The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now online here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%, giving Labour a seven point lead that’s in line with YouGov’s recent averages.

The Labour party maintain their traditional lead on the issue of the NHS, they are trusted by 29% to the Conservatives’ 19%. Asked more specifically about issues of patient care and NHS finances, Labour also have a ten point lead on NHS patient care (31% to 21% for the Tories), but a slightly lower lead on ensuring the NHS has sound finances and is value for money (27% to the Conservatives on 23%).

47% of people think the NHS has got worse under the coalition, with only 12% thinking it has improved. People’s perception of what happened to the NHS under Labour is somewhat better, but still negative – 43% think it got worse, compared to 22% better. Asked about cover-ups 41% of people think the last Labour government probably did cover up failings at hospitals for political reasons, 31% think they probably did not. However the main blame for failings in the NHS not being discovered earlier is placed not upon politicians, but upon hospital management.

There were also a couple of questions on compulsory plain packaging for cigarettes, still supported by 58% of people with 26% opposed. Asked why they thought the coalition delayed their proposals to introduce plain packaging 25% think it was for the quoted reasons of wanting more evidence it would work, 60% think they have been leant upon by the tobacco companies (though as I normally say on questions like this, on Cameron on gay marriage and Miliband on Trade Unions, I think it generally reflects a cynicism towards politicians’ motives rather than anything issue specific). Only 18% think it is acceptable for Lynton Crosby to advise the Conservative at the same time as he works for other commercial clients.

A general warning here, which I’ve made before, is to be careful about confusing support/oppose in polls with salience. Most people don’t notice most political news stories, especially rather insidery ones about the workings of government (and the people who are most likely to notice will have the most fixed political views). So if you ask people if they think that the PM’s advisor should be working for other companies too people say no… but if you ask people who Lynton Crosby is only 11% know who he is, what he does and something about him. Ask people what news stories they noticed this week cigarette plain packages, Lynton Crosby and so on don’t even show up (suggesting they must have got below 1.5%). Doesn’t mean it can’t be an issue of course, that it won’t get noticed if it has legs and Labour can keep it going past the impending firewall of the royal baby (there are questions on that to in the poll if you can bring yourself to care), but that’s not necessarily an easy thing to do!

People will answer polling questions if asked (they’re helpful like that!)… but remember it doesn’t mean they necessarily had an opinion before the pollster forced them to have one, nor that they were even aware of the story.


145 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 39, LD 10, UKIP 11”

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  1. Mr nameless

    Ha, you got there before me

  2. On the subject of inequality, I saw an interesting stat, apparently the world’s richest 200 have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion

  3. Unfortunate timing for labour with things heating up over Crosby.Media already
    In meltdown and it isn’t even born yet.

  4. @crossbat11

    Just happened upon a blogger who has a series of pieces about how surveys often elict opinions which people don’t actually have. This page treats word associations:

    h
    ttp://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics-29-how-not-to-frame-survey-questions-ctd/

    Pollsters need to have an understanding of the nuances of language to match their statistical expertise. A more philosophic approach would lead to higher quality, but risks jamming the production line I suppose.

  5. Does anyone else sense a classic case of Crosby’s ‘dog whistle’ politics around Cameron’s campaign around online pornography? Those with strong views against, potentially traditional con voters maybe swayed to Ukip, would be all in favour and those with no strong views will be have no impact on. [Snip]

  6. @ richard in norway

    “On the subject of inequality, I saw an interesting stat, apparently the world’s richest 200 have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion”

    Extreme wealth does concern me, as it does have an affect on the worlds economic performance. I recently heard a leading economist talk about this subject and they said that the concentration of wealth was a factor in the current recession. This makes sense to me, as if this money was spread more equally, it would be spent by more people and create more jobs. If it is sat in tax haven bank accounts, held in the form of gold or investments, it is not doing as good for the worlds economy.

    How you deal with concentration of wealth and poverty on a worldwide basis, I am not sure. Time for a socialist solution, in re-introducing wealth taxes that would work ?

  7. Crossbat – put it this way, roughly speaking I think there are three angles to public opinion on any party political issue

    1) Is whether people support it or not, whether they think that law should change, that tax should be introduced, this person should resign and so on

    2) Is the salience, do people actually care about that issue, are people even aware of it, is it more or less of a priority than other things

    3) Is how it relates to and influences broader party images and perceptions.

    If you go from the top down, number 1 is easiest to measure, the most common in polls, and probably the least important in terms of how it actually changes voting intention or perceptions of parties. Number 3 is verging on impossible to measure, hence we rarely attempt it, but is probably by far the most important in terms of deciding elections.

    Of course, this all depends on the rather narrow view of polling as something that explains voting intention and who will win elections. That’s a perfectly acceptable view, not least because it’s MY view – public opinion matters BECAUSE elections matter, and public opinion decides elections.

    The alternative view is that public opinion is intrinsically important in a democracy, and what people think about policy A or policy B matters anyway due to the very principles of democracy, regardless of how ignorant people are or how transitory those opinions are.

  8. With the The Duchess of Cambridge being the first women ever to be about to have a baby we can expect less important issues [snip] to be ignored by the Media

  9. The BBC are running a survey on what you would buy as a traditional gift for a royal sprog.

    My suggestion to keep up the family tradition immediate tax exempt status.

    Just watched two male middle aged BBC reporters spend 5 minutes discussing the merits of induction that’s good use of the licence fee and no mistake.

  10. R huckle

    Where I disagree with you is in viewing wealth taxes as socialist, I would see them as an integral part of a right wing free market meritocratic economic system, as opposed to a right wing feudal system

  11. How might the very rich harm society without themselves being very wicked?

    One way, perhaps, as per R Huckle is by trying to safeguard their wealth by squirreling it away in places where it does no good.

    Another way could be by spending their money on things that most don’t need, thus diverting resources to the production of luxuries – so London becomes full of their palaces rather than decent housing for the working poor.

    And I suspect that the sight of all this wealth diverts the well educated from the pursuit of careers which I regard as admirable towards others which offer higher rewards and are less socially useful.

  12. Well Kate can be thankful that she ain’t Norwegian, cos Norwegian baby’s are born with skis on their feet rather than a silver spoon in their mouth

  13. I suspect this baby will get both the skis & the spoon.

  14. @ Anthony Wells

    Is there any proper research on the influence of the sequencing questions? (There is a US paper I found but the methodology is distinctly dodgy). I suppose there would be differences between telephone and on-line polls too.

    In all my research I have found that people were tempted to give the socially expected (or just the opposite) answer. However, when further, closer to their governing values or practical issues, respondents became clearly uncomfortable with their previous answers, but if they couldn’t (or were too embarrassed to ask) they moved to the middle ground, that is, compromised between their “real” thoughts and the logical consequences of their previous answers.

    Unfortunately, such observations, cannot be used in a valid way when the narrative is provided. But, in semi-structured interviews, there was a clear consequence of the starting discussion and if the interviewee was relaxed enough, when returning to the issue, they often changed the value of their response.

  15. Lazslo – don’t know, sorry (though intrigued by the idea that social desirability bias in responses could reduce during the survey as people got uncomfortable “maintaining the fiction”.)

  16. @”apparently the world’s richest 200 have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion”

    Two thoughts occur :-

    1) If you are going to make comparisons of wealth across national boundaries-from poorest/underdeveloped to richest/developed economies; that sort of stat is inevitable.
    But it is pretty meaningless, and begs questions about the reasons for such international economic disparities, which will include things like differences in natural resources, and differences in governance.

    2) If you wish to make trans national comparisons of the effects of individual wealth , then you have to factor in the effects of international , high impact philanthropy.
    The budget of the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation , for example, does not fall far short of that of WHO.

  17. @Steve

    “The BBC are running a survey on what you would buy as a traditional gift for a royal sprog.”

    A paternity test

  18. Statgeek

    Lol, that was evil

  19. Let’s hope it’s not ginger!

  20. I heard another BBC Talking Head wittering on about how allowing the first born to inherit the crown what ever it’s sex ( was bringing the Royal Family into the 21st century!

    Yes indeed it is a major step for democracy for the choice of our hereditary head of state to now be expanded to both male and female members of the Windsor Clan.

    I predict it will be a boy or a girl with a 100% confidence level subject to the normal MOE.

  21. @Mr Nameless

    The royal sprog’s father stole my birthday some time ago; it is annoying, but if the monarchy and I both survive long enough, I’m hoping for my very own Bank Holiday – so look on the bright side!

  22. All this fuss about the birth of one baby. My republican feelings only grow stronger. We are in the 21st century and the majority still want to be ruled by a family who have obtained their position following various wars over hundreds of years. Good for tourism trade, but we really should be looking to move on.

  23. Kitsune
    Snap, he stole mine too!

  24. @Everyone
    Is this the right site for being disrespectful of our Monarchy?
    Poll after Poll shows this country wants to keep its highly respected (mostly) Monarchy as our Head of State.
    The alternatives are just too horrendous to even think about – for this country anyway!
    And at least I used the word ‘poll’ -lol

  25. “Is this the right site for being disrespectful of our Monarchy?”

    nah, this for sickening grovelling, here. You want down the corridor.

  26. @RHUCKLE – you deliberately mislead people by use of the word ‘ rule’ when you know full well we aren’t actually ‘ruled’ by our Monarch – Largely a Ceremonial Figurehead – a bit like a Lord Mayor etc –
    Its largely symbolic and the government of the day ‘rules’ in the Monarchs name.
    Excellent Head of State for the UK – it might not be for others but for us it is a most excellent system and our Queen has ‘reigned over us’ with total and utter devotion to duty – can’t fault her!

  27. @Sine

    I’m a monarchist, but the paternity gags still stands. If it’s disrespectful, please explain.

  28. @Sine

    It’s the right site for being disrespectful about most things, get with the programme!!

    (Ps, don’t tell Anthony….)

  29. @ Anthony Wells

    Yes, I can’t find anything either. But I experienced a number of times. There were interviewees, who kind of wanted to rewrite the interview at the end (I know the difference to a survey).

    So, let’s say starting with the strategic priorities with a senior manager (although it is an interview, they get a clue card for some questions). One is: developing employee skills and commitments is a key strategic objective of this firm. 5-point likert scale, so “strongly agree”. Then reducing labour cost is very important here. Now the “strongly agree” is more difficult, but still get it or “Agree”. Then a more complicated question: “Developing new skills in-house is better than buying them in” and suddenly we have a problem so I get a middle of the road answer.

    Then the interview turns more to a narrative style and you learn (well, since the firm gave the headcount for the last five years, you knew it) that actually a firm is under extreme pressure to show improvement in the bottom line in the short term, so they were firing people, they actually can obtain the necessary skills from the market except for about 30 employees (of the close to 1,000) and anyway they try to compete now in price. While there is a claim that once things get better, training and commitment will be reinstated, but gradually you learn that it has never been the case anyway. The person wasn’t lying but his narrative was constantly adjusted.

    There are four things here: 1) there is a socially expected answer (employees as key assets), 2) there is a genuine conviction (at least in this case) that it is right; 3) Getting embarrassed as the evidence does not support the initial claims; 4) a quickly assembled new narrative that is in the middle of the road.

    In an interview it is relatively easy to pick up (with questions such as: can you give a recent examples, has it changed in the last 12 months, is it likely to change in the next twelve months) – I don’t know how it is possible to do it in a survey.

  30. @GRAHAM

    “Gallup did give Labour a 5% lead in Oct/Nov 78 – but this as after Callahan had already announced that there would be no Autumn78 election!”

    ————-

    Must admit I did have the impression the lead might have been slightly bigger. All the same it carries with it another political lesson: if carpe diem is important in choosing election dates, then try not to shoot yourself in the foot by ruling things out…

  31. R in N

    That stasistic is interesting about the richest 200 enough to make most people think how can that be, how unfair.
    But I often wonder if people on average wage in this country or maximum benefit realise they earn more than billions of people around the world.
    With millions of Indians earning less than 40p a day or thousands dying of starvation in Africa, should we feel as guilty as those 200 billionaires about inequality or is inequality only for the wealthy.

  32. @JOHN PILGRIM

    “Concerns” but does not in fact ask this question, rather asking “Are you daft or politically ill-educated or misinformed enough to think that NHS performance in any governmental period is caused by that government alonge, and therefore willing to entertain our readers by putting the blame for long term strucftural or resource deficits on either Labour or the Conservatives”
    More meaningful, i would have thought, to ask about specific measures enacted by a party in Government, whether pollee thinks it led to improvement or worsening of a specific aspect of NHS performance.”

    ——————–

    Yes, I take your point. I was at the time more focused on meeting the challenge of keeping AW happy and the board all harmonious and stuff when the parties themselves keep attacking each other with negative campaigning which the media amplifies and then the polling questions naturally reflect these narratives.

    It’s like the political world is conspiring to give us mod-tastic material to discuss!!

    I confess I didn’t initially spot issues in the polling questions themselves, and was a bit more preoccupied with Ashes/Le Tour/The Open, but you and others seemed to have that covered anyway…

  33. Sine
    They can be disrespectful about me if they like.
    The Queens Husband has made a career out of it.

    Let’s face it a dysfunctional family who are provided FOC 10 Palaces umpteen million a year voluntary or no tax paying status are guaranteed wealth and comfort for their entire lives just for being born in or marrying into the right family are not especially entitled to any more respect than anyone else.

    I have met a couple of members of the Royal Family at Work and on a personal level they seem pleasant enough

  34. @ Sine

    I think you forget the information that came out that Prince Charles was briefed about government intentions/policies, before they were announced. Not saying that Prince Charles would have been able to stop the government going ahead, but he is a powerful ‘lobbying’ force.

    You say ‘rule’ is misleading and instead the word reign should be used about the monarchy, but actually I think that the Royal family have more influence on government policy than many would realise.

    I am not anti the Queen or any other member of the current Royal family, as mostly they do a very good job. The Queen has served then UK and Commonwealth very well from a young age. But this does not alter my view that at some point the UK needs to modernise and separate its accountable political system from the Monarchy.

    There is no reason why we could not still have a Royal Family, with less responsibilities and keep the political system the same with a cabinet government run by a PM. We don’t need to elect a President as a replacement for a monarch. The commonwealth would obviously need to be consulted and I expect that many countries would want to make changes to their constitutions anyway. At some point I would expect that Australia will become a republic.

  35. The alternatives are just too horrendous to even think about – for this country anyway!


    The equivalent of a Mary Robinson. First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights doesn’t seem all that horrendous to me.

  36. Turk

    In a word Yes

  37. @Turk

    “But I often wonder if people on average wage in this country or maximum benefit realise they earn more than billions of people around the world.”

    Indeed. Try this statistic. Almost everyone in the world is richer than the poorest person.

  38. STEVE

    And George Washington did a better job than George the 3rd

  39. Good thread, I thought, but needs a bit of lightening up. Here we go then.

    COLIN
    Blimey, you don’t half do your research, when you get dug in! Sombath, and now the Hmong! Jesus!
    Mybey I can lever this into a wider and more close-to-home argument:
    By contrast with Sombath, who is not in fact a dissident, and whose disappearance is a tragic loss to Laos as well as to his wife and family, Prof. Li Quiao of Peking University, has just appeared on CCTV, as has the senior economist of the Chinese Agricultural Development Bank (sorry can’t give his name,, but the station site might be worth exploring, if you’re up for it) to discuss the Chinese government’s decision to liberalise interest rates in the legitimised banking system. Both explored the role of the shadow banking system in providing 70% of the financing of private enterprise, and the importance of moving investement away from big, State-sponsored enterprises to SMEs – not, may I add the usual conference UN claptrap about how important they are, but spelling out chapter and verse on the need in the Chinese economy to now, in Prof. Quiao’s words, to shift the economic development from quantitative to qualitative development.
    What struck me particularly,, aside from the sheer competence of the interviewer and these top Chinese economists, was the excellence and range of their use of English in pursuing a vital economic debate.
    Pour revenir a nos moutons, the Laos authorities need to take a page out of the Chinese book in recognising, as the latter have been doing, the need for intellectual debate in economic policy making.
    On the Hmong (generic term for the hill tribes of mainly southern Laos, of which there are about thirty different language and ethnic groups in the two southernmost provinces alone), who with their Vietnamese cousins in the Central Highlands, sided with the Americans in the Vietnam war…. they are still taking the consequences. Land loss to rubber plantations, hydropower and mining, mainly Vietnamese, merely adds to a centuries long fight for lebensraum.
    The only relevance I can find for this in this forum is that of the relevance of our intervention, if any, and (in respect of TOH’s rightful concerns with equality) to ponder – as one does – what are the proper instituions and what are their proper role in relation to a situation which might be compared with the behaviour of the Vikings in Yorkshire in the 10th Century. Who the hell do we think we are? As the banner waved by the English guys at the Lions match in Hong Kong procllaimed: “The Chinese – great bunch of lads”.
    What also fascinated me was the quality of English, its extension into debate on a hugely complex question of economic development, that these guys were handling.
    Who, i ask myself, is trading what for what?

  40. New thread :-)

  41. JOHN

    THanks.

    Not quite sure why you express such surprise at my questions.

    Anyone extolling the virtues of “equality” from a lovation in Laos of all places, really does invite questions on what that word actually means in that country.

    The state abduction of an internationally acclaimed community development worker prompts the suggestion that equality in a one party state is not extended to it’s critics.

    With regard to the Hmong-your comment that “they are still taking the consequences. ” of their fight against the Pathet Lao, just emphasises the point that in that one party state, political disagreement excludes whole ethnic communities from the “equal access” which you were extolling.

    As TOH says, “equality” is a nice idea, but not actually feasible-least of all in a single-party socialist republic.

  42. I should mention that I presented the stat about the richest 200 without political or moral conclusions, interesting to see how some people reacted to it

  43. @RICHARD IN NORWAY
    “I should mention that I presented the stat about the richest 200 without political or moral conclusions, interesting to see how some people reacted to it”

    ———–

    I didn’t react at all!! That’s because I am still reeling from Turk’s reply, which seems to carry no understanding of the idea that people on average incomes might have to pay rather more for some things than elsewhere, and that a billionaire might have rather more disposable income, and that many are indeed aware that people starving in Africa don’t have much, which is why they give to charity, instead of, for example, amassing property portfolios and putting up prices for others…

  44. COLIN
    Appreciation, rather than surprise. As to ” “equality” is a nice idea, but not actually feasible-least of all in a single-party socialist republic”, the situation of Tibetans and Moslem tribes in China, also a single state socialist republic, is, as in Laos, one which assumes the equality due to minority peoples to be one of access to the State’s vision of universal systems of education elc. That’s a difficult one to counter, demanding, as it seems to be, of opposition to such aspects of “reform” as physical regrouping, notably of tiny hill villagers practising swidden agriculture into “consolidated” villages with access to electricity, piped water, schools and health clinics: and goodbye to holistic social and religious ties to a hereditary environment.

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