Sunday Polls

Today’s results for the Sunday Times are up online here. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. On the leader good job/bad job ratings Cameron’s net score is minus 12 (up 3), Miliband’s is minus 38 (down 3), Nick Clegg’s is minus 58 (down 7). 75% now think Clegg is doing a bad job as Lib Dem leader, just 17% a good job. It represents Clegg’s worst score since last May.


The regular economic trackers are continuing to get better (or at least, less bad). 44% of people now think the government are managing the economy well, 48% badly – their best score since 2010. The feel good factor (the proportion thinking they’ll be better off in the next year minus those who think they’ll be worse off) has risen above minus 20 for the first time since the election.

YouGov also asked a question about what people’s reaction to Labour having a agenda that was criticised by big business (often pollsters ask questions which become out of date by the time they are published because of changing events. This one was the opposite, we asked it before Ed Balls announced 50p and got laid into by business interest groups, so for once events made it become more topical!). 45% think it would be bad for the economy if Labour won with policies that large businesses were unhappy with, only 18% think it would be good. On people’s own personal finances 29% think it would be bad, 15% good. (Note that it isn’t actually possible to tell if people think the policies that business is unhappy about would be bad for the economy, or just Labour winning per se. In hindsight it would have been good to have a split sample, with half getting a control question that just asked about a Labour government)

In a separate Survation poll in the Mail on Sunday, 60% of people supporting re-introducing the 50p top rate, roughly the same sort of proportion who opposed it being abolished in the first place.


Going back to the YouGov poll, on balance people are opposed to Britain accepting refugees from Syria, but not by a vast amount. 47% think we should not accept any, 39% think we should – considering how hostile polls often are on issues of immigration this is closer than one might have thought! Those people who support accepting Syrian refugees are actually rather generous in regard of the number we should accept. While politicians are discussing a few hundred, 40% of those who support accepting Syrian refugees think we should offer to take more than 1000.


Most of the rest of YouGov’s poll dealt with the Royal family and the gradual handover of the Queen’s duties to Charles. The public gradually seem to be coming round to the idea of the Queen cutting down on commitments, and to Charles’s future succession. While a majority of people would still oppose the Queen abdicating, 47% of people would now support her abdicating in the future if she were to become too ill to regularly carry out royal duties or appear in public. 46% of people would still prefer her to remain Queen for life, even if she handed over her duties to other family members. This is the first time YouGov have shown more people in favour than opposed to the Queen abdicating if she becomes too ill to continue work.

There is very widespread support for Charles taking over more of the Queen’s duties, 75% think it is a good idea, only 13% a bad idea. By 42% to 36% people would even support Charles taking over ALL the Queens current roles and responsibilities as Prince Regent, allowing the Queen to effectively retire.

Over the last decade YouGov have asked if people would prefer to see Charles succeed as monarch, or the crown skip a generation to William. Having seen a peak in favour of William after the royal wedding, the public now seen reconciled to Charles as King, with 53% now saying the crown should pass to him, only 31% saying it should skip a generation. It’s the first time this question has shown support for Charles as King rise over 50%. There has not been a similar increase in support for Camilla becoming Queen. Only 17% think she should have the title of Queen, a figure that has remained steady for the last six years.


There is also a new ICM poll on the Scottish referendum, conducted for Scotland on Sunday. Unlike most Scottish referendum polling, normally notable for its stability, this one actually shows a significant change! 37% say they would vote YES, up 5 points from ICM’s last Scottish poll in September, 44% say they would vote NO, down 5 points from September.

John Curtice already has a detailed trawl through the poll here and unlike me he has the luxury of having seen the tables. He picks up one particularly interesting thing: the swing since September is strongly concentrated amongst young people. Amongst over 45s there’s no change, amongst people aged 25-44 support for YES is up 6 points, amongst under 25s it’s up 33 points (!). That rings a few alarm bells, but as ever, one shouldn’t read too much into very small subsamples – it could mean ICM had a weird sample that gave them a weird results, or that they had a weird group of under 25s but the overall sample was fine, or that there genuinely is a big shift towards YES amongst younger voters. We shall see.

296 Responses to “Sunday Polls”

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  1. David

    I.m quite sure they would not.

  2. TOH. Yes.

  3. David

    No, I think what he is trying to do is right and if i was young, out of work and penniless I would still think he is right because I am who I am.

  4. rogerh

    “I actually think that IDS is doing more to improve the future for those at the bottom of Society than anyone since 1945.”
    “Well-meaning but useless would be my most generous view on Mr Smith. I think the emergence of food banks will be his legacy, something largely unknown in this country since the Welfare State was established. His attitude to the Trussell Trust did him no credit”

    If the Tories have an Achilles’ heel then it’s on welfare reforms, I don’t doubt that.

    The problem I see however with Labour’s proposals on welfare reforms is they are actually competing with IDS on his policies.

    Sanctions if you can’t read or write, must take tests etc.
    emergence of food banks will be his legacy, something largely unknown in this country since the Welfare State was established” please…
    And food bank use was there under Labour so less of the “

  5. TOH. And of course you are in the position you are,as we all are.I think opinions are shaped by the position we are in.

  6. Last part of my comment should had read.

    “emergence of food banks will be his legacy, something largely unknown in this country since the Welfare State was established”

    Foodbanks were there under Labour.

  7. David

    No my political philosophy has not changed significantly since I was 17 and had very little.

  8. TOH. You’re an honest man.

  9. As ever, this is NOT a venue for debating if government policies are any good or not.

  10. CB11

    I wrote over a year ago that my view was the Tories had a fairly high bottom and a fairly low top and that they are simply treading water while they wait for the bottom to drop as older believers die.

    So a range from, say 29 – 37% ish

    Labour 25 – 45% ish

    LD 7% – 25% ish

    In other words they have a very strong base support but with very little “added value” to supplement it.

    They may recover but I am not sure how. The party membership and many of its MPs will not take kindly to yet another [failed] attempt at re-invention.

  11. @David

    Regarding our opinions being shaped by our current self interest. This is not always the case otherwise nothing would ever change. Why would white South African’s campaign against apartheid? Why did we widen the voting franchise? Why do people who are straight vote for gay marriage?

    People are social and they will campaign and vote for things that do not directly benefit themselves for in their view a better society.

  12. Doesn’t a “better” society directly benefit us all?

  13. NickP

    We probably all agree on that, it’s just we have completely different views on how to achieve it. Anyway as AW has pointed out we cannot go on debating who is right so I’m happy to just agree with your last post and leave it at that.

  14. @RogerH,

    “Food banks” under that title and structure may be “unknown” in the UK (I don’t know) but I have distinct memories of every primary school in the country having a collection of food “for the poor” every Harvest Festival.

    I have no idea how that food was distributed to the poor (I was a bit young to understand anything beyond bugging my mother for some tinned soup etc). But I am willing to bet that the mechanism had at least some resemblance to a “food bank”.

  15. Could do with a nice marginal by-election to get something interesting to tie us over until the Europeans

    Polls are a bit boring at the moment and even the heat over Balls’s taxation is a bit manufactured to be honest

    Is it just me but the Tories have been very lucky with the lack of by-elections in this Parliament? Lot of Labour ones but apart from Eastleigh and Corby the Government have not had too much to defend

    Does this affect the momentum building up for an opposition?

  16. If “full employment” will solve our social problems, why is there a need to import so many unskilled and low-skilled workers from other countries?

    Surely there will be a hardcore of people who don’t want the jobs on offer, even if we theoretically had “full” employment? (I think that’s probably close to true in some areas already in fact).

    The Soviet Union had a system where you were offered three jobs (generally not of your choosing). If you rejected all three you were imprisoned for “parasitism”. Bingo, full employment. We could always try that?

  17. @BR Crombie,

    Yes I agree. Both Labour and UKIP would have welcomed a by-election in a vulnerable Tory seat (say, majority 5,000-10,000 range).

  18. Fraser

    “Does anyone know what the SNP were getting from that demographic (well minus the 16/17 year olds) at the 2011 election?”

    Can’ help, but I don’t think it’s relevant anyway.

    While the No campaign and the media are assiduous in promoting it as “Salmond’s referendum” or an SNP only campaign, in reality the required shift is among sufficient of those who normally vote Labour.

    On an issue like independence, complex sets of characteristics will incline people to vote Yes or No and, at a time when the public’s faith in and respect for political parties is at an all time low, traditional support for a particular party at an election may not be of great importance.

  19. Interesting polls. The referendum poll should shake the complacency among the establishment regarding the result, and the economic debate is clearly shifting towards the government. And the Lord Rennard case has ended up (to my surprise) having an apparent impact, in that it has cut short a brief Lib Dem revival in some polls.

  20. @NickP

    Yes definitely – I have a friend that uses that argument to say there is no such thing as altruism.

    But my impression of Britain today is that there is an elite who do not want a fairer society because they are the elite and very happy – thanks very much.

    The middle classes are manifestly not part of that elite so are either voting Lab or UKIP. That is why the Cons are in trouble – they have lost touch with the middle class, who are not part of the ‘club’ the way they were under Thatcher or Major.

    The current robust defence of those earning more than 150k won’t help.

  21. @Couper,

    I’m not sure gay marriage isn’t “in my interests”. I know two lesbian couples, one well-off (police sergant and NHS manager), one very rich (PR exec types) who are planning weddings in the next year.

    If I am invited to either, then myself and Mrs A are guaranteed some excellent fayre. A clear benefit!

    As an aside, I have never quite understand how SSM “damages” marriage. Domestic violence, tax and benefit rules, all sorts of things harm the institution of marriage. But gays? Don’t get it.

  22. Neil A

    Yes indeed they would – I would have hoped Cannock Chase would be vacant soon (as Falkirk) due to the behaviour of their MPs but I doubt we will see it. Whatever happened to recall?

    On full employment I think that is an interesting point and is one I saw raised on LDV. It has happened at both ends of the employment scale.

    It has been a failure on all sides to deal with these questions over many years

  23. Cannock Chase probably too marginal to be the best “shop window” for government defeat. There would be no expectation of holding it. I suppose a huge defeat would still have the desired effect.

    The most momentous reversals are generally those where the media can justify characterising the seat as “safe”. The sense of incongruity that comes from a newly elected socialist in a leafy suburb, or of a fresh-faced neo-liberal in an industrial heartland does wonders for the media commentary.

  24. Of course, some polling questions (from otherwise reputable pollsters) do little to enhance our understanding of the universe (at least this one)

    “What would be your reaction if you woke up tomorrow and Scotland had become an independent country?”

    Asked by YouGov on behalf of Sky News.

    Dismayed? Since that could only happen via a coup d’etat, I’d be bloody furious!

  25. COUPER2802.
    I fully agree with your analysis, thank you very much for the clarity with which you explained the situation with regard to our elites.

    In the coming week I have to teach, rather in new educational speak, I have to support the students in learning about: the triangulation approach of St T B. Ed is moving from that approach; John Cruddas is having a big impact here.

    Maybe it will work in the next fifteen months up to the merry month of May: 2015.

  26. NeilA,
    Interesting point about harvest festivals.The church has a long record of feeding the poor.In some old churches you can still see the Dole chests where
    They kept the bread to be given to the poor.So I suppose there is a link here to
    Food banks.What is of great concern is that there are so many of them.Apparently there are people who cannot afford the fuel to heat food,so have to have different parcels of food that can be eaten cold.Deeply worrying if
    There are children in these households.

  27. @Colin Davies

    I’d like to agree with you (about ‘social’ etc and – as I might put it, the people reinventing society, which was set aside in the 80s and hasn’t really returned) but I’m concerned it’s wishful thinking.

    No problem with agreeing with your post without reservation.


  28. Ann in Wales.
    The situation in Boscombe in Bournemouth is as you described; the Christian denominations here are working very well together with these families.

    However; no polling impact of such human suffering may be expected,

  29. @ Neil,

    Domestic violence, tax and benefit rules, all sorts of things harm the institution of marriage. But gays? Don’t get it.

    Gays marrying straight people harms the institution of marriage, I’ve always thought. Which is another argument for allowing them to marry each other.

    Re. by-elections in “safe” seats- Ribble Valley? It seems like that’s all gone quiet, but I haven’t heard the investigation has been dropped.

  30. Quite an interesting addendum to the debate over the tax rate on earnings over £150K is to think for a moment about the current 40% rate threshold.

    Since 1988, when the rates were simplified and we had the two rate basic & higher rate system, the balance of benefits has been quite interesting.

    For those earning £20,000 today, accounting for the impact of inflation and the changes in thresholds, rates and NI contributions, in today’s monetary value I work out that these people would be around £1400 a year better off in terms of salary taxes. The benefits of the 20% rate as opposed to the 25% basic rate in 1988, plus the increase in the personal allowance ahead of inflation, is partly offset by the increase in NI by 3% and a slower increase in the lower NI limit.

    Someone earning right on the higher rate threshold (around £41K) is £1200 better off today than they would have been in 1988. Again – salary taxes only, and no account of higher VAT and other taxes.

    Where things start to look significantly painful is when you consider what the higher rate threshold would have been if it had followed inflation from 1988. Today, it would have been around £49,500.

    This means that above the current higher rate threshold, people are losing 17% compared to 1988 (the 15% differential between the current 40% rate and the basic rate back then, plus 2% NI). By the time you reach the notional inflation adjusted threshold, you will therefore have lost around £1500 and be a net loser.

    I find this interesting, as the increase in tax take in the 40% band, which has happened due to a relative falling back of the threshold, appears to be blithely ignorant of the principles of the Laffer Curve. If the Laffer Curvers are correct, we would expect to see a progressive reduction in the income raised by the 40% rate, but instead, we see it rising markedly. As I mentioned yesterday, Laffer Curves are only for the wealthy, not the mere mortals.

    I think this analysis also helps to show how and where the tax burden has shifted in recent times.

  31. That ICM poll on Scottish independence will have shaken Better Together because, although they won’t admit it, they know perfectly well that the MSM have given them almost uncritical support.

    BBC/ITV have also provided reporting which academic review strongly suggests has favoured the No campaign.

    BT must have hoped at this point in the campaign to have driven “Yes” well below the 46% vote that this poll implies.

    Many people are likely to finalise their voting intentions during the last 16 weeks of the campaign.Critically the BBC is obliged to be impartial from that juncture.

    Memories of the rout of unionism for Holyrood 2011 (which I consider was contributed to in a major way by the pre-election Scottish debates) must now turn their dreams to nightmares :-).

  32. Spearmint – re Ribble Valley

    Nigel Evans pleaded not guilty to nine charges at pre-trial hearing last Friday. Trial date now set for March 10th.

  33. R and D
    “the Tories had a fairly high bottom and a fairly low top ”

    Ooh missus!

    I did not think the rather loaded question (‘do you agree’ ‘what do you think of this one then’ type) in the ST YG poll got us anywhere, especially on the big business one. Do look at the partisan breakdowns and you will see what i mean. Don’t look at the overall percentages.

    Apologies if you devised it Anthony. It’s just what I think about that sort of questioning.

  34. “Apologies if you devised it Anthony. It’s just what I think about that sort of questioning.”

    Agreed Howard: it was what I like to call “soppy”.

    Might as well have said “Would you feel differently if a load of people who know far more about these things than you do think it will damage the economy?”

    Far too long a question as well.

  35. @couper2802 This looked like a leading question to me too. Sometimes Yougov puts up these questions within polls and I am sure they are just there for a sun headline.

  36. AW

    Sorry to have transgressed but thank you for removing that offensive paragraph.

  37. “R and D
    “the Tories had a fairly high bottom and a fairly low top ”

    Ooh missus! ”

    Utterly disgraceful response Howard.

    Your Mum will be v. cross with you.

  38. My first snip
    And I’ll never know what offensive stuff TOH rote

  39. Any statistics guru like to cast light on the effect of weighting small sub-samples on MOEs? This seems to have relevance to the Scottish poll and more generally.

  40. @Alec,

    I don’t think the Laffer Curve can be expected to account for all changes in tax take over an extended period, as there are so many factors that come together to produce the tax take.

    The Laffer Curve is only about the effect of the rate itself on the tax take. In other words, “all else being equal”.

    In terms of pure logic, the Laffer Curve must be “true”. Because at 0% tax, no income would be generated, and at 100% tax, virtually no income would be generated (you might find one or two independently wealthy individuals who are happy to slave for the government for free perhaps).

    The debate surely isn’t about whether the Laffer Curve exists, but rather about it’s shape, and where “peak efficiency” is realised (hence the discussion about “48%”).

  41. I suppose we should be looking for further increases of Conservative support over the next few months. They were skirting around 30% and just below 1-2 years ago, due to “mid term unpopularity”. That period ought to be more or less over by now, so we should see slow but steady increases in trend support (aided by the improving economy).

    Or else we find that this whole scenario is not going to happen, and low-mid 30’s is the best it gets for them. Let us be grateful for interesting elections, because this seems like it will be one.

  42. Charts updated folks (no article this time).

    So no 3% lead continuation then. A blip, it seems. Polldrums once more? My MAD average lead is still at 6.0, and that’s been as constant as we’ve seen (the five-poll average lead to today is also 6.0).

    Cameron’s leadership rating has risen quite a bit in RoS (to +9), so I’ve re-jigged said charts to identical axis ranges. Easier to compare across regions that way. Miliband and Clegg are fairly even in RoS (-43 and -45 respectively). Is that normal, or should one be doing better than the other in RoS?

    I just had a look at the May’10 to present monthly averages for the approval ratings and one constant (probably coincidence, but humour me) is that in February of 11, 12, and 13 the government popularity ratings dropped. Possibly due to end of January bills and winter boredom? Something to watch out for soon.

    May’12 was the government’s lowest rating at -38.4 (the low point of the ‘Pastygate’ times, while the current monthly rating of -25.8 is roughly in line with second half of 2011 before Cameron’s veto lift. In other words, the Pastygate losses have been recovered, but that’s nowhere near the May’10 ratings of +16.5, and that will be unlikely in the near future.

    In 2011 the approval ratings fluctuated, but looking at them together, there was little change. The interesting bit will be whether the ratings move or flat line in the -20 to -25 range, per 2011.

    Perhaps the approval ratings might be a good indicator of ‘electability’ from this point (i.e. -20 to -25 is probably not good enough to prevent a Labour win, but it might be. Lower probably indicates Labour win. Higher might indicate a hung parliament (I assume they will need positive ratings to be assured of a Con OM).

    Also re-jigged the leadership charts to include 2014 (three data points so far).

  43. Chris Martin

    Odd that in the monarchy question set there was no analysis as to whether the respondents were republicans.

    There is actually when asked Thinking about the future monarch, which of the following would you prefer? 10% chose the option “Neither – there should be no monarch after Queen Elizabeth II”. It’s possible some republicans may have decided to choose between Charles and William anyway (support for republicanism is often mid to high teens) and to some extent these things depend on wording, but 10%, which is similar to the last two times the question was asked.

    What I did think interesting on that question was the swing between William and Charles over the last two years from 44-38 for William to 53-31 for Charles. It’s a big movement away to Charles (the figures were similar I think even before William’s wedding) and suggest either a reduction of press attacks or an increased unwillingness to follow them. There may also be the feeling that it’s a big responsibility to give to someone starting a family and only beginning to work full-time in the “The Firm”.

    I was also surprised at the support (54% to 34%) for Charles continuing to speak “out on subjects he feels strongly about, such as the environment, architecture and planning and alternative medicine”, even though he is taking on more of the Queen’s role. The conventional wisdom is that this is deeply unpopular, but clearly this only applies (as with so much else) to those that live in the media bubble.

  44. @Neil A

    “The debate surely isn’t about whether the Laffer Curve exists, but rather about it’s shape, and where “peak efficiency” is realised (hence the discussion about “48%”)”

    I think that is the debate about the Laffer Curve though – that it’s essentially analytically useless. If all it says is ‘revenue at 0% tax and 100% tax will be zero’ then its just stating a truism. What the curve is nobody knows, what the optimal rate is, nobody knows and what it is at any given time period probably depends on lots of contingent factors. And the Laffer Curve doesn’t help to work out any of these issues – hence its useless.

    Politically its very useful, as claims can always be made that we’re at the peak, or on the downward slope etc. so taxes should be dropped (whilst also making it sound like its for the good of all – tax less and get more revenue). But economics wise, even by the standards of neoclassical economics, its useless.

  45. @Tom Robinson

    “Critically the BBC is obliged to be impartial from that juncture.”

    Curious. Is that not supposed to be the case at all times?

  46. @Anarchists Unite

    But surely, arguments about increasing tax revenue through higher rates also make their own assumptions based on the Laffer Curve? It’s not just the right who rely on it, in effect.

    And I’d argue that it’s obviousness is not just restricted to 0% and 100%. Clearly tax rates at 1%, 5% or even 10% would raise very much. And the same is true for, say, the high nineties.

    So the debate is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps the 20-80 range, for arguments sake. Although I agree with you that we probably don’t (and never will have) the statistical and fiscal tools to accurately measure the pivot point, in philosophical terms it must exist. And I’d argue that all sides essentially agree on that. After all, Balls isn’t saying a new Labour government would set the higher rate at 80%. Unless he’s giving up much-needed revenue to be “fair” to rich people, I’d argue that this is because he believes the “Laffer Pivot” is somewhere around 50% (perhaps a little more – allowing for his calculations about PR impact).

  47. wouldn’t raise very much.

  48. Tom Robinson

    Memories of the rout of unionism for Holyrood 2011 (which I consider was contributed to in a major way by the pre-election Scottish debates) must now turn their dreams to nightmares

    I agree that there is indeed a possibility of Yes winning in September and that the No Campaign is not exactly covering itself in glory, but it’s worthy pointing out that if you look at the regional vote in 2011 it was hardly a ‘rout of unionism’. If you add together the votes of the pro-Independence Parties: SNP (44.04%), Greens (4.38%) and SSP (0.42%), you don’t even get to 50%. If 2011 had been a referendum and everyone voted according to Party policy, Yes would have (just) lost.

  49. Statgeek

    “Curious. Is that not supposed to be the case at all times?”

    Oddly, no.

    The BBC responded to a complaint about Brian Taylor’s “Big Debate” programme that had the (quite “normal”) 3 Unionists and one Independence supporter – ie the usual political party balance – with this statement

    “we are not in an official referendum campaign and therefore do not have to balance it out between yes and no.”

    Hardly surprising then that the study from the University of the West of Scotland team identified a significant bias in news reporting towards the No camp in an analysis of the last year’s reporting..

  50. @neil A – I don’t disagree with you re Laffer. As with my post yesterday, there are always reasons why it works for a 5% cut in tax for the very wealthy, but not a 3% NI rise for median earners, or a 2.5% VAT for poor people, or a jump from 20 – 40% tax for middle earners because the threshold hasn’t been moved, etc, etc.

    We need to face it – the Laffer curve is a philosophical point, of little practical use, that is only ever wheeled out to support tax cuts for the wealthy.

    Once we understand it’s use, we can appreciate the debate a little more.

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