YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph, the first since the Crewe by-election, is another appalling result for Labour. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, are CON 47%(+2), LAB 23%(-2), LDEM 18%(nc).

The Conservatives now have a 17 point lead on the economy and David Cameron has a 22 point lead as best Prime Minister. Gordon Brown’s net approval rating stands at minus 60, which is the worst ever rating I can find for a Prime Minister (the worst John Major ever hit was minus 59 in August 1994).

With the sole caveat that this was conducted soonish after a by-election victory so Cameron will have something of an aura about him, there little else to add – the figures speak for themselves and the picture for the government is bleak.

117 Responses to “Labour continue to plummet”

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  1. As the Labour predicted vote continues to shrink I would be interested in knowing what percentages are required for the Liberal Democrats to become the 2nd largest party or is this impossiblle due to constituency boundaries etc conditions?

  2. I guess that means Gordon Brown is now the most unpopular Prime Minister since polls began?

  3. A Tory score of twice labours is quite incredible and I think it probably means that we will see some kind of challenge to Brown. As ever it will be interesting to see the effect in Scotland.

    Even if there is no Tory recovery north of the border on these kinds of figures it’s possible that for the first time in almost half a century Labour would no longer have more Scottish seats than all the rest put together.

    I’d love to see someone do a proper Scottish poll right now.

    Oddly enough if Labour do change leader with the economy as it is now it might be worth the risk of an early general election, they would still get beat but it would be brave and different and show they had fight and it might get them more MP’s than waiting until the last minute and presiding over another two years of economic bad news.

    I suppose it show s how bad it’s got when the best strategy is damage limitation, a smaller Tory majority and a shorter time in opposition.


  4. Anthony

    I observe that one of the standard ‘rebuttal’ of the current poll trends is to say ‘well the Labour party had double digit leads in the eighties and look what happened there’

    I know you have probably explained this 100 times, but can you describe how polling has or has not changed to make this a fair or unfair defence?

  5. this poll is very bad news for brown but it’s after a by-election win for the conservatives. taking this into acount with the current level of labour surport at an all time low post WW2 it would be a fool t say labour will win the next election they have no chance plus, john major was a dead man walking (sound like anyone)

  6. The Labour poll rating (23%) is smaller than the Conservative lead (24 points). Not good for the Government.

  7. I’m a Tory and I think the last few weeks and months show the party can win overall, maybe 30-40.

    I suppose the best hope for Labour is if the economy performs better than expected, and people look back to this period as being rather hysterical.

    But with the amount of debt people have taken on, some correction is inevitable, and concern over the economy looks inevitable for the next few years.

  8. So, Brown is now more unpopular than John Major. And it took Major 4 years and a general election victory to reach this level of unpopularity. Brown has managed it in just 10 months!


  9. It is certainly amazing when you consider that in March Labour was 3 points or so behind. I wonder if it woul dbe possible to mash statistics to show VOLITILITY- which have been the most volitile months of opinion polling on record. The last few must be pretty close.

  10. current CON LEAD 19.0% OVER LABOUR

    all figures are from this months polling data at this rate the conservatives will have a big overall mjority in the commons 140-160 seats. i actualy think labour will get some ground back maybe 4 or 5% by the local elections next year, so it would still be the case of a conservative victory at the next election but a majoriy of maybe a 100 seats or so and not 140-160 seats, but on the other hand even if labour do make up ground on the conservatives they will still be downafter the local election and maybe even worse than now 20% or less by june next year conservative lead 26-30%, the lib dems will pick up votes closer to the election but may fall if the conservatives or labour put love booms into the lib dem marginals.

  11. Weighted Moving Average is 44:26:19 so which suggests that YouGov are over-estimating the CLead by 6. However the last YouGov poll was apparently over-estimating the CLead by 3 and now the Retrospectives suggest it was spot-on. In 3 months the WMA CLead has gone from 6 to 18, and I suspect that the real position is a CLead of 20 or so.

    It seems that there are still 15% of voters who support Labour & Brown and a further 8-11% who support Labour but not Brown. If Brown continues to cling on these figues will go towards 10% and 7-10% I suspect.

  12. NBeale – Labour down into the high teens, below the libdems? Can they really be pummeled that hard? Can the floor be as low as 18%? If this is really the case then this would explain the recent polling volatility and would point towards a very possible and large scale realignment of the political parties. Potential exciting times. However, we’re probably being a little hysterical.

  13. I keep thinking that Labour can’t go any lower and keep being surprised by YouGov polls which show them going lower. Is 23% Labour’s core or can they go lower still?

  14. JJB
    “I’m a Tory and I think the last few weeks and months show the party can win overall, maybe 30-40”.

    I think you are being too pessimistic – Tories will win next election by a landslide IMHO. The country is ready for change just as in 1997.

  15. The faith now being shown in the Tories to manage the economy must weigh more & more heavily on Cameron.

    He will inherit very bad Public Finances.
    By 2010 the British Public will be curbing all discretionary spend & reducing personal debt,or going bankrupt for lack of it.

    If Cameron’s “good housekeeping” mantra of recent days is to feature in a GE campaign-could the Tories actually put tax rises in their manifesto?

    And what can Labour possibly promise on the economy?

  16. NBeale

    “Weighted Moving Average is 44:26:19 so which suggests that YouGov are over-estimating the CLead by 6.”

    It doesn’t suggest any such thing.

    “However the last YouGov poll was apparently over-estimating the CLead by 3 and now the Retrospectives suggest it was spot-on”

    Which should indicate to you what many other commentators have said-WMAs of Polls from all Polsters are meaningless-is correct.

  17. Colin

    If DC presents it right I think its possible(but not likely) that Tories could get away with tax rises as long as they are presented honestly and only as a temporary measure.

    You’re right about the state of the Government books
    There’s certainly no scope for tax cuts.
    And the root and branch reform of public services and public sector pensions etc etc that is needed doesn’t happen overnight – it will take years.

  18. Colin, KTL etc.

    I think the Tories would be better off looking for ways of cutting public spending before they start trying to sell tax rises.

    In the end they may need to do both, given the slash and burn tactics Brown appears to be adopting (raising borrowing even higher for political reasons).

    But to suggest tax rises with no meaningful attempt to cut public spending would not go down well.

  19. The political reasons for an income tax cut of 2.7bn clearly haven’t been justified by poll results – still falling.
    However, I don’t agree that this is a form of “slash and burn”, or even a poisoned chalice, for the very simple reason that Brown is still convinced he will win in 2010.

    When Clarke drew up his spending plans in 1997 he fully expected to lose. He actually opposed Brown’s decision to stick to the extremely frugal spending commitments for the following two years, the result of which was that a firm foundation for success was not weakened “for political reasons”

    The question for me is just how much political capital Cameron is going to play with in the run-up? Blair basically had to promise he wouldn’t raise income tax at the top end, eventhough he was very far ahead in the polls.

    Does Cameron have to promise not to shrink public services, to promise to keep raising the minimum wage?

    How far ahead does he have to be before we get education vouchers and tax relief for private health insurance back?

  20. Cameron can do what Alex Salmond is doing in Scotland – let public services wither on the vine and blame Labour middle managers for the mess. I would have thought he will not be noisy about closures.That of course was the infamous Dr Beeching’s problem.

  21. john tt
    Are you an aide to Gordon Brown? You certainly seem to know his mind ie that he he is still convinced he will win in 2010 and that by that token that’s when the next election will be…….
    I think that is however a good point you make about Ken Clarke’s intentions in 1997 and other than the indefensible raid on pensions in his first budget Gordon Brown’s first two years at the Treasury were indeed prudent ones. Just a pity prudence went missing thereafter.
    The Conservative opposition to the introduction of the minimum wage was not that party’s finest hour and I think David Cameron will stick to present government policy. Nor do I think he will bring in education vouchers or tax relief for private health insurance back much as I would benefit from the latter featherbedding us middle classes in that way is morally wrong.
    I would however like to bring back MIRAS for first time house buyers only-now there’s a slight contradiction for you to get your teeth into john tt!
    Public expenditure will have to be carefully scrutinised once George Osbourne gets hold of the books. Cuts cannot be ruled out.
    The latest YouGov poll suggests to me that the government have not only lost the support of the middle class new Labour voter they picked up in 1997 but the older traditional Labour working class vote as well. They have no hope of getting back the first this side of 2010 and at the moment it seems that the second are like as not going to sit on their hands come the election. If they do then a heavy but bearable defeat will become an absolute massacre.

  22. Dontmindme – simplest explanation is too look at the polls in 1992, where they overestimated Labour’s lead by about 8 points. It’s seems unlikey that they were wrong in 1992, but correct in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, etc. They were overestimating Labour support (though before someone suggests it, no, you can’t just take 8 points off of Labour’s lead – it’s unlikely to have been that consistent)

    Since then pollsters have tended to move away from face-to-face polling towards phone polling and online polling, they have tended to adopt political weighting to get more balanced samples, and have tended to adopt some form of adjustment to account for differential likelihood to say don’t know.

  23. to topple brown it would need to occur at their conference this very goes to a vote if they can muster 70 plus mps against him.then their electoral college is 33% mps, 33% members ,33% unions on a vote.
    the process then takes one year.if this occured at their conference in 2009 the turmoil may put them below the libs.if i were him i would call an election in may 2009,so as not to look desparate,and get it over with.
    the bookies are not giving odds on him NOT being deposed.

  24. Hi Nick,
    Gordon says hello – clearly I’ve been rumbled. I’m also related to Milliband and being paid for my posts here.

    How’s David? Did he hint at his plans to retain labour’s minimum wage policy over lunch?

    Miras was a blunt instrument – the wealthy benefitted the most.

    Come to think of it, it would be in line with current Tory tax policy – a £2500 tax break if you can afford a £250k first time property, a zero one if you can only afford a £125k one.

  25. John TT/NickKeene

    DC will have to cut public Services. The Brown led recent huge spending on Public Services and hugely inflated public sector has been seen to be extremely wasteful in the perception of the voters. Tens of billion more spending and yet very little discernible increase in standards for the money.

    The current level of public spending is unsustainable and the Government is going further and further into the red because of it and that was during good years.

    Cutting public spending and reforming public sevices should be No 1 on Cameron and Osborne’s agenda and I’m sure they already have firm plans of how they’re going to do it even 2 years out from an election.

  26. They also have to find the £3bn they’ve pledged to relieve the wealthiest 3% of inheritance tax. The non-doms appear to be resistant.

    Having said that, public sector employment has contracted in recent years and most new jobs are still coming from the private sector.

    They shouldn’t be afraid to raise the tax burden – it’s still lower than it was under Thatcher.

  27. Conservative landslide win (and Labour wiped in Scotland) followed by a referendum in Scotland showing a landslide win for the SNP. We live in interesting times…

  28. Wolf,

    “Cameron can do what Alex Salmond is doing in Scotland – let public services wither on the vine and blame Labour middle managers for the mess.”

    Couldn’t let that one pass. The SNP are spending more of their budget that Lab/LibDem did partly by having a smaller reserve.

    They have asked local Government to make a 2% annual savings target unlike the previous 1.5%, but any savings can be retained.

    In the case of Highland that means we need to find between £11-£12m as opposed to £8-£9m, but unlike under Jack McConnell that money isn’t deducted from next year we can spend it how we like.

    In addition the end of ring fencing (75% of the previous ring fenced budgets are now free to spend as we wish) gives us more choice and flexibility to do what we think works locally.

    It’s true that when we exercise that choice and move money the losers ( backed by Labour) shout “Cuts Cuts Cuts”, but I for one am prepared to stand by my decisions and that these kinds of choices should be made locally and not dictated from the centre.

    Labour can claim as much as they like that we are cutting local services, but if they want more money spent than the Scottish Government currently has all Wendy has to do is stand up in Holyrood and commit Labour to using the Tartan Tax and putting between 1-3p on basic income tax.

    I am not holding my breath.

    I am sorry if this is a bit partisan for me, but given that the Scottish Government has a fixed budget set by Westminster and we are spending more of it than previous incumbents I don’t think that the “wither on the vine” comment is valid.

    By all means challenge how we are spending it compared to before, but the contention that we are cutting services deliberately doesn’t bare examination. It is a tight budget settlement and inflation particularly fuel isn’t helping, but that would be the same for whoever one the election.


  29. the in coming conservative govenment will not be able to aford tax cuts beacuse the current govenment spend half the gold, which ten years on is only worth the same as it was ten years ago and the money that ken cleark left in the bank when the conservative went out of power ment the govenment could have cut taxes but they put taxes up and ov spent out of their captail meaning that the country was heading for troubled times, time for a new govenment.

  30. John TT

    “Having said that, public sector employment has contracted in recent years and most new jobs are still coming from the private sector”.

    Parts of public sector employment have contracted recently notably the civil service particularly the Inland revenue and the DWP but public sector employment as a whole is massively up under Labour. The main area of job expasion being the NHS.

  31. KTL – Absolutely, my blinkers aren’t that bad!
    It appears that public spending is on course under Labour to undershoot GDP (assuming current predictions aren’t de-railed further.) Effectively, the proceeds of growth therefore are not all headed for the bottomless pit.

    Would Cameron dare to carry this further and fire 200k people? Is he so sure of victory? He’s already pledged £3.1 bn tax cuts for the wealthiest estate beneficiaries and the wealthiest first-time buyers.

  32. John TT

    Re tax burden under Thatcher. I’ll research this but I don’t believe that the tax burden is lower now than under Thatcher. IMHO the headline rates of tax may be lower but I believe the overall tax burden when one takes everything into account is much higher now.

  33. Sorry, I think that’s £3.4 bn inc £400m on stamp duty abolition under £250k.

  34. KTL
    Don’t bother, she did raise the tax burden, but it was lower in 1997 than it is now, and it could be argued by Thatcherites that the doubling of VAT was part of a necessary re-balancing process, brought us into line with the EU etc. I don’t want to get involved in 1970’s discussion, but my point really is that Cameron could raise the tax burden and use the same political capital that Thatcher used in justification.

  35. Of course you can’t fire 200k people in the public sector but you can set a target of 200K fewer public sector workers and just let it happen naturally by not replacing people who retire, or leave or by offering voluntary redundancy.

  36. I still can’t get over how Brown’s policies when Chancellor were consistently considered to be ‘prudent’?

    In fairness all shades of (media)opinion seemed to agree at the time that he was doing a great job as a steward of the British economy. But in 1997 the books he took over were pretty good (that is not an overtly pro-Tory comment, merely a fair statement!)

    However all borrowing has to be paid back at some stage, with interest – even a GCSE Economics student can work that one out. Similarly the same student would be familiar with the basic economic cycles of ‘boom/bust’, which haven’t just magically gone away.

    So I guess my question is : why were so many supposedly intelligent people so deluded for such a long period of time?

    I still love Britain, but I’m glad I don’t live there anymaore.

    Emperor’s New Clothes anyone?

  37. What matters really is whether the polls are still like this in 3 months time or so. If they are then Brown will probably face a challenge.

  38. Thanks for calling me “supposedly intelligent” and “deluded”. I’m glad you don’t live here too.

    Look up “minimum wage”, “increased pay for teachers, doctors, nurses, police” as a start off. The money had to be spent. It was spent without a “bust” occurring, despite 9/11 and other disasters, with low interest rates, low inflation, low unemployment, and high employment.

    All scuppered by lunatic capitalist brokers and credit agencies desperately trying to “out-bonus” one another.

    Of course i’m not 100% right – no-one is on this site, but most of us have respect for each others’ positions.

    “The good is oft interred with their bones” Look it up, and start educating yourself.

  39. I think Brown is suffering as a result of two recent developments in British society. The first one is that people are much more quickly dissatisfied with things in general than they used to be; a few decades ago a lot of people would have said to themselves something like: “Well Brown’s not doing very well, he’s made a mess of a lot of things, but he’s only been there for a year or so, so let’s give him a bit more of a chance.” These days people are more likely to simply say: “He’s messed up, let’s get rid of him straight away.” The other point is that people don’t care about a someone’s personal history in the way they probably used to. 30 years ago a lot of people from a working class background wouldn’t have been very enthusiastic about supporting someone like Cameron and would have stuck with Brown more readily.

  40. Anyone else noticed that the debate about Scottish / Welsh / Irish Nationalism is now over.

    Why? Sepp Blatter’s FIFA UEFA proposal for 6/5 (6 home players, 5 foreign)designed to work from 2012 is obviously only able to be applied if the UK has broken up by then (otherwise try and work out how any citizen of the UK would not be able to work in the other parts of the country). The SNP has obviously infiltrated to the very top of world football and FIFA has accepted political reality in the UK in 2012.

    Ot have I missed something?

  41. Jack,

    Your missing something.

    As far as FIFA is concerned Scotland, N. Ireland and Wales are separate sporting nations with their own FA’s. Who you play for is decided for by the same criterion as every other FA.

    As to the debate about nationalism, if it’s over it’s news to me.


  42. Football is peculiar. (Especially Scottish football :))

    The English FA have been subject to quotas in the past, and if I remember rightly Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish players were counted as foreigners. As far as FIFA is concerned, they’ve already had full independence. I’m not sure if Joel Barnett ever got involved with it.

  43. I’m sorry if I have a subtle sense of humour?

  44. It wasn’t really a joke. The Barnett formula – under revision and quite hotly debated – determines the levels of public funding across the “Home” countries.

    I’m not sure if a similar system allows for the very wealthy English FA to subsidise sport in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in a similar way.

  45. Ah – you might well have been taking a humorous angle in your previous post
    “The SNP has obviously infiltrated to the very top of world football and FIFA has accepted political reality in the UK in 2012.” I get it. Sorry!

  46. The Scottish subsample still shows considerable volatility, as is to be expected, but one consistency is the fact that Scotland remains the only part of the UK in Yougov polls where Labour (25%) is still ahead of the Conservatives (19%). That’ll be cold comfort indeed to Irn Broon, as the SNP are riding high on 41%, with the Liberals on a distant 13%.

    If there’s any conclusion that can safely be drawn from these subsamples, it’s that the SNP are benefiting most from Labour’s decline, while any Tory rise will be more modest. A proper poll would of Scotland would give us a more accurate picture, but I think the general trends would be the same.

  47. Steven F,

    I pretty much agree.

    The previous YouGov/Telegraph polls scores were;

    Scotland; Labour 37%, SNP 26%, Tory 19% LibDem 15%
    UK; Labour 29%, Tory 43%, LibDem 17% Others 11%.

    Scotland; Labour 28%, SNP 35%, Tory 22%, LibDem 12%.
    UK; Labour 26%, Tory 42%, LibDem 17% others 13%.

    Scotland; Labour 25%, SNP 41%, Tory 19%, LibDem 13%.
    UK; Labour 23%, Tory 47%, LibDem 18%, Others 12%.

    You would expect more volatility and error in the much smaller Scottish samples but it’s clear than in the last two months Labour have declined 6% nationally and a remarkable 12% in Scotland, although they were far higher to start with.

    In contrast the National Tory rise has been 4% but 0% in Scotland, and actually declining from the last Poll. The LibDems are largely static in both.

    However the SNP have gone up 15% in the same period which even with small samples is pretty strong evidence that the anti Labour vote is going to the SNP up here and to the Tories in England.

    So Nationally the biggest fall is Labour down 6% and the gainer mostly the Tories up 4%, so not just Tories are also benefiting to a degree from Labours fall.

    In Scotland Labour are down 12% and the SNP up 15% so not only are we benefiting from Labours woes but we appear to be picking up votes from elsewhere too.

    So no 11 Tory seats in Scotland on these figures. Still I am sure Mikes evidence will be along any day now……


  48. I’m very unimpressed that Cameron has ditched the James Review.

    I hope Osborne is reading it.He will need every penny.

  49. And another thought (my brain is running strangely today I know)on Blatter FIFA etc. Surely the EU by stopping Blatter is therefore helping keep the UK as a united country (because it would split up if the 6/5 proposal went ahead- the Nationalists would win the referendum easily on the fact that a Scot could not earn his keep in England). So the EU is helping keep the UK as a United Country; so if you know any UKIP people run that irony past them and enjoy them try and talk their way out of it… :)

  50. John tt

    Sorry you seem to take my observations personally – I had no personal targets!

    I have full respect for other’s views and would expect the same from others regarding my own- that’s democracy.

    Regarding spending more on teachers, nurses etc fair enough. But have services actually imporoved by throwing money at them?

    I’m not 100% right, nor claim to be. However why does it always have to be the free marketeers who are portrayed as villains? What about those so called ‘planners’, whose plans so often went diasasterously wrong. You can’t ‘plan’ human nature John tt.

    Regarding educating myself, I did – I left.

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