After almost a fortnight without any voting intention polls there is a new poll from YouGov in the Sunday Times. The topline voting intention figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll back in January, are CON 41%(nc), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 16%(nc). The poll was conducted between the 14th and 15th of February and clearly shows no significant change in party support over the past two weeks.

The Sunday Times often commission questions on a wide grab bag of issues, so I expect I’ll be posting again tomorrow on other bits and bobs in the poll, but the Sunday Times are highlighting the economic questions. They found David Cameron and George Osborne have a 6 point lead over Labour on who people would most trust to run the economy. There’s a lot of different ways of asking which party people trust most on the economy, and no doubt they produce different figures, but I think this is the largest lead the Conservatives have managed to pull out in one of them under David Cameron. Answers to economic optimism questions remained grim – 50% expected their household finances to get worse in the next, with only 12% expecting them to get better.

44% of respondents wanted to see Alistair Darling removed as Chancellor, with only 27% thinking he should stay in the job. Those answers will probably be largely partisan – but with only 27% backing him I expect even a fair proportion of Labour supporters want him out.

The Sunday Times normally put the full tables of their YouGov polls up on their website, so check there later for more details.

63 Responses to “Parties steady in latest YouGov poll”

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  1. Labout holding steady at their core. Tories holding steady around 40%. The stage is set then, for the local election campaign and to see whether a few weeks in the lightlight and presumably a few Tory policy announcements will be enough toi get them to around 43% on May 1st. That will be the thing to look for during this years local elections, not so much seats changing hands, but the vote share. If the Conservatives do manage to pull up to 43% in a national election, I expect mass Labour panic to set in, even though they will probably improve their vote share and maybe even increase their seat numbers, compared to what Tony Blair did at the same elections in 2004.

    Terrible news for Labour as well, that Cameron and Osborne are increasing their lead over Brown and Darling on economic matters….. I can see Brown putting his Balls into Number 11 before long….

  2. Labour dropping slowly but surely as predicted – they have’nt reached their core vote yet of around 27% – that should be reached during the May elections . As for the Tories – holding nice and steady – should’nt be long before the lead is in double figures again as we see the Liberal vote drop consistently below the 17% mark and eventually to a steady 15% in the POLLS to the benefit of the Tories.

    My biggest worry as i have pointed out previously is the more consistent the bad POLLING for Labour – the more knee jerk legislation will be brought in before they are ousted from power within 2 years !!

  3. GIN- your right that a good poll rating for the CON’s would be around 43-45% this would have labour running for the hills, at this rate the local elections will be very close to the mark you stated 43% labour may fall a few points but, a good night for labour would mean winning in London anything worse than a 6-8% drop in the capital would signal a major change and if other results do go dave’s way in say the north 40% of votes cast would be good hear, he could then say, we are the change the country needs if he dose not hit this mark then it will be a little early to say that. labour do seem to be down 1pt but the areas in which the polls were taken may explain this, the best hope of a labour gain is Sheffield council, but by all acounts both the main parites are doing badly at a local level, but however most of this is in areas were the smaller parites have picked up much of the vote againest the national trend. but most of all the poll shows a long lasting trend of damage to Brown/darlings hopes of restoreing conferdents in the economy or them to run it.

  4. Anyone concerned about the British Government agreeing to UDI (unilateral declaration of independence)for the Serbian province of Kosovo – have’nt we already learned from Iraq by going against United Nations mandates to make the Americans happy ?

    This too may come back to haunt this government in the POLLS and elections if the Russians get involved .

  5. What will make this years local elections most interesting will be the fact that the seats were last contested in 2004. That was at the absolute height of Tony Blair and Labour being punished for the Iraq war. So, what I suspect may happen is that Labour will increase its vote share and seat numbers compared to 2004 (mainly at the expense of the Lib-Dems) whilst at the same time the Tories will probably not increase their seat share by much (Because Michael Howard did pretty well in 2004 anyway) but the Conservative % should be up on what Howard achieved.

    Then we have the Mayoral election as well. It should be a fascinating night.

  6. Weighted Moving Average 40:32:17 and the retrospectives suggest that the ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll at the end of Jan under-estimated the C lead by 2.8 points.

    As for the Brown/Darling rating on Economic Competence – it’s becoming blindingly obvious that the wheels are coming off.

  7. It seems there is something of a status quo in the polls at the moment and I feel it will remain that way barring major policy announcements or more banana skins.

    One thing that may affect sentiment before the Local Election campaign is the Budget in a months time.

    Darling really needs to increase taxes or cut public spending and both would be deeply unpopular with sections of the electorate.
    If he does neither then Government borrowing will continue to shoot up. He basically has no room for maneouvre.
    Any sort of a fudge will provoke very poor press coverage and will hurt Labour further in the polls. The Government’s “Golden Rule” is already in tatters because of Northern Rock which now has to be included in Government debt.

  8. Taking the average of all the polls by Yougov since the beginning of December with those of all the other pollsters the overestimate of the Conservative % remains at just over 3% indicating a Conservative lead over Labour at the moment of around 6% . The highest Conservative figures in December and January were both in Yougov polls and I expect this will also be the case this month .
    Re this May’s locals , the seats being contested this year have little upside for the Conservatives who are likely to lose overall control of 5 or 6 councils , I doubt whether Labour will gain overall control of Sheffield , with the seats up this year the most likely outcome is still no overall control but with LibDems the largest party and Greens holding the balance .

  9. After a quick review of this mornings press, one can only assume that nEU-Labour are worried enough to resort to knee-jerk responses. Danger lies ahead.

    In an attempt to secure their core-vote there are announcements on Sharia-bonds and the proposal of more power to the Scottish government. This is heavily promoted by a certain national [sic] news organisation.

    And what for the rest of us…? Like Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, Rusty & Co. are setting us up for a .

    In summary: Good-poll overall, bad news for democracy over the next two years…! :(

  10. Re the upcoming Local Elections.

    The Tories are starting from a very high base as they did well and, broadly, beat Labour at the 2004 Local Elections so I don’t expect there to be much in the way of Tory gains as far as councils are concerned.

    What DC and the Tories will be looking for is the % share of National vote to be similar or better than the polls are showing. Of course if any big name Councils come their way they ‘ll gladly accept them.

  11. Mark: The differences in these polls since Dec are not statistically significant. It is true that the YouGov polls on average seem to have overstated the C Lead by 1.3 and the others on average have understated it by 1.2. But the standard deviations are 2.3 and 2.8 respectively so these differences are not significant. There are only 18 polls in total.

    You’re not completely wrong, because the C lead at the moment seems to be about 7.2 on a WMA basis (the “exact” WMA figures are 39.5:32.3) but your methodology is, and there is no evidence of a systematic bias in the YouGov numbers. In fact YouGov, ICM and Populus all have mean errors of 0.1: YouGov’s Std is slightly lower (2.1) than the others (2.8 and 2.4)

  12. “The Tories are starting from a very high base as they did well and, broadly, beat Labour at the 2004 Local Elections so I don’t expect there to be much in the way of Tory gains as far as councils are concerned.”

    I remember people saying that before the 2006 local elections and then they gained 900 seats. LOL.

  13. It is quite possible that the Conservatives will not gain overall control of any councils this year , their best chances are Barrow where there are full council elections on new boundaries and Bury where they need 3 gains . 2 gains in Bury seems to be the best they can expect but the new boundaries in Barrow are favourable so they should emerge with a small overall majority .

  14. Mr Beale , you only have to look at the raw data for the Yougov polls to see there is a systematic bias in their sampling . As I have pointed out before , their sample base has a much higher intention to vote than the other pollsters show and that of the population as a whole and these extra voters are more likely to vote Conservative . It may be that if turnout at the next election was to reach 79% then the Yougov polls may prove to be accurate but with turnout likely to be again in the low to mid 60’s it does not need any deep statistics to say they will be proved to be wrong .

  15. I agree with Mark Senior that there will be very few seats for the Tories to gain this year. % of the national share will be what its all about this year. 43% is the golden number.

  16. The London election will be the important one this year.

    Metropolitan Borough election results have been virtually identical in 2004, 2006, and 2007, so probably expect no change there. But Labour will probably slip back slightly further in Districts and Unitaries.

  17. I think this is quite a good poll for the Tories because things have settled down a bit for the Government after being on the back foot for so long and GB and the government have been more on the offensive putting forward new policies which as I have said before tend to be more to the right than the Labour party would have dared to do or say in the past but I think people may see through all this tough talking and quite often mixed messages as a lot of things they seem to be trying to address and put right are because of failed policies that they previously introduced in the first place and trying to shut the gate after it has bolted i.e police red tape,youth crime & binge drinking,immigration controlls,benifit culture,etc,etc,
    I do expect labour to close the gap over the comming though if things stay settled for them and the press seem to have backed off and are not going after GB quite so much now

  18. Fluffy:-

    “In an attempt to secure their core-vote there are announcements on Sharia-bonds”

    I don’t think this initiative is targeted at UK voters( …are Sharia adherants Labour “core” voters ?!)

    This is to enable Brown to sell Treasury Bonds to
    rich arab UK, like the USA now has to rely on Sovereign Funds-many based in Muslim States-shoring up the public finances of their economies which were built on the sand of private sector credit booms & public sector spending sprees.

    If ever there was a signal that the centre of gravity in the global economy is moving from West to East this is it.

    A new era dawns towards the Rising Sun.

  19. The most interesting thing about the locals will be spotting the prejudices of the political correspondents if as predicted the Tories have run out of seats that they can possibly win.

    I hope Mark’s right about Bury if only to get a reprise of Caroline Flint’s ‘you may have won hundreds of extra seats but [tosses hair] but you didn’t win BURY’.

  20. Ralph , the big danger for the Conservatives is that this year Labour will make a small number of net gains , the Conservatives lose control of a few councils and be able to spin the results as the tide having turned whereas the vote shares are still abysmal for them .

  21. Mark,

    Where do you see these Labour gains coming from?

    I can see that Labour will win seats in certain places while they implode in others, as the Lib Dems did last year, but making net gains seems unlikely.

  22. For once I agree with Mark Senior – although I don’t think it’s a huge danger.
    I expect the Lib Dems to fall back against 2004 (just as they did in 2007 against Iraq 2003).
    Labour may take a slightly larger slice of those votes and secure a net swing of about 1%. But if the Tory vote is slightly above the 40-41 of 2007 (and well above the 38 of 2004) I don’t think we should have too much trouble demonstrating we have done well.
    But I quite accept if Labour has picked up against 2004 they will try to do a 1990 Ken Baker, but without any really high profile authorities to back it up, it may have less impact.

  23. Ralph , in the Met Districts overall Labour performed marginally better in 2006 and 2007 than in 2004 , there will neither be a great gain of seats nor a great loss just odd seats changing hands in all directions . Last year 90 seats changed hands but the net change was Con +4 Lab -1 LibDem +2 Others -5 . Probably the best estimate is to look at the trends in these councils from 2004 to 2007 , on these Conservatives will lose control of Coventry and gain a couple of seats in Bury but not enough for control .

  24. Well my English Local Government prediction is that when the results are in all three parties will be saying,

    “Under the circumstances these are remarkably good results for us and show that we are the party with momentum going forward”.

    You read it here first although you’ve probably read it after every election before.


  25. A little too soon to be predicting Local Election results – remember that in 2006 there was a big shift only two weeks before polling day when there were a series of bad headlines for Labour.

    Having said that, the more interesting battlegrounds come May will be:

    London Mayoralty – Ken or Boris – that will be a headline either way.

    Northern metropolitans – Labour gains at LD expense – or not ? Any Tory gains ?
    (Mainly in seats, not councils)

    Southern Districts – How many more become Labour free zones ?

  26. Given that it looks like almost every Scottish Council will be freezing it’s Council Tax this year, while English CT payers see 4%-6% rises in April at the start of the local election campaigns, I wonder hw much the CT and Scotland will become an issue in England.

    GB has just announced after another bad week for Labour in Scotland that he now favours looking at the Scottish Parliaments having greater tax raising powers ( only looking mind you not actually supporting).

    This could be a genuine change of heart, papering over cracks because they look a mess in Scotland, or GB looking to deflect criticism and hoping to be seen to address England’s concerns before may.

    I suspect it’s a bit of all three.


  27. I agree with Ralph and Mark’s point.

    The Tories have a high bar. Labour a low one.
    If the Tories lose seats, it will take relatively deep/unbiased reporting to extrapolate the real significance of any results.

    We will see if there is any chance of that happening.

    We are always waiting for the next poll, but I suppose this does mean the Tories escaped from Conway.

    I understood polling didn’t take place over half-term holidays?

  28. NR to be nationalised!

  29. “I understood polling didn’t take place over half-term holidays?”

    There was one held over the Christmas period, which was quite rightly dismissed by a lot of people as unrepresentative.

  30. any gains made in strong labour areas will be good news- my prediction is a melt down in some ways- in Lab-Con councils were only a few seats are needed to swing that council the Con’s should do very well but in Lab-LD areas it will be much harded to say what will happen as both parties are going through a bad time, but in my eyes CON +3 councils as a minimum LAB -1 and LD -5 NOC +2 and OTH +1 VOTE SHERE CON 45% +5 LAB 25% -1 LD 22% -4 and OTH 8% no change.

  31. I’ve just read on the BBC site that Northern Rock is to be nationalized. How do we think this will affect the next round of polls ?

  32. stuart , as I have said there are 5 or 6 councils that Conservatives are likely to lose Colchester , Coventry , Hyndburn and Swale are pretty certain losses and there are several others on a knife edge , I cannot see which councils Conservatives can take to give them a net plus 3 councils overall perhaps you can name them .

  33. Yes Andy.
    However they showed a different trend.
    This one seems to confirm an existing position.

    The ‘half term thing’ was a single comment I read from a blogger on Pb. My comment was not intended to pour scorn. I am genuinely not sure if it has any relevance.

    I SUSPECT it does not have the same effect as Xmas. Everyone is affected by Christmas, not only those with young children. It is a different type of holiday [ half term = less alcohol in my experience, or used in a different way!]
    Not everyone was on a break last week.
    For some it is next.

    But since we scrutinise every detail here…
    I suspect, if a poll produces surprising results we look for reasons.
    If it feels right, we generally don’t.
    I suspect that had the post Conway polls [which we were all surprised at] had been conducted at half term…..

  34. Before our Conservative-supporting brethren (and sisters) get too carried away by the latest YouGov poll, whichshows no change, let’s just reflect that it also shows absolutely no sign of a great Tory surge or a huge revulsion against the Labour party. At the present, we are not looking at a big and inevitable landslide ahead, as in 1996.

    Despite the endless drip of economic gloom and doom comment in the media – much of it “worst-case scenarios” to make our flesh creep, rather than real predictions – the likely prospects for the UK economy are hardly catastrophic. We NEED a slowdown in the increase in house prices – to get them back into line with earnings, and to give some hope for first-time buyers. In a sane world the predicted flattening, or even aslight drop, would be greeted with relief.

    On all other fronts there is little sign of a major recession – maybe no recession at all, but a slow-down in the increase, plus some much needed rebalancing of the economy. And if even half the scare stories look daft in a year’s time, the government could well be given the credit for weathering an international storm, most of which was not of their making.

    Perhaps our Tory supporters should read Andrew Rawnsley’s article in today’s Observer. Yes, the Conservatives have been doing well under Cameron (as an opposition, anyway) – but there is still little sign that they are doing well enough to achieve a really significant turn-around at the next general election.

  35. JohnH,

    Don’t read The Observer, and my “The Economist” has not been delivered yet. Sounds like the article you refer to has been lifted from another source (as one has seen – though not read – a similar article on TE website). [They also has an article – which one read – about defence underfunding. Well done Sunday Times!]

    As for slowing down house prices, who let them spin out of control? [Clue: the word spin.] One is also surprised you have not mentioned the Northern Rock fiasco, especially as Rusty and The Patsy are poorly accredited in the discussed poll for their much lauded economic miracle [sic]…!

    Then, maybe not…. :)

  36. “At the present, we are not looking at a big and inevitable landslide ahead, as in 1996.”

    I think everyone knows that John. But no party needs to be as far ahead in the polls as Labour were then to ensure a narrow victory at a general election. Indeed, polls held throughout 1978 looked decidedly shaky for the Conservatives, and yet they won the general election the following year.
    It is impossible to say what is around the corner.

  37. Andy D
    “It is impossible to say what is around the corner.”

    Exactly my point! Anything could happen before the poll that really matters, the next General Election. On present showing it will be a tight outcome whichever party wins, and no walkover for Cameron.

    As for house prices, they’ve been rising too fast for our own good for decades – except during one of the genuine Tory recessions!

  38. GIN and others have a point about this being the return of the locals last fought in 2004. What will be interesting is how much those elections saw anti-Iraq/Blair voters switch to the Lib Dems, Greens, BNP and others, and how many this time around will return or not vote at all. In either case this could result in Labour regaining some seats where the Tories are not the main challengers.

    Of course this might be offset by the Tories winning seats from Labour elsewhere off the back of much higher poll ratings, but as has been pointed out they have probably won most of those they could win already. A resurgent Tory Party under Cameron may motivate the Labour core vote to a greater extent than a going-nowhere Michael Howard did in 2004. The key will be Tories winning seats and councils in historically (ie pre-1994) Labour areas.

  39. KTL-an interesting question.

    Trying to be as even handed as possible, I find it hard to believe that Labour will be unscathed by it.
    Subject to the share price offered, there is the distinct prospect of the major shareholders going to court.It will certainly dominate the news until it’s “temporary” nationalisation ceases, and every feature of it’s re-organisation -particularly job-losses- will be in the news.

    JohnH-Mervyn King made a speech a few days ago which was very interesting.He clearly stated that whatever happens to house prices , and however short term the inflation spike is, some prices have probably step changed -eg energy & food. Therefore whilst the annual inflation rate may come back to target, standard of living will fall for many people.

    As in the case of Northern Rock, it remains to be seen who the public blame for this-Oil Sheiks & Chinese Industrialists?-or Gordon & Alistair?

  40. Or greedy American mortgage brokers and complicit capitalist machinery.

  41. It is worth remembering that it is very possible for an incumbent party to lose a general election even when there ISN’T a recession.
    I can think of the 1997 general election in the UK and the 2000 US presidential election as classic examples.

  42. JohnH
    I read Mr Rawnsley’s article this am. and found it interesting.
    However, it would draw a distinction between ‘should’ be doing better and ‘need’ to do better.
    I am sure a regular to this site you will have heard the commentary doubting pre-1997 polls [all those massive point Labour leads???etc]. Polling methods have changed in response. The only thing we can be sure of is that they had a 12 point lead at the election.
    [Correct me if I am wrong Anthony]

    That was after – 18 years, recession, ERM, B.Wed ,sleaze/suspenders, cash for questions or was it cash for suspenders, poll tax riots, Tory splits,’John Major’s bastards'[most of whom were probably wearing suspenders] etc….

    9 points now is quite reasonable.
    The electoral maths and the seat outcomes change the psychology.
    I suspect if the electoral maths worked the other way [ie a Tory maj when 6 points behind] we wouldn’t be reading such articles.

    We still talk of a Second Labour Landslide on the basis of about a 5 point lead?
    I believe Major actually polled a greater popular vote in 1992 than Blair in 1997 [or is that a myth?].

    As for ‘Tory recessions’… I think you will find they were world recessions, the end of which saw us better placed than our competitors. When GB took over at the Treasury, the officials were so effusive about the state of the books it is rumoured that GB said, ‘ What do you want me to do? Send them an f****** thankyou letter.’

    In the current circumstances, I would suggest
    1. it might be inadvisable for Govt supporters to deny the existance of the ‘world recession’.
    2. is unlikely Gordon will be in line for any thankyou letters.

  43. Sally , there is not as yet a world recession , there is a slowdown in the USA which may turn into a recession but large parts of the world still have substantial growth not a recession . Both Lamont and Lawson in recent TV programmes showed they both considered a recession as a legitimate part of government policy to right other problems . It is this attitude which in the end contributed to the Conservatives being so heavily defeated in 1997 despite the good state of the economy at that time .

  44. One point on the economy in 1997. Despite what he says now, Labour won largely because Brown promised that he would continue Tory economic policy, thus reassuring the electorate that we would not face the usual Labour
    meltdown as in the 1970s. To be fair, they have coped better than usual. It has taken 10 years to reach the point of a run on a bank – something which not even Sunny Jim managed.
    I also have a question. As there has been widespread voting corruption recently (remember the case when a judge said it would have disgraced a banana republic?), does anyone think that the UN should be called in to monitor the election? Apparently several US Senators and Congressmen asked for this at their last presidential election.

  45. Mark, my point is that this Govt claimed an end to boom and bust and in doing so rubbished the existance of the economic cycle and outside influences.
    They now wish to ‘reinvent’ the narrative to explain any current difficulties.

    I have seen Lamont and Lawson interviewed and to suggest that recessions were somehow applied as necessary medicine is off the mark. They saw them as sometimes inevitable during which, the economy could rebalance; an evil out of which some good could come.
    Are you seriously suggesting they managed the economy in order to bring about a recession?

    Peter Banks.
    Your post made me smile.
    Seriously, I believe some Euro authority recently suggested our elections were not up to Eurpoean standards. The lack of postal voting security was a particular issue.

  46. The spin that can be put on local election results is always silly. I found the BBC’s endless going on that the Tories ‘still had no seats in Manchester!’ to be ridiculous and was endlessly repeated to spoil what were without doubt very strong results.

  47. Sally C – you are right that most polls pre-1997 aren’t really comparable. The exception though is ICM, who changed their methodology after 1992, and hence showed smaller Labour leads through the 1992-1997 parliament are were the most accurate at the 1997 election.

    While there have been some minor adjustments in their methods since then, you can pretty much compare their figures from 1993-1997 to their figures these days.

  48. oh dear Northern Rock has been nationalised. I fear that will be a costly mistake for the country. Perhaps in a couple of years when no buyer can be found it will impact on polls. With all the other mounting troubles.

  49. no chance of NR ever becomeing privotly owened again, unless they can find a buyer soon

    mark senior-

    time will tell weather the conservatives gain councils or not but as far as i can see with the present polling data putting the CON’s at 40% or higher it would be hard for labour not to lose seats and ground to the CON’s so at the mowment
    in metropolitan areas the conservatives should gain: BURY,NORTH TYNESIDE,SOLIHULL.labour should gain: OLDHAM & SHEFFIELD but lose: BARNSLEY and the lib dems are looking like loseing: ROCHDALE. in the unitry areas the conservatives should gain:THURROCK and labour should gain: SLOUGH but lose: HARTLEPOOL and READING, the lib dems on the other hand should gain: PORTSMOUTH & WARRINTON but lose: HULL, i’ve not been through the districts yet but a few gains hear or their i’d exspect.

  50. stuart , your forecasts are wild , Bury will see no more than 2 Conservative gains from Labour ( and 1 LibDem gain from Labour ) , North Tyneside is a possibility but again the conservatives are likely to be 1 seat short of overall control . The Conservatives have zero chance of taking control of Solihull , they may gain 1 seat from Labour but are defending in all the marginal wards with LibDems . Oldham is already in overall Labour control but the roll of the dice means they are defending in all the marginal seats this year ( 5 v LibDems and 2 Chadderton seats v Conservatives ) they are certain to lose overall control . Sheffield will be close but very likely remain in NOC . Rochdale may go to NOC but LibDems loss of 2 seats to Labour should be balanced by gaining Bamford and Norden from Conservatives .
    Thurrock is much more likely to go to Labour overall control than Conservatives who will do well to restrict their losses to West Thurrock .
    Hull is not likely to be lost by LibDems , they are only defending 1 marginal seat this year and could gain 2 from Labour and 1 from HIG .

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