The Sunday Telegraph tomorrow has a new ICM poll with topline figures of CON 39% (-1), LAB 30%(+1), LDEM 20%(-1). None of the changes since the last poll are significant in themselves itself – a one point change in support means nothing. However, this poll chimes very much with the trend we’ve seen on other recent polls.

ICM’s previous poll was conducted just before the announcement of the formal end of the recession, and with the exception of Angus Reid all the polls since then have shown a narrowing of the Conservative lead. ComRes, YouGov, BPIX and now ICM have shown the Tories dropping below 40% and aside from Angus Reid all the polls since the end of the recession have shown Labour back at 30% or above. I think there can now be little doubt that the lead has narrowed slightly in the last fortnight.

While we can’t tell for sure, the timing points to this being the result of the end of the recession, especially since MORI and YouGov have shown parallel increases in economic optimism and, in YouGov’s case, a sharp increase in the proportion of people who think that the government’s policies to end the recession have started to work. The other explanation is that the Conservative campaign has been seen as making several mistakes over the last few weeks – ironically, it’s probably better for the Conservatives if that is the cause, since they could then put things right. If the reason is the return of the feel good factor then the Conservatives are at the mercy of the recovering economy.

UPDATE: The fieldwork dates are the 3rd-4th of February so, in response to those who have asked, the fieldwork would have been done before the news broke that 3 Labour MPs and one Tory peer were to face criminal charges over the expenses scandal.

237 Responses to “ICM show 9 point Tory lead”

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  1. @Roland Haines

    Perhaps for the same reason the US still has bases in Germany, because it’s a very good location for logistics support, and provides a launch off point for power projection. This would be why our Military leadership is so opposed to the idea I guess?

  2. Roland – I think the argument against is that alternative garrison and training facilities for the BAOR would need to be provided in the UK, which would itself be exceptionally expensive.

    Anyway, please don’t let this devolve into a Tory policy good/ Tory policy bad argument.

  3. @Jay Blanc
    1)Why do we need any base in Central Europe now?
    2) The US Marine Corps is bigger than the British Army.
    3) The US Coastguard is 2X the size of the Royal Navy.
    Size does matter.

  4. @Roland Haines

    1) It’s very hard to do alpine training without the alpines.

    2) Guess we should just hand over defence of our country to the US then?

  5. @ ALEC

    “For my part, I don’t like his highly personal attack on Brown,”


    ” I despise those public figures who try to convince us that black is white ”

    Me too Alec. ;-)

    @ ROLAND
    “I think you are being critical of the Tories for the sake of being critical of the Tories.”

    Yes there is quite a lot of that around.
    I find it quite comforting in a strange sort of way.

    Sometimes on this great website ,someone says something & you wonder why you thought they differed from you politically-or even if they really do -and it’s strangely unsettling.

    And sometimes someone posts something which, with crystal clarity, makes you realise why you differ from them politically, and , trying desperately to observe OGH’s injunction not to enter a dialogue of the deaf, you smile inwardly with content.

  6. Hi COLIN

    ” The other day, a Cabinet minister had lunch with a journalist. “What happens if you win?” enquired the hack. The minister looked astonished. It was clear that this possibility had not occurred to him. Having regained the power of speech, he replied: “There’d be an immediate leadership challenge.”

    I enjoyed this too. Then – to my horror – I realised the minister may be a Blairite who believes Tony will try to take back the leadership from Gordon! Arghhhhhhh :-(


    “Guess we should just hand over defence of our country to the US then?”

    I think it’s going to be handed over to the French actually.

  8. Hi AMBER:-
    ” Then – to my horror – I realised the minister may be a Blairite who believes Tony will try to take back the leadership from Gordon! Arghhhhhh”

    I didn’t realise there were any Blairites left at that level!!

    Anyway Amber-as Roland reminded us, GB said he intends to go on forever so it probably won’t happen.

  9. @ ANTHONY
    “the point of the BCS is that it doesn’t depend on crime reported to the police. It is a large scale randomised survey asking people their own experience of crime, so picks up crimes that people did not report to the police.”

    Someone called Roger Graeff, described as a “criminologist” is reported as saying that BCS ” official crime figures did not reveal the true scale of violence affecting women and children”.

    He said that “attacks on children by other children not reported to police “were absent from the official British Crime Survey (BCS).

    He claimed that “research” done by him in Oxford indicated 42% of incidents that ended with the victim attending hospital were not reported to police.

    He also claimed that ‘Women’s groups say that 35 (domestic) assaults are made on the victim before they call the police.”

    Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said Mr Graef was ‘absolutely right’ to say the BCS was incomplete, and that ‘some crimes will not end up on a police computer’.

    But you have indicated that BCS methodology is designed to cover these alleged omissions.

    Is the BCS methodology ever subjected to the sort of validity testing & review against actual outcomes, which are such a feature of voting intention surveys?

  10. Anthony

    TNS still don’t have the tables up for their Scottish poll, though the Herald ran the story on their site last night.

    Shouldn’t TNS have had the tables up within 18 hours of that?

  11. No idea why the BCS wouldn’t represent violence affecting women. Perhaps he is thinking of cases where a woman was a victim of domestic violence and the attacker was present during the interview (the BCS survey is conducted in home), BCS interviewers do note in the survey whether the interviewee was alone in the room/genuinely free to talk when the domestic violence questions are asked – but I’ve no idea how that is factored into the final figures.

    One of the definite ommissions of the BCS is crimes against children. The survey doesn’t cover minors, so has nothing to say about the level of crime against children.

  12. Women’s groups say that 35 (domestic) assaults are made on the victim before they call the police.”

    true, they do say that, and 12 times before they tell their friends too

    Same for female attacks on male partners, incidentally, according to “statistical research”, but I can’t remember where I read that..

    Personally, I believe the stats are a better indicator than no stats at all, but then I’m a peddler of fact, rather than biased opinion

    I though we were all Blairites now, n’est-ce pas?

  13. Oldnat –

    According to John Curtice all the pollsters gave an undertaking to try and get results up on their site within 18 hours for the election period. Their actual commitment under BPC rules is 2 working days.

    You can complain to the BPC if they miss that, but realistically, if people miss the deadline slightly they aren’t going to be whipped through the streets for it.

  14. Anthony

    I don’t want Chris Eynon whipped!

    I just want to see the tables because the Herald reported them so badly!

  15. @ Colin – your reminder ‘not to enter a dialogue of the deaf’ is timely.

    That’s NOT what this brilliant part of the blogosphere is for. Personally, I have learnt a lot from posters with whose political values and opinions I am out of sympathy. For me, that’s a great part of what this site IS for. So, I think it would be good if a few more people could enter into a few more dialogues outside their own political comfort zones.

    For example, I may have missed a lot, but none of the very few arguments that I have seen in favour of FPTP, and against STV, has even begun to address the main arguments put forward in favour of STV by the STV brigade. At the same time, none of the rational responses of the STV brigade, against FPTP, seem to me to have been seriously considered by the FPTP supporters.

    Now, obviously, I am an STV supporter, along with many politically active people in many different parties. I have been so for 50 years, but I also try to engage rationally with STV’s critics. And there are good criticisms to be made of STV, but in my opinion, they are well outweighed by the arguments in favour. However, pro-FPTP posters on this site simply will not engage, beyond one or two often-repeated assertions.

    For me, this, and too many other serious electoral issues that are raised here, disppointingly generate almost no dialogue at all, rather than ‘a dialogue of the deaf’.

  16. PS I know we can’t have everything we long for, but a little more electoral red meat wouldn’t come amiss!

  17. Anthony,

    Given that in the cold war before the wall came down we had more than 250,000 men ( and women) in uniform and it is soon to be under 150,000 I suspect that we would have the space right now to fit in the BOAR.

    That is especially true as after the next defence review (regardless of the governing party) the men of the BOAR will mostly have their SA80’s replaced with P45’s.

    Apart from anything else we do most of our large scale training for land and air in Canada these days and as to someone else’s comments we actually do our Alpine training in Scandinavia.


  18. I think the issue with the BCS is that while it would cover domestic violence, albeit possibly with some underestimation given what Anthony says, I seem to recall it doesn’t cover sexually motivated violence such as rapes etc. I could be wrong on this however. Anthony is certainly right that it doesn’t cover crimes against minors.

  19. Anthony-thanks -but I really wanted to find out how BCS is “validated” like other opinion polls.

    I thought you meant that the raw survet data was weighted & flexed to provide the “broad picture”. I was interested to know whether that methodology is subject to the sort of critical review which is a feature of voting intention surveys.

    Perhaps I misunderstood you .

    I don’t even understand why actual crimes reported to the police are not the key source of “crime statistics”.

    I clearly need to do some reading on the subject.

  20. Couldn’t really tell you – I expect there is quite lot of academic study of it by criminologistics, none of which I’ve read.

  21. There needs to be more than one key set of data, collected in differrent ways, in order to minimise manipulation and corruption of the data.

    It’s a bit like using two cameras instead of one.

  22. BCS polls 50,000 homeowners, not renters.

    BCS does not poll the victims of sex crimes, drug crimes, crimes against commercial premises, or (obviously) murder

    If a respondent claims to have been the victim of a particular crime more than five times in the past year, the pollsters are instructed to enter the number as five. For instance, if a homeowner in a high-crime area reports that feral youths vandalize his property every week, his report will enter the database as five crimes, not 52.

    BCS is carried out by British Market Research Bureau Ltd.

    mmmmmm-bet YouGov wouldn’t get away with this approach.

  23. @ Cllr Peter Cairns

    The future of BAOR clearly has to be part of a full defence review with immediate post-election effect.

    Senior serving officers have gone on record to take issue with Liam Fox about his proposal to bring BAOR home without taking into account a number of critical issues. These include, for example, the unaddressed question of which part of the hard-pressed miltary budget will provide hundreds of millions of pounds of urgent capital funding that would be required to build houses for 25000 troops and their families back in the UK.

    These are serious people raising serious questions about the judgement of someone who is in line to be the next Defence Secretary. Might their concerns add to slowly accumulating negative perceptions of the Tory party that David Cameron could do without? I think it might. On its own, it’s almost meaningless, and could easily be corrected and forgotten, but taken with a series of other recent policy misadventures, it must concern DC, and bring comfort to the other party leaders.

    DC could do without this. It reflects on his leadership. His widely accepted image of competence is an important electoral asset. Lose that and lose the election. That, I think, is the importance of this BAOR incident, when taken together with its policy forerunners. DC’s image is ever so slowly slipping and he needs to pull it back together quickly, lest it slide away.

  24. I have seen various comments about the disparity in the elctorate where the conservatives need a big lead to win government. However, if you look at all the elctions since 1974, the successful party has needed less votes per seat than the loser. In fact in 1983, 1997, 2001 the winner gained around 10 seats for every 1% of votes and the loser around 5-7%.

  25. A good example of the pitfalls of FPTP will be brighton Pavillion, Labour won this seat with 37.5% of the vote, a 7% swing from labour to the torys and the greens and the LDs holding their vote would leave labour and the torys on 30%, greens 23% and LD 16%, this is hardly an endorsement for the victor.

  26. @JAY BLANC
    What has “alpine training” got to do with Germany?
    Its done in Norway and is largely Royal Marines.
    A certain Mr Blair reduced us to US puppet status.
    Perhaps returned troops from Germany could police our borders.

  27. @ Epochery re: Brighton Pavilion

    That’s what happens with FPTP in three party politics, and even more with four parties, as long experienced in UK Parliamentary elections in Scotland.

    AV would ‘force’ a 50% winner, but only STV in multi-member constituencies could both keep the constituency link and give a broadly representative UK result.

  28. @ Wolf Macneil – I think you are right about Cameron needing to retain an air of competance. If they keep making pretty simple policy errors he wil start to struggle. I still have a very strong suspicion that
    something to do with Ashcroft and party funding will erupt before the election. This is a quote from his speech today – “It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long…an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money….” He spoke this in relation to lobbying, but it was almost exactly the sentiments contained in recent media coverage about Hague’s recent visit to the Carribean accompanied and paid for by Ashcroft.

  29. @ALEC
    Is Hagues visit paid for by Ashcroft any worse than Harriet Harmans paid for by Unite.

    Right now I should keep of the rightous indignation if I were you, Baroness Uddin most be joining the “list” very shortly. Unless of course being black absolves her.

  30. @Roland – I’m not indignant about Ashcroft in isolation. I have long held a personal view that party funding should be via donations of £5,000 or less per year from UK based individuals only, with all donations published and with no business or other organisations permitted to fund political parties.
    My point is simply that I heard Cameron claim to want transparency many times today. Transparency is all that people have asked for over some of his fuinding arrangements. He is setting himself up for a fall, and all I am saying is that he is making a tactical error.

  31. @ ROLAND

    “Is Hagues visit paid for by Ashcroft any worse than Harriet Harmans paid for by Unite?”

    I think it is worse. Ashcroft is a single individual who allegedly has non-dom (or even non-resident) tax status. Unite represents many tax paying voters.

    You’d have been nearer the mark if you went for some fo Mandelson & Prescott’s legendary trips.

  32. @ Roland

    I’ve long been in the same boat as Alec about party donations and sponsorship, only I’d go down to what I think are Canadian donor limits – £1000 per named individual per year, kicking the Trades Unions and all businesses right out of funding political parties, and having a very strict public register of all MP (and senior civil servant) contacts by parliamentary lobbyists, of whatever description.

    The judges of transgressions would be randomly selected from among the public, like juries, because this is OUR Parliament, and first and foremost it is there to genuinely represent US and account to us.

    That’s the only basis on which I can ever again trust a Parliament to approve the composition of a government and its programme, and to monitor its policies and programmes and the effects of their implementation, and regularly report back to us.

    I think that the first task of the 2010 parliament must, sine qua non, be to secure the economy, and then, in genuine consulation with us, to help create a truly representative and accountable democracy. Anything less will be same old, same old – we’ll need to hold their feet to the fire to avoid that.

    Would you agree?

  33. Alec, Amber, Roland and Wolf – you’ve all discussed it in a very gentlemanly and non-partisan way… in fact almost everyone has behaved themselves since I had to have a hissy fit last week – but it really is the sort of discussion that is leading us back to the sort of partisan depths we got to last week.

    I know there’s a fine line to tread, and we can’t discuss the recent narrowing of the polls without pondering whether Conservative party stumbles contributed to it… but let’s keep off criticising political parties for things they have done that might damage them in the future. Otherwise it’s a bit of a carte blanche for those less fastidious to rant about the wicked things the other side are doing.

    (Just read Wolf’s post properly and realised he wasn’t even doing that! He was just talking about party funding in general and how he’d like it done. Given we are hundreds of comments away from the post I don’t mind that! Just no discussions about whether Ashcroft is worse than Unite :) )

  34. Certainly would, and it’s just dawned on me why Cameron spent so much time today talking about sorting out lobbyist – the last part of the expenses details published last week included all the private functions MPs book at Westminster, and there have already been some pretty amusing revelations. he’s doing what he does best – getting in on the story quickest once it’s broken.

  35. Anthony – last post crossed before I picked up your comment. Noted.

  36. Thanks Anthony – but when are the next polls coming that will deal with these prolonged withdrawal symptoms of ours?

  37. So our strategic interest in maintaining a garrison in Germany is…. house prices?

    I can’t help thinking that if that’s the best reason we can come up with, we should relocate them to Kenya where at least they could do some good by deterring incursions by al-Shabab over the Somali border.

    Surely even if it saves no money at all, it makes more sense for British service families to live in their own country, and send their children to British schools?

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