The Independent this morning carries a new TNS-BMRB poll on the AV referendum. It shows a much tighter race compared to the recent polling by ICM and YouGov, with YES on 32%, NO on 34%, 21% don’t kmow and 13% won’t vote.

Leaving aside their Scottish polling, I think this is the first TNS GB polling we’ve seen since the election, though notably this poll was conducted online, rather than the face-to-face methodology TNS was using for political polls before the election.

There are no tables available yet, so I can’t really speculate on the difference between what ICM and YouGov are finding and the TNS findings. Note that the fieldwork was conducted between the 14th and 18th April, so covering the same period as ICM (15th-17th), and slightly earlier than YouGov’s fieldwork (18th-19th), so the differences are likely to be methodological or due to the question, rather than timing.

The Independent’s headline for the poll – “Voting referendum neck-and-neck as Yes campaign gains support”, incidentally, wins our coveted “crap media reporting of polls” award by claiming this shows the YES campaign gaining support. It does not – there is no earlier TNS poll to compare it too, and it predates one of the polls showing a bigger lead (Andrew Grice’s actual article does not make the same error!).

UPDATE: Tables for the poll are here, all appears to be above board and shipshape. The topline figures aren’t adjusted by likehood to vote, but that doesn’t make a massive difference anyway, so no obvious explanation as to why it is showing a different picture.

141 Responses to “TNS show narrow NO lead in AV race”

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  1. COLIN

    I think you and I come from different parts of the political spectrum but I completely agree wih you about the Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP, his full title on correspondence.

    I have written to Vince 3 times in the last 6 months asking him to explain, inter alia, how he can continue to be a senior member of the cabinet and yet be so disaffected and how he could have been the lead minister behind the fees increases given his previously stated views. All I have receivesd is a curt letter from his PA with all my letters neatly folded and returned to me – wonderful!

    Vince is clearly not up to being a minister (maybe he has come to high office to late in life), cannot manage his personal office properly and as others have suggested should retire to the back benches and rehabiltate his conscience.

  2. I did used to admire VC, whenever he was on TV he made a lot of sense, with his early analysis of the overheating housing market etc etc. A point of view I held since 2003, when some professor from, I think, Warwick University, first spoke about it.

    However now he has power, it seems that he has not ‘grown up’. Iif you want to throw bread rolls, you do it from the back benches and forgo a ministerial appointment. Once you are a minister, you throw the bread rolls in private, then speak the party line, after it has been decided (& when there are no bread rolls left!).

    I’m afraid that he has started to look a little ridiculous now and sounds like some old chap on day release from the local old peoples home.

    As for what the LD’s are, well I suppose they became a home for the protest vote after the merger with the SDP. At that time the SDP were very much a protest vote party, mainly against Labour as it had become so left wing under Michael Foot. Because so many ex Labour people switched at that time, I imagine that is why reds feel aggrieved that under NC they are in coalition with DC & the Tories rather than Labour.

    However, that is to ignore the fact that under Thatcher, the LD’s also became a home for ‘one nation Tories’, who didn’t like the Lady as they thought her too right wing.

    Bringing that all up to date gives us a LD party comprised , roughly speaking, of 50% righties & 50% lefties. But we didn’t realise that perhaps, until the coalition was born & the 50% lefties, by and large, deserted, leading to a reduction in the LD poll ratings from 22% to 11%. (roughly speaking)

    As far as the old dyed in the wool Liberals are concerned, they are still going but as a very minor sideshow now.

  3. Robert Newark

  4. Yes Mike?

  5. Oops

    Robert Newark
    I agree re the Con support element of the LDs.

    As I have said repeatedly, entering coalition will be seen (indeed, should be seen now) as a massive strategic error. Everything points to NC being out of his depth as a politician, and IMO that he put being in office ahead of doing the right thing by his party.

    As regards VC, he cannot continue being the conscience of the LDs. He needs to make a decision – soon. Like asap after the May elections.

  6. Will AV speed the process of party fragmentation, in a manner some suggest full PR would?

    It seems this splitting is already occurring in the main English parties. Just wonder if AV would give it that final shove.

  7. Mike

    Ah that old chestnut, should a politician do right by his party or right by his country? Which comes first? My view is the second and therefore, I think he did the right thing by the country 12 months ago. I accept that many, particularly on the left, will strongly disagree.

    To some extent, he was dammed either way. If he had spurned DC & there had been a financial crisis, the public would have despised him & the LD’s forever. At least with the decision he took, half of them still love him!

  8. Eoin

    In terms of the Scotish vote compass diagram, it seems to me that Blue Labour are drifting off in the direction of where the BNP would be placed on the diagram and Purple Labour towards the Conservatives.

    Meanwiile, in Scotland, the SNP have emerged where middle-class Social Democatic Labour voters (as opposed to tribal working class Labour stalwarts) were a generation ago with the Greens picking up the more radical elements.

    The English Nationalists and Free Market fundamentalists among UK Conservatives have filleted the Scottish Presbyterian Christian Democrats from the most successful party ever in these islands reducing the party to an irrelevant rump by over a generation driving away not a minority, but the majority of its supporters firstly to the LibDems and more recently to the SNP.

    It seems to me that the big political issue of our time is the gross incompetence of the failure of the managements of political parties as brands seeking growth in the “market” for votes.

    While Labour and Conservatives have taken a generation and more to mess things up completely, the LibDems have managed to inflict significant damage on themselves in a matter of weeks as dozens have observed with amazement on these pages.

    These people think they have what it takes to govern the country, but they can’t make a success of managing their own parties.

    After a year or so of the SNP government, Christian Schmidt on these pages rated them as “Bog standard competent government with a few minor gimmicks”.

    It is tragic that mere competence should seem a refreshing change when compared with the norm.

    We would be better off with a competent government which had regard to pragmatic concerns of unintended consequences and the practical application of policies regardless of whether that government was of the left or the right than one which promotes the flavour-of-the-month big idea that isn’t thought through properly and is superceded by the next big idea before it can be made to work .

  9. Anthony, Are there any YouGov polls tonight and Monday? I recall that there were none over the Christmas period.

  10. Robert
    “At least with the decision he took, half of them still love him!”

    Hmm. So, half the party ain’y happy with him. There may be trouble ahead…

    “If he had spurned DC & there had been a financial crisis, the public would have despised him & the LD’s forever.”

    Unlike now? My wife detests politics but I cannot say here what she thinks of NC. The guy is an electoral liability.

  11. Mike
    The problem is that far too often, the wrong person becomes the leader of a party. Often it’s a compromise caused by, dare I say it, the AV voting system.

    Over the last 100 years I would venture that only the following were truly ‘leaders’:
    Lloyd George, Churchill, Grimmond, Thatcher, & Blair. Salmond & Cameron possibly but it’s still early days.

    All the others, who became party leaders, were in fact just competent (mostly) managers (like Major) or fence sitters, & therefore followers, (like Wilson).

    I don’t live in Scotland so I don’t get a vote there but if I did, I may have been voting SNP and I wonder if that is where a lot of the old Tory vote went over the years? As I believe in independence for England, I obviously believe in independence for Scotland. Unfortunately, there is no English Nationalist party to vote for. (UKIP obviously doesn’t count.)

  12. I think that Vince will go back to being quiet after the elections.

    I think that some in the LibDems, perhaps too late, have realised that the Labour-bashing might help government approval but might now cost them AV.
    So this is a last minute attempt to try to get Labour voters (who will decide this referendum) to vote yes, rather than the Libs rebuilding bridges already burnt down.

    I think a No would also be the easiest result, and perhaps parodoxily the most desired.
    If the Libs lose AV then they’ll be given a political concession and be able to shrug their shoulders with a ,’the people have spoken’.
    If they win, Tories will put pressure to call a GE before 2013 and Libs will put pressure to call an AV GE after 2013.

  13. While discussing Lib Dems (and by implication the internal pressures on the coalition from this quarter) it’s worth noting Tim Montgomerie has a ConHome polls of activists with 92% saying there should be no further concessions to the Lib Dems. Don’t think it’s a proper poll, but there is unquestionably a healthy strand within the Tory party looking increasing concerned about the anti Tory line that Clegg is having to take to shore up his vote.

  14. John B,

    Competence is Manna.

    I can’t remember the last time I was governed by a competent government. Thus, I am quite jealous of you guys in Scotland…

    Regarding blue/purple your hypothesis is the fullest possible extrapolation of their directions so strictly speaking your not wrong.

    They might argue they don’t intend to travel that far but who knows for sure?

    If Labour don’t win in Scotland they will need to further reflect on the Nuu Labour brand and just how far they have actually changed.

    Voters at the next GE election were not alive when Blair won in 1997. He’s the past, not the future.

  15. “Voters at the next GE election were not alive when Blair won in 1997”

    I beg to differ. ;-)

  16. Robert Newark

    I would disagree with some of your nominated great leaders. But don’t let’s go there!

    I take your point. So far, DC has lead the Cons into a coalition with the LDs, but it remains to be seen just how long the Cons are willing to suffer the LDs. I think DC has recently emphasised the divide between the parties – not least to placate his own party. I can see this placating becomng more difficult after the May elections.

  17. @Mike N

    “I can see this placating becomng more difficult after the May elections.”

    Yes, there’s nothing like getting a good kicking by the electorate to stir up party discontent.

  18. John B Dick

    Over the last few months you have persuaded me on some of the subtleties of recent Scottish politcal history.

    There is an aspect of the collapse of Scottish Tories that I think may be relevant.

    There is no need for a Conservative party representing the urban midde class in Scotland, bcause the Labour Party filled that role for a long time.
    That places like Eastwood voted Labour has long astonished those looking at politics here through English eyes.

    If the MORI poll wasn’t an outlier the the most significant shift ocurring may be the movement of the urban middle clas to theSNP(at least for Holyrood)

  19. Happy St George’s Day to ur southern friends.

  20. Mike I wasn’t making any political point, merely listed those whom I consider to be ‘leaders of men’. Whether you agree or disagree with the various political colours/policies of the individuals is a totally different question and not one that I was addressing, or seek to address, as that would have become a partisan argument . And of course they all had several flaws, but that’s just human nature.

  21. @ Éoin

    The labels are self-ascribed.
    That doesn’t stop them from being silly. ;-)

  22. Robert
    I think both of use were (are) avoiding descending into partisan comments!

    “…nothing like getting a good kicking by the electorate to stir up party discontent”

    Aye, and I’m looking forward to it! (So long as it’s not Lab!)

  23. @ Crossbat11
    “You really don’t like Vince Cable at all, do you? Can I be a little mischievous here and suggest that this might be something to do with his rather obvious lukewarm regard for the party you support? ”

    You can-but it misses the point as far as I am concerned.

    I have respect for politicians who stick to their core beliefs-whatever party they belong to & whether I agree with them or not.

    I had some regard for VC before the GE-but it has been undone by two things :-
    * Andrew Neil’s destruction of VC’s credentials on the Banking crisis , during the DP debates
    * VC signing up to a coalition , taking the ministerial job & salary…and subsequently using the comfort of that position to say , at every opportunity,how much he hates his coalition partners.

    NC says when he disagrees on the issues, & why-but continues to support the coalition he helped bring about-despite the constant hail of oprobrium which that has brought him.

    At present , we could both give reasons why NC is still in the coalition. I couldn’t give one reason why VC is-apart from the pay.

    But VC is a Labour supporter & NC isn’t-that’s the difference-& only they can resolve it.



    I don’t know what the LDs are going to do-nor do they I suspect, until they decide what they are for.

    You would have thought after being told by Labour what they are for, ever since the GE-they might have some ideas of their own.



    I don’t know whether he is a capable minister or not-I don’t have the information.

    Actually I admired the way he spoke resolutely for the University Funding policy & took it through the HoC. That took guts-he clearly had “ownership” of it.
    Percersely he gives the impression that he shares no “ownership” of the coalition which gave him the opportunity to draft that legislation.

    I think Robert Newark’s portrayal of him is spot on.

  24. @ Éoin

    From Progress itself:

    “As Ed Miliband prepares to face Britain’s voters for the first time next month, he talks of a Labour Party that is not so much one colour as positively kaleidoscopic.

    He appears relaxed by the news, revealed in The Times this week, that leading new Labour figures are compiling a ‘Purple Book’ of modernising policies to pressure him into reform. So relaxed, in fact, that he is [said to have accepted an invitation] to write the foreword himself. He is also showing interest in the ‘blue Labour’ tract of the social activist and academic Maurice Glasman, now Lord Glasman after he was elevated to the peerage by Mr Miliband. This criticises the party for putting too much faith in the state and losing sight of ‘flag, faith and family’, the core values of its traditional base.

    “Purple Labour, blue Labour,” says Mr Miliband as he heads for a day’s campaigning in Wales. “I would be tempted to say, let a thousand flowers bloom,” he smiles. “But that’s not a particularly appropriate historical analogy.” ‘The Purple Book’, so-called to draw comparisons with the Orange Book of Liberal Democrat modernisers, could have posed a problem for his authority. He has solved that by embracing the whole project as part of the wide-ranging debate on Labour’s future.
    And BTW Éoin, the ‘ ‘ around Purple Book are from the original Progress article; I didn’t add them.

  25. Amber,

    Thus far, I have refrained from passing a value judgement upon Blue/Purple Labour.

    I think our leader prefers the former. I think his foes prefer the latter. When pushed, I prefer neither. Blue I could live with.

  26. @ ALEC

    “Don’t think it’s a proper poll, but there is unquestionably a healthy strand within the Tory party looking increasing concerned about the anti Tory line that Clegg is having to take to shore up his ”

    I agree.

    The noises off re Elected Police Commissioners is the latest example.

    It is not surprising that Conservative MPs are beginning to ask whether the balance of concession reflects the balance of votes.

    I know that you have little regard for DC Alec -but I think there is steel in him. Past a certain point I think he will say to the LDs enough is enough-put up or shut up.

  27. The values of the British working class are FAITH, flag, and family? That’s nonsense in an irreligious country getting more irreligious by the day.

  28. OLDNAT
    Happy St George’s Day to ur southern friends.

    Seconded. A pity that there’s no English government to whom the Georgian Embassy can send fraternal greetings.

  29. POLL ALERT!!!!

    From the Herald..

    LABOUR’S Holyrood campaign is to be “kick-started” next week with an emergency re-launch after an alarming slide in the polls.

    The panic button is being pushed as more polls this weekend are set to show the SNP ahead after months of trailing Labour, and bookmakers slash odds on Alex Salmond being re-elected First Minister.

  30. @ Éoin

    When pushed, I prefer neither.
    Me too. And I’m confident that neither ‘blue’ nor ‘purple’ will become, on its own, the driving force of Labour Party policy.

  31. VC doesn’t need the money I think, so it is insulting to suggest he’s in the Government for the cash – some of you may be driven by money only, but believe it or not some people are driven by the hope that they can do some good (like making the first £10,000 of income free of tax for instance).
    And what happens next if the Lib Dems don’t get the kicking some of you expect or, as is more likely, if the kicking is more like a slap in the face? A drop in the Lib Dem vote of between 5 and 10 per cent in local polls (at which the Lib Dems do far better than nationally) wouldn’t result in the loss of nearly as many seats as you think. And believe it or not there is evidence on the ground which surprises even me that some Conservatives, who have refused to vote Lib Dem in local elections in the past because they saw the LDs as Lefties, now feel safe doing so for the first time.

  32. Even though I shall be voting Yes myself, I’m finding the sight of Clegg & Cable begging for Labour support a little sick making. I don’t think it’ll go down too well.

  33. Survey shows Australians want the Alternative Vote:

    “In three surveys over several decades, slightly more than half of Australian voters expressed a preference for first past the post voting over compulsory preferential voting, though many voters clearly took that view based on their perceptions of party advantage.

    “But when the same voters were offered the Alternative Vote as the other choice compared to compulsory preferential voting, it gained two-thirds support, more popular than first past the post.”

  34. Pam – no YouGov tonight given it’s a bank holiday (I’m off to the theatre anyone, so you’ll all have to discuss any polls that do crop up amongst yourselves!)

  35. Anthony

    Have a good time.

    If the rumours of two Scottish polls out tomorrow turn out to be true, there may be lots to discuss.

  36. Hope you’re going to see Flare Path Anthony. Superb.


    Regarding the ConHome poll of ‘conservative activists’. Not very scientific I guess as I am a regular follower of ConHome but have never voted Tory in my life. I did vote in Tim’s poll though.

  37. tingedfringe wrote: “I think a No would also be the easiest result, and perhaps parodoxily the most desired.
    If the Libs lose AV then they’ll be given a political concession and be able to shrug their shoulders with a ,’the people have spoken’.”

    Yes, and given that “voluntary preference AV” is just what NC described “A miserable little compromise”, in practice it would increasingly make little difference to outcomes in constituencies compared to FPTP. Evidence from Australia in states where “plumping” is allowed (only voting 1 with no futher preference) is that the proportion of voters who “plump” increase each election. The AV referendum is barely worth winning – especially with Labour voters in LD/Con marginals so disaffected by NC that their 2s will probably go to Greens etc. not LDs next time anyway. Also, the loss of the AV referendum might re-stabilise the coalition. It also might make the more reasonable Tories a little more sympathetic to their “defeated LD” colleagues when it comes to day-to-day policy knick-knacks as things roll along…making the LDs settle down and stop acting up such alot. If the LDs and Cons can agree on constitutional change to the Lords, then all to the good for the long term stability of the govt.

  38. One suspects that the “unhappiness” of Tories with their LD partners is far more of a personal thing than a policy issue. As plenty of commentators here have pointed out, the main thrust of coalition policy is Tory-led. But being regularly insulted by your supposed comrades probably raises the hackles of the party faithful.

    I also think that there is a bit of positioning going on in the runup to the elections. They are the first big poll since the coalition was formed. I suspect that we will see a bit of “ferrets in a sack” scrapping between LD and Tory in the runup to every election between now and the GE, and a complete rumble between them in 2015. It looks good for the audience..

  39. Martin
    You wrote: ” And believe it or not there is evidence on the ground which surprises even me that some Conservatives, who have refused to vote Lib Dem in local elections in the past because they saw the LDs as Lefties, now feel safe doing so for the first time.”

    I’m fascinated – where is this evidence? In polls? In canvass returns? Please let us all know. Thanks.

  40. “One suspects that the “unhappiness” of Tories with their LD partners is far more of a personal thing than a policy issue…”

    Especially if they’re blocking your route up the greasy pole.

  41. Come on Old Nat – spill the beans for the rest of us not “in the know”

    I hear that it is so bad for Labour that it could be “taxi for Gray” even during the campaign!

  42. @Tony

    Canvass returns. I have a number of people I’ve had down regularly as Tory or Anti who have said quite definite ‘yes’. And they’ve no reason to lie.

  43. Herald are reporting Sunday Mail poll as Constituency:

    SNP 46, Labour 36, Conservative 9, Liberal Democrat 6


    SNP 38, Labour 37, Conservative 10, Liberal Democrat 9, Greens 5

    Scotland Votes predicts result would be SNP 56, Labour 51, Conservative10, Liberal Democrats 9, Greens 2, Independent 1.

    A bit strange how the Snp vote is so much lower on the list though. Mind you poll does say 35% undecided on the constituency and 40% on the list!

  44. Would agree that SNP vote on list is comparatively too low compared to projected constituency vote even accounting for Greens (who won’t take their 5% directly from SNP but from a mix of the other parties).

    Apparently there is a second poll out as well and various twitter posts suggest it confirms substantial SNP lead “on both votes”.

  45. Dubious about PSO anyway

    List “lead” is trivial and would largely mean that Labour was compensated on the list for lost constituency seats.

    40% undedided on the list?

    Too close to call on this evidence.

  46. @Amber

    Some great posting today INHO.

    Anyone making snap judgements on any of the various tendencies cropping up (however concealed/ barbed) can only be faulted: particularly when figures from Labours past are either revered it reviled I’m the usual partisan way. When the facts change the party must change it’s mind: simple-but-true.

    I for one am glad that the party is having such a healthy debate- in what is turning out to be a richly thought through policy review- but am not surprised by the prejudices and biases already perceptible: if lurking (just) beneath the surface.


    I think you are basically correct on VC- he should have stayed on the back benches or should keep his disagreements to the cabinet room.

    But you cannot legislate for personal poison or disloyalty- look what Blair had to put up with from Brown for all those years.

  47. “Undecided” often means not voting. A 60% turnout would be good for a Holyrood election.

    Sounds like the Mail is spinning a bad poll for Labour to make it look as if they still have a great chance.

    SNP still needs to have the big lead on the List rather than the constituencies.

  48. Major and Thatcher invited to the royal wedding – Brown and Blair not. Ostensibly it’s because they are not Knights of the Garter, but I would view this as being a significant royal faux pas.

  49. Probably too late to re-open the Vince Cable debate – still here goes. Look at what he is doing in BIS before predicting his departure – slowly and surely he is undoing the worst excesses of the Government as best he can.

    He has rescued Grants for R&D (used to be managed by RDAs) and now runs them centrally from London. He has recreated Business Link/RDAs with the new BIS Local offices – he has tried to protect government aid for innovation. He has absorbed the former RDA Brusell’s Offices (reviled by the popular press) into UKTI

    Whilst he continues to think that he can hold back the worst of Cameron & Osborne from within the bastion of BIS he will stay

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