The BBC is reporting a new Ipsos MORI poll with topline results of CON 36%(-7), LAB 24%(-2), LDEM 25%(+8!). So far I can’t find any mention of it elsewhere, and consequently don’t know the fieldwork dates (though I guess from the figures it must have been conducted at a similar time to the other polls that have shown a big conference boost for the Liberal Democrats).

The BBC’s report says this is the first time Labour have been in third place since 1982. I’m assuming that’s referring to just Ipsos-MORI polls. More recently one ICM poll earlier this year put the Lib Dems in second, as did a Populus poll just after the Liberal Democrat conference in 2004.

UPDATE: More details are now up on MORI’s website here The field work dates were September 25th to 27th (that is, Friday to Sunday). According to MORI’s commentatary the big shift is largely down to changing certainty to vote. MORI take only those rating their likelihood of voting as 10/10 for their topline figures, so it can have a dramatic effect.

59 Responses to “MORI show Lib Dems in second place”

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  1. It looks a bit suspicious, particularly the spectacular Tory drop. Probably largely meaningless until we get to post conference season polls, but it might be an indication of some unexpected pressure on Cameron in the election campaign proper when LDs will get more even coverage.

  2. Eurgh… I wonder what crazy stuff Labour will get after Brown gives another “speech of his life” tomorrow?

  3. Seems to have been comissioned for Newsnight/

    More detail here:

  4. Actually possibly not that looks like a different poll to me. ORB (whoever they are).

    Sorry for the above post.

  5. according to Newsnight Scotland; this will be appearing in tomorrows edition of The Scotsman newspaper

  6. It looks like any rise Lib Dem exposure hurts the Tories more then Labour. Hardly surprising considering the similarities between Cameron and Clegg, and the fact that most of the Tory support are actually just voting against Labour.

    If I was Brown I would agree to these televised debates and make sure Clegg is involved too.

  7. Yikes, wasn’t expecting a poll like that. A hung parliament suddenly looks a lot more likely, although I suspect that the polls will probably calm down once the conference season ends. Still, if they don’t then we could be heading for a very interesting election campaign.

  8. Interestingly using the site predictor this result would come out as a hung parliament, Cons 8 short.

    If you reversed the figs to Con 24, Lab 36% it would be a Lab majority of 102.

    But whatever happens to the lib lab vote, the key for the conservatives is hitting that 39/40% figure if they are going to get a decent working majority.

    I’m sure after the conference season things will largly balance out. Good move by Brown to take on the debates, his expectations are already very low so he has nothing to lose on this. He had something to lose by not doing it after SKY said they would put it on anyway.

    This whole episode does remind me of a Mock the Week episode a few weeks ago:

    Frankie Boyle : Gordon Brown can’t go on television next to David Cameron because he will look like his face is melting!

  9. I think the lib dem vote will slip back but still be around 21-22. Once the general election campaign begins and the Lib Dem vote naturally rises things coulc get very interesting.
    A hung parliament looks a real possibility, am off to the bookies tomorrow to put some money on.

  10. You could put a bet on on-line now. Get better odds too.

  11. Actually, further to my last comment, you can see YouGov’s “daily” surveys that already show an up-swing to Labour of a similar magnitude to the LibDems here.

    Notably, the LibDems are on 20-ish again, and Labour seems to have recovered much of the extra 5% from the “others”.

  12. Put simply, I can understand why Labour might be doing badly right now but not why the Tories would be losing support in this way. Maybe Robert Worcester can enlighten us.

  13. This is really intriguing! What surprises me even more, like George pointed out, is that this would lead to a hung parliament! Its crazy that if with the current governing party ended with the third biggest chunk of the vote there STILL wouldnt be a party with a winning majority!!

  14. Fingers crossed for a hung parliament. Might get to see some actual democracy in this country for a change. Preferably a labour hung parliament – Cameron might risk having another election to increase his majority, but Brown sure as hell won’t. Imagine it, a whole five years of a party not being able to do whatever the damn hell it wants. :)

  15. It would be so exciting :D

    Finally politicians would stop acting like the power hungry jobsworths they seem to come across as and will actually require to work together for the best needs of the country.

  16. @Billy

    Labour plurality in a hung Parliament whilst the unions get bolshie whilst the economy’s stuffed and poorly even in recovery?

    I can’t guarantee you that in 2010, but if you can find a time machine, I could send you back to 1978…

  17. OK, the Labour supporters can stop masturbating – it is conference season. The polls are in flux. I agree, it is quite a poll in a number of respects, but it is the middle of the party conferences. In 2 or 3 weeks’ time the polls will be reading something like this – Con 40; Lab 26; Lib 20.

    You heard it here first.

  18. ok i don’t think the term maturbating however funny is worth a mention on this page, unless your name is the price of darkness of course. this poll say’s one thing a number of people that were going to vote torie are former lib dems with only a small number being labour surporters. when things level out the picture will be, i think:

    CON 44%
    LD 26%
    LAB 22%
    OTH 8%

    this is a best case for the tories and would deliver them 403 seats with labour on around 150 seats and the lib dem on 70-72 seats.

    in reallity however, the tories will get 42% labour 24% lib dems 24% oth 10%

  19. I thought Labour under Brown had a floor of 25%, but their poll ratings are regularly falling off a succession of cliffs.

    Cameron seems to be treading water as the Conservatives can’t make any headway despite the lack of resistance.

    Under these conditions as the public gets to know Clegg (still only 70-odd% of people have made up their minds compared to 90-95% for Brown & Cameron) the LibDems have the potential to hit 30% with a high profile election campaign – that would truly put a cat among the pigeons for any seat prediction.

    I still don’t see a hung parliament as I doubt a swing to Clegg would translate into enough gains for them, but it would change assumptions about what will happen in the next parliament.

    The most demoralising thing for Labour must be the lack of a realistic successor to Brown as any new leader will be behind the eight-ball in terms of recognition with a significantly reduced parliamenary base and either be tarnished by association with this government or have a low recognition factor – things can only get worse!

  20. Any polls which suggest such a close result really need to recognise that UNS for the UK doesn’t apply in Scotland, with it’s different polity. Apply UNS to England if that seems appropriate, even Wales if the data supports that, but it is nonsense to apply that to Scotland – even if some of the largest party’s vote is siphoned off to UK parties in a UK GE.

    A sea change ocurred in Scotland in 2007, and a separate analysis needs to be done for the 59 Scottish seats – and Scotland needs to be excluded from the GB polling data.

  21. YouGov’s polling on social issues like the NHS also needs significant revision. Welsh and Scottish populations are marginal to the English predominance, but both operate different NHS systems to the one in England. what possible use is there in measuring a “UK” response to THE NHS, when respondents in Scotland and Wales have different NHSs. If the English want to know what the English population think of the UK Government (while acting as the English Government) handling of the NHS, then the sample needs to be based on England, not GB.

    Sensible pollsters don’t confuse apples and pears. On thye basis of their data YouGov aint sensible!

  22. @Josh

    “Its crazy that if with the current governing party ended with the third biggest chunk of the vote there STILL wouldnt be a party with a winning majority!!”

    On the contrary – if a ruling party comes third, it implies that three parties have fairly similar shares of the vote: exactly the situation where you would expect there to be no overall majority in parliament (under a sensible electoral system, at least…)!

  23. PA have this as 25th-27th Sepember, so (as thought) between the LD and Labour conferences.

  24. Something wrong with that BBC report, which gives the 1982 figures as Lab 33% in third place, LibDems 34% in second – leaving only 33% for Tories and Others combined. Who was in first place and with how much?
    Sloppy BBC reporting – again!

  25. Um, correct me for being wrong but I thought the BBC couldn’t actually pay for a poll of voting intention?

  26. @OldNat

    “Welsh and Scottish populations are marginal to the English predominance”.

    A bit like in the UK election? Although they can hold the key swings, e.g. in 2005.

    “both operate different NHS systems to the one in England”

    I both disagree and ask how that would affect the polling? Surely individual Scots would respond with their opinion, as would the Welsh and the English.

    You may consider them “apples and pears”, but if Scots only get pears and English only get apples and you use the same word “apple” for both, if you ask them “what do you think of apples”, you will get a valid response for pomaceous fruit as a whole!

  27. Correction: “key swings” = “key to determining majorities”

  28. This is probably a blip, but certainly will be used to clobber Labour on Brown’s big day, as the media are now in a full anti-Labour feeding frenzy, as though they can’t wait ’til next year for an election.

    Still, it does reflect a long term trend of almost exactly the last 2 years whereby the Lib Dems have been ever so slowly creeping up (but not in any exciting way) and Labour have been decaying.

    As I have said, I think the Tories’ fortunes are directly linked to the Labour “threat of re-election” – as Labour diminishes, so do the Conservatives; the spoils distributed evenly between the LibDems and Others.

    It doesn’t imply a hung parliament of course, because the chances of a uniform swing in any direction are pretty remote; but it may imply that the LibDems could really give the Tories a run for their money in southern England and Cornwall (though not in Wales I’ll bet).

    Bear in mind turnout of course, which halves all the parties’ support in real terms… well, maybe more than halves Labour’s support when it comes to the election.

  29. Some of the people expressing surprise shouldn’t be so shocked at this. As I said in the first post, wait until after the conference season until we can give a fuller judgement, but the LD/Tory trade off here isn’t surprising. We all know that while well in front, the Tory party isn’t necessarily setting people’s imagination on fire. A reasonable chunk of their support is relatively weak, and the poster that suggested it is more anti Labour than pro Tory is right. The danger for the Tories is less from Labour but rather from a LD party that appears to have a greater chance of success, therefore swinging more of te anti Labour votes away from Cameron. In the last few days of the GE campaign expect a Tory ‘don’t let Labour in by the back door’ strategy as the LD vote inches up.

  30. MD – the BBC producer guidelines mean they have to get special permission from David Cowling to commission a voting intention poll. In practice, either they don’t ask or David Cowling doesn’t say yes, since they don’t do it.

    I don’t think the BBC commissioned this poll, it’s just MORI’s standard monthly political monitor. The BBC probably just happened to be the first off the mark when MORI press released it.

  31. After months, a poll that indicates a significant change in opinion.

    The trouble is that this poll on the face of it looks puzzling. The LibDem Conference was not THAT good.

    There are plenty of polls coming out now the conferences are on. Best to wait and see if a couple more polls show a similar shift to the LibDems.

  32. The WMA is 39:25:22 but as I noted in my last poll the Lab/Lib Dem gap is dropping rapidly, and there is a great deal of political logic in this.

    Having said which, compared to a month ago when tne WMA was 42:26:18 the shift has been 3 from C and 1 from Lab.

    I suspect the conferences will be bad for Labour and good for the Conservatives. 42:22:23 would make sense – the CORE labour vote seems to be about 20%, We shall see

  33. funny watching the reaction to one out of line poll here. But it does remind of the polls during the expenses saga earlier this year.

  34. http://www.ipsos-
    details are on the Mori website

    The up 8% for the Lib Dems does suggest a switch form a rather low 17% to a rather high 25%, when other polsl were showing a change from 19/20% to 22/23%

    Never-the-less, as Mori point out in 2004 the Lib Dems had a 4% poll boost after their conference.

    My prediction is that Cameron will win big getting a 100 plus majority on about 37% of the vote. That will go to his head just like it did with all the others and despite winninga second term he will prove to be a most awful prime-minister.

  35. @Fred Stansfield

    I’m sure Lib Dems have a lot more activists and councillors hitting the streets pressing home their local presence, in spite of the Lib Dem leaderships unimpressive performance… where are Labour’s activists I wonder?!


    It’s not just one poll… about half a dozen of the last few show the LDs over 20% and Labour at around 25% (and falling).

    The long term (2 year) trend is looking increasingly like a tidy 40:20:20 split by next spring …and 20 for the Others of course.

    The significance of this poll is that the public mood is showing persistent signs of volatility and disdain for the main two parties – in particular Labour; and hinting that the Tories to some extent (in the South) need Labour to put up a fight in order to bring out a lot of Tory voters (many of whom seem to have vanished since 1997); and a consistent higher share for the LDs and Others since the expenses scandal.

    The LibDems are only serious contenders against the Tories in the south of England and the Celtic areas; against Labour in many urban areas – along with myriad minor parties of all persuasions.
    I wouldn’t expect the LDP to pull any major upsets in areas where Labour are not usually contenders anyway (in fact they may lose a few to the Tories, where LD councils are held in contempt); but if enough minor parties split the vote in urban areas, the LDP could hold its ground by making urban gains against Labour, and usurping some old Labour heartlands.

  36. Am I reading the MORI site wrongly or does it say that the fieldwork was done from 17th to 19th Sept, i.e. BEFORE Lib Dem Conference?

  37. Probably put of line poll Keith, but hey it’s fun! :))

  38. (…and when I say South, I mean south of Worksop, not south of Watford!)

  39. These polls are designed to blip. When you hear several blips in a row doing the same thing, you can begin to trust them.

    Before then, they don’t mean much, but afterwards , if the bigger picture changes, it will be interesting to see at which point , after whose speech, things began to change.

  40. It was just after the 2007 conference season that things really started to change in the polls.

    All things considered, there’s a pretty combustible mix for another post-conference change to occur.

  41. Anthony.
    Are you going to factor all the conference polls into your ‘tracker/average’ moniter thingy?

    Since polls around conference seasion tend to go AWOL won’t this just ‘stuff up’ [technical term] your tracker thingy for weeks and weeks and weeks – especially if the news agencies cut down on their polling for financial reasons until nearer the election.
    Wouldn’t it be wiser to stop feeding them into calculations until a ‘suitable period’ has elapsed?

  42. How worthwhile are polls if they can be influenced by a bit of publicity like conferences. In this case the libdems had a poor conference, with Cables policies being trashed even by his own party.
    Maybe with Clegg concentrating on the Tories some of those polled thought we had a tory govt and answered accordingly!

    Maybe daft and unworkable though Cables tax plan was – any policy which says it will tax someone else will be popular.

    The reality is that we are in a benign period. Govt is pouring money into the economy and pretending there is an easy way to pay it back. In effect a good old fashioned pre election ‘boom’. The post election consequences for this are disastrous for all of us since the debt and deficit will mean awful cuts are necessary.

    Given the opportunity for Labour to take advantage of that and LibDems to hysterically attack the Tories via their conferences then I suppose we must expect knee jerk reactions from polls.

    Where will we be in 6 months? VAT will rise, probably inflation will be edging up – so will unemployment. A new German govt will be more protectionist

    Indeed this report throws doubt on Browns claims to have encouraged the world to think ‘global’
    “What I still find staggering is that governments around the world are being allowed to get away with this kind of protectionism without any apparent resistance”

    And of course the Tories will have 3 to 4 weeks to lay out labours failings. I think a bet on a hung parliament will be money wasted.

  43. Sally C – there is a rapid decay time on the rolling average. A poll stops feeding into the average after about 20 days, and is weighted down as soon as there are newer poll, so a poll that’s even a week older than the newest poll will have very little weight.

    Trevorsden – the polls aren’t influenced by the conference. The people answering it are, so one might as well ask how worthwhile are voters if they can be influenced by a bit of publicity like conferences?

  44. At the same time a year ago the WMA was 43:29:18 and two weeks later (after the conference season ended) it was 43:31:16 . Two years ago it was 33:41:16, and 2 weeks later it was 40:38:12.

    So the only somewhat consistent trend is a slight drop in the Lib Dems, and even this is a v small sample size.

  45. What happened in Germany won’t have escaped Brown’s attention, where the main centre-left party collapsed from 34% to 23%. The same change applied to this country would give Labour 25%. I don’t think that sort of result can be completely discounted. The Tory conference may further dent Labour’s showing in the polls.

  46. Josh:

    “politicians would stop acting like the power hungry jobsworths they seem to come across as and will actually require to work together for the best needs of the country.”

    I hope you are right but in the Westminster culture that only happens in war. Sadly, there seems to be regression to Westminster infantilism over the three sessions of the Scottish Parliament and the party voting on the Megrahi release demonstrates. I don’t think this can be solely the result of the ascendancy of the SNP or minority government, for it started earlier than that.

    I attribute it to the loss of the likes of Donald Dewar, Jim Wallace and the other Westminster escapees and I think that it is significant that only Malcolm Chisholm, the last of Labour’s to remain, acted on the Megrahi issue in the way that Donald Dewar led me to believe would be the norm in his vision for a Home Rule parliament.

  47. Anthony:

    Please can you help by having a word with YouGov.

    OLDNAT has raised an important issue in his second post, which I have commented on to YOUGOV and referred to on these pages. There is a critical weakness in any polling that does not take cognisance of it and it is now too important to ignore.

    I’d like a SNP target list of seats too, but I can do that mysel if I need to. That’s a quite inconsequential and trivial issue by comparison.

    OLDNAT chooses the NHS as an example. The SNP loses some of its vote to UK parties in UK elections where the NHS is not an issue for Scottish voters in the UK, but the standing of the Scottish Government in relation to the NHS is dramatically different.

    Early on Sunday my wife was taken to hospital in an emergency (she’s OK now) and our neighbour, a Labour party member, expressed his concern that the excellent treatment she had would be at risk under a Conservative Government. He need have no such concern.

    Public health in Scotland has been different from England since the mid 19thC and the NHS gets more different from England and better year by year.

    I was the Chief Finance Officer of one of the smallest Health boards before I retired, and I can tell you that although three of Scottish Labour’s health ministers were excellent, the workaholic Nicola Sturgeon, freed from ties to NewLabour in England is making a big difference to morale.

    If I were in charge of the SNP’s election campaign I would have Alex Salmond introduce her and say that he conducts the orchestra, but he has people like her playing the tunes.

    Politician of the year awards and standing ovations from the BMA tell you something.

    If you want me to write 3000 words on this let me know, but can I just say that the NHS employs about 4% of people in work. Other voters in their housholds and close associates must be double that. Virtually the whole electorate are patients, but that’s not the point. People talk about their work problems.

    Maybe 5% to 10% of the electorate are making or receiving (from people in a position to know) very positive comments about a government minister. Is that unusual in your experience?

    What happened in Germany won’t have escaped Brown’s attention, where the main centre-left party collapsed from 34% to 23%. The same change applied to this country would give Labour 25%. I don’t think that sort of result can be completely discounted. The Tory conference may further dent Labour’s showing in the polls.’

    BUT the reason is simple–they were squeezed by the far left and the Greens. Worth remembering that the main centre right party (Merkel’s) also did poorly as they were squeezed by the far right pro business party. You are playing with arithmetic if you just pick off one party and don’t contemplate the total arithmetic Andy.

    Contemplate the (far left) Linke vote- over 10% of Germans vote for reformed Communist party…And over 10% for the Greens- both being best ever results…

  49. The FDP in Germany appeals to the same sort of people that vote UKIP in England. If they weren’t German the Daily Mail would happily endorse them.

  50. I think it doesn’t matter that much to whom Labour or the SPD in Germany lose votes, whether to the right or left, as long as the centre-right parties are winning enough support to win elections. The point is that centre-left parties all over Europe seem to be losing their way, with a few exceptions such as in Spain and Norway. I think Labour will lose a fair number of votes to UKIP, Greens, BNP at the next election which will mean they’ll lose a lot of seats to the Conservatives.

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