A week ago co-incidence spat out three polls with seven point Labour leads within 2 days. This weeks little clump of Monday polls has produced rather more typical polls from Ashcroft and Populus, and a more unusual one from ICM.

Lord Ashcroft‘s weekly telephone poll has topline figures of CON 32%(+5), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 7%(-4), UKIP 14%(-1). The Conservatives are up five, but it looks like something of a reversion to the mean after last week’s unusual poll that had that the Tories down 6. Full tabs are here.

Secondly is the twice-weekly Populus poll, which has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. Tabs for that are here.

Finally there is the monthly ICM poll for the Guardian here, which has topline figures of CON 34%(+3), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 12%(+2), UKIP 9%(-7!). The narrow Conservative lead looks unusual, but is actually pretty typical of ICM’s recent polls – their last three monthly polls have now shown the Conservatives and Labour effectively neck and neck (a two point Tory lead, a point point Lab lead, now a one point Tory lead). More startling is that sharp drop in UKIP support, down 7 points and into single figures.

The drop in this particular poll is unusually large but it does fit into a broader trend. The expected pattern of UKIP polling around the European elections was for their support to peak after the inevitable burst of publicity following the European elections and then decline again. That’s pretty much happened. Lord Ashcroft’s polls had them peak at 19% just after the Euros, and they’ve now drifted down to 15%. YouGov had them peaking at 17%, now they’ve fallen back to 12%. ICM had them up to 16% after the Euros, now down to 9%. Populus they didn’t really have much of a post-Euro boost for UKIP anyway, only going to up 15%, but in their last couple have had them at 12%. ComRes, Survation and MORI haven’t shown UKIP coming down from their post Euro high yet, but none have polled in July yet… time will tell if they follow the trend.


This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up here, with topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%.

The biggest chunk of the rest of the survey covered the ongoing historical child abuse story. Three-quarters of the public think that it’s probably true that some senior political figures were involved in child abuse in the 1970s and 1980s, and that there was a deliberate cover up. They are more divided over how well the current government have responded to the allegations – 34% think they’ve handled it well, 41% badly. 44% of people say they have at least some confidence in the inquiries under Baroness Butler-Sloss and Peter Wanless to fully investigate the matter, 44% do not. 56% would rather see a full public inquiry.

More generally 46% think questions about historical child abuse are being asked in a proportionate and measured way and there a genuine questions to be asked, 29% think it risks becoming a rumour-led witch hunt of retired politicians.

Interestingly, and perhaps reflecting their general suspicion towards the establishment, UKIP supporters are by far the most likely to believe there was a cover up (90%) and have by far the least confidence that the inquiries will get to the bottom of them (26% – compared to 67% of Conservatives and 65% of Lib Dems).

The other new poll is today is a Scottish ICM poll in the Scotland on Sunday. Topline figures with changes from last month are YES 34%(-2), NO 45%(+2). Excluding don’t knows it works out at YES 43%(-2), NO 57%(+2). The movement is towards NO, but it’s within normal margins of error and appears in line with ICM’s longer term trends. Looking back the YES score (excluding don’t knows) in ICM’s monthly Scottish polls this year have been 46%, 43%, 46%, 48%, 43%, 46% and now 43%. That looks to me like just random variation.


The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 31%(-2), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 10%(-3), UKIP 16%(+1). Changes are from ICM’s poll a month ago which, as you’ll note from the changes, showed a Tory lead. As we’ve seen in the other polling series that showed the Tories ahead or equal last month (Ashcroft, Populus and YouGov), Labour have now clawed back ahead and ICM shows the same – though with a lead of just one point things remain extremely narrow.

The Liberal Democrat score of 10% is not that bad compared to the figures they’ve been receiving in polls from other companies, but ICM normally give the Liberal Democrats their highest scores, so for them this equals their lowest score since way back in 1991 (the Guardian write up refers to it as ICM’s lowest ever for the Liberal Democrats. This isn’t the case, ICM were responsible for the Lib Dems lowest ever score of 3% back in 1989, but this is the lowest ICM have ever shown for them since they switched to phone polling in the 1990s.

The question also asked leader job approval ratings, finding drops for all three leaders. David Cameron’s net rating fell back into negative territory (-5, after +2 last month), Nick Clegg’s rating falls from minus 21 to minus 37, Ed Miliband’s from minus 25 to minus 39. George Osborne’s approval rating is now plus 6, outperforming all the others.


There were two new Scottish polls in the Sunday papers. One was by Panelbase for the SNP, one for ICM in the Scotland on Sunday. The Panelbase poll has topline figures of YES 43%, NO 46%, Don’t know 12%. Excluding don’t knows that works out at YES 48%, NO 52%. The previous three Panelbase polls asked using this version of the question showed NO leads of five points, so the change here is well within the normal margin of error, but the direction of travel is once again towards YES and is the closest Panelbase poll we’ve had yet.

The ICM poll had topline figures of YES 36%, NO 43%, Don’t know 21%. Excluding don’t knows that works out at YES 45%, NO 55%. Compared to their poll last month YES are up two points and NO are down three. However last month’s ICM poll was something of an outlier, showing a sharp shift towards NO, and I suspect this one is largely just a reversion to the mean after a freaky poll a month ago. While ICM have messed about with their methodology in Scottish polls this year, a crude average of their leads to date is 8 points. Today’s isn’t that different to the average.


Yesterday we had a selection of ICM polls in Liberal Democrat seats, initially released anonymously but eventually confirmed as having been commissioned by Lord Oakeshott. Oakeshott has now resigned, but left saying that Cable knew about the polls. The political row rolls on, but I’m just going to look at the polls.

Lord Oakeshott commissioned 6 constituency polls. The first was in Twickenham, and only asked about current voting intention. The other five were in Sheffield Hallam, Redcar, Wells, Cambridge and Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey and also asked about voting intention with alternate leaders. The tables are here, here and here.

All six showed the Lib Dems losing (to the Conservatives, Labour or SNP respectively). However, I’m always slightly wary of constituency polls in Liberal Democrat held seats – the effect of incumbency and tactical voting is far higher for Lib Dem MPs, and when you ask a generic voting intention I think many people give their national preference, rather than how they would actually vote in their own constituency. In most seats this is only a marginal difference – in Lib Dem held seats it can be substantial, as repeatedly shown in polls of Lib Dem marginal seats using a two-stage national-then-constituency voting intention questions (see here by Lord Ashcroft, and here by YouGov). It’s also worth noting that ICM didn’t do their usual reallocation of don’t knows according to the party they voted for the last election, and given there are a lot of past Lib Dems now saying don’t know that makes a difference. ICM specifically provided the data necessary to do the calculation ourselves in their tables, and with normal reallocation the Lib Dems would have been ahead in Twickenham and only one point behind in Sheffield Hallam.

The second part of Oakeshott’s polling was to ask how people in those seats would vote with different party leaders, which in these seats suggested they would do better with Vince Cable as leader. This is in contrast to a YouGov poll in the Times today which asked a nationwide sample how people would vote with Vince Cable as leader – in YouGov’s control question asking how people would vote with the existing party leaders the Lib Dems were on 8%, if the leaders were Cameron, Miliband and Cable the Lib Dems would still be on 8%. No change.

That aside, how would you vote if X was leader are incredibly crude tools. When a would-be leader is little known to the public they are as good as useless. Even when the would-be leader is relatively well known to the public, like Gordon Brown was pre-2007 or Vince Cable is now, they are of dubious use.

Essentially, an ordinary poll respondent who doesn’t closely follow politics might know what the would-be leader looks and sounds like, might have a pre-existing positive or negative view, they might have a vague perception of competence or incompetence. What they don’t know is what policies that new leader would announce, what direction they’d take the party, how the media would react to them and so on.

If the Liberal Democrats change leader it probably won’t be the personality and image of the new leader that makes the difference… it will be everything else that comes with it. Would it mean them leaving the coalition? Would it mean them repudiating the coalition and their role in it? Would it mean them opposing some of the policies they supported until now? And what would be the impact of that – would it win back supporters they’ve lost, or risk alienating their pro-coalition supporters too? While the departure of Nick Clegg may be a requirement for a change of direction, the big strategic question for the Lib Dems is really what attitude they take to their record in government – not which politician is voicing it.