ComRes have a new poll in the Independent tomorrow. The topline figures, with changes from the last ComRes poll, are CON 40%(-1), LAB 28%(-2), LDEM 18%(+1).

Labour are lower than in other recent polls, but we’re seeing roughly the same gap between the Conservative and Labour as we have in all other recent polls. Interestingly support for “others” is at a relatively high 14%, though ComRes do often weight people who voted “other” in 2005 to a higher level than the other phone pollsters, and often show higher support for them in their topline figures. For the record the breakdown for the others here is Green 3%, SNP 3%, BNP 2%, Plaid 1% and UKIP 1%.

While I’m here, this morning’s Telegraph had some more details held over from last week’s YouGov poll, dealing with the issue of MP’s expenses. Not surprisingly public opinion towards them was extremely hostile. 68% of respondents thought that MPs salary and allowances scheme was too generous, with 23% thinking it was about right and a paltry 4% thinking they should be given more. Over three-quarters of people thought the second home allowance should be reduced or abolished (comprising 32% who wanted to see it reduced and 46% who wanted it abolished altogether).

Asked how much abuse went on, respondents thought “gross abuse” of the expenses system was common amongst MPs – though most thought there were some straight MPs! 13% thought more than 600 of the 646 MPs were grossly abusing the system, 55% thought more than 200 were. Only 10% thought less than 50 were.

Asked about possible solutions, 33% said they it would be better if there were less allowances and MPs were instead given a higher salary. 56% said it would be better if there was no salary increase, and expenses were checked more thoroughly. 12% said don’t know, and I expect had the option been given to just stop giving MPs lots of their expenses it would be been a preferred option!

There is an ICM poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s most recent poll, are CON 44%(+2), LAB 31%(+1), LDEM 18%(-2). The poll was conducted between the 25th and 26th March.

It’s a very slight increase in the Conservative lead, but none of the changes are really significant. Realistically speaking, this is just another poll showing a pretty stable position. For the record though, since ICM tend to give the Conservatives some of their lower scores this actually equals their third highest rating from the company.

Still, for those getting rather bored with the voting intention figures, we can look ahead to several potentially significant events – many commentators have suggested Gordon Brown is putting great weight in the G20 summit this week to give his premiership a boost, beyond that is the budget, which could work either way, and past that we have the local and european elections, which often lead to realignments in the national opinion polls.

ICM also asked about inheritance tax, revealing an even split amongst the public. 48% agreed that increasing the inheritance tax allowance should be a priority for the next government, 48% disagreed. Amongst Conservative voters 59% said it should be a priority.


ICM have carried out a poll for the BBC in connection with Evan Harris’s current Private Members Bill, which would put men and women on equal footing in succession to the crown and would remove the current laws that prevent the crown passing to anyone married to a Catholic (though not the laws preventing a Catholic succeeding to the throne themselves).

81% of respondents thought that an heir to the throne should be able to marry a Catholic and still become monarch, with 15% disagreeing. 89% would support women and men being treated equally in the succession.

On the broader issue of the monarchy, 76% of people said they would like the monarchy to continue after the present Queen, while 18% said they would prefer a Republic.

Firstly, from reading the Telegraph’s headline you might have expected to find the public slavering after swinging cuts in public spending. Only 15% of people think spending should be maintained at its present levels or cut. Look at the actual question though, it doesn’t suggest the public are ready to swallow harsh cuts.

A significant majority – 68% – did back cuts, but only 9% went for the more radical option offered of “cutting spending significantly, and hand over the financing and running of some public services to the private sector”. The vast majority of those backing spending cuts went for the option of “cut spending on administration, but make sure spending on all front-line services such as health, education and the police is maintained.” We shouldn’t be hugely surprised that 59% of people want to have their cake and eat it.

In reality politicians of all parties always promise to cut waste and administration in office and spend the money on frontline services or tax cuts, depending on their bent. Polls also invariably show that the public do indeed accept the premise that there are bucketloads of wasteful government spending that could be cut without affecting frontline services. Whether there is any political capital in promising to do so, or basing spending or taxation decisions upon an intention to do so is a different matter.

Anyway, moving onto the rest of the the figures, while the topline voting intentions figures in the Telegraph today were static, the underlying figures showed a continuing shift towards the Conservatives. Their position on issues is now similar to their position at the end of last summer when they enjoyed a much larger lead in voting intentions (The Conservatives are ahead by 20 on law and order, 24 on immigration, 7 on education, 10 on tax, 4 on unemployment (traditionally a “Labour issue”), 8 on the economy. The sole issue where Labour still lead on the NHS – and that only by an insignificant 1 point.)

Cameron’s lead as Best PM has crept up to 11 points from 8 points a month ago, his approval rating is up to plus 21. The tide still appears to be flowing in the Conservatives direction, but it isn’t reflected in the topline voting intention figures.

It is possible that this is because their is a counter-pressure in the opposite direction: people are becoming more optimistic about the economy again. We saw it very clearly in MORI’s monthly poll. The increase in optimism in YouGov’s poll is much smaller, but the trend is in the same direction. Only 14% of people expect things to get better in the next 12 months, with 54% thinking it will get worse…horrible figures, but up from last month and the month before. 2% of people think the government’s actions are working now, 13% think they will start to work soon, 28% think they will work, but not for some time.

YouGov also asked people what they thought the rate of income tax should be on incomes over £150,000. 73% of people wanted to see an increase, with 43% saying they favoured the proposed 45p rate and 30% saying they favoured a higher rate than that. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise – polls have consistently shown that the majority of the public favour a higher rate of taxation on people they perceive as very rich… getting other people to shoulder the tax burden enjoys perennial popularity.

No change from YouGov

YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph shows no change at all since their last poll – support remains at CON 41%(nc), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 17%(nc).

As a whole the polls really are looking very static; after a period of volatility things seem to have settled down to a Tory lead of between 10 and 12 points (which is, incidentally, almost exactly the lead they would need to get an overall majority on an uniform swing from 2005).