Over the last week we’ve had no fewer than five YouGov polls showing the Conservative lead shrinking to only six points, but apart from a 7 point lead from ICM we haven’t had much from other pollsters to see if they are picking up the same trend – Angus Reid tend to show very different Labour figures anyway, and we have no recent historical trend data from Harris to compare.

Tomorrow’s Telegraph however carries the figures from a new Ipsos-MORI poll that shows a very similar lead to YouGov. The topline figures are CON 37%(-3), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 19%(+3). We have to go all the way back to December 2008 to find a Tory lead as low as five points.

The poll was conducted between Friday and Monday last weekend.


278 Responses to “Ipsos MORI show lowest Tory lead since 2008”

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  1. One normally ignores the extremes at either end when building an average but the one end has no extreme – only AR is out on its own

  2. As a Conservative party activist I have to say I quite like this state of affairs – things are getting interesting! And as a “small c” conservative I don’t think it would be at all a bad thing if the Conservative majority was tiny – it would give backbench Conservatives more influence!

    I wouldn’t be too upset at a hung parliament either – provided we are the largest party, and we do NOT do any deal with the Libdems.

  3. Unbelievable. How the Tories are holding their nerve I don’t know.
    That is not to say that they haven’t made gaffs, just that they are not displaying the jitters that one might expect.

  4. @CAPN SCOOBY

    “Would anyone agree that the key for the Conservatives to arrest this decline is to firm up the clarity of their campaign; or would you say it is something more fundamental with the policy message?”

    The key thing they have in their own power is to decide that – instead of trying to make everyone hate Labour- they need to try and give people reasons to vote FOR them.

    The other key thing they have in their control is two-parted: (a) actually start being explicit in all policy areas about just what it is they are going to do (b)….and STICK to it as opposed to the utter incompetence and U turns of Cameron since his rather pompous new year’s press conference (no doubt based on the Blair esque use of focus groups).

    The key two things they cannot control are:

    (1) people are scared- as the yank political consultants define it this is a ‘mummy election’ and the centre left always does better i.e. ‘change (to the right) becomes a much harder sell at a time of household and individual worry’ especially when the opposition are either not being open about what they intend to do or have been….and then changed their minds. Better stay with the current guys/ we know where we are and at least they are saying they will be careful about cuts and be more sensible in the timescale of implementing them

    (2) Tories on here should not underestimate the number of labour voters who either sat on their hands or voted LD or green (even the islamist respect) in 2005- they are going to flock back and I suspect that trend is not even showing fully in polls as yet. Neither should they underestimate that centrist/ centre left capacity for TV deployed with such vicious effect in 1997. You will see a great deal of TV at this coming election- most of it (a la 1997) *against* the Conservatives.

    So there are some things they can do about the last 2 months trends- but quite a lot id beyond their control. Sorry.

    Both parties are subject of course to the Macmillan dictum.

  5. @Malcolm Hewson

    “Unbelievable. How the Tories are holding their nerve I don’t know.”

    according to someone on another thread who is in Osbornes constituency and also that Spectator piece alluded to, I don’t think they are. Corporal Jones anyone ?

  6. Whenever you think there will be no more major scandals to effect the polls another one comes along. Expect more twists and turns in the next ten weeks, but as it stands, i dont see either party gaining a majority so maybe more questions needs to be asked of the libdems as they are likely to be the key to our next government.

  7. Sorry. I was a bit too rash there. By looking at the figures, it seems that the biggest gainers in this poll seem to be the Liberal Democrats. I am usually quite skeptical of Mori polls as they provide quite extreme figures.

  8. IpsosMori/Telegraph Con 37% Lab 32% LD 19%

    YouGov CON 39%(+1), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 16%(-3)

    (1) Bully gate and Darling gate dead in the water
    (2) More questions for the AR philes on here

  9. This poll shows that since January Labour have not improved their position and that there has been a 3 point swing from the Cons to the Lib Dems – an accurate representation of what has happened.

    The REAL story of what has happened this year is that Labour have not improved but that the Lib Dems have significantly improved at the cost of the Tories. It’s such a pity that the Yougov polls do not reflect this.

  10. @epochery

    “Expect more twists and turns in the next ten weeks”

    The Macmillan dictum- agreed though this applies to all parties not just the Governmnet (though- as the governmnet- they are more exposed).

  11. The results tie in with the 7-9% leads. But MORI figures only cover those certain to vote – nor do they politically weight samples.

    So they more than others could be out.
    Still lets hope it persuades Brown to go to the polls.

    They still show no labour change though, and LDs up compared to other pollsters marking them down. If labour were doing well out of all the recent news should we not expect them to have climbed up? The tend is there though.

    My take … the electorate do not want to believe that cuts are necessary, they wish to believe that they can be painless, they hope it can be fudged.
    Could be that as a nation we are still living in dreamland. That is very bad news.

  12. @Phiip JW

    The REAL story is that this is yet more evidence of the- how shall I put it- strange quality of AR polling results…..

  13. Another interesting finding of this poll is that people expect Cameron to do better than Brown in the TV debates by 53/20. That’s a big margin. Does it mean that if Cameron does well it will be expected and won’t shift many votes? What happens to the leaders perceptions if the debates are perceived as a draw? What happens to Cameron if Brown unexpectedly stuffs him? This suggests Cameron has an awful lot to live up to, and almost creates a ready made narrative for Brown to overcome the odds.

  14. @TREVORSDEN

    “The results tie in with the 7-9% leads”

    Yep thats why todays two leads are SIX and FIVE….!

    statistical inference aside are you really- in your day to day life- this much of a optimist ?

  15. @ALEC

    “Another interesting finding of this poll is that people expect Cameron to do better than Brown in the TV debates by 53/20”

    and that is precisely what Labour leadership want……

  16. Wow. Just think in the future everyone will be saying “do you remeber where you were the day you read the news that Gordon Brown won the 2010 General Election?” ;-p

  17. @Rob

    I would agree with both (1) and (2) above.

    The Tories will not say how much more than Labour they will cut the deficit by, or how much more quickly.

    George Osborne is essentially asking for a blank cheque to cut as much as he likes after the election. That would scare anybody.

    On (2) , the Left’s ability to unite behind a “keep the Tories out” message should not be underestimated. I expect the Lib Dems to do far better than the polls suggest by virtue of the “anyone but a Tory vote”.

  18. Wouldnt this poll along with 42% in scotland give GB a labour minority goverment? :-)

  19. Watching The Foreign Office “Palace of Dreams” in the three part series “Grreat Offices of State on the BBC I-Player..It’s a three parter shown on BBC4 – Home Office, Foreign Office and Treasury (AKA the Full Major?) Apologies to those “offshore”.

    If the polling trend continues, I assume this series will be mothballed as it’s politically impossible to balance in an election context, so catch it if you can – it’s illuminating.

  20. Now there is a risk that Labour might remain in power will the Chancellor have to rewrite his Budget?

  21. I think the trick the Tories have missed is the “clean slate, dogma-free, common-sense, competent management, time to get our house in order” approach. Keep your policies vague. Don’t make specific promises (threats?) to cut things. Just phrase it in “this government’s messed things up and we’re going to take a long hard look at how to put things back together again” terms.

    In a way I think the Tories really ought to be refighting their 2005 election campaign. Those “we want to cut red tape and let teachers/policemen get on with their job” messages were just what the doctor ordered, but there was no way the Tories could break through back then.

  22. @GRI

    “Now there is a risk that Labour might remain in power will the Chancellor have to rewrite his Budget?”

    are you privy to information there? Was not aware he had finalised it yet !

  23. @Billy

    If that does happen I think there will be a few Labour strategists lining up lucrative book deals. “My Part In Labour’s Victory, And Cameron’s defeat”.

  24. @Alec

    Cameron made a tactical mistake agreeing to three way debates in the first place. He has compounded it by trying to make Brown appear incapable of standing up to interview or debate. You only need to watch PQMs to see he’s not going to give a Sarah Palin performance. So he’s lowered the expectations for Brown, and allowed for the potential of a “Liberal Democrat Underdog” narrative to take hold. I think the Debates might produce movement against the conservatives.

  25. @Neil A

    “I think the trick the Tories have missed is the “clean slate, dogma-free, common-sense, competent management, time to get our house in order” approach. Keep your policies vague. Don’t make specific promises (threats?) to cut things. Just phrase it in “this government’s messed things up and we’re going to take a long hard look at how to put things back together again” terms.”

    That won’t work given the global economic crisis- which is FAR from over.

    As said its a ‘mummy election’ and ‘we are better educated, wear posher suits and are more sensible than this shower’ won’t cut the mustard.

    They have got to give voters explict and specific reasons to vote for a change of government- IMHO continueing vagueness would be suicide. And they have been vague- thay have not been specific- they tried that and then did a U turn i.e. vague.

  26. @TrevorsDen

    My take … the electorate do not want to believe that cuts are necessary, they wish to believe that they can be painless, they hope it can be fudged.
    Could be that as a nation we are still living in dreamland. That is very bad news.

    ——-

    I dont think it shows that at all.

    People know that cuts are needed.

    But why must ordinary folk bare the brunt? It was the richest who made this mess, and it ought to be the richest who pay.

    The Conservatives had the opportunity to go down that route; to say that the richest will pay most. They still have that opportunity but, so far, they have chosen to say that ‘everyone’ must face austerity.

    Conservativism must re-define itself for the 21st Century: Thatcherite values (the notion that greed is OK) are NOT intrinsic Conservative values.

    It is correct Conservative philosophy to make those who caused the pain take the blame. Unfortunately the UK Conservative party has not taken this approach and seems disinclined to do so.

    That is why Labour are closing the gap. There is injustice in the heart of the current Conservative approach to the economy.

    (And please note, this is not an anti-Conservative comment rather a pro-Conservative one made in desperation at the narrowing and unnecessary predicament they now look like facing).

  27. Rob Sheffield,

    I don’t understand what you mean to imply.

    A general point I would like to make is that I think it is very, very important to take an overview of all polls and events over the past few months, and indeed of the past few years.

  28. Wow indeed. After the media hammering Labour have taken over recent days I was expecting the polls to shift back, but the narrowing continues in all polls, even those showing a larger gap (Harris, Angus Reid).

    It really does not seem that long ago that people were talking of Conservative landslides and Labour wipeouts. Now it’s hung Parliaments with the possibility – albeit slim – of Labour being the largest party.

    I have always thought that if Labour went into the short campaign (after the PM calls the election) 5% behind then it could still be won with “less than certain to vote” supporters being turned out on the day. Labour seems to be at that point a few weeks early.

    Yes, I know, the marginals and the effort/Ashcroft millions being targeted in them. But they can’t be moving in the opposite direction to the national polls and some are less marginal than others.

  29. @C.L.A.D
    They’re probably writing two versions of them now (‘My Part in Labours Victory’ if they win and ‘How I Knew it Would all go Wrong’ if they lose) hedging their bets.

    Although I wonder if (ludicrous though I think it is) Gordon Brown does win, whether he’ll still survive as PM…

  30. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if we get a hung parliament where Labour have to form a coalition with the Libdems.

    You can guarantee they will make a total mess of the economy and there will be another election and Tory landslide.

  31. Some contributors have expressed scepticism about MORI’s somewhat fluctuating figures. and I take their point ; I often feel the same. However this one is broadly in line with others, except of course Angus Reid.

    Philip can say all he likes that Labour hasn’t improved, it’s just the Tories losing votes to the Lib Dems, but that flies in the face of the facts. Clearly in this recent clutch of polls, in the main, Labour are several points higher than at the turn of the year.

  32. David in France –

    Actually while most of the pollsters have tended to ask questions seeing if people prefer cuts or tax hikes, or cuts sooner or later (which seems to the present political argument), MORI have done some asking if people thinking cuts are necessary at all – and if they think the deficit could be sorted out by just some little efficency changes.

    They show a very significant minority (44%) disagreed that there was a need to cut spending on public services.

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/poll-public-spending-charts-november-2009.pdf

  33. @DAVID IN FRNACE

    “My take … the electorate do not want to believe that cuts are necessary, they wish to believe that they can be painless, they hope it can be fudged.
    Could be that as a nation we are still living in dreamland. That is very bad news.”

    I just could not disagree more- both Lab and Lib Dems have been explicit that the books are to be balanced but the issue is about the timing in order to avoid creating- incompetently- another set of economic problems. The only two groups in favour of this type of approach in the western world at the moment (i.e. early swinging cuts in public services couple with tax cuts on high earners) are the Tea Party movement in USA and…..the Conservatives (oh plus 20 economists as opposed to over three times that amount who wrote a contrary letter).

    The UK public KNOWS cuts are coming (and – indeed- in my filed, the Universities, they already HAVE).

    What they don’t want is an incompetent mismanagement of the deployment of the cuts (by doing them ‘fast and early’) for the sake- at best- of some ideological totem or- at worst- because we want to sound different to the other guys.

  34. Is this the election where tactical voting returns?
    There is a definite feel for it and that could benefit Labour by a % or 2. The problem for the Tories is credibility and the more they come under the spotlight, the more they have to lose, including on the TV debates where Brown has little to lose because most people seem to dislike him anyway but Cameron could lose the Tories some votes if his performance does not come across well. The arrogance of ‘get on your feet’ lectures to Brown and this type of ya boo politics that Cameron displayed in PMQ’s this week just doesn’t go down well with most people so he has a lot to lose. It’s a pity Kennedy isn’t still the LibDem leader, it would have been even closer by now IMO.

    I think the big question here is will the Tories nerve hold – there are a lot of disgruntled Tories around here that have kept quiet but are now stirring and the interesting thing to watch will be can Cameron control wayward Tories as effectively as Brown has controlled all those in his party that are clearly out to get him! If a poll puts Labour ahead in the next month, Cameron and Osborne will be in as much trouble as Brown!

  35. Billy – for the BBC election night coverage they do lots of rehersals where they run through lots of different mock scenarios.

    Someone told me the other day that Tony King once joked after a couple of rehersals that it felt rather intellectually dishonest – in the morning he had looked at all the polling data and used it to explain the reasons for that rehersal’s Labour victory, then in the afternoon he had looked at exactly the same polling data and used it to explain the reasons for that rehersal’s Conservative victory ;)

  36. Anthony

    Thanks for that. I’m shocked those figures are so high.

    But I still stand by my exasperation at a chance, not yet lost, but certainly slipping by.

  37. @Rob Sheffield
    “centre left always does better i.e. ‘change (to the right) becomes a much harder sell ”

    Except that the Tories are as centre left as Labour these days… I don’t see how your argument flies.

    “Better stay with the current guys/ we know where we are and at least they are saying they will be careful about cuts and be more sensible in the timescale of implementing them”

    Talk is cheap; results (or lack of them) speak volumes.

    “You will see a great deal of TV at this coming election- most of it (a la 1997) *against* the Conservatives.”

    Can I have next week’s lottery numbers as well please, whilst you’ve got your soapbox and crystal ball out?

    Minds were made up a long time ago for many people; many to not even bother voting – why would you? What do you get for your vote? Freedom? No. Employment? No. Justice? No. Healthcare? No. Patronisation? Yes. Lies? Yes. Corruption? Yes. Fear? Yes.

    There’s a lot of desperation to talk up a Labour comeback on here due to Tory gaffes, but it’s guff, and totally ignores the general antipathy towards the establishment in general.

    The trend has been towards local politics and direct action, and whatever these clumsy polls attempt to generalise about, a lot more seats are going to be determined by local reputations & considerations than the tedious introspective punch and judy show down in Schmoozeminster.

    These views we keep getting on here by Labourphiles seem completely detached from the economic context that we are in. Do you really think that many votes can be bought by a Mitsubishi wind farm in the northeast whilst public sector workers – pretty likely labour voters – are feeling under threat by the labour party?! Think about it!

    Cameron v Brown is a separate show from the rival cabinets. Cameron can do as well as he likes, but if he’s stuck with some of these footmunching lieutenants who can’t even outdo a labour minister, then it’s little wonder the Tories haven’t managed to seize a convincing lead.

    There’s still plenty of time for things to play out though.
    Who is really going to remember anything that happened in Feb and March when it comes to voting in May?!

  38. Richard – tactical voting can’t come back, since it hasn’t gone away. There was little or no unwinding of it at the last election – it wound itself up in 1992 and 1997 and has stayed there.

  39. @Daivd in France

    sorry I should have been- unsurprisngly (!)- replying to @TREVORSDEN

  40. @ Rob Sheffield

    I think you’ve ascribed someone else’s thoughts to me.

  41. Touche!

  42. How exactly did the rich cause the recession?

    I don’t remember anyone from Cameron’s family defaulting on their mortgage or running up 20k in credit card debts…

    Greed, maybe. But not necessarily the greed of the rich. The bankers were just riding a wave of aspiration by the ordinary people; jostling to spend money they didn’t have on things they couldn’t afford.

  43. David – I think no one else really asks polling questions about it because all the political parties accept that cuts are necessary and the political debate has moved on within the political classes.

    When MORI take the time to ask it though it turns out that amongst the general public, there are lot of people who do *not* think cuts are necessary.

  44. @DAVID

    “It wouldn’t be a bad thing if we get a hung parliament where Labour have to form a coalition with the Libdems.

    You can guarantee they will make a total mess of the economy and there will be another election and Tory landslide.”

    ah- once again you raise the Dominic Lawson angle from the Indie the other day.

    He was wrong and so are you. Still good to see the ya boo confidence of 2009 draining away!

  45. You can ‘fudge’ an outperforming marginals result a little by abusing the tactical vote option of some UNS predictors. Simply give the LibDems an anti-Labour tactical vote instead, which will involve negative swing since they assume a anti-Conservative vote. Of course, this negates the expected LibDem tactical vote, so will benefit the Conservatives even more.

    I’ve experimented with Electoral Calculus, and show that even giving them a 4% marginal boost this way, this polling still shows a hung parliament of 21 seat deficit for the Conservatives.

    So even if the winds are right in the marginals and Lib Dem voters don’t tactical vote against them this still puts the conservatives in Minority Government. If the winds blow wrong, and they face Lib Dems tactically voting against them, and even holding on strong to the Lib Dem marginals, then the Conservatives won’t even get the largest number of seats.

  46. @Billy
    I doubt you aret too far off from the truth there.

    As for Brown, if he wins the GE he becomes almost immovable I would have thought.

  47. FACT: Beginning the 13th of December 2009 the last 5 polls from ICM have been 31,30,29,30,30. If that is not static, what is?

  48. @Anthony Wells

    Ha, ha! Quite an amusing story. Using the same piece of information to explain two different results..do polls actually mean anything then? :-D

  49. David in France – osborne has been pushing his “stiff the bankers’ bonuses” idea to (i think) some approval in the polls.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a failure to perform by the Tories – it might be that Darling has shown character that appeals, or it might be that the own goals have been deliberate in order to hasten the GE date? Risky and bizarre IMO

    Coulson must be either scratching his head or grinning inwardly. Any idea which one it is depends on your angle.

  50. Billy – life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.

    You may laugh, but/and it’s tragic

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