Ipsos-MORI’s monthly political monitor poll has been published here. Topline figures, with changes from last month, are CON 40%(+3), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 9%(-1) – so putting Labour and the Conservatives neck-and-neck.

Needless to say, this is an unusual finding – the only other polls this year not to show a Labour lead were a couple of Opinium polls and the ICM poll straight after the budget. The ICM and YouGov polls conducted at the same time and subsequent to this one haven’t shown any obvious narrowing of the Labour lead. I suspect it’s down to weighting – Ipsos MORI do not do any political weighting of their sample (due to concerns about changes in levels of false recall and the fear it would weight out genuine volatility in public opinion) and the sample this month has significantly fewer respondents saying they voted Lib Dem in 2010… which given what has happened to the Lib Dem vote since then, one would expect to impact negative on the support recorded by Labour and the Lib Dems.

135 Responses to “MORI show Lab & Con equal on 40%”

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  1. In truth, this isn’t as shocking as it looks. YG and ICM have both had the Labour lead at 2 or 3 recently, and this is probably just a slightly extreme sign of the trend as well. Personally I’d put the lead at something like 3 or 4 now, not 5 or 6.

  2. Yup, I have no doubt that Labour’s lead is still there, and still solid, but I think there is no doubt that the Tories have staged something of a recovery since the Libya conflict and the budget. I have a feeling that the success of the No2AV campaign may be having some cross-over effect insofar as the Tories look more or less united and “on the winning team” over the issue. If No2AV gets some turnout momentum going (which is extremely doubtful in my opinion) then the locals may be less painful for the Tories than had once been thought. Still dire for the LDs however.

  3. DC and the Cons have had a good month or so, which is reflected in a narrowing of Lab lead. (Damn it!)

    There’s the Libya factor, DC has pressed the right buttons on immigration and social security and there is the ‘listening to approach’ on the NHS reforms.

  4. “In truth, this isn’t as shocking as it looks.”

    With just over two weeks to very important May elections I think those around EdM will be finding it, if not shocking, then deeply worrying. Outlier or no, this isn’t the direction of travel you want when in full electioneering mode.

    Though AW’s cautionary words about this poll seem merited.

  5. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the weather is exceptionally good for the time of the year. The Tories are probably benefiting from the feeling of well being that good weather brings. The Libdems are damned whatever the weather is.

  6. “The Libdems are damned whatever the weather is.”


  7. Perhaps the LD political weather could best be described as “changeable”… ;)

  8. Hope no-one minds my double posting – but put this up on the last thread before realising there was a new one so will add here as well.

    For what it’s worth, I suspect we might now be approaching the end of the worst period for the Lib Dems VI-wise. The general consensus is the drop in support is down to the loss of the left leaning voters and anti-Tory tactical voting, but it’s easy to turn your back on a party when there is no election imminent. As polling day approaches, people will have to face up to the fact that refusing to vote tactically carries the real risk of allowing the Tories to win.

    Personally I don’t think it will make a massive difference on May 5th, most of the lost vote will use this chance to ‘kick Clegg’, so the results will still be horrible for the Lib Dems (although probably not as bad as the worst case scenario). But a lot of former tactical voters will wake up to find they now have a Conservative councillor, the question has to be how will that influence their voting intentions in future?

    It’s fair to assume a decent chunk of the lost vote will never return to the Lib Dems, but maybe as much as half will. And it certainly won’t return in a big chunk immediately after the election, trickling back over the course of this parliament and probably the first couple of years of the next. However I do expect Lib Dem support to start slowly creeping upwards. Of course this only applies to the lost tactical and left leaning voters, the performance of the party can still pick up and lose core support (a likely ‘No’ in the referendum could hit them further). But barring a catastrophe this could be the darkest hour for the LDs with a dawn (of sorts) just around the corner.

    If true the next question is – how much of this support will come back from Labour and what will that do to their current lead in the polls? Assuming Labour get a ‘winners boost’ from the Local Elections to offset any losses, will any increases for the Lib Dems appear to come from the Tories – and how will this affect Coalition dynamics? Interesting times ahead.

    **This applies to England only, I don’t know how things work in other parts of the UK

  9. TheGreeny

    Like you, I hadn’t spotted the new thread, and added this comment there.

    A lot of that will apply in Scotland as well, but the result will be even worse as their are four other alternative homes for them – SNP, Labour, Tory, Green, depending on their political priorities.

  10. As always, GB polls are primarily English (that’s not a complaint btw!)

    Polling suggests that Scotland and Wales will behave differently from England on 5 May, but these figures look dreadful for Labour in the English locals.

    Wasn’t a figure of 1000 minimum seat gain for Labour being suggested to demonstrate Labour’s come back?

    Labour will win in Wales and possibly be the largest party in Scotland.

    Am I right in thinking that that would be small consolation to Labour in England if they don’t make significant gains there?

  11. I think we are definitely seeing the beginning of a “shy LD” factor which I think the polling companies are going to have to take into account (used to be that people were embarrased to mention they voted Tory from around 1990 onwards and so companies underestimated their vote, it then went to shy Lab voters from around 2005 onwards). Wonder whether there will be any significant change in methodology.

    But I do agree with Neil A – it does seem that there’s been a narrowing and I think the AV campaign will have an effect.

    It is an established practise in the US to put referenda questions on the ballot paper to ensure your vote gets out and votes. If this happens in this case it will, yet again, be another example of Nick Clegg having zero political skill – by combining the referendum with council elections he has guarenteed a (probably slightly) increased Tory turn-out. Lose the referendum, lose more councils to the Tory’s (as tactical Lab voters stop propping them up), and lose many many councils to Lab in the North.

    It’s brewing up to be a perfect storm against the LDs but I’m not sure Lab will get quite the bounce back they were hoping because of the Tory recovery – remember there are loads of Lab/Con swing voters (despite the partisan comments on red and blue posters here suggesting otherwise!).

  12. Although, one caveat – it does seem that Libya is not going well, and if we get dire economic news next Thursday (is that the right date for Q1 GDP?) then the focus will once again be on negative headlines for the coalition.

    I do think politically it was a good move for Cameron to postpone the NHS changes as it has made a huge vote loser for the Tories less toxic.

    But local elections always have local issues, and I wonder whether there might be more “swing” against than the polls are predicting.

    And if the weather stays good Labours vote will be (slightly) better (or is the importance of the weather an urban myth – anyone?).

  13. If Labour are to have any chance of an election victory I figure the five key pointers are crucial.

    1. They must have a likeable/charasmatic leader.
    2. They must demonstrate the have learned past lessons.
    3. They must persuade they have changed.
    4. They must outline popular policies/vision.
    5. They must be united.

    That means that old Labour must remain stone cold dead. It must also mean that Nuu Labour remain stone cold dead. And it must mean that the two factions in Labour stop bickering.

    I give Labour 0% chance of achieving any of this.

  14. @Oldnat
    The figures of 1000 seats only came from the tories.

    Labour were saying that 400-600 gains would be expected, given the make up of the seats beign contested, and the poll leads.

    Of course some of that could be managing expectations, but it seems mroe reasonable to me.

  15. I hope NEILA is correct-but am inclined to heed AW’s caveat for a while.

    The news agenda has brought DC on TV more frequently -and that seems to be good for Cons.

    EM by contrast seems to have disappeared.

  16. Agreed that Labour need to be attracting at least a small amount of Conservative support to go with the extra chunk of disaffected LD’s. This suggests they aren’t really getting any to swing across right now.

    This government is nowhere near the desperate state that John Major got himself into, and Labour should not be fooled by the fact that he had a majority and Cameron does not (ignoring the LDs).

  17. Hello Anthony

    Your Voting Intention table is now ten days out of date.

    best wishes

  18. @ Eoin,

    I think your 5 pointers are correct – and I actually think points 2-4 are emminently deliverable and are in the process of happening.

    1 & 5 are the problem. If 1 isn’t there people wont listen to your apologies for the past and your wildly popular new policies. And unless 1 gets sorted out 5 will not follow. Weak/unpopular leader means there is much infighting. It was amazing how at the beginning TB instilled discipline on the party and kept Old and New together even though he was a New Labour zealot (he was on great terms with Dennis Skinner). But I guess when you’ve been out of power for 15 years it’s easier to do.

    I think for EM to stand a chance he needs to make the most of the minor boost he’ll get from the council elections, have a GREAT conference in Sept, hope that the NHS reforms go toxic and lead to splits in the coaltion, and bring back his brother from a position of strength.

  19. “EM by contrast seems to have disappeared.”

    I had been thinking the same but then within the last two days he has been on TV quite a lot and was shown visiting and talking to people who had voted LD or Con at the last GE.

    I felt he did ok.

    I think he’s growing into the role and is improving his presentation. But I do wonder whether he is sufficiently charismatic.

  20. Governments lose elections far more than oppositions win them.

    That said I have also pointed to the relative weakness of EdM as he needs to be considered a competent leader of the opposition before he is then seen as a viable alternative PM come election day.

    Even though Labour could have put a potato up for election in 97 and won, the opposition comes into play for almost all elections.
    So unless it’s a deep double dip and the NHS reforms are an umitigated catastrophe EdM still has a great deal to do. Particularly if this poll isn’t a rogue.

  21. Adrian,


    There is a difficulty with 1 & 5, they are inextricably linked. If Purple bookers remove Ed, then they might very well replace him with a charismatic leader, but at what cost?

  22. @Neil A

    “I think there is no doubt that the Tories have staged something of a recovery since the Libya conflict and the budget.”

    Where do you get that idea from? Occasional polls from different organisations using different methods are no basis for making any such judgement. The only rational basis for judging any trend is the daily YouGov polls, and they have shown a rock steady Labour lead of around 6 since around the beginning of February. There have been only a couple of blips, in either direction, in response to the prevailing news agenda, but those were quickly reversed.

    Far from there being “no doubt” that there has been a recovery, there is not the tiniest scintilla of evidence for one.

  23. @John Ruddy


    That well-known tory mouthpiece, The Guardian, had an article by Tony Travers (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/18/local-elections-coalition-popularity) stating that “Labour needs to win 1,000 seats or more.”

    Colin Rallings, on “The Westminster Hour” (iPlayer no longer available, quote reported on http://www1.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2011/04/12/can-labour-meet-the-colin-rallings-target/) was even stronger, stating “Anything less than 1,000 gains will simply not provide convincing evidence.”

    I suggest that these sources and others (I’ve also read a quote from Ken Ritchie, but I can’t find it) suggest that if Labour don’t make 1,000 gains, then It is not meeting expectations. Given what appears to be unanimity among the psephologists, as far as I can tell, it appears that you have been falling for your own party’s expectation management.

    @ Anthony

    Is there a site similar to yours, where psephologists predictions are recorded and discussed? Or could you link to the psephologists in a sidebar?

  24. Cynosarges – you are quite correct about Rallings & Thrasher’s benchmarking figure – they predict about 1000 gains for Labour (and they really are the experts in the field on local elections)

    Their figures will probably show up here (http://www.psa.ac.uk/briefings.aspx) shortly – they were at a PSA briefing on the local eletions last week and had their projection in the presentation. The PSA have put up the presentations from the previous briefings, but the local elections isn’t up yet – no doubt it will appear in time.

    Note that R&T have not made projections for Con & LD yet, since their model is giving conflicting figures for the LDs, and they haven’t said what they think will happen in the Con v LD battle… they teased us at the PSA briefing that they would make their projections there is due course!

    In terms of psephologists, surprisingly few political academics really do things like blogs. The best at the moment is the Ballots & Bullets blog from Nottingham University (so has people like Phil Cowley contributing), especially since it is also mirroring the stuff from Rob Ford, Will Jennings et al from Manchester Uni: http://nottspolitics.org/

  25. It willl be interesting to see if there is movement in Yougov over the next few days. 19th April (which recieved no mention) had Labour with a 7% lead and approval dipping to -26.

    Warm weather, even if it continues is no panacea, because it soon becomes “too hot”. And then you see a peach the size of a small plum in the supermarket and they want the best part of a quid for it!

  26. Ballots & Bullets is a realy interesting blog.

    Thanks Anthony.

  27. Anyone know what the Royal Wedding is likely to do to the polls, and how long it will last? I would have thought a small boost to the Tories as they are both the governing party and the traditional party. Will it last long enough to affect the locals?

  28. Which of tony Blair’s three terms was most centrist do you think?



  29. MIKEN

    “he has been on TV quite a lot and was shown visiting and talking to people who had voted LD or Con at the last GE”

    mmm-including that incident when Nick Robinson was following him round.

    The one where a chap in a shop told him he was not “leadership” material, while EM stood there with his mouth open.

    Great publicity :-)

  30. AW is right to warn about this poll and the lack of weighting for known past vote or political affiliation.

    MORI base their headline figures entirely on the responses from those “certain to vote”. So their headline is based on responses from a sample of people who declared that they voted in the following proportions at the 2010 election:
    Con 190
    Lab 143
    LD 84

    I don’t consider those proportions to be at all plausible.

  31. I think this poll is an outlier. Like the Angus Reid with Tories on 31,

    The trend has remained unchanged for months – I think the basic figures are in place. When we hit mid-term we can expect to see significant erosion of the tory vote – to where , of course, will be interesting, I suspect UKIP will overtake Lib-dems in VI by next summer.

    Ed M , I think, is improving markedly – albeit from a low base and is beginning to gain in confidence. if I’m honest I don’t think when he stood as leader he really expected to win and the last few month have been a bit of a “rabbits in the headlamps” culture shock. He is physically similar to Rowan Atkinson characters – which initially doesn’t help – but people are gradually getting used to him.

    Libya has all of the hallmarks of disaster – an entirely predictable one – where we creep ever further into a war we don’t want, to fight with allies who turn out not to be as cuddly, or as competent as we need them to be.

    I think if we enter 2012 with Gaddafi hanging on, or Libya a balkanised basket case, a collapse in growth (seems inevitable), a rise in unemployment, a diminishing in quality of public services, and a growing weariness with “Old Bear” sound alike’s empty aphorisms, then the Tories may be in some trouble as regards VI.

    As regards GE itself, Labour does need to look capable of communicating effectively and of being capable and competent , rather than charismatic, if it is to win in 2015 ( I can’t see coalition splitting as it would be turkeys for Christmas stuff)

    If Scotland is anything to go by Labour will manage none of the above! But EdM is thankfully not IG ( I am growing to despise Iain Gray – and he’s meant to be on my side!)

  32. Colin

    Aye, I saw that. It was certanly a mixture of good and bad. But I think it needs to be seen in the context of Lab saying sorry we got (some) things wrong. It seemed to work ok for some other chappie/party not too long ago.

    But EM does need to improve in the way he (re)acts with these kinds of encounters.

    Being a recipient of rude/tough treatment by Nick Robinson is perversely a good thing IMO.

  33. I largely agree with iceman.

  34. @Anthony Wells, @Cynosarges

    I find it of concern that Rallings and Thrasher can produce a Labour seat projection for the local elections yet fail to come up with one for the LDs and Cons. Surely if the model is robust, then you have to come up with a seat projection for all parties or none of them, since they are all competing with each other.

    I’ve seen it reported that the problem Rallings and Thrasher had was that their standard model – based on by-elections – was suggesting that the LDs would be polling the equivalent of a national vote share of 22%. No-one believes that to be realistic, including themselves.

    As for the idea of basing a measure of electoral success on a simple count of seats gained, bear in mind that you will be trying to form a national judgement from elections that are disproportionately taking place in Conservative English shire heartlands. The shire areas typically have wards that are about 1/3 of the size of those in Labour’s metropolitan heartlands, in terms of population. Furthermore, in shire areas the rural councils have wards which are generally smaller than those of urban councils. And factor in also the fact that around 2/3rds of seats are up for election in shire and unitary areas, compared to 1/3rds in metropolitan districts.

    It means that any raw judgement based on Labour seats gained will be formed from trends in a disproportionately large number of rural seats and will be less informed by what is happening in urban seats particularly those in Labour’s heartland metropolitan districts. And trends in London, Wales and Scotland will be ignored entirely.

  35. I have always thought that oppositions alway do substancially better than government of the day. So I think that if Labour get less than 1000 gains, they should be very worried.
    Plus the fact that I do not believe national polls reflect what will happen in local elections. So whether they are 0 or +6 for labour they should gain many seats, particularly as they did so badly 4 years ago.

    I remember, on the subject of the referendum, a Californian pundit suggesting that unless the ‘change’ side has at least 50% there is not chance of a change.

  36. @Robin 12.14 and @Phil 1.29

    Agree with both of you- but it’s the ‘usual suspects’ of the last few months who have leapt with premature salivation on this single poll from a rather peripatetic company. Longer existing blue posters are rightfully more circumspect.

    @Colin 1.29

    Yep- I thought that was an excruciating reportage TBH

  37. @AW
    Thanks for the link to the PSA website. It was interesting to see on one of the powerpoints that SNP=SLAB-Knife Crime + Independance!

  38. Phil –

    Depending on the time frame they take, the R&T model currently has the Lib Dems between 16% and 22%. The problem they face is twofold – first, because local elections are so widespread this year the 6 month rule is kicking in, and there are fewer local by-elections to use (IIRC correctly, the difference between the two sets of figures depends upon whether they look at the most recent…but extremely sparse data, or the somewhat older, but more plentiful data)

    The second problem is that parties used to always try to contest local by-elections on principle, whereas more recently they are starting to not put up candidates when they think they are going to be hammered – this clearly poses problems with the dataset!

    The model really isn’t that robust (I’m sure R&T would acknowledge the many challenges it faces)… but that said, it has performed well indeed in the past.

  39. @ Robin,

    “Not the tiniest scintilla of evidence for a Tory recovery”.

    Robin, how on earth can you say that on a thread about a poll which has shown evidence of a Tory recovery. And there have been three similar polls like it.

    You may be entirely right that the YG daily tracker is more accurate (or entirely wrong) but that showed a move to the Tories (a four point lead) two days ago. Yesterdays was 7 (I think, correct me someone if I’m wrong). It’ll only be over a few days that we see which one is the outlier (or maybe both are and the true picture is a tie).

    Let’s weigh the evidence but not dismiss it!

  40. @ Eoin,

    Surely 1997-2001 where TB was paranoid about getting reelected with a working majority. Most of the really radical stuff (e.g. devolution) he was not bothered about.

    2001-2005 can simply be summed up as “Iraq” and so he became some kind of Neo Con.

    I think 2005-7 was him clearly cutting loose (so Seldon) and going off into the world of true New Labour Social Democracy, and being at the furthest right of his party (although in general terms that is quite centrist and close to where most people see themselves).

  41. MIKEN

    Agreed-it happens to them all-or should do !


    It wasn’t kind-certainly.

    But I agree with MIKEN -“EM does need to improve in the way he (re)acts with these kinds of encounters”

    Almost any response would have been better than his ” did you vote Conservative last time?”

    For example-” It depends where you want to be lead to I suppose-where do you want to be lead to?”

  42. @Iceman
    I agree with your comments on Miliband.

    Here’s a link to a recent feature by Patrick Wintour of the Guardian. I attended a similar question-and-answer session a few months ago, and formed a similar favourable impression at first hand.

  43. Adrian that’s a big help thank you..

  44. @colin

    I agree with both of you and mikeN- that’s what I meant: the fact he isn’t/ wasn’t is what made it (and has done before) so excruciating. He is in no way a Kinnock or a Brown. But he is not a TB or a DC either and he needs to be more like them – more ‘likeable’.

    I said it last September: though he has performed better than I expected (which was not much TBH).

  45. Voodoo poll (?) alert

    Edinburgh Evening News readers’ panel is “Grim reading for Labour”


  46. @Adrian B

    “Robin, how on earth can you say that on a thread about a poll which has shown evidence of a Tory recovery. ”

    What evidence? You mean a single poll that is within moe for the last equivalent poll? And even if you want to play that game, you’re being ridiculously selective:

    Angus Reid – last poll showed an 11 point lead for Labour, compared to 9 points for the previous poll

    Opinium – last poll showed a 3 point lead compared to the 2 previous polls showing zero lead

    ICM – last poll showed a 2 point lead compred to a previous 1 point Con lead.

    ComRes – last poll showed a 4 point lead compared to the previous 3 point lead

    That’s 4 polls showing the Labour lead increasing, as against

    Populus – last poll showed a 4 point lead compared to a previous 6 point lead

    Mori – level, compared to previous 4 pont lead

    Average over the whole lot, and there has been less than a 1 point change between consecutive polls, well within moe.

    You simply cannot draw conclusions about a trend based on a handful of polls. That’s the power of the YouGov data – we have large quantities of equivalent data spread over several months. And even then, it’s only been possible in the last month or so to discern the flat VI underlying the data.

  47. @ Robin,

    Thanks for all those stats – really helpful, but doesn’t change the irony in your post.

    “Not one scintilla of evidence” – you have shown yourself that there IS evidence of a Tory recovery (and not just one scintilla but a two or three scintillas!) . It’s just that there is evidence that points the other way.

    I totally agree with you on your challenge that “the evidence for a Tory recovery is now clear”. But your final conclusion (not one scintilla of evidence) is simply not true – especially on the poll we’ve just had.

  48. @Adrian B

    I repeat, where is this evidence? The only two polls purporting to show movement towards the Tories are both within moe for the preceding polls. Neither of them provides any evidence *at all* for movement.

  49. And it must mean that the two factions in Labour stop bickering.

    Since the GE, and Ed’s, (wouldn’t have been my choice) election as leader, there has been very little bickering, (by Labour Party standards) if any at all.

    After May the 5th, (the 1000 gains for Labour were far to optimistic, 800 poss.) it’ll be the Coalition which will start the bickering. Those Tories who want to cut free of the Libdems, will start asking the obvious question, ‘Why are we shackled to a corpse’

  50. Well, barring this being an extreme outlier, it looks like my prediction that the AV referendum, fatigue with the Libya operation and the NHS fiasco would hurt the Tories was utterly wrong.

    In fact, my whole expectation for this parliament was wrong. I thought that the Tories would lose a lot of support to UKIP due to compromising for the Lib Dems and that there’d be a 1980s style “cuts effect” that would push the Tories at least below 30%.

    However, while the cuts may be more severe than anything Thatcher considered (or could consider given the committments she inherited) there is the awkward matter of the economic cycle: this time, the deficit is being cut at the beginning of a (n albeit choppy) recovery and monetary policy is relatively loose, whereas the early 1980s cuts were at a time of international economic crisis and were combined with a brutal tightening of monetary policy.

    The danger for Labour is that they don’t make the most of this year and the next two to three years and get transfixed by short term gains. This is the time in which Labour need to be expanding their party base, getting the party finances in shape again, reviewing their policies like hawks, building long-lasting narratives and aiming at a drip-drip-drip effect on the marginal voters. That’s how an opposition kills off a government in one term.

    Going for “sure things” (like the NHS reforms) are dangerous, because u-turns tend to be successful in the long run even if they look stupid early on. Any sort of monomania on Labour’s part is to be carefully avoided. Their initial focus should be to focus on easy seats in the local elections while avoiding building up expectations.

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