The monthly ComRes poll for the Independent is out tonight. Topline figures are CON 34%(+4), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 12%(-2). The three point Labour lead is the lowest ComRes have shown since last September, and the 34% for the Conservatives the highest since last November.

The drop in the Labour lead and the fading of UKIP support is very much in line with the pattern we’ve seen in the daily YouGov polls, in ICM’s poll this month and in line with the sort of figures Populus are now showing… though it’s worth noting that MORI and some of the new online companies aren’t yet picking up the same pattern.

As to why the polls are narrowing, the harsh truth is that we really can’t tell. There is always a temptation that I see people falling into to reach for the issue you personally care about and ascribing changes in the polls to that (or “why the change in the polls shows that politicians should do the thing I like”) the reality is we can’t tell*, all we can do is look for rough correlations in timing. Personally my best guess is that’s its the result of the ongoing improvement in economic optimism we have seen over the past few months, a rather more controlled Conservative message and the decreased level of publicity UKIP have been receiving.

(*Whenever I make a point like this someone makes the suggestion of asking people. Oh were it so easy! Firstly, if you ask people who gave a different answer 3 or 4 months ago if they’ve changed their mind many won’t realise they have. If you ask why to those who have consciously changed their mind you get lots of don’t knows, general grumbles and some reasons that may be genuine causes, or may be post-hoc rationalisations for complex decisions we probably don’t even understand ourselves.)

424 Responses to “ComRes/Indy – CON 34, LAB 37, LD 10, UKIP 12”

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  1. @Amber
    I owe my life to wonderful treatment by the NHS so I am opposed to measures which downgrade it or dismantle it piece by piece. A friend of mine has just had a bypass op and he is delighted by the way he was treated by all the staff at QMC Nottingham. He looks so much better now, but I am not sure whether to believe him when he said they fitted him with a new set of plugs and points !

  2. @AW Ditto to Amber, glad you have done some pruning.

  3. “Here’s an NHS disaster that genuinely is Labour’s fault, and he’s squandering the political capital on unpopular hospital closures?”

    Eh ? Lewisham is not a failing hospital & Hunt’s decision to close it was wholly wrong – a decision which has now been proven to be wrong.

    Mid-Staffs will still exist, even it’s A&E. Yes there will be some changes but overall they have come out of it all ok. Some may be unhappy but it seems they are in a minority, judging by the huge support from the locals on their march in support of Stafford hospital.

    Where is Hunt today to respond to these two decisions ? Usually it’s hard to get him off the screens whenever NHS is mentioned but there’s been no sight or sound of him.

  4. Speermint – been out all day just seem you early post following mine.

    I think you are right.

    The idea that most UKIP will drift back for the 2015 GE but that their most important impact will be on the Tories triangulation being limited and having to tack right to make sure the maximum number of returnees.
    So far we had only speculated that this would make it less likely for some soft right wing LDs to switch to Conservative. Your thought that some Lab leaners in LD/Tory marginal who perhaps would have voted Labour due to their anger with the LDs and taken the consequences are more likely to hold their noses and vote LD due to Tories being more right wing make sense to me.

    Would not take that many to make a difference in some seats.

  5. @hal @laszlo @colin

    Many thanks for your very informative posts. I am now a lot wiser than I used to be on this subject but sadly still a lot lazier than Colin.

  6. @ Spearmint

    I’m assuming you mean the South London Trust’s financial ‘disaster’ rather than Lewisham per se. Actually, the ‘disaster’ is due to PFI working exactly as intended.

    When a trust cannot afford to service its debts, it goes into administration followed, if necessary, by the trust being wound up. The ‘losers’ are mainly the PFI investors; they thought the risk worth the reward – but there was a risk & they knew it. The Administrator appears to have been trying to avoid the PFI contract being ‘written off’ (I won’t go into all the geeky details or we’ll be here all day!).

    According to the Court, the Administrator went beyond his legal powers. Each trust is a separate entity – i.e. the South London Administrator can’t decide to grab some of Lewisham’s ‘market share’ & award it to the South London Trust to prevent their PFI investors from having to take the loss which may be coming to them.


    The 23% recorded for the total [don’t know + will not vote] is not compatible with the average turnout this century of about 62%, even if all the ‘don’t knows’ don’t vote.
    I suspect that this is because few might respond to a poll with “I’m a XXX supporter, but I might well not bother voting”

    A critical factor in most elections is getting supporters to vote. Getting your postal voters to commit early in a campaign (before they are exposed to contrary arguments!) is now an aspect of that – perhaps why the LibDems held Eastleigh in a campaign arranged to be as short as possible. It may also account for why UKIP have turned in 20+% of those actually voting in elections with say 15% in polls. It’s generally illuminating to recast all the percentage figures into % of electorate instead of % of those voting.

  8. AMBER
    @”The ‘losers’ are mainly the PFI investors”

    That’s not how the Guardian sees it :-

    “The closure plan turns on treating PFI contracts as sacred. SLHT’s accumulated debt will be written off, and its unaffordable PFI charges subsidised until the contracts finally come to an end in 2039, for a mind-boggling combined total of £930m.

    In other words, the government is ready to put almost a billion pounds into keeping two sets of PFI shareholders happy, rather than renegotiating the contracts – as the trust special administrator seems to have thought possible – or buying them out and giving itself a free hand in making health policy for south London.”


  9. DAVE


    I have been pondering that for a while.

    GE’s suggest 38% WNV/DK, whilst YouGov currently suggests only 23%.

    Implication is that there is 15% pts ( of the total YG sample) , currently shown as VI-which won’t crystalise come the day .

  10. @ Chordata,

    What Amber said- the problem isn’t Lewisham itself but the South London PFI contract.

    @ Amber,

    You’re right, but I think this fiasco proves that the whole model is unworkable. Too much administrative chaos if a big trust goes under, too many conflicts of interest to allow it to happen. Most NHS trusts are essentially ‘too big to fail’. It’s the same problem with the railway franchises: the state has no choice but to ensure continuity and stability of service, so even though the risk is supposed to be privatised the taxpayer ends up underwriting it. Now that Hunt can’t take the funding from Lewisham I expect South London will be bailed out from the overall NHS budget.

    @ Jim Jam,

    Although it’s worth noting that so far the Crosby offensive hasn’t reduced the number of LD -> Tory defectors, at least not as measured by the YouGov crossbreaks. Maybe they’re stickier than we thought? (But then why on Earth were they voting Lib Dem in 2010?)

  11. “This so called reconfiguration has little or nothing to do with healthcare but everything to do with the financial crisis pertaining in a neighbouring healthcare trust.
    This in turn has been brought about by exorbitant borrowing costs inflicted by previous government inspired PFI contracts.”

    Left Foot Forward.

  12. Does anyone think it’s too quiet around here without that Damm Norwegian troublemaker?

  13. Allyson POllock wrote a scathing attack on both NHS PFI & Lansley’s reforms in 2012 in the Guardian.

    Her remarks on the operation of PFI were illuminating :-

    ” Now the needs of private financiers and banks are dictating the shape, size and scale of our health services. In 1990, hospitals paid no charge on their land, buildings and assets; today many PFI hospitals are paying more than 15%. The figure is rising fast. It is a product of ludicrously high fixed interest rates and a measure of “over-indexation”, in which unitary charges are increased in line with inflation. At a time when the NHS budget is at best standing still or falling, this inflationary index means credit default or bankruptcy.

    The debt is toxic.

    However, the government will not allow hospitals to default on the debt (it would threaten all the other PFI schemes and result in the banks taking legal action). Moreover, PFI is a Treasury policy for the whole of the public sector and it is a policy that the Treasury is exporting abroad. The Treasury and health department signed off all the PFI deals in the full knowledge that affordability had been an issue from the very beginning. The Treasury stuck to the line that there was no alternative.

    This is what the public needs to know and is not being told.

    First, the high costs of PFI debt charges means that the NHS can only operate anything from a third to half as many services and staff as it would have done had the scheme been funded through conventional procurement. In other words, for every PFI hospital up and running, equity investors and bankers are charging as if for two. Edward Leigh, the chair of a Treasury committee report into PFI, called investor returns the unacceptable face of capitalism.

    Second, we can still afford to pay for universal healthcare – but only if we stop using NHS funds to prop up banks and equity investors.

    Third, it is PFI deficits that are driving service closures, not patient demand or an ageing population. Service closures have nothing to do with service redesign.”


  14. And yet another excellent Guardian piece on the whole PFI dung heap:-

    Nowhere is there any indication that PFI contract providers will ever take a hit where the debt becomes unsustainable. The taxpayer appears to be the guarantor.

  15. Dave, Colin,

    Part of the difference is due to the fact that the electoral register is out-of-date by the time a general election comes round, because people move frequently (once every six years as I remember). Then you add in the people who are away on the day and forget to get a postal vote and I expect that accounts for most of the missing voters.

  16. Well, we’re about to have a test case: they’re recommending Mid-Staffs be dissolved. We’ll see who ends up paying for it.

  17. Hal
    I would class your missing voters among those who “cannot be bothered to vote” which is now running at 2 in 5 voters. There is certainly no excuse next time, 7th May 2015. A vote is a considerable privilege, not to be wasted (though I would welcome a ‘none of the above’ box)
    The new electoral register (also known as the electoral roll) is published on 1 December each year.
    You’ll be sent an electoral registration form between July and November. The form should list all the people who’ll be living at your address on 15 October and who are eligible to vote.
    You need to:
    check your details are correct
    return the form even if there’s no change or no one’s eligible to vote at your address
    The register is also updated monthly from December to mid-August. If you register or change your details during this time, your new details will be included in the next monthly update.

  18. @ Colin

    However, the government will not allow hospitals to default on the debt.
    That, IMO, is exactly what the Court judgement addressed today. The Administrator does not have the power to ‘bail out’ the PFI investors at the expense of other trusts, according to the High Court.

    Not to allow the investors to ‘take their lumps’ is a choice which was made by Jeremy Hunt & with which the Court does not agree.

    The Graun articles to which you refer pre-date today’s Court ruling.

    If the government of the day wants to interfere in ‘the market’ & bail out private investors at the expense of the NHS, that is a decision for the current government.

  19. @ Spearmint

    Well, we’re about to have a test case: they’re recommending Mid-Staffs be dissolved. We’ll see who ends up paying for it.
    Indeed. This is definitely one to watch.

  20. Yes Labour are still leading, but after 3 years of austerity and ltd growth, I think it’s a poor lead so to speak. Others may disagree.

    With economic data improving and the Cons appearing to be on the right side of the fence on some of the big issues, we are already seeing a 2-3% move back to them. I really think it’s all to play for now, where as a few months ago I wasn’t confident at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a nice value bet on the Conservatives to win now.

    Further economic improvement should help the Cnservatives. It’s not like the end of the Major period where the Conservatives were thrown out on sleaze and trust, now, most polls show the electorate don’t really trust all politicians, sadly.


    Ta for the link and I’ve added the [email protected]>#&% Red Trouser blog to my favourites list. :-)

  22. @ Rich

    Yes Labour are still leading, but after 3 years of austerity and ltd growth, I think it’s a poor lead so to speak. Others may disagree.
    Indeed. If only Labour were willing to tell the electorate what it wants to hear, Labour would likely be miles ahead – as some folks aver they should be.

    But it seems Labour are not yet willing to pledge, with fingers crossed behind backs, that they can make the deficit disappear via efficiency savings, that they will ring-fence the NHS budget or that they’ll abolish tuition fees.

    Still, at least Miliband gets a higher ‘honesty’ rating than the other leaders by refusing to make reckless promises.

  23. RICH

    Absolutely spot on. The economy is far from perfect and problems remain but it is on the up. Unemployment is falling and with the Home Secretary finally booting Abu Qatada out of the UK then I’m not at all surprised the polls are looking more favourable for Cameron.

    On welfare (although I don’t like some of the terminology being used ) the Gov have struck a cord with the electorate and Labour are finding it difficult to come up with a plausible response on welfare reforms.

    I really do think Cameron will win a second term if he can keep his EU sceptics on side and not implode over Europe .

  24. @Rich

    Further economic improvement should help the Cnservatives. It’s not like the end of the Major period where the Conservatives were thrown out on sleaze and trust, now, most polls show the electorate don’t really trust all politicians, sadly.

    Isn’t that wisely?

  25. I wonder why a Government, who has embarked on introducing direct private competition for NHS provision, could possibly want to try to establish that they will always bail out any private company involved in NHS provision. It’s a mystery.

  26. Conservatives thrown out over sleaze and trust.Interesting choice of words.
    After many U turns how trustworthy are the Coalition?As for sleaze,well we do
    Have those rather unfortunate court appearances to come.High profile case,in
    The news for days on end.Who knows how it will all play out.


    I think getting the economy back on track is far too important an issue for the electorate to be bothered about sleaze unless it had a detrimental effect on the country as a whole.

    Of course on sleaze Iain Dale did write a book on it. ;-)

  28. @catmanjeff,

    Yeah possibly. Doesn’t anybody find it ironic that the public appear to be crying out for an honest conviction politician? Doesn’t seem like Blair in the end, Brown, Cameron or Milliband are particularly trusted or liked.

    Also, look how Clegg after the debates, Farage, Boris all have had rockets of support on the understanding at a point in time that they are conviction based and will stand by their beliefs. Maybe both main parties have just lost that real trust feeling. Maybe never recoverd after Iraq and Expenses?

  29. AC,yes,but people have to actually feel and notice that the economy is back on
    Track.Here in South Wales things are decidedly gloomy.Do not underestimate
    The power of sleaze.The economy was picking up under Major and Co,but
    The brown paper bags etc did for them.Actually I am not so gloomy,just visited
    The Mike Smithson web site.Excellent.

  30. “Roland Haines

    Yes, brain dysfunction, a heavy blow to the face could cause such an injury, rather than say a rupture, or a dislocated hip joint.

    July 31st, 2013 at 2:00 pm”

    Thankyou for that.

  31. @Rich

    There are few politicians, who I believe are a cut above the rest: Caroline Lucas, Michael Meacher, John Redwood, Charles Kennedy, Dennis Skinner and Norman Tebbit to name a few. Sarah Wollaston is breath of fresh for the Conservatives, yet it is clear she is not really seen as one of them and she doesn’t appear to fit in well. You can tell she hasn’t risen through traditional Tory ranks.

    All genuinely are convictions politicians, who have something interesting to say. A Parliament full of people like that would an engaging, thoughtful and intelligent institution.

    Sadly, too many MPs are male, white, privileged, have only experienced life in the professional middle classes and got their job through the working up the greasy poll of party politics.

  32. Rich,sorry could not let that go.Clegg trusted for his beliefs?By whom.


    As I said in a previous post the economy is far from perfect but it is on the up. Sure there are parts of the UK where the economy has stagnated or indeed gone back the way but as for Wales then possibly some of the lack of growth can also be attributed to the devolved administration.

    Every Gov has it’s sleaze but I think it want have an impact on Cameron but who knows??
    “.Actually I am not so gloomy,just visited
    The Mike Smithson web site.Excellent”
    Don’t tell me, Plaid Cymru are leading in Wales??

  34. #wont

  35. @ Ann,

    Here in South Wales things are decidedly gloomy.

    That’ll cut into the Tory seat totals for sure…

  36. (To be fair, it probably will take out Alun Cairns.)

  37. Any approval rating data for Welsh First Minister Daffodil Wiggly?

  38. Yeah, we just had it a few threads ago. Carwyn Jones is off-the-charts popular by British standards. Everyone in Westminster and the Cardiff competition are nowhere, even sweet little Leanne.

    Dunno what he’s doing- wearing a red tie and not going to war in the Middle East, probably- but whatever it is it’s working like a charm.

  39. Well, a red tie and he’s fairly statesmanlike too, I’ve always thought. (Although it helps that in Wales First Minister’s Questions is an actual grown-up conversation about government policy and not a national embarrassment like that-which-must-not-be-named.)


    Probably it’s the red tie. The devolved parliaments do tend to have good approval ratings for their FM’S. Even a -4% would be extremely good in comparison to the 3 leaders in Westminster.

    Sorry I meant Carwyn Jones, my Welsh is not up to scratch. ;-)

  41. @Anne,

    I meant during the election debates, in particular the first one, Clegg really caught the public imagination. Granted that’s collapsed like a cheap tent now, but I was highlighting that these rockets in support show you can catch the public imagination.


  42. I’d quite like to have Nigel Farage on the debates this time round. In much the same way I quite want to shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre.

  43. Tulse Hill byelection full result: Labour 1575, LD 277, Gre 177, TUSC 76, Con 74, UKIP 64, Ind 20, Soc 11 (17% swing LD to Lab)

    Back of the net!

  44. The PFI situation illustrates a fundamental economic problem with providing essential services through private organisations in a free market.

    Free markets only operate effectively by providing services to the point of marginal utility, i.e. where the cost of provision is slightly less than the value for which the service can be sold.

    This means that private services will always leave some demand unsatisfied, and always carry some risk of complete failure, neither of which can be tolerated in an essential service.

    So the ‘free market’ either has to be massively over-regulated and rigged – like energy or water – or supported by a government guarantee – like clearing banks or PFI – either of which makes them a free lunch for investors.

    In my opinion PFI is a scandal at least as bad as the failures of banking regulation – it just hasn’t hit the public consciousness yet.


    I would love to see Nigel Farage on the debates. He would inject some spice into it and I think he would make the other 3 squirm especially around Europe and emigration and he would look good in the poll ratings just like Glegg did.

    However when the Exit Poll surfaces just after the polls close then I expect Farage to be little more than a busted flush.

  46. @STEVE

    “…Martyn as a young Police officer I used to go out with a ex bunny can’t remember Her being too keen on carrots but I think her nose twitched now and then…”

    Too. Much. Information…:-)


  47. That by-election result is interesting – 69% of the vote for the Labour candidate but not quite as disastrous as other by-elections for the Lib Dems where they’re been getting 100> votes.

    Is there a website collating all these by-election results?


    This is a very serious subject. Newspapers have far too much power to badger politicians – of all parties – to leave their job or for a PM to make them do so, before any wrondoing is investigated, never mind proved.

    If we really get the press we deserve we must be a rotten lot. I doubt if any who read, and approve, of such articles would be too happy to lose their own jobs on the basis of a rumour or a lie.


    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this poll, but it won’t make pretty reading for the payday companies.

    77% agree payday companies are unethical, 89% agree they take advantage of the vulnerable and 90% support limits on interest rates. It’s almost impossible to get 90% of people to agree on anything beyond ‘ain’t moms and apple pie just swell, whaddayasay?’

    Obviously they’re agree/disagree questions, however even with acquiescence bias factored in, 85% still don’t think payday companies are on the side of poor people.

  50. Kippers very reluctant to use payday loans. Possible because they’re older and have different attitudes to borrowing?

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