[This is crossposted from the Spectator Coffee House – the original is over here]

In YouGov’s poll this morning for the Sun the Conservatives had 33% support, Labour 40%, the Liberal Democrats 9% and UKIP 11%. While it would be a gross exaggeration to say all of UKIP’s support comes from the Conservative party, they do gain a disproportionate amount of support from ex-Tories and it’s natural for people to add together that Conservative 33% and that UKIP 11% and think what might be.

The reality though may not be as simple as adding the two together. In yesterday’s poll YouGov also asked people to imagine that UKIP and the Conservatives agreed a pact at the next general election where they would not stand against each other, with UKIP backing the Conservative candidate in most constituencies and the Conservatives backing the UKIP candidate in a small number of constituencies. We then asked how they’d vote under those circumstances. Once you’ve taken out the don’t knows and wouldn’t votes, the new Conservative/UKIP alliance would be on 35% of the vote (up just two points on their current support), Labour would be on 45% (up five points on their current support), the Liberal Democrats on 11% (up two points), 9% of people would vote for other parties (down eight points).

So what goes wrong, how does 33 plus 11 equal only 35?

The bottom line is that parties don’t own their voters – even if the Conservative party and UKIP were to want a pact, it wouldn’t follow that their voters would be happy to play along. Amongst people who currently vote UKIP 56% would vote for the new Conservative/UKIP Alliance, but that leaves 44% of them who wouldn’t – who would go to Labour, or stay at home, or find an alternative non-mainstream party to back. Many of the people voting UKIP are doing so because they are unhappy or disillusioned with the government or the Conservative party (or in many cases with *all* the mainstream parties). A deal between the Conservatives and UKIP is not necessarily going to make them any less unhappy or disillusioned, many would just find a different way of expressing it at the ballot box.

Meanwhile a quarter of current Tory supporters wouldn’t vote Tory if they entered a pact with UKIP – 5% would switch to Labour, 4% to the Lib Dems, 16% would stay at home or are not sure what they’d do. A deal with UKIP might get many UKIP voters back on board, but it would lose voters in the centre to Labour and the Liberals. Equally the Conservative core selling point at the moment is the claim they are the safe pair of hands, the party willing to make the tough and hard-headed decisions needed to get the economy back on solid ground. UKIP’s well documented teething-troubles with amateurism, gaffes and somewhat eccentric people who have attached themselves to the party during its rapid growth may not be exactly complementary to that message.

But if parties don’t own their voters, can’t buy and sell them in electoral pacts, that also means the Conservative party can target UKIP’s voters without necessarily needing to deal with UKIP – although once again, the difficulty is doing so without alienating more centrist voters. The overwhelming majority of current UKIP voters say they would be more likely to vote Conservative if they promised harsher policies on immigration… but that would risk the Conservative party losing more moderate votes and playing to negative perceptions that it was bigoted or racist. However, 57% of UKIP voters say they will be more likely to vote Conservative if the economy improves, 40% if they thought it was the only way of stopping Ed Miliband being Prime Minister. There are ways the Conservatives can appeal to UKIP voters without necessarily apeing their policies.

402 Responses to “How would people vote with a Con-UKIP pact?”

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  1. AMBER
    “@ TOH, Carfrew. …Anthony already suggested you swap e-mails – or get a room… ;-)

    Or a life …-:)
    For God’s sake.

  2. NEILA

    @”“The tax break would apply if one of the spouses was a basic rate taxpayer working part-time * who did not utilise their full tax allowance, and the other spouse was also a basic rate taxpayer”.

    If you insert “or not working” at *-yes as I understand it.

    The essence of it seems to be that , for a married couple, one of whom does not fully utilise their personal tax allowance , an option to transfer £1000 pa of it to the other earner should be available.

  3. STEVE

    @”Of course if there isn’t an upper cut off the benefit fort hose on the top rate of tax would be more than double those on basic rate tax!”

    If one earner is a higher rate tax payer, the transferable Personal Allowance is not available.

  4. chordata

    “Anthony, I know you have said we shouldn’t respond to partisan comments so I didn’t but I just wondered if it is really ok to refer to Ed M as ‘Wallace’ on here ?”

    Agreed: that comment formed part of a partisan comment aimed at me. I didn’t respond because I find, as a general rule, that when I do so my response is deleted and the offensive post has a very good chance of remaining in place.

    Like “no smoking” rules at entrances to hospital I fine “rules” gain respect by being enforced not just rigorously but – within reason – in a manner that all can understand and therefore adhere to.

    My only complaint with this excellent site is that is appears to be somewhat arbitrary in that respect and that comments pointing that out are not allowed either!

  5. @Colin,

    I suppose my confusion was that if someone is a basic rate taxpayer then they probably aren’t “not working”.

  6. NEILA

    Sure-we will get the detail in due course no doubt-plus all the opposition so well anticipated in your excellent post of 11.50am

  7. re the Cons-LD discussions about a 2nd coalition, I’m not very surprised that it’s happening, but surprised we are hearing it confirmed. Either way it all sounds a little “continental”, ironically because it’s probably forced by the UKIP effect.

    I think perhaps in this country we have become a little too used to single-party governments within living memory, often with very large overall majorities. Perhaps now we will have to get used to more horse-trading, both before and after elections?

  8. Well, it’s not like they’re announcing it- Matthew d’Ancona is claiming it. Probably not something Cameron wanted leaked the day before conference.

  9. The more people read , hear, believe in the idea that the LDs preference is for another Con coalition then, I feel, the dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooomeder they are.

    There will only be one left of centre party to choose: LDs will no longer be seen as a “wasted” vote but a Tory one.

  10. NEIL A


    The Good Old Days I remember when my rent allowance was actually enough to pay my rent/mortgage with a nice little tax refund at the end of the Year

    [Snip] it was enough to pay the rent was that in real terms the cost of rentals in London in the early 1980’s were 80% less than now!

  11. Owr dad says we cost so much to keep that we should have transferable tax-free allowances.

    We wuffed our support – could mean more treats.

    R and D.

  12. @steve,

    The 80s were great! I had an amazing childhood growing up in a small village up north. Long summers. Fishing, playing with Star Wars figures. My family moving out of working class into middle class in the new culture of aspiration rather than ‘knowing your place…’


  13. On the personal tax allowance, I and many others will miss out because we are not married, despite having 4 children together. How is that fair? What if somebody can’t afford to get married? They lose out, and a lot of these families who will miss out, are the type of voters the Tories need to target.

    The cost and complexity of this policy is also ludicrous. We need a simple tax system in this country, not a more complex one.

    Why don’t they just increase working tax credits for families on less than £42k? A family with 2 parents working earning 20K each won’t benefit(despite extra travel and child care costs) yet a family where 1 works and earns £40K, does benefit.

  14. Should I now get married now, just for money? I might have to, how much does a registry office marriage cost?

    And what happened to reducing the deficit? Free school meals, 10p tax band, transferable tax allowance, extra nursery hours etc etc. With more “bribes” to come by 2015 no doubt! I feel these politicians are going to spend any extra revenues from growth and to hell with the deficit.

  15. As ever, can I stress that the comments here are NOT for people to say if they personally think government or opposition policies are any good or not.

  16. Hoofhearted,

    As I remember, it is around forty pounds. If you dispense with all the optional extras, then I suppose it is worth it. But a divorce is a *whole lot* more expensive, so you really need to look at the whole package.

  17. In reply to all this stuff about cut off points, higher/lower personal allowances and whatever.

    The point is neither Lab or Con, (OK throw in the LDs,) can do anything meaningful after the election to raise living standards

    EG Provide high Employment and High Wages.


    The world financial system is doomed, doomed I say.
    (At least on its uppers.) What happens when the Fed stops printing money like conffetti

    The E.U. will never integrate the Euro between countries whose economies are so far apart they may as well be on a different planet let alone continent.

    The UK is in long term decline on the world market,

    Basically politicians are trying to con us into voting for them.

    I am sure they have our interests at heart, God Bless them.

  18. Anyway, changing the subject, I am now starting to think that Obama’s initial almost ludicrous Nobel peace prize was incredible foresight by the panel. First Syria and now Iran were two situations that could have easily led to war under a different president. For me, he seems to view war as an absolute last resort, which is the right view.

  19. I just think this could start another political row, the same as what happened when the child benefit was removed, despite the unfairness of it. That didn’t do the Tories/LD VI much good.

    ie: A married couple, 1 earning 42K – benefits.
    An unmarried couple, 1 earning 13K – loses out.
    A married couple, 2 earning 10K each – loses out.

    Another policy done on a fag packet, wont go down well.

  20. @Hoofhearted.

    The whole point of the policy (rightly or wrongly) is to encourage unmarried couples to become married couples.

    Marriage needn’t be expensive. Ours was about £3,000 and almost all of that was spent on a band, free food and free alcohol – all of which was pretty optional. I’ve known others get married for under £1,000. If you really had to you could probably do it for £100 (and make a profit in the first year..)

  21. I do agree with you that it is unfair to married couples where both are working full-time but on low pay.

  22. @RICH

    Completely agree re Obama. He probably wants peace making as his legacy not war making. It seriously leads me to wonder about the TV news reports saying that the US were furious with EM after the Syria vote obvious patent nonsense and those correspondents should be sacked – sounds like Obama and EM on the same page.

    Don’t understand why you say a married couple each earning 10k will lose out. They are already both benefiting from the zero & low rate bands. If the Coalition stick to their promise then they will pay zero in tax by 2015.
    The married couple with only 1 earner are currently losing out and this is at whom the policy is aimed. The answer to your 2nd example is simply, get married or lose out. Really don’t see the issue.

    In France the family is the taxed unit, not the individual & the way the calculation is done, means that the family benefits from the zero & lower rate bands of both partners, even if one doesn’t work, or earns a very low wage.

  24. @ Rich,

    Well, it’s Ed Miliband’s peace, really. Or Nigel Dodds’. Or David Davis’.

    Without them both Britain and the US would have bombed Syria weeks ago, and there would be no agreement with Russia to secure the chemical weapons and no peace talks with Iran. Obama was wise enough to take a lead from Parliament, and for that he’s to be commended, but it was the foresighted decision of the Opposition and the coalition rebels not to blindly support a war that stopped the bombs.

  25. Per AW’s comments on policy, I’ll try to keep this VI oriented.

    The marriage thing isn’t necessarily to make life easier for married folk. It is to increase Conservative VI (all policies are designed for VI, aren’t they? ).

    Equally, if such a thing is in place, will a Labour government abolish it, and risk a drop in VI?

    Either way, I think this is more about the Conservatives looking to get more 30K+ married households onside for 2015, and little to do with £200 per year.

  26. @Rich I am inclined to agree with you over Obama but I think he was lucky over Syria where he could easily have ended up with a war he did not want.

    EM was one part of the reason for his luck in this respect, but gained no credit for getting Obama off the hook, partly no doubt because most of the media don’t want to give him credit for anything, but also because he too seemed to be wobbling his way to a correct decision.

    As it is the ones who may be most relieved may be the conservatives, who won’t have to face the blame for supporting an unpopular war or the economic risks such a war would have brought.

    Not quite sure what the moral of all this is. But perhaps you are implying that whether someone ‘deserves’ the Nobel Prize for Peace is as much a matter of luck as desert. If so, this may well be true and equally true of whether the public sees someone as deserving it.

  27. Spearmint

    Indeed & as I recall EM also said that there should be attempts at bringing Iran ‘in from the cold’.

    No doubt the media saw it all differently though because EM has been given no credit for this at all.

  28. My last two posts have gone into automatic moderation so I am interested in why this is. Hence this experiment. The following relates to a late night correspondence I had with Martyn about the MOE of a lead as opposed to the MOE of a party VI. I doubt it will be of interest to anyone but Martyn who might like to check my very dodgy maths. However, it does have the virtue of being about polling and not being partisan in any obvious way.

    There is a sample of size N where p=1 when a person intends to vote conservative and otherwise 0 and q=1 when a person intends to vote Labour and otherwise 0. We need to find the variance of mean(p-q) (i.e. of the lead of one over the other) from which we can get the standard deviation and MOE. We know (from Wikipedia or elsewhere) that the variance of the mean of x is I/n *Var(x).

    From the definition of a variance we can find that the variance of (p-q) is
    (N-1)Var (p-q)= sum(m-p+q)**2 where m=mean of (p-q)
    This reduces to (N-!) Var (p-q)= N((p+q) -(p-q)**2))
    Hence Var (mean(p-q))= ((p+q) -(p-q)**2))/(N-1).

    I will be equally interested in the verdict of Martyn and of automod.

  29. Well, my statistical fancies/errors went straight through, so my guess is that automod operates on some mixture of length, number of politicians mentioned by name and possibly author. Any other guesses?

    @ TOH, Carfrew
    “Anthony already suggested you swap e-mails – or get a room… ;-)”


    Lol, wish I’d suggested that for you and Oldnat now!!…

  31. @NEIL A
    “The whole point of the policy (rightly or wrongly) is to encourage unmarried couples to become married couples.
    Marriage needn’t be expensive.”


    Well many complain that divorce can be, which also raises the question as to whether we should be encouraging it for financial reasons…

  32. @Carfrew,

    Couples who spend significant amounts of time worrying about the prospect of an expensive divorce probably shouldn’t have children together (in my opinion).

    Besides which, for somone who struggles to put together a few hundred pounds to get married, getting divorced isn’t really expensive at all. It is when there are assets to fight over that it gets pricey.

  33. @Charles; that would be true, provided there are only two parties (Conservatives and Labour), and that you are equally likely to mistake a Conservative for a Labour as you are for a don’t know, and that you are equally likely to mistake a Labour for a Conservative as you are a don’t know.

  34. @Neil

    Well if they worried beforehand that much they’ll either not do it or get a prenup. It’s the ones taken in, as you suggested, by the inducement, that may be a concern later.

    But I’m kinda with Statgeek on this, though I think not all policies are necessarily about VI, eg to keep donors happy, restive backbenchers etc.

    Be interesting what VI effect there is… Does the fact it’s announced early mean a poll might capture it?

    “Should I now get married now, just for money? I might have to, how much does a registry office marriage cost?
    And what happened to reducing the deficit? Free school meals, 10p tax band, transferable tax allowance, extra nursery hours etc etc. With more “bribes” to come by 2015 no doubt! I feel these politicians are going to spend any extra revenues from growth and to hell with the deficit.”


    Well, there’s thing. Thing about some of Ed’s policies is that they don’t necessarily cost the government money, at least not directly, but they may still save money for the voter, eg the gas freeze etc.

    Same is true for something like the Coalition housing thing, if it doesn’t blow up. That’s where a lot of the action is now. For a lot of the more direct giveaways, chances are they’ll claw it back somewhere, from someone. (Like my storage bill…)

    It’s possible many voters may know they may not necessarily wind up much better off from direct giveaways, hence possibly more interested in the ones where that’s less likely to happen, because government is getting some other organisation to pay up…

  36. Yes I agree, EM was right on Syria. There might be a question mark about whether it was for the right reasons, but he was right. Cameron and Hague got that wrong.

  37. @Top Hat – Not sure you’re completely right about that. Oddly enough, given certain assumptions, it doesn’t seem to matter how many parties there are for this particular formula to work.

    The issue of ‘where one is most likely to make a mistake’ seems a bit different to me. All I am concerned about is the likelihood that someone in a random sample will say they are going to vote conservative or labour or whatever. The question of mistakes etc comes in if one is also concerned with the probability that they may be lying or fickle or whatever. I agree that if one is concerned with those kinds of issues and with the possibility that the probability of these things varies between the parties then matters do become more complicated.

  38. Surely the energy price freeze will cost the government money? If we make the assumption that wholesale prices rise over the next few years, which doesn’t seem unreasonable, then the energy company profits will shrink. Currently their profits after investment are a cumulative £3bn yearly, investment from them is £11bn yearly, and needs to be £16bn yearly to maintain Britain’s current energy usage (the government currently picks up part of the excess, the rest we’re just not meeting). To maintain their profits, and shareholder value, I imagine they’d reduce investment. The government is already underfunding investment in energy infrastructure, I can’t see any way they wouldn’t be forced to pick up some of the tab in the event the energy companies did reduce investment.

    I just can’t see the energy price freeze being something that won’t cost the government money, and presumably the tax-payer from there. I’m genuinely surprised that was used as the flagship policy, and not simply attempting to end the oligopoly market by breaking up the Big 6.

  39. Interestingly my reply to Top Hat which was about the statistics of polling and nothing to do with politics has also been put into automatic moderation! So I am wrong about how automatic moderation works, Perhaps it takes account of the number of previous posts under one’s name that it has considered? Or even takes a liking to one and wishes to keep one’s posts to itself. Let’s see how this one does.

  40. @Rich,

    I’m not so sure. I think the threat of military action, and the likelihood that this would benefit the rebels, was a spur to the Russians to take the step they did.

    Although I also can’t help but think that John Kerry’s “in theory” answer to the direct question put to him about how Assad might avoid a strike was a completely spontaneous remark that generated a new policy direction completely by accident.

    And as for Iran, I think the progress being made is entirely to do with the election of a more conciliatory President in the country, rather than a consequence of anything the West has said or done.

  41. @Tophat

    Fair point, it may impact investment down the line, but if we’ve had a few years of growth by then that won’t matter so much… It’s more about jam today at the moment rightly or wrongly.

    (Assuming of course the energy companies weren’t going to try and get the government to fund a lot of the investment anyway, as some have suggested…)

  42. I should add that if they unbundled, then instead of companies using profits to “invest” in vertical integration, with that avenue closed there may be more incentive to invest in generation etc.

  43. Just come in from watching Marianne Vos win the world title – what a gal.

    We must remember that DC’s announcement on marriage allowance will have been too late to have influenced the YouGov poll (to be revealed to us tomorrow and on which data Anthony’s computers have already whirred into action and about which our host can barely conceal his excitement, I am sure).

  44. I can’t help but feel that political parties are stuck battling the issues of the 70’s and 80’s looking at the marriage debate. The world has moved on.

    There is an excellent article in the economist


    “First, it is not as one-dimensional as left and right. Polls suggest the average Briton thinks the government wastes taxpayers’ money but wants the rich to be taxed more: right- or left-wing? He values private enterprise but wants to renationalise the railways and the energy companies?…”

    “Second, British politics is a shifting kaleidoscope of views; no coalition of voters is fixed. Jobs move, and people with them. Rhythms of work and family life change. Social structures and attitudes evolve. Different political priorities rise and fall. Old voters die and young ones join the electorate. The ethnic makeup of different parts of the country changes”

    Looking at the number of articles about how UKIP and Tories are right wing so all their voters will flock together at a general election is nonsense. Right wing/left wing no longer exists. Parties need to look at the issues of voters today, and build a coalition of voters based on todays issues and on todays solutions to those issues.

  45. I won’t benefit from the married couples tax transfer (as the sole wage earner in our family apparently I earn too much) and I’m a leftie, but think it’s a good idea. There are now various proposals from all parties that nibble at the edges of a bigger problem – the cost of living.

    Two decades ago my dad earned comparatively less than I do (also the sole earner) but that was enough to comfortably raise a family on. Now you need two incomes to have the same standard of living.I suspect it’s a combination of suppressed wages and increased prices, either way it’s my reason why the recovery isn’t seen anywhere outside newspaper reports of treasury press releases – people feel poor.

    The politician who fixes that defines the next political settlement.

  46. @ Carfrew,

    To be fair, Old Nat is suggesting he and Amber get a room… a room the size of Scotland. ;)

  47. Channel 4 provide more detail :-

    “The married couples tax break will favour “one earner” couples, where one partner is either not working or earning very little. Vey high-earners won’t get it either. It will be restricted to basic rate tax payers – a band which includes people on salaries of up to £41,450 a year.

    The tax break will go to couples where one partner has an income of under £41,450 and the second is not working or earning a low salary.

    In order for the couple to benefit, the low-earning partner will have to be earning under £9,440 – the current tax-free allowance for 2013/14.

    The cash is essentially a transferral of part of the tax-free income allowance from the partner who is not using it all, to the one who is. £1000 of the tax-free allowance can be transferred.”

  48. What do we think about the arrest of the golden dawn party leadership in Greece, admittedly they are not nice people but does that justify an action which endangers democracy?

  49. Btw

    I think the Italian government has fallen, ministers from Berlusconi’s party have resigned

  50. RiN,

    I suppose the argument is that the Golden Dawn supporters themselves, through their intimidation, brutalisation and indeed murder of opposition, are the greater threat to democracy.

    That said, I don’t think the actions will be effective – they’ll just annoy the membership unless they go the whole hog like Egypt and straight-up kill them.

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