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. @Matt,

    I will have to look closer at the legislation but i would doubt strongly it there will be any political interference in ‘where’ the changes take place.

    I know politicians have a bad name but they are not ‘that’ bad as to gerrymander Britain.

  2. The way I see it – would DC be pushing through changes that were going to have little gain/no gain for the Tories? The cynic in mean means that I personally doubt it.

    It will be about the boundary changes as much as the reduction in MPs. Of course, all the 3 main parties will probably gains some seats because of the changes (as Amber said), but I expect the Tories and Libs would gain the most by such changes. That is probably why DC has fought so hard for these changes.

  3. @Eoin,

    True. I doubt they will have an active say in how many MPs are reduced, or where the boundary changes will occur.

  4. If they do the redrawing the boundaries, what census would they use? I doubt if the 2011 would be available, so it will be based on (if we assume that the next election will be in 2015) 15 years old data (and the 2001 was not that perfect if I remember correctly).

  5. True, Laszlo. Previous boundaries have been based on the 1991 census, I believe.

  6. The Queen’s Speech is right bang in the centre of UK politics. I do not think it is possible to have a more centrist legislative prograame. TB, DM, Lords Peter and Andrew must be purring at its contents :)

    I think we can say that Cameron is truly the heir to Blair.

  7. @Eoin,

    I hope he’s not like Blair. :)

  8. @ Eoin Clarke

    At the level of the slogans – it’s certainly very centrist. We’ll see if it’s centrist, when the details are out.

  9. I know that upwards of 50% said they want ‘change’. This Queen’s Speech bears all the hallmarks of continuity. The political reform, freedom schools, DNA, ID etc etc will not affect ordinary people. If one switched of the telly for a few years, they need not know any different…

  10. @ Matt

    I wondered if you were basing your ‘Good for Conservatives’ simply on it being a Con proposal.

    Labour have an advantage in seats v % of vote. This is been discussed a great deal. I think the proposal sprung from:
    1. Do something about the Labour advantage; +
    2. Show awareness that the ‘public’ want reduction in the cost of of government; =
    3. Reduce the number of seats -> which ‘ought’ to remove some of the Labour advantage.

    I think that’s how the thinking went. Are you sure it went any deeper than that?

    Does anybody have more information about the development of this policy?

  11. Anthony – I don’t understand your explanation of the reduction of MPs. I understood that each seat was going to become the same size geographically? Did I get that wrong?

    Will the BC still decide boundaries etc?

    I’ve been trying for months to get my head around how equal sized constituencies would work, but surely it would mean very urban areas with dense population would carry the same weight as rural, sparsely populated areas? How will that apply to the electoral quotas you mention?

  12. Amber,

    The policy emerged in the wake of the expenses saga. In part it was a bullwark to PR etc. In part it was to be seen to dealing with MPs firmly. Eg. if they are all in the trough do we need more of them? It is good to be seen to have ideas and to be seen to be doing something.

    There is no evidence to suggest that there is an ulterior motive in the legislation. Inedinburgh it would most likely be good news for Labour am I correct? Say if they reduced the Edinburgh total by one?

    If they reduced Dundee to one it would cost SNP one…

    Skye, Shetlands, Orkney, (That one I can’t spell – you the tiny one An something soemthing)… They would all presumably go…….

  13. Laszlo – it doesn’t use census data, it uses electoral register data.

    Under current rules it uses the electoral register data when the review starts, so depending on when the bill becomes law it would either be the number of people on the electoral register in 2010 or 2011.

    Naturally, that assumes no change in these particular rules.

  14. @ Anthony

    Thank you. So, except if people disappear from the electoral rolls as during the poll tax, it will be fairly up to date. It makes sense.

  15. Sue – yep, it means more equal *electorates*, not more equal geographical size. The boundary commission will still set the boundaries, but upon revised rules that will likely give more weight to the requirement for equally sized electorates.

  16. The policy stems from having the smaller metrpolitan areas, or town seat that favour Lab, and the larger rural seats that were Con.

    If you look at how some rural seats curve around towns picking up 50% plus Con votes when two seats with half the town wards in each both but smaller electorate go Lab, The idea is that the equal size will have a larger mix of town and country voters and thus water down the effect of the small Lab town seats,

    The Libs could benefit most with second prefs, although that may well depend on how the Coalition goes

  17. Thanks Anthony, but I still don’t get it. I clearly remember a news report on it and them showing the constituencies as equal SIZES?? (cute little hexagons in fact :) )

    Also, I thought they were already supposed to be equal in numbers? (well, as far a possible?)

    Still it’s a relief if true, as I just could not see any way equal sized constituencies geographically, could be made to be fair.

    One last thing, does that mean that the BC will definitely still be responsible for working all this out?

  18. It was the 1832 reform act that prompted a lot of this…

    Old ‘pocket’ boroughs (rutland for example with 662 voters) were scrapped to make way for the expanind cities. Manchester quadrupled its population in 30 years for example.

    County boroughs were established (if my memory serves me correctly it was 2 MPs per county)….

    In addition to that the emerging cities were granted MPs…

    Universities who used to have a dedicated MP lost their representation (except in Ireland where Trinity continued to return and MP)…

    Then for politicla expediency it was always argued that the Celtic nations should have ‘extra’ MPs to take account of the fact that they were governed by a different country. Thus booster MPs were given to Scotland and Ireland…

    this more or less continued until the last 20 years…

    The boundary commission makes periodical piecemeal changes but nothing as significant as this intervention…

  19. Cliff
    “The idea is that the equal size will have a larger mix of town and country voters and thus water down the effect of the small Lab town seats”

    While I can comprehend the Boundaries Commission redrawing boundaries based on the requriement to reduce the overall numbre of MPs, I do not see how the BC can be ‘instructed’ to redraw boundaries to bring about the effect you refer to. Is this not ‘gerrymandering’?

  20. @Eion

    I’m rather surprised at someone claiming “Laissez faire” is a ‘concept embraced by the majority of the United Kingdom’. Do you really think people would be in favour of abolishing food standards agencies, abolishing all state-owned monopolies including the NHS, and of course deregulating the banks?

    Or perhaps you don’t understand what “Laissez faire” is? I remind you that the Economist argued against any form of relief during the Irish Potato Famine as going against “Laissez faire principles”.

    Incidentally, and on the subject of polling… You’re presentation of the “School class choosing preferred forms of PR” is a classic example of taking a suspect data set and pushing it to your own agenda. For a start it’s obviously unrepresentative, and anecdotal. But worse is that AV being the bottom in a list of Proportional Vote schemes, does not at all mean it wasn’t a preferred choice over FPTP! Even if FPTP was on the list, it does not mean it would have beaten AV in a flat choice between the two, simply that the students preferred replacing FPTP with a true PR methods.

  21. @ MIKE N

    I think its a natural occurance from wherever they decide is the starting point, because they aren’t looking at old traditional boundaries, but a new population measurement to get them to the same size.

    So if they start at Lands End or the Centre of London and workout outwards, be it in circles or straight block squares, there will be a higher number of combined Town & Country seats than there are now, as % of seats available. ……….and also two seats one town and one rural/town where their used to be one rural & two town seats

  22. @ Mike N

    ref gerrymandering.

    Logic tells me there are only 3 ways of redrawing the boundaries of small Lab town seats.

    1. If the Lab town seats are geographically grouped together then you could simply reduce the number of seats within the area. They will remain Labour but Lab will have less seats.

    2 If the smaller Lab seat is surounded by country conservative seats and they want to retain the seat, then inevitably to make it bigger you would have to add some of the Con country voters.

    3. Remove the seat altogether and split it up between the surrounding Con seats.

    I am sure any redrawing will have elements of all three, none of them are gerrymandering, but none are to Lab advantage either.

  23. I must stop typing their when I mean there

  24. Cliff
    In your orginal comment you said that that the purpose of the redrawing was to “…water down the effect of the small Lab town seats”. If this is applied it would seem to me to be gerrymandering.

    Your second comment seems to ‘water down’ your original.

  25. @ Jay Blanc

    It depends how you put the question, I suppose, about laissez fair. “Do you think that it’s right that MAFF’s controls put too much burden on honest farmers and food processing companies and this drives prices up?” “Do you think MAFF’s regulatory powers should be reduced?”

    Considering that the two coalition parties argued for removing the bridles from the free enterprise and reducing the welfare state to poverty relief (really, the current suggestions are not very different from the modified Poor Law) and these two parties got 57% (not to mention some of the small parties), it would be difficult to say that the public is not for a version of laissez fair (not to mention the casual remarks among the public about loafers, aliens, etc.). Labour did manage to reduce this inclination, but then it could be washed away quickly with the claim of “economic disaster” and that Labour should apologise for the dire state of the economy (Cameron today)” especially as the elite lined up behind this argument.

  26. John Fletcher
    I imagine (hope) that the BC will apply all of your suggested options as suits the situation without bias.

  27. @MIKE N

    The water down part of my explaination related to the policy,being introduced/ proposed, as it is inevitable that larger equal sized electorates in constituences will effect Lab most, as they gain from having the small in electorate terms consituencies,
    no matter how the BC carry out the changes.

  28. Mike N

    My understanding is that BC try to have the seat boundaries similar to exisiting, county or borough boundaries so the seats also have some form of traditional/historical basis and so that an MP would have to deal with the minimum number of local authorities within his constituency.

    I am sure they will use whichever is the best solution in each case though I do not envy them in their task.

  29. Looking at what Boundary Commissions have to do, I can’t actually see what much more could be done legally to equalise voter numbers per constituency. Effectively it’s the main criterion anyway. The Boundary Commissions also have a requirement to try to match up with local authority boundaries where possible, but I suspect that’s for practicality and also to avoid getting into situations where they might get accused of gerrymandering.

    What also needs to be raised is the question of the reliability of Electoral Registers. Apart from double registration (students and I think second home users), there are all sort of problems especially in areas of high turnover, multiple occupancy etc and of course these also impact on related problems such as postal vote fraud.

    None of this has been helped by the (previous) government ignoring a long list of suggested reforms from the Electoral Commission, which if included will make any reform bill longer, but without which it might not work.

    There’s a lot going on here and I don’t think it’s been thought through.

  30. Roger “There’s a lot going on here and I don’t think it’s been thought through.”

    I agree.

  31. @Laszlo

    Laissez fair policy wouldn’t mean the reduction of welfare state and government regulation… It’d mean the *Abolishment* of such. Remember, Laissez Fair originates in a time before the welfare state, and such things as food safety standards, and was opposition to creating the them.

    And I certainly see few signs of political will to talk about abolishing financial and banking regulations!

  32. @CLIFF

    I hope not. The only benefit I can see to FPTP (though AV and STV also provide this) is the constituency link – you have someone representing the needs of that area. The more heterogenous the area the more heterogenous the needs and wants of the people so the less advantageous the constituency link is.

    The Oxford seats are a good example of this under the current boundaries. Abingdon is VERY different from West Oxford (Tory country town vs LD urban/suburban area) and Temple Cowley is VERY different from Central Oxford (Labour/socialist parties industrial areas and LD urban/suburban areas). You just end up with half the electorate in each area not really being represented in any real sense. I think that putting in country areas to city seats or vice-versa would just make lots of people not really effectively represented in parliament.

  33. Jay Blanc,

    It depends how you define Laissez Faire…

    non interference, letting things run their course on a macro scale for most aspects of policy and governance

    or on an issue by issue basis….

    The Freedom legislation schools hospitals ID cards, DNA, CCTV it all suggests laissez faire

    eg. butt out leave us be please….

    scrapping QCA or FSA (or running them down) however you prefer to view it.. smacks of laissez faire..

    rejection of the target culture, of centralsiation of bearaucracy is all laissez faire…

    yellow and blue promulgated much of this in their manifesto. Between them they got 59% of the vote..

    Add UKIP to that or even some anrachist greens and you’ll find yourself with a majority of the UK in favour of laissez faire :)

  34. @Jay,

    Laissez faire stemed from the early whigs which straddle blue and yellow :) = 59%

  35. The Freedom legislation schools hospitals ID cards, DNA, CCTV it all suggests laissez faire

  36. @Jay

    rejection of the target culture, of centralsiation of bearaucracy is all laissez faire…

  37. scrapping QCA or FSA (or running them down) however you prefer to view it.. laissez faire..

  38. As a guess, if Scotland were reduced by 10% – ie 5 or 6 seats, Labour wouldn’t lose a single seat. LD would lose 4 or 5 & SNP would lose 1 or 2.

    If anybody disagrees, speak up. I am going on the premise that LD & SNP generally win the Scottish seats with the lowest population, relatively speaking.

    Unless there was a big change in the way people vote, Labour would rule the Scottish Parliament forever. ;-)

    I am being a bit cheeky here & using broad-brush assumptions. I am going to delve into this properly over the weekend when I have more time.

  39. Has it been clarified that the BC will, in fact, be in charge of this, or is there a possibility there could be some kind of Commission or Quango tasked with the job?

    Seems to me that there’s a huge difference between tweaking existing BC rules as opposed to a root-and-branch reform.

  40. @Eoin Clarke

    You’re trying to redefine Laissez faire to mean supporting reducing or repealing whatever government function you decide you want to.

    You can’t pick and chose what words mean. Laissez Faire is nothing to do with civil liberty law, and doesn’t conflict with a police state *at all*. In fact, Laissez Faire would mean abolition of the Data Protection Act as impinging on corporations ability to do what ever they want with your personal data.

    Laissez Faire was a 19th century reaction to the precursors to modern regulation and welfare. They were opposed to all government regulation in corporate activities, and only opposed monopoly concerns when it was a government monopoly. They thus opposed all government regulations, such as food safety, financial standards, building and housing standards…

    Yes, it’s a Strict Libertarian’s wet dream to “Return to Government only enforcing Contract Law”… But Laissez Faire is dead, has been dead for over a century, and will not be coming back.

  41. @Amber,

    Broadly speaking, I would agree with you. Unless one of the renfrewshire seats was to go… or an amalgamtion of two glasgow central/east seats…

    but perth, dundee, edinburgh and the islands should not adversely affect reds. They would affect yellows more.

  42. @Jay,

    The ideals behind the ‘big society’ are founded in benthamism among others….

    Utilitarianism I do understand.

    Of course a nineteenth century concept requires modification but I have done so in good faith….. ‘non-inference by the state’ is prevalent in the Queen’s speech today thatcher termed it ‘rolling back the state’ as did Clegg I believe. but yes Jay, it is there….

  43. @Jay,

    Have you considered the philosophical nature of the proposed FSA reforms? Or the new Office of Budgetary responsibility?

  44. Yes, surely Laissez Faire, means “leave to do”.

    Whilst I’m sure no-one is arguing it equates to the 19th century definition completely, there are undoubtedly elements of Laissez Faire about the coalition that weren’t in place under Labour??

    Surely the argument is just semantics? We use the term Laissez Faire in a modern sense after all?

  45. @ Jay Blanc

    It’s a bit far from the topic, apologies Anthony :-)

    If you want Edward’s maximum wage was the first version of the welfare state (in a negative way) – 1348-49. Lawful Begging Act 1531, Residency Law for obtaining relief, along with acts against able bodied beggars 1536, 1572: Act on general tax to fund the care of the poor, 1696: The Workhouse Act, The Poor Law of 1834.

    Now, I admit that laissez fair belongs to capitalism and I cannot project it back, but what is welfare state and what is not is context defined.

    I also don’t think that there is a return to laissez fair in practice, but in ideology it’s not too difficult, and this was my point – just as politicians, the electorate is also interested in ideology (providing that they are not told that they are talking about ideologies). And two of the parties represent this ideology.

    Removing the responsibility of the state of looking after its citizens (or better: help them to look after themselves) is laissez fair (the ideology of this is decentralisation – decentralisation without providing the means to do it), encouraging charities to take over state functions is the same.

    As to the business: this one cannot be clearer, the government proclaimed that it is not responsible for the economic policy.

    I would wait with the banking regulation… The City is not trembling about it as far as I can see…

    It’s not a question of being partizan or not. Some people think it’s the right way for the government to go, some don’t. And at the same time, the government cannot pronounce that it is doing it.

  46. In connection with reducing number of seats, I have yet to read a Tory document on FPTP that explains the rationale behind the move. I’m not saying there isn’t a reasoning, I just have not seen it. Any refs appreciated.

    It’s not a Lib Dem move is it, just a coalition compromise acceptance from them?

  47. @ Jay Blanc

    I want to repeat: there is no way of a practical return to a nice fully fledged liassez fair.

    However, if you read the proclamations of CBI, you cannot say that they don’t match what you wrote:

    “They were opposed to all government regulation in corporate activities, and only opposed monopoly concerns when it was a government monopoly. They thus opposed all government regulations, such as food safety, financial standards, building and housing standards…”

    Oh, the financial reporting system is planned to be eased (it’s been tightened up in the last couple of years), planning permissions ditto, housing standards (I did not think that the latest version was a dream, but) that one goes as well. Opting out of the Social Chapter.

    Actually, the one thing that really could hold this up, and I know it looks like a paradox, if the UK, like Germany, declares that the ECJ’s rulings are not superior to home legislation – because the way ECJ interprets European legislation is laissez fair.

  48. Howard

    Lib Dems had a reduction to 500 in their manifesto, but that was explicitly as part of a whole raft of changes.

    For the Tories I think it was just one of those “it’s unfair so something must be done” reactions, without understanding the situation.

  49. One of the main effects of a reduction in MPs will inevitably be smaller majorities.

    In the US senate a landslide Deomcrat performance did not give them the require control of the chamber (it has 100 members).

    Even in the US lower chamber a degree of bi-partisanship is required to get legislation through

    It will probably promote consensual democracy. This has a tendency to promote a centrist agenda.

    With Primaries on the way for safe seats i wonder if we are heading to being more like the US.

    I have no expressed opinion on whether this is a good or bad thing.

  50. Roger M
    Shows up my bloody ignorance – thanks!

    I don’tt know what their (sorry apparently ‘our’) rationale is either although I could make one.

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