Latest ICM poll: Lib Dems at 12% for Westminster, but just 6% in the Euros

As I’ve mentioned before, The Guardian’s ICM poll is the one I wait for each month. The latest figures are now up, and the figures are… well, I’m not sure what to make of them really.

icm april 2014

In the snapshot of Westminster voting intentions, the Lib Dems are unchanged from last month on 12%, ahead of Ukip on 11% (+2%). Labour lead the Conservatives by 37% (-1%) to 32% (-3%). All the figures are within the margin of error. The party will be relieved to see that there’s no sign of ICM putting us anywhere near the 7% recorded by one pollster, ComRes, a couple of days ago.

Until, that is, you turn to the Euro voting intentions for the 22 May election in 5 weeks’ time. This time the Lib Dems are down to just 6% (-3% compared with February), level with the Greens, with Ukip in third place on 20%. Labour lead the Conservatives by 36% (+1%) to 25% (no change). All the figures are, again, within the margin of error.

Taken at face value, this Euro finding is deeply disappointing for the Lib Dems. Polling 6% in the actual election would likely see the Lib Dems entirely wiped out of the European parliament. It really does highlight, as I pointed out here, that every percentage point makes a major difference for the Lib Dems.

There are, though two oddities about the ICM Euro poll. First, it shows very little movement at all: Tories and Ukip unchanged, Labour up 1%. Maybe that points to its reliability, but considering all the debate there’s been in the two months since ICM last published a Euro poll that’s surprising.

But not as surprising as Ukip being in third, so far behind both the Tories and Labour. ICM is the only one of the six polling companies who’ve asked about Euro voting intentions in April which has produced this result. Ukip’s 20% with ICM is 8% lower than the average of the other five polls, while Labour’s 36% is 5% higher. They’re either going to look exceptionally accurate on 22 May, or have egg on their faces.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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49 Comments

  • I know what to make of them, they are awful, appalling, confirm no Euro MPs next month and then what …………

  • What high profile intervention on Europe an issues has been made by the Liberal Democrats since February that could explain the collapse in support?

  • Paul in Twickenham 15th Apr '14 - 10:46am

    Stephen – there were two polls showing 7% and a third showing 8% over the weekend. There is no doubt that ICM consistently records higher numbers for the Lib Dems than the others and I have no insight into the relative merits of the different methodologies.

    However I remain convinced that the Lib Dems will get 3 MEPs, and that Lib Dem HQ will invoke the “50 foot monster” defense ( “yeah it’s a 50 foot monster but some people said it would be a 100 foot monster”). However if the London Borough elections are as bad as yesterday’s yougov poll predicted then 3 MEPs will be cold comfort for Mr Clegg.

  • What I make of it is that Clegg’s latest “cunning plan” has backfired even more disastrously than his previous ones, and that there is now a real possibility of the LIb Dems coming fifth in the European elections and failing to win any seats (both of which seemed very unlikely only a few weeks ago).

  • Helen what has this got to do with the future of the Lib Dems?

  • ICM is the gold standard of polling, I’d be inclined to believe them if they disagreed with every other company! Remember the 3% margin of error on these polls, given the highest EP LD figure from any company recently is 10% they could easily all be showing 7-9% share anyway.

  • The full tables are now available from the ICM website.

    http://www.icmresearch.com/data/media/pdf/2014_apr_guardian.pdf

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Apr '14 - 11:47am

    I think we will go from eleven MEPs to five or six MEPs and it will be spun as a triumph. As noted though, just a small fluctuation in our and opponent’s vote can produce wildly differing outcomes. A more troubling issue, how can we fight the 2015 General Election with a leader who the more voters see the even fewer want to vote Liberal Democrat?

  • Might be better then to go to nil , then something will have to be done and no amount of spinning can counter how awful it is. Dreadfull thing to say but there we are. Something has to change pronto, leader, strategy and how we are perceived.
    The public ain’t fooled, we have been in this appalling state ever since the Tuition Fees fiasco.

  • Peter Watson 15th Apr '14 - 12:26pm

    Perhaps the difference between polling about voting intention in the European elections and a general election is a willingness to vote tactically in a general election.
    This might suggest that the lower figure for EU elections is a truer reflection of Lib Dem support as there is no pressing need to vote against Labour or Conservative.

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Apr '14 - 12:50pm

    I agree theakes – we should instead be investing thought and energy into regaining confidence and trust, but are hamstrung as long as we carry our inexperienced and toxic leader.

  • I’m curious to know what price people are willing to pay. A small minority of LD voters (the members) have allowed this situation to persist, though its been apparent for some time that annihilation awaits. Loyalty in politics is commendable, but past a certain point we all become tainted if an individual has been deemed no longer applicable by the general public.

    At what point will current members stop supporting Clegg and call for his resignation?

    I feel that the number of “Us” (ex-Lib Dems that still identify with the party to some extent) probably now exceeds the numbers of party members participating on this site. At what point do we start a new party based on our values and ideals? I don’t have any answers to these questions, but I find them fascinating – as Browne said, “I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent an ill-defined moderating centrist party that believed that its primary purpose was to dilute the policies of other political parties, whereas I do think it would be necessary to invent a bold, ambitious liberal party.”. I think the only thing defining “Us” so far is that we won’t (for the first time ever for most of us) be voting Lib Dem in the next General Election. Maybe we can achieve more than hastening decline in order to facilitate change.

  • Owen Bartholomew 15th Apr '14 - 1:41pm

    Well it wasn’t WHAT Clegg said, it was his tone, people just don’t warm to Clegg, I can think of a few people in our party who could have said exactly the same but people might have warmed to the words more. that’s my thoughts anyways

  • Peter Watson 15th Apr '14 - 2:16pm

    @ChrisB “At what point will current members stop supporting Clegg and call for his resignation?”
    I’m not sure that would be best for the party. If I try to look at it objectively ….
    If Clegg is replaced now, Lib Dems might still fare badly in 2015. It would then be unclear whether that is because of or in spite of the change, and the debate over how to move forward could be messy and damaging. Alternatively Lib Dems might do better in 2015 under a new leader (but the key question here is, “better than what?”).
    If Clegg stays until after the 2015 election, then the party’s fortunes might recover and everything will look rosy, or the party will do badly, it will know why, and it will have a clear point at which to break from the past and rebuild itself.
    Regardless of the probability of any of these events, it seems to me that there are generally better outcomes in the long-term for Lib Dems if Clegg stays for the time being.

    Subjectively though, I won’t be voting for Lib Dems under the current leader (or some of those around him) but I hope that a post-2015 Lib Dem party is one to which I can return, if not as a member then at least as a voter.

  • David Evans 15th Apr '14 - 2:18pm

    @ Chris B – I would suggest those who left should re-join immediately, with the intention of voting to remove Nick and return the party to its roots after the debacle of the European elections. The reason he has survived so long is because so many have moved on rather than stayed and fought for the heart of their party. Ultimately leaving has just made life easy for him to ignore those who remained.

  • Steve Griffiths 15th Apr '14 - 3:01pm

    @ChrisB

    “At what point do we start a new party based on our values and ideals? I don’t have any answers to these questions, but I find them fascinating – as Browne said, “I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent an ill-defined moderating centrist party that believed that its primary purpose was to dilute the policies of other political parties, whereas I do think it would be necessary to invent a bold, ambitious liberal party.”

    Well being myself an ‘Us’ by your definition, I find that as someone who has always regarded himself as a radical libertarian leftie (once mainstream in the Liberals/Lib Dems) there s now no party anymore which I see as my natural home. The sort of “bold, ambitious liberal party” envisaged by Browne would I suspect be very different from the one that I would envisage fitting that description. Those of us who have left the party, but not joined any other party would seem to be the easiest targets for re-recruitment (and the party desperately needs ground troops). The trouble is that almost every month what is coming out of the party (Browne’s book a case in point), the party seems further to drift away from what it once was. No one at Westminster seems to be putting on the brakes and the leadership does not even offer a nod in our direction, especially as it was ‘Us’ that achieved the past electoral successes that put him there. If the party wants me back – so enthuse me someone!

  • “If Clegg stays until after the 2015 election, then the party’s fortunes might recover and everything will look rosy, or the party will do badly, it will know why, and it will have a clear point at which to break from the past and rebuild itself.”

    I am starting to wonder how much will be left to rebuild from, if Clegg remains in place until after the general election, though. In previous elections, the party has usually benefited from the campaign. This time the campaign is going to mean increased emphasis on the party’s greatest handicap – its leader – with a particular focus on the leaders’ debates. If the party went into the campaign on the poll rating it’s had for the last three and a half years, and became less popular during the campaign, then the results really could be devastating.

  • “There is no doubt that ICM consistently records higher numbers for the Lib Dems than the others and I have no insight into the relative merits of the different methodologies.”

    If I understand correctly, one of the most important differences is that ICM assumes that a large proportion of those who are currently “don’t knows” will end up voting as they did last time.

    I don’t think it’s safe to assume that will happen this time, just because the model has worked well in previous elections. In several ways, this election is not going to be like previous ones.

  • Graham Evans 15th Apr '14 - 3:56pm

    A poll in yesterday’s Evening Standard showed the LDs on 11% for the Euro-elections in London. This is of course just on the cusp of holding the one seat we have in the Capital. Moreover, perhaps surprisingly, the Party is only 3% down compared to 2010. What however seems to go unnoticed is how badly the Greens are doing. They are down by 6% to only 5%, which means they will certainly lose their seat unless they make a dramatic recovery.

  • Graham Evans
    Not wishing to doubt you, but are you sure you have that right? I haven’t seen the Lib Dems have 11% in a euro election poll for sometime now.

  • Graham Evans:
    Sorry I found it and you are right. Sign of the times when I can’t believe the Lib Dems could have such a high poll rating as 11%!

  • Paul in Twickenham 15th Apr '14 - 4:38pm

    @malc – that number is correct. The poll (by yougov) was specifically for London. Of course it has the usual caveats about error but it is likely that the Lib Dem position on Europe resonates in London more than in other parts of the country, no?

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Apr '14 - 4:42pm

    If that is the Party’s support in London, where many EU citizens from out of the UK live, what must it’s level of support be in the rest of the country?

  • Yorkshire Guidon 15th Apr '14 - 5:05pm

    If 6% is the national average then there must be a couple of regions where the party is in danger of losing its deposit along with its MEP.

  • Chris Manners 15th Apr '14 - 5:23pm

    The difference between the European Elections, Local Elections and General Election polls are the difference between “pathetic” and “awful”.

    I think you need to get out of the Coalition, change leader and do a “confidence and supply” motion.
    Develop your own plans, vote with Labour on getting the OBR the right to look at them.

  • Eddie Sammon 15th Apr '14 - 6:31pm

    The recent downturn is due to the Party of IN campaign. Speaking out about garden cities and Iraq inquiries isn’t going to do much whilst the public think we are fighting for the EU establishment.

  • paul barker 15th Apr '14 - 7:35pm

    The 1st rule of Polling is not to to take much notice of individual Polls, if they look interesting they are probably wrong. If we look at long-term Polling averages Libdem “support” has been level around 10% for the last 3 years. In The Local Elections we have consistently got 14/15%.
    Polling for The Euros has a long history of being erratic & badly wrong for the obvious reason that its impossible to pin down who will vote.
    We will find out what happened in The Euros on the 26th or 27th of May, speculation is pointless.

  • Richard Duncalf 15th Apr '14 - 9:45pm

    I think it is absolutely right that regionally we will do better than the national polls predict. I believe in london that we are at 12%. It is conceivable that we will end up with 4-6 MP’s.

  • Liberal Neil 15th Apr '14 - 10:17pm

    George – we aren’t ‘pretty much guaranteed’ to win any MEPs. We will do so in London and the SE if we get enough votes – probably about 8% – and partly depending on how the vote splits between other parties. Those are the two we’re most likely to hold. We’ll need a bigger share to win a seat in the SW.

  • Peter Watson 16th Apr '14 - 8:12am

    @paul barker “If we look at long-term Polling averages Libdem “support” has been level around 10% for the last 3 years. In The Local Elections we have consistently got 14/15%.”
    Before 2010 Lib Dem local election results reached 28% in 2009 (and were in the range 25-28% for a few years), and as you point out have been around 15% since 2010.
    Trying to round numbers “optimistically”, that slump is consistent with a drop from 23% in the 2010 general election to 13% in 2015. It is also consistent with a drop from 14% in the 2009 European elections to 8% in 2014.
    That’s not a million miles from where polling puts voting intention.

  • George Crozier 16th Apr '14 - 9:29am

    Dear me. Rather too much doom and gloom on here for my liking. Yes the poll ratings aren’t great but I’m doing a lot of door knocking and talking to voters at the moment and that suggests that where we are continuing to do the work our vote is holding up. Indeed in a Labour facing area the Conservative vote is eminently squeezable (helped by the failings of the Labour council). Hardly anyone raises the national situation and when they do it is often to say something positive.

  • Alex Macfie 17th Apr '14 - 1:42pm

    the Lib Dems have a policy of reforming the EU

    Indeed, and the whole point of European Parliamentary elections is to elect the very people who make specific law and policy for the EU. Whether you are pro or anti-EU isn’t even anything to do with MEPs, and by talking about this we as a party are tacitly accepting the false media narrative that the only thing that matters about the EU is whether you are for it or against it: uncritical support or withdrawal. We should be challenging this by talking about specific achievements of our MEPs, and contrasting them with what Tories and Labour did (and remember that Coalition politics does not apply in the European Parliament) and with what the Commission and national governments have supported where these differ from our stance. Talking about the differences between us and what the Commission originally wanted on specific legislation would drive home the point that being pro-EU does not mean uncritically supporting everything EU institutions do. It’s about what sort of EU we want to see; whether we want the UK to be part of it is a debate that belongs in the general election campaign.

  • I would echo what George Crozier says. From the door knocking I have done, when you get to speak to them, people I have met are generally positive about our party.

    But nothing changes the fact that this is a dreadful poll for the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg is the person to blame for this.

    Still, despite all the malcontents, no-one’s coming up with any names for a replacement.

  • paul barker 15th Apr ’14 – 7:35pm
    “..The 1st rule of Polling is not to to take much notice of individual Polls, ”
    And
    The 2nd rule (at least whilst in LDV) is not to take much notice of individuals like paul barker, who would appear to be consistently wrong with his approach of “everything is OK chaps – Clegg will come up with some gimmick and with one bound we will all be free.”
    Except the gimmick was ‘throwing down a gauntlet to Farage ‘and with one bound we were fifth.

    RC is quite correct when he says —
    ” ….the fact that this is a dreadful poll for the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg is the person to blame for this.”

  • David Evershed 18th Apr '14 - 4:24pm

    The Lib Dem message about the EU is out of step with public opinion – but also out of step with Lib Dem policy.

    Our policy is for localism not centralisation in Brussels.

    Our policy is for subsidiarity – laws only being passed at EU level if unavoidable.

    Our policy is to reform the EU.

    Why therefore was Nick Clegg persuaded to adopt a message that Lib Dem are the party of IN rather than the party of EU REFORM?

    Nick Clegg is doing a good job but he needs to take strategic advice away from Westminster and EU fanatics..

  • David Evans 19th Apr '14 - 7:18pm

    David Evershed – Which bit of losing 22,000 members; 2,150 councillors; 5 MPs, most of our MSPs and in a month’s time most if not all of our MEPs, do you considr Nick’s greatest triumph?

  • I’m sure the loss of the members has to be counted Nick’s biggest win, as by it he’s moved the Liberal Democrats significantly to the right, and diluted if not neutralised any potential opposition from within the party — keeping himself secure until at least 2015, and perhaps until 2020, even if the Lib Dems do face the worst-case scenario (barring a loss in Sheffield Hallam).

  • @George Crozier & RC – You think this polling erroneous and most people are positive about the Lib Dems? Maybe your sample set is very modal, it’s not what I’ve seen down the pub. Perhaps you’re exceptionally good at getting people to view the party positively. I know campaigners saying similar things, so you’re not alone; seems unlikely to me, but we’ll see come the election.

    @David Evans – If the current membership can’t trigger the process it’s not an organisation I’d wish to join. Next time things would have to be different, I’ve seen little appetite in the party for the sort of change that could shift public opinion (and make former supporters rejoin).

    @Steve Griffiths – Agree entirely, that’s why this site is full of us now. We’re still the bulk of likely Lib Dem voters, we won’t vote for the party again until it changes and we’re not going anywhere because there’s no destination. So, the party will either adapt to us or we’ll get bored and have to do something else!

    @Peter Watson – I understand what you’re saying, but I’m not convinced that stubbornly refusing to change an unpopular leader will bring about the best GE results. Seems like a costly and avoidable price for a clean break to me.

  • Peter Watson 20th Apr '14 - 10:02am

    @ChrisB ” I’m not convinced that stubbornly refusing to change an unpopular leader will bring about the best GE results”
    Achieving a slightly less embarrassing result in 2015 might not be best for the party in the long term.
    Changing leader would regain one extra vote (mine) but not if the next leader were Browne, Laws, Alexander, … Essentially I think the only way to make a clean break under a new leader is by starting from the low-water mark of the 2015 result. At that point the party will know who are its parliamentarians for the next 5 years and exactly how unpopular (or popular) is its current position, so it will be well-placed to rebuild. I am not certain that changing direction before then would end well, no matter how much I would like the party to do so.

  • Neither Cameron nor Miliband can currently ignore Clegg, which is one reason why he attracts a barrage of bile, though I certainly do not discount other reasons. Nevertheless we do have to understand that a pincer movement campaign is taking place and that a Clegg resignation would be greeted with triumphalist glee in both Labour and Tory camps. It would be said that the Lib Dems had folded their tent and quietly retired. Whichever replacement that came forward (age precludes Vince Cable) would be systematically brushed out of the picture not only by the two other main parties but also by virtually all of the media, who delight in kicking a dog that is down.

    Lib Dems do need to face some uncomfortable realities: we have benefited from an unfocussed anti politician and a general protest vote, which can only be regained if we once again achieve political impotence; Liberal principles, the kind of Social Liberalism that can be traced back to JS Mill and even our adherence to a more representative democracy have only minority support. In fact the core vote is alarmingly small.

    For the next election, it is important that the Party does make best use of its more effective proponents. This certainly does include Vince Cable, but we do have to recognise that Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander are not so effective. Actually Clegg was quite good in the first Farage debate, but popular opinion is generally against our pro EU message. Unfortunately Clegg paid too much heed of erroneous advice to be more combative, which did not work out in the second debate. However in the run up to the next election I do expect him to be able to speak with the authority of a leader at the heart of government with facts at his fingertips. If someone uncontaminated by cabinet government, Farron perhaps, were put in Clegg’s place, his lack of authority, whilst nevertheless, having been on the government benches, would in all likelihood be more of a weakness.

  • Neither Cameron nor Miliband can currently ignore Clegg, which is one reason why he attracts a barrage of bile, though I certainly do not discount other reasons. Nevertheless we do have to understand that a pincer movement campaign is taking place and that a Clegg resignation would be greeted with triumphalist glee in both Labour and Tory camps. It would be said that the Lib Dems had folded their tent and quietly retired. Whichever replacement that came forward (age precludes Vince Cable) would be systematically brushed out of the picture not only by the two other main parties but also by virtually all of the media, who delight in kicking a dog that is down.

  • Lib Dems do need to face some uncomfortable realities: we have benefited from an unfocussed anti politician and a general protest vote, which can only be regained if we once again achieve political impotence; Liberal principles, the kind of Social Liberalism that can be traced back to JS Mill and even our adherence to a more representative democracy have only minority support. In fact the core vote is alarmingly small.

    For the next election, it is important that the Party does make best use of its more effective proponents. This certainly does include Vince Cable, but we do have to recognise that Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander are not so effective. Actually Clegg was quite good in the first Farage debate, but popular opinion is generally against our pro EU message. Unfortunately Clegg paid too much heed of erroneous advice to be more combative, which did not work out in the second debate. However in the run up to the next election I do expect him to be able to speak with the authority of a leader at the heart of government with facts at his fingertips. If someone uncontaminated by cabinet government, Farron perhaps, were put in Clegg’s place, his lack of authority, whilst nevertheless, having been on the government benches, would in all likelihood be more of a weakness.

  • P.S. My first paragraph is awaiting approval, so anyone reading will have to wait! It does explain some of the severe problems and disadvantages if Nick Clegg stepped down.

  • Peter Watson 20th Apr '14 - 11:14am

    @Martin “but popular opinion is generally against our pro EU message”
    A recent poll of students suggests that even where the pro-EU message is supported (83%) Lib Dems are not (6%), so the party has an awful lot of ground to make up.

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