YouGov’s weekly results for the Sunday Times are now up here. Voting intention figures are CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%, suggesting that Thurday’s odd 12 point lead was indeed the outlier I think most people assumed it was (the five point lead is itself a bit lower than usual, but I wouldn’t read anything into that yet either)

There is nothing suggesting a big impact from the Autumn statement itself, but attitudes to the economy and the government’s economic management remain on a longer term upwards trend – essentially the statement itself doesn’t seem to have done much (it was probably overshadowed by the death of Nelson Mandela anyway), but the growth of the economy is dragging up these figures anyway.

43% of people now think the economy is showing signs of recovery or is well on the way to recovery, up from 37% in August and just 14% in April. 51% of people still think the economy shows no signs of recovery or is getting even worse. Asked how much the government has contributed to this, 36% now think the government’s actions helped the economy (up 4 from August), 30% that they made it worse (down 4), 24% that they made no difference either way.

The coalition have a healthy lead over Labour on dealing with the deficit (by 35% to 21%) and improving the economy (35% to 25%), but trail behind Labour on keeping down living costs, where the opposition lead by 33% to 25%. Turning to Osborne himself, 26% now think he is doing a good job as Chancellor, 46% a bad job. This is little changed from when YouGov last asked in July, but far better than the public saw him last year, when his approval rating was down in the mid-teens. He leads Ed Balls on who would make the better Chancellor by 32% to 22%, though 46% say don’t know.

On the specifics of the statement, 31% of people think they will be worse off, 5% better off, 46% expect it to make no real difference – the answers appear to be mainly partisan, although people between 40-59 are most likely to say they’ll be worse off, presumably on the back of pension age changes. On that subject 32% support increasing the state pension age, 57% of people say they are opposed.


312 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 34, LAB 39, LD 10, UKIP 11”

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  1. Just to head that off at the pass – the unions are obviously not going to try to derail Miliband at this point. That’s Tory wishful thinking.

    Lack of funds might be a Labour problem, though.

  2. @Trot

    I didn’t say he would fall foul of the unions. I said the opposition would give the unions airtime at every chance (i.e. he being in their pocket, or similar sentiments).

    Energy price freeze?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25219453

    Regarding 1960 / 1970s, that’s why I mentioned the voters being more savvy. There’s far a far greater dissemination of what politicians say (online news, social media, opposition rebuttals), and political translation from pundits, commentators and so on.

    Can UKIP or the Libs afford two elections in quick succession? What of their chances in that scenario, and who reaps the benefits of the smaller parties lack of funding?

  3. I will take a punt at
    Lab 35
    Cons 32
    LD 13
    UKIP 12

    Labour winning a majority of more than the 20 that uniform swing might suggest , because of UKIP intervention.

  4. @Chris

    You too did not read my post properly. What’s more, that’s coming from a non-Tory (a ‘non-any party’ as it happens). Please don’t try to pigeon-hole politically if you feel the comments are not to your political liking.

  5. @Chris Riley

    What can the Cons do to win a majority or at least avoid a Lab majority? Well they have lost their biggest advantage the boundary changes.

    There is still the press so it depends on how powerful the Tory press is in 2015 and how faithfully the TV news follows the lead of the Tory press. I suspect it will not be powerful enough.

    Populist policies the best one would be a basic rate tax cut – that would be consistent with the Con ideology but unfortunately run counter to the ‘paying off debt’ narrative. But I think in general people will want jam today and a tax cut would bring in the votes.

    So talk up the recovery then cut taxes for ‘hard working families’

  6. @STATGEEK

    On the price freeze
    Yes voters are savvy – so what the bosses of big business or economists say is taken with a pinch of salt, people look behind the headlines to the agenda.
    Yes voters are informed – informed enough to know that the price freeze is in order to reform the energy market

    And voters are smart enough to know when they are being ripped off.

  7. Chris & NickP

    I could change my forecast to the following
    Cons 38.5
    Lab 29.5
    LibD 14
    UKIP 10
    if you like.
    Current polls not relevent IMO, its what happens on the day that counts.

    Colin
    Yes economic news looks very encouraging.

  8. @Guymonde

    Thankyou for “More mature but with better teeth”, I’ve been chuckling over that since last night.

    As for “stall your manging gadgy jans feek it in your poriss and ile mang nixt” – a brief trawl of the sparce internet resources for Scots Traveller Cant gives the following translation:

    “Stop your talking. The man knows. Take it in your feather and I’ll say nothing”.

    I think this is a point from Old Nat that we unionists will find difficult to rebutt!

    BTW, I imagine you as Dennis Price playing “Jeeves”; possibly because your handle suggests you’re a “man of the world”.

  9. Dullsville.

  10. Statgeek
    “With respect, Labour’s ‘claims’ do not make it fact, while your last statement is unsubstantiated.”

    Paul Johnson from the IFS agrees with the figure though.

    “The Balls measure, it added, did not include changes to tax and benefits and used the retail prices index – no longer considered a reliable gauge of inflation by the Office for National Statistics – to come up with the statement that real wages had fallen by £1,600.

    “That said a £1,600 fall is a fall of about 6%. That is pretty consistent with what we know from survey data happened to household incomes between 2009-10 and 2011-12,” said Johnson.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/06/ifs-living-standards-lower-osborne-autumn-statement

    I agree that my final sentence is unsubstantiated but it doesn’t take a genius to link the two.

  11. I wish these darned Populus and YouGov polls would behave and give us some polling results that actually align with each other!! YouGov go from a 12% Labour lead to a 5% one in 48 hours and Populus then go the other way, doubling the Labour lead from 4% to 8% over a similar timespan.

    Any other polling organisations due a poll out any time soon? I’d love an Angus Reid to drop a cat amongst the pigeons showing UKIP overtaking the Tories. The nation’s gaiety would be significantly increased! lol

  12. stanJ

    Poetry at its finest.

  13. @Couper

    I would not rule out a cut in the basic rate of income tax.

  14. @Chris Riley

    If we’re talking scenarios, then lots of things are at least possible, even beyond the strong economic recovery you mention.

    Probable factors would include the government using the levers of power to do popular things, and generally presenting their most attractive face to the electorate..

    Unknowns are the result in the 2014 euro elections, which could give SNP a boost (for example) hurting Labour in Scotland. UKIP support could rise to a point where it damaged Labour, or perhaps UKIP might split/collapse and much of their vote return to Cons.

    There could be a war in various parts of the world, and in a very serious conflict all bets are off.

    Then there is the role of sheer chance, and perhaps this is what the Cons are really gambling on, such as weariness with Labour rhetoric, a Labour split, an as-yet-undiscovered scandal, a resignation or similar.

    Finally, and I do not wish this on anyone, there is always the possibility of serious illness causing the withdrawal of a key player or players.

    All in all I cannot see the Conservatives becoming popular, but it is always possible that other parties have peaked too soon and that voters might just settle for the devil they know.

  15. Can we have some more polls based on “gut feeling” rather than borin’ old analysis, probability etc?

    I think they are what this site should be all about.

  16. @Statgeek – “Read my 10:36 post.”

    I did indeed, and I was going to suggest in return that you read mine.

    Your response is precisely the kind of thing I was talking about. At heart, this is nothing to do with scare stories, although I accept completely that the reporting of this is various media outlets may run ahead of the facts.

    The basic facts are that two of the big supermarkets have gone public in saying that for geographic and tax reasons, trading in Scotland is more expensive than in rUK. They say that at present, these additional costs are in effective subsidised from rUK as this makes the business management more streamlined, but that this is unlikely to last after independence. The CEO of ASDA has also confirmed that they might be less willing to invest in an independent Scotland because of these reduced margins.

    As Rob Peston says, this really is a statement of the ‘blooming obvious’, and highlights how current SNP policy reduces profitability of supermarkets, on top of social and geographic factors adding to this. (Scots eat less fresh food, which makes the unit distribution costs of these more expensive, Scots eat more own brand basic, with lower profit margins, Scotland is less densely populated, making distribution costs higher). [Please also note that I’m not saying these policies are bad – they are intended to help improve health outcomes, which would be a very good thing. But if you tax something, the price is likely to rise. If the SNP accepted this, but then justified the policy, this would be a quite reasonable step. Simply denying anything negative ever happens is daft].

    Quite why commentators of any description can claim this is some kind of scare story is really quite beyond me. It’s almost certain that over time, prices will respond to political realities, and that Scots will pay more than the English for their food, unless there are major changes in taxation policy or currency exchange rates etc.

    Scots in general, and the SNP in particular, really need to accept that both Yes and No decisions will bring benefits, and problems. By trying to claim all attempts to raise problems arising from a Yes vote are simply scare stories, the Yes campaign is both behaving just like the real scare story proponents in peddling myths, and also undermine their own credibility on everything else they themselves say.

  17. Anthony

    Have there been any attempts to find a correlation between the odds on which party will win, hung parliament etc and the actual result?

    That could be quite interesting to see how and whether they tied up over a two year build up to a GE.

    Of course the circumstances of this one are different because we knew when that two year period started in advance – the first time that has happened I think.

    The results would demonstrate whether the money – and the larger amounts are probably more based on head than gut – really are accurate predictors or not.

  18. @Couper

    Yes we know we’re being ripped off, but we don’t believe that the politicians have the power or the minerals to do anything about it. They would have done it by now if they had either.

  19. @Chordata

    “The Balls measure”

    Diameter or surface area? (Sorry, but I had to bite the desk edge when I saw that)

    The lack of tax changes inclusion is quite telling. It’s up about £1000-£2000 in the past couple of years, isn’t it? About £200-£400 for a start.

    For what it’s worth, our personal living standards have not changed much in ten years (and certainly not for the worse), and our debt is not up. Perhaps we just see the prices of certain things and shop around, or ignore that (luxury) item. Are living standards down if we forgo a luxury for a necessity? Not necessarily. Less chocolate, more walking. Flatter stomach and all that. In that sense our personal living standards are higher.

  20. rosieanddaisie

    Agree with that.

  21. A recent article in DT ( Ancona?) cited Clinton/Obama strategists’ view that voters were alienated by politicians who trumpeted a recovery that was undetectable in the voters’ personal lives.

    There may be– leaving aside cheap mortgages — a peculiar disjunction in this recovery between the GDP figures & voter’ experience? Things could of course change quite quickly if the current deterioration in living standards was halted or reversed.

    While Labour has a great to do to convince anyone that they can manage the economy, the Tories are struggling to convince voters that their regard for living standards is much more than an afterthought to their permanent austerity programme.

  22. @TOH – good luck with that – actually put a tonne on that prediction

  23. Chris

    The only gambling i do is on the stockmarket and have a good track record at that.

  24. The most interesting thing about current odds on who will get the most seats in the next Parliament is that UKIP are generally quoted at 100/1 whereas the LibDems are 150/1:
    http://www.oddschecker.com/politics/british-politics/next-uk-general-election/most-seats

  25. The Blairites aren’t going to cause any trouble. Firstly, their namesake isn’t even an MP any more and spends half his time out of the country.

    Secondly, they were only ever a minority anyway, who got and stayed in power on the fear of the main body of the party, who were terrified of being cast back out into the wilderness.

    Thirdly, the public know and don’t trust them. It would be stupid to reinstall them and the members wouldn’t let it happen.

    Fourthly, any power they did have has been decisively crushed. Dan Hodges is a comedy figure now for a reason and I suspect it would be quite difficult to find many Blairites still in very high office within the Labour Party.

  26. My prediction is that it will be somewhere between neck & neck and the prediction by TOH. When it comes to actually putting a cross in the box will people hesitate about actually voting Labour and risk returning to another era of tax & spend? Better the devil you know, perhaps.

    As for a 2nd election 9 months later…would any of the parties be able to afford to fight a second campaign?

    re: The £1600 figure – this is [] only telling half the story. Knock off 13% NI & 20% tax and then allow for the raising of the tax starting threshold and you end up with a figure less than half this and amply covered by the savings made by the effect of being able to keep interest rates at record low levels for several years.

    But the Tories do have to work at countering this [] message being spun by Labour.

    As for a split within Labour? Entirely possible now that the Blairites (Blair, Campbell, Alexander & Milburn ) have been put firmly in control of election strategy.

  27. toh

    “rosieanddaisie

    “Agree with that.”

    We’ve just had to wuff owr dad back to consciousness after he fell off his chair.

    He’s still not well now Howard.

  28. @TOH

    “The only gambling i do is on the stockmarket and have a good track record at that.”

    Good grief, and there was me thinking that buying and selling stocks and shares was all about investing in business and having a stake in the enterprise. Are you suggesting that the stock market is some glorified casino? What on earth is this world coming to??

    As for making predictions on the outcome of the next election, throw in a liberal dose of wishful thinking, mix it with a generous portion of guesswork and top with a succulent sauce of axe-ground partiality. A recipe fit for the goddess Nigella herself!

  29. My gut feeling is 38/34/13

    [red/blue/blue]

    I must point out though – and some of you probly don’t realise this – that:

    1/ The only vote that counts is in May 2015

    and

    2/ Events may bugger things up

    You heard it here first folks !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. I find the quote first posted by @Colin from the BDO Business Trends survey really interesting. As readers will possibly already know, I’ve been questioning the links between confidence surveys and actual outcomes for a good while now, and I’m likewise struggling to understand why there appears to be so much business confidence around at present.

    It’s important to note that confidence doesn’t necessarily predict actual outcomes. Some of the business confidence surveys (particularly the Markit PMI service sector data) seem particularly prone to overestimate both upswings and downturns, with the implication that people are responding based on more on prevailing sentiment, rather than hard fact.

    For example, the levels of manufacturing optimism in the latest BDO survey are very close to record highs. Really? Manufacturers are seriously trying to tell us that their sector is at the strongest it’s ever been? Pinch of salt time, quite possibly.

    It’s interesting that of the four indices the BDO use, the biggest swing over the last twelve months has been in the optimism index – 91.4 – 103.1, (+11.7).
    The output index has only risen by +8.4 (93.4 – 101.8) while employment by just 5.2 (93.1 – 98.4) [Anything over 95 = growth, 100 = trend growth rate].

    So this seems to confirm that confidence outstrips actual performance. This isn’t necessarily ‘wrong’ – it’s quite possible that confidence is a leading indicator, and hard data will catch up later.

    However, this isn’t what normally happens. Perhaps a salutary lesson can be taken from the BDO’s own figures. The last time their optimism index was this high was in April 2010 (slightly higher than today). Presumably this meant that companies were anticipating boom times.

    Within 5 months it had fallen over 11 points, starting higher and falling faster and deeper than actual output, with a deeper and longer lasting trough than actual output before turning up again.

    With consumer confidence and possible spending now falling, I’m not certain at all that this BDO optimism measure will be sustained at these levels for very long.

  31. “Better the devil you know…”

    I see that as an argument FOR voting Labour. It’s not like they’ve been out of power for a long time. Unlike the Tories…

    “Do you really want the Tories in power?” A good election slogan.

  32. @Robert newark – The IFS broadly backed Ball’s figure. They said is wasn’t completely accurate, but in the right area. Your characterization of this isn’t correct, in that independent experts seem very clear that there has been a significant drop in living standards.

  33. Robert Newark:
    Since individuals have different marginal tax rates you can’t do it. People who don’t pay tax, ie the poor, aren’t affected by changes in the personal allowance, people on benefits, students, and of course the self employed who pay different types of NI.
    It’s not an untrue message, but like any statistic can be manipulated, doing it your way would be untrue as well.

  34. @Alec

    That’s fine, but you are aware that Scotland’s agriculture produces more GVA per head than the UK, and that England produces less?

    If agriculture translates to local produce availability at source (be it farming markets or Scottish-based supply centres, the cost to supply the produce to Scotland is less, as the stuff doesn’t travel to England then back to Scotland.

    Here’s an example:

    http://milk.withclarity.co.uk/

    England produces 65% of the milk in the UK. Scotland around 10%. Greater per capita than its population requires. Net exporter. There are dozens of little examples along these lines.

    Given that one supermarket is (supposedly – it has not been printed as yet) saying this, and several are not, let’s wait and see. All the ‘mights’ and the ‘maybes’ are indeed scare stories until substantiated by sources, and the BBC should know better.

  35. Alastair 1948,
    The peaked too soon idea does have resonance.How often have we seen a
    Horse lead all the way only to be overtaken in the final furlong.
    I think that this will go right to the wire,perhaps the Tories will just squeak it.

  36. Too early for predictions, so I will compromise and based mine on figures from 12 months before the GE.

    1) Tories and LibDems will be at least 2 points higher (each) at the GE than in the monthly poll average for May 2014.

    2) Labour and UKIP will be at least 2 points lower (each) at the GE than in the monthly poll average for May 2014.

    The big unknowns are economics, the Euro elections and the Scottish referendum.

    I think I can probably predict that the economic good news will continue in part, but with some rowing back from the current overoptimistic assessment. What I don’t know is whether that will be a problem for the Tories, or whether their “good but we need more time to do better” is actually suited to some further hiccups.

    I think I can probably predict that UKIP will top the poll in the Euros, with the Tories being pushed into a poor third place. That’s clearly not good for the Tories, but the real tests will be the effect on Tory unity and the speed with which the likely honeymoon period for UKIP dissipates. There is every chance that Tory strategic wobbles and/or the danger of “tactical voting of Tories for UKIP rather than vice versa” seals their fate in 2015.

    I think I can probably predict that Scots are staying with the UK. I don’t know enough about the complicated Rubik’s cube of Scottish party politics to analyze the implications. Gut instinct suggests that SNP would probably lose some support in those circumstances, perhaps with “single issue nationalists” returning to their natural home based on their views on other issues. “Tartan nationalist” types might go to the Tories, SNP socialists to the Labour party. I imagine the former are probably outnumbered 10:1 by the latter, though, so the net effect would probably be Labour taking extra seats, although SNP and LD decline could perhaps help the Tories expand their tiny toehold by a couple of seats. Is there any reason to believe that the failure of the referendum could lead to an increase in SNP support? Or have no effect on it?

  37. @ ALEC

    “business investment (surely at least one of the key indicators of prospects, if not THE key indicator) is bouncing along below 75% of what it was in 2008 and is actually worse this year than it was at any point since 2009. Investment intentions have been positive almost without break since the last election but this has never fed through to reality. And the CBI view of investment intentions has gone negative for the first time since 2011. (all figures from http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/economic-fiscal-outlook-december-2013/)”

    Sorry to quote myself but I do make such good sense.
    That post from earlier is also about the disconnect between confidence (or in this case predicted behaviour) and outcomes.

    Business has been intending to invest since 2009 but not getting round to it. According to the CBI they are intending less now than at any point since early 2009 with the exception of one or maybe 2 quarters of pessimism in 2011.

    How the heck are we going to get growth (beyond a debt-fuelled consumer boom) without business investment?

  38. Bit of fun right; so LDs can go with either Lab or Cons with neither having enough for a minority Government.

    Cons – 37.5 – 291 seats
    Lab – 35.5 – 292
    LD – 13.5 – 35
    UKIP – 6 NIL
    Others – 7.5 – 14
    NI – 18 seats.

    Others is Green Loss but SNP gains maybe 1 PC.

    And the %ages are realistic imo but seats to difficult to calculate due to LDs vote collapse but incumbency etc.

  39. @Guymonde,

    You clearly know more about business than I ever will. But isn’t it possible to have growth without new investment? Say, if companies were running at less than full capacity and underusing their current resources?

    Ultimately, businesses will respond to demand whatever its source. If people want to buy stuff and stick it on their credit cards, businesses will happily produce the stuff for them to buy and pay their staff to do so.

  40. @Statgeek – “Given that one supermarket is (supposedly – it has not been printed as yet)…”

    This is quite incorrect. The BBC has spoken to named individuals and is quoting them directly, including the CEO of Asda. Please stop characterizing this as a scare story.

    Regarding the point about agricultural production, absolutely – this is one strength of the Scottish economy, although I suspect that Scotland is still an importer of food overall.

    However, it’s much more to do with processing than production at source. This is currently organised on a UK wide basis. For example, there was a time not long ago when Morrisons in Fort William sold packaged fresh fish, landed at Oban and processed near Bristol. Local food is a tiny, tiny part of the supermarket offer.

    As I say, it’s far, far better to stop decrying facts we don’t like as being conspiracies, and be a bit more open in accepting realities. The Yes campaign has plenty of positives to talk about, and should be a bit more confident about recognising that all choices present downsides.

    Politics is all about the balance of risk and reward, and claiming there are no risks is one of the things that debases politics.

  41. @Crossbatt11

    “I wish these darned Populus and YouGov polls would behave and give us some polling results that actually align with each other!!”

    Maybe it’s just because they’re Polls. As I understand it, the MOE of the lead is a bit less than twice the MOE of the individual party’s VI. So if the Conservatives are (say) at 32 and Labour at (say) 39. There would be nothing outrageous about an individual poll giving Conservatives 35 and Labour 36 or Conservatives 29 and Labour 42.

    Having said which I do agree with you. I would like a nice quiet life with a Labour lead of around 10 that did not hop about!

  42. crossbat11

    A most amusing post, LOL

  43. @guymonde – I did see that quote, and I also posted myself on the fact that the OBR have changed their in year forecasts for 2013/14 on consumer spending from +0.5% to +1.9% and business investment from +2.5% to -2.2%. Really pretty scary.

    @neil A – there can be a play off between investment, higher productivity and reduced employment. Higher wages can spur investment. Our problem in part may be down to lowering wage costs – less incentive to invest.

    As we’re adding a new Southampton to the countries population every year, we should expect some economic growth anyway. The key issue is how the per capita income is performing, and this is really where you need the investment.

  44. crossbat11

    I should have added I rarely invest in individual shares although i do have some and careful analysis and some commitment on my part is involved. Most of my investing is into funds to ensure a really broad spread of investments.

  45. @ NEIL A

    Flattery will get you everywhere :p

    “Ultimately, businesses will respond to demand whatever its source. If people want to buy stuff and stick it on their credit cards, businesses will happily produce the stuff for them to buy and pay their staff to do so.”

    True enough, and obviously British consumers (showing my age alert) will choose to buy a slow, expensive to build, uncomfortable, unreliable, old-fashioned Morris Minor (courtesy of no investment)
    rather than a fast, modern, comfortable, reliable, cheap Toyota (courtesy of investment).
    And of course foreigners even more so, so that will help our export drive.
    So all will be well.

  46. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/10504553/BBC-show-dropped-feature-on-heritage-awards-for-being-English-only.html

    That BBC is just _so_ English isn’t it?

    It’s actually quite funny to see Scot’s rage at the BBC about anti Scots bias, and then see English Tory MP’s rage at the BBC for anti English bias.

    Probably means the BBC have got it about right, again.

  47. @Robert Newark

    “amply covered by the savings made by the effect of being able to keep interest rates at record low levels for several years.”

    I live in a retirement complex where low interest rates are not that popular because my fellow residents don’t have debts but do take some income from interest.

    By contrast I also have younger relatives who have tracker mortgages which they do not pay off. They are very happy with your point.

    Are you yourself really happy with a policy that relies on the feel good factor of these young spendthrifts maxing out on their credit cards and likely to pay a dire penalty when at some points interest rates inevitably rise? Implicitly it seems to assume that public debt is bad but private debt is inevitable and good.

  48. @Guymonde,

    Sarcasm? Is that what flattery gets me??!

    Interesting that you chose the car industry to be the bearer of your sarcasm, though. Isn’t that growing strongly, fed in part by high UK demand for cars and now back to pre-Crash production levels and not all that far off historic high levels?

  49. @Charles,

    The reverse assumption, that public debt is good, isn’t necessarily true either.

    I’d rather there was a lot less debt around, full stop.

  50. @ Ann in Wales
    “The peaked too soon idea does have resonance.How often have we seen a
    Horse lead all the way only to be overtaken in the final furlong.
    I think that this will go right to the wire,perhaps the Tories will just squeak it.”

    Yes, still possible.

    I will get back to reading the analysis of Statgeek and others – but I enjoyed a foray into sheer speculation !

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