ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian, conducted after this week’s budget, has the Conservatives back ahead – CON 37%(+2), LAB 36%(-2), LDEM 16%(-2). Changes are from their February poll, before both the budget and the intervention in Libya.

This is the first poll to show a Conservative lead since December, and the first time ICM have done so since October. I will add the caveat I always offer when a poll shows something unusual or unexpected, that it may just be an outlier and we should wait to see it confirmed. Having said that though, YouGov’s polls this week have also shown a post-budget, post-Libya movement back to the Conservatives. The two companies actually have the Conservatives at the same level of support – 37% – the difference is in Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with ICM continuing to show the Liberal Democrats at a much higher level than other companies, and consequentially showing Labour lower.

Looking at the rest of the poll, ICM also found a significant movement of support in favour of the scale of the government’s cuts. While 35% people still think the cuts go too far, this is down from 45% in November. 28% think the balance is about right, and 29% think the cuts are not severe enough, up by 15 points since November. That last figure here is particularly startling – suggesting a third of people would like even bigger cuts. Compare it to YouGov’s regular trackers on whether the cuts are too deep, too shallow or about right. YouGov too have shown the proportion of people thinking the cuts are too deep falling (down to 44% from 51% a month or two back), but they only find 9% thinking the cuts aren’t big enough.

Heading back to the ICM poll, on the budget itself, the biggest chunk of ICM’s respondents (48%) think it will make no difference to the economy, of the rest those thinking it will help the economy outnumber those thinking it will hurt it by 9 points. Finally on the cuts in fuel tax 21% think the measures in the budget were about right, 4% say they went too far, 70% say they didn’t go far enough.

90 Responses to “ICM show 1 point Tory lead – CON 37, LAB 36, LD 16”

1 2
  1. Amber

    Always sad that people think that “Britain” has “an” NHS, when Britain has three , and the UK four.

    In only one of them are patients charged for prescriptions.

  2. @ Old Nat

    ““Travelling hopefully” over a cliff or into a minefield, just because the leader has decreed that he has a really good map, seldom leads to a good outcome.

    I’d like to say that such behaviour is “lemming like” – but lemmings are far wiser than party tribalists.”

    Just because someone knows the best road to travel doesn’t mean that they can neccessarily lead their party down that road.

  3. @ Eoin

    Whenever you get a moment, check out this article and let me know what you think:

    h ttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/opinion/24kristof.html?_r=4&hp

  4. As for this poll, I think it matches up with the last YouGov poll that showed Labour in the lead in terms of the trend. There’s a small trend to the Tories.

  5. SoCalLiberal

    But the tribalists will follow their leader down any road – that is why they are such dangerous people.

    Did we not discuss before the Milgram research applied to political followers?

  6. Wow, all this ‘fury’ over the £2bn oil levy.

    It’s as if the recent £500bn bailout of Edinburgh-based RBS and HBOS never happened. A bailout that is 92% funded by the rest of the UK.

    How much would Scotland have to pay if the repayments of the entire bailout were laid at Holyrood’s door as the likes of Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Portugal have to do?

    £25bn a year on the interest alone?

    That is a mighty whack when the expected profit from the stock buy-out is only expected to be £6-10bn in total.

    Oldnat, that the SNP have only made, at best, a symbolic protest about the levy, can we lay this “stealing from Scotland” nonsense to bed now and return to more relevant matters?

  7. Steve

    If you had bothered to more than scan a few words, you might just have realised that my posts referred to the effect of an aspect of the Budget that has huge importance in the upcoming election – and specifically to its effect on the LDs and their perception of its effect on their vote.

    That is a relevant issue for a site devoted to political polling.

    Your sad wee rant is not.

  8. @ Old Nat

    “But the tribalists will follow their leader down any road – that is why they are such dangerous people.

    Did we not discuss before the Milgram research applied to political followers?”

    I forget what the Milgram research is again.

    As to political tribalists who will follow their leader down any path…..I’m sympathetic because I’ve been there. You know. I’ve supported some losing campaigns and voted for some candidates who pretty much everyone knew was going to lose. And it’s pretty miserable. But as I once said about a candidate “if I don’t vote for him, who will?”

  9. @ Steve

    “Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds TSB and HBOS will have a total of £37bn injected into them.”

    From where do you get a £500bn bailout of RBS & HBOS?

  10. @ Steve

    That is a mighty whack when the expected profit from the stock buy-out is only expected to be £6-10bn in total.
    £10bn on a £37bn investment? 27% isn’t too shabby.

  11. @ Old Nat

    “Another Scots LD MP rebels over the oil levy”

    Thanks for that link (explains the controversy over it). What would happen if they all did? Could Osborne be blocked from enacting the tax? Who would be affected by this fuel tax? Would oil producers simply pass it off to consumers by raising gas prices?

  12. SoCalLiberal

    LD MPs outwith Scotland are not likely to be concerned, and even if all the non-payroll LD Scots MPs vote against it, it’ll make no difference.

    To give you some idea of the monies involved, the oil and gas industry’s tax bill for the next financial year is expected to be £13.4billion, compared with £8.8billion this year.

  13. Amber

    I don’t usually bother engaging in the “Scottish Banks” thingie because it’s just another “what if” argument.

    Steve’s argument only makes some sense (after you have removed the nonsense) on the basis that Scotland became independent immediately before the banking crisis.

    Any later than that and we are in the current situation that the UK has a shared debt/assets which need to be shared appropriately.

    Any earlier than that, and all the tax revenues generated by RBS and HBOS would have accrued to the Scottish Exchequer instead of the Westminster one.

    So (except in one “bad luck” scenario) Steve’s comments are just naive repetitions of partisan arguments.

  14. @ Old Nat

    I don’t usually bother either, but £500bn was just too out there to let it sail by. ;-)

  15. I don’t believe that such a large swing is possible. This leaves the alternative that either YouGov’s methods are fundamentally flawed or ICM are flawed, or both.

    I’m inclined to believe that ICM are flawed. The 16 percent for the LibDems in this one looks decidedly odd and their figure of 18 percent in February looked even more peculiar.

  16. How wrong could I be.

    I thought it would be 2012 before the Tories stood any chance of getting close to a led in any of the polls. Great job by the two Ed’s. :D

    What is becomming clear is that those who are dependent on the state for jobs, benefits etc feel, unsurprisingly, that the cuts are to much to fast.

    However the majority who are not dependent on the state can live with the present cuts, or want more.

    Since the number of public sector employees is going to go down I cannot see the anti cuts support increasing.

    Today’s rally and similar action will only go on to confirm to the majority, that those protesting are just protecting their own position. IMO.

  17. Will the reduced winter fuel payments, not mentioned in the budget speech, but subsequuently coming to light, have any effect?

  18. More tiresome comments here from Labour supporters about what they think ought to be the results of opinion polls.

    Hey guys, we are talking about what the polls ARE, not what you would like them to be.

    @Keith P

    “If we assume that this extra 6% really have gone over to Labour then we still have a healthy Labour lead and nothing much has happened apart from an upward bob in the Conservative vote”

    Why should we assume anything of the sort? Why can’t I assume that all the Yougov polls are massively understating LD support?

    While the initial 18% from ICM was almost certainly a freak of sampling, when you get a second poll showing 16%, combined with some uplift in the Yougov to 11% then you have to conclude that LD support is somewhere in between – say 13% to 14%. Compared to our historic record between elections, that is fairly good. Under the circumstances of massive (totally necessary cuts) and a very difficult economic inheritance PLUS serious pressure on living standards from rising commodity prices, then it is frankly, a bit of a miracle it is not MUCH lower.

    I think people can see that: taxes have been raised on rich people; middle and higher income earners are paying more; lower income earners are being taken out of tax entirely; the cuts are necessary in the context of a huge debt problem and are not just targeting the poor. Instead, everyone is facing some of the pain. That is why the cuts have gained broad consent of over half of the population.

    The reason why Labour’s support is soft is because [Ed Miliband – AW] has yet to start doing any of the “heavy lifting” in terms of what Labour is actually “for”. Saying you are against cuts is a posture, rather than a policy. With a rating of minus 13, I think his leadership is at the core of this problem. Plus also, I can’t imagine many people finding Ed Balls especially engaging when they see him on TV. I have to say, like us Lib Dems, Labour will not be going into the next election with the same leader as it has now.

  19. @Robert,

    I think you’re reading too much into one poll. I suspect that ICM have by chance stumbled on an unrepresentative sample.

    What I think we can say is that those in the Labour party who think they can just just sit back and wait for their lead to hit 15%, and for the LDs to implode, may have to get their thinking caps on.

    I think if the agenda switches back to cuts and domestic economics, Labour will rise again, and eventually the agenda is bound to do that.

  20. It should be a relatively easy job for someone to come into the position as Labour leader after being in opposition for 15 years, many people have forgotten what happened last time they were in power, there’s just been a serious recession (although not as bad at the current one) and the tired, discredited incumbent is led by someone not very effective.

    That’s not really the situation Ed Miliband faces, no wonder things are not so easy and their lead does not go ballistic to 20%+ unless the government makes a complete botch of things. Instead the best policy is a long game and at the moment to see what happens, be critical of the government where necessary, otherwise keep quiet. It worked for David Cameron.

    Being miles ahead now isn’t going to win an election on its own.

  21. @ Robert C

    Well said Robert about looking at what the polls are rather than what we like it to be. Shame you then completely contradicted yourself by dismissing YouGov as being off what the true picture is.

    You simply can’t take one poll (YouGov = low LD score), and then take another you like (ICM = high LD score) and say, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    That is the fools errand of the poll-of-polls mirage (correct me if I’m wrong Anthony).

    The real question is what methodology is being used to guage LD support and which is most reliable. As all pollsters have had to do some pretty hard soul-searching after getting the LD score so wrong in the GE it is a valid question.

    But to listen to some of the comments (on both sides) it’s as if people think we’ve gone from Labour being in the lead by 6-7% (You Gov) to Cons being in the lead by 1% (ICM). You simply can’t compare polls like that.

    The only thing we can read from taking both the YouGov and the ICM poll, is that both show a similar movement to the Tories. A swing of around 2%. Which suggests there has indeed been a shift.

    We need to wait to see if this is a bounce (which comes down) or a shift that lasts (listen to Anthony “Yoda” Wells, when he says by the end of the week after the budget there is usually not much change).

  22. @ Neil A

    Right you are (although I think with ICM showing higher LDs anyway over the last few months it is a problem/difference with their methodology rather than a rogue, ICM is like You Gov in showing a shift to the Tories).

    Actually, the (mis/)reporting of polls themselves can sometimes create a bit of political momentum, stories in the press, questionning on the back-benches.

    Although I imagine with cuts being once again the story of the weekend and the gloss rubbing off on the budget (c’mon no budget ever leaves voters with a lasting glow), next week may be back to “normal” numbers.

  23. @ Neil A

    If you had read my post, you would realise I am talking about two ICM polls.

    @ Adrian B
    “Shame you then completely contradicted yourself by dismissing YouGov as being off what the true picture is.”

    No, I am not dismissing Yougov. I am saying that each company may have its own biases and that Yougov tends to be at the bottom end of the range for the LDs and even so, it has shown some uptick in our VI. So on that basis, I conclude, taken with TWO ICM polls, that things may not be as dire as Labour supporters would like to make out.

    I am taking the polls as they are, not as I would like them to be, but drawing different conclusions from the ones Labour supporters prefer. It is that simple.

    Yet you seem unable to accept that another party could be see an improvement in its support.

  24. @Neil A et al

    ICM has consistently showed higher support for the Lib Dems than other pollsters. I think it’s not so much an outlier (the LDs are down 2% from ICM’s previous poll) as a difference in methodology.

    I think there’s a different demographic that is reached in online surveys to that reached by telephone polls, and despite attempts to account for it by weighting, I rather do suspect that it’s showing through in the survey results. Who’s right and who’s wrong? No idea.

  25. @ Robert,

    ” you seem unable to accept that another party could be seeing an improvement in its support.”

    But the LDs have NOT seen an improvement in their position (which shows how you are reading the ICM poll)!! I am unable to accept it, because this poll doesn’t show it.

    The ICM poll shows a further reduction in LD support from where they were before. Down 2%. So all we can say from this (as long as ICM are sticking with the same methodology) is that it seems LD have lost more support.

    You are presuming that ICM are reducing to a “true” level of around 14% for LD (which we have no evidence for) and that You Gov will follow upwards. So you ARE trying to argue for where you would like the polls to be.

  26. Amber

    I wasn’t criticising your posts – quite the contrary.

    You wielded the scalpel with beautiful precision! :-)

  27. Sorry, but I don’t believe a word of that. ICM is consistently out of line with other polls and this is probably just an outlier from an outlying polling system to begin with. Of course, it is possible that ICM’s method is superior to the others and they really have shown the conservatives take the lead again – next month’s poll will be very interesting.

  28. ICM will consistently give the Lib-Dems bigger vote shares this Parliament and will consequently once again prove one of the more accurate pollsters come the general election when the Lib-Dems will almost certainly gain support as the campaign develops.

  29. @ Colin & SoCaL

    In an interview with an Italian Newspaper (see link provided by Éoin, above):

    Mr al-Hasidi (one of the rebel leaders in Libya)insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but added that the “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.

    Mr al-Hasidi also said that about 25 of his own fighters had fought against us in Iraq & he, himself, had fought against our troops in Afghanistan.

    If this proves to be the case, it could cost President Obama his presidency. I await, with trepidation, his approval ratings & other polls when he begins the fight to get re-elected.

    IMO, if President Obama is a one term president because of the intervention in Libya, the world has lost a great deal more than it gained from this intervention.

    I am utterly downcast by such a prospect.

    My post last night was not inferring that EM needs detailed policies now, I agree it’s too early but at this stage in the last parliament, DC was making clear how he was changing the Tory party, so we were getting an indication that he was to make it much more centerist/Green/Socially appreciative, etc. etc than previous Tory governments. He was changing it from the ‘nasty’ party. Blair did exactly the same after he became leader in 1994. He knew how to get Labour elected & changed the party so that it did.

    So EM should be doing similar. Where is he positioning the party? I asked on a previous thread..Is he Ed Kinnock, or Ed Blair. The former would be a loser, the latter a winner. (In terms of General elections). And winning the GE is the only thing that matters, as you are powerless to enact your policies otherwise.

    Above all, he has got to show that he is a leader (which I believe DM would have done by now). By all means consult & have focus groups but having done all that, decide what ‘your’ party is for & LEAD from the front.

  31. Amber,

    I have spent a fortnight putting together a dossier [not dodgy I hope] on the Libyan rebels. They are littered and predominatly led by Islamists, in some cases fundamentalists, and in some cases global terrorists. There is a reason that even in their darkest hour the Benghazi rebels have never asked from American troops. Nor will they.

  32. Robert,

    I suspect we haver Ed Kinnock mark 2 – i.e. the second parliament in opposition. So a new leader will take over in 2015 and bring a Labour (possibly led) Gov’t in 2020.
    One historical fact, Labour is loyal and keep their leaders so the chance of Ed being IDS or Ming or very slim.
    The 18% LD score on the last ICM was an outlier even with ICM LD lift, this 16% seems more possible at least at the edge of MOE.
    I suspect the projected share at the locals will show a better result than this poll for labour and nearer 43/35/11 as anti-Gov voters are more likely to turn out.

    A final thought that how much of the reduced lab lead is due to the budget and hiow much is due to Libya (maybe Portugal impacting) we don’t know?

    I suspect that the You Guv lead will still be lower by the end of next week, th, fri, sun (05) polls and not revert back to the 7-9 lead.

  33. @ Éoin,

    It is very worrying. I mean, what will UK/ France do now? Carry on regardless, as if this interview with the ‘rebel’ leader never happened? First we ‘get rid of’ Gaddafi & then ‘get rid of’ the rebels we don’t like & then…..

    David Cameron/ Sarkozy may be able to that approach but I think it could be banner headlines in the US. Republicans are already criticising the President for not allowing Congress a vote. This will only add fuel to their fire.

    President Obama may have to lose Clinton
    &/or Rice to appease them. It could be a disaster for the Democrats & for ‘Whitehouse women’.

  34. Amber,

    As I have explained before..

    Brega and Rans Lanuf are absolutely crucial oil ports. The west cannot allow a de facto partition where those two ports end up on the Libyan side. They’ll bomb and bomb and bomb until The insurgents hold those two ports. Then I think the west will be happy…

  35. Amber.

    As I understand it the body which matters is this one :-

    h ttp://ntclibya.org/english/council-members/

    I haven’t read it in detail , but see no cause for concern.

    The fighters are a rag tag bunch indeed & no doubt include “true believers” as well as every other cross section of society.

    Sam Kylie on Sky did a brilliant -& very funny- piece on the fighters.

    They have no commander(s) because the Interim Council are not in a position to control them-it is a citizen army-shop keepers, doctors , you name it.

    THey turn up when they want-wander back home for lunch, then come back again. Half of them have no idea how to operate the weaponry they have.

    Most of their ammo gets fired vertically as they hype each other up.

    I doubt very much if they are going to get much further west-Its a long way back from Tripoli for tea :-)

    THe only force which can save civilians from Gadaffi’s tank barrages are UN planes & tank buster missiles.

    I don’t know what UN can do about the barbaric resort to indiscriminate sniper fire from roof tops. I really fear what Gadaffi is capable of. He wrote the book on terrorism, and trained & armed the world in it-we know that in UK well enough.

    THe rebel fighters won’t “take ” Tripoli-if he goes it will be because he has no more money or fuel left to fight with.

    The UN force is the only means by which Libyans will get to choose their own government. I hope it doesn’t run out of patience or time.

    I see that the Benghazi authorities claim to have the murderer of PC Fletcher. I really hope that is true.

  36. Amber

    If you have concerns-why not just ask them?

    h ttp://ntclibya.org/english/contact-us/

  37. Amber

    this is the BBC take on the key players:-

    h ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/world-africa-12698562

    You can make your own mind up :-)

  38. @Amberstar:

    “Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds TSB and HBOS will have a total of £37bn injected into them.”

    From where do you get a £500bn bailout of RBS & HBOS?


    Your quote only refers to the government’s purchase of equity, a small part of the overall rescue package.

    One of the simpler summaries of the whole affair, this one based on a Scottish Parliament report:


    I could easily write an essay on all this but…..

1 2