The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is out here. Topline voting intentions are CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%.

These would have been perfectly normal a fortnight ago, but contrast with the average Labour leads of two points or so that we’ve had for the last week. All the normal caveats apply – it could be a sign that the post-budget narrowing of the polls is coming to an end and things are headed back to the pre-budget situation, or it could just be random sample error, and next week’s polls will be back to leads of one or two points. Wait and see.

YouGov also asked about European election voting intention, and found figures of CON 24%, LAB 32%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 23%, GRN 5%. Labour remain in the lead (though more convincingly than mid-week), the Conservatives and UKIP remain in a tight race for second place (though this time it’s the Conservatives who are narrowly ahead). Voting intention in a referendum on leaving the EU remains at 42% stay, 36% leave – the same as before the Nick v Nigel debate.

Most of the rest of the poll dealt with comparisons between how Ed Miliband and David Cameron are seen as leaders. The pattern is a familiar one, and one I’ve discussed here many times before – Cameron is seen as stronger, more decisive, clearer about what he stands for and more up to the job of PM; Miliband is seen as more in touch with ordinary people. We can’t easily quantify how much this helps the Tories or damages Labour. Miliband had rubbish ratings last year too and that didn’t stop Labour enjoying 10+ leads in the polls so it is cleary not a complete road block to success… but then, neither is anything else. There is no one, single explanation to voting intention, no one, single thing that leads to failure or success. Parties have won elections with unpopular leaders, they have won elections when behind on the economy – these things do matter, but they are all part of a package and can be outweighted by other things.

484 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 33, LAB 40, LD 9, UKIP 11”

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  1. Nah

    It’s a certain sign that Lab are about to go 40% plus for the foreseeable.


  2. Which elections were won by parties with unpopular leaders?

    I’m not doubting it, but none spring to my mind.

  3. David

    Margaret Thatcher

  4. “Which elections were won by parties with unpopular leaders?”


  5. Local elections: 2012, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001.

    European elections: 2004, 1999, 1989.

    General elections: 2005, 1979, 1970.

  6. I thought the Leave EU vote was always higher, so this is a shock.

  7. I agree with Bramley: the “was it all Gordon Brown’s fault” question was at best v clumsy & at worst loaded.

    What struck me most, however, was that 44% of Lab voters thought inheritance tax exemption should be increased to a £1.0 mill or abolished ; a response given by 53% of AB voters & 50% of C2DE ones, despite the prompt that this would cause higher taxes elsewhere.

    Talk about false consciousness . . .

  8. I think we are in the most interesting part of the parliament now, where the issues for the GE are being carved out.

    The budget was clearly an attempt by the Tories to make camp on the older voters territory, but I remain unconvinced they’ve done the necessary work here yet.

    Politics is about action and reaction, and when you seize an issue, you really need to own it, lock stock and barrel. Ed M was much closer to this with the energy price freeze, but things are rarely clear cut, and even here, the government has muddied the waters with reviews and alternative policies in place.

    The big budget issue was the annuities play, but I just don’t think Osborne did enough to capture this ground convincingly. He has no direct answer to those asking how this will make retirees better off. They have more flexibility, but with only £20m pledged to provide the required expert advice, all he has done is set up an even more confusing landscape, with no guarantee that anyone will actually benefit.

    Labour already appears to be thinking about linking this issue to the tax system, elderly care fees, and other improvements to pensions, so come 2015 I suspect the impacts of this budget on Tory fortunes will be decidedly limited.

    Labour is playing the tuition fees card this morning. Again, possibly fertile ground, but I don’t think the reheating of the £6K figure is going to be sufficient to own this particular issue. What made this a devastating policy for LD’s wasn’t the extra amount of charges, but the reversal of a promise.

    For this to be a real bonus for Labour, I think they need to move beyond fiddling with the amount, and start looking at a better system altogether. It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with.

    I don’t think we can exclude a Tory recovery based on the economy improving, nor can we confidently assume the economy will improve, or if it doesn’t, whether that automatically means Labour will benefit.

    What is much more relevant is how the parties grab the electoral landscape. Tories have made their play, and it’s been really quite weak. Clearly they are banking on a general feel good (feel better?) factor. Labour have shown a certain amount of boldness, but need to see this through.

    Opportunities all round, I think.

  9. I found this, which is a bit of fun. It tells you which EU grouping you fit into!

    Of course since there are no EPP parties in Britain for very odd reasons, it’s not totally brilliant, but still good.

  10. 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.

  11. Agreed, yesterday was nice. I was down in Manor working on a story – talking to a community group who work on redevelopment and give local kids something to do on a weekend. Sort of thing there need to be more of, really.

  12. I’m looking forward to Anthony’s thread headers in the week running up to the GE. He’ll still be saying “Time will tell”, “Wait and see”.

    Not sure he’s grasped the pollster’s advertising campaign idea that polls tell us something useful! :-)

    [I certainly will – right up until the last day. Then I can say “wait and see” in regard to whether they are correct ;) – AW]

  13. 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.

  14. Major changes between this poll and the last:

    RoS: Con -5, Lab +4

    North: Con -6, Lab +6

    Scot: Con +4, Lab +4

    My last post stand for now. The CBs are all over the place.

  15. @ Crossbat (FTP),

    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.

    That’s not true of Survation (Tories + 4, Labour + 1), Opinium (Tories + 2, Labour – 2) or YouGov (Tories + 2, Labour – 1). But even setting that aside I think you’re looking at it the wrong way.

    If I were a Tory strategist the question that would be keeping me awake at night is not “How much can we gain?” but “What is the Labour floor?” Because if it’s 36% and the incumbency effect doesn’t take the edge off in the marginals, they may as well pack up and go home- they’d need an unattainable 40% to be the largest party. Any poll that showed Labour dipping below that threshold would be immensely heartening because it would prove there was still a chance.

  16. David in France
    ‘Which elections were won by parties with unpopular leaders?

    I’m not doubting it, but none spring to my mind.’

    Ted Heath in 1970.

  17. TOH

    @”today’s YouGov which I suspect may an outlier”

    I found that halving of Lab 2010 DK/WNV this morning a bit dramatic. It’s effect alone is 2% pts of VI for Labour.

    I will be watching this one in next weeks poll.

    Meanwhile I agree with you TOH that general approval ratings, particularly on the economy are looking OK.
    I would rather have decent bricks in the wall of approval s , and a VI deficit to close, than the other way round.

  18. I’ve said it many times but I still believe that a majority of people have evolved their interaction with polls and polling visa vie the broad ‘voting intention question’. They no longer ponder ‘how will I vote if there was a general election tomorrow’ I believe a growing number ponder ‘what do I want this poll to say in the Sun tomorrow’! 2 very different questions. Only when the poll drills down to specific questions do you start to get a proper insight into how the person would really likely vote.

  19. Lovely to feel the sun at last after those months of rain.
    It’s bl**dy freezing here in Edinburgh!

  20. RICH

    Saw this this morning in the Indy.

    “Mr Denham, who will present his plan in parliament on Tuesday, does not believe these fees would need to be more than £4,000 a year, meaning students would graduate with far lower debts.

    He is expected to argue that the plans would not cost the taxpayer extra, because they would lead to fewer debt write-offs. ”

    Made me smile.

    I had visions of thousands of small businesses thinking-hey what a great idea-charge customers less & we get lower bad debts………… fact if we charge them nothing we have zero bad debts. lol

  21. Rich
    ‘The hypocrisy on tuition fees is breathtaking. Labour introduced them…’

    Are you seriously suggesting that the level of fees imposed is irrelevant? There is a big difference between – say – £3000pa and £9000pa.
    Personally I would like to see the fortunate graduates of earlier decades – such as myself – forced to make a contribution by reducing the Personal Allowance of pre -1995 graduates by £1000pa.

  22. @ Colin

    Not disagreeing that the Sunday Time was a definite outlier but I think the general improvement in the Tory vote after the budget was down to the same thing- ie less 2010 Con DK/WNV, maybe a little bit down to getting back a few UKIP votes.

    @ TOH

    I agree with the first paragraph in the post about Lab supporters reading too much into one poll and declaring the bounce ended but as you say I think this is just down to relief that the danger of a Yougov poll showing a Con lead any day now has become less likely.

  23. @ Colin

    I had visions of thousands of small businesses thinking-hey what a great idea-charge customers less & we get lower bad debts………… fact if we charge them nothing we have zero bad debts. lol
    Except loads of businesses do give customers free stuff when they believe the give away will generate future benefits. lol, lol

  24. 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.

    If all this is true, why have Labour had a consistent poll lead? It doesn’t add up.

  25. @Bernard

    Some ABTs shifted to Lib in 2010, and shifted to Lab after tuition fees. That’s my guess.

  26. Tuition fees (if we must have them):
    Year 1 – £3000
    Year 2 – £5000
    Year 3 – £7000
    I think this would better reflect the actual costs of providing the courses & make it less onerous on students who realise they’ve made a mistake & want to switch courses or drop out. I don’t ‘get’ the flat fee thing at all.

  27. @ Colin,

    Before you get too excited over two crossbreaks, the average Labour DK post-budget (excluding today’s poll) is 9. So Friday’s poll was exactly as far off of the mean as today’s.

    @ Amber,

    It would be warmer in an independent Scotland.

  28. SHEVII
    I wasn’t saying that it is an outlier-merely commenting on the dramatic change in one sub-group.

    I am aware of AW’s warnings about the validity of small crossbreaks.

    Opinion Polling must be the only field of mathematics in which all the component parts could be wrong, but the sum total is taken to be correct.

    Still-it’s all we’ve got-onward to the next & the next……..

  29. @Colin – “I had visions of thousands of small businesses thinking-hey what a great idea-charge customers less & we get lower bad debts…”

    Indeed, although this is the precise same logic applied by Laffer curvers when they tell us lower taxes will reap more income.

    Your amusement should also be tempered by the fact that we do this time actually have hard evidence that Denham’s logic is correct. This government put fees up substantially, and as a result are talking less income, because of debt right offs.

    Where I think you could be justifiably somewhat amused, is in the nature and reason of the write offs, and whether this would help Labour’s policy. This is where I think they still have a problem.

    Denham is correct that there would be lower write offs under his plan, but equally without other changes, there would also be reduced income, so the situation might be no better. This is because the write offs aren’t caused by an individuals actual level of debt, but by the fact that they haven’t crossed the repayment threshold of £21,000 pa income. Unless Labour address this, I suspect simply reducing fees won’t do a great deal of good.

    If we are going to stick with fees, I would think a reduced level of fees, plus a lower starting threshold and a lower repayment rate would be better. That way, more people would pay back, reducing bad debts.

  30. @Crossbat

    I disagree with the suggestion that the lower Labour lead has been mainly due to a fall in Labour’s vote rather than an uplift in Tory support. Most of the evidence appears to point to a shift from UKIP back to the Tories. With the exception of Friday’s poll YouGov has not shown Labour falling below 37%.. Populus also scored Labour at 37% on Friday – the same % as 5 weeks ago. ComRes did show some decline in Labour’s vote but it still remained a fair bit higher than in January. Which leaves us with Opinium!

  31. @ Colin

    I’m not saying I agree with the argument on either 50% tax rate or Student fees but surely the principle is the same.

    A lot of argument that the 50% tax rate brings in no extra income and a lot of argument that the level of write offs of student fees means it is barely worth imposing them in the first place.

    I find one aspect of modern politics a little bit obscene. There have been so many policies over the last 30 years (both Lab and Tories) that are based on passing the buck to the next generation for short term gain. Examples on both sides of the fence.

    – Sale of council houses without replacement now leading to a shortage of council houses (might have happened anyway with population increase but at least not to the same level) and government having to pay a much higher cost of benefits to private landlords.

    – Largely finance based (rather than skills/knowledge based) PFI leading to lower costs in the short term for the machine that goes beep but much higher leasing type costs in the long term.

    – Asset booms and government borrowing. Making the bust more difficult to manage.

    – Currently the pensions reforms with less taxation collected in the long term.

    The student loans may well be another example where the debt can be sat in the accounts as an asset and only has to be dealt with down the line by a future government when they have to write it off.

  32. @ Spearmint

    It would be warmer in an independent Scotland.
    And only rain when we’re all indoors. :-)

  33. @ Colin

    Well I was definitely saying the poll is an outlier- Lab lead is definitely not 7! As for your sub breaks I thought that was as valid as any other explanation.

  34. ALEC

    This was the bit I smiled at.

    @”He is expected to argue that the plans would not cost the taxpayer extra, because they would lead to fewer debt write-offs. ”

    It is nonsense of course-the taxpayer currently funds unpaid loans. Denham reduces unpaid loans by reducing fees-leaving who to fund the reduced University income if it isn’t the taxpayer?

    Actually other reports have talked of a £1.7 bn pa funding requirement as a result of reduced fees-so maybe EB will explain it to Denham ?

  35. @Bernard
    See my comment previous to your question. The broad voting intention question I believe is loosing its value.

  36. @ Colin

    It is nonsense of course-the taxpayer currently funds unpaid loans. Denham reduces unpaid loans by reducing fees-leaving who to fund the reduced University income if it isn’t the taxpayer?
    More students. The high level of fees reduces the student population.

  37. Maybe there is some confusion because of the impending European Elections. How people vote in those Elections vis a vis Council and General Elections may be different things.

  38. SHEVII

    @”Lab lead is definitely not 7!”

    Isn’t it ?-how do you know?

    It might be an extreme end of MOE indicating a return to 5% ish-or it might be complete bo**ocks.

    Lovely to feel the sun at last after those months of rain.
    It’s bl**dy freezing here in Edinburgh!

    -You Should know Scotland only Has 2 Seasons Winter and June.

  40. My idea on tuition fees is make as many courses as possible two years to save money. I reckon 80% of course at least could do this. I know it’s a rights of passage etc, but my European business & economics degree could have easily been done in 2 years, as could all the majority of close friends who were either on the same course or some of them did media studies and psychology.

  41. I see no reason for tuition fees; if the courses are worth doing – in a business sense – they will pay more in general taxation. If we need them for a social sense (nurses, teachers) then general taxation should fund them.

    Answer? reduce the percentage going to tertiary. And drop the school leaving age back to 15; forcing people to stay at school is ridiculous.

  42. It’s been suggested before that the public may not view the economy from their own perspective but the City based banking view forced down our throats for 5 years now. That and government debt; which is probably fairer.

    However Labour do better when it comes to people’s personal incomes: hence the poll lead and why the debate has swung in that direction.

    If the Coalition were actually paying off the debt it would be different and I think as a government they have mismanaged the cuts and launched some unpopular costly and failed reforms. They’ve given Labour the argument basically.

    Though I suppose a lot of the lab lead still goes back to the Omnishambles so maybe there’s just a bit of “new gov” vs “experienced gov” hence why labour are trusted on income as they have a history in it.

  43. @ Colin

    Read it again & think about what it actually says which is:

    Data published by Ucas, the university admissions clearing house, shows that four weeks after A-level results were published, the number of UK and EU students admitted to study for undergraduate degrees stands at 446,000 for the 2013-14 academic year – a 9% rise on the previous year [when applications from UK students had plummeted compared to the penultimate year when UK (not UK + EU) had been 465,000].

  44. bernard

    I suspect that at the moment, although they believe those things, most voters don’t feel better off. If the recovery continues as forecast, and wage increases (at least in the Private sector) are above inflation they they should start to feel better off and then IMO the predicted voting pattern will change, the Tories and LibD’s will go up and Labour down.

  45. @ Jonboy
    A bit late, but
    “I thought the Leave EU vote was always higher, so this is a shock.”
    I think you are confusing “I want to leave the EU” with “I want a referendum”
    The latter is often reported in the media as though everyone wanting a referendum would vote ‘out’. eg as 70% support for UKIP view.

  46. @ Colin

    You pointed to a Graun article & I will now point you to a Telegraph article (argh, shoot me now!!!).

    As I’ve said before vis-à-vis Scotland not charging fees, the EU need to sort out this education issue pronto.

  47. RICH
    “The hypocrisy on tuition fees is breathtaking. Labour introduced them…”

    They are not proposing abolition of fees – just reducing them from the level currently being charged.

    Hypocrisy is pledging not to introduce them, sign a few boards whilst getting media coverage of same event & then going right ahead & doing it anyway.

  48. @Rich On Hypocrisy charges I like it when Politicians are flexible enough to change their minds when the facts change. Too many politicians of all sides are so ideologically fixated that they won’t waver even when their belief goes splat against reality.

    On tuition fees I can understand why they were introduced, and you can even make an argument for why they should be £9k. Problem is that the higher level has now delivered exponential rates of non-repayment which has to be the worst of all options – students in unpayable debt, the government taking bigger losses and the universities losing funding. Acoording to the government figures the default rate is 50% higher than forecasted – the policy doesn’t work never mind how politically damaging it has been for the LibDems.

    So there are definitely votes to be won or lost on this issue and politically that’s where charges of hypocrisy are hypocritical. All parties want to win and the sad reallity is I trust all of them to sincerely lie to me if they think I might change my VI and vote for them

  49. @Oldnat

    I’m looking forward to Anthony’s thread headers in the week running up to the GE. He’ll still be saying “Time will tell”, “Wait and see”.

    AW has stated the view that Lab will get a higher % of the vote in 2015 cf 2010 [certainly not inevitable for governments turned into oppositions always achieve. I.e., it is more than a platitude.]

    To believe this probably entails some sense of what the minimum increase in their vote share is likely to be.

    The point of making precise predictions about vote shares eludes me: more attracted to the idea of forecasting what the parties’ minimum vote share might be. The floor rather than the ceiling.

    Clocks changed today. Will this become permanent in England if Yes wins?

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