YouGov have a poll in tomorrow’s Telegraph, the first since Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time. It was carried out late yesterday and all day today. There isn’t actually very much detail in the Telegraph’s report, but there’s more at ConservativeHome.

The topline voting intentions, with changes from the poll last weekend, are CON 40%(-1), LAB 27%(-3), LDEM 19%(+2), BNP 3%(+1). So while the BNP support is up, it is nothing significant. 2-3% has been pretty much the norm for their support over the last couple of months, and the most recent YouGov/Telegraph poll at the end of September also had them at 3%. For the other parties, Labour are down from the 30% to 27%, more in line with the ICM and Ipsos MORI figures in the week. YouGov still have the Conservatives down at 40% in comparison to 44% and 43% from ICM and MORI.

Anyway, the poll will really be looked at for evidence of how the BNP’s Question Time appearance has gone down, rather than the main parties. As well as voting intention, YouGov asked whether people had positive or negative opinions of the smaller parties – questions that it last asked in June straight after the European elections. Back then 11% of people had a positive impression of the BNP and 72% a negative impression, today’s figures are 9% positive and 71% negative, so no sign of any improvement in people’s opinion of the BNP either. Despite all the hoohah and protests, despite the millions of people who watched Question Time, it doesn’t seem to have made any significant difference to how the public view them, or how likely they are to support them (or at least, not yet).

Asked how likely people would be to vote BNP in a future local, general or European election. 66% said there were no circumstances at all, 15% said it was “possible”, which I suspect is more of a “never say never answer”. More significant are the 7% who would definitely or probably consider voting BNP at some point in the future.

What has changed was attitudes to the BBC’s decision to invite Griffin onto Question Time. At the weekend 63% thought it was right, 23% wrong. Now the balance of opinion has shifted further in favour of the BBC’s decision, 74% thinking it was right, and only 11% wrong.

96 Responses to “YouGov verdict on BNP’s Question Time”

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  1. Anthony – is there any reason in methodology why Yougov should have the Tories lower than ICM and Mori – is it to do with “certainty to vote?” Either way surely this poll is dreadful news for Labour – all this talk of a bounce etc has been well and truly blown out of the water./

  2. Anthony

    Were the questions about “smaller parties” restricted to UK ones as in June (and making the same assumption that the Greens are a UK party – which they aren’t).

  3. Oldnat – yep, same parties, and no differentiation between the Green Party of E&W and the Scottish Green Party.

    Peter – I don’t think it’s do with that, since Populus show the same sort of figures as YouGov and they use almost the same methodology as ICM. If the difference persists I’ll have to have a proper look.

  4. Anyjony

    *Sigh* – I’ll just have to win the lottery to fund your doing proper Scottish polling. Mind you, I’d actually have to buy a ticket to do that! :-)


    I’m not a member of your party, but I can’t help thinking that Question Time panel members opposed to the BNP did a second rate job compared with what Nicola Sturgeon could have done by herself and there are four others in your party who would have been nearly as good.

    I’m sure you would agree.

  6. John B Dick

    I’m only very recently a member of “my party”. I really dislike all political parties!

    However, It would be an interesting debate on “nationalism” to have Nicola (my favourite too), Plaid, Sinn Fein, English Democrats(?), and one of the Brit Nat parties (Con/Lab/LD – no difference) on the one hand and the BNP on the other –

    Topic “Genetics and ethnicity in politics”.

  7. Some of the polling was carried out “late last night” which may have been before the programme was shown, so the next poll(s) to come out could be just as interesting as this one in terms of the effect the programme may have had on voters.

  8. All i know is that from watching question time Nick Griffin has shoot himself in the foot for not answering the question on the holocaust, not giving a stright answer on racisim and nazism within his own party.

    Yes, there are people who are angry and irrtated with Britain’s overcrowding and believe immigration needs to be tightened or in some cases stopped. My view is that we should have australian type quotas.

    But, these people that believe in tight immigration and vote for the BNP doesnt make them automatically racist so will lull into voting for them thinking they stand for no more immigration, not deportation (which is what they really stand for, secretly, in the same way Hitler turned his party from a violent into a moderate party that wouldnt masscure the jews but then did).

    But after watching question i believe the BNP have really exposed themselves to who they really are and might get people, not in big waves, but a small miniority that would have voted for the BNP will feel uncomfortable now in this next election.

    Overall, good to have them on the show. A win for democracy and a defeat for political ignorance!

  9. Regardless of the outcome of Question Time, the BNP is unlikely to affect the outcome of the next election. However the last crop of polls have all been immediately before the announcement of negative GDP figures, so there is a good chance that any movement in the polls can be related to one event.

    I suspect that the outcome will be negative for Labour, as their “green shoots of recovery” narrative has just disappeared into the abyss of “the longest recession since records began”.

    Will the public discard Labour’s claim of the “best placed to recover” in favour of the more plausible “no boom only bust”?

  10. I think Nick Griffin’s bady language let him down. He was laughing all the time, and also looked really mad on more than one occasion. But he really blew it by defending David Duke in my opinion.

  11. Cynosarges

    “the BNP is unlikely to affect the outcome of the next election.”

    True – if the Tories avoid banan skins in England and polling stays at current levels. However, in a closer election could the BNP damage Labour sufficiently in Northern English seats to allow Tory/LD gains?

    Not an area in which I have any knowledge, but could that be the case?

  12. What we thought of the BNP’s performance is irrelervant. The real audience are those 7% who would consider voting BNP, and the 15% waievers. For me, I think the format was far too blatantly biased and will give the guy in the stockade a large sympathy vote.

  13. Well WMA is still 42:27:19 which rather emphasises the point that just because 3 polls on the same day agreed doesn’t mean that they were all right.

    YouGov has recently had a slight tendency to underestimate the CLead but only by 0.7 (since the start of Sept) and overall remains very accurate. The previously-noted stability of the state of the parties remains. Whether the dreadful economic news today will make any difference remains to be seen. Politically it should – but statistically it may well not

  14. It is a fact that 23% of live births in this country in 2007 were to foreign-born mothers (National Office of Statistics). The majority of immigrants are concentrated in big cities – latest figures for London are 54% of births are to women born outside the UK. Colour of skin is irrelevant.

    Does it make someone a racist to be a little concerned about this? The statistics do not count second and third generation immigrants. I find it quite easy to understand why the English in the areas largely populated by immigrants feel threatened, and the only party that seems to stand up for them is the BNP.

    I am surprised only by the low level of support for the BNP. As I have said on another thread, perhaps there are more ‘shy’ BNP voters than for other parties. I agree with Oldnat that they might well affect the result of seats in some inner city areas.





  16. Pete B

    Just did a quick check. The Scottish figures are pretty similar!

    21.5% of live births were to women born outwith Scotland.

    9.2% were to women born in England.
    0.9% to those born in NI.
    0.4% to those born in Wales.
    4.1% to those born in other EU countries.
    3.9% to those born in Commonwealth countries
    2.9% to those born in other countries.

    That’s stretched the Scottish NHS maternity services a bit – but they’re all very welcome.

    Your figures will have a different balance, of course, since you include London. I’m afraid that’s the other side of having one of the world’s great cities within your borders.

  17. The only reason NG didn’t answer questions is because he was constantly shouted-down. The audience and panel were a hand-picked joke.

  18. The Guardian has details of another poll (I think – it’s not worded very clearly), which would indicate that there has been a considerable but somewhat diffuse boost for the BNP. Figures:

    22% would “consider” voting BNP at a local, EU or general election – 4% who would “definitely” vote BNP, 3% “probable” and 15% “possible”.

    They also report that the YouGov/Telegraph poll found that two-thirds of voters would “never” vote BNP – but one-third might or definitely would.

  19. It seems to be the case over a period of time now that when Labour claw themselves up a little and get their heads to and just above the 30% mark, the next set of polls comprehensively kick the stool from under their feet.
    I am starting to wonder where and when the Labour party are going to get a chance to boost their poll ratings, only their core traditional inner city vote seems intact, and if people are threatened enough by the issue of immigration and asylum then even that could come under scrutiny.
    As it stands, David Cameron may not even need to take his gloves off. The first 150 target seats for the Tories look a dead cert.
    I think only finishing of Devon Lock proportions would stop them now.
    A lot of Labour voters i know seem keen to try and remind me that the boot was on the other foot in the lead up to the 1992 GE, but this is not the case.
    Labours lead was small and inconsistent ,and during the last two days of campaigning all but disappeared.(Largely thanks to Neil Kinnock landing a swift knockout blow on his own chin)
    Labour went on to poll just 35% in that election, i think that figure is going to be unobtainable for Gordon Brown.

  20. There is no doubt that Nick Griffen came across poorly on Question time. He was hopelessly inconsistent and evasive. He also could not expalin his way out of some of his own sinister utterences or shared appearances with the Ku Klux Klan.

    However, it was monumentally inept of Dimbleby to allow most of the programme to be devoted to the BNP and its appearance. Jack Straw was catestrophic.
    The end result was that Griffen was able to portray himself as a victim of a stitch up and bullying. As a real hater of the BNP and all they stand for I regret to say that I think he is right.

    Until the main parties really adress the real issues that stem from a prolonged period of uncontrolled immigration the likes of the BNP will continue to attract support from ordinary people.

    I also think opinion polls will not reflect the fact that BNP support tends to be in very concentrated areas. So a national support level of 3/4% fails to show that in certain towns and cities in the north particularly it’s support exceeds that of the main stream parties. Apparent bullying on Question time will serve only to harden that support .

  21. James – it’s the same poll, I refer to that question above.

    It would be wrong to conclude that it shows any increase in people saying they might be willing to vote BNP, since we don’t have any previous comparable questions.

    In 2006 YouGov did find 20% of people saying they would consider voting BNP, but that question had already asked them about a list of BNP policies, and only gave them the option of “seriously consider” voting BNP, not the less exactly option of “possiby consider”, is not comparable on two fronts.

  22. Anthony,

    Do you have any information on the breakdown in terms of current voting preferences of the 20%, who could possibly vote BNP.

    I would assume that most would be Labour supporters and least would be Lib Dem, but that is just opinion and not backed by facts.

  23. Thanks for the clarification, Anthony, though I don’t find it at all reassuring that two separate polls 4 years apart show that around a quarter of voters consider an overtly fascist party to be a viable possibility.

  24. Why is all in statistical format? What are the actual figures and how many people were polled? Where were the people polled?
    Without this information the poll is meaningless and open to any intrepretation journalists want to put on it.

  25. Can’t find the Poll ANYWHERE !

  26. To say you will ‘consider’ doing something, even ‘seriously consider’, does not mean that you necessarily think there’s any realistic chance that your consideration will result in your doing that thing. 78% of people would not *even* consider doing it…

  27. @ Wes – true. But it also suggests that under certain circumstances, a substantial minority could be fairly easily persuaded into it as they already think it’s acceptable.

  28. To return to this poll rather than having a political discussion

    I am slightly concerned about this poll which was published LESS than 24 hours after the Question Time programme which sparked it. Despite the obvious speed that internet polling allows, analysis, and weighting procedures all take time and need checking and frankly this is not sufficient time to carry that out and publish it. Normally the Telegraph tells us the number of people sampled and the dates of questionning. While the latter is there the former is not. In all the reports about the BNP it is passing strange that no figure is published of the proportion of the sample who actually watched the programme. (In due course this will be on YouGov’s website!)

    I would not treat this as a very serious piece of market research

  29. @Christina Speight – I would tend to agree, but none the less I am very worried. My view is that the BBC was right to air NG. They could not realistically bar a legally constituted and elected party – the error lies with the electoral law that allows a party to stand with a clearly racist constitution, and that is the fault of the political parties. Where the BBC have grossly miscalculated, along with the rest of the political elites, was in the show format. Yes, NG embarrassed himself much of the time, but what do his target voters care? The ‘BNP as victim of the liberal system’ image is just what they wanted, and will serve them well. I’ve often posted about what I see as the divorce between the political elite and the real world – do we realise that top rate taxpayers are amongst the highly privileged 10%, not some struggling group of ‘Middle England’ that desperately needs help? Everyone, Labour included, has become so insulated from reality that there is a real danger to the fabric of society. Immigration is championed by businesses and those who want to employ cheap cleaners and gardeners – it’s an economically ‘good thing’. Top company directors massive pay continues to increase regardless of performance. City bonuses are back, built on the backs of derivative trading and debt fuelled growth with apparently no regard to how the cirisis started or for the massive state aid that dug a bankrupt system out of it’s hole.
    To date, no one within the political system has grasped the anger swirling around. Unless one or all of the main parties really gets to grips with this, there is an open door for outsiders like the BNP, and then the dogs really would be let loose, with some pretty dreadfull consequences.

  30. @ Christina – “In all the reports about the BNP it is passing strange that no figure is published of the proportion of the sample who actually watched the programme.”

    This would be hard to quantify meaningfully. There are those who watched all or part of it live, others who will have watched it online after reading media reports, still others who will have watched only extracts (YouTube) or highlights (the BBC), and yet more who have read partial or complete transcripts on various sites. The impact and viewing of a TV programme is much wider and more complex nowadays that a conventional “who watched it?” question can cover.

  31. Alec – This is a POLLING blog – there are plenty of places to have a politivcal discussion.

    I am concerned that YouGov was driven by the need to demonstrate speed at the expense of accuracy. That questionnaire must been finalised before the lynch-party assembled – I hope it weasn’t answered before it was broadcast, How on earth in the time available – less than 24 hours could they possibly have done a proper sampling and structuring and publishing. That’s what I’m writing about.

  32. Christina

    I agree.

    Maybe Anthony can explain the mechanics, but if the polling was done post broadcast, then the panel may well have known in advance that they were going to be asked, and therefore, watched QT. There seems to have been too little time to get a sample which included lots of people who didn’t watch it.

  33. Christina

    A sample can be constructed in advance, it doesn’t come into it at all (it can’t be done that far in advance, because people join and – more importantly – leave the panel, but certainly it can be done several hours or days in advance.)

    Ditto the survey questionnaire, there are no questions there that needed to be written after the programme – nothing like “did you agree with what Jack Straw said about X”, it’s all stuff that could be written in advance and timed to go live when the programme finished,.

    Weighting procedures are largely automated. It depends on the sample size because of processing time, but really we are talking about 10 minutes. Ditto analysis – writing the syntax for it can take longer, but you can start doing that as soon as the survey structure is finalised, and then run the code when the survey has finished collecting data.

    Fancy bespoke cross breaks, complicated analysis and beautifully formatted tables would all take longer, but cleaning, weighting and producing standard tables really is a very quick process. Done it hundreds of times.

    Sample saize was 1314

  34. Anthony

    Thanks very much – that’s very helpful. You’ve settled the mechanistic queries, but it still strikes me that to pre-ordain the analysis in advance of getting the responses is like trying to squeeze a right hand foot into a left hand shoe. I was on the instant panel for the Cameron conference speech – answered the questionnaire the results of which were not published as such.

    The sample of 1314 was 1/3 down on its normal size presumably because that’s what the response was ? . Since that factor was unknown beforehand how could they do the pre-prepared weighting in advance ? If responses were that much down it could have been severely skewed. Or did they use the voting intention figures from their last poll as a rough-and-ready weighting process ?

    I can see that internet plus computerisation can speed things considerab;ly but this speed strikes me as excessive!

  35. @alexander anderson
    Rather than all this liberal blah blah blah (Griffiths is a buffoon ect) start seeing the real facts. If Griffiths IS A BUFFOON the BBC do right to show him and his “mob” up for what they are.
    The trouble is, the people betrayed by the liberal”elite” can see the liberal left for what they are. And it is not a pretty sight.

  36. I think it would be very interesting to have a similar poll about the other parties, or has this been done?
    i.e. What percentage would say there were ‘no circumstances’ where they would vote Labour, Tory etc. For what it’s worth, I suspect the Liberals might come best out of a poll like that.

  37. Pete B
    “I think it would be very interesting to have a similar poll about the other parties”

    How silly! It would be like the Telegraph poll suggesting very little of substance. No doubt commentators and at least one political party would use the results out of context to make a political point as has happened with the Telegraph poll

  38. The biggest winner from the BNP being on question time is Labour!

    For it is a great distraction from the historically worst piece of economic news, namely, that we have now entered the longest period of recession ever.

    It seems to me that Labour’s relative improved position is due primarily to a naive over-optimism about the economy and Labour’s forecasts concerning it.

    The reality almost certainly is that we will see about a 0.25 growth in the first quarter and about one point growth in the last quarter of next year.

    In the second half of the year the government will need to begin the process of cutting spending. This nonsense spoken by Brown that the Tories would cut spending NOW is a hypothetical impossiblity.

    Nevertheless, after this economic report I think we will have less nonsense talked in the media about green shoots of recovery and a more realistic perspective of the long way we have to go. This will make very difficult for Labour to rise above 27% in the polls.

  39. AW – forgive my ignorance, but is there any indication that the YouGov panel is made up of people generally more interested in politics. I ask, as I would imagine that those who take more interest in polics might reasonably be considered to be less inclined to support the BNP. If so, it may make this poll slightly more worrying (for non BNP voters). I assume YouGov would allow for this, but can you shed any light?

  40. @Mike
    You could make the same point about any poll. One party will claim that their share has gone up, while another will say that their rate of decline has reduced, etc etc. Politicians even say the same sort of thing about real elections, saying things like “Well we lost the whole of the south-west, but we did win Hull” or something similar.

    I just thought it might make an interesting change from the normal polls, and also give a reference point for this one. For instance, it could be that (say) 45% of people would say that they would never consider voting Tory, thus giving a theoretical ceiling to their possible share of the vote of 55%.

  41. Christina, on analysis I meant what we use the word for at work. Specificially, once we get a great big data set of individuals’ responses and weighted it, we call turning that weighed data into tables analysis. At the most basic level (and this would be the most basic level) all the coding needs is the question numbers, what type of questions they were (single option or multi options), the question text, and what the answer options were – then the software tots up the answers and you get the results. So you really don’t need any responses at all to plan it and write the code in advance, then once the data is complete, you run it.

    I guess you meant the more normal use of the word analysis though! The pollster doesn’t really do that, we just provide people’s responses to the questions and tabulate them. Deriving meaning from that and saying what it means is down to the client, the Telegraph in this case.

    You can’t weight in advance at all, you do indeed need to have all the respondents and their demographic data to do it. It just isn’t a task that takes very long to do, since it’s automated and the computer does the work.

    PeteB – I think questions like that have been asked quite often for the main parties. I don’t have a set to hand, but dig around and you’ll find some (and yes, you’re right, it shows most people would consider voting Liberal Democrat.

    Alec – YouGov have spent most of their existance allowing for that! Their recruitment targets non-political people (so will be through polls about sport, or shopping or pizza or whatever, or advertising on very unpolitical websites). When it comes to actual polling, weighting by newspaper readership (or non-readership) should also control it.
    Either way, on previous occassions when the BNP have increased their support, YouGov have tended to show higher support for them than other pollsters (presumably because of the lack of interviewer bias), so I don’t think you need to worry about them under-reporting BNP support.

  42. Anthony

    A technical question again!

    How do you deal with weighting by newspaper readership in Scotland, where the pattern is different. When I see the polling data, it looks like the Record, Herald, Scotsman etc are just basketed under others (or does that conceal a more sophisticated analysis?)

  43. I don’t think they are. The Record is definitely grouped with the Mirror, I expect the Herald and Scotsman are actually included with similar English papers for weighting purposes too. Can’t tell you for certain.

  44. Anthony

    Thanks. These picky Scots! (but take it as a compliment that polling matters).

    I note that you are right (of course) about the Record. Presumably the disparity in “other papers” between GB and Scotland in the YouGov weighting data is due to the strength of the Scottish regional press north of the Central Belt, which won’t correlate at all with political leanings.

    Still 30% of Scots being in other papers for Scottish polls seems an awfully high number if it’s being used for weighting purposes in political polling.

    Paper, GB, Sco
    Express/Mail, 21%, 13%
    Sun/Star, 22%, 15%
    Mirror/Record, 16%, 20%
    Guardian/Independent, 5%, 2%
    FT/Times/Telegraph, 8%, 5%
    Other Paper, 12%, 30%
    No Paper, 17%, 15%

  45. I have not got much of a unique additional contribution but have to join in to object at the ‘fake’ Jim Jam appearing again.
    Please can you use something else?
    Another no change poll for the headline figures.
    last weeks Labour 30% was never accurate and it looks like the Angus reid 40/23 was neither. (others too high at 17%)
    Re Economic news, it may hurt Labour for a day or 2 but figures have less saliance than real life experiences anyway.
    Darling’s own forecast only expected growth in the last 1/4 this year.

  46. BBC 24 and SKY News have been hammering home all day the 22% ‘could possibly’ voting figure for the BNP, rather than the actual 3%. It makes you wonder what the General Election coverage is going to be like?

  47. I’m sure I remember a YouGov poll from about 5 years ago which showed that 21% might consider voting BNP. If that’s right it means nothing much has changed since then.

  48. I think it is wrong for YouGov to include the BNP maongst three major parties in this poll. If we are to apply the Question Time criteria, then if the BNP are to be included in all polls then the Greens and UKIP MUST be included given that also have two MEP’s and won them on a bigger share of the vote than the BNP.

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