ICM monthly poll

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has been released. The topline voting intention figures, with changes from their last poll a week and a half ago, are CON 41%(-2), LAB 25%(-1), LDEM 19%(nc).

The Conservatives are down slightly from the 43% they enjoyed in the last ICM poll, but that itself was a rise from their previous poll (hence the Guardian’s report of this poll showing the Conservatives unchanged), so I think what we are actually seeing here is the same as the other polls in August so far – little or no change.

Asking specifically about the NHS, 48% thought it would improve under a Conservative government, compared to 41% who think it would be worse (I’m assuming, given those rather high figures, that people were not given the option of saying it would make no difference). Asked which party would be better on health Labour still lead, but by only 3 points, compared to 8 back in February and 13 back in 2005. Far from the row over the NHS damaging people’s perception of whether the Conservatives can be trusted with it, it looks as though they are continuing to move ahead.

ICM also asked about alternative Labour leaders. It isn’t clear exactly what they asked, but their report says David Miliband was the only one to match Brown, while Harriet Harman performed the worst.

40 Responses to “ICM monthly poll”

  1. in line with recent polling data however, beside that why has the MOS poll not be put up on the site just yet

  2. How are the averages worked out? For the LibDems for example there are two polls of 18% and two polls of 19% giving an average of 18.5%. Isn’t this rounded up to 19% as opposed to rounded down to 18%? I was always taught that .5 and above is rounded up to the next whole number.

  3. From the Guardian report :-

    Crucially, a Cameron government is the clear preference of most Liberal Democrats – 56% would rather see the Tories in power, against 36% who want Labour.


  4. SNP + PC at 5% is very high.

    They only got 2.4% at UK GE 2005 (1.5% + 0.9%).

  5. Would have been good to see the Tories at 43 or 44% but I suppose a 16 point lead is still a good result!

  6. It is a good result.

    I wonder if the end result of the recent scandals has in fact been to convince the electorate that both parties are in fact slightly more weasel-like than previously. it could also just be statistical noise though.

    Bad news for Labour. I really thought that remaining scandal free for a few weeks they would drift back toward 28%ish. It looks like they truly are becalmed. Conference season will really tell for sure though. They are fast running out of opportunities to lift themselves out of complete wipeout territory.

  7. Following on from Stuart, above this poll has others at 15pts and the You Gov one at 17 (just doing simple maths there may be some rounding).
    The 2 polls on 13&14th of August showing others at 12 may well have had them dropping too early.
    Still good for the Tories whose lead has clearly moved over 15% in staed of just under a few weeks ago..

  8. I suppose that to go from a 66 seat Labour majority to a 100 seat Tory one would be an incredible result; probably the biggest turnaround in history (aside from 97) – anything more would be breathtaking.

    A 2 point shift from this point in favour of the Tories would increase that majority to a landslide 150 seats.

  9. 1970 was quite large: from a Labour majority of 96 to a Conservative one of 30.

  10. From a 66 seat Labour majority to a 96 Conservative one would be an incredible result (and a disastrous one for the country, especially the NHS) and a 2 point shift to the Conservatives would be almost a landslide but a 2 point shift the other way – towards Labour would mean a 28 seat majority, hardly groundbreaking. Statistics can be used to mean anything, especially when its all + or – 3%.

    Thank God for the holidays – no news or polls. I think that the MP’s on holiday, of whatever persuasion should build their sandcastles and think of better days ahead.

    It appears that some poor sad cases on this blog or whatever it is, are having withdrawal symptoms with so few polls coming along. All I can suggest is get a life, speak to some real people and dream a little.

  11. Stevie G – terrible judgement, both to take the ball off Yossi’s toes in front of goal and then to dive in where a defender was covering. Stop hiding here and go and train a bit harder.

    Re analysis of NHS polling, stick to the footie, mate. The perception in the public is largely (for now) that Cameron is to be trusted to ignore the pro-tax relief on private health faction and leave the British public unworried about how they can afford to be ill.

    I don’t believe he will prevail in the long run, but the polls show he’s winning the argument.

  12. In line with recent polls. As before 1997, people appear to have made their minds up.

    In relation to the NHS, both Labour and the Tories promise to protect Health from Cuts. But under Labour such pledges have been a recipe for inefficiency and for people to get their noses in the trough with profitable contracts, notably PFI. Just to take today, the “Daily Mail” (stop sneering, “Guardian” readers, it is currently the most successful UK daily paper and has some thoughtful and often quite radical articles) is headlining on the European doctors the NHS is paying hand-over-foot to cover the night duties our extremely well paid GPs disdain to do, Many electors think that because of his personal experience with the NHS Cameron will be more concerned to ensure it actually delivers quality services. Whether they will be right is another matter.

    In relation to the SNP, how was this poll timed in relation to the release of the “Lockerbie bonber”, who dropped his appeal to get out? Incidentally, I doubt if he was guilty as judges are usually very reluctant to allow retrials.

  13. Anthony,

    I was reading the Guardian today ( “As you do, don’t you know”) and it said that the Tories are ahead of Labour in every region of the country. Does that include scotland or do ICM still count us as being part of “The North” (which I believe satrs just above Watford).


  14. Peter,

    I think previous ICM polls do indeed lump us and Scotland as a whole into the “North” and Plaid’s scores are also lumped into Midlands and Wales.

    I haven’t seen the latest tables yet.


  15. Frederick – extremely defensive Daily Mail reader are you? My wife reads it for the extremely funny letters page, so I often get to read its pretty good city pages and occasionally the well-reasoned columnists such as Oborne and the splenetic Hitchens

    The general public want health to come free, paid out of general taxation, so they don’t have to consider ignoring their symptoms. They clearly believe Cameron will defend their expectation and rebuff any move towards private insurance vouchers (in the form of tax relief)

  16. I agree with Frederic Stansfield that on present evidence we are in 1997 in reverse – the public have made their minds up. Could be proved wrong, of course, but I wouldn’t want to climb the mountain that Labour have to – I helped the Tories try do it in 1997 and its just soul destroying.
    On a different tack its very interesting seeing some youngish Labour supporters finding it difficult to face the fact that they are very likely to lose. Its 17 years since Labour lost a GE – three quarters of a generation. In 1997 it was 23 years since the Tories had lost one – a whole generation and that is why 1997 was so traumatic for the Tory party.

  17. Peter,

    Given that my home has a more northerly latitude than most of Watford, does that make me a “northerner” ? (My wife is a northerner anyway since she is Yorkshire born and bred.)

    Actualy, the correct dividing point is Watford Gap (on the Herts / Beds border on the M1) and not the town of Watford itself. This is the geographic point where the hills north of London give way to the plains of the East Midlands – and is more visibly noticeable on the A1(M) than the M1..Hence the origin of the phrase.


    Even YouGov lumps Wales in with the Midlands which makes the level of Plaid support difficult to track.

  18. @ Paul H-J

    Watford gap is actually further north than you say, it’s close to the Northamptonshire / Leicestershire border just to the south of Rugby

  19. John TT

    Who’s Yossi? What’s splenetic? If it means (with respect to Hitchens) something, similar to being without any common humanity or sense of justice then I will agree with you. By the way I’m a Sheffield Wednesday supporter and I’ve shopped at Hitchens in Attercliffe.
    I’ve also experienced a Third World Health System where a diagnosis is put on a piece of paper and one is directed to an office called estimates, where the cost of treatment is calculated and you are told that treatment will be started when 50% of the estimated cost is paid – if no payment – no treatment – often death results. Perhaps similar to the USA. The fact IS that 90% of the world’s population would give their right arm for something like the flawed, not perfect NHS. If the majority trust the Tories on the NHS they have short memories.

  20. Stevie – me too in Beijing. When the language barrier was finally breached and they realised I was insured, the price went up from £75 per day to £400 per day.

    The tories are counting on short memories – a lot of the people who said “I’ll never vote for them again” after 92 are dead now. Many new voters wil give them a chance, and the number of “never Labour again” voters is probably at its peak now.

    Splenetic simply means extremely irritable – think Neil Warnock on a reasonable day.

  21. The NHS has it’s problems but some form of state role is essential because without it the price to the public will always be set by what the market will bare.


  22. “The NHS has it’s problems but some form of state role is essential because without it the price to the public will always be set by what the market will bare.”

    Apart from which, there is a role for the state by virtue of it being an emergency service. Just as we do not ask if you have paid your council tax / insurance before sending a squad car or fire engine.

    The more pertinent question is not whether the state has a role, but what that role should be.

    I am not in favour of an insurance based structure (such as they have in USA and which Obama is effectively planning to make compulsory). That is not to say that there is not a role for private health insurance.

    On the subject of insurance, it is worth recalling that the very first Fire Brigades were established by insurance companies as a way of reducing their losses in the event of fire. It subsequently became clear that it is more effective to have a single publicly funded operation covering all buildings in a given area rather than competing companies each protecting “their” properties.

    That logic should apply equally to ambulance / A&E services, but different approaches could be adopted for various other types of health services (GP / primary; non-emergency surgery; maternity; dental; specialised clinics; palliative care; non-essential / cosmetic surgery; etc.). More to the point, the structure / availability / funding of such services need not necessarily be uniform or universal.

  23. Weighted Moving Average remains 41:25:19 so we’re basically back to where we were 3.5 months ago, with the CLead being very stable aroung 15/16 but support drifting back to both main parties.

    Election in about 8 months and in the last 8 months the CLead has ranged from 12-18 points, with the range over the last 4 months 14-18 points. Steady as she goes and there will be a C Majority of 60-100.

  24. Thanks, Jon Hughes

    John TT. I go down to the library and read most of the papers. And I do read “The Guardian” too. I agree the Mail has some good comments columns, even if I often disagree with them (likewise “The Guardian”). Also, I like the Scrabble game and the Notes and Queries page. And sometimes you can get the cost of the “Mail” back from its offers.

    Perhaps I ought to look at the “Mail’s” letters more carefully. “The Guardian”, like “The Independent” and “The Times”, has kindly published letters from me, but I have not yet tried out my views on “The Daily Mail”!

    Incidentally, I would find it uncomfortable to be identified as a reader of any particular paper. At present I don’t feel my views fit any of the political parties at all closely, and perhaps it is therefore not surprising that the same is true of me in relation our newspapers. I try to relate to the best from each of the papers.

  25. Still personally predicting 53 seat Con Majority but will be making my next forecast based on historic lead differences vs actual at the end of next week.

  26. In our discussion so far on this poll, we have overlooked a truly remarkable sentence in “The Guardian” article reporting this poll:-

    “The Conservatives lead Labour among all social classes and in all regions, although they are strongest among richer voters and those in the South.”

    Has a poll ever before reported that one of the two major parties is ahead of the other in every region? I doubt it. In the 1980s the country was polarised and Thatcherism never really took over the North, Scotland or Wales.

    I am particularly surprised if the Conservatives are ahead of Labour in the North-East. After all, Labour got more votes than the Tories there even in the recent European Elections. For the Conservatives to get ahead of Labour in the North-East, they would have to make some staggering gains.

    The implication of “The Guardian’s” statement that the Conservatives are ahead of Labour amongst all classes tends to confirm very suprising reports coming out on this website about constituencies where the Tories are beginning to look credible, for instance in South Yorkshire mining seats. Hemsworth is one that is being discussed as an example, and Ed Balls may not be safe in Morley. And when I have posted for such seats about how they relate to the national situation I have been surprised at the raw anger, against Labour and pro-Tory, expressed in local responses.

    I being to be puzzled the other way round. If Labour are on 25%, this includes large areas of Southen England where Labour are well under 20% in many seats. So there must be seats elsewhere where they are still getting over 40%. Which are they? Some inner city seats, for instance in Glasgow and Merseyside. Some of their safer seats in Scotland and Wales where the nationalists are not challenging, for example Aberavon. And perhaps some, but not all of their traditional Northern ex-mining areas, e.g. Easington.

    I think that as things stand Labour are going to lose more than 150 seats, partly because there is an “anybody but Labour” mood and partly because, as this ICM poll suggests, the swing from Labour to Conservative may be particularly high in seats with many working class seats.

    Incidentally, how bad could things get for Labour? I was looking at a book this morning that said the former communists got 16.5% in the East German elections held immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Surely Labour are not as bad as that!

    Finally, read that “Guardian” sentence again. It’s staggering.

  27. Even more suprising perhaps that the Tories nare still at only 41% – if they were ahead everywhere you would expect 48-50%

    I can’t see them being ahead in the North-East. The acid test will be Sunderland South, traditionally the first seat to declare on Election night. If that were to turn blue (can’t see it personally) then we will be in for one hell of a night!

  28. Andrew, Sunderland South has changed boundaries, and is now Sunderland Central. The Tories need a 17.8% swing to win it, which is more than this poll suggests. But I did indeed follow up my previous post on this thread by posting a comment for Sunderland. Also Hartlepool and the two Stockton seats.

    On the basis of this ICM poll, the Tories would win Stockton South easily, but Labour would just about hold onto Stockton North (but there is an issue because they have deselected Frank Cook, the current MP) and Sunderland Central. Hartlepool is the critical seat that would be on a knife-edge.

    I have previously pointed out that there are quite a few Labour seats which they would just save according to current opinion polls, If Labour lose just a couple more percentage points they will be getting down to their core of rather more than 100 seats.

    However, there are suggestions that Labour are doing particularly badly in their traditional areas and safe seats. This helps to explain statistically why the Tories can be ahead everywhere on 41% rather than 48% of the vote. It could also be bad news for Labour in palces like Sunderland and Stockton.

    Unlike you, Andrew, I am not surprised the Tories are not doing better. People are angry about the credit crunch and rising unemployment, and many people still see the Tories who will favour business and the rich financially. This is reflected in the rise of the Other vote (I am one of them, incidentally) who are looking for something new, as well as the deplorably low turnouts in recent elections.

    The Tories seem to be taking the line that it is the Government that lose elections, not oppositions that win them. The Conservatives are clearly doing well enough and need not take risks to get even further ahead.

    Perhaps a bigger surprise than the size of Conservative support is that the LibDems are under 20%, particularly given how well Vince Cable did during the banking crisis. But they do not seem to have an up-to-date message, and Clegg is outdone by Cameron as the goodlooking (reasonably) young politician (so far as I can tell as a man rather than a woman voter). Also, the polls are not fine-grained enough to tell us; but all the indications are that the LibDems are losing votes to the Tory bandwagon, whilst garnering a smaller number from Labour (for instance, in the North-East they may make gains in Newcastle).

    Given the returning officer’s decision to count on Friday in Norwich North, we may wonder how any seats are actually going to count on the Thursday night at the next election. I believe the problem relates to verifying postal votes. In any case, I am not sure how far we have got to grips with how the next election will go in the internet and mobile phone age. One of the causalties may be the election night TV programme – by-election night programmes have already gone for want of viewers. All this is worrying not only because we will lose some good entertainment (albeit we must remember the importance of elections for the lives of candidates), but because the involvement of younger voters in particular may be dissipated.

  29. P.s. As Andrew suggests the Tories should be on 48/49%, and I suggested, on an East German precedent, a 16.5% floor for an unpopular Government, I fed C 49.5%, Lab 16.5%, LibDem 19% into Tony’s swingometer and got the following prediction in terms of seats:-
    C 496 Lab 99 LibDem 25 Other 12 NI 18.
    By comparison, the ICM poll translates as seats into:-
    C 373 Lab 204 LibDem 43 Other 12 NI 18.

    Note that even with less of the vote than the LibDems Labour is still getting four times as many MPs, 99 of them. As Labour falls through the lower 20%s they lose a lot of MPs, but then they have a hard core of about 100 seats which are, according to historical statistics, almost impossible to shift. But on the precedent of 1931, and some recent indications, I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Historcal forecasts did not predict the credit crunch.

  30. Frederick,

    Caution. The “Regions” used by Polling companies do not map directly to the Government Office Regions (which are also used for Euro Eelctions).

    Anthony can perhaps verifiy the “boundaries” used by ICM, but it is likely that the NE is lumped in with Yorkshire and the NW. On that basis, it may still be the case that Labour leads in the NE – albeit not by much – as we saw in the Euros.

    As to “The Conservatives lead Labour among all social classes “, while this may come as a shock to many (including Labour HO), there has been increasing evidence that the traditional working-classes have been deserting Labour in droves. I doubt that Conservatives are at much above 30% in this group, with much of the votes going to “others” – a fair chunk of them to the BNP, but also to UKIP, Green and sundry left-wing groups.

    Finally, on the LDs, the failure to capitalise on Labour’s decline – in contrast to 2005 – needs to be taken in context of who is deserting Labour and why.

    In 2005 the big bonus for the LDs was Iraq, hence they picked up a lot of disaffected ex-Lab support from muslims and liberal/intellectual so-called progressives. This time the disenchantment with Labour is being felt across the spectrum, while Iraq has clearly diminished as an issue, yet to be replaced by Afghanistan, though that time may soon come if the current rate of attrition continues.

    The C1 and C2 voters who switched to Blair in 1997 are moving direct to Cons, while LDs have limited appeal to DE voters who prefer the more robust (if simplistic) appeal of the fringe parties.

  31. I believe that IDM use the following regions:

    South except London
    Midlands including Wales
    North including Scotland

    If this is the case, though I could be wrong, for the Conservatives to be ahead in the ‘North’ they would probably have a large lead in both Yorkshire and Lancashire as they would still be behind Labour in the north-east and Scotland.

  32. Frederick

    I was not suggesting that the Tories should be doing better (although personally I wish they were), more that I am surprised they are not given the news that they are ahead in every region.

    I agree with you that it would be good to see more of the “others” (with one exception perhaps!) and I think I would favour proportional representation.

    I feel that a lot more parties would get a look in and some interesting coalitions would form. We would see a lot more colour in politics rather than the current red or blue!

    I hope we don’t lose the BBC election night special – that would be a tragedy!

  33. Andrew,

    “I hope we don’t lose the BBC election night special – that would be a tragedy!”

    Is the tragedy that there be no BBC programme or is the BBC programme itself the tragedy ?

    I am sure that ITV will carry a much better programme with decent graphics and a more sensible less biased reaction to the actual results.

  34. Paul – you won’t find much disagreement from me on that one!

    The tragedy would be as previously suggested that the results aren’t declared until the Friday eliminating the need for an election night special (BBC or ITV) with results coming in and constant analysis and predictions. I really hope that never happens as I have been looking forward to election night for at least 3 years!

  35. Andrew,

    That’s just sad.


  36. Thursday night or Friday ?

    Well, the decision on when to hold the count lies with the returning officer – typically CEO of the relevant local authority. Factors to be taken into account include logistics, security and cost.

    The bureaucrats who want to delay the count for cost reasons demonstrate a total lack of understanding of the emotional element of democracy. If it was possible to count the votes overnight in the 1950s, why on earth should it not be done in the 21st century.

    If Cameron were to make clear to the CCA that councils should endeavour to count on Thursday except in those rural areas which have traditionally waited until Friday for practical reasons, then we could expect most Conservative run councils to count on Thursday night. As these far outnumber Labour councils, it would not matter what instructions or guidance the government issued.

    Moreover, Labour run councils may then feel obliged to follow suit – after all, Gordon would not want the overnight figure to be Con 250 Lab 0 with 350 seats yet to declare would he ?

    Finally, if, as seems likely, the GE should coincide with the May 2010 local elections (covers practically all of England bar a few unitaries) then it should be agreed that the two ballot papers should be separated, and the Westminster papers counted first (Thursday night) and the Council ballots counted on Friday.

    Note – if GE is on same day as locals this will inevitably delay the results in those areas with both, even if counted on Thursday. We may thus find that the first results come in from Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh rather than Sunderland or other English seats.

  37. Peter – actually make that 12 years :)

  38. Thanks folks for the correction about regional analyses. I did indeed assume that ICM would use the same regional divisions as the Government (and I think they ought to, although I realise there are issues about sample size). If ICM only use four regions it is not so surprising that the Conservatives should lead Labour in all of them.

    My misunderstanding did at least make me look at some Durham seats which may not have been receiving much attention recently on this site, but which currently look to be in the balance between Labour and Conservative.

    I have particular objection to combining either Scotland or Wales with English regions for analysis purposes. Because of the presence of nationalist parties specific to Scotland and Wales, and constituting a substantial proportion of the vote there, these countries/regions cannot be legitimately combined with English regions as statisitcially the sample is not then being drawn from a homogeneous population. (And yes, this applies to the total GB figures too). And historically Scotland and Wales have often behaved differently from England in relation to voting intentions and indeed actual General Election voting.

    I’m glad people have picked up the issue about election night. Could I point out that similar issues apply during and indeed before the election? The campaign will use different technology – websites, Twitter, Facebook etc – from any previous election. The availability of such information will affect who is involved in the election and how there voting intentions are formed. I think that when we comment on threads for individual seats, particularly, we tend to think of opinions being changed and, perhaps more, voters being got out to the polls, by traditional street campaigning etc., complemented by newspapers and local radio. It ain’t so. It is noticeable that the more clued up candidates are already maximising their use of means of making themsleves known on-line to their voters. I don’t think we have discussed the psephological implications of this nearly enough.

    P.S. Paul H-J. I used to live in Cardiff and have pointed out that for a compact city they have in the past been perhaps surprisingly slow to declare their results. I don’t recollect Glasgow counting quickly either. Wrexham is traditionally the first Welsh seat to declare.

  39. Frederick,

    My point was more general rather than results from any specific seat – only quoted Sunderland as they have a track record in the race for early declarations.

    Thanks for the tip about Wrexham. But then, as one of the smallest seats in the country, its obviously easier to count 30k votes than 50k or more…

    On the other hand, they may find themselves in a recount situation (we may see a lot of those next time, not just due to close results, but as Labour incumbents refuse to believe they have not won) and this could delay the declaration. Wrexham was one of the many Welsh seats in which Cons beat Lab.

  40. “Wrexham was one of the many Welsh seats in which Cons beat Lab.”

    At the 2009 Euros that is.