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. Neil A

    Aye, but when you add it to the twice last year that he was caught trying to blag a first class rail seat with second class tickets, there’s a theme emerging.

    I’ve said before on here that I take my lead on these topics from my grandad who, when he was elected Mayor of a small Yorkshire town, returned home after the vote to find the Council Office gardener had sent a bouquet of flowers by way of congratulations. He took them back up to the gardener, thanked him and told him that he couldn’t accept them. He had to be and be seen to be whiter than white.

    My take has always been that if you are going to lecture to others on morals, you’d better make sure that yours are beyond reproach.

  2. @Neil A

    Re: Philpott

    There’s no evidence that he hoarded the benefit money (whatever there was) for personal gain. It’s not as if he had a lavish lifestyle. By all accounts he was mostly at home.

    The only thing that did come across from yesterday’s documentaries and the Trial, is that he had fought a long running battle with his LA for a larger house. That’s the only ulterior motive I can see.

    None of the witnesses, friends or even enemies of Philpott siggested that the children were badly looked after. Therefore there is no reason to believe anything other than that the money went as it should, on the children.

  3. Amber,
    when I heard the news reports that Philpott had committed the crime to win back control over the girlfriend/mistress I was very surprised. I understand that his intention was to blame the girlfriend for the fire. If he had been successful then the girlfriend would have been imprisoned in which case he would not have won back control over her but would in all probability have regained control of the children. To me the judge’s comments do not make sense unless she knows something the rest of us don’t.

    By the way it was a female judge.

  4. @ Neil A

    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.
    He wanted custody of the children because he believed that their mother (his mistress) would return to his household, if that’s where her children were living.

    Philpott was excessively possessive of the women in his life regardless of anything related to finances. He viewed holding the purse strings as having power; the amount of money was not relevant; he wanted control of whatever money there was.

  5. @Neil A – “Philpott’s motives”

    Your contention does not correspond with the judgement.

    There a is mention of the money (wages/benefits) but the judge sees the motivation as an obsessional control and manipulation of women.

    A clear connection is made by the judge to the attempted murder and grievous bodily harm in 1978, which again does not appear to have been be motivated by money, rather there seems to have been a psycho-sexual aspect.

    I did not make a connection with the British Army. I drew attention to how equally fallacious it might be to make such a connection.

  6. @ Neil A

    By the way it was a female judge.


    He intended to rescue the children- be the hero. Then get the girlfriend put in jail regaining control of her kids and by proxy her – she would be dependent on him taking the kids to visit etc and dependent when she got out. It makes sense if you are a controlling, not too bright, psychopath.

  8. @ Neil A

    If his mistress was in prison, it would stop her forming other relationships; she would depend upon him to visit & bring her children to see her. I can think of few things which would give more satisfaction to an obsessively jealous control freak than such a scenario.

  9. @ Couper2802

    We have commented the same at the same time!

  10. @ Peter Bell, Neil A

    Sorry for the mistaken identity!

  11. Amber,
    re “@ Neil A

    By the way it was a female judge.

    in fairness to Neil it was my comment and I only raised the point as you were the second person to refer to the judge as he/his in your comment “suggest in his summing”

    I can assure you I was not trying to introduce a sexist argument. :)

  12. In interesting by elections today

    The Conservatives lose another council to UKIP

    Humberston and New Waltham
    2012 Conservative 44%, UKIP 35%, Labour 21%
    Today Conservative 28%, UKIP 42%, Labour 18%, Lib Dem 12%

    UKIP can also attract Labour voters in Labour strongholds:

    2012 Labour 80%, Community Action 12%, Conservative 8%
    Today Labour 57%, UKIP 24%, Community Action 11%, Conservative 5%, BNP 3%

    UKIP are displacing the Tories as the opposition in Labour strongholds?

    2011 Labour 61%, Conservative 20%, Lib Dem 10% BNP 9%
    Today Labour 67%, UKIP 15%, Conservative 8%, Green 5%, Lib Dem 4%

    But not if Lib Dems also stand and were strong before? Also conservative decline is significant here:

    Wollaton East
    2011 Labour 43%, Lib Dem 30, Conservative 24%, UKIP 4%
    Today Labour 53%, Lib Dem 31, Conservative 10%, UKIP 6%

    In summary, the Tories are still in trouble due to the UKIP effect, the rightwards direction in the last few weeks is not yet translating into votes for them. May elections look like they could be a major disaster for the Tories.

    The remaining elections were in Labour strongholds and uneventful. Where Labour was strong it is still strong.

  13. Initially the plan was to spread a false rumour about Willis, to stalk her, intimidate her, undermine her and force her back under control.

    “You were obsessed with Lisa Willis. Indeed, it was plain to me when you were giving evidence over more than three days in the witness box that you still are.”
    Nothing about being obsessed with money.
    A part of the obsession was about possible sexual partners Willis may have had in the past.

    Only when that plan failed did it spiral out of control (“outside the comprehension of any right-thinking person”) into a crazed attempt to make the false rumour appear a fact.

  14. I guess we should slash doctor’s pay because Harold Shipman killed hundreds of people. It’s high time the NHS stopped lavishly funding granny killing lifestyles.

  15. I went to a one-day conference once in which one of the presentations involved tracking Shipman’s victims epidemiologically – as if he was an infectious disease. Weirdly, his victims were distributed in such a way as to have two foci: one at Shipman’s house, another at his local pub (apparently he occasionally went for a quick one after a hard day’s killing). This approach can be used to identify wrongful deaths that may have been missed, and can be used to track future serial killers, although I suspect the latter approach will be used rarely.


  16. Interesting piece in the telegraph. A key finding of a report from a Royal Economic Society study shows that reducing public spending lowers deficits more than raising taxes and that deficit reduction should be carried out rapidly.

  17. YouGov
    Con 30, Lab 42, Lib 11, UKIP 12
    Approval -33

    I’ll only comment on the £53/week, Osborne in disabled spot, Osborne’s comments, etc by reminding everybody that it doesn’t matter who was actually factually ‘in the right’ when it comes to public perceptions as the public (like most of us on here) form value judgements and not objective ones (‘objective’ justification comes after the value judgement has already been made [1]).
    So, although Osborne had absolutely nothing to do with where the vehicle was parked, it may add to a *perception* that he views himself as above the general public (whether he is objectively the most humble man of all time won’t actually matter).

    [1] See arguments over Philpott’s motives – people who’re for benefit reform/defending Osborne have decided that his motive must have been benefits (and then finding reasoning for it), while those who’re against have decided that his motive must have been something different (and then finding reasoning for it).
    ‘But no! It’s the other side that’s being partisan and manipulating the facts, I’m the one with the objective argument!’

  18. For anybody who may be interested –
    Weighted average currently stands at-
    Con 30.5 (up from a low of 29.8), Lab 41.5 (up from a low of 40.4), Lib 10.9 (down from a high of 12.1) and UKIP 11.6 (down from a high of 12), so it looks like the effects of Eastleigh may be winding down.

  19. @the other howard – do you have a link? I’ve had a look but can’f find it.

    There have been lots of similar reports, with broadly similar conclusions, and all of them contained one gaping error. The examples of austerity they examine are nearly always done in parallel with devaluation or against a booming regional economy (eg Canada, Sweden) and not in a period of global recession.

  20. Alec
    It’s a report to be aired at the conference – so I suspect they’ll release the actual paper at some point today.

    It also doesn’t indicate who wrote the paper, just that ‘economists’ did.

  21. I suppose one has to agree with Osborne that there may be lessons to be learnt from Philpot (for example, that it may be a mistake to allow benefits to a family to be paid to any designated adult). This, however, is just to make the general point, that there may be lessons to be learnt from any individual whatsoever. In practice the mention of the highly atypical Philpot carries so much baggage that he is absolutely the wrong place from which to start rational debate. It is much as if one used Lord Lucan as the starting point for a discussion of the virtues or otherwise of subsidies for Child Care or the mansion tax. My objection to Osborne’s intervention is that he must know this and so his intervention looks cynical and unpleasant.

  22. Oh, it does say who wrote it – I misread, sorry.
    “The study, by the economists Luca Agnello, Vitor Castro and Ricardo Sousa, from universities in Italy and Portugal”
    So it’s not an RES study, but one that will be at their conference (presumably an endorsement?)

    There are some links to the authors 2012 works on fiscal consolidation here, but I doubt those are the papers they’re going to show off.

  23. TOH/Alec/TF

    Dear Lord this is not digging its way out of its grave again is it? It sounds depresdingly like that work by Alesina and Ardagna that ignited the Austerity-mania back in 09/10. As you say Alec, it is of virtually no relevance to the current macroeconomic conditions although there is a second and even more potent reason. It is that the usual strategy when engaging in a hard fiscal consolidation is to cut interest rates drastically in parallel. So the Govt removes demand from the economy by cutting its own spending, but it encourages private growth by greatly cutting borrowing costs.

    The UK was a textbook example of this approach after the 90-92 slump. Interest rates crashed as the Govt reined in spending. Result: the economy recovered strongly AND the deficit came down quickly.

    But this is the bit that all these studies ignore. You cannot take that approach when interest rates are already effectively at zero. The fact that interest rates were at the Zero Lower Bound whilst Govt spending was at its peak in 09-10 is an indication of just how savage the Lesser Depression was. We had a combination of massive fiscal stimulus AND monetary stimulus just to survive. So now, we cannot provide more monetary stimulus (through rate cuts) to offset the contractionary effect of fiscal consolidation.

    It is criminally negligent for economists and politicians to gloss over this crucial point.

  24. Thin stuff that from the Telegraph – citing a paper from Portugal and Italy that is to be presented at a conference.

    In case anyone here is unfamiliar with how academic conferences work, this is what happens:

    – you do research and write a lengthy, well-argued paper which you submit to be presented at a conference
    – you present it at a conference
    – a rival group submit a paper on the same topic with the opposite conclusion
    – your peers, your enemies (these first two groups overlap to the point of being synonymous), people who don’t like the professor you studied under and often passing bystanders tear your paper (and that of your rivals) to pieces
    – you, and your rivals rewrite ‘in light of feedback’ to find the opposite conclusion
    – the paper gets published in The Journal Of Interesting Stuff
    – from time to time, the more able and far-sighted researchers in the field cite your excellent paper
    – you quit research for fear of having to attend any more conferences

    In less poorly-satirical tone, whilst I have no doubt the researchers are good (they wouldn’t be at the RES otherwise), the UK economy isn’t like the Portuguese or Italian, or even the Eurozone in general, and what might be theoretically wise or advisable there may not be here. We are, quite obviously, not approaching the economy from a point where no action has been taken and so a theory of what one should do needs to take into account what has been done already.

  25. @LeftyLampton

    To be fair to the economists we don’t know that they are glossing over this yet. We have the Telegraph’s interpretation of what they are going to say… and far be it from me to suggest that the Telegraph might have an agenda.

    When they have presented the paper, however…

  26. Sheep

    If the authors have found a way to slash Govt spending in a Zero Lower Bound environment and produce resurgent growth, I will personally walk to the Universities of Palermo and Minho and buy them a pint.

  27. @LeftyLampton

    Regardless of what the report goes on to say it seems you still don’t get it. Its blindingly obvious to me that we just cannot go on spending money we havn’t got. Really it is so clear that the old European high spending model is a becoming a thing of the past, i am amazed you cannot see it.

  28. @TOH

    What I am missing in this ‘money we haven’t got’ discussion is ‘How do we get money?’ I do not see any plan to get us more money and I certainly want the country to recover so we can provide a better quality of life to everyone.

    The government does not have a plan for growth and Labour is not in power at the moment and hasn’t told us their plan assuming they have one – if Labour have a plan any plan that is not bumping along the bottom and taking more and more from the poor, disabled and public services I would support them rather than the current defeatism.

  29. TOH
    Surprising at it may seem, this is actually not a matter of political opinion.

    We can have the debate over what the future shape and balance should be, but that is a separate issue to the question of how to get us out of the perma-slump. If you want a society with less Govt spending, that’s fine. But if you try to move us to that position whilst we have zero growth and are at the ZLB for interest rates, you will find that you have a far greater problem on your hands. Because you will endure a decade of negligible growth and you will suffer the consequences for half a century. We’re already a quarter of the way into that experiment and so far it is panning out EXACTLY as predicted by those who warned of fiscal consolidation without monetary expansion. And the saddest thing is that it is really simple macroeconomics.

    Now, if you want Govt spending reductions in the long term then there is a perfectly sound economic argument for you to make on that. But you do it over the LONG term. You don’t impose it immediately when the private economy is still fragile.

    The whole tenor of the discussion has a depressing inevitability about it. In the bright dawn of 2010 it was “Cut the deficit and the private economy will boom!” Last year we moved on to the second stage, “Ok, the economy didn’t boom despite the deficit being cut by a quarter. The deficit needs to be cut faster! THEN the economy will boom!” And the third stage is now beginning, “The deficit is being cut in the wrong way! Don’t increase taxes. Slash spending harder. THEN the economy will boom!”

    And you get the Telegraph scratching round for obscure articles by barely heard-of academics that support the idea that they have already decided to be correct. And all along, they steadfastly refuse to even contemplate the possibility of an alternative way out of the perma-slump.

  30. Couper2802

    The government clearly have a plan for growth as Colin clearly put on a recent thred whereas labour seem unable or unwilling to say what theirs is. No point in gong over old ground on this. I wasn’t reallly making a point about the UK but on Europe as a whole.

  31. @Leftylampton

    Its not news to either of us that we disagree fundamentally on this. Having read my posts over the last couple of years you know my view was that much deeper cuts had to be made in the first two years of this Government. I think your analysis it totally incorrect but we shall see over the next few years. Obviously we should not continue this debate as we will end up in moderation.


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

    No he isn’t . Read his words.

    “Lifestyles” doesn’t mean “manslaughter”-it means “lifestyles”.
    In this case , not working , and living on welfare benefit & the earnings of two women who he controlled completely. All household income went into the one bank account-his.

    Actually I WOULD make a connection between welfare benefit-specifically child orientated benefit-and THIS crime by THIS man.

    It is clear :-

    He was known to be incensed that Willis had removed the other 5 children. The fire-which he had pre-signalled to associates-was started hours before the county court custody hearing. It was set to implicate Willis & facilitate the return of her children with the attendant benefit income.

    The judge said Philpott planned to subject the six children who died to ” a terrifying ordeal” so that he “could rescue them and become a hero”.

    Anyway, the papers are full of it & you can read them as well as I & draw our conclusions.

    In The Times today Philip Collins has an article entitled ” Labour can’t win if it’s on Mick Philpott’s side”.

    I don’t know whether that is true or not-but it is an interesting article & point of view.

  33. @AmberSatr

    I have carefully read what GO said about the Philpott case and what EB blogged in reply. I though GO posed a perfectly reasonable question and that EB’s response was typically OTT especially his comment about “a desperate Chancellor£. I see no sign of desperation on GO, certainly not in relation to EB, as the public continue to see EB as being even worse on the economy than GO. Its one of the big problems Labour have.

  34. @TOH

    Labour are in opposition, so pointless coming out with policies for growth 2 years before a GE, when they do not have access to Treasury models. The LD’s and Tories would paint Labour as being irresponsible, as their plans would not have been properly costed.

    As for coalition growth policies, yes some of these have been implemented and some are still to come into effect. The trouble for the coalition parties is that the fruits of these policies may not be tasted until after May 2015. In my opinion Osbornes first two budgets were a little wasted, as they should really have made growth a main aim and not just deficit reduction.

  35. @TOH

    I have no idea what this plan is. And if I don’t and I follow politics reasonably closely then the general public don’t. The only thing I hear about is cuts. I know originally there was an export led recovery idea but that seems to have gone.

    So how do we become rich again?

  36. @Colin


    Well said, I was irritated about the Lefts response to an obvious question from GO and particularly the OTT comment fron EB.

  37. Colin

    “Anyway, the papers are full of it ”

    For once, we are in total agreement.

  38. @”So how do we become rich again?”

    I don’t remember being “rich” before the crash.

  39. @Couper2802

    By significantly reducing the size of the state, and by encouraging people to start making and selling things overseas, particulary to areas out side of Europe


    thanks for very informative and interesting post john


    how right – but for the motes in our eyes we would all see perfectly clearly and judge accordingly…

  42. The Other Howard,

    “encouraging people to start making and selling things overseas, particulary to areas out side of Europe.”

    What like selling computers to Brazil… Oh wait a minute!

    This from MacRumours.

    “You’ve got an ample range of investments that go from $300 to $400 million to $12 billion over 5 to 6 years in the case of Foxconn,” Rousseff said, speaking of discussions Brazil’s government is having with various technology companies. “They’re proposing a partnership. They came to us and said we want to invest in Brazil.”

    The we don’t need the jaded old EU model when we can sell to the rest of the world UKIP line only works if you don’t know what is actually happening in the rest of the world.


  43. @PeterCairns

    Don’t see the relevence of that at all. My comment was an obvious one which I thought could be shared by those of all party affiliations

  44. @”EU model ”

    Is there such a thing?

    I know they thought there would be -after all that “convergence” stuff.

    But now?

    There’s the German model, and the Swedish model.

    There’s the Spanish & Irish model.

    There’s the Greek & Italian model.

    Then there seems to be-whisper it softly-the French model & the Dutch model.

    More like a clothes shop window than an economic union.

  45. @Chris Riley

    “We are, quite obviously, not approaching the economy from a point where no action has been taken and so a theory of what one should do needs to take into account what has been done already.”

    In the case of total cuts in the UK, very little has been done.

  46. @Colin

    When I refer to the European Model I mean the high state spending model common in Europe including Scandinavia. I am sure you know the point I am making.

  47. TOH

    I do.

    Actually I was responding to P. Cairns’ use of that term.

  48. I sometimes wonder if this particular Labour Wunderkind is in the right political party :-

    “Is it just me or is there a serious lack of cool places to go in central London at the weekends.
    ‘Most of the West End haunts seem to be full of trash and C-list wannabes, while other places that should know better opt for the cheesy vibe’,”

    Chuka Umunna.
    writing on invitation only website Small World. ( for Top People only)

  49. @ ToH

    Small cuts overall, big ones in some areas. It is because the NHS is protected purely for political reasons (substantial savings are possible by closing hospitals/wards or by cutting wages) and the same applies for pensions (again as a whole). GO gave up the 50% rate that brought in a billion (and would have brought more this year) and cut benefits by half a billion.

    So, the cuts (and fiscal balancing) that some are longing for doesn’t happen for political (election) reasons. But the restructuring of the budget is happening.

  50. So it looks like the Conservative 33% and lead of 8% yesterday is the outlier. Polls have returned to Conservative around 30%, Labour lead 12%. (it was 13% on Tues/Wed) What is interesting is the unweighted change from previous vote to current intention- I know this is one of the things weighting tries to minimise on the belief that you go back to the original in the booth, but still: Conservative 596 down to 446, Labour 563 up to 700, Lib Dem 441 down to 144.
    Wish Anthony would start putting up the polls again. This thread is way to long and no longer polling related at all. Anthony?

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