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. Surbiton – this is the embargoed poll. Theos obviously published it earlier than the original embargo.

  2. @ Amber Star – I’ve witnessed workplace bullying in an environment of highly paid, highly qualified professionals. It went on for a number of years and the colleague who was targeted ended up in hospital as a consequence. I was a junior at the time and reported it to a distant head honcho, far over the heads of the bullying cabal. To his credit, he launched an immediate investigation and as a consequence one bully was forced into early retirement and three others were informed that although they wouldn’t be fired, they should look for jobs elsewhere. All were gone within the year.

    Workplace bullying can affect anyone, of any status below the absolute boss. It is vicious, insidious and difficult to prove. The victim is often hugely embarrassed and humiliated by it and often won’t report it for those reasons – men, especially, often feel that they should be able to deal with it themselves. When they can’t, they often become demoralised and depressed which makes them even more vulnerable.

    It’s something that should be taken very seriously indeed whether it occurs in the kitchens of Pizza Express or the offices of Downing Street. Bullies are vile. They drive people to despair, to mental and physical breakdown, and even to suicide. They should never ever be excused.

  3. Considering that Mrs Thatcher was widely considered a bully and it didn’t seem to stop her winning elections, I can’t see Brown being damaged much by the bullying claims. People who are anti-Brown will get enraged, but they wouldn’t have voted Labour anyway.

  4. PS: I’m anti-Brown, but I’m not enraged either.

  5. oldnat

    Thanks for the act info. It was a little late and I had completely forgotten the detail.

    John B Dick

    I wasn’t trying to make a huge deal of it and did call it the last vestiges. Although tiny compared to those of the CoE, the CoS does enjoy some competitive advantage over other churches and faiths due to its status as “national Kirk“, maintained in perpetuity by the inclusion in the Oath of Accession of a promise to “maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government“.

  6. @ AMBER
    ” the more attacks we will see on Brown’s character”

    But why do you think this” attack” came in a book by a Labour supporting journalist of some repute-Andrew Rawnsley?

    It certainly intrigues me Amber.

    By the way, Mrs Pratt confirmed this morning what she said in her original piece yesterday-she makes no allegations about the Prime Minister.
    Her beef was with Mandelson’s trivialisation ( on Marr) of bullying of staff at No 10.

    Considering that Mrs Thatcher was widely considered a bully and it didn’t seem to stop her winning elections, I can’t see Brown being damaged much by the bullying claims. People who are anti-Brown will get enraged, but they wouldn’t have voted Labour anyway.’

    Thatcher for a long time was seen as a winner; Brown isn’t. As such the comparison doesn’t work. Why? Thatcher as winner had people on her side despite being a bully, is another view. Brown has not won an election and, also seems likely to lose. As such he may well be a bully and a loser-an unpalatable combination.

  8. John B Dick

    Possibly more interesting than Brenda’s being a presby in Scotland and an anglican in England is the unlikely prospect of some future monarch being an actual believer in one or the other systems, In such a case they would clearly be unable to swear to both Oaths of Accession, making a C21 division of the crowns at least as likely as the union of the crowns must have seemed unlikely in late C16.

  9. @Mike

    1) As I said, Sunday afternoon is not the time to release a story for best effect. You get on the monday/tuesday morning rush-hour news, to renew the news cycle for the rest of the working week when people pay more attention to news. And I doubt that the charity didn’t have a call from CCO prompting them to bring up the four phone calls in four years they had.
    2) You need to read more carefully, I was criticising the timing of the new bullying allegation, not the ‘bargain bank shares’ story.
    3) Right-To-Buy made up a large amount of the UK ‘subprime’ market, and a portion of the bad debt that lead to the credit crisis. Search for the news story “The crippling cost of right-to-buy” on the BBC.
    4) My position on AR seems to be becoming the accepted one. You’d have more luck attacking my position on the Sun/YouGov polling maybe?

    I hope you enjoy the comforting re-assurance on Political Betting that they didn’t give you bad advice, and tell you to waste your money by making big bets on political outcomes.

  10. @Neil A – “One aspect of the right-to-buy debate that I’ve never quite understood is how exactly changing the ownership of houses increases net homelessness?”
    Councils were forced to sell homes to tenants at below market prices. Not necessarily anything wrong with that. Councils were then forcibly prevented by government from reinvesting the sale proceeds into more social housing. Terrible, terrible mistake. With a growing demand for low cost social housing many people were forced out into B&Bs and others slipped through the net onto the streets. Housing waiting lists grew, and vulnerable people who still didn’t qualify for emergency housing suffered. It wasn’t the actual sales that caused the problem – it was the linked ideologically driven desire to force councils out of the housing market that was the gross error that we still suffer from today.

    On the bullying scandal – Labour have achieved the first objective of any target in this kind of story and have managed to muddy the waters and make the story confusing. They will be hoping for no more specific allegations, but I fear Ms Pratt has done them a great favour. I’m struck with the very strong denials from the cabinet office, which tend to suggest Rawnsley’s sources have got some elements wrong at least.

  11. @Alec

    In many cases, the occupants were also miss-sold on the idea. And had no ability to pay off the mortgage even at the ‘discounted’ rate. Some even thought they would have some kind of government protection against the house being repossessed.

    It has some similarities to the mooted ‘bank shares’ idea. It’s targeted at those with low incomes, but would require them to pay out a substantial amount of that income, for something that’s really quite risky. It may even induce them into borrowing to buy the shares, or mislead them into thinking the shares are government backed.

  12. Jack (& Derek) “Thatcher …had people on her side despite being a bully”

    It was more that she was thought of as “OUR” bully. ie “I don’t know what she does to the enemy; she sure scares the pants off me!”

    If the mud sticks to Brown it will damage him, but will also damage the slingers. The founder of this “confidential” helpline will by now have found two consequences – genuine callers going elsewhere, and false callers phoning her “confidential” helpline out of mischief.

    Hardly suprising Ms Ashley in the Guardian is trying to talk Labour up Rob. As for the northern marginals where the Tories are making no inroads according to this Labour warhorse, William Hague on’t tele yesterday said quite the opposite.

    By the way, “Cameron pats typists bottom” , would you want to move on quite so fast?

  14. @John TT – it looks like the backlash has already started. One of ms Pratt’s patron’s, an anti bullying expert professor, has quit the charity in protest at the breach of confidentiality, and her organisation is being reported to the charity comission by another anti bullying helpline. She has made a gross error, and the focus will now shift to her. I suspect she will be forced to resign in due course and Brown will be off the hook, unless other accusations come forward.

  15. @JAY BLANC
    I arranged more right to buy mortgages than Soft Mick in the early 80s. These were arranged on the then sensible 2.5 x joint income or 3x single income basis.
    Every applicant had full explanations as to the penalty for failing to repay. The very vast majority of cases left people far better off because their (usually very small) mortgage payments were rather less than their rent.
    Please desist from these overtly anti Tory comments at every opportunity. We all know where you stand, you do not have try to blame Right to Buy for failures which occured during the last 2 years. I would have been sacked in the 80s had I attempted to loan multiples even approaching the lunacy of recent pre collapse loans & mortgages.

  16. @roland – I would agree – I don’t see the selling of mortgages as the issue. There is a case to be made that the general taxpayer suffered as the homes were sold off cheaply and the taxpayer therefore got less value for our assets. While I am extremely critical of this aspect of the utility privatisations, I see the positives in allowing people with limited incomes to own their own home as a good means to spend government resources, so I don’t complein in this regard on the right to buy. It was what happened next that still haunts us as I said previously.

  17. @ALEC
    I must say now things are hotting up I become fairly disgusted at the attitudes displayed.
    When I read excuses for Blair and Browns behaviour at the level I do on this site I have to wonder what we have come to. You constantly critisise Cameron for trivia most voters dont even hear about, and yet this potentially appaling matter is unimportant. A very odd view point.

  18. ” I suspect she will be forced to resign in due course and Brown will be off the hook,”

    Well the former looks likely.She has paid a heavy price.

    As to the latter-we shall see.

    Reading the views on this has been an education.

  19. ROLAND-

    Mrs Pratt talked to Conservatives-one of her Trustees is a Conservative.

    The No 10 typing pool is full of middle class ladies.

    End of story ( for some)

    I wait for Harriet’s reaction when wife abusers & workplace bullies start using the “mandelson defence”:-

    He took his medicine like a man
    She knows I am no shrinking violet.
    etc etc.

  20. I don’t think he’ll be off the hook at all. An ex senior adviser to Brown has now come forward as well with a specific and damning account of Brown’s bullying. I expect there will be others and an enquiry will be difficult to avoid.

    It’s hard to believe that Labour supporters are so willing to excuse behaviour that would be considered outrageous in most workplaces today. Hasn’t most of the Labour left always strived against precisely this sort of abuse by those with power?

  21. “Hasn’t most of the Labour left always strived against precisely this sort of abuse by those with power?”

    The proper, old fashioned, real, honest to goodness left James-yes.

    I had cause to look up something for a post here about Dr. John Reed-in his far lefty Scottish days he was quoted as saying “better a bent ear than a bent knee”

    His modern counterparts see it the otherway round it would seem.

  22. @Roland – at no point have I said this issue isn’t important. what I have said is – “I’m struck with the very strong denials from the cabinet office, which tend to suggest Rawnsley’s sources have got some elements wrong at least.” As far as I’m concerned, bullying is unacceptable. However, what we have here is a series of accusations not backed up by hard facts – I could be wrong, but I don’t think the cabinet Office would permit an outright lie to be made on it’s behalf, so the denials that the Cabinet Secretary either warned Brown, verbally or otherwise – at best create confusion over the factual veracity of a central accusation and at worst blow it out of the water entirely. There are serious question marks about Christine Pratt and her motivation. It find it odd that a CEO recieves reports as to the identities of her helpline callers and she admits to having contacts with Tories – not clear yet what these are. She has already changed her story in the last 12 hours, and some are now speculating – but only speculating – that she was one of Rawnlsley’s ‘100%’ sources. Putting aside Brown for a moment, she has single handedly destroyed the credibility of much of the helpline movement.
    I make no excuses for brown’s behaviour, whatever that was. However, I am awaiting further evidence before I take a judgment on this issue. Everything may change with the next news bulletin, but at this point I am tending towards the idea that this is a politically motivated attack with limited substance to back it up. There is one final point to consider – if brown is a ferocious bully as claimed, at some stage someone will need to explain why his staffers, both Labour Party and civil service – are fiercely loyal and have stayed with him for many years. Applying for a transfer is easy – they don’t, and this might tell a story.

  23. @colin – I think you are falling into Roland’s trap. I don’t see anyone saying ‘bullying is fine’. What I do see are people who are sceptical of the evidence. I’m fairly sure if the political allegiences of the protagonists were reversed we would see the same views in reverse until all the facts become known.

  24. ” this is a politically motivated attack with limited substance to back it up. ”

    By a Labour supporting journalist Alec ?

    Rawnsley is respected & credible-he is doing an in depth on Cameron next.
    Why on earth would he do this for “political” reasons?

    Mrs Pratt has not accused GB of anything. She accuses Mandelson of trivialising bullying in the No10 workplace.

  25. @COLIN

    Just a little update for you:

    “The Patron of National Bullying Helpline resigns over Mrs Pratt’s behaviour, damning speaking out as “wholly inappropriate”. BullyingUK is “horrified” by NBH’s “confidentiality breach”.

    The head of the National Bullying Helpline, which yesterday said it had received calls regarding bullying from staff at Number 10, prompting much speculation in this morning’s newspapers, has now gone on Radio 4’s Today Programme and said Gordon Brown is “absolutely not” accused of bullying or intimidation himself.

    The backtrack comes as Christine Pratt also admitted that she’d been in touch with the Tories over her initial claims, who gave her support for her actions yesterday. “

  26. @ALEC
    Where I made my big error Alec was believing that there was a big smelly question mark over this PMs behaviour towards underlings.
    I now realise the question is about dubious charities.

  27. Returning, no doubt briefly, to psephology – Roland, I don’t see why we should believe William Hague with regard to the Tories making ground in Northern marginals any more than a Labour figure. That’s why we have opinion polls, they’re more scientific.

  28. @ Alec – the evidence looks incontrovertible to me. There have been many leaks over the years concerning Brown’s bullying, use of intimidatory tactics, and explosive rages. Rawnsley – a Labour supporting journalist – interviewed over 500 people for his book. The smear campaign against the National Bullying Helpline is exactly that: a smear campaign, and in itself a demonstration of bullying behaviour. Now an ex senior adviser to Brown has also come forward to confirm claims of Brown’s appalling behaviour.

    There’s none so blind as those who just won’t see.

  29. “the evidence looks incontrovertible to me. There have been many leaks over the years ”

    hardly smoking gun evidence.

  30. Barnaby – thanks for trying at least ;)

  31. Christine Pratt now says the charity received no complaints about Brown himself.

    Prof Cary Cooper a Senior Patron of the charity has resigned because of Pratt’s breach of confidentiality. To mention the employer is a breach in itself.
    BullyingUK has called on Christine Pratt to resign.

    It is a political attack. BBC reports that there are suggestions Christine Pratt had conversations with the Conservatives before making her statement in public.

    I think it will back fire as I said last night.

  32. Perhaps Tony Blair should be consulted on this matter, he referred to Gordon’s,’big clunking fist!’. Sounds terrifying to me ,and I don’t even know the bloke.

  33. @Colin & Roland – this is from an interview with Christine Pratt by Gary Gibbon on Channel 4 – “She is still a bit vague about just how many complaints came through to her organisation from No. 10. She insists she took one personal call from someone and did an “audit trail” to prove they genuinely worked directly for Gordon Brown. She repeated her allegation that she had also taken calls from two people who work “in the deputy prime minister’s office” in “the last eighteen months.”I asked if she accepted that there hadn’t been a deputy prime minister since the summer of 2007 when John Prescott stood down from the job. She seemed not to have realised that but repeated the allegation.I asked if she had received any complaints from people working for David Cameron or Nick Clegg and she said a categorical “no.”She then told me as she was leaving that “of course, I can’t know that because all our callers have confidential calls that stay confidential.” ”

    All I am saying is that, while there is a questionmark over Brown’s behaviour, there are also questionmarks over many of the allegations, including the most serious ones. Secretaries have publically denied leaving because of his temper or having phones thrown at them, civil servants have denied having to warn him. I’m sure there are some issues, just as there are some proven issues of bullying relating to Cameron’s top advisers. My posts have not been about defending or supporting Brown – all I have tried to point out is that the engineering of the attack has been cack handed and has let Downing Street off the hook. Tomorrow, everyone will be reading about the resignation of an anti bullying helpline chief and how they refered clients to her husband’s training company, rather than any detailed analysis of what is/isn’t wrong with Brown and other important issues around workplace bullying. I don’t know why you can’t see this.

  34. You have to laugh. That well known champion of secretary’s rights, John ( left hook ) Prescott, has been rolled out to defend Gordon ( clunking fist) Brown.
    Do the public care? The polls will tell us how our society views violence, be it verbal or non-verbal

    I agree entirely Barnaby, why should you believe the Tory Party 2ic. Why should I believe a Guardian journo?

  36. Enough now – there’s some space for speculation, but this is becoming no more than lots of Conservative supporters saying “Ooh isn’t Gordon awful” and lots of Labour supporters saying “Oh it doesn’t matter it’ll all backfire”. It is not adding any light whatsover.

    Wait till some polls come out, then we’ll know if it has an effect. Until then almost* everyone here is predicting what they would like to happen.

    (*yes, I know there are some very honorable exceptions)

  37. OldNat

    Its anecdotal, small sample and subjective, but can you confirm or refute my impression that since the election of the SNP government a long tartan skirt worn by a short woman has been seen more frequently than hitherto in Balmoral?

    I ask because I am unsure whether it is just because I live in Rothesay that I am increasingly aware that the Duke of Rothesay also is seen more frequently in Scotland wearing the kilt. The woman who uses me for sex spoke to him in the street a few months ago.

    Even more than the man himself, his Scottish title is certainly more in evidence, but this could be just be a matter of time for the late Argyll LibDem MP Ray Michie’s campaign for correct terminology to come to fruition.

    Maybe I am misled because I live in Rothesay. What’s your impression.

  38. John – do you mean has Charles been up there more, or has he been wearing a kilt more when he’s there?

    (Oh, as well as just being his correct title in Scotland, I can think of a more practical reason why he might be keen to use his Scottish title more frequently when there: it means he and Camilla can be referred to as a proper pair, the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, rather than the rather clumsy the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall they have to use South of the border)

  39. Thanks for all those that have given their views on Right to Buy and homelessness. I accept some of the criticisms of the scheme (whilst still believing that on balance it was a force for good). But only Jay has offered an explanation of how it might have actually increased net homelessness. Is there really any evidence that there are significant numbers of privately-owned (by banks/building societies) ex-council homes lying empty after repossession? Surely if the mortgaging bank repossessed a home they would then auction it off, even if they only got a fraction of its value? Why would the buyer then leave it open? Surely they would rent it out to gain an income? My understanding (not backed by any specific evidence or source I grant you) is that most of the empty homes on council estates are still owned by the council.

    And what about housing associations and councils; wouldn’t they boost their stock by buying repossessed ex-council homes for chickenfeed prices?

    I can see that the sale of council homes may have made it harder for councils to tailor their provision to the most needy families, but I still don’t buy the argument that it in any way created a homelessness problem.

  40. @neil A – “But only Jay has offered an explanation of how it might have actually increased net homelessness.” I didn’t think he had, but I thought I did. The issue was the reduction in the availability of social and emergency housing, leaving many people in sometimes vulnerable position (abusive families, unable to pay rent etc) who then didn’t qualify for social housing because there wasn’t any. The increase in homelessness came largely from this sector – ex soldiers, teenagers, people with mental health or addiction problems, rather than families who had been evicted after reposession. With children steps would usually be taken to rehouse somewhere. For troubled single people this option was often effectively removed as councils could not replace the stock of social rented accomodation becasue of government rules designed to wind down this sector.

  41. Neil – I’d agree that evidence for council housing creating a homelessness problem is weak – homelessness is generally caused by drugs, alcohol, family breakdown, mental illness, unemployment and the like – although the lack of council housing does obviously make this problem harder to ameliorate. Not, of course, that giving people a home would solve the root causes of their homelessness, or even that all the homeless would want to be given a council house.

    Where empty homes are concerned, however, I think the issue is more that a lot of derelict and repossessed homes are in quite poor condition. Let’s remember that one of the big problems with right-to-buy was that you then had to deal with maintenance yourself, and let’s remember how shoddily built most council houses were.

    Toss an absentee landlord who refuses to do proper maintenance into the situation and you have houses that just aren’t fit to live in. And if they deteriorate for long enough then the costs of making it liveable enough to rent and getting past the environmental health checks are going to be much more than the expected profits from renting it.

    Whereas councils, on the other hand, are obliged to maintain the houses in their care to a minimum standard. So the problem wouldn’t arise as much, which leads me to believe that it’s ex-council houses that pose the problem.

    I don’t have data to back up this assertion, but it makes a certain degree of sense to me based on anecdotal evidence.

  42. Jay Blanc

    I like your posts and find your anlysis of the consequences of the Right to Buy Policy spot on. My profession involved a lot of driving around council estates which were littered with boarded up houses displaying for sale signs.
    Only anecdotal evidence, I know.

  43. Anthony

    Peter Kellner says there will be a poll tonight for the Sun

  44. He’s right, there will be. I’m not dropping any hints about what it might show though!

  45. John B Dick

    If she reads that post, it may become “the women who formerly used you for sex”!

    Alas I have little knowledge of that or royalty – and certainly not in combination. :-)

  46. Uninhabited property can get into a downward spiral where it’s not being maintained because no one will rent or buy it, and it no one will rent of buy it because it’s not being maintained.

    The absolute worse case is where the land a property is on is worth less than the cost to demolish the property. In such a case, the holder of the property will likely just hold on to it in the hope that prices rise, or even abandon it.

    Something else important to note is that Banks are not in the business of property development. And they do not try to make a profit from properties that come to them from defaults, they sell on as quick as they can.

  47. Mr Wells, just got home and saw Peter Kellner on the telly. I know I am showing bias but I must admit he did do a very good impression of a Labour spin doctor; suggesting that the whole saga of bullying would have no significant effect and that Cameron and Clegg should not get involved or they might get their hands burned. We all know he is a Labour man, but I am beginning to fear for the integrity of the Yougov polls. Do you know of any head of a major polling organisation who is a Tory and can come on the telly and do a good impression of a Tory spin doctor ? Sorry, forgot, they would never get on the telly. Don’t get bitter.

  48. @MARCO

    “Do you know of any head of a major polling organisation who is a Tory and can come on the telly and do a good impression of a Tory spin doctor ?”

    The Head of Angus Reid perchance………

  49. @ Marco

    I don’t think that Peter Keller biases the results of YouGov or affects the integrity of their polls.

    Remember that YouGov’s recently resigned chief exec is standing as a Tory, their Chief Innovation Officer has stood as a Tory in the past and that our own Anthony Wells is a Tory councillor.

    As a Labour lending man these links do not bother me or make me think twice about the integrity of YouGov.

  50. Marco – as Jack says, when our CEO Stephan Shakespeare goes on the telly he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a Conservative (for those who care about these things, Nadhim hasn’t resigned yet, there is a transition period with them being Joint-CEOs again and Nadhim will formally step down when the election is called).

    I’d also suggest that Peter is saying that he doesn’t think the bullying scandal will have much effect because that is his considered opinion as a pollster. As a Labour supporter I’m sure Peter would prefer the party to win… but I’ve never, ever in the years I’ve known him ever felt that has affected his judgement at all. He is a seasoned pro.

    Rob – I know Andy, and I know his political views. You are both off the mark and out of line.

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