ICM January Poll

ICM’s January poll for the Guardian has headline voting intentions, with changes from last month, of CON 37%(-3), LAB 31%(-1), LDEM 23%(+5). The poll was conducted between the 19th and 21st of January.

The figures suggest a slight weakening in Conservative support and a boost for the Liberal Democrats, though it is from a very low score for them in last month’s ICM poll. ICM have tended to produce polls showing the Liberal Democrats at around 20%-22% in recent months, and December’s poll seemed anomolously low.

ICM found overwhelming support for Gordon Brown holding an election within a year of taking office, and not just from Conservative supporters (who tend to always support a election in the hope of throwing Labour out), 76% of Labour supporters thought Brown should call an election within a year, the same proportion as amongst the general public. As with the vast majority of cases, asked a hypothetical question of how they would vote with Gordon Brown as labour leader the Conservative lead grows – this time to 8 points (39% to 31%) (though as ever this is just a hypothetical question and it is not necessarily directly comparable to actual voting intention questions).

ICM also asked which party had the best policy on nine issues. Despite the lack of clear Conservative policies, they led in 6 of the areas asked – though in most cases the two main parties were very close together. The Conservatives had 6 point leads on the traditionally Conservative areas of crime and immigration, a 3 point lead on “tax and public services”, a 2 point lead on the environment and Europe. On the health service and education Labour and the Conservatives were within a single point of one another. Labour remain the public’s preferred party on fighting terrorism, where they have a 6 point lead, and on the economy in general, where they have a 5 point lead – though this is down from 20 points back in 2005.

Yesterday Paul Sykes’s Speakout campaign released the figures from a YouGov poll on attitudes towards immigration in Yorkshire which didn’t contain anything particularly earth shattering, with large majorities thinking there should be limits on immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Today’s Yorkshire Post has more details from the poll, including voting intention figures for Yorkshire. Currently voting intentions in Yorkshire, with changes from the actual shares of the vote in 2005 are CON 29% (nc), LAB 42% (-2), LDEM 15%(-6), other smaller parties share 15% support.

Regional voting intention polls are relatively rare in the UK, with the obvious exception of Scotland and some polls of the South-West region prior to the last election, these figures do support the perception that Yorkshire is a weak spot in the Conservative party’s advance. Yorkshire, particularly West Yorkshire, has a significant number of key marginal seats the Conservatives would need to take to form a government and this poll suggests that the Conservatives are not currently in a position to win any of them from Labour (though if repeated at a General Election they would win the new seat of York Outer, notionally held by the Lib Dems). At the local elections in 2006, the Conservative party went backwards in West Yorkshire at the same time as it won seats across much of the rest of England. This poll underlines the fact that the Tories are failing to advance in Yorkshire, where Labour’s support is remaining firm and only “others” are moving forward.


The recent YouGov polls for Channel 4 and the Sunday Times and an ICM poll for the Daily Mail have had some contrasting questions on support for Scottish independence.

ICM found that 51% of Scots supported independence with 36% opposed, though I haven’t tracked down the exact wording of the question. A straight YouGov question on “Do you support or oppose Scotland becoming a country independent from the rest of the United Kingdom” found only 40% support, compared to 44% of Scots opposed.

YouGov also asked two more detailed versions of the independence question. A second question in the Channel 4 poll gave a wider range of options: asked their favoured option 37% of people opted for maintaining the Union, but giving extra powers to the Scottish Parliament, with support for outright independence dropping slightly to 31%. 12% of respondents favoured the status quo with 12% of people supporting the reduction in powers of or total abolition of the Scottish Parliament.

In the Sunday Times poll YouGov asked people to take into account the tax and spending implications of Scottish independence. From 40% in the YouGov/C4 straight support/oppose question, the percentage of people who said they would support Scottish independence if they were sure it wouldn’t lead to higher taxes or lower public spending rose to 56% (including 18% of Scots would said they would support independence regardless).

Comparing the different questions it seems that some people who say they support independence in a direct choice between independence and the implied status quo actually prefer the option of maintaining the union but having a more powerful Scottish Parliament if given the choice. Secondly, it would appear that a large proportion of people’s opinions towards independence are coloured by what they think the tax and spending consequences would be.

A new YouGov poll for Channel Four news has asked about voting intention in Scotland in both the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections, the local elections and the Westminister Parliament.

Voting intentions for Westminister are CON 19%, LAB 34%, LDEM 15%, SNP 27%. Interestingly, while the general impression amongst most commentators is that the swing from Labour to the Conservatives in Britain as a whole has not been reflected by any advance in Scotland, comparing these figures to the results in Scotland at the last general election shows there isn’t actually much contrast. This poll shows a 4% swing from Labour to the Tories in Scotland (the Conservatives up 3, Labour down 5), while the last YouGov poll in Great Britain as a whole also showed a 4% swing from Labour to the Tories (though with the Conservatives up 4 and Labour down 4).

The big beneficaries of the drop in Labour and Lib Dem support North of the border is obviously the SNP, and the Conservatives are so weak in much of Scotland that their modest increase in support is not likely ot bring them many seats, but in terms of change to their Westminister support then judging on the lastest polls there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between the swing in Scotland and the swing elsewhere.

Moving on, the figures for the Scottish Parliamentary election, with changes from the last Scottish YouGov poll for the Telegraph (there is a marginally more recent YouGov poll done for the SNP, but the question wording and order in this poll are more comparable to the Telegraph one) are – in the constituency vote CON 14% (-1), LAB 31%(-1), LDEM 14%(-1), SNP 33%(+1), GRN 5%(+1), SSP 1%(nc). In the regional vote the figures are CON 15%(-2), LAB 28%(-1), LDEM 11%(-4), SNP 33%(+5), GRN 7% (-1), SSP 1%(-1), Solidarity 1%.

John Curtice suggests that this would result in the SNP winning 45 seats in the Scottish Parliament, with Labour on 42, the Conservatives on 18, the Lib Dems on 14 and the Greens on 7. Under those circumstances, either Labour or the SNP would need to come to a deal with more than one of the smaller parties in order to have an overall majority.

Finally, voting intention in the local authority elections in Scotland stands at CON 15%, LAB 31%, LDEM 15%, SNP 30%.

UPDATE: Another Scottish YouGov poll in the Sunday Times, carried out between the 10th and 12th January, has Westminster voting intention at CON 16%, LAB 35%, LDEM 15%, SNP 28%. In the Scottish Parliament constituency vote the split is CON 13%, LAB 29%, LDEM 18%, SNP 35% and the regional voting intention is CON 14%, LAB 30%, LDEM 14%, SNP 32%.

The first voting intention poll of 2007 shows the Conservatives seven points ahead, the highest recorded by Populus since they started polling in 2003. The full voting intention figures, with changes from last month’s poll, are CON 39% (+5), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 18%(-1).

To some extent the big jump in Conservative support is likely to be no more than a correction after a poll last month that looked unusually low for the Tories – Populus’s recorded a 1 point Conservative lead when pollsters like YouGov and ICM, who normally produce broadly similar figures, were showing leads of between 4 and 8 points. That said, it is still the highest lead yet recorded by a pollster that normally produces comparatively low Conservative leads.

Unusually the poll also shows Labour performing better under Brown than under Blair. Each month Populus asks a hypothetical voting intention question every month, asking how people would vote if the party leaders were David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Sir Menzies Campbell. Invariably this shows the Conservative lead increasing with Brown as leader, but this month it shows Labour increasing their vote to 34% under Brown, the first poll since BPIX back in March 2005 to show Labour doing better under Brown.

The poll echoed previous findings on whether Gordon Brown should call a general election soon after becoming Prime Minister. 56% of respondents, including 76% of Tory voters and 40% of Labour voters, support having an election soon after the new Labour leader succeeds Tony Blair.

UPDATE: The full hypothetical voting intention were Gordon Brown to be Labour leader were CON 39%, LAB 34%, LDEM 15%. Populus also asked how people would vote if John Reid were Labour leader. Questions like this are important – one of the few imaginable scenarios where Gordon Brown does not replace Tony Blair is if polls consistently show that a different leader would do far better than Brown would as Labour leader. In this case John Reid clearly doesn’t – Populus suggest that with Reid as leader people would vote CON 44%, LAB 27%, LDEM 20% – a Conservative landslide victory.

Populus also asked respondents to rate the three party leaders out of ten – figures for all three were broadly steady with David Cameron top with an average rating of 5.11 (down slightly from 5.2 in the autumn), Tony Blair on 4.69 (up from 4.63) and Sir Menzies Campbell on 4.65 (a slightly more substantial increase from 4.47).