Just to illustrate a post I made a fortnight or so ago. At the time Jackie Ashley was assuring us that Labour’s private polling “suggests that Labour could return to the Commons with just 120 MPs or thereabouts, taking the party back to 1930s territory.” To reduce Labour to 120 seats the Conservative would have needed a lead of about 28 points.

Today though, James Macintyre assures us that Labour’s private polling shows they are now ahead.

So… Labour have made up a deficit of around 28 points? In a fortnight? Either Labour’s private polling figures are so comically volatile as to be worthless, or one or both of you have been sold a pup, haven’t you?

Once again, please ignore any journalist claiming to have seen parties’ private polling showing X, unless they quote actual figures. If they do quote actual figures, go and contact the pollster responsible and request the release of the tables under the BPC disclosure rules so you can see for yourself what they actually say.

UPDATE: James now says Labour’s private polling doesn’t show them ahead. It shows a trend that he or his source interpret as showing that Labour will be in front by next year. Since there’s still no actual figures or tables for you to draw your own conclusions from, you should still ignore it.


35 Responses to “Labour’s private polling update!”

  1. It’s potentially possible that both journalists, friendly to Labour, have heard what they wanted to hear in order to make the point they wanted to make. Ashley wants to rally the troops in the face of overwhelming odds; McIntyre, to assuage fears that the battle is already lost.

  2. Another explanation could be the ‘party X’s private polling’ actually means what some minor party member has told a journalist what he/she found while canvassing on a wet Tuesday night in some unknown estate somewhere. After all, journos aren’t always wonderfully accurate in their articles.

  3. Some of the comments following Macintyre’s article are hilarious.

    Perhaps I need a tinfoil hat but I’m starting to think that there’s a little cabal of pro-government hacks who’ve hatched a plan to pretend that Brown is really a winner in the vain hope that this will magically transform him into one. It’s a bit like the “sympathetic magic” idea described in The Golden Bough – the practice of weeing on the corn during a drought in the belief that this will prompt rain to fall.

  4. I’ve conducted my own private poll (sorry, statistical data not actually available) which returned a potential share of the votes as C 60% L 0% LD 10% No one 30%.

    Just in case that informs this particular debate. Despite the miraculous upsurge in Labour’s fortunes, this has yet to reach my sample group.

  5. Anthony

    Do you know whether there are any pollsters conducting voting intention surveys now for release in a few days to give us an idea as to whether MORI’s was heavily influenced by the Glasgow NE by-election or whether it is the beginning of a trend?

    Secondly, once the Mori figures are taken into consideration shouldn’t the WMA be something like 39:28:18 rather then 40:27:18 as the Tories from being 42 in the previous ICM Poll are down to 37 with some other pollsters recently putting them on 38 and 39 per cent?

    And likewise with Labour should they be on 28 per cent due to more then one poll putting them on 29 per cent with MORI’s been on 31 per cent?

    Could you explain how you calculate the WMA please?

  6. “I’ve conducted my own private poll (sorry, statistical data not actually available) which returned a potential share of the votes as C 60% L 0% LD 10% No one 30%.

    Just in case that informs this particular debate. Despite the miraculous upsurge in Labour’s fortunes, this has yet to reach my sample group.”

    You need to get some new friends!

  7. I think it might well be possible for Labour to be ahead next year.

    This time next year that is , when it will be too late.

  8. Richard,

    Not that I know of, but that doesn’t mean that lots aren’t. I certainly don’t get told when MORI, ICM, Populus etc put a poll in the field!

    If you click on the “…MORE” under the polling average there’s an explanation of how it is calculated. It is not a straight average, it is based on the age of the poll, the track record of the pollster, the weighting used, whether the tables were publicly released, etc.

  9. So, Labour’s private polling figures improve a little, and an extrapolation of this trend through to May would put them ahead in the polls.

    Why stop there? Let’s extrapolate this trend forward to the 2014/5 general election – Labour are surely on track to be polling 100% of the vote by then.

  10. John T T

    I think you are probably right.

    By November 2010 Labour may well be back in front. And, as you say, by then it will be too late.

    Labour are as disliked now as the Conservatives were in 1997. And in perhaps 10 years from now, we will see Labour win another landslide.

    What a temporary favour political favour is!

  11. Very droll comments all round.

    However one wishes to take the MORI poll (with a large pinch of salt is my suggestion), if it is supported by others in the coming weeks it should not be any great surprise.

    Commentators and wiser heads from all side of the political spectrum agree that the closer to an election we come, the sharper will the voting public begin to view the contenders.

    Labour have had a ‘good’ month: not so much the benefits of Glasgow NE but something as simple as not having any crises explode on them. The Gordon Brown army letter threatened to be one such event but turned into a kind of positive for him (although I agree with Andrew Rawnsley that pity is not a vote-winner).

    The party in government will benefit from any period of stability, as it enhances the idea that the country is under control and being managed competently. We should remember that what began to damage Brown’s authority so horribly in 2007 was not necessarily the abortive election but the litany of cock-ups and governmental incompetence that hogged the media limelight.

    Labour is being written off far too easily by Tory commentators. Whilst it is still the Conservative lead to lose, there seems to have been the real danger of their high command hoping to ride a wave of ‘change at any cost’ into 10 Downing Street.

    Now Labour have had a breathing space, it is up to Darling to capitalise with a serious and honest Pre-Budget Report.

    Once again I’ll say, if there is a run of polls putting Labour/Tories support at or within a 10% spread by the end of the year, then it is game on.

  12. Warofdreams – I don’t want this to turn into a pick on James Macintyre discussion, he’s making a lonely stand out there and getting enough of a slating on his own blog.

    The point is more to underline just how meaningless rumours of “private polls” can be when within a fortnight of each other journalists can draw polar opposite conclusions from this same mystery source that we are not allowed to judge for ourselves. If there are no numbers, ignore it.

    That said, your point about drawing long term trends from short term movements is very true. It is not normally a useful thing to do.

  13. “a serious and honest Pre-Budget Report. ”

    Well that would be interesting.

  14. Darling and serious/honest budget report in the same sentence? Oxymoron surely

  15. I agree Colin. It would really set the early GE campaign alight and force tough policy decisions from other parties.

    It is a big if tho…

  16. Gentlemen,

    Let’s keep the partisanship for the ding-dong threads please.

  17. “then it is game on”

    You’re not Chris Newey in a Scooby Doo costume are you? He always used to make comments like yours with the phrase “it is game on” in them somewhere.

  18. No, I am Cap’n Scooby, close relative of Cap’n Bob and commander of the Mystery Machine.

    I don’t know who Chris Newey is but if he wants to challenge me for the right to make inspirational chit-chat, then it is game on.

  19. Has this the site been hacked by the the Labour party.

  20. @Colin – “Has this site been hacked by the Labour party” – are you getting unwanted pop-ups; political ads or whatever?

    I’ve seen it happen on BNP/ UAF websites, where they ad-bomb each other until the site crashes. But UK Polling Report seems an unlikely target for disgruntled lefties

    Anthony – I have experienced no problems myself today.

  21. Was the Mori poll comissioned before or after the Sun story over the PM’s letter to soldiers mother? If after, this may explain the solidifying in the labour vote; nothing will galvanise the base more than a feeling that there leader is being treated un fairly, regarless as to whether the Sun’s attack was vlid or not.

  22. New Angus Reid poll:

    C – 39% (+1%)
    Lab – 22% (-3%)
    LD – 21% (+1%)

  23. Here we go again-so MORI was rubbish then?

  24. The new Angus Reid poll could be a rogue, but it does demonstrate what Anthony has been saying on private polling.

    I really haven’t seen anything in the media recently that might be expected to cause any large swings in the polls one way or the other.

  25. Labour’s vote goes from one extreme to the other. They could well be in third place in England in this poll given their strength over the LDs in Scotland and Wales.

  26. Anthony

    Do you have any info on this new poll? Do you know when the survey was undertaken?

  27. Is Lab down 2 or down 3 on the last Angus Reid?

  28. Al J:

    They’ve got a thread running on this poll on the Political Betting website.

  29. Thanks Andy S

  30. All those agonised comments of the last few days about hung parliaments & constitutional niceties.!

    I’ve decided Mori was wrong.
    It was the one out of line with what went before-and what came after.

    You have to believe in something solid or you’re mentally dashing all over the place.

    Cameron has a lead of ten points minimum / fifteen points maximimum & it’s pretty stable & has been for some time now.

    Polling variations between those two are a combination of slight shifts in opinion & MoE.

    Polling variations outside those two are flaws in methodology.

    Thats what I’m going to believe.

  31. Thats more like it-lol
    Although AR is quite a bit different than all the others!!

  32. It is not inconceivable that Brown’s poll rating has lifted a little. He has been on TV news on a daily basis since the Conservative conference.
    In contrast, until the last couple of days, Cameron has been on one of his famous disappearing tricks.
    I wonder where he goes ?

  33. James Macintyre is a pup.

  34. The MORI POLL 6 days before the London Mayor Election…

    Mayoral Voting Intention – First preference

    Johnson 38 (%) Livingstone 41 (%)

    Ipsos MORI/Unison 24/04/08

    I rest my case

  35. Dan – following the London mayoral election MORI carried out a significant methodological review to find out what went wrong. They made two significant changes on the back of it – firstly they shifted from face-to-face to telephone polling, secondly they started weighting by public or private sector employment.

    It would not be fair to judge them on polls conducted before those corrections.