This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%. It shows Labour’s lead down to five points for the second YouGov poll in a row.

I suspect these are two polls at the lower end of the normal margin of error and the underlying average will still turn out to be a six or seven point lead, but all the same, the lead appears to be falling. As ever, any change in the lead invites explanation, something that polls are much less good at doing. My guess is that it is a reflection of the slight increase in economic optimism (or decrease in economic pessimism) that we’ve seen over the last couple of months, something that was perhaps masked a bit by the boost UKIP got from the local elections, but is becoming apparent now that the amount of publicity that UKIP are receiving has fallen a bit.

It is just a guess of course, and things are rarely explained by a single factor. I’ve seen some people ascribe it to Labour’s economic announcements over recent weeks, though personally I don’t think policy statements by opposition parties get noticed enough to have any real immediate effect on polls. Alternatively it could be the dividing lines emerging over welfare, or just the Conservative party avoiding being actively at each others throats for the last couple of weeks. It bottom line is that it’s difficult to know what actually moves voting intention, my only advice is to avoid the mistake of assuming that it must be the issue that you care about that’s done it.

60 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 33, LAB 38, LD 8, UKIP”

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  1. The Tories have had a reasonable couple of weeks, Labour have gone to sleep, UKIP have come off the boil. Labour needs to up its game if they can’t change their leader, (they never have the nerve to do a Labor) then they need to totally re-vamp their front bench. Ed.M. has made it clear he won’t bring back Alistair Darling, big mistake!!

  2. Even better news on the economy this morning, as the construction PMI edged up and is now positive. The main boost seems to be from residential housebuilding, which backs up claims that the Help to Buy scheme is doing something to push construction. This is the first time for a long time that we have seen services, manufacturing and construction positive, so while overall growth might still be modest, it will definitely be growth.

    I would fully agree with AW that poll moves are more likely to be down to underlying economic factors, but interestingly, while the mood music seems to have changed, and optimism is rising, actual figures on household budgets remain weak and deteriorating. Households seem to be saying they feel better, but when questioned they say they have less disposable income and are spending more of their savings.

    While apparently contradictory, these factors are very compatible. Savings ratios go up and down in inverse proportion to economic confidence, and it seems that the highly defensive mindset that consumers adopted from early 2010 to around the start of 2013 has moderated, with households prepared to reduce savings to spend now, more confident that earnings will be better at some future point.

    This is what the economy needs, up to a point, but with no clear sign that wages can rise significantly in the medium term, or that the global economy is starting to romp again, there remains the question mark over how strong this growth will be and how long it can be maintained in it’s present form.

    If they were ever to listen to me, I would advise Tories to be extremely careful and downbeat about how they play this. Osborne and Cameron have already made the classic ‘green shoots/we’re over the worst/the economy is in recovery’ mistake on more than one occasion, and they should avoid doing so again now.

    I say this, because this recovery is likely to remain sluggish and patchy, and may yet go into reverse if we have any further global shocks. Proclaiming a strong recovery also greatly helps Labour.

    ‘Sharing the proceeds of growth’ was a great slogan, but hopelessly mistimed. The government should still be playing the ‘tough conditions and we must remain vigilant as there remain big risks’ scenario all the way up to 2015, to try to head off any chance of voters becoming attracted to a more Labour leaning mindset where austerity has been done and the challenge is to get services working again.

    Overall, this is still very good news for the government, but DC and GO have a relentless ability to get the strategic calls badly wrong, and I’m waiting with interest to see how they play these changing conditions.

    One final thought; if the recovery does take hold, global circumstances are still likely to be dangerous, and the chance of ‘events dear boy’ intervening to help Labour will increase the longer it is until the election. As I’ve often pondered, I wonder if DC may end up regretting the move to 5 year fixed term parliaments. I rather fancy a snap election later in 2013 or spring 2014 might just have been his best chance for a half decent result.

  3. Got a comment in automod – don’t know why, as I don’t think I’ve offended?

  4. I think for the first time since I came on here I am disagreeing with an Anthony post!

    The more obvious explanation (given there was an 11 point lead only 5 days ago and the Observer poll showed no change from their one a month ago) is that we just have two polls at the bottom end of MOE. I don’t think this translates into a 6 or 7 point lead (having been 8 or 9 a week ago with no major news stories since).

    Labour’s lead definitely has fallen since the start of the year but in the space of a week I can’t see it would fall noticeably further.

    I also think on economic confidence this takes a long time to filter into people’s pockets or circumstances (such as job security). Once again I do think there is obviously an improvement in the economy but I doubt that enough people have seen an improvement in their own circumstances to affect the polls.

  5. Spot on Alec.

    In my opinion they need to stick to the ‘we are in a positive but precarious position’ and the ‘dont let Labour ruin it’ line that we have heard before.

    I have said many times before on this site that for the Cons to win the next election they need a recovering economy and a united party.

    I think the latter will be the more difficult of the two.

  6. @Shevii – economic optimism has been rising since the turn of the year.

    I would however, probably agree with you. The Sunday polls had one company showing a 10% lead, with Lab increasing. While this is a company that often seems a bit out of line, it’s still technically a perfectly valid poll that showed the Tories stuck in disastrous mid 20’s, so we shouldn’t necessarily all jump just because YG show a better picture.

  7. Surely the lead is irrelevant, as long as Labour keep polling 38-41 they will regain power. I can see no sign that their support is falling, indeed their share of the vote appears quite robust.

  8. I can’t detect any significant trend either – UKIP is down a few since mid June, Con up a couple, Lab stable). The LD is indeed on the low side. I would like to fear this is due to Alexander’s boasting about proposed massive proposed road-building projects, which is anathema to the environmental wing of the LDs (assuming any are still present in LD VI, er, well there’s me).

  9. Mavro,

    If Labour got 38% and the Tories got 41% (I’m not saying that this is likely) then the Tories would be the largest party in the House of Commons. More realistically, the smaller the lead, the smaller Labour’s majority and the greater the risk they end up either having to go into coalition or govern as a minority.

    On the flipside, if there was a roughly 30-25-10 result in Labour’s favour due to a huge UKIP surge, Labour would have a comfortable majority, because of their lead over the other parties and particularly the Tories.

  10. As I said a while back, Economic Confidence is rising due to “Economic Recovery” News, but I don’t think it’s going to be sustained if standard of living increases don’t follow. And it doesn’t look like standard of living increases are going to follow. After all, Norman Lamont was actually right about the green shoots of recovery, but continuing political mismanagement greatly depressed consumer confidence.

    I am in the camp that thinks Economic Confidence is a strong effect, and is indeed a sufficient lone reason to pull polling numbers around. It either pulls back to the previous result when “times are good”, or drives momentum for change when “times are bad”.

    Oddly we may move into a situation now where an early election is the Conservative’s best chance, with polling potentially closing on Labour before the end of the year. But after that, people will realise that the economic recovery is not going to instantly give them back their old jobs and standard of living, and there could be further strains on the average-household from austerity.

  11. I tend to share AW’s feel for the “reason”-that it is less economic pessimism.

    If it is, it means that there really is a recovery underway, which is affecting people’s lives. They cannot be changing VI on the basis of ONS bulletins about significant GDP growth :-

    a) because they don’t read them.
    b) because we haven’t had any yet.

  12. What is the statistical margin of error for polls in the 10% region on this sample size? The recent average for LD is 10.1% and today’s 8.3% (if you work it out from the numbers in the tables) seems pretty low. It looks like a clear outlier.

  13. RICH

    @” Potential growth of 0.6% for next quarter would be very nice.”

    The interesting thing to me is the GDP growth forecast built into GO’s last Budget.

    For the current FY-2013/14 it was 0.6%-for the whole year.

  14. @Alec

    “Even better news on the economy this morning”

    Yes, I noticed the first five main headlines in the BBC economy page:

    – Firms’ confidence ‘at six-year high
    – US manufacturing in June bounce-back
    – Spain manufacturing ‘stable’ in June
    – UK manufacturing at two-year high
    – Mortgage approvals continue recovery

    I don’t think the coalition has had a better BBC economic page for quite some time (so to speak).

  15. @ Colin

    You have to say on current trends that 0.6% is looking nowhere near what it could be. I guess if things continued the way they are going we are looking at 1.5% to 2% for the whole year and that would be a lot healthier for the Tories. The big question of course is whether it will be maintained.

  16. @COLIN

    “i haven’t dug into the fine detail on HS2, but from what I have read, I’m not convinced.
    And the timescales are so extended, frankly I don’t think the project will ever get off the ground.”


    Did you read Montgomerie’s piece on HS2 yesterday in the times?

    (And yes, you’ve got me reading the Times more often, haha…)

  17. You guys are never going to guess where those two Tory 33s come from- they’re from the Lib Dems!

    Okay, most of it is Tory -> Ukip -> Tory movement pushing the Tories back up into the 31-32% range. But the kicker that pushed them over the top is that the Lib Dem -> Tory churn on those two polls is unusually high.

    Make of that what you will, but I can’t think it’s the welfare cuts in the spending review driving it, since the Lib Dems are the only consistently polling pro-benefits group.

    There’s some interesting stuff beginning to happen in the churn- graphs up in a minute (or whenever Anthony unscreens them.)

  18. Comparing the average of five polls prior to the most recent two (average of the two):

    I think it’s a collection of MoE shifts so far. The most interesting one is the 3.2% change from Lab / Lib to Con / UKIP / Green / Others in the Midlands & Wales.

  19. 5-poll averages through July 1st:

    Lib Dem:

    Ukip have definitely begun to unravel. It will be interesting to see where their new plateau is. The Tories are shooting up past the height of their Thatcher-bump peak, Labour are holding steady or maybe recovering a little, and the Lib Dems are still stuck at the bottom of a swamp but can at least console themselves that they’ll soon have good ole Nigel to keep them company.

  20. SHEVII

    Yes-I think there is every chance his 13/14 forecast will be exceeded.

    In the last Budget he wrote in +1.8% for 14/15.

    We will see if momentum builds-or if Alec & Laszlo are correct & it falters again.


    Thanks-no I didn’t read that.

  22. Adventures in Churn:

    The “Intelligibility is for Losers” graph:

    Tory churn:

    Cons -> Ukip is going down substantially and the Tories are gaining from the retention, as you’d expect. But note also the slight upward momentum in LD -> Con. Probably just noise, but worth keeping an eye on.

    Lab churn:

    Did the Eds’ economic U-turn help? Well, their retention has improved, but they’re getting fewer Lib Dems now. And the retention increase is probably just Ukip coming off the boil. Caveats about crossbreaks and noise apply, but also worth keeping an eye on.

    Lib Dem churn:

    LD -> Lab down, LD -> Ukip down, LD -> Con up. The mind of the Liberal Democrat voter works in mysterious ways. Most of it is probably noise but that LD -> Con flux looks like it might be a trend.

    Not Voting and Don’t Knows:

    Tories static, Lib Dems up, Labour up. Who knows why, but I choose to blame Ed Balls’ new austerity fetish.

  23. Profile/lack of profile and an amazingly lovely June and start to July is what its all about.

    The wind and rain are particularly pleasant in Barney today and would cheer anyone up.

    Even the gurls are saying “Can’t we just stay in today Daddy?”

    [and yes Colin, they DO talk – in their very own, very clear wuffy way.]

  24. I absolutely agree with Alec that Osborne has to be careful not to misplay the economic improvements. Another “march of the makes” style speech would be a recipe for disaster.

    The best possible effect for the Tories of an improving economic picture is to blunt Labour’s latest attack strategy and to cause some potential disunity in the Opposition.

    The Eds are currently telling everyone that they can’t reverse any of the cuts because of the terrible economic situation they will inherit (which of course they blame on the Tories).

    Osborne and Cameron may soon be in a position to retort that in fact what they are bequeathing the next government is a healthy and improving economic situation, unlike the poisoned chalice they inherited (roll out Liam Byrne’s Post-It for another whirl).

    And Labour left-wingers are quite likely to treat improving economic news as a reason why current spending on public sector workers should accelerate to “compensate” for the Tory Cuts. That could exacerbate the current “Labour and the Unions” spat.

  25. So after three years we’ve finally made it back to square one. Celebration times come on!

    “But would they be told which Labour candidate they had voted for?”

    No more or less likely than being told which lobbyists paid for which policies.

    @Neil A
    “which of course they blame on the Tories”

    Which is exactly what the Tories did…

    “bequeathing the next government is a healthy and improving economic situation”

    Which is also what they inherited…

  26. Neil A
    You mention blunting ‘Labour’s attack strategy’. I would hate to see what their retreat one looked like.

    As an aside I saw a visual byte of DA announcing ‘the greatest road building programme for 40 years’ and moaning about how long it took for his friend the PM to drive to Cornwall. I kept thinking of Cecil Parkinson. Can the rest of you remember his ‘greatest road building programme since the Romans’?

  27. @Howard
    “You mention blunting ‘Labour’s attack strategy’. I would hate to see what their retreat one looked like.”

    Fair point.

    ” …..though personally I don’t think policy statements by opposition parties get noticed enough to have any real immediate effect on polls ”

    I think it’s the other way around. It’s certainly become very difficult to notice anything that would pass for a genuine Labour alternative to an unpopular Conservative stance on austerity, even though the diagnosis of the failings of that stance now looks more and more correct. So there’s nothing that might serve to reverse the slow drift of Labour’s ratings to a new norm of 38%. And Labour’s action, in blunting their attack, leaves the door open for the Conservatives to stage a minor recovery.

  28. WwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwWWWWWWWWWNNNN003489333

  29. Sorry about my last post. I was reading the posts with my two year old boy on my lap when he decided to type the previous post.

    What I was actually going to say, before Lachlan got his hands on the keys, was: is this ‘optimism’ we are talking about actual optimism or just less pessimism. There is quite a big difference.


    @”No more or less likely than being told which lobbyists paid for which policies.”

    Whilst accepting the point you make-that isn’t quite “apples & apples”.

    Is there any evidence that “lobbyists” have manipulated the choice of Conservative or Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidates ?



    You shoud do all yer Dad’s posts: yours was jolly good

  32. @COLIN

    “Thanks-no I didn’t read that.”


    Well he seems rather skeptical of HS2 as well. Partly on the grounds that by the time it’s built we’ll.all be tele-conferencing on roll-up OLED screens with 3D projections etc., partly because skeptical of benefits (the French he says are also skeptical and are rowing back massively on their high-speed programme), partly because public transportation will seem rather quaint when we are all getting stuff done in the back of driverless cars, partly because he’s not sure it’ll benefit the North as opposed to sucking more talent and enterprise from the North into London, and partly because the North needs help now, not in 20 years time.

    In regard to the latter, he feels that investing in things like fracking, graphene, 3D printing, high speed broadband, driverless cars, Thorium power, superlife batteries, MOOCs, GM crops, personalized medicine etc. is a better bet than putting all our eggs into the HSR basket.

    Not that I necessarily agree with his argument in entirety, Particularly if we went for Maglev. London to Edinburgh in an hour would be quite something.

    But what’s particularly interesting is the way the economic debate seems to be settling on a kind of consensus. Redwood in the same paper was also accepting the role of government in needing to up infrastructure investment etc.

    With Labour’s recent positioning, things have gone from Labour saying we need to spend on both welfare and infrastructure, while Tories wanted cuts in most areas, to both parties saying we need to spend on infrastructure and less on welfare.

    I.e., both want to spend on the higher multiplier stuff, and cut back on less electorally popular welfare.

    As an aside, Montgomerie’s advocating the strategy I put forward: invest in a portfolio of potentially high-growth areas with lots of spin-off.


    Thanks for that.

    I would broadly agree with him.

    I think the killer on HS2 is the timescale & he is right to say it destroys any case built on today’s circumstances.

  34. Paulcroft
    Don’t encourage him. He has already ruined my ipad by throwing it down the stairs when I stupidly left it out.

  35. @Col

    Well, it doesn’t necessarily kill it outright as a long-term investment, but yeah, it’s probably not the ideal more immediate boost that is needed. Few days ago on radio five construction industry representatives etc. We’re arguing for more repairs and maintenance -rather than letting the potholes build up – as one aspect of getting a quick boost…

  36. We’re / were

  37. @Carfrew

    We’ve had Maglev on the West Coast Main Line before (well, next to it). Some 30 years ago, it was the link between Birmingham International Station and Airport. A project at the cutting edge of technology, designed to appeal to politicians and get them to spend (in relative terms) a great deal of money. Hence it got the nod.

    It kept breaking down, and in due course was replaced by the next leap forward in technology, which continues to operate to this day. Namely, a bus. And very efficient it is too.

    Maybe there are lessons there.

  38. Well cars kept breaking down at first. It was new tech. Chinese do ok with their maglev and are rolling out longer lines. Our tilting train in the seventies broke down, we abandoned the tech, now the Italians sell it back to us.

  39. Definite narrowing of the lead probably due to Tories being on-message,economic good news and Labour going AWOL.


    A salutary warning about glamour capital projects which sound good on paper, only to become the next piece of rusting Industrial History.

    Spanish local politicians seem to have been experts in this field.

  41. Has anyone ever tried simply asking people whether they’ve changed their mind about their vote recently, and why?

  42. “A salutary warning about glamour capital projects which sound good on paper, only to become the next piece of rusting Industrial History.”

    It’s a warning about how not to abandon once you’ve made the investment and worked out what’s wrong, only to let others pick up where we left off and sell it back to us eg Pendolinos

  43. We’ve abandoned loads of stuff like that. Eg computers….

  44. Wes
    As the differences in VI have been so minor for so long, i can’t see that much would be learned. The UKIP ‘surge started in March and seems to have been mainly at the expense of Labour. As to reasons, just ask Mrs Duffy, I imagine.

  45. Can anyone answer my question from earlier? It didn’t have a question mark which is probably why it hasn’t been answered.

  46. Phil Haines

    I think you will find that it is a cable propelled system at the Airport now, not a bus – very efficient as well- the Maglev was retired 20 years ago

    I think it was maintenance costs rather than unreliability that was the main problem – we used it a lot and never had any problems

    Again something for Britain to be proud of but we get sneering comments – no wonder we never manage to implement technology

  47. Well,as a labour supporter,If I were to be asked why I was going to vote labour
    Tomorrow,my answer would have to be that I do not have a clue.Apparently
    We are going to support all Osbournes austerity measures,crack down hard
    On Welfare.etc etc.In other words we have no policies of our own and no
    Credible vision of the future and a shadow cabinet and leader who seem to be
    Invisible.And we wonder why the labour lead is down to 5%.

    Can anyone answer my question from earlier? It didn’t have a question mark which is probably why it hasn’t been answered.


    Don’t you mean the iPad thing? Dunno, no one threw stuff down the stairs at our place when we were kids…

  49. “Again something for Britain to be proud of but we get sneering comments – no wonder we never manage to implement technology”


    Our attitude towards engineering is legendary. Someone buys an asset when cheap in a recession and sells it for profit when prices rise and they think they are a genius. Whereas if engineers develop something truly challenging and revolutionary with long term potential it’s seen as just… Engineering. Like fixing washing machines or something…

    If lefty were around he might have summat to say about it…

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