After four days without a GB voting intention poll (which suddenly seems like quite a long time!) we’re back into the normal cycle. Topline figures for the daily YouGov/Sun poll tonight are CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%.

UPDATE: The poll also asked about AV. Adjusted for likelihood to vote and excluding don’t knows and won’t votes, NO now has a 18 point lead, 59% to 41%. The change from YouGov’s previous AV poll is only minor, but it suggests the NO campaign are consolidating that big lead that opened up last week. Conservative voters remain overwhelmingly opposed to AV (by 82% to 18%), Lib Dem supporters remain overwhelmingly supportive (84% to 16%) and Labour voters remain split almost straight down the middle (49% pro, 51% anti).

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358 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 36, LAB 41, LDEM 10”

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  1. Can anyone tell me who John Lamont (CON) is – he seems to have a lot of huge posters in the Borders -in fact I only his posters out and about, 1 Lab poster in Kelso and a Nat poster somewhere else. Any relation to Norman?

    Apart from that I did not feel any election fever here – or any interest in that wedding

  2. @Barbazenzero

    Thanks for the link.

    I did note at the end of it that AS would try taking an Independant Scotland into the Euro, subject to ‘the right economic condition’, ‘vote of a Scottish referendum’ and other such answer ‘hedging’. Yippes!

    With regards to the problems of the current FPTP system, there are lots of things which need changing apart from looking at the ‘vote counting’ system itself. Equality of electors per constituency, equality of constituencies between regions, ‘regional’ representation especially for the oversized England part of the UK, a centralised registration system to stop an elector from being on more than 1 electoral roll at the same time. Once we have sorted out these anolmalies perhaps we can properly consider the merits and demerits of various vote counting systems FPTP, AV and various PR systems with various thresholds etc. Then take a decision based on ‘fairness’, ‘equality of vote’ and ‘equality of voter’, rather than trying to adopt a ‘vote counting’ system based on where gettiing a partisan party advantage seems to be some people’s paramount concern.

  3. I think half a percent is the bare minimum that GO could get away with…and I wonder if there is/has been pressure to put an optimistic lean on the figures to get them up to that?

    Anything less is bad, really bad, with observers already cringing over Q2.

    It isn’t a matter of whether we partisan tax-and-spenders queue up or not, Colin. The question is…what will work, and what is or is not working currently?

  4. FrankG
    “Then take a decision based on ‘fairness’, ‘equality of vote’ and ‘equality of voter’, rather than trying to adopt a ‘vote counting’ system based on where gettiing a partisan party advantage seems to be some people’s paramount concern.”

    Well said.

  5. Eric Goodyear,

    ‘Lamont’ is a common Scottish surname (except we pronounce it correctly: lamont in one go, not the English pronounciation “La Mont”), it comes from Old Norse meaning “law-man”, so originated in the north and west, eg the Northern Isles.

    Iain Gray’s depute is a member of the clan too: Johann Lamont. I seem to remember I was at school with a couple of Lamonts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lamont_(Scottish_politician)

    Looks like he is easily going to retain his seat, with the Lib Dems falling back to 3rd if the betting prices are any guide:

    Bookies’ best prices

    John Lamont – Conservative 1/8 (PP, VC)
    Paul Wheelhouse – SNP 6/1 (VC)
    Euan Robson (the former MSP pre-2007) – Lib Dems 15/2 (PP)
    Rab Stewart – Labour 100/1 (PP, VC)

  6. Eric,

    They even have a website:

    http://www.clanlamontsociety.co.uk/

    By the way, Eric is a great Norse name too!

  7. NICK POOLE

    ” what is or is not working currently?”

    Of course-I agree.

    But defining what constitutes”working” is the stuff of eternal economic debate.

    For the average voter , my feeling would be that the answer is jobs & employment, & I think it is on that issue , the government’s fate will be decided.

    Re the economics debate, departing BoE MPC member , and fiscal hawk, Andrew Sentance has lambasted BoE policy.

    AS has advocated higher interest rates since last june, having been of the firm conviction that BoE should be managing inflation , which has overshot their mandate for the last 46 months.

    He highlights “significantly different views ” in BoE on the outlook for inflation & growth.

    We went to a local pub yesterday , on the way home from a lovely walk. Two drinks, & a few tapasy things-£14 !!

    Absolutely bonkers-won’t be repeating that too often-thus knocking a little bit of Q2 UK GDP growth :-)

  8. SoCalLiberal

    Re the Scottish economy

    This isn’t really the site for such a discussion. I posted Ball’s comments in terms of their likely political impact. (Also why I said its possible to make a reasoned argument for either side.)

    As to the points you raised, there are downsides and upsides to any arrangement. It’s a matter of balance – and is essentially governed by one’s world view.

  9. @Old Nat

    I surely can’t be the only one who is having flashbacks to McConnels ill fated campaign when Brown’s best rode to the rescue at the 11th hour to re-inforce Brown’s strategy of Independence scaremongering.

    Will Brown’s protege Balls recemmend a last minute poster blitz shouting “divorce is an expensive business” ?

    The language of that article is amusingly familiar too with talk of a “disaterous campaign”. Iain Gray must be delighted to have such staunch allies and assets by his side. ;-)

    @FrankG

    The Conservative’s coalition partners the Lib Dems have the exact same policy of ‘not now but maybe later’ on the Euro, Fortunately for Cameron then that Europe will never be an big issue in this Parliament or indeed this year. Such a chasm between both Parties policies on Europe would wreak havoc on much the same scale as the AV vote fight. I Don’t think EdM has ruled out joining the Euro forever either but I will be the first to admit finding a concrete policy statement on such things from him is difficult so would happily be corrected.

    It’s also worth pointing out that correcting perceived anomalies outwith the actual voting system could be as fraught with partisan party advantage as the voting systems themelves are. Hence the battle over the boundaries that the Lords took up for a while and which I would think is far from over. Probably why the 4 Boundary Commissions are considered so important in the process and why they should always be seen as non-partisan in their judgements and decisions.

  10. Yes…people will vote on their own experience. If they go onto unemplyment or economic decline…I think they’ll expect the Government to DO something.

    But it’s true that Labour are probably secretly relieved that they don’t have to decide exactly what…yet.

  11. Mick Park

    In general terms, I think it is reasonable to assess a party’s fitness for government by their competence at running a campaign.

    Not infrequently, I look at the campaigns of the main contenders in any election, and think “We’re doomed!”. :-)

    In this election, I think 3 parties are running wll organised and considered campaigns. I’ll leave others to decide who isn’t among the three. :-)

  12. @ lazyscroungingscousestudent

    “Does anyone know if there’s other methods that could be more reliable?”

    None of them are “reliable” in the strict sense of the word. The GDP is an aggregate that is used as a concise indicator. However, disaggregating it is more useful for analysing what’s going on with growth (also the GDP conflates two completely different aspects of growth: growth of actual goods and services produced and growth of value of these. They can, and often does, go in different directions causing no end of troubles for using GDP for economic policies.). The two consequtive quarters definition is preferred by the OECD.

    There are other measures: the US defines the business cycle by the change in non-farm employment. It’s more accurate (then the last US recession started earlier which would explain later the collapse of the ABS market), but not always.

    Investment figures would be even better indicators (as they reflect profitability rather than the silly assumption of “insufficient demand as a cause of recessions) but they are notoriously imprecise because of the misreporting of replacement investment (related to depreciation) and new investment as well as inventories. To use them properly one also needs structural figures, because a drop in investment could be a signal of capital moving out from one sector to another.

    GDP became the focus, partly because of the media and also because of the easiness of such a narrative. As the FT pointed out yesterday, we won’t have reliable GDP figure until the next year, because the first quarter is distorted by the 4th quarter weather, the second quarter by the wedding (extra bank holiday that could cost 5 billion to the economy, though I think it’s somewhat overstated), the third quarter by this again. So we have to wait until the 4th quarter figures are released in January.

    I have a preference for defining the business cycle as follows: 1st phase: negative growth (could be called crisis); 2) flat growth (could be called depression); 3) positive growth rates until the economy reaches the outpul level of the pre-1st phase (could be called recovery); 4) from this point until the next negative growth (could be called surge). By this definition, we are still in recession.

  13. Talking of intemperate language

    http://news.scotsman.com/news/Desperate-Lib-Dems-in-savage.6758441.jp

    “THE Conservatives would have “burned Scotland at the stake” if they had entered government last year on their own”.

    I’m trying to work out just who in the Scottish electorate are going to take that seriously, as a reason for voting LD.

  14. 0.5% growth… With all the reservations in my previous post about these measures, it means that there is no growth in the UK economy… Tough.

  15. “I think it is reasonable to assess a party’s fitness for government by their competence at running a campaign.”

    It is indeed a good yardstick particularly for those who aren’t incumbents and have no record to fall back on.

    I’d also agree with you that 3 have been competent and fairly consistent with the proviso that two of them had early ructions within their own Party that caused a far from impressive start. But even so Tavish Scott soon got the message and distanced himself fairly effectively from NC and I was quite impressed with his current targetting strategy for the Highlands and Isles using the Policing issue.
    You can also say what you like about Annabel Goldie but she hasn’t blown in the wind and stuck to a message that she must know is never going to be very popular nor has she distanced herself from Cameron. I would say she’s probably done more than enough to silence her early critics in the Scottish Conservative Party. And when this election started there were many of them prophesying her doom.

    AW’s update is very interesting showing as it does that both campaigns would have been better served targetting the Labour swing vote from the beginning.

    Intriguing that the Lib Dem for AV is 84%. That is indeed extremely high but if it was real proportional representation I’d find it hard to believe it wouldn’t be pretty close to 100%.

  16. Oh dear.

    I praise Tavish for an effective campaigning policy and then he comes out with that.

    I might not be on a line by line familiarity with the Conservative Party’s 2010 manifesto but I think we would have noticed had Cameron proposed a witchfinder general to roam scotland looking for heretics and the devils minions to cleanse with the purifying fire of the righteous. :-D Hyperbole indeed.

  17. “0.5% growth… With all the reservations in my previous post about these measures, it means that there is no growth in the UK economy… Tough.”

    Hooray! We’ve avoided the dreaded double dip.

    No-one was pretending it was an easy road for the economy this year, but at least we’re in growth. (NB I don’t agree with the spin that all the December loss could/should have been expected to be recouped and added to 2011 Q1 figures)

  18. Mick Park

    That’s why I was thinking of the Greens as running an effective campaign rather than the LDs!

    I love your

    “I think we would have noticed had Cameron proposed a witchfinder general to roam scotland looking for heretics and the devils minions to cleanse with the purifying fire of the righteous” :-) :-)

  19. With all the spending cuts from last year, sluggish growth was an inevitability. The cuts alone were worth 0.5% of GDP, after all.

    We took our medicine up front. The last budget was neutral and, statistically, the fiscal drag on the economy is all-but removed. Barring another global snag, growth should now resume.

    Should.

  20. Old Nat

    “That’s why I was thinking of the Greens as running an effective campaign rather than the LDs!”

    Yes, I was guilty of the sin of omission there (for which I hope not to be burned at the stake :-D) and you are right, when they are seen they come across as fairly reasonable and measured. If they do manage to get their message beyond the media bubble, which so often sidelines them as I regretfully just did, then they should do well.

    Also, while we are speaking of hyperbole,
    I see Labour high command have finally noticed that salvation in the AV vote may lie in persuading their own voters. Hence the new subtle as a brick poster campaign to “wipe the smile off their faces” of Cameron and Osborne.
    Too little too late ? Not to mention it seems to be conceding that talking about the merits of AV versus FPTP isn’t working.

  21. Mick Park

    They won’t burn you at the stake – pollution/global warming.

    Your fate will be to be converted into pure energy via an organic effluent methane production unit.

  22. 0.5% growth!

    @ BT,

    That is pretty terrible. That means we’ve had -0.5% shrink and now 0.5% growth in the last two Qs of GDP.

    That’s six months of 0% growth (actually a slight dip as -0.5% followed by +0.5% does not equal 0).

    Yes, the coalition can say they’ve avoided a technical recession, but that is the only good news they can trumpet (and of course trumpet it they will).

    But economically there is so much worse ahead in the next six months. All is not looking good and confidence is going to remain very shaky (as opposed to being completely killed if it was an official recession).

    Of course, the one caveat we should put on all our posts about GDP is that it will probably be revised up or down.

  23. @ BT

    Of course we haven’t yet avoided the double dip …

  24. @ Steve

    “We took our medicine up front.”

    Hopefully knowing what the illness was and for that the right (or the best – as you would expect in medical care) medicine. The examination by GP (GO) did not seem that thorough enough to identify the relevant causes of symptoms (and he did not prescribe Aspirin but somewhat stronger pills). Also there are so many crime stories where we learn at the end that the doctor was the murderer…

    There are always problems with metaphores… Especially if they try to underpin narratives.

  25. @Laszlo,

    “Hopefully knowing what the illness was”: Excessive state borrowing.

    By 2015, we should be running a surplus and paying off the national debt. Responsible households and companies live within their means, responsible governments should do so too.

  26. We won’t have a surplus by 2015 with such pathetic growth in the economy.

    Worse ahead for a year or so, too.

  27. A Tory election victory in 2015 moves a little closer

    1. Employment climbed 156,000.
    2. Unemployment fell 17,000
    3. Inflation fell 0.4%
    4. Retail sales climbed 0.3%
    5. Trade gap closed £1bn
    6. Deficit came in at £141bn, £5bn lower than expected
    7. PMI is still comfortably over 50
    8. Service sector growing again
    9. Mortgage books in healthy state after record repayments
    10. Nationwide shows a 0.1% rise is house prices, suggesting decline in prices is halting/slowing
    11. George Osborne cut several pennies off petrol which helps ease inflation
    12. BoE keeps interest rates low
    13. Spending 2011-12 is to be £10bn higher & £7bn PFI than stated in CSR
    14. The banks [ eg. Barclays] the oil companies [eg. BP] and the grocers [eg. Tesco] are all making profits
    15. 0.5% growth in Q1 – 2011

  28. @ Steve

    Excessive borrowing (I have doubt about “excessive”) is a symptom and not a cause. Just as a headache can be caused by huge number of things, borrowing too (though the government obviously did it, so there is a “causality”).

    Surplus budgets are not better than deficit or zero. None of these have any economic meaning.

    But I understand that some people (from various parts of the society) wanted to do something about it. That’s fine. I just don’t think that the government or the OBR have enough knowledge about the economy, thus the good deeds of reducing deficit to reduce debt could be completely false (e.g. somebody else have to go to overspending and debt).

    I also understand that it’s not possible politically to sell the proper message: the living standards of the vast majority of the population has to be reduced. We chose these methods (cuts and inflation) to achieve these because it was the easiest and most spectacular and also because we have no idea how business work.

    So, I do understand it, just my knowledge protests loudly… And I also think that it is a very dangerous narrative of the government.

  29. @Nick,

    This last quarter was under the influence of spending cuts and tax rises. Low growth was a given.

    The markets seem to have settled on increasing GDP from now on and GO has stated that public spending growth will be kept below revenue growth until a budget surplus is produced.

  30. @The Green Benches

    Dreamland sounds like such a nice place. How does one gain access to it?

  31. AKMD,

    Reading the Financial Times Helps, I think they hand out VIP passes.

  32. Steve

    Most of the job cuts start NOW. You ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s confidence that went first.

  33. I’m impressed that there are no possible clouds on the horizon to make a mockery of these GDP figures and bullish economic forecasts.

    On a completely unrelated note, is anyone holidaying in Portugal or Spain this year ? I hear the weather is lovely. :-)

  34. The Green Benches
    We may disagree by miles politically, but once again I do have to agree once your list of reasons (and additional data on your blog) why 2015 should produce a majority Conservative government. I think Osborne is playing it very well so far.

  35. OldNat,

    – “I’m trying to work out just who in the Scottish electorate are going to take that seriously, as a reason for voting LD.”

    I don’t think Tavish is in the right frame of mind to genuinely consider how his comments will be received by the electorate.

    He looks and sounds like he is absolutely terrified.

    However, his advisers at Clifton Terrace really ought to know better. Some folk are for the sack come 6 May.

  36. The headline gdp figures were disappointing and show no overall growth taking Q4 2010 and Q1 2011 together. The detail shows that the bulk of the economy grew slightly over the six months with this quarter more than reversing the ‘weather affected’ last quarter. Manufacturing showed healthy gains of 1.1% in each quarter but recent bottle-neck problems may slow this going forward. The big drag on the total came from a 4.7% decline in construction after a 2.3% decline in the previous quarter. The bad weather was certainly responsible for some of this in both quarters. As late as early March the temperature was below 5C and external work was being hampered. I expect the construction element to bounce back strongly as it did last year. Anecdotally there is scaffolding going up on private and public buildings.

    However looking ahead I expect a patchy picture as the economy rebalances with weak growth for years. This rebalancing will throw up anomalous data as some sectors grow and others lag so reacting to one set of figures may be risky.

  37. MICK PARK

    I gather the weather in Spain has been awful recently and anyway we should be encouraging peoplento do their bit and stay and spend an home – shouldn’t we?

    Any objective commentator would regard +0.5% as a very mediocre performance. The six months up to 2010 Q3 had 1.8% growth and the six months including 2010 Q4 and 2011 Q1 had % growth and anyone can see that this is not upwad progress.

    Osborne has been weak in his comments on News 24 repeatedly saying that growth is good an not much else. He seems to be treating the media with increasing disdain and I think that he will find that reinforcing perceptions of himself as a rude toff will rebound against him as time goes on.

  38. Howard [the other],

    Thanks. To confirm, I said a “little” closer. Baby steps are important though

  39. Mick,

    Obviously there are always risks of another global event which may hit UK economic growth but wouldn’t any government be hit? Surely, it’s better to not be weighted down by excessive borrowing and debt if that were to occur.

    Nick Poole,

    The economy is growing, unemployment is falling and employment is rising. Yes, the public sector job losses will obviously have an impact (and we’ve already had close to 140,000, 30ish% of the worst case scenario) but the private sector is, so far anyway, taking up the slack.

  40. “so reacting to one set of figures may be risky”

    Reacting to GDP figures like they were the holy grail of governing, whether this quarter or years hence, is risky.

    Apart from being a hostage to fortune in a febrile worldwide economic climate it also posits that all the electrorate cares about is a nice GDP figure at the end of a governments term.

    “It’s the economy stupid” only holds so far and growth can only ever be a means to an end not an end in itself. Unemployment has to fall and the public has to feel better off and pretty happy with their public services on the whole or GDP is dismissed as pretty meaningless ecostats by the electorate.

  41. TGB

    1 – employment to fall from now as the cuts aggect public service
    2 – inflation? needs to and will stay high. Not driven yet by consumer demands and wage increases
    3 – interest rates – will begin to move upward soon, perhaps as a result of improvements in economy.
    4 – rise in hopuse proces irrelvenat: I know people locally have asked for more and then settled for less.
    5 – fuel at all time high, and no sign of downward pressure. Indeed, fall in value of buying power of sterling will mean further increases
    6 – Barclays profits plummeted.
    7 – 0.5% growth in GDP in Q1: fingers crossed this increases

    I see only uncertainty on the economy ahead.

  42. “aggect” should be “affect”

  43. I am back in my new incarnation after many months away.
    Nothing has changed, except more politeness is evident.
    The Tory economics policy is regarded as that of the lunatic asylum according to many and colossal debt is seen as a fine thing, which means nothing negative whatever. Anyway, it wus the banks wot dun it. The supporters and opponents of AV rattle the same old stuff out, mostly to suit their own political agenda. Wont the results of the District Council elections be interesting.

  44. “Surely, it’s better to not be weighted down by excessive borrowing and debt if that were to occur.”

    It’s a shame George Osborne didn’t listen to you when he pledged to match Labour spending since you consider the debt to have such primacy.

    I do however grow weary with the idea that Osborne’s way is the only way to run an economy. He made his choices. They may be right, they may be wrong, but they were his choices.

    He decided the ratio of cuts to tax and where the tax burden and cuts fall. He decided on the timescale of his plan to get borrowing down by his own chosen amount. He weighed the risks of getting the debt down at all costs in an economic climate which has been anything but benign.

    If he’s right on everything, and Cameron and Clegg can hold together for four more years, then he may will get his wish and his aim to have enough room for manoeuvre at the end of it all to offer tax cuts for the next election in 2015.

    But even if it does all go his way, which is a very big if, are the public really going to forget the previous 5 years for the promise of jam tomorrow ?
    I myself doubt it but we’ll see.

  45. Poole

    “Most of the job cuts start NOW. You ain’t seen nothing yet”

    You mean in the public sector? We in the private sector had our job cuts 2 years ago. We’ve had our pain and are starting to recruit again, now that industry is starting to pick up.

  46. Mike N,

    ‘plummeted’ ?

  47. Green

    Perhaps you don’t understand the symbiotic relationship of public and private sector. You can’t cut public services and watch the private sector grow…in fact, the private sector will lose just as many, if not more, jobs.

  48. Mike N,

    I said “14. The banks [ eg. Barclays] the oil companies [eg. BP] and the grocers [eg. Tesco] are all making profits”

    Barclays = £1.66bn [Q1, 2011]
    BP = £3.3bn [Q1, 2011]
    Tesco = £3.8bn [2010-11]

    Total profit = £8.76bn.

    I think my point stands up to scrutiny… Vodafone is predicting £12.2bn, HSBC sees profits double £11.8bn

    That’s £32.76bn… I’ll stop there…

  49. @ Mike N

    If you look at the latest employment figures, job cuts have already started in the public sector yet job creation is much higher in the private sector, more than cancelling it out. So your theory doesn’t hold. In general, jobs market surveys and data are more positive than expected, suggesting that the ONS data may be an understatement of economic activity.

  50. @BT Says – “(NB I don’t agree with the spin that all the December loss could/should have been expected to be recouped and added to 2011 Q1 figures)”

    In other words, what you are saying is that a period of bad weather caused a permanent loss of evconomic capacity in the UK economy of 0.5% of GDP?. Of course it didn’t, which is why your statement above is highly contentious, to put it mildly.

    It wasn’t spin when the FT suggested last night that Q1 growth would need to be around 1.2% if we were to have sluggish real terms growth once the unusual seasonal factors were taken into account. The actual figure is, in fact, awful. The ONS reckoned there was a potential snow related displacedment of around 0.7% from Q4, so this figure actually suggests that the economy is currently contracting once seasonal adjustments are made. Even without any allowances for this, the economy has been stagnant for 6 months and with signs that Q2 is worse than Q1 I think the OBS predictions for 2011 growth are looking decidedly shaky, even after the downward revisions we’ve already had.

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