After the long summer drought we finally have a voting intention poll. It’s been almost a month since the last one, during which time we’ve had the ceasefire in Lebanon and, probably more significantly for British domestic politics, the arrests of several suspected terrorists in connection with a plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic.

Despite the positive effect upon John Reid’s standing, as seen in YouGov’s tracker polls, the terror threat certainly doesn’t seem to have caused people to rally round the government – ICM’s latest poll for the Guardian shows the Labour party down by four points. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s poll last month, are CON 40% (+1), LAB 31% (-4), LDEM 22% (+5).

The PA report claims that Labour’s 31% figure is the lowest for 19 years – in fact they did fall as low as 31% in an ICM poll for the News of the World just after the Brent East by-election, but presumably this is based on ICM/Guardian polls. I can’t say more, since I don’t have ICM polling numbers that go back that far! The 40% level of support for the Conservatives is the highest they have recorded in an ICM poll since August 1992 – on a straight uniform swing, it would still leave the Tories slightly short of an overall majority, but a uniform swing is a bit of a fiction anyway, and it will certainly do the Conservatives’ morale no damage to get through the psychological barrier of 40% in the polls.

The big beneficiary though of Labour’s summer decline has been the Liberal Democrats, up five points on last month, putting them back above the 20% level.

On other questions, 72% of people think the government’s policy in the Middle East has made Britain more of a target for terrorists (perhaps explaining the increase in support for the Liberal Democrats, who have criticial of much of the government’s policy in the region). In a separate question 21% of people think that the government has actively exaggerated the terrorist threat.

UPDATE: Earlier on today the BBC’s website was reporting this as “Tories surge ahead, poll suggests”. Presumably someone must have pointed out that a one point increase does not a surge make, since the headline is now “Tories lead grows, poll suggests”, which is more factually accurate, if less grammatically so. They still haven’t beaten the Mirror during the 2005 election, whose headline “Labour surge 5% ahead of Tories” related to a poll that showed the level of Labour support completely unchanged. The Evening Standard meanwhile claims that the poll is “the first time since 1992 that any mainstream poll has put the Conservatives far enough ahead to suggest they could get an overall majority” – MORI, who did so in May, probably won’t be too chuffed to find that the Standard no longer consider them a mainstream pollster!


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