CON 43(+1)LAB 30(nc)LD 18(-3)
No solace for Brown in new poll
A new ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph puts the Conservatives on 43%, Labour on 30%, and the Liberal Democrats on 18%. The changes from the last ICM poll (in the Guardian on October 19th) show that the Tories gained 1 point, Labour saw no change, and the Lib Dems fell by 3 points from their previous score of 21%.
In spite of a good win in Glenrothes, increasing both the number of Labour votes and the voting share compared to the 2005 General Election, it seems that Brown is not closing in on David Cameron’s lead in the opinion polls. This suggests that Mike Smithson was right when he suggested that the ‘Brown Bounce’ might be confined to the Labour heartlands, and that the PM is still not managing to win back voters in English marginals.
It’s not been a great week in the news for the Conservatives – more rumblings about George Osborne needing to be moved, and Labour activists taking great succour from a by-election victory midway through their third time – and the leadership is being chastised by activists for not doing more to shame the Government on its economic record.
I think those activists are wrong on both counts. Though I do not find the Shadow Chancellor a particularly appealing figure, there is no doubting his political ability and how central he has been to the Cameronite rejuvenation of the Conservative Party. Also, to move him would be an overreaction that would infer a degree of panic quite unneccessary when holding a 13-point lead.
The media is still running with the idea that Brown has helped the UK and the world navigate their way out of the worst of the economic storms – this might change soon, but until it does, I cannot see the Conservatives enjoying the favourable coverage that we saw pre-Conference. When the media narrative finally turns against the Government again that will be the time to break radio silence. If this is the ‘lull’ of which I wrote several weeks ago, then managing it by staying out of the limelight is the most prudent path.
The 13-point lead looks fairly strong, and there is no need to fight every skirmish between now and the election. As the return of Mandelson and the Deripaska Yacht story showed, Labour would be only too happy for this contest to become a mud-wrestle that would obliterate all distinction between the parties. That would be my tactic if I were in their shoes, and David Cameron must be careful not to play that game.
The Lib Dems have falled back from their high-point of 21%, but 18% is still relatively good, even from the pollster that seems to give them the most generous estimations of support. Glenrothes was humiliating for them, but I don’t think it has damaged the party which is slowly but surely starting to find its voice on certain issues.
No particular change – the question is whether the Conservatives are disciplined enough to keep it that way, or whether Labour will use this momentum to lay siege to that lead.
Note from Mike Smithson: Putting these latest numbers into the UK Polling Report commons seat calculator and we get these totals for the main parties – a Tory majority of 76 seats:-
CON 363: LAB 226: LD 32: OTH 29 commons seats