A fortnight ago, shortly after the budget, YouGov produced a poll showing a startling 16 point Tory lead, which at first glance looked like an obvious rogue. A couple of days later though an ICM poll showed a 13 point lead, suggesting that the double-point Tory lead was genuine and the budget had somehow led to a dramatic shift in party support.

The question following that was whether there really had been a sea-change in public opinion, or whether it was just a very term reaction to negative economic news and we’d get back to more run of the mill voting intention figures in the next round of polls. Since then we’ve had the Easter holidays, which pretty much precluded any polling. In tomorrow’s Telegraph though we’ve got the first poll since Easter, YouGov’s monthly monitor, and it suggests the Conservatives are maintaining that election winning lead.

The topline voting intention figures, with changes from a fortnight ago, are CON 43%(nc), LAB 29%(+2), no sign of the Lib Dem figure yet on the Telegraph website. Labour are slightly higher than a fortnight ago, but the real significance is to confirm that the jump in the Tory lead was more than just a flash in the pan.

Full report tomorrow when I’ve seen the details of the poll.

36 Responses to “YouGov/Telegraph shows Tories 14 points ahead”

  1. what will be intresting is that on the back of a poll in scotland showing labour and the SNP level, what level of votes the conservatives are at higher than 18pts and its good news lower than 15 and its bad news LD vote should become clear soon.

  2. i did not say this is a very good lead for DC and the conservatives

  3. Anthony
    You beat Mike tonight :-)

  4. Other than the voting intentions, which are obviously terrible news for Labour, the most startling thing about this poll is that 80% believe inflation is running above the governments official estimate.
    In other words, the government has lost the public on the economy. I believe this is a fatal development for Labour and they will now go on to lose the coming election. Even if the economy recovers in time, I believe this loss of support will not be recoverable.

  5. LDs 17.

  6. Anthony, was the fieldwork done post-Easter? And idea when ComRes is due this month?


    This indicates a very serious sea-change has happened. Whether it will last is another question, but if it lasts until May then the results then can feed back into it and we could potentially even have 20+ leads (which I have a bet riding on). I don’t see how this is going to change suddenly between now and May 1.

    Looking ‘beneath the surface’ I think the changes in views on the economy are the most serious. Brown has ridden on the back of an inherited economy in good shape and global low inflation and has taken the glory for it, now the charge of having ‘failed to save for a rainy day’ is sticking and Brown’s singularly responsible for that.

    If Labour loses economic credibility, I simply don’t see them in with a chance at the next election. The polling figures here are of particular interest.

  7. Weighted Moving Average 41:30:18 this is the highest WMA C Lead since I have been doing the figures. It also allows us to calculate the “retrospective error” on the YouGov poll of 14 March which is 5.0 (as I predicted).

    I suspect that YouGov panellists are more web-oriented than the general public and therefore somewhat better informed and informed more rapidly. They are therefore somewhat quicker to notice that Brown and Darling have lost the plot economically.

    I also think it is a mistake for Brown to bluster in PMQ that Cameron “does not understand basic arithmetic” and fail to answer any of Cameron’s questions. This may go down well with his backbenchers and die-hard labour voters. But it is such an obvious falsehood and evasion that it makes him look desperate and out of touch.

  8. Yes – very bad for Labour, and worse with local election coming up. A pasting in these and it will magnify the dire position. Pyschologically this is very significant – up to now people have not seen DC as an out and out winner – once the message gets through that the Tories are miles ahead many voters tend to think that if ‘everyone else thinks he’s good then he must be’, further cementing the support, and the papers also tend to swing to the winner – sales are sometimes more important than politics.

    Interestingly however, this scale of lead startled everyone, including Tories on this blog. The budget was basically well recieved, so why the savage response. We should always be cautious of large swings, so perhaps this is still soft lead? There is still time for Brown, but its getting tougher by the day

  9. Last nights council election results in a safe Conservative seat in Northants and 2 safe Labour seats in Stevenage were consistent in 1 thing the Conservative vote was DOWN . IMHO what we are seeing is that the Labour government is unpopular but the opposition parties are not that popular either , there is no rush by voters to go out and vote Conservative when they have the opportunity .

  10. This is beginning to look like Step Change2.

    If the next ICM shows Cons over 40 again that will be corroboration.Will the 5 point difference in LDs share still be apparent-or will these begin to converge?

    Cameron must be pleased -the comparative Conference performances were Step Change1-the Budget/Economy looks like Step Change2

    Alec-who says the Budget was “well received”-& by whom?

    At last PMQs GB; in response to DC’s stuff about high taxes, said “we reduced basic rate income tax”. This appalling half truth, verging on deliberate deception, in the context of spiralling prices, shows Brown at his worst.

    The inflation debate is more & more serious , & the more GB goes on parroting “it’s 2%” , the more votes he loses.

    I really wish Cameron would ask-well if it’s 2% why do you permit Council Tax rises up to 5%?. Either that’s the real inflation figure or your CT policy is itself inflationery.

  11. Is there any historic cases of large mid term leads and how they pan out? Do they go on to become solid wins or are there cases of peaking too soon?

    My initial feeling is that while this is a fantastic story for the Tories numbers that turned around very quickly (particularly where there’s no obvious cause) can turn back very quickly.

    Plus with two years to go to the next election it’s hard to see any polls (particularly ones moving relatively rapidly with no obvious cause) as anything other than slightly soft.

    Regardless, unless he can take back the initiative soon Labour are facing a massive kicking come election time.

  12. Colin –

    Anthony did a post on 16th March detailing polls which showed the budget was broadly well received.

    The cutting of basic rate of income tax isn’t really a half-truth. The 10% band had been introduced by Brown. Of course, the real income tax take has shot up since 1997, because of increased growth, but I’d rather see “spin” countered with facts, rather than with “counter-spin”.

    Blaming Brown for the rise in food prices, and the really visible rises in the cost of living , seems to be working, as does the “tax and waste” line.

    The CPI figures are either useful or not, so why doesn’t Cameron come up with a reform of the methodology if he doesn’t believe them?

  13. Its the economy stupid

    People are worried so they blame the Government. The real unknown is what will the economic position be when an election is called. I think it will be interesting to see what the polls look like in May when people have had their post budget pay slips. Most do not believe that they will be better off as a result of the tax changes.

  14. I don’t think people will feel more positive when they see a few extra pounds in their pay at the end of this month. The mood is against the government, and I’d re-phrase that famous line at the moment – “it’s the perception of the economy, stupid”

    There are two dangers for Cameron if negative sentiment turns out to have been overblown, his credibility could go.

    The second danger lies in the comments section of Conservative websites, and the Telegraph’s to-day. Calls for the wholesale privatisation of education and the NHS will start to come loud and clear. The New Conservative Party’s discipline is about to be tested.

  15. john tt

    Thank you for reminding me of the Budget Poll.

    Your second para descends ( in a most uncharacteristic fashion ) into the disingenuous semantics employed by GB on the matter.

    I don’t blame the Government for food price rises.
    But I do blame them for Council Tax rises-which hit my budget significantly.The “waste” by this Government is manifest , gross & itself inflationary-who else should one blame ?

    It’s not a question of lack of belief in CPI. This is our version of HICP-a EuroStat friendly method of comparison.
    It’s a question of using an index which reflects household experience in UK-at present people do not believe that 2% (CPI) does.It’s just a red rag to a bull for GB to go on quoting it.Cameron doesn’t have to do anything about it.

    RE the economy & recession etc, Mervyn King had some very interesting observations during the week.He is still clearly concerned about moral hazzard & described the rise in the Financial Services sector as “a means to an end” , not an end in itself.He said that the underlying UK economy is sound, but that assets backed by destroyed house values/defaults are still very significant across the Financial Sector.

    This points clearly to continuation of a credit squeeze born of lack of liquidity as much as lack of confidence.As that impacts credit availability one can only see ahead a severe reduction in house values-knocking on to increasing mortgage & credit card defaults, as the wall of excess borrowing is shaken out of the UK economy.

    It is to be hoped that King is right about the economy, but I would feel more sanguine about that if it was built on a foreign trade surplus rather than frivolous domestic consumption.

    I think there is only more pain to come on the economy for GB-and for us all.

  16. john tt

    You have to define what you mean by “privatisation”. There is a perfectly credible alternative to the model whereby the State funds & manages. It is one in which the State may part fund & regulate without micro-managing.

    The Schools policy being put forward by Anthony Gove is one such, and mirrors a system in Sweden, which is not usually seen as a hot bed of THatcherism.

  17. Colin – I wasn’t suggesting you were blaming Brown for the rise in food prices, I was referring to Cameron blaming him for the rise in the cost of butter during PMQs.

    The state “part-funding” and regulating education and/or the NHS is a vote-loser unless it can be proven 100% that the services provided will be free at the point of delivery. Cameron promises “free at the point of need”. I can’t wait for him to define need.

    I think you’re right about the word “privatisation”. I can’t see a problem with privatising the delivery of services, but I do have a problem with privatising the funding of it. The high-cost, over managed, over-measured approach is (IMHO) a feature of civil service ideology, rather than Labour’s (so I blame the Sir Humphreys!)

    There are many respectable (and honest) City investors who are looking forward to commercial property prices falling far enough to make the sector attractive.

    In 1998 6.5% was regarded as a low interest rate and the RICS were expecting the resultant housing bubble to burst because rates were so low.

  18. Sorry, I don’t see what is disingenuous abut saying the BR of tax was 22% in 1997 and 20% now, especially as I even qualified it by referring to real fiscal drag.

  19. The matter of ‘privatisation’ depends on who the customer is – telephones, electricity, gas have all worked pretty well. Issuing contracts to deliver services has be a mixed bag – if ‘privatising’ the NHS means giving Richard Branson contracts to runs GP surgeries and health centres (or anyone else for that matter) it won’t work because the customer in the contract issuer (i.e. the government) not the user. If ‘privatising’ the NHS means revisting the GP fundholder idea we get closer to using choice and market behaviour as drivers of improvement rather than Brown’s (and past Tory government’s) central targeting. And the funding of Government investment has always been private – who do you think buys those gilts? It’s the off-balance sheet methods that are more expensive – Gordon, however, can’t afford to lift borrowing any further! These approaches – neutralised by Labour enthusiasm for them – are vote-losers becuase they are seen as big anonymous international capitalists ripping off us innocent taxpayers. ‘De-stating’ services at the local level is far less threatening – I refer you to the success of GP fund-holding. Similar approaches could be applied to other key services – this is the lesson from Sweden and Denmark.

  20. Cameron and Osborne should stop being so cocky and broadbrush about things in the House of Commons. I’m a Tory and want him to succeed, but feel sure this unnecessary rudeness towards ministers continues to be a factor which doesn’t re-assure a few per cent of wavering voters.
    Good polls though.

  21. It’s hard to criticize DC’s performance too much based on poll results like these.

    With 3 polls in a row showing results like these it seems there has been a definite change since the Budget.

    IMHO I just feel like the public have had enough and want a change because they are currently being hit hard in the pocket and there is so much gloom and doom on the horizon.

    The public don’t believe the inflation figures based on what they are seeing.

    And for all GB’s blustering about economic competence and “steady as she goes” we still have the highest interest rates in Europe, the largest amount of Government debt in Western Europe and probably the highest fuel prices in Europe.

    We are certainly ill prepared as a nation for any period of econmic stagnation or recession.

  22. I disagree with the repeated claim that the government is not responsible for the rise in food prices. Government policy is at the heart of all our fiscal problems-including the biggest deficits in peace time history and our falling exchange rate.Higher food (and other) prices directly follow – in other words, inflation is a secondary effect of government failure.Profligacy in the past is down to Brown as chancellor – it is time we stopped accepting his claims to have been a succesful chancellor- they are not, and never were, true.

  23. Just to give some clarity on last night’s by-election results: the Stevenage district seat (Pin Green) saw the Tory vote share rise by 3.32% (although it was very slightly down in the County seat fought in Stevenage). In Wellingborough the Tory vote dropped (from 77.5% to 59%) but this isn’t a surprise given the presence of Lib Dem, BNP, UKIP and Green candidates who had not fought the seat in May last year.

  24. Simon – good points re privatisation.

    The last thing I’d want to replace civil service oversight would be a profit-driven “rip-off” management that would be inevitable if private companies were formed to take over. I’d much rather trust the doctors to run it, and I’d rather trust teachers to run education than councillors or profit-orientated executives.

  25. I don’t think privatisation will be a big topic in the run up to a GE campaign because DC doesn’t want to make it an issue.

    However if the Tories were elected it is inevitable that they would look at ways of cutting
    the costs of central government spending. The Civil Service is already slimming down and it is the NHS that is the biggest monster in central Government spending now.

    There needs to be a public debate about the NHS in my opinion because without reform it will inevitably cost more money over time leading to higher taxation. If people are prepared to pay more taxation to pay for the NHS that’s fine but I
    haven’t seen any hard evidence to support this.
    Let’s face it some services previously part of the NHS are no longer free like orthodontics and dentistry and its inevitable that some other services will fall out of it over time.

  26. The Conservative vote share in Stevenage Pin Green was 6% lower than they got in 2004 a year before they lost the 2005 GE .

  27. Simon – absolutely right on privatisation.

    On top of this for something like the NHS you need to find out a way of setting very specific (contractual) targets so you can measure success/failure of third parties operating in specific areas.

    The issues with this are (a) the targets won’t be part of end to end patient care so are at best only peripherally related to the patient experience and interest, (b) the priorities frequently change faster than the contracts which contain the targets so you’ll frequently end up with 3rd parties working to old goals (changing the goals will involve renegotiating contracts – a more time consuming and expensive process than going “hey young there, stop doing that and do this”, and (c) that you can’t enshrine the real aims of the NHS which is what people care about(healthier people living longer receiving a higher standard of treatment free to the consumer) in a target that any commercial organisation will sign, so you end up with people working to the contractual target rather than towards what you’re actually trying to achieve (see the GPs contract).

    You can say that you just need to find the right targets but when you’re dealing with people whose goal is to make money rather than make people well, they will always find the loophole.

    Oh, and you have to manage the third parties, negotiate with them, they need to make profits which takes a massive bit out of any “efficiency saving”.

    And everyone sat in a commercial organisation look around you and see (a) how efficient are you really (remember you’re on a non-work realted website during work hours when answering this) and (b) how much of your “efficiency” is driven by doing “just enough” and think about when your wife/husband or loved one is patient do you want them doing just enough or everything in their power.

    KTL – you’re right that there needs to be a debate about the NHS but I don’t believe it’s about how services are funded.

    The reality is that whoever is in government there is going to be a point (which we may already have reached) where the cost of what medicine can achieve surpasses what people are willing to pay. My view is that we’re on the cusp of that and people have to decide whether they want a more comprehensive service or a cheaper service – both won’t be possible.

    NICE get beaten up for not acrediting drugs but they’re just trying to assess the cost effectiveness of them. People need to understand that either they put their hands in their pockets or that’s going to get worse.

  28. Sorry, instead of ranting about the NHS…

    Energy prices are on a downward curve for the next two years (forward market predictions show) and interest rates are going to drop (slightly) over the same period.

    These are things which will, between now and the next election, put money back in people’s pockets.

    If as people say (rightly in my view) people don’t care who is making them better/worse off, but credit the government in power, it may be that Labour aren’t doomed yet.

  29. this washed up govenment has now ran out of steam and is heading for defeat at the next election, more closely watched is the up coming local elections which should prove weather or not DC & his conservatives are on course to win. if the conservatives win London and gain big in hartland areas i think it should all be over but DC must not start shooting himself in the foot like all the past conservative leaders did, the best thing for labour to do is hope not to lose any councils in the north east or parts of nife edge seats based in some council areas of yorkshire or the north west this would be a big blow to labours chances in 2009/2010.

  30. The local elections are a typical way for voters to punish governments but a defeat, even relatively heavy defeat for Labour may not mean much.

    In 1991 the tories took a beating and lost 861 seats of the 10,000 being contested but a year later John Major won the general election. In 1995 they lost 2,000 (not sure how many were being contested) and went on to lose the 1997 election.

    In 2000 labour lost over 568 out of 3,400 seats being contested and got only 29% of the vote but went on to win the 2001 general election in a landslide.

    Then 2003 Iain Duncan Smith won 560 seats, labour lost 800-odd (including losing control of Coventry council which it had held for 25 years) and we all know how well the next general election went for the Tories.

    To be honest I’m not sure we’ll learn much at the local elections. The most interesting thing might be the turnout.

    Stuart, if your spelling is a result of this government’s education policy you may have a point.

  31. Comparing council by elections with what might happen in a GE is surely crazy. Most people can’t even be bothered to vote in a Westminster by election let alone a council one.

    Local elections are a good excuse to kick a government so the results must also be treated, in May, with a degree of warning.

    The next GE is still along way off ( I predict it will go to the wire May 2010) and as we have seen the polls have been very volatile since the conference season so still plenty to play for however I do get the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the media now give the Tories more respect and time and this is bound to resinate with the public that the Tories are now a serious alternative

  32. Adrian,

    Actually, the wire is in June 2010, but I agree that it is more likely to be in May 2010 to coincide with local council elections (including London). To allow the opposition to consoldiate its local position six weeks before a general election would be absolutely crazy.


  33. When i was questioned by YouGov this week on politics – one of the questions was “do i fear for the future” – Damn sure i do – we seem to be in a sinking ship without a rudder or a captain !!

  34. Reference the debate about how to run public services, this little cameo from The Sunday Times is truly wonderful.


    I particularly like the lofty comment from some so-called manager in the DoH in the last para.

    Soviet tractor quotas were better managed.

    Roll on the day that monolithic bureaucracies like the NHS & the Dept. of Children, Schools, Families & Everything are fully exposed to the rigours of their customers’ requirements.

  35. Returning to my point about private involvement in delivering services – I cannot see that the damage is necessarily done by profit seeking but is rather created by the distance of service delivery decisions from the user. We criticise the centralised bureaucracy of the NHS, for example, and the Government listens and responds by saying it will fix it by using ‘private sector experitise’. In other words it will issue contracts to large firms to deliver specified activities within the service. This merely replaces an incompetent public delivery with an equally incompetent private service (perhaps for a little less money).

    The success of GP fund-holding (despite the lies put about by Labour candidates prior to the 1997 election) lay in the choice about service being made by an expert individual whose was more likely to act in the interest of the patient. And remember that (until the current Government stupidly bought them off) GPs were self-employed contractors to the NHS – i.e. profit seekers.