Survation have published a poll of Derby North and South Derbyshire constituencies for the Mirror and Progressive Polling, which shows a boost for Labour in both seats. Full tabs are here. The polling methodology itself was largely along ICM lines (telephone survey, weighted by past vote, ICM style weightings on likelihood to vote, and refusals and don’t knows reallocated according to how they say they voted last time).

In Derby North, currently a Labour marginal, the poll found figures of CON 23%(-9), LAB 51%(+18), LDEM 11%(-16), BNP 10%(+6), Others 6%(+3).

In South Derbyshire, currently a relatively comfortable Conservative seat, the poll found figures of CON 32%(-14), LAB 51%(+15), LDEM 9%(-7), BNP 1%(-3), Others 12%(+9)

The precise shares of the vote aren’t that interesting, given they are based on 174 and 149 people respectively, and hence have very large margins of error, but the overall picture is of a big swing towards Labour. Labour’s performance isn’t radically different from national polls, but there is a sharp drop in Tory support, something national polls aren’t showing. It implies that the Conservatives are doing worse in Derby than elsewhere.

Now, a plausible explanation is that this is connected with the Bombardier decision… it is certainly possible for large industrial closures to have big effects on particular seats (an excellent example is Redcar at the last election, where one assumes the closure of the steelworks was a factor behind the massive swing).

However, it pays to remember that correlation does not equal causality. This could be a Bombardier effect, it could be that the Conservatives are doing worse in a lot of urban seats, or in Midlands seats, or something entirely different. We don’t know. The rest of the questions are of no use in determining salience of the issue – questions of the “How likely is X to affect your vote at the election” pattern are worse than useless (they give false prominence to an issue with no requirement to balance it against other issues, or any measure of how likely people actually are to change their vote).

Of course, in practice we are probably years away from an election (in the Redcar example I quoted above the steel plant was mothballed a matter of months before the election) and there are likely to be major boundary changes in the Derby area (I’d expect Mid-Derbyshire to get the chop, with consequential knock on effects) anyway, but an interesting local straw in the wind nonetheless.

UPDATE: Unconnected to this (well, no more connected to this than every other post I make), there’s a very good explanation of sample error from Ben Goldacre here.


52 Responses to “Poll of Derby North & South Derbyshire”

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  1. Oooh, I have an opportunity to make a sensible polling-related observation… :-)

    Whist acknowledging caveats about local issues, this is good news for Lab: they need to be doing well in the Midlands. Whether this can be said to be significant without considering how it would translate to a 600-seat house is a different matter.

    Regards, Martyn

    (Oh, Anthony: thanx for the Bad Science link – not for the info, but because I didn’t know they had a Torchwood thread… :-) )

  2. I don’t know whether this is quite right or not, I certainly hope it isn’t.
    But I’m very unhappy with the Bombardier decision.
    I tuned in to a Westminster Hall debate on this, and there were many local MPs present with concerns.

    I was looking for some answers but didn’t get them.
    If the Labour Party screwed up in the way they read the EU rules, then why didn’t this government review them as soon as possible on taking office?

    It could be at the end of it that this was not a competitive bid, but we need to know why this firm receives orders elsewhere but can’t ever seem to from our own government.

  3. Anthony, shouldn’t that read 10% for the LDs in Derby North?

    I’m surprised at the level of swing towards labour in South Derbs however as I’d thought Labour would be doing a bit less well in semi rural seats.

  4. The Guardian carries a report about this poll and attributes the results to the gov awarding the contract to Siemens rather than Bombardier.

  5. I commend Ben Goldacre’s writing. I think he is excellent and should be in the House of Lords to wheedle out poor logic…

  6. Having said that the figures for ‘others’ often seem dodgy in these polls so the tories are probably significantly higher at the expense of the BNP in Derby North.

  7. Thank you for posting this, and especially for the link to the full tabs, given that an error seems to have crept in to the summary. The LD share in Derby North should be more like 10% (17% down from 2010). Voting Intention for Labour in South Derbyshire should be 46% rather than 51%.
    Also there is a high share for others (neck and neck with the LDs in South Derbyshire apparently!) which may reflect a quirk in the questioning. I imagine they asked something like “or someone else” at the end of their VI question and got a few positive responses that affect the figures.

  8. Thanks Anthony – I’d meant to flag up Ben Goldacre’s article, but forgot. The Survation data are notable for the high proportion of DKs and Refusals – 50% in total. Even among 2010 voters 30% of Tory, 22% of Labour and 40% of Lib Dem voters fell in this category – a similar pattern to YouGov but much higher figures.

    The sample has a similar bias to other telephone polls – over 60, female, C1/C2 – and while this is weighted for it will decrease the accuracy. By the way has anyone looked at using mobiles in the UK? it’s done in Ireland but maybe the spread of telecoms providers is different there.

    There have been hints in some other polls that the Midlands are polling ‘like the North’ at the moment and given the number of marginals in both this may be bad news for the Conservatives.

    On the subject of sampling, I don’t know if you saw the comment I made about our own opinion poll in the Isle of Man here:

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/3884/comment-page-3#comment-729999

    which has a splendid example of sampling misunderstanding. The whole survey is being presented very oddly. They released some figures half way during sampling.

    Speaking of sampling errors I’ve just realised from your piece that I’ve been miscalculating all my margins of error, at least on VI, by lazily using the overall sample figure rather than estimating the sample size of those who expressed a preference. So ignore everything I’ve ever said. :cry: Though come to think of it, the papers all do the same.

  9. Daniel2 – thanks for flagging up the error, corrected now. The “other” figure is odd. It isn’t clear what parties were prompted for in the voting intention question, so you may be right. There’s also the issue of what pollsters do with people who say “other party”, but when pressed for which one say “don’t know”. These should really be classed as don’t knows, not “other others”.

    Roger – some of Survation by-election polls had very high refusals too. It may be a question wording thing (or perhaps a recognised brand thing – people may be more willing to give information to someone on the phone if they recognise a brand like MORI, that said, I don’t recall anything similar with ComRes or Populus when they first started out).

    Releasing figures half way through sampling is odd. We’ll sometimes give caveated interim figures to the client half way through (especially media clients, it means they can start writing copy early, then put in final figures later) – for questions where the answer is 70-30 they are hardly likely to switch completely. I don’t think we’d do it *for publication* though.

  10. Pleaase have a look at my latest epetition which has just been published:

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/13970

  11. The percentage of the Conservative vote lost in each constituencies must be much closer than the percentage of the poll lost, since we are comparing a substantial majority and a marginal for the other side.

    The cases of local industry closures mentioned together with others would merit academic study to identify the key factors.

    Did the government, or the MP do what they should have done to try to avert the closure? To what extent was the closure the direct result of government action? Was it inevitable and expected? Is it a government or opposition held seat, and is the challenger on the other side of the debate? Has the government done what it could to mitigate the effects?

    All these question need to be answered, and the answers teased out.

    The MP in Govan had many enemies in his own party who claimed that he had done nothing to avert the closure of a major employer in the constituency, and had been sidelined by the leading members of his own party. It wasn’t true, he’d been quite active, but it was certainly believed by some that he was a waste of space.

    MP’s need more direct contact with constituents to protect themselves against local party rivalries, and “events” for which their party in government is responsible.

    The Labour Health spokesman Jackie Baillie is much criticised for her opposition to minimum pricing (which both the SNP and Labour nationally support) and for her borderline obesity. She is also a self caricature of a PC feminist yet her performance in the election was the most successful in a Labour held constituency.

    Her constituency, Dumbarton, is the one that would lose employment if and when the SNP succeed in its anti-Trident campaign.

  12. David B

    Have you seen how the system works here:

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/petitions/index.htm ?

    You should start a petition to adopt the same procedure.

  13. John B Dick

    “Her constituency, Dumbarton, is the one that would lose employment if and when the SNP succeed in its anti-Trident campaign.”

    A point, no doubt, well noted by Danny Alexander when he allegedly (according to Ming Campbell, definitely) interfered in the decision making process as to which further Scottish airbase should close, in order to protect his own constituency interests.

  14. I do suspect it’s a lot easier to find Labour voters in Swandlicote and hard to get the balance of the Derbyshire South seat on a small sample size,
    but the swing against the Tories looks similar to the more compact Derby North,
    even if exaggerated,
    and it is a concern in my view.

    Regarding Bombardier, the train operators should be placing these orders, not the government.

  15. Only just noticed-now that AW has updated his YouGov Today box , bottom right- that 36/40/11 Poll produced a net approval of -23-an improvement of 5.

    Quite a jump-interesting to see if it is sustained at that level .

  16. Not to put it too strongly there’s a view that Siemens must have paid a bribe to members of the Tory Party to secure the contract. .

  17. @DavidB
    “Please have a look at my latest epetition ..”

    I like it and have signed it.

  18. I’d be very surprised if the loss of support for the government is not replicated in all constituencies where there have been/ will be large one off ‘big-bang’ closures/ large-scale redundancies (in whatever sector).

    Those concerned (and their extended friends and family) don’t forget these major life changing (and in some cases threatening) experiences.

    IMHO it will cost the government seats at the next election…..whenever that comes :D

    Tonight/ tomorrow we’ll see whether @Leftylampton’s comment from the thread before last- concerning Saturday nights YG poll- was on target:

    “..The Tory VI figure is still rock-solidly on the 35-36% that it has been at for a month.

    All that’s happened is that YG have picked up a few more LD supporters who have stayed LD rather than gone back to Labour.”

  19. How accurate do individual constituency polls tend to be?

    I know that polling of individual Congressional districts (which are far larger than constituencies) tends to be fairly unreliable and the hardest to poll.

    I think this is for no other reason than that there are a number of people who don’t know what district they’re actually in. This is because of district numbering and of course redistricting. I would imagine that because your constituencies are named (instead of numbered) and refer to actual places, they’d be slightly easier to poll. But in situations where you have constituencies denoted with ‘east’, ‘west’, ‘north’, and ‘south’, it might be harder to get an accurate response (e.g., someone who thinks they live in Bury North really lives in Bury South).

  20. Wolf
    ‘Not to put it too strongly there’s a view that Siemens must have paid a bribe to members of the Tory Party to secure the contract’.

    I have not seen this allegation; does it come from a legitimate source or just mischevious or done for political ends. Hopefully as you passed it on you checked it out first.

    There are alot of issues. It is important that the Govt is seen to be doing all they can. If the tender rules were wrong then firstly they should consider blocking the deal and secondly rewrite the rules to preserve UK interest in the future.

    If the two MPs are not showing that they and the Govt are doing all they can then naturally they will suffer in the polls in this area not just now but when in counts in 2015.

    It is abiout time that our civil service learned the european way of interpreting EU legislation. If our current CSs involved cannot deliver then we should find someone who can, possibly a Frenchman/woman.

  21. Wolf

    Why “must” they have paid a bribe? If you are going to make allegations you need to do it with a bit more evidence. Requoting someone elses unfounded allegation is no different than “I heard it through the grapevine that Ed Milliband drowns kittens”.

  22. “Only just noticed-now that AW has updated his YouGov Today box , bottom right- that 36/40/11 Poll produced a net approval of -23-an improvement of 5.”
    I have my doubts, we had a -23 not long ago and it turned out to be a bit of an outlier.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we do start to see an improvement in approval and Tory VI though, after the news from Libya.
    Even if it isn’t a VI boost that’s sustainable, it should be a bit of a morale boost for Tory partisans. ;)

  23. @ Tinged Fringe

    ” it should be a bit of a morale boost for Tory partisans. ”

    ……what about for ordinary run of the mill Conservative voters ? :-)

  24. Joe James B

    Swadlincote possibly. But a lot easier to get Tory voters in the rural areas around… The whole area (like my seat of NW Leics) is a mix of rural and former industrial towns.

    Given the local election results this suggests a massive swing since May, which is interesting. If only we had some data from another part of the (East) Midlands to let us know if this is a Bombadier effect or a Midlands effect…

  25. This is the most detailed explanation of the Seimens decision I can find :-

    “The tender called for bidders to build, maintain and, crucially, finance 1,200 new carriages over 30 years for the London commuter service.

    The financing element gave Siemens of Germany a big advantage over the three other bidders because of its higher credit rating – one vastly superior to Bombardier’s, which is below investment grade.

    Siemens’ debt is rated A+ by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s – six notches above Bombardier’s BB+. The other two bidders, Alstom and Hitachi, are respectively rated BBB and BBB+.

    Investment bankers familiar with deals similar to Thameslink trains said that each notch of difference equated to at least 0.25 of a percentage point on any debt-funded deal.

    That would leave Bombardier having to pay extra interest of at least 1.5pc a year to finance the deal. Over a 30-year contract that could amount to £700m.

    “The way the contract was structured, it wasn’t just about building the trains but financing them,” said the source. “On that basis it was very hard to compete with Siemens.”

    A summary of the tender, dated April 2008, states: “The Department [for Transport] intends that the chosen bidder will be required to arrange the finance necessary for the acquisition and ownership of the rolling stock.”

    That effectively turned the winning bidder into a rolling stock leasing company, where cost of finance is crucial. ”

    D. Telegraph

    Bombardier-a Canadian company-also lost a contract to Japanese competition under Labour.

    Whatever-I thought Hammond did not make enough effort to explain all this-and crucially , why it was not possible for the Government to consider UK employment factors or indeed to alter the bidding criteria to try & compensate for the unlevel playing field inherant in comparative financing.

    Maybe it wasn’t possible -but Hammond didn’t give the impression that they had strained too many sinews in trying.

    Siemens say UK jobs will be created at two new service & maintenance depots.

  26. Thanks Colin/The Sheep
    Useful details.

  27. “what about for ordinary run of the mill Conservative voters ?”
    Are ordinary run of the mill people, of whatever political persuasion, really interested in polling trends? ;)

    Two groups who’ll be very interested in yougov tonight, though, will be Tory and Labour partisans (both inside and outside the party machines) – Tory partisans praying for a sustained Labour drop (even if we have a 42, I’m sure the spinners will come out claiming that it’s a drop) or a return to ‘normality’ for Labour’s VI.

    That’s one thing I find strange about PB (Hopefully AW won’t mind me making this comment – I’m sure he’ll snip it, if that’s the case), is that it’s packed to the brim with partisans who’re more than happy to jump on outliers as proof of their party’s success.
    You’d think, for a betting site, it’d pull in the most scientific and unpartisan readers, who’re interested in accurate predictions to boost their betting results.
    Perhaps that’s the bonus of a non-partisan comments rule? ;)

  28. Also, I’m not sure I mentioned this in the previous thread, but I see Cameron’s approval rating being much higher this week – the ‘battle for tripoli’ was a near-flawless operation, he didn’t dawdle on holiday and was able to pull off being prime-ministerial.

  29. @Tingedfringe: “Perhaps that’s the bonus of a non-partisan comments rule?”

    It’s more an ‘exception’ than a ‘rule’ on here though…

  30. “It’s more an ‘exception’ than a ‘rule’ on here though…”
    It’s nowhere near as bad on here as at PB, or CiF, or pretty much any politics site.

    And even the partisans tend to be of a better quality. ;)

  31. TingedFringe

    I’m not convinced that Cameron will benefit from the events in Libya. Partly because all the Parties were so split on in anyway – 40% of Conservatives said it was wrong in the Sunday Times poll. But mainly because people will see the main victory as that of the rebels and possibly of the the various fighting forces supporting them (though the actual fighting and dying is being done by Libyans). If Cameron is seen as trying to take credit it could rebound.

    Even coming back quickly from holiday could be contrasted with his slowness in returning for the London riots. He’s going have to play this one very carefully.

    Still presumably we’ll get some indication in the Libyan tracker questions tonight and no doubt questions are already being prepared (or indeed asked) for publishing later in the week.

  32. Tinged Fringe

    “Are ordinary run of the mill people, of whatever political persuasion, really interested in polling trends?”

    This one is :-)

  33. @Roger
    Let’s agree to disagree and wait for next Sunday ;)

    “Still presumably we’ll get some indication in the Libyan tracker questions tonight”
    Isn’t it still too early? The fieldwork would have been yesterday and today, so surely we have to wait until tomorrow night?

    In other news – Prosecutors have asked the judge to dismiss sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn.

    Considering the poll that showed 57% of French people thought it was a conspiracy against DSK, and that the socialists were still ahead – I’d not sure it’d hurt the socialist party.

  34. I agree with Roger Mexico,this is actually rather a tricky one for the goverment.Cameron was quickly back from
    holiday to pick up the political kudos from a victory over
    Gadaffi. But this could contrast with his tardiness when
    the economy was shuddering and London was burning.
    I think what Cameron needed in Libya to benefit politically
    was a quick and relatively bloodless victory.Everytime we
    see a picture of a child in a hospital bed,people will
    remember Iraq and wonder how we ever got involved in
    this.

  35. @ Tinged Fringe

    “In other news – Prosecutors have asked the judge to dismiss sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn.”

    Good. They should be dropped. The judge could of course pull a Ron George and deny the prosecutor’s request. However, that’s pretty unlikely.

    I met a French woman in a restaurant who was clearly a right winger and she brought up DSK, was convinced he was guilty…..of something. After all, he has a political persuasion that is different from her own and is a socialist, therefore he MUST be guilty. I really dislike people like that.

  36. TingedFringe

    I would expect to see a big change in the ‘going well or badly’ question. Most people answering even last night and certainly today would be aware that (most of) Tripoli was falling without a fight. Indeed we may see a rebound in the following one as it becomes clear there will still be sporadic fighting.

    As far as the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ question, I haven’t the faintest idea.

  37. Colin

    Thanks for providing alot more information on the Bombardier case. Not surprisingly it raises more questions than it answers.

    Clearly if the Govt had blocked the order then it would gain in the polls; even if it didn’t, if it had said in future we will make sure that all tenders are skewed in UK’s favour again good for the polls.

    So why didn’t they do the obvious? Could it be that in a country like France, Germany and Italy the civil servants would be aware of this type of weakness and if it meant that this damaged employment in their country would have reworded the tender?

    However, it would be inappropriate for the German govt to dictate to their civil service to word the tender to favour home employment, and it would not need you because the civil service would have the sense to review which companies would bid and make sure it favoured their employment.

    The UK Govt cannot therefore say ‘in future we will bias the tender in favour of our companies, or companies employing UK workers’, as there would be an EU outcry, but perhaps they will take their civil servants on one side and explain how the EU works.

  38. “Everytime we
    see a picture of a child in a hospital bed,people will
    remember Iraq and wonder how we ever got involved in
    this.”
    If we’re talking about contrasts – wouldn’t a relatively bloodless war, backing a popular revolution against a vicious dictator contrast nicely against a ‘shock and awe’ war undertaken in dubious circumstances?

    Just for clarity – I’m a pacifist and broadly anti-war, but IIRC, the majority of Brits aren’t – so they may see a ‘good war’ as a perk for Cameron.
    The public like a simple story of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, and so far, Libya fulfils that narrative structure.

  39. With regard to DSK there’s some interesting polling results from the French pollster CSA in this piece in the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/22/dominique-strauss-kahn-return-politics

  40. SOCALLIBERAL
    ‘I met a French woman in a restaurant who was clearly a right winger and she brought up DSK, was convinced he was guilty…..of something. After all, he has a political persuasion that is different from her own and is a socialist, therefore he MUST be guilty. I really dislike people like that’.

    Do you think it is just the right against left, or do you think sometimes even on this non-partison site that some posters always assume the worst in anything our PM does?

    I don’t blame them as I always think the worst of all politicians whatever their political colour except of course for our glorious Leader (NC).

  41. Ann (in Wales)

    I agree with Roger Mexico,this is actually rather a tricky one for the goverment.Cameron was quickly back from
    holiday to pick up the political kudos from a victory over
    Gadaffi.

    Are you sure you are not just thinking the worst of DC?

  42. Tinged Fringe

    Just for clarity – I’m a pacifist and broadly anti-war, but IIRC, the majority of Brits aren’t – so they may see a ‘good war’ as a perk for Cameron.
    The public like a simple story of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, and so far, Libya fulfils that narrative structure.

    I think for it to be good for DC, he must be able to make a quick clean brake. A lingering war IMO is a vote loser.

  43. Had Iraq quickly become a peaceful democratic country after the fall of Baghdad, Blair and Bush might have better reputations than they have!

    Lets wait to see what happens longer term in Libya, before drawing any conclusions

  44. TingedFringe

    I agree that DC may gain a boost from this. But. If Libya becomes the complex mess that many commentators predict, if NATO face increasing calls for boots on the ground (and if the UK press still cares) then it may prove to be a short lived boost…

  45. @TheSheep,
    I agree completely.
    People tend to not like complex and messy problems – it strikes to the heart of true reality and undermines the mythological structure of society… or something.

    But I’m only predicting a short-term boost for Cameron, I’m making no long-term predictions.
    I have no idea how Libya will turn out, when I was fairly confident how Iraq would.

  46. ALAN

    “I heard it through the grapevine that Ed Milliband drowns kittens”

    No, it’s puppies.

    Don’t believe what you hear on the grapevine.

  47. Tinged Fringe,if it is a relatively bloodless victory,that of
    course will remain to be seen.
    Henry,not necessarily,surely any political leader would do the same.

  48. In Derby North Labour polled 50+% at the 1997 and 2001 GEs.

    Ditto Derbyshire South.

  49. @ SOCALIBERAL

    “I met a French woman in a restaurant who was clearly a right winger and she brought up DSK, was convinced he was guilty…..of something. After all, he has a political persuasion that is different from her own and is a socialist, therefore he MUST be guilty. I really dislike people like that.”

    Of course her gender, rather than her politics might explain her view.

    If I was a woman , that is how I would feel about this particular man.

  50. Looking at Derby North in 1997 and 2001, LDs polled 9% and 14%, Tories 34-35%; there was a Referendum Party candidate in 1997 (3.2%) but no BNP.

    For South Derbyshire in 1997 and 2001, LDs were on 9-10%, and Tories 31-35.6%.

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