Labour’s ICM deficit slashed to 5%

Labour’s ICM deficit slashed to 5%

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    But the Tory lead widens to 8% with Brown as Labour leader

The headline General Election voting intention figures show a big improvement for Labour in this month’s ICM poll in the Guardian. The shares are with the changes on October CON 37% (-2): LAB 32% (+3): LD 22% (nc). This brings the pollster more into line with the other firms but still contrasts sharply with the 5% Labour lead in the same survey a year ago two weeks before the change in the Tory leadership.

For the Guardian, however, the big news is not the change in the headline figures but the responses to the second question in the survey – how people would vote if it was Gordon Brown’s Labour that was up against David Cameron’s Tories and Ming Campbell’s Liberal Democrats.

    And like in every single survey from ever single pollster that has asked this question in the past year naming Cameron, Brown and Campbell makes Labour’s relative position worse. But this might be a case of Cameron’s name boosting his party’s position rather than having anything to do with views of Gordon Brown.

These were the named leader party shares showing comparisons with what ICM found when the question was last asked in September – CON 40% (+3): LAB 32% (+1): LD 20% (-1%).

So comparing the named leader responses with November’s headline shares Labour stays the same but there is a shift from the Lib Dems to the the Tories.

Whatever this will be disappointing for the Gordon Brown camp particularly as the survey took place just after Tony Blair’s apparent endorsement of Brown as his successor in the Queen’s Speech debate and the Chancellor’s high profile visit to Iraq.

Is Labour really going to fare worse when Gordon takes over and could the findings raise doubts over the near certainty of his succession? Certainly I have always felt that poll findings like these are probably the only thing that could possibly stand in the way of Gordon getting the job but today’s deficit is probably not large enough for a panic.

For me the poll reinforces serious doubts about the way both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are dealing with David Cameron. The more that they attack the Tory leader the more his name is linked with his party and the better Cameron does in polls like this. Clearly Blair’s “clunking big fist” reference was a damp squib.

The Brown view is said to be that Labour should attack the Tory leader even more. The numbers suggest that they should just shut up and ignore him – a line that I have been taking since March.

In the Labour leadership betting the Brown price has tightened a touch to 0.22/1 although at 0215 GMT the last trade on Betfair was at 0.24/1.

Mike Smithson

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