ICM’s latest poll from the Guardian is out, with topline figures of CON 43%(+2), LAB 26%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 11%(-3), GRN 6%(+2) – changes are from ICM’s last poll, conducted for the Sun on Sunday in mid-September.

The seventeen point Conservative lead is the largest that ICM have shown in any poll since October 2009 (the Guardian cites it as the largest since 2008, but I think that’s because they are looking at the ICM/Guardian series of polls – the 2009 poll was one for the News of the World).

The size of the lead is likely flattered by the timing – it was conducted over the weekend, so the Conservatives could have expected some sort of boost from Theresa May’s first conference as leader. It’s also worth noting that ICM do tend to produce some of the most pro-Conservative voting intention figures – they have adopted a substantial number of changes since the polling errors of 2015 (switching to online, weighting by political knowledge, reallocating don’t knows differently and modelling turnout based on age and social class) which tend to produce the most pro-Conservative figures. That’s not to say they are wrong – in 2015 all the pollsters understated the Tory lead, so it’s very likely that in correcting those errors, changes will me made that produce more Conservative figures. We won’t know for sure until 2020 whether pollsters have gone too far in those corrections or not far enough.

In this case, even before the turnout weighting ICM would have been showing a very robust 14 point Conservative lead (and the reallocation of don’t knows actually helped Labour). Whatever you did with this data would have produced a huge great Tory lead – it’s the combination of a new Prime Minister, a Conservative conference boost, and a distracted opposition. Full tabs are here.

610 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 43, LAB 26, LD 8, UKIP 11, GRN 6”

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  1. TOH

    I think the fact that the BBC gets regularly attacked for being biased by both sides shows that it is in fact pretty balanced..

    I thought their referendum coverage was a bit ridiculous though, since a 400 page expert report could be “balanced” by an unsupported assertion saying it was all rubbish from the other side… But it did mean it was unbiased…

    However I do note the tendency on both sides to say
    “BBC agrees with my views: balanced”

    “BBC disagrees with my views: totally biased”

    In your case I can’t comment since I have not made a close study of the examples you cite. The piece on Sturgeon is indeed quite balanced however!

    So what, it seemed very balanced to me

    I don’t disagree, but regard her balance as the summation of “Scottish” Lab views. Almost all are EU remainers and campaigned alongside the SNP, SCons and SGP. OTOH, they are divided on their attitude to independence.

  3. Andrew111 & BZ

    Happy you both agree the piece was balanced, so it will be useful to others when considering today’s events.

  4. @Neil A
    I agree with quite a lot of your analysis of MPs motives; however the point about option 3 (as you describe it) is that the EU have made it very clear throughout that it is for the UK to propose what we think option 3 should look like, and then (and only then) the EU will opine. However, the EU will not countenance an arrangement that is ‘better’ than option 2.

    The problem with May and the Brexit 3 is that:
    a) their proposals are internally inconsistent;
    b) they keep making proposals that are demonstrably ‘better’ than option 2 and therefore bound to be rejected by the EU.

    I suspect the political goal is to have the EU reject our initial proposal so that the Brexit 3 can blame the ‘evil’ EU, despite it only following through on its consistent stance.

    But I am not sure how that outcome helps the UK…

    @Pete B
    Well, to pick three obvious examples in relation to ‘who did these jobs before immigrants’:
    – care homes: no-one, the jobs arise from the dramatic increase in the proportion of elderly needing care
    – fruit & vegetable picking: married, stay-at-home mums used to do this; they now have full-time or part-time jobs and are no longer available
    – coffee shops, restaurants and bars: no-one, the jobs represent an extension in employment as the food and drink sector has expanded dramatically over the last 20 years.

    In summary, yours is a non-argument….

  5. ” I always ask ‘Who did them before mass immigration?’”

    ‘Other immigrants’, quite often. Certainly in the agricultural industry it wasn’t at all uncommon to see roving bands of overseas people following the harvest, and I believe Irish navvies used to be an important element of civil construction projects once upon a time.

    In the 1950’s we paid for West Indians to come here to work on public transport and other key jobs, and welcoming African and Antipodean health care professionals is by no means a recent phenomena.

  6. Peter C
    “a reasonable level of migration..”
    A figure for sustainable net migration is achievable, but rests on setting targets or predictions for productivity, GDP and employment rates. It is on that basis that the EC and Eurostat, using figures provided by ONS (which does not do forecasting) and the Treasury (which does), provided five year interval forecasts for UK net migration of about 180k to 220k, gradually diminishing to 2060. Its assumption that this was (in 2015) a probable level of migration on the basis of economic performance and demography within the EU market system would make this a reasonable level for the UK Government to be aiming for, especially as it would, in the EC analysis, lead to the UK having a substantial lead over Germany and other states, and a satisfactory level of pension funding throughout the forecast period – http://europa.eu/epc/pdf/ageing_report_2015_en.pdf.

  7. I can recall going out fruit picking with my mother and brother in the mid 70’s in Cambridgeshire and the fields being full of family groups – it was very much a family event for many of the people who lived in our village.

    That only worked because the majority of the mothers then did not have regular paid employment – that has all changed now.

    The low prices for produce that we are all used to in our supermarkets are built on low-wage immigrant labour doing the picking – this happy position will logically not survive a hard Brexit.

  8. The indy’s Brexit legal challenge live: High court hears court case on triggering Article 50[1] has closed for the day with the reporter noting: Judge insists permanency of triggering Article 50 will need to be properly discussed in greater depth in Monday’s hearing.

    That seems very relevant since there has already been some discussion in the media on whether A50 can be withdrawn by the no-longer leaving member. It certainly isn’t mentioned in A50 so there is a need to clarify it. Perhaps the case will have to go to the ECJ.

    [1] Well worth a glance if you weren’t following it.

  9. @Brexiteers

    I know peeps keep on about not revealing our negotiating position, but is that to cover up not actually having much of one? Conventionally there is the idea that trade is mutually benefifial, but in this instance there are additional concerns: their (EU) desire to not do anything to encourage other nations to follow us in leaving, plus the opportunity to hoover up banking. And maybe some other stuff we sell to EU…

    Do we got anything extra in the tank?

  10. @Carfrew

    I think there is a very simple position.

    A) We must have the final say on immigration into the UK.

    B) We want the closest possible trading and security relationship that the EU will allow, given A).

    I’m not sure how much more the government can say without getting into the detail.

    Of course half the country doesn’t think A) is worth going to the wall over, I understand that. But a negotiating position that you oppose is not the same as a negotiating position that you don’t understand.


    “Good post, but whilst I don’t intend to explore the vow, many in Scotland saw the delivery as minimalist when it went through the HoC. Rightly or wrongly it will likely be mentioned in any indyref2 campaign as a caution to believing whatever the “stay” campaign says.”


    Yes, you don’t want to explore it, just wanna diss it, lol. I have no doubt many saw it as minimalist, especially Indy peeps!! Even Devo Max is prolly minimalist to Indy peeps!!

  12. @Neil A

    yes, there is the broad sweep of a position, then there is the detail of what you offer and get in practice.

    But my point really is what trump cards do we have to ensure a more, rather rhan less favourable outcome, given there are some real attractions for the EU to be inflexible…

  13. @Carfrew

    I think it’s the EU thinking in terms of trump cards.

    The UK government just wants a deal that retains as much trade as possible, in as many areas as possible.

    In the end, the EU have made it clear that the conversation hasn’t even started yet, and won’t until A50 is triggered. I expect their hope is that it won’t be, so in a sense the whole debate is premature.

    Let’s go through the machinations of people trying to stop A50, and see if it happens. If it doesn’t, that’s the end of the matter (until the next GE at least). If it does, then the UK government can go to the EU with a proposal.

    If the EU really do insist that the ball is in our court, I suggest we start with “Full membership of the Single Market with an Opt Out from Freedom of Movment”. To which the EU will say “No”. And then the ball will be in their court.

    It may be that they expect us to come back with 1,000 different offers, one after another, until we accidentally hit on the one they actually wish to strike. It would seem more sensible for them to tell us what they will agree to. That’s how negotiations are supposed to work isn’t it?

  14. Neil A

    Not sure I agree about what the EU think. I reckon they fully expect Article 50 to be invoked and then the hard negotiating begins.

  15. @Mike

    I agree that they expect it will happen, but I also believe they hope it won’t.

    Expect the worst, hope for the best, and all that…

  16. Neil A: ” It seems to be “Single Market or we won’t trade with you at all”.

    I know you don’t like debating with me, but I need to keep at it because I really don’t understand some of what you say. I worry that you are labouring under some enormous misapprehensions.

    Take, for example, your quote above. Do you believe that what you have written is literally true? That if we aren’t in the single market, the EU will put up the shutters and won’t trade with us at all?

    If you do believe that, it might explain the vociferousness with which you maintain that the EU is out to punish us.

    But it isn’t the situation at all and I’ve never seen any other coherent and intelligent person think that it is.

    If we leave the EU with no trade deal, we will be in the same position vis-a-vis the EU as the USA is. No trade deal but lots and lots of trade. We’ll face some tariff and non tariff barriers, but only the same as other non-EU/EEA countries. The USA isn’t in the single market, but trades a huge amount with the EU. Its companies adapt perfectly well, which is why there are lots of US bank subsidiaries in the UK, and lots of Ford and GM factories around the EU (and vice-versa, of course). We can do the same.

    Is that something you haven’t understood until now? Or was “the EU will put up the shutters and won’t trade with us at all” not intended to be taken as literally true but some sort of rhetorical flourish?

    Please understand that I’m not trying to best you in argument, just to understand what you mean.

  17. @Neil A

    Yes, I think we get the idea of how negotiations are supposed to work, the process of offer and counter offer etc., I am asking about what we actually HAVE available to offer, or maybe sanction, in the course of that process, to sway things our way, and overcome the temptation to limit attractiveness of Brexit pour encourager les autres, and snaffle banking and some other markets.

    Even Devo Max is prolly minimalist to Indy peeps!!

    To some, perhaps, but FFA/Devo Max has been what many successive SSA surveys have shown as the most popular option, perhaps now somewhat shopsoiled by the Breferendum.

    If Westminster agreed FFA then there would be very little opposition to remaining if a sensible HK-style EU deal is done.

  19. One last post from me for this evening. Tusk has spoken.

    Tusk says:

    “It is useless to speculate about ‘soft Brexit.

    These would be purely theoretical speculations. In my opinion, the only real alternative to a ‘hard Brexit’ is ‘no Brexit’. Even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility.”

    That’s it then, since in Parliament yesterday I heard Remainer after Remainer say they did not want to stop Brexit as they respected the will of the people we can all unite and May can activate Art 50 when she likes. The EU will not negotiate and we will just exit at the end of two years.

  20. TOH

    But what does Tusk mean by ‘soft brexit’? Does he mean ‘access to the single market but with border controls’? If so, of course there can be no ‘soft brexit’.

    Tusk, like all the rest of us who live outwith 10 Downing Street, has to wait to see what the UK Government sets out as its goal. Until then, we’re all in the dark. At the moment, the Government seems intent on Hard Brexit. Tusk can only respond to the messages coming out of Government circles. And at present those messages are deliberately very opaque, in order to provisde as little certainty as possible.

    Thus the currency markets.

    If the price of controlled borders is an extra 10p or 15p per litre at the pump, then the Brexiteers seem happy with that. I’m not. But then, my side lost.

  21. And in any case, it may well be that Tusk’s principal point was the uselessness of speculating at this stage in the process, rather than whether or not, in the end, there will be a Soft Brexit (à la Norge)

  22. TOH

    Obviously there are many reports on this topic, but I note that although its headline is much the same the Belfast Telegraph has a slightly more nuanced report with: Only alternative to ‘hard Brexit’ is UK remaining in the EU, warns Donald Tusk, which starts:

    Speaking in Brussels, Mr Tusk said the proposals for leaving the European Union outlined in the referendum campaign meant radically loosening ties with the rest of the bloc – a “de facto hard Brexit”.

    He warned that the process would be “painful” and predicted both the UK and EU would lose out as a result of Brexit.

    But he insisted there could be “no compromises” over single-market access, stressing that freedom of movement would remain a condition – despite claims from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that he expected European leaders to back down.

    The 3rd para simply seems to state that the EEA option is potentially available, which is what most remainers think of as the “soft” option.

  23. Poll on Scotland // On a second independence referendum: Support: 38% Oppose: 47% (via BMG / 28 Sep – 04 Oct)


  24. Candy

    I expect the mood in Scotland will change once the devaluation bites.

  25. The BMG poll finds that in the event of a Hard Brexit 55% support a second referendum and 45% are against ( ie excluding don’t knows).

  26. @CR

    Unilever has just caved in their dispute – Tesco spokesman saying it was “resolved to our satisfaction”. There is a devaluation but businesses importing stuff are going to struggle to pass on costs if the last 24 hours are anything to go by.

    We’re not in normal circumstances where your good old Brit would grumble but accept stuff. It’s like something ferocious has been woken up.

    Businesses that export to us will either have to absorb the costs or move factories back to Britain so that both revenues and expenses are in pounds.

  27. @Somerjohn,

    It’s not that I don’t like debating with you, it’s just that we go round in circles in a way that I know AW doesn’t like, and that most others (maybe not Carfrew) probably find tedious.

    But I am happy to answer your point, as I think as so often something has been lost in translation in pure text.

    I am not suggesting that the EU really believes they wouldn’t trade with us outside the single market, just that this is the impression they are striving to give (hence my use of the word “Seems”).

    To continue my nomenclature, this is what I mean about option 3). I expect somewhere in the ether there is a possible deal involving an interim free trade agreement, where most industries continue to function across the borders without tariffs and with provisional agreements that the UK will continue to honour any regulatory commitments already in place, with negotiations on a comprehensive new trade agreement to take place over several years. It’s not in the interests of the EU to make this sound remotely possible or attractive of course. Apart from anything else, we’d clearly have to make large payments to the EU to have such an arrangement, and the sums involved would be a literal haggle such as referred to by Carfrew, so the more skeptical you can sound the more value you can extract.

  28. @Hireton

    Did it give any indication of how those 55% and 45% would vote in a second referendum? One assumes that the great majority of those who would vote “Leave” would form part of the 45% but polling is rarely that simple.

  29. @Carfrew

    I don’t think we have any specific gimmicks to offer. I don’t understand the laws of financing very well, so I’m not sure if banning UK banks from providing services means that all EU loans from UK banks and vice versa have to be cancelled?

    The greatest chip I suppose might be the possibility that the UK turns elsewhere for her imports. A comprehensive trade agreement with the USA on cars for example might see right hand drive Cadillacs start to replace the market share of German marques. Agricultural products might start to be sourced from Africa and South America. Such a move would probably hurt us too, of course, because European products are excellent and don’ t have to travel very far. But us being hurt doesn’t stop European exporters feeling the pain too.

    Of course, I think it will be Britain’s intention to do such deals in any event (assuming we’re not in the Single Market and are allowed to do so) so it’s not really a chip in the sense of something we’d give up in trade for something else. Just a reality that if they don’t want to sell to us on reasonable terms, others will.

  30. BMG Scottish poll also has VI (though not very well presented!) Excluding WNV and DK –

    SNP 49% : Con 20% : Lab 17% : Oth 14% – Westminster

    SNP 51% : Con 21% : Lab 18% : Oth 10% – Holyrood Constituency

    SNP 44% : Grn 9% : Con 21% : Lab 16% : Oth 10% – Holyrood List

    So not much change there.

  31. But still terrifying for Labour.

  32. @Neil A

    As far as I can see the vi question wasn’t asked or at least hasn’t been released so far. Also worth noting that most of the fieldwork preceded the Tory Party conference and May’s confrontational speech.

  33. “Businesses that export to us will either have to absorb the costs or move factories back to Britain so that both revenues and expenses are in pounds.”

    Meanwhile outside of Cloud Cuckoo Land even domestic based businesses are facing higher costs for imported goods and raw materials including fuel. The UK consumer will see price rises across the board.

  34. It really fascinates me when people think that manufacturing is the same as assembling, parts are the same as components, and components are the same as the real thing.

    And that is only manufacturing (I leave out agriculture, because it has so many intermediaries that one would start to weep really, instead of engaging in trade negotiations).

    The supply chains in services are even more complicated.

  35. @Hireton

    Tesco and the Brexiteers won a famous victory over Unilever and the cringing hang-wringing remainers like yourself.

    I think some of the remainers feel they must pay any increase asked, no matter how outrageous, in order to fulfil their wishes that it be a painful Brexit. But the leavers will attack any company that tries to raise prices, and bring them to heel. And the leavers are the majority.

    The truth is that consumers do have power, they just don’t exercise it often, and most of what Europe exports to us is branded stuff and in Britain there has been a trend away from brands and towards generics. Hence the success of own brand products, Poundland and so on. It is going to be very hard to raise prices in the face of consumers willing to switch to whoever can provide it cheaper, from wherever in the world.

  36. @NEIL A

    “It’s not that I don’t like debating with you, it’s just that we go round in circles in a way that I know AW doesn’t like, and that most others (maybe not Carfrew) probably find tedious.”


    Eh? I’m not a great fan of the circle thing either. But you weren’t going round in circles, Somerjohn had some good questions. He wisely came up with another more amenable question so normal service is happily resumed. Still wondering about the earlier stuff though!!

  37. @BBZ

    Yes, not news to learn Devo Max is popular. Nor surprising really. Having cake and eating it is often popular too…

  38. Neil A

    I doubt that SLab are “terrified” by those figures – they simply confirm a pattern that has ben obvious for a good time now.

    What might be interesting (though I doubt it! :-) ) will be how they react to the two strands in Sturgeon’s speech today –

    1. How will they respond to the consultation on the first draft of the Bill proposing a 2nd indyref next week? [1] We’ll need to see its terms before we can draw any conclusions, but I have long felt that the tactic is to see if the Unionists (of any strand) will call for it to be treated as ultra vires.

    2. How will they respond to Sturgeon’s determination to pursue special status for Scotland in a Brexit UK?

    Brian Taylor (still one of the best commentators on Scottish politics) pus it this way-

    “However, there was in the speech a far more significant announcement which, shorn of rhetoric, drew relatively little applause.

    That was when the FM said her government would put forward proposals – which they are already crafting – to maintain as much of Scotland’s links with the EU as may be thought feasible, post Brexit.

    Crucially, this would be within the UK. It would not require indyref2. It would not require independence. It would, however, require new powers for the Scottish Parliament – including the power to reach transnational agreements.

    It would require, therefore, a flexible UK: perhaps on the lines of the relationship between Flanders and Belgium as a whole. Perhaps maintaining connections to the single market, Norway style. Perhaps also driven by the need to accord special status to Northern Ireland.

    In essence, Ms Sturgeon is making that the core of her pitch. She is challenging Theresa May to smile upon this prospect, to take it seriously and, ultimately, to advance it as part of the UK Brexit pitch if it is judged worthwhile.”

    [1] This is a Holyrood Bill, not a Westminster one, so it goes through a considerable period of consultation before it is tabled in the Chamber.

  39. @Neil A

    “The greatest chip I suppose might be the possibility that the UK turns elsewhere for her imports. A comprehensive trade agreement with the USA on cars for example might see right hand drive Cadillacs start to replace the market share of German marques.”


    Yes, and sometimes the American cars can go round corners!! I do think we have some negotiating clout, but whether it’s enough to offset the temptations of setting an example to other prospective exiters, and snaffling banking and maybe other business too, is the concern.

    We can get imports elsewhere but they can replace many of our exports to them with their own stuff so that’s a bit of a wash, and you still have the matter of setting an example and snaffling banking.

    Regarding banking it goes beyond the loan stuff. For example, a lot of the euro conversions are handled by us. It affects insurance, Lloyds has been talking of moving…

  40. @Candy
    Rather an uncharacteristically intemperate outburst there!

    Fact is both sides say the dispute has been resolved to their satisfaction, so we don’t know what deal has been done. Probably a compromise

    When Tesco stock has run out in a couple of weeks we will see prices creep up. Obscured by a plethora of club card and 3 for 2 offers. In 6 months time they will be 10% higher and no-one will have noticed… until they find they have to take out payday loans due to surprisingly spending 10% more on the weekly shop….

  41. BZ

    Have you seen the transcript of this morning’s E&W High Court evidence?


    No wonder the judges want more argument on whether tabling Article 50 can be revoked or not!

  42. The strange thing is that the EU, as it was before June 23rd, does not exist anymore.

    Right from the start we have had Juncker talking about Britain being ‘punished’. He first said it back in January, “If Britain votes to leave they will be treated as traitors, and traitors must be punished”. We have heard ‘punished’ from Hollande, Scheuble, Tusk, and various members of the Commission as well as Juncker. It got so bad that even Barnier, chosen as a hardline no concessions negotiator, has been trying to soften the language.

    It is a strong word that, ‘punished’. Supposed someone on the UK was going around saying Muslims must be punished, or Germans must be punished, or Poles must be punished. There would be uproar, and rightly so. It is extreme and violent language; it is inexcusable.

    I find it ironic that Tusk uses this language, then complains loudly when Poles in Britain are assaulted (to my great regret). Well duh …

    Hollande said only this week, “There must be a threat, there must be a price”. In three short months the EU has changed itself from a Utopian Club to something rather nasty. The quotes are all there, they will never go away, and they will colour political discourse for years to come. The EU has blithely thrown away something very valuable, and for very little reward.

    I think it almost inevitable that there will be a price to pay for that, a steep one, although I make no predictions about what it will be.

  43. “Hence the success of own brand products, Poundland and so on.”

    As ever pure comedy gold. Of course Poundland never imports anything.

  44. Test

  45. @Candy – “Unilever has just caved in their dispute – Tesco spokesman saying it was “resolved to our satisfaction”. There is a devaluation but businesses importing stuff are going to struggle to pass on costs if the last 24 hours are anything to go by…..

    “Businesses that export to us will either have to absorb the costs or move factories back to Britain so that both revenues and expenses are in pounds.”

    If you really think that the phrase ‘resolved to our satisfaction’ means that Tesco aren’t paying more for Marmite today than they were yesterday, then you aren’t very famil!ar with how PR works. The BBC are reporting that a compromise has been reached, with Unilever giving a little ground on the 10%. Asda has also negotiated a new deal. I think we can be pretty sure that Unilever asked for 10%, expecting to get – 3%, 5%? – and so probably feel quite comfortable right now. If you seriously think they have been slapped down and can never raise prices, then more fool you.

    Indeed, tonight retail analysts are saying that the deal is good for Tesco’s, as they can claim to be fighting for UK consumers, and it’s also good for Unilever (and indeed the rest of the industry) as it has make people understand that price rises are now inevitable and Brexit will be blamed. This saga actually increases the chances of further price rises, but you are so daft you don’t even realise that.

    As for the idea that businesses will have to absorb costs or move to the UK – well given that we import over 50% of our food from overseas, bought in international markets where Britain is a small part of overall demand, and there is no more UK land left for foreign farmers to move to (wouldn’t that be mass agricultural immigration anyway – can’t have that can we?) – you’re talking complete nonsense. I’d love to see the plan for home grown British bananas.

    Bananas just about sums it up, British or no.

    I suggest every time anyone sees a price rise in the next few months, just remind @Candy.

  46. @Andrew111

    I think you may be relatively new around here. Our constantly factually challenged poster is always intemperate and incredibly ill informed about the UK. She also hates Scotland and the Scots ( she thinks we are the silliest people in the UK).

  47. @Candy – by the way – since June 23rd, global oil prices have fallen by around 2.5%, and UK domestic home heating oil has risen by 21%.

    Please could the leavers attack these companies that have raised prices, and bring them to heel?

    Or would you imagine the price rise is something to do with a huge and sudden devaluation, driving up the price of an imported product bought in dollars?

    Ho hum. May be it’s all part of Trump’s liberal media conspiracy…..

  48. Candy


    Tesco and the Brexiteers won a famous victory over Unilever and the cringing hang-wringing remainers like yourself.”

    Wow, that’s a really loaded comment for a minor comericial disagreement which has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. But it goes to show that “they don’t like it up em”

  49. “I suggest every time anyone sees a price rise in the next few months, just remind @Candy.”


    I know about a price rise that’s already happened…

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