This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 11%. Put alongside the YouGov polls this week that showed Labour leads of two, three, three and ten points this doesn’t really tell us much – it would be in line with a reduced Labour lead of three or four points, or would be in line with not much having changed at all and the lead still being five or six points.

We do however, also have an Opinium poll in the Observer and that had topline figures of CON 29%(-1), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 17%(nc). Changes are from a fortnight ago and obviously don’t show any sgn of Labour’s lead narrowing. Populus’s poll on Friday also had no signs of movement, with topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 10%.

The rest of YouGov’s poll concentrated mainly on Labour, the economy and expectations of what an incoming Labour government would do, along with a grab-bag of questions on other various topics which I’ll leave you to explore yourselves.

32% of people think George Osborne would make the best Chancellor, 23% think Ed Balls would. Osborne maintains a lead of about ten points, the same as YouGov have shown for the last year. It suggests that the recent announcements by Ed Balls really haven’t made much difference to how he personally is seen. You can say the same about George Osborne – his figure on best Chancellor has been at 31-32% since December 2012 now. People may think the economy is getting better, but it doesn’t mean they are warming to Osborne.

There is, however, significantly more confidence in the government as a whole to sort the economy out. 41% of people now say they have confidence in the Cameron led coalition government to steer the country out of economic crisis (up from 29% last March), 52% do not (down from 66% last year). In comparison only 25% say they would have confidence in a Miliband led Labour government.

YouGov also re-asked some questions they first asked back in March 2013 on how well people think Labour would perform if they won the next election, showing people are getting rather more negative about how Labour would perform in government. A year ago 32% thought Labour would take the right decisions to help Britain’s economy, that’s now fallen to 26%. 34% think they’d ensure public services provided good value for money, down 7 from last year. 50% think they wouldn’t have a team of minister up to running the country (up 7), 51% think they wouldn’t avoid mistakes from the past (up 5).

Compared to last year these are significant drops in how well people think people seem to be having more and more doubts about how Labour would perform in government. The drop comes over the period of time that Labour’s lead has fallen from around ten points to around six points. Of course, right now people’s worries about Labour in office are not enough to prevent Labour having a lead in voting intentions. Their worry should be if those negative trends continue.

There were also two Scottish polls in the Sunday papers, which I’ll return to later…


163 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 34, LAB 39, LD 8, UKIP 11”

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  1. COLIN DAVIS

    @”morally unacceptable”

    Well !-thats pretty High Ground up there Colin-careful of the clouds.

  2. @ Colin Davis,

    If UKIP – not the Tories – are the beneficiaries of any drop in the Labour lead or VI (as right now they are – for whatever reasons,) then your statement, “Rightly or wrongly the Government have won the argument on the economy…” has no legs as a premise.

    I’m not sure that follows. It seems pretty clear that Labour are failing to unite the opposition to the Government, which is why so much of it is being sequestered in the Ukip vote.

    There are many possible reasons for that, and I don’t believe myself that the perceived flaws in the Eds’ economic policies are the main driver. But you could certainly make a credible case for it.

  3. Hi Colin

    I agree with what you say above.

    I wasn’t arguing in support of those issues, or even saying they were of great importance. I was merely trying to see what the implications might be of the possible connection AW had detected between a narrowing of the gap (between Labour and the Tories) and a fall in Labour’s ‘trusted to make the right economic decisions’ score.

    My suggestion was that those figures tell us more about UKIP issues, and UKIP leaning people, than they do about the economic argument. They certainly don’t show that the government has ‘won’ the economic argument (whatever ‘winning an argument’ means in political terms.)

    By the way, thanks so much for ‘going the extra mile’ providing those extra QE links in the last thread. It was very appreciated.

  4. STATGEEK

    That’s the default UKPR mode.

    Comfort blankets come in all shapes & sizes.

  5. Spearmint – Peter wrote it on Friday for the Sunday Times, so nowhere! (Though no doubt he had made similar points in the past elsewhere)

  6. COLIN DAVIS

    Your welcome…..

    ………….I don’t agree with your penultimate para by the way.

    But neither of us know what “the public” will think at the GE-so it doesn’t really matter does it ?

  7. Today’s YouGov seems to confirm that the Tories are a up a point or two from the beginning of the month. Also there’s nothing wrong with the churn crossbreaks this time. Bravo YouGov for finally producing a normal looking poll.

    I’ll have the January churn analysis up shortly (whenever Anthony releases it from auto-mod).

  8. Colin Davies

    Amazing post “simply seen as morally unacceptable (me)”. Funny how two, probably both perfectly nice middle class people can be so different. Thats exactly how I feel about Labour. Still lets not go there, its not for this site.

    Why should UKIP get any benefit? I beilieve the Tories will get elected in 2015 because people want a better economic future and whether or not they like the Tories, they believe they will give them one. That is why I thought the detail of todays poll is so significant both in it’s self and in respect of the same questions last year. I believe that in the end, maybe reluctantly they will put the Tories in 2015.

  9. @ Anthony,

    Thanks. I can stop searching, then.

    But I swear that some clever person, possibly one employed by YouGov, made the point about the apparent lack of impact of Labour’s popular 50p tax pledge that for a policy to affect VI, people have to both like the policy and trust the messenger. (I think Michael Howard’s name may have been dropped somewhere in the article.)

    And I thought “Gosh, what a good point, Anthony/Peter/Mysterious Masked Man” and promptly forgot where I’d read it. I dunno, it could have been George Eaton or someone.

  10. To Colin:

    “High ground”? Yes, fair enough. Stick with Carfrew’s (last thread) “brand image problem”!

    To Spearmint:

    I was careful to say TOH’s conclusions might indeed prove to be right when the future reveals itself. If they are then they might be right because Labour fail to galvanise the economic opposition. That’s no problem. But if the Tories aren’t getting the benefit from the ‘Is Labour to be trusted economically?’ polling, then you can hardly get to the premise, “The government have won the economic argument” that TOH needed.

    Nit picking really. Labour are getting an easy ride, and they need to galvanise the economic opposition, but that’s not easy in opposition with a very hostile press breathing in your face. I imagine they are keeping what powder they have as dry as possible for as long as they dare.

  11. @ Colin Davis,

    But if the Tories aren’t getting the benefit from the ‘Is Labour to be trusted economically?’ polling, then you can hardly get to the premise, “The government have won the economic argument” that TOH needed.

    But he doesn’t have to prove it with VI changes. He just has to smack you over the head with the polling on the economic questions.

    “Where the cuts necessary?” Plurality say yes, with the percentage rising over time.

    “Who do you trust more on the economy, Cameron/Osborne or Miliband/Balls?” Advantage Tories, with the numbers steadily improving.

  12. Sure, Spearmint, the Gordian knot can always be cut by the facts as they emerge. Whatever you thought was probable or not probable, such and such actually happened, end of story.

    TOH can bash me on the head as hard as he likes if the public do buy the ‘government has won the economic argument’ story. I’m still at the ‘see what we can induce from the polling’ stage – as are we all – and from the polling we know only that people who thought Labour would make good economic decisions have fallen a bit, and that UKIP took some of the Labour VI over a similar period.

  13. @RogerH

    Disagree with the debates point. One of Cameron’s serious strengths is that he looks* and sounds the part of PM.

    I’m surprised his people are said to be reluctant to have debates this time around, although the rumour is that it’s because they worry that he could get ambushed on left-field points of detail by Ed M.

    *Arguably he could stand to look a few years older, but that’s a detail as his opponents are all also young.

  14. “Labour’s woes coincide with Labour starting to be scrutinised by the media.”

    What a very strange post that was: what woes one wonders and what lack of scrutiny before now?

    Still, all irrelevant opinion – however biased.

  15. It does look increasingly baked in that as the economy improves, the electorate are less keen to consider Labour a safe bet. That is interesting.

  16. This is all pint half empty or half full stuff which gets us nowhere:

    Half empty – Since Labour is behind on the key economic argument, the polls don’t reflect what people will really vote and the Labour lead will in time disappear.

    Half full – The Labour lead is resilient despite being well behind on the economic arguments, and if Labour start to recoup some of the lost ground then the Labour lead can only grow.

    Here’s a radical thought. Why not just to look at how people say they’re going to vote as a guide to how they will vote?

  17. I’m surprised his people are said to be reluctant to have debates this time around, although the rumour is that it’s because they worry that he could get ambushed on left-field points of detail by Ed M.

    -Miliband from Conference speeches works well without an auto-cue as does Clegg perhaps this is the concern.

    That being said I would be very surprised not to see Pre-election debates.

    For those who would like to see Farage involved apart from the Comedy value as there is no danger of UKIP being involved in Government it would seem a bit daft for Him to participate.A better case could be made for Alex Salmond assuming the Better Together side wins the referendum.

    But He would probably be a bit too etterie after a good dichtin.

  18. Phil Haines

    So you don’t like the detail of todays YouGov and you dont think that Labour being perceived as being unlikely to succeed on the economy is of significance. As I said earlier the Tories will hope that Ed M thinks that way too.

  19. I was quite shocked at how many benefit claimants hold the balance of power in enough marginal seats to potentially decide who governs Britain at the next election, I received emails from 3 of the forums I am a member of… each pretty much saying the same thing… that claimants need to register to vote if they have not already, and more importantly… VOTE even if it is by post …

    “There are 5.5 million working age benefits claimants in Britain and many of these are sick or disabled. For example, 3.3 million receive DLA whilst 1.75 million get ESA, with some getting both benefits. A total of just over 5 million get housing benefit.
    If claimants and representative bodies work conspicuously and effectively to get the claimant vote out in marginal seats, the 2015 election could mark a turning point in the way that politicians regard them. Jeers and mockery may turn to the same grudging fear with which pensioners are regarded by many politicians.
    And after the next election, fear of newly assertive claimants might even be sufficient to force whichever party is in power to pass legislation giving disabled people the same protection against prejudice and hatred that members of ethnic minorities have. “ (taken from benefits and work)

    Will there be enough support to take any mass action, I don’t know, what I do know is that many sick and disabled turn to certain forums for help and support if this does spread, then I would not be surprised at all to see this group out in force at the 2015 GE

  20. @Spearmint
    “I could swear a version of that article has been published somewhere else”

    It’s on the main yougov polling page:

    http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/01/27/how-tories-can-win-next-election/

  21. @TOH

    “So you don’t like the detail of todays YouGov and you dont think that Labour being perceived as being unlikely to succeed on the economy is of significance. As I said earlier the Tories will hope that Ed M thinks that way too.”

    That’s a complete misinterpretation of what I wrote. I think that poor perceptions of Labour on economic management are very significant and that they have cost it support, perhaps as much as 5% in VI. My point is that that loss is already factored into current polling. I don’t accept the argument that somehow those current perceptions will affect future polls more than they do current ones. That seems to be an argument made by Conservatives clutching at straws while failing to acknowledge the scale of the electoral hurdle posed by the perception of what their party has come to stand for.

  22. Churn Analysis

    In honour of the late Pete Seeger:

    Where have all the voters gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the voters gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the voters gone?
    They’ve gone to Ukip every one.
    When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

    As we move into the new year, the overwhelming impression is one of stasis. Basically the polls have not moved since last July (which is why that’s where I’m now zeroing my charts). Except for some blips around conference season, everything is flatter than the Somerset Levels:

    You can see this even more clearly on the long-term VI chart:

    Nothing has really changed since Labour stopped declining in May and the Tories recovered form their local election Ukip haemorrhage. It should worry the Tories that they have yet to recover any ground from the Omnishambles Budget, Labour that they have yet to recover any of the voters they lost last spring, and the LDs that they have yet to recover from forming the coalition, but right now it’s polldrums for everyone.

  23. Oh great, I forgot to link in the images. Well, on the plus side the post was spared auto-mod?

    5 poll rolling averages: http://i.imgur.com/qxkpzF1.png

  24. Long-term averages: http://i.imgur.com/HfaiXzn.png

  25. phil

    Its very odd. Its as though people think that VI and opinions on “stuff” and totally independent of each other.

    Presumably there is an assumption that a lot of the Labour VI consists of people who don’t trust Ed Balls but haven’t yet made the connection that he is a senior member of the Labour party.

  26. @JIM (THE OTHER ONE)

    I doubt you can treat benefit claimants as a common group with a single voice. Pensioners at least have something in common – similar age group, retired and all in receipt of the same state pension.

  27. I think the interesting point is how stable the Labour vote is at 39%. This is because the 2010 switchers are staying stuck. Even on the economic indicators, even if Osborne is doing better than Balls, there is still a majority who don’t trust the current govt. We need to remember that to get a majority, the Tories need to poll considerably more than Labour. I still don’t see where those votes are going to come from.

  28. CHORDATA

    @”It’s on the main yougov polling page:”

    That’s not the same subject as toy’s ST article.

    Not the same thing at all.

  29. Last.

  30. The Conservatives

    Although their VI looks bumpy on the YouGov rolling average, it’s more or less steady as she goes:

    http://i.imgur.com/Lyk2eUR.png

    They bump up, they bump down, with no apparent cause for either most of the time. They’ve had a good two weeks but if the pattern holds they’ll probably bump back down again.

    http://i.imgur.com/HEYPZHt.png

    As far as churn is concerned they’re doing slightly better on retention and LD -> Con switchers. Lab/Con flux is also up in both directions. It’s all worth keeping an eye on in case something turns into a real trend, but I don’t expect to see much movement until the budget, if then.

    And meanwhile the election clock ticks steadily down, like that dead guy’s heart in that one Edgar Allan Poe story.

  31. Whether it will prove to be decisive or not, who knows, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Labour have a problem with the economic argument. Actually I think they lost it in the interregnum where the ‘this mess we inherited’ narrative took hold and you have to hand it to the Con and LD (Vince excepted) tendency that the story has been parroted with iron discipline ever since and has entered the public consciousness as an established fact. Whether it has any basis in reality is neither here nor there.
    Until recent weeks it hasn’t mattered all that much because the coalition had also lost the economic argument. Recent developments suggest that they are at least forcing a draw, though whether they can hold out until the final whistle is debatable (‘wrong kind of recovery’ story)

    So what could happen to VI?

    The recovery could peter out – Tories have no chance

    The recovery could continue and strengthen – unless Lab can come up with a convincing counter-story this could be powerful. I think EB’s apparent abandonment of his own arguments (that the cuts were not necessary) is a tactical mistake

    The ‘we’re not actually all in this together’ argument could gain further currency: a sufficient proportion of the country could decide that the Tories are only for the rich

    Whilst the arithmetic is favourable to Lab I certainly believe it behoves no party to be the least bit complacent.

    Except of course in the Tendring landslide which all right-thinking people expect :-)

  32. Labour

    Life is just as dull for the red team, despite last week’s panic and an uncomfortable dip below the 38% line for the first time since Conference. There maaaaay be a slight downward trajectory, which we should keep an eye on, but if so it’s pretty miniscule:

    http://i.imgur.com/wmPicH0.png

    We can see from the churn that the decline is mostly down to Labour retention, which is as bad as its ever been. It’s hard to see in the overall VI because Labour are still being bolstered by the continuing tiny boost to LD -> Lab defectors from Conference season, and also a slight increase in Con -> Lab defections (although that’s been partially offset by a parallel increase in Lab -> Con defections). We’ll see if any of it goes anywhere, though I doubt it. Certainly the 50p tax pledge does not seem to be having a huge impact.

  33. I keep forgetting links.

    Churn: http://i.imgur.com/5lcOCON.png

  34. Liberal Democrats

    Suffice it to say their position has not improved. It also hasn’t got much worse, but then, it’s not clear that it can:

    http://i.imgur.com/4sUh7WZ.png

    Is there a Rennard effect? It’s quite hard to say. They’ve dipped below 9%, but they do that occasionally even without a deluge of sex scandals. Here’s the graph, draw your own conclusions:

    http://i.imgur.com/V7e9CyT.png

    They don’t seem to be doing any worse on retention than they were at the beginning of the month. A few more do seem to be going to the Tories, but I doubt that’s because of the Tories’ fantastic record on women’s issues (although of course they’re doing much better on female representation than the Liberal Democrats, even if half their women MPs are standing down or being deselected).

    http://i.imgur.com/1DwVzBi.png

  35. Ukip

    Last but not least, our little purple friends with the funny views on cloud formation. After an upswing at the beginning of January, they’re back to their usual cruising altitude of around 12%:

    http://i.imgur.com/rksmB2W.png

    The shine doesn’t seem to have worn off for their Labour or Lib Dem defectors, and they’ve been holding steady with the Tories since last summer. There probably won’t be much movement until the lead-up to the European elections:

    http://i.imgur.com/6FaW1cZ.png

  36. @Spearmint

    Thanks for the charts.

    So we are essentially unchanged taking in the larger view.

    Today’s poll questions about Labour can certainly be viewed in two ways:

    1. Labour haven’t convinced well enough they have a plan for the economy to really make a decisive lead.

    or

    2. The Conservatives have, despite getting some plaudits for being seen as more capable on the economy, have failed to turn this into enough folk wanting to vote for them.

    It would appear neither have done enough to get near to match point.

  37. @R&D

    “Its very odd. Its as though people think that VI and opinions on “stuff” and totally independent of each other.”

    What’s most odd is that people think that the opinion of the majority of Con voters has much/anything to do with Labour VI (and vice versa). The relevant figures aren’t the overall opinion of economic competence, but the opinion of actual or potential swing voters.

  38. Finally, Not Voting and Don’t Knows. Except for the weird outlier from Tuesday which is distorting the last five points in the Labour series and should be ignored, everything is holding steady:

    Unscaled: http://i.imgur.com/693yRpQ.png

    Scaled: http://i.imgur.com/zzc9qhQ.png

  39. catmanjeff

    If you read what I think the Tories need to do to turn their position into a win in 2015 (see my original post on this theard) you will see why I don’t think it will be that hard to do.

  40. Colin
    “That’s not the same subject as toy’s ST article.
    Not the same thing at all.”

    The message was the same & it referred to many of the things Spearmint mentioned but you know what, I’ll spend the evening writing out 100 lines

    Must make sure I link to a paywall site instead of another which is carrying much the same message & is by the same author.

    Gove would be so proud.

  41. Guymonde

    “The ‘we’re not actually all in this together’ argument could gain further currency: a sufficient proportion of the country could decide that the Tories are only for the rich”

    I said what the Tories needed to do to counter that in my original posy.

  42. Post!!

    very Freudian slip. LOL

  43. @TOH

    I think that Labour will enter the final lap to the next GE ahead, but the Conservatives have better options to boost the sprint to the line in 2015.

    The economy goes in cycles, and it will probably be running in the Government’s favour. Also, they have more chance to lead/control events and can do politically beneficial things, such as popular budget measures.

    The difficulty for Labour is improving economic credibility is near impossible from the shadow benches. All they can do is talk, words with no action.

    So I see Labour as ahead now, but with fewer chances to improve their position., whereas the Conservatives are somewhat behind with great chances to improve their position.

    Too close call I think.

  44. Nice posies TOH :p

    They can try, and they may succeed, equally their record over this parliament may doom them to be the Nasty Party .
    I’m pretty sceptical that anybody will be convinced by GO’s sudden conversion to the minimum wage.

  45. CHORDATA

    @”The message was the same”

    No-it wasn’t :-

    YouGov article of 27 Jan :-

    “HOW THE TORIES CAN WIN THE NEXT ELECTION”

    Message to DC personally -and I quote the last line :–

    “You like to present yourself as a man of the people. Don’t just say it. Prove it.”

    Today’s Sunday Times :-

    “The Shadow Chancellor’s brainwave may have won some applause from voters but his party seems dangerously unaware that popular policies can ruin election hopes ”

    Message-to all politicians -remember 1975, 1983, 1992, 2000, 2001, & 2005 ( details provided)

    and make sure you pass the four tests ( I set them out in a post upthread)

  46. @ Catmanjeff,

    Agreed. Although both sides’ clear failure to win a mandate conceals a crucial imbalance: the Conservatives have to win over the electorate to remain in power, whereas Labour just have to tread water until polling day. An ABT vote would put Ed Miliband in Number 10 as decisively as a pro-Labour vote (although it may cause problems for his government afterward).

  47. @Spearmint

    I think that unless a clear mandate is won by either main party, we will end up will our parliamentary system looking even more terrible than it does now.

    I fully expect UKIP to win no seats, yet get plenty of votes in 2015. This will just increase their appeal among those not supporting the main parties (an increasing number).

    Another FPTP GE with all power going to a party who can’t get 40% of the vote will make justifying the status quo as ever more difficult.

  48. what astounds me is that few people see labour, millibland or balls as competent yet they are still ahead in the polls.

  49. “The Government needs to refresh the people in charge” line from Gove is a bit of a gift for Labour.

    Just read, casually, that a Ukrainian protester is “being allowed” to leave the country when it occurred how bizarre a statement that is for us in the UK to comprehend.

  50. @GUYMONDE (3.42)

    “Whether it will prove to be decisive or not, who knows, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Labour have a problem with the economic argument. Actually I think they lost it in the interregnum where the ‘this mess we inherited’ narrative took hold and you have to hand it to the Con and LD (Vince excepted) tendency that the story has been parroted with iron discipline ever since and has entered the public consciousness as an established fact. Whether it has any basis in reality is neither here nor there.”

    ————————————————————–

    Totally agree re the narrative, but I would suggest that you omitted one other point and that is, how the narrative has been spread by the media. The media, press or TV, are the main source of info for the majority of voters and if they repeatedly say that Lab are hopeless with the economy then the majority of the voters will eventually believe it.

    About a couple of weeks ago I wrote on this site that the facts actually show that the Lab economic performance between 97 – 08 was significantly better than that of the current government. Even 2 years after the crash, immediately before the 2010 election, growth was better than under this government until the recent set of data this year.

    Then of course we have the myth re the crash. According to the Cons and their friends in the media, the crash was simply due to the Lab government. The bankers are usually conspicuous by their absence and when they are mentioned, the Lab government is blamed for lack of regulation. The fact that the Tories were pressing for even lighter regulation has been conveniently forgotten. IIRC, Vince was the only senior politician warning of the consequences.

    IMO it is critical that Lab start refuting this Lab – economy argument as soon as possible. I had thought that perhaps Lab were keeping their powder dry until nearer the election but I now think that that may be too late.

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