The final YouGov poll of the year is up here. Voting intentions are CON 34%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%. The six point Labour lead is the same as the average in YouGov’s polls across December, in comparison in December 2012 YouGov was showing an average Labour lead of eleven points, so year-on-year Labour’s lead has almost halved – the YouGov average for December 2013 is Conservative 33% (up 1 since 2012), Labour 39% (down 4), Lib Dem 9% (down 1), UKIP 12% (up 3).

Labour leads have seemed a tad lower since the Autumn statement, but the vast majority that narrowing came in the early part of 2013 when economic optimism first stating picking up. We can see the changes in attitudes to the economy in the other regular YouGov trackers here. 17% now think the economy is doing well, 50% badly. It’s still strongly negative, but compare it to December 2012 when it was 5% well, 73% badly. 41% of people now think the coalition are managing the economy well, 51% badly – it’s still a net negative, but compare it to December 2012 when it was 31% well, 59% badly.

The most interesting questions in the rest of the poll were on shale gas and fracking, 44% of people support fracking/shale gas, 29% of people are opposed. This is up slightly since YouGov last asked in August when it was 41% to 33% opposed. Asked about its impacts people see it as safe by 47% to 33%, as good for the economy by 64% to 14%, but as environmentally damaging by 42% to 34%.

Compared to other potential ways of generating energy, fracking is seen as broadly preferable to coal or imported gas, but seen as less desirable than nuclear or renewable energy. People would, unsurprisingly, be less positive about fracking in their immediate area. Only 25% of people would support fracking within a couple of miles of their home, but it rises to 32% support if its further away, but in a local town or village, and goes up to 46% support if it was somewhere else in their local county, but not their own town or village.


316 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 34, LAB 40, LD 9, UKIP 11”

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  1. Statgeek,

    Not yet, but if Labour doesn’t run on a left-wing platform in 2015, they might. Labour’s strategy seems to be to pick up left-wing ex-Lib Dem voters, and Blairism isn’t the way to do that.

    That said, if Labour end up relying on Greens or LDs or nationalists, that would mean even more problems for implementing austerity…

  2. @Statgeek

    That IPSOS/Mori Holyrood poll you’re quoting from dates from September. A more recent one was from YouGov in December, which since September had Lab improving its position to draw level with the SNP in the Constituency vote. The Conservatives fell 2% to 14%, so again no evidence of any revival there.

  3. If the Conservatives lose the next election, is there a chance that George Osborne will be sought after to head the IMF in 2016?

    And if Ed Miliband were PM, would he go so far as to veto Osborne’s candidacy?

  4. Graham,

    “Is this not similar to what happened to the Tories in the years leading up to 1997 – economic growth helped them very little?”

    That’s an exaggeration: it didn’t help them to win, but the recovery (which only started to look good from around late 1994) did boost them by about 5% over their low average VI (about 25% in 1994!).

    For all that 1997 was disastrous for the Tories, they actually did better than Labour did in 2010 in terms of the popular vote, despite the fact that (a) they were stunningly out of touch and out of ideas after 18 years in government and (b) the Tories had found a way of losing their reputation on just about everything, from the economy (Black Wednesday) to family values (Tory sleaze).

    In fact, considering what had actually happened between roughly the Poll Tax and Allan Stewart doing a Leatherface impression, the Tory performance in the 1997 election was surprisingly good! And the only thing that can be attributed to is an improving economy, because the Tory campaign in 1997 was hardly great.

    So a good economy does make a difference, but it doesn’t necessarily win elections. Thus the Tories recovered from their lows in the 1992-1997 parliament due to the economic recovery, but it wasn’t enough to even prevent a landslide because of all the other bad things that were going on.

  5. Bill Patrick
    I had never heard of Allan Stewart so of course I looked him up. I need not have bothered as i knew he would turn out to have been a rising star in the 80s (when I was not here).

    It’s amazing how often this happens – a whole chunk of the typical Brit experience is lost to those of us who missed out on the Thatcher era.

    Just one extra point; I didn’t know who Leatherface was either. It’s probably for the same reason and may explain why this fictional character (I looked him up) has so much impact on you in 1997, but not me (but I can’t somehow work out why it would be connected with the 1997 election).

  6. The requests for food bank donations outside Waitrose can affect the perceptions even of the well-off.

  7. If Ed does win, is he duty bound to enact a boundary review, within the period of the next parliament, or will he be likely to just forget about it and keep his advantage, or at least delay it so long, that it wouldn’t be effective until the 2025 GE?

  8. @Howard: I was around in the ’80s but I have no idea who he is (was?) either.

  9. @Robert Newark:

    I don’t think it’s obligatory but even if there is one I imagine he’ll scrap the requirement introduced by the Coalition of equalising constituency sizes, which threw up all sorts of anomalies.

  10. @RogerH

    I’d never heard of Allan Stewart either and he seems an unusual choice as an illustration of sleaze when there were so many other Tories of that era (J.Aitken would be my favourite)

    @Howard
    I was served in B&Q today by somebody who was the spitting image of Howard from the Halifax ads. I presume he was neither you nor TOH :-)
    He was trying to convince me what a robust recovery we have by individually marking things that were already 50% off down by another 50%. So my £12.99 Christmas plant was £3 and B&Q felt like the Marrakech souk.

  11. BILL PATRICK

    I remember Allan Stewart’s escapades well.

  12. The linking between economy and these polls is a false narrative.

    Firstly, there is no one point or event where it became clear to the country as a whole that the economy was picking up – certainly not at the start of the year. Many commentators have alluded to the point that many people haven’t actually felt any impact on their lives from this recovery.

    Secondly, the poll analysis simply doesn’t support it. If the economy was the major factor in these polls, then surely it would mean that the Conservative vote would have gone up, accordingly? It hasn’t. The votes have narrowed because Labour’s share of the vote has dropped.

    What has happened is that the UKIP party increased it’s share of the votes – taking 4% off the Labour party since 2012. The rest of the Labour vote has remained remarkably steady – but the Conservative vote has fluctuated significantly as the UKIP vote has gone up and down.

  13. Season’s Greetings everyone .

    As it’s Christmas (nearly) here’s a bit of fun for all of us ,’Old Moore’ , of Almanac fame is predicting dire trouble for the U.K. Government in January, yea even unto the calling of an early General Election…

    Now the question is, should we give as much credence to this prognostication as we would to a ComRes poll say?

  14. Billy Bob,
    Well why not.I seem to remember Osborne vetoed Gordon Brown!
    Charles,
    My mother is now in a nursing home so hopefully we will get a bit of time for
    Ourselves.A busy Xmas with lots of grandchildren ,so a very happy Xmas to
    Everyone and looking forward to many interesting political discussions next year.And what a year it is going to be,I think.
    Have fun all of you,x

  15. Bill Patrick
    ‘Thus the Tories recovered from their lows in the 1992-1997 parliament due to the economic recovery’

    I rather disagree there. The Tory ‘recovery’ was little more than swingback from the midterm trough of 94/95.

  16. Bill Patrick
    ‘Thus the Tories recovered from their lows in the 1992-1997 parliament due to the economic recovery’

    I rather disagree there. The Tory ‘recovery’ was little more than swingback from the midterm trough of 94/95.If you want some

    To put some context into this, the Conservative drop from 92 to 97 was 11.2%.

    Labour in 2005 to 2010 lost 6.2%.

    In Nov 95 the Conservatives had dropped to 25% ( -16.9% from 1992).

    Whatever way it is viewed, the Conservative fall in vote share from 1992 to 1997 was a horror rarely seen in anyone’s lifetime.

  17. I would add that when the Conservatives were on 25%, Labour were on 56%.

    Surely no-one thought that difference was realistic or a likely election outcome.

  18. “Whatever way it is viewed, the Conservative fall in vote share from 1992 to 1997 was a horror rarely seen in anyone’s lifetime.”

    Thought is was a bit of a laugh meself.

  19. Howard,

    I picked his example because of its peculiarity, not its importance.

    Guymonde,

    Allan Stewart wasn’t sleazy in the slightest, as far as I know. He is an example of how the Tories managed to do just about everything to convince people not to vote for them in 1997. EVERYTHING.

    Graham,

    “The Tory ‘recovery’ was little more than swingback from the midterm trough of 94/95.”

    That’s precisely what I meant by “a recovery from their lows”.

    Catmanjeff,

    “Whatever way it is viewed, the Conservative fall in vote share from 1992 to 1997 was a horror rarely seen in anyone’s lifetime.”

    Quite true, but I know of no other explanation for why they polled 30.7% rather than 25%, except that the economy did very well during the 1993-1997 period.

    Rory Hughes,

    So people don’t feel like there’s a recovery and the Tories haven’t recovered in their VI? That sounds quite consistent with an “it’s the economy, stupid” narrative.

    Anyway, if anyone’s interested, my prediction is that Labour will get through with a decent working majority (something like 15-30 seats) which will allow them to do five years but not without some trouble from the backbenchers. The Tories will be in a much better position to win in 2020 than in 1997-2010, since they won’t lose anything like as many seats as they did in 1997. The Lib Dems will do better than UNS would suggest, because I would be surprised if they don’t hold onto a fair number of LD-Tory marginals due to tactical voting. UKIP will win no seats, but may cost the Tories a lot of otherwise safe Lab-Con seats. The SNP will do well in Liberal Pictland, I think.

  20. @Robert Newark

    I suspect EM will have to deal with the Boundaries Review issue, as it would seem positively un-democratic not to do so. However, any potential review would be very disadvantageous for Labour. It is an interesting conundrum. I remember that Miliband is personally attracted to alternatives to pure FPTP. I wonder if we might see some top-up (90/10?) “fiddling at the edges” (described by me on the previous thread) which could look legitimate but work to Labour’s advantage to mitigate any loss of FPTP advantage.

  21. I think the next GE will be won with less that 38% or less of the vote and I also think UKIP will get 10%+.

    Therefore, FPTP will deliver a result seriously disproportionate to the votes cast. A third consecutive GE with a winner getting under 40% will undermine our system further in my view.

    We may be in a position where the Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP all see PR or some AV system as beneficial to them.

    All this means that some constitutional reform might be on the cards.

  22. @Ewen Lightfoot – “yea even unto the calling of an early General Election…”

    David Cameron has an unusual chart… the Moon/Jupiter-Mercury squares and Pluto/Uranus-Saturn oppositions forming a kind of red cross on an underl%ing kite or shield formation.

    It’s a computer generated interpretation not a prediction, but makes for intriguing (and sometimes hilarious) reading over this starry festive season:

    h
    ttp://www.kozmikhoroscopes.com/cameron.htm

  23. @shevii

    Take your point: yes, if wages don’t rise this dilutes the effect of inflation eroding the debt. Wages are rising a bit overall of course, and worth bearing in mind that while significant, taxation on personal income is about tenere percent of GDP, while the total tax take is about 35% of GDP. So even if we leave out increases in revenue from the ten percent of personal taxation, there’s stlll another 25% to come from Corporation tax and all the rest.

    Of course if we were pushing for more of an investment-led recovery, with productivity rising, we couldhavewage growth with less inflation. But then unemployment might not come down as fast…

  24. I should add that Alec pointed out, productivity is rising a bit. Question is… Is it enough?…

  25. “Whatever way it is viewed, the Conservative fall in vote share from 1992 to 1997 was a horror rarely seen in anyone’s lifetime.”

    I’m not sure that will be of much comfort to Nick Clegg.

  26. Clegg seems impervious to his party’s standing…

  27. @Bill Patrick

    More likely that the Tory Party will implode following a defeat in 2015.

  28. Bill Patrick

    I’d say your prediction is about right, assuming Lab and Con run equally competent (or incompetent) campaigns and assuming no major shocks (Spain invading Gibraltar anyone?)

  29. Colin –

    “April/Nov Deficit £ 1.9bn less than same period last year.
    Full FY forecast by OBR £ £3.7 bn less than previous year .
    ( all numbers per ONS-excluding RM pension tfr & APF coupon refunds )”

    Yes it will be below last years unless something goes very wrong, but it’s unlikely to be £10-£15 billion below which had been widely speculated at by the tories and right wing commentators, particularly in recent months and around the autumn statement.

    And even £10-£15 billion below would still leave the UK with one of the largest deficits in the developed world. Osbourne’s claim to eliminate the deficit entirely by 2018-19 is optimistic. Of course his original plan was for it to go by 2015.

  30. 2013 Round-up available now folks:

    http://www.statgeek.co.uk/2013/12/2013-polling-round-up/

    And all the usual charts have been updated too.

    Anyone got an answer to the North’s Leadership Ratings conundrum (mentioned within said article)?

  31. Further to my last comment, Osbourne seems to be getting away relatively unscathed by missing his previous deficit reduction target of a balanced budget by 2015, and the very slight reduction in the deficit this year despite stronger GDP figures, and as such will he perhaps be tempted to up spending or increase tax cuts from April’s budget to May 2015? He has enjoyed little criticism in the press about the misses and slow progress, as well as seeing few immediate ill-effects from credit ratings agencies in the past year after the first downgrades.

    I’m sure a few treats were lined up before the election but if the tories are still at current poling levels in 3 months will he be tempted to add a few more?

  32. Rogerh,

    Possibly, but not probably. Parties tend not to implode after losses where they can easily rationalise their defeats, even if those defeats were severe: Labour had “It was all the SDP’s fault!” in 1983, and in fact that election turned out to be the beginning of a long process of a reversal in the party’s long-term decline.

  33. Happy Christmas to all (I’m off and away for it first thing tomorrow) and a note to Statgeek in leaving. I think your feeling that quite a lot has changed in 2013 may be just a case of picking where you start from. My memory (and I’m not looking it up) is that December 2012 represented a little spike in Labour’s fortunes. Over August 2012, for example, Labour were on their trusty 38. 38 has been the average – and a pretty constant one – for the parliament, so I’d suggest that (unless you pick and choose your dates) 38 is where Labour ‘are’.

  34. @Colin Davis

    Actually December’12 was the end of a run from May’12 to Dec’12 of Labour being solid at 43% or thereabouts. The average for December’11 was 40.6%, so 2012 was a good year for Labour, compared to 2013.

  35. The Tory Party could change dramatically after Cameron, imo he has been a bit of a tinkerer, inheriting much of Howard’s shadow cabinet in 2005 and making changes only when forced to do so.

    The next leader is just as likely to come from the 2010 intake, some of whom are actually a wee bit older than Cameron/Osborne/Gove/Johnson etc, (but not as old as May/Hammond).

  36. Saw Cable’s interview with Marr this morning and he gave a masterclass in what being a boisterous and troublesome partner in a pragmatic coalition of political antagonists is all about.

    For his party’s sake, alas, if only Clegg, Laws, Alexander, Browne etc had shown similar traits and, in purely political terms, nous too. Supine assimilation was never the only option.

    []

  37. @Ewen

    “predicting dire trouble for the U.K. Government in January, yea even unto the calling of an early General Election…”
    _____________________________
    Lib Dems leave government due to the Tories drifting too far to the right? “we have stabilised the economy, we have done our duty, but now we feel we need to withdraw as this government has become ……”

    That could be an earthquake. Would the 2010 defectors forgive them for the 2010 betrayal if they did that? It could turn everyone’s predictions completely upside down. Would BME voters start to move to the Lib Dems as Labour and the Tories try to out UKIP UKIP on immigration?

    I think that could persuade me to vote Lib Dem for one. They seem to be moving into that space the other parties are vacating.

  38. Crossbat11,

    I’m glad that the Lib Dems seem to finally realise that there’s no point trying to outcompete the main two parties (and now UKIP) on being the nasty party re: immigration. They are never going to win at that game.

    Though it makes very little difference, since I don’t live in a Lib Dem marginal, Clegg’s article in the Sunday Times did as much as any Lib Dem has done to win my vote since Charles Kennedy on Iraq. The fact that the Tories have started to lose their heads on Europe again and the Lib Dems have ditched their Euro plans (the biggest single factor driving me away from them in the past) helps the Lib Dem case.

    However, somehow I don’t see this turning the tide for the Lib Dems. Still, if they’re going to get battered in 2015, it might as well be on a sensible policy platform.

  39. A result of Con 25, Lab 56, Lib 13 gives a Labour Majority of 415 on 1997 boundaries, and that’s without taking into account the tactical vote!

    If the Lib Dems quit the government, Clegg would have to go. The appearance of change would need to be followed with a change of leadership or it would look like electoral opportunism.

    As for the Lib Dems getting battered on a sensible platform, I actually think 2015 presents a great opportunity for both halves of the party, since the Libs are going to be wrecked anyway.

    The SLF can step back and let the Orange Bookers lay out their beliefs and get hammered, or the Orange Bookers can do the same to the SLF. Then the remnant of the party has leverage for driving out the left/right as they see fit.

  40. @Crossbat11

    I agree. Labour supporter that I am, I was impressed with VC before the election and my admiration has not diminished. I have spent much of the coalition era working close to Further and Higher Education and whilst they have made mistakes in that space and – Willetts aside – he has had to work with weak (Hayes) or very ideological (Hancock) lieutenants, on the whole I think he has dealt well with a poor set of cards.

    I also have the impression that the bits of industry that seem to be working OK (eg autos) are the ones where BIS have supported employers/investors with a bit of industrial policy – perhaps sneaked in under the covers – whilst most of industry continues to flounder under general unhelpful treasury macro-economics. But that paragraph may be my prejudice rather than based on any facts :p

  41. @Crossbat11

    “….Supine assimilation was never the only option…”

    We are the very relaxed Borg. Resistance is…meh, whateva.

    @all

    I’m visting rellies this coming week, so Merry Xmas to you all and see you in 2014.

  42. If the Lib Dems quit the government, Clegg would have to go. The appearance of change would need to be followed with a change of leadership or it would look like electoral opportunism.

    I can’t imagine Nick Clegg surviving the next GE regardless.

    As for electoral opportunism, whatever the circumstances that lead up the next GE, the LDs are taking a long walk off a short pier.

  43. Absolutely nothing would convince me to vote LD again; even if the leader changed it would make no difference…
    If the LD stepped out of government do you really think the public would believe the reasons the LDs gave, after all the previous rhetoric it would be even more of a disaster for them…

    Oh don’t get me wrong, I can see why the LDs would want to leave government, but I think it will be very, very difficult to leave government, yet supporting the government until the GE, if the LD did leave and then things started to go wobbly, well you see the problem, I can imagine the headlines about rodents and sinking ship being the softest .

  44. GUYMONDE

    @” But that paragraph may be my prejudice rather than based on any facts :”

    Yep-could very well be.

  45. CB11

    @”We might have got a better government too.”

    A tad subject there CB ?

    I see you are a devotee of the Mick McManus School of Coalition Government.

    You should get a Borgen Box set . lol

  46. ED

    @”Yes it will be below last years unless something goes very wrong, but it’s unlikely to be £10-£15 billion below which had been widely speculated at by the tories and right wing commentators, particularly in recent months and around the autumn statement.”

    I would tend to agree-but the January Tax season will be critical.

    Yes-I agree that UK’s public finances continue to be an overiding concern.Management of The Debt & it’s servicing costs will pre-occupy the next administration as well-whoever they are.

  47. Quite possible that both of the Coalition parties will have new leaders by Christmas 2015.

  48. Richard – “Labour and the Tories try to out UKIP UKIP on immigration?”

    There’s a grain of truth in that, in terms of the rhetoric maybe… “British jobs for British workers” springs to mind, plus the reporting of Ed Miliband’s IPPR speech (as opposed to the content). The Beeb reported him as vowing to “deter firms from employing foreign workers”, though I think it was more a case of vowing to enforce employment law and deter exploitation. The speech itself makes a positive case for immigration, and I suppose implicitly makes the case for “foreign jobs for British workers” lol.

    Actually there is a bit of a history of the press portraying some industrial action as “anti-foregner” when in fact the result has been to force employers to make extra payments to teams of workers from Italy and other parts of the world (brought in by employers on certain contracts), thus bring them up to legal minimum rates.

  49. According to Electoral Calculus, who collate all the YouGov poll data over a month and average the Scottish subset, they predict the Tories will win 5 seats in Scotland at the GE, all at the expense of the Lib Dems. So no, I wasn’t basing my evidence for a Tory revival in Scotland on the basis of this one poll, but a series of monthly collated data sets by Electoral Calculus.
    http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/scotland.html

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