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. I very much doubt there’ll be another war with Argentina! That didn’t exactly go well for their government last time.

    I think the national mood has changed and another war wouldn’t be very popular anyway. At the time of the Falklands the UK hadn’t fought a proper war since Korea and there was a sense of bringing pride back to Britain’s military.

    By this point, we’ve been at war for twelve years and I think it would be suicide (both militarily and politically) to attempt another one.

    Fortunately, Cameron’s announcement of no weapons to Syrian rebels probably puts paid to that idea for now.

    Incidentally, have any polls been done on attitudes towards Afghanistan recently?

  2. @Postageincluded

    I don’t dissent from anything that you have said. I was really making a different point – namely that if Cameron had opted to form a minority Government and tried – say 18 months later – to call another election, Labour and the LibDems could have combined at that juncture to form a coalition to avoid such an election.

  3. AW

    I’m sorry but I also thought the question on the Keogh report was misleading

  4. I think there’s a case to be made that it’s a bad polling question, all issues of partisanship aside. If people are blaming the Coalition for something then surely we want to know about it, regardless of whether or not the Coalition could actually be to blame for the problem?

  5. AW

    I think why individuals provide a link to Guardian reports and the same would be the case for Times Independent or Telegraph stories is because they tend to be well researched and based in reality.

    Public Opinion is to some degree influenced by what they see and read in the media .

    [If people had kept doing it for any of them I’d have done the same, it’s nothing to do with the Guardian per se (I rather like the Guardian) – it’s just so happened that the people who kept bloody doing it always chose the Guardian – AW}

  6. I don’t think that the question on Keogh was partisan, it was merely badly researched. It happens all the time. Can you remember, when all the newspapers said that there was an EU debate in Parliament because of the number of people in the petition? Well, it wasn’t, it was a private member bill.

    So, I just think it was sloppy and not biased intentionally.

  7. Wait, wasn’t David Nuttall’s EU referendum debate back in… October 2011, maybe..? authorised because of the e-petition response? This was the one back when Cameron and Hague opposed a referendum, not the most recent one.

    It definitely wasn’t a PMB, although I think it might have been a Backbench Business debate rather than one held in Government time.

  8. Graham – that’s rather a debatable point, and one which we will now never know the correct answer to!

    Pre Fixed Term Parliament Act the PM had the right to ask the Queen for a dissolution, and apart from specific circumstances the Queen would agree. According to the Lascelles Principles the Queen would not reject a request for a dissolution unless (a) the existing Parliament was still vital and (b) the monarch could be confident of “finding another Prime Minister who could carry on his Government, for a reasonable period, with a working majority in the House of Commons” (my emphasis. There was originally a third criteria about the state of the economy, but this has apparently been dropped from cabinet office guidance)

    Now, one could argue that those criteria had been met… but I don’t think the palace would want to have argued them! It would be some step for the monarch to refuse a dissolution, and I think they’d have gone with the precedent of 1974 (certainly according to Peter Hennessey the palace’s view in 1974 was that while they would not have welcomed a request from Wilson for an immediate dissolution… but had one come the palace would have been hard pressed to refuse it.)

    Of course, there are arguments both ways, and now we’ll never know. Personally I think it was edging into the constitutional grey area, but that in practice the palace would have granted Cameron a dissolution had he requested one as the sitting PM at the head of a minority Tory govt.

  9. I don’t know how you separate “the NHS has deteriorated during Labour’s rule” (well, all the papers have been saying so, so yes, and since the population has been increasing with immigration and put a strain on the service, I suppose so) from I think the NHS deteriorating during Labour rule was the government’s, therefore Labour’s, fault. Ditto since 2010 for the coalition.

  10. @Graham

    That’s a very interesting point, that I hadn’t understood. But it does really depend on a constitutional point. To quote The Monarchy’s offical website:

    “The Prime Minister of the day may request the Sovereign to grant a dissolution of Parliament at any time…..In normal circumstances, when a single-party government enjoys a majority in the House of Commons, the Sovereign would not refuse, for the government would then resign and the Sovereign would be unable to find an alternative government capable of commanding the confidence of the Commons….”

    So it is a question of whether some putative LibLab Coalition would, in the royal opinion, command the confidence of the Commons.

    For comparison, when Harold Wilson requested dissolution in 1974 Brenda granted it, despite the Conservatives and Liberals being just 7 seats short of a majority. 2010 was less clear-cut. Lib+Lab alone only commanded 315 seats, 8 seats short if you allow that Sinn Fein never attend. Yes, the Nationalists and one or two independents could have been offered inducements to join in, just as Heath might have made peace with the Unionists in ’74. But I doubt if Brenda would have made a fool of herself by backing such an idea and refusing Cameron’s request – the precedent is too clear and she’s much too well advised.

  11. @AW

    Dash it all, Mr Wells, slow down and give the old and confused time to respond!

  12. PostageIncluded – I hope the monarchy website doesn’t say that anymore. Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act it’s no longer true!

  13. @AW
    Actually it does. This is the link.

    See, I can be quick when I want to be!

  14. I would think it highly unlikely DC would go to the polls before may 2015 after all why should he.
    At present although behind Labour in the polls it’s only by a few percentage points, so realistically the Tories could hope to close that gap by 2015 and the recent polling evidence gives this idea at least some credence.

    It’s certainly not that much of a risk waiting to 2015 from the Tory perspective, it now seems that EM will remain a unpopular figure with the voter , so come election time it will be Labour policy and how attractive that seems to the voters that will count.

    By 2015 the ecomomic picture should be a more positive picture or at least better than it is now, however the danger for the Tories is if the economic picture has not improved or got worse and Labour bring forward a range of policies that resound with the public and are just not a continuation of coalition policy.

    On balance waiting to the 2015 is by far the best option for the Tories and their coalition partners and must seem from there point of view a much better idea than calling a early election even if that was possible..

  15. Anthony.
    I think I read years ago that the Queen made it clear that Heath would not have been granted another dissolution after the Feb 28th 1974 GE, when he failed to answer his own question, about who governs Britain?

    Not you Ted!

  16. @ Laszlo

    “I don’t think that the question on Keogh was partisan, it was merely badly researched. It happens all the time”

    I think this particular question must have been discussed within YG. Someone is bound to have asked why the answers did not include the option of ‘ the current coalition government’. Perhaps it was thought that the question only concerned problems not being found earlier, so this would be about problems that occured sometime ago i.e not within the last 3 years. Also that the coalition had set up the Keogh report, so it would seem odd to include them under this particular question.

    This particular polling on page 6 is the worst I have seen from YG as it should ask about political issues of the day in a way that looks politically neutral. To me it was pretty obvious that it was trying to see whether people blamed Labour, without even bothering to see whether some blamed the coalition, given that Keogh looked at issues within the last few years.

  17. R Huckle

    I suppose YouGov could always ask it again rephrased now we have a good idea that the author is less than chuffed .
    Any chance Anthony?

  18. @AW

    Although, come to think of it, this is not wrong from the Royal POV. The fixed term act in reality is a constraint on the PM, not on the Monarch, so her position is unaffected. Cameron still has to make the formal request, in 2015 or whenever. Her acceptance may be a mere formality, but then that has been the usual case for a long time, and she is reserving the right to that formality.

    I’m very much against fixed terms, so I’m glad to see Brenda is playing the long game here, republican that I am!

  19. Chris – you’re right (at least, according to Peter Hennessey again). The Palace’s view was that Heath had already had one go, if had stayed PM, gone to the Commons and lost a vote of no confidence and then requested a dissolution the Queen would have refused.

    PostageIncluded –

    I’m not so sure. The Fixed Term Parliament Act says:

    3 Dissolution of Parliament. (1)The Parliament then in existence dissolves at the beginning of the 17th working day before the polling day for the next parliamentary general election as determined under section 1 or appointed under section 2(7).
    (2)Parliament cannot otherwise be dissolved.

    Again, the emphasis is mine, but that reads to me that the royal personal power to dissolve Parliament is removed.

  20. @ChriLane

    I don’t remember that being an issue at the time – but it is quite a long time ago. I do definitely remember Harold Wilson huffing and puffing about Heath “squatting” in Number 10, on the excuse that the Tories had more votes than Labour, if not more seats.

    Meanwhile, Heath tried to cobble something together with Thorpe – but it wouldn’t wash with the Liberal Party, any more than a deal with Brown would have washed in 2010. I almost wish it had, in a way, given the subsequent fall out from Wilson/Callaghan government. And the trial of Jeremy Thorpe would have had some extra zest if he’d been Foreign Secretary.

  21. @AW

    Very interested in that. It certainly looks as if no trip to the Palace is needed as far as Parliament is concerned. Perhaps Brenda’s been busy with family stuff recently and hasn’t had time to update her website?

    But, seriously, if this removes even the formality of Royal privelege it is remarkable, and especially so as it was instituted by a Tory government.

  22. Anthony & Postageincluded,

    I am aware of the constitutional backdrop to this but remain far less convinced than both of you that Cameron would have been granted a Dissolution in the particular circumstances being considered.
    Re- 1974. Whilst Wilson was granted his request in September for a further Dissolution barely six months on from the February election, I am far from persuaded that would have happened had Ted Heath, Jeremy Thorpe together with the Ulster parties and/or SNP come to an agreement or working arrangement in the interim. Such a combination would have had a majority – though ,of course , it did not happen.
    Going back further still to 1924. When Ramsay Macdonald’s first minority Labour Govt fell on a vote of censure the PM asked George v for a Dissolution. However, the King only agreed to his request after holding discussions with Baldwin and Asquith – who both indicated that they were not in a position to form an administration.
    This leads me to the view that in the circumstances of a Hung Parliament the Monarch would wish to exhaust all possibilities of an alternative Government being formed from the existing Parliament before acceding to the PM’s request.
    At the end of the day the waters are not that well chartered – so who knows?

  23. @ Statgeek

    MAD lead at 7.2% (catching up with the polls). Labour lead over five polls of 6.6%. Definitely not polldrums, but hardly exciting either.

    I have updated my own data sheet, and analysed it in a different way (YouGov for 2013).

    The message still is nothing to see basically. Labour have been at a level since about the 24th/25th of June and the Conservatives also levelling since the 7th July.

    The correlation between the Conservative vote and UKIP vote looks statistically significant at -0.61 (standard error 0.11). A 1 % confidence interval requires a correlation coefficient of +/- 0.46 based on the sample size of 30. No other correlations are significant.

  24. Graham – there are certainly two sides to the argument, I have a view of what would have happened, but its a grey area.

    In thinking about it of course, we may not be right in saying we’ll never know. A lot of the precedents we know from the eventual release of documents under the 30 year rule. It may be in 2040 we DO find out how the palace would have been minded to act in certain circumstances.

    Long wait though ;)

  25. @AW

    I hope I’ll be there to see it, but it’s a bit of a longshot, lets say. And I doubt that I’ll be allowed access to events going on above, given where I’m going.

  26. “I think I have been pretty neutral in my comments on this thread and have not crept into any debate in a partisan way. But you cannot have a discussion on polling and how this is affected, without going into some of the current affairs issues that may be relevant.”


    The minute I saw the polling questions on the NHS I decided it would be a fast track to moderation to get involved, because the polling concerns things like which party may be to blame for possible NHS failings or cover-ups, and any discussion of blame issues is liable to see copious postal vaping.

  27. @Graham

    I take your point. In effect, precedent is not always enough and a judgement might have to be made.

    The judgement in 1974 could not fail to be influenced by the Liberals’ previous rejection of a pact with Heath, and Conservatives’ loss of support in the election. Had Cameron formed a minority government in 2010, the royal judgement in late 2010 would have been informed by a very similar set of circumstances.

    I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% certain that he would have been granted a dissolution, and after our discussion (for which many thanks) I am a little less certain. But I do still think the odds are such that it was worth him taking the risk of a minority Government, rather than a coalition.

    When the Tories are put out of power there will be memoirs and we may find out more about how the Coaltion came to be.I hope to be around to read some of them.

  28. I suspect that the decisions about HMQ dissolving Parliament follow the usual nod and wink conventions. HMQ will dissolve Parliament should the PM request, but the PM will only request when HMQ makes it clear that she will be willing to dissolve Parliament. Very Yes, Minister, but it avoids the awkward situation of HM Government being in contention with HMQ and the whole thing being resolved by the Courts (which report to HMQ).

    In the current situation I don’t believe it makes political sense for the Government to go anywhere near an early election – having made a case for a fixed term Parliament it would surely be a massive vote loser for them. There are of course two situations where this wouldn’t be relevant, when they were so far ahead that even a gratuitous u-turn of this magnitude wouldn’t lose them the election, or if they were so far behind that things couldn’t get worse.

    The current polling shows neither of these situations…

  29. While watching a jaw dropping event (Champs Elysees) I would like to know on what grounds the Agreement could be said to be at an end? It seems some here need to refresh their memories on coalition politics.

  30. The sheep

    It depends what they know, if Callaghan had known that the winter of discontent was coming he would have gone early, similarly if folk in govt can see dark clouds on the horizon……….

  31. @RiN

    I think “something might turn up” usually beats “let’s get out before something smelly hits the fan”. Especially if it’s combined with a year or two more of being in power.

  32. Yeah and backbenchers always fear losing their seats even if their party wins

  33. GRAHAM . Good Evening to you.

    Ted Heath lost the Ulster Unionists. He betrayed them by closing Stormont and insisting on quaint things like Universal Suffrage replacing property qualifications for voting in the north of the country of Ireland, followed by power sharing.

  34. Ted Heath also lost the Tory party, to be fair to the UUP. He’s much maligned by history but I don’t really know if anyone else would have fared better with the circumstances he had.

  35. Ted Heath also lost the Tory party, to be fair to the UUP. He’s much maligned by history but I don’t really know if anyone else would have fared better with the circumstances he had.

    Although I was little boy, in shorts and with mucky knees in the seventies, I have read enough to think that this period was very volatile. The dying twitches of the post war consensus, with the difficult birth of neo-liberalism emerging (at least intellectually in the early to mid seventies), would be tough for anyone to govern.

    At the moment I get the feeling we are in a similar mode. We have had the massive failure of our capitalism, yet nothing new has emerged yet. 2015, like 2010, will probably be a good election to lose.


    “I think “something might turn up” usually beats “let’s get out before something smelly hits the fan”. Especially if it’s combined with a year or two more of being in power.”


    Depends what position you are in. If you are behind in polling, not much choice but to wait for something better. If you are ahead, waiting risks something bad happening. Blair and Thatcher went early. Callaghan waited, and got hit by a second oil price spike which set inflation off again and led to the strikes…

    “Ted Heath also lost the Tory party, to be fair to the UUP. He’s much maligned by history but I don’t really know if anyone else would have fared better with the circumstances he had.”


    Heath’s performance came in two acts. The first was your typical boom and bust as they started down the neolib road. As he sought to reflate he got hit by the beginnings of the oil crisis, which caused nightmares also for Labour and Thatch. Thatch’s polling also suffered until the rather major interventions of SDP and Falklands…

  38. @Carfrew

    Callaghan never really had a lead in the polls, bar a couple of weeks honeymoon immediately after he became PM. But even then the previous election was just a year and a half before. Was it really an option then? The clearer case was late 1978, and a lot of people made it at the time – but the polls general showed labour behind.

    I think I agree with you though that in general it’s best to go early. Somewhere hidden in the depths of my hard drive is a little graph that plots Length of Parliament against Swing Away from the Government. There is a definite correlation, but I wouldn’t claim this means more than saying that confident governments take the risk and failing goverments don’t.

  39. @Postageincluded
    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!

    ” the polling concerns things like which party may be to blame for possible NHS failings or cover-ups, and any discussion of blame issues is liable to see copious postal vaping.”
    “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.”

  41. MOH
    You raise a very important question of equality in society, or in political choices, and I would not disagree on its importance or in saying that people are unequal, and that some important aspects of our society are based on that assumption;. This is so, for example, of the educational system, which selects top performers to go on to higher education and thus to senior responsibilities and rewards.
    I also, however, think, as CARFREW has argued, that agency plays a part in this selective process, and that it often does so unfairly, and to great social cost -: for example in leading to personal gains resulting from position in the banking system, whether the position is merited or not, and to the subsequent impact of distortions in wealth distribution and access to services or opportunity.
    So I do think that government and government policy resulting from views of social ienquality which are set out as choices in the electoral system are subject to democratic response. It is there that we have an opportunity of scrutinising, as people do in this blog, and seeking in VI to prevent or reducing, measures or deficits which lead to unfair disadvantages, of aceess to educational opportunity, health services or employment. I also think that this choice is one of policy and performance, which divide the main parties. A belief in equality or recognition of inequalities can be shared by adherents to different parties, but has crucial differences in the policies and long term institutional structures and resource allocations which the parties pursue, notably in respect of equality of access.

  42. MOH – sorry, TOH.

  43. Hehe. MOH? “Margin of Howard?”


    Interesting views on equality.

    Knowing you connection with Laos-how does the treatment of the Hmong, by the LPRP fit with your concepts of equality?

  45. John Pilgrim

    I don’t believe it’s daft for people to expect the Health Minister to be informed when things go wrong in the NHS and for that Minister to be open and honest, admit there is a problem and put it right.

    Part of being any minister is not just telling people what improvements you’ve made or being criticised because you didn’t bring in this or that reform it’s also facing up to the public when things go seriously wrong and not soldier on as if nothing has happened.

    It’s no good asking the public what they think about the NHS whether it’s improved or got worse if the public are not made aware of any serious problems because of incompetence either within the NHS or the Government of the day.

  46. Inequality is interesting. Like the poor it is always with us and is so under every political system. It also has its good side. There is something admirable in sturdy independence and a desire to do the best for one’s family. Without rewards (and hence by definition inequality) people might strive less and society be the poorer.

    That said, it is also obvious that inequality has its bad side and needs to be kept in check. Left to its own devices ‘the market’ seems to me to tend to the concentration of power and money in the hands of the few who, unless abnormally virtuous. use it to further their own interests in ways that are often counter to the interests of everyone else.

    Being ordinary human beings, however, the rich are reluctant to see their behaviour as self-interested and prefer instead to see themselves as risk takers, immensely hard workers and purveyors of social good. No doubt again some are, but their behaviour becomes to me revolting when they reinforce this smug, self-satisfaction with gratuitous attacks on people who are out of work precisely because of the operations of the capitalism from which they benefit.

    Fundamentally society depends on solidarity and co-operation at least as much as on personal effort. So my vote would go to a party that said a) we value effort and striving b) we don’t think that to get this you need the obscene differentials that currently exist c) we will use the tax system to fund genuine training, opportunity and job creation for people who are either out of work or trapped in low paid insecure work. The latter are every bit as much necessary to and heroes of the capitalist system as the masters of the universe at its head.

  47. @John Pilgrim

    Loved the MOH, LOL! Some on here think my views are towards the top end of the moh scale.

    There is al lot I agree with in your last post and yes agency can lead to distortion. Of course agency effects occur on both left and right of the political spectrum and as I said in my earlier post, that is no surprise as it reflects part of human nature and was ever thus. Neither the right not the left have exclusive rights to the high moral ground.

  48. @Anthony W

    I tend to agree with most of what you say in the commentary to this thread but, as a professional pollster, aren’t you sometimes a little uneasy about the prevalence of what, to all intents and purposes, are leading questions in many of the polls? These sorts of questions tend to force out opinions where none really exist, thereby inflating the importance of issues that are either of little significance or, in terms of people’s fully formed opinions, very much half-baked.

    A classic leading question might elicit a response along the lines of, “Well, I hadn’t thought about it much before, but now you come to mention it….”. There’s probably too much of this going on at the moment and it might well be that we need to start to look at who is commissioning the poll, and what their agenda may be, before reading too much into some of its findings.

    I wouldn’t say you went as far as Ratner did all those years ago in your commentary, but you came quite close to rubbishing a good deal of your own product!!

  49. Is there any evidence that government parties who have introduced censorship have gained votes/increased polling ?

    Polling on ‘nanny state’ or ‘freedoms’ ?

    Personally I think that some form of filter in household internet connections to stop porn or unsuitable material being accessible is a good idea. But I am not sure whether most people will think this is a sensible move, as no doubt children who want to access it will still do so and distribute it to other children to watch on their tablet computers. So this filter may just prove to be a pain in the *ss, as it may cause problems accessing ordinary sites, which are not pornographic.

    Then there is the issue of what internet content will be subject to controls next. Why stop at porn ?

  50. The Royal Sprog is making a bid for freedom.

    If it steals my girlfriend’s birthday tomorrow I’ll be annoyed!

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