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. @MrNameless,


  2. I think Labour probably have the best candidate that was on offer. It’s possible to imagine a leader much, much better than Ed M but no such person was present and in contention when opportunity knocked.

    I don’t think he’s done particularly well. The wind is very much in the Labour party’s sails, as it was always likely to be with a government locked into a war against economic difficulties and driven to make deep cuts. He seems to have worked hard on his presentational disadvantages, but his greatest achievement so far is to have done nothing particularly wrong. Labour’s recent conversion to welfare cuts and future austerity is an interesting move. It could backfire, but I think it is a necessary adjustment toward the likelihood of a future Labour government and preparation for some of the inevitable steps it will have to take.

    But the idea that Ed M can’t or won’t win because of his personality or performance is daft. If things don’t turn around soon for the Tories, then a baboon with a red rosette could win in 2015. Ed M is a lot better than a baboon.

  3. @GW
    “Given the large number of people who would be directly affected, could this be the sort of thing that may shift VI?”

    Frankly, yes, if that report was picked up more widely in the media. It’s a chilling thought that by privatising them the Government has the ability to retrospectively increase the interest rates on outstanding student loans taken out over the last 15 years. The fact that the government has commissioned a report that floats such options could be damaging enough in itself, whatever denials might be issued.

    Those who consider that the promises of the likes of Nick Clegg can be trusted when it comes to student loans will no doubt disagree with my opinion.

  4. Jim Jam

    We came close’

    Labour lost by 65 seats and 2.5 million votes, not that close.

  5. Has anyone Googled “wendi deng affair” lately?

    ooOoo :)

  6. Phil

    What would be more damaging is if after privatization, student loans were guaranteed by the state, as I’m sure they would be because no private firm is going to take that kind of risk

  7. Statgeek
    I find it will be impossible to explain this, but your query led me (with a subsequent query from Mrs H) to Ken Clarke’s entry on Wikipedia. There I learned that it was Ken ‘wot wun it’ for England in 1966 (look it up yourself).

    Incidentally, Ken has two children, which satisfied Mrs H on his sexual orientation ( we were worried about all this jazz and real ale hobby stuff).

    Google can take one in all directions.

  8. @Turk
    ‘Labour lost by 65 seats and 2.5 million votes, not that close.’

    That is true – but Labour only needed a further 11 seats to deny Major a majority .An additional 0.5 swing would have achieved that and I shall always believe that Kinnock threw it away at Sheffield.


    For any Iain Banks fans who may have missed this.

  10. Amber,

    You are A. Star.

  11. Thanks Graham – I am glad you read my post properly and understood what I said Labour got close to achieving in 1992.

    As we know JMs majority was not workable in the end a salutary lesson for anyone thinking a minority administration is better than a coalition.

    A few awkward (principled if you prefer) back benchers can derail the Government often and easily.

    BTW – Re Rally, the evidence of the polls does not confirm you view as the average of Labour lead before and after Sheffield was the same.

    We know now of course the polls were all wrong in any event which as I said above Labour people on the ground suspected all along.

  12. @JimJam,

    I take it the fact that Labour activists “knew” they weren’t going to win in 1992, and yet didn’t say so, means that we should take with a very large pinch of salt the expressed views of Labour activists now when they predict victory in 2015?

    Even if they expected to lose, presumably they’d never admit it, just like in 1992.

    (I appreciate you are one of the more sanguine and less starry-eyed Labour supporters here).

  13. NEIL A
    ” his greatest achievement so far is to have done nothing particularly wrong.’
    No, as a confessed EM supporter, I suggest that his greatest achievement so far is have done nothing.


    Denial bt TB on Mail front page this morning.

  15. Neil – of course no party will admit to their real expectations; even Hague said he was going to win and I don’t blame him.

    I recall you were doubtful of a Con majority even when they had big leads at times in the run up to 2010 and were not as surprised as many with the outcome.

    My view is similar to yours then in that people often fail to appreciate the scale of the task that the opposition parties have with such a big gap to close.

    I accept, as do we all, that some low hanging ‘LD’ fruit has given Labour a base which is in effect bigger than their 2010 vote share but still for them to win an OM they need more than that and those extra votes will be harder to secure.

    FWIW my prediction is cons most votes in 2015 but seats very close, LD 30-35 seats due to incumbency in marginals.

    Scotland voting yes to independence would throw mine and other predictions apart in ways I can’t work out but bad for Labour of course in the short term at least.

  16. NEIL A
    @”If things don’t turn around soon for the Tories, then a baboon with a red rosette could win in 2015. ”

    But that is merely to state the obvious, and to fail to define “soon”.

    Fortunes can change dramatically during a GE campaign , can’t they? And that isn’t “soon”.

    My interpretation of UKPR’s all polls VI graph is that Labour’s 10 pts gain occurred in two chunks -about half of it within months of the 2010 GE, and the other half by the end of 2010. All of this gain was precisely mirrored in a LD loss of the same magnitude.Since then Labour has not seen any fundamental change. Current trend would seem to be down a tad.

    By Contrast , Cons took two years to lose around 3 or 4 pts , and then lost another 5 pts after the 2012 Budget.
    Current trend seems unclear to me-but if, by whatever combination of factors, Cons can retrieve that 5% gap with Labour, ( and 7% isn’t too far off that) whilst having the possibility of retrieving 5 or 6 pts from UKIP come the day, then a hung parliament is at least a prospect -37/37/13 for example.

    But then NC implements his pledge to coalesce with the “largest party” -and the game is up.

    It does look tough for Cons.

    Can’t see the Argies stepping in -but maybe Abu Qatada will?

  17. @ Colin

    I don’t know why there should be this speculation about the marriage troubles of Mr Murdoch. I believe this is his third marriage and given the age gap, plus all the recent difficulties with News International, it is not that strange.

    It appears to be Robert Peston with his ‘jaw dropping’ tweet that has started online speculation about this. We recently saw Sally Bercow lose in court, when her Tweet did not contain anything that in itself was libel. So if I were Mr Peston, I would be a little worried.

  18. R HUCKLE

    I agree.

    I was at first disappointed with that remark from Peston-then I realised that it was only to be expected from him.

    A “Bercow” would be good.

  19. @JimJam,

    “FWIW my prediction is cons most votes in 2015 but seats very close, LD 30-35 seats due to incumbency in marginals.”

    Pretty similar to my prediction. I agree with Peter Kellner that it would be wise for Labour to plan for the possibility of a Lab-Lib coalition with a small coalition majority whilst still pushing for a Labour overall majority (obviously).

  20. …re 37/37/13-LDs would have lost so many seats, that the rump left in Parliament will presumably not be lead by NC.

    They will just about have enough MPs for a few minor posts in a Lab/Lib coalition, and a few yes men on the back benches.

  21. @Richard, Colin,

    A 7-9% lead is a significant lead, but it’s not the kind of lead at this stage of parliament that cannot be overcome IMO. It will obviously be difficult for the Tories, especially if they want to form to the next government, but by no means impossible….especially as Ed is still relatively unpopular and trust in Labour’s economic policy is still very low (though this may obviously change as they release more details etc.). It certainly wouldn’t require a seismic shift.

    To put themselves in a reasonable position, I think the Tories should aim to cut the lead by, say, to 5% or 6% by the end of 2013.

    At the moment, I’d say obviously Labour has the clear advantage to at least form the next government…but things can change and the Tories aren’t out of the picture just yet.

  22. AMBI

    @”o put themselves in a reasonable position, I think the Tories should aim to cut the lead by, say, to 5% or 6% by the end of 2013.”

    Agreed. That has been my personal “target” for them since the economic/political slippage of 2012.

  23. @ Colin

    “…re 37/37/13-LDs would have lost so many seats, that the rump left in Parliament will presumably not be lead by NC.”

    It is very difficult to work out what the make up of the Lib Dems will be after 2015. First there is the issue of how well they do/how many seats they lose.

    If we went with a prediction of holding onto 30-40 seats then you’ve got to ask which seats will fall and who those people are. From my uniformed guesswork it feels like the seats most likely to fall may well be from the more left wing MP’s. Teather and Hughes for example won in naturally Labour areas that may be less forgiving of the coalition and a few abstentions here and there in parliamentary votes may not be enough to save them. Equally Clegg looks relatively safe- obviously he is a special case being so high profile and the Ashcroft poll a couple of years ago had him just marginally ahead still with Labour (or Tories) relying on an evenly split 3 way result to grab the seat.

  24. Jimjam/Graham

    Your original assumption was it was Labour who gave the Tories a close run thing in 1992 the figures I gave were the difference between the two parties.

    If you had said it was Labour, Liberials and others who made the gains to bring it to 11 seats difference I would have agreed with you, perhaps more clarity was needed.

  25. The problems of Labour or EM being leader I just cannot agree with, the only problems I see are if labour do not coalesce behind their leader EM they will lose, does not matter what the media say or those against the current labour leadership say, the labour party must be united as one; if they are they will come out on top.

    I think the reason so many want EM to fail is it would make the coalition’s job easy at 2015 GE, at the moment we are in limbo until after the euro elections, that result will shape the 2015 GE, if the results go bad for the coalition partnership then watch the blood spill, the Conservatives could be a blood bath, the Lib Dems could just be a bit messy in comparison, but we will be within the GE countdown at that point.

    All this about it going to be close etc is just personal opinions; the Conservative party are in trouble, they always have problems internally with Europe, this time in power this internal struggle has intensified, I think because they did not win outright in 2010 and because they cannot see a way of winning outright in 2015 or even forming the government, the implementation of the changes by the government is rushed, every single change has been rushed which has caused mistakes, that leads me to believe the conservatives knew from near the outset of government they would be unlikely to form the next government…

    Hence all the rushing and hence the euro sceptics trying to force an in out referendum it’s all about time, do as much as possible in the time available, if UKIP really do split the Conservatives apart it could be decades before either could coalesce into a credible political force, the conservatives have had a long time to clear house and failed to do so, maybe this time they will not have a choice…

    That’s my opinion

  26. Recent history teaches a lead of 7-9% lead is not good enough to win a decisive victory in a GE. Comparisons between EM and Kinnock in 1992 are not altogether fair as Kinnock by then had been Labour leader for two Parliaments…voters doubts were set in the context of that long acquaintance.

    In the 1920’s and again into the 1970’s and early 1980’s the emergence of a significant third party gradually undid the ‘usual’ relationship in swings and seats. On the current three party continuum continuing Labour has an edge less because of its % poll lead and more because of the bias in its favour preserved by in-fighting within the coalition.

    If however, we are on the cusp of a fourth party emergence and that party UKIP becomes significant in the aftermath of next year’s European elections in the context of the polling ratios as they are today then it becomes harder yet for the Conservatives to win enough seats even if they can edge out on the popular vote. Moreover, if UKIP and the local elections give the government another serious kicking then although poll leads may be small the larger advantage of momentum will move towards Labour & EM.

    Against that, if the Conservatives have already recovered some way in the polls then a significant UKIP victory might destabilise the Scots Referendum on Independence – in which case all bets are off.

    But I’m still of the view that an economic recovery underway will help the Conservatives but if we’re still where we are with 2.5 million unemployed and no discernable growth then Labour is likely to make the political hay.

  27. @Jim (The other One),

    “All this about it going to be close etc is just personal opinions”

    Politics…and particularly interpreting polls…is all about personal opinion. No one really knows or can say with any degree of great certainty what will happen in 2015…if we could, we wouldn’t be so excited about next month’s/the next day’s poll! if anyone says they are certain (or anywhere close) of the outcome of the next GE, I suspect it’s more wishful (and biased) thinking than anything. Personally, I don’t pretend that my polling predictions for 2015 are based on any great deal of certainty….just a mixture of supposition and guesswork based on current polling. Everyone is the same.

    I still stand by my prediction that the next GE will be close….I can’t see a landslide, as many Labourites on here are predicting. A hung parliament with Labour as the largest party is my central prediction, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Labour managed to eek out a small majority either.

  28. That’s just the thing – economic growth is pretty useless electorally if it’sonly banks or very rich individuals that are making up that growth. In fact it may be harmful to go around boasting of rapid growth when people have had declining incomes for years.

  29. Economic growth is always useful because it plays into the political narrative of whether a government’s economic policy has succeeded or failed. It probably wouldn’t/doesn’t affect short-term polling, but may well feed into perceptions of how well a government has managed the nation’s economy IMO. During a time of economic failure and recession this is particularly important.

    But even significant economic growth doesn’t necessarily guarantee victory, as previous GEs have shown.

  30. Neil A

    “A baboon with a red rosette”

    Only applies if Labour goes into the election with a substantial lead in the polls. If that lead has been reduced in two years time down to a 3-4% lead then the quality of the Leaders ability to convince the people he/she is the right person to lead the country becomes very important.

    Of course EM could well grow into the job and become a popular figure and the tory vi remain the same in which case your original assumption is correct although like you I don’t really see EM as a baboon far from it.

    From my/our point of view I find the recent polls very interesting the picture is far from clear where we will be in 2015 on the lead up to the GE. I suppose for us who follow politic’s and the polls thats wht it’s all about no matter what your political leanings are.

  31. We know now of course the polls were all wrong in any event which as I said above Labour people on the ground suspected all along.

    Some of us knew it at the time and won over 300£ on betting on a Conservative win with a majority of 15 to 25.

  32. Turk

    Only applies if Labour goes into the election with a substantial lead in the polls. If that lead has been reduced in two years time down to a 3-4% lead then the quality of the Leaders ability to convince the people he/she is the right person to lead the country becomes very important….


    I may well be wrong. But by my own antiquated model Labour are already (at +8% mid-term) on course for a majority well below 30 – as a Labour lead of just 8% will be reigned back in by the time of the GE.

    To that extent, it will make little difference who their leader is: an OM of 30 or an OM of 15-20.

    But given the improving economic optimisim, I’d put my money on another coalition. Labour + what will then be 35 or so Lib Dems.

  33. The big question is would a coalition with a much reduced Lib Dem arithmetic last? If not, how long would people give it?

  34. JimJam/Graham

    In my last post to you both I was on reflection being much to pedantic about who did what in the 1992 election, sorry.

    A morning in the barn fixing my daughters tractor will put me in a better mood, nothing like a good tinker and a bit of welding.

  35. thanks Turk.

  36. AMBI

    @”The big question is would a coalition with a much reduced Lib Dem arithmetic last?”

    It would be affected by which MPs survived ( Red or Orange?) & who was leading them.

    But with possibly only 30 MPs , a coalition with anyone will look very much like a lifeboat, one imagines.

  37. Jim Jam,

    Re – Sheffield Rally 1992

    I recall a couple of polls a week before polling day giving Labour a 6/7% lead and on election eve the parties were much closer together in all polls – Gallup ,I think, put the Tories 0.5% ahead.. Whilst the ‘average in the week leading up to’ figures may not have shifted much, there was a clear change in mood. I vividly recall how I – and other committed Labour party workers – cringed in embarrassment when we heard Kinnock ranting away like a popstar. Now if it had such a powerful effect on us, I have absolutely no doubt at all that it would have had a very negative impact on swing, undecided voters about to make up their minds.. I strongly suspect that Kinnock’s speech boosted turnout by bringing out the Tory vote – Tories who had been minded to sit on their hands or vote LibDem went back to the Tories in the last few days. Also worth recalling that there were four Tory seats that Labour failed to win by less than 100 votes!.

  38. Peston’s tweet was pretty innocuous given what was already all over the internet. Hard to sympathise with the old goat murdhoch, given his newspaper’s atitude toward the privacy of others.

  39. The 2015 GE will come down to whether money matters more than local activism. If it’s money, then the Tories might hold Labour’s majority down to around 30; if it’s activists who matter then Labour will have its 70-80 seat majority.

  40. Ah, but Amber do you really think that or are you just “doing a Hague” on us? ;)

  41. GRAHAM.
    Good Afternoon to you.

    I very well remember ’92. In a pub in Norwich, in the student quarter. A Scottish lady came in and told us the exit poll news.

    John Smith’s Shadow Budget shock, against Kinnock’s preference also played a role.

  42. or even a Foot.

    To be fair Neil, Hague and Foot never had any chance of getting anywhere near an OM (after the Falklands at least) but whilst it is not my view there is a chance of a Lab majority next time depending on the economy and government competence.

  43. @ Neil A

    I’m assuming that’s a reference to Prism &/or Gaddafi is on his way to Venezuela. If so, nice1. :-)

  44. I would be very surprised if Labour manage to get a majority of 70-80 in 2015.

  45. ^ me too.

  46. AMBI & RICH.

    There are some here who do-ie they think the Polls will not change between now & GE day.

  47. 24 Hours and not on the Naughty Step it’s a record.

  48. I suspect John Smith Blew it for Labour in 1992 by the proposal to uncap NIC, particularly in London and the South East .

  49. I think Labour have it all to play for,the Conservatives just seem to jump from one extreme to another.If Ed can set out a pretty basic ,but competent set of policies that don’t drag to left or right and sit himself in the centre ground ,then he has an great chance of being PM in 2015.There is a long time to go until 2015,but UKIP are going to get stronger towards 2015 and those hardened Tories who have switched may like to give the Conservatives a bloody nose for not listening to them over Europe.Looks better for Labour then it does for Conservatives.

  50. “There are some here who do-ie they think the Polls will not change between now & GE day”
    And there are others doing rain-dances in the hope that they will change. IIRC the feel-good factor matters a great deal and it is hard to see where an improved FGF will come from.

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