ICM’s regular poll for the Guardian came out today, topline voting intention figures are CON 42%(nc), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 12%(-1), GRN 4%(-1). There is no significant change since a fortnight ago and the Conservatives retain a formidable lead.

The poll also asked about expectations of Brexit. People tend to think it will have a negative impact on the economy (by 43% to 38%) and on their own personal finances (34% to 12%), but on the overall way of life in Britain they are slightly more positive (41% expect a positive impact, 36% a negative one). All these answers are, as you would expect, strongly correlated with referendum vote – very few Remainers expect anything good to come of Brexit, very few Leavers expect any negative consequences. Full tabs are here.

For those who’ve missed it, I also have a long piece over on YouGov’s website about the Brexit problem facing Labour and how to respond to it. Labour were already a party whose electoral coalition was under strain, with sharp divides between their more liberal, metropolitian middle-class supporters and their more socially conservative traditional working class support. Brexit splits the party right down that existing fault line and their choice on whether to robustly oppose or accept Brexit will upset one side or another of the Labour family.

More of Labour’s supporters backed Remain than Leave and a substantial minority of Labour voters would be delighted were the party to oppose Brexit. However, such a policy would also drive away a substantial chunk of their support. 20% of people who voted Labour in 2015 say they would be “angry” if Labour opposed Brexit. In contrast, if Labour accept Brexit but campaign for a close relationship with the EU once we leave then while it would delight fewer voters, it would also anger far fewer voters (only 7% of Labour’s 2015 vote would be angry). If Labour’s aim is to keep their electoral coalition together, then a “soft Brexit” would be acceptable to a much wider segment of their support.

Of course it’s more complicated than that. This is only how voters would react right now. Labour may want to gamble on public opinion turning against Brexit in the future and get ahead of the curve. Alternatively, they may think Brexit is such an important issue that Labour should do what they think right and damn the electoral consequences. That’s a matter for the party itself to decide, but in terms of current public opinion I think Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Brexit may actually be the one most likely to keep Labour together. Full article is here.

637 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 42, LAB 27, LD 10, UKIP 12”

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  1. Why on earth would HMG agree to a new Scottish Referendum? They will simply say “you’ve just had one, and now is not the time”. I strongly suspect most Scots would agree with them. My guess is they won’t give the Scottish Government the necessary legislation until two years after Brexit, i.e letting the dust has settle after one Constitutional crisis before starting the next. I also think that Sturgeon knows this, which is why she is a free ride to keep talking about it.

    It would not be May’s style to *ever* give the SG a “when you feel like it” ticket. If and when she agrees to it, it will be a fairly specific timetable. They don’t need to grant another Referendum any time soon, they have done their duty with the 2014 vote, and that is how the International community will see it.

    All that changes if HMG were ever to see an opening to crush the SNP and instal a Tory majority in Scotland, but that isn’t May’s style either.

  2. RODGER @ BZ
    They won’t be able to un-seat Bercow.

    We’re in agreement there. His personal morals are his own, but we also agree that he’s popular with the MPs who would have to unseat him.

    Is it Bercow that must declare a Manifesto bill?

    Strictly speaking, my understanding is that HMG must declare whatever the issue is as a manifesto bill and the HoC Speaker must certify it to confirm that the provisions of the Parliament Acts have been satisfied.

    See the UK parliament’s THE PARLIAMENT ACTS, BY PROFESSOR RODNEY BRAZIER, from December 2004, esp. para #24.

  3. Saffer

    I think those changes are from the previous ComRes poll – which was back around June(?), so perhaps a bit less dramatic than they appear.

  4. BZ

    Thank you for the link. Section 28 perhaps explains the comments of Lord Fowler who has made it clear that in his opinion as Speaker of the HoL the Brexit bill must pass un-molested.

    I also note that Prof Brazier’s work dates from 2004, before the Convention of 2006 (that I referenced) which was set up to deal with the shenanigans around the Hunting bill IIRC. A thus … gawd knows.

  5. Yes, the changes are from June – that’s why I highlighted it in my post with CAPITALS. Less “dramatic” yes, but sometimes the long term perspective is more useful than the short term, which can be obscured by short term fluctuations and statistical noise.

    Here’s the link to the tables.


  6. ON – care to acknowledge your forecasting fallability? :-)

  7. “It would not be May’s style to *ever* give the SG a “when you feel like it” ticket. ”

    It is in May’s style to grant another independence referendum but direct it at the rest of the UK rather than Scotland.

    The Act of Union can be repealed from either side.

  8. @Rodger

    In those circumstances the SG and the Scottish Parliamnet May just proceed anyway. It is not clear that section 30 approval is required, it simply puts the question beyond legal doubt. It’s a win/win in any event for the SG: the UK blocks Scottish democracy and the “most powerful devolved parliament in the world” is proved to be exactly the opposite. Or the Scottish Tories bring a legal challenge to do so. Just as good.

  9. Another wonderful game of Rugby, England v Wales. Wales led for most of the match, but England yet again, held their nerve, and scored a late try to win. That’s 16 in a row now.

    Off to celebrate, have a good evening all.

  10. OLDNAT

    Ye of little faith, i never doubted England would win.

  11. Jim Jam

    Indeed. My forecasting relied on Wales being able to do something useful with the damn ball, during their dominance in open play.

  12. Scrappy game all round I thought with plenty of errors and the clearing kick just prior to the decisive try proving critical.
    England could be 0-2 instead of 2-0 as the Americans might put it.

  13. RODGER @ BZ

    There’s a more recent [Feb 2016] HoC briefing paper on the The Parliament Acts, which still seems to require the Speaker’s confirmation.

  14. Saffer

    Thanks for the link to the tables.

    I agree with you, that it is often useful to view VI changes over a longer timescale – which is why I linked to the “What Scotland Thinks” VI tables, a few threads back.

    One of the more interesting questions that ComRes ask (because it measures underlying attitudes, not just VI variations) is “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru or another party?”

    Responses were –

    Eng – Con 31% : Lab 30% : UKIP 9% : LD 8% : Grn 3%

    Sco – SNP 42% : Con 17% : Lab 11% : UKIP 6% : LD 4% : Grn 1%

  15. @Neil Wilson

    “The Act of Union can be repealed from either side.”

    Indeed, England could decide to leave the UK ( as could Wales and NI either separately or with England). In practice I don’t see how England and Wales or Scotland or NI can repeal the Act of Union unilaterally as none has a sovereign parliament that being a function of the UK state.

    Of.course if England decided to secede ( with Wales and NI) then Scotland would be the successor state. England would need to decide which currency to use ( it’s not certain that Scotland would be prepared to share the pound) and the Bank of England. And so on. But it might be worth trying.

  16. Re. “Respect the result”

    In most countries in the world that might mean “implement the result” but in Britain things are not so clear cut..

    “With the greatest possible respect….”

    “I respect your views, but…”

    No British person would interpret those words as positive for the aims of the person being addressed…

  17. @oldnat

    Re the Herald, you might almost think they don’t like the results.of the VI polls.

  18. Btw I am not trying to start another argument about what Parliament should do, merely that “respect the result” was far from being a well-drafted piece of legislation unless Cameron was trying to leave open almost any response to the result..

  19. @Neil Wilson

    Sorry meant to say that if England did decide to leave the UK obviously its MPs could not vote in the debates in the UK Parliament about the terms of its secession although it might be possible to let them speak ( subject to the agreement of Scottish, Welsh and NI MPs assuming Wales and NI were not leaving too – if they were then clearly only MPs representing Scotland as the UK would.decide). On present composition of the HoC, Angus Robertson would become the PM of the UK.

  20. Again, thank you for the link. There is very little in it about Manifestos and their impact on Parliamentary procedure. Yes the Speaker must certify Bills for Royal Assent and it talks about when that should be done, but that is not how the Convention has always worked. When a Bill goes to the Lords tagged as a Manifesto Bill then the Lords have an obligation to pass it un-molested, so the issues in the Parliament Acts don’t arise. The issues of Speaker Certification covered in the Parliament Acts do not arise.

    What happens if the HoL refuse to pass a Manifesto Bill is un-explored territory AFAIK. Given the remarks about Manifestos in the 2016 Briefing Paper, there doesn’t seem to be any formal process by which a Bill becomes a Manifesto Bill. That is consistent with the 2006 Convention. I say there is no formal process because for example Baroness Young in her rejection of the Sexual Offences 2000 Act “Said she felt she was entitled to do so because the age of consent part was not in the Govt’s election manifesto”. If the Speaker had not given Certification, she would surely have referred to that lack of Certification as a more solid justification.

    The 2016 Briefing paper is concerned with procedural aspects of Finance Bills, and operation of the Parliament Act of 1911 when the Lords rejects a bill for the 2nd time. It says nothing about how a bill becomes recognized as a Manifesto Bill. Unless of course, I am missing something. In fact, looking through the remarks about Manifestos in the paper, it seems to be one of these ‘everybody knows’ things so beloved in Parliament.

    I suspect that The SA Convention and the Parliament Acts are different things, but as I said, I may well be wrong.

    There are those in the Lords who believe that the SA Convention is now dead following the Reform of the HoL by Blair (I see no justification for that view). As the Brexit bill is fairly transparently a Manifesto bill under any reasonable definition, I suspect that it may be this lobby that is posting Amendments.

  21. Hireton

    It seems safe to assume that BMG (like others) have found little shift in VI. If the SNP had lost ground, there would have been banner headlines.

    Re “The Act of Union” –

    In both 1707 and 1801 there were Acts (plural) of Union, as each Parliament passed one. In both cases, the singularity only refers to the relevant Treaty of Union, to which the Acts gave effect.

    “I don’t see how England and Wales or Scotland or NI can repeal the Act of Union unilaterally as none has a sovereign parliament that being a function of the UK state.”

    It was not an accident that Winnie Ewing used the words “The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on 25th March 1707, is hereby reconvened” when re-opening the Parliament in 1999. That wording just might come in useful at some point!


    I’d take the ComRes poll cross-breaks outwith England with a large pinch of salt.

    They tell us that ComRes interviewed 2,021 GB adults online between the 8th and 10th February 2017 and then Q1. goes on to ask:
    Thinking back to the General Election of May last year, which party, if any, did you vote for? Was it Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, SNP or some other party, or did you not vote?

    In England, of course, there was no General Election in May 2016, so there’s a fair chance that savvy enough to sign up for ComRes would realise that ComRes meant the UK GE 2015.

    For Scotland and Wales it’s very different, though, as there were General Elections in both polities in May 2016, meaning that respondents will have had to guess which GE ComRes meant!

  23. Barbazenzero

    Well spotted as to the poor questioning by ComRes as to when “the General Election” took place!

    If the VI in the wee Scots crossbreak was out of line with proper Scottish polls, then large quantities of sodium chloride would certainly be required – but the numbers are “in the ballpark” so seem reasonable.

    The last time that ComRes asked the “which party do you identify with” question (possibly early 2016?) I noted the strong identification with the SNP recorded then. It’s an interesting question that merits inclusion in proper Scots and Welsh polls at some point.

  24. Ashamed to reveal I backed Wales at 7/4. Still pleased to see Daley go over in the corner. Fine game – England vastly better than against France.

  25. RODGER
    What happens if the HoL refuse to pass a Manifesto Bill is un-explored territory AFAIK.

    I suspect you’re looking for a definition which doesn’t exist. The Parliament Act 1911 was passed partly because of the HoL rejection of 1909 budget and partly because of the Irish home rule bill which the Libs had promised. Both could be argued to be “manifesto” bills and the mechanism seems to be the same for both.

    I presume your 2017-02-11 19:33 UTC post was addressed towards me. If so, a BZ at the beginning would have given me a better chance of spotting it quickly!

  26. OLDNAT
    The last time that ComRes asked the “which party do you identify with” question (possibly early 2016?) I noted the strong identification with the SNP recorded then. It’s an interesting question that merits inclusion in proper Scots and Welsh polls at some point.

    It is indeed interesting, and it would be relevant in all polls.

    I wasn’t trying to be “clever” with my post, but it really does strike me as odd that a respected polling company doesn’t have an annual routine which makes sure that updating of dates and similar is properly addressed before the end of each calendar year.

    No Xmas party attendance without it would be my rule!

  27. Rodger,

    Manifesto bill or not?

    I suggest that one reason why HMG have not been promoting this as a manifesto bill is that this would be resorting to legal niceties when the underlying issue is one of democracy.

    The manifesto commitment was to hold a referendum. Had the HoL tried to block implementation of the referendum, then the manifesto argument applies.

    However, the current bill is more than a manifesto pledge (*). It is about carrying out the democratic will expresssed in the referendum. Since the HoC gave unequivocal cross-party support to this bill, it becomes doubly difficult for the HoL to thwart the bill. Most members of the HoL are likely to be susceptible to this. Some – in particular LD peers – may choose to vote against. But, it is doubtful whether they will carry the day. I expect the Bill to clear the HoC and proceed to Royal Assent unchanged and in time.

    (*) – Technically this Bill is not a manifesto pledge since, until the legal case was brought, the Government had not even intended to table such a bill.

  28. BZ

    Yes I forgot the BZ on my last post. The Salisbury Convention started life in 1945 in response to a huge Labour majority in the HoC being confronted a huge Tory majority in the HoL. Lord Salisbury, the then Leader of the House in the Lords realized something would have to done and hence the Convention. It’s provenance is not related to the Parliament acts of 1911 and 1949.

    Paul H-J “Technically this Bill is not a manifesto pledge since, until the legal case was brought, the Government had not even intended to table such a bill” is a good point, but technicalities don’t come into it. If the bill is in the Manifesto, or reasonably implied by the Manifesto, then it is included. The key point is that the coverage tends to the inclusive, or for any Manifesto bill coming from the Commons, Peers could say “It’s not in your Manifesto, look there is an extra comma there”. Salisbury was clear about that, the Lords must not obstruct the will of the Government expressed in the Manifesto is roughly what he said (roughly ’cause I can’t blasted find it).

  29. Rodger

    “(roughly ’cause I can’t blasted find it).”

    Sympathy! That’s a curse that affects all of us from time to time.

    Of course, if UK politicians had decided to actually think about the consultation on codifying the Constitution then things may have been clearer.


    That they didn’t simply demonstrates what a useless bunch of incompetents they actually are!

  30. Oldnat
    I like p8, where
    The powers of the Head of State … include: Appointing the Prime Minister;

    The Head of State exercises these powers on the advice of the Prime Minister.
    The last one, or the one to come?

  31. Dave

    The consultation was about codifying the constitution of the UK – not making it in any way relevant to the interests of the citizens of the UK!

    That Brenda currently appoints the PM to head her Government is current practice. The consultation just wrote that down.

    But a serious examination of the UK’s vague and uncodified constitution would have allowed some examination of those parts of it best consigned to the sewer.

    Since such a situation could only be brought about by sensible politicians concerned to create good governance for the poor souls subjected to their ministrations, it was never likely to come about.

  32. knew fred

  33. @Oldnat

    The “What party do you generally identify with..” is indeed fascinating – Con and Lab almost identical, which implies that some of the strong Con VI is soft and vulnerable, and that there are potential Lab voters out there, currently planning to lend their votes elsewhere. Potentially therefore, it’s not impossible for Labour to revive – if they just sort out their current problems with leadership and messaging.

    I’ve been digging into the cross-breaks elsewhere, and comparing with the last Comres tables, for June 2016

    That comparison shows, for instance, that the Labour decline in VI is largely from losing their own 2015 voters since June.. Back then,
    87% of their 2015 voters intended to stay with them. That has since dropped to 78%, As Mike Smithson has noted, 12% of 2015 Lab voters now say they plan to vote LD: in June, that was just 3%.

    One of the features that strikes me in the cross-break trend comparison is that the LibDem improvement (+3% nationally) is concentrated in the youngest age groups: +8% for 18-24, +9% for 25-34.

    This suggests that perhaps the youngsters are beginning to forgive the LD the coalition years, on the basis of remain sentiment. (This would tie in with a recent report on an LD website, Libdemvoice I think it was, that Clegg was recently cheered in a student meeting!)

  34. @Danny

    “I don’t have the figures, but I strongly suspect UK cash was bleeding abroad. This would be consistent with the long term trend of a steadily falling pound. Demand was being met by a very ready supply of cheap imports.”


    Well a falling pound would tend to make imports more expensive. Like, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but synths have gone up in price quite a bit since sterling fell.

    But glossing over that, yes if rising demand is met by imports in addition to local production that will also help keep a lid on inflation. This is indeed another way in which QE need not result in onerous inflation.

  35. Rodger,
    “BTW I have long thought that Juncker was in favour of Brexit from the start and did his best to bring it about”
    Did you see the clip of the parliament debate just after the vote, and the Farage Junker kiss? I saw that and I thought exactly the same. Juncker was delighted. As well he might be, I thought, because a single direction for the EU would be much easier without the UK. Whether he would like to keep the UK semi-attached or is content with a complete break I couldn’t say.

    Anyone believing the UK gets significant benefit from membership might reasonably expect it will come back.

  36. Somerjohn,
    ” I used to think Cameron was only the second-worst PM of the last 100 years”
    Why do you think he did badly? He snatched two election wins from the jaws of defeat and staged a referendum because of popular demand. If Brexit goes well he will get credit for initiating it. If it goes badly he will get some credit for arguing against it.

    As for his economic record while in office, thats another matter. But I think what appears the issue now, Brexit, will fade while the economy may have a longer mark on history.

    ” if rising demand is met by imports in addition to local production that will also help keep a lid on inflation”

    In 2008, circumstances aligned to keep down inflation, not least that the rest of the world was suffering similar difficulties. The difference is that Brexit is a uniquely british economic problem. I think the economic damage to the EU might be uncomfortable in what is still a bad time, but it will be second order compared to effects in the UK. The omens do not seem especially good for even a transitional deal, so a short term hit in the Uk seems highly likely. I have always seen the long term to be the problem. Short term, there is potential for runaway inflation, which might at least help with the debt. Inflation always struck me as backdoor taxation.

  37. Caught up with the BBC documentary on the EU mentioned above.

    It would seem Guy Verhofstdat is rather optimistic about the future of the EU and about opportunities for the EU created by Brexit. Not looking like he fears having to compromise. Instead he seems to think the EU is likely to integrate more. I see there is also news from German bankers, who believe the UK banking system could only continue its favoured trading status if it remains subject to control by the european court. Sounds like another May red line. Taken together, these might suggest that whatever her words, May agrees, and is therefore tailoring her actions not so much towards what she thinks might come from negotiations, but based on the unlikelihood of any deal other than a transitional period during which trade integration can be unwound. This of course is based upon her stated red lines, which therefore make any deal impossible.

    On the other hand, Verhofstadt believes the EU itself will change, and there seems to be a number of nations keen to do something about migration, for example. meanwhile the banking crisis rumbles on, which again may lead to fundamental reforms there.

    While this news might make a hard Brexit more likely, it also sounds like a rapid rejoining of a reformed EU is also increasing in likelihood. If there is an EU plan it must be on the lines of, get britain out, carry out necessary reforms, then let britain back in. Simultaneously there has to be a sufficient crisis to force germany to agree to integration, and that is shaping up nicely.

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