With ICM’s poll earlier today showing a boost for the Conservatives and most other polls showing Labour increasing their lead since the locals, Populus’s monthly poll for the Times is somewhere inbetween, showing no significant change at all since the local elections. Topline figures are CON 33%(nc), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 10%(-1) Others 16%.

UPDATE: The rest of Populus’s poll asked about Britain’s EU membership, economic policy and the perceptions of the party leaders. On the EU 21% said they were positive about British EU membership compared to 31% who were negative. On economic policy, in what appears to be a forced choice question 49% said that the government should stick to its current policy of prioritising dealing with the deficit by 2017, 51% thought it should slow the pace of cuts.

On the party leaders, Populus repeated an exercise they did a year ago, giving people a list of words and asking which they most associated with each of the party leaders. A year ago Cameron scored best on being determined amd arrogant, Miliband and Clegg both weak and out of his depth. We’ll have to wait for the details of the poll to see the full changes here, but according to the Times’ write up more people see Cameron as out of touch than a year ago, but he continues to be seem as standing up for Britain. Miliband’s top ratings continue to be weak and out of his depth.

Meanwhile, the daily YouGov poll in the Sun has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 44%, LDEM 7% and Others 16% (with UKIP in third place on 8%) – very typical of YouGov’s polls since the local elections.


163 Responses to “Populus/Times – CON 33, LAB 41, LDEM 10”

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  1. Howard – sometimes, not always (if there is a long list of options where people may not bother to read to the end I always randomise. Shorter questions where they can easily take them all in at once, not always)

  2. R Huckle

    I’ve a feeling that with most telephone polls the interviewers are reading the questions off a computer screen and entering up the responses as they go. So it would be easy to randomise the order of the options eash time. In a fixed order list, I’d also imagine that the first and the last items would get a boost. Anthony might be able to confirm these impressions.

    What really amazed me about the ICM question was the wording of the options. The question was OK (though I suspect some pollsters would provide more explanation):

    You may have seen or heard that official forecasts suggest that Britain may have entered a “double dip” recession. Which one of the following do you think is the single most important reason for the latest slowdown

    But the options were:

    Debts which the last Labour government racked up to finance unsustainable spending

    Chill economic winds blowing in from the troubled Eurozone

    Banks refusing to provide loans to firms that they need to invest in their business

    The sharp cuts in public expenditure being introduced by the coalition government

    Other

    Don’t know

    Whatever happened to neutral language? (Just because it’s biased all over the shop doesn’t mean it’s neutral). And the ambiguities and cliches are dire. “Chill economic winds” my a***.

  3. And for my next public service announcement today, the Populus tables are here:

    http://www.populus.co.uk/uploads/18-20%20May%202012%20Times%20Coalition.pdf

  4. Re Cameron punching the air, I have to actually question his ‘passion’ about this. Seemed to me more of an act or at least behaving in a conditioned manner.

    I reckon if you took a balanced sample of Aston Villa fans you would probably find a majority against wanting a Chelsea win. My stepson (Man United) wanted Bayern to win, I was pretty ambivalent and the comments on my local non league club’s forum were evenly balanced. People don’t these days see Premier League teams as ‘British’ clubs and even if they did they care more about the rivalry.between their respective clubs than they do about a British team winning. The footie fans I have spoken to were deeply unimpressed by the air punching.

  5. Can we say polling comparisons with Kinnock are a little passé?

    MORI, for example, were occasionally showing a +5% or +7% lead for Labour in the run-up to the election… average for their 1992 polls up to election day was a +2.3% Labour lead.

    That compares to the Con lead at the general election of +8%.

    Was Kinnock realy polling well and blew it at the end, or had the polling companies been consistently getting things wrong?

    Three MORI polls during the nine days immediately before the election underestimated Con by 5.5%, and overestimated Labour by 4.1%.

  6. The problem with the reduction in inflation to 3% is that it means QE is failing.

    The nightmare scenario is not raging inflation it is negative inflation, unemployment rising, zero interest rates, money being printed AND negative growth.

    We are heading there and it’s possible that when we get there there will still be cries for more spending cuts.

  7. NickP

    …and the solution is if we are going down anyway to give all public sector workers a golden parachute from borrowed funds to cushion the fall?

  8. @ Billy Bob

    I agree with you. Pollsters are much more sophisticated now. Since 1992 I’m not sure we have seen any bad predictions at all.

    Also, aside from getting it right on the day, I think they have to an extent anticipated the likely late movements that occur once minds become focused with an election campaign and many return to the fold. So although there will be genuine swings that can’t be predicted (Lib Dem TV debate) they have factored in many of the anticipated late movements- even 3 years in advance!

  9. I still dont understand what people saw in that TV debate.

  10. Legarde called for more spending on infrastructure to boost growth and jobs. So when is expenditure ‘wasteful’ and when is it ‘sound investment’ ?

  11. Ozwald

    Simple: When that infrastructure has a lasting benefit greater than the cost of the project. (Even if it was marginal, there is a good argument for going ahead with such projects)

    Throwing money into a huge pit for the sake of spending money to generate growth is not what the country needs.

  12. alan

    it won’t be borrowed money it will be “magic” money that has been QEd into existence.

    There’s an old saying that if you keep doing the same as you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.

    So teh IMF recommend more QE, interest rate cuts (they are practically zero already) and exactly the same…with a warning that if things stay bad they start spending.

    Of course things will stay bad. What will change anything? Giving the banks more funny money so they can, er, bank it?

  13. @NICK P
    “The Socialists” have already been “brung on”. The result may have pleased you, but it did not please me. Further, it did not please enough people to get them re-elected in 2010. Your frequent posts which display economic amnesia have replaced your posts which displayed economic denial. If Labour had not squandered their reputation for being, “not to bad after all” when it came to the economy, I don’t know where the Tories would be now.
    However Labour did eventually blow it big time, and leave absolutely zero room for preaching to anybody about running the economy. Despite every balls up Cam & Ozzy have made just lately, the public still don’t trust Labour with money. As for implying the IMF & OCED are a bunch of tossers, well you would wouldn’t you.

  14. Roger M,

    “Whatever happened to neutral language?”

    Thanks for posting that Q, made me chuckle.
    One must commend their restraint in sticking with the admirably neutral ‘Other’ and ‘Don’t Know”. Surprised they missed the opportunity for ‘Another much more nefarious reason’ and ‘Too abominable to even contemplate’………

  15. Well we need millions of affordable & social homes, and the construction industry needs the orders. Construction workers need jobs. Sort this and Ms Legarde’s ‘multiplier’ surely then takes effect?

  16. Roly

    This interest rate cut that the IMF thinks will make a difference…how big a chunk of half of one percent do you think will give the boost the economy needs?

  17. NickP

    At a time when there is a lot of uncertainty over the banking sector and contagion, increasing the amount of “banked” money is a prudent choice. Without the current QE, lending levels would be even lower, this is a very real way in which the debt crisis is affecting everyone. If the banks were to screw up again and allow problems in Greece to take down UK banks we’d see bankers swinging from lamp posts. Maybe they are erring too far on the side of caution now but after the public beating they took about being too risk accepting, that’s human nature. Banks are battening down the hatches before the predicted storm.

    Chucking a load of money at the public sector (especially to retain their gold plated pensions) would achieve very little apart from to show the world “well we gave up on that as it was too painful so we gave everyone cake instead”.

  18. @oswald
    We need 3 more type 42 Destroyers, 2 Large Carriers and about 100 more fast jets along with 250 additional helicopters.
    We don’t need to reduce the Infantry, but indeed to increase the Infantry. Further, I need a girl who looks like
    Alisha Dixon to massage my neck every day.

    However………………………………

  19. alan

    red herring, and I suspect you know it.

    Arguing over future public service pensions is irrelevant, whatever your view. It saves no money now, in fact it costs lost revenue in industrial action. Same with NHS reforms (billions being spent up front with no savings being made in the foreseeable future), even the quango bonfire and sacking of public servants has enormous upfront costs in redundancy payments and now in rescue money to try undo damage. Not to mention free schools that aren’t even built yet.

    If the plan was to get the structural deficit down, why start with a spending splurge?

  20. @Roly1
    I sympathise with your desire for more military hardware. As for your other desires – If I ever have the good fortune to meet Alisha I will put in a good word for you. :-)

  21. I’m beginning to think comparisons with Kinnock are inappropriate too. Things are very different from when he was in the position EM is in now. The centre-left was still split then, very much not so now. Much more benign economic circumstances than now – much higher oil prices. No UKIP nibbling away at the right as now.

    Seeing that 3% inflation is both good and troubling news. At least it means prices aren’t shooting up quite so much as before. But, if it takes a recession to get the rate down to this (and 3% isn’t great), then what happens when things finally start getting better? 5-6% inflation? (yikes!)

  22. Good Afternoon all.

    iMO the Kinnock parallel is fair. Tories seem to be able to claw back poll deficits. 1955, 1959, 1964, 1987, 1992 are some examples.

    1974 Feb was a special GE, as was 1983.

    I believe the Labour leader from late 1994-1997 had massive poll leads, and still the GE popular vote figures were closer than in 1996.

  23. KeithP

    I’m yet to be convinced EdM and a policy lite Labour will survive the glare and intense scrutiny of a full-on GE campaign.

    But it is obviously different from NKs time- not only the ConLib government opening up the centre left and far left at the same time to Labour (and I think surviving yellows and current blues really underestimate the electoral impact of that); but also and perhaps more importantly Cameron is simply *no Thatcher* and Osborne is not the wunderkind people like TGB think he is.

    But the country is basically split down the middle- that’s the real lesson of Labours failure to *consistently* break through the 43/44 mark and of the rise of UKIP.

    So for the timebeing I stick with my hung parliament prediction (most probably but not definitely with Labour as largest party) = until EdM is winning hands down not only in personal ratings (which need to be deep in the positive) but also beating Cameron by a large margin as the best PM.

    Until latter not convinced.

    Personally I think the party numbers will be closer/ the Labour lead narrower than they are now in the autumn/ winter: as opposed to Labour stretching current 9-12 lead to 15-18: which a lot of reds on here are anticipating.

  24. The main differences to Kinnock’s time seem to be:

    Low starting point for Con…they have to get more than 36% next time.

    Opposition vote not split.

    Possible split of right wing vote.

  25. @ROB SHEFFIELD
    Not for the first, second or third time, do I find myself agreeing with your last post. Not sure yet about the GE prediction, but otherwise pretty much what I think.

    Enoch Powell and Michael Foot used to agree sometimes especially about parliamentary procedure.

  26. Looks like Osborne sent the bill for the flights to Munich to watch Chelsea to the taxpayer…Am sure there is a connection between him watching football and the economy of the country,but I must be missing it :)

  27. Thanks AW (on randomising question presentation).

    If you (anyone) knows about ICM lowering the impact of past vote as time passes, I would be grateful.

  28. If you take an average of the opinion polls 1st January – to 9th April 1992 it comes out to roughy: Con 39% Lab 40%.

    The actual result was Con 42.8%, Lab 35.2%.

    In the final week polls showed Con 35% – 39%, Lab 38% – 42%.

    That looks less like a clawback during the election campaign, and more like systematic error.

  29. Th Populus poll shews that pursing the lips and jutting the otherwise weak chin, as well as gripping the lectern as though one is about to throw it at any dissenters can raise one’s image no end.

  30. Who were the shy Tories?

    Were they people who were expressing a Labour VI to pollsters all the way tto the ballot box, who then suddenly voted Conservative?

    If that seems more likely that it was indeed a syndrome rather than an acute attack, then it must call into question the accuracy of polling for a significant portion of the 1987-92 parliament.

  31. Researchers at the House of Commons have today released their briefings on the London elections and the local elections.

    http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/RP12-27 (22 pages)

    h ttp://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/RP12-28 (23 pages)

    The abstracts are:

    “Local elections took place in 181 local authorities on 3 May 2012. Almost 4,900 council seats were up for election in 128 local authorities in England, 32 unitary authorities in Scotland and 21 unitary authorities in Wales.

    Labour made net gains of 32 councils and over 800 council seats. The Conservatives had a net loss of twelve councils and 400 seats. The Liberal Democrats had a net loss of more than 300 seats and one council.

    Labour won 39% of the national equivalent share of the vote, compared to 33% for the Conservatives and 15% for the Liberal Democrats. Turnout was estimated to be 32%. There were inaugural mayoral elections in Liverpool and Salford.

    Ten cities held referendums on whether to introduce directly elected mayors, with only Bristol voting in favour. In Doncaster, voters decided to retain the office of mayor in a referendum on whether the mayoral system should continue.”

    ***

    “Elections for the Mayor of London and London Assembly were held on 3 May 2012.

    The Conservative candidate Boris Johnson was re-elected as Mayor of London. Johnson won 44.0% of first preference votes, compared to 43.2% for the Labour candidate Ken Livingstone.

    Turnout in the Mayoral election was 37.4%, down 7.1% points compared to the previous election in 2008.

    Labour won 12 of the 25 seats in the London Assembly elections, four more than in 2008, and are now the largest party in the Assembly. The Conservatives have nine seats and the Green Party and Liberal Democrats both have two seats. Turnout in the Assembly election was 37.5%, a reduction of 6.9% points compared to 2008.”

  32. @ Billy Bob

    No-one knows for certain who the shy Tories are, but the theory used by some pollsters is that a proportion of “don’t know”s are really votes for whichever party they voted for last time.

    You are right to query the accuracy of the polling in the 1987-1992 Parliament, because, as we all know, the 1992 polls were horribly wrong. When they started being inaccurate is anyone’s guess.

  33. Some very idle thinking going on here about comparisons with previous Tory administrations:

    1) It’s not a law of the Universe that Tory Govts must always greatly improve their poll figures in the run up to an Election. As Rob S keeps reminding us, these are unique times…

    2) In any case, if we’re going to make lazy predictions based on a very limited data set with outliers ignored because they don’t fit the theory, we should at least be consistent about comparing similar timescales. As someone pointed out recently, ignoring the very special circumstances of 79-83, the average Tory clawback over the last 3 years of an administration is small – around 2-4%[1]. I think most Labour supporters would take that deal right now.

    [1] another way of looking at this is to ask if you think that the Tories have currently hit rock bottom. With at least another year of (at best) anaemic growth and the possibility of a hurricane blowing in from Calais, it’d be a brave person who would bet on it.

  34. A genuine question here. Given the IMF’s comments today, is there any example at all over the last 40 years of the IMF recommending a Keynesian, rather than monetarist solution to a country’s woes?

  35. Actually, behind the headlines today, one of the IMF foot soldiers has suggested fiscal easing for the UK, such as a reduction in VAT. How interesting that Lagarde didn’t mention this when she was on the platform with Osborne, lauding his strategy. Must have slipped her mind…

  36. @LEFTYLAMPTON
    `Actually, behind the headlines today, one of the IMF foot soldiers has suggested fiscal easing for the UK, such as a reduction in VAT`

    The News networks seem to be running with the story that the IMF has warned that the UK needs a plan B if not enough growth after further interest rate cuts and quantitative easing.They seem to suggest a fiscal stimulus including a VAT cut if the above measures haven`t worked in about 6 months` time…

    It might be difficult for the Tories to warn about Labour`s plan for more borrowing when the IMF itself is making the same suggestions.

  37. It’s odd.

    Despite the IMF leaning over backwards to seem to back Osborne, the media are reporting it as Growth Needed.

    Media management failing. Good to see. That applies on all sides!

  38. Smukesh

    “It might be difficult for the Tories to warn about Labour`s plan for more borrowing when the IMF itself is making the same suggestions.”

    Yep- she tried to balance it out with those spine-shiver gestures about ‘what would have happened if no consolidation plan had been announced in May 2010’.

    But its clear that the IMF sees a danger that – as she put it- stagnation/ no-low growth becomes “endemic” to the UK economy and argues that- if that becomes a clear possibility- then a Plan B it has to be. No matter what George or Dave say.

    Cue Ed Balls and- hopefully- some detailed economic proposals ASAP.

    Because- lets face up to it- its days like these when the fact Labour DONT have detailed economic policies really shows itself up to be the mistake that it surely is.

  39. re shy Tories- didn’t the exit poll get it much closer (with the right winner)? So they can’t have been that shy.

  40. @NickP
    “It’s odd.”
    ——————–
    Yes, odd feathery-dustery stuff from Ms Lagarde. Something for everyone in her presentation so you could cherry-pick the bits which suit your own stance. Window dressing for public consumption and the markets? I wonder what she had to say behind the scenes?

  41. @ Rob

    I don’t think it’s a mistake politically for Labour to not have detailed economic policies yet. 3 years from a General election and very little point having anything detailed when the economic landscape will have changed by then. “Too deep, too fast” is obviously glib but what would be the point of anything more explicit? Just something for them to be shot down over and something that will almost certainly need to be altered nearer the time.

    Anyway, I don’t remember either party going into much detail at the last election- certainly nothing about what would be cut.

  42. @Rob

    FP figures for KL are a bit suspect. He got 41.3%. Had he got 43.2% on FP he might have won.

    London Elects/Guardian have a full ward by ward breakdown. No real surprises apart from the total collapse of BNP support and,the underperformance of UKIP – or Fresh Choice as they insisted on being called.

  43. @ Rob Sheffield

    Because- lets face up to it- its days like these when the fact Labour DONT have detailed economic policies really shows itself up to be the mistake that it surely is.
    —————————–
    How can you have forgotten about Ed Balls’s 5 point plan for growth & jobs? ;-)

    It includes a VAT cut so he can claim to have been ahead of the curve, again.

  44. @Rob Sheffield
    “Labour won 39% of the national equivalent share of the vote, compared to 33% for the Conservatives and 15% for the Liberal Democrats.”

    Those must be the Rawlings and Thrasher estimates, which the HoC always use. There is a fair chance that they flatter the Lib Dems, even in a local election scenario.

    I understand that the estimates are based on the share in the vote in three way contests. But we know that the LDs are now contesting far fewer seats than in 2010, ignoring many where they stand no chance.* So it may well be that the estimates are effectively based on vote shares in seats cherry picked by the LDs as being the most favourable to them. It’s possible that there may be some sort of final adjustment to allow for this, but maybe not. Can anyone familiar with the R&T methodology provide an answer?

  45. ?

  46. @Rob Sheffield
    “Labour won 39% of the national equivalent share of the vote, compared to 33% for the Conservatives and 15% for the Liberal Democrats.”

    Those must be the Rawlings and Thrasher estimates, which the HoC always use. There is a fair chance that they flatter the Lib Dems, even in a local election scenario.

    I understand that the estimates are based on the share in the vote in three way contests. But we know that the LDs are now contesting far fewer seats than in 2010, ignoring many where they stand no chance. So it may well be that the estimates are effectively based on vote shares in seats cherry picked by the LDs as being the most favourable to them. It’s possible that there may be some sort of final adjustment to allow for this, but maybe not. Can anyone familiar with the R&T methodology provide an answer?

  47. Nick Robinson duly played the clip of Christine Lagarde shivering when thinking about the situation in May,2010.She is being very diplomatic but the blanket cover which Osborne had from the IMF has gone.I think the networks picked up on that.Nice bone from her to Balls regarding the VAT cut which is almost synonymous with the shadow chancellor.

  48. In all the excitement of discussing Tory clawback, how many times before has there been a 5 year fixed term parliament? Labour gets 5 years to rebuild & refresh; Tories lose the advantage of picking their best moment & having the element of surprise.
    8-)

  49. @AmberStar

    Another factor is that incumbents usualy do worse at subsequest GE’s, 1983 excepted.

  50. raf

    Even in 1983, Tory lost vote share from 1979.

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