A new Populus poll for the Times has topline voting intentions of CON 38%(+2), LAB 40%(+1), LDEM 12%(-3). The poll was conducted between Friday and Sunday, and the vast majority of the fieldwork was conducted before Gordon Brown announced there would not be an early election, so unfortunately it doesn’t shed any light on how people have reacted to the non-election.

Labour are just ahead in this poll, but like YouGov’s at the weekend it shows both the main parties up in the high 30s and low 40s, with the Lib Dems way down. We’ve come to expect lower levels of Liberal Democrat support in YouGov polls, figures this low in one of the phone pollsters are something new.

There is also a shift in the overwhelming advantage Labour had on economic competence in a crisis last month – at the height of the Northern Rock crisis 56% of people said they would trust Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling rather than David Cameron and George Osborne come economic troubles, against only 18% the other way round. The figures have now shifted to 43% preferring Brown/Darling and 28% prefering Cameron/Osborne. Still a big gap, but it’s also a big shift. For the really interesting figures though we’ll have to wait for some polls conducted after the non-election announcement.

135 Responses to “October Populus poll”

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  1. I don’t know if the reaction to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement from those of my friends who usually support Labour is at all typical. Indeed I am sure GaryG will swiftly tell me that they are most assuredly an unrepresentative lot and that everyone down at his local Labour club is positively ecstatic that the government has decided to raise the threshold of the IHT tax for married couples. However I would sum up the reaction of my left of centre pals as being a mixture of amusement, irritation and exasperation not necessarily in that order.The Chancellor may well have shot the Tories fox but has the ricochet inflicted wounds on his own side?

  2. Jack –
    I’m with you on the emotionality issue, and it’snot nice to rob the dead, even if robbing a dead rich person might be more attractive than robbing a dead medium wealthy one!

  3. I find the media issue a fascinating one, I doubt the breakdown of support for Guardian/Telegraph readers will move to much for the major parties. Though the Sun really has the ability to be the difference between a small majority on either side. and Murdoch’s backing is very signifcant.

    From the BBC website.

    “Despite its predominantly frivolous content, the Sun also acquired significant political influence, thanks to its penetration of the all-important C2 voters (the skilled working class).

    It took political reporting and comment seriously, and at the General Election of 1979, it helped Margaret Thatcher sweep the Conservatives to power.

    The Sun hadn’t always been Conservative. It proclaimed no allegiance, preferring to describe itself simply as ‘radical’.

    In the 1970 election it had supported the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

    When he lost unexpectedly, it switched its support to his Tory successor Ted Heath, later losing faith with both sides.

    But in Mrs Thatcher it found a true radical, backing her to the hilt as she vowed to take on the trade unions.

    It was Larry Lamb who came up with the headline ‘Winter of Discontent’ to sum up the strikes that dogged the Labour Government and on polling day in 1979 the Sun came out firmly for the Tories.

    Lamb was rewarded with a knighthood in the New Year Honours List.

    In the Thatcherite 80s, the paper struck a harsher, more belligerent note.

    In the 1992 election campaign, the Sun ruthlessly ridiculed the Labour leader Neil Kinnock and McKenzie later claimed it was the “the Sun wot won it” for John Major.

    During the Falklands War the paper backed Thatcher

    Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell decided that if Labour were ever to win, they must at least neutralise the paper. They succeeded beyond their hopes, winning its backing both in 1997 leading to a landslide victory and again in 2001.

    It backed Blair on Iraq but remains fervently anti-Europe, and can’t bring itself to love the new Tory leadership yet”.

  4. for Nick Keene

    I suspect ricocheted wounds heal quickly. A week is a long time in politics to restate a cliche. Another truism; ‘a storm in a tea-cup’. We may all enjoy elections because we are a sad group of people but in two weeks this will certainly be irrelevant in the street.

  5. I think the damage to Brown could well be terminal. He was supposed to be strong, masterly, invincible, his enemies cringed before him. Now ministers are publicly criticising him and Blairites are openly rejoicing, and all the press except the Mirror has turned on him. What’s actually needed now is forgiveness and humility on all sides. But I’m not holding my breath…

  6. One thing to remember is that Basildon in 1992 was not typical of what happened in the marginals in that election. The average swing in the marginals was 4% (which is why John Major almost lost his majority), but the swing in Basildon was only 1%.

    Another point is regarding the low figure of public spending of 33% in London & SE: I wonder how much of this low figure is down to having so many American owned and other foreign owned businesses / banks in the City of London and Canary Wharf?

  7. Anthony – This is the first time I have ever posted on here but obviously it is ok to say “Another great result from the Tories in this latest POLL” or “Wonder whether yet another flagrant grab of Tory policy will have an impact on the polls?” isn’t too partisan whilst asking why David Cameron,who said he would never go down the Punch and Judy style of PMQ’s in the commons,then went child like and personal.

    “Get in your car,get the palace and call an election”.Yes this may impress some people in a playground but to me this type of comment by someone who wants to be PM drags politics further in to the gutter.,,,,and I was edited for posting this????

  8. Nick Keene, I would not be seen dead at my local Labour party club, if there is one, or any other parties club. How did you guess that I was a Labour supporter? ;-)
    Inheritance tax is not something I think about much, I know it always comes top or near the top of hated taxes. I always think that as long as everyone pays the same taxes (a bit more tax if you have a bit more money) then the system is ok, both parties raise and lower taxes (yes the Tories too, VAT, council tax and the fuel escalator were their inventions).
    But how will the recent changes play out there in poll land? We won’t know until we get the next poll, which we are all waiting for with bated breath!
    I think the Tory boost will have gone by the next poll, I am assuming that all the talk about Labour shooting the Tory foxes will play out well or be neutral for Labour. The Libdems I think will get back some of their voters from the Tories, not because of anything the LibDems have done but just because of the end of the conference season and people drifting back to their ‘old’ parties.

  9. Anthony, as a side issue, is there any chance of having a search engine on here? I understand Google do a good one for blogs. As another side issue I am never sure whether I should refer to you as Anthony or Anthony Wells when I post a question to you on here, it will just make me feel a lot more comfortable knowing which is correct.

  10. Gary,
    Poll out tonight on Sky News attirubted to The Sun giving Tories a 3% lead. C 41% L 38% LD 11%. What effect will this have on Ming?

  11. Gary, just heard the same on BBC News 24. Cons still 3 points ahead.

    Maybe more importantly they referred to personal approval ratings. I didn’t here the exact numbers but to the question “who would make the best PM” Brown, who had a lead of cameron of 41 points has had that slashed to 16 points.

    Tide turning? or extended temporary blip?

  12. I think it was an Ipsos-MORI poll but have not been able to track it down, the Sky news and Sun sites are not easy to navigate.

  13. Peter Franklin –
    The reference to the POLLS is sometimes used as a bit of a fig-leaf, I agree, but when I re-read a partisan post before submitting it, the simple process of adding that “proviso” I find does more than just softens the messsage. I find the interest is augmented by trying to make an intelligent observation while concealing your allegiance. I’m probably not the best at it,or at tolerating naked partisanship,but generally people get away with sailing close to the wind, and the rigour does help the debate. Please don’t go away!

  14. Adam 8, could be the tide turning but I am not convinced, need to see when the poll was taken (am assuming a phone poll taken over the last 2 days). during the bad press over the non election. But yes good news for the Tories, bad news for the LibDems and as I have said before, not bad news for Labour (yet) who are still in the high 30s, when they go down to 36 or less then I will be worried..

  15. Peter Franklin, I agree with John T, this site is one of the best around. I have tried to post on the Guido Fawkes site (a pro Tory blog), there you will find yourself insulted in the most nasty ways possible and then have your comments removed!
    We do all get partisan but in a very friendly way and we all have a common interest in learning about the latest polling and also about polling methods as well. And of course its always interesting to hear other commentators interpretation of the latest poll.

  16. Yes-Sky just reported Ipsos-MORI as 41/38/11

    The last by them was 28th Sept at 34/41/16-

    so movement is Con +7 Lab -3 LD -5

    Again have to acknowledge Labour vote holding up quite well.

  17. Put into Electoral Calculus this gives Lab majority 18….and LDs with total loss of seats!!

    I can hardly believe these Lib Dem figures recently ?

  18. The swingcalculator gives Labour 316, Tories 295 and LibDems 18. We must take all polls with a pinch of salt and Seat Calculators with a bigger pinch of salt.
    interesting point from the Electoral Calculus site; at the last election the estimates entered by site visitors was averaged out, the result, the average thus calulated was closer to the real election result than the last pre election polls taken by the pollsters!

  19. Yours was borderline in hindsight – at least compared to some of the swivel-eyed rants about Gordon Brown that didn’t get through today. What I said above though, if it doesn’t get through, ponder why it might have come across as party-partisan even if you intended it not to be…eg.

    Partisan comment – “Do you not think it looked rather child-like and back to the immature politics at the ballot box he said he would never lower himself down to. I was actually expecting him to blow a gooseberry at one stage and say ‘come and have a go if you think your hard enough’. Not something a PM in waiting should be saying,it was quite rediculous.”

    Non-partisan – “There’s a potential that attacking Gordon Brown as being a phony might backfire on David Cameron, he made a big fuss about not doing Punch and Judy politics and now the TV clips are of him doing just that. It might end up damaging him more than Brown”

    Don’t make the point from a partisan viewpoint, and certainly don’t do it in a way that invites respones from a partisan direction. It IS perfectly valid to discuss whether or not being seen as mean-spirited and triumphal might backfire on David Cameron with the public here, it is NOT the place to discuss whether or not David Cameron *is* being mean-spirited and triumphal or whether he actually is behaving in the way a PM should.

  20. Gary – the Google box was too long and buggered up my sidebar :), I’ll have another go at some point! (And just Anthony will do!)

  21. Anthony – Point has been taken.

  22. A third poll putting the Lib Dems on 11% would surely mean the end of Ming’s leadership, but they’ll probably wait until the beginning of January to get rid of him, like they did with Charlie Kennedy.

  23. I can’t quite believe the LibDem figure – it’s almost as though the debate has polarised so much around Cameron/Brown that they are simply suffering from a lack of attention. When they recover (if?), are they more likely to draw points from the Tories or Labour? Just in terms of the big polls, not the marginals, or their own “safer” seats. I suspect more LD supporters have gone to the tory lower-tax agenda (chimes with theirs) , and perhaps the “Blair’s gone” feeling has cooled as well. The Labour 38% looks consistent, but I’m actually looking forward to a return to normality – the “poll-commissioning budgets” must be running low surely?

  24. I dare say a few old labour defectors may have gone to the LD’s under Blair and have since returned. I also believe that while the polls may be indicative of where ones personal allegience/vote may lie, in an election their may be many that will not vote for their party of choice. That being a Con in Scotland, in a seat where they don’t have a hope of winning may vote for LD to prevent Labour, conversley a Lab supporter in a 2 way LD/Con seat fight will likely vote LD to stop the Cons. either way the LD’s pick up seats. Simon Hughes on Question ghis evening also made the point that when there is an election there polling rises as they are given a fair bit of media coverage, which to be fair is fairly bias towards Lab/Con. I wonder what % of media covergae is given to each of the parties?

    I would guess Lab 60 Con 37 LD 3

    which maybe another good reason.

  25. Anthony,

    another site-related question, if one of us spots an interesting poll somewhere, do we wait for you to post it up here or shall we mention it in the comments section of a previous poll where it might get a bit lost?

  26. Now it’s time for the no-spin bottom-line?

    1. Did Gordon Brown definitely say that he intended to call a general election or didn’t he?

    No spin answer: NO.

    2. Did Alastair Darlng increase the IHT threshold to £1m?

    No spin answer: NO (raising it to £1m is the Tory policy)

    3. Did Alastair Darlinng say that ALL non-domiciles would be subject to a flat tax of £25,000?

    No spin answer: NO (that is the Tory policy)

    4.. Did Alastair Darling propose a ‘flight tax’ on airlines?

    No spin answer: YES

    I have very personal [indeed, partisan] opinions on all four points but here is not the place.

  27. Dave, I do hope that means you’re a Lib Dem!

  28. Keith – post it here, in the most recent thread! (Though do make sure its a proper poll, no Sky news press the red button polls on newspaper phone ins or I shall mock you mercilessly to within an inch of your life ;) )

  29. I read a poll where 1000 near-to-death individuals were asked their thoughts on IHT.
    20% pro Labour
    20% pro Tory
    60% don’t know/no response
    1% Urgh (These were discounted as probable double-votes, from either side of the mortal divide.
    Bring it on, Anthony!

    ps , Sorry, I’m a little light-headed after a visit to Iain Dale’s site, but at least I posted it here, out of the way.

  30. John T,

    Me a Lib Dem? No

  31. Dave It’s obvious which side of the fence you sit, the way you expertly try and defend a position.

    Here is a reality check

    Did Gordon Brown allow election speculation to rise and rise in the hope the polling would allow him to go to the country.

    spin answer: NO. real answer yes.

    Would Gordon Brown have gone to the country
    if he new he could win a 100 seat majority.

    Spin answer No. real answer yes.

    Have promised to make announcements to the house first and then making a phony statement on troop withdrawels in Con party conference, was it deliberate?

    Spin Answer No. Real Answer Yes

    2. Did Alastair Darlng increase have any plans to say anything about IHT in the CSR until the Con announcement and the realisation their is votes in it.

    spin answer: Yes all along real answer No.

    3. Having said they would tax Non Doms in 1994 and then done nothing, was it all chance that after the Con proposal, Labour followed suit immediately.

    spin answer: NO of course not. Real answer Yes

    4. Did Alastair Darling propose a ‘flight tax’ on airlines?

    spin answer: YES real answer No

    Is Gordon Brown Vision to abandon Social democracy and just implement Popular Tory ideas.

    Spin answer No. real answer Yes

    I have very personal [indeed, partisan] opinions on all points. Here is an alternative perspective to your very Partisan comments. As Anthony warned if you are that Partisan, you will incite response.

  32. Anthony,

    Still no sign of the SNP poll on the YouGov polls section.

    I thought that as the SNP had released some of the results to the press, that under the guidelines, it would appear on the YouGov site.

    It may just be late, but I’d have thought it would be up by now.


  33. After several polls with LDs not even making the teens, the speculation about Ming’s future has started in the media – not just amongst we anoraks.

    However, my own (objecive) view is that their low rating is not in fact a reflection on Ming but a side effect of the current Lab/Con competitiveness. Historically, LDs have always picked up a few points during the campaign, generally more from Labour than Con. In 1997 and 2001 they also gained significantly from anti-tory tactical voting. Ironically, given that, their best ever result in 2005 (in terms of seats won) was driven by anti-labour swings due to Iraq, and they actually made net losses to Con.

    With Conservatives resurgent – even if not yet heading for overall majority, the LDs are very likely to lose many seats taken from Con in 1997 or since – possibly as many as 40. The real issue for the party however, is whether they can hold the seats they took off labour in 2005, let alone win more, if Labour share falls back to mid 30s.

    Changing the leader may give them some media coverage, but will not impact the underlying logic, so could actually rebound on them. There is also a potential hostage to fortune should they select Chris Huhne, since his seat is not exactly secure (maj

  34. Oops, lost a bit there..

    Huhne’s majority in Eastleigh is in 100s, so he is very vulnerable, and even the higher profile of leadership may not save him – especially as he would not be able to devote the time to his own seat which such a marginal needs – ask Chris Patten !

    It would be better for LDs to sit tight and hope for a recovery in polls by May, when they nomally do better in council elections than their Westminster poll ratings. If however they suffer serious losses in councils/seats, then it may be time to change down a generation since Ming will appear very old by 2010.

    On the other hand, dumping Ming in advance of the Council elections would smack of panic, and may not save enough councillors, leaving the new leader off to a bad start.

  35. The LibDems are not only being squeezed by the competition by the big two, but also ideologically.

    Firstly both Brown and Cameron have been cherry picking LibDem ideas, and secondly by pitching for each others core support both have been appealing to LibDems supporters even if they are not the primary target.

    Thus we have Brown Talking about constitutional reform while Cameron is opposing ID cards.

    None of this has been helped by the debates within the LibDems which over the last year has seen them turn away from a 50% higher tax band and increased tax thresholds, to help the lowest paid, to a 4% cut in the basic rate, which doesn’t help the lowest paid at all.

    While the LibDems did well for two parliaments portraying themselves as the party of principle they now seem to be opposed to those very principles.

    In trying to be different from Labour and the Tories I think they have actually come across as confused, sort of we stand for not being either of them and if they pinch our policies then we will change policy.


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