YouGov’s weekly results for the Sunday Times are now up online here. Current voting intentions are CON 31%, LAB 42%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 11% – typical of late, and no signs of any “Thatcher effect”, positive or negative.

46% of people think Thatcher was a great (20%) or good (26%) Prime Minister, compared to 35% who think she was a poor (9%) or terrible (26%) Prime Minister. Only 10% said she was just average. For what it’s worth these figures are a bit more negative than when YouGov asked the same question for the Sun at the start of the week – could be people less willing to be negative when the person being asked about has only just died, or the coverage grating on people’s nerves, or just normal sample variation. We can’t tell.

How much Thatcher divides opinion is apparent when you compare here to other past Prime Minister. She is rated more positively than Blair, Brown and Major, but more striking is how opinions on her are more extreme – many people say either great or terrible (46% between them), where with other recent PMs opinion tends to cluster around the mid-point.

So for Tony Blair 30% thought he was good, 36% bad, 30% average (and only 4% and 14% said great or terrible). For Gordon Brown 10% said good, 62% bad, 25% average (2% great, 31% terrible). For John Major 12% said good, 35% bad, 40% average (1% great, 9% terrible). YouGov asked about Heath too… but got lots of don’t knows, showing the limitations of asking the general public about politicians who were in power before many of them were born. Asked which later Prime Minister can best claim to be the heir of Thatcher (a good or bad thing depending on your point of view!), 52% of people said either none of them or don’t know. Of those who did answer, David Cameron was the most common response with 23%.

People were somewhat more evenly split on whether Thatcher was good or bad for the country – 42% thought she was good, 38% bad. On balance people thought that she left a country that was better off, was more respected in the world and offered more opportunities for women. However, people also thought she left a country that was more divided and less equal. Overwhelmingly they thought she did not do enough to support areas where traditional mining and manufacturing industries were closed.

Asking about the specific policies Mrs Thatcher introduced in office there were very divided opinions. Large majorities (68%) thought she was right to use force to retake the Falklands and to get a rebate on Britain’s EEC contributions. Majorities of people thought it was right to introduce the right to buy (60%) and to take on the trade unions (55%). By 46% to 36% people also thought it was right to cut the top rate of income tax from 83% to 40%.

People were negative about the introduction of Section 28, prioritising inflation over unemployment, deregulating the City of London and privatising utilities like British Gas and British Telecom. By far the most negative reaction was to the Poll tax, which 68% of people thought was the wrong thing to do.

Moving on to the reactions to her death, on balance people support the BBC coverage of her death – 24% think it has been too positive, 16% too negative, 40% that they have got the balance about right. The decision to recall Parliament is seen as wrong by 49% of people compared to 35% who think it was right, and 53% think those Labour MPs who did not attend were right to say away. David Cameron’s own response is seen as appropriate – 47% think he has respondents in an appropriate and dignified way, as opposed to 28% who think he has tried to play her death for political advantage.

On the funeral, 8% of people think Thatcher should have been given a full state funeral, 42% that the ceremonial funeral she is being given is correct, 43% that she should have been given neither. The Queen’s decision to attend is seen as correct by 57% of people.

There is comparatively little support for any further commemoration. Only 29% would support a new statue of Thatcher in London (and only 18% a statue in Trafalgar Square) and only 17% would support renaming Port Stanley after her. However, there is also wide scale rejection of people who have organised parties to celebrate her death – only 14% of people think this is acceptable, 75% unacceptable (including a clear majority of Labour party supporters).

288 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 31, LAB 42, LD 12, UKIP 11”

1 2 3 6
  1. I had the wild idea that the Millwall violence was pro- vs anti-Thatcherites brawling about political divisions. But upon investigations it appears it was grown men high on booze and charlie arguing over seats.

  2. The Sun (can’t find any other source for it) is reporting that Prof Rollings estimates this year’s local election results as –
    Tories -380 seats
    Labour +370 seats
    Lib -110 seats
    UKIP +40
    Tories to lose control of 8 councils to NOC and 3 to Labour.

    The Sun reporting that the figures are based on a YouGov poll – has YouGov released any local election polling?

  3. @AW

    Have just popped in from the garden for a coffee. Excellent summary thank you. Not surprised by anything in the poll, mostly predictable.

    @Rich from previous thread
    Yes, interesting , as i posted yesterday, definite signs of splits within Labour

  4. Do the Blairites actually have much power or influence? It seems to me that the Brownites have inherited the earth now that they have got rid of, er, Brown.

  5. In terms of the Local elections it seems to be an assumption around the standard poll and then project onto what happened last time. There are 2 obvious problems unless someone who truly understands these things has done some real work in that turnout based on a General Election and Turnout based on a local Council election will be very different.

    UKIP are clearly doing better, but will they actually have candidates and infrastructure to deliver votes everywhere.

  6. The ComRes poll in the previous post had only 25% support for a tax payer funfded funeral and only 33% saying that she was the greatest peace time prime minister.

    We should remember that poll when discussing this one.

    I have a question for the experts:

    The ComRes question was posed in the negative:
    Do you agree that the taxpayer should not fund the funeral?

    Why is it phrased in that way?

  7. There are far more than two obvious problems, if it’s purely a national poll. Academics can ruin their reputations by putting their names to something built on such shaky premises..

  8. In terms of thatcher coverage it is beginning to grate, there is a certain natural reaction of not speaking ill of the dead on the day she dies, even for a Labour supporter like me. But the cost of the recall of Parliament when the same event could have taken place only 5 days later if they had simply waited till the following Monday, scale of the Funeral, the Media coverage initially was clearly appropriate for a significant figure, but a week later outrage over ding dong and prioritising coverage over who will take part in what part of the service on Wednesday over the threat of Nuclear War in Korea!

    The coverage is clearly going to continue through at least next Thursday, with gradually a bigger and bigger group of the electorate turning off.

    For those who lived through it and as I am 50 this year arriving at University in 1981 and moving from Scotland to England for work in 85, even for me my true working career had barely started by the time she left office. You have a generation in Scotland and the North presumably more likely to vote in May against the memory of Maggie! Maggie! Maggie!, You will have a Generation in the South who remember her more fondly but will that make them vote Cameron or remind them how disappointed they are in Cameron and vote UKIP?

    For the Generation who can not remember her at all is this coverage more or less likely to make them vote at all?
    I remember being surprised that helping at a first time voters event in 1997 being told not to mention her, as the first time voters even then were barely aware of her. They would have been 11 when she left office and not even born when she arrived in office.

    It is hard to accept but to a first time voter in 2015: 1997 is ancient history 1979-1990 is another world.

  9. @Couper2802
    It’s actually one of many in the form of
    “Do you agree or disagree with (each of) the following statements”

    Still not an ideal format, because the question has then to be put one way or another.

    If the direction of that statement does lead to confirmation bias, then there will have been some in responses to preceding statements too
    “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement….Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s greatest peacetime Prime Minister”

  10. I would imagine polling for local elections is very difficult because you get only a vague relation to national intention. There are so many disparate local issues and personalities that you’d have to poll widely in every council seat and the logistics would be nightmarish.

    There are plenty of people who vote Labour in GEs and Tory or Liberal in locals because they know the candidates and have gotten to like them.

  11. If the Queen had chosen not to attend, who’s to say that 57% would not have backed that course too?

    Asked to agree or disagree with the actions of someone that is respected, people will be biased to agree with the action regardless of what it is. A polling phenomenon revealed in an enlightening thread a few days back on the “other site”:


    So it is just to balance things up a bit if there is confirmation bias.

  13. I understand that Cameron twice previously agreed to the protocol that if Maggie died during a recess, time would be given for a debate on the earliest available day Parliament was due to sit, as is normal practice. It seems it was also assumed that this would be something in line with previous convention (Churchill was given 45 minutes of Parliamentary time as his tribute, rather than 7 1/2 hours). Shortly after the death was announced, Cameron surprised the Speaker with his request, as he had clearly changed his mind.

    This morning it is reported that Andrew Cooper is stepping down as No 10 director of strategy, after losing a power struggle with Lynton Crosby. Cooper was the one saying that the Tories would never win a majority unless they distanced themselves from the Thatcher legacy.

    I suspect these events may not be unconnected, and it would be entirely reasonably to draw an assumption that the change of decisions from previously agreed protocols is due to Crosby pushing towards identification with Thatcher, and quite possibly the acceptance of this being the final straw for Cooper.

    I also think it makes clear which direction Cameron is traveling in.

    The intriguing factor is that we judge Cameron and his current philosophy by the people he surrounds himself with, as we have no real idea what his own philosophy really is. It’s changed so much, even from when he entered No 10, let alone from when he took over the party. In this, he seems far closer to the Heath model than the Thatcher ideal, which may explain why Thatcher was determined not to die while Cameron was PM.

  14. Interesting the Daily Mail a few days ago were saying the BBC had received complaints from viewers that the BBC coverage was biased . What they forget to tell their readers was more people were complaining of PRO Thatcher bias than anti. Mmmmm I wonder why the Mail “accidentally” forgot to mention that? Looks like Leveson has had no effect on journalistic integrity.

  15. TF – Yes, there is a YouGov poll asking how people would vote in the local elections (it was actually done about a week and a half ago – I wasn’t sure if it would end up being held over again to make room for more Thatcher coverage, but obviously not).

    It should go up on the YG website tomorrow, though the projection by Colin Rallings is really the bit you should look at, not the raw figures. This is because the elections are mostly in county councils, with a couple of mostly more rural unitaries thrown in, the areas with elections are heavily skewed towards the Conservatives. Hence in vote share the Tories are actually ahead… but this should NOT be taken as a good sign for the Tories, its just because the elections (and therefore the poll) is only in rural areas and actually reflects a big swing to Labour since 2009. It is NOT an attempt to predict the BBC’s projected national share on the night, which is a projection based on what support would be if all those urban areas without local elections also voted.

    I should also add that the seats gains and losses are what would happen if people voted in line with the YG poll calculated by Colin Rallings. It is NOT Colin’s own projection based on the local government by-elections, which may well be different.

    Anyway – as other people have mentioned, polling for local elections is indeed tricky – first you need to identify the areas with elections, which is a bit choppy (shire counties are easy because they are all up for grabs, other areas are an approximation… for example, all of Bristol was in the sample, but some wards in Bristol don’t actually have contests this year), then there is the pattern of competition – not even all of the three main parties contest all the seats, so some people saying they may vote Labour, for example, may get to the polling station and find they can’t. Finally there are many independent councillors and candidates who do well who people clearly weren’t really considering enough when answering the poll or the proportion of “others” would have been higher. That may improve if we do another poll closer to the actual locals when people know who their local candidates are. No idea at all if we will

  16. @Anthony

    I’m not saying that the Thatcher section of this YouGov poll is pure voodoo, but I’m a bit sceptical of its validity, to be honest. How many of the views expressed are based on personal experience of Thatcher’s time as PM? If we were being generous, I think we’d have to say that to have a reasonable memory of Thatcher’s premiership, even at the very end of it in 1990, some 23 years ago, you’d have to be at least 33, wouldn’t you? To have a memory of her early times, you’d have to be at least early 40s, and we’re talking childhood recollections here, not adult, poll tax-paying, job-hunting memories. For those, you’d have to be in your 50s or older, I’d say.

    And that’s where my scepticism about this particular poll comes from. Of the weighted sample of 1981 people who participated, 745 of them, very nearly half, were in the 18 to 39 age group. All their views about Thatcher, assuming they expressed any at all, would be derived from media generated received wisdom and school history lessons, because they’d have no real recollection of what Thatcher was like as a Prime Minister, nor would they have personally experienced the effects of her policies; certainly not in any meaningful way. Many of them wouldn’t even had been born when she made her tearful departure from Downing Street.

    Accordingly, how much of the current opinion expressed about Thatcher, both good and bad, has been based on the recent blanket media coverage of her life and times? I’d say quite a bit and, considering much of it has been reverential, of the”she saved our country” type partisanship (opinion expressed as fact), then I’m not sure this poll is telling us much beyond sentiments like “well, from all accounts, she sounded a strong and determined leader”. My advice on this is always to beware the mythology and base your views of Margaret Thatcher on personal experiences of her time in office, coupled with the illuminating analysis of subjective historians and scholars.

    One little passing thought. Was any polling done in 1990 about what people thought of her? Now, that might have been interesting!

  17. @ the other Howard,

    Yes I agree, signs of labour splitting. Be interesting to see if this continues. I always had a lot of respect for David Blunkett, he seemed to have a knack of saying things people identified with, especially the social issues when he was Home Secretary.


  18. @AW
    Thanks, the results are awaited with interest.

    It implies that YouGov can conduct a poll at a very fine geographical level, sufficient to distinguish between areas holding local elections in May and those that aren’t holding such elections.

    On the other hand, if you haven’t that capacity, and have simply asked a filter question as to whether local elections are being held or not, I’d still be wary of the results, simply because people often don’t know until late on whether or not local elections are being held.

    If the former, could I suggest that you use that ability to discriminate at the geographical level to produce every now and then some sub-breaks by category of parliamentary seats? e.g. Con/Lab, Lab/Con, Con/LD, LD/Con, Lab/LD, LD/Lab, Other.

  19. Con supporters here have respect (‘always had’) for Lab politicians who are stirring it up against Ed Miliband.

    Well, there’s a turn up.

    I expect Lab supporters ‘always had a lot of respect’ for Bill Cash.

  20. @Rich

    @ the other Howard,

    “Yes I agree, signs of labour splitting”

    Unlike the Conservatives who are solidly behind David.

  21. I don’t think Labour are splitting. I think old Blairites are upset that David M has pushed off. What exactly are they agitating for anyway?

    To be more like the Tories? I think the Tories are already wearing those clothes.

    But the split is a bit of a Tory fantasy, I think. The real splits in Labour appear when they are asked to support Government austerity or even abstain, as per the Workfare vote. And when expected to show up and praise Thatcher, when a goodly chunk had better things to do.

  22. Crossbat – it’s measuring their opinions… however stupid, ignorant or ill-informed they are. Of course large parts of it come from the media, that’s where people get most of their information about public affairs and politics. Of course large percentages of people don’t have any direct memories themselves.

    It shouldn’t matter though, because public opinion shouldn’t be taken as some sort of official jury or final ranking.

    Because x% think that Mrs Thatcher was a good PM doesn’t mean she was. Because y% think she was right to do this policy or that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. Polls are not a magic 8 ball, they don’t tell right or wrong, they don’t divine the truth. They just show what people think now, when they are being asked. That’s it. Very often the public are wrong.

    You’ll never find me peddling that “wisdom of crowds” schtick. The crowd aren’t necessarily wise, sometimes they are dumb. A poll is just a poll. It’s just people’s opinion. No more.

  23. Phil – of course. We know where panellists live (its where we send their cheques!) so we can map them to the local authorities or constituencies they live in.

  24. Rich – does that include Blunkett not supporting equalising the age of consent.
    Blunkett to many in the Labour Party was a very conservative, illiberal home secretary.

    This may be why you respected him but his influence is the party in minimal.

  25. @MrNameless

    Our local paper’s website had an online poll (nothing too serious in methodology) “What will determine the way you vote in the council elections in May” – National issues 25%, State of the roads 52% – everything else too small to mention.

    I can understand that, the roads around here are like the lunar surface.

  26. In12 local council byelections so far this month, UKIP stood a candidate in only 5 contests:

    One UKIP gain from Con (North East Lincolnshire UA, Humberston and New Waltham) … three seats were Lab holds (Nottingham/Wigan) with UKIP out-polling Con in two of them, one an LD hold (Luton) with Con out-polling UKIP.

    Farage on a recent visit to Durham: “We’re hoping to have 100 per cent coverage of candidates in many areas in the Midlands and the South… we’re targeting a figure of 40 per cent for the elections in Northumberland and County Durham.”

    I’ve seen it reported that 75% of the May 2nd local elections are Con/LD shire contests… so it’s hard to say whether UKIP will make a breakthough, they are likely to have an impact on results though.

  27. Phil Haines

    Thanks for the link to Mike Smithson’s article, hilarious.

    Good one for you to try Anthony.

  28. NickP

    I think the ‘blasts from the past’ always fail because they are that.

    Ted Heath had the permanent sulks for decades and just could not let it go. It was different with Geoffrey Howe as he was fresh from the scene and had recently resigned.

  29. KeithP

    The irony is that only national government can doing anything about the roads as it doles out the funding. Council tax won’t do it.

  30. Is David Blunkett still an MP then? I thought that he’d retired because I’ve read he’s now working for News International (Murdoch’s news group).

  31. Talk of Labour ‘splits’ is a bit misleading at present. It’s clearly willing such a thing, but in reality so far we have only a couple of ex ministers who won’t be playing a significant role in the public eye, saying that Labour need to be careful about how they frame policy. Nothing too dramatic in that.

    This isn’t to say that splits won’t occur, but it is worth remembering that many of those claiming these are splits are from the same camp that in the aftermath of the GE, said confidently that Labour would slip into internecine warfare, Dave would start fixing the economy, and then win a big majority next time.

    I think these people need to resign themselves to the fact that Labour is more or less united, or at least has a strong party discipline, and that the party with the weakest internal discipline and widest philosophical gaps to bridge, remains the Tory party.

  32. If you would look to the polls today, you’d be very brave to suggest even a tory hung parliament!
    their poll ratings are very dire right now.

    However, I do not seriously think that the UKIP will pose much of a threat to the conservatives when the election nears.
    Why not? I think UKIP will be the classical protest party.
    When they have got the choice of either giving Cameron or Miliband the keys to Numer 10, they’ll think twice about voting UKIP. Of course, I think UKIP will get more than the 3% it got last time, but nowhere near 11%.

    UKIP will get scrutinised, people will see that they have not much of a credible plan for the economy.

    Plus, I think British politics fluctuates a lot more than even a decade ago. I am wondering what the impact of the debates are on the General Election Campaign!

    But we will see in 2 years’ time!

  33. Interesting to see those who think the comments of a few Labour dinosaurs about Ed.M. are signs of split in Labour’s ranks. How unlike the enormous support given by Tory dinosaurs for Dave.

    Says David Cameron will not win the next Election – and forecasts the ‘next Maggie’ could be a female from a Muslim background.
    ?Accuses ‘bungling’ BBC boss and ex-Tory Cabinet Minister Chris Patten of contributing to her downfall.
    ?Says a Tory MP aide castigated for not seeing the leadership threat to her had a drink problem.
    ?Reveals how he told a fellow Conservative Cabinet Minister, who tried to ‘screw’ him: ‘It’s time we buried the hatchet, normally I do that in the other guy’s head.’

    Good to see Tebbit hasn’t lost any of his ‘charm’ a happy band of brothers the Tories how unlike those nasty lefties who are always at each others throats.

    Female Muslim, who could he mean?

  34. Agree Maxbore UKIP 5-6% at the GE with 3-4% net gain for the cons (some ex Lab will go back as well).

  35. Amber – yep still Hillsborough + Brightside MP, but likely to step down in 2015

  36. “labour splits”

    Wishful thing at its silliest.

  37. “Tories -380 seats
    Labour +370 seats”

    I hope one of those seats is Clacton East…but somehow I doubt it!

  38. Anthony Wells – What do you think, will be the impact of the general election debates? it is of course impossible to predict, but what do you think? In my opinion, the debates will add an extra dynamic to the campaign, with much up for grabs.
    With a lot more fluctuation.
    Do you agree?

  39. I remember when the Tories protrayed blunket as the leader of the socialist republic of south Yorkshire comparing his polices to north Korea, odd how times change

  40. Talking of splits.

    An odd story in the Scottish press, apparently Scottish labour Mp’s are boycotting their own party conference in Inverness because they haven’t been consulted on a new Tax proposal.

    Dummies and Prams time I think.


  41. @Nick P – ” …old Blairites are upset that David M has pushed off.”

    Except that Blunkett voted Andy Burnham, as did Hazel Blears and Kate Hoey amongst others.

  42. Blunkett – at one time some kind of force in politics. Now washed up, and relying on newspaper articles and the odd speech. Decent enough bloke, but a has been, and as I said above, is unlikely to continue being MP.

    And he’s a Wednesdayite, poor choice.

  43. Does any one know why dinosaurs do this as opposed to having a quiet word? The new leader is not going to say ‘ok you are right’ It can only do damage so what is the point.

  44. Why did the Dinosaur cross the road?

    To tell the Chicken not to lean to the left!


  45. Couper2802

    Ego, masses of it.

  46. “On the funeral, 8% of people think Thatcher should have been given a full state funeral”

    Seems a bit low concidering the amount of manic followers she has on here!! ;)

  47. PeterCairns
    Talking of splits.

    An odd story in the Scottish press, apparently Scottish labour Mp’s are boycotting their own party conference in Inverness because they haven’t been consulted on a new Tax proposal.

    Dummies and Prams time I think

    Should be a very interesting FMQ’S at the next session!!

  48. Regarding The Queens attendance at the Thatcher public funded funeral I suspect an even bigger majority would have agreed with Her decision if it had been not to attend.

    The problem with asking if you think a widely liked individual has made the right decision after they have made it , is that the answer is almost always going to be yes.

    In the same way as there are people who would vote for a card board cut out if it was wearing the right rosette.

    In fact they did in my own area !

  49. Someone’s confusing a bit of mid-term squabbling with an actual split.

    8% think Mrs T should have had a full state funeral?
    It’s not that far off such a thing.

1 2 3 6