ICM have a new poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph. The topline figures with changes from about a fortnight ago are CON 42%(-2), LAB 25%(-2), LDEM 21%(+3).

The Conservative lead is unchanged at a landslide winning 17 points, but both the Conservatives and Labour are down, with the Lib Dems up three points to 21%. ICM normally give the Liberal Democrats the highest level of support of all the pollsters anyway, but leaving aside their 23% conference boost this is the highest Lib Dem score from ICM since May.

The 17 point lead does contrast with the more modest leads recorded by YouGov and ComRes, but technically all three party figures are well within each others’ margins of error and a lead of 15 points or so. Of course, if it was solely sample error, it would even out over time – we would not see one pollster consistently reporting larger leads than another one. Just recently it has appeared that ICM are consistently showing a larger lead than YouGov, but Populus, who use a very similar method to ICM, are showing a lower lead – so while I’m keeping a careful eye on it, I think it’s most likely just normal sample variation.

The Sunday Times also reports that ICM have carried out polling in Stoke on Trent, Blackburn and Leicestershire North West for the Equalities and Human Rights Commision, which shows the BNP at 18% in those areas. There are no figures yet – the report suggests it is not being published for several weeks – but it’ll be something to look out for.


96 Responses to “Tories remain 17 points ahead with ICM”

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  1. I can’t pretend I’ve bothered to crunch any numbers myself, but I read Anthony’s posts pretty carefully and he seems to be saying that, when the question is asked, support for Labour outstrips that for Brown and support for Cameron outstrips that for the Tories.

    I suspect that has more to do with “opposition from the Left” to the New Labour project than actual antipathy to the PM. I think most people (even rabid Tories such as myself) think that he’s a decent, pleasant man doing a job that he’s just not cut out for.

  2. Philip JW

    I’m old-fashioned. I prefer that when someone asserts a relationship, that they also provide the evidential support for it – instead of demanding that others do that research.

    if you are suggesting that the Brown/Labour approval ratings are somehow different from other leader/party ratings, then you need to support that with statistical data.

  3. Neil A

    Brown reminds me of Head Teachers I have known. Desparate for a headship, but then became desperately unhappy when they discovered that, even if they had been an effective Depute, they lacked the skills they needed for the top job.

  4. Its called being promoted to your position of marginal incompetence. Every time you prove yourself capable of doing one job, they promote you to the next one up. Until you find one you’re not capable of doing….

    Sadly Gordon got right to the top before he found his position of marginal incompetence (although, in all honesty, if it hadn’t been for the extended asset bubble that made his chancellorship look like a success, he might have found that position one rank lower)..

  5. Anyway… the real news from Anthony’s post is this, surely….

    If, during a crapstorm over expenses, with the publicity of Griffin on the Beeb, scary population forecasts and EU double dealing over Lisbon, the best the BNP can manage (in seats selected by the Sunday Times for BNP-Friendliness) is 18% then I think we can safely discount the possibility of seeing a BNP MP in the next parliament. Which is good news, no?

    I have been hoping that BNP support was a wave we need to steady ourselves and ride over.

  6. Neil A

    Sadly, I have to confess that I was one of the many who didn’t understand the asset bubble, and thought that GB had been doing a good job as Chancellor.

    Never having had capital until my wife’s inheritance, we invested in it. Thank goodness we prioritised gifts to our kids training/housing first!

    Not that it really matters. The inherited properties produced the price they did only because of the bubble, so we really lost nothing.

  7. I think the BNP are going to get at least one MP next June.

  8. Looks like the past vote (2005) weighting has gone a bit wonky on the LDs, but Labour should be clawing back ground, not slipping back.

    I expect some narrowing between the two main parties and a drop in LD support as the election gets very near, as people focus on the harsh choices on the economy. People tend to have a view one way or the other on the government they want in elections fought in the depths of a recession or state of recession.

    The Conservative figure looks pretty satisfactory even on this measure, before the campaign.

  9. Joe James B

    “I expect some narrowing between the two main parties and a drop in LD support as the election gets very near, as people focus on the harsh choices on the economy”

    I know that is the conventional view – smaller parties get squeezed as voters concentrate on which of 2 MPs they want to see as the “president” of the UK.

    However, it is worth noting that NI has seldom voted on that issue. In Scotland and Wales, SNP/Plaid are less squeezed by this than once they were.

    Are the English (who will decide the election) immune from seeing Con/Lab as something to vote against?

  10. Oliver:
    I can’t see where the BNP might actually get enough support to win a seat. Their best seat is Barking but the Euro elections showed clearly that there is a limit to their support in that area. They don’t quite have what it takes in Thurrock or Burnley either – they could maybe reach 20-25% in those areas at the most but that probably wouldn’t be enough to win unless the vote is split very evenly between at least 3 other parties.

  11. I believe the SNP and Plaid C will do well, although it’s hard to see where they would gain more than a few seats.

    I don’t really see where the BNP could gain a seat.
    I don’t believe Thurrock is a place they could win even if it has a high BNP vote – it also ironically has a more definite ceiling on it aswell.

    Burnley I think is one place where the LDs could oust Labour (and I believe there will be very few of those, and two or three the other way).

    Perhaps Barking. Unlikely.

  12. I agree that it is very unlikely that the BNP will gain any seats at the forthcoming GE. But let’s imagine that they increase their votes to somewhere over a million. They got over 900,000 in the recent European election so it is not impossible, as they have had a lot of publicity for various reasons lately.

    In that scenario I wonder of we will see a reduction in calls for proportional representation from the LibDems and others?

  13. I am a regular visitor to UK Polling and enjoy the comments of Andrew and quite a number of people who contribute. What I find distasteful are the petty arguments that appear from time to time. The comments today are completely spoiled by the verbal intercourse with OLD NAT. Pity that the comments are littered with these arguments which are completely unnecessary which do nothing but distract from some excellent reporting and comments from those who genuinely comment about the poll in question.

  14. Pete B

    ‘In that scenario I wonder of we will see a reduction in calls for proportional representation from the LibDems and others?’

    Perhaps they will see the light and support single transferable vote type system, which would marginalise parties like the BNP.

    The current list system used in Europe is not only a poor form of democracy where individual MEPs no longer communicate with the public, it is also very helpful to extreme parties that may attract say 10% of the vote.

    I have no views as to whether first past the post or single transferable voting is better. I can see pros and cons for each.

  15. I live in the Batley and Spen Seat, where Mike Wood (Lab) has notional majority of 6814, due to boundary changes.

    This area has a significant BNP presence, along with some local papers who not particularly unfriendly to them, to put it mildly.

    The Tories need a swing of about 7.5% to take the seat, and the BNP chipping away a few thousand extra votes from Labour will assist the Tories. This scenario is surely likely to occur across the North of England. Whether these votes would go to the Tories if not the BNP, I don’t know.

    I agree with Pete B, in that I think he is saying PR enhances the fortunes of minority parties. It may be democratic, but the flavour of these parties is often distasteful. I would hate to see the balance of power being won by cutting deals with fringe parties.

  16. There seems to be some genuine disagreement between the pollsters now, and I have to say a 17% lead seems odd, especially with the very high LD score that doesn’t appear to be a response to any particular recent event(s).
    I still feel tht a narrowing of the gap is likely. What is interesting is that within some parts of the media there is a general marshalling of more critical anti Tory voices, and there are some small crumbs for Labour. I understand that in the ICM poll there are questions of immigration policy that suggest that the Tories are seen much more positively than Labour, but when the party policies are named without respondents being told which party has which policy, the labour policy comes out as much more favourable. This i feel sums up Labour’s problems – the Tories have some good policies, but some that will be disastrous. Labour cannot get the focus onto the latter, or onto areas where they have a more positive message themselves. I’m not sure there is much time left to change this.

  17. @Alec

    Is there anything more “disastrous” than the latest set of economic data showing that Labours policies have left us as the only major economy still in recession having been told by the current Prime minister, and former chancellor of ten years, that we were “best placed” to weather the worst slump on record?

    I have to agree with an earlier comment in that all those with a basic understanding of economics have already switched to the cons or, possibly, are merely victims of Labours well rewarded but decidedly third rate state education..

  18. @Neal Preshner – “I have to agree with an earlier comment in that all those with a basic understanding of economics have already switched to the cons or, possibly, are merely victims of Labours well rewarded but decidedly third rate state education..”

    First of all, you’re not entirely accurate on the first point. Many economic analysts are very nervous about Tory plans to cut the deficit too soon, although they almost unanimously accept it needs to be reduced, and most accept that Brown took broadly the correct steps once the crisis broke. By contrast, the Tory response was seen by many as confused, heavy footed and politically inspired. Osborn and Cameron didn’t cover themselves in glory in economic policy terms. Most would also agree that Brown did not do enough to restrict the government deficit (and individual debt) before the crisis however, so argue about the balance of what those who understand economics think, but please don’t be so glib.

    Regarding your second point about state education – as someone with a bog standard comprehensive education who went on to get two excellent degrees (if I say so myself) I find the statement somewhat offensive. The casual dismissal of 75% of UK schools, along with the personal derision of anyone who holds a contrary view to yours, may suggest an arrogance that isn’t very attractive. By all means disagree with other posters, but please don’t pretend only those who belong to a certain tribe have valid opinions – it’s not actually the way democracy works, and as we’ve all been talking about the Mother of Parliaments…..

  19. Political betting have noted that Labour were 13 points ahead in November 1996 in an ICM poll. Similar story now but the lead is a little larger for the Conservatives. History repeating perhaps?

  20. Both main parties were significantly higher in Nov 1996: Lab – 47%, C – 34%, LD – 15%.

  21. Alec – “when the party policies are named without respondents being told which party has which policy, the labour policy comes out as much more favourable.”

    I suspect that the tendency to prefer Tory policy when they know which policy belongs to which party, and Labour policy when they don’t know, reflects a widespread mistrust of Labour, particularly with regards immigration. People simply believe that Labour says one thing and – either deliberately or through incompetence – does quite another. And I think that is Labour’s main problem these days – however much people may like the sound of its promises, they no longer trust Labour to deliver on them.

  22. Greens have published details of their Holyrood YouGov poll

    Constituency voting intention (2007 in brackets):
    SNP: 34 (+1.1%)
    Labour: 31% (-1.2%)
    Conservative: 16% (-0.6%)
    Lib Dem: 14% (-2.2%)
    Others: 5 (+2.9%)

    Regional voting intention (2007 in brackets):
    SNP: 29% (-2%)
    Labour: 29% (-0.2%)
    Conservative: 16% (+2.1%)
    Lib Dem: 14% (+3.7%)
    Green: 6% (+2%)
    Others: 6% (-4.6%)

  23. Is their a Scottish Breakdown of the ICM poll for Westminster?

  24. Paul,

    ICM don’t do scotland they do “the North”.

    OldNat

    I’d be interested to see the exact question used in the YouGov Scottisjh poll as the greens are up two, but as i’ve always felt that YouGov do a good job of protecting their reputation in polls I wouldn’t expect to see any obvious distortion.

    Putting these figures in to Webster Sandwicks Scotland Votes site and you get;

    Labour 44 (-2), SNP 41 (-6), LibDem 18 (-2), Con 20 (+3), Grn 4 (+2) Ind 1 (+1) Others 0 (-).

    All in all a slight fall back for labour and the SNP which leads to gains for the smaller parties. Odd possible coalition options. to get the needed 65 votes you could have;

    Lab (44) + LibDem (18) + Grn (4) =66.
    SNP (41) + Tory (20) + Grn (4) =65.

    The first the far most likely and of course with Cameron in No 10 we could see;

    Lab (44) + SNP (41) = 85…. Pretty unlikely i’d admit.

    Right now amost two years out with a change of government on the cards in May I don’t think Scottish polls tell us anything much, although if “Others were going up i’d prefer it to be at Labours expense.

    Oh and Oldnat, there really is no need for your regular squabbles over things like the “English” constitution. there are plenty of positive arguments without exposing a chip on your shoulder.

    At the end of the day this is a UK site ( and a very good one), the vast majority of people her are English and overwhelmingly interested in UK politics.

    Some do have an interest in Scottish politics though mostly from the point of view of its effects on the UK result. I don’t think lecturing them does much for their impression of you, or Scots in general.

    Peter.

  25. Paul McLennan

    ICM lump Scotland with the North of England for their sub-sample.

  26. Peter

    If you put the YouGov poll from May 2007 into Weber Shandwick , they significantly overestimated the Green vote then 9% as against the actual 4%.

    As to last night – rebuke accepted (though in my own defence I was reacting to others, and did not initiate what I described as a “distracting debate”).

  27. Old nat,

    Maybe before your time here but Anthony covered the high Green score in that particular Yougov poll just before the 2007 holyrood election. As i recall a change in the wording was used to specifically mention the Greens and others by name and it boosted their score.

    Other YouGov polls that didn’t prompt by name were far closer to the eventual 4% figure.

    Peter.

  28. @Davey (10:34am)

    Perhaps they will see the light and support single transferable vote type system, which would marginalise parties like the BNP.

    I’m not so sure. Having done a quick look-up in Wikipedia, there seem to be several forms of STV. In the single-constituency version, it could work to the advantage of minor parties. e.g. in a constituency where you had to rank Con, Lab, Lib, Green and BNP in order of preference, a good number of second choices would go to the Greens and BNP as well as Liberals.

    Interesting. Anyway, I think we can be sure that whoever is in power the system will not be changed in any way that would favour minor parties, unless one of them was lucky enough to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.

  29. England will decide the election and as far as i can see labour will be wiped out, Scotland will vote snp and the BNP will win at least one seat in the yorkshire area .

  30. Absolutely Pete B… even if enough MPs from enough parties managed to agree that a change of system was in their interests (unlikely), there’d be years of “inquiry” into which was the most suitable system… even the supposed “threat” of the Brit Nats (severely overegged in my view) wouldn’t speed up that process.

    I think deep down the regime are resigned to the prospect of a handful of Brit Nat MPs being elected probably in about ten years from now, maybe sooner if the votes are sufficiently split in one or two hot spots.

    40-25-20 seems about right as a generalised national average, but that doesn’t really tell you a lot about the detail of the result. The next election is bound to deliver some surprises… should be the most watchable election night ever.
    The Tories have got plenty of time to stumble before the finishing line… they just don’t convince enough people… and the gaffes! We had one of them on the radio this morning actually agreeing with that rabid postman minister (with the strangely small hands) Alan whatever, about scientific advisers, whilst still managing to criticise labour for something non-specific; and the LibDems being just non-specific. An example of the lack of coherence in delivering an attack, which casts doubt on the solidity of their lead.

  31. @ Alec who wrote the following

    ‘First of all, you’re not entirely accurate on the first point. Many economic analysts are very nervous about Tory plans to cut the deficit too soon, although they almost unanimously accept it needs to be reduced, and most accept that Brown took broadly the correct steps once the crisis broke. By contrast, the Tory response was seen by many as confused, heavy footed and politically inspired. Osborn and Cameron didn’t cover themselves in glory in economic policy terms. Most would also agree that Brown did not do enough to restrict the government deficit (and individual debt) before the crisis however, so argue about the balance of what those who understand economics think, but please don’t be so glib.

    Regarding your second point about state education – as someone with a bog standard comprehensive education who went on to get two excellent degrees (if I say so myself) I find the statement somewhat offensive. The casual dismissal of 75% of UK schools, along with the personal derision of anyone who holds a contrary view to yours, may suggest an arrogance that isn’t very attractive. By all means disagree with other posters, but please don’t pretend only those who belong to a certain tribe have valid opinions – it’s not actually the way democracy works, and as we’ve all been talking about the Mother of Parliaments…..’

    Oh dear!

    Firstly, if this is how democracy works (and I do agree!!) what makes my opinion any less valid than yours?

    Secondly. Yes, we all know that there were views right across the spectrum regarding Labours response to the dire economic mess into which they had led us.

    Last week, however, we had the clearest signs yet that this response wasn’t working, thus making nonsense of claims that we were best placed to ride out the storm.

    Whatever your views on Conservative economic policy (and you are perfectly entitled to them) any balanced opinion would, at the very least, haven given equal weight to the very real failures of those who have been in charge for the last 12 years!!

    I’m delighted that our state education served you so well but go check some data that wasn’t produced by Ed Balls to see how far it has slipped in the last 12 years and why many in future will be less fortunate.

    In the meantime, why not give that pompous indignation a rest?

  32. right now october is nearly over hear is my second prediction for the next election in 2010

    CON 383 SEATS

    LAB 202 SEATS

    LD 35 SEATS

    OTH 30 SEATS

    CON MAJ 116

    VOTE SHERE

    CON 42.5 +9.3

    LAB 26.5 -9.6

    LD 17.8 -4.8

    OTH 13.2 +5.1

    CON LEAD +16%

    SWING FROM LAB TO CON 9.4%

    AT RISK LABOUR MAJ UPTO 18.8%

  33. @Neal Preshner – “what makes my opinion any less valid than yours?” Nothing, and that isn’t what I said. I was making the point that you dismissed the opinion of others you disagree with as being derived from poorly educated individuals or those who have been fooled by Labour spin. While I have my own opinions, I accept there are other views, based on a different reading of the facts, and I wouldn’t presume that your education is inferior to mine, or that you have been fooled by the Tories etc.

    In terms of the growth figures, it’s worth looking at the city response to this mornings manufacturing data (biggest jump in output for two years) and consumer confidence (continued recovery). It further suggests the official first estimates of Q3 GDP (based on only 40% hard data and 60% projection) may well be wrong. Most now expect a sharp upward revision to the GDP estimates, but it may still not be enough to bring an official end to the recession in Q3.

  34. @ silent hunter
    I am not a bit suprised that places such as Burnley are questioning what exactly Labours game is. These people are not Guardian readers, they do not spend their evenings over a good claret debateing the benefits of multicultralism. How Labour have kept the lid on this unlimited immigration for so long astounds me. Clearly the most abused area’s are on the turn.
    I personally detest the BNP, but I have much sympathy with my fellow English.

  35. @ STUART GREGORY
    Wicked, what a result, how much should I write the cheque for to guarantee it?

  36. @Alec
    In so far as I believe there are significant numbers who simply do not comprehend the dire economic figures being presented to them (many being well educated in other subjects) and are, therefore, more easily duped by Labour spin, I stand by my remarks.

    That was why I made reference to an earlier observation suggesting that, given the lack of impact the news that we are still in recession has had on this latest poll, perhaps all those with a good understanding of economics had already defected to the Tories.

    On the other hand, you appear to have taken this great leap in suggesting that I dismiss the opinions of all those who are less well educated than myself. This is simply nonsense.

    I believe our state education is heading for hell in a handcart whilst Balls claims that armfuls of qualifications being gained from dumbed down exams is proof that this is not the case.

    I see this as a national disgrace and NOT an excuse to dismiss those who are being deprived of a well rounded education.

  37. @ Craig

    “England will decide the election and as far as i can see labour will be wiped out, Scotland will vote snp and the BNP will win at least one seat in the yorkshire area .”

    On what polling do you base these assumptions?

  38. Alec:

    “In terms of the growth figures, it’s worth looking at the city response to this mornings manufacturing data (biggest jump in output for two years) and consumer confidence (continued recovery). It further suggests the official first estimates of Q3 GDP (based on only 40% hard data and 60% projection) may well be wrong. Most now expect a sharp upward revision to the GDP estimates, but it may still not be enough to bring an official end to the recession in Q3.”

    There may be an adjustment but these surveys, surveys I point out not actual data, will not affect it because they relate to October ie Q4.

  39. Stuart Gregory

    “right now october is nearly over hear is my second prediction for the next election in 2010

    CON 383 SEATS

    LAB 202 SEATS

    LD 35 SEATS

    OTH 30 SEATS

    CON MAJ 116

    VOTE SHERE

    CON 42.5 +9.3

    LAB 26.5 -9.6

    LD 17.8 -4.8

    OTH 13.2 +5.1

    CON LEAD +16%

    SWING FROM LAB TO CON 9.4%

    AT RISK LABOUR MAJ UPTO 18.8%”

    Your vote shares look reasonable but the LibDems will do far better than that in seat terms.

    Also your ‘at risk Labour maj upto 18.8%’ fails to understand that UNS is only an average – half of seats will have higher swing and half lower. A UNS of 9.4% would put Labour seats with majorities of upto 25% at risk possibly seats with majorities as high as 30%.

  40. Interesting watching Channel 4 this evening where the Indian presenter was talking about the genetic defects of Pakistanis. She went on to say what a wonderful country Brazil was because of all the mixed race people there but then said that white people had all the money and power. The BNP should sign her up immediately because it was the best advert for them i’ve seen.

  41. “I expect some narrowing between the two main parties and a drop in LD support as the election gets very near, as people focus on the harsh choices on the economy.”

    Never happened before, won’t happen now.

    The Lib Dems ALWAYS gain support during an election campaign as they get more exposure. Also, the economy is their major strength with Vince Cable the undisputed cock of the Northern Rock.

    The Conservatives are in the lead at the moment largely because they’re not Labour; when their record on expenses and their policies are scrutinised carefully, especially their grave economic errors on the recession, I expect them to lose support to poll just below 40%.

    Labour will probably consolidate their core vote and recover a little as people realise they weren’t the only party whose MPs were on the fiddle (or even the worst!).

    But there’s still all to play for; I suspect Michael Heseltine is much closer to the mark than some pundits on here because he’s a wise old head who’s seen it all before.

    My predictions:

    Conservative 38%
    Labour 28%
    Lib Dems 23%
    Others 11%

    The BNP will not gain a single MP, especially after Griffin’s pathetic performance on Question Time.

  42. I really do believe most people have already made up their minds that they do not want another 5 years of this totally discredited and Deceitful Labour Government.
    While still not totally happy with the Conservatives they are willing to give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt.
    My prediction for the 2010 General election which will almost certainly be in May alongside the Local elections.

    Con ~ 40

    Lab ~ 26

    LD ~ 20

    Others ~ 14

    It also looks like Like Labour will be almost wiped out of existance in large areas of England and be hammered in Wales.
    Scotland may very well not be too hard on Browns Labour Government as the Scots have virtually been running the UK Government for most of the past 12 years anyway!

    Next May can’t come quick enough to be rid of this worn out pathetic apology of a Government – Be gone!!

  43. “”””Next May can’t come quick enough to be rid of this worn out pathetic apology of a Government – Be gone!!””””

    Non-partisan>?

  44. “The BNP should sign her up immediately because it was the best advert for them i’ve seen.”

    Until Alan Johnson let the cat out of the bag on immigration.

  45. Pete B

    “Having done a quick look-up in Wikipedia, there seem to be several forms of STV. In the single-constituency version, it could work to the advantage of minor parties. e.g. in a constituency where you had to rank Con, Lab, Lib, Green and BNP in order of preference, a good number of second choices would go to the Greens and BNP as well as Liberals.”

    Actually, STV only works to the benefit of minor parties in large multi-member constituencies. In single-member STV (more properly called AV) it is vary rare for a candidate who did not come in top two in first preferences to be elected.

    For a party to win from only 25% in first preferences the other 75% would have to be widely spread, with lots of second preference transfers either falling by the wayside or the vast majority going to that party.

    I can’t see that helping any party who are not a “major player”.

  46. Jack Cornish–sorry, it’s simply through frustration that I blurt out my Politics. It affects a lot of people as we have to sit out another 6 months of this damned waste of space government – oops, sorry, done it again!

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