A third new poll today, this one from YouGov in the Daily Telegraph. YouGov show a further narrowing of the Conservative lead, with topline figures of CON 38%(-2), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 19%(+1).

Unlike MORI’s poll the changes are well within the margin of error, but it’s a further whittling away of the Tory lead. This is the smallest Conservative lead from YouGov since the Labour conference (and one needs to go all the way back to December 2008 to find a smaller one).

The Telegraph’s own report of the poll isn’t up yet (this is from Reuters), but hopefully we will get the normal YouGov/Telegraph trackers and will be able to see exactly what affect the end of the recession had on economic confidence, and whether that might have contributed to the narrowing polling lead.

UPDATE: Here are some of those economic figures I was waiting for. YouGov’s economic optimism figure is up to minus 10 from minus 13 a month ago, so up since December but not actually by very much. There was a more significant rise in the proportion of people who thought the government’s measures to tackle the recession had begun to work – up to 22% from 15% a month ago.


105 Responses to “YouGov show Tory lead cut to 7 points”

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  1. It has to be down to the economy.

    People will not be keen to choose the Conservative approach which plans to slash spending as soon as they are in office.

    Such immediate cuts are being perceived as a direct risk to the recovery.

    And people will not vote for that en masse.

    The Conservatives can recover by simply promising to cut when necessary and not before.

    But will they make that promise?

  2. I think the slight decline in the Tories’ lead has more to do with a perception of a poor performance by Cameron in recent weeks, rather than any actual policy or events. People back a winner, and for really the first time since he took over Cameron has been portrayed as a bit shaky. The question is whether he can steady the ship and resume his previous smooth progression.

    Brown has probably been helped by the confluence of Haiti and the Afghanistan conference. Haiti put people in sombre “we all have to pull together” mood, and then the conference (same theme, different region) was well choreographed. I don’t suppose the decision to hold a conference now, and in London, was exactly random but it would be churlish to argue that it was for electoral gain given that it was actually necessary.

    All of this garnered fairly positive attention for Brown at a time when the only real mention of Cameron was in relation to Tory disagreement over marriage/tax policy.

    I think the “end of the recession” is such a double-edged sword that it probably cancels itself out. Those that fear Tory cuts will stop the recovery will be more likely to back Labour if times are bad. Those that blame the economy on the government are more likely to back Labour if times are good.

  3. I think Colin is right – if the Tories fall consistently below 40% they will be in trouble (in terms of a majority) regardless of the marginals. Labour’s problem is that while they might be at the top end of their recent range, they are still struggling to break through the 30 – 31% barrier. Unless they can do this, the best they can hope for is to deny Cameron a majority. Looking at the Ipsos Mori poll, I increasingly place this in the same basket as ComRes. The last 4 monthly IP polls have given leads of +17, +6, +17 and now +8. I cannot see any logical reason for such wild swings except for methodology, so I personally am seriously questioning attaching any importance to polls from IP and ComRes.

    Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be any Chilcot effect whatsoever. I suppose this doesn’t surprise me – the arguments are old and well aired, if important. I for one was struck by the complete absence of cabinet government over Iraq – the issue of legality was never discussed and the cabinet never heard that the legal advice changed. I find that astonishing, and the progressive failure of cabinet government is one reason why we have had so many poor policy decisions in recent years. What I find equally astonishing is that Cameron is doing exactly the same thing before he even gets to No 10. He hasn’t learned the lessons of bad governance, and his shadow team have to read the newspapers to find out what their departmental policies are if reports are to be believed. Cameron/Osborne’s arrogance with their own MPs and shadows further convinces me that their honeymoon will be very short and the Tories will not have a happy time in office.

  4. Very interesting. I think a pestigious site like this moving to show a hung parliment will finaly get the attention of the ratings agencies. Just for fun I predict a downgrade of UK soverign debt within 10 working days.

  5. DAVID IN FRANCE

    “It has to be down to the economy”

    Once again you are jumping to conclusions based on limited evidence.

    Suppose, hypothetically, the Con lead has actually been a constant 10% for the last few months. If this was the case then just random sampling would mean we should expect some polls with leads in the region of 7% (bear in mind Nov 09 there were 2 Tory leads of 7% & one of 8%). The new Ipsos-Mori & YouGov polls do not in themselves prove a significant drop in Tory support.

    In fact Ipsos-Mori has recently had recently such huge variations – Tory leads of 17%,12%, 17%, 6%,17%, 8% – that it’s creditability is at risk. YouGov could very well be random noise.

    While you have little faith in AR (and I accept it may be overstating the Tory lead) it is providing some consistent evidence that the Tory lead has fallen a little since October 2009 and is now relatively stable.

  6. If these YouGov figures were to be borne out as the final General Election result I would expect Brown to remain in office with a minority Labour Govt – despite the Tories having 20 more seats.I believe he would have a good chance of persuading the LibDems and Nationalist parties to support him on an issue by issue basis. In a Hung Parliament – particularly one as badly hung as these figures imply – the incumbent would have the advantage.

  7. ‘Economy’; I keep pointing out that politics is complex and the economy is not the be all and end all of answers most noticeably shown by the Tory party of Australia being ejected from govt at the height of the boom.

    Why? There is also a very strong ‘time for a change’ mood in electorates– after about a decade in power people are just sick of seeing the same old faces and policies (whatever Labour people will argue they are merely tinkering with what we have had before; daft targets, pointless paperwork, excessive school testing and silly micromanagement of schools, pointless ID cards, paranoia and illegal wars.).

  8. Jay,

    The recovery in Labour share in recent polls is very likely due to former Lab supporters now saying they are likely to vote Labour – but will they actually vote ?

    Historically, Cons have been more likely to vote – and this has shown up in divergence between polls and actual result. This is mainly because there is a correlation between the age/social groups in which Cons historically led Lab and those age/social groups most likely to vote. This is what is generally meant by the term “Differential Turnout”.

    In 1997 and again in 2001, large numbers of people who would otherwise have voted Conservative simply stayed at home – hence the significant fall in turnout to historic lows. This was especially true of many seats which Cons had won throughout the 80s, hence the massive change in seats in 1997.

    As between 1992 and 1997, Lab added about 2m votes nationally, but Cons fell by 4m.

    As between 1997 and 2001, both parties saw their actual vote fall – but Lab saw a bigger fall than Con, hence narrowing in % lead from 12.5% to 9.3%. This “swing” of 2.1% was not noticed since the number of seats changing hands was negligible (the lowest for many years).

    But, between 2001 and 2005, the Lab vote fell again while Con vote rose, such that the gap between the parties dropped to just 3%. The main factor in 2005 was the big rise in LD vote – which rose far more, both in absolute and percentage terms, than Con. This was almost certainly due to Iraq war, with direct transfers from Lab to LD. In addition, the biggest fall in Lab actual votes occurred in their “heartlands” where Lab could withstand even double digit swings. At same time, most increase in actual Con votes occurred inthose English shire seats which Cons already held.
    The combination of these factors lead to a situation where Cons actually had more votes in England than Lab, but Lab still held a majority of seats. This is what leads to claims of unfairness or bias in the system.

    There will undoubtedly be an increase in the total number of Con votes at the next election. How many and where is an unknown.

    Labour will struggle to retain the same number of votes it won in 2005 – especially in large parts of England. On the other hand, it may be able to motivate supporters in its “heartlands” who did not vote in 2005. This might diminsh the overall fall in actual vote, but if turnout is higher, would still leave them down in % terms – 28-32% still seems realistic range.

    Personally, I would expect Labour to poll somewhere between 7.5 – 8.5m, down from 9.2m in 2005 while Cons inrease from 8.8m to 10-12m. The LD vote is likely to fall – perhaps by over 1m from approx 5m they achieved in 2005, but since this will fluctuate wildly from seat to seat, the impact in terms of overall seats won is difficult to estimate.

    It is also likely that “others” will show significant increase in total votes and % – but since this will be fragmented, it is unlikely to deliver more than a handful of seats (excluding SNP/PC and NI).

    Another factor to take into account is tactical voting. This undoubtedly worked against Cons in 1997 and 2001 – but does not appear to have been as significant a factor in 2005. If it occurs at all this year, it is as likely to be anti-Lab as anti-Con.

    Incumbency will be a wild card this year due to the expenses scandal. We already have a record number of retiring MPs, but there may individual candidates who see big personal anti votes.

    Finally, given we have new boundaries, there may be a number of seats where the estimates of nominal 2005 votes/majorities prove to be wrong and they deliver unexpected results.

    A quick summary of the above indicates that “Uniform National Swing” is a very poor indicator of what might happen at the next election regardless of where the polls eventually settle.

    This will be a fascinating election to watch, but we should be very wary of assuming that if Lab can pull back to within 6-7% of Cons it could somehow “win” the election.

  9. If this poll is right then I can only assume the majority of voters are utter morons.

    No reason at all for the polls to narrow like this.

  10. NOSTRA

    “I think a pestigious site like this moving to show a hung parliment will finaly get the attention of the ratings agencies. Just for fun I predict a downgrade of UK soverign debt within 10 working days”

    While I don’t agree with your prediction of when a rating downgrade may occur I do think there is a major risk that the UK Gilt & Sterling markets will react badly if they think a “hung” Parliament is likely. If there are such difficulties in the Gilt market (and recent moves in the market are worrying) then the UK Government would probably be forced to speedily introduce drastic spending cuts. The announcement of these cuts could greatly influence the actual GE result.

  11. This is the 3rd You Gov poll that asked “should Britain leave the EU” as a straight unbiased question – as questions on the Lisbon Treaty etc are meaningless. Yet the results are never published. Is it reasonable to assume that whoever is commissioning opinion on this narrow issue does like the results?

  12. @ROB SHEFFIELD………….I think that the lack of enthusiasm for the ant party is due to their literature being difficult to read. I would suggest using a magnifying glass.

  13. Alec:
    “I for one was struck by the complete absence of cabinet government over Iraq …… and the progressive failure of cabinet government is one reason why we have had so many poor policy decisions in recent years.”

    As I recall, Clare Short drew attention to customary procedural steps that had been side stepped.

    I think it was Lord Salisbury who on telling an MP he was thinking of appointing him to a government post asked him if he could rely on his loyal support. The MP said he would support him when he was right, but Salisbury explained that that wasn’t the kind of loyalty he had in mind.

    We don’t have political parties any more either. We have fan clubs. If the team loses the manager gets sacked except in the second division teams.

  14. MIKE

    “While you have little faith in AR (and I accept it may be overstating the Tory lead) it is providing some consistent evidence that the Tory lead has fallen a little since October 2009 and is now relatively stable”.

    Once again you are jumping to conclusions based on limited evidence.

    Clutching at the Angus Reid straw makes little sense. They may well be right. But then, in order for that to be the case, all of the others would have to be wrong.

    AR is the only pollster to show the Conservatives as having a relatively stable lead. The latest two polls clearly suggest that that lead has dropped. And that it has done so in recent days.

    Other pollsters show that their lead is wavering – from a more or less regular 13/15 points to something more like 10/11 points.

    AR also have an, as yet, untested record in polling. So I would be much more inclined to back the likes of YouGov.

    In fact Ipsos-Mori has recently had recently such huge variations – Tory leads of 17%,12%, 17%, 6%,17%, 8% – that it’s creditability is at risk. YouGov could very well be random noise.

  15. I follow your train of thought & cant disagree. In fact you I think you raise an interesting electoral paradox i.e. voters don’t like early cuts move away from cons and consequently into hung parliament territory – Markets don’t like hung parliament territory punish gilts and sterling – Government cuts early

  16. That last sentence is not mine. Not sure what it is doing there.

  17. Over on Political Betting:

    “Adjust the MORI headline numbers to 2005 voting behaviour and you get approximately:

    Con 43.0%
    Lab 25.5%
    LD 22.5%’

    Actually those numbers are recalculated on the basis of total 2005 voters not only on those who intend to vote now. Based on those saying how they intend to vote:

    Con 42%
    Lab 26%
    LD 23%”

    by another richard January 30th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    So is it possible that the con lead is actually around 14% with yougov showing noise?

  18. @DAVID IN FRANCE
    I gathered the final sentence was not yours David, however, it has a lot of sense in it. AR gets the flack but I Mori really is like a dog at a fair.

  19. A new Yougov in tomorrow’s Sunday people gives Con 40%, Lab 31%, Lib Dem 18%.

  20. I know this is slightly off-topic but i was reading Paul H-J’s post re: turnout and was wondering what the highest turnout in a UK constituency is? I believe West Dorest had the highest in 2005 but i was wondering if anyone knew the highest turnout in any constituency at a UK election?

  21. DAVID IN FRANCE

    You seem to have missed the point. I am not arguing that AR is more accurate in indicating the size of the lead. However I do think to date they have been remarkably consistent (Tory leads since mid October of 17%, 14%, 17%, 17%, 16%, 16%, 16%) and are a useful indicator when judging whether there has been a significant movement in voting trends.

    Mori by contrast in their last 5 polls have alternated between leads of 17% (twice) and lower leads of 8%, 6% & 12% and their extreme movements provide little confidence that the latest lead of 8% is broadly correct.

    YouGov by contrast is more consistent than Mori but as Anthony points out the drop of 2% in the Tory lead is within the margin of error.

    I have an open mind as to whether or not the Tory lead will be shown to have dropped as the evidence is inconclusive and will wait for other polls before jumping to conclusions.

  22. In fairness to AR, they aren’t technically asking voting intention questions so perhaps shouldn’t be expected to have the same answers, and while I’d love to believe they are plain wrong they have excellent form in Canada.

  23. I believe it is clear that the Conservatives are in trouble, the deepest recession since WW2 and they have not pulled away, Labour seems to be gaining a movement and this will constantly increase, the Liberal’s seem stuck in the mud which means that Labour looks set to eat into Conservative voting and with unemployment falling, the economy clearly improving, the writing is on the wall. A hung Parliment or even a small Labour victory could be on the cards. I would have liked the Liberals to been a part of this campaign, I felt that this was the best opportunity but they have fallen short. The polls will swing each way over the coming months but remember Labour will receive a bounce when the election is called as per all previous elections the governing party receives some forward momentum. This means that the Tory lead is probably closer to 3 or 4 if that!

  24. MIKE

    “While I don’t agree with your prediction of when a rating downgrade may occur I do think there is a major risk that the UK Gilt & Sterling markets will react badly if they think a “hung” Parliament is likely. If there are such difficulties in the Gilt market (and recent moves in the market are worrying) then the UK Government would probably be forced to speedily introduce drastic spending cuts. The announcement of these cuts could greatly influence the actual GE result.”

    I follow your train of thought & can’t disagree. In fact you raise an interesting electoral paradox ie voters don’t like idea of early cuts & move away from Cons & consequently into hung parliment territory – Markets don’t like hung parliment territory punish guilts & sterling – government forced to cut early…

  25. John B Dick

    Having watched Blair at Chilcot, I was struck by the number of times he said “I had to make the decision” (or similar phrases. Indeed I thought that Ken’s “brief” comment early on this thread was a subtle reference to that!

    If anything confirmed that the UK has moved through a cycle of monarchical rule -> Parliamentary rule -> cabinet rule -> elected monarchy, it was Blair.

  26. DAVID IN FRANCE

    When I commented at 12.40 pm I had not appreciated that the You Gov Tory lead (tomorrow’s People) was back up to 9%. I think helps demonstate you were premature in assuming the Tory lead was falling.

    However I have an open mind as to whether or not the Tory lead will be shown to have dropped as the evidence is still inconclusive and will wait for other polls before jumping to conclusions.

  27. Being reported that someone at The People has just Twittered this YouGov finding for his newspaper tomorrow:

    40/31/18

  28. It rather looks as if the two YouGov polls were carried out at the same time.The fieldwork for this poll surely finished yesrerday – given that the figures are already known!

  29. Paul H-J:
    “Incumbency will be a wild card this year due to the expenses scandal. We already have a record number of retiring MPs, but there may individual candidates who see big personal anti votes.”

    Yes, I think this may be a factor which comes to surprise people. As you say most of the worst offenders are stepping down in any case, but there will be plenty of instances where an incumbent struggles to get their vote out which may see larger majorities over turned.

    Mike:
    “While I don’t agree with your prediction of when a rating downgrade may occur I do think there is a major risk that the UK Gilt & Sterling markets will react badly if they think a “hung” Parliament is likely”

    Indeed. In fact there has been some discussion on whether the likelihood of a Conservative majority is helping to keep yields on gilts down.

  30. OLD NAT

    “If anything confirmed that the UK has moved through a cycle of monarchical rule -> Parliamentary rule -> cabinet rule -> elected monarchy, it was Blair”

    I had similar thoughts yesterday and was amazed that few questions were about the Cabinet’s involvement in the key issues and there was little follow up to the suggestion the other ministers generally were not interested in the legalities of the war. I very much hope the Inquiry will later focus on this issue as it is a worrying development.

  31. Is it significant that two of Gordon Brown’s allies in the PLP have announced their retirement in the last 48 hours?

    Cameron’s poster was taking a pasting on TV last night – I doubt he’ll do a repeat.

  32. @OLD NAT
    Excellent news for Labour. Blairs fault, Blairs war, Brown, Straw et al had nothing whatever to do with it. Utter rubbish but perception is everything.

  33. I was struck by the sheer arrogance of Blair. Particularly, the use of first person singular. The best example was when he said “I had to decide to invade Iraq”.

    I thought Bush decided that and would have done so regardless of Blair’s involvement or not. He cannot publicly say that as that would be conclusive proof of him being a poodle.

    So, Blair attacked Iraq. Period. Incredible !!

  34. Never underestimate the stupidity of a third of the UK populace.

  35. AR maybe not picking up “noise” which all other pollsters are. That is the contention of AR supporters. Fine.

    But not only does AR repeat the Tory lead, the 40 -24 spread does not seem to budge. Even, if theoretically , public opinion remained unmoved [ itself a very big ask ], the fact that even AR’s sample distribution does not change over 1000 people and over 3 months is difficult to comprehend.

  36. Roland Haines and Surbiton

    You both miss the point. I wasn’t talking about a particular PM from a particular party.

    The reality of modern government is that after the GE we will still have a PM exercising the royal prerogative. The modern party system has created an elected monarch, with few checks and balances over their power.

  37. @SURBITON
    “Blair is arrogant”, yes indeed he is. He out shone every one in his party, every one in the opposition parties and the Chilcot Enquiry did’nt lay a glove on him. I think I have made an appaling job of hideing my political loyalties on this site, but facts are facts.

  38. I look forward to the tables for this poll. I am slightly confused, they say that 44% would prefer a Conservative government led by Cameron, and 37% would prefer a Labour government led by Brown. I am assuming that these were the only two options, otherwise one would have expected the figures to be the same as the voting intention.

  39. OLD NAT
    Yes Nat I do see your longer term point but how handy for Labour at this conjecture. We see the “Presidential blame game” rather than the old fashioned idea of the party taking the can back.

  40. Roland Haines

    On the short term aspect – I always thought that Brown set up Chilcot in order to try to distance himself from Iraq!

    Elected monarchs have that power! (Some monarchs, however, don’t learn to use power wisely!) :-)

  41. CLAD – yep, it’s a forced choice question, so it’s mostly interesting to see how Lib dem voters, other voters and non-voters split.

    It doesn’t always correlate exactly with voting intention – you sometimes get some people who say they vote Labour but would prefer a Cameron govt or vice-versa. I assume they are people voting for particular local reasons (e.g. they want the Conservatives to win the election, but particularly like their local Labour MP and want to support him – things like that)

  42. Anthony, an interesting point is that the movement in the forced choice question, is mirrored in the movement in voting intention .

  43. I can now see why Brown was so keen to face Chilcot. His standard line would be that as he was neither Foreign or Defence Secretary , it was not his day-to-day business.
    Regarding military equipment, his answer would be the Treasury block-allocates certain budgets to Defence. This may include headings like Equipments etc. I would be surprised if the Treasury decides how much would be spent on bullet-proof vests , for instance.

    I would not be surprised if there was some deal behind the scenes between Brown’s men and Clegg’s men for Clegg to ask the question in HoC. It was a win-win for both. Brown gets off the charge of “what have got to hide ?” and Clegg is the hero who brought Brown to Chilcot early. Whether the electorate as a whole appreciates such finer detail, I am not so sure.

    In fact, irrelevant things like Cameron’s “airbrushed” image resonates more with the public ! All pictures are probably airbrushed but perceptions are created which is difficult to remove later on.

  44. C.L.A.D.

    There is nothing wrong in the 44-37 split. Many LD supporters will say Labour or Conservative even though they will vote for LD because they know LD cannot win.

    On the other hand, many people vote for another party
    than the party they support. Hence their choice of Government party will be different from their actual vote.

  45. I think as a Tory government draws near, people are beginning to get butterflies in their stomach.

  46. @BEANS

    “I think as a Tory government draws near, people are beginning to get butterflies in their stomach.”

    There is definitely going to be a small move of independent/ swing voters away from the Tories (to various other parties) as they continue as last week to publicise the “We mean austerity” and “If we cause a double dip recession, so be it” dubious i’ll-conceived approach they have adopted.

    Furthermore some Labour 2005 anti Iraq war defectors to Greens and LD will return in the face of a Tory potential majority.

    This could make the Tory lead by election day 6 to 8 % but I think Labour will find it hard to get more than 32% and I think Tories will find it difficult to fall below 38% unless a raft of Economic news in March and April is all massively positive and we continue to have things like consumer confidence ticking up like we had this week for the first time in over a year.

    Still 38-32 Con-Lab means (depending on LD vote) no chance whatsoever of a Tory majority and potentially Labour having slightly the more seats.

  47. Last summer the prediction here, based on all the polls was a conservate majority of 70+, Now it says a hung parliament. Surely this indicates a fall in conservative support.
    It’s wishful thinking to maintain the tory share of the vote has been stable since the party conferences.
    The more the conservatives reveal their policies, the less voters approve.

  48. Valerie,

    If anything the tory vote has been the most stable. As much of a factor has been the firming up of the Labour vote and the balance between them and the LibDems.

    In addition last summer had a very high others figure that hurt Labour who did terribly in the Euros more than anyone else.

    Finally of course there is the FPTP effect where a very small change of opinion can make the difference between Cameron leading the largest party but short of a majority or a Blair style landslide.

    As to the changes being due to the Tories policies do you have any evidence for that?

    Peter.

  49. I don’t buy it, not for a second… but I can imagine the tingle running up the spine of New Labour disciples.

    Let’s not be naive, these polling organisations are selling a product to their customers; i.e.: the news media… and the news media don’t report “news”, they report “stories”… a poll that gives a straightforward Tory lead over Labour is NOT a “story”; the drama of a close run thing… all the intense naval gazing about hung parliaments and fantasy football type speculation is career-making journo-porn.

    If they were genuinely reporting news rather than “stories”, then Blair’s inquisition wouldn’t be lost somewhere deep in the papers, it’d be somewhere near the front.

    I think the media archons are desperate for there to be a hung parliament, and they won’t buy or print polls that contradict this narrative.
    More to the point, the most telling set of stats recently were those last week that said how fewer and fewer people know who to vote for… a low turnout could produce some spectacularly skewed results.

    Maximum drama means maximum news… and a boost to flagging newspaper sales and ad revenue in a creditcrunch/recession/depression/stagflation (delete as appropriate).

  50. I expect to see a similar thing Rob. The Tory vote looks to be maxed out, but pretty solid. It seems to be the USA-style dilemma, of left-wingers to vote for Democrats to stop Republicans.

    There is also an element of the leaders debate, which may be better for Labour than the Tories actually. If the Tory vote is maxed, there is nothing to be gained except highlighting the choice between Tories and Labour in the general election – which will probably increase Labour’s vote more so than the Tories.

    It will be interesting to see if Labour get 32%, I think the leaders debate will change everything, difficult to know how at this point.

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