This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is up here, topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13% – in line with the average YouGov Labour lead of six points or so. The rest of the poll was very much August fare (when a poll comes along with a big chunk of questions on whether TV presenters should have beards you know you are deep in silly season), though there were some repeats of YouGov’s semi-regular questions on how Ed Miliband is doing as Labour leader. As usual they are not very complementary.

I’ve written about the strange anomaly of Ed Miliband’s poor ratings several times (normally voting intention and best PM are far more closely correlated, and being ahead in voting intention tends to be accompanied with an opposition leader having more positive ratings. The sharp contrast between Ed Miliband’s poor personal ratings and Labour’s long-term lead in voting intention is unusual). I see how it resolves itself is one of the great unanswered questions of the next general election – whether Labour continue to do well despite Miliband’s poor ratings (as the Conservatives did despite Thatcher’s poor ratings in 1979), or whether the negative perceptions of Miliband weigh more heavily on the public as we get closer to a general election and a choice between who they want to form the next government, and Labour support is consequently dragged down. We cannot tell.

What we can tell is that perceptions of Miliband seem to be heading in the wrong direction. Today’s YouGov poll has the proportion of people thinking he is a weak leader up to 51% (from 47% in July and 37% last September), the percent thinking he is not up to the job of Prime Minister is up to 62%, from 57% in July, 51% in May. Whether this actually matters or not is a different question – personally I find the evidence of repeated British Election Studies that perceptions of the party leader are an important factor driving voting intention compelling… but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be outweighed by other factors that are presumably responsible for Labour having been in the lead now for over 18 months.

471 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 38, LD 10, UKIP 13”

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  1. At least they got the “Does Paxo look better or worse with a beard?” question right.

  2. Apart from this it’s striking how few people even think they can name the Shadow Chancellor, Shadow Home/Foreign/Health Secretaries. But is there any comparable data from previous oppositions?

    As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very striking how much Labour VI is associated with economic pessimism. C voters think their financial position will improve over the next 12 months by a net + 7 and only 19% think it will get worse. But Lab voters think it will get worse by a net 48% and only 10% think it will get better.

    My reading of the economic data (esp the forward looking ones like the PMIs) is that the UK will grow quite strongly in 2013 and 2014. Of course this growth won’t be spread entirely evenly – although the regional PMI data show business optimism high in every region of the UK. But nevertheless the financial situation of most households will probably improve in 2013 and 2014. So assuming that the perceptions catch up with reality the balance of optimism in the electorate as a whole will go from the present -31 to (say) +31 over the next 18 months or so. If roughly half of this is achieved by changing perceptions within each set of party voters and half by changed party support, this still implies a big shift to the Conservatives.

  3. The anecdotal evidence I hear all the time is Cameron looks the part but isn`t.
    Milliband does not the look the part, so won`t get a chance.

  4. @”What we can tell is that perceptions of Miliband seem to be heading in the wrong direction.”

    A view evidently shared by those well known right wing commentators , the Lords Prescott & Glasman, Andy Burnham & Tom Watson.


    @”My reading of the economic data (esp the forward looking ones like the PMIs) is that the UK will grow quite strongly in 2013 and 2014. Of course this growth won’t be spread entirely evenly – although the regional PMI data show business optimism high in every region of the UK. ”

    I agree with your feelings about growth this year & next.

    The regional indicators show that the NE is the exception at present.

  6. Not a single one of 950 women admitted having a bread!

    Doesn’t YouGov poll in Dundee?


  7. Colin

    You have been talking about an economic turnaround ever since I started on this site, I feel that your endless optimism is at least as unrealistic as my endless pessimism or even considerably more so

  8. Nbeale

    So you are predicting that wages are going to rise faster than inflation?

  9. We do not vote for a PM in this country. There are lots of example of the most popular leaders losing elections. Churchill ,Wilson Callaghan come to mind.

  10. “What we can tell is that perceptions of Miliband seem to be heading in the wrong direction. Today’s YouGov poll has the proportion of people thinking he is a weak leader up to 51% (from 47% in July and 37% last September), the percent thinking he is not up to the job of Prime Minister is up to 62%, from 57% in July, 51% in May”

    Think Unite might want a full refund!!


    When did you start on this site?

    I rather thought the GDP numbers for the first two Qtrs of 2013 show that there IS an “economic turnaround”

    What we see next on the GDP front is a question of how big a turnaround & how sustained.

    Data from a large range of sources indicates an increased level of confidence & activity in most sectors of the economy.

  12. Colin, I wouldn’t be so secure in the fact the economic performance will be strong. The bond market yield is starting to rise not helped by the fact that the FED has stopped printing money. This makes government debt more expensive as they have to offer higher percentages for investors to buy them. This will mean the government debt goes larger and off we go again. This will have a negative effect on the economy as the government has less to spend as it is spending more on debt. The 10 year bond is the highest it has been for 2 years.

    AS one investor put it ““I have never seen such a race to optimise funding. We are seeing a rise in bond issuance from high grade to high yield ends of the market, and companies gaining working capital through trade finance,” Jose Maria Linares, the head of JP Morgan’s global corporate bank in Europe, Middle East and Africa told City A.M. “Issuing debt now is a smart trade – in two years time rates will be higher and corporates will look back and see they have missed the window”

    If there are any signs of an economic falter after the chancellor boasted of a recovering economy, (he has form for this, see his overconfidence in the Autumn 2010 budget statement) then he is really up Pickles Creek.

  13. I’m now imagining all those famous people with beards and it’s very weird viewing. Ed Miliband would look like some kind of evil overlord and can Justin Bieber even grow a beard?

    Also interesting are the questions on alternatives to Ed Miliband – all very negative. The impression then, we are to assume, is that voters don’t like Ed Miliband but reckon he’s the best of a bad bunch.

  14. Anyone get a sense of de ja vu?


    One caveat-if Unite persuade Tata that we are going back to the 70s & they move JLR production some place else-then that will have an effect. Our auto industry is at the forefront of growth presently.

  16. Colin, do you ever research what you post. You say Unite are scaring away Tata….they are already cutting jobs in the UK …..580 in Wales.

    I assume you think that was Unites fault they are cutting the jobs then?

  17. @Colin: FWIW the latest regional Composite PMI has the North East at 56.4, a 28-month high. This is slightly lower than the UK average of 59.8, but much higher than (eg) Germany.

  18. @Red Rag: Tata Steel is not JLR. The steel industry is in a bad way esp in Europe. JLR is booming, but the IDIOTS at Unite are threatening a strike.

  19. RED RAG

    Bond yields are indeed rising.

    But the reason is fascinating & bizarre.

    Carney issued BoE “forward guidance” that Base Rate would not rise until unemployment falls to 7%.( with caveats to do with inflation levels). He predicted this would not occur until 2016-three years off.

    The markets don’t believe him & have started pushing up Gilt Yields because :-
    * MPC minutes show lack of unanimity.
    *The forward guidance on low Base Rate is hedged about by too many caveats.

    …and thirdly:-

    They think 7% unemployment will be achieved before 2016.

    So we have the bizarre situation that the better the economic news, the more Carney’s ploy fails & the sooner Gilt Rates rise.

    The ultra low borrowing rates which GO has been the beneficiary of -sub 2% are only built into new borrowing during that period. UK Government Debt has a large spread of redemption timescales & much of the core debt is at rates which go back some years.

    The greater problem is certainly the one of achieving a sustainable transition at an appropriate speed & time from ultra low rates to more normal rates , in sync with an economy which has achieved escape velocity , & can take it.

    This is Carney’s problem.

    By the way-Bernanke has not stopped “printing money”.

    He has indicated that ongoing asset purchases will be tapered ( not ceased) at the appropriate time.

    He is feeling for the same point in time as Carney-but is still growing the Fed’s Balance Sheet-whereas BoE are maintaining the stock of Asset Purchases-but not ( currently) increasing it.

  20. Just to add in a bit more info which makes your “if Unite persuade Tata that we are going back to the 70s & they move JLR production some place else” even more ridiculous, at the diferent Tata sites they have a mulit-union representative committee. They have very good relations with Tat management and their chair said of the new Ops director for Port Talbot “We welcome Mr Jha to the Strip Products Hub.He joins a working community which is committed to creating a sustainable steel industry in Wales.”

    So tell me again how Unite are persuading Tata it is back to the 70’s.

  21. RED RAG

    I am refering to the dispute involving Halewood & it’s parts suppliers.

    You are free to do your own reading on this .

  22. Wih regards the JLR section of Tata. The workforce is mixed, people doing the exactly the same job but employed by DHL and not JLR are getting paid less. Do you think that is right?

  23. NBEALE


    That is a different source to the one I had in mind-and more encouraging.

  24. Please let’s not have a back-and-forth over whether Unite are good or bad, no one is going to convince anyone, just agree to disagree.

  25. Apologies AW!

  26. I’m surprised that AW sees Miliband’s poor poll ratings and their recent decline as an anomaly. I’d suggest that judgements on the effectiveness of the leader are to a large extent a judgement of the effectiveness of the party. Miliband is simply carrying the can for a perception, at least from those yearning for an alternative, that Labour should have been doing better in the polls given the mess the country continues to be in, and in particular has wasted the summer as a largely ineffective opposition.

    As such, if Labour is seen to get its act together over the next few months, I’m sure that those ratings on Miliband are capable of improving dramatically. So Labour supporters should not be too concerned with Miliband’s rating per se.If Miliband went on to deliver a Labour majority at the GE, I’m sure that almost all Labour voters would regard him as having done a good job.

    The contrast is with Clegg, whose poor ratings are I believe irretrievable, being underpinned by actions that he has taken and cannot now undo, as he is the embodiment of the decision to let Cameron and Osborne run the show.

  27. Back to the economy. I just do not think it is as robust as many believe and there are just too many UK/European/world “events” that can knock it off course. Obviously the economy and whereit is in 2015 will have a large effect on the election and maybe the only thing that will release the Lib Dem 2010 crossover limpets from the Labour vote.

  28. Red rag

    Shame on you linking to a right wing site! Lol

  29. Good to see the regional stats. Thank you N Beale, and Statgeek on the previous thread.

  30. Phil,once again I thnk that you make a very pertinent point.EM bashing is the
    Thing to do at moment but what about the real invisible man of politics ?Is it not strange that his politics and policies are not receiving the full glare of the
    Media headlights?

  31. The people who seem to have the gloomiest views of their own economic position seem to be UKIP (not much different from labour voters but massively different from the conservative ones).. Presumably the ease of luring them back to the conservative fold, if that’s what they left, will partly depend on a) whether the economy does turn round and b) if its fruits are then adequately distributed to the sort of people who vote UKIP and compensate them for inflation etc. b) in particular seems a bit of a dodgy bet.

  32. @RiN

    Might as well. Considering some of the reasons one hears for voting for party ‘x’, we might as well add the mental meanderings of those with even less self-identity.

  33. I’d assume the UKIP gloom was down to the fact that as they are more likely to be retired being on a fixed income with rising inflation, domestic bills, and food their disposable income has been squeezed from the bottom.

    The combination of low interest rates and falling if not negative equity will have pushed it down from the top.

    Given their location and incomes many older UKIPers will not be in poverty but they will feel aggrieved and it may be the very reason they have turned away from the Tories.

    I think at least in part some of the “Blue Rinse” brigade might have voted Tory and expected the undeserving poor, the shirkers and those coming over here to steal our jobs, to have been targeted rather than them and be upset about it.

    Like many across the politic spectrum faced with the financial crisis they will have voted for their favoured party because they “Wanted it to go away”. They will be disgruntled and looking for someone to blame because it hasn’t.


  34. @ALISTER1948
    “Good to see the regional stats. Thank you N Beale, and Statgeek on the previous thread.”


    Yes, I found them interesting. Out of interest, do they suffer from crossbreak issues like the age-breaks etc.?

  35. @Colin and RiN et al

    So, are we well past the worst of the banking crisis, or is there a real risk of banking problems resurfacing to put a brake on recovery?


    I’m not convinced of that.

    And it is inexorably linked to the problem Bernanke & Carney are grappling with.

    Governments have overspent & racked up debt & are dealing with it in a variety of ways-but those a the problems of Governments & politicians.

    Those two central bankers are contemplating the mountain of monetary stimulus their Central Banks created, and wondering how they are going to extract banks & millions of people with mortgages from the teat of cheap credit without crashing nascent economic recovery , seeing the bond bubble they created go bang, and hearing the cries of distress from banks & mortgagees.

  37. Carfrew

    Ask the Japanese, they have had really low interest rates for 30 years now

  38. @ Colin

    Can you explain, please: Why should credit be expensive?

  39. @PhilHaines: the big problem on Ed M’s ratings seems to me not to be his “approval rating” but that 62% of voters think he “Would not be up to the job of Prime Minister” – indeed only 48% of Labour voters think he would be up to the job.

  40. That idea of lowering the voting age to 16 is an interesting one. I think Ed Miliband has discussed it before, with the caveat that better citizenship education will be needed to ensure the potential voters are well-informed and bother to turn out.

    I suspect there will be a lot of moaning from the usual suspects about it being gerrymandering, but it did nothing for Wilson in 1970. Also, lest we forget, when we trust 16 year olds with the right to procreate, it’s probably legitimate to let them choose their government.

    Gearing up for a Lib-Lab pact/coalition is probably wise. Best case scenario for Labour, they win with a majority and maybe pick up some more LD voters, worst case scenario they’re in a good position to negotiate for a coalition with LD leaders.

  41. RIN – As you can see I form my views from reading up articles from all colours of the political spectrum. I have to wear gold trousers when I read from that one though ;-)

  42. Amber

    Credit should be expensive because it costs so much to produce

  43. “@ Amber Star

    @ Colin

    Can you explain, please: Why should credit be expensive? ”

    Now someone with your proven intellect (going by previous posts on economics) should be able to add a few paragraphs about how credit should be priced.

    Why are the central banks holding interest rates at record low percentages ? In my view, it is mainly because they want the Banks to recover and for businesses to have access to cheaper loans. Also there is a chance for some consumers to benefit from cheaper loans. Not very good for people with savings, but they do have other choices over investments.

  44. The average age of members of the two leading political parties in German Republic is 59. For the Greens it is 48.

    There are 472000 members of the SPD and 2000 fewer for CDU /CSU.

    I just wonder how we compare on age of members? I also have the impression that, despite the average age (remember to get an average of 59 what the skew must be) that party membership is a site healthier than that here.

    Merkel has come out for a FDP supported coalition so I think that is what they will ‘arrange’ -in other words some CDU supporters will be told to vote FDP (and they will IMO).

  45. This line that keeps being trotted out that Mrs Thatcher was unpopular as Tory leader in opposition, including in 1979, is very exaggerated.
    Her ratings were okish most of the time and sometimes pretty close behind.
    Mr Callaghan was positively liked however.
    Both leaders were pretty high.

  46. @Amber, @Spearmint, @RiN

    I have read your replies on the previous thread. Thank you for them.


  47. R HUCKLE

    “…Why are the central banks holding interest rates at record low percentages ?…”

    As expounded by the Godlike Paul Mason, one word: Repressionomics


  48. Why are central banks holding interest rates so low? Because they have no choice! With respects to the recovery, I suspect that few can feel it. Regardless of events to come, at the moment we have growth yet unemployment – and long term unemployment – remains high, wages remain suppressed, and the cost of living is still the one topic that everyone I know seems to talk about.

    The danger for the Tories is in hyping economic recovery when few feel it – it strengthens the out of touch perception and leaves the door open for Labour to point this out. Alternately, if feel good does return, of would give Labour major problems with its cost of living campaign. This week’s study showing just how UK spending power has shrunk compared to even the likes of Spain is probably the key debate – if people continue to feel broke, no amount of government spin will make them feel better off.

  49. @ R Huckle

    Thank you for the compliment.

    I was curious about why Colin believes that the central banks & ‘the market’ are not capable of pricing credit (both are clearly in agreement about QE; markets tumble when central banks apply the brakes to QE or even hint that interest rates might rise).

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