New party leaders normally enjoy a honeymoon in the polls. It’s noticeable for leaders taking over in opposition, on the relatively rare occassion that the party leadership changes hands in government the honeymoon is often remarkable. In the last fifty years there have been three previous occasions when the premiership changed hands between-elections:

  • Wilson-Callaghan, 1976. When Harold Wilson announced his resignation in the middle of March the polls were showing a Conservative lead of between two and five points. The polls immediately following Wilson’s resignation and during Callaghan’s first month in office showed Labour leads of between one and seven points, before returning to a steady Tory lead in May.
  • Thatcher-Major, 1990. Margaret Thatcher was famously removed by the Tory party in November 1990. In the month before the leadership election Labour had an average poll lead of thirteen points. In the month immediately following her resignation and replacement by John Major the Conservatives had an average lead of five points, peaking at 11 points. Over the next few months the polls settled down to an average Tory lead of four points or so.
  • Blair-Brown, 2007. The Blair-Brown handover was a more drawn out affair: Blair announced his resignation at the start of May 2007, when the Conservatives had a poll lead of around six points, and actually handed over to Gordon Brown at the end of June. Through July and August Brown enjoyed an average Labour lead of around five points, peaking in double-digit leads during the Labour conference at the end of September… and their rapid collapse afterwards. The Conservatives were ahead again by October, and remained so for the rest of the Parliament.

Every mid-term change of Prime Minister has been accompanied by a significant boost in polling figures – in the three historical cases, they’ve gone from trailing the opposition to a clear polling lead. The boosts have tended to be comparatively short though – Callaghan and Major only enjoyed a month or so before settling down into a new equilibrium, Brown enjoyed a honeymoon that lasted several months, but that was probably because he was seem to have responded well to the Glasgow Airport attack and Summer floods. There’s no clear pattern as to where the polls settle after the honeymoon: I suppose it depends very much on the leader. Once the honeymoons had passed the change in leader didn’t make that much difference in 1976 and 2007 (in both cases Labour’s position absolutely tanked a few months down the line… but for different reasons), in 1990 though there was a long lasting improvement in Tory support.

So to the current polling position. Today’s ICM poll has topline figures of CON 43%(+4), LAB 27%(-2), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 13(-1) (tabs are here). It follows on from an ICM poll last week showing the Conservatives ten points ahead, a YouGov poll giving the Conservtives an eleven point lead and an Opinium poll giving them a more modest six point lead. All four polls had Labour around or just below 30% and the Conservatives nearer 40%, UKIP down a little from the levels of support they’d been showing before the referendum.

Viewed together it certainly looks like the sort of boost a new Prime Minister normally receives, which is a good reason not to read too much into it. New Prime Ministers receive good poll ratings because they haven’t had to annoy too many people yet – the public can project their hopes onto them and convince themselves they really will be different, really will deliver this, that or the other. Before long, however, the shine will come off and they’ll have to start making compromises and disappointing people. This is one good reason for Theresa May not to plan for an early election (and the mistake Gordon Brown made in not shutting down such considerations) – the current polls look wonderful for her, but on past timescales they won’t necessarily be so rosy in a couple of months time. It’s also a crumb of comfort for Labour… though quite a small crumb.

UPDATE: YouGov have fresh voting intention figures that also show a strong lead for the Conservatives, albeit, not quite as big as ICM’s. Their topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 28%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. Tabs are here


846 Responses to “Leadership honeymoons and ICMs latest poll”

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  1. @oldnat

    Well, some of us snook into the coffee shop anyway…

    Regarding Sub Fusc…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-32849383

  2. Carfrew

    Thanks for the link.

    “Sub fusc comes from the Latin for dark brown. ”

    I can think of other things which are dark brown – whose common name might be an appropriate description for such an idea! :-)

  3. Age gap potential threat for the political future of the UK. Nearly half of young people for Labour but just 15 percent among elderly people. I never seen a split like this.

  4. @Oldnat – apologies. I had to shut down last night due to an intermittent energy supply, but now I’m on a peak surge!

    In time, I do suspect we will have better options for output smoothing than nuclear, which as you say is quite cumbersome in the fact that is effectively runs constantly and isn’t a fast on/off system that some think. That’s what gas provides.

    I think you can go so far with renewables, but the difficulties remain the number of units you would require to get a decent output. Wave power is fine, but really quite diffiicult to initiate and maintain. Pump storage is fine, but has really quite limited potential when set against demand. How many mountains do you want to dig out or upland reservoirs create? Probably a better option would be to look at the existing water supply networks and install hydro turbines in as many of these as possible (so no additional visible infrastructure beyond the cabling) and in some cases (like where you have reservoir cascades) there may be an opportunity for pump storage).

    Carbon capture worries me a little, although there was some exceptionally good news from iceland recently about mineralising CO2 very very quickly in underground stores, although I suspect that is very site specific.

    I always maintain that demand management is the cheapest and best option though. We shouldn’t be working 9 – 5 for example. Each area should have companies with staggered open/closed times, and there are plenty of things that can be done at home to smooth out demand. Smart meters will give us some huge advantages here (BG now offering a tariff with free weekend electricity, for example) so the future looks interesting, if we can get organised.

  5. Just going back to the ScottoIndyEuroBrexit poll mentioned by Iks Bar at 12,30 this morning, I see that the article alluded to mentions a £15bn annual deficit which the Scots supposedly have at the moment. This is, of course, total fabrication. Scotland has no deficit. All its expenditure is currently covered by money coming into the coffers in Edinburgh, or by authorised borrowing for big construction projects.

    The deficit ‘problem’ only starts when the Barnet formula is gradualy phased out over a period of a few years and all of Scotland’s expenditure has to be financed from within Scotland. Until that happens there is no deficit, only a sensible use of the resources being supplied by central (i.e. Westminster) government and by taxation within Scotland..

    I wonder how Westminster (and voters in the rUK) would react were the Scottish government not to spend all it received and, instead, decided to ‘set aside’ £15bn every year as preparation for Scottish independence? A ‘war chest’ of, say, £150bn would be useful for launching a Scottish currency. I can just hear the howls of outrage coming from the south!

  6. OLDNAT
    TOH
    “The full Supreme Court judgement is here –”

    Thanks.

  7. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/05/germanys-far-right-afd-party-has-more-public-support-than-ever/

    This was the polling in Germany in May, now we are nearly in August it will be interesting to see how those polls have been affected by recent events in the country and its neighbours.

    Merkel was the main reason I voted to leave the EU, I believe she has gone insane and her latest provocative outbursts reinforce that perception. She appears to be in direct opposition with the democratic will of her people, which again says to me that the whole of Europe is at best only quasi democratic.

  8. OLDNAT

    “Incidentally, I haver seen any evidence that those with a degree in economics have any special aptitude for not being ignorant.of many things – especially the economy! :-)”

    I’ll second that ! :-)

  9. Alec

    “I’m rather pleased that the IMF has now finally caught up with some of the noble posters here on UKPR, who have been saying for ages that the Euro is a defective and potentially disastrous experiment.”

    Yes indeed and as you say about time too!

  10. CARFREW

    Always seen myself as a noble poster, it’s also a lot to do with a love of cricket and growing vegetables.

    :-)

  11. So we had 8 more local by-elections this week, resulting in:
    – 3 Conservative holds (although Lib Dems nearly took one)
    – 1 Labour hold
    – 2 Lib Dem holds
    – 2 Lib Dem gains, one from Tories and one from Labour

    Once again there were a few large swings to the LDs, with UKIP looking to be very quiet and Labour slipping a bit other than Haringey, where their vote increased. Very much a mixed bag for the Tories.

    Similar outcomes to the previous two weeks, making it 7 by-election gains out of about 30 contests for the LDs in those three weeks.

  12. @McClane
    “Age gap potential threat for the political future of the UK. Nearly half of young people for Labour but just 15 percent among elderly people. I never seen a split like this.”
    Don’t worry, it will be just the same in 20 – 30 years time. Put it down to experience.

  13. @ BFR

    To be precise with the two LD gains, the one that they gained from the Conservatives they didn’t run last time, and in the one that they gained from Labour, Labour didn’t run this time.

  14. The one where Labour didn’t run is another Totnes ward …

  15. LizH

    Snap!

  16. @ LizH

    Thank you for the link on Totnes. Very interesting.

  17. Interesting view on Totnes. But if true it’s still worrying – no-one wanted to stand for a winnable seat. Although I must admit, I wouldn’t be a regular candidate if I thought there was any chance of winning.

  18. It would be good to hear an explanation of why two other town council candidates were also “independents” with no official Labour candidate standing.

    One candidate could easily be just one of those things. Two would seem more than a coincidence. But 3?

  19. There are some interesting Post Brexit comments in Lord Ashcroft’s latest focus groups in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow for those interested in such things.

  20. OLDNAT

    Having read the judgement and some other reports on the Named Person Legislation I have to say that while a setback for the SNP I don’t see that the judgement does the SNP any major harm.

  21. Another view on Named Persons I read this morning. Just helps balance the view from the SNP and Scottish media. Now of course this story will be spun either way, that’s politics, but anyway, make of this what you will.

    http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2016/07/named-person-how-has-it-come-to-this.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Friday%2029th%20July%202016&utm_content=Friday%2029th%20July%202016+CID_976eb4bef7672520aea90ad32cf4dbbb&utm_source=Daily%20Email&utm_term=Named%20Person%20how%20has%20it%20come%20to%20this

  22. ps; as always with conservative home, the comments are excellent and tend to be a balance of for/against. Certainly no right wing love in. Some good thought provoking comments below the article for sure. I like this one though;

    Ronald Reagan said “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help”

  23. @Rich

    That is not the attitude when some poor child is murdered though is it? It’s why didn’t the government stop this?

  24. RICH

    Thanks for the link to the con home article, which does at least make some attempt to show both sides of the argument.

    When the last para begins with “And that’s why it’s terrifying, though, it seems a little odd that it doesn’t mention that no Con MSP has ever voted against it in Holyrood.

    Clearly opinions can change, and from the Davidson quotes they have, but it’s a pity that in the section reporting her views there is not a word about why she changed her mind after the bill containing the NP provisions was allowed free passage by her and all her MSPs.

  25. As a country we are intensely hypocritical about child protection; we veer wildly between:
    ‘What incompetent muppets failed to stop this child being abused?’ and
    ‘What incompetent muppets tore this child from their loving parents?’
    totally ignoring the fact that often the evidence of risk was murky in both cases, and in each case someone (generally underpaid and overworked) had to make a judgement call on incomplete information.

    If we took the same approach to, for instance, the competency of people carrying out emergency medical procedures or emergency police response, there would barely be a practicing doctor or copper left in the land.

    We need a far more grown up debate than our media can cope with if we are to improve child protection services in this country…

  26. “As a country we are intensely hypocritical about child protection; we veer wildly between:
    ‘What incompetent muppets failed to stop this child being abused?’ and
    ‘What incompetent muppets tore this child from their loving parents?’
    totally ignoring the fact that often the evidence of risk was murky in both cases, and in each case someone (generally underpaid and overworked) had to make a judgement call on incomplete information.

    If we took the same approach to, for instance, the competency of people carrying out emergency medical procedures or emergency police response, there would barely be a practicing doctor or copper left in the land.

    We need a far more grown up debate than our media can cope with if we are to improve child protection services in this country…”

    YES,YES, and YES. And then people wonder why you can’t recruit social workers…..

  27. I wouldn’t say changes of PM mid-term are relatively rare these days. I was born in 1976 and the majority (4-3) of changes in my life-time have been mid-term party handovers rather than as a result of a general election.

  28. Now, this is from the Evening Standard, so they probably got confused by alternative medicine, but still, if it is true it is a very different intra-party fight than in the 1980s.
    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/corbynites-attack-stitchup-as-streatham-labour-party-backs-owen-smith-a3307496.html

  29. @BFR,John Chanin

    Quite right. I never criticise social workers, and those in child protection. It is an extremely difficult and challenging job, and inevitably mistakes are made. My impression is that these people overall do a fine job indeed.

    Like other posters, I am extremely tired of inquiries coming up with: ‘we must never let this happen again’. It will, of course.

    Yes, every sad incident should be properly investigated, but let’s do so reasonably and without this ludicrous preconception about the uselessness of the people involved.

  30. @Millie

    Some of the problem is poor quality social workers, no doubt about it, but in most cases any reasonable person looking at the entire circumstances of an individual child’s situation, and without the benefit of hindsight, would recognize that it is rarely clear-cut.

    The recent case where a judge gave a daughter into her father’s care, with some pretty fulsome words of admonishment for the professionals that had separated them, only for the father to murder her, give an idea as to what a difficult environment child protection operates in.

    However, I’ve had many an argument with social workers about the safety of specific children. Once (about 20 years ago) I actually flounced out of a strategy meeting with words to the effect “If anything happens to this girl it’s down to you”. I think the core issue is that the wrong sort of people often end up in social work. I remember a lady in Chingford who came into social work late in life, as a grandmother. She was a plain-speaking, no nonsense sort of a woman, and she wasn’t constrained by sociological/political theory or excessive deference to people’s feelings. I can recall, as if it was yesterday, a joint visit I made to a young girl (about 12-13 I think) who had been involved in an intimate encounter with another pupil in the school’s “sick bay”. When it became clear that the incident was completely consensual, and had been initiated by the girl, the social worker’s first comment was “Weren’t you worried that everyone would think you were the school bike?”

  31. I should add I thought she was the right kind of person to be in social work. I perhaps wasn’t clear of the point I was making.

  32. There is evidently a major problem to be solved there :-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36922820

  33. Quite interested in the talk of a ‘progressive alliance’ from some within Labour. I am open to be persuaded, but I rather think it’s a bit of nonsense.

    Left leaning Labour types always talk about this kind of thing from the basis that everyone _hates_ the Tories and therefore must be secret admirers of Labour really. This largely explains the shock in 2010 that the dear old Lib Dems could shun Labour in favour of a coalition with Cameron.

    UKPR wasn’t immune from the undercurrent on the left that somehow Clegg had ‘betrayed’ progressives, despite no evidence whatsoever that Lib Dems were closer to Labour than Tories. It was the idea that Lib Dem voters were really Laboury types under the skin that was most enlightening.

    A similar thing seems to happening now, with talk of Greens and nationalists combining with a few Lib Dems as well, presumably under a Labour leadership, in some kind of alliance.

    My suspicion is that this is borne out of the notion that there are Tories and everyone else, and that everyone else is basically decent and will agree to work against the evil ones. ‘You’re either with or against us’ seems to be the general thinking, with ‘betrayal’ an oft spoken word.

    This binary thinking seems fairly typical in parts of the left and I suspect will end up damaging political discourse, and is a reflection of where much of Labour is today. Not so much thinking about how to win the votes of ordinary people they need for power, but stuck in a mindset that keeps them thinking that once voters see the folly of their ways……

    I can’t really see this helping Labour, and I suspect the idea of a rainbow coalition will just help the Tories come 2020.

  34. @Alec

    I suspect that a rainbow coalition is highly improbable across a wide policy base.

    The main goal, I believe, is to advance electoral reform and very little else. FPTP encourages binary thinking, and perhaps Labour are starting to realise that assembling another big tent to overall the Conservatives will be very difficult.

  35. Correction

    @Alec

    I suspect that a rainbow coalition is highly improbable across a wide policy base.

    The main goal, I believe, is to advance electoral reform and very little else. FPTP encourages binary thinking, and perhaps Labour are starting to realise that assembling another big tent to over haul the Conservatives will be very difficult.

  36. Just a quick point on rainbow coalitions, there are currently coalitions between green, independent, Tory, lib dem and some who have left labour at keeping corbynistas out of parish and town councils. That’s here in the southwest.

    The reason is that when voting on issues at parish level no debate is allowed, they vote on block as they are told. Purity of thought over the electorate, certainly at parish level party politics is completely inappropriate.

  37. CMJ

    @”perhaps Labour are starting to realise that assembling another big tent to over haul the Conservatives will be very difficult.”

    Its not difficult-they did it three times-’97; ”02 & ; ’05.

    It was a rainbow coalition of voters.They seem to have decided it was the wrong sort of rainbow.

  38. @Alec

    SNP were extremely willing to work with Labour in 2015. In fact Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t have made her position clearer she wanted an anti-Tory alliance. It was Ed Miliband who said if he ‘needed SNP support to be prime minister he wouldn’t be prime minister’

  39. @Alec

    Yup that’s pretty much the situation I think. I’ve said more or less the same thing in the past.

    The problem for that way of thinking is that most voters inhabit that “somewhere in the middle” marketplace. They want to live in a world that’s fair (but fair to strivers as well as to the disadvantaged), just (but just for victims of crime and public employees as well as for people accused of wrongdoing), safe (but not too authoritarian), sustainable (but not to the point where they’re expected to massively curtail their own enjoyment of it “for the greater good”) and prosperous (so long as the rich aren’t too rich compared to them).

    These people will happily vote Labour, LibDem, Tory or UKIP without considering any of them to be “the bad guys”.

  40. @Colin

    That was then, this is now.

    I think we are in a different landscape, with a much broader voter base, will less and less party loyalty.

    In 1997 a large range of people were seriously looking for an alternative Government, after a very long time of Conservative rule and their loss of economic credibility (Black Wednesday).

    Forming a big tent was much easier then.

    Now it is different. There is nowhere near the anti-government sentiment at present, the best root to protesting against the Government that really winds them up for the many years has been supporting UKIP.

    I may be wrong, but it may be long and lonely road for Labour for sometime to come, whether JC is leader or not. There is no magic pill for them.

  41. CMJ

    @” There is nowhere near the anti-government sentiment at present,”

    I think that is perhaps of function of the change in PM-but the honeymoon won’t last for long.

    But I think the wider point is that the only coalition which gets you into government is one involving as much of the Electorate as possible.
    And surely that means appealing beyond the “tribe” of your own political persuasion.

    Just been reading this . It emphasises what a broad coalition of interests voted Leave-and delivered that majority.

    http://www.britishfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Disbanding-the-tribes-report.July-2016.pdf

    The Conclusion includes this comment :-

    “The referendum illuminates the long-term rowing divergence between the politics of social justice and those of identity and belonging – and the need for much broader geographical and cross-class reach of those pursuing progressive coalitions. There will be no successful defence of liberal ‘open society’ values without engaging a much broader coalition than is achieved by the polarising frame of ‘open versus closed’, which pits the confident, liberal minority against the nativist, left behind minority – but also leaves most of the public unpersuaded by either camp.
    A more successful strategy will require liberals to engage with both the gains and the pressures of ‘open’; to be able to respond constructively to legitimate concerns about the impacts of immigration on public services, jobs and culture; and to engage with the values and interests of blue-collar and non-graduate audiences. If we are to secure majority consent for the values of an open and fair society, we need to do so together and ensure that it works fairly for everyone.”

  42. CMJ

    Isn’t part of Labour’s problem that strange hybrid of Westminster?

    It has to operate simultaneously as the Parliament of the UK, and the Parliament of England.

    Putting together a rainbow alliance on UK issues would be hard, but not impossible. Finding sufficient allies to govern England is a very different matter

    Labour has almost never needed Scots MPs to give them a majority. The UK had Labour governments when England elected sufficient Labour MPs. The SLab MPs role was to provide a solid phalanx of votes for the Cabinet policy on English matters (that they were largely unconcerned about) that could quell internal ELab rebellion.

    Prior to 2015, it seems that English voters were unconcerned about the votes of MPs from Scotland on English matters, but all that has changed.

    It’s hard to see how ELab can govern again without creating a Federal/Confederal UK, so that they can have different positioning in English and UK elections.

  43. I can think of several reasons why Ed would not want to form an alliance with SNP.
    What would be the point? They lacked the numbers to defeat the Government.
    It was a commonly held view that the image of ed in Nicola ‘s pocket had scuppered Labour’s chances.
    Miliband had lost the election so he did the

  44. @Colin

    Thanks for that information.

    Very interesting.

    @Oldnat

    If you are suggesting the UK’s constitutional ‘dogs dinner’ is a big issue, I fully agree.

    Our constitutional settlement and electoral system are simply unfit for purpose. However, as turkeys don’t normally vote for Christmas, a party of Government who does rather well out of it not likely to change anything.

  45. Part 2
    So Miliband did the decent thing and resigned.
    And Sturgeon isn’t at Westminster. Maybe SNP MPs had different views.
    What would an alliance be based on? The parties have very different objectives.
    Etc etc

  46. Catmanjeff

    I suspect that a rainbow coalition is highly improbable across a wide policy base.

    It’s possible I suppose but unlikely to be electable. Look at the effect the suggestion of a possible Lab/SNP coalition had on the outcome of the last General Election.

  47. Neil
    I was a social worker with children and families for over 20 years and I’m afraid that comment made me cringe.

  48. Trouble is everyone thinks they can do social work. Who needs training or theories or a body of knowledge. All you need is common sense, a no nonsense approach and be a salt of the earth type. I wish it was so simple.

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