ICM March poll

ICM’s March poll for the Guardian has another double digit Conservative lead – the topline figures are CON 41%(+1), LAB 31%(+2), LDEM 18%(-3). The increasingly regular hypothetical voting intention question on how people would vote with Brown as Labour leader as usual showed a larger Conservative lead – in this case CON 43%, LAB 28%, LD 18%.

56 Responses to “ICM March poll”

  1. Correction: I’m getting a 104 seat majority using the Wells calculator, not 188. Benedict White reports your calculator saying just a 98 seat majority, has it changed? http://aconservatives.blogspot.com/2007/03/conservatives-build-massive-poll-lead.html

    Either way, it’d be a landslide and clearly an outright majority.

  2. Phillip,I personally extropolated the GB v DC poll seat-by -seat,reading through the lists of marginals,with appoopriate swing data having been calculated;upon such meticulous preparation,I assure you the 98 seat Tory majority is correct-the full result would be:
    Tories 374 seats,Labour 213 seats,Lib Dems 35 seats,Others 28 seats

  3. I just entered the numbers (43 28 18) into the Spreadsheet I downloaded of Anthony’s link, and that says: Tory 377, Lab 208, LDem 35, Oth 30. Conservative majority 104.

  4. The WMA is creeping up: 39:31:18 C Lead 8.3 a record. Possibly more interesting the interpolated results suggest that this may be under-estimating the C lead: the ICM/Sunday Mirror poll in March (40:29:21) that seemed to be over-estimating the C lead by 2.8% now appears to have been wrong by only 1.8% (this is inevitable when opinion shifts because the WMA will always be lagging) so my guess is that we’re really at 40:31:18. This is still in theory a hung parliament (319:260:40:31) but it’s very close to a C majority. Also I really don’t think the country would actually allow a Hung Parliament with such a big C lead. (BTW The blatant unfairness of the present boundaries is illustrated by the fact that 31:40:18 would produce a Lab majority of 126!)

  5. Patrick – I’m not sure how you can say that the history of the last 40 years shows “Same old Tories,same old mess,told you so’-and result-the Tories are voted straight back out after one term “. I think Edward Heath’s government was the only Tory administration since the war to be voted out of office after one term – and it took two elections in 1974 to do that. All other Tory governments (50s/ 60s and 80s/90s) were much more durable.

  6. I always do changes in vote share from the last comparable poll by the same pollster – in this case it was ICM’s recent poll for the Sunday Mirror, not their last Guardian poll.

    On the swing calculator, there could be old versions of the spreadsheet floating around. I finishing fighting with php and I’ll be putting up a nice web based version of the swingometer soon so everyone knows they are using the same figures.

    (In fact, why delay? Go here – http://www.ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/swingcalculator.html)

  7. I do believe Anthomy is right to be sceptical about Brown vs Cameron questions (epecially after watching Frank Luntz’s latest Newsnight appearance)

    However I do get the feeling that if the polls continue to drift in this way, just may be, just may be than the crowning of King Gordon may not be such a forgone conclusion.

    The question that needs to be asked is not what do the British public think today, but rather what do labour backbenchers think the public might think tomorrow…

  8. Adam – the flaw in your argument is that the polling companies have radically changed their methodology in the last 10 years. So the tired old argument that “the Tories should be further ahead if they want to win” may not hold water any more!

    It was irritating to hear Peter Kellner spouting this argument on R4 this week – he should know better. But straight after his “The Tories should be 15% ahead” argument, we are now 15% ahead! lol

  9. This debate in intriguing, the Labour Party will not vote for a Leader simply based on who can win. The Blair experience has tainted that, and as with the Tory leadership battle at the beginning, the Party membership’s views do not necessarily tally with the views of the wider electorate. Therein the leadership candidates need to appeal to two very different audiences.

    I would argue that the future for the Conservatives looks very bleak over the long term, there opinion poll ratings are not as good as Labour’s were in similar periods in the 1980s and 90s, and even if the methodology of polls has changed, the fact that this government is so seemingly unpopular according to the press and still polls 31.32% on a regular basis means at the very least a 34.35% showing in a General Election. The old guard of the Tories hasn’t gone away, they may have got cute by selecting more electable candidates, but in association after association, the line the ‘same old Tories’ is still so very true. Labour did at least radically alter its whole, not just its image.

    I would argue that the deciding factor will be the Lib Dems, can they hold off Tory challenges to maintain their number of MP’s, drawing away Tory resources from a straight Labour Tory battle. The real test is tactical voting. Will center left and center supporters in the UK continue to combine in ways that defeat Tories at a local level? It’s a big question?

    Labour need to move on a generation in Leadership too. Jonathan Edwards and Barak Obama in the US are very successfully talking the politics of ‘hope’, a very positive message. Labour needs a young, intellectually weighty, but charasmatic leader. David Miliband fits the bill, but is it too early for him?

  10. Simon: ‘I do believe Anthomy is right to be sceptical about Brown vs Cameron questions’

    How many ‘worse with Brown’ results are needed before it becomes a clear pattern?

  11. Anthony,

    Any indication from thee figures how the Tories are doing from Scotland. Press opinion still sems to be that they are stalled.

    It will be interesting to see if Labours campaign that an SNP victory will lead to conflicts between Brown and Salmond, will make Tories vote tactically for the SNP to make things difficult for Brown.


  12. Too much clutching at straws all round. Couldn’t we do with more hard-headed realism and less “I wish”?

  13. Brown will be very worried that his rating as leader is the same as Labour polled in 1983, with the Tories on 43%.

    I suppose he’ll be saying to himself, “Hang on, I’ve just produced 10 years of solid growth, with no recessions at all.”

  14. Ralph,

    The pattern is clear and undeniable, thats not what troubles me about these questions.

    One of the newsnight panel summed it up quite nicely when she replied to a Frank Luntz challenge about her praise for his chancellorship vs doubts as a PM. “… yes, but that is as number two, not a a leader that’s different…”

    If and when GB becomes PM, then people like her will re-assess in the light of experience and change their minds (e.g. early years John Major).

    It was clear she had a postive view about him as Chancellor but was waiting to be convinced about him as a PM. Therefore all he has to do is not screw up and he will convert that one doubter.

    I suspect she is not alone, and that is why the David vs Gordon question is a doubtful one in my view

  15. When people say, they are going to vote Tory they do vote Tory. Generations of people now know what an authoritarian socialist government is in reality, not what the BBC and the rest of the state controlled media told them it would be for 18 years.

    They see now what common sense should have told them. That is that government is not the answer IT IS THE PROBLEM.

    A Labour government gets into power to show that government works, and always fails.

    A Conservative governmnet gets into power to show that government is a failure, and always succeeds.

    Winston Churchill

    A wise statesmen promisses nothing but blood and sweat. The truth is more honest and is more induring.

  16. Anthony: That is a very nice and clear page thank you. Interesting to see Northern Ireland removed from “Other”. Would it be possible to get a line added in to the bottom stating the overall majority? EG I believe yours would now be saying “Conservative Majority 106” on those figures.

    Andy: I hope this isn’t too political but Brown hasn’t produced anything, except for structural deficits in the economy. The reforms that enabled the decade of growth were done before he took over. Including, yes, the recessions under the Tories which are a necessary evil to allow future growth (can’t grow in the future if half the population is stuck in unneeded, unproductive jobs only kept alive due to state support). The one good reform Brown did was removing from himself the control over interest rates.

  17. Anthony – sorry to go off topic but can you tell me if and when YouGov will publish details of the poll carried out by them that was subsequently leaked by the SNP to the Times? Or indeed if they have to publish it at all.

  18. Simon,

    Though you have a good point but I can’t see how what you suggest would cover all the gap as the same ‘doubts as PM’ must apply equally to both Cameron and Brown to varying degrees.

    I just think some people don’t like Brown.

  19. Anthony – another off topic one, but the RSS feed appears to have broken again, in the same way as it did over Christmas.

  20. Jono – damn, it’s the flash graph a couple of posts below. I thought it broke before because I put more than one graph in a single post, but it must object to just a single one. When I get chance I’ll replace it with a static picture.

    Max – it wasn’t based on a YouGov poll apparantly, it was a SNP projection based on ICM’s most recent Scottish polling figures.

    Philip – there will be a nice majority line at the moment when it’s finished, but I thought what the hell, it’s usuable now so I might as well let it go live.

  21. Ralph,

    I tend to agree, in that given how long he has been around, people must by now have made up there minds about Brown. Having said that Cameron hasn’t made a major mistake yet.


    there hasn’t actually been a majorpoll in Scotland since ICM on 31st jan, so regardless of whatthe SNP poll says i expect a raft of them over the next week or so., And certainly with a month to go, round about the 3rd of April.


  22. To be fair to Brown, I think it may be a like of Cameron rather than a dislike of him. Remember that a normal poll doesn’t say “Blair and Cameron”, but the named poll does say “Brown and Cameron”.

    It is entirely possible that if the regular voting intention poll was named then you’d see just the same further swing towards Cameron’s Conservatives.

    Indeed I believe a poll has been done before naming Blair and Cameron like that, and it did get a further swing like all the Brown-named ones do.

    So it might not be Brown’s fault or a dislike of him. Not that its likely to help him.

  23. Sorry to double-post, but I think a further factor to consider is a potential bit of mischievousness by some Labour supporters.

    With the Labour leadership up in the air it must be tempting for a Milliband etc supporter if asked to not name Brown’s Labour party, to boost your own candidates chances. And vice-versa in the rare polls where Milliband, Reid etc are named for Brown’s supporters not to pick their own party.

    When the leadership question is out of the way within a few months, and well before the next election, Labour should unify under whoever is leader – just like Davis fell in behind Cameron once the election was out of the way.

    Just an idea, but it could explain the missing 2%

  24. Peter , there was the ICM/Scotsman Feb poll which was not that dissimilar ti the Jan one .

  25. Thanks Anthony – The Times must have got it wrong then – the full story was only in the Scottish edition and refereed to a You Gov poll carried out around the 20th February – so at a later date than the last ICM Scottish poll.

  26. Anthony/Max but there is on the Yougov website the results of an SNP commissioned poll on Scottish attitudes to Tony Blair . Would be surprised if there was not also a voting intention question asked also .
    Anthony – what has happened to the BrandIndex figures for W/E 16th March ?

  27. Mark – just been told they aren’t up, they should be appearing very soon (they are intersting actually, there is a sizable drop in Cameron’s ratings on the back of the flight taxing announcements).

    Philip – actually, the YouGov/Sunday Times poll also did a question with the three current party leaders. It had three voting intention questions.

    1) The standard, if there was an election tomorrow, question:
    CON 38%, LAB 32%, LDEM 16%

    2) A question asking about the next election “up to three years away”, if the leaders were Brown, Cameron, Campbell
    CON 41%, LAB 31%, LDEM 13%

    3) A question about the next election, imagining that Blair stayed, so that the leaders were Blair, Cameron, Campbell
    CON 39%, LAB 31%, LDEM 15%.

    So, part of the swing does seem to be down to naming Cameron as Tory leader (though that question could have a swing because people are recoiling from the idea of another term of Tony Blair), but more seems to be down to a negative reaction to Gordon Brown.

  28. Responding to Harry Scott Parker: “It is extraordinary for a party that has been in power for 10 years has absolutely no big hitters at all other than Gordon Brown.
    Contrast this to the Thatcher government- Howe, Lawson, Heseltine, Hurd, Major, Whitelaw, Tebbit and Clarke were all big hitting, clunking fists that could have led the Tory party. There is nothing like this variety in New Labour- its soul has been destroyed.”

    How many of the public can name any of the current Tory front bench, aside from Cameron and possibly Hague or less likely Davis? Remove Cameron from the picture and the Tories would be in trouble. Compare this to the equivalent point in 1994 when Brown, Cook, Straw and several others had a high public profile on the Opposition front bench.

  29. this is becoming real fun again.lefties scrambling to say the tories did something awful a couple of decades ago.

    the expected brown bounce,now looks more likely to be a dump.
    do you really think nobody goes to a hospital,schools or looks at their shrinking pensions.how can he can divorce himself for this debacle.they aleady know who he is.a bounce would be possible if he had been a milliband figure,relatively unknown.the british people do not like assumtive politics.

    the confirmation of the large lead has got you all wrong footed as you now have your head in the sands.labour are fantastic and have never made any mistakes.take a look outside your window.

    milliband and balls(great name ) will have plenty of time to restructure your party in opposition.

  30. John McG.

    Now you are just being childish.

    Brown will struggle but not because he has been a disaster or because people think he won’t be a good PM. The amount he can spend on public services will soon slow to a trickle, and we are not going to see the economic expansion that we have.

    A lot of his”End to Boom and Bust” has actually been a long slow debt driven boom, with rising house prices and equity release fuelling consumer spending. That has created a lot of service jobs and reduced unemployemnt and raising rtax revenue at the same time.

    We have also seen an increase in the working population through immigration particularly in the last few years from Eastern Europe, and PFI has allowed in the shortterm a lot of new schools and hospitals to be built.

    Higher public spending is what people wantedbecause they were told and believed it would give them better schools and hospitals.

    But the problems that has created rocketing house prices and high levels of personnel debt are now comming home to roost, and that is what will get him.

    It’s not that he’s done badly but that people expect there wealth, living standards and public services to continue to increase at the rate they have come to expect for ever, and no chancellor or government can do that.


  31. It’s strange to see a lifelong socialist like Brown cutting income tax by 2 pence.

  32. No he did not. I have done the maths and he has moved income tax to national insurance that is all.

  33. And if you are on about £7,000 a year, say 24 hours a week on the minimum wage it’s actually a tax rise….


  34. Another spin would be that Brown has doubled the income tax rate as a result of his consolidation of the starting and basic rates of tax. This is not good news for the lowest paid in society

    Interestingly it doesn’t come in until 2008 – IF Labour get a budget and Brown boost then a snap election, before people realise the full implication of the realignment, could come back into play

  35. Clever spin by Brown to say the 10% tax rate was “abolished”, which is now the language that the BBC etc are all using to say it too. I’d have thought that abolished meant going down to 0, sounds much better than saying “the starting rate of tax has been doubled from 10″ to 20%”

    And headline news as well that “corporation tax is being cut by 2%”, glossing over that corporation tax for small companies is going UP by 2%. I do believe only companies that make a net profit over £300k count for the higher rate, most companies in the UK actually fall under the lower rate which is increasing.

    So very odd budget indeed. Doubling tax on low income earners, increasing tax on small companies, to cut tax for middle income and cut tax on large companies. By no means socialist, but possibly good politics. And certainly a lot of spin involved, which the media seem to have hooked so a Brown bounce is likely probably in this weekends Yougov poll.

  36. The only thing wrong with Brown, to be honest, is that he’s boring. Who would voluntarily want to hear him speak? Now Cameron is not great–Hague was far superior–but he leaves Brown well behind. I am speaking of media spin issues here of course…

  37. Hague was good in the Commons and at PMQ’s, but he wasn’t such a good party leader. Especially harking on constantly about the pound, which last I checked we still have.

    Which is a shame I think, Hague could have been a good leader, he has many of the right qualities. But I think he could still make an excellent cabinet minister for PM Cameron.

    And most of Brown’s hour of the budget was boring I thought, but the thing that matters for most people – the 10 second soundbite on the news – was anything but. He’s learning.

  38. Philip: ‘Clever spin by Brown’

    Not really if the media do their job and report what he has actually done. Of course a large section of it hasn’t.

    With the positive media coverage, and the tax ‘cut’ soundbite he should get a bounce. I wonder what will happen if he doesn’t.

  39. It could actually back fire on brown. Up to now he was the Iron Chancellor, who didn’t play fast and loose with the economy for electoral gain.

    Now we see him effectively adopting tax changes the Tories have asked for and going for a headline grabbing tax cut in his last budget.

    That won’t exactly boost the confidence of the City, although it will probably help him with labour back benchers, who i suspect were the people he was aiming it at.


  40. this budget punishes the poor and helps the rich, if the Conservatives had written it there would be howls of disapproval on the Labour benches.

  41. To Phil Thompson:

    Re: “And headline news as well that “corporation tax is being cut by 2%”, glossing over that corporation tax for small companies is going UP by 2%.”

    It’s actually up 3p not 2p (from 19p to 22p). See how easy it is to be totally misled by the clown in Number 11.


  42. A highly skilful and politically astute performance by Brown; Cameron seemed immature, amateurish and out of his depth in comparison. A political giant with gravitas against a boisterous pigmy.

  43. As a former opinion pollster (in charge of Harris polls, 1986-94) I would enter strong doubts about the increasing tendency to give equal (or more ) publicity to ‘Brown v Cameron’ figures over the standard voting intention percentages.
    Stressing any one element which may affect how electors may vote illegitimately distorts the true picture. We (still) do not have a presidential system in the UK, and the influence of the party leaders is routinely over-estimated by the media, pundits, and politicians themselves. If any one indicator were to be identified as key, other than the straight voting intention, my experience still suggests that the best question as a predictor is “which party do you trust most to handle the economy”.
    At least I guess these questions will dry up when the new Prime Minister is in place. The artificiality of the current findings may then become clear. All the academic evidence (e.g. British Election Study) is that Tony Blair has been a significant electoral disadvantage for Labour since at least 2003, so the suggestion Labour’s position will initially be weaker under Brown is implausible.
    As for how the longer term picture will be revealed, there is plenty of time to tell. Current polls tell us virtually nothing about the likely result in 2009 or 2010.

  44. For those bored it’s worth noting that in Australia the NSW state election has been held with the comfortable return of the Labor Party (after 12 years already in power). All state governments have been Labor for ages. With a federal system there is tendency to have one party in power for the National Government then-a plague on you theory-people vote against you at the next level down. I suspect this tendency is starting to develop in Wales and Scotland… This has to be part of the SNP strength. And it will remain a strength for them; there will always be a vote against English control at Westminster by the Scottish and devolution has massively increased the emotional appeal of this argument.

    (Technically there is a theory it would have been better for the Conservatives to win so that NSW would vote against the Conservatives at the forthcoming national election…

  45. Jack,

    Interesting. There is a some parallel with local council results in UK. But note that the local councils did not start swinging back to the Conservatives until after they had lost power at Westminster. Likewise, I would have been surprised that the party in power at Federal level would win State elections from the opposition until after they had lost power at Federal level.

    Re Scotland, I would initially agree with you, but it is worth noting that this will be the third set of elections to the devolved Parliament, and whilst it is probable that the SNP may emerge as the largest party, they are unlikely to reach the number of seats which Labour enjoyed in the first two parliaments, and will fall far short of an overall majority. Likewise in Wales, Labour are likely to need a coalition partner after 3rd May, but unless there is a rainbow coalition of C/LD/PC, they will still lead the next administration. If they are no longer the largest party that really would be big news.

    Incidentally, when oh when are we going to get a proper poll in Wales ? However fascinating the battle in Scotland, the Welsh results will actually be a better guide to trends for a general election since the Conservatives are real contenders in a greater proportion of seats. (1st in 3, 2nd in 16,of which 14 Lab, out of 40 in 2005 vs 1+15(but only 7 Lab)/59 in Scotland). Plus the Welsh assembly will be the first election on the new Westminster boundaries, while Holyrood is on the old (72 seat) boundaries.

    Paul H-J