YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph has voting intention figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, of CON 32%(-1), LAB 41%(+1), LDEM 16%(+1). The changes from the last poll, conducted only four days previously, are insignificant, but it is the largest Labour share of the vote this Parliament and the largest Labour lead since the immediate aftermath of the last election.
If repeated at a general election then on a uniform swing it would result in the Conservatives losing a handful of seats, despite boundary changes in their favour. On the subject of a snap election, I remain convinced that Gordon Brown won’t go to the country this year, since the strong showing in the opinions polls can’t be sustained enough in the short time available before a decision needs to be made. However, there must come a point when the sheer size of his lead could outweight that. If he had a lead in double figures for a couple of weeks then even if it was soft and crumbled during an election campaign, he would have lots of space for it to crumble and still leave him with a majority.
Cameron’s figures are down sharply, possibly reflecting a negative public reaction to his trip to Rwanda which was in the media when the poll was being conducted between Monday and Wednesday. The proportion of people backing Cameron as the best PM has fallen 4 points to 19%, giving Brown a 18 point lead. The percentage of people thinking Cameron has been a good leader has dropped to 27%, wioth 43% thinking he hasn’t – this is almost a direct reversal of the result the last time YouGov asked this question back in February.
As I mentioned in the last post, there is still a sharp difference between positive opinions of Gordon Brown, who enjoys a net approval rating of plus 7 as Prime Minister, and negative opinions of the government, whose net approval rating is at minus 25. It’s been a lot lower (at some points in the last year it reached minus 43), but the difference is largely down to some point who had been giving negative answers switching to don’t know, in other words, giving the government a change. The obvious explanation is that Labour’s positive position in the polls at the moment is based on Gordon Brown, he hasn’t yet transferred that popularity onto the government or the Labour party.
Meanwhile there was a second YouGov poll carried out for Channel 4 earlier in the week that again asked voters to place party leaders and parties on a political spectrum, from far-left, fairly left-wing, slightly left of centre, centre, etc, etc and then uses it to place them on a numerical scale from left to right, with -100 being very right wing and +100 being very right wing.
Up to now the results of questions like this have been very stable, but for the first time perceptions of the Conservative party have started to shift – on average people placed them at +46 on the scale, the three previous times YouGov have asked this question the Conservatives were +52, +50 and +53. Cameron himself has also shifted towards the centre at +28, compared to +33, +35, +34 in previous polls.
Perceptions of Gordon Brown and the Labour party remain almost static since the questions were asked last month, with Labour at -22 and Brown at -25, compared to -22 and -26 last month. This means that Brown and Cameron are now seen as almost equidistant from the political centre, although their parties are not – the Conservatives are seen as to the right of Cameron, Labour are seen as more centrist than their leader).