The ICM poll we’ve been waiting for these last few days has finally turned up in the Guardian. The topline figures, with changes from their last poll a week ago, are CON 45%(+3), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 18%(-1). It was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, so this is the first voting intention poll conducted after the full press coverage of the pre-budget report.

It shows an increase in Conservative support and a small drop in Labour, though as ever no single point shift is significant. While this is only a single poll, it is the first poll to show any significant trend away from Labour and back to the Tories for a while. While ICM have been showing the largest Tory leads in recent months, this is still their largest lead since August. As a note of caution though, this poll was conducted at the exactly the point when the media was full of negative coverage about the PBR and secret plans to raise VAT to 18%. Not only is this a single poll that is yet to be corroberated by other companies, we also can’t yet tell if it’s a real shift in opinion, or just reflecting bad publicity for the government at the time it was taken.

Looking at the other questions in the poll, 50% said they approved of the measures in the PBR, with 41% disapproving. Brown and Darling also have a 9 point lead on being the best team on the economy, backed by 46% compared to 37% for Cameron and Darling. The weak point for the government appears to be borrowing. 74% agreed that it was important to “keep borrowing under control so as not to store up problems later”, compared to only 22% who chose the option that “it was important to boost the economy now, even if it means more borrowing and taxes later”.

On the question of whether it is time for a change from Labour, 58% agreed, with 35% disagreeing.

55 Responses to “Conservatives gain in ICM’s post-PBR poll”

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  1. I’m afraid I have to agree with previous comments saying that the Damien Green affair won’t have much effect on the polls, although everybody who understands politics is appalled (even Labour ministers don’t seem to have their heart in defending what has been done in relation to parliamentary privilege). On the day after the arrest, BBC television’s South East news showed people in Green’s Ashford constituency who didn’t even know what had happened or didn’t really care.

    In relation to the tax changes, the VAT reduction has given shops an immediate excuse for publicising offers. But most people know that shops price to round figures, or to ones set for marketing purposes, e.g. x.99p. A 2.5% reduction in VAT will not alter these prices. In addition, people are not so stupid that they are attracted by tax reductions which are already announced as leading to bigger tax increases later. For both these reasons, I am not surprised that the recent budget changes do not appear to have led to major changes in voting intentions, specifically in that they are not a big vote winner for Labour.

  2. you have short memorys in the uk i lived there under thatcher and major the torys screwed your country . have you forgotton the poll tax an the like huge unemployment . come on england the torys are terrible get your memory back please england .labour are far better than the last tory govenment .

  3. Bernard. The past is history; you can not assume that what applied then applies now. People, policies and new events make an assumption that politics will replay the same way fundamentally logically unsound. Otherwise we would be enmeshed in the policies of, say 1920, when Labour first got serious…

  4. Bernard,

    I have a longer memory than that. I can remember the mess that Wilson, Callaghan and Healey made in the seventies, which Thatcher promised to clear up – and which she did, restoring British pride around the world.

    One aspect of the remedy that is oft repeated is the unemployment which ensued from the closure of many industries – industries which had been uneconomic for years and which were bleeding the exchequer dry – just as such a large part of our public sector does today.

    A policy of putting off the pain may sound reassuring in the short-term, but it does not work in the long term. The experience of this country is that pain deferred is pain ultimately increased, and spread more widely.

    Major’s government lost its reputation on a single day in 1992 for having pursued a policy which proved not to be in the country’s best interest. That policy was supported by both Labour and the Liberals, the main difference between the Government and the opposition at the time being that the opposition parties wanted Britain to go further and join EMU. In the years from 1993-1997 the Tories restored the ecomomy and the public fiannces to the strongest they had been since before the first world war, but they got no thanks for it. A clear case of doing what is right rather than popular not producing support in polls.

    Perhaps Britain (not just England) does need to refresh its memory, but if it did, then it may not deliver the verdict you expect !

  5. So this is where the hype starts, Polls should be banned! Ask 20 people in a street and apparently the whole country agrees…what a load of rubbish these polls are. I’m going to make sure these polls are banned as it does not reflect the true consensus of the people of this country and are used for political posture. Polls suck!

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