The Populus monthly poll for the Times, bumped by a day because of economic news, has topline figures with changes from their last poll, back at the tail end of August before the conference season, of CON 45%(+2) LAB 30%(+3) LDEM 15%(-3).

A mixture of their conference and their handling seem to have pushed Labour back up to around 30% in recent polls, but in this poll at least their is also a boost in Conservative support which means the Tory lead almost unchanged from the last Populus poll. Such was the overshadowing of the Conservative conference by the economic crisis that by the time this poll was conducted their publicity boost from conference may have already been and gone, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks to be sure. Meanwhile the poor old Lib Dems seem to have been squeezed following their brief conference boost – ICM last week gave them their second lowest score of Clegg’s leadership, this poll is the lowest score Populus have given them under Clegg.

In other questions Gordon Brown is enjoying a boost to his reputation, his average rating out of ten is up to 4.38 from the dire 3.9 he sank to in June. David Cameron still outranks him on most measures though – he is regarded as being ahead on “good judgement” (40% to 36%), character (50% to 32%) and – rather self-evidently since what would Brown be a change from – representing change (60% to 22%). Again rather obviously Gordon Brown is seen as more experienced (77% to 11%). Cameron and Osborne continue to be more trusted on the economy than Brown and Darling by 38% to 31%.

The worst news for the government is that, despite the economic problems, people continue to look for change rather than experience. 65% still agree it is “time for a change”. As I’ve said before, this is an incredibly strong public narrative, the sea change in public opinion that sweeps government from office. The economic situation means that the government do at least have something they can throw against it – that it’s no time to risk a novice government – but that desire for change is a powerful trend to resist.

Sunday’s News of the World carries a new ICM poll of 192 Labour held marginal constituencies where the Conservatives are in second place. The poll shows a swing of 11.5% in these seats, which according to ICM would equate to 164 Conservative gains and a majority of 78 seats. ICM did a similar poll back in April, and found a 9% swing in these seats – though they are not directly comparable since that poll covered only 145 seats.

Theoretically if there was an 11.5% swing across the whole country it would equate to a 20 point Conservative lead in the polls, though it is more likely that there is just a larger swing in these seats (we know, for example, from the PoliticsHome poll of different groups of marginal seats that there is a lower Labour to Conservative swing in Liberal Democrat seats) so in reality we can’t extrapolate a national vote share from this poll.

Back in April ICM asked people in Lab/Con marginal seats to say whether people rated Cameron or Brown more highly on various things: the only issue where Brown lead was dealing with the credit crunch. They gave the same list of things today, and nothing has changed. People in these marginal seats still trust Gordon Brown more than David Cameron to deal with the credit crunch by a margin of 43% to 35%. Unfortunately for Brown, they still rate David Cameron more highly everywhere else: on dealing with the rising cost of living, setting taxes, fighting terrorism, moderning the NHS, schools, immigration and generally being Prime Minister.

There was, however, strong support for Gordon Brown remaining Prime Minister for now. 58% wanted him to carry on, with only 36% saying he should step down. Amongst Labour supporters in these seats only 15% now want him to go.

ICM also asked about some of the policies that were announced at the party conferences, without identifying them with any particular party. The Conservative pledge to freeze council tax for two years was supported by 71% of people in these seats, the Labour promise to extend subsidized child care to two year olds was supported by 62%, and the Liberal Democrat promise to cut the rate of income tax but cutting spending by £20 billion was supported by 51%.


There is a new YouGov poll in tomorrow’s Telegraph, which shows a respectable boost for the Conservatives following their conference. Topline voting intentions, with changes from the poll taken after the Labour conference, of CON 45%(+4), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 15%(-1). It shows a reasonable boost in Conservative support, but unlike ICM’s poll no fading of Labour’s conference boost yet. The poor old Lib Dems have seen their conference boost from a fortnight ago entirely vanish. The fieldwork was condcted between the 1st and 3rd of October, though as always with YouGov’s polls, the large majority of responses would probably have been received on the first day.

The whole conference effect may not have played through yet – David Cameron’s received better coverage in the press the day after his speech than from the broadcasters on the day, so may not have peaked in these polls; equally like the Lib Dem boost any Labour or Conservative boost may fade in the coming days. From these first two early polls from ICM and YouGov though, the overall effect of the conference season and the economic crisis that co-incided with it seems to have been a small recovery for Labour. The Conservatives still have a large, election winning lead – but Labour may have pulled themselves out of the hopeless 20 plus defecits we saw in the summer.

Since the YouGov poll I thought might have surfaced yesterday didn’t, the first post-Conservative conference poll is in fact from from ICM in the Guardian, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday (presumably the fieldwork began after Cameron’s speech, though the Guardian are not specific about it).

The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s poll a week ago, are CON 42%(+1), LAB 30%(-2), LDEM 17%(-1). There is obviously no significant boost in the Conservative score here from their rather overshadowed conference, but their lead in ICM’s poll has moved back up into double figures as Labour’s own conference boost subsides.

ICM also found that 55% of people thought that Gordon Brown was handling the present economic situation well, compared to 39% saying he has performed badly. This does suggest he is coming out of the present crisis well, though not well enough to actually lead in economic preferences – Cameron and Osborne still narrowly lead Brown and Darling as the best team, 37% to 35%.

If the timings are the same as after Gordon Brown’s speech we should expect YouGov’s post-Cameron speech poll to turn up later on tonight. I’m at a planning meeting this evening, so feel free to post the figures here if they are published tonight (I’m afraid I don’t now if there are any or not).

For some context, the YouGov poll taken immediately after Gordon Brown’s speech had figures of CON 41%, LAB 31%, LDEM 16%, which represented a boost of 7 points in Labour’s support. Given the overshadowing of their conference and their higher starting point, I’d be very surprised if the Conservatives matched that sort of boost. YouGov’s post Lib Dem poll showed them enjoying what proved to be a very shorted lived bounce of 4 points, finally their poll from before the conference season (and before the collapse of Lehman Brothers), which I suppose we should draw conclusions from once all the dust has settled showed figures of CON 46%, LAB 27%, LDEM 16%.