Populus’s monthly poll for the Times is out here. The topline figures from Populus’s last poll at the beginning of December are CON 41%(+3), LAB 28%(-2), LDEM 19%(-1).

The poll was carried out over the weekend, so after Labour’s leadership ructions had chance to have an impact. It shows larger shift back to the Conservatives than ICM and YouGov did, but that’s comparing it to a previous Populus poll that had a somewhat low Conservative score compare to others at the same time. Still this is the highest Tory score and lead from Populus since October, and three out of four polls since the attempted coup have now shown some movement away from Labour.

The failed coup does, however, seem to have provoked some sympathy for Brown himself. 41% of people now think Brown is the best leader Labour could have at the moment, and amongst Labour voters 71% think he is their best option (though, of course, there are fewer Labour voters than in October. It’s a bigger slice of a smaller pie). His personal ratings have also improved – the Times appears to have re-asked a series of questions on the party leaders they asked in their conference poll and found such chunky rises in the proportions of people who think Brown is strong, decisive and substantial (if they were asked in the same way as they were in September then we should have some interesting data on Cameron and Clegg too when the full tables are published).

Brown is, however, still regarded as a drag on the Labour party. 64% of people prefer David Cameron to the Conservative party, with 24% thinking the opposite. In comparison 49% think Brown is worse than Labour, with only 43% thinking he is better.

There are a couple of worrying findings for the Conservatives. Firstly 50% of people think Cameron is more on the side of the rich than “ordinary people”, compared to 64% of people who Brown is more on the side of “ordinary people”. There is also a negative reaction to the Conservative policy of supporting marriage – 40% of people think it is right for the government to actively support marriage, but 57% thought it was not the place for the government to promote one lifestyle choice over another. Even amongst Tory supporters, there was a very substantial minority (41%) who disagreed.

UPDATE: Heh. The original headline for the poll in the Times was “Gordon Brown’s freefall has been partly reversed, poll suggests”, and concentrated on the leadership findings, largely sidelining the headline voting intentions. Now the headline has been switched to “Poll shows failed coup hit Labour hopes hard”.

UPDATE2: The “changing” headline wasn’t changed after all apparently – the coup headline was the big frontpage headline for the poll, the Gordon’s rating headline was for Peter Riddell’s briefing inside.

217 Responses to “Populus have Tory lead up to 13”

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  1. John B Dick,

    It was John TT who denied the existence of humility among politicians of any sort. My response was an attempt to disprove him by pointing out that

    a – I attempt humility – but I don’t pretend to be a champion thereof,

    b – I am a politician of sorts, being an elected councillor.

    As to arguments over governance and independance -I doubt I can persuade you, but the Union is not as frail as you appear to believe from your insular vantage. Perhaps you need to get out and around Scotland a bit more.


  2. As a Scotsman, take it from me that I am one of a fairly large group who would want to move to England if “Independence Day” became a reality.

  3. Old Nat,

    “All very interesting – but none of you have any polling evidence to suggest whether other English people agree with your various views or not.”

    You are indeed correct. That is probably because it is not (yet) a hot issue here, rather than one on which their utter unanimity.

    The only polling evidence we do have is that, when asked in a referndum, the people of teh NE rejected regionalism.

  4. Neil,

    How fairly large a group do you think that is in a nation with 4m adults?

    Hundreds, Thousands, tens or hundreds of thousands. it’s an often made remark by the supporters of one party or view or another but does it make sense in practical terms.

    Regardless of the sentiment if we did get and win an independence referendum I doubt that many people North of the Border this time next year , as we emerge from recession, would be giving up jobs and selling homes in a depressed market to move South to an at least equally depressed housing market with few jobs to be found.

    I remember a friend of mine being confronted by a businessman if Fife on the same issue and when told that the guy would move to Liverpool or manchester if we were Independent.

    SO he asked….

    “Whats you business” to which the reply was ” I fix washing machines” … to which my mate said;

    ” So do you think a lot of people from Leven and Kirkcauldy will be calling you out to come and fix their washing machines if you live in Manchester”.

    Like all these claims they sound good as rhetoric but they don’t really bare close scrutiny.


  5. Peter,

    Your argument holds equally true in refutation of the oft touted view that should Britain leave the EU we would lose millions of jobs supposedly dependant on trade with the EU..

  6. Paul,

    Not quite, as the EU argument is about the impact on trade and potential barriers to it of being outside the single market where as the “I am leaving” argument is about established businesses moving out of fear rather than a substantial business case.

    Although a strong supporter of the EU ( which doesn’t stop it often making me want to pull my hair out) I’ve never really bought the argument that businesses would pack up or cut investment although I suspect the pattern of long term development would have been different.

    I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had stayed out of the single market we would have seen less inward industrial development but more growth in the city over the last few decades.

    I suspect that whoever was in government under that scenario, Labour or Tory, they would have lauded their approach and taken all the credit they could for it, but post the banking crisis we would be right up the creek without a paddle now.


  7. Paul (and John ) – I simply suggested “benevolence” was a better word than humillity in the context of conflict resolution for the simple reason that benevolence wins arguments whereas humility is more to do with losing them gracefully.

  8. I agree with Davey’s response to me on Tuesday that the LibDems, as well as the Tories (perhaps even more than the Tories) should be doing better. But I am not surprised that the LibDems performance is lacklustre.

    The problem with all three major parties is that they have become trapped in the international and big business systems which have manifestly failed as shown by recent banking crises, amongst other things. Yes, of course we live in a global economy and must work constructively with other democracies, but it is up to political leaders to find ways of coping with the problems it causes for the UK. But this is actually very difficult for the LibDems because the very foundation of the international economic mess is that it is based on the inadequate and outdated economics of British liberalism (think Bentham, Mill and, to some extent – becuase he did have some answers – Keynes, all of them LIberals).

    It would have helped the LibDems if they had concentrated more on social liberalism and less on economic liberalism.

    Another issue for the LibDems is that for an alternative to the big two parties their leaders are remarkably “establishment”, lacking a Unique Selling Point to contrast with the, probably deliberately, “big idea”less Cameron Tories.

    Given my previous post it is interesting that Gordon Brown picked up yesterday on the Tory posters, albeit on the photograph rather than the words. My impression is that the Prime Minister had one of his best PMQs for ages.

  9. The bit about leaving the EU causing job losses is pure scaremongering. The number of endagered jobs would cut both ways. The would make the europeans reasonable.

  10. John TT,

    If I accept your argument, does that make me humble or benevolent ? At this risk of not being gracious, may I point out the subtle distinction between humility and meekness ?

    Humility requires us to recognise the limits of what we can do alone, whereas meekness leads us to accept the will of others.

    Humility causes us to seek common ground with others so that we can work together to achieve more than we could do alone. Meekness would lead us to accept that we are in a minority, and so must put up with the views of the majorioty, however wrong or misguided we believe them to be.

    In politiical terms, this is what Ms Goldie has done at Holyrood where she has achieved far more than the LDs who have similar numbers.

    Contrast this with the search for political dividing lines as pursued by Brown & Balls – an aprroach which is not only negative, but destructuve.

  11. @ OLD NAT :-

    “but none of you have any polling evidence to suggest whether other English people agree with your various views or not.”

    Well it turns out that this does exist.
    Thanks for prompting me to look for it.

    The National Centre for Social Research produce “British Social Attitudes” periodically.
    The 25th Report is available on line-published in 2009-data annually to 2007.

    The tables are numerous & detailed.

    Here are a few of the findings for & conclusions from 2007 data :-

    (Questions are to respondents living in England.)

    Multiple choice national identity:-
    British 68%
    English 57%
    Both 34%

    Forced choice national identity:-
    British 47%
    English 39%

    ” Most people in England have some sense of being both British & English. There is no evidence of a secular increase since 1999 in the proportion saying they are English, not British”.

    Degree of pride in “region”
    Very/somewhat proud 48%
    Don’t think of self that way 44%
    Not very/at all proud 7%

    How should Scotland be governed?
    Remain in UK,/own parliament/some tax powers 36%
    Independent, seperate from UK 19%
    Remain in UK without own parliament 18%
    Remain in UK/own parliament/no tax poers 12%

    Constitutional preference for England
    Governed as now/ laws by UK parliament 57%
    New ,England Parliament /law making powers 17%
    Regional Assemblies running Health etc 14%

    “It seems that even after a decade elsewhere in UK, England does not want devolution for itself”

    Scottish MPs should not vote on English legislation.
    Agree 36%
    Strongly agree 25%
    Neither agree/disagree 17%
    Disagree 10%

    “So while England may not want devolutionfor itself, some of the apparent anomalies thrown by asymetric settlement, may still be a source of discontent”

    Perceived impact of Holyrood on how Britain is governed:-
    No difference 55%
    Worse 14%
    Improved 12%

    ” For the most part we have uncovered relatively little evidence of an English “backlash”. An apparent intial trend in 1999 towards feeling more English & less British has not been sustained. Moreover eight years of experience of seeing devolution in action seems to have done little to persuade people in England to emrace devolution for themselves, while they still appear willing to accept it’s existence in Scotland & Wales. That experience certainly seems to have done nothing to reduce public support for the continuance of the Union.
    This is at least in part because most people in England do not think that devolution has made much difference to how Britain is governed, while they are still inclined to feel that the UK government looks after England’s interests”


  12. Colin,

    Well done for finding that. Most informative, and yet not in the least bit surprising.

    Ironically, one of the perverse consequences of having the SNP in power at Holyrood is that, the more successful they are, the less obvious the need to change the (current) status quo, whereas if they mess things up or deliberately cause ructions with Westminster, that will rebound on them electorally at local council as well as Holyrood level, never mind in terms of an independance referendum.

    One might be cruel and call this a “lose-lose” situation for the SNP, but in reality, it is a “win-win” for the people of Scotland. They get better devolved government plus the benefits of being in the Union.

  13. Paul – meekness is another word that to me is useless because it is the opposite of what is needed for a successful negotiation. Meekness and humility (to me) signify weakness. Benevolence and altruism can accommofdate strength, a most important pre-requisite for a sustainable negotiating position.

    The Balls/Brown demeanour is not generally perceived as benevolent, because of the perception that they are not in it for the greater good but for their own singular purpose.

    If you in the course of debate in the chamber adopt a benevolent, understanding, strong position with a sense of purpose and a sound ethical motive, you will have a greater chance of success (which necessarily will satisfy your fellow councillors all round) than if you occupy your position with meekness and humility.

    I feel I should invoice you!

  14. Paul – If you can be strong and humble, then fine, I accept your point, all I’m advocating is the use of strong words in a wold that needs strong, honest leaders

  15. Paul – it’s a bit late. Of course you were saying that meekness is not a good thing, whereas humility is, and that I’d mistakenly interpreted humility as meekness.

    Not so. I’d sooner talk in terms of nobility than humility.

    And don’t get me started on the inheritance rights of the meek :)

  16. Colin said:

    They get better devolved government plus the benefits of being in the Union.

    Clears throat and decides not to say anything.

  17. @ JR TOMLIN

    I can’t actually find the phrase you attribute to me.

    But you perhaps misunderstood my post.

    Those comments are in quote marks because they are taken from the National Centre for Social Research study.

    They summarise findings from the English people who were asked the questions contained in the study.

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