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. Why are they always “harsh economic realities” can’t economic realities be soft and fluffy?

  2. @RiN

    Not at this time I’m afraid.

  3. Other Howard,

    To believe that someone (or an organisation) has ‘their heart in the right place’ is to believe that they are behaving morally. A person may not be able to analyse morality, and he may have his head in the sand as to ‘economic reality’, but he is nonetheless making a moral judgement.

    Polls showing the Tories are identified as the ‘nasty party’ are indeed picking up on people’s moral judgements. Your opinion that their reasoning is unsound doesn’t change that. It’s their reasoning, just as yours is yours.

  4. @Neil A

    “It seems the left’s concept of “moral” is mostly about spending other people’s money on (what they consider to be good) causes.”

    Whereas the right’s seems to be ‘pull the ladder up jack and sod the rest’. Honestly I’m sure we can all do this sort of silly stuff all day.

    “the “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” principle, whilst outwardly moral, conceals all sorts of problems”

    Not sure what you mean by ‘outwardly moral’ but I don’t think anyone claims that the principle isn’t without problems (of which you mention exploitation as the most prominent). But as a goal to aim for its surely not bad, irrespective of potential problems in reality.

    @The Other Howard

    “its just a reflection of the publics wish not to face the harsh facts of economic reality.”

    That the economics of austerity is a complete dud? Yes people do seem to have trouble coming to grips with that ;)

  5. On and like it or not. I think Labour have till their conference to put the “Ed the Duck” story to bed. They can’t go into an election with it a major theme and with eighteen months to go this is the point they need to lance the boil.

    There options are;

    A) Dump him, even if it is unfair kill the leadership issue by killing the leader. B Nasty but necessary but you better have a popular replacement who can deliver ready in the wings.

    B) back him regardless and shout down or sack everyone and anyone who breathes a word about it from conference to the election. Letting it be said that Ed’s weak and getting off with it reinforces the narrative.

    C) Create an artificial battle, say with the Unions , that he can win to look strong and decisive. Again he has to win and it mustn’t look phoney!



  6. @ Ian Wright

    “I was hoping to get a debate about the problems Ed has e.g, the standard of the shadow-cabinet, which has performed so lamentably in the Commons but you stick to your polls”

    You may not have noticed but right at the top of the page, just above the header for this thread in BIG LETTERS it states :

    UKPOLLING REPORT – Survey and polling news from Yougovs Anthony Wells

    Yes, you are right, I will stick to the polls……on a website about……err……opinion polls.

  7. Amber star

    Your statement that Labour not “de-toxifying it’s brand” is just plain nonsense and should be challenged.

    As I remember it, Labour under Kinnock spent a great deal of there time trying to de-toxifying the Labour brand with the voters, at the time Labour was mistrusted because of it’s ultra left wing and although the term Nasty party had yet to be coined they were certainly seen in that light before Kinnock to his credit sorted matters in his party.

    CD was claiming Labour held the moral high ground, does having your heart in the right place give you the moral high ground.

    If Labour wins the next GE will it undo the welfare cuts of course it won’t, will it go back to pre coalition figures in the public sector of course, not, will it suddenly start spending extra amounts on the NHS unlikely, will it increase the number of troops or police officers again unlikely, will we see a reductions of food banks no, so does the perception “it’s heart is the right place” stand up, only when in opposition, government is much more difficult .


  8. A Non Partisan Post anyone know what would happen in relation to triggering a bi-election if Caroline Lucas is Charged and Convicted Following Her arrest?

    What would happen if She were to receive a Police Caution?

  9. Steve – Legally – There will only be a bye-election if she is jailed. Doesn’t stop her resigning and forcing one though.

  10. Anarchists Unite

    As you well know I mean nothing of the sort. It’s very simple, until the State is cut to sensible levels (30-35% of GDP) long term econonomic stability is unlikely.

  11. Red Reg/Steve – from memory it’s only being jailed for over 12 months that gets an MP disqualified. A shorter sentence is legally OK (though politically it may not be tenable to remain)

  12. @Red Rag

    We can talk about polls without taking much notice of them. I really have little interest in the figures from day to day, trends are more interesting but i am only really interested in the polls in the week before and leading up to the election.

    This far out from an election it is all speculation.

  13. @Colin Davis

    We agree to disagree I think.

  14. Anthony, thank goodness you’re back.

  15. @ Turk

    It’s not my view regarding party morality/niceness; it’s the public’s view. And it’s not my personal view that the Tory brand was/ is toxic; it’s Lord Ashcroft’s (as interpreted by political commentators?).


    ‘Ed is crap’…. could be the fantasy?

    Nobody seems interested in the subject…. could be the reality?

    Maybe that is why it is not making the slightest bit of difference to the polls.

    Now I would be more worried (if I were a Tory) that David Cameron’s inability to beat the ‘hugely unpopular’ Gordon Brown could be surpassed only by the prospect of a defeat against such a ‘weak’ leader of the opposition ……..or so the story could go.

  17. The other Howard

    Any evidence for your view that the state should be 30 to 35% in order to have a stable economy? I see no conclusive evidence that a smaller state provides a more stable economy on the contrary it seems to work the other way. And of course that’s assuming that a stable economy is your goal but as a neolib you must believe that stability by its very nature is inefficient and the aim of reducing the size of the state is to create more efficiency by increasing economic uncertainty leading to higher levels of competition at all levels of society

  18. @The Other Howard

    I second Richard’s question, along with another: why 30-35%? Why not 40% or 20% or 0%?

  19. LizH – I’m not, I’m on holiday, in a cottage with extremely intermittent internet access. That means I am trusting people to behave and moderate themselves…

    (they may want to also consider that if I do put them on pre-moderation I may not be around to let any of their comments out of moderation for about a week….)


    You may need to cut your holiday short.

    There’s a lot of people ‘agreeing’ with each other. It simply won’t do!!!

  21. @RiN @ Anarchists Unite

    Its a nice set of numbers, much lower than it is now and it will do for a start. I do expect the State to provide adequate defence, policing, and support for those who are really disadvantaged through no fault of their own so it will never be zero.

  22. AW

    Looking forward to a Norwegian thread when you get back from holiday

  23. And maybe a German one too?

  24. Howard

    Why should the state provide policing?

    Why can’t the state hire the armed forces it needs as and when?

  25. Come to think of it, why do we need a state at all?

  26. Caroline Lucas won’t resign, for several reasons:

    – Even if she had been charged, she would only have had to resign if imprisoned for over a year, which she wouldn’t have been.

    – The Greens aren’t foolish enough to risk their only MP.

    – This wasn’t an arrest for corruption or violence or murder, it was an arrest made at a protest for a cause in which she believed. Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the case, she (and I hope most MPs) would not resign for what they perceive as acting in the public interest.

  27. @All

    Completely disagree!

    (Except with AW – ‘grovel grovel’ )

  28. @RiN

    “Why can’t the state hire the armed forces it needs as and when?”

    History shows it’s not very effective.

    If you do not want a state at all thats up to you I have said why I think we need some.State.

  29. @RiN

    “Why can’t the state hire the armed forces it needs as and when?”

    Lack of organisation, structure, training, planning and so on. The best armed forces tend to be the smaller, full-time, always training ones (obviously the US forces are all this, but bigger, and are very well supported by an all-arms structure, which is needed for larger armed forces – They can afford (supposedly) such a force).

  30. AW
    Switch the bloody thing off, otherwise it’s not a holiday. I did in the Dordogne, so just do what i did and bore us about your hols when you return. Alternatively, give me the code to snip and believe me, it will be obscene (but riveting) to watch.

    So actually give me the electronic knife, turn it on again, sit back and enjoy the result, better than GOT.

  31. @ TOH

    Egypt has an army & a relatively small state. That seems to be going about as well as it usually does.

  32. What I need from the state is decent health care, education and social security, if the state isn’t providing those things then I don’t need it at all, the police would only be getting in my way and the armed forces are pointless from my point of view if my life wouldn’t be worse under a foreign govt. I don’t see why I should pay for the police and army when I don’t need them

  33. @Amber Star

    What’s that got to do with anything? Certainly not relevent to a discussion on Britain and the size of the British State.

  34. A small stae that does a limited amount and only spends just over 30% of GDP makes perfect sense if you don’t like paying tax, think you can get by with your own resources everywhere else and you don’t like restrictions on what you do.

    There is however no real evidence that it is more efficient ,more effective or more stable. Those that say it is say so not because they can prove it but because they want to believe it.

    You can equally make the same case for advocates of the Scandanavian high tax big state model.

    I am happy with people being free to advocate which of the two or any other they prefer but I can’t be bothered with those who claim to be able to prove it.


  35. @The Other Howard

    “Its a nice set of numbers, much lower than it is now and it will do for a start.”

    So there isn’t any real reason for those numbers, other than ‘it’s lower than it is now’?

    And you dodged the question about why a smaller state equals greater stability.

    @R in N

    “Come to think of it, why do we need a state at all?”

    That’s a very good question ;)

  36. The actualite of ‘small states’ (I’m speaking in TOH terms, not in terms of geography or population) with standing armies are not encouraging. The army comes to be seen as a privileged elite which is there to do the bidding of an even more privileged elite. The public withdraws its consent – & its taxes – from this arrangement. The examples – in UK history & from around the world to this day – are many & compelling, IMO.

  37. Amber

    I set out some of the reasons why the population withdraws its support for the state above, you of course make the same point in a more intellectual and less emotional way

  38. Amber,

    “The examples – in UK history & from around the world to this day – are many & compelling, IMO.”

    As I was saying about believing without proving, a few of those UK and world examples would help.


  39. @AmberStar

    As always you have your opinion I have mine.
    Switzerland and Australia with state spending to GDP of around 35% and they look fine to me.

  40. In terms of Lucas and the fracking activists, I would be really interested to know what wider uk polling would look like on fracking. I actually suspect a majority in favour if there was a realistic chance of lower energy bills and long term energy security, but again this is just guess work until we get any polls. Would be a good poll to do!

  41. @Anarchists Unite

    I suggest Switzerland is a good example of a smaller state sector and a very stable country.

  42. Rich,

    In line with my view that Climate Change scepticism has risen in line with fuel bills I suspect that support for fracking will be driven by the prospect of lower bills.

    However if you could poll to local level and compared area polls with the national levels scepticism would be higher in areas where there are wind farm proposals and lower where their are fracking ones.


  43. @ TOH

    I suggest Switzerland is a good example of a smaller state sector and a very stable country.
    Yes, but Switzerland doesn’t have much of an army – although I’ve heard their knives are very good.

  44. AW
    Oh, you can only imagine what i would have done with the last posts, destroy, destroy, exterminate, exterminate.

    Except Peter’s. A poll on nimbyism exposing the difference between ‘we need this nationally, but…..’ would be very interesting

  45. Your right Amber and half their army is guarding the Pope

  46. Rich

    But there is no prospect of lower energy bills because the gas market is fully integrated and the
    UK would have to produce colossal amounts to make any kind of dent in the European price, the export of US fracked gas might well have a small effect on the European gas market but it’s main effect will be to raise American prices to European levels(in fact that is the stated aim of the big LPG terminals that are planned, the fracking industry is losing money due to over supply) the industry is trying to sell fracking to the public will promises of lower bills but challenged on this they admit that it’s a misleading claim

  47. @RiN

    “my life wouldn’t be worse under a foreign govt”

    That’s probably what many Ukrainians thought in 1941. Without armed forces, there is less effective diplomacy. Without that…work it out.

  48. @Amber Star

    The Swiss military is organised differently from ours but taking that into consideration it is actually quite large in relation to the population.

  49. Howard

    You seem to be campaigning hard for the role moderator, of course I’ll vote for you but I would like to hear from the other candidates first

  50. I’d like to stand for the post of moderator, as an independent. I’ll change your party backgrounds to all the colours of the rainbow, and I will be using my modding powers neither conservatively nor fairly.

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