YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times is now out here. The fieldwork was done a day later than usual, between Friday and Saturday, so it could contain some proper post-Leveson questions. The voting intention figures are CON 31%, LAB 44%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 10%.
As we’ve consistently seen, there is majority support for the principle of tougher regulation of the press – 68% of people think there needs to be tougher regulation, 21% do not. There is majority support amongst supports of all parties.
On the main dividing line that has emerged from Leveson, 58% of people think that there should be laws backing up the new regulatory system, compared to 26% of people who are opposed. Again, a majority of supporters of all parties back a new law. However, later questions in the survey suggest some reservations – 52% of people agree that MPs should have no role in the design of the system of regulation, and 47% of people think there is a risk of future governments using the laws to control the media.
Overall 25% of people thought that giving the state a role in the regulation of the press would be a major and welcome change, 21% of people think it would be a major but worrying change. 32% think it would only be a minor change and 22% don’t know.
Asked about the stances of the three party leaders respondents start to fall into more partisan responses. People think David Cameron is wrong to oppose the recommendation of new laws to back up new regulatory body by 50% to 29%, but Tory voters support him by 48% to 34%. Responses become even more partisan when YouGov asked why David Cameron was opposing the new laws – by 59% to 26% Conservative supporters think it is because he believes in the principle of the free press, by 74% to 8% Labour supporters think he is currying favour with newspaper editors . We see the same pattern in attitudes to Ed Miliband, Labour supporters think he is supporting the recommendations to protect the victims of press misbehaviour by 54% to 24%, but by 75% to 15% Conservative supporters think he is just trying to undermine the government.
It’s a lovely illustration of something I’ve written about before, of how people interpret political events through the prism of their pre-existing political views. Hence people tend to support legal underpinning for media regulation, but when current Conservative voters see David Cameron opposing this and Ed Miliband supporting it they see David Cameron acting out of principle and Ed Miliband being opportunistic, when Labour supporters see the same thing they see Ed Miliband acting to protect the victims of press intrusion while David Cameron sucks up to the newspapers. Events are as likely to reinforce existing political views as change them.
That doesn’t mean Leveson won’t have any impact – the 13 point lead for Labour in today’s poll is fairly high and we’ll see if it sticks, although that could equally be the knock-on impact of the high levels of UKIP support we’ve seen over the last few days.