The tables for ICM’s poll are now available here. Firstly the question on the couples’ tax allowance did indeed ask specifically if people would support or oppose a tax break for married couples with children, and found that 65% of people did with only 29% opposed, a far higher proportion of people than other polls suggest support a tax break for married couples per se.

Support amongst married couples with children – the people who might actually benefit from such a tax break – was predictably higher at 78%, but then again 61% of people who were not married or did not have children also supported it. It is very easy to overestimate the extent that people vote with their pocketbooks.

The questions on which social class people think the Conservative and Labour parties stand up revealed an interesting contrast in the way party supporters view their own party. Conservative supporters mostly see the Conservative party as standing up for everybody (57%), with a significant minority saying it stands up for the middle class (29%). Labour supporters however are far more evenly split – 39% see Labour as standing for everybody, but 37% see it as standing for the working classes and 20% see it as standing for the middle classes.

Equally striking is the contrast in how party supporters see the other side. Conservative supporters’ view of the Labour party is quite mixed, 34% see it as a party of the working classes, 22% a party for everyone, 18% a party for the middle classes, 12% a party for the upper classes. Labour party supporters view the Conservatives in far starker terms – 55% think they are a party for the upper classes, 22% the middle classes.

What it suggest to me is while class has greatly declined as an important factor in voting, and doesn’t seem to be a major factor in Conservative support (they tend to see their party as the party for everyone, and are rather unsure about the opposition) there is still a substantal chunk of the Labour vote that sees their party as the party of the workers, and the Conservatives as the party of the toffs.

Finally, a methodological note – ICM seem to have added what I think is a new factor into how they deal with likelihood to vote. Previously they just filtered by likelihood to vote, taking in only those who said they were 7/10 or more likely to vote. They are still doing that, but are also weighting them so that people who are 10/10 likely carry more weight than those who are 9/10 likely. They are also factoring in whether people voted last time, and weighting those people down by half (so someone who says they are 8/10 likely to vote and voted in 2005 gets a weight of 0.8. Someone who claims they are 9/10 likely to vote this time, but didn’t bother in 2005, gets a weight of 0.45


144 Responses to “More from the ICM/Guardian poll”

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  1. Well the support for children does not appear to be the last nail in the Conservative coffin some felt it should be and would be.
    Whereas the return to 1930s class warfare seems only to ring a bell in certain pockets.

  2. What about those people ineligible to vote last time?

  3. Roland – I think you mean “the support for married couples with young children who earn less than £50k” ? The tories themselves haven’t said they are interested in supporting children in the tax system have they?

    Where does the 1930’s class war figure in this latest poll and how is that relevant anyway?

  4. With the economic growth at just 0.1% Labour’s popularity has peaked and should return to the mid twenties soon.

  5. The 12% of Tory supporters who claim to think that Labour is a party for the upper class were presumably being ironic? Or trying to skew the poll? One wonders how seriously one can take any of their other replies.

  6. @ PhilipJW

    Rubbish! It may slip a little in weeks to come but return consistently due to headlines “UK out of recession”. I don’t see it personally

    The out of recession bit plays much better than the 0.1% bit IMO

  7. Then again, if the IMF’s pronouncements to-day are given any weight by the electorate, tthe Labour figures could well go up, Philip, and the Tories down.

    They’ve credited the fiscal stimulus with their upward forecast for growth for 2010, and again warned that it should not be curtailed too soon.

  8. @JOHN TT
    The whole point of all this is to support families and children, which I should have thought was obvious.
    The relevance of and reference to, class war once again is obvious. In case you had’nt heard Labour have tried without much success it seems, to ridecule the Conservatives as toffs.

  9. @ Rolannnnnd

    Problem is that a relatively insignificant proportion of poorer families would benefit form this Tory move. Just 11% of the children living in poverty would get anything out of it which is rubbish against the cost of such a programme.

    On anyother note: Has anyone every shown that what class you think you are has actually effected how you vote?

  10. @RichardW
    It is understandable that some view all politicians as being out for themselves and their ilk, and labour’s hardly got a cabinet full of ex-miners.

    @Phil, you seem to relentlessly predict nothing but good news for cons, bad for lab. If reality followed your hopes labour’d be negative support by now.

  11. “They’ve credited the fiscal stimulus with their upward forecast for growth for 2010, and again warned that it should not be curtailed too soon.”

    Does anyone know what the fiscal stimulus is now? I heard Lord Mandelson saying that the tories would end it.

    As a retailer I enjoyed the VAT cut, but what is that value of the fiscal stimulus for 2010? Is it still £20bn and if so, how is it made up?

  12. @Philip JW – “With the economic growth at just 0.1% Labour’s popularity has peaked and should return to the mid twenties soon”. There seemed general agreement on the previous thread that GDP percentages don’t really shift votes, although the headlines might (in either direction – lets wait and see). What you should bear in mind in my view is that the 0.1% figure is a retrospective – it has already happened, and as most of the impact of GDP movements on polls probably comes from how it actually affects real people’s position, the impact of this has already been felt. Confidence, and voters views of the next GDP accounting period(s) and how they will fare in real life will be much more important in affecting the polls. On this basis I don’t know how you can justify your belief in another Labour tumble, but please note I’m not saying you won’t be right – I just don’t know myself.

  13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/01/do_we_care_about_party_politic.html

    fascinating poll and article about how people (don’t) see themselves as members of parties

  14. @JACK CORNISH
    I dont want to go into some half baked argument about how case A would benefit but case B will not Jack. My point is entirely about the results of the poll. That is to say more people like it than dont like it, by a margin.
    I am not sure what point you are making about class, but once again I comment on the polls findings. And, nur nur nur nur nur silly old Eton, does’nt seem to be having the hoped for impact.

  15. @PHILLIP JW
    I dont know about Labour sliping to the mid 20s, but I agree with you that this “breakthrough” in GNP will be noted by many for what it is.

  16. Anthony

    “there is still a substantal chunk of the Labour vote that sees their party as the party of the workers, and the Conservatives as the party of the toffs”

    Hardly surprising when the two senior men are “Toffs”.

    So upper middle class/ upper class inheritors either of landed title or from a longstanding industrial-commercial family both of which provides wealth and connections that over 90% of the country would not recognise as a similar life experience to their own.

    But as the poll shows this stark difference between them and a good deal of their supporters/voters does not seem to matter and can be filed away (along with the idea of being a ‘party of everyone’ ) under the sociological concept of ‘false consciousness’.

  17. @ROB SHEFFIELD
    If that means ought like bastard I shall fump yer.

  18. Rob Sheffield,

    Most people who vote Conservative do so because it’s in their interests and/or they identify with the party’s outlook – not down to some form of false consciousness.

    And, the same would be true of Labour voters.

  19. @ Rob Sheffield – Labour’s working-class credentials aren’t very strong these days. Blair educated at Fettes, Harman of aristocratic lineage, Mandelson, the Millibands and various others all from priveleged backgrounds. And though not upper class, Brown isn’t salt-of-the-earth working-class either.

    I don’t really care whether someone’s background is privileged or not. It’s how they will serve the British public that matters. I suspect most people outside the Class War contingent feel much the same. To my mind, false consciousness is that assumption that someone’s socio-economic background trumps everything else.

  20. The class stuff does rather support the idea that “Tory Toff” campaigning is dog-whistle, core-vote material and won’t reach the bulk of voters that Labour needs to convince.

    When your party’s view of the world diverges significantly from the general public’s, that isn’t a good sign electorally.

    As for the effects of tax breaks for married couples with children only helping 11% of children living in poverty, that rather misses the point. Many of those children living in poverty do so in circumstances that some people (and certainly the Tory front bench) would consider to be “undesirable”. To simply dole out cash in equal portion to the parents of all poor children wouldn’t do anything to affect behaviour at all. Whether it is a legitimate aim of government to affect behaviour is of course a matter for debate.

    The counterpoint to the “11%” argument is that any married couples tax break would make precious little difference to the truly well off in any event. Those who would really benefit would be old-fashioned, working-class, one-income families with children.

  21. James Ludlow is right in that judgements of likely performance are much more important than whether parties belong to one class or another. However there is a potential weakness for Tories in that if they are seen as predominately representing one end of the social spectrum, in an era when spending cuts and tax rises will dominate rather than government largesse, voters views of how they will discharge their less pleasant responsibilities may be affected by the class question.

    Where the Tories do need to be careful is in maintaining an unblemished air of competance. I always feel this is more important for oppositions seeking power than governments trying to hold it, as oppositions have to overcome ‘the experience’ barrier. (Governments have the ‘our record’ barrier, but that’s another story). The Tories are making errors (the NI secret meeting is a potentially catastrophic misjudgement, but probably not one of the issues that affects polls) and they need to get everything running smoothly again if they are going to make certain of the result.

  22. @ JAMES LUDLOW
    “Brown isn’t salt-of-the-earth working-class either.”

    No indeed -he is Middle Class-always was-he told everyone a few days ago.

  23. Tories meeting UUP and DUP recently to discuss law and order and policing and cooperating in GE tells one how seriously the Tories take the polls and how desparately concerned they are about getting a good mandate. I just hope that the two PM’s stay on long enough in NI to mitigate any ill effects the meeting may have had on NI power sharing.

  24. @ JACK CORNISH

    “Just 11% of the children living in poverty would get anything out of it which is rubbish against the cost of such a programme.”

    Save the Children have just reported that between 2004 and 2008, ( pre recession!)an additional 260,000 children were pushed into severe poverty in the UK,This represented a proportional increase from 11 per cent to 13 per cent of all children,

    The study found that almost half the children in severe poverty were in single-parent families or families claiming job seeker’s allowance,

    The former group would presumably not be helped by a tax break for marriage-but I had understood that Tax Credits were ensuring that this group did not lose out. ???

    CSJ data suggests that if you are
    not brought up in a two-parent family you are:
    • 75% more likely to fail at school
    • 70% more likely to be a drug addict
    • 50% more likely to have an alcohol
    problem
    • 40% more likely to have serious debt
    problems
    • 35% more likely to experience
    unemployment/welfare dependency

    So the marriage tax break-insofar as it persuaded those single parent families of the benefits of two parent families would -apparently-be directly impacting child poverty.

    The marriage tax break though, is not just a means of channelling money to children -it is to support an institution which-according to the evidence-produces stable homes and better life outcomes for children.

    “Getting something out of it ” Jack is a somewhat broader & deeper concept than you appear to have in mind.

    Did I not post a link for you to a CSJ paper on the topic?

  25. @ Philip JW

    “With the economic growth at just 0.1% Labour’s popularity has peaked and should return to the mid twenties soon.”

    And, don’t forget Philip, at the current ‘speed’ we are leaving this recession behind us, it will only take us about 4 years to get back to where we were in 2008

  26. @james ludlow

    “I don’t really care whether someone’s background is privileged or not. It’s how they will serve the British public that matters.”

    As it happens I tend to agree with that statement- which is why I was more than happy to vote for Blair (erstwhile of the Scottish Eton) as opposed to Major alongside 13.5 million other people in 1997.

    But the ‘false consciousness’ argument is still one valid explanation of these voting patterns (as is the ‘Embourgeoisement’ thesis) stretching right back into political history and cultural types such as Alf Garnett (the reverse of the trot middle class poly lecturer type).

    Though I have found some of the predictable responses from the predictable Tories (in particular the ‘undercover’ ones) on here rather amusing !!

    @Colin

    Middle Class is not Toff by the way: upper middle class and upper class trust funds are though and I am know you were already aware of that.

    @Alec

    “Where the Tories do need to be careful is in maintaining an unblemished air of competence”

    This is what the debates and the day to day back-and-forth of the actual campaign will be about.

    The difference between a Tory majority of 20-30 and a hung Parliament will be how well the Tories past muster in terms of the heightened scrutiny and glare of sunlight of the final 21 days.

    This election is the Tories to win- Labour can’t win it. But it’s also the Tories to lose in terms of a hung parliament: at such a time in socio-political history and after 13 years of Blair-Brown, a hung parliament would be a crushing defeat for Cameron-Osborne. They will either ‘seal-the-deal’ or they won’t.

    Although I can imagine some bright sparks at CCO hoping for a Hung Parliament (and concomitant Con-LD pact) as they can then offload the blame for the post-election Obama ‘esque rapid slide into unpopularity on Clegg and Chancellor Cable.

    Fascinating.

  27. To my mind this gives the lie to the class war accusations. Only 22% of Labour voters consider the Tories to be the party of the middle class. Why does that show class antagonism is not a strong force? Let’s follow this through:

    a. If you’re still voting Labour, you hate the Tories. This is either pure undiluted hate, or it’s because you’re instinctively loyal to Labour, and you can’t be that loyal without hating the enemy.

    b. If you hate somebody, you’ll perceive them as being different. That means those 22% must either be working class or consider themselves to be.

    c. These days I seriously doubt that 22% of Labour voters are really working class. The further down the income scale and the more rural you are, the less likely you are to vote (and indeed to answer surveys). Most Party members, certainly will be fairly well-educated so that even those who aren’t from a reasonably prosperous background will have an easier time moving up the class ladder.

    d. But what about the 55% who think the Tories are toffs, I hear you cry? That’s easy to break down. Much of that is insult-slinging. Tories and Labour voters are tribes, there’s a lot of ritual hostility. Think the moronic muttering you get at PMQs. Let’s assume it’s equal to the number of Tory wits calling Labour upper-class, and lower that figure down to 43%.

    Then let’s take account of those who mean the parliamentary party. Whilst all major parties are led by some fairly socially privileged individuals, Cameron is a descendant of William IV and the Tories did have almost all the hereditary peers. So let’s cut the figure down to 35%.

    Then factor in all the middle class Labour members – and there are a lot of us. You can’t run a class war from the middle class. There aren’t enough of the upper class, and how you run a left-wing class war against the working class, I just don’t know. No Pol Pot jokes please.

    20% of Labour voters identify as middle class, assuming they think the government represents them and aren’t just voicing dislike of it. More probably do who just said that Labour represents everyone. Say 40%.

    And hey presto, there’s that 35% pretty much obliterated.

    Sure, Labour voters may hate the upper class. But there aren’t actually that many gents wearing a top hat and monocle these days. Most of them are really bad Labour campaigners, actually.

    That’s not class war. That’s residual animus towards a stereotype that disappeared somewhere around 1946.

  28. @COLIN
    I must thank you for that post as I have not got the patience to prepare such an excellent statement of fact myself. I feel very strongly about this subject and quickley become far to partisan with those who appear to me to reject the concept of it, because its Tory. There never, despite my asking, seems to be any notion about what a further 5 years of Labour would bring to this issue.

  29. @ Rob Sheffield

    Actually, I think Labour’s probably hoping that in the event of a hung parliament, the Lib Dems do go to the Tories. Because it would suddenly flip just about every northern or creative/progressive seat (Cambridge, Oxford, the ones in Bristol etc.) back into Labour’s hands.

    There’s always been an anti-Tory coalition since about 1993. The achievement of Blair was to create an anti-Labour one. But right now, urban Lib Dems still hate the Tories more, and that will increase by an order of magnitude once Cameron is PM. Clegg siding with the Tories kills the Lib Dem popularity based upon never having had power. The Lib Dem vote would halve within six weeks.

  30. ROB SHEFFIELD

    Thank you for that insight into the finer points of class distinction & historical materialism.
    What a fount of knowledge you are to be sure.

  31. @EDWARD CARLSSON BROWNE
    DC may have royal blood he also has rather more Jewish immigrant blood. So where is all this pontificating about class actually leading us?

  32. @Edward Carlsson Browne

    realpolitik: Clegg has to support the Tories because a minority administration will- in this climate of ‘anti-politician’ infect the LD’s as much as Labour and Tories. Imagine the uncertainty and chaos of a minority Cameron ‘administration’ especially when we are still coming out of recession and when major decisions need to be taken on public spending and taxes. Clegg can’t let himself be responsible for that though its a rock and a hard pace.

    The Tories- irrespective of the actual seats they get- will likely have a *significantly* larger total amount of votes then anyone else (all those impotent-electorally- votes piling up in southern and eastern england). That means a Lib-Lab pact (which some Tories use to frighten the children) is an absolute non starter.

    So Cameron-Clegg it will have to be if the Tories fail to seal-the-deal and don’t get a majority. Whatever the cost in urban areas though I would assume that such progressive LD’s (such as the 5% or so of the Labour vote that defected to them in 2005 due to the Iraq war etc) are likely to vote Labour in Lab-Con marginal’s (‘return to the fold’) as the Tory victory now is much more an issue than it was under Count Vlad in 2005. so there won’t be that much of a net loss

  33. @COLIN

    ROB SHEFFIELD

    !Thank you for that insight into the finer points of class distinction & historical materialism.
    What a fount of knowledge you are to be sure.!

    polite as always old boy !

  34. @ Rob Sheffield – I loathe the lazy use of the term “false consciousness”, not least because those using it invariably arrogantly believe that everyone else is some sort of patsy while they themselves are magically endowed with Real Consciousness. It’s a nonsense.

  35. @ Alec – “However there is a potential weakness for Tories in that if they are seen as predominately representing one end of the social spectrum,”

    Maybe but it’s equally a problem for Labour if they try pushing the Class War thing too hard, which is no doubt why Brown has been at pains lately to try to present Labour as the party of both the working and middle class. Class War is more of a minefield for Labour, IMO, because those who bang on about it tend to sound a lot like Dave Spart and nothing turns off mainstream voters quite as much as a ranting radical.

  36. @ Rob Sheffield – I loathe the lazy use of the term “false consciousness”, not least because those using it invariably arrogantly believe that everyone else is some sort of patsy while they themselves are magically endowed with Real Consciousness. It’s a nonsense.

    Its as valid as an explanator of these voting phenomena as is the competing ‘Embourgeoisement thesis’. I’ve not said which one I agree with by the way

    Unike yourself.

  37. [email protected] ludlow

    “Maybe but it’s equally a problem for Labour if they try pushing the Class War thing too hard,”

    You are out of date. They’ve changed their strategy- the ‘playing fields of Eton’ approach has been dropped.

    The reason class is in this thread is because ICM asked about it in their poll (given change in strategy rather mischievously actually) NOT because it’s part of the Labour electoral strategy !

  38. Well reading the thread I feel intellectually cowed. Time for a simple soul to interject.

    Alec as usual talks sense. Where “time for change” is an opinion held by large parts of the electorate (and the polls suggest this), the tories’ ability to maintain an air of reasonable competence is the key.

    There simply isn’t sufficient (obvious) difference between tory and Labour to judge on anything else, is there?

  39. Roland – “DC may have royal blood he also has rather more Jewish immigrant blood. ”

    ( I know it’s horribly off topic, but I like genealogy so humour me.) Does he? I thought his ancestry was largely Scottish on his father’s side and his mother’s side seems to come from Berkshire.

  40. Antony

    I heard that he was a direct descendant of Moses (seriously) which frankly trumps any heritage that anyone can claim, anywhere, ever.

  41. @ Rob Sheffield – “You are out of date. They’ve changed their strategy- the ‘playing fields of Eton’ approach has been dropped.”

    Has it? I guess someone forget to tell Harriet Harman because just a few days ago she was attacking the Tories using the language and arguments of class war.

  42. @ Shopkeeper Man

    “I heard that he was a direct descendant of Moses (seriously) which frankly trumps any heritage that anyone can claim, anywhere, ever.”

    Not so.

    Matthew Pinsent, according to “Who do you think you are” has lineage back to God.

  43. Colin

    “CSJ data suggests that if you are
    not brought up in a two-parent family you are:
    • 75% more likely to fail at school
    • 70% more likely to be a drug addict
    • 50% more likely to have an alcohol
    problem
    • 40% more likely to have serious debt
    problems
    • 35% more likely to experience
    unemployment/welfare dependency”

    You are committing the cardinal sin of confusing correlation and causality!

  44. Anthony

    ameron’s great-grandfather (on his father’s side) Arthur Francis Levita was Jewish.

  45. ‘SHOPKEEPER MAN

    I heard that he was a direct descendant of Moses (seriously) which frankly trumps any heritage that anyone can claim, anywhere, ever.’

    Boring (and illogical unless you are a fundamentalist American Christian – Mormon) literal bible believers would argue we are all descended from Adam and his rib.

    But they are nuts…

  46. Ah – curiousity sated, back on topic the rest of you :)

  47. After borrowing and pumping billions and billions of pounds into the economy a 0.1% growth is pathetic. What kind of return is that for a generation of debt?

    I think that when people come to vote most will ask themselves what has all this borrowing achieved, except cuts and higher taxes. And they will answer, virtually nothing.

    Also a third of the time this initial figure is revised down by 0.1% or more a month later. So the final figure could easily show no growth or even recession.

    Today’s revelations over the government’s and in particular Straw’s handling over the legality of the war Iraq is shocking. It will certainly be the last, well, straw for quite a lot of floating voters.

  48. Philip JW

    I agree that today’s Chilcot revelations may well be important. Probably depends on how Goldsmith responds.

    While people will forgive governments lots of things, being lied to isn’t one of them.

  49. I predict a minimum drop of two points for Labour and a one point rise for Con and the Lib Dems in response today’s new over the economy and Iraq.

  50. Additional to my previous post.

    While people suspect that all politicians lie to them, having it proved is quite another thing!

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