Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. It’s the first time a poll has shown Labour back in the lead since the Conservatives moved ahead in the polls after the veto. Usual caveats apply – it could be that the brief Conservative boost in the polls has now started to recede… or it could be an outlier. Certainly today’s ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph (see post below) showing a six point Tory lead doesn’t suggest that the veto bounce is subsiding. We’ll have a better idea next week when we see both the YouGov daily polls for the Sun, plus the monthly Populus poll for the Times (and possibly the ICM/Guardian poll, assuming they aren’t going to do it over Christmas weekend!).

While I am here, I expect less frequent visitors will be asking why there is such a difference between ICM and YouGov’s figures, or more specifically, why there is such a difference between their Labour figures, as their figures for Conservatives support are almost identical. While some of this is probably normal random variation, and either an outlier against Labour from ICM or an outlier in favour of Labour from YouGov (or both!), part of this is also due to methodological differences. The most important of these are that ICM weights people by their likelihood to vote while YouGov does not, and YouGov ignores people who say they don’t know how they will vote while ICM reallocates a proportion of them based on how their voted at the 2010 election. There may also be less quantifiable differences in their weighting and sampling, but the upshot is that ICM tend to show some of the worst scores for Labour of all the polling companies, while YouGov tend to show some of their better scores (and the opposite with the Lib Dems – ICM invariably give the Lib Dems their best scores, YouGov tend to give them their worst).

I’ll do a full report on rest of the questions in the YouGov/Sunday Times poll tomorrow.

127 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 39, LAB 42, LD 9”

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  1. eh eh eh

  2. Brumhilda, where art thou?


  3. Shortest poll boost ever…In line with Feltham election results…Shows that neither Ed not Dave have the star quality…Voters don`t trust both of them

  4. I just posted “Dead cat bounce” :twisted: on the ICM thread & then got a lovely Christmas present from YG… Labour back in the lead. It’s nice to have that snug smug feeling for a few minutes each day.

  5. ICM is the Gold Standard. Conservative Majority nailed on! But I suspect that YouGov may be closer to the ‘truth’ as I have I believe the ‘veto’ effect has worn off. Apparently voters memories are short apart from when it concerns the nasty Tories! :)

  6. … and in a few days time back to Lab +5 as we all expected

    … (or because it’s so late in the year, probably early in the New Year).

    What we’ve learnt from this …. is that UKIP’s number’s are soft.

  7. @SMUKESH, what part of it could be an outliner so wait till next week for confirmation before coming to conclusions do you not understand?

    As ever Labour voters getting exciting over one poll.

    I really don’t know why Anthony bothers to point out the usual caveats and suggests that you wait to see if it’s an outliner or start of a trend because you lot just ignore him anyways.

    And that goes to you too Amberstar.

    You are right…I am sorry…Was on another site where right wingers were getting delirious with the ICM poll, and I got carried away…My apologies

  9. @Leetay

    Even if a poll is an ‘outlier’ it can still be used to create the all important bar chart!

  10. @ Leetay

    And that goes to you too Amberstar.

  11. Looks like the EU veto caused the bounce. The economic troubles won’t go away for some time. Blaming lab and the EU will wear thin over time – at least lab must hope so. Lesson must be that the tail end of the lab vote is very soft – will it come down to personalities of each front bench?

  12. It would seem that Cameron has solidified his voter base. Many of the DKs are back in the fold so to speak. Perhaps some of the Lib/Lab movers are unsure where about to settle until Clegg or Miliband decide where to settle.

    A narrowing of the polls, if it continues is only good for politics. 2012 will be the making and the breaking of a few politicians I imagine.

    I agree…Nick Clegg coming out against the Veto din`t help…otherwise it may have been a bigger poll lead,aka ICM…But some people have got a taste for the Anti-Europe agenda…they`ll be looking to see where this leads next…And it also depends on the noises coming from across the channel

  14. Almost everyone predicted this. The only question was would the bounce last two days, a week, a fortnight.

    What interests me is that the polls had narrowed a little even before the bounce, mainly because of higher Tory VI scores. Where exactly will be “bounce back” down to. All the way back to 35/43 territory, or just to 2-3 point Labour leads like tonight’s?

  15. Statgeek

    “2012 will be the making and the breaking of a few politicians I imagine.”

    Agreed. If Labour lose control of Glasgow under La-Mont’s leadership? ……

  16. Well well well…NO I am not going to say anything.

    This is all too confusing; or m.o.e. or dead cat thingie

    I’m going to wait until after the new year and see what the polls are like then :D

  17. Here is a precis of a report on the UK financial services industry, which the ‘veto’ was intended to protect. The report was independently prepared for The Treasury & ‘leaked’ to the media:

    “The experts behind the advice to the Treasury are Dr Christopher Sier, a former consultant to investment managers, and David Norman, formerly chief executive of Credit Suisse Asset Management (UK).

    During the presentation, which was later shared with the Department for Work and Pensions, the point was illustrated by the example of a saver who made £70,000 in contributions between 1994 and 2009, only to see the £46,000 in profit from the rise in the value of the FTSE 100 being consumed in its entirety by the financial services industry.

    The presentation also revealed how savings and pension pots are being chipped away as they are moved around by traders. A simple stocks and shares Isa can be top-sliced up to 16 times as it is traded around…”
    Perhaps we are now seeing the real reason why ordinary folks need up to £250k in a private fund to equal a decent public sector pension.

  18. Amber

    Thanks for that. As you probably know, I’m one of the oldies who considers that my generation ripped off our successors, so some transfer back is quite acceptable.

    However, I meant that to go to those struggling to bring up their families – not some rapacious eejit in a bank!

  19. It makes you wonder how exactly the market has failed so badly in the financial sector.

    Surely, a fund manager who didn’t gouge people’s pension money quite so egregiously could produce a far better return, and should become something of a star?

    What exactly is going on?

  20. Neil

    Good question

  21. The last four non-YouGov pollsters have shown that either the Tories are level pegging with Labour or ahead and in ICM quite healthily in the lead. Similarly every one either matches YG best for LD or show a stronger position.

    Either YG has got it right, and there was just a minor Tory up blip follwoing EU meeting and Party response or YG is perhaps over rating Labour’s support and under rating LDs.

    There is no way of judging.

  22. @ Old Nat

    However, I meant that to go to those struggling to bring up their families – not some rapacious eejit in a bank!
    Exactly; is it any wonder that successive governments removed the tax breaks? They were not going into people’s pensions, they were being snuffled up by these greedy skimmers.

    I have often been ‘shouted down’ on this board for saying that private sector pensions are churned & used as gambling chips until all the value add has been stripped from them. It’s rather depressing to have it confirmed & ‘know’ that almost nothing will be done about it. :-(

  23. It makes you wonder how exactly the market has failed so badly in the financial sector.

    Surely, a fund manager who didn’t gouge people’s pension money quite so egregiously could produce a far better return, and should become something of a star?

    What exactly is going on?

    They are all in it together… :???:

  24. @OLDNAT

    Just reading about the new Labour leader (you mentioned in other thread) and deputy, and while I may take some criticism for this, I’m not highlighting a Scottish Labour-specific issue, so much as a political issue in general (Feltham & Heston for example).


    Leader – Iain Gray – Edinburgh, male, white.

    Deputy – Johann Lamont – Glasgow, female, white.

    – Labour votes decline.


    Leader – Johann Lamont – Glasgow, female, white.

    Deputy – Anas Sarwar – Glasgow, male, non-white.

    Are Labour looking to reclaim Glasgow by going for the all denominations tag team? What of the rest of Scotland? What will they think?

    Are we heading increasingly for politicians who are more and more representative of the the people they serve, rather than talented (I’m sure they are, but the talent seems to be a secondary consideration). Seems like a step backwards to the days of the 1930s. I don’t care if my MP or MSP is a transexual eskimo, as long as they get on with the job in hand.

    (N.B. – I make no apology for the last comment. I have nothing against transexual eskimos in general. I just refuse to rub noses. :)

  25. Nick Clegg is now setting his vision of an `Open society`…Sounds like a new muscular version of Liberalism will be visible in the government…Whether this will draw back voters from the left is the question?

  26. Smukesh please don’t become like all the other left wingers and start celebrating one poll lead! With Europe in the news day in day out, this only in my opinion helps the Tories and highlights Labours pro Europe ideology which i don’t think is good for there VI. However time will eventually tell and let the fun begin!

  27. Didn’t the narrowing of the Labour lead before the veto bounce coincide with the change in YouGov’s methodology which now tends to favour the Tories slightly?

  28. I was about to say Tories should jump about so much with the ICM lead, and then along comes this result. I’m interested in the dates of fieldwork – is YG as a daily tracker more recent?

    I would also pick up @Rob Sheffield’s point on the other thread suggesting that only relentless bad economic news gets a decent Labour lead. I thought Labour widened a little when Ed went all out of News International, but I could be mistaken?

    Bottom line is that it’s worth remembering that during the fuel protests, even Blair at his peak went behind the Tories for a few days – but at that time there wasn’t a chance the Tories could have won in a real election.

  29. ICM was collected on 14th and 15th Dec

  30. Statgeek

    Rubbing noses – If you haven’t tried it ………!

    I think there is something in what you say, although I reckon that both Anas Sarwar (Lab) and Humza Yousaf (SNP) are talented politicians and much better than many others in their parties.

    It does seem reasonable that the candidates put up by parties to lead their country should be representative of the people, in addition to being at least competent in managing the country’s affairs.

    Have you read the 2007 Scottish Election Study report “The Holyrood elections 2007: Explaining the results “? – available here

    I find their analysis based on “valence politics” very persuasive, and strongly confirmed by the 2011 election.

    In contrast, it seems to me, Labour have opted for a rather old-fashioned choice based on sectional interest groups.

  31. Strange how the situation is quite similar to this time last year, moving from basically neck and neck to a small labour lead. Then the lead grew to nearly double figures quite soon after the new year, this may also be the pattern this year – it seems like the economy will be in a worse state than at this point last year, and this time around, some more blame can be attached to the coalition.

  32. OLDNAT
    I am not very good on Scottish politics,but the new Labour leader doesn`t seem to be the right choice to set the voters` hearts alight,unless she is a brilliant orator…Sarwar seems too young to be leader and he needs a few more years as deputy leader before he could realistically take on the role

  33. “part of this is also due to methodological differences”

    It’s kind of a fancy way of saying that no pollster has yet worked out why people vote the way they do, so they all just have a guess at what they think will happen.

  34. @Amberstar – charges, pensions and value for money – I’ve saying these things for years on here.

    @Neil A – “Surely, a fund manager who didn’t gouge people’s pension money quite so egregiously could produce a far better return, and should become something of a star?

    What exactly is going on?”

    The explanation is simply, and can be grasped in four words – pension contributions tax relief.

    In 2008 we were paying around £37b a year in tax relief on personal contributions. If someone is going to gift you 20 or 40% extra in a savings account, it’s a no brainer, whatever the fees. Even knowing most pension schemes are awful value, we still use them as the tax relief means we’ve still got an huge incentive to buy [email protected] products. Effectively, the pensions industry is being subsidised by the Treasury.

    At a time when government claims to want to get spending working more efficiently, I would favour a simple move that would make pension schemes ineligible for tax relief unless total charges were below a strict criteria. Remove the subsidy, and watch better value pensions come to the market. I would also apply precisely the same principle to relief from Corporation Tax on company pension contributions.

    For all the anger expressed at ‘Brown’s Pension Raid’ the scandal of fees and charges utterly dwarfs the tax changes on pensions. It’s a scandal that has been getting progressively worse, but strangely enough, the editors of those same papers who scream abuse at Brown’s minor tax changes (supported by the Tories at the time) consistently omit to campaign against excessive fees.

  35. @Alec:

    Yes, EdM did get a hackgate boost, a combination of echoing the sentiment of the UK population and Cameron being seen as a crony/mates with Murdoch.

    However, he seems to have gotten little else right since. At least though, he hasn’t managed to get anything disastrously wrong, just bungled and dropped some good anti-Tory ammunition in the eyes of the Labour party.

    He’s not quite in his stride yet as leader, however, he has time to develop. I don’t think he’ll be replaced, despite the hopeful cries of redrum from some of the righties here, however, I think red-drum is more accurate as it echoes the polldrums perfectly…

    He needs to come out swinging in the new year or he won’t get the mid-term boost he needs to give him the momentum for his build up to 2015.

  36. We saw a crossover in the polling graphs during the last months of 2010, and before that for a few brief months following Brown becoming PM… and before that, following Cameron becoming Tory leader.

    Are we seeing a genuine crossover now or will it be a momentary spike?

    If it is a spike, then it holds good that both Labour and Tory VI is soft, with LD static. Labour vulnerable to short term effects (such as in a general election campaign).

    Tory support at least as soft… as yet they are unpopular for a number of reasons, but there has been no demonstrable snafu pinned upon them by the media as yet.

    For Labour to form the next government, the media would have to start paying attention to them as a credible alternative, and this will only happen if the Conservative are perceived to have been clearly incompetent in some way..

    The other possibility is that we are seeing a genuine crossover now, Cameron finally sealing the deal with the electorate, capturing the public mood on Europe. immigration, welfare, broken Britian et al. That was always his ambition, to ape Tony Blair’s pre-Iraq mastery, but from a modernised centre-right position. Now, however, he has to build that platform on traditional Tory-right territory… because that is where his party wants to be – not modernised, and not in with the LDs indefinitely.

  37. Smukesh

    Actually, Scottish politics aren’t that different from any other county’s politics! (We just have the additional factor of the constitution at the moment).

    Lamont (OK, I’ll give up mimicking Milliband’s placing her in the socially aspirational English middle class – well, maybe briefly!) is, as I understand it, a nice person like Iain Gray, with lots of good intentions – but locked into a mindset far distant from most of the Scottish people (assuming that multiple polling is accurate).

    She could well replace Annabel Goldie in the affections of many Scots, if she plays her cards as effectively as Goldie did. However, inspiring Scots does not seem a likely product of her leadership.

  38. Gracie – “Didn’t the narrowing of the Labour lead before the veto bounce coincide with the change in YouGov’s methodology which now tends to favour the Tories slightly?”

    Simple answer is no (or at least, not the sense that Neil means). The tweak to YouGov methodology was in mid-October, and on average the change resulted in Labour leads that were one point lower. Neil is suggesting that Labour leads were shrinking a bit in the couple of weeks before the veto.

  39. Alec – Ed Miliband’s own ratings shot up when Hackgate first really blew up in early July. There was a more modest boost in voting intention, though I think there was something there, it went from a Lab lead of about 6 points to one of about 8 points for a while.

  40. @Alec,

    I may be misunderstanding as I don’t really do all the City-type stocks and shares malarkey…

    But surely whether there is tax relief or not, you would get a better return on your contributions from a scheme where someone isn’t skimming 1% off your fund every five minutes?

    If I were to set up as a fund manager, buy £500m worth of something boring and safe (I dunno, US government bonds or something? I told you I have no clue) and then simply sit on them for 30 years, surely my clients would get a better return on their money than if I bought and sold shares morning, noon and night, charging them each time for the privilege?

    And if that’s the case, why are there not pension funds offering those better returns from a “we won’t steal your money” product. Run by the Coop or someone?

    And if there are do they actually produce better returns? The proof of the pudding is usually in the eating.

  41. I’d say the Yougov poll was an outliner for the following reasons:

    (1. The last non-Yougov polls show the Tories either level pegging or the lead.

    (2. YouGov are known for historically overestimating Labour support and getting it wrong – the pollster which has historically underestimated Labour, ICM and overestimated both coalition parties, by contrast is more accurate and the ”gold standard”.

    (3. ICM have dealt with big changes in support than any other pollster in the last 14 years or so. See the 1997 election, where ICM called it right and garnered their gold standard.

    Overall, I don’t expect many UKPRers to particuarly care for either of these points, mainly because the largely centre-left contributors to site will only really validate a poll when it shows good news for Labour.

    They’ll deny it of course – but it’s a notable, obvious point that makes Anthony’s caveats pointless, because Labour supporters do not render these points pertinent anyway.

    Amber’s response in particular to this poll is quite something – it’ll be Conservatives who got the polling Xmas presents this year, with the gold standard confirming the Tory lead. ICM already re-afirmed their status this year, getting the AV referendum right. Cheers.

  42. Neil A

    Happy to join you (and most others) in admitting a lack of understanding of the financial markets. I just wish the politicians of all parties were so honest!

    However the answer to your question – ‘Why are there not pension funds offering those better returns from a “we won’t steal your money” product’ does seem somewhat obvious.

    The fund managers wouldn’t then have been able to cream off billions into their own pockets.

  43. Boo Hoo

    Always nice to see a non-partisan post which deals with polling and political issues from an evidential position.

    Unfortunately, yours wasn’t one.

  44. @Oldnat,

    I understand why they’d want to do it, I just don’t understand why there wouldn’t be any competitive pressure. I’m not so Thatcherite that I believe that markets solve everything, but if the true answer is that the City types have formed a cartel and prevented anyone from offering “No Nonsense Private Pension Provision” then that’s a crime if I understand it correctly.

    After all, it is in the interests of the supermarkets to charge us £200 for a bag of bananas. They don’t, because I can get them for £1.80 down at the greengrocers.

  45. Of course I have a goldplated police pension waiting for me, hence I’ve never had to trouble myself with all this stuff….

  46. @Henry

    “There is no way of judging.”

    I think you’re right, although my hunch, supported in part by the performances of the parties in the recent by-election, is that YouGov, with their particular methodology and almost daily occurrence, is picking up the shifts in opinion as accurately as anyone.

    Risking the accusation from some on here that “I wouldn’t say that, wouldn’t I”, there is no way in this big wide world that the Tories have opened up a 6% lead. In that respect, the ICM poll must be an outlier, although it is true to say that the non YouGov pollsters are starting to converge on it being more neck and neck between the two major parties rather than a Labour lead. MOE probably explains the slight divergence between them. It is also true, as you say, that they tend to have the LibDems in the lower to mid teens rather than single figures. In this respect they may be more accurate than YouGov, but that’s only a gut feel on my behalf.

    My guess is that the Tories have definitely received a boost from Cameron’s veto, probably short-lived though, but the notion that they’ve opened up a 6% lead is fanciful. If they are leading by that amount then Feltham must go down as the most perverse by-election result in the history of British politics! Tonight’s YouGov rather proves the point. However, I wouldn’t argue with neck and neck at the moment.

  47. I would guess the ‘real’ state of play is either exactly neck neck or tories 2% ahead.

  48. @ Boo Boo

    Amber’s response in particular to this poll is quite something – it’ll be Conservatives who got the polling Xmas presents this year, with the gold standard confirming the Tory lead. ICM already re-afirmed their status this year, getting the AV referendum right.
    Hello & welcome, new person.

    1997 is a long time ago. Many things have changed the Uk political landscape since then; Notably the LibDem Coalition.

    I have no quarrel with your preference for ICM; each to his own…

    But YG are very good. They are the most transparent in method & the fastest at putting up clear tables of information for every poll. That’s why I like YG… & also because today they show Labour in the lead, which makes me happy! :-)

  49. I agree with almost everything you say, apart from the level of “perverseness” of the byelection result.

    Have you forgotten some of the extraordinary swings, usually LibDem victories, that we used to see in the Tory years?

    I don’t know what the national VI polls in 1990 were showing, but I bet it wasn’t anything like the 20% Tory to LibDem swing that we saw at the Eastbourne by election. Remember all of those “just for fun” calculations Peter Snow used to do?

    “If this result was extrapolated nationwide, the Liberal Democrats would have 400 seats in parliament” etc, etc.

    I think people are definitely reading too much into the minutiae of Feltham and Heston. By Elections are strange, unique little animals. Their entrails are of limited value in divining the truth – whatever people say about “real votes”.

  50. @Neil A – “And if there are do they actually produce better returns? The proof of the pudding is usually in the eating.”

    The trouble with this really is timescale. No one can know when they take a pension out what the eventual return or value will be. Historic comparisons are also largely ineffective, as units ‘can go down as well as up’, and genuine market movements very often mask the impact of fees. It’s compounded by the statutory obligation to illustrate schemes with fix rate assumptions about increases in value, which are set by the regulator.

    Unlike mortgages, where it’s easy to see what you are paying upfront, and therefore more able to make an informed judgement, the timescale and way charges are levied makes this option almost impossible for pensions. You normally only see the charges levied by your pension company – which are often quite reasonable – but you never see the myriad charges made on trades of the stocks that comprise the units.

    Regulation of some form is the only way, and the first real step would be to tabulate all the charges as a single deduction on the annual pension statement.

    There is a company now trading that is dropping fees and seeking to market itself in this way, and in due course I expect this to become more important, but without clear information it will still enable poor providers to con people. Information is the life blood of free market economics, but for various reasons, private pension provision has managed to operate in a completely obscure manner, meaning the market can’t effectively operate.

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