With under a week to go till the by-election tomorrow’s Times has a Populus poll of Eastleigh (£). Voting intention now stands at CON 28%, LAB 11%, LDEM 33%, UKIP 21%.

If one assumes that the Ashcroft poll earlier this month was conducted by Populus using the same methodology, then this suggests that the Conservatives and Labour have both gone significantly backwards during the by-election campaign, while UKIP have advanced into a solid third place.

I’m hoping we may have more Eastleigh polling over the coming days so I’ll update once it arrives or once we’ve seen the Populus tables.

UPDATE: Rick Nye has kindly sent me over the detailed tables for the Populus poll so here are a couple more things worth noting:

First, there is a very high level of don’t knows or refusals. Populus interviewed 1001 people, but a quarter said don’t know and a further 12% refused to give a voting intention. In a close race that high proportion of don’t knows obviously have the potential to change things.

Secondly, Populus don’t just ignore those don’t knows. Like ICM they assume that a proportion of them will end up voting for the party they did in 2010. This adjustment made no difference to the Lib Dem lead, but reduced the reported level of UKIP support (as they didn’t have many former 2010 voters to reallocate).

Without the reallocation of don’t knows the topline figures would have been CON 26%, LAB 12%, LD 31%, UKIP 25%. The reallocation of don’t knows has worked very well for ICM and Populus at general elections, improving their accuracy, but I remain uncertain about how well it works at by-elections. Without it the position between UKIP and the Conservatives is very tight.

Thirdly, everyone assumes that the UKIP support comes mainly from the Conservatives. It isn’t quite the case. 17% of 2010 Tory voters are saying they would vote UKIP, but so are 11% of 2010 Lib Dem voters and 10% of 2010 Lab voters.

194 Responses to “Populus give the Lib Dems a 5 point lead in Eastleigh”

1 2 3 4
  1. Howard

    You have gthe job if you can convince us all that no party will win.


    I was the first to suggest that a decent showing for ukip in the next [i.e. this] poll] could have a domino effect and it does look possible. As I and others have said the ukip candidate does NOT seem barmy – in fact the opposite.

    Also suggested the winner will be under 30% which is just possible still.

    Its all jolly good fun anyway

    Arsenal 6 Villa 1 [mystic prediction from Rosie and Daisie based on bones and doggie intuition.]

  2. George Osborne should increase the minimum wage. The recession seems not to be causing mass unemployment so it’s the one metric which he has some ‘play’ in.

    An increased minimum wage would likely give a spending boost which would help growth & probably increase tax revenues from paye & vat. It would allow him to forecast reduced tax credit & in-work benefits in future tax years.

    It would be a popular policy; raising the minimum wage – rather than aid spending or marriage equality – would change the Tory image overnight.

  3. @Alec
    Going beyond your magnificent prose it’s worth thinking about whether GO is really in such difficulties.

    From the point of view of logic and perhaps the market,analogies with holes and digging may well come to mind. However, I suspect that GO does not look at things in this way (or at least not consistently so). I think he calculates that anything that reminds people of debt, reminds them of Labour, Gordon Brown, Ed Balls and all the things that they have learned to blame for our economic ills, So provided there is even the slightest up turn by the time of the next GE bad economic news now will play to his advantage.

    And in the meanwhile he can point to the way in which unemployment is not as bad as might be expected. And this is subject on which you have also posted. I think your argument is that morally it is better if jobs are shared around, even if the effect is a loss of productivity. However, you also suggest that from another point of view it might be better if more firms went bust and more people went unemployed,since this is Capitalism’s Darwinian process that weeds out the inefficient firms and practices.

    My own view is that it would indeed be good if we could use the recession to get into more efficient ways of doing things but that it would be grossly unfair if we did this at the expense of people who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. So the shake out has, in my world, to be accompanied by real training, decent unemployment benefits, genuine encouragement for infrastructure,the green economy etc.

    Unfortunately GO does not really see things this way. Instead he seems to have succeeded in making debt toxic for labour, and making the unemployed the scapegoats with labour for our national decline. Personally I find his opinions on these matters completely unconvincing. This, however, does not all mean that he has not convinced others and that his arguments may not gain increasing traction as the GE approaches.


    @”these sorts of quotes will come back to haunt him.”

    Yes-hoist by his own petard as Adam Boulton observed this morning.

    That is where EB will try to inflict damage.

    But the Budget isn’t far off -& 2013 Q1 numbers-so the narrative will change soon.

    …………hopefully for the better !

  5. @ Colin

    Yes-hoist by his own petard as Adam Boulton observed this morning. That is where EB will try to inflict damage.
    EB is indeed saying that GO has inflicted damage on himself. But the full range of EB’s comments have been reported only in the Gruan (or behind pay walls) because EB has also said that the rating agencies have no credibility following their AAA ratings of subprime mortgages etc. in the run up to the financial crisis.

    Rating agencies may be all in the past. If the US legal action against S&P succeeds the ‘cost of doing business’ will become prohibitive for rating agencies who, until now, have expected not to be held to account for any inaccurate ratings.

  6. I wonder if Marta Andreasen can be deployed in Eastleigh with any real effect by DC?

    Her open letter is very critical of Farage & supportive of the post Referendum stance of DC.

    Blogosphere noises indicate caution required in respect of this lady & Farage tells DC he is welcome to an “impossible” person.

    Still-on the doorstep-could she persuade enough UKIP intenders to vote Con?

    “enough” would be a max of 3,000 on 2010 turnout-around a quarter of current UKIP VI , I think.

    Still think LDs will retain it, but those DKs are intriguing.

  7. AMBER


    There is certainly a conflicted desire on the left to both criticise GO for losing AAA-and say the Credit Agencies don’t matter.

    THe real numbers-and the Budget-are much more important to GO than anything EB says about Moodys.

    I like your min, wage idea-neat.
    But it usually only goes up in pence doesn’t it?-and how many people actually get paid at that rate ?

  8. @Amber
    “But the full range of EB’s comments have been reported only in the Gruan (or behind pay walls) because EB has also said that the rating agencies have no credibility following their AAA ratings of subprime mortgages etc. in the run up to the financial crisis.”

    However, EB was able to get that point across on “Today” this morning. Writing as someone who’s been critical of EB in the past, for once I felt he got his points across well and effectively.

    Osborne was as usual notable by his absence in the midst of bad news. Yet again Alexander was the one put up to face the flak.

  9. The poll (without reallocation) shows that if the Cons can squeeze 3% or so of those intending to vote UKIP, they can win comfortably.

    Good poll for the Tories.

  10. RAF

    Eh ????

  11. In the longer term, and in polls generally, the only silver lining for the cons is if one lumped ukip and con totals and called them all “right-wing”. That could potentially unravel into a larger con vote eventually.

    Problem is that is probably too simplistic if, as seems likely, the ukip VI is an amalgam of all sides.

  12. @Colin

    A great deal of people get paid Minimum wage. As has been pointed out before, population to wage distribution is not a bell curve, it peaks at just a bit over minimum wage then declines down rather steeply till it gets to the football players and bank CEOs.


    GO’s political response to pretty much everything in the past has been to announce further and deeper cuts. Why do you think he will change course now?

  13. @Charles – a great and thoughtful post.

    On Osborne, I think you are correct, in that any scent of improvement and he will try to argue things are working. The difficulty he may have is credibility. The Major government could point to solid and sustained economic growth post Black Wednesday, but they got absolutely no credit for it and the events around the ERM debacle so shattered confidence in them that no one was prepared to give them any credit when things did start to improve.

    Loss of AAA is nothing like the ERM exit in the public consciousness, but it’s another hurdle for Osborne to leap, with his credibility already suffering. The difficult question is exactly how much concern voters will place on debt and the deficit, as opposed to more immediate concerns over things like employment, inflation and living standards.

    In my mind, I’m worrying about how the AAA loss impacts on sterling and upward pressure on inflation, with a knock on impact on living standards. In addition, the strategy of front loading tax rises and back loading cuts, so these really kicked in once the economy was back in strong growth, has failed. We are now faced with a sweep of cuts against a stagnant economic background, and all this after Cameron and Osborne repeatedly told us the crisis was over and everything was on track.

    The UK’s strategy has been to keep the pound weak and increase liquidity through QE, letting inflation take care of itself. We’ve actually found that inflation has led to squeezed disposable incomes, which has been the biggest contributor to reduced growth, and the weak currency hasn’t helped build the long term growth in exports, which have been shrinking again over the last year.

    I actually think the policy prognosis for the UK is much, much weaker than people think, and that we have played our big bazooka’s already and they have flopped. We are in trouble, and if the markets start to agree with this sentiment, holy hell will break loose with the UK economy.

    I sincerely hope I am wrong, but my fear is that the loss of AAA for the UK will be the start of something very painful.

  14. I am strongly of the opinion that there is far far far too much obsessing over the AAA credit rating. It’s not the credit rating that matters, it’s what interest rate at which you can borrow money. In theory, the credit rating is supposed to affect in. In practice, I don’t believe it makes that much difference. A bad credit rating is simply a symptom, not a cause, of a country’s poor financial health.

    The idea that credit ratings determine bond interests rates relies on the assumption that lenders take any notice of credit ratings at all (for countries), and that is a highly dubious proposition. Ultimately, a credit rating is just a short-cut for lenders to decide what the risk is of a default of money you’ve lent a country or company. It’s reasonable to do this for companies you might know very little about and you allow the rating agency to make the judgement for you, but everybody knows the financial situation of the UK, France, Germany, the USA and the PIIGS. My belief is that everyone thinking of lending money to sovereigns has already made their minds up about who they trust to lend their money to, and change in credit rating won’t change anybody’s mind. (And, frankly, after the ratings agencies’ massive cock-up over AAA-rated sub-primes, if I was a lender I would put their ratings a long way down the list of things I trust.)

    We’ve already seen that the loss of a AAA credit rating in the USA and France had virtually no effect. The prospect of the UK losing a AAA rating has been anticipated for months, and if this was going to cause bond interest to rocket, we would have seen this by now. It hasn’t.

    So add me to the list of people who think this is economic non-news. Politically, of course, it’s an entirely different matter.

  15. @ Colin

    One in five workers in the UK is paid less than required for a basic standard of living, a KPMG report has said.

    Let’s say half could benefit from an increase in the minimum wage then a hugely significant 10% of the workforce would have increased spending power &/or reduced in-work benefit claims.

  16. Alec

    I doubt whether this AAA stuff cuts much ice with voters, any more than being ‘anti-EU’ cuts much ice with UKIP voters (see recent polls).

    The Budget will cut ice, were Osborne / Alexander to stick to the same mantra, namely more austerity in government expenditure and / or more taxes and / or higher taxes.

    That’s if Osborne and Alexander still are of the Faith?

  17. @Statgeek

    “Up until this poll, some Lab posters were predicting (hopefully) big gains for Lab, while others were predicting a Lib win.”

    Actually, I didn’t predict either scenario. I thought the Tories would gain the seat, as they still might, although it’s looking increasingly unlikely, on the basis of an improved Labour showing arising from a Lib Dem collapse. If I was right about that switch, then a decreased Tory vote would have allowed them to sneak in but, if the polls are correct, then I’ve obviously underestimated the weakness of the Tory vote, the resilience of the Lib Dem one and the capacity for a UKIP surge. Wrong on three counts. C’est la vie.

    Any talk of a Labour win was always fantasy since you have to go back to the mid 50s to find the last time they came even a decent runner up in Eastleigh. Make no mistake, this is natural Tory southern heartland, stolen from them by the Lib Dems when the “Strange Death of Tory England” occurred in the 1990s.

    If, as now looks likely, the Tories can’t beat a Lib Dem candidate in a Tory v Lib Dem marginal when the sitting MP resigned in disgrace and the Lib Dems are at about 10% in national poll, and getting monstered in most elections elsewhere, then I think things are beginning to look very, very bleak from them.

    If Labour won Eastleigh on Thursday, 320th on their target list, then forget about Mrs Miliband measuring curtains in Downing Street, I think Ed should get the pantechnicon parked outside the bloody place on Friday!!

    @Paul C

    6-1 to Arsenal this afternoon? So you think the Villa are going to score, then??

  18. I know this might sound stupid but has anyone considered the possibility that GO wanted the credit downgrade, afterall it has and will weaken the pound. The reason I raise this is because moody’s is under the control of the american administration although to what extent we don’t know, as someone mentioned s&p are being pursued in the courts, supposedly their crime was misrating sub prime bonds but many see it as revenge for their downrating of the usa, intrestingly the first credit agency to downgrade the usa has recently been banned for 3 years. There have been noises about taking moody’s to court, but there seems to be an implication that annoying benanke or obama would be the catalyst. I should mention at this point that moody’s is owned by a solid supporter of obama.

    We know that credit rating agencies gave better ratings than they should have because they were being paid. How much more will their ratings be influenced by the threat of court action and possible corporate death.

  19. CB

    We’ve already seen Labour annihilate the LDs in more northern seats (O&S – despite huge Tory tactical voting for LD – , Barnsley, Corby). If Labour tactical voting for LDs becoming a regional thing then the Tories are in a perfect storm. Facing battle in two fronts in the way that Labour did throughout the 80s.

  20. RiN

    You’re confusing economics with politics. Economically, last night’s development will be, at worst neutral, at best beneficial.

    Politically, it is a catastrophe.

    Had Osborne not repeated the AAA mantra ad nauseum, he might be able to reap rewards from any beneficial spin-off. But because of his lack of strategic sense from mid-10 to late-12 (when he FINALLY started downplaying the importance of AAA) he’s just written Labour’s election material for 15. Endless loops of Osborne justifying Austerity by the fact that it secured AAA.

  21. Aec

    “bazookas” is a plural – as in ‘a nice pair of bazookas.’

    On less serious matters I think we have all under-estimated how bleedin’ ORFUL the future is likely to be. In the UK we passed up our only chance to sort out the over pricing of housing ’97 onwards and I think things are very likely to get a LOT worse.

    Most perpiscacious and under-rated politician was Alistair Darling in my opinion.


    Well, the Arse have to let one in surely?

  22. RiN

    “I know this might sound stupid”

    Fairy nuff.

  23. The main parallel is with Black Wednesday is that there was a consensus among the main parties (join the ERM, prioritise employment growth over deficit reduction) and the party who were most reluctant to go down that direction nevertheless did and suffered the consequences of their poor judgement.

    The problems for the Tories are (a) that people don’t vote on counterfactuals and (b) they put a lot of rhetorical emphasis on deficit reduction.

    It reminds me a bit of Hamilton in 1967. Tory voters in Eastleigh aren’t going to switch to Labour on this news, but they might switch to UKIP…

  24. Just to clarify, I don’t wish to be sen standing alone, stating that the loss of AAA is, in itself, a big deal. After all, I was one of the first on here to decry that ratings agencies, both during subprime and subsequent sovereign downgrades.

    What I am saying, however, is that the governments deficit strategy is in a real mess, and we are currently being help together largely by benign market sentiment. At some point an event will come along – which may or may not be a sovereign downgrade – that could spark the beginning of a loss of sentiment and a downward spiral in the key market factors. In this, I believe yesterday’s AAA downgrade is potentially much more risky than those of France of the US at the time that those events occurred.

    I feel that the UK budget position is far more fragile than most people think, and while I’ll dismiss ratings agencies as readily as the next woman, if you build your strategy on sentiment alone, be prepared for illogical reactions to events, because when markets turn, they really turn.

  25. @paulcroft – ““bazookas” is a plural – as in ‘a nice pair of bazookas.’”

    I know – that’s why I used it. QE + devaluation are two things, therefore plural.

    Do keep up.

  26. Lefty

    Not sure how much the AAA has resonance with the public, that labour can make hay with it will be entertaining but will it shift many votes? On the other hand many conservatives believe that devaluing is a magic cure. What if they are right and a devalued pound leads to more exports and more jobs. Ok its a big risk but at this point dave and george have nothing to lose

  27. @Jayblanc

    At the last Autumn statement, GO had the opportunity to announce further cuts or tax rises to ameliorate the widening deficit figures. But he chose not to.

    I think that means he knows further austerity is counterproductive. But he is politically unable to say so.

  28. @Hal
    “I think that means he knows further austerity is counterproductive. But he is politically unable to say so.”
    Interesting thought. What chance that GO will soon be steering ‘hard-a-starboard’ whilst shouting ‘hard-a-port’ ?

  29. @Hal

    Leading quote from HM Treasury – “A further £6.6 billion package of savings from welfare, overseas aid and Departmental spending” – http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/as2012_index.htm

  30. @RiN – yes, devaluation will help UK exports, but as one of the world’s largest domestic markets, imports and the level of domestic demand are much more significant short run factors.

    The pricing of commodities in dollars is also a major headache, even for exporters, as already witnessed in sharply rising road fuel costs.

    The decision making nexus of exporters is also complex, with competitive devaluations helping, but slumping demand in our biggest export markets being a much more significant factor in the other direction.

    The key reason behind the UK’s poor performance in deficit reduction is the continuing household incomes squeeze. Late last year there were some signs that this was easing, which has been the main factor leading some to think we could be about to turn the economy round (albeit very slowly).

    However, a new round of imported inflation – even just the odd % higher – will create significantly more headwinds than tail races, and I don’t believe further tumbles in sterling will be beneficial in the time scales required by the coalition.

  31. Alex

    I would agree with you but a lot of tories still believe in devaluetion magic, that devalueation leads to even lower real wages is just an added bonus in their eyes

  32. Alec:

    You wrote [and I quote] – “bazooka’s”

    This is what is technically know as ‘wrong’.

    So – do try to keep up……………..

    As a general guide best to assume I’m right about everything and then you don’t come across as a George Osborne character.


  33. Looks like the LibDems are running into multiple abuse scandals – may not affect them in Eastleigh but not good.
    After all they have form on this issue dating back to the 1970’s.

  34. Amber

    Thank you.

    Many more than I had imagined.


    Thank you.

    Your second option-“In the run-up to GE10, he was desperate for a policy stance to differentiate himself from Labour. ” was the reason.

    RE-” Remember that GDP was rebounding quickly under the stimulus package”

    THe linkage is-to say the least-not proven. Jonathan Portes ( no less) recently questioned it’s stability.

    Re:-“I’ve said before that, having won (sic) the Election by invoking the debt ogre, an experienced and TRULY strategically savvy Chancellor would have changed the tune subtly. ”

    I disagree profoundly. Debt….more precisely , the inevitable trajectory of Debt , from a high deficit start…/IS the problem-internationally & domestically.
    GO was & is correct in remembering that at all times.

    WE will see how dead the meat is after some 2013/2014 numbers.

  35. @Paulcroft – “As a general guide best to assume I’m right about everything and then you don’t come across as a George Osborne character.”

    I’m so terribly sorry. I understand now, and bow to your superior intellect.

    I think it was Michelangelo who painted ‘Jesus’s’ Humiliation of the Apostrophe’, and he never quite recovered his reputation afterwards.

    I do hope the same fate doesn’t await me.

  36. @ Bill Patrick

    “It reminds me a bit of Hamilton in 1967. Tory voters in Eastleigh aren’t going to switch to Labour on this news, but they might switch to UKIP…”

    I’m actually wondering whether we could yet see some Tories switching to the LDs to stop UKIP.

    Its easier to assume that every Con voter worships at the shrine of Daniel Hannan or Douglas Carswell but many are far more of the Cameron persuasion and these voters will be horrified twice over (once for Con being beaten to winning the seat after the LDs had lost it, and twice by the policy platform that beat them) if UKIP do indeed win on Thursday.

    The implications of the Eastleigh result really do make this the most fascinating by-election in decades.

  37. Colin

    Reason 1 or 2.

    I’m not do sure. Given Osborne’s commitment to the spellbindingly stupid notion of expansionary contraction, I’m far from sure that he has any grasp of macroeconomics whatsoever. I’ll plumb for a combination if 1 and 2.

    As for the wiggle room. Osborne’s huge strategic error was unnecessarily painting himself into a corner with the Austerity Über Alles mantra. He left himself no room for Plan B when expansionary contraction proved to be contractionary contraction.

    The most politically damaging part of Moody’s report is that they have downgraded us because the prospects for growth are so dire.

    As for Portes, don’t selectively quote. He says that the rebound in 09-10 was in part due to stimulus, in part due to inventory rebound. But what he absolutely does NOT say is that because it wasn’t all down to stimulus, then stimulus was wrong. Quite the contrary. He argues convincingly that it was economic stupidity to pull the stimulus.

  38. Populus tables are now up (they used to be quite slow so kudos to them for this, especially over a weekend). Enjoy:


  39. Alec

    I forgive you – for you knowed not what you did.

    To Alec: “you also suggest that from another point of view it might be better if more firms went bust and more people went unemployed,since this is Capitalism’s Darwinian process that weeds out the inefficient firms and practicess”.

    How many companies nowadays, say since 2008, have gone bust because of their own inefficiency, and how many specifically because of weakness in the bank’s ability or willingness to lend, thus through cash-flow problems? And how does the factor or weal credit impact on job losses and unemployment? Anyone know?

    PAUL and ALEC
    I have avoided using my authority as Hyperbole Monitor for purposes of the wider good, but clearly: “we have played our big bazooka’s already and they have flopped” mixes hyperbole with metaphor to Malopropian proportions, and cannot be allowed to pass without comment. The only bazookas which can be played (as against fired) do not usually flop. If they are as Paul imputes, a lovely pair of bazookas, they might, I suppose, in some circles, be played, but that would not be a cause of their flopping. Please sort yourselves out.

  41. for “or weal” read “of weak”

  42. Regarding the AAA rating like many my first thoughts this will be a political disaster for the Tories, but having listened how this is being reported by the BBC and Sky News so far, although this will be a major blow for GO most of the economist seem to agree that EB answer of increased borrowing would have led to a down grade even sooner with further downgrades.
    I thought the comments made by an economist on the BBC this morning (sorry didn’t get his name) were interestingly he pointed out that of the main western producing countries only Germany and Canada still have a AAA rating all the rest were either AA1 or below and as long as the UK carried on with it’s deficit reduction programme which has been blown of course so far this year and GO could install some growth in the economy in the next budget then the AA1 rating would have little effect on UK.
    Sometimes in his eagerness to attack the Tories EB is prone to use overblown phrases like betraying the british people and so on conveniantly forgetting he’s participation in the last government’s fiscal policy.
    However if you are going to use phrases like that perhaps it might be prudent to have ready a detailed plan of your own to show the public just how you would have avoided the AAA downgrade by massive increase in borrowing way above GO borrowing which nearly ever economist thinks is still to high.

  43. Turk

    “it might be prudent to have ready a detailed plan of your own to show the public just how you would have avoided the AAA downgrade by massive increase in borrowing way above GO borrowing which nearly ever economist thinks is still to high”

    Nearly every conventional economist, ie the ones that didn’t see this coming and have been wrong almost all the time since then

  44. Apparently momentum is moving towards UKIP. There could be a ‘lets give this coalition a bloody nose, vote UKIP’ in Easteligh campaign.

    Not sure it would work, but given the number of ‘don’t knows’, it is possible.

  45. Thanks, Roger.

  46. Well many people were arguing that the AAA rating was not particularly important – so Osbournes full on austerity policies to preserve was pointless and counter-productive – so the loss of the AAA rating would appear to leave a large omelettes worth of egg on the chancellors face.

    Whilst most voters will be non-plussed and will be none too interested or clued-up in the detail of GO’s economic strategy, lots of powerful and influential people in the media, politics, finance and industry will see this as big potatoes – and this loss of confidence in the governments economic strategy will filter through into the wider public perception. It is very reminiscent of black Wednesday.

    I’m not sure I can see GO surviving much longer, I think if the tories lose eastleigh then he may get the push. No-body on left or right seems to support his economic strategy and very few people seem to see it as anything other than a dismal failure.

    The right wing blogs are calling for ‘proper’ spending cuts, shrink the state to pay for tax cuts etc. Some are calling for John Redwood to be made chancellor. They see GO as failing because he didn’t go far enough – and that this is the fault of the lib dems.

    However I think if GO does get the push, then the government will move more the other way and his departure will be cover for a major economic U-turn. Again – shades of black Wednesday and the defenestration of Norman Lamont.

  47. JP

    He started it.

  48. I can’t imagine Cameron sacking Osborne. It would surely be curtains for him too if he did?

    2015 looks likely to be damage limitation for the Tories now. If they can’t take the LD-Tory marginals, and they won’t take any Lab-Tory marginals, and Lab clean up the LD-Lab marginals, that gives Labour enough I think.

  49. PAUL
    Well, in that case, remember what God told you about turning the other cheek, as well as the bit about forgiving people because they did not know what they were doing of . And do as ye would be done by, remembering that a soft answer turneth away wrath, and that one man’s mote is another man’s gallstone.

  50. JP

    Good advice.


1 2 3 4