Looking back at 2011

In terms of polling 2011 has been almost static. In the last Parliament we were rather spoilt in terms of volatility, seeing the Conservatives move ahead after the election of David Cameron, then the Brown boost putting Labour briefly ahead until the election-that-never-was burst the bubble, then a second Labour recovery after the bank bailout. Even in 2010 there was significant movement as Lib Dem support fractured and support for the government’s cuts programme ebbed away. In contrast the story of 2011 has been one of stagnation.


In terms of voting intention, in YouGov’s daily tracker Labour have maintained a steadyish five point lead throughout most of the year. There have been a few ups and downs, with the Labour lead temporarily widening to six, seven points or more in the Spring and after Hackgate in July, but most of the time voting intentions have rumbled onwards regardless of day-to-day politics.

The biggest exception was the impact of David Cameron’s veto at the European summit, which put the Conservatives briefly back ahead of Labour. As daily polling paused for Christmas the polls were still showing Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck – it remains to be seen whether this does have any lasting effect. The veto itself will, in all likelihood, fade from memory as things like the economy and public services resume their normal place at the top of the political agenda, but if the veto permanently impacts how people see David Cameron and his leadership there is a possibility of a longer term impact.

Economic optimism has remained resolutely dire throughout the entire year. Confidence in the government’s economic policy and support for the cuts rapidly fell in 2010, but since then have largely flatlined.


The proportion of people thinking that the cuts are too deep or too fast has actually fallen slightly (“too deep” has gone from around 50% in February to around 42-43% now; “too fast” has gone from around 58% to around 48%), but the balance of opinion that the cuts are bad for the economy remains largely unchanged. More positively for the government people continue to think the cuts are necessary, and despite the passage of time there is little further change in the proportion of people who blame the Labour party for the cuts.


Where there has been more movement this year is in perceptions of the leaders themselves. David Cameron’s ratings remain the most positive of the three main party leaders but have been on a downwards trend, interupted by peaks after the local elections and the European veto. The latter saw significant increases in the proportion of people who thought Cameron was a strong leader who is good in a crisis and sticks to what he believes in, but it remains to be seen if it endures.


Ed Miliband’s figures have also been on a downwards trend, even while his party has been ahead in the polls. His decline was dramatically reversed by his response to Hackgate, but this faded away again leaving him languishing in the the minus thirties. Nick Clegg has the worst ratings of all, though they appear to have bottomed out after the defeat in the AV referendum. He suffered a sharp downturn after the European veto, but this was largely the result of Conservative supports, a minority of whom normally give Clegg good ratings, becoming far more negative about him.

Those are the figures, I’ll try to have a bit of broader rumination of the political situation at the end of 2011 over the next few days.

324 Responses to “Looking back at 2011”

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  1. It does really look like the concrete is setting on public opinion at the moment. As a Tory supporter I have to hope that the first polls of 2012 continue to be neck-and-neck, but this longer term position looks very firm to me. I expect the Labour lead to be back in short order.

  2. First graphic:

    = Yet *another* nail in the coffin of the useless notion of LALA :D

    AW- is it possible to put UKIP on the first graph?

  3. Thanks Anthony.

    Looking forward to your broader rumination.

  4. Interesting to speculate on what the turning points in 2012 might be.

    Obviously Euroland has the potential for more upsets, but predicting its effect on UK politics does not look possible. Presumably any more vetos will lose their newsworthyness. Is there further mileage in euro-scepticism?

    The UK economy going back into recession is a distinct possibility, bringing with it a new window to play the blame game. In fact I don’t see how the whole cuts story can progress until the public reaches a firm conclusion on its success or failure. On the downside, recession will do that, or unemployment reaching 3 million by the end of the year? On the upside, avoiding recession might allow the Cons to freeze in their public opinion advantage here.

    Will the post-veto mood in the coalition lead to any substantial changes in the political scene? I suspect not, but just maybe some LibDems will reach breaking point.

    Finally, there’s the unpredictable effects of the NHS changes simmering away, plus the possible sudden demise of some of our universities this summer as student numbers turn out too low. But I don’t see either of these as game-changers.

  5. Rob – nope. I’ve got a nice spreadsheet with all the Con, Lab & LD scores for every poll since 2005 making nice graphs easy to do. Putting UKIP on would involve tracking down and filling in lots of numbers I don’t have!

  6. AW

    ah I can see your point!


    Look forward to your rumination on the leadership graph.

    Predictably awful leadership ratings trend for EdM,

    But look at that collapse for Clegg!

    I wonder how much of the recent ‘summit walk-out sulk’ loss he will get back?

  7. @Hal

    “I suspect not, but just maybe some LibDems will reach breaking point. ”

    If that happens- and my money is that it is 51-49 in favour of it happening- it won’t be 2012 but late 2013.

    IMHO sometime between them getting hammered in the 27 English County all-up elections of May 2013 (on the back of LG defeats in May 2011 and May 2012) and their biennial autumn 2013 policy making conference.

  8. FWIW, I think the thing that has stopped a Lib Dem leadership challenge so far is 1) a halt on the decline in the polls, and 2) some hints that things *might* start to get better, particularly the polls where high numbers of Don’t Knows drag the LD voting intention up.

    However, this has not yet translated into things actually getting better for the Lib Dems, and the crucial question is: how long will the patience of the Lib Dems hold? I think the 2012 elections will be a real test – they will almost certainly lose seats (it’s inconceivable that they’ll hold the result from 2008 whilst in government), but it’s all a matter of how much they lose, whether their projected national share is better or worse than last year, and how the Lib Dems react in the aftermath.

    Anthony: if the Scottish/Welsh local elections are taking place in 2012, and (as it appears likely) Lib Dems do worse in those areas than Tory-sympathising parts of England, how will that affect the projected national share compared to last year when there were no local elections in Scotland or Wales?


    But we did have Parliamentary/Assembly elections in 2011. Presumably psephologists might think that they count for something – even if we weren’t electing councillors?

  10. Oldnat / Chris NS –

    No, the formulas used by Rallings & Thrasher and John Curtice (for the BBC) don’t take into account the Parliamentary/Assembly elections. They are based on the change in vote shares in various key wards, so in making a national projection they assume that there would have been a similar change in the shares of the vote in the parts of the country where there were no elections to that in the ones where they were.

    I suspect that *may* mean that if the Lib Dems do worse in Scotland and Wales than in England (in terms of *losing* more votes, as opposed to having a lower *share* of the vote) a national projection that includes data from Scotland and Wales may end up projecting a lower share for them. However, that’s only a suspicion. R&T and Curtice may have something built into their respective models to account for this.

  11. The Coalition will certainly be fairly happy if their combined support remains at 50% throughout the next 12 months.

  12. RobS
    “First graphic:

    = Yet *another* nail in the coffin of the useless notion of LALA”

    Forgive my rank stupidity, but could you please elucidate? I haven’t got the foggiest what you are talking about. To me, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever to be read into those figures about the veracity or otherwise of LALA, since both Lab & LD figures have been essentially static all year. But (and it is a big BUT), they have been static at values that put the combined Lab+LD VI right in the 50-60% territory that it has been in for at least the last 50 years.

    Am I being terribly dim here?

  13. Anthony

    I can understand people wanting to stick to a formula – but continuing to do so when circumstances have changed significantly appears to fly in the face of common sense (not that academics are often accused of having the latter attribute).

  14. In terms of how 2012 might evolve politically, Dan Hannan’s blog http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100126429/what-exactly-did-david-cameron-veto-again/ points to an interesting possibility. At the time of the ‘veto’ I suggested that the Eurosceptics would demand ever more from Cameron, but Hannan points to evidence that it could be significantly more difficult for Cameron than that.

    Hannan identifies reports that the actual text of the agreement that Cameron refused to sign up to (he didn’t veto it, as the text was only agreed several days later – he just declined to be involved) assumes the 26 nations will use EU institutions and that British officials (and Nick Clegg) are also assuming this.

    He blogs this line;

    ” The use of EU structures was not part of David Cameron’s veto; it was David Cameron’s veto. If we were to give in, we would have attracted all the opprobrium for nothing. Nothing.”

    I don’t know how this is going to pan out, but Cameron already has form in disappointing Eurosceptics with unfulfilled promises. I always suspected that the ‘veto’ will come back to haunt him, but I always thought this would be by regulations on the city being brought in by QMV regardless and not in such a direct way that clearly highlights the diplomatic failure that the ‘veto’ represented.

    If Dan Hannan is correct, sometime in 2012 Cameron will face a very embarassing attack from his own side and will be made to look evasive and impotent. Of all the non economic issues, I rather suspect Europe might well be one of the big ones.

  15. It has been a very stable year – somewhat more so than 1980 when some comparison to the situation can be made.

    I think the Tories dreadful period in 1994-6 was pretty stable aswell.

    Europe could be politically difficult for the Conservatives, but it just isn’t the case that the party is riven by it as some hope,
    and we were correct to stay outside the Euro.


    “It has been a very stable year”

    In some places, certainly.

  17. That is true – I didn’t expect an SNP landslide, but perhaps something similar to 2007.
    As the SNP landslide built up during a short period before the 2011 election, and wasn’t waiting to happen already,
    you’re point is technically correct.

    But there hasn’t been a lot of change in the aggregate position of the UK.

  18. Holidays now almost over and, after a superb walk along a stretch of the Cotswold Way yesterday, I’m now recharged, refreshed and ready to return to the fray. Why, even my beloved Villa secured a surprising point at Stoke on Boxing Day, although it is depressing to see that the Glazers adopted football franchise in Manchester is, alas, showing an unwelcome return to its metronomic and tedious winning ways.

    I accept that there is meagre polling gruel to feed on during the festive season, so I thought I’d reflect on some of the chatter that is currently being generated by the leader’s respective approval ratings. The consensus appears to be that Cameron is now running well ahead of his party and that he is establishing some sort of sway over the electorate’s affections. Conversely, or so the commentary goes, Miliband and Clegg are the equivalent of political dead meat, floundering in irrecoverable levels of public opprobrium. Indeed, supporters of the Conservative party are deriving great succour from this supposed leadership advantage, implying that, when General Election polling booths are eventually wheeled out, it will be a decisive factor, far more important than current VI ratings suggest. Maybe, but I’m not so sure that the current polling findings as are positive and encouraging for Cameron as some are claiming.

    Let’s look at where he is in real terms. YouGov’s last findings in mid December suggest that he is on -6 with 50% of the electorate thinking he is doing badly as opposed to 44% who think he is doing well. The latest ICM suggests that he has edged marginally into positive territory at +5% but, whatever the true figure, these are very lukewarm endorsements and equate to where Obama is currently, a politician deemed to be in some significant trouble and lagging way behind his predecessors at the equivalent point in the electoral cycle. It’s also interesting to note that Obama had positive approval ratings until about the 25th month of his Presidency, whereas Cameron went negative after about 7 months; a position, according to YouGov, where he still remains, despite the recent post veto bounce.

    I thought the commentary surrounding the latest ICM poll was extraordinarily flattering for Cameron in terms of its interpretation of his relative strength and popularity. He’s on a gentle upward curve from a fairly low starting point and, in my view, his position has the capacity to subside quite soon. It isn’t converting significantly into support for the party he leads and I think way too much is being made of both his strength and, apropos, Miliband’s weakness.

    We’re not in Thatcher v Foot, Thatcher v Kinnock, Blair v Hague/IDS country at all here and +5 approval ratings (or -6%, if you believe YouGov!!) are not the stuff from which invincible political leaders are made.

    He’s still to seal the deal with the great British public, despite the current relative advantage he enjoys over Miliband and Clegg. It’s still an Ugly Contest.

  19. The most telling chart is the one which shows that consistently more voters blame Labour for the cuts than blame the Tories.

    If the Conservative propaganda machine can sustain the perception that our economic woes are the fault of the previous government then it will stand them in good stead come 2015. It has to be said that there is no evidence that the two trend lines have been converging over the last twelve months, but you would think that over time the memory of (and corresponding propensity to blame?) the previous Labour government is bound to diminish.

    It’s also worthy of note that EM and NC have been suffering hugely deteriorating net approval ratings (much more so than DC) but without any corresponding decrease in the poll ratings for Labour or the LibDems. This suggests that the electorate are not concentrating their minds when asked to give their voting intentions for the next election.

    When they do start to focus on it there’s bound to be a rise in Tory support. Hence, I’m still firmly of the view that the next election is Cameron’s to lose (though a lot can still happen to change this).

  20. Cameron’s poll bumps have come from negative events. The death of Libya’s leader when there was no unifying replacement; the ‘veto’ of a draft EU document with no better alternative suggestion.

    These were events which will not change the day-to-day life of voters in any way whatsoever. Therefore, I think there will be no lasting benefit to David Cameron or his Party.

  21. Given that most people accept that the relative popularity of party leaders has some effect when it comes to an actual election, as opposed to polls, does anyone know if there has been any actual study of the magnitude of the effect?

    I would be looking at things like last-minute swings to the party with the more popular (or less unpopular) leader. 1992 springs to mind, but are there other good examples, or any way of working out the strength of the effect? I suppose one could look at correlation between size of last-minute swing and the gap in leaders’ popularity?

  22. Leftylampton

    “Am I being dim”

    Possibly- if you support the notion: far better to utilise the PN and BL positions (i.e. ‘real’ social democracy).

    The LALA thesis states that for Labour to rise LD’s need to fall and conversely if LDs rise then Labour will fall.

    It’s the purview of those who argue we should not be trying to win over the centre and centre left because we will simply be swapping votes with LD’s at best; at worst failing to win over new LD voters as they see no real difference between us and not attracting non-voters at the last election.

    Here is one archetypal proponent:

    “The thing is that we are nearly 16 months into an election cycle and my theory is holding up very very strongly. It goes as follows. “Reds gain at yellow expense, and vice versa”

    However, of course, if you look at the first graphic in AW thread starter you will see that is patent nonsense not borne out by the data!

    He goes on in another post on LALA: “The worse case scenario for the Labour Party is that Nick Clegg is removed as the leader of the LDs”….. 8O

    Nonetheless, as said the answer of the LALA mob is that instead of fighting for centre and centre left voters Labour should ‘target those 5 million working class, minority, youth and unemployed (blah blah blah) voters it lost between 1997 and 2010…and win a landslide’ = in another TGB post “5 million voters have left labour since 1997 and 4m of these were working class.”

    Even if you actually take this kind of slop seriously the response required is even more idiotic: Labour needs an avowedly left wing set of policies. Oh and it must be repeatedly and unrelentingly nasty to/about the LD’s to ‘prevent a LD revival’.

    It ignores the idea of trying to win over current and potential Tory voters completely.

    Complete rubbish in other words.

  23. Robin Hood

    “It’s also worthy of note that EM and NC have been suffering hugely deteriorating net approval ratings (much more so than DC) but without any corresponding decrease in the poll ratings for Labour or the LibDems. This suggests that the electorate are not concentrating their minds when asked to give their voting intentions for the next election.”

    Nah- it’s says that LD and Labour voters are expressing that preference DESPITE the leader their party’s have.

    ‘holding the nose voter intention’ to be technical !

    Both Nick and EdM have been a drag on their party’s VI for the entirety of 2011- with both deteriorating in respect/ popularity ratings (outside of orange book LD supporters and left wing Labour supporters) and at an increasing rate towards the end of 2011 as we enter 2012.

    It prompts some important questions about the two of them…..

  24. Oldnat

    UK HoC researchers published a report on the ‘west Lothian question’ yesterday.

    Whilst this is primarily an English/ UK HoC matter I thought you might still be interested.

    In case you are and did not know about it link is here


  25. SNP supporters (and possibly others!) may be interested to know that I’m currently in the process of uploading this year’s BBC Scottish election programme to YouTube. This is a link to the first part:


  26. Rob S.

    And yet. And yet. There’s 50 years’ worth of data (I’ve posted at length on the subject on here before) to say that there IS an intimate inverse relationship between Lab and CentreParty votes at real elections, and pretty much every poll since 2010 (and long before come to that) has fitted this relationship.

    I take your point entirely that ignoring the possibility of winning over Tory voters is silly per se. But I suggest that the effect of that (in terms of being in a position to win an election) is a second order one. I’m a Big Picture man myself – I like to step back and look at the broad sweep of first-order effects rather than nit pick over second-order detail.

    So I’ll put the following thesis to you (I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I’d be interested in your counter):

    Labour DID win votes from the Tories in 97. That was primarily because large numbers of the erstwhile Tory voters were rootless due to the scale of the incompetence shown by Major’s Govt. Sure, Blair didn’t scare them off, but he would NOT have won election-winning numbers of them had Major’s Govt (and the following oppositions) been remotely competent.

    Meanwhile, over the next decade, Labour haemorrhaged voters (something like 1.5million of them) to the LDs. The vast majority of that loss came between 2001 & 2005. I think the balance of probability is that the overwhelming majority of those were basically left-leaning voters who were disgusted by Iraq and other right-leaning actions of Blair’s second term. That 1.5million loss was absolutely crucial in 2010. Despite the recession, despite Brown’s bungling, Labour would have won in 2010 with those 1.5million votes. And they were votes lost from people who went to vote for a centre party that they believed were more left-wing than Labour.

    The fact that that same 1.5million voters and more have deserted the LDs and come (back) to Labour since 2010 is a powerful piece of evidence in support of this thesis.

    The LDs’ hari-kiri is THE transformational effect of this Parliament. Sure, go looking for votes from the Tories, but for God’s sake, don’t do that by implementing policies that drive those re-won supporters away from Labour once again, like Blair did.

  27. @Alec – “… diplomatic failure”

    Hannan not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer if it has taken him three weeks to work out what was apparent to other commentators within hours. He has been twelve years in Bruxelles as an MEP, but doesn’t seem to understand the process.

    The comment section is worth a read though:

    ” ‘You indicate that you won’t sign; you don’t go along with the negotiations until the last minute and then suddenly flounce out.’
    Not very savvy in terms of contract negotiation are we, Hannan…
    Perhaps that’s why the Tory EU-sceptics never get anywhere as they don’t have a strategy.”

    “Cameron is the EU mouse wearing a UK T-Shirt forced into the corner of the skirting board, by a Bunch of EU Hyenas. He cheaps “No” which so surprises the Hyenas, that he has enough time to disappear into the mousehole to be cheered by the other UK mice.”

  28. Alec

    “If Dan Hannan is correct, sometime in 2012 Cameron will face a very embarrassing attack from his own side”

    Yep- that Hannan blog is very interesting. Cameron needs to be wary of his right flank.

    There is also the possibility that we may actually sign a treaty sometime in the first 6 months of 2012- if Merkozy go along with enough of Cameron’s demands and with Clegg pressurising him to ‘moderately compromise’.

    Even though that scenario could be portrayed correctly as a big win for UK/ Cameron (and a big defeat for the Gallic shrug) I somehow can’t see the Hannan’s of this world nor the DM/ DT/ SUN editorials magnanimously celebrating the signing of a treaty!

    So Cameron has a lot potentially to lose on that issue as you say. Then there is economic stagnation and household/ family depressed spending/ wealth to sour things as well.

    However Cameron is extremely lucky in his enemies- sadly for those who want to see him out like myself.



    “He’s still to seal the deal with the great British public, despite the current relative advantage he enjoys over Miliband and Clegg.

    It’s still an Ugly Contest.”

    Without deploying sexist metaphors: in an ugly contest the least ugly wins.

    Once again prompts questions about the Labour leadership and that pesky notion of ‘likeability’.

    I am taking an early night now as early tomorrow I fly out of the UK for 2 weeks in HKG, KUL and SIN. Feel sorry for me…. :D

    Have a **great new year** all.

    I wonder what the polls will be saying on the evening Saturday 14th January 2012? I have not got a clue!

  29. PS


    “There’s 50 years’ worth of data (I’ve posted at length on the subject on here before) to say that there IS an intimate inverse relationship between Lab and CentreParty votes at real elections, and pretty much every poll since 2010 (and long before come to that) has fitted this relationship.”

    You are completely forgetting (though others also persistently do so as well) that this is the first peacetime non national government coalition for 90 years and that there is only one centre left party standing (unless the LALA brigade and assorted ragtag Trots can win the battle for EdM;s ear over PN and BL.et al).

    Pre 2010 data is inconclusive at best (outside of 1981-1992 period): post 2010 data is stark in its clarity that there is no inverse relationship since May 2010.

    “Tot Straks iedereen”

  30. CROSS BAT 11
    Happy New Year to you from a cold dorset beach.

    Tedious at Old Trafford, with 5 goals a game and no defenders?

    SAF is 70 tomorrow. He may well be top again by 5.00PM.

    In politics, the debates here have seemed to agree that Labour will stay with Ed until 2015, when he will lose to the Tories.

    A normal three term tory administration period, with or without the support of the Liberal democrats looks to be in the offing.

    I am charging myself up for the second part of my 34th year in state school teaching, with INSET on Tuesday.

    In 1966 I was still 10 when Harold won. In 1997 I was still 41 when Tony won.

    I will be at least 70 when Labour wins again, I sense.

    It could all have been so different, but they ‘have got their party back’

  31. “SNP supporters (and possibly others!) may be interested to know that I’m currently in the process of uploading this year’s BBC Scottish election programme to YouTube. This is a link to the first part:


    Thanks Andy – you have done an excellent job uploading these election night programs. Some of them I had been looking for for years and years. Particularly 1979 when I was put to bed.

  32. I actually have written a post using the same VI data, but using a CUSUM analysis, to detect the variations that are present in data, but are not visible by simply looking at the headline VI. There are definite trends in the data to be seen using this method.

    htt p://think-left.org/2011/12/29/the-polls-2011-a-cusum-perspective/

  33. Leftylampton – if those Labour supporters who had with-held support from the left in 2001 and 2005
    were so determined to prevent a Tory government, why did they not return in 2010?

    I think we really have to accept results as we find them – on either side.

  34. I think you unfairly pan 2011 as boring in terms of polls Anthony. I conclude that 2011 has instead been a game changer.

    As a Conservative supporter, I and many others from across the spectrum were of the opinion that the Conservatives would be around 10 points behind Labour by the end of the year. This has not happened, in fact, Conservatives are ahead of Labour by about 1 point, or neck and neck, as opposed to last year when we were slightly behind, so after a year of cuts and a few mistakes the Conservatives are actually doing better.

    I had always assumed 4 years of misery, then in May 2014, when the woe had passed, Conservative support would jump back up and win a majority in 2015. So the fact, the 1st year of misery actually had a positive impact you think would give me joy, however, the fact that the debt will now take an extra 2 years to clear makes me worry that the polls won’t recover in 2015, Labour will swoop in complete the last 2 years of cuts, then claim credit for getting us out of it all, and the public being generally dumb will believe them.

  35. JOE JAMES B.

    I fully agree with you that the results are the results.

    Labour lost in 2010, for the first time since 1992.

    The results of most recent polls and by elections indicate that Labour is floundering, at the lowest point of the economic cycle.

    ‘Dealignment’ means that we cant rely on a block of voters returning.

    I think the Labour Party should pick a man from southern england, outside of London, with tory parents, who speaks and smiles well, who understands human nature desires capitalism with a human face, with equity, but with discipline too.

    This man could appeal to ‘middle england’ woman and man living in tory towns like basildon and worcester and chester.

    I must stop dreaming, ‘we’ tried that before and won three successive large majorities.

  36. CHRISLANE1945

    With that logic the Conservatives need to find a gay, ethnic, young, female from the North or Scotland.

    Ruth Davidson come on down to Westminster, 4 out of 5 aint bad!!!

    Sarcasm aside, I think the British public vote on more than just a few personal characteristics.

  37. I predict the Conservative post-veto bounce will be short term, not because of any horrific economic UK-centric Armageddon that some people seem to forecast, but because this will rapidly become a side-show. Cameron and Merkl have both recognised this overt split isn’t helping anyone and are trying to get talking again, and whilst Sarkozy is trying to inflame the split further with this silliness over downgrading the UK, no-one is backing France up on that.

    The real problem emerging is doubts over whether EZ countries will actually accept this plan, whether the rules will actually be enforced, and whether this plan actually solves the problem anyway, and these problems will exist with or without the UK playing ball. Unless the Eurozone countries gets their act together very quickly, the economic consequences for everyone will dwarf the effect of the UK veto, and with it the freshness in the public mind.

  38. Joe James B.

    Simple. They thought they were voting for a left-ish party in the LDs. I can see no other reason why 2 million of them would have deserted the LDs within 8 months of the election. If someone can give me a better explanation, I will be all ears

  39. “The results of most recent polls and by elections indicate that Labour is floundering”

    Labour got an 8% swing in the last by-election. That would get them a majority of 72 in a general election. How is that “floundering”?

  40. Rob S.
    “Pre 2010 data is inconclusive at best (outside of 1981-1992 period): post 2010 data is stark in its clarity that there is no inverse relationship since May 2010.”

    Hang on a minute. If you are going to make assertions like those, you’d better have some facts to back them up.

    Look at this graph and tell me that there has been no corellation between Labour & LD vote since May 10. Also, tell me why the GE results outside your chosen period don’t fit the same trend.


    PS: The only reason that the post-GE data on that graph stop in Oct 11 is that I haven’t downloaded the more recent data. Sure, there will be a tiny blip from the veto-bounce but that is lost in the noise compared to the big, first-order picture.

    PPS: I’m still waiting for a convincing explanation as to why the existence of a coalition must require that the 50 year inverse correlation between Lab and centre-party vote share won’t hold in 15. The relation that says:

    where K=~60% when the Tories are unelectable
    K=~50% when the Tories are doing well.

    It held in 2010. It held under Blair. It held under Kinnock. It held during the emergence of the SDP. It held during Thatcher’s South Atlantic glory. It held during the Lib-Lab pact. It held under Heath and Wilson when the Libs were electorally irrelevant.

    Every Parliament has unique circumstances. The data in the graph above screams to me that the current circumstances are not so revolutionary that the relation will not hold in 15.

  41. The issue is whether the coalition will stick together to enact the boundary changes in 2013…If they do and Turkeys vote for their own christmas,then the Tories have a decent chance of doing well…Otherwise,I can see them being subsumed by the weight of being in government and getting an 8 point poll lead…At some point,nerves are bound to be frayed and the divisions within the Tory party are bound to surface

    It is also a battle of ideas and as ALEC posted,even Cameron touted heir to Blair is changing to beliefs and ideas rather than mere spin…So I wouldn`t discount Ed yet as he has already put forward ideas which resonate with the public

    You might be right,but in FTPT,it becomes the key factor only if Lib/Lab have an electoral alliance…Without it and with tactical voting only,it is very much a hit and miss story…In three way marginals especially,it is a disadvantage as the right unites while the left tends to be more split

  43. Smukesh.
    “In three way marginals especially,it is a disadvantage as the right unites while the left tends to be more split”

    Exactly! That WAS the situation before the end of the Great Centre-Left Schism. Rob S is absolutely correct that the existence of the coalition is a game changer. It is because there is now no reason whatsoever why the centre-left should be split in 15.

    That is, unless the Blairites carry on their guerilla war on the Labour party in the way they did in 08-09.

  44. Smukesh
    “So I wouldn`t discount Ed yet as he has already put forward ideas which resonate with the public”

    What would those be then? I can’t think of anything memorable he’s said at all. I know I’m not necessarily a good representative of the public, so i’d like to know what i’ve missed.

  45. PETE B
    It has been posted here about `Squeezed middle` becoming commonly used in the press and it was infact the `Word of the year` of Oxford dictionary (just as The Big Society was in 2011 but this has failed to gain any more traction since)…He has now started to talk about `Responsible Capitalism` which Cameron attempts to ape with his `Moral markets`…When your rivals start to ape you,you are doing something right

  46. Pete B.

    You might want to have a look at The Times’s editorial from this morning for a kick off.

    Miliband is playing a canny game. He knows that he’s got what the unkinder critics call a personality for radio (and not even a voice for it…) so there is little to be gained by looking for TV limelight on a regular basis. Instead, he’s putting out regular flares lighting up aspects of Labour’s philosophy. That they appear to resonate is reflected in the very solid Labour VI figures throughout his tenure.

    He’s never going to woo the public as Blair did. But then again, I suspect that, given the disillusion with politics that we had by the time Blair left, I suspect no-one else will in my lifetime – the electorate has lost its virginity on that one – a point rammed home (ooer) for a a second time after Nice Nick’s pre- and post- GE10 behaviour.

    Instead, he’s positioning Labour in a position that can and should give them a solid 38-42% vote share in 15. That will be quite remarkable given where Labour was in 10. And, given the breaks, ought to be enough to at least deny Cameron a majority once again.

  47. @Robin Hood – “When they do start to focus on it there’s bound to be a rise in Tory support. ”

    And you’re absolutely, totally sure that when voters start to focus you won’t see Cameron’s ratings fall to match his parties?

    @chrislane1945 – “The results of most recent polls and by elections indicate that Labour is floundering, at the lowest point of the economic cycle.”

    That’s completely wrong, on two counts. Every poll, by election and local election result I’ve seen, with the exception of the Scottish Parliament elections and a minor short term post veto bounce for the Tories, shows Labour recovering very strongly from an appalling GE defeat, and places them in a position that would make them the next government if the results were reflected in actual votes. You’re talking utter nonsense.

    I believe you’re also wrong on a second count – we’ve just had 18 months or so of economic growth, and are now slipping back into recession – we’re nowhere near the lowest point of the cycle.

    Clearly, you think Labour should be doing much better than they are, just 18 months after their worst ever modern GE result. You could be correct – I really don’t know, but if this is what you mean, be specific. Why you think being predicted by most polls as winning an outright majority equates to ‘floundering’ is a little beyond me.

  48. Joe James B

    “That is true – I didn’t expect an SNP landslide, ..”

    Nothing to be ashamed of there, nobody else did either. Isn’t that the big polling issue of the year?

    Not the landslide itself, and certainly not the poldrums, but the fact that polling methods were unable to pick up the fact that bucketloads of votes in supposedly safe LibDem majorities were anti-Con votes, loyal to a principle (ABT) not a party.

    chrislane1945 @ JOE JAMES B.

    “I think the Labour Party should pick a man from southern England, outside of London, with Tory parents, who speaks and smiles well, who understands human nature desires capitalism with a human face, with equity, but with discipline too. ..”

    Or since their past success involved copying their opponents, perhaps they need a wee fat bald guy, who seems very sure of himself and is a manager who can pick a competent committed and workaholic team to do the hard work, while he stands by ready to defend them when needed.

    Many years ago I saw an OU management video.

    The boss, and elderly man of ancestry from the subcontinent had bought a confectionary manufacturer. His job was the easiest one, he said. All he needed to do was recruit four good people, let them get on with the job and intervene only if one department put its interests ahead of the collective interest.

    Easy work and well paid. It’s like conducting an orchestra. The clever stuff is done by others and you get the credit.

    Sofa government surrounded by yes-men is certain to fail.

  49. It is possible that Tory support holding up relatively well so far is not necessarily much use to them
    if the economic recovery has been delayed a long time
    and there is a hole of unpopularity still to arrive and too near the election,
    but enought of the public does, when probed, understand the economic problems rather better than some of the “experts” (who are usually not real businessmen or women)
    provided there is a clear sense of direction
    about longer term building blocks for genuine economic recovery in this country
    Tories could do well at an election on the basis of “laying the foundations, and next to build on it”.

  50. @Pete B – I also think you are underestimating what Ed M has managed to do this year. I’m not a Labour cheerleader, and I am certainly not saying Ed is doing very well or can win the next GE, but he has established the beginnings of a winning mantra with the ideas of responsible business and the squeezed middle.

    These ideas could still be stolen by the government and rendered ineffective, and equally Labour has yet to establish credible policies to reflect the themes in an understandable and appealing way, but Ed’s made a start. Whether he is the man to see it through I don’t know, but if Cameron thinks he’s going to walk it in 2015, more fool the Tories.

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