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. ” In reality, the Libs and Tories have virtually as much in common as Labour, it could be reasonably argued.”

    Someone on another thread suggested that policies of the parties would tend to be more centre ground in order to be attractive to the other parties in the event of HP. This sounds realistic.

    I realise it’s very early days yet, but I do wonder what the LDs will be able to include in their manifesto for the next GE. I guess in some ways this is true of the Cons too, but how can each party in a coalition develop distinct policies? Will there be tendency to align/shadow the partner’s?

  2. Matt – where did you get the figure for a reduction of 50 seats? I have an obvious anoraky interest in it :)

    (I mean the actual figure of 50, obviously I’ve seen the announcement of the bill!)

  3. Sue
    I believe there is an unconscious assumption in your question which could be that you assume the present parties with the two largest votes will retain them under PR.

    Remember the majority (59%) would have considered voting LD ‘if they thought they could win’.

    I also agree with Eoin’s and others’ point that a coalition between right wing parties and a few nationalists would be quite possible. Another contributor has pointed out that we have had coalitions between CDU and greens (D) , and CDA and PvDA (NL) , so every combination you can think of has governed in the last 50 years under PR. They were mainly highly stable governments and the proposed establishment of and English Central Plan Bureau (forget its nomenclature here) will prick the balloons of election promises in future.

  4. AW,

    The BBC website. It says:-

    Parliamentary Reform Bills

    Measures will be introduced to establish fixed-term elections for Parliament, held every five years. Will require 55% of MPs to vote for a dissolution of Parliament between scheduled elections. Will give constituents the right to “recall” corrupt MPs between elections. Will reduce the number of MPs by about 50. Review of reform of the House of Lords may be included in a separate draft bill later in the year. A Bill will also be introduced for a referendum on changing the voting system to the Alternative Vote. Will apply to the whole of the UK.

  5. Cheers Matt. I can’t see any government announcement to base the 50 on, so presumably the BBC have asked a government spokesmen and got that (or they have taken a rather liberal interpretation of the original proposal of a 65 seat reduction as ‘about 50’)

  6. @ Eoin Clarke @12:50

    I agree with the non-left leaning of the general public in the UK, but I would be careful with such a long term tendency as an argument.

    I do think that women could make quite a difference in the polls in the next five years.

    (if it’s true)

  8. @Laszlo,

    A long term view?

    A bit of dialectic thinking would leave me well disposed to regard an eventual realignment, as dare I say it ‘inevitable’. As for the ‘agent’….women may well play their part. Certainly, if the last three days discussions regarding procreation are anything to go by, we may well see an organic crisis in the near future.

    I am not nearly so optimistic as many of my colleagues but in times of crisis I have God.

  9. @AW,

    “Cheers Matt. I can’t see any government announcement to base the 50 on, so presumably the BBC have asked a government spokesmen and got that (or they have taken a rather liberal interpretation of the original proposal of a 65 seat reduction as ‘about 50?)”

    Yes, will be interesting to see which it is. :)

  10. Roger
    Thank you for your yell. If you add 37 and 23 you get support for the coaltion on party GE vote. I know it won’t be like that in practice but i agree with Xiby that we have literally seen nothing yet in the polls.

  11. Yellows seem fairly steady at 21 rather than the drop to 21 heralding the beginning of a freefall. It seems they’ve received their ‘punishment’ for working with the Tories – the loss of the very soft protest/tactical Labour voters.
    I expect any further significant developments with them losing or gaining votes will depend on the same thing as the other parties now – policy and effectiveness. Not down to annoyance at simply forming a coalition.

  12. Who have been the biggest losers among the others? They seem to be pretty constantly at c.8%.

  13. I’m not sure if this 50 reduction is reliable, although this has been the figure circulated by some time.

    The Guardian website claims that there has been updated briefing notes mailed to the journalists after the speech. So, who knows… On Downing Street’s website there are no numbers for the reduction.

  14. A figure of 50 cannot be announced. The equalisation of boundaires and potential reduction after governmnet instructions can only be specific once a proper review is carried out. buzz figures of 65/50 are employed for rhetorical purposes.

    Do not be surprised if it slightly under or below 50.

    A few LD seats in the north of Scotland (especially the islands) are sure to go.

  15. @ Eion Clarke

    One of my considerations is the number of public sector employees (especially the massive growth in their number in the last decade or so) – their thinking could change the general right-leaning trend. As to women – their responsibilities and independence has also changed – their views could be important.

    There has not been a major sociological study on the entrepreneurial stratum in the UK for some time, so we don’t know if that has weakened the blue electoral base. On the other hand the fragmentation of the workplaces certainly does not favour Labour.

    The main reason why I think that sociological changes have happened is the surprisingly small defeat of Labour (and the contradictory tendency in local elections) – it was not merely the fright of cuts.

  16. “Do not be surprised if it slightly under or below 50.”

    Or above. :)

    This is good news for the Tories either way. It’s one of the main things I was looking at for during the Queen’s speech.

  17. Multi-tasking has its effects… Sorry for all the grammar mistakes… :-(

  18. I wonder if the MP reduction will be part of the change in electoral system & therefore included in the referendum.

    My guess is, it won’t be. My opinion is, it should be.

  19. Originally the Conservative seat reduction was 10% – 65, so 50 is already a drop. Of course it was all mostly based on a number of misunderstandings, but a lot of Conservative supporters seem to go the whole idea fixed in their head.

    Actually I can see the seat reduction gradually evaporating away to nothing. Any substantial loss in number will end with practically every constituency being affected in a big way. Consider the enormous workload for the Parties of all those boundary commission sittings and appeals; and the resultant party infighting over seats (remember with so many old lags gone, there will be very few MPs conveniently retiring at the next election).

    If only a small number of seat go, this will fall almost entirely on the Celtic fringes causing all sorts of problems with the devolved assemblies the coalition really doesn’t need. Oddly enough such a reduction would also undermine the case for FPTP/AV.

    The other dog that’s not barking is HoL reform. According to the BBC:

    “Review of reform of the House of Lords may be included in a separate draft bill later in the year.”

    Has there ever been a Queen’s Speech sentence with so many qualifiers? ;)

  20. Hooray – I have not been put on the pre-mod list 8-)

    Thanks Anthony – I do try to behave :-)

  21. Laszlo,

    Yes very interesting on two counts.

    Individualism and consumerism breed false consciounsess crudely terms as the ‘wannabe’ Middle Class. A colleague recently described herslef as Middle Class despite being at the bottom of the academic ladder and up to her eyes in debt. The reality of ones position is often lost and thus it is hwo they perceive themselves that matters.

    There are a significant majority no win Britain who consider themelves middle-class (they are probably the same crew who owe 1.4 trillion).

    Polling data by ICM revealed that 87% of Britons believed that class was still dominat in UK society. Of course it is but you would think this would favour LAbour. Au contraire, the false consciousness actually results in a net loss for reds. I would be much interested in a sociological explantion of ‘middle england’ I have not got a baldies notion what it really means.

    As for the business class. The concentration of shareholders, the mergers and dominace of markets by larger comapnies is without doubt dwindling the petit bourgeois. Soon the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers will be back to pre-1832 conditions as viewing themsleves as less that affluent middle class. And this is the danger fro blues. Because unlike their public secotr colleagues, the petit bourgeois are in little doubt about the precariousness of their existence (my partner’s dad is one), it is quite unpredictable what 10% inflation/interest rates would do th their class identity. To my mind they certainly suffer less from false consciousness.

  22. @ Roger Mexico

    Yes, the speech seems to be a bit hurried…

    Among the additional notes to the Speech, the DS10 website says:

    “The Government has established the basic principles for reform of the second chamber. It should be wholly or mainly elected on the basis of proportional representation. The Government will establish a committee to provide specific recommendations on the details by the end of the year.”

  23. @Amber,

    It doesn’t sound like it will be. It sounds like they’ll just push it through. DC and NG have mentioned it a few times in recent speeches, so I think it’s likely to go through.

    The numbers will obviously be sorted out at a future date. Looks like anything from just under 50 upwards is possible IMO.

  24. It will also be interesting to see what the new constituency boundaries will look like. The reduction in MPs, in addition to the new boundaries will probably have a significant effect on the next GE and our interpretation of the opinion polls.

  25. @ Eion Clarke

    I think classes are here and will stay. But the orthodox positivist stance in British sociology successfully muddled the whole concept by inventing and reinventing categories and mixing up stratification of society with classes with wealth with values, etc. in the last 25 years (at least). I think classes remain important, because they represent the ways in which people grab their share from the produced value and it’s less transient than life styles.

    So, no I don’t know what “middle England” means :-(. Maybe it’s an expression of “we don’t know” it either :-).

    New Labour was a kind of attempt to confuse classes with stratification and it made sense from a political/electoral point of view (what it did to Labour is a different question).

    Maybe the emergence of a Liberal party would solve the problem for the assumed middleclass (quite a large proportion of the academics are wage slaves – unfortunately) – this could help to eliminate the massive individual differences in this group from an electoral point of view.

  26. @ Laszlo

    Of course that’s just repeating what we’ve already seen in the agreement. As I’ve commented before, this won’t be so much a can of worms as a container-load of snakes. Mostly poisonous.

    Oh well we’ll see what we see

  27. @Laszlo,

    A liberal party?

    Yes it is very very possible. As I view it David Cameron in the short term stands a chance of pulling that off. If David Miliband wins the Labour leadership bid Tony Blair’s project must surely be complete. All three leaders on a postage stamp.

    Since DC acted first, and decisively, I see no reason to see we he can’t establish and lead an Israeli style ‘kadema’ party.

  28. Regarding voter behaviour under AV, I think we will see as much polling about Second Choice Party as we will about AV itself. Parties may already be considering private polling about this – if they can afford it.

    Anthony, are there any plans for YG to begin asking a Second Choice question?

  29. A report on the BBC about India, which highlights the kind of environmental problems facing developing countries with rising populations:-

    At least 45% of Indian land is environmentally “degraded”, air pollution is rising and flora and fauna is diminishing, according to a report.

    The State of Environment Report is the first to be published for eight years and is the first to use satellite imagery to support its findings.

    It focuses on water, energy, food, climate change and urbanisation.

    Another report released by the ministry says that India contributes around 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

    That is about a quarter of the emissions of China and the US.

    It says that Indian per capita emissions are one-twentieth of the US and one-tenth of Europe and Japan.

    Water crisis

    The State of the Environment report says that at least 45% of India’s land area is “degraded due to erosion, soil acidity, alkalinity and salinity, water logging and wind erosion”.

    Inflatable boat carries people displaced by flooding
    Access to clean water will present big problems in future

    It blames deforestation, over grazing, forest fires and the indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals.

    The report also warns of a potential water crisis in the country, pointing out that in the past, a combination of rainfall and surface and groundwater supplies were sufficient for the population.

    But now it says that rainfall has become more erratic, groundwater supplies are becoming more depleted and surface water is becoming more polluted.

    Addressing the problem of energy security, the report says that India may have significant reserves of oil, but it is “relatively poor” in terms of oil and gas resources.

    On climate change, too, the report paints a grim picture. It says that “with an economy closely linked to a natural resource base”, India faces big challenges in the future including a scarcity of water and lower crop yields.

    Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Monday that forests in his his country “have the potential to offset the world’s carbon emissions”.

    “India is one of the few developing countries where forest cover has increased over the last 20 years and continues to increase – today more than a fifth of the country’s land area is under forest cover,” he said.

  30. Oops, wrong thread. Apologies.

  31. Eoin – a figure can be announced, it just won’t actually precisely reflect the number of seats the boundary commission will end up recommending.

    To reduce the number of seats, the government needs to increase the electoral quota – the legislation will either specify an actual quota (as the Scotland Act that reduced the number of seats in Scotland did – it specified that the quota would be equal to the English quota), or more likely an actual number, in which case the quota will be the electorate divided by that number, and the actual number of seats will probably end up marginally above or below it.

    If the new rules for boundary redistribution specify that equal size must take precedence over geographic considerations then we should probably expect the actual number of seats to be closer to the number that the quota was based opon than in the past, but just rounding up and down will likely mean the total isn’t exactly 585 (or 600, or whatever).

    Looking forward, it’ll be interesting* to see whether the quota for future boundary reviews will continue to be electorate divided by current number of seats, or becomes electorate divided by a fixed number (585 or 600, etc).

    The current legislation is rather flawed in this regard – it states that Great Britain should not have substantially more or less than 613 seats – however, it sets the actual electoral quota which the commission must aim at when drawing up seats at electorate divided by the current number of seats, which when combined with inertia and geographical considerations has a ratchet effect of increasing the number of seats at each boundary review, giving us 632 seats in Great Britain rather than the 613 or so the law says we should have.

    (*Well, it’ll be interesting for the handful of people like me sad enough to be really interested in the minutae of boundary changes)

  32. Amber – it’ll certainly start being asked if AV is adopted, and I expect there will be plenty of polls asking about it during any referendum campaign.

  33. @ Matt

    I’m wondering if the MP reduction could become a ‘rebellion’ issue.

    If polling shows it’s not popular with the public, this could encourage MPs who are worried about the outcome to rebel.

    How many of them will be certain that they will keep their seat after the changes? If a workplace announced 10% reductions based on indeterminate criteria, I’d expect more than 50% of workers to be very worried about losing their job.

  34. @Amber,

    Good point. I guess only time will tell. :-)

  35. @ Anthony

    Thank you – I believe that the polling about Second choice will have a significant affect on the referendum on AV.

    Perhaps that is unfortunate – a long-term issue being viewed through the prism of short-term VI – but I believe it will be a significant factor in how people vote.

  36. Word is that when discussion on the AV referendum will come about Lab will propose an amendment to increase it to full PR. Wonder how the Libs will react?

    Stick to the coalition agreement and vote the amendment down?

    Or go against the agreement and support it?

  37. @Anthony,

    Thanks for that.

    It will be interesting also for the 100-50 constituencies affected. :)

    South and West Belfast are reportedly to be amalgamted into one. This will surely cause a local rucus as Gerry Adams becomes the MP for Queen’s University Belfast.

  38. Anthony

    Isn’t removing the geographical and community restrictions going to make things a lot more difficult for the Boundary Commission(s)? If it becomes more arbitrary who you include or exclude to make the numbers work, there’s going to be a lot more accusations of bias.

  39. @ Anthony

    Well, it’ll be interesting for the handful of people like me sad enough to be really interested in the minutae of boundary changes
    I am certainly very interested.

    Is there a website that you would recommend?

    No offence to Matt, but I think his assumption that Conservatives will benefit entirely at the expense of LD & Labour may not be correct.

  40. @Amber,

    “No offence to Matt, but I think his assumption that Conservatives will benefit entirely at the expense of LD & Labour may not be correct.”

    Where did I didn’t say that? :)

    All I said was that it was great news for the Tories if it goes ahead. There is a big difference. :)

  41. I think the main reason the Libs are not opposed to it is that they will benefit as well. :)

  42. Matt,

    Blueys will not really benefit in temrs of seat gain….

    eg they are weak in highlands and north east etc…

    They will gain however by the fact that many nationalist seats will be scrapped eg Wales, NI and Scot. They were never very pro-tory anyway..

    The HoC has scrapped seats many times before… it is also not new to create seats… (1800, 1832 spring to mind)

    Irleand had i think 102 Mps once… Scotland and Wales was much higher in its number of MPs…

  43. Just a slightly tongue-in-cheek comment on these latest opinion polls. If this is a political honeymoon (a 3% “bounce” from the GE result and considerably less than the pre GE peaks of the mid 40%s) then God help them when the 7 year itch, or even the divorce, sets in! If I was DC or NC, I’d enjoy these comparatively good times while they last!

    And one last, slightly ironic, thought on the recent GE. In the 1992 General Election, Neil Kinnock polled 750,000 more votes than David Cameron did in 2010. He went on to become, rather unfairly, somewhat of a music-hall joke figure. Mr Cameron, on the other hand, went on to become our new Prime Minister. It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?

  44. @ Xiby

    I suspect such an amendment would cause quite a few ructions within Labour as well! Especially if it passes (the old warning of being careful what you ask for – you might get it).

    Actually this raises something which hasn’t yet been much commented on – how vulnerable will the new politics be to public pressure. In a House of Commons that is going to be without an overall majority for five years, backbenchers are going to have more power and coalition and party discipline are going to have to be more relaxed than normal (just look at the opt-outs and free votes in the coalition agreements).

    In turn this means that backbenchers may be more amenable to pressure from voters and well organised campaigns. I think we may see a lot of unexpected cross-party amendments getting into legislation.

  45. @Roger Mexico – that’s a very good point indeed. It will also create a very long and complex appeals process, which Labour was extremely good at using at the last review to minimise adverse decisions.

    Couple of thoughts on the spending cuts. I’m somewhat disappointed that the ‘new politics’ has continued on Blair’s mission to marginalise parliament. Having the major announcement at a press style launch in the Treasury, rather than in Parliament, doesn’t bode well for the coalition claims to want to strengthen the role of Parliament and MPs.

    It’s also interesting the level of coverage given to the cuts to first class travel – £10m among a £6.2B package. Very good spin, but the real story is the sharp cuts in business support payments of just under £1B. The coalition argument that rapid deficit reduction is needed particularly because of the deteriorating Greek situation could also be applied to the need to maintain business support.

    I’m not an expert on these spending decisions but Mandelson was successful in bringing the car industry for example through the worst of the recession. If industrial support programmes already promised are being withdrawn there may be some fairly rapid issues arising.

  46. @ XIBY

    Word is that when discussion on the AV referendum will come about Lab will propose an amendment to increase it to full PR.
    I have three thoughts about this:

    Could the ConDem coalition get around it by allowing a ‘free’ vote on this issue. Then it wouldn’t be a defeat for the coalition if Labour’s amendment ‘won’?

    Would pre-empting it look ‘weak’? Could the coalition’s proposed legislation change from AV to PR?

    Does full PR make sense for Labour? I can’t see why Labour would table this amendment just to discombobulate the coalition at their own expense.

  47. @ Eion Clarke @ 2:23

    Yes, a liberal party. I have limited (my encounters) and anecdotal knowledge of this sea of middle group – I don’t think they would be sufficiently attracted by a party, whose main attribute is romanticising the times of militant aristocracy in the current situation, while the ideology of the romanticising the self-made man who finds and develops his way and identity in the masses would be OK with them.

    I agree with your point about the three leaders. I’m not sure if DC has all the requirements to complete his project, although he stepped really decisively and effectively. Economy could become an excuse against him.

  48. @Eoin,

    It depends where the planned changes are due to take place. You can bet that the Tories (and Libs) will derive some gain from it, otherwise the cynic in me says that they wouldn’t do it!!

    I think the changes will benefit the Tories and Libs quite a bit – a bit like AV would probably benefit Labour and the Libs, if passed IMO.

  49. @ Roger Mexico @ 2:23

    I agree. Odd, like in 1997, it seems that the government party does not want the election campaign to stop. The difference between that and today is that all the parties continue their campaign.

  50. Laszlo,

    They are entirely elusive to me… a light blue, lemon or pink are all pretty colours but I could discern their differences especially if viewed outside the paradigm of the UK.

    I can think of a few international examples were we already have something like that… maybe that is where we are headed.

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