The full tables from ICM’s monthly poll are now on their website here. There are two questions that I don’t think were in the Guardian (though I think the first was mentioned in their leader): firstly, there is relatively little appetite for an immediate general election. Only 26% of people would like an election now, 24% later on this year, but 45% say leave it until 2010. As ever with questions like this, the people who most want an election are opposition supporters, but even then only 49% of Tories say they would like one now.

Secondly ICM asked whether Ken Clarke’s return to the front bench makes people more or less likely to vote Conservative. As I’ve said a thousand times before, I really don’t like questions like this, since you get lots of people already voting Tory saying it will make them more likely to do so, and lots of people who don’t vote Tory saying it makes them less so. In this case, it’s probably even less useful since if Clarke does have an positive electoral effect, it will be a vague contribution towards making the Conservative party image more experienced and less posh, rather than thousands of Clarke groupies immediately scampering off to vote Tory on the grounds of his frontbench presence. For the record though, ICM certainly didn’t find any significant Clarke effect on voters – 11% said his return made them more likely to vote Tory, but this was balanced by 10% who said it made them less likely to vote Tory.

35 Responses to “More from ICM’s Guardian poll”

  1. I’d like to see a poll on what people think of Brown’s ‘shadow shadow chancellor’ line he’s used in the past two PMQs. We’ve heard the ‘do nothing’ line a lot and it seems that isn’t having any effect. I assume Brown is trying to undermine Osborne, but to be honest, the shadow chancellor does a pretty good job of undermining himself and I get the feeling a lot of people would be happy if Clarke is having a say in Tory economic policy.

    Interesting to see the speaker is actually awake during PMQs, picking up Cameron for calling Brown ‘you’.

  2. One wonders what the ame question would have returned for Peter Mandelson.

  3. Pretty even split for DC/GO vs GB/AD

    Biggest grouping on Government policies is – “not making any real difference”

    Looks like a sense of resignation setting in -that it’s going to be bloody whoever is at the helm.

    In these circumstances will the electorate’s focus begin turn to post-recession matters?

    The IFS has just forecast that it may take 20 years , and £20bn extra fiscal tightening to return Public Finances to pre-crisis levels.

    If the economic arguments in the GE campaign centre around “How did it happen” and “How do we sort out the mess”, rather than “How do we get out of it”, I think Cameron will gain over Brown.

  4. If Ken Clarke became the leader of the Conservatives maybe THAT would change the voting both within the Conservatives and outside.

  5. I suspect if people think ‘how did we get into this mess’ then Labour will suffer, if they say ‘how do we get out of this’ it might to be a pretty even split, as no one really has a good plan. Massive structural change in the western economies seems the only long term way forward to me….

  6. I suggest that all discussions of the current polls have little relevance until we see the consequences of the Labour Lords scandal.

    It is possible that it will have no effect, though I think it is unlikely. However, it it more likely it will damage Labour, and unless the Labour party bribes the ignoble Lords to fall on their swords quickly, it will be a weeping sore on the Labour vote right up to the general election.

    My guess is that what appears to be totally unacceptable behaviour will persuade part of the “intellectual” wing of the Labour party to switch to the LibDems. Whether they stay there depends on whether they are prepared to use the Toynbee nosepeg (TM).

    LibDems up, Labour down, Tories ?

  7. @ Cynosarges – I suspect that the Labour peers scandal is probably most significant as part of a growing narrative of general Labour untrustworthiness across the board. It contributes further to the perception of a government on its last legs – much like the Major government in the run up to 1997, mired in accusations of sleaze, devoid of decent ideas, demoralised, hollowed out.

    I more or less agree with what Anthony says with regards Ken Clarke. I think his presence will have an effect not in any sudden personal appeal type way but rather more gradually through making the Tory front bench seem more heavyweight. I think this will only gradually filter through in the polls, as we see Ken Clarke more often in the media laying into the likes of Mandelson.

    I’m curious though – did any of the pollsters ask similar questions when Mandelson was appointed?

  8. With regard to the “shadow, shadow chancellor” line, I think Gordon Brown is whistling in the wind. Everyone (even George Osbourne probably) knows that is exactly what Ken Clarke is and nobody (except George Osbourne) cares. It is like Mark M said, Gordy is trying to undermine Osbourne, when Osbourne makes a great job of undermining himself. I believe that more people will be inclined to trust the Conservatives’ economic policy if they believe Ken Clarke is behind it than if they believe George Osbourne is behind it. Presumably not the effect the PM desires, but it is the one he will achieve.

  9. Neil – that hadn’t crossed my mind, but I suppose it does risk backfiring in the same way that old Conservative “Vote Blair, Get Brown” slogan did in 2005, when people read it and thought “Great! I’ll do that!”.

    That said, my impressions is that Brown is keeping it more as a line to wind up the Conservatives in the chamber rather than one for public consumption, so I expect it won’t enter the public consciousness at all.

  10. I think GB`s line of;
    (None of the problems we face now or in the future is down to the Government it is ALL down to global influence our hands are clean) is quite frankly insulting to the British public
    I do appreciate though that whoever was in power would be saying the same thing
    But this is now! Not the 80`s or the 90`s

    The Prime Minister has made so many statements over the past 18 months that have turned out to be incorrect ,at a time when you need a leader to straight with the nation

    I really do not see how we can have a shred of confidence in the Prime Minister anymore and I`m not sure how long he can last at this rate
    There maybe people who do not agree with this post but I am sure they would agree that we need someone with confidence at the whelm whatever party they may be!!


    The Scottish Budget has been voted down! What now?
    1. It succeeds at second attempt (which John Swinney says will be in the next few days)
    2. It fails again and Alex Salmond resigns (as he promised)
    3. It fails again and Alex Salmond does not resign (breaking his promise)

    If 2 happens there are 2 possibilities. Either the MSPs choose another First Minister within 28 days (most likely Nicola Sturgeon), or there will be another Scottish election.

    This is a very interesting situation, what do you all make of it? And what do you all think will be the results of a Scottish Election in the (unlikely) event that there will be one this April or May? And if that happens, what will be the effect on the European elections in June and on the opinion polls, in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

  12. Anthony,
    I think you may be wrong about the question of whether Clarke’s appointment will make people more or less likely to vote Conservative.

    I think in his case (though possibly not others) it could be the TORY voters who make up the majority of the 10% who say they will be less likely to vote Conservative. And also the majority of the 11% more likely to vote Conservative would be non-Conservatives.

    This is because he tends to be on the left of the party in Parliament, and thus way to the left of the voters. Also of course because of his position on Europe.

  13. Pete B – it wasn’t speculation, the figures are freely available :)

    There is a cross break by party in the tables, so you can see how it breaks down by parties. 17% of Tories said more likely, 5% less likely. 4% of Labour voters said more likely, 17% less likely.

  14. Pete B

    I think you could be right. Certainly at least partially.

  15. Apologies Anthony. I was too lazy to look at the detailed figures.

    I must say, I’m surprised, but it shows how careful one must be to avoid jumping to conclusions based on one’s own prejudices.

  16. If i had to guess I’d say we will get the budget though but we will need to up the fund for insulation to about £50m possibly £60m.

    If it comes to it and we can’t get it through then the next option is to say fine we will go on last years budget which isn’t, but it’s no our fault. That way by turning down £33m the greens get £0.

    If we ended with that we would have a £1.8 bn drop in spending (the difference between last years budget and next years), which i suppose would pay for the new Forth bridge.

    Next option we leave government and Labour takes over if they can but the Tories won’t back that and the Libdems might not either, so we don’t know if they can find a government or not.

    Last option we have an election probably in May and that’s where the polls come in. With luck we will see at least one poll this weekend and it will give some answers as to;

    Do the public want an election.
    Who will they blame if they have to have an election.
    What are current Scottish voting intentions.
    Who do they want for first Minister.

    The last full Scottish Poll was youGov in September which showed;

    Constituency / Regional

    Lab 26%/25%,
    Tory 13%/14%,
    LibDem 15%/14%,
    SNP 42%/35%,
    Other 4%/12%.

    Scotland votes converts that into;

    Lab 35 (-11),
    Tory 15 (-2),
    LibDem 16 (0),
    SNP 55 (+8),
    Green 3 (+1)
    SSP 3 (+3),
    Ind 1 (0),
    Others 0 (0).

    What a poll at the weekend will show is how events since September and the budget debate today have effective the votes.

    I am not sure if the LibDems are currently ahead of the Tories, I doubt the SSP will be as high as this poll and it will be interesting to see if the Greens get credit or abuse for blocking the budget.


  17. I would say that bringing Ken Clarke back was a complete waste of time – no reason to do so at all / the appeal of the Conservatives at the moment is the young new faces on their front bench – not Ken Clarke !

    The mention above of the Labour Peers possible corruption scandal won’t change the minds of most of the UK who already know that when the books are opened in 2010 – there will be a lot more juicier stuff to come out .

    I think the thing that will crush Labour finally now in the POLLS is more likely the findings of the IMF about the state of the British economy compared to other developed ecomonies – RIGHT AT THE BOTTOM. Yet Brown says nothing in PMQ’s today, but snipes at the Tories about “doing nothing” as if they are the ones that caused this and they are the ones running the country.

    As I have said before – Brown is sounding more and more like James Callaghan in his final days with the remark “crisis, what crisis” . It seesm that as the media quoted toady we are now in a worse recession than after the 2nd world war – the next forecast will be , it’s the worst since the great depression !!

  18. Mike, as a fellow tory, i think bringing back Kenneth Clarke has been a long time coming. His economical knowledge is invaluable, and i think he’s one of Britain’s best politicians never to have become PM. Maybe if it wasn’t for his views on Europe, he would’ve served as leader at one point. Mike, if you think youth is the way to go, name me one frontbench MP, with the exception of William Hague, David Cameron & Boris Johnson who is either a political heavyweight or has gravitas.

    I have thought up to now, there was still chance of a hung parliament, but with the IFS report, i think Labour have reached “point of no return”, Gordon Brown has clearly overspent, mismanaged the economy as Chancellor in his time, so he is partially to blame, and even more so now, as we are the least prepared for this recession.

    This is humiliating for Labour, and they really should call an election in May/June, because the outlook for this whole year, not the first six months like things will settle done, but this things gonna snowball out of control now. I really think the party should call an election to avoid – which could be the lowest point of this recession- mid-summer (June/July)- as nobody will be in any mood to spend money, with the early year retail sales being milked and Christmas far from sight.

    So, i wouldn’t be surprised if the Tories would be polling 47%/48% in the mid-summer and possibly beyond.

    I don’t think Scottish Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems would want to risk an election, especially Labour, there’s not enough enthusiasm for Labour to claw back and win in what would be a tight election. There also could be a worry of the finance aspect as there would be more than an handful of seat they could win, but they’d be clutching at straws to say they’d win fr definite. As for Scottish parliament pollings, i don’t think the Tories will be anywhere near 20% but perhaps level, or slightly ahead of the Lib Dems, maybe 16%

  19. Peter,

    Interesting post. I think that if you leave office Labour will be unable to take over and there will have to be an election. If the SNP cannot get a budget through with Conservative support, it is difficult to see how Labour could get one through without us. Furthermore, as you say, the LibDems might not even co-operate with them either. Also, I dont think the Scottish public would be too happy about having a mid-term switch to Labour rule without an election.

    In terms of what would happen at an election, I think the predictions from the September poll are a bit out. Of course I have no scientific basis for saying this, simply my political antennae. My guess would be that the SNP would gain seats, but not as many as 8. Perhaps 50(+3) – 52(+5) would be a realistic target for the SNP.

    I could also see the Conservatives gaining, although I do not think this year would be the best time for an election for us, next year would be better. I think we could manage 20(+3). I am confident of this, because my gut feeling is that Conservative support will be rising in Scotland, as elsewhere; only a bit slower.

    I cant see the LibDems making advances and I think they should be thankful to remain around 16. I am sure we agree Labour would be the main losers, though perhaps a knockdown to 35 is a bit optimistic. I would not be surprised to see Labour with about 40 seats (-6).

    I doubt the SSP will be able to make the gains you suggest. Last time the split in the party wiped them out, and I think they will be without an MSP for years to come. The Greens I would say are probably more likely to be -1 than +1, but I would keep them on 2 if I had to predict. Margo should cling onto her seat too.

    So my guess at the make-up of a new Scottish Parliament, if there was an election in May would be:
    SNP – 50 (+3)
    Labour – 40 (-6)
    Conservative – 20 (+3)
    LibDem – 16 (nc)
    Greens – 2 (nc)
    Independent – 1 (nc)

    (Your prediction leaves the parliament 1 MSP short)

    Of course I have been making very bold predictions (just rough ones) and saying things I cannot prove.

    What would the effect of such an election be (and I still believe that it will not happen) on:
    a) The European elections in June?
    b) Opinion polls throughout the country?
    c) Local elections in England (if any)?

  20. @ Mike “the oracle”

    I agree. I suspect that the latest IMF projections are BY FAR the most damaging news around at the moment, and this is more likely to cause current (and lasting?) damage to the government, damage from which I suspect it will not recover (barring new sensations)

    GB has always been making sure that he is heard stating that “thanks to our policies, Britain is better equiped to ride out this storm than anyone else.” He must welcome the latest news with anguish. This show that he and AD are so far wide of the mark of reality with their 1.25% downturn predictions.

    Furthermore, your mention of James Callaghan remark of “Crisis? What crisis?”… why am I reminded of “Chemical Ali”?

  21. …sorry, I meant “Comical Ali”

  22. Luckily the IFS are more than happy to repeat Labour’s four main goals for its fiscal policy

    -to avoid an unsustainable and potentially damaging rise in public sector debt;
    -to ensure that future taxpayers are not left to pay for spending that does not benefit them;
    -to avoid a bias against investment when public spending as a whole has to be squeezed;
    -to ‘support’ monetary policy in stabilising the economy and keeping inflation on target.

    1 & 2 are looking laughable already. Public sector debt (£700bn / 47.5% GDP) was higher at the end of December than at any point since 1978, the last time Labour was in power and its predicted that we won’t get back to pre-crisis levels of debt unitl 2030. Don’t forget, this debt figure is only going to get worse as the economy shrinks and debt rises. 3 hasn’t been tested yet because they haven’t squeezed spending and 4 worked in as much as they kept to an inflation target for most of the time. The only problem was that they were looking at the wrong inflation and the housing boom is causing all sorts of problems.

    These are the lines that I think are the most damaging to Labour. As a Friedmanite, I like to judge policies by their results and not what they promise.

  23. The latest statement by the IMF is another nail in the coffin of this administration and a stinging slap in the face of Brown.

    But it will get worse…

    The financial, industrial & employment data which has so far come out and the speed & acceleration of their downward trajectories suggest that the IMF’s prediction for a UK contraction of 2.8% during 2009 is probably way too conservative.

    This is why I feel the government is caught in a vortex where they daren’t go to the polls during 2009, with increasingly bad headlines, though to wait until 2010 will risk electoral annihilation.

    Obviously Labour’s problem is they must go to the country by May 2010. Brown is deluded thinking the UK will be a long way down the road to recovery by then. But that is what his strategy is based on.

    The question is how far do the polls have to fall before there is all out mutiny on the Labour backbenchers or will the PLP simply pray that the incredibly longshot Brown gamble will work.

    Either way his goose is cooked.

  24. Mark M

    Robert Chote , on TV, was at pains to point up the significance of forward interest rates.

    If you look at the tables in the IFS Green Budget, with long term government financing costs of around 4%pa, Net Government Debt returns to 40% of GDP by 2030-though more fiscal tightening than in PBR will be needed.
    If interest rates return to 7%, Net Government debt continues to rise above & beyond 90% GDP ( without very significant fiscal tightening) , and Government Debt Financing doubles to 6% of GDP.

    Any sign of returning inflation would be a disaster, and would finish Brown off .

    I do not understand why Brown hasn’t implemented real & significant infrastructure spending.

    The Obama package is heavily weighted that way-though there is criticism that it’s main impact will take two years or so.
    The news that UK PFI projects on schools etc are being stalled by the credit crunch, demonstrates how much our economy has been built on credit & the Finance Sector.

  25. IMF forecasting has a reputation for being completely worthless.

  26. @Alex – that’s true. However who will be more believed partisan Brown or the IMF?

    Also Brown/Darling’s forecasting has been utterly laughable.

  27. @ COLIN: “Looks like a sense of resignation setting in – that it’s going to be bloody whoever is at the helm.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Doesn’t seem to be much fight in anyone apart from inside the parliamentary chambers.

    And good to see threads getting less partisan again.

    Oh . . . “I really do not see how we can have a shred of confidence in the Prime Minister anymore and I`m not sure how long he can last at this rate” . . . . .

  28. Mathew Taylor had an interesting, & very simple take on the Polls, on The Daily Politics today :-

    We have returned to the status quo after a blip last autumn when the public thought Bank Bailout 1 would sort the recession out .

    They now know it didn’t & blame the Government.

    This is very unlikely to change because no significant recovery-particularly employment-will take place before the last date for a GE.

    Also-Brown has difficulty “communicating” with sections of the public, and is unable to admit errors ( No more Boom & Bust-&-Best placed to weather the downturn)

  29. @MIKE ORACLE: “As I have said before – Brown is sounding more and more like James Callaghan in his final days with the remark “crisis, what crisis”.”

    As I’m sure others will point out, Sunny Jim never said “crisis, what crisis”. That was a Sun newspaper headline. Callagham actually said: “I don’t think other people in the world would share the view [that] there is mounting chaos”.

    Apropos of nothing, just seen Brown on TV talking about the digital society. He seems to be having news conferences on a daily basis – any views as to whether this devalues his currency or turns him into the recession’s master of the universe?

  30. “I really do not see how we can have a shred of confidence in the Prime Minister anymore and I`m not sure how long he can last at this rate”

    Such sentiment is sounding less and less partisan as things go from bad to worse don’t you think?

  31. Brown should stop talking on TV because :-

    a) He is somewhat unpopular.
    b)His credibility is poor.

    He should go into purdah & not come out until he has some measurable, credible, independently attested achievement to tell us about.

  32. What’s the current state of the Labour party finances?

    Last year, there were questions raised (I don’t know how seriously) as to whether the auditors would refuse to sign off their accounts. If the SNP force a Scottish election, will the Labour party be able to fight it, the Euro elections, local elections and a general election within 18 months? And if not, what will give?

  33. I think Labour have sorted their own finances out a little since then. It is true that they were on the verge of going to the unions with begging bowls for more funds, which would have been disasterous for the country as government policy would become even more trade unionist. However, I dont think they are in such a bad way any more.

    In terms of fighting elections, Labour will pretty much always have the funds because they can go to the trade unions if they are a bit short.

  34. Some psyche 101 off topic and not partisan (I hope): –

    We usually use insults for other people which we feel will hurt them most, but this is based on our own opinion of what would hurt us.

    For example people call others fat who themselves have either low self esteem or are fat.

    It makes PMQ’s more interesting for both parties

    Maybe Gordon is scared that doing nothing is the thing percieved oppinion of himself?

    David could be worried about people linking past economic failures to him and his team?

    Please take this further, the method work (simple as it is). Maybe it’s something worth exploiting in the months ahead. I wonder if the electorate will catch on.

  35. Osbak
    You obviously have become the self imposed regulator of who is partisan and who is not depending on your own view point

    “I really do no see how we can have a shread of confidence in the Prime Minister anymore and i`m not sure how long he can last at this rate”

    You fail to mention the largely unpartisan thread of the post just picking out one sentence is something I would expect from GB and DC at PMQ`s

    I was merely expressing lack of confidence in the PM which has been with us for sometime even in his own ranks That is not good for the country as a whole at this time and has been brought to our attention through a most of the polls over the last 14 months or so

    Check out Labour home it will keep you busy ticking off the partisan posters there!! (just kidding Osbak dont go there)