Today we’ve had the first two polls asking people about whether they’d support The Independent Group were they to stand candidates.

Survation in the Daily Mail asked how people would vote if there was “a new centrist party opposed to Brexit”, producing voting intention figures of CON 39%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, “New centrist party” 8%, UKIP 5%. In comparison, the normal voting intention figures in the poll were CON 40%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5%, suggesting the new party could take support from both Labour and Conservative, though it would largely take votes from the Liberal Democrats. Tables are here.

SkyData, who do not typically publish voting intention figures, asked how people would vote if the “new Independent Group of former Labour MPs” were standing, and found voting intention figures of CON 32%, LAB 26%, TIG 10%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 6%. We don’t have standard voting intention figures to compare here, but on the face of it, it also looks as if support is coming from both Labour and Conservative, though the level of Lib Dem support appears to be holding up better than in the Survation poll. Note that the lower figures overall appear to be because of an unusually high figure for “others” (possibly because SkyData do not offer respondents the ability to answer don’t know). Tables are here.

These polls are, of course, still rather hypothetical. “The Independent Group” is not a political party yet (assuming, that it ever becomes one). It doesn’t formally have a leader yet, or any policies. We don’t yet know how it will co-exist with the Liberal Democrats. As of Tuesday night it only has former Labour MPs, though the rumourmill expects some Conservative MPs to join sooner rather than later.

Nevertheless, it is more “real” than the typical hypothetical polls asking about imaginary centrist parties. Respondents do at least have some names, faces and context to base it upon, and it gives us a baseline of support. We won’t really know for sure until (and unless) the Independent Group transform into a proper party and is just another option in standard voting intention polls.


511 Responses to “Survation and SkyData polls on the Independent Group”

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  1. Labour clearly down in both polls. It is difficult to see how TIG can be anything other than a drain on the Labour vote. Even if one or two Tories do join, it will remain a predominately ex-Labour club.

  2. On Twitter the news of these polls has led to cries of ‘rubbish’, and asking how could seven people get 8%/10% of the vote.

    If the polling remains like this, I can see it being easy to recruit a lot of people to both be active for the group and stand in a GE, if that’s how it goes.

    People like being associated with enterprises that look like being successful.

    Since April it gathered about 400 k members and won 308 seats in the French Parliament.

    I’m not saying the IG will definately be as successful – it needs a lot of things to go its way.

    However, to rule it out now, barely 24 hrs into it’s birth, would premature.

  3. @ANTHONY WELLS

    Is that use of “Other” when already asking for parties down as far as PC normal?

    7% for them seems rather strange given how many other options there are – should we assume that to be the equivalent of “I’d vote but not for any of the usual shower!” kind of response?

  4. Correction

    On Twitter the news of these polls has led to cries of ‘rubbish’, and asking how could seven people get 8%/10% of the vote.

    If the polling remains like this, I can see it being easy to recruit a lot of people to both be active for the group and stand in a GE, if that’s how it goes.

    People like being associated with enterprises that look like being successful.
    Since April 2016 it has gathered about 400 k members and won 308 seats in the French Parliament.

    I’m not saying the IG will definately be as successful – it needs a lot of things to go its way.

    However, to rule it out now, barely 24 hrs into it’s birth, would premature.

  5. BTW the above posts (400K etc) refer to Macron’s En Marche.

  6. Looking at the Sky tables, 26% said they would not vote – a ridiculously high figure for any poll[1], even Sky’s which by definition is made up of couch potatoes. Ignoring that, of the remainder all the VIs are (my calc):

    Con 32%
    Lab 26%
    Ind Grp 10%
    Lib Dem 9%
    Other 7%
    UKIP 6%
    Greens 4%
    SNP 4%
    PC 1%

    So there was no DK option and that may be skewing things with Ind Group (which many people will be unaware of what it is) and Other[2] taking up some of the slack for those who are sure they will vote but not sure for who.

    Sky also have the problem with a short fieldwork period and their ‘panel’ being by definition Sky subscribers, so whole sections of the population may be missing. Some of the weighting looks heavy (possibly due to the short period) and Sky don’t often do VI polling, so none of this should be taken as particularly authoritative. Not that this will stop anyone of course.

    [1] Of course this sort of figure is the sort of percentage that actually won’t vote, but polls ought to under-represent such people because they also tend not to fill in polls and those that do may be unrepresentative.

    [2] Unlike with Survation this appears to be a GB not UK poll, so this probably doesn’t include NI Parties.

    (duplicating some of Anthony’s points as I wrote it before I saw the new thread)

  7. I’d wait until the type of Brexit is know before drawing conclusions. That sort of seismic shock should change things, then it will settle, I think.

    Funny how the Independent Group (oxymoron?) has ~1% support for each MP. Are any Conservatives looking to join? We’ll find out, but if it’s only a handful then this looks like SDP mark II.

  8. RAF

    Labour clearly down in both polls. It is difficult to see how TIG can be anything other than a drain on the Labour vote. Even if one or two Tories do join, it will remain a predominately ex-Labour club.

    Possibly, but in so far as it is taking voters, it seems to be doing so from both sides. Looking at the Survation poll and the changes from their first VI question without the new ‘party'[1]:

    Con 32% (-2)

    Lab 30% (-2)

    Lib Dem 6% (-2)

    New* 7% (n/a)

    UKIP 4% (-)

    Green 2% (-)

    SNP 3% (-)

    PC *% (-)

    Another 1% (-)

    Undecided 15% (-2)

    * Described as “A new centrist party opposed to Brexit”

    (Original sample also had 5% would not vote; excluded from all above).

    They’re taking a little from all sides rather than just from Labour and it may be that even that overestimates the current movement. There’s clearly something of the Mrs Doyle Effect going on here, with some feeling obliged to give a different answer the second time. In fact Greens, UKIP and SNP all gained 3-4 extra preferences instead of losing them to the new party.

    It’s still early days of course, but there doesn’t feel like anything of the same impact that the proto-SDP had. It’s true Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs don’t seem to be making much of an impression outside of their media chums and I’ll believe the Tory defections when I see them.

    [1] Using figures before LTV etc as this is about assessing movement between Parties rather than estimated vote.

  9. Does the polling change if the IG identifies who will be their leader put forward for Prime Minister?

    I think the challenge is figuring out how to bring about an ideological big tent. Cause’ I’d imagine that you’ve got a lot of patriotic Tories who are aghast over Brexit and want to stop it. They have that in common with the Labour MPs. And they’ve got that in common and it’s a pretty serious thing that they feel passionately about. But then, going down the line, there’s probably a lot of divergence. The moderate Tories and the Blairite Labourites probably have a lot in common. But there probably are some solidly right wing Tories who hate Brexit. There are probably some solidly left wing Labourites who can’t stand Corbyn and don’t want Brexit. And figuring out how you navigate that divergence is mighty difficult. Especially if you’re trying to provide a unified front to the public and give an option that is workable.

    As I saw in Congressional races last year, you could bring together wide coalitions of voters behind the right candidate to flip once safe GOP held seats. But it’s one thing to bring together the voters. It’s another to bring together the MPs to get a platform and put together a party where they all belong.

  10. So I saw this GREAT show that originated on British television, A Very English Scandal starring Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw. SO good. I’ve already watched it twice.

    Anyway, it’s about Jeremy Thorpe and his career ending scandal. And looking at the current situation with the Independent Group, I can’t help but look at Thorpe and wonder how he would have dealt with the current split. Or if he’d have been in a position to bring together both groups as credible to both Labour and Tory MPs and be put forward as PM (but for his penchant for trying to murder ex lovers and/or have others pay hush money to them).

    Kinda funny learning the Southern California connections to the Thorpe story. Thorpe’s son lives in LA. Peter Bessell wound up living in Oceanside of all places (which was ruby red but no longer as of November 6, 2018).

  11. @ Roger Mexico

    “It’s still early days of course, but there doesn’t feel like anything of the same impact that the proto-SDP had. It’s true Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs don’t seem to be making much of an impression outside of their media chums and I’ll believe the Tory defections when I see them.”

    I think Joan Ryan defecting is kind of a big deal.

    Here’s what I find curious. To the extent that Labour gained in 2017, it seems due to anti-Brexit backlash. But Corbyn and even some of the Labour candidates who ran (Emma Dent Coad) were pro-Brexit. Or at least not hard anti-Brexit. Corbyn hangs his hat on large gains in 2017 but it seems like it came in spite of him, not because of him. Will be interesting if there’s enough of a constituency out there for this group.

  12. SKYDATA
    in the tables 2% of people who voted Leave in the referendum would now vote LibDem and 1% of people who voted Remain would now vote UKIP

    What are these people on? …and how can I get some of it?
    LOL

  13. @socalliberal
    I think you’re misreading Labours gains in GE17.
    The Tories wanted it to be the Brexit election, but Labour successfully moved the agenda onto domestic issues where their policies proved popular.
    Corbyns personal ratings did improve over the campaign though they’ve slumped back to where they were since.
    Labours membership, which has approximately tripled since he ran for leader, still back him and the parties domestic policies. I’d be very surprised if the IG can find many foot soldiers.

  14. DAVID COLBY

    Or just a reminder that not everyone is utterly obsessed by a single issue? That it’s possible to support in balance a party that you disagree with on that one issue.

    And even the LibDems aren’t a remain party as such, just one that would clearly wish remain to win the second vote to that it is party policy to hold. Your 2% would still be free to vote otherwise and still free to be on the majority side again.

  15. That last point, so far as we can tell as they have no formal platform, applies to TIG too of course. It appears not to support remain as a policy, but to support a referendum with a remain option.

    Which makes the VI question about a new party opposed to Brexit triply hypothetical. There’s no election, no new party, and at least to date they even bottle it on “opposed to Brexit”

  16. Response to AL URQA

    “And remember I am paying for your (state) pension. Not you.”

    What nonsense.

    If you knew how much tax i pay now and have payed since i retired you would know that I have paid, and am still paying for my pension and a lot of others.

    Gave me a laugh though, and no i don’t mind paying the level of tax i do as I think it quite fair, especially as I will get a nice tax cut in April along with most people.

  17. I have been considering for the last day or so that the slogan “politics is broken” may have some traction. Most politicians in most major parties have “learned their trade” in the era of two party politics. Since 2010 the reality appears to be that the old system is not in operation. However, politicians have not adapted to the new environment.
    Public VI appears to have been in a holding pattern (probably associated with the issue of the times; Brexit) where fear of the opposite party made holding your nose but sticking with your party appropriate. What may be interesting about the Sky Data poll (snapshot though it is, and I accept all Roger Mexico’s caveats) is that it possibly demonstrates a willingness for disillusioned Conservative voters to move (left or right) because of the perceived weakening of Labour.
    Unfortunately I do not think the IG’s are any different and are unable to break out of the pattern they are after all, each of them part of machine politics of the right of the Labour party and have simply found their tools no longer work on the current Labour engine, and hope to create a political engine more to their liking. They are not offering a new philosophy in place of the broken politics.
    What it does, possibly, demonstrate in my judgment, is that if a genuinely new movement arose with the “politics is broken” philosophy at its heart and a genuine alternative type of politics to offer that could take off. The danger is that in the current febrile atmosphere of the country that could be a new politics of a dangerous sort (again left or right).

  18. “We need all those skills in our society. There should be a place for everyone regardless of background ,education, or beliefs”.

    Jeremy Corbyn
    Manufacturing Conference
    Yesterday

    I wonder if he ever stops to consider the irony of his Broad Church mantra , as the Labour Party goes through the metamorphosis he has triggered?.
    Shedding the dry husk of Blairite Centre Left politics as the bright shiny imago of Socialism gradually emerges to shake its wings for flight.

    I don’t know if TM will need to find the right words to explain defections from her ranks to IG. But just now it is notable that the Broad Church Denomination hangs on in the Conservative Party whilst its doors are closing in the Labour Party.

  19. ToH

    ” I have paid, and am still paying for my pension and a lot of others.”

    The principle of the state pension is, that while they are based on NI contributions, our generation paid for the pensions of the previous one, who, in turn paid for the pensions of their predecessors.

    Neither of us now pay NI contributions, so we generously allow our children’s generation to pay for our pensions – and since we live much longer, we magnanimously place a greater burden on them than we had to carry.

  20. @SoCalLiberal

    I think you’re right about the leader and policy issues likely to be a large problem for the IG. At the moment, they’re only slightly more specific than a hypothetical party, so people can still think “I’m centrist – so they’ll support the policies I want” (whether the person thinking this is actually centrist or quite some way to one side)

    If they start having policies, well, specifics are never as attractive as an imaginary generality – just like the “alternative Tory leaders” poll found little support for May, but even less for any potential replacement … or the current Parliament can get a majority to agree on what it doesn’t want, but not what it does. And the Lib Dems are already taking up a lot of the “centrist pro-Europe” room, too, so they’ll need to find something distinctive to that in other areas.

    On the other hand, if they don’t start having policies, who exactly do they hope to attract as party members or voters? Sure, there’ll be no shortage of people willing to *stand* as MPs for them – but to campaign and raise money? As the Lib Dems found in 2015, “we’ll mitigate the others” is something people might appreciate in an abstract sense, but seems unlikely to attract direct votes.

    Media hype can probably spin them up quite a bit in the short term, but in the long term won’t be sustainable.

    Presumably they have a plan to get through all this, of course.

    On the polling, I think it would be interesting to see how well they do in an unprompted poll where they’re not on the first page. Do people want to vote for them if not specifically prompted? Or does no-one without a high interest in politics already care?

  21. Worth noting that TIG MPs will not be eligible for Parliamentary “short money” to cover research/expenses etc.

    House of Commons has confirmed that short money is not available “to a new political party, if it was established in the middle of parliament”

    They will, therefore, be reliant on donations. Until they become a party, any donation received (regardless of size) does not have to be declared to the Electoral Commission.

    Might be a very good investment by one or more foreign governments to chuck in a few million, while things can be kept secret.

  22. Peston & Kuessenberg both suggesting that rumours of 4? Tory MP defections to TIG today are correct.

  23. TIG expected to announce three Tory splitters just after midday. This means they could walk across the floor of the Commons from Tory benches at #P-M-Qs for maximum impact (Talk Radio)

    I might even watch the show!

  24. I’d be interested in seeing what the YouGov’s MRP model has to say on the ability of the ‘independent group’ to keep their seats at the next GE or in byelections (although they have, scandalously in my view, ruled the latter out). Do they suffer from overly diffuse support, or are there actual constituencies which will return them as MPs?

  25. @ Old Nat

    “I might even watch the show!”

    Sounds highly entertaining.

    Though they should get some credit for standing up for what’s right at the risk of their own careers. It benefits your party’s goals.

    I wonder how you all would do with a top two electoral system. I once tried explaining this system to a Northern Englishman. He was a very intelligent and educated man but he could not fathom a general election where he’d have a choice between two Labour Party candidates.

    Ironically, I think you would have gotten MPs like Chris Leslie but you wouldn’t see him as an MP now.

  26. OLDNAT

    Whilst what you say is technically correct, as I well understood, in practice I suspect you take my point.

    Off to the allotment, much to do now as the mild weather means the weeds are growing abundantly.

  27. Stadius

    I remember Dick Taverne leaving Labour in the early 1970s and fighting a by-election that he won. If my memory is correct he also won in the first GE in 1974 but lost in the second one.

    Did the Gang of Four -Jenkins & co fight in bye elections?

  28. PETERW
    of course, although I’m struggling to come up with a UKIP non-Brexit policy that would tempt a remainer to vote for them.

  29. @ CIM

    “I think you’re right about the leader and policy issues likely to be a large problem for the IG. At the moment, they’re only slightly more specific than a hypothetical party, so people can still think “I’m centrist – so they’ll support the policies I want” (whether the person thinking this is actually centrist or quite some way to one side)”

    I say bring back Jeremy Thorpe! This is the job for him.

    (Well except it’s 40 years too late and he’s dead…..).

    “If they start having policies, well, specifics are never as attractive as an imaginary generality – just like the “alternative Tory leaders” poll found little support for May, but even less for any potential replacement … or the current Parliament can get a majority to agree on what it doesn’t want, but not what it does. And the Lib Dems are already taking up a lot of the “centrist pro-Europe” room, too, so they’ll need to find something distinctive to that in other areas.”

    I think they have to team up with the Lib Dems in order for this to work. At some point anyway.

    I think that they can start with Brexit. And then they could maybe look at a few other broad strokes they agree on and go from there.

  30. There’s some faux indignation about the new Indies not calling bi-elections. Can anyone think of an MP in recent times who has actually done this? Not Douglas Carswell or Mark Reckless as I recall. Nor the various Tories who defected to New Labour…

    Precedent allows these MPs to remain till the next election, surely

  31. SoCalLiberal

    Good to see you posting here again.

    “I think they have to team up with the Lib Dems in order for this to work. At some point anyway.”

    In general “centrists” (regardless of where the political centre is in a particular polity) are quite happy with any of –

    1. a 2 party system where the centrists control both, so it doesn’t greatly matter which lot of career politicians are in power, as long as they swop over on a regular basis.

    2. a largely 2 party system in which there is a centrist 3rd party which, if their no clear choice made by the electorate, it can join the largest one, and boost the centrist side of that party.

    They hate systems where the more radical elements in the dominant parties gain control. Then, their aim is to try to construct a new centrist party which can replace one of the main parties.

    The inertia created by FPTP makes it very hard to replace an existing party.

    When Labour replaced the Liberals, it was greatly aided by an expansion in the electorate.

    When the SNP became significantly the largest party in Scotland, that came about via PR.

    “If you don’t like the election result – change the electorate!”

  32. It was a matter of days ago that we were assured by the UKPR experts that tariffs on food imports and a no deal Brexit would represent great opportunities for the UK farming industry. The NFU conference this week sees things slightly differently – but who needs them, eh?

    I was told I was being over dramatic forecasting a crash in the sheep sector, for one thing, but now the NFU are calling for payments for farmers from March 29th to prevent a mass cull of the national flock.

    Apart from the impact on tariffs, it is going to take 6 months to get the necessary permissions in place once we become a third country before the UK can export to the EU.

    “Nick von Westenholz, the director of EU and international trade at the NFU, said sheep farmers were particularly vulnerable because they rely heavily on exports to the EU that could be halted for months if the UK crashes out of the bloc on 29 March.

    “The negative impact on the sheep sector will be felt within weeks because of the time [of year],” he said.”

    Without payments – which the taxpayer will have to fund out of the fabled ‘Brexit Bonus’ – it’s going to be like foot and mouth all over again, but this time in every part of the lamb rearing sector.

  33. @ robertnewark

    Roy Jenkins memorably won the Glasgow Hillhead by elelection and Shirley Williams at Crosby but were not sitting MPs. Only one of the Labour and Tory MPs who crossed the floor resigned and fought a by election and lost ( Bruce Douglas-Mann).

  34. Robert Newark “Did the Gang of Four -Jenkins & co fight in bye elections?”.

    Roy Jenkins had left British politics in 1976 to take up a post of President of the European Commission, before standing in Glasgow Hillhead (as Hireton says) and winning in 1982 and holding his seat in the 1983 GE. He was succeeded in 1987 by George Galloway.

  35. Sarah wollaston has resigned

  36. Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry have also quit

  37. Anna Soubry, Sarah Woolaston, and Heidi Allen have resigned from the Conservative Party to join TIG.

  38. Roger mexico,
    “Looking at the Sky tables, 26% said they would not vote – a ridiculously high figure for any poll[1],”

    Surely that would be realistic for an actual election? Isnt 74% a vey good turnout?

    Pollsters normally have far too few WNV in a sample. yes pollsters argue these people arent important if they dont actually vote, but they quite likely decided brexit by turning out for that issue. The more of them there are, the more important they become because of their potential to pile in and be decisive. We ought to be tacking movements of the WNV and DK parties.

    Soccalliberal,
    ” Corbyn hangs his hat on large gains in 2017 but it seems like it came in spite of him, not because of him.

    Thats not quite true. There were two, maybe three factors. Corbyn was the outsider, shunned by all other politicians on both sides, who got to be leader because the insiders lost control. Like trump. Voters liked him (maybe still do) because he is a maverick. It has been credibly argued that many voted for Brexit as an anti establishment vote. Corbyn too.

    Corbyn was of the left. His manifesto promises were leftish, but entirely acceptable to most conservatives (as has been polled, if conservative voters were asked without knowing which party they came from, they liked them). Some voters are hungry for left policies after decades of the right dominating (including labour/Blair)

    The manifesto position was ambivalent on Brexit. On the one hand they endorsed the result, but on the other promised not to accept a bad deal. The only way to turn down a bad leaving deal is not to leave, and they became by default the remain party. 3/4 or so of their voters are remainers. What is less clear is to what extent this was a deciding issue.

    I suspect that there has been massive churn on lab and con voters switching sides because of Brexit. The published figures do not track individual voters, so I have no data to be certain, but this is perfectly credible. So maybe they do have 30% each of supporters, but maybe only half are tribally committed. Something like brexit serves to break up that tribalism, and nothing is encouraging it.

    Some like Jim Jam have argued brexit is not important and labour can take a leave position safely. I dont agree, but its true it is only the key issue to a certain proportion. Polling reported here has said labour does worse if it commits to remain (rather than failing to commit), but worse still if it commits to leave.

  39. Three “Tories” leaving the party.
    Allen,Soubry and Woolaston.
    Just like the Magnificent Seven, they are no loss.
    Arch remainers, one and all.
    Let them sit with the Labour arch remainers whose only policy is to subvert the will of the people.

  40. Carswell and Reckless did stand in by-elections.

  41. So the 3 MP’s leaving the Tories make May more at risk in confidence votes and also makes it more likely that an ERG type would win the leadership contest resulting in more resignations from the party

  42. “Let them sit with the Labour arch remainers whose only policy is to subvert the will of the people.”

    Only problem with this idea is that ‘the people’ now want to remain.

  43. @PatrickBrian It’s surely quite a reasonable expectation that a constituency that voted in an MP of a certain party (bearing in mind that most voters go for parties, not individuals) should be able to have a say if that MP jumps ships. Carswell did in fact fight a byelection, and won, when he went from CON to UKIP.

  44. So that’s the government C&S majority – including the DUP, excluding Speaker + Sinn Fein – down to 3, I think? No practical difference, I guess, since the ones who left weren’t going to back the government on Brexit anyway, and they still have just enough to pass the confidence votes.

    Though of course at least some of the IG – having decided not to trigger by-elections – might well back the government in a confidence vote just to avoid having an election dropped on them before they’ve had chance to organise for it.

    Still, it’ll be interesting to see the next few polls.

    Allen: South Cambridgeshire, safe Conservative
    Wollaston: Totnes, safe Conservative
    Soubry: Broxtowe, Con-Lab marginal

  45. colin,
    “Shedding the dry husk of Blairite Centre Left politics”

    or would that be the bare husk of blairite centre right policies?

  46. “Polling reported here has said labour does worse if it commits to remain (rather than failing to commit), but worse still if it commits to leave.”

    While this has always rung true for me, it is predicated on a general election before Brexit. Even with all current events that’s unlikely.

    So the polling evidence doesn’t really inform what labour should do now to position itself for a post Brexit election.

    The key to any post Brexit effect will include not just what happens but who gets the blame. A perceived Labour led remain might still be worse for them than a perceived Tory led Brexit. Fence sitting might still pay. Truth is we really can’t tell.

  47. I’d be surprised to see any SLab MPs/MSPs defecting immediately.

    But elections for the Scottish Executive Committee are ongoing (voting ends 1 March : results announced 4 March).

    Should the Corbyn/Leonard slate dominate, it might be hard for the likes of Ian Murray and Kez Dugdale to stay SLab.

  48. I should say by post-Brexit I mean post-outcome, whether WA, no WA or no Brexit.

  49. Re by-elections, if Labour want to call for the magnificent seven to stand down to fight by-elections they need to do the same for Jared O’Mara in Sheffield Hallam.

    But of course an exiting centrist pro-EU party would win that by-election, so they will not do that

  50. If two further Conservative MPs left (unlikely but just possible) then that would mean that The Conservative-DUP C & S arrangement would not command a parliamentary majority.

    Does that have to be tested in a confidence vote to have constitutional significance?

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