Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Labour pulls ahead as coalition parties lose support

Labour 38% (+2), Conservative 36% (-3), Liberal Democrat 14% (-2)

Labour has pulled ahead sharply in the latest Guardian/ICM poll, as both coalition parties lose support. The findings, published as Ed Miliband returns to Westminster after paternity leave, suggest only a minority of voters believe the coalition is taking Britain in the right direction. Labour support in a theoretical immediate election has risen to 38%, two points higher than last month and the best in any ICM poll since Gordon Brown cancelled the planned 2007 general election.

Between them the coalition parties have shed five points. Conservative support has dropped three since last month to 36%, while the Liberal Democrats have fallen two points to 14%. The Lib Dem score is the lowest in the Guardian/ICM series since May 2001, and the lowest in any ICM poll since October 2007. While 91% of the 2010 Conservative voters would vote that way again, and 93% of 2010 Labour voters, only 47% of 2010 Lib Dem voters plan to do the same.

The impact of the party's U-turn on tuition fees is clear. Lib Dem support is now lower among voters aged 18-24 than among any other age group. By contrast, in the final election Guardian/ICM poll Lib Dem support was highest among young voters. The third party, which has traditionally scored more highly in ICM polls than in others from companies such as YouGov, has now seen its ICM rating sink from a high of 31% during the general election to 21% after it and 14% now.

The accuracy of the Lib Dem score – then and now – was the subject of much discussion at yesterday's post-election British Polling Council conference. Some pollsters suspect the party's rating is now artificially low and that the party would outperform it in a general election. The coalition may take some comfort from the fact that smaller parties have benefited more than Labour from declining Tory and Lib Dem support. Support for "others" is up three points to 12%, including 3% for Scottish and Welsh nationalists, 3% for Ukip and 2% for the Greens.

The Guardian