Following the ten point lead from ComRes yesterday tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%. This is the first time Labour have managed a double point lead from YouGov since March last year.

With any shift in the position in the polls it’s natural to look for an explanation, and there’s always a tendency to read what you want to see into the change. Far too often I see people in the comments here confidently ascribing any change in the polls to their own pet issue, or to what they’d most like the public to feel strongly about.

Right now we don’t really now what the cause is, though there are some obvious candidates. First we should consider the longer term trends – it’s always tempting to assume whatever has just happened explains movement, but remember there was already a trend towards Labour before the budget, be it the unwinding of the European “veto” effect, an improved performance by Ed Miliband or the increased prominence of the NHS as an issue.

Secondly there is are the issues in the budget, the two most unpopular being the 50p tax rate and the “granny tax”. Thirdly is the cash for access story that sprang up over the weekend. Fourthly there is the combined affect of all them, the culumulative image of a government in trouble you get when lots of bad news stories come all at once (take for example Labour’s “Black Wednesday” in April 2006 when they were hit with the foriegn prison scandal, John Prescott’s affair and Patricia Hewitt being heckled by nurses in a single day).

Right now we don’t really have enough evidence to judge by – you can’t ask people why they’ve changed their vote as most people are very poor at understanding or reporting their motivations. The best measure is proper tracking data on whether more people see the government as sleazy or corrupt, or close to the rich, or distant from pensioners than they did before. Hopefully that will come in time.

Personally my guess (and it’s not much more than a guess at this stage) is that the “granny tax” has done the most damage. Most people already saw the Conservatives as being more interested in the rich than people like themselves, and people have a low opinion on all the parties on issues of sleaze and favours for donors. In many ways these would only have confirmed and entrenched existing negative perceptions (the Pope does not suffer an anti-Catholic backlash when he talks about God, people tend to already see him as Catholic). However, in the past comparatively comfortable pensioners have been a bedrock of Conservative support – a tax hike specifically hitting a natural group of Conservative supporters who probably did see the Conservative party as one which looked out for people like them is liable to do damage… and lo and behold, in YouGov’s polls since the budget we’ve seen significantly lower Conservative leads in the over 60s break than we are used to (today the Conservatives have a six point lead amongst over 60s, better for them than yesterday, but before the budget double-point leads were the norm). That said there is never a single cause – I’m sure the other factors have made their own smaller contributions too.

592 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%”

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  1. In an era of $125 / barrel fuel it doesn’t seem very clever to base your policies for economic growth on more airports and roads. There is a reason sensible countries push public transport and cycling so much.

  2. @ Wolf
    “There is a reason sensible countries push public transport and cycling so much.”

    Recent governments have tried to promote cycling but while the propaganda reaches the converted it has little effect on non-cyclists. The latter are deterred by: the weather, the effort, the geeky associations, & esp. the danger.
    It’s a question of critical mass? something achieved in N. Germany & in the the Netherlands; in the latter 25% of short journeys are made by bike; in the UK the figure is less than 2%.
    Once cyclists become mass-visible then drivers are less hostile toward them &, most importantly, factor them into their driving behaviour.

  3. OECD predicts UK in recessison with 0.4% fall in Q1 GDP forecast.

    This is a real shocker if it turns out to be correct. I have to say, other forecasters are suggesting modest growth for Q1 but with trouble ahead in Q2, but in the current political climate where the government is under pressure on many fronts, this kind of news is likely to get real traction if it is conformed by the official figures.

    If that iss the case, it’s another quarter passing before the government can start to rebuild their economic plans for the 2015 target election date.

  4. Does anyone know what the VI was just before IDS was put out to pasture?

    In all the granny/dinner/pasty/petrol/polls furore we should perhaps remember that the coalition lost control of the media narative before – I think it was around Dec 10, the time of the student riots. They recovered then, and I think their attitude will be simply to roll up their sleeves and redouble efforts to turn the country around. There is, I guess, no other option.

    The current troubles are self-inflicted and the Govt does seem error-prone. The first mistake was the 2010 “big society” election manifesto, which (IMO) cost them their majority. Then there was the NHS and education reforms, done in a hurry on the back of a fag packet. Well intentioned, but bungled. That still left the economy as the Govt’s (IMO) strong suit, which Osborne somehow contrived to bungle in the recent budget. The breach was followed by a cascade of minor bungles like pasties jerry cans.

    They need to stop the rot or there will be a leadership challenge from the Right by the end of 2013, IMO.

  5. Correction – it’s a 0.1% fall in Q1 – 0.4% on the annualised basis which the Telegraph chose to put on their website headline.

  6. @ALEC

    I think we should look at how accurate the OECD predictions have been in the past (I don’t have data at hand on that). In any case, any number of predictions will make no difference if the actual released figures are positive.

    I think we also need to factor in that the figure may say one thing now and be revised either in or out of recession at a later point.

    And finally: there is no correlation between positive economic numbers (GDP) and swing to incumbents since 1960. So if you are a Tory then don’t bet on the recovery making a difference in 2015, and if you’re Labour don’t bet on continued economic failure making a difference in 2015. And if you’re a LibDem then god help you.

  7. @Alec

    ““For many governments there comes a desperately sad moment after which nothing is ever quite the same again, when trust and confidence evaporates and all that remains is a long battle of attrition”

    And that point is generally when they become a laughing stock. And they’ve already managed to reach it. #francismaudeadvice and #pastygate are both trending on twitter (currently in the top 4), and it’s all ridicule.

  8. Robin

    “And that point is generally when they become a laughing stock. And they’ve already managed to reach it. #francismaudeadvice and #pastygate are both trending on twitter (currently in the top 4), and it’s all ridicule.”

    It certainly is!

    It is not inconceivable that Con’s VI will dip below 30 today or in the coming days. Their reputation for competence is taking a right mauling.

  9. @Sergio – you would be well advised having a read of this –

    The economy isn’t the coalitions strong point – it’s the area where they have made their most fundamental errors.

    Warner’s article isn’t fully accurate – he ignores the fact that Darlings moves on tax treatment of patents was the reasons GSK have just announced a huge investment in Cumbria, and he also forgets to mention that Osborne has dramatically cut annual investment allowances – a real choker for SME’s looking to invest.

    Where he is spot on though is in his analysis that we have enormous corporate sector balance sheets, SME’s are the sector that gets us out of recession through job creation, and capital investment has slumped.

    The entire narrative of access to finance within industry is largely bogus. Even in the small business sector, companies are on balance net depositors, and this is why the various bank lending schemes aren’t functioning – because firms don’t want to borrow. This began with loss of business confidence but has been severely compounded by Osbourne’s own actions on curtailing investment allowances – one of the dimmest moves I can ever recall by a chancellor trying to navigate a way out of recession.

    Osbourne’s positive actions have all been focused on larger firms – the cut in Corporation Tax rates doesn’t help small firms and the changes to taxation regulations greatly benefit multinationals but not smaller UK based firms. The government needs to wake up to this as they are helping to compound a difficult situation and have made matters much worse by failing to grasp the nature of business.

  10. @ Alec

    I made the point yesterday that the government could want people to panic buy fuel before the 31st March, so they get the extra revenues in for the first quarter GDP. i.e to hopefully prevent a recession.

    Is this possible or do the revenues take some time to flow through the system, so the additional panic buying revenues won’t make any difference ?

  11. BoE forecast the economy will zig-zag, by which they mean one step forward & one step back, throughout this parliament.

  12. @ Alec – thanks, interesting.

    It’s good to see the “Torygraph” getting cited so much these days – I have always liked it and felt it does not get quite the attention it deserved.

  13. It has been widely commented upon here how polling has only been reported when there is a Tory lead.

    Anecdotal, but several posters have mentioned that otherwise well informed people are completely unaware that Labour has been ahead in the polls at *any* time since the election – I mentioned how Martha Kearney recently mocked Ed Balls: “No one believes you! You’re doing worse in the polls than at the election!”

    Labour gains in last year’s locals were portrayed as a Tory triumph. SNP gains contributed to the picture of Labour in retreat.

    Lots of people will have a little store of pebbles, but they don’t want to be the first to cast a stone – this latest round of fiascos has given them permission. If polls start to be reported in a more balanced way, we could see the start of “unpopular government” becoming the default narrative.

  14. I was going to add that the really sad thing about this is that I believe it probably stems from too close an association between UK politicians and the mega wealthy.

    Too many dinners with wealthy donors have meant politicians have lost touch with economic reality and are obsessed with the competitive tax rates on company profits. If they had a few pastys with small business men and women they might get a more balanced picture about how the economy functions.

    A quick skim through the figures tells you why this is so damaging. Corporation Tax brought in just £43b in 2010/11, compared to £98b for NI and £153b for income tax. Then there is the VAT you get from people spending the money they have earned. If you want to focus tax cuts and business support on encouraging companies to have their technical headquarters in the UK, you won’t get a great deal of revenue from this. By contrast, if you care a little less about where they pay taxes on profits, but focus on them locating jobs here, that’s where the money is.

    Osborne thinks that by reducing CT he will encourage investment – he won’t, or at least not to any great extent. He will get a few more companies headquartering here, but they can locate production anywhere and still get CT tax reliefs here on overseas losses. Osborne has in fact helped them locate jobs overseas and still get lenient tax treatment.

    Meanwhile, we have company balance sheets equating to half of annual GDP quietly festering in bank accounts, rather than being invested in the UK to create jobs and revenues.

  15. @Robbiealive

    One major problem in the UK is that absolutely no weight is given to cyclist safety in planning. Cycle lanes only happen when there’s a direct order to put them in, they never occur during the normal planning revision, and there’s no push to consider cyclists at all when designing new junctions or altering existing ones. This even means existing cycle lanes will be removed during a change to a junction, because there’s no weight given to preserving them.

  16. On the press… I find the shift in the Telegraph to be fascinating. It’s not that they’ve suddenly relocated to the left, as some might have been mislead by some of Oborne’s columns. But they have clearly moved away from the older ‘High Church Tory’, and are almost apolitically hostile to the ‘NeoCons’. In some ways they are moving to what Thatcher *did* rather than what Thatcher *said*, with a fairly higher dose of social liberalism, and a new distrust of “the market” solution for everything.

    I think perhaps the Telegraph do now represent the centre-right of the country. And the Conservatives should take heed that they as a party are *not in the same place* as the Telegraph is.

  17. OECD has announced estimates of 0.4% decline for UK GDP Q1 2012, declares the UK to be in recession.

    So… Who wants to make a guess as to what Friday’s awful news story will be?

  18. @ JayBlanc
    “One major problem in the UK is that no weight is given to cyclist safety in planning. Cycle lanes only happen when there’s a direct order to put them in” etc.

    Yip. In my 37 years in S. Mancs — whose flatness provides an ideal cycling terrain — the sole planning “progress” has been the addition of cycle lanes to roads wide enough to harbour them. No parking restrictions apply to these lanes; hence, in busy times they are pretty useless.
    Also, as the CTC has shown many times, driver offences against cyclists are treated v. leniently by the police & the courts.
    See for bus driver who deliberately crashed into cyclist in Feb.
    He got 17 months jail for “dangerous driving” which seems lenient for what I would regard as attempted murder?

  19. @ Jay, Alec

    Over the January to March period, economic output fell compared to the previous quarter, at an annual rate of -0.4pc, the Paris-based think-tank believes. That would imply quarter-on-quarter growth of -0.1pc.

    After three months of negative growth at the end of last year, that figure would signal that the UK has double-dipped back into a recession.
    I think that -0.1% can easily be avoided – at least in the ‘flash’ figures. It may be revised downwards, later, when ‘nobody is looking’.

    And the Telegraph headlining with this, I think, is probably a piece of news management. When growth is zero or +0.1%, they can have a banner headline about the UK not actually being in recession – so that’s alright then.

  20. @Jayblanc – it’s actually a 0.1% fall forecast – the higher figure is the annualised rate, so it’s really touch and go. It’s worth mentioning that other forecasters are forecasting modest growth.

    The ONS reckons the service sector grew 0.2% in January, and the PMI index suggests it still grew in February but at a slower rate. Manufacturing seems to have fallen sharply in january (down 0.4%) with the PMI index predicting a further fall in Feb.

    You get the sense that there was a mini bounce on the back of the Eurozone ‘solution’ but that this is now unwinding again as we slip back towards a Euro crisis in Spain.

  21. There’s 2 sides to the ‘cyclist’ story. In Edinburgh, we have hills. Cyclists fly down them: Dark, silent & deadly for pedestrians – we really are afraid of them!

  22. Welsh Borderer:

    “Its 50-55% IMHO. If reds don’t have that by early 2013 its going to be very, very difficult………”

    What evidence do you have for such a figure? The last (and only) time Labour were polling consistently at that level is in the 90s.

  23. @Amber

    That’s the main reason why roads need to be made safer for bicycles. The reason a cyclist ever risks crashing into a pedestrian is when they think the roads are too dangerous for them to be on.

  24. I can’t help but relate the comment from well known Electric Car proponent Robert Llewellyn… “Who’s got Range Anxiety Now?”

  25. This is an interesting report:-

    “the Unite official leading the negotiations over the strike is Diana Holland – whose other job is Treasurer of the Labour Party.”

    Andrew Pierce.

    …and this one :-

    “Between 2007 – when Unite was formed through the merger of Amicus and the TGWU – and the 2010 general election, it gave Labour just under £11 million. Nearly half of all Labour MPs are sponsored by Unite. In return it has a big say in the party’s policy-making. A former Labour general secretary has said: “It is absolutely fair to describe the Labour Party as the political wing of Unite.”


    Everything hinges on Red Len-has he a political agenda to fight “the Tories” , and remind EM who pays the piper………….or not ?

    :-) :-)

  26. The Press has certainly moved against DC/GO.

    None more striking than The Sun.

    But the possibility of a Tanker Drivers strike made me wonder what the Sun had said about Unite recently.

    This was in The Sun only a week ago :-

    DC must be hoping that Red Len pulls the trigger & brings some old Sun front pages back.

  27. I’m pretty much expecting an announcement now from Unite that “While a strike has been legitimately and democratically authorised within the strict labour laws, we are more than willing to come to an agreeable settlement, and do not expect to go on strike in the near future. We ask the Government to maintain calm, and offer any assistance we can in preventing further panic buying.”

    After all, the Government has pretty much done Unite’s job for them in putting pressure on the companies to settle quickly.

  28. Let’s hear it for the Oldies :-

    The most astounding part of which is this statement :-

    “Between 2001 and 2011, all the employment increase for UK-born people was from pension-aged workers, while working-age employment dropped.”

    ….and these are the people that a Conservative CoE has pi**ed off !

    Not good George .

  29. @Colin

    Just a thought. You always preface articles you agree with as ‘interesting’.

    Do articles you don’t like ever strike you as “interesting”?

  30. I think any motorist who knocks a cyclist off their bike, or has a near-miss, should be made to spend a day cycling in traffic. They’d soon get the message! 8-)


    @”putting pressure on the companies to settle quickly.”

    mmmmm. “settle” what I wonder ?

    I thought it was about H&S until I read that??


    @”Do articles you don’t like ever strike you as “interesting”?”

    Oh yes-quite often :-)

  33. COLIN.
    Good Afternoon, in briefly so I am.

    The cans are selling well; 450% up, according to reports, so contra cyclical strategy is working well for the Cons and Lib Dem Govt.

    Deflation: New Recession report and drop in Incomes report.

    Or we might agree to call in stagflation.

    on the Oldies, as you call them: How will they cope with the massive hike in stamp prices?

    Best wishes from a very hot sea side here.

  34. So Ed Davey is telling motorists to keep their tanks ‘topped’ up. Talk about causing long queues at pumps as people keep stopping to ‘top up’.

    Whatever happened to common sense?

  35. @Valerie – don’t knock @Colin for the ‘This is interesting…’ tactic. I do it all the time.

    @Colin – the Unite/Labour position is interesting……Clearly there are major risks here for Ed, but I do wonder how powerful the attempt to link Ed to the unions really is. I suspect it will come down to a judgement as to what the public think about the rights and wrongs of the strike (up to a certain point only) and whether Ed supports it. I see little chance that Ed will do this.

    I suspect there is a fair chance that there will be some kind of settlement, but much as this gives Labour a potential headache, it also represents a great potential opportunity to distance hinself from Unite.

    In fact, Ed’s a bold boy, and I half expect him to come out and say he agrees with the commission on party funding recommendations. I really don’t see that Labour has much to fear from these. They will lose income, but still get strong support from individual working people via the unions, while carving away swathes of income from their main opponents.

    In my view this would be very good for democracy, very good for Labour and very good for the unions.

  36. @Jayblanc

    I tend to agree that the Government has effectively prevented a strike from happening by giving Unite all the impact of a strike without having to actually call one. The police in Dorset are now calling for petrol stations to be closed:

    So whilst the Government has created a run on the pumps our brave boys in the tankers are valiantly fighting through traffic to get those deliveries to petrol starved motorists.

  37. @Alec. Point taken. :-(

    Trouble is I do find your comments more ‘interesting’ than Colin’s.

    Memo to self. Get in the habit of posting info. about articles I disagree with. Could be interesting! 8-)

  38. ALEC

    @” They will lose income, but still get strong support from individual working people via the unions, while carving away swathes of income from their main opponents.
    In my view this would be very good for democracy, very good for Labour and very good for the unions.”

    Interesting thoughts.

    It would also meet head on, the criticism that Labour does not want to change to “opt in” ( 1) because they know that many union members would not then contribute to their union’s political fund.

    I would suggest though, that the key reason why “opt in” will be rejected by Labour is because the Union Bosses will not sanction it.

    It is they who wield the power with the big cheques, and they will want to ensure that donations are not compromised in any way.

    “Our recommendation is that the cap should apply to all donations from all sources, including trade unions. Our
    survey evidence makes clear that the public are concerned about very large donations from trade unions as
    they are about donations from other sources. Our view is that it would only be reasonable to regard trade unions
    affiliation fees as the bundling together of a series of individual payments to which the cap would be applied
    individually if:
    • the unions were to change to an arrangement in which their members were required to opt in to the payment
    of an affiliation fee on their behalf to the Labour Party, instead of opting out;
    • their members were able not to opt in to the affiliation fee without opting out of the other activities financed
    out of their union’s political fund; and
    • certain other conditions were met to prevent affiliation fees being manipulated so as to exert improper

    Kelly recommendations

  39. Colin’s okay.


    @”How will they cope with the massive hike in stamp prices?”

    We will cope with the stoicism & resolve for which our generation is known.

    Just cut back on the G&Ts a smidgen.

    :-) :-)

  41. NICKP

    Ta !!!

  42. Latest news is that the biggest single doner to the conservative party and the one who has had dinner with the PM most is the owner of ‘Petrol can inc’
    It seems he is a down the earth Northerner who likes warmed up Greggs pasties (bought tepid to avoid the VAT in future) with his figs and olives.

  43. Am truly aghast at what a mess Dave has made of the petrol strike. This was, as people like to say these days, an open goal for the Govt. All they needed to do was sound sensible and reassuring.

    Somehow he’s turned an open goal into an own goal.

  44. @Colin – I completely agree with the Kelly recommendations on union funding. Labour should really seize the moment and realise that what they stand to lose is nothing compared to what the Tories will lose.

  45. @ Colin

    You really are becoming less willing to consider anything on its merits, aren’t you?

    The tanker drivers have defined benefit schemes. These schemes were introduced as ‘personal pension plans’ the theory being that they were portable & would move with employees, if they changed employer. If you stop contributing to a particular scheme, you lose any potential bonuses & often the first year of your conts to a new scheme are eaten up by the ridiculous set-up & commission charges.

    You know this. And yet you think that the drivers are being unreasonable in expecting their new employers to pay their conts into an existing scheme, instead of starting a new one. It is easy for employers to do it. Employers who refuse are simply being lazy/ bl**dy-minded.

    And it is a health & safety issue. Drivers who can’t afford to retire because their pensions have been ruined will keep working until they are forced to retire due to actually failing a medical. Is that what you want simply because employers can’t be @rsed setting up direct debits with 2 or 3 pension companies instead of just one?

  46. Jay Blanc – It’s the Bufton-Tuftons!! (Remember them? Hi Ken ;)

    The Telegraph and the Mail are still just as conservative, just not as Conservative. They both detest Cameron with a passion for being all spin and no trousers.

    “Decent” old school Tories like Redwood, Tebbit, Lawson, Mackaye, Clark and Lamont have been speaking out fairly consistently – Even Brogan.

  47. Reading Anthony’s intro to this thread reminds me that it is always a “general impression” of a government that shifts opinion long term, whereas headline issues move them about short term. My biggest concern at the moment is that the Coalition is beginning to look and sound cock-up prone, either through clumsy handling of issues or mis-management of news (leaking all the good stuff in the budget, but leaving just the “granny tax” as a surprise! Whoever was responsible for the news management of that should be taken into the back garden of Number 11 and metaphorically shot!). I do not think the government is actually doing anything more or less wrong than they have over the past two years – it just looks and sounds like a shambles – and that is what is long term potentially fatal in terms of VI!

  48. tony dean this isn’t a normal one party government its a coalition. understandably the lib dems wanted to leak pre budget the parts of the budget which they wanted to claim credit for. the problem for osborne is the only new things that were revealed in the budget were lowering the 50% tax which favoured the rich and the granny and pasty tax. news management is difficult for the tories as obviously the lib dems don’t want the tories to claim credit for good announcements. this problem won’t go away.

  49. One of the great untold stories of British politics, and I think it is directly connected to other symptoms of political apathy and disengagement, such as declining voter turnout, is the catastrophic decline in party membership over the last 40 years or so. This goes to the heart of the problems all parties have encountered with funding, driving them to seek income from other means as the cash flow from membership subscriptions dries up to a virtual trickle. Of course, it goes beyond mere subscription revenue because moribund membership levels greatly reduce party fund raising initiatives and social events. I haven’t seen any figures or balance sheets, but I would have thought that the proportion of revenue that the major political parties now obtain from their membership rolls, as opposed to other means, is almost derisory. Is it any wonder, as the cost of campaigning soars, that they go wherever they can to obtain funding and sponsorship?

    60 years ago, the Conservative and Unionist Party had a membership roll of 2.8 million. It now stands at 250,000 and, since Cameron became leader, the decline has accelerated markedly (Max of Kent, you’re not alone!). Labour has seen similar declines and although membership has risen quite significantly since May 2010, it’s still at a figure that is only a fraction of what it once was in the heydays of the 1940s and 50s. As recently as 1997, at the height of Blair-mania, it stood at over 400,000, but the current figure is just over 200,000 I believe.

    I’ve always been an advocate of the state funding of political parties and I think the day draws ever nearer when the case for it becomes unarguable. We need to cap spending too so that electioneering doesn’t become merely a battle of war-chests but, most crucially of all, we need to revitalise our politics from top to bottom. If the widely seen Cruddas sting video does one good thing it might be that it finally convinces an apathetic public that the Aegean Stables that is party political funding must finally be cleansed.

    How long can we go on saying that we can’t go on like this?

  50. @Crossbat11 – I meant to add to my last post that Labour should agree with the Kelly report not because it would be good for them, but mainly because it’s the right thing to do.

    I would argue that there are push and pull factors in declining involvement in party engagement. One of the key push factors is the simple fact that both main parties, and increasingly now the Lib Dems – appear to detest their own supporters and opt to ignore them and triangulate against them for the swing voters they think they need.

    This is a product in many ways of the FPTP voting system, which not only means parties can take their base more or less for granted, but also ensures that other new parties find it almost impossible to get anywhere, further exacerbating the slack and lazy approach to their own supporters that the main parties can get away with.

    My view is that we need to ban all donations from businesses, limit personal donation to £5,000 preferably, and ensure that parties need to rely on engaging people, rather than barons, in order to function.

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