YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%.

The four point lead is probably on the low side due to normal random variation, but YouGov’s daily poll does seem to be showing the Labour lead down a bit from that earlier in the month. For a short while YouGov was showing a Labour lead consistently at 7 or above, and showed two 10 point leads within a single week. In the past week only one poll has shown the lead above 6 and we’ve had two polls showing 4 point leads.

My guess is that it’s down to a change of the news agenda. Go back a week or two and political news was largely dominated by stories about cuts – about the state of the finances, closing libraries, cutting local services, selling forests and so on. In the last week the political news has instead been about AV, Libya and David Cameron being rude about European judges.

I would caution Conservatives against taking much cheer from it though – the tide hasn’t turned, spending cuts and the state of the economy will certainly be back at the top of the news agenda soon enough, and will likely get right back to sapping government support.


90 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 38%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%”

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  1. @Jimjam

    You rightly say that a rise in interest rates will affect mortgage rates and those borrowers’ disposable income. However the partial counter to that is a rise in savings rates which will raise savers’ disposable income. We currently borrow more than we save but the savers outnumber the borrowers by six to one.
    My estimate is that a 1% rise in rates is equivalent to a 1p rise in income tax for the overall economy.

    The impact on consumption depends on whether the savers reduced their consumption or dug into savings and whether the borrowers repaid any loans or just spent the windfall? It’s probably a bit of both for all parties.

    The current situation is that the spread is rebuilding the banks’ profitability at the expense of the savers.
    As various QE measures expire then the banks will need to pay better for deposits. Either the spread will narrow or both mortgage and savings rates will rise whether base rates rise or not. Even if rates rise borrowers are getting the benefit of inflation devaluing their loan amount in real terms while savings are being decayed.

  2. Parties tend to be judged by their leader and not their back up team.

    By making a quick apology for what was clearly not his personal failure, and then returning to take charge DC could come out of this quite well, particulalry if he manages to get the rest of the Brits out of the Desert.

    Clegg “forgot he was in charge while DC was away” Says it all really. The man is close to a nervous breakdown IMO.

    Hague. Got to go. A Foreign Sec. should not be spouting unsubsatantiated rumours on prime time TV about dictators travel plans. He was clearly out of his depth and had to be rescued by Liam Fox.

    The Navy and the RAF will be happy and start putting the pressure on for a retention of some form of Naval airpower. Can DC manage another U turn, justifying it because of the surprise “events” in the Middle East?

  3. @Roger Mexico – “Too hard for the tooth of time… ”

    “… a diamond on the finger of a man of wit, and a pebble in the hand of a fool.”

  4. @John F,

    There has been a lot of negative comment about Hague’s “I have seen information to suggest” remark about Venezuela. When I heard it I actually thought he was being quite tactically astute.

    What he said was self-evidently true, not only he but all of us (thanks to the information superhighway) has “seen information to suggest”. But the effect of his remark was to keep that particular rumour circulating a little bit longer and give it a little bit of extra credence.

    It is my provisional view that it was the Venezuela rumour that was the catalyst for Gadaffi’s bizarre “Umbrella and Milk Float” appearance on TV. All he said in that appearance was that he was still in Libya, and the umbrella seemed to me to be there to “prove the point” (given that it was chucking it down in Libya that day).

    There is no question that this appearance by Gadaffi contributed to the (admittedly, already pretty powerful) mood of defiance. He looked utterly bonkers and defections from his regime seemed (in my provisional view) to increase.

    I think Hague was deliberately bad-mouthing Gadaffi in a sneaky and insidious way in order to further undermine his support. Fantastic bit of diplomacy I reckon.

    As for the wider failures in the evacuation effort, no doubt we will find out in the fullness of time what went wrong and who is actually to blame for it. But I applaud Cameron for taking corporate responsibility. I also don’t happen to agree that, as some have suggested, there is no way people would have personally blamed Cameron for the failings. They would, could and did (and still will). That’s politics.

    For now let’s just be glad that no Britons appear to have been injured or killed and hope beyond hope that it stays that way.

  5. As for a U-turn on the RAF and Navy, I’d love to see a small gesture. The combination of the £10bn less PSBR than expected plus the Middle East crisis (and HMS Cumberland’s part in it) might open the door for a reprieve for a couple of the Type 22s. Even if it’s only temporary (and all reprieves for warships are, or we’d still be sending HMS Victory out under sail) it would be a filip for people in my neck of the woods who are dreading the loss of the frigate fleet from Plymouth and the job losses that go with it.

  6. @ Neil A.

    I’m sorry I disgree about Hague. The outcome of him remarks may well have been that mad rant bt Gaddafi from a golf cart, but I don’t for a second think it was part of some cunning plan. And anyway if it was there a plenty of ways of getting such a rumour into the public domain without our Foreigh Secretary engaging in tittle tattle.

    However I do agree about the U turn on defence. The MOD really did need the fear of god put into them. The money they have wasted on procurment is a national disgrace. In Liam Fox I think they have a boss who will finally put an end to the apalling culture there. However this might be an opportune moment to make a gesture to the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and their back up teams (HM dockyards) and give them something of a reprieve. After all they are not to blame for their bosses (both military and civil service) incompetence.

  7. Kevin

    Tiny numbers, but potentially repeated on disparate issues. These are “certain to vote” voters, and elderly Consrvatives are the most loyal group of all.

    I think the important aspect is related to JimJam’s point. Once they are forced to recognise that doctrinaire policies unimaginatively applied can have unintended consequences, they may take offence irrevocably.

    Even so, they may just become non-voters, and vocal girners amongst their peers, none of whom are going to be around for long, but they are now gone for ever as Conservative supporters

  8. Mr Hunt said: “The most significant news is that SAS troops are now ready to spring into action.”

    Tactically astute?

  9. @ John Fletcher

    “A Foreign Sec. should not be spouting unsubsatantiated rumours on prime time TV about dictators travel plans”

    It was apparently given to Hague by Cathy Ashton-Grand Panjandrum etc of the EU.

    I thought that was very amusing :-)

  10. ALEKSANDAR

    A very interesting post with points people often ignore.

    I saw an interview with a ( ?the) Finance Minister of GErmany recently.

    He described his amazement ( & not a little disdain) for a country in which interest rates are so linked to domestic housing , as well as to the real economy.

    He set out the German model-mostly rented accommodation, houses as places to live & not as investments, real estate prices long term stable.

    It made me realise how much our economy has depended on ephemeral things like house values, and how hamstrung is the MPC with an instrument which impacts both the real economy , and accommodation costs , without any means of decoupling the latter from it.

  11. @ Colin

    It was apparently given to Hague by Cathy Ashton-Grand Panjandrum etc of the EU.

    ________________________________________

    Serves him right for believing anything that comes out of Europe. Fancy him being wrong footed by an intelectual giant such as the worthy Baroness.

    Completely vindicates my opinion that Hague MUST go. :D

  12. DC has just been on TV making it clear to the Gaddaffi clan & his circle, that he will be held accountable for his actions .

    He said the INternational Court has” a long memory & a long reach”.

    I have a feeling that if his own people get to him first , he will die by their hand or his own.

  13. John

    Oops-wrong post.

    I agree with you-sadly.

    I like & admire WH.

    But he has seemed somehow semi-detached in office this time.

    Parhaps his political life started way too early .

  14. @ Colin

    He said the INternational Court has” a long memory & a long reach”.

    _________________________________________

    Long enough to get their hands on Tony Blair and George Bush?????

  15. @ Colin

    But he has seemed somehow semi-detached in office this time.

    ________________________________________

    Exactly. Perfect description. I quite like him as well but right now he is just not up to the job.

  16. “Long enough to get their hands on Tony Blair and George Bush?????”

    Well they aren’t holed up anywhere-so one can only presume that the case against them is not cast iron….unless someone is working on iy :-)

    Perhaps they will both be long term guests of Comrade Chavez ?

  17. @Colin

    I’d go further and question the wisdom of raising interest rates in the current environment. It may lift sterling and reduce commodity costs in pound terms but this is not guaranteed. It certainly will not reduce the price of oil or wheat on the world market. We would be better off reducing our dependence by using less. Of course any minister advising such action in the current fuel crisis would be crucified.

    On a personal note I have a heavy right foot but the recent pump prices have me thinking less ‘boy racer ‘ and more ‘one careful owner’.

  18. Re WH and whether he is up to the job.

    I think it’s unfair to single him out.

  19. Clegg “forgot he was in charge while DC was away” Says it all really. The man is close to a nervous breakdown IMO.
    ———————————-
    Clegg wasn’t in charge; he knew he wasn’t & it was a joke.

    It may have been an ill-advised joke but I thought it was funny. :-)

  20. I think although raising interest rates is going to be painful, it will have to come simply to satisfy the market. We don’t want a weak pound, and we don’t need the market to lose whatever strained confidence it has in the BOE, nor do I wish to think about the higher interest rates needed later on.

    Personally, I think every month that goes by with the BOE forgetting its inflation-fighting/long-term economic stability remit, the more it risks seeming absurd, even irrelevant.

  21. Colin

    Using interest rates to control inflation/demand is really crude and has harmful/unintended effects, plus as we are now seeing it has limitations.

    The most suitable tool is direct taxation that can be varied at a moment’s notice … but that’s unlikely to ever be available to governments.

  22. Alec 11.11:
    I fully agree with your reasoning that the Iraq war had valid reasons, nice to hear it from a green!. The enormous anti-war bias was massively media-driven and very unbalanced in its coverage. As a nation we became full of what was basically very selfish “this war didn’t benefit us, it’s cost us a lot…” (i.e. “I am not going to say so but I am turning a blind eye to the plight of millions of suppressed/persecuted persons”!) kind of rhetoric. It was nicely covered with this ongoing caveat that it wasn’t legal “so I am on moral high ground in opposing it”. Eventually lots of not very well informed people jumped on the bandwagon, especially as they were now not liking/trusting TB nearly so much. Of course you can sympathise with those who lost loved ones in battle seeing things through a narrow prism – although in fact families of soldiers are the last ones to complain, they’re actually quite proud of the sacrifices made.

  23. @ Mike N

    Re WH and whether he is up to the job.

    I think it’s unfair to single him out.
    ———————-
    ROFLOL :-)

  24. R Huckle 11.17

    Surprised that you think it’s been such a poor year for the coalition so far. One of the parties has picked up a little in the polls and the other one is not faring any worse than the average person on here was predicting before Xmas.

    Granted that they’re having a difficult time – but every body expected that, including themselves.

  25. @Mike N – I agree

    btw, the GDP drop last quarter is slightly worse than previously announced.

  26. Anthony Wells @ Jon92 –

    “A majority of people in England support putting the clocks forward an extra hour, a majority of people in Scotland oppose it.”

    That’s only the half of it.

    A majority of Scots in favour are probably urbanites in the two largest and sothernmost city conurbations, and the majority of those against are probably not only much further North, but are in areas dominated by agriculture related industries where there are morning school run commutes of an hour for five year olds.

    The same part of Scotland that is most affected has been till now solidly LibDem and if LibDem MSP’s are tainted by association they will suffer at the polls in May. Only LibDems and SNP are in contention in these constituencies, and the issue is the ideal one for the SNP to make fuss over.

    It’s a reserved matter, and the Scottish Government wern’t consulted. Consultation would have been genuine and thorough if such a matter had been dealt with under the procedures of the Scottish Government.

    The issue is clearcut, and it would be hard to imagine anything – not even gun control – more likely to give the SNP an issue on which they can make a case for independence on the grounds that Scotland’s needs are ignored.

    That weegie cybernats make a fuss that the Scottish parliament and pople have been insulted will make a lot of noise, but no difference to anybody’s vote.

    On top of other issues, this could make any LibDem north of Stirling vulnerable. They should fear the wrath of the SFU.

    Expect Scots MP’s/MSP’s to rebel as it is conceded that they may do on constituency issues. Expect also large losses of support in May, which only the SNP and Greens are positioned to pick up.

    In the remotest part of the UK – and only there – the LibDems are in serious trouble on this, but that is where they literally have most to lose. I would go so far as to say that (depending on how the matter is handled) even the Northern isles could be vulnerable.

    That’s like the Conservatives losing Tatton or Labour losing Motherwell. These things are possible, but imaginable only if the party which holds the seat self-harms to a dramatic degree. The LibDems arn’t so stupid as to let that happen. Are they?

    If Ihave contributed anything of value to the discussion on these pages it is to emphasise the regional nature of Scottish politics. This is a matter which of its essence is regional.

    The unemployed Glaswegian gets out of bed whenever he feels like it, and that won’t change. It won’t make much difference to me. I’m retired. Those to whom the issue matters at all are few but it matters a lot, they are in LibDem/SNP constituencies and they are against it.

    There are things Scottish LibDem MP’s/MSP’s can do to protect their mortgages, but their first difficulty is getting other LibDem MP’s and their coalition cabinet colleagues to understand that they really do have a serious problem. If they fail in that, their losses in May will be dramatic.

  27. @ Amber & Mike N

    Glad to see you are both defending members of the coalition government Messers Clegg and Hague. :D

  28. @ BT Says

    Re comment that the coalition have had a poor start to 2011.

    This is nothing to do with polling. I am referring to lack of clear communicated strategies in many areas. On several occasions Cameron has had to ride to the rescue, as one of his team has got into difficulty. e.g. Lansley very knowledgeable about the NHS, but so far poor at explaning the changes he wants to make. Spelman consultation on forestry sales was poorly handled. Hague on the Libya situation and evacuation of British citizens. Pickles not explaning reasons for frontloading of cuts has angered local authorities of all political colours. Just a few examples that come to mind.

    Someone commented that parties are judged by leaders, which may be the case. But has Cameron been a good leader so far ? I personally don’t think so and nor does he, which is probably why he is beefing up the no.10 team.

  29. ALEKSANDER

    THanks

    On balance I am with Andrew Sentance &would now favour a rise-a modest one-perhaps a series of small steps.

    To the extent that it lifts sterling -& I would have thought it will-that is a direct counter to our imported inflation.

    Any rise in rates for savers will have the advantages you highlighted.

    Interest rates to the Industrial & Commercial sector would seem to be as linked to measures like LIBR, as to Base Rate-& anyway, supply of credit is their problem at present rather than the cost of it.

    THat leaves mortgage holders-but they have had a huge windfall over the last two years. Some have continued payment levels & thus paid down debt. Others have no doubt consumed more . THey need to be returned to the real world in a controlled fashion.

    And at some point this economy has to become less reliant on domestic consumption, and more orientated to international trade.EXports look to be on the up-so maybe now is the time to feed that transition a little.

  30. Colin,

    I tend to agree with you but worry about the effect on exports of a higher pound, GO’s assumptions on export growth already seem a little optimistic.

  31. KeithP
    “the GDP drop last quarter is slightly worse than previously announced”

    I haven’t see that mentioned elsewhere yet.

    Grim.

    This will damage Con VI, surely?

    The Budget (and OBR report) will be v interesting.

  32. Alec/BT Says

    The trouble with the regime change defence of the Iraq invasion is that you have then got to prove you made things a lot better than they would have been. If you claim to be going in to remove (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction, then you have a defined aim. If you’re going to change the regime, you have to replace it with something a lot better.

    Instead it is admitted that the invasion happened will very little planning for what happened afterwards, and most of that ignored. Despite the military victory being easier than anyone expected the result was a situation that continued to get worse for years afterwards.

    Murderous though Hussein’s regime was, he probably wouldn’t have killed as many civilians as have died in Iraq since the invasion or sent as many into exile as have since had to flee. Nearly eight years after, the country is still a mess. I don’t think many Iraqis regret the old regime, but they do think things could have been done better.

    After all that suffering, claiming that the invasion of Iraq somehow inspired what happened in North Africa and elsewhere is a sick joke. In fact all it did was make democracy a dirty word in the Arab world for several years and made it unlikely that armed intervention would be used again, no matter how justified. If Blair and co are going round taking credit, they’ll earn nothing but contempt from those who actually carried out these, so far unfinished, revolutions.

  33. JIM JAM

    It would be a hurdle for exporters certainly.

    2011 Q1 might give us a clue about things now that the snow factor has gone.

  34. Colin,

    I am in the export business and January was a good month because in December many vessels could not dock, hence deep sea imports could not be delivered leading to a shortage of containers for exports and shipod being 1-3 weeks behind depending on the port.

    Most of this was recovered in January but Feb has been typically slow, think we will need Q2 numbers to give a better guide.

  35. Roger M

    “Murderous though Hussein’s regime was, he probably wouldn’t have killed as many civilians as have died in Iraq since the invasion…”

    Pardon? I have sympathy with your comments that the aftermath of the invasion was ill-prepared for and very protracted, but I have to completely disagree with the statement above. Saddam was a monster who had murdered thousand upon thousand of his own people.
    I thought you of all people were quite knowledgable. Who could possibly estimate just how many people Saddam would have finished off – quietly or otherwise – if he had been still in charge the last 8 years?

  36. BT SAYS…

    Of course you can never say what might have happened, but you can look at the best estimates of how many he killed in the equivalent period before the invasion (as estimated by human rights organisations etc). Remember that the really big massacres (and the Iran-Iraq War – the biggest killer of all) had taken place before then and that the Kurdish north was fairly free of him since the first Gulf War. I don’t have any estimates to hand but I think the figures were only (!) in the thousands per year.

    Nobody thinks that the civilian death toll in the years after the invasion was less than a hundred thousand. It’s difficult to say because there have been so much displacement (internally and perhaps 2 million out of Iraq), and of course you’re most likely to flee if you have lost a family member. Some estimates have gone to a million deaths.

    Of course the vast majority of these were killed by their fellow Iraqis. It’s a stark reminder that what kills most people in these situations is the lack of law and order and the consequent breakdown of other services.

  37. JIM JAM

    THanks

    It’s good to hear from the coal face.

  38. @Roger,

    I think the correct question would be “if Saddam’s opponents had risen on their own without outside military intervention, how long would it have taken them to depose the regime, how many people would have died and how much damage would have been done to the country”.

    Post invasion Iraq has certainly been awful. But I think before and after comparisons are overdone. The dictator is gone. The people running the country may not be the noblest souls on earth, or the most competent administrators, but they were at least elected in free and fair(ish) elections. If the people of Iraq need to depose rules in future they can do so with a some purple ink on their fingertip and a pencil in their hand.

    I’ve been thinking much the same as Alec, although he was braver than me (especially coming from his end of the political spectrum) in saying it. I think the Iraq invasion may indeed have prompted a surge of belief in change in the Middle East. I think the turning point was the defection of the Sunnis to the pro-coalition side.

  39. Neil A

    The honest answer to most of these questions is that we don’t know. Certainly a rising in Iraq in 2003 would have been no more successful that the one that Papa Bush incited and then ignored after Gulf War One. It may be that more recent uprisings may have happened in Iraq too and with a similar result. On the other hand sanctions might have continued to cause excess mortality in Iraq and killed more people that way (that’s a whole other set of complex moral dilemmas).

    Certainly very few Iraqis would want to return to the pre-invasion situation, but other scenarios might have meant reaching the current situation with less bloodshed, less antagonism between Sunni and Shia and less wrecking of the physical and human infrastructure of the country.

    What I am pretty sure of is that none of the current uprisings owe anything to the Iraq invasion. Indeed one of the reasons that the movement has been pretty unsuccessful in Syria, is that ordinary Syrians having seen what disruption did to their neighbour and do not want to take any chances.

    There was an interesting post on the Golem XIV blog which did suggest on reason why the revolts happened where and when they did:

    http://golemxiv-credo.blogspot.com/2011/02/food-democracy-and-markets.html

    Maybe we should forget about Facebook, Twitter and Wikileaks. The latest reason for riots may also be the oldest.

  40. @Roger M – got to say that i think you’ve misread the situation. Like @BT says, I’m completely in agreement that the reasons given for going to war were false and that the post war period was a complete c*ck up. The timing was also poor in relation to Afghanistan, with the Iraq war diverting attention.

    i would disagree though that food prices are the main reason for the troubles. Access to basic commodities is very often a trigger for revolutions, but in my day the question “Food prices caused the French revolution:Discuss” was a standard A level exam question, and the answer was, as with any revolution, that there needs to be a trigger event but the discontent has to run deeper for a full rebellion.

    Food prices are the answer to the question ‘why now’. But if these were the only reason, we would see riots over the price of bread. What we see are riots over the standard of government and issues of liberty. These are concepts, not practical facts, and these uprisings are about concepts.

    We can argue about Iraq, relative suffering and the role of the west, but as a seriously left wing individual I have no doubt that at some level, seeing democracy in Iraq has had an impact on the aspirations of ordinary Arab people.

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