Peter Hoskin

Hold your horses | 23 November 2009

Hold your horses | 23 November 2009
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The blogosphere is alight with all kinds of chatter about yesterday's Ipsos MORI poll for the Observer, which showed Labour closing the gap between them and the Tories to 6 points: from James Macintyre's claim that the Labour fightback has begun to Nick Robinson's call for calm.  

Myself, I'm on Team Robinson.  Sure, the poll is an eye-opener for CCHQ - but, by itself, it's hardly evidence of a tidal shift in voting intentions.  Indeed, going off two very useful posts by Anthony Wells and Stephan Shakespeare, there's a considerable chance that this is a rogue.

Polls will always be imperfect, but they've been particularly volatile recently.  Since party conference season, we've seen the Tories achieving 17-point leads as well as this low of 6 points.  As for the reason, we can only guess.  Perhaps politics is in flux.  Perhaps voters are still undecided on the main parties after another round of expenses scandal.  Perhaps the Glasgow by-election has had some kind of effect.  Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

Either way, I'd say it's best to wait until the polls settle before drawing any substantive conclusions.  If this latest poll becomes the start of a trend – only then should the Tories start to worry, and Labour start to celebrate.

P.S. UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells also dissects James Macintyre's claim that Labour's private polling has them in the lead.  Well worth reading along with his masterful post on private polls from a couple of weeks ago.