The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here. In line with the topline figures showing the Conservatives dropping below 30%, the rest of the poll was also pretty miserable for the Tories.

David Cameron’s approval rating is down to minus 31 (from minus 23 a week ago), this is the first time it has dropped below minus 30. Asked more specifically about Cameron’s strengths and weaknesses there is a mixed picture. 41% think he is strong, 44% weak; 42% think he is competent, 47% incompetent; 42% likeable, 46% dislikeable. Where he falls down on being out of touch – only 23% think he is in touch, 69% think he is out of touch (and in a subsequent question, half of respondents think he is out of touch because of his background).

On the economy questions there is a clear negative impact from the return to recession. The economic optimism tracker (the proportion of people who think their finances will get better minus those that think it will get worse) is minus 49, the lowest since the end of last year. The proportion of people thinking that the government is managing the economy well is down 5 points to 26%, the first time it has fallen below 30. Asked why they think the economy is back in recession 32% blame the government the most (including a majority of Labour voters), 29% blame the Eurozone crisis the most (the most popular answer amongst Conservative voters), 17% blame the last government the most.

On the semi-regular question YouGov ask about economic strategy 31% now think the government should stick to their present strategy of prioritising the deficit, compared to 41% who think they should concentrate on growth instead. Despite people apparently preferring Labour’s policy, Cameron & Osborne are still more trusted to run the economy than Miliband & Balls, by 36% to 28%. Asked specifically about the future of George Osborne, 45% think he should be replaced compared to 24% who think he should stay – the answers are largely on partisan grounds however, 71% of Labour voters want him to go, 65% of Tory voters want him to stay.

Finally there was a specific question on Jeremy Hunt, 59% of people think he should resign, 14% think he should stay. Even amongst Conservative supporters more respondents thought he should go than stay (by 36% to 33%).

135 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times on the return to recession”

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  1. I think that the out of touch figures are the most telling, it means that if the economy is doing badly (as it is and looks set to continue to be) then the chances of real antipathy as in the 1990’s building against the Tories is is high, this set of election may not be the worst for the Tories between now 2015…

  2. chrislane might want to note that the Roman Catholic chruch has just remembered some Christian teaching:

    “One of Britain’s most prominent religious figures, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has attacked David Cameron for immoral behaviour and for favouring rich City financiers ahead of those struggling on lower incomes.”

  3. No mention that Miliband is up to -38, from -46 last week?
    Plus 8 compared to last week, equal to Cameron’s minus 8.

    Gap in approval ratings goes from a 23 point lead to a 7 point lead. That’s a pretty big closing of the gap.

    If Locals give Labour a boost next week and Tories continue to slide, we could actually see Miliband ahead of Cameron.
    Just a couple of months ago this scenario would have been seen as extremely unlikely, if not impossible.

  4. Ukip support has been rising by small increments at general elections (0.9% at the 2010 GE to 3.1%) compared to their dramatic performance in EU elections. Various estimates (the Mail, Telegraph) put Ukip’s vote share at more than the margin by which the Consewrvatives lost 10-20 marginal seats in 2010.

    This was dispite their then leader Lord Pearson ordering Ukip candidates to stand down in constituencies where there was a eurosceptic Tory (not all obeyed), openly campaigning for a Conservative victory (“putting Country before Party”) and offering Cameron (by way of Strathclyde) a deal to drop all Ukip candidates in return for an in-out referrendum.

    Cameron would rather do a deal with the Orange bookers going into the next election, but probably up to two thirds of his MPs will be more sympathetic to Ukip pressure.

    Contrary to the position in 2004 when the Tory party poached back one of Ukip’s major financial backers, Stuart Wheeler (a £5m Tory donor with extensive contacts, expelled in 2009) is now Ukip treasurer, and there has been a steady trickle of defections, including MEP Roger Helmer and Lord Hesketh,

  5. Those who say Boris Johnson is a certainty must take note…A Survation poll in the Mail on Sunday has found a third of people inclined to vote for Boris before the Hunt Scandal came to light are now less likely to do so…That`s a big number and they may not vote for Ken,but if they give second preference to another candidate then that`s a lost vote for Boris.

  6. The worst bit for Cameron is the perception of being out of touch ” He just doesn’t get it” Only a 5 word soundbite but it will, I think, dog Cameron all the way to the next GE.
    Stillnot sure UKIP will get that close to the LD’s in overall vote share on Thursday…going to be an interesting night.

  7. @Smukesh

    I guess it depends on what people mean when they say they aren’t going to vote for him. I suspect that many of them will vote him second preference, viewing their first preference as their main vote. If the vote ends up with him it will make little difference.

    Of course the reality is that there is always a drop out from P1 to P2, so in a close election that would make a difference.

  8. I think the worst bit is Hunt. Cameron should have referred it to be looked at, now we’ll see this all over the media until Thursday. Now he is officially having to deny a Fuastian bargain with Murdoch, while not referring Hunt for investigation.

    What chance Ken winning by a clear margin as Tory voting intention falls off the cliff?

  9. The movement in (dis)approval of DC and EM is astonishing.

    Surely this is attributable to the revelations about Hunt and BSkyB? And in particular DC’s apparent weakness in requiring an investigation into whether JH has breached the ministerial code.

    DC’s vaunted fight back faded quickly.

    There must be growing dissatisfaction in the Cons with him.

    Unless D can turn things round I think the party will replace him and hope to win the next GE on the basis that joe public are still unsure about EM and Lab.

  10. mike n

    we seem to think alike. Either both geniuses or blind partisan zombies. I prefer to think the first.

  11. @Tinged Fringe

    “No mention that Miliband is up to -38, from -46 last week?
    Plus 8 compared to last week, equal to Cameron’s minus 8.”

    My pet theory, loudly decried by all those, of all political hues, who felt that a Miliband-led Labour Party would/will never be elected, is starting to gather some polling evidence now. Respective leadership ratings are inter-connected and should not be viewed in isolation. We shouldn’t be remotely surprised to see Miliband rise as Cameron declines, or vice versa, and the more difficulties that Cameron encounters the better Miliband will look, despite what he may or may not be doing. Look at this latest poll. What has Miliband done recently that would have boosted his rating by 8 points apart from not being Cameron? Nothing, I would contend, and I fully expect him to continue to benefit accordingly; a sort of negative, boost if you like.

    It’s a bit like a side that narrowly avoids relegation. Their points tally, seen in isolation, may be very poor and they may have played abysmally all season, but if there are three sides with less points, they survive. They’ve finished top of a very bad team league. (I hope you won’t think my relegation metaphor is anything to do with Villa’s current predicament, by the way!)

    Rest assured, if Cameron and his government have failed by 2015, and the electorate want rid of them, then Labour will be elected, Miliband or no Miliband. Rule 1 of electoral politics in operation.

  12. Monday’s YouGove is going to be interesting. If Con is below 30 then they can’t be far from rock bottom.

    How low can the Tory support fall?

    Was the 31% they got in 1992 the lowest ever at a General Election?

  13. @MickP

    Do you mean 2001?

  14. No I meant 1997


  15. Some of my fellow reds are getting over-excited. First I can tell you from the doorstep in Wales that Labour are far from forgiven, and there is no sign of the (minority) Tory vote here collapsing. The LibDem vote is another matter – wipe-out beckons. Second, if you look at the latest YG London cross-break its only 42-38 to Labour and UKIP 2nd prefs would give it to Boris. What do you think the break would have been on a Mayor question ? 48-34 perhaps? Remember it’s UKIP not Labour who are benefiting from ConDem problems now. Sorry to be a killjoy, my side !

  16. It’s true that if a good chunk of Labour voters vote for Boris then he’s likely to win comfortably.

    Boris will have to attack his own Government to win…which is what he is doing I think.

    Even so, even so. What is this feeling I have that Ken will make it?

    (is it called delusion?)

  17. whopps, sorry I meant 38–42 (to Boris) on the Mayor question

  18. Personally I think London will go to Johnson. These 1 on 1 elections usually are far more dominated by personality and he has managed to separate himself from the Tories in the lectors minds

    I have posted before that I think he is an amoral opportunist and he has proved a poor mayor in delivering things well but a fairly benign press and his buffoonery seems to be successful – better him to cock up London than be PM.

    Cameron must be desperate for Boris to win as he will not want him lumbering about prepositioning himself for next Tory leader.

    The problem is for the Tories is not that they are showing signs of unpopularity (not unrecoverable though) but what to do about it. There is no benefit from replacing the PM (no candidates), they cannot move further to the centre because they have already gone as far as they can and they can not tack to the right due to the Coalition.

    I do not see Cameron as being strong enough to be able to take on his party and win, so to bolster his own position I think he will start moving right (bigger cuts, lower taxes, drop some of the more liberal policies, euroscepticism) and then put the ball in Clegg’s court

    I think moving to the right would be the smart move for him (in terms of solidifying his leadership) and he will be banking on the LD lack of backbone and fear of a GE to keep him in power. I am not sure, reading LDV, that the LD membership would be unhappy for a move rightwards

  19. Crossbat

    “Respective leadership ratings are inter-connected and should not be viewed in isolation.”

    True up to a point. Although the truly depressing aspect of the post-10 period is that all 3 main leaders have been tightly embraced in a dance of death, ratings-wise.

    In a partisan way, I can take pleasure from the slow demise of Cameron. As a UK citizen (I refuse to call myself a “Subject”) I find it thoroughly alarming that our leaders are such insignificant and poor quality figures. I THINK our democracy is strong enough to cope with mass disillusion in the Electorate, but it’s not a given. I really do fear what would happen if a genuinely visionary, charismatic character emerged from the far fringes.

  20. NickP
    I’m content to be a genius, too.

    Decisive action by DC to refer JH for investigation for breaches of the ministerial code would/could improve his (dis)approval rating.

    I diagree about EM…he has become more assertive and confident (especially attacking DC, GO and the Gov) and I feel people are noticing this.

  21. I just look back to the pmq’s when Ed had the temerity to suggest Brookes should resign. It all looks very different now. 8-)

  22. @VALERIE
    `I just look back to the pmq’s when Ed had the temerity to suggest Brookes should resign. It all looks very different now.`

    He showed bold leadership and over time the contrast with Cameron keeps increasing.

  23. Just watched the Daily Politics

    I find Andrew Neil one of the better political commentators but who are this 3 idiots he has at the end?

    Completely Londoncentric, young, arrogant, right of centre fools who have no idea what is happening outside their coccooned world

    Unfortunately their type influence strongly the media in this country and they are of the same stock as the leadership of all the 3 main parties

  24. @BAZSC
    `I find Andrew Neil one of the better political commentators but who are this 3 idiots he has at the end?`

    Two of them have decided that whatever happens come May 3rd,it`s Ed Milliband`s fault.I was also slightly shocked by Andrew Neil`s huge display of Tom Watson`s and Lord Sugar`s utterances on Ken…It seemed an attempt to influence the election…I usually find Andrew Neil quite balanced.

  25. NickP
    While 1997 was the Conservatives worst year since 1885 (as far as the figures I have go), as far as VI goes, 2001 was actually their worst year – but that was hidden by turnout (caused by a drop in almost 3 million votes for Labour).

    In 1997, the Tories got 21.9% of the UK electorate, in 2001 it was 18.8%. This was slightly lower than Brown in 2010 (18.9%) or Foot’s 1983 (20%) and their lowest % of the electorate since 1918 (when turn-out was 57% and their were in coalition with the liberals – 18.5%), excluding 1918, their worst % of the electorate since 1885.
    Their total votes were 9.6 million in 1997, in 2001 they were 8.3 million (lower than Brown’s 2010 8.6 or Foot’s 8.4 in 1983), their lowest total votes since 1929 (8.2 million).

    To put 1997 in better context –
    % of the vote
    Lab 43.2%, Con 30.7% to Lab 29%, Con 36.1%
    % of the electorate
    Lab 30.9%, Con 21.9% to Lab 18.9% (-12), Con 23.5% (+1.6)
    Total Votes
    Lab 13.5 million, Con 9.6 million to Lab 8.6 million (-4.9) to Con 10.7 (+1.1)

  26. So to answer the question with more words than figures, had Labour’s vote dropped only slightly 1997-2001, then the Tory VI would have been a lot lower than 31.7.

    Had Labour’s votes dropped by a million, for example, Tory VI would have been 29.5 (although that would have made Labour VI 44.9 – higher than 1997).

  27. Good to see EM’s ratings start to rise – his calm, measured approach might just be starting to filter through to the public.

    Heartening also to see the blame for the recession being laid at the governments door & the mantra of ‘It’s all Labours fault’ is finally beginning to subside – hopefully the public are waking up to the fact that Labour have not been in power for 2 years therefore to continue to blame them is hardly credible.

  28. @KB

    “Heartening also to see the blame for the recession being laid at the governments door & the mantra of ‘It’s all Labours fault’ is finally beginning to subside – hopefully the public are waking up to the fact that Labour have not been in power for 2 years therefore to continue to blame them is hardly credible.”

    Trying not to be partisan.

    You’re kidding, right?

  29. @Welsh Borderer

    As with most cross-breaks (for reasons Anthony has made clear recently), the London figure of Lab+4 is clearly inaccuate. We’ll have to wait for the YG London poll tomorrow to find the accurate London voting figures (prob Lab +10 to +20).

  30. The mood of the nation quiz:

    Hopefully enough people find out about it, and we get a decent return of results. Share it around folks!

  31. Previous link moderated (Beeb?)

    The mood of the nation quiz:

    h ttp://

    Hopefully enough people find out about it, and we get a decent return of results. Share it around folks!

  32. @Smukesh

    “I usually find Andrew Neil quite balanced.”

    What, the once President of the Scottish Young Conservatives and former editor of a succession of right leaning newspapers?? Have you ever seen how he tees up Labour bashing or Tory favourable questions for Portillo on his Thursday night show? He’s clever, a combative interviewer and a slick presenter but balanced he is not. I prefer him to Nick Robinson, but he comes from a similar stable

    @Lefty Lampton

    I take your point about how depressing it is to see the low esteem in which all of our political leaders are held and it may well be a factor in the recent Bradford West by-election result and the forthcoming Mayoral election in London. My point was that I don’t think, and never have to be honest, that Miliband’s current approval ratings will have much say in the outcome of the next General Election. General Elections are normally referendums on the incumbents not a reasoned evaluation of the alternatives. 1997 was an extraordinary election where, atypically, high disdain with the incumbents coincided with genuine enthusiasm for the alternative. Hence the landslide, but it was a largely one-off occurrence.

    Now, if you asked me if any of this was good for the health of our politics or will in any way enthuse a new generation, I’d have say, resoundingly, that, no, it won’t. I thought Peter Hitchens was good on this on the Nicky Campbell programme this morning. He was withering about Cameron and the current crop of politicians generally, and totally eviscerated his fellow right wing guest, Bruce Anderson, who banged the same old weary tribalist drums. I don’t share any of Hitchens political views, I have to say, but he has a point about the growing dislocation of mainstream politics from the public it claims to represent. Some of it, undoubtedly, is caused by the lack of inspirational politicians and, to that extent, the dire ratings for Cameron, Clegg and Miliban should worry us all. I agree with you about that.

  33. Re Andrew Neil. I find that he is mostly balanced He just does not like certain politicians and cannot hide this. He can be just as tough on Tories, as he is on Labour interviewees.

    One person Andrew Neil appears to dislike is David Cameron. But this appears to be mutual and DC has not often been interviewed by Neil.

  34. “I usually find Andrew Neil quite balanced.”

    Wasn’t Andrew Neil editor of the Sunday Times when the paper denied HIV was the cause of AIDS….

  35. Andrew Neil, for all the faults of his past, is today the country’s finest political commentator/interviewer (in my humble opinion)

  36. NICK P.

    Good Afternoon and thank you!

    Yes, a good statement at last. The gay letter was not!

    You will probably know of 1891 Rerum Novarum by Leo X111 which was a critique of capitalism, Pacem in Terris by John xxiii and the JPii documents on poverty etc.

  37. Andrew Neil? Balanced? No.

    Jeremy Paxman was balanced. Although.a Tory, you.would never have guessed from his interviews who he supported. I could never fathom whether this approach was based on impartiality or his own supercilliousness.

  38. Gary Gibbon deserves a mention, his interviews of Cameron/Osborne before the election were as interesting as the Paxman ones, if not as high profile or flamboyant. From his Wikipedia page it looks as if he did not go university, let alone Oxford or Cambridge, nevertheless he is way more perceptive (and objective) than many of his BBC counterparts.

    His latest thoughts on Cameron’s denial of a “grand deal”:


  39. For me it’s John Pienaar in the political commentator stakes. Nice, relaxed, interesting and never seems to have an axe to grind. Nick Robinson however…. ;-)

  40. @ Paul Bristol

    Totally agree about John Pienaar; an excellent political journalist with no discernible party political leanings.

    For the Andrew Neil fans amongst us, and I don’t argue about his obvious journalistic skills, here are some other interesting entries on his CV: –

    – Currently Chairman of the Spectator Magazines, a stable of right leaning publications.

    – Member of the Conservative Club whilst at Glasgow University.

    – Research Assistant for the Conservative Party in the 1970s

    – Former editor, for 11 years, of the Thatcher supporting and Murdoch owned Sunday Times when, amongst interesting editorial stances, he employed the Holocaust denier, David Irving

    – Former close friend and confidante of Rupert Murdoch during his long time with News Corporation, although, listening to Murdoch Senior at the Leveson Inquiry last week, they appear to have now fallen out rather badly!

    Now, none of these things are intrinsically wrong in any way, apart from the employment of Irving maybe, and he’s perfectly entitled to his own political views and leanings but, at a time when there are pitifully few political programmes on BBC, do we want a man with this degree of political bias fronting three of them?

    I only ask the question.

  41. We should not loose sight of this present Goverment still has 3yrs to run and this set of poll figures is only based on the last couple of weeks as we all know it would only take a labour scandal or an improvement in the economy for those ratings to do a complete about face as we’ve seen during the last few months.
    As much as we are interested in politics the general public has the attention span of gnat or maybe very little interest and all the present woes will not mean a jot come election time. Nobody can forsee what the problems for the Goverment will be in its last year but we can be sure it wont be anything to do with the pasty tax, confusing people over buying fue,l student grants or even 45% tax for the rich. My guess Economy Economy Economy.
    together with who comes across best on TV debates because that will be the time most floating voters will be making up there minds after all.

  42. @Crossbat 11

    I rather doubt he would have known about Irving’s leanings at the time. That come out many years later.

  43. Victor Firman

    Although you are right about there being 3 years left I think it is unlikely there will be a Labour scandal sufficiently serious to hit them too hard – most scandals tend to effect Government more than the opposition.

    I although think the economy picking up is unlikely – even Osborne is no longer predicting a recovery before 2015 and most of the things that matter to the electorate are lag indicators so there needs to be at least 1-2 years of sustained recovery before these factors are touched (Major situation in 97)

    Personally I think the likelihood is things getting worse, mainly around the continued coherency of the Coalition – both side may think (as I do) they would be electorally better off without the other.

    The Government has to take back charge of the situation – there is a sense of loss of control at the moment – and make some bold decisions. Unfortunately, bold decisions are difficult when you are constrained within a Coalition

  44. The tide has definitely turned – as people blame this recession on the Tories, any continuing bad news is more likely to pinned on them too.

    I can still see why the Cons are trusted more on the economy. It is one thing to say “the current mess is your fault” it’s quite another to say, “we’d prefer the other guys in charge”. This may be as much about personalities as policies (in that Lab haven’t actually outlined a coherent economic policy yet … although of course this is partly deliberate.

    Cameron seems to have taken another careful aim at his foot and shot at it in his decision to stick by Hunt. There is now bound to be another two weeks of Minister for Murdoch stuff – we saw it with Fox, once a majority of your own side thinks he should go, it’s only a matter of time. If he did resign soon, I’d expect there to be a bit of reel in of the VI lead, just in time for the locals.

  45. And just to lower the tone, Chelsea 6-1 today with a Torres hat trick to boot, another comeback kid written off earlier by the cynics. Anyway, I am not uncomfortable with the current polling, having been around long enough to know that 3 yrs is a long, long, time in politics, and certainly the behaviour of the electorate can swing dramatically in months let alone years.
    As far as BoJo is concerned, a fairly comfortable win is inevitable, IMO, he is getting all the exposure and doing all the right things. Unfortunately for KL, he has chosen to be seen with Ed M too often, and the tax scandal has hit him hard, of course he has his constituency, but it is hardly enthusiastic, and probably unlikely to turn out in sufficient numbers to make a fight of it.
    The, ‘tittle tattle ‘ of the Hunt affair is unlikely, IMO, to have any real effect on the Mayoral election, London, whilst struggling in parts, is mainly thriving, with plenty of work for people that want it. My ironing lady came all the way from the old communist paradise to work here, along with a couple of million others, and loves it. I know that everyone wants a satisfying, fullfilling, role, but unfortunately life gives you back what you put in, so for the poor Brits it’s a grind or dependency………… sorry. :-)

  46. @ BAZSC

    The problem is for the Tories is not that they are showing signs of unpopularity (not unrecoverable though) but what to do about it. There is no benefit from replacing the PM (no candidates), they cannot move further to the centre because they have already gone as far as they can and they can not tack to the right due to the Coalition

    This is hartd to accept as the current policies are well to the right of any thing even the 1979 to 1990 Tories attempted. So to say that DC has moved to the centre is way off the mark. The reason the LD VI are being hit is that they are being used as cover to get more right wing policies through and their core vote knows this and that is why they have lost the core vote and retained the “tory ” orange bookers.

  47. Can I just wake everybody up and point out that ED:

    Despite being at the zenith of a HUGE set of crises for the Tories (a confluence of events/ maelstrom unmatched in recent times) and with a bare policy cupboard (so nobody is threatened or annoyed with him) he is STILL at MINUS 38 !!!! That surely is the remarkable leadership stat…..?

    Anyone thinking that the current situation is proof of a ‘growing inevitability that EdM will lead Labour to a majority’ is being shockingly (or willfully) complacent.

    The first real act of EdMs leadership is going to be Labours detailed plan to manage the deficit alongside a more activist industrial policy and less brutal welfare policy. It will involve significant cuts still- though not the same as ConLib.

    It’s not going to be popular with quite a few on here when it (eventually) happens/ the two Eds take their deep breath and make their play.

    It wil p*ss of the lefties (some of whom will stomp off…again) just at the time a majority (but not all) UKIPers are returning to the Tories.

    The next election is still most likely to be a hung parliament.

  48. @ Victor,

    Whilst I agree that much of the current flim flam (e.g. Jeremy Hunt and Fuel protests) will not be in people’s minds I am 100% certain the 50p rate will be a central issue, or more generally how the tax burden should be shared between rich and poor. And the issue of whether the pain was really shared out, will be front and centre.

  49. NICKP

    @”“One of Britain’s most prominent religious figures, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has attacked David Cameron for immoral behaviour and for favouring rich City financiers ahead of those struggling on lower incomes.”

    “God think human beings should prosper and be autonomous.
    Just a few years ago an entrepreneur was viewed as a criminal. Today businessmen are viewed as contributing to society”

    Fr. Yosvany Carvayal
    Roman Catholic Priest.
    Carlos y San Ambrosio Seminary.

    Autres temps autres moeurs………or lol as Crossbat is won’t to say :-)

  50. @ Rob Sheffield.

    The most sensible post from the left on here for some time.

    Will it stop the noises from the bedroom as each new poll fuels the orgasmatron?

    Doubt it.

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