Communicate’s monthly poll for the Independent is out. The headline figures with changes from their poll last month are CON 37%(+2), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 18%(-1). The poll was conducted between the 22nd and 24th June, so fieldwork would have been conducted after Gordon Brown’s job offer to Liberal Democrat lords, and just after the end of hte European summit that agreed the new treaty.

The poll clearly isn’t telling the same story as the recent MORI poll – Communicate still have a reputation for being somewhat erratic, but they have adopted past vote weighting in recent months so their polls should be more stable. There isn’t yet any clear “Brown boost” here, if anything the Conservatives are recovering – though I hasten to add that the movements are not large enough to be significant.

The picture in the polls seem somewhat confusing at the moment – with some polls showing Labour continuing to catch the Conservatives (or in the case of MORI, overtake them), others showing them faultering, or the Tories moving ahead again. The broader picture is still one of the Conservative lead falling compared to a couple of months back – as should be expected given Labour’s change of leader and the attendent publicity, but beyond that we seem to be in a period of flux. We should be having a feast of polls over the next week or two to herald the arrival of the new Prime Minister, so hopefully we’ll end up with a clearer picture…though I wouldn’t bank on it.

No, not all in the same poll, but a few new polls from the last couple of days. An ICM poll for BBC Wales has found support for a “rainbow coalition” to govern Wales. 41% of respondents backed a coalition between Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and Lib Dems, compared to 28% favouring a Labour/Plaid deal and 21% supporting a Labour/Lib Dem coalition.Rhodri Morgan remained the most popular choice for First Minister. In a straight choice between Ieuan Wyn Jones and Rhodri Morgan, 48% preferred Morgan to 34% for Jones. Finally, 47% said they would be in favour of giving the Welsh Assembly full law making and tax raising powers, 44% would be against.

Next up, we are yet to see the first voting intention poll since the controversy over Gordon Brown’s offer of cabinet seats to the Liberal Democrats, but Populus’s weekly poll for the Daily politics contained one question about it – 34% of people said they would be more likely to support Gordon Brown if he included Liberal Democrats in his government, 55% said they would not.

Finally Slugger O’Toole has details of a new poll in Northern Ireland showing 54% of people favoured Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK (including 22% of Catholics), with 30% supporting a united Ireland.


An Ipsos-MORI poll in the Observor tomorrow records the first Labour lead in any poll since December last year. The headline figures with changes from MORI’s poll last month are CON 36% (-1), LAB 39% (+4), LDEM 15% (-3).

On the surface there appears to have been a significant switch from the Lib Dems to Labour – along with ICM MORI tend to give the highest level of support for the Liberal Democrats, and the figure of 15% is the lowest in a MORI poll since the immediate aftermath of Charlie Kennedy’s resignation. It is perhaps tempting to associate the shift with the recent fuss over Gordon Brown’s offer of government jobs to Liberal Democrat peers, but I don’t yet know when the fieldwork for this poll was conducted. If it is MORI’s monthly face-to-face poll, the turn-around is often slower than phone polls and the chances are it was wholly or partially conducted before the story broke – potentially ruling out the story as a possible cause.

I expect a large number of polls over the next week or so to coincide with Gordon Brown’s accession to the premiership. MORI’s figures tend to be a bit more volatile than the other pollsters. so we may or may not see this shift reflected in other polls – it’s likely however that we will get a pretty good idea over the next couple of days as to exactly how large the “Brown boost” in the polls is!

UPDATE: The fieldwork was indeed conducted prior to the news about Gordon Brown’s approaches to the Lib Dems, so there can be no connection between the figures and the story.

UPDATE 2: Ralph in my comments below has been perusing the full tables on MORI’s website here. The recalled past vote in this poll (i.e. the way people said they voted at the last election) was Conservative 20%, Labour 35%, Lib Dems 11%, other 4%, didn’t vote 25%. In MORI’s poll last month it was Conservative 20%, Labour 32%, Lib Dems 14%, other 5%, didn’t vote 23%.

In other words, a poll that found Labour up four percent apparantly contained three percentage points more previous Labour supporters than last month’s poll to begin with; the same poll found the Lib Dems down three percent, and had started out with a sample containing three percentage points fewer former Lib Dem voters. “Co-incidence?” asked Ralph – well, what can you say?

It doesn’t invalidate the findings thorugh. In fact, we have no way of knowing whether MORI have just had the misfortune of ending up with a sample that was particularly heavy with Labour supporters and light with Lib Dems, resulting in a misleading apparant shift in support, or whether there has been a genuine shift in support that means that people are more willing to admit that they voted Labour in the past. It could be that both samples are pretty much the same, and that people’s willingness to admit to voting Labour in the past has changed. We really don’t know, and it is one of the dividing lines in polling at the moment – companies like ICM and Populus think that recall of past vote is pretty stable, and when they do polls they weight them so they are always made up of the same proportions of past Labour, past Conservative and past Lib Dem voters. MORI think that levels of false recall can change, so don’t use this sort of weighting.

Two very similar new polls about the European Union in advance of the newly negotiated EU treaty – ICM for Open Europe and YouGov for Paul Sykes’s Speak Out campaign.

Both polls show around half the public think that the EU already has too much power (in slightly differently worded questions YouGov found 59% thought the EU had too much power, ICM found 49%). Few people (6% in YouGov’s poll and 15% in ICM’s) thought the EU should have greater powers.

Both also found an overwhelming majority in favour of a referendum if the new treaty gives extra powers to the EU – 78% in YouGov’s poll and 86% in ICM’s.

ICM asked how people would vote in a referendum on a treaty that “gives more powers to the EU” – 65% said they would vote against, with only 26% voting in favour. YouGov’s question was slightly more subtle – only 4% said they would vote in favour, 40% said they would vote against, 45% said it would depend upon the exact details of the treaty. This is actually an interesting result, and one that shows the difficulty facing the government in trying to win any such referendum: 40% of people say they will vote against a European treaty almost regardless of what the actual contents are. To win a referendum, the government would need to win over the vast majority of the 45% of people who say their vote would depend on what was actually in the treaty and, presumably, are open to pursuasion.

Finally ICM asked whether it would make people less likely to vote Labour if Gordon Brown ratified the treaty without allowing a referendum. 21% of people said it wouldn’t make them less likely to vote Labour, 74% said it would. As regular readers will know, I’m not a fan of questions like this and prefer the format YouGov sometimes use were people are given the option of saying “No difference – I’ll vote Labour anyway” and “No difference – I wouldn’t vote Labour anyway”. A lot of the people answering this question and saying it would make them less likely to vote Labour wouldn’t vote Labour if hell froze over. 86% of Tory identifiers, for example, say it would make them less likely to vote Labour. In this case though, it doesn’t seem to be just Tories expressing concern – 43% of Labour identifiers also say it would “definitely” make them less likely to vote Labour. Of course, saying that to a pollster to send a message is different to actually changing your vote, but it’s worth remembering that Europe isn’t an issue that only worries Tory voters in the shires.

Today’s Channel 4 news has a new YouGov poll asking people about their perceptions of the party leaders and their parties on a left-right scale (full details here). Obviously it is easy to argue that a left-right scale is pretty arbitary and doesn’t mean much in this day and age, but questions like this are very useful in measuring how close people think parties and politicians are to themselves and who is closest to the “centre ground”. More importantly, since YouGov have previously asked the same question in April 2005 and February and September 2006, it lets us see how perceptions of the parties are changing.

Respondents were asked to rate politicans and parties on a scale of “very left-wing”, “fairly left-wing”, “slightly left of centre”, “centre”, “slightly right of centre”, “fairly right-wing” and “very left-wing”, but YouGov have converted into a numerical scale so we can get average results for each politician/party.

The average respondent puts themself at +1, so almost bang on centre. David Cameron is at +33 (the score YouGov gave to “slightly right of centre”), marginally more centrist than last year when he scored +35 and +34 and significantly more centrist than his predecessor Michael Howard was in 2005 (+53). However, despite Cameron being more centrist, he has barely shifted perceptions of the Conservative party as a whole, who have an average score of +52, compared to +50 and +53 last year. Sadly YouGov didn’t ask the question about the party in April 2005, but still being seen as just as right-wing as Michael Howard was doesn’t suggest perceptions of the Conservative party beyond Cameron himself have moved to the centre!

While perceptions of Cameron and the Conservatives have remained static since last year, views of Gordon Brown and Labour have shifted…or more to the point, they have swapped places. In February 2006 the Labour party as a whole scored an average of -27 on the scale, with Gordon Brown seen as somewhat more centrist at -21. In September 2006 perceptions of Brown and the Labour party in general were almost identical. The latest figures show Labour on an average of -22, but Brown on -26. Strangely enough, Brown is now seen as more left-wing than the Labour party in general are.

Contrasted to Tony Blair of course neither man can stake claim to the centre ground, in February 2006 Blair had an average score of +5. The 2005 election was a contest between a leader bang in the centre of politics against a leader seen out on the right. Now we approach a contest between two leaders seen as respectively slightly to the right and slightly to the left of centre. The difference between them is that Cameron is seen as the centrist leader of a more right wing party, while Brown is seen as slightly to the left of his centre-left party.