Tomorrow we have two actual elections to look at, both of which have been rather forgotten about.

First there is the Barnsley Central by-election. Barnsley Central is a safe Labour seat, and hence has attracted little attention – it will be held easily by Labour. In 2010 Labour received 47% of the vote, with the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives almost equal in second on 17% a piece (the Lib Dems got 6 more votes than the Tories). The BNP saved their deposit with 9%.

There has been only one poll of Barnsley Central, carried out by Survation. They put Labour on 63%, the Conservatives on 13%, UKIP on 9%, the Lib Dems on 6% and BNP on 4%. It has to be said, however, that Survation’s previous attempt at a by-election poll in Oldham East and Saddleworth wasn’t a fantastic success, showing the Lib Dems and Labour neck and neck.

Second there is the Welsh referendum on extending law making powers to the Welsh Assembly. Once again, the polls suggest that the result here will be almost a foregone conclusion. Today we have polls on the Welsh referendum from both YouGov and rmg:Clarity – a recent recruit to the British Polling Council. I know little about their methods, beyond the fact that it was a phone poll stratified by constituency, but either way, the two companies show almost identical results.

Rmg:Clarity found 49% intending to vote YES, 22% intending to vote NO. Repercentaged to exclude don’t knows that works out at 69% YES to 31% NO.

The YouGov poll for ITV Wales, weighted for likelihood to vote, showed YES on 61%, No on 28% and 12% don’t know. Repercentaged to exclude don’t knows the figures were identical to the rmg-clarity poll – 69% YES, 31% NO. Given that the turnout is likely to be very low indeed, we also tested out filtering by likelihood to vote and including people who said they were 10/10 certain to vote – the figures were still 69% yes to 31% no.

Note that there will not be a YouGov voting intention poll tonight – see this note from Peter – there was a power outage at the YouGov’s German data centre that interrupted the data collection last night and we couldn’t be confident what could be salvaged would be reliable. Thus is the problem with daily polling – if you do it all in one day and something goes wrong, there is no time for a second attempt! All should be back to normal tomorrow.

157 Responses to “Barnsley Central and the OTHER referendum”

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  1. Barney

    I heartily approve of those outwith Scotland gaining an insight into politics and media here.

    So I’ll add the bit that you accidentally missed out.

    The Daily Record, ran a brutal campaign of lies and mis-information that “gay sex lessons” were set to be taught in Scottish schools if Section 28 was abolished.

  2. I got confirmation that the next ComRes VI poll will be released at 10pm on Saturday 12th March.

  3. @Colin – ““He just says what he thinks people want to hear ”

    Like ummmm:-
    We have to reduce the deficit ti near zero in the Parliament.
    We have to cut Government spending.
    We need to hand the NHS budget to consortia of GPs
    Tuition Fees will have to go up.
    We must wrest control of schools from Local Authorities & the teaching unions.
    We have to junk Ark Royal,and scrap all the Harriers.
    -do you mean things like that Alec ? ”

    Actually, yes I do. Apart from the schools policy, none of the policy specifics above were said pre election. The overall approach to the deficit was specified, but we were told it would be by efficiency savings and not frontline cuts. You’ve provided a very concise justification for my original point.

    @Neil A – Agreed, my point is a repetition of previously aired views, but I think very significant in the current polling situation.

    In the first 7 – 8 years of New Labour, Blair was by and large trusted by significant numbers of voters. This enabled him to command a substantial poll lead for a very long time. Eventually the New labour brand degraded, with obvious results in 2010.

    Cameron’s is degrading his own brand at remarkable speed. Every time he makes a grand policy statement that he can’t back up, he’s used up a bit more credibility from the tank. For credibility, politicians only get one fill at the pump, and they need to use it very wisely. Blair did so brilliantly, until he blew the lot on Iraq. Cameron is wasting his, largely through poor judgement and a failure to be more truthful pre election.

  4. I think Alec is correct there, the coalition does come across as muddled on issues such as NHS reorganisation etc. It’s not necessarily just large cuts which annoy people as they were expected

    Cameron and the colaition also go out of their way to patronise people without appearing to have a concrete plan like Thatcher.

  5. virgilio,

    Out of interest, where do you get the Danish, Finnish, Estonian and Croation polls from?

  6. @ Alec

    “You’ve provided a very concise justification for my original point. ”

    Well then Alec-I look forward with great anticipation -to the moment when the UK public realise that all those things are in fact what they really wanted to hear-and decide to put Cons back in the lead on VI :-)

  7. @Alec

    I do agree with your “pump” analogy, but I do also think that it is possible for a politician to gain credibility, thanks to having the right opportunity. These events don’t come around much (some PM’s don’t get any), and often it happens the politician has put himself in a position that the full benefit cannot be gained. Having an opposition up to the job makes gaining or keeping credibility that much harder.

    Talking of lost credibility, compared to Nick Clegg, Cameron is doing okay.

  8. Colin,

    I agree with your remarks about Cameron. If he is a populist, he has a very very funny way of showing it.

  9. Anthony,

    Out of curiousity why no party identification question in this month’s ITV poll? The series was starting to get useful as a tracker and with just 8 weeks to go before Assemberlee elections a party id snapshot would have been handy. You’ve run them alongside referenda intention in the past. Why not this time? Or is it being held back by the client (ITV) until the referendum is concluded?

  10. @ Alec

    As a matter of historic interest these were the relevant bits of the Conservative manifesto-in the order of my list:-

    “We will significantly accelerate the reduction of the structural deficit over the course of a Parliament, with the main burden of deficit reduction borne by reduced spending rather than increased taxes.”

    “We are cutting the cost of NHS administration by £5 billion and reinvesting this money to support doctors and nurses on the front line.
    We are strengthening the power of GPs as patients’ expert guides through the health system by enabling them to commission care on their behalf. ”

    “We will give parents, teachers, charities and local communities the chance to set up new schools in response to parental demand.”

    I thought those were reasonably clear actually-given that , on the critical area of Public Finances, Labour have not said where AD’s £52 bn of spend reductions would fall,

    But I will give you :-

    Tuition Fees-Very strangely the May 2010 Con. Manifesto online-Universities section-now states the policy adopted after the Browne Report -not the actual policy in May. !


    Defence-There was no indication of a SDR-but given the revelations since taking office about the state of MoD’s finances, I suppose it would have been impossible to anticipate the effects of the black hole before the GE. Whether one agrees with the policy prescriptions for addressing it is another matter.

  11. Eoin


  12. Slightly brittle tone to the Tory message in last few days wrt the BBC, either refusing to appear or refusing to debate with other contributors…

    This increases the impression of an embattled administration having difficulty getting their message across. They might perhaps be holding out until the “Cuts Corporation” comes round, or are just feeling oversensitive about the “loose talk” criticism from Robert Gates, but either way Oliver (who was singled out by Coulson to be his successor) is having an uphill job trying to regain the media narrative.

  13. @Colin – I think the real point is the dishonesty displayed by Cameron (as well as all other parties) pre election in the mood music they put out about the spending cuts.

    We all know that Osborne knew he would have to raise VAT and the line about protecting front line services is and was a nonsense. I don’t necessarily blame Cameron for that – if voters believe this sort of stuff, they get what they deserve. The point I am making is that changing tack in government results in painful losses of support in many cases.

    Cameron’s biggest volte face is probably the switch from backing Labour’s spending plans to the current position that Labour was spending far too much. These two positions are logical non sequiters – one or other of them is or was wrong, but he has got away with that because he was in opposition.

    All politicians have problems moving from opposition to government, but I think Cameron is having more than most.

    The latest on Gus O’Donnel’s warning to him about the behavious of SpAds is another funny example. In opposition, he was very good at highlighting the high number of SpAds and the poor way they treated civil servants. He told us things would be different under a Tory administration.

    Now I think I’m right in saying we have more SpAds than under Brown and they are just as unpleasant as Brown’s lot were by the look of things. This doesn’t surprise me, but you were the one that said Cameron would be transformational.

  14. @Christian Schmid
    Danish polls:
    Finnish polls:
    (I do not understan finnish, but I know the names of the parties, so when I see tables with party names I figure that’s the thing).
    Estonian polls:
    There is a graphics table: Yellow=Reformists, Green=Center, Blue=IRL (right), Red= Soc.Dem, Light Green= Greens and White = Agrarians
    Croatian polls: This is more simple, just go to wikipedia – 2011 croatian parliamentary election, there are full tables with graphics from all institutes

  15. Erratum: The URL for FInland is:

  16. @ Virgilio

    In the German polls, does the remainder – ie the % not accounted for by the Left, Greens, SPD, CDU & FDP – share out equally amongst a bunch of minor parties/independents or is there an other taking a lion’s share?

    Is the Beeb doing another by-election special like the did with Oldham & Saddleworth, or is this seen as not worth the bother because it’s so safe?

  17. Alec

    I know you like to weave a complex web on this-but honestly-I think it’s dead simple.

    Harking back to the swithch from Labour’s plans to their own-I just don’t see that on the voters radar now-its history surely.

    I think it goes something like :-

    * We don’t want GB in charge anymore-and Cameron seems like a different sort of Tory-and we do seem to be in a financial mess-so lets have a change.

    * Bloody Hell-we don’t like all these cuts. Sod that for a game of soldiers. Back to Labour-they’ll sort it all out painlessly.

  18. @ Eoin
    ComRes poll shows that people are more likely to protest over fuel than spending cuts..
    By a narrow margin! I think there’s a fair bit to be optimistic about in those figures. A tiny % say they’ve protested in the past, and now we’ve nearly a third of the population contemplating it. If even a fraction of those do go on to protest it’d be enough to set a record – the UK’s highest demonstration was what, less than 2% of the population?

  19. @Craig
    My feeling is that no party takes the lion’ share in the category of “Others”, or, at any rate, there is no party that polls nationally more than 2-3%, which is very insufficient, given the 5% threshold for entering Parliament .
    In last GE (2009) the Pirate Party obtained 2%, the Nat.Dems (far right) 1,5% and all the remaining minor parties together 2,5%. The “Others” figure is, nevertheless, important, because the more elevated is the total percentage of parties remaining out of Parliament, the more close to OM is a coalition whose parties garner together, e.g. 47% or so,

  20. Craig – remember people are not good at predicting their future behaviour – saying you’d consider doing something is vastly different to doing it (and even if people did all suddenly protest about fuel, they would be unlikely to all do it at the same place at the same time on the same day – the percentage of people who turned up at the single biggest protest against the Iraq war, for example, is not the sum total of people who protested against it).

    For a comparison, we’d need to have a similar poll from a couple of years back asking whether people would consider it, then see what the change was. We can’t compare with proportions of people who have actually done something.

  21. Alec

    I do think DC is & will continue to be transformational.

    That’s what he is in business to be.

    You just have to decide whether you like the transformation or not.

    At the moment the general answer seems to be “Not”-but that is a reaction to the changes which enable the transformation.

    There is time yet for a reaction to the nature & effect of the transformations-and that is the reaction which matters most.

  22. Good points, Anthony. Forgot about them – especially protests being decentralised.

  23. @colin – you’ve summed it up rather well. To be completely even handed, when Labour came to power it was a similar story. While they didn’t break any of their promises (initially at least) that was because they didn’t make very many and were very careful about what they pledged.

    What I found very irritating in the early Labour years was that many of the really good ideas that they floated, without expressly making them firm manifesto policies, were comprehensively dropped in a really timid approach to government.

    In many ways this could be viewed as being more serious than this governments flopping around – at least there is a genuine financial crisis at the moment and some level of policy adaptation would always be required.

  24. @ Colin

    But I will give you :-

    Tuition Fees-Very strangely the May 2010 Con. Manifesto online-Universities section-now states the policy adopted after the Browne Report -not the actual policy in May. !
    Do you have a copy of the Conservative manifesto pre-election?

    Have to you audited the other committments to check that none of the wording of those has changed post election? ;-)

  25. Amber

    WEll Its a good question.

    I Google for Conservative Manifesto 2010-and assume the result is what it says it is.

    Except that “Universities” now states:

    “The Government is implementing reforms to higher education funding based on the recommendations of Lord Browne’s review, set up by Labour. The Government’s proposals ensure universities are placed on a financially sustainable footing.”

    …..followed by lots of detail about the effect of the Tuition Fee policy.

    I don’t have a copy of the whole document as it was last May.

    No I haven’t “audited” the rest of it-how sad do you think I am ? :-)

  26. So is there no by-election coverage? I can’t spot any. :(

  27. Alec


    I draw political hope from my current situation-of enforced domestic activity:-

    My wife has just has a Total Knee Replacement.

    The stages she has gone through to date may be expressed as follows :-

    a) Before the op-I hope this guy is OK-but I really need to do something about this knackered knee.

    b) THree days after the op-They’ve sent me home already , I can hardly stand let alone walk & it hurts like hell. What have I done

    c) Three weeks after the op ( now)-I can walk with just one stick & it doesn’t hurt so much now.

    She naturally hopes-& now believes that d) will be complete mobility-without the pre-op arthritic pain. But she doesn’t know when that will be.

    Politically I think we are at b) above-and will be through 2011.

    If we can get to c) above before the GE, DCmay get in again ( one way or another :-) )

    I doubt we shall see d) until a second term-and they won’t get one if c) doesn’t materialise before the GE.

  28. Chris Huhne (energy/climate secretary) has made a speech predicting a 70’s-style oil shock that will cost us £45 billion. I was thinking we were in such a thing already.


    my dad had that done some years ago – it does get better and the long term result is less pain and more mobility.

  29. @Colin

    Sympathies to your wife, I know from personal experience how recovery from major knee surgery is a long haul. But to continue the analogy…

    (c) there is a gaping wound in my knee and pus is seeping out. Looks like he didn’t know what he is doing.

    (d) Looks like what he intended to do all along was amputate, but he was stringing me along with talk of knee replacement.

    (e) HOW MUCH for a prosthesis?

    (f) Nice jag. Looks like his mates in the artificial limb business gave him a nice back-hander.

  30. @ Alec

    Colin may be cross with you, but the US Defence Secretary has got your back.

    In the committee appearance on Wednesday, Gates said: “There is a lot of, frankly, loose talk about some of these military options. Let’s just call a spade a spade.

    “A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defences. That’s the way you do a no-fly zone.

    “Then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. That is the way it starts.”

    Gates (US Secretary of Defence) appears to rather miffed that Cameron effectively gave Libya a ‘heads up’ that Libya’s air defences could come under attack.

    It seems that the US would’ve preferred to lull Libya into a false sense of security about this but Cameron let the cat out of the bag & then stubbornly refused to ‘back-track’ & continued to insist that it wasn’t being ruled out.

    Not a very clever thing to do, from a military perspective, apparently.

  31. @ Colin

    No I haven’t “audited” the rest of it [the Conservative 2010 GE Manifesto] – how sad do you think I am ?
    Here is how sad I, AmberStar am…. I may get a copy from the HoC Library & compare it to the current wording, just to see if any other ‘little updates’ have crept into the current web version. :-)

  32. @ Colin

    Did your wife really have knee surgery or was it just analogy?

    If she did, I sincerely hope that it was successful & that it greatly reduces the pain & improves her mobility.

  33. There’s also concern that any British evacuation flights using military aircraft could be at greater risk because of Cameron refusing to rule out the establishment of a no-fly zone.

    Such flights may be seen by Libya as a military incursion into its airspace with the intention of establishing a no-fly zone prior to a UN resolution.

    Theorectically, Libya could be justified in defending its airspace from British military aircraft, given our PM has stated that he is not ruling out the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya’s airspace.

    It is actually quite a car-crash. William Hague is on TV desperately rowing back David Cameron’s comments as I write this.

  34. And there was me thinking William Hague was announcing an agreement with the French government to jointly prepare for a possible No Fly Zone, if circumstances in Libya lead to it being considered necessary.

  35. Given that a British evacuation flight was shot at, and a Dutch evacuation flight was ambushed and captured, I’d say Gadaffi forces are pretty much up for attacking foreign flights whatever the UK says about No Fly Zones.

  36. Keith P

    Thank you-I will pass that on.:-)


    I hope it doesn’t turn out like that !-for any of us :-)


    THats pretty sad-wish I hadn’t given you a lead now!

    Yes-she did & thank you.

    Surely the Tunisia to Egypt flights would go over the Med-not across Libya??.

    NeilA is right-Hague is trying to press EU with France on a NFZ. Also the Arab League has said :-

    “”The Arab countries cannot remain with their arms folded when the blood of the brotherly Libyan people is being shed.
    The ministers have decided to pursue talks on the best way to protect Libya’s citizens and to assure their security, including the imposition of an aerial exclusion zone and coordination between the Arab League and the African Union on this subject,”

  37. @ Neil A

    Given that a British evacuation flight was shot at…
    Accidentally, by Libyan ‘rebels’. They’ve apologised.

  38. Do my eyes decieve me, or did I just see two Tories mention cooperation with France without the obligatory anti-French froth that usually accompanies it. ;)

    Where’s Roland Haines when you need him?

  39. @ Neil A

    And there was me thinking William Hague was announcing an agreement with the French government to jointly prepare for a possible No Fly Zone, if circumstances in Libya lead to it being considered necessary.
    Perhaps you’d prefer I’d said: William Hague desperately trying to row back David Cameron’s comments being construed as a unilateral, UK position.

    It is the same thing, IMO.

  40. Amber

    May I ask-

    What is it that you think UK should & should not do in respect of the revolution inside Libya; and the refugee crisis in Tunisia?

  41. @ Colin

    David Cameron could’ve kept quiet until he had agreed an approach with our allies via UN, Nato etc.

    We could’ve used the BBC World Service, as has been done in the past, to convey the British people’s support for the people of Libya in their struggle to change the leader &/or the political system of their country.

    That allows the UK to show support & encouragement unofficially, whilst official efforts are conducted via the proper routes.

  42. So the UK government should take a neutral stance on Gadaffi vs anti-Gadaffi?

  43. And as for “agreeing an approach with the UN”. When are people going to understand that Russia and China don’t on principle want to take action against states that use force to suppress their populations, for the simple reason that they reserve the right to do exactly that to their own populations and don’t want to cross any lines. There is no possibility of international action to prevent massacres by a despotic government being agreed by the UN Security Council.

  44. Agree with Amberstar re DC and official routes

    Before the Libyian crisis No 10 published the Lockerbie correspondence, seen by most as a political move DC made most of it, pleased he had not met Gadaffi as LAB had and used Libya as a stick to beat LAB.

    In current crisis DC had made ref to above contrasting his clean hands with…

    Problem is most other leaders including Obama have met Gadafi so beating LAB implied same for fellow leaders. It was not very diplomatic.

    In the U.S. Gates seemed appalled at prospect of the U.S. bombing another Arab country. That does need significant Arab support which does not mean the small Gulf States.

    We need quiet diplomacy in a crisis not point scoring.

  45. @ Neil A

    So the UK government should take a neutral stance on Gadaffi vs anti-Gadaffi?
    Yes, until they have agreed an approach with NATO &/or the UN.

  46. Which means forever. Russia, China and Turkey have made it clear that a settled position by either organisation is not possible.

    I shall stop watching the coverage then, as it clearly doesn’t matter to us..

  47. @ Neil A

    There is no possibility of international action to prevent massacres by a despotic government being agreed by the UN Security Council.
    And what exactly is the UK (David Cameron) going to do about Libya without NATO or a UN Security Council resolution?

    Until the UK has NATO or UN backing, David Cameron is all wind & no sails. His rhetoric, according to the US Defence Secretary, is unhelpful to any real action that may be taken to support the Libyan people.

    Which, incidentally, is the point I was making.

    Are you really trying to justify unilateral action by the UK? Or are you only trying to justify unilateral pontificating even if it could be harmful to any actual, international intervention?

  48. Amber

    Surely you aren’t laying down the White Woman’s Burden!

    Surely the UK always has the right to waltz (or tango) into any Third World Civil War?

    Good God, woman! Have you forgotten that you’re British?

  49. @ Stuart Dickson

    “Summarised, at the moment, Westminster gives Scotland a big chunk of money every year, and the Scottish Government presents an annual Budget Bill, telling the Scottish Parliament how that money will be spent, subject to MSPs approval (of course).

    Then various Scottish govt departments and public bodies dish out the goodies.”

    Thanks for the information. Much appreciated. Also, please accept my belated thank your for your analysis on which Scottish Parliamentary constituencies were true marginals.

  50. If, say, Gadaffi ordered his planes to sink a ship carrying 2,000 refugees and Turkey refused to agree to a military response, then yes I would support military action by a coalition of the willing without formal support from NATO. Wouldn’t you?

    Cameron hasn’t remotely suggested unilateral action by the UK. The chatter about his speech to the Commons has moved so far from the substance of what he actually said that it’s barely recognisable.

    Any possible “party political” grandstanding Cameron could be accused of it totally outshadowed by the petty political pointscoring that has been going on ever since. It’s almost as if the Tories are a bigger enemy than murderous despots.

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