Tonight’s Times has a YouGov poll conducted on Wednesday night and Thursday daytime, giving us our first steer on the public reaction to the poisoning in Salisbury.

73% of people in the poll think that Russia is responsible for the poisoning, 21% are unsure, 5% don’t think it was Russia. There is also broad public support for the government’s reaction – 60% support the measures they’ve announced so far and 14% are opposed. Asking more specifically about the response of the party leaders, 53% think Theresa May has responded well to the incident, 23% badly; 18% think Jeremy Corbyn has responded well, 39% badly (and 43% don’t know).

SkyData had a poll earlier on today which asked similar questions about how well respondents thought May and Corbyn were dealing with Russia, with very similar results. They found 61% thought May had done a good job, 29% a bad job; 18% thought Corbyn had done a good job, 57% a bad job.

Returning to the YouGov/Times poll, the voting intention figures are CON 42%(+1), LAB 39%(-4), LDEM 7%(nc). I’m sure people will be tempted to interpret that as Labour’s support taking a hit from their reaction to the poisoning… I’d be very cautious before concluding that. The changes are within the margin of error, and nothing we haven’t seen before (for example, while YouGov’s last few polls have shown Labour just ahead, they had another poll in early February showing a small Tory lead that turned out to be just a blip). If we see other polls showing a drop in Labour support then it will be a fair conclusion, but a relatively small change in a single poll could easily be co-incidence.

We’ve had three voting intention polls in the last couple of days:

  • Ipsos MORI‘s monthly political monitor had topline figures of CON 43%(+4), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 6%(-3). Fieldwork was over last weekend (Fri-Wed), and changes are from January. Tabs are here.
  • YouGov/Times on Friday has toplines of CON 41%(nc), LAB 43%(+1), LDEM 7%(nc). Fieldwork was Mon-Tues and changes are from last week. Tabs are here.
  • Survation/GMB, reported in the Sunday Mirror, has CON 37%(-3), LAB 44%(+1), LDEM 9%(+1). Fieldwork was Wednesday and Thursday, and changes are from the tail end of January. No tabs yet.

There is no clear trend – Labour is steady across the board, Survation have the Tories falling, MORI have them rising. MORI and YouGov show the two main parties neck-and-neck, Survation have a clear Labour lead.

The better Labour position in Survation is typical, but it’s not really clear why. As regular readers will know, Survation do both online and telephone voting intention polls. Their phone polls really do have a significantly different methodology – rather than random digit dialling, they randomly select phone numbers from consumer databases and ring those specific people. That would be an obvious possible explanation for a difference between Survation phone polls and polls from other companies. However, this poll wasn’t conducted by telephone, it was conducted online, and Survation’s online method is pretty similar to everyone else’s.

Survation’s online samples at the general election were much the same as everyone elses. The differences were down to other companies experimenting with things like demographic turnout modelling in order to solve the problems of 2015, approaches that ultimately ended up backfiring. However, polling companies that got it wrong have now dropped the innovations that didn’t work and largely gone back to simpler methods on turnout, meaning there is now no obvious reason for the difference.

Meanwhile, looking at the other questions in the surveys the YouGov poll also included their all their regular EU trackers, following Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s speeches. Neither, unsusprisingly, seem to have made much difference. 29% of people think that the Conservative party’s policy on Brexit is clear, up on a week ago (25%) but still significantly down from January (37%). 36% of people say they support May’s approach to Brexit, barely changed from a week ago (35%). For Labour, just 18% of people now think their Brexit policy is clear (down from 22% straight after Corbyn’s speech), 21% of people say they support the approach that Jeremy Corbyn is taking towards Brexit.


Quick update on recent polls – ICM in the Guardian have topline voting intention figures of CON 43%(+1), LAB 42%(-1), LDEM 7%(nc) (tabs are here). Voting intention remains as static as it has been for the last eight months or so.

The rest of the poll was sadly agree/disagree statements, but for what it’s worth they don’t suggest any particular impact from Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn’s speeches on Brexit last week. For Theresa May 30% agreed her speech made her position clearer, 35% disagree; for Jeremy Corbyn 32% agreed his speech made his position clearer, 31% disagree. I suspect in both cases this is actually a third of people who had an idea of the party position (or are giving a partisan pro-party answer) rather than a third of the country who have actually become more enlightened.

Saturday’s Times had the latest YouGov voting intention results, which were CON 40%(nc), LAB 42%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc).

It also had results from a poll asking about the media allegations about Jeremy Corbyn having met a Czech spy in the 1980s, which clearly illustrated why such things make very little difference.

To start with, most people pay very little attention to the day-to-day soap opera of politics. 40% of people said they had been completely unaware of the story until taking the survey, a further 31% said they had noticed it, but hadn’t really paid it any attention. That leaves less than a third who had actually taken it in. Obviously things that no one notices have no real impact, especially since those people who do watch political news stories will disproportionately be those who are interested in politics and have firm political allegiances.

Asked if they thought the allegations were true, the results were as you’d expect. A large majority of Labour voters thought that Jeremy Corbyn probably had a perfectly innocent meeting with someone he thought was a diplomat, and that he probably didn’t give any information to any Czech agents. The only people who believed it were Conservatives. This is typical of such allegations: people view them through the prism of their existing political allegiences. If it’s an allegation against a party you support, you are likely to view it with scepticism and give the politician concerned the benefit of the doubt, if it’s an allegation against a party you dislike then it will confirm all the negative things you thought already.

Finally, YouGov asked if the spy allegations and the way Jeremy Corbyn had responded to them had changed people’s opinions of Jeremy Corbyn at all. Only 8% of people said it had made them think more negatively about him (and they were mostly Tories to begin with). 6% said it made them think better of Corbyn (and they were mostly Labour voters to begin with). A hearty 64% said it made no difference at all.

Full results for the voting intention are here, and the Corbyn results are here.

YouGov poll of London

YouGov have a new poll of London for Queen Mary University of London. Westminster voting intention in London stands are CON 33%, LAB 53%, LDEM 8% – little different from at the general election.

More interesting, given we are only a few months away from the London council elections in May, are local government voting intentions of CON 28%(+2), LAB 54%(+17), LDEM 11%(+1), GRN 4%(-6) UKIP 2%(-10). Changes are since the last London local elections which were back in 2014, on the same day as the European Parliament elections.

If these figures were to be reflected in May’s elections it would be an extremely strong performance for Labour, building upon 2014 results which were already pretty strong. Exactly how good it would be in terms of seats and councils gained depends on how the vote is distributed. The figures suggest a very different picture in inner and outer London. In inner London the poll suggests a swing of 13 points from Conservative to Labour – that would be enough for Labour to win the “flagship” Tory borough of Wandsworth (controlled by the Conservatives since 1978) and Westminster (controlled by the Conservatives since it was created in 1964). However, it wouldn’t necessarily net Labour a huge number of extra councillors since in many inner London boroughs like Islington, Lambeth and Lewisham Labour already hold the overwhelming majority of the councillors anyway.

In outer London, where the Conservatives are likely to be picking up votes that went to UKIP last time, the poll suggests a much smaller swing to Labour – something around four points. That would be enough for Labour to take Barnet, but the Conservatives would probably be able to hold onto other outer London councils where Labour are the main challengers. The battle between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives in South West London is, of course, difficult to discern from a Londonwide poll.

The full tabs for the London poll are here.

There was also a new GB poll out today from ICM for the Guardian. Topline figures there are CON 42%(+1), LAB 43%(+3), LDEM 7%(-1). Tabs are here.