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. Interesting footnote on the reporting of poll results. Over on Politicshome (recently bought by Lord Ashcroft) they report some ComRes polling with the headline ‘28% know what the Tories stand for and like it’. The link takes you to the BBC (state funded and impartial) where the report commences ‘Less than a third of voters know, and like what the Conservative Party stands for’. I would tend to go with the BBC angle, as the numbers show that 36% know what the Conservative stand for and don’t like it, and another 36% don’t know what they stand for. So the PoliticsHome headline does seem a little odd.

  2. ALEC – interestingly, those figures imply that at least 10% of people say they are going to vote Tory and yet either say they don’t know what they stand for, or they do know and they don’t like it! Unsurprising maybe that their lead is vanishing?

  3. @DONT TELL UM PIKE
    Are there that many people in unions anymore to give Labour 33% of the vote? Would such a situation not provide even bigger Labour majorities in the industrial (I use the word guardedly) heartlands where it is no use to them electorally? Meanwhile the Tories pick up the marginals. I really dont want to go down this relying on the marginals road, but could this be the case do you think.

  4. @ALEC
    I am not going to get into one of the “are the BBC impartial” arguments Alec, but, if so few people have any idea what the Conservatives stand for, what does it tell you about Labour? After all they are still somewhere between 5 & 10 points behind ONS and rather more than that in the marginals. Nowhere near what it should be but ahead.

  5. Just a reminder to keep updating YOUR seat-by-seat forecasts. It’s a bit out of date!

    http://hungparliament2010.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-undermentioned-hereby-give-notice.html

  6. @ Roland – I assume Unison have a million members as they never start a sentence without mentioning the “million voices” A good few million combined I should think. One can’t automatically assume that all members will vote Labour, though the newsletters often encourage it.

  7. @Derek Pierson

    It does look like the Conservatives have a bit of a PUMA problem, that’s made worse by the lack of clear leadership. Cameron gets up, says something. Osborne gets up, says something different. Party flipflops around not knowing who is in charge.

    So then you get the lone-voice in the wilderness backbenchers popping up calling for the party to back deep fast cuts, overturning the smoking ban, supporting fox hunting, pulling out of europe, a return to the beeching school children and bringing back hanging.

  8. @ALEC
    Forgive me Alec, my remaining grey cell is dieing with the Tory majority. I mean to say the Conservative lead is not what it should be but they are still ahead.

  9. @SUE MARSH
    Yes I bet they do. And that many people is not a great deal with our population, however if the turn out is poor
    it is a lot of people. Thanks for the info.

  10. @

    “I think Barack obama used a similar strategy involving call centre’s. In this country I think Labour are using the unions.”

    Even if so (and actually unlikely) its a pretty unevenly matched battle given that the Tories have the entirety of Sky News as well as ITN’s Tom Bradby and all of Fleet Street except Grauniad (grudgingly) and the Mirror batting for them day-in-day-out !!

    Also- have you SEEN Union membership numbers lately ??

  11. @JAY BLANC
    “Beeching school children” all for it old boy, I was “beeched” at prep school, gave me a taste for it.
    “Beeching” at Eton was frowned upon however. But I took it up again in the Brigade of Guards. Good Show!

  12. What is a PUMA problem?

  13. There is nothing intrinsically anti-Conservative in making those who gained most pay most.

    That may be an anti-Thatcherite idea, yes, but it is not anti-Conservative.

    Entering the 21st Century, one hopes to see Conservative thought moving forward, not harking back to the 1980’s.

    I did not say Labour offer anything different. But merely noted that Conservatives could have captured the public imagination with a more just, more fair pacakge of cuts aimed at those who made most in the boom years.

    Cameron seemed to offer such a forward move. He seemed a moderniser. Which is why he and the party gained in the polls.

    Now he seems not to be a moderniser. Austerity for all is a vote losing message. And so votes are being lost.

    (And to one or two posters who have mentioned it: to blame ordinary folk (say, 25K a year or less) for taking up the debt on offer is like blaming soliders for a war in which they fight! It is the politics behind the scenes that causes a war. Not the people in the field with rifles).

  14. PUMAS – “They were so angry, they were nick-named PUMAs, or ‘Party Unity, My Ass!’ These people disliked Obama so much they were prepared to savage the Democratic party that had bred them in order to stop him. Much hot air was expended last year debating just how this group would vote. Most of them held their noses and voted for Obama.

    Now, the PUMAs are releasing their fingers. Predictably perhaps, they don’t like what they smell.

    The PUMAs are becoming TONRs. That is they ‘Tried Obama, but are Now Republican’.”

    So I guess the conclusion is that Cameron may be turning out not to impress those who were “giving him a go” as they decide he believes in nothing really. They are therefore returning to the Republican (Read Labour here) fold.

  15. Given the disastorus economic performance of the Government and Tory failure to present a clear alternative, perhaps the only surprising thing about a swing from the Tories to the LibDems is that it has not happened earlier. I’m not sure the LibDems have much of an alternative either, but in current circumstances they really only have to avoid making mistakes.

    However, the key question is where the LibDems are gaining from the Tories. Is this swing one of general sentiment, a tactical one where people are realising the Tories are third to Labour, or one in Tory/LibDem marginals.

    Earlier this week I posted for a number of Tory/LibDem marginals, currrently held by the LibDems in the South West, e.g. Cornwall North, Cornwall South East, Torbay, Newton Abbott, Taunton Deane etc. enquring for information from the ground as these seats were mentioned in an article in “The Times”. The article quoted odds from Ladbrokes (this sites’s friend Shadsy?), suggesting that the Tories might take 7 out of 11 of these seats. The latest poll suggests that this may require revising downwards – a lot of these seats are very marginal and the results could be close.

    What happens in the sea of Tory/LibDems marginals in the wider South West could be very significant in determining whether Cameron gets a majority or whther there is a “hung” parliament.

    P.S. A different point. The polls imply that the Tories are failing to capitalise on their financial strength because they are concentrating on old fashioned techniques like billboard posters. The poorer parties have plenty of opportunity for Obama style “assymetric campaigning”, and need not get frightened by the Conservative money bags.

  16. On BBC Look East in a marginal the Tory candidate says he has already won with a thumping majority.
    Wow!

  17. and what will happen when the revised GDP growth figures are taken in to account? Another slip for Osborne I am sure

  18. @DAVID IN FRANCE
    “There is nothing intrinsically anti-Conservative in making those who gained most pay most.”

    This is absolutely correct. Its a core value. How the hell did we hold office for over 30 years out of the last 60 if it was’nt.

  19. These lower poll figures are exactly what the Conservatives need, as dubious as that seems.

    The thought of another five years of Labour should concentrate the minds of the stay at homes.

  20. PERCY HOLMES

    “On BBC Look East in a marginal the Tory candidate says he has already won with a thumping majority.
    Wow!”

    I have just watched the same BBC Look East news feature.

    In order to add a large dollop of balance to your comment, I will add that BBC Look East interviewed a number of people who said that they were undecided as to which of the Parties they will vote for and that they were concerned about the Conservatives.

    It has to be said that, since it is the people up and down the country who will decide who gets elected, and who runs the country, not Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC’s).

    There is no doubt that it is arrogance in the extreme for the said (unnamed, anonymous Conservative Candidate in the Marginal Seat) candidate to claim that he has already won with a “Thumping Majority”.

    I would dearly like to find out whom, and in which Seat this Conservative is, as their electorate needs to know the contempt with which said Candidate obviously holds towards the electorate for whom he is seeking votes.

    For the record, I would be equally highly critical of a Labour or Lib Dem Candidate were they to say such things and display such contemptous and arrogant behaviour.

  21. I mentioned in my post above that I have asked on the threads fof individual seats what is happening in Tory/LibDems marginals in the South West.

    One person has interestingly reported in reply that the Tories are in a mess in Cornwall because of agent problems and because they are tarred with unpopularity running minority administration at local level. As Cornwall basically consists of LibDem seats challenged by the Tories, this could be very bad news for the Conservatives when they election comes. It is not inconceivable that Cornwall could cost Cameron the election.

  22. A lot of interpretation of the polls (sorry AW) on here centres around the influence of the latest policy statement. Such matters cannot possibly be significant because the Lib dems put out 5 per week and languish around 19-20. Labour has been specific in announcing its intention to put up NI contributions a penny and has nevertheless risen from 28 to 32 odd. The Tories have no specific policy commitment whatsoever and hover around 38-39.

    I judge thus that FGF is the only influence.

  23. @Sue Marsh

    Except that, conservative PUMAs are much more likely to stay home, or vote for UKIP, then even think about voting Labour.

  24. I think the prospect of another 5 years of Labour and Gordon Brown is a lot less worrying to to the electorate than having a party which doesn’t seem to have any clear economic polcies. There can be no doubt that Britains emergence from recesion and the fear that the tories would risk that recivery is the main reason behind Labour’s growth in the polls. Also, ironically the bullying allegations seem to be reinforcing the perception of Gordon brown being and tough and decisive and David Cameron being lightweight.

  25. @David
    (And to one or two posters who have mentioned it: to blame ordinary folk (say, 25K a year or less) for taking up the debt on offer is like blaming soliders for a war in which they fight! It is the politics behind the scenes that causes a war. Not the people in the field with rifles).

    Your wrong! I’m one of those £25k a year your on about but I chose to pay off my mortgage, rather than get myself into more debt, just so I could have new BWM on driveway… unlike a soldier we are able to make choices, unfortunately many people are not adult enough to make sensible financial decisions.

  26. We’ve been speculating on this site as to why Tory support has been falling this year. Presumably the Tory Party – through their private polling etc – are anxiously working on this question themselves. But, I wonder whether any of the polling companies is currently looking into it with a view to publication. Does anyone know? Does that usually happen during UK GE campaigns?

  27. WOLF MACNEILL

    I am sure the CONS will be doing their own polling (they can afford it :-) )

    I doubt they will share the results with us, though.

    If the rumours that Alec have kindly passed on are true, it would seem that the LAB recovery is based on Brown’s image improving. The CON reaction to that?
    Attack Brown more (this again, if Alec’s source is accurate).

  28. @Frederic Stansfield

    “What happens in the sea of Tory/LibDems marginals in the wider South West could be very significant in determining whether Cameron gets a majority or whther there is a “hung” parliament.”

    I come from that region, er, originally !

    I’d be very surprised if- in these seats- the labour vote did not totally collapse…… because they were all voting Lib Dem in order to defeat the Conservatives.

    Plus in W/ SW a significant minority of naturally hard right eurosceptic ‘conservatives’ vote UKIP.

    So: I’d be very surprised if ANY of these seats you mention go Tory.

  29. Trevorsden

    The polls don’t show a nation in denial. They show that some voters are more susceptible to scare tactics than others.

    The nations problems aren’t debt. Or even budget deficit. The UK is only struggling as it’s income is down about 15-20% from what it was in 2007.

    Tax revenue basically. Less people and businesses paying tax.

    It’s all linked to growth. Although there will be obvious cuts, it isn’t half as scary as people make out.

    A return to a normal economy is the best way out. As the majority of economists agree.

    2 years time, “what problem” with which ever party is in charge claiming the glory for getting us out of it.

    When the real hero will just be the taxation system.

  30. “Astonished by recent polls. Could it be that the voters simply are in denial about the national debt, and will not support party promising immediate cuts.”

    Economists are split on cuts. It’s just the fact that some people’s minds are more susceptible to scare tactics.

    All economists actually say that the way out of this mess is to actually get back to growth as quickly as possible.

    Some just say we should be making token cuts now, to please the markets.

    Others say such token cuts are not worth the risk.

    I should add, of the 20 economists supporting Osborne in his letter, something like 15 of them were either working for banks, financial institutions, or they were economists that used to work in that enviroment.

    I think you’ll find both parties are being backed by different types of economists.

    Most Osbornes backers are banking economists who want to see the markets prosper again. I’d suggest.

    As I said, common consensus in economics is the simple fact that lack of tax revenue is the much bigger problem than budget deficit.

    Debt isn’t that bad. It’s just tax revenues are down by 20% from 2007.

    Easy way out is supporting growth. Not cutting everyting in sight.

    Smart way out is securing growth, and then expediting the process by making cuts as well.

  31. @ Alec

    I agree fully. The tories were actually fighting the perfect election strategy for these circumstances in 2001, under Hague!

    Much of politics is picking up on voter mood. Blair was brilliant at this for a long time.

    Cameron. Again, I think he’s been blinded by Obama a bit, and thinks he needs to be revolutinary to get in.

    American needed real change. The public very incredibely cynical of the system at the time. It was bordering on corrupt, with the decades of corporate lobbying.

    Obamas books were basically about the need for real people to be in charge. Not cronies for the pharmecuticals, and oil companies – ala George W.

    Very popular message even before he stood for Democratic candidate.

    Got the public mood right. Doesn’t mean you can just copy it, and shout “change” and think it will fly here.

    I’d suggest the winning message for Cameron in this election is, as I said, Hague’s very unpopular message in 2001.

    Again, Hague read the mood wrong. Disaster.

    99% of policy making is judging the public mood.

  32. @ Roland Haines

    Roland, you are completely and utterly right. Parties don’t campaign THAT hard on immigration, for a very good reason. Although people will say it’s a big thing for them, polls don’t actually support that. Which the parties pick up on.

    The recent Sun polls on it were quite startling. As in, although the top line figures showed that more people disliked it, than liked it, the vast majority of people were actually “indifferent” on the general subject.

    Neither liked or disliked. Didn’t care.

    The potential negativity linked with attacking immigrants, totally outweighs any benefits you will get.

    BNP, UKIP support is actually pretty tiny in the grand scale of things. You don’t scare off the centre left to chase after 1% of the electorate

  33. Rob Sheffield. Interesting post. Thanks.

    You may very well be right. Although of course in most (but not all – consider Camborne and Redruth) of these seats the Labour vote has almost disappeared already.

    The national predictions of seats by party in the Commons derived from national polls (see the Electoral Calculus site, which has been criticised on this site for its overemphasis on this method of prediction) do, I think, assume that some of the Cornish seats are going to be Tory gains. So Cornwall may be leaving Cameron short of a handful of seats vital to the Tories if they are, depending on the state of play when the election comes, on the edge of getting a majority, or of being the largest party.

    It is an interesting point that the Tories may have to break through in Cornwall this year or never. You are quite right, Rob, that if the Conservatives do not provide a credible alternative to the LibDems in Cornwall then UKIP are an obvious alternative for right-wing voters. Unlike the Tories they do have a clear alternative plan of action (whether it is workable is another matter, but not the psephologist’s main concern) to existing UK policies to address the economic crisis.

    So, in ten years time Cornwall could be a UKIP/LibDem battleground?!

  34. @ TREVORSDEN

    Anthony has already pointed out that 44% of those polled believe no cuts are necessary.

    You can call them naive, that’s your perogative. It doesn’t change what the poll says.

  35. P.S. My post coincided with Christopher’s. Perhaps I could add the point that even if a party like UKIP only gets a very samll share of the national (I mean here English, not Cornish) vote, in the increasingly fragmented state of UK politics such a party can still be a significant force in a relatively small area like Cornwall.

    And if we are looking ten years ahead perhaps we should not forget Mebyon Kernow, who whilst still a very small party are on the up to the extent that they are fielding several candidates instead of just concentrating on one seat.

  36. @ TREVORSDEN

    RE: My referring to Anthony’s post

    To help you find it:

    Anthony posted at February 25th, 2010 at 11:18 pm

  37. DC – RIP

  38. I personally don’t buy this thing about our *AAA* rating being at risk. I think it’s a political scare which happens not to be working,

    I would suggest the balance of probabilities would be a far higher percentage of economists warning of the loss if there was a significant risk.

  39. This has got me intrigued. Is there are link to show Cameron and Brown comparative claims in expenses?

  40. @ Productive capacity shrunk by 5%

    Mostly its been switched off not lost. Some high profile plants may have gone but the bulk of the UK is smaller busineses. When Germany decides to get going again and France and Italy it can be switched on again.
    Too many right wing negatives get out and search for new business

  41. Here’s a link that might interest some regarding spending/funding.

    http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-01663.pdf

    Copy and Paste it to your browser/

  42. AS I have argued before; ‘time for a change works against Labour’.

    When it was similarly time for a change in the mid 1990s Blair (and I hate saying this) brilliantly came up with the new brand of New Labour (not bogged down with policies. All Cameron is coming up with is policies- for or against marriage? bringing back anti/ pro hunt -who cares?; more of the same right wing stuff New Labour did on education / economy etc…) Blair put forward vision.

    Cameron does not. Hence the desire for a change but no where to go…

    Did anyone else see the loony UKIP have now declared that global warming does not exist and that Al Gore’s film should be banned from schools ‘Allegedly’…

  43. any polls due this week-end? sorry to interrupt the riveting and gloriously futile exchanges between Trevorsden and Christopher :)

  44. You don’t seem to be interupting anything John (he said pointedly having put a long argument into moderation).

    We have our regular YouGov polls, but there is not anything regular. About this time last month there was an ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph, but they don’t stick to a regular rota so it won’t necessarily come along again this weekend.

  45. Has anyone noticed the pugilisitc similarities between Brown’s campaign and that of Hilary Clinton’s. Clinton got so close to beating an undoubtedly brilliant campaign run by David Axelrod. She positioned herslef as the underdog and ran the 3am. ad campaign. I wonder if New Labour have copied aspects of this. Although ultimately she failed, it would be niave to dismiss every tactic employed as worthless.

  46. *****News Alert*****

    **Vote For Change**

    Tory new Slogan

    omg :-) How Original !!!!

  47. As far as I can make out the much vaunted upgrading of the percentage growth last quarter (a whole extra two thousandths) is primarily attributable to the discovery that the earlier recession was slightly worse than thought. The BBC reporting did not make this very clear on the six o’clock news since it reported the two items as separate pieces of economic news, but if it becomes generally understood any impact on the polls will presumably be reduced – or is it only the first heard headline that the average punter takes in?

  48. Amber – (assuming this gets moderated) – thank you, the polls say what they say. Correct.

    I am pointing out a possible reason. Others disagree and I believe that in some cases this is due to a grossly naive reading of the pervading economics.

    Hope that clears things up.

  49. Again assuming this gets moderated –

    Now Mr Smithson has got me really confused over at pb.com.

    He says the MORI poll is quite possibly much much better for the tories than at face value.

    Others may be able to divine exactly what he means but it looks quite a bombshell to me..

    I certainly grow utterly confused by current polling methods. No wonder Brown needed his 50k private polling fund.

  50. Thanks for embarrassing me Anthony, I probably deserve it!

    The “time for change” slogan might succeed not because it’s been done before, but because it shifts focus from the nitty-gritty detail which can be confusing, and simplifies matters.

    The long years of Labour opposition were characterised (IMO) by the complications in their policies. The Tories were The Simple Party, and it made sense until “Time for Change” hit the electorate properly and “Investment in Public Services” was settled on as the New Labour strapline

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