It could be worse. Have yourself an awful week and then watch your ratings improve.
In a week featuring budget u-turns, No 10 and No 11 briefing furiously against each other and the re-emergence of the Scottish independence question causing considerable angst among Conservative pro-union types, we might wonder how much of a dent the Tories should have expected to see in their hefty poll lead?
Well, none actually, quite the reverse. It’s gone up again, making this poll the most desperate for Labour yet seen from ICM/Guardian in the current political cycle.
The Tories stretch out to 45% (+1) and Labour sheds 2-points to land back on 26%, a single point higher than their floor in the Guardian/ICM series dating back to 1983. The Tories 19-point lead has been beaten by only three ICM/Guardian polls: two with a 20-point lead (1983 and 2008) and one of 21-points back in June 1983.
Headline vote intentions are:
Liberal Democrats 9%
Plaid Cymru 1%
It is difficult to think that that there is not further for Labour to fall. ICM’s adjustment mechanism (traditionally and inaccurately labelled the “Shy Tory” adjustment) helps Labour by adding one point back to them by taking one of the Conservatives (Shy Labour?). Without that, this poll would equal the worst ever published by Guardian/ICM.
So it’s no surprise that the Tories are reportedly ramping up their election planning machinery, and Labour putting themselves on election footing for a potential May 4th General Election. Although Theresa May has repeatedly rejected the idea, if this poll proved accurate and translated into the seats in the way in which Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus suggest, the PM would deliver a whopping 395 seats, a majority of 140 seats going the way of a government currently only in possession of working majority of 17.
It’s so desperate for Labour that it’s also nearly a ‘full house’ across standard demographics. Only members of non-white communities offer up a Labour lead over the Tories, with DEs tied. When 18-24s split 41% vs 29% for the Conservatives, Labour can only be in some sort of historic mess.
Despite their difficulties, the budget has not really dented the perceived economic competence of Hammond & May. Indeed, they secure an extra point compared to their pre-budget rating (44% now; 43% a fortnight ago) while Corbyn and McDonnell drop 1-point, to 11%.
It’s not as if Labour can point to the Tories as being in sole possession of the ‘nasty party’ label – when asked whether each of the main parties was “honest and reputable” or not, (only) 19% said the Tories were but it was still higher than the 13% ‘achieved’ by Labour. UKIP are seen as the most dishonest and disreputable, with 38% saying so.
Finally, we asked a question on the fairly imminent triggering of Article 50, presenting various words for people to choose from that best describe their feelings as the UK breaks from the EU. ‘Worry’ (39%) is understandably top of the list, with 67% of Remainers saying so. A quarter (25%) are pleased (49% of Leavers) and a similar number (23%) chose ‘relief’ as their primary emotion.
Remainers may be coming round to the idea though, with 34% of them ‘resigned’ to it, although 19% are still ‘terrified’ by the prospect.
ICM Unlimited interviewed an online sample of 2,012 adults aged 18+ on 17-19th March 2017. 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.