The Sun have tweeted tonight’s YouGov voting intention figures – toplines are CON 32%, LAB 41%, LD 8%, UKIP 11%. The Labour lead is up to nine points, the biggest for three weeks or so, and suggests a positive reaction to the conference announcements.

Usual caveats for any poll showing interesting movements apply, especially for the sometimes up and down polls of conference season (some years it doesn’t have much effect on polls, some years they are up and down like a rollercoaster after each conference). Last week we had a narrowing of the Labour lead following the Lib Dem conference, this week a boost in the Labour lead following their conference. Next up we have the Conservative conference – will the Labour conference boost be sustained so they end up the net beneficiaries of conference season? Or will it fade away again once the immediate publicity passes? Or indeed will the Conservatives get their own conference boost next week?

462 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 32, LAB 41, LD 8, UKIP 11”

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  1. Chris Riley,

    Thanks for your reply and that agree that the EU plan is pointless. I agree he has better things to do but as I said the City is very important to us all.

  2. It will be interesting whether polling picks up peoples opinions about socialism. The right wing media report such things as energy prize freezes and government buying unused land, as socialist policies. It will be interesting whether the public would see it in the same way in any polling. I am not sure that they would.

    Price controls and government compulsory purchasing of land have always happened under both Labour and Tory governments. When the HS2 line is built there will be many compulsory purchase orders. There is legislation that allows government to intervene in regard to most public services to cap price increases.

    The other issue I have is that the Banks have been caught fiddling such things as LIBOR and there has also been reports of other commodity markets being fiddled. When business does these things, it must make people believe that free market capitalists are acting in a way that is purely about making as much money from consumers as they can. Therefore when any government starts to take action against business, I am not sure they would see this as socialist, but simply the government standing up for consumers.

    Think Labour will benefit in polling and at the next election, if they are seen on the side of ordinary people. Therefore I expect we will see this coalition government start to launch many policy initiatives to combat this.

  3. Here are Scottish Power railing against Miliband’s proposed price freeze to January 2017

  4. What worries me about a saving of £120 over 12 months is that I think the energy company’s profit margin is close to that amount.

    It’s one of those issues, like petrol prices, where (partially at least) we lash out at big business because of increases that are inherent in the world market. The world has an energy problem.

    UK energy prices are not especially egregious compared to other similar countries.

    I suspect that Labour may pile up votes on the issue, despite probably being in the wrong. But that’s politics.

  5. @R Huckle,

    But isn’t that what the regulators are for?

    Is Ed M going to sack all the staff at OfGem? As he’s clearly decided they have totally failed at their job?

  6. To Chris Riley on TOH:

    ”Personally, I think that a cap on banking bonuses is pointless for the reason you state.

    I do however think that the Chancellor has better things to do and better ways to spend the money. And, politically, it sends an inadvisable message.”

    Complete separation of retail and investment activities by law is a better course, surely – together with pay tied to performance in this economic sector which isn’t just ordinary ‘business’, but a vital arm of everyone’s economy?

  7. The political mileage in the ‘Energy price cap’ policy derives from the fact that everyone knows they have been ripped off by the companies involved. Had the cost of energy been related (to date) to the cost of getting and providing it, people would understand the arguments those companies are making now. Those arguments come badly from companies whose behaviour has been, to say the least, unscrupulous, however.

  8. Neil A

    Piling up votes for being wrong is a common trend of the Tories for the last 30 years as far as I see it!

    Also, he clearly stated in his speech that he believes the market is failing and that he wanted some reform – in fact that seems to be the main thrust and the freezing prices something to do in the meantime.

    In his mind perhaps Ofgen have failed in their job – he has the right to say that – the Tories have said it enough since 2010 about other agencies

    Governments always try and fix prices through changes in taxes etc – it is just in this case it is the companies getting hit rather than the taxpayer

    And all this guff about going back to the 70s – in those days we had nationalised energy, telecomms, rail, mines, steel etc etc. I am not sure we all think we got value for money from those privatisations, in fact we are now seeing things run by nationalised companies from other nations

  9. I tuned in to find out what the YG score was, only to forget that AW was on the midnight oil last night and i had forgotten I had already seen it before retiring..

    Will UKPR out-tweet the Sun in future?

  10. @ Amber

    Seeing as Burnham brought in a signed footie shirt into my wife’s school to raffle wouldn’t be popular with her either :-)

    @ Chris Riley

    Metro is an interesting one as I believe it is owned by a strongly Tory Group (Evening Standard? Daily Mail?) and odd it hasn’t yet gone down the Tory supporting line- especially as it is free and very few people will not pick up a free paper on political principle. When I go to London I try and get my Evening Standard off a train seat but will stick pick one off the news stands if desperate for something to read!

    I agree with what you say about the DT and Daily Mail readers (although I generally find the DT a good paper especially the finance sections) but the key paper always has been the Sun. A less educated readership (patronising but true) and a readership that “should” be Labour orientated (based on AW’s demographics). I think it is massively influencial.

  11. Colin Davis

    You say we have been ripped off by the energy companies and everybody agrees. I think everybody agree that the cost of electtricity and gas has risen well above inflation and is hurting, but have we really been ripped off, and if so why is the cost of electricity and gas in the UK so low with most of the rest of Europe (see

  12. @ Neil A

    Re Regulators. It’s one of the reason’s I am against privatisation of monopoly organisations that may also rely on government subsidies. Be interesting to know the cost of the regulators, tendering etc and the add on cost of all the negotiating, legislation and so on.

    I’ve never really understood why the government is apparently incapable of getting exactly the same staff/skills as, say, Virgin trains and running it in identical fashion but with the option to decide whether prices go up to give more of a return or keep prices low- decisions that can be made on the spot rather than negotiating a contract that may or may not be relevant to circumstances in 5 years time. It cuts out a whole level of beaurocracy.

  13. I seem to remember Alec saying that we were in danger of power cuts before the next election anyway and that we lacked any coherent energy policy. Should these blackouts come to pass, they will no doubt be blamed on the dire prospect of a Labour victory with worse to come.

    All this would, IMHO, be entirely unfair but fairness in attributing blame is not a notable characteristic of politicians on any side. Osborne will claim the credit for a recovery that would have occurred anyway and if anything quicker without him. Nevertheless for reasons of cognitive dissonance or whatever he will quite likely be believed.

    And this is why it is probably clever of Labour to blame the increasing income inequality on the Tories. I suspect that this in fact reflects deep underlying causes and has been little affected by whatever the Tories have done. However, they are vulnerable to the charge that they favour the rich, have even given credence to it by the Omnishambles. And for reasons outwith their control they are going to find it very difficult to reverse the widening gap, even if they decide to try.

    Personally nothing short of death or a thunderbolt is going to stop me voting Labour at the next election. That said, I am fed up with hearing about politicians’ families and the individual voters they have met and the pasties they have eaten (or not as the case may turn out) and the tough decisions they are prepared to take. I liked the bits in EM’s speech where he referred to only the yachts rising with the tide and to Cameron taking a victory lap for the slowest recovery in a 100 years. But I would have liked more a feeling that he had a real grip on why only the yachts were rising and what he could do about it and that he was actually going to deliver. As it was his speech still felt to me as if it was high on rhetoric and included a number of goodies promised to people I feel should get them, but was nevertheless somehow lacking in a fundamental grip of what should be done.

    Oddly enough Andy Burnham does give me a feeling that he knows about the NHS and cares about it, so I really hope he is not for the chop.

  14. @ Neil A

    I think Ed said that they were going to look at energy market regulation.

    If you think about this, at some stage it will be compulsory for smart meters to be fitted. Apparently it is possible for these to be set up to automatically switch to the cheapest tariff available. I am not sure how this would work in practice. I guess that you commit to a contract over a certain period with one provider, either for a fixed price or you allow the meter to always switch to the cheapest non fixed tariff.

    I only raise the smart meter issue, as I think when it comes in as a compulsory thing for all households, it should make the energy market more transparent. I don’t think you will have so many tariffs and I think consumers will have more information. Also the energy companies may then have more data they can supply to regulators.

    There is a danger that the price freeze will affect the energy companies investing in infrastructure and I think that this policy may not be cost free to government. I believe that at some stage significant government money will have to be provided to help build new generation nuclear power stations.

  15. I don’t want to go into bat for energy Providers but One of the New small Ones OVO only has 2 or 3 Tariffs but still ranks as One if Not the cheapest provider
    Stephen Fitzpatrick their CEO wasn’t particularly scathing about Ed’s plan either!

  16. @TOH

    Retail prices charged by the Energy companies to their customers do not reflect wholesale prices. Wholesale prices fluctuate, sometimes by big margins. Retail prices continue to go up. When was the, last, time EDF, SSE etc, passed on a big reduction in wholesale prices to their customers? It simply does not happen

  17. @Edward
    “Burnham may be popular with Labour grassroots but he has a lot of mud coming his way over Stafford.”

    Ahh, Stafford.

    Burnham wasn’t even HS when MS happened & the only people that choose to attack AB on this are the ‘right’ who it seems want to ignore the facts in favour of a smear campaign.

    AB ordered the first Francis report within weeks of becoming HS & gets no criticism in either of the two Francis reports.

  18. @ TOH

    It’s a very good question that’s been posed a lot in the last couple of days. This is where press reporting is so poor as there should already have been in depth articles somewhere to explain it.

    I can think of tons of reasons why this might be the case- subsidies, lack of investment (not priced into bills), mix of energy used in electricity, natural resources, cost of Green power and so on. Colin has already highlighted the German investment decisions- it could be argued that these choices (aside from arguments over nuclear safety) are a long term investment in having control over your own energy production as oil prices continue to rise long term.

    It would be nice is someone could tell us and then we can start to make valued judgments.

    Currently my judgment is based on the profits of the energy companies which seem excessive and the feeling they can be cut.

  19. A lot misunderstanding on here about energy bills and what makes them up, sadly.

    The profit margin in the industry is actually very slim. On a £1200 bill, it’s about 4%, or £49 profit. Green and carbon initiatives are nearer three times that amount, VAT at 5% is on there. The misleading narrative is that a lot of the bill is profit, which is absolutely wrong.

    So, if there was zero profit for example which some of the left call for, the bill would still be £1150, and there would be no investment in the future, less apprenticeships, less jobs in general, and no tax receipts from a sector that pays one of the highest rates of corporation and overall tax to the treasury, at a time when many big companies, as we know, don’t pay much at all.

  20. A slightly lax use of the word ‘everyone’, I agree, TOH. I’m in chat in the pub mode and I merely mean the vast numbers of people with whom this policy has struck a chord.

    However, I doubt you can appeal to the evidence of other countries’ prices as grounds for thinking we aren’t being ripped off. That could mean what you deduce it means, or it could mean that the rest of the EU is being ripped off likewise.

    The energy suppliers are taking advantage of their monopoly position to armtwist the public into paying for their R and D in advance, basically. Chomsky writes very lucidly on this subject. The public pay for the R and D, either through government investment or through getting permission to fix high charges; then the corporations market the stuff and garner the profits. It’s sponging on the state that dwarfs benefit abuse, but is sanctioned by governments, whose personnel can be lobbied and ‘back-hander-ed.’

    The final insult comes with the, ”Stop this, or you won’t get any R and D, and – in this case – the lights will go out!” The Miliband proposal goes but a tiny way towards arresting the blackmail.

  21. @ Rich

    What are the Green and carbon initiatives for exactly ? How is this money spent.

    Why do some people estimate that energy companies have made excess profits of at least £7 billion, because they do not pass on price falls quickly or at all. I think the analysis suggests that looking at how much the energy companies pay for energy over a period of time, that the profit they make is more than what may illustrate showing a household bills breakdown.

  22. @R Huckle

    What you’re saying doesn’t appear ti have any sense to it, especially as the most successful economy in Europe is doing exactly the opposite.

  23. Andy Burnham

    Is one of the few Politicians of any party who take their brief seriously.

    He is widely respected within the Health Sector for his Knowledge of How things really work and is regarded by an order of magnitude as superior to His Two Successors.

    As Chordata pointed out the Tories recent, largely ineffectual , attempt to smear Him by misrepresenting the findings of both the Keogh and Francis reports has occurred because they regard Him as an effective adversary.

    He would be a loss to any front bench

  24. Chordata,

    Not quite sure it is as black and white as you say over Burnham.

    Whether it is a smear campaign or not, for Miliband to keep him because Tories don’t like him would be the wrong decision, he doesn’t come over well and all the mud slinging over Stafford won’t help Labour in Health.

    If the reports are right and he rids him I think he will be doing the right thing.

  25. @ Rich

    “UK households are currently paying the lowest retail gas prices in the EU 15 and among the lowest retail electricity prices. Our policies are designed to help bring forward the investment needed to replace ageing power stations, move towards more climate friendly energy generation like renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage and improve the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses. This currently accounts for only 9% of the household energy bill and it is essential we do this work if we are to both power the country in the future and protect the planet while maintaining affordability.”

    The above is from the current UK government’s own 2012 energy report.

  26. RAF

    I hear what you say but you don’t answer the other part of my question. Why does the UK energy look cheaper than much of Europe?

  27. Then we will have to agree to disagree Edward.

  28. RICH
    What are your profit margins based upon?
    Are they,for example based upon a consumer being charged on the optimum (cheapest) tariff or on a more expensive option, the complexity of actually getting the cheapest tariff is Byzantine and involves lots of opportunities for the energy companies to levy extra charges if you decide to switch provider.

    As l mentioned on a previous thread Labour is not alone in seeking reform of the Energy industry,Tory M.P. John Penrose recently wrote a detailed discussion document called ‘We deserve better’ on precisely this topic,it is available on line ,and is certainly worth a look,if only because it gives the lie to the idea that what Ed M is proposing is somehow Socialist madness.

  29. Rich
    “A lot misunderstanding on here about energy bills and what makes them up, sadly.

    The profit margin in the industry is actually very slim. On a £1200 bill, it’s about 4%, or £49 profit. Green and carbon initiatives are nearer three times that amount, VAT at 5% is on there. The misleading narrative is that a lot of the bill is profit, which is absolutely wrong.

    So, if there was zero profit for example which some of the left call for, the bill would still be £1150, and there would be no investment in the future, less apprenticeships, less jobs in general, and no tax receipts from a sector that pays one of the highest rates of corporation and overall tax to the treasury, at a time when many big companies, as we know, don’t pay much at all.”

    As I said earlier, People need to be careful what they wish for. As TOH (I think) also said, the UK is well down the list of comparative energy prices in the rest of Europe. Yes, the companies make huge profits, but so is their turnover huge. What is relevant is their profit margin, not their profit per se.

    Having said all that, we do need the market simplifying (too many confusing tariffs exist) & we do need new players to maintain competition.

    Cameron has already made encouraging noises. He needs to follow this through with firm action in the following months. EM’s policy falls apart under real scrutiny, – do we really want thousands who work in the sector thrown out of work, power cuts etc.

    The difficulty is getting the public to understand the whole issue & not just the populist bit.

  30. “British energy bills are the cheapest in Europe.

    “It’s a claim we hear regularly from the whole of the energy industry, but is it true? Well, yes and no. Independent figures show that Britons do indeed pay less for gas than anyone else in Western Europe, though for electricity, we are only fourth cheapest in a ranking of 15 nations.

    “Even that, you might say, is vindication for the energy sector. Actually not. For a breakdown of bills across those 15 countries reveals that we pay less, mostly because – believe it or not – taxes on gas and electricity are very low here compared to almost everywhere else. Taxes account for just 9 per cent of a British gas bill – compared to 35 per cent in Sweden and 23 per cent, on average, across Europe.”
    The Indie.

  31. Re Andy B

    Then we will have to agree to disagree Edward. (Chordata)
    I disagree with Edward too.

  32. Indie reporting that Labour are going to ask the Tories to return £5m worth of donations from Michael Spencer.

    Of course they won’t (they probably can’t), but I think there is a damaging narrative on the rise for the Tories and they need to stop it very quickly or they’ll end up on the defensive – not where they’re used to being of late.

  33. Amber Star

    Interesting piece, would like to see the detail for each country, do you have a reference?

    Looks like Thatcher Government got energy taxation right at the time of privatisation and the low rax regime has continued ever since under the last and this government.

  34. Steve

    By the fact it seems pretty clear his position is under scrutiny suggests Mr Miliband isn’t as satisfied with his performance as you.

    I think the Tories would be happy for him to stay, as unlike you I think Hunt has no trouble dealing with him in the Commons.

    In an election that could go either way Labour need to be scoring hits in Health and Education to boost when needed, that isn’t happening with Burnham and Twigg.

  35. @TOH

    This is a good reference

    In summary, our electricity is amongst the most expensive to produce, but we have the lowest taxes.

    – because most of Europe uses more renewables which are fixed cost (paid via the higher taxes), but once that base is installed, it produces cheap energy (you don’t pay for the sun or wind)

  36. Richard

    Many thanks I will have a good look at this.

  37. Edward

    As somebody with a personal interest in health matters I agree with you, Hunt has had no problems dealing with Burnham in the Commons.

  38. Richard

    Electricity is cheap in France because they use nuclear & invested heavily in it years ago. However I expect the unit cost to rise in the future, as more of these ruddy inefficient windmills are built. I just hope they do not follow the new German model.

    Most of the bill is taxed at 19.6% A small part is at 5.5%

    Can’t speak for gas as we don’t have it.

  39. @ TOH

    It’s a .pdf file from a cache of government documents so I can’t post a link directly to it.

    If you Google the phrase:
    uk government report energy cost composition should return (near the top of the list of sites): Estimated Impacts of Energy & Climate Change Policies.
    This link will open the .pdf report.

  40. Now Twigg I do agree with.A very nice man but has given no lead in opposition
    To Gove.To the despair of many teachers.Also Byrne,he will never live that note down.I think Andy Burnham is safe.Sadhiq Khan is not an effective
    communicator ,always mumbling and muddling,but He is very close to Ed.

  41. The Other Howard,

    I think it would be more difficult for him faced with say Cooper.

    There is a lot of scope for Miliband to improve his shadow-cabinet both in personnel and position, which will help Labour’s strategy from now to 2015.

  42. @ Edward,

    By the fact it seems pretty clear his position is under scrutiny suggests Mr Miliband isn’t as satisfied with his performance as you.

    The sole evidence for this is that he failed to commit to keeping Burnham in post in the Q&A session yesterday. Considering the other facts on the ground: that a) Burnham is hugely popular with the party, b) Labour has a large, consistent lead on the NHS and health is rising in salience in the polls, and c) moving Burnham would both reward and legitimise the Tory smear campaign against him, I suspect the rumours of his relegation are greatly exaggerated.

    Loathe as am to defend Stephen Twigg, whose career peaked on the night he was elected, I should point out that Labour consistently lead on education as well.

    One could make the argument that given the performance of the Government they should be leading by even more, and their modest 10 or 20 point leads in these areas are due to the failures of the shadow ministers responsible (in Twigg’s case I probably would make that argument), but on the face of it there’s no hard evidence that Burnham and Twigg are ineffective.

  43. Ann in Wales,

    In Education it will be very difficult to find anybody to put against Gove to be fair to Twigg, Balls found him too good as well. Many Teachers really like what Gove is doing, you have to be fair. Same with May in the Home Office, she is really strong as well.

    Where Byrne and Burnham are there is more scope for some gains, it certainly seems Burnham is not safe.

  44. @ Robert Newark

    But how is this profit calculated? Isn’t there a big grey area based on what the energy companies charge themselves for the energy in the first place?

  45. @Edward

    Even the Tories admit they were relieved when Balls left Education as he had the measure of the Ed Sec. Not a lot of point rewriting history.

    I work with teachers as part of my job, across both public and private sectors. I know what they think of the Education Secretary and it is largely consistent across sectors. They often venture their opinion unbidden, which I have never experienced before and can be quite startling.

  46. @ Edward,

    Many Teachers really like what Gove is doing, you have to be fair.

    Yes, the unprecedented votes of no confidence in him from all three major teaching unions have certainly conveyed that impression.

  47. Spearmint,

    Come off it the rumours have been around for some time, not just yesterday. Like I said before the Tories would be delighted if he stays where he is, Balls as well come to that.

    Labour have traditionally been trusted more on Health and Education, that view is entrenched, not much to do with Twigg or Burnham.

    Twigg has never got the message accross on where Labour stand on Education, more State control or Independance. Burnham is simply damaged goods, who can’t be used as front man smiley boy anymore, Ummuna does that job now and will probably take the Health role as well.

  48. Spearmint,

    I am not talking about Unions, who in my view are failing to represent Teachers in their best interests anyway.

    I am talking about good Teachers who want the opportunity to earn more money their talents and influence deserve.

  49. @Edward

    Rather you hope Burnham goes as the only shadow minister actually opposing Tory ‘reforms’.

  50. @Rich

    I think you may have been the victim of figures presented with creative accounting. It’s the old trick of a company charging costs between it’s subsidiaries, so they can report only minor profits on any individual activity, while still making massive profits as a company as a whole. This is magnified when you can have vertical integration.

    In the UK, an energy *supplier* might well be making only a tiny margin from the bill to a consumer. But that same company owns the generation. And they set the price they sell to themselves. So they can make a huge margin on the price of generation, but still claim that they are “offering a fair price” to consumers at the supply end of the chain.

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