The weekly YouGov London poll for the Evening Standard shows the race for the London mayor elections now neck-and-neck, with Boris’s lead on the second round down to 2 points. First round voting intention figures, with changes from last week, are JOHNSON 43%(-2), LIVINGSTONE 41%(+1), PADDICK 8%(+1), WEBB 3%(nc), BENITA 3%(+1), JONES 2%(nc), CORTIGLIA (1%). Once second round preferences are re-allocated the figures are JOHNSON 51%, LIVINGSTONE 49%.

The changes are within the margin of error, so I’ll add my normal caveat about not reading too much into it. That said, if the narrowing is genuine, why might it be? Looking at the rest of the trackers, Ken really hasn’t made much progress since last week. The percentage of people thinking he did a good job as Mayor is down, the percentage thinking he did a better job than Boris is down, he is down across the board on the question about each candidates’s qualities. Most of the changes are not significant in themselves, but the increase in voting support isn’t mirrored by an increase in his other figures. My guess, therefore, is that the narrowing of the polls is Ken gaining from the rising national tide of Labour support and the coalition government’s troubles, rather than any improvement in the public’s perception of him personally.

On other questions in previous polls we saw that people were pretty divided over whether Ken would actually deliver on his pledge to reduce bus fares by 7%. This week YouGov asked the same question about Boris’s pledge to reduce council tax, and found similar levels of belief and disbelief – 39% think Boris probably would keep the pledge, 38% think he wouldn’t.

YouGov also asked whether people think Boris and Ken were the right candidates for their parties. Amongst Conservative votes 86% thought Boris was the right choice for the party, with 4% disagreeing. Amongst Labour voters 60% thought that Ken was the right choice, with 25% thinking he was not.

Finally to wrap up the tax story, YouGov asked if people thought the three main candidates had or had not paid as much tax as they should. 27% thought Boris had paid enough tax, 24% thought he hadn’t, 49% didn’t know. For Ken 18% thought he had paid enough tax, 39% thought he hadn’t, 43% didn’t know.

Firstly, note how high the don’t knows are – the row over tax was the biggest issue in the mayoral election for a couple of weeks, and yet over 40% of people don’t really know whether or not the candidates did pay the right amount of tax. Secondly, while Ken scores worse than Boris (the proportion of people thinking he didn’t pay his taxes is 15 points higher than Boris), Boris is not perceived as particularly clean either. Thirdly, even amongst people voting for Ken 27% of them think he hasn’t paid as much tax as he should… yet it’s clearly not something they care about enough to stop them voting for him.

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119 Responses to “YouGov have Boris’s lead down to 2 points”

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  1. First ?

  2. I think to be somewhat expected given the dip in Tory fortunes and the tax issue slightly fading…Boris has underperformed in the debates and even yesterday was hammered by Andrew Neil on how he handled phone hacking…Ken is focussing on the issues and with another 10 days to go,he`s got every chance.

    But I expect another round of dogwhistling from the Boris camp

  3. Apparently Boris kind of admitted in the most recent debate that he could look at cutting transport fares.

    This is a big climb-down, IMO, it gives credibility to Ken’s central policy plank which, until now, Boris has consistently said was impossible. I doubt this will either help or harm Boris but I think some wavering Ken leaners may decide to vote for him based on Boris’s capitulation lending credibility to Ken.

    I guess it will depend on how well Ken’s team use this opportunity. They’ve proved to be pretty astute campaigners so this could be a break-through for Ken – & today’s poll, despite being all within the MOE, will boost morale & a support the narrative that Ken can still win this.

  4. The Boris campaign has brought some trouble on it’s self by refusing to let Boris talk to the general press. Only allowing pre-vetted interviews. Responses to events all seem to come from “A spokesman for Boris Johnson”. And since this is a contest of personalities, that’s a pretty bad thing.

  5. @Amber

    The question here is “Can Boris be tarred with the same ‘Incompetency’ brush as the rest of the Conservative Party”? I fully expect there to be a push to rake over old mayoral stories that mimic the current woes of Government. Then cue the return of “Ken the technocrat, who understands how the trains work”.

  6. Maybe Cameron repeatedly attacking Livingstone at PM’s Question Time has reminded everybody that Boris is a Tory.

    With friends like him…

  7. So Boris’ vote in the 2nd round has gone down 2% in one poll which is well within the margin of error, and already the labour party is popping the champagne.

    It’s an exciting election period. In both London and France, the results are too close to call and either side (left v right) could end up winning both.

  8. Agree Nick I thought the PMQs coordinated attacks on Ken where counter productive as Boris will win if he does despite being the cons candidate so reminders don’t help.
    May just be MOE of course.

  9. BBC: Nadine Dorries MP has said that the PM and his chancellor are “two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others.”

    That’s going to put the cat amongst the pigeons. Does that mean she won’t be getting a cabinet post in any reshuffle?

    It sounds like the sort of stuff that if it came from Labour would be a cue for “class war” cries from the Tories. How widespread is hers on the Tory backbenches?

  10. Agree on DC should not mention Boris from now on, Guilty by association and all that.

    But as Max says MOE territory so still more than hopefull for Boris.

  11. I suspect that Dorries knows which way the wind is blowing for the next election, and has started her Conservative Party Leadership campaign early.

  12. AW’s analysis does rather suggest that had Labour opted for a more unifying candidate they would probably be walking this by now, although this always assumes Ken would take the decision gracefully and back his party.

    I have a London background and was around to witness Ken’s major success with transport under the GLC when he had to fight against Thatcher, who was determined that there would not be an example of a successful subsidised transport system to upset her ideological mind set, so I do have a soft spot for Ken, but only up to a point.

    He’s the wrong candidate today, but the fact that it’s so close demonstrates to me how much trouble the Tories are in within London. Alongside Scotland and the north of England, it tells me that Cameron really is facing a huge task to win a majority in 2015.

  13. NickP – “Does that mean she won’t be getting a cabinet post in any reshuffle?”

    If every other Tory MP died in a freak yachting disaster Nadine Dorries still wouldn’t get a government post :)
    She is a hardcore malcontent – there are probably a dozen or Tory MPs of a similar bent, Peter Bone and Douglas Carswell would be similar: those on the right pissed off enough to openly attack the government.

    Nadine Dorries is probably particularly vocal because her seat is abolished under the boundary changes and, having burnt all her bridges with the leadership, she’s probably out of a job if the changes go through.

  14. @Jayblanc @NickP
    – I find the Nadine Dorres comments very interesting. I posted a while ago on the slightly odd factor the Labour were pasted for their ‘Tory Toffs’ line in the Crewe and Natwish by election, by both the commentariat as well as the voters.

    Now, we have a significant number of Tory MPs saying exactly the same thing about their own leader.

    It also feeds a long held view I have had that we aren’t looking at the same Tory party of old. A few weeks of poor poll performance, and it seems to be outright panic, from the backbenchers right up into feuding cabinet members.

    Mentally, they have completely lost the hard steel edge they had in the 1980’s, where they managed to brush off poll setbacks and periods of unpopularity with a confidence (arrogance?) that always took them through.

    I think ever since 1992 their collective confidence has been shot, and they’ve never recovering it.

  15. The wonderful thing about alternative candidates who would have done so much better in a campaign than the guy who is actually running, is that they don’t have to face any of the problems of actually being the candidate.

  16. Another reason why tax and earnings shouldn’t be divulged as a main stream political move.

    People just don’t know about the personal circumstances to really understand what any of it means.

    It does seem more people think Ken doesn’t pay enough which is likely down to the amount of criticism of him; Boris’s strong defence of himself in a lift; and the whole ‘I pay me and my wife out of my business where my earnings go’ is something the public do connect with as dodgy taxation.

    But as shown it has little affect on the vote. In fact it seems Labour supporters want a Labour candidate, no matter – over a Tory candidate. Which could explain the shift, increasingly the Tories look incompetent and useless – and this could infect the Boris brand.


    This is the classic example of isolating someone and then losing them to other forces. Shes certainly not a sympathetic character in terms of wider politics, but I think once Cameron mocked her (in a horrible public school boy way – I honestly have no idea what he was thinking, it was a dreadful response) she probably found sympathetic ears in the back benches who are growing more and more against Cameron.

    She is spot on with this criticism:
    “No passion to want to understand the lives of others.”

    Which is so spot on. Why isn’t Ed hitting these marks?

    Problem Cameron has is that Boris winning/losing hurts him two ways:
    – Winning? Proof the Tory brand is okay, its the spokesperson whose doing the damage.
    – Losing? Cameron ruined Boris’s chances, Boris is free to cause trouble, and back benchers worry about their own jobs.

  17. @ Anthony Wells

    We used to say the same about Diane Abbot ;-)

  18. Amber – you should’ve had more frequent boundary changes ;)

  19. Hi Anthony,

    I was looking for details on the Likelihood to vote that YouGov have adjusted by. How far down the 1-10 scale do YouGov go? Also, are the cross-tabs for 2nd round reallocation/total already pre-weighted?

    Thanks in advance.

  20. PS: Yes it is in the margin of error, but I’d expect Ken maybe to lose a bit of support with the likes of the Lord Sugar comments.
    Maybe as the election is looming, character is being taken over by policy as the main driving force behind peoples votes?

  21. It’s not so much the attack on Cameron as its nature…the out of touch posh boy. In fact, that has been Ed M’s attack, although he can’t really use “posh boy”.

    This is a Tory using “posh” as an insult.

  22. LOL :-)

  23. @ Fraser

    Yes it is in the margin of error, but I’d expect Ken maybe to lose a bit of support with the likes of the Lord Sugar comments.
    I had that tweet as my reason for Ken’s gain! :twisted:

  24. @virgilio – “And here are the results of the 3d district (arrondissement) of Paris”


    Looking through other districts (on Le Monde site), there are a fair few with Sarkozy/Le Pen in first and second by some margin. Also the odd one or two with Hollande/Le Pen first and second.

    Liberation has the results are displayed on a map (showing only the winner in each district):


    Bizzare that all the Sarkozy districts appear to be in two contiguous geographical bands.

  25. Wonder if Nadine is one of those, of whom Farage nudged & winked on tv the other day?

  26. @Fraser – “Which is so spot on. Why isn’t Ed hitting these marks?”

    Given that the mini collapse of Tory VI started immediately after Ed’s ‘hand’s up how many in the cabinet will benefit from the cut in top rate tax’ jibe, and that most commentators from left and right have agreed that this was Ed’s single best moment throughout his period of leadership, I think you’ve slightly missed the mark here.

  27. SouthLondonNick – it’s done by weighting people who say 10/10 as 1.0, 9/10 to 0.9, 8/10 to 0.8, etc, etc all the way down. Basically it’s the same method Populus use in their GB polls.

  28. AW – Is Dorris particularly right wing like the other 2 you mention?
    Agree though she is staking a claim for a talking head carrer after the next GE as the ‘first former Tory MP who told you so’

    I guess, risk free as her seat is going.

    I did like the PMs put down to Carswell at PMQs as it seemed apt. Bone clearly has a sense of humour and an often self-deprecating one at that; I can imagine having a pint with him.

  29. @Alec

    It is quite possible that should Ed M summon host of angels to the house of commons, strike down the government into salt and ash, and create a new socialist empire… Some would say that he could have done much better.

  30. Jim Jam – they are all firmly on the Tory right, but that doesn’t mean their views are all the same.

    Dorries is very much on the traditional Tory Right and seems most concerned with socially conservative issues. Bone is firmly traditional Tory Right too. Douglas Carswell is harder to classify – he’s more Thatcherite or neo-Liberal and gives particular emphasis to issues of political reform and democracy.

  31. Standard reporting Downing street as responsible for Boris` fall in numbers and also says Labour voters trickling back to Ken…Also more people believe in his central `fare cut` now than last week…This election is going to be close and if Boris loses,there`s going to be a bloodbath in the Conservative party

  32. For me, Dorries’ most telling remark is appended to the bit quoted above where she says, “… and that is their real crime.”. I can’t see any way that this can be spun as a simple misunderstanding, and she does seem to be reiterating and reinforcing a previous comment.
    It’ll be interesting to hear how these comments are treated at PMQs, and whether Ken tries to tar Boris with the same brush.

  33. @Anthony. Thanks very much.

  34. I don’t believe when Cameron said to Dorries, “I know you’re frustrated” that he was trying to be funny or make some sexual aspersion. I think he was sympathising for her Bill being blown out of the water.

    It’s odd how somethimes it’s the stuff that you haven’t done that sticks!

  35. @Amber

    haha, least it got him a headline I suppose. Boris afterall was the ‘unthinkable’ candidate at the last election for many (and interestingly we blame his win on dissatisfaction with the Labour party generally, as others have said – Cameron should stay out of things or it’ll look like a vote for Boris and not a vote for Cameron).


    Whatever the result, Cameron has problems – especially since a Boris win with destruction at the councils raises questions over Cameron – and a Boris lose does this to an even bigger degree (no one is safe, and Cameron infects the Tories supposed big win points – will really make Tories question the ‘who’ll vote Ed?’ logic).

    Hes just generally in a heck of a lot of trouble atm. He can only hope to keep the ship afloat, a bit like Brown did.
    Unlike Brown however he doesn’t have the same roots across the party and so any sort of ‘Rebellion’ would be much harder to stop once it starts.

    One thing that is clear to me anyway, Cameron has for too long passed up any chances for a reshuffle. He has little hope now of getting one through now; at least on his terms. Which won’t help since the cabinet is just as big a problem as the PM in image terms.

  36. “This election is going to be close and if Boris loses,there`s going to be a bloodbath in the Conservative party”

    I agree it will be close. Don’t understand how there’s going to be a bloodbath in the Con party however. Sure we’ll be disappointed, we like Boris, and obviously we want to win, but this is Labour territory. Conservatives getting beat in London is nothing new, we only managed to take over in 2008, when Labour was extremely unpopular, now it’s the tories who are unpopular, if we lose it, we will just shrug our shoulders.

    If we lost some big election in Surrey then there might be cause for concern.

    The North of England, Scotland, Wales and London are all areas where we expect to do badly, losing in any of these, is not really a concern.

    The South West, South East, and just plain old East, are our strongholds, with strong performances necesarry in the west and east midlands as they really are the centre ground we need to win and can win (when we’re popular)

  37. @peewee – “… she does seem to be reiterating and reinforcing a previous comment.

    She wrote this on ConHome in the aftermath of the budget (“liberal elite” harks back to Hague/Portillo battles over modernisation, when Osborne was Hague’s speechwriter).

    “Many people now look at the Conservative party and are reeling with the realisation that this modern party is one they don’t know, didn’t vote for and no longer represents their views. They don’t recognise the values, are confused by the policies and repelled by the elitism,”

    “At the root of much of the catastrophe we have become is George Osborne. He drives the liberal elite agenda.”

  38. It’s a shame this poll was conducted before the TV debate as I think that will give plenty of ammunition to both sides to use, and it will be interesting to see which clips get played again and again.

    The clips I saw showed Ken saying if he couldn’t deliver on his fares pledge he would resign. Which certainly gives his policy more air-play. Boris’s comeback (well, you better resign now) didn’t sound so clever, especially if he’s now considering it.

    Notice Guardian ran their front-cover story of Cameron’s Dad making money from off-shore accounts – would be interesting if similar dirt was found on Boris (or Ken) in the next few weeks.

    @ Max,

    I think Sarko is in a lot more trouble than Boris – I still think it is all for Boris to lose. His worst nightmare would be an energised Lab vote surging and some stay at home Tories, depressed by the recent two months of terrible headlines.

  39. Anthony, is the sample area the same as the “London” subsample in the daily polls? That gives Labour leads ranging from 2 to 20, but more usually in high single figures, so if the area is the same, then either the sample is overweighted for Labour or Labour is doing better than usual.

  40. re Nadine

    She has rather taken over the Teresa Gorman mantle of ‘rent-a-gob’. A Woman of a certain age, frustrated by the fact that the ‘young blood’ women, of the last intake, are streets ahead of her in ability. She’s bitter and cares not what damage she does to her own, in her quest for revenge.

  41. blimey

    Poor Nadine. “woman of a certain age.” Good thing we value experience over youth and how photogenic someone is.

    Politicians seem to be considered past it at 50 now. Kicked upstairs to the Lords.


    @”She has rather taken over the Teresa Gorman mantle of ‘rent-a-gob’”

    Or, as John Major used to call them “The Bastards”

    Don’t see her name mentioned much on UKPR-guess you need to be of a certain age :-)

    I remember her very well-she caused me to do a very bad thing :(

  43. Nick Palmer – the area is the same, but a lot more care goes into the sample for bespoke London polls than what falls out for London in a GB poll (not least, London polls have proper weighting by ethnicity which makes a significant difference)

  44. “I remember her very well-she caused me to do a very bad thing”

    Some sort of, er…self abuse, Colin?

  45. NICKP

    It was NIck-the shame is with me still :”>

    But I came to realise , pretty quickly, how shallow & transient was the brief satisfaction X(

  46. Colin voted New Labour in 1997. Involuntary masochism is how he views it now but his wife thinks it was voluntary & has declared a life sentence of teasing. ;-)

    That London headline voting intention of +17 for Labour. Surely that’s way up there with the 1997 performance. Is it the highest lead that Labour have ever had in a YG London poll?

  47. @Billy Bob
    If you look at the electoral map of Paris, you will see that it is clearly divided between the Western Part (right-wing) and the Eastern Part (left-wing), and this reflects the sociological and economical profile of the capital. In recent years, however (after 2001), the “red” part has begun to “invade” the heart of Paris (1-2-3 and 4 districts). The 3 was always left-leaning, with a strong ecological component, but the 2 and 4 are recent “acquisitions”, and even in the 1st, the most “chic” of all, the results are very close.
    Re the London Mayoral election
    I think that the news are not very good for Boris, I have followed many Mayoral elections both in Athens and Paris (my late father was elected in the Athens Assembly and my late uncle in the Paris one), and my experience tells me that when an incumbent starts to loose steam some days before the election, then it is difficult to surge again, because the anti-incumbent feeling kick in (That is how the former right-wing mayor or Athens lost in 2010 to a perfect outsider, and independent lefty supported by socialists, greens and Democratic Left). The complication in the case of London is that the “outsider” is also an “incumbent” of sorts, and not a new face, so for me the outcome remains perfectly uncertain and will be disputed to the last vote, especially with the AV system.

  48. Colin
    Your sin was greater than mine in 1997! I’ve stopped doing penance though, Norman Baker is still there and a good MP. Is your guy?

  49. A few things to cheer us all up from the Guardian’s excellent rolling Blog today:-

    “Germany industrial sector suffered its sharpest contraction in three years this month. The monthly manufacturing PMI fell sharply to 46.3, from 48.4 in April (on this index, the 50-point mark separates expansion from contraction).

    France’s manufacturing output picked up (to 47.3), its service sector PMI fell to a six month low of 46.4. And in another blow, French manufacturing sector confidence also dropped in April — with factory owners saying they were worried by falling overseas orders.

    The Spanish central bank has reported this morning that Spain has slumped back into recession.

    In its latest monthly report, the Bank of Spain said it believes that the country’s GDP fell by 0.4% in the first three months of 2012. That follows a 0.3% contraction in Q4 2011, and zero growth in the third quarter of last year.

    That’s the message from today’s economic data from Markit, showing that the eurozone’s manufacturing output slumped to its lowest level since June 2009 (46.0 on its PMI survey), while its services sector fell to a five month low (47.9).

    Both sectors suffered from falling orders, and rising unemployment. The decline was driven by poor performances in Germany and France.

    Europe’s stock markets are hitting new lows, as the escalating eurocrisis threatens to provoke a full-blown rout. The major indices have fallen by at least 2%, with the FTSE 100 down 119 points at 5652, and Amsterdam’s AEX down 7.46 points at 301.74.

    The German DAX is the worst performer — down 3.3% today.

    The Euro hits a new 20-month low against the pound of 81.575p.”

    Mark Rutte at the Dutch Palace-no confirmation yet of his resignation.


  50. @Max King

    Did you have a UKIP ‘background’ the other day? Just wondering if I am confused or…?

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