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. interesting – should be good to see the regional break down

  2. I believe Brown’s improvement amongst core Labour voters is not accidental. They are worried about Tory cuts !

    Expect the election turnout to be much higher than 61% – post Iraq. Labour voters will be returning in droves. How does “recall” play here ? For those, who did not vote in 2005 ?

  3. Anthony’s comments are, as usual, totally objective.

    However, the two aspects of Tory consideration to my mind are of no consequence. Why? Since the last Populus poll, the gap has widened 5 points.

  4. Surbiton has been making whacky cookies again and washing ’em down with cooking brandy.

    ‘Returning in droves’ etc.

    Meet the new Comical Ali, priceless. What about Darling’s ‘most severe cuts in 20 years’ etc.

  5. @ SURBITON

    “I believe Brown’s improvement amongst core Labour voters is not accidental. They are worried about Tory cuts ”

    I have not viewed the tables but, if Brown’s support has improved amongst labour core voters, they must have had a mass Exodus of another group(s) to give a 5 point widening.

  6. Before anyone asks, something has clearly gone pearshaped on the polling average. Looking at it now to try and work out what’s gone wrong.

    [UPDATE – all fixed and back to usual.]

  7. @SURBITON
    “I believe Brown’s improvement amongst core Labour voters is not accidental. They are worried about Tory cuts !”

    Really, and what are the 13% Populus Tory lead and16% Angus Reid Tory lead worried about ?
    Please note, Lord M of F & Mr Darling now mean Labour cuts.

  8. “all fixed and back to usual”

    Couldn’t have put it better myself

  9. Barry P – I think you’d have preferred the pear-shaped version, since it had a 15 point Tory lead!

  10. I think Cameron needs to explain that the lets all get married thing is to protect or try to protect the well being of children. It is not an idea dredged up to help the wedding dress industry. But to make some kind of return to “old fashioned” family life where a child might expect mum and dad to be there.
    This does not appear to be clear to some people.

  11. @ Anthony.

    If UK Polling Report Projection, in your, and others opinions, is a more realistic expectation of voting intention, transformed into a GE projection, what is your reasoning in using the seemingly less accurate Uniform Swing Projection?

    Apologies if this has been covered in earlier threads which I have missed.

  12. Anthony

    Does the Voting Intention Since 2005 Graph record every individual Poll-without averaging?
    Also is it updated immediately with each Poll?

    Thanks

    I use this much more than the column of poll results-& I’m watching that red line with intense interest.

  13. @ Anthony Wells

    “I think you’d have preferred the pear-shaped version, since it had a 15 point Tory lead!”

    No, I am a realist not an optimist. And, everything comes to he who waits.

  14. ROLAND-I agree with you. He doesn’t give the context as he should.

    Though his speech at DEMOS today on parenting gave a better rounded picture.

  15. COLIN – it’s a simple 5 poll rolling average.

  16. Barry P – as I mentioned, I haven’t had chance to develop the second projection properly as I’d wished (if I had, I’d have eventually replaced the UNS projection with it).

    I may do a more complex one at some point, but it will probably just be based on a combination of Scots, Welsh and GB polling, and factoring in incumbency. I would be unlikely to make any assumptions about tactial voting or larger swings in marginals since they would but just that – assumptions.

  17. Anthony.

    OK with that. Wasn’t sure if your accompanying comments with the forecasts were up to date.

  18. Thank you Anthony

  19. 15 polls since Dec 10th – averages:-
    Tory 40.4 Labour 27.9 LD 18.3
    = Con 350, Lab 228, LD 35 on a uniform swing as per Anthony’s swingometre.
    Factor in a 2% additional swing in marginals, = 383 v 203. (One commentator on an earlier thread noticed an 11.5% swing in the Midlands on the Sun poll which is 4.5% additional across the region, before factoring in anything, and even gets rid of some of the Yvette Coopers of this world.). In reality, a complete wipe out in ‘middle England’. I do wonder what really happened at the PLP meeting tonight where GB was to explain to the unemployed of May 7th how and why he had let this happen???

  20. No wonder the Times changed their original headline:

    ““Gordon Brown’s freefall has been partly reversed, poll suggests”

    To my way of thinking, Brown’s freefall can be slowed, stopped or reversed. How on earth you partly reverse it I cannot think.

    It’s recent effort seems more appropriate to the state of the current polls.

  21. Many thanks to those of you who answered my question about Scottish attitudes to the Tories on an earlier thread.

    A lot seems to have happened while I was out this evening!

  22. Anthony. Now that Angus Reid is in the club, should it not be a six poll rolling average?

  23. I believe this to be a more accurate reflection on the failed plot than the previous polls. I would expect the trend to continue for a couple more polls.

  24. Colin, Roland, others Re. marriage

    Marriage is a contract that protects the more vulnerable partner when a relationship breaks down. In that respect I consider it to be a good thing in general.

    However for the contract to be of value, there has to be accrued wealth – hence it’s a tory thing.

    If a couple are potless, marriage seems (to me) to be pointless.

  25. I think everyone is over-analysing sampling error. If you look at the polls mid December, and polls now, they are extremely similar.

    There was a brief rise in Labour WMA at the end of December/start of January, but this was mainly down to no Angus Reid polls being included.

    Sans AR, current WMA is 41/30/18, and the movement in Tory support is mainly due to fractional rounding.

  26. @Colin

    Try convincing me why you should include Angus Reid in an average, when its values are consistently outside any normal sampling error of the other 5?

    Are you trying to introduce skew (statistical or political) to the distribution? :-)

    As I’ve said before, for Angus Reid to be right about voting intention, 5 other companies have to be wrong by 4-5% on Labour – bigger than their margin of error. Therefore Angus Reid is wrong. AR might be showing something interesting about “support” for Labour versus Others (see its question), but a voting intention poll it is not.

  27. Why is it worrying that Cameron is seen as pro the wealthiest? The Tory philosophy is based on aspiration for all to join the wealthiest by dint of personal endeavour.The perception is accurate. The poorest aspire to join the wealthiest, and Cameron is the man to help them do so. Being on the side of the wealthy is the same as being on the side of the aspirational poor. Where’s the problem?

    I’ve still to hear a convincing argument as to why unearned wealth fits so snugly with the philosophy of self-betterment and character-building struggle through hardship to end up with just rewards and membership of the wealthy club.

    Perhaps the dichotomies in Cameron’s plan are keeping his lead around 15 points lower than it should be given the self-destruction of the governing party.

  28. The January 2005 Populus poll showed a split of;

    Con 33% Lab 38% Lib-Dem 20% Con Lead -5

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/historical-polls/voting-intention-2001-2005

    Changes at the general election were;

    Con -1 Lab -3 Lib-Dem +2

    So, if the same was to happen this year we’d finish up with an election result of;

    Con 40% Lab 25% Lib-Dem 21% Con Lead 15%

  29. @ shopkeeper
    “If a couple are potless, marriage seems (to me) to be pointless.”

    To the couple, perhaps. To wider society, though? Increased stability of the family unit potentially reduces all manner of costs (criminal, health, benefits, etc), as well as reducing the need for quite suck large increases in the housing stock.

    Cameron needs to make it absolutely clear that his policy has nothing to do with empty “moralising”, and everything to do with the social and economic arguments. Failure to do so will end up stoking the ire of liberals and atheists everywhere. His message on his hasn’t been clear thusfar, and it will affect how he is perceived.

  30. No sign that Labour support is much above 30% right now (and I suspect it might be somewhat less). Hung parliament seems to be receding.

  31. @John TT

    “I’ve still to hear a convincing argument as to why unearned wealth fits so snugly with the philosophy of self-betterment and character-building struggle through hardship to end up with just rewards and membership of the wealthy club.”

    I think the point is that most people who have made (or inherited) money would like to pass it on to future generations of their family. For instance, I am a member of a family who have founded and lost businesses, saved and invested and lost money over many generations, and I have tried to do my bit to add to the wealth. The total (not all of which is in my hands) is about half a million. I would rather that the bulk of this goes to my children rather than the government. Is that wrong?

  32. Cliff

    I keep asking this question of the Tories, but never get a sensible answer.

    Supporting the “family unit” (including children) makes sense. Why do you want to give a tax advantage to couples who choose not to have children?

  33. @OLDNAT

    Something else that the Tories might have to explain to the wider public opinion.

    Let’s say we have a married couple, Joseph and Josephine Bloggs, with two children. Who appear blissfully happy. out of the blue, Josephine decides to leave Joe, and set up home with Jane Doe. Joe keeps custody of the children. A few years down the line after Joe and Josephine’s divorce comes through, Josephine and Jane enter a Civil Partnership. Because of the commitment they have shown, the state decides to reward their family unit. Meanwhile poor Joe, who couldn’t be more committed to his family unit if he tried, receives nothing, because the state believes his family unit devalues society.

  34. With AR included, the rolling average lead would, I think, be13.

  35. @OLDNAT

    I think a more relevant question is whether giving a tax allowance to married couples is going to persuade people (mostly men) to change their behaviour by settling down & becoming responsible committed parents. That presumably is the objective and if it can’t do that, then it’s a waste of money and is just a reward to a group of people who are in stable long-term relationships anyway. It frankly isn’t a big enough incentive to have any significant effect.

  36. I wonder whether the improvement in Brown’s leadership ratings reflects growing popularity or the realisation that there’s a paucity of viable alternatives in the Labour ranks. Johnson turned out to be a damp squib. David Milliband increasingly looks like a vacillating fool, always hovering in the shadows clutching a banana and waiting for someone else to deal Brown a death-blow. Every failed coup shows up not only Brown’s weakness but also the feebleness of his potential assassins and successors.

  37. @ James Ludlow

    “Every failed coup shows up not only Brown’s weakness but also the feebleness of his potential assassins and successors.”

    I agree entirely.

    The backbone in any likely leadership contender is conspicuous in it’s absence. This puts Brown in a virtual unassailable position as leader, possibly one of the best weapons in the Tory armoury.

  38. Statto, if AR are part of the British Polling Council (which they are now) then they ought to be included.

    Excluding a polling company because they consistently come up with different results to the others (and AR aren’t actually that different) is bad practice.

  39. @ C.L.A.D

    “Because of the commitment they have shown, the state decides to reward their family unit. Meanwhile poor Joe, who couldn’t be more committed to his family unit if he tried, receives nothing, because the state believes his family unit devalues society.”

    Couldnt Joe get married again.

  40. Pete B – No, it’s not wrong to want to give half a mil to your descendants, but it just doesn’t square with the idea that people should make their own money with their own endeavours.

    My argument comes clearer if you apply scale to it. Half a mil, OK, but 50 mil? 500 mil? And what would life be like if IHT went to 100% above a certain threshold?

    What has this to do with the polls? I just think it’s (IHT) one of those policies that doesn’t smell quite right and might just bite Osborne in the Balls during the GE campaign.

  41. I think , as the dust has settled, we are back to where we were in mid Dec. The sad thing for Labour moral is the percived narrowing towards a hung Parliament has been a mirage. We have a very long campaign in the offing and I suspect there will be a little to-ing and fro-ing with the soft left dithering between Labour and the Liberals. But when it comes to the hard choices of the GE, and a lowish turnout, the Tories will come away with a majority of around 60-80 seats.

  42. I believe Anthony should be asked if he believes AR is a valid voting intention poll. If yes, the results should be in the average, if no he should give us(and AR, and Mike Smithson) his reasons why not. There have been occasions in the past when all the polls have over-stated the Labour vote, much to their own embarassment. The consistency of the AR figures relates now to a very large sample, even if it is spread over several months. AR is telling us that voting intentions are not as volatile as other polls suggest – true or false? Time we found out.

  43. For the sake of clarity, I believe the tory position is NOT about rewarding marriage but making sure that it is no longer penalised…

  44. @ Glenn Otto

    “I think , as the dust has settled, we are back to where we were in mid Dec. The sad thing for Labour moral is the percived narrowing towards a hung Parliament has been a mirage. We have a very long campaign in the offing and I suspect there will be a little to-ing and fro-ing with the soft left dithering between Labour and the Liberals. But when it comes to the hard choices of the GE, and a lowish turnout, the Tories will come away with a majority of around 60-80 seats.”

    I very much agree with you on the above. I think this is very realistic.

  45. The fact that there has not been a significant movement in the topline figures for some weeks, despite a flurry of announcements and turbulent headlines, suggests the electorate remains extremely apathetic.

    In my opinon we may not see significant changes in support until the official campaign – and the televised debates – begin in earnest. What could be a key factor in deciding whether the Tories can gain a majority, and if so how big, is the performance of Nick Clegg on the televised debates.

    Out of interest, does anyone know whether there are more Lab/Lib or Con/Lib marginals?

  46. @ EDWARD

    “In my opinon we may not see significant changes in support until the official campaign – and the televised debates – begin in earnest. What could be a key factor in deciding whether the Tories can gain a majority, and if so how big, is the performance of Nick Clegg on the televised debates.”

    True but given the LD’s current polling it would have to a huge performance by Mr Clegg and even then it is extremely likely that it would take votes away from Labour and not so much from the Tories.

  47. @JOHN TT
    “Why is it worrying that Cameron is seen as pro the wealthiest? The Tory philosophy is based on aspiration for all to join the wealthiest by dint of personal endeavour.The perception is accurate. The poorest aspire to join the wealthiest, and Cameron is the man to help them do so. Being on the side of the wealthy is the same as being on the side of the aspirational poor. Where’s the problem?”

    I absolutely agree with every word you write. What sort of a world is it, where some people see the X Factor as their only salvation from a s….y life ?

  48. For the benefit of those deeply unfortunate Fabians who have made or inherited “loadsa money” along with their socialist principals, they can always leave their money to the Labour Party. I understand they need it quite badly at present and political parties are IHT exempt.

  49. @ Mark Rose

    I wasn’t making a judgement either way. I was wondering whether there are more Lab/Lib marginals or more Con/Lib marginals. If it is the former then a boost in Lib Dem support resulting from the televised debates is likely to help the Tories gain an overall majority by taking seats from Labour in the North. If it is the latter then a similar boost to the Lib Dems could undermine the chances of a Tory majority by taking or holding seats from them in the South.

    I’m not sure I agree with you about the size of any such boost. Most political commentators believe that the big winners from these debates could be the Lib Dems because it will give them an unprecedented platform. Even with a modest swing of ~2% from one of the main parties to the Lib Dems as a result of the debates could be the difference between a hung parliament and an overall majority.

  50. Rpland Haines, they have principles not principals, if you are going to criticise do get it right. So Gordon Brown’s personal ratings have improved slightly. Could this be the sympathy factor or a realisation that he is made of stern stuff and will weather any storm, including a snow storm? As for the recent polls, it would have been surprising if we hadn’t seen the blip in Labour fortunes after the Hoon-Hewitt debacle.

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