What I assume is the first post-Lib Dem conference poll (the dates aren’t available, but YouGov normally have a fast turnaround) shows a healthy boost for the party. The topline figures in the YouGov poll, with changes from their last poll before the conference season began are CON 44%(-2), LAB 24%(-3), LDEM 20%(+4).

It’s more impressive for the Lib Dems since YouGov normally give them the lowest score of any pollster: this is the highest score that YouGov have given them since all the way back in 2005. It’s intriguing to think that if this poll had been carried out by ICM or Populus would could potentially have seen Labour and the Lib Dems neck-and-neck. Of course, it is just a conference boost, so it it remains to be sen how things pan out once Labour and the Conservatives have had their own moment in the spotlight.

The Independent today reports the results of a poll of Labour party members and supporters by Labourhome.org suggesting even a majority of Labour party members would rather Gordon Brown went. Polling party members is hard – they are hard to get hold of, hard to know how to weight them and, unless there are election results to compare to, hard to know if they are any good or not.

Obviously polls like this do pose a risk of any old person pretending to be a party member to skew the results, or getting a very skewed group of activists, but the polls of Conservative party members done by Tim Montgomerie over on ConservativeHome did get their leadership election right, so we do at least have a precedent for a website running polls of party members in this way and getting good results. Besides, until a polling company with a track record of polling party members carries one out, it’s the best we’ve got. So with that caveat, what were the findings?

57% of respondents to LabourHome’s poll wanted a vote at the Labour party conference on whether or not there should be a leadership election. 45% of respondents thought that a change of leader would improve Labour’s prospects at the next election, with 28% fearing it would make things even worse. 46% said they would like Gordon Brown to lead Labour into the next general election, but a majority (54%) wanted to see someone else.

Were Gordon Brown to go, the front runners amongst party members and supporters (sadly not differentiated) were unsurprisingly David Miliband on 25%, but after that Alan Johnson on 18% and Jon Cruddas on 11%. Jack Straw was on 10%, James Purnell way down on just 3%.

Meanwhile on policy, 71% supported a windfall tax on energy companies, an overwhelming 86% supported higher taxes on people earning over £250k. On how money raised from tax rises should be spent though respondents were pretty evenly divided, with 48% saying it should go on tax cuts for people on lower incomes and 52% saying it should be spent on public services.


The full results of Ipsos MORI’s latest poll are now available here. We’ve all seen the topline figures by now.

Approval ratings remain pretty much the same – there has been no further slump in government or Brown’s ratings (in fact Brown’s dire net rating of minus 45 is the best he’s had for a couple of months), not any real change in Nick Clegg’s rating. There is even some sympathy for Brown – asked if he is “doing a reasonable job in difficult circumstances” 51% of people agreed.

The most interesting and unusual questions in the survey were a series of open ended questions asking people to say in their own words what they liked or disliked about David Cameron and Gordon Brown. Only 45% of people could find anything at all positive to say about Brown, and the most common positive was his experience – cited by 10% of people, followed by sound judgement (5%), honesty, being a family man, being a strong leader or statesman or his personality, all named by 4% of people.

On the negative front, 79% of people found something to say. The most common criticisms were that he is untrustworthy (13%), indecisive and dithering (12%), being a poor leader (10%), doesn’t keep his promises (7%), don’t like his style (7%), incompetence (6%) and being out of touch (6%). 5% said they disliked everything about him.

Turning to David Cameron, 60% of people managed to think of something positive about him. These were mainly his youth and personality (both cited by 9%), being a family man, ordinary and in touch and being a good speaker (all 8%), being a modern fresh view, offering a change (7%), his image (6%) and being a good leader or a kind and caring man (both 5%).

Turning to Cameron’s negatives, 57% of people found something to criticise. As with Gordon Brown, the most common criticism was that he was untrustworthy (9%), followed by his image, making promises he can’t keep and his “poshness” – all mentioned by 5% of people. After that, 4% thought he was smarmy, 4% pompous and 4% indecisive.

There is nothing particularly surprising in the figures – the images are largely those we would expect (Gordon Brown is seen as an experienced, solid, decent figure… who has made a poor, indecisive leader who people don’t trust and think is incompetent and out of touch. David Cameron is seen as a young, fresh, modern family man… but one who is a bit smarmy and posh) it is always valuable though to have proper open ended questions to get real views, rather than those the fit into the boxes the interviewer offers.

No confirmation yet, so take this with a shovel-load of salt, but a rumour has just reached me of a MORI poll tomorrow showing the Conservatives at 52%, Labour at 24% and the Lib Dems at 12%. Seriously, I’ve no idea of the provenance of this and have no idea how trustworthy it is, so treat it with due scepticism.

UPDATE: Mike Smithson has had it confirmed by MORI that there is a poll, and it will be released by the PA at midnight. They would not confirm or deny the figures though…

UPDATE 2: Now seems to be true. Mike Smithson says he’s got the figures from a journalist who has seen the embargoed press release and Nick Palmer reports being phoned up by ITN looking for a reaction to the poll. Assuming the figures are true the changes from MORI’s last poll are CON 52%(+4), LAB 24%(nc), LDEM 12%(-4). The poll was conducted between the 12th and 14th of September, so after Siobhain McDonagh broke ranks, but prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers: this might be a reaction to Labour’s leadership troubles, but the new economic crisis had not yet hit.

The raw changes from MORI’s last poll are, of course, somewhat odd. One might expect the Conseratives to benefit from Labour collapsing into disarray, but this instead shows the Lib Dems slumping. There is no obvious reason for this, so even if the figures I’ve heard are accurate (and it now seems they are) I still think the poll might be a freak result. Still, that won’t stop it becoming part of the ever growing narrative about the Labour party in crisis, and in that sense this is horrific, hideous news for Labour.

Populus’s annual conference poll, in which they include questions they can publish before each of the three conferences, is one of the few times we can guarantee to get some questions asked about the Liberal Democrats. This year is no different.

On one front the poll has good news for them. It reveals a very positive party image, more people see them as caring than the other two parties, more people see them understanding the way people live their lives, being honest and principled and sharing people’s values. On other measures like being united, having a good team of leaders and being competent they trail behind the Conservatives, but are ahead of Labour.

Less good, and one reason why the positive image doesn’t translate into more votes, is that 65% of people agreed with the statement that “It doesn’t make any difference what policies the Lib Dems put forward because they have no realistic chance of ever putting them into practice, so ultimately they’ll always be just a protest vote party at national level.”. This included 37% of Lib Dem voters. 32% of people thought that “really strong distinctive policies on important issues, it will have a chance of making a big advance by gaining more MPs at the next election, because neither of the other parties is particularly appealing to most people”.

In considering why such positive perceptions of party aren’t currently translating into more support in the polls, it’s also worth looking back a bit into the past. While these are good figures and in many cases show a large positive shift when compared to the results of the same survey a year ago (particularly in being seen as honest & principled, caring about ordinary people and understanding the way people live their lives) in most cases they are still below the figures the Lib Dems recorded back in 2005 at the end of the Charles Kennedy era – 34% think they have a good team of leaders now, but 52% did in 2005; 50% think they are united now, but 71% did in 2005; 37% think they are competent now, but 46% did in 2005. The Lib Dems have a positive image, but not as positive as it was at the last election.