Way back in late 2011 I wrote about the gender gap in the polls, or more the point, the disappearing gender gap. At the time there was a lot of discussion in the newspapers about the Conservatives struggling with the female vote, but at the time it really wasn’t that true. Or at least, it wasn’t true in the way the media was reporting it – the Conservatives were not actually doing any worse amongst women than men… but that itself was a problem for them. Previously they had done better amongst women than men. In short, it wasn’t that the Conservatives were suffering amongst female voters. It was that they were no longer doing disproportionately well amongst female voters.

Anyway, I have long meant to revisit that post and see if it has changed, and since we’ve not had any new polling for a few days I’ve finally got round to doing it. The graph below shows a four week rolling average of the Conservative lead over Labour in YouGov’s Sunday Times polls (there is no methodological reason for just using the Sunday Times polls – it’s just easier to collate 50 polls a year than 250)

Conservative lead over Labour in YouGov’s Sunday Times polls

As you can see, while in late 2011 the Conservative deficit amongst women was actually much the same as amongst men, since then a small but consistent gender gap actually has developed, and Labour have enjoyed a bigger lead amongst women. As I wrote before, the reasons are unclear – most polling does not actually show very much contrast between the political views of men and women. They think the same issues are important and generally give similar answers, except on a few specific issues like military action, nuclear power and weapons and gay marriage (women are more anti-war, more opposed to nuclear power and weapons and more pro-gay marriage). My best guess remains, as it was in October 2011, that it is to do with perceptions of the economy, but that is purely because the big shift in the gap back in January 2011 coincided with a big drop in economic confidence.

471 Responses to “The gender gap – updated”

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  1. Thanks Laszlo,

    I’ve looked at internet sites for learning some Finnish words, maybe I try a (slightly related) Hungarian site. I did once pick up a Hungarian hitch-hiker… the slightly accented English didn’t sound central European… I thought the person might be French at first.

    That said any Hungarians I’ve met speak very elegantly. Btw the previous resident of my home was an artist and pianist – married a soldier in Hungary during WW2 and came to settle here. She lived in this house for 60+ years… quite a character by all accounts.

  2. @ Neil A

    As I pointed out before, the payment relates to children of a household. It is NOT, as you say, based on the number of children of the mother. There are examples of a couple of the same address who have two children together saying each is responsible for one child & thereby receive two first child allowances. Therefore, many more people would simply nominate different ‘carers’ to make the claims, were child benefit restricted to a specific number of children.

  3. I was right after all, the Lake District is in the South!


  4. @ Billy Bob

    Apart from about 20 words I don’t recognise any Finnish words, but by hearing it I can recognise that it’s a “cousin” language.

    People in England has difficulties with recognising my accent, so they try to say nations that are relatively rare in the given region. Greek and French are the typical (though I don’t have either accents and not even similar – I know it as I have had many students from both nations).

    There was a waiter in an odd Bordeaux restaurant who knew right away from my accent that I was Hungarian (perhaps it’s easier to recognise in French).

    The Hungarian accent is distinct. Soros still has it (though supposedly Esperanto was the “home language” in his parents’s home. It could be anything, but in the 20s in Hungary Esperanto language courses were often Communist organisations) and Solti and Kaldor had it after leaving here for decades.

  5. Parents’s – parents’: predictive mobile phone…

  6. @couper2802

    I actually feel sick reading some posts…

  7. According to BBC there are 180 families ;on benefits’ and with 10 or more dependent children. So I am not sure how rectifying these welfare outliers will do much for the taxpayer. There is also the issue of what is to be done instead. No one has suggested starving the children to death. Taking them into care would be a lot more expensive than the £4k per year the Philpot children seem to have been costing in benefits. There are of course other options but none that look particularly attractive. What I do find deeply unattractive is the way that Osborne seems to be playing it. Will this really get the conservatives more votes?

  8. Leaving- living: another wonder of modern technology

  9. Laszlo

    Is Finnish really a cousin language to Hungarian? They are miles apart aren’t they?

    What is the name for this grouping of languages ie, some languages are germanic, slavic, scandic, what is the Hungarian/Finnish grouping?

  10. Good Evening All.

    LIZ H: Good Evening to you, and my sentiments and attitudes mirror yours I think.

  11. @ MiM

    Finn-Ugor language family part of the Ural-Altai branch, that is, a non indoeuropean language. Hungarian is the largest in the group, then Finnish, Estonian, Masnik, Vogul, etc (many tiny peoples in Russia).

  12. Charles,sadly yes it will in the short term.We seem to be
    becoming a divided nation,the next election campaign is
    going to be awful.

  13. @AW

    Why am I in moderation? I don’t think I said anything verboten

  14. Colin
    With respect, no it didn’t. It had solely to do with the perpetrators whether there 2, 4 or 8 children.

    The welfare issue has nothing to do with this crime whatsoever.

    This is fact, and the judge will tell any of you the same.

  15. @ MiM

    Finns and Hungarians (or rather the people who spoke the language) parted about 3000 years ago, but the same family alright (like English and Russian). With some preparation I can talk to an Ostyak at a very basic level. Their northern neighbours can have the same with Estonians and the latter can understand Finnish TV.

  16. Laszlo
    I knew that the Fins were great supporters of the Hungarian Grand Prix motor race. Thanks for your insights into the relationships.

    It’s Finns with two ns is it?

  17. @Laszlo

    Got it.

    A 1988 Solti documentary on YouTube. There are Kaldors involved in the arts, but I’m assuming you mean Nicholas Kaldor, LSE/Cambridge economist and advisor to the Wilson government.

  18. @ Billy Bob

    Yes, I meant the economist. His daughter’s (Mary) is even more interesting when she speaks spontaneously). George Mikes (How to be an alien) tried various accents but the Hungarian comes through. I don’t know if he is on you tube (but use to be on BBC’s website).

  19. Neil A
    “You think my policy would cause child poverty. I think yours does.”

    I haven’t said what my policy is, because I am truly struggling to know how to deal with this issue. But what I would say is that whilst the status quo may encourage the birth of more children into relatively poor households, the removal of CB would greatly increase the number of children in absolute, abject poverty.

    “The answer must be that the State intervenes to protect the children -presumably by taking them away from their “feckless” parents.”

    Agreed. Short of allowing children to live in abject poverty, that WOULD seem to be the only outcome. In which case we have established the principle that the State DOES have a responsibility for children born into large, poor families. And, as has been pointed out by others, the overall (financial) cost would be very high.

    I am not trying to be a smart arse here by the way. I’m not trying to score debating points. I’m trying to highlight how difficult it is to reduce the bill without ending up penalising the kids themselves. It’s a devil of a problem and I have a basic mis-trust of sexy sounding simple solutions even for simple problems.

  20. @ Howard

    In English it’s two “n”s. In Hungarian one and in Finnish it’s Suomi :-).

  21. I have not done the maths but I think that all children could have two (even three) good meals a day at school instead of the total child benefit spend & could possibly also be given school clothing & perhaps even well fitting footwear too. There should also be after-school clubs & summer schools instead of childcare vouchers/ tax allowances etc. This would give work to teaching assistants & get more use out of school premises.

    It is an idea which can have holes picked in it by those who want to do so; e.g. too much ‘big state’ interference in families but I think it might be an effective approach for children & families given that the ‘government approved model’ is for both parents to work (based on their most recent childcare proposal).

  22. @ Howard

    Oops. Two “n”s in Hungarian too… Shame on me. When I wrote it down by hand, I have immediately recognised it.

  23. Why did GO not mention Stephen Seddon now this was a Murder for greed

  24. Goodness, another article by Jeremy Warner which has much to recommend it. As usual, he throws an elbow at Labour in passing, just to sweeten the pill for his mainly right-leaning readership but nevertheless, this is a clear & well written comment piece.


  25. I must be listening to another GO interview because I never heard him say that being on welfare leads to anybody to killing there children, what I did hear was in answering a question based on the Daily Mail headline which did draw an inference between the two, GO was careful to draw a line between the actual case and welfare payments to large families.
    The rather hysterical comments from the usual suspects in the media and a rather strange reply from EB who seemed to suggest GO was having a go at poor families, unemployed and disabled people attributing to GO all manner of things he never said in that rather wild manner of his.
    The other thing that struck me about some of the reporting is how out of touch it is with how ordinary people feel about some welfare payments, it seem to me that for the first time Labour are in danger of losing some of the arguement over welfare, something I thought I’d never see.
    Maybe the planets are realigning, maybe not, only time will tell.

  26. Turk
    If you are saying that all politicians would have done better to avoid today to start discussing child welfare policy, I could not agree with you more.

  27. @Laszlo

    Mary Kaldor – perhaps among friends and family she might sound different, but a very engaging public speaker – I’d place her as North London intelligensia:

    Interesting on the EU, present and future (with a nod to the past):


  28. @CHRISLANE1945
    “my sentiments and attitudes mirror yours I think”

    Good evening and which ones? I still think Pope Francis is a socialist.

  29. HOWARD

    I disagree.

    As I understand it :-

    Philpott controlled both women in his menage a trois totally & absolutely- and all the household income-welfare & earned.

    Willis left with five of his eleven children. He wanted them back & set fire to the house-with six children in it-in order to frame Willis & regain custody of her five children.

    Why did he want them back?-fatherly love & longing-or the lost welfare benefit they brought him?

    I will read tomorrow’s accounts & watch the inevitable tv expose

    And I will try to establish whether you are correct-or I am.

  30. Couper2802
    “The way I look at it is if you are single on 30k you will be well off ,with a non-working partner and 2-3 kids you will struggle. So I would take into account number of dependents when calculating tax and not do this via the benefits system.”

    Good suggestion. This is what pertains in France but it only works efficiently when the system is for taxation of the family unit (France) as opposed to taxation of the individual (UK).
    If anyone is interested I can explain it but otherwise I won’t bore you with the detail.

  31. LEFTY

    @”In which case we have established the principle that the State DOES have a responsibility for children born into large, poor families. ”

    Yes-in extremis-and for the children. Not for the parents-if the State has decided that it’s responsibility to help their child related costs is to be limited.

    So-if the State has to intervene beyond the limit it set & communicated to parents-there must be moral hazard for the parents.

  32. Turk

    GO is a past master at eluding to things without actually saying them explicitly. He very skilfully kept the Welfare=Philpott pot boiling without directly stoking the fire. He did something very similar in the Autumn Statement, when he was very careful not to say exactly that the OBR had said that Austerity didn’t impinge in growth. But a casual listen to the speech gave exactly that impression.

    It’s a fine art. Clearly one that Cameron doesn’t have given how he blundered on the latter topic last month.

  33. @ Billy Bob

    Yes, this is what I meant – but she could have adjusted her accent (in Hungary one uses one accent in public, one with friends and one with family if the person is from the country).

    Your story about the artist and pianist marrying a Hungarian rings a bell if it was in London.

  34. A very significant U-turn on the Bedroom Tax is being planned for October according to the Telegraph:

    “Any extra income from rent will have no bearing on a council tenant’s universal credit.

    “Currently, benefit claimants must declare income from lodgers. This can affect their entitlement to housing benefit, jobseeker’s allowance and income support. However, from October, tenants will be able to keep rent and retain full entitlement to any benefit, after ministers amended what counts as income in draft regulations for universal credit.

    “The Department for Work and Pensions said the new rules “don’t specify that income from a boarder or lodger is to be treated as either earned or unearned income, so by default the income isn’t taken into account”.”

  35. TURK

    WEll said.

    THis is what GO is quoted as saying :-

    “”Philpott is responsible for these absolutely horrendous crimes and these are crimes that have shocked the nation; the courts are responsible for sentencing him. But I think there is a question for government and for society about the welfare state – and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state – subsidising lifestyles like that, and I think that debate needs to be had.”

  36. @Laszlo

    Eva, the artist and pianist married an English soldier and settled on the South Coast. According to neighbours she spent a fair bit of time on the doorstep engaging any and all passers-by in conversation. That was in the days before UKPR!

  37. Tomorrow’s Daily Mirror front page has Osborne’s car caught in a disabled bay :)

  38. A man killed his parents for his inheritance. Why should the tax payer pay for this man to be in prison, should his family not pay for his keep? Why is the government not discussing who can stay in prison free of charge and who can’t?

  39. AW, the clocks have changed.

  40. @ LizH

    Please, don’t encourage them or we will be having a debate about capital punishment from the perspective of cost savings & I will just sit here at my laptop & weep for all the innocents who die under such systems!

  41. RAF.

    You just made my night!

  42. @Colin

    Osborne is attempting to force a connection between the receipt of welfare and the commission of horrendous crimes (“lifestyles like that”).

    I repeat, the man was first convicted of horrendous crimes in 1978, at a time when he was serving in the British Army; so by a similar logic that connection must also stand, and in a world of fallacious causal relationships it would have prior claim.

  43. @Leftylampton

    You really couldn’t make it up.

  44. @ Turk

    …and a rather strange reply from EB who seemed to suggest GO was having a go at poor families, unemployed and disabled people attributing to GO all manner of things he never said in that rather wild manner of his.
    Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said:

    “We should have a proper debate about welfare reform. But for the Chancellor to link this wider debate to this shocking crime is nasty and divisive and demeans his office.

    “George Osborne now needs to explain why he has chosen to comment on this case, and why he has sought to make a link between a terrible crime and the welfare system, when he has said nothing about the financial circumstances of those who commit other terrible crimes.”
    A timely & coherent statement from a shadow chancellor clearly shocked by Osborne’s willingness to conflate two entirely separate issues rather than point out that one has nothing to do with the other.

    At no point does the Judge suggest in his summing up & sentencing (full text available courtesy of the guardian) that any of the crimes were committed with a view to gaining financially from the state or anybody else. Rather it was an attempt to win back control over a woman who’d had the good sense to take her children & get Philpott out of her life.


  45. as there’s a general debate going on about whether we can afford child benefit etc. I thought this excellent article would be welcome by most http://alanpmartin.tumblr.com/post/46966649415/all-the-fun-of-the-welfare

  46. and this shows where your taxes are spent, click on the icons for drill down http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/datablog/interactive/2013/mar/20/budget-2013-how-taxes-spent-interactive

  47. When you say “Osborne’s car”, you do of course mean “an unmarked police Range Rover”. A little bit of a non story.

    @Billy Bob,

    Whilst I don’t condone Osborne’s “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” on Philpott-Benefit Reform, I do agree with Colin that it is far more relevant than you suggest and that the attempt to rubbish it by reference to the British Army is a bit silly.

    Philpott’s motives in his crime clearly related at least in part to the receipt of benefit income. His motives in his earlier crime clearly had nothing whatever to do with his Army salary.

  48. @ Neil A

    Philpott’s motives in his crime clearly related at least in part to the receipt of benefit income.
    No, they didn’t – unless you know something which the judge doesn’t.

  49. @Neil A

    “When you say “Osborne’s car”, you do of course mean “an unmarked police Range Rover”. A little bit of a non story.”

    It’s amusing nonetheless. And ironic, don’t you think?

    It all feeds into the current haplessness of GO. He’s starting to have the air of Bertie Wooster.

  50. @Amber,

    The judge commented on Philpott’s complete control over the women’s benefit income, and the motive given for the crime was to get the five Willis children back into the home and out oft he care of their mother.

    If you choose to believe that was because he thought he’d be a better parent than their mother, and not that he had better used for the the CB and CTC, then you are a delightfully lovely person, but I hope you never work in Children’s Social Care.

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