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Tangled up in Blue

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Guardian/ICM poll: Conservatives show vulnerability in class battleTories seen increasingly as upper class, but lead over Labour widens to 11 points thanks to a rise in the Lib Dem vote

Julian Glover guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 January 2010 18.36 GMT Article history
The ICM poll suggests voters are willing to give David Cameron a narrow majority. Photograph: John Giles/PA

The Conservatives are losing the battle over class, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today, which shows a third of voters see the Tories as the party of the upper classes.

Overall, Labour has failed to dent the Conservative poll lead despite a month of political skirmishing, with voters apparently still ready to give David Cameron a narrow majority.


Julian Glover on the latest ICM poll Link to this audio The poll will give some reassurance to opposition leaders, with the Tory lead widening slightly to 11 points thanks to an increase in the Liberal Democrat vote at Labour's expense. It also shows voters back the party's proposals on marriage and think Gordon Brown's leadership made the recession worse. They agree overwhelmingly, too, that it is time for a change of government.

But there are signs that Labour's attack on Tory toffs is sticking with a substantial minority identifying the party with the upper classes, even though almost no one in Britain admits belonging to this group. That may spell danger for Cameron, although there are risks for Labour too in being seen largely as the party of the poor. Almost a third of voters think Labour is largely the party of the working class, a group that a narrow majority of people believe they belong to.

Labour has been divided over its campaign strategy since Brown's jibe at David *Cameron's Eton education last month. Class attacks have appealed most to Labour's core vote, which is more likely than any other group to see the Tories as an exclusive party of the upper classes.

By contrast many other voters see the Tories as a mainstream party. Overall, 57% of voters think the Tories stand for the middle classes or everyone, against only 48% who say this of Labour. The coalition of voters from different backgrounds that powered Tony Blair to three election *victories may have cracked.

There are risks too for Labour in its opposition to Tory plans to give some married couples a tax break. Despite Conservative confusion over who would gain and how the tax cut could be paid for, 65% think a cut for couples with children is a good idea, against 29% who oppose one. Among married couples, backing rises to 78%. Among definite Labour supporters, it is 70% – remarkably one point higher than among Tories.

With little over three months to go until the likely date of the general election, the result remains on a knife-edge between a hung parliament and a small Tory majority. At 40% Conservative support is unchanged for the fourth ICM poll in a row. The figure is notably lower than the 45% peak in October and the 44% in the Guardian/ICM poll in January last year.

Labour may be concerned by the rise in the Lib Dem vote to 21%, the highest for three months. Although there is no evidence that the Iraq inquiry is driving anti-war voters away from Labour, the third party is now just eight points behind Labour and well placed to gain from this week's questioning of Tony Blair and Brown's forthcoming appearance.

One academic study suggests that if today's figures were repeated on election day the Conservatives would win 326 seats – a majority of one. However, an ICM poll last weekend in the marginal seats Cameron must take to form a government suggested that the party was outperforming the overall national swing.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults by telephone on 22-24 January 2010. *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
 

Reg Martin

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I always find it amusing that the Guardian is so class obsessed when the vast majority of its readership come from the more wealthy sections of society.
 

Mad Cyril

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I always find it amusing that the Guardian is so class obsessed when the vast majority of its readership come from the more wealthy sections of society.

I have always wondered why the supplement lifestyle sections feature expensive flats/townhouses in North London and not miners cottages in Yorkshire.
 

Reg Martin

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I have always wondered why the supplement lifestyle sections feature expensive flats/townhouses in North London and not miners cottages in Yorkshire.

That is because most Guardian readers claim to have been raised in Yorkshire mining villages but now live in North London townhouses
 

SARF

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11 point lead for a narrow majority.. Blimey, if cameron gets in he needs to sort out the boundary changes sharpish and sort out scotlands over representation in London, post their parliament
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Guardian/ICM poll: Conservatives show vulnerability in class battleTories seen increasingly as upper class, but lead over Labour widens to 11 points thanks to a rise in the Lib Dem vote

Julian Glover guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 January 2010 18.36 GMT Article history
The ICM poll suggests voters are willing to give David Cameron a narrow majority. Photograph: John Giles/PA

The Conservatives are losing the battle over class, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today, which shows a third of voters see the Tories as the party of the upper classes.

Overall, Labour has failed to dent the Conservative poll lead despite a month of political skirmishing, with voters apparently still ready to give David Cameron a narrow majority.


Julian Glover on the latest ICM poll Link to this audio The poll will give some reassurance to opposition leaders, with the Tory lead widening slightly to 11 points thanks to an increase in the Liberal Democrat vote at Labour's expense. It also shows voters back the party's proposals on marriage and think Gordon Brown's leadership made the recession worse. They agree overwhelmingly, too, that it is time for a change of government.

But there are signs that Labour's attack on Tory toffs is sticking with a substantial minority identifying the party with the upper classes, even though almost no one in Britain admits belonging to this group. That may spell danger for Cameron, although there are risks for Labour too in being seen largely as the party of the poor. Almost a third of voters think Labour is largely the party of the working class, a group that a narrow majority of people believe they belong to.

Labour has been divided over its campaign strategy since Brown's jibe at David *Cameron's Eton education last month. Class attacks have appealed most to Labour's core vote, which is more likely than any other group to see the Tories as an exclusive party of the upper classes.

By contrast many other voters see the Tories as a mainstream party. Overall, 57% of voters think the Tories stand for the middle classes or everyone, against only 48% who say this of Labour. The coalition of voters from different backgrounds that powered Tony Blair to three election *victories may have cracked.

There are risks too for Labour in its opposition to Tory plans to give some married couples a tax break. Despite Conservative confusion over who would gain and how the tax cut could be paid for, 65% think a cut for couples with children is a good idea, against 29% who oppose one. Among married couples, backing rises to 78%. Among definite Labour supporters, it is 70% – remarkably one point higher than among Tories.

With little over three months to go until the likely date of the general election, the result remains on a knife-edge between a hung parliament and a small Tory majority. At 40% Conservative support is unchanged for the fourth ICM poll in a row. The figure is notably lower than the 45% peak in October and the 44% in the Guardian/ICM poll in January last year.

Labour may be concerned by the rise in the Lib Dem vote to 21%, the highest for three months. Although there is no evidence that the Iraq inquiry is driving anti-war voters away from Labour, the third party is now just eight points behind Labour and well placed to gain from this week's questioning of Tony Blair and Brown's forthcoming appearance.

One academic study suggests that if today's figures were repeated on election day the Conservatives would win 326 seats – a majority of one. However, an ICM poll last weekend in the marginal seats Cameron must take to form a government suggested that the party was outperforming the overall national swing.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults by telephone on 22-24 January 2010. *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

It's always a shame when a headline contradicts what an article has to say.

If a third of voters see the Tories as the party of the upper classes, that means two-thirds don't. Shouldn't that therefore be Tories are winning the battle over class?

Ignoring obvious points, like the Tory substantial lead in the polls, Labour are painting themselves into a hole. We've seen it on marriage when they are appearing as anti-marriage, with the result of reinforcing themselves as being the party of single mother immigrants on benefits. This is particularly dumb, when you consider that the key marginals pretty much all have higher rates of marriage and it is the safe Labour seats in the inner-cities that have the lowest rate of marriage.

Likewise on class, from a psephological view point (ie an unemotional, rational view point, not mired in party political prejudice), it is far more dangerous to be portrayed as the party of the poor than it is to be the party of the middle classes. The key marginals tend to be in places like Lincoln, Warwick and Leamington, Stevenage, Gloucester, Bedford places like this. These aren't working class areas, they are lower middle class areas with aspirations of escaping from the working classes. The election will be won and lost in these types of provincial towns, and I can't see Labour's line of attack chiming in these areas - something the ICM poll of the marginals seems to concur with.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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11 point lead for a narrow majority.. Blimey, if cameron gets in he needs to sort out the boundary changes sharpish and sort out scotlands over representation in London, post their parliament

I believe Scotland's historic over-representation is being/has-been reduced. The issue I believe is now more to do with the First Past the Post system.

IIRC last time out, the Tories actually had a majority of votes in England.
 

seany t

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It was interesting on Question Time last week that the audience and panel all thought there was still a 'class issue' in this country. Except the Tory representative.

I couldn't really care a less truth be told...
 

londonblue

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It's always a shame when a headline contradicts what an article has to say.

If a third of voters see the Tories as the party of the upper classes, that means two-thirds don't. Shouldn't that therefore be Tories are winning the battle over class?

Depends on what the score was in previous polls. If more people see the Tories and the party of the upper class than did previously then their claim is correct. If not, then their claim is incorrect.
 

Tangled up in Blue

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It's always a shame when a headline contradicts what an article has to say.

Well done YB-you correctly spotted the spin in this article.
Surely the real "story" was that the Tories had a double figure 11 point lead and if this happened in a GE then they'd be returned with a minimal(ie one seat overall)majority?
That information was pretty much buried in the final paragraph.
 
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Tangled up in Blue

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I always find it amusing that the Guardian is so class obsessed when the vast majority of its readership come from the more wealthy sections of society.

I woudn't call myself wealthy but I've been reading the Guardian since 6th form days(ie some time in my particular case).
It's a popular paper in most of the staffrooms I've ever been in.
Do teachers rank as members of the "more wealthy sections of society" these days?
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Depends on what the score was in previous polls. If more people see the Tories and the party of the upper class than did previously then their claim is correct. If not, then their claim is incorrect.

Not really, the party ahead in the polls is still winning the battle at that point in time.

It's always a shame when a headline contradicts what an article has to say.

Well done YB-you correctly spotted the spin in this article.
Surely the real "story" was that the Tories had a 12 point lead and if this happened in a GE then they'd be returned with a minimal(ie one seat overall)majority?
That information was pretty much buried in the final paragraph.

Those seat predictors are only very rough predictors. With that sort of lead, I'd expect more of a 40+ seat majority, especially as parties concentrate their battles at the marginals.
 

Reg Martin

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I woudn't call myself wealthy but I've been reading the Guardian since 6th form days(ie some time in my particular case).
It's a popular paper in most of the staffrooms I've ever been in.
Do teachers rank as members of the "more wealthy sections of society" these days?

Here's one who was born in Westcliff but now lives in a townhouse in Sant Cugat.:)

I do buy the Guardian from time to time myself so my comment was tongue in cheek. I had a very middle-class Leigh-on-Sea upbringing but now live in a flat in Middlesbrough (the posh part of course:))
 

Hotman

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I guess this all depends on how you view the "class" system, and the relevance of it in todays society. I'd consider myself working class, despite my profession, what I earn and how many hours I work - fact is, if I didn't work, I'd be skint after 4 or so months, and my family are traditional "working class".

Why anybody who is of the "working class" (using the above definition, > 85% of the voting population) would want to vote for the "non-working class" Labour party (Ethnic, Bad back, Can't speak english? Here's £80 a week) is confusing to me.
 

Tangled up in Blue

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I guess this all depends on how you view the "class" system, and the relevance of it in todays society. I'd consider myself working class, despite my profession, what I earn and how many hours I work - fact is, if I didn't work, I'd be skint after 4 or so months, and my family are traditional "working class".

Why anybody who is of the "working class" (using the above definition, > 85% of the voting population) would want to vote for the "non-working class" Labour party (Ethnic, Bad back, Can't speak english? Here's £80 a week) is confusing to me.

I don't consider myself working class-although like you I'd be skint if I didn't work for a few months.My parents though certainly were working class.
One thing I do know though is I could never vote Tory no matter how poor the Labour Government of the day.Liberal or Green maybe but that's about it.
 
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Hotman

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I don't consider myself working class-although like you I'd be skint if I didn't work for a few months.My parents though certainly were working class.
One thing I do know though is I could never vote Tory no matter how poor the Labour Government of the day.Liberal or Green maybe but that's about it.
interesting, I'm "working class" who'd not vote for Labour, and you're presumably "middle class" who'd not vote for Tories...
 
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