We would normally expect to see Populus’s monthly poll for the Times go into the field over the weekend, but given it is a bank holiday we’ll have to wait and see if they delay it a week. In the meantime Saturday’s Times does contain some new Populus polling – what seems to be a rather strange little poll with just a single question.

55% of people now expect the Conservatives to gain a majority at the next election, including 12% who expect a Tory majority of over 100. An additional 12% expect the Conservatives to be the largest party in a hung Parliament. 7% expect Labour to be the largest party in a hung Parliament, and 18% expect Labour to retain an overall majority.


83 Responses to “Expectations for the next election”

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  1. With regards to the LibDems’ becoming the Loyal Opposition:

    The LibDems face several problems here.

    They go more right-wards (as, I think, they have) to protect current seats, or more left-wards to attract wavering centrist Labour MPs and supporters. The LibDems also lack a well-defined “local power-base”, important in first-past-the-post.

    This leaves Clegg with questions: does he protect his current MPs with his current slight tack to the right, but possibly scare off potential defectors, or does he swing a bit to the left, endangering a lot of his current team (including himself in Sheffield Hallam) to bring in defectors that might overwhelm him?

    As for sheer number of MPs, the swingometer shows that the Labour core MPs are very resilient to large swings, up to a point, and then they collapse to LibDems, but this might be an artifact of “uniform swing” models.

  2. @Paul H-J, John C and others, my feelings are that if Labour is to be able to win a substantial number of seats in a 2010 election, they have to make a breakthrough now, before the Euro elections. I think that they’re heading for a disaster on June 4th, far worse than their standing in opinion polls for a Westminster election. I think that Labour doing really badly in June will be a mortal blow to the party’s chances in 2010. Things will just be a downward spiral from then on in.

    I am aware that Labour has an inbuilt electoral advantage but I don’t think it will be any help to them. I think that the election of 2010 will be as dramatic in the changes to the British electoral landscape as the elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924. I see massive dissatisfaction with the current government making people vote for the opposition party they think will win in their area. I expect the Liberal Democrats to make large gains in places like Newcastle and Manchester, with the Conservatives picking up in Birmingham and Sunderland. Some places, like Bristol, will probably be split between the Lib Dems and the Tories. The Tories will more than likely pick up Portsmouth and Southampton. I think that what I’m really saying is that there will not be a uniform national swing, except against Labour.

    I accept that Gordon Brown could change things around before June. But after that, Labour’s only chance, as I see things, is if both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats get embroiled in the most extraordinary scandal(s) of modern times. The simple fact is that the economy is going to get a whole lot worse and Labour’s recovery policies will be seen as fatally flawed. In some ways I hope that I’m wrong but I think there’s something very wrong about governments spending huge amounts of money that they haven’t got.

  3. ‘With regards to the LibDems’ becoming the Loyal Opposition:

    The LibDems face several problems here.’

    I agree, but not if they find other honourable and decent policies like allowing all Gurkhas to have residence and then they would not be the opposition but the govt.

  4. @onthejob – I’m not sure where Labour will come overall, but I do think they will poll less than 23% in the Euros.

    In the locals they came third in 2008 with 25%, being pipped by the LDs on 26%. That was their worst debarcle since 1968 when they got hammered after Wilson’s devaluation of the pound.

    With another Labour economic mess to rival that one is the reason why I think they’ll do even worse than 2008 this time around.

    The Euros just add even more spice to the mix!

  5. I disagree with the majority here that Brown should have a GE as soon as possible.

    By May next year the economy will likely be pretty much recovering, even being able to show some signs of the economy growing again would be huge political capital.

    This way even if they lose, the Tories would be unable to say they saved the economy as it would already be recovering by the time they come in.

  6. in relation to the EU elections and locals, have no problem with the fact that labour will get 20% of the vote but thats 20% more than what they should have and the lib dems are now ready to start taking labour seats bristol and places like manchester ,liverpool and the central belt over the north of england would be there best shot the tories need to win back votes in the midlands east and west, th north and south west of england and hope the lib dems get more than 25% of the vote, in relation to the GE in 2010,

    LAB 25%
    CON 45%
    LD 25%
    OTH 5%

  7. Timdavies, a recovering economy in the run-up to 1997 didn’t stop Brown trying to claim sole credit for the recovery (indeed in the past his claim of record quarters of economic growth had dated back to 1995!)

  8. Scottish poll was published today in Sunday Herald.

    It was a Systems Three poll sampled this week and showed the SNP with double figure leads in both first and second questions for Scottish elections.

    It is not on the on line edition and further details would be appreciated.

  9. @Stuart Gregory

    What on earth makes you think the LDP can get over 20% in a general election?!
    If anything, the trend for the LDP is a slow decline as it stands.

    If they can’t manage to poke their heads above 20% for a significant length of time (or at all) now, with all the favourable coverage, what on earth is going make them suddely appear that credible and attractive?

    I suppose they may come off better in the forthcoming MPs receipts crisis, but it takes more than that to be actively voted for.
    The more likely prospect is for a further fall in turnout, with more of the electorate becoming dismayed at the main three; consequently, the “others” are likely to do far better than you expect. …maybe not getting any or many new MPs in that category, but probably a balkanisation of the spread of votes.

  10. Having door knocked in 03 / 05/ 07 I see many disallusioned Labour voters who will never vote anything else, but clearly show they will ‘forget’ to vote this time in the locals.
    Even they are cynical of the figures being bandied about and appalled at the treatment of the Ghurkas and are ashamed of the Governments lead.
    I shudder to think what the Government will do or announce next!
    The press will not leave them alone now!

  11. @Dan
    “If Brown went, a Labour recovery is a very real possibility. However, he doesn’t have long to do it. An election must be called within a year, and internal party leadership contests take time.”

    …are the electorate really going to have patience for this though?! I can’t see many people warming to Labour for indulging in the installation of yet another unelected PM right in the brown end of the recession. It’s the nuclear option for them.

  12. “By May next year the economy will likely be pretty much recovering, even being able to show some signs of the economy growing again would be huge political capital”

    How exactly? It would mean the UK only starting to grow again months after other G20 economies and that Darling had once again got his forecasts completely wrong. Additionally the debate has already moved on to the large scale spending cuts, national insurance increases, VAT increases and other tax increases that will occur after the election. I doubt the government will get much thanks for the economic situation we are in.

    “indeed in the past his claim of record quarters of economic growth had dated back to 1995!”

    1993 actually.

  13. Tim Davies said, “By May next year the economy will likely be pretty much recovering, even being able to show some signs of the economy growing again would be huge political capital.”

    I disagree completely. If anything, I think the UK economy could be in utter chaos by next year, with falling output, a rapidly declining currency and the prospect of inflation at alarming levels. It won’t be as bad as Zimbabwe but I’d wager that some in the media will try to make comparisons. My view is held because I think the government did the wrong thing to bail out all the banks. Some should have been allowed to fail.

    However, if your optimistic view of the economy proves correct, I’d agree that Brown might benefit slightly from calling the election for June 3rd 2010. I just don’t believe that the economy will recover that quickly or that well.

    My own view of what’s needed is a £100bn cut in public expenditure immediately partially to fund the bank bailouts and to fund a big tax cut for those in work and earning less than average income. Raising the spending power of the poorest employed people is the best way to see us through this crisis. I’d like to see the £100bn cut restored over three or four years, giving the economy a chance to grow to afford the expenditure.

  14. Extract from today’s poll TNS/System 3 poll results:_

    Westminster voting intentions (with change in brackets)

    SNP: 32% (+14%)
    Labour: 36% ( -4%)
    Tory: 19% (+3%)
    LibDem: 9%

  15. Change since when?

    Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon is doing well at present.

    The SNP figure looks high, but not dramatically different from where it’s been.

  16. Its too late for New Labour now! Even if MP’s had the gutts to get rid of Gordon Brown the ordeal of having a second unelected PM would in it self seal their defeat.

    Also to let you all know that in the Morning (Bank Holiday Monday) the BBC are going to show “Election Night 79” mark thirty years since Maggie came to power and how she tossed James Callaghan into the Thames!

  17. Those who think a hung parliament is likely are not totally irrational.The LibDem vote is distributed much more efficiently than in the 1980s and if their vote (and that of other parties) holds up then the Con-Lab gap doesn’t have to close by much for us to be in that territory.

  18. Press Association:

    “The SNP is leading Labour in Holyrood voting intentions, according to a new poll.

    The TNS/System 3 poll has the Nationalists on 41% in the Holyrood constituency vote and Labour on 29%. The figures for the regional vote are 40% for the SNP and 30% for Labour.

    But Labour continues to hold an advantage over the SNP in Westminster voting intentions, with Labour on 36% and the SNP on 32%.”

  19. from SNP press release:

    Details of today’s poll TNS/System 3 are as follows:

    Holyrood Constituency Vote (with change from 2007 in brackets)

    SNP: 41% (+8%)
    Labour: 29% (-3%)
    Tory: 15% (-2%)
    LibDem: 11% (-5%)
    Other: 3% (1%)

    Holyrood Regional Vote (with change from 2007 in brackets)

    SNP: 40% (+9%)
    Labour: 30% (1%)
    Tory: 13% (-1%)
    LibDem: 10% (-1%)
    Green: 4% (nc)
    Other: 4% (-7%)

    Holyrood seats analysis

    Running those figures through the Weber Shandwick seats predictor gives the following result (with change in brackets):

    SNP – 58 (+11)
    Labour – 41 (-5)
    Tory – 16 (-1)
    LibDem – 12 (-4)
    Green – 2 (nc)

    Westminster voting intentions (with change in brackets)

    SNP: 32% (+14%)
    Labour: 36% (-4%)
    Tory: 19% (3%)
    LibDem: 9% (-14%)

  20. In Anthony’s 20 Nov 2006 report on a TNS System 3 poll he said that their weighting system tends to overstate Labour. Therefore this poll could be far worse for Labour than it first looks if that is the case.

    Anthony Wells said:

    “For the record, System Three use a methodology very similar to MORI’s. Quota sampling is used to construct samples, interviews are conducted face-to-face in people’s homes and samples are weighted using gender, age, social class and working status. Like MORI, there is no weighting by past vote (though the initial sampling points are chosen to be politically representative – i.e. there are the correct proportion of sampling points in Labour held constituencies, Lib Dem held constituencies and so on).

    At the moment System Three are not doing any filtering or weighting by people’s likelihood to vote (though they will do this in pre-election polls). If likelihood to vote in Scotland follows a similar pattern as in Great Britain as a whole – i.e. if Labour voters are the least likely to vote – then this would go part of the way towards explaining the difference in figures.”

  21. 12.04 Tim Davies. The same situation in 1997 – an economy clearly recovering – did not prevent Gordon Brown from claiming all the credit during his 10 years as Chancellor.

  22. Westminster voting intentions (with change in brackets)

    SNP: 32% (+14%)
    Labour: 36% (-4%)
    Tory: 19% (+ 3%)
    LibDem: 9% (-14%)

    Good results for both the SNP and the Tories, with the LibDems thebig losers.

    As Anthony hasn’t got his long awaited Scottish election calculator and page up and running yet we will just have to speculate as to how this would pan out as i am not sure how well any of the UK election calculators deal with Scotland and Wales, let alone NI.

    I tend to thing all four nations should have their own separate calculators and the UK predictions derived from adding the results together.

    On and before i get told off again this should really be carried on on the Scotland page…..

    Peter.

  23. A week is along time in Politics! A year is 52 times longer.

  24. Is there a Labour supporter out there who can explain to me what Blears meant by saying that the government should take “collective responsiblity” for the battering Labour’s reputation has received? How? Why?

    It’s the Labour leadership who are clearly to blame. I can’t see her statement going down well with the Labour back benchers.

    @Cliff I don’t think this is her setting out her stall for a future contest but a clumsy attempt to help to steer Labour back on track. But blaming all Labour MPs for their situation is likely to create a greater mood of rebellion outside the cabinet. Thus her statement, particularly as a whole, will increase the sense of a need for change, change of leadership, that is, within the government.

    Imagine a ship with a crew of over 300 that has been wrecked by sailing onto the rocks. And then one of the ship’s navigators turning to the crew and saying, “Well, lads, I think we ought to take collective responsibility for the mess we have got ourselves into here. What do you think, captain Brown?” (The captain simply grins. A skill her picked by imitating the cat in the film ‘Alice in Wonderland).

    The navigators observes the men placing a plank of wood on the side of the boat. “Look, captain Brown, the men want us to lead them on to land!”

    A man with rope approaches them,”Are you the worse navigators ever? Dry ground is on the other side of the ship, idots!” A series of splashes follow. And the difficult job of repairing the ship begins.

    Figuaratively speaking, a plausible senario, I think.

  25. Some time ago I was challenged to state my prediction of gains and losses at the local county council elections on June 4th. Well I cannot resist having a go as follows

    Lib Dem and other losses 50

    Lab losses 215

    Con gains 265

    all gains net.

  26. “Also to let you all know that in the Morning (Bank Holiday Monday) the BBC are going to show “Election Night 79? mark thirty years since Maggie came to power and how she tossed James Callaghan into the Thames!”

    I watched some of this can someone tell me where the seat of Holland is?

  27. Also they said somewhere r atkins Labour lost to r atkins of the conservatives can’t remember the seat name now but what was Labours majority before that happened and did voters get confused with who they were voting for?

  28. I watched the ’79 GE programme too ( intermittently!).

    It was like watching another species from a different country-Incomes Policy, Union bosses calling the shots.Double digit inflation…Robin Day smoking a cigar in the studio.

  29. ONTHEJOB –

    The seat of Holland is in Lincolnshire.

  30. 20th June 2037 – BBC airs 30th Anniversary of Gordon Brown’s promotion to prime minister.

    I don’t see it somehow, although one could argue that the effects of Brown’s premiership will be felt for far longer than Thatcher’s.

  31. Anthony, there’s a Populus poll reported in today’s Times. It doesn’t give national share of the vote figures but does report the following:

    – 26% rate Brown/Darling the better economic team versus 42% Cameron/Osborne. B/D figures down from 38% immediately following the Budget and 35% the previous weekend. C/O figures up from 35% immediately following the Budget but down from 45% the previous weekend.

    – Don’t knows up from 20% at Budget to 32% now

    The message seems to be that while C/O are widening the gap with B/D, there are a third of voters who are unconvinced by either.

  32. Leslie – it’s part of the same poll. There’s no voting intention on it, Populus’s proper VI poll will be next week.

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