• The Guardian – March 2018 Poll 2

    May: there be signs of a strengthening Theresa?

    Last week saw the news dominated by the poisoning of a Russian former double agent in Salisbury involving a nerve agent. In the latest ICM/Guardian poll we asked the British public how well they thought May and Corbyn responded to this attack in their capacities as Prime Minister and leader of the opposition respectively.

    On this issue of national security, our results show a large gulf between the public’s perceptions of the two main party leaders.

    A majority (51%) of the British public think Theresa May has responded well. This is in stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings, with only 23% thinking he responded well in his capacity as leader of the opposition. Two in five (42%) think he responded badly to the attack, approximately double the one in five (22%) who think May responded badly.

    Even when looking at Labour voters in isolation, Corbyn cannot claim a majority who think he responded well to the attack (46%). On the other hands, Conservative voters are highly supportive of May’s response, with more than four in five (83%) thinking May responded well in her role as Prime Minster.

    Maybe – just maybe – this has resulted in a slight boost for Theresa May’s Conservatives in our vote intention polling. We see the trend from our previous poll continuing, with the Conservatives gaining 1% at the expense of Labour.

    Conservatives: 44% (+1)

    Labour: 41% (-1)

    LibDems: 8% (+1)

    SNP: 3% (nc)

    We shouldn’t speak too soon, as these are still small shifts in our results. Nevertheless, in the context of recent deadlock in our regular ICM/Guardian vote intention polling, it is possible that this could be showing the start of a small shift away from Labour and towards the Conservatives. We’ll be watching the next few polls closely, to see if this develops into anything more than a small blip in an otherwise unprecedented period of far-too-close-to-call polls.

    To top off a poll that may add a small dose of positivity to those around Theresa May, there is evidence that some of the public’s negativity surrounding Brexit may be easing. We re-asked a question on how well or badly the Brexit process is going, with results shown below. Crucially, the vast majority of our fieldwork was carried out in advance of yesterday’s big announcement on Brexit transition, and so we can take these results as indicative of public opinion before the announcement.


    Overall, how do you think the Brexit process of the UK leaving the EU is going? December 2017 February 2018 March 2018
    Net: Well 21% 16% 19%
    Net: Badly 51% 53% 47%


    Since we last asked the question at the beginning of February, the proportion of the British public who think Brexit is going badly has dropped by 6 percentage points, from 53% to 47%. This is the lowest proportion we’ve seen for Brexit going badly since we’ve started asking this question, and means we can no longer claim that a majority of the British public think the Brexit process is going badly. Nevertheless, Brexiteers should keep the sparkling wine on ice for the time being, as still fewer than one in five (19%) Brits think Brexit is going well. There’s still a very long way to go before the British public are ready to hold up Brexit as a success.


    ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,013 adults aged 18+, between 16th – 19th March 2018. 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.

  • The Guardian – March 2018 Poll

    With both party leaders making major speeches on Brexit last week, the latest ICM/Guardian poll aimed to look at what impact, if any, these speeches had outside the Westminster bubble.

    The short answer is: not much.

    With fieldwork starting after the Theresa May finished her Brexit speech on Friday, these results provide a good initial read public opinion in the immediate aftermath of the two key speeches. By subtracting those who disagree with each statement shown from all those who agree with the statement, we get a net score per statement. We asked four pairs of statements on whether each leader and party’s policy on Brexit is clearer than before, has realistic aims, makes people more likely to vote for that party, and is a policy which the public overall approve of. The results are shown below:

    Guardian Brexit V2

    Net score
    Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s policy on Brexit is much clearer than it was before 1%
    Theresa May and the government’s policy on Brexit is much clearer than it was before -5%
    The aims of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour in Brexit negotiations seem realistic -11%
    The aims of Theresa May and the government in Brexit negotiations seem realistic 0%
    Overall I approve of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s Brexit policy -13%
    Overall I approve of Theresa May and the government’s Brexit policy -3%
    Jeremy Corbyn’s policy on Brexit makes me more likely than otherwise to vote Labour -17%
    Theresa May’s policy on Brexit makes me more likely than otherwise to vote Conservative -14%


    This is bleak reading for both Labour and Conservatives. Our regular polling results seems to increasingly show Brexit to be a zero-sum game for the two main parties – politicians have to be seen to be taking a position, but any position chosen is generally met with more public disagreement than agreement.

    Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have the one positive net score in this poll, with one percent point more of the British public thinking that Corbyn and Labour’s Brexit policy is clearer than it was before (net score = 1%). This compares favourably with Theresa May and the government’s equivalent net score, which is on -5%.

    However, Corbynites shouldn’t see this as a cause for celebration, as whilst his and his party’s position may now be marginally more clear, it’s equally apparent that the public are not enamoured with it. On balance the British public do not think that Corbyn and Labour’s aims in Brexit negotiations are realistic (net score = -11%) or approve of their Brexit policy overall (net score = -13%). Ultimately only 1 in 4 (25%) agree that Corbyn and Labour’s position on Brexit makes them more likely to vote Labour, with more than 2 in 5 (42%) disagreeing – giving a net score of -17%.

    May and the government consistently have less negative scores than Corbyn and Labour on all areas apart from Brexit policy clarity (net score = -5%). Whilst the net score on ‘Theresa May’s policy on Brexit makes me more likely than otherwise to vote Conservative’ is marginally higher than the equivalent statement for Corbyn and Labour (net score =-14%), there are much bigger differences between the two leaders’ and parties’ perception in terms of realistic aims and overall approval.  Equal proportions of the British pubic agree and disagree that May and the government’s aims in Brexit negotiation seem realistic (net score = 0%), whilst the net score on overall approval of May and the government’s Brexit policy is -3%.

    It’s worth maintaining perspective when viewing these results. When we are comparing Brexit perceptions in terms of Labour vs. Conservative, May vs. Corbyn, we are generally comparing degrees of negativity. This is not a story of public enthusiasm and positivity – quite the opposite – so maybe the best the parties can hope for is to limit the public negativity associated with their chosen Brexit approach.

    In terms of voting intentions, there’s very little change. Labour and Conservatives trade one percent of the public’s vote intention between them, meaning the Conservatives regain a slim lead on 43% compared to Labour’s 42%. But these two proportions are still very much within the margin of error on this poll, so if there was an election tomorrow, we’d still consider it too close to call. Results for the main Westminster parties are shown below, with comparison to our previous poll a fortnight ago.

    Conservatives: 43% (+1%)
    Labour: 42% (-1%)
    LibDems: 7% (nc)
    SNP: 3% (nc)

    ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,030 adults aged 18+, between 2nd – 4th  March 2018. 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.

  • The Guardian – February 2018 Poll 2

    This week’s voting intention has Labour up three percentage points to 43%, with the Conservative bumping up by 1 point to 42%. This means that the narrow one point lead for the Conservatives in our last poll has shifted to a narrow one point lead for Labour in our poll out today.


    We shouldn’t make too much of these small shifts. Indeed, since the last general election in June 2017, no ICM/Guardian poll has shown a lead of more than 2 percentage points for either Labour or the Tories. This makes it a run of 13 polls where we’d consider the result ‘too close to call’, meaning the lead for either main party is within the margin of error. This is totally unprecedented in the regular polling ICM have carried out for The Guardian over almost 35 years – never before have we had so many consecutive polls where the two main parties have been so close to each other.


    However, we can quite confidently say that UKIP would be highly unlikely to win a general election if it were to be held tomorrow, as they slip down one percentage point to 3%. Whilst UKIP have been on 3% in ICM/Guardian polls before, they have never been lower – this is their joint lowest result since we started regularly asking voting intention about UKIP back in 2012.


    We’ve asked a new question on which party the public trust most to do the best job in some key policy areas:


    Labour Conservatives Neither Don’t know Labour lead
    Protecting people from threats at home and abroad 23% 38% 22% 18% -15%
    Negotiating a good Brexit deal for the UK 21% 34% 31% 14% -13%
    Controlling immigration 20% 35% 31% 14% -15%
    Managing the economy properly 26% 38% 23% 14% -12%
    Ensuring pupils and students get a good education 37% 28% 20% 15% 9%
    Protecting the interests of pensioners 37% 24% 23% 15% 13%
    Making Britain a fairer country 38% 25% 24% 13% 13%
    Improving the public services generally 42% 21% 23% 14% 21%
    Protecting and improving the NHS 44% 21% 24% 12% 23%


    We’ll be tracking the results over the next few months. The initial results may not be surprising, with Labour having strong leads on the NHS (23%pts) and public services generally (21%pts), whilst the Conservatives lead on the economy (12%pts), Brexit (13%pts), immigration (15%pts) and protecting Britain from threats at home and abroad (15%pts).


    We asked a similar question back in January, instead asking which leader, rather than party, the public trusted most to do a good job in each area. The scores from that poll are below:


    Jeremy Corbyn Theresa May Neither Don’t know Corbyn lead
    Protecting people from threats at home and abroad 21% 38% 26% 16% -17%
    Negotiating a good Brexit deal for the UK 19% 35% 31% 15% -16%
    Controlling immigration 19% 34% 33% 15% -15%
    Managing the economy properly 24% 36% 27% 14% -12%
    Ensuring pupils and students get a good education 32% 29% 23% 16% 3%
    Protecting the interests of pensioners 35% 23% 28% 13% 12%
    Making Britain a fairer country 37% 25% 25% 13% 12%
    Improving the public services generally 37% 24% 27% 12% 13%
    Protecting and improving the NHS 39% 21% 27% 12% 18%


    Taking the results of these two questions together, we get the following results on how each party leader’s performance compares to their party’s on the key issues. A positive score is where the leader has a better performance rating than their party:


    May vs. Tories Corbyn vs. Labour
    Protecting people from threats at home and abroad 0% -2%
    Negotiating a good Brexit deal for the UK 1% -2%
    Controlling immigration -1% -1%
    Managing the economy properly -2% -2%
    Ensuring pupils and students get a good education 1% -5%
    Protecting the interests of pensioners -1% -2%
    Making Britain a fairer country 0% -1%
    Improving the public services generally 3% -5%
    Protecting and improving the NHS 0% -5%


    Corbyn’s personal ratings are lower than the Labour party’s in all of the key areas we asked on. This contrasts with Theresa May, who outperforms her party on ‘improving the public services generally’ (3%pts), with smaller popularity leads over her party in terms of education and negotiating a good Brexit deal. Whilst there are some negative scores, Theresa May’s performance on the key areas is generally within two percentage points of her party’s score. Compare this with Corbyn’s scores – while consistently lower than his party’s, he lags behind especially in terms of the two Labour strengths: improving public services and the NHS (both 5%pts lower).


    In short: Theresa May’s popularity is broadly in line with her party’s on the key issues we asked, whereas Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity is consistently lower than his party’s.


    Finally, we asked a question on the controversy surrounding Oxfam staff’s use of prostitutes while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011, some of whom may have been under-age. Excluding those who don’t donate to humanitarian charities, a majority (52%) of the Great British public say that this news has made them less likely to donate to humanitarian charities such as Oxfam. Only about a third (36%) claim that they are no less likely to donate as a result, while 1 in 8 (13%) say they don’t know if they are less likely to donate or not.


    This shows the scale of the task facing Oxfam and the wider sector in light of the scandal. With Oxfam’s chief executive due to appear at a special hearing of the International Development Select Committee on Tuesday, the sheer magnitude of the task ahead to rebuild this loss of trust could not be clearer.


    ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,027 adults aged 18+, between 16th – 19th  February 2018. 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.


    Download tables here


  • The Guardian – February 2018 Poll

    The past week has seen the ‘Westminster bubble’ absorbed by the infighting, Brexit policy confusion, and potential leadership challengers to Theresa May’s Conservative government. Yet the British public remain largely unmoved in their overall voting intention. Comparing to our mega-poll released just over a week ago, the Conservatives remain unchanged on 41% and Labour slip down just one point to 40%.


    Last Thursday the Lib Dems had a surprise council by-election win over Labour in Sunderland, where they saw their vote increase by 49.5 percentage points to claim the Pallion seat formerly held by Labour. Whilst this is not replicated in our nationally representative polling, we do see their vote share bump up by one percentage point, from 7% to 8%. UKIP and the SNP remain unchanged on 4% and 3% respectively.


    However, the main story coming through in this poll mirrors much of the sentiment picked up in the Guardian/ICM Brexit mega-poll published just over a week ago: the British public are becoming more and more negative towards how Brexit is going. Brits think Brexit is going badly, and are far from agreement on which politician could make a better job of it.


    Back at the start of December, we asked how the Brexit process of the UK leaving the EU was going – only 21% of the British public said it was going well, with 51% saying it was going badly. Two months later, only 16% of the British public think the Brexit process is going well, with an increased majority (53%) now thinking it is going badly.


    These figures make especially concerning reading for the Tories, as now fewer than a third of Conservative voters think Brexit is going well (32%), down from almost 2 in 5 (39%) at the start of December. Indeed, it’s hard to find one substantial group of voters who think the Brexit process is going well. It may not be surprising to see that only 12% of 2016 Remainers think Brexit is going well, but it seems stark that even amongst 2016 Leave voters, less than a quarter (23%) say Brexit is going well.


    The only solace that Theresa May could take from these results is that voters are not clear on which politician they would prefer to be in charge of Brexit. We asked respondents to tell us if they agreed or disagreed with the Brexit views of Tony Blair, Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and Keir Starmer. None of these politicians enjoyed ‘net positive’ support for their position on Brexit. In short, for each and every one of the politicians we asked about, more of the British public disagree with their Brexit views than agree with them.


    Of the politicians we asked about, Boris Johnson attracted the most support for his views on Brexit. However, only 32% of the British public say they agree with his Brexit stance, which in turn is only one percent above agreement with Theresa May’s Brexit views (31%), while a similar proportion (30%) of the British public say they agree with Nigel Farage’s views on the sort of Brexit the UK should adopt. By comparison, Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Brexit win the agreement of 23% of the British public – although many more (39%) disagree with him.


    ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,021 adults aged 18+, between 2nd – 4th February 2018. 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.

  • Sun on Sunday, Nov-Dec 2017 Poll

    Amidst the cold of the British winter, the country is gearing up for the marriage of Prince Harry and his American girlfriend, Meghan Markle, at Windsor Castle in May. Predictably, there has been extensive domestic and international media coverage of the engagement, prompting many commentators to suggest that it may lighten the spirits of a country still polarised from the aftermath of the EU referendum.

    New polling by ICM for the Sun on Sunday among a nationally representative sample of the general public suggests that most people think the royal wedding will be a positive thing for Royal Family itself and among the population as a whole. Seven in ten (71%) people believe it will lead to a general ‘feel-good factor’ for the Royal’s and six in ten (59%) say the same about the general mood of the country.

    However, people are split in terms of whether they think the couple’s marriage will be a boost for British businesses: 40% say it will lead to a feel-good factor for the UK economy and 42% say it will not. Moreover, fewer people say that the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms Markle will lead to a feel-good factor in the Conservative Government (26% compared to 41% who say not) as well as themselves personally (33% vs 53% who say not). Overall, the research suggests that it will lighten the spirits of the nation but will not necessarily benefit them materially.

    The results of our poll also show support for the wedding in the content of Ms Markle being an American actress, of mixed ethnicity and a divorcee. The majority of the public agree (63%) that it makes the Royal Family look modern and more in touch with most British families (just 11% disagree) and that the couple will make great ambassadors for the UK and its people (61% agree and 9% disagree). While some have suggested that the glitz undermines the traditional respectability of the Monarchy, this is not a view widely held: twice as many people disagree as agree that it makes the Royal Family more like showbusiness than a serious institution (48% vs 22%).

    While Theresa May will be disappointed that the royal wedding is unlikely to give the Tories a bounce in the polls, they trail Labour by just a single percentage point with the Conservatives on 40% and Labour 41% if a general election was held tomorrow. Labour are unchanged and the Conservatives down one point since ICM’s most recent poll for The Guardian, conducted last weekend.

    Moreover, when set against fraught Brexit negotiations with Brussels for agreeing a transition deal and long-term trade arrangement, Mrs May will be pleased to lead Jeremy Corbyn (by 40% to 32%) when asked who would make the best prime minster. However, in a sign of how difficult things have been for the Conservatives since the general election, Mrs May’s lead over Mr Corbyn has fallen from 21 to 8 points since May.

    It’s also the case that Mr Corbyn is perceived to be doing a better job as Labour leader than Mrs May is performing as prime minister. Corbyn registers a +3 score, with 41% describing him as doing a good job including 79% of Labour voters: in contrast, the PM records a -18 rating, with 32% of the public and 70% of Tory voters stating that she does a good job.

    Vince Cable has work to do to get himself and the Lib Dems noticed. Not only do more people think he is doing a bad than good job (31% versus 19%), but his support among his own supporters is lower than for any other party (62%).

    ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 2,050 adults aged 18+ online, on 29 November–1 December 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.

  • The Guardian – November 2017 Poll 2

    Last week’s budget was one of the most important for a governing party in recent years. On the one hand, the Government was seeking to restore some semblance of stability and direction following the general election debacle and the disappointing Tory party conference. On the other, Philip Hammond required a strong budget to shore up his own allegedly unsecure position amidst clamouring from Tory Brexiteers for him to be replaced.


    Set against this context, the results of the latest Guardian/ICM poll present a glimmer of hope for the embattled chancellor and his prime minister. Philip Hammond and Theresa May are perceived to be better able to manage the economy than the Labour pair of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell (36% versus 28%), reinforcing the broadly positive reception to the speech from many in the blue camp at Westminster.


    That said, Downing Street will be concerned that the 8 percentage point Tory lead on economic competence is lower than the 13 point gap recorded last month (39% vs 26%) and significantly lower than the 31 point lead enjoyed in March (42% vs 12%) when the Conservatives were riding the crest of a wave before the general election.


    Nonetheless, the budget may have done enough to steady Tory nerves, especially since the top two parties remain level pegging in terms of voting intention. 41% of the public say they would vote Labour if there was a general election tomorrow and the same proportion (41%) would vote Conservative, unchanged from earlier this month and the sixth successive Guardian/ICM poll where no party has been in the lead.


    The background to this, of course, is the hotting-up of Brexit negotiations, with discord between Dublin and Westminster about the status of Northern Ireland and Theresa May under pressure from Brussels to increase Britain’s financial offer. If the PM is determined to follow public opinion on this issue then she should note that the majority of people think it is unacceptable for the UK to pay an exit fee of £20billion or more as a one off or in instalments as a form of compromise (£40 billion (71%), £30 billion (67%)  £20 billion (28%)). By a margin of 50% to 32%, the public believe Britain should pay £10 billion, considerably lower than the figure being talked about by the EU officials.


    ICM Unlimited interviewed 2,029 adults 18+ online on 24th-26th November 2017. Interviews were conducted across Britain 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.

  • The Guardian – October Poll

    As the conference season draws to a close, now is usually the best time to reflect on movements in party shares. There’s little doubt which party had a conference to savour, and which had one to cough and splutter over, but as is often the case once the throat lozenge has been swallowed ailments are quickly forgotten and people get on just as they did before, with little having changed.

    And so it is this time around – at least in terms of overall vote shares –  with deadlock between the main two parties in the Guardian/ICM series extending to a third poll in a row. Both sit on 41% share (down 1-point in both cases), so the conference season ends up as little more than a low scoring draw.

    However, with the re-in-statement of the marginals cross-break we can see that the Labour position is stronger in the constituencies that count – those that they and the Tories hold with a lead of up to 10%. In its own marginal seats, Labour’s lead is up to 22-points, but the equivalent position for the Tories is only a 5-five points. If Tory MPs needed something new to worry about, this could be it. On this basis, they’d likely lose a swathe of their currently held marginals even though the overall vote shares are neck and neck.

    But reputations are changing even if headline numbers are not, and Theresa May continues to watch her public standing decline while that of Jeremy Corbyn creeps up. When we last asked the Best PM question back in May 2017 (right at the point when the Tories massive campaign leads began to dissipate), May lead by 21-points over her Labour challenger. Now though, the lead is down to single digits, at only 9-points. Four in ten (41%) do think that May still represents the best PM option for Britain, but Corbyn is up to 32% with potential to climb further given the saintly impression that he has cultivated among diehard supporters.

    At least the PM can write off her conference speech difficulties as bad luck without much lasting damage. With as many people admiring her more (17%) as less as a person for the way she handled things – with most people (57%) not considering anything they saw to be a difference maker, she can easily move on.

    More than that though, she can take heart from the public’s dim view of Tory succession alternatives. With others at he No 10 helm the perceived chances of the Tories winning the next General Election appear to be minimal. For example, one in five (22%) think the Tories would be better off under Boris, but with 43% saying they’d be worse off the net effect of winning under his leadership is -21. Under Amber Rudd it’s -5, Philip Hammond -19, Jacob Ress-Mogg -23, Priti Patel -25 and Damian Green -20.

    Only the next generation is thought to be chances positive for the Tories, with “someone quite young and able who is not currently in government” getting a plus rating of +9. Who that might be is anyone’s guess, but it does appear that the public are calling time on the same old faces fronting up the Conservative Party.


    ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 2,052 adults aged 18+ online on 6-8th October 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.



  • Labour Leadership recognition poll

    The contest for the next leader of the Labour Party is heating up in line with the field being narrowed down, with just four candidates left in play. All will confess to much work needing to be done, not just in terms of developing a support (or indeed policy) base, but well, in simply communicating to the electorate who they are, never mind what they stand for.

    They might even argue that right now, it doesn’t matter if potential leaders’ public recognition is low, which it is. The public, of course, do not vote in Labour’s leadership contest: only MPs, party members, and unions are eligible for that.

    But let’s not kid ourselves, just like that walk-in moment for newly-weds as they view their future home for the first time, or indeed that critical first 15-seconds interviewees have to create that “we have to have you here” impression on their job inquisitor, the time is now for party leaders to positively imprint themselves on the people they will depend on to propel them toward destination Number 10.

    Just ask Ed Miliband, or Iain Duncan Smith for that matter. They never overcame the image issues that held them back right from the beginning. Indeed, in the public’s mind, there’s no coming back for leaders who aren’t perceived to have ‘it’. So better make sure you do, starting now…..

    Indeed now is the chance to shine for the likes of Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and even Yvette Cooper, whose highest prize to date was the Department of Work & Pensions brief – and who is also seemingly known as Ed Balls other half (indeed, she was named as ‘Yvette Balls’ by a small chunk of the poll sample).

    On the plus side, politicians who have never particularly basked in public recognition have a clean slate. It is, perhaps, a little more comfortable a journey for Andy Burnham, whose recognition of 23% was easily higher than the rest of the pack. Yvette Cooper followed 6-points behind (17%), with Liz Kendall (10%) and Jeremy Corbyn (9%) a further step behind the pace. For the latter two, low figures are probably to be expected, not previously being high profile figures and/or late entrant to the hustings. They will hope that their recognition in the Labour Beauty Parade – and perceived wider popular appeal to boot – now surge upwards.

    Every respondent was shown a picture of each potential leader, and asked to name them in a free text box. All verbatim contributions were individually assessed, and only marked correct if the surname was correct or spelt only slightly incorrectly such that it was clear that the surname were known. The results are as follows:


    ICM Unlimited interviewed an online sample of 2,006 adults aged 18+ on 19-21st June 2015. Interviews were conducted across Britain and the results have been weighted to the profile of all British adults.