I haven’t posted the daily YouGov figures for much of this week – simply because there hasn’t been much change – but after a while that itself is noteworthy. For the last three days YouGov has showed the Conservatives with a 2 point lead over Labour, with the Conservatives on 40-41%, Labour on 38-39% and the Liberal Democrats on 11-12%. If there ever really was a slight narrowing of the Conservative lead after the spending cuts it rapidly disappeared again – YouGov’s polls now are basically identical to those before the spending review.

The political debate for most of the week has been about housing benefit, which clearly hasn’t had any effect on support – not that we would expect it to. Straight after the budget in June when the housing benefit cap was first announced YouGov found 78% of people supporting it, ICM found 68% of people supported the cap. YouGov asked again in August as part of a poll to mark David Cameron’s 100 days in power and found 72% in support.

Of course, that was two months ago and it’s possible the focus on people in London losing their homes may have changed opinions… but I wouldn’t count on it. I expect we’ll see some more up to date polling on housing benefit sooner rather than later.

Public Sector voters

There was also a rather unremarked methodology shift from one of the pollsters this week. Back in 2008 when MORI reviewed their methodology after wrongly showing Ken Livingstone ahead in the London mayoral race, they discovered they had too many public sector workers in their telephone samples and started weighting according to it (quite drastically, it’s sometimes a case of almost halving the number of public sector workers). At the time I pondered whether, if MORI have too many public sector workers in their phone polls, would other phone pollsters have similar problems? At the time Andrew Cooper of Populus pointed out – correctly – that it was worth looking at but if there was a problem it shouldn’t affect voting intention as past vote weighting should sort that out.

Well, this month Populus have gone down MORI’s route and weighted their poll by public and private sector employment. As with MORI’s experience, it’s quite a big shift, weighting public service employees down from 19% of the sample to 12%. This may well still not make any difference to voting intention, but it might well make an impact on questions about the cuts, were there are big differences between public and private sector opinions – for example, Populus found 46% of private sector employees thought the cuts were fair, but only 27% of public sector employees.

Voting intention amongst public sector employees is hard to judge, since the sample size of public sector voters in standard polls is often under 200, so is very volatile (for example, this month Populus found the Lib Dems on 17% amongst public sector voters, ICM found them on 8%). Looking at the handful of polls in recent months that have included a public sector cross break though the rough position seems to be that the Conservatives are at around 25%-30% and Labour around 45%-50%. The polls from the last Parliament showing the Conservatives ahead amongst public sector workers seem to be a distant memory.


Today there have been a couple of interesting posts by Mike Smithson and James Frayne on how salient an issue Europe is, or more to the point, how salient an issue it isn’t. Essentially there is no conflict between their views. Europe is, as Mike says, an issue of very low salience that currently excites no one but Conservative diehards and some UKIP supporters (yes, only some, YouGov polling at the time of the last European election suggested that many UKIP voters were more motivated by immigration than Europe as an issue). However, James is also correct that it has potential to be more salient – you only need to look at the graph Mike uses to illustrate his piece to see that back in the 1990s more than 30% of people used to cite Europe as one of the most important issues facing the country.

248 Responses to “End of the week round up”

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  1. If true, this is good news for DC. His biggest threat is from the right-wing of the party. They have been remarkably quiet since the election. But if Europe were to become more of an issue (for voters) then they may not be so inclined to keep quiet.
    Needless to say, Europe is also something which could split the coalition.
    On the same subject, can any Tories enlighten me as to how much influence Norman Tebbit has these days on opinion in the Tory party?

  2. Julian,

    Less than Kinnock…..

  3. Anthony, are you not going to report on the YouGov/Scotland on Sunday poll showing that Salmond has a huge lead over Gray, with independence up several points too?

    You usually report such polls.

  4. Stuart,

    Net support for indenpendance was up by 14%
    Support for new tax raising powers (beyond Calman) was supported by the majority of reds (yes Red!)
    And yes, personality wise, only 50% of Labour voters rated Ian Gray as number one.

    Reportworthy indeed.

  5. If public sector workers are more inclined to vote labour, does this mean a long term view of lowering Public sector workers, would result in less labour voters?

    Obviously being laid off would consign that vote forever labour, but as a long-term strategy…

  6. @HOODED
    Golly, that little. Whatever happened to Essex Man ;)

  7. Julian,

    Essex Man – he’s not our target customer, but he always comes in to buy anyway ;-)

    I personally think most highly of Lord Tebbit. Clearly Hooded Man is from a different wing of the party to me.
    I also think the perfect world and the achievable world are two different places, especially when the LDs are jointly holding power with you. Cameron has to act with skill in these circumstances. The DailyTelegraph
    SLASH TAXES AND HANG KILLERS approach has many attractions for people like me, but it is not just about people like me, or Lord Tebbit.


    Presumably SLASH KILLERS and HANG TAXES would have equal appeal to you?

  10. I’d go for Hang Slash and Tax Killers. I never liked Guns ‘n’ Roses and murderers could pay something back to the victims families.

  11. Since we are on an economy drive, shall we raise some taxes to rehabilitate the killers? :) Just a thought.

  12. Eoin

    Good idea. Those who were in the Armed Forces deserve to have some rehabilitation.

  13. Thank goodness for a new thread but pity posts are not moving on. Whether structurally giving a wrong picture or otherwise the YouGov results are remarkably consistent when one realise these are not trackers, they are new panels every time.
    So congrats to our host’s employers they have proved their credibility and we await the Event do we no?.

    Cameron not achieving any more than anyone else who claimed to have achieved something (I trawled the foreign press) will not be remembered as an Event.

    The Event (?) was the establishment of a defence fund for the Euro and UK is not interested in that (though perhaps it ought to be).

  14. Regarding the weighting of public sector workers (in particular in the context of Grearter London):

    I mentioned a few weeks back that the polls in the run-up to the general election seemed to be indicating a pro-Tory swing in London which was at least equal to (or even larger) than the nationwide swing. Yet the swing in the capital turned out to be much lower – something which may well be attributable to demographic change and to the diminished influence of the Iraq issue compared to 2005.

    Admittedly, these polls may have been the aggregated results of combining several months’ worth of data from the London breaks of nationwide polls (rather than polls which were conducted exclusively in London) – nevertheless, it surely suggests that by down weighting public sector workers the polls will be even further out than before.

    The most important determinant of voting behaviour in Greater London is ethnicity – and I would be interested to know what weighting is being done to ensure that the voting intentions of members of minority ethnic groups are correctly and proportionately reflected in the sample. Twenty-two years ago, when at MORI, I persuaded Bob Worcester that it would be useful for interviewers to record their estimate of each respondent’s ethnicity (as either white, Afro-Caribbean or Asian). It was noticeable that the proportions that came back were a bit of an understatement of the true proportions of the electorate accounted for by members of minority ethnic groups: at the time, I assumed this may because of a higher refusal rate among would-be respondents whose first language was not English (a factor that would potentially cause teething problems in terms of the successful completion of interviews).

    Of course now that MORI appear to do their voting intention surveys by phone (rather than face-to-face) weighting for ethnicity could be tricky.

    I accept that the polls that over-estimated Ken Livingstone’s support in the 2008 London Mayoral election need to look at their methodology and correct it accordingly – and if the proportion of public sector workers are the reason for this error then so be it – but what about the polls’ apparent UNDERestimation of Labour support in London in the recent general election? I do not recall a single poll that correctly identified Labour’s success in holding the swing down to only 2% in the capital. Indeed, did the polls not slightly under estimate Labour support nationally as well – and given that the down weighting of public sector workers is to be applied to the nationwide sampling frame, it’s hard to see how this will make the results any more accurate.

  15. Howard,

    On yesterdays thread mid morning, I warned that Caemron/Coulson (delete where appropriate) where playing politics with the 6% figure. Noone replied but I’ll sig it out and pot it again. You can raise these matters but if noone wants to converse on them, we cant make them :(

  16. Howard,

    I posted this yesterday

    Eoin Clarke

    Has Andy Coulson briefed a 6% budget increase for the EU just so that everyone whill applaud DC, when it is closer to 3.5%? Is it a very cheap politicla point?

    If the answer is yes, should Yvette Cooper not be on our tellies telling us that DC is orchestrating a storn in a teacup and that it is unlikely to be anywhere enar 6%?

    Handing your opponent frebbies such as the one DC will win today, is not very enlightened.

    October 28th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

  17. All of this EU budget stuff will go over voters’ heads.
    The only significance is that presumably a revised treaty will have to be ratified in parliament and it could open up the whole “shouldn’t decisions about the EU be put to areferendum” argument, thus forcing up Europe as an issue in the minds of the electorate.

  18. Julian

    3% UKIPPERS are the bane of blue existence. Nothing goes over their heads. just ask Roland.

  19. @Eoin
    Remember what AW pointed out – “YouGov polling at the time of the last European election suggested that many UKIP voters were more motivated by immigration than Europe as an issue”.
    So all DC has to do is be tough on immigration and he’s still kept most of that 3% on his side.
    I don’t think he’ll be panicking about this too much.

  20. Eoin

    The answer is yes, Yvette Cooper should and yes, she and Wayne David (Shadow Europe Minister) have. At least I’ve heard them on the radio pointing out that not only was the agreed settlement what was going to happen all along, but Cameron has actually abandoned what he said was the only acceptable result – no increase at all. I don’t know about TV, but I assume they got something there too. I didn’t hear them credit you for the advice though, I’m afraid. :P

    The 6% was the figure the European Parliament requested, but I presume that was always going a negotiating position. I suspect Coulson made a mistake on this one – spin isn’t effective if you can notice it. Also by drawing attention to the issue, the anti-EU wing of the Conservatives may come out of their cage looking for blood as Julian points out.

    I’ll reply to you on MoE later.

  21. I get the strong impression that all polls implying labour is doing well are suppressed until the tories improve.

    I wonder if anyone else has gained this quite possibly entirely erroneous impression?

  22. The Irish wanted 6% and wouldn’t sign the letter today……….don’t blame ’em for that, Cammo, however should have held out for a freeze, snag is of course, the 2.9% deal was negotiated by Labour, Cammo is too nice.

  23. @ Roger Mexico and Eoin

    Kevin Maguire was going for the Cameron/Coulson spin on the politics prog. BBC2 at noon – don’t know why I can never remember what it is called.

  24. Well I posted before DC departed for Brussels I mentioned how ‘pathetic’ the attempt the spin was. The increase has already been agreed by states beforehand and they were just spinning that they would ‘stand up to the EU commission’.

    PM Rutte of Holland has related that he had talks with Cameron long ago. Sarkozy and Merkel had agreed the figure anyway and what they agree is what is implemented.

    As trhe Polish delegation commented, ‘ it seems as usual we fail to get on withn the business while the various national representatives make overtures to their anti EU voters and press’.

    Pathetic. But none of this will have the slightest imnpact on voters (IMO)

  25. Ken

    Dream on old chap. Europe is neither run by the Irish nor the Brits.

    I know you don’t (dream on) actually.

  26. howard

    i agree that the establishment of a defence fund for the Euro was an event, but not one that will receive any attention in blighty

    i wonder how long before we start to hear about 2 speed europe

    of course in the long term a union of states some of which use a common currency and some that don’t is unstable. imo those countries which are serious about the union will adopt the euro and those that aren’t will have some kind of associate status

    i wonder in 20 years time how the UK(assuming that it still exists, that’s a 50/50) will vote when the choice is monetary union or isolation

  27. Stuart Dickson

    Re: the YouGov/Scotland on Sunday poll. What happened was the voting intention figure were released earlier in the week on the 21st and mentioned by Anthony here:

    ht tp://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2843

    They had already appeared on the Archive that day so there may be so discussion on the previous thread as well.

    The rest of the figures were held back for publication till the Sunday and there was some further discussion then. The Archive entry was updated with the extra info and re-dated to the 25th. I don’t think Anthony normally comments more than once on a poll, but as this discussion forum is not exactly short of Scots I don’t think the extra figures were ever going to pass without notice. ;)

  28. i wonder how long before we start to hear about 2 speed europe

    wrote R in N

    Do you mean ‘we; in Norway or ‘we’ here?

    I would suggest that the chance of anyone other than the FT giving due prominence to an historic development (still in embryo mind) is remote.

    I really was astonished how patsy-like the British press behaved and how lazy they were, simply taking Coulson’s handouts. I have wondered whether it has something to do with lack of foreign language skills?t

  29. @@@+ Howard………..In common with most reasonable people, I’ve had the passion conditioned out of me…….I feel a bit semi-skimmed. However, I have been getting a bit of vicarious passion, I log on to Sue Marsh’s blog………I don’t agree with her politics, but I admire her rawness and honesty. I’m finding it more and more difficult to get excited by politics,and now, I can’t even work up a good rant. :-)

  30. Coulson must have a long reach. I heard the Swedish PM being interviewed earlier today and supporting Cameron’s position, explicitly (ie “I support what Mr Cameron has initiated”).

  31. howard

    you are quite right. even when i’m living in england i tend to read a fair amount of international press, i can’t help myselv. the press in britain is not very thoughtful about europe and the direction in which it is going(i think that the econmist is good on this) but i remember in the early 90’s there was a lot of talk about two speed europe and i thought it could well come up again

    i meant to write, i wonder how long before we start to hear about 2 speed europe again. but i forgot the “again” at the end

    the “we” in this instance was a more general one, europe is a bit of a non issue in norway

  32. Neil A
    I think he’s taling about the letter they decided to write to the Commission. Ooh big deal.

    I am now avoiding Sue’s blog because I have been there…. etc, not personally you understand, but suffered with the consequences of what she describes, and, excuse me do,Ii just don’t want it as a daily feature of my life. Regular contributors know all about what we have suffered.

    I’ve had enough misery thank you.

    A wonderful lovely person.

  33. Roger Mexico

    just in case there is some perceived shortage of Scots :-) , I’m going to reference another (though a non-partisan one!) Gerry Hassan has a very thoughtful piece on the tensions in the UK as exemplified in QT last night.

    h ttp://www.gerryhassan.com/?cat=30

  34. @Richard in Norway, Howard

    Two speed Europe is fairly old idea. As is Multi-Speed Europe. It all started with the widening v deepening debate, an has snowballed from there. I even recall at the time of my LL.M. in 2001 reading about an EC/EU based on “variable geometry”!

  35. Howard…..Keep visiting Sue, she’s having a lovely leftie rant at the moment. :-)

  36. Raf

    “variable geometry”!


  37. RiN

    h ttp://www.cer.org.uk/articles/grant_prospect_july05.html

    “variable geometry”: the idea that not every country need take part in every policy but some can cooperate more closely.

    Still a terrible term, though!

  38. old nat

    horible idea alsø if you ask me

    i want to talk with you about Corby sometime, but i’m off too bed now so next week, if you are up to it


  39. RiN

    I’ll look forward to that.

  40. it’s been a stable week this week but hay i would still not bet down a labour lead at some point in the next year or so as the cuts kick in. the one thing i will be looking at is the council tax freeze kicking in next april if it runs ahead or not. i was at a meeting last night thursday 28th regarding cuts and the propect i was given was of hard decisions on local programmes. i would say a number of programes could go but would that be unpopular i don;t know.

  41. moderation, (anthony wells)

    can i ask why a seamingly normal non partizan comment is being moderated, just seams like free speach is being got rid of.

    [The system is set up so the first time someone posts (or if someone changes their name/email address and the system doesn’t recognise them) they get held back for manual moderation – AW]

  42. Sue’s blog is brilliant is becoming increasingly popular & appears as a link on many sites that I visit.

    Keep going with it, Sue. You are making a difference!

  43. @Sue Marsh – if you’re reading, I wanted to say that I have tried to post on your blog but it didn’t allow me to. I don’t have a google account etc and don’t particularly want one, so is there a straightforward way we can post like on here?

  44. I’ve just seen this on Politicshome – “The Treasury select committee will question chancellor George Osborne and chief secretary to the Treasury David Laws over proposed changes to child benefit because of fears they are unworkable.”

    I’ve been offline for a few hours, but have I missed something?

  45. EUROPE – as an active member of the European Movement I fall in to the category of being excited by the EU, not because I am a UKIP supporter, but because the EU is great for the UK – yes we do exist!
    I do however agree that very few people care about the issue either way. The anti EU movement is very well financed and highly vocal, with exceptional access to the media. But a lot of noise never translates in to support for their cause, as proven by real elections and most opinion polls.
    Thus I support the view that the Europe has little influence. Though Cameron’s daft publicity stunt of claiming a brilliant victory for a 2.9% rise, when that is what had already been agreed in August may have an effect, as it makes him look silly and that is a UK issue

  46. Eric Goodyear

    “Though Cameron’s daft publicity stunt of claiming a brilliant victory for a 2.9% rise, when that is what had already been agreed in August may have an effect, as it makes him look silly..”


    I doubt that it will have any obvious effect on VI by itself but I believe that over time it will be just another contributory factor in people becoming disillusioned with the gov/DC. It’s the way things work for all governments.

    Some people eg commentators will just view the episode as unnecessary attempt by DC to ‘look good’ to the electorate and perhaps the right wing of the Cons party. IMO all DC has done is draw the media’s attention to an issue that they will exploit. In a way, this is DC’s ‘opportunistic’ approach (which I’ve mentionend on threads here repeatedly) coming unstuck – as it inevitably would (and will continue to) at some point.

    The spin doctors at No 10 are in action.

  47. The threeLondon local council by election results on Thursday showed big increases in the Labour vote.

    Could this be a sign of a movement to the Reds?

    Ed Miliband’s speech in Scotland reads well.

    It is not going to be as easy for the Cons this time as it was in 1980 when their opponents were under Foot and pre 1985-6 Kinnock

  48. I suggest the stability in the Lab share of VI is very good for Lab. The Con gov has ridden the crest of a wave of popular announcements but they have not surged ahead.

    I notice the daily Express this morning also joining in the criticism of the CB change arguiing that it opens up the way to treat the state basic pension similarly.

  49. Oh my God I am horrified that the Tories aren’t surging ahead. I was really expecting them to be on 50%+ after the CSR announcement.

    Oh no, hang on…..

  50. Mike N,

    I agree. Reds upward curve may have a tortoise pace to it, but there is only one trajectory. 39% is now the average for the past five days. It appears blue are down 0.5% and yellow are down 0.5% (on the week). Impossible to say for sure but it appears some blues have permanently jumped ship. I must check the % of Don’t Knows fore each poll (or the would not votes) to see if these have been increasing. Are these people vowing to stay away from the polls or have they switched party preference?

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