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. @ Catmanjeff,

    Ironically, the one thing that has won a decisive, overwhelming mandate in recent elections is… FPTP, at least in comparison to AV.

    @ Peter Bell,

    I think it’s really difficult. Obama can’t win that argument, and he’s a much better communicator than anyone on the Labour frontbench and he wasn’t in government when the recession hit. And because the Lib Dems have completely reversed their position (the Tories have reversed their position on spending too, of course, but in their defence they never actually believed what they were saying in opposition), Labour look as though they’re making a partisan defence of their own poor record, rather than making a mainstream economic argument that has the support of the majority of the political establishment (which is what their position actually is, if we believe what the Lib Dems were saying from 1988 – 2010 and will probably be saying again after 2015).

    It’s not ideal, but it’s not crippling. Labour don’t have to be ahead on the economy to win. Tony Blair wasn’t.

  2. I think opposition parties are always at a disadvantage when it comes to economic questions in polls – they have no track record to be judged on.

    So, when we have a situation where the economy looks a bit better than it did a year or so ago, then the voters can think “well they must be doing something right – it’s getting better”. Whereas, if an opposition says “we would have got our economy working stronger, earlier”.. it’s just pure speculation.

    When Gordon Brown was in charge he was frequently seen as more competent in economics than the opposition – simply because he was the incumbent Chancellor.

    Either way, I think a few people are placing too much emphasis on the economic questions in polls – it’s a bit like clutching at straws.

  3. A lot today on the economy, but the improvement is a matter of numbers right now, not well-lined stomachs and well-warm houses, with a nice car thrown in. A recovery which most people aren’t feeling is like two guys standing side by side, one with a billion quid and another without two pence to rub together, and the billionaire saying, “We’re getting rich!”

    I do agree with P Bell and Guymonde, but I don’t think the polling – Labour not convincing a significant number, but UKIP getting the reward – is ‘last chance saloon’ style polling for Labour. The ‘pups’ got it right somewhere above I think: the Tories have switched their attack from ‘Ed M is rubbish’ to ‘Ed B is rubbish’. But 38 per cent are standing by Ed M.

    The ‘Labour left us in a mess in 2010’ line is refuted by the the facts, afir enough, and it should never have been allowed to become a mantra. But refuting it, and refuting it, over and over, does the mantra-maker’s work for him. Dismiss it whenever it’s raised in public debate as unintelligent, and – if pushed – remind the voters at the same time that in 2008 and 2009, before the PR men got to work on them, they all knew perfectly well where the blame lay. Otherwise counter the ‘Ed B is rubbish’ line in exactly the same way as they countered the ‘Ed M is rubbish’ line, by keeping their nerve and waiting for their moment.

    Personally I don’t think any more of Labour’s 38% are going to UKIP, or that the Tories can take much back from UKIP. I think it’s an assumption of mammoth proportions if the Tories reckon they will so improve the lot of the Don’t Knows that they will turn their own 32% average into a 38 to 40% one – but crystal balls we don’t have and they will do their best.

  4. Colin Davis

    I look forward to saying I told you so in 2015 assuming the economy continues to improve and the Tories the sort of agenda I suggested in my original post. All the posts from the left today have been very defensive, but then why would’nt they be? I think it’s Labour clutching at straws with a small poll lead.

  5. Hi TOH,

    I’m not being defensive. On the polling evidence presented, I don’t think Labour should worry at all; and who would worry about a constant 38 per cent in the current conditions. I say a ‘winning’ percentage, you say a ‘small’ one: “We call the chessboard black, we call it white.”

    Making sure you have dotted all your ‘i’s and crossed your ‘t’s, i.e.left zilch to chance, is another matter, of course, and even then outcomes can hole you below the waterline. I am sure everyone on this forum will be gracious, howsoever the cookie crumbles, and I sincerely hope that, whichever way the dice fall, the vulnerable will not be unnecessarily disadvantaged as from 2015.

  6. @ Colin Davis,

    I am sure everyone on this forum will be gracious, howsoever the cookie crumbles

    Now I’m starting to have doubts about your other predictions. :p

  7. Yikes!

    How the hell can I answer that without seeming ungracious to TOH or po-faced to you? I have to go – you’ve even got my dog barking.

  8. The Tories are always seen as being more competent with the economy (with the possible exception of post-Black Wednesday) regardless of whether or not it’s deserved. The most Labour can hope for is to keep close enough for it not to matter. The Tories have the same problem with the NHS where Labour are invariable seen as most competent.

  9. For Labour to win the election, they should be polling at least 10 points consistently with a year to go. The best they can hope for is a coalition with the LibDems. Assuming the economy continues to improve, there is a good chance of the Tories winning it. Libdems will recover a little (to about 14%) some UKIP voters (who are ex Tory) will return to tactically keep Labour out. I think when it comes to the ballet box, there is not so much a fear of Ed Milliband, but certainly what Ed Balls could do to the economy.

  10. David

    Ermmm-why?

  11. “For Labour to win the election, they should be polling at least 10 points consistently with a year to go.”

    Thanks for that [and all the rest…..]

    I take it that is based on the little book of “What lead do oppositions need when faced with a coalition government?”

    The point of such posts really eludes me as they add absolutely nothing to my understanding of recent polls.

    And a “ballet” box is for …. well…. ballet I suppose, not for votes.

  12. More wishful think, I suspect. There’s no law that you have to be X% ahead at any stage. Oppositions can gain support in the final year just as they can lose it.

  13. ing

  14. IANANTHONYJAMES
    [From previous thread before today’s 2 pieces but only just read your reply!…..(realise this is probably bad board etiquette…)]
    “So I implore you: respect the polling, respect the bookmakers.”
    I did check out the bookies and £37 staked just now gets me a £100 profit (11/4) if the Tories win. It surprised me that you can get nearly double the payout on the blues winning over labour so I put my money where my mouth is! Good idea of yours looking at the bookmakers as well as the polls so I will watch with interest if the 11-4 now turns out to be a good price or a bad going forward!

  15. @Colin / TOH

    For what it’s worth, there’s nothing to suggest that Labour won’t win the election based on current polling, and there’s nothing to suggest that polling won’t change to favour the Conservatives.

    All wishful thinking methinks.

    BTW, Con on 34% average over five polls, and 33% or higher on any of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 poll averages, so not sure where the 32% comes from.

    Current five poll average shows 4.6% Lab lead. Well within the expected 6% average MoE.

    MAD averages have Con at 32.9%, Lab 38.8% (5.9% lead), Lib on 9.0% and UKIP on 12.2%.

    Median values over 30 polls of con, lab and difference, with % of electorate (can be fairly telling):

    UK: C 33.0%, L39.0%, D6.0% (100%)
    Lon: C 34.0%, L40.0%, D6.0% (12.8%)
    RoS: C 41.0%, L28.0%, D13.0% (32.5%)
    Mid: C 34.0%, L40.0%, D6.0% (21.4%)
    Nor: C 27.0%, L50.0%, D23.0% (24.6%)
    Sco: C 22.0%, L39.0%, D17.0% (8.7%)

    One thing I noticed this week, that despite fluctuating polls, the approval ratings were largely static (the last four at -21 and the fifth at -23). Looking at the May’10 to Jan’14 approval, we can see that the ratings are approaching pre-2012 budget levels, when the Lab lead was generally less than 5%.

    Looking ahead to 2015, if the upward trend of approval ratings continues, and assuming there are no massive ups or downs, we’ll be looking at approval ratings of around -12 or so. This takes us back to Nov’10, when the polls were at Con 40%, Lab 40%.

    http://www.statgeek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/app-10-14-pred.png

    Here’s hoping we have a good neck in neck election. :))

  16. In a flap
    Read what Robin wrote earlier. You are confusing the electorate as a whole with labour voters. *Labour* voters reply the exact opposite to the questions AW was referred to in his piece, except on one issue ‘leading in a crisis’ which is par for the course for a newbie.

    It’s what Labour voters think that is important to its VI.

  17. I have a question for those saying that the Conservatives are either likely or have a good chance of winning in 2015. Could they tell us what seats they are going to win which they didn’t in the very favourable circumstances of 2010?

  18. @AKMD,

    I think there are very few people saying that (maybe The Other Howard, and the occasional flyby).

    What most of the ROC commenters are saying is that a Labour majority is not remotely guaranteed and that the Tories could yet come first in vote share, and possibly even seat count.

    Neither of those requires them to win seats that they didn’t in 2015. But since you’ve asked, there is a good chance they will pick up a few LD held seats. Possibly a couple of Scottish seats (depending on the post-referendum fallout). I think most of us can agree that Con gains from Lab will virtually non-existent (there might be the odd one where local personalities or issues, or significant demographic change, throw up an unexpected win).

  19. I’m enjoying the questions in the Yougov poll.

    “Who do you think is most to blame for the flooding in Somerset?”

    Sinners, obviously.

  20. Also, it’s fascinating to see how much people’s willingness to intervene in the case of a person being attacked by “a group of youths” depends on things like the age and gender of that person, rather than the nature of the “group of youths”.

  21. “…there is a good chance they will pick up a few LD held seats.”

    I’d probably leave out the ‘good’ as I think it’s in the LibDem/Tory seats that the LibDem vote is most likely to hold up.

  22. “When you meet a member of the opposite sex, do you think about what they would be like to make love to?”

    “If you met Jon Snow, would you think about him this way?”

    Do Yougov do telephone polls? And do they pay their workers extra when they do questions like this?

  23. I saw a chap from the Electoral Commission on (I think) Sunday Politics saying that there is a possibility of having to present id when voting, individual registration, and something about postal votes as well at the next GE.

    Without being partisan, I believe that most of the recent cases of electoral fraud were in Labour seats. If these fraud prevention measures work, does anyone think it will affect the result in many seats at the next GE?

    My guess is that the actual result, as opposed to the size of the majority, would only be affected in a handful of seats.

  24. “When you meet a member of the opposite sex, do you think about what they would be like to make love to?”

    Anti-Gay or wot?

  25. “I saw a chap from the Electoral Commission on (I think) Sunday Politics saying that there is a possibility of having to present id when voting, individual registration, and something about postal votes as well at the next GE.”

    Missed it.

    Sounds like a foolproof way of driving down turnout to me, and probably bad for Labour

  26. @ BILL PATRICK

    The Jon Snow question made me cackle! Thanks for pointing to it (I didn’t really believe it could be true until I checked it out.

    Jon – you have a slightly better chance with teenage Scottish Lib Dems. But not much even with them.

  27. Thanks for those replies chaps. If it drives down turnout, that’s just unfortunate. Using reductio ad absurdum, is it better to have one valid vote, or one valid vote and 999 fraudulent ones?

    As the Telegraph article says, most of these cases are in areas where there are high concentrations of people of Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin. These tend to be Labour seats anyway which is why I don’t think many results will be affected. However if steps aren’t taken to clamp down, the practice will spread, and that would eventually be disastrous for democracy.

  28. As the Telegraph also pointed out, most of the alleged fraud involved postal ballots so requiring ID would make no difference.

  29. Statgeek –

    “Current five poll average shows 4.6% Lab lead. Well within the expected 6% average MoE.”

    Out of interest what would the MoE be for the lead on an average of 5 polls?

  30. Statgeek

    Thanks for the stats.

    Frankly I am not sure how piling up votes in the ROS where the Conservatives are well in the lead is a GE election winning formula it doesn’t really make any difference if you win a seat with a 55% or 60% share of the vote it’s still not a gain.

    By entering into an out Kip the Kippers contest the Conservatives IMO are falling into the trap of targeting their core vote only and it’s not enough to win.

  31. “Current five poll average shows 4.6% Lab lead. Well within the expected 6% average MoE.”

    The MoE refers to single poll results. If you have a series of repeat polls it reduces the margin on error accordingly. If you take an average of a series of polls, it’s a pretty good indication of what the real margin is. Labour is ahead in the polls – at a consistent level that’s been more or less the same for the last 6 months. Beyond this, they haven’t been behind in any poll for two years and the evidence of a significant change between now and the next election is pure speculation.

  32. @Steve

    A bit like the trouble the Republicans seem to have got themselves into in the USA?

  33. @ Rory Hughes

    Whilst it is true that any conclusions about what will happen at the next election is pure speculation at this point, you surely have to agree that Labour’s ‘lead’ is fragile. They have a leader who is not well liked; they have a Shadow Chancellor trusted by few; their consistent lead over the fast months has been at the expense of a very unpopular government. Were that popularity rating to change as the economy picks up (something which is not yet a done deal, but seems to be more likely than not) then some, at least, will switch away from Labour.
    Unless, of course, Steve is right in suggesting that the Tories have no chance of expanding their appeal given the war against UKIP and internal dissention over Europe.
    Is there now a fundamental north-south split in England which makes it impossible for the Tories to win an outright majority?

  34. @John B

    When the NHS is mentioned then Labour will ALWAYS be thought of as the more trustworthy. Come election time there will be plenty of nurses and doctors highlighting the problems that have grown under the Tories since 2010.

    That will stick in the minds of many.

  35. @MDAVIS

    Point taken.
    Do you think the same will apply to education?
    It isn’t easy to judge from north of the Border, as both of these are devolved matters.

    Apologies for late reply – computer glitch

  36. John B
    I know this is like a cracked record but the dissatisfaction you mention is not prevalent among Labour voters. That is where it matters in respect of the chance of a movement from Lab to Con (see YG ST poll tables). The LD deserters deserted because they did not approve of the rightward trend of the coalition. They could return to LD but that would seem very unlikely to me, unless a bust-up, not transparently contrived, could occur. T

    The only chance Con has of a substantial lift is a swing back from UKIP to Con.

    That of course could happen but a scenario has to be imagined where Con could satisfy UKIP voters that it will definitely try to kick out immigrants and leave the EU. Perhaps more than ‘try’ will be needed to convince them – and then what are the consequences of that (see 2001 and 2005 GE result)?

  37. With state schools supposed to be getting like private I assume Gove is working towards class sizes under twenty.

  38. Tim Yeo has not been re-adopted to stand as Con candidate for South Suffolk constituency.

  39. @ Chordata

    I was your post on the other thread and responded there.

    Re: Tim Yeo – Any idea why?

    And has anyone any news on Wythenshawe and Sale East?

  40. @ Chordata

    I saw your post on the other thread and responded there.

    Re: Tim Yeo – Any idea why?

    And has anyone any news on Wythenshawe and Sale East?

  41. R and D
    Don’t forget the intensive training on that all-important use of English in speech and script that opens many doors.

    Even Margaret Thatcher had to try and catch up on that one.

  42. @ Howard

    If what you say is true – and you seem to have good grounds for what you say – is it possible that the Tories will engineer a coup against DC in order to win back the UKIP voters? And who might replace DC in any case? Given the present seeming unlikelihood of the Tories winning the next GE how do you see DC’s future?
    And does it matter?

    Given all that, however, are you convinced that Labour can win an outright majority?

  43. @ John B,

    is it possible that the Tories will engineer a coup against DC in order to win back the UKIP voters? And who might replace DC in any case?

    Current ConHome polling shows the following leadership contenders: http://www1.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2014/02/03/theres-a-strong-chance-that-there-could-be-a-tory-leadership-contest-within-the-next-year-and-a-quarter/

    But the Tory Eurosceptics would have to be even madder than I think they are to try and oust Cameron before the election. There’s no obvious replacement, he polls better than the party, and ousting their own Prime Minister after only four years would make the whole party look demented. Plus, much like Labour with the 1992 polling, the Tories have lingering PTSD from 1990. I don’t think they’re going to try to unseat a sitting Prime Minister again unless they have no other choice.

  44. JohnB

    It’s been a drawn out process that was eventually put to a vote by his local association. The BBC has some background:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26015369

    No idea what’s happening with W&SE.

  45. @ Spearmint

    Thanks for your input on Tory leadership.
    Sometimes I wonder whether there are (several?) parallel universes running alongside each other. How does anyone think these lunatics are going to communicate with the wider electorate?

    It’s as I said earlier (maybe on the other thread): the parallel between (English) Tories and the US Republicans is uncanny.

  46. Re. Tim Yeo, I believe he’s been deselected for some combination of believing in climate change, corruption, and not being a diligent enough constituency MP. (Which factor weighed most highly in the minds of his local association is a matter of debate.)

  47. “How does anyone think these lunatics are going to communicate with the wider electorate?”

    ———-

    Well, do they need to? As long as LibDems are prepared to roll over and back Tory policy anyway?That would be an irony, if Labour, having seen an end to the split in the left, still lose out because of coalitions on the right.

  48. @ John B,

    Well, there are different factions… Douglas Carswell has just come out saying everyone needs to calm down and stop trolling Cameron so they can concentrate on winning the election as a united party. He probably speaks for the biggest (but quietest) group of Eurosceptics.

    Then there is the Bernard Jenkin faction, who as far as I can tell know they’re scuppering Tory election prospects but don’t care because a) their own seats are safe, b) they think Cameron is incompetent and want to be rid of him/believe he’s doomed regardless and c) they’re more interested in complaining about the EU than actually leaving it.

    And then there’s the Peter Bone faction, who are mad. (Or more precisely, who share the Bennite/Tea Party view that they speak for the majority despite all polling and electoral evidence, and who therefore believe their party’s route to victory involves embracing the purity of extremism.)

  49. “And then there’s the Peter Bone faction, who are mad.”

    You can’t pit it more succinctly or fairly than that Missis Minty.

    Shouldn’t a faction be “is” ?

    Its one of those group names that sounds wrong that way but also theoretically wrong the other way.

    Maybe Mr Bone will know.

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