There is also a new ComRes poll out today, commissioned by pressure group Theos. The topline voting intention figures, with changes from their previous poll a week ago are CON 38%(-2), LAB 30%(+1), LDEM 20%(-1).

These two polls were either side of Gordon Brown’s interview with Piers Morgan, so the natural inference is that it did indeed help Labour. However, ComRes’s previous poll was a bit of an unusual creature – it had shown the Conservatives increasing their lead in the face of a wider trend of a narrowing lead, so this is probably just a reversion of that. With the exception of Angus Reid, all the polls are now floating around a Tory lead of about 8 points – with some lower (like YouGov yesterday), and some higher (like YouGov on Wednesday or Populus last week). That’s a significant narrowing from the ten point lead that seemed to be the norm a couple of months back, or last summer’s mid-teen leads.

As might be expected from a Theos poll, the other questions dealt with the role of religion in public life. 27% said they had no religion, 33% that their religion was cultural and didn’t really affect their lives. 22% said their religion was important and had some impact on their lives, 16% that it was very important and had significant affect upon their lives.

ComRes then asked which party people thought had been the most friendly towards particular religions over recent years. 21% thought the Conservatives had been closest to Christians, 20% Labour, 9% the Lib Dems. 36% thought Labour had been friendliest to Muslims compared to 10% for Conservatives and 7% for the Lib Dems.

If you look at the answers amongst the groups themselves, amongst Christians whose faith is of great importance to them (a very small sample of 144, but the ones who this is presumably most likely to make a difference to), the Conservatives lead 28% to 18% for Labour. Amongst the 100 Muslims in the sample 49% thought Labour had been most friendly to the Muslim faith, followed by 9% for the Lib Dems and 6% for the Conservatives.

Finally ComRes asked if people agreed with a series of statements – 32% agreed that religious freedoms had been restricted in Britian in recent years (opinions on this had a sharp religious skew, only 26% of people with no religion agreed, 52% of those whose religion was of great importance to them did). 31% of people thought that the law should prevent people from expressing religious views in the workplace (surprisingly opinions on did’t have much of a religious view – 28% of people whose religion was of great importance to them still agreed). 64% of people agreed that religious leaders like the Pope had a responsibility to speak out on issues they were concerned about and, finally, 42% agreed that “in a democracy, extreme political parties should be banned”.


158 Responses to “ComRes/Theos poll has 8 point lead”

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  1. Any figures on likelihood to vote? Are Muslims more likely to vote than Christians? A bonus for Labour if this is true.

  2. Anthony,

    Off-topic, but re recent advertising, you might care to know that in Iberia right now we’re getting a heavy pitch for scientology.org and virtually all of the ads are linked to fortune telling in some way. Google translate not functioning too well, perhaps?

  3. Muslims may be more likely to vote but if that vote is in an area where labour are already likely to hold a seat – then its not going to help them much.

    If Muslims are perceived as Labour – what is that likely to do to the Hindu vote?

  4. Well it’s interesting given that in many ways New Labour was quite a ‘christian’ leaning grouping which is why it’s so intersting…a sort of grouping around the Second Vatican Council… baby boomer… Ramsey generation of ‘radical christians’ that Labour is perceived as less attractive now than tories.

    It seems if its sustained and I still think we have too few indicators of how soft both Lab and Tory vote is, we are now seriously travelling towards a formal coalition in GB… forst meaningful time since…I think we should exclude the National Government.

    I cannot see minority govts being acceptable while there’s a viable majority to be made in a Parliament. I can’t imagine the Queen being advised to allow dissolution until all possibilities are tried…first bite by tradition goes to incumbent.

  5. On topic, I’m slightly surprised that the LDs didn’t do better on libertarian issues, and you would expect the tories to do pretty well there, too.

    Maybe it comes back to the order in which the questions are put.

    Having looked at the PDF, it’s a pity that they didn’t ask about non-religious liberartian issues like ID cards and detention without trial at the same time.

  6. As if by chance BBC have been showing the 1974 Election show. There was some talk that Willie Whitelaw would take over from Heath as this would be more acceptable to the Liberals. The view seemed to be that Wilson had won the election by having more seats than anyone else and he should form the Government., which is what occurred.

  7. Wolf:
    not quite. Heath tried to get Liberals on board over weekend after election but Thorpe could not presuade his party.

    Heath then resigned and Queen called Wilson.

    He was given a promise he could have a dissolution in part made possible by the fact that Heath had already tried an alternative.

    Some argue that the convention upon being made PM is that you can have the right to 1 dissolution…no evidence for that…I think the crown’s job is to get a govt from the elected Parliament…dissolution is last resort… and the queen may now commission a politician to see if he can form a govt rather than ‘kiss hands’. He’ll only be PM once he has a working majority.

  8. It seems that Hindus have been more solidly Labour than Muslims in recent years, certainly in 2005. Some marginal seats have a lot of Hindu voters, such as Harrow East, but there are certainly marginals with large numbers of Muslim voters, Bradford West and Dewsbury being good examples. Many Muslim voters who went LD last time seem to be drifting back to Labour and turnout tends to be above average with most Asian voters originating from the Indian subcontinent. In some seats such as Southall there has been some Conservative success amongst Sikh voters but the high-profile defections to the Tories there didn’t lead to a serioius decline in Labour’s share in the by-election amongst such voters; they remained pretty solidly Labour. In general I think that Labour will do better amongst Asian voters than in 2005, especially Muslim ones.

  9. I don’t believe the Tories should wobble and be too concerned. Recall the first six years of New Labour government when the press and broadcast media were so compliant that they rarely questioned anything the government did. I was long a believer that the New Labour brand had so gripped the media that if the entire Cabinet was caught getting on a plane for South America with the contents of the Bank of England, Labour would rise in the polls ! Since early January the press and media have been assuming that the Tories would form the next government and, almost incredibly have been attacking them as if they were the government. Labour has had a succession of coups: the five minute Party Political Broadcast on the BBC OneShow; the hour-long ITV Brown love-in. In particular they should expect nothing from the Rawnsley story: Labour will spin it as Brown being a tough guy and the polls will rise for Labour again. And don’t forget Sir Nicholas Winterton whose views are still working their way through. Things do look a bit difficult for the Tories: the average rating has fallen from about 14% lead last autumn to 9% lead now. Yet this fall is not a smooth one, rather one falling and rising on events and media stories. During the election campaign the media will be much more even-handed. If the Tories are clever they will have a series of posters in the last week: a reasonable picture of Brown and the simple message: “He has ruled you for 13 years; do you want him to rule you for 5 more years ?”

  10. @Marco

    13 years? Shurly shome mishtake.

  11. Hmmm.

    Last census had under 2 million regularly (and falling) attending Churches so the amount of Christians who view religion as important is a bit odd.

  12. Marco:

    Sounds just like Wilson’s ‘thirteen years of tory misrule”
    Perhaps there’s nothing new in politics and marketing like they say!!!

  13. @MARCO
    Every time you post on here I find I agree with every word you say. The Rawnsley story, will die a death as you say. [snip]

  14. Of course if Wilson hadn’t become PM the trade unions would have called a general strike. Unfortunately Cameron thinks he is above that sort of thing.

  15. Just goes to show, do not listen to rumoured polls on Twitter. They were saying it was a 10% lead last night.

  16. @ JACK
    Indeed Jack, thought the same thing myself. Also, the kind of people who have run the Church of England in the recent past, have far less in common with a Jewish carpenter who died 2010 years ago at Calvary, than with a Jewish intellectual who is buried in Highgate. I should have thought Labour was their cup of tea.

  17. “42% agreed that “in a democracy, extreme political parties should be banned””

    This is rather alarming. Not that I have any love for extremist parties but I’d like to think that in a democracy one defeats bad and unpleasant ideas democratically, not by banning parties that espouse them.

  18. I’m new to this site so you’ll have to excuse my igonarnce. In previous elections there was a “shy Tory” phenomenon in which the actual votes cast for Labour were a bit less than predicted, and for the Tories they were a bit more (around 3% each roughly). Any idea if this would still be occurring or do most models take account of this now? Or is it more of a “shy labour” factor in this election? Any views welcome!

  19. Not convinved we are moving past an error margin of 40/30/20 Current lead around 8.5% (My opinion) and a pretty ghastly week for the Tories.
    Would be nice to see an ICM….

  20. Jay Blanc. 10 years of power as Chancellor (effectively PM in internal affairs as most people would admit) and then PM. That is the definition of power (or ruling us) in British politics. One of the principal reasons why I think Brown cannot win or even remain in power is the sheer incredulity with which most people would regard such an eventuality. I agree of course this is a ‘soft’ factor with no possibility or being proven, unlike the ‘hard’ facts of opinion poll ratings or trends in marginal constituencies. But if he does win or remain in power then every political commentator on the left I can think of, to say nothing of the rightists, will have been completely wrong. Furthermore with a likely 18 years in power Brown will have had more power than any politician in our history since our first PM Walpole, including Disraeli, Gladstone and Churchill. Can he win ? Possible. But I say, incredible.

  21. @Marco: bias is usually in the perception of the viewer. As a Labour supporter I find the BBC, particularly Nick Robinson, to be hard on Labour but soft on the Tories, which is probably unfair, and infuriated when the BBC pick up on Tory press stories about splits and personalities in the Cabinet rather than policy. Clearly, your perception is different, so the reality might be somewhere in between. As far as the Tories being “attacked for six months as if they were the government”, well, most people have believed (until the current round of polls) Cameron was on course for No 10 so it’s not surprising that the policies of a Party expected to win power might be put under some closer scrutiny?

    As for this poll, it further underscores the methodology/calculation difference between Angus Reid and all of the other pollsters so I would say there is an argument for taking them out of the polling average calculations or at least offering a with/without figure?.

  22. I wonder how the polls would change if everyone read Sir John Major’s article in the Daily Mail today.

    In my opinion, and apologies if this sounds partisan, but one of the most outstanding articles I have ever read in any newspaper – for its basic common sense rather than any party poolitical bias.

  23. @ Andrew Myers
    I don’t know what is funnier – the article itself or your claim that it lacks a party political bias!

  24. Surely the biggest Christian group is the CofE, which makes its biggest impact on the lives of parishoners in rural areas. It was once known as “The Conservative Party at praye.

    The hierarchical Cof E is, compared with the leaderless CofS and the other Presbyterian churches, a more authoritarian and less democratic organisation.

    The Cof S has been a generation ahead of the Cof E on every aspect of social progress of the last century: Colonies, Race (African connections were important). hanging, flogging, homosexuality, divorce, women clergy. If I’ve missed any, just add them to the list.

    – and nuclear weapons.

  25. @Ludlow
    I hear that.

  26. John B Dick,
    Surely the biggest Christian group is the CofE

    Maybe the Pope doesn’t have the divisions Stalin is supposed to have enquired about, but I think the RCs are rather larger. Even within the UK I think they have more attendees.

  27. John B Dick,

    As a practising Anglican, I can assure you that it is no longer the Conservative Party at prayer and hasn’t been for 40 or 50 years, especially in the suburbs where it is strongest. Moreover, though it is hierarchical in theory, in practice it is not at all authoritarian, for the simple reason that churchgoers vote with their feet & won’t take orders. The hierarchy has to woo people into church these days.

    Most of the people at my church are left of the Tories (Labour or LibDem).

  28. Thinking about the CofE, it’s surprising that Theos didn’t want to ask a question about one sect of one religion having an automatic right to representation in the state legislature.

  29. I should have expressed my previous post better.

    The question should have been about one sect of one religion operating only in one nation having an automatic right to representation in the legislature of a multi-national state.

  30. The CofE is left wing. I can remember the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks after the Falklands victory. You would have thought we were the guilty party.

    So the tortuous analogy is bunk.

  31. Some rather shocking news:

    According to Easterross on PoliticalBetting, Martin Day – who often contributes to this and other such sites – was almost caught up in the fatal robbery which took place in Huddersfield last night. This is from Easterross on PB:

    “The newsagent murdered in a robbery in Huddersfield last night was a friend of Martin Day. Indeed Martin was on his way to the shop, dived when he heard the shot and could easily have been inside when it happened but thankfully was not.”

  32. Ed_F

    I think Anthony did say something about this a wee while back – but I’ve completely forgotten what!

  33. @ Brownedov

    The RCs are more disciplined about going to church every week, but if you just stop people in the street and ask which church, if any, they belong to, you’ll find far more of CofE types.

  34. OK, I haven’t got the poll evidence to back that up, but I’m still confident that it’s the case.

  35. RichardW,

    I don’t have any evidence either but I think you’re right. Catholicism is a more “ritual” religion and church attendance is more important than it is to many protestants. Also, for many people (for example those of Irish, Italian, Spanish or Polish ancestry) the Church is part of their cultural as well as religious identity. If you don’t go to church you don’t “fit in”. It doesn’t mean they necessarily adhere to what they’re being told at Mass (witness the majority of Catholics who freely use contraception).

  36. I am a Christian who has (so far) resisted the fierce anti-Labour bias in the evangelical churches I have frequented for most of my adult life.

    The basic issue (as I see it) is that evangelical churches flourish in middle class areas where they can generate the income to employ additional members of staff: youthworkers, community workers, evangelists etc.

    In poorer areas churches struggle to cover the cost of the buildings and often have to share clergy so they’re in a weaker position to have a positive impact on the commuinties they serve. This is a serious problem in “white working class” areas and it is my belief that it is one of the major contributing factors to the rise of the BNP in these communities.

    What’s worse is that evangelical churches in “white working class” areas are too strongly influenced by the powerful messages emanating from leading evangelical preachers who are shaped in their outlook by the middle class cultural norms that they work within. So local churches end up being “out of touch” with the communties they serve – and are too often completely ill-equipped to tackle fascism – an issue which simply isn’t on the agenda of church leaders in middle class areas (in my experience).

    So you end up in the daft situation where you have clergymen losing more sleep over rules applying to the one job being advertised by their church than the 1,000’s of jobs at risk in their local community.

    In short the problem (as I see it) is more with the failure of churches to reach Labour communities than with the Labour party’s unwillingness to reach the churches. There is a desperate need for the redistribution of wealth, resources and manpower.

  37. @West Cumbrian Voter,

    Sounds suspiciously like Liberation Theology to me.

    Generally I think people are uncomfortable with the churches (mosques/temples/gurdwaras) getting involved in politics. The causes for job losses are usually well beyond the remit of religion, and in certain circumstances the loss of jobs in the UK might actually be the morally correct standpoint for a Christian (for example is it right to deny employment to those in the developing world by insisting that their raw materials are processed by subsidised plants in the UK, or is it more Christian to provide a living closer to the source).

  38. As I said earlier; under 2 million attend church regularly according to the last census and the numbers are dropping and over 7 million said they were atheist; isn’t it the Methodists, for example, who can see the day when they no longer exist already?

    Churches are dying; just looks at the average age of a congregation (yes, happy-clappy evangelical audiences are younger but I am talking about an average…). The Uk though will take a long time though to put religion in its proper irrelevant place.

  39. @ Spencer – which part of the fact that we are running up a debt of an extra £500m per day do you find especially funny?

  40. Of course, if you want to look not only at tiny sub samples but even tinier sub,sub samples – then one can identify the following from the poll on the importance to religion to people –

    “My religious beliefs are part of my culture and background, and do not really influence my day to day life.” E&W 46% : Sco 43% : SNP 53%

    “My religious beliefs are important to me and have some impact on my day to day life and decisions.” E&W 29% : Sco 41% : SNP 45%

    “My religious beliefs are very important to me and have a significant impact on my life.” E&W 23% : Sco 15% : SNP 2%

    Kinda contradicts the stereotypes of religious Scotland, and probably marks me out as a heathen! :-)

  41. @ Andrew Myers
    To be fair to say that the article is not party political bias is rubbish. In the article Major says that the Tory party are always looking towards what’s right and that Labour just don’t care about people and just want to win elections.

    You can call Labour incompetent etc but to suggest that the whole Labour party isn’t in it to improve society is just party political guff.

    To talk about deceiving the electorate in the same week as the tombstone pictures and the teenage pregnancy issue is a bit rich coming from Major.

  42. RICHARDW
    if you just stop people in the street and ask which church, if any, they belong to, you’ll find far more of CofE types

    In England possibly so, but you would find none but English tourists in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

  43. The indefatigable Dickson posted this on Pol Bet this morning. It is a sub sample. It therefore should not be taken seriously.

    However does anyone believe that the independent minded journos on The Times and the Caledonian Merucry will now write articles on it – oe do they belive that some sub samples are more equal than others!

    “If you pump SNP 34% (+16), Lab 27% (-12), Con 22% (+6), LD 11% (-12) into Baxter, you get:

    SNP 24 seats (+18)
    Lab 21 seats (-19)
    Con 8 seats (+7)
    LD 6 seats (-5)
    (Speaker 0 seats) (-1))

    http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/scotland.html

    by Stuart Dickson February 21st, 2010 at 9:59 am”

  44. @ Nail A

    Re: Liberation Theology
    I actually know enough to know what that means without checking Wikipedia and you’re way off base. I’m best described as a calvinist with methodist leanings so I guess I’d fit right into the Welsh valleys! (as was…the revival fires have sadly ebbed away).

    I’m a calvinist because I believe God “does” politics – whatever Alistair Campbell says – and any attempt to keep Him out of politics is certain to fail.

    I’m a methodist because I believe in the power of the gospel to bring about social change – especially in disadvantaged communties.

    I believe that the decline of methodism has had a knock-on effect on the Labour movement – particularly in their heartlands. Methodism played a key role in shaping Labour ideology. It may sound “from left field” but I think that a “methodist revival” in Labour heartlands would go a long way to rebuilding the Labour movement – and warding off the BNP.

    I’ve just watched “Songs of Praise” from Cockermouth – a place where the churches have been as essential to the recovery effort as any of the emergency services and they sang “Beauty for Brokenness”. The second verse goes like this:

    “Shelter for fragile lives
    Cures for their ills
    Work for the craftsman
    Trade for their skills
    Land for the dispossessed
    Rights for the weak
    Voices to plead the cause
    Of those who can’t speak”

    Tackling idleness and worklesness was high on the agenda of the early methodists – as it should be for Christians today.

  45. I think you should be really careful categorising the church as either overtly political or on its last legs.

    I attend a church which has grown significantly in the past few years, most of the churches I know have stayed about the same level or grown, one or two very significantly. The largest new church building in England for 30 years was built last year for a congregation which used to be only 1-200 but now has a regular congregation much much higher than this.

    The leaders of all these churches would, almost without exception, not push their congregations to favour any one political party.

  46. Clear trend still of the last couple of months: Lead between 7 and 10 and Tories no higher than 40 (though recent weeks even lower than that).

    Utter hung parliament territory as a narrowing national average lead will also be reflected in all those ‘marginal’s where us Tories are really 20 points up’.

    The trend is clear as voters have been taking a closer look at Cameron and the ‘policies’ they have on any given day.

    Oh and for all the Tory posters on here desperate for the latest wheeze to halt their decline: no manner of attempts to further slur Brown / indulge in pure personality attacks/ politics nor the deployment of information from an organisation that promises anonymity (!!) is going to make any difference.

    It will be Boon Hewitt all over again: i.e. a 7-10 day hiccup in the remorseless trend of a narrowing lead. Sorry !

  47. @ Jack Cornish

    I am not a Labour supporter but I did have respect for Tony Blair (certainly in the early days).

    For Gordon Brown I have none. He has not earned the position of PM, he treats everyone around him with complete contempt, he bullies staff and treats the ellectorate like idiots. He is not up to the job.

    His only aim in life is to cling onto power for as long as possible – indeed if he had it his own way there would only ever be one party and one PM.

    Contrast that with John Major, and indeed Tony Blair (who both won mandates to govern) so yes, under Brown I would agree that the party has no time for people and is only interested in power.

  48. @WCV,

    I think most of us are in favour of most of those things, whatever our faith or our politics. But politics is about the best way to achieve those ends, and it is arrogant to assume that the left has all the answers.

    Britain now builds no ships, and many workers from the Tyne to the Tamar have suffered as a result. But those ships are now built in countries like South Korea, giving ‘Work for their Craftsmen’. Britain is losing its call centres, causing suffering to even more workers (many in the areas that had already been hurt by the decline in manufacturing). But those calls are now taken in India, providing “Trade for their Skills”. All of these things help impoverished nations build themselves into modern economies that can provide the things that Mr Kendrick was pleading for.

    You could just as easily quote the song as a paen to globalisation as to the power of the Labour movement.

  49. Rob Sheffield

    I have no idea how big the aledged Brown bullying story is but think you are premature in assuming it will shortly roll over. You could be right that it will be largely over in a week which is not divesting for Labour but may have reversed the positive momentum they had. On the other hand this story is now big even on the BBC and in tomorrow’s Mirror and is expected to feature strongly in most of tomorrow’s papers. There will be many investigations by the press and it would not surprise me if the story has legs and has a critical impact on the GE result.

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