There are apparently new polls tomorrow in the News of the World and the Mail on Sunday. The News of the World poll is by MSL, a sister company of ICM – both are owned by Creston plc. I’ve never them do political media polls before, if I had to make a wild stab in the dark I’d guess that the News of World phoned up ICM for a poll and found that ICM were already contracted to do a poll on the same subject for the Guardian this weekend, and were hence given MSL as someone else who might be able to do it for them. No news of any voting intention questions in the MSL poll, but it found that 54% thought ministers had handled Northern Rock badly and 49% of respondents wanted Alistair Darling to resign.
Overall 46% now thought that the government was bad at handling a crisis, compared to 42% who though they were good at it. Labour’s lead on the economy has dissappeared – asked which party they thought better at managing the economy Labour and the Tories are equal on 38%. The News of the World apparently draws comparisons with a poll a couple of months back when Labour had a twelve point lead – different pollsters and the wide variety of ways this question is asked produce different answers. I can’t recall ICM showing the Conservatives catching Labour on the economy in recent years, but YouGov have often shown the parties neck and neck – we don’t really know what these figures are comparable to.
I’ll update once we find out details of the BPIX poll in the Mail on Sunday (or any other polls that surface).
UPDATE 1: Nothing about this Sunday’s polls yet, but this post on the Sky News blog reveals they have the first poll of Lib Dem members of their leadership campaign which will be released on the 2nd December (so a week tomorrow). Presumably this is the YouGov one that various people have reported being polled for.
UPDATE 2: The BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday has the Conservatives on 40%, down 1, and Labour on 35%, down 2. The Lib Dem figure isn’t available yet. While the Conservative’s are down, a one point shift isn’t significant in itself, its more consistent with broad picture we’ve been seeing in most polls lately of the Conservative vote having stabilised at around 40%. Labour at 35% is also consistent with the sort of support they’ve been recording in recent weeks…that is, doing better than in the two recent snap polls by YouGov and ICM. There is no drastic collapse in Labour support here.
Other questions in the poll are embarrassing for Labour, but probably don’t tell us much. Voting intention with Blair still in charge is CON 37%, LAB 37%… but this is probably just as unrealistic as the hypothetical polls from before Brown was leader, if Blair was still PM he’d probably have been tarnished by Northern Rock and the loss on benefit data which would have damaged him. The poll also suggested people think Brown is less competent than John Major and Alistair Darling a worse Chancellor than Norman Lamont.
Finally, BPIX found 46% of people were now opposed to ID cards, with 43% in favour.
UPDATE: 3An ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraoh doesn’t have voting intention figures either. The overall picture there is Labour suffering a drop, but not a disastrous one. Net approval ratings for Alistair Darling are down at minus 18, while Gordon Brown retained positive ratings as Chancellor until almost the end of his time there (to put the BPIX question about comparing Darling with Norman Lamont into context, there was an ICM poll in November 1992 where Lamont got a net rating of -57.)
ICM also asked the same question as Populus about whether people would trust Brown & Darling or Cameron & Osborne to deal with economic problems. While the trend is the same, it is less drastic – Brown/Darling remain ahead on 39% compared to Cameron/Osborne’s 32%. In the polls during the week I said it was the answer to this question that would be most damaging to Labour if it held true…it hasn’t.
Gordon Brown’s approval rating is almost unchanged from last month at minus 2 (compared to minus 1 last month), suggesting no drastic damage to his ratings either.
Apart from the Populus poll in the week, the overall picture in these latest polls seems to me that Labour are damaged by the disc affair, but really not fatally so. Judging by the polls the damage seems to be a lot less than you’d think from reading some of the commentary. Of course, it’s not other yet, the disc story was still running when these polls were taken, and was being accompanied by criticism of Labour’s defence policy and now the strange story in the Mail on Sunday about one of their major donors. So far though, I think the picture is looking less bad for them than everyone assumed and expected.
UPDATE 4: It’s worth noting that the ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph appears to have been carried out in the same set of fieldwork as the one for the Guardian in the week. This changes the picture slightly – we don’t have horrible YouGov and Populus polls for Labour, contradicted by two ICM polls showing less bad news for Labour and some poor results for the Tories. Instead we have horrible YouGov and Populus polls for Labour, and a single ICM poll showing a different picture. It could be that the ICM poll just happened, through the normal vagueries of random sample error, to get a sample that was more sympathetic to Brown and Darling – we shall see in the next lot of polls.