ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian shows Conservative support up to 38%, a similar level to the recent YouGov and Populus polls. The full topline figures with changes from last month are CON 38%(+4), LAB 34%(+2), LDEM 20%(-4).

The Conservatives have clearly received a boost from their local election successes. The Guardian’s coverage says that this is the highest level of Tory support for 13 years – it isn’t, it’s just another example of newspapers rather annoying tendency to be blind to all but the polls they themselves publish. In fact at the height of the Cameron honeymoon in January ICM put Conservative support at 39% in a poll for the News of the World.

The Labour party have, as one should expect, lost support from their recent difficulties but have also recovered slightly in this poll. This could potentially mean they are past the worst and are beginning to rally, but equally could just be sample error – until we see their support recovering in more than one poll we sharn’t know. The Liberal Democrats have dropped sharply compared to last month – this could be the local election results suddenly presenting the Conservatives as the party making gains against Labour rather than the Lib Dems, but looking at the trend in ICM’s figures it seems far more likely that last month’s 24% figure was a blip.

The poll also asked the, now rather regular, question of how people would vote if Gordon Brown were Labour leader. As usual this slightly increases the Conservative lead to 9 points (CON 40%, LAB 31%, LDEM 19%). The usual caveats apply – these are just hypothetical questions and are not strictly comparable to normal voting intention questions since they prompt people with the names of the party leaders. It does once again suggest however that Gordon Brown becoming leader will not necessarily improve Labour’s fortunes. As has been hypothesised here in the past, the Guardian suggests that these figures contain some degree of churn – while only 85% of people saying they’d vote Labour now say they would vote Labour under Brown, Brown would also pick up support from people not presently voting Labour, particularly Lib Dem voters.

Asked which party has the better policy on various issues, the Conservatives are now ahead on all the public services – they are ahead by two points on the NHS, previously an issue that Labour could call their own, and education and have big leads on law and order and immigration. Labour however retain their lead on the party best able to run the economy, arguably the most important policy issue.

ICM also asked respondents to rate out of 10 Labour’s achievements in office on various issues. They scored 5.9/10 on running the economy, 5.2/10 on getting people off of welfare into work and 5.3 on education. However, they scored only 4.6/10 on the NHS, 3.8/10 on sleaze and 3.6/10 on the war in Iraq.


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