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Poll Watch: Review of 2007
Crowded street
A MORI poll suggested 70% of people were unhappy with the government's handling of immigration and asylum

In the latest monthly Poll Watch, the BBC's political research editor David Cowling casts his expert eye over 2007's political opinion polls.

An interesting year, politically.

It opened with a Populus/Times poll (sampled 5-7 January) suggesting that the Conservatives were on 39% support, Labour 32% and the Lib Dems at 18%.

The final Populus/Times of the year (sampled 7-9 December) gave the Conservatives 40%, Labour 32% and the Lib Dems 16%.

But these figures do scant justice to the extraordinary ebb and flow of public opinion recorded by numerous polls in between.

Labour floundered as Tony Blair served out his notice as prime minister, registering a low of 27% in March (ComRes/Independent, sampled 20-22 March).

Following Gordon Brown's succession as party leader, they hit 44% (and a 13% lead) in a MORI poll (sampled 20-26 September).

Dramatic reversal

But by the end of the year Labour were floundering again and somewhat unhelpfully ComRes/Independent (sampled 23-25 November) were on hand to deliver another low of 27%.

Most of the year saw a continuation of the generally small Conservative poll leads which began in 2006.

In February and March they hit a particularly good run of ratings, achieving 40-41% in five polls.

Things stalled for the Conservatives when Gordon Brown became prime minister and by the end of September they had been forced down to 31% in two polls - MORI and Populus/Times (both sampled between 20-27 September).

Good thing 48%
Bad thing 43%

Populus/Times 30-31 May

But a disciplined party conference dramatically restored their fortunes, pushing them up to 43% in ICM/Sunday Telegraph (sampled 10-11 October) and their dominance continued through to the end of the year.

The year was particularly miserable for the Lib Dems.

No tipping point

They broadly held their own in the polls for the first five months.

However, they sustained their biggest net loss of seats for 30 years in the May local elections in England and delivered lacklustre performances in the two parliamentary by-elections (Ealing Southall and Sedgefield) in July.

In June, they recorded 15% in a MORI/Observer poll (sampled 14-20 June).

Throughout the Summer, their support was eaten into by Labour and the Conservatives.

By October, in a MORI/Sun poll (sampled 10 October) their support was down at 11%. Five days later party leader Menzies Campbell resigned.

Yet, despite the firestorm that engulfed Labour in recent months, we do not appear to have reached any tipping point in British politics so far.

'Yah boo politics'

Populus/Times (sampled 7-9 December) found 20% of respondents who were satisfied with the Labour government, another 27% were dissatisfied with Labour but preferred them to the Conservatives; and 36% who preferred a Conservative government (11% answered "none of them" and 5% said "don't know").

What else is there to remember from a whole year's crop of polls?

ICM/Sunday Telegraph (sampled 5-6 December but solely among English respondents) found 69% support for the continuation of the union between Scotland and England and 57% support for the creation of a British football team.

MORI/Associated Press (sampled 9-18 February) suggested a fairly even split over the death penalty for murderers: 50% in favour compared with 45% opposed.

Given the common complaint about "yah boo" politics, some may have been surprised by the Populus/Times poll (sampled 30-31 May) which found 48% agreeing that the adversarial style of politics regularly on show in the Commons was a good thing, with 43% thinking it was a bad thing.

ICM/Sunday Express (sampled 1-3 February) found 71% who thought super casinos were "a bad thing"; and 63% who thought the government were wrong to stop Churches from deciding their own policies over gay people adopting children.

Finally, just to add to the difficulties of politicians trying to resolve the problem of party funding, Populus/Times (sampled 7-9 December) registered 64% disagreement with the proposition that state funding from taxpayers' money for parties should be extended. In fact 46% of all respondents strongly disagreed.

Poll Watch: November 2007
07 Dec 07 |  UK Politics
Poll Watch: October 2007
08 Nov 07 |  UK Politics
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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