The full results of MORI’s poll for the Observer are now available on their website. The topline figures, with changes from last month, are CON 41% (nc), LAB 34%(+3), LDEM 18% (nc).

As ever, it is worth remembering that MORI’s lack of political weighting and their harsh filtering by likelihood to vote means that their figures tend to be more volatile than other pollsters. Last month’s MORI poll showed a Conservative lead of 10 points – the largest for a very long time and a figure that has not be reflected by other pollsters. The broad trend though does tally with the figures produced by Populus in their last poll – the Conservatives have so far retained the support they received after the local elections, but Labour are starting to recover some support.

It is also worth noting that the “other” vote seems to be falling again; other parties in MORI’s poll sum to 8%, perhaps suggesting the boost that minor parties received around the local elections – mainly the BNP and the Greens – is beginning to subside.

MORI’s poll also covered attitudes towards the main political leaders. Asked if leaders are a strength or a weakness to their respective parties, Gordon Brown and David Cameron were both seen as net positives (Brown at +26, Cameron at +31). Tony Blair was seen as a net weakness for the Labour party, with a net score of -21 (54% thought Blair was a weakness for Labour, 33% a strength). John Prescott received a net score of -64.

The fall from grace of Blair and Prescott since 1997 is huge. Back in 1997 Blair had a net rating of +60, and Prescott +34. Brown’s rating was +36, suggesting that 9 years of office have not really tarnished his reputation. To put Cameron’s rating in context, Hague scored -41 in 2001, while John Major in 1997 scored +13, with 50% thinking he was a strength for the Conservative party, suggesting Major himself was rather more positively regarded than his party.

Asked if the respective politicians were in touch with ordinary people, there was more of a contrast between Cameron and Brown. 41% thought Cameron was in touch with ordinary people to 31% who disagreed, a net rating of +10, compared to Gordon Brown’s net rating of -8. Tony’s Blair’s current net rating for being in touch is -35, though a look back at his past scores reveals how changeable the ratings are; at the time of the 2000 fuel strikes Blair’s net rating fell to -49, but recovered to zero by 2001 before falling again.

For the last month or so Populus have been conducting weekly poll for the BBC’s Daily Politics programme – normally on Fridays. Last week’s poll covered attitudes towards the water shortage in the South of England. Questions on the water companies’ responsibility for leaks produced predictable answers – 82% of people thought that the amount of water themselves could save in their homes paled into insignificance compared to the amount of water lost through leaky pipes, and 89% thought that water companies should be compelled to fix all leaks before keeping any profits (a somewhat strange question – presumably Populus intended to ask if water companies should be compelled to fix all leaks before distributing profits to shareholders, but didn’t think respondents would understand what dividends were.)

More interestingly, there was broad support for compulsary water metering with 63% in favour and 35% opposed. 56% of people supported the renationalisation of the water companies and their replacement with a single state owned water board, 38% of people would oppose such a move.


MORI/Observer – Conservatives 7 points ahead of Labour. More when the full figures appear on MORI’s website.
Harris/FT – more people in Europe view the US as the greatest threat to world peace than Iran.
YouGov/Mirror – 89% say sentences for child abusers are too light.

A YouGov poll of Labour party members, commissioned by Michael Meacher’s LabOUR Commission and published in Saturday’s Guardian suggests that 71% of Labour party members want Tony Blair to step down before the 2007 conference. 37% of Labour members want him to step down before this year’s party conference.

However members want Blair to go of his own accord; there is little support for action to oust him against his will. Only 27% think Labour MPs should act to precipitate a contest, while 66% think Blair should chose his own time to stand down.

There was considerable disenchantment with the government – only half of Labour’s members that the governmnent had remained completely or mostly true to Labour’s values and aspirations. Asked what the government’s six worst mistakes were, the Iraq war was cited by 52%, followed by subservience to the US second on 49%. Next were reliance upon privatisation in the public services on 46%, and refusing to raise the top rate of income tax (36%). Members thought that Labour’s greatest positive achievements in office were economic stability, helping the poor, cutting waiting lists and improving education.

Ipsos-MORI have started conducting quarterly comparative polls tracking social trends in six countries – the UK, USA, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. A couple of figures cropped up in various news items over the last week, but the first actual findings are published in a MORI report today.

The most reported figure was on people’s confidence in their head of government’s ability to tackle the problems facing the country. With a net confidence rating of minus 40% Tony Blair had the lowest rating of the 6 heads of government measured. His figure compares with minus 29% for Dominique de Villepin, minus 27% for Silvio Berlusconi (the survey was conducted prior to the Italian elections), minus 24% for Jose Luis Zapatero, minus 18% for George Bush and minus 13% for Andrea Merkel.

British people also had comparatively little confidence in their government’s ability to specific areas; UK respondents had the lowest confidence in their government to tackle terrorism, integration of immigrants into the community or crime of the 6 countries measured.

There are intersting contrasts between the problems people in the 6 countries surveyed consider to be the most worrying facing their country. Only 11% of respondents in Britain said they considered unemployment to be one of the three most worrying issues facing the country, compared to 54% of French respondents, 59% of Italian respondents and 71% of German respondents. This shouldn’t be particularly surprising – not only does Britain have a low unemployment rate compared to the other European countries, but MORI’s questions on economic optimism also show that British people are most optimistic about their countries’s economic performance and their own family’s financial situation than respondents in other countries.

Britain is also the country where fewest people consider poverty to be a worrying issue – although not by such startling margins. 22% of British respondents named poverty as one of the three most worrying issues compared to 39% of Germans and 38% of French respondents. Britain was also the country with the lowest concern over “political scandal and corruption” – only 14%. The highest figures were 21% in Italy (again, remember this was when Berlusconi was still in power) and 27% in the USA (where the Jack Abramoff scandal would still have been fresh in people’s minds).

British people were comparatively more concerned about the environment (23%) and crime (47%)- where Britain had the highest number of people saying it was one of the three most worrying issues. Britain also had one of the higher proportions of people saying they were worried about health and education. On terrorism there were distinct trends – Spanish respondents were most likely to worry about terrorism with 58% citing it as one of the three most worrying issues (the survey was conducted prior to ETA’s March ceasefire), then came Italy, the UK and the USA onm 40%, 39% and 37%. Respondents in Germany and France, neither of who m have contributed troops to the coalition in Iraq, were the least likely to be worried about terrorism with only 23% and 21% saying they were worried about it.

It is obviously verging on the impossible to devise a normal voting intention question that can apply to the political and party systems in all six countries covered – MORI’s best attempt is to ask “If there were to be a general election next week, and assuming that only one of the two main parties could win enough seats to form a government, which one of them would you prefer to see win?” “The party in power” or the “Opposition party”. No doubt you can imagine the problems a question like this presents (think of Germany for a start – where the main alternative to the CDU/CSU is their coalition partner rather than an opposition party). For the record though, in the UK the government had a 4 point deficit (37% to 41%), the same defecit as in Italy (the survey was conducted when Berlusconi was still in power). Spain and Germany’s governments both had an 8 point lead, France had a 3 point lead and the USA had a 15 point defecit.

While not part of MORI’s own study, the report also includes some data from a Eurobarometer back in 2001 asking people about the cause of poverty which I found interesting. Among the countries that then made up the EU, people in the UK were the second most likely to blame poverty on laziness (23% agreed – only Portugal was higher) and was the second least likely to blame poverty on injustice (20% agreed, compared to 40% in France and 42% in Sweden).