The ICM/Guardian poll today has topline figures of CON 41%(+1), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 7%(-1). Fieldwork was Friday-Sunday, and changes are from ICM’s poll before the Labour conference. As with the polls at the weekend, there’s no significant change here. Theresa May’s conference speech obviously didn’t go as she would have hoped, but it doesn’t really appear to have changed levels of support: 17% of people told ICM her speech had improved their perception of her (mostly Tories who probably liked her anyway), 17% told ICM her speech had damaged their perceptions of her (mostly Labour supporters who probably didn’t like her anyway). Most said it made no difference.

ICM also asked about possible alternative leaders to Theresa May, underlining one of the problems the Conservatives have – in every named case (Johnson, Rudd, Hammond, Rees-Mogg, Patel and Green) people thought they would do worse than Theresa May would at the general election. The only person who the public thought would do better than May was a generic “someone quite young and able who is not currently in government”… which, of course, is a recipe for respondents to imagine an ideal candidate who may very well not exist, especially not among the select group of people with a reasonable chance of winning the leadership of the Conservative party.

Full tabs are here


So far we’ve had three polls conducted since the end of conference speech – YouGov in Friday’s Times, Opinium in today’s Observer and ICM in the Sun on Sunday. The first two included voting intention figures.

The YouGov/Times poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday after Theresa May’s conference speech. Topline figures there were CON 40%(+1), LAB 42%(-1), LDEM 7%(nc) and changes are from immediately before the Labour conference. Tabs are here.

The Opinium poll for the Observer was conducted between Wednesday and Friday (so once again, after Theresa May’s speech) and had topline figures of CON 40%(-2), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 5%(-1). Changes are from just before the Labour party conference began. Tabs are here.

The two polls show identical two point leads for the Labour party, suggesting that Theresa May’s disastrous leader’s speech hasn’t radically changed levels of party support (the changes since the previous polls are in opposite directions, but neither are statistically significant, so I expect we’re just seeing noise there). Perceptions of the Prime Minister herself may be a different matter, though the public do still seem to be divided on her future.

Opinium did pick up a fall in Theresa May’s own ratings, with her net approval down to minus 16 compared to minus 11 before the conference season. Jeremy Corbyn’s figures were up, from minus 10 before conference to minus 5 now. Theresa May had a three point lead over Jeremy Corbyn on preferred Prime Minister.

YouGov asked about the future of Theresa May as Tory leader and found the public split down the middle – 39% think she should stay, 38% think she should go. As ever, answers like this fall out along very partisan lines – 68% of Tory voters think she should stay, 55% of Labour voters think she should go. Her ratings are mediocre across the board though, her lead over Jeremy Corbyn as best PM has shrunk to only three poonts (36% to 33% – 32% of people said don’t know, suggesting a fairly large chunk of people aren’t enthused by either of them.) 59% of people now think she is doing badly as PM, 31% still think she is doing well.

A third poll by ICM for the Sun on Sunday doesn’t appear to have voting intention figures (or at least, I haven’t seen them yet), but did ask what people thought Theresa May should do now. 29% wanted her to just continue as she is, 32% wanted her to confront her party opponents (18% by having a big reshuffle, 14% by making a “back me or sack me” demand), 13% want her to go immediately, 13% want her to name a future date when she will go.

There was also a BMG poll in the Independent today, but the fieldwork was conducted prior to the Conservative conference. Figures in the newspaper were CON 37%(-2), LAB 42%(+4).


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After becoming Conservative leader in 1997 William Hague oversaw a review of the party’s leadership rules. As everyone interested in politics knows the main part of this was to give ordinary party members a vote – Conservative MPs would still get to whittle down the field of candidates to two, but ordinary party members would then pick the final winner (in theory at least, in 2016 that final choice was dodged by Andrea Leadsom standing down).

The other major change introduced by Hague seems to have seeped less well into the consciousness of the Westminster village. You still see the press talking about “stalking horse” candidates sometimes, or talk about such-and-such mounting a challenge against the leader, echoing back to the old rules when people like Thatcher in 1975 and Heseltine in 1990 could directly stand against the incumbent leader. Such a race is no longer possible. Grant Shapps this morning called for Theresa May to call a leadership election. Again, she can’t really do that, or at least, not in the way John Major did in 1995 when he called an election and stood himself. The current rules state that if a contest is caused by the resignation of the incumbent leader then that outgoing leader can’t stand as a candidate. In short, the only way Theresa May could call a leadership election is by resigning and going away.

Under the current rules a Conservative leader cannot face a leadership “challenge”. Instead the way of removing a leader is through a vote of confidence by Conservative MPs, triggered by 15% (currently 48) of Conservative MPs writing to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee saying they would like one. The incumbent leader does not face a challenger or challengers in such a vote, it is a straight Yes or No to whether they should continue in office. If the leader loses the vote, then they cease to be leader and an election for a replacement begins in which the ousted leader is not eligible to stand.

The 48 letters do not need to be organised together, or indeed sent at the same time. They can be a collection of dribs and drabs sent over weeks or months. Right now Grant Shapps appears to be organising (or is, at least, the public face of) those Tory MPs who wish May to go, but there is no requirement in the rules for a “challenger” as such.

Full rules are actually quite hard to find – while the party constitution has some details of the election procedure, the rules for ousting a leader are in a seperate document from the 1922 committee. A full set of the rules is, however, on Tom Quinn’s website here.


Yesterday’s Observer had a new YouGov poll of London, commissioned by Queen Mary University London. Full tables for the poll are here.

Labour performed very strongly in London at the general election this year. There was six point swing to Labour compared to a two pooint swing in Britain as a whole, presumably related to London being younger and more pro-European than the rest of England. The first post-election poll of London shows Labour holding on to that dominant position – topline figures with changes since the general election are CON 30%(-3), LAB 55%(nc), LDEM 8%(-1).

Sadiq Khan also continues to enjoy strong support. 58% of Londoners think he is doing well as mayor, and asked a comparative question he rates more positively than either of his predecessors. 58% think Khan is doing a good good, compared to 47% who thought Ken Livingstone did and 46% who think Boris Johnson did.

The poll also asked about TfL declining Uber’s application for a licence renewal. When this was first announced there was a very negative reaction on social media… but of course, that over-represents exactly the sort of people who regularly use Uber. The poll finds that people who regularly use Uber do indeed think it was the wrong decision (by 63% to 27%)… but the majority of Londoners use Uber rarely or never and they approve of the decision. Overall 43% of people think it was right to take away Uber’s licence, 31% think it was wrong. Even among those regular Uber users there’s no obvious sign of a backlash against Khan or Labour. 66% of them still say Khan is doing a good job, 63% say they would vote Labour in an election tomorrow. Personally I’d be extremely surprised if the whole thing didn’t end up with a compromise between TfL and Uber allowing them to renew their licence, but for the moment the polling suggests that the public back Sadiq Khan on the issue.