Populus’ monthly poll for the Times is out this morning after all (but given two and a half inches on page 14). Topline figures with changes from last month are CON 35%(+2), LAB 39%(-2), LDEM 12%(-1), Others 15%. Populus show a move towards the Tories, but no Tory lead – instead we have the sort of four point Labour lead that was the norm prior to the veto.

Populus’s last two polls had eight point Labour leads, which looked rather incongruous at the time, so the Tory increase here may be something of a reversion to the mean..

17 Responses to “Populus/Times – CON 35%, LAB 39%, LD 12%”

  1. Back to normality.

  2. This polling experience of the last 2 weeks *has* to be taken seriously by the Labour leadership.

    Just like after the riots Labours lead has proved incredibly soft and for a variety of reasons: in particular IMO the ease with which the UKIP protest vote returns to the Tory fold and the knack EdM has for getting – most of the time- on the wrong side of voters preferences on specific issues.

    As electoral politics is really about who best responds to ‘events dear boy events’ then Labour have to be worried about this repetitive phenomenon of Tory boosts to most ‘events’.

    One way IMO to harden the Labour vote would be to have clear economic policies that accept the need for deficit reduction but propose to undertake that in a more measured and longer term way.

    The other is for EdM to take possession of a better VI lightening rod: it is all very well saying “we should lead not follow public opinion”. But if that means not enough people follow you then- as the old adage goes- ‘what do you call a leader with no followers? Just a person taking a walk’

    Alternatively if he is unable to do that then he should let someone else take possession of his office.


    AW I noticed that during the Tory ‘summit walk-out’ bump you updated the projection very quickly.

    Are you going to do update this week- prior to the xmas polling hiatus ??

  3. Rob

    He was badgered into updating quickly

  4. @Rob

    “Labours Lead is soft”

    Surely, Labour have been the one with the rather steady support. It’s the Conservative VI that’s all over the shop, and liable to inflate than flounder.

  5. @Rob S

    Some good points and there’s no doubt that there are elements of both the major parties’ support that are relatively soft. It’s only a hunch, I know, but I wonder if this might be something more to do with the low esteem in which the public currently hold their politicians rather than anything related to particular issues? This must drip through into party allegiances too and I get the feeling that the ebb and flow in the respective VI figures may be more an expression of loosely held, transitory opinions that come and go with newspaper headings rather than hard and fast position-taking.

    By the way, that recent ICM poll showing a 6% Tory lead is looking dodgier by the day, isn’t it? Are they the lone soldier marching in step, I wonder, or should they go back and seriously review their methodology?

  6. @Rob Sheffield

    I’m concerned that EM is failing to impress voters and maybe, at some stage, he will need to consider stepping aside.

    The trouble is there’is no one waiting in the wings to take over. I don’t think Labour are unique in this. All the parties lack politicians who can show real leadership.

    David Milliband can’t make his mind up. Yvette is ok but may be tainted by being “Mrs Balls”.

    Actually I thought Douglas Alexander came across well on TV during the Veto shenanigans. I don’t know if he’s ever had leadership ambitions. 8-)

  7. I’m not convinced with by the argument that Ed will be a drag on Labours electoral performance. First it must be remembered that Labour are still held responsible for our economic problems by a significant number of voters, and as leader of that Party some people will automatically associate Labours failures with any leader. Also, as the sole opposition leader facing a coalition, his ratings will be suppressed with supporters of two parties viewing him in a negative light, and even though the number of LD voters has fallen, the combined ATTAD score is still well above Labour.

    But for me Ed can’t begin to really climb in the public perception until he starts standing for something, rather than just opposing (especially when many see him opposing policies designed to clear up ‘his/Labours mess’). We saw an indication of that following the first hackgate revelations when Ed’s personal popularity ‘soared’ to the point of near equality with DC. He was the first to stand up and speak out against News International, and to make the link between failures in responsibility leading to the hacking crises, MP expenses, bankers bonuses etc, and the public responded accordingly. Unfortunately for Ed he failed to follow up on these successes and slipped backward, but it does seem to indicate that if he CAN find a message that resonates the public could be persuaded again.

    What I think has been holding Ed back is the policy review. Until that completes he is very limited in what he can actually say without risking the review contradicting him (and politics being the animal it is, any slight difference between Ed and the review – or even a perceived difference – will be seized on as proof of a U-turn, division, ‘Ed getting it wrong’ etc). Another factor is that, after a comprehensive GE defeat, Labour also needed a very public period of penance, to demonstrate they were learning the lessons of the electorate. So I can fully understand why Ed has refrained from going on the offensive.

    Or at least I could. But considering it’s now over 18 months since the election I would have expected Ed to start giving some indication of what ‘his’ Labour party would look like. While I appreciate the review is still many months from reporting back, by now I thought there would be some central themes that could be shared to give an idea of what Labours goals would be. The more time passes with nothing positive to say the more I feel the public will perceive Ed as negative, an outsider looking in, criticizing the government but without solutions of his own. I think they need to start getting ‘something’ out there pretty soon or Ed’s ratings could become entrenched.

  8. @Rob Sheffield – I really think we need to be a bit careful in declaring the Labour vote (or anyone’s vote) soft at present. I think it was in September 2000 when the Tories surged ahead around the time of the road fuel disputes. We could have argued that Labour’s vote was soft then, but in reality there wasn’t the faintest prospect of a Tory win in an election, and there wouldn’t be for another decade.

    I’m certainly not comparing Labour now to Labour in 2000, but I do think we need to be careful in assuming people’s responses to what are effectively completely meaningless mid term opinion polls, in the face of high profile but short term political events actually mean a great deal.

  9. EM is failing to impress because the Labour party are only benefiting from not being the government – they have not yet gathered any upswing in support for an alternative programme. Plan B looks too much like borrow and spend – and everyone still remembers their last administration at the moment. If Labour could do some number crunching and come up with, for example, things like restoring retirement at 65, they could build support quite healthily – but the numbers would have to be believable. Until they stand for a really attractive alternative with some real hooks for the voters, EM comes across as just a nasal whiner at question time – not his forte! But give him something engaging to say policy wise and I think his ratings could go up, as he comes across as a pleasant and friendly guy away from the bear pit of the chamber where he flounders a bit. I think it might be a mistake to think that nowadays you have to be a good performer in the House to be an election winning leader in the country – it doesn’t follow. How he performs in the TV leaders debates will be far more telling.

  10. Apologies, reposted from previous thread:

    IMO I agree that Ed will take Labour to 35-37% anything beyond will be tough as too soon. The big question is the one Nick P asks above can the Cons get 2-5% more.
    As he says no Gov’t in ‘modern’ times after a proper term have done this but the difference is that the cons are not in Government on their own and a ‘give us a mandate’ campaign may resonate with some voters. Also, as most of Labour’s increase will come from left leaning ABT ex LD voters, some right leaning ABLabs will switch to Cons. In short I think the cons will increase their vote share and Con 38-40%, Lab 35-37% and LD 14-18% is a decent prediction even this far out.
    How they fall in to these bands and some local factors plus possibly the SNP reaching the tipping point in Scotland will determine the seat distribution.

    I agree that Douglas Alexander is very impressive…Having just had a Socttish PM and Chancellor,it might be too soon for another one…I can already hear the Little Englanders moaning
    Ed has chosen the tough path…He hasn`t jumped to easy,populist poses but takes the longer term view…Yes,this doesn`t pay immediate dividends but may boost his popularity if his views get endorsed by time…Cameron`s vote collapse from 53% mid-Parliament to the eventual 36% shows that these quickly gained voters do not necessarily last the course…My only complaint of him is he is slightly too leftist and may scare middle England away

  12. I think that Ed tying himself irrevocably to the unions is the cause of his ‘lack of approval’. He wouldn’t have beaten his brother, but for the unions, and the unions want him to be their man. The non-union voters however are none too pleased with him in that respect.

    He can try to distance himself from the unions and end up in no man’s land, or cosy up further, and alienate many in the private sector.

    His only hope is economic woe. Profit from others’ pain in fact.

  13. Ok, here’s my twopenny worth from the previous thread:

    Is it perhaps not just a question of leader, but also of the leader/chancellor (or shadow chancellor) combo?

    Blair/Brown worked well perhaps because of the all the tension. Cameron would really be nowhere without Osborne.
    Thatcher, admittedly had something different going on with out of cabinet economic advisors and a string of task oriented chancellors.

    A number of sources suggest Ed was desperate to keep Balls away from the shadow chancellor post… implicity offering the job to his brother before Alan Johnson, and then again when Johnson insisted on resigning. How would the public have reacted to Miliband and Miliband I wonder?

    Balls has great expertise, but for any problem Miliband has with media acceptance, Balls has it in spades. Like it or not, a sympathetic media hearing is absolutely essential, and needs to be painstakingly cultivated.

  14. Billy Bob

    “a sympathetic media hearing is absolutely essential”

    That is certainly the received wisdom. Yet the SNP formed a minority government in 2007 and a majority government in 2011, in the face of a largely hostile media.

    That would suggest that media support (while useful) isn’t essential.

  15. valerie @ Rob Sheffield

    “The trouble is there’is no one waiting in the wings to take over. I don’t think Labour are unique in this. All the parties lack politicians who can show real leadership.”

    Except the SNP where many think the deputy leader would be better and neither are primarily responsible for the huge trawl of NE votes.

  16. Cameron is out of his depth dealing with women, ‘Calm down dear’ and ‘I know she’s frustrated…’ Yvette would frighten him.

  17. Old Nat – while I agree with your point it certainly didn’t feel to me that the SNP faced a ‘largely hostile media’ at the last election.

    From around January Labour’s campaign was (rightly) being denigrated by the press and Gray was portrayed as the rather pathetic figure he was.

    The SNP on the other hand had front page news when an actor who lives in America came out in support of them…

    It probably doesn’t feel like it to you, because we all remember our injustices more than our lucky brakes but following the press in 2011 it was no surprise that the SNP won, although the scale of the victory was beyond expectations.