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. Interesting time for Labour’s lead in the polls to be declining a bit with local elections just around the corner.

  2. We’ve just had 10 days of largely uncritical blanket coverage of MT. It would be surprising if it didn’t have at least a temporary effect.

    In the medium term, there has been a small reduction in the Labour lead since Eastleigh due, rather contrary to perceived wisdom, to an increase in UKIP VI more at the expense of Lab than Con – post Eastleigh, Lab VI dropped by nearly 2% almost overnight. The fact is that, despite that, the Lab lead has been fairly steady at 10%.

    A different way of ironing out sampling error, instead of running averages, is to look at the peaks and troughs of VI over the last couple of weeks. Con VI has ranged between 28 and 33, Lab between 39 and 43. At either end, that’s a lead of 10-11.

    As AW says, we’ll need to see a lot more single-figure Lab leads, over an extended period, before we can say the lead has narrowed.

  3. @Robin

    Agree we should wait for several more polls, exactly what i said this morning.

  4. That’s still pointing at a big Labour majority, not necessarily a landslide. EM does not need that to win.

    We’ll be back to normal soon once current events reassert themselves.

  5. Unemployment is up, wages are falling, and the Thatcher funeral is done now so any effect it may have had will likely disappear soon.

    The government doesn’t really have anything for the next few months that it can use to boost its popularity, and losses in the local elections probably won’t help them.

  6. There’s a couple of polls posted today in Wikipedia for Germany’s Federal elections of 22/9:

    One,from Allensbach has the two main parties at CDU/CSU 38.5%,SPD 28% a lead of 9.5%.

    The other, from Forsa has CDU 42%, SPD 22%, a lead of 20%.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly earlier recent polls from other companies show leads around the 15% level.

    I like the thought of the cherry-picking trend arguments the press and others could have using these figures which are also a good example of how just looking at ‘lead’ can sometimes produce startling results.

  7. If the response to any movement in the polls is “within the normal margin of error”, doesn’t it make the almost daily reporting of Yougov polls pretty pointless and fairly meaningless. Why not just produce a monthly average or do you think we would have nothing to talk about.

  8. Of course the Thatcher deification is having an effect on polling, I can feel the effect on myself, earlier today I caught myself thinking that maybe she was a good pm and I hadn’t even been taking mind altering substances

  9. Richard

    Lol :-)

  10. Turk – singularly a voting intention poll is of little use. Collectively however, if you have lots of them they are great. We’ve had a year of static polls, but that doesn’t mean you don’t see meaningful movement within a month (or a week!) when things are happening and opinion is moving.

  11. Hello, this is my first tentaive post
    Are the latest polls due to a declining UKIP polling?

  12. Yes….my sense is also that when Europe or Benefit scroungers or perhaps Mrs T has swamped Media attention the conservative numbers edge back up into the lower 30s – and Labour edges down to 39-40 level.

    Were I a Conservative adviser to DC I’d not be too disheartened at this stage of a Parliament. If I were EM’s strategist I’d want to indicate he may need to do more to convince the public he is the answer to their prayers. But how different is that as AW would say to anything over the past 18 months…

    I still feel the decisive factor will turn less on the Conservative vote & more on whether those LibDem voters from 2010 really do return to Labour. And oddly were that to be the case the result of the next election was determined more by what happened in the six months after the last than anything else.

    That is interesting in itself. I am aware however, that in all those figures there is lots of churn as they say.

    Of course what happens to the economy is most likely to mean more than all the rest put together.

    If unemployment is a lagging indicator – then I would be rather concerned if it has started rising again as the incomes stagnate and inflation edges up and benefits (including in work benefits like child benefit) are also squeezed) as these will start once more to take cash spending out of the economy.

  13. Personally I am unsure if its a Thatcher bounce. On the radio on the way home the BBC coverage was very measured.

    There are some dangers for EM ahead, and it will be interesting to see how they move forward. The biggest obvious one is getting across what they stand for. Personally I am unsure, and yet I am very interested in politics, so that maybe says something about the potential confusion. I know they don’t agree with austerity in general, yet Alistair Darling had a plan that did still have sizeable austerity in it, do people realise this?, I doubt it. In addition, I see people comment that they may move left, but then I also see a slogan like One Nation, and don’t quite understand how too far a move left would allow them to be One Nation when around 45% of the voting public vote for cente right parties? The manifesto for 2015 will be key. If it is too far left, then there is a real danger that people might see it as a step backwards to old Labour, and therefore I think Blair, Milliband, Blunkett etc do have a very valid point in their concerns about this direction.

  14. I think the important thing to note isn’t the lead but the Labour VI. As long as Labour is polling upwards of say 38%, it’s going to be very hard for them not to be the biggest party come election day, regardless of Conservative VI which will have to be bigger than Labour’s to be the biggest party.

    As it is, Labour consistently posting around 40% is pretty good news for them, any increases in Tory numbers that isn’t effecting their VI won’t bother them too much, I won’t think?

  15. @ Rich

    Spot on about EM, I don’t see a One Nation Man unless we’re all suddenly sitting together on the left-wing! When push comes to shove most voters tend to revert to type at a GE, it’s the small percentage of floaters who will decide the outcome. At this point I suspect we might end up with a LD-CON coalition again, not the worst result if it happens.

  16. A big hello to @Adaminbarnet

    I guess my response would be that I don’t know and think we should wait a little to see if there really is an observable poll effect.

    On the Thatcher thing, I’m rather with James Kirkup in todaysTelegraph. I think Cmaeron’s attempt this morning to politicise the day of the funeral was misguided, but I think there is a wider mistake that has been made on the right.

    Speaking from the north of England, this event and the way it has been handled and presented by the Tory party, has been very divisive. It is entirely counter to Cameron’s previous approach to Thatcher – trying to down play that period and moving on. There is no question that this has rankled with many, and I suspect has probably hurt Tories in the areas where they need to advance if they wish to win a majority.

    I fully agree with comments above about dangers for Ed and Labour, but I also feel we’ve witnessed a very public retreat to past generations with Tories, and this won’t win them elections in the future.

    “Hello, this is my first tentaive post
    Are the latest polls due to a declining UKIP polling?”

    Hi Adam, welcome.

    It’s possible that the UKIP vote has suffered by the Thatcher coverage but if this is the case, I would expect normal service (whatever that is) to be resumed soon.

  18. I don’t see the UKIP vote going down that much atm. Perhaps the Conservative vote increasing from temporary non-voters?

    The New Statesman article posits a shrinking Labour lead from a couple of polls. Is it really shrinking? Too early to tell. Then there’s the old chestnut of comparing with what happened in previous parliaments, some oppostions won, some didn’t, difficult to predict this if we remember what happened in 1992.

  19. Adaminbarnet,

    The last 3 YG polls have had the Conservative getting more support from women than men, so it seems this is where the mini upturn in Con VI is coming from. It is rather unusual, as Peter Kellner wrote recently, as for the last year or so Con support from men have led women by about 2% on average.

    The interesting thing will be to see whether this gender-reversal persists.

  20. @Turk
    At least with YouGov you can look at a week’s worth of data and consider whether a new trend has emerged.

    The same volatility will exist in ICM polls (especially after stripping out the artificial stability brought about by constant assumptions in the adjustments they make). So if we had to rely on ICM polls in isolation, it would take perhaps five months worth of polls to reach the same degree of confidence regarding the impact of m.o.e. In fact it would take more, because the ICM sample is smaller.

    Welcome to you from Bournemouth. Barnet Borough has one of the only two catholic grammar schools which survived the onslaught. They must have had powerful leaders there, since in every other area that kept grammar schools, such as mine, the church surrendered.

    Can you explain why the pollls keep on showing the LD figure as so high? Fresh thinking would be very welcome.

  22. ‘ChrisLane1945

    “Can you explain why the polls keep on showing the LD figure as so high?”

    So high compared to what? 10 is not high by any standards, given that they polled 24 last GE!

    So, is it you’re expectation that they deserve a zero rating perhaps?

  23. oh dear my grammar is bad tonight – read your, not you’re in my last post please!

  24. ALEC

    @”but I also feel we’ve witnessed a very public retreat to past generations with Tories, and this won’t win them elections in the future.”

    You really do love to see things in apocalyptic terms. Everything is in HD with you-no shades of grey.

    Con MPs are as proud of Thatcher as Labour’s are of Attlee.
    Less so probably if you did a headcount !!

    What really amuses me about contributions like yours & that from CB11 on the previous thread is the idea that the Conservative Party organised this funeral as some sort of two fingered gesture to The North.

    By & large it was set out by Blair & Brown, in discussion with MT herself.

    Brown had the famous photo call with her at No10.

    For what it is worth , I think the service was not in the pomp & ceremonial category. A lot of vicars in fancy dress , & a very big church certainly.

    But it was a funeral service -there were no eulogies-just lovely singing of popular hymns.

    And it was attended by the military at the deceased’s request. And the military have widespread support in this country so one imagines that will have met with the usual pride & approval.

    As for effect on VI of all of this -I really think it is & will be Zero.

    THere is no discernable polling effect as yet, and the people who dislike MT will just go on doing so whilst her supporters will have approved of the day. Both parties will proceed to forget about it as MT passes into history.

  25. Welcome Adam in Barnet

    Yes! I think you are correct. The UKIP level is unwinding a bit and it does on the face of it seem to be benefiting the Tories. However, it is all a bit early to tell if this is a meaningful shift that will linger.

    A spot on first post though! The first of many I hope.

  26. @alec,

    I fail to see how today was politicised? I thought it was very well done and quite moving? Remember, much of the planning was done by past Labour administrations.


  27. @Alec
    I agree that Cameron’s colours are now well and truly nailed to the image of the Conservative Party of old. Personally I don’t think that will do them much good, of course those on the hard right will disagree, but regardless there’s no turning back now. That’s the long term consequence: the Conservatives have chosen to take up the mantle which Theresa May defined for them.

    Given that we had a recent ICM poll that changed a 6% Lab lead into a 3% Con one were Thatcher to be leader, I’ve changed my mind on the impact of her death on current VI. There has been sustained very largely positive coverage of her legacy from a printed media that is still overwhelmingly supportive of her, none of which has really been challenged by the deferential BBC. To be consistent with ICM, it ought to have had a slight benefit to the Conservatives in the polls, in terms of narrowing polling lead, regardless of what else is going on. That said, the cross breaks in the last two YouGovs have been so inconsistent with one another that it’s not easy to see what group that narrowing has come from.

    It’s difficult though to see that short term polling effect lasting beyond a couple of weeks, rather than the couple of years needed to influence the next election. So it’s a one off event, which can’t be repeated, and from that perspective there may be a few Conservatives wishing in retrospect that she could have hung on until April 2015.

  28. It seems to me that the experience and news of the oncoming benefits reductions, across the board; the likely losses in the local elections and the continuing bad economic news are not going to be responsible for any increase in the Tory’s polling numbers – quite the reverse.

  29. @phil Haines,

    I honestly think you have it completely wrong. I would say Cameron is quite Liberal for a Conservative leader. If anything, it looks like Ed Miliband is the most likely leader to go back to a previous position the party held, which is a move to the left. As I said earlier, he needs to judge this carefully, as a nudge to the left might be fine for people given austerity etc, but if it is a big move back to the late 70s with punitive taxes etc, then it’s likely to be seen as a big step backwards by a large chunk of the electorate, as per Blair, Milliband and Blunket’s warnings.



    @”The UKIP level is unwinding a bit ”

    I can’t see that.
    Comparing this poll-33/40/10/11 with the recent Labour lead high of 28/42/12/11 ( 11 April) -UKIP VI is unchanged.

    THe big changes ( expressed in terms of the 2010 vote) between these two are :-

    Cons retaining 5%pts more of their own support & losing 4%pts less of it to Labour.

    LD retaining 5%pts less of their own support, losing 11% pts more of it to Cons & 8% pts less of it to Labour

  31. “What Lies behind Labour’s Shrinking Poll Lead?”

    Yes, tell us: were these believable Tory Lies or unbelievable Labour lies?

    Unbelievable lies are more offensive because they insult the voter.

  32. JBD

    @”“What Lies behind Labour’s Shrinking Poll Lead?”
    Yes, tell us: were these believable Tory Lies or unbelievable Labour lies?”

    New Statesman lies actually.

  33. If the Labour front bench was a little more convincing, (with the latest IMF report etc, you do wonder if bringing back Alistair Darling wouldn’t be a good thing) then I’m sure that Labour would have a larger lead. However as Labour are working on a 35% tactic they’ve calculated probably quite rightly they don’t need much higher than that, fair enough i suppose.

  34. I wouldn’t take that 35% strategy thing as gospel. It was denied by people close to Ed Miliband. Obviously they would say that anyway, so it doesn’t mean it isn’t true… but neither does the fact that some newspaper reported it mean that it is.

  35. @david,

    I agree actually. As a centre right person myself, I really admire Darling, very credible in my view. Ed Balls I could never vote for, and I suspect that goes for a lot of voters in the centre battle ground. Bringing back Darling would be a master stroke for Labour if you ask me. How’s that for an unpartisan comment!


  36. All the MT coverage leaves me with a very strong feeling that she is remembered as having come in with a helluva mess to sort out (following a Labour Government period), and that she succeeded, albeit with a lot of protest; what she did was not universally popuilar at the time but looked at from more of a historical perspective she fought her way out of trouble very boldly.

    When you compare those times with the present day, you can see DC in a similar situation and I think the coverage of the last week has made one more sympathetic to his predicament. This could help Conservative VI. Or else you could take the view that the present lot are total muppets/pigmies compared with her shining example, and that could steer you towards UKIP VI as Farage would hope.

    Either way, bad news I think for the left.

  37. AW – would it be too much trouble to add UKIP to the ‘very stable polls’ the UKPR polling average? It’d be interesting to see their trend, especially when the election nears and we can decipher whether or not they are a real force to be reckoned with or just a protest vote.

  38. David –

    Beta version (so I make no guarantees its not going to spit out something weird) here:

  39. If I say that my opinion is, Labours lead is probably shrinking a bit, Labour supporters will say, ” well the old fool would say that “. However, with all this Baroness Thatcher stuff, the British voter is quite capable of softening on Labour. Especially as the lead was soft to begin with. The Labour discomfort regarding benefits, will not help, but it probably has not sunk in yet with the great unwashed.

  40. PS
    I was very moved to see a member of my old sqn RE, as a pall bearer. I did not serve in the Falklands, but I knew many who did.

  41. “Either way, bad news I think for the left.”

    Except in Scotland, where we are trying to remember exactly why we will never vote for the Tories ever again.

    For some it is just to painful to recall.

    Tommy Sheridan and an independent are speaking at a rally tonight, and the Green/Independent debate group in the parliament sponsor a debate tomorrow on “There is still such a thing as society”

    The Green/Independent group are only five and that’s the left. The SNP are (according to Scottish Voting Compass) as close to the centre as they would wish to be, and all the UK parties are to the right.

    Some of SLAB have outed themselves in the Non-parliamentary Labour for Independence, and they could be regarded as “left” too.

  42. Phil Haines

    In the course of a week Labour have gone from 14% to 7% what trend do you see in that, do you say Labour have lost support or do you say it’s within a margin of error and has no meaning.
    If you think the latter then daily polls are pretty useless and it would be better to review polls with a larger gap between them ,of course if you think the former then daily polls have a point.
    It seems to me that whenever there’s a sudden swing the default position is it’s within the margin of error and therefore has little meaning if that is so spotting a trend over a week is not possible, which brings me back to my original point that a bigger gap between polls for yougov would put them in balance with other pollsters and give a more even picture of unfolding polls.

  43. I do expect Labour’s lead to close in the short-term.

    This past week has been Mrs Thatcher’s greatest hits replayed over and over. The effect will be to strengthen wavering Tories a little.

    However, David Cameron’s troubles – principally the economy – look like not showing any good news soon. The golden glow of basking in Maggie’s victories will soon fade as current economic stories take over the news. Once this begins, I think a steady 10 point gap is likely.

    I think Labour’s lead is soft, and will remain so until the public think they have an economic plan.

  44. Lab VI hasn’t fallen that much but Tory VI has increased slightly.

    We’ll have to wait and see whether this is a MT effect or something longer lasting.

    My own view is that the Tories are benefiting from reduced media exposure, and that when business returns to normal so will the polldrums.

  45. turk what was the labour lead before the 14% one? Did they suddenly go from,say 10 to 14? Was that a sudden strange increase in popularity of labour? I doubt it. Its all within moe.
    If the sun tweets tonight another small lead then it looks like there has been a narrowing of the lead. Too many people get excited on all sides of politics over one or two polls. It could be a start of a tory recovery but with no boundary changes its still going to be difficult for them to get an overall majority .

  46. The 35% thing originated with Dan Hodges and Benedict Brogan at the
    Telegraph and one can hardly imagine them being confidantes of EM.Treat
    With caution,at times Hodges hatred of EM makes him seem almost deranged.
    There is one event coming up that will be pleasing ,perhaps more to right wing
    Voters,namely the Royal baby.The thought of the hullabaloo that will surround
    This event makes me feel faint in anticipation.

  47. Egan-jones has downgraded Germany, there were rumors earlier and that was supposed to be behind the big fall in markets today but I found it difficult to believe, remains to seen whether the bigger rating agencies follow suit but as always rating are suspect

  48. @Turk
    The statistic that is more meaningful is that the 14% stands in splendid isolation from what went before and after it over a very short period. Labour can’t lose support that it hasn’t gained in the first place. Its lead has been around 10%-11% over the five day average for some time now.

    What’s important now is not the 7% in isolation but that it followed a low(ish) 8%, so at the moment these are hinting at a slight poll movement of a % point or two, which we could probably all agree on if we had a third one tonight at that level or below.

    The collective evidence is much stronger than polls in isolation, which is why frequent polls are good because you can view them as a set.

  49. @John B Dick

    There are very few Labour members (literally a handful) in the group called “Labour for independence”. Their leader is no longer a member, (period of membership of Labour – less than 2 years), some of the others left the party a long time ago – while on most days they are out campaigning, they seem to require the support of a lot of SNP activists and even councillors.

  50. @Rich
    Sorry to disagree, but if he still wants to be viewed as following a different path to Thatcher, David “we’re all Thatcherites now” Cameron seems to have done a pretty poor job of dispelling such notions over this last week.

    Perhaps no cooincidence then that AW’s mate Andrew Cooper departed as Cameron’s Director of Strategy this week, reportedly on the back of differences with Lynton Crosby over precisely this question.

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