ICM have released their August poll for the Guardian. Topline voting intention figures are CON 40%, LAB 31%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 4%. Full tables are here.

This is the first ICM poll since the election to feature an updated methodology in light of the polling error. Since 1993 or so ICM have reallocated people who don’t give a voting intention based on how they say they voted at the previous election. Colloquially this is often known as a “shy Tory” adjustment, as when it was initially introduced in the 1992 to 1997 Parliament it tended to help the Tories, though after the Iraq war it actually tended to be a “shy Labour” adjustment, and in the last Parliament it was a “shy Lib Dem” adjustment.

In practice ICM didn’t reallocate all their don’t knows and refusals as many people who refuse to give a current voting intention also refuse to say how they voted at the last election (ICM call these people “total refusals”, as opposed to “partial refusals” who say how they voted last time but not this time). Under the new method ICM are also attempting to estimate the views of these “total refusals” – they are reallocated at the same rate as “partial refusals” but are assumed to split slightly more in favour of the Conservatives, based upon what ICM found in their post-election re-contact survey. The effect on this change on ICM’s headline figures this month is to increase the level of Conservative support by one point and decrease Labour support by one point.

The implication of this adjustment is that at least some of the error at the general election was down to traditional “shy Tories”, that those who refused to answer pollsters’ questions were disproportionately Conservative supporters. However, from being on panels with Martin Boon since the election and hearing him speak at the British Polling Council inquiry meeting I don’t think he’ll have concluded that “shy Tories” was the whole of the problem, and in ICM’s tables they are clear that they “expect to produce further methodological innovations in the future.”


689 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 40, LAB 31, LDEM 7, UKIP 10, GRN 4”

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  1. First?

  2. Has the status of polling fallen so low, or is that inconsequential that no-one responds?

  3. The implication of this poll, like others recently, is to show that there has been a sizeable shift, representing perhaps a three per cent swing, to the Tories since May. This actual change in voting preferences has a bigger effect on the results reported than “tweaking” of the figures for metholdogical reasons.

    It appears that UKIP and the LibDems are still in the bad position that they were at the time of the General Election, and Labour have definitely gone backwards.

    I cannot see this state of affairs lasting until 2020. But what will change we will have to wait and see.

  4. @Frederick

    Labour are in the middle of an existential crisis. They are not capable of stringing a political sentence together, never provide a constructive opposition.

    This will change, but I can’t see any value in poll watching for another 12 months. Labour needs a new leader, and the party needs to rethink everything.

    The Tories have the field to themselves.

  5. Frederic Stansfield
    ‘The implication of this poll, like others recently, is to show that there has been a sizeable shift, representing perhaps a three per cent swing, to the Tories since May. This actual change in voting preferences has a bigger effect on the results reported than “tweaking” of the figures for metholdogical reasons’

    I am not sure where the 3% swing comes from. The Tories led by 6.6% in May whilst poll shows a 9% lead. That represents a swing of 1.2%. On the former ICM basis we would be looking at a 7% lead which is barely any swing at all.

  6. 3-4 small errors seems more likely than one big error.

  7. It’s really very hard to make any sense out of polls at this point in the cycle. The election has been and gone, but is fresh in everyone’s minds. Therefore the polling is artificial. We have to wait until next spring before it becomes meaningful, when there will be some real elections to foucs the mind.

  8. Good evening all from my hame toon Wokingham. Now I think MP’S should take a leaf out of my aunts tree over the ole expenses saga.

    The company I work for were going to book me into the Premier Inn at Burgh Heath for 4 days as I’m working down at our Reigate offices but I said….”No, I’m staying at my ole aunts” saving the company a fortune. Mind you the petrol receipts are mounting but it’s nice to be honest over expenses because I would had been given a £50 per night food and drink allowance paid into my own bank account.

    Okay waffle over and onto tonight’s poll. One thing is evident and that appears to be no JC bounce. Maybe when he’s elected in September we might see a shift but I really do think his appeal factor only appeals to the Labour core vote.

    Lib/Dems!! there really isn’t anything to say on them however the Scottish sub-sample looks fantastic for the SNP. If I’m reading the charts correctly then they are on 69% which ain’t a million miles from the latest Holyrood poll just a few days ago.

  9. Can I just say with reference to the last topic and the Britiah press (including the liberal papers) that mentioning Podemos and Linke (or even Syriza to a degree) in the same category displays an utter ignorance? Just to be clear: Podemos would be the equivalent of a party set up by the chamber of commerce. While Syriza did grown out of anti-austerity, Linke did not, and anti-austerity is not their main USP.

  10. Horrible spelling. Apologies.

  11. I would say that this poll probably accurately indicates the level of party identification at the present time. I would also expect the Tory vote to be higher and the Labour vote to be lower in an actual election because of differential turnout. People are less keen to vote when they know they are going to lose.

    You can see why Labour are looking for straws to clutch at but concentrating on a smaller constituency, the far left in this instance, will further reduce their electability. The number of people who stand to lose under a left wing government, comfortably exceeds the number who would gain. The calculations have moved on since the 80s when the numbers were more in balance. The longest suicide note in history is about to lose its status.

  12. Catmanjeff,

    And they seem to be using the field for sunbathing during the summer and generally recharging their batteries while Labour do an excellent job of keeping politics interesting.

  13. RMJ
    ‘. I would also expect the Tory vote to be higher and the Labour vote to be lower in an actual election because of differential turnout. People are less keen to vote when they know they are going to lose.’

    ICM are already allowing for differential turnout.

  14. JC would take the UK out of NATO and scrap Trident!! My ears are perched.

  15. @Bill

    I think, as Hawthorn said on the last thread, we are seeing a complete transformation of the centre left.

    The old ‘big tent’ that Tony Blair used is totally dead now.

    It’s fascinating viewing, and could lead to really significant changes to UK politics. It’s evolving in way that no-one can predict.

  16. Perched?

    You mean sat on a stick like a budgie?

  17. @CMJ

    Having fish inserted makes more sense.

  18. @Wood

    I recommend a Babel Fish.

  19. I wonder where the SDP/New Labour side will go? Maybe an increase in the thought dead Lib Dem vote? Will Cameron see an opportunity to move more centrist to pull supporters away? Once the EU vote is gone, I could well see that happening. I don’t have much time for him myself but a prominent Boris (even if not leader) could leave a rump Labour, no recovery for the LDs and a Ukip fading away after a riaison d’être vote (polling also says they like Boris too despite his policies).

  20. @ Frederic Stansfield,

    Labour have definitely gone backwards

    They got 31% at the election, so assuming the poll is precisely accurate they’re exactly where they were on May 7th. (Which is actually kind of impressive, considering they’ve spent all summer shooting each other in the face.)

    Although the Tories have opened up a bigger lead, so that will be a problem for them.

  21. @Colin (from previous thread)

    Thanks for your response. To clarify a few points:

    I think Wren-Lewis view is that, as the government has effectively abdicated from performing fiscal policy, the central banks should be empoered to do so. He’s pointing to the fact that they already are to an extent with QE, and that this policy would be an extension of those powers.

    He is mot, however, advocating it as a policy that should be done at all times. He believes it should be done at such times when there is a liquidity trap (interest rates are low but inflation is still not rising) and where the central bank is undershooting its inflation target, as this would be a more effective way of raising it.

    As to the concern about Zimbabwe/Venezuela, I believe that’s why he would wish to keep the power in the hands of central bankers, not politicians (as for obvious reasons they might get carried away).

    He’s written other posts on it, and on different angles of it, where I believe he addresses some of the points you raise. I could track them down for you if you’re interested?

  22. @Syzygy

    “Why do you think most peeps would wind up worse off…?”

    ———–
    Dunno what’s gonna happen, I was just putting a worst case scenario from the left’s point of view.

    Well, I suppose it could be even worse…

    It’s one thing to look back at past data and see patterns in oil prices and inflation and stuff, and how countries more dependent on foreign oil were more affected, another to try and predict what’s going to happen, with all the unknowns and vagueness as to which factors will dominate. It can quite bake a Carfrew’s noodle. So sometimes I just look for things that might possibly have some salience which may have been given insufficient attention…

    My point really, is that the advocates of investment etc. do not seem to see preserving what they enact as a pressing issue. While the right have taken the “clawback” thing you mention really quite seriously and are actually implementing mechanisms to try and prevent their efforts being undone, e.g. putting obstacles to renationalisation in these trade arrangements and stuff.

    I wasn’t actually saying it absolutely has to be such a seesaw, if the Keynesians and MMT peeps actually find ways to keep things from being undone again. My point is that it barely seems to register on their radar.
    Which, seems pretty crazy from where I’m sitting. I mean, what is the point in investing in summat like NHS Direct for a few years only to see it canned again? Tell me that isn’t at least just a little bit nuts. Or if not that, numerous other things…

    I mean, one thing they might consider for a start is investing in stuff more at arms length from government, setting up independent trusts and stuff…

  23. It’s hard to conceive of there being a shy Tory effect next time if JC is in charge of Labour in 2020. Blair was credible when Major, Hague and Howard weren’t so one might well have been embarrassed to admit voting Tory back then. But I can’t see many denying they will vote against Corbyn. If the PLP are relaxed about it then the average Tory has little to fear.

  24. “As to the concern about Zimbabwe/Venezuela, I believe that’s why he would wish to keep the power in the hands of central bankers, not politicians (as for obvious reasons they might get carried away).”

    ————

    Well, many things can be misused by some governments. Some misuse their army, would Colin suggest we therefore don’t have an army? Some chancellors wanted to join the Euro, should we therefore not have chancellors? (Well, ok, there might be a vague on that second one…)

  25. CATMANJEFF
    Perched?
    You mean sat on a stick like a budgie?
    ______

    Okay is the word perked? :-)

  26. @Carfrew

    ‘My point really, is that the advocates of investment etc. do not seem to see preserving what they enact as a pressing issue. ‘

    I so agree. Arguably, naivety is the second biggest crime that our politicians commit. Dipping out of the trade deals past and future (if necessary renegotiating) seems pretty essential for a left wing government. But TBH stitching things up in international law (ISDS) forever, seems a bit King Canute if politicians decide not to play ball.

  27. JOHN CHANIN
    It’s really very hard to make any sense out of polls at this point in the cycle. The election has been and gone, but is fresh in everyone’s minds. Therefore the polling is artificial. We have to wait until next spring before it becomes meaningful, when there will be some real elections to foucs the mind.
    ________

    What elections are happening next spring? I know Scotland has the Holyrood elections but that hardly impacts on UK polls.

    I wouldn’t write off polls so soon after the election because depending on what the polls are asking they can determine what policies a government will implement.

    How many times do you hear ministers saying “Public opinion is with us”?

  28. @Colin

    “…and Helicopter Money ( in which funds are sunk into illiquid assets) which adds permanently to the money supply.”

    ———

    Well, if all the money just went into assets like new roads, the roads themselves are not part of the money supply. Bits of road do not go sloshing around the economy being traded.

    What actually happens, is that suppliers get paid, wages get paid and spent, and this money adds to the money supply. But it needn’t be a permanent addition. If things overheat and inflation gets out of hand, you claw the money back via taxation. As you would if you spend money in the economy via conventional mechanisms e.g. borrowing.

    Whether one helicopters the money to build roads, or borrows it, you can still control the money supply via taxation etc.

  29. @Colin

    “Once you have built ten schools & hospitals with free money-why stop there? And they have to be manned-this is an “investment” too isn’t it?-investment in people etc etc?-so lets pay the teachers’ & doctors’ salaries with free money too.”

    ————

    Obviously you can’t do it ad infinitum. As you invest the money and get more growth, eventually you get near to full employment, whereupon as you know, capacity constraints will make inflation an issue whereupon you prolly have to park the helicopter.

  30. Frederic Stansfield

    The implication of this poll, like others recently, is to show that there has been a sizable shift, representing perhaps a three per cent swing, to the Tories since May. This actual change in voting preferences has a bigger effect on the results reported than “tweaking” of the figures for metholdogical reasons.

    Actually the interesting thing is how little change there has been since the Election. If you compare the percentages before ICM do their latest magic adjustments for ‘shy’ whatevers, they match pretty closely:

    Con 39% (37.8) [GB GE percentage in brackets]

    Lab 32% (31.2)

    Lib Dem 8% (8.1)

    UKIP 10% (12.9)

    Green 4% (3.8)

    Other 7% (6.3)

    the only real discrepancy is for UKIP which ICM always seem to underestimate. At most there’s maybe a one point swing Lab to Con, understandable till things settle down.

    ICM’s adjustments always strike me as a bit pointless particularly at this stage of the electoral cycle. Essentially they’re trying to predict how uncertain votes will go, but there’s nothing to say they should go anywhere at this stage. It all suggests that these alterations are a bit fitting to the data, rather than having any theory of what causes the errors in polling.

    There is however one odd thing about this poll which makes it particularly difficult to judge the new methodology. The percentage of people saying Don’t Know is actually very low at 11%. A year ago it was 22% and even the equivalent poll in 2010 gave 16%.

  31. CARFREW

    I can’t see ole Colin about…Has AW put on a special moderation so only selected posters can see his comments? He’s in bed getting all that much needed beauty sleep.

  32. All Corbyn has to say to these economic attacks is “yes you’re right we should leave it to the banksters”.

  33. @ Carfrew

    It’s getting late, so I won’t be able to comment on all the points, yet I found your comments the most insightful (apart from Roger Mexico’s interruptions, but they are a different class altogether).

    Infrastructural investment (including schools) may or may not add to productivity. There hasn’t been a coherent economic policy in the UK, so we cannot benchmark any of it.

    The interesting thing is, that, it seems to me, JC (or rather his advisors) started to put one together (they don’t care of the not existent institutional infrastrucure to implement them, but it’s a different matter). It is actually quite impressive (but I keep Spearmint’s wise words about contamination from the morning (previous topic), which was very pointed and sharp). if they can package it … After all John Oliver could package net neutrality … It’s still a social democratic programme, but …. It is centrist.

    Would be interesting ….

  34. Tablets are really annoying

    … There hasn’t been an economic policy in the UK for 50 years that would enable the productivity enhancement …

    Somehow it got cut out.

    Ok, it was me, who by ignorance didn’t check the comment, trusted the iPad, and shouldn’t blame it for it.

  35. @Laszlo

    Thanks, and yes, Roger’s posts are most excellent.

    Re: infrastructure, yes, can be tricky to work out the multipliers, but you can tell some things are of value even if tricky to measure. Even basic schooling, ensuring people are literate and numerate, is liable to assist growth. Could we calculate how much more productive your being literate makes you? Maybe not, but we may still prefer it.

    And of course, there is also the Keynesian effect of simply injecting demand into the economy by employing peeps and suppliers to build the road.

    I mean, after the crash, part of the stimulus package was… to pay people to scrap their cars. And we got back to two percent growth pretty quick.

    Some things aren’t all about productivity though. Housebuilding could not only serve as a stimulus, but also save costs in benefits and give the government as asset they can sell.

    There’s a bit of an elephant in the room in all this, in that when they build infrastructure, it may not be about productivity per se, but growth via being able to support more population. We’re on track to be the biggest population in Western Europe around 2050, which may be summat the politicians quite like…

    Regarding Corbyn, interesting info. I confess I’m not up to speed on all his policies and stuff. I don’t tend to follow party politics anything like as much as others, hence I don’t tend to comment much on internal party affairs, that’s summat I Hoover up from the board. But if he’s gonna win I suppose I had better check it out just in case Colin’s not quite been able to accurately capture Corbyn’s policies 100%…

  36. @Laszlo

    When it comes to investment in infrastructure etc., if one cannot be sure of the exact return, then I tend to employ a mechanism based on the amount of potential spin-off.

    For example, if trying to decide what research to invest in, but can’t be sure of the return, pick things that have lots of potential uses, e.g. Graphene.

    Similarly, things like literacy and numeracy can potentially assist people in so many ways in terms of their productivity that they are worth a punt, and in terms of economic planning, in terms of potential probably come some way ahead of things like, I dunno, a pasty tax.

  37. @Laszlo

    And if they can make Thorium work, then that’s seriously going to improve productivity…

  38. An important and real implication of this polling is that the Conservatives should be able to hold any seats in a by election. With a slim majority and fixed term parliaments this will be really important as we approach 2020, a government that can’t get its legislation through will appear weak and be less likely to win the subsequent election.

  39. Starry

    I don’t think Labour will split – there is no where for their more liberal minded MPs to go. I think Osborne and Cameron have learned a lot from working with the LibDems for five years and will be very mindful to keep their government in the centre ground. A more liberal Conservative party v a socialist Labour party in 2020? – there can only be one winner.

  40. ANARCHISTS UNITE

    @”I think Wren-Lewis view is that, as the government has effectively abdicated from performing fiscal policy,”

    Hardly a credible view when it has been Deficit funding Big Time for so so long.

    @”he central banks should be empoered to do so.”

    I could not disagree more, and people like Carney & Draghi would walk before taking such a brief. They have been strong in their view that State Spending & Budgets is the responsibility of Governments-not Central Banks.

    @”they already are to an extent with QE,”

    No they are not-QE is a monetary tool addressing market liquidity & interest rates.

    @” that’s why he would wish to keep the power in the hands of central bankers, not politicians”

    No-he isn’t. He is saying that Governments should make them resonsible for State spending on “infrastructure” . It is politicians who will decide what is spent & where. Central Bankers will be puppets & become an arm of government. Much more significant they cannot control interest rates & money supply if they have arbitrary money printing demands imposed on them.

    It is the stuff of Banana Republics.

    Anyway-lets see if Corbyn gets electec & advocates this nonsense from Murphy-then lets see the reaction of Financial Markets & Central Bankers.

  41. ALLAN CHRISTIE

    Welcome to leafy Surrey, we live within two miles of Burgh Heath. Enjoy your visit.

  42. Graham

    “I am not sure where the 3% swing comes from. The Tories led by 6.6% in May whilst poll shows a 9% lead. That represents a swing of 1.2%. On the former ICM basis we would be looking at a 7% lead which is barely any swing at all.”

    Trouble with thatis that all the polls underestimated the Tories vote at the GE so your comment about former ICM basis is not valid.. The ICM ajustment is only partial. My own view based on what polling evidence we have so far and the state of the Labour party is that the Tories are probably about 12% ahead.

  43. Jamie
    ‘An important and real implication of this polling is that the Conservatives should be able to hold any seats in a by election’
    Not really. Governments typically underperform in by elections – which often have a momentum of their own – in relation to national polling figures.

  44. JAMIE

    I’m not a centralist myself but I think your comment above is probably bang on. DC and especially GO seem to me to be effective politicians and will have learnt from their experience 2010-2015.

  45. @Jamie
    “An important and real implication of this polling is that the Conservatives should be able to hold any seats in a by election. With a slim majority and fixed term parliaments this will be really important as we approach 2020, a government that can’t get its legislation through will appear weak and be less likely to win the subsequent election.”

    Current polls are based on a leaderless Opposition. Polls conducted from a month or so after the Opposition select their next leader should be a better basis for discussion.

  46. RAF

    Of course that’s right but it’s nice to have apoll to discuss.

  47. @TOH

    Indeed. Of late, they’ve been extremely thin on the ground.

  48. RAF

    I suspect that depends upon who is the next leader and how effectively s/he unites the party….oh yes, and if the government continues to be popular. I don’t see the lead reversing quickly without a significant government blunder.

  49. Unemployment up for second consecutive month – having increased by 25,000 over last three months.

  50. Graham

    Maybe, but I can’t think the LibDems or UKIP will capture many Conservative seats. labour? Maybe, in the future, but not on these opinion poll ratings.

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