This morning’s YouGov poll in the Sun had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%. I wasn’t going to write anything because – at end of the day, there are only so many ways you can write “within the normal margin of error of YouGov’s recent polling”. However, with the New Statesman asking “What Lies behind Labour’s Shrinking Poll Lead?” and coming up with answers more exciting than “normal sample variation” I should probably put pixel to page.

For what it is worth the seven point Labour lead from YouGov is the lowest they have shown for a couple of months, and it comes after an eight point lead yesterday. I would still caution people to hold on a sec before looking around for reasons why Labour’s lead might be falling – there is not yet anything here that needs an explanation beyond “normal sample variation”. There was also a 14 point lead last week, and that too was within the normal margin of error. The dull and rather unnewsworthy truth is that unlike the polling rollercoaster of the last Parliament, this Parliament has seen very stable polls. While both main parties have declined a bit over recent months as UKIP have advanced, the Labour lead over the Conservatives really hasn’t seen any significant lasting change since April 2012.

237 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 33, LAB 40, LD 10, UKIP 11”

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  1. It would be interesting to know how many of the current 2010 Lib\Dem voters now voting Labour – voted labour in the 97, 01, 05 elections

    If it is a large majority of them then they are really Labour voters.

  2. @Statgeek

    Not sure about that, as Nicola Sturgeon has said at the Scottish TUC conference in Perth that in an independent Scotland, there will not be any increase in employee rights or powers for Trade Unions.

    Overall, I would argue that on these figures, Scotland is slightly more “left-wing” than the rest of the UK, but not decisively so, and some differences are actually within the margin-of-error(TM)…. so you could just as easily argue that Scotland is no different to the rest of the UK.

  3. Those 2010 GDP growth numbers are a godsend for Balls advocates.

    As I have already noted, 80% of the economy ( “Service Industries”) grew no more in 2010 than the two ensuing years.

    What really brought home the bacon in that year was “Construction”, which , according to ONS grew by 7.9% in 2010.

    With a weighting of 7% of the Economy , that is a contribution of 0.6% to overall growth.

    Without it, 2010 growth was 1.2%-not 1.8%

  4. spearmint

    My own guess is that unless LD/Clegg rule out another Con coalition [which they can’t and won’t] then the labour leaners [ex LD] will NOT return to support Clegg and that possibility come 2015.

    They just won’t be prepared to risk the same result. Tory problem is that their vote-winning mantra could be spun as:

    “Give us a chance to govern alone and we can be a lot nastier|”.

    That’s not how I would put it of course……………..


    I believe a lot of them were Labour voters who defected because of Iraq.

  6. Colin,

    Yeah, that’s how it seems to me too. Which… I don’t know, maybe I’m underestimating Clegg’s ability to launch a last minute appeal, but from here the ABT vote looks pretty solid.

  7. Yeah, nice try at an ad himinem painting folk as Balls’ advocates, haha. I’d have had a rather different strategy to his. But what Labour proved is that growth was possible, and austerity is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    It’s not a party political point. I’ve said before how Major and Clarke – post-ERM – had a rather more enlightened strategy than currently….

  8. @COLIN

    Don’t you think EM should make more of his opposition to Iraq? ala Obama.


    So-in the absence of the prospect of another war for EM to repudiate, what does he need to do & say to them?

    I would suggest :-

    Keep mentioning Clegg.
    Keep making the right noises about Private Sector providers in NHS.
    Keep pretending that he will reverse all the Coalition’s Welfare cuts.
    Keep saying New Labour is in the past.

    Plus the obligatory bashing of Bankers, Millionaires & other Lefty demons.

  10. Paul,

    It does seem like the Tories risk firming up the Lib Dem -> Labour vote share by chasing Ukip.

    I imagine there’s a demographic who don’t particularly care for Labour and who might not bother to vote against hug-a-hoodie Cameron, but who will drag themselves to the polls to see off tough-on-scroungers Cameron.

  11. The economic problem is not on the demand side – it is a fallacy coming from the old Say’s Law (textbooks are wrong – Keynes accepted both Say’s Law and Smith’s Dogma).

    Although the government’s spin is wrong (we do have a money tree, it’s called the BoE), it is rather a small tree as while the BoE (or the Treasury) can decide how much money is pumped in the economy, they have actually no control on the demand. This is why Keynes eventually got to the point of abolishing interests and ultimately got to the conclusion that only if the government replaces all investment demand his theory could work.

    This is largely the result of the empirical observation of the Great Depression – the first phase of the New Deal (largely stimulating demand) didn’t work, only when the government acted as direct investor in targeted segments of the economy was growth stimulated.

    Both Labour and the government base their views on a widely accepted, yet flawed, economic theory, namely the circulation of money as reflected in demand and supply of various sectors (industry, government, households), only they have different conclusions from it. This economic theory is so strong that all data is collected accordingly and hence misleads political decision making.

    Both sides confuses equilibrium and growth (no mainstream economic theory has a real growth theory, because they all come from equilibrium theories and also none of them have capital accumulation theories). The government, although it cannot openly state it, is uninterested in growth or rather it considers growth to be a function of a restored equilibrium (whatever its level would be – looks like an ideologically identified % of the GDP. The message kind of worked in the campaign as households think in terms of balancing and so do money traders. In contrast Labour considers equilibrium to be the function of growth. Neither is better.

    The easiest, short-term, way out would be inflation, but its necessary level (8-10%) would give a heart attack to any politician or central banker.

    The problem is not demand or supply, but the production of goods and services – because the ratios of measuring performance are awful (and have been so for 25 years – only indebtedness drove production over the alarm of these ratios). The government could give some incentives to REDUCE the asset values of firms (and also protection against hostile takeover as a result of this reduction) – the biggest objective (that cannot be easily overcome by legislation) obstacle to this, of course, the mad pension system.

  12. Dan Hodges ( collective sneer offstage left) sid on DP this morning that TB’s backseat driver advice to EM recently wasn’t him “reaching for the steering wheel”-but him saying “stop the car , I’m getting out”

    So that would be pretty positive for EM’s “keep a LibDem happy” strategy I should think.

  13. Carfrew,

    I don’t agree with the claim that Labour “got us back to growth” and in fact it’s the claim THAT governments like Brown’s could get us back to growth which was what I am disputing. So you’re not technically arguing with me or responding to my arguments, you’re just disagreeing.

  14. Colin,

    They’ve gone pretty quiet about Clegg. Preparing the ground for a future coalition, or just not wanting to hammer home the “Hey, you voted the wrong way last time, idiots!” message too hard for fear of turning off the defectors?

    Blair seems determined to help with the “Keep saying New Labour is the past” bit.

  15. Laszlo,

    Industrial production increased at ridiculous rates from 1933-1934. Demand-side stimulus had a massively productive effect on the US economy during that period. However, it was the gold-buying programme, rather than the New Deal, which led to the growth. When the gold-buying programme was stepped back and the New Deal continued, the recovery began to stall. When monetary policy was tightened in 1937, a double-dip occured.

  16. “The problem is not demand or supply, but the production of goods and services”


    No Laszlo. .. there is little point producing more if people don’t want to buy.

    Productivity can help though since it can lower prices.

    The demand approach isn’t flawed, it does actually work as Labour proved. But improve course you can get a double benefit when investment both helps demand AND productivity via infrastructure etc.

  17. @bill

    I can see that you don’t agree. The problem is that we did actually get back to growth despite institutional arrangements etc.

  18. The problem with the austerity is not that it attempts to cut back, but where it tries to cut back there is not enough, where it could cut back, it is politically unacceptable.

    As a result, I consider the government’s economic policy wrong and misguided – however, it does not mean that Labour has anything better – and certainly theirs is more difficult to sell to the public (and doesn’t really work.

    I actually think that a lot of things could be cut back, but these are not in the welfare state or defence (including enforcement agencies). For real growth a significant reallocation of resources is needed and the market is (has never been) capable to do it without incentives.

  19. I’m just guessing here but if Scotland is only slightly more left wing than England then might the real difference be how the electorate in each country view the parties on a left right basis. What I mean is do the Scots regard the Tories as more right-wing than the English voter

  20. Thanks for my Welcome

    Yes I come from the troubled borough of Barnet. which is being labelled broken Barnet by some.
    The next council elections could be interesting in Barnet (for the first time in decades)

  21. Carfrew,

    The Bank of England’s mandate is to keep CPI inflation on a long-term 2% trend, so the fall in inflation in 2009 gave them scope for stimulus. The key effect of fiscal stimulus was to ensure that much of the new money created by QE went into the pursuit of re-electing Labour.

  22. @ Bill Patrick

    The relatively quick industrial production growth is from April 1933 and July 1933 only. The latter level is not reached until August 1935. Indeed then the recession was coming in again in 1937 and really the rearmament was the one that “solved” the problem.

    This was my argument – simply demand manipulation did not solve the problem, it can create a boost, but since the underlying variables did not change, business chose not to invest and grow. it required structural policy and its best example would be the Tennessee Valley reconstruction (starting in May 1933).

  23. @bill

    It’s not all about QE. It’s about what investment decisions the government makes. Somehow you seem to have decided that the central bank are the only players regarding the economy. But actually what money the government spends, and how, also matters.

    Laying off hundreds of thousands of public sector workers – not a central bank decision either – also has an impact.

    As we have seen. The cuts saw a reduction in demand and business investment with the hardly surprising fall in tax receipts and rise in welfare costs.

    You have a theory but little evidence to support it. (Labour also suffered from rising commodity prices after the crash as investors fled to those safe havens. ..)

  24. @laszlo

    Ah, if you’re now saying it’s best not to just leave it to demand management but use all levers, (at least ones that don’t cause more problems than they solve) on that we can agree. Anyways… it’s sunny out. Coffee. …

  25. Statgeek

    Either you are wrong, or Scottish cross breaks are even more meaningless than we have thought.

    While noting the source, this recent poll is in the general direction of many past polls over many years.

    There is certainly no need for a separate referendum on Trident. A large proportion of those in favour base their preference on the removal of Trident. SGP speaks of little else in relation to the YES campaign.

    To be sure, under independence they would campaign for many things – transport, energy, etc. and many locally focused Green things might be done with independence especially if the Greens were the junior coalition partner, but for now, a Green YES campaign is synonymous with an independence campaign.

    The SNP have been anti-Trident for a decade or more, and much of the independence debate has been about the practicalities and the consequences.

    About 10 years ago I happened to be looking for property here in Rothesay when the SNP conference was on. They don’t come any more because the hall is too small. I took my son along because he is an SNP supporter and we were reading the literature at the CND stand.

    A reporter rushed up looking for a quote. The constitutional spokesman in the hall had said that getting rid of Trident was the sort of thing that they could do with independence.

    Nowadays there is nothing new about that.

    SGP would like to know how to find the people who are against Trident and have not yet decided to vote YES. If you could tell them how to find these voters, they would be very grateful.

  26. Richard

    Scottish Vote Compass was a joint academic project involving researchers from Department of Political Science at the University of Strathclyde and the eDemocracy Centre, based at the ZDA, University of Zurich.

    The Scottish Vote Compass asked 30 questions on a wide range of policies, including the economy, the constitution, health, the environment, education, justice and public services. The answers were then analysed against the policies of the five parties with seats in the last Holyrood Parliament – the SNP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Greens – and plotted voters against these parties.

    Almost 16,000 people completed the Compass questionnaire providing an important data set that will be useful in studying Scottish public opinion but also for comparison with other similar studies elsewhere.

    This showed the SNP were exactly where any party would want to be, almost a bulls-eye centre-centre. SGP were not very far away but distinctly to the left.

    The three UK parties were close to each other and well to the right of centre.

  27. Carfrew,

    “But what Labour proved is that growth was possible”

    “ does actually work as Labour proved..”

    “..we did actually get back to growth..”

    But Labour only ‘created’ growth by massive deficit spending as you must surely see.

    Obviously you are going to create growth if you borrow heavily and then throw it into the economy….this is not some miracle solution.

    The fundamental flaw in Labour’s strategy is that once you stop borrowing, this artificial growth bubble quickly collapses and you are left with a huge debt to repay…

    …as 2010 onwards has clearly demonstrated.

  28. Richard

    Another perspective is that English Voters are further to the left than Cons, but voted against Labour for whatever reason.

    Scottish voters do may not need to be so very much more distinctly left than English voters if they differ in their perception of NewLabour is that it is a party of the right.

    Where is the Centre? If you believe the press it is where DC stands, with UKIP balanced by the LibDems.

    If you believe the Universities of Strathclyde and Zurich, the Scottish centre is in a very different place.

    The perception of the university researchers is consistent with everything I know. I certainly don’t accept the perceptions of an ignorant and partisan metropolitan elite as being so robustly founded, but that doesn’t mean their perceptions are always wrong.

    If you look at representation in the Scottish Parliament, the far right don’t even save their deposits, and unashamed socialists have been elected.

    As for the UK parliament, within my lifetime only the Conservatives and only in Scotland has any party got more than half the popular vote.

    Perhaps all you need to know is that there are twice as many giant pandas in Scotland as Conservative MPs.

  29. Maybe it would be more helpful to stop generalising the ideological centre across all of England, but instead break it down to regional level when comparing with Scotland.

    The ‘centre ground’ in the SE is very much different from that in the NE.

  30. I agree with steve2 to a large extent. A lot of Labours growth was built on the foundation of both public and private debt. I don’t think either are desirable at high levels, but would agree private debt is probably worse.
    The problem with a comparitively big public sector, is that although it can support local and regional economies, it simply doesn’t deliver real growth or incremental tax revenue, it’s very much of the support kind, supporting local business etc. it’s clearly still a key part of the economy both for the services it provides, and the aforementioned support, but I don’t ever think it can be an engine of growth. For instance, it’s not what drives Germany’s dynamic economy for example.
    I think in 2010, we got to our biggest public sector size ever of 6.1 million people, or 53% of the economy. The conservatives were correct to say it was unbalanced.

  31. @Rich

    Nah, been through the “fake growth” gambit before, more than once but I get the impression you guys only follow the board every now and then so we wind up with Deja vu quite often.

    To put it quickly the fake growth gambit doesn’t work for numerous reasons, including….
    – we normally run a deficit, most years since the first world war. And we have had a lot if growth. Good luck trying go show it’s been mostly fake…
    – just because it’s debt-funded, does not mean there has been no growth. Businesses often grow by taking on debt and become rather huge.
    – even individuals take on much larger proportions of debt than our nation has currently, many times their yearly income, on a mortgage. And often make quite a bit out of it. Because the debt saves money on rent and the property accrues in value. Good luck trying to show the gains are fake and the house they live in doesn’t exist.
    – most of the time when Maggie had growth she ran a deficit too. So was the supposed Thatcher miracle a mirage too?
    – many elements of growth persist after you remove the stimulus. The infrastructure, for example, does not suddenly vanish. Nor do the new business investments in factories, equipment, training, new product lines etc.
    – if they use profits via stimulus to open a new export market abroad that doesn’t vanish either.
    – you don’t necessarily ever need to remove the stimulus anyway. Because growth leads to increased tax income and reduced welfare costs. Thus you can gain enough to cover the cost of the stimulus and thereafter just keep pocketing the proceeds of growth in subsequent years…

  32. @Rich

    We’ve been through the small state thing too. With TOH etc. That doesn’t work too well either. There’s a reason the richer nations per capita tend to have large public sectors. Because the infrastructure, education, healthy workforce, services etc. tend to help…

    The Anglo-Saxon neolib model tends to need the support of lots of natural resources to get by. .. continents like the US, Canada, Australia etc. .. and we’ve had a lot of resources in the past and via empire. We got by under Maggie with North Sea oil. Smaller nations can do OK with a smaller state like Switzerland because they can specialize more but even then that can make them vulnerable and when you look elsewhere the healthcare is left off the books etc which is a bit of a Swizz. …

  33. Carfrew,

    I have the New Keynesian model on my side and what has happened since then is consistent with that model. Also, from a monetarist perspective, the non-financial money supply has grown slowly since 2010, indicating a slowdown in monetary stimulus in response to rising inflation.

    As it is, you’ve managed to disagree with me, but not argue against me.

  34. @Bill

    You CLAIM to have a model on your side but aside from being a misreading of Keynes you have provided no evidence.

    Your claims don’t stand up. About growth not being possible because of “institutional arrangements”… not true because we had growth. You haven’t gotten past that fundamental flaw, you just keep claiming you disagree without any rationale.

  35. Also you couldn’t seem to see that government action affects the economy independent of the central bank. Faced with that error you just try and claim victory…

  36. Just a short (hopefully!) note to say that I will not be posting for a while. Sadly Devonian will be stopping altogether. Devonian was in fact my wife and she died unexpectedly following a heart operation. She it was who found the site for us and lurked on it for a long time, all the while telling me how good it was. She referred to you all as ‘friends’ so that I would ask her ‘what are friends on about’ and she would get annoyed and say that friends were on about so many things that she could not possibly summarize.

    She loved the site and would read it faithfully every night, particularly liking the elegance of some of the English (she had a first in the subject so was qualified to judge). And she greatly valued many of the contributors, Anthony for his even handedness and expertise, Paul Croft for his wit (and despite his atheism for she was a committed Christian), Amber and Sue Marsh (whom she called the mothers of the site), Eoin, Greenbenches, Crossbatt11, Alec, Roger Mexico, John Pilgrim, Martyn, MinM (for coming at things from unusual angles) and of course many others. As a birth right socialist most of her favorite contributors were of the left, but she also valued Colin and Neil for their honesty and the courage with which they put their view. She regarded TOH’s views as outrageous but also as the perversity of a stubborn and good man who did odd things like preserving rain forests. As a Christian she knew she should also love Mrs Thatcher but had the greatest possible difficulty with this project. She did not fear death but did fear that she would wake up confused from her operation and believe, because of the recent furore, that MrsT was still on the throne.

    For the moment I do not have the heart to go contributing myself but will lurk around. And in time, Anthony permitting, will try contributing again. When I do i will try and defend social work in which she believed passionately, and say the sort of things of which she would have approved. I will also try and avoid the pedantry and pomposity of which she sometimes (not often) accused me, while defying her by quoting Latin when I want.

    For the moment I just want to thank Anthony and all the rest of you for contributing to a life which was given meaning by her sense of the love of God, and delight by the Devon countryside,her family, her friends, an incredible range of ‘clients’ whom she saw as friends and interests that varied from Jonathan Swift to East Eastenders to UKPR.

  37. ADAM

    “In May 2014 there will be EU parliamentary elections. Will any UK party explain its policy regarding EU competition law and its effects on public services in the UK? [Rhetorical question only]”

    Yes. SNP, maybe PC

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