ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian is out tonight. Topline figures are CON 37%(nc), LAB 38%(+2), LDEM 14%(-3), Others 12%. Fieldwork was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday, so in the middle of the Lib Dem conference but before Nick Clegg’s conference speech. Clearly there’s no boost in their ratings, 14% would be a high Lib Dem score for any other pollster, but is the second lowest this year from ICM. Things were a bit more positive for Nick Clegg himself though – his net approval was at minus 8, up from minus 21 when ICM last asked it in July.

There were also questions on cuts and Ed Miliband. On cuts, 32% supported the cuts, 62% opposed them (the question rolled together whether they were too deep, too fast, good for the economy and necessary which disguises some of the nuances of public opinion. We know from YouGov’s regular bank of cuts questions that people’s views are actually more complicated: they tend to think the cuts are too deep, too fast, bad for the economy… but necessary).

Turning to Ed Miliband, only 28% of people agreed with a statement that Ed Miliband had the right qualities to become Prime Minister, 60% disagreed (amongst Labour’s own supporters 51% agreed). 30% of people (and 49% of Labour supporters) agreed with a statement that Ed Miliband was the right leader for the Labour party.

274 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 37%, LAB 38%, LDEM 14%”

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  1. RiN

    ” if given the chance to earn extra cash will jump at it unless they are penalized by the benefit system for doing so”

    Wholly agree. One of the worst aspects of the current benefits system is the perverse incentive that prevents people picking up casual or part-time work, or even volunteering for more than x hours, or retraining etc etc.

    Keeping individuals economically or socially inactive is bad enough, but the curse of the system is that it produces local cultures in which it isn’t expected that people do any work. From any political perspective, such counter-productive effects of a system (introduced with the best of intentions) should be anathema.

  2. I’m afraid I’ve never quite seen the difference between the minimum wage and a negative income tax. I understand the principles; most people agree that the best system of distribution is one in which all exchanges are voluntary for all parties and made with perfect information and perfect rationality. I cannot voluntarily choose to forego certain goods (food, housing), and thus I become a wage slave, incapable of making voluntary choices over employment.

    So, we need to provide people with enough to make all their choices entirely voluntary. Hypothetically, if living costs are £60 a week, benefits should be £60 a week. However, that means that a paid job which receives £50 a week, if benefits cannot be received in conjunction with it, is less beneficial than the minimum wage. Thus, we need to make sure all jobs pay enough for a given person to receive disposable income.

    There are two ways of doing this: we can either mandate that the minimum wage a job can provide is £61, or we can top up all wages using state funds to £61. But really, what is the difference between the two? I know people say that if the state tops up the wages of employees paid less than a certain amount, businesses will hire more. But that doesn’t look at the problem closely.

    If businesses hire more people for the state to top up, the state needs more money to pay for this topping up, so the state has to increase taxation/cut spending in other areas, which will ultimately reduce business revenue, meaning they wouldn’t be able to hire more people.

    There seems to me to be no real difference between a negative income tax and a minimum wage other than the negative income tax uses the state as a middleman.

  3. I note that if you feed the figures of this poll into the swingometer you end up with 24 Lib Dems and a Labour majority of 2. I have a feeling that Ed Milliband will find himself being much friendlier to the Lib Dems if that happens. :)

    It’s encouraging that Nick Clegg’s ratings are improving. It’s also good to know that 32% of voters want the Lib Dems to be in government (in coalition with either Tories or Labour). We clearly need to do better at persuading people that if they want us in government they actually need to vote for us!

    @ Jay Blanc

    I think you’re completely wrong to suggest that there has been a Neo-Liberal takeover of the Lib Dems. If that were the case, why would figures like Shirley Williams, Paddy Ashdown and Simon Hughes be so supportive of the coalition?

    I think what has happened is that the people who like the purity of opposition, or who believed that coalition with Labour was the only acceptable option have gone off in a huff. But there are plenty of people (eg Shirley Williams, Paddy Ashdown, me) who, given the choice, would have preferred Labour as a coalition partner but who nevertheless accept that, in the circumstances of May 2010, coalition with the Tories was the right thing to do.

    This explains the absence of rancour in Birmingham. The social democrats and social liberals are still around (the Social Liberal Forum is now a very significant player within the party) but the vast majority of activists accept the logic of coalition.

  4. @R HUCKLE
    Don’t agree with you or Danny Blanchflower. For a kick off,
    were is all this growth in the present world climate?
    Its gonna hurt, it was always gonna hurt. Being in debt to the extent we are does hurt.

  5. Top Hat

    Minimum wage (by definition) only applies to those with a job. Others apply for a complex range of benefits, which may give them more than the minimum wage.

    NIT, on the other hand, envisages no additional benefit system.

    I don’t pretend to be a tax expert!!! But the idea behind NIT seems attractive. Let me cite the text from that Wiki article –

    “A negative income tax is intended to create a single system that would not only pay for government, but would also fulfill the social goal of making sure that there was a minimum level of income for all. It is theorized that, with an NIT, the need for minimum wage, food stamps, welfare, social security programs and other government assistance programs could be eliminated, thus reducing the administrative effort and cost to a fraction of what it is under the current system, as well as eliminating the perverse incentives created by these overlapping aid programs, e.g. when a minimum wage worker who earns a little more nets out with less income because he is newly ineligible for aid. The worker is stuck in a welfare trap and has no incentive to seek higher wages.
    A NIT does not disrupt low-wage markets, whereas a minimum wage makes certain very low end jobs impossible (as anyone whose labour is valued at less than the minimum wage must be unemployed). A NIT would therefore increase the availability of cheap labour, which would enable businesses to do domestically some of the work which they would otherwise have to outsource to other countries.”

    Well said ! The circumstances of May 2010 made coalition with the Tories fine did it ? But when the finances are back to some semblance of normal, you would prefer Labour.
    Great, so all the sweat and heartache your party is going through to correct the massive damage to our economy, so it can be fcuked up all over again. If it happens, I hope you and Shirl and Paddy will be proud of yourselves. At least even Clegg is not that stupid.

  7. Found the source for 75% of Lib Dem manifesto items going into the Coalition Unit. It’s UCL’s Constitution Unit, an outfit that I would expect to be fair and impartial:


  8. @ Chou En Lai

    Did I hit a raw nerve? :)

    Don’t worry. They won’t be able to wreck the economy again as long as we’re there to keep them honest.

  9. D Abrahams

    Thanks for that link. What I found surprising was this in the UCL release

    “The Lib Dems did well in the coalition negotiations, with 75% of their manifesto items going into the coalition agreement compared with 60% of the Conservative manifesto.”

    Leaving aside the question of which policies were UK and which English (relevant to anyone outwith England – even if not to the UCL), that 15% difference seems to have had little coverage.

    Has anyone analysed

    1.which Tory and LD manifesto proposals were ditched?
    2. which coalition proposals were in both manifestos?
    3. which coalition proposals were in neither manifesto?

    I don’t know anything about UCL’s Constitution Unit. I would have expected the Centre for Public Policy for Regions, based at Glasgow University to be fair and impartial, but that may have been a false expectation.

  10. the IPPR poll is encouraging for Labour.It is a telephone
    poll so not sure if this is reliable.Anthony will advise I am

  11. D Abrahams

    For clarity, I’m presuming that UCL didn’t include any separate commitments from the Con/LD Welsh and Scottish manifestos.

    Since they don’t seem to mention them, I presume they were only using the manifestos published for England.

  12. olnat

    “One of the worst aspects of the current benefits system is the perverse incentive that prevents people picking up casual or part-time work, or even volunteering for more than x hours, or retraining etc etc.”

    Something I really wish Blair-Brown had reformed. Why on earth you cannot volunteer (as lng as you in the meantime are available/ looking for work) was always beyngd me.

    @D Abrahams

    ” I think you’re completely wrong to suggest that there has been a Neo-Liberal takeover of the Lib Dems. If that were the case, why would figures like Shirley Williams, Paddy Ashdown and Simon Hughes be so supportive of the coalition?”

    For the same reason Williams stayed on in the labour party for 5 years after it had effectively been taken over by Militant at the local level.

    Note that – once out of government- it took her less than 2 years to leave and start up an alternative party. Lets see- if your party continues its remorseless rightward drift- how long your said paragons stay on in the party if that direction is not reversed after the 2013- 2015 trouncing.

    Honestly you can be so disingenuous!! All a person has to do is look at the views of the orange book leadership- especially on the role of the state (at al geographical scales) and on routes to greater equality. Or indeed if equality is indeed still actually a goal, as opposed to ‘liberty’ er I mean fairness!

  13. typos- iphone- gggrrrrrrr

  14. Guardian reporting a “toxicity” poll:

    Labour has the biggest pool of potential voters of any of the three main parties, despite its opponents’ claims that it was guilty of disastrous economic mismanagement in government, a poll shows.

    The YouGov survey for the centre-left thinktank IPPR, which suggests that Labour’s “toxicity” factor is lower than feared by some in the party, will offer encouragement to Ed Miliband as he seeks to build confidence in his leadership after exactly a year in the job.

    In a telephone poll of 2,474 adults, 70% said they might be prepared to vote Labour, as opposed to 64% for the Liberal Democrats and 58% for the Tories. Just 30% say they would “never” choose Labour compared with 36% for the Lib Dems and 42% for the Tories. This suggests that the Tories, not Labour, are the most “toxic” party.

    42% say they would never ever vote Tory. As I’ve said before, Con’s unelectability in whole regions of the UK really SHOULD worry them, and no amount of fiddling with boundaries is going to change that much.

  15. ANN (IN WALES)

    I haven’t seen this “IPPR poll”. Did they commission one, and have you a link to its results?

  16. Please can we keep the language clear of obscenity.


    A few threads ago you said you are an Old fashioned tory.

    You may know that Mrs Thatcher denied she was a tory, she always said she was a ‘manchester liberal.

  17. D Abrahams

    “I note that if you feed the figures of this poll into the swingometer you end up with 24 Lib Dems and a Labour majority of 2. I have a feeling that Ed Milliband will find himself being much friendlier to the Lib Dems if that happens.”

    I always use Electoral calculus:

    CON 275
    LAB 328
    LIB 22
    NAT 7
    MIN 0

    Labour majority of 6 :D

    I think whoever takes over from EdM by the next GE will be thinking of being nicer to the Nats and the 10 or so social liberals who are prepared to be in coalition with them (the 12 or so raw meat eating orange bookers won’t want to know).

  18. Chrislane

    Maggie was a guardian reader???

  19. chrislane1945

    “You may know that Mrs Thatcher denied she was a tory, she always said she was a ‘manchester liberal.”

    Yep: Cameron = heir to Blair/ Clegg = heir to Thatcher.

  20. CHRISLANE1945

    “Please can we keep the language clear of obscenity.”

    I agree (though I may have missed the obscenity you are referring to).

    But then going on to saying “Mrs Thatcher” is perhaps contradictory for many of us. :-) :-)

  21. Old Nat,you know I cannot do this link thing.I read it on the
    Guardians politics page,it has only been up for 15 mins,but it was commisioned by You Gov.

  22. @OLDNAT & ANN

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/24/labour-toxic-voters-conservatives-poll

    Do you mean this poll?

  23. OLDNAT & ANN

    I have just given you the url and gone into moderation.

  24. @CHRIS LANE 1945
    If you think my occasional cuss in anyway precludes me from being a Tory, old fashioned or otherwise, then you know very little about Tories. Secondly, mind your own business.

  25. @ chouenlai

    And Georre is not continuing to mess up the economy? The debt overhang is a headache – a result of a fierce recession. Most of it stemmed from the collapse in confidence since 2008 – prior to that it was ( in hindsight) probably larger than was comfortable but not a structural imperative. It is an imperative now – but It cannot simply be resolved by austerity and spending cuts – this triggers less growth ( we are the slowest growing economy in the G8) A simplistic approach like the coalition’s is doomed to failure. We end up with less cash in the coffers and greater deficits and higher unemployment and a hideous downward spiral. We need to think of an alternative becaude this solution cannot and will not work. I hoped that I was wrong in that assessment and that somehow we would grow whilst reducing the deficit – like Canada in the 90’s – but they got lucky they cut in the midst of a huge boom in the economy of their neighbour – the richest and largest market in the world – we are not in that situation. Japan, is a better model of our likely future if we stick to the coalition’s plans- pretty much constant stagnation!

  26. Mine too with the link… into moderation.

    Don’t worry. They won’t be able to wreck the economy again as long as we’re there to keep them honest.

    It will take a lot more than the LDs to keep them honest about anything.

  28. OldNat;

    You miss the point that NIT has no effect on people who do not earn. If you earn £0, then even if you receive -1000% income tax on that, you still get £0. Negative income tax is used purely for the purposes of propping up low-end jobs to make them more attractive than working on benefits would be – they don’t remove benefits (well, unless you think the unemployed should receive absolutely nothing).

    There’s also very little evidence that the minimum wage had any effect on the unemployment rate in either America or Britain.

    Additionally, the very reason we don’t have a “one-size-fits-all” welfare system, with different benefits available for different circumstances, is because people do have very different circumstances, and their minimum needs will be different! The negative income tax does not recognise this in the slightest.

    The advocates of negative income tax say that it would firstly destroy the welfare trap created by the benefits system, but the welfare trap is not failure of theory of the benefit system, but failure in practice – our benefit system does not adequately fit the circumstances. However, negative income tax does not answer this, because negative income tax would be even worse! You’d get rid of the welfare trap, but at the cost of driving people whose needs are greater than average into wage slavery.

    They also say it doesn’t distort the low end job market. As I pointed out, it doesn’t really have “no effect” on the lower end income market, because in order for the state to subsidize (because it is a subsidy) lower income workers, it would need more tax revenues, which would decrease the amount businesses earn, which means they spend less – and businesses tend to disproportionately cut lower end jobs when necessary.

    The final point in its favour is reduced bureaucracy. This is the only one that holds true, but it also means we need to ask ourselves: how much bureaucracy are we prepared to dismantle if it means making the situation worse for a great deal of people? I’d say that the benefits of a more flexible benefit system that serves more circumstances outweigh the downsides of a more bureaucracy.

    The problem with the benefit system at the moment is that it is very poorly defined. People can claim for overlapping benefits, which often mean they end up with far more money than would just be required for immediate needs. The minimum wage is also too low, which means people have no real incentive to stop being on benefits.

    My personal plan would be to implement a points-based benefit system. You receive a certain amount of points for each circumstances; say, 2 for being unemployed, 4 for having a child, 3 for being disabled; and each point is the equivalent of a certain amount. That way, instead of having child benefits, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, and all the other various competing benefits that plague the system, an individual gets a single, stream-lined benefit that can be tailored more exactly.

    Once that had been done, you could examine exactly where the minimum wage would have to be placed. For a basic but acceptable standard of living, £14,400 a year is the current estimate, or £7.60 an hour. This would be a good starting point, although I imagine that certain reductions could be achieved if economic conditions were to improve.

    (which, incidentally, is why I voted for Ed Miliband in the Labour leadership elections. His support of the living wage was a big factor in my decision)

  29. link in moderation maybe because of the word ?oxic in the url that the moderators don’t like.

  30. Without the link?

    That IPPR poll:

    The toxicity… I would never vote for Con (42%), LDs (36%), Labour (30%).

    They also put the self described “core support” for LD at 5%, Labour 24% and Tories 19%.

    I notice that Conservative Home accused the left-leaning IPPR of “push polling” on AV (IPPR commissioned YouGov to carry out that particular poll).

  31. @TOPHAT
    “My personal plan would be to implement a points-based benefit system.”

    Absolutely brilliant. You should have patented the idea before putting it on this website.

  32. I know one exists, but it’s kinda different. :P The disability has points for how much you get for a disability. I’m saying they all get fused.

  33. So not only do you get points for level of disability, but also for children, unemployment, etc.

  34. It’s sorta similar to IDS’s scheme, only I think I’d have handled the implementation differently.

  35. Which I think co-incidentally is the Labour position on IDS’s plans, although don’t quote me on that because it’s not been in the news a while and I’m no elephant as far as memory goes.

    I’ll stop posting now as I’m beginning to ramble.

  36. @TOPHAT

    And the points based system would reduce the cost of administering it. I am glad you display the red colour and I will vote for you when you stand for election.

  37. The day I stand for election is the day the universe becomes a self-parody. I would be an awful politician.

  38. @TOPHAT

    I think the days for slick salesman politicians is nearing the end. People want intelligent, honest politicians.

  39. Top Hat

    No. You misunderstand NIT. It may have major flaws that I am unaware of, but the concept of negative tax is that instead of paying tax to the Government, they use the tax system to give money to you. Hence “negative” tax. All adults are involved in the tax system. If you have no earnings, the Government gives you enough money to live on.

    As I understand it, if you are earning enough money to pay tax, but have children, you get an extra allowance against your tax demand. If you have no earnings, but have children, you get an extra “negative” tax (ie payment to you). All is in harmony. :-)

  40. @D Abrahams
    “I note that if you feed the figures of this poll into the swingometer you end up with 24 Lib Dems and a Labour majority of 2. ”

    Here’s what happens when the ICM figures are fed into AW’s notional results for the new constituencies in England alone. On a uniform swing with 14% of the vote, your lot get 11 seats, compared to the 43 seats now (or 36 post boundary changes). On the YouGov figures with 10%, you get 5 seats.

  41. Yes, OldNat, I understood that. You were talking about it as a replacement to all welfare – it isn’t. It can never replace some form of minimum income (unemployment benefits, essentially), because the government is effectively subsidizing labour, but if you don’t labour, you can’t earn.

    Even in the form that it replaces additional welfare only (that is, it replaces disability/child/housing benefits), it isn’t as effective as point based system, because you can’t have one rate of tax for someone who is disabled, another for someone who has children, etc, because adding a little more onto income they earn may not cover the costs of their disadvantage.

  42. I always find the Grauniad’s pages difficult to navigate.

    Instead of trying to link to the article, can someone give me a link to the Grauniad page it’s on?

  43. Top Hat

    ” you can’t have one rate of tax for someone who is disabled, another for someone who has children, etc, because adding a little more onto income they earn may not cover the costs of their disadvantage.”

    You still don’t seem to understand the point of NIT. Since I haven’t explained it well to you, just go and read the damned article I originally linked to!!!!

  44. OLDNAT
    The Politics page – first column, third article “Labour is less ‘?oxic’ to voters than Conservatives, says poll”.

  45. @Old Nat, I understand how it works. It’s basically saying “if you earn under x amount, the government will pay you y% on your earnings”. If the cap is £100 (arbitrary figure), and the NIT is 10%, and I earn £80, the government tops that up to £88.

    If it helps, read what I’ve said again and replace where I say “tax” with subsidy, because in the situations I have used the phrase tax, I am referring to the NIT, rather than something which deducts money.

  46. Top Hat

    Incidentally, there is no reason that a points based system for both those paying tax to the Exchequer and those receiving “tax” from the Exchequer couldn’t be incorporated into a NIT income tax system.

  47. Thanks guys. I can see it now.

  48. OldNat;

    Yes, I’m aware of that. That’s why my post at 8:19 points out why NIT is not as good as minimum wage, regardless of whether there is a benefits system or not.

    Manchester Liberal= free market liberalism she believed in. Never really put it into practice, as John Major’s autobiography shows: GDP debt, inflation were higher when she left office than when she took office.

    SCOT NAT and CHOU.
    Maybe I am old fashioned but the f word is just not acceptable on here, I think.
    Zero tolerance of that language and the gerundive of the f word in good schools

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