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. ALEC

    @” 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.”

    Does anyone doubt that macro changes in climate affect weather patterns?

    I thought the controversy was in respect of the causes of climate change.

    Well it was a helluva night down here-but the wind has now abated. Just reading an article about the meteorological causes of the global weather patterns recently. It all centers on a southerly deflection of the Jet Stream.over seas which are warmer than normal.A similar deflection of the southern hemisphere jet stream has brought floods to South America & drought to Australia.

    The Jet Streams have a history of drift, over decades. The “source” of this winters perturbation is an unusually high pressure area over The Aleutians.

    Whilst it is possible to identify a global warming trend, the periods measured & comparisons made are always a source of argument-and it is never possible to identify any one weather event as caused by a global warming trend.

    I read that whilst there is no evidence of more storms hitting UK, there is evidence that they are becoming more intense.

    For a small country , with a tiny proportion of global “greenhouse” emissions, surely we should be concentrating on mitigation measures, so we can live with these events without this massive disruption.

  2. @Colin & Ed,

    Yesterday I posted a long comment about relative deficit-GDP % levels in UK and France but it went into mod and has never come out.

  3. NICKP

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

    Of God-not that old chestnut again!

    It could be -but it isn’t.-and it woulkdn’t be “happy”.

    We have a Treasury & a Central Bank Governor who seem unwilling to debase the currency in that way.

    Just a footnote to QE , which is inherent in your post-the last BoE Inflation Report confirmed current policy-that receipts from redemption payment from maturing Gilts held under the Asset Purchase Program will continue to be re-invested to maintain the Stock at £375 bn.
    But the Report indicates that when interest rate policy changes, this policy will be reviewed.

  4. NEILA

    I would have thought any good socialist would be highlighting France’s unemployment stats, rather than its Deficit.

  5. What would Labour have done differently in 2010?

    What might they do differently in 2015?

    The answer to the first is probably, “not much”…except not cancel infrastructure projects and reinstate them later. And the rhetoric would have been different.

    What might they do differently next time? Good question. does anyone really believe that an Ed Miliband Government would be a million miles away from the current one fiscally speaking?

  6. @ Colin

    “For a small country , with a tiny proportion of global “greenhouse” emissions, surely we should be concentrating on mitigation measures, so we can live with these events without this massive disruption.”

    I think that is the general plan and the various agencies now seem to taking more seriously the Dutch idea of living with water flooding certain areas. But it is going to cost a lot of money and it will affect the way planning applications are dealt with.

    To be fair the Environment Agency are already implementing natural solutions to reduce potential flooding. Where I live at the start of small river system, the EA have built some small wetland type areas, so the water is stored upstream a litte bit, so it helps with the flow down the whole river. It seems to be working. The EA have also been working with many local authorities all around the country building defences.

    As you say the weather will be the weather. All the UK can do, is come with the appropriate solutions to mitigate against the potential damage. The current annual budget for flood prevention works is apparently at least half of what it should be. There was a recommendation by Professor King I think in 2002 about the levels of spending. Up to 2008, the government were apparently starting to make the necessary investment and then the financial crisis hit, putting a stop to necessary increases.

  7. NickP

    There is in fact a small minority of Scientists who do not agree thal Global warming is mainly man made.
    You can find the list in Wilkipedia under the heading
    “List of scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming”

    No surprise to you no doubt, but I remain sceptical myself mainly because the past earth history has many instances of global warming which were certainly not diue to human activity.

  8. the other howard

    personally, whatever the scientific rights and wrongs, I think it is too late to stop and there is no chance whatsoever of nations agreeing to reduction of carbon fuel consumption

    As always price and availability together will force to consider alternatives and in the meantime, as Colin and Alec say, build flood barriers and mitigate severe weather.

    In a socialist sort of way…

  9. @TOH


    “A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analysed “1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers”

    98% of researchers could be wrong but it seems rather unlikely.

  10. @NickP,

    I think a Labour government would want and intend to do better, but after a couple of years of more normal weather, and with pressure for spending in a whole range of more “traditional” Labour interest areas, I think flood defences in the Southwest and the Home Counties might slip down the agenda a bit.

  11. @ Nickp

    “Assuming that comes from the LDs that reduces their vote to about 40%”

    This is the point I am making. The assumption that the LD vote in Simon Hughes seat falls from 48% to 40% doesn’t match with any universal swing on current opinion polls. It doesn’t even match the Eastleigh result (however meaningless that result is because of special circumstances). The UNS would put him on about 24% of the vote. In Eastleigh the LD vote share was down by 16% which, as I said, was the best scenario for LD I could find.

    Of course there are very few hard facts about what happens where Lab are directly competing with LD. Swings could be lower to help Hughes or they could even be higher which is certainly the case when Lab is taking votes of LD when LD does not have a chance.

    Where is Lord Ashcroft when you need him?

  12. AW

    I notice that my post of 8.01am is in moderation.

    An implication of the report to which I linked is that the BBC’s editorial position may influence voters. Surely, this is relevant to discussion on UKPR?

    [BBC bias is a topic that unavoidably leads to rather dull and pointless partisan back and forth (they are biased against the party I support, no – they are biased against the party I support) so it’s sadly verbotem along with PMQs, etc – AW]

  13. I am not remotely sceptical about the effect that human activity has on carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and therefore climate.

    The only area where I probably have some agreement with TOH is that I think we are a long way from understanding the long term cyclical climate change that the planet is always engaged in, and a comprehensive model for all climate change would have to factor in natural and man-made effects together.

    That said, I don’t think that’s any excuse for inaction. It might be that when we fully understand the forces behind natural cycles, our predicament is seen to be more, not less, dire.

  14. R HUCKLE


    Lets hope memories don’t fade too quickly at Westminster & in the Treasury.

  15. NICKP

    @”personally, whatever the scientific rights and wrongs, I think it is too late to stop and there is no chance whatsoever of nations agreeing to reduction of carbon fuel consumption”

    I agree.


    @”It might be that when we fully understand the forces behind natural cycles, our predicament is seen to be more, not less, dire.”

    I agree

  16. nickp

    I agree with all your last post except the last sentence.

  17. I think we also have a role in convincing the rest of the world to lower greenhouse emissions. Certainly the UK is involved in science projects with other, larger, countries (e.g. China) to promote renewable energy. That seems like a very sensible thing to be doing.

  18. @ Neil A

    Totally agree with your post. However does it really matter that we know what the natural cycles are?

    If you accept your first point that carbon emissions cause the earth to warm and then combine that with irrefutable evidence that the earth is warming then doesn’t the human effect just work like the central heating? You turn it off if things are getting too warm and you turn it on if things are getting too cold- it doesn’t actually matter why things are getting warmer or colder and I don’t think any scientist is seeing these things in terms of a few years and then things revert back to normal making it pointless in the meantime to waste money on a new central heating system.

  19. On Lib Dem Voice most of the posters are despairing and many are calling for cleggs head. Until now the grassroots have been generally quiescent – Eastleigh seemed to beguile them. But now they are up in arms. However – apart from farron – the mps and senior lib dems have been loyal.

    In may, the locals and Euro elections will likely be the biggest disaster yet for the lib dems since going into the coalition. Will the lib dems revolt against clegg – and maybe even bring down the coalition?

    Are there any posters on here with lib dem knowledge?

    I think that I have the Knowledge on Lib Dems.

    Their poll ratings are too high in relation to their real vote. This insight has come to me during the night.

  21. @ Ozwald

    At times this blog is full of unmoderated left bias but you probably wouldn’t notice. AW does the best he can. Remember the BBC buys more Guardian newspapers than any other.

  22. @ NickP

    Newspaper….Duh! Pedantic or what!

  23. We know Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

    We also know that Carbon Dioxide levels are increasing.

    Thus, we can expect a warming effect, except that there can be feedback effects that reduce this. Eg, if warming produces more clouds, reflecting away the sun’s heat.

    There can also, however be feedforward effects, amplifying the warming. Eg warming leading to methane hydrates becoming unstable, releasing methane into the atmosphere, an even more powerful greenhouse gas.

    These feedforward and feedback effects can be at times contentious and tricky to model or predict. But there is geological evidence of past warming due to Carbon Dioxide from volcanos, more active in tbe past.

    Thus, we may not know for sure about the precise impact of Carbon Dioxide, but we know there is quite the risk, and we need to prepare for the decline of fossil fuels anyway.

  24. Flooding?
    I had a presentation from the top scenario builder for Shell. (This approach is close to a religion in Shell). For the first time they are putting the main points on line immediately rather than keeping it to themselves. You can find it under New Lens. In none of their scenarios do they doubt global warming or I think human causes. They do though foresee different approaches to dealing with the problem.
    While their scenarios are varied, the underlying dominant fact is the next 50 years will be dominated by huge increasing demands for energy, water and food.
    So for Labour, they should be looking carefully at water control, food production and energy as priorities which means the south west and home counties will reamain important in policy making..

  25. Aside from the fact that the Graun has the media jobs in it, it is also a Lib Dem paper that backed the coalition…

  26. Carfrew

    “and we need to prepare for the decline of fossil fuels anyway.”


  27. I thought AW had ruled BBC bias comments out of bounds along with that DT columnist who shall remain nameless and maybe now Scottish Independence without a Scottish flag on the thread!

    [Yes, I have! It’s an utterly pointless back and forth – AW]

  28. @Bantams
    The Beeb has a wide variety of sources, not just the Grauniad [which supports the Coalition]. Among others they receive information direct from parties’ media teams and I think Crosby is much more effective than his rivals at setting the news agenda.

  29. There is a certain irony in suggestions that AW is showing bias in deciding which accusations of bias he moderates!

  30. If you want the true LD member debates, you have to be a member to get to that section of LDV, otherwise the front page comment can only come from ‘supporters’ and anyone else who feels like submitting a comment, – just like on here. It suspect it is possible to hack one’s way in and I suspect there is the odd lapsed member who discovers his credentials have not been updated.

  31. NickP
    “We need a BBC that buys more left wing papers!”

    Where can these be purchased ? Apart from the Mirror, I’m not sure there are any ‘leftie’ papers anymore are there ?

  32. @ NickP

    I was correct that the BBC buys more of The Guardian than any other newspaper. Some people will obviously order more than one newspaper which will distort the figures, if we had more of a breakdown it would give a clearer picture.

  33. @Chordata,

    Have you ever read Solidarity or The Morning Star? If you had, you’d see why!

    I kid, but I don’t think ordering more copies of the Guardian is significant. People get their news from multiple sources now and it’s a popular paper among media professionals, which the BBC are.

  34. Talking of newspapers and the Beeb , there was a cracking quotation on the Toady programme this morning from the Mail, which said that the by-election result showed that the UKIP were making inroads in the North and would hurt Labour as much as the Tories. I think this was an attempt at ‘balance’ even if it was likely to be complete bo**ocks.

  35. When I watch the news I am amazed at the ignorance of the news reporters. They trot out party spin but do not seem to think for themselves. The news channels should recruit from UKPR if they want informed reporting.

  36. @shevii et al: Southwark, Hornsey Wood Green etc – The swing is not even across constituencies. Ashcroft marginals polling showed that in a LibDem/Labour marginal the Lib Dem vote collapsed, in a Lib Dem/Tory marginal it held up as Labour voters still voted tactically. That is why these constituencies are very marginal regardless of the personal
    popularity of the sitting MP.

  37. @ Shevi, Reggieside, Chatterclass

    The most optimistic slant adopted by the Lib-Dems currently is that if their vote is collapsing in some areas — eg. Manchester — it must be holding up better in their “strongholds”, on which, to their regret, they are being forced back.

    The number of Lib-Dem-Lab marginal seats that might fall to Lab is quite small — 7 or 8?

    A collapse of the Lib-Dem vote outside their “redoubts” would be more promising for Lab in certain Tory marginals; those (usually held by Lab 1997-2010), where Lab are within 3-5% of Tories & where Lib-Dems are in 3rd place with 10-15-20% of the vote.
    The bookies have slated 15 or more of these seats at 1/4, 1/5, or at even more extreme odds in Lab’s favour.

    The bookies seem certain but we don’t know whether (1) Whether the Lib-D vote will wilt in these seats. (2)What relative proportions will be picked up by Tories/Lab. (3) The impact of Ukip.

    A random example of one of a number Tory marginals in this category, but NOT slated by the bookies, is Wolverhampton SW.
    Tories lost this in 1997, got in back in 2010 with 1.7% majority. Meanwhile the Lib-Dem vote here doubled from 8% to 16%, as did UKIP’s vote, tho from a much lower base.

  38. @ Chordata

    Have you ever tried the Independent ? It’s more genuinely and consistently left of centre than Grauniad. Latter’s tradition is classic free trade liberal. It has NEVER been a Labour paper despite constant attempts by True Blues to portray it as such. G’s continued and in this case fanatical commitment to the ideology of free trade can be seen in Simon Jenkins diatribe yesterday in favour of opening up global free markets in elephant ivory and rhino horn despite the fact that limited legal trade has already incentivised poaching. Independent takes a much more progressive and realistic view. G’s overall readership mirrors current UKPR averages for LD. The “I” on the other hand is booming I believe. I only read G nowadays out of ingrained habit and the fact I like its typeface …..

  39. Some interesting postmortem on the by-election from Toby Perkins MP on Twitter, who should know something because he ran the campaign (although obviously not a disinterested observer, so take it all with a grain of salt).

    Apparently the Ukip whinging/Labour smugness about the efficiency of the Labour machine at getting out the postal votes is rubbish. The party vote shares were roughly the same in the postal and polling day votes.

    Also, most of the Ukip votes came from Sale, rather than Wythenshawe. It was a direct Tory -> Ukip flux in the Tory Sale wards, rather than Ukip picking up a lot of ex-Labour votes in the estates. So much for my theory that Sale’s affluence would shield it from the Ukip surge…

    @ Robbiealive,

    I’m taking it as a given that the Lib Dems are dead in Manchester. Given that, almost keeping a deposit isn’t bad- at least they didn’t come eighth this time!

  40. @Welsh B

    Agree. I’ve started to buy the Independent and if not the i. I find that its news reporting seems to have less of an implicit political agenda than any other paper apart from the FT. The majority of the Independent’s columnists and editorials are left leaning (but not all, for example Hamish McRae on economics), but it doesn’t feed through to its reporting. By contrast, the Mirror’s news gives only a Labour/left perspective, whilst it is easy to detect a Lib Dem agenda behind so much of the Guardian’s political reporting and editorial stance (true to its opinion of itself as “the world’s leading liberal voice” ). I could probably tolerate the Guardian if it wasn’t so uncritical of Clegg’s decision to throw in his lot with the Conservatives and unapologetic in that context for its decision to back Clegg in 2010.

  41. The Times leader on the results o the S&W by-election, which they argue is significant in a way other by-elections in this parliament have not been,, sees the joining of LD 2010 voters with Labour as a joining of the left “by default”. It depends on what they mean by “by default” – in the absence of any other choice, or now the normal location of the former LD vote?
    I suggest that to understand why the vote was, I agree, significant, we need to make a different analysis, that of a functional relationship between the political parties and broader trends in UK institutions: one in which the tradtional functional relationship of Labour to the unions is shifting, and in which both Labour, as a party and as a body of supporters. and former LD supporters looking for a party, see their political aims and the economic priorities of their own households and communities in a social market system with permanent commitment in wider economic and political aims in the EU.

  42. @Robbie Alive

    I know Wton SW very well indeed! Whilst I agree with your point that there are too many Con held marginals at 1/4 or even lower odds, Wton SW is one that is I think fairly priced and therefore not a good example to cite. The well respected former MP Rob Marris is standing again and the new Con MP seems all but invisible, whilst the demographic trends continue to be in Lab’s favour.

  43. @Spearmint

    I live in Sale and know quite a few people who voted UKIP following Toby Young’s ‘Unite the Right’ idea, I think this is the main reason for the boost to UKIP. I don’t think these people will be voting for UKIP in the local elections and I also think that it proved that Toby Young’s idea is not going to work.

  44. Well i would question opinion polls rather than by-elections. £30% gave their opinions in yesterdays poll. Whereas a small selection taken for opinion polls, and mostly from the telephone. So i assume those without phones who cant afford one, were not asked. This i suggest would weight the result towards the tories. I reckon labour are probably 9 to 10 point ahead, and i think they will sweep to power in may 2015.

  45. @Chordata

    New Statesman is also worth a look. OK, it’s a weekly magazine rather than a newspaper but it has a clear left of centre agenda and has a good range of columnists and interesting articles. Unlike the Graun, it is far more critical of the coalition and has been so consistently. It advocated anti-Conservative tactical voting at the 2010 GE and it will be interesting to see if they decide to endorse Labour in next year’s election.

  46. @ Katie,

    Thanks for the local perspective- that makes a lot of sense.

    I about to laugh off the idea that this by-election was significant, but if it scuppers the Unite the Right plan it really might be, at least as far as saving the Tory vote share in the North at the general election. It’s much harder for Ukip to argue “We’re the only ones who can beat Labour” now that they’ve proven they manifestly can’t.

  47. The Grauniad is not a lefty paper. Obviously, people who say that have not read it lately. Didn’t their chief political writer swan off to write speeches for David Cameron?
    As a “lefty” I buy the ‘i’. It’s informative and gives all points of view .

  48. Is this the Labour Literary Society blog?

    Any more Left of Centre publications I should consider reading .?


  49. I’ve read the Indy for several years. It sees its role as taking on the Government, be it New Labour or the Coalition. That’s what paper should do.

  50. But Colin you’re always tempting us with ‘interesting’ snippets from your favourite paper.

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