There is a new ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph and it doesn’t suggest any great damage for Labour from their leadership ructions this week. The topline figures from ICM’s previous poll for the Guardian in mid-December are CON 40%(nc), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 18%(nc). So while Labour are down one point, this is clearly within the margin of error. The poll was conducted on the 6th and 7th, so the vast majority of responses were likely to have been after the news of the Hoon-Hewitt plot had broken.

I’m always slightly wary of polls like this and the second YouGov one this week that are carried out immediately after an event, are they too soon to measure it properly. Nevertheless, the two polls since the coup have both shown a small drop in Labour support, but nothing to get excited about and, indeed, nothing that may not turn out to be just movements within the margin of error.

The Sunday Telegraph reports the poll as Week of bungled plots boosts Labour in poll, committing my pet hate of pretending more recent polls carried out by the same pollster using identical methodology don’t exist just because a different newspaper commissioned them. (I’m not sure a one point difference would qualify as a boost anyway!)

The poll also included a question on the Labour leadership (perhaps suggesting it didn’t going into the field until after the Hoon-Hewitt news had broken), which found 41% of people thought Labour would do better without Brown, 35% that they would get worse.

They also asked if people trusted Cameron or Brown more on the issues of Education, the NHS and the economy. Cameron lead on all three, by 12, 8 and 7 points respectively.


185 Responses to “Latest ICM poll shows little impact from Hoon-Hewitt”

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  1. Hardly surprising given the extreme weather at the moment. All it shows are deep divisions within the Labour ranks!

  2. I’m looking forward to the next Angus Reid poll. If that shows Labour doing better than previously – when they were at about 24% – it would be an interesting confirmation that there is a small movement back to the government.

  3. How does this poll show deep division in the Labour ranks, John Charlesworth,what a strange comment ? The poll seems to suggest that the wise voter takes very little interest in a ‘storm in a tea cup’.

  4. Well, I did say things would settle down to 40/30/18, but perhaps they are doing so earlier than expected. Next point of interest will be later this month when the economy comes out of recession. However, as this has been predicted well in advance, it may have little impact too.

    Perhaps I’m a little old fashioned, but I’m inclined to believe that movements will be driven by policy revelations, and the is a long way to go on this from both main parties.

  5. Anthony,

    Is there much difference in the ‘trust’ results if you ask people Labour or Conservative as opposed to Brown/Cameron?

  6. The 7 point Cameron lead is the sort of level you get in a Con v Lab version of the question, so not really there.

    On the NHS and education I think the last time ICM asked it using parties was back in October, so you can’t really tell if the differences are due to the question, or due to people changing their opinion. For what it’s worth though, that showed Labour one point ahead on the NHS.

  7. @LIN REES
    The “storm in a tea cup” has seen Darling and Mandelson now effectively following the Tory line on the economy. Other Labour supporters have been debating this on this site this very evening.
    To follow the idiotic Labour party line on this is just daft. Even Labour biggest supporters dont believe it.

  8. @ LIN REES

    “How does this poll show deep division in the Labour ranks, John Charlesworth,what a strange comment ? The poll seems to suggest that the wise voter takes very little interest in a ’storm in a tea cup’.”

    I think its too early to tell whether this is the case or not. Dont forget that the You GOV poll was after the coup event and from what I can gather the telegraph poll was carried out on the 6th before the coup. I may stand to be corrected but that Is what i understand to be the case.

    I would like to see more polls next week before making any judgement. Might I suggest you do the same.

  9. Telegraph angle is utterly ludicrous on every level. There is no Labour lift, there is a drop from other polls but the result is well within margin of error anyway. Best anyone could say is no change. I think the refusal of the Tory vote to drop below 40% is more interesting as it is that which sets the context for Labour proportions in voting patterns. I think the Tory poll could rise a bit over the next few weeks and it will be interesting to see.

  10. @Roland Haines

    That is not the case at all. Anyone with any sense at all realise that there has to be cut in public spending. The debate is when and how deep. in no way does the Labour policy direction imitate the Tories.

    As for the poll itself, I believe Labour HQ will be a slightly happier place than the Tory HQ, as a result of the poll.

  11. Really! Labour must be desperately deluded then!

  12. @ C.L.A.D

    Not sure any HQ will be happy. If you mean that the Labour HQ will be happier because the Brown coup has had little effect, I think its too early to tell.

  13. Mark R – the ICM poll was conducted on the 6th and 7th – so theoretically they could have made some phone calls on Wednesday morning before the story broke, but most of the fieldwork would have been afterwards (though of course, at least half would have been before people had seen the print media reaction the day afterwards).

  14. @ ANTHONY WELLS

    Thanks for that. I still think that it is too early to tell what effect the coup has had and I am holding off until I see more polls next week. Sound fair to you?

  15. Anthony can you explain how the Tory average is 41% when we have only seen one poll in the past 5 showing them above 40%? Thanks.

  16. @Mark R

    You are right to caution reading too much into recent polls wrt the failed coup. I said exactly the same on the thread on YouGov instant poll. That said, I still maintain that Labour HQ will be happier simply because of the media narrative. The Telegraph’s take on this poll being the case in point.

  17. @ C.L.A.D

    thanks for that clarification. i wonder if next week will be of anymore interest. Anymore, twists and turns to come or pretty much the same?

  18. CLAD – click on the MORE… underneath it, and all will be revealed.

    (In short though, two of the biggest factors in weighting the polls that go into it are how recent they are, and weighting down multiple polls from the same company. That means the vast majority of that figure is made up of the two most recent polls, as before that they are either pre-Xmas or multiple YouGov ones – the actual Tory figure is 40.6 too, so it’s rounded up)

  19. @ CLAD

    “Anyone with any sense at all realise that there has to be cut in public spending. ”

    So was Brown lacking any sense at all-or was he lacking the desire to explain what you see as so blindingly obvious?

    It’s an intriguing question isn’t it?

  20. @COLIN

    Do you seriously believe that Brown doesn’t realise that there has to be cuts in public spending? Come on now. This being the man that stuck to constricting Tory spending plans for the first 3 years, thereby essentially starving public services of vitally needed investment, just to prove to the City how serious Labour was about ‘controlled investment’.

  21. @ C.L.A.D

    “Do you seriously believe that Brown doesn’t realise that there has to be cuts in public spending?”

    Well -how can I put this CLAD?-it is difficult to answer your question unequivocally in a way which would be appropriate here.

    So perhaps I can leave you with a thought:-

    If he does realise , then why-only a week ago-did he tell Andrew Marr on BBC TV that public spending would continue to rise by 0.8 per cent a year and that tax rises – like the 50p top rate – will plug the deficit.
    He said: ‘Our deficit reduction plan was the first in the world. It is halving the deficit in four years. We are raising your taxes to do it. You will have to pay more in the top rate of tax to do it.’

  22. I don’t think anyone is going to want to prop up this government in a hung parliament which means that if they lose more than 23 seats they’ll be out of office. Labour would need to be about level with the Tories in the polls to have any chance of that.

  23. Brown is very proud of the fact that he is “right” – this is borne out in many a PMQ session.

    My main memory of his being right was the 10p tax fiasco.

    I suspect that he does always believe he is right, I suspect that he believes his being PM is genuinely good for Britain and that the tories are genuinely evil.

    I don’t believe him to be a dishonest man. But then again my mother genuinely believes she can play the piano. She cannot.

  24. @Colin
    “He said: ‘Our deficit reduction plan was the first in the world. It is halving the deficit in four years. We are raising your taxes to do it. You will have to pay more in the top rate of tax to do it.’”

    If Brown says that raising top rate tax to 50% will halve the £800 billion debt in four years he is either deluded or treating the electorate with complete contempt.

  25. @ PETE B

    Yes I know -I was trying to lead C.L.A. D to a certain conclusion without actually spelling it out.

  26. @ Pete B.

    ‘Our deficit reduction plan was the first in the world.’ Obviously untrue. Ireland, Greece, Spain (just to mention this time around).

    ‘We are raising your taxes to do it.’ You bet he is.

    ‘You will have to pay more in the top rate of tax to do it.’” and in every other rate of tax too. We have not forgotten doubling the 10% tax rate.

    In fairness Brown didn’t say a top rate of tax of 50% would halve the debt in four years. He just sounded as if that might be so in among the tractor statistics.

  27. If the Tories couldn’t make more headway after this week they would want 2 be very careful! that hung parliament is very very possible!

  28. @ PETE B

    I hate to disillusion you but no political party is proposing to halve the £800bn cumulative debt in four years.

    When they say “deficit” they mean the annual deficit-currently £180 bn pa or so.

    But even this is shrouded in doubt & flim flam.
    Darling says in the Times today that £54 bn pa will be saved. If that is by year four is uncertain-as is whether that sum will be a half of the deficit for 2014.

    There is also the problem of the “structural “element of the deficit-ie that bit which was not caused by the recession & will not therefore be corrected by the upturn. This is ( or should be!) the bit which debt reduction policy is aimed at.

    I just wish someone like IFS would provide a template for us all which all parties would have to complete with their figures. We would then know where we are headed & which option we prefer.
    At present it’s like trying to compare utility tarrifs, or pension policies-deliberate confusion.

  29. SEAN

    “If the Tories couldn’t make more headway after this week they would want 2 be very careful! that hung parliament is very very possible!”

    Of course there is a risk of a hung Parliament but your comment looks strange. You seem to ignore the fact that at the beginning of the week many commentators
    were suggesting the Tories had started the year badly. Also Labour’s Leadership problems seem to be mentioned a lot in tomorrow’s press so Labour could still suffer badly from this week’s events.

  30. I’m coming to doubt that divisions at the top makes a short-term impact on the polls. From what I know, division in parties has to become a chronic problem before it really eats into a party’s CORE vote. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are counterexamples to this.

    An interesting aside: Labourlist use the Telegraph’s “+1” interpretation, while Conservativehome goes for a “-1” interpretation. I wonder why?

  31. Anthony

    Can you please take a much firmer line with the obviously biased comments? Either deleting whole posts or removing statements such as “To follow the idiotic Labour party line…”

    These will only start to grow as we get nearer to the election. And as some people feel less and less able to moderate themselves.

    It would be an awful shame if this forum degenerated into the usual petty name calling and point scoring which spoils 99% of other political forums on the internet.

  32. Bill Patrick,
    ‘division in parties has to become a chronic problem before it really eats into a party’s CORE vote.’

    You have a really important point there.The ‘core’ dividers for Labour and for Conservatives presumably are those which take some time to heal. The closeness, in time, of the general election now means any ‘core’ division will impact on the election.

    It’s worth thinking what possible ‘core’ dividers there are for the different parties.

  33. I would think that Labour will be more relieved than the Tories with this result, although not necessarily happier. There is also, as many have pointed out, still time for more of an impact to emerge from Wednesday’s events, although I suspect the discussion of the details will pass many voters by. ‘Revolt didn’t happen’ is the big story, and few care who did what, when and why.
    I still feel there will be some edgy nerves in Tory ranks. Six months ago even people like Hague were publically saying they had won the election – now it is definately closer. While still on or around 40% they are entering the most difficult phase when they have to deliver concrete proposals – the NHS draft this week was extremely lame and much more like this and the gloss will certainly come off them. A couple of minor scandals, a mishap or two, and some luck for Brown on the economic numbers and it isn’t too hard to envisage the lead falling to 5 or 6%. Of course, events could take things the other way, but given the circumstances I still feel the most likely movement in the lead is downwards.

  34. Can anyone make sense out of the DTelegraph agenda? It will be interesting reading, when the usual media voting editorials are published at the beginning of the GE campaigns.

  35. I don’t think “divisions in parties” affects the core vote at all. The core vote is called the core vote because it always vote the way its partisan instincts tell it to. Splits influences floating voter. And as it happens I think its to late in the electoral cycle to do that very much.

  36. @David in France

    Couldn’t agree more. Let’s hope Anthony has the time to keep on top of it.

  37. @Davd in France

    I find the partisan rants quite funnny.

  38. I think the problem is that we all have our own versions of what is “true”. When you feel you are correcting an errant individual by telling them the (your) truth it never feels like partisanship!

    The problem is that asking people to discuss polling without referring to the policy and personality issues that lie behind is like asking them to discuss cooking without talking about ingredients.

    I find some of the assertions people make tempt me sorely to respond “politically”. Not as a tribal thing but because of an instinctive wish to correct what I (subjectively) see as erroneous.

    I think if people could avoid pejorative terms it would help, but even that can be hard sometimes.

  39. “Can anyone make sense out of the DTelegraph agenda?”

    I think it is anti-Labour and anti-Cameron. Actually I think it may be anti-everything invented since the 1950s.

    Is newspaper-baqshing considered partisan?

  40. It would be helpful if overly partisan comments were left aside
    Surely honest analysis – good or bad from your own personal preference – is what this forum is about

    It seems that little has changed since the recent events
    Labour are likely to lose but Tories have not ‘sealed the deal’

    Tories always do better than polls and Labour worse which is why I think a Tory government is still inevitable

  41. @Neil A

    Totally agree, although it is funny to see peeps that cannot be objective. My politics are obvious but I always try to see the truth.

  42. Paul “Tories always do better than polls and Labour worse ”

    That suggests there is still a shy tory effect. Would tories be shy at the moment?, being consistently in the lead for 3 years or so.

  43. Shopkeeper I feel that ‘Shy Tories’ do still exist – a gut feeling rather than a partisan comment

    I cannot recall Labour ever matching the opinion poll predictions in the actual vote in recent times

  44. Paul

    I’ve read Antony’s article on Shy tories and it seems that former tory voters are more likely to respond “don’t know”.

    I infer from the word “Shy” that former tory voters are likley to be embarrassed by their past voting record, which seem less likely to me now the tories are doing well (in relation to the previous 15 years).

    My gut feeling would be that tory voters (being older, on average) are more discreet generally when asked a question about anything, whether it be income, sex life or voting intention. It’s a generational thing.

  45. Interesting to read the comments. It’s meant to be about the polls remember people.

    I have to think this shows most people are fairly settled by now. It’ll be interesting to see the transition data as it comes in throughout the month.

    Anyhow, check out my polling blog :-)

  46. I agree with Ian S – the message now seems to be that most voters have made up their minds and only something really seismic likely to change them. Labour is at bedrock and those voters are already there despite Brown and the party’s disunity so fresh displays of weakness and in-fighting won’t shift them now. Ditto the Conservative share is holding up – those voters have already made up their minds that the Tories are a better option than Labour. Small shifts, where they occur, are likely to come from the Lib Dems and Others now.

    It looks as if the general election will see a small Conservative majority though obviously the spread of votes and tactical voting will influence how vote share translates into seats. A hung parliament remains a small possibility but so too does a bigger Conservative win than the uniform vote-share indicates.

  47. I think the whole Darling cuts thing has hardly played in the media, compared to what I expected. Maybe they are saving it up for a slow news day.

    I continue to believe that’s a strategy error; opinion on these boards is divided so it might be another great escape for Labour.

    Quite frankly, if Labour can get through a week like this & not crash in the polls, then anything seems possible!

  48. I think Darling’s comments that there wiould have to be major cuts in spending were Labour to win will prove to be more significant when it comes to Labour’s levels of support.

    Public sector workers up until now could seek refuge in Labour since Brown had conspicuously avoided any mention of cuts. This must have helped bolster their support. Now, with all three major parties offering cuts there is no significant advantage in supporting Labour.

    The coup and the revelations in Today’s Mail on Sunday may not have a dramatic instant effect but it will have a drip drip effect. How can voters seriously choose a man who is almost universally loathed by every person who has worked closely with him and whose every utterance shows his desperation to be in office without actually being in power.

    As for the Tories, you do have to wonder why they are not further ahead. What is it? Cameron is clearly liked by the public. Might it be that his colleagues just do not perform that well……. you only have to watch PMQs to see how pathetic most Tory backbenchers are……. thank God for the big clear out that’s coming although of course we will have to wait a bit longer so that Brown can enjoy his last few weeks as PM.

  49. @ Shopkeeperman

    “My gut feeling would be that tory voters (being older, on average) are more discreet generally when asked a question about anything, whether it be income, sex life or voting intention. It’s a generational thing.”

    Strange as I had heard in the news this week that a lot more younger people had come out in support of the Tories.

  50. @ ALEC

    ” A couple of minor scandals, a mishap or two, and some luck for Brown on the economic numbers and it isn’t too hard to envisage the lead falling to 5 or 6%. Of course, events could take things the other way, but given the circumstances I still feel the most likely movement in the lead is downwards”

    Whilst agree with a lot you have to say, I think it is more likely for things to go wrong for Mr Brown than Mr Cameron. Can you see any good economic news on the horizon for them?

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