This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%. The six point Labour lead is their lowest from YouGov since the local elections (and equals the lowest this year – YouGov had a six point Labour lead and the beginning of May and a couple in January). As ever, don’t get too excited over a single poll, but it is in line with Labour’s average lead with YouGov now being in the high single figures. Full tabs are here.

Also out yesterday was some polling of Conservative party members for Tim Bale and Paul Webb. The results yesterday just covered approval and attitudes towards the European Union. As things stand Conservative party members are overwhelmingly in favour of withdrawal from the European Union, by 71% to 20%. However, asked how they would vote if David Cameron secured renegotiation and recommended people vote to stay in, 54% would vote to stay, 38% to leave.

I’d take two things away from that. The first is that many Conservative party members are still open to persuasion – if Cameron managed to renegotiate Britain’s membership in some way they could be persuaded to back him (though of course, it would very much depend on what Cameron managed to secure). The second is that many others aren’t, even in the scenario of Cameron’s successfully renegotiating powers (and that itself is a serious challenge), 4 in 10 of Conservative members would not vote with him in a referendum. If a referendum does ever happen, and if the Conservative leadership are campaigning to stay in, it really is going to open up a gulf between the leadership and some party members. Full tabs are here.

348 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 32, LAB 38, LD 10, UKIP 13”

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  1. @ Colin

    I had cause to use 111 recently. Difficult to judge- they answered quickly, spent a bit too long reading off cards and repeating questions but reasonably efficient. Then it all went a bit wrong when they referred me to an out of hours clinic and you were expected to wait for a call back which necessitated a follow up call before they got hold of out of hours and connected me directly

    In my case it was fairly obvious it would need a visit to see a doctor rather than either life threatening or can wait until Monday, so I would say in my case it was just an extra unnecessary level of bureaucracy. The issue is how many timewasters they filter out or how many “don’t want to cause any bother” people who they pick and and make them understand it is urgent.

    I suspect it has potential but I also suspect it might be better if they just spent the money on extra doctors with a receptionist. I also think that if appointments were easier to get with a GP a lot of these cases wouldn’t need 111 in the first place.

    @ Paul Croft

    The Geordies have started tearing up their season tickets early this year- can’t help thinking there must be someone who has torn up their season ticket three times in one season!

  2. @Jim Jam,

    I get your point, but it’s just straying too far in to liberal left political correctness for me. If my children come up with a great story and great creativity, I’ll praise them, but there comes an age, whether it be 7,8,9 etc, where if its littered with mistakes then I’ll draw attention to that and pick them upon it. You can’t keep ignoring it for worry of upsetting them, it’s not helpful in the long run.
    There has to be a balance, and I think some of the New Labour direction on English got the balance wrong. This is my gut feel from experience of the last few years, but as I noted earlier, I have really rated all the teachers, so I don’t really have any issue there. Gove is right in my view, but I take the point he is possibly going about the change the wrong way. He needs to sell it better, and does need consensus.

  3. There’s a place for creativity and grammar/learning by rote. It’s finding a good balance that’s the key IMO.

  4. JIM JAM

    I think spelling & grammar are important in their own right.

    I don’t see how one can divorce them from the skills needed to express views/answer questions on any subject.

    It’s like saying we will test you on your ability to sing , but we won’t bother too much if you can’t read musical notation too well.

    Spelling & Grammar are tools of effective communication.

  5. ……..anyway………what IS the problem with teaching children how to spell correctly , and understand the basic rules of grammar?

    Is it difficult or something?

  6. I always imagine the grammar police staying in on Saturday night to iron their underpants

  7. @Colin,

    “I think spelling & grammar are important in their own right.

    I don’t see how one can divorce them from the skills needed to express views/answer questions on any subject.

    It’s like saying we will test you on your ability to sing , but we won’t bother too much if you can’t read musical notation too well.

    Spelling & Grammar are tools of effective communication.

    I totally agree. The best schools and teachers are able to find the right balance between learning rules and knowledge by rote and encouraging creativity. In a modern economy, the ability to count, communicate effectively with others and think creatively have never been more important.

  8. @Colin,

    I agree too. Well said Colin.

  9. Having said that, I’m staying on a Saturday night and watching a film while making cushions out of old jumpers

  10. *teaching

  11. ‘……..anyway………what IS the problem with teaching children how to spell correctly , and understand the basic rules of grammar?Is it difficult or something?’

    In a word, YES

  12. Well I’ve never taught grammar but it was bloody difficult learning it and I never quite got the hang of it

  13. @RIN,

    Most people don’t. Just like most people don’t get the hang of understanding Einstein’s theories, or physics/chemistry generally…but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

  14. I’m with @Colin on spelling and grammar, which might sound quite odd for a greeny leftie.

    For me, it’s about the discipline of learning. This matters – creativity is great, but to think outside the box, you need to know where the box is. ‘Expressing yourself’ isn’t actually very imaginative or interesting, unless it is wedded to learning the rules of communication, some of which you might find you can break.

    The nuts and bolts stuff is really important, and we can’t afford to allow the idea that life is all about free expression and ‘wanting it so badly’ that people forget that to do anything worthwhile actually takes a good deal of graft, along with a bit of inspiration.

  15. Bill P.

    Apologies for mis-reading your seriousness for irony. I was genuinely bemused that you could equate the propitiousness of 08-09 for the Tories and 12-13 for Labour.

    As for the Tories’s slide, you are correct that I had set the start of it a few months too early. I should have known better because I posted this very graph only a few weeks ago.

    It shows that the rot was well established before the 2009 conference season.

    Of course, I’d got other dates wrong in my earlier post (serves me right for trying to write a post whilst dressing two recalcitrant toddlers and eating toast…) It was Autumn/Winter 2008 that Brown saved the world whilst Cameron and Osborne went AWOL, not the year before as I’d implied earlier.

    Brown and Labour got a big bounce in the polls from the impression of decisive action and world-leadership. In the last week of Sept 08, the 5-point retrospective average YG poll figures were Con 44.8, Lab 26.8. By the first week of Dec 08, they were Con 41.2, Lab 34.8.

    I strongly suspect that it was this that spooked the Tories into declaring the Age of Austerity, rather than a judgement that they were going to win anyway, and could get away with winning whilst scaring the kids with talk of cuts.

    The Tories had to show clear water between them and Labour. They could hardly say that they would not have bailed out the banks, and left the world banking system to its own devices. So they were stuck, more or less agreeing with Labour on that policy. (Cameron, to his credit, didn’t try to play politics over the banking crisis, publicly offering (as I recall) his full support to the actions of the Govt.) But the Tories could not then simply agree with Lab spending policies. Labour were catching them hand over fist and it was vital that the Tories had a big club to fight Labour off. The big club of course was the Deficit Denier tag that decisively won the argument on 2009. Not that that winning argument helped the Tories directly. They continued on the decline that has now been going on at an almost constant rate for 5 years. But they did successfully kill off Labour.

  16. Count me in on the side of the hard-ish liners the grammar debate, for the same reasons as Colin. I have a similar attitude on the importance of mental arithmetic. Finding smart ways to perform hard calculations on the head is a wonderful way to develop and keep an agile brain. I had it (literally) beaten into me by my first employer – an old-school ex-Prof who used to hit us on the hand with a ruler if he found us using a calculator to do simple addition and subtraction in calcs in the engineering design office.

    On point on grammar though. Where should be drawn the line?

    Do we penalise students in a Physics exam for splitting an infinitive, or for failing to you the possessive pronoun with a gerund?

  17. Just to clarify what I am saying.

    SPaG are important and should be taught in schools and tested for rigorously.

    Where I seem to diverge with most posters is that I think if History is being tested the student who knows most history and can interpret history should get the better marks not a weaker one who has better SPaG.

    In English of course the second student will do better.

  18. Err…or failing to spell-check…

    “use” rather than “you”. Bloody Rioja.

  19. Lefty

    I’m a whizz at mental arithmetic I was shocked when at our exam we were given a sheet with all the formula for calculating the volume of a cylinder etc, but as far as I’m concerned if you are not within 5 mins of some kind of calculator it’s not arithmetic you need its a bloody helicopter, the only time when I found my skills at mental arithmetic useful was while working in a bar but I didn’t earn any more money than those that just used the till even through I was saving 20 secs per customer, otherwise it’s been a curse, I’m forever pointing out when shopkeepers give me too much change

  20. ‘……..anyway………what IS the problem with teaching children how to spell correctly , and understand the basic rules of grammar?Is it difficult or something?’

    In a word, YES


    If you’re taught EARLY, and are not warned “this is difficult”, the answer is, in a word, NO!

    I still remember my punctuation lesson (yes, there was only one). I was about 8. Taught all basic punctuation in 40 minutes: periods, commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, parentheses (though we called them brackets), ellipses….

    One 40 minute lesson was all it took. Grammar was taught early, ditto spelling. It may have been a bit boring, but it wasn’t difficult.

    And it is, as someone above said, necessary for communication. And there is ONLY one reason to read or write (or, for that matter, to speak), and that’s to communicate.

    Like Alec I come to this as a leftist. But I have to go with the rightists.

  21. RiN

    It’s not a question of utility. It is a question of training the brain. Figuring out different ways to simplify apparently difficult calculations is a brain workout. It trains the brain to explore, automatically and sub-consciously, different aspects of a problem.

    Take 16 multiplied by 34.

    You could try ten times 34 = 340, plus 6 times 34 = 204 so the answer is 544.

    Or you could note that 6 is divisible by 2, so the problem can be changed to 8 times 68. And again, 4 times 136. And finally 2 times 272. Each one in this train is a much simpler calculation than the previous one.

    And even the final calc in the rain offers a simplification. 272 = 250 + 20 + 2. So 272 *2 = 500+40+4…voila.

    This is a very democratic issue. I once read Richard Feynman describing how, in lazy nights at Los Alamos, he’d work out clever ways of squaring numbers close to 50 in his head (by using the (A+B)^2=A^2+2AB+B^2 rule). And I;ve also witnessed miners working out in 30 seconds their returns on a successful 50p 3 doubles and a treble bet on the horses. it;s open to any human brain that is prepared to be exercised.

  22. “Do we penalise students in a Physics exam for splitting an infinitive”

    People who understand physics should always be penalised: no excuse is required.

  23. Lefty
    “Do we penalise students in a Physics exam for splitting an infinitive, or for failing to you the possessive pronoun with a gerund?”

    Surely it’s even more important in Science to be able to express your meaning accurately and unambiguously?

    I was on an interview panel recently with a couple of data analysts with degrees. The system used was for each member of the panel to allot scores for the answers to each question. At the end, I jotted down our three scores for about 6 candidates, added them up and got the average score, to reveal the best candidate, which took a few seconds. The other members didn’t believe the answer until they’d typed the numbers into a spreadsheet!

  24. Bloody sticky keyboard…16 is divisible by 2…

  25. Pete B

    Aye, but what happens if a student decides to unambiguously express her thoughts?

  26. “There’s a place for creativity and grammar/learning by rote. It’s finding a good balance that’s the key IMO.”

    What’s “IMO” mean Ambi?

  27. Lefty
    That’s a bit subtle for me. Is it a reference to the recent abduction case?

  28. When I took O-levels, (long story as to why I did O-levels rather than GCSEs, but about 11 years ago), I seem to recall you could lose up to, but no more than, 10% of marks for poor spelling, grammar etc in exams other than english language.

    This seems to me a sensible compromise – it acknowledges the need for half decent english to make sense in other subjects, without excessively penalising those who’s grasp of english is rather poorer than their grasp of the subject in hand.

    My working experience is that by far the most useful “taught” skill I possess is a decent understanding, and ability with numbers and basic algebra. Particularly the ability to do mental “order of magnitude” calculations to see if the answers I’ve come up with (usually using a calculator) for a problem are plausible.

    I tend to the view that the key to effective spelling, punctuation and grammar is lots of reading from a young age (I was taught to read well enough to read Famous Five, Jennings and similar books by the time I was five – I didn’t always understand the nuances of what I read, but certainly understood 98% of the words). I struggled with rote learnt grammar (never got anywhere with formal sentence composition), but because I’d read so much, I naturally wrote pretty correctly – these days about a third of my income comes from freelance writing about specialist subjects for hobby magazines… and I still can barely find the verb in a sentence!

    As for what parents should do – have a house full of books (not all kids books either – I read loads of adult stuff as a kid, from books about railways to books on theology), and no tv, no video games, with time on the pc strictly rationed.
    Your kids will complain bitterly, but in the long term it with have an outstandingly positive effect on their development.

  29. There is nothing ungrammatical about splitting infinitives.

  30. By the way, splitting infinitives is NOT bad grammar, any more than is ending a sentence with a preposition or having a sentence without a verb. These nonsenses were set out in the late 18th century by idiots who set “rules” to make English conform to the rules of LATIN grammar (where all these indeed do hold true). But we don’t talk Latin, we talk English.

  31. Do we want to bring up our future physics whizzes and history boffins believing that when they turn in their applications to universities, or for jobs in their field, that noone is going to care whether it is properly spelled correctly punctuated “so long as their meaning is clear”?

    “Pleez can eye bee yor new Proffesor off Tewder Histry coz I noe loads abowt Elzbeff and Hennry – Ta xx”.

    I wouldn’t want to see students who struggle with English, for example dyslexics, frozen out of academia completely but I do think it’s necessary to be able to frame your ideas with a certain degree of exactitude.

    As for Gove, I think he’s a nice man, with firm ideas, who has decided that when 70% of the voices you hear are partisan, self-interested and negative then it’s best to ignore 100%. Unfortunate but understandable. So far I am a fan.

  32. I’m surprised at so many supposed lefties calling for a return to CSEs and Secondary Moderns. I don’t think this is a good way forward in a world with few well paid unskilled or semi skilled jobs.

    You must remember the gold standard O-levels and A-levels YOU took were only passed my a minority.

  33. Personally I would prefer a doctor who knew how to diagnose and treat a disease more than one who could spell and construct grammatically correct sentences.

    Unfortunately we have a system in which communication skills are seen as more important that knowledge or understanding.

  34. @Jim Jam

    “SPaG are important and should be taught in schools and tested for rigorously.”

    Seeming to be the only one to understand your meaning, slightly worried am I.

    @Neil A

    “Do we want to bring up our future physics whizzes and history boffins believing that when they turn in their applications to universities, or for jobs in their field, that noone is going to care whether it is properly spelled correctly punctuated “so long as their meaning is clear”?”

    I think it essential to say, first of all, that no one, or at least not Jim Jam to whom everyone is presently replying on this issue, has suggested that people should not be taught correct punctuation or grammar or that these things are not essential to his or her’s ability to lead a full and proper life and gain suitable amenable rewards necessary for living through the course of their life (and could indeed promote a greater joi de vivre in them); secondly, though it brings me a certain pang of pain to admit it, I would myself prefer for less grammatical correctness than for the other extreme of this tendency, presently in vogue amongst political circles so it would seem, for writing grammatical correct, but meaningless or obscure pieces from which it requires great cognitive effort to work out what he or she has said or, in the exasperating but sadly far more typical eventuality, discover that said person has in fact said nothing at all, but has merely used terminological fashions and complexity to disguise that very fact whilst giving them impression that they have, that is to say relying on the difficulty of reading through what they have said to cause a cognitive dissonance such that he or she believes that they have in fact read something of great erudition.

  35. @Cloudspotter

    Spot on. Personally, when being wheeled into theater, given a choice between a brilliant surgeon who can’t tell you what a past participle is, and the surgeon who can do the participle thing but is so-so at surgery, I wouldn’t be picking the grammar Nazi.

    It is amazing the idea that you could have two students doing physics, and the better physicist winds up with a lower grade and goes to a worse university because of grammar issues.

  36. @COLIN

    “It’s like saying we will test you on your ability to sing , but we won’t bother too much if you can’t read musical notation too well.”


    Lol, under your music regime you might have failed the Beatles.

    At Oxford, everyone had of course passed the Oxford Use of English exam to get in, but it didn’t really help them in the labs.

    They could write a very articulate report about those calamities though. I’m sure there are some bankers who could write very eloquently on their screw ups in the banking crisis.

    And Cameron couldn’t even get txtspeak right…

  37. In the 1980’s I was teaching Secondary School pupils how to use computers. At one time, we were working with an early speech-synthesizer. Type in some text, and the voice-box would ‘speak’ it.

    The software was very primitive, and many of the results did not sound sufficiently close to the required word. We soon found that results could be improved by creative misspelling, and this became the object of the lesson. Find the best way to spell a word so that the synthesizer could say it more clearly.

    I was surprised to find that pupils whose spelling was poor could not do well at this task. If a word was, to them, difficult to spell correctly, then they could not come up with alternative misspellings. On the other hand, those whose spelling was generally good could cope with this problem easily. Finding that the correct spelling gave a poor result, they could quickly cast around with several variations until they came up with a better result.

    Moral: if you want someone to spell badly for a purpose, start with someone whose spelling is good!

  38. Sorry, James, I got put off the rest of your post by the superfluous use of an apostrophe in 1980s.

  39. Back to NHS: our family has found that 111 itself is a good service. However, the most important bit of the service is poor and has completely lost confidence – the doctors you see out of hours.

    No doubt people’s experience across the country will vary on this one, and some of them may be good, but frankly we have found that they are always second rate or even unqualified – whereas you want to see a competent local doctor from one of the local surgeries who is doing his/her out-of-hours shift.

    Even more ironic given that out-of-hours are likely, on average, to be a lot more serious than during normal hours.

    This HAS to change back for the sake of people’s health and to restore confidence – but by all means keep the 111 service. As far as we are concerned, the people on the other end of the telephone are pleasant, conscientious and do the job they are made out to do. It’s not their fault that the people they have to send you to are useless, so please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water on this one Mr. Hunt.

  40. Nice to get some support for my view point.

    Colin’s original point was to critcise Teachers Unions for the approach to SPaG.

    I think what the spread of opinions on here demonstrates is that there are good arguments for and against SPaG having an impact on other subject assessments.

    As such whilst it is fair to disagree with the NUTs views it is unfair to dismiss them as being negative.

    The Health Secretary has recently criticised the RCN for failing to be a professional body and not just a traditional union it would be shame paradoxically, to dismiss the NUT as a trade union when its’ response to educational issues like the GCSEs debate is essentially as a professional body rather than trade union.

    Especially now that the GTC has been abolished by the Government which provided non-Trade Union professional views to the Government. I wonder why Gove abolished it? Surely not because he deemed them opposed to his ideas??, Even the TES hardly a lefty body opposed the GTC being abolished.

    The Teachers Unions, role as professional body, has therefore had to be enhanced to fill the void.

    To sum um up Gove’s tactics (IMO)… [If you feel the need to put IMO, then it’s probably a sign that you’re about to write something that’s not the spirit of the comments policy… AW]

  41. My first time doing this latest YG/ST –

    CON 31%, LAB 39%, LD 10%, UKIP 13%; APP -31

    New Pollrums the 6% was at MOE lead 8% on YG pretty steady.

  42. As I understand it, grammar and spelling are mainly important in writing, which takes invented forms to record thought or spoken language. They reflect more or less accurately mental and lingustic strucfures and enable, more ore less well, the extension of verbal statements and communications into recorded and thus transmissable creative thought, scientific research, commercial tlansactions, p;lans and policies; in other words they are fundamental to a civilisation and its movements – not only ours, and not only in this phase of history, of course.
    One of the truly damagting flaws in the use of “good” English is the monopoly which its adoption has created in the use of language in relations between the post-industrial countries who run most aspects of international relations, including all the development aid institutions, and “developing” or non-industrialised countries. “Good” and grammatical English has, in consequence, become an instrument of a form of coloinialism which has, now over sixty years of the Brettan Woods post-World War 2 arrangements, condemned more than half the world to a dependent status. The increaing role of the Chinese – even they using English as a lingua franca – is gradually causing shifts in this post-colonial coloinialism but there are an army of aid professionals whose authority and earnings depend on a largely indifferent and bureaucratised English.


    @”As I understand it, grammar and spelling are mainly important in writing”

    They are John-they are indeed, as you so brilliantly demonstrate.

  44. Lansley & Burnham in the frame.

  45. Burnham would be bigger loss to Labour than Lansley to Cons if they have to resign.

  46. It is interesting how certain news stories are the most talked about for 48 hours and then nothing. Other stories continue to run and run. Earlier this month, we had the ‘Downing Street affair’ which we are told was very significant and that for whatever reason the people concerned could not be named. There are apparently court cases at some point in the future where the names may be revealed, so it is thought to be subjudicy to name them beforehand.

    Long running have been the media stories on historic abuse cases by various celebrities and also a debate about whether it is acceptable for the media to identify suspects before they are charged.

    Then we have continued stories about NHS cover ups, with whistleblowers apparently given gag agreements in return for payment. The news media reveal the cover ups with those people concerned named as being responsible, followed by denials.

    Now we have the current ongoing media stories about ‘state surveillance’ of communications which is apparently being done within the law. The US government have launched legal proceedings against the person concerned, as The Guardian newspaper keep revealing details. There has been no attempt as far as I know to stop The Guardian from revealing more information.

    So the question is who actually controls what can or cannot be revealed in the media. When is it in the public interest to have details revealed ? When is it appropriate for a court to be asked to decide on this ? Should the media be able to report that a court has decided that information cannot be revealed, while being careful not to identify people involved ?

    This is an interesting subject but I am not sure how polling is affected. How do cover ups in the NHS really affect which party they trust ?

  47. JIM JAM

    Just as Labour is trying to triangulate on the economy (for no apparant sensible reason) the Burnham/Lansley joint suppression of bad news in the NHS is triangulating these parties as being untrustworthy on the NHS.

    That is certainly more damaging to Labour.

  48. As a rule of thumb, it is the governing party that takes the biggest hit when a scandal breaks. However, Lansley had already been s***-canned due to his performance at Health (and therefore any further bad news may be seen as par for the course) whereas Burnham is still a “star performer” and a self-appointmed champion of patients.

    Of course, the full story may be more complicated and less clearly “wrongful” than the headline. When whistleblowers speak up they often do so as a defence mechanism against some other, potentially valid, criticism. A true and good whistleblower will have registered their concerns, in writing, to their management and kept copies of their reports, long before “getting desperate” and going to the media.

  49. Lansley & Burnham in the frame.

    —The current administration and their right wing media fanboys would certainly like to spread the blame let’s see how this plays out.

    I suspect explaining why nothing has been done for the last 3 years was actually Andy Burnhham’s fault will be beyond even Lynton Crosby’s spinning abilities.

    Would talk about Polls but they appear to be stuck in the Polldrums.

  50. @steve,

    Come on mate give it a rest. We had a great debate last note on education and if you read it, there was a strong consensus on the centre right view.

    Your good points will be lost if you keep up with the anti Conservative slant in every post. I am trying to help! :-)


    Burnham live on sky news now. You are right, some very uncomfortable questions…

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