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. I don’t actually think floods are likely to have any electoral impact whatsoever… opposition parties like to turn them into a political issue by pointing to flood defence spending or whatever but I think people that have been flooded probably just think there was a lot of rain and they live in a flood risk area… even if they would like more money spent on defences I doubt it trumps all other issues in the eyes of many, and in any case people aren’t stupid and know the other side probably wouldn’t have done things much differently. In Somerset there was hardly a backlash against the coalition, and their flooding was more prolonged and unexpected than what we’ve seen this month.


    @” Corbyn being “unelectable”.”

    Mile Smithson at pb is majoring on Leaders’ ratings as the better guide to “electability”-current thread quotes recent ones.

  3. There are two questions which few people appear inclined to address. On the basis of the Tory lead , why is Jeremy Corbyn doing so much better than Neil Kinnock in January 1988 – seven months or so after the 1987 election? Secondly why is Jeremy Corbyn doing better than Hugh Gaitskell in mid-1960 – seven months or so after the 1959 election?

  4. Graham,

    Because the Tory VI is lower. So is Labour’s.

  5. Plus there is at least some reason to think that the polls are flattering Labour, unless the pollsters have already managed to address the methodological problems they had during the last parliament.

  6. @Graham

    You are right that the opposition doesn’t always take a poll lead, or even get close to one, in the first year. But there is no doubt that Corbyn’s personal poll ratings are bad. Really, really bad. That is more concerning for LAB than the VI.

  7. Bill Patrick’,
    ‘Because the Tory VI is lower. So is Labour’s’

    Indeed so – electoral support has become much more fragmented. Nevertheless Tory support has fallen more sharply and on the basis of party lead Corbyn has a lower mountain to climb when compared to Kinnock in 1988 and Gaitskell in 1960.

  8. @Graham,

    Kinnock went on to lose the following GE, and Labour barely scraped a win in 1964. Also, there wasn’t very much polling done in the 1960s so it’s hard to make meaningful comparisons.

    Of course, at this stage anything could happen (and probably will) but a neutral observer, forced to place a bet four and half years ahead, would be wanting pretty wide odds to put it on Corbyn being the next PM.

  9. @Neil A

    Kinnock did indeed lose in 1992 but that was in the context of the Tories having ditched Thatcher. Had that not happened I suspect Labour would have made gains significantly in excess of the 42 Kinnock actually managed in 1992.
    Re -1960 – Gallup and NOP were being published regularly by the early 1960s.

  10. @Graham

    Corbyn has trounced his party enemies and isn’t a Welsh comedian.

  11. Incidentally, the mystery of the missing comments is solved – it’s a bug in the latest version of wordpress. When it works out which page of comments to show, it’s forgetting to take account of if any of the comments have been moderated.

    So, for example, if there are 52 comments in a thread but 5 have been moderated it will go to the second page by default (comments 51-100) but because only 47 comments are actually visible page two is blank.

    Until the next WordPress patch I’ve switched to the blog showing the first page of comments as default, not the last page. A bit of a pain, but at least you’ll all be able to see the comments.

  12. Anthony

    Thanks for the explanation. I’ll settle for the current inconvenience, as long as you keep moderating comments (even mine, sometimes!)

    It does keep this site as one of the few places you can see intelligent comments on politics from those you don’t agree with, as well as those you do.

    Twitter is the place for partisanship, where the 140 character limit gives an appropriate locus for those who prefer to limit their observations to words of four letters.

  13. Since September- with/without methodology tweaking- the different company VI polls have been unrelentingly poor for Labour (despite the context of- arguably- so much material for them to take advantage of).

    Mike Smithson opines that- at this stage of cycle- Leader ratings are the most appropriate predictor: for Corbyn they have been an absolute unmitigated disaster.

    I expect more of the above throughout 2016.

    Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to you all. My 7th year looking at this site begins on Wednesday.

  14. @Graham

    You’ve already previously claimed in this parish that the 1997 election could have been won by an asmatic basset hound with three legs- as long as it was wearing a red rosette. Now you are asserting that Kinock only lost 1992 because of Tories getting rid of Thatcher. You are wrong on both counts.

    Probably- in there somewhere- is some fanciful wishful thinking about ‘using history’ (sic) to advance the notion of “Jeremy” winning a general election.


    I always knew you were a Twitterer. Now the abuse over the last 7 years all makes sense: you old CyberNat you.

  15. O/T Here’s a gif of Justin Trudeau casually flipping a knife before cutting his birthday cake (his birthday was on Christmas Day, naturally).


    Canada represents one of Lynton Crosby’s few failures – but it’s hard to see how anyone could have prevailed against a politician as natural and comfortable in the limelight as Trudeau.

  16. Rob Sheffield

    Not everyone on Twitter is abusive.

    Neither Anthony nor the Pope have been outed as abusers – though they may have pseudonyms where they show their dark side.

  17. @Rob S/Graham

    Speculating about the reasons why past General Elections turned out the way that they did is all part of the fun of the fair, but I’m always suspicious of people who proclaim a monopoly of wisdom on these matters. Definitive pronouncements are not sensible and while we may disagree, it’s going too far to claim that one person’s opinion is “wrong”. That shuts down sensible and reasoned discussion.

    The 1992 election has entered psephological mythology, but, for what it’s worth, I think Major’s emergence and Thatcher’s departure were indeed very significant developments that did influence the election, but there were many other factors at play too, not least the festering antipathy to Kinnock amongst a sizeable section of the English electorate. Clinging to nurse through fear of something worse was a factor as well as the country was still in the grip of a recession. It was also the last election when it was true to say, as Major did at the time, that the Tory Party was a fearsome “electoral beast”. It was then, not so now.

    I also tend to think that the 1997 election win for Labour was more of a personal triumph for Blair than some give him credit for. Sure, the Tories had imploded and maybe Labour might have won whoever was the leader, but Blair’s appeal and political skills ensured that the Tories went down to a historic defeat. They were beaten down to 160 seats and Labour won in places that were hitherto deemed impossible for them. It was a political earthquake and Blair was the architect, penetrating deep into enemy lines in a way that no other centre left politician had ever done in the UK. It was an extraordinary political, and personal, achievement.

    I have a feeling that history will be kind to Tony Blair.


  18. If “The Big Short” is as popular over here as it is in the states then Mao’s merrie men could surf on the public mood it creates to resurrect the Vicker’s report on the TBTF banks which would make the Cameroons squawk in an entertaining manner and vote losing fashion.

  19. Crossbat11,

    I doubt that historians will ever be kind to Tony Blair on any point, but I do agree that his (and Blairism’s) role in Labour’s 1997 win has become underrated. There’s something noble in having strong principles, and something very craven about thinking that one can stick to them with no consequences.

  20. Bill Patrick @ Crossbat11,

    “I doubt that historians will ever be kind to Tony Blair on any point”

    Since history is constantly rewritten from the context of the “present” of the historian’s audience, there will be lots of historians willing to be cheerleaders for all kinds of past and present people in the future – just as there are revisionists doing the same for past people in the present.

  21. @Rob Sheffield

    I am very firmly of the view that Thatcher’s departure was crucial in terms of the ability of the Tories to win a majority in 1992. Under Major the Tories led in the popular vote by 7.6%. Are you suggesting that Thatcher – with no change to the poll tax – would have achieved something similar? As it was the Tories held on to four seats by less than 100 votes and to have managed the barest of majorities they needed a popular vote lead of 6.5%. I simply do not believe that Thatcher would have achieved that. Entirely possible she would have won the popular vote by 3 or 4% , but would have been too far off an overall majority to have survived – nobody bar the Unionists would have supported her from the minority parties.

  22. @ Rob Sheffield,

    I am not a Corbyn supporter at all – but am not impressed by the psephological illiteracy of those who spout the nonsense that Labour ‘should be ahead at this stage in the electoral cycle’. Such comments come from people with scant regard for electoral history.

  23. @Graham

    “I am not a Corbyn supporter at all – but am not impressed by the psephological illiteracy of those who spout the nonsense that Labour ‘should be ahead at this stage in the electoral cycle’”

    I have some sympathy with what you say on this and that isn’t the same thing as saying that Corbyn is on course to win in 2020. He may well lose by some margin then, but whether he’s ahead or not in the polls now is a matter of the utmost irrelevance. There is absolutely nothing that has gone on in the last 7 months that would suggest that the current Government should be plumbing the depths of unpopularity and that the opposition should be riding high.

    Au contraire, in fact. Lots of things to suggest that the Government’s honeymoon should continue a while longer.

  24. Is there anything in the idea that people tend to stick with the party they voted for at the last election unless they’re able to pin their defection on a clear “reason” that serves as a place holder for their or the party’s subtly changing views? In other words Labour voters drifting right can point to Corbyn, but tory voters having second thoughts currently don’t have an event to “push” them.

  25. Corbyn in the news today wanting a televised debate between the party leaders every year.Wonder if he might have been better suggesting something practical to help the flood victims.

  26. Anecdote time-Conversation with a £1 Corbynista -grandaughter/undergrad/a London Uni.

    First political alignment -firmly on the Left.

    Joined so she can “go to meetings and say my piece”.Joined not because Corbyn is “Jesus Christ as some of them think “, but because he is saying the “right things” & taking the Labour Party in the “right direction” .
    Greens ( who , on questioning, match her economic beliefs better) not attractive because they won’t be in government.
    POliticians must stick to their principles which she thought Corbyn did-though he has “pissed her off” for going back on a few of his. Not “wedded to him for life”-but he is the best port of call for her beliefs at present.
    Pressed on the battle of the mandates, Party Membership loomed large. Her reaction to the UK Electorate’s mandate for the Conservative Government was dismissive-“lots of people vote without thinking & waste their vote”. Asked if 11 million people-including two of her grandparents , were therefore stupid & unthinking-a rather sheepish ” well perhaps not”.

    I thought this last part of the conversation the most interesting..

    What any of this means-or indeed if it means anything significant -I have no idea :-)

  27. “Jeremy Corbyn has told Olympic gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins that, unlike sport, he does not believe politics is about winning.
    In an interview with Sir Bradley, who was guest editing BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Labour leader revealed that he is “not that competitive”.
    Mr Corbyn said: “It does [feel weird]. In sport, yes you’re in it to take part but the reality is you are in it to win. Politics is different in the sense I am not that competitive a person in that sense. I am much more a community co-operative kind of person.
    “I never really thought I would be appointed to a position, so my aspiration was to do my best. It has turned out I’ve become leader of the party. It’s a huge amount of work and pressure, but basically very enjoyable.”


  28. The TV debate push is actually not terrible; Cameron doesn’t like them but I think he can politely point out they all have other things to do on an already busy schedule.

    However I don’t really see why Labour are doing this amidst the flooding. Corbyn seems to have no one giving him advise – makes Labour come across as very London focused as well (debate the issues vs suggesting Osborne is sinking England).

  29. Re corbyn and floods. The shadow chancellor has made some sensible non partisan commentary on today prog concerning the floods.

    It’s like the mail on here. Appalled.

    Thanks to all over the last few months who still manage to post sensibly and reflectively, esp roger Mexico.

  30. @Mark W

    It seems the odd reactionary remark turns your stomach. I suggest you need not a non-partisan site, but one which leans towards your sympathies so that you can use it stress-free.

  31. NEIL A

    I think your post to Mark W is very sensible. We all have political views of this site, we try and be non partisan and at times we fail. If that causes stress then it is best to go elsewhere. I have to say some of the posters I enjoy most on this site have views a million miles from my own but that’s what provides the interest.

  32. @ fraser
    ” ..However I don’t really see why Labour are doing this amidst the flooding. .. ”

    I’m quite bemused at the number of people here and elsewhere who seem to think Labour should be “doing something” about the floods.

    We’ve had quite enough politicians wandering round in their green wellies, looking very concerned, and mouthing platitudes… but not actually doing very much .. hard to see how one more would help.

  33. I think “doing something” translates as “making political capital out of”.

    I don’t really agree with that. Of course, it’s undeniable that the Environment Agency budget was cut along with everything else post-2010 and there is scope for some partisan attacks, but it is to Corbyn and Labour’s credit that they seem to have recognised so far that this is really dancing on the head of a pin and that the real lessons of recent floods aren’t so much about planning issues and defences spending, but about climate change.

    In that sense, fire would probably be better directed at reductions in “green” spending ordered by Cameron, although after the Paris accord there is probably a sense of “trying to make it work” around carbon reduction that again doesn’t sit well with making political attacks.

  34. I have relatives who read the Telegraph and they tell me the paper runs articles about Corbyn everyday. Mostly along the lines of what breakfast cereal he eats, where he buys his socks etc. Apparently there is a desk with two hacks devoted to this task.
    Will Corbyn survive/win the next election? Who knows/cares?
    I’m more interested in who is going to be leading the Tories in 2020 after Dave has ridden into the wide blue yonder.
    After all,according to the pundits, s/he will be the next PM.
    Yet no one seems very interested. All they care about is the degree to which Corbyn lowered his head when he met the Queen.

  35. @ Neil A

    I think the good folk of Somerset have shown at the last GE just how much political capital can be made out of criticising the government over flood defenses.

    I’m no fan of Cameron & Osborne, but to be fair no amount of defences would have saved Kendal from flooding, the elephant in the room is very much global warming and how we respond to it in my view, and yet no-one seems to be challenging them in that regard.

    I’m very much warming to John McDonell, who in spite of his portrayal in the media often talks a lot of sense if one takes the time to listen. He seemed to be genuinely trying to take the party politics out of it all this morning on the Today programme. whether that is possible though though is anyones guess

  36. @Valerie

    The Conservatives arn’t going to make their move on their next leader till a) the EU ref is out of the way and b) they know who they are facing in Labour. It’s not at all clear whether Corbyn will remain or whether Lab will screw themselves up to replace him. If the latter, the Cons will need a very different type of leader than if Corbyn stays.

    Regarding the floods – I think people can see that the weather is extremely weird at the moment and it’s not at all clear what govt can do.

    Take Carlisle for example. They had very bad floods in 2005 with three people dying. The Labour govt responded with a £38 million pound scheme to build raised defences, 30 new flood gates, raised footbridges, CCTV cameras, the works.

    The 2005 flood was supposed to be a once-in-a-century event. Well we’re now at the end of 2015, and Carlisle has seen three once-in-a-century flood events in the last decade and the expensive new flood defences have failed – though without them it would have been even worse.

    So what happens next? Another £38 million spent to defend this town of just 71,000 people? What about all the other towns? Or should we take the tough decision to abandon towns and simply move people out of these areas onto higher ground – it might be cheaper in the long run.

    And then there’s my bugbear of storm water flowing into the sewage system. We really need a separate drain system for storm water. If the sewage system was kept separate it would never overflow and the clean-up would be easier and the health hazards lower. But it will be expensive to rework all of Britain’s drains.


    @”Will Corbyn survive/win the next election? Who knows/cares?”

    Who knows?-indeed.

    Who cares?-Every Labour MP .

  38. @Candy

    George Monbiot suggests part of the problem in some areas is the subsidisation of grouse farmers to drain and dredge their land making towns and cities below more vulnerable to flooding.

  39. @candy
    I agree. The Tories are biding their time. I just wish the meeja would press them a bit; rather than stories about whether Jez prefers poached or fried eggs.
    Anyway , on another topic, good to see Rory the “rivers” minister promising limitless funds to sort the flooding out.
    Good to know money does grow on trees

  40. So far this flooding has affected many areas around where I live (West Yorkshire), flooded out my workplace in Knaresborough and now taken out the bridge in Tadcaster (my childhood home town), where my mum still lives:


    I think it will be a game changer in policy terms, but attributing fault to the Government holding the parcel when the music stopped is unfair in my view. The the true root cause of the current flooding situation lay in decades of policy over many areas, alongside a change in weather patterns.

  41. @CMJ

    Has a central emergency fund been set up to assist the victims?

  42. @RAF

    I’m not sure TBH.

    I know locally people have gathered up blankets, clothes and food, but the long term rebuilding of homes, rehousing of those affected, help to get businesses up and running will take some money and effort.

    The Tadcaster bridge is really important as it connects the town, and transport from one side to the other will involve a long detour through little villages ill-equipped to handle HGVs etc.

    I can only imagine it will be many months before that can be rebuilt.

  43. @RAF

    Ah, so it’s all the fault of those dastardly Scottish grouse moor people then (Carlisle is just south of the border)! :-)

    The problem I have with Monbiot’s analysis is that he is assuming that grouse farming and sheep farming (his other pet hate because those poor lambs compact the soil with their hooves), are new things. But they are not, they’ve been going on forever. Is it really the case that there was less sheep farming and grouse farming in the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s? And that the EU subsidy element is only kicking in now?

    The only ingredient that has changed is the frequency and intensity of storms from the Atlantic. And that is down to climate change. And that’s not even our fault – every single govt from Mrs T onwards has been putting up fuel tax and encouraging the switch from coal to gas. John Major even had an infamous fuel tax escalator where he increased fuel duty by inflation + 5% every single year. I think we collectively did everything we could and are victims of people across the Atlantic not doing their bit.

    If this thing is down to climate change, only moving people to higher ground is a viable strategy. If as CatManJeff suggests, houses need to be rebuilt, we might as well take the opportunity to rebuild them on higher ground to save ourselves from doing exactly that in a couple of years time.

    The thing is, it will take a bold politician to persuade people they should move. I don’t think Cameron is that bold to be honest, though Osborne might be.

  44. flooding – media and political class lying through teeth as usual

    it’s deliberate EU policy to *restore* rivers to their *natural state*

    “From Britain to the Czech Republic, European nations have been restoring rivers to their natural state — taking down dams, removing levees, and reviving floodplains.”





    and hundreds more

  45. flooding – media and political class all lying through their teeth as usual

    it’s deliberate EU policy to *restore* rivers to their *natural state*

    “From Britain to the Czech Republic, European nations have been restoring rivers to their natural state — taking down dams, removing levees, and reviving floodplains.”

    links trigger the spam trap but if you google “EU rivers natural state” then you can find out the stuff the media is lying about

  46. @Candy

    Of course, a big issue is that lots of people have lots of hypothetical cash tied up in their homes.

    The truth that if it is in a place that now floods on a regular basis, the hypothetical crashes through the floor.

    This type of climate change really fundamentally changes a huge amount. The mad screamings of yesterday’s sirens may be wise counsel tomorrow.

  47. Correction

    The truth that if it is in a place that now floods on a regular basis, the hypothetical value crashes through the floor.

  48. Candy

    All the stuff that Monbiot talks about on floods is stuff I learnt doing A level Geography nearly 20 years ago.

  49. ICM’s commentary on the “why” of their poll and saying it is likely due to sampling is extremely speculative. Not professional. Before the May election there was a time when it was thought online polls were making the election too close and some phone polling showed more of a Conservative lead.

  50. @Hawthorn

    google “EU rivers natural state”

    It’s deliberate EU policy and the entire political and media class are covering it up.

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