This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 28%, LAB 42%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 11%. The Conservative figure is the lowest YouGov have shown since the election… though normal caveats apply, almost by definition record breaking polls are the ones that turn out to be rogues and outliers!

While there are sensible responses in the comments here (I would expect nothing less!), it has naturally released a glut of excitement elsewhere about the effect of Thatcher’s death on the polls. So far there have only been two opinion polls asking voting intention since the death of Margaret Thatcher (ICM also did a quick poll for the Guardian, but it did not include voting intention). TNS-BMRB published a poll earlier in the week, but it was conducted wholly before Thatcher’s death so doesn’t tell us anything.

YouGov’s poll on Wednesday morning had figures of CON 33%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%
YouGov’s poll on Thursday morning had figures of CON 28%, LAB 42%, LDEM 12%

Now, as I hope everyone reading this knows, opinion polls have a margin of error of around about plus/minus 3 points (it is actually both more complicated than that, and a bit artificial since no polls use a pure random sample, but plus/minus 3 points is a good rule of thumb). Therefore both these polls are within the normal margin of error of CON 30.5%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%: the average of YouGov’s polls over the last month.

It may be that in coming days we get lots more polls showing Labour leads up in low teens, there is a genuine drop in Tory support and Wednesday morning’s poll turns out to have been a rogue. It may equally be that we get lots more polls showing Labour’s lead dropping into single figures, the Tories recover and this morning’s poll turns out to be a rogue. It may also end up that the average continues to bump along at around 10-11 points and that both of these are just normal sample variation. Any of the three are possible (though my expectation is the last one!).

Anyway, if any change is a Thatcher effect (as opposed to a welfare cuts effect or something else), it wouldn’t actually be that important anyway. Almost by definition, it would be a short term boost from positive coverage of Thatcher, negative comparisons with Thatcher or reminding people of their negative opinions of Thatcher – nothing of long term importance.

As ever, in writing and interpreting polls I point people back to what I wrote last year about how not to do it. Don’t cherry pick polls you like and assume the others must be wrong, don’t forget there is a margin of error that – more often than not – ends up explaining away the polls that people on Twitter wet their pants over.

677 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 28, LAB 42, LD 12, UKIP 11”

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  1. @AW

    Points well made as usual. It will be interesting to see if there will be any real movement one way or the other. I suspect not as there seems not to have been on the benefits debate. I suspect the economy and how it is affecting people individually is what is driving and will continue to drive the polls.

  2. @Couper2802
    “People are aspirational and if voting Labour becomes associated only with poverty then Labour will lose.”

    Now that I agree with you on. But that is very different to espousing “champagne socialism” which in my book has more to do being intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich (Mandelson’s comment, but it typified Blair’s approach and all he continues to stand for IMO).

  3. Thanks for this Anthony.

    South Shields Labour have selected Emma Lewell-Buck as candidate for election.

    “Lewell-Buck, 34, comes from a family of shipbuilders and has been a local councillor since 2004. She is a direct descendent of South Shields hero William Wouldhave, the inventor of the lifeboat. And, crucially, Emma was born in South Shields.”

    Myself being from nearby Newcastle, A local woman candidate seems to be a popular choice.

    Also of note is Blair’s piece in New Statesman.

    I think he raises some important questions but I am not quite sure what he is trying to achieve with this article. Anyone please help me out?


    The term is wrong but you get my drift. I can’t think of another term though.

    The Right always try to paint a successful left winger as a sell out. It is really important that being left wing and rich and successful is not seen as mutally exclusive.

    I remember in the 80s seeing an interview with a Labour voter who had bought their council house and the voter saying ‘I am a home owner so I’ll vote Tory now’

  5. @AW – “almost by definition record breaking polls are the ones that turn out to be rogues and outliers!”

    If the UKPR tables are correct (I seem to remember a handful of earlier YouGovs listed on other sites), then the record breaking low of 30% for the Tories in December could be considered a prefiguring rather than a rogue. Likewise the 29% in February. The 28% will be a rogue if and when Con VI has either stabilised or taken an upwards trajectory.

    “Thatcher effect… nothing of long term importance.”

    I’m sure you are right – depending on the definition of long term.

    Around the time of that first YouGov 30% in December I posted something (apropos the EU fwiw) along the lines of ” …the implication is that the Conservative party only became fully Thatcherite after her downfall”, meaning beginging after 1990, moreso since 2001, and particularly with the 2010 intake. Events this week underline that fact.

  6. Got access to my own computer back after the grandchildren have departed.

    Kept me out of the Thatcher fray-thank goodness.

    Best wishes to you TOH -hope things go well for you.

    I hope THe Funeral passes without unpleasantness.

    It seems-as someone once said-they haven’t gone away you know.

  7. @ Q/Ali

    I too at first wondered what Tony Blair is trying to achieve – and I have come to a simple conclusion. Tony Blair still loves the Labour Party and wants to nudge it away from the trap it was in after it had got over its lunatic era, during the later Thatcher/Major period, when it was arguably often in the right morally, but could not make any headway because it was as he describes – a repository for anger amongst those who were being roughly treated – but failing to articulate practical solutions that the middle ground of the electorate had faith in. It is possible to articulate radical policies which are not soaked in left-wing romanticism, but put forward as solutions by a potentially “competent” team for government. This was the great art of the New Labour project. He is trying to nudge Labour back into that positioning, for he fears a re-run of the ’80s with Labour excluded from power, especiallly with the Tories recently dumping their “compassionate conservatism” image with a drive for a neo-Thatcherite message instead.
    The tricky thing with Thatcherism for oppositions is that during its period in office it looks and feels very unpopular, and the Left (either Labour or Alliance/now LD) get a warm moral glow inside – and win by-elections. BUT – come the General Elections, when the chips are down, voters will vote for Thatcherite-type strength and competence however nasty it seems. When times are bad there is an instinct to “Cling on to nurse, for fear of something worse” – Blair just wants to stop Labour waltzing-off into a cosy place in semi-permanent opposition IMO.

  8. Brilliant article by Graham Stewart today in THE TIMES. A must-read. Matthew Parris also very interesting, including his reference to the very short Attlee funeral.

  9. Is there any detail on the Survation poll headlined in the mirror claiming “only 1 in 5” think the taxpayer should fund the funeral, among other related questions.

    It gives headlines but no detail of the questions and other responses.

  10. @TONY DEAN


  11. ALI,

    “I am not quite sure what he is trying to achieve with this article”

    A big fat cheque.. It’s Tony Blair after all.


  12. Of course given that they say Blair was talking about his “Legacy” almost before he was elected it might well be he feels the need to say things just to remind people that he is still relevant and he too bestrode the world stage.

    Should “Blair” get the same treatment? He did take us to war as well.


  13. @ Q/Ali and Tony Dean

    Yes, I agree with Tony, it is essentially an attempt to try to block a left-wing shift of the Labour Party (I don’t see this happening) and tries to create a narrative for keeping some of the coalition’s measures when (if) Labour comes to power.

    His questions are very cleverly crafted, they are things people are interested in, but at the same time, he completely ignores systemic inter-dependencies, that is, these questions cannot be answered as they are – answered in the sense that it would solve the underlying problems. But they can bring votes – only that they reproduce the questions.

    1) Housing benefit and availability of housing. There is never enough housing (just as there is never enough hospital bed). It is a trade off – a political decision and not an optimisation problem.

    2) Improving the skillset. The point is not this – the point is what skill set helps the UK economy more competitive? And the ramifications: you cannot have availability of high and improving skills with numerically flexible labour market without immigration. So, if you want the higher skills to be a competitive advantage, you have to reduce both employers’ and employees’ opportunism.

    3) Health and education reforms and their new heights. What is the goal? Improvement is not a goal.

    4) Means tested and universal benefits to pensioners. Again it avoids the real question: what do we want to do with the pensioners and pensions and not how to help them. This is a consequence of the first decision.

    5) Technology as a cost cutting and change drive (of various fields TB mentions). Technology doesn’t do anything without changing the routines for which you need to change the way you measure people’s work. So, technology is a necessary condition, but not sufficient without behavioural changes and technology doesn’t help it that.

    6) Separation of socially excluded families and temporal shifts of positions of families. Again, this is a derivative of a much more fundamental question: there is a cost of dealing with it or accept the social exclusion. There is no a priori way to separate the two groups, it is post-hoc rationalisation.

    7) DNA for cutting crime. An odd one (Easter has passed, so this egg is quite unnecessary here) – but it gives away the whole thing: it is political engineering of a supposedly middle ground for election success.

  14. @ Petercairns

    Should “Blair” get the same treatment?

    Absolutely! It would be appalling if he did not get the same ceremonial funeral with units who were in Iraq & Afganistan presenting arms along the route of his funeral cortege…

    – if, not,

    how can anyone justify it for Margaret Thatcher?

    They are about equally loved and loathed – just by different people. However, in a democracy we should expect even handedness from the establishment over such things….

    after all…..the attendance of Royalty, the Armed Forces, etc. should be ABOVE party political concerns, should it not?

  15. TONY DEAN. Funny.


  16. @CHRISLANE1945

    What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander – n’est pas?

  17. @Tony Dean


  18. @TONY DEAN

    I totally agree there can be no justification what so ever for TB not getting the 7 hours of eulogy and a 10 million funeral with the Queen (or King) plus armed forces etc.

  19. @ TOH

    Unless we are being bizarrely partisan – why is my post bizarre?

    TB also won more GEs than the great lady too! But never mind that – we must be even-handed about these things IMO.

  20. @ TOH

    Apologies – my mistake – the same number of GEs….

  21. Of course this all begs a difficult question – How many GEs do you have win and how many wars do you have to take us into before you get this fancy send off?

    What about John Major 1 election 1 war (?)
    Gordon Brown 0 election 0 wars (no chance)

  22. @Tony Dean

    I think there are only three UK Prime Ministers in the last 120 years worthy of such a funeral, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Clement Attlee. The shame on this country is that Attlee did not get one if i remember correctly. Those three tower above the rest.

    As you can see I am not being partisan at all

  23. This is a site about polling!

    I have suddenly realized that we clever band here have raised a prbably un-thought of problem to do with establishing the correct Protocol of State for the funerals of ex-Prime Ministers. This question should be raised on the Floor of the House for a committee to be appointed to ensure there can be no accusations of the Crown being partisan about Conservative Prime Ministers (Churchill and Thatcher) having preferencial treatment over Labour (or Liberal Democrat at some future date perhaps?) ex-Prime Ministers who have “made their mark” on the history of the nation. Over to our Members of Parliament…….

    in the spirit of obedience to our benefactor AW…..back to polling I say!

  24. @Tony Dean

    You brought the subject up I think, just helping, but agreed lets getback to polling.

  25. @ TOH

    Yes, I accept, we are agreed on this. Put like that you are not being partisan – but I do have a wee concern about how we select which ex-PMs we do honour this way, and which one’s we don’t – its all a bit subjective?

    As per my last post – let Parliament decide the rules.

  26. Tony

    I think the people throwing parties for MT’s death will be doing the same for blair. Gordon on the other hand is a different matter

  27. ToH

    Lloyd George

  28. Tony Blair is not Britain’s first woman PM. The Queen (as a woman herself) is quite correct to consider this achievement by Mrs Thatcher as being worthy of special attention.

    Tony Blair divided the left, not the country. There is no need for a unifying figure (the Queen) to strive to show – by her presence – that the partisan queen of the Tories has died but our ‘One Nation’ Queen lives on.

  29. @ RiN

    “Gordon on the other hand is a different matter”

    Wot! No state funeral for the man who “saved the world”….?!!


    That is a stretch. I have to agree with Oborne in the Telegraph. This is borderline partisan by the Queen. And a precedent has been set.

  31. And Tony Blair, being the man he is, probably would not set his sights so low as to have a member of the royal family attend his funeral. I am sure he would prefer a funeral mass in St Peter’s with the Pope himself attending!

  32. 42/28 – Hmm. If this isn’t an “outlier” perhaps YouGov are just getting into line with all the other polls which have showed the Tories at this level for a while now?

  33. So the right don’t actually have a material objection as to why Blair shouldn’t be accorded the same honour then? That’s quite funny. ..

  34. Back to the polling:

    Unless today’s poll is a rogue-of-rogues, it reflects a continuation of that trend. Even if it’s at the bottom end of moe, it’s still the lowest YouGov Tory VI. That means that the mean value (that it is moe-ing from) is also at or near its lowest.

    In fact, there has been a long slow decline in Tory VI over the last 6-9 months (maybe even longer, since before the veto that never was), punctuated by blips and troughs (sometimes quite long lasting) for particular events. I would argue that this is just a reflection of that long term trend.

  35. sorry for the cut paste error

  36. @carfrew

    Try reading my post again. I don’t think you will find him in my list of three. Lets get back to polling please or you will upset AW.

  37. Yes he’s not in your list you just didn’t give a reason why.

    And has AW made you a mod or something because you keep invoking the moderation card after you have had your say. Or are you just trying to give him more work to do?

  38. @Colin

    Glad you got the computer back, I know what you mean about grandchildren.
    Thanks for the kind thought, i will know the results in a week. At the moment feeling well and not receiving any treatment.

  39. Tony

    No, I meant that other folk will be dancing in Gordon’s case

  40. @ChrisLane45

    Had a read, it was a good article although as we discussed last night I score it slightly the other way.

  41. I wonder what the VI for a Labour government would be in April 2018. Much the same as the Tories now I would guess. I think a lot (if not a majority) of the public want real change but won’t vote for it as they think that if they vote for the parties that will bring change (real change e.g not Blairite ‘change’ or Cameronite ‘change’) Labour will get in if your right-wing or the Tories will get in if you’re left-wing. The parties are so central these days that there’s little difference anyway. People need to start voting for a party they agree with rather than for, what they see as, the better of two evils.

    This could have disasterous side-effects, however – we might see more no-go hung parliaments.


  42. My last post was not meant to be partisan.

  43. @ Couper2802

    Yes, I agree with you. My comment is a stretch but then so is Oborne’s article.

    He seeks to draw attention to the Queen’s partisanship in the back-handed shape of a mildly controversial rebuke. The reason being: He is a Tory & he does not want the ‘compliment’ to go unnoticed; so he tries to whip up a debate about it by stretching some points & ignoring others e.g. Clem Attlee was not a religious man so a huge CofE service, with the Head of the CofE in attendance, would not have been seen as appropriate by the entire ‘establishment’ at that time (1967).

  44. When in power Tony Blair said that criticism of him played into the hands of the
    Right.What a pity he does not take his own advice.His remarks have been
    Seized on by the likes of Hodges and Schapps and will provide very useful
    ammunition at the next PMQs.If he really loves? His party the best policy
    Would be to keep his concerns to himself.

  45. RiN

    Not at all, pleople like me don’t behave that way. I believe GB is sincere but totally wrong about most things.

  46. @Anthony

    Good points about the usual caveats relating to all isolated polls, the wide margin of errors involved and the danger of cherry-picking particular polls that please one’s political loyalties.

    That said, considering the rolling UKPR average of polls now has the Tories on 29%, I’d say that yesterday’s 33%, rather than today’s 28%, looks the more likely outlier, if for no other reason that the inviolable law of statistics would suggest this to be so.

    Tonight’s/tomorrow morning’s poll will tell us a little more and, as you do, I suspect a reversion to the mean of a 10-11% Labour lead (40:30 is my guess). If so, we can conclude that the Thatcher bally-hoo, still to roll on until the funeral by the way, is having no discernible impact on the polls. I’d be surprised by that because I would have thought that wall-to-wall eulogies to a former Tory PM and all her works, played out in the mass media, would benefit the Tory Party. Maybe I reside in too simple a world!

    I’m detecting in some of the more biased parts of the media, and amongst Tory Party ultra partisans, an attempt to use the celebration of Thatcher’s life as a stick with which they can beat Labour. I’m starting to think that a narrative is being cleverly woven; Thatcher “saved” the country from Labour induced ruin and made it “great” again. This is being repeated, mantra like, as if it was an accepted truth rather than the wholly subjective and party political assertion that it is.

    Mind you, wouldn’t Cameron like to be cast in the same light too, some two years before the next GE. “Hey”, says Dave “I’m your latter day Maggie, clearing up a Labour mess and rescuing generations to come!”

    “Would you let the people who crashed the car…………………….”

    I wonder if Lynton Crosby is in on the funeral arrangements?

  47. I had a feeling that sometime this year we would see the Conservative vote falling to what is usually labelled “mid-term unpopularity”. So, it might well go below 28% or stay around this level for a while without that in itself meaning that Labour are heading for another 1997-style landslide.

    Especially, if they really are going for a “35% strategy”. I have wondered whether it would be a Tony Blair style strategy, squeezing out every last possible vote and getting a stonking big majority, but then not really doing anything like as much as a Mrs T might do in such a situation, or adopting a riskier strategy, not aiming for that but getting just enough votes to fall over the line, but then have a government more recognizably centre-left, albeit with possibly a tiny majority. Or if that goes wrong, then another hung parliament.


    “Thatcher “saved” the country from Labour induced ruin and made it “great” again.”

    That is what worries me about the current narrative and Labour because of the situation cannot refute it. But, this will be over and forgotten in a couple of weeks and given that the Coalition are manifestly NOT saving the country hopefully that spin wont gain ground.

  49. The Camerons paid a compliment to the RF by sending their son to the prep school which Prince Edward was attending, years later the compliment was repaid according to the Mail on Sunday:

    “…on the day [in 1988] he was due to attend a job interview at Conservative Central Office, a phone call was received from Buckingham Palace. The male caller stated, “I understand you are to see David Cameron. I’ve tried everything I can to dissuade him from wasting his time on politics but I have failed. I am ringing to tell you that you are about to meet a truly remarkable young man.”

  50. CL1945.

    Yes the GS article was very interesting.

    I thought his stats on coal mine closures was a nice portrayal of some of the “garbled facts, half-truths & rank falsehoods ” he refers to.

    Parris as pithy as ever too-I liked his distillation of the Thatcher he admired.

    The Blair piece in NS is intriguing. Does he know something we don’t ?

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