A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Guardian ICM Poll

Interesting poll in the Guardian today - full details here.

Good news for the Tories as they are on 40% (+1% compared to the most recent ICM poll which was in the News of the World rather than the Guardian) - just into election winning territory.

The strange part is that despite the bad news over the last few weeks Labour is actually up 1% to 32% and its the Lib Dems, whose only news coverage has been Lembit Opik's cheeky antics, who are down 2% on 18%. The Guardian says "Labour's resilient performance confirms a trend suggesting support for the party has hit a bedrock of just over 30% and will not drop below that."

There's analysis by Anthony Wells (a Tory) here and Mike Smithson (a Lib Dem) here

The additional question re. who current party supporters would think about switching to is useful for political strategists:

Of Labour supporters, 30% would consider voting LD, 18% would consider voting Tory, 16% would consider voting Green, 9% would consider voting UKIP

Of Tory supporters, 32% would consider voting LD, 19% would consider voting Green, 14% would consider voting UKIP and only 10% would consider voting Labour

Of Lib Dem supporters, 32% would consider voting Labour, 30% would consider voting Green, 18% would consider voting Tory.

Of "other" voters (the biggest components of which are the SNP and Greens), 38% would consider voting LD, only 17% would consider voting Labour.

So -

Labour has not lost much support direct to the Tories - yet (hence we are not far adrift of our 2005 General Election support).
The Tories seem to have hoovered up a lot of the right wing of the 2005 Lib Dem vote but we (Labour) haven't won back the 1/3 of LDs that we could.
The LDs also need to really fear the Greens (as evidenced in many inner London council wards in May).
There isn't a lot of scope for Labour in squeezing the Greens and other minor parties - we aren't the second preference of those voters.

So going forward we need to work out how to grab back the 1/3 of Lib Dems (about 6% of the total voters) who might think about voting for us without alienating the 1/5 of our current support (about 6.5% of voters) that might defect to Cameron (or the 1/6 of our current support that might go for parties further to the right than the Tories) - and not forgetting about the 10% of Tories (4% of the electorate) who might switch back to us.

The location of these potential switchers is also key - are the 10% of Tories who might go Labour in more marginal seats than the 32% of Lib Dems?

And ... a Tory switcher in a Lab-Con marginal is worth a net change of 2 in the seat's majority (-1 Con, +1 Lab) whereas a Lib Dem switcher or a non-voter persuaded to vote only cause a net change of 1 - they up the Labour vote but don't reduce the Tory vote.

I don't think the LDs have gone as low as they can - a Labour recovery and continued urban growth in activity by the Greens could mean they end up back where Paddy Ashdown started in the early '90s.


Blogger Harry Perkins said...

This is desperately bad spin. The Tories have an 8-point lead. That is an absolute and utter disaster. If we continue on this course, we face oblivion. We will be thrown out the office and left with a Labour party that is but a hollow shell.

We are not going to be helped by Labour's own Comical Ali, or indeed someone who increasingly reminds me the Black Knight guarding the bridge in Monty Python's The Holy Grail. When he has both arms chopped off, he responds: "Just a flesh wound!"

2:22 pm, December 20, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


I'm not trying to spin it.

I said it was good news for the Tories.

The point isn't to say "we are up shit creek" it is to ask what kind of canoe and paddle we need and which direction do we need to point the boat.

The detail of the Guardian poll helps us with the answers.

Your answer - turn very sharp left - would lose us far more of our current 32% support than it would gain us from the small group of voters to our left.

When your strategy was tried we lost a general election by 16% - double the current Tory lead - and were less than 1% ahead of the 3rd party, not the 14% ahead we are now.

2:44 pm, December 20, 2006

Blogger Harry Perkins said...

In 1983, the Labour party had split in two. There were effectively a right and a left Labour party competing against each other. Former ministers and Labour leaders were denouncing the manifesto in the runup to the election. Above all, Thatcher had just won a war against Argentina and was swept back to power partly on a wave of jingoism.

The public is to the left of the Government on issues like anti-privatisation, renationalisation of the railways, Iraq, foreign policy, workers' rights, etc. New Labour could win general elections when there was no credible opposition of any sort - although it won the last election with the lowest share of the vote in the history of British democracy. Clearly the situation is rather different now.

A Real Labour Government would win back the millions of disaffected working class voters who have simply stopped voting (and thereby thrown out of the political process) as well as so-called 'Middle England'. After all, 'Middle England' voters want properly funded schools and hospitals; they don't like NHS cuts because of privatisation; they don't want their kids saddled with years of debt for going to university; they marched against the Iraq war and they don't want more US-led wars; and they resent being in the same tax bracket as people earning a million pounds a year.

At the moment we have three political parties saying roughly the same thing, robbing the electorate of a choice - which is key to a properly functioning democracy.

2:55 pm, December 20, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

If the "public is to the left of the Government" why is the Tory vote going up, our's staying stable or going up slightly, and the Lib Dems' going down?

Unfortunately as both William Hague and Michael Howard discovered, if you offer the electorate a clear choice by vacating the centre ground, they express a choice - for a more moderate party.

4:22 pm, December 20, 2006

Anonymous observer said...

Luke Akehurst writes: "If the "public is to the left of the Government" why is the Tory vote going up ... ?"

Because, on some issues (e.g. ID cards), the Tories are (allegedly) to the left of the Government.

6:20 pm, December 20, 2006


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