New ICM/Guardian poll

I was hoping for a new Populus poll today, but instead we have the monthly ICM/Guardian poll. The topline figures with changes from their last poll a month ago are CON 41%(+2), LAB 27%(nc), LDEM 20%(+2). The poll was conducted on the 10th and 11th of July.

Both the Conservatives and Lib Dems are up slightly at the expense of “others”, who are down on 12%. This is the lowest they’ve been since the Telegraph began printing details of MPs expenses, though it’s worth noting that ICM never recorded the very high levels of other support that some other pollsters did in the first place – they peaked at 15% in ICM, compared to 23% with YouGov and 30% (!) with ComRes. We should wait to see some declines elsewhere before concluding that the tide has turning.

The other questions in the poll looked at spending and the renewal of Trident. The Guardian’s report says that more than two-thirds of respondents wanted to see the government cut spending, and only 42% of people wanted to see Trident renewed.

106 Responses to “New ICM/Guardian poll”

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  1. Graham,

    Did I suggest Plaid or SNP would openly support Cameron ?

    The point is that if Lab + LD is below 325, then Brown would not only have to broaden his coalition, he would be doing so from a position where he was not leader of the largest party in Parliament.

    Also, I think you misunderstand how a minority administration – as opposed to a coalition formed to create a majority – actually works. The SNP have experience of this in Scotland, and I doubt Salmond would have any problems with SNP MPs abstaining, or voting against a Lab-LD coalition, in order to allow Cameron to form a government.

    Finally, I can’t see why a Con government in London (with or without SNP suppport) would help Lab in Scotland. The SNP would probably point to the fact that Scotland did not vote for a Tory government and that adds to their argument for independance. In that context, the SNP would prefer to have Cameron rather than Brown as PM. Only a Lab government in London would allow Lab to win back the initiative in Scotland.

    Apart from which, I believe the debate is purely academic as there is most likely to be a Con majority.

  2. @Paul H-J
    “Even if the figures are C 290, Lab 280, LD 50, others 30, it would be reckless for Clegg to keep Brown in No 10. In that case Clegg will be setting LD MPs up for slaughter since a further election is likely within a year, and the public will not forgive LDs for inflicting more uncertainty on the country.”

    I’m not sure about this. if Labour could count on 330 votes I think that they could stay in power for 5 years as a minority government. There would be little incentive for the LDs to vote against Labour and defeat the coalition for at least 2, probably 3 years, in their own self-interest.

    I can certainly see a situation where the LDs would support a minority Labour government. Philosophically, the LDs are closer to Labour than to the Tories. Only the current administration’s obsession with centralisation and erosion of civil liberties has masked that. If Nick Clegg was offered the Home Office and Vince cable was offered the Chancellorship it would be very tempting for them.

  3. I nice balanced non-opionated post from NBEALE.
    Not the place to say what you think of GBs management skills.
    Do we want to discuss Camerons management style on this thread as well?

  4. @ JIM JAM

    Perhaps you missed the recent remarks made by the GOAT Lord Malloch-Brown who has just resigned?

    He said that Gordon Brown’s government is more “chaotic” than many administrations in the developing world,.

    Lord Malloch-Brown, who quits his ministerial post this month, told colleagues he had seen better “strategic thinking” in Latin America and southeast Asia than at No 10.

  5. Jim Jam,

    While NBeale may appear partisan in his comment, it is pertinent to the question of whether Brown could in fact secure a coalition.

    He appears to have enough difficulty keeping Labour members in his government. That does not bode well for trying to hold together a coalition with cabinet members who are not beholden to him for their seats in Parliament, and may have more to gain by precipitating a further election.

    In reality, in a hung parliament, Clegg could play his hand to force a change of leader on the Labour party as the price of his support. What choice would they have ? To not do so would be to waste a major opportunity, which is why Clegg would be foolhardy to prop up a Brown (as opposed to Labour) government.

    That is why I am confident that the only scenario in which Brown will still be PM after the election is if Labour somehow retain enough seats to have a majority, or as good as.

    322 seats would probably suffice since SF rule themselves out and Brown could rely on one or more minor Party / ind. MPs to abstain. But then, same holds true for Conservatives.

    It is only when one or other party is in the 290-320 range that it gets tricky – do they don’t they embrace Clegg ? It is unlikely that a formal coalition with a patchwork of NI / Nationalist parties would work, though if SNP make it to double figures that could give them extra leverage. But if both Con and Lab are between 275-300 then the fun really starts.

  6. Leslie: “I can certainly see a situation where the LDs would support a minority Labour government. Philosophically, the LDs are closer to Labour than to the Tories”

    I strongly disagree leslie- have you read the Orange Book? The current Liberal leadershp (Clegg, Hune, Cable…etc) all contributed to the Orange Book, which amongst other policies, sought to defend and win back to liberalism the idea of ‘economic liberalism’ – something which is very Thatcherite.

    Ideologically the current leadership of the Orange Book is hardly closer to Labour than the Conservatives, especially in economic priorities.

    Take a look at Cleggs major policies before the recession ruined everything, he was advocating major tax cuts for families and businesses! Hardly a Labourite notion at all!

    Clegg ideologically could be very comfortable with a Conservative – Liberal coalition (where it not for their federalist and PR demands).

  7. Dean-it’s all a matter of degree. Get real. And LD who suggested supporting Tories would be a national laughing stock.

    LDs would support Labour as Labour is less rightwing than the Tories. Forget Thatcher, we are not talking about labels then. It’s about now. And the parties are like this–Tories (very right wing), New Labour (right wing-they got into power by driving the Tories away from the Centre voters). LD (centre, but they don’t know it).

    So LDs would more happily support Labour as they are less rightwing that the Conservatives.

  8. Sorry Jack but you clearly havent read the Orange Book (which is the faction within the LibDems that Clegg, Hune, Cable all come from), there aint no way those three particular men (Hune, possibly less on the right than the others within the grouping) would support a Labour government over a centre-right Conservative party (and your talking jibberish if you think that the current tory party is “very right wing”, I think its you that needs to get real).

    Besides, it would be political suicide for the Liberals to support a Labour government given its unpopularity- even if it managed to survive as the largest party in a hung parliament thatd probably more to do with the poor 2005 starting point in most constits for the tories than any real endorsement for labour).

    Your on cloud nine if you honestly believe any liberal leader would opt to keep this shower in rather than support a centre-right Cameron gov.

  9. Except (by extrapolation) the Other vote, the changes in party support reported in this poll are within sampling error. And we expected a falling away in Other support now that they are no longer getting the publicity of elections. One question – there is no adequte precedent – is whether the Greens and UKIP willl benefit from publicity during the general Election campagin, as the LibDems tend to do, or whether they will suffer becuase the General Election is seen as too important for what many electors will see as a protest vote.

    We really do need breakdowns of the Other percentages into Plaid/SNP, Green and UKIP. Not least we want to know WHICH Other parties are sliiping since June – not least in connection with the Norwich by-election.

    The Times had an article this week about how the Tories are talking to the Civil Servants. One wonders what good this will do given Colin’s report that Lord Maddox-Brown says that strategic thinking in the UK is worse than in many Latin American and South East asian countries – a view which I am pretty sure will be right given the ludicrous acceptance of gospel in this country of the demonstrably failed economic philosophy of laiisez faire (but I am not, contrary to a recent suggestion on this site, a Marxist or anything like it – mechanistic all-pervasive control systems have equally been seen as appalling failures). If the Conservatives “go native” with the Westminster mandarains, how will they do any better? And isn’t this what voters are seeing when they flock to minor parties?

    Many of the Other votes in the elections last month came from Labour, who should be disappointed that they are not getting them back.

  10. PAUL HJ,
    I was not referring to any open declaration of support by Plaid or the SNP for a Cameron Govt , but I was addressing the possibility of the SNP in particular being inclined to facilitate such an administration by abstention on key votes.
    It is my firm belief that many SNP voters – particularly those with a former Labour background – would expect their party to do everything possible to deny office to a Tory Govt. Were it to fail to do this, I feel the SNP would suffer significant adverse electoral consequences – many former disillusioned Labour voters would return to their former home and see the SNP as ‘Tartan Tories’..I will be surprised if the electoral debacle suffered in 1979 – when the party joined forces with the Tories to topple the Callaghan Govt – has been forgotten.

  11. There are major obstacles to the LDs propping up either party. I see them as a very Big Tent party and being a LibDem means very different things in different parts of the country. Propping up Labour would hurt them severely in the West Country and SE England. Propping up the Tories would hurt them in the urban conurbations, and in Scotland.

    The problem the LDs have is that although they can never admit it, there only conceivable route to power is in coalition. So I am sure they’ve given it a hell of a lot of thought, but they are damn well not going to talk about in public until after the election. Whichever way they went, I would see them losing big slabs of their support – it just depends whether the credibility that comes with office would reward them enough to suffer that fracture.

  12. The split of vote to achive Paul H-J’s Con 290, Lab 280, LD 50 scenario would be 39:33:20 – An average Tory lead of 6 points and a Labour recovery of 6-8 points.

    What are the views of the likelihood of that?

    Personally I think that would represent the very best Labour could hope for.

    Incidentally why is it allowed for Labour to have almost as many seats as the Tories with 6 points less votes!?

  13. Andrew – I think a 6pt Tory lead would deliver a small majority for the cons, UNS is useful but misleading.

  14. Andrew –

    I was always under the assumption that the Conservatives needed a 9 point lead to gain a majority.

    The face that both parties would gain a similar number of seats with such figures is down to a number of factors. There is a disparity in seat sizes which, at the moment, benefits Labour (I think this is being sorted out to a degree in the 2010 boundary changes).

    Furthermore, voters in Cons seats are more likely to vote which increases their vote and turnout while still just returning the one seat.

    Indeed, it is possible for Labour to gain a majority even if the Tories have a lead over them.

  15. Jim Jam

    I have ran 39:33:20 (6 point tory lead) through the predictor here and it gives a Hung Parliament – Tories 39 seats short and 33 seats short based on the same assumptions at Electoral Calculus’s website.

    Not sure if they could generate a majority on a 6 point lead (would welcome any views) whereas Labour on the same results (but reversed) would be in with a majority of 98 seats!!!

  16. ‘NEIL A
    There are major obstacles to the LDs propping up either party. I see them as a very Big Tent party and being a LibDem means very different things in different parts of the country. ‘

    Yep–it’s the I’ll vote for LD as it is the best chance to stop Con/Lab in my area. This again is the issue; some vote for LD because of policies but many vote for them out of antipathy to the most likely winner in a seat. It’s a natural extension of FPTP system (let’s have the Australian voting system!).

  17. Graham,

    I had forgotten the Scottish Labour ability to bear grudges !

    Gosh if people still think the SNP betrayed Scotland by bringing the 1979 election forward by five months, when will they ever get over the fact that Maggie is no longer PM and the current mess is down to more than a decade of a Scottish Labour Chancellor ?

    Salmond’s SNP administration in Holyrood would have collapsed long ago without tacit, and at times overt, support from Goldie. I thought most Scots understood that.

    Salmond may be a ruthless operator, but he will see no disadvantage to his party from returning the favour at Westminster if need be. What is far less likely is that he would provide even tacit support to enable Brown to form a minority government.

  18. Andrew / Danboy,

    I would agree with JimJam that if on the day Cons have a 6 pt lead over Lab, they are likely to scrape home with a smallish majority.

    That will be because to get bak to low/mid 30s, Labour will have enthused their support in their “heartlands” to come out and vote, pushing up its majorities in places like Sheffield and Newcastle, but without winning any new seats. Meanwhile, Lab will have lost a swathe of southern English seats, some by close margins.

    The supposed “bias” in the system has far more to do with differential turnout than it does with demographic changes. Yes, there is a general population drift from urban seats (Lab) to suburban seats (Con) which needs correcting every decade or so, but I believe the rate of such change is nowhere near as pronounced these days as it was in the 40 years after the war.

  19. Andrew,
    I am one of the minority non-(blatant) Tories on this site so it gives me no pleasure to give the view that the Cons will perform well ahead of UNS.
    The ‘chance to kick the Government out’ message will resonate more in marginals and Tory resources (more than anyone else of course) will be targeted.
    Whether 6pts would be quite enough, maybe not but I would place a large bet on the Elec Calc 33 short being at least 20 out.
    Having said that 33 for Labour would appear unlikey even if sub 40 for the Tories is a strong possibility as they appear to enjoy little positive support amongst swing voters.

  20. Here’s an interesting one. 1979’s results of Con 43.9, Lab 36.9, LD 13.8 gave a 43 seat majority. If those shares were allocated today it would lead to a Hung Parliament with Con short of a majority by 7 seats.

    1983 would give a Con Majority of 68 today (vs 144)

    1987 would give a Con Majority of 20 today (vs 102)

    1992 would give a hung parliament with Con short of 10 (vs 21 seat majority)

    It seems today’s system is badly skewed against the Conservatives?

  21. Andrew,

    Or one could equally argue that the boundaries in the 80s were badly skewed to Cons.

    Certainly that was the view Labour Central Office took under John Smith when they organised their Agents around the country to challenge the Commissioners proposals and put forward their own suggestions to achieve the 1997 boundaries which have proved so favourable to Lab since.

    Perhaps CCO had grown complacent since each review after the war improved the Con position.

    As to the boundaries for the next election, please remember that, despite the detailed research undertaken by Rallings & Thrasher [whose figures are deemed “official”]; Anthony on this site, and others, these figures are only “notional”. It may well be that some of the new seats (or those which have major revisions) act in quite different ways than the notional figures suggest.

  22. Andrew the system is not biased against the tories. It is the reverse. What you have to remember is that there are to two left wing parties.
    The left wing vote is split. So it is not enough just to say the tories are the largest party, so should have a majority, what if they are the largest party but have 35% of the vote, while the two left wing parties have a combined total of well over 50%.
    For instance in 1979 the labour + liberal voted added up to to just over 50%. Yet the one right wing party got just 43 % of the vote yet as it was the largest party it was given a stinking majority for the right.
    The system is actually biased in favour of the right, as the splitting of the left wing votes mean the right can win elections when the people want a left wing government. As has happened many, many times. The left has gotten well over 50% of the vote in many elections and still lost due to a split vote, and then the tories complain they have still not got enough seats.
    Is it really fair to have a tory government with a majority of 150, when over 50% of the public vote for left wing parties.
    Tactical voting, and targeting of seats, over the years has dampened down the affect of the split left wing vote.

  23. Paul H-J. What happened in the 1997 review (and previous ones) wasn’t so much that the Conservatives were complacent, but that they left it up to local Conservative associations to respond to boundary reviews.

    In practice this meant you could have two Conservative associations arguing with each other, and rather than trying to build the best possible seats – you got Tory associations in safe seats trying to argue for boundaries that would make them even safer.

    In contrast, for that boundary review Labour organised a proper co-ordinated response to boundary proposals, so ended up with better boundaries (that said, yo u shouldn’t emphasise it *that* much, at the end of the day, there is only so much the parties can do to influence the decisions).

    On notional figures, all the various versions are notional, including Rallings and Thrasher. It’s just what the result would notionally have been were votes counted on those bounaries. None are really “official” – the electoral commission or government don’t appoint anyone to do them – Rallings and Thrasher’s figures are, however, used by the broadcasters and are most widely recognised, so they will be the ones regarded as the figures of record as it were.

    As it happens, the methods R&T used and the methods I used were almost identical (the main differences are, if I recall correctly, that in multi-member council wards I took the top vote for each party, while Rallings and Thrasher took the average vote, and I used London Assembly constituency figures for London, while R&T used Borough elections), so the figures will normally be pretty close. Electoral Calculus used a different method, so you’ll find some sharper differences there.

  24. Dirty Euro,

    You may well be right that both Labour and Liberals are “left wing” parties, but the truth is that the LDs pretend they are a centre party not a left wing party, and appeal to the voters on that basis. I think in general the average left-right split in the electorate is around 50/50 with a fair proportion of the right-leaning voters giving their vote to the Liberal Democrats. I can assure you that Torbay, Yeovil, SE Cornwall and many other rural LD seats do not have “Left wing” electorates.

    If Labour and the LDs were truly of a similar view they could merge and, according to you, dominate British politics for the next 1000 years. Of course that wouldn’t happen because half of the current LD seats would turn Tory because they wouldn’t ever vote for a party that was socialist in outlook.

    What you are really arguing for, it seems to me, is proportional representation. That’s fine, but you need to present your argument that way, rather than in terms of “bias” in favour of the Tories. In straightforward terms, the system is without question “biased” against the Tories but the reasons for this are mostly structural and very hard to correct. It is interesting to note that, apart from possibly wanting to alter some boundaries, the Tories almost never complain about the bias and are the strongest supporters of the current system.

  25. Neil A – Hear ! Hear !


    Thanks for the clarification on notional methodology.

    On the 1997 review: – Yes, CCO left it to local associations to prepare submissions to the Boundary Commission – as they had traditionally done and in accordance with the autonomy accorded local associations. After all, many are fiercely independent (and selfish – hence the attempt by safe seats to make themseves even safer ). But they were complacent in not responding to the obvious co-ordination being put in by Labour and at least providing advice and guidance to associations on how to co-ordinate responses in a given area / region. Hence that review was the least favourable to Conservatives for decades. That does not seem to have been the case for the current review.

    Of course one by-product of new boundaries is that Constituency Associations need to be reformed in line with these, and this can lead to yet another set of tensions – over resources and personalities. This applies to all parties. Which may explain why the first campaign in some new seats does not go as the notional figures suggest.

    Personally, just a hunch, but I think we may hear a lot of grumbling after the next GE about how unfair the new boundaries are and how it took fewer Con votes to elect an MP than for Lab or LD. Of course it will have nothing to do with the boundaries and more to do with differential turnout. It is particulalrly true when an election is close since the there are far more votes garnered by the losing party in the marginals which did not produce an MP.

  26. I fail to see what the LD vote has to do with it. If the LD vote ceased to exist and the main vote went 45% Con, 45% Lab (and 10% others) this would still give a Labour majority and 344 vs 279 seats.

    To my mind an identical share of the vote should give an identical number of seats – who votes LD is irrelevant.

  27. Anyone who thinks that the LibDems are leftwing need to read up more on the current leadership. Pick up the Orange Book- in it Cable defends the need for free markets, economic liberal practise with some social liberal policies (outside of the economic aspects) to counterbalance any possible inequity.

    What on earth is left wing about that? Goodness, I as a Scottsh Con find it quite attractive.

  28. Paul HJ –

    This time round the Conservatives did have a properly co-ordinated response, organised by Roger Pratt at CCHQ, who by all accounts seems to have done a good at it.

  29. Just a thought but doesn’t FPTP hugely favour parties that are regionally based against those that are national? To take an extreme example, if there were only two parties, and every constituency had the same proportion supporting each party, then a 50.1%:49.9% vote split would mean that every single MP would be from the first party.

    The current voting system positively encourages tribal voting, seat targetting and policies that are determined more by geography than by equality.

  30. That’s true but it shouldn’t influence the number of seats given a set vote split depending on the lead party.

    In other words 40%:30% Labour/Conservative should give Labour the same number of seats (give or take) as 40%/30% Conservative/Labour would to the Conservatives.

  31. Leslie,

    That is precisely why SNP, and to a lesser extent Plaid, have been more successful than LDs in transforming votes into MPs. And also why Greens, UKIP and BNP will always struggle to get anyone elected to Westminster, however well they do in Euro elections or local councils.

    It is also the reason for the supposed bias against Conservatives in the current boundaries.

    Basically, regional variations in support mean that Labour no longer “wastes” votes in the English shire counties, where LDs are main challenge to Con, while Cons still have a lot of “wasted” votes in semi-urban marginals.

    Both parties also “waste” surplus votes in their “heartlands”. Having 85% of the vote in a seat is no better than 50.1% in terms of number of seats won.

    Put another way, Labour could add 1m votes – 10,000 in each of 100 seats – in the shire counties and not pick up a single extra MP in return. But the same is true of Conservatives in those self-same seats !

    Vice-versa in various metropolitan / mining areas.

    As to your last point – the purpose of an MP is to represent the locality which elected him. It is thus logical that candidates will tailor their message to the region in which they stand. The more homogenous the area, the more “tribal” the voting pattern.

    What has “equality” got to do with it ?

    Andrew –

    That would only be true if both parties had their support spread evenly (but not uniformly) across the country. That is evidently not the case as any political map of the UK will quickly demonstrate. It matters not if the base unit for the map is by:

    Polling District
    District Council
    Parliamentary Constituency
    County Council
    Euro- Region (*)

    There will be separate bands / patches of red in;
    – central Scotland,
    – the North East,
    – across the Pennines
    – West Midlands
    – S Wales
    – London

    Outside these bands you will find only isolated pockets of red representing urban areas.

    The rest of the England is basically blue with a large splash of gold in the SW and the odd blob here and there. [Though there is more gold, with a hint of red, interspersed with the blue at Ward / Council level.]

    In Scotland, the bits one would expect to be blue are either yellow (SNP) or gold (LD). In Wales, there is more of a patchwork with the rural parts held by Plaid, LD and Con.

    Individual seat boundaries make only a minor difference. The system we have is far preferable to any list based PR system which puts power to select who sits in Parliament in the hands of party machines and not the electors. If in doubt, just look at the Euro results.

    (*) For Euro regions use colour of party which came first – but use 1999 or 2004 results since 2009 results are somewhat lopsided. If you go back to 1979-1994 Euro constituencies you will of course see the same pattern.

  32. @ Paul H-J

    You seem adament that the LDs will ovetake Labour, and whislt the gap may becopme closes, I personally think this will be becuase of Labour loses rather than LD gains and the LDs will see their votes drop from the Last election as their performance was bloated by anger over the Iraq War and students determined to oppose Tuition fees.

  33. Ashley I’m nt so sure the Liberal overall vote share will drop greatly from 2005 for the following reasons:

    * the local election results indicate only a net 1 councellor was lost for the Liberal Democrats; therefore any votes lost in; say; Devon was compensated for elswhere- while still making signifcant breakthroughs in Bristol.
    *the euros show the liberals holding onto their MEP from Scotland with only a minor drop in their vote share (dropped by only 1.60%)

    However they do have problems, particularly in compensating elsewhere in the UK for potential losses in Scotland, but again the most recent poll on Electoral Calculus database shows they can hold onto 11 MPs from Scotland with just 16% share of the vote.

  34. @ JIM Jam,
    I tend to think that a 6% lead would not be enough to produce a Tory overall majority. It is worth recalling that in 1992 a lead of 7.6% gave Major a majority of just 21. Had the lead been 6% the Tories would have been in a minority of 10 or 12! I am sure Kinnock’s performance at the Sheffield rally was crucial there.
    @ PAUL H J
    I do not doubt that Salmond might be inclined to return the favour to the Tories in the event of a Hung Parliament. My point is that many SNP supporters in the wider electorate would be repelled by it – and switch back to Labour as a direct consequence, and cost the SNP seats.. Lest you think otherwise, I am not a Scot – I live in East Anglia – and have no links of any kind with the Scottish Labour Party. I do, however, have a good memory!

  35. Ashley,

    Not sure how you deduce I am adamant that LDs will overtake Lab. I presume you are referring to my post on 14th July. If so, may I refer you to this quote therein:

    “Those are the mechanics. Do I think it will happen ? No. “

  36. I have refrained ( no please do not all cheer!!) from comment on this poll until Populus produced their monthly poll but where on earth is it?
    Have they ever been this late before?

  37. Anthony,

    Good morning, have you had any information about any polls coming our way this weekend ? There does seem to be a real shortgage at the moment. We are halfway through the month and have only seen ICM to date. Do you think we see a big splurge of them next week around the time of the Norwich By Election ?

  38. @ Paul H-J – thanks for explaining it, but I still can’t get my head around why an equal share of the votes favours Labour so much unles the boundary commission has given them an advantage because of the LD vote

    @ Wayne – I was wondering the same thing. We have only seem one poll in over 3 weeks.

  39. Andrew,

    This may help.

    Let us say that there are 10 seats, and 30 votes in each seat.
    Each of 3 parties A, B & C has 100 votes distibuted across the 10 seats.

    Party A has 10 votes in each of the 10 seats.
    Party B has 20 votes in each of seats 1-3, 10 votes in seat 4, 5 votes in seats 5-10
    Party C has 0 votes in seats 1-3, 10 in seat 4, and 15 in each of seats 5-10.

    All three parties have 100 votes. Who wins the most seats ?

  40. Just to save anyone who is arithmetically challenged the trouble…

    C gets 6 seats
    B gets 3 seats.

    The remaining seat is decided by drawing lots / tossing coins between all three candidates.

    Good ilustration Paul!

  41. So if I understand correctly the Labour vote is more polarised than the Tories across the country?

  42. Indeed !

    The Boundary Commission has got nothing to do with it unless they deliberately produce a bunch of seats with 25 voters and others with 35 voters, or draw the borders in peculiar ways in order to favour one party or another.

    Incidentally, the term “gerrymander” derives from a US congressional district created by an offcial (called Gerald) in the shape of a salamander ( a long thin lizard with short legs and a long culing tail) so as to carve out a number of pockets of one political inclination when if the area had been cut into 3/4 neat chunks that party would not have won a single seat.

  43. So how long a summer holiday do polling companies take?

  44. @Paul H-J

    “The Boundary Commission has got nothing to do with it unless they deliberately produce a bunch of seats with 25 voters and others with 35 voters”

    In fact, because of the rules that they are given, they do do this.

    Scotland and Wales are automatically given a minimum number of seats, which currently means that their average seat size is smaller, and as these areas tended to vote Labour, this gives Labour proportionately more seats.

    Also, the boundary reviews are based on factual (but necessarily old) data, and this currently biases the MP numbers towards the inner cities, which are often-Labour supporting.

    The system is based on voters, not votes. There is a strong negative correlation between the numbers of Labour votes cast and the %age turnout in a seat, so Labour MPs tend to have fewer “votes” for them than a similarly safe Tory or LibDem MP.

  45. Jack & Wayne. ICM and YouGov’s polls normally continue as usual through the summer. Populus has in the past sometimes skipped their August poll – no idea what they are doing this year, whether they have skipped July too, or moved it later in the month. MORI I expect will do their normal monthly poll.

    Richard Manns – the minimum number of seats for Scotland and Wales doesn’t actually have any effect. In Scotland, it was abolished before the last election and Scotland given new constituencies based on the English quota.

    In Wales the statutory minimum number of seats is 35… but they have 40 seats anyway (and the quota at each review is based on the existing number of seats) so the minimum doesn’t come into play.

    Wales, Scotland, NI and England each have their own quota, so over time the electorates in each country will diverge if there are different rates of population growth.

  46. Th Lib dems are left wing they support nationalization the railways, removal of tuition fees, joining the euro.
    They have a few right wingers who want to steal the party from the left. The same as you get in the labour party.
    But their voters are left wing.
    In 2005 the lib dems were something like 80 % in favour of Blair over Howard. I cannot find the survey that showed this.
    But they are massive left infact they were more left wing than labour at last election. People are not stupid they knew the lib dems were left wing.

  47. I was wondering what the affect on the electoral tilt would be if – as has been suggested – the number of MPs were drastically reduced.

    The most recent boundary changes have been tinkering – 651 in 1992, 659 in 1997 & 2001, 646 in 2005 & 650 in 2010. These seem to have had little impact on the pro-Labour tilt of the system. But what would reducing the number of MPs to 600 or less do?

  48. @Anthony Wells

    I wasn’t aware that the there were more than the minimum of no. seats, but the average Welsh or Scottish constituency still has significantly fewer people than the UK average: Wales has 6.2% of MPs (40) but 4.9% (3/61) of the population, Scotland has 9.1% of MPs (59) but 8.3% (5.16/61) of the UK population.

    No doubt there are reasons why the Boundary Commissions have allocated more seats than population would suggest, but I was trying to illustrate that they are subject to rules that cause imbalances in the sizes of constituencies and Wales would still have more than 4.9% of MPs, even if Wales only had the minimum of 35.

  49. @ Dirty Euro

    ‘Th Lib dems are left wing they support nationalization the railways, removal of tuition fees, joining the euro.’

    They support temporary nationalisation of public services until the economic crisis is over, they do duspport the removal of tuition fews and only afew of them want to switch to the Euro. As a Lib Dem supporter i do think we should work more with the EU but i do not support converting to the EU, i find it odd quoteing Mrs Thatcher but here i go:

    ‘The pound sterling has served the country and indeed the world well’ (or somthing to that accord).

  50. The Lib Dems have as a party appeared more often than not to be on the left wing of British politics or posing as such but at a constituency level it is another matter. Their problem is that whilst the activists certainly are that way inclined -their supporters in the majority of the ex-Tory seats which they hold are decidedly not. They cannot break free of this impasse.
    Thus for my money they are not a true left wing party and you cannot simply lump their votes together with those of Labour and pontificate that lo and behold there is a left wing majority in the UK which can rule forever. I would love nothing better than to see the Lib Dems and Labour form one centre left party-one target is easier to hit than two- but I see no liklehood of that happening in the near future.
    Mind you I never thought Tiger Woods would miss the cut in the Open….

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