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. Alec

    Pretty much, it makes as much sense as negotiating over allowing them to use the lb.
    What those in favour of a currency union want is a new set of relationships between the UK and an independent Scotland. It won’t be the same relationship as before so it isn’t about them “keeping” anything.

    If the UK post independence decides these relationship are not financially or politically in it’s interest, that’s up to our country to decide. Equally even if it were negotiated and Scotland decided the fiscal straightjacket which was required of it was not in it’s interest it would be up to them.

    I don’t see any of the Westminster parties changing their mind, nor it passing a referendum in the UK post independence.

    It leaves the Scots 3 options post independence

    1 An informal usage of the pound/Indepependent currency pegged to the pound.

    2. Join the Eurozone (it’s quite possible if they want EU membership they will have to take this unless the Scot’s will be able to negotiate a “get out clause)

    3.Create an independent floating currency of their own.

    All 3 options I’m sure are possible, I just hope we don’t get to the situation if there is a Yes vote, a majority of those voting Yes were counting on a currency union that didn’t come to fruition.

    Post independence there will be a whole swathe of treaties between our countries detailing our future relationship, whether currency is part of that will be a part of negotiation but it seem clear how the UK feels about the idea.

  2. Howard

    Not criticising his spelling per se but highlighting that for a pressman, his spelling is lacking in accuracy.

  3. Re @OLDNAT’s contention that @Alec’s views re currency union are his own perspective are patently untrue as the polling data from Alec indicate. The vast majority of rUK are totally against currency union in the event of a Yes vote.

    Personally, I would vote against any rUK party that agreed to currency union without holding a rUK vote. I would only vote in agreement if it was a union in which rUK dictated how Scotland should conduct its economic affairs, eg. interest rates etc.

  4. RL = Richard Littlejohn ?

    TK = Trevor Kavanagh ?

    I suspect that this is the case, but whether they visited Rupert to ask him to sanction backing Howard in 2005, you would have to ask them. I vaguely remember this being said before and that Rupert did not see the Tories winning, so he would not back a loser. I may be wrong, but I am sure there was some political biography out, which covered this story.

    The point I was making earlier, is that whatever the current position of News International papers is at the moment, this could quickly change. It has always been said, that they tend to back who they think the winner will be. If they think that Labour would probably be the next government, they may change to back them or have a neutral stance. After the recent press problems, I don’t think Newspapers are respected by readers, so it would not make much difference.

  5. No idea who TK or RL are either, googling it doesn’t help either.

  6. I do apologise for any spelling errors, I’m laid up with the man flu – hence I’m on here not at work !

  7. Re the mini discussion between TOH and RogerH about LD to Lab letting the Tories win Con/LD marginals without Tories gaining any votes- is there any statistical theory for UNS swings in those seats?

    To give you an example I picked Eastbourne (around number 50 in Con target seats) which shows last election:

    LD 47
    Con 41
    Lab 5

    So if we assume UNS says LD has lost 6% vote share to Lab does this mean (with no change in vote):

    LD 41
    Con 41
    Lab 11

    Specifically not taking into account any theories about late swings for anything but Tory and incumbency.

    Or is it a higher swing (in theory) because of more LD votes in that area than over the country as a whole? (ie LD can’t lose 6% in an area where they only have 5% of the vote). Or less of a swing because of a similar reason to do with a higher swing in LD wasted votes or LD/Lab marginals?

  8. “The vast majority of rUK are totally against currency union in the event of a Yes vote.”

    I suspect the vast majority have either no view or no understanding of the issue.

  9. @OLDNAT


    Re polling interpretation.

    I quite agree with you.

    When we get further polling data, we’ll be able to interpret it

    However, until then Alec’s views remain hs own partisan interpretation of political events –and on a topic that Anthony discourages on a non-Saltire thread, without even a poll to hang them on!”


    Lol oldnat, I was just pointing out the general point about polling not just being about what folk believe. It may have escaped your attention but a shared currency is not simply a Macbethian concern, on account of it being shared, so don’t fret overmuch about Alec’s comments…

  10. I went to Montenegro last summer; they are not in the euro zone but use the euro. Presumably an independent Scotland could take the same approach to Stirling?

  11. @Rogerh – “I suspect the vast majority have either no view or no understanding of the issue.”

    That’s an interesting point, but would arguably be applicable to just about every major issue, and really isn’t a sound basis for democracy.

    What is interesting, however, is that polling evidence suggests that initially the balance of UK opinion was only marginally against a currency union, but then moved very sharply against it when it was picked up as an issue by the BoE and others.

    My suspicion – and this is only my intuitive sense, and is the point at which I leave hard polling evidence behind – is that the bringing of this issue into focus, with the simple message linking a sterling union to the Euro, has been sufficient to convince a large number of voters that this isn’t what they want.

  12. Shevii

    I think UNS is used because it’s a reasonable model of how the votes in important Con/lab seats (electorally) move. Individual seats might swing more or less but as a whole it’s not a bad model. Although it won’t behave well in seats with very low con or lab support it doesn’t need to to predict elections “fairly well” for a simple model. I think people have looked at proportionate swing models and found they perform less well in those important seats.

    Whether or not LD votes in contested seats moves in the same manner (due to them having very concentrated pockets of support and a perception that in those pockets their vote is more resilient) remains to be seen.

    Barring a recovery for the LDs we’ll only know after 2015 if UNS is a reasonable model of how it captures behaviour in LD/con and LD/lab seats it’s possible these types of seats behave differently as we’ll see the effect of a big change in LD support on these seats.

  13. Trevor Kavanagh never liked Labour even Blair in 1997 – perhaps only keeping quiet because the Major Government was so discrecited.

    RL – Rod Liddle? but surely he not that senior?

  14. R Huckle – just seen yours.

    Littlejohn makes more sense.

    [I do ban words like that for a reason, please don’t try to sneak round it – AW]

  15. SHEV11
    The mini discussion was between RogerH and me !
    Still , I’m just as much of an old buffer as ToH, just left wing rather than right .
    Anyway your point is a good one, in seats such as Bournemouth any LD to Lab swing will be tiny, and make no difference .

  16. Osborne says he wants lower unemployment than any G7 country. Let’s take a look at this.

    Canada: 7.1%
    France: 10.5%
    Germany: 5.3%
    Italy: 12.4%
    Japan: 4.1%
    UK: 7.7%
    USA: 7.3%

    Getting the figure lower than the USA and Canada shouldn’t be impossible, but beating Germany and Japan will take some doing.

    Whether Osborne promises to get full employment is not relevant to VI, I don’t think. What will matter is whether he can do it and how.

  17. Shevi if the LD-Lab switch was uniform as you imply around 1/3 would disappear in each seat so in Eastbourne LD vote share would fall to perhaps a little over 30%.

    For seats predictions I have long been an advocate of proportionate swings methods.
    Alhough I accept Anthony’s advice that the exceptions from UNS broadly even out making the latter a good predictor of total seats.

    In reality the tactical ABT vote will hold up in such seats although (like our own Liz H) many Lab supporters will no longer vote LD.
    How many the LDs retain of the tactical voters plus keeping down LD-CON switchers will determine how many seats the Tories take.

  18. Mr Nameless,
    Benedict Brogan has said that this is a risky strategy as he will be held to account for it each month.

  19. @Pressman

    “Who am I referring to in 2005 ? ALL the ones that you put question marks against !”

    Good grief, so the Sun was a seething hotbed of Toryism from the editor down to the tea-boy, even in 2005!! If so, are these political views and affiliations a pre-requisite for working on the newspaper, or do people just become that way, and see the light, after years of fighting the good fight on behalf of Murdoch? And there was me thinking that the political slant was determined by the proprietor and the editor and that the journalists were an eclectic cross-section of humanity.

    As for RL and TK, that’s got to be Kavanagh and Littlejohn (now a Rothermore/Dacre man), hasn’t it?

    By the way, and as a matter of interest, wasn’t David Yelland, the editor of the Sun from 1998-2005, a bit of a left leaning man? He was one of the founder members of the SDP, I believe, and reasonably comfortable with the Sun’s pro-Blair stance during his time editing the paper. His successor, the fragrant Ms Wade/Mrs Brooks was fairly happy with that position too, married as she was to a big Labour supporter at the time, Ross Kemp and, now we know, a regular confidant of St Tony of Blair..

    Of course, I guess in the end that all these editors are basically glove puppets with the hand of Murdoch firmly wrapped around their nether quarters! lol

  20. Ewan Lightfoot

    “as much of an old buffer as ToH”

    Sprightly old buffer please.

  21. Ann in Wales

    I suspect as long as unemployment continues to decline month on month he will get the credit.

  22. The unmentionable Andy C (moderation) is however an out-and-out Tory.

  23. @Shevii

    I suppose we’d need to know what proportion of LibDem voters are LibDem supporters rather than tactical voters attaching themselves to whoever is perceived to represent the most viable anti-Tory choice (almost always anti-Tory rather than anti-Labour I’m assuming). Presumably seats such as Eastbourne will have more of the latter.

  24. I cannot understand the SNP’s attitude to retaining the pound. A currency union between an independent Scotland and rUK would be bad for Scotland, not rUK. It would re-create all the problems of the EZ countries in removing Scotland’s capacity to vary fiscal measures appropriate to the needs of the Scottish economy. rUK would not be in the same position at all.

  25. The Sun at the moment does not seem that pro tory as they have given them bad press on many issues.

    At least they are better than The Mirror who would tell you to vote Labour no matter what state the party was in.

  26. @JohnB
    “The trouble with any odds on marginal Scottish seats is that until we are beyond September 18th we cannot know what the fall-out will be from whatever is the referendum result.”

    True, but that cuts both ways. Once we do know the impact of any event, we can also be pretty sure that the winning odds will have moved in as the uncertainty disappears. So often it’s best to bet when you don’t know and use your judgement. In my case it’s difficult to say which of a Yes or No vote would be better for the SNP in a 2015 Westminster election, so I’ve formed a view as to who will win those seats regardless.

  27. MRNameless

    It also depends how full employment is defined. The normal measure is zero cyclical unemployment, where that point is is again open to debate.

    There will always be some form of frictional unemployment as people do move jobs and spend some time out of work, this is normally quite low although skewed towards the younger portion of the population.

    A more difficult (and long term problem) is structural unemployment, usually due to a lack of skills in the work force. I think making programming a fundamental part of the education system is an important part of this, although it’ll be a long time before we see if it works and does give people the quality of education required to have the skills required of a workforce in this field. There isn’t much political capital to be gained from such pursuits so it’s not surprising this problem is left unaddressed by all parties in all democracies.

    Unemployment is forecast to keep falling for some time yet, will Osborne get to zero cyclical unemployment? I suspect with further tax cuts, yes tax cuts can induce further growth/fall in unemployment as Kennedy (enacted by LBJ) showed, the unemployment rate will fall faster.

    I don’t have enough data to say what unemployment rate represents “full employment” but I’d say it was somewhere around 4-5%, the only way you can drive it lower than this in the short term would be by fuelling inflation.

  28. “But that overlooks the fact that we actually need many people in dead end jobs – carers, shelf stackers, baristas, cleaners – and education beyond a rudimentary level is not really required for these jobs.”


    I require my baristas to be highly educated, and depend on them for all kinds of info. Many are ex-students and are down with the latest tech and online promotional tools and they are they are very good at pointing me to groovy playlists and new music services for example. (Some of them are into music production and stuff, and know their LA3As from their Fairchilds)…

  29. The Sun just likes to back whoever it thinks will win so it can claim responsibility after the event. There’s no clear evidence that newspapers can influence how people vote. The only certainty is that they’re not as influential as they like to think.

  30. ToH
    I happily stand corrected, sprightly old buffers the pair of us !

  31. @Carfrew

    “I require my baristas to be highly educated, and depend on them for all kinds of info.”

    Wouldn’t it be easy to make is a general rule that baristas should be degree qualified, along with P.A.s, HR assistants, and receptionists?

    (a touch sarcastic, but there are far too many degrees floating around these days – we need to increase basic education and reduce the demand for degrees in non-degree requiring jobs)

  32. Pressman

    I don’t doubt that some Lim Dems will shift to Labour and bump up their percentage into the low thirties. But what I’m saying is there are a huge number of undecideds who (it is believed) can be swung behind Cameron and another chunk who can persuaded not to vote UKIP.

    The main target will be Milliband and you shouldn’t underestimate the ‘who leads’ question for undecideds. It has been crucial at every ‘modern’ election.

    I think you’re completely right about the agenda of the Press and their hatred for Miliband[1], but how effective it will be is another matter.

    There are several reasons for this. One is that that Miliband has been subjected to constant bombardment from the Press since his election. This clearly has had some effect, but it means that a lot of ammunition has been used up and familiarity may blunt the attack. There’s also the danger that such attacks may rebound (as they did with those over his father), look ridiculous or energise supporters of the attacked.

    That doesn’t mean that they aren’t constantly looking round for more lines to take, of course. The Sunday Times polls frequently contain questions trying out various lines of attack and seeing how the public is responding to them – see pages 7-8 (pdf) of the latest one for example. But those show an improvement in his position (from a very low base admittedly) which may suggest the effectiveness is weakening[2].

    Another problem is that while Miliband’s popularity may be low, so are the other Party leaders. In a situation where there isn’t much difference seen as being between unattractive options[3], who actually comes last in the ugly contest may not really matter much to voters. The media always over-estimate the importance of Party leaders (they are important but not overwhelmingly so) and this may lessen even more when the choice doesn’t seem to make much difference.

    A lot of Conservative supporters and people in the media have treating Miliband’s ratings as what Lord Ashcroft calls “comfort polling”. They believe that as soon as the campaign starts they will produce this “Get Out Of Jail Free” card and everything will swing their way. But you can only use any particular card once and once you have, you still have to get round the board.

    [1] Why I’ve never understood, given that he’s just as much a product of the tiny political elite as most of them are. I suspect it goes back to his election, which most of them got wrong (our Dear Leader excepted) thereby showing up their collective ignorance and innumeracy.

    [2] Of course how such polls are reported (if at all) is a different matter. When the Times asked some similar questions last week :

    they highlighted a decline in Miliband’s ratings from a high point last October (though mainly to ‘not sure’), but ignored an increase in those who think that he will ‘ever’ become Prime Minister.

    [3] Of course the Press themselves must take a lot of the blame for this, as Cameron has frequently been on the receiving end of their wrath when he has failed to follow their latest whim.

  33. @Statty

    Managers often try and get their assistants more qualified… then they can do more. When it comes to baristas, could you have a convo with me about modelling classic vintage audio gear in software, which emulations are the best, and tell me which local studios have the best retro kit? This is adding quite some value in my book…

  34. I just want them to serve me coffee.

  35. @Bluebob

    Yes, and some people want to spend their lives switching bills etc… each to their own…

  36. Ewen Lightfoot


  37. @Roger Mexico

    A very perceptive post, if I may so. Your point “who actually comes last in the ugly contest may not really matter much to voters” is one that I’ve banged on about for some time. Clegg, Cameron and Miliband are engaged in a relegation battle rather than a race for the title and, as such, degrees of public disdain may turn out to be merely a statistical and arcane argument.

    If Cameron was a Blair, Thatcher, Churchill or Attlee figure then the game would be up for Miliband. He isn’t and it ain’t!

  38. I have to say that this is a hugely interesting idea –

    The easy quip is to say that if Hull can manage it’s own currency, why not Scotland, but that would be a churlish point.

    The real significance of this is the potential independence such a move brings for local authorities, from both central governments and from the wider economic pressures.

    Let’s be clear – this would only ever be a small element within a council’s package of policy measures, and there are significant limitations to the scale and scope of such a scheme, but the creation of money in exchange for a voluntary service is one way to develop local social structures and the local economy at ground level. It’s one of the most imaginative ideas I’ve seen to come from local government for a very long time.

    It also raises a very significant point about money and how governments operate. Quantitative easing was invented to meet a crisis, but was an unconventional measure deliberately limited to a conventional target. These kind of initiatives – both huge scale like QE, and minor like Hull council, indicate that we can, whenever it suits us, re-write the rules of money.

    The implications of this are really quite staggering, which is the main reason why we are constantly told that we can’t re-write the rules. We’re still being told that QE has to be reversed, for example, whereas in reality, there is no such requirement.

    Otherwise, people might just cotton on to the idea that money could just be created for social good. Just like Hull council.

  39. @Carfrew

    No, but I don’t sit in Coffee shops. I brew my own. Far nicer.

  40. Re the press and Miliband, I tend to agree with Roger M’s first point above. The press remain very powerful nor that their hostility to Miliband will do Labour real damage. The question is whether by 2015 the damage to Miliband’s standing could:
    1. Go any further than that already inflicted and/or
    2. Impact more on poll ratings more than it is currently

  41. ALEC

    You are quite right. There is no need to reverse QE and it won’t be

  42. Repost. That should have read:

    Re the press and Miliband, I tend to agree with Roger M’s first point above. The press remain very powerful and their hostility to Miliband will do Labour real damage. The question is whether by 2015 the damage to Miliband’s standing could:
    1. Go any further than that already inflicted and/or
    2. Impact more on poll ratings more than it is currently
    Report comment

  43. @RMJ1 – I suspect that technically, QE will eventually be reversed, but it won’t be reversed in any practical sense.

    There is already talk about converting into ultra long bonds, where the value of them gradually withers away, and at some distant point in the future they will be ‘reversed’ when their relative value is tiny.

    This will meet the needs of those who say you can’t just print money, without requiring any practical cost.

  44. Alec

    You don’t think they might be withdrawn during an overheated phase of the economic cycle to delay large interest rate rises?

  45. @Alan – at a briefing by the BoE a couple of weeks ago they didn’t rule this out, but did say that using interest rates was a much more efficient way to cool the economy in such circumstances.

    My understanding was that it was this briefing that led to many observers concluding that the BoE was preparing to not reverse QE.

  46. carfrew

    When it comes to baristas, could you have a convo with me about modelling classic vintage audio gear in software, which emulations are the best, and tell me which local studios have the best retro kit? This is adding quite some value in my book

    You live or work in Shoreditch and I claim my free ironic moustache.

  47. Alec

    I agree that it won’t be any time soon. If interest rates were up above 5% and further cooling were needed and for a long period, I could see QE being withdrawn (in stages) as preferable to double digit interest rates.

    I think the briefing was to confirm that the first measure used would be increasing interest rates, as most people expect. With inflation falling the pressure to even raise interest rates must be growing less.

    I’m not sure how the Eurozone can stop the risk of deflation (which seems to be a growing risk), can the ECB simply open up the money supply side or do all the complex rules tie it’s hands to use monetary policies? Are they heading for a Japan style decade of deflation, where in Japan there was no political will to drive inflation up, does Europe lack the power to?

  48. Alec

    I didn’t respond to the arguments in your post, because Anthony has asked us not to discuss the issue in polite company.

    We have all been sinners in the past, but to continue to flout your host’s requests is not considered good manners in the drawing room.

    It’s almost as bad as being one of those surly teenagers, who complains that anything not immediately concerning their own self-obsessed issues is “boring”. :-)

  49. @ Oldnat

    I loved Candide as a lad but couldn’t even finish it recently. Satire palls v. quickly on the more mature mind. Panglossian means naive & absurdly optimistic. To be counter to this seems quite sensible.

    A quick check reveals website:

    AW should offer a large cash prize to anyone who confines their posts to polling matters, safe in the knowledge it will never be awarded.

  50. The site was Panglossian Curmudgeon which seems a bit of a contradiction in terms?

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