MORI have released their monthly political monitor (their poll earlier this week was a seperate one, commissioned by the Daily Mirror). The topline figures, with changes from earlier this week, are CON 39%(-2), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 15%(+4). I don’t have confirmed fieldwork dates yet, but it was likely done over the weekend.

Given the extremely short gap since the previous lot of fieldwork and the lack of any great world shattering events that could explain a big jump in Lib Dem support, I expect the changes here are no more than normal random sampling error (that is, the variation in the make up between one sample and the next) – though we are getting into the period when I’m slightly wary of polling results anyway as Christmas shopping starts to skew the people who are at home to take phone calls. The overall picture remains a Tory lead in the mid single figures.

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian, which we had expected yesterday, is out on their website now. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s last poll, are CON 38%(-7), LAB 33%(+3), LDEM 19%(+1). The poll was conducted between the 12th and 14th December.

As with Ipsos MORI, the other pollster that had shown a double point Conservative lead in the direct aftermath of the pre-budget report, this ICM polls shows Labour increasing, the Conservatives dropping back and the lead narrowing back into single figures. Unlike MORI and YouGov ICM has the Conservatives below the symbolic 40 percent level, but I suspect the diference between the polls there is a knock on effect of the much higher level of Liberal Democrat support ICM invariably report.

A lot of the media seem to be getting themselves up into early electon fever again, now the final double point lead for the Conservatives has fallen and all the polls are showing the Tory lead down to single figures I’d expect that to continue (Julian Glover and Martin Kettle both respond to the poll in tomorrow’s Guardian by focusing squarely on what it means for an early election), though luckily for the government the media bandwagon effect will be broken by Christmas itself – few political stories have the momentum to perpetuate themselves across that (that said, before someone else points it out, it doesn’t mean the same story won’t fire itself up again as soon as some January polls show a tight race).


As usual, the Sunday Times commissioned questions on quite a grab bag of topics. The full results are here, and here are a few of the other interesting findings therein. Firstly, asked about the pre-budget report, the majority of people supported the measures – 54% to 30% – but there was also little confidence that that they would help make the recession shorter or less severe. 28% thought they would definitely (3%) or probably (25%) make things better, 17% thought they would make things worse, 45% thought they would make little difference at all.

Borrowing still appears to be the weakness in the government’s approach. 27% agreed with the statement that ‘It is right for the government to increase borrowing sharply at a time like this, in order to support the economy and stop the recession becoming too deep’, but 48% agreed instead with the statement ‘It is wrong for the government to increase borrowing so sharply: any short-term benefits will be less than the longer term costs to the economy and to taxpayers’. Notably, this is the same question that YouGov asked for the Telegraph on the day of the PBR – back then the figures were 33% to 50%, so the balance of opinion has shiftly marginally against borrowing since then.

YouGov went on to give respondents a list of other statements about the economic debate. On the idea of Gordon Brown as a major global figure, taking a lead in deciding world policies was narrowing disagreed with, 44% to 40%, though given the normal public cynicism towards politicians I’d regard this as a very positive finding for Brown. Other findings were less good, 53% agreed that the government weren’t actually interested in doing what was best for the economy, only what would help win the election (32% disagreed), 43% thought David Cameron was right to say that Labour’s spending plans can’t be afforded (32% disagreed). Finally, as with ComRes’s survey, there was surprisingly little support for the accusation that the Conservative were a “do nothing” party: 38% agreed and 39% disagreed. As with the question of Brown as a world leader, I’d expect normal public cynicism about politicians to produce support for this statement, but it hasn’t.

It would seem from these figures that a weak point for the government seems to be the accusation that they are borrowing too much, a strong point Gordon Brown being seen as a global figure in the forefront of the global effort to manage the economic crisis. The Government attack on the Conservatives as a “do nothing” party meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have as much traction as one might have expected.

Moving on, for what I think must be the first time in several years they asked about attitudes to the Euro. 31% of people said Britain should rule out joining on principle, 22% said Britain should not join for the next four or five years at least, 27% supported joining when economic condiction were right, 11% supported joining now. Asked how they would vote in a referendum on joining the Euro, 24% would vote yes, 59% no.

Finally, YouGov asked about airport expansion. 50% of respondents agreed with the statement that “we have to expand out airport capacity or else suffer long-term economic damage”, 30% that “we shouldn’t expand airport capacity anymore even if it does hurt the economy” (there were 21% don’t knows, which I suspect may be high because of respondents who believed you could stop airport expansion without damaging the economy”). On the specific question of the Stanstead protesters, while 48% sympathised with their motives, 81% disapproved of their methods.

As I had rather hoped we are getting a real flurry of polls now – a new MORI poll in this morning’s Daily Mirror shows the Conservative lead dropping to 5 points, bringing it much more into line with polls from other companies than the 11 point lead they showed last time.

The full topline figures, with changes from their last poll, are CON 41%(-2), LAB 36%(+4), LDEM 11%(-4). The poll was conducted on the 10th and 11th of December. The Liberal Democrat score is the lowest they have recorded since October last year straight after Ming Campbell resigned, although MORI do tend to produce some of the lower scores for the Liberal Democrats.

We should get an ICM poll for the Guardian tonight. Their previous poll showed a fifteen point Tory lead at the height of negative press coverage about the PBR and I would be very surprised if they didn’t show a comparable drop in the Tory lead. If they do we may yet end the year with a broadly consistent picture across the polls – with companies all showing a Conservative lead down to single figures. That said, ICM aren’t likely to show the Lib Dems as far down as 11% and there are still another MORI poll, YouGov’s monthly poll, and probably another ComRes poll to come before we can draw a curtain over 2008.

UPDATE: Just for the record, I was looking at that 11% for the Lib Dems and wondering about prompting by party name. When Ipsos MORI used to do their interviews face-to-face they showed respondents a card with the party names on for them to choose from. Since they’ve switched to phone polling, it’s isn’t obvious how they prompt with party name. Could the low Lib Dem score be because they weren’t prompting with party name anymore? I’m happy to report it isn’t: MORI’s question is now “How would you vote if there were a General Election held tomorrow? Would you vote (rotate order) Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or for some other party?”, with the SNP and Plaid included in Scotland and Wales respectively.

A second poll out tonight comes from YouGov in the Sunday Times. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll taken the day of the pre-budget report, are CON 41%(+1), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 15(+1). The poll was conducted on the 11th and 12th December.

While there is a slight increase in the Conservative lead, there is no significant change here. The Tory lead is in he same sort of ballpark as Populus’s 4 point lead last week and along with Populus it suggests that, if those big double-point leads from ICM and Ipsos MORI were meaningful and not just a co-incidence, then any boost the Conservatives got straight after the PBR faded away once the agenda moved on to Damian Green and other matters.