Tonight’s YouGov poll has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%. Back to a six point Labour lead, but still below the sort of 7-9 point Labour lead we had been seeing.

Perhaps whatever caused the narrowing of the polls is fading again – a purely short term boost, and we’ll have 8 point leads again before long. Alternativly this is just normal margin of error variation around a Labour lead of 4 or 5 points. Time will tell.


154 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 36%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%”

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  1. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/2010/12/09/do-turkeys-vote-for-christmas-yes-when-it-comes-to-liberal-democrat-mps-and-the-boundary-review-for-westminster-constituencies-nick-clegg%E2%80%99s-party-will-lose-a-fifth-of-all-its-mps/

    Lewis Baston’s analysis finishes thus:

    A final caveat about the model is that we do not know the December 2010 electorate numbers from which the Boundary Commissions will be working. These might be significantly different from the figures used in the model. The new boundary rules mean that even fairly small changes in the numbers of registered electors can have hugely disruptive consequences for boundaries across a wide area.

    The early signs are that some local authorities have been successful in boosting their voter registration rates in recent months, with the city of Glasgow adding 36,000 to the register, nearly half a constituency. It would be richly ironic if the outcome of the ‘reform’ were even worse for the coalition parties than the model suggests because the imminent Bill has led to a rise in inner urban registration rates. Perhaps in future the Tullymander will become known as the Cleggymander?

  2. Alec

    Oil company with links to Tory MP and funder of the Tory party gets exclusive deal to trade oil with the rebels without other oil companies being invited to take part. Early days and there could be valid reasons behind the story, but I’ve predicted for a long time that there will be be a major Tory party funding scandal at some stage as they have been so slack with their management of big donors.

    Labour too; but not so much LDs; does that make the LDs the moral leader or the poor relative because they can’t get the donations in the first place.

  3. Crossbat11

    The Conservatives are in a sort of limbo land where so far they’ve avoided widespread public opprobrium but, strangely, have yet to seal any sort of deal with the electorate. Rather spookily, certainly for them, they seem to be stuck in their pre-May 2010 election mode of being viewed with a mixture of uncertainty and mild suspicion by a large number of voters.

    Interesting analysis. However, I do not think the Tories are expecting to pick up votes at this stage; they will probably be happy to hold onto to say 34% or a bit less of core support (very high for core support).

    Basically this core is saying we agree in cutting hard and early and anticipate a benefit, but it is the principle we support.

    The 15% the Tories will need to impress clearly have doubts or fears of cuts and loss of jobs, even of damaging the economy in other ways. By late 2014 they will need to present the case for a successful economic policy. Everything may not be booming but there should be light at the end of the tunnel. If the electorate (this 15%) begin to say ‘perhaps the Coalition got it right, then they are home and dry.

    If not then they will probably hold onto about 36%, who believe in small govt. and also think there were excesses in the previous govt which to some degree the Coalition had addressed.

    I am not sure where that leaves the LDs; however, I suspect that the Party will split, with NC’s part being much closer to the old Liberals.

    Finally, if the economy is stalling then there is nothing to prevent enough of the electorate to vote Labour for a comfortable win. If not, then the Tories slogan will be ‘thanks to us the economy is at last recovering, don’t let Labour ruin it again’.

  4. ChrisLane1945

    It was a Conservative government that allowed the Unionists first to gerrymander elections in Northern Ireland and then secondly use the majority they gained to change the 1921 constitution which had protected the Republican minority.

    And Heath’s selfless political bravery only came when they’d tried and failed to make the Unionists in NI reasonable. And never forget it was Powell who defected from the Conservatives who may well have handed the election to Wilson in 74 and that was more bound up with immigration policy than the unionists in NI.

    The Scots unionists were also subsumed under the Conservative banner in early 1970s. North of the border the Tory brand went into a decline from which it’s never recovered. This could be purely co-incidence….but it’s an interesting one!

  5. Chris Lane

    Heroic bravery by Heath that was, normally forgotten on the mianland of the UK. One Person, One Vote introduced 7 years after the USA had it (LBJ etc

    Some would argue that to lose the feb election and the subsequent October one was not a bad thing for the Tories; I am not convinced that Ted would have done any better than Labour, and perhaps the 18 years of Tory rule would never have begun in 1979.

  6. Andrew Rawnsley and Mathew D’Ancona debating the two faces of David Cameron (closing stages of the Today programme).

    More right-wing since the riots? The centre/Conservative modernising project has stalled (that is what cost any chance of a majority). He is being carried along by the party’s centre of gravity (which has shifted right with the new intake). Cameron is a work in progress.

    This followed and interview (before 8.30) where Evan Davis questioned Cameron about his membership, and the violent antics, of the Bulligdon “gang”.

    Cameron descibed himself as as following “instincts and principles”, with “tough love” being the guiding principle atm.

  7. JOHN MURPHY and HENRY,

    Thank you, last day of schoo hols today, then facing the visi goths of a south coast girls grammar school!

    Yes, John, I remember the Powell deal with Wilson over the EEC in that election, and I agree, Henry that TED would have struggled in the face of the Barber Boom, OPEC oil price hike and trade union militancy.

    Never forget that the Parliament under Attlee ratified Unionist rule in the Govt of NI Act: not only with gerrymandering, but also housing-linked voting. So the ‘Protestant Parliament for a Protestant State’ was entrenched for the post 1945 generation.. another story with tragic consequences.

    Wilson, I think, backed down over the General Strike against the Faulkner-Hume-Heath Sunningdale Agreement for Power Sharing between Green and Orange sections of the ‘Six Counties’.
    A young Mr Trimble was involved I think with a younger Dr Paisley in the Strike, Vanguard also, by Mr Craig, who recenty died.

    Ed Moloney’s recent SECRET HISTORY is well worth looking at, as is David English’s ARMED STRUGGLE: both non-sectarianly written.

    I think it is generally agreed that the 1974-1979 Labour Governments under Wilson and Callaghan were quite poor on this issue. Roy Mason
    Amazingly, Mrs Thatcher’s Governments started the Peace Process, which is also not often recognised by ‘lefties’

  8. OldNat
    On LD spending. I don’t know much about LD finances (life is too short) and even less about the Scottish wing, but I can say with assurance that LD money raising would gladden the ‘localist big society’ heart of our PM (were it not for the cause supported).

    We even pay through the nose to go to our own social gatherings, such as barbecues and so on. In other words, all funds are essentially raised by the Members.

    I believe at national level (that’s ‘federal’ to you :-) ) there may be the odd large donation), but it’s an amateur show generally.

    That does make it, in one sense, a comfortable scene to be part of (no jibes about ‘beholden to interest groups’ and so on) but it means all effort is essentially the wearing out of shoe leather.

    I imagine it’s the same for the Greens. I was really impressed with the victory in Brighton, a super effort.

  9. chrislane1945
    ‘I think it is generally agreed that the 1974-1979 Labour Governments under Wilson and Callaghan were quite poor on this issue. Roy Mason’

    No it isn’t.

    ‘Mason’s time in Northern Ireland was characterised by a reduction in violence; “in 1976 there were 297 deaths in Northern Ireland; in the next three years the figures were 112, 81, 113 and it was an IRA man who acknowledged that ‘we were almost beaten by Mason”’

  10. To be fair to the Wilson-Callaghan were left by political circumstances and parliamentary arithmetic with less room for manoeuvre…and there was also a whole in NI policy in the conservative party after Neave’s assassination Truth be told the better parts of policy over the whole period of the latter troubles were when there was a strong UK government bolstered by a strong consensus.

    And rather like our exit from Empire the strong talk of not negotiating with terrorists was ultimately and successfully finessed by events and weariness and political will on both sides…

  11. I always find that whatever parties say at election time, there is always a reality check when they get into government.

    In the 2010 Conservative election campaign knife crime was a major issue for them and they said this.

    “Put the criminal justice system
    on the side of the public
    Today, almost four out of every five people
    found guilty of a knife crime escape jail. We
    have to send a serious, unambiguous message
    that carrying a knife is totally unacceptable,
    so we will make it clear that anyone convicted
    of a knife crime can expect to face a prison
    sentence. We will introduce mobile knife
    scanners on streets and public transport, and
    extend the length of custodial sentences that
    can be awarded in a Magistrates’ Court from
    six to twelve months.”

    In December 2010 due to budget constraint and possibly pressures of being a colition, Ken Clarke dropped the pledge. In todays Daily Mail, it is confirmed that sentencing for knife crime is the same as it was under the last Labour government.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2032840/80-knife-crime-thugs-dodge-prison-Tories-accused-breaking-vow-lock-up.html

    This is not a party political point, but if governments continue to drop clear pledges made in a manifesto and this is reported in the media, it must get to a stage when people start to consider whether they continue to support the party they voted into government. I realise this is a coaltion and there is the debt to deal with, but I would have thought dropping such an important policy, will hurt the government.

  12. @Socal: I think that Labour’s campaigning against Scottish independence hurt them in the May elections. And it hurt them because it was a distraction that failed to resonate. But I think it also failed because it was basically an f-u to Scots, telling you guys that you’re not capable of being an independent country. I think that just pushes people to favor independence more because the reaction is “oh I can’t now can I? We’ll just see about that.”

    Oldnat and co. would certainly have you believe that.

    Remember, there is as much support in England for English independence from the UK as there is in Scotland for their’s, both at 36-37%. And that’s despite zero campaigning in England but heavy campaigning in Scotland.

    But would you say that nationalism is widespread in England? I doubt it.

    Now, I have absolutely no interest in yet another tired, circular and wholly subjective debate on Scottish independence. This is just my response to your slightly misguided belief that there is strong anti-English resentment spread right across Scotland.

  13. I think you know that I have nevr thought highly of Cameron [yes, we’d noticed. Comments policy please – AW]

  14. follow the link for a detailed analysis of how the latest polls would translate into constituencies at the next general election.
    http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/09/a-quick-look-at-the-polls/

  15. @Uniondivvie

    “Mason’s time in Northern Ireland was characterised by a reduction in violence; “in 1976 there were 297 deaths in Northern Ireland; in the next three years the figures were 112, 81, 113 and it was an IRA man who acknowledged that ‘we were almost beaten by Mason”’

    You’re quite right to make this point about Roy Mason and defend his record in Northern Ireland , although I should say that I may be a little partial because I’m talking about one of my all time favourite politicians here.

    Here’s what the Daily Telegraph, not normally associated with “lefties”, had to say about him on his 80th birthday in 2004:

    “Roy Mason is one of the unsung heroes of the Labour Party – and he was the best Secretary of State for Northern Ireland we ever had. His name is remembered still with affection in Ulster, and he is a living reproach, a demonstration that capitulation to the Irish brand of fascism called “republicanism” was not inevitable.

    He belongs to a type that has almost disappeared, from the days when the Labour Party hadn’t been taken over by sociology lecturers and focus groups and was still what its name said, the political voice of the working class. Mason was born in 1924 in a Yorkshire mining village, and grew up there at a time life was harder than anyone can now imagine. His mother died at 46; he was a boy when a disaster in the local pit killed 58 men.

    He went to work down the mine himself when he was 14. But his ability was obvious, and he became a branch official of the NUM in his mid-twenties, before winning Barnsley at a by-election in 1953 and representing the seat for another 40 years. After junior ministerial office, he became Defence Secretary in 1974.”

    Alright, there’s a few predictable “Telegraphisms” in there, but they’ve got the essence of the man, and his contribution to British politics, more or less right.

    The almost entire absence of people like Roy Mason from modern political life leaves an aching void at the heart of our public life, in my view. I mourn their disappearance and I think we’re a diminished democracy as a result.

  16. @chrislane1945

    “Double digit leads are needed by Labour, at this stage, if they are to form a Government after the next GE.”

    Oh no- THAT old chestnut again. That myth has been dispelled in several exchanges on here over the last 18 months. :D

    Details below if anyone is bothered but the headline fact is that the average governing party clawback/ turnaround over the last 32 years is **3%** in the final 12 months.

    Note only Thatcher in 1987 an brown in 2010 have “double digit turnarounds” during the last 32 years (8 general elections). Furthermore for the Tories to retain largest party status they need to be at least 4% ahead of Labour. Also note that these “government clawback” figures take place in GE contexts where the sitting PM had the power to call a GE whenever they wanted i.e. at a time when they could maximise their gains/ minimise their losses. That does not apply any more as Cameron gave this up (much to the annoyance of posters on the Telegraph and Spectator blogs at the time).

    So its perfectly possible that a 3% government clawback over the final 12 months is an overestimate compared to the 2013-2015 potential.

    PS Also note that Labour did not win a working majority in 1964 – it was a unworkably small majority of **4** with 44% of the vote.
    Which is why Wilson then went for a quick re-election only 17 months later: and was rewarded with a majority of 98 with 48% of the vote

    ***
    (using Ipsos Mori and UKPR archives)

    Incumbent lead 12 months out compared to subsequent GE (- denotes opposition lead)

    1979 lead average of polls 12 months out +1%; lead GE -7% = -8 clawback by government

    1983 lead average of polls 12 months out +20%; lead GE +16% = -4% clawback by government

    1987 lead average of polls 12 months out -4%; lead GE +11% = +15 clawback by government

    1992 lead average of polls 12 months out +3%; lead GE +8% = +5 clawback by government

    1997 lead average of polls 12 months out -19%; lead GE -13% = +6 clawback by government

    2001 lead average of polls 12 months out +11%; lead GE +9% = -2 clawback by government

    2005 lead average of polls 12 months out +4%; lead GE +3% = -1 clawback by government

    2010 lead average of polls 12 months out -18%; lead GE -7% = +11 clawback by government

    Average “government clawback” over 12 months that precede the General Election = ***+3%*** (rounded up)

  17. Henry
    “I do not think the Tories are expecting to pick up votes at this stage; they will probably be happy to hold onto to say 34% or a bit less of core support (very high for core support). Basically this core is saying we agree in cutting hard and early and anticipate a benefit, but it is the principle we support.”

    I think there is a perfectly acceptable alternative interpretation to this.

    We all know if we are honest that the electorate did not vote for the programme being implemented: those who voted Lib Dem especially but also it is not beyond the realms of possibility that some who voted Tory were doing so on the basis of their inoffensive manifesto that failed to mention so many of the controversial things they have gone on to propose/ implement. There was also a large anti-Brown personal vote.

    My view is that it is not the Tories who are being forced to wait by the electorate in terms of judgement and a hardening of support: it is Labour.

    EdM simply has not sealed the deal. If he had Labour would be consistently in the mid 40’s

    Basically a significant minority proportion of the current blue VI munbers (that has not already departed blue/ ditto yellow) is saying we did not agree to vote for the current governments programme (how could they it was not advertised as such in large part): but that they are there now and you Labour lot are going to have to give us reasons to make the change.

    If EdM can seal the deal before the the end of 2013 (at the latest)- or if he can’t and resigns- then that is where Labour will be at the next election no matter how much of the budget deficit has been pared back with the electorates personal and household ‘blood and treasure’!

    The next GE is Labours to lose IMHO.

  18. Thanks rob – for dispelling another myth. I think you are right on Cameron being hamstrung by the loss of control of timing of the election. He is also hamstrung by his coalition partners. He is also hamstrung by the ever increasing time since Labour government – reducing inecitablt those who blame Labour for mess and not coalition. He will claim” International situation ” but this could backfire as Labour can argue that the previous problems were also down to “International Situation” and they could further argue that Brown led international solutions in recession whilst Tories appear not to believe that there are any international solutions to which they can sign up.

    We have a significant number of catstrophic international governments at moment. Sarkozy and Merkel are obsessed with their domestic positions and reluctant even to fend off disaster in the Eurozone at cost of internal unpoularity – Obama has been emasculated by a lunatic majority in the House.

    Of course the electorate on the whole will probably conclude over the next two to three that Tory solutions have failed and things seem to be getting worse.

    I still believe that the Tories’ only hope of being largest party ( I think a majority will be beyond them in all circumstances) is for trend growth to return by the end of 2012- start of 2013. Any later sustained recovery will not appear like one in time for the election,

    I suspect this sluggishness to worsen short term to complete flatline before a modest ( under trend) period of growth for the foreseeable future.

  19. More serious worries on the economy I’m afraid. The CIPs/Markit construction sector survey show growth slowing in August, but at least it’s still positive. However, the ONS has said that new business orders in the sector collapsed in Q2 and are now at their lowest rate since 1980! For anyone on here who wasn’t around in 1980, trust me – it was really bad.

    The ONS figures in particular are really ominous. New orders in the construction sector take a good while to filter through into actual output, and this collapse suggests that the next six months could be pretty torrid for anyone in the building trade.

  20. I think the electorate just don’t particualarly like any party much at the moment. Its all wait and see. The Conservatives will not be harmed much by passing issues. Their only job is to get to the position where they can say: the economy is on track, don’t let Labour ruin it again’. Labour’s job is much more difficult.

  21. @Claire

    It’s not quite as simple as that. For a start the Conservatives have to keep the coalition together, since it is not at all likely they could survive as a minority government.

    Second they need to avoid all scandal that could overwhelm even good economic performance. And the Coulson affair isn’t over yet.

    And finally, they need to have ‘economic growth’ that is actually felt. If they go to the polls with a years strong growth in GDP that hasn’t increased employment, real terms average wage is still going down, and standard of living is in a dire place due to local level cuts, and they built up rather than reduced the deficit in the end because of drops in tax income… I don’t need to spell out the consequences.

  22. ICEMAN
    “Thanks rob (Sheffield) – for dispelling another myth. I think you are right on Cameron being hamstrung by the loss of control of timing of the election.

    Cameron is no more hamstrung by this decision than Brown was by making the BofE independent. Both are admirable decisions designed to reduce political shenanigans. Credit to them both.

    Latest poll is nothing for blues to despondent about, any more than the last couple were to get excited about. How many on this board would have bet 14 months ago, that not only would the coalition still be alive & healthy now but that DC would still be holding on to his GE vote share?

    The amount of scientific evidence here, proving beyond all doubt that the Tories will never again attain an overall majority, is amusing, although sadly, some I fear actually believe it. Rearrange these words into a well known saying; theyare, chickens, count, hatched, eggs, your, before, don’t. The only certainty in this life is uncertainty!

  23. Rob – I’ve never been a fan of the “parties have to be X points ahead mid term to win the election” sort of argument. Parties need to be X points ahead on election day, it doesn’t matter how far ahead or behind they are the rest of the time. Certainly there’s no magical effect that increases at party’s support just because an election approaches.

    However, looking at your figures, you’ve got 8 instances. In 5 of them, the government was ahead to start with. In the three instances where the government was behind, they “clawed back” 15 points, 6 points and 11 points.

    Now, I don’t agree with the thing you’re arguing against anyway (hell, I did a long post on it here*), but I don’t think your figures are a very good argument against it.

    (*At the time someone said the little stars on the graphs were probably overkill. In hindsight, they were right!)

  24. Clare “I think the electorate just don’t particualarly like any party much at the moment. Its all wait and see. The Conservatives will not be harmed much by passing issues. Their only job is to get to the position where they can say: the economy is on track, don’t let Labour ruin it again’. Labour’s job is much more difficult.”

    I agree with your analysis, mainly because the job from opposition is always more difficult. It’s difficult to dictate the news agenda & you don’t get the media exposure.

    We are still very much in a phoney period where the cuts haven’t really started to hit & where Labour is still an unknown quantity. People know what they were under Brown but they don’t know what they are under Ed. So far there is no vision & the only policy is to be against most things the coalition does, which is no policy at all.

    Now this may change over the conference season but if it doesn’t, I can imagine that there are going to be some major rumblings in the party about the leadership of EM. Remember that a majority in the party didn’t vote for him, he was the union’s man. (so they thought).

  25. Crossbat11

    The Telegraph, bless it, never changes. Though it occurs to me that now even sociology lectures are as underrepresented as ex-miners in Labour. As is every group except those who went to Oxbridge to do PPE. Anyway, today the Telegraph has what must be its most typical headline ever:

    Dog walkers face growing continental cow menace

    The Alan Duncan story (a very good bit of reporting) has disappeared into the sub-heads and they’re leading on a silly speech by Cameron blaming the BBC for comparing the looting rioter to the looting bankers and MPs. Chance would be a fine thing if they had. All this will do of course is remind everyone of the comparison in the first place. Cue Bullingdon Club anecdotes.

    Speaking of riots and the Telegraph, what has happened to Peter Oborne? After he wrote that enormously popular piece on the similar acquisitiveness of rioter and establishment, a strange mea culpa “everything is really the fault of New Labour” piece appeared. That has now vanished from the Telegraph archive and they’ve published nothing else by him.

  26. @ Robert

    I certainly don’t subscribe to the ” Tories never winning a majority” again thinking. I just don’t see how they will win one in 2015!

    It is perfectly possible ( perhaps even likely) that a tory majority emerges ( possibly a significant one) after a single term of a Labour government. We have a shot economy – largely structurally created by the short -termism of International markets – and we are not alone in this. All incumbents in Western Europe and North America will have their work cut out to hold on to power over a long period in these circumstances.

    I think politically Cameron has done reasonably well in the last year – He has grown in stature though he has lost a little in trustworthiness It’s just that economically things are not going to get better and as public services decline markedly in quantity and quality the public mood will darken.

    if the Tories get a majority in 2015 it will be one of the most impressive majorities ever achieved by an incumbent government. I just don’t see it.

  27. It’s a bit harsh to mourn the loss of ex-miner Labour MPs: rather, mourn the loss of the mines themselves and their workers.

    Nigh on impossible for someone to work their way up from the pit-face to the Halls of Westminster when most of the mines were closed down 30 years ago.

    Would the equivalent now be an ex-call centre worker swearing allegiance to the Queen?

  28. AW

    “However, looking at your figures, you’ve got 8 instances. In 5 of them, the government was ahead to start with. In the three instances where the government was behind, they “clawed back” 15 points, 6 points and 11 points.”

    And…..?

    The point is that the average increase in the governing party’s vote (12 months out poll versus actual GE figure) is THREE per cent.

    Meaning any assertion that the opposition needs to be leading by double digits (at any time) otherwise they will lose is questionable to say the least.

    Furthermore: two of the examples you delightedly deploy were 1997 and 2010: when the PM and government never had a chance of winning !!

    These two PM’s were so far behind 12 months out that it was only to be expected that the ‘clawback’ (not my term BTW) was larger than the average !!

  29. Rob Sheffield

    The next GE is Labours to lose IMHO.

    A number of LDs have made it clear that they agree with you on the LDs not implementing their full programme. Perhaps this is a bit harsh on the LDs given the relatively small vote received and even smaller number of MPs. Its harsh but true.

    I think there is less feedback from the Tories and certainly I, as a LD, was expecting significant cuts from all parties but particularly the Tories. This puts me firmly in the Clegg camp rather than the anti-coalition camp.

    I believe Labour will find it tough to be the largest party if things go reasonable well with the economy, and almost impossible if there is good recovery, perhaps helped by growth in other parts of the world.

    However, from Labour’s point of view it should not matter, if they are right about the economy crashing totally. Definitely if they are right the Tories are beaten in 2015.

  30. ‘The next GE is Labours to lose IMHO.’

    I disagree; it depends on the economy. If the private sector has employed enough sacked people then Labour will lose. If the current situation is maintained, or worse. Labour wins.

  31. @ Henry

    I think good economic recovery is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a return of the Tories or even another Tory/Libdem coalition (more likely IMO)

    Even if we get two and a half years of trend growth (a massive probably impossible if) we will still be faced with many electors having a lower quality of life and less money than in 2010, and public services in a significant decline and worse than what we have become accustomed to.

    So no “shoo in” even if their economic solution works (I don’t think it can as it happens – the problems are not of debt per se but debt caused by lack of growth and recession – so without a growth strategy cutting the deficit will not succeed either in cutting the deficit or in engendering growth) the electorate will be feeling bruised and battered.

  32. ROB SHEFFIELD.

    Thanks for your response. So the Clawback by the Government Party is very often more than the 1% to 6% range that we have at the moment.

    And that is before we take the boundary changes and party funding changes into account.

    Maybe its just instinct, but in my bones I just do not see Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister in three and a half years time.

    Ed is no Gladstone, who is the last Opposition leader to win a full term non-tory majority after the Tories have been in power for one term. (1880)

    Maudling: England is a Tory Land which sometimes votes Labour.

    I might be wrong, but southern England, (of the line from Bristol to The Wash) just does not feel like a Miliband land. His middle class supper party response to the riots went down badly I think

  33. chrislane1945

    “So the Clawback by the Government Party is very often more than the 1% to 6% range that we have at the moment.”

    In four general elections of the eight in the last 32 years the government LOST support over the last 12 months.

    “I might be wrong, but southern England, (of the line from Bristol to The Wash) just does not feel like a Miliband land.”

    Bristol is my home city and my folks still live there. I’d be very surprised if Labour does not sweep the city seats and take one or two of the wider conurbation as well.

    “I just do not see Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister in three and a half years time.”

    I’m on record as agreeing strongly with this opinion.

  34. “I just do not see Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister in three and a half years time.”

    I agree too. Like it or not the perceived character and appearance of the party leader affects the way many people vote in the televisual age, perhaps even more so now that we have televised debates.

    Thus Blair was perceived to be more energetic and enthusiastic than dull old Major, bald Yorkshireman Hague and the undead Michael Howard. Similarly Cameron’s relative youth, and upper-class charm was perceived to be better than Brown’s grim, dour image.

    Cameron certainly has his weaknesses, and some see him as shallow and an out-of-touch toff, but I believe that the majority would prefer this to a geeky socially-awkward Miliband.

  35. @Rob Sheffield, @AW

    The issue of how far Labour would need to be ahead 12 months out from a GE is very different from that of how far ahead it needs to be now. In other words 2 3/4 years from now, barring a coalition collapse.

    The polling scenario now is very different. With most news, the Government can dismiss problems with the claim that its the legacy of the previous lot and they are doing X,Y and Z to turn things around. Witness the Government responses in recent days to news items about the shortages of affordable housing and about the rise in net migration. The responses by the relevent minister need only to be half plausible to gain a suspension of judgement that keeps their supporters on board and avoids critical responses from broadcasters. By contrast, 4 years in any bad news will be presented as a judgement on the failure of X, Y and Z to work.

    That’s typical of most cycles in government, but no less relevant for it. However, I think the historical precendent that Rob S cites is less relevant than previously, for three particular reasons, all of which act against the coalition parties:

    1. By historic standards, the degree to which the Government is sustaining its ratings by blaming the previous lot’s economic management is quite unusual. That boost seems to me to be very vulnerable to the sands of time. The Government has much more to lose in the absence of a very marked (as opposed to anaemic) economic recovery in the 2013 to 2015 period.

    2. I suggest that the LDs will be in a weaker position to try and regain support from their lost left-leaning supporters if and when they have sustained a Conservative Government for 4-5 years as opposed to 15 months. They’ll appear much more as a party aligned to the right then than now, however much disengagement might be attempted in 2014 or 2015.

    3. In the context of all of the emphasis on deficit reduction, and the strong likelihood that Osborne will have fallen well short of his original plans, it is hard to see how any electoral giveaways in 2015 could be portrayed as anything other than an irresponsible electoral gimmick.

  36. Roger
    “Dog walkers face growing continental cow menace”

    My God, what are these anti dog walker continental cows like? I’m on the continent at present & I haven’t spotted any trying to eat dog walkers or such like. Or is it that they just block the path & won’t Moo’ve over? lol

  37. I think if you consider the electorate as one whole fickle-ish animal, changing its mind slowly and inclined to swings of mood, then if you look at the general election result in 2010, what that collective animal was saying was,

    very reluctantly, cos of the crash, we feel we ought to oust Labour. But it won’t take much to vote them back. We were happy with Labour. We like public services and we like the welfare system and we like Labour. But we don’t much like crashes and now we sort of ought to vote Tory. But they better be good cos we really want labour back.

    And that’s what the big electorate creature still feels. They are waiting for Labour to give it something better to vote for than the Tories.

  38. @ Pete B

    “Cameron certainly has his weaknesses, and some see him as shallow and an out-of-touch toff, but I believe that the majority would prefer this to a geeky socially-awkward Miliband.”

    So you base your opinion on leaders mainly on perception. I don’t vote based on the party leader who would make the best PM. I vote based on the local candidate and the basic thrust of the partys agenda for the country as detailed in their manifesto. It does not really bother me who the leader is, unless they have shown they are unfit to take high office.

    Forget Cameron background and some of the perceived weaknesses. Also forget the fact that some people voted Tory because they were sick of Brown/Labour. This is not going to matter that much at the next election. People will decide to who to vote for based on how well they have performed and who they think will be help them and their families.

    I am not a fan of Cameron and have mixed feelings about Miliband. I doubt that a majority of people will favour Cameron over Miliband at the next election. Remember that Clegg was very popular for about three weeks before the election and now look at his ratings. If the economy is in a bad state at the next election, there have been a number of broken promises and there are the usual issues that dog governments, then I cannot see Cameron being popular. If he could not win with a majority in 2010, he will not do so in 2015, unless Labour make a complete pigs ear of it, by having policies that just don’t add up.

  39. Well Heath was thought unable to win an election and he did. Major despite being dull won an election. The qualities that allow anyone to win an election will to some extent be defined by the circumstances that obtain when it takes place.

    I heartily agree that for example Milliband seems to have a bigger hill to climb because of his poor-ish ratings….but before Clegg-mania carried Nick to the verge….he was pretty much regarded as the last of the also rans…..

    The political parties have yet to come to terms with the power of the social media and the change to politics that has engendered. In the USA Obama and the Tea Party were both spawned by its unlikely and unpredictable power….

    And maybe the outcome of that election in 2012 may have considerable impact upon what happens next in the UK. After all a Tea Party Republican could really shake-up the world economy if they cut as they say they wish…..

    As for the rest using polling averages in previous first years seems no more likely than sheep’s entrails to provide any certain prediction of future electoral fortune….but like the ancients Temple rites I enjoy the fun….as much as the next person on line….

  40. @ Iceman (3.05)

    “I think good economic recovery is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a return of the Tories or even another Tory/Libdem coalition (more likely IMO)”

    IMO it is unlikely there will be another Con/LD coalition.
    The present coalition was agreed to (much against the better judgement of many LDs) because of the need to form a stable government in light of the financial predators circling around the UK. Unless we are in a similar financial situation in 2015 then, imo, there will be a LD conference decision before the election or immediately afterwards rejecting the possibility of full coalition. Of course, if we are in such a financial position in 2015 then it will be a Lab walkover.

  41. If the clawback figures give one cause for hope with the Tories, I’d give them the following:

    Prior to the 2010 General Election, Labour were making one cock-up after another, and Cameron et al were happy to sit back let the public and press give Labour a kicking. There was no need to state what they would do as the governing party instead. Once the election actually loomed, however, they had to make some attempt to answer this question. Once that came to light, some people who’d abandoned Labour got nervous about the Tory manifesto and went back.

    If Ed Miliband isn’t careful, Labour could make the same mistake this time round. We’ve already seen that Labour has been quick to leap on unpopular cuts they oppose, but quiet on which cuts they support (which they cannot avoid if they intend to stick to their own policy on deficit reduction). The temptation must be out there to go into the next election with no policies until the last moment. If they do that, they could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    (Of course, in order for the Tories to fully use this as an argument for why they’ll win the next election, they’ll have to admit to their lack of policies whilst in opposition, which I can’t see them doing in a hurry.)

  42. Nick
    I don’t see how you can think of the electorate as one ‘animal’. There was no great get together with a consensus being decided that we should vote for a coalition & no overall winner. It just happened. Admittedly, people talk to people & grumble in the pub about this and that, but the fact remains that the great majority vote for whoever they do, come hell or high water. The floating voter is very much a minority.

    As has been said here before, Labour had had 3 terms, after 3 terms a government is stale, usually run out of ideas & arguing with themselves. It’s therefore time for a change. However DC didn’t quite persuade enough floating voters that he was ‘the man’ and whilst he did very well in terms of seats grabbed back (was it not the best Tory result since the 30’s?) he didn’t quite get an overall majority.

    So 2015 can go either way. If he proves to be ‘the man’ he will keep the voters he got in 2010 & may win over enough new votes to give him a majority. If he messes up & proves not to be ‘the man’, then he will not gain those new votes & may lose the new ones he gained in 2010. In which case Labour get the majority.

    So far, it seems he is keeping the ones he gained in 2010 but thus far there is no evidence he is gaining any more. The reality is, it is probably too early in the parliament to judge whether he is ‘the man’. Whilst he has made some good calls to date, he has also made some doubtful ones and some of his ministers are a bit suspect. But the big issue is the economy & it will be 2 years before that is clear.

    Therefore, if I were a betting man I would say we are in for 2 more years of polls bobbing around as they have done for the last 12 months.

  43. @ROBERT
    Funny thing you are a Tory, yours is the first interesting comment I have read all day. You do not predict a Tory win, because that is what you would like to happen, you make an intelligent none partisan statement.

    I can only believe certain anti government posters live and work in Labour strongholds and probably as teachers or civil servants/ local government at that. The adamant statements about the death of Toryism and the never ending rise of socialism does not fit in with what I see and hear. Lets face it, it does not fit with a poll of polls either.

  44. Last night’s poll, with a 6% Labour lead, had 26% more 2010 Conservatives than Labour voters in the sample (818 v 651). That’s quite unusual in being more than the difference in the actual GE result (24.6% more Cons than Labour voters). Usually it’s the other way around in YouGov polls.

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-results-220811.pdf

    Compare with the 22nd August poll which showed a 9% Labour lead – but with only 12% more 2010 Cons in the sample than 2010 Labour voters, so the sample seemed a bit questionable IMO and less favourable to the Cons than the current one.

    So allowing for the difference in samples, there doesn’t seem to have been much movement in voting intention at all. Maybe that 1% Labour lead was just a bank holiday blip after all (as someone else suggested earlier).

  45. Iron Law of History, almost.

    Tory Governments have more than one full term in Office at a time.
    except for
    1970-74 (for very special reasons)

    1874-1880. (midlothian campaign and WEG)

    I know there is 1929-31, but then the successor government lasted 18 months

    I THINK that even Michael Foot in 1980 was doing better than Ed is now.

    As to Bristol. There is no one of the stature of Cripps I am afraid. ‘There but the grace of God, goes God’ said Churchill of Cripps.

  46. @Nick Poole
    Thanks for the link to the Lewis Baston article. Here’s another little nugget from it that was quite a surprise:

    “… the journalistic standby of the ‘depopulated inner city’ is largely a myth. Constituencies like Manchester Central, Leeds Central and West Ham are actually hugely oversized, thanks to new inner city flats and population growth since the last boundary review started in 2000. The difference in registered electorate between the average Labour and the average Conservative constituency in 2010 was the smallest it has been since 1959.”

  47. @ChrisLane1945

    Cheer up! Within your lifetime, two cases fit your “iron law” (1951- and 1979-) and one does not (1970-). Seems a bit inconclusive. Or maybe just a molten iron law.

  48. I agree with comments about Roy Mason and his career. He was a very decent man, and yes, unlike the present leadership, and done a real job and dealt tith real poverty. He would have had no truck with any sort of ‘liberal’ noises about the recent riots

    On Northern Ireland, the mistake was, I think, to believe that his strategy was going to be sustainable for ever.

    Previous British politicans tried the same strategy, with short term success
    1798- Tone
    1803-Emmet
    1848-Mitchell
    1867-O Brien
    1882-Parnell
    1916. Connolly
    1920. Croke Park

    ‘The morally and socially inferior majority’ (AJ Balfour’s words) were not permanently crushable, without an accommodation.

    As with the Taliban now

  49. I just don’t think a tanking economy will necessarily be good for Labour. It will if they can persuade people that Osborne had something to do with it, but it’s just as likely that people accept the global situation is the key factor as they did throughout the 1980s. The critical factor will be whether Labour has a plausible alternative.

    Nothing happens in isolation and elections are won and lost not by what events happen and when, but more by how parties react to those events.

  50. Chrislane1945,

    I think one could just say that single-term governments are rare, Tory or not. Labour haven’t lost a follow-up election after getting power since 1931, which was itself a very special case and in one sense “Labour” won.

    Also, Churchill’s comment was more than a little satirical. However, Cripps WAS pretty godly, at least in terms of fulfilling his mandate as chancellor.

    Michael Foot wasn’t leader until the very end of 1980. Before that, it was Jim Callaghan, who was personally more popular than Thatcher even in 1979. It’s true that Foot was doing better than Ed in 1981, but he had the advantage of being leader of the opposition during a deep recession that was clearly primarily the result of government policies.

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