This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 8% – still bang in line with the nine to ten point Labour lead that YouGov have been showing for months.

Political coverage today is likely to be dominated by the latest growth figures which showed an increase in GDP of 1% and, therefore, that the economy is technically no longer in recession. My constant refrain on this site is that you shouldn’t overestimate the likely impact of events – most people aren’t reading the political news or the business pages and those that do tend to interpret events through the prism of their pre-existing party identification anyway.

The announcement of GDP figures sometimes has an impact on the polls and sometimes it doesn’t. Unless they signal a particular turnaround they don’t normally register – they are a statistical number in the business news that says nothing about people’s real lives. When they can make a difference is if they trigger a media narrative that does say something people understand.

For example, there was no obvious impact in the polls from the horrid GDP figures in July, or those last January. In April 2012 when the GDP figures produced headlines about Britain being in a “double dip recession” there could have been an impact (Labour’s lead did rise, but it was part of the whole omnishambles period so it is difficult to differentiate one factor from another). If the media make a big fuss about the country being out of recession then it may filter through into more positive feelings about the government and their economic policy, or it may not. However public perceptions about the state of the economic are very pessimistic indeed, I suspect it will take a lot more than some good GDP figures to make much of a dent in them.

52 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 33, LAB 43, LD 9, UKIP 8”

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  1. @ Colin

    Thanks for the (maybe unintentional) reference to the ONS GDP report in the last thread. Something I had never thought to look at and although mainly stats in different formats it does provide additional information to what you get in the papers.

    Like you said the September figures look dire but on very limited information. Have you a history of checking these reports and give your opinion as to whether there is much accuracy in those very preliminary estimates?

  2. I don’t think the short-term effect that GDP figures have on the polls are as important to the Tories as how they are seen by the general public in areas of economic competency. If they can build up a decent lead over Labour on ‘who do you trust more to run the economy’ it may well stand them in good stead for the GE in 2015.

  3. time will tell on the figure of 1% I really think it is a we bit like these polls. i.e. this quarters is a bit on the high side (due to special factors) and the last quarters a bit on the low side (due to special factors). next quarters will be interesting anything below 0.6% will be damaging for the Gov as it will show the long term Labour line of “bouncing along the bottom” to be sound economic judgement and the “woohoo” of the Gov to be premature.

    Ojnthe opinion polls is it now safe to say that the Libdem vote has taken a further hit driving it into 8-9% category and not around 10%

  4. Not many people rigidly divide up their lives into 3-month blocks and, having seen a good quarter, think “yippie” and change their VI and a lot else besides. GDP figures are a bit remote from people’s lives – but they know tough times when they see them and don’t need official figures to confirm that.

    [] I feel this won’t last. Perhaps the previous quarters (technical recession) figures were randomly a little lower, perhaps this one is a little higher. It adds up to a flat year. With the amount of economic uncertainty in the world (in parts, at least) no wonder things are stagnant here. Any growth we do achieve has to be siphoned off into paying back debt rather than having a little party.

    It does not seem likely that the government will be able to rely on the economy that much to help with re-election.

  5. [Snip] All the historical evidence is that Labour gains power when things are beginning to improve on the economic front. So, for them to hold such a position as you describe would be counterproductive both to the economy and to their electoral prospects. So many other factors come into play when considering electoral advantage and movements in opinion, as Anthony so accurately cautions in the introduction to this thread. [Snip]

  6. @Tony Williams,

    “time will tell on the figure of 1% I really think it is a we bit like these polls. i.e. this quarters is a bit on the high side (due to special factors) and the last quarters a bit on the low side (due to special factors). next quarters will be interesting anything below 0.6% will be damaging for the Gov as it will show the long term Labour line of “bouncing along the bottom” to be sound economic judgement and the “woohoo” of the Gov to be premature.”

    I think given the one-off factors this quarter, anything around 0.3%+ will probably be seen as a success in the 4th quarter. I think most people know that it’s very unlikely that we will return to strong growth any time soon.

  7. @ Tony W

    “anything below 0.6% will be damaging for the Gov ”

    I’d say anything above 0.4% will be seen as better than before, especially in Q4 (winter).

    For the next two to four quarters we should really compare our GDP changes with those countries of the EU, especially those with similar debt/deficit. Then we can ascertain relative success or failure.


    THere is a very good article in Coffee House with a chart of GDP revisions.

    I can’t make a link work.

    It’s also shown on ConHome today.

  9. @StatGeek,

    Looks like France and Germany might go into recession. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen!

  10. The Ford plant shutting in Southampton made me have a look at constituencies down there. to my surprise labour hold Southampton Itchen and Southampton Test. Are there other ones down there?

    Itchen looks extremely marginal but if it didn’t go Con in 2010 it will probably stay Lab next time.

  11. I very much doubt that GDP figures per se have much effect on VI. These figures reflect an aggregate of millions of people’s daily lives, and it is the latter that influences VI. i.e. GDP changes can indicate what may be happening on the ground, but it is what happens on the ground that affects VI.

    That said, the ‘out of recession’ story might give a small boost to consumer confidence that feeds back into the economy in the longer term. On the other hand, if Q3 proves to be a blip due to special factors and we drop back into a triple dip (far from impossible), that would quite possibly be worse for the Tories than simply staying in the double dip for longer.

    Has there ever been a triple dip recession?

  12. @Robin,

    Yeah, I agree. Like I said before, the most important thing for the Tories is not necessarily an upshift in short-term polling, but how it affects the public’s perception of them in areas of economic competency. If they can improve that significantly relative to Labour, it would probably make Labour’s softer still in the lead up to a GE.

  13. THe Ford news is very bad for those 500 workers.

    But comparatively the Belgian closure ( 5000 jobs) & what is happening at Peugot in France , highlights the relative health of UK auto sector.

    But there is overcapacity in the sector. I hope we don’t get worse news than this Ford closure . Ford say the company will safeguard thousands of jobs by confirming that the next generation of diesel engines will be built in the UK.

  14. Well, the GDP growth is good. If growth persists I imagine the Cons will enjoy a revival of some degree in their VI.

    For me, it is the use of the words “rebalancing” and “healing” of the economy that are noteworthy. The latter has come into greater use recently.

    What does joe public infer from these terms when viewing the Cons and LDs, I wonder. How do hey affetc perceptions and VI?

  15. @ Colin

    Thanks- although I had already found my way to that article from your previous post. It didn’t say much about the final month’s figures just overall revisions.

    Looking at the month by month figures it seems like July was the best and September back in negative territory although September services being negative doesn’t really follow from other data like Markit. So if i was guessing I’d say if anything the 1% looks a bit low but that next quarter could be starting off badly. What I don’t know is how (in)accurate that final month’s estimate is in the scheme of things.

    Obviously everyone yesterday knew we would be out of recession just maybe a bit surprised at how good the figure was. It’s the forward looking that interests me the most which is best predicted using month by month figures but pointless if the estimates for those are much more in doubt.

  16. Assuming the con/ld support to be almost totally from the right [the 2010 LD support was clearly more left leaning on average the current poll, which is pretty standard gives:

    Coalition: 42% Labour 43%

    The GE produced:

    Coalition 59% Labour 29%

    So a 15.5% swing, which is pretty substantial.

  17. Nick Clegg walked into a branch of HSBC to cash a cheque. As he approached the cashier he said “Good morning , could you please cash this cheque for me”?

    Cashier: “It would be my pleasure Sir. Could you please show me your ID?”

    Clegg: “Well I didn’t bring my ID with me as I didn’t think there was any need to. I am Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister!!!”

    Cashier: “I’m sorry, but with all the regulations, monitoring, of the banks because of impostors and forgers, etc. I must insist on proof of identity.”

    Clegg: “Just ask anyone here at the bank who I am and they will tell you. Everybody knows who I am.”

    Cashier: “I am sorry Deputy Prime Minister but these are the bank rules and I must follow them.”

    Clegg: “I need this cheque cashed.”

    Cashier: “Perhaps there’s another way: One day Colin Montgomery came into the bank without ID.
    To prove he was Colin Montgomery he pulled out his putting iron and made a beautiful shot across the bank into a cup.
    With that shot we knew him to be Colin Montgomery and cashed his cheque.
    Another time, Andy Murray came in without ID. He pulled out his tennis racquet and made a fabulous shot where the tennis ball landed in my cup. With that spectacular shot we cashed his cheque..So sir, what can you do to prove that it is you, and only you, as the Deputy Prime Minister?”

    Clegg stood there thinking and finally says: “Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing I’m good at.”

    Cashier: “Will that be large or small notes, deputy Prime Minister?” ;)

  18. Is there any truth in the rumour that the govt are planning a quarterly olympics?

    Sounds a surprisingly good idea if so.

  19. I think it’s good news about the economy. I know the naysayers are already saying it doesn’t count because lots of spending, ie tickets, investment, for the Olympics were all just added to this quarter even if they were spent in previous quarters, meaning that this figure should be lower. That may be, but if true, doesn’t that mean that the past figures should all have been a little bit higher?

    I think it will have an effect on polling, rightly or wrongly. Most people will just get the soundbites “out of recession” and “1% growth” (quite a high figure in recent times, largest growth since 2007) Ed Balls was clearly rattled this morning. It leads back to my point yesterday, both parties have made a bet.

    Conservatives are betting on an economic recovery if there isn’t one they’re electorally doomed. Labour have put all their eggs in a “flatline/recession” economy and if it does actually improve they are electorally doomed.

    They say 1 week is a long time in Politics. We’ve still got another 132 to go until the next general election. Plenty of time for this ship to sink, or turn itself around.

  20. Colin

    The Motor industry look into the future to predict sales. If they are cutting jobs, it means that they think they will sell fewer vehicles. This is pretty obvious, as people are keeping vehicles for longer. Locally I have noticed that many companies are using vehicles that are nearly 10 years old. Previously these companies were changing them every few years.

    I expect that the there will be more competition from China and other Asian countries. China is starting to build some decent cars, after years of building cheap, poorly built replicas of European models from years back. Also there are some decent cars being built in eastern Europe e.g, Dacia Sandero built in Romania on sale for £5995.

  21. I am delighted to see my previous post is snipped, the remainder put into moderation, and that of the post I was replying to has been removed completely! Anthony, I apologise here and now for breaching the rules and realise fully that it is for you rather than me to correct, question or even remove outlandishly partisan comments. My only defence is that I felt I could not help but respond when I saw that comment posted! I tried to respond in a moderate and reasoned way, but clearly failed!

    [Whoops,. I meant to prune to references to the post I’d removed and put the rest back up. Should be back now. Sorry! – AW]

  22. Someone who understands the compilation of the GDP figures can hopefully clarify, but don’t one-off effects (+0.2% on ticket sales, who knows how much on completion of construction contracts, increased hotel, restaurant and other touristy things etc) have the opposite effect on the following quarter, when they are no longer there? So that if the total positive impact of the Olympics/paralympics was +0.5% (the other 0.5% coming from the reversal of the effect of the extra June bank holiday), with that dropping out we effectively start from a baseline of -0.5%?

  23. Quite a number of polls recently, including this one, show the level of UKIP support to be the same as, or a whisker below, that of the LibDems. However, curiously, this does not seem to be translating to support in the ballot box at local elections, even in “Conservative” areas where we might expect to see it? As yet, we do not have by-election evidence of a strengthened UKIP position either? Could it be that UKIP support is verbal to pollsters rather than actual except for European elections?

  24. Anthony

    The tables for the latest poll don’t seem to have gone up on the Archive yet.

    Thanks by the way for the information/correction on Boundary Commission timings.

  25. Wonderful exchange between Balls & Andrew Neil this morning on DP, about pre-recession Structural Deficit in UK.

  26. Roger – Today’s tabs are here:

    Not sure why they aren’t showing up in the archive.

  27. Robin – partly. The 0.2% Olympic ticket effect won’t be there next quarter, so the economy would have to grow 0.2% to make up for the lack of Olympic tickets sold just to get back to 0%.

    The same doesn’t apply to the bank holiday effect – part of this quarter’s growth will be the absence of an extra bank holiday, but there will also be no extra bank holiday next quarter either, nor the quarter after that, so we are comparing like for like already, it’s just a correct from an unusual event in the quarter before last.

    Basically you get a one-off effect from the event turning up, and then a one-off effect the following quarter when it is gone, but after that you are all square again.

  28. @AW

    Thanks for the clarification. I had it right, although I maybe didn’t express it as clearly as I might.

    Some analysts have questioned whether the Olympic effect is much more than 0.2% – e.g. were construction contracts included only when completed? – and Boris is trumpeting how well London did out of the Olympics.

    Anyway, the message is that of the 1.0% growth, 0.5% was the reversal of the Q2 bank holiday effect, and at least 0.2% was a one-off Olympic effect, leaving a ‘real’ increase of 0.3% at most. And reports of pretty dire September figures (which mostly won’t have been included in the reliminary GDP estimate), together with (for instance) today’s Ford news suggest that things are going to continue to look bad for a while yet.

    On the subject of Ford, my recollection is that they were one of many companies to put workers on short time working at the depth of the recession, but it seems to have taken them until now to finally admit defeat. If that is representative of UK manufacturing, then with the EZ poised to go into recession, there seems every reason to fear that unemployment is going to take a turn for the worse in the coming months.

  29. If the Olympics boosted GDP, and the Olympics was a publicly funded project, doesn’t it sort of prove that public spending will boost the economy?

  30. Anthony I think you might have ruined Robin’s day.He was hoping for a -0.5 instead he’s had to condede to +0.3

    I think today’s economic news, coupled with Camerons oncoming collision with Europe could see a nice little boost for the Conservatives, mainly former Tories coming home from UKIP, but also independents, and people who previously voted tory but have since gone off the idea may be more likely to return.

    Over the oncoming weeks, depending how the EU budget battle goes, I think the Cons could climb back to around 35%, Robin you can breathe a sigh of relief, I think Labour will still maintain a 5%/6% nice lead on around 40%/41% VI because of the Lib Dem defectors still sticking with Labour. I don’t think they will return to the Libs until the end of the Coalition (likely 2014) even then it won’t be all of them.

  31. Robin,

    The 0.5% is just an estimate. No one really knows if the bank holiday in the second quarter actually had that much affect – it is certainly much disputed by many economists!

    But yes, I think we are probably really looking at underlying growth of around 0.3% per quarter now – or annual growth of around 1.2%. Although still very disappointing, it certainly paints a much rosier picture than even a few weeks ago!

  32. Nick, don’t forget the Olympics was mixed. It had public funding sure, but it also had private funding from sponsors who contributed a sizeable amount. I don’t think it shows one side being better than the other, but it shows the success that can be had when both come together.

  33. NIck

    “If the Olympics boosted GDP, and the Olympics was a publicly funded project, doesn’t it sort of prove that public spending will boost the economy?”

    Quarterly Olympics it is then, with no building costs after the first time round.

  34. statgeek

    We could also run a quarterly World Cup and a quarterly Christmas and have something going on every month.

    The economy would reach Mars and beyond in no time!

  35. Mike Smithson (PB) is reporting a new Ipsos Mori telephone poll.
    Lab 43% (+2)
    Tory 33% (+3)
    LD 9% (-4)

    He also reports that Nick Clegg has the lowest rating of any Lib Dem leader in history of -45%.

  36. @Robin – you are correct in your understanding. The Q3 figures are boosted by the unwinding of the Q2 bank holiday effect, meaning the underlying growth is 0.5%, with any Olympics boost contained within that.

    While obviously some are trying to suggest this is the work of ‘naysayers’, they are in the main the same people who told us things weren’t so bad last time around because of the bank holiday effect. As ever, people can change tunes to suite their views.

    In terms of VI impact, I think AW has it bang on. The government is just plain unlucky that Ford have announced 1,300 job losses in key constituencies today. These are iconic manufacturing plants with a long history, and demonstrates that the much needed rebalancing of the economy isn’t happening. This event will take much of the news gloss off the GDP figures.

    For those optimistically proclaiming these figures, a further note of caution. The combined effect of increased government spending and improvement in the finance sector added 0.7% to the figures. In other words, the rest of the economy could only manage net growth of 0.3%, with the likelihood of downward revisions once firm September data comes through. State spending is still rising faster than economic growth.

    The recession is technically over, but I there is little sign of much to be overly optimistic about. It’s just a bit less bad than it could have been.

  37. @ Allan Christie

    If we are doing political jokes today, my favourite (which can be easily updated given the world situation) is:

    Robert Mugabe, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel are in a plane when the pilot gives the warning to get into a parachute and bail out. They can only find one parachute so they argue about who should have it.

    Mugabe says he is the leader of the greatest country in the greatest continent on earth..

    Obama says the same.

    Merkel says the same.

    Mugabe decides that they aren’t getting anywhere and proposes a vote (you can’t vote for yourself).

    Mugabe wins by 4 votes.

  38. @Shevii

    Not so much a joke as a historical anecdote (possibly apocryphal).

    After years of political struggle and unrest in Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda establishes a 1-party state. For this he is much reviled, especially by the US. One day he meets the US Secretary of State, who once again criticises the undemocratic nature of the Kaunda regime. Kaunda listens patiently, and then replies:

    “Yes, it is true we have a one-party state, but you must realise that we are taking our lessons in democracy from your great country. For you also have a one-party state – except that with typical American extravagance, you have two of them.”

  39. Tony Dean
    Would it be fair to say UKIP do better when voters know that their vote actually has a chance of electing their choice (EU elections)? I think this explains why they don’t get anywhere under FPTP (although I believe there are some UKIP councillors).

  40. I understand when we have bad economic news, it’s bad, but even when we have good figures people are pessimistic. We were all hammering the Tories when things were going badly (myself included) but now we’ve had some good news can we just accept it instead of trying to unpick it.

    Similar thing in America, Obama gets unemployment below 8% and the naysayers (the right this time) say, “oh its not good enough, oh took you long enough, oh its not real because people stopped searching and aren’t counted”

    Let’s hammer the government whatever the political stripe when there’s bad news, but praise them for the good news.

  41. MiM

    Not I’m not sure if I’m on the left or right, cos the employment figures in the states are pure spin and number doctoring which must make me a rightwinger but the GDP numbers in the UK are a blip created out of dodgy accounting which won’t be sustained which must mean I’m a leftwinger

  42. some people on here have an interesting take on official statistics . for the last few months when there were figures saying the economy was doing bad we were assured the statistics were unreliable ,now we are being told this one on gdp IS reliable. do we all just believe and trumpet the ones that reflect our own political bias?

  43. maninthemiddle but many people said the negative figures were not true,thats the point. same as official figures on crime [Snip] the truth is recorded crime has been falling under both labour and the tories.

  44. shevii a far better example of a tyrant is rwandan strongman( supported by the west) paul kagame. 2 brave female journalists criticized him and will be spend ing many years of their life in prison, with a deafening silence from dictator kagames friends. he has been implicated in the genocidal attacks in the eastern congo with his aid only being stopped recently. morgan tsvangirai the zimbabwe opposition leader has it easy ,in rwanda he would be in prison or have a bullet in his head.

  45. question on polling on voting intention. i was looking at the ashcroft corby poll with labour 22% ahead . is there any evidence from past polls/elections whether a big poll lead influences the actual result by causing overconfidence and subsequent apathy to not bother voting,the assunmption being they’ve already got it in the bag?

  46. Recession, double-dip with flake, bank-holiday, olympics etc etc etc ia all hot air.

    Government popularity will be decided by what is happening to individuals and their families if they have any.

    Just for one example I know of social workers who are overworked, having had much needed colleagues made redundant, who are being asked to speed up cases, thus putting vulnerable clients at risk and, at the same time are having virtually all their conditions arbitrarily altered and their pay effectively cut.

    I don’t think they are busy checking growth figures and they are just one part of an ice-berg of discontent.

    The most stupid omission of government has been their lack of explananation as to why this has all happenened. It quite clearly has NOT been the fault of people like social workers yet, in a mad dash to blame the other party, there has never been a clear rationale as to what went wrong globally and why the best way forward is for people to lose their jobs.

    Adversarial politics might decrease if we had sensible PR.

  47. @PaulCroft,

    You are right to a point, but GDP and growth figures create a strong impression amongst the general public of how successful/unsuccessful a government’s economic policy has proven to be. From that perspective, economic growth (i.e. GDP) figures are vitally important to the government and Labour’s fortunes in 2015.

  48. shevii

    Ha Ha love it lol. :)

    “I’d say anything above 0.4% will be seen as better than before”.
    That is, if anyone remembers what it was before. On the other hand though, I wouldn’t be too sure.

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