Just back from the EPOP conference, so this is a rather brisker update than most Sundays! This week’s YouGov figures for the Sunday Times are CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 6%, so back in the more normal range after the six and twelve point leads we saw last week. The rest of the poll looked at David Cameron, the reshuffle, planning and Heathrow.

Looking at the details of how people see Cameron, his biggest weakness remains being seen as out of touch. Respondents saw him as out of touch by 67% to 23%, although this was pretty much unchanged from when YouGov last asked in July. On other ratings there was a notable decline – Cameron was seen as weak rather than strong by 51% to 33% (down from July when the figures were 47% weak, 38% strong) and as having run of out of ideas by 57% compared to 26% who think he has plenty of ideas (again down from July when 52% thought he was out of idea, 32% thought he has plenty of ideas). His best (or least worst) figures was still being seen as likeable – 41% think Cameron is likeable compared to 45% who think he is not.

This month YouGov also threw into the mix whether people thought Cameron was a male chauvinist – only 27% of people did (overwhelmingly Labour supporters), 42% did not.

Moving onto the reshuffle, 32% of people thought it had made the government more right wing, 29% thought it has reduced the amount of influence that the Liberal Democrats had. Overall though the verdict was very much one of no difference – 9% thought it had changed the government for the better (almost all Tory supporters), 19% thought it had changed it for the worse (mostly Labour or Lib Dem supporters)…72% said no difference (55%) or don’t know (17%).

On the future of the coalition, YouGov asked a straight queston on whether people would prefer the coalition to continue, or for there to be minority Conservative government. The party results are interesting. Most Labour supporters said don’t know, as presumably they would really prefer neither, but of the remainder they were more likely to support a minority government… presumably as it would be less likely to last! Amongst the remaining Liberal Democrat voters a large majority (71%) preferred the Liberal Democrats to remain within the coalition. Amongst Conservative party voters 58% said they would prefer a minority Conservative government to the coalition.

The next set of questions were about planning. I’m always quite wary of these, since my experience is that the general public have almost no awareness of how the planning system works, and if you have to do quite a lot of explaining in a question you really risk measuring opinions that weren’t there to begin with! Anyway, general opinions of the existing planning system were very evenly split – 27% think it is too strict, 25% think it is not strict enough, 32% think the balance is about right.

Turning to the government’s specific ideas, 40% think extending permitted development rights for house extentions is a good idea, 44% a bad idea. People are slightly more opposed to softening affordable housing requirements, but it is still a farily even split (38% support, 45% oppose). The idea of spending money directly on building more affordable homes and guaranteeing loans to developers is much more popular – 65% support it with only 19% opposed.

Finally, on the topic of Heathrow 47% of people think Cameron delaying the decision until after 2015 is dithering, 33% think there is no hurry and the delay is the right thing to do. Asked directly if of they support or oppose the extention of Heathrow people are very evenly split – 32% support, 34% oppose, 33% don’t know.

181 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 33, LAB 43, LD 10, UKIP 6”

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  1. Roger Mexico
    “The reaction in the ST poll to the proposed planning changes is interesting. I think it was Peewee who pointed out that the trouble with laxer planning rules is that, for every person you please, you annoy at least two of their neighbours and the results rather bear this out.

    Despite YouGov carefully wording the question to emphasise the limit nature of the changes (thereby giving more information in a poll than we got in the news stories) there is still a bare majority against the changes (44% to 40%) and this is particularly strong in the over-60s (50% – 39%) the group most Conservative policies seem to be directed towards. You can see it all producing vicious micro-battles and resignations from the Party all over the country – just so Everest double glazing can annoy us all with even more cold calls.”

    As well as the over 60s group, people might want to keep an eye of the rest of the south area. In this area, where Labour will need to gain seats in 2015 planning is a big subject, as is shown in the Sunday Times poll. They already oppose the downgrading of affordable house building in developments and the planning changes overall (slightly) and they certainly would oppose any changes to green belt rules. If these questions are repeated it would be interesting to see how this area goes as the extensions etc start to be built.

  2. I would think next time the result will most likely be another hung parliament, if Labour win it will only because of the system being (assuming the changes haven’t come into effect by then) skewed in their favour and them being the only opposition party. Remember they got an OM in 2005 with 35% whilst with 1 more percent in 2010 the Tories couldn’t.

  3. @Calum Smith
    “if Labour win it will only because of the system being (assuming the changes haven’t come into effect by then) skewed in their favour – – – ”
    Possibly so. IIRC the opposite was true a few decades ago with blues enjoying 2% or 3% head start. I think this was partly because Lab votes were stacked high in very safe seats. I don’t recall any proposals at the time to rejig the boundaries and balance things out. Can’t think why.

    Is it the case that the opposite is true now for blues with votes large majorities concentrated in their heartlands ?

  4. Ozwald – there hasn’t been any significant bias in the boundaries towards the Conservatives since the early 1960s.

    This is because in the 1947 review and the 1954 review the Boundary Commissions used a “rural weighting” factor, and on average rural seats had smaller electorates than urban seats, therefore favouring the Conservatives. This policy was ended in the Second Periodic review that reported in 1969.

  5. If Labour win enough seats to form a majority it’s because most people voted for the Labour candidate in those seats where they won.

    In Reigate last time, the tories got over 26,000 votes on a sub-50,000 turnout and got double the votes of the second place LDs.

    Up north, Labour voters often can’t be bothered with lower turnouts and smaller pile-ups of votes. If everybody voted we would be better able to see whether any party has a bulit in advantage.

    In any case, if tories all tend to move to live with other Tories and away from more closely contested seats, whose fault is that?

  6. Just shrinking is good enough for me.

  7. @AW
    Thanks so much. Now I want to dig deeper!
    I take it that ” there hasn’t been any significant bias in the boundaries towards the Conservatives since the early 1960s.” means that things were actually tilted slightly in their favour for a while ? I didn’t know that the Boundary Commissions used a rural weighting in those days. Fascinating stuff.

  8. @ Billy Bob

    “Wait a minute, what are you telling me?

    You already got marble columns? Phew! That place is gonna look like a mansion… like da king of England lives there or somethin’.”

    Or the King of France or somethin! What are you kidding me? I mean you could look like a million bucks! And just look at all these marble columns! Look at this one! Or that one! Or this one over there! :) :) :) :) :) :)

    Anyway, I think what was good is that the Convention was largely focused and while the anti-Romney message was clear, it was the secondary message of the convention. Unlike the RNC, the speeches weren’t meandering autobiographical peices but were focused on why the President needed to be reelected.

    @ Ozwald

    Check this out:


  9. @Ozwald

    Compare Conservative Beaconsfield (32,053 or 61.1% of votes for Dominic Grieve) with Labour Bootle (Joe Benton, 27,426 or 66.4% of votes) in 2010.

    In Beconsfield the turnout is 70%, in Bootle 57.8%.

    Tories seem always to be more likely to vote, regardless of whether their vote makes much of a difference in the particular constituency.

  10. Ozwald – absolutely, there was a very substantial Conservative bias in the electoral system of the 1950s. Between the mid 60s and the late 80s the system was pretty balanced between Con & Lab (it is always biased against the third party, but that’s FPTP for you) since then it has been increasingly skewed towards Labour.

  11. Ozwald – see this article by Ron Johnston, David Rossiter, Charles Pattie (another member of the victorious EPOP quiz team on Saturday :) ) and others for a good exploration of historical bias in the system –


  12. @Billy Bob
    Thanks, good points. So the loyalty of Conservative voters somehow makes the system seem unfair to their party?
    I doubt we shall ever see a system which caters for all the ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ angles. Do you know of any countries which have compulsory voting? Should we introduce it here?

  13. @SoCalLiberal

    The DNC is the convention that keeps giving. Just watched Jennifer Granholm busting about 15 gaskets:



    Voting is definitely compulsory in Australia.

  14. Polly Toynbee said the other day that 33% of voters would vote Tory come what may. Probably about right, but what does that say about the 36% that voted for Cameron’s party in 2010?

    Only 3% more than the hard core vote?

  15. Can anyone remember when the last poll was to ask “What are the most important issues facing you/the nation?”. If they do, may I have a link please? :)

  16. @Billy Bob
    “Voting is definitely compulsory in Australia.”
    You are correct. I checked Wikipedia and they give a lot of info on 23 countries who have compulsory voting. .

  17. Top Hat – due to ask it tonight if you can wait a day! Otherwise it would have been 3 weeks ago.

  18. Top Hat

    Actually it’s a fortnight ago. Tracker is here:


    As Anthony says, the latest questions should be winging its way to panelists in-boxes shortly and appear on the YouGov website 6am on Wednesday morning.

  19. NickP

    The answer is ‘precisely’ rather than ‘only’. One could say ‘as much as’ equally validly.

  20. NickP

    Or ‘no less than’.

  21. eh?

  22. Ozwald

    A more detailed report on mandatory voting is here


    Useful, because it also includes the USSR where voting was theoretically voluntary, but, in effect, compulsory – as well as those places where it was theoretically compulsory but, in effect, voluntary.

  23. SoCalLiberal

    Did you know of the “interesting fact” mentioned in the paper I referred to that

    “California Democrats once offered complimentary chicken dinners and chiropractic treatment as an incentive to voters”?

  24. OZWALD.
    The Boundary Commission which drew the boundaries for the 1951 GE created the tory bias.
    When Mr Attlee was asked about it, he laconically said that ‘that is the way things go’

  25. CHRISLANE1945

    I was prompted by your post to check what the Boundary Commission for Scotland had done, to see if there was any effect here.

    The whole extent of their changes then was

    “There shall be transferred from the county constituency of West Fife … to the burgh constituency of Kirkcaldy Burghs .. the area added to the burgh of Kirkcaldy by Part II of the Kirkcaldy Burgh Order, 1950.”

    Both constituencies returned their former Labour MP in 1951.

    Thanks both for the info, very useful. I will dig deeper.

  27. OZWALD

    I do wonder whether those EU countries enforcing compulsory voting might not be seen as being in contravention of the Convention of Human Rights as far as freedom of expression is concerned.

    It could be argued that freedom of expression includes the freedom to boycott an election altogether.

    If I may butt into your boundary discussion, there is a factor that you’ve not mentioned – tactical voting. This is relevant because Labour sympathisers are more likely to do it than Tory sympathisers. In effect this produces a net loss of Labour votes, reducing Labour votes/seat; and it reduces the number of Tory seats, raising their votes/seat.

    This inequality in tactical voting has come about because the LDs have adopted a left of centre persona, so I suspect it won’t be much in evidence in 2015


    ” Labour sympathisers are more likely to do it than Tory sympathisers.”

    Isn’t that situation geographically variable? Even in (essentially) 3 party England, surely the most likely tactical voters are the supporters of any party that can see a possibility of defeating the most disliked party via tactical voting?

  30. I think in Scotland some of the SNP vote mightwell be anti-Labour ex Tory vote.

    I’m sure would-be Tories vote LD some places in an attampt to keep Lab out. Look at the Oldham & Saddleworth result.

  31. @OLDNAT
    Re compulsory voting, it is very disappointing to see votes wasted, especially in local elections, but I hate bureaucracy and I am very wary of Big Brother. I am very pro Human Rights. So if I have to come off the fence I would have to oppose compulsory voting.

    If the day ever comes when we have no choice – or be penalised then at tleast then perhaps the last ‘candidate’ at the bottom of the ballot paper should be “None Of The Above” ?


    PS a potential double entendre exists within that quoted sentence.

    i desisted from mentioning that – until now. :-)

  33. NICKP

    Absolutely. Our political structure is a bit more complex than yours, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that many votes aren’t motivated by determination to defeat the most disliked alternative, if your own preference can’t win.

    For example, in Angus a number of strongly Unionist Labour supporters vote Tory to try to defeat the SNP.

    Good point that tactical voting can distort the true level of core support for a party, but I am not sure which party gains or loses most. Perhaps there is a danger of ‘sawing sawdust’ with too much analysis of stuff we cannot hope to measure accurately?

    Your point about the effect on the LD vote in 2015 is fair enough. I am one who voted LD instead of Lab last time for tactical reasons – but never again!

  35. OZWALD

    Australia has one of my most disliked systems. “Strongly encouraged” voting in a PR system, which then allows the chosen party to cast subsequent preference votes for you. Simply hands power to political parties – as it was, no doubt, intended to do.

    Just as in UK, big parties like FPTP, and in Scotland the AMS system was seen by many as a good way to ensure that no party could get a majority (whatever the intention of Dewar or the Constitutional Convention).

    Politicians, unsurprisingly, make the rules to suit themselves – not the voters.

  36. @Anthony, Roger: thank you! I’ll wait for tonight’s then. :)

  37. Compulsory voting would make a far greater change to UK politics than PR ever would.

    At the moment there is no incentive for politicians to work for or to develop platforms that appeal to the significant groups of people who don’t vote. Most of them aren’t exercising any deliberate political choice…

    As for human rights: firstly the state already has the right to demand civil behaviour (such as Jury service), secondly they can’t stop people defacing the ballot paper or casting a blank ballot (thus protecting the right to free expression). Of course I would love a NOTA or RON candidate as well..

  38. Re. compulsory voting, there is a school of thought – to which I belong – that argues that it undermines democracy. Democracies work on voluntary compliance, part of which is the choice of whether or not to vote in the first place (don’t vote, cant’ gripe- but that’s another matter). Forcing people to vote critically undermines the premise that democracy is not an authoritarian process. The comparison with jury service is not quite accurate. We can opt out of expressing our opinions in the democratic process, but we can’t opt out of our relationship with the law, of which jury duty is a part.

  39. In Edinburgh some people voted for a Penguin to keep the Lib/Dems out!!

  40. NickP

    ‘Only 3% more than the hard core vote?’

    I was referring to your use of the word ‘only’.


    “Most of them aren’t exercising any deliberate political choice…”

    That statement is debatable.

    Certainly, they aren’t making a political choice in the sense of choosing between one set of politicians or another.

    However, finding the entire political process as something that doesn’t engage with them at all is a “political choice”.

    There are lots of people who feel (probably correctly) that it doesn’t matter which government is elected, their interests won’t be represented. They are as concerned as much with choice of government as I am with who wins some TV talent (I use the term cautiously) show.

  42. OT to some degree, but Murray v Dojokovic about to start in New York. And I expect Murray to win, even though Nole destroyed Ferrer yesterday. Murray, though must win the,first set. Crucial.

  43. IPPR is still showing interest in compulsory voting – their last foray recieved support from Peter Hain and Geoff Hoon – they claim “states that make electoral participation a legal requirement also have higher levels of satisfaction with democracy, lower levels of wealth inequality and less corruption.”

    However their proposal is to make electoral participation compulsory for first-time voters only.

    “Voters… would be provided with a ‘none of the above’ option. The logic behind this proposal is that people who vote in the first election for which they are eligible are considerably more likely to vote throughout their lives. Introducing an obligation for new electors to turn out once would thus go a significant way toward breaking the habit of non-voting that often gets passed from generation to generation, and could have a substantial and lasting impact on turnout.”

    Meanwhile in the US there are organised campaigns to prevent people from voting… cutting the number of polling stations in a county from 42 to 2 for example, shortfalls in the number of ballot papers, requiring expensive id documents and other legislative ruses:


  44. Most people who are against the notion of compulsory voting are so because they believe that it will introduce into the electoral calculus people who will vote for the ‘wrong’ parties (be it far left or far right).

    Somebody has already pointed out the notion of a civic duty with the example of jury service. Really this flawed argument should end right there.

    I personally think in such a system a NOTA option should be on the ballot but spoiling/ non completion/ write ins are all options that the voter can choose to take (and does in not insignificant numbers).

    I will never forget some well meaning ‘SP.A’ (socialist party) colleagues when I spent some time at a Flemish University, earnestly convinced that if the country ended compulsory voting then- at a stroke- their problems with the Vlaams Blok would end and it would disappear without a trace!

    The sanctions for not turning out to vote there are a small fine followed by being banned from voting for 4 years. A person will also face questions if they want to work for the public sector.


    “Most people who are against the notion of compulsory voting are so because they believe that it will introduce into the electoral calculus people who will vote for the ‘wrong’ parties (be it far left or far right).”

    Evidence for that statement?

  46. @Rob Sheffied/@Old Nat

    Interesting discussion. 2001 was the last GE with a very large abstention (41%). The conventional wisdom at the time, was that this was due to most people being relatively satisfield, but it may have been due to the lack of a wide enough choice. It was the only GE I have not voted in, and both issues were factors for me. There wasn’t a party that reflected my views. I’d reluctantly voted,Lab,in,1997, but legilation such,as,the,Terrorism Act 2000, made me,very reluctant to do,so again. But for me,the Tories were far worse. Labour had made achievements.

    I’d welcome compulsory voting. It is, I feel a civic duty, but,with Rob’s caveats for alternatives and NOTA. But,we also need a broader political choice, with a more proportional system. Otherwise our larger,turnouts,will only occur in either a close Red/Blue,fight, or,where there is massive support,or oppositiom to one or the,other.

  47. RAF

    I understand you are referring to GB, but the dominance of the Red/Blue parties in the largest part of it doesn’t mean that all political battles are so configured!

    Nor does it mean that there is much difference between parties who sport different colours.

  48. Murray wins the first set.

    Serbs will be disappointed – but will those in the other parts of the former Yugoslavia?

    Strange thing this intersection of sport and politics.

  49. Calum Smith

    I can’t speak for the other constituencies but as far as Argyll is concerned, Labour will not be winning it next time.

    The seat has long been Liberal and narrowly won from Conservative John Mackay by Rae Michie in 1983.

    John Mackay himself had been a Liberal and was quite some way from the modern free market fundamentalist type of Conservative.

    Argyll was a four way marginal when Rae Michie won it, but she built up a substantial majority. It has been said that the incumbent was elected on her coat tails but could not fill her boots.

    The SP seat was lost to the SNP by George Lyon in the second session. Although there are many worse MP’s/MSP’s than George Lyon there are hardly any to compare with Jim Mather, a disciple of John Seddon.

    His absence from the Scottish Cabinet as an advocate for Systems Thinking must be costing the government millions of pounds.

    His place has been taken by another heavy hitter in the cabinet.

    I have met all of these people. Party preference aside I think you could say that Argyle and Bute has been particularly fortunate in the quality of the MP’s and MSP’s but that by a wide margin the present MP Alan Reid makes the least impact and the substantial majority he inherited has melted away.

    The tide has long been ebbing for the Libdems, but there is no sign of it turning.

    Several elections ago the SNP disclosed that in their canvassing they found nobody voting positively for the LibDems. The found anti-Lab voters, anti-SNP voters and of course the anti-Cons. This, remember, in a LibDem constituency with a solid majority and a Con challenger.

    In 2011 the anti-Cons sa that they had been let down by the LibDems going into coalition at Westminster and went elsewhere. The majority went to the SNP and the rest to Labour. What else would you expect them to do?

    Now, the SNP is seen as the best buy for the anti-Con anywhere in the Highlands and Islands except Shetland.

    If the SNP put up a candidate who is known to be useless Alan Reid might just manage to hang on for one last time by a handful of votes, but whoever wins, Labour will be third place.

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