ComRes’s monthly poll for the Independent has topline figures, with changes from their last poll, of CON 44%(+3), LAB 28%(+3), LDEM 17%(-5). The poll was conducted between February 27th and March 1st.

The previous ComRes poll had showed a sudden and inexplicable leap in Lib Dem support which rose 6 points. As with ICM, which showed a similar increase and decrease, this poll shows them slumping back down again. As I said when ICM put their last poll out, it’s theoretically possible that the Lib Dems enjoyed a genuine, but extremely short lived, blip in support – but my guess it that those ICM and ComRes polls showing 6 point leaps in their support were just freak results and really we have a pretty static position.

Meanwhile the Conservatives retain a 16 point lead in the polls. This is the first poll since the tragic death of Ivan Cameron and I thought we might see an articial leap in Conservative support or, more likely, in David Cameron’s personal ratings as respondents wanted to be charitable towards a man going through such personal trauma and sadness. In terms of headline voting intention at least, there is no obvious sign of it.

80 Responses to “ComRes monthly Indy poll”

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  1. @John TT

    “Tax credits are effectively a targetted increase in tax thresholds, so if you count that as a benefit in the way that Ivan seems to, you will probably come top that figure

    Osborne would be unwise electorally to scrap it in order to make a less progressive system work instead..”

    If we are talking about the best policy to benefit the low paid, it would be to raise the basic Tax Allowance by a lot (at least double). This is a non-partisan comment because as far as I know, no major party advocates it. It is ridiculous that people on minimum wage should pay Income Tax. I reckon a full-time worker on minimum wage would be on about £11-12000 a year. Therefore the Tax Allowance should be at least that much. You could pay for it by sacking all the tax-credit bureaucrats.

  2. sorry, didn’t look at ICM,s polls closely enough!

    The most recent polls from ICM for Labour runs as follows: 33, 32, 28, 30. I believe the 28 was due to the Lib Dems blip. And so these 1% movements are detectable.

  3. Anthony – surprised you let through Ivan’s partisan and patronising ‘If I had been sat on the sofa watching Sky 24/7 with a bag of popcorn for the last ten years in my ‘free’ house I’d think twice before kiling the ‘Golden Goose’ that is Labour’
    I could respond in detail and indeed drafted a lomg reply but wish to respect the non-partisan site ethos.
    Just wish to say to Ivan though, that Labour needs votes beyond the people you scorn and issues like Europe, International Developement budgets and the diversity agenda draw in many better off ‘private sector working’ voters.
    In short the Conservatives are too conservative, at the core despite Camerons makeover, for many – it is not all about Economics.

  4. “…issues like Europe, International Developement budgets and the diversity agenda draw in many better off ‘private sector working’ voters.
    In short the Conservatives are too conservative, at the core despite Camerons makeover, for many – it is not all about Economics.”

    You’re on a loser with this one. Here are some conclusions from a January 2009 YouGov poll on Europe for instance:

    “64% of the population demand radical change in Britain’s relationship with the EU, including an end to political integration and the supremacy of the European Court. 48% of those favour a looser relationship based on trade and voluntary co-operation, whilst a further 16% support withdrawal from the EU.”

  5. @Jim Jam – Spot on mate “Labour needs votes beyond the people you scorn” – it just doesn’t appear to be able to find them.

  6. Pete B, you miss my point, I realise that Euro-scepticism is more poplular at this time with the Electorate.
    I was merely giving an example of why some people will not vote Tory.
    Carole Thatcher reminded some people of another reason of what they perceive as Tory values etc.
    Kier, Labour can find those voters I know many; trouble for them thay can not secure as many as they have done in 97, 01 and 05.

  7. Pete B – Not the place to discuss policy in detail, but what you are describing in terms of tax thresholds is not yet Tory policy because they know that the wealth gap would widen as a result. Tax credits address the problems of a marginal tax system , and would be Tory policy if they could find a way of administering it cheaply.

    Colin – my mention of Thatcher wasn’t to blame her but to point out that the wholesale dumping of the unemployed onto the “sick” (call it what you like) did not do her any harm in the polls.

  8. Jim Jam,

    Be fair. My comment about the guy and his popcorn was not about ALL of those on benefits ok. Just a sizeable minority. In my opinion.

    I realise that there is more than just economics to governance and I DO have a heart, just like you, believe me.

    It’s just a question of where one draws a line. I like the idea of people voting for a future Tory party not because they can get a few quid in extra benefits but because they have been ’empowered’ by the state to earn more by themselves!

    Pete B’s “If we are talking about the best policy to benefit the low paid, it would be to raise the basic Tax Allowance by a lot (at least double). ” is more my thinking.

  9. WMA: 43:29:17. I don’t want to seem to pretend to be an ORACLE, but on the YouGov poll I wrote “I’d expect the next poll to show something more like 44:29:17 but we shall see.”

    I don’t think this is much to do with sympathy – the govt has clearly run out of steam. Even Alice Miles, normally a bit of a Labour groupie, has noticed.

  10. Even if it means that those who are much better off benefit by more than those at the bottom?

    I’m sure we’re all a lot closer than we make out – all want the best system to provide stimulus and proper reward. I have a feeling Osborne and Cameron would be better off in the polls if they were more progressive, wealth-spreading in attitude.

    How about quantum (rather than percentage) pay rises across the board in the public sector for a year?

    That would narrow the gap, without stymying ambition, surely?

  11. A couple of points.

    Firstly until the Orange Book with the rise of Clegg and his ilk and the move to cut 4p of the basic rate of tax (mainly to target above £20k earners in LibDem seats that look increasing vulnerable to the Tories) a basic tax threshold of £10k was LibDem policy.

    In fact it might still technically be one, as they tend to have all sorts of things running at once so they can “be local” and feed voters a policy that suits, right down to different policy for different seats.

    They still actively want to pursue the idea of replacing the Council Tax with a 1% property tax, while having rejected it in Scotland when part of the coalition, and advocate LIT even though with it unpopular in their Tory marginals they have gone quiet on it.

    Child tax credits and other tax credits actually take in households with incomes up to £40k which is 50% above the UK average, so probably covers close to two thirds of families (if they claim).

    One of the reasons Labour haven’t had the impact on child poverty that they wanted is that in order to maintain the Blair coalition they needed to include middle income families in the deal.

    The result is that they actually expanded the number receiving belief and arguably have given it to people who don’t really need it.

    As part of the drive to expand the workforce and get more people, particularly mothers, in to work a whole series of credits and child care supports well as nurseries in schools have been created to make easier for peoples to go out to work.

    This has benefited large numbers many of whom would have worked anyway and who were already working.

    It would be interesting to see to what extent the tax raised and benefit avoided by getting people back in to work cost less than all the credits, payments and services employed to facilitate it.

    I have a feeling that like much of what Brown did as the “miracle” chancellor it might well work out at cost neutral with a booming economy probably being able to do most of it without all the state intervention and red tape.

    Having said that if you look at the IFS reports on tax credits it has benefited a lot of low income families, so I suspect that it has done a lot of good and been popular with a large number of people.

    However I do wonder what the cost of tax credits will be in a recession, as I wouldn’t be surprised if a Chancellor that though he had ended “Boom and Bust” possibly didn’t cost it for a period of bust.

    As to Europe it’s back to our old friend salience.

    When asked about dogs wearing collars, 99% can say that they should, but if it only scores 1% in terms of what people see as the key issues then any party the has “Collars for Dogs” at the centre of it’s campaign will get humped.

    Regardless of how many rants we have about the evils of Europe and speeches that say “Wake up Britain”, all those that see it as a main issue made there minds up a long time ago and vote accordingly.

    Whatever is changing peoples opinions now it isn’t Europe and as it’s easy for any party to talk tough about “Fighting Britain’s corner” it really is hard to open clear water on.

    In short Europe is in electoral terms a stagnant issue where there really aren’t many votes to win. After Haig and Howard trying it twice with no real impact iI think Cameron’s people are smart enough to realise that.


  12. Yes there is more to governance than just economics but it remains the prime mover in making up the electorate’s mind when it comes to casting a vote. When things are going well the voter will tend to forget the issues and pratfalls that irritated him at the time they took place but when as now the economy is in a tailspin he will remember every little running sore. It is as if each sore resembled a stone thrown into a pool until eventually a big stone-the state of the economy -breaks the surface and people then recollect all the other stones underneath .
    We are now only 14 months away from the almost certain date of the next general election, 12 months away from when the date will be announced, 6 months away from the start of electioneering – the party conferences-and 3 months away from the Euro/ English County Council elections. From Easter onwards the pace of events will quicken and the time left to the government in which to sieze back the initiative will begin to run out. Maybe it has already.

  13. On the issue of benefits / tax credits / tax thresholds, the real problem is that each has been tackled in a piecemeal manner generating ever greater complexity – hence many of the most needy don’t claim, while those who know how to exploit the system have done very nicely thank you.

    Labour had an opportunity in 1997 to completely reshape the sysytem, and this is what Blair asked Frank Field to do. Unfortunately, we all know what happened next.

    The idea that one man in Downing street could micro-manage the entire country’s income and expenditure needs is ridiculous, but for 12 years he has been able to make tax and benefit ever more complex – to the point where even he lost track of the winners vs losers each time he tinkered – hence the 10p tax-band fiasco.

    My advice to Cameron would be to promise a completely new structure, integrating Income Tax & NI, with higher thresholds and a new approach to benefits – separating out temporary assistance from long-term support. However, none of this should be done quickly. I would advise a moratorium on any changes to the benefit and tax credits system, and only change to Income tax being a step increase in threshold to 30 x 52 x minimum wage.

    For any new system to be publcily accepted, it should be devised by a cross-party committee – chaired by Frank Field !

    If the new structure strikes the right balance between supporting the needy while providing incentives to take personal responsibility, there will probably be more losers than winners (in terms of benefit received). However, the whole country will gain, not just economically, but socially, if the system is seen to be fair.

    For the record, while there may be some truth in Ivan’s caricature, I would be surprised if this were much more than 1-2% of the population.

    Unfortunately their selfish exploitation of the system has damaged the image of countless thousands who struggle to make ends meet and want to take up the opportunity to better themselves through their own efforts. It is this latter group who now feel betrayed by the system, and so have become easy prey for the BNP.

  14. “Regardless of how many rants we have about the evils of Europe ”

    Partisan-but neatly done….”rants” & “evils” is diagnostic though.

  15. The Tax Credit system has become both complex , and integral to many families’ financial survival.

    It is true that deducting basic rate income tax from , whilst paying Tax Credits to the same individual is hugely wastefull of cost & effort.

    However, for those with little or no income to tax, and a family to support Tax Credits have become the financial lifeline.

    So it will not be easy to unwind GB’s edifice, whilst balancing simple personal tax regimes & efficiency of tax collection with fairness & social justice.

    A member of my family -a divorcee with two young children , and a lifelong wheelchair user-could not support her family without Tax Credits.

    The WTC is certainly an incentive to gain the minimum 16hrs per week paid employment , and it is an incentive she strives to take advantage of .

    As it happens she does not want to be reliant on the State without working as much as she can.
    When first divorced, and in need of advice on the Welfare minefield, DWP advised her to claim Invalidity Benefit-she refused it.

  16. Paul

    “For any new system to be publicly accepted, it should be devised by a cross-party committee – chaired by Frank Field !”

    Hear hear! Frank Field is one of the very few MPs that I have any respect for.

  17. Colin,

    Despite Peter Cairns’ unsubtle revelation of his own position on Europe, he does make a valid point in that it is not really an issue which is going to sway that many voters at the next geneal election – except in one respect: Brown’s refusal to honour a manifesto promise of a referendum on the constitutional treaty will haunt Labour on a key question of trust.

    However, the next national election – 3 months today – will be for the European Parliament, and Europe will have particular salience then. While Cameron has been right to effectively park Europe in the long grass for the past three years, now is the time for a slightly bolder line. In 2004 too many votes were conceded to UKIP. They need to be recovered, and with 64% of the public feeling more inclined to a euro-sceptic position, this needs to be capitalised upon.

    The prize for all parties in June is not just the number of MEPs elected, but, because these will be the last major elections before the general election (likely to coincide with local elections on 6 May 2010), they will set the tone for who is up or down as we head into the last conference season. The Tories can expect some increase from 2004, but a clear victory in June would raise the bar for any Labour hopes of recovery.
    For Labour, if they fail to improve on the abysmal result they had in 2004, then morale will continue to fall, but the biggest risk is that a low turnout in their core support produces some nasty upsets – such as slipping into third place in Scotland.

  18. Paul.

    “Despite Peter Cairns’ unsubtle revelation of his own position on Europe”

    Hardly a revelation, I’ve been openly pro EU since long before I started posting here and have never made a secret of my support.

    The EU is far from perfect, but the benefits out way the draw backs and I certainly can’t share any reason for the level of animosity that many in the UK seem to have towards it.

    But then as a nationalist I get the same response that the EU gets.

    For want of a better description it is “Britain is Best”, where any sharing or loss of power with others in Europe or Scotland is seen as almost a recipe for disaster.


  19. Peter,

    My implied criticism was not that you are “pro” Europe – a perfectly respectable position to hold, I used to do so myself many years ago – but the dismissive attitude towards those who hold a different view (as in “rants about the evils of Eurpe”)

  20. When it comes to the issue of Europe the electorate can barely stifle a yawn as UKIP are about to find out on June 4th.
    I am neither ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ prefering to describe myself as a Euro realist. I do not want closer political union, I think it was a mistake to bring in the eastern block and there are some very silly directives which need kicking into the long grass but the fundemental idea of a largish trading block always made sense and generally I feel that the EU has been a big success. Too many ‘antis’ can’t see the wood for the trees.

  21. “I do not want closer political union, ”

    “Too many ‘antis’ can’t see the wood for the trees.”

    Nor do I Nick-but ” closer political union” is The Wood.

  22. Nick,

    As I noted above, I used to be pro-Europe. Indeed, given my family background and education, it would be surprising if that were not so.

    However, there is a world of difference between an economic trading area and a political union.

    Having worked within government and attended many EU meetings, I grew to progressively distrust and then vehemently oppose the political union which is being imposed on Europe by a political class that has not only lost touch with its national roots, but actively despises the will of the people.

    There is now a grave danger that in pressing forward with political union in the face of popular discontent, the EU runs the risk of not only failing in its vision of a super-state, but destroying the economic advantages of free trade that it has spent fifty years assembling.

    Far better to call a halt on integration and allow powers to be repatriated to member states by calm negotiation than have the whole collapse in an inferno.

  23. The liberals by this poll have apparently secured 17% and have held this despite the 6% increase blip.

    But with Labour loosing ground to Tories (and staying under 30%) what effect will this have on individual constituencies where its labour vs. Liberals (I’m thinking Manchester, Liverpool, edin south)?

  24. ‘Europe, he does make a valid point in that it is not really an issue which is going to sway that many voters at the next geneal election – except in one respect: Brown’s refusal to honour a manifesto promise of a referendum on the constitutional treaty will haunt Labour on a key question of trust.’

    In the midst of a new great depression / recession Brown’s ‘perhaps he should have perhaps he shouldn’t have’ / did Labour promise to hold a referendum but that was on the thing before etc… You get the idea. A week is a long time in politics to say the blindingly obvious, and the EU perhaps referendum of some years before promised- perhaps- by Blair is now very much past history. No-one cares. There are for more immediate issues to worry about in the electorate.

  25. Jack,

    The point is not whether or not we have a referendum on the Lisbon treaty (it may be history by May 2010 anyway) . It is that the charge “Labour cannot be trusted to honour their manifesto promises” cannot now be easily rebutted.

    You can be sure that, come the general election campaign, the charge will be made, and so, the issue of trust will be thrust upon Labour, like it or not.

    Moreover, the elections in June are ostensibly on how Europe should be governed. If the European Parliament has any meaning, surely that is what it is about ? The constitutional treaty is integral to that.

    So, no matter how good or bad the economy is performing in three months time, the failure to honour a manifesto promise on such an important matter will be an issue on 4 June.

  26. Dean,

    Based on this poll, with LDs on 17% and Lab on 28% there has been a net swing of 1.5% from Lab to LD. On UNS, this would give the LDs no more than five of their Labour targets, including two in Scotland and 3 in or around London, but none in Manchester, Liverpool or anywhere else. (See Target Seats link at top left for details)

    Also, again on UNS, in two of those five targets (Edinburgh S and Watford) Tories would have leap-frogged LDs into first place, with a third (Aberdeen S) a close run thing.

    Note – I am not predicting that that will be the result because UNS is unreliable in Scotland/Wales and 3-way marginals are notoriously unpredictable anyway.

    What I can say is that LDs will lose far more seats to Tories than they will gain from Labour, so are likely to end up with 30-40 seats.

  27. Comres Scotland Figures were,

    Lab 25%, Tory 22%, LibDem 16%, SNP 29% Others 8%.

    This to an extent fits in with Yougov which has the SNP once again pulling ahead of Labour but with a relatively high LibDem share.


  28. Dean,

    I helped out with the 2008 local election campaign in Liverpool for the Tories. We took a lot of Lib Dem votes in places like Woolton and Allerton, if this is repeated at a general election it could hold the Lib Dems back quite a bit. The Lib Dem council is also increasingly unpopular, and recent plans to introduce night time parking charges went down like a lead balloon.

  29. Coming late to the benefits discussion, but I suspect that while a significant minority/just edging a majority of benefit recipients are Labour supporters, there is greater apathy and therefore a lower propensity to vote among this group than among other voters. So I’d see it as a bit of a red herring. Bit like the fact that – bar one or two cases – newspaper readership in not a good predictor of voting intention.

  30. Rob – very well done. Congratulations.

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