Another question in ICM’s poll appears to be exceptionally good news for the Conservatives – David Cameron is now seen as the best Prime Minister for the environment. A grand coup for the Tories? Perhaps not.

If you look at the wording of the actual question though it’s not so good for Cameron. Most people answer questions like this according to their party polictical preference – the majority of Conservative supporters think David Cameron would be best for the environment, and the majority of Labour supporters think Gordon Brown or Tony Blair would be best for the environment…and there’s the rub. The reason that David Cameron came out top is because Labour supporters’ preferences were split between Blair and Brown, but there was only Conservative option in the question.

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian is out. So far there are only voting intention figures, though the Guardian does sometimes spread the results over a few days so there may be more to come.

The topline figures with changes from last month are CON 37%(nc), LAB 34%(-2), LDEM 21%(+2). While ICM never reported the same sort of fall in Lib Dem support as Populus and YouGov, the 21% figure is the same as prior to Charlie Kennedy’s resignation as Liberal Democrat leader suggesting that neither his removal as leader nor the subsequent scandal around Mark Oaten have done any lasting damage to the Liberal Democrat’s electoral support.

As the Lib Dems regain their support the losers are the Labour party – down two points to 34%.


There was a new ICM poll of British Muslims in the Sunday Telegraph. The finding in the poll that got the most coverage was a question that suggested that 40% of British Muslims supported “there being areas in Britain which are pre-dominately Muslim and in which sharia law is introduced”. Since Western perceptions of sharia law tend to focus upon stoning adulterers, executing apostates and amputating the limbs of thieves reporting has tended to react with some horror. It’s worth remembering though that respondents could be thinking of a far more limited use of sharia law – until this month, for example, Ontario in Canada allowed the use of sharia law in civil disputes on things such as divorce, contract law and so on. I suspect respondents to ICM’s survey were more likely to have been thinking of Muslim communities in the UK deciding cases of family and inheritance law on the basis of sharia, as opposed to stonings and beheadings in Brick Lane – though from the wording of the question it is impossible to tell.

The full figures on ICM’s website reveal some interesting bits and pieces that weren’t reported in the Sunday Telegraph. British Muslims surveyed by ICM were almost unaminous (97%) in thinking that the publication of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed was wrong, 77% said they personally were very offended by the cartoons, 9% said they were a little offended and 11% said they were not offended.

Regarding reactions to the cartoons, 14% of British Muslims thought it was right for protesters in Muslim countries to attack Danish embassies and 12% thought it was right for “demonstrators to carry placards calling for the killing of those who insult Islam”. 13% said it was right “to exercise violence against those who are deemed by religious leaders to have insulted them”.

There was also a voting intention question – the topline figure amongst Muslim voters was CON 16%, LAB 44%, LDEM 30%, Other 10%. ICM’s last voting intention poll amongst Muslim voters was in July 2005, which found support at CON 11%, LAB 48%, LDEM 34%, Oth 7%.

MORI have carried out a new poll on the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed for the Sun. The majority of the questions asked produced results very close to YouGov’s findings in the Sunday Times, there were though a few interesting questions that YouGov didn’t cover.

According to MORI’s findings, 37% of people in Britain don’t personally know any Muslims at all. This isn’t particularly surprising – while 2.7% of the UK population are Muslim, the population is very concentrated – for example, in inner London 11.67% of people are Muslim, in Cornwall 0.13% of people are. Of the 60% of people who told MORI they did know at least one Muslim, 68% (43% of the overall total) said they knew at least one Muslim they considered as a friend.

In that way at least it is a positive finding for the future of community relations in Britain – it can only be a boost to mutual understanding if 43% of people have Muslim friends. The fact that 37% of people don’t even know any Muslims, let alone have any Muslim friends is also well worth considering – for a large percentage of people in the UK the only experience they have of Muslims is through the media- which largely consists of coverage of angry protesters and extremists.

Finally MORI asked about whether people have actually seen the Danish cartoons themselves. No British newspapers have published the cartoons (even yesterday’s Private Eye limited itself to a textual description of each of the 12 cartoons), and on British television there have only been the briefest of glimses of them, but for anyone with internet access the cartoons are easy to find. According to MORI, 25% of the British people have seen the cartoons for themselves, 74% have not.

Gordon Brown has always been popular as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Until recently he had exceptionally positive approval ratings, and even with recent falls he still enjoys postive ratings – even more so when you compare them to the highly negative approval ratings registered by Tony Blair.

Thinking someone makes an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer though doesn’t necessarily equate to thinking the same person would make an excellent Prime Minister – they are different roles, a Prime Minister needs to lead and inspire the country in a way that the Chancellor doesn’t. Since David Cameron became Conservative leader polls have suggested that the Labour party would perform less well with Brown as leader than with Blair as leader – a reverse from earlier polls which suggested there would be a large “Brown boost” for the Labour party. It is still too early to tell if this is just a knock-on effect of Cameron’s honeymoon as leader.

YouGov’s poll for the Sunday Times included a series of questions on Gordon Brown. The good news for Brown is that people think he will make a good Prime Minister by 40% to 34% and, perhaps more importantly, in a straight choice 43% would chose a Brown led-Labour government compared to 37% who would opt for a Cameron led-Conservative government.

People also tend to have positive opinions of Brown’s abilities as a politician – 39% of people think he is honest, with only 21% thinking him dishonest. 46% think he has run the economy well (21% think the opposite), and 39% think he does things for the good of the country, not just himself (30% think the opposite). People are less enamoured of Gordon Brown as a person, 39% of people think he is boring , 39% think he is remote and 53% think he is dour. It seems as though people respect Gordon Brown, but they don’t necessarily like him.

For the past 9 years Gordon Brown has been in a role that doesn’t really endear itself to excitement – a job that revolves around dry economics limits the opportunities for Brown to project himself as an exciting politician. Now that Brown is stepping out from his economic brief he may be able to transform his image. If not it will be interesting to see how his image does eventually play with the public. How much effect does image really have on a politician’s personality? In an age of television – and somewhat presidential – politics, does it matter if a party leader is seen as a dour, boring and remote, as long as they are seen as honest and capable?