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. Perhaps the only way the Conservatives will get anywhere near 38-40% of the mark will be 2 years into a Labour Government – lol – thats the circle of Politics

  2. I see it all as a bit desperate from the Sun. If the Tories cannot get a lead from what is should have been the equivalent of a double\triple conference bounce. Then I am not suprised they are changing strategy.

  3. With the qualification that todays poll might be an outlier and I am going to wait until Sunday before I will be confident that there is no bounce.

  4. LEFTY

    THanks for your further thoughts..

    AW teaches us that political opinion i a function of perception-so even if we had cast iron facts they might not be politically relevant.

    I just think that however much Balls tries to convince people that more debt , on a trajectory of rising debt ( because of deficits) leads to to higher growth & less debt-however many academic papers he quotes-people intuitively think that can’t be right.

    Equally, and despite studies like the one I linked to, GO will find come under increasing pressure to sprinkle some of that magic dust called “infrastructure spending” -even if that means switching more resources from Revenue spend to Capital spend.

    With the lead times we have left before the GE though, the best GO can hope for now is that his pro-growth initiatives to date will be seen to work -and the best EB can hope for is that the evidence is slim/ absent-and people accept his alternative as worth a vote.

  5. @COUPER

    Why should the Tories have a poll lead ? Cuts, cruelty to the sick and lame, a flat line economy, I could say, no wonder Labour has a lead.
    However, the above mentioned Labour lead is as soft as soufflé, so do not build your little hopes up to high.

  6. A few posts ago I argued that in order to win in 2015 Labour need a “Big Idea” that those who want to see a Left win can campaign for.

    All we have so far is a “One Nation” notion which is as vague as Cameron’s “Big Society” concept. Unless the two Ed’s start to flesh this out the obvious softness of the Labour lead will periodically reveal itself in VI as other factors are brought to bear.

    Blair was right to warn that Labour cannot coast to victory on a Con/LD cock-up period up to polling day in 2015 – for one thing the Cons themselves won’t just let this happen. When I suggested Labour need a “Big Idea” some posters on here argued that Labour didn’t need it – that drifting to victory is good because it doesn’t allow anyone to pick you apart in the run up – besides which no promises can be made, because very little can be done!! That to me sounds like accepting Cameron’s TINA, but hoping office will just plop into the two Eds laps because the govt just drift into losing in 2015.

    IMO that strategy is crazy – Labour will either lose, or if they do win, they will have five years of nudge and tinker with no direction followed by a resounding defeat and a hard-right moneraist majority in 2020.

    Surely, like the Citizens Payment idea (yes Colin, it needs lots of refinement!) and others “Big Ideas” are possible on the “Spirit Level” GINI aim front, in re-distributing wealth that IS there now – without altering the overall deficit levels.

    I am sure there are many on the moderate Left desperate for something to latch on to and campaign for – but all we have to date is well-meaning platitudes and drift – come on the two Eds before it is too late!!!!

    For if they do nothing I suspect we will probably see VI with a comforatble but very soft Labour lead of 10’ish, probably steady until New Year 2015 – then narrow sharply in the run-up to the GE – and then its anybody’s guess!

  7. Scotland on Sunday internet voodoo “poll” 18th April

    Is it ever morally acceptable to celebrate someone’s death?

    Yes 22%; No78%

  8. Okay I’m not an economist but some things seem to me self-evident.

    First, in a country with control over its own currency, there is no risk of default. This makes the UK situation from say Greece.

    Second, contrarily, if the UK prints money to service its debts indefinitely the resulting inflation would push the value of money down, which you can argur is another form of default and will make borrowing harder/more expensive. Assuming you believe the idea that “Money Markets” think logically.

    So it is clear that 90% is no different to 89% debt as a percentage of GDP. What matters as Bill said earlier is ability to service debts (and inflation).

    It appears to me that the current UK policy is to print as much money as it can without creating hyper-inflation or spooking the aforementioned “money markets” whatever they are. That seems to be working quite well.

    Except that we have no growth. Why? Well all demand is being sucked out of the economy by a mixture of talking up Austerity (creating lack of confidence) and cutting public services. But cutting public services is not helping with creating demand, it is not really making much difference to the QE activity …what’s it for?

    Well two things. One, to appease “Money Markets” because the accepted wisdom (with rapidly vanishing evidence base) says it is a good idea. Second, linked to the first, is that small Government ideology says it will work. Those two things are really the same as small Government economists are the same beasts as small Government politicians. Same obviously with beasts of the other colour.

    So here’s the thing, rightly or wrongly, the austerity “policy” will only stop when the accepted wisdom is that it hasn’t/isn’t/won’t work and then stimulus will start. In some ways polling charts that movement but it may be that public opinion is less important than opinion in these mythical “Money Markets” and it may be there are vested interests and factors involved.

    But one thing seems certain, sooner or later if austerity doesn’t work public opinion will demand an alternative, and public opinion will be angry.

  9. “without altering the overall deficit levels.”

    I should have added – “….reduction strategies” after the word levels.

  10. Labour should copy Blair in 1997 with the 5 pledges. I think TB actually suggested something like this. They need to start to roll it out maybe this time next year.

    The pledges will have to be very clearly worked out, and costed so they can’t be ripped apart. They are trailling a few things at the moment so imaging Immigratio, tax rates and contribution based benefits might be things they are thinking about.

    @ROLAND HAINES
    It is more proof that the lead is not soft as if it was I would expect the soft ones would be destering Labour at the moment. It looks like Labour have locked in abot 38% which will give them an OM.

  11. Oh my God, two pages of discussion on debt and growth and still folk don’t get that private debt is more important than public debt and that any strategy to reduce public debt by increasing private debt is doomed to fail.

  12. @MARK JOHNSON
    “Perhaps the only way the Conservatives will get anywhere near 38-40% of the mark will be 2 years into a Labour Government – lol – thats the circle of Politics”

    ———————

    Lol, is this more of that wishful thinking? They didn’t even get that after THIRTEEN years of Labour, and Brown, and the banking crash.

  13. NICKP

    @”Well all demand is being sucked out of the economy by a mixture of talking up Austerity (creating lack of confidence) and cutting public services. ”

    Just so we don’t stray too far from the actual ONS numbers –

    For the years 2010, 2011 & 2012 ONS ” Service Industries ” category has grown by 1.1%, 1.2% & 1.0 % respectively.

    This sector’s weighting is 77% of the UK economy.

    By contrast “Construction” GDP ( weighted at 6.8% of the UK economy) has changed over those years by +7.9% , +2.6%, & -8.2% respectively.

    “Production”, the second biggest sector in the UK economy-weighted at 15.6% has changed by +2.1% , -0.7% & -2.4% respectively.
    THe two biggest contributors to negative growth in this sector have been “Manufacturing”-+3.8% / +2.0% / -1.8% ( for 10% of the economy)………..and “Gas Extraction & Mining” -4.3% / /14.5% /-10.1% ( for 2.4% of the economy)

    So-nearly 80% of the economy has grown every year since the GE at around 1% pa-whilst the balance has been badly hit by downturns in Construction ( last year) ; Manufacturing ( last year) ; and North Sea Gas ( all three years).

  14. hmmm

    A service based economy would do a lot better than 1% if people either had money to spend, confifence in their jobs or both.

  15. TONY DEAN

    @”Surely, like the Citizens Payment idea (yes Colin, it needs lots of refinement!) and others “Big Ideas” are possible on the “Spirit Level” GINI aim front, in re-distributing wealth that IS there now – without altering the overall deficit levels.”

    It sure does.

    If you want to get out of this hole by redistributing “Wealth”-do try to remember not to treat it as continuing income for the recipient-otherwise they will get upset when the “wealth” has been spent.

    If you want to redistribute “Income” -do try to remember how many distributors there are compared with distributees. THe former WILL react if earning more seems without point.

    I think Mr Hollande has been looking into this phenomenon.

  16. @Lefty

    Yep, when it comes to wishful thinking, expansionary contraction has to be right up there.

    We discussed before how the postwar experience, in which debt peaked at 250% of GDP yet we had years of growth and prosperity, rather undermined the 90% cliff thing.

    Colin asks about causation, and it’s not hard to see why.

    Tories commonly treat debt as just an expense.

    So we keep seeing people here and elsewhere throwing in the soundbite “You can’t get out of a debt crisis by taking on more debt! !!!”

    Which is rubbish. Firstly because we weren’t in a crisis, we just had a difficulty. We had debt more than three times as bad after the war and still did OK.

    Secondly because. .. debt can be a very useful way to increase your income. Taking on debt is the way many people, businesses and countries grow rich.

  17. @Carfrew – maybe but you know what – for all that was said about MT she obtained well over 40% of the popular vote three times in a row! -Fact!

    And yes we all know times are different and politics has changed – but MT changed it forever.

    Ah those were the days my friend I thought they’d never end -lol

  18. @ John B Dick and RIN

    Interesting comments re NHS and EU competition law.

    Here in Gloucestershire local opposition forced the NHS to retain services in-house which the local management wanted to contract to a not-for-profit organisation set up for that purpose. The NHS management insisted that competition law forced them into this as the only alternative to open tendering, until a judicial review established this to be false. It now appears that the new legislation will have exactly the effect that NHS management originally claimed. Yet when the judicial review forced proper local consultation on the NHS trust it showed overwhelming support for keeping provision in-house.

    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]

  19. “”By challenging prevailing orthodoxies, having the courage to defy the old consensus and define a new political position, and championing changes, Miliband has all the ingredients necessary to bake the cake. … I think it’s time to put it in the oven and see if it rises.” – Maurice Glasman,”

    Guardian.

    Great- we’re going to have a Bake-Off.

    Baking doesn’t get tougher than this !

  20. @Mark

    Well you have my partial agreement on that, though you are rather changing the subject.

    I’ve said myself in the past on here how MT changed politics. So did Blair actually. .. on the identity politics thing. Could you imagine Thatcher’s government of Section28 backing gay marriage?

    So did Attlee. .. and that’s where I differ with you. .. you can’t necessarily say it’s all forever…

  21. Sometimes taking on more debt is about the only way open to you if you have debt difficulties.

    Let’s say you have a deficit. Something bad happens, maybe not your fault, and your expenditure now exceeds your income. As a result you start accumulating debt.

    OK, so you may think you’ll make cuts to bring expenditure back in balance with income.

    So you start cutting frivolities. But if things are quite bad you may find that you still haven’t cleared the deficit. Now you have to consider cutting more essential things, but it doesn’t work. You cut your car to save money but it hits your income because you can’t get to work. Or you cut back on food and fall ill etc.

    At this point you realise cuts will no longer work and you have to increase your income. Let’s say you take on more debt that lets you go on a course that lets you get a big promotion that ups your income significantly, more than enough to cover the debt costs and with money left over to clear the original deficit.

    That is win-win. It makes sense to take on more debt. Because crucially, it isn’t just a cost but an investment. That’s what we did after the war. Borrowed alot but invested it and hence reaped the rewards, despite being heavily in debt already as the war ended.

    Labour ran a deficit after the banking crash but invested more of it so as to get growth. Thus you get something for the money. .. growth increased income via tax and lowered welfare costs which gradually will improve your situation. Currently we are running a deficit but with no growth hence it isn’t improving our situation as the debt piles up.

    Companies often take on debt and invest in a recession. .. it’s a good time to do it when supplies and labour are cheaper. In the end, it is true that rising debt is a concern as your interest costs go up. That’s one factor in causation. But if you invest the money properly then the increase in income will more than offset the debt costs and you wind up better off overall.

    Provided you borrow long term at low rates which we can because of being a sovereign currency.

  22. Mike Smithson tweeting:

    Ipsos-MORI April poll has CON 29, LAB 38, LD 10, UKIP 15 – the latter being the highest share ever for the party in a phone poll

  23. Nick P,

    In a country with a floating exchange rate and an independent central bank, there is no relationship between demand and fiscal policy. This is because, as far as the monetary policy is concerned, the government is just another part of the economy and so any positive effect on demand would have to be offset either by cutting back on QE or (if necessary) raising interest rates.

    There are a number of factors inhibiting growth of real output (as opposed to demand, which is nominal rather than real) such as bank recapitalisation drying up the credit market for new business, the weakness of the global economy, and poor performance from the banks/North Sea Oil.

    The only way to expand demand would be to change the Bank of England’s mandate e.g. to a nominal GDP target or a higher inflation target. Ed Balls doesn’t want to do that, but does want to expand demand, which means that there is literally no respected model of the economy in which Labour’s macroeconomic policy is even coherent, let alone a good idea.

    Similarly, raising indirect taxes in an inflation-targeting regime is a very bad idea, because (even with “flexible” inflation targeting) they limit the scope for central bank stimulus to offset supply-side problems. So there isn’t a model of the economy in which the 2010 emergency budget was a good idea either.

    From a purely macroeconomic POV, both the Tories and Labour should support a move to a NGDP target. Both stimulus and austerity (and even Labour have to think about how they’re going to pull off austerity in the next parliament) require a better monetary policy system. Indeed, the lessons of history tell us that austerity works best with sound monetary policy.

    (I favour austerity, but only on the grounds of principle- “ideology” is the conjugation of this irregular noun for those who disagree with me- that I want public spending to be cut in a very large number of areas.)

  24. RiN,

    Totally agree. Public debt has to go up so private debt can go down.

    Hard to convince the public, though it seems to be happening whatever anybody says.

    Has anyone (except professional economists) said in public that the deficit is a good thing?

  25. Shoot the messenger.

  26. Watching the Daily Politics Today

    You Gov figures up 7% Labour lead !

    Which it isn’t!

  27. I guess it depends exactly when the survey took place but we are surely in Thatcher territory here. It will be another few weeks before we can see whether this is a statistical quirk or part of a Conservative bounce-back.

  28. “There are a number of factors inhibiting growth of real output (as opposed to demand, which is nominal rather than real) such as bank recapitalisation drying up the credit market for new business, the weakness of the global economy, and poor performance from the banks/North Sea Oil.”

    ————

    Yes, many houses of cards are built upon this stuff. Doesn’t work though. Because while it’s true these poor conditions pertained, Labour rapidly got us back to 2% growth. These conditions do not warrant austerity etc.

  29. STEVE
    “Watching the Daily Politics Today
    You Gov figures up 7% Labour lead !
    Which it isn’t!”

    Doubtless this will be repeated tonight on This Week.

    Andrew Neil tweeted earlier :

    “Are there cracks in Ed Miliband’s leadership? We’ll have a #bbctw film from @DPJHodges & he’ll debate with @afneil @smithjj62 & #ChooChoo”

    Mmmm, Neil, Portillo, Smith & Hodges – that will be balanced then….not !

  30. I wonder how Andrew Neil will spin it – maybe he wll use the ICM|Guardian poll.

    -From the evidence of the DP AN will ignore it and use the one before!

  31. Carfrew,

    That it was Labour who got us back to growth in late 2009/early 2010 is exactly what is at issue, so if “it doesn’t work”, you haven’t said why…

  32. Been thinking about this “35% strategy” thing. Because when Mitt Romney made that comment about the 47%, it didn’t exactly play well for him in the election. One presumes thus may not have gone unnoticed…

    So is this the strategy now, to try and label Miliband as only being concerned about the 35%?

    Desperate times and measures I suppose. One might even call it wishful. ..

  33. @Bill

    The limitations on demand and growth are being overstated, that’s why. Yes banks are being a bit rubbish, global economy is weak etc. but it is still possible to get back to growth as Labour proved.

    Current policy makes things worse by quenching demand as opposed to Labour’s policy.

  34. Carfrew,

    If you’re right, then I’m wrong, but I see no reason to think that you’re right.

    Neither current fiscal policy nor Labour’s policy have any effect on demand, defined as net nominal expenditure on final goods. That’s not an opinion- it’s simply how New Keynesian models of the economy work.

  35. The Ipsos-MORI poll fieldwork was 13-15 April so mid-end of what we can call the Thatcher period.

    The 2% increase for the Tories was from a record low last month so it’s really the UKIP figures that are eye-catching if anything.

    Still time for a delayed effect as is often the case but I’d still be inclined to talk of a steady Labour lead of 10% until we see something consistently saying otherwise and there’s not much time now before the local elections muddies the national election waters further for a while.

  36. In Thatcher’s era, the Tories were the party of aspiration. What happened to that? One has to consider the possibility that one reason for VI disappointment is that the current government are offering little in that regard.It’s just austerity extending ever further inti the future. Why do they seem to see it as all so hopeless?

    Meanwhile…We can’t have industry any more apparently because we are just a nation of shopkeepers. We can’t expect to compete because of the far east. How is that a compelling message?

    Is there any recent polling on the aspiration thing?

  37. As an Arsenal supporter must say I have been impressed with Chelsea last few games: they were unlucky against Man City and are coping well with loads of games.

    Re Labour’s “35%” strategy, it is amazing how little difference it makes whether something is true or not in politics: it just gets passed on as though it is.

  38. @bill

    You can try and define the problem away, but the reality is that if there is more demand people tend to buy more and business invest more resulting in growth. And Labour proved that in current conditions we can have growth.

  39. Just noticed the recent poll. With regards Scotland’s crossbreak…

    Generally speaking, a stronger and more influential Trade Union movement would be a good thing for Britain – 41%

    Generally speaking, a stronger and more influential Trade Union movement would be a bad thing for Britain – 33%

    Don’t know – 26%

    That in itself makes a case against independence if one is not minded to give the unions more power. Interestingly, in Scotland there’s greater support for keeping the nuclear deterrent than I would have imagined with 44% for, 39% against, and 17% DKs.

    The UK seems in favour of central government for local issues 30% local, 60% central, and 10% DK (with Scotland showing significant support at 67%, 19%, 14% respectively).

    All in all, looking at the splits, Scotland is more left-wing than the rest of country (as usual). If nothing else, it confirms the theory that an independent Scotland will be Labour, Labour-max or Labour-lite. Not sure how the deterrent issue will be solved though. I doubt that one will be put to the people in a referendum.

  40. Typo, the local government data should be 19%, 67% and 14% respectively. Scotland favours central government for local issues.

  41. Carfrew: We can’t have industry any more apparently because we are just a nation of shopkeepers. We can’t expect to compete because of the far east

    Who said all that?

  42. People on here, Steve. And to be fair, elsewhere too.

  43. Carfrew,

    I’m not disputing that more demand would result in more growth, but rather that the current UK institutional arrangements imply any relation between fiscal policy and demand. The WHOLE POINT of what Brown did in 1997 was to tie the hands of the government, such that demand-management was determined by the Bank of England rather than the Chancellor.

  44. How soft IS the Labour lead?

    People keep asserting that- Roland and Tony just on this page- and there are intuitive reasons to think it might be. Oppositions come under heavier scrutiny closer to an election and Labour has an uncharismatic Leader/Chancellor pair and a policy vacuum.

    But it’s not at all clear to me that the polling backs that up. If you look at the cross-breaks from all the recent polling, what’s striking about them is that the vast bulk of the new Labour voters since 2010 are ex-Lib Dems. There are few Tory defectors, and in the samples where 2010 – Other is an option, only a handful of defectors from other parties. The current Labour vote share basically consists of people who voted Labour in 2010 and disgruntled Lib Dems.

    The overall VI figures over time they seem to support this. Labour hovers in the 38-42 range from autumn 2010 on. Around the end of August 2010 there seems to be inflection point where some of the Lib Dems who were giving the coalition a chance give up and defect to Labour- Lib Dem VI dips from 14-16 to 10-12 at that point and never recovers, and Labour VI goes up to the lower bound of its current range.

    For that number to fall substantially below ~38%, then, one of two things has to happen. People who were willing to vote Labour in 2010 have to refuse to do so in 2015, or the Lib Dem defectors have to change their minds and either go back to the Lib Dems or vote Green, Ukip, Nats, etc. I’m sure some of them will, but frankly I can’t see the Lib Dems giving them much incentive to come back into the fold, and from the large number of Lib Dem -> Other / non-voting defectors already showing up in the polling I suspect the people who can’t hold their nose and vote Labour are already registering that view.

    The Tory numbers will obviously recover somewhat when Ukippers and non-voting defectors come back at the general election and that will narrow the lead, but is that really enough to change the outcome of the election? If Labour gets 38% the Tories need to tie them even to deny them an overall majority.

  45. @ Richard iN

    Not simply private debt, it is the debt in the financial sector that is really worrying. Providing that there is growth (and also that the interest rates don’t go through the roof), the increasing leveraging of firms is not an issue. Unlike most Anglo-Saxon experts, I don’t have any problem with financing growth with debt (rather than equity). Household debt could be an issue but with lagging real wages it will remain as it is (minor reductions/minor increases), so it is the only constant in the model…

  46. BILL PATRICK
    Carfrew,
    “I’m not disputing that more demand would result in more growth, but rather that the current UK institutional arrangements imply any relation between fiscal policy and demand. The WHOLE POINT of what Brown did in 1997 was to tie the hands of the government, such that demand-management was determined by the Bank of England rather than the Chancellor.”

    ————————-

    But Bill, the elephant in the room is that despite those “institutional arrangements”, Labour proved we could get back to growth. So clearly they are not the impediment you claim.

    We had growth, aausterity choked it off. That is the impediment.

  47. SPEARMINT

    @”How soft IS the Labour lead?”

    As soft ( or as hard ) as the determination of LibDem 2010 voters who have defected to labour, to stay defected.

    That is the guts of it.

  48. LASZLO

    @” (and also that the interest rates don’t go through the roof)”

    A very big proviso for a country which has QE induced low interest rates, and an inevitable trajectory of increased debt servicing costs from deficit increments alone.

    That “roof” is artificially low at present.

    So you proviso is well made .

  49. @Couper2802

    You mean a pledge card like this?
    http://labourlist.org/2013/04/labour-launches-pledge-card/

    I think the problem is it was launched last Monday, and overtaken by events…

  50. “That is the guts of it.”

    ————

    Pretty much.

    So what will shift them? Economic revival is unlikely as we had growth when Labour left office. And many had issues withcuts and fairness. Brown is no longer a factor. How do you get past this?

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