ICM gives the Tories a 6% lead

ICM gives the Tories a 6% lead


    ..and Brown trails 11% on “who would be best PM”

In the first public poll after the conference season ICM in the Sunday Telegraph is reporting a big increase in the Tory lead and some poor figures for the Chancellor over “who would make the best Prime Minister”.

The shares with comparisons on the last ICM poll a week ago are CON 38% (+2): LAB 32% (-3): LD 20%(+1). This is the second biggest lead that the pollster has had for the Tories for at least a decade and a half and gives a big boost for David Cameron after his week by the seaside in Bournemouth.

A finding that could have an impact on Labour succession was when ICM asked “Who would you prefer as Prime Minister – David Cameron or Gordon Brown?”. The sample split Cameron 45: Brown 34. There was some switch of allegiance here with 12% of the Tories supporters naming Brown and 20% of Labour backers going for Cameron.

By far the biggest dangers to Brown in his quest for the top job are opinion polls. After spending almost all the 1992-2005 period with substantial leads a sustained series of polling deficits eats away at party morale. If Gordon is not the answer then who is?

Of course the Labour and Team Brown spinners will try to put the best gloss on the numbers. It will be said that the survey took place on Wednesday and Thursday when the Tories were experiencing the biggest benefits from their conference and, particularly, David Cameron’s closing speech. Undoubtedly that had an impact but Cameron’s speech barely made the front pages and the TV coverage was only a small fraction of that the previous week for Tony Blair. Also the speech was squeezed in many bulletins by the developing American school shooting story.

Labour will also seek to take comfort from the fact that they had many massive poll leads during the long Tory years only to see them slither away when the General Election came. There is certainly something in that but those were the days before the pollsters took steps to control the massive Labour bias that existed with conventional sampling techniques.

The Lib Dems usually do well in ICM polls because the names of the three main parties are included in the voting intention question. Ming Campbell and his team will be pleased to be moving forward in the same week when the focus was on Cameron.

The latest Labour leadership betting prices have Gordon Brown at 0.55/1.

Mike Smithson

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