The Guardian’s monthly ICM poll is out (I’m not sure why it’s turned up at lunchtime – or perhaps I just missed it last night!). Topline figures are CON 37%(nc), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 17%(+1), Others 10%. The Conservatives retain a one point lead. ICM do tend to show some of the most positive figures for the Conservatives (for reasons I’ll address below), but last month their 1 point Conservative lead did look like something of an outlier. It seems, however, that the difference is more systemic.

Now, looking at people’s reaction to this I’ve already seem plenty of comments remarking upon the big contrast between different companies figures – it probably deserves some explanation. Let’s start by comparing the sort of figures the different companies have produced over the last three months.

In their daily polls YouGov have been showing Labour leads of around 8 points, with the Conservatives firmly on around 36%, Labour on 42-44%, the Lib Dems on 9-10%.

Populus, who in most senses have methodology very close to that of ICM, have been showing the Conservatives between 34-39% (they dropped 5 points in their last poll, so it’s a big range), Labour firmly around 39-40%, the Lib Dems around 9-11%.

Ipsos MORI again have shown some variation in Conservative support, ranging from 32%-37% in their recent polls, have Labour more steady between 39%-42% and have the Lib Dems on 9-11%.

ComRes run parallel polls – telephone ones for the Indy and online ones for the Independent on Sunday. In their phone polls the Conservatives have been between 34-37%, Labour between 37-40%, the Lib Dems 11-13%. In their online polls the Conservatives have been between 36-38%, Labour have been between 37-40%, the Lib Dems at 10-11%.

The difference between an 8 point Labour lead and a 1 point Tory lead is large, but as Bob Worcester is want to say, look at the shares, not the lead which exaggerates variation. As you can see, with some variation and a couple of outliers like that 32% from MORI, the pollsters are largely showing the same pattern with the Conservatives, everyone has them at either around or slightly below the 37% they got at the election.

The big difference is the Lib Dems, where most companies have them around 10% or 11%, YouGov marginally lower, normally on 9% and ICM quite drastically higher, on 17%. For Labour, most companies have them between 37%-40%, the exceptions being YouGov who have them in the low 40s, and ICM who have them at 36%.

Now, one major reason behind the difference is topline adjustment – what happens to people who say “don’t know” when asked how they’ll vote. Pollsters treat these people in different ways. At one end of the scale, YouGov just ignore them; YouGov figures are based solely upon people who say how they would vote in a general election. Then we get pollsters who ask a squeeze question to people who don’t answer (are you leaning towards any of them, who would you vote for if it was a legal requirement). At the other end of the scale ICM (and, to a lesser extent, Populus) essentially make educated guesses about how these people would vote, and include them in the figures. Evidence from past elections shows that when push comes to shove “don’t knows” are likely to end up voting for the party they voted for at the previous election, hence ICM reallocate 50% of people who say don’t know to the party they voted for in 2010.

Almost by definition, this tends to be helpful to parties that have lost support since the last election, and harmful to those who have gained it. In this month’s poll it had a particularly sharp effect – before adjustment ICM’s topline figures were CON 37%, LAB 39%, LDEM 15%. The effect of reallocating don’t knows was to increase Lib Dem support from 15% to 17%, and decrease Labour support from 39% to 36%, producing a Tory lead.

Of course, that doesn’t explain all the difference. ICM would still be showing the Lib Dems on 15%, significantly higher than anyone else, and there would still be variation between the companies on other factors. There are various other explanatory factors at play – for example, I’ve seen it hypothesized that ICM’s question wording, which says “an election in your area” increases Lib Dem support. I am very sceptical of this explanation, but it is potentially a factor and is worthy of investigation. Another factor is likelihood to vote – most companies weight or filter by how likely people say they are to vote, YouGov only do this during election campaigns, when it reduces their level of Labour support.

Beyond that, there are probably factors connected with weighting – both the targets that people weight towards (primarily what assumptions they make about past vote and false recall) and also when the data is collected (YouGov and ComRes’s online polls can use stored data on panellists, polls conducted by telephone collect the data at the time the survey is conducted).

I draw no conclusions about what is right or wrong. When I first started this blog I always sought to explain the reasons behind the differences and let people make their own decisions, rather than say which polls I thought were right or wrong. In many cases, it is a philosophical difference, a case of polls measuring slightly different things – a YouGov poll is showing how people say they would vote tomorrow, an ICM poll is showing how ICM think those people would vote tomorrow. In other cases, some weighting targets probably are better than others! My sad conclusion after writing about polling for 6 years, however, is that most people tend to believe the poll they like the results from is the one to trust, and subconsciously interpret arguments about methodology to back up that preconception (not, I should add, very different from how we come to our opinions about anything else in life!)


122 Responses to “Guardian/ICM – CON 37, LAB 36, LDEM 17”

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  1. Latest YouGov/Sun results 23rd Aug

    CON 37%, LAB 44%, LD 9%;

    APPROVAL -27

    Bless their cotton socks :D

  2. “My sad conclusion after writing about polling for 6 years, however, is that most people tend to believe the poll they like the results from is the one to trust, and subconsciously interpret arguments about methodology to back up that preconception (not, I should add, very different from how we come to our opinions about anything else in life!)”

    The most concise explanation I have ever read which determines – or reinforces – an individual’s prejudices. People extrapolate what most suits their own agenda – and polling is subject to that more than anything else.

  3. IANANTHONYJAMES

    “I would say that ICM gives the Lib Dems false hope!…
    Everybody’s perception of what the Lib Dems stand for has been altered.”

    Thank goodness. I was reading through the comments becoming increasingly amazed that no one was stating the obvious. The 8% difference (between Yougov/ICM) in Lib Dem votes can surely be accounted for by temporary Cleggmania amongst left leaning voters? I don’t see many of them coming out of remission for the next election.

  4. It’s exactly as I said (and was lambasted by some on here for it) a few months back – the Labour lead is probably not as big as Yougov has generally been suggesting, but if you take all the pollsters as a whole, we are probably talking a Labour lead of around 5 or so points. Not much has changed since then IMO.

  5. @ollie

    “People extrapolate what most suits their own agenda – and polling is subject to that more than anything else.”

    Though difficult when they all point in the same direction- as they did earlier this year and will likely do next year when the austerity programme actually bites and the wider regional and global economic content impacts.

    But- nonetheless- a fair point.

    Which is why sites like this are so useful. You watch as a methodological discussion breaks out over the coming days and weeks: if polls continue to diverge that discussion will intensify. Its a valid discussion.

    But of course- for some posters- part of the discussion will be to support the methods that appear to give ‘your team’ the best level of support.

  6. @Ollie

    and as if by magic…..

    “It’s exactly as I said (and was lambasted by some on here for it) a few months back – the Labour lead is probably not as big as Yougov has generally been suggesting”

    As has been pointed out before not a wholly ambivalent poster ;-)

  7. @Rob Sheffield,

    I think Anthony’s comments were actually aimed at people like you. I mean, it’s so obvious that you allow your Labour bias to cloud what little political insight you are capable of – which, judging by past comments seems to be very little! ;-)

    The fact that you deride (i.e. insult) someone who posts that, taking the average across all pollsters, suggests a Labour lead of 5 or 6 points (especially when some suggest a smaller lead), says a lot about your manners (or lack thereof) as well as your reluctance to show anything other than bias in your analysis. Your prediction of a coalition collapse in 2013 is a case in point.

    Anyways, night night. ;-)

  8. Averaging all the reputable polling firm’s results is generally a good rule of thumb, IMO.
    8-)

  9. I think the reason for such a wide variation of results is because poll companies have associated themselves with particular newspapers. It’s not that poll companies are manipulating the data to suite the newspaper editorships, it’s that people are more likely to take part in a surrey from a company they recognise and even like, than one they don’t. And as newspaper readerships decline their readers / editors become more polarised, almost a niche. With online polls you have the added problem that you are only really going to attract people who have very strong opinions signing up for panels and regularly taking part in them. Not to mention those who have their own party based motives and are flag waving. You can only weight samples so far.

  10. It’s quite interesting that the level of Tory support appears to have been varying within a very tight range for a very long time now. While there were pre election periods where polls suggested support above 40%, we’re now back to GE levels or a bit below, which is only around 4 or 5% more than they got in the dark days of 1997 and 2001. By contrast, over this time span Labour and Lib Dems have shown far more variation.

    I wonder whether this does provide long term statistical backing to the idea of a more or less combined but fluid Lab/Lib Dem block, with this being the main source of poll fluctuations around a reasonably static Tory block.

    If true, this would basically mean that the Tories will struggle to get a majority, as many suspected after 2010. It also means that boundary changes will be critical to them. Under the current system their small poll shift can mean massive seat changes depending on the state of the Lab/Lib Dem see saw, so they really need a more balanced electoral arrangement if they are to avoid the seat wipe outs they have experienced in the past.

  11. @Amberstar,

    Exactly. What’s so wrong with a 5 or 6 point Labour lead anyway? I think it’s a pretty strong performance, and will only improve over the next year or two IMO. As I said a month ago, the trend is currently in Labour’s favour.

    I think the ICM poll is a bit of a rogue. I can’t believe for a second that the Tories are one point ahead. If you combine the methodologies of all the pollsters, I think a 5 or 6 point Labour lead is about right, and I stand by that conclusion.

  12. @Phil – “First…. or not?”

    Oh dear. I’ve noticed this unfortunate habit creep across from the PB site. Most distasteful.

    In an attempt to preserve your dignity, I would suggest that you either

    a) Refrain from posting ‘first’ if you are the first poster on a thread or, you must do this –
    b) Make sure that you number every single one of your interventions – ‘eleventh’, or ‘thirty eighth’, or ‘seventy third’ etc.

    That would be about as useful and enlightening as your ‘first’ intervention.

  13. The slightly worrying thing for the Tories is that 37/38%% seems to be their ceiling. I think it will be hard for them to get beyond this point, even if the economy was to improve. I can’t see any such ceiling for Labour.

    Even with the boundary changes, the Tories would need to probably score in the 40s to get a majority. Labour, on the other hand, will retain some electoral advantage due to the better distribution of their votes. Therefore, providing they have a relatively modest lead, they should get a majority.

    All in all, I can see the worse case scenario for Labour being a hung parliament, largest party, in 2015.

    Anyway, night. ;-)

  14. A reminder of parliamentary by-elections so far this year, for anyone interested.

    Oldham East and Saddleworth January 2011 (compared to 2010 GE):
    Lab +10.2%, LD +0.3%, Con -13.6%.

    Barnesley Central March 2011:
    Lab +13.5%, UKIP +7.5%, Con -9.0%, (in sixth place behind BNP and Independent) LD -13.1%.

    Leicester South May 2011:
    Lab +12.2, LD -4.4%, Con -6.3%.

    Inverclyde June 2011:
    Lab -2.2%, SNP +15.5%, Con -2.1%, LD -11.1%

  15. Alec

    64th!

  16. A Cairns

    “…the FPTP tipping point for the SNP could be around 36/37% ……

    Could happen …”

    I’m not saying it would happen but it certainly could. We need some polls that would give an indication.

    It’s not in the power of the SNP to bring it about but Ed M and the next SLAB leader have the opportunity to mess up and bring independence a lot nearer with a litle help from DC. I do think the Labour’s opponents should take an interest.

  17. John B Dick

    “Ed M and the next SLAB leader have the opportunity to mess up and bring independence a lot nearer”

    http://news.scotsman.com/politics/Glasgow-MP-Tom-Harris-offers.6823695.jp

    “Mr Harris said a Scottish Labour leader from Westminster would not be any different from Alex Salmond leading the SNP as an MP for two years, prior to his return to Holyrood.”

    I’m not sure if Tom Harris understood what he was saying there. Salmond was leading a party with no subswervience whatsoever to any UK party. Now, if that’s what Tom is saying SLAB will become, then he might turn out to be the first FM/PM of a sovereign Scotland ever (and not just the first that my wife taught!)

  18. @Alec

    I lost my dignity long ago, otherwise I wouldn’t bother posting here. How about you?

  19. In general I favour YouGov’s methodology, although clearly I prefer ICM’s numbers.

    I think there is a pretty good case for saying that the unusual circumstances of the 2010 election and post-election period mean that past-vote weighting is even more problematic now than it might usually be.

    The May election represented a quite steep upward spike in LibDem support. Their subsequent decline seems in some ways more serious than it actually is for them, because of this (imagine if Tory support had spiked upwards at the election to say 50%, and then quickly dropped off afterwards to 36%. On paper it would look like a disastrous collapse). But ICM’s methodology brings that spike into the very structure of their calculations, skewing the LD and Labour votes dramatically.

    I believe that the past vote weighting “boost” that ICM gives the Tories may be less suspect as their poll support has followed a rather more conventional trajectory.

    Of course it could be that the current dip in LD support turns out to be almost as ephemeral as their previous spike, and that this brings some sense back to ICM’s past-vote weighting. But from a political, rather than psephological, standpoint it’s really quite hard to identify a route for the LDs back to popularity. Some suggest the new leader, quit coalition route but I suspect that would just bring the day of reckoning closer.

  20. My posting last night about the beautiful South being a write off for Labour was intentionally provocative (and a bit unfair to Ken Livingstone overall). I’m grateful for all the comments – all of which had merit IMHO. It’ll be no surprise that I think ICM’s latest poll may be closer to the truth. Council by-elections have shown clear signs of a LibDem revival – and of Labour’s low appeal in the South. Clegg performed well on the riots.
    I hope all Labour sympathisers are carefully reading the inputs from our shrewd Scottish correspondents. They are all written with considerable candour and lack of party bias. They show that Labour’s condition in Scotland is still very precarious. The comments about the two Eds appearing on the streets of Scotland I would take at face value. Why not? How can Labour possibly expect to win the next GE if their leaders are not able to appeal to the one area of the UK which has shown extraordinary loyalty to this Party for the last 30 years? If Ed can’t cut it on the streets of Dundee and Aberdeen (and Cardiff) he has no right to be Labour’s leader. As for the South I was suggesting that Labour shouldn’t assume that the relatively modest Tory majorities in places like Gravesham and Milton Keynes give them much hope of winning there in 2015, because these areas are moving bluewards year by year, GE by GE. Every incoming Labour tide is lower than the previous one; every blue tide is a bigger landslide than before. Personally, I wish it wasn’t true, but it is. BTW I do define the South as excluding Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth, where Labour have a reasonable chance of winning back seats. But Labour will not win back the Southern commuter towns – the Swindons, the Ipswiches, the Graveshams. Gone for the foreseeable future. Live with it – and don’t waste treasure on them just because they are near London ! Please please Ed, next time Labour have their best ever result in the Welsh Assembly elections, their worst ever result in Scotland, and a so-so result in England …. don’t go and make your keynote speech about the elections in Gravesham. Go to Cardiff to celebrate and Edinburgh to commiserate and start rebuilding – go where your supporters are – or should be if you are to win….

  21. @Neil A,

    Yes, you have very aptly summed up the reasons why I am/have been treating ICM’s results with extreme skepticism. The recent COMRES poll just seems like a bit of an outlier – but nothing outside the normal MOE.

    Anyway, I really should be off to bed now. ;-)

  22. Welsh Borderer

    An interesting post. It made me wonder why you are concerned (if you are) about the result of the Scottish GE, since you are unaffected by its decisions.

    I’m not being in way critical btw – just exploring a different perception of politics.

    Instinctively, I tend to approve of left-wing decentralist parties winning elections – and the nearer they are to home, the more interest I take.

    However, I don’t assume that a high PC vote is better for Wales than a high Labour vote. Both seem to me to be better than a high Con or LD vote, though if that’s what the people want …..

    To me, it’s a bit like local elections in Scotland. I’m not that fussed about whether my LA has a minority Lab, or minority SNP administration (or leadership in coalition with someone else) just as long as it is left-orientated and not in the hands of a single party, as we have suffered for many, many years.

    It’s this belief that a particular party label should win (and preferably have overwhelming dominance, that I really don’t understand). To make it clear, I’m a member of the SNP because I think its the best vehicle to regain Scottish sovereignty. If it becomes the dominant party of governance long term (and thus attracting all the corrupt and power-hungry from other parties), I stop supporting them.

  23. As nobody seems to have put tonight’s YouGov tables link up, they’re here:

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-results-230811vi.pdf

    Irritatingly these ones doesn’t normally have a Libya question either, so I can’t blame Anthony for it not being there. I assume YouGov haven’t got separate questions yet for fear of looking outdated two minutes after they started asking them – alternatively we’ll see them reported separately in the morning.

    A fortnight ago the ‘National Issues’ questions showed ‘Crime’ more than doubling to 48% – not surprising as polling took place at the height of the riots. It’s stayed at that level, so it’s clearly on people’s minds still. But remember that that is the response about issues ‘facing the country’. When asked what is important for ‘you and your family’ only 18% say ‘Crime’. London is highest on both figures (and least worried about the economy).

    The biggest jump is 5 point on Education – both nationally and personally. This could be due to A-level results and worries about getting into and paying for university, though it could also be influenced by thinking about the causes of the riots – ‘Family life & childcare’ is also up.

  24. @WelshBorderer

    “….the inputs from our shrewd Scottish correspondents. They are all written with considerable candour and lack of party bias.”
    I blinked a few times when I read the last bit of that. AmberStar yes, but certainly not all.

    Regarding your substantive point (“….Labour will not win back the Southern commuter towns” etc), you’re suggesting in essence that Labour has little chance of adding but a handful to the 10 seats out of 197 that it holds in the SE, SW and Eastern regions. I disagree fundamentally but am not going to go beyond suggesting that neither the electoral arithmetic nor the general electoral trend is anything like the picture that you’ve painted.

  25. Roger Mexico

    Crime is always an interesting one, governed as it is by media presentations

    “the most important issues facing the country” Crime – 48%
    “the most important issues facing you and your family?” Crime – 18%.

    So for most people crime is something that affects other people.

  26. OldNat

    An interesting post. It made me wonder why you are concerned (if you are) about the result of the Scottish GE, since you are unaffected by its decisions.

    Unlike you to be so parochial. You both are part of the same Main after all and Cardiff has tended to look towards Holyrood on the path to greater autonomy.

    Actually I’m just amazed that you described Scottish Labour as ‘left-orientated’. SNP – often enough; SLD – frequently; Scottish Conservative – perhaps. But SLab?* – I’d assume Miliband wasn’t avoiding the locals but them.

    *Yes I know, many glorious exceptions, some of them of this parish, but you know what I mean.

  27. @ Old Nat

    “It’s this belief that a particular party label should win (and preferably have overwhelming dominance, that I really don’t understand). To make it clear, I’m a member of the SNP because I think its the best vehicle to regain Scottish sovereignty. If it becomes the dominant party of governance long term (and thus attracting all the corrupt and power-hungry from other parties), I stop supporting them.”

    You are principled. More principled than I am I think because I tend to vote for my party even when I don’t like or care for the candidates.

    I think when one party becomes too dominant and holds power for too long, they tend to become corrupt or at the very best, stale and out of ideas. That’s why I’m a staunch supporter of executive office term limits (though NOT legislative term limits). Having the same group of people in charge for too long is a recipe for disaster.

    Btw, I say this from my American lviewpoint but I think you can have sovereignty without separation.

  28. Roger Mexico.

    “Actually I’m just amazed that you described Scottish Labour as ‘left-orientated’.”

    I do work hard at trying not to be overly partisan! Many/most of SLAB’s supporters are ‘left-orientated’. That one-party rule has meant that their elected politicians often aren’t is entirely another matter!

    However, I have never had any reason to doubt that my own MP, Katy Clark, is anything other than honest about her left-wing politics. That she prefers to exert her vote on English domestic issues, rather than Scottish ones, is another matter.

    If you think me parochial (and more so than thos on here who post entirely on English matters) then you misunderstand. I said that I prefer left wing decentralist parties to win everywhere. I’d hate it if either a left, or right, wing party in the Isle of Man opted to join the UK – except under a total constitutional revision of the British Isles, of course.

  29. OLdNat

    So for most people crime is something that affects other people.

    Well you’d hope so. If over 50% of households were suffering from crime on a regular basis, we would have problems.

  30. SoCalLiberal

    “you can have sovereignty without separation.”

    Indeed you can. Denmark, for example, has precisely that while being a member of a political and economic union. Greenland has a more complex sovereignty.

    “Separation”, however, is just a bogey word used by the Unionists. What does make sense is to consider what form of constitutional union is appropriate in today’s circumstances. It may be that the concept of the EU needs to be redefined. Is the current US constitution really the “best that can be devised” given that most of your states are effectively bankrupt?

  31. OLDNAT

    As so often we agree.

    Sadly we have nothing to suggest how it will work out.

    Do you recommend horoscopes and can you still get eye of newt and toe of frog in Perthshire?

    SLAB are in a bad state.

    We have seen parties demoralised and weakened after a bad defeat, but SLAB are losing time if they have any hope of stalling the rout by 2015.

    They are in a hole, and need to take Denis Healy’s advice that the first thing they should do is stop digging.

    The only hope, suggested by me here years ago for the Scottish Conservsatives, is Bavarianisation, in which case Malcolm Chisholm is the best chance the have, but if they are detemined to continue as they are, then as many have said, he needn’t waste his time applying.

    I think they have already lost the next SP election if they havn’t set course for Bavarianisation by Christmas and appointed someone of integrity and substance and as far as I know they only have two in the parliament. They arn’t going to take anyone in the new intake.

    Wasn’t Stephen Purcell spoken of as a future leader?

    The question has to be asked whether anyone would be alllowed to do what is necessary and whether it is at all possible. Who would want the job when Ian Gray was set up to fail and take the blame with his hands tied

    The Scotsman quotes Harris

    “by the time the next Scottish Parliament elections come up in 2016, we need to know what type of party Scottish Labour will be.”

    I think they need to know much sooner than that. No more than a year.

  32. Roger Mexico

    More appropriately –

    If over 50% of households were suffering from fear of crime on a regular basis, we would have problems.

    Perhaps we did. I don’t know the detailed figures, but in both England and Scotland, not only have recorded crimes dropped significantly, but also the reported fear of crime.

  33. oldnat @ Roger Mexico

    “Crime is always an interesting one, governed as it is by media presentations

    “the most important issues facing the country” Crime – 48%
    “the most important issues facing you and your family?” Crime – 18%.

    So for most people crime is something that affects other people.”

    I think it was Roger who pointed out that above 30% of the male population have criminal records. For them crime is not a problem: its a pastime. Its the law that is a probem.

  34. Oldnat & Roger

    Croatio has a system for recordig crime that keeps petty crime down.

    If you suffer a minor theft or damage to your vehicle, you must go to a police station. In a agricultural area, that may be some distance away. You expect to wait for some time before being seen. The policeman then writes out a report based on your information.

    You must then leave the police station and go to a newspaper and tobacconist to buy a special stamp for around £2., and then take it back to the policeman who attaches it to his report and franks it.

    So it costs you £2 and half a day of your life, and there isn’t much chance you will get your property back even if the thief is caught, but I’ll bet recorded crime is low.

  35. Roger Mexico @ Oldnat.

    “Actually I’m just amazed that you described Scottish Labour as ‘left-orientated’.”

    The answer is here:

    http://www.scottishvotecompass.org/

    Roger is right. Oldnat is talking about Labour members and voters.

  36. “the most important issues facing you and your family?” Crime – 18%.
    ——————————–
    I wonder what % of the population work in the policing, prison, parole, security, criminal justice ‘industry’… 18% perhaps ;-)

  37. Wlshborderer

    I think your claim of LD performance in council by-elections is a little overplayed. There have been a couple of good results in Poulton, SW and Eton but there may well have been local issues at play. The majority of seats seem to show a LD decline, especially in the Midlands and North. There may be some signs for optimism in the south but that will be a battle with the Tories.

    What do you base your view that Labour cannot win in the commuter towns? They are coming from a low base now and I think it is far too early to make this judgement. The battlegrounds will be, as always, the NW, London and the Midlands where the indications are Labour is doing pretty well compared to 2010.

    Scotland is a special case and I am glad it is – it has a fine political tradition. It will be interesting to see in the coming years of austerity how the SNP/Tory dynamics work. This may, or may not, favour Labour at a GE.

  38. Am I the only one who thinks the BBC’s coverage if Libya has been very poor? Sky, particularly Alex Crawford seem to have been hours ahead of them all the way.

    They also seem to think that interviewing self appointed “experts” in the safety of the studio is a substitute for on the spot reporting.

    Sometimes I wonder what they do with my licence fee apart from pay themselves and a few celebs inflated salaries,

  39. @ Billy Bob

    “A reminder of parliamentary by-elections so far this year, for anyone interested.

    Oldham East and Saddleworth January 2011 (compared to 2010 GE):
    Lab +10.2%, LD +0.3%, Con -13.6%.

    Barnesley Central March 2011:
    Lab +13.5%, UKIP +7.5%, Con -9.0%, (in sixth place behind BNP and Independent) LD -13.1%.

    Leicester South May 2011:
    Lab +12.2, LD -4.4%, Con -6.3%.

    Inverclyde June 2011:
    Lab -2.2%, SNP +15.5%, Con -2.1%, LD -11.1%”

    Amazingly, I remember each of these. I think that the trend is fairly clear, Labour is up except in Scotland where it is slightly down and the SNP is massively up.

    I’d have to look at the numbers again (and I’m sure that the UKPR Nats can correct me) but I remember in the Scottish Parliamentary election, Labour wasn’t declining so much in terms of their percentages so much as the SNP was massively jumping ahead. But I could be wrong.

  40. @ Old Nat

    “Indeed you can. Denmark, for example, has precisely that while being a member of a political and economic union. Greenland has a more complex sovereignty.

    “Separation”, however, is just a bogey word used by the Unionists. What does make sense is to consider what form of constitutional union is appropriate in today’s circumstances. It may be that the concept of the EU needs to be redefined. Is the current US constitution really the “best that can be devised” given that most of your states are effectively bankrupt?”

    I still tend to think it is the best that can be devised (albeit it’s imperfect). Though I wouldn’t suggest that everyone adopt it (in fact, I think what we have is fairly unique). I don’t think any of our states are bankrupt nor is the federal government (despite the best attempts of treasonous Republicans). In terms of the current budget woes, those have been caused by economic woes, not the separation of powers and separate sovereigns.

    Most Americans don’t really know the difference between state and federal government and the whole separate sovereigns concept and just tend to view both as “government.”

  41. @SoCalLiberal

    Sorry to bore everyone with yet another link to th YouGov March 2011aggregated:

    h
    ttp://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-yougov-aggregatedatamarch2011-210411.pdf

    Just looking at the headline Con 36%, (-1 from 2010 GE), Lab 43% (+13). LD 10% (-14).

    This shows a Con-Lab swing of 7% and a LD-Lab swing of 13.5% (according to YouGov). No mention of any LD-Con swing that might account for these figures.

    Any comments from our psephologists?

  42. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/libya-rebels-tripoli_n_934496.html

    This story is pretty wild. It was wild to see a random rebel in Tripoli wearing Ghadaffi’s favorite hat. I wonder where Ghadaffi is right now and what’s happenned to his brigade of 40 female virgin bodyguards.

  43. As far as I can see all the polls give us this certainty.

    The Tory vote has held at its GE level.
    The “progressive left vote is swinging wildly between LAB and LD.

  44. Some political news from your former colonies (for those who have some interest in it)

    First up, Australia:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/8714107/Julia-Gillards-grip-on-power-tested-by-MP-prostitute-scandal.html

    I was kinda wondering when this would happen. When you have a fragile coalition that hangs together by just one vote, any special election that results in a gain for an opposition party shifts the entire balance of power. IMO, Australian Labor was stupid to get rid of Kevin Rudd. You can’t get rid of your leader on the basis of one bad opinion poll.

    Second, Canada:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/22/jack-layton-obituary

    Jack Layton has died. I find it sad that he dies just when he reaches great political heights. And of course, since his party’s strong showing this past May was due entirely to his personal popularity, what will happen now to his party is anyone’s guess.

    @ Billy Bob

    “This shows a Con-Lab swing of 7% and a LD-Lab swing of 13.5% (according to YouGov). No mention of any LD-Con swing that might account for these figures.”

    No need to apologize. I doubt there’s been much of an LD-Con swing.

  45. @ Billy Bob

    “Sorry to bore everyone with yet another link to th YouGov March 2011aggregated:

    h
    ttp://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-yougov-aggregatedatamarch2011-210411.pdf”

    You don’t bore me (so no need to apologize). I’m not very good at math though so I have a hard time explaining.

  46. Predictions from Barclays Capital on Friday’s investment figures don’t make good reading. Q1 investment fell by 3.2% and was the key leading indicator predicting the wider slow down. Barcap are predicting stagnation in Q2, meaning overall investment is as low as the record low levels recorded in the depths of the recession.

    Their findings are that companies are hoarding cash and they predict this will be used in share buy backs and dividend payments to protect share prices.
    As the OBR forecasts are based on annual investment growth of nearly 7%, with this contributing a third of total GDP growth this year, this is serious. Investment also largely defines growth in future years, compounding the problems.

    In my view, this is as clear a sign of one of the critical errors made by the coalition. Growth was always the key requirement, yet their favoured mechanisms to encourage activity was reducing NI payments and Corporation tax for large companies, paid for by cutting investment allowances. This has proved disastrous.

    Financial support for business had to be linked to either jobs growth or investment – precisely the reverse of what Osborne did. He has actually increased the incentives for companies to horde cash while decreasing those to invest – diametrically opposite to what is essential in a recession, where incentives must always be to invest and increase productivity.

    As a company owner I can’t stress more how useless this strategy is for business managers. While there has been criticism of this among some business groups, I’m amazed that this complete failure to understand how economies work hasn’t been plastered all over the media after the Q1 figures.

  47. @Socal liberal – “You don’t bore me (so no need to apologize). I’m not very good at math though so I have a hard time explaining.”

    sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

    – I’ve got plenty of spare s’s so feel free to borrow one if you’r a bit short over there.

  48. FT are reporting that NI has been paying Coulson’s legal fees to date. No great surprise, but it’s another layer of the onion peeling away.

  49. John F.

    Swinging wildly? Hardly, by historical standards. The LD VI is given between 8/9-15/16% by different organisations but a big chunk of that is different methodology. By historical standards, we are in an exceptionally stable period

    As several posters have noted, the Tories’ VI is solid, but has rarely risen above this level for a generation. Realistically, what might happen over the next 3 years to cause:

    A) The Tory vote to break through to the 42+% it needs for a working majority given an enfeebled LD performance or
    B) The LD vote to break through to 20% to give the Tories a chance of a majority on a 36-38% vote share?

    A) would require an unprecedented increase in approval for a governing party.
    B) would require the left-centre voters to stampede back to a LD party which has supported a right-wing government.

    Regardless of tactics, short-to-medium term strategies and even large scale politico-economic events, those are damn hard winds to sail against.

    For what it’s worth, I see A) as well-nigh impossible. B) is potentially do-able, but requires madness on the part of the Labour party and coalition-breaking by the LDs. Strangely enough, I wonder whether choosing the slightly more left-ish Miliband may obviate a Labour implosion. He can tread a line between the wings of the party and, although he was Brown-ish, he wasn’t quite as tribally committed as his brother. I don’t think Labour would have necessarily torn itself apart under DM, it’s even less likely to do so under EM. All of which gives the Tories a serious problem.

  50. Amber

    I wonder what % of the population work in the policing, prison, parole, security, criminal justice ‘industry’… 18% perhaps

    I don’t think even if you added those who work committing crime, you’d get to 18%. Though add in the closely related field of finance…hmm? ;)

    John Fletcher

    Sky struck particularly lucky with a reporter in the right place at the right time, but I agree both their and al Jazeera’s reporting has outclassed the BBC. But that’s what happens when you cut budgets, the frontline always gets hit first. In the same way the Army is losing proportionately more soldiers than the percentage cut in its budget.

    I agree Mark Thompson is a useless pen-pusher. That’s probably why he got the job as the Board were afraid of appointing someone who would stand up to the government. But sacking him and his cronies and paying Graham Norton in pennies still wouldn’t begin to solve the shortfall.

    New Labour’s malicious cutting back on the Corporation had already done a lot of damage but the deal that Thompson did with the Conservatives, actually offering even bigger cuts that they thought they’d get, is going to be really disastrous. Still it’s not like either political Party had any links with a commercial rival of the BBC who would benefit, is it?

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