Populus’s monthly poll for the Times has topline voting intentions, with changes from last week, of CON 45%(+5), LAB 25%(-4), LDEM 20%(+1). The poll was conducted between the 3rd and 5th of June, so would have got the brunt of the Caroline Spelman coverage, which clearly doesn’t appear to have dampened support for the Conservatives.

Until now only YouGov had shown a Conservative lead of twenty points or more; Populus is the first non-internet company to show a lead of this size. Until now it was possible that the huge Conservative leads shown by YouGov were some sort of artifact of internet polling – in fact I was half way through drafting up ideas for a article looking at possible reasons why YouGov was showing larger leads than the phone polling companies. It may no longer be necessary!

38 Responses to “Now Populus show a 20 point lead”

  1. oh dear. Will GB last till the conference season?

  2. It may not be much of a consolation for Labour supporters but I think we are reaching the bottom of the incline. I don’t expect to see labour drop much below 25%, maybe 23% or 24% but perhaps going up slowly to say 27%.

    It could crawl back up to 30% by the election but I can’t see a any reason for it. That doesn’t mean that it can’t happen but rather that something unexpected will need to happen and I can’t see Gordon Brown doing it.

    I’ll be interested to see what the Scottish trend is from this. On the basis of a four party system the figures would be 33% Tory, 19% Labour and 15% LibDem, with the SNP getting the Bulk of the remaining 33%.

    I can’t see the Tories getting even 23% and the LibDems probably below 15% although they may slightly recover. So I would suspect that something in the region of;

    SNP 34%, Labour 30%, Tories 19%, Libdems 14% Others 3%, although the SNP may well come in higher at Labours expense. I just doubt we will be up at 40% as in YouGov.


  3. There must have been some real heavy “boardroom” discussions at companies Like Populus to come in line with more accurate POLLSTERS like YouGov – not before time / there has been too many rogue POLLS in the last 6 months – makes Anthony’s graph far too erratic – lol.

    Glad to see PETER CAIRNS slowly coming in line with my Scottish thinking – I still think you are being way too generous to Labour – they are now a finished party in British politics – R.I.P

  4. The Liberals should be upping their game now and be putting the final kicks into Labour – but that is’nt going to happen with a leader like Clegg who does’nt even want to appear in public much – he seems to leave it to the last leader to do all the talking.

    If they had got their house in order they could have overtaken Labour in the POLLS by now – much longer and they will be left behind in the great push by the British to oust Labour.

  5. Would it be unprecedented for the Labour to go below the LibDems in recent history? Just asking…

  6. “with a leader like Clegg who does’nt even want to appear in public much – he seems to leave it to the last leader to do all the talking.”


    Perhaps we’ll see the third decapitation of the Lib Dem “leader” in this Parliament.

    Awful figures for Brown – I actually feel a bit sorry for the man.

  7. Mike,

    There is absolutely no reason to think that Polsters have changed their methodologies to come in to line with YouGov, or to suggest that YouGov is right and everyone else wrong.

    Even if yougov is more accurate with it polls close to polling day particularly in low turn out elections that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s mid term projections are accurate.

    I think their is a growing possibility that phone polls lag behind internet polls, and that the trend emerges first on the likes of YouGov. It would be interesting if Anthony produced a graph that had a line for each pollster so we could see if over the last year or so YouGov really was picking up a change in public attitude before others.

    As to Scotland I’ve been predicting the Tories at around about 20% or slightly harder for over a year now. Labour aren’t finished anywhere, the are down near their core support and will poll slightly above that in an election but the tories will almost certainly win.

    That will be a huge blow to labour and a bad result but as to RIP that’s just wishful thinking on your part.

    Clegg is in a bit of difficulty as he represents the ascending group of Young Libdems who came in when the Tories were weak and with an intake who won tory seats. That means the LibDems have pursued a more Liberal free market approach which was fine when the Tory votes were up for grabs, but doesn’t go down that well with core Labour supporters.

    Now if they had chosen Vince “nationalise the rock” Cable, things might well have been better for them, a steady hand in a time of crisis who was neither as flash as blair or dull as Brown.


  8. If these sort of figures continue in the summer surely the game must be up for Brown. It is possible that a new leader will not make much difference but if the alternative is a landslide defeat anyway there is nothing to lose. If cabinet ministers are still reluctant to tell Brown he has to go they should wake up and smell the coffee – half of them won’t have seats after the next election otherwise. James Purnell will be one of them to lose his seat. If he is ambitious – and in my view he is able – doing nothing could mean losing everything

  9. Mike – there is unlikely to have been any change in methodology from Populus. In the past they have made a point of publicly announcing even the smallest switches in their methodology, mentioning them in the paper, explaining them on the website (and normally telling me directly about them).

    ICM have changed their methodology slightly, the effect of which is to make the polls very marginally nicer to the Tories. MORI are currently reviewing their methodology, and I would expect the changes to favour the Tories. Populus though, no change.

    Diablo – depends how recent history! In 2003 the Lib Dems were equal with Labour after the Brent East by-election. To find the third party ahead of Labour you need to go back to March 1986.

  10. Mike, I think it is unreasonable and without evidence to claim the Labour Party are finished in British politics. Less than 12 months ago the same was being said of the Tories. Peter Hitchins of all people summed it up on Question Time last week. The Tories will get elected, but then quickly people will realise they have nothing to offer and people will vote them out. I think we are entering a new phase of disillusionment with politics in the UK. Unless the Tories can really deliver quickly their success will be a short-lived affair.

  11. Peter Cairns

    “I can’t see the Tories getting even 23%”

    I bet you can’t Peter! It would shoot one of your foxes would it not? If the Tories recover in Scotland it will in the event of a Cameron GE victory be that much more difficult for the SNP to create an escalation of the current friction between Westminster and Holyrood.Yes 23% for the Tories north of the border is clearly achievable. A year ago I forecast that a blue tide would slowly seep northwards form the Trent right over Hadrian’s wall and on up to Stirling and Perth. Now I think it is reaching Kincardine and Deeside and who knows it may even get up as far as a certain ward in the Inverness area….. No the Tories won’t win all those seats but a target of 8 is a perfectly reasonable one to aim for. Mock that scenario at your peril Peter!

    Mike’the Oracle’ Richardson

    Sensible Lib Dems know that the next few years involve a damage limitation exercise. They are extremely adept at hanging on to what they’ve got no matter what their poll ratings. The Lib Dems sit on a large number of ex Tory seats and I am convinced that the battle for control in those seats will be the fiercest of the coming general election campaign.

  12. Actual Scottish polls, as opposed to tiny subsamples of GB polls, show no discernable increase in the Conservative vote in Scotland, despite huge strides elsewhere in the country. I’ve no idea where this confidence in a Tory advance in Scotland is coming from.

  13. One would imagine that with 45% ratings 8=10 Scottish seats would be eminently achievable, but if you look at all the polling evidence from Soctland, the Tories have not really improved at all from 1997- which is pretty remarkable. I can only reason that anti-Toryism in Soctland has become almost part of the national phsyke since 1997 and thus they are resistant to factors which have caused large movements of support amongst others.

  14. I do get a little annoyed at what as I see as somewhat confusing talk of ‘Labour core’ and ‘Labour finished’. I think it is actually hard to fathom the Labour core; we may well be seeing the end of ‘New Labour’ but that is not the same as ‘core Labour’. What is being evaluated now is how far New Labour is finished.

    And was there ever a core support for New Labour? (Consider New Labour-what do we think of?; ID cards , surveillance society (police state), 42 days / 90 days; then morally ‘ambiguous wars’; then uncritical lovey dovey with the USA, then massive pointless paperwork in all our jobs, then increase in wealth between the poorest and richest in society. Okay, I could put in minimum wage, devolution etc… but they don’t resonate with most people…)

    You get the idea; New Labour happened and is now being tested to see what its core is; we don’t know. I think potentially very low. I think ‘real’ Labour has a core we can talk about and is certainly not finished; it may well be ready to take over if Brown implodes…

    Anyway you see my argument; the polls are now testing ‘New Labour’ which I argue is not the same as the traditional Labour support. But how far apart we do not know as new Labour is only now having its first real test.

  15. I think it is possible for the Tories to pick up some Scottish seats – May 2007 showed some good signs in the Borders area, and elsewhere.
    Annabel Goldie has done a good job making them more relevant.
    But it is still likely to be fairly limited, with a lower swing than south of the border.

    Also, I’m not sure seats like Edinburgh SW are completely resistant to a surge of Tory support to 40-43 at national level.

  16. Anthony,

    What are your views ( with or without a graph) on the possibility that Internet polls pick up trend changes faster that phone or face to face polling, and if so why.


  17. Anthony:

    “I’ve no idea where this confidence in a Tory advance in Scotland is coming from.”

    Yes you do: English Tories using UK poll data.

    The biggest factor in Scottish Conservative voting trends is the Grim Reaper’s cull of the core vote.

    Even in England there is no sudden surge of enlightenment that Conservative policies will deliver Utopia, or infatuation with the charms of Dave Cameron. Likewise, in Scotland, there is no great increase in a desire for independence.

    The GROTs are turning against Labour. Some other party has to be the beneficiary. In Scotland there is a choice of three, and the Conservatives are the Scottish GROT’s last choice, in most cases even behind Labour.

    Most of Scotland’s dissatisfied Labour voters are Old Labour. Voting Conservative is not an option to be seriously contemplated, and the legal issues have removed the Socialists from contention. The LibDems have, fairly or otherwise, got the reputation of being too close to Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

    Most Old Labour Scots have remained loyal through the Blair governments and if they could stomach that, they can still vote Labour now if they try hard enough. Many may not vote at all next time.

    The remainder have only one FPTP option left.

  18. Peter:

    “So I would suspect that something in the region of;

    SNP 34%, Labour 30%, Tories 19%, Libdems 14% Others 3%, although the SNP may well come in higher at Labours expense.”

    Can you give me comparable figures for 2005 for Scotland please?

  19. John b Dick:

    Once again, I can’t do a better job of summarising the actual state of the Tories in Scotland, so I shan’t try. You’ve hit the nail well and truly on the head, especially regarding the unfortunate demographic consequences of appealing more to senior voters rather than to the population as a whole.

    Who knows though, perhaps the relatively youthful Dave will turn things around? Or will he just win votes from the blue-rinse faithful as a “nice young man”?

  20. I don’t see the Tories making any major gains in Scotland unless something drmatic happens in the next 2 years. They are making progress, Goldie is presenting herself as aconsensual politician and this makes it harder for opponents to hang the “nasty party” label on her. The best they can hope for is to gain 4-5 seats and bring some more into range for 2014-15.

    It is significant that this will be the first GE since 1987 where the question being asked of the Scots Tories is “How many will they win?” instead of “Will they win any?”

  21. John,

    What don’t you have goggle…..

    Labour; 39%, Tory; 16%, LibDem; 23%, SNP; 18%, Others 4%.

    So I would be looking at Labour -9%, Tories +3%, SNP +16%, LibDem -9%.


  22. Peter:

    I have some now:
    compared with your
    SNP 34%, Labour 30%, Con 19%, LibDems 14% Others 3%, it was
    SNP 18%, Labour 40%, Con 16%, LibDems 22% Others 5%,

    Your Others is very credible, the Socialists have a legal problem.

    Conservatives have been losing their share of the vote for half a century, through the Thatcher period, and your reason for thinking that the decline will not only stop but reverse is the same as is misleading The Oracle, its just that your number is lower. To increase their share of the poll by 3%, they need to grow the number of people willing to vote for them by 20%.

    Similarly the LibDems would need to lose 38% of the voters they had last time whereas Labour would lose only 24% of what they had previously.

    That’s the wrong way round. It would override (for no obvious reason) the inertia of LibDem majorities in rural Constituencies which Sean Fear found in SW England and while I am sure that the SNP will make a significant advance, critical to achieving their long term aim, on your figures they would need to almost double their vote in one election. I don’t think that’s possible.

    On these figures, if the three unionist parties lose or gain the proportion of their vote last time that you predict, and the SNP pick up what is left over, the SNP will win Aberdeen South from 4th place and Argyll and Bute from third.

    Lasy time the Labour loss overall in Scotland was 4.4% compared with 5.9 in England and I don’t see any reason to think the differential would be any the less next time.

    Any projection for the Scottish seats based on UK or even all Scotland polls, which does not consider constituencies individually, is going to overestimate the amount of change in Scotland because of the variety of two, three and four party marginals.

    If I am right, and if UK projections are substantially correct for England, the proportion of the parliamentary Labour party from Scottish constituencies would greatly increase, and probably result in a leftward turn under a left-ish new leader.

    What would that do for the Nationalists? The English ones I mean.

  23. Anthony:

    No doubt you can correct me if I am mistaken. Is it not the case that the LibDem vote always rises in polls as the election approaches because begin to focus on the local options?

  24. “If the Tories recover in Scotland it will in the event of a Cameron GE victory be that much more difficult for the SNP to create an escalation of the current friction between Westminster and Holyrood.”

    What? It will be far easier, and I say that as a Tory. Labour have substantial support in Scotland, the Tories do not. If the UK had a Tory government despite them coming third in Scotland then it will just give ammunition to those who argue that the Tories have no mandate to govern Scotland. If anything it will increase support for independence.

  25. John- more often than not, but it depends where you draw the start line. They do often do better than they poll immediately before the start of the campaign, but it doesn’t follow that they poll better than they do in mid-term polls!

    The reasons I think are partially publicity, and partially tactical voting.

  26. nick,
    spot on,everybody should know by now,the scottish conservatives always poll 3/4% more at elections than in polls.the thatcher era is to do with that.more reliance on old clapped out industries,so her policies bit harder in scotland.

    that puts the scottish conservatives on 22/23%.

    in scotland switching from labour to snp was like changing from supporting celtic to hibs,not the most difficult decision,but changing to rangers or hearts is like changing your religion,possible,but a much bigger decision.

    the snp are waking up to the fact that,ironically they can be an good coallition partner in edinburgh.

    the scots may well go for snp first vote,cos salmond appears to be doing a good job,and conservative second to keep the balance and the union.they may both gain at the next scottish election.

  27. “Everybody should know by now,the scottish conservatives always poll 3/4% more at elections than in polls.”

    Bunkum. Polls in Scotland during and before the 2005 election campaign showed the Conservatives on 14% (System Three), 18% (MORI) and 16% (Scottish Opinion). YouGov’s closest poll was back in February 2005 which had the Conservatives on 19%.

    In reality they got 15.8% – so all but System Three overestimated them if anything.

  28. Nicholas
    What I was attempting to say but put it rather clumsily- is that the SNP could make MORE mischief in the event that the Tories emerged from the next General Election with only one or two seats in Scotland than they could if the Tories had around 8-which would be just one short of what they had between 1987 and 1992. Obviously Labour are better placed to rebut the no mandate charge for the reasons you state but between 1987 and 1992 the Tories had no difficulty in coping with Scotland and were rewarded with a swing to them amongst Scots voters in the 1992 election- against the national tide.
    The 2010 election may be the last chance the Scottish Tories are given to prove to the party as a whole that they still pack a punch. Their performance is bound to influence the attitude of the new Tory government towards resolving such issues as the West Lothian question, the Barnett formula and an independence referendum. Another poor result especially in the most favourable circumstances conceivable may well also encourage the growing feeling among many rank and file Tories that the Scottish party might prosper better if it were cut loose from London altogether and instead formed either a sister party like the CSU in Bavaria or became a new party under a new banner.
    I have felt for some time that Scotland has been moving away from the Left-the 2005 Holyrood elections proved that-but this trend has yet to express itself in terms of a discernable shift to a right of centre party as sooner or later it will as voters seek to break away from the lazy social democratic consensus that so holds back Scots from giving expression to their natural entrepenurial instincts and canny business sense. As the only right of centre game in town the Tories now have a golden opportunity to ditch the historical legacy that has for so long blighted their cause north of the border and to speak out for the many Scots who want to see a more dynamic society come to the fore. Whether the Tories have it in them to seize that chance remains to be seen but the chance is now patently here which is why the SNP are beginning to get a bit ratty with them.

  29. For ‘2005 Holyrood election read 2007’

  30. Nick,

    Firstly look up paragraph in the dictionary you might find it useful.

    A Couple of points.

    Firstly on the mischief bit.

    The SNP believes that if we abolish Council Tax then we should get the same support for Local Income Tax as the current amount of Council tax benefit. That’s not mischief it’s a valid argument. Equally we want the £40m in attendance allowance that the treasury withheld when we brought in free care.

    We also believe that we should get the Barnet allocation of the money for new prisons.

    From our perspective we should get our share and be allowed to do what we want with it. Browns view is that we can get our share if we agree to do what he wants with it.

    The SNP view is mirrored in our approach to Local government where we have removed ring fencing. Holyrood gives councils their money and they spend it how they like.

    So I suppose one mans mischief is another mans principle. It is true that relations between Alex and Gordon aren’t like they were before we were in Government, but the issues are the same. Again some will see us as being difficult while others will say McConnell was compliant.

    On the general shift from the left I have my doubts on two counts.

    Firstly I think labour lost principally because people were fed up of it after eight years and disappointed by it’s performance. It wasn’t a left right thing so much as a competence issue.

    To a lesser extent you could actually argue that as a result of triangulation and a focus on middle England it was Labour who moved right and the people who stayed where they were. The big winner in Scotland weren’t the Tories to the right of Labour but the SNP who were in some respects to the Left.

    The same argument has been made by others with regards to the Tories in that perhaps the Scots didn’t move away from the Tories so much as the Tories moved to the right under Thatcher away from Scotland.

    If that is true then it may well be that Cameron’s kindler, gentler Tories may well have a limited improvement in performance as they are seen to move closer to mainstream Scottish opinion than Thatcherism.

    Lastly the fact that Holyrood is a PR parliament means that the electorate aren’t really in a two horse race like Westminster, so a party of the right (or any other angle) will never be in the us or them position where the public are choosing a government from a choice of two.

    That could mean that the Tories do recover perhaps to 25% in Scotland but never see government. It may be that rather than starting the road back to government the current position and tactics of the Scottish Tories in Holyrood are actually the blueprint for their future; a strong block arguing for specific policies issue by issue but never in power.


  31. Nick:

    You are quite mistaken to regard the the Scottish Conservatives prospects for the next UK election to be
    “the most favourable circumstances conceivable.” At least four posters on YouGov, not counting Anthony, (and most of us in several ways and several times and in several places) have tried to explain that the situation in Scotland is different and why it is different.

    Did you know that Scotland is different in other respects too, nearly all of them accounted for by geography or the reformation? Some people even think Scotland is different enough to be better governed as a separate country.

    The SNP certainly don’t need to go looking for mischief. Their opponents will be making more than enough opportunities for them.

    Conservative back-benchers addressing English concerns and making ill chosen remarks which, however favourable their constituents might regard them, will be sure to be reported in Scotland and cause offense without the SNP needing to get involved.

    A recent case (from Labour) was the issue of “too many Scots in the cabinet.” Apart from the confusion caused by not having a clear distinction in mind between the UK parliament and an “English” Parliament, just try substituting “Jews” for “Scots” in that one.

    A wartime slogan was “Careless talk costs lives” in this case there will be a lot of careless talk, and it will cost a lot of votes.

    The SNP don’t need to bother. The safe option is to do nothing.


    I’m not sure whether your 25% is in an independent Scotland or not. Certainly that will be a clearer break with the UK party and “The Party of Thatcher” than the Bavarian model. Either way, but especially after independence, they would be open for business in competition with the LibDems as the minor party in a Coalition, not only with the SNP, but with Labour.

    That option isn’t available now, because so many MP’s would be in therapy that the UK parliament would cease to function.

    One of my Conservative MSP’s recently told me that the party had never considered the Bavarian model. It’s about time they did, and Labour and LibDems too. If they had done it ten years ago, (and created a bit of “mischief” with the UK government) the SNP would not now be in Government.

    An independent and rebranded Scottish Conservative party could even negotiate a short-term coalition deal for the less than three years left for this parliament.

    The SNP could take the opportunity to offer it.

    That’s real mischief.

  32. John,

    25% is my view of where the Tories would be post Independence.

    Overall I would say the first independence parliament (which could be 2011 believe it or not, although that’s not a prediction as I am not the McOracle);

    Labour 30% SNP 30% Tories 20% Libdems 15% Greens 5%, all +/-3%. Over time the Tories could achieve 25%.

    As to your views on a formal coalition between the SNP and the Tories in this parliament, good for the Tories is a maybe, good for the SNP a definite no.

    Tactically with the SNP picking up the majority of disillusioned Labour voters, most of whom wounded dream of voting Tory, any alliance with the Tories would be a very bad move.

    In addition as the SNP minority government is doing remarkably well and the Tories doing better with the same number of seats than at any time since devolution began, why would either want to upset the current set up. As it stands now both have the maximum amount of freedom and can co-operate and differ as they like.


  33. Mock the “Oracle” at the SNP’s peril !

    Where on earth does the idea that the Tories would ever entertain the idea of a coalition or partnership of any kind come into the equation ? It sometimes happens with the Liberals at local county council levels in the UK – but there is no evidence of that historically on a national level.

    The Tories on principal (unlike ALL other parties)would not join up with a party just to gain some kind of power – whether that be in the UK or Scotland on it’s own !

    PETER :- 2011 !!! Now you know you are not the “Oracle” , where on earth did you get that date from for Scottish independence – take the word of the “Oracle” – Scotland will not be independent in mine or your lifetime !

    The SNP will have to just accept the current situation . It’s temporary , but enjoy it while it lasts – lol.

  34. When is this momentus Populus due out ?

  35. Mike,

    Given that there is a good chance of a referendum in 2010, now that Labour have all but agreed to back, Independence is by definition a possibility, but again I’d didn’t say it would happen.

    As to Scotland not being Independent in your life time, well even if things go really well for us I hope you’ve got more than two years left, although whether I can put up with your ranting for that long is another matter.

    Oh and as to Tory principle, if it’s a hung parliament and Clegg makes the offer, after a dozen years in the wilderness, Cameron and the Tories would bite his hand off for the keys to No 10.

    Anyone you doesn’t think that the Tories wouldn’t really doesn’t understand politics.


  36. Populus figures for Scotland are;

    Labour 22%, Tory 22%, LibDem 16%, SNP 36%, Others 4%.

    My prediction was;

    “SNP 34%, Labour 30%, Tories 19%, Libdems 14% Others 3%, although the SNP may well come in higher at Labours expense”.

    So on this basis Labour have slumped and everyone has benefited and indeed since the last populus poll the SNP are actually down.

    If it means anything I think it is that although the SNP are still far and away the principle beneficiary of Labours decline, we may have reached the point where we have soaked up as many of the left of centre Labour supporters as there are and that it’s now Labours better off supporters who are looking to Cameron and Clegg.

    As with the UK I think we must now be close to a new stable state after the tipping point of 30% Labour. Given the current situation with 42 days I think we will have no turn around for Labour before the summer silly season.

    Having said that pictures of closed signs at petrol stations over the next week could see labour drop a bit and even be level with the LibDems but I’d be surprised if they didn’t drift back up in the sunshine months when peoples minds are elsewhere on things like the Olympics.

    A bit of flag waving rarely does the government any harm.

    For the UK, till the conference season that will see us on around;

    Tory 45%, Labour 25%, LibDem 20%, Others 10%, +/-2%.

    For Scotland;

    SNP 35%, Labour 30%, Tory 20%, Libdem 15%, +/-3%.

    We won’t really know till we see a new full Scottish poll, hopefully some time soon.


  37. Peter:

    Populus can’t be right. Labour can’t be level with the Conservatives given what we know about Glasgow, where the bulk of the population is, and the Old Labour voters are. If they have really abandoned Labour for the SNP to that extent we should soon hear some trade union or other left-leaning organisations endorse the SNP. Tories look high at 22, but that’s a consequence of Labour’s losses: the votes have to go somewhere.

    I prefer your figures, though I’d give the LibDems a point ot two more for the reasons Anthony mentioned.

  38. Mike:

    Coalition is the norm in a PR 5/6 party parliament. The Scottish Conservatives have to aspire to be the smaller party in government before they can hope to be the larger.

    I don’t think they could reach 25% in the first independent parliament if they go up to the referendum controlled from London and “and Unionist” but that or even a little more would be their natural level if they were independent.