As promised there are two new polls tonight. YouGov for the Sunday Times have topline figures of CON 40%(+1), LAB 27%(-2), LDEM 18%(-1). The second poll is by ICM in the Sunday Telegraph; their topline figures are CON 40%(-2), LAB 29%(nc), LDEM 19%(nc).

So there are no major shifts in either poll, ICM continues the trend of a narrowing in the Conservative lead, while the move in YouGov is in the other direction (in fact, YouGov looks more like a reversion to the mean than anything, prior to their last poll they had shown Labour at 27-28% for four polls in a row).

While it is not statistically significant at all (a move from 39% to 40% from one poll to another really doesn’t mean anything), politically it’s significant that after several polls with the Tories sub-40% and in hung Parliament territory, that both polls have the Conservatives up to 40% again and with a lead that would translate into a majority. It doesn’t necessarily mean much, but it will work against a hung parliament narrative establishing itself.

Some interesting stuff in the other questions in both polls. YouGov asked some questions about whether the Conservatives were seen as the party of the rich, and about potential tax hikes and cuts. On the issue of the Conservative party image 52% agreed with the statement that the Conservatives are still the party of the rich, with 31% disagreeing. It was largely a partisan response though, 90% of Labour supporters thought so, only 14% of Conservative supporters.

On taxation, YouGov continues to find the public opting for public spending cuts over tax hikes (by 52% to 30%). If there are to be tax rises though, putting extra taxes on the very rich remains as popular as ever. Asked whether taxes should be spread evenly across the population, or concentrated on rich people, 66% go for the latter. YouGov also asked about the Conservative proposals to recognise marriage in the tax system, and found the public pretty evenly divided: 48% of repondents supported the idea, 43% disagreed.

ICM meanwhile asked about people’s belief in man made climate change. They found 52% of people thought that climate change was happening and that humans were largely responsible, 39% of people thought that it had not yet been proven that it was man-made, while 7% did not believe the world was warming at all.

This isn’t vastly different from the Populus poll on climate change taken in November, suggesting no vast change in opinion. However, the questions were probably asked in a different way and giving different options, so we cannot be sure. We really need a truly comparable question in order to see whether the recent leak of emails has shifted public opinion on climate change: a question on climate change asked exactly the same way as one before the leak.

151 Responses to “New ICM and YouGov polls”

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  1. “What proportion of the current crop of bankers went to Public School?”

    Why ask, because noboby likes bankers, so lets link the Tories with them.

    How many officers who have lead or indeed died in Iraq or Afghanistan went to Public School….

    I doubt it would be smart for Labour to try to link the Tories with them….


  2. Slightly off-topic (though I hope non-partisan). All parties (and the public) seem to be agreed that it would be unacceptable for large bonuses to be paid to bankers this year, in particular in banks bailed out by the taxpayers, and especially RBS, whose directors are threatening resignation if their proposed £1.5bn bonus pot is restricted.

    What I am puzzled about is the government’s reluctance to exert the muscle that their dominant stake in RBS gives them. They could at any time in the last year called a general meeting to replace the board with a clear majority of their own appointees and halfed (or more) the bonus pot. It’s hard to believe that this would have been received with anything less than delight on the part of the electorate.

    It would also have had the useful virtue of calling the banking industry’s bluff about the need for massive bonuses to retain key staff – if some dealers deserted RBS and the bank adopted a more prudent market position as a consequence this would have been a plus.

    So for both logical and electoral reasons they should have done something. No need for threats or new legislation to cap bonuses or introduce windfall taxes.

    So am I missing something obvious? Or is the treasury staffed by cowards?

  3. @ LESLIE

    ” It’s hard to believe that this would have been received with anything less than delight on the part of the electorate”

    …….and rejection by key RBS stafe who would walk away.

    It’s a predictable rock & a hard place.

    You can have a State Bank , run by the State, with social objectives-or you can have a thriving competitive private sector commercial bank.

    You can’t have both.

    The former will not return taxpayers’ investment. The latter just might….possibly….maybe.

    The answer is to increase Reserve levels for all Banks so there is a restricted Bonus “pool”

    And then of course we would become uncompetitive with New York.

    No doubt the new Francophile Anglophobe EU Commissioner that Brown let us in for will sort it all out.

  4. at the end of the conferance season i predicted that the tories majority at election time would be 70-100, it is now looking more likely from the data of the past two months that a conservative majority is still on the cards, after running the latest polling data the result of the next election could be

    CON 361 SEATS VOTE 40.6% +7.4
    LAB 222 SEATS VOTE 27.3% -8.8
    LD 41 SEATS VOTE 18.1% -4.5
    OTH 30 SEATS VOTE 14.0% +5.9

    so all in all it looks like the conservatives will win with a majority of 72 but with labour still on well over 100 seats. the current predicted swing is 8.05% lab to con and 5.9% lib dem to conservative.

    lib dems with a majoriy of less than 11.8% could see there seat go blu where the tories are second and labour less than 16.1% and the seat will go blue where tories are in second, what we have to remember is this is only based on a UNS and dose not take account of the swing in target areas, but i would say that i think it very unlikely that in the target seats with higher than the current swing any mp will be un-seated but some differances will come about, mainly in the midlands and some parts of the south west other than that marginal swing will likely be +1 or 2% and no more above the national GB swing.

  5. Leslie – equally off-topic, but most is partisan anyway, so nice to meet some wrriter who is not. The difficulty is the consequences for the credibility of The City, both in the eyes of the staff and their employers. A decision that makes The City look like a hostile place for Capitalism would cost The Jolly Old Electorate a lot of money.

    Capitalism is all about enabling stakeholders to take a proportion of the Capital as a dividend, or as a percentage of the Sum.

    It doesn’t square with Socialism (unless it allows the Taxpayer to be a stakeholder with no ,more power than an Ordinary Shareholder.)

    Darling might be popular if he hita the bankers in tyhe way you suggest, but only until the people realise how much money it will cost them.


  7. I can’t understand why none of the papers have started running stories on the Labour “core vote” stategy ? All the in depth pieces have been on the “hung parliament” story, which has llittle evidence to support it. I have to say despite all the comment here the polls ain’t moved a jot in the last six months, but I guess thats boring.

  8. Hi Jay

    You wouldnt be a Lib Dem clutching onto straws by any chance would you?

    My bet is that the Lib Dems will get wiped out south of the midlands. 20% or not. Why because not sure too many people think that this country needs any more liberalism. Cant say i am convinced we do.

  9. Peter-a nice point well made.

  10. Peter – “in the drug dens of Eton” would have been more difficult to dismiss as class-warfare than “on the playing fields…).

    Or maybe “on the jet home to or from the tax haven” would have notched a point or two in the polls?

    It’s all a bit petty, but I think ultimately will be forgotten once the TV debates start.

    Any news on the BBC Scotland Question re TV debates?

    ps Lots of common people go to public schools, and lots of class ones to to Comps

  11. “All parties (and the public) seem to be agreed that it would be unacceptable for large bonuses to be paid to bankers this year,”

    In think the barrow boy bankers should be strung up from the nearest lamp-posts. As rope I would use the cats cradle of regulation invented by Gordon Brown.

    But in fact Osborne has suggested that bonuses should be paid in shares, which on balance and on reflection is a fair compromise between 2 divergent views.
    ‘Just one more sensible policy brought to you by the makers of One Nation Conservatism.’

  12. On the subject of climate change, I am not particularly suprised by the polling results. What I think has been lacking is a real effort to bring the debate to the general public in a way that they (we) can understand. I am pretty smart, even if I do say so myself, and I understand the basic thesis of greenhouse gas causing warming, but I wouldn’t claim to understand even the basics of climate modelling science. I think someone like the BBC should have a “Climate Week” with a series of simple documentaries and perhaps a civilised debate programme to try and get the key ideas across. If the science is so convincing and overwhelming, it should eventuate penetrate into our consciousness and remove some of this doubt.

    Personally I hate the idea that I have to take for granted the scientific conclusions of a bunch of eggheads who don’t take the trouble to explain it to me in plain English. I think that feeling is at the root of the problem. A lot of us are getting that bristling at the back of the neck that comes from being patronised.

    The other question which is barely being examined at all (apart from a recent campaign to combat climate change by supplying condoms to the third world) is the issue of population growth. Carbon footprints are caused by people; ergo we can hardly reduce our overall footprint as a species whilst simultaneously doubling our numbers every hundred years or less. In the face of the seemingly unstoppable destruction of the planet that birth rates are hurtling us toward, it is hard for me to get motivated about using public transport or making sure my TV is not left on standby.

  13. @ NEIL A

    “The other question which is barely being examined at all the issue of population growth.”

    Its THE ISSUE Neil.

    But it will never be addressed.

    The Greens, and Social Liberals in particular won’t touch it. They will rabbit on about homo sapiens’ “consumption” , but not his breeding habits.

    Also it highlights comparative living standards-population falling in technologically advanced nations-rising amongst the rural & agrarian poor who need children to look after them in old age.

    Most untouchable of all it involves religious & cultural beliefs ( or oppressions if you see it that way).

    Any Poll on this subject will be like those on tax increases-Tax other people please-and stop them having so many children.

    It’s a poor outlook for us all in the end as you imply.

  14. Alec:

    “Why can’t we just sent local children to local schools, and dispense entirely with myth of parental choice?”

    The concept of “choice” is rather hard to grasp if you live on one of the 27 inhabited islands in this constituency.

    Was it just Conservative ministers that you thought would better people after spending some time in jail, or was it Labour ones as well?

  15. @TrevorsDen

    And if bonuses are paid in shares, in the case of RBS that’s £1.5bn worth of shares. That will mean that the government’s and any private investor’s stake would be diluted. That can’t be good for the share price. So it could be a double whammy.

  16. CLAD

    Cheeseparing the balance sheet with share options keeps cash for dividends, and hence yields therefore share prices up, but the proportion of the total business represented by one share declines marginally.

    It looks as if it isn’t real money but of course when the options are taken up, it is.

  17. @TONY FISHER –your dead right
    @James Ludlow–your dead wrong our current system is rotten and very undemocratic
    @Mark R— read your history books and past poling data again the lib dems historically have the highest incumbency factor so I think you will be way off the mark .Look at the recent local authority by elections data from Rallings and Thrasher and you are seeing a clear swing away from the Tories in the South West commented on at Conservative Home with some concern.
    @Mark R–Liberalism and liberalism are very different by the way just like Conservative and conservative !!

    I think the Lib Dem vote will top last election % and seats as once they get proportional media coverage their votes always goes up.Their recently announced media strategy of the Nick and Vince show (remember the two Davids?) will maximise this further

  18. When I was a kid (in the 1960s and 70s) I remember that Polls used to have a section for “don’t knows”. Why don’t they do that now? What’s happened to the “don’t knows”?

  19. @ CLAD

    “That will mean that the government’s and any private investor’s stake would be diluted. That can’t be good for the share price.”

    Cash bonuses reduce net worth & earnings, which in turn reduces share price when EPS multiple is applied.-so its as broad as it is long.

    The objective is to stop them getting their hands on it until it is clear beyond doubt that net worth has been enhanced.

    Hence the idea that they have to wait & see if share price actually rises.Osborne proposes new shares , with disposal embargoed for three years .

    He also floated today that as soon as taxable profits are there, they should be taxed-ie all the past losses from bad behaviour should not be offsettable for tax.

  20. @ Tony Fisher – it’s your original comment that’s pathetic, not my response. You sound exactly like those rockstar and Brit Art jokers who harumph about leaving the country if the government and/or taxation aren’t to their liking.
    James Ludlow

    I suggest you learn to read. At no point in my original post did I suggest my desire to leave the UK, nor did I infer it. I simply do not like the current electoral system in the UK, which perpetuates the status quo. I have always worked to get something better (even when I was a Conservative member) because I believe that no party should have absolute power without the support of an overall majority of voters.

    It doesn’t matter two hoots to me whether it’s Labour, Conservative or anyone else who gets elected on 35 to 40% of the vote; it just shouldn’t happen.

  21. @Mark R

    I’m a little confused by your post tho… Are you implying that they’ll be defeated in all the places we expect them to be defeated in, that the other parties already hold. In which case, what is your point exactly?

    Or despite maintaining their vote share, the Lib Dems are going to lose lots of their seats to the Conservatives? Is this the same narrative that says the Conservatives are going to win no-matter what happens to their lead because of ‘the marginals’?

    Do you have any figures or polling to back that up your stance, or would that be the same “wishful thinking” that puts the conservatives as “the choice of the nation” when most people are going to be voting for left or centre left.

    Paradoxically, the reason why the Conservatives need a huge lead to avoid hung parliament, is also the reason they have a slight voting disadvantage in getting seats, but it’s also the reason why they even have a chance at getting a large number of seats at all. This country is, over-all, substantially to the left of the Conservatives. The Conservative vote does well at all at getting seats only because the left-wing vote is split between Labour and Lib-Dem. Conservatives don’t want to comit to things like instant run-off-votes or proportional lists, because they know full well they’d be slaughtered. Everyone knows it’s the First Past The Post system that keeps the Conservative party as a major party when really the votes say we should have had a Lib/Lab coalition for the past few decades…

  22. @ Tony Fisher – your tone is likely to do your cause more harm than good. You posted that you did not “want to live in” a democracy where 40% could give a party a majority. I guess it was just spittle-flecked hyperbole on your part but if you post such comments don’t feign indignation when people respond to them in kind. Because this is a democracy where 40% can indeed give a party a majority and you stated that you don’t want to live in it. Ergo …

  23. I think Colin and a few others have made some really good points about the Toff debate.

    I would rather an MP start rich, than end up rich at my expense.

  24. What’s the betting that Osborne’s share/bonus policy will not rule out them being preference shares, even with a disposal embargo.

  25. James Ludlow:

    I don’t want to live in a democracy where 40% can have an overall majority, I want to remain in the UK and reform the UK electoral system so that can’t happen again.

    What is it about that that you just can’t seem to comprehend?

  26. @ Tony Fisher – I see you’ve added on an extra bit now, explaining yourself. I hope you are better at campaigning than you are at writing.

  27. @Colin – don’t get me wrong re social background of candidates – I don’t judge on that basis, but it makes me ask questions about what evidence I have as to how I think they will govern. People from narrow, potentially blinkered backgrounds (and I mean that in relation to any point on the social spectrum) have to satisfy me that they have sufficient experience and openess to overcome what I would term a sort of social disability before I vote for them. If I feel they would govern only for ‘their own kind’ I would be very suspicious. I apply this to left or right, upper or working, etc. On religion, for me again its a ‘watch’ factor. For some, it inspires them to do great things. Many dictators equally claim some godly inspiration. Its about understanding how someone thinks, as ultimately thats what we vote for.

    @Neil A & Colin – re population control, the Greens have a policy of reduced population in the UK (or at least they used to) but no clear idea as to how to achieve it. Your right though – it’s the elephant in the room, and about as big an issue as you can get. Its also one of the huge issues that democratic politics is almost useless at discussing. I would still suggest getting the bus though. Beaches are made of grains of sand.

  28. Eric – they still do! The topline figures are repercentaged to exclude the don’t knows and won’t votes to make them comparable to election results, but all the polling companies have a section for don’t know, and if you look at the figures on their websites they are published there (sometimes they are published in the newspapers too – certainly in the past YouGov polls in the Telegraph had the don’t know and won’t vote figures in the small print at the bottom of the table in the newspaper, I’m not sure if they still do it)

  29. James Ludlow:

    And I hope you’re as bad at campaigning as you are understanding.

  30. It’s annoying that the “don’t know” figures aren’t published well… It gives us extra information about how much future movement and tightening we can expect. A trend of softening or firming figures means much more if there’s a lot of “don’t knows” who might be drawn in with that trend on voting day.

    For instance, take those much lauded northern marginals. A substantial “don’t know” there can wipe out any apparent ‘edge’ over the national figures if the labour vote continues to firm up and the “don’t knows” who were former labour voters return to the fold.

  31. Example “Don’t Know” figures, from the last Guardian ICM poll…

    Total was 14% of the unadjusted figure. (Greater than the 12% who would vote for Lib Dems.) This is down slightly in the North, with 12% “Don’t Know”.

    From that, I’d say that there is the potential for at least 4-6% trend movement in the polls just from “Don’t Knows” making a decision. If this keeps moving in Labour’s direction, that’s bad news for the Conservatives.

  32. When you sum the totals of “Don’t Know” “Will not vote” and “Refused” they still don’t add up to those who don’t turn up to vote. My assumption has always been that most of the “Don’t Knows” are actually non voters, while even some of those who express a party preference are also non-voters.

    If that’s right, then omitting the “Don’t Knows” seems sensible.

  33. Re: climate change – the BBC has a GlobeScan poll (link on BBC News front page, listed under the Copenhagen main story), showing an increase in public concern in most of the 23 countries polled since a comparable GlobeScan poll conducted in 1989.

  34. As if by magic!

    Just found this useful page (with lots of good links) on the BBC website


    New TNS-BMRB poll for The Herald:

    TNS/BRNB (formerly System 3) fieldwork 25 November – 2 December 2009, 998 polled.
    Do you agree or disagree that the Scottish Government should negotiate a new settlement with the UK Government so that Scotland becomes an independent state:

    Agree: 31% (+2)
    Disagree: 46% (-11)
    Don’t Know: 23%

  36. I cannot find this poll in the Herald’s online edition, but have these 2 links:

  37. Oldnat – Don’t knows are much less likely to vote than people who give a voting intention, though some of them will. Looking at the last ComRes poll (they are the only company who normally gives Don’t know as a cross-break on their likelihood to vote question), 31% of don’t knows said they were 10/10 certain to vote, 49% said they were certain not to vote.

    Populus and ICM of course do factor in those don’t knows into their topline figures, based upon their past vote. Ipsos MORI, ComRes and AngusReid all use a squeeze question to try and force people who say don’t know to give an intention.

  38. I must admit to getting a bit puzzled about the hung parliament narrative. If the GE result gives (say)
    CONS 40%
    LAB 30%
    LD 20%
    Others 10%
    Surely that could not lead to a hung parliament? Am I wrong?
    If I am wrong, and some outcome like that did happen, then I would suggest that the days of FPTP are numbered whichever party formed the government.

  39. @JAY BLANC
    Can I just ask how you can say ‘… if this keeps moving in labours direction this is bad news for the Conservatives’

    If they are ‘Don’t knows’ they haven’t moved anywhere surely? what evidence do you have that this 6% is going to swing left?

  40. Colin/John TT

    Thanks for your responses to my posting regarding RBS bonuses. You both argued that attacking bonuses was a bad idea because of the impact on tax revenues/the position of the City. However, I was not actually arguing the case for restricting bonuses (although I do think they should as it happens) but the manner in so doing. I was taking as read that there was an all-party consensus that RBS should not pay large bonuses this year. My question was why is the government going about it in such a cack-handed way when they could simply control the Board and amend the bonus proposals from within. Introducing legislation for windfall taxes or whatever is going to emerge from the PBR this week is a sledgehammer to crack a nut when they could have stopped this 12 months ago.


  41. Just in brief follow-up to my last posting – the main reason I think that bonuses should be cut has nothing to do with moral outrage but simple logic that the money should be retained in the bank to boost its capital and to reduce the likelihood of further taxpayer support needed in future.

    I could also argue that there is little or no evidence to suggest that massive bonuses are needed to generate good performance, and indeed there are strong grounds for supposing that they distort priorities.


  42. @C.L.A.D
    Thank you, but I do not need psyco babble from you to tell me
    how the British middle orders think.

  43. Leslie –
    The point is that the shareholder should join the board if it were interested in doing more than exerting a little influence on commercial decisions. The advice from the board is clear – if they are prevented from including bonuses as a matter of course for rewarding successful employees, then the integrity of their business would suffer from a brain drain to rival companies.

    Overall, The City’s reputation as a good place to invest would suffer. “Controlling the board ” as you suggest would go against the principle that banks should have autonomy to run as commercial enterprises without political control.

    The “all party” consensus doesn’t include the directly affected party – the bank – but it does include people shouting from the sidelines who have the benefit of not having to take a risk, and will have the benefit of hindsight in suggesting Cable-like, that whatever happens was wrong (even if they were advocating it at the time)

    it’s fiendishly difficult to stay ahead of the game and produce tax outcomes that are fair to the tax-payer and the taxed.


    “How many officers who have lead or indeed died in Iraq or Afghanistan went to Public School…”

    You are right Peter, there is no point getting the vile ranting Tories associated with these people. Even though they are Tory almost to a man/woman. About 1/3rd are not public school, but after Sandhurst its nearly impossible to tell. Except perhaps some ultra posh Cavalry Regts, or some Guards. Its changed a bit since my day (Boer War, at least it feels like it sometimes.)

  45. “the money should be retained in the bank to boost its capital”

    Leslie, if the consequence of reducing the bonus pot by £1bn is that the capital of the bank suffers by £1bn or more as capital abhors political control and flies out, then who wins? More tax-friendly economies do(which is why a global solution would be ideal)

  46. @Leslie – my understanding is that the RBS board have stated they have a legal obligation to take decisions in the best interests of the company. If they believe this means paying large bonuses to attract/keep the best staff then they would (in their view) have no choice but to resign if the government blocks this. The prefered route that the government now appears to take is to levy a tax on bonus payments. this is more sensible, as it could be levied on all banks, not just the one’s with direct government ownership. There is a very strong argument that the entire banking system has been propped up by government, not just those with direct support, and the removal of competitors as part of the bail outs has enabled bigger profits for the remaining few, so a general industry wide tax is logical and morally reasonable.

    The more difficult question is whether this move would send bankers overseas and affect the wider ability of the banking sector to prosper. It’s difficult, but I have two thoughts here. If it is a windfall tax (ie time limited) there would presumably be less incentive to move abroad if it clearly defined that the arrangement will be for a short period for a specific purpose. Secondly, I wonder whether we shouldn’t just call their bluff. When you boil it down to the basics, the banks failed, and failed miserably. I see no evidence that massively rewarded staff performed well, and if they choose to leave these shores, we’ll be losing failures. I’m tempted to say let this happen, allow market forces to replace these people with the next generation, who may well earn less, but might perform better. As I said in an earlier post, I see little evidence that huge pay delivers huge performance, and I would be prepared to test the theory on the banks if need be.

  47. Alec – it would certainly shrink the financial sector (ironically, it’s generally thought to be large size of the sector that has made us suffer more from the crunch)

    Deferring bonuses for a year would take the heat out (a likely consequence of a one-year super-tax), and the most likely course.

    For general levels of pay to come down, htere would need to be an over-supply of talent. Training more high-flying bankers would produce that.

  48. And it’s not so much the flight of talent (a lot of people like it here!), as the flight of capital (not much upheaval to transfer funds to more trusted centres) that would cost us.

  49. Call their bluff.

    Right at the beginning a Northern Rock shareholder said it all.

    “You were paid as supermen, but you quite clearly aren’t”

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