The August ICM poll for the Guardian is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 31%(-3), LAB 38%(+5), LDEM 12%(nc), UKIP 10%(+1). It’s a much higher Labour lead than ICM have shown of late, their polls for the last few months have been showing Labour and Conservative essentially neck-and-neck. As ever, don’t read too much into a single poll, it might be the start of a broader Labour increase… or may just be normal sample volatility.

The poll also asked how people would vote with Boris Johnson as Tory leader, and found the Tories on 34% (3 points higher), Labour on 37% (one point lower) and UKIP two points lower. This is different from the conclusion to the YouGov poll at the weekend that showed virtually no change from a Boris leadership, but it appears to be the result of slightly different approaches to asking the question. Compared to their standard question, bot h YouGov and ICM found Labour’s lead reduced by three points when you asked how people would vote with Boris as leader. However, the difference is that YouGov also asked a control question of how people would vote if the leaders remained Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, and that also reduced the Labour lead by 2 points, accounting for much of the apparent “Boris difference”.

That said, I wouldn’t take “How would you vote with X as leader” questions too seriously anyway. People are rubbish at answering hypothetical questions, and here we’re expecting them to say how they’d vote with X as leader without knowing what changes X would make, what priorities and policies they’d adopt or anything else about what an X leadership would look like. They can be useful straws in the wind, but really, they are no more than that.

UPDATE: Meanwhile the Sun have just tweeted the daily YouGov poll: CON 33%, LAB 37%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%

224 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 31, LAB 38, LD 12, UKIP 10”

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  1. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by four points: CON 33%, LAB 37%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%

  2. “It’s all gone quite over there”

  3. On the previous thread the ICM poll was met by general ridicule by most of the regular posters. As a non-regular poster, could someone explain why ICM is regarded with such disdain?

  4. Newforest
    Au contraire. ICM has a high standing sometimes known particularly on the right as the gold standard but a jolting change as shown here without obvious explanation is likely to be put down to the vagaries of chance by all comers here.

  5. But if a few more come along with more than a 3 point Labour lead the belief will grow that gap is opening up.

  6. NFR
    Weighting by previous vote. There is no need to do that unless one is in the prediction business, as opposed to just telling it how it is.

  7. Are polls with such volatility really worth anything? Either the last one was right or this one is, or they are both wrong.
    LD no change. Tories down 3. But Labour and UKIP up 6 between them. So where has Labour got its extra %age from?

    Given that most people cannot name their MP or three quarters of the cabinet and virtually all of the shadow cabinet – just what impulse is it that prompts an answer? Does the govt get the ‘blame’ for events it has no control or responsibility for?
    Bad weather
    The Warsi flounce
    The latest Labour gimmick

  8. @ NewForestRadical,

    It really shouldn’t be. I think people are confusing it with ComRes.

    ICM do reallocate DKs very aggressively, which is potentially a problem in an election cycle in which the Lib Dems have undergone a structural collapse. They’re also a phone poll with a small sample size, which means their results can be somewhat volatile, and they don’t poll frequently enough to establish a good baseline.

    But they performed better than everyone except Ipsos Mori and RNB Research in 2010, and better then everyone except for YouGov in the European Elections. They’re a reputable pollster.

  9. Surely the most likely explanation is Labour have improved but that this leap is actually a bit large because sample variation gave Labour a ‘bad one’ last time but a ‘good one’ this time.

    No need to get excited. Good news for Labour but not like over the moon stuff.

  10. Sky news has just quoted a yougov poll, saying 55% intend to vote No in the Scottish referendum, a 20% lead over Yes.

  11. Both the Labour and Tory VIs in this poll are fairly normal looking for ICM, although somewhat further apart than usual. It’s the past few months with Labour in the low thirties (and sometimes behind the Tories) that have been unusual- a Lab VI of 35-38% has been standard for ICM over the past year and a half.

    This poll is probably a bit high- Labour have dropped a point or two with YouGov and Populus, so I’d expect ICM to show a similar drop and for the new range to be 34-36%- but it’s within MoE if we believe the baseline is around 35%.

  12. Spearmint
    Well come on then, tell us why Comres is not reputable (I put it mildly purposely). I don’t see why their methods should get a differing result from Friday to Monday.

  13. Spearmint
    Sorry I meant Populus, these names, oh dear.

  14. Good Evening All.


    I think that the Lib Dem figure looks high, as does the Lab lead.

  15. bramley

    That’s the poll dealt with on the previous thread.

  16. “Good Evening All.


    I think that the Lib Dem figure looks high, as does the Lab lead.

    Bon soir to you chris: based on what???

  17. Interesting on ICM. There appears to he a difference of view. On the previous thread Crossbat11 wrote

    ‘As with all ICM polls, ignore and move swiftly on is my advice. The gaiety of the nation has been given its monthly boost and we must look elsewhere, alas, for more serious psephological nourishment.
    I think their next poll in September may well have the Lib Dems in the lead!’

    And Jim Jam was almost equally as dismissive but on this thread I hear that ICM was one of the closest in 2010. Mmmmm! Confused!

  18. @Hookeslaw

    “The latest Labour gimmick”

    You were doing ever so well with that list of issues you were going through, but this one gave the game away a little, I thought. :-)

    As for ICM, I don’t think it’s an issue of belittling them as a pollster per se, and they may well have been proved accurate in past elections but their recent performance has been so erratic and out of kilter with the preponderance of other pollsters that one has to raise eyebrows at their monthly revelations. All the other counter-evidence tells us that opinion just hasn’t been moving around in the way that their polls have suggested and while it’s always interesting to debate the vagaries of differing methodologies, their thermometer seems to be picking up markedly different and strange temperatures of late.

    By the way, I’m fascinated by all this pseudo-science on methodology. Why the marked differences? Surely we’ve travelled far enough now with polling to have arrived at a settled state and consensus on what makes for the most accurate method of sampling opinion. I mean, you don’t have different theories and methods of brain surgery, do you? Haven’t the neuro-surgeons sort of worked out the best way of doing it by now in terms of what leads to the most successful outcomes?

    We’ll soon get all very tribal and possessive about it, I suspect. “Always been a Survation man me.” “What, Survation? They’re rubbish they are. You can’t beat ICM in my view”. “ICM, you’re having a laugh, aren’t you? Give me You Gov any day. As for ComRes, well, and don’t talk to me about Opinium…………………….”

    This could all get very silly eventually.

  19. crossbat11


  20. “We’ll soon get all very tribal and possessive about it, I suspect.”

    Fortunately the rest of politics is never like that ;)

    ICM’s historical accuracy is down to their method generally succeeding in identifying which party’s voters are least likely to admit their VI, and which people who say they will vote for a particular party are either most flaky or least likely to turn out. On the other hand, you could criticise them relative to YouGov for being less interested in reflecting the current popularity of the parties, and more in predicting the GE outcome. Apples and pears really.

    Those who are more skeptical of ICM this time do so on the basis of their LD and UKIP numbers consistently being way out there compared to what the polls are saying. My stance is that even at this late stage most people still think the LDs will poll in double figures and UKIP will dip at least slightly on their current average: the question is therefore not whether they stick out like a sore thumb in the wrong direction, but whether they have over-emphasized the extent to which those parties will change between now and May.

    As for the big two parties, the general ICM trend was that Labour looked on course for a big win in the popular vote a year or two ago, but that recently the race has been tightening, which isn’t all that different to YouGov. This latest ICM poll does look like a bit of an outlier though.

  21. Thank you OldNat. That makes sense but Sky didn’t say how old the poll was so I thought it may have been repeated.

  22. “All the other counter-evidence tells us that opinion just hasn’t been moving around in the way that their polls have suggested and while it’s always interesting to debate the vagaries of differing methodologies, their thermometer seems to be picking up markedly different and strange temperatures of late.”

    ICM’s trend:

    The overall trend:

    The numbers for individual parties might be different, particularly for the LDs (who are shown), and UKIP (who aren’t), but the bigger picture – the trends of VI between the four parties – is very much in lines with other pollsters.

  23. Have just been pre-moderated, presumably for linking to external URLs. Compare the ICM trend graph with the overall trend graph, and while the LDs are higher (and UKIP would be lower if on the graphs), the actual trends for the relative performance of the four parties since 2010 are pretty much in line with other pollsters. Albeit on that basis you would have to say this latest poll is right on the edge of the margin of error for the big two parties.

  24. ChrisHornet

    Most external links are OK, but linking to the Grauniad will have you plunged into the abyss to die horribly in boiling oil.

    Putting a space between “h” and “ttp” usually saves you from that fate.

  25. Hookeslaw

    Does the govt get the ‘blame’ for events it has no control or responsibility for?


    Very good question. I suggest the answer is a resounding “No” in this Parliament. Between 2010-2013, Osborne blamed poor economic performance on:

    Bad weather (Winter 10/11)
    Royal Wedding (Spring 11)
    Good weather (Spring 2012)
    Queen’s Jubilee (Summer 2012)
    Bad weather (Summer 2012)

    The Govt clearly could not be expected to be responsible for that exceptional run of bad fortune, and the polls suggest that the electorate didn’t hold them responsible either.

    Mind, the Govt wasn’t responsible for the Olympics either, and the polls didn’t reward them when we had an uptick in economic performance as a result of the ticket sales. What a spectacularly sensible lot we electors are.

  26. Good Morning Everyone.
    Hello to you; my ‘analysis’ is based on old common sense or intuition.

  27. New YouGov indy poll:

    “It found 61% of Scots are planning to vote No with 39% wanting to leave the UK. The YouGov survey for the Sun was partially carried out after last week’s TV debate between First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together campaign chief Alistair Darling.

    And the lengthy referendum campaign appears to have taken its toll on Scots with 39% saying there should never be another vote on independence, while 17% say it should be at least 20 or 30 years before another is staged.

    Including the don’t knows, the poll shows 55% supporting a No vote, with 35% backing independence, while 9% are undecided.”

  28. Oops, that poll’s yesterday’s news. M’bad!


    @”Does the govt get the ‘blame’ for events it has no control or responsibility for?”

    Bad weather -Yes-the Floods
    Gaza-Yes-not being rude to Israel
    Iraq-Yes-Invading & then not Invading.
    The Warsi flounce-Yes-losing a Muslim Minister.
    The latest Labour gimmick-Don’t think so-but could be wrong.

  30. I’m fairly sure at least two and possibly three of those are things over which the government has both control and responsibility to deal with.

  31. Shazbot.

    Probably not the best episode, but it does open with Mork conducting some polling for Nelson Flavour (and stars Raquel Welsh as Captain Nirvana):

  32. @Crossbat
    “Why the marked differences? Surely we’ve travelled far enough now with polling to have arrived at a settled state and consensus on what makes for the most accurate method of sampling opinion”
    Samples too small. Bigger samples too expensive. Different pollsters have different methodology to compensate.

  33. @Hookeslaw
    ”Does the govt get the ‘blame’ for events it has no control or responsibility for?”

    In this parliament the senior coalition partner had led a charmed life, with most events being blamed on the junior coalition partner.

    As to whether a governments are blamed for events over which they have little or no control or resonsibility, generally they are. It’s a little like the response a football manager at least 30 years ago regarding a comment that a player was not offside because he was not interfering with play or seeking to gain an unfair advantage (as the interpretation of the offside rule then provided). He answered: “If he’s not interfering with play, what is he doing on the pitch?”

    Voters blame governments for things that go wrong because they are the government and elections are referendums on the government. It is always deemed by the voters to have interfered with play, even if it was nowhere near the ball or even the pitch at the time.

  34. Not sure that this got a mention yesterday -

    The fieldwork was May – July, so pre dates the debate, but the findings are quite interesting. Headlines are Yes 25%, No 43%. Yes if up 5% on 2013, but this is still a very poor score for them – devastatingly bad, if accurate. Not quite sure why this is so different all other polls?

    The other illuminating finding is the currency question. 68% back using sterling, but within an agreed currency union. Only 8% back using sterling without an agreement, with 14% backing a new currency and 6% the Euro.

    I think these numbers suggest why Salmond is so desperate to insist that there will be a currency union.

  35. @James Peel
    IMHO that article should not be taken seriously. In most scenarios it is possible to find a set of numbers ( any old date will do ) which ‘proves’ your argument.. If your particular enterprise is in a much deeper hole than your rivals then the chances are that, when you begin climb out, you can claim that your position is “improving at a much greater rate” than your rivals.

  36. My grandchildren posting Robin Williams clips on Facebook & saying how he was part of their childhood.

    Hope he knew what he meant to so many.

  37. @colin – yes, it does seem something of a shock. I understand he suffered from long term depression, and I always feel very sorry for people wrestling with that kind of challenge. Mental health remains one of the most challenging personal and social issues we face, yet it remains relegated to a secondary role in both the public mind and government priorities. I think that can make it even harder for those who do suffer.

  38. ALEC

    I have no idea what US government policy is on mental health.

    Robin Williams was a comic genius & I hope his soul is being borne aloft by the loving memories of so many young people.

  39. Warst “flounce”.

    I am no fan of hers but find it really exasperating that such terminology always seems to be used.

    She resigned on a genuine point of principle and wrote a very courteous letter to Cameron offering her full support in the general direction of government..

    What exactly is “flouncy” about that? [Of course, flouncing is what wimmin do though isn’t it? ]

  40. That’s a nice thought, Colin

  41. @Rosieanddaisie

    A ‘flounce’ is when a politician resigns in such a way as to make your team look bad.

    A ‘principled resignation’ is when a politician resigns in such a way to make the other team look bad.

  42. Colin

    I’m not sure that “US government policy” would be an adequate descriptor.

    There is a general strategy in place, but it’s advisory. The Federal Government offered funding to states to expand their Medicaid systems (each state has its own system), but in 2013 only 20 states had taken up the offer. 60% of Americans living with serious mental illness have no access to mental health care at all (since so many such don’t have a high enough paid job to afford medical insurance).

    Less than half of the cost of State Mental Health programmes is Federally funded.

    The extent to which private medical insurance covers the cost of treatment depends on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield policies which operate in each state, and their ability to attract state and private funding – unless you (or your employer) can afford the really expensive cover provided by totally private insurance companies.

  43. Chris Riley

    What is the terminology for a junior minister resigning because the rules prevent him being reimbursed for living at his chosen Westminster address ? He could of course chose to live a tube ride away but perhaps that’s not acceptable to him even though the cost to the public purse would be less.

    If we accept his reasons for resigning & not standing again are due to family & financial difficulties, why does he not resign immediately ?

  44. bramley

    That is flouncing out on a matter of financial principle – but not all at once ‘cos there’s more money in hanging around for a bit.

  45. Alec

    Thanks for that link.

    I thought this bit was revealing:

    Just 27% of women supported independence, compared with 39% of men. This 12 point gap is double that of 2013 (6%) and is the highest ever found in a Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

    As I recall, there have been many debates on here where women have frequently been shown in polls to be much more cautious than men, particularly around financial matters.

    I think it will be one of the main drivers that will result in a No vote next month.

  46. R&D

    Lol. I entirely agree but I was trying to put it more subtly than that !

  47. Colin
    It is so terribly sad that the joy and optimism that Williams brought to millions , will now inevitably be overshadowed by the manner of his death.

  48. EWEN

    I don’t think it will-not at all.

    Tinged with the sadness of-but not overshadowed.

  49. Times cartoon today is vicious:

    h ttps://

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