The fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer has topline figures of CON 29%(+1), LAB 35%(-3), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 17(+1). I am always extremely cautious about reading movements into polls – more often than not they turn out to be no more than the result of random movement within the normal margin of error – however we do seem to be seeing a consistent trend. YouGov’s dailing polling for the Sun which normally shows Labour leads of around 10 points has produced leads of 7, 8, 11 and 7 this week, Ipsos MORI showed Labour’s lead dropping by four points, ICM by two points and now Opinium by four points.

Just as I’d advise caution in deciding whether or not there is a change in the polls, one should be equally cautious in assuming what the cause might be. Don’t just leap at the most apparent story in the news! Clearly one obvious explanation would be the coverage of the Thatcher funeral, but it doesn’t follow that this is automatically the cause (if it is, of course, then I would expect any narrowing to be very short lived. A bit of positive TV coverage of a leader from long ago is probably not going to lead to any long term shift).


217 Responses to “Opinium/Observer – CON 29, LAB 35, LD 8, UKIP 17”

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  1. Em, given the outrageous hula balue (please correct spelling) of the dear leaders funeral a 4 point narrowing of the polls is a horrible result for the Tories, really considering the fawning coverage the should have taken a temporary poll lead

  2. Might I suggest it’s a result in more questions being asked of Labour shadows, and a sometimes callous nature among Labour backbenchers? It may be short lived, but Miliband and Balls have been found wanting when asked policy questions, and appear to be in a real mess.

  3. Not sure why Labour would be dropping without seeing the Tories gaining as a result. If it were related to Labours reluctance to accept changes to benefits, I would expect the Tories to gain.

    Perhaps some of the people who previously gave a VI for Labour, are now not sure of who they would vote for.

    Has the upcoming local elections focused peoples minds, with literature coming through their doors not inspiring them.

  4. I see the weighted polling average has been updated (thanks AW).

    I suppose it says something about the state of play that as a government supporter I am actually relieved that the projected Labour majority has dipped back under 100….

  5. Seems to me that the drop if it is a drop isn’t associated with a positive for Conservatives. My candidate for the drop is every time Labour shows a surge in a poll, which happened last week, internal boo birds talk down Miliband’s leadership. I think the drop if it is a drop most likely reflects uncertainty among Labourites due to the recent Blairite attack on Ed Miliband.

  6. @R Huckle,

    My hunch is that it is probably something to do with the benefits debate. I suspect that people don’t particularly believe that the Coalition is on the right track, but Labour being forced to come out and “defend” benefit claimants probably reinforces some negative stereotypes that put certain classes of swing voter off them.

    @Richard,

    I am not so sure about any Thatch Effect. I am not so sure the perhaps over-respectful media treatment really has that much of an impact. Again, I think any effect may be of the negative stereotype variety. The candescently angry northern Socialists (and their trendy North London cousins) may have inadvertently done more harm than the apologists, by reminding centrist voters of the blood red beating heart of the Labour Movement that is normally out of sight, out of mind.

    Ironic that the interviews included “for balance” may actually have been worse news for Ed M than the hagiography.

    For what it’s worth I thought pretty much all the main players did a very good job throughout the hullaballoo. Ed M certainly let himself get wrong-footed.

  7. Err, that should be Ed M certaintly didn’t let himself get wrong-footed..

  8. I seem to recall, with regard to the rise and rise of UKIP, that the Greens got 15% or 16% in the Euroelection in 1989 was it? and at the next general election, maybe 1%? I don’t think this will be UKIP’s fate next time, but they may do well at the local elections. But in 2015, bet their share will be in single figures.

  9. Oi, no posh people on ere, only plebs allowed, take yer knighthood elsewhere

    Lol, only kidding

  10. @”But in 2015, bet their share will be in single figures.”

    Well if that comes from the source stated-it is worth taking note of.

    Mainly by Conservative supporters one might suggest.

  11. One of the interesting things about that last YouGov Poll for me was the movement in the supplementary “which party is……” questions.

    They were :-
    ( Con/Lab)

    The kind of society it wants is broadly the kind of society I want:-+2 -1 ( to 29/28)

    It is led by people of real ability :– +2 -3 ( to 20/14)

    Its leaders are prepared to take tough and unpopular decisions
    +2 -1 ( to 50/10)

    It seems to chop and change all the time: you can never be quite sure what it stands for:

    -2 +2 ( to 23/24)

    I don’t see any conceivable Thatcher effect here.

    Seems to me more like a bit of a reappraisal all round.

    My guess-resulting from the welfare benefit change implementation-notably Con’s stance & Labour’s response.

  12. On the poll [and I do hope Sir Bob doesn’t nick my analysis] I think it should worry the Tories most that they are hardly making a flicker upwards, despite a lot of recent coverage. I am always amazed at the knee jerk reaction to a party simply being featured in the news a lot: it often leads to a rise even if the coverage is relatively neautral.

    Labour should also be concerned but have had limited coverage recently apart from the perceived/actual criticism from Blair etc. Perhaps they should take a lesson from Gordon Brown and keep quiet; they know the media well enough to know their remarks won’t be reported as “helpful, supportive comments.”

  13. Anthony Webb – that seems unlikely (whether people think Labour spokesmen are doing well or badly in interviews is rather subjective… but there is no obvious sign that whether they are doing well or badly has changed this week, and neither does what they do or say in such interviews really get enough coverage or attention to make any difference).

    If there are reasons other than Thatcher, the most obvious candidates are what RHuckle and John Dyer have said – the coverage of welfare changes (though it seems a bit delayed) or noises off from Labour.

  14. If Sir Bob is correct then , all other things being equal, this poll could translate to a GE result of 37/35/8/9

    I can’t see Cons worrying about that .

  15. Well I have received 2 leaflets so far, one last week and one this week; both leaflets from the same party… UKIP

    The county council is a Conservative dominated area, which might be why we normally never get leaflets from any party, the problem being the candidate canvassing our area with these leaflets will not be on our voting slips different area altogether, I don’t even think we are adjoining areas either…

    But just seeing UKIP leaflet might make a difference for tactical or disgruntled voters who knows…

    Funny though..

  16. its interesting that the Tories position has hardened but not actually increased, are Labour now seeing some of their vote also drifting to UKIP, AW should now be altering his prediction programme to include UKIP!

  17. Labour’s slight recent drop could be due to Ukip’s increased prominence. Kippers seem to fall into two categories- disaffected reactioniaries and generic protest voters. It may be that some of the latter category have drifted away from Labour because they see a plausible ‘non-establishment’ option. Recent YouGov polls seem to back this up. Labour used to get 40% of the 2010 Lib Dem vote, but lately this has fallen to 30-odd%.

  18. @Paulcroft

    You’re certainly right about the comments made by Blair and his acolytes. They are not impalas on the savannah. They know how the press works and knew their remarks would make the party look much more divided than it actually is.

    Still, the effect of their helpful little interventions will be to further marginalise them in the party. That is fine by me.

  19. On political betting they have this.

    A factor driving Ukip in the national polls. Their supporters are much more likely to say “100% certain to vote”

    If that is the case as pollsters adjust by likelyhood then that would account for UKIP’s rise.

    I don’t know how AW could adjust his swingometer to account for UKIP, as they don’t have any seats and hardly showed at the next GE, but at 17% they have to be accommodated somehow.

  20. I think we are still in Thatcher bounce territory. Three of the four recent sub-10 leads had women supporting the Cons more than men, and the fourth evens, all of which is unusual over the past year. The average has been 2% in favour of men.

    I put this down to the Thatcher coverage and we have to wait till next week to see if it goes away.

    It will be interesting to see the Opinium tables.

  21. Colin

    When the mood of the country changes, it does so in ways which don’t map onto logical outcomes to the sort of questions you have considered.

    Consider. The Fslklands had a transformative effect on UK public opinion. In particular, people’s opinion of Michael Foot.

    Taking in the poll immediately after the Falklands victory, the following changes were recorded in voters’ perception of Foot:

    Too Narrow Minded. Up from 12% to 24%
    Capable: Down from 18% to 9%
    Down to Earth: Down from 23% to 16%
    Inexperienced (!):Up from 9% to 17%

    A similar thing happened with Kinnock after the Militant Tendency speech in 85. His “Inexperienced” mark went down by a third in a month!

    Seems to me that if there is a change of mood, looking for the reasons in detailed “what do you think about politician/party X’s characteristics on something specific” is pointless. So I see now reason why the apparent narrowing of the Lab lead is not a Thatcher effect.

  22. @Colin

    You make the error of deciding that if the UKIP vote declines, the Conservative vote must increase by the same amount. This is obviously untrue, because you can look at the history of polling and see that rises in UKIP vote share have not always been mirrored by falls in Conservative vote share.

    During a campaign, the UKIP vote may well evaporate, without favouring any other party. Because the voters will be returning to habit of not voting, or voting Conservative in Conservative safe seats. It’s not good for the Conservatives if UKIP eat into their votes in marginals, but they weren’t doing very well in those marginals before the UKIP rise anyway.

    It’s akin to claiming the ship isn’t sinking, it’s just someone left all the baths running in the cabins. If the ship was sinking *before* the baths overflowed with water, it’s not the fault of the plumbing.

    I also note that Nate Silver had an article in Thursday’s Evening Standard – http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/nate-silver-barack-obamas-lesson-for-david-cameron-and-ed-miliband–beware-the-polls-8578326.html

    It may make for uncomfortable reading for those who have been assuring themselves that the polling now doesn’t mean anything.

  23. I wonder if its because voters now expect some policy from Labour rather than just protest?
    Also, I think some of the way some Labour MPs behaved in relation to Mrs Thatchers funeral will turn off some voters. If all labour MPs had followed EMs speech and behaviour, I think it would have been better for the party IMHO.

  24. Could be because the local elections are just round the corner???

  25. RICH, I very much agree with your view here. I also think that the lack of any substantial philosophy from Labour which voters understand may be hurting Labour.

    I also think that the Conservatives will pick up votes from the putative UKIP and Lib Dem voters seen in the Opinium figures, with UKIP and Lib Dems losing about half of these ‘voters’ in two years, and a bit, time.

  26. At the end of the day (apart from it going dark!) shouldn’t the Labour lead really be much larger than it is at this point in the Political circle and especially during a very difficult time for the Government on many fronts?

  27. Anthony Wells ( if you’re still online ) ,

    Which method of polling does Opinium use ?

  28. Average YouGov Labour lead over the fortnight: 9.6%

    That is a 0.1% increase on the ave Labour lead three months ago, a 0. 7% fall since a month ago, a 0.9% drop on the average a couple of months ago. There has over the last year been a very, very gradual increase in the Labour lead, often with a fall-back before the next advance. Recently the ave Lab lead occassionally nudged over the 11% mark… still to early to say whether it is now going into decline.

    No evidence that UKIP are eating into the Labour vote… the proportions remain relatively static: for every ten votes UKIP gains, seven come from the Tories, two from LD, one comes from Labour.

    Not much sign of a recovery in the recent Tory VI slump. A slight up-tick for LD – a halt their decline anyway, and a confidence boost from Eastleigh and some local byelections. A sustained surge from UKIP. Undoubtedly Lab VI has seen dip from 40s/low mid 40s. Some centre ground floating voters drifting back to Con or LD to make up for losses elsewhere. The fact remains that while this latest churn has been going on Labour have not made any further headway with the undecideds.

  29. @Billy Bob and others,

    The Labour lead has been very stable over the past year or two at around 10 or 11%. It may have dipped very slightly in the last week or so (still too early to say though IMO), but I find it remarkable that the Labour lead has been consistently in the 9-11% range for a long time now.

    All indications are that 2015 may well be a close election.

  30. Maybe it’s the MT effect that’s seen the recent poll changes in which case Labour will be back to 10% very soon and we will know that was the reason.

    Or maybe the voters have begun to think Labours attack on welfare changes is out of step with public opinion and they find any alternative welfare policy from Labour to be sadly lacking again we will see in the next few weeks.

    There is a slight expectation in the Labour ranks that the next GE will fall into there laps and thay have to do precious little as regards policy because the coalition has had to take all the difficult decisions and the flack that goes with it in very bad economic times all within the frame work of the first peace time coalition for generations.

    However the other thing that comes to mind is that matter of trust, people get use to the conditions around them fairly quickly, including austerity, as long as it doesn’t effect them to much it becomes something to moan at rather than a life changing event, we will see if they are willing to take a chance with Labour in particular with EB to sort out the countries problems which probably will be much the same as they are now come next election. Of course he could make things better, but if things are begining to get better. all be it very slowly, will they want to take a chance on radical proposals or more likely proposals which mirror what the coalition is doing already with a few minor twists.

    Finally all parties have to realise is the media, face book, twitter and all those other things I don’t understand have become very powerful and important tools and thay effect public opinion very quickly so the days you could coast to victory by playing your cards close to your chest have gone, if you say nothing these days, it just makes you look like you’ve got nothing to say.

  31. I think perhaps people that don’t pay much attention but say Labour out of habit, saw Milliband in the party election broadcast this week and [ahem… reacted negatively – AW]

  32. Welfare is turning out to be Labour’s achilles heel . They began the process under Brown by appointing ATOS to get the disabled and unwell back into work , now they use these reforms to beat the Government whilst refusing to confirm whether or not they would abandon the new criteria for judging whether people are fit for work or eligible for disabilty benefits .

    The media and the Blairites are beginning to ask questions of Miliband’s policies , the publc are aware no definite answers are forthcoming .

    There’s an election in 2 years and it’s been 5 years since the beginning of the economic crisis . The large percentage ,of voters who are concerned about debt and blame the Brown Government for it will expect answers – thus Labour either hitting a ceiling between 37 – 40 % or beginning to lose support .

  33. Paul AW tends to let these little remarks slip through.

  34. Paul

  35. This really is quite an interesting polling period, in my view. Tories remain dead on their feet – at or below their lower level. Several polls still show them sub 30%, yet the pressure is on Labour.

    I think this is probably partly Thatcher driven, but also partly welfare issues. I’m not sure how detailed welfare debates themselves are responsible, but I think the questions about what Labour’s policy would be are becoming more difficult to avoid.

    I suspect we are likely to see a bit of bouncing around, and quite possibly a widening of the lead again, but there is no question that each time we get into a cycle of inspecting Labour, the pressure to get more detailed on policy will mount. @Rob Sheffield always identified the point where detailed policies are announced as a key danger point for Ed, and I think he is correct.

    The time is getting closer when we need to see the results of Labour’s policy work – not necessarily in detail, but certainly in principle, and the process of moving from an opposition to a potential party of government is the most challenging time for any political party.

  36. LEFTY

    @” So I see now reason why the apparent narrowing of the Lab lead is not a Thatcher effect.”

    I disagree.

    I see no logic for it & stick to approval of “someone actually doing something” about welfare. ( not a political comment-a view of public reaction)

  37. JAblanc

    @”ou make the error of deciding that if the UKIP vote declines, the Conservative vote must increase by the same amount. ”

    It was Ball Park for illustrative purposes-I understand your point.

    I gave them Sir Bob’ “max” of 9-it could be less.

  38. Could the government boost simply be due to the fact they haven’t made a mess of anything for a few weeks now?

    At one point they got into Brown Territory, where every week there is some scandal or shambles that harms the gov. We haven’t had anything like that for a few weeks now, so are people just slipping back a little?

    I have no doubt Labour will win in 2015, but I think it will be much closer than the current polls reflect. Maybe Lab 37% Cons 35 but Lab still getting a majority due to the electoral boundaries.

  39. After hearing endless comments about Thatcher ‘only’ got 42-43% of the vote, it wasn’t a majority of the voting public etc etc, then I fail to see how if Labour polled and won with circa 37-38%, they could take the county left.

  40. Nat Silver says: “Nick Clegg in 2010: the Lib-Dem bandwagon stalled. Meanwhile Labour supporters tended to come home later in the campaign. I’m not sure the Lib-Dems are going to make a comeback at any point in the future.”

    That might be true from looking at polls during the campaign, but IpsosMORI asked people when they decided how to vote:

    Pre-campaign: Con 62%, Lab 71%, LD 36%
    In the first week: Con 5%, Lab 3%, LD 5%.
    About halfway: Con 10%, Lab 5%, LD 18%.
    Final week: Con 11%, Lab 10%, LD 20%
    Last 24 hours: Con 12%, Lab 10%, LD 21%.

    That was a retrospective question, but they have also been asking similar questions throughout campaigns since 1983.

    Generally a decline over the years in the number of people who know how they will vote beforehand. In every election this has favoured LD more than either Con or Lab (LD always starts the campaign with a smaller proportion of committed voters) – part of this may be for tactical reasons – part may also be down to a renewed prominence of an appeal to those disillusioned with “the same old choice between two tired old parties”.

    With a large pool of voters who are certain to vote at a general election, but undecided about which way they will vote – a substantial UKIP vote can’t be entirely ruled out: unless Con nails it down with a pact beforehand.

  41. If I maybe so bold I noticed out on the doors about two weeks ago a solidfibg in the tory vote (not a swing) and from febuary when the response was this (insert yor expletive) govt there is now far more yes I will be voting conservatove. I am not in anyway suggesting this is scientific but there is a different feel at the coalface now.

  42. UKIP maintain a chunk of their voters haven’t voted for 20 years and more . They therefore don’t have strong foundations for a General Election , given polling respondents propensity to fib about their likelihood to vote and the ability of Conservative ties to pull people back when they realize their splitting the vote .

  43. Watching the Italian coalition debacle, you have to wonder how the British public would have reacted to an Italian style drama

  44. should be ” they’re splitting the vote “

  45. Liz
    Sorry for the delay in replying,busy gardening today.The ground elder and I are
    Fighting a battle to the death.One of us must go.I wish that I could share your
    Optimism ,It all seems a bit negative at the moment.

  46. And what does Nate Silver know about UK politics?

    Does he want to overstate his certainty on our electoral races as well?

    Lib Dems have a 99.99% chance to win Eastleigh in 2015!!!

  47. Labour need to start facing up to the fact that they might be losing support to UKIP.

  48. “Labour need to start facing up to the fact that they might be losing support to UKIP”.

    And doing what?

  49. RogerR

    Oh well, he must just make an exception for me then.

    Which is nice.

  50. And adjust their policy so that they can counter UKIP, such as doing something about the effects their immigration policy has on the working class people they are supposed to be fighting for.

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