ICM have a new poll out in tomorrow’s Guardian showing Labour in the lead. Topline figures, with changes from ICM’s last poll a month ago, are CON 35%(-2), LAB 37%(nc), LDEM 18%(nc). The poll was conducted directly after Ed Miliband’s conference speech, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This is the lowest any poll from any company has put the Conservatives since the general election, though that’s probably connected to the high Liberal Democrat score. There is a significant spread in Lib Dem support across different pollsters – YouGov tend to show them between 12-14%, the most recent polls from Populus, MORI and ComRes all had the Lib Dems at 14-15%, ICM have them steady up at 18%.

In other findings, concerns about the spending cuts continue to creep upwards 43% said they thought cuts had gone too far as opposed to 37% who think the balance is about right, slightly less supportive since than in July. However, the coalition continues to be trusted more on the economy than Labour – 50% think they are best to ensure a prosperous future compared to 31% for Labour.

On Ed Miliband, 28% think he will move the Labour party to the left, 41% think he will keep it in the centre and 8% think he will move it rightwards.

A final intriguing point was ICM’s question on what people would like to happen at the next election. The overall picture was that 40% wanted a Conservative led government (19% on their own, 21% with the Lib Dems), 39% a Labour led government (26% on their own, 13% with the Lib Dems). The interesting bit was that amongst Conservative voters only 50% wanted the Conservatives on their own, 41% prefered a Con-LD coalition. In contrast, when YouGov have asked the same question they have found 72% of Conservatives would prefer the party to rule alone, 25% prefer the Con-LD coalition.

317 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – 35/37/18”

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  1. Rob S,

    We disagree. :) ‘exclusion’ is not a word i like :) Perhaps it is the itinerant in me :)


    i respect your views on the economy. I make a mental note of all your thoughts and I will be very sure to compare them with the eventual outcome. I would be very happy to be proved wrong on George Osborne. I should point out that I forsaw his tax cutting dtrategy in Apr. 2010 and you all disagreed with me then. But I am being sincere when I say that I hope you are correct.

  2. @ Julian Gilbert

    My dad used to have this great line about George Dubya Bush’s mantra: “It’s about gettin’ government off the backs of business and into the bedrooms instead.”

    I find that most rightwingers (well American rightwingers) are often naive about the role government plays in their lives and in the role of facilitating business and free market capitalism they so cherish. They hate government because they don’t actually know what the government does.

  3. @ Richard

    I don’t think you can forecast ahead to 2012 but at this point, my gut tells me Obama will get reelected and probably handily. Here’s why:

    The U.S. economy is out of recession and has been since June 2009 (when I suspected things were) but we’ve only just found about it. The reaction has been to see the market go up along with Democratic polling numbers and Obama’s as well. If economic growth continues and people start to feel it, he’ll be reelected.

    Also, there won’t be any Republican “austerity” program in 2012 if they win. That’s because while the Republicans scream about the “deficit” there’s nothing substantial that they actually want to cut. Republicans want to extend Dubya’s tax cuts and they don’t want to cut military spending. I don’t see what they’re going to cut. Unlike the UK, the U.S. doesn’t have all these extensive social programs and there aren’t great amounts of direct government assistance that individuals are automatically entitled to. They may claim that but it’s not the reality.

    I would argue that economically, the U.S. is in a similar position that we were in prior to World War II. The Great Depression was over by 1939/1940. The U.S. economy was growing but it was doing so slowly. The war obviously pushed government spending to new extremes and that helped launch furious economic growth. But actually, the real stoy is how the U.S. sustained that growth after the War was over. The government enticed wide scale real estate development, enacted a GI Bill to educate returning soldiers, and built massive infrastructure projects.

    Obama has his own plans for infrastructure rebuilding, green jobs plans, and other development plans. The question is whether he can actually get them passed. And whether people will be feeling the effects by 2012. When Congress comes back after the election, Obama is going to have to work to get his initiatives through and he may start pushing things through Reconcilation in the Senate (he will be forced to depending on how many seats the Republicans win in the Senate).

  4. Roger


    He will be home & dry then-the moment he announces it. ;-)

    Wonder why AD & GB didn’t think of it?

  5. I would decuce that the public is shifting away from the course plotted by the coalition…but isn’t truly convinced that there’s an alternative that floats us safely into the port.

    Any sunstantial fall in coalition lead needs to se set in that context.

    In both 1979 and 1970 Labour statred well in opposition but drifted in the second year into something different. The presence of Wilson helped them mitigate that in the ’74 election….the lection of Foot and the failure to deal with Militant over a 10 year period….convinced the other way in 1983.

    Labour has everything to prove still and this Milliband start hasn’t been great for them…after all as we’ve seen between Blair and Brown and Hesseltine nad Thatcher differences can be fundamentally political rather than ideaoligical and damage a party.

    That said Ireland is a warnig for the colaition one way. No government was prompter in cuts that the Irish govt…now look at tge situation lower growth leading to further cuts…this is a version of the mid-thirties economics played out in new circumstances….Spain and Greece are similar…though there both goverments were slower to cut and have just done the dirty work.

    I genuinely don’t think anyone one knows what the government is headed into. But if things don’t work out as planned I don’t see the coalition lasting. I’d not be surprised to see the LibDems split….especially if AV sinks.

    I think it should be remebered that un popular goverments struggle to get referenda passed…it’s an opportunity to protest vote….an electorates rarely miss an opportunity to kick their goverment…Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Mass.

    There is evertging to play for on both sides. On the coalition side you’ve a shrewd political operator in Cameron…but not a particularly original thinker. In clegg you’ve an oportunists with a resltess wing of his party to manage, in Labour a pleasant enough guy who’s everything to prove…maybe like Thatcher he’ll use the coalitions failures to make weather and change preceptions of ‘centre ‘ground’; maybe like Kinnock he’ll act as a safety vavle for discontened but never seriously challenge for power.

    By this time next year we’ll know so much more…

    Meanwhile i’ll guess the neck and neck race will continue until after Xmas when the ‘cuts’ will start to bite and unemployment rise and the attack on benefits and wages and pensions will alienate some active voters….A labour lead of say 5% in lead up to May elections….but low turnout may double that in effect…

    But this is wild guessing on my part based on past and a gut feeling of how the electorate is feeling. Behind this the nature of the government’s win…does have a qualitave impact that potentially creates a very different outcome….

  6. BTW:

    Milliband is more ruthless than kinnock and maybe than Blair…that business with the chief whip was pretty impressive in the circumstances he was in vis a vis David M. This may smile like a crocodile abut may hunt like one too.

  7. The Times reports that IDS has won his battle to introduce a benefit system based on less components. He has reportedly won enough funds to set it up , including the key feature-phased withdrawal of benefit after gaining paid employment.
    The Times reports IDS is arguing for retention of 60% to 65% for a period-with the guarantee that work will pay better than benefit.

    Anecdote-I heard the other day how HB impacts worklessness. Loss of HB for a family in a large house ,on gaining paid employment can mean that the cost of paying for their own accommodation ( at the same standard) cannot be supported on the pay levels available to them.
    ie The State is supporting a lifestyle which the individual could not support-even when in work.

  8. Colin,

    Thanks for that post. Excellent news and probably the balance tipper in terms of someone nervous about taking on a job and throwing off the safety net (never to be underestimated in its seriousness of contemplation).

    As for Housing Benefit, yes it can be a wrench for some to give up.. if you think thaat the state can cover £5k p.a. in HB £3.5K p.a. in JSA, 0.8K in DLA before you factor in CB, CTC, Carer’s Allowance… you already need the claimant to be earning £12k+ to really make it worth their while… but a 40hr a week job on minimum wage is only c.£10.8K p.a. so you quickly begin to see the problem…

    The threat of removing them from the council house would be a bad one. Private rent is more like £7k p.a. so if they live in that they would need a £15k job just to break even on what the dole can give them…

    That would require c.£7.50 per hour (living wage).

  9. @ John Murphy

    ” I’d not be surprised to see the LibDems split….especially if AV sinks.”

    Total rubbish. There are more splits within Labour and the Tories than within the Lib Dems.

    Dream on….

  10. Reform of benefits is welcome (if done well) but misses the point. If there are no jobs to go to, benefit reform will have limited impact.

    This is the crux of the entire debate. Comparing the contraction to the normal trend growth, the UK economy has lost around 10% of total capacity – the equivalent of the entire financial services sector. Osborne and the IMF think this is fine, and that spending cuts and sluggish growth are the only way to ensure a recovery without inflation.

    Many others point out that todays inflation is historic and largely the result of the 25% devaluation since 2007, and with very limited wage pressures we shouldn’t be worrying about inflation but should fear stagnation instead.

    Martin Wolf in the FT raises an interesting possibility that spending cuts could run parralel to a temporary slashing of taxes to both curb long term govrernment spending while stimulating the private sector economy. If the net result is faster growth with low inflation we get to the same point re the deficit but with a much enhanced economic capacity for the longer term.

    The IMF’s record on austerity is poor. They have wrecked many, many economies with their application of rigid and often flaed monetarism, and they appear stuck in a 1970’s mindset where fear of inflation is the key driver.

    Economists are pretty good at telling you what has happened, but one thing they are dreadful at is spotting when the orthodoxy has changed. This is why they didn’t see the crash coming, and I think that the IMF is making the same kind of error again now.

  11. The best suggestion on unemployment or lack of employment on this site to date has come from Amber…

    While I am in favour of a rather abitrary or blunt wholesale employment of the Labour force in a public house building programme, Amber’s idea of allowing people to reduce their hours rather than lay people off, seems to me to be a good solution…

    As Mandleson said back in Feb. one of the reasons we weathered the first dip quite well is that the workforce’s flexibility was impressive…

    What ever happened the 10 Eco towns Idea? I thought it was one of the most welcome developments…..

  12. Following yesterday’s by elections, it is looking like Labour is gaining from LDs and Cons in the NE heartlands.

    Two seats in the NE showed a swing from the Cons and LDs to Lab of about 8% in safe seats.

    I know two seats don’t make a trend, but the evidence is building that Labour is gaining in the Heartlands, and in these areas where the Cons are barely represented anyway, the LD Opposition to Labour is melting away like snow in the sunshine.

  13. Garry K,

    I really appreciate hearing your local council updates. Please keep them coming. I dont comment on them, simply because I am not informed on them but I do read them attentively…

  14. @Eoin – “What ever happened the 10 Eco towns Idea? I thought it was one of the most welcome developments”

    They disappeared under the weight of oppostion from well heeled country folk opposing developments in their back yards. Some of the opposition was justified, but while I am in general not a fan of major new town style developments, some major housebuilding projects are undoubtedly required, and the eco build concept wasn’t a bad starting point.

  15. “If there are no jobs to go to, benefit reform will have limited impact.”

    This is the crux of the whole debate on the economy, imo.

    Has GO or any other Blue – on here or in parliament – ever been able to say *how* their economic policy is going to create jobs or growth??
    How will the private sector be stimulated by any of their policies?

    I may be being thick or have just missed it but I would love to have it explained. Perhaps some of you good economists on here can help?

  16. I don’t know why you all still rise to Eoin’s “predictions”

    (Best Tory economic figures in 2014 since 2007, Labour needing the Libs for a majority etc.)

    The fact that he’s got most of them wrong and Colin’s posts now always begin with “Good post Eoin” show that he’s taking a very conciliatory approach to posting at the moment.

  17. Alec,

    If we could find some way to link renewables, hosuebuilding and greener automobile technology… we could develop that industry to create an unquantifiable amount of jobs… Unlike Woodsman, I must say I really welcome the benefit reform. Here we have a blue (IDS) that does at least finally get it. The unemployed want to work it just has to pay for it to be worth their while.

    In the 1980s, the closest thing I had to a patriarch in my life was on the dole.. They gave him £27.30 per week paid in fortnightly installments. This was pre JSA. He recieved a letter offering him a job in the local library. £70 p.w. for 40 hours. He would lose his doles obviously, and ‘we’ would be required to pay some rent on our council property. The blues back then, simply did not get it. It made much more sense for him to collect his £54 fortnightly and simply work on the black market for tuppence. That way H.B remained intact and we could make ends meet.

    Left wing theorists need to be more up front about the black market etc… for an honest dicussion to be had on the benefit system… Leo Howe made a good start, but that was a long time ago.

  18. Richard in Norway – “this wasn’t an attempt to woo dem voters, this was an invitation to dance.

    Which is why the red tribilists have decided that ed is a back stabing ungrateful brother”

    No, we gave the Libs no thought in the matter. We rarely do.

  19. Colin – “The story will be tax rises rather than spending cuts.”

    Oh God, now the Certainty Prediction Model (CPM) is catching on!

  20. Eoin – It’s not that I’m not welcoming benefit reform, it’s just that I’m querying what is on the other side. What is there to balance the cuts/reform agenda? It’s a simple question that I’m not sure is being answered…..an open goal that Ed is driving his Balls into? ;-)

  21. Woodsman,

    Yes you are speaking to the converted when it comes to Ed Balls. If he was given the freedom to expand his own economic policy it would be the most refreshing financial governance in my life time. I agree with you 100%.

    But Ed M was right, we need to stop being conservative and become the radical reformers again. In 13 years in power we made piecemeal reforms to beneifts.. they are crudely desinged to suit an old fashioned victorian style family…

    Family in 21st Century Uk means so much more than mammy, daddy and bambino..
    (one of the reasons that a marriage tax break was completely daft)

  22. Sue,

    Your conference blogs were greatly appreciated. It felt like we were all there :) Thanks.

  23. Anthony,

    Can you take a look at this methodology snippet from ICM. Is it standard or does it contain anything different from the pre-May polls? Ta..

    “2. The sample is weighted by demographics (age, sex, tenure etc). However, after
    such weighting the declared past votes may not match, exactly, the results of the
    last election. Partly this is because demographics (by which ICM control the sample)
    are relatively poorly correlated with vote behaviour. Nevertheless past vote
    weighting has to be used with caution as some people genuinely forget how they
    voted. We cannot simply weight the data to the actual results last time.”

  24. The Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI), a highly respected survey, has published its latest findings and has reported that UK manufacturing growth has reached a 10 month low . They are saying that companies have become more cautious in terms of capital spending and that UK manufacturers’ order books are weak. They go on to say that manufacturing grew at its slowest pace for 10 months in September which raises real concerns about the strength of the recovery.

    As someone who works in the manufacturing sector, and who is detecting similar distress signals in our business, I find this news deeply depressing. Since Quarter 4 2009, and for the first half of this year, there was a real recovery underway, but for this reduced capital spend, and weakening consumer demand, to be occurring BEFORE the spending cuts and VAT rise, is extremely worrying. Growth is the key for job creation, increased tax revenues and reduced welfare spending and, ultimately, deficit reduction. To risk the recovery, especially in manufacturing, is to risk all. Cutting public spending at a time of a stagnant, or receding, economy, with private spending, consumer demand and bank lending at very low levels, is the economics of the madhouse.

  25. @SUE MARSH
    Strangely when push comes to shove, Eoin and I are as far apart politically as any two posters on this board. However, Eoin has my complete respect as he clearly has Colins. This does not make him a class traitor. He is a man prepared to see the reality of a situation without trying to kid himself and everyone else. I like to think that I am the same, in this respect at least.

  26. Sue

    “Oh God, now the Certainty Prediction Model (CPM) is catching on!”

    I rather thought that EM had indicated a preference for tax rises, rather than spending cuts.

  27. Housing benefit is the classic example where the best reply is “well, I wouldn’t start from here”. Whatever you do will be expensive and have unintended consequences.

    If you try to reduce it as the coalition is doing, you will end up with families and other vulnerable people being made homeless and having to be housed by the local authority. There’s no council housing so they have to be put in rented property for which HB has to be paid. And so you go on.

    Alternatively people move to areas where rents are lower and are unable to keep their old jobs (extra commuting costs and time) or find new ones. End up costing even more for benefits.

    Rents will not drop because of the chronic housing shortage. If families in particular move out of high rent areas, the resultant low paying jobs will probably be filled by EU or illegal labour – more stress on the housing market. Even introducing rent controls (highly unlikely given the government’s ideological bent) won’t work in a situation of low supply and lax regulation.

    Replacing the 3 million extra homes that local authorities would have built over the last 30 odd years is essential. But even this (and its economy boosting effects) will cause problems if it depresses the value of that most sacred of middle class icon, the house price.

    As I said, I would start from here.

    Incidentally, there was an interesting discussion on welfare benefits on last week’s More or Less:

    ht tp://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00tt6r6/More_or_Less_24_09_2010

    starting about 2 minutes in for 7 minutes. (However the following discussion about the “PM’s salary” should be ignored, as, as usual, they forgot to add in the salary Cameron gets as an MP as well)

  28. Eoin – “What ever happened the 10 Eco towns Idea? I thought it was one of the most welcome developments…..”


    (If the one planned for 4 miles away from me is anything to go by.)

  29. Aaargh! As I said, I would’nt start from here. (It always happens :? )

  30. Roger,

    I am glad you are on. If you get a chance take a look at table 5 of ICM’s poll. There is something very odd in it.

    the LDs have quite a high % of their repsondents preferring eith

    a) A Labour majority gov. (ie not a Lab Lib coalition)
    b) A conservative majority gov. (ie. not a Con Lib coaltiion)

    the total figures are 17% of their voters

    For YG the total LDs wanting this is just 7% of the 12% not as in ICM’s case 17% of the 18%…

    Thus, in mathematical terms a total of 1% of voters of the toal electorate who happen to support the LDs in YG poll do not want their party in gov…

    But for the ICM poll this total figure vis a vis the elctorate overall is between three and four times larger…

    I hope that made sense.

  31. A UK landmark:

    Government borrowing hit £1,000,389,000,000 at the end of March according to the Office for National Statistics .

    It has more than doubled in the past five years

    Interest cost this year is around £40BN-more than the budget Liam Fox is trying to protect.

  32. @ Woodsman, Éoin, Sue

    There is no possibility of Osborne cutting his way to growth. Thatcher/ Major were in power for 18 years & -despite a massive transfer of state assets from the public to the private sector – were unable to cut their way to a bouyant, balanced economy.

    And Éoin thinks Osborne will avoid all that; & the economy will be shaping up nicely by Q4 2014. From that end point, Éoin has worked backwards.

    How can GO possibly achieve this economic miracle? He can’t do it if he makes ‘savage’ cuts. Therefore, Éoin has now convinced himself that GO’s cuts will not be ‘savage’ at all & GO has been ‘playing to the gallery’.

    Well, we shall know soon enough. 8-)

  33. The findings in the ICM poll show that only 66% of the LDs want their party to be in government. The rest either Don’t Know or would much prefer it if the Tories or Labour were in power.

    66% of The 18% overall figure would leave it that 12% of the LDs as a proportionate of the electorate, want to be in gov. Entirely, coinicdentally, that happens to be the 12% afforded to yellows by YG.

  34. Amber,

    Convinced is the wrong word. If you check back on the Geddes Axe it did not swing nowhere near as much…. These benefit reforms are likely to cost more to DWP not the 25% or 40% less that if often touted per- dept,

    Their £5bn recoup from fraud claimants will not materialise…

    If you go through it dept. by dept. 25% seems unlikely in them all bar communities- and its budget is tiny

  35. Amber – I was going to say “If he’s been playing to the gallery, what will the gallery think when he backtracks to the AD model of deficit reduction?”

    Then I remembered the stunning turn-around on “austerity” to tax cuts (NI) pre-election and realised the blues will simply nod sagely, then pretend it was always part of the plan.

    I think there was a (blue) suggestion earlier that EM might have changed his tune a little here an there. Even that he might spend a year or two saying what people want to hear a la Cameron!

    Pot, kettle and black I think

  36. @ Éoin,

    Governments want to be re-elected more than anything else! I am agreeing with you; GO can’t do what the press are saying & have any hope of the government being re-elected in 2015.

    You are pursuing this to its logical conclusion. He can’t – therefore he won’t. ;-)

  37. @ Sue
    ….the blues will simply nod sagely, then pretend it was always part of the plan.
    Indeed – the yellows will claim they exerted their influence; & the blues will concede that they worked to find a solution which was an acceptable compromise.

    Be prepared – that could be the scenario which Labour activists have to work around, come January 2015.

  38. I’ve been waiting expectantly for the fist mention of ‘UKplc’. The Forum of Private Business have used it in a press release, saying:

    ““Put simply, the UK’s economy – ‘UK plc’ – should be run more like a small business…”

    Hs anyone spotted an earlier mention since the GE?

    How long before ‘UKplc’ becomes a Con mantra again?

  39. @AMBER/SUE
    I really hope Eoin’s dire predictions are wrong too. But they’re useful. It’s just as well to prepare ourselves for the worst.
    A scenario where the Tories predict dire cuts, then trumpet that the economy is doing so well under their leadership that such drastic cuts are no longer necessary followed by a give away budget just before the next election is entirely possible, isn’t it?
    We reds need to be prepared for that scenario.

  40. @ Colin

    Interest cost this year is around £40BN-more than the budget Liam Fox is trying to protect.
    That’s outrageous. You’d think those wealthy bankers, hedge funds & financial institutions could give the UK interest free loans – after all, defence of the realm is the most important thing. ;-)

  41. @Robert C

    I respect your expertise…And the Catholic in me always admires the certainty of faith..in others.

    I’m sure your correct to beleive the cohesive power of the political philosohpy of Liberal Democrats will weather any storm of unpopularity brought about by the unreasonable pressure events. After all we are talking about the heirs to Asquith and Lloyd George, aren’t we? And there’s nothing in the recent history of the party to imply that from David Owen through to Menzies Campbelli that might lead one to assume its ever been subject to the ordinary politcal pressures of naked personal ambition.

    Living in a political world untainted by tawdry vices of the rest of us is a blessing indeed.

    I’ll wait upon events.
    I suspect when the going gets tough for Mr Clegg the knives will be out. Wasn’t it Jeremy Thorpe who once said greater love no man can show than to lay down his freinds for his life. ( a prophetic comment – made in the context of the so called night of long knives?)

  42. Eoin

    The samples sizes are pretty small of course, so it may just be random variation, but answer option order may come into it. ICM gives a Labour gov as an option second, YouGov as fourth. Some respondents may have answered “yes” to “Labour” when they meant “Lab-Lib Dem” on ICM (most of the difference is the Lab-Lib Dem option being less).

    ICM may rotate the answer options – their methodology section still says the last GE was 2005, so it may not be up to date.

    Respondents may also be less willing to go back and change a wrong response on a phone poll (ICM) than with a question on a screen. But as I said, it could just be random.

  43. @Nick Hadley

    A potential/probable collapse in the manufacturing sector should stimulate comments from VC.

  44. @John Murphy

    Great post and funny too.

  45. john Murphy
    As with Mike N

  46. Roger Mexico
    Spot on with Housing Benefit

  47. Julian,

    Check this article out if you get a chance. Amber you might enjoy it also. I get a lot of stick for predictions.. they are entirely my own opinion, simply that, and they are always formed in good faith. As for being wrong. Aint we all wrong, all of the time?

    h ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/david-cameron/8024458/David-Cameron-will-cut-middle-class-tax.html

  48. @colin

    “Debt has more than doubled in the past five years/ Interest cost this year is around £40BN-more than the budget Liam Fox is trying to protect.”

    Damn those bankers, dealers, traders and investment ‘managers’ who created the worst depression for almost a century leading to collapsing tax revenues and increased public spending to save their skins and that of the entire global economic system.

    They should be paying extra taxes and charges for the next decade (at least).

  49. I think it is juvenile and unimaginative to build your tax policy around banker and millionaire bashing. ‘We’ the people would support paying more taxes. Tax us GO – please! :)

  50. Eoin
    On Republic of Ireland, I don’t disagree with much of what you say but
    1. Remember just how much Ireland has relied on financial services and linked construction. No amount of growth in anything else can substitute.
    2. For tax, Ireland has also relied on stamp duty being I think unique in the eu in having no property tax.
    3. Low corporation taxes have been a central plank in Ireland’s business policy much admired by Osborne and Salmond. But germany doesn’t like it and will not help ever unless another minimum 10% added. Britain can put the boot in whenever it feels like it

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