• Guardian Poll – February 2015

    The February Guardian/ICM poll will certainly set the political cats among the pigeons, with a stunning +6 move for David Cameron’s Conservatives pushing them into a 4-point lead over Labour, after a 3-point deficit last month. The week began with the Tories under some pressure over what appears to be a scandal involving HSBC advising rich clients (and Tory apparatchiks) to avoid tax, a problem which in turn gradually began to drag Labour in as we conducted fieldwork.

    This does push the Tories’ bar somewhat higher than seen of late – they have not been on the giddy heights of 36% since July 2013, and have not seen a lead like this since their 5-pointer in January 2012. It’s come at the right time for them – the only question is whether it’s their first Swallow of Summer, or simply a brief thaw in the Winter’s frost.

    But it is not Labour where the Tories have made in-roads – although Miliband’s party sheds one-point (32%), it is UKIP (9%) and the Greens (7%) both of whom drop 2-points this month. We may be seeing first signs of a pricked polling bubble, with keen eyes now on both minor parties as campaigning heats up. Perhaps we should not be surprised to see more of this as the campaign evolves (see: Research-Live for more on polling bubbles: http://www.research-live.com/blogs/election-blog-bursting-the-polling-bubble/4012895.article ).

    The issue that will most impact on the way people vote remains the NHS, with 31% saying so this month, as they did last. However, ‘jobs, prices & wages’ has moved in second place (17%) above immigration (15%) which drops 4-points.

    But it is the question of tax, or more to the point the avoiding/evasion of it that has exercised political minds’ this week, and on this Labour do appear to have the edge. One in three (35%) so think they are best placed to force wealthy individuals and companies to pay their tax, some distance ahead of the Tories (20%). But blame on this is not really laid at either party’s door: tax advising bankers get the public rap, with 32% saying they are to blame when rich people fail to pay their tax. The wealthy individuals themselves do not escape censure (22%), but the current coalition (17%) and the last government (13%) are a step behind in this blame game.

    Wealthy tax dodgers should be treated more harshly than benefit cheats (52% vs 42%) although there is a fairly intuitive party divide on this. Labour voters very much agree with this (65%) but Conservative voters are more inclined to disagree (48%) than agree (42%). One in three people (34%) admit they would use legal loopholes to dodge tax if they could, although 61% consider themselves up-standing tax-paying citizens. What the public can agree on though, is that whoever is in power, tax dodging would carry on, with 67% agreeing that politicians and big business are too closely wrapped up together for any government to make a difference on this.

    Talking of big business, its views on politics may only influence the vote of one in five (21%) with most people (70%) saying business’ views would not influence their vote.

    ICM Unlimited interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 13-15th February 2015. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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  • Digital debate

    An online poll from ICM on behalf of The Guardian looks at the public’s view on whether and how leader’s debates before the next General Election should be shaped.
    Then public are enthused that they take place (64% say it’s important they do), and that both a live TV debate and a digital only debate are good ideas.
    Six in ten would like to see a well-stocked cast list, including the leader of the Greens, who had become David Cameron’s sticking point, but only 9% want to see Cameron vs Miliband only. If one leader failed to turn up, an empty is thought best placed to represent them (38%).

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  • Guardian Poll – January 2015

    The first Guardian/ICM poll of election year reveals the Conservatives are once again drawing closer to their Labour opponents after December’s relatively large gap, although still 3-points behind which, if replicated in a General Election, would likely see Labour winning a relatively healthy number of seats to emerge as the biggest party. Labour stands on 33% this month, as they were last month, but the Tories edge up 2-points to return to the (still) worryingly low 30% threshold at which defeat would beckon.

    The story though remains the rise of the smaller parties. While UKIP drop back to 11%, the surging Greens establish a new benchmark of 9% in Guardian polls, with the SNP also scoring highly in the small Scottish element of the sample. Collectively, the 27% for smaller parties equals the record set in the Guardian series for ‘net’ others. The Green party have been shooting upwards in various polls of late, with 11% spotted within one recent poll, likely riding the wave of popular support for their inclusion in Leader’s Debates before the General Election, should they happen.

    Conservatives 30% (+2)
    Labour 33% (nc)
    Lib Dem 11% (-3)
    UKIP 11% (-3)
    Green 9% (+4)
    Other 7% (+1)

    The NHS easily leads the way as the primary battleground for votes, with 31% citing it as policy area that will most concern people. With Ed Miliband threatening to ‘weaponise’ the NHS this week as a campaign tactic, criticism for his choice of words may well not bother him given the centrality of the issues to people. The NHS is currently suffering from some serious breakdowns across the country, and the public recognise its in need of some pain relief. One in three (36%) thinks it’s on its last legs and a further quarter (28%) think it’s merely ‘struggling in some places’. At least the Tories can console themselves with the fact they may not lose the blame game on the NHS, with 52% attributing rising A&E wait times to budgetary pressure that would occur under any government rather than coalition policy (38%).

    Conversely, the Conservatives will be concerned that the issues of choices listed by David Cameron are much less important. Immigration is second on the list (19%) but Cameron will try to avoid the issue for fear of stoking UKIP coals. Jobs, prices and wages will dominate the Tory agenda, but it settles in third place (14%), well ahead of education (8%).

    But it’s easily understood why the Tories want to focus on the economy. Rising economic confidence generally underpins support for government, and the 61% now confident about their financial future is a full 9-points higher than the 52% recorded this time last year. Combined with the record gap that Osborne and Cameron enjoy over Balls and Miliband on ability to run the economy (22-point lead with 37% saying the Tory duo are better able to manage it) and the Conservatives are well placed to out-fight Labour on the economy.

    ICM Unlimited interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 16-19th January 2015. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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