So, Theresa May blindsided the rest of Westminster with the best kept political secret for generations, and fired a starting gun for what promises to be the most one-sided election campaign since Tony Blair promised that things could only get better 20 years ago. Or since the last sighting of a donkey jacket on the stump (that would be Michael Foot, 1983, for those of you too young to know). The latter somehow feels more appropriate.
And it didn’t take long for the first strike from Tory HQ either - warming to the 2015 theme of Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket they thrust straight at Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of a rag-tag progressive coalition as the only possible alternative to, well, pick your Tory overall majority number du jour.
The national polls correctly predicted a Clinton victory on vote share and the accuracy was better than it was in 2012
There’s plenty more where that came from, no doubt. With Labour MPs reportedly doing anything to avoid imagery of the Labour leadership on their constituency material, it’s a fair bet that Lynton Crosby will be drawing up images of Prime Minister Corbyn that will be unleashed on unsuspecting voters all over the key marginals in the weeks to come.
But why, I hear you say, are we reading anything from a pollster these days - more covered as we are in excrement than glory? It’s a fair question, but stick with me for a moment because the brown stuff has dropped off the fan. The charge of a polling catastrophe in 2015 is something we fully accept, but do remember that as many polls predicted a Leave referendum victory as a Remain one. And that presidential election? Well, the national polls correctly predicted a Clinton victory on vote share and the accuracy was better than it was in 2012.
So maybe you can believe us as we set new polling records almost on a weekly basis: highest ever Tory lead, highest ever Tory share of the vote, lowest ever Labour share. You name it the metrics are consistently pointing to a full demolition of Camp Corbyn.
And there’s so much more we’re doing to evaluate the power of the messages and the policy platforms on offer. At last, real evidence is emerging that what people say can be at odds with what they feel. ICM Unlimited’s new PECS Index measures the "emotional certainty" in a response, and we’ve found among other things, that "Take Back Control" had twice the emotional connection of "Project Fear" arguments, and with 2017 in mind, that a penny on income tax ring-fenced for the NHS is popular right up to the moment that people vote the other way.
You heard it here first.
Martin Boon is the director of ICM Unlimited (the market research and insight company in the Unlimited Group)