As well as the figures from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll there is also a new ICM poll out today, the first monthly ICM/Guardian poll since the election. Topline figures with changes from ICM’s last poll are CON 39%(+1), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 21%(nc)…exactly the same as the latest YouGov figures. 59% of people approve of the coalition between the Conservatives and Lib Dems, with 32% opposed.

There was also a question on PR – 56% of people said they supported a more proportional electoral system, 38% were opposed.


670 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – 39/32/21”

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  1. 38 Opposed to PR (AV) still shows all the signs of being a failed referendum.

    No energises its vote better

  2. PR is not the same as AV. AV is not a proportional system. The problem with this poll is that there is no one system of PR – there are several. So asking whether people support the principle of an electoral system misses the need to recognise that the specific system has not been decided upon. Was there any actual polling of which system of PR people wanted to replace first-past-the-post?

  3. Edward,

    I am not sure why people in England make this mistake…

    AV, STV, AV+, AMS are all PR systems. Some of them are just a bit more PR than others.

  4. 56 in favour 38 opposed is a respectable starting point considering there isn’t even a date set for the referendum.

  5. Would be interested in the precise question. To someone who hasn’t thought about it in detail, a “proportional system” sounds fairer. Once the campaign starts, the No campaign will raise a lot of issues that people will have real concerns about and the No vote will most likely increase.

    Personally I prefer FPTP because of Karl Popper’s arguments on the ‘Day of Judgement’…ad because I hate the idea of party lists…or complex voting systems. FPTP has the real advantage of being simple, clear and creating a direct relationship between the voter and their representatitive (“were you there for Portillo?”)

  6. These figures represent a bit of a honeymoon for the Conservatives – but if this is as bad as it gets for Labour (who are no further behind the Tories than in the election) the party won’t be too upset.

  7. @ Charles
    “Personally I prefer FPTP because of Karl Popper’s arguments on the ‘Day of Judgement’…ad because I hate the idea of party lists…or complex voting systems. FPTP has the real advantage of being simple, clear and creating a direct relationship between the voter and their representatitive”

    So I guess millions being disenfranchised based on a postcode lottery is perfectly acceptable so we can have Portillo moments?

    There are forms of PR which keep the constituency link anyway.

  8. @JOHN T T

    What happened yesterday to make the Lib Dems forfeit the Liberal title?

  9. John T – it appears my comment has been disappeared.

    The abolition of equity boost for the poorest kids will be the 10p tax moment for this govt in terms of its popularity

    Sorry if that doesn’t sit well with AW – wonfder why not?

  10. Barnaby, You’re back!!! Yay

  11. But I’m not. Booooo.

  12. Okey-dokey, I’ve left gentle reminders before, now I’ve put several people on pre-moderation. This is not a venue to debate whether government policies are any good or not.

  13. 59% to 38% in favour of PR.

    Might I make the following observations.

    The referendum will not be on PR but AV

    Very few of the electorate fully understand the difference between PR and AV

    At the moment IMO they instinctively feel a change from FPTP will be fairer regardless of the new system, but a good campagin against could change this for the AV system, particulalry since it isn’t even the LD’s prefered new system.

    Labour are not exactly united in supporting AV so any campagning by them in favour is likely to be patchy and not exactly whole hearted.

    The Conservatives are untied against AV and their campagin will be well organised, well funded and backed up by their well known ability to get out the vote.

    t would only require just over a 10% swing to defeat AV which I think in entirely achievable.

  14. @ EOIN
    “I am not sure why people in England make this mistake…”

    They don’t -people in Ireland do apparently-well one of them does ;-)

    Edward is correct about AV :-

    “………..AV is thus not a proportional system, and can in fact be more disproportional than FPTP.”

    THe Electoral Reform Society
    System Reviews

  15. These polls aren’t particular encouraging for the govenment especially the Lib Dem’s – the late election result will be good indicator of opinion.

  16. John F
    ‘Labour are not exactly united in supporting AV so any campaigning by them in favour is likely to be patchy and not exactly whole hearted.’

    It would be interesting to know know how many of them, re-elected, have already voted for the AV bill. That goes also for the other parties.

    It would be impossible surely, for them not to support it now?

    I agree that the result is close enough to make the referendum fail, but I suspect that, judging by previous referendums, the result will be more a comment on the reputation of the sitting government, sadly.

    However, if the referendum were to be held on the same day as local elections, a more relaxed situation would apply where voters could sting the government in the locals (as they always do) but approach the AV question more open minded.

    Did we note that this already has happened in teh GE with a good result for Labour?

  17. Something for everyone in this poll I suspect, although a few more worries for the Lib Dems perhaps.

    What does seem to be quite remarkable, and a little gratifying, is that the public has appeared to be quite consistent in its view of parties working together. Like saying they don’t mind paying more tax to keep good services, they always seem to want parties to work together.

    However, when taxes go up they clearly don’t like it, but here the coalition seems to be retaining significant goodwill.

    On a non political basis I am happy to see the coalition getting organised and dealing with the business at hand. The UK has had coalitions at many different levels, but the Westminster scene has been a depressing bear pit for too long – lets hope this changes.

  18. So we will have an unpopular Conservative Party – the referendum will be in mid term presumably – asking people to vote no. If anyone knows how that will play out they are wiser than me!

  19. Howard “Did we note that this already has happened in the GE with a good result for Labour?”

    Surely the converse applied at the GE? The gov was stung nationally but Lab improved in the locals? Or do I misunderstand?

  20. Mike N
    You misunderstand me but that could be my fault. I meant to point out that whilst Labour lost the GE they won the locals which is a common feature of mid term local elections.

    However, because of the greater turnout it could be just down to that fact, in this case. Mid term the Tories turn out in locals with their third regardless as John Fletcher pointed out.. I had to get the turnout up to GE levels (67%) in 1999 to win my LD seat in a very strong Tory area (previously a walkover!).

    I think it is a local election record but I got no recognition of it :-(

  21. Generally this and the YouGov poll as NC, which I’d see as generally positive for the LibDems, even the slight increases in Conservative support have come at the expense of Labour.

    Yes they will probably see a fall in their popularity once the main set of cuts are announced and come into force, but so will the Conservatives and if by the next election (if they can hold on to 2015) they should both start to see some pay back if the economy improves. But that is a lot of ifs if they hold on to 2015, if the economy improves enough etc. So my money at the moment, unless something strange happens with the Labour leadership election to see Labour back as the largest party at the next election.

    As for AV, I cannot see how a supporter of FptP can argue against it, as it only improves the link between the MP and the constituency. But as for the result of as referendum, if it is held early (as promised) it will still be in the first glow of the coalition and the slight increase in the chance of this happening in future will be seen more as a benefit than a negative. So as long as the referendum is held within the first year I think it will pass.

  22. Howard – As the resident expert I wonder if you can clear something up for me.

    I have become a little concerned about PR. It occurred to me that with a three party system in the UK (effectively) under a proportional system wouldn’t it be a case of “Who will the libdems support this time”? Would they not be the only party that could guarantee always being in government from PR?
    Assuming that they stay in 3rd place (though of course they may not), would PR not mean that the party that came third ALWAYS got to choose who governed and indeed, always formed part of the government themselves?

  23. I am currently assessing A-level politics. The children have been asked to list three PR systems in order of preference and explain them.

    AV is bottom of the list.

    That does not bode well for it.

    They all prefer STV or AMS…

  24. @ Sue Marsh

    I’m not an expert :-), but I think you are right. Effectively it means that irrespective of the number of LibDem MPs, their relative power would be equivalent to the not chosen party’s MPs (as it is today) – except if there is an overall majority or a Grand Coalition (this would be quite a shock to the UK political system).

    What could change this is the appearance of one or two parties in Parliament (e.g. UKIP on the right or a social-democratic liberal party (as opposed to a right-of-the-centre liberal party) in the centre, Green party on the left, cohesive nationalist parties all over the palette). In an established PR system it would almost certainly happen.

  25. @ Eoin Clarke

    Gosh, my students are taking their exam this week and next week. They will have to be able to compare political (and other institutions) systems of different countries and their implications to business behaviour. Will see what they do about that :-)

  26. Correction to my post:

    “In an established PR system it would almost certainly happen.”

    Or the third parties are destroyed and the political system is polarised.

  27. @LASZLO
    The Liberals are not always in Government in Germany – atlhough they have been in Government a great deal since the war – mostly in coalition with the Christian Democrats incidentally.
    Judging by the European elections I think the main beneficiaries of a truly proportional system in the UK would be the Greens and UKIP – or some other right wing grouping that would probably emerge.

  28. Laszlo,

    Well explain to them energised no campaigns al la ‘lisbon treaty’ in Ireland or the NE assembly in England. They often upset the odds….

    which board?

  29. @Sue,

    That’s part of the reason why I am so against it. The Lib Dems, as I have said previously, could always choose who to side with, regardless of how many seats each party wins. This could push the Tories (and centre-right politics) out of power, which would be wholly undemocratic whatever your political leanings.

  30. ALEC

    “On a non political basis I am happy to see the coalition getting organised and dealing with the business at hand. The UK has had coalitions at many different levels, but the Westminster scene has been a depressing bear pit for too long – lets hope this changes.”

    Alec-may I say a small thank you for that.

    So often here one finds intransigence , and forced difference-the mere rehersal of opinions & attitudes which are separated by an unbridgeable chasm.

    It is a joy to find the occasional common ground with which to open up two minds-this happens now & again.

    But non-partisan magnanimity , as demonstrated in your post-is a rare as hens’ teeth.

  31. Matt – Or Labour the way things are going!!

  32. @Alec and Colin,

    I agree totally with both of you. You get the feeling that many people were ready to criticise DC’s policies even before he became PM!

  33. @ Eoin Clarke

    I do use Ireland as an example, although less than other countries. And a lot about multigovernance system of the EU (and comparing it to China :-)) and about “institutional arbitrage”.

    They are masters students.

  34. Matt “This could push the Tories (and centre-right politics) out of power, which would be wholly undemocratic whatever your political leanings.”

    I note you didn’t mention “push Labour (and centre-left politics) out of power”. I trust that you consider this possibility to be undemocratic too?

  35. “I note you didn’t mention “push Labour (and centre-left politics) out of power”. I trust that you consider this possibility to be undemocratic too?”

    Of course. I do think, however, that given the choice, the Libs would be more likely to side with Labour. The numbers just didn’t stack up this time.

  36. @Laszlo,

    Interesting. The upper silesia example is a good one for arbitage or gdansk/danzig…

    our border I grew up on… never more than a mile away.. consociationalism is the only way.

  37. “…given the choice, the Libs would be more likely to side with Labour.”

    I wonder to what extent the coalition will influence the viewpoint of the LDs in future. If C/LD is a success (not sure how this is measured, though) would this make LD MPs more likely to continue with the Cons?

  38. @ Eoin Clarke

    Yes, the Polish example is a really good one. And has long historic roots – good for path dependency as well, not only comparative methods.

  39. @Mike N,

    “I wonder to what extent the coalition will influence the viewpoint of the LDs in future. If C/LD is a success (not sure how this is measured, though) would this make LD MPs more likely to continue with the Cons?”

    A very good point IMO. I believe I mentioned this very point a few weeks ago.

  40. @ Sue
    “Assuming that they stay in 3rd place (though of course they may not), would PR not mean that the party that came third ALWAYS got to choose who governed and indeed, always formed part of the government themselves?”

    Assuming the two largest parties refuse to ever work together, yeah.

    @ Matt
    “The Lib Dems, as I have said previously, could always choose who to side with, regardless of how many seats each party wins. This could push the Tories (and centre-right politics) out of power, which would be wholly undemocratic whatever your political leanings.”

    It would be, by definition, more democratic if the type of politics which got most votes always governed – say, left/centre instead of right. If that’s what the electorate vote for how is it undemocratic, especially compared to our current system where 40% of the vote is considered an immensly strong mandate?

  41. Announced today:-

    Number of MPs to be reduced by about 50. Looks like the planned constituency changes are going ahead.

  42. @ Mike N and Matt

    I think the success of the coalition would involve quite a bit of change in the personnel of LIbDem candidates for the next election (I know that LibDems have a different system of selection of candidates, but it is a minor issue).

  43. “It would be, by definition, more democratic if the type of politics which got most votes always governed – say, left/centre instead of right. If that’s what the electorate vote for how is it undemocratic, especially compared to our current system where 40% of the vote is considered an immensly strong mandate?”

    The most popular party, in terms of both votes and seats could be ignored. Adding together two parties, and passing them off as similar/the same politically, is a weak argument IMO.

  44. Also, in reality, dividing the parties into left/right-wing, and therefore similar, is questionable in modern British politics. In reality, the Libs and Tories have virtually as much in common as Labour, it could be reasonably argued.

  45. I have never believed that there is such a thing as a ‘progressive majority’ in Britain.

    A coalition of left leaners would not yield 50% in Britain.

    Comparativley, a coalition of right leaning could comfortably yield 50% in Britain.

    It was Rob Sheffield I think I once conversed with on this.

    Arguably, Britain is one of the most naturally right leaning countries on earth.

    Thus a PR settlement would favour blue.
    A yellow realignment is more likely to go blue than red

    I realise the polling data shows that some yellows favour red proportionately more. But if we take th eportion that favour blue more, then add it to blues and UKIP it would always outnumber reds.

    In times of backlash against blue rule (1832, 1905, 1945, 1997) There is the appearnace of a left majority but these four examples are notable because they are the exception not the rule

    Laissez faire,
    Capitalism,
    Noblesse Oblige,
    Free Trade,

    These are all right wing concpets embraced by the majority f the UK’s inhabitants.

  46. Of course, the Libs may still decide to side with Lab, despite the fact that British politics has changed in this way, because traditionally this is seen by centre-left as the only viable/natural partnership. Public perception is more important than political reality.

    Of course, as Mike N said above, the Libs may decide to stay with the Tories if this coalition works well. That is also another possibility.

  47. Hey folks,

    I am still around, but just as a observer. These polls really don’t say much – its all honeymoon stuff. At best, in normal circumstances, these should be the best numbers for the coalition pre general election campaign 2015, and the worse numbers for Labour. However these are not normal circumstances so not sure if the same rules apply. Presumption is against the coalition. But many times presumption is presumptuous, so I will not presume too much for the moment.

    Beyond that, most political discussion to be had atm is all about policy, and Anthony has made it very clear that he wants none of that so I will respect his wishes. Even though Anthony should consider the fact that a perceived good or bad policy should have effects on the polls, so a discussion of that sort could have its value in terms of political trends. (Maybe, like the coalition, you need to better explain your own policies Anthony, as more people are being confused rather then convinced ;) ).

    I am still hoping to find a good long free afternoon so that i delve into the details of the election numbers to try and understand what exactly happened, and what was the pattern if there even was one in this very erratic election night. Once that is done I shall upload my findings over here :)

    So for now be good, and know I am always watching ;)
    (Damn new labour really has rubbed off on me ;) )

  48. @ Matt

    The reduction in the number of MPs has an interesting implication. Already in the current number there are many MPs who depend on goverment patronage (and the same number who hope for this) in the government party(ies) irrespective of the party.

    It could significantly increase the executive power (continue the tendency of the last 170 years of increasing executive power).

  49. I guess what I am trying to say, Owain, is that it’s a big mistake to assume that all Labour and Lib voters are centre-left (and hence, support a centre-left coalition). Some are either centrists, or even centre-right. Same goes with Tory voters as well, of course.

  50. This, of course, is backed up by the fact that a very significant minority of Lib voters had the Tories as their second choice party.

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