ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian had topline figures, with changes from their last poll for the Sunday Telegraph in mid-October, of CON 40%(-3), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 18%(+4).

It appears to show a significant increase for the Lib Dems – ICM are the pollster who normally show the highest level of Liberal Democrat support, but even they had shown a very low level of support for the Lib Dems in their last poll – it now back at a reasonable level in ICM at least.

Interesting in contrast to ComRes’s poll yesterday, in this one it is the Conservatives who have declined as the Lib Dems recover, so we still don’t have any firm idea of who will suffer when (or if) the Liberal Democrats recover from their present doldrums.

A ComRes poll for the Independent tomorrow has topline voting intentions, with changes from their last poll, of CON 41%(+7), LAB 33%(-4), LDEM 16%(+1). In amongst the flurry of polls we’ve had over the last two months ComRes haven’t polled since mid-September, back before conference season began, so missed out on all of the Labour surge after their conference and the Conservative recover after theirs. The changes in this poll are across the whole of the party conference season and the non-election annoucement (one might well think this gives us a far better picture than pouncing on all the ups and downs in the last six weeks’ of polls. Maybe it does, but given the speculation over a possible general election polls during conference were inevitable this year).

The eight point lead is the largest enjoyed by the Conservatives in any poll since April, though since they started weighting by past vote ComRes have tended to produce some of the better poll findings for the Tories. It is also a good rating for the Lib Dems compared to their recent poor showings. It’s tempting to take these findings as a suggestion that a Lib Dem recovery would hurt Labour more than the Conservatives, I think it’s a bit early to conclude that yet though, ComRes tend to be nice to the Tories anyway and, not having seen any of the really poor showings for the Lib Dems in ComRes polls, we can’t really conclude this is a recovery from an slump that happened ‘offstage’ in the gap between ComRes polls. I don’t think we’ll know for sure till there is a new Lib Dem leader whose had a chance to make their mark.


A new Ipsos MORI poll for the Observer shows Labour back in the lead – the topline figures with changes from MORI’s last poll (conducted for the Sun a fortnight ago) are CON 40%(-1), LAB 41%(+3), LDEM 13%(+2).

Unlike YouGov’s poll published on Friday (although actually conducted slightly later than this one) the poll suggests that Labour have begun to recover slightly from their position earlier this month. With the present erractic position in the polls though it is hard to say for sure – we will have another two polls in the week from ICM and ComRes which may shed some light, but it looks as though we can conclude little other than that the two main parties are close to one another in the high thirties and low fourties, with the leaderless Liberal Democrats languishing in the low teens. All depends on what happens when they get a new leader – whether they recover support and, if so, at whose expense?

YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph has topline voting intention figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 41% (nc), LAB 38% (nc), LDEM 11% (nc). Clearly the figures are exactly the same as their last poll, conducted two and a half weeks ago for the Sunday Times.

This is the first poll for almost a fortnight and, after a period of extreme volatility in the polls, it’s makes a change to find things so static. There was potential for the Conservatives to have continued moving head, or for their leads at the start of the month to be have been nothing but a brief recovery on the back of a horrid week for Gordon Brown. On the basis of this poll though it seems to have been consolidated (there should be two more polls early next week to confirm or contradict that). To an extent voting intention polls are once again an irrelevance anyway following Sir Menzies Campbell’s resignation as Lib Dem leader. As was the position before Tony Blair resigned, we once again have a known unknown ahead of us – we know that in mid-December the Liberal Democrats will have a new leader, but we can’t know until then what effect it will have on people’s voting intentions – it may have none, it may see the Lib Dems taking support back off Labour, or off the Conservatives. Until then voting intentions figures are a bit artifical.

More interesting therefore are the underlying figures – and there is some very bad news for them for Gordon Brown. Having enjoyed strongly positive ratings so far as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown’s approval rating has slumped, down into negative territory for the first time as PM, with a net approval rating of minus 14, down from plus 11 last month. David Cameron meanwhile is once again back in positive territory on +4, up from a painful minus 27 last month. On the forced choice question of whether people would prefer a Labour government under Brown or a Conservative government under Cameron the 15 point lead Labour enjoyed in September is down to only 3 points. Labour’s lead on the economy last month was 8 points, now it’s only 3.

Perhaps more importantly Gordon Brown’s image is rapidly tarnishing. YouGov has asked people about the same series of paired statements about Brown, whether he is decisive/indecisive, effective/ineffective, etc, as they did before he became leader and, in some areas he is now viewed even less positively than before he was PM (unfortunately they weren’t repeated when Brown was at the height of his popularity, so we can’t see the full up and down pattern). His net rating on being able to unite the country is much the same (-32 now as opposed to -31 in May and -33 in Sept 2006). The transformation is in perceptions of Brown being effective and decisive: in September 2006 his net rating for being effective minus ineffective was plus 11, in May 2007 it was plus 10, now it is minus 5. In September 2006 he net rating for being decisive was plus 28, in May 2007 it was plus 35, now it is minus 5.

Gordon Brown’s public image was once one of strength, efficency, decisiveness and experience – obviously you can’t take away his experience, but he seems to have squandered his repuation for efficiency and decisiveness. Sadly YouGov didn’t ask if he was strong or weak, but asked if they agreed with the statement “compared with Gordon Brown, David Cameron seems a lightweight” now only 40% agree, with 37% disagreeing. When the same question was asked in September 57% had agreed, with only 23% disagreeing: Brown no longer has a substantial lead over Cameron when it comes to being seen as a heavyweight politican.

The apparant reasons for the turnaround in perceptions of Brown are predictable – 52% agree that Brown treated the public like fools by claiming he didn’t cancel the election because of the polls (32% disagreed), 51% thought Brown copying Conservative policies made him look feeble and opportunistic (29% disagreed). The question will be whether his image is now tarnished for good, or whether it will improve once the agenda has moved on and they are forgotten.

While the news is horrid for Brown, there are some worrying findings for David Cameron too. Before now I’ve highlighted a major weakness when people are asked about the Conservatives is that people don’t actually have any idea what the Conservatives would offer if they got into power and people aren’t sure if there was any substance behind David Cameron’s words. The past month may have improved the Conservatives’ polling position in voting intentions, but these underlying problems haven’t gone – 65% agree they don’t really know what Cameron in power would be like, 60% say it is hard to know if there is any substance behind his words (down from 65% last month, but obviously still very hji

Finally, the poll also asked people who out of Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne would do a better job at leading the Lib Dems. The answer only underlines the two men’s current anonymity – 10% said Clegg to 5% Huhne, with 57% saying don’t know. Amongst Liberal Democrat voters Huhne led Clegg by 16% to 14%, but naturally this is a minute sample size and the views of Lib Dems voters don’t necessarily bear the slightest relation to those of Lib Dem activists.

We await the next political opinion poll – hopefully tomorrow’s Guardian will have one from ICM, though until Ming Campbell is replaced by a new Liberal Democrat leader we are once again in a sort of polling interregnum with a known unknown bearing down on us.

There were a couple of polls over the weekend. Firstly a Populus poll for the BBC’s Daily Politics showed us what we already knew, that the overwhelming majority of people say they would like a referendum on the new European Treaty, in this case 73%.

67% of people also told Populus that “the issue of Europe is important in the way that I will vote at the next election”. This is somewhat misleading – if you ask people if they think an issue is important or if they care about an issue they will nearly always say yes, to be meaningful they need to pick it out as more important than other issues. In measuring the importance of Europe (or any other for that) as an issue, the best measure is that offered by Ipsos MORI’s monthly tracker of what issues people say are important to the country. Other pollsters ask this of course, but MORI’s stands along because it is regularly done, month in, month out, and more importantly it is unprompted – people aren’t given a list of issues to choose from, they say whatever they think.

In their September poll a whopping 4% of people said that Europe was one of the most important issues facing the country, compared to 43% for immigration, 41% for crime, 36% health and 22% defence and international terrorism. That isn’t to say Europe doesn’t have the potential to be a salient issue – back in 2000 and 2001 when William Hague was banging on about “Saving the Pound” Europe was regulary cited as a major issue facing the country by around 25% of people, it went as high as 43% in 1997. It’s just that, right now, very few people see it as an issue of importance when compared to things they really care about, like immigration, health and crime.

Meanwhile, an ICM poll for the Guardian found that 89% of people thought they were still judged by their class, only 8% thought it was unimportant in shaping the way they were viewed. 53% considered themselves to be working class, 41% middle class – proportions largely unchanged since the late 1990s.