Labour’s lead down a point to 5%
The August poll by Ipsos-Mori in the Sun shows a slight reduction in the Labour lead compared with July and might just take the heat out of the 2007 general election suggestions. The shares are with changes on last month – CON 33%(-2): LAB 38%(-3): LDM 15%(nc).
The striking feature of the numbers is the sharp cut-back in the the proportion saying they would vote for the three main parties – 86% in August compared with 91% last month.
We have not got a detailed breakdown but the increase in the “others” total could indicate an advancement by the SNP. In a Scotland-only survey by a non-BPC pollster yesterday these were the shares – CON 8%, LAB 32%, LD 8%, SNP 48%.
Ipsos-Mori operates a different methodology from all the other pollsters and does not seek to ensure politically balanced samples through past vote weighting. The firm always says that it is not trying to predict an election but provide a sort of barometer reading. The headline figures only include those who say they are certain to vote.
Even with these caveats the latest poll will not increase the confidence in the Brown camp about an October election. For Gordon is surely only going to risk going to the country after just two and half years if he can be reasonably assured of increasing Labour’s majority. Any reduction from what Tony got in May 2005 could be seen as a rejection.
There’s also the Scottish angle to think of. A rising SNP vote, a sort of honeymoon bounce for the new first minister, Alex Salmond, might produce Labour losses north of the border which together with the boundary changes in England could make achieving the 66 majority target quite challenging.
My guess is that the Tories will be quite relieved by these latest numbers. Although their share is down Labour’s has slipped further and the period of appalling publicity for David Cameron does not appear to have caused that much damage.
My betting position that there will not be a 2007 election remains.