ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has now been published. Topline voting intention figures with changes from last month are CON 34%(-2), LAB 39%(-2), LDEM 14%(+3), Others 13%(nc).

The three point boost for the Liberal Democrats is almost certainly a reversion to the mean, ICM typically show a significantly higher level of Lib Dem support than other companies and the 11 point score they had them on last month was conspiculously low for ICM (even though it would be unusually high for some other companies!).

In the Guardian’s write up they note the scale of difference that ICM’s reallocation of don’t knows is now making. Without it Labour’s lead would have been 10 points in this poll, the reallocation of former Tory voters saying don’t know brings it down to just 5.

58 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 34, LAB 39, LD 14”

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  1. @ Alex
    “I have to say I broadly support Gove’s stance on exams, with the exception of the idea of a two tier system – this is completely unnecessary .. [the reforms will drive up standards] I suspect there will be very little to prevent the rest of his agenda gaining good levels of public support.” .

    Usually Alex you argue rather than assert; in this instance you merely assert. What are you saying? Does “drive up standards” mean that you believe that there has been grade inflation & that this will be reversed? & that the awarding of lower grades will gain public support? Or that a change in the method of assessment will improve teaching & student achievement?

  2. Surely a first – a “Guardian” write up that allows an insight into the detail of the poll, a couple of days before the poll is published.

    If they are correct and the lead has narrowed from 10% to 5% due to the “don’t knows” (and presumably “won’t says”) alone, that is exceptional. But I wonder whether ICM’s rather extreme (and thus controversial) turnout adjustment is also part of the difference but not acknowledged in the report.

    Even though they comment on the don’t knows, there’s still no acknowledgement by the “world’s leading liberal voice” of what the reallocation is doing to the LD voting intention – typically +2%, sometimes +3%.

  3. @ Alec!

  4. Phil – ICM’s turnout adjustment really isn’t that extreme, it’s pretty typical. MORI is the company with the very harsh turnout filter.

  5. UK PSBR higher than expected by £2,7bn


    How will this be reflected in polling, if the UK economy continues in recession and borrowing increases ? Will voters judge Cameron and Osborne to be weaker on economic affairs than Miliband/Balls ?

  6. AW – Just to clarify, what I meant by “extreme turnout adjustment” is their decision to give a weighting of only 50% to anyone who didn’t turn out in the previous election, before they apply the certainty to vote filter. When I’ve done the calculations in the past this has had more of an effect than the rest of ICM’s turnout filter.

  7. ICMs method has proven more accurate in both low and high swing elections. I would say having no reallocation method is more extreme and inaccurate than estimating one.

  8. So seems that the country is split and the two blocs are deadlocked.

    On Cameron`s weekend pronouncements,I do feel that he`s feeling the heat of Michael Gove`s [announcements] on education reform…He seems to have the mettle,the Daily Mail are talking up his chances as leader and his background would be perfect but he would look even weirder on television than Ed Milliband.

  9. For all those who spend time discussing the effects of politicians speeches and ‘positioning’ on public opinion, last night’s YouGov trackers should be a warning.

    The two high-profile pronouncements in recent days – Miliband on immigration and Gove on exams – should show up in the fortnightly Here is a list of problems facing the country. Could you say for each of them which political party you think would handle the problem best? trackers in last night’s YouGov:


    On ‘Asylum and immigration’ Labour go up a point 16 to 17. Like the corresponding Tory drop 32 to 31 this is almost certainly random movement. On ‘Education and schools’ Conservatives stay the same on 25%. Even among the much-pandered-to over-60s Labour lead 32-31 (though the over-60’s last night may be more pro-Labour than usual).

    Despite all the media kerfuffle and ponderings of the ‘significance’ of this speech or that policy leak, the public seem deeply unmoved.

  10. Wouldn’t be surprised if this is closer to what would actually happen in an election now. Half of the ex-Tory don’t knows probably would bite the bullet and vote for them again ignoring the lure of UKIP. Not sure about that Lib Dem number though, I know ICM show the highest Lib Dem numbers but I can’t see their vote holding up this well.

    Hardly the 10+ leads Labour are getting in other polls but with a polling company who’s methodology of DKs leads towards Tory, I’m guessing they’d be reasonably pleased with this.

  11. Joe

    ICMs method has proven more accurate in both low and high swing elections. I would say having no reallocation method is more extreme and inaccurate than estimating one.

    That’s possibly true, though the trouble is that there are two unusual circumstances at the moment. The first is the collapse of the Lib Dem vote since 2010, the second is the rise of UKIP which might provide a home for those ex-Conservatives.

    ICM might be able to adjust their methods to cope (reducing the Lib Dem ‘assumed retention’ to a third from a half say). But pollsters don’t like to adjust their methodology all the time because it makes comparisons over time difficult.

  12. Most of this year LD’s have been polling 12% or less with mostly just one poll per month in the low-mid teens (ICM). I just don’t see where 14% comes from when nobody else sees it. Everyone else finds them just struggling into double figures at best. I think 12% is their ceiling next time, and it could easily be 9%.

    perhaps with UKIP involved the true picture is harder to fathom. I just don’t see much of a recovery for the LD’s.

  13. @Roger Mexico – ” …much-pandered-to over-60s”

    Ok, their entitlements are not under attack to the same extent as other age groups, nor are they being targeted in the same way as other sectors. Some (but not all) have benefited fron house-price booms etc… levels of pensioner poverty have fallen.

    The Fabian Society guy on R4’s You and Yours pointed out that pensions comprise the biggest share of the benefits budget, but he didn’t advocate turning the revolving spotlight of moral indignation upon them – rather getting to the root of the problem, well paid jobs and affordable housing for the rest.

    If the response of callers to the program was at all representative (probably not, but it is the only indication I have seen so far and it did surprise me) – Cameron’s Bluewater speech may have made more of an impact than other recent contributions, and not a particularly positive one.

  14. @Robbiealive- “Does “drive up standards” mean that you believe that there has been grade inflation & that this will be reversed? & that the awarding of lower grades will gain public support? Or that a change in the method of assessment will improve teaching & student achievement?”

    I don’t think there is any real question that there has been grade inflation, as confirmed by Ofqual and a host of other studies.

    If Gove gets this right then yes, I would expect this to be reversed. Having said that, I rather suspect that he recognises the political problems that maintaining the current GCSE/A level structure while having much tighter exam procedures would bring. The headlines of reduced pass rates, while perfectly logical, would be hard to explain to the electorate. In this sense, changing the name of the exam makes sense.

    The impact on teaching I don’t really know about. There is a strong element of teaching to the exam, which some teachers on here have noted. Refine the exam assessment so it properly tests knowledge and understanding and I am broadly confident that on the whole, we have great teachers who can deliver the goods. Up to now their undoubted skills have been largely wasted working in a useless system.

    Where I would agree with @Phil (I think) from the last thread, is that paradoxically, while it’s Gove who is wrestling with these problems (with much support from the right and criticism from the left) many of these problems stem from the application of right wing market based ideologies, imposed on schools by successive Tory and Labour governments.

    In essence is has been competition that has degraded the education system over the last 20 years. As @Chrislane pointed out, competitive league tables forced teaching to exams, while privatised and competing exam boards drove down standards.

  15. Roger Mexico.

    The swing LD->Lab in the polls at the moment is not too different (10-12 % roughly according to most) to that in the 1997 general election for Con->Lab where ICM worked very well and most others underestimated Conservative support as dont knows broke to their natural home as they always will. If these dont knows wont confirm their Labour support now in the midterm dolldrums they probably wont come the general election where presumably even Lab are leading it wont be a 10 point lead.

    UKIP that isnt reallocated to Con so I dont see how that makes such a different to Lab v Con support levels. If anything it would harm Con as some of these UKIP voters would end up tactically voting Con presumably (its pretty much a given that if they dont score 8-9% and only 4-5 or so most of their lost voters would be more Con than Lab)

  16. Ed Balls demands suspension of the 3p fuel tax hike in the morning, Osborne announces its cancellation in the afternoon. Can’t see how that is going to play as anything but a climbdown by the government – and is effectively another budget U-turn since it was stated then that it would remain in place.

  17. Goodness, if this carries on we’ll be largest party soon!

    I think there is a difference when voters know that changing allegiance will actually make a difference. So now the Socialist Party in the Netherlands has become the largest party as a reaction to some of the measures proposed when the PVV (Dutch ‘nasty party-UKIP’) were giving the ‘orange bookers’ (VVD) and ‘wet tories’ (Christian Democrats) their toleration support, but getting one or two ‘nasty party’ measures through, well almost, but these are being abandoned now.

    Here, some voters can take a mid-term flutter possibly but ICM reckons they will revert to type come the GE.

  18. Joe

    I think you have this one correctly analysed. ICM do have a track record on this issue.

  19. Incidentally all, as you’ll recall from the passage of the legislation on seat redistribution and the AV referendum, I have a particular fondness for watching complicated constitutional legislation getting all tangled up in Parliamentary procedure. Gary Gibbon has a very nice summary of the fun and games ahead on Lords Reform:


  20. I think the current government would like a rest from bad news – certainly self inflicted, hence the climbdown on fuel duty. But where’s the money coming from, if not from that? At this rate the AAA rating will be under some threat. GO cant afford to lose that.

  21. @Anthony Wells

    Gibbon has been following Lords reform very closely – here is a post from around the time of the Queen’s speech which covers more of the politics and includes a piece to camera:


  22. @Joe

    YouGov are at this moment reporting what people are saying, ICM are going much further and using their own assumptions to make a prediction. YouGov do at election time take into account responses on likelihood to vote, but once they did this and without any other adjustments, YouGov got pretty close also in the 2010 election (whether they were closer or not than ICM depends on which YouGov poll you compare to ICM’s – the final poll or the penultimate one on the same fieldwork day as ICM’s final one). Ditto YouGov with the London mayoral election recently.

    I think we can all agree that ICM’s adjustment for the don’t knows is a very crude one. They may be right regarding Con “don’t knows”. But I suspect that they will fall down over the treatment of the LibDem “don’t knows”, because the coalition has changed everything in terms of what a lot of their 2010 supporters thought that they stood for. Some of those undecided former LDs are going to go to Labour IMO. Bear in mind that ICM’s crude assumptions are just that, and have a much starker effect than the changes that other pollsters make when they eventually get many of their “don’t knows” to admit VI when put under pressure with a squeeze question.

  23. Regarding Lord`s reform and the speculation that it is linked to boundary changes,is there any surprise that Miliband is less than enthusiastic about it..After all,this disproportionately benefits the Tories and would negate Labour`s advantage for a long time.

  24. Joe

    The point about the Lib Dems is not about swing but about percentage of the past vote, which how ICM do their reallocation. A very high percentage of the 2010 Lib Dem vote is currently undecided, usually well over a quarter in YouGov’s figures – more than you would expect in normal circumstances. It may be that half of these will go back to the Lib Dems as in normal times, as ICM predict, but I’m not sure that would actually happen, without say a change in the Lib Dem leadership.

    I probably didn’t make myself very clear with the UKIP comment. What I meant was that if they are still a credible alternative at the next election, it would give dissatisfied ‘right-wing’ Tories somewhere else to go rather than be forced back to voting Conservative by lack of an alternative. This again is different from the past, so again the ICM reallocation might not work.

    Both points are full of ‘if’s of course and ICM are probably waiting to see what happens long-term, which is fair enough.

    ICM’s tables are now up by the way:


  25. Phil

    While I gave ICM some support I do not mean to say the other pollsters are way out or anything. i think it must be trends that we follow here and in this case it would appear that my party has a little lift but, if not MOE, I cannot imagine from where the source of enthusiasm arises.

    Perhaps it will be suggested that soft Cons could be reacting to the rightish pronouncements of the PM? many are women remember – beware the WI as TB found out.

  26. On Lords reform, Gibbon states that Miliband is quite happy for it to go to a second reading but will only be willing to vote for a guillotine when the amendments he wants are passed. Why the use of “when” – shouldn’t it be a case of “if”?

    Lords reform hardly registers on the radar as a priority of the public for change. So it seems quite defensible for Miliband to play hard to get as a means of using up parliamentary time and of sowing discord in the coalition as a bonus.

  27. A 5% Labour lead, if that was the actual GE outcome, would be enough to get Labour a majority, I’d think. All the rest is simply bonus points. ;-)

  28. Phil

    You may be right about tactics but it all seems so empty of conviction and if the public are not interested otherwise, could not the Government use the politicking moves to exclaim ‘EM posturing while we are trying to get on with what matters’?

    A voter could well ask, ‘Does Labour want electoral reform and give me enfranchising power or not?’

  29. Amber

    39 is certainly a long way from 29, I’ll give you that.

  30. In fact it’s a majority of 30 on the new boundaries. LD have 20 seats, which gives the Labour ‘usual suspects’ a hope of checking the administration when they feel like it.

  31. @ Howard

    ICM VI = Labour Majority of 30 per Anthony’s provisional boundaries swing-o-thing. And it’s certainly much better than where we were in 2010! :-)

  32. Phil

    I think it’s “when” and “if”. They will oppose the timetabling motion at the start, let things drag on chaotically while we all munch popcorn, force support of the amendments that Labour want (in truth probably not too different from what the coalition propose) and only then vote for a guillotine motion.

  33. These borrowing figures do seem quite bad. Apart from the headline figure, the main cause seems to be a drop in income tax receipts of over 7%. Just a single month, but numbers for George are tight.

    Set against this, the latest climb down on budget measures over the petrol prices further adds to the impression of a government wallowing as events wash over them. Not least the clear impression that no one else knew of this this morning. There seems to be no willingness to fight on any policy detail. Like paying ransoms for kidnap victims, there are time when taking an unpleasant hit is better than getting a reputation for caving in.

    We’ve now seen oil prices fall sharply by around $35 a barrel (25%) over the last three months, which has been a relative fast and consistent fall with plenty of signs that it will continue.

    Around two months ago this started feeding into road fuel prices, with diesel falling by 10p/litre since April and unleaded around 8p. Again, there is every sign that between now and August these price falls are likely to continue.

    Against this background, although there would still have been a campaign, it’s really quite likely the government could have got the revenue from the duty rise with no increase visible at the pumps. In the months and years ahead, when prices rise, George could actually have delivered a price cut at a time and place of his choosing (closer to an election) if there is really money in the kitty to afford this, but have kept the income in the meantime.

    As it is, not having a duty rise is a political damp squib. People complain if they see taxes going up, and cheer if they see them coming down, but the cheers are pretty muted if they are not seeing a proposed tax rise actually happen.

    What is number one priority – deficit reduction, or making sure the Chancellor retains poll position to succeed the PM?

  34. @ Alec

    I reckon the hauliers’ (rumoured) threat to the government – that they’d bring the country to a standstill during the Olympics in protest at the proposed fuel tax rise – was just too scary.

  35. ICM poll in detail, in Con/Lab/LD/Other order, with the net effect of each adjustment in brackets

    Stated VI 31.3, 43.1, 12.4, 13.2

    After weighting by certainty to vote
    32.0(+0.7), 42.5(-0.6), 12.3(-0.1), 13.2(0.0)

    After further weighting of non 2010 voters by 50% only
    32.2(+0.2), 41.9(-0.6), 12.5(+0.2), 13.4(0.0)

    After reallocation of 50% DK/Refusals and rounding (published figures)
    34 (+1.8), 39 (-2.9), 14 (+1.5), 13 (-0.4)

    The tally of the DK/Refusals that have been reallocated back at a weighting of 50%, and made such a difference, is Con 67, Lab 24, LD 42 (i.e. 33.5 to Con, 12 to Lab, 21 to LD), with Other not disclosed. With such a disproportionate share of Conservatives – very different to YouGov incidentally – clearly any reallocation method is going to narrow the gap with Labour substantially. Note though that before the reallocation, UKIP are only on 3%. With such low numbers it’s difficult to see the Cons clawing back declared UKIP VI but a fair number of undecided Cons could be toying with support for UKIP.

  36. @Howard

    A single voter could well ask that, whether hordes of voters will do likewise is less likely.

    It is indeed cynical, but I’d expect any opposition worth their salt to grasp the opportunity to mess up a government’s parliamentary timetable. That’s because it puts the opposition in a position to exert a bit of leverage over which bills will pass and which won’t. And perhaps the LDs might become a bit reluctant to support other Government guillotine motions as leverage to try and help get their own bill through.

  37. ICM VI before adjustments is much the same as YG.

    I wonder, will the adjustments be revised as we get closer to an actual GE? And how does it compare to their crowd sourced forecast?

  38. Benedict Brogan is reporting that Cameron has told certain Tories that whipping on the Lords reform timetable will be light-touch: “MPs who have troubled to ask the PM in private have been assured that rebellion on Lords reform will do no harm to their career prospects.”

    Gibbon is hearing from senior Lib Dems sources that “the PM is committed to heavy duty whipping (career threatening conversations etc).

    They can’t both be right… or can they?

    LDs are desperate for something to show from their time in government, and Cameron appears to sympathise – but there will be a large swathe of Tory MPs who will be boiling mad if reforms show any prospect of being passed by Clegg, Cameron and Miliband.

  39. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2164863/Sir-Mervyn-warns-Britain-wont-recover-financial-crisis-years-public-borrowing-surges-18billion.html

    If the UK economy is still in a mess at the 2015 GE ,what will the strategy of the main three UK parties be ?

    Would Nick Clegg try to persuade his Lib Dem colleagues to form another coalition with the Tories ?

    If Nick Clegg tried to form another coalition with the Tories, what affect would this have on the Lib Dems?

    Would David Cameron try to persuade the Tories not to oppose Lib Dem candidates in the seats they currently hold ?

    How would Labour campaign against another ConLib coalition ?

    Would UK voters accept another ConLib coalition if their policies are deemed to have been a failure ?

    Has YG asked people whether they would prefer a Labour majority government or a ConLIb government ?

  40. @R HUCKLE
    `If the UK economy is still in a mess at the 2015 GE ,what will the strategy of the main three UK parties be ?`

    I think that`s one of the reasons Cameron has started talking of slashing welfare…If the economy doesn`t improve,then Cameron will go to the country with the premise that he will take the bold decisions the country needs including cutting the welfare bill dramatically.A Thatcheresque transformation for hard times.

  41. Phil,
    I find the pre-adjustment figures vs last month also interesting.

    Headline VI –
    Con 34 (-2), Lab 39 (-2), Lib 14 (+3)

    Before any adjustments –
    Con 31.2 (-2.7), Lab 43.1 (+1.1), Lib 12.3 (+3.4)

    So before any adjustments, there’s actually an improvement in Lab VI, not a fall.

    Now compare this to April –
    Headline VI (and now)-
    Con 33 (+1), Lab 41 (-2), Lib 15 (-1)

    But take the pre-adjustment figures –
    Con 31.3 (-0.1), Lab 43.1 (-1.1), Lib 12.1 (+0.2)

    So no real change for Lib or Con, Lab down from April but still their second best VI of the year.

  42. @RHuckle

    Labour will be campaigning on “pre-disribution” rather than “redistribution”. Incomes will in all likelihood still be in decline… there will be less scope for tax-and-spend, even if Labour wanted to offer that hostage to the Con/LD election campaigns. A Labour government will ensure that responsible capitalism makes good the debt it owes to society.

  43. Err..
    “But take the pre-adjustment figures –
    Con 31.3 (-0.1), Lab 43.1 (-1.1), Lib 12.1 (+0.2)”
    Should read Lab 44.2, for April.

  44. Ipsos-MORI poll on Holyrood constituency VI (change since 2011 election in brackets).

    SNP 45% (nc) : Lab 32% (nc) : Con 12% (-2) : LD 6% (-2)

  45. @KeithP

    You said “…Most of this year LD’s have been polling 12% or less with mostly just one poll per month in the low-mid teens (ICM). I just don’t see where 14% comes from when nobody else sees it. Everyone else finds them just struggling into double figures at best. I think 12% is their ceiling next time, and it could easily be 9%…”

    My take on this is more philosophical – the question about whether ICM or YouGov are more “accurate” is meaningless: there is no election on. Given this, and the differences in methodology between them, it’s pointless comparing ICM to YouGov. (There’s a joke about two statisticians going duck-hunting: one fires wide to the left, one wide to the right, and they shout “HIT!”) I think the best we can do with pollster X is the longitudinal trend: take the polls by pollster X since the 2010 election and that’ll tell you where the parties are going. As Statgeek has amply demonstrated, the LDs have gently declined by ~1pt since the beginning of the year: given their low ratings at the beginning of the year, this is not good news for the LDs

    Regards, Martyn

  46. @ RHuckle

    Has YG asked people whether they would prefer a Labour majority government or a ConLIb government ?
    Yes, it is a regular question asked by YG. I can’t remember the most recent result but if you can’t find it on the YG site, I’ll try to find it later today & post a link.

  47. I’m glad that Mr Osborne has finally seen sense and scrapped this plan fuel tax rise that would just hit the hardworking and poor even more than they are already suffering.

    Unlike some, I don’t see the harm in changing your mind. We see this pantomime of people complaining about a policy, (as indeed in this case was I) but then when some such as myself embrace the fact the government has changed it’s mind, others then change tact and decide to moan that the government has made a U turn.

    I couldn’t disagree with Thatcher more when she gave that “The Lady is not for turning” speech it just shows her arrogance. But what baffles me even more is how some, not Thatcher supports, have now taking this mantra as a benchmark of good governance.

    Do we expect our government to get it correct 100% of the time? I’ve made my thoughts very clear on this fiasco of a coalition government, but one saving grace is that they do buckle when under enough public pressure.

    I’d rather a government that get’s it wrong, then fixes it’s mistake rather than a government that get’s it wrong but refuses to change policy for fear of it being labeled a U-turn.

  48. @Rhuckle

    You said “…If the UK economy is still in a mess at the 2015 GE ,what will the strategy of the main three UK parties be ?…”

    * Libs: It’s all the fault of Europe.
    * Conservative: It’s all the fault of Europe. And the Libs
    * Labour: It’s all the fault of Europe. And the Conservatives. And the Libs
    * UKIP: It’s all the fault of Europe. And Labour. And the Conservatives. And the Libs
    * Green: It’s all the fault of Europe. And UKIP. And Labour. And the Conservatives. And the Libs.

    Regards, Martyn

  49. R Huckle

    Do you not have to factor in the NHS candidates that will be standing in the coalition seats.Seeing as doctors are the most trusted by the general public,would this not be a factor on those seats.

  50. Sorry forgot this bit.

    and wouldn’t Labour push there voters towards the doctors in seats they couldn’t win.Like they did with the Liberals.

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