After a long break the regular Populus polls for the Times start up again in tomorrow’s paper – the topline figures with changes from October are CON 36%(-2), LAB 39%(+1), LDEM 11%(-4). This three point lead is actually the lowest any of the regular pollsters are currently showing, but I expect we’ll find that’s because like ICM, Populus re-allocate don’t knows to the parties they voted for last time and these days that works against Labour.

The poll also asked people which they would prefer between the government’s strategy of eliminating the deficit in four years, or Labour’s policy of halving the deficit in four years (although notably the question itself did NOT indicate to people that these were government and Labour policies) – people were pretty evenly split, with 46% prefering the government’s policy and 54% the opposition’s (I’m not sure if they add to 100% because it was a forced choice or because it’s been repercentaged to exclude don’t knows).

The Times report suggests there were also a series of questions rating the performance of cabinet ministers, but the details don’t seem to be online yet.

UPDATE: The daily YouGov/Sun poll is also out, and has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 43%, LD 9%.

UPDATE2: The 3 point Labour lead was indeed partially due to reallocating don’t knows. Without the reallocation the figures were CON 35%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%. After many years of the adjustment helping Labour in the polls it looks as though the days of shy Tories are gradually reappearing.


132 Responses to “New Populus poll shows 3 point Labour lead”

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  1. Anthony,

    Any joy on the fieldwork dates for that? Populus’s weighting system means the are less volatile but as you often say less likely to show the fullness of genuine shift.. perhaps their weighting to pass vote causes this… I like it as a methodology for a company who publishes infrequent polls… but regard it of less value for prodigous companeis like YG/ComR..

  2. *y & *ies :( [me bad]

  3. I would actually have thought that Populus would have shown an even between Tory and Labour due to the allocation of the don’t knows. Is actually a very good headline poll for Labour.

    Also shows how the coalitions policy for the economy is tanking. The Labour Party’s “idea” is ahead, despite the coalition keep saying the have no idea. So no idea seems to be favoured to the coalitions idea on the economy by the British public :-)

  4. Is this the highest others have ever been with Populus? Or is my maths becoming as bad as my typing?

  5. Red Rag – hell no, the re-allocation doesn’t make that much difference. Two points perhaps, sometimes even three… but if the unadjusted Labour lead is about 6 points (we don’t know yet) it almost certainly wouldn’t be adjusted down to evens.

  6. Eoin – I don’t have dates yet, but Populus’s pattern for many years has been to do the fieldwork Fri-Sun and then publish in the Tuesday paper, so I’d be surprised if those weren’t the dates.

    They should be going back to monthly polls from now to boot.

  7. Anthony,

    Yeeehhhaaaaa! I like Populus :)

  8. Adjustments for pv, etc, Phil is ace at that analysis (he writes lazily).

    Others 14%? Do me a favour!

  9. Incidentally, Populus’s fieldwork would have straddled muscular-gate.. Does that mean there was a blue uptick? Seems surprising if others are 14%.

  10. There’s a good chance that others are at 13% actually – Labour’s unrounded score was 39.48%, so there’s a reasonable chance the figures sum to 99.

  11. So Anthony Populus is bang in the middle of the other polls with a possible 5-6% lead without the reallocation of don’t knows?

    Wonder what the next big move will be then barring a coalition F.U. or the economy tanking?

    Mays results?

  12. RR – well, I’m only guessing. Sod’s law is that I make a point about the reallocation of don’t knows and we’ll find it made no difference at all when the tables appear :)

    A 5 or 6 point lead if unadjusted would actually still be on the low side compared to other pollsters, rather than bang in the middle. At the moment ICM are showing a 4 point lead (7 without adjustment), YouGov have been showing around 6 or 7, ComRes had 9 in their last one, MORI 10 and Angus Reid 11.

    (Oh, and yes – I’d expect May’s results to give Labour a good boost from Miliband’s first big success at the polls)

  13. On the subject of unexpected polls ICM’s NotW effort is now up on their site:

    ht tp://www.icmresearch.co.uk/pdfs/2011_feb_notw_politics_poll.pdf

    As previously the poll did not include voting intention. They actually seem to be more concerned with gathering data fro the panel members than anything else.

  14. “Others 14%? Do me a favour!”

    Why not? Even YG showed 12% last poll (admittedly perhaps a bit of an outlier for ‘others’!)

  15. The lead is more narrow for Labour than in other polls but the trend mirrors the trends shown in the other parties (Labour is moving up, the Tories and Lib Dems are moving down).

  16. You Gov CON 37%, LAB 43%, LD 9%; APP -25

  17. I really think you should read this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/tax-city-heist-of-century

    Going over the top?

  18. NickP. Thanks for the link. What do you think the effect on the polls will be?

  19. Interesting and disturbing. I think I’d want to read an article on the same subject from a differently-oriented journalist before starting to reach my own judgement though.

    I don’t object to low taxes, but I do believe that the wealthy (including corporations) should actually pay taxes.

  20. “The government suffered a narrow defeat in the House of Lords on Monday night when rebel Tories joined forces with Labour peers to make the planned referendum on electoral reform non-binding if turnout falls below 40%.”

    Fascinating if it does fail to make 40%.

    Turnout at the last local elections not held on the same day as a general election (2009 same day as the Euro elections) was 35% in english counties, 39% in Shires and 41% in Unitaries.

    In the english metropolitans in 2008 it was 34%.

    Scots parliament was 52% in 2007 and Scots locals in 2007 was 53%.

    Welsh assembly was 43% in 2007 and welsh councils in 2008 was 45%.

    Its going to be a squeaker….

  21. Hal

    I don’t know. As Neil A says, even though I am suspicious of the Government, I am not so partisan that I take what I am told at face value.

    Worryingly, even if my worse fears are realised, the effect on polls might well be negligible. Because nobody is going to take it to the voters and explain it.

  22. Makes you wonder if you wanted a no result from the referendum, would it be better to vote no, or spoil your ballot? (I assume spoiled ballots would count as abstentions)

    Are predictions of turnouts at all reliable in these cases?

  23. Alan

    On the earlier thread I speculated that (should the 40% thing stick) the NO campaign culd just be “don’t vote at all.”

    That would put the onus on the YES campaign to get 40% of the electorate out to vote yes.

  24. Glad to see someone has picked up on the tax story. I’ve been following this for a while, and the article seems broadly correct in its analysis, despite the clear prejudices of it’s author.

    It is a pretty astonishing shift in tax policy and it has largely come about because the Treasury asks for advice on taxing big business from big business.

    In terms of what it will do in the polls, I think not a lot, or at least not a lot yet and in isolation. At some stage, the small and disparate campaigns on the tax gap could be formed into a coherent political message. I would steal the Big Society concept from under the government’s nose, wrap it up with talk of the social deficit, feed in the tax gap, and seek to craft a coherent message that addresses voters concerns and shows them a way through the problems.

    I seriously doubt the modern Labour party could get anywhere near this, but funnily enough there is a party that has been campaigning on these very issues for a considerable time. But if I tell you which one I’ll be snipped for being partisan…

    A final thought; If a Dutchman and and Englishman each save the same amount for a private pension in their respective countries, on average the Dutchman will end up receiving a pension 30% bigger than the Englishman. Why? Because the UK finance industry have opaque, multi layered fees and charges that are three times greater than any other developed nation in order to ensure the banks can earn a fortune. Successive governments have refused to regulate on this, meaning millions of poor pensioners.

    The entire decision making system of government in the UK has been captured by big business and in particular the city financiers. If anyone here really is interested in politics and the democratic process you should start thinking about how to get your country back, instead of obsessing about a point or two on the opinion polls.

  25. I think the Monbiot article plays to a slowly forming narrative that, if it begins to resonate in the public’s mind, spells deep long term trouble for the Government. It could become the underpinning critique and line of opposition attack; an administration in deep thrall, and hock, to big business, dependent on patronage and sponsorship from interests who, in turn, they feel obliged to serve and, crucially, detached from, and unsympathetic to, the economic hardships of the vast majority of the people they govern.

    Some would say that this is a Conservative Government doing, well, what Conservative Governments do, and most of the people who financially back them would expect nothing less, but the problem this time is that they’re almost devoid of the political capital that comes with a popular mandate. They are senior partners in a coalition government who’s only real moral legitimacy is to govern from the centre in the national interest. That really is the sum total of what little mandate the public granted them in May 2010. What on earth are they doing getting involved in stealthily smuggling in crypto-Thatcherite tax policies like the ones described by Monbiot?

  26. Richard Murphy is always good on the tax issue- here are a couple just from today.

    h ttp://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2011/02/07/cameron-just-not-telling-the-truth-on-tax-cuts/

    h ttp://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2011/02/07/the-ft-misses-the-point-on-corporation-tax/

    h ttp://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2011/02/07/the-government-expands-its-plans-to-become-tax-haven-uk/

  27. Crossbatt11 – there was quite a funny moment on Newsnight recently during a debate on the super rich and what we should do with them. Someone sticking up for them was saying that these people are ‘supra national’ living beyond conventional nationalities, moving between top flight hotels in London, Shanghai, New York etc, describing them in god like terms as they drifted around the work making deals.

    They were stopped in their tracks when another panelist pointed out that the only reason they move effortlessly from country to country is because if they stayed too long in one place they would have to pay tax.

  28. No wonder the Tory cuts are deeper than Labour’s planned cuts yet they will pay off less of the debt…

  29. @Alec

    “describing them in god like terms as they drifted around the work making deals.”

    I thought we’d stopped thinking of them as the “Masters of the Universe” after the global financial crash of 2008!! It would appear that we’re still worshipping at their feet and are busily helping them reflate the next bubble to burst over all our heads at a time as yet unknown. But, rest assured, unless we learn the lessons, burst it will.

  30. Hmm, from a quick squiz at some of the sources, the rationale seems to run like this;

    Taxing the dividends of foreign subsidiaries was found to be illegal when HMRC lost a tax case against BAT in 2008. This contributed to a change in the rules in 2009, and Alastair Darling exempted foreign subsidiaries from Corporation Tax on their earnings.

    The preamble to the new proposal makes it clear that the main purpose is to harmonise the treatment of foreign branches with the treatment of foreign subsidiaries. ie extend the exemption of CT to them as well.

    I have no idea whether that is a good reason to do it or not, having no real understanding of international tax principles. What exactly is the difference between a subsidiary and a branch? Why would anyone operate a branch rather than a subsidiary when it pays more tax under the current rules? If the UK gets no CT from foreign branches/subsidiaries, do we get any tax benefit from their existance at all?

    I think it needs someone cleverer than me to research it. Perhaps not Richard Murphy, who despite the academic sounding URL of his website, I find to be a screeching partisan leftist most of the time.

  31. Regarding AV:

    On the basis of Rob Sheffield’s figures, I suggest that we might expect the following turnouts in the referendum, taking account of the fact that the AV referendum will boost turnout very slightly over the normal figures for other concurrent elections:
    – 55% in Scotland
    – 45% in Wales
    – 40% in England where there is also a local authority election (all mets, some shire authorities)
    – it’s anyone’s guess, but I suggest 15%-30% in England where AV is the sole reason to vote (remaining shire authorities, London)

    These very substantive differences in relative turnout will be mainly down to the existence of other elections and nothing to do with the merits of AV. So how legitimate will it then be to simply sum all of the votes across the UK, regardless of turnout, rather than aggregate or weight them in some other manner more akin to an electoral college (i.e. so that turnout in each area would become irrelevant)? The question of such legitimacy would become very real were the Lords amendment to hold and the result did turn out to be non-binding due to low turnout.

  32. Anthony, I’d take issue with your comment that the decision to not allocate ‘don’t knows’ to who they voted for in the last election would work against Labour. On the contrary, those who voted Lab at the last election would almost certainly vote Lab again in an election tomorrow; those who voted Conservative/Liberal at the last election might have changed their alleigances to Labour given recent events.

  33. Neil A

    And what you have just posted is not partisan rightist.

  34. If the amendment remains, and the turnout reaches 40%, the result will be seen as legitimate whatever the crossbreaks from the different parts of the country.

    If it doesn’t, or if the vote is “No” it won’t matter anyway.

    The amendment was clearly intended to generate additional delay in the hope of preventing passage of the bill in time for the referendum date. Personally I say, go for it. Get the referendum done, on the date proposed, with the amendment in if need be. If it can’t raise 40% then the people clearly aren’t much bothered anyway.

  35. @Roger,

    Was it? I was posing questions that’s all.

    In principle I’m all in favour of charging corporation tax on companies’ foreign earnings.

    But whenever someone proposes something, and someone else claims it’s virtually criminal, I want at least to have a peek at whatever arguments/rationale were advanced in it’s favour.

  36. “In previous referendums, the turnout has generally been above 50 per cent. It was 64 per cent in the 1975 referendum on the European Community, 60.2 per cent in the Scottish devolution referendum and 50.1 per cent in the Wales referendum in 1997.”

    It was also mentioned during the debate that 84%(unckecked figure) of the population will be eligible to go to the polls in other elections on May 5th. London makes up for a largish chunk of the remaining 16%.

  37. @Neil A

    “The amendment was clearly intended to generate additional delay in the hope of preventing passage of the bill in time for the referendum date.”

    Actually, seeing as the amendment was moved by Jeff Rooker, an ardent opponent of electoral reform, I suspect it was much more about trying to scupper AV full stop. I can’t answer for the motives of those who voted for it, but I suspect a lot of them had a similar view.

    I don’t think the Con-led government can possibly alow this to stand. The chances of a turnout less than 40% (especially given the opportunity for a “no vote = NO vote” campaign) are really very large, and a majority YES vote on a sub-40 turnout would almost instantly splinter the coalition.

  38. Hmm,

    Further reading reveals that the many other countries (Netherlands, Australia, Hong Kong were the first three I found) have identical foreign branch exemptions to the one proposed for the UK.

    Apparently the net cost to the Treasury will be about £100m per year. The exemption on CT will be partially offset by being ineligible for tax relief on losses from foreign branches.

    Still a giveaway to certain companies (mainly banks) but not quite the cataclysm it first seems. If anyone finds any more snippets do let post them here. My interest is piqued but it’s past bedtime.

  39. @Robin,

    Why would a sub-40% Yes vote splinter the coalition? Surely if the coalition survived the amendments to the bill, then it would be accepting the outcome of the referendum come what may?

    Presumably if the threshold wasn’t met but there was a decent margin for “yes” this would be seen as a mandate to try again, a la Scottish devolution?

  40. @Phil
    Does differential turnout matter in a single constutuency election?

    I don’t think 40% turnout will be a problem.

  41. @Neil A

    “Why would a sub-40% Yes vote splinter the coalition?”

    Because most of the Tory party is opposed to AV and would refuse to implement it, as would be their right. For many of the LDs, the referendum is the only reason for them to hold their nose. If they aren’t going to get AV, then the coalition would have little further value for them.

    My guess is that the result would be a few Orange bookers staying with the Tories and the rest adopting C&S. Voting down unpopular Con policies would be their best chance of recouping some of their lost vote share.

    Even if nothing quite so cataclysmic happened, the resentment in the LD ranks would poison any chance of the coalition being able to function.

  42. @Robin
    “I don’t think the Con-led government can possibly allow this to stand.”

    I think that you’re correct. But do they have sufficient parliamentary time to overturn it and still go ahead on 5 May?

    You question motives – I suggest that one quite proper motive might just be that of imposing a smidgen more of fairness on the process. Here’s why. IMO Clegg chose 5 May because it is about as partisan a date as you can get. He knows relative turnout will be much in his favour (i.e. relatively low compared to elsewhere in much of Conservative shire England, and relatively high in Scotland) . So in such circumstances, putting in place a turnout threshold seems entirely fair as a means of countering such gerrymandering-by-turnout on Clegg’s part. On the other hand, if the referendum were held after 5 May, relative turnout would not distort things. So if the need to overturn the 40% threshold forces a rescheduling of the referendum to later in 2011, we end up with a far fairer process which could properly lead to a binding result.

    (PS. Congratulations on getting away with “Con-led”.)

  43. @RAF

    “I don’t think 40% turnout will be a problem.”

    Average turnout in local elections for the last 10-15 years has been around 35%. And it tends to be larger in the shires, who aren’t voting this time round, and lower in urban areas, which are. Higher voting in Scotland and Wales will hardly make a dent – these two only account for 13% of the UK population. Even a 60% turnout here plus 35% in the rest of the UK is only 38%.

    Add in the effect of the threshold in making staying at home a valid anti-AV strategy, and 40% is far from certain.

  44. I wonder if Lord Faulkner would’ve needed all the filibustering, had he known the Rooker amendment would succeed.

    How much of a delay will this cause?
    8-)

  45. @Robin

    Point taken.

    But I don’t think you can measure likely turnout in the AV referendum by average recent turnout in local government elections.

    Actually the fact that there are no other elections in London could boost turnout for the AV referendun vote. And remember Londoners already use AV for the Mayoral elections.

  46. If the NO camp decides that not voting is a better strategy than voting NO then we are unlikely to reach the 40% threshold. However the bulk of those votes are likely to be YES votes. We could end up with a turnout of 39% but 100% YES, 0% NO which would leave us with a non-binding YES to AV.
    This has the making of a serious constitutional crisis with the HoL getting the blame. This amendment will go back for revision on practical grounds. If it doesn’t then I expect the revision of the HoL to follow swiftly.

  47. @all

    It’s late, and I’m b*******d if I’ll read thru these tonight. But for anybody who’s interested, the documentation relating to the proposed changes to Taxation of Foreign Branches are as follows:

    * h ttp://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/tax_foreign_branches.htm
    * h ttp://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/consult_taxation_of_foreign_branches.htm
    * h ttp://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/consult_taxation_of_foreign_branches_discussion.pdf
    * h ttp://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget-updates/autumn-tax/tiin1030.pdf
    * h ttp://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget-updates/autumn-tax/tiin1030.htm

    For the situation prior to the proposed changes, see h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_corporation_tax

    Regards, Martyn

  48. @ Crossbat11/Nick Hadley

    “I think the Monbiot article plays to a slowly forming narrative that, if it begins to resonate in the public’s mind, spells deep long term trouble for the Government. It could become the underpinning critique and line of opposition attack; an administration in deep thrall, and hock, to big business, dependent on patronage and sponsorship from interests who, in turn, they feel obliged to serve and, crucially, detached from, and unsympathetic to, the economic hardships of the vast majority of the people they govern.

    Some would say that this is a Conservative Government doing, well, what Conservative Governments do, and most of the people who financially back them would expect nothing less, but the problem this time is that they’re almost devoid of the political capital that comes with a popular mandate. They are senior partners in a coalition government who’s only real moral legitimacy is to govern from the centre in the national interest. That really is the sum total of what little mandate the public granted them in May 2010. What on earth are they doing getting involved in stealthily smuggling in crypto-Thatcherite tax policies like the ones described by Monbiot?”

    I think it’s similar to the Bush strategy. Regardless of the mandate you were given or even what you campaigned on, act as if you won in a landside and push as hard to the right as possible.

  49. @ Crossbat11/Nick Hadley

    “I thought we’d stopped thinking of them as the “Masters of the Universe” after the global financial crash of 2008!! It would appear that we’re still worshipping at their feet and are busily helping them reflate the next bubble to burst over all our heads at a time as yet unknown. But, rest assured, unless we learn the lessons, burst it will.”

    Heh, I felt the same way too. There’s a certain amount of chutzpah to act the way in which big Wall Street traders and bankers have acted. For years, they were left to their own devices, almost completely unregulated. They were all geniuses. In their exercise of extreme greed and mindnumbing ignorance, they nearly destroyed the global economy. They were saved by the government but essentially are on welfare. Now they see fit to dictate how economic policy should be run, take massive bonuses, and criticize regulations on the market (designed to prevent this from happenning again). Like, seriously, wtf?

    I think the lesson here that the ability to make lots of money doesn’t neccessarily equal intelligence.

  50. @ Amber Star

    “I wonder if Lord Faulkner would’ve needed all the filibustering, had he known the Rooker amendment would succeed.

    How much of a delay will this cause?”

    I have a question for you. If the House of Lords passes a bill that is different than the one passed in the House of Commons, who’s version prevails? Is there some sort of reconcilation process? And if the Rooker amendment prevailed by just one vote, couldn’t Cameron just appoint some new members to the House of Lords?

    Reading about all this stuff on the Guardian, I have to say I side/sympathize with the No side. Don’t mess with perfection.

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