When a party goes up or down in the polls there is inevitably speculation as to why. Sadly it’s not normally very good speculation… there is always a temptation for people to follow the logic of I think issue X is very important therefore issue X is the cause of the recent shift in the polls. Inferences from polls are not always much better than that – people who are supporting party Y are more likely to think X, therefore X has caused the increased support for that party. It sounds okay, but what about issues A, B and C which weren’t asked in the poll?

Daily polling does at least give us an idea of when movements in public opinion have happened, and therefore make inferences about what events may have caused them. The graph below shows a five day rolling average of UKIP’s support in YouGov’s daily poll since the end of 2011.

You can see there are two big increases – the first was the Budget in 2012, nothing to do with immigration or Europe or any of those issues we associate with UKIP, the thing that co-incided with an increase in UKIP support more than anything else was the budget. My guess, given the demographic make up of UKIP’s vote, that the granny tax and the messages it sent out were the most important factor there. UKIP’s support then faded away a bit, had a couple of lumps and bumps during the autumn and then shot up again during November when there was an almost perfect storm for them – the run up to the EU budget summit, a decent performance in the police elections, the Rotherham fostering row, the speculation over a Con-UKIP pact and finally the solid by-election performance at the end of the month, all combining to produce far more news coverage than the party could normally dream of. It is possible that the gay marriage issue since then has helped keep their support up.

All of this is still a far cry from proving what causes the ups and downs in UKIP support, after all, correlation does not prove causality. There could have been other events at the same time that got less attention, but it is normally a fairly good pointer.

Note also the biggest drop in UKIP support, back at the end of 2011 at the time of David Cameron’s veto in Europe. As I wrote the other day, Europe isn’t actually the main driver of UKIP support, so if the Conservatives suddenly became more anti-European UKIP would not vanish like magic… but it is an issue that plays to the sort of values that drive UKIP voters, so neither is it irrelevant.

223 Responses to “The ups and downs of UKIP”

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  1. Very interesting piece by David Herdson on pb, setting out why nothing will change-despite Obama’s fine words.

  2. The end of the word has begun up t’norf with forty days of rain. I have moved my guitars to the loft.

  3. Must be 45 days of it here. Non-stop all week.

  4. When is the last poll of the year – tomorrow? And how long until we get our next fix.

    There’s going to be cold turkey until the new year, in more ways than one.

  5. The Ashcroft poll by Populus is big enough (sub sample 1700+) and has enough detail to allow the broad picture of Scottish Westminster VI to be gleaned.

    VI, weighted to 2010 vote shares across GB rather than Scotland (Table 4), is:
    Con 17%, Lab 37%, LD 5%, SNP 34%.

    However, that’s on the basis of recalled Scottish past vote in 2010 as follows (Table 7) Con 19%, Lab 35%, LD 15%, SNP 29%, with no attempt made to take into account the actual vote shares in weighting. That matters as the actual margin of Labour over the SNP in 2010 was 22%, not 6%. There may well be a bit of false recall going on to explain away some of the difference, but even so it’s difficult to resist the conclusion that a properly weighted sample would uplift the Labour share and reduce the SNP share by enough to produce a double-digit Labour lead.

    Of course all of that matters not if Amber is right in her view that polls are so volatile as to count for next to nothing in Scotland.

  6. Robin

    Don’t you have a microwave???

  7. On UKIP, I wonder if the current high (increasing?) %support, and attendant publicity will act as a magnet for more support? In that case Labour might not have to worry about retaining borrowed LD support.

    On Guns, I wonder where to draw the line about how much weaponry is needed to keep someone “bearing arms” safe? Assuming that that does actually do so, more than running away/hiding. Does the “right to bear arms” imply that anything (eg tactical nukes) could be carried if required for “safety”? Is that freedom more important than preventing “unfortunate accidents”?

  8. @ Phil Haines

    Perhaps a bit of false recall with the LDs too. Not surprising really with the unpopularity of the decision in Scotland in particualar to go into coalition with the Tories in.

    Its interesting to note that even though the LDs can probably expect to be slaughtered in Scotland next time around according to the UKPR advanced swingometre they would hold 6 seats on just 8% of the vote.

    I actually would not be surprised if they did hold those 6 too simply because of the vagaries of FPTP. And that false recall maybe feeding into a Scottish polling scenario which is a smidge more dire than the desperate situation it undoubtedly is.

  9. Phil Haines

    The two latest Ashcroft polls have produced somewhat different results in the Scottish sample.

    October – SNP 39% : Lab 33% : Con 16% : LD 6% : UKIP 4% : Green 2%.

    November – Lab 37% : SNP 34% : Con 17% :LDs 5% : Greens and UKIP both on 3%.

    It could be that they were differently biased samples, though Statgeek noted the higher recalled SNP vote in the October poll, and the same phenomenon occurs in the November poll.

    Amber’s analysis seems to be backed up by these polls.

    As to “false” recall – “confused” recall might be a better term for Scotland (and perhaps Wales).

    In the November Ashcroft poll, The English figures match pretty well with the 2010 results, but the Scots ones don’t. The recalled Labour vote is 5% down on what actually happened in 2010 : Lib-Dems down 14% : SNP up 14% – with only 1-2% changes for other parties.

    Now it is possible that these Scottish samples happen to have asked a load of extra folk who happened to be SNP voters in 2010. However, it seems more likely that a fair number of Scots remember 2011 as the last GE that they voted in. That doesn’t discredit their current voting intention – just that polling designed for England can have problems here.

    In any case, speculation about will happen in Scotland in 2015, is as about as useful as haruspicy.

    What happens in 2014 (not just the result, but the balance of the Yes and No votes) will have a significant effect on voting in the UK GE the next year.

  10. @Oldnat / Phil

    The cross-breaks is the main reason I don’t spend too much time talking about the changes one way or another. Also because Scotland has been Labour-dominated for so long, there’s no news. The SNP getting some parity would be news though.

    Just for you, here’s a comparison between the UK and Scotland for how the min values and max values over thirty polls differ:


    Scaled the UK chart to highlight the difference.


    Given the size of Ashcroft’s polls, it would be possible to weight the geographic samples to the local demographics.

    The recall question (if used for weighting) would probably still cause problems in Scotland and Wales, though.

    As it is, they do tell us little more than samples of 40 or 100.

  12. “they do tell us little more”

    should have been

    “they do tell us a little more”

    Missing out a single letter totally changes the meaning!

  13. Oldnat interesting question there.

    If Scotland votes Yes to independence in 2014 which I hope they do, will they be allowed to vote in the UK election in 2015?

    Does anyone know the timeframe between having the referendum and actually declaring independence as it won’t be instant.


    In the event of a Yes vote, I think the UK and Scottish Parliaments would be free to make appropriate transitional arrangements for UK citizens in Scotland to be democratically represented at UK level – as long as human rights legislation wasn’t broken.

    If by “allowed”, you mean that the UK Parliament could unilaterally legislate to deny voting rights to those in Scotland, that would probably be in breach of Article 3 of Protocol No1 of the ECHR.

    The timeframe, would also be a matter of agreement between the two Governments. That is what the Edinburgh Agreement is designed to facilitate. 18 months to two years seems a likely timescale to allow for the main issues to be negotiated.

  15. I don’t think it fair that the Scots might vote for a government they won’t get, so unless Independence will be 2020 and beyond (five years to make the transition), I would say they should not.

    Other than a transitional period it would be pointless anyway. Once separated, the Scottish MPs would not be part of the rUK government.


    But your suggestion would probably disenfranchise the likes of Amber(?), who might wish to retain her rUK citizenship, and would want to cast her vote in whatever constituency rUK created to cover her new ex-pat status (which current legislation doesn’t cover for those who haven’t been on an rUK electoral register in the last 15 years).

  17. “Does anyone know the timeframe between having the referendum and actually declaring independence as it won’t be instant.”

    well If I was Cameron looking at current polls I would try to postpone the UK election until after 2016 and formal Independence and go for it on new Uk boundaries.

    Labour would fight it tooth and nail, but I think like the Tories the LibdDems would want all the time they could get to try to turn the economy around.

    Apart from anything else the LibDems would automatically be eleven seats down and the tories only one.

    Another attractive prospect for Cameron would be a late October early November election in 2014, just after a “Yes” vote.

    In that scenario nomininally the Tories woulds start 1 seat down, the LibDems 11 lower, but Labour…. 41 down.

    Triming the seat gap with Labour by 40 seats would be hard for any tory to resist!

    I wonder what would happen to their vote if UKIP backed Independence?


  18. KEITHP

    “On UKIP, I wonder if the current high (increasing?) %support, and attendant publicity will act as a magnet for more support? In that case Labour might not have to worry about retaining borrowed LD support”

    IMO this is where we need to look for a policy basis rat her than a party loyalty basis of VI, pace AW, who says poll responses and VI do not reflect poliicies. My view the development of LD supporf has, particularly since the SDP defectiosn, been based on social democratic beliefs and principles, thus within the poltical spectrum left of centre, in quite specific areas of policy, since 2010 located in the Labour Party, and ceasing to exist in LD.
    Thus these are not borrowed, but achieved through the provision of managed political space and policies located in an electable party and in an effective oppoosition to a governing party which has policies not acceptable to l of c voters. Time and process are involved in turning a collection of specific policies which do not particularly or discernibly affect VI, into a coherent or coherently perceived policy framework which meet the aspirations and needs of voters..

  19. Latest YouGov / The Sunday Times results 21st – 23rd December – CON 33%, LAB 43%, LD 10%, UKIP 8%; APP -32

  20. @ Old Nat

    This article demonstrates why I choose to not own a gun and generally to stay away from them. Rage issues.


    Or rather articles like this one that absolutely send me into a blinding rage and fit of pure anger. Do you ever read an article and just want to reach into the pages and rip the heads off of the people quoted in them? I mean, it’s 2012! Almost 2013. When are people going to get over these god damn race issues and grow up already?

  21. Interesting cross-breaks about who is trusted. Hardly anybody by the looks of it! Politicians score badly. Also interesting that senior police officers are trusted less than beat officers.

  22. Ozwald
    There’s an Mori poll from 77 or 78 somewhere in their archives (I’ll dig it out later) on the public’s trust in politicians. The figures were off the scale on questions such as whether the politicians were basically honest.

    To my mind, the loss of public trust in politicians is THE most important and frightening development in my adult lifetime. I do wonder, if things got really tough here, how strong our democracy really would be now.

    And I wonder what has caused this change in attitude.

    Is it that politicians a really have become more dishonest and less trustworthy? On one hand, you could argue that the dismantling of the post-War consensus left the public feeling that we weren’t all in it together. And of course actions like Iraq drain away the public’s faith in the honesty of politicians.

    But then. Was Iraq a fundamentally more mendacious action than Suez? Was the misleading of the country by the Executive over the dodgy dossier more conniving than how Chevaline was kept secret by Wilson and Heath?

    So is it the media that has brought about a change to a more cynical public? Private Eye, Spitting Image and the tabloid revolution have left us all less deferential. But the worry is that we, the electorate, have developed a nose for can’t and dissembling, but no willingness to address the complexities of political reality. So we want our politicians to deal with really tough real world problems AND be moral saints. And if they fail on either count, we will despise them.

  23. @Lefty
    I think the ‘less deferential’ angle is part of it. My own judgement is highly coloured at the moment, having spent a lot of time and energy over two years in defending a family where the mum had dared to complain about her social worker. The sw paid her back ruthlessly and had her in court umpteen times on trumped up charges and wrote many negative reports which were pure fiction. We won in the end by using the Data Protection Act to force disclosure of material which turned the tables and the sw was disciplined (but not sacked needless to say).

    For good measure I have been fighting a stitchup case for 5 years – of an innocent guy who was framed for ‘crimes and misdeeds’ by a certain public official. That guy is me and I am suing. I expect to win. My faith in some ‘public servants’ was destroyed a long time ago.

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