The tables for ICM’s poll in the Sunday Mirror are now up here, so we can have a proper look at those Mandelson figures that the Sunday Mirror got so excited over.

Firstly, the figures in the Sunday Mirror were repercentaged to exclude don’t knows. Explaining the rather high numbers when normally “who you you like to see as the next leader of the X party” normally gives a thumping victory for “Don’t know”.

Indeed, that was the case here – 55% of people said don’t know. If you include don’t knows in the percentages, the headline figures become David Miliband and Jack Straw on 12%, followed by Mandelson and Johnson on 7%. 4% would like to see Harriet Harman as the next Labour leader, 3% Ed Balls and 1% Jon Cruddas. Amongst Labour voters, the top four candidates are all very even – 13% for Miliband, 12% for Straw, Johnson and Mandelson.

There was also a question asking if people would be more or less likely to vote for Labour were it led by Peter Mandelson instead of Gordon Brown. Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of questions like this – people can use it to indicate support or opposition to a candidate or policy when there is no chance of them actually switching their vote, and you invariably get lots of people saying it would make them more likely to vote X who already vote X, and lots of people saying it would make them less likely to vote Y who wouldn’t vote Y anyway.

For the record though, 7% said they would be more likely to vote Labour with Mandelson in charge, but 20% said they would be less likely. 14% of current Labour voters said it would make them less likely to vote Labour, but 5% of current Conservatives and 8% of current Lib Dems said it would make them more likely.

50 Responses to “ICM on Peter Mandelson”

  1. If Labour’s poll ratings don’t improve, i can see Gordon Brown walking, and Jack Straw taking over.

  2. And don’t forget that Jack is the second most popular boy’s name in the UK.

  3. I’m sure there’s a good strawman joke in there somewhere. I don’t see any of those names appealing to me (not that my vote counts where I live anyway)…what labour needs if it wants a good leader candidate is a sudden switch of teams by chatshow charlie…or maybe hague. I can’t see a change of leader for labour doing them much good (much as the anything-but-brown jokes proliferate) unless it’s someone we don’t know about(which is risky), or one of those names that starts acting quite differently than their reputation now. Perhaps a toned down, thinner, english speaking version of Prescott would suit them….someone to make cameron look even more toffy than he is.

  4. If David Cameron wants an early Christmas present then the prospect of Peter Mandelson becoming Labour leader is surely it!
    The three figure landslide that the Tories will already achieve against Gordon Brown becomes a total wipe-out for Labour with Mandelson as leader.

  5. Were Labour to change leader – which they may need to do if they want to close the large gap in the polls – I can’t help thinking that the obvious change to make is to elect a woman as leader.

    But I’m not at all sure that that woman ought to be Harman.

    And I’m not at all sure that the career ‘men’ would be prepared to move over and allow it to happen.

  6. I don’t think a Mandleson led Labour would necessarily lead to a landslide defeat… though it would be a huge gamble, as he would probably gain support in marginal seats but alienate Labour’s heartlands – which would result in Labour either winning a lot more seats than expected or winning a lot less seats than expected.

  7. Diane Abbott said something interesting on the last this week on BBC before it ended unil Parliament resumes.

    Brown may walk as he has never had to fight for anything in his life before,he has been given everything from union jobs to a safe Labour seat to promotion through jobs for the boys & she it has to be said is one of his biggest supporters.

    The problem labour will have if the Labour Party ditch Brown ,they will be admiting they have made a two year mistake,to admit they put this man in office with a coronation & now they are admiting he is a failure & not up to the job will be surely suicidal for the Labour Party.

  8. Note the Sky news reports on Afghanistan (aren’t they YOUGOV polls?) where they present the key issue is people think the Govt should give more support to the military there , ignoring the other key finding namely the massive percentage which say out of Afghanistan now… Murdoch, don’t you love him…

    (Ans I’m old enough to remember Vietnam where the domino theory was the reason for being there; Brown’s restatement of it does not impress me at all. So if Afghanistan was the key to all the world’s terrorism wouldn’t other countries be there bar those browbeaten by Bush?)

  9. ‘RICH
    Diane Abbott said something interesting on the last this week on BBC before it ended unil Parliament resumes.
    Brown may walk’

    Much as I dislike Brown I think he will never walk, that would be going against his fundamental Christian / Scottish Presbyterian views. He may well drown, but he’d never walk…

  10. This isn’t meant to be a partisan comment as I could say equally unflattering things about people in other parties; but Mandelson always reminds me of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, whispering oily subtle seductive messages in a calm and reasonable tone. Evil oozes from his pores like sweat from a Turkish wrestler.
    If they are ever short of the next Bond villain, they need look no further.
    He’s so sinister it’s almost pantomime.
    I know that many people consider him the de facto leader of the Labour party already, but if he ever actually became the leader I would sink even deeper into the black depression invoked by the current and previous incumbents.

  11. No, I don’t think Brown will walk away either. He’s waited too long for the position of PM to become available and I doubt he will give it away. Probably the reason why he didn’t go for an early election in autumn 2007 when things looked rosy for him.

    Putting on my hat as an ex-labour voter and assuming (rather uncomfortably, I might add) that I still might support them, I’m rather glad that some of the names mentioned aren’t too popular.

  12. If Mandelson is the saviour of the Labour Party, then they’re beyond saving, frankly.

    Mandelson has a reputation as an effective minister, but the idea that he is slippery and dishonest has been absorbed into the public consciousness.

    Overall these figures look terrible for Labour. It will be interesting to see if the next similar poll shows any movement in response to the slew of bad publicity for the Tories.

  13. Pete B – I get the same feeling, although to me he’s Grima Wormtongue rather than the Satanic Serpent.

    David in France – Maybe ‘a woman’ is the best option for Labour, but if they don’t have one available (and to be honest, apart from Harwoman who is there?) they’ll probably just give Polly Toynbee a Peerage and try for a PM in the Lords.

  14. Mandelson isn’t the saviour of any organisation name not beginning ‘the dark brotherhood of’.

    That said, I think most of us would rather have him in the govt of any party pissing out.

  15. MisterDavid – yes Grima’s a very similar character. Same thing really.

    Wood – I love it! I really did Laugh Out Loud

  16. Just reading John Julius Norwich’s book on the Byzantine empire. Got to the bit where they are in a hideous mess and terminal decline which no-one seems able to reverse. It reminds of something…… can’t imagine what!

    Anyway, Mandelson for Labour leader…………………… I think it proves my theory that the cabinet sit down each week and try to come up with things which will reduce Labour’s vote to nil. I think there should be an investigation into whether ministers are placing bets on Labour anhilation at the next general election. I guess now that expenses have been tightened up it could be a way of boosting their pensions………

  17. Crushed by militant Islam?

  18. Anybody know why ICM have spelt it as “Mandelsohn” in their poll questions ?

    “Meddlesome” might be a better mis-spelling.

  19. That comparison to the Byzantine empire is uncannily accurate. Great book, too.

  20. @Keith

    Putting on my hat as an ex-labour voter and assuming (rather uncomfortably, I might add) that I still might support them, I’m rather glad that some of the names mentioned aren’t too popular.


    I know of a few ex-Labour voters who are considering voting Labour again – despite being heartily fed-up with them.

    Their reasoning is as follows; voting Labour will reduce the Tory majority. Hopefully achieve a hung parliament. And then, with conditional Lib-Dem support, a system of PR might be introduced…

    Labyrinthine? Perhaps.

    But a statistical possibility if Labour can reduce the Conservative lead to about, say, 7% at a GE.

  21. It’s so annoying to have ads like ‘amend the smoking ban’ on this site. Cant yougov have an ad free site?

    And I think those who want to allow people to have cancer are wrong. There is no such thing as ‘a’ cancer free smoke so it’s totally proper it’s banned. It’s quite correct the govt occasionally gets it right and helps its populace have a healthy lifestyle…

  22. Jack

    As a Scots smoker (I’ll need to be drug free for much longer to say ex-smoker), I find the situation in Scotland so much better than south of the border. Among smokers here. I detect little opposition to Scottish legislation about smoking – and only come across these ads on “UK” (ie English sites). Am I right in thinking that this “allow us to kill others” campaign is an English one?

  23. @ David in France

    Changing a voting system can surely never be done by a party about to lose power; it smacks of gerrymandering on a massive scale. Imagine the Tories proposing that seats be distributed by actual voting voters rather than poeple with the vote in 1997! There would have been justifiable rage.

    Suggestions to do it on the Guardian website by columnists already stink of the “keep the Tories out” line rather than the “fairer democracy” line, and if the columnists say it now, how could Labour defend it in a year’s time?

  24. Richard Manns

    What makes you think that a party very new to power won’t also use that to introduce gerrymandering. In Scotland, the voting system introduced by Labour has often been described as a system designed to create a permanent Lab/LD coalition in charge.

    Fortunately, Scots voters overcame that institutional bias. Minority government is actually rather good, since on single party/coalition can force its policies through.

  25. The fact of whether Brown will stay or not may come down to his personal ego,Brown is unlikely to want to twiddle his thumbs in retirement after losing the next GE.

    If the defeat seems like it is going to be large enough it may give him the tag of a loser,preventing him from getting a high rated job at the IMF or World Bank,where i believe he would have been better anyway,the man is not PM material the more he tries the more it stands out that he is not fit for purpose.

    Browns priority has always been Africa & other poor places in the World,i don’t believe he thinks about the UK’s problems like a PM should.

    Even with a massive turnaround in the polls to say a hung Parliament,Brown would have still taken a 66 Maj & lost it,he will still be seen as a failure.

    I don’t for one minute think we will get a hung Parliament but even with that unlikely scenario Brown is finished,he may look to looking after his own legacy away from British Politics.

    Being seen as a loser at the fag end of winner Tony Blairs government may be just too much for Browns ego to take.

  26. PR….gah, I have some…fairly substantial…reforms in my head that I think could be good, but I’m also extremely sceptical of any and all talk of reform incase they fur cup what is essentially a pretty good system. Dunno whether to call myself reformist or conservative or what. More and more I think that the biggest problem this coutry has…possibly all democracies have….is foolish voters, and I suspect that may make me a tory indeed :/

    I’m not too sure brown will be that worried how the public think of him once he’s no longer PM, and I suspect he’ll want to keep working at something depite talk of blindless and retiring. His particular problems just getting along with other labour MPs may well help drive him from parliament though aye.

  27. @ OldNat

    Certainly they would, and I viewed the setting-up of devolution in Wales and Scotland as an attempt to maintain power in the Celtic fringe.

    What I meant was that, whilst you’re new and winning, such things can be passed because people trust you and you stand to lose in the short-term even if you might gain in the long. Now, no-one would believe it wasn’t for political gain.

  28. Richard

    Thanks for the clarification.

  29. Any talk of constitutional change, whether in the electoral system or in ennabling Life Barons to renounce their peerage, for implementation BEFORE the next election is just talk.

    The constitutional reality is that this Parliament has just one (truncated) session remaining with no more than four months of effective legislative time available.
    There are simply not enough legislative days left to pass anything other than simple uncontentious Bills, even with the draconian use of guillotines and whips to which this government has become accustomed.

    Any Bill lost in the House of Lords would be effectively dead since the Parliament Act cannot be used (it only applies if a Bill voted down in the House of Lords is reintroduced and passed in the Commons in the subsequent session).

    Even if a Bill amending the electoral system were passed by both Houses (big assumption) and received Royal Assent before March, there is insufficient time to implement the necessary administrative ararngements for a May / June election on anything other than the existing (new) boundaries.

    The only conceivable changes to our electoral system which could be implemented for a 2010 election are either:

    a – Alternate Vote – where candidates are listed in order of preference and votes of lowest canddidtaes are re-distributed until one candidate has achieved more than 50%; or

    b – French Ballotage system where, if no canddiate achieves 50%+1 votes, a second election in that seat is held two weeks later with only those candidates achieving a given % in first vote eligible to remain on ballot paper. In second vote winner only requires a “simple” majority (i.e. FPTP).

    The reason these options could be implemented is that they can both be used in single member constituencies so require fewer logistical changes. Of course, one likely consequence is massive voter confusion and a record number of spoilt ballots.

    The idea that a tired and discredited government can introduce wide-ranging constitutional change in its dying days and implement these for its own electoral benefit is an affront to democracy and frankly laughable. If the government truly believed that its proposals were right for the country, then the logical thing to do would be to present them as a key part of its manifesto for the next Parliament and make them central to its campaign in a general election.

  30. Anthony/Others

    Any polls before the weekend ?

  31. @ Rich

    Thankfully the prospect of a hung parliament is looking les and less likely as the days pass.

  32. Interesting to see the odds WIlliam Hill are giving on the year Gordon Brown leaves office.

    Most likely is next year but believe it or not they are offering 50/1 on 2017!

    What a horrendous thought!!!

  33. As we approach the end of the so called silly season I offer a few pithy hopes for the’new’ political year on this site and in general.

    1 That as we swing into the campaign before the election we all resist the temptation to accuse the party we oppose of the type of sins more likely to be associated with a camp guard at Auschwitz.

    2 That Alec starts to talk about the polls rather than his strident and pedantic views on economics

    3 That Com Res do not produce any more rogue polls or at least if they do that they provide us with an explanation.

    4 That Labour ministers who lose their seats next May are treated with more respect than was the case with Michael Portillo in 1997.

    5 And would Gordon Brown please refrain from throwing his mobile phone at the removal men when they come to collect his effects on May 7th…

  34. @Nick, that’s the thing isn’t it…..the next election isn’t about what party you support, it’s about what party you’re against….and that can’t be a good sign.

    I don’t mind subjects going off topic somewhat (hell it’s almost all I ever comment on), so long as the discussions stay friendly and rational…but it’s not my site…..

  35. Proportional Representation expounded by MPs who hope they will be near the top of the party list and get in. After the expenses debacle we need more accountability not less; I want to continue to vote for a named person.

    Proportional representation seems to produce coalitions in every country that uses it: do we want paralysis in the centre of this complex society with agreements made behind closed doors? I do not think so.

  36. Jack,
    What’s wrong with smoking ads? It’s a legal activity, and attempts to prevent a legal activity being advertised smack of fascism. The smoking ban in pubs is driving many of them out of business at a time when they would normally thrive – a recession.

    Paul H-J
    The Alternative Vote system has always seemed the best to me, because you can vote for particular candidates rather than simply a party list as in the Euro elections. Am I imagining it, or did the Euro elections once use the AV method?

    I think that there are more urgnet reforms needed however:

    1) Stop just anyone being able to have a postal ballot. We should revert to the old system whereby only the infirm could get one. It has been shown to be wide open to corruption many times.
    2) (more controversial) Forget one man one vote. Why should a dole-scrounger with no property (i.e. doesn’t own any of the country that he is voting for), have the same say as someone who works for their living and owns property? Give everyone one vote, and then allot extra votes to those who are in paid employment and/or own property. That would solve all our problems, because those with a stake in the country’s success would have more say in how it is run, without disenfranchising anyone.

  37. “forget one man one vote” Ah yes, the fascists role in. Truly ending democracy is what we need as a solution to our problems.

    The reason that people with no money get a vote is that the government passes laws that affect things other than taxation and more importantly, they are people who have a right to decide how they are governed!!! A person with no money isn’t someone who “doesn’t own any of the country that he is voting for”. He owns himself and he himself is affected by the government and the laws that government passes. Therefore he gets a say in it.

  38. Stephen W
    This is not fascism. Institutions that work well, such as private industry, and the armed forces, have hierarchical models. The managing director gets more say than the middle-manager, who in turn gets more say than the shop-floor worker. The colonel, sergeant and squaddie all have different amounts of power over how their unit operates.
    To say that all citizens within a country should have an equal say in how it is run seems more like communism to me. (Ideal communism, not the way it has been implemented in real life, where it produces a ruling class just like any other system).
    In ancient Athens, the progenitor of democracy, only citizens got the vote, which excluded slaves and women, amongst others. In Britain, the model for modern (i.e. post about 1650) democracy, the franchise was only extended to women in about 1920, and to working men not long before that. The obsession with One Man (One Person?) One Vote seems to be a very modern phenomenon. Why we should try to impose this on places like Iraq and Afghanistan is a mystery to me. It is a completely alien system to them.
    Is Britain greater now than when the franchise was more restricted? I doubt it.

  39. Also – yes, he still gets a say in it in my proposal. Just not as great a say as someone who owns a bit of the place, Should passers-by be able to tell me how to maintain my own garden? They are entitled to an opinion, but not to tell me what to do.

  40. @Pete B

    I really, really hope you are being sarcastic / playing Devil’s Advocate….

    Many brilliant and decent people have identified that the basic problem with democracy is the quality of the voters. All of those people have gone on to conclude that despite that problem, Universal Suffrage is the best way to run a country.

  41. “2) (more controversial) Forget one man one vote. Why should a dole-scrounger with no property (i.e. doesn’t own any of the country that he is voting for), have the same say as someone who works for their living and owns property? Give everyone one vote, and then allot extra votes to those who are in paid employment and/or own property. That would solve all our problems, because those with a stake in the country’s success would have more say in how it is run, without disenfranchising anyone.”


    I almost thought you had a similar idea to mine there then you went all…..gah..ish.

    In short answer to your question, yes the country is much much greater now than it was back then……depending of course, on how much weight you give to military might and world influence compared to people not dying on the street….

    I would much prefer alternative vote to party lists, I don’t want to vote for a party, issues in politics are too complex for that many people to really agree on all of them.

  42. Pete B,

    The idea you floated was set out in detail by Nevil Shute in the 1950s. It never gained traction. One fundamental flaw – the numbers who gain under it are far outweighed by the numbers who lose (relatively speaking). This is always the juggling act governments in democracies have to make – how to extract from those who have in order to deliver to those who have not in a way which appears equitable and acceptable to both groups.

    Far more imprtant is that we retain a system which leaves the individual voter with a choice as to whom they elect rather than any form of party list where the decision is taken behind closed doors among party elites. In that context teh Conservative flirtation wiith open primaries, while horrendouly expensive, is a much better development.

  43. AV has it’s advantages, but also its drawbacks – you could end up having a huge turnover of MPs, with incumbants constantly being forced out, not to mention the possibility that the parliament could end up dominated by a party that actually did badly on most people’s first preferences. I guess that’s where AV+ comes in, but then you hit the whole problem of party lists. The Baden-Württemberg system might work well, but only if people can understand it…

    Oh, and one voter one vote is vital to democracy. If you give one group of people (whether economic, ethnic, religious etc.) more say in the running of the country than other groups, they will inevitably increase their own privilages at the expense of those other groups, who will in turn become disillusioned with the political system and being to seek unconstitutional means of changing the way that they’re governed. The end result? Civil war probably.

  44. What does the population of ukpollingreport think of the idea of ministers elected independantly of parliament and independantly of each other? Some tory type as home secretary, some labour type in health, etc etc…

  45. 259 days until the election (well, assuming we go with 6th May, same day as the local elections, again).

  46. Wood,

    A concept alien to our system in more ways than one.

    In France and USA, they have a strict application of Montesquieu’s separation of powers – Ministers cannot be members of the Legislature – though the way they apply this in practice differs. In the UK on the other hand we require all Ministers to be members of the legislature for Parliamentary accountability – hence the profusion of peerages for Brown’s GOATs.

    Your proposal – which could equally be described as GOATs – would also effectively produce “coalition” government – something the UK has never been comfortable with hitherto. (Even at Local Council level, this has not proved stable and the dominant party in any coalition much prefers to poach seats off its “partners” in order to gain overall control.)

    Furthermore, how would you reconcile a cabinet of Divas (for that is what you would get) each with their own peronal “mandate” with the doctrine of collective responsibility ?

  47. Paul H-J

    You thiink that “a concept alien to our system” is a bad thing? Surely that is what we need for there can otherwise be no significant change.

    Scotland had coalition governmentfor eight years and it worked well. Now we have minority government and it is also working well, though the former coalition partners havn’t quite got the hang of it yet leaving it to the Conservatives and the Greens to do the deals.

    Nor can it be said that it is done “behind closed doors.” That would be contrary to the parliament’s Founding Principles.

    Others above look to anywhere in the world rather than to the legislature which was intended by design to show the way. I know that acting as a model for the reform of Westminster was an important objective of Donald Dewar’s Home Rule parliament because he told me so when he was about 17 years old.

    Now I wonder if that, rather than the better governance of Scotland that was the main objective. From what he told me, it could well have been,

    I agree that a “cabinet of Divas” would be distasteful, but you seem to take the view that “the doctrine of collective responsibility” and much else is sarosanct.

    I’ve just been lobbied about the options for the selection of the members of the House of Lords. That begs the questions of whether we need it at all, what it is for, and what powers it should have.

    The present system has failed. We need to change it. “concepts alien to our system” are exactly what is required.

  48. John,

    I don’t disagree (please forgive the deliberate double negative).

    My point was that Wood’s proposal has far more wide-ranging implications than just changing the way the cabinet is appointed.

    Also, as a natural conservative, I am disinclined to accept the need for radical reform just becuase we have a temporary breakdown in operational performance. That is like deciding that you need a new car every time the current one is overdue for a service.

    As to the HoL – precisely – but then Blair never was any good at fundamental issues. Brown on the other hand is simply passionate about personal/party advantage.

  49. ‘WOOD
    What does the population of ukpollingreport think of the idea of ministers elected independantly of parliament and independantly of each other? Some tory type as home secretary, some labour type in health, etc etc…’

    Absolutely appalling–it’s what is wrong with the House of Lords. I need to be able to vote for or against those people who make the laws by which I have to live my life. Otherwise why not a military govt? Or Saddam Hussein was a valid leader. What about an absolute monarch?

    Either one believes in democracy or one says – by logic – that democracy is pointless so any other govt is equally valid. So, that makes the Taleban right, Al Qaeda and so on…

    We have enough problems when democracy returns us a govt we don’t like such as in Gaza (which we just like to conveniently forget when we are meant to be applauding the weak democracy in Afghanistan- the strong vote on Gaza was just inconvenient to the UK and USA govts)…

    There is no excuse for unelected people making laws by which we have to live and that crucially includes the House of Lords.

    It would be nice if we in the UK actually lived in a real democracy rather than a partial one.

  50. @Paul, alien to many systems I think….not heard of anywhere that does it, but it seems a logical step.

    I suspect, that the problems with coalition govt in the UK, are because parties don’t reflect reality…there’s that quote from boris while campaigning for mayor, asking his aide what his position on drugs was…that’s the problem with party politics in this country, parties aren’t vague groupings of people who happen to have similar views…..right wing, left wing…conservative…ecological….they are treated and behave as…I don’t know, armies perhaps. Every member has to agree, or more realistically pretend to agree on everything, they’re all ordered to vote the same way on every issue….I don’t think it’s a great system. I think my suggestion would do a lot of harm to the current party system…and I think that’s a good thing. Someone isn’t going to want to lie about their honest views on whipping criminals just to make their collegue look nice and friendly for the enviromentalists.

    I see it changing pretty quickly to a cabinet of independants, or relative independants…and the rest of parliament following suit, not least because they no longer have to present a national front to push for their man in PM, they’re answerable only to their constituents. Do you think the quality of legislation would improve or not if there were no more whips?

    The cabinet of divas issue is a tricky one, but I think for the most part there wouldn’t be collective responsibility….just individual responsibility for their section. It is more difficult when you think about the seats such as PM, and chancellor especially…..but would my suggestion result in elections for those be much different than now, we already talk about Brown and darling vs cameron and osborne…in many respects people already vote for or against a PM, nonirregardless of whether they’re making the best choice for their own MP. Look at Derby Council….that was a damn good council, and it got screwed by the voter because of its party, I’d hope that in my system individuals would be judged on their own merits and personal views and performances rather than their parties.

    I also suggest that such a system would result in a much higher standard of political debate, simply because all subjects would be covered in relative depth, the mostly ignored aging population problem suddenly becomes a main issue in the race for pensions…

    @John “The present system has failed”

    I disagree, unpopular governments happen, and economic problems happen…I don’t think either are down to failures in the system, I also agree somewhat with Paul below you, I think the current system we have is actually pretty good….and I’m wary of all changes lest we mess it up. On the other hand, that doesn’t stop me wanting to try to improve it.