ICM have a new poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph. The topline figures with changes from about a fortnight ago are CON 42%(-2), LAB 25%(-2), LDEM 21%(+3).

The Conservative lead is unchanged at a landslide winning 17 points, but both the Conservatives and Labour are down, with the Lib Dems up three points to 21%. ICM normally give the Liberal Democrats the highest level of support of all the pollsters anyway, but leaving aside their 23% conference boost this is the highest Lib Dem score from ICM since May.

The 17 point lead does contrast with the more modest leads recorded by YouGov and ComRes, but technically all three party figures are well within each others’ margins of error and a lead of 15 points or so. Of course, if it was solely sample error, it would even out over time – we would not see one pollster consistently reporting larger leads than another one. Just recently it has appeared that ICM are consistently showing a larger lead than YouGov, but Populus, who use a very similar method to ICM, are showing a lower lead – so while I’m keeping a careful eye on it, I think it’s most likely just normal sample variation.

The Sunday Times also reports that ICM have carried out polling in Stoke on Trent, Blackburn and Leicestershire North West for the Equalities and Human Rights Commision, which shows the BNP at 18% in those areas. There are no figures yet – the report suggests it is not being published for several weeks – but it’ll be something to look out for.

President Blair

Events seem to have already overtaken this one, given that speculation now is that Tony Blair does not have the support to be the first President of the EU council. However, for what it’s worth, today’s Telegraph has a snippet from their monthly YouGov poll that shows the public still evenly divided over whether they would like to see Tony Blair as EU President or not – 31% would, 31% wouldn’t.


The full tables for YouGov’s Welsh poll for the University of Aberystwyth are now available here.

As well as the Westminster voting intentions, there are also figures for the Welsh Assembly:

Constituency: CON 25%, LAB 32%, LDEM 12%, PC 24%
Regional: CON 27%, LAB 30%, LDEM 11%, PC 21%, BNP 4%, Green 3%

That’s actually relatively little change in constituency vote since the last election, but an increase in regional support for the Conservatives. By my calculations, on a uniform swing that would produce an assembly with 24 Labour members (down 2), 17 Conservative members (up 5), 12 Plaid Cymru members (down 3), 6 Lib Dems (no change) and 1 independent.

There was wide support for a referendum on giving the Assembly full law-making powers, with 63% in favour. Voting intention in a referendum though was far more evenly split: 42% would vote YES and 37% NO. On the broader question of Wales’s status, 14% would prefer an entirely independent Wales, 34% would prefer Wales to remain in the UK but with a full Parliament with law making and tax raising powers, 27% preferred the status quo and 17% would like to see the Assembly abolished.

The outgoing First Minister Rhodri Morgan retains very positive approval ratings, with 63% of people thinking he is doing well and only 19% thinking he is doing a bad job (though of course the poll was taken after he announced his retirement, if you recall, when Tony Blair finally got round to stepping down his figures suddenly became far more positive). Figures for how well people think his potential successors would do are unenlightening, with huge proportions of people saying don’t know.

A couple of people are getting flustered about the BNP trying to infiltrate the YouGov panel. Over on Political Betting Mike Smithson has rightly dismissed it, but I’ve now got the chapter and verse from Peter Kellner (see the bottom of this post).

Things like this come along occassionally – basically they could only work if YouGov didn’t manage or monitor its panel and took no measures to prevent it, when in reality, carrying out accurate online polls is all about carefully recruiting and managing a representative panel. Any attempt to infiltrate the panel to the extent that it could actually have an effect upon results would be easy to detect and very simple to counter.

You can do the maths yourself. YouGov has in the region of 250,000 on their panel, so to actually shift the result of an opinion poll by 1 point would require about 2,500 people. More to the point, it would require 2,500 joining in a way that several full time professional panel management people did not notice. A sudden surge of 2500 new members, who all joined through the open website (most people are recruited pro-actively) and who all answered questions in a particular way would be pretty bloody obvious. (In this case, secrecy probably wouldn’t be helped by them all using the same referral code and openly informing people of the “plot” on their website ;) )

All that aside, YouGov have reanalysed the poll, looking to see if recent recruits are any different to long standing members of the panel, and more specifically, were more likely to say they were backing the BNP. They weren’t and newer recruits made no difference to the result.

Anyway, here’s Peter’s take in full

1. There have been reports in parts of the blogosphere that certain YouGov members have been attempting to recruit BNP members to the YouGov panel, in order to influence the results of polls and generate revenue for the BNP. Here is YouGov’s response to these reports.

2. YouGov actively recruits the majority of our panel using a variety of techniques, although self-signup and referrals from other members are also possible. We constantly monitor the profile of new panel members, and track differences in survey results, to ensure that our panel is representative, and to protect the quality and integrity of our data. Moreover, YouGov’s sampling methods ensure that new members who sign themselves up cannot have a statistically significant impact on any YouGov polling results.

3. As a further test, YouGov has examined the results of the survey conducted after BBC Question Time poll. The survey, of 1314 electors, included 156 who had joined our panel since May 2009. This covers the period when, it is claimed, BNP bloggers advised party members to join our panel. Of these 156, just one respondent said they would vote BNP in a general election. Any attempts to inflitrate YouGov’s panel with the aim of increasing the BNP’s reported support have plainly failed. We are not surprised: the number and characteristics of people joining the panel since May have been no different from normal.

4. Nevertheless, to put the issue beyond doubt, and in line with our practice at the last general election, we had already started a “close”period, during which no new self-signups or member referrals to YouGov will be invited to take part in political polls. This “close” period started on September 1 and will last until after the election.

5. Any panel member who acts, or entices others to act, in a way that seeks to distort our data violates our rules. We apply various techniques to detect such actions and remove offenders from our panel. In practice the impact of this is statistically insignificant; but we consider it vital to take all possible steps to protect the quality and integrity of our data, and so maintain our record as Britain’s most accurate survey research agency.

YouGov Welsh poll

YouGov have published that rarest of creatures, a Welsh opinion poll. In this Parliament so far all we’ve had for Wales are a couple of Beaufort research polls, who don’t have the most shining reputation, and some commissioned by the BBC which haven’t included voting intention, so it’s a delight to have some proper figures.

According to YouGov voting intention in Wales stands at CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 12%, PC 15%. Since the general election this represents a 9 point rise for the Conservatives, a 9 point drop for Labour, a 6 point fall for the Lib Dems and a 2 point rise for Plaid Cymru – the equivalent of a 9 point swing from Labour to the Conservatives, and roughly the same sort of figures we’ve been seeing in GB polls, so Wales seems to be following the national trend.

On a uniform swing, these figures would see Labour lose 10 seats, the Conservatives gain 9, the Lib Dems lose 2 and Plaid Cymru gain 3.