What went wrong

In the fullness of time I am sure much more will be said about why the polls overestimated the level of Lib Dem support at the election, but there was an interesting nugget from Andrew Cooper of Populus on More or Less on Radio 4 earlier. Populus’s final poll, conducted on the Tuesday and Wednesday of election week, had the Lib Dems on 27%. However, according to Andrew in the fieldwork conducted on Tuesday the Lib Dems were in the high twenties, in the fieldwork conducted on the Wednesday they were on 24%. That looks like evidence of late swing – that the polls weren’t wrong, people just changed their mind right at the end.

However, there is also some evidence that casts doubt on late swing. Because they published in the Evening Standard on Thursday and had a later deadline Ipsos MORI’s final poll of the campaign had the latest fieldwork of all the pollsters – all their fieldwork was conducted on Wednesday… yet they still had the Lib Dems at 27%.

Also illustrative is Ipsos MORI’s post-election poll. Most companies use some form of past vote weighting, so their post-election polls will be calibrated to the new results and won’t really be directly comparable to pre-election polls. Ipsos MORI however don’t use any political weighting, so their post election polls should be conducted in exactly the same way as their pre-election polls. In their post-election poll for the News of the World MORI asked how people had voted in the election on May 6th, and found figures of CON 35%, LAB 31%, LDEM 28%. No sign there of a big drop off in Lib Dem support compared to pre-election polls.

Of course – we know all about the problems of false recall, there may be people claiming to have voted Lib Dem who didn’t actually do so, so this isn’t conclusive either, but it isn’t screaming out late swing.


410 Responses to “What went wrong”

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  1. What do people think about Neil Kinnock’s endorsement of Miliband (E)?

    Will it be ahelp or a hindrance?

  2. @Pete B,

    Endorsements are by an large a help, since they provide momentum…. NK’s should not be any diff.

  3. Rik,
    I understand that the Telegraph copy is an early draft of the speech. Not necessarily 100% complete or accurate.

  4. Eoin,
    I just wondered what Kinnock’s standing was among whoever has to do the voting. As he never won an election and had that famous ‘victory’ rally in ’92 I wondered if he had been discredited.

    For instance, I can think of older Tories whose endorsement might be consifdered to be at best a mixed blessing for a Tory candidate – e.g. Tebbitt, Heseltine etc for various reasons.

  5. @Pete B,

    Yes I understand you’re thinking.

    In 1983 Labour were unelectable.
    By 1992 Labour were very electable, it was a close run thing, remember.

    By 1997 Blues were unelectable
    By 2005 Blues were still unelectable

    All in All, Kinnock shares some credit for rehabilitating the brand.

    He was just ruddy balding and ginger.

  6. @PETE B
    I personally would be instantly turned of anything recommended by Kinnock. He tries to play the elder statesman these days, but for many over 50 he will always be a Welsh Windbag.

    @ David North
    If the UKIP put the LDs in government as your figures suggest, they have achieved exactly what I told Fararge (on my driveway) could happen. I even went so far as to mention a Lib/Lab arrangement occuring thanks to them. I hope they are very proud of themselves.

  7. “He was just ruddy balding and ginger”

    roflmao!

    I take your point though. He did make Labour seem possibly electable again.

  8. The best article in today’s sundays.

    see link

    h ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/david-cameron/7753383/David-Cameron-faces-battle-with-backbench-MPs.html

  9. @RJK

    The coalition’s programme for government document says that the Referendum Bill will provide for “the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies.”

    The extent of the reduction is not specified.

  10. Roland
    “I personally would be instantly turned of anything recommended by Kinnock. He tries to play the elder statesman these days, but for many over 50 he will always be a Welsh Windbag.”

    I heartily agree, but I was trying to be diplomatic. I don’t think either you or I are Labour voters though, so our opinions don’t matter in this case.

  11. @Epochery – while I agree that the structural problems in the UK housing market pre date Labour, and largely began with the right to buy [people forget that pre right to buy we effectively didn’t have a significant homelessness problem] the simple truth is that governments are there to sort out problems and thirteen years is long enough to get to grips with such a basic necessity of life.

    As in many areas of life, they were obsessed with non intervention in the private market. It’s taken a Tory PM to sign up to an alignment of capital gains tax on second homes with income tax, and a Tory Chancellor to start talking about asset inflation alongside RPI inflation. There are 12,000 people on the Barking council housing waiting list – are we surprised the BNP has targeted this area?

    The market based orthodoxy has also left high end wages to soar and the pay and wealth gaps to balloon. There is plenty of good quality scientific research to show that such gaps are bad for society as a whole. While cameron is targeting public sector top level pay, until we start to tackle overpay in the private sector we aren’t going to solve the problem, but still labour insist there is nothing wrong with high pay levels.

    It’s worth recalling that for years, director level pay has increased way beyond average pay, company turnover, company value, GDP growth or any other metric you choose. The only justification is ‘because the market says so’ and the time is right for people to start challenging the distorted markets.

  12. Eoin
    I enjoyed the link. “There could be trouble ahead…”
    Cameron does show some undemocratic behaviour towards Parliament, just like his immediate predecessors. It’s the main thing that’s bothering me about this lot.

    Still, we haven’t even had the Queen’s speech yet!

  13. @Pete B,

    I do not think there is 1 Labour party supporter, who thinks it was a bad move to let blues and yellows hook up. “Internal combustion” was never a strong point of mine- afterall I am an historian. But I do think after five years of the chuckle brothers I will know a bit more about the topic.

  14. If the coalition causes major damage to a party, I would think it would be more likely to be one of the partners rather than the opposition.

    Though there is a degree of overlap between the left of the Tory party and the right of the Libs, there are quite a lot of unhappy voters and MPs on the other wings.

    How about 10 years time, the three main parties to be:
    1. Ukip + right wing Tories
    2. Lib Cons
    3. Lib Labs

    We could have coalitions between any 2 of these indefinitely

  15. I’m actually a bit worried about the bonfire of the QANGOs/quangos. At their best these really do what they say on the tin. They are separate from government (apart from appointment) and provide disinterested advice. There also usually quite cheap to run because most of the members are otherwise employed (often in academia) and administration costs can be quite low.

    Of course it’s also possible that they build up inflated bureaucracies; have part-time chairs on ridiculous salaries (some establishment members collect enough to be nominally working eight days a week); produce vast amount of unread bumf; and worst of all fall under the influence of the industry they are supposed to be monitoring. But I don’t see politicians suggesting that, because some MPs aren’t perfect, they should all be abolished.

    Actually Conservative hatred of them dates back to the Thatcher years, when some of them dared to do their job and suggest that government decisions might have adverse consequences. This of course irritated (especially when correct) and the Tories began the tradition of bringing in private consultants, at enormously increased cost, who could be relied on to say what they wanted to hear. And then tell them something different when called in after the first lot of advice failed. Repeat ad nauseum.

    Actually if you read the coalition programme for government, there seems to be as many new quangos (sorry Epochery) to be created as abolished. In fact if they really wanted to make an instant hit with the public they’d abolish IPSA with its vast management structure and go back to MPs expenses being paid by a couple of clerks in the Fees Office.

  16. @Roger

    100% agreement

  17. I can’t see any prospect of Con backbenchers causing trouble over the QS.

    a) they have no reason to do so-the programme adheres to key Con “principles & values” ( to quote Sue)-the irritants are in the detail-like CGT; and not in principles or values.
    b) they have just achieved power after 13 years.

    The 1922 Comittee spat is something else.

    Cameron said at the launch of the detailed coalition agreement that he would abide by the result of any votes.
    If 1922 members find a way to retain their full independence, within their rules-DC will have to put up with it.

    I think he made an error in attempting to influence 1922 voting.

  18. ROGER

    Each Quango will presumably be assessed on it’s merits-cost v purpose & effect. Also some functions are better carried out from other bodies or structures.

    How can one quarrel with that?

    Having read the lists in todays papers, no rational person would deny the evidence of purposelessness & duplication-and therefore potential for cost saving .

    Every pound counts. There can be no sacred cows now.

    Of course there will be screams of protest . Once a public sector activity is commenced , staffed & funded-it immediately becomes “vital” & “irreplaceable” to some.

    This is clearly nonsense. All activities of the State should be under constant review .

  19. @ROGER

    RE: QUANGO/QANGO

    I have been corrected thus my rant withdrawn. As I said semantics.

    I think they are a buzzword for waste and unaccountability, though with the amount of Statutory Instruments passed each year which could not possibly be legislated for, they do have their uses.

  20. Can someone help me? In 2009/10 the PTA threshold was 6,475.

    Does the 10% apply to the next 2,320? I thought they abolished it?

  21. EOIN

    Yes they did abolish it, however I understand it will be coming back, whether that will applies in the current finacial year or not i don’t know, watch the budget on june 22. I beleive there was a none off payment to compensate for the loss of the 10p rate.

  22. @Epoc,

    Thanks. (I am trying to do a self assessment :( ).

  23. N Kinnock, has good standing within Labour for his dedication to rehabilitating the party. He narrowly missed becoming PM: consequently his reputation has remained intact, and his political life continued to develope in other ways. Possible that his endorsement could lead to a similar career trajectory for the protege? GB has said he will not intervene, and TB will probably be wise enough to similarly refrain. That still leaves a few prominent figures to declare an interest. Perhaps Amber Star will be able to give us some gen. on that. ;-)

  24. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

    What amazes me is that in the developing debate about cuts no one seems to talk about alternative policies to the current ‘received wisdom’ which could see 500,000 mainly low paid ad hardworking public sector workers consigned to the scrap heap.

    An income tax increase of 5p at the basic rate combined with the removal of all those earning £10,000 or less from the income tax envelope would generate sufficient funds to deal with the deficit- basic rate income tax in the UK is not high by European standards. In terms of public acceptability, maybe a 2.5p income tax rise combined with a much lower than anticipated cuts might be a good ompromise

    This need not be a permanent feature – it could be a surcharge to be gradually withdrawn after 2 or 3 years.
    It

  25. ANTHONY

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation?

  26. Colin

    Of course there’s always a lot of scope for improvement in government spending. It’s just that you’ve got to be careful how you do these things and ideology isn’t always the best place to start.

    Now a lot of quangos may well be bloated (usually as I pointed out on the “best” business advice) but most of them do actually do something – or at least ought to. If you’re not careful you end up with replacing the Quality Care Commission with Care Quality commission at even greater cost. Or you devolve something and end up with lots of little hidden quangos. Or you privatise something and end up buying its services back for twice what they cost before. Or you abolish regulations because business says they are onerous and you get a major financial (or environmental or whatever) disaster a few years later.

    The danger is, with the rather naive way the government is trying to do things, you put yourself at the mercy of the Civil Service. They choose the cuts using their own agendas (and usually try the shuffle most of them off to local government). It’s always best to to find out the real situation and think what will actually save money in the long term. Unfortunately good government and dramatic gestures don’t usually go together.

  27. What amazes me is that in the developing debate about cuts no one seems to talk about alternative policies to the current ‘received wisdom’ which could see 500,000 mainly low paid ad hardworking public sector workers consigned to the scrap heap.

    An income tax increase of 5p at the basic rate combined with the removal of all those earning £10,000 or less from the income tax envelope would generate sufficient funds to deal with the deficit- basic rate income tax in the UK is not high by European standards. In terms of public acceptability, maybe a 2.5p income tax rise combined with a much lower than anticipated cuts might be a good ompromise

    This need not be a permanent feature – it could be a surcharge to be gradually withdrawn after 2 or 3 years.

  28. Roger,

    100% agreement

  29. @ Laszlo
    “Theism and atheism are both based on belief. They have an identical frame of reference. Secondly, neither can exist without the other: atheism needs theism and theism is meaningless if others do not doubt in the existence of God – then would not need a structured conceptual framework. Both are locked in the same frame, hence their identity, their qualitative equality. Their only difference is that to the same question one gives a positive, the other a negative anwer (hence my reference to the absolute value).”

    Ah but that is incorrect. One is belief, the other is absence of belief, not belief of absence. A null, not a negative.

  30. Eoin at 2.10pm “Can someone help me? In 2009/10 the PTA threshold was 6,475. Does the 10% apply to the next 2,320? I thought they abolished it?”

    If you’re using HMRC’s online self assessment tool it will work out the PTA and tax (and any Class 4 NICs) due automatically.

    The 10% tax band disappeared in 2008/09 and then in September 2008 the Lab gov introduced a temporary supplement to the PTA. This supplement was then made permanent in the 2009/10 tax year.

    However, the 10% rate applies for savings income only. If your non-savings income is above the limit (£2320 in 2008/09 or £2440 in 2009/10) then the 10%starting rate for savings will not apply.

    Please forward an adress for advice fee invoice. Thanks.

  31. @Mike N

    :) Well we can’t bill anyone to do them anyone so I will have to put that in the pro bono bracket if you do not mind ;)

    @All,

    On another matter, I am trying to get a hold of approval ratings during honey moon periods for governments.

    Brown was at 65% at one point
    Obama was at 68% at one point
    Cameron/Clegg are at 43% in their first fortnight. It is not a given that it will automatically decline. Perhaps the emergency budget will lift it, who knows? ;)

    Can anyone tell me where I might find Tony Blair’s 1997 approval ratings?

  32. No need for answer on Blair’s approval ratings- I found them.

    His honeymoon perido saw him achieve approval ratings of 70%.

    The key thing about Brown’s 65%
    Obama’s 68%
    Blair’s 70%

    Is that it is much more than the % who voted for them (or not in Brown’s case).

    This might not bode well for DC……….. we’ll see

    There is a direct correlation between party polls and approval ratings for governing parties so they are important

  33. @ Alec

    Andy Burnham has actually said that his biggest ‘quarrel’ with New Labour was not immigration, Iraq or welfare.

    The press have cherry picked his speeches & selected single sentences that fits the agenda they have chosen to focus on.

    He gave a speech yesterday in which he said that Labour, under the mantle of encouraging aspiration, had completely failed to curb excesses; indeed too many in New Labour had been in thrall to business & wealth.

    Burnham has now become so adept at articulating the subjects of my own disquiet with New Labour, that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  34. @ ROGER
    “It’s just that you’ve got to be careful how you do these things and ideology isn’t always the best place to start.”

    What makes you think they won’t be “careful”-what makes you think “ideology” is involved at all?

    ” most of them do actually do something – or at least ought to.”

    So even on your assessment there is scope for saving-those which don’t “do something”-or fail to do something.

    “The danger is, with the rather naive way the government is trying to do things, ”

    Do you know that all these highly educated people are acting in a “naive way”?-If so what evidence do you have ?

    ” It’s always best to to find out the real situation and think what will actually save money in the long term.”

    Again-you seem to know that this will not be their approach…???. How do you know?

    “Unfortunately good government and dramatic gestures don’t usually go together.”

    Again -this non sequitur merely seeks to asert that your fears & prejudices ( if I may so describe them) about the Government are already manifest -when the announcements which would allow you to judge have not yet been made. (If you imply in any way whatsoever that the need to reduce government spending is itself a “dramatic gesture”, then I fear you have misunderstood the economic realities entirely)

    I do think this is a case of premature accusation-& I note that Eoin is very ready to share it.

    No doubt , after Monday’s announcement you will be able to make a more rational & informed assessment of the Government’s action.

    So will I -I look forward to it.

  35. Being endorsed by Neil Kinnock is like a lamb being sent to the slaughter. I still can’t get the Sheffeild rally out of my mind. I expect that Ed Milliband must be thinking “Well Alright”.

    Ed Balls or Diane Abbot are the best candidates in my opinion, but as I am not a member of the Labour Party, (thanks god) my views are just as relevent as a breakdancing Ant.

    It is going to be a tough job and none of them will compare to my hero Clem Attlee. :( I wish that there were a lot more Socalists in the Labour Party. New Labour was a disaster. The candidates are right about talking that the party needs to change. Just like all parties that suffered an election defeat.

  36. @ROGER MEXICO
    One of the pitfalls of reducing state supervision you discuss as a negative is finance. The Gordon Brown invention, FSA, appears to be of the hook (for now). It has been however, fantastically expensive and very nearly criminal in its negligence.
    It is the classic example of a spoilt Labour baby.

  37. Social mobility featured prominently in the coalition’sprogramme for government. Readers of this blogmay find the latest Sutton Trust report on the background of the MPs elected in May 2010 interesting.

    http://www.suttontrust.com/reports/MPs_educational_backgrounds_2010.pdf

  38. @Colin – “What makes you think they won’t be “careful”-what makes you think “ideology” is involved at all?”
    There are some worrying precedents on the Tory side at least. The most notable one was a speech by Cameron where he was highly critical of Ofcom, and implied this would be culled. The speech was absolutely in line with News International’s viewpoint, and Cameron appeared to fundamentally misunderstand the role of Ofcom. This could have just been a poor speech, and it may be that cameron’s comments were in no way connected to Murdoch’s support for his campaign, but I found them somewhat alarming and potentially indicative of the ideological approach Roger is worried about.

    In general, I share Roger’s concerns. Culling quangos is easy to say, but in reality there are functions of government that require a high level of expertise that don’t necessarily justify full time staff. As I say, so far it’s +1 quango from the Tories.

    @Amber Star – very pleased to hear that from AB. I didn’t read the speech in detail and shouldd’t have assumed so much from the media reports.

  39. I’m looking forward to the result of the Thirsk and Malton election next Thursday and I assume there won’t be any local polls just to wet our appetites.

    This is my first contribution here but I’ve enjoyed reading the threads and hope to be able to join in from time to time!

  40. A YouGov survey for The Sunday Times showed David Miliband has 23% support among voters but surprisingly put Ms Abbott in second place on 9%, with Ed Miliband on 8%, Mr Balls 6%, Mr Burnham 4%, and Mr McDonnell 2%.

  41. @Amber Star
    Hi Amber, Burnham so low! I did mention to Colin that AB always appears to be wearing kohl or maskara, its clearly denting his image.

  42. AMBER STAR

    This poll probably reflects a low level of voter recognition with the exception of Milliband Senior and Ms Abbott probably features well because she turns up on various TV programmes and is fairly well known for her appearances with Portillo on the Politics Show.

  43. I wouldn’t be surprised if Diane Abbot won. She is nothing like the other candidates and if she got into Number 10, America would be so jelous. A women from an ethnic minority background. Kinnock should be supporting her. Not Ed Milliband.

    But as I am not a member of the Labour party, my view is as important as a dead flys. ;)

  44. Latest Ladbrooks

    •4/7 David Miliband
    •3/1 Ed Miliband
    •7/1 Andy Burnham
    •10/1 Ed Balls
    •20/1 Diane Abbott
    •100/1 John McDonnell

    your ( & mine ;-) man moving up Amber.

    But I think your going to get MiliBland.

  45. @ ALEC

    “In general, I share Roger’s concerns”

    Yes-I know you do Alec.
    I am sure all those vital high level experts will be very grateful.

    Me?-I just want to get rid of the pointless ones quickly.

    Actually , it seems that Monday will be mainly a list of Whitehall largesse with blue lines through it.

    These people lived on a different planet-but the space ship from earth is just about to land. :-)

  46. Just watched Burnham on Marr-iPlayer.

    Oh dear-not what I expected.

    “Lets not walk away from NewLabour’s founding principles”-problem was “perception” rather than policy-“continuity candidate” etc etc.

    Mmmm-still if that’s what he thinks is the answer to those 90 seats-good luck to him !

  47. @Colin – I agree that there is a ‘quangocracy’ that feeds off itself in a pointless and expensive spiral. I was merely making the point that I think Roger’s point about ideologically inspired decisions may be more accurate over time. Cameron has a lot of people he wants to keep happy. the classic way to this….is appoint them to various public bodies.

  48. @ David B

    I agree – the position of the candidates is simply a matter of media exposure. 8-)

    @ Kyle

    It’s not going to be Dianne Abbott; she won’t get the backing of the MPs & Unions, whatever the general public think of her.

    @ Colin

    Keep in mind, Labour do not need a radical policy shift. It is clarity in implementing & explaining policy that is required. I thought Andy Burnham was a little tense on Marr’s show; he has been the quiet man of New Labour politics – in comparison to the other candidates – so he is less accustomed to being interviewed.

    I like him more after this interview. He sounded sincere & pragmatic. Run it again on i-player & consider how he meets complex points with honesty & plain spoken sincerity. His ideas come from his own background & experience – not anecdotes about a blackman he spoke to in Portsmouth. ;-)

    @ Roland Haines

    Andy wears less make up than David Cameron & would require considerably less airbrushing were he to appear on giant posters. :-)

  49. @ Colin

    I do agree, though. I think David Miliband is most likely to win it; & if that is the decision of the Party the rest of us will get behind him regardless of our own preferences.

  50. Any reaction from Frank Field to Cameron’s offer of a post? Where will he sit in the HoC?Suspect it will be a step too far for him,

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