ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 40%(nc), LAB 29%(-1), LDEM 21%(+3). Changes are from ICM’s last poll, which was conducted straight after the Hoon-Hewitt “coup”.

Clearly there is no significant change in the Conservative or Labour vote, apart from a temporary Conservative drop into the high 30s in November they seem to be settling into a pretty steady 40-30 sort of pattern. The Lib Dems however are up to 21%, their highest support in a poll for a couple of months.

In other questions, we’ve seen several recent polls that suggested the public evenly split over whether they supported a tax allowance for married couples. ICM asked something subtly different – whether people supported a tax cut for “couples with children” – that found 65% support with only 29% opposition. We’ll have to check the actual wording of the question for that one to see whether it actually refered to married couples with children (which would seem the sensible thing to ask, but is not how the Guardian described it).

ICM also asked what class they associated the parties with, but the Guardian’s report doesn’t really tell us enough to judge the results. Apparently 57% of people saw the Conservatives as being for either everyone or the middle class, with 48% saying the same for Labour. Just under a third see Labour as the party of the working class, and an unspecified “substantial minority” see the Conservatives as the party of the upper class.

The poll also asked my favourite “time for a change” question. The latest figures show 66% think it’s time for a change of government, with 25% who want to stick with Labour. That’s down from the last time ICM asked the question in March last year when 69% thought it was time for change, but not by very much – it remains a substantial majority.

Finally ICM asked whether Gordon Brown had made the recession better or worse – 43% said he helped the situation, 50% said he made things worse.

36 Responses to “January’s ICM/Guardian poll”

  1. I think the Iraq enquiry may have rallied up the lib dem vote as the Lib Dems all voted against the Iraq war.

  2. Jim,

    “as the Lib Dems all voted against the Iraq war.”

    Oh I suspect there might have been some people in all those votes who had other reasons to vote LibDem or even supported the war but still voted LibDem.

    There are people who don’t want to be in the EU who vote tory and people who oppose Trdient who vote Labour…..

    The time for change is still the elephant in the room for Labour as when it comes into play in the election ( and it will) I can’t see how Labour can counter it.


  3. With Blair and Brown both set to give evidence in coming weeks I wonder if the Iraq Inquiry could see Labour dropping down to the mid 20’s and the Lib-Dems rising to the mid 20’s in the coming weeks?

    Conservatives probably won’t move from around 40% where they are extremely solid, but Labour supporters moving to the Lib-Dems because of Iraq being brought back into their minds could be enough to give us some 15%+ Tory leads through late winter/early spring? 40/25/25 may be a possibility in the next month or so?

  4. @Anthony Wells

    Just read this on Bloomberg & wondered if u were a YouGov pollster? or r they making assumptions!
    “The opposition needs a winning margin of 10 percentage points to control Parliament, according to Anthony Wells, a YouGov pollster.”

  5. Nostra – I am indeed. That’s what the “in association with YouGov” in the corner of the site is – I own and run the site, the in association with YouGov is they pay my wages for my day job!

  6. “the in association with YouGov is they pay my wages for my day job!”

    He’s one of the cleaners…..


  7. Thanks Anthony, sorry if I tee’d up cllr Peter for that cheap shot ! :-)

  8. @ GIN

    I would doubt that the hearings would have such a dramatic effect on the votes. Obviously we are yet to have the big guns come out yet but i would say that the hearings so far have been a bit of a damp squib, with no as much reporting as i would have expected. The effect so far has been negligible with Labour only dropping one (going by this poll) and the Lib Dems picking up some form elsewhere. Maybe the problem for the Lib Dems is that they have a different team from 2003. When i think of the principled Lib Dem opposition to the war i think mainly of Charlie Kennedy. When i think of Nick Clegg i find all thoughts suddenly drift from my mind.

    But maybe that’s just me and maybe the hearings will have a big effect, but even then i doubt it would be long lasting. Iraq is very much a reduced issue now from five odd years ago. Maybe someone can dig out on of those polls where people rate the issues but i don’t seem to remember Iraq featuring massively highly.

  9. It seems Dave is taking his serial air brushing like a man!!!

    Alec will no doubt be impressed, won’t he?

  10. Jim, I am one of those who refrained from voting in 2005 after voting Labour all my life, in large part due to the Iraq invasion. It’s just that I didn’t vote LibDem either. I just didn’t vote. Therefore I would not be expected to automatically support the LibDems now just because it is in the media. I do not think I am the only one in this position.

  11. Keith – maybe not you, but there will have been some who switched from Lab to Lib in 2005 over Iraq, and the enquiry will remind them why they did so.

    I agree with the idea that most people seem to have made up their minds, as the polls have been so consistent for so long.. perhaps the Tories should subtly boost the Libdems at Labour’s expense, because I think 40-25-25 would be much better for them than 40-30-20.

    Re the class question – surely this is really a question about whether the prospective voter thinks that the party in question is for them or not. e.g. a voter considering himself to be working class would think it was good that Labour were considered to be for the working class, whereas a voter considering himself middle class would not.

    Re the recession question – it’s quite a coup for Labour that 43% think that Brown helped the situation, whereas in reality he had a large part in causing it, because of the lax financial regulation that he introduced.

  12. Labour aren’t controlling the flow of information in a way that benefits them.

    ‘Bad news’ like the inflation rise arrives like a bolt out the blue.

    ‘Good news’ (which isn’t even confirmed) like the 4th quarter growth is dribbled out & done to death – which greatly reduces its impact on voters.

    Labour need to get a grip on this if they want to win on the economy.

  13. No I think that the only reason Labour polled higher than their actual votes last time was because many people said they would vote Labour but just did not vote. I think (But don’t know for sure) alot of Asian people might have voted Lib Dem after the Iraq war. I was in Newcastle 2005 and Labour almost lost their seat there. I do think quite a few Labour voters have been lost to voting forever which is a pity.

  14. As a card-carrying LibDem, I would love to believe that this is the start of a trend & that the Chilcot enquiry will benefit the LibDems.

    However, realism intrudes and I believe this poll just shows minor fluctuations around the vote shares we have been seeing for a couple of months. One poll isn’t a trend. The Iraq war is history and I doubt there are many votes in it in the 2010 election.

  15. @ Jim Roland

    “I think that the only reason Labour polled higher than their actual votes last time was because many people said they would vote Labour but just did not vote”

    From what I glean from poll analysis and other reporting, apathy is a major factor in this coming election, particularly in labour ranks, which is a great pity. Elections should be won, or lost, on effort, not stay at home apathy.

  16. I am curious for opinions, about how the Social survey announced today, suggesting that only 50%, of a survey of 4000+ would bother to vote will effect the figures. What is the figure factored in by the pollsters

  17. @ BarryP – apathy is a political choice too. If people decide they can’t be bothered to vote then they have, in effect, decided to leave matters to others to decide. It’s not an admirable choice but it is a choice.

  18. I would like to pick up on GLENN OTTO’s point about apathy and link this with the ICM result showing 66% of people polled want a change in goverment.
    Could it be concluded that that this combination will lead to a much higher Tory win than expected?

  19. Growth of 0.1% in 3 months is pathetically weak and will feel recessionary – I would not expect the Labour share to increase on the back of it – quite the opposite.

  20. @ James Ludlow

    “…..then they have, in effect, decided to leave matters to others to decide”

    And that then leaves the door open for them, if things get worse in the economic climate etc. to offer, “Well, I didn’t put them in”

  21. I am suprised, nay shocked, that no one has picked up on the planet destroying news in the Guardian poll that the Conservatives are the party of the middle class and upper class.
    However disinterested a person may in politics, I would have thought that was a given. On a serious note I cannot help thinking the good news for Cleggy is Iraq based and talking of class based politics, isn’t it a worry for Labour that so few see them as the party of the working class these days?
    The Guardian headline is a hoot. Something like “Tories losing battle of class war” or some such. The article goes on to say that most people consider themselves to be middle class anyway. Therefore, on that basis the the Tories are the party of most people. Probably not what they wanted to say really.

  22. WMA 40:29:19 as I said all along the CLead is a stable 11, no significant 1- or 2-month trend.

  23. I’m really disapointed at only a 0.1% growth rate, it will probably go up to 0.3% but still as we only have christmas once a year and VAT has gone up I think we may have a double dip reccession. I really hope not.

  24. What’s interesting about the polls right now is their robustness to what the newswatchers see as significant developments. We have seen Labour shrug off the Hoowitt mini-coup, the PBR and the news of yet another British company falling into overseas hands. We have also seen the Tories shrug off poor PMQ performances and the flak over the posters and the marriage tax support. While there has been a fall in the Tory lead since last Spring, it seems to have steadied at 10-11% and it is hard at this point to see what will shift this one way or the other.

    My sentiments exactly Jim. The double U reccession has been a possibility all along and this increase is derisory. It will probably hurt GB almost as much as remaining in negative growth.

    I think you and your brothers and sisters have cause for some optimism Derek. This Chilcot thing is not going to send Blair to a war crimes court, but, your leadership will not be backwards in coming forwards to put the boot in as often as possible. The latest on the economy could only be very slightly more disappointing and it would only take GB to make a mess of his Chilcot appearance for the LD’s to make headway. What price
    C 41 L24 LD24. Now that really would set you of about PR.

  27. Surely the headline “Britain out of Recession” is enough. People don’t really care about the finer points of economic policy.

    I don’t see any evidence for there being a 41/25/25 split. We haven’t come anywhere near that figure for a while and i think everyone is coming round to the idea that the figures are going to stick somewhere round the 40/30/20 mark. I highly doubt if the Lib Dems will make any headway form Chilcot.

    @ Roland Haines
    I agree that you would expect the Lib Dems to come forward to put the boot in as much as possible. I just disagree about the leadership bit because I just don’t think anyone listens to Nick Clegg. He has to be the most ineffectual and unnoticeable leader of a political party since IDS.

    As always its the way the TV news presents the economic news.
    “We are out of reccession and looking forward to growth”. Or,
    “We have crawled out of reccession by just one% point, experts say future uncertain”. IMPO, the negative 2nd version will be more likely and damaging. As for Nick Clegg, I cannot say I am a great fan, and only the LDs could have Big Vince on board and yet have Clegg as leader. But between them, I feel they will cause maximum aggrevation for Labour.

  29. Hmm, I’ll have to come down on the side of saying that Iraq will not be a deciding factor at this election. Labour lost a lot of votes over it in 2005, but significantly when concentrated in key seats (Bethnal Green and Bow, anyone?)

    A fraction of the lost vote has drifted back as the pain of Iraq recedes. Labour stands an excellent chance of winning back BG&B from Respect (and , as someone who thinks Gorgeous George is a self-aggrandising demagogue , that will be sweet victory).

    A larger fraction of that vote is permanently alienated, whether to apathy or Lib Dems.

    But it is extremely unlikely that any voter now, three months before an election in which the economy looms over all, will decide to abandon Labour as a result of Iraq.

  30. I agree with Jack Cornish that a 41/25/25 split is exceedingly unlikely. The economic disaster continuing and a Brown appearance at the inquiry might, between them, drag Labour down to about 27. I feel, however, that between now and the election the two main parties are not going to lose significant support, unless something really major happens. As for the Libdems’ chances of exceeding their 2005 share – get real. It just isn’t going to happen. I think 20% would be a good share for them in the GE.

  31. @ Barry – “And that then leaves the door open for them, if things get worse in the economic climate etc. to offer, “Well, I didn’t put them in””

    To which the only response is to shrug and say “You should have got off your fat behind and voted then”


  32. @ James Ludlow

    “To which the only response is to shrug and say “You should have got off your fat behind and voted then”

    My sentiments entirely

  33. What is interesting is that the others are down to 10%.
    UKIP on 2%, BNP 1% (ha,ha,ha)

    While not a fan of Clegg, to say you “would expect the Lib Dems to come forward to put the boot in as much as possible.” rather ignores the reality.

    Put Clegg on as lead story on prime time BBC news and he’d be lucky to be seen by 4 million people.

    None of the papers (except the Independent) give anything like fair or extensive coverage of the Lib Dems.

    Lib Dems are regularly excluded form Question Time and Any Questions, but as the audience is about 1 million and usually partisan, perhaps no great loss.

    Give everyone 6 months of Conservative government and you’ll see Cleggs approval rating soaring, and it won’t be because Clegg is doing anything different.

  34. Can we really be that tough on people who don’t vote?

    We have a system where really only about two million votes matter, if that.

    Of six hundred and sixty or so seats about one hundred or so will decide the outcome.

    The only two parties that have a realistic chance of winning increasingly triangulate on the same policies for the same floating voters in those seats.

    If only 20% of voters in 20% of the seats matter and increasingly that 5% of the electorate are the focus of the main parties attentions, can you really be surprised that about one in three of the rest aren’t interested in parties that don’t seem interested in them?

    Sure the policies that are designed to appeal to floating voters in the marginals have wider appeal but that begs the question;

    If the policies aren’t that dissimilar and they still only apply to an, all be it substantial, minority just exactly what is it large numbers of people who aren’t being focused on or considered supposed to be going out and voting for?

    A possible answer;

    There civic duty to go out there and make not a jot of difference to deciding which party that isn’t interested in them gets to run the country as if they don’t exist?

    As an active party member and elected politician I don’t see it that way but I meet a lot of people that do and maybe turnout reflects that just as the voters gets the politicians it deserves so two do politicians get the electorate they deserve.

    Is it really their fault that they find so much of what we produce unexciting.

    It’s a bit like a Chef complaining that his restaurant is quite because his missing customers don’t appreciate his expensive mundane food.


  35. Peter Cairns – couldn’t agree more. The situation is probably better in Scotland because of the presence of the SNP and 3-party marginals, but many people in England can’t see much difference between any of the 3 main parties, and hence the main reason to vote is because ‘it is time for a change’. If a person is so disillusioned that he doesn’t even think a change will make any significant difference, he might well abstain.

  36. Pete,
    Right now I think things are better up here. Not great but better.

    The reason, well in part it’s the SNP ( Yes I know I would say that) because we are a broad church prty in th way that Labour and the Tories aren’t. Thr Libdems try to be and I think want to be but they just don’t seem to manage it.

    More importantly we have a PR parliament and a minority government a combination that means that you have to both in debate and in elections you have to address all of the electorate over the whole country so if you don’t develop that wide appeal and maintain it you won’t win.

    The question perhaps should be FPTP gives us strong stable government but does it increasingly risk giving us bland or even indifferent government.