ICM released their final monthly voting intention poll of 2015 yesterday, with topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 3%. I assume it’s the last voting intention poll we will see before Christmas. The full tables are here, where ICM also make an intriguing comment on methodology. They write,

For our part, it is clear that phone polls steadfastly continue to collect too many Labour voters in the raw sample, and the challenge for phone polling is to find a way to overcome the systematic reasons for doing so. The methodological tweaks that we have introduced since the election in part help mitigate this phenomenon by proxy, but have not overcome the core challenge. In our view, attempting to fully solve sampling bias via post-survey adjustment methods is a step too far and lures the unsuspecting pollster into (further) blase confidence. We will have more to say on our methods in the coming months.

161 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 39, LAB 34, LD 7, UKIP 10, GRN 3”

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  1. Don’t know about a Labour surge, but this isn’t the first poll to show a noticeable narrowing of the gap. They may all be wrong, of course, but why should we be any more confident in the polls from a few weeks ago which showed a much larger Tory lead?

  2. Lol, how times have changed.

    Back in May we had Labour supporters patrolling these threads with a spring in their step, confidently mocking the idea of crossover.

    Now with a Tory Majority and a disastrous leader for Labour, being 5% behind is now seen as something of a Christmas cheer for Labour.

  3. Intriguing poll and an even more intriguing caveat from ICM that borders on the Ratner-esque! I’m slowly coming around to the view that commenting on political opinion polls now, certainly with any degree of seriousness and a straight face, is akin to mistaking a soap opera for real life. Great fun until we’re all reminded that we’ve been inhabiting a world of fiction and not reality!

    Still, for what it’s worth, I suppose they provide a very vague temperature measurement and, while some of the micro- detail can be discounted, they might still be giving us a rough idea of trends in political opinion. So, as we exit 2015 and head into 2016, the political landscape may be changing. Growth appears to have slowed and be below original forecasts for both this and next year and that must impact on Osborne’s rather sunny projections on the deficit and public spending. There are negative indicators emerging too on both public borrowing and private household debt and I wonder how much legs are left in the hitherto effective government mantra of “we’re clearing up Labour’s mess and fixing the economy”. If interest rates rise significantly over the next two or three years then the credit fuelled boomlet may come to a painful end, like all their predecessors under both Labour and Tory administrations.

    The Government’s post May political honeymoon wasn’t a particularly passionate one, but there was one of sorts nonetheless, but it could be that they will be heading into much choppier waters next year, especially if the recovery slows and splutters and the EU Referendum campaign becomes particularly fractious and tight. On further inspection of the crystal ball, I suspect continuing internal Labour divisions over Corbyn’s leadership will continue to offer the Government both solace and refuge and that the SNP hegemony in Scotland will continue for a good while yet.

    However, what intrigues me more than anything else, is what will become of UKIP. The recent Oldham by election, and the current polls, suggest that they might have peaked last year and are now ebbing southward in terms of electoral support. Could the EU Referendum breathe new life into them or will it only accelerate their demise? If they slip to the 3-4% level of support they were more used to receiving in days of old, where do the 2015 UKIP convert voters go as they desert Farage and his merry men? Many of us got their likely sources of support wrong during the last Parliament and maybe when the 15% unravels to 5%, let’s say, the diaspora of these millions of voters will be equally surprising? Orthodox thinking would say that the Tories would be the beneficiaries of a UKIP collapse, but I’m not so sure.

    Politics is now a much more volatile and febrile world than it once was in both the UK and Europe, witness the recent Spanish and Portuguese elections for proof, and it would be a brave man to predict events in this country with any certainty, not just in 2016 but for years to come.

    And that includes the writing of Jeremy Corbyn’s political death certificate too!

    A very Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone on UKPR!


  4. “phone polls steadfastly continue to collect too many Labour voters ”

    Surely the simplest solution is to refuse to supply phones to Labour voters?

  5. Guys, excluding Phil, your opinionated

  6. Waffling adds nothing to this forum.

  7. And excluding old nat.

  8. Clear signs of economic slowdown today with GDP growth for Quarters 2 and 3 revised down by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively leaving us with just 2.1% growth over 12 months. That is somewhat below trend. It has not been a good 48 hours for Osborne.

  9. There was a time when this site was the absolute best on the Web for non-partisan discussion of polls…

  10. @ SHS, that was a few years ago though.
    Maybe we’re just reflecting the politics of the moment, it’s Beardy vs Porky….not a proud time for Britain. If one isn’t to be partisan, is there much to say?

    Since Corbyn leader, ICM polls con-lab

    6, 4, 6, 5.

    No change? 4.5 years til ge, xmas.

  11. As well as Obornes warning signs (he’s going to have some bad numbers nezt year if the OBRs rather predictions are wrong on tax); but the biggest news has to be around Cameron – the government is not doing enough to take any attention away from his European jaunts and struggles. I think it’ll be playing worse to the pro Europeans than the anti Europeans.

  12. ‘Are there no prisons?”

    ‘Plenty of prisons,’ said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.’And the Union workhouses.’ demanded Scrooge. ‘Are they still in operation?’

    ‘Both very busy, sir.’

    ‘Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,’ said Scrooge. ‘I’m very glad to hear it.’

    ‘Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,’ returned the gentleman, ‘a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?’

    ‘Nothing!’ Scrooge replied.

    ‘You wish to be anonymous?’

    ‘I wish to be left alone,’ said Scrooge. ‘Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.’

    ‘Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.’

    ‘If they would rather die,’ said Scrooge, ‘they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

  13. What’s with all this rubbish at the start of this thread?

    I thought this was a site i. about polls and ii. where impartiality was the order of the day.

    Time for application of the rules, Moderators.

  14. David in France

    “The moderators” are Anthony!

    I suspect he is too busy wrapping opinion poll tables as pressies.

  15. David in France+Oldnat
    I’ve always wondered couldn’t Anthony designate certain long term and trusted contributers (you spring to mind oldnat) moderator status and the ability to edit others posts and if need be suspend troublesome accounts. I’m obviously not sure as to the exact architecture of this site but this is possible in many and would take some of the pressure of Anthony.

  16. UKIP too low, Lib Dems too high, Lab too high, Con too low. I am not sure about the Greens, but who is? Not easy this polling lark.

    We are however a long way from an election and I have no doubt that much will change in the next 4 + years.

    As I am about to join my family for Christmas and all political discussion is banned from this point on for me, I wish all contributors a very merry Christmas.

  17. Rivers10

    I get moderated too many times myself! :-)

  18. Hi folks,

    Just popping in to say have a lovely Xmas to you all, including @AnthonyJWells as primus inter pares. The below-the-fold comments are frequently partisan (’twas ever thus) but also interesting, and the above-the-fold articles are jelly and icecream. Thank you to all for a most interesting 2015.

  19. Hmmm – asking @Oldnat to be a moderator? May as well ask me to do it if you want to go down that route.

    @TOH – “..he should have cut much deeper and harder in 2010-2012 and the economy would be doing much better now. The last budget was also very disappointing, he should have pushed on with the full welfare cuts and used his windfall to pay down the deficit.”

    While disagreeing almost entirely with @TOH’s general world view, I’m wouldn’t be completely opposed to this statement.

    We often overstate the impacts of governments on the economy, and there are usually many different ways to reach the same end point. I’m not a fan of cuts for cuts sake, and I don’t agree with the arbitrary 35% of GDP target that Osborne aspires to, but I do think that his approach has been extremely stop-start. A stricter approach with the pain in a short and sharp manner might have been better than the tightening, loosening, then tightening and loosening again that he has delivered and plans..

    I would also separate investment and current spending, with increased investment much more important than protecting current spending, which is something I think Osborne got badly wrong in the first three years or so. I’m also less convinced of @TOH’s 2010 – 2012 time frame – possibly a little close still to the crisis for hard cuts, although if you are going to cut, quick and hard has merits, so long as you target the right spending and get the timing right.

    Not that I know anything.

  20. 5 years ago (the same time in the election cycle), Labour had a 2 point lead and I suspect this is Labour polling at its best – can’t really see them getting 34% in 2020.

  21. Alec

    I appreciate that we have a very different approach to the Welfare state but I must say I agree with much of what you say about Osborne’s approach, very stop start. The last budget could easily have been written by a Labour Chancellor of the more moderate kind.

    To All especially AW

    Happy Christmas & a Peaceful New Year to you and all the other contributors to this site, and of course to AW.

  22. @AW

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all contributors.

  23. Again any comparisons to opinion polls prior to the last election need to take into account the change in polling methodology. It would be interesting if it was possible to take a sample of past opinion polls and see what difference would be made by applying current methodology. I suspect it would give a 5% or so difference for the conservatives over Labour

  24. Seriously, is there any real necessity for the ‘Last Voting Intention’ display if it is currently over 5 weeks out of date? Possibly if the figures were more prone to a different direction they may have been up to date. Just a thought.
    Probably this will be deleted as it obviously conflicts with the bias of editorial census of this blog.

  25. Been a bit occupied with stuff so Just popping in to say hi to every peeps and wishing you all a Happy Crimbo.

    There’s a thing. Whatever happened to Cammo’s happiness surveys?

  26. John Poole

    Were you telling the truth in that last post? If not, why not? :-)

    Happy Midwinter Festival to all (no matter what you call it, or when you celebrate it).

  27. Yes Happy Christmas everyone. Stay sober and don’t eat too much.

  28. I know I don’t post that often but I do read the blog most days and as a result I feel I know a lot of you. So all have a merry Christmas and eat too much and drink too much fall asleep and in front of the TV. But most of all have a great day with people you love.

  29. @ GRAHAM

    “It has not been a good 48 hours for Osborne.”

    Only a few days ago, the number of unemployed was confirmed as the lowest since 2007 while both the workforce and number in employment stood at record highs.

    When looking at economic data, you have to look across indicators. Last time Labour supporters like you focused on a narrow set of indicators hoping for a recession back in 2012, the fall in unemployment and strong PMI data were again at odds with GDP figures – which then not unexpectedly turned.

    I have no crystal ball to tell me what the economy will be like in 2016, but with the dollar likely to strengthen against the pound, unemployment low, and no pressure on input prices, I don’t think Osborne will be crying into his mulled wine this Christmas.

  30. Just popped in to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

  31. Merry Christmas to Everyone,

    My sincere thanks to all, and especially Anthony, for keeping me informed and entertained through 2015.

    My New Year predictions will follow shortly, but in the meantime I am rather hoping that 2016 will see the emergence of The Other Millie and The Bristolian Millie…

  32. Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings & Happy Holidays to Anthony & all who visit UKPR.

  33. Merry Christmas all

  34. Nobody’s posted for well over a day so I thought I’d change that by posting Rallings and Thrasher’s National Equivalent Vote Share figures based on local by-elections since May. They are CON 32 LAB 31 LD 16 UKIP 12. In practice I’d suggest the strong LD performance is probably partly a local election effect but mainly a by-election effect. I guess the real figure is probably more in line with national opinion polls.

  35. What kind of local seats are being contested in England (outwith London) in 2016?

    What are the last set of elections that they might be comparable with?

  36. @Oldnat


    By my count, Lab majority 59 councils, Cons 42.

    Comparable with all over the place, lots of halves & thirds. Although the particular wards will have been done (mostly) 4 years ago, so you could look at that. MSM always giving “swing” etc with previous year seems a bit nonsense to me.

    Vague prediction at this time, bad for Lib-dems (they have collapsed even further) but not to lose too much more, UKIP to make some gains from no-one in particular, Cons & Lab to do well in areas they already win anyways. Possibly middle/swing seats to go somewhat more Con.

  37. Wood

    Thanks for the info. I wonder how electioneering might ne affected by the asymmetric growth in Lab membership, reported by the FT.


    High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/95a3874e-a5a0-11e5-a91e-162b86790c58.html#ixzz3vXbT6GZA

    The biggest increases have been in London, other big cities and in university towns, reflecting the youth of many new members. Labour is already relatively strong in these areas. Mr Corbyn’s leftwing, pro-green, pro-immigration attitudes are popular in the capital, where Labour already dominates. Of the city’s 73 constituencies, 45 are Labour.
    The rush of new members is much less pronounced in rural areas, marginal seats and northern non-university towns, according to senior Labour sources.

    Will the dominance of members in London move English Lab policy (or language) towards positions more likely to alienate floaters outside their core areas?

  38. Wood

    Thanks for the info. I wonder how electioneering might ne affected by the asymmetric growth in Lab membership, reported by the FT.


    The biggest increases have been in London, other big cities and in university towns, reflecting the youth of many new members. Labour is already relatively strong in these areas. Mr Corbyn’s leftwing, pro-green, pro-immigration attitudes are popular in the capital, where Labour already dominates. Of the city’s 73 constituencies, 45 are Labour.
    The rush of new members is much less pronounced in rural areas, marginal seats and northern non-university towns, according to senior Labour sources.

    Will the dominance of members in London move English Lab policy (or language) towards positions more likely to alienate floaters outside their core areas?

  39. My local branch, in one of those northern university towns, has had over 100 new members join since the summer; I’m one of them. At the Christmas social I got talking to another new member, who (like me) had never been a party member before & (like me) thought going to branch meetings sounded simultaneously boring and daunting; we egged each other on to go the next one anyway. He’s in his mid-30s, I’m 55.

    Lots of the people joining Labour are coming back to the party, now it looks a bit more like it used to. As for floating voters, I think the strategy of chasing the focus groups has been tested to destruction; even Ed made a partial break with that approach. (Partial because he tried to sound ‘credible’ while actually saying things he believed in – which, unfortunately, made him sound more insincere than if he’d lied outright.) What Labour’s trying to do now is win over those floating voters, by putting forward policies which are coherent and workable. Give it time.

  40. Phil

    I haven’t seen any figures, but “returning” rather than “new” members seems likely to be common.

    As to the “give it time”, I was thinking of the English local elections, rather than a UK GE – and especially of those areas away from London and university towns.

    For May 2016, there is very little time left.

    Congratulations on your return to activism, though.

  41. “it is clear that phone polls steadfastly continue to collect too many Labour voters in the raw sample”
    This is equivalent to measuring a length with a tape measure which has stretched.
    There are two solutions:
    1. Compare the tape with an accurate scale such as a steel ruler, and do the appropriate sums to arrive at the true higher figure for the measured length.
    2. Buy a new tape.

    The problem in polling is ‘What is the accurate scale?’
    If the pollsters’ question is ‘how will you vote at the next general election in 2020, then the accurate scale is the (inaccessible) result of the actual election.
    If the pollsters retain exactly the same question, then the result of the 2015 election might be used as the ‘accurate scale’ to calibrate the samples, but none of these assumptions are strictly true, are they?
    Alternatively, if say on-line polling gave closer predictions, that might be used as the ‘accurate scale’, which would allow different questions to be asked – but that is a bit like using a cheap wooden ruler as the ‘accurate scale’.
    If you are sure that the problem arises with telephone polling as opposed to other methods, then the problem may be not that telephone samples have selected too many Labour supporters, but that they have missed too many supporters of other parties (who may all be responding to on-line contact, or are too busy, or won’t respond on principle etc.) Ask not “how will you vote?” at some future date, but rather “how did you vote in the 2015 election?” and see how the samples compare to reality. Results probably not much use for any purpose other than refining sampling techniques. All very tricky.

  42. What do you reckon the impact of the floods might be on polling? It doesn’t seem unlikely to me for the Tories to lose a little popularity in flooded areas, given the cuts made to flood defences.

  43. Maybe.

    But the Tories did OK in Somerset in May, in the end.

  44. @Paddy

    Salford, Rochdale, Sheffield, Leeds Central, York Central and the Lakes are already safe Labour seats. Ribble is pretty safe Blue. Calder Valley is Blue and yes, perhaps a little closer. Whether it may impact on Council elections though, that may be more possible.

  45. Thomas

    Do the councils in flooded areas, who have seats up for election in May, have responsibility for flood defences?

    In any case, I doubt that “bad things happened when party X was in power” is enough to change votes, if parties Y & Z are thought to have been equally (or more) incapable of dealing with the problem.

  46. It says 45 comments….none have appeared……

  47. After my comment they have all appeared…

  48. So, the Tories only have a five-point lead over Labour…despite Corbyn being “unelectable”.

  49. @Michael,

    Corbyn can’t be elected PM if Labour are 5 points behind the Tories.

    I suppose the real question is whether Labour’s position would be better under a different leader. That’s obviously unknowable, but given his personal ratings, one has to wonder.

  50. Comments have disappeared for me… this has been a recurring problem lately on the election guide site too.

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