Today’s Populus and YouGov polls both have six point leads for Labour. Populus’s topline figures in their twice weekly poll are CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14% (tabs are here). The daily YouGov poll for the Sun this morning has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12% (tabs are here.)

As you’ll probably know, the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election was also last night, and was a comfortable Labour hold. This means today will be full of people saying what it *means* and trying to draw some wider conclusions based upon it. I’ll only repeat my normal warning about not reading too much into by-elections. They are extremely unusual beasts – an election in just one single seat that won’t be representative of the whole country, intensely fought but often with low turnout, and where who wins does not make any difference to who the government is the next day. Essentially, if a by-election performs in line with the national polls it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, if it performs in some way different to the polls it’s probably because of the unusual circumstances implicit in a by-election.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have a big impact on politics of course. If UKIP had done much better it would have given them a big publicity boost and probably set off a narrative about them threatening Labour seats… but they didn’t.

200 Responses to “Latest Populus and YouGov figures”

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  1. Thanks Jim Jam

  2. @ Neil A

    Re borrowing and growth. Not sure these are linked or it cannot be calculated how much it would affect growth by.

    The other thing about the current borrowing at 7%, which is more than some other EU countries, it does make it more difficult to argue about cuts being too far and too fast. If you don’t make the cuts, then arguably you would have had to impose more tax.

    I think the economic argument at the election in May 2015, is going to very difficult for most of the electorate to understand. Either side are going to come up with ways to say that their policies would have led to a better position. For Labour it is going to be most difficult, as the economy is now growing better than most of the G8 countries. Labour have said they want to eliminate the deficit before 2020 and I am sure the Tories will say the same.

  3. @ R HUckle

    I agree that Lab are going to have a hard time convincing on the economy.
    Nobody really knows what would have happened if the Darling strategy had been pursued rather than the Osborne one. There is no question that the Osborne strategy has failed to deliver what he said it would, but of course his argument is that it was blown off course by unforeseeable events.
    Looking back at the Chancellors’ debate (prompted by this thread) there was a clear difference between the parties, though it is widely argued that Darling’s plans were actually very little different and at the same time argued that his profligate policies would have taken us to hell in a handcart (often i think by the same commentators!)
    Lab’s problem is that ‘the mess we inherited’ has become received wisdom.
    I have held the view for some time that, if the recovery sustains until the GE (and I think Osborne has been quite cunning in generating a housing boom) this will provide a real boost for Con. On balance I think it will sustain and for that reason I think we’ll be hung, with Lab having just a few more seats.

  4. Oh Anthony, you’ve not put that most esteemed of Telegraph columnists on the blocked list have you? I was being nice!

  5. Although there have been no local government elections in London since 2012, there were elections to the London Assembly, and the tallies have been broken down down to ward level.

    Here’s the link:

    It’s therefore possible to reconstruct the result for the London Assembly election for each London parliamentary constituency. The only minor assumption needed is to reallocate postal votes across wards in each London borough on a pro-rata basis.

    So given the earlier discussion, here are the 2012 London Assembly (constituency) vote shares for Bermondsey and Old Southwark parliamentary constituency:

    Lab 42.1%
    Con 19.8%
    LD 22.5%
    Green 9.9%
    UKIP 4.2%
    Socialist Lab 1.5%

    Lab vote up 15% since 2008, LD down 12%

    So I think Hughes has got his work cut out.

  6. “since 2010” not “since 2012”.

  7. Guy Monde,
    Just a little of the counsel of defeat and despair here.I love that quote,I think it
    Was Anne Widdecombe,originally.Some of us feel that Darlings we’ll cut the
    Same as thatcher may have cost us the election.
    As recent events have shown nobody can count on anything ,never mind the
    Economy.I feel the repercussion of these storms will go on and on.And if they
    Happen next year?

  8. @Phil Haines

    Simon Hughes has a huge personal vote. People like him in S&B. Really, if he ran as an Independent and all the other parties threw the kitchen sink at the seat, he would STILL probably win.

  9. Reading Jonathan Freedland I would thnk that those four words may be very
    Difficult for David Cameron to justify n the future.

  10. But it’s a vote restricted to that xonstutuency. He did a lot of campaigning in 2010 in nearby Labour areas, such as Lewisham, Deptford, Peckham and Greenwich. No change at all.

  11. @Raf

    I’m not denying that he has had a huge personal vote. But if you allow for that by starting with his 2010 result, and factor in a swing similar to that between the pre and post GE Assembly elections, then he would loses.

    Lab need a 9.5% swing to take Bermondsey. As I’ve said up thread, I think it’s in the balance.

  12. I am not convinced that the economy is the deciding factor. I think people’s belief that it is leads from the Clinton campaign when the quote was ‘It is the economy stupid’ but that was in the context of that particular campaign and to keep people on message in the TV studios. I don’t think Lab won in 1997 on the economy. Nor do I think people don’t realise there was a world financial melt down that could not be wholly blamed on Labour – In fact it could be argued that Labours management over the 13 years left us in a pretty good place to cope.

  13. @AIW

    Ooh IDK about despair. I predict Liverpool will come 4th but I’m still very hopeful they’ll come first: it’s a question of how they play until the end of the season.

    As a Liverpool supporter I’ll be quite happy with 4th because we get to play in the champion’s league next season.

    Equally being hung – uncomfortable for an individual – would be OK for Lab supporters if the current situation is anything to go by. They may mirror the Cons in finding a coalition partner to implement a set of policies well to the left of what anybody said in their manifesto. And of course I am entirely non-partisan in all my observations here :p

    Talking of observations, why does every line in your posts start with a capital letter. Is this some Welshified grammar or a quirk of your computer?

  14. @Phil Haines

    I’m not doubting your statistical analysis. He should probably lose. But so many people have said that before and he’s still there. I just think S&B is an exception to the general rule.

  15. Guy Monde,
    Rather touchy?Sorry about my mad typing.Never learnt how to do it properly and sometimes the I pad just takes over.Anyway,whatever,if I have offended I

  16. Actually I am getting a bit fed up of apologising so I will bid everyone a pleasant evening.I do hope that was typed correctly.

  17. @COUPER2802

    Completely agree. A bad economy can cause a government to be kicked out but a good one is not sufficient to keep it in.

  18. Ann in Wales
    Stay exactly as you are, your Capitalisation at the start of every line adds a curious Haiku like quality to your utterances.

  19. @AIW

    Now it’s my turn to apologise. I didn’t take any offence at your post, just light-heartedly (I thought) clarifying.

    And again, not wanting to criticise your typing – I assumed it was some oddball technical thing and it’s not a problem at all.

    So sorry if I’ve chased you away. As someone else said recently, I always enjoy your posts.

  20. Re Simon Hughes

    I really hope Peter Tatchell takes him on again , as somebody intimated might happen.

  21. ‘Completely agree. A bad economy can cause a government to be kicked out but a good one is not sufficient to keep it in.’

    See John Howard Australian PM kicked out before the boom went bust.

    Why? The people also just get sick of one side being in for too long. Two term governments are about it at maximum ….

  22. NEIL A – The stats on borrowing vary substantially, depending on whether the UK figures include QE coupon interest refunds, Royal Mail pensions and sale, 4G spectrum etc. There’s also the issue of the Bank of England holding around a third of it (I think) which was talked about on here a couple of weeks ago, and what happens to that. The figures I used were in a recent guardian article that excluded the temporary incomes. The ONS break it all down too in their monthly release and I think they rely on the figure excluding temporary affects.

    For France I’ve just had a look and the target is for a 3.6% deficit this year but it looks like they will miss, though not by much.

    The EU measure debt differently too which flatters the UK. Total debt in the UK is nearer 100% of GDP not 80% if the Maastrict measure is used. I think the UK is moving to that this year in part of fully. That is why Network Rail’s debt is moving to the govt’s books.

  23. “Nor do I think people don’t realise there was a world financial melt down that could not be wholly blamed on Labour – In fact it could be argued that Labours management over the 13 years left us in a pretty good place to cope.”

    I’m still checking the calender for Apr 1st.

  24. Guy and Ewan,
    Thank you .You are both very kind.I will try very hard to type correctly .But I hope in future content might rate a little higher than form.Perhaps.

  25. Sorry the total UK debt under current measures is about 76% of GDP.

    Also just seen that Spain has a target of 3.7% deficit this year. Doubt they will make it, and whether that includes autonomous regions I’m not sure.

    Still, one thing that seems clear is that the UK deficit is still rather more than fellow EU nations, and even with stronger growth for the past year and weak growth in France, Italy etc the gap is narrowing really quite slowly.

  26. @Statgeek

    Seriously if Labour were incompetent over 13 years we would have ended up as bad as Greece or Spain we didn’t because Lab were pretty good at running the economy. The problem Labour has is that Lab had meekly let the Coalition dominate with the ‘mess we inherited’ narrative. But UK was actually in reasonable shape compared to others in the immediate aftermath of the crash and in fact had returned to growth prior to GO and Austerity.

  27. Couper2802,
    I have always said that Osbornes great political advantage was blaming the
    deficit on Labour.Will that be enough to gain them the next general election?

  28. @AIW

    I’m really sorry i mentioned the capitalisation thang – I rather agree with Ewan that it lends a distinctiveness which is very welcome.


    Despite my political preferences I can only half agree with you. I have no problem at all with what Lab did on debt etc – the country badly needed public sector investment in particular and they were making a valiant attempt to tackle child poverty in stark contrast to the Beadle we have now.
    So the macro-economics were fine, but they did little to address the underlying issues of a financial services industry which works diligently to undermine the rest of the economy. And some of the measures which had the effect (in glorious hindsight I know) of subsidising sink employers to pay unliveable wages were IMO misconceived. Let’s get to a living minimum wage as a matter of urgency, and lets have a realistic effort to resolve the continuing housing crisis.

  29. @Ed

    Thanks for replying. I agree that the stats are a bit of a moveable feast. I found this site which is fairly easy to digest but I don’t know if it is trustworthy.

    h ttp://

    h ttp://

    The figures seem to be estimates for 2013 deficit/GDP, dating from the end of Q3, with previous years figures charted alongside.

    What it seems to suggest is that France and UK start the crisis with similar deficit/GDP of around 2.7% in 2008. When the crisis hits, French figures deteriorate to 7.5% in 2010, whereas the deterioration for the UK is much worse – to 11.4% (this is under the last government, obviously). Since then, both countries have made big reductions in the ratio. France to 4.8% and the UK to 6.1%.

    If their data is right (and if they are comparing apples with apples – I don’t know if enough to tell) then it tells us two things.

    1) The UK’s deficit ballooned far more than France’s, so the starting point (the “problem to be solved” if you like) was worse for us.

    2) The UK’s deficit has fallen much more than France’s since 2010, so although ours is still higher than theirs, that can’t really be laid at the current government’s door.

    Interestingly, the figures also show that since Hollande replaced Sarkozy in 2012, the UK’s deficit ratio has fallen three times as fast as France’s (I imagine due to our better GDP figures rather than spending levels). So, if one was being partisan, you could (if you just looked at those two countries, and relied on that website – big “Ifs” I know) draw the conclusion that the Right has been better at deficit reduction than the Left.

  30. Populus was matching YouGov very closely a while back and is doing so again. Change of method does not add up to much it would seem.

  31. Ann, Ann, come back, you’re missed, oh, you’re back, now that’s magic! Labour will win by a mile and a half after seeing that.

  32. I’ve said it before, but a strange thhing comes over Labour supporters on this site: a rather desperate anxiety to demonstrate that the polls don’t mean what they are saying. They are saying Labour have constantly topped 38% throughout this parliament, through all the bad times, when the public don’t seem to have recognised the Eds exist, and through all the good times when they have said things that struck a chord. The resilience of that 38% in the face of great Labour moves (as opposed just to bad Labour times) is what can’t successfully be explained (I think) by any other hypothesis than that 38% want Labour to win whatever the Tories, the LD’s, UKIP, or the economy do. And that, as they say, is football.

  33. Hi Howard,

    “Populus was matching YouGov very closely a while back and is doing so again. Change of method does not add up to much it would seem”

    It did make a difference, however, when they first changed. Were they just being over enthusiastic?

    (Not ignoring anyone now, I’m off to bed.)

  34. Colin Davis,
    Glad you think so.

  35. AnninWales: I thought your capitals turned your posts into poetry- don’t stop.

  36. I’m going to be ostracised here and my ‘sorry I ever mentioned it, I like the capitals thing too’ post has gone into moderation (probably because I said something else immoderate :-( )

    ‘ you can be a liberal-leaning free market party, or a left-wing alternative to Labour, but you can’t be both.”

    Rephrase that: “you can be free market party in a neo-liberal coalition with the Tories, or a left-wing alternative to Labour, but you can’t be both.”

  38. @NEIL A

    “I thought borrowing money to stimulate growth was a good thing?”


    Not all borrowing is a stimulus!!!!

    It’s an oft-repeated assumption, but it isn’t true. An obvious example is our debt interest repayments, which may not find their way back into the economy.

    Much of the post-Crunch borrowing was not stimulus, in the sense of new money going into the economy. Much of the borrowing was simply replacing a shortfall, owing to a big increase in welfare costs and collapse in tax receipts as the economy shrank 7% once the banks stopped lending.

    It is possible to spend money and make things worse. For example, cutting the top rate of tax… if the rich then spend or invest it abroad, that may not help our economy. And if they invest it here, but pile it into acquiring assets, pushing up house prices, that may nbe something we could do without.

    And it is possible


    “I agree that Lab are going to have a hard time convincing on the economy. Nobody really knows what would have happened if the Darling strategy had been pursued rather than the Osborne one. There is no question that the Osborne strategy has failed to deliver what he said it would, but of course his argument is that it was blown off course by unforeseeable events.”


    Yes, the argument was that the slowdown in the EU choked off growth here.

    If that is the case, proponents of that argument would be able to give figures showing growth here subsiding in response to EU growth subsiding.

    As opposed to the argument by Will Hutton et al that growth here was being choked off BEFORE the EU slowdown.

    Equally, you could look at how HOMEGROWN construction fell in response to the cuts, as folk like Alec did at the time.

    Never seen any numbers to back up the claim it was the EU what caused it…


    “@Carfrew (from last thread, but hey, I’m not a serial offender). There was nothing quite like UKIP in the 70s but we did have a kaleidoscope of Leftist Partilets whose members were quite as weird and wonderful as Kippers can be – but generally a lot, lot hairier. They represented the same threat to Labour that UKIP does to the Tories too – they creamed off committed and useful party members and as entryists tried to pull the party away from the centre.

    I would have been one myself but I have always had trouble with abbreviations and could never remember which party was which – IS, IMG, SWP, CP, CPGB, CPGBML etc, etc.”


    I was too young to vote at the time, and politics did not have much of my attention. I’m not sure, but if I recall correctly LibDems seemed to take more votes off Labour than Tories in ’79, so you might argue a quasi-Ukip phenomenon there.

    I shall brace myself for a Winter of Discontent, anyway, just in case!!….

  41. Sorry, Liberals, not Libdems, obviously…

  42. For the EU elections I expect a lot of traditional Tory voters to vote for UKIP for the first time in their lives.

    Having done so, surely they will then be more likely to vote UKIP at the general election just 12 months later?

  43. @Squeezedmiddle

    I expect UKIP will do better in the Euros than their current Westminster polling indicates. How well that surge will stand up in a General Election is going to depend a lot on the media that surrounds it. If the result is seen to be weaker than expected (based on the expectations of the media, however dumb those are), then it may unwind rather quickly.

  44. The EU elections come at a bad time in the election cycle for the Conservatives.

    If they haven’t got near to level pegging with Labour in the general polling, a kicking at the hands of UKIP will certainly jangle nerves with just 12 months to go until the GE.

    I think it will create a massive pressure for them to increase the anti-EU, anti-immigration rhetoric.

    While this superficially seems wise to ‘chime’ with public opinion, it would also enlarge the ‘nasty party’ image and make attracting voters from Labour and the Lib Dems tougher.

  45. Hope everyone in the south got through the night. Up here, things have been decidedly calm.

    California is experiencing it’s worst drought since records began (some say since the 16th Century, but I’m not sure how they know this) and people die in New York as buildings collapse under the weight of snow from a massive winter storm.

    I think it’s helpful that people are finally coming out to say that we have sufficient evidence from a string of individual extreme weather events to start talking of climate change affecting weather.

    Everything that is happening, is predicted, in general terms, and I do wonder whether environmental concerns may again become somewhat more of a feature in voter minds.

    Mitigation measures, if not actual combating of carbon emissions, could become an issue, especially with money no object. At least for the south.

  46. I have some sympathy with the BBC. It’s there job to report Government policy and then where the friction is and what the opposition says, up to a point.

    The problem arises when it presents controversial stuff as fact. So the idea that Labour overspent and that the world will end if debt isn’t reduced (despite the fact that so much of the debt is owed to ourselves and therefore both an asset and non-toxic) becomes the premise for all discussion.

    I think the BBC should present government policy and thinking. They should also point out what the objections are…but here they need also to give some idea of the balance of the argument.

    So for instance on global warming and climate change…the arguments are often presented as two equal dissenting opinions when in fact those who argue that man’s burning of carbon fuels is not changing our climate drastically are a vocal moneyed minority with practically no science behind them at all.

  47. Quite surprised at the comments about Simon Hughes on here.

    Purely statistically, almost any scenario you can present sees him losing his seat (the extreme LD have lost 50% of their national vote and Lab have gained about 1/3rd of that sees a stonking Lab majority). The only example I can find that would back him as holding the seat was the Eastleigh By Election and even then it gets pretty close and is a very bad example as LD were not competing with Lab.

    I accept I don’t know the constituency and there may be a huge personal vote but how high would that really be? It’s not like you could single out anything that would make him a rebel in this parliament even on a low starting point on the Tim Farron scale of rebelliousness.

    If R&D were giving me this mythical £1m that I was forced to use to bet I would nervously be putting it on him losing his seat.

  48. I’m looking forward to Hughes getting the order of the boot…but I agree it will be close.

    He got nearly 50% of the vote last time to Lab’s 30%. So Lab got approximately what it got nationally and might well match that locally again, let’s say 38-39% by recent measures.

    Assuming that comes from the LDs that reduces their vote to about 40% and we are suddenly very close. Hughes will be depending upon the incumbency factor and the fact that he ain’t a Tory…so expect a few anti-coalition noises in the next year from him!

  49. ED

    @”Still, one thing that seems clear is that the UK deficit is still rather more than fellow EU nations, ”

    Try plotting UK’s deficit trajectory from its peak vs other EZ countries.

    UK peaked at 11.2% ………in FY 2009/10

    From memory, only Greece & Ireland’s deficits peaked at higher levels.

  50. As we have seen though, Colin, the deficit can be happily paid off by printing money.

    £375 billion of it to date.

    Hardly a problem for us at all…unlike Greece or Spain or Ireland stuck in Germany’s currency.

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