Boost for Brown as the conference season begins

Boost for Brown as the conference season begins


    Tory ICM lead down to just 4%

With the annual party conference season getting under way this morning there’s a an ICM poll in the Sunday Mirror that should steady the nerves of Labour and probably help Gordon Brown in his bid to succeed Tony Blair. The shares are with changes on the last ICM poll three weeks ago CON 37 (-3): LAB 33 (+2): LD 21 (-1).

From a Labour perspective a four point margin is manageable and does not present the disaster scenario of the 9% Tory lead that the August Guardian poll suggested. Of all the pollsters ICM is the most respected and its figures command the most attention. There’s little doubt that the findings last month played a part in Labour’s crisis.

    The chances of Labour looking for a new leader other than Gordon Brown will, in my view, be reduced if other polls are showing a similar picture. I’ve now adjusted my betting position so I am less exposed on a Brown victory.

In fact, taking the Baxter seat calculator, the current shares if repeated at a General Election would give CON 276: LAB 292: LD 50 seats – thus Labour would be 34 short of a majority. Using the same calculator last month’s poll would have given an overall Tory majority of 10 seats.

The Lib Dems, who are gathering in Brighton, will feel a little more reassured that they are still polling about 20% in spite of all their trials and tribulations in the past year. The Cameron driven increase in the Tory share has mostly been at the expense of Labour – not them.

When news of the poll came through overnight there was a discussion here about the fact that ICM regularly records a total for “others” which is smaller than the other main pollsters. I think the answer to this is in the way that the pollsters put the questions. Just compare these two approaches.

The ICM format is: The Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and other parties would fight a new election in your area. If there were a general election tomorrow which party do you think you would vote for?

Populus ask it like this. If there were a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

The ICM approach puts the focus on the three main parties and this is probably the reason it gets the figures it does. Of all the pollsters I would not argue with ICM.

Latest Labour leadership betting is here.

UPDATE: I understand that in Scotland ICM mention the SNP and in Wales PC when they asked their intention to vote question.

Mike Smithson

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