The fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer is now out and shows the same sort of narrowing we’ve seen in other post-budget polls. Topline figures with changes from a fortnight ago are CON 32%(+2), LAB 33%(-2), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 15%(-1).

The only other poll I’m expecting overnight is the usual YouGov/Sunday Times poll.


141 Responses to “Opinium/Observer – CON 32, LAB 33, LD 10, UKIP 15”

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  1. I wouldn’t quite break out the champagne just yet on the Labour side, following the latest ST poll. [snip] But it is out of line with a week’s worth of polls, and while it may indicate the start of the resumption of normal service, it could be just a blip.

    The last week’s YouGov’s were subjected to a very interesting analysis by Spearmint in the previous thread. She identified three components. Two of these are 2010 Tories returning from Don’t Know and similarly from UKIP. Both are things we have seen before following high profile political events. It’s a sort of ‘reality bites’ effect where people who are basically loyalists, but a bit disillusioned, stop flirting with a protest vote or abstention and admit to themselves that they will be voting as usual. Barring an outstandingly disastrous election campaign, exactly the same will happen in the run up to the General Election. This is something that tends to happen to all governing parties, but YouGov’s daily polls give us the opportunity to see when it happens during a parliament as well – only to ebb away as the effect of the event wanes.

    The third factor was identified as a “reduction in LD to Lab defectors”:

    You can really see it on the Lib Dems’ graph, where there’s been a huge bounce in retention. Just look at those red and yellow lines dovetail, whee!

    Spearmint doesn’t identify a cause, but I suspect that this is due to the increase in the income tax threshold in the Budget. We know from polling that (uniquely) this is a policy that is both very popular and associated with the Lib Dems in the minds of the public. It was trailed before budget day and there seems an associated rise in Lib Dem VI that happened before the actual announcement. Last Sunday’s Leaders’ ratings showed the biggest jump for Clegg rather than Cameron (nett up 9 versus 5).

    Defections from Labour since the Budget may have been to DKs rather than completely back to the Lib Dems and these voters may feel that fulfilling one pledge doesn’t in the end over-rule all the other failures. So again this may be temporary.

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  2. @Roger Mexico

    Yep, good spot by Spearmint and well flagged up by you. One wonders if Labour – having spotted the bounce in LD retention too – have decided to unveil their tuition fee plans in response…

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  3. Good Morning.
    Apologies.
    It was Mr NAMELESS who said: They will be cheering in Brewers’ Green tonight.
    That reminded me of Bill McClaren’s line at the Rugby.
    I misread it as yours.
    Meanwhile: ‘They’ll be cheering the YG poll in the proletarian bars in Primrose Hill this morning.

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  4. @ Amber Star

    “Welcome back. Jim Murphy was out & about at the Labour Party’s Scottish Conference last weekend – if you’d been there you would definitely have got to meet him.
    Maybe next year…. :-)”

    Lol. That sounds totally awesome! Maybe I can come and observe some day. Or maybe he’ll come to the next Democratic National Convention (Miliband was there last time) and I’ll be at one again and we can meet then.

    I had a great time three weeks ago at the California Democratic Party Convention. A Congressman even bought me a drink at the hotel lobby at the Bonaventure late Saturday night. That was pretty cool. Well actually he offered to buy me a drink but I don’t drink so he wound up getting me a water (and himself a water too). Still pretty cool though.

    It was a good weekend. I wanted the Congressman to gain the coveted CDP endorsement for his reelection vote (not guaranteed and heavily contested). And then in my State Senate District, I wanted a “No Endorsement” vote which one candidate was favored to get. I was covertly whipping votes for another candidate (who I’ve now got as a client) with the goal of getting a no endorsement vote. Well, in the Congressional race, it was hard fought but the Congressman got an official endorsement (got 4 votes two years ago, got 37 this time). And in the State Senate race, the party voted for no endorsement.

    Anyway, I want you and Billy Bob (and Old Nat) to know something. Henry is not retiring because Congress is irreparably broken and beyond repair. He’s retiring because the 405 freeway is irreparably broken and likely beyond repair. Ditto for the 101, the 10, the 90, and maybe even the 105 too. He’s going to be 75 this year and in this crazy new district that is almost impossible to get around, it wears hard on the body. And because of the new competitive lean of the district (he’s the last FDR Democrat representing what is arguably the wealthiest Congressional District in the United States), he had to spend a lot more time in his district and campaigning. I’m still sad but I’m recovering.

    I’m at least taking advantage of a situation I’m unhappy about.

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  5. @ Billy Bob

    Okay, this may be better posed to Virgilio since he’s used to the French style election system. But I am concerned about something here and I want to get your thoughts.

    There are 18 candidates running. 10 are Democrats, 3 are Republicans, 1 is a Green, 1 is a Libertarian, 3 are Decline to State. In June 2012, Henry received 45% of the vote. The sole Republican in the race received 15% of the vote. But then there was an “Independent” who was a former Republican and still truthfully a Republican (he’d donated over 20 million to the GOP over his lifetime) who received 24% of the vote and made it into the runoff. If you combine his numbers and the Republican’s, you get to 39%. Henry and two other liberal Democrats running combine for 50%.

    The party has endorsed one candidate, State Senator Ted Lieu who is a paper tiger. But there is plenty of money and backing for Wendy Greuel. And some of these other minor Dems in the race are quite accomplished, quite talented, and not backing down. They’re running and they’re in it to win it. One of the Decline to State candidates I previously mentioned (the licensed joyologist) is spending a LOT of money, has a huge national following, hundreds of followers serving as volunteers, and is running from the left even though she’s kinda pro-life.

    Now the way the system works here now, all these candidates are on the ballot together and the top two finishers in June, regardless of party, will advance to the runoff in November.

    Can you see why I’m a little bit frightened? Would you be?

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  6. Comparing last Sunday 20 to 21st March with this Sunday 27 to 28th March.

    The differences I can see in the cross breaks are

    Lab have lower DK/WV 12 to 8% but Cons higher 12 to 14%

    Lower Lab to Con 2010 voters

    Lower LD to Con 2010 voters but higher LD to Lab 2010 voters

    These cross breaks look similar to the situation before the narrowing of the lead, but whether it is a return to that time, it is too early to say.

    the public opinion economic situation has improved from -27 to -24 since last week and personal financial situation from -19 to -17 ( strangely this is because Lab supporters are happier, LD and UKIP more unhappy)

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  7. Well I went to bed with Lab struggling to get most seats and woke up to a Labour landslide.

    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

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  8. http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/yxi0qcxhxl/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140328.pdf

    Todays poll would not have appeared to be out of line a month ago. It is now ! Looking at the polling data, it appears that YG found more Labour women around the country, than they found Tory men living in the Midlands and South of England.

    Look at the data for those aged below 60.

    18-24 Lab 49%, Con 27%
    25-39 Lab 46%, Con 30%
    40-59 Lab 41%, Con 32%

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  9. The next week is going to show where the norm is. As noted by Mr Huckle this ST poll fits neatly back into the pre-budget polling, but is also at the MOE stops vs the post-budget 1 or 2% leads.

    We saw several bursts of the gap closing over the last 12 months, even giving neck and neck at one point. On each of those occasions a few polls later the lead was restored to status quo ante and that is what this ST poll also shows.

    However. Its one poll. And it’s MOE to the 1% lead polls. So either the lead is permanently narrower. Or its not……

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  10. Big disappointment for Con supporters & a relief for Labour.

    Back to “waiting for more Polls”.

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  11. @ Roger Mexico,

    Thanks for flagging up my post- you have warmed the cockles of my little analytical heart, as I feared it had been lost on the battlefields of the Crimea.

    Re. this morning’s YouGov, Lab DKs are a little low and the LD -> Lab crossbreak is a little high, but none of the numbers are ridiculous outliers for the pre-budget norms. As Ian says, we’ll have to wait to see whether the poll is an outlier on the new norms or it marks the beginning of the end for the budget bounce.

    (Although Team Red shouldn’t be too cheered by a quick reversion to the pre-Budget mean, if we’re blaming the bounce on the overwhelmingly positive coverage of Osborne’s pension changes in the rightwing press. If good press can produce a 3% bounce that means the papers are still influencing voting intention, and we all know what the coverage is going to look like in the run-up to the election.)

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  12. @Roger Mexico – “Spearmint doesn’t identify a cause, but I suspect that this is due to the increase in the income tax threshold in the Budget. ”

    I doubt this very much. There was a poll which I now can’t find, showing what issues people remembered from the budget. The largest score (27%) was ‘nothing’, with the annuities move second at 21%. From memory, the tax threshold thing was way down at 9%. In other words, 91% of voters were not aware they would be less than £2 per week better off after tax in fifteen months time.

    On the general picture, last night was one of those rare, genuinely amusing moments on UKPR. Closing polls, and a sudden string of ‘how long until crossover’ posts, followed by the deflation of return to normal.

    As with the immediate post budget polls, people were too quick to stamp their world view onto events. Equally, when these close polls revert to the norm, posters should refrain from suggestions that Labour are on the up.

    I return to my analysis of the budget. It was a neutral, quiet, budget, offering little in terms of practical benefits for voters, that was spun beyond it’s internal reality. The annuities move was eyecatching, but analysis suggests it’s going to reduce pensioner incomes by reducing annuity rates. In isolation, it does very little, and is possibly harmful, but whatever the effects, it will become absorbed into the landscape, 15 months out from the GE and be more or less meaningless next May. It’s more or less meaningless now, if YG are to be believed.

    Much ado about nothing, as someone once said.

    By contrast, now that Osborne has ‘dealt with’ pension issues, Labour has an open field to design all manner of much more beneficial policies, now that Tories have freed the path to unlocking annuities. My suspicion is that Ed will end up looking rather strong in this area, thanks to the tactical genius of Osborne.

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  13. @ Alec,

    My suspicion is that Ed will end up looking rather strong in this area

    Well, he certainly left himself complete freedom of movement. *grumble*

    For what it’s worth, my theory for the increase in LD retention is that Osborne set expectations so low after 2012 that any budget that doesn’t strike progressive types as actively malicious toward the poor now appears cuddly by contrast, and uneasy Lib Dems therefore feel like they have the freedom to return home from Labour. It’s not that they necessarily know about the income tax threshold, they just know he didn’t impose a new bedroom tax or lower the 45p tax rate.

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  14. It looks as though Tuition Fees are going to be a policy battleground for the second election running. The economic reality of the current policy not saving the taxpayer money as now admitted by ministers make for all kinds of scenarios.

    Tuition Fees are widely seen to have had a big VI impact – boosting the LibDems before the last election, then becoming a millstone after the pledge was reversed. If as is being reported Labour are going to camp on what last time was LibDem territory, what does this do to VI switching between the two and what might the reaction be of governing parties?

    Let’s not get into the politics of the policy (or I’ll end up in moderation again) – but fore me there are various totemic issues which can still have a significant impact on VI. How willing/desperate the parties are to deploy them may well depend on whether we’re reverting to the pre-budget norm or whether the new norm is a smaller lead.

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  15. Also, since we’re on pensions again, can someone explain to me why it’s a problem for the state that Osborne’s reforms may have freed people’s pension pots to be raided for their means-tested social care?

    I can see why if you are a rich pensioner who would like to continue being a rich pensioner in old age this is a big problem for you personally.

    What I don’t understand is why some people [] seem have a problem with Osborne enabling this kind of redistribution to pay for a service everyone agrees is catastrophically underfunded. This seems like exactly the sort of thing Labour should love- a stealth tax on rich people to fund a vital state service, imposed by a Tory Chancellor so they won’t get the blame when people get upset. Is there something I’m missing here or are people just complaining about this rather Brownesque policy because it was Osborne who came up with it?

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  16. I thought care costs were capped at some level around £77,000 or thereabouts? If so freeing up pension pots won’t affect the rich as the amount they pay is capped.

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  17. Labour 2010 WNV/DKs have fallen by nearly 50% in this mornings poll vs the previous one :-

    14% to 8%

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  18. Spearmint,

    I think it’s much as the Tories would have approved of Brown’s change to corporation tax in the late 1990s if they’d introduced it (encouraging investment and efficiency etc.) as one could imagine Lawson (who abolished life assurance premium tax relief) doing, in part to pay for tax cuts which in 1984 largely benefited low-earners and small-scale investors.

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  19. On the general picture, this morning was one of those rare, genuinely amusing moments on UKPR. A new poll appears with a 7 point Labour lead and suddenly the polls of the last week disappeared as if by magic.
    Back to reality, today’s YouGov poll will be pleasing to Labour supporters who showed signs of panic, at least on here. It will also be disappointing to Tories who have been reading too much significance into the Budget bounce. The budget was relatively neutral but generally perceived favourable by business and voters, and fair by voter’s, which is the best the Tories could expect in the current economic climate. It also clearly increased the voter’s perception of Tory (and Lib Dem) economic competence compared to Labour.
    Looking at the detail of today’s YouGov which I suspect may an outlier the following is of note.
    Government approval is still below -20 at -18 better than the last YouGov.
    Tories are back to second place in the Euro elections question, but Labour have increased their lead.
    Cameron doing well or badly, no change at -9. EdM doing well or badly, further decline to -33.
    Farage doing well or badly, improved up to 50 which is +20, clearly seen the best performing, party leader.
    Best Prime Minister DC 36, EDM22.
    Best ChancellorGO 28, EDB 17.
    Trust on the economy C32, L23.
    Most to blame for the economic problems Lab 41 Coalition 12. This is as bad for Labour as I can remember.
    Most the questions on Ed M show an improvement in his ratings which will please Labour voters but he is still rated -31 on being up to the job of Prime Minister.
    So something for everybody in the detail.
    The weather is too good to sit in doors at a computer so of to do some more gardening. Yesterday was glorious and my wife and I did a 7.5 mile walk. Lovely to feel the sun at last after those months of rain.

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  20. “@ nickp

    I thought care costs were capped at some level around £77,000 or thereabouts? If so freeing up pension pots won’t affect the rich as the amount they pay is capped.”

    Yes they will be capped at £72k, but there will be additional costs on top of this. If there is money available, people will have to pay cash and there will be no wait until any property is sold.

    The £72k cap would not even cover 2 years in an average care home at the moment.

    Here is a BBC article on care fee capping.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24534268

    I had a feeling that the government pension reforms were not about choice, but to free up money, so people spent it , rather than to invest in any form of pension. Many people now reaching 55 will cash in what they can, to pay off debts, to help family and so they have cash to meet day to day living costs. In 20+ years, we could see many of these people living off a basic state pension.

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  21. @Alec
    “There was a poll which I now can’t find, showing what issues people remembered from the budget.”

    It was Populus.

    https://twitter.com/PopulusPolls/status/447042985608224768/photo/1

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  22. Colin,

    That plays into the suspicion that Lab voters not particularly enthused by EM might panic and return to the fold if they see the Tories doing well. No way of asking them, mind.

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  23. I think the problem for the state is that people might blow their pension pots (or, more likely, get conned by poor “advice”) and then end up living on state benefits.

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  24. It would have been good to see the 2013 tracker questions for Cameron – omitting them makes today’s poll appear rather partisan in my opinion.

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  25. Also, naming Gordon Brown/George Osborne on the ‘who to blame for state of economy’ is unusual isn’t it ?

    Is this supposed to be asking about when Brown was PM or is it referring to when he was the Chancellor ?

    Most odd & might almost be viewed as deliberately pointing towards a specific answer.

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  26. I don’t think Labour particularly want to fight the 2015 election on the basis of tuition fees. It opens far too many opportunities for their opponents to say “But YOU introduce tuition fees!”. I suppose Caroline Lucas would enjoy Labour bringing up tuition fees a lot…

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  27. I suspect who introduced fees originally is pretty immaterial to the students who were small children when they were introduced. Moreover, Ed Miliband has, even if you accept nothing else, done a good job at distancing himself from New Labour.

    The damage that would be done by, for example, Natalie Bennett making that allegation would be accounted for and more by the shoring up of the student vote and having a stick with which to beat the Lib Dems.

    Depends what they want to do with fees, really. A graduate tax will be difficult to counter since it costs about the same but doesn’t have such a stigma attached as £54000 of debt. Alternative ideas I’ve heard are lowering fees a bit, but raising the threshold substantially.

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  28. A proposed reduction from £9,000 to £6,000 pa according to the R4 news.

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  29. Hang on, that’s been policy for ages…

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  30. Mr Nameless,

    But those students aren’t much of a proportion of the population, and are a very small proportion of possible new voters for Labour.

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  31. “Mr Miliband is also alleged to be thinking of using any cut in what students have to pay as the first step towards an eventual scrapping of the whole tuition fees system and its replacement by a tax on graduates.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/a-labour-government-would-cut-tuition-fees-by-at-least-3000-a-year-9223902.html

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  32. Agreed, but in a tight election every vote you can get out…

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  33. @Colin
    “Labour 2010 WNV/DKs have fallen by nearly 50% in this mornings poll vs the previous one :-
    14% to 8%”

    @MrNameless
    “Colin,
    That plays into the suspicion that Lab voters not particularly enthused by EM might panic and return to the fold if they see the Tories doing well. No way of asking them, mind.”

    Interesting observations and maybe a suggestion that the anti-Tory sentiment (ABT) is still alive and well amongst a significant proportion of the electorate. It may even be trumping the lack of enthusiasm for Miliband and Labour which will be some solace to the party’s loyalists come election time. However, this is no reason or excuse for Labour inertia because in these times of widespread voter apathy the big prize could well go ultimately to the party offering a bold and different vision of what sort of country we could be. The Left usually have better tunes to play if it becomes an election like that but if it’s a debate about who do you think will manage the status quo better, then the Tories will have the edge. But do we like the status quo? Will patching up a broken economy be enough to persuade the voters to give the bodgers and the fixers another go or will they risk a punt on somebody offering a different sort of economy altogether? Therein may lie the keys to Number 10. Can Miliband and Cruddas pitch Labour’s policies on distinctively different ground? The next 6 months will tell us, by which time, I think, the die for May 2015 will have been cast.

    But it does take us back to that intriguing debate about just how weak the Conservative electoral position may be. These recent post-budget polls have been interesting and I can understand the pleasure they have given Tory followers who have grown used to lagging well behind Labour in the polls, but their enthusiasm should be tempered. The narrowing leads, where and when they’ve occurred, have been due to serious dips in the Labour VI. There has been no Tory surge that I’ve discerned anywhere, and this after a budget that has been more or less universally acclaimed as a political triumph. Tee good news has pushed at a string again in terms of Tory support

    The recent polls could be summarised as follows. Tories doing slightly less badly, Labour shedding some support and Lib Dems and UKIP more or less as you were. DK and Won’t Vote party doing well.

    Not very dramatic is it, and I go back to my earlier post; maybe the big story is how poorly BOTH the Tories and Labour are doing.

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  34. Re student fees
    Lab have a consistent lead in the <25 age group but as we know they are relatively unlikely to vote.
    Something which a) they like and which b) is a genuine difference between the parties might have quite an impact

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  35. The hypocrisy on tuition fees is breathtaking. Labour introduced them… There is a very good section in Blair’s book on why they did it, and I must say its very compelling and excellently written. In reality the institutions were on their knees and falling behind American and Asian Unis, so something had to happen, either massive Govt subsidies, continued complete unfairness of charging overseas students ten times UK students (likely to eventually lead to the courts), or introduce higher fees that reflected costs. If you want a better education than others, with the higher income that brings, then you should pay for it. Ironically it’s quite a socialist argument at heart, conveniently ignored of course.

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  36. @ Roger Mexico
    ‘Well the result of the 2010 GE was ’36% plays 29%’’

    No it was not . In GB the result was 37% plays 29.7%.

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  37. @Rich

    Is it hypocrisy to change policies to fit fresh circumstances or to learn from experience? Much worse for us all if governments stick to policies that have been revealed as flawed (rail privatisation and bus deregulation come to mind). Were the Tories hypocritical or pragmatic to embrace the NHS in the 1950s?

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  38. @Rich

    Why should our students pay to educate foreign students on the cheap? Is a counter argument to yours. For Lab whose 1997 mantra was ‘Education Education Education’ tuition fees was IMO a worse betrayal than Iraq. How do we build a great economy unless we have highly educated and skilled people? Thank goodness we have no fees in Scotland another reason to vote Yes.

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  39. Why is it a reason to vote yes (or no) when those powers are already devolved?

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  40. @Rogerh

    Because the Labour, Lib and Cons all have a national policy of tuition fees – so they can tell their junior partners ie SLAB to adopt that policy. In fact wthe SLAB leader was veering that way on universal benefits prior to the referendum campaign. So even with SNP opposition it is possible that tuition fees could be introduced in Scotland. If those three parties were independent of the rUK party then Lab and Lib definitely would never adopt the policy and very likely the Cons wouldn’t either.

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  41. Good morning all. I’ve been out of touch over the weekend, so won’t comment on the numbers coming through on Opinium/Observer and YouGuv/Sunday Times, but if anyone from Opinium is reading this could we please have some ‘regional’ breakdowns on VIs? An overall % is quite useless unless we know how if effects more local areas (e.g., as you might expect from me, Scotland, but the principle is the same for other parts of GB).

    @Anthony
    Having said I won’t comment on the YouGuv poll, it is interesting that Labour’s lead is restored more or less across the board. Is this due to a change in method? Do you have a genuinely ‘random’ sample or a large group of regular pollees, a proportion of which is asked each day? You have probably answered this in the past many times, but being someone of short memory and little brain…….

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