This morning’s YouGov daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. At the start of the week YouGov produced an interesting string of seven point Labour leads, but with a four point lead yesterday and a five point lead today it looks as it’s business as usual. Full tabs are here.

Meanwhile the twice weekly poll from Populus has figures of CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. Full tabs for those are here.

308 Responses to “Latest YouGov and Populus polls”

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  1. AW

    Like Howard I couldn’t find the Populus tables. I’ll try again tomorrow.

  2. Anthony

    While this post is about the Scottish cross-break in the YouGov poll, it is NOT a Macbethian one, but a technical polling question!

    In the weighting tables, YG have weighted SNP/PC identifiers up by 6 from 24 to 30, making these two sets of party supporters 1.7% of your GB sample. Yet, in the 2010 election, they were 2.3% of the GB electorate.

    That would suggest that they have been underweighted by almost a third. For SNP/PC to be 2.3% of the GB sample, they should have been weighted upwards from 30 to 40.

    If I have made an arithmetical mistake – I blame Excel!

    If I have misunderstood your weighting process, please help me out.

  3. @Oldnat

    Rounding error? (30*1.023/1.017 = 30.177, which when rounded to the nearest integer takes you back to 30)


    I’d noticed the rounding factor. Rounding both the SNP/PC identifiers in the sample, and the SNP/PC share of the GB 2010 vote to the nearest integer mean that both 1.7% and 2.3% can happily share the 2% label.

    OK. We all know that the cross-breaks have little significance in terms of the headline figures – yet, because pollsters publish them, people do look at them.

    Weighting the SNP/PC identifiers from 24 to 40 would have been more accurate. I doubt that it would have made much difference to the GB data, but it might explain why the YG Scottish cross-breaks often seem at variance with all other sources of information!

  5. AW and John B
    I’ve done a ‘little red hen’ and here is the link.

    Now to look at it. Well, tomorrow perhaps.

  6. AW

    Many thanks

  7. AW

    Just had a brief look. If I remember rightly YG had Tories in Scotland at 30%. Populus have 11%. This is more than ‘margins of error’. One or other is (or both are) incompetent.

    Please explain at your leisure to one of little brain…….

    though I’m packing in for the night so there’s no rush

  8. There’s sometimes a nice symmetry in rounding!

    In the Populus poll, they downweight SNP identifiers from 2.3% to 1,7%! Though the combined SNP/PC downeweighting is a reasonable 2.9% to 2,2%.

  9. @John B

    RE: Con on 30% in Alba.

    Prior to this poll, Average over 30 polls of 20.0%, Median of 20.0%, and MAD of 20.1%.

    Sample of 149 on an electorate of 4 million is MoE of 8.03, so the Con Vi should fall between 12% and 28% to be within MoE…

    …95% of the time.

  10. Statgeek

    But should YG’s weighting mechanism for Alba turn out to be what America terms “ground beef” – what does that do your beautiful graphs?

  11. @Howard: ” What has Clegg vs Farage got to do with Salmond vs Cameron? The debatable issues are not related. One is EU and the other is something I do not discuss here.”

    Technically I think you’re correct but the public perception could be of Clegg saying yes and Cameron saying no rather than recognising that the political circumstances are different.

  12. Old Nat/Martyn

    YouGov don’t weight by past vote at all. They weight respondents 2010 Party-id (or nearest equivalent) to what the 2010 Party i-d targets are[1]. Now these will be fairly closely related to what people’s votes actually were (and which YouGov have recorded) because most people vote for the Party they identify with, but they won’t be identical. There may be all sorts of reasons for this: tactical voting, differential turnout etc.

    And of course there are also people who have no such id and who will not necessarily vote in the proportions of those that do. Indeed getting the floating voters to plump disproportionately for you is what winning elections is all about.

    So the relative proportions of the weighted numbers in YouGov’s data will be constant, but they won’t be so in the proportions that people voted in at the General Election. Most notably more people identify with Labour than Conservative, but this is because more people did back in 2010, it’s just that Labour identifiers didn’t vote for their Party in as high a proportion as Conservatives did.

    [1] It’s actually more complicated than this because, although most YouGov panelists were also members in 2010, there will be new joiners since and who may not fit the same profile. So the targets do need to adjusted to, for example, take into account that new people are more likely to say they are UKIP and less likely Lib Dem than people were back in 2010.

  13. Roger Mexico

    Thanks. Yes I knew that YG don’t weight by past vote. That was why I described those in the sample as “identifiers”.

    I take your points on the YG method being applicable to a “single GB political system”. I’ll now have to go and compare the YG weighted GB political identities to the 2010 GB election results, to see if the disparity is similar.

    However, it’s late and my mind may be clouded by constant readings of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to my grandson today. (I did sympathise with Wendy Alexander when she was criticised for quoting that excellent text in Parliament! :-) )

  14. Some suggestion circulating are that there are at least two further polls showing a bit of movement towards Yes – both to be released this weekend.

    Could be sweaty palms time for the UK Cabinet in Aberdeen.


  15. I always thought Chris Moyles WAS a used-car salesman.

    I’m pleased that discovering he wasn’t has saved me £290 million.

  16. Colin

    Only another £70bn/year of tax avoidance/evasion to go…

  17. @Colin

    “I always thought Chris Moyles WAS a used-car salesman.”

    The thing is, though, if he wasn’t a former BBC employee and DJ, but instead a large corporation, wouldn’t we me admiring, even lauding, his ingenious tax avoidance scheme?

    Not evading, you see, avoiding. I mean nobody likes paying their taxes, do they, and anybody who can find a legal way of avoiding them well, good luck to them.

    Isn’t that how it goes or am I missing something here?

    Maybe Sir Philip Green offered him some advice.

  18. @ Colin & Leftylampton

    There are huge numbers of tax avoiders. The names that appear in the papers are a very small type of a massive iceberg. Have you wondered why so many actors, sports personalities and also business people, only spend x number of days in the UK, when they have earned a large chunk of income in the UK. It is because they can then say they are resident of Switzerland or Monaco or USA for tax purposes.

    The UK tax authorities are a bit of a joke, because they appear to offer so many opportunies to avoid tax in a totally legal way. You just have to earn enough to pay for the accountant/lawyer who can help you minimise your tax liability. In the US, I just cannot see people getting away with this, where they seem to have effective laws which make some of this evasion rather than avoidance.

  19. CB11

    Well I was anticipating your general train of thought, but didn’t think anyone would actually articulate it.

    I love the name of the scam actually-“Working Wheels ” LOL.

    You forgot to mention CB that when it emerged in 2012 he had used the same legal offshore scheme as comedian Jimmy Carr, Moyles claimed it would breach his human rights if he could not keep his membership secret.

    …..anyway-it probably escaped your attention CB-but it wasn’t “legal”……that’s the whole point you see :-)

    As you say Moyles joins a long line of corporates, bankers, BBC types, so-called footballers, so-called entertainers & assorted Z List “celebs” caught sticking two fingers up to the Taxpayer & Licence Fee payer.

    I look forward to Paxo/Pesto/Panorama doing an in depth investigative job on these appalling people ………… ?

  20. R HUCKLE

    I agree-HMRC have been far too lax in the past.

    Someone seems to have put some lead in their pencil at long last. Hope they keep it up.

  21. tax is an emotive subject. it is portrayed as a left v right issue with the right being in favour of the rich and the left wanting to tax them more and more.
    then I see the argument that immigration has done much to benefit us.
    I am a life long conservative yet see no problem in the so called rich paying more tax but if you want to encourage rich high earning people to immigrate here then one must be competitive.
    the sort of comment one gets to hear on question time and the like implies it is disgraceful that people would leave this country because of the tax rates.
    so long as that is the level of understanding of humanity in a global market then god help us.
    I remember dennis healey and his boast that he would squeeze the rich until the pips squealed. didn’t they love it at the labour party conference? what did the so called rich do? they voted with their feet.

  22. R Huckle

    I agree with your comment about UK tax law complexity and it is further compounded by this use of ‘domicile’

    Domicile is a very specific thing and should not really be used as it is very difficult to change – much more difficult than nationality/citizenship for example, never mind residence

    If you understand this then you will see why the Lord Ashcroft domicile/non-domicile was of such interest. And also why some foreign residents would not want (or even be able) to become UK domiciled

    If taxation was based on citizenship (US approach) or residence (most other countries) then it would be easier. Linking it to domicile makes it much easier to avoid

  23. @COLIN

    “…..anyway-it probably escaped your attention CB-but it wasn’t “legal”……that’s the whole point you see :-)”

    Well, many of these schemes are on the woolly fringe between avoidance and evasion. Chris Moyles will have to pay tax and penalties plus he has no doubt paid large sums to ‘advisors’ and I’m delighted he was caught and challenged.

    However this contrasts with how most avoidance/evasion on the woolly edge is dealt with. The oft-cited scams which were dealt with outrageously leniently are of course Vodafone and Goldman Sachs but this latter is par for the course and generally we never hear about it. Of course Dave Hartnett is now busy advising PWC clients how to find the right side of the woolly edge (though – goodness me – not about UK taxes for a couple of months yet, that would be unethical).

    This will hang around Chris Moyles (and Jimmy Carr) like a bad smell for the rest of their lives, meanwhile people happily give business to Starbucks and Google who avoid/evade tax on an industrial scale.


    @”There are huge numbers of tax avoiders”

    450 in this one scheme !!

    “A published judgment from the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal named Moyles and two other men as having taken part in the “working with wheels” deal, which counted “450 fund managers, celebrities and other high earners between 2006 and 2008” as members.

    The scheme allowed members to claim that they had incurred large fees by working as second-hand salesmen, which they could then claim back against their own tax bills.

    Moyles’ self-assessment tax return for the financial year ending on 5 April 2008 – while he was still a presenter on BBC Radio One’s Breakfast Show – claimed that the DJ “had engaged in self-employment as a used car trader”.”


    Did you see Moyles Tweets on the verdict :-

    “‘I’m not a tax expert and acted on advice I was given. This was a mistake and I accept the ruling without reservation.I take full responsibility and have learnt a valuable lesson.”
    One can imagine him writing the Parody for his famous collection as we speak .

    Perhaps something like this :-

    I told a girl I can start right away
    And she said listen babe I got something to say
    I got no car and it’s breaking my heart
    But I’ve found a tax scam and that’s a start

  25. “I remember dennis healey and his boast that he would squeeze the rich until the pips squealed.”

    Except that he never said it. The closest he came was a speech in which he said that he would “squeeze property speculators until the pips squeak”.


    @” Of course Dave Hartnett is now busy advising PWC clients how to find the right side of the woolly edge”

    Exactly-a fine example of the best traditions of Public Service.


    @”This will hang around Chris Moyles (and Jimmy Carr) like a bad smell”

    Nah-you won’t notice the difference.

  28. LEFTY

    Ah-another devotee of Mr Murphy I see.

    As previously mentioned I always turn to this source before thinking too deeply about his opinions :-

    So I doubt its that big.

    Margaret Hodge’s Committe has done some work on Corporate tax evasion. HMRC have a number of their own too-a good deal lower than Ritchie’s it has to be said.

    Whatever-as long as HMRC pursue evasion & avoidance as rigorously as possible , and constantly revise the Tax Codes to close the loopholes which facilitate some of these schemes-that’s all I ask.

  29. “Whatever-as long as HMRC pursue evasion & avoidance as rigorously as possible , and constantly revise the Tax Codes to close the loopholes which facilitate some of these schemes-that’s all I ask.”

    But they don’t
    After all, tax avoiders/evaders are nice people who you might run into in Davos or Tuscany.

  30. @Colin – I would suggest you might be a little less dismissive of Richard Murphy on this issue.

    See this –

    HMRC admit that their own assessment of the tax gap is £35B (09/10). This is the difference between tax they collect, and the tax they believe they should collect, if all current tax legislation is correctly enforced.

    Given that the HMRC don’t actually know how much illegal activity there is, this is clearly an estimate only, and if HMRC believe the figure to be £35B, as this represents their own failure, there are many who believe this is an under estimation.

    On top of that, Murphy and others argues for changes in tax law, which he argues allow legal means to avoid tax. He describes these as part of his own calculated tax gap. On this basis, his figure of £70B in total doesn’t look particularly outlandish.

    I’ve read of a calculation by the IMF that suggested a comparable figure of around £90- £120B, which unfortunately I can’t lay my hands on today, but whether it’s £25B, £70B or £120B,it’s an awful lot of lost revenue.

    Even at the HMRC’s lowest estimate, we could eliminate the structural deficit pretty much entirely, without a single spending cut.

    This is why I have argued consistently for a very long time that the UK (and indeed, many other countries problems) have not been due to overspending, but under taxing.

  31. @Colin

    [snip] the case depends so much on the validity of both of the following two premises:
    1. The wealthy will be prompted into using tax avoidance measures that they don’t currently by any increase in marginal tax rates.
    2. Serious attempts to close tax avoidance loopholes are doomed to fail.

    I find Richard Murphy’s challenges to such thinking refreshing because he writes as a taxation accountant with deep knowledge of the practical operation of tax avoidance schemes. Anyway, it seems only fair to give a further link so that people can try and judge for themselves.

  32. @ Alec

    Where does this avoided tax end up. In the various low tax havens and reinvested in more schemes that avoid tax.

    There is an estimated $29 trillion dollars held in tax havens and many believe that this is a cautious estimate. I have seen various programmes on the finances of major corporations and the wealthy. They organise the finances in such a complicated way, that the various tax authorities would have to hire an army of foresic accountants.

    I noticed that a local housing development was being done under some investment trust which was based in the channel islands. No doubt the investors in this trust will earn their share of the profits, paying little or no tax.

    Meanwhile we have people with terminal cancer diagnoses being declared fit for work by ATOS, so that DWP don’t have to pay disability benefits.

    I just wish the people who attempt to avoid tax legally would realise that their decisions have consequences. It causes the government to have to make decisions, which they would never want to make.

  33. ALEC


    Neither of know what the real number is.

    In a sense I think it isn’t the point.

    The Tax Codes will always provide opportunities for creative tax planning-they can’t think of everything.
    But if they treated avoidance & evasion as a constant means of tightening tax law ( as well as retrieving lost Revenue) they would gradually squeeze these schemes to a minimum.

    I do not think the will has been there in HMRC for far too long.

  34. @Colin:

    “As previously mentioned I always turn to this source before thinking too deeply about his opinions :-

    Not sure you’ve thought too hard about it, though. The argument seems to be that tax evasion isn’t so significant because the ill-gotten gains are likely to be spent and so incur taxation. So my cash-in-hand avoids 20% VAT but if I spend that money and I may pay VAT on my purchases. At best that means the taxpayer is being swindled out of 80% of the original sum rather than 100%. Perhaps we should equally welcome bank robbery as it may put money otherwise wasting away in the vaults back into the economy.

  35. PHIL

    I don’t think this is a “left/right” thing at all.

    My guess would be that the arty / bbc / enertainer types involved in these schemes will not be natural Conservative supporters.

    It is a matter of writing tax law in Parliament, pursuing its collection & constantly closing loopholes.

    In my book any tax evasion is wrong-whoever is doing it-and tax avoidance just means the Tax Codes are too lax on a given point.

    Also-people who make a living out of criticising / making jokes about the tax avoidance of others add an extra dimension to their own avoidance/evasion-its called hypocricy.

    Moyles clearly falls into this category-and if you believe what is written here-so does Richard Murphy:-

    This problem should be approached on an a-political basis.

  36. Hi David Englehart,

    “I remember dennis healey and his boast that he would squeeze the rich until the pips squealed. didn’t they love it at the labour party conference? what did the so called rich do? they voted with their feet.”

    Sure, they vote with their feet because they can. It’s one of the problems with income tax. Avoidance being the significant other.

    As Alec says (and I have argued it myself here many times) we have a debt problem because we don’t tax the country’s wealth base sufficiently. We don’t act like a society. We act like a heap, with those at the top sitting on those on the bottom, and those in the middle either ruing the situation (like me) or being encouraged by politicians and their media friends to envy those at the bottom, who are somehow or other cheating on them!

    Wealth taxes tackle avoidance, provided you ensure you tax wealth, not isolated corners of wealth, and provided you can find ways to tax people unobtrusively. In that sense, PAYE is an unobtrusive tax. You can tax through the banks and through insurance companies.

    Voting with feet is just as easy to tackle, if there is a political will. We know where the overseas banks are, after all – and to pretend there are not very simple ways to ensure their co-operation is absurd. Mrs Thatcher had no trouble with the miners’ foreign accounts when she wanted to access them.

    Setting up the system isn’t something you can do overnight, but you could move to wealth taxing in small steps, so you try out the system before making wealth taxes your principal source of national revenue.

    So much wealth resides in so few hands that the overwhelming majority of those who visit this site would be as well or better off if the move was made. My gue(s)stimate is that a second by second levy through banks and insurance companies would need to raise £x over 100 years on every £x – but who knows that might be wildly off mark. Combine that with a ‘citizen’s wage’ (also brought in by small stages) and you have a society with unobtrusive government and a safety net for all. And money would circulate, that’s for sure.

  37. @ROGERH

    Good point. I’ll just nip down to Barclay’s and do my duty. I wonder if HMRC would assess my ‘winnings’ as a tax free windfall or income arising from a trade or profession.

    I think I’d better outsource the activity to my Cayman Islands subsidiary to avoid any doubt.

  38. @ Colin

    No tax avoidance is definitely not a left/right issue. It is perfectly natural that people don’t want to pay tax, if they can legally avoid it.

    I just think there needs to be more talk about greed, civic responsibilities and consequences of tax avoidance. Every time a senior member of the clergy talks about these issues, people on the right side of politics attack them. When instead they should be saying that there are serious issues that need to be tackled.

    Before Christmas, I seem to remember that a senior minister from the CoE made comment about the consequences of greed. It was met with a response by some that greed was good, because those who sought to make money, were the captialists that created opportunities for others to earn money. This really did miss the point.

  39. Re Populus

    When their new methodology was introduced this month, the recalled 2010 vote shares in their sample attracted a lot of attention, although AW counselled that we should wait for a pattern to establish itself. With five polls under their belt, that seems to me to be large enough to form a view.

    The total recalled 2010 votes are 2717 Con, 1919 Lab, 1873 LD. Assuming that “others” are unchanged from the GE, that gives a 2010 GB vote share of:

    Con 37.6% (+0.7% from actual 36.9%)
    Lab 26.6% (-3.1% from actual 29.7%)
    LD 25.9% (+2.3% from actual 23.6%)

    So basically the average Populus sample so far would have given the Conservatives an 11% lead in 2010, instead of the actual 7.2%.

    The latest poll has recalled vote shares very similar to that average. Given the sample, it’s all the more surprising for Lab to still be as much as 6% ahead.

  40. @R Huckle

    It would help if the government supported this campaign rather than leaving it to be dependent on voluntary donations.

  41. R HUCKLE

    Can you point me to Government criticism of a plea from The Church for more anti-avoidance measures.

    as a matter of interest can you tell me how record of this Government compares with that of its predecessor for SUCCESSFULL anti-avoidance/evasion measures?

    We do have to be clear what we are talking about here too :-

    There is Taxable Income under the Tax Codes of the day. This will always be a matter of political diifference & debate-ie who & what to tax & at what rate.

    There is Tax Avoidance-the organisation of Taxable Income in a way which minimises tax liability under the Tax Codes. This is legal until a Judge says it isn’t and/or the Tax Codes are altered to close the loophole.

    There is Tax Evasion which is failure to declare income which should be taxed under the Tax Codes of the day. This is illegal.

  42. @ Phil Haines

    Re: Populus

    Forgive my confusion, but are you suggesting that Populus are over-valuing the Tory VIs? If so, how do you set about explaining their 11% for Tories in Scotland, when YG give 30%. I know Statgeek gave me an answer (or sort of an answer) last night (c. 10.50 p.m. – see above) but despite his, and others’, attempts to square the circle I’m not sure I trust the outcome very much: unless there is much more volatility around than most people are acknowledging.
    Either that or the various polling groups are living in little worlds of their own – and that doesn’t make sense either if polls are supposed to give an idea of what is happening in the real world.
    Sorry if I’m being thick…..

  43. @COLIN

    It’s not difficult to understand the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion.

    Pretty well everyone agrees that tax evasion is undesirable: the law allows for you to pay penalties, fines, go to prison etc.

    Where the difference comes is around tax avoidance. The prevailing view amongst the well off is that it’s acceptable – nay, almost a duty – to legally minimise tax using whichever loopholes they can find or clever people can invent. In many cases it’s not worth HMRC – with its constantly reducing workforce, and the ludicrous costs of court action – pursuing dubious loopholes: they merely plug them in the next budget. On the odd occasion they pursue action, relatively small ‘customers’ like Chris Moyles will probably settle whilst the real big avoiders will up the ante by appeals and generally get off with a settlement of a variable proportion of the tax evaded.

    Some of us would argue that we need a major shift in the approach to this, both in terms of how aggressively these matters are pursued, and the penalties for transgressors. Why is Chris Moyles and the hundreds of other people involved in this attempted theft from the taxpayer not going to prison, together with the designers of this scheme who were (according to that impeccable source, The Daily Mirror) also responsible for a string of other attempted evasion schemes. At present the penalties do not form effective deterrence.

  44. @ Colin

    I think you missed my point in the last post. I was not commenting on government. I think it was the Archbishop of Canterbury who made remarks about greed and it was I think Douglas Carswell or some other rightwing Tory backbencher who made the comment that greed can be a good thing.

    As it happens I think this government have taken some measures to close down tax loopholes, which Labour did not do when in office. I also remember the government obtaining some tax revenues from Switzerland and doing deals with foreign governments to gain disclosure of UK citizens holding bank accounts within their territory.

    I have been pretty neutral in my comments on tax avoidance and politics. All parties in government should be doing more to ensure that they collect the tax that should be properly due.

  45. R Huckle

    “All parties in government should be doing more to ensure that they collect the tax that should be properly due.”

    I agree with the point you make. There is nothing wrong or immoral in avoiding tax, it is for Governments to ensure any loopholes are closed.

  46. []

    @ Guymonde

    If they went after everybody the courts would be constantly full. To save time & money they should be able to go after every named person involved in a scam like this and prosecute them as a group.

  47. @R HUCKLE

    Agreed all parties should do more. Agreed Lab should have done more when in power. Disagreed that this govt has done much – the Swiss thing was designed to look like closing a loophole without actually doing so – see Private Eye ad nauseam.

  48. @The Other Howard

    In a sense I agree. Parliament could legislate for all UK citizens to have a positive duty of good faith in managing their fiscal affairs to ensure that they pay the correct levels of tax. Finding language tight enough to deter avoiders, however, is provably beyond the skill of legislative draughtsmen.

    Ultimately, it depends on your view of society and government. Do you pay the higher rates your income suggests you should because you believe it to be your social and civic duty. Or do you do everything you can to avoid paying anything at all because you legally can. Bear in mind that many in the latter group are the harshest critics of those lower down the income scale who claim a few pounds of benefit to which they may not be entitled.

  49. It’s clear to me when tax avoidance is disclosed those who have not kept the spirit of the law should face jail.

    For instance, saying you are a used car dealer when you ain’t…jail. Massive investment in films that ain’t made, jail. Being revealed as account holder in Switzerland or Caymans, instead of “doing a deal” to collect some token amount…jail.

    The sort of deterrent effect that gets “rioters” jailtime for stealing bottles of water. At the moment there is no real recognition that not paying tax that is due is something that needs to be deterred.

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