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. ICM have released several caveats to this poll & their final comment says:

    “The word ‘rogue’ is too often used in polling analysis, but in our view it is hard to believe this phone poll will escape such labelling.”

    http://www.icmunlimited.com/media-centre/media-center/guardian-poll-march-2016

    LOL

  2. One can’t help thinking if the reported death of Labour’s chances in the next election was a little premature.

    That said one poll does not an election make but do think the division amongst the Conservatives are helping Labour. Of course this may disappear when the referendum is decided but I suspect it will not be as clear cut as that and then there will be the election for the new leader in the run up to the next election.

    On the other hand Labour could yet tear themselves apart.

  3. The next 3 months at least are going to see far more divisions in the Conservative Party than within Labour. This is actually going to be encouraged by Cameron’s decisions to allow unfettered opposition to his policy on Europe to be expressed by his cabinet colleagues. lf this poll is in any way accurate the local elections will be far from disastrous for Labour (though it’s still going to be pretty grim to say the least in Scotland), and it’s looking more & more likely that Khan will beat Goldsmith. Wales will be very interesting. There’s bound to be some continuation of the sniping from the usual suspects – John McTernan, John Woodcock, Jamie Reed – but the actual front bench looks more harmonious than it did. Now in terms of the standing of the parties a huge amount in the shorter term will depend on what happens in the referendum, and the consequences of it for Cameron and the rest of the Tory leadership.

  4. And this months poll numbers are… *rolls dice*

  5. Labour seem to be benefitting at the Tories expense but As others have suggested I’d put it down to the Tories preoccupation with taking potshots at their own feet rather than anything Labour has done.

    Corbyns main problem seems to be an inability to turn worthy intent into a coherent narrative, a lot of people seem to like his belief in a fairer society but just aren’t convinced he has a clue how to do it.

    Labour need a core objective and policies that are consistent with it , they flow from it and support it. It needs to be about fairness and it needs to be clear, and that is the problem.

    Corbyns team seem unable to produce a clear policy position nor to stick to it when they get close. Whether you agree with Corbyn on Trident as I do there is no doubt his handling of the issue has been dreadful.

    I quite like the guy and very much what he stands for but a bit like Frank Spensor….He may be a loveable incompetent with a heart of gold, but you wouldn’t let him run the Country!

    Peter.

  6. Whilst it’s tempting to put this down to Conservative divisions over Europe, I’m pretty sure there is actually a fair chunk of the electorate who are simply weary of the whole thing already and have little interest in the internal bickering of the Tory party; I bet if you ask ten people at random off the street what Michael Gove’s position on Europe is, at least half won’t have the foggiest idea.

    Thre will also be a tendency among some observers to declare “it simply can’t be down to anything Labour are doing, because I’ve already decided Labour are incompetent.”

    However, I wouldn’t entirely exclude the possibility that the social media campaigns Labour have been waging against the Conservatives over the NHS and the Welfare Bill have started to prise open a chink in the Teflon coating. The ‘naming and shaming’ of people’s local MPs pinning the blame on them for cuts to disabled people’s benefits might have been particularly effective. The same ten random people I cited above might well have a clearer idea of which way their local MP voted on that Bill, than (say) Gove’s thoughts on the EU.

  7. LURKINGGHERKIN,

    I’d be more inclined to put an unhappiness with the Tories down to the actions of Junior Doctors than those of the Labour Party!

    Peter.

  8. @ Old Nat

    You Gov’s poll has some interesting data that is either a “rogue” poll or starting to show a trend in the Scottish Parliamentary election:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/hsxl98o8mw/TimesResults_160310_ScotlandVI&Trackers.pdf

    Leaving aside the overall SNP results I observe the one point downward shift in Conservative and SNP translates into an upward movement for both Green and UKIP.

    These are small samples and well within the margin of error, but the fact that Green is registering 4% overall in the constituency polling should be tracked.

    Among 25-49 year olds Green is outpolling Liberal Democrat, which is pretty amazing when you consider I have only found two seats where the Green are running candidates so far.

    In the regional polling the Green is very nearly on par with the Conservative among 25-49 years olds (13% versus 14%) and only 2 points behind both Conservative and Labour among 18 to 24 year olds (16% versus 18%).

    In contrast, regionally, the LD are running a distant 4th in all age categories except 50-64 where UKIP pushes them into fifth place.

    I question if LD can retain five seats if these polling results become election reality on May 5th.

    I would also like to see regional results.

    Finally why are the pollsters only polling 18-24 when 16 years and 17 year olds are voting too?

  9. Even if this is a false dawn, there will be a real dawn eventually.

    Labour were always going to catch up with the Tories at some point, and no doubt go into a decent lead at some point after that.

    None of that means that they’ll win the next election, of course, but you won’t find any shortage of people saying that it does.

    So it does look like the honeymoon is ending, but I’m not convinced the marriage will be a short one.

  10. Nowithstanding the caveats ICM does rather confirm the trend shown by yeaterday’s ComRes online poll . Maybe worth pointing out that Labour is actually now doing better with ICM than at the same stage of the last Parliament – March 2011 – when we were looking at a 1% Tory lead!

  11. @Neil A

    I suppose the interesting question is at what point does a sustained polling run, perhaps coupled with doing decently in the local elections, convince the Labour party that Corbyn might have a chance? Considering as well that his likely opponent will in all likelihood be one of Osborne of Johnson who all have comparably poor ratings.

  12. “Maybe worth pointing out that Labour is actually now doing better with ICM than at the same stage of the last Parliament – March 2011 – when we were looking at a 1% Tory lead!”

    That ignores the 34 other polls from March 2011, which were all better for Labour. The month’s average then was a Labour lead of 6 points. Even with this ICM poll, March 2016’s polling is showing the opposite.

  13. The Corbyn electability argument has always been something of a red herring. A lot of the Labour right simply like Blairite privatisation and low direct taxes. Their worry is not that Corbyn will lose but that he might win.

  14. yes james e but you are ignoring the pollsters have changed the way they do them,so its not comparing like with like.

  15. Extraordinary that, according to electoral calculus, if this were the result on a uniform swing Cons would end up 50 seats ahead, with the same number of seats they got in 2010.

    Shows how quickly so-called systemic biases can flip over under FPTP. And how much it distorts, if I’m allowed to say that.

  16. ARETHOSEMYFEET,

    The so called Blairite Right follow a doctrine of electability much like the Tories.

    Corbynites on the left have dogma and orthodoxy, the right have pragmatism and expedience, that’s why they can’t agree!

    Definitions;
    Corbynism: This is what we believe in lets convince people to vote for it!
    Blairism. : This is what people will vote for let’s convince them we believe it!

    (I seem to remember an episode of Star Trek called the Corbinite Bluff where they pretended the Enterprise was coated with a material that reflected back any attack at ten times it’s force…I bet Labour wish it was true)

    Peter.

  17. ‘Labour were always going to catch up with the Tories at some point, and no doubt go into a decent lead at some point after that.’

    That’s an opinion based on sentiment, not fact. As far as I know, there is no rule in existence that says a particular party ‘has to’ take a lead in opinion polls.

    I expect much of the same hysteria after the May elections, like all other previous elections that have no bearing whatsoever on the result of a general election.

  18. @James E

    That ignores the 34 other polls from March 2011, which were all better for Labour. The month’s average then was a Labour lead of 6 points. Even with this ICM poll, March 2016’s polling is showing the opposite.’

    I am comparing like with like which seems the most sensible basis on which to proceed. Of course,the YouGov daily polls in 2011 were giving us far more polls at that time.The pattern so far this week confirms what we have seen consistently since last May of the online ComRes poll being the best for the Tories. The trend,however, as Anthony points out is similar.

  19. Are you really saying that there is some basis for believing that Labour is not doing worse than at the same stage of the last parliament?

    The important point to remember is that as of the 2010 election the polls were broadly accurate (at least regarding Con v Lab), so it seems reasonable to think that they remained so in 2011 – but became less so over five years.

    And while YouGov are polling less frequently, there is still a whole body of current polling evidence to compare to that of five years ago. The ICM poll you cite from March 2011 was the worst for Labour of all taken in that month, while this latest one is the best for Labour by a wide margin. Is that “the most sensible basis on which to proceed”?

  20. I am not suggesting that ICM is necessarily spot on in terms of its findings – other poll findings later this week will be interesting. It is also worth remembering that in the last Parliament -and earlier Parliaments – ICM tended to underscore Labour whilst coming up with higher LibDem figures. Going all the way back to 1997 ICM was the only pollster to understate Labour’s lead in its eve of poll forecast, having predicted a 10% Labour lead compared with the actual 13% outcome. On that basis, there is little from ICM’s past to suggest a likely -pro-Labour bias – indeed the opposite if anything.
    As to your opening question as to whether there is a basis for suggesting Labour’s performance is currently no worse than early 2011 the answer is ‘yes there is now SOME evidence of that now!’ Whether such evidence is confirmed by other polls remains to be seen.

  21. ORB Online showing an 8% leave lead

  22. “lf this poll is in any way accurate the local elections will be far from disastrous for Labour ”

    It won’t be, and they will be.

  23. What a load of corbinite. Rogue is written all over it.

  24. It’s always interesting to see people denouncing politicians on the basis of what the polling says, then later denouncing the polling on the basis that it doesn’t reinforce what they believe.

    I think it’s fair to say that each of us should start from the assumption that we don’t know what’s going on and that if we did, we wouldn’t really know why. Then set a very high evidential bar for committing to either, and stick to it.
    Sadly, too many people just wade straight in with claiming that a poll is wrong or right. Wishing should never lead to believing.

  25. A couple of days ago someone was saying how badly Labour was doing as all the polls showed a Con lead at this stage of the parliament, and then this. Polls never cease to entertain.

    While the EU referendum stuff probably isn’t helping the blues, I’m surprised no one has mentioned the economy. We’re back to much less impressive wage growth, and looking at the PMI data, all sectors of the economy are slowing. The services, construction and manufacturing figures all show the same story, to different degrees. Namely, that things peaks in early 2014, with an unmistakable slowing trend since then. For services, this means more sluggish growth, but for manufacturing it’s looking like an outright decline.

    Add to that some bad news on the deficit, just four months after we were told things looked rosy, and we can see a more fundamental reason why some voters may be switching.

  26. ” could the Conservative infighting and division over Europe be damaging their support?”
    Well, it might be, but any disaffected are not likely to be voting Labour, are they?
    Put the 3% error bars on this poll and the last one it is compared with, but put them the other way round, and there is little difference between them. It’s an extreme, not even a rogue.
    Wait for another.

  27. ‘A couple of days ago someone was saying how badly Labour was doing as all the polls showed a Con lead at this stage of the parliament, and then this. ‘

    It just shows the ignorance of most people – including commentators who ought to know better. It is quite normal for a re-elected Government to have a poll lead in the first year of a Parliament. Just need to look at the Parliaments of 2001 – 1987 – 1983 – 1966 – and 1959!

  28. Alec
    “We’re back to much less impressive wage growth, and looking at the PMI data, all sectors of the economy are slowing. The services, construction and manufacturing figures all show the same story, to different degrees. Namely, that things peaks in early 2014, with an unmistakable slowing trend since then. For services, this means more sluggish growth, but for manufacturing it’s looking like an outright decline.
    Add to that some bad news on the deficit, just four months after we were told things looked rosy, and we can see a more fundamental reason why some voters may be switching.”

    Do many people really change their voting opinion based on macro-economic factors? Those who are even aware of reports will know that that there is a counter-narrative – to wit, that though we aren’t doing that well, we’re better than most other countries.

    I would argue that most (non-tribal) voters will vote based on their own personal experience, even if it has little to do with the government of the day. e.g. Have I had a pay rise recently? Is Auntie Rose’s benefit being cut? Is petrol cheap? Is my child struggling with student loan/ buying a house? And so on. It will all add up to a vague feeling of “steady as she goes” or “it’s time for a change”.

    I would be very interested if the polls asked questions like “Have you ever voted for a different party?”. It would also be nice to know people’s reasons for their choice, but it would be hard to frame a question that could capture the ‘vague feeling’ I described above.

  29. I would add that at the same stage of the 2005 Parliament – March 2006 – Labour was ahead. No guide at all as to the 2010 outcome!

  30. PETER CAIRNS

    @”The so called Blairite Right follow a doctrine of electability much like the Tories.”

    Indeed !

    The Times today reports on successes for Labour “moderates” in General Committee elections in Streatham , Vauxhall & Walthamstow Labour Parties.

    A “senior moderate organiser” is quoted :-

    ” I’ve yet to come across a place where Momentum have smashed it”.

    More relevant to your view is this quote from ” a local party organiser ” in Streatham:

    ” There’s no magic formula. The moderates are just good at what they do . Its good old-fashioned organising which the newer acolytes of the left don’t understand.
    Just because you’ve been enthused by Jeremy Corbyn, doesn’t mean you know how to win an election.”

    The Journalist might have observed, as does his colleague Rachel Sylvester, in a different Times article , that the 251,000 people who voted for Corbyn to become Labour Leader doesn’t constitute a popular wave of anti-capitalist sentiment-it just represents 0.5% of the UK electorate.

  31. Looks as though some UKIP voters have switched to Labour. Judging by McDonnell’s speech, Labour is signalling it doesn’t much like the EU.

  32. @COLIN
    “251,000 people who voted for Corbyn to become Labour Leader doesn’t constitute a popular wave of anti-capitalist sentiment-it just represents 0.5% of the UK electorate.”

    In a limited sense, you’re right. But there will also be many people who admire Corbyn and will vote for him but who didn’t get involved in the leadership vote. If I lived in England, I would consider voting Labour despite never having done so before.

    May I also add that the tsunami of anti-Corbyn rhetoric risks making people with Labour VI shy. I have no evidence for this effect, but it would not surprise me if Labour outperformed their polling. We’ve had a tantalising glimpse of this in Oldham: although there was no specific polling, many thought a Labour defeat was possible. And yet they won with an increased vote share.

    We have precious few data points to go on, so the outcome in May could be anything from a very broad range of possibilities. My hunch is that the locals in England will really surprise Corbyn’s critics, Scotland will be the expected rout, and Wales will be a highly mixed picture for Labour, with both good and bad news from Labour’s point of view. Just a hunch though.

  33. ALUN009

    The Rachel Sylvester article from which that quote was taken , is a piece which sets out caveats to the current perceived wisdom that populist fringe politics will sweep away the “old politics” -from USA to EU. She notes in particular a degree of hyperbole about the recent elections in Germany.

    She was making a broader case for an equation of the demise of Blue Collar employment, the rise of Technology based employment, & the huge increase in the formally educated proportion of the Electorate since WW11 ; with a default to politics of the Centre Ground. Though these forces will & are ” leaving behind” groups who respond to politicians offering to identify the guilty & get rid of them.

    Reading the US analysis it is interesting to observe that both Sanders & Trump rail against Free Trade , promising to” restore” jobs ” lost ” to this evil , by simply pulling up the Drawbridge. As an aside I look in vain for any mention from either of them , of the interests of US consumers who have benefited so handsomely from their consumer purchasing decisions.

    Re Corbyn-we will see what some real elections reveal about the appeal of his particular version of the Trump/Sanders New Jerusalem.

  34. ALUN009

    @”We’ve had a tantalising glimpse of this in Oldham: ”

    Oldham as an example of a “shy” Corbynite army ?

    Hmmm- I wonder if Jim McMahon sees it that way?

  35. @Pete B – “Do many people really change their voting opinion based on macro-economic factors?”

    Indeed, but the point is that macro economics is now affecting household economics.

  36. Although it is to be expected that the infighting in the Conservative party would cause some loss of support, at the same time it would be expected that Liberal Democrat, UKIP and others (S N P) would benefit. The first two have not and others is down to 5% suggesting a possible Labour victory in Holyrood. The other polls for the UK mirror by-election results. I think this is a rogue poll.

  37. I shall be bold and say that this is a rogue poll, unless it’s accurate.

  38. @Colin

    ”There’s no magic formula. The moderates are just good at what they do… Just because you’ve been enthused by Jeremy Corbyn, doesn’t mean you know how to win an election.”

    Says wing of party that have lost four elections on the bounce

  39. Anarchists Unite

    Good luck with your “wing’s” electoral success then .

  40. “The Journalist might have observed, as does his colleague Rachel Sylvester, in a different Times article , that the 251,000 people who voted for Corbyn to become Labour Leader doesn’t constitute a popular wave of anti-capitalist sentiment-it just represents 0.5% of the UK electorate.”

    ————

    Oooookay, this raises a few issues!!

    1) Just as MPs count each letter to them as representing many more who feel similarly, if not quite as strongly as to write a letter about it, there may be rather more who are pro-Corbyn, strong enough to vote in a GE if not to join the party…

    2) Check the polling on how many want things like renationalisation. The thing some miss is that there’s quite a lot of support for some things, but the vote has been split among Lab, SNP, greens and even UKIP.

    3) Anti-capitalist rather over eggs it. A lot of them do not want to see an end to capital, but simply want the excesses reigned in, the market distortions and the undermining of free trade, the increasing capture of government and media etc., the rigged game etc. etc.

  41. @Colin

    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

  42. Roger Brickell

    “others is down to 5% suggesting a possible Labour victory in Holyrood.”

    It’s the way you tell ’em. :-)

  43. ANARCHISTS UNITE

    Ah yes-my mistake :-)

    My experience from observing birds is , that flight can be sustained, only if both wings work together.

    In fact , takeoff proves impossible if they don’t.

  44. Carfrew

    The problem for your 2) and for Lab is that too many people think Corbyn and his team aren’t competent to deliver these policies.

    I’m amazed (although I shouldn’t be, given the bacon sandwich thing) how many people dismiss Corbyn because he doesn’t wear a snappy suit and didn’t sing the national anthem. I guess it illustrates the extent to which people make ad hominem judgements in the perceived absence of more relevant information.

  45. @Colin

    That would be my thinking too – which is why I find it odd that the reaction to Momentum and the influx of members from the party is to wail in terror, rather than think ‘okay, let’s try working with these people and help mold them into an effective force’

    But then I’m not a highly paid special adviser so what would I know? ;)

  46. It’s very interesting that a positive poll for Labour leads to a discussion about how Corbynites could ever possibly do well with the wider electorate. The obvious assumption being that Corbyn is an “extremist”, who the UK will reject. When you look at his policies, though, it is silly to paint him as an extremist; rail & health renationalisation have very broad support, whilst being anti-trident is hardly extreme at a time when a) people are very aware of the cost involved b) there are increasing noises that the system is obsolete and c) there is also a populist feeling that we should ‘mind our own business’ internationally (admittedly those two things don’t necessarily follow, but the main pro-trident argument seems to be so that we will be seen to have international clout).

    Add to that the fact that Corbyn projects an image of a ‘down-to-earth’ dad/grandad with few graces/pretentions, and there is no reason why a good slice of the electorate might go for what he offers. His main problems (and they ARE big ones) are his constant battering in the press, and the open attacks he suffers from the PLP. Perhaps both will settle down or lose their potency if he can hang on?

    Having said all that, this move in the polls probably has more to do with a split tory party than it does Labour, and it may not last beyond June. The good news for Labour is that the local elections are before then, and also that the polls are currently so questionnable generally; experimental methodology, based on the 2015 election, which had specific conditions which may have already changed. I think it’s all very unpredictable at the moment.

  47. @COLIN
    “I wonder if Jim McMahon sees it that way?”

    Certainly he won’t. But to obtain such a thumping percentage in a bye-election usually means things are relatively well on multiple fronts. But it’s still one data point. And my point was that the national polling stagnation for Labour has not yet been borne out in real electoral situations. Therfore it is entirely possible that a shy Corbynite effect could emerge. Or not. Oldham proves nothing, but it takes a wee bit of explaining if your view is that Corbyn is electoral poison. The sensible position is to wait. Which as a non-Labour supporter is perhaps easier for me than it will be for anxious Blairites.

  48. As someone from the Party that has seen it’s membership quadruple since the referendum I can say that new members are;

    On the Plus side;
    Highly motivated, very enthusiastic, participate more,want to get things done and are keen to learn!

    On the minus side, but not unlinked;
    impatient, easily frustrated, lack experience, have a narrower focus, care about different issues from much of the electorate and are suspicious of those with different opinions.

    Bringing the two together to make them into an effective force is a bit like training the Iraqi army;

    A tough often thankless task that your never sure is working which constantly runs the risk of being shot by your own side!

    From posts on here, I seem to have a shared experience with long term Labour members and life long US Democrats!

    Peter.

  49. @Sorbus

    Well, not sure Corbyn’s competence is necessarily always a factor with those who have gone to UKIP or SNP. They simply have other priorities.

    But in any event, the media has quite the impact on these things. When media not happy with Cameron over Levinson, Tories got hammered with Omnishambles etc., with predictable impact on polling, until later normal service was resumed and they hammered benefits, immigration etc., and latterly bacon and suits.

    The media influence quite a lot, even when losing the plot. On these boards and elsewhere we can see peeps echoing the line fed in some broadsheets, for example equating people who have issues with excesses of capitalism as being anti free trade.

    The simple, obvious point being however that increasing concentrations of capital tends towards LESS free trade, as it distorts markets, allowing peeps to distort markets, corner them, take out rivals, and then buy off government to further distort things. Wanting to keep capital from dominating too much is pro free trade…

  50. I note that without the adjustments referred to by ICM the poll would have recorded a 2% Labour lead.

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