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Poll Watch: October 2007
Gordon Brown and David Cameron

In the latest monthly Poll Watch, the BBC's political research editor David Cowling casts his expert eye over October's political opinion polls.

October became the month of the general election that never was, as the polls went on a serious roller-coaster.

To take just one example: YouGov polls (not random samples of the British public, but drawn from a panel of internet users) went from an 11% Labour lead at the end of the party's conference to a 3% Conservative lead one week later at the close of that party's conference.

Are we to conclude that the polls are rubbish, simply ricocheting around? I don't believe so.

The public mood does appear to be a volatile and the Conservatives certainly struck a chord with their proposals on inheritance tax and stamp duty.


Populus/Times (sampled 2 to 4 October) found 61% thought their tax bills too high; and 72% supported the Conservative proposal to make "wealthy people pay more in tax in order to take most people in Britain out of the inheritance tax net".

And Populus/Daily Politics (sampled 3 to 4 October) found 58% agreeing that it was "a good idea for the Conservatives to place tax cuts at the centre of their election campaign".

However, the polls also suggest that the electorate's view of the past few weeks is a more complex picture than that portrayed in the headline voting figures.

Gordon Brown's standing among voters has certainly taken a knock.


But while an ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll (sampled 10 to 11 October) gave a seven-point Conservative vote lead over Labour, it also found Gordon Brown 20 points ahead of David Cameron on being the strongest leader; and 11 points ahead on managing the economy properly.

And while the past month has seen a distinct rise in Conservative fortunes, ICM/Guardian (sampled 3 to 4 October) found 54% taking the view that the Conservatives are the same party they always were and haven't really changed at all, compared with 39% who thought the party had changed under David Cameron.

In the aftermath of Sir Menzies Campbell's resignation as Lib Dem leader, Populus/BBC Daily Politics (sampled 17 to 18 October) registered 87% disagreement with the statement that he was "too old to lead a national political party".

His parliamentary colleagues would have been relieved that 57% of respondents also disagreed that the Lib Dems "are now irrelevant in British politics".


MORI/Fawcett Society-Unison (sampled 26 to 28 October) addressed the issue of pay inequality.

Some 58% thought men were paid more than women for comparable jobs (a view held by 53% of men and 64% of women) as opposed to 31% who thought there was no differential.

When asked about government attempts to ensure equal pay for women in Britain, 61% said they had not gone far enough, compared with 30% who said they were "about right".

On the question of which political party was most committed to closing pay differences between men and women, 23% nominated labour and 8% each the Conservatives and Lib Dems (10% said "none" and 49% answered "don't know").


Populus/BBC Daily Politics (sampled 24 to 25 October) ventured into the recent debate about projected increases in Britain's population.

Some 64% agreed there were too many people in Britain; and 77% supported a strict limit on immigration.

However, 60% disagreed that our increasing population had a negative impact on their lives (37% said it did). And 71% agreed that immigrants "make a vital contribution to the economy".

Finally, on a more heart-warming note, an ICM poll for the BBC (sampled 18 to 21 October) asked married respondents if they had their time over again would they marry the same person. Some 92% said they would.

Poll Watch: September 2007
05 Oct 07 |  UK Politics
Poll Watch: August 2007
04 Sep 07 |  UK Politics
Poll Watch: July 2007
01 Aug 07 |  UK Politics
Poll Watch: June 2007
03 Jul 07 |  UK Politics
Poll Watch: May 2007
30 May 07 |  UK Politics

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