YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. The fieldwork for the poll was delayed from the usual cycle, being conducted from Friday lunchtime to Saturday morning so it could reflect the aftermath of the Syria vote.

Topline voting intention is CON 31%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. Technically this is within the margin of error of YouGov’s recents polls, there have been instances of one-off YouGov polls showing 10+ point leads in July and June, however it would be a bit of a freakish co-incidence if one of those outlying polls just happened to come along the day after a big defeat for the government, so I expect it is showing a genuine increase to Labour’s poll lead.

Looking at the other trackers, there is actually only a very marginal change to David Cameron’s ratings. 36% think he is doing a good job (down from 38%), 55% think he is doing badly 55% (down from 56%) – all normal margin of error variation. There is a more noticable boost for Ed Miliband, 24% think he is doing a good job (up from 20%), 63% a bad job (down from 68%). So, a small increase in the Labour lead, and a modest increase in perceptions of Ed Miliband. What remains to be seen is whether those changes stick, or whether they are just a short term effect of a news event.

Looking at other more specific Syria questions, people are broadly split over whether David Cameron did or did not show strong leadership over Syria (39% think he did, 41% think he did not). In comparison 28% think Ed Miliband showed strong leadership, 46% that he did not (only 10% think Clegg showed strong leadership). Parliament as a whole comes out the most positively – 58% think it performed well, 27% badly.

66% of people agree with the argument that chemical weapons are especially horrific and should be regarded as a crime against humanity, 26% think they are terrible… but no worse than the mass killing people using other methods. People are not, however, convinced that the Assad regime has used them – 43% think they have, 43% don’t know. Overall 68% think it is right that Britain does not take part in military action, 16% think Britain should have taken part.

When people opposed to military action were asked why the effect of Iraq and Afghanistan becomes clear – 36% said it was because they wanted UN support for an attack, 38% that it would make things worse not better, but the biggest single factor (mentioned by 51%) was the fear that a limited missile strike would inevitably lead to more British involvement later, and ultimately Britain being dragged into another land war.

Looking to the future, while people were opposed to British involvement in an attack on Syria, they are not opposed to us offering support to the USA doing it! By 48% to 31% people would support the USA being allowed to use British bases in Cyprus, 70% think we should share intelligence about Syria with the US, 64% that we should support any attack diplomatically at the UN. It looks as though it is British involvement people oppose, not an attack per se.

Also out this morning is a new immigration poll from Lord Ashcroft. I am about to go out so will update on it later, but you can read about it yourself here.

268 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 31, LAB 41, LD 9, UKIP 13”

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  1. …charge!

  2. I think that the US should take action but the UK not is a sensible position. The US is the superpower, after all, and its capabilities, not just militarily but in diplomacy, intelligence gathering and so on are just so much superior.

  3. A very interesting poll and unlikely to be either an outlier and/or oscillation at the margins of MOE. I’m not surprised that there’s only been slight changes in the personal ratings of the leaders because perceptions change slowly but, as our marketing and PA people keep telling us, the “direction of travel” is the key!

    As we head into the Conference season, internal party discipline and morale is quite often more important than the state of public opinion at the time, although the two are inextricably linked, and I would have thought that this is a particularly bad time for a leader to be at loggerheads with sections of his own party and to have normally tame and supine newspapers on your case.

    Some reasons to be cheerful this morning for Ed Miliband, perhaps, after a very difficult summer?

  4. Has an opposition leader ever scored higher than a sitting PM on the “who would be better in an international crisis” question?

  5. It may be the case that some of those polled are still giving Cameron credit for the action taken in Libya. This may be seen as action that worked, although I don’t see Libya being reported on that often to know how stable it is.

  6. Most people who opposed UK involvement in Syria did so because of fear of escalation of British involvement.,

    This was all because of Iraq.

    DC has a job to do now if he wants to stop UK drifting into Isolationism.

    But the answers to the questions on situations where Britain might consider intervention encourage one to believe that we are not.

    Work to do though.

  7. @Alec

    In a previous article… (Ed Miliband’s big test is to make voters see him as prime minister, Sept 29 2012) Rawnsley states: “He read PPE at Oxford, worked with me on a politics programme on Channel 4, landed a job as a special adviser… ”

    Rawnsley’s merits as a commentator are not for me to judge, except to say that he probably has a copyright on some of the populist narratives (Blair vs Brown, Brown’s a bully) which are read and parroted thoughout the media.

    Quite modest to say that Ed “worked with me”… what he doesn’t mention was that he (Andrew Rawnsley) was working “with” Vincent Hannah, the driving force behind A Week in Politics.

    Hannah was a really talented journalist and a commited trade unionist… though some accused him (and Rawnsley) of having an SDP bias (Hannah married Joan Fitt, Gerry’s daughter).

    How Rawnsley characterises the politics of a Cameron/Miliband personality clash will be worth watching in the run up to the election.

  8. TOH

    ( from prior thread)

    @” It will be interesting to see how YouGov goes next week as people reflect on the fact that Obama has decided to consult congress”

    It will.

    The whole thing will become highly nuanced as the end game of US intervention ( or not) plays out.

    How the public finally perceive the performances of DC & EM is hard to judge at present .

  9. Rawnsley has a pro-Blair background for sure but he is no Hodges and whilst I might disagree with him he is not destructive. imo

  10. Jim jam,
    Rawnsley not destructive?Have you read “The end of the party”?He did a pretty good hatchet job on Brown in that.

  11. mean now Ann

  12. @COLIN

    I don’t entirely agree, in part yes some will have opposed UK involvement because of Iraq, others like myself see Libya as the problem as well, from no fly zone to destroy all Libya forces; talk about mission creep… imo

  13. Hmm. So if I’m to believe some on here, this poll shows a clear public judgement that Ed’s leadership is poor. Despite the poll showing a modest jump in Labour lead. Despite the poll showing a small rise in Ed’s score for overall leadership. Despite the poll showing an slight fall in Dave’s score for overall leadership.

    Forgive me if I remain a little sceptical of these judgements until I’ve seen a bit more polling. Taking the specific Syria questions in isolation would be a mistake, in my view.

    It’s also worth remembering that this poll predates the US climb down last night. I think this is significant. The narrative last night was very clearly that the US is doing what Labour asked Cameron to do. This potentially changes all perceptions of the relative merits of the two UK parties positions.

  14. Thinking about the antipathy of voters for war it is surprising that Libya has been so quickly forgotten.Were we not then promised no mission creep only to
    See Cameron and Sarkosy hailed as conquering heroes in Tripoli.Since then
    There seems to be very little information about the current situation there.I know the situation was different in that Gaddaffi had no international allies but
    It is perhaps a consideration.

  15. Jimjam,
    Yes,I thought today’s article was very balanced.

  16. @T’Other Jim

    Whenever you do an industrial survey, a majority of employees ‘have considered’ leaving or resigning at some point in the last 12 months.
    It’s built into the assumptions of well-informed organisational planning that a proportion of your staff will *always* want a ‘better’ (for personal values of ‘better’) job no matter what an employer does, and that a lot more would move given the right impetus (which is often not too much – annoyance with management is usually the biggest reason)

    In addition, there are suggestions that an increase in economic confidence after several years of job insecurity means that people who had stayed put for a while are now more confident about moving jobs. So, whilst I can’t rule out that nurses might be royally hacked off, there could be unpolitical reasons why a lot of them are considering leaving their jobs.

  17. Anthony,

    One of the Scottish papers is quoting AV new YouGov poll on the referendum.


  18. Obama’s approach is set out here.

    The tone is very forceful such that, while he sees the need to get Congress’s endorsement, there’s no doubt what he wants to see happen and that he’s making it as difficult as he can for Congress to go against him.

    An outcome where the US acts to check Assad whilst the UK is supportive but avoids direct involvement seems to be the outcome that public opinion here wants.

  19. @AW

    “and a modest increase in perceptions of Ed Miliband”

    As predicted, and it has taken him up to levels seen 2-3 weeks ago. Both times, after the 2012 budget and the Labour conference, his ratings jumped by about 20 points or so. This time it’s just a change of about 10 points, from a very low point. In addition, Cameron’s rating hasn’t dropped as much as it did in the 2012 event.

    The big question is whether this is an outlier of recent trends, if Ed can build on this, or not, and how the party conferences turn out. Lib, Lab, Con is the order I think (SNP in October by the way), so it will be interesting to see who ‘wins’ from them all.

  20. The 51% of voters thinking any action would increase the chances of becoming involved in a ground war (even though the question partly just talks about getting further involved) was one that gobsmacked me a bit.

    I think there is zero chance of any politician getting to that stage because a) the problems with Iraq/Afghanistan and the deep unpopularity amongst voters of that action and b) the template they used for Libya.

  21. I was worried about EM over the summer he did not seem to have any response to the media attacks on him. I reassured myself that with a fixed term parliament you don’t want to start your campaign too early. Now I see that he is good at tactics and very effective at getting what he wants – so more confident about a Lab win in 2015

  22. Alec

    Like you I will watch with interest how public perception of DC and EM pan out over the next few weeks. You have your view of the latest YouGov and are sceptical of how i read it, fair enough but i have to say if I was Cameron I would be encouraged by some aspects of the poll.

    I also supect that DC will get considerable credit for putting the issue to a vote and the effect his having done so on Obama’s susequent decision to refer Syria to congress. All in IMO of course but the next few polls will be more interesting than usual this far out from an election.

  23. @Chris Riley

    The problem as I see it…
    We are asking many health care workers not just nurses, to do more with less staff and trying to do it on the cheap.

    There will come a time when those staff say no, and refuse to work understaffed…
    Not because they want to, but because they will have to, or possibly face being held responsible for negligence, have no doubt this is the pressure some workers are under because of staffing levels.

    Home care workers not being paid for travel/time between clients is just wrong, just as having those same workers on ZHC, those workers end up with less than minimum wage… the other thing paying minimum wage for this type of employment is also just stupid, the responsibility ratio to pay is not right or fair…

    The county as a whole are going to pay more in the long run, than paying a decent wage and proper staffing levels would cost in the first place.

  24. @Statgeek

    Perceptions of Miliband depend to a fair degree on perceptions of how well or otherwise Labour is doing in the polls, the latter taking time to evolve. A significant minority of Labour voters answer negatively when asked about his leadership, and if Labour were seen to be enjoying larger leads it’s reasonable to expect that minority to shrink.

    This morning’s YouGov is unlikely (as ever) to be widely reported, but if sustained I think in time the perception of improved performance will seep through, if only by influencing the tone of political commentary. It should at the very least serve to knock on the head the ludicrous attempts to portray Miliband as being under internal political pressure as a result of Tuesday’s vote.

  25. I think there may well have been some Syria effect here. Most of the Labour increase seems to be coming from a 2010 Lib Dem to Labour movement. Indeed the Labour share is now higher than the Lib Dem retention again, which I don’t think we’ve seen for a while.

    How long the effect will last I don’t know and most of the movement is still probably MoE. The fact that little movement appeared in the Survation poll (Opinium was mainly taken before Thursday’s events had their effect – or not) could suggest that it may not be that important. Still keeping those ex-Lib Dems happy is useful.

    Miliband’s improvement isn’t that great, even among Labour supporters (from 51-44 to 55-39) though there may be a useful change in the uncommitted. But it may have stemmed the decline of recent weeks, which will be useful for him, though he needs to keep building on that.

    The ‘strong leadership’ question is probably not as bad for Miliband as it looks. The serving PM always has an advantage in this sort of situation, purely because they are the one doing the leading and Miliband has more DKs which always make the gap look worse. I also think with all these sort of questions that the Conservative leader always has an advantage in that Tory voters seem automatically to be more loyal. So among their own supporters Cameron has a +55 rating in the ‘leadership over Syria’ results, Miliband only +22. Clegg has -4 which should worry him. It probably also helps Cameron that the coalition means he gets some ‘transfer partisan’ support from Lib Dems.

    (Repeated from last thread)

  26. Roger Mexico

    As I said to Alec. We shall see over the next few weeks how public perceptions move on this issue.

  27. Labour get a 41 they haven’t had for some time. This could be margin of error, but it’s some coincidence. People feel Parliament did well and Labour (seemingly) gets a boost.

    EM’s rating changes for the better but not very much. I think Phil Haines (just above) has it right. Nobody’s sure how much what happened stemmed from his personal approach to the crisis – and many on the Labour side see the party as having been the driver. EM’s not on the back foot at this juncture, however.

    Meanwhile Obama goes to Congress. Will that reflect well on DC in that he went to Parliament first? The right will try to spin that, but Obama had no intention of following DC until EM blocked DC’s path and the American public’s clamour for much the same as the UK public clamoured became irresistable.

    By the way, people, check out the bloggers re the CW situation. There’s a story, which is certainly not being featured in the mainstream media, concerning the role of the Saudi intelligence services in providing the Syrian rebels with these deadly things. Bloggers are bloggers, of course. Read around for yourselves.

  28. Phil

    “A significant minority of Labour voters answer negatively when asked about his leadership, and if Labour were seen to be enjoying larger leads it’s reasonable to expect that minority to shrink.”

    I’m not following the logic here, I know it’s often difficult to determine which is cause and which is effect but surely you must have some doubts about your contention here

  29. The stand out in the Yougov poll for me seems to be the drop in female support. It is only one poll so will have to see if that is replicated, but over the summer, to me at least it seems much of the increase in conservative support came from an increase in female support. (family friendly policies like internet filters).

    So its either the war talk or the unflattering beach pictures playing badly with the female vote that is the current cause of decline looking at this poll.

    Does anyone have graphs of male vs female support over a timeline?

  30. Re the polls:

    It was being argued recently that the Con-Lab gap was narrowing and that this wasn’t the UKIP effect. Yougov’s own figures for the period since February demonstrated that. I think it’s another case of being selective as to where you start from. Here are the monthly averages for the last thirteen entire months (most recent first):

    Con Lab LD UKIP Others
    32,06% 38,12% 10,29% 12,35% 7,24%
    31,59% 38,54% 10,22% 12,38% 7,24%
    29,82% 38,14% 9,82% 14,29% 7,82%
    28,82% 37,91% 9,65% 16,06% 7,47%
    30,53% 39,63% 10,43% 12,53% 7,03%
    29,52% 40,03% 11,24% 12,48% 6,83%
    31,00% 41,83% 10,45% 9,72% 6,79%
    31,66% 41.51% 10,31% 9,83% 6,63%
    30,75% 41,89% 9,68% 10,61% 7,14%
    32,79% 42,46% 9,18% 7,96% 7,61%
    32,50% 42,88% 9,00% 7,78% 7,66%
    32,31% 42,69% 9,24% 7,69% 8,00%
    32,82% 42,61% 9,57% 7,32% 7,86%

    Taken over the year, yes, Labour have slipped back from 42 plus to 38 plus. The Tories have scarcely changed over the period. They had a dip in the Spring and have eased back up from that – but only to where they were in the Autumn of last year. The beneficiaries of the Labour slippage have been UKIP.

    Talk of the Tories closing the gap – and this continuing between now and the election – seems to me ridiculously optimistic, therefore, although I’m certainly no statistician.

  31. SHEVII

    @”The 51% of voters thinking any action would increase the chances of becoming involved in a ground war (even though the question partly just talks about getting further involved) was one that gobsmacked me a bit.”

    Indeed-despite DC/ BO constantly emphasising the short sharp nature of the planned intervention.

    I think that 51% shows that people could not see a controllable end to the intervention.-& I think however much one’s heart is with DC/BO’s feelings about the 21st August CW atrocity, ( & mine certainly is ) the inability to demonstrate that no counter-response would occur is a huge problem for the plan.

  32. TOH

    @”I also supect that DC will get considerable credit for putting the issue to a vote and the effect his having done so on Obama’s susequent decision to refer Syria to congress.”

    I agree-it was DC’s commitment-which he honoured, and whilst it remains to be seen what Obama actually does-his copying of DC’s actions will be noted I think.

  33. For once, Colin, I agree with you!

    I think the real problem is we just don’t know what the effect of lobbing missiles into Syria would be. What will Syria do; what will Russia do? What will Iran do? Will any or all of them attack Israel. Will we then have to come to Israel’s aid? Will that mean feet on the ground? We really don’t know. I think that’s why 51% are still unsure where all this would lead to.

  34. Looking at many of the questions, there is a clear gender divide:

    Approval – 30% male, only 24% female
    Cameron doing well, 39% male, only 34% female

    It may just be that this poll has lots of labour supporting females, but if this does represent a true shift in the female vote against prime ministers who want to take us into more wars, then given that females are the far larger percentage of ‘don’t knows’, (23% female vs 11% male) how does that impact the allocation of ‘don’t knows’? Is the conservative headline voting intention then overstated and by how much?



    I have one small caveat-Obama said yesterday , when describing the action he was planning, that it would “degrade” Assad’s ability to use CW.

    I am presuming that BO didn’t use those words lightly & that they refer to a specific element of the military plan.

    Of course, I would be the first to agree that military plans don’t always work out-but if the action takes place , and in retrospect it is seen to have the effect on CW capability which BO mentioned-I think that would be a huge plus for US/France -and indeed DC.

    ………Conversely we could see Assad step up his use of CW if no action takes place.

    ……or step up his use of CW if the action does take place.

    …and quite clearly the public to these two scenarios might be very very different in political terms.

    The whole thing is very nuanced, and we won’t know the political effect for leaders until it is over.

  36. A few points on the YG poll:

    1. I am amazed that the leadership ratings for Cameron are not worse. Apparently 39% think Cameron has shown strong leadership over Syria – what planet do these people live on? How could anyone characterise recalling parliament and losing the vote strong leadership?? Either these people have not been paying attention or the Con spin operation has been spectacularly successful. I hope we get more polls on this issue over the next few days to see if there is a change when the news sinks in properly.

    2. As Roger M says, the 2010 Lib retention figures have changed significantly in today’s poll, as one would expect, many of the 2010 Libs were Labour refugees still smarting over the Iraq war.

    3. There is a significant gender gap on the Syria questions, with women substantially less likely to agree to military intervention. On other questions, men are more likely to approve of the government and Cameron’s leadership.

  37. HAL

    I think there is a difference between “strong leadership” over a response to CW use by the Syrian regime………

    …………and “strong leadership” at Westminster over his Party.

  38. shevii

    The 51% of voters thinking any action would increase the chances of becoming involved in a ground war (even though the question partly just talks about getting further involved) was one that gobsmacked me a bit.

    Your right about the reasons why it’s unlikely, but they had two or three options to pick (from eight)[1] and something can still be a worry if the potential loss is great even if the likelihood is low (that’s the principle behind insurance after all). So it may not be the main reason that worried many people but it’s one that would still worry a lot of them.

    For the record this question was only asked of those who “want[ed] Britain to keep out of any military
    action in Syria”[2]

    What I though interesting about the responses was how evenly they were spread. Normally the response to this sort of thing is more varied – instead six of the eight got a response in the 29-38% bracket. It may suggest that people picked almost at random from all the reason and thought them equally valid. And we know from earlier polling that even some of those in favour of intervention may share some of these worries.

    Although support by Party for still surprisingly even after such a partisan event, there were revealing differences in the reasons given[3]. UKIP opponents were by far the most isolationist; Labour the least but worried about UN support; Lib Dems most worried about casualties but least about mission creep; Conservatives matching the general profile tightest.

    [1] And picked an average of 2.5 by my reckoning.

    [2] In my opinion YouGov were a bit sloppy in asking this question after they asked about the chemical weapons attack, which could have influence support for the Commons decision asked immediately afterwards (not that support wasn’t still 68-16). Even odder the first question states “Last week chemical weapons were used in a suburb of Damascus, the capital of Syria” while the second starts “Assuming that a chemical attack did take place”.

    [3] Small sample sizes obviously: Con 243, Lab 408, Lib Dem 75, UKIP 146.

  39. TOH said
    “I also supect that DC will get considerable credit for putting the issue to a vote”

    I’ve seen several recent uses of this phrase across the media with the claim that Blair didn’t allow a vote on Iraq which of course is utter nonsense because its so easy to prove that he did.

  40. @All

    Chart update folks.

    @Phil Haines

    See the latest article on my cross break sampling logic. It may or may not explain the 10% lead.

  41. @RiN

    “A significant minority of Labour voters answer negatively when asked about his leadership, and if Labour were seen to be enjoying larger leads it’s reasonable to expect that minority to shrink.”

    I’m not following the logic here, I know it’s often difficult to determine which is cause and which is effect but surely you must have some doubts about your contention here

    Sorry, that was a bit cryptic.

    I’m sure that to some extent views of leaders drives VI, but perception which party is going to win must also drive perception of leaders on their own side. I think both reinforce each other.

    Put it this way, if Labour were 20% ahead in the polls, more of those chosing to vote Labour would consider Miliband to be “doing well” as leader (the YouGov wording), because he looked to be well on course to delivering a government of the colour they wanted.

    Conversely, if Labour fell behind the Conservatives, more Labour supporters would answer that he was “doing badly” simply because the prospect of another Conservative government looked real.

  42. @ Statgeek

    Do you have a link?

  43. It is clear that a substantial block of Labour voters switched to the Lib Dems over Iraq plus the general belief that the Lib Dems were more left wing than New Labour.

    It is equally clear that many of that group switched back to Labour the moment the Coalition was formed. One consequence I would expect to flow from last week’s events would be the cementing of most of those Lib Dems in the Labour column.

    Under FPTP does Labour really need to do anything more than hold its 2010 vote and keep the left wing Lib Dems on board to become the largest party?

  44. Wow. Labour 41% coalition 40% (31 + 9). Doesn’t happen that often, does it?

  45. 58% think Parliament performed well, 27% badly.
    Well yes, that’s a pretty neat way of saying that ‘the public’ got what they wanted whilst avoiding the delicate question of whether particular politicians were boosted / defeated / humilitated / whatever.

    So ‘victory’ is plucked out of the jaws of defeat no matter what the outcome. Great spin job.

  46. @Richard,
    Well,one should never underestimate the power of ridicule.Think Hague and
    baseball cap,David Milliband and banana.Those pictures were awful and he
    Certainly did not look prime ministerial then.

  47. Chordata

    I was in no way referring to Blair, just putting my view of how many people will view Cameron.

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