YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 41%, LD 9%, UKIP 10%, so a higher Labour lead than usual, but with a recent average lead of six points it’s well within the margin of error. As usual with the YouGov/Sunday Times polls there is a broad range of subjects, including the economy, the NHS, education and support for stay at home mothers.

The regular economic optimism question now shows a feel good factor (the proportion of people expecting their financial situation to get better, minus those who expect it to get worse) of minus 25. While still negative, it equals the least negative rating since April 2010.

Asked more specifically about the state of the economy, 25% think the economy is still getting worse, 34% that it has stopped getting worse but there are no signs of recovery yet. 30% now think there are signs of recovery and another 5% think we are on the way to full recovery. This is a big shift from when YouGov last asked the question in April, when only 14% thought there were any signs of recovery. Asked how much they think the government have contributed to any economic recovery, 32% of people think the government’s actions have helped the economy recover, 23% that they made little difference, 36% that they made things worse.

41% of people think that A Levels got easier over the last ten years and 53% think that the toughening up of the exam marking last year was the right thing to do (21% disagree). An Oxbridge education is seen as being worth £9000 a year tuition fees by 52% to 29%. People are more evenly split over other top universities (37% think they are worth £9000 a year, 41% do not), and almost two-thirds of people think tuition at universities outside the top twenty is not worth the money. Despite this people are still evenly split over whether it is financially worthwhile going to university – 41% think increased graduate earnings are worth more than the cost of going to university, 40% think they are not.

Labour maintain their usual strong lead on the NHS, 32% to the Conservatives’ 20%. Only 21% think that Jeremy Hunt is doing a good job as Health Secretary, 52% a bad job. Looking to the future 51% of people think it will be possible to keep the NHS free at the point of delivery, even if costs continue to rise, 38% think that the NHS will eventually become unaffordable. A majority (58%) would oppose means testing NHS services in the future.

By 39% to 14% people think the government is doing more to help mothers who go out to work than those who stay at home (15% said they were doing equal amounts and 32% didn’t know). Asked which group NEED more help, 43% say they both need support, 25% think working mothers need more support, 15% think stay at home mothers need more support. The £1200 a year allowance for childcare for working parents is supported by 49% to 34%. People are less supportive of giving similar financial support to stay at home parents, 41% would support it, 41% would oppose it.

Finally, by 67% to 20% people see zero-hour contracts as a bad thing, and 56% would support a ban on them.

252 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 33, LAB 41, LD 9, UKIP 10”

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  1. On balance, I think the government and particularly the Tories have a long way to go to overcome the average 6% lead Labour has over them; sufficiently anyway to achieve an overall majority.

    The economy is only very slowly edging out of its ‘flatlining’ status and I think will take a lot more than the 21 months left before the election to convince the electorate that austerity was the right policy.

  2. A 6% lead is not massive. Given that it is mid-term and given the difficult economic times.

    Perhaps we should expect to see a very close GE. Probably with no overall majority and a Labour/LD coalition to follow…

  3. @john pilgrim

    Thanks for comments on EU. I was actually quoting Alec rather than propounding a view myself but forgot to put in the inverted commas. But your reply was enlightening nevertheless.

  4. Fascinating that 14% of Labour voters think Cameron is doing well/v well as PM (only 54% of them think Ed M is doing well/v well as Leader).

    Labour voting is strongly correlated with economic pessimism. 78% think the economy is getting worse or there are no signs of recovery. This is palpably incorrect in terms of the economic facts, but is certainly the line they have been fed by their leaders and opinion formers. It will be interesting to see whether, as the facts sink in, this will change the attitudes of Labour voters or get people to change their votes. ie are they saying they would vote Labour because the economy is bad, or are they saying the economy is bad because they “are” Labour?

  5. PS: People who think the economy is doing well are presumably more likely to be on holiday than people who do not. Therefore polls taken in the holidays may well under-state C support at this stage.

  6. Has anyone done any analysis of whether the Sunday Times polls are different from the weekday releases?

    I get the general impression that the Lab lead opens at the weekend.

  7. I think people will give Labour the benefit of the doubt,Lib Dems despise their own party and the Tories just went back to being the Nasty party.Both have no real mandate for the wreckage they have left in their wake,it will be an anything but these two election.I think Labour would really boost their chances by swapping Chuka with Balls and Tom Watson with Twigg.Ed milliband is doing well for being constantly undermined by the press and TV news.If i were Labour i would be getting rid of the BBC it has been a mouth piece of the coalition and doesn’t deserve to be preserved,145 pounds back in people’s pockets would be a nice start for giving money back to the people.

  8. Interesting polling on something I actually know something about.

    As anyone who is familiar with the real data about universities will tell you, this poll confirms the problem the sector has – that a lot of people have firmly-held views about something they know absolutely nothing about.

    This is, to be fair, because by and large our universities fight like cats in a sack – anyone who thinks what the sector needs is a dose of competition is deluded, because they’re constantly competing – and so sector leaders have been consistently bad at explaining the advantages to the nation of the fact that we have a strong university system because they’re too fixated on not talking up perceived rivals.

    But the results are interesting; Tory voters think it’s not worth going to universities outside the top 20, but still say graduates will earn more than they pay in fees anyway even though the two statements are ostensibly at odds. Other party’s voters may be wrong, but at least they’re consistently wrong.

    Say what you like about Tory voters – there might not be enough of them, but the ones the party do have are very, very loyal.

  9. There’s also a question of what a “good economy” means. Is it rising GDP? Rising average living standards? By the first metric the economy is starting to turn around, by the second it’s getting worse.

    I suspect there’s a difference between how Tory and Labour voters define a good economy, with Tory voters inclined more to the first measure and Labour voters more to the second (in part because they tend to be clustered in the professions and social grades that are seeing falling living standards and bringing the average down). Add to that the regional differences in both the economic recovery and the distribution of voters, and you could get a situation where the “economic facts” are palpably different between the two groups.

    (Note also the strong correlation between economic pessimism and Ukip support- I’d gently suggest that group is not being fed a line by Ed Miliband.)

  10. Nbeale

    Yes, the view that the economy is getting worse is incorrect according to the facts reported by the media but perhaps those folk that believe the economy is getting worse are in the possession of other facts that the media are not reporting.

  11. @NBeale

    I live an a relatively poor northern town.

    Economic recovery is not happening here. In terms of unemployment, wage levels, empty shops and all other indicators, things are not getting any better.

    The good people of this town are not being lied to by their leaders. They can see evidence in their homes, streets, wage packets and high streets.

    The recovery is slow and patchy at best. London based politicians or journalists telling me and my neighbours that that recovery is happening would be laughed out of town.

  12. @NBeale

    People thinking someone is “doing well at their job” does not mean they also agree with what they are doing or support them. It’s another inherent difficulty with personality polling. You can all agree that John Doe is doing well for himself as a plumber, but also think that John Doe leaves leaky pipes unfixed.

  13. @ Statgeek,

    Quick and dirty T-test on the YouGov polls from January until mid July reveals that the Labour VI and the lead are almost significantly higher (0.947 and 0.948 respectively) on weekdays than on Sundays. No significant difference in any other VIs, and of course the difference is very small (about 0.5 points).

  14. @RiN

    “Economic Recovery” is an abstracted term. On pure domestic growth figures, yes “The Economy” is doing better. Barely, and very slowly recovering.

    But if you look at wages, they’re still dropping. And we now know that employment figures have been propped up with Zero-Hour Contracts, which explains how employment was rising but average wage and productivity were falling while income support benefits being paid out kept increasing.

    The term I expect to see bandied about is “Jobless Recovery”. And if things like Zero-Hour Contracts cause people to uniformly think that “Economic Recovery” only applies to the rich, and their circumstances will continue to get worse, that’s existential crisis time for the Conservatives.

  15. New figures collated by the House of Commons Library show a 5.5 per cent drop in wages after inflation since 2010.

  16. NBeale

    “Labour voting is strongly associated with economic pessimism”.

    Is it?

    I don’t think so.

    Maybe Labour are seen to be fairer with the proceeds of growth and better at running public services (mainly the NHS). Maybe the Tories are too associated with looking after the already rich and privileged.

  17. @ Statgeek

    I get the general impression that the Lab lead opens at the weekend.
    We used to joke about it doing exactly the opposite.

  18. @Spearmint

    Quick and dirty T-test on the YouGov polls from January until mid July reveals that the Labour VI and the lead are almost significantly higher (0.947 and 0.948 respectively) on weekdays than on Sundays. No significant difference in any other VIs, and of course the difference is very small (about 0.5 points).

    Sorry to be picky, but I don’t understand your T – Test.

    You should compare one data set (Labour VI mid week) vs another (Labour VI weekend). The excel T-Test will ask for the two columns of data, whether the sets of have data sets have equal variance (it doesn’t make much difference on the sample size in question), and whether it’s a one or two tailed test (two is right here).

    It will return one p value. If it is =>0.05 the data sets are the statistically the same to a 95% confidence interval. If it is <0.05, the two data sets are statistically different.

  19. @ Chris Riley

    But the results are interesting; Tory voters think it’s not worth going to universities outside the top 20, but still say graduates will earn more than they pay in fees anyway even though the two statements are ostensibly at odds.
    Maybe they mean that those who go to the top 20 universities will be better off after paying the fees – which is the logical ‘follow through’ from their earlier statement but is not offered as a specific option in the follow up question.

    So I don’t think it shows Tories to be any more loyal than others; it seems normal (to me anyway) for people to answer a sequence of questions on a single topic as if the questions are sequential rather than treating each as a stand alone. Do you think maybe that this could be the effect which we are seeing here?

  20. Allowing the usual caveats about crossbreaks, the following (overall) YG stats today about the state of the economy show a distinct lack of feel good factor.

    43% – The economy is still getting worse
    38% – stopped getting worse but no signs of recovery
    13% – starting to show signs of recovery
    1% – improving and on the way to a full recovery

    The 1% is not a typo

    [Ozwald – those are the figures from April – AW]

  21. “Labour are better at running public services”…not if you live in Stafford, Basingstoke, Nottingham, etc.

  22. I like the nuance of something being *almost* significant.

  23. @ Raskey

    “Labour are better at running public services”…not if you live in Stafford, Basingstoke, Nottingham, etc.
    Labour didn’t score 100% approval on this question therefore I think it is safe to assume that YG didn’t exclude people living in Stafford, Basingstoke, Nottingham – or even those living in etc. – from their poll.

  24. @CatManJeff – I think Spearmint was comparing the Labour VI midweek and weekend; and then the lead midweek and weekend. Hence 2 numbers; one for the VI and one for the lead.

  25. @Chris Todd
    ‘A 6% lead is not massive. Given that it is mid-term and given the difficult economic times.’

    But are we still in mid-term? It surely not unreasonable to suggest that mid-term is now behind us given that over 65% of this Parliament has passed!

  26. @Wes

    If the p values were 0.947 and 0.948 there is no difference.

  27. here is an interesting article about polling by Naomi Racz of Nottingham University published on August the 7th

    h ttp://

  28. @ Catmanjeff,

    Oops, you’re right- I totally misread those results. Haha, wow.

    The two values are for the Labour VI T-Test and a separate lead T-Test, that part at least is justifiable. But my awful interpretation is due to the fact I was running it in OpenOffice instead of R. I’d never used their T-test before and when I got a bunch of very high numbers I just assumed it had been programmed to return the confidence interval and not the p-value for some unknowable reason. (I guess I was hoping for an interesting result. Talk about confirmation bias!) but those are in fact the p-values.

    Okay. Non-moronic interpretation of these same findings leads us to the conclusion there is NO significant difference between Sunday and weekday YouGov results in either the VIs or the lead. Really, really none.

    Good catch, Catman.

    PS. That first one is actually the p-value for the Tory VI (Labour’s is 0.886). This is what happens when I try to do things fast…

  29. @Spearmint

    No problem.

    At p = 0.947 and p = 0.948, that is so amazing and convincingly the same.

    Good analysis though. I wish more theories were tested in such a fashion.

  30. @Raskey
    “not if you live in Stafford, Basingstoke, Nottingham, etc.”

    Fascinating, I know the City and Shire very well and recent County election results contradict your claim. Or perhaps you know something that actual voters missed when they went to the ballot box ? I look forward to reading your evidence.

  31. @ Wes,

    I like the nuance of something being *almost* significant.

    It’s a nuance we are fond of in the sciences when the dataset that you spent all year collecting is tauntingly hovering around p = 0.055. The usual strategy is to turn it into a bar graph designed to make the heights of the columns representing the control and experimental groups look as visually distinct as possible (you can make the columns different colours for no reason, if that helps), confess in the dull results section that they were significant at a 90% confidence interval but not at the all-important 95% one, and then pray everyone reading your paper/looking at your presentation is lazy and just looks at the figures.

    Of course you do have to have to understand what your statistics software is telling you first…

  32. This morning’s figures on the fall in real wages reported here by Chordata show why Labour has held on to most of the progressive LibDems who switched in 2010-11. This IS what most voters consider to be the Economy. Add in cuts to key services affecting the bulk of ordinary people – education, personal care, road maintenance, public leisure facilities – and this allows a lacklustre Opposition to stay ahead. If EM now adds some attractive new policies to be financed by the delayed GDP growth, then the gap may widen a bit more. Timing is all.

  33. Er I clearly totally misunderstood (and still don’t quite get how Jeff knew it was wrong!), but anyway, glad this is worked out. So there’s no difference between the midweek and weekend results.

  34. The other Jim

    Odd, it looks like Jeremy Warner of telegraph fame based his article on the same theme on this one

  35. I don’t get these ‘weekend’ comments about the YG published today, for which the fieldwork, AIUI, takes place from Thursday evening to Friday teatime.

  36. NBeale,

    I am a LP member who thinks DC does a decent job representing the country on the international stage.

    Whilst as you would expect in a wider context which includes domestic policy I would answer no to the’ good job’ question there will be other Labour voters who I can understand answering yes; my guess is even GB got some yes responses from con supporters particularly when he was appearing to be instrumental in framing the wests response to the financial crisis.

    The 54% measure for EM form those giving a LB VI is more significant imo and as many of us acknowledge the less favourable view of Ed whilst discounted to a degree may become significant with swing voters, some of who currently say Lab, as the GE campaign gets closer and during the campaign itself.

    Personally, I don’t think any other LOO would have been getting better ratings by now (those if xx was leader polls are virtually useless as we know) and that his is doing OK, not great but OK.

  37. @ RiN

    When I see the ‘spin’ about the economic recovery, my two brothers spring to mind:

    B1 “You can’t polish a t*rd”;
    B2 “But you CAN roll it in glitter”.

  38. @Amber Star


  39. @Amber

    If the economy is a turd, does that make Labour the anti-social party?


  40. @OZWALD

    My cousin died in Stafford hospital in 2007…evidence enough?

  41. @Amber

    Your explanation requires Tory voters to have approached the questions in a different way than everyone else, and to have, en masse, chosen to answer a question that wasn’t asked. I do not think that Tories have brains wired in a fundamentally different way to the rest of the country. The much simpler answer is that they’re just loyal to party policy and tend to agree with what they think it is.

  42. British Jobs for British Workers rears it’s head again.

    Chris Bryant to criticise Next & Tesco tomorrow.

  43. @Colin

    I get concerned when this sort thing happens.

    For me, it’s really simple. Parliament creates laws. If companies adhere to them, politicians can’t complain.

    If politicians don’t like how companies work within the law they need to change the law.

    Individuals and corporations either work within the law or outside it. Moral dimensions are unhelpful and beyond this.

  44. @Amber

    And Labour voters are all paragons of impartiality?

  45. To redeem that earlier debacle, I thought I’d do the moving averages and churn analysis.


    The Tories are almost back up to their January peak. Labour and the Lib Dems have flatlined since the beginning of May. Ukip are back to their post-Eastleigh level, although their composition is different now, with more Lib Dems and Labourites than they had in March.

  46. @ Chris Riley

    Your explanation requires Tory voters to have approached the questions in a different way than everyone else…
    A good point, well made.

  47. @ Statgeek

    If the economy is a turd, does that make Labour the anti-social party?
    I’m not quite ‘getting’ it; please would you help me understand what you mean. :-)

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