The Green Party have just released an ICM poll of Brighton Pavilion that shows them leading the Conservatives by 8 points in the seat with Labour in third place.

Clearly the Greens have commissioned it for their own purposes, and one should always look carefully at polls commissioned by political parties – they aren’t releasing those figures out of the goodness of their hearts – but in this case it appears kosher.

The full figures, with changes from the notional figures at the last electon, are CON 27%(+4), LAB 25%(-13), LDEM 11%(-5), GRN 35%(+14).

I need to add two caveats – firstly the sample size was only 533. Rather counterintuitively, just because you are polling a much smaller population than a poll of the whole country, it makes virtually no difference to the sample size you need for a given margin of error, so the margin of error on the poll once you exclude don’t knows and won’t votes is going to be somewhere in the region of 5 percent.

Secondly, there is the question asked: “Labour, the Conservatives, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and other parties will fight a new election in 2010 in your area. If there were a general election tomorrow which party do you think you would vote for?” Normally pollsters do not prompt by minor parties in voting intention questions, while this doesn’t seem very fair, it’s what years of experience suggest gives the most accurate answer. However, here we have a rather unusual situation where a minor party are obviously at least in the running to win the seat given the last general election and their strength on the local council, what’s more local voters are reasonably likely to be aware of it. While including the Greens in the prompt will probably have boosted their support, it would have been perverse not to given the situation in Brighton Pavilon.


102 Responses to “ICM poll shows Greens leading in Brighton Pavilion”

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  1. I have for some time thought that the Greens are the favourites to win Brighton Pavilion; the constituency is like a British version of San Francisco (which has a Green City Council, as it happens) and almost every conceivable demographic is favourable to them here (very secular, loads of student and university workers, a big gay population etc.)

    So, a result along these lines wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  2. Come on Greens! God knows this country needs some new political blood! I suppose to make it fair they should have prompted all the other parties too (UKIP etc), but at least this shows the Greens in a strong position..

  3. Yeah, polling without the Greens here would have been weird, as it soon will be in many places. I don’t think a UKIP prompt would have shown more than 5% or so.

  4. “God knows this country needs some new political blood!”

    I agree Alasdair.
    A Green MP would be a good thing at Westminster.

  5. If this is their support in Brighton, I wonder what a poll of Norwich South would show for the Greens, this seat is probably one of the only 4-way marginals in the country. Could this also be an indication that people WILL vote minor parties at a GE, and if so, spoilers could come in to play in some seats.

    Interesting times…

  6. Sounds fair enough, but didn’t the Greens commission a survey shortly before the European elections showing themselves in a ridiculously good position also? I can’t remember which firm it was with, but they were projecting a 15% vote share vs the ?8% that they got?

  7. Stuart, there was indeed a Comres poll showing that. I think this is more credible.

  8. Labour -13% just like it will be all over England as i have been saying for months .They cannot win with scottish votes.

  9. I have assumed for months that the Greens would win Pavilion, especially since grabbing a council seat from the Tories. However, I am now not so sure. The Tory PPC was, to say the least, low profile but, on his standing down, has been replaced by a very energetic lady, Charlotte Vere. It will be interesting to see a Vere-Lucas head-to-head. The Greens may just be in for a shock.

  10. “However, here we have a rather unusual situation where a minor party… …what’s more local voters are reasonably likely to be aware of it.”

    Well, if they’re more likely to be aware of it, then why would they need prompting?

    I do also ask if the local population really is as politically aware as we assume; we are, after all, a load of Internet users who post on a political site or 2. Wasn’t there a poll where people thought Robin Cook was a Tory because Cook was “playing away” and the electorate thought that only Tories did that?

  11. Was the 533 asked at the Greens Christmas party?

  12. Looking good!

  13. “Well, if they’re more likely to be aware of it, then why would they need prompting?”

    Perhaps, but by that logic we shouldn’t prompt for any party. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to say the Greens are a major party in Brighton Pavilion.

  14. Good. At least that would be one seat less for this government. The more the merrier.

  15. Some bookies now showing Greens as favourites to win the constituency, though this isn’t necessarily too telling, it is notably that for them money is on the line so getting the predictions right is extra important.

  16. Excuse me for being an old cynic, but if I recall correctly several polls/pollsters tipped Greens to come a strong second in Norwich. In the event they disappointed considerably, trailing in fifth behind UKIP.

    Perhaps they will do better in Brighton, but I doubt they will win.

  17. Paul H-J –

    As far as I can remember there was only one constituency poll during the Norwich North by-election campaign. It was right at the start of the campaign, so can’t really be compared anyway, but for what it’s worth it showed the Greens in fourth place.

  18. Yes, but wouldn’t this poll have been taken in the immediate aftermath of Copenhagen? Isn’t that the equivalent of polling in the aftermath of conference for the main parties?

    I’d suggest they stand a good chance here nonetheless.

  19. Well, in summary, this is –

    1) a small sample
    2) commissioned by an interested party whose recent record in in polls vs. actual results has been quite poor
    3) using a question that prompted, which isn’t standard for polling
    4) straight after Copenhagen

    That said, I reckon that the anti-Tory vote may coalesce around the Greens, so I reckon it’s a two-horse Tory/Green race, and this poll doesn’t budge that view.

  20. @Paul H-J

    The recent by-election in Norwich was in Norwich North, the Greens aren’t particularly strong here (its the seat I live in!), the seat is split between the city (quite Labour-leaning) and the Northern suburbs (Tory)

    The Greens are MUCH stronger in Norwich South. They hold a lot of seats on the City and County councils for wards in that parliament seat, are very active around the university which is in the ward, and are very visible in the area.

    I can see all 4 parties thinking they can win it, and for that reason think a lower vote share might take Norwich South – there is no reason for the Greens not to sneak it and unseat Charles Clarke

  21. An aside on the Greens in Norwich – the election date could have a huge impact on the result. If it is during university term-time, they could pick up a large number of student votes (nearly all the students live in Norwich South). If it is outside of term time (near Easter, or early June) then the students will not be about, which in a close election, could hurt the Greens in Norwich

  22. This poll coud be interpreted in many ways (and indeed already has been on various sites), from bad for Cameron (Labour votes not going to him) to bad for Labour (swing is 8.5%, repeated across UK gives strong Tory majority). But personally I don’t think it tells us much about the national picture.

    Since 1997, the Tory vote here has been falling in every election (against national trend) the Labour vote has been falling dramatically (way more than national trend) and the Green vote has increased (no national trend).

    But it does suggest there is a good chance we will have our first Green MP in 2010.

  23. Merry Christmas all ! And a happy new year.

    Jay maybe best placed at answering this question.

    Take, uniform National swing: how many of those Tory gains are in Scotland ? Make realistic assumption.

    How many from Lib Dems ? We know there is a Velcro [ that’s exactly what I mean, difficult to get rid off ] variable in these seats .Now also take out Brighton and possibly, Norwich South.

    On a UNS basis, can Tories still form a majority ?

  24. This is the sort of seat the tories need to form a majority. They took the seat with 46 percent in 1992 and Labour had 38 percent and before that it was a very safe tory seat. A new poll shows Labour at 44 percent and tories 28 percent in the north. Tories need to do very well in southern england to have any chance to form a majority.

  25. The weighting looks slightly questionable to me. Rather than use past vote, they’ve weighted by profile. Perhaps this is the sort of weighting that the Greens felt would give them the best result?

  26. Has anyone asked the green candidate if she would support Gordon Brown in a hung parliament. Would she vote for Brown at the queen’s speech. If Cameron doesn’t get 323 seats Brown will stay on and try and pass the queen’s speech. This could be good news for labour because all Labour is trying to do is stop Cameron from voting down the queen’s speech. Stopping Cameron from getting a majority means greens winning would just as good as labour winning.

  27. Mark S

    The timing of the election is unlikely to make much difference. Many (if not the vast majority) will be registered to vote in both Brighton and their home constituency. With the easy option of postal voting nowadays, it’s easy to select which constituency to vote in (or actually to vote in both, since there is no cross-checking between constituencies!)

  28. Weighting by the profile of ALL Brighton Pavilion adults skews the result. We know that certain sections of the population are far more likely to vote than others, but that is not represented in this poll. Given that those who are less likely to vote are probably more of an anti-politics mindset, I would imagine that if they were forced to vote, they would be likely to vote for somebody other than the big three parties, and that the Greens would benefit heavily.

  29. @ Oldnat

    True, I remember being registered twice when I was at uni in 2001! (Only voted once though) I do think though that in this seat it could be something as small as this that decides it one way or another. It could be a matter of 2/300 votes between 2 or more parties.

    (Having said that, the Green machine in Norwich is very well oiled, I imagine that they will ‘remind’ people to vote postally if they are away on election day!)

  30. Mark S

    Must be quite exciting for England to have a genuine contest where a 4th party has a realistic chance of winning.

    Though the Greens don’t have any more chance of forming a UK Government than the SNP, the polling evidence does give the Greens a strong argument for a situation similar to whatever Alex Salmond negotiates in the leadership debates which are broadcast in England.

  31. @Oldnat

    We do have a couple of seats where 4th parties have won in England! (Admittedly one is an independent!)

    Its a tough one for the debates though. Even though they have a decent chance in Brighton and Norwich, not sure how big their share will be across England – certainly nowhere near the share the SNP get in Scotland.

    For the debates broadcast in England, there does need to be a cut-off, if they let the Greens on, they need to let UKIP, and prob BNP on too. Should Respect go on (they have an MP), what about the Kidderminster independent. Cornish Nationalists?

    I think its far more clear cut for Scotland and Wales, SNP and PC need to be allowed into debates in those countries. I guess issues arise there though if the 3 main parties are asked questions on UK issues in debates where no SNP/PC are present. Its a tricky one…

  32. I think we can reasonably say that there are only 3 parties that are both GB wide and significant in Westminster. I’m not sure the Greens even ran a full set of candidates at the last General Election.

  33. @ James

    To be honest i wouldn’t consider this the sort fo seat where the Tories have to win. There are very local circumstances with the strong presence of the Green party and i would imagine that the demographics have chnaged rather a lot since 1992 Remember we are getting on twenty years since that election. Maybe someone local could help me out on this one but iw oudl iamgine in that time that Brighton has changed somewhat with the expansion of the university, an increased LGBT population and its status as “London by the Sea”. All groups which aren’t exactly the Tories core vote.
    As i say some local flavour and opinions would be helpful on this one.

  34. In my opinion, this poll can’t really tell us which party is likely to win Brighton Pavillion – the error margin is just too high. However, it does seem pretty clear that Labour have lost the seat.

    Looking at the Labour and Lib Dem votes, it could be possible that either party (or even both) might pull out of the race and endorse the Greens – I know the Lib Dems have done this before in other seats where they’ve little chance of winning and there’s a strong “other” party candidate.

  35. @James – “A new poll shows Labour at 44 percent and tories 28 percent in the north. ”

    Any chance you could give us the details? I haven’t seen any new polls, but I might have missed something.

  36. Gooey Blob – it was past vote weighted as ICM normally do.

    Alec – it isn’t a new poll, it’s just the northern cross break in the last ICM poll, with a sample size of 161, so of no real use. The FT have written it up today as though it is some great finding.

  37. Just goes to show empirically what I have been banging on about on here recently: that the ‘minor parties’ will be making a large- and as yet unfathomable- impact on the next general election in myriads of ways all over the UK.

    Include in that- as a reminder (painful for some on here)- the impact of UKIP on the Tory vote all across southern and eastern English rural and suburban constituencies. Plus Greens will be stripping votes off Labour in more than just Brighton if you look at the number of constituencies with similar characteristics (at the least at ward level).

    Oh yes- it’s going to be absolutely fascinating.

  38. @Rob Sheffield

    Totally agree with you – its so hard to predict based on things like uniform swings etc due to the minor party impact in different seats. Greens here and in Norwich, maybe BNP in Barking, UKIP as you mention and so on. I would not be surprised to see a few ‘odd’ results where parties benefit due to this spoiler effect. In a tight election, this could be crucial – if UKIP split the Tory vote in even 5 seats, it might prevent a majority.

    As I said above…interesting times

  39. Rob Sheffield & Mark S

    Anyone think it’s just coincidence that Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedledumber choose this election to have “leadership debates” to focus attention unfairly on themselves?

    It’s reminiscent of the joint attempt by Republicans and Democrats in Asheville NC to ban candidates for the City Council not nominated by these parties.

  40. @Oldnat

    I just think they all reckon they are going to be our version of Obama so want to be all over the media as much as they can…

  41. @oldnat

    I think- if I get you right- you are correct in that one of the main rationales behind these debates is to drown out the ‘minor’ and regional parties.

    Especially so with Cameron.

    Conventional wisdom (until this campaign) dictated that it is never in the interest of those leading in the polls to have a debate: why Major tried (and failed) to have one in 1997 and why Brown is (actually quite desperate) to have a series of debates this time.

    Cameron knows that voter-support is very very weak on his right flank, specifically on the European betrayal issue.

  42. Interesting poll. I’ve just finished some work on transition votes on my blog. It shows the Conservatives ahead by 11 at 38/27/21, but a UNS on this leaves them short by 1. As Brighton Pavilion would be a CON gain that would leave them short by two.

    Yes, I’m plugging my blog again :)

  43. Rob Sheffield

    Yes that was my point. I don’t know about English law, and how the concept of “fairness” works there. In Scots Law, however, judges are required to include the ECHR as a fundamental part of their judgements.

    Since Scots judges are only concerned with what happens in Scotland, the interpretation of “fair and balanced coverage” would be different here. Of course, Salmond is actually ensuring that he can negotiate coverage within Scotland that is “fair and balanced” here, but I would have thought that an English and Welsh party like the Greens could have leveraged something from whatever he achieves, within the constraints of English law. Clearly massive coverage in Brighton (and perhaps Norwich) that didn’t include the Greens would be unfair.

  44. Rob Sheffield

    I meant to add that it may actually be more difficult for a UK party like UKIP (which crosses legal jurisdictions) to make a claim ofunfairness.

  45. Alec

    The financial times yesterday was hyping the poll saying Labour had regained the lead in the north.

    It comes from ICM’s mid december poll. The same poll in september had tories 32 to labour 28 in the north and now had it labour 44 to tories 28.

    I just saw though that some people are attacking the poll because it came from part of their bigger poll and only had something like 165 respondents.

  46. James

    What I find interesting is not that the dead tree media misuse opinion poll – that’s very common. What is interesting is that the FT (of all papers) ran with a story that apparently puffs Labour’s chances.

    I am a total cynic :-) , but I suspect that this may be part of a Tory strategy to use such polling data to disguise the overwhelming lead that they have in England. They may well remember the complacency and triumphalism of Kinnock.

  47. Analysis of Brighton Pavilion shouldn’t be taken alone to draw any wider conclusions.

    I’d suggest adding together the results with numbers from Buckingham and Burnley to gain a balanced comparison, though I don’t think any conclusions from that will be what’s be put in any election literature.

  48. @james – thanks. In that case it’s not a ‘new’ poll, and I would argue it’s not a poll at all, but rather a small regional sample that Anthony regularly cautions us to be very careful in interpreting as the sample size is too prone to errors.

  49. While only a single constituency, this poll is interesting in that as with the Wyre Valley constituency in 97 and 2001 it highlights a degree of fracturing of the anti government vote. The LDs have ensured we are in three party politics now, and in select local areas four or five party politics, and this makes both national policy making harder as well as seat predictions. The Tories really should have Brighton and seats like it as a banker in these times, but life is more complicated now.
    Cameron seems to recognise this, but I think he has make a mistake with his Christmas message. By claiming to be the same as the LDs he has demonstrated his concern at the GE outcome as well as effectively giving people an excuse to vote LD where it matters. If James is right, and Labour have recovered in the north as we know they have in Scotland, once the LDs start to fight off the Tories in regions where they are strongest the position for cameron deteriorates. He’s fighting two separate wars, and thats going to be difficult.

  50. @ ALEC
    “By claiming to be the same as the LDs ”

    I really don’t think that’s a correct reading Alec-this is what he actually says:-

    “Let’s be honest that whether you’re Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, you’re motivated by pretty much the same progressive aims: a country that is safer, fairer, greener and where opportunity is more equal. It’s how to achieve these aims that we disagree about – and indeed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats there is a lot less disagreement than there used to be. ”

    The whole thrust seems to me to be along the lines of “shared purpose” in contrast to ” manufactured dividing lines”. He may be trying to pre-empt-and differentiate from the line which seems apparent in Brown’s NY statement.-this is an extract:-

    ” a decade of austerity and unfairness where the majority lose out while the privileged few protect themselves”

    Brown (& Balls) seem to have chosen their battleground & Cameron has no option but to take them on upon it.
    We will hear much much more of this in the coming months.

    Re LIbDEms, in an interesting article on Turnout effect on pb, the author says this :-

    “No wonder Cameron is love bombing the LibDems – every vote they get eats into Labour alone and increases his chances of getting a majority”

    nice to see you posting again Alec. Hope you had a good Christmas.

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