Tuesday round up

There are a few interesting bits of polling news today. First there is a new chunk of Lord Ashcroft polling, this time on the Conservative’s position in Scotland. Full results are here. I won’t summarise the whole report here, but essentially he segments up the Scottish electorate and as well as that poor sorry rump of Tory support left in Scotland, he also finds a group he calls “reluctant Cameroons” – primary Scots who approve of Cameron, trust the Conservatives on the economy… but don’t vote for them because they don’t see the Conservatives as caring about Scotland and view the party as irrelevant to Scottish politics, or a wasted vote. Therein lies the Conservative problem not just in Scotland, but in much of the urban North too. There are people with some sympathy towards Conservative policies, but they live in places or communities where voting Conservative is simply not done, no one else does it, there’s no point doing it, there’s no longer a recent history of it, what would be the point of it? It’s something people in the South do.

Anyway, I’ll leave you to read Lord Ashcroft’s report for yourselves, but for the record it also contained Westminster voting intention figures for Scotland, concucted earlier this month. CON 18%(+1), LAB 40%(-2), LDEM 6%(-13), SNP 31%(+11), UKIP 2%(+1). Changes are from the 2010 election and reflect a big swing from the Lib Dems to the SNP. If it was repeated as a uniform swing across Scotland the Lib Dems would be reduced to three seats in Scotland, the Tories would gain two seats, Labour would gain two and lose one, the SNP would go up to 11 seats.

Secondly there is the regular YouGov poll for the Sun. Topline figures today are CON 31%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. While it’s within the normal margin of error of YouGov’s recent polling, the nine point lead is the largest YouGov have show since the start of October. My hunch is that this particular poll is probably a bit of an outlier, but that the issue of energy prices coming back into the news agenda following the energy price rises has boosted Labour’s lead a bit. Full tabs are here.

Finally the Electoral Commission have issued advice on the referendum question contained in the referendum bill currently before the Commons. The Bill currently contains the wording “Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union”. The Electoral Commission have recommended that the “do you think” bit is dropped, so the question is shorter and more formal, and that the wording reflects that the UK is already a member of the EU, as some people thought the question read as if it was whether Britain should join the EU. As such the question would become “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” They’ve also floated the idea that it might be better to move away from a Yes/No question, and instead have a Remain/Leave question, along the lines of “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? Remain a member of the European Union/ Leave the European Union”.

As a pollster you tend to get asked questions about referendum wording. It makes some sense, as writing fair questions is the bread and butter of being a pollster, but in many ways the considerations really aren’t the same. As a pollster I hardly every write questions with just a straight Yes/No as options because there is a fear of affirmation bias, so as a polling question the Electoral Commission’s Remain/Leave is definitely better, giving both sides of the campaign equal prominance. However, it’s NOT a polling question, it’s a referendum question. With a polling question, people are rung up out of the blue (or get an email out of the blue) and get a few seconds to answer the question – those small differences in wording undoubtedly make a difference. In a referendum people have weeks to decide, and will be influenced by the whole campaigns, personalities, arguments, advertisements and so on. What the Yes and No votes mean for the country is something that voters will form their own perceptions of long before they enter a polling station. In that sense, as long as the question is clear and unambiguious, I doubt whether it says yes/no or remain/leave matters much.

423 Responses to “Tuesday round up”

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  1. @ Richard in Norway,

    No, no one’s surprised. It’s just funny because the motion is the Lib Dem policy, verbatim.

  2. Couper

    Well, David laws speaking in favour is a bit weird, but it could be that “he” personally agrees with the policy, but as it’s an agreed coalition policy the libdems couldn’t really vote against however much they wanted to

  3. RinN
    “So Labour tabled an antigovt motion and folk are surprised that the libdems didn’t vote for it, really?”

    Considering having QTS in state funded schools is their policy commitment for 2015 then yeah, it’s hypocritical to abstain when Labour bring it forward.

    Mind, they either voted against or abstained with the mansion tax proposal that Labour brought too.

    Had to chuckle today though that Clegg has vowed not to support an increase in tuition fees. That worked out so well for them didn’t it.

    Perhaps they think we don’t notice these things……

  4. This education QTS lark – is it mentioned in the Agreement?

  5. Turk”As far as I know Colin hasn’t posted for a few days what are you talking about, or are you just rambling.”

    I had noticed that and without his consise and common sense comments this site has become quite boring.

    I hope it is only a temporary absence. Turk, I do enjoy your posts as well but at the moment the site seems to have been taken over by the lefties with no one around to counter their ramblimgs! Sadly I just don’t have the time to be here regularly.

    On current discussions, as the potential separation of Scotland from the UK could be regarded as a divorce and both parties to a divorce usually have to agree to the divorce, the English & Welsh are fully entitled to an opinion on the split. I would go further & say that the whole of the UK should be having the referendum. Given the way it would probably go, I am surprised AS has not insisted on that.

  6. “In a speech, the deputy prime minister said experienced staff could join a “pool of top talent” which would be “ready to move” at short notice.

    He also said free schools and academies must only employ professionally qualified teachers.”


  7. Anthony
    I’m not sure why my post has gone into auto mod. I have used my regular email address. The only difference is that I’m using an iPad rather than a laptop? What gives?

  8. @ Howard,

    Nope! Laws’ excuse is that they’ve done a lot of things that weren’t in the Coalition Agreement, which I’m not sure is the robust defence he seems to think it is…

  9. Spearmint
    I’ve looked up the Agreement and it is silent on the subject. One would thus expect there would be a free vote (all round), although given the LD policy, one would have expected them to vote against any proposal that was totally against its own policy, if it were not specified otherwise in the Agreement. The Student fees issue *was* so specified, so that was an instance of ‘whoops’.

    I assume that if an issue is not covered by the Agreement, then it is left to ‘you can have this and we’ll have that’ but that is most unsatisfactory, at least potentially. An example would be the raising of the tax threshold (LD win) against lowering of 50% rate (tory win).

  10. Oh come on, Labour proposed a motion purely for the purpose of putting the libdems on the spot, if the libdems had voted for it the headlines tomorrow would have been “war over free schools in the coalition” followed by a succession of Tory spokespersons in the media talking about being let down by the libdems and that the libdems were trying to destroy the govt etc etc, this is all about party political advantage and really isn’t worth talking about here. Abstaining was the only sensible thing to do, essentially couper’s post was “libdems refuse to shoot themselves in the foot, we are disappointed”

  11. @HOWARD

    “Spearmint and Couper2802.
    I too will confess to a passing interest. We must remember that Clegg went to public (ie private – for Socal’s benefit) school where AW (I think it was) reminded us that qualifications are not insisted upon.
    The students nevertheless seem to do quite well – I wonder why?
    Ah, it must be the genes.”


    Reasons why include, but are not limited to the following:

    – extreme selection.
    – extreme streaming. 12 to a class allows lots of classes with a very narrow ability range in each
    – almost no discipline problems, ‘cos they can be easily expelled
    – fewer distractions
    – they can set loads more homework since fewer in each class means less marking and boarders in particular have little else to do
    – not much in the way of special needs to accommodate
    – extreme resourcing. Dozens of playing fields, music practice rooms, we had not just one but two dedicated science blocks at our school, dedicated theatre and separate concert halls, etc etc etc, computers before other schools had them (even a real time modem link to a university mainframe In the late seventies)
    – living on site makes it quite useful for getting help from seniors when stuck on your homework
    – unlike primary state school where a teacher teaches most subjects to a single class, at prep school they have a few more teachers and they are subject specialists
    – even at prep school we had a dedicated science lab, workshop, swimming pool, several cricket pitches etc., for just 80 boys
    – they can afford to pay to employ mostly Oxbridge staff who know the game
    – “relationships” between houses and particular colleges
    – lessons that carry on till 6pm some days, plus more lessons Saturday morning
    – no commuting to school: most live on site
    – enforced homework for the younger ones, supervised by staff

    … None of which have much to do with the quality of the teaching. These things assist in spite of the teaching…

  12. Well, you are al very knowledgeable but I cannot for the life of me think how any of this would affect VI. Interesting for the anoraks though.

  13. RiN

    The point is that LibDems are getting put into difficult positions. Would it be so hard for the Cons to have Free Schools but not unqualified teachers? So the LibDems would not be put in these embarrassing positions

    As for Lab they probably hoped the LibDs would back them then they would get their way regarding teacher qualifications – worth a try I would say.

    Instead the LibDs have to talk against their own policy and not vote for somethng they want.

    If I was a LibD after the Green Taxes of last week and this issue today I would be worried that this pattern would lead all the way to the next election.

  14. I had noticed that and without his consise and common sense comments this site has become quite boring.

    Well stp up to the plate Robert

  15. step

  16. @ Couper2802,

    As for Lab they probably hoped the LibDs would back them

    No they didn’t. The Lib Dems were bound to abstain. Labour were hoping they’d get to print a bunch of election leaflets saying

    “Your Lib Dem MP:

    • On tuition fees: voted to raise them!
    • On the mansion tax: abstained!
    • On qualified teachers: abstained!

    In 2015 vote for someone who will keep their word.”

    (Preferably with a big photo of a grinning Lib Dem incumbent holding up a tuition fees pledge at the bottom.)

    And now they can! Oh, the joys of opposing a Lib Dem government.

  17. RIN

    Oh come on, Labour proposed a motion purely for the purpose of putting the libdems on the spot,

    Yes Ed’s played another great stroke damned if they do daned if they don’t

  18. RIN

    Oh come on, Labour proposed a motion purely for the purpose of putting the libdems on the spot,

    Yes Ed’s played another great stroke damned if they do damned if they don’t

  19. And should the libdems ever be in coalition with Labour the Tories will pull the same tricks, it’s just too depressing, I’m off to stick my head in a bucket

  20. The Tories will only be able to pull the same tricks if Libdems do not vote according to their espoused policies, in which case fair enough…

  21. Breaking News! – Posters on political polling site amazed that politicians pull political stunts for electoral advantage!

  22. As Minister of State for Schools David Laws is the only Lib Dem among five ministers directly accountable to Michael Gove.

    Lord Nash has special reponsibility for Free Schools, but it is being reported that in February the ministers (including Gove and Laws) agreed to abolish a requirement for headteachers/principals to attend an assessment centre before setting up a Free School, as well as giving them more leeway to arrange pre-registration with Ofsted.

    Laws also works alongside Oliver Letwin (some Tory MPs think these two cooked up the idea of a coalition on long train rides to their constituencies), and would probably be accountable to Clegg, the only other Lib Dem among eight Tory ministers in the Cabinet Office.

  23. Richard in Norway

    This is indeed the problem for the LD post-2015 – and is all down to the poor leadership since 2010.

    It would have been possible, albeit difficult, to walk this tightrope but Clegg has too often been put into a position either by Labour or the Tories where the inconsistencies in his approach to coalition are exposed.

    The problem started in the efforts to position themselves as a liberal centre-left home for Labour discontents and then going into coalition with the Tories. This I think was the basis of the problems we see now – LibDem/Tory made no real sense to a large proportion of the LibDem voters.

    The post-coalition approach of Clegg was given a couple of months to bed-in and his actions in that first 2-6 months have set the scene since then, with those voters who defected from Labour running away from the LibDem and unlikely to return in the short-term.

    As we approach 2015 there will be more situations like this as both of the bigger parties have no desire to see the LD in power post the election.

    I think, personally, that things will only get worse for the LD as we enter the home stretch to 2015, especially from the Tory side as the inevitable good performance of UKIP in Euro 2014 will have an impact in the run-up to 2015.

    Coalition doesn’t work in FPTP very well and I saw the 74 election coverage on youtube recently (yes, I am that dull – also the quality of the politicians then was impressive compared to now) where AJP Taylor made this same point.

  24. @OLDNAT

    “Breaking News! – Posters on political polling site amazed that politicians pull political stunts for electoral advantage!”


    It’s more that some are doubting that it will actually work to Libdems advantage, and RiN is also aware it happens, he just finds it a bit depressing.


    I did understand the thrust of RiN’s argument. ” I’m off to stick my head in a bucket” was the giveaway.

    The whole point of a good political stunt is that it puts your opponents (in this case the LDs) in a position where they can get no advantage.

  26. Chris Huhne was also educated at Westminster School, but being senior to Cameron (by 12 yrs), Clegg (13 yrs) and Osborne (17 yrs) he wasn’t prepared to back down in cabinet.

    He was also widely regarded among civil servants who felt that he was one of the few ministers with the ability to head a department from the word go. Shame really.

  27. Bcrombie

    I agree with every word of your last post

  28. @Oldnat

    Others have already pointed that out. That’s not what is at issue. What is being discussed is Libdems allowing themselves to be put in that position. And RiN not liking the stunts. It’s not, as you claimed, that people are unaware of such stunts.

  29. @Bcrombie

    Clegg gambled. He trashed his manifesto, prepared to take a short term hit for the long term gain of electoral reform to suit his party. He lost the gamble. Now he’s in a hole policy-wise because of betrayal and committed to austerity etc.

    Pretty hopeless position. Pass the bucket…


    The LDs didn’t get a choice. They get stuffed either way.

  31. @Oldnat

    Yes, we know that. I was just pointing out that contrary to your post, people are aware of stunts.

  32. Carfrew

    Perhaps he gambled, or was just not very good. The more I see of him, the more I think the latter

    It was those first 3 months that set the scene for the Parliament and he messed up big time – Cameron is probably also cursing him as he managed to lose 1/3 vote to Labour without trying to keep them.

    From that moment on I think the LibDem were no longer considered relevant by the Tories who saw it as a straight Labour vs Tory clash – the rise of UKIP was not foreseen, nor the continued success of the Nats in Scotland.

    Whatever way you look at it the LibDem are the meat in everyone’s sandwich!

  33. Robert and rog

    “I had noticed that and without his consise [sic] and common sense comments this site has become quite boring.”

    “Well step up to the plate Robert”

    I think he just did.


    [Come back Colin, all is forgiven.]

  34. Reading the CiF comments on the Russell Brand vs. Robert Webb argument is like a day out at the zoo. I said my piece about how not voting is the most pro-establishment thing you can do and now I’m going to watch the sparks fly.

    I’d quite like to see polling on Webb/Brand.

  35. Old Nat

    Perhaps it was inevitable – I don’t see it like that though.

    If Clegg had looked more reluctant to join the Tories – been more forceful in his dealings and had more courage then perhaps things would have been different.

    I just cannot understand what he thought was going to happen when he went in with the Tories! He had no choice, but I would have thought he knew where his party’s votes had come from post 2001 and what their reaction to a Tory Government would be, especially one with people like Gove and Osborne in positions of influence.

    Accept the situation ‘yes’; show such enthusiasm ‘no’. That picture of Alexander clapping, cheering and patting Osborne in the back after the (now redundant) financial statement in 2010 will rest long in the memories of LibDem voters.

  36. @Bcrombie

    It’s both. Both a gamble, and also not very good. Extraordinarily naive. Agreeing to Austerity wholesale tied their hands in terms of protecting at least a reasonable amount of their manifesto, and in terms of differentiating from Tories.

    Worse still, they gave Tories most of what they wanted up front, while waiting for the electoral reform the LDs wanted, Allowing Tories to sabotage it later.

    They also, even worse, agreed to things they didn’t have to, eg NHS. And didn’t secure any reasonably senior posts.

    Then they allowed themselves to repeatedly front Tory policies, taking the flak.

    Meanwhile, the likes of Huhne and Laws were vulnerable.

    And they set themselves up for a fall beforehand with things like the tuition pledge, and are doing so even now by committing to things like QTS, allowing Labour to drive a wedge right in there.

  37. I think in the early days of the coalition Clegg and other senior Lib Dems made an enormous political miscalculation.

    They were trying to make themselves appealing coalition partners to the other parties so that coalition would be an acceptable option in future hung parliaments, and of course what parties want in a coalition is a biddable junior partner which will implement most of their policies and not complain too much about philosophical differences.

    But that’s the exact opposite of what Lib Dem voters want. Even the ones who are willing to govern with the Tories want a strong, obvious Lib Dem influence, and about half of them aren’t willing to prop up the Tories at all. They might prefer a Lib-Lab coalition to a Labour government, but they won’t risk letting in the Tories again if a Lib-Tory coalition looks like this, basically a Tory government in a jaunty yellow hat.

    This is a huge problem for Clegg, because his whole future vision for the party as the perpetual second party of government depends on getting hung parliaments (and from his personal perspective ideally Tory-leaning hung parliaments). If he’s shifted the electorate into a configuration that can only deliver Labour majorities and Labour-leaning hung parliaments, it’s the worst possible outcome for him and the other Orange Bookers. Losing the AV referendum was a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe, but it probably didn’t help that the first thing he did when he got into government was convince half the Lib Dems and most of Labour that coalitions were terrible and the best way of keeping the Tories out was to keep FPTP.

    And as far as his campaign to woo the other parties goes, Labour irrationally hate the Lib Dems for letting in the Tories and half the Tories irrationally hate the Lib Dems for letting in windfarms, so that was a complete failure as well.

  38. @CARFEW

    “Then they allowed themselves to repeatedly front Tory policies, taking the flak.”

    I notice it was Clegg that was sent to the Palace to get the Queen to sign the Royal Charter for the Press Regulation.

  39. Well, good to get such non partisan views on the LDs from those whom we know have no axe to grind.

    I hope it will be noted how people who actually follow AW’s guidelines behave.

    Actually no it won’t. Never mind, eh.

  40. Well I don’t have a particular axe to grind, Howard. Please point out where my post is in error.

  41. I’ve noted it Howard: in fact I have just written it in my diary should it come to a court case.


    It’s inevitable in the context of the current situation that the LDs decided to get into.

    Playing the “what ifs” of history can be fun – but seldom useful. (The LDs are history)

  43. Robert Newark

    Thanks, I’m not sure if Colin is just having a break or he got fed up with the usual suspects misconstruing nearly everything he said of late, he was subjected to a lot of silly rather childish nonsense over his last post on schools.

    Unfortunately I managed to delete his contact email so I’m only guessing he might be back next week, but to be honest your right this is mainly a Labour forum with very circular conversations of late.

    I’m giving posting a rest for a while as I’m taking over running the couple of farm shops we have for a few months till we get a new manager, leaving my daughter and her husband to run the business without me interfering every minute as I’m supposed to have retired from farming.

    Maybe I’ll come back in the new year maybe not, there’s a chance my wife and I will move back to her parents ranch just outside Bayside overlooking Copano Bay in Texas next year, the climate will be beneficial to my wife who hasn’t been well of late, and I get the chance of some serious sea fishing. However until then good luck to everybody and have a happy xmas ..

  44. @HOWARD

    I don’t think people are being nasty to the LibDems it is more an appreciation of the difficult situation they are in.

  45. @oldnat

    When analysing political strategy, and VI impact, one tends to make use of the historical, since it is actual data and the future hasn’t happened yet.

    We especially have to wait a bit with VI since margin of error.

    Eg, can you predict the percentages in the Independence vote? Probably not.

    Still, good to know that after the referendum you won’t want to talk about it any more since it’ll be historical!!

  46. The best contributors to point out shortcomings in the LD performance are such as I. I don’t much, not because i am partisan, but merely because there is no point in stating the bleedin’ obvious.

    But neither do I about similar tactical shortcomings of the others. All that matters is what the voters think, and generally they don’t (about these things anyway).

    I opined earlier that whether teachers will need QTS (was it?) or otherwise will have very little effect on VI now or indeed voting, in 2015.

    Whether they have the idea they have more money in their pockets, I not so humbly suggest, will.

    That is what Clegg hopes will be the case and he hopes he can bask in the glory, thereby..

  47. It was clear from the rhetoric from both senior party members and activists that in the early days of the Coalition, the Lib Dems had got so anti-Labour that they mistook the Tories for friends on the principle that ‘the enemy of my enemy…’ etc.

    Compounding that were senior party members who were genuinely pretty sympathetic to much of the Tory manifesto.

    I think they miscalculated by forgetting that whilst they actually felt they had a lot in common with the Tories, and whilst they were negotiating with senior Tories who were sympathetic to them, they were going into partnership with a ruthless, professionalised political outfit with far more media and political savvy and contacts than they possessed, and which was stuffed to the gunnels with activists who hate them and want the party dead.

    Also, and I say this with the greatest respect, their relative size and lack of resources compared to the Tories means that they don’t have the talent pool, either at MP or especially at advisor level, that the Tories have.

  48. bbc news

    “A man in Singapore has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars collecting Barbie dolls.

    Jian Yang shares his tiny town house with 9,000 of them and has even decorated his living room in Barbie’s signature colour bright pink. ”

    And here was me worried about you lot.

  49. Yeah. If you want to see what an axe being ground against the Lib Dems looks like, have a look at CiF sometime.

    Actually don’t; it will make you despair for humanity.

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