There is a ComRes poll out tonight. The full details are embargoed until ten o’clock, but Andrew Grice has already posted that the Conservative lead is down to seven points, from points in ComRes’s previous poll a week and a half ago.

I’ll update at ten, but certainly this poll appears to be echoing the trend we’ve seen in all the other polls since the country officially exited recession on Tuesday. So far Ipsos MORI, YouGov, BPIX and ComRes have all shown the Tory lead shrinking and heading into hung Parliament territory.

I think that Populus’s monthly poll may also have been conducted over the weekend – if it was, we should get that tonight or tomorrow as well.

UPDATE: The full figures are CON 38%(nc), LAB 31%(+2), LDEM 19%(nc), so the narrowing of the lead is down to Labour increasing their support – like YouGov, BPIX and MORI, ComRes have Labour up above 30% and in the case of ComRes it is the first time for almost exactly a year.

37% of people agreed that Labour can take credit for getting Britain out of recession (a minority – 59% disagreed – but obviously 37% is more people than actually support Labour, so is probably not a bad finding). The other additional questions aren’t particularly enlightening. 40% said they trusted Brown more than Cameron to help the economy to recover (52% disagreed, but obviously we can’t automatically stick them in the Cameron column as they may be people who trust them both, or trust neither of them). The same applies to the 24% of people who believe the recession would have ended earlier if the Tories had been in power – the 69% of people who disagreed can’t be taken to be people who think the Tories would have done worse, some will think the two parties would have done equally well or badly.

Finally 82% said they agreed that Cameron should be clearer over what he would do about the economy. The Indy have put this as a subheading on their front page, but frankly it’s a fairly pointless question. A good sign of a decent question is whether anyone can really agree with the opposite – and how many normal people would say “I think David Cameron should be much vaguer and less clear about his plans for the economy”?


167 Responses to “ComRes show Tory lead down to 7 points”

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  1. Anthony Wells

    Of course they are nonsense. But so is the idea of sampling from two different political systems in the same poll.

    As I’ve said before here, your entire industry is based on the premise that you can accurately represent the chosen population via your sampling techniques.

    Clearly (and I know you say it’s all the fault of the clients who ask your industry to do the impossible) there is little more validity for including Scotland in your samples than NI.

    Why doesn’t your industry point out top your clients that measuring one population at a time is the more rational approach?

  2. @Simon Ellson – “Yes the Tories have had a bad January and certainly need to pick their game up. But this is the Phoney, Phoney War”.

    It is, but we are now at the point where the terms of the debate begin to crystalise in people’s minds. The last thing the Tories wanted was to have to fight a highly defensive campaign – oppositions want to fight on the government’s record and try to avoid as much as possible detailed specifics of their own policies, especially in the circumstances we are in at present. Unfortunately they have been decidedly hesitant in policy presentation terms and have in effect called open season for a much more forensic examination of themselves with a consequent easing of the pressure on Labour. I read online today people describing a Tory U turn on their U turn over spending cuts – a little unfair, but Cameron got them into the mess. ‘Are they good enough’ will be the new media question, and as soon as you have to ask the question it’s bad news.

    General comments; Improving for Labour and possibly a much more interesting election than many expected. Very positive news today from the manufacturing sector with a surge in orders and for the first time employment prospects turning positive. Lots of midlands marginals with strong manufacturing sectors. The January debt figures will be very important, and if they continue to run ahead of budget darling will be able to present the Budget as an improving picture. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bags some significant spending cuts and tries to further outflank Osborne. Brown is running out of road, but things are just beginning to happen for him.

  3. Out of interest Anthony, what polling do we need (if the Lib Dems don’t shift from 18-20) for the hung parliament to shift from Tory largest to Labour largest?

  4. @Quincel

    That is the question.
    Brown and labour had a lot of good publicity lately. Unemplyment figures, recession news. manufacturing news today. Afghan conference was big, Brown long NI stay looked good as well. Tory NI foray was disturbing. Brown looks more like a PM in control.

  5. Is anyone following what is happening to undecideds? could it be that Tory vote is holding at an absolute figure, but former Labour, who were don’t know, are returning to the fold? I certainly get more people saying Dont Know but not Tory, than this time last year, when canvassing

    —————————

    At no UK General Election since 1945 has the combined Liberal and Labour vote (if you prefer, the centre-left vote) been less than 50%.

    When the polls were showing a ‘centre-left vote’ in the low 40’s – last summer, for instance – that was quite a shock.

    That combined ‘centre left’ vote is now approaching 50% again.

    So I think what we are seeing is a return from ‘Other’ and ‘Dont know’ to ‘Labour’. And not (or not yet) a direct swing from Conservative to Labour.

  6. I’m beginning to think that LAB+LD can take this away from the CON+UKIP.

    69% don’t think the Tories would have got the UK out of recession any sooner. That’s a good result for Labour because perception of past results will be used as a guide to likely future performance.

  7. It really has got more interesting.

    Labour is to put a vote to Parliament next week on voting reform. If passed, and if there’s enough time, it’ll bind the next government to a referendum on AV after the election.

    Brown will make a speech about it tomorrow a.m.

    Clever Labour – putting the Tories on the back foot.

    How will that play in the polls?

  8. See page 16 of the above pdf file. Conservative shares are as follows (Labour in brackets):

    South East – 40% (26%)

    Midlands – 45% (29%)

    North England – 36% (35%)

    South West and Wales – 37% (29%)

    The Conservatives ahead in all regions, massively in those with the most seats. What do the Cameron haters want from David C?

    Scotland:

    Labour 50 percent

    SNP 18 percent

    Libdem 19 percent

    Con 9 percent

    A poll a few weeks ago of 100 england marginals projected a conservative majority of 38 when at the time overall polls were projecting a hung parliament.

    Conservatives are still doing good in the marginals they need to do good in.

    This election will discredit the swingometer.

    I really believe tories could win by 5 percent and still have a majority or maybe even with by less and still have a majority because they are doing well in the marginals.

    Only problem with these national polls are they create momentum but on the whole Brown can run up huge numbers in safe labour seats in england and run up big numbers in scotland but it won’t do him much good.

  9. @David in France
    “At no UK General Election since 1945 has the combined Liberal and Labour vote (if you prefer, the centre-left vote) been less than 50%.”

    I have been doing some analysis recently on past election results, and I think you’ll find that the percentage was fractionally under 50% in 1955 (and also 1951 if you exclude National Liberals who were absorbed by the Tories). It is only fractionally however.

    But I share your interest in Don’t Knows and also the elephant in the room – Others. I have looked at the results for all general elections since 1929, and have found few interesting patterns. First of all, let me apologise to the many Scots on here because I have lumped everyone outside the three main parties as ‘Others’, including the SNP.

    A few facts seem to be interesting:
    1) ‘Others’ have polled over 2 million in the last three elections, but never before. In the 2005 election, the percentage of votes cast for Others was 10.3 – the highest ever. This is especially significant in a time of low turnouts.
    2) The last two elections are the only ones since the War when each of the four parties needed less than 100,000 votes to win a seat. This could be the result of more scientific targetting of seats. Labour have been so efficient that in the last election they only needed about 27,000 votes per seat against 44,000 for the Conservatives, though this has declined from an all-time peak of 58,000 in 1997.
    3) The combined Con/Lab seats in 2005 was 86% of the total – the lowest ever, and the lowest ever % of votes – 68%.

    What I read into all of this is that the voting public are becoming disillusioned at the dominance of the two main parties, and that even if the SNP and Plaid do not make many gains, and the main English ‘Others’ do not gain any seats, there could be some surprising results caused by unexpectedly high votes for ‘Others’ in particular areas. It’s possible to imagine the odd upset in the South-East caused by UKIP or the Greens and in inner cities by the BNP, even if none of them actually win anything. Whether this all adds up to enough to swing the election result is anyone’s guess, but it might make a hung parliament more likely.

  10. Pete B

    No offence taken!

    In UK terms the SNP/Plaid are “others” because of the overwhelming dominance of the English population within the UK.

    It is already clear that UNS in GB is a dead duck, and the interesting thing in this next GE for me will to see whether there has been any fragmentation within English politics.

  11. PS Here is a prediction:

    The next AR poll will have a Tory lead UP to a level of between 17 and 19 points………………..

  12. @ ROB SHEFFIELD

    The CONs may have further to fall. I’m not certain their 38% is rock solid. And LAB can do better than 32%; the biggest issue with voters is the economy & that’s looking good for LAB now.

    My concern is the marginals; lots of CONs believe the marginals are sewn up & they can ignore the general polls.

  13. After the election could be even more interesting.

    Reports are Brown will pull a Heath and has pledged to go on and on even if Labour gets less seats in a hung parliament than the tories.

    You could have a situation with tories having 310 seats and Labour having 250 seats and Brown refusing to give up power. Brown won’t give up power in a year either. Brown would stay for the full five years. Brown controls the majority of Labour backbenchers. Who besides the conservatives would move against Brown. I can’t see lib dems or snp moving against Brown. Tories really need 323 seats to be able to have a majority to force Brown out. Take out the five seats from sinn fein and it takes 323 seats for a majority to force Brown out. If they don’t get 323 seats Brown will cling on. Brown will only go kicking and screaming.

    You would also see Clegg and Salmond having the power to extract a lot from Brown right after the election.

    This will be in contrast to Brown on election night in 1992 saying Major would have no moral authority for remaining PM if he didn’t win a majority with 326 seats.

    I don’t agree a hung parliament with Brown in charge would only last 9 months or 18 months. No one but the conservatives would move against him and Brown doesn’t like elections and he would cling on and on and on for five more years.

  14. @ AL J & ROB

    AV electoral reform referendum is going to a vote in parliament? That really surprises me. I didn’t think LAB would have the bottle to do this before the GE.

    This could actually be a good policy for LAB if it’s well reported.

    How will the CONs react? Climb aboard the bandwagon, or vote against in parliament?
    What do you chaps think?

    This will be one to watch :-)

  15. Amber Star

    I accept that there is more polling now than there was before previous elections, but the recent shifts are certainly making it more exciting than in the run up to previous elections!

    I’ve said before (yeah – I’m repetitive :-) ) that the critical issue in any election is the “narrative” that takes hold in constituencies.

    I had expected the Tories to deliver a consistent message that would nail the English marginals down, but one gets the feeling that the narrative has become one of Tory confusion – and if that solidifies, it could become disastrous for them.

  16. @ANTHONY WELLS

    “Finally 82% said they agreed that Cameron should be clearer over what he would do about the economy. The Indy have put this as a subheading on their front page, but frankly it’s a fairly pointless question.”

    Don’t agree- Tory voters and members are likely to give favourable ratings to any type of question that is asked about Tories and Cameron especially. So the obvious automatic answer here is ‘no’- with the rationale in the respondents minds being ‘because he has been clear enough- it is the government who have not spelt out how we pay down our enormous deficit etc etc etc ‘

    This figure is very useful as it shows Cameron and the Tories are in big trouble on the economy EVEN with a large proportion of their respective voters (as only 18% gave a positive response in terms of Cameron compared to the associated polls levels of Tory support at 38 i.e. so over 50% of people saying they will vote Conservative at the moment are NOT yet convinced by Cameron’s economic policies.

    That’s surely news Anthony and merits rather more than a (if I may say) flippant swotting away.

  17. @ JASON

    If Labour loses, Brown will move on if he gets the right offer. My guess is he’d like a place in the Lords & a public service position in EU/ IMF/ World Bank or similar.

  18. Amber Star

    Or Brown could do a Ted Heath and sulk on the back benches. He isn’t Blair.

  19. @ OLDNAT

    I love that expression – narrative & agree that the CONs don’t have a strong, consistent story anymore.

    Thank you for the link to Margo’s Bill (on the other thread), I will read every word & think about it carefully over the next weekend.

  20. @AMBER STAR

    “My concern is the marginals; lots of CONs believe the marginals are sewn up & they can ignore the general polls.”

    I think it depends where the marginal’s are- I think in the south and east of England there are big leads. But I don’t believe- either as a geek of over 30 years standing nor anecdotally (let alone the bits and bobs of data we have had- that the midlands and northern marginal’s are anyway near as pro Conservative as Cameron and, indeed, many posters on this forum wish to believe.

    Furthermore the point OLDNAT makes about ‘what is the narrative’ is crucial.

    Despite all the vast array of mass media wall-to-wall support and political journo obsequiousness, the current narrative is one of Tory confusion, vacuity and incompetence; the narrative of the last few months has been-post PBR and stark messages Darling gave- a vacuum in Tory policy in the face of a major series of policy challenges and with an election very fast approaching.

    These ‘negative narratives’ will hit them even in southern and eastern marginal’s and- if this trend continues- you will potentially have the McCain V Obama scenario where the former had to spend time and money in places the Republicans thought they had sown up years before.

  21. @ OLD NAT

    I’d think Gordon Brown would get bored as a back bencher. Strangely enough, I think Brown has more dignity than Blair, despite some of the media’s attempts to assasinate his character.

  22. @ ROB SHEF.

    Good points, thanks :-) The CONs might be congratulating themselves too soon on some marginals; & while they concentrate on target marginals, may fail to notice LD eating into seats they were taking for granted.

    I also agree with your point about 82% saying CONs need to be clearer about their policies on the economy. I believe that is actually more important than these types of questions usually are.

  23. Amber Star

    I accept that this is simply speculation – but there is a dark side to Brown’s character which could keep him in place “picking the scab” , while still trying to control the party in Scotland (as he has done for many years), as well as the ambition that might want to make him “accept” an invitation to take a senior job in the IMF or similar but which would divorce him from his political roots.

    I wouldn’t like to predict which aspect of him would dominate.

  24. @JASON

    I won’t paste it all in but your basic point was: ‘look at the regional polls you fools, extrapolate from that and the Conservatives are way ahead and cruising for a 50 plus majority’

    Anthony put its more poetically then I would:

    “As ever, regional subsamples really aren’t worth the paper they are written on. They have tiny sample sizes and are not internally weighted.”

  25. @ OLD NAT

    I’m willing to speculate that marriage has changed him. I don’t think his wife would support scab picking or sulks. But I do ‘get’ your point that he would be loathe to leave the party [in Mandelson’s care?] ;-)

  26. @OLDNAT; @AMBER STAR

    In the event of defeat and a quick Clegg-Cameron coalition I think Browns default position would be to try and cling on; then when ousted (as he will be- the world will have passed him by within the PLP) sulk like a Ted and then when he is totally ignored doing that take up a global governance or eastern US University position.

    I just cannot see him going quietly- I agree with OLNAT on that.

    In an HP where the numbers make a Lab-Lib pact possible: well he has every constitutional right to do a Ted Heath from 1974 and try to get Clegg to sign up.

    But that simply is not going to happen- it would be disastrous for Clegg to do it.

    Then the clinging on/ sulking begins- just a little bit later.

  27. @ ROB SHEF. & OLD NAT

    You guys made me LOL. Men are much better at understanding other men, so you are likely right. There will be sulking if he loses the LAB leadership.

  28. @Rob Sheffield

    “we have Anthony’s prediction as HP 12 short ”

    Actually that’s the UNS projection – if you click on the “more” link you’ll see that Anthony’s projection is HP 4 short.

    But they are only projections rather than predictions – I think it’s rather early to be making specific predictions when we don’t even know the election date yet!

  29. @Yariv

    “I think it’s rather early to be making specific predictions when we don’t even know the election date yet!”

    You mean my “I’d still be surprised to see Conservatives fall below 38 and Labour get more than 32 on GE day”.

    That’s not a prediction just speculation !!

    Though I am glad to see you publicising that UPR is predicting a HP even with regional variations (and southern marginal’s) factored in !!

  30. The poll gap narrowed along with optimistic economic news. It remains to be seen if it will hold or if the gap will do back to about 11.

    Anthony – Cameron is flailing in his economic position. Probably for the only time this year Harriet Harman was right that the Tory postion will change by this afternoon. If you asked the question in reverse you would get a high no%. Quite honestly he’s lost a lot of people on this

  31. @Rob

    Sorry, I wasn’t referring to your predi… I mean, speculation!

    I was trying to emphasize the difference between a prediction and a projection.
    I disagree that Anthony is predicting a hung parliament. I don’t know what his prediction is (my guess is that he’d shy away from making a specific one), but the site is merely using a PROJECTION which shows a HP with the Conservatives 4 short.

    Also, see the blurb on the projection page: “Note that both these projections are on what would happen in a general election tomorrow – not for the next general election.”

  32. @Amber Star

    Half the cabinet wanted the electoral reform vote at this election but the other half thought it would look too poltiical.

    The bill introduced now in parliament isn’t going anywhere as there isn’t enough time for it to work its way through parliament before the election.

    Remember Labour and their electoral reform promises in the past before the 1997 election.

  33. Does anyone know whether the parties have sorted out their squabbling over the election debates? The last I heard was that they were in jeopardy because agreement couldn’t be reached over issues such as whether the audience would be allowed to ask questions.

  34. @Yariv

    apologies- I was using the word ‘prediction’ when the spirit of my point (about the UPR site figures for HP that take account of regional variations) actually meant ‘projection’:

    I’ll bear that in mind going forward !

  35. “I think David Cameron should be much vaguer and less clear about his plans for the economy”?

    I’m afraid I’ll say that…

  36. The pressure to bring Labour ministers past and present before Chilcot for questioning has succeeded, Even Brown will appear before the election.

    Attention should now turn to the opposition parties, On what grounds were the Tory leadership and Parliamentary party so certain that war was justified? And on what grounds were the LibDems, plus Kenneth Clarke and a handful of other Tories, so sure that it wasn’t?

    With the future role of a strengthened Parliament and more accountable government being key issues, and therefore up for scrutiny in the forthcoming manifestos, public interrogation of these people, before the GE date is announced, could play a critical role in the election process.

    That might help to hold the feet of the next Government closer to the fires of constitutional reform. At the moment, from my perspective, it looks far too much like business-more-or- less-as-usual from the ‘Big Two’, ie skullduggery!

  37. @ Quincel asked ‘what polling do we need (if the Lib Dems don’t shift from 18-20) for the hung parliament to shift from Tory largest to Labour largest?’

    According to the swingometer, a straight 1.1% swing from Con to Lab, from the currently posted 39, 31, 19, 11 would produce:

    Conservative 37.9 -> 286 seats
    Labour 32.1 -> 287 seats
    Liberal Democrats 19 -> 48 seats
    Others 11% -> 11 seats
    + Northern Ireland 18 seats

    FPTP – [snip!]
    The Lib Dems should be careful how they react to that poisoned chalice, and stick closer than ever to their MMC/STV commitment.

  38. WOLF MACNEILL:

    The “new” boundaries that are going to come for the election and which are responsible for those figures you give are now 10 years old, having been based on the electoral register from February 2000. The system certainly has to be changed so there isn’t such a long gap between when the boundaries are drawn and when they come into effect.

  39. @ Quincel

    Apologies, my error, the swing would need to be a straight Con->Lab 1.6% (not 1.1%) from the currently posted figures, in order to produce the numbers I have shown

    @Andy Stidwell

    I take your point, but ‘not guilty, your honour’, I simply applied the swingometer. I’ll leave it to Anthony to explain (again) its basis.

    More generally, the party political haggling and horse trading involved in adjusting single member constituencies (something else hidden from the public at large about ‘their’ democracy) is always going to lead to long lag times. It also produces daft cuts into, through, across and all around natural communities. See what has regularly happened to Norwich, York and Cambridge for example.

    I think that one of the great advantages (and, to my politically nerdish mind, great beauties) of multi-member constituencies (MMCs) is that none of that cloak and dagger stuff would happen, because it wouldn’t need to. The boundaries of the very much larger constituencies that would be required would remain settled over long periods of time, with population changes being reflected by raising or reducing the number of MPs to be elected, according to pre-agreed and immutable thresholds.

    Once it had done the initial MMC-defining task, the Boundaries Commission could be shrunk down, and most of its running costs returned to the Consolidated Fund. The millions of hours and treasure wasted by politicos and public servants at every level arguing about the precise configurations of the York doughnut or the Queen Edith’s slice could instead be devoted to productive ends.

    And on that great day, when the system used finally matters more than the minutiae of the constituency boundaries, the people still stuck on the top of the Clapham omnibus would finally achieve something close to representative representation.

  40. The thought of Brown getting anywhere close to Downing Street come Polling day will send thousands out to vote Tory in England.Most of these Polls are within the margin of error and come Polling day I predict a Conservative majority of 60-80 with around 15 gains from the Lib Dems who I believe will gain approx.the same from Labour.QED.

  41. I love the phrases used on today’s thread.
    “Non-voting voters” and “representative representation” should both be put in the dictionary!

  42. Well, I said a few days ago people shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on one poll. That’s now three in a row showing the Tories below 40 and Labour over 30. I think it’s same to assume that there’s been a recovery in Labour’s fortune and a slight softening in the Conservative vote.

  43. As someone who never wants to see a Tory government again in his lifetime, I’m pleased with this trend.

    (Don’t necessarily think Labour deserves a fourth term, I’m more of an ABT – Anyone But Tories!)

    Prediction still sticks at 37-33-22 for polling day.

    Interesting stuff.

  44. @Wolf:

    Thanks

  45. ‘NIGEL SMITH
    The thought of Brown getting anywhere close to Downing Street come Polling day will send thousands out to vote Tory in England’

    Really? People may be sick of Labour but I would argue that Brown basically gets very little reaction one way or another unless one considers boredom. Brown I would argue is really neither a major positive or negative for Labour, unlike Bliar.

  46. much as these polls do signify a trend they do still all show a probably decisive Tory lead albeit a small one.

    I am still waiting for a poll to show Labour above 32% and the Tories below 38%. Until that happens I still think the Tories have to be considered big favourites

  47. Yariv –

    I’m not making any predictions. The UNS projection is just that, how the polling average on the front page would translate into seats on a uniform swing.

    The UKPR projection on there is actually a whole lot better, it factors in some regional differences but the main difference is that it takes account of MPs standing down, personal votes and so on.

    Neither are what I think will happen at the election – if I do make a prediction, I’ll be on the front page and will be much closer to the election date! :)

  48. @Oldnat “I had expected the Tories to deliver a consistent message that would nail the English marginals down, but one gets the feeling that the narrative has become one of Tory confusion – and if that solidifies, it could become disastrous for them.”

    While I share your view, I will say that I have posted here for a considerable time that I have long considered Cameron’s ‘convictions’ to be driven by PR requirements and that he is a poor strategist. [Yes, we know – and that one was a bit too much of a ‘Another 1000 words about why I don’t like David Cameron – AW]

    I don’t like Brown in general, but there is something admirable about a man who keeps getting battered and just bulldozes through everything, refusing to accept defeat. Maybe the ‘clunking fist’ will have the day after all?

  49. The WMA is 39:30:19. Curiously there is still not a very convincing 1- or 2-month trend (R2= 0.28). Over the last 2 weeks there is a strong trend (R2=0.71) but that’s an artificially short time period. There are 95 days to the (probable) election and over the last 95 days there is a reasonably convincing trend (R2=0.56) and if that trend were followed there would be a CLead of 7 at the election.

    I still think there will be political blunders by Brown and that the campaign with a demoralsied and cashless Labour party will go against him. But the statistics suggest a real possibility of a hung parliament. Since almost everyone agrees that this is a really bad outcome I don’t think it will happen. I also wonder whether the recovery in Labour support is confined to their solid areas, and less evident in the marginals. But this is all speculation.

  50. Anthony – have you yet revised your view that it’stoo late for Brown to make a complete comeback?

    Personally, I would be amazed if you had on the basis of recent polls, but the events that would need to take place for a further recovery are not so locked in the realms of fantasy as they were.

    Jack – Nigel (above) said the idea of “Brown again” would make the Tories turn out “in their thousands”. Would the Labour Party not be rather pleased with that outcome?

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