This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%. It comes after an eight point lead yesterday, and a couple of six points leads at the end of last week, so we’ve had a couple of polls in a row with leads at the top of the normal range. I’m always wary of reading too much into polls that could be explained by normal sample variation, but it could be that the price hikes from British Gas and the renewed prominence of energy prices as an issue over the last few days has given Labour a bit of a boost. Or it’s just random sample error – keep watching the trend.

There were also some YouGov questions in the Times on Free Schools, which found a significant drop in support since YouGov last asked in September. A month ago 36% of people in England supported free schools, 40% were opposed… a pretty even split. Now 27% of people support free schools, 47% are opposed. I suspect the shift is more to do with the coverage of the dysfunctional Al-Madinah free school in Derby than Nick Clegg’s recent comments, but looking specifically at his comments 66% of people agree that schools should only be able to employ qualified teachers, 56% that all schools should have to follow the national curriculum.

488 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 32, LAB 39, LD 9, UKIP 11”

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  1. RIN / NICKP………..In other words, all growth isn’t paid for by debt. :-)

  2. @ Ewen,

    I hadn’t even considered that angle- I was thinking more of Cameron’s new environmental/energy policy. But wow, it’s brilliant, isn’t it? They could evoke two whole policy areas with a single logo! And it would remind everyone of the old Conservative torch and Crosby’s current “Back to Basics” campaign…

    @ Neil,

    That seems about right. Although I might make it

    Con: 37
    Lab: 38
    LD: 14
    Ukip: 6


  3. CNS

    The handy little UKPR average in the top right corner shows that Labour don’t need to increase their vote to achieve an overall working majority,Iam sure they would prefer to be at 40%+ but as I said with a Third and Fourth Party (Between them) picking up 15%+ normally 20%+ this is far more difficult to achieve when it’s just a Two Horse race.

    FPTP However means they don’t have to and as in 2005 with a lower percentage than the Tories got in 2010 Labour are quite capable of forming a majority Government ,unfortunately for the Conservatives because of the current electoral boundaries and because they NOW share the right of centre vote with UKIP it is not as easy for them and a minimum of around 38% would probably be needed to achieve an outright victory.

    No polls since 2010 have shown the Conservatives getting anywhere near this.

  4. Economy Tracker : GDP

  5. “the worst tactic Labour could possibly employ would be to assume they can’t lose the voters they already have from 2010.”

    Not quite sure how that can be termed a “tactic” and if it was just a smug assumption I’m not sure how the public would be supposed to know.***

    Its what policies they present that will have the impact, one way or another.

    *** Unless they adopted smug faces for the next year and a bit and everyone guessed why that was.

  6. NeilA

    “It’s still way too far out to be guessing, but my gut tells me it will be more like ;


    Thing is, the calculator says that would be a Lab majority of 2…but Ashworth’s marginal polling suggests Labour would sweep all those and we would see a comfortable Lab majority on those figures.

    Doncha just luv FPTP?

  7. @NickP

    Can’t access the calculator at work, so thanks for plugging it in. I guessed it would be around the level necessary for a majority.

    I still think a small Labour majority is the most likely outcome, just. Labour largest party with a formal or informal arrangement in government with the LDs and/or Nats is almost as likely.

    Con minority or further coalition is still a real possibility. Majority Con government would, I think, astonish just about everybody.

  8. @NickP

    “Doncha just luv FPTP?”

    Actually no. But it is very pleasing that it mostly works against those who campaigned in favour of its retention.

  9. Nick p

    Yes but QE is chicken feed

  10. NEIL A……….I don’t know whether you have noticed the level of astonishment apparent these days. Before I retired, I had the pleasure of working in an environment of young people, the young ladies especially, appeared to be in a constant state of astonishment, generally illustrated with the acronym, issued from a wide open mouth, of OMG………!
    Hopefully, you too will be able to exclaim, ‘ OMG ‘ come the election. :-)

  11. RIN……….Some chicken, ( some neck ) W S Churchill. :-)

  12. ewen

    Ian Matthews was excellent last night in Kenn village hall. He has a new album out in the New year,although I’d a thought he was a bit too left wing for you. ”

    Is he more left wing than ole Ken then????????????


  13. Thank you for all the birthday wishes :-) They are much appreciated!

  14. Amusingly given our discussion: today an Oxford academic Stephen Fisher has predicted a 57% chance of a Con OM.

    The interesting thing would be to follow the trend because he is basing it on polls moving towards Cons over the next 18 months. So the probability should decrease if that doesn’t happen.

  15. @Spearmint (3.53)

    Factually you are correct with a Tory gain of 2% from LDs (3 – 1% swing -> LD). However compared to the ~11% swing from LD to Lab it is insignificant. It is also worth remembering that this 2% is already factored into the Tory VI of ~33% which is less than they obtained in 2010.

  16. @ Oswald (4.46)

    Thanks, interesting graph re recovery from depression. Even if the current rate of growth improves then this graph projected thro to 2015 should be all it takes for Lab to convince the electorate that austerity is not the answer.

    Having said that, I doubt whether growth will continue at the same rate. The article indicates that most of the growth is still in construction and as house prices soar and with Carney yesterday inferring that interest rates will probably increase sooner rather than later then continued 2.5% construction growth is probably in doubt.

  17. Neil,I seem to remember that we were all rather astonished when the Conservatives won in 1992,so who knows!

  18. Ann,

    I remember it well. I was on a night shift. My Inspector, a very considerate man, arranged for me to be manning the telephones in the control room so that I could be near a TV!

    I was very surprised, I have to say. Although the unexpected turn of events became pretty apparent very early in the election night show.

    It actually made 1997 even harder to swallow, because a little tiny part of me was hoping the Tories would do a bit better than predicted. Then “The Red Wave” happened…

  19. Wow, the base assumptions in that paper are utterly bizarre.

    1) There has been no overall rise or decline in the total vote share of the main parties since 1974 because the post-2010 collapse of the Lib Dems is balanced out by the growth of other minor parties. We can therefore assume that both Labour and the Tories will tend to revert to their mean vote shares over the 1974-2010 period.

    1a) The collapse of the Lib Dems and the rise of Ukip affects the Tories and Labour equally. Because (2013 Tories + Labour) is approximately equal to (1983 Tories + Labour) and (Lib Dems + Ukip) is approximately equal to (SDP + Liberals), we can assume that 2013 Tories = 1983 Tories and 2013 Labour = 1983 Labour.

    1b) The almost linear decline in the Tory vote, with every period in opposition and every period of ascendency earning them a smaller vote share than the previous opposition/government era, should in no way trouble us or cause us to revise Assumption 1.

    2) We should consider the shy-Tory effect to be completely undiminished by modern polling techniques, even though all the pollsters completely revised their methodology after 1992 to get rid of it and it hasn’t shown up in subsequent elections.

    Wut. Just… wuuuuuuuuut.

  20. To balance my dumping a bucket of ice water over that model depicting a Tory win, here’s an intelligent analysis predicting the same thing (assuming economic optimism continues to increase at its current pace):

  21. AMBER
    Happy Birthday, and many returns of the day.

    Thanks. My ;post was also intended to say that the ‘baccalauriat’ syllabus has always struck me as a no-brainer, and the one thing on which I agree with Gove. Among the advantages are the obvious ones of breadth of education and the entry and benefit this gives in going into a job which demands both scientific knowledge, literacy and awareness of social and institutional needs and constraints; and integration with European systems. I firmly understood in campaigning in the1994 Europoean Elections that a Labour government and the EU were about to- use the bac as a common pre-unversity exam, and would introduce exchange programmes in which students at that level would spend several years in the schools and culture of other EU countries with, as I thought, huge beneifts in understanding and cooperation, and at small cost.

  22. @Couper

    A forecast is as good as the assumptions that underpin it. Those were, in the words of these researchers:

    “The approach is broadly to predict the next election based on current opinion polls and the track record of polls in previous electoral cycles allowing for change in opinion in the run up to the election. The method allows for three main phenomena: historical tendencies for the Conservatives to over perform and Labour to under perform their vote intention figures in the polls when it comes to election day; governments being more likely to recover and oppositions fall back in the run up to an election; and a tendency for parties to move back towards their long-run average level of support. All three suggest a Conservative recovery and a Labour set back from autumn 2013.”

    I have difficulty with all three of those assumptions in the context of 2010 and its aftermath. Labour over rather than under performed in 2010. The Conservatives recovery from votes lost to UKIP will be only half as big as if there had been a net loss to Labour in terms of swing, relevant since there has been net swing between 2010 Con and Lab voters since 2010. Finally a recovery in the LD vote towards their recent norm seems dubious unless left leaning former LDs somehow come around to the idea that five years of Conservative government was a good thing.

    Personally I think that a hung parliament outcome (with the LDs being left with too few seats to call the shots) is the most likely.

  23. @Chris N-S

    The bookies, incidentally, are putting odds on a Conservative OM majority at 3/1. So at least someone doesn’t rate the odds as remote.

    It must be remembered that a bookies odds isn’t the chance of an event happening, it only what will balance the ‘book’ on that event and relates to the spread of bets placed.

  24. There’s another bizarre methodological assumption in that paper that I didn’t notice at first because I was too distracted by all the bizarre partisan assumptions.

    As I understand it, he’s calculating each party’s… let’s call it “Mid-term blues score”… as a raw number, not as a percentage of the party’s previous or future vote share. So if the mean Tory MTBS is 5% (because there were huge drops in the midterm polling during the Thatcher era, let’s say), then you calculate the predicted 2015 Tory result as current polls + Tory MTBS, or 33% + 5%.

    So you get a final Tory result of 38%, even though that requires them to do better than they did in 2010. But of course that’s not what your high MTBS were actually showing in the previous elections. Thatcher wasn’t improving on her previous victories, she was just recovering lost midterm votes from a deeper midterm trough. Cameron has lost fewer votes than she did, so he has fewer to regain at the election.

  25. Spearmint.

    “Thatcher wasn’t improving on her previous victories, she was just recovering lost midterm votes from a deeper midterm trough. Cameron has lost fewer votes than she did, so he has fewer to regain at the election.”

    That is a shining beam of simple logic in a fog of silly nonsense that usually descends whenever the topic of mid-term blues and late-term bounces crops up.

    The remarkable thing in this Parliament has been the almost total absence of allegiance switching between the two main parties. Battle lines were drawn by Autumn 10, and it appears that precious few people have switched sides since then. I struggle to see why they should be expected to do so between now and May15.

  26. Happy birthday Amber

    The folk of Dunfermline fair flocked out to give you a pressie!

  27. Amber
    One more, better late than never, including an electronic hug.

    John Pilgrim
    I don’t get this bac business. I thought it was proposed at GCSE stage?
    The IB on to other hand is a stupendous qualification that is far superior to A levels, IMO.

    If what is proposed is at A level, why don’t they just adopt the IB? Then you could get in anywhere in European unis.

    I expect I have misunderstood, (has been known).

  28. @ Old Nat

    I will confess, that self-aggrandising thought did cross my mind when the result came in. :-)

    Although I think ’twas Bill Walker who damaged ‘your’ Party more than anything political; & it’s just one by-election.

  29. @lefty,

    the voters that matter, the proper swing voters, truly have no “side”. They are retail voters who go to the electoral supermarket every year or so and pull whichever party political product seems most attractive at the time off the shelf.

    Some only look at the aisles on the left hand side of the store, some only look at the aisles on the right. Most of the voters that matter only look at the aisles that aren’t too close to the edges.

    Also, I think it may be a mistake to look at “mid term blues” purely in terms of the governing party’s vote share. Opposition vote shares often expand considerably during the mid-term and then shrink back a bit at the next election. Labour’s share is looking pretty good at the moment, and the question is how vulnerable it is to deflation in the months leading up to the GE.

  30. HOWARD
    I am probably as remote from the present discussion as you, and indeed I intended my remarks as relating to an 18-19 year old exam, and of the same standard and broad content as the IB. Why don’t they?

  31. Seeing as a couple of others have tried playing around with the swingometer, I thought I’d have a go myself.

    I typed this in:

    Con 39.5
    Labour 35.5
    Lib Dem 13

    I put in tactical swing of 10 from Labour to Lib Dem to account for the Lib Dem holding up very well where they’re up against the Tories.


    Labour 297
    Tory 292
    Lib Dem 34

    I put the parties dead level of 37.5 all, and made the same assumption about Lib Dem seats. The result was a Labour majority of 4. If the swing were to be 1% more in the marginals, Labour could get a majority of 20-30 without even winning the popular vote.

    Perhaps an absurd result like that might finally get a widespread consensus behind proper electoral reform, rather than the risible model of optional preferential voting we voted on a couple of years, which actually retained most of the flaws of FTPT and under which the NSW Tories recently won a three quarters majority and the Queensland Tories recently won 78 seats out of 89.

  32. amber

    burfdy chew

    Paul and the girls.

  33. :-) This has been a really nice day for me! :-)

  34. @Amber Star

    A song to get the party started (Helen Reddy):

    And one to sober up to (Katy Perry):

    (Both these artists share an Oct 25th birthday!)

  35. There have been two occasions since 1945 when a general election has taken place more than five years after the preceding election. The 1964 election took place on Oct 15th – in 1959 polling day was Oct 8th.Similarly the 1997 election occurred on May 1st whilst polling day in 1992 had been on April 9th. Both are explained by the fact that the five year limit runs from the first day that a new Parliament meets – rather than the election date. Thus, in 1959 the new Parliament would have met on Oct 22nd approx. which meant that the last possible date for its dissolution would have been Oct 22nd 1964 approx. implying that the latest possible election date that year was Nov12th.
    It occurs to me, therefore,that to state that we have now moved to a Five Year Fixed Parliament is slightly inaccurate.. Given that this Parliament met for the first time on circa May 20th 2010, in order for polling day to be May 7th 2015 it will have to be dissolved by mid- April that year. This implies a fixed term of rather less than four years and eleven months!

  36. Anthony,
    I am not sure why my last post has gone into moderation!

  37. Might be an idea for pollsters to stop identifying Respect as a specific “other” party. It might make sense to aggregate all the Socialist parties (obviously not including major centre-left parties like Labour and SNP), rather than a particular collapsing personality cult.

  38. @Amber

    Happy Birthday! I hope you’ve had a great day! :-)

    @John Pilgrim & Howard

    I’ve never quite understood why the IB isn’t promoted more in the UK. It would seem to solve a lot of the griping around education, as well as being a strong qualification.

  39. Amber

    Dunfermline – Labour would have won anyway, I think. However, the council election result in Dunfermline South (28% of constituency electorate) emphasises the point of the Bill Walker effect.

    Dunfermline South – SNP (1st preference votes) up 5%, Labour down 3%. compared to 2012. More worrying for the LDs is their vote down a further 5% after consecutive kickings in 2011 and 2012.

    Dunfermline & West Fife, improvement in Labour vote even better than simple % comparison suggests.

    Ignoring the 3 “minimus” parties and their 3% total, and looking only at the 2 major and 2 minor parties (who all contested the seat in 2011) then Labour’s share of that 4-party total went up by a full 10%.

    Could be a differential tendency between the 4 Dunfermline wards, but I suspect the “vox pop” woman who said Walker “shouldn’t have an effect, but it will” had that dead right.

    On the basis of absolutely no knowledge at all (which is a total justification for posting my opinion on here – given some of the posts on education!), I’ve assumed that the SNP HQ didn’t bother to do due diligence on Walker, because they though he had no chance of winning the seat anyway. If so, then the defeat is thoroughly deserved.

  40. I think the Grangemouth settlement is a big win for Salmond.

    He was clearly deeply involved, got his priorities right, had a high profile, is respected by both sides, refused to make political capital and is now the toast of the workforce as some of today’s radio vox pops indicate.


  41. @amber belated happy birthday!

    With regard to free schools: the problem with schools that are not under local authority control is that they then have to be under central control. Having no control leads to the kind of problems and lack of accountability that we are seeing.
    Also, electorally it means that when there are problems with academy and free schools, the buck will stop with Gove/ the govt of the day.
    What an unfortunate position to get into. Especially when you were warned before embarking on the program.

  42. @ Old Nat

    It’s difficult to think of a Party which hasn’t had an absolute shocker of a candidate sneak through selection.

  43. Amber

    Congrats on your birthday and the most non partisan post of the day

  44. @Amber

    Happy Birthday!

    Just a few days before mine.

    Hope you had a wonderful day :)

  45. If the Tories lose in 2015 and, for some reason, DC goes then I think they will be mad not to go for Theresa May as the new leader – which I suppose means they won’t.

    Any other prospects?

  46. @Amber

    Happy Birthday-plus-one


    Useful post, thank you.

  47. @ RiN

    Did you see that Mark Carney does not see any problem with Mega banks in the CoL?

    @ Amber Star

    Happy Birthday and I too was delighted to read about the Manchester Economics undergraduates rebelling against the narrowness of their course. It seems like the Reformation in Economic dogma may finally be underway…. There is/are an alternatives to TINA.

  48. Yes, I was rather taken with that article about the economics students. Particularly this bit:

    “Earle said students across Britain were being taught neoclassical economics “as if it was the only theory”.

    He said: “It is given such a dominant position in our modules that many students aren’t even aware that there are other distinct theories out there that question the assumptions, methodologies and conclusions of the economics we are taught.”

    Multiple-choice and maths questions dominate the first two years of economics degrees, which Earle said meant most students stayed away from modules that required reading and essay-writing, such as history of economic thought. “They think they just don’t have the skills required for those sorts of modules and they don’t want to jeopardise their degree,” he said. “As a consequence, economics students never develop the faculties necessary to critically question, evaluate and compare economic theories, and enter the working world with a false belief about what economics is and a knowledge base limited to neoclassical theory.”


    Which would explain a few things…

    p.s. Happy birthday to the Tousled one!! OK, it’s a bit late, but birthdays can be extended through the weekend and beyond, right? Make the most of it. More cocktails!!…

  49. @JP

    Yes, I am already in agreement with both yourself and indeed Chatterclass that a broader education gives the benefits you describe.

    It’s just that specialization gives benefits too, and it’s quite a challenge to square the circle and have both.

    Particular benefits of specializing include making the most of intellectual development, and the research advantage it gives us.

    So alongside the breadth, I would like to see at least one area of specialization which takes people conceptually much further. And perhaps starting that even earlier and building in breadth later after taking advantage of the development.

    The difficulty is that you need some breadth early on too, to assist people with making choices in studying. It’s a tricky thing. But I hate throwing good things out with the bathwater. It’s so… inelegant…

  50. Having read the article on correlating VI with the economic perceptions, sure, you might draw the conclusion that it’s the economy, stupid.

    But once again, we have a case of not checking the disconfirming. One might equally say that the decline in the lead followed the assault on welfare, immigration and Miliband. And as already noted above, Tory VI hasn’t improved much despite the economy.

    Also, the trend line doesn’t really capture the recent Labour lift in VI following the cost-of-living focus, despite the economy improving, and indeed even feelgood factor improving a bit.

    Indeed, recent events do rather suggest the possibility that a variety of things do indeed affect VI, it’s just that quite often they cancel out, as you would expect as parties respond. Move and counter move.

    We saw this with Ukip, only it took a while for Tories to respond. So, a series of steady gains for UKIP, which Anthony usefully mapped on a graph, then later on, pegged back as Tories started to worry and focused on immigration, renegotiation etc.

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