This morning’s YouGov/Sun poll has got a lot of attention because it shows an extreme – CON 30%, LAB 45%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 9% – the biggest Labour lead since YouGov started doing their regular polls in 2002. Usual caveats apply – the polls that show striking figures normally end up being outliers, it’s the underlying trend that counts. Even there though, it certainly looks as though the Conservative bounce from the referendum pledge has unwound and Labour are back into a comfortable double-figure lead.

More enlightening are the other figures from YouGov today. As usual a majority of people support the introduction of gay marriage (54% to 38%), and as I wrote on Sunday, the issue itself is not one that has particular salience or will move many voters come the general election in two years time. However, the damage that prolonged coverage of Conservative infighting (on gay marriage, and presumably the leadership plot rumours) is clear – 71% of people see the Conservatives as a divided party, only 10% see them as a united party. This is a question YouGov have been asking since 2003, and this is the highest ever proportion of people who have seen them as divided – more than during the 2005 leadership challenge, or just before IDS was defenestrated.

439 Responses to “71% see the Conservatives as divided”

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  1. The dead swans lay in the stagnant pool.
    They lay.
    They rotted.
    They turned around occasionally.
    Bits of flesh dropped off them from time to time.
    And sank into the pool’s mire.
    They also smelt a great deal.

    – Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings (Paul Neil Milne Johnstone), 37 Wasp Villas, Greenbridge, Essex, GB10 1LL

  2. Martyn

    Brought tears to my eyes – and to those of my toaster who has only ever heard the words “C’MON – HURRY UP.” before.

    I have given him a name now and will treat him with greater respect in future.

  3. So… How soon till get polls asking “Who would be the best leader for the Conservative Party?”

  4. @PaulCroft

    You’re welcome


  5. Feb 28th is the confirmed date of the Eastleigh by-election.

  6. Tinged.
    I forgot to mention my earlier post that it was commonly agreed among activists that a snap election was beneficial to LD.

  7. I think calling the BE so quickly will really help the Libs in Eastleigh. They’re the Finns to the Tory/Labour Soviet Union – hopelessly outgunned, but not outmanned.

  8. I haven’t contributed for a long time because sometimes there is too much boringly unsubtle partisanship, but looking in to see how everyone’s doing I’m impressed to see how polyglot you’ve all become. I was interested to see the Brecht quotation. I know it’s not remotely connected with polling and that most of you will be underwhelmed with my knowledge of French literature, but ‘Mais ou [sic – no accent] sont les neiges d’antan’ comes from Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis (Ballad of the Women of Former Times) by François Villon (born 1431), and so Brecht is quoting.

    Despite my opening moan I never cease to be impressed by Anthony’s analyses and by the detachment from personal prejudices that some contributors display.

  9. Howard
    If I had any money to bet, I’d place it all on a Tory win, sorry.

    The only poll we’ve had for Eastleigh (admittedly from Oct 2010) had the Tories easily winning – that was back when the Tories were polling a lot higher, but the LibDems have to pray for Labour anti-Tory tactical voters backing them (that poll indicated not).
    Which means that they can only run on an anti-Tory ticket.. which is a bit difficult given that they almost completely fully back coalition policy.

  10. Good Evening All.

    Politics has got very interesting.

    The Lib Dems will have a huge three cornered fight I think.

  11. Pre poling it is impossible to assess I reckon.

  12. OMG – Tony Blair is to be Labour’s candidate for Eastleigh!

  13. Just kidding ;-)

  14. Rats, I thought the ‘just kidding’ would be on the next page; my jolly jape has been foiled by unpredictable page breaks! :-(

  15. tingedfringe

    Feb 28th is the confirmed date of the Eastleigh by-election.

    They didn’t hang about did they? Anthony will know better, but I think that three weeks is the minimum time allowed for the campaign so they seem to going for getting it over with as quickly as possible – not the usual Lib Dem tactic.

  16. We need a monitor for behaviour like that and I’m too busy.

  17. A Jolly-Japes-Monitor is the title.


  18. I could be the Funstable?

  19. Roger – actually it can be even tighter for a by-election. For a general election there is a fixed gap between the issue of the writ and polling of 17 weekdays (which works out at three weeks and two days).

    For a by-election there is some flexibility, it can be between 12 and 18 weekdays, so you could theoretically have it after just two and a bit weeks. If the Lib Dems do move the writ tomorrow there are only 16 weekdays before polling, so it is indeed exceptionally tight.

  20. Well, although I joked about Boris, if candidates are chosen this weekend then with only two full weeks to campaign then a barnstorming candidate could be what it takes!


  21. It makes sense to hold a fast by-election as it should cut down on coalition in-fighting.

    If the Labs still vote Lib then Libs are in with a chance otherwise it is curtains and has interesting consequences for other Con\Lib marginals.

    I wonder if Labour can muster a high profile candidate?

  22. Peter Crouch?

  23. @ Daodao

    “Unless the [Lib] Dems have a pre-selected candidate up their sleeve, I suspect that they want the BE out-of the-way asap because they expect to lose.”

    They are likely to stand the respected and well known leader of the local council. Why would the party expect to lose when they have ALL the councillors in the constituency and as recently as last year got 47% of the vote? By the way, Labour lost its sole remaining councillor there in 2011.

  24. Why?

    Why on earth does every moronic conservative mp that opposed this vote feel the need to go on the radio and tv stations and spout thier views on how terrible gay marrige is when it will have no bearing on the actual outcome of the vote.

    All it does is show the public that we “are at it again”

    Do they not actually stop and think?, I would of voted no but i would have kept my mouth firmly shut.

    Getting really tired of certain Conservative mp’s and i really hope the odd one loses thier seat in the next GE.

  25. @ Couper

    Only takes a couple of hours to get a good infight going!

    Very sensible of the Lib Dems to go for a quick election. Presumably, given their local election results, they must have covered the area pretty well with a high canvass return from the last couple of years. The other parties are probably nowhere near that and are starting from somewhere near scratch. Lib Dems can get the window bills up before anyone else and create a ‘winning here’ feel- even if they are not.

  26. I well recall that Ted Heath called the General Election for 28th February on February 7th 1974.As Anthony has already pointed out , a little more notice would be needed nowadays.

  27. BlueBob: I hope about 70 lose their seats to Labour candidates :p


    Just back from 10k plus beach run.

    Tony is back. Hi. Ya.

    He would win by a mile. Which Party is he representing please?

  29. GRAHAM.
    I was 18 years and 7 months on Feb 28 1974. Studying in a monastery in Salford! An exciting election.

    I remember so well Anthony Howard on the BBC Election programme saying he thought it was going to be Labour’s Day. It was.

  30. @Chrislane

    “Which Party is he representing please?”

    He’s standing as an independent:

    “Tony Blair – EU Presidential and Middle Eastern peace candidate”

  31. I’m not sure why Cameron has to apologise for Labours disastrous handling of the Mid Staffs hospital disgrace perhaps he thought if he had wait for Miliband to offer an apology to the relatives of the victims on behalf of the previous Labour government that would have taken to long.
    This was such a deeply shocking affair it makes you wonder exactly who can be trusted with the NHS certainly not Labour it seems.
    We can only hope the measures recommended by Francis are fully implemented and in stead of chasing targets the NHS starts chasing care.

  32. @Turk

    I haven’t been following the story. Who is largely to blame? Labour, or was it just on their watch?

  33. Tinged
    No need to feel sorry for me, I don’t care about these things that much (must be the colour behind my contributions that makes you think that). I actually predicted a Con win a day or so ago but it all depends on the UKIP performance.

    I don’t see Labour getting anywhere as they start from too low a level I would have thought.

    I expect the voters will have something to do with it too.


    Many thanks for that information. Any relation to the three times a winner politician who became leader of the ‘Labour Movement’ the day before our third child was born?

  35. NICKP

    I like the Langston Hughes poem.

    My favourite Vachel Lindsay is ” The Flower -Fed Buffaloes”.

  36. Over at PB, Mike Smithson was earlier making predictions based on UNS from the 2010 result. Here’s my take on it.

    The 2005 result in the seat is probably the best benchmark we have, as that election was fought without an incumbency vote for the (new) LD candidate. Huhne subsequently boosted his share in 2010 at the expense of the Lab vote, but that’s par for the course for a LD incumbent, and such a boost has to be discounted given his departure.

    So let’s starti from the 2005 result
    LD 38.3%, Con 37.2%, Lab 21.1%

    Now take the GE national poll share in 2005 and compare it with the current YouGov national poll (i.e. 10% Lab lead rather than the 15% one). Apply the uniform national swing since 2005 to Eastleigh and you get:
    LD 27.9%, Con 35.9%, Lab 27.0%.

    All to play for, I think.


  37. I though I saw that Keith House the Eastleigh council leader had ruled himself out, but maybe not. The Times thinks it will be another LD councillor David Goodall, who has been involved in a campaign recently:

    We should find out at the weekend.

    Times also thinks 2010 candidate Maria Hutchings is favourite for the Cons – which should please Daniel Hannan.


    Thank you for that analysis of Eastleigh.

    I think Labour nearly won it on March 31 1966.

  39. Waiting to see if the Sun
    Will tweet the next poll
    Or will we wait till morning?

  40. Bluebob

    Agree with your post entirely re: moaning Tory MP’s, I think that many of them are just interested in themselves & being on TV. They would almost rather be out of power and carping, than relishing being in government and trying to stay there. They are dinosaurs. The world has moved on.

    DC really needs blue versions of Alistair Campbell & John Prescot to manage the press and the backbench malcontents. Whatever you think of those two otherwise, Blair would have been unlikely to have survived without them as they were highly effective.

    But please, It is, …I would have voted … not, I would of voted….

    You are obviously under 25!

  41. The fact that Miliband DID apologise in parliament today just highlights the petty, partisan nature of Turk’s latest post – in contrast to the typical compassion at such times, shown by Cameron in his own statement.

    The people realy to blame were those actually working for the hospital trust it seems to me.

  42. Phil

    You can add to that the fact that Labour supporters are likely to vote labour en masse this time, rather than the vote LD to keep Cons out previously preferred option.

    Very close maybe.

  43. TURK

    @”We can only hope the measures recommended by Francis are fully implemented”

    Indeed. Just been catching up after a day in London.

    The stories are appalling-where was the basic humanity?

    DT’s list of the guilty top people :-

  44. @ Phil Haines

    My predicted vote share is similar for Con/Lab (& thus a Tory gain), but with the Lie Dems slightly lower in 3rd place at 23-25%, as when an MP resigns under a cloud, their party suffers a little more at the resulting BE. I also estimate that the UKIP vote share will increase to 8-10%. A taste of something to come for the contemporary Vicar of Bray (alias NC) at the next GE.

  45. @BlueBob

    “Getting really tired of certain Conservative mp’s and i really hope the odd one loses thier seat in the next GE.”

    Join the club! There are a lot of Tory MPs who could be described as odd ones and you’ll be pleased to hear that I will be working flat out to evict the one we have as our local MP in May 2015.

    Wish me well, won’t you! lol

  46. Someone over at LibDemVoice has done the work of percentificating the votes cast within the Eastleigh constituency at May local elections…

    In 2012:
    LD 47.2%, Con 22%, Lab 16.8%, UKIP 11.7%

    In 2011:
    LD 46.9%, Con 25.8%, Lab 16.2%, UKIP 8%.

  47. If Labour win Eastleigh the effect on the Tory backbenches will be seismic.

  48. @Colin

    Thanks for providing us with the Daily Telegraph’s thoughts on the Mid Staffs Hospital scandal. As always, very interesting and I wasn’t at all surprised that they fingered Andy Burnham amongst their rogues gallery.

    I see Sir Liam Donaldson is also named and shamed. What did you think of Jeremy Hunt’s staunch defence and effusive praise of Donaldson today? It was interesting, didn’t you think?

  49. NickP

    Ever the optimist!

  50. iApologes, not Sir Liam Donaldson. That should be Sir David Nicholson. I got my Knights muddled up!

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