I was rather disappointed that this morning’s ComRes poll didn’t seem to include voting intention figures, so I’m pleased to report they’ve actually just held them back a day. The topline figures, with changes from ComRes’s last poll a week and a half ago are CON 42%(+4), LAB 24%(+1), LDEM 18%(-4).

This is the first poll since the Norwich North by-election, and there’s a significant increase in Conservative support. This isn’t unusual, by-elections do often give the winning party a boost in national polls because of media coverage of them being “winners” – a “halo effect”.

79 Responses to “Tory “Norwich North boost” in new ComRes Poll”

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  1. Hello Florenzo

    Welcome to the site – we worry about the advent of Fascism here too. Many feel that it is flourishing because of the lack of engagement of the ruling party with public opinion.

    To answer your questions I think that the Lib Dem support is lower than it should be because we don’t have a proportional represenation system here which leads many people to believe that a vote for the Lib Dems would be wasted.

    It would be possible to have a Left-wing coalition, particularly if we were to have a “hung parliament” where no one party has more seats than the rest combined. Whether this would happen in practice is a matter of debate.

    If it does happen and leads to another 5 years of Brown as PM I think I shall come over to you in Italy and claim asylum!

  2. Graham,

    Yes, I admit one of the statistics in my original comment was confusing. But it wasn’t that difficult to work out what I meant, and I am surprised that after correctly expressing myself you still misinterpreted what I said.

    I know its important to express statistics clearly, and regarding the Norwich North by election I mostly did. But you seem to me to be more concerned with focusing on the one mistake rather than the issue I was taking about. And the issue I was taking about is the historically deep decline in the support for the Labour party and its likely consequence at the coming GE. Please could we talk about that.


    Thank you for your support

  3. Florenzo,

    Well here in Scotland we do have PR and the LibDems tend to get about 16% of the vote about the same as the Tories and about half of the labour and SNP vote.

    Why not more?

    Well I suspect that it is because they just don’t offer anything distinctive enough. Stripped of the ‘we aren’t like other parties’ and ‘it’s because of FPTP’ they actually aren’t offering anything that others aren’t.

    The assumption seems to be that with PR the Libdems will come into their own, but they were in coalition for two terms in Scotland and they didn’t exactly dazzle people.

    True they were the minority party but I think too many people concluded that they didn’t add that much to the govvernment and spent too much time trying to take credit for popular things and avoiding responsibility for the tough choices that governments have to make.

    I think a lot of people have a similar view of them at Local Government level.
    Initially they are seen as a welcome change and a chance to deal with the problems of one party or the other being in power too long, but after time they tend to be no better (or worse) than those they replace.


  4. On Gary Gibbon’s channel 4 news blog he quotes a former cabinet minister who says “its extremely unlikely Brown will lead into the election” most of the political pundits both in the left and right wing press say Alan Johnson is most feared by the tories.

    It would be intersting to see a poll of how people would vote when given a choice of alternative leader eg Alan Johnson, David Milliband etc who would be the most popular choice and secondly how it would impact on Labour’s national poll standing.

  5. @ John

    I think such polls have been done before; I remember that the main problems were the reaction of “who are these people?”, and “OK then” to anyone as such questions (I suspect) tend to be asked only when the current leader is seen as doing badly, so I get the feeling that they’re not much rated.

    As far as Alan Johnson goes, what can he offer as a trades-union man with a communist past? Brown’s lost the spending argument for him, and the “longest suicide note in history” coupled with the Gurkhas and helicopters makes any plans to end Trident severely dangerous. What can he offer beyond a (yet further unelected) new PM who can smile without rigorous training?

  6. @Florenzo,

    As others have said the LibDems have little influence on government because of an electoral system that favours the two largest parties and not because of lack of support from voters — 20% is higher than most European liberal parties.

    If there were to be a hung parliament I think a formal coalition is unlikely. Much more likely is that the largest party (which would probably be the Conservatives) would try to govern as a minority government. The only thing that might persuade the LibDems to support a Labour government in that situation would be a commitment to an early referendum on electoral reform.

  7. John –

    Given Charles Clarke fits the description of “former Cabinet minister”, I have my doubts that Gary Gibbon’s post is telling us anything new :)

  8. Hi Florenzo:-

    “Why libdem thinking is not so appealing to people in the UK?”

    Given the current low level of opinion in UK about political parties , you might expect LibDems to be making progress at the expense of the two main parties. So your question is a good one.

    The answer must be that they lack credibility as a potential government -or that their policies are not appealing.
    In my opinion it is both of these, but mainly the former.

    David Cameron has a consistent opinion poll lead whilst constantly being criticised for “having no policies”-so it is possible to gain political support here at present on the basis of things like trust & credibility. LibDems have clearly failed in this respect.

    “Would it be possible in the UK parliament to have a left-wing coalition?

    It depends what you mean by “left-wing”-and whether you consider New Labour & LibDems to be “left-wing” .

    Some would contend that there is indeed a case for a “left wing coalition”-but that there aren’t any left wing political parties to form it with.

    If Labour lose the GE we may see the re-emergence of something we would all recognise as clearly “left wing” in UK politics.

  9. Why are the Liberal Democrats still around 20% in most polls? the answer is that the media are not giving them equal spacing as either the Tories or Labour,in fact papers like the Sun are always attacking them or ignore their achievements.
    They also have not got the finance to campaign so hard as the other two major parties.

  10. Hallo again Florenzo:-

    This is a quote from Nick Clegg:

    “I am drawn to the philosophy of decentralisation and local empowerment for many reasons. There’s the basic principle of subsidiarity – the liberal belief that decisions just ought to be taken as close to the people they affect as possible. But it’s more than that. Centralised government simply doesn’t work to deliver the change I want for Britain. ”
    Nick Clegg 3/7/08

    Here are some questions for you:-

    *Is this policy “left wing” or “right wing”

    *The Labour administration is seen as strongly in favour of Central Government Control-the opposite of Clegg’s policy-how can these two positions both be described as left wing?

    *How could these two approaches be combined in a “coalition”?

    *What is the difference between Clegg’s approach -and Cameron’s?-which is :-

    “We want to see decisions taken at the lowest possible level, and where possible, by those directly affected. So we will encourage greater use of direct democracy, with measures including the introduction of directly-elected police commissioners and enabling local residents to veto excessive council tax rises ”
    (Conservative Party website)

    As you can see, policy pontifications are all very well-but they sometimes demonstrate that labels like “left” & “right” are not adequate for categorising political parties-well not in UK at present.

    Perhaps this is why voters fall back on things like trust & credibility, which places huge burdens on opposition leaders with no track record in government.

  11. I also think that the term “left” and “right” are no longer relevant to politics today. They were arguably at their most relevant in the 1983 GE.

    I would rather use the terms “common sense” and “blatant stupidity”.

    The latter I would apply to any government that doesn’t listen to its subjects and acts in a way that is totally alien to most peoples’ idea of what’s right, especially when it throws in a liberal measure of arrogance along the way.

    Speaking for myself I support a variety of policies which span the entire left to right axis but will be voting for the Party which will be ruling with the least amount of arrogance and the most amount of common sense. I have already decided which party that will be.

  12. Localism, give me strength….

    It’s become the mantra of every politician looking to boost there popularity.

    Two cases I’ve recently seen.

    A development in a village that had the potential to deliver 60% affordable housing but which wasn’t popular with the residents adjacent to it.

    So, do we give it the go ahead because the council area needs affordable housing, do we go with the village residents looking for housing or to we oppose it because the nearest neighbours don’t want it.

    Just how local is local, if lowest is best then the Nimbys always win.

    Case two;

    A proposal for an incinerator run by a private company.

    The Council strategy is to “Reduce, Reuse and Reclaim”, so once we have reduced waste by asking people to produce less and recycled what we can, we look to the possibility of producing energy and reduce what goes to land fill, so incineration fits.

    But the community where the incinerator is supposed to go are up in arms about it. What is local, the wider council interst and the wider environment or the local interest and environment. The bulk of the Council members seem to see the Council perspective, the local members are opposed.

    On a wider scale you see the same things with wind farms and major developments. On a big scale we can accept that we need things but don’t want them beside us.

    I go to a fair number of meeting where the Police talk to communities.

    Time and again at a local level we here calls for “Bobbies on the Beat” because of young people hanging around and the curse of dog dirt.

    The police talk about drugs and dangerous driving and the lives that they destroy, that intelligence lead policing is far more effective at cutting serious crime that bobbies on the beat, and that teenagers standing around talking isn’t actually a criminal offence.

    I have no doubt that if we had locally elected and accountable police commissioners they would soon be responding to the “Bobbies on the Beat” lobby.
    That’s potential shift in resources away from night shift officers stopping people “glassing” each other on a friday night to day time patrolling of the suburbs when everyone is at work.

    Away from where the police know the serious crime is and how to deal with it, to where the public don’t want it to be and how they think the police should stop it.

    We do need good accountable local control and oversight, but the idea that a local decision is a better decision is nonsense. Saying so it’s popular but that doesn’t make it true.

    It’s widely proclaimed by politicians because like “lower taxes” and ” better public services” or indeed “Bobbies on the Beat” it’s pretty much universally well received by the voters, but that doesn’t mean it will work.

    I may be a cynic, but show me a politician promoting “Localism” and I’ll show you a chancer on the make.

    There’s my off topic rant for the month.


  13. Oh I really enjoyed that Peter -there speaks a true man of the left.( Florenzo please note!)

    More seriously you ask the relevant question:-

    “What is local, the wider council interst and the wider environment or the local interest and environment. The bulk of the Council members seem to see the Council perspective, the local members are opposed.”

    Well what would you expect? “Local members” are there to speak for those who elected them aren’t they?
    If there is a wider Community interest ( I reject the dangerous idea of “council interest” )-like avoiding Landfill’s environmental & financial costs -then presumably that will gain the majority vote.

    It is the job of an elected Local Councillor to balance these interests-taking into account the interests of local voters.

    Of course life would be easier for these so-called representatives if they could ignore difficult local interests & vocal opinion.Such people & their central government counterparts are the face of the authoritarianism which is growing by the day in this country.

    The sooner they have to earn their allowances & expenses by talking to voters between elections the better.

  14. “We do need good accountable local control”

    No we don’t -we need good accountable local representation.

  15. @ Colin

    Hear Hear!

    @ Peter Cairns

    I presume you are also comfortable with the growing trend of the Police ignoring anti-social behaviour but then immediately arresting the victims when a confrontation occurs? That appears all they are good for these days.

  16. @ Peter

    I think you’ve written a very negative account of people’s preferences. Your underlying logic seems to be that the State knows best what’s good for you (I couldn’t disagree more) and to make your point, you select only negative issues.

    Case 1: Incinerators: they’re clean, efficient and provide jobs. Sticking it on the side of The Mound in Edinburgh for transport efficiency would be awful since it would be a comparative eyesore and the locals won’t work at it; they generally have other jobs. But other areas would be quite happy to have a clean, efficient industry with good job security.

    Case 2: There’s a Young Offenders’ Institute that I’ve visited next to a village; the village likes it as it gives good job security in a place of otherwise low employment.

    Localism provides local input and control with direct benefit, which can react far faster than a centralised state: the USSR was hardly famed for its efficiencies!

    As for policing, their job is to prevent crime, rather than arrest people afterwards. And even then, surely the point of arresting is deterrence, rather than state-sanctioned vengeance?

  17. I agree – let’s take the Police and a recent case in Crowthorne, Berks where a man was woken by his wife when their step-son was being attacked by a gang of five drunken yobs who he had disturbed vandalising their car.

    The man ran outside to the aid of his step-son whereuopn he himself was attacked – he ran inside and grabbed whatever came to hand first, a letter opener as it happened , and defended himself by stabbing one of the yobs.

    The man was then arrested and charged with attempted murder!

    How can this possibly be right?

    What was the man supposed to do? Stand by and watch the yobs kill is step-son?

    This is a prime example of the nonsense that occurs with an over-powerful state and the absense of any common sense.

    I don’t recall voting for atrocities like this which have more of a place in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe than here in England.

  18. Colin,

    It’s not so much the “voice of the left “as “the voice of reason”.

    If you want politicians who listen to and implement the demands of those who protest and want a particular course of action I’ve the man for you…

    Pontius Pilate.

    He was a politician who knew what was right, but decided that it was in his interest to do what the locals wanted if only to keep the peace.

    Why put justice above popularity, when it would lead to so much bother.

    We have a system of representative democracy where you elect someone to use their judgement to represent your communities best interest, not it’s or a part of it’s, self interest.

    In the case of the affordable housing approving the houses wouldn’t be locally popular, particularly with those with houses near by, but village has what amounts to a fifteen year waiting list.

    It may not be the best strategy for getting myself re elected but I am a strong believer that;

    “What’s popular isn’t always right and what’s right isn’t always popular”

    and that

    “Want isn’t Need”.

    I try to put right before popular and need before want.

    If you want to know what gives the likes of me the right to go against what people want, well it’s not a right it’s a duty.

    I may not have the wisdom of Solomon but I do have his responsibilities. Difficult local intersts and vocal opinion aren’t ignored but nor should they just be bowed too.

    If I am approached by five people with a valid objection and fifty with a spurious one I don’t play to the gallery and count the votes by supporting the dodgy one.

    Supporting the fifty woud be the smart political move but it wouldn’t be right or fair.

    If a developer comes up with a valid proposal that meets all the criteria and where there is no valid planning reason for refusal but isn’t popular with locals what should a Councillor do?

    Make up a pretend reason to reject it to keep his constituents happy.
    That would be popular, but it would also be dishonest.
    It really depends on whether you think the ends justify the means or not.

    It would be popular but it would also be an abuse of power because you’d be rejecting a legitimate request because for no valid reason. It actually happens all the time and more often than not it is appealed to the Reporter and the applicant wins on appeal.

    At which point those who made up the reason for rejection to avoid the unpopular choice cry;

    ” It’s the big brother state overturning local democracy, we need localism and more powers”

    If I get kicked out because I’ve tried to do what is right and give my constituents what they need and am replaced by someone who claims they can give them the popular things they want then so be it.

    But if you look around the country I think you’ll find lots of popular local councillors and back bench MP’s who have built there careers on campaigning for a whole series of things that have gone nowhere because they were neither practical or affordable.

    But of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t popular causes that get them re-elected.

    You may see them as examples of the kind of politicians we need more of, I see them as little more than con men taking the public for a ride. Their priority isn’t doing what’s best for their communities, it’s keeping their jobs.

    For more than a decade we’ve had a government that has been a master of giving people what they want;

    Rising prosperity and house prices, no increases in income taxes, record public spending, more police, more nurses and doctors, educationx3, a flexible labour market, a booming City of London.

    Was that right for Britain? I don’t think so.
    Was it what Britain needed? I don’t think so either.

    Was it highlight popular and what people wanted? Well three election landslides in a row speak for themselves.

    Localism isn’t the cure to a central government that puts it’s own electoral interests before the national one if you just get local politicians who put their own re-election ahead of making hard choices.

    If the hard choices that we need to take now are to be made we don’t need more politicians who will avoid them when they see they won’t be popular.

    As to Council interest, every penny we spend on land fill is one we can’t spend on our schools or roads and it’s th epeoples schools the peoples roads and the peoples money.

    So I for one expect the Council to spend it as wisely as possible and to try to avoid future costs where we can.

    The Councils interst should be the interest of the people it represents and the wider “Council” position may prevail, but if you see Localism and local accountability as the answer then the local would win out over the wider and I doubt that would lead to better government.


  19. Peter-I think you protest too much.

    It’s up to you as a Local Authority Councillor to balance the needs & wishes of all Constituents.Thats what you get paid for.

    Moaning about the difficulties & inconveniences of special & local interests doesn’t impress me at all.

    ….and by the way, historians think Pilate was a brutal petty local official who did what his bosses wanted without compunction or guilt .

    His allegiance was to the Roman Civil administration & the Jewish Religious authorities. Rome wanted the peace kept, and keeping the Sanhedrin ( who brought Jesus to Pilate) happy was how they did it.

    This was an excercise in the application of the Control of “The Authorities” by a minor jobsworth on the payroll.

    There are many such in our country today.

  20. @ Peter

    You still look up to the State as if it were prima facie a moral force. It really isn’t. The higher authorities are as prone to selfish, spiteful actions as any localist. 50p tax on the well-paid, anyone?

    On Pontius Pilate:
    1) He appeased the mob, thus averting civil unrest. The province of Judaea saw much unrest, as seen by the massive upheaval put down by Titus Vespasianus 40 years later.
    2) The Bible was written by the defendent’s team; perhaps one-sided?

  21. Wow, how did one set of quotes from opposition leaders generate all this!! For what its worth I think most people have conflicting instincts on decentralization. They may be all in favour of a local health authority having power over its budget, but will bleat about a “postcode lottery” when it uses that power differently to the authority next door. And as for politicians, they are generally keener on decentralization when they do not control the central government. Once you’ve got hold of the levers of power its tempting to hold on to them. Perhaps that’s why the LibDems are the most consistently “pro-decentralization” party (no chance of getting power without it).

    But, seriously, a little off-topic? Unless someone can root around and find us an actual POLL about attitudes to decentralized power?

  22. It is interesting that the LibDem vote has fallen, rather than Others, particularly given that preceding polls have shown Others falling away, probably because of lack of publicity after the June elections.

    It is not immediately obvious how this fits the Norwich North by-election, given that the LibDems came third above UKIP and the Greens. Perhaps the answer is that by-election publicity, such as there is for the minor parties helps then, whereas the LIbDems have been around for ages.

    The fundamental problem for the LibDems is that they don’t really have anything different to say. Tories and the Labour Party took over liberal economics (with all its major problems) many years ago.

  23. @ Peter Cairns – it’s time ‘NIMBYism’ was reassessed. A lot of the time what is dismissed as ‘NIMBYism’ is simply people taking responsibility for their particular neck of the woods – being good custodians, essentially. We need people to be good custodians of their localities, because such attitudes maintain good environments and good communities. The acronym NIMBY has become so misused that its frequently invoked by any unscrupulous developer who meets local opposition to his plans to make a lot of money and leave others to live with the monstrosities he leaves behind.

    I’m very pro-NIMBY. The more NIMBYs, the better. And your own party – the SNP – is just NIMBY-ism writ large, in essence.

  24. I don’t have a problem with taking responsibility for tough decisions and unpopular ones, perversely I quite enjoy it.

    My issue is with politicians who promote Localism as a solution when it’s nothing of the sort. The notion that if decisions were made closer to you they would be better is appealing to most people but that doesn’t mean it would work.

    We are about to go into a decade where state spending will most likely fall by 15% or more and we need to face up to that and politicians going on about Localism as the way forward aren’t putting it forward as a solution they are putting it forward because they fear the solution.

    Isn’t it convenient that as we have to face up to the toughest choices in a generation how politicians are lining up to say that the public should make more of them.

    Two tests that Psychologists use when assessing people are to ask them what they think of particular words and sometimes what the opposite is and what they think of it.

    One that comes up regularly is Pragmatic. Most people view it positively and say the opposite is dogmatic which tends to get a negative value. The end result of that was that Focus groups help New Labour market itself as Pragmatic.

    Looking at the policies it’s pursued it’s hard to see it being any more pragmatic that any other government, but that was never the point.

    The point was to be associated with something that people had regard for and in doing so to boost their own popularity while portraying their opponents as dogmatic. what’s more it worked as they painted the Tories as tired old dogmatists stuck in a failed Thatcherite past.

    Now if we apply the same principle to Localism, most people would give it a similar positive score and if asked for an opposite they would probably go for centralisation which again would probably get a negative.

    Therefore the smart party should market itself as the champion of localism against those red tape loving centralists in the other party.

    Localism won’t solve any of our current problems but it might help get those promoting it elected.

    I don’t buy the idea that local decisions are necessarily better or that we should defer to common sense decent hard working families, because I can’t see any evidence that it delivers anything better.

    I’ve just been involved in amalgamating two schools a mile apart, covering to small villages. One set of parents is delighted and think we have served them well the other is at the burning effigies stage.

    The winners see it as a good local decision making, the others thinks it’s a council decision that isn’t local enough and that their views have been ignored.

    I don’t mind being the person who makes the decision, what I have a problem with is the carpet baggers who tell the losers that they would have won if it had been more local.


  25. Isn’t this debate about where and how one draws the line between the overall good of society (as determined by central Government) and the good of the local society in which we happen to live as determined by regional / local goverment. In regional I include Scotland and London.who both have currently well known populist local politicians to argue their respective cases with, I would suggest, little regard for the views of those who hold a broader mandate.

    The tension between the two protagonists is one which has gone on for not just centuries but millennia – to my knowledge it goes back to Roman times so perhaps it;s only right that this tension is a healthy expression of views which can never be won by either party!

  26. Anthony – This does not appear to be a debate about polls! My contribution at least had some relevance to the subject under discussion, the poll re public attitudes to the war in Afghanistan, and the effect on it of the MoD court case.

  27. @ Collin – “This does not appear to be a debate about polls! My contribution at least had some relevance to the subject under discussion”

    Well aren’t you a good boy? Here, have a sweetie as a rewards.

  28. Con:41, Lab:27 LD:18% in Daily Telegraph/YouGov poll out tonight…

  29. @ Peter

    “…what I have a problem with is the carpet-baggers who tell the losers that they would have won if [the decision] had been more local.”

    Couldn’t you apply that comment to the SNP every time the Scottish Parliament demands something from HM Government and doesn’t get it?

    “Localism won’t solve any of our current problems but it might help get those promoting it elected.”

    The pros and cons of localism aside, I rather like parties vying for my vote, on every topic. If localism turned out to be the abject failure for me that you predict, I could punish pro-localists by withdrawing my vote.

    And also, surely the point of localism is to localise the pros and cons of any decision? Currently, NIMBYism can thrive because they gain all the positives and little of the negatives, because the centralised cost of the 2nd school is spread across your entire council area. Why not allocate a budget per child, and leave the locals to make local decisions as they saw fit? Positives and negatives would affect the people making the decisions, and few people otherwise.

    Surely that’s the best way to make a decision?

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