Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 45%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 8%, so back to a fourteen point Labour lead.

The big temptation in looking at polls is to see patterns that aren’t really there, to twist purely random movement into patterns and trends and then seek to explain something that isn’t actually there. So one way of looking at the last couple of weeks with YouGov is that Labour had a boost from the local elections that produced a couple of 14 point leads, which fell back last week as the local election effect faded and this week has grown again as the government get into another tricky patch of U-turns and omnishambles.

The alternative explanation is that random chance produced a couple of polls on the high side one week and a couple of polls on the low side another week, and actually the underlying Labour lead has been at around about 12 points for the whole time. The first explanation is more attractive – our minds like to seek out narratives and patterns in data – that doesn’t make it more likely to be true.


188 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 31, LAB 45, LD 9, UKIP 8”

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  1. Quite astonishing Leader in The Times today, saying the Ireland is showing the Austerity works.

    That’s Ireland which is back in recession, has nearly 15% unemployment, rock bottom consumer confidence and GDP (in dollars) down 25% from its peak. The reasons given in the article for the roaring success of Austerity appear to be that a) business confidence has rebounded (it’s actually still net negative) and there are signs of the start of growth in exports.

    Meanwhile, elsewhere in what used to be the organ of record, there’s Giles Coren doing a hatchet job on fat people and fingering Tom Watson as a specific target (can’t think why) and Matthew Parris is given his weekly full page to ramble unfocussedly on Tory philosophy, this week insisting that everything is fine with Britain and Dave and Nick can be proud of their two years of work.

  2. LEFTYLAMPTON.
    Good Afternoon to you.
    In Ireland, our people are saying that the austerity is good for us, a return to an authentic culture, abandoning ‘post modern’ hedonistic capitalism, with the wine bars, jet skis, debt-fuelled clothes and housing spending. We survived the population being halved under Cromwell, and then reduced by a third by the Famine, which was not really a famine of course, with bountiful exports of dairy and arable products being guarded by forces of the Crown, often Irishmen.
    (My wife says I cannot display the flag though on our road which is festooned with the Union Flag)

    Yes, I agree that the TIMES today is quite polemical. There is an interesting article about John Cruddas going to see the SPD people. I cannot remember where I read it.

  3. LEFTY

    @”Quite astonishing Leader in The Times today, saying the Ireland is showing the Austerity works.”

    They probably had things like this in mind :-

    “IRISH manufacturing bucked a dismal global trend last month by expanding, while slumps in the major economies increased fears of a prolonged downturn.

    The NCB survey of purchasing managers in Ireland showed manufacturing growing at a faster rate in May than April.

    Its Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) topped 51.2 in May, an increase of one point, where any figure over 50 indicates growth, while less than 50 shows contraction.

    The overall index has now shown growth for three months in a row, but a similar index for the eurozone as a whole showed contraction for the 10th month running.”

    The Independent.

    But I suppose if you believe that no adverse effects from fiscal tightening should be countenanced, then you only have one option-carry on spending.

    Unfortunately , once the government of RoI decided to socialise the catastrophic losses of it’s over lent banking sector , the citizens of RoI were always going to feel some pain.
    They have done so with stoicism- I really hope it pays off for them-they deserve it.

    I thought Parris had a point this morning actually.

  4. COLIN.
    Good afternoon to you.
    I read your comment yesterday about the lack of politics being on the news as a good thing for the Conservatives.

    It reminded me that ‘being political’ has so often been used to criticise left wingers, or men on the centre left.

    A year or so ago, some colleague on UKPR said this goes back to the tremors caused by ‘daring’ men who refused to pay 1d in fines for not attending church in the 18th century.

  5. @ Colin

    Below is one of the big reasons why Ireland’s feeling more confident about the future:

    The Intel wafer fab complex in Leixlip, Ireland, is set to receive investment to allow it to manufacture 14-nm silicon and beyond, the company revealed in a presentation to analysts on May 10 2012. The investment is expected to be more than $1 billion.

    The presentation, given by Intel CEO Paul Otellini, included a slide that detailed three Intel fabs set for investment for 14-nm and beyond. These are fab D1X in Oregon, Fab 42 in Arizona and Fab 24 in Leixlip near Dublin, Ireland.

    “We’re in the process of construction and initial deployment of equipment into 14-nm and beyond in Oregon, Arizona and Ireland,” Otellini said in a presentation that was also capturesd as a webcast. The 14-nm process technology is expected to start being used in 2013.

    Intel was reported to have chosen Ireland over Israel for the 14-nm investment back in September 2011. Intel is bringing up 22-nm production at Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat, Israel.

  6. @Roger Mexico (BTW – is your brother called Victor Tango? You sound remarkably like a call sign).

    “One of the nice things about being a Brit is that there is a feeling that there is nothing more patriotic than being anti-patriotic. Being a bit cynical, a bit sceptical, having an instinctive reaction against jingoism – these are somehow more as true to the national character as any amount of flag waving.”

    This reminded me of the winner of a Times reader competition for a British slogan at the time that Gordon Brown was off on one of his pointless rambles about ‘Britishness’ and had suggested developing such a national slogan.

    My favourite, which was runner up, was ‘Britain – Try writing history without us’, but the winner was ‘No slogans please – we’re British’.

    Summed it up nicely, I feel.

  7. @CL1945
    “In Ireland, our people are saying that the austerity is good for us, a return to an authentic culture, abandoning ‘post modern’ hedonistic capitalism, with the wine bars, jet skis, debt-fuelled clothes and housing spending.”
    —————–
    Plenty of food for thought there. Part of me would be happy for people to save up first and then buy the things they need. Then at least we could not be exploited by the lenders. My parents and grandparents would never touch HP or any other form of debt.

    This leaves the slight problem of how to get a roof over your head. Other experts then tell us that a mortgage, the biggest debt most of us incur, is actually a wise investment. So what is ‘good debt’ and what is ‘bad debt’ ?

    Whilst on the subject of homes there is something ironic IMO about the idea that, on the one hand, people should be encouraged to build granny flats, and that they should be rewarded by not having to pay Council tax for the extra accomadation. Meanwhile people in social housing have to pay a “bedroom tax” by if they have one more bedroom than they need, and saying “I will need it for my granny before long” is no excuse.

  8. ALEC.
    I so do agree with your sentiments.

    Clem Attlee, a quintessentially English man had no purple phrases.
    ‘Quite an exciting day’ he said when the 1945 Result came through. His book: Great Contemporaries is so brilliantly laconic and accurate.

    Major Attlee ( I wish people could spell his name) tried in vain to get ‘Nye’ to understand that England did not like too much over blown phrases. He also dealt very well with Mr Churchill’s use of the patriotic card against Labour people.

  9. I believe the Times is celebrating the Jubilee by removing its paywall this weekend. I am about to find out by clicking Anthony’s handy link to the ‘rag’. :-)

  10. LEFTYLAMPTON

    The austerity vs high deficit debate is one of short term vs long term

    Sure it doesn’t look nice in the short term if the economy shrinks by 0.5%. But what looks worse is a debt of 150%, 200% of GDP, which is where Ireland would be headed without austerity.

    The purpose of austerity isn’t short term growth; it is simply to get the deficit under control.

  11. No, it appears to be only free digital access to its dreary Jubilee coverage. No access to the polictics content so Matthew Paris will have to witter on about how great Cameron & Co are without any ‘encouragement’ from me.
    8-)

  12. I think my favour for a slogan for Britain ran something like;

    “With Pride, with Passion, with Chips.”

    Peter.

  13. Ireland has little choice but to accept austerity because it’s part of the eurozone.

    Britain can simply QE more cash out of thin air to ensure our debt does not become unmanageable. 35% of UK government debt is now owned by the BoE, in the form of ‘perpetual’ bonds. The interest ‘paid’ on these bonds is returned to the treasury.

    The BoE/ Treasury will do another round of QE to help with financing the Spanish bailout, I’d think. I think the UK state may well be holding at least 50% of its own debt by the end of 2013.

    The IMF should make eurobonds a condition of any EZ bail out. They’ve never been shy of forcing draconian conditions on individual countries. It’s time for the IMF to treat the EZ as a single nation & say: No eurobonds, no bail outs for the EZ; that would force a solution in EZ & we could all get on with fixing our productive economies.

    Why is Merkel afraid to point to Britain’s aggressive QE combined with lowish inflation & recommend it for the EZ; does she believe that it will end in disaster for the UK economy?

    Why is she hiding behind the German constitution instead of having a referendum in Germany on the euro/ eurobonds? If hard choices are necessary for Ireland & Greece, surely Germany should be having a referendum on the euro issues which most affect Germany.

    What has this got to with UK polling? Nothing at all.
    8-)

  14. Amber,

    Hyperinflationn all but destroyed Germany and in the views of many Germans lead directly to the rise of Hitler.

    Proposing anything that even hints of printing money is political suicide in Germany.

    If the IMF tried to treat the Eurozone like a country, the Eurozone would treat the IMF like a bank and stop giving it money.. They need each other.

    Peter.

  15. Colin

    1) Forgive me, but you have entirely missed the point of my post. It was nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing with the content. It was

    A) The fact that the leader took the most tenuous of evidence, ignored other evidence to the contrary and drew a robust conclusion. That is is not what you expect from a respected newspaper. It is unapologetic polemic.

    B) The fact that Parris has for years had free rein to publish a page of comment which is unabashedly biased and which has no counter balance. That’s not what you expect from a respected newspaper. It is unapologetic polemic.

  16. I fail to see that Austerity is working, huge social devbiksions are now evident in Ireland, unemployment is very high and riseing, spain has 50% youth unemployment same in Greece. These levels are untenable and historically lead to riot, revolution and wars. Just think back to UK 1980’s with the riots, miners strike etc then the Poll tax riots, all routed in social division. The present situation of Spain Greece with 25 % unemployment is far worse and there is no hope, these people have very little to loss. Now look in France extreme right wing rising in popularity same in Greece and also the Socialist/communist movement gaining strength, thew riots on the streets etc, same in Spain, look at these things and a very real risk of serious social upheaval or riot or revolution exists as does the possibility of Fascist governments gaining power in Europe.

  17. @ Amber Lefty

    Parris also has a Radio Four programme, Great Lives. It’s not v. good. He lacks a “radio voice”, not his fault of course, but he generally makes a mess of things.
    His recent broadcast on Wilde, eg., made the most elementary factual errors & achieved the singular feat of making Wilde’s life sound dull, even though a well-informed Will Self was his guest.
    But for the favoured ones, the ripe plums always fall into their laps.

  18. @ Peter Cairns

    Hyperinflationn all but destroyed Germany and in the views of many Germans lead directly to the rise of Hitler.
    ———————————
    Did you really think I didn’t alreasy know that? :roll:
    ———————————
    Proposing anything that even hints of printing money is political suicide in Germany.
    ———————————
    Hence my point about hard choices. Other EZ politicians have had to make them – why not Merkel? Or are you advocating ‘joy through strength’? The Germans need not face the EZ problems because they are perceived as the ‘strong’ EZ country?
    ———————————
    If the IMF tried to treat the Eurozone like a country, the Eurozone would treat the IMF like a bank and stop giving it money.. They need each other.
    ———————————
    That’s my point, Peter. Merkel is expecting the IMF to be the EZ’s bank. Merkel’s view seems to be: The IMF shall be ‘lender of last resort’ to the EZ, so that Merkel can avoid taking any responsibility for – or suffering the political consequences of – the challenges which the EZ now faces.

    And Germany wouldn’t leave the IMF. Why not? Because it benefits hugely from the IMF ‘under-writing’ developing countries to which Germany exports huge amounts of capital goods for power stations, water purification, transport, mining etc.
    8-)

  19. My daughter, who staggers under the weight of her academic honours, texted me to ask what the Jubilee actually celebrated. Was she being ironic? Or can we come to the happy conclusion that the unceasing propaganda for this ghastly event is not as effective as we might imagine?

  20. Martin Boon of ICM has tweeted –
    “ICM\Sunday Telegraph to launch brand new method of predicting elections using public opinion. More later.”
    Could be interesting?

  21. @ Tinged

    OMG, something to look forward to on this wretched, Jubilee weekend! :-)

  22. Also tweeted since I posted –
    “New prediction method launched by ICM/ST yielded the most accurate 2010 GE prediction. Been 2 years in testing since.”
    Wondering how they’d test the system – against previous elections? Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

    I do have one prediction – if it is positive toward Labour, Labour partisans will declare it the new gold standard while Tories declare it unscientific – and vice versa. ;)

  23. @ Tinged

    I do have one prediction – if it is positive toward Labour, Labour partisans will declare it the new gold standard while Tories declare it unscientific – and vice versa.
    ——————————-
    Probably true in general. On this occasion, I will eschew partisanity & pay rapt attention to what it is actually telling us. Anthony’s critique of the concept/ method will be fascinating. He occasionally points out that polls are snap-shots, not prophesies, so it will interesting to read his views on this development.
    8-)

  24. Robbiealive

    I suspect your daughter was being numerate as the biggest celebrations seem to be either 59 years after the coronation or roughly four months after the 60th anniversary of the accession. But then who wants a Bank Holiday in February? And presumably celebrating the 60th anniversary of her Dad’s death might seem a little tasteless to the Queen.

    In a vain attempt to be even more illogical, the Manx are celebrating in July.

    Amber

    Parris’s commentary mainly consists of variations on saying “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it”. I saw him try this at a literary festival last year and nearly get torn to pieces by an elderly and conservative audience, so heaven knows how badly it goes down elsewhere.

  25. Slogans:

    Having just thought of them I particularly like:

    “Britain: we’re Great.”

    and

    “Great Britain: let’s keep it that way – stay out.”

    [courtesy of the Mail etc etc etc.]

  26. Martin Boon (ICM) and John Curtice writing in July 2010:

    The ‘Shy Tory’ adjustment was quite clearly the correct course of action – without it ICM’s final prediction would have been notably worse. Moreover, it is now evident that the practice can identify key ‘Shy Labour’ as well as ‘Shy Tory’ voters. What may be necessary is to increase the size of the adjustment; at present ICM assumes that half of those who fail to declare a vote intention will in practice vote for the party they backed the last time around.

    Meanwhile, weighting samples by recall of past voting seems to have played a role in the more accurate estimate of Labour’s strength. However, it might be wise to consider taking somewhat less account of the level of Liberal Democrat recall in future. Lib Dem recall will be high on our list of investigations in the coming months.

    h
    ttp://www.research-live.com/comment/general-election-2010-did-the-opinion-polls-flatter-to-deceive?/4003088.article

  27. Tonights YG poll prediction

    Labour 46%
    Tory 31%
    UKIP 9%
    LD 8%

  28. Martin tweeted that they were using opinion poll data for the prediction… but you didn’t need to. The implication for that is that it’s not some new polling thing, but a new way of predicting seat distributions from shares of support.

    However, let’s wait and see.

    (Having typed that, Martin then said “Every conventional prediction poll overstated LibDems. Not ICM/ST new method. Spot on” which implies it is some sort of polling thing, so very much let’s wait and see!)

  29. For myself, I’m actually pleasantly surprised at the lack of impact of the jubilee. In my area there are a very few houses decked with flags, and some of those seem to be England Euro campaigns anyway. Overall, it’s well below 1% of properties showing any outward sign of interest.

    My nearest market town does have bunting out, as do around a third of local pubs, but my own village doesn’t. Scanning my local paper for the last couple of weeks, I’m not aware of any specific jubilee public events in the area, although the local carnival in said market town which always takes place on this weekend has been re badged as a jubilee carnival.

    There are no street parties planned in my village, nor have I any friends or neighbours having parties, other than a normal crop of bank holiday weekend gatherings that have no link to the jubilee other than the date.

    I was also pleasantly surprised about the TV schedules when I skimmed the weekend papers. There is a deal of jubilee coverage, but far less than I feared, so normal service will be widely available across many channels.

    I would hedge this with the observation that I live in northern England, but it is a highly rural location and inherently Tory, at least in the immediate area. What is also extremely interesting is that, in identical fashion to the royal wedding, our local paper ran a two page special on the last comparable event.

    For the wedding they ran a spread showing the local celebrations for the Charles & Diana event, and this time they have done the same with the silver jubilee. The contrast between now and then, on both occasions, is frankly astonishing. Back then, the entire village (on a key link road) was shut down for a huge street party, with hundreds of people (parish population 500) stuffed into the village square.

    The road was shut from 2 – 5pm, but the party carried on until well past midnight on both occasions, along with numerous other private parties on outlying farms.

    The national list of official street parties for the last royal wedding showed a massive drop in number compared to the Chas & Di thing, particularly in the north of the country, and this looks to be following a very similar pattern.

    Whatever the press are suggesting, it’s clear that the overwhelming sense of mood across large swathes of the nation is not one of celebration, but rather one of slightly bemused indifference.

  30. Forecasting, rather than reporting, is the new normal. I first noticed this in my own profession. Back in the day, understanding the actual performance of companies was what mattered. The share price/ value of companies was based on their net assets &/or 5 or 10 year historical earnings.

    In what felt almost like a quantum shift, the share price/ value was suddenly based on ‘the market’s’ perception of forecast future earnings. Instead of dull but accurate CFOs, ‘the market’ wanted confident, articulate CFOs who could ‘talk a good game’ about barely substantiated numbers which were based on a lot of unverifiable – but ‘credible’ – assumptions. What fun! :roll: (Anthony has reduced me to eye rolling – I am no longer allowed to be ‘catty’).

    News-media no longer restrict themselves to reporting factual news. Much more of the print, bandwidth & air-time is given over to speculating about what will happen, rather than reporting & properly analysing what has happened. Leaks about future events e.g. the budget, Leveson testimony etc. are rife. All this to give people a little advance notice of future events.

    Now we are to have polling as forecasting. Where will it all end? Perhaps people will cease voting because we have been told already what the outcome is to be?

    Is this constant need for predictions & prophesies driven by insecurity? Is there a self-fuelling cycle of angst & uncertainty behind the mania for predictions? Have we become attached to the inertia which comes from being faced with the ‘inevitable’ as foretold by ‘the experts’? Prediction certainly seems to be the one ‘industry’ which has seen unstoppable growth over the past decade.

    We even try to guess what YG polls will show within hours, or even minutes, of their actual release. Prediction addiction?
    8-)

  31. ….so very much let’s wait and see!
    —————
    Anthony stands heroically alone! One man against the tsunami of predictions, he courageously mutters the now archaic phrase: “Let’s wait & see”. :-)

  32. “(Having typed that, Martin then said “Every conventional prediction poll overstated LibDems. Not ICM/ST new method. Spot on” which implies it is some sort of polling thing, so very much let’s wait and see!)”

    At last, we may have the answer to @Chrislane1945’s eternal question of why the Lib Dems appear to be doing so well!

    @Amberstar – that’s a very interesting and well observed post. Have you read ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain? Brilliant book that helps to explain why so many things are wrong with the world.

    I think your post, my last post and her book are linked, in that whereas in the old days we used to admire actual results, in their many different forms, we now tend to seek presentational performance – how much noise individuals and institutions can make.

    We’re told the jubilee is really popular, because there are some noisy people telling us the jubilee is popular. Company results are less important than the flash projections of a CEO on a miked up stage in California. [I never quite got the Steve Jobs adulation – my techie friends say he wasn’t the first, wasn’t the best, but was the flashiest, and lots of people fell for it].

    In the world of business, the charismatic Fred Goodwin’s dominate, whereas as the quietly spoken RBS risk manager who raised the alarm and was hounded out is ignored, with catastrophic consequences. Yet still we seek to breed confidence, over and above all other faculties.

    I would say something here about those of us who immediately saw through Cameron’s innate shallowness many years ago, but must tread carefully. However, I will say that the dominance of style over substance across politics in general is seriously damaging our lives.

  33. @Alec

    ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain?
    ——————–
    I haven’t but I will buy it tomorrow, if Waterstones have a copy.
    8-)

  34. I’ve just seen the weather forecast for the next three days.

    Is God a republican, do you think? (note the non use of a capital R, by the way, before any George W Bush fans wade in!)

  35. @ Roger Mexico

    “Rubbish. The only people in Britain who are hopelessly Americanised are the political and media leadership with their Ivy League CVs and imported management jargon and their box sets and ‘chilaxing’. They copy everything from the US, both culturally and politically, with starry-eyed incomprehension, while telling the rest of us that it’s what we want.”

    Yeah, I’m not so sure they’ve got a good idea. I don’t mean to be a traitor to my own country but Americans are getting way too fat, way too pushy, and way too angry. And we’ve always been super loud. Are your elites sure that you really want that in Britain?

    @ Alec

    “We call it ‘Saturday’.”

    Lol, you’re hilarious. As always. :)

    @ Tinged Fringe

    “We could do what the Americans did – refuse to celebrate May Day and instead have Loyalty Day.”

    We don’t have a Loyalty Day! Or if we do, no one celebrates it. You are right about not celebrating May Day.

    @ Peter Cairns

    “I took that to be a comment about himself rather than a condescending sneer at others.”

    Yes, most definitely right. Not a condescending sneer at others all and a comment about myself.

    “What’s condescending about “live and let live”, it is a free country after all. The fact that I am not bothered doesn’t mean my view is better it is just different that’s all.

    What would you reaction be if you didn’t like the Jubilee, to condemn those that do as fools or stupid.”

    Not everyone has to like the same stuff. I try explaining this to my dad who loves the television show Glee. Everyone just LOVES Glee. Frankly, I’ve seen a few episodes and it’s just never appealed to me. I don’t condemn the people who love it though, I just acknowledge that we all have different tastes.

  36. @ Lefty Lampton

    “Quite astonishing Leader in The Times today, saying the Ireland is showing the Austerity works.

    That’s Ireland which is back in recession, has nearly 15% unemployment, rock bottom consumer confidence and GDP (in dollars) down 25% from its peak. The reasons given in the article for the roaring success of Austerity appear to be that a) business confidence has rebounded (it’s actually still net negative) and there are signs of the start of growth in exports.”

    Why let actual facts and reality get in the way of pure ideology?

  37. @CROSSBAT11

    So are you saying God is a Democrat? ;)

  38. @SOCALLIBERAL

    “Why let actual facts and reality get in the way of pure ideology?” Isn’t that what Paul Krugman was saying on Newsnight?

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