Friday round up

This morning’s daily YouGov poll for the Sun had topline voting intention figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%. Full tabs are here. YouGov also repeated their own question on who would make the best Chancellor, and found Osborne only narrowly ahead of Ed Balls, 28% for Osborne, 26% for Balls. This, I hasten to add, isn’t really any different from the picture MORI showed earlier in the week. Considering both polls have a margin of error of around about 3 points, the truth is a small lead either way doesn’t matter: both companies show Osborne and Balls pretty evenly matched in terms of public preferences.

YouGov also asked about the proposed cap on benefit spending, and found 57% thought a cap on benefits should NOT include pensions. As one might expect, the group most opposed was over 60s, though technically they are a group that probably be unaffected, given Labour have said they would honour the triple lock on pensions, and any savings there might instead come from changing the retirement age – however, as is so often the case, its not so much the facts of policies that determine people’s opinions as broad impressions, not least because most will be unaware of the facts.

Earlier today Populus also released the results of their weekly open-ended question on what news stories people have spotted. Questions like this are most interesting not when they show people picking up a story, but for the way they underline how few people pay attention to other stories. It’s been a relatively quiet news week, so even what I suppose count as the biggest political stories were hardly noticed at all. The most spotted story was actually the riots in Turkey, which 10% of people mentioned. The story about the NSA accessing data on emails and phone calls was recalled by just 6% of people.

Labour’s cap on the cost of benefits was not in the top ten stories people had noticed, implying less than 2% of people mentioned it. The fieldwork was done at the end of the week, so the weekend announcement was already a few days ago, but it still underlines just why what parties say and do often matters so little in terms of voting intention. Things don’t make much of a difference, because no one is listening. That exaggerates its unimportance a little of course, as the policy foundations that parties sent down now will determine the battlegrounds closer to the election when people are paying at least a little more attention, but never forget that most of what goes on in politics completely bypasses the general public. So yes, people don’t want a benefit cap to include pensions, but do most people know that the parties are proposing a total cap on benefits? Probably not. Did most people realise that Labour were proposing to include pensions in a cap? Probably not.

119 Responses to “Friday round up”

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  1. Sixth

  2. @richard in norway – fpt

    The EU was concerned about commercial espionage well before 9/11:


  3. @ RiN

    It could be argued that national security includes economic security & therefore government intervention in this area is justified.

  4. Anthony,

    A good reminder of what matters. Politicians often think what they say is listened to more than it is.

    I remember hearing Diane Abbot talking about going round the poorest part of her constituency and saying people weren’t going vote Labour because they would put up their taxes. She kept having to remind them that they didn’t pay tax!

    The perception they had was out of kilter with the reality, but it was hard to budge.

    One reason I think that events in Turkey rate highly is that their were some great pictures. It’s a bit like Farage in Edinburgh it was a political non event but it made great news.

    I wouldn’t want to minimise the need for Rail safety but as far more people die on the roads and trains are safer I do wonder if it is the spectacular nature or rail accidents, plus there rarity that moves rail saftey up the agenda.

    I wonder if anyone has done any research on how visual imagery helps a story, be it bill boards or photo opportunities. We all know it must but bu how much.

    Maybe that’s why politicians keep turning up at factories to bore people and stop them doing any work… A picture paints a thousand words.


  5. Answers to people’s questions about DKs and churn in the last thread (Sorry to keep reposting these, but if we’re going to discuss it we might as well look at the data. All graphs are of 5-poll rolling averages from YouGov.):

    DKs and NV since January:

    They bump up, they bump down, but the only long-term shift since the beginning of the year has come from the 2010 Lib Dems, some of whom have transferred from DK to Ukip. There has been a recent uptick in DKs from all three parties which probably comes from their voters leaving Ukip- it will be interesting to see if it persists.


    Lib Dem:

    Labour’s Ukip problem is really additive. They’re losing a few of their own 2010 voters to Ukip, but they’re also losing a bunch of 2010 Lib Dems, and more from the reallocated Lib Dem DKs. When you put it all together it’s enough to shave 2-3% off their VI even though the vast majority of Ukip voters still come from the Tories.

  6. Peter Cairns,

    “She kept having to remind them that they didn’t pay tax!”

    Except that everyone does.


    Quite an interesting article. I don’t know anything about Stern, so I can’t whether he has any particular bias, but I found his take on how ‘the establishment’ views Ed M as interesting.

    Elsewhere in the Telegraph there are reports that China is bracing for a possible financial crisis. They are watching events in Brazil nervously, in the anticipation that the withdrawing of the US stimulus will lead to capital flight from China as well in due course, resulting in another debt crisis in their highly over exposed financial sector.

    Oddly enough, they now see their huge emergency expansionary policies post crash as a mistake that has left them very vulnerable, but it was these self same policies that came to the west’s rescue and kept our exporters alive.

    There really does still seem to be a long way to go in this crisis until we can safely say it’s over.

  8. Obviously time is running out for the Tories, as every month that ticks by without a major shift means their chances in 2015 diminish, but if you take YG figures in isolation (for a consistent look at the overall trend) the 7 point deficit is actually not at all bad.

    Between mid November and mid April every single YouGov (and there were a lot) showed a larger deficit than that. Since April there have been several 7 pointers. A lot of that is down to the rise of UKIP support meaning that both Tory and Labour scoresare depressed (and so the 7 point gap is, as a proportion of their overall support, a wider margin). Back in November, the 7 point leads Labour had usually consisted of L42 C35, so a smaller relative lead than now. But I’d still say that the Tories have weathered the storm reasonably well, considering that the whole world (including themselves) think they are rudderless and divided, and the economic situation has been worse than their worst fears.

    Labour must feel like a Premier league football team in a cup match against Champions league underdogs, who are 1-0 up, with the clock ticking down, but can’t quite manage to get in the killing blow and have an uneasy feeling about the last 10 minutes of the game.

  9. I don’t know Stefan, but isn’t he just saying what I’ve been saying for nearly two years?

  10. There is one arena where the wheels may finally come off the Tory car. A third-place finish in the European elections (a not unreasonable expectation) may well be the boiling point for many anti-Cameron Tories.

  11. @JIM JAM
    “Carfew – not close enough for an OM but doing enough to make it close for most votes between them and cons and probably being largest party as things stand.
    Almost 2 years to go though of course.”


    Yep, two years, but the thesis from some appears to be that an opposition needs to be at least 20 points ahead at SOME point, to have a chance of re-election once protest votes and mid-term blues unwind, plus pre-election freebies etc.

    So does anyone know the closest Labour have been at any point from any of the polls, when stripping out these reallocations etc.? (not weightings, obviously)

  12. Amber

    Yes indeed, economic spying could be said to be in the national security interest of the country doing it but it’s being done to us amongst others, is it in our economic security interest to cut out American tech firms, this is a question which is being asked in Germany now but not here, where despite much experience with America stealing our secrets we still think they are the good guys

  13. NEIL A
    “Obviously time is running out for the Tories, as every month that ticks by without a major shift means their chances in 2015 diminish, but if you take YG figures in isolation (for a consistent look at the overall trend) the 7 point deficit is actually not at all bad.”


    But that is the lead after reallocations and stuff, which offset things like mid-term blues, returning protest votes etc….

  14. On the news thing. There is way too much news to keep track of these days. But also, people may not spot headlines, but stuff may filter through gradually from others over time. Headlines impact some, and then they gradually filter it through to others.

    Though I dunno how we gauge the impact of this…

  15. @Neil A

    I think some of the bigger leads were due to Con leaking to UKIP, and now we have had some Lab to UKIP, while Con core vote has stayed.

    In short, both parties have voters that see the EU / immigration as high on their priority.

  16. Labour weren’t necessarily as fingered for the deficit when they left office as they are now. But it’s not like we had headlines a year after they left office suddenly screaming about the deficit Labour left…

  17. Good summary Anthony, thanks. Seems that both the current chancellor and the shadow chancellor are both not particularly popular. I think that’s a reasonably safe impartial statement to make. Ironically it doesn’t look like either party are willing to change. Are they both missing a trick?

  18. Neil A

    “The whole world including themselves think they are rudderless.”

    Slight over exaggeration don’t you think as the UK is quite respected round the world at least amongst our friends and I believe although I could be wrong that only one or a couple of polls show DC’s rating below that of his party and one of them was from his arch enemy LA.
    But even if that comment was right, what are we to make of EM and Labour.

    I remember only to well the endless talk of Labour landslides last year on these and other pages, now it’s Labour could win by a few seats or in coalition.

    The polls in recent weeks have shown the difference is down to a few points with nearly two years to go before a general election, so really as you say the Tories are doing pretty well under DC all things considered the only caveat I would concede is the Tory party has the endless ability to shoot itself in the foot so it could all change.

    However some people on the left don’t want to face it but it’s possible Labours failer to rise above the now 8-9 % mark is people simply have not taken to EM, his personal showing in polls is dismal for an opposition leader.

    Of course if on the run up to the next election the Labour VI is 8% and above the negative perception of EM will not come into play that much, but if were in NK territory of a 3-4% lead things could be different, the Tories won that 1992 election not because the public liked Major the grey man , its just that they liked Kinnock even less, which put them off taking a chance with Labour and went with better the devil you know.

    Unlike when TB was elected leader after the sad death of JS. Labour never looked back, he came over as a young charismatic leader that even an old cynic like me thought at the time if we had to lose to Labour then a Labour party lead by TB wasn’t such a bad thing (Oh hind sight is a wonderful thing).
    The point is that decission to elect TB was absolutely right because although it’s true Labour would have won anyway after 18 years of Tory rule, the difference was TB outshone JM in every respect, and delivered Labour not just a victory but a landslide victory.

  19. Turk – NK did not really have winning leads once Thatcher went , the polls methodology was wrong hence all the changes afterwards.
    Us LP members on the ground knew this but thought stopping a con OM was possible and we came close.

  20. Turk, you may be overlooking that EM’s current ‘unpopularity’ is already factored into the Lab VI. Of course, it may will get worse (or better)..but so could DC’s ‘popularity’.

    I’ve never subscribed to the idea that Lab should be 20 points or so ahead at this stage…simply because a lot of baggage was left over from the 13 years of Lab government.

  21. @Mike N,,

    “Turk, you may be overlooking that EM’s current ‘unpopularity’ is already factored into the Lab VI. Of course, it may will get worse (or better)..but so could DC’s ‘popularity’. ”

    It may…it may not. Nobody really knows.

    I have never subscribed to the idea that opposition party Y should be Z% ahead half way through parliament (or thereabouts). Nobody really knows what a ‘good lead’ in the polls is….until perhaps after a GE, anyway.

    All we can say at this stage is that Labour still has a significant lead across all pollsters…and that Ed is not popular with the British public, but for the moment at least, his personal unpopularity would still lead to a big Labour majority.

  22. @Carfrew

    “Labour weren’t necessarily as fingered for the deficit when they left office as they are now.”

    I agree entirely. It’s an object lesson in the need to robustly defend a defensible position week in week out in the face of a relentless theme from your opponents, if you’re not to cede the argument by default. Labour had supposedly learnt this lesson in the wake of the 1992 election defeat (ignoring rather than rebutting misleading claims over Smith’s alternative budget), but it seems to have forgotten it once again.

  23. @ Statgeek,

    I agree- most of what we’re seeing in the narrowing lead is that Tories were early Ukip adopters and Labour and ex-Lib Dems are late ones. Before Eastleigh virtually all the Ukip voters were ex-Tories, but afterward Labour and ex-Lib Dems began drifting over to Ukip as well. Even though Tories were still defecting the change disproportionately hurt Labour.

    I think this may actually be good news for Labour’s electoral prospects, in that Ukip is absorbing a lot of the protest voters who would normally register support for the Opposition but return to their own party at the general election. That’s where the missing 20 point lead has gone. You could make a convincing case that this means Labour have failed as an opposition, but if I’m right then the lead they do have is relatively solid and should hold up fairly well in 2015.

    It would be remarkable if Labour were to manage a landslide immediately after their 2010 defeat. To put this in perspective, if they were to win 38% of the vote it would mean Ed Miliband had achieved a greater swing than Tony Blair, and it still wouldn’t be enough to give Labour a landslide victory unless the Tories were polling under 30%, worse than they did in 1997. Despite Ed’s many sterling qualities and the Government’s various failings, this seems unlikely.

  24. TURK

    @”(Oh hind sight is a wonderful thing).”

    Ah yes !

  25. If Ed Miliband wins a majority in 2015 after a defeat in 2010, he will have pulled off a feat unseen since Margaret Thatcher did it in 1979. Impressive achievement, whatever you think of the politics.

  26. Good Afternoon All.

    Good news for the Cons, I think, is that their Lib Dem friends have high VI in the polls, with many declared voters really going to vote Con in 23 months time.

  27. Mr Nameless
    After this latest YG poll he’s sitting on a 80 -90 overall majority. Even if you fantasise and it comes all the way down to nil (how exactly?) , he’s got the opportunity of the Lib Dems (and perhaps others). It’s a long, long way from here to the slightest chance of Con being in any future government.

    ‘Come on Argies, do your stuff’ (dreams the PM). Something of that order, you never know.

  28. @Mr. Nameless,

    And for much the same reasons.

    @ Chris Lane,

    Um. 10% is high VI?

  29. Nick P

    Aye, but he’s getting paid for it.

  30. Howard

    Oh, I’m not doubting he’ll do it. I’m actually expressing the fact that for all the negative press he gets, he’s been a remarkably effective Labour leader. Getting Len McCluskey and Dan Hodges to agree on something is to be applauded.

  31. @Carfrew
    “Labour weren’t necessarily as fingered for the deficit when they left office as they are now.”


  32. @mrnameless,

    I disagree. In conditions perfect for a left wing opposition, he has been remarkably uninspiring outside Labour’s core support.

  33. But, following the loss of a Labour government, he has done what Michael Foot and Hugh Gaitskell could not and kept the party from splintering into divided factions in the way the Tories have.

    While there may be some jostling between, say, the Socialist Campaign Group and Progress, it’s the job of a Labour leader in opposition to raise the prospects of the party to a point where they could feasibly form a government. In that respect he has so far succeeded.

    2010 was an election at which it for a while looked possible that Labour could be beaten into third place in vote share. To spring back by 10%+ of VI is an impressive feat for any party.


    Given the large number of people who would be directly affected, could this be the sort of thing that may shift VI? I have no real idea in what ways, and the chance of it ever coming to fruition in the next ten years is probably roughly 0.


    @”To spring back by 10%+ of VI is an impressive feat for any party.”

    Aren’t you forgetting the free gift from NC included in that 10%?

    EM didn’t have to do anything to add that 6% pts or so to his VI.

  36. @Spearmint
    ‘To put this in perspective, if they were to win 38% of the vote it would mean Ed Miliband had achieved a greater swing than Tony Blair’

    I am not quite sure what you are saying here. If Labour increases its vote share to 38% in 2015 it would represent a rise of 8.3% compared with 2010. To calculate ‘swing’ ,however, we would also need to know what happens to the Tory vote. If the Tories poll – say – 30%, giving a Labour lead of 8%, it would imply a ‘swing’ from 2010 of 7.6%. In 1997 the swing to Labour was almost 11%.

  37. @Turk

    “I remember only to well the endless talk of Labour landslides last year on these and other pages, now it’s Labour could win by a few seats or in coalition”

    Definitely some truth in that. I still think Labour landslide is most likely outcome (I’d define that as anything over about 60 seat majority) but I am more nervous on that prediction than I was last year. Mainly because of the 37 showing as average in AW’s poll of polls above. The 37 is only really 2 points above the base line that was the 29 they got and 6 from ‘Liberal’ Lib-Dems who I feel are in the bag for Lab as they moved to Labour simply on the basis of the Lib Dems going into coalition with the Tories even before much in the way of policy had been set out. Clearly 35 is not enough for a landslide unless UKIP poll at 15% plus.

    I think the point you make about Kinnock though is not that relevant. We had 13 years of Tory rule at that stage and many beginning to forget what a Labour government looked like. There were a lot of scare stories about Labour and they scared some potential voters.This time they do remember and may not be so scared at the prospect of Lab coming back.

  38. I think Labour would be doing far better under DM, but I can see the angle that a lot of traditional Labour supporters didnt want another centre ground candidate. EM isn’t Foot or Kinnock, he has a far better chance than them, but he isn’t uniting yet like Blair was early on.

    @spearmint, I don’t understand your note at all. By any stretch of the imagination, no polls have shown EM will get anywhere near the swing that TB initially got from the Tories.

  39. @Shevii

    “This time they do remember and may not be so scared at the prospect of Lab coming back.”

    No, I’m not getting the logic of that. :)

  40. A lot of Lab supporters, particularly those I’ve spoken to, prefer Ed Miliband to David Miliband for a couple of reasons:

    First, they dislike centrist candidates. The party membership, but also much of its voter base, is to the left of the leadership, which the leaders quite rightly try to balance out to some degree. They feel however that Progress candidates focus too much on Tory voters, with a ‘you’ve got nowhere else to go’ mentality to the socialists.

    Secondly, they sort of want an anti-Thatcher. They feel that a huge majority under DM would be worth less than a moderate majority under EM because under EM might at least begin to inch the national consciousness leftwards.

    That part is where I disagree with some commentators like Owen Jones, because they think that by having a properly leftist candidate, they’ll differentiate themselves from the unpopular Tory government and sweep to victory.

    Unfortunately, that won’t work. What needs to happen is a candidate that can lay out their principles (see Ed’s Big Tent speech) while still accepting the concerns of the public on some issues too.

    Ideological purity is a dangerous thing to strive for. Simply put, one has to ask oneself this: would it be better to have a candidate elected who agrees with you on half the issues or one who loses but agrees with you on them all?

    I would hope the answer is fairly obvious.

    Ed Miliband is also a smart choice for attracting former Lib Dems, due to his fairly liberal stances on social issues and PR, as well as his opposition to Iraq.

    Contrary to the above assertion, it was never dead certain that Lib Dems would flock to Labour. Many could have stayed and the SLF would be having a little bit of influence on policy still, or they could have gone to the Greens, or they could have founded another SDP. All would have been viable options (and I do wonder what the political landscape would be like if the Greens were polling as well as UKIP are) so it’s still wise for Labour not to get complacent and assume they’ll get the Lib Dem vote either way.

  41. @mrnameless,

    That’s all well and good, but if so, why did individual rank and file Labour members vote for DM? It was the union vote that tipped the balance for EM remember.

  42. David Miliband was much more well known than the other candidates and, let’s be honest, is slightly more charismatic (if no less odd looking).

    Also bear in mind that the union vote is not a block vote as it used to be – Union members vote individually, as do party members. Out of the two top candidates, they happened to choose the more leftward one, which was their choice and right to do.

    People like to talk about the unions electing Ed as if they cheated, when Union members can and do pay their dues and thus help choose candidates.

    Thirdly, the election was held under AV, meaning that Ed Miliband was the more preferred candidate, however you want to spin it.

  43. Also, I’ve checked on the figures and the constituency party members voted 52-48% for Ed Miliband. It was the PLP which would have swung it for David, so the majority view among the members was that Ed would make the better leader.

  44. Apologies, I did get that wrong. That was an opinion poll, my mistake.

  45. The official figures are on the Labour party’s website here:

  46. @MeNameless,

    Just out of interest would you still prefer EM even if the 2015 GE result was a slender Lab majority of, say, less than 20 seats, or a slender Lab-Lib coalition majority?

  47. i.e. a Lab government that was unlikely to last the full 5 years.

  48. *Not saying that is likely to be the case BTW. Just interested in how far left-leaning Labour supporters would go to get a more left-wing leader.

  49. @MrNameless
    ‘it was never dead certain that Lib Dems would flock to Labour’

    I rather disagree there. Left of centre .voters who had switched to the LibDems in 2005 over Iraq et al were pretty well certain to go back ‘home’ once Clegg jumped into bed with the Tories.Most of them are likely to have voted Labour for much of their adult lives despite supporting the LDs in 2005 and 2010 and would cease to see the latter as an attractive option the moment they facilitated a right of centre government.

  50. Well I’m not as left as some supporters (I’d call myself a pragmatic socialist), but I would say yes I would. For one thing, a government with a small majority can still effect radical change (see Thatcher ’79).

    Besides that, I think party politics is about striking a balance between electoral credibility with the wider population and ideological agreement with the party’s supporters.

    If the situation is that either Miliband could have won in 2015, it would logically be better to have the more left-wing one because then both criteria are fulfilled. The public have accepted them and the party’s supporters are also placated.

    When it comes to coalitions, I like the idea of them and wish that we’d moved to a more proportional system so that they came into being more often.

    My logic is this – most Labour supporters have a great deal in common with Green and Liberal Democrat voters, so it makes little sense for them to fight one another when they’re all parties that are traditionally left-of-centre.

    This makes me rather unusual among Labour supporters, which is unfortunate, but it’s a realistic prediction that the next election may result in coalition and we have to be prepared for that. The Lib Dems and Greens are rivals, not enemies – we can learn to work together.

    Ed Miliband is not tainted by torture or tuition fees in the way Blair and David Miliband were. He can work with Liberal Democrats (though they’ll probably need to ditch Clegg) and as such I think he’s the best leader in the current climate.

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