Labour leaps to biggest lead with ICM in almost a decade

February 11, 2013 4:14 pm

According to the Guardian:

“Labour has forged a 12-point lead over the Conservatives for the first time in almost a decade, according to a Guardian/ICM poll. Ed Miliband’s party now stands at 41% of the vote, up three points on ICM’s January figure, and the Tories are on just 29%, having slipped back four from 33% last month. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have sunk two points, to 13%, whereas Ukip has inched up three to 9% – setting a new record for Nigel Farage’s anti-European outfit in the Guardian/ICM series. The Labour lead is the biggest – and the Conservative vote-share the smallest – in the polling series since May 2003.”

Here’s how that looks as a chart:

ICMFebruary

Whilst this is welcome, it’s not entirely clear what would have caused such an upswing in Labour’s fortunes over the last month – or as Patrick Wintour notes:

“It is hard to pinpoint a set of events in the past month that justifies a surge in Labour support. Ed Miliband has had a relatively low profile in the new year, while David Cameron has played his populist card on an EU referendum. Those in Downing Street who thought the prime minister’s move would not only quieten the backbenches but lead to a poll boost have been frustrated. Dissent on the Tory benches over Cameron’s leadership and the issue of gay marriage has continued unabated.”

Wintour also points Guardian readers to Anthony Painter’s LabourList piece on the fragility of Labour’s poll lead – which you can read here.

  • NT86

    Wintour has a point. The nightmare scenario would be a repeat of the 1992 election.

    Although trust in Tory competence re the economy is falling in support, it’s still vital to explain to people that it was misleading that spending under Labour sunk the economy. Public spending is essentially national investment. You cannot expect a market led recovery with zero demand in the economy.

    • postageincluded

      Anything could happen between now and 2015 but this just doesn’t feel like 1990.

      For a start, Kinnock’s huge poll lead then was largely a protest against the Poll Tax. Before the Poll Tax blew up Labour and Tory looked evenly matched in the polls; when Thatcher decamped, and the Poll Tax followed, Labour’s lead dissipated – and did so well before the election.

      The current Labour lead in the polls, however, is largely independent of the economy – most of it dates back to late 2010 when Osbornomics had yet to show their inevitable and disastrous effect. And most of that lead consists of ideological defections from LibDem to Labour; Labour voters who had deserted Labour for the LibDems (or even for the SDP!) coming home in disgust. The economy may or may not get better (and no thanks to the current Chancellor or his sidekick Beaker) but the LibDems can’t really undo being part of the coalition, and the several attempts they have made to “differentiate” themselves from the Tories seem to be having on minimal effect. Though Labour could lose some these Prodigal Sons & Daughters, I suspect a revival in the economy isn’t something that would sway them, and I doubt they’d return to Clegg in huge numbers, or that they’d be persuaded to stay by Labour aping Tory policy, as was done successfully in 1997.

      Of course it’s nice to have a temporary boost mid term (if only to rattle the LibCons), and certainly Labour should have a narrative ready to present to the electorate when the time is right and they’re ready to listen. I just don’t think they’re ready to listen yet.

      • robertcp

        Labour is averaging a lead of about 10%. My guess is that Labour’s lead will fall gradually and Labour will be the biggest party in a hung Parliament.

        • Monkey_Bach

          A major question is: How many Lib Dems who have defected to Labour will end up returning to the fold come Election Day?

    • Gabrielle

      1992 is often cited as an example of Labour doing well in the polls and then failing to win the election. For some Tories, it’s a sort of comfort blanket.

      There’s a few things that make today different from the early 90s.

      There was an expectation that the Tories were still the party of economic competence. They managed to disprove that in spectacular style with Black Wednesday and sky high interest rates. An epidemic of home repossesions and companies going bust further tarnished the Tory brand (and it’s never really recovered).

      Some young people actually disenfranchised themselves by not adding themselves to the electoral roll (because they mistakenly thought they could avoid paying Poll Tax by not appearing on the electoral roll).

      The Tory press was a lot more influential than it is now. Nevertheless, the Tories under Lynton Crosby are going to vilify Miliband in the same way as they and their press cohorts vilified Kinnock. The difference is, people take that sort of thing with a very large pinch of salt these days.

      The Tories couldn’t even win a majority against the hysterically maligned (by virtually every mainstream media outlet) Brown government. Since then this government has only distinguished itself by its utter incompetence. By way of contrast in 1992 the Tories had won a handsome majority in 1987, and memories of the winter of discontent were still fairly vivid.

  • postageincluded

    I do love your funny graphics, Mark, especially the ones with just one bar, but usually their more accurate than this one. You’ve got LD amd UKIP swiched. Feel free to delete this to hide your shame.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Les Dawson once said to Des O’Connor: “You became popular and have remained popular by doing bugger all.” To date much the same thing could be said about Ed Miliband’s Labour Party as far as I can see. Eeek.

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