The full results of Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor are now up here. The voting intention figures were in the Mirror yesterday, but some of the more interesting results were instead published in the Observer today.

Firstly we have the economic optimism figures. As with YouGov in the Telegraph, these show an improvement since the announcement that Britain has formally exited recession. 44% of people expect the economy to get better over the next 12 months, 24% expect it to get worse for a net figure of +20.

I was also pleased to see MORI repeat their question on whether people like Brown and/or Labour, and whether they like Cameron and/or the Conservative party. This was last asked in summer 2008 when the Conservatives were enjoying a towering 20 point lead. Back then it showed Cameron was far more popular than the Conservatives (54% liked him, compared to 42% his party), but Brown was much less popular than Labour (29% liked him, 39% his party).

Now Gordon Brown’s likeability has increased to 35% (up 6), compared to Labour on 38% (down 1). Cameron’s likeability stands at 45% (down 9), his party 39% (down 3). Not surprisingly given the Conservative lead in the polls has gone from 20 points to 8, Brown is seen as more likeable and Cameron less so than in 2008. However, the shift really does seem to be in how the leaders are seen – how much people like the parties they lead has moved much less.

Despite that Cameron remains a plus for his party, with 6% more people liking him than his party, while Brown remains a drag on his, liked by 3% fewer than Labour are. In both cases though the gap between leader and party is much smaller.

113 Responses to “More from MORI’s monthly monitor”

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  1. Cameron’s +6% personal versus party popularity doesn’t really justify building a whole campaign around him. I expect a change in election strategy by the CONS.

    Perhaps we’ll get some electioneering based on CONS policies now. But will the voters like them?

  2. The more important point is the fact that Cameron’s rating has gone down by 9%, and Brown’s has gone up 6%. A 7.5% swing in Brown’s favour. The result of which we can see in the polls.

  3. Are there any polling results on George Osborne v Alistair Darling?

  4. Nobody is talking about the corrosive political shock on the street the day after the election in middle Britain….they simply wont understand that a Conservative Party with a 9% ‘win’ will not have a majority, when Labour in 2005 had a 4% ‘win’ and romped home!

  5. election observer
    “shock on the street”

    Some hopes. My guess is that it will be apathy as usual in England.

    With the main unionist Tweedles wanting to change as little as possible to retain their hegemony, many will not even notice.

  6. Anyone remember what the public reaction was post 1983 when the Lib/SDP were screwed over? I imagine a surprise hung parliament from a big Tory lead would be similar.

    For the record, I don’t remember.

  7. AW “the Conservative lead in the polls has gone from 20 points to 8”


    The question is, is there any further to go?

    It’s hard to see how Labour can close that gap much further, they are still, after all, dragged down by i. being in power for a long time and ii. the Brown factor.

    Personally, I can’t see Labour closing that gap to, say, 5 points. Where would those extra few points come from?


    “Personally, I can’t see Labour closing that gap to, say, 5 points. Where would those extra few points come from?”

    I’m not saying the points will come to LAB; but if they do, it’ll be employment & the economy.

  9. An interesting point about the AR poll. If I’ve read it correctly, those who are certain to vote are:
    CON 30, LAB 18 so 12 point delta.

    It’s only when you add don’t knows with a ‘leaning’ that CON goes 16 points ahead.

    I don’t think that 12 points is massively different to the 8/9/10 point leads shown by the other recent polls.

  10. Quincel

    I think mowst people were surprised Margaret Thatcher’s share of the vote was so low.It was a bit like the last Reichstag elections in 1933.

  11. @Amber Star

    I’m not saying the points will come to LAB; but if they do, it’ll be employment & the economy


    I’d agree with that. If they come, that is where they will come from. (And, perhaps, a continued rise in house prices leading to an increased ‘feel good’ factor especially in the middle classes).

    I just wonder whether there really are any more points for Labour to squeeze out from the electorate.

    I really cannot see them getting to within 5 points of the Conservatives just by virtue of the fact they have been in power for so long and the very negative image – especially in the British media – of Gordon Brown.

  12. “It was a bit like the last Reichstag elections in 1933.”

    Though whatever you think of Thatcher, the aftermath wasn’t as bad right?

  13. @ Wolf

    Was the vote percentage really so low? They lost 1.5 percentage points after a horrible 4 years of recession and unemployment exacerbated by a decision to swtich from Keynesianism to Monetarism; I’d count that as a great success, personally.

    @ Brownedov

    “With the main unionist Tweedles wanting to change as little as possible to retain their hegemony, many will not even notice.”

    Oh, save me. 20% of 10% of the UK has gone for romantic nationalism, and wants to sub-divide the UK. Fair enough. But the other 98% of us have far better things to do than oppress you.

  14. If growth had been 0.0% instead of 0.1% would it have counted as Britain formally exiting the recession or still being in it, or maybe a third category?

  15. ANDY-it would have been a 0% increase.

  16. The lead is narrowing because the Conservatives are appearing to be over-confident. Many do not like such complacent cockiness. Contrast this with Tony Blair, who, in 1997, remained very cautious right up to polling day.

  17. Richard Manns
    “20% of 10% of the UK has gone for romantic nationalism”

    The UK consists of 4 nations, and those wanting home rule in at least three of those nations are not confined to one “romantic” party. Was it the SSP or the Scottish Greens you were thinking of, perhaps?

    Until their last conference, even the LDs were committed to federalism.

    But do look at the polling evidence before asserting that 98% want an unreformed, undivided UK, preferably noting that all GB-wide polls are based essentially on English demographics.

  18. @ David in France
    “I just wonder whether there really are any more points for Labour to squeeze out from the electorate.”

    I think Labour may do slightly better in the election than the current polls suggest, as I think there are still a fair few natural Labour voters saying they’ll vote Lib Dem / minority party but will eventually vote Labour as per normal.

    Aside from that, Labour would probably need to look to the televised debates to try and pin down the Conservatives on areas where they are “policy light”. In my opinion here though there is a problem in that both parties are trying to grab the centre ground, so it’s tricky to expose your opponent as being on the right/left without proving yourself to be on the left/right at the same time.

    Should be interesting.

  19. Andy – and if the next figures show minus 0.8%, that won’t mean we’re back in recession, because it takes two consecutive quarters of negative growth for that

    0% isn’t negative either, so effectively counts as growth.

    Interesting to see Cameeron shifting his position on cuts – presumably as a result of the polls ratehr than genuinely being persuaded of what many of have been saying – cuts too steep too soon would be wrong.

  20. I’ve had a pet theory for a while now that we may get an election before the DMO starts having problems getting Uk debt away. QE has stopped (final confirmation feb 6th I think) so uk guilts are now ‘on their own’ so to speak and with no BOE buying them straight back from the market they may struggle. However this weekend’s poll moves put me in mind of a stratergy that Labour may employ to turn this negative to their advantage & at the same time allow them to cash in on the recent shift in the polls. The scenario they may play could read ‘Uk Soverign debt Markets suffer crisis [for the fore mentioned reasons plus the fact the Market hates the idea of a hung parliment more than a Tory win (or even a labour win for that matter)]. Brown then stands up statesman like & says he is going to forego his right to wait until May 6th & call a snap election in the national interest ie bringing stability to the markets buy settling the election uncertainty issue right away.’ 
    One thing I don’t know though are the rules on how quick a ‘quick election’ could be?? Feel free to help me out on this.

  21. Watching the various politicos on telly today I got the impression that the Tories really don’t have the debt repayment narrative nailed. Both Osborne and Cammo seemed to wilt under fire and with Mandy sniping from above, effectively, I think that the public will go for the softer option, or at least the most defined, and back Gordon to manage the country through crisis. In my opinion the Tories need to reassure the public that they have the ability to mend the economy without causing more damage, at the moment Labour look like a nurse to cling to.

  22. Nostra

    The definitive timetable seems to be the HoC Library research paper 09/44 of 13 May 2009, available in PDF form from

    17 working days seems to be the minimum, although obviously with HoL connivance the period could be cut.

    The same paper confirms (but pooh poohs the notion) that the latest date of the UK general election would be some time in June 2013 thanks to the provisions of the Meeting of Parliament Act 1694.

  23. Brown’s rise is nothing short of meteoric ! He should send a Thank-you letter to the Editor of The Sun !!

  24. Brownedov

    Thanks for that March it is then……!

  25. To Surbiton; no he should send a thank-you letter to the Editor of the BBC’s OneShow, for the best Labour Party Political Broadcast in British history.
    Actually, I don’t think even the BBC can save Brown. In my opinion, the Conservatives only need a 4% lead over Labour (let us say 39/35) to get an overall majority. I haven’t changed my opinion for several months. However, if the actual percentages are lower (let us say 35/31) then they will only be the largest party. Most political correspondents and commentators know no more about polling than they do about quantum mechanics which is why they stick to the nonsense that the Conservatives need a 10 % lead.

  26. Actually, Brown would gladly settle for a 39-35 split. I don’t think Labour can get 35% this time though.

    The Tories have a bad habit getting 30-35% of the vote in hundreds of seats. Bad electoral practice ! It’s called the wasted vote. On the other hand getting 10% of the vote in , say, Surbiton is actually quite smart.

    There are no prizes in finishing second ! The Tories’ specialse in that art.

  27. Cameron and Osborne may be vacillating on cuts because they realise that 250,000 public sector redundancies in relatively short order could impact on voters’ preferences in virtually every marginal constituency given that public sector and local authority workers live everywhere! The trouble is that such vacillation looks like weakness and that won’t do them any good at all.

  28. @MARCO…… The BBC is under threat from a licence fee cut if the Tories win. BBC interviewers have become aggressive to the point of rudeness when dealing with Tories but charming with Labour, the One show is fronted by a Labour supporting duo and so naturally they do what they can for Gordon.

  29. I think the one thing that’s missing here are some conservative polices. We’ve had weeks of blather but nothing concrete. I’m still not sure if the Conservative Party is conservative – and I speak as a supporter. Unless some pretty clear, conservative policies are announced soon a lot of wavering voters wont take the chance they might be voting for Blu-Labour and go UKIP.

  30. @john tt

    Interesting to see Cameeron shifting his position on cuts – presumably as a result of the polls ratehr than genuinely being persuaded of what many of have been saying – cuts too steep too soon would be wrong.


    I expected he would shift and I even said as much on here yesterday. He simple had to offer an alternative approach to the very risky strategy of making deep and immediate cuts before recovery is certain.

    I’m not surprised at the timing of this change of heart either. I know that the Conservatives had a real concern over their lead and see the economy as key to getting a working majority – or not.

    Fortunately for the Conservatives, this change of tack has been done in good time. Had they gone to the election without doing so, it could have been very damaging.

    Now they need to make sure Osborne understands the policy!

  31. The idea that the Conservatives would make immediate deep cuts in public spending was always hogwash; perpetrated by both sides I might add.

    The simple truth is that the mechanisms for cutting spending take quite a long time to operate. There was never any likelihood that significant reductions in public spending would be achieved in 2010-2011. The Tories thought there was a strong appetite for austerity (because that’s what the polls said) so they though there were votes in playing to that audience. It turns out (as usual) that the public want it both ways and are punishing the Tories for talking tough. Now Cameron is moderating the message to something more palatable.

    One Nil to Labour’s strategists then. But its not really about the facts of policy. We do need to cut public spending – everyone agrees on that. We will have to do it in a planned way – everyone knows that. The differences between the parties are really pretty nuanced, but they positioned themselves differently and Labour caught the public mood a little more closely.

    Lets see what happens next, and how the media and the polls respond to “The Return of Nice Dave”.

  32. Apropos of my BBC comment, I should have mentioned the balancing influence of Rupert Murdoch. He of course is an advocate of licence fee reduction.

  33. In my opinion, the erosion of the Tory lead is because although voters think it is time for a change, the weakness of the Tory message is allowing voters to drift away, as JohnRS says.

    I think the Tories should show some strong leadership and give a message something like “All the parties agree that cuts are necessary. We need to start early to get it over with quicker”, rather than always trying to soften the message to appeal to the so-called ‘middle ground’. Lady Thatcher never pulled her punches and the majority of the electorate loved it, though I admit she is still hated by some.

    Cameron must stop worrying about offending anyone if he wants to regain some momentum.

  34. I don’t think that DC is raiding the GE coffers yet to any extent as yet. What he appears to be doing is testing the water with policy strategies and retracting where necessary areas which seem contentious. When he and his team have an adequate appraisal of what the electorate will accept and not accept, I think then, there will be a major effort in pushing Tory ideas and policies forward. Until he has this information, he is definitely holding back dipping too deep in the Tory pocket. All this of course could be very dangerous, depending on his time scale and, when GB calls an election.

  35. @ Neil A

    I think “The Return of Nice Dave” has somewhat been overshadowed by his extreme comments concerning burglars losing ‘all human rights’ – I concede the actual policy is popular but that rhetoric is in deep contrast to his ‘hug a hoodie’ days – does he want to help misguided children or stab them for making a mistake?

  36. Cameron’s big risk right now is to appear to “Flip Flop” around on policies. And it can be put together into a narrative very easily… The Europe referendum policy being dropped, wavering about on feel good policies about marriage that disappear off the radar when they became unpopular, reversing the language about fast and deep cuts… It’ll all add up, and if Cameron makes any more policy blunders of the same ‘unsure of what he should do’ kind, he’s going to lose creditability.

    And that’s *before* we include the potential for a new narrative that Cameron and Osborn don’t get along.

  37. It doesn’t need Labour to add any votes at all for the Tory lead to go down to 4-5% in the run-up to the GE, simply that the Lib Dems and/or others rise by 3-4% at Tory expense.

    The risk to the Tories depends largely on the extent that their current standing still reflects a negative view of Labour, because once the election is called broadcasters will be legally obliged to recognise the existence of the LDs and others, all of whom are currently getting a fraction of the air time of Lab and Con.

    The growing realisation amongh electors that Cameron is not the only fruit will likely cost the Tories dear if he remains the main selling point, but with their policies still wobbling all over the shop what other direction can their election strategy take?

    Obviously, they’ll attack over and again the possibility of a parliament that denies any party an overall majority, by stressing their view that it would carry grave economic dangers. But I suspect they’ll screw that up too, by overplaying the gloomy prognostications emanating from the credit rating agencies and other international financial ‘experts’, in whom people now have no trust at all .

    And meanwhile the LDs and smaller parties will argue strongly that it’s been 60 yearsof overwheening single party power that has steadily driven the country’s economy into its current miserable condition, rather than coalition governments of the type found running a lot of the stronger economies.

    This is still shaping up to be a fascinating election.

  38. Burglary is a mistake?

    “Yeah guv, I was just passing this old lady’s house and I accidentally smashed a window and accidentally broke in and frightened her to death”

    Householders should be allowed to kill burglars. I can only assume that Ben is not a householder.

  39. PETEB

    “Yeah guv, I was just passing this old lady’s house and I accidentally smashed a window and accidentally broke in and frightened her to death”

    It would hardly matter what the old lady’s right of self-defence was if she had already been frightened to death.

    Please, Can we stick to how people’s perception of the policy could affect polling results instead of using emotive & irrational arguments to make the point?

  40. I earlier attempted to ask what impact the allegation -that angry Gordon Brown hit a senior adviser, pulling a secretary out of her chair and hurling foul-mouthed abuse at aides – will have on Brown’s ratings.

    Unfortunately my comments are still subject to moderation. It now seems that many of tomorrow’s papers have followed up this theme

    An interesting account is by Guido “Gordon Brown is a malevolent, deeply damaged and unpleasant human being. He is at the centre of a culture of political bullying that has been unhealthy for the Labour Party and the government. The loyalist cabal around him are unpleasant people who have no place in a healthy political culture, they are as secretive and malicious as they are vindictive and vicious.”

    I am beginning to think this story has legs and could have a major impact on the polls.

  41. Householder self-defence is another area where the pontifications are all politics. Ultimately the courts decide what is reasonable. The LibDems are the only party that have shown any moral backbone, by flying the flag of “wishy washy Liberalism” rather than jumping on the bandwagon.

    I don’t actually remember Cameron saying that burglars should “Lose all human rights”. It would be a pretty fatuous way to express it if he had. A more accurate description of what the Tories are trying to say would probably be “An otherwise law-abiding citizen should not go to prison because of an excessive emphasis on the human rights of criminals”. Not very catchy though.

  42. @ Neil A

    he said it on the politics show today, one arguement against said notion is “burglars who are aware that any break-in could result in their death are far more likely to come armed with knives or guns”.

    Cameron’s rhetoric may please the Daily Mail crowd but him stating human rights shouldn’t be universal is a silly one at best – he’s trying to be populist but being found out all the time, eg lying over rising violent crime. The polls are showing he is no longer the electoral advantage he once was.

  43. @Amber Star
    OK. To spell it out. I think that the vast majority of householders will be in favour of a policy to be harder of burglars (though of course it is not officially a policy). Therefore Cameron’s statement will be more likely to lead to an increase in Tory support in the polls than a decrease, in my opinion.

  44. Thanks Ben, found the quote with your help.

  45. It’s a mistake to assume the public are going to like the way a policy is expressed…

    The public may well support “people shouldn’t face prison for defending themselves against burglars” as a short question in a poll… But if you present it as “Burglars don’t deserve human rights” or “you should have the right to shoot trespassers” then support drops away pretty sharply.

    This is much the same as… well, every other “populist” policy the Conservatives have put up in recent times. On paper they look good, in polling they look good, but as soon as they come out as official Conservative Party Policy, the public baulks. It’s happened with the Marriage policy, it’s happened with the Fast and Deep Cuts policy, and I think it’s likely to happen with a ‘right to shoot trespassers’ policy.

  46. All the parties are flying policy kites at the moment, particularly regarding “cuts” and will keep doing so until the election is called and the manifestos are published.

    Until then, any attempt at scrutiny seems nigh on impossible. Can anyone, hand on heart, tell me what any of the three parties’ policy is with regards to public spending over the next five years? I have heard contradictory statements from them all and find it all very confusing. I consider myself to be reasonably politically aware – one of the 300 000 who, say, watch PMQs. I wonder what the other 39 million potential electors make of all the obfuscation.

  47. MORI’s “Brito-centric” habit of having a ludicrous region called the “North”, which includes Scotland, is becoming increasingly annoying, and making their polls of limited value.

    They asked an interesting question –

    “How important is it to you personally who wins the next General Election?”

    Importance, GB, Eng, North (including Scotland)
    Very, 40%, 42%, 38%
    Fairly, 30%, 30%, 28%
    Not very, 18%, 17%, 22%
    Not at all, 9%, 8%, 9%

    It seems likely that the 4% difference between all England and the North is attributable to the Scots. With our own Parliament, English domestic affairs will make no difference to us personally.

    It may well be that this question is actually revealing an increasing disconnect between Scottish and UK politics – which may well affect turnout here significantly – but we will never know unless pollsters stop grouping respondents inappropriately.

  48. @Shopkeeper Man

    The problem is that because the Conservative Campaign is so tightly focused on Cameron and Osborn, they’ve been doing the Kite Flying on potential policies themselves rather than hand it over to someone else off stage.

    But the problem is that when they say something, it becomes the de-facto Conservative Policy, not just a suggestion of potential policy. It’s too late now to try to reel back in “Fast and Deep Cuts”, that’s the message which has stuck with the public.

    This is the inherent danger of starting a political campaign when you don’t have a platform yet. And one that’s probably damaged them hugely.

  49. @Jay Blanc

    “It’s too late now to try to reel back in “Fast and Deep Cuts”, that’s the message which has stuck with the public.”

    I think you are right as- after the last three months so fixated on the swingeing cuts narrative- it would look shallow, incompetent and lightweight to row back now so starkly on their key approach to what will be the most important factor in the election.

    There is clearly a difference of opinion between Cameron and Osborne on this as there is between diehard paleo Thatcherite Conservative supporters and members on the one hand, and swing/ independent voters on the other.

    But – because of that difference between Cameron’s Tory base and the electorate at large (not convinced by the need for massive fast and deep cuts) it was actually the smart move. Cameron – on this evidence- has better political antennae than does Osborne.

    But I think it’s too late- the Tories should *never* have proposed the fast deep swingeing cuts option in the first place. It’s a loser.

  50. @ MIKE

    Re the Mail on Sunday story about Gordon Brown’s alleged tantrums, I think MOS & Guido are preaching to the converted.

    Most people will discount it & it won’t affect polling unless some meat gets put on the bones ie has any of the people involved filed charges or left their job & claimed contructive dismissal because of his behaviour?

    Personally, I found it interesting that Mail On Line buried the story of LAB’s poll gain but had the Brown story as a headline (it then went on to say it is gossip that might appear in a book at some time in the future).

    The Mail should handle this story with care – it could rebound on them like the Sun’s exploitation of Mrs Janes.

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