ICM have released their monthly poll for the Guardian, topline figures with changes from last month are CON 36%(-3), LAB 36%(+4), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 11%(nc), GRN 3%(-1). Full tables (and Martin Boon’s very wary commentary) are here. It is the first poll since the general election not to show the Conservatives ahead.

In one sense, people shouldn’t get too excited about this poll. As everyone will know, the polls at the last election overestimated Labour support, and it is possible (though not a given) that polls are still overestimating Labour now. In the case of ICM they have made some minor changes to the way they reallocate don’t knows, but such changes are limited so far. In Martin’s commentary on his poll he says that ICM are currently testing a new turnout model that would have changed this poll into a three point Conservative lead.

On the other hand, even if the absolute level of the lead in this poll is off, there has been a significant change in the lead since last month’s poll, and one that is consistent with the ComRes poll at the weekend. Sure the absolute levels of the Tory lead in the two polls is very different (because ComRes have adopted a very different turnout model to ICM), but the trend in the two polls was the same – ComRes had the Tory lead dropping by five points, ICM had the Tory lead dropping by seven points.

Even if there is reason to doubt the size of the lead in this poll or the ComRes poll, the common trend appears interesting – could the Conservative infighting and division over Europe be damaging their support?

70 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 36, LAB 36, LD 8, UKIP 11”

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  1. @AU

    “Not my wing, Colin (the name should be a clue) – I merely find it amusing how statements from a group who have manifestly failed to win elections about how they ‘know’ how to win elections are always taken at face value”


    To be fair, they “know” how to win elections when Tories have imploded and there’s an era of world wide growth.

    It’s just that they’re not so handy when there’s a banking crash they didn’t prepare for and Tories are back on their feet….

  2. Carfrew,

    And just remind us which UK parties were it that were prepared for a Banking crash.

    I am happy to accept that Labour’s regulation of the city was too lax but I don’t recall the Tories calling for it to be tougher, quite the opposite in fact.

    You kind of wonder just how much bigger and more free our banks would have been if Blair hadn’t won his third victory. I can’t find anything that says the Tories weren’t’ even keener on the City & Banks growing ever bigger than Labour.

    But we can never know or even predict how it would have been.

    Although the Tories have been highly successful (largely backed by the Press) in creating the narrative that the root of our current malaise is Labour’s stewardship of the economy and not controlling public spending, any look at the debt shows that the real difference isn’t’t between Labour & the Tories in Government but between before the crash and after the City’s £1trillon bail out.

    Far from Labour’s failing being that it was too soft on scrounges and pals with the Unions it’s two big failures seem to be more to do with triangulating on to Tory policies to win power;

    We are weak on defence compared to the Tories we need to get tough….
    Back Trident, Bomb Serbia & Invade Iraq.

    We seem hostile to business compared to the Tories we need to be friendly…..
    Cut corporation tax, loosen bank regulation, let the banks get ever bigger, let employers bring in cheaper workers from abroad!

    It’s not hard to argue that it wasn’t Labour policies that failed but free market Tory ones, it’s just that Labour adopted them, and of course, because they can’t accept that and won’t blame Brown for the crash they are stuck!


  3. I totally agree with that!

  4. Oh, that’s not good!

    I always worry when people agree with me on here!

    It usually means I am either totally wrong or there is going to be a fight!!!!


  5. Good Afternoon from a sunny Bournemouth East, in a ward by the sea.

    I think Labour lost many working class votes (C2, D and E) on perceived threats to wages from cheap labour, which came, they think, from the new parts of the EU.

    On the Economy, I am told, that Ed had been practising the question about Brown, and new the answer to give. His advisers were dismayed when he gave a different answer to the real audience, and denied that there was a problem with Labour’s budget.

    On defence I think that Unilateralism will be a big electoral problem for Labour.

    On the other hand Labour looks slightly less disunited now. I am thinking about how the 1975 Referendum was so bad for Labour at that time; as I am preparing an Assembly for our Sixth Form here in Poole.

  6. CHRISLANE1945,

    Long ago when I worked in a builders merchant I asked my immediate boss why we had so much crap stock. He said that when his boss had taken over an inherited it his advice was to write it all off and blame the last guy to give himself a clean start…..pretty good advice if you ask me!

    As to Unilateralism, a better option for Labour would be Euro NATO Multilateralism, moving from the current position to the same as Germany, Italy the Netherlands &Turkey; being able to deploy US weapons from RAF and fleet Air Arm aircraft.


    You still have access to Nukes in a crisis.
    You can point to it having worked for decades for four close allies.
    It is safer because it takes too Governments not one to fire.
    It shows we trust the special relationship and America (but do the Tories?)
    You can commit every penny saved to conventional and cyber defence…the true threats.
    It moves towards a common European nuclear posture.
    It puts you on the road to fewer and when safe no peacetime nukes in Europe.

    All sellable and a lot better than empty Trident.

  7. PETER.
    Many thanks.
    Replace Emily Thornberry now, please.

    In terms of renouncing the past: i think people would have understood and accepted a consistent line from Ed Miliband’s team:

    ‘With hindsight we should have run a budget deficit in good times for the economy; however we must point out that the Conservatives accepted Labour’s spending plans’.

  8. Chrislane

    I agree with your suggested message but would have taken it a bit further to say ‘ No Tory Govt has ever bequeathed a Labout Govt a Budget Surplus – No Tory Govt has managed to bequeath a Balance of Payments Surplus. Some Labour Govts have actually done BOTH – ie 1970/1951’.

  9. On the other hand Milliband could have pointed out the simple fact that post 1945, Conservative goverments borrow more, and replay less debt, than Labour goverments


  10. A very interesting piece indeed- though I have to say that it really does reflect very badly on Labour that they failed to make use of this data in the election campaign and the last Parliament as a whole.

  11. A 3.5% swing from Tory to Labour is too large to be due to sampling error. Is there any reason to go beyond the simple explanation that the Conservative dividions over Europe are harming them?

    I suspect this poll may have come too early to pick up the likely adverse effects for ordinary people of the budget changes.

  12. Graham,

    Over a decade of infighting within Labour had a debilitating effect.

    Too much effort was directed over time at the other side, not just eventually at each otherinstead of the Tories but being more focuses on infighting than running the Country.

    As with all faction fights what becomes important is loyalty rather than ability so talent was overlooked for support. Smart men were passed over for henchmen.

    When Brown took over not just Blair left but a lot of talent, Campbell, Mandelson, Reid.

    Not all to my liking but all people of ability.

    What’s more the people who left followed a leader because they had a shared vision and through friendship.

    Browns people were more interested in advancement and Brown was more about control than partnership.

    It’s odd that although in broad policy terms I am probably closer too Brown than Blair I think Browns style of leadership and internal campaign against Blair were examples of terrible behaviour.

    I don’t think Miliband was totally to blame but for me Labour was largely debilitated before he took over.

    Miliband was a bit like Krushiev, no great leader and a bit erratic but what could anyone do after what Stalin had done!



    A 3.5% swing from Tory to Labour is too large to be due to sampling error.

    Actually it isn’t. The margin of error on a sample of 629 (which is the original number of respondents giving a VI) is +/- 3.7. Telephone polls always have a higher margin because more people are likely to say they won’t know or won’t say how they will vote.

    And that margin is before you take account of all the weighting and manipulation that have rightly done, which increases the minimum caused only by sample size and random variation.

  14. I think a swing of 3.5% Con to Lab could easily be sampling error. A slightly duff sample could easily create a swing only 0.4% more that the usual 3.1% margin of error.

    While the Conservatives appear a little split on Europe, I don’t think that Labour’s position on the referendum is likely to change voting intention very much.

    I will personally be viewing this as a slightly smelly poll, unless further ones back it up.

  15. Much as I’d like to think otherwise, I fear this latest ICM poll may be a bit of a turkey. It’s possible that Tory infighting over Europe is reminding some voters of what they never really liked about the Tories, even though they may have lent them their vote last May, but all this methodological soul-searching and experimentation is straining credibility to breaking point.

    When the pollsters themselves, Ratner-like, rubbish their own products, then it’s time to have a very serious think about the current value and point of political opinion polling.

    And to think that I used to be a poll junkie too! Time to put away childish things, maybe.

  16. Hm … Using the terminologies of the pollsters to argue that they are not right…

    It is quite possible that it was a sampling error.

    It is quite possible that the methodological penalties actually underestimate labour (I don’t really think that, but it is worth as much as any other arguments about it) – so Labour is 3% ahead, but it’s within the MoE, so it’s 3% behind.

    Labour didn’t do anything to earn the extra percentages – McDonnell’s sudden pink Tory budget principle doesn’t count for a number of reasons.

    Europe doesn’t count either – nobody has heard Labour either because they didn’t say anything, or the noise was too high.

    However, the NHS issue is there – but unless Tories continue with their policies (which is a possibility) – it is not a game changer in the short term (being desllusioned).

    Labour doesn’t have a narrative right now (I don’t think they need, and I don’t think they can considering the split). But they actually don’t need one right now. It would be drown in the noise of the referendum – there is no narrative from the Greens (not even from UKIP to be honest).

    It comes back to the DKs – but as they are not part of the structured sample – who knows. If GO makes the move that newspapers say, we could even see a Labour lead – yet it means nothing really about 2020. Labour’s only real hope is changing the voters’ sample (as opposed to the population sample).

  17. @Laszlo

    Currently, (in my very humble opinion), the only party doing well is the SNP.

    Labour have gone absent without leave on almost every issue, the Conservatives are setting themselves an enormous task to put the Referendum disagreements behind them once it is over, and the Greens and Lib Dems have entirely fallen off the end of radar of most voters. UKIP seem to be treading water.

    The word that sums it up is malaise.

  18. One poll says it’s 38-29 in favour of the Tories, and another poll says it’s 36-36….

    That’s like asking a man with two watches, what’s the time. If the two watches have different times, then he’s unsure.

    Right now, I’m unsure what the polls are telling me….

  19. While I think that this poll is something of an outlier, other polls suggest that the direction of travel is correct.

    I think the Tory disunity on Europe is having some effect. While Labour also have divisions on the same issue, it is less in the media glare – plus the tory divisions bring back memories of the Major years….which were disasterous for the Tories.

    However, the one issue that I think has had a bigger impact is the £30 cut to ESA.

    There have been a LOT of picture posts on social media singling out individual Tory MPs – stating that they are tories and pointing out that (1) they voted for the cut, (2) that the cut affects disabled people and (3) Said MPs salary and expenses (an issue still sore with the public.

    This has, IMO, been very effective. I would, of course, expect left wing friends to post/share these, but I am also seeing more than a few right wing friends do so as well.

    This has, I think, proven to be a successful tactic that I think has benefitted Labour (even though it almost certainly didn’t come from them), or more to the point, has hurt the tories – perhaps (at least in the short term) badly.

    In the short term, Labour, if it wants to do well, should hammer this issue home.

    In the longer term, the following should be considered…

    * This, a relatively new (accidental) tactic seems to have worked – but, can it work repeatedly over a range of issues?

    * You can bet that the right, as well as the left will pick up on this. How will that pan out?

    * How much will groups (left and right) play a part in this sort of way in future? I don’t know who originally came up with this, but, it was almost certainly not the Labour Party. More likely to be someone like UK Uncut, or maybe even someone in their bedroom angry at their local MP.

  20. The problem with Labour is that there are lots of people, both in the party and in the Labour-friendly parts of the media, who positively want the current leadership to fail – and if that means the Labour Party failing, well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. Speaking as a socialist, I have in the past advised people not to vote Labour, but only in 2005 – at an election when nothing was at risk but the size of the Labour majority. Talking down Labour while they’re in opposition leaves me equal parts enraged and baffled.

    But there’s no doubt that’s what a lot of people are doing. The Oldham result, safe seat though it was, was pretty remarkable, but it was yesterday’s chip-paper in no time – even among those who had been so sure Labour was doomed they’d already called it for UKIP, and called it an awful warning for Labour to boot. (The linked piece was written before polls closed. “In Oldham West and Royton, Labour sought salvation in the seat’s Asian vote – but white working-class constituents defected in large numbers, to Nigel Farage’s party, or simply by staying at home.” Not what happened on the night. When I asked the writer he explained that he was referring to the General Election result in Oldham West and Royton. That would explain it.)

    As for these polls, I don’t buy the ‘UKIP decline’ story, which is only really borne out by one of the four polls we’re looking at. Three out of four show Labour support up by 4%; three out of four show Tory support down by 3%. Parsimonious conclusion: a swing of about 3% from the Tories to Labour, leaving the Tories on 35-7% and Labour on 34-6% (from 38-40 vs 31-3). Which is a big change, but if you trust these figures one month you have to trust them the next.

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