Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9% – another two point lead. Since the local elections the average lead in YouGov’s daily polls has dropped to just over 3 points, compare that to a peak in YouGov’s polls of a 9-11 point Labour lead for a while in mid-March.

The pattern of a shrinking Labour lead is consistent across the polling companies, with all the regular pollsters now showing the Labour lead dropping to the low single figures. There appears to be a genuine tightening of the polls since February and March when the Labour lead was generally between 6 and 10 points. YouGov’s daily government approval also appears to have improved – back in mid-March it got as low as minus 30 on a couple of occassions, and the percentage of people thinking the government was doing a good job fell into the 20s. In the last week has been hovering around minus 20, with the percentage of people approving of the government back into the low 30s.

Part of this will be down to the halo effect of the local elections – rightly or wrongly it was seen as a disappointment for Labour and better for the Conservatives than had been expected. However, I think there may well be an economic factor too. Figures on economic confidence and how well people think the economy is doing remain atrocious… but not quite as atrocious as a couple of months ago. Through February and March 77-80% thought the economy was in a bad state. In the last three YouGov/Sunday Times polls that’s fallen to 73-74%. We see the same pattern with the “feel good factor” (the proportion of people who think their financial position is going to improve minus the proportion who think it will get worse) – between January and mid-March it was around minus 55, since mid-March it has dragged itself into the minus 40s and was -45/46 in the last two Sunday Times polls.

These figures are the sort of thing we were seeing back at the tail end of 2010 – so it looks as if what actually happened over the last few months is that the negative growth and bad economic news at the start of 2011 knocked government popularity and temporarily pushed Labour’s lead up into the high single figures… since then economic optimism (while still dire) has improved marginally, and so has government support. For Populus, ICM, MORI and YouGov at least, we are back in a position where the Conservatives are retaining their General Election support, and the only change since the election is the fracturing of Lib Dem support towards Labour.

Not, of course, that public opinion can be boiled down to a single economic cause. Other factors will be also be wider perceptions of the government’s competence and ability (the rows about privatising forests, for example, have faded away and the NHS reforms have been paused), there may also be an Ed Miliband factor, since his negative ratings seem to be becoming more entrenched. There are no doubt plenty of other possible explanations too.

Will it last? Probably not, a halo effect from the local elections is by definition short lived, the country is certainly not out of the woods in economic terms, and there are certainly many unpopular cuts that still need to be implemented. The Conservatives are doing better than one may have expected (certainly I’ve made many comments here saying I expected Labour to open up a bigger lead after the May elections – I got that one wrong!) but I expect the government’s real mid-term blues will show up sooner or later…

176 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 39 LAB 41 LD 9”

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  1. @ Colin

    You appear to have identified a demographic which we might call “Champagne LibDems”…….vocally represented here at present

    More like Prosecco these days….;-)

  2. @ Bill Patrick

    I thought that Labour might have missed a great opportunity with Andy Burnham, whose “Aspirational Socialism” had the beginnings of a mighty policy vision.
    Ed M is doing very well, all things considered but I had Andy B 1st on my leadership list for this very reason. He really seemed to have a vision that combined the best bits of old & new Labour.

    And his ideas may yet prevail. Andy B seems to have a fair amount of influence in the Party that extends well beyond his shadow cabinet role.

  3. What an interesting couple of days so far.

    Liam Fox challenged the PM over overseas aid.

    KC blunders

    and the Met police are to investigate Laws.

    (Oh and DC seemed a tad uncomfortable at PMQs today.)

    Happy days

    Will any of this feed into VI?

    Labour should be careful what they wish for. I would love to see Ken Clarke out the way as would most Tories. A Justice Minister with Tory views would really give Miliband something to bluster about.

  5. @MIKE N
    Dr Fox is only saying what the huge majority of Tories are saying. Donate loadsa money to Pakistan in order they can train new recruits for the Taliban, who can in turn kill and maim our sons. Of course Dave the international statesman gets kudos from the LDs for his libralism.
    Rather than bitch all day long about it as the LDs do, we look to the future. And no it will have no effect whatever on VI. Please don’t get back to this “Cameron broke wind after a curry, the Tories will drop 12 points” nonsense.

  6. Tragically, Ken Clarke is right, but for the wrong reasons. The example he gave was not the best.

  7. Amber

    I thought Iain Gray’s speech in Parliament was both good and gracious.

    It’s almost as if a huge burden has lifted from his shoulders to reveal the real guy underneath.

  8. ‘cuts that still need to be implemented’.

    Actually, many of us will strongly disagree with this. Can we have some semblence of objectivty please. Your not the BBC.

  9. Sapper
    Am I right to think that both overseas aid and justice are issues that LDs have some (strong) views on?

    So, would the right wing part of the Cons be flexing their muscles towards DC?

    And does Liam Fox harbour leadership ambitions?

    As regards VI, there will probably be no discernible immediate effect.

  10. “It’s an untenable situation for a Justice Secretary to be on the wrong side of both the right-wing press and women’s groups.” – Tim Montgomorie

  11. Any climb in the opinion polls will embolden the Tory right, who are loudly proclaiming that the LDs have already had too much their way, and in any case are now losing their ‘mandate’.

    The halcyon days for the coalition would seem to be in the the past, and the delicate balance of the original cabinet (+/- Alexander/Laws) will be difficult to replicate in the event of a reshuffle (and considering that there is arguably a relatively small talent pool).

  12. Billy Bob
    Just read the Wikipedia bit on Andrew Lansley you mentioned a few days ago.. Fascinating.

    No stranger to controversy. And not quite a millionaire apparently.

  13. @Colin

    On “big leads” I had already answered this indirectly in another post later.

    I think- on YG and IF the coalition holds IMO the maximum lead Labour will get for any period of time will be 8% not precluding short bursts of double digits that don’t have legs.

    Under same conditions I can see the Tories getting at some points between now an 2015 a 4% lead.

    I think most of the time between now an 2015 (on YG and if coalition holds) the difference between red and blue will be 4-6%.

    IMO whoever wins the next GE will do so by less than 3%.

    And there will be minute ‘clawback’

  14. @ Old Nat

    It’s almost as if a huge burden has lifted from his shoulders to reveal the real guy underneath.
    It’s interesting that you say that. Last night I started a comment to you & ran out of steam as it was very late.

    I was going to say that I thought Iain was actually quite keen to resign. I don’t think he enjoyed being leader. He is best suited to consensus politics & is a clever, caring individual but not a natural strategist, campaigner or fighter.

  15. Top Hat,

    “There isn’t much we can do about inflation…”

    We could always go down the traditional Keynesian route and cut spending/raise taxes… (Of course, that’s anachronistic because in an inflation-targeting regime the central bank can offset the fiscal contraction with monetary expansion.)

    I agree that the money supply is important. I also agree that the Bank’s dismissal of messages in M4 (from about 2005-2007 and then 2007-2009) were central to the boom-and-bust cycle we had after the “Great Moderation” of 1992-2004.

    I also also agree that inflation is a bad thing to target, because inflation can be either good or bad. If there’s a major fall in supply (e.g. because of an earthquake or an oil crisis) then a rise in overall prices is to be welcomed, because it is a compilation of signals to producers that they can make profits by producing more. Equally, if there’s a major rise in supply (perhaps because of a technological revolution, as occured in America in the 1920s) then a bit of deflation is to be welcomed, because it sends a message to consumers that there is a lot of stuff that they can now afford.

    However, I don’t think that targeting monetary aggregates is a good idea for monetary policy, for two main reasons: (1) the demand for money can vary a lot, especially with regulatory changes; (2) financial institutions can always “one-up” the central bank by moving money into broader aggregates, e.g. from M2 to M3, from M3 to M4 and from M4 to M5 and so on.

    I agree that monetary aggregates have been very overlooked. I think that this is mainly because the models that King, Bernanke and so on are “money free” models that focus on credit & liquidity rather than money supply & money demand, which is an interesting way to conduct MONEtary policy!

    For this reason, the idea of a central bank targeting nominal GDP (GDP before taking inflation into account) is becoming increasingly popular amongst monetary economists. That would mean trying to target aggregate demand directly. Of course, looking at the money supply is a useful part of that task.

  16. Amber

    I’ve been scanning comments on other blogs. Quite a lot of Nats, as well as others making similar points to yours about Iain Gray. Never to be admitted during an election campaign, of course!! but a lot of references to him as a “nice man”, and not meant patronisingly either.

    Do you think Tom Harris’s plan will gain traction in SLAB? (Mrs Nat taught him for a wee while!)

  17. @ Doug

    ‘cuts that still need to be implemented’

    Actually, many of us will strongly disagree with this. Can we have some semblence of objectivty please. You’re not the BBC.
    The thing is, Doug, that’s what polling tells us the public believe: That the cuts need to be implemented.

    I know we posters do a brilliant job of disguising it but the core mission of this site is to be all about polling.

    Therefore, we can discuss what might change the public’s perception of cuts etc., however, in the context of polling, ‘the cuts need to be implemented’ is an objective statement. I personally wish it wasn’t, but it is.

  18. @ Old Nat

    I read Tom’s comments with interest & also his articles in Labour Uncut & Left Foot Forward.

    I think he is making very sound points but his plan is a little lacking in creativity. He seems not to be doing any ‘out of the box’ thinking. Perhaps your wife is in a good position to judge whether Tom is a manager or a visionary… such things are often evident to teachers.

    I’d be interested in her opinion, if she feels comfortable giving it.

  19. Talking to a woman the other day — best, if inadequately, described as a Brighton Green — who told me that when somewhat younger she had a huge crush on I. Gray [not wholly dissipated!]. Related he was one of the nicest guys you could meet: perhaps he is too nice, as Amber sugested.
    Sorry this post is somewhat remote from poll data!

  20. Amber

    She says

    “It was a very long time ago! He was an intelligent quiet boy, who sat in the class and did as he was told. I have only taught a small number of people who might be visionary. I’d have thought he was a manager.”

  21. I too watched some of the Scottish Parliament speeches this morning and I must say I was very impressed by the Grown up way they do things up there.
    Alex Salmond, who I know very little about seemed to me to be very honest, outgoing and Statesman like. He had a good word for all of his opponents and seemed quite humble in victory.
    When he talks about consensus politics I believe he actually means it and it can only be good for Scotland.
    Compare that to westminster where consensus politics means that Cameron and the Tories think of a plan and everyone has to agree.


    :-) :-) :-)

    Rob Sheffield


  23. tsitsikama

    We can also be just as bitchy and childish as everyone else, of course. :-)

    On the whole, Scottish politics is not for the faint hearts!

    Had the SNP gained a majority in 2007, I suspect that would have been a severe problem. Four years of minority government required them to be consensual, and continuing that approach has been the message since the results were declared.

  24. @NEILA

    “Tragically, Ken Clarke is right, but for the wrong reasons. The example he gave was not the best.”

    He spoke as a lawyer, giving a legal example of differential penalties for the same offence.

    The pc outcry went straight over his head.

    He isn’t a favourite of mine on policy-but I do admire his tell it as it is bluntness.

  25. Socialliberal: “Labour … have to look like adults when it comes to the economy”.

    Recent comment from Phil Collins, Blair’s speechwriter:

    “Listening to Labour on the economy is like letting the arsonist criticise the fireman”.

  26. Colin

    I like KC for his bluntness – and the fact that he loves the EU and seems to have much commonsense. (Does he still hushpuppies or whatever his preferred shoes were/are?)

    I imagine it would be difficult for DC to (re)move KC. Particularly as IMO it sends to the EU-haters in the Con party a message.

    But surely KC’s time is almost up?

  27. @MIKE N
    Exactly as I say, the LD’s do love overseas aid, even though many Tories think we should be spending that money on our own defence. However, no big uproar and certainly no leadership issues from Tories. We did not win an outright majority and are living with the consequences.
    At least Labour are not in power. As for LD’s loving justice, so do we, its just that we have a different view as to what justice is.

    The BBC would not say “cuts that need to be implemented”, they would say “further devastation for young families”.

  29. Sapper
    I can’t see the Cons having a leadership challenge to DC. I mean he ‘won’ a GE. Oh, hang on, winning three GEs didn’t prevent a leadership challenge to one persn not too lomng ago.

    Although Liam Fox harbours leadership ambitions his open letter was clearly a challenge to DC’s authority. The guy has an evolving history with challenging DC.

  30. @ Old Nat

    I have only taught a small number of people who might be visionary.
    Political vision does seem to be a rare quality. I do appreciate Mrs Nat’s informed opinion; it does not contradict my own, probably less informed, impression.

    Tom Harris, IMO, continues to be intelligent, fairly quiet & endearingly reliable. I see his document as a good critique, perhaps even the beginnings of an action plan but not, I think, a vision or strategy to achieve some of the objectives that he alludes to in his document & published articles.

    However, there may be more to come. I will await, with interest, any additional ideas that he proposes.

  31. @MIKE N
    What point are you trying to make in your desperation?
    Fox has got every right to remind Dave he has a right wing.
    His chances of replacing Cameron are about as good as mine. They are not even brothers.

  32. Sapper
    “Fox has got every right to remind Dave he has a right wing.”

    Aye. And therein is my interest.

    It will be intersting to see just how often and strongly the Con right wing asserts itself.

    DC has to keep the LDs and his right wing on board. It will be a test of his skills and temperament. And I think the latter is not his strong suit.

    It will be interesting to see if and when DC decides a Cabinet shuffle is needed who he moves etc and indeed the reaction of his party. I begin to think DC has little scope to make changes -a weakness which will be exploited.

  33. Can someone please explain to me why “The Polls” is abbreviated to “VI” in posts on this site? What does “VI” stand for please?

  34. Tony Dean

    Voting intention

    I struggled to understand this too. I could only see roman numerals.

  35. @MIKE N
    I am not clear who is going to exploit anything to do with the Tories. Check the worsening popularity ratings yer man.

  36. @mike n
    Sorry, last sentence should read “check the popularity ratings of yer man.

  37. Sunday Times yougov –
    Yesterday’s yougov –

    So is the Labour lead really the important bit? Can it be described as a ‘decline’ if Labour have held steady?

    Looks to me like the Tory VI increase can be ascribed to 2010 Tory voters, southern voters and older voters switching back to Tory.
    So it’s all about turn-out.

    If Labour could get all those under 60 to actually get out and vote (something that has plagued Labour for a long time- perhaps they could actually get on with it?), they could romp home to victory.

  38. @MIKEN
    But surely KC’s time is almost up?”

    At a time of his own choosing maybe.

    Other than that he is -as Adam Boulton said on Sky-bomb proof.

    He has done most major jobs in Cabinet & is a Conservative icon. DC will not sack him.

  39. @ Mike N

    Thanks! Yes, I too saw a Roman six!

  40. What with this rape allegation against Ken in the Mail and DC’s little sexist joke ‘calm down dear’ I can see the cabinet will probably want to take out a super injunction to silence its ‘politically correct’ opponents.

    Surely all this is no more than the slightly bloke-ish nature of the old conservative pary rubbing up against the slightly sexist mentality of the public schoolboys…

    Despite wanting to sound of the time and of the people that fat cat just keeps getting out of the Gucci bag and scratching them….meow….

  41. @ Old Nat

    “I thought Iain Gray’s speech in Parliament was both good and gracious.

    It’s almost as if a huge burden has lifted from his shoulders to reveal the real guy underneath.”

    Wow, Labour really is the closest analogue to the Democratic Party. The true warm and appealing side of the candidates doesn’t come out until after the election loss and the concession speech. :)

  42. Is the increase in Tory VI due to a slight LD further meltdown? Having already lost the left-LD voters to Labour, are they now losing some Cntr-Right LD voters to Cons, since the local elections results may have revived the old pre-80s idea that a “Liberal vote is a wasted vote” syndrome, because even some of those who wanted them to win this May now view it as a completely lost cause? Are the voters perhaps voluntarily returning to an essentially two party system (south of the border!!) as per the 1935 to 1981 period?

  43. @ Amber Star

    “Ed M is doing very well, all things considered but I had Andy B 1st on my leadership list for this very reason. He really seemed to have a vision that combined the best bits of old & new Labour.

    And his ideas may yet prevail. Andy B seems to have a fair amount of influence in the Party that extends well beyond his shadow cabinet role.”

    He has been an active campaigner in all the by-elections. There’s a lot to like about Burnham.

  44. @John Murphy
    I think you comment is very nearly the daftest I have ever read. Does one have to have gone to a public school to say “calm down dear”. What “rape allegation in the mail”,
    are you getting Ken Clarke confused with Strauss-Cohn.
    Have you heard working class men talk to women lately?
    “Shut yer mouth yer silly cow” is a mild example of common expressions in use. Finally who do you think within the voting public is going to care less about the kind PC drivel spouted by the Labour front bench. I will tell you who, the brainwashed leftie with nothing better to think about.

  45. Sapper

    Always interesting to observe English politics.

    “Brainwashed rightie” abuses “brainwashed leftie”.

    There should, perhaps, be more concern about the brainwashing, rather than the direction of travel.

  46. “Is the increase in Tory VI due to a slight LD further meltdown?”
    I would suggest not –
    Yougov Sunday Times (36/41/9) –
    2010 LibDem vote –
    Con – 14%
    Lab – 37%
    Lib – 34%

    Yougov 17th May (39/41/9) –
    Con – 13%
    Lab – 38%
    Lib – 36%

    Although last time the Libs (IIRC) were around 8-9%, the 2010 Lib>Con switchers were around the same.

    If we compare that to May 5th (37/39/9) –
    Con – 13%
    Lab – 37%
    Lib – 39%
    So the only LibDem fallout since the local elections has gone to Labour, it seems.

  47. Sorry if this has already been posted and I’ve missed it –

    Yougov, Should Chris Huhne resign?
    Should Resign/Shouldn’t Resign –
    Con – 47/32
    Lab – 55/25
    Lib – 32/48
    No surprise there.

    But with the 2010 vote –
    Con – 49/30
    Lab – 55/25
    Lib – 43/35

    And the groups with the strongest Resign vote are over 60s and those in the South.
    So the two Tory ‘core’ groups.

  48. @Colin and Neil A
    The remission of senteces for rapists issue seems to have got KC into a lot of hot water. Let me declare my hand: I have a lot if time for KC both professionally and politically. And as a highly regarded figure on criminal justice issues, his views need to be taken seriously.

    I thought he made a few clumsy mistakes today. The policy of increasing remission for less serious offenders is generally sound, provided that there is a good chance that the offender will not turn out a recidivist.
    It is also true that KC did not invent “more serious” and “less serious rapes”. The criminal justice system already recognises this in sentencing policy, where there is a good deal of flexibility for judges.

    The problem is that most rapists will re-offend and cannot be rehibilitated, so any remission is questionable. Secondly just because one rape may attract a lower sentence than another, doesn’t make the act or the effect on the victim any less serious psychologically. Thirdly, the public will never accept higher levels of remission for rapists unless a.d until the average sentence for raoe is increased. Many rapists receive sentences beween 5-10 years or less. How can the public ever accept higher remission rates with such paltry average sentences?

    My own view is that rape should be treated on a par with murder. In practice however, and in the immediate future I thinksentencing flexibility should remain and be in the hands of judges, subject to higher minimum sentences for all classes of rape. Remission should stay at current levels.

  49. @ Mike N

    “KC blunders

    and the Met police are to investigate Laws.”

    I just read about that. Maybe he was misinterpreted and was discussing other kinds of crime designated as “rape.” But it does sound kinda bad.

    I hope David Laws comes back to the Cabinet, I’m a fan so I’m sorry to hear he’s being investigated.

  50. Also, NHS reform (yougov) –
    NHS needs reform and government is going in the wrong direction – 21%
    NHS needs reform but government is going in the wrong direction – 46%
    NHS works well and doesn’t need reform – 21%

    Con voters (2010 Con Voters) –
    Right Dir – 53 (47)
    Wrong Dir – 27 (31)
    No Reform – 9 (10)
    So even those who’re currently Tory aren’t overwhelming supportive of the NHS reforms.
    Even less so for those who voted Tory.

    Lab voters (2010)
    Right – 1 (3)
    Wrong – 59 (55)
    No – 31 (33)

    Lib voters (2010)
    Right – 18 (12)
    Wrong – 59 (56)
    No – 15 (24)

    So Labour and LibDem voters (then and now) generally in agreement over the need for reform and that the government is going in the wrong direction.

    Now would be the time for Labour to unveil their ‘general direction’ thinking for NHS reform – it could be a big winner where the Tories are failing to get across their message.

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