Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%. This puts the Conservatives back ahead in YouGov’s poll after over a week of Labour leads or the two parties neck and neck.

From what we’ve got, it’s impossible to be certain of the underlying position. It could be that Labour are still ahead, and this poll is just a bit of an outlier, or it could be that there was a short-term movement against the Conservatives, possibly as a result of the protests against tuition fees, but it has faded away again as the news agenda has moved on.

273 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – 40/38/11”

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  1. Hooray! I can now read your hints like an open book, Anthony ;-)

  2. Amber,

    ‘The devil was in the detail’ for sure…

    I see the last sentence above reflects closely his option 3 earlier… :-)

  3. New student riot needed Amber, for your lot. Clearly, Lord Young is an unknown to voters (hear DC sighing ‘phew’).

  4. Let’s face it, it was all square a month ago, and it still is.

  5. Howard,

    Probably Lord Y won’t make any difference anyway, but it would have had minimal impact on this poll anyway – it closed at 4pm yesterday – by which time it would not even have seeped into the consciousness of the small minority who would care..

  6. Football about to start but surely 40 40 11 can’y be described as ‘all square’? (means labour OM).

  7. Hooded
    Yes the Sundays may still be rabbiting on about it so Monday night YG could shew an effect?

  8. Just sample variation imo. The underlying trend still reads Labour marginally ahead. I wonder if this will still be seen as YouGov being way out of line with other pollsters. Mentioning no nmes.

  9. That’s one for another, much earlier time.

    Enjoy the footy

  10. Whenever the Tories go behind in the polls, they make David Cameron more visible & Hague/ Gove/ Lansley less visible.

    And I am reasonably convinced that the Royal Engagement played its part in the bounce back too.

    I think the Sunday Times usually checks David Cameron’s approval +8% last week.

    @ Anthony,
    Do you have the PM’s approval, please – or will I have to wait until YG puts it into their tracker/ archive?

    Thank you. 8-)

  11. Howard,

    Yes, I would imagine if there is an impact it would be Monday night, and lately Labour have dominated the early week polls…
    ….avid real-time news followers on here like myself consistently underestimate the length of time it takes for news to sink in to the rest of the country, if it sinks in at all….

  12. if we take the polls at face value, what they appear to indicate is extreme volatility. if that is the case would it be alarmist to ask if there is a sense of panic seeping into the general public

    looking at ireland your average voter will not know what to make of it, but they will feel that crisis is getting closer. i think we are dealing with stuff that’s under the surface, most people pay zero attention to news especially international news but they will be aware that it’s all bad news. it’s the drip drip of fear, who do you trust or rather who do you mistrust least

  13. Not a surprising poll in what has been generally a good week for the tories.The royal wedding has completely dominated the news ,coming as it did so conveniently
    after Camerons happiness index or whatever it was called.Fortuitous or what?

  14. RiN

    “who do you trust ”

    It would be interesting to see the results of YG’s Surveys for their financial clients. A couple of times I’ve been asked how much I trust a list of financial institutions. Naturally, I reply that I don’t trust any of them at all (they don’t give me a category for what I really think of them.)

  15. Garry K
    That’s one for another, much earlier time


    In between Bolton and Liverpool. My point was that Lab has an inbuilt advantage in seats distribution. Unless the Reform Bill is passed.

  16. yes, Anthony gave it away in his post…
    Had to be.

  17. There is a resilience (I’m finished with footy) in the Tory %, is there not? I think that ‘governments lose elections’ is the mantra so, despite my earlier comment, It is more important for Labour to see Con spiralling down to 35 than it is to get even a good lead.

    I agree with Eoin. (in short).

  18. Howard,

    Agree with what you say. We have yet to see any firm evidence that either blues are turning or will turn red, or blues dipping consistently below GE levels. Once that happens then I think ‘crossover’ or ‘game-change’ can be signalled…….
    At the moment there is still little that Tory voters in May 10 can point to as being ‘not what I voted for’, aside from the LD partnership and in the circumstances, for blues, there wasn’t any other option, and thus far the partnership has actually been welcomed by blue if the supplementary polls are to be believed…

  19. I think the student fees are unpopular.
    I think it means about £80 a month for the rest of your working life – very rough calculation.
    It’s probably the right policy though.

    This could have been influential when it was in the news, but then it might not have been the factor.

  20. I find it kinda odd that this poll runs a tracking poll almost every day even though an election is very far off. I’ve got to look back at the U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial polls to see how accurate YouGov actually was.

    I would think that the student protests would strengthen the government even if the tuition hikes were harming the government.

  21. @ Nick Hadley

    Wanted to respond to you from the earlier thread:

    “I read your earlier posts, by the way, talking about voter registration and turn out in the US and, as always, I found them fascinating. You make some telling points about some of the weaknesses of the US political system, and I was intrigued by your revelations about the electoral behavioural traits of the Latino population, but the US system has some intrinsic strengths and advantages too. I’m not sure your turn outs are startlingly lower than ours any longer and, while May’s GE turn out was a little up on the previous two elections, barely 60% of the UK population bothers to vote now, considerably less in by-elections, Euro and local elections. We have to register to get on to the electoral roll and that is now, especially amongst the young and disadvantaged sections of our population, becoming patchy and regionally variable. As I think Mike N pointed out, this should worry politicians of all parties and a concerted effort to reverse the trend should be a matter of consensus and concerted action, but I have my doubts. Whilst some parties may sense narrow political advantage in this state of affairs, I fear inaction will be our watch word.

    A little anecdote to illustrate my ambivalence about the US political system. I was in New York in December 2005 while a Governors election was taking place in nearby New Jersey. I watched some of the candidate’s TV adverts and was shocked, appalled and amused in equal measure. One candidate basically accused his opponent of being a tax dodger and a crook and other replied in kind with attack ads questioning his rival’s record of marital fidelity. Not a policy in sight. Incredible stuff. Then, on the other hand, when I was in LA in August 2008, the Obama campaign was starting to swing into gear. I came across three young black female campaigners manning a rickety and rudimentary stall that they’d set up in Hollywood Boulevard, selling baseball caps, badges, T shirts, flags and Obama DVDs. I stopped for a chat and asked them how it was going. They said it was not exactly natural Obama territory and they’d taken some stick, some good natured some less so. What struck me, however, was their sheer enthusiasm and excitement and tangible sense of political energy. They made politics seem fun and real again on that warm, sunny afternoon and I hadn’t seen anything remotely like it in my country for years. I bought an Obama baseball cap and, when I returned home, gave it to my 87 year old Dad. He still wears it with pride and he’s a lifelong Tory!! Do you think I may convert him before he’s 95? Tony Blair converted hid Dad when he was 70 odd, so I may have a chance!

    All the best to you over there in my second favourite country on the planet.”

    Some thoughts:

    1. Hollywood Boulevard is definitely Obama territory.

    2. I doubt they were campaign workers either since they were selling merchandise and since there was no Obama campaign in California.

    3. I’m chuckling over your 87 year old life long Tory dad proudly wearing an Obama baseball cap.

    4. With your Tory dad and prep school upbringing, how did you become a Labour voter?

    5. I think of the states with the most vapid and hollow politics, New Jersey probably is up there.

    6. A lot of Obama’s 08′ campaign was fluff. And I say that not because I don’t like him (I did vote for him and will do so again) but for the sake of honesty. So much of his campaign was about emotions and feelings and other non-essential stuff. During the Primary, at local Democratic clubs, speakers on behalf of Obama would spend their time talking about their personal life stories. These would usually culminate with their come-to-jesus moment about how they found Obama.

    I find that most people say they want to hear about policy but then the same people appreciate sound bites.

  22. I think this is a lesson in not getting too heated over the odd Labour lead – last week’s thread when Labour went +5 was a little overblown.

    The Tories are resilient at the moment, but there was definately significant movement downwards earlier in the week, showing that they won’t necessarily be able to ride through every event unscathed. This is important, as we really haven’t seen the impacts of all the announcements.

    [Snipped – AW]

  23. Would this survey have been taken before the ” we have never had it so good” speech?

    I agree with other commentators on here, Labour still ahead by a small margin.

  24. Another “No Change”. All the polls for weeks now have been the same. You can’t truly discern a 1 point movement here or there from figures with a 6 point (or more) range. Polls only claim to be within 3 points either way of the truth 95% of the time.

    I still think it would be better, this far from an election, to sample bigger groups less frequently. You would have a smaller margin of error but “only” one poll a fortnight.

  25. Gary – the fieldwork was Thursday afternoon till Friday afternoon, so while basically while the row was going on, but mostly before he actually resigned.

    Colin Green – you can get much the same effect by just taking an average of 2 weeks worth of polls (though of course, were there a genuine but short term movement in opinion you would never see it. Whether that actually matters or not is a different question)

    SoCalLib – how well a polling methodology works in one country is not necessarily a good guide to how well it does in another country. As it happens, YouGov had some very good results in the mid-terms, but then, Angus Reid had excellent results from Canada and were then a bit rubbish in the UK.

  26. I prefer Lab to have a lead over Cons of course, but I’m ok with these VI figures (MOE perhaps, anyway?).

    The gov have done well with its media manipulation and support – and enjoy a pretty solid level of support in the order of 39 to 41%.

    I think Lab are in the same range.

    All the minor events – like LordY, Woolas – might cause temporary blips. But it will require some signifcant event to change VI (one way or another).

  27. Reality somewhere like 40 40 11 atm I reckon

  28. @ Alec
    “the opposition to his reforms are growing.”

    Academics are certainly chuntering.

    But at the coal face :-

    “So what is the mood music emanating from the DoH? Deadlines for abolishing strategic health authorities and PCTs have been brought forward.

    This week GP newspaper also reveals exclusively the results of a survey of GPs conducted with the NHS Alliance, on the eve of the opening of its conference in Bournemouth. Back in July, two-thirds of GPs opposed the White Paper proposals for consortia membership to be compulsory.

    Fast forward four months and already more than half of GPs are now either in what they consider a GP consortia or a practice-based commissioning consortia that will become one.

    The White Paper may only have a small hardcore of enthusiastic support but that’s all that’s really needed for consortia to be led and commissioning to start.

    There are still problems to be overcome; most GPs want the NHS Commissioning Board to hold GP contracts rather than consortia and most think consortia shouldn’t be able to expel practices that underperform.

    There is also a concern about the speed of implementation, although the advent of pathfinder status does allow those consortia that are ready to have a go.

    The rest have until April 2013 before the last PCT will be abolished.

    The mood of GPs seems to have switched from opposition to cautious backing.”


  29. @ Mike N = agreed. It is all about the economy. I have to say I am gloomy. With the Lib Dems having faded (permanently in my view), things are very polarised, Labour Tory – poor rich – North South – city town.

    [Snipped – Ian, if you haven’t read the comments policy please do, you are repeatedly stepping over it – AW]

  30. Another subject that could eventually make a large change is the state of universities. The impact of the changes is comletely unknown, because no-one can predict what the take-up of the new fees will be. Could there be a massive shortfall in university funding and some spectacular bankruptcies?

    In fact, has anyone noticed that many universities could well be insolvent right now? The teaching block grant has been all but abolished but parliament has not got round to providing an adequate replacement source of income. This means the money for staff salaries is not in place for the full duration of the courses even for existing students.

    So, with students in place, and a legally binding obligation to teach them, this counts as a large liability. On the other hand, continuing income is not assured on the other side of the balance sheet. Hence, barring cash reserves to draw on, any university could well be insolvent right now.

    So what’s the legal basis for making offers to new students? Isn’t there a law against trading while insolvent?

  31. While it gives some insight into the need for internal justification, Vince Cable’s comments don’t really improve the LD’s standing:

    We were *not* wrong to drop the tuition fees pledge.
    We did not win the election, therefore manifesto commitments have ‘lapsed’.

    I note that discussion about NHS reforms seem to be limited to what doctors think. From a patient’s perspective this is a taste of things to come, as the balance of power will be shifting significantly towards the decision making/judgement of an individual doctor in the context of their particular business model.

  32. I have never quite worked out why people from the rural parts of the south are overwhelmingly Tory. It cannot be about how well off people are in terms of finance, as many people living in countryside towns/villages are fairly poor. So there must be many other factors which apply. Perhaps they feel that the Tories ideals chime with their views and historically they have always voted that way. Labour are very poorly represented in many parts of the south, apart from the seats in central London and few elsewhere, so they are not really out there to be seen as helping with local issues.

    Why do I raise this in regard to polling. Well, my thought is that if the polling is done randomly within all the various groups the pollsters sample from, this is not really giving any indication of the true support. It could be picking up a slight overbalance of solid Tory support in the south, which is affecting the overall rating.

    Question is therefore. Should the pollsters just concentrate their polling on the current swing seats and those that are likely to be swing seats (with likely boundary changes) at the next GE ?

  33. @Steve

    1. Universities
    2. Schools
    3. Health care

  34. [Snipped – will people please not treat the comments board as a “show and tell” for the latest nasty thing the the government/opposition has done. It just leads to attempts from the other side to rebut it and the sort of silly conversations that are supposed to be banned here – AW]

  35. @ Alec

    I think GPs are only just beginning to realise the implications of switching health care rationing (that’s what it is, whatever anyone says, and quite sensibly so) from NICE to GPs. They are just starting to understand that once a GP has to explain to her patient that treatment X is not going to be made availabe because of budgeting decisions made at that surgery, they will face patient anger and the bond of trust between GP and patient strains to breaking point. The talk is of pickets outside surgeries and GPs ‘with expensive BMW’s’ facing patient anger at denial of treatments.

    I haven’t read anything about this, where did you get your information?

  36. @ Hal

    You are absolutely correct. At the next GE the LP should be campaigning for nationalisation of the NHS, taking schools back from the private management companies and re-funding the Universities. They could also take back the rail franchises as they expire too, and re-nationalise the railways.

    The polls repeatedly indicate that the overwhelming majority of the electorate do not want these services privatised.

  37. @ Steve

    There was an article in Guardian Saturday. Dr Clare Gerada has just taken over Royal College of GPs, and it was in her statement.

  38. @ Syzagy

    Re Nationalisation

    We’re not in the 1940’s, 1950’s or 1960’s now, it didn’t work. Beecham wrecked the rail infrastructure of the country under nationalisation.

  39. @R Huckle – “… rural parts of the south are overwhelmingly Tory”

    Although there was a significant iron industry in Roman/Tudor times, the 19C social changes by-passed large areas of the south, and in rural areas you will still find an almost feudal relationship based around land ownership.

    I have somrtimes wondered whether the deeply conservative (small c) minset may also have something to do with suspicion and mistrust resulting from centuries lived on the frontline and under constant threat of invasion from the continent.

  40. @ Steve

    You illustrate very well how the Labour party is compromised by the legacy of New Labour.

    However, it was tory-lite. These coalition policies are on a completely different level.

  41. @ Steve

    I agree with you about Beecham wrecking the rail network, but the tax payers have to subsidize the private rail companies much more proportionately than they ever had to do when it was nationalised. Plus don’t forget the bail-outs that have had to happen, including the underground!

  42. It is very nice to be of the same mind as the great and the good. My view on the present situation is just the same as AW. Labour, the tiniest of leads, probably.

    The Tories have two strands, those who vote Tory, plus those who believe cuts are essential.

    Labour have two strands, those who vote Labour, plus those who think “cuts, this might mean me”.

    The overall result is near enough 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

  43. A couple of points where I feel I can contribute:

    Most country people tend to be conservative with a small c but what really put them off the Labour Party was the Hunting act. They considered it an attack by an urban based party with no understanding of the countryside.The fact that the act was so poorly drafted that it does not effect hunting is a relief, but does not wash away the betrayal.

    On the question of GPs. Remember that the people at the top of organizations such as the Royal College are political animals, miles away from the ‘coal face’.

    Certainly in my area, GPs are organised and are relishing the ability to direct thier paticents to whom they think best insread of leaving it to a facelss pen pusher

  44. @BILLY BOB
    I type this from a far north eastern tip of Wessex. The Mercian border is nearby, yes its the front line allright.
    Luckily we are to far inland to be attacked by the wild Hibernian hordes or from the opposite direction by the savage animals known as Danes or Friesians. However, we are on guard at all times. As for mistrust which leads us to be Tories, yes indeed you are right. However it has nothing to do with ancient British history, but everything to do with modern British history.

  45. Guys and Gals

    His name was Beeching not Beecham (who made the powders).

    His remit was to try and make the railways return a ‘profit’, in other words to deal with what was seen by the Con Government as a failure, not a success.

    There is a lot more to it but I will leave you to google and read up.

  46. @SYZERGY

    “However, it was tory-lite. These coalition policies are on a completely different level.”

    Its because the previous governments profligacy was on a different level.

  47. Just come back from a 2 day visit to the European Parliament.

    Two free lunches, one free breakfast and dinner. All transport around Bruselles paid for.

    And then at the end they gave us all 90 euros expenses in cash.

    You have to laugh or you would cry.

    Euro Crisis? What Euro crisis?

  48. If I might add. I think both Labour and the Conservatives will chunter along within 3-5 points of each other. Most people have made up their minds and are not listening to the pundits.Minor ruptions like Lord Young will not sway them. There is 4.5 years to the election so it really does not matter. I also think that the Liberals have returned to their normal percentages between elections.

    I think we get over excited with a few ups and downs.

    My 84 year old mother from California is an Obama fan as is my half sister. They would have preferred old mother Clinton, but are just glad to by rid of Dubya.
    As for your dad wearing an Obama cap, well, from what you say he sounds like a first rate man, much more likable than you.

  50. @ Howard

    Sorry, my fault. Did you ever accidently chew a Beechams Pill, Uuuurgh!

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