There is a startling YouGov poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Times. The topline figures, with changes from Thursday, are CON 37%(-2), LAB 35%(+2) (this is from the News of the World which doesn’t have the Lib Dem figure). The 2 point lead is the smallest YouGov have recorded since the election-that-never-was back in 2007 and if repeated at a general election would leave Labour comfortably the largest party in a hung Parliament.

The poll will no doubt send a shiver through the Conservatives (and perhaps tempt Gordon Brown towards calling a general election, though the speculation over a March 25th election would require the dissolution of Parliament on Monday, and a “wash up” period for outstanding legislation of only a single day seems exceptionally unlikely. The early election rumour de jour now seems to have shifted to April.).

The question people are likely to ask is whether it is real. Well, the changes from the previous poll are well within the margin of error. YouGov’s polls this week have been very consistent in showing a 6 point lead, and these figures are actually within the margins of error of a true position of CON 38%-39%, LAB 32%-33%, which has been the position all this week. It could just be sample variation – or it could be a further narrowing of the lead. With just a single poll, it’s impossible to tell. All I can say is what I always say when a poll shows sharp movement – until we see some more polls that support or contradict the further narrowing of the polls – be wary.

With a poll like this I expect there to be a lot of rather, erm, excitable discussion, there is a second open thread here for all your gloating, yelling, arguing, ranting and hair-pulling needs, while the normal comments policy will apply here for non-partisan discussion of the poll itself.

UPDATE: The Lib Dems are on 17% and the full tables are here


350 Responses to “YouGov show Tory lead dropping to TWO points”

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  1. Howard – I haven’t run the figures, but I expect ICM was that far out in 1997 and was the only pollster who got it right.

    Harris also did some polls during the 1992 campaign showing a moderate Conservative lead that others dismissed as rogues, but which turned out to be right.

    Yozza – I thought I’d answered you, but I must have forgotten to submit the comment so I’ll try again :)

    All Yougov’s samples are drawn from the same panel of 300,000 people, but they are different samples each day (there is a block preventing anyone who answered the survey in the last week or two from being invited again, and the chances are that any individual would be invited a LOT less frequently than that.)

  2. “(there is a block preventing anyone who answered the survey in the last week or two from being invited again, and the chances are that any individual would be invited a LOT less frequently than that.)”

    And there I was hoping to push the Greens up to 10% all on my lonesome. In fairness, as you say, I’ve only been asked once, maybe twice at most in the last 3 months about voter intention. You do seem to badger me a bit about what I think about brands though…

  3. By the way, can we not just agree that since voter turnout was massively higher from 79-92 than 97-05 that it is probably the dominating factor in this alleged haemorrhaging of the votes?

  4. Colin

    re: Labour campaigning negatively, and just talking about the tories.

    I don’t think this is too accurate. Of the two parties, I think the voters are much clearer on Labour policy, principles and plans, than the tories. Whether they like it or not.

    Labour have been negative about tory policy. This is just politics. But the important thing is that they have created their own policies to compare them to, and are just demonstrating voter choice.

    The tories for a long time thought of “dividing lines” as a swear word. They were intent on showing voters that the parties were too close to make any difference, and it was simply a choice between “old and new”.

    Labour had to work very hard to show people that this was not the case.

    If any party is guilty of putting too much effort into what the other lot are doing, and not themselves, it was tory HQ

    Their recent conference, much of it was just rather vague claims of “change” and “patriotism”, sandwiched between attacks on Labour policy.

    I think their entire problem with the pollings is that people are actually pretty cynical about whether their is any meat in those words.

    I’d definitely class “It;s our patriotic duty to oust Labour” as whistle blowing politics.

    The tories for

  5. If I were Gordon Brown, I think I would be seriously considering going to the palace today or tomorrow to seek a dissolution.

    The present polls will get him a hung parliament, but in reality that is the very best Labour can hope for anyway. Things won’t get any better than this for Labour and we may well see a slip back over the next few weeks.

    Will he grab this opportunity with both hands? I’m not sure. Brown is famous for his dithering. And if he can squeeze just a few more precious hours out of being Prime Minister, then he will do it.

    I suspect he will stick to his plans and hold the election in May. Personally, I’d now be re-thinking.

  6. John Peters

    If you look at tory voter polling, a massive chunk of them (like 60%) say that they would not want to the tories to do any sort of meaningful deal with the Lib Dems for a hung parliament.

    The problem for the tories, is what the Lib Dems would actually want in return.

    There is no way Clegg is going to give them the leadership, for a few meaningless positions.

    He’ll more than likely want Lib Dem policy also to be brought in.

    Which party is more likely to make allowances on Lib Dem policy?

    I imagine Cameron would be kicked out of his own party if he accepted a deal like that.

    Of course, it depends how many seats they are short. They may be able to make a deal with the DUP perhaps. Or other fringe parties, if they are only a few seats short.

    I think Cameron has already been buttering up the DUP in fact

  7. @STEVE
    This kind of inverted snobbery used to start a rant from me which would get me moderated. Not now, its not worth it. Regarding the polls, perhaps you should look a bit deeper than the latest headline. As far of as the publics fear of “a bunch of out of touch toffs” or whatever, may I suprise you? Not everyone is delirious
    with joy regarding the last 13 years and certainly not the last 2.

  8. @STEVE
    I dont think Shuan sounds like a panicking Tory, I think his reasoning is very sensible. Is the Labour vote so fragile (like the economy) that you must have sunny weather to get your vote out?

    @CHRIS
    Speaking as a dyed in the wool Tory you are right about love affairs with the LDs. Most of us think they are quite ridiculos. If the British people decide that 5 more years of Labour is appropriate, even if held up by the LDs in some vote rigging deal good luck to them.

  9. An ICM poll for Wales shows that Labour might also be being better here then it is otherwise suggested. 47% of respondents thought that Gordon Brown and Carwyn Jones (leader of the Welsh Labour Party) were most trusted to steer the Welsh economic recovery, 24% Cameron and Nick Bourne, 14% Elfyn Llwyd and Ieuan Wyn Jones (Plaid) and 9% Nick Clegg and Kirsty Williams. 7% didn’t know.

  10. @ SHAUN

    “The present polls will get him a hung parliament, but in reality that is the very best Labour can hope for anyway. ”

    Might turn out to be the “worst”

    The pound is doing funny things today.

    Market comment seems to be an adverse reaction to the prospect of a hung parliament.
    Some of it is unfavourable to the prospect of a Labour Government’s committment to difficult fiscal measures.

    Clinging to power by a thread will not be a financial bed of roses-for either party.

  11. I can’t believe Cameron banged on about patriotism in a major speech the day before Ashcroft reveals what we have always known – that he is not a UK resident and does not pay tax.

    I think Dave’s problem is that even if voters like him they are worried about the likes of Ashcroft and Daniel Hannan who are lurking in the wings.

  12. @ Tony M

    I think that the markets have been pricing in a Tory election victory. I wonder what impact the recent polls will have on the market. It the market gets the wobbles, and the pound crashes yet further, I wonder whether it will have any impact on Labour’s fortunes. Probably not.

    Well – the first part of this has happened today with the pound tumbling for more than it has in a year. The money is our pocket will not buy us as much today as it did yesterday.

    Will these feed through to the polls, and if so what will its impact be?

  13. @ Chris

    “Of the two parties, I think the voters are much clearer on Labour policy, principles and plans, than the tories. Whether they like it or not.”

    Where are Labour going to make their 20% cuts?

  14. Will tonight’s poll for the Sun show an widening or narrowing of the gap between Labour and the Conservatives given that the Conservatives have just had their Spring conference and been all over the media?

    I thought it would go down well with the Conservatives but not with anyone else. The patriotic thing was a bad idea in my opinion.

  15. @ Paul

    If you call that a trend reversal, then it’s a pretty paltry one. If it continues, and they get an extra 0.4m votes on 2005, then they’ll have about 34% of the vote, which looks about right if you look at the trend of the current polls.

    How I love simplistic extrapolation!

  16. @ VALERIE
    “I think Dave’s problem is that even if voters like him they are worried about the likes of Ashcroft and Daniel Hannan who are lurking in the wings.”

    Your increasingly bizarre flights of fancy about the nature of “Dave’s problem” have certainly reached new levels if you think that the average punter is “worried” about messrs. Ashcroft & Hannan.

  17. Valerie

    I have to agree with you. It doesn’t feel right especially since all Conservatives have been ‘unable’ to answer the question so many times.

    It’s not plausible to say they didn’t know! It makes them look like they’ve been ‘hiding the truth’.

  18. Colin

    But Ashcroft is a much ”bigger” story because it’s been rumbling on for so long. At least we knew the status of Lord Paul -Labour didn’t hide anything.
    Also Lord Paul hasn’t broken any pledge.

    I suspect Ashcroft gave the pledge in the first instance because of the money put into marginals by his company.

    All feels underhand and dodgy!!

  19. Apparently, the line is that Ashcroft wasn’t obliged to comply with any demand to pay tax, just to spend more time here.

    Therefore, when asked whether Ashcroft was domiciled for tax purposes, Hague’s answer “he has assured me he has complied with what was required of him” (by Hague himself!!!) was strictly not a Big Fat Lie.

    What Hague was thinking he’d gain by not informing Marr of what Ashcroft had been asked to do is any-one’s guess. I sense a diminutiion in Hague’s standing as a man of integrity though.

  20. Colin – it’s the obfuscation that does the most damage.

    Lord Paul might have avoided tax legally like Ashcroft, but he hasn’t Evaded like Ashcroft has.

  21. @Valerie
    You are seeming not to understand Colin’s point at all. He is trying to make clear that these people could be the devil in disguise and it makes no difference to floating voters. They are floating because they are not interested or unaware of such anoraky stuff. They do also have the same value of vote (1) as you and the rest of us on this list.

    I will give an example if I may. Fired up by the exitement of the weekend’s events, my wife and I went out and delivered leaflets we should have delivered a month ago (Lib Dem ones). My wife was stopped by a man at a house who took the newspaper, scoffed and then tore it in shreds. We don’t want any Tory trash here he exclaimed. My wife showed him another one, and explained it is a Lib Dem / Tory marginal. He just replied that he was having nothing to do with that nonsense. My wife said he did not actually look stupid, just filled with rage. I am sure he will vote. How? (My wife allocated UKIP in the absence of a BNP candidate). This was the effect we saw in the (PR) Euros, last year. The challenge in marginal constituencies is that many voters never ever learn about how they are disadvantaged by FPTP. In my patch, if just a small number of the Lab and Green voters (minuscule totals as thjey were) had voted Lib Dem, they could have been on the way to achieving what they really want. – to make their vote count. In all my years of canvassing, even as a local councillor in local elections, I never heard any local issue raised on the doorstep (except possibly state of the roads). They always express themselves in terms of what they’ve ‘read’ or ‘heard’ in the news.

  22. HOWARD

    “They always express themselves in terms of what they’ve ‘read’ or ‘heard’ in the news.”

    Interesting Howard-and scary.

  23. I doubt very much whether any story connected with Ashcroft will impact very much on the general public

    the focus is clearly on Cameron, and it seems to be the more he is in the spotlight, the less chance the Tories will have of winning.

    Labour to win with a majority of 20

  24. There’s an open thread just down below for you lot to argue – the point is to keep all this sort of crap out of the sensible threads.

    READ THE COMMENTS POLICY

    This is a place to discuss polling in a non-partisan, dispassionate, detached manner, not a venue for politics.

    Behave or I’ll ban someone.

  25. very interesting article in the Guardian which I thinks answers most of the questions asked on here about Ashcroft, what will happen now to the gap between Labour and Conservatives, will be very interesting to see tonight’s and tomorrow nights Sun poll.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/mar/01/toby-helm-lord-ashcroft-tax

  26. Anthony

    Sorry about that. I got my threads mixed up! :-)

  27. Anthony

    Please can we have the GE prediction thread? ( – I feel like a kid at school) – It will be good fun & I’ll be happy to do the averages. Thanks

    Also, I think I was on the wrong thread too -I thought my comment has disappeared ;-) apologies

  28. I got my threads confused once and look what happened to me! :-)

  29. I wonder if the perception of the Tories as the party who will make cuts is starting to hurt them now – last year, a lot of people thought that cuts under a future tory gov sounded sensible. Now they are faced by the reality of those cuts happening (with the backdrop of a very weak recovery) they are backing off.

    Unless they modify or abandon this stance (they may already be doing this with their policy on married couples) this could continue to get worse for them – the reality of public sector pay freezes and redundancies effects an awful lot of people…

  30. Anthony – there is a Politics Home report of a poll they have done which claims much greater public consern over cutting services too deeply rather than not reducing the deficit fast enough. While this could explain much of the recent national poll trends, I wondered if you have any comments on the veracity of the poll itself? I don’t recall you ever commenting on Politics Home polls and I wondered what your reasons were?

  31. Well, I re-read my last and I thought it was bang on topic, namely the likely effect of the Ashcroft business on voting intention and my evidence that it would not affect the kind of voter I instanced. I suspect this thread is probably closing anyway but I would have welcomed a directed reprimand, if earned, rather than being gratuitously included by implicatioon.

  32. I had a bit of an ear-bashing this morning from a client who needed a steer on the, ‘turmoil’ that is his perception of the UK today. He had seen the 2% poll and became very agitated about the effect, I could only offer an analysts note to mitigate his concern.
    I wonder how people who don’t have the comfort of a forum react to the poll results.
    Generally, my none politically obsessive friends are pretty sanguine about opinion polls, dismissing them as unimportant, and in fact, not bothering to read them, viewing them as a sort of political astrology.
    So, what has changed people’s minds so dramatically over the past week or so ? Does anyone really know ? I haven’t changed mine, and I don’t think anyone on these threads has changed theirs.
    Are there any floating voters on these threads please ?
    Have you changed your mind in the last couple of weeks ? Reveal yourselves, otherwise we are not reflecting the polls.

  33. I don’t believe that people are quite so fickle either. In fact, has there been much research into the extent to which a good campaign can alter things? Has anyone done a before campaign / actual vote analysis to see if the campaign has actually made a difference?

    I don’t believe there has been a change – people don’t change that quickly.

  34. @ken – firstly, we can’t be sure about what has actually moved. According to AR’s last poll there was a small fall in Tory support, well within MoE. However, I think it’s fairly apparent there has been some kind of shift but we can argue about how much. I suspect the poll movements are down to a coalescing of sentiment as the critical date nears. For a long time people have noted that many voters haven’t fallen in love with Cameron. There has been rising economic confidence – this makes Labour slightly less toxic. Alongside this, Cameron has lost his sure footedness. It’s becoming more of a real choice, rather than a mid term hypothetical situation, and several of Labour’s slow burn themes are coming back into people’s minds. ‘No time for a novice’ , ‘Labour investment against Tory cuts’ and ‘all spin and no substance’ are three in particular. I’m not pretending these are accurate portrayals of the Tories, but I get the sense these are the issues that are making people more queezy about voting Tory. On the environmental agenda also green minded voters are seeing increasing reports of Tory PPC’s rubbishing global warming as an issue and liberals are becoming more concerned about some of the noises emanating from them about social affairs – all this undercuts the detoxification argument and bolsters the ‘spin’ allegations. Essentially as they got nearer power some people think their true character is coming out and they don’t like it.
    These are the reasons why I think Cameron is actually in quite a lot of trouble. The underlying mood music has changed, and he has a lot of hard peddling to do to keep his position.

  35. Anthony – sorry to be a pain, but can you tell me why a post of mine from yesterday (11.24am) is shown as awaiting moderation? Not complaining, just interested – particularly since it seems much less partisan than the vast majority of posts on this thread!

  36. @Chris

    Are you using a new e-mail address, that requires more moderation?

    @Ken

    “I wonder how people who don’t have the comfort of a forum react to the poll results.”

    I daresay that as you suggest, people who haven’t sought out a forum about poll results don’t react to poll results, at least not on the scale we do.

    ————-

    Will the Ashcroft story make a difference? Maybe, Ashcroft is clearly not the same as Paul on either influence or financial contributions. The BBC has it as their top story. On the other hand, the media are far from setting the agenda for the people on everything, maybe the people will just not care very much.

  37. I have to say I agree with the people on here who are saying the Ashcroft story will not have any impact on polling numbers.

    Partly because he has been found guilty in the court of public opinion a long time ago (and any impact therefore internalised within polling data).

    But also because- like BullyGate- I think personality issues/ attacks are going to have little or no impact on numbers or the result between now and the GE.

  38. I suspect Hague knew exactly what Ashcroft’s tax status was, but had agreed not to reveal it publicly. This led him into the convoluted answers on Newsnight at the time. I agree that the specific issue is not going to interest the electors, but I disagree with other right-leaning posters here in that I think it will have a negative effect on the Tories because it adds to the sense that Cameron is under pressure and is not doing well. I heard Chris Huhne on World at One today being downright rude about Ashcroft (he used the words “tax dodger”) which suggests that in the absence of donors like Paul and Cohen, the LibDems are prepared to go on the offensive over this issue rather more than Labour. I think it will be a topic that is raised in the debates, especially by Clegg.

  39. I don’t know why there is so much hysteria about the Tories lead dropping. It seems to me that all that is happening is the reassertion of an age-old phenomenon whereby the Government improves in the polls as the election approaches and peoples minds begin to concentrate on who they want to run the country for the next five years.

    With the exceptions of 1997 and (possibly) 2001 this has been the general pattern since the war. There’s nothing new about the opposition building up 20-point leads at mid-term. But subsequently turning them into spectacular victories at the polls is something else again.

    Ultimately General Elections are nearly always tight and the question now, as ever, is whether Labour will come back enough to get a smallish majority or the Tories will stay ahead by enough to secure a small one for themselves.

  40. This is getting very unhealthy. I agree with Rob Sheffied again. Not just a bit of it all of it.

    For any one interested, Peter Riddel in the Times has written a very sensible piece on the latest polls using this sites stats. It does not seek to talk the Tories up but it does not return GB 3 seats short of a working majority either.

  41. @HOWARD
    I dont think you are a guilty party Howard. However, I can trump your story whilst agreeing with the point Colin made and we both support. At a large Tory gathering last Friday night, a party member asked a sitting MP about “this 1st passed the post business Browns bringing in before the election, has he got time”. The question was patiently answered and I dont suppose the man who asked it even realised he looked a complete idiot. This a “political activist” at his parties regional meeting positing a lump of misunderstood Daily Mail. All this “Cameron sneezed without his handkerchief, that will go against him” is rubbish.

  42. Com Res Poll tomorrow allegedly shows labour as biggest party

    According to Whelan

  43. “According to Whelan”

    well then- lets wait and see !!!

  44. ANTHONY

    Allowed myself to respond to stuff
    Apologies.

  45. On Ashcroft story- I’ve already said what I think: this is just about the media reporting of stories (as that has an impact on polling):

    It is the number one story on BBC 6:00 news;

    On ITV 6:30 news it does not even make the announcements at the beginning;

    These are- Yorkshire Ripper; Bosnian Hague trial; schools standards story and a story from rural China.

  46. @Rob Sheffield

    I’d perhaps agree with you… If not for one thing that this plays into.

    Cameron just gave a speech announcing it his patriotic duty to defeat Brown. And it’s been pointed out quite precisely that it’s hard to equate patriotic duty, and accepting millions of pounds from non-doms through dodgy holding companies. So this adds on to the ‘Dodgy Dealer Dave’ image being generated around him.

  47. “According to Whelan”

    Just out of interest why would he know before Anthony?

    Or is someone pulling our leg?

  48. “It is the number one story on BBC 6:00 news;

    On ITV 6:30 news it does not even make the announcements at the beginning;

    These are- Yorkshire Ripper; Bosnian Hague trial; schools standards story and a story from rural China.”

    and now number one on C4 (part of ITN): go figure !!

  49. @Rob Sheffield – “I have to say I agree with the people on here who are saying the Ashcroft story will not have any impact on polling numbers.”

    Disagree. This may not have a direct impact on polls in itself, but is a potentially very significant blow for Cameron. He successfully managed to position himself as the ‘Lets clean up parliament’ candidate over expenses and made a huge play over transparency. As a result, this kind of story will move some to conclude that he is ‘just like the rest’. For a candidate wishing to seize the mantle of change, being flung back into the quagmire of the same old politics is very damaging – much more so than it would be for Labour. I think they have made a tactical blunder – they were forced into this admission as the Cabinet Office has been ordered by a FoI request to release details by Friday, and as a result they have had to make this a public story just when things have been difficult for them. They should have cleared the decks on this story when they were 25% up and not under serious scrutiny. I’ve been saying for a long time that Ashcroft was coming to get the Tories, and this is probably only the start. A potentially much more damaging aspect is the status of the Bearsden Corporation – if as the Lib Dems are demanding, the 18 month long investigation into what looks suspiciously like a dormant shell company concludes that it is being used to transfer overseas donations to the Tories, Cameron’s entire anti sleaze edifice will crumble. As the Lib Dems are threatening legal action on the GE outcome over this we could be in for some serious business.
    The key issue is that this was all so avoidable if Cameron actually practice what he preached. The fact that he didn’t is itself a damaging indictment of the fact that he is proving not to be a believable character and this strikes at the heart of one of his opponents key attack lines.

  50. Our Village Hall, which is where polling takes place, has been booked for May 6th. Surely other polling station locations have also been approached…?

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