There are three new polls out tonight.

ICM in the Guardian have topline figures of CON 39%(-1), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 16%(nc). Changes are from the ICM/News of the World poll yesterday so, as you’d expect, there are no significant changes. This does confirm the lowest Lib Dem score from ICM since the election wasn’t just a freak result though.

Interestingly in yesterday’s ICM poll 2 of those 16 percentage points for the Lib Dems were from the re-allocation of don’t knows – only 14% of people said they’d vote Lib Dem, the rest was people who said don’t know who ICM re-allocated according to how they voted at the last elecion. Of course, it doesn’t follow that the same applies to this one!

Moving to questions about the cuts themselves, 48% of people thought cuts went too far, 44% thought they were right or didn’t go far enough (36% and 8% respectively). 52% thought that the cuts were unfair, compared to 44% who thought they were fair.

Meanwhile Populus in the Times (£) has topline figures of CON 37%(-2), LAB 38%(+1), LDEM 15%(+1). Changes are since Populus’s last poll in mid-September. This is the first time Populus have shown a Labour lead since the election-that-never-was in 2007, though ICM, YouGov and Angus Reid have all shown more recent Labour leads and BPIX had one at the weekend. Looking at the spending review questions in Populus’s poll 58% thought the effects of the cuts would be unfair, a majority (but no actual figure) said that the cuts are too large.

While on the face of it the voting intention figures look somewhat conflicting, with trends apparently in opposite directions, I think the polling picture from the spending review is still pretty consistent. Nothing here conflicts with my conclusions yesterday – support or opposition to the cuts seems quite well balanced or even slightly positive; there is roughly even balance between people thinking cuts are too deep or about right/too shallow; people see the cuts as unavoidable and more Labour’s fault than the coalition. On the more negative size for the government, the polling suggests most people think the cuts are too fast, and across the board the polls are showing that people see the cuts as being done in an unfair way.

And voting intention? While the changes in ICM and Populus are in different directions, they are within the margin of error and looking at the broad spread of polls from different companies my impression is that there is a slight tightening – with a couple of polls showing Labour ahead, and YouGov’s daily tracker showing the Conservative lead dropping from 4 points or so to just one, I think the spending review may have led to a genuine narrowing in the polls.

Third poll tonight will be YouGov’s normal tracker in Sun at 10pm.

UPDATE: YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 11%. That’s the first time YouGov have shown Labour catching the Tories since the end of the Labour conference.

213 Responses to “New ICM and Populus polls”

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  1. Eoin

    “Forgive my ignorance guys, but may I ask what you guys are building over there? Is it big?”

    Biggest :-

    LOndon-Bhm HSR
    E & W coast mainline
    Mersey Bridge
    Humber Bridge
    POrt facilities for offshore wind.

    Total £10bn roads/£14 bn rail/£6bn other =£30 bn.

    That is Government spend-leveraged to £200bn by private sector spend according to National Infrastructure Plan announced by DC a few days ago.

  2. As a PS let me add, this is not a Tory with the hump about the numbers. As stated ad nauseam, I expected the coalition to be some way behind by now. And to stay there for another 18 mths or 2 years. Therefore, I am not disappointed, just bemused.

  3. Colin,

    Thanks for that. :) I saw Dc’s comments- for ever pound the state puts in he reckons the private will put in 6 times that.. I wonder…

  4. @Eoin
    The article from your link backs up your point about bad weather backlog.

    “The construction sector grew particularly strongly at 4%, the data showed, thanks in part to a backlog of work that had been postponed from the beginning of the year due to bad weather.”

    The graph from the National Institue of Economic and Social Research has an interesting footnote:

    “After 16 years of growth, the collapse of the US housing market and a banking crisis caused the credit markets to freeze and started the first recession of the 21st century, which lasted for 18 months.”

    Surely NIESR will have to withdraw such an outrageous claim as we know whose fault it is don’t we ? ;)

  5. Hooded Man

    “Construction was about 0.25% of the 0.8%. So not ‘most’.”

    Construction was 0.4 of Q2’s +1.2-so Q3 construction looks more “normal”

  6. Eoin,

    Here are the links for Q3 and Q2
    Sector growth and the contribution to overall growth are in there.
    I don’t have exact £ numbers so I can’t take you to the decimal points you crave ;-)

    ht tp://

    ht tp://

  7. Hooded- I bet you could ! :)

  8. Hooded/ Clin,

    At a very crude calcualtion I estimate that construction responsible for a third of the growth in Q2 and a third of the growth in Q3. Hooded is being a cheeky monkey :)

  9. Colin,

    indeed, more normal.
    To be picky it was between 0.5 and 0.6% of the Q2 number after revisions.
    Growth was less than half in Q3 v Q2 so impact on total similarly reduced, hence 0.25%

    See links above to Eoin.

  10. Colin/Hooded,

    Housing construction is accounting its highest rate of growth since 1980. Thus, colin in particular is being a wee bit hasty heraled growth as none housing bubble linked :) You two are foot loose and fancy free I can tell ya… My slow mathematics might take me a while but I’ll catch up :)

    h ttp://

  11. FRom Stephanie Flanders :-

    “….. today’s preliminary estimate suggests that the UK economy is now 2.8% bigger now than it was a year ago. They also suggest that the UK has been growing, on average, at an annualised rate of roughly 3.2……
    the strongest sectors have been construction, distribution, hotels and restaurants, and business and financial services. If the figures are right, output in the construction industry is now 11% higher than it was a year ago; the distribution sector is up 3.2%; and business and financial services have grown by 2.9%.

    Interestingly, government and other public services have grown by just 1.1% over the past year, though remember that this does not cover all of the ways that government supports the economy;…….the gap between spending and revenues, before debt interest, has fallen by more than 3% of GDP in the past 12 months By that measure, fiscal policy has tightened more in the past 12 months than in any single year of the government’s plan. But somehow, the economy has managed to grow by 2.8%, roughly its long-term trend rate……There is still plenty to worry about in this recovery: much of it beyond our shores, and beyond the government or the Bank of England’s control. But for today at least, I think we’re allowed to join the cabinet in a sigh of relief. ”

    Pretty fair.

  12. Eoin,

    Cheeky? What?
    Read the links

    q2 you need to go to about page 17 of 46.
    0.6% out of 1.2%
    it’s a close run thing but the ONS just pips for credibility ;-)

  13. Hooded,

    thansk for the links 0.55 of growth in Q2 = construction
    0.25 of growth in q3 = construction

    31% of growth in Q3 = construction
    46% of growth in Q2 = construction

  14. Eoin, exactly what I said all along.

    Footloose? Fancy free? Cheeky monkey?

    Humble pie for you sir….

  15. Hooded Man

    Great links

    I always struggle to find the right one on Nat Stats website.

    I think the sectors are far too crude & uninformative.

    I would really like to see a breakdown of construction , to get a feel for where the spend is .

  16. Seeing as all three main parties either are in or were recently in power, if things go south now or the cuts bite harder than expected, there may well be a small swing to others. Trouble is, which of the others? Detecting it might be difficult due to the fiddly nature. Or else people will go for “don’t know”.

  17. Hooded, Colin is more footloose- i had you as the cheeky monkey :) But yes I was wrong, your figures are kosher.. So sorry, while I consume some humble pie :)

    Do you turst Q3 construction figures? bearing in mind you though Q2’s were suspect..

  18. Between Q2 and Q3, the pace of

    Construction growth more than halved
    Production growth declined by 40%
    Agriculture went into negative
    Services unchanged on the the quarter

  19. Colin, I think it’s possible to get the breakdowns. I’ll have a look for you later – on iPhone at moment so trickier to find the detail you want.

  20. HM

    much obliged


    “footloose” ? Que ?

  21. Eoin

    “Thus, colin in particular is being a wee bit hasty heraled growth as none housing bubble linked ”

    I don’t think so at all Eoin.

    I based that comment on the latest mortgage stats:-
    People aren’t trading houses much.

    And we are certainly not building them.

    THese construction figures must be industrial.

    But I would like to know more about them-is it shiny new LA headquarters on the taxpayer-or Commercial/Industrial investment-or direct Government infrastructure spend ?

    Whatever-it sure ain’t housing.

  22. Colin,

    I posted you a link upthread.. a lot of the construction growth is apparently coming from housing- they say it is at its highest since 1980. This does not contradict your data on bridges etc..b ut it does suggest that growth continues in part to be linked to housing :) Footloose is not a term of abuse by the way :)

  23. @COLIN
    Hi Colin, re your 11.51 comment. It seems now as if the opposition (including the Labour Party) led by the BBC, will need a new narrative. The Double Dip was as good as with us first thing this morning until the announcement of 08% growth. How do you see their reaction to this “bad news”? Also the Times story about Labours own view of its economic policy presentation will not be helpful. Of course if the boot was on the coalition foot, there would be roaring and cheering from certain posters on the board. However, in my view unless the coalition really make an issue of the matter, it will not sink into the consciousness of many.

  24. colin,

    “Private home-building rose 22 percent on the quarter and 9 percent on the year, while private commercial work was up 5 percent on the quarter but down 3 percent on the year. Gains were even more marked in publicly funded work. Public home-building rose 11 percent on the quarter and 62 percent on the year — giving the highest total public housing construction output since the second quarter of 1980. “

  25. Eoin,

    I have never regarded them as ‘suspect’. They are correct. But the quarter to quarter phasing was skewed from the norm by ‘force majeure’. Inevitably some of that will have knocked onto Q3 as well

    the other way to look at it is excluding construction
    Q1 +0.25%
    Q2 +0.65%
    Q3 +0.55%

    So Q3 still looks pretty strong.

  26. So, Q3 is attributable to the Lab gov.

    And I note that “…fiscal policy has tightened more in the past 12 months than in any single year of the government’s plan.”

    Again, we can say that it is mostly attributable to Lab.

    All this gives the lie to claims that the Lab gov were incompetent, IMO.

    But dunno how it will affect VI.

  27. Hooded,

    forigve me, Colin called Q2 growth figures ‘suspect’ Neil A called them ‘abnormal’ I am conflating blues :)

  28. The deep recession that we slowly emerged from at the back end of 2009 was, in many respects an untypical, non-cyclical one. It had many unusual features that differentiated it markedly from the 1981 and 1990 “home cooked” and largely cyclical recessions. Firstly, and this is the interesting thing from a voter reaction point of view, it was relatively pain-free, certainly if you retained your job, which most of us did thankfully, with unemployment levels never reaching the peaks of the previous two recessions. Low inflation (unlike 1981 and 1990), record low interest rates (unlike 1981 and 1990), and far fewer home re-posessions and bankrupties were strange, rather contradictory features, too. Secondly, it was a global recession that made it difficult for us to export our way out of it, despite the sterling devaluation that took place. In many ways, with credit drying up due to the failure of the banking system, this explained its longevity, but also its relative lack of depth (1990 was shorter but deeper, although many businesses, including ours, didn’t replenish their order books to pre-1990 levels until four years later. It was the only time in my 33 years in the business where we had to make compulsory redundancies too. With negative equity biting hard due to high interest rates and the popping of the property price bubble, it was a recession that had bit hard in a number of ways that the 2008/09 one didn’t.) The political genius of Cameron and Osborne, however, is to get most of the electorate to forget all that and become obsessed instead with the deficit that, in many ways, was the very budgetary tool that assuaged the full ravages of the recession. To allow that to happen was Gordon Brown’s biggest and most serious political failure. The coalition have also very cleverly made an economic calamity caused entirely in the private sector to become a crisis of the public sector. It’s Labour’s challenge now, if it can, to halt and then slowly reverse that narrative.

    A last thought. We now have an economic recovery of sorts well underway, but I wonder, a little like Obama is finding in the US, if it turns out to be a jobless recovery (quite possible in these extraordinary economic times) whether there is any inviolable guarantee that the incumbent government will reap the political credit, either now, or in the long, winding years to come.

  29. Anecdote alert but my crane operator mate has been in/out of work during the last two years and his experiences have mirrored the construction industry. If the cranes are idle so is the whole industry.There was another uncertain period over the summer but he has now found a longer term contract (1-2yrs). Interestingly his new site is a housing development rather than his previous work on the big projects like the Olympics.

    FWIW Paragon were the major buy-to-let lender and has re-surfaced with its first mortgage package for 18 months.
    I think that the effect of the uncertainty brought about by the CSR has not been considered enough. Individuals may still remain cautious but some companies may feel that they can now proceed

  30. ICM’s tables for the guardian are up.

    Of the voters who voted yellow in May 2010 [as a proportion of the overall electorate]

    2.4% would now vote blue
    4.8% would now vote red
    9.6% would still vote yellow
    0.72% would vote green
    4.8% don’t Know what they’d do

    That 9.6% is suspciiously close tot eh figure YG accord yellow.

    This is also clear evidence that reds gain much more from yellow disafection than any other party. [although Greenies do ok :) ]

  31. Eoin –

    And looking at the ICM tables, the topline adjustment of re-allocating don’t knows again boosted the Lib Dems by 2 points from 14% to 16%.

    At least we can be certain of one of the contributory factors to the difference in Lib Dem score between the different pollsters, although obviously there must be other factors too.

  32. Anthony,

    Yes that is 1 of them.
    The other I am sniffing at but to no avail is the % of people randomly contacted willing to admit they were once ever a yellow. In my more insane moments, I have a good mind to phone 1000 randomly myself, althoug I fear Neil A’s crew would come looking me. The bottom line is that the yellows ICM do get the hold of must be made of strong stuff.

    On every sub question YG ask a yellow for example “do you like George Osborne hair”, the % of telephone respondents willing to say his hair is cool is higher than a online respondent. I have not yet grasped the significance of this but I do nonetheless smell a rat.

  33. Eoin

    Yes-thanks for the housing links/quotes.
    They were re Q2.
    My comment was re Sept mortgage data & Q3 GDP


    “How do you see their reaction to this “bad news”?

    Well have just seen AJ comparing Q3 with Q2-which is obviously his best line of attack. Who but anoraks knows what the GDP figures are-let alone how much Q1/Q2 construction phasing there was ?

    He sounded a bit like a doommonger to me-that would be my reaction I think-but then I’m biased I suppose…..& they used to accuse Cons of “talking down the economy”!-what goes around….

    I think ordinary folk will react to their own circumstances-& that means their job situation not what AJ or GO say on tv.

    Its encouraging that the economy is growing & the private sectror is creating jobs -but 2011/2012 is crunch time for me.

  34. *every sub question ICM ask a

  35. The point AJ is making that the severity of the CSR cuts could damage growth. A slower pace of cuts would be beneficial.

    This gov needs to set out its Plan B in case of problems, instead of adopting some machismo and ideological approach. As it stands, the gov could be accused in being inflexible.

    Will Cs, Lds or Lab benefit in VI from these Q3 figures?

  36. Mike N,

    They’ll take until tomorrow to seep in I reckon. LDs might benefit from Vince’s outburst, From Clegg’s capping, or from Pension proposals. I count 3 good stories for yellow 2 good stories for blue, nothing for us.

    YG will in my view show blue 4% point lead tonight. 43% blue 39% red (remember any yellow recovery hurts reds twice as much)

  37. The tables for both ICM:

    ht tp://

    and Populus:

    ht tp://—October-2010.pdf

    are now up. Eoin can stop worrying about the love for yellow that dare not speak its name – ICM actually had to weight down the numbers of May GE Lib Dem voters they found (see pdf page 15).

    As usual lots of interesting stuff (both show public/private sector splits).


    Anyway, enough of this rubbish, who is going to win X FACTOR ?

    YouGov even has a poll for you:

    ht tp://

  38. The City doesn’t seem overjoyed by the growth figures announced earlier today. As at 1.30pm, the FTSE was down almost 70 points.

    Strange bunch aren’t they, or will they claim to know something we don’t?!? Or can I be semi tongue in cheek here and say that daily moves in the stock market are about as meaningful, or significant, as daily fluctuations in public opinion polls some 54 months away from a General Election?

  39. I was pleased to see the that the usual suspects have *not* danced on the head of a pin over the CSO growth estimate. We have had an ’emergency budget’ and a ‘draconian’ CSR but in fact nothing has happened yet. It was all so urgent yet nothing is going to happen before January (VAT hike) or, for many other proposals, years ahead.

    The polls thus reflect the real confidence level. Nick Hadley superb summary shews us the way.

  40. @Nick – It’s not the FTSE that you need to look at, but sterling and the gilt market. Both of which are enjoying a fine day indeed. Possibly due to a credit agency also upgrading us from “Negative AAA” to “Stable AAA”.

    All in all, it’s been a good day for the coalition.

  41. THe Q3 GDP numbers has the inflation hawks out.

    Sentance calling no more QE / Interest rate rises.

    This is like watching one of those plate balancing acts , with GO trying to tweak all the wobbly sticks……………..and Labour screaming , that ones coming off, that ones falling.

  42. There won’t be any interest rate rises yet, due to consumer spending being in the doldrums, and the VAT increase in the new year.

    Until the consumers are spending, the rates have to remain low. If interest rates go up, people will stop spending altogether and thus stagnate the entire economy.

  43. @Nick Hadley

    The somewhat contorted logic is that the better than expected figures mean that another round of QE will be delayed/cancelled so bad for assets including shares but good for the pound which has had a decent rise. Strange but true.

  44. Nick Hadley

    “The City doesn’t seem overjoyed by the growth figures announced earlier today. As at 1.30pm, the FTSE was down almost 70 points.”

    THe FTSE is not an indicator of UK economic prospects.

    The index consists entirely of companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange, but there is nothing particularly British about many of these companies.
    more than 70% of the profits of the companies that make up the top 100 share index come from abroad.

    This is the story of the emerging marketsin south Asia and India in particular, but South America and eastern Europe as well-and the decline of UK industrial activity

  45. Nick there has been intense currency speculation today but a glance at the various charts will identify it as just that. It looks to me from the longer trend that the US is still trying to live off the backs of the rest of us as Ted Heath pointed out 30 years ago.

    Not much British politicians can do about that and I suppose the floating voters will just plan another trip to Disneyworld (Florida not France that is).

  46. Roger,

    Ahhh but what of the “we once agreed with Nick but damned if we are ever going to admit it”. Remember that new found love has no loyalty strings attached to it!

  47. “…but good for the pound which has had a decent rise…”

    So, bad for exports then?

  48. Catching up from an earlier part of the thread, I do know public sector workers who have lost their jobs, almost all TAs and all cleaning staff in my school, we had a fall of £100 000 in the bugdet from last year and this looks to fall significantly further next year.

    Looking at the graphs of this recession shows that it was deeper than any since the thirties yet as Nick said individuals and communities were protected. This was done by the state intervention that run up such a defiict.

    I wonder if the public were asked which they would prefer the deificit or mass unemployment a la earlier 80s which would they choose, mind you I do often share some of Roland’s bemusement at the way the “public” think.

  49. MikeN

    “So, bad for exports then?”

    Yes-but timescale is key.

    Back in 2008 we had £/$1.9
    Today £/$ 1.5 to 1.6

    Thats an export assist of some magnitude.

    And look at the forward forecasts for 2011-down to £/$ 1.3 to 1.4-based mainly on our continued low interest rates.

  50. Mike N,

    “So, bad for exports then?”

    I hope you’re not trawling for negatives ? ;-)

    Over half of UK exports go to the Eurozone. The pound/euro rate is still hovering around 6 month lows and until this morning was only a couple of cents above 12 months lows. Still favourable currency conditions for exporting……

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