Tonight’s YouGov/Sun poll has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%. The Labour lead is obvously bigger than the 1 point lead yesterday, but it remains much lower than YouGov have been showing for most of August and July.

Throughout most of the last two months (in fact, pretty much since the phone hacking scandal broke) YouGov’s daily polling has been showing a steady Labour lead of around about 7-9 points. We’ve now had four YouGov polls in a row showing a Labour lead below that, between 1-5 points. My impression is that there has been a genuine shift, that the underlying lead has narrowed to something closer to 3-5 points.

The natural reaction when there is a shift in the polls is to ask why – see Paul Waugh and James Kirkup for example, pondering about whether it might be a Libya bounce or a law-and-order effect after the riots. I’m slightly dubious about either explanation – the narrowing in the polls seems too delayed to be a riot effect, and I’m always doubtful about the impact of foreign affairs stories – true, more people think Cameron’s handled Libya well than badly, but Cameron’s general approval ratings and perceptions of his qualities haven’t particularly changed. That said, I don’t really have any better explanation to offer up, and the timing appears to chime with Libya – perhaps the government’s handling of the riots and Libya have just given a generally more competent image, or perhaps it’s merely an absence of conspicous bad news for a few weeks.

210 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 37, LAB 42, LDEM 10”

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    Interesting response, thank you. (I am teaching all this stuff next week!)

    Gaitskell was far removed in culture from the voters Labour needed to attract from ‘Supermac’, who, despite his own public school background, was tuned into ‘The Football Crowds’ (Martin Pugh’s phrase).

    Although post 1950 Bevan and Tony Benn (who changed his name in 1970!) were never leaders they did immense damage by continually attacking their own leaders, and by pushing for an ever more left ward direction. Bevan’s ‘lower than vemin’ speech did immense damage. Worth reading Attlee’s ‘Great Contemporaries’ on this.

    HENRY and John Murphy.
    I remember 18 June 1970 so well, and my Dad was so upset, he had called a party in leafy Wallington to laugh at his tory friends. After the Guildford result he retired to the front room to drown his sorrows with a mate from Newcastle.

    Healey and Jenkins in their auto biographies recall the mood in 1970 was very fragile for Labour, due to the credit squeeze mainly. Therefore some accidents like the
    Freak trade figures,
    Alf Ramsay pulling Charlton off the pitch,
    Tony Benn’s ‘Belsen’ speech attacking Powell,
    Heath’s ‘At a stroke’ inflation speech
    Some quite biased BBC reporting on prices
    The decline in the Liberal Vote (like in 1951)

    turned the mood in the last week of the campaign, and yes, MORI picked up the late swing- The EXPRESS had a headline: COME ON TED, which I saw on the bus to NICK POOLE’s school.

    Very sad and weird that I can remember all that.

    (and yes, Callaghan destroyed Barbara Castle, with Owen, Jenkins and Healey staying neutral in the debate- as they now admit they regret)


  2. Robert:
    “The one thing that is obvious to me is that the government is united in a way that Labour isn’t at present.”

    Hmmm. I notice that Cable (still the LDs’ best electoral asset) was slapped down once again yesterday by “a government spokesman” on the issue of banking reform.

    That adds to a long list of previous slap-downs (Graduate loans, NI/Telegraph sting, top rate tax).

    How long until he finally cracks and walks away?

  3. On reducing number of mp’s and equalising size of constituencies.

    Equalising size is fine – the problem comes with reducing numbers. This creates monster constituencies with no central focus which tend to lose any notion of “local”.

    Dare I suggest we increase number of MP’s to around 750 – coupled with a reduction in Lords ( Cameron’s increases in numbers here are partisan, unnecessary expensive and scandalous frankly) numbers to around 200 ( directly elected proportionally in say 12 Uk areas with around 13 – 18 representatives in each would allow greens and ukip representation in upper house- or possibly indirectly with party lists based on proportion of vote in GE)

    FPTP will given the demographics we have at present always result in favouring Labour – their absence in some areas of the southeast and especially south west where libdems offer opposition to Tories make this inevitable, as does the problem of differential turnout. A suburban south east seat of 80,000 voters will have a larger turnout than an inner city Northern English city of the same size. so a safe tory seat may produce a 26,000 majority and a similarly proportioned inner city seat may produce a lab majority of 18,000.

    It is a flawed rather than a corrupt system. This systematic favourability to Labour can be reduced by equalising constituency size, but not eliminated by it. Why the Tories continue to support it is beyond me!

  4. PS: And more to the point, will the Tories wake up to the possibility that it is very much in their interests to chuck Cable a few scraps and help the LDs appeal to the disaffected centre-lefties?

  5. @Robert – “…is that Cameron is doing what he said he would do. Sort out the economy.”

    We can all agree that the economy has been ‘sort out’, although in true European Union style I suspect we might need to leave a little wriggle room on the precise meaning of the term.

    “The one thing that is obvious to me is that the government is united in a way that Labour isn’t at present.”

    I would think that this is somewhat contentious. Cameron has suffered numerous rebellions already, he is deeply distrusted by his right wing, and many of the A listers from 2010 are displaying a keen willingness to tell him where he is wrong.

    ‘United’ is not a word I would associate with the present day Tories.

  6. The only parties that are “united” are centralised dictatorship’s parties. None of the main parties are or can be “united” – and that to me is a good thing.

    The issue may not be unity but leadership – Cameron is strong and at present is holding a disparate group of Tories together – though there are distinct signs of fractiousness. Clegg has lost any confidence with his party and they have become a ragtag of individuals – Ed Miliband is battling against a hierarchy of elected members who never wanted him in the first place – he is getting there and they are becoming , if not united, then less divided than they were.

  7. Mr Ned

    “Cameron’s tories won more votes and a bigger share of the vote in 2010 than Blair’s labour won in 2005. In other words, more people wanted a tory majority in 2010, than wanted a labour one in 2005”

    Largely piled on top of each other in the SE and EE- just as they likely will be again in 2015.

    To win a majority (in the real world rather than the “deserve to win” world) you have to do so across the plurality of regions and to a degree that wins you the necessary seats.

    This Blair did in 2005 and Cameron did not do in 2010 when he *failed to win* the election in what was the most favourable context/ combination of circumstances for a Tory leader in a century !


    “tough times”

    Indeed- and just imagine where we would be now had Bush and Brown not gone for fiscal stimulus in 2007-2008.

    Though we have made it worse in here in the UK IMO with the too fast too deep ‘strategy’ that has spooked households and is pulling the rug away from under manufacturing industry.

    “Wait for the fundamentals”

    As many commentators and analysts have forewarned- the fundamentals may well be a DECADE of sluggish growth that does not reduce unemployment nor raises the incomes of those outside of the top 5% of the population.

  8. Iceman – it isn’t inevitable, but it not something government can necessarily solve and the demographic part of it is probably here to stay.

    Crudely put, there are three parts of the bias.

    The first is what, for the sake of argument, I’ll call mechanical. Stuff to do with the mechanisms of FPTP and constituency boundaries, which in effect mean Labour tend to win constituencies with smaller electorates than the Conservatives. This can be reduced or eliminated by changing boundary redistribution rules… but it is a trade off against the increased inconvenience of frequent boundary changes.

    The second is demographic. With our country’s current demographics, as you say, this will always favour Labour, as the sort of people who vote Labour have lower turnouts than the sort of people who vote Conservative, so safe Labour seats have lower turnout. I suppose in extremis that problem could be removed by making voting compulsory, but it seems rather a case of sledgehammer to nut.

    The third I’ll call political – it’s the case of where the vote is split, and particularly factors around tactical voting. In the past when the Conservatives have about 35%-40% of the vote in a seat they’ll often fail to win it, as voters opposed to them have been happy to make a tactical decision between Labour and the Lib Dems to defeat them. When Labour get between 35%-40% of the vote in a seat they’ve been much more likely to win it, because their opposition is split between Con and LD and their voters are unwilling to vote tactically for one another. There is no mechnical solution to this within FPTP (nor anything wrong with people using their vote intelligently to get the result they want!), but politically it is obviously not set in stone. Clearly if those patterns change, that Labour advantage will also subside.

    (Incidentally, the idea that the Conservatives pile up big wasted majorities isn’t really true – or at least, its true in number of votes, but not in safeness of seats. The Tories tend to have much fewer ultra-safe seats than Labour – there are few Tory equivalents of the Welsh vallies. It is all down to the turnout – in Labour ultra-safe seats, turnout is rock bottom. In Conservative ultra-safe seats, they all turn out. So it isn’t that the Conservative vote is particularly badly distributed. Labour’s is distributed even less well, but their voters in those seats don’t bother turning out while the Tories do!)

  9. Alec

    Secondly, Cameron has overseen a massive increase in the number of Lords, as he tries to re secure the inbuilt Tory advantage in the upper chamber. This is both nakedly political and completely undercuts his main argument for the MPs reduction which was one of shrinking the size of parliament to save money.

    A number of non-Tory posters have made this point and it is true. Probably also valid was that Labour reformed the Hose of Lords, but reform seemed to be limited to mostly Labour appointed peers, rather than heriditary, so that Blair had a majority rather than minority in the Lords.

    DC is now doing the obvious which is re-securing a Tory majority. There is nothing unconstitutional about this as the constitution is flawed.

    I do not see the point in criticising either Blair or Cameron for acting in this way; they were just trying to neutralise the unelected second chamber. I do think Blair missed an opportunity to make the second chamber a modern democratic part of government, and if DC does not at least produce an agreed strategy to implement a democratic second chamber hopefully on a proportional representation basis, as policy by 2015 for the next Parliament, then he would be equally to blame for failing to introduce better democracy and cut out this appointment of friends, allies and toadies to the Lords by the Govt of the day.

    Incidentally both John Major and Tony Benn have strongly criticised this current patronage, inherited from the monarch, as one of the threats to democracy in the UK.

  10. Thank you Antony.

    The split voting is of course why the Tories can’t win seats in Scotland. Even at Holyrood this year their key targets in fptp seats ( Dumfries and Eastwood were lost relatively massively to Labour, yet both had SNP winning most votes on the list. There was an assumption that only Labour could win these seats from Tories therefore that’s where the vote went)

    If we see a pro coalition coalescence of electoral behaviour where supporters of the government choose to vote tactically against Labour then much of the present bias may well be eradicated. Possible but unlikely I think.

    I would like to see compulsory voting with a built in “none of the above” box to go with it. It would increase Labour’s overall percentage of vote I suspect – but probably make little difference to overall seat numbers. I believe it has wider merits for social inclusion and participation in the process of politics itself. And if “none of the above” figures hit 10% or even more then it would encourage all politicians to engage better with their electorates and reveal the real rates of disaffection and disillisionment within our society which needs to be tackled.

  11. @Henry – “Hose of Lords” – I think this is what Mr Speaker wears on his legs for the ceremonial stuff.

  12. Robert
    “I think what the polls are telling us is that, were there to be a GE tomorrow, it could go either way. Yes, it’s nice to see the blues only 1% behind in a recent poll but lets be realistic, 3 and a half years is an awful long time in politics, anything can happen and it always amuses me how animated some become on the release of the latest poll and what it allegedly means. If Labour are not 15/20% ahead in 18 months time, then victory for them in 2015 must be on a knife edge.

    My own view as to why the Tories have largely held the GE position for almost 18 months now, is that Cameron is doing what he said he would do. Sort out the economy. Those who voted blue understood there would be some austerity to come to return to normal times. The economy is bumping along the bottom & yes, there may well have to be some tweaking in order to stimulate small business growth & employment.

    The one thing that is obvious to me is that the government is united in a way that Labour isn’t at present. (It was the other way round in 1997). I look forward to reading the Darling book, he, by and large was a good chancellor in very difficult circumstances. And when those difficult circumstances have been exacerbated (not caused) by your current boss, you are in a very difficult place indeed, as everything you say or do, is implicitly a criticism of your boss & that isn’t good for career development!

    As for DC & GO not racing round the world like headless chickens trying to save it, I for one am content that it is all going on quietly behind the scenes. If anyone is to lead the world, it has to be Obama (but don’t hold your breath, he didn’t exactly lead on Libya) & in Europe it has to be Merkel & Sarkozy. The problem is, all three will be fighting for re-election soon & that is an obvious distraction. I have no doubt that DC & GO are putting in their twopenn’orth with all three of them.”

    I can’t disagree with any of that. It’s nice to read a post that I not only understand – difficult with a small brain – but even agree with!

    PS The point made by someone else about Tories having strong leadership more than unity is probably a fair one though, I would also say that it is a good sign of our democratic government that the varied opinions within government aren’t much suppressed, and are in fact by and large listened to.

    ‘Slapped down’ is a rather emotive phrase. Any government consists of different views. I was one who agreed with Cable on splitting the banks. However there was an interesting discussion on Newsnight and the former Deputy Chairman of Barclays made the valid point that the crisis was initially caused by Northern Rock, B & B & Lehman Bros, none of which have both domestic banking & ‘Casino banking’ arms. And I did rather come round to the view that, yes it is something to be done but perhaps just now is not the time, when the economy is so weak.
    So, if Cable’s plan is not to be enacted just now, it’s less of a ‘slap down’ more that he has lost the argument.


    Tim Mongomery wrote an interesting piece in Tuesdays ‘Times’. I know he is a blue but he is a well respected commentator. To quote him, ‘ Tony Blair understood that Britain is a conservative country and that voters never stopped liking Tory policies – but they did stop liking the people advancing them.’ Blair took the opportunity & was elected 3 times in a row. If he hadn’t had the millstone of Brown round his neck, he may well have won again in 2010.

    TM goes on: Following the deposing of MT in 1990 subsequent leaders suffered constant speculation about their leaderships. They were like ferrets in a sack, constantly fighting and mutineering. Come to today & it’s Labour that is the unhappy family with various memoirs confirming that the Blair/Brown years were at least as bad as reported at the time. Focus groups find that Brother eating Brother is the biggest thing known about EM.

    I agree with him that Cameron is not yet loved by the party as MT once was but at least he doesn’t have ex leaders sniping at him, in fact they are all behind him. The fact there is a coalition obviously brings stresses particularly from his right wing because compromises have had to be made but with people like Haig, IDS & Major behind you, the right wing can largely be kept in line. They have hopefully learned that the best way to win a GE is to remain united.

  14. To my point about biting off more than you can choose regarding ‘deregulation’- this from the planning professional press (the absolute definition of a slow burner and the epitome of something that will affect local council elections- and feed through into national elections- over the long term).

    “Telegraph steps up NPPF campaign

    Thursday, 01 September 2011

    News that the Daily Telegraph has launched a ‘Hands off Our Land’ campaign in response to the government’s draft national planning policy framework (NPPF) features in today’s newspaper round-up.

    The paper runs a front page story on the issue headlined “Coalition ‘rush to sweep aside planning laws will put countryside in peril’”.

    It says the coalition’s proposals will “replace the strict limits on building in rural areas that have been in place since the 1940s”.

    In an editorial, the paper says the “coalition is trying to railroad through a change to planning law that could transform the way the country looks – and it is shouting down those who have the temerity to object”.

    The NPPF row also makes the front page of the Times with a lead story headlined:

    “Planning revolt fuels fears over economy”.

    The paper reports on comments made by the departing chief of the British Chambers of Commerce David Frost, who says that the government must “hold its course” on its planning reforms. “There is a stand-off and you have serious forces lined up against the proposed change”, he said.

    In an editorial the paper says there “is more than nostalgia in the countryside and the government needs to listen”.

  15. biting of more than you can ‘choose’ ??

    er, *chew*

    blasted iOS auto spell again!

  16. @ ALEC
    “As I said, you are entirely and completely wrong on this.”

    Thanks-nice one :-)


    “As many commentators and analysts have forewarned- the fundamentals may well be a DECADE of sluggish growth that does not reduce unemployment nor raises the incomes of those outside of the top 5% of the population.”

    They may be-or not.

    But I think the voting public are capable of putting UK’s economy into some sort of context. If other major EU economies & US are roaring away & we are still lagging-then the context will be bad for the Government.

    If however we appear to be “sharing” a set of negative factors which have general effect,-or even avoiding some of them, then I think the public will is capable of understanding that.

    Perhaps we are in that situation now , with a perceived advantageous interest rate compared to others.
    The mortgage holders grabbing four year fixes at sub 4% rates might well be giving GO some brownie points ?

  17. Leftylampton,

    Public expenditure as a percentage of GDP is about as high as it has been at any time since the end of WWII, and 10% higher than after five years of Attlee’s Labour government in 1950. The centre left should be ecstatic; we’re nearly a majority-planned economy. Instead, all I hear about is 30 years of capitalism…

  18. COLIN

    “If however we appear to be “sharing” a set of negative factors which have general effect,-or even avoiding some of them, then I think the public will is capable of understanding that.”

    I have to disagree- the vast majority of people are not interested in domestic politics and economics let alone that overseas !

    What they are concerned with/ what they’ll look at is their personal and/or household bottom line….and vote accordingly in 2013-2015. They won’t be blaming the clunking fist then.

    Note that we can be also be objectively performing quite well macroeconomically without it having much of an impact on individuals, and families: if pay is stagnant/ bills continuously increasing/ your job insecure etc etc etc

    Also note that the “interest rate” charged on credit card debt (and offered for unsecured loans)- that bastion of the vast swathe of UK populations ability to facilitate a middle class lifestyle- have been increasing remorselessly the last 15 months.

    No austerity premium there !!

    Lastly- commentators and analysts all predict that – due to inflation and other cost-push issues- the BOE rate (and therefore mortgages) all need to go up by 2013.

    The ‘fundamentals’ just don’t look good at all.

  19. Chrislane1945,
    ‘The figures are exciting for Tories. A 5% deficit in the polls for the Tories is very good news for them. When Labour last won power in a GE 1997 and 1964, from the Tories they were well ahead in the polls’
    I am a bit puzzled by those comments. Post 1964 the Tories did not enjoy a sustained lead – notwithstanding the shock Jan 65 by-election – until Spring 1967 when they gained Glasgow Pollok from Labour – the last Tory by election gain in Scotland! – and a landslide win in the April GLC elections.
    After 1997 Labour retained a good lead throughout its first term – with the exception of a very short blip at the time of the lorry drivers’ dispute in Autumn of 2000.It was not until post Iraq 2003 that Tory leads started to appear.

    ps In 1970 , it was ORC in the Evening Standard who called the election correctly. MORI did not appear until 1974!


    Vince is the greatest disappointment and not the greatest asset.

    For a man of nearly 70 years to put up with all the put downs he has suffered from over he past 16 months simply shows that even if you’ve held a top job in one of the world’s most important companies (Shell) political power is an addiction which is difficult to give up once you’ve experienced it. Vince will go before the May elections 2012 and he knows that this will bring an end to the coalition and that LDs will get some credit for ridding us of the most right wing government since the 1920s. It is rumoured that Vince has been having private discussions with Ed and Ed which wouldn’t be at all surprising.

  21. Printed and TV media running quite prominently today with the compulsory redundancies of soldiers and the move of the repatriation location away from wooten basset (because the base is being shut down and the land sold off).

    Tory MP Mercer has been on the airwaves as well criticising it all.

    It will be interesting to see whether this feeds into the Saturday/ Monday YG numbers.

  22. @ Bill Patrick

    Public sector is bigger, largely down to the loss of full employment, an aging population and improvements in medical technologies and care, rather than an expansion of the role of the state – it’s simply that the roles that it already had have become much more expensive to sustain.

    But I have never thought and never claimed that we were in a full free market economy – the welfare state cannot be dismantled and has not been. The major philosophical distinctions between our three parties on the broad sweep of the economy are nuanced – There is no-one advocating mass nationalisation and no-one suggesting we attack basic state provision.

    In reality virtually the entire UK political spectrum represented in parliament would slot into the Democratic Party in the US. All the parties are centrist and in the European mainstream.

    I remeber when I was doing my degree in the early eighties we explored the German polity as one in which ideology had largely vanished as an issue and you had three parties broadly fighting on the same ground. This is largely where we are.

    Someone may argue for a freee-market economy with a safety net to protect the vulnerable, another may argue for a welfare state which requires a capitalist system to generate wealth to sustain it – in reality both don’t end up too far away from each other.

    Beneath the Thatcherite rhetoric, she did not fundamentally attack the state – merely its enterprises in the areas of consumer service provision which she deemed, and which has been tacitly accepted, should be in the private sector -little fundamentally changed in the size of the state. Brown as chancellor and PM increased the size of the state significantly but not fundamentally: he did not renationalise nor look to direct state enterprises at all.

    There is in fact huge consensus on the bigger picture here – merely heated disputes on tactics, individual policies and strategy.

  23. Graham (to Chris Lane 1.55pm)

    You need to look at the polls PRIOR to 1964 and 1997, not after! (And you will find that Labour were a lot, lot further ahead than they are now, is what he means)



    We shall see-we both live with our own hopes…………and prejudices.

  25. Alec

    @Henry – “Hose of Lords” – I think this is what Mr Speaker wears on his legs for the ceremonial stuff.

    My mistake; of course I did not mean ‘Hose of Lords’, part of the Speakers garb, and a totally useless accessory belonging to a bygone age, that has no place in a modern democracy. I meant the House of Lords, on the other hand…

  26. @BT Says – “As for DC & GO not racing round the world like headless chickens trying to save it, I for one am content…..”

    On the basis that a) It would be more effective and b) more entertaining, I would probably prefer to see a bit of international headless chickenary. I’m thinking in ‘It’s a Knockout’ mode, with the IMF in large rubber chicken suits chasing the Italians dressed as giant milkmaids up a slippery slope with the Belgians throwing wet sponges at them all.

    It’s why Belgium was invented, surely?

    @Rob Sheffield – the point on interest rates is interesting. As @Colin says, the ultra low rates and current falls in mortgage rates will help the coalition now to a degree, although you are also right that this has to be set against other factors like job uncertainty and wage supression.

    Where I think you make a very strong point is the next few years. Unless we enter a depression, we will certainly see interest rates rise before the next GE. It’s not the base rate that matters, but how the lenders respond.

    We are now seeing bank margins fall again and my guess is bank shares will suffer a torrid time over the next few months. They always have losses to recoup after economic dips, and this time it will be particularly so.

    This means that lenders will be very quick to increase margins when there is any sign of a pick up in base rates. Savers will see little improvement but borrowers will see rates climb well above base rate, and the timing of this is likely to be difficult for the government.

    Unlike previous periods of increased borrowing costs post recession, this one will come after a very lengthy period of eroded real living standards, meaning the rate rises will be doubly painful. Due to the decline in living standards some of the projections I’ve seen of what will happen to reposessions if base rates hit a level of 3% after truly shocking, and even this level doesn’t allow for banks widening their spread and the fact that 3% is still historically extremely low for base rates.

  27. David B

    he knows that this will bring an end to the coalition and that LDs will get some credit for ridding us of the most right wing government since the 1920s.

    I would be sorry to see Vince leave; However I am sure he knows an election at this time is unthinkable to the LIb Dems. I am surprised that you think the current Coalition Govt s is anywhere as near right wing as the Mrs T and JM govts. Better not tell the Mail or Telegraph or they will start supporting DC, instead of dismissing him as a Liberal.

    You can get some good odds I believe on a 2012 GE.

  28. BT,
    If your interpretation of Chrislane’s comment is correct, my point still stands regarding 1964. 16 months into the 1959 Parliament – ie early 1961 -the Tories were still in the lead!Labour held the lead from early 1962 until late summer 1964. By the time Parliament was dissolved in mid Sept 1964 the Tories were ahead and favourites to be reelected – only in the final ten days did Labour inch ahead again.

  29. “The website claims Mr Darling identifies Mr Balls and former business minister Baroness Vadera, key allies of former prime minister Mr Brown, as running an alternative Treasury unit.

    Mr Darling also confirms that Mr Brown tried to force him out of No 11 in 2009.

    Mr Balls told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that Mr Brown did not tell him what he planned and insisted that he made clear he wanted to stay in his job as children’s secretary.

    He said: “I thought Alistair did a good job as chancellor in very difficult periods.”

    Asked about Mr Brown’s plan, Mr Balls said: “He never told me that was what he was doing, but there’s no doubt from what Alistair’s saying and what everybody else has said, and the conversations that happened in that week, that that was the plan.
    “I made it clear in that week to people in government and outside I thought that was the wrong plan.

    “I thought changing the chancellor in 2009 was the wrong decision and I wanted to stay in the department as Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.”

    He said the issue was “history” but in a sign that the party recognised the potential damage the memoir could cause, Mr Balls said: “I have to say that if I were George Osborne at the moment, totally on the defensive on my failing economic plans, I would think there’s nothing better than a book, a memoir, some revisiting of the past. ”

    The Indy

  30. Anthony, has YouGov changed its methodology to something more reasonable, or does it still weight one Mirror reader as half the population?

    If they have changed their methodology that might explain why they’re coming closer to being in line with the other pollsters, if not, this is a significant set of polls!

  31. Robert

    the former Deputy Chairman of Barclays made the valid point that the crisis was initially caused by Northern Rock, B & B & Lehman Bros, none of which have both domestic banking & ‘Casino banking’ arms

    Actually none of those institutions ’caused’ the crisis. They merely happened to be the first victims of the two stages of it. The basic cause was the way in which the international financial system was allowed to operate.

    What the proponents of maintaining the status quo never explain is how they could stop the same thing happening again. Separating the retail and speculative sides of banking would at least protect depositors more and make it clearer what was going on. It’s certainly not the only thing that is needed to be done, but I can’t see anything working without it.

    It’s hardly rocket science – effectively it’s like the Glass-Steagall Act which served the US so well. Come to think of it I think even the Ancient Romans insisted the two types of business be kept separate.

    What the bankers and their acolytes are afraid of is no longer being able to bet depositors’ money in the casino in the knowledge that if they win it’s massive salaries and triple bonuses all round while if they lose the taxpayer will pick up the tab … and it’s massive pensions and triple bonuses all round.

  32. @ graham and Chris Lane

    We can all choose to read what we want into the polling figures we see. The difficulty with historical comparisons is that we have never been here or even anywhere similar in the past. We have come off thirteen years of Labour rule ( uncharted territory) and have a coalition government ( again uncharted territory) this makes extrapolation from previous polling difficult.

    To boost Labour we can say that Labour here is doing far better then the Tories were after their 18 years of rule – the Labour polling here is stratospheric compared to Tories 1998 ( where we are closest to in mirror parallel at this point in time).

    It is also the case that we have had three periods of extended single government – in two of them 1951 -64, and 1997 – 2010 they coincided with significant growth in economic well being of the population and when economy began to struggle both governments lost power. Clearly we are not in similar circumstances now, therefore logic would suggest that we are going to see the frequent government changes and narrow leads of the 60’s and 70’s . “Tories won’t make things better by 2015 maybe Labour will” scenario.

    To boost Tories, their incredible 18 years of power 1979 -1997 did not co-incide with continued economic growth and bizarrely they lost when the economy was entering into a period of sustained growth. This was done with the aid of a split opposition which they lack now, but also fear of the Labour alternative. So Labour piled up large polling leads only to see the electorate run scared on election day ( I remember grimly), We are heading into similar terrotory to the 80’s ( at times uncanny) of increasing unemployment , squeeze on the incomes of most families and a public sector squeeze. Labour are of course in a different position. The opposition is not split. But the Tories’ best tactic remains to hammer Labour’s economic record, that they can’t be trusted on the economy and the “There is No Alternative” mantra. This, at present , is exactly what the tories are doing – and with some success. I think going negative on Labour is their only strategy – little positive news seems possible economically by 2015 – we will all probably be worse off then we were in 2010, so attacking Labour is only real game in town. Hence Red Ed, geeky Ed, Brown’s deficit, demanding Labour alternatives rather than defending their own decisions. It is unscrupulous but essential for them. Time will tell if it works.

  33. BT and ICEMAN.
    i, There was a poll, I think on am of 18/6/70 by GALLUP which had Labour’s lead falling to 2%.

    ii. On the polls in 1964 and 1997, the point I was trying to make is that Labour was much further ahead in the polls PRIOR to the GE, than the result finally turned out.
    I think that the Gaitskell THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY speech, which in his words, had ALL THE WRONG PEOPLE APPLAUDING (He said to his wife)
    launched the Labour lead into double figures. The much derided Home nearly pulled it round.

    iii. Another memory from 1970. I was on the 154 Bus from West Croydon Bus Station on the way home from school by REEVES CORNER (now burned down) when I saw the Eve.Standard bill board announcing Shock Trade Figures.
    (Roy Jenkins had refused any sort of lenient budget and is the last UK Chancellor to leave office with a Budget and a Trade Surplus for the year)

    On a totally different thread.. The politics of food. The politicians and posters and journalists who eat SUPPER and have SUPPER PARTIES live in a different ideological world from the voters who still have TEA as their meal at 5.00 pm ish. (LOL as the youngsters say)
    ED’s response to the riots is a Supper Party response, totally alien from the Tea-eating people.
    (Jenkins’s friends used to be very rude about Harold and his love of fried eggs and HP sauce)

  34. Bill P.

    True of course. If only CONTROL of the banks had come along with paying for them. Ah well. We’ve got one half of the socialist utopia I guess.

    But to be serious for just a moment, in 2007, public spending as a proportion of GDP was lower than it had been in 96 under Major. That gives some context to the Tory shouts that Brown spent recklessly for 13 years.

  35. HENRY

    Thanks for your considered reply – I see this Conservative government as undercoer right wing and quite insidious abou it. I’m aware of the Mail and Telegraph agenda but haven’t actually read either of those papers for years – am I missing much?

    I too like Vince but I don’t like the spectacle of a basically honourable man being dragged by a bunch of people he probably doesn’t like and whose politics he probably detests. Clegg should do the decent thing and give him much more cover.

  36. Roger Mexico

    “Separating the retail and speculative sides of banking would at least protect depositors more and make it clearer what was going on”

    Depositors were & are protected. But with combined banking the State has to bail the whole shooting match out in order to preovide that protection.

    The point of separation ( & it looks like the Banking Commission will recommend ring fencing rather than corporate separation) is to allow the dealing arm to go bust without dragging down the retail arm.

    According to Wiki, prior to the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall sub-prime loans were just five percent of all mortgage lending.- By the time the credit crisis peaked in 2008, they were approaching 30 percent-though other factors impacted the sub prime market too.

  37. Neil – straight answer is no. There is no change in methodology.

    Degree of weighting doesn’t really matter hugely, or at least, much less than what figures you weight to. Its effect is to reduce the effective sample size and therefore increase volatility – it’s more important what figures you weight to, not the degree of weighting it takes to get there (within reason. Obviously if you are weighting things by factors of 10 you have a problem).

    Secondly, newspaper weighting is a very marginal factor – in terms of voting intention, past vote and party ID really are the things that matter when it comes to weighting… nothing else has nearly so much impact. A layman looks at the figures on a poll, sees something that has needed heavily weighting up or down, and assumes that therefore it has a big impact on the final figures. It doesn’t necessarily follow that it does, especially on something like voting intention that’s very strongly correlated to one of the other weighting variables used.

    In practice, the purpose of newspaper weighting in YouGov’s poll is to get the balance between broadsheet and tabloid readers right – without it you get respondents who are too “high-brow”. The impact of it though is quite minor. The impact of the particular target figures used, of weighting a newspaper’s readers to 10% or 12% or 15%, is incredibly small, well below 1%. The idea I see sometimes that it explains great big differences between companies’ topline figures just isn’t realistic.

    The differences you see between different companies voting intention polls are down to things like treatment of don’t knows (e.g. reallocation based on past vote), weighting or filtering by likelihood to vote (or absence of such), and the political weighting of polls – that is, what targets are set for past vote/party ID, and when the weighting data used is collected.

  38. DAVIDB
    “a basically honourable man”

    Hmmm…..”fighting a war”; within his own government-the ” nuclear option”…” if they push me too far then I can walk out and bring the government down and they know that”………….and all of this to a covert newspaper hack.

    I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him.

    He gives me the impression that whilst he enjoys the titles & power-he doesn’t like the government he is serving in.

    An honourable man would voice his concerns to his PM-then resign-then & only then tell the newspapers.

  39. The final poll predictions for the June 1970 election were:

    Marplan Lab lead 9.6%
    Gallup Lab 7.0
    NOP Lab 4.1
    Harris Lab 2.0
    ORC Con 1.0

    Actual Con 2.2 (GB)

  40. @ Iceman

    “little positive news seems possible economically by 2015”

    Really I think that is a totally extreme and unfounded statement. At very least inflation is set to go back down in 2012 once VAT drops out of the equation, taking the squeeze off living standards.

    Do you really think there is the prospect of zero growth in the next four years?

    Apart from the extreme scenarios (e.g. complete Eurozone meltdown), the central prospect is of a very gradual return to slow (2.0-2.5%) annual growth.

  41. Marplan Lab lead 9.6%
    Gallup Lab 7.0
    NOP Lab 4.1
    Harris Lab 2.0
    ORC Con 1.0

    And critically, the fieldwork for ORC finished one day later than everyone else, Marplan’s 2 days before anyone else.

    That actually disguises what went on. Originally ORC’s poll showed a 4.5% lead for Labour, but they recontacted 257 people from the poll the day before the election, and found a late swing to the Tories. They made projections based on that trend, resulting in their final poll showing a one point Tory lead. In short, ORC went out on a limb… and won.

  42. Chrislane1945,

    I would doubt that Bevan was a drag on the Labour vote in 1959. By that time he was on board with Gaitskell having deserted the CND left two years earlier with his ‘naked into the Conference chamber’ speech.He is much more likely to have harmed Attlee in 1955. I beieve the ‘lower than vermin’ remarks date back to the late 40s.
    As for Ed Milliband being left wing, this can only be so in relation to his immediate predecessors.. He is well to right of all pre Blair leaders – including Gaitskell- indeed he is well to the right of pre Thatcher Tory leaders such as Macmillan and the later Heath!
    In your earlier electoral history discussion, I don’t think you mentioned 1929 – when the 1924 Tory majority of 200 was overturned leaving Labour as the largest party for the first time.

  43. ALEC

    ” I’m thinking in ‘It’s a Knockout’ mode, with the IMF in large rubber chicken suits chasing the Italians dressed as giant milkmaids up a slippery slope with the Belgians throwing wet sponges at them all.” It’s why Belgium was invented, surely?

    My wife used to be in the local ‘It’s a knockout team’ in Scunthorpe in the early 70’s. I don’t remember any oversized milkmaids though! The 70’s, ah! those were the days – great music, great fashion, what a great PC free world it was then. (I’m not referring to the computer store)

    And I thought Agatha Christie invented Belgium, so that she could write detective novels?

  44. Robert C

    Mr king predicted that whoever won the 2010 election would be out of power for a generation. Why would he think that if a return to stable growth was likely or even possible.

    Optimism is one thing but any belief in a return to stable growth is pure fairytale. None of he underlying problems which caused the crisis have been dealt with, instead we have zero interest rates and QE, which is like giving steroids to a cancer patient

    My optimistic forecast for 2015 is 4 million unemployed but I think it will be closer to six.

  45. RiN

    “Why would he think that if a return to stable growth was likely or even possible.”

    It was nothing to do with growth-he was refering to the need to correct the public finances .

    ” I saw the governor of the Bank of England [Mervyn King] last week when I was in London and he told me whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be,”

    David Hale

  46. Iceman,

    And yet we’ve apparentely been living in a country of “dynamic capitalism”-


    Informed people look at public spending over the course of an economic cycle (I know they’d been abolished, so this kind of fuddy-duddy is obviously inapplicable to Labour’s Britain) as well as looking at taxation and NGDP (since, if NGDP growth is constant, government deficit spending of the sort that occured during Brown’s later years crowds out private sector finance).

    Though it’s true that John Major was a better social democrat than New Labour in many respects. John Major never introduced tuition fees and the UK’s gini coefficient actually fell slightly during his premiership, despite the fact that ceteris paribus it should rise over time in a developed country as the demographic structure becomes less proportionate (middle-aged people earn more on average than younger people) and as more people retire and earn returns off accumulated capital. Contrariwise, the gini coefficient was at its highest in decades when Labour left office (considerably higher than under Thatcher).

    Anyway, the point is moot: right now, for whatever reason, public spending is at near-record post-war levels and nearly 50% of new production is distributed by the state. One can complain that these resources aren’t being distributed enough to the poorest in society (I certainly do) but we’re hardly living in a centre-right utopia right now.

    The Lib Dems problems is that the concessions they have won are too dispersed e.g. tax cuts for low-income earners. The first rule of successful politics in a democracy is to concentrate the benefits and disperse the losses. They’d have been better off with more in-kind benefits like the EMA or lower tuition fees. Who gets excited about low income workers paying tax in the way that people get excited about concentrated benefits? The Lib Dems are novice social democrats.

  47. Colin

    Mr king has also said that we are likely to have 15 to 20 years of very sluggish growth similar to what Japan experienced after their stock market and real estate bubbles burst. They also had/have a zero interest rate policy for twenty years now and loads of QE and other stimulus measures, the key difference between them and us is that they have trade surpluses.

    Mr king is a very wise man, he has spoken a length about the trap that the work economy finds itself in, strangely this is only reported on fringe finance blogs both left and right

  48. Robert C

    What you seem to be saying is that, whilst we’re going through a prolonged period of stagflation, the long term outlook is that we should get back to something just about like an even keel in 3-4 years.

    If so, there’s hardly an economic bounty for the Tories. They can try the “Yes it Hurt. Yes it Worked,” slogan of Major’s 97 campaign.

    The debate then comes down to whether such a slow recovery was inevitable after Labour’s shambolic mismanagement, or whether we were coming out of recession in decent shape by early 2010 and this was throttled off by Tory dogma.

    In other words, assuming that your prognosis is correct, we’re in proper political dog-fight territory, with both sides having plausible arguments and may the better man win.

    Of course, this all assumes that the medium term predictions are correct and that we don’t in fact slip into the double dip that we’ve been tip-toeing past this last 12 months. If that happens, the Tories have one hell of a mountain to climb.

  49. By the way, Ed Miliband might be onto something with the “squeezed middle”… Ten years ago. It’s interesting to see how the middle class fell behind under Blair’s first premiership, while Thatcher’s premiership was a boom time for the rich and Major’s premiership was a time of proportionately high gains for the poor & working classes-

    (Note these are income figures, not wage figures. Wages exclude income from capital, which as I mentioned tends to become higher and higher as a society ages and begins to live more and more as mini-capitalists i.e. living off pension funds.)

  50. Trust R in N to cheer us all up.

    Anthony, does anyone read newspapers in that loyal way nowadays? How many of us just flit online from one to the other? Are there data on the situation?

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