This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times polls is now online here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 29%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%. The eleven point Labour lead is at the high end of YouGov’s recent results so could be a sign of the infighting over Europe reversing the recent picture of narrowing Labour leads… or could equally well just be normal variation within the standard margin of error.

Last night I grumbled about the problems with polls purporting to show what issues affect people’s voting intentions. YouGov have asked it in a way that gets round one of those problems, that of giving a single issue false prominence, by asking people to pick from a list of all sorts of issues. Same-sex marriage remains an issue that only a small minority (7%) pick out as one that will affect their vote, and by 58% to 42% those people say they would be more likely to vote for a party that supported gay marriage. More people, 28%, say that Europe is one of the three or four issues they think would affect their vote at the next election, with most of them saying they would be more likely to vote for a party that promised a referendum.

Even asked this way strong caveats still apply – people still are not very good at understanding the motivations of their own decisions, and people still really don’t vote on individual policies or policy areas. They vote on broad perceptions of party, of competence and of the leaders. Individual issues play into those perceptions of course (does this party consider the same issues to be important as I do? Do they have similar values and beliefs?) but so do things like strength and weakness, competence, unity and so on.

It also gives the opportunity to point out something else that, while I think is beginning to get through to the commentariat and politicians, still needs to be repeated whenever possible. Only 49% of UKIP voters named the issue of Europe. In other words, 51% of UKIP voters don’t even consider Europe to be in the top three or four issues that affect their decision. The simplistic view that UKIP support is all about Europe and, by extension, it is policies on Europe that will suddenly win back UKIP voter is just that – simplistic.

Moving on to those wider perceptions of how the Conservative party is seen, only 10% of people now see the party as united, 73% divided. YouGov have been asking the same question since 2003 and this is highest proportion so far seeing the Tories divided, more than under Iain Duncan Smith. The party is not seen as widely divided as Labour was towards the end of Tony Blair’s leadership (6% united) or under Gordon Brown (just 3% united at its worse), but it is certainly in that sort of territory. Also note, however, that while perceptions of division are widely seen as negative they are not necessarily fatal – in 2004 over 60% of people saw Labour as divided but they still won the 2005 election. Personally I think there is some truth in the idea that division drives away voters (constant infighting makes a government look incompetent, and we know perceptions of competence are a key driver of voting intention), but its not as simple as division equals defeat.

A majority (54%) of people continue to support the introduction of gay marriage. Asked if the subject should be decided by a referendum or by Parliament it only narrowly follows my past comment that people support a referendum on absolutely anything you ask about – just 39% think there should be a referendum on gay marrige, compared to 34% who think it should be left to Parliament.

On Europe, referendum voting intention asked using the wording in the Conservative party’s draft bill has 36% of people saying they would vote YES (to stay), 45% saying they would vote NO (to leave). Asked about the Conservative rebellion over the Queens speech people are pretty much evenly split on whether they are more sympathetic towards David Cameron or Conservative MPs (most are sympathetic towards neither!). Conservative voters are far more on David Cameron’s side – 52% are more sympathetic towards Cameron, 19% his rebellious MPs.

490 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 29, LAB 40, LD 9, UKIP 14”

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  1. As support for particular parties becomes ever more regionalised, the headline national percentage share of the vote becomes of decreasing significance in predicting the outcome of elections (including the GE) run on the FPTP system.

    While it is not possible to extrapolate directly from local to general elections, IMO the recent local elections are of significance for the following reasons:
    a) UKIP have become a credible party and established a local government base in selected parts of England (the South Coast and East Anglia/Lincs), giving them a realistic chance of winning parliamentary seats there.
    b) The LDs hung on to most of their council seats in SW England, where they have many of their MPs, indicating that they have a good chance of retaining these seats in 2015.
    c) In the key battlegrounds of the Midlands and North of England (e.g. Staffordshire and Lancashire), the Labour party did not perform as well as it should have done, given the government’s unpopularity, but UKIP is almost irrelevant here. Is the fact that the Labour party is not led by an Englishman (or woman) hurting them?

    Commentators assume that the UKIP is dissipated across the whole of the UK, but the local election results show that it is concentrated in selected areas mostly south and east of the Humber-Severn line. It has limited support in Wales and almost none in Scotland, as Farage’s recent mauling at the hands of xenophobic Scottish nationalists, followed by Salmon’s comments on the incident, demonstrated.

    Should there be a byelection in an English constituency before 2015, the outcome will therefore partly depend on where it is. Tory prospects in Lancashire are likely to be far brighter than in Somerset or Fenland. We saw how the LDs retained their Eastleigh seat despite their massive national unpopularity.

    BTW, why do the polls still not elicit voter views of the UKIP party leader as well as those of the other 3 main UK parties?


    “Is the fact that the Labour party is not led by an Englishman (or woman) hurting them?”

    ????? Do you mean because his parents were Polish?

  3. ‘Is the fact that the Labour party is not led by an Englishman (or woman) hurting them?’

    What do you mean Labour is not lead by an Englishman. The last time I looked London was in England.

  4. Also the fact that their previous four leaders were a Welshman and three Scots.

  5. This is looking like the worse time for the Tories as a party since about 1995, when they were again totally divided on Europe.

    I made tbe point the other day, that many of the unity problems experienced by large political parties, is the lack of democracy. The Tories do not appear to vote on any policies their leadership want to follow. Labour and Lib Dems have votes at conference, but these are not always followed by the party.

    Why don’t the Tories have a vote on EU membership within their party in say a years time, which then becomes the parties policy. If this is to have a EU referendum campaigning to leave, then they will get back most UKIP votes and they may gain a majority in a May 2015 election. Obviously they may lose some pro EU Tories, but I doubt these would defect to Labour or Lib Dems.

    Labour/Lib Dems could do the same and I would think there would be a pro-EU majority.

    The 2015 election would then be mostly about the UK’s EU membership. This is going to happen anyway, but at least the position of the parties would be clear. Cameron currently wants to campaign to stay in the EU based on successful renegotiation, but this is not supported by half of his party. You then have the look of a split party, with some MP’s willing to do deals with UKIP. Labour and Lib Dems currently support the UK’s existing EU membership basis and a referendum only if there is a new treaty. Labour/Lib Dems will be under pressure to change to offer a referendum, which might be difficult to dodge.

  6. Back in 74/75 the vote for coming out of the EEC at the start of the campaign was 67% to 33% out, the result of the referendum 67% to 33% in. so that majority for out is quite small today, the don’t knows are also in the 20%’s on the the day I’m quite sure the don’t knows will support the in, added to that many who say out will get nervous the nearer the referendum, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar result to ’75.

  7. I see mention is being made of a by-election I think there will be one coming up sooner than we think, probably in Lancashire.

  8. @R Huckle

    “Why don’t the Tories have a vote on EU membership within their party in say a years time, which then becomes the parties policy.”

    I don’t think this has much to do with party policy. It’s a case of some of the MPs and party faithful getting nervous as the election approaches, and looking for alternatives. They were generally united prior to 2010, and became less so with the coalition, as they didn’t have the strength to push through their ways of thinking.

    Now as 2015 looms they could be looking seven years before they get their ways of thinking (dating to pre-2010) through parliament. More than ten years, or 25 years if you add in the Blair era.

  9. DC has started to be linked to the “swivel-eyed” comments, this from the telegraph

    “A profile of Mr Cameron in theFinancial Times last year reported he had used a similar phrase, and “tells colleagues that anyone who wants to talk to him about the EU is ‘swivel-eyed'”.”

    This is going to be a drop drip story with journalists looking to find ways to give the impression that DC holds these views of the rank and file

  10. Where’s ole Denise for her in-depth analysis of the polls when we need her?

    Re the referendum I do wonder what will happen to Tory/UKIP tendency when/if there is one and the country votes pretty solidly to stay in.

    In terms of policy popularity and FPTP, too many politicians forget, when they talk about “voices on the doorstep” and what “the country” is saying, is that we have a democracy where nearly two thirds of the elecorate who voted didn’t vote for the government of the day and those who didn’t vote at all are generally completely cynical/disinterested in all politics.

    To put it another way, finding someone who agrees with you is bleedin’ easy but it doesn’t indicate that everybody does – which is what they will discover when there is a EU referendum.

    Anyway, I wonder what there raison d’etre will be then?

  11. “their”

  12. @ David

    In 1975 Wilson basically lied to the people and said he’d renegotiated and that we were just joining a Common Market.

    Clearly every treaty has been aimed at closer and closer political union since then which the 1972 European Communities Act enshrined.

    When conviction politicians from opposite sides of the political landscape like Tony Benn and Magaret Thatcher are singing from the same hymn sheet then you need to take a long hard look at what has really been going on.

    Whether you are personally pro-EU or anti-EU, the public was clearly sold a pup.

    This is only going to fester the longer it is left unresolved.

  13. Arithmetic Oh Wilson that lied there was me thinking that the PM who took us into the EEC was someone called Edward Heath and he just happened to be a Tory.

    Well at least Heath didn’t lie, he was quite open about his intentions:-

    We have said that as Members of the enlarged Community we would play our full part in the progress towards economic and monetary union’ HofC 10 june 1971.

    So much for the Tory myth that we’d only joined a trading block.

  14. @daodao

    Ralph Miliband, Edward’s father, is a naturalised British citizen. As a small child he and his family fled to England to escape Nazi persecution of Jews.

    I suggest a whisper campaign on Ed’s parentage, by dropping suggestions on forums and sites like this that he is not really British, would both be reprehensible and libel to back fire on those who try it.

  15. @ DAODAO

    “Is the fact that the Labour party is not led by an Englishman (or woman) hurting them?”
    You might want to check what the word “fact” actually means.

  16. jay

    It also has a very nasty American/Obama side to it that one doesn’t expect here in the UK [apologies to US readers]

  17. Its official, “Tories united”

  18. @ Jayblanc

    I must admit i did not understand what daodao was getting at either, It would be sad if people did bring parentage into it.

  19. arith

    “Whether you are personally pro-EU or anti-EU, the public was clearly sold a pup.”

    What have you got against pups?

  20. simon

    “Its official, “Tories united” ”

    Yes, I read that earlier and it cheered me up no end – following all the news stories, leader writers, articles etc I had worried that they were squabbling about something.


  21. @Paulcroft, Bluebob, Amber

    It’s also why UKIP polling figures are probably not going to be sustainable in the long term. Because they don’t understand that they’re not “the voice of the silent majority”, they just picked up some support from those disaffected over one or other thing they disagree with the government over. The problem with basing your party on social conservatism as UKIP are now doing, is they’ll everyone will find at least one of UKIPs policies and public comments offensive. And that’s before this kind of whispering campaign.

    (It’s also kind of silly that Farage even uses the term “silent majority”, it displays a historical ignorance of who popularised the term and what implications it has.)

  22. @ to recent commenters on my previous post.

    Rightly or wrongly, the whole tone of current political debate is about foreign interference/take-over, whether it is the economy, Europe or immigration. The ConDem government is perceived as failing in dealing with these issues. I am not a supporter of UKIP, but was merely asking the question (which was not the principal point of my post) whether the main UK opposition party is handicapped in this xenophobic climate in being led by someone with a foreign ethnic background, as support for EM seems to be lukewarm compared to that for Blair in 1995. Contrast Alex Salmond’s popularity in Scotland.

  23. Thatcher campaigned for the pro side in the 1975 referendum, she may have been increasingly sceptical later but I don’t believe she ever advocated leaving

  24. “Rightly or wrongly, the whole tone of current political debate is about foreign interference/take-over, whether it is the economy, Europe or immigration.”

    The Gospel According To Linton Crosby.

  25. Daodao

    Right. Can you expand on what you mean by “foreign ethnic background”?

    Take my example.

    My mother is the daughter of Irish immigrants who came to work in the pits. My family name is an Old French word, derived from Italian meaning “one from Germany”. Am I married to a woman whose father was Italian.

    My kids. Are they sufficiently “Ethnically British” for you? And if not, can you tell me how many generations they need to pass on their genes here before their descendants would be magically purged of their foreignness?

  26. It would be sad if people did bring parentage into it.
    No it wouldn’t. People’s heritage can play an important part in the way they interact with the rest of society; Ed M is the first to admit that his family background matters to him & to Labour’s potential voters.

  27. @ Nick P

    The Gospel According To Linton Crosby.
    Who is an Australian, I believe.

  28. I think DAODAO could be right here and just proves what everyone has said all along, that the Labour Party would have been better off electing Ed’s brother as leader….

    Oh, hang on a minute…..

  29. “Rightly or wrongly, the whole tone of current political debate is about foreign interference/take-over, whether it is the economy, Europe or immigration”

    Well Tories aren’t just split on the EU and that’s making headlines too, eg from the Beeb:

    Tories attack PM over gay marriage

    “The bill is due to be debated for two days from Monday
    David Cameron’s support for same-sex marriage has made winning the general election “virtually impossible”, Conservative activists have said.”

    However, not to worry, because Hunt is on the case!!

    “But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was an “issue of conscience that is not really about party”.”

    Busy man that Hunt fellow…

  30. It would be nice if ethnic background didn’t matter, but unfortunately, a significant percentage of the population are xenophobic, so it’s best not to supply them with ammunition. If perchance a state is run by a person or persons from a minority ethnic group, when things go wrong or the state is overthrown, the majority take it out on the whole of that ethnic group. The most tragic example (of which EM will be well aware) is the long-term consequence of the short-lived Bavarian Socialist Republic of 1919.

  31. Lefty

    I think Daodao has a point. I have heard people comment on the the candidates for having “foreign names” whilst not even knowing anything about them.

    There are that type out there.

    Whilst I think immigration has been good for the UK and welcome eastern europeans and hold no grudges, there is a limit to the number of people our infrastructure can handle at the moment.

    If governments had improved infrastructure at the same rate of population growth, then maybe UKIP would be less of an issue.

    Then you NIMBY’s. Especially in Tory strongholds.

  32. Must say, I absolutely despair of the Tory Right over the gay marriage issue. Ultimately, this comes down to a matter of principle: either we call a same-sex partnership marriage, or we don’t. There is no definitively right or wrong answer.

    What is ridiculous is the civil war going on the the Conservative Party over this. I don’t mind Tory MPs voting against – there is a long-standing convention of free votes on matters of conscience, which this firmly falls into – but the amount of screaming over how divisive an issue this is and how this tears apart such a dearly-held principle is barmy. Seriously, what’s the worst that can happen if they get outvoted? No-one’s going to be forced to marry anyone, same sex or otherwise, the government has bent over backwards to stop religious organisations being forced into this if they don’t want it, and all of the chewing up of Parliamentary time wouldn’t happen if these backbenchers weren’t insisting on it.

    These back-bench MPs might have a point if there was evidence that same-sex marriage is a vote-loser. There is not. The polls consistently show a majority of the public in favour, but only a small minority are sufficiently bothered either way for it to affect how they vote. If David Cameron was to capitulate to his backbenchers now, when the will of Parliament and the people clearly demands the opposite, you can expect far greater damage to the Tories’ chances of winning the next election.

    Frankly, if gay marriage loses them the next election, it will have been the Tory Right bringing it on themselves.

  33. It feels like the first weekend for ages that the media hasn’t been full of Farage. Is that just my perception? Or has his wee tantrum with the BBC Scotland interviewer made the media question his ‘affable gent’ routine?

  34. Of Course the Media including the various unofficial spokesmen for the Conservative Party on our Sunday Morning News Shows missed this one choosing to headline the Com Res with the headline Labour lead shrinks One instead ,which incidentally I think was the only one not showing an increased Labour Lead.

    Well there’s a shock

    Turning to No 10’s new “Swivel Gate” problems apart from the fact that IMHO it was fair comment it does (allegedly) indicate a lack of Professionalism in the ranks of the Olde Etonian Oxford Chaps.

    Who to believe Two Journalists or One SPAD .

    A tricky one that .

  35. @ Amber Star

    The way that Farage was treated in Scotland will only have enhanced his support in England.

  36. Good Afternoon All.
    Like you- my parents also had Irish parents who came to south Wales.

    The ‘foreign’ jib is very nasty if they are using it.

  37. Immigration is being blamed on a lot of issues politicians aren’t solving. Like housing, schools, roads, jobs etc.

  38. Because YouGov produces a new poll most days there is a natural tendency to regard their figures as a benchmark. However, speaking from a UKIP-biased viewpoint, I think it is underestimating current UKIP support by about 4%.

    At its current level of support UKIP stands a very good chance of unseating John Bercow in Buckingham. Also give the non-uniformity of voting patterns at a GE it also seem to have a fighting chance of picking up a handful of seats along the East Coast, in spite of what Electoral Calculus might predict!

  39. Monday and Tuesday will be two days of debate on Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

    Against the polling evidence, Conservative Activists think they need to oppose same sex marriage to be electable.

    Conservative Backbenchers will have been riled up by the “swivelled-eyed-loon” (I understand it’s not a loon at all, but a kind of coot), and have been given a free vote.

    Hours and hours of Conservative MPs wanting to prove their social conservative credentials, all on live TV.

    I think I should get some popcorn.

  40. @ Amber Star
    The way that Farage was treated in Scotland will only have enhanced his support in England.

    -In a Straw Poll of One

    My Dear Old Mum who is a Scot but lives in England alond with 800,000 other Scot’s and who voted UKIP at the last election (well She is in Her 80’s) has promised never to vote for the “festering wee beasties” again.

  41. @ David

    You’ll get no arguments from me about Heath, who must rank as one of the most dismal failures as a PM we’ve ever had.

    My point was the 1975 Referendum was little more than a sham with the public having little idea as to the real intentions of political union.

  42. @Daodao

    Seriously is that the only difference you can spot between Miliband and Blair, and the circumstances in which they became leader?

    That is more akin to racism than xenophobia, and whilst polling has shown the public are non too friendly to current immigration I’ve yet to see any polling evidence they’re racist to such an extent as that!

  43. If people are starting to smear party leaders because their ethnic past isn’t ‘anglo-saxon’ enough, then La Farage might be in trouble.

  44. Arithmetic

    So there was some insidious plot being hatched by European Politicians in 1975 to have a currency Union 25 Years later!

    I thought a week was long in Politics

  45. When, recently, was the UK governed be Jews descended from Poland to be ‘taking it out’ on Miliband? Any evidence recent events have made Farage more popular in England? You seem to just be spouting your prejudices, tbh.

  46. @Simon

    None of those concerns represent xenophobia, or highlight a possibility Ed’s ethnicity is a drawback.

  47. @arithmetic

    “When conviction politicians from opposite sides of the political landscape like Tony Benn and Magaret Thatcher are singing from the same hymn sheet then you need to take a long hard look at what has really been going on.”

    Except MT was an enthusiastic supporter of the UK ‘s membership of the EU.

  48. @ DAODAO

    Oh, I ‘get’ it now. You are trying to say Ed is a Jew without actually saying it. And your point boils down to: stop the Jews from ‘self-harming’; look what they ‘did to themselves’ in the past when they got ideas above their station!

    And Labour should pander to such a nasty attitude by choosing a nice, ‘all-English’ leader who the xenophobes will be comfortable voting for? I don’t think so.

  49. Lefty, you certainly ought to be sent back somewhere – just need to figure out where.

  50. STEVE.

    This is the point.
    Yes, the European ‘elites’ did plan a currency union, followed by political union.
    Hugo Young explains this brilliantly in his ‘Blessed Plot’ book.

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