – your comment “This poll (with all the caveats for its small size) actually begins to hint at what I think is going on nationally constituency by constitiuency. Almost all the Conservative advance since 2005 is actually from ex-LD voters” There’s a technical term to describe this – “bollocks”.

    The big switch to the Tories has been from former Labour voters.

  31. John – nope, ICM did seperate out people who said they would vote for an Independent candidate such as Craig Murray. He (or they, considering Bill Holden is also standing as an Independent) is at 1%.

  32. I can not see any logic for LD voters to immediately go conservative; LD are (to some extent) left wing; as such there first shifts logically are to Greens / Labour. To go Conservative is a huge mindset jump.

  33. @ Jim Jam – “There is a majority anti-Labour vote out there and a majority anti-conservative vote.”

    Eh?

  34. Those of you criticising Tony’s analysis should remember this: people’s memories of who they voted in 2005 are notoriously poor, therefore that data is not wholly reliable. Tony offered a very decent explanation for his hypothesis in my view –

    “Thus in seats where the 2005 LD vote was well below average there is vitually no gain in the Tory support level. Where the LD vote was high, a marked shift is happening to the Tories (as in locals in West Country). ”

    Mark Senior says there was no shift from Libdem to Tory in the West Country. If I may quote Mike Smithson, there’s a technical term to describe this – “bollocks”. Perhaps the most notable results in the country at the CCs were in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall – guess what happened there. To say that almost all the Tory gains from Libdem have been filtered through minor parties is absolutely fatuous, and completely lacking in evidence.

  35. Yes James, neither have been supported by 50% since the mid 50s (Supermac I think.)
    Anti-Labour feeling is of course stronger at the moment but there a large number of middle aged people whio will ‘never forgive the Tories’ despite Cammos partially successful detoxification.
    Bit of news Alan Milburn to stand down at the next GE.

  36. Jim Jam,
    No party has won 50% of the vote at a General Election since 1935!.The Tories came close in 1955 under Anthony Eden , and again in 1959 under Harold Macmillan.In both the latter cases, however,the Liberals contested well under half the constituencies – in 1955 a mere 110 – and as a result most contests were straight fights between Tories and Labour..It goes without saying that in a 2 party system achieving 50% of the vote – or getting close to it – was a much more realistic possibility!

  37. @ Jim Jam – voting for Party A doesn’t necessarily mean that you are “anti-” Party B (or C or D). An expression of preference doesn’t mean that you are hostile to all the alternatives. I intend voting Conservative at the GE and I’m certainly “anti-” the current government but I wouldn’t describe myself as “anti-LibDem” or “anti-UKIP” or whatever. I prefer the Tories at present but that doesn’t mean I’m “anti-” everyone else any more than preferring vintage cheddar means I’m anti-Brie.

  38. @David in France – “And yet it will the Conservatives who gain the seat.”

    Lets all hold on here for a moment. They probably will, but no one should take the British electorate (even in Norwich) for granted. I don’t think the expenses debacle has fully run it’s course, and there could yet be some squirming on the Tory front bench shortly when the scale of outside earnings is published. It may not affect voters, but these are critical times and Tory support has fallen in recent weeks already.
    Secondly, Cameron has made what I think is a serious and significant strategic mistake in not sacking a single front bencher for some pretty blatent expenses abuses. This wouldn’t matter so much if he hadn’t taken tough action against unknown backbenchers who don’t matter to him. I doubt this will amount to much at present, but believe me, the moment the wind turns against the Tories he will face some tough questions about why he forced out a nonentity over a duck house claim that was never paid, while allowing a justice spokewomen to stay despite a £25K capital gains error. It smells, and shows Cameron at his worst – straightforward media manipulation and total lack of principle. It may yet hit in time for Norwich, but this is what we’re in for for the next five years – welcome back Mr Blair.

  39. Neil – thank you for your support. But thank you too to Anthony for the information on cross-checking. As I am new to all this (Neil you may indeed be correct but to call somebody elses hunch “bollocks” is a little unkind – if accurate!) how do I access the cross-checking data. I currently only see what you post on this site Anthony.
    Those who regard LD voters as “left-wing” misunderstand that many LD voters (admittedly almost none of the activists) drifted away from the Conservatives in the Thatcher years. I believe some are drifting back as Cameron has deliberately targetted what historically was the classic middle-class “National Liberal” group of voters with his rebranding of Conservatism’s appeal. However, Anthony, if I am not mistaken, does the data show this has not been successful? My instinct tells me otherwise, but I am open to being proved wrong! (but politely please folks!)

  40. Sorry Neil, I meant Mike in the second section of my comment about the “bollocks” comment!

  41. there are three ways this by-election could go

    1. the tories win but with a small majority and a high green vote

    2. ian gibson stands and takes votes off of both parties and splits the vote in a way that lets labour hold the seat giving them a boost

    3. the lib dems pick up votes along with the greens and ian gibson should he stand, this makes life ard for the tories and opens the door to others to take the seats

    just while im taking about campaines dose anyoneknow how to beat a social and/or class based campaine at local elections i may face one in 2011

  42. No , Stuart! If Ian Gibson stands, the Labour vote far from being split is much more likely to swing behind him en masse leaving the official Labour candidate with a fairly derisory vote! I would also cofidently expect that as an Independent Gibson would effectively mop up the Green vote ,and obtain a strong personal vote from many LibDem and Tory voters.
    Dick Taverne’s By election victory at Lincoln in March 1973 is the best example that comes to mind of something at all similar – though the circumstances there were quite different.

  43. ‘Those who regard LD voters as “left-wing” misunderstand that many LD voters (admittedly almost none of the activists) drifted away from the Conservatives in the Thatcher years’

    So, left wing compared with the Tories and the right wing Labour party. It’s not6 about historic use of these terms, it’s about current party position.

    Of the 3 main parties LDs are left of the others (but don’t get me wrong old fashioned labour etc are traditional use of the term left). Greens are more Left. The current LD party is more left than the others, but it doesn’t make them capital L Left.

  44. Jack I agree about the “official” LD being left-wing, but we MUST distinguish between the MPs, activists and members compared with many of those who have voted Lib/Alliance/LD since 1979. Historically a large chunk of LD support comes from families who naturally would have voted for MacMillan’s Conservatives to a man – never Labour! It is these people who are not left-wing, but the very voters Cameron has been appealing to – although by what Anthony reports from cross-voting in polls Cameron has not won over this electoral group, but I think despite what the raw data shows this is actually going on. Perhaps natural TRG/NatLib type voters cannot remember voting Lib on occasion, unless prompted, – perhaps they report previously being Con voters – but erroneously thus throwing the cross-voting check as Neil suggests?!

  45. any polls due out tonight for the sunday papers?

  46. Tony, the point I make is that LD is only left wing by comparison; new Labour and Tories fought for the rightwing centre right ground. What they would have voted for in the old days is not relevant. Macmillan’s conservatives are totally irrelevant to today.

    Yoyuneed to understand the difference between ‘old fixed’ terms of Left wing and the comparative use I have made, that LD is left of the other two main parties.

    The point is that the LD will pick up votes from the whole plethora of people to the comparative left of new Labour (bar dyed in the wool old Labour left) unless they lose votes to the Greens etc.

  47. Tony, the point I make is that LD is only left wing by comparison; new Labour and Tories fought for the rightwing centre right ground. What they would have voted for in the old days is not relevant. Macmillan’s conservatives are totally irrelevant to today.

    You need to understand the difference between ‘old fixed’ terms of Left wing and the comparative use I have made, that LD is left of the other two main parties.

    The point is that the LD will pick up votes from the whole plethora of people to the comparative left of new Labour (bar dyed in the wool old Labour left) unless they lose votes to the Greens etc.

  48. Phillip, about the 163rd target seat thing:

    My instinct is that given this is a by-election, swings against the ruling party are often unusually large, so a Tory victory surely wouldn’t set such a powerful precedent as you suggest?

  49. Quincel,

    It depends on how near the by-election is to the GE and how big the swing is to the opposing party.

    In terms of proximity of time it will be just before or after Labour’s last party conference, and about 9 months before the GE.

    Also a 8% swing is pretty huge. It could be that the swing will be as high as 10%. And if this proves to be the case surely this would be a crippling blow to an already fragile morale at a critical time.

  50. Quincel,

    The really disconcerting thing for Labour is that this poll is further evidence that they are on track to get a third less votes at this GE. If this is confirmed by the by-election then Labour are vunerable to lose out not just to the Cons but all the other parties.

    According to my calculation about half or more Labour MPs are likely to lose their jobs as a result.

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