Historical polls

After hours of slaving in the library Mark Pack has put up a spreadsheet of all the polls he’s been able to locate since 1943 – you can download it from Mark’s site here. It’s relatively easy to find polls back into the 1980s when MORI and ICM’s predecessor Marplan were active. It becomes more difficult as you go back into the 1970s and before, when increasingly one can only find the regular Gallup polls, and polls from the election campaigns, with mid-term figures from NOP, RSL, ORC and in-house newspaper polls not easily accessible.

Guilt tripped by Mark’s hard work, I’ve updated the historical polls listed down the right-hand sidebar of the site to go back to 1970 (pre 1992 data is mostly courtesy of Mark!). I shall try to add some nice graphs to them all… assuming I don’t get sidelined and forget about them like I did last time.

231 Responses to “Historical polls”

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  1. scotswaehae

    Tend to agree with you about Farron. I could never understand why the media latched onto him as the internal opposition/next leader unless it was that as Party President he was the only Lib Dem with a prominent position who didn’t have some government position or was judged to have been around too long for modern fashion (Kennedy, Hughes etc).

    Interestingly the aforementioned Mark Pack(s) has an interesting post on the results of Lib Dem Voice’s latest Lib Dem members’ survey:


    It shows Vince Cable with the highest net score from their panel, ahead of Farron. Though Steve Webb in fourth might also be an dark horse. All a bit voodoo of course (and to be fair all the right provisos are present and correct) but an interesting straw in the wind.


    I don’t see option (f) being in anyway difficult. While the MPs won’t be wanting to be seen to wield the knife, it shouldn’t be difficult to get 75 local Parties to agree, even now. I suspect though that they may be holding their fire until it’s clear that a majority of Lib Dems would be happy if Clegg went. That time may be coming nearer with the switches we saw among Lib Dem voters last month, but we need polling to start again before we know if the changes are sticking.

    As usual with these challenges, the threat is usually enough to force a resignation with the constitutional machinery actually starting to move.

  2. Of course that should have been “WITHOUT the constitutional machinery actually starting to move”. Though I didn’t need to write anything as Anthony had already made the point better.

    In reality the main concern of most Lib Dem activists will be to avoid a substantial split in the Party. So the momentum would have to build up first. There will be a lot of interesting discussions at the Lib Dem Sprig Conference no doubt, even if nothing gets mentioned from the platform.

  3. @Roger M

    Thanks for the link to the LD voice survey. No mention of opinions of Clegg on there unfortunately.

    There’s not much of correlation between the survey results and the betting odds* for the next leader. Farron is currently favourite at 21/10, next is rather surprisingly Huhne at 6/1.

    (*I’m assuming that AW won’t welcome direct links here to online betting sites but it anyone’s interested I find that “Oddschecker” gives the best overview of political markets).

  4. Anthony

    Thanks-I assumed the rules were the rules-silly me !

    I suppose a standing down would come under (a)

    I agree with your thought incidentally. Given the significant possibility that he wouldn’t get back in at a GE, unless there is a very significant improvement in LD VI , he must already be contemplating it.

  5. Roger Mexico


    I guess f) would fit nicely with Rob Sheffields prediction of decimating slaughter at Local Elections.

    I think he forecast a 2013 post Local election move by the grassroots party.

  6. Hal, Amber and RiN,
    I reponded to your comments on the last thread.

  7. @ Scotswaehae

    “Despite being a bit of a rogue this Government in terms of tuition fees etc, that won’t get him far as all LDs have been tarred with the tuition fee brush whether they voted for or against. His achilles heel will be that he voted against gay rights, which for a LD is a pretty spectacular failing.

    That is kinda odd for a Lib Dem. I wonder if it will further turn off some LD voters who are already turning away from the party.

    @ Jay Blanc

    Too many parties can muddy the waters and confuse the debate. They can also lead to a debate that is more comedic than is productive for voters to get a sense of what they’ll actually get if one of the actual contenders wins power. You don’t need to have Jimmy McMillan in the debates to tell you that housing prices in London are too high when Cameron or Miliband or Clegg could take time and explain how they would create more affordable housing.

    But Labour should try to make sure the Lib Dems are in a tv debate. If they’re going to win the next election, they need to capitalize on being the only main opposition right now and send out a clear message that if you’re a voter who’s unhappy with the government, you need to vote for Labour.

    I’m wondering too if the Lib Dems might insist upon it just so that they don’t look like a subservient wing of the Conservatives.

  8. Another poll or part of the same one

    Tim farron
    Very satisfied 41%
    Quite satisfied 35%
    Quite dissatisfied 5%
    Very dissatisfied 1%
    Don’t know / No opinion 17%

    Nick Clegg
    Very satisfied 21%
    Quite satisfied 44%
    Quite dissatisfied 16%
    Very dissatisfied 9%
    Don’t know / No opinion 10%

    Danny Alexander
    Very satisfied 16%
    Quite satisfied 34%
    Quite dissatisfied 22%
    Very dissatisfied 12%
    Don’t know / No opinion 17%

    Only Danny makes it into double digits on very dissatisfied, nick is in second place


    I followed up on your post on the other thread re HBOS

  10. Roger

    I see vince as king maker not as king, I’m sure that if he throws his support behind a candidate then it would be a one horse race. But who will he chose, if he invites anyone to dinner then the gossip mill will go into overdrive

  11. Whilst I could see Vince leaving the government in a strop, I can’t see him coveting the leadership .

    Now Huhne………he has it firmly in his sights imo.
    But he doesnt look like flavour of the month in that libdemvoice poll.

    Too slippery by half-even for LibDems ?

  12. Scotswaehae:
    “I don’t think Farron will replace him however. Despite being a bit of a rogue this Government in terms of tuition fees etc, that won’t get him far as all LDs have been tarred with the tuition fee brush whether they voted for or against. His achilles heel will be that he voted against gay rights, which for a LD is a pretty spectacular failing.
    Unless the LDs were willing to move significantly to the right, they will choose a far more liberal, and probably leftist candidate in order to win back some votes from Labour.”

    Where are they going to find such a candidate? Evan Harris is no longer in parliament, and it’s a little known but true fact that there’s a distinctly religious flavour to much of the Parliamentary Lib Dem left: Hughes, Webb, Farron, Mulholland and arguably even Kennedy and Cable. They’re also severely constrained by the imperative to have a leader who’s actually going to keep their seat at the next election- on which front Farron is ahead by a considerable way (discounting boundary changes, which put a wrecking ball through his seat along with a number of the Lib Dems other safest seats- which is why I maintain they’d be mad to let those changes go through). I doubt very much at a time like this that gay marriage, as an issue, is going to be a deciding factor of anything in politics.

  13. Debates – of course Ed M will have to do them, regardless of how unfair the format is.

    Going by David Cameron’s New Year speech – which lifts several of its themes straight from Ed’s speeches during 2011 – Ed can’t pass up the chance of Cameron saying: “I agree with Ed”. ;-)

  14. Nick might be forced to resign, not by the party, or the media





    But by his wife

  15. Phil

    The poll results for Clegg from that particular survey is here:


    like certain Scottish newspapers, LDV tend to squeeze their poll results out over several days.

  16. LefttLampton and Alec.

    Thank you.

    But I do that that DC is in the centre. Ed has shifted to the left- its all wrong he said.

    And in 1987 Kinnock was still a unilateralist and a nationaliser, this nonsense finished after the review into policy after the GE of 1987- which was a disaster.

    ED in glasses and jumpers. OMG as kids say, lol. Can you see the PM at PMQ’s on this.

    I saw Ed’s transcript of interview in which he describes his brotherly relationships at the moment.

  17. @ Roger Mexico

    “Labour would be foolish to give up on the chance of a three-way debate for the reasons I mentioned and SoCalLiberal also put more eloquently. But they’d be even dafter to make it an excuse to hide their leader and the refusal by another Party to debate would only be a one day wonder – as it was in elections prior to 2010.”

    Thank you for the compliment. I’m rarely eloquent if ever. :)

  18. ChrisLane.

    “So Labour is facing a tory government, bang in the centre, with Labour moving to the left. Just like in 1987.”

    So a political party should follow public opinion with the aim of getting elected. Only a fool would try to lead public opinion on a matter of principle. Bribing the voters with their own money is the only way.

    If the right wing foreign owned press are promoting right -wing parties and savaging leftist politicians for their appearance and mannerisms, obviously the only answer is to move to the right.

    So the reason the SNP are failing and only got 44% of the vote is that they keep promoting a fundamentalist separation policy that nobody is interested in and are led by a wee fat middle aged bald guy with funny eyebrows.

    You can’t expect people to vote for that.

  19. The prospect of Ed Miliband defending the Labour cause against those men from the Downing Street Garden, Dave and Nick does not bear thinking about. (I wish I knew how to put up growly faces on here).

    Hardie, Macdonald, Henderson, Macdonald, Lansbury, Attlee, Gaitskell, Wilson, Callaghan, Foot, Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and now ‘ED’

    But good results in footy today, the modern opium.
    AFC Bournemouth won and the ‘poshest premiership supporters’ (Fulham) are happy with Wenger’s defeat.

  20. @Roger M. Thanks.

    @Amber S. The question is who does the turning down. My advice to Ed would be to turn down a three way debate but offer alternative terms which are seen as reasonable. He has to avoid a situation in the debates where every attack he makes on the government’s record is treated to two rather than one rebuttals.

    I suspect Miliband might be prepared to concede as far as agreeing to separate 1-1 debates with both Cameron and Clegg, in the knowledge that there would have to be a 3rd 1-1 debate between Cameron and Clegg alone. (Ideal venue for the latter: Downing Street rose garden, just to stir up memories). It’s then up to Cameron and Clegg whether they go ahead.

  21. richard in norway

    “Nick might be forced to resign, not by the party, or the

    I knew someone who was on the point of a QUANGO Chairman appointment for which he had been for years the natural succesor and obvious candidate.

    His wife and his business partner told him he was doing no such thing.

  22. perhaps EM could insist on inviting to the debates Nigel Farage of UKIP just to stir things up.

  23. I think that we’ll see the back of David Cameron when SamCam gets fed up of living in dreary old Downing Street, wearing faux M+S frocks & playing the role of the PM’s wife. ;-)

  24. One more holiday cut short by riots & it could be Goodbye from Dave, & hello from Boris or George or whoever. :-)

  25. Phil

    It’s then up to Cameron and Clegg whether they go ahead.

    I suspect EM will be offered a threeway debate. If he does not wish to take it on I do not it will worry DC or NC. I do not think it is upto EM to suggest the format of the debate.

    It may not be relevant if one or the other Party is home and dry anyway.

  26. My guess is that Cameron will be the one most likely to want to scupper debate negotiations (while pinning blame elsewhere).

    It might be better to look busy somewhere as PM, rather than face an LD leader eager to claim credit for keeping all the worst instincts of the Tories in check.

  27. Chris Lane

    I have to admit that I’m genuinely staggered that as a Labour supporter, you genuinely believe that the Tories in 87 were occupying the centre ground. The 87 Tory manifesto boasted that “No previous government with eight years of office to its credit has ever presented the electorate with such a full programme of radical reform.” The manifesto accused Labour of being fellow travellers. It baldly refused to countenance sanctions on South Africa at a time when Mandela was well into his third decade on Robben Island. It proclaimed the intention to introduce the Poll Tax.

    The Tories in 87 were driving down state spending to a level unseen since before WWII. They were at the height of their decade long mission to tear up the post-war consensus and replace it with Austrian School economics.

    Today, Cameron’s Government is committed to a policy of cutting the state at a faster rate than Thatcher ever dared countenance.

    Now, I can quite well accept that Tories may well see all those policies as occupying the centre-ground. Of course they would. But to hear a LABOUR supporter arguing that the Tories were centrists in 87 and are so now is rather surreal. It leaves me wondering just what you think Labour’s role ought to be?

  28. I’m losing track of the number of killings reported over the last few days.

    Must be a dozen or so now.

    What on earth is happening?


    @”The Tories in 87 were driving down state spending to a level unseen since before WWII. ”

    1987 State spending 38.4% of GDP

    A figure exceeded only twice in the years 1948 to 1964

    A figure exceeded only once in the years 1998 to 2006

  30. “Armageddon”

    Darling, Ming, Kennedy, DA all gone.


    Colin, brilliant, you are right of course. Mrs Thatcher was not as right wing as her rhetoric pretended, as some of her radicals hoped and as lefties, as I was then, age 32 alleged.

    The GDP tax take in 1990 was higher than it was in 1979.

    The 1976 IMF led cuts were harsher than anything Mrs T tried.

    In the area of education, she closed more selective schools than Labour did.

    LeftyLampton. Sorry, Labour DID have fellow travelling supporters of the USSR, Mao, Trotskyism and Castroism in very high reaches of the NEC, PLP, TUC, CLP’s.

    Roy Hattersley’s WHO GOES HOME? explains the left’s power at this time very clearly.

    Kinnock’s great speech about far fetched resolutions ending in a rigid code, ending with the grotesque chaos of a Labour Council, a Labour council hiring taxis scuttling around a city to hand out redundancy notices to its own workers’ – tells the truth.

    I admit by 1987 the Hard Left were on retreat. But in comparison to the Left, the Tories were in the centre.

    The current PM has placed himself in the new centre, which is more right wing than it was in 1997, which always happens in times of crisis.

    In 1987 Labour was still anti Europe, pro CND policy on nuclear weapons, supported the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

    Yes, the killings are truly awful. Chaos

    LEFTY LAMPTON. You ask what Labour is for. Gaitskell and Blair had it right in my view. Harness capitalism for social justice.

    We know what the Left did to Gaitskell and Blair.

  32. @Colin

    “1987 State spending 38.4% of GDP
    A figure exceeded only twice in the years 1948 to 1964
    A figure exceeded only once in the years 1998 to 2006”

    But a great deal of the state spending during the 1980s was going down a gigantic plughole called social security and was paying for an army of over 3 million unemployed and millions more hidden away on invalidity benefits. Unemployment actually fell during 1987 but averaged well over 3 million for the year, as indeed it did for most of the decade after the 1981 recession. Thatcher was dismantling the state during this period, selling off MacMillan’s “family silver” and under-investing in our shrivelling public services, so don’t be fooled by percentage of GDP spending figures. A good deal of this apparent largesse was being used to mop up the detritus of her social and economic policies.

    And by the way, a good deal of our North Sea Oil bounty went down this very same plughole. Bitter crops were sowed during this benighted period, their unwelcome harvests still being reaped to this day.

  33. Colin

    “Darling, Ming, Kennedy, DA all gone”

    Tory wipeout, Libdems the Orkney and Shetland party

    SNP with majority of Scottish seats and able to offer Lab S&C to defeat the Con/Libdems despite ConLibdem majority in England.

    What cost the Danegeld?

    SLAB profoundly damaged and opposing everything the SNP do whileUK Lab dependent on them for the keys to No 10.

    A faustian choice for UK Labour.

    The West Lothian question on steriods.

  34. The results of Local elections in Glasgow should be of more interest to Londoners than the Boris v Ken show which is of parochial interest.

    That is only if they do as they might, show the continuing implosion of Labour. Otherwise not, and the Scottish local results elsewhere will have no wider sigificance.

    If they signal a continuing decline in support and morale, then the chance of severe Labour lossesto SNP in what were formerly their safest constituencies is high.

    What they lose, the SNP gain, but it isn’t the absolute number of SNP MP’s that matter, it’s the excess of Lab over Con from Scotland, or rather the reduction in the surplus that Scotland gives to Labour.

    The fact that the gain is a social democratic party with its own unique agenda for Scotland means that Labour’s loss is not Con or Con/LibDem’s gain, but by doing a deal with the SNP Lab can get back its Scottish bonus, and more, with SNP existing seats and others taken from LibDem.

    Beware the Scots bearing gifts, EdM please note

  35. @John B Dick

    You’re lacking arithmetic competence in your old age there which is weird. If there is an SNP landslide there will be a tory gvt at Westminster anyway.

    Have you gone senile?


  36. Not if Lab + SNP + PC > ConLibDem+1 (for S&C)

    SNP will take seats off LibDem if nothing else which adds to the anti-Con possibility.

    Put it round the other way if you like. At 38 SNP with reduced LibDem representation, and a hung parliament, SNP + PC can pick the PM.

    That’s OK isn’t it? FPTP rules and it’s a union isn’t it?

  37. It looks like we might be returning to the economic gloom news meme. There’s been some really bad economic data out today from the Eurozone manufacturing sector showing a continued contraction in all 17 countries. The new orders element of the index is still falling, suggesting that future months will still be bad. In the UK, Christmas seems to have fallen flat in the retail sector, with flat sales in December suggesting a big volume reduction once inflation is factored in.

    Europe certainly looks to be in recession now, and it’s really quite hard to see how UK can avoid this fate as well, with the chances increasing that April”s GDP figures will confirm an official recession. With ken Livingston claiming ‘Osbornomics’ has failed, that could be quite a feature in the London mayoral poll.

    The big question has to be how much Labour can capitalise on this.

  38. Colin:
    The apposite part that you seemed to have missed was “…driving down state spending towards…”


    “We know what the Left did to Gaitskell and Blair.”

    Well, I’ve read Spycatcher, but I’m not sure it’s ever been proven that a fellow traveller gave Hugh a 1960s Polonium sandwich…

    As for Blair, you still don’t get it do you? His demise was utterly self inflicted. Had he not thrown his lot in with Bush, he would not have been in serious danger of losing the 2005 GE to the point that he had to promise to skedaddle before seeing out a third term. Had Iraq not fatally undermined him, he could have dealt with Brown (and it’s telling that you consider Brown to be on the left of the Labour party…) as he wished. I’m sure you know what happened to Labour’s VI figures when he ruled out a 4th term, and when he finally left.

  39. @Chrislane1945 – “But I do [maintain?] that that DC is in the centre. Ed has shifted to the left- its all wrong he said.”

    I actually think you are entire wrong in your whole analysis. Ed Milliband made a couple of speeches where he highlighted the fact that elements of big business are immoral and unacceptable. In those same speeches he berated idle benefit scroungers as being morally unacceptable.

    Cameron has said precisely the same things – only today he is reported as saying he will control the bank bonus culture and that this is unacceptable. There are differences, but essentially both men are trying to occupy the centre of gravity of UK politics. Milliband got their first, but Cameron got a better ride from the press.

    I suspect we’ll see Milliband making moves on benefit claimants and other favourite Middle England targets shortly, but I rather suspect it will be within a much more coherent ideologically thought through framework, rather than the jackdaw like picking of disconnecting shiny policy items that Cameron adopts, or your seemingly favoured Blair approach, which was not to have any framework other than engineering tomorrow’s press briefing.

    Whether Ed is the man to win an election from a personality viewpoint is anyone’s guess. Suggesting somehow that he is some 1980’s style wild eyed left winger is frankly laughable.

  40. @John P Dick

    “What cost the Danegeld”

    The coalition’s approval ratings seem as low in Scotland as anywhere in the UK. So, in a scenario, where Labour is just short of a majority, after five years of coalition government the people of Scotland will be yearning for an alternative to what went before.

    Would then the SNP be thanked (other than by Conservatives) for bringing down a UK government offering a moderate social-democratic programme and economic policies which a substantive majority of Scots will view as an improvement on what they have just experienced? If it followed this course, I suggest that its Westminster seats would be quickly back into single digits in the election that followed.

    There won’t be any Danegeld on the table.

  41. Perter Cairns

    Subtract the Scotland figures.


    C 276,
    L 284,
    Lib 11,
    Nat 2,
    Oth 18

    ConLibDem 287, Lab 284 (Oth 18)

    PC 2 SNP 36

    Angus Robertson for PM? Or just deputy?

  42. Phil

    Would then the SNP be thanked (other than by Conservatives) for bringing down a UK government offering a moderate social-democratic programme and economic policies which a substantive majority of Scots will view as an improvement on what they have just experienced?”

    They’ve done that before and it didn’t do them any good, but that was before devolution, and it is, by and large, England that would lose out on social-democratic policies.

    “If it followed this course, I suggest that its Westminster seats would be quickly back into single digits in the election that followed”

    The SNP’s aim is of course to have even fewer seats than that. If it is goodbye from us, England can have whatever government it vootes for.

    Your main misconception about Scottish politics is that NewLabour in not seen as “a moderate social democratic party” in Scotland. It is seen as a Tory-lite party, ready to sacrifice any principle for the support of the right wing press, infatuated with metropolitan wealth, from that ethical Christian socialist Bernie Ecclestone onwards, and too ready to uncritically follow the Americans in any managerial flavour-of-the week gimmick, market fundamentalist dogma, or military escapade.

    You may think that’s unfair, but it is how UK NewLabour is perceived in Scotland. I’m well aware of the many mostly small Social Democratic benefits that NewLabour can claim to have done in their period of office but it doesn’t have the weight to compensate for the other things.

  43. Phil

    You don’t understand the hellish choice the Labour leader might have. If you were he, would you,

    (a) With the support of SNP & PCin S&C , reward your supporters, implement your partiy’s policies ar the cost of devastating the already diminished and demoralised SLAB, and having the tory right an press screaming about the unfairness of a Labour government imposed on England by SNP MPS.

    If you take that option, the price will be high in appeasement of the nats, and when Scotland is gone you will live in a permanent Tory failed state with a non-voting impoverished uneducated underclass along side obscene wealth., and two tier education system and NHS.


    (b) disappoint your supporters and forgo your only ever chance to become PM and let the coalition continue, and when Scotland is gone…..

  44. @John B Dick

    You’re right, whatever its faults I don’t accept your caricature of the last government, more to the point I certainly don’t recognise any of it in the direction of the party under Miliband post 2010, and I don’t even accept that you believe that yourself.

    Nor do I accept your premise that devolution has already progressed to the extent that Scots don’t really care about the colour of the Westminster government. It seemed to matter very much to the Scots who deserted the LDs in May. If the SNP care to follow suit by reviving the “Tartan Tory” tag, scuppering a Labour minority government in 2015 on the faintest of pretexts is your best bet.

  45. “disappoint your supporters and forgo your only ever chance to become PM and let the coalition continue, and when Scotland is gone…..”

    On the contrary, if the SNP contrived to bring down or frustrate the formation of a Labour minority government in 2015, it would probably offer the best opportunity of turning that minority into an outright majority by recovering votes in Scotland.

  46. @ John B Dick

    You need to check the history books. Labour had the most Scottish MPs by a mile in 1997, 2001, 2005 & 2010. So much for rejecting New Labour. :roll:

  47. There was a higher turnout in Scotland for Westminster 2010 than Holyrood 2011. So much for Scots not caring about Westminster :roll:

  48. Phil

    Well, we can’t be sure what is the direction of the party under Milliband yet, but there are plenty voices on here saying “Red Ed” is unelectable. My description of NewLabour was a caricature, but it is one that many on the left in Scotland who have gone, not by any means all to the SNP, but to SSP and the Greens too, would recognise. Scottish Voting Compass supports that general picture. One Labour member known to me whose words and photograph appeard on 2011 election literature took their test and turned out closest to the Green Party. That is further to the left than the SNP and a long way from Labour.

    I’m glad you agree that it is possible for devolution to diminish the interest in the UK parliament, when the issues people most care about are devolved.

    Devomax would enhance that process.

    An expectation (like it or not) of independence would have much greater force in this respect. If we are talking about 2015, then there is time for increasing disengagenment by then because we will have had nine years of divergence between aLab and then Con-led UK government and an SNP somewhat to the left of UK Labour.

    Contrast that with a Labour UK and Labour-led coalition which we had always had previously.

    However there is also the prospect that Scotland will have voted for independence in a 2014 referendum and the 2015 parliament may have to address the means of separation.

    If it comes to that, there will certainly be no SNP’s in the 2020 parliament, they will be celebrating independence and the anniversary of the declaration of Arbroath at the same time.

    If the figures in the poll were the actual figures in 2015, then my guess would be that the SNP would put into Downing St whichever party leader offered the best deal on facilitating independence.

    The SNP will know exactly what we want for the deal. The oil and the debt split, Trident, military bases, passport, currency and borders.

    The UK government won’t be prepared and the SNP will take advantage of that.

  49. AmberStar @ John B Dick

    “You need to check the history books. Labour had the most Scottish MPs by a mile in 1997, 2001, 2005 & 2010. So much for rejecting New Labour. ”

    It wasn’t history we were discussing it was the Electoral calculus projection for 2015

    “There was a higher turnout in Scotland for Westminster 2010 than Holyrood 2011. So much for Scots not caring about Westminster”

    That was then.This is 2015. Not if the door is open and we are on the way out.

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