The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is up here. Topline voting intentions are CON 35%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 10% – a four point Labour lead.

On the regular leader questions both Cameron and Miliband are doing comparatively well – 41% think David Cameron is doing well as PM, 52% badly, a net figure of minus 11. This equals his best leader rating since the omnishambles budget in 2012 (the only other time he’s got this high was just after the Tory conference last year). Ed Miliband’s net score is minus 28, also up on recent weeks and his best score since last November.

The rest of the poll was a grab bag of various issues:

  • On education only 20% of people think Michael Gove is doing well in his job, 57% think he’s doing badly. Asked about his attitude towards the educational establishment and trade unions only 19% think that he’s right to take a confrontational stance, 46% think the government would be better off listening more to their concerns.
  • A large majority (72%) of people think it is unacceptable for political parties to appoint their own supporters to such roles, but people see the last Labour government as just as guilty of this as the current government – 19% think Labour did it more, 17% think the Coalition have done it more, 48% think they’ve been as bad as each other.
  • 25% of people say they support the underground strike, 40% are opposed, 35% say neither or don’t know. Amongst respondents in London views are not really any more polarised – 28% support the strike, 43% are opposed. Blame for the dispute is almost evenly divided between Transport for London and the RMT.
  • 25% of people think David Cameron has responded well to the floods, 62% badly. Attitudes to spending on flood defences appear to have do shifted substantially – a week ago people were pretty evenly divided over whether the government should spend more or not. Following another week of flooding news, people are now 49% to 26% in favour of more spending.
  • The idea of a 5p charge on plastic bags in supermarkets and stores is widely supported, with 65% in favour, 27% opposed.

Also in today’s Sunday Times is a new Panelbase Scottish poll. Given the narrowing in TNS-BMRB and ICM polls lately I was intrigued as to what the next Panelbase poll would show – for reasons that remain unclear Panelbase tend to show a closer race than other companies. In the event their poll actually shows the gap widening slightly (albeit, nothing that couldn’t be normal sample variation) – YES stands at 37% (down 1), NO at 49% (up 2).

411 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 35, LAB 39, LD 10, UKIP 10”

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  1. CHRIS

    Yes-I am afraid you are right about that.

  2. RE: Flooding.

    I think the government has made a serious error in trying to pass the blame onto the environment agency – its looks very shabby and is likely to backfire as the EA is likely to make noise about funding cuts etc.

    They would have been better sticking to the entirely reasonable argument that this is an unprecedented event that no-one could have planned for – and focused instead on the emergency response.

    Probably wont have much long term impact on VI – but if it does its unlikely to be positive.

  3. Insular Metropolitan Political Elite Pt 473
    Lovely example on Daily Politics today. London-based anchor asks Evening Standard correspondent whether UKIP have a chance of taking votes off Lab in Northern Constituencies.
    What next? Sheffield Star real estate correspondent being asked for an opinion on the sea wall at Dawlish?

    Predictably, the ES correspondent didn’t have a clue.

  4. The narrative on “Flooding Blame” seems to be shifting to “The Rational Grownups are going to take this political football away before someone hurts themselves”. Unfortunately anyone who was playing with this political football will not be seen as one of the grownups.

  5. The BBC have released their immigration article:

    h ttp://

    With the sub-headline:

    “People in Scotland are less likely to want to reduce immigration than those in England and Wales, a new study says.”

    However if you take the ‘increase immigration’ data, it’s 10% in Scotland, compared to 8% elsewhere. Or in other words, 90% against or DK in Scotland to 92% elsewhere.

    No datasheet, but here’s the report:

    What the Beeb didn’t cover was the sub-sample of preferences (page 5 of the report). Scots want ‘increase a lot’ less than England & Wales.

    It boils down to 75% or more in Scotland want no change, or less immigration, and 80% or more elsewhere. Strange that the BBC have painted it as a ‘Scotland want immigrants more than England & Wales’.

    Bad, bad, bad!

  6. “The narrative on “Flooding Blame” seems to be shifting”

    It seems so but the Beeb has been dutifully echoing the smears against the Environment Agency for days in a very one-sided onslaught. Frontline EA staff who have worked their socks off must feel very annoyed. I doubt whether VI will be affected much by the blame game – provided it stops pronto.

  7. “Shaking off the yoke of oppression”

    This is a silly exaggeration of the relevance of a rugger match.

    Besides which I understand the English lads were ordered to keep their score down to twenty – which they very precisely did – and try their absolute best to allow the Scots to score at least a penalty by giving away deliberate fouls under the posts, pretending to fall over in the Scotch mud etc etc.

    It is not fair to call that “oppression” or blame us for the Scots being rubbish.

  8. No populus?

  9. Oh dear, Tories at war over floods and LDs at war over Rennard.

    Amazing stuff.

  10. How can there be any argument about a ban on smoking in cars when people have been fined for eating whilst driving???

  11. New Populus Online poll:

    Lab 36 (nc)
    Cons 34 (+1)
    LD 11 (+2)
    UKIP 12 (-3)
    Oth 8 (+1)

  12. It appears Populus have gone in a week from consistently posting the largest leads to consistently posting the smallest.

  13. Hm. The odd recalled past vote that people commented on last week (and which I urged people to wait a bit and see if it was a one off) does not appear to have gone away…

  14. Well, in a few months we’ll have the European elections to test whether their methodology is as dodgy as it appears to be.

  15. Re Populus: As requested previously…..

    If you add 1 to Labour VI and subtract 1 from Tory VI you get “the real figures”. Although the impact from weighting varies from poll to poll so differences between this and the old methodology would not necessarily be the same in this poll as in the one on the 7th Feb.

  16. @ Anthony,

    Not only is their original sample not fantastically well balanced, but they appear to have weighed it to have more Lib Dems voters than Labour in 2010:

    Weighted base, 2010 vote:

    Con: 517
    Lab: 362
    LD: 382

    Um… that’s not how I remember that election result. Especially if we take into account false recall and the Lib Dems’ current popularity.

  17. I think we’ve had about 8 polls now where the Labour lead has been equal to or less than 7% which is the current UKPR polling average figure.

  18. As a point of interest, here’s what the weighed subsample sizes would be in a perfect world in which a pollster managed to get them to align perfectly with the 2010 election result and there was no false recall. (I appreciate that the other demographics that the samples must be weighed for might make this an unattainable ideal even for a competent pollster):

    Con: 515
    Lab: 418
    LD: 328

    So… um, the Con sample looks pretty good?

  19. Blimey, someone in the Cabinet has just properly put the boot into poor old Paterson if the Mail is to be believed.

    I’m not sure I give it much credence (it *is* the Mail, after all), but it gives more weight to the idea that the Cabinet is having a bit of a panic fit.

  20. I know nothing about floods & do not pretend to be an expert on these matters.

    The “blame game” & Tory infighting intensified greatly once Pickles took over. Does Cameron now regret putting him in charge?
    One result of Pickles’s Populism is that EA staff now feel free to whistleblow to the Guardian etc. They point out frontline staff have been cut.

    In 2012/13 the EA spent 53% of its reduced budget on floods & 35% on improving the environment.
    EA’s staff have been by a quarter since 2010.

    [Snip – AW]

  21. @Chris Riley

    “I’m not sure I give it much credence (it *is* the Mail, after all), but it gives more weight to the idea that the Cabinet is having a bit of a panic fit.”

    The name of the game now is how the authorities manage the emergency and this will require the effective co-ordination of a multiplicity of services, all needing to co-operate and support each other. An organisational challenge in its own right, but the key is teamwork, morale and togetherness. No sniping, no blaming; a total shared responsibility and concerted effort. When all this is in place, it’s amazing what can be done.


  22. Is panic fit the right expression? Sounds more to me that there are “two schools of thought” (basically, pro- and anti-dredging, although I expect those are the battle standards of a deeper divide) and that the champions of each are slugging it out.

    From his comments on R4 this morning, the PM is having none of it and is sending out the “work together and get the job done, we can discuss this later” message as strongly as he can. Pickles seemed exceptionally indiscreet, even for him (I suppose Pickle-fanciers would call it “gruff and plain spoken”) in that interview. I don’t suppose it will have helped his career. But Cameron probably can’t move him for fear of exactly the accusations of infighting that he’s trying to move past.

    All very sad, because (funding issues to one side, perhaps) this really isn’t about party politics at all. It’s just thrashing around in the early stages of coming to grips with climate change. There was an interesting snippet from a Professor Ashley on R4 who apparently provided a report about 10 years ago suggesting wide ranging changes to lifestyles in flood-prone areas, which was comprehensively ignored on all sides. His message (which is what’s been on my mind too) was “don’t think you can prevent these floods, we can’t afford to build our way out of them. We need to adapt to them”. Even to the extent of relocating whole communities if necessary, and permamently flooding farmland to create lakes, (both of which they’ve apparently recently done in the Netherlands, where Prof Ashley also works).

  23. There has been a rather civilised and enlightening conversation about flood measures here over the last couple of days… can we keep on avoiding making it into a “rah, rah, government rubbish/ government brilliant” tyre discussion

  24. @Neil A

    Agree wholeheartedly.

    I hope this whole unseemly political gameplaying ends with people finally accepting that the climate is changing and it’s not just going to be other countries who have to cope with it in the distant future – it is happening now, and it’s happening here and we have to deal with it.

  25. Does the two odd samples in a row for Populus represent a systemic problem, or just pure chance?

  26. Anthony

    Wasn’t that a bit severe of you to flood the South of England, to make people follow your commandments?

    What if that doesn’t work? Slaughter the first born?

  27. @Oldnat

    If you stretch the Bible a bit and take the ‘floods’ part as the important bit and not the ‘blood’, then if we persist in ignoring Anthony, then he unleashes a plague of frogs next.

  28. @Chris,

    What slightly amuses me (if that’s not inappropriate) is the expectation that Somerset farmers and their local Tory MPs are probably exactly the type of people who don’t believe in that whole “climate change” malarkey.

  29. @Spearmint

    That’s actually a slight improvement on Populus’s first attempt. The Con-Lab gap of 13% in the first is down to 11% in this. But that’s still some way over the gap of 7% at the GE.

  30. Roger Mexico,

    You seem to assume that those who feel more Scottish that British would vote for independence if they were voting on emotional grounds. That’s certainly not true of all of them- I feel more Scottish than British, but I’m not currently planning on voting “Yes”.

    That only 23% of Scots don’t feel British would actually seem like more of a problem for the nationalists, and go some way to explaining why they have wisely (a) stuck to economic issues rather than flag-waving and (b) emphasised that what they’re proposing to break up is the UK, and that Britishness would continue, in order to neuter “The End of Britain” emotional appeals from the unionists.

  31. It’s funny how a while ago we had polls all showing a fairly consistent story (Labour averaging 38, the Tories in the low 30s) and now the polls are still telling that story in aggregate, but with wild instability.

    The Labour lead is anywhere from 9-10% to 1-2%, depending on the poll. I don’t remember seeing this sort of instability since polls became very frequent.

  32. “Is panic fit the right expression? Sounds more to me that there are “two schools of thought” (basically, pro- and anti-dredging, although I expect those are the battle standards of a deeper divide)…..”

    Now, is this divide deeper before or after, err – dredging?

  33. Labour would have a majority of 10 on that Populus poll (using the UKPR swingometer) which would both be an achievement after 2010 and a problem because it would empower backbenchers and small parties at a time of austerity.

  34. My one and only flood pun: does this mean that we’ll see more Wets and fewer Drys out of the Home Counties?

  35. The main change seems to be that the UKIP floodwaters are receding a little and revealing a bit more of the Tory dry land – which I think most of us expected to happen, but possibly not just yet.

    The Euros will be interesting. I think a Tory 3rd place is pretty much priced in. Labour and UKIP will want to do some last-minute expectation management if it starts to look like the Tories might manage a decent second place. Or alternatively, it might be the extra storm front that UKIP need to drench the Tories again.

  36. @Alec,

    Interesting question, can we afford to dredge Eric Pickles? I’m not sure the EA has the technical expertise or the manpower.

  37. Bill Patrick

    Roger [foot]notes that most Scots are not voting largely on emotional grounds.

    Like you (and many in the SNP) there is a British dimension to my identity too, but I’m not currently planning on voting “No”.

    I’m sure that there are people on both sides who will vote on purely identity issues, but I doubt that the numbers are that significant.

  38. @Chris

    The frogs will enjoy the floods at least. I’m waiting for the plague of boils, so we can go with Daisie’s idea of boiling the water.


    I don’t suppose your eminent contacts stretch to getting some raw data on that BBC article on immigration?

  39. @ Neil A,

    Wasn’t the plan to use Mr. Pickles as a flood barrier?

  40. Statgeek

    The Tables for the YG/BBC poll are here

    Quite why a poll conducted in October isn’t released until February, suggests the Beeb took some time to do the counting.

  41. Oldnat,

    I don’t deny any of that.

  42. Populus’ last three polls.

    32.00% 41.00% 11.00% 9.00% 7.00%
    33.00% 36.00% 9.00% 15.00% 7.00%
    34.00% 36.00% 11.00% 12.00% 8.00%

    Is this a change, an erratic fluctuation, or just Populus’ new method? We need to see what the other polls say, but we shouldn’t be fooled by the -3% for UKIP. Since the new method has been instituted there’s been a modest redistribution Labour to Conservative, and a larger one from Labour to UKIP. That can’t be down to the ‘improving economy’ (be that true or false,) whatever else.

    If YG bears Populus out, then well and good. But if YG doesn’t do that, whilst I know AW is adamant that wishful thinking on the pollster’s part is a non-runner, I would nonetheless suspect some subconscious wishful thinking is in the mix there somewhere – if only reflected in their choice of the weighting system. The pollster does seem to be saying, “Our previous results just can’t be right.”.

  43. Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, located in the Olympus Range on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 80 km southwest from Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks.

    Elevation: 2,917 m

    First ascent: September 22, 1890

    Prominence: 2,355 m

    Mountain range: Olympus Range

    First ascender: David Cameron

    It’s quite a hike just to give a speech.

  44. Interesting that this historical YG poll shows a pre White Paper VI of Yes 33% : No 52% DK 15% (or Y 39% N 61% excluding DKs) which from memory is a bit higher than a number of polls around then, but puts it around the 40/60 distribution in the current polling average.

  45. The BBC web article on the immigration survey is quite interesting. While immigration is less of an issue than in England, as would be expected, I am surprised it is still quite high up the list, in 4th place in terms of most important. 45% of Scots thought an independent Scotland should be less welcoming to immigrants against 14% who thought it should be more welcoming. Pensions were the 7th most important issue.

    I would imagine that this would be potentially helpful to the BT campaign, if they chose to run with it.

    I need to be careful here to avoid the snip, but most of the experts on pensions and demographics were highly scathing of the SNP’s claims on future pensions. While they tended to avoid claims of affordability, which is largely down to a matter of choices and priorities, the consensus view was that SNP ministers claims that Scotland had more favourable demographics and pensions were therefore likely to be cheaper were completely discredited.

    One leading professor of population studies at Strathclyde Uni described the SNP analysis as ‘shocking’.

    In itself, this doesn’t mean that Scotland couldn’t offer more generous pensions, but the projections are very clear in that the actual numbers in each age cohort from 0-65 are expected to fall in the next 50 years in Scotland, while the number of pensioners is expected to increase by 80%. All of Scotland’s relatively modest projected population growth comes from increased pension age citizens, with a shrinking work force to cover the costs.

    One sentiment oft repeated on various forums, but not (I think) widely proclaimed by the SNP, is that an independent Scotland would have an independent immigration policy, so pensions would be affordable.

    That’s perfectly logical, and doesn’t present any economic contradictions, but given that 45% of Scots apparently want less immigration, this looks like being an issue where economic need runs into public opinion.

  46. I think it was Phil who first picked up on the bizarre figures that Populus were producing for their recalled vote[1], but it’s worth pointing out that it’s not a new problem. We were all so fixed on the ridiculous method they had of weighting by political id with the consequent massive downgrading of UKIP[2], that we missed the fact that they already were producing distorted recalled vote figures.

    If you look at the proportions of the recalled three Party vote (RTPV)[3] that Populus produced in the last five polls before the latest methodological change, they were C 39.4%, L 30.9%, LD 29.7%. This compares with the actual RTPV percentage in Britain of C 40.9%, L 32.9%, LD 26.2%, so there was already an apparent bias in the sample without considering the usual problems of recalled vote. Looking at individual polls the percentages only varied by a point or so (allowing for rounding) around the total figures, so the bias was clearly systematic and appeared to boost the Lib Dem figures at the expense of Labour and to a lesser extent the Conservatives.

    These are the weighted figures before adjustment for likelihood to vote, so the difference can’t be due to Labour voters being less likely to vote.

    In the two polls since Populus changed their targets, the RTPVs have been C 43.7%, L 28.5%, LD 27.7% and C 39.6%, L 28.7%, LD 31.7%. If anything the pro-LD bias in the samples seems higher and the anti-Labour one even worse than before. There may also be an increase in inconsistency as well though we’d need more polls to see if that was true.

    It’s worth remembering that when normally adjustments are made for faulty recall, for example by ICM:

    pollsters tend to alter the targets towards recent polling. So you should expect more Labour and fewer Lib Dem recalled votes in a sample not the other way round.

    [1] I don’t know if Populus’s figures are based on information that people give on joining their panel (as with YouGov) or whether they ask for recalled vote each time. Possibly it is their Q3, the results of which don’t appear in the tables. In either case there must be a considerable gap between voting and recall as they didn’t start up their panel till after the 2010 General Election.

    [2] Which is still going on to some extent. All they have actually done is to alter their targets for id from a public (if unsuitable) one from the BSA to a private adjusted one.

    [3] That is the percentage of the total votes recalled for Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem which each of those Parties had. Because there is no way of finding out which of the remaining recalled votes in the sample were for other Parties or various types of non-voters, this is the best way available of assessing accuracy.

  47. ON

    “Roger [foot]notes that most Scots are not voting largely on emotional grounds.”

    How does he know that? In fact how can the voters themselves be certain? Emotions are tricky thinks to fathom.

  48. spearmint

    @ Neil A,

    Wasn’t the plan to use Mr. Pickles as a flood barrier

    Considering around 80% of the posters on here are of Labour persuasion I don’t expect anyone to pull you up for that comment.

    Extremely immature and I have you know that Mr Pickles up until recently was a Chippendale.

  49. Rennard chooses this precise moment to pursue his self-interested crusade,the electorate if they notice, will surely despise such determined obsession.
    Maybe ,observing the Tory chubster, Pickles and the (ex) Labour chubster Smith dominating the airwaves Rennard felt obliged to give people the LD alternative !

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