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. @Roland Haines

    ‘It’s Him or Me’ feels a bit of risky strategy to me. I guess I’m thinking of Edward Heath asking ‘Who governs Britain?’ and getting a big fat ‘Not you’ back from the public. Apocryphally, stuff that smacks of hubris or too being to full of yourself, ‘Go back to your constituencies prepare for government’, the Sheffield Rally,’ Kinnock: The Movie’, isn’t supposed to play well with the electorate, but what do I know :)

    I guess the aim is to solidify existing support, rather than attract new support. After all, most people surely know what they think of both Brown and Cameron by now, and whatever inflluence that has on their vote is already weighing about as much as it ever does. So ‘Him or Me’ ends up as a reminder to people for whom that’s a consideration that they have a particular preference if they were wavering due to some other factor.

    I would have thought that he would have been better to go for something that has an influence on people’s votes, but where there’s lots of people undecided or saying ‘a plague on both your houses’ . From that point of view, like Rob says, the 36% in this poll for ‘Neither’ on the ‘Trust to raise you standard of living’ question looks mighty tasty.

  2. @ROB SHEFFIELD…….’.avengence ‘……..I need a number or e.mail please, there is money in it for you. :-)

  3. Must correct Skapusniak. Ted Heath did not get a big fat Not you from the public. He actually polled 180,000 more votes than Labour.

  4. @JONBOY

    “There is something very wrong somewhere if the Tories’ lead falls from 16 points to two points in just one month.”

    Big Sigh……

    Because you are referring:

    (a) to a month ago- and the polls across the board from all organisations have narrowed since then; and,

    (b) because you are referring to the……..AR poll of 27th january which gave a 16% lead….a full 8% and 7% more than two polls taken the following day and a massive NINE percentage points bigger than a poll two days later.

    Do a search on Angus Reid to read the past debates on gere about…….them.

  5. @KEN

    touche !!

    I particularly like your final para. I do think that apart from the sad committed like us, the choice for many is between Marshall Stalin ( ugly, ruthless, pocked marked, vile) and the younger, smoother, better looking, Rhienhardt Heydrich CEO of the Final Solution. This is a choice? they ask.

  7. “Must correct Skapusniak. Ted Heath did not get a big fat Not you from the public. He actually polled 180,000 more votes than Labour.”

    UKNova UK Television torrent site (only legal torrents there I hasten to add!) put up a rip of the BBC parliament full coverage of the Feb 1974 election (overnight and next day).

    Working my way through the segments- fascinating stuff.

  8. As has been alluded to above I believe the narrowing of the polls is due to the talk of public expenditure cuts by the Conservatives through the prism of the broadcast media. We know massive cuts are required but that doesn’t mean the electorate are ready for them.
    The threat of cuts in government spending has been the stick used to beat the Conservatives with ever since I can remember.
    I think this week has been the first time Labour has spoken about serious cuts – through Alistair Darling – how much coverage did this get ?
    I’d expect the trend we have seen in the polls to continue with Labour the largest party in a minority government.

  9. I’m just waiting for ‘Kyle’ to type POLLS for my suspicions to be confirmed…

  10. Chrisc – It is a sign of utmost respect for the current range of commenters that you reach so far back for the Partisan Sans Pareil of all time for a comparison with Kyle :)

    The sense of warmth felt towards Anthony’s Naughty Step regulars by most of the rest most of the time suggests the tone remains about right even in febrile times.

    Long may we be spared reference to the POLLS

  11. Whens the next Sun poll? Tonight?

  12. @ROB SHEFFIELD…’Do a search on Angus Reid…’
    I couldn’t find any reference to any Hollywood star, should I search for American Gigolo ?

    Couldn’t help it ! :-)

  13. @KEN

    didn’t ‘gere’ have an italian named character not Scottish ?!

  14. @Jonboy

    Touche :)

    …there’s probably quite a lot of ‘all too convenient explanation after the fact’ in all those legends I mentioned. It would still make me nervous about leaving an opening for the electoral gods to slap me down like that, if I was in Cameron’s shoes.

  15. @ROB SHEFFIELD………….Just stick to helping me with my Chinese client.

  16. My my Roland. I may not like David Cameron very much, but I think a comparison with Heydrich is somewhat far-fetched…….

    If it’s simply youth & looks, perhaps Speer would be a better comparison. And he did die in Britain…….. :)

  17. Perhaps this may be off blog but here goes Possibly we are going to get a hung parliament. We have a deficit of 12% of GDP and have to reduce it. I remember some years ago Belgium had a similar deficit and we know it’s a non – country with people that can’t stand each other so how did they do it.?I suspect this is why Herman got the job in the EU. Who is a similar Herman for the UK – my feeling is Darling and I suspect he is not be underestimated as a force in the latest Labour poll revival.

  18. ALEC @ 5.40 pm

    So how do you feel about the much used “Labour values are British values”?

    I can tell you how I feel about it every time he says it-but I didn’t come on here bleating about it.

  19. @ KEN

    What help do you need with your Chinese client. Maybe I can be a sounding board for you :-)

  20. Any thoughts on Alastair Darling, regardless of the election result he stands to lose. He has taken Gordon on, and no-one does that and gets away with it, Gord wants Ed Balls as Chancellor, could Al have a nasty for Gord in the budget as a parting shot ?

  21. @AMBER………..Read my novel ! :-)

  22. @ COLIN

    RE: Labour values are British values

    That means Labour have listened/ seen what values are held dear by the majority of UK people; then they have acknowledged those values when framing Labour their policies.

    Now, you can respond with a sharp “that’s a matter of opinion!” or even “Oh no they haven’t!”

    Not sharing people’s values is not the same as being unpatriotic.

  23. COLIN – well you just have…

  24. Ken – Darling’s performance (saying it how it is and appearing not to baulk at apparent criticism of Brown) is helping to promote the idea of a stronger team than would be in place if he were just a “yes-man”. Mandelson ditto.

    Seating the whole shadow team behind him might have felt to Cameron that he was promoting his own strong team. Same idea, risky though, as it distracts from his message on screen and reminds us that there are differences amongst them too.

  25. @WOLF

    “Perhaps this may be off blog but here goes Possibly we are going to get a hung parliament. We have a deficit of 12% of GDP and have to reduce it. I remember some years ago Belgium had a similar deficit and we know it’s a non – country with people that can’t stand each other so how did they do it.?I suspect this is why Herman got the job in the EU. ”

    **Boring Long Post Alert**

    I hold my hands up here to having some knowledge of the ‘lagelands’.

    Basically they have significantly higher taxation levels than us particularly in individual income and company profits; they also have compulsory personal private insurance for health rather than an NHS with a huge budget. This insurance is relatively cheap i.e. the heath providers/ health sector is tightly regulated and have to provide/ allow for pre- existing conditions etc so totally unlike the USA version of insurance based health care (not making a point on that just reporting it).

    They are also only 10 million people (approximately 6 million Flemish Dutch speakers and 4 million French speaking Walloons)..

    This is a country (like most of continental Europe) that has had centrist coalitions of between two and five parties since WW2. Everything has muddled along in a very conciliatory way (and less fraught then- for example- our 1980’s socially fractured experience); but admittedly a more slow and bureaucratic manner.

    Only in last decade or so has the Francophone – Nederlandse talige tensions really come to the fore. Culminating in the farcical situation that for almost 10 months in 20007- 2008 there actually was no Federal government.

    Belgium is what is called ‘institutionally thick’: for example if you are living in the Brussels Capital Region you elect 1) local municipality/ commune within BCR itself- some are French speaking and some are Dutch speaking; 2) The actual BCR 3) The Federal Government 4) if Dutch speaking then to the Dutch language community (Flemish Parliament) and vice versa if French speaking.

    Belgium has massive decentralisation with all but the most central and clearly ‘National’ (in reality supra national) competencies decentralised to either the ‘Flemish Parliament’ or the ‘Walloon Parliament’. Foreign affairs and most (though not all economic competencies- for example employment policy is devolved to the language regions). Furthermore you have a treaty of Versailles anachronism with around 80,000 German speakers out by Eupen in the east….and they have their own language community / parliament as well.

    The Flemish are notoriously conservative with a small ‘c’: hard working, reliable and non militant; obsessed with home ownership (phrase ‘every Fleming has a brick in their belly’), though as a nest not for property speculation/ equity release (though I am told with the younger generation this has changed a little over recent years); extremely fond of the bonds of a (usually extended) family and of growing heaps of their own vegetables in the very long and thin garden alongside their chicken coup.

    They look down upon the Walloons who they feel are lazy and sponge off them via Federal government transfer payments…..ring any bells !! The Flemish BNP equivalent (VB) has- in Flemish local and Flemish parliamentary elections- regularly received over 20% of the vote since the mid 1990’s. In Antwerpen (both province and city) they have been consistently the largest party and are kept out of power only by a so-called ‘cordon sanitaire’ that includes all the other parties!

    Their levels of taxation are not acceptable to a UK population in my opinion- we have got used to the Thatcherite (and then Blairite) income tax (headline figure) cuts. I worked at a University there for 6 months and totally miscalculated my first monthly take home pay !!

    But the higher revenues (from tax) and the central place (geographically and politically) of Belgium within the EU (with business and commerce spin-offs associated with that so-called “world city” status) protect Belgium from long term fiscal problems. Though not, of course, cyclical catastrophes like the global credit crunch.

    As far as I am aware they still have a problem with their deficit- like every country in the advanced capitalist club of nations does. Indeed Belgium had to implement a bank bailout that- per capita- was larger than the UK’s.

    The only reason Belgium has not splintered is because neither Dutch nor French speaking community is prepared to give up Brussel/ Bruzelles.

    OK- off to watch the Ice Hockey !

  26. @ David B – i guess only Amber and I dare stick with our predictions :)

    @ Those accusing of flag waving. I have said clearly I think this poll is a rogue. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a worrying rogue for the Tories.

    @ Roland – I read Smithson (thank you for your heart) and it seemed to me he was saying whatever happens it will be a lose lose? Lab majority – tired, useless government with no real power. Hung parliament? No-one will achieve anything. Lib Dems? Don’t get too excited. Maybe I will read it again and try to be more constructive, but it just took me TWO HOURS to catch up with ths thread!!!

    Re : Brighton for those waiting to hear. Very nice, no abusers (except Mrs National Front – do any of us really care about HER) and fairly static it seemed. No particular swing. (based on the 8 people and a chicken who answered the door!!)

  27. @JOHN T T …………..Darling’s performance…a cunning enough plan but what’s the tradeoff between Gordon and Alastair, bearing in mind Gordon’s strength, post election win ?

  28. @ ROB

    Are you in Sheffield? Are the Steelers still a team? My son played as a (junior A) goalie in Scotland & then Canada so he is also glued to the hockey.

  29. Ken – no idea (I don’t know if Darling expects to win!)

    Pick of jobs if they win, I suppose, but Darling will have an eye to the leadership if they lose.

    It’s not very cunning to deal with accusations of being a dictatorial bully by stopping being a dictatorial bully!

    Bit too cunning for Thatcher maybe, but Brown is a survivor, considering he’s still in the game after all that’s happened

  30. Here’s a simulation with the UK-Elect software, using these results:

    Party Name – Votes – %age Votes – (Seats / Change)

    Labour 9250988 34.07% (313 Seats -36)
    Conservative 9834645 36.22% (265 Seats +57)
    Lib. Dem. 4475572 16.48% (41 Seats -22)
    DUP 240918 0.88% (10 Seats)
    SNP 411362 1.51% (5 Seats -1)
    Sinn Fein 175320 0.64% (5 Seats)
    Plaid Cymru 174962 0.64% (4 Seats +2)
    SDLP 126204 0.46% (2 Seats)
    Independent 150194 0.55% (1 Seat)
    UUP 126831 0.46% (1 Seat)
    Respect 68025 0.25% (1 Seat)
    Kidderminster Hospital & Health Concern 18739 0.06% (1 Seat)
    Speaker 15153 0.05% (1 Seat)

    Labour short by 11

  31. @ROB SHEFFIELD………..While the Flemish and the Walloons were watching each other they didn’t see the chickens creeping up! :-)

    Stop it !

  32. @ SUE

    I’m glad Brighton went well :-)

    I am sticking to our prediction. I have a theory, that Anthony will likely think is codswallop but I’m going to air it anyway…..

    I think the new kids – AR & New Harris – may have been ‘monstered’ by pro-Tory registrations. You know how they began swamping all the boards a couple of years ago. Well, the newbies may not have caught on to this ‘monstering’ tactic when registering their potential panels.

    The second thing is something else Anthony might disagree with – but it is well meant – I reckon the YouGov chaps are ‘in tune with the UK political atmosphere’.

    They will have a professional competence that acts as a ‘sanity check’. I’ve developed that in my career over years of experience. I can look at something & just know it’s wrong. I’ll bet you can too. And I think the YouGov team could tell if something was literally unbelievable.

    So I reckon that the difference is something between 2 & 6 points. Exactly what YouGov is polling.

    And that’s why I’m sticking with our prediction; I believe the polls are indicating that it’s do-able.

  33. @ COLIN

    I don’t entirely disagree with you – but I think Cameron took a risk by using the “P” word. He may take a ribbing from the media.

    If not:
    We’ll then have Brown & Mandelson saying it’s LAB’s patriotic duty to beat the CONS.

    No doubt Nick Clegg or Vince C will be along soon after that…

    At which point the entire electorate will roll their eyes & think ‘for heaven’s sake!’.

  34. Sue Marsh

    I’m a former Brighton Labour Party member who worked for David Lepper in the 1997 general election. Which ward were you in today as a matter of interest?

    (Obviously I’m still in the Labour Party – just not in Brighton these days!)

  35. Amber :

    “At which point the entire electorate will roll their eyes & think ‘for heaven’s sake!’.”

    Why, who does the Almighty vote for? :)

  36. JOHN TT

    I don’t know – but AL J might run a straw poll on it for us, if it wouldn’t offend anybody :-)

  37. @ Barnaby – I cut my teeth with David in Pav!! We must have met!! I was in Kemptown today, and it seems too close to call to me.

    @ Amber – I totally agree about YouGov. I hope to ALWAYS be in touch with the general mood, and hope I never start kidding myself. That’s why the accusations of flag waving fall on deaf ears here. I just see a truly unusual reversal of opinion going on and Tories ignore it at their peril. if I thought GB would lose, I’d say it!! I have endured head shakers for over two years now and surely even a rogue poll entitles me to a little “told you so ish ness”

  38. “And I am still waiting , incidentally, for GB to tell me what he would do if returned to power.”

    COLIN – what Labour would do is hidden away in their pre budget report and indeed in their 2009 budget.
    they would make cuts in expenditure. Their own figures show that what awaits us is about 10% cuts in noon discriminatory departmental budgets.

    There was a big political battle about this after the budget with Brown claiming the Tories were the 10% cutters, but he was later forced to concede, through gritted teeth, the truth. He has tried not to mention it since and continues to talk about ‘efficiency savings’.

    The Independent (Dec 2009) for instance points out …
    “Spending squeeze for NHS despite Darling’s promise”

    “Hospitals and GP practices are facing a squeeze on spending not seen for more than a decade, the Government revealed yesterday.”

    “If the NHS is facing hard times, however, other Government departments are preparing for cuts on a frightening scale. The Institute for Fiscal Studies yesterday estimated that, with the exception of hospitals and schools, the public sector should expect cuts of 13 per cent – 6.4 per cent a year – over the two years from 2011-13.”

    This is the reality. Its out there and its being reported, but who reads the broadsheets? Clearly not you, nor anyone else who thinks that a bit of growth will ease the pain or that labours cuts are somehow more cuddly than the tories.

    This is why the tory poll figures are slipping – the electorate does not want to know.

  39. I was in Kemptown today

    At De races?

  40. @ AMBER STAR
    “I think Cameron took a risk by using the “P” word”

    …another thing i have noticed, is that those on the left are forever identifying the “risks” Cameron is taking on this that or the other.

    I know that GB’s campaign is a risk free environment ( & very successful too I hasten to add) , but Cameron quite often just says what he believes, whether it’s considered “risky” by concerned Labour voters or not.

    I think it has something to do with wanting a credible mandate for the difficult economic & societal decisions he foresees if he finishes up in office.

    I sincerely hope that he starts to talk about Labour’s past record. I don’t think that’s at all risky-I believe good Generals advocate doing that which the enemy is scared to do.

    Certainly talking about a Conservative future will not be difficult during the GE campaign, if Labour persists in doing it for him-he merely has to refute the claims they make & set out the actual policies.


    I still think there is a major problem for Cons in a climate of concern over jobs though-Labour’s “client / payroll” vote.

  41. Are there any Public Service Union execs reading this? I have heard from friends in Whitehall that budget cuts already discussed are eye-watering, swingeing doesn’t do justice. Since most of the jobs created in the last 10 yrs or so are in the public sector, or are public sector related, and since massive cuts in budgets are being made, surely we should be told, how many jobs are on the line ?

  42. @ COLIN

    That’s the problem with us Lefties – we’re in favour of a risk free environment, elf n safety n all that.

    You Tories will insist on taking risks ;-)

  43. Even I had to just go back and check i was on the right thread. Anyone got anything to say about the polls (resisted the caps there guys ;)

  44. Anthony – Is there a Yougov poll out tonight?

  45. Christ………….I just read my last posting and I think I ‘m morphing into Cammo at PMQs. I’ll get me coat. :-)

  46. @ Ken – lol

    “Clearly not you, nor anyone else who thinks that a bit of growth will ease the pain or that labours cuts are somehow more cuddly than the tories.”

    I wish I could agree with you about ” anyone else”.

    The vast majority of voters don’t read the PBR, or reports about the PBR, or IFS prognostications.

    The brilliance of Labour’s campaign is in identifyying key audiences & telling them what they want to hear-and doing it with the most appropriate “voice”-whilst vowing Trappist like silence on their own record.

    Thus :-

    Darling does the numbers for the Markets & tries to convince that the deficit reduction plan is credible.-and no doubt will fill in a bit more detail in the Budget.

    Brown tells the punters that “growth” is the answer to it all, and the Tories will sack, pillage & burn because they don’t “understand” about the growth bit-and that’s what Tories always do -whilst shooting as many Tory policy foxes as he can ( Prison Release/Schools/Immigration…) before the manifestos come out.

    Mandelson glides around putting out the subliminal messages-Inexperienced, Thatcherite , Privileged Toffs- Experienced, Focussed, Hard Working, Conviction politician Brown.

    Clever and successful.

  48. @COLIN…………..Bang on the money !

  49. Jack – I know you mean well.

    Just how many unelected lords do we have in the government at the moment ?

    Cromwell’s idea of democracy was ‘flawed’. Yes it was that all right. As I pointed out the real democrats were ruthlessly suppressed by Cromwell. He became an absolute ruler.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am no fan of Charles 1 and I think its quite a shame that the parliamentary revolution (which was always self serving) did not flourish.

    Sue – we are up to 250 posts, thats a lot to maintain on ‘polling’.
    But on that subject – the concerns about YouGov’s change in methodology (which have totally confused me) seem to have gone cold. As have the points raised about second guessing ‘the will not votes’ in some polls. And the way a seemingly big tory lead in unweighted data of others is statisticked down to a narrow lead.

    Are polls statisicallizing themselves up a blind alley? I only ask out of interest.

  50. Redrag – nope. At the moment the daily polling is only weekdays, so the polling from Monday to Thursday appears in the Sun from Tuesday to Friday, while the polling done on Friday appears in the Sunday Times.

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