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. @Guymonde

    re: Thorium…

    Thorium is not a nuclear fuel itself because it is not fissionable. You can’t split it in a chain reaction. But it is a radioactive element. This means it isn’t stable, and will decay into another element over time and then another, emitting radiation, until a stable element results. The decay chain of naturally occuring Thorium isn’t useful to us, but if you fire a neutron at it (one of the particles in an atomic nucleus) it will stick to the nucleus and prompt a different decay chain.

    First it will decay into Protactinium, and after 27 days (the half life), half of the Protactinium will have decayed into Uranium, a particular kind of Uranium that does not occur in nature called Uranium 233, which is very useful because it is fissionable. You can split its nucleus when you fire neutrons at it. And when you do, you release a lot of energy. It is about a million times more energy dense than petrol.

    Of course, we also get nuclear energy by splitting the atoms of a different kind of Uranium, known as Uranium 235. Why not stick with that? Firstly because it is rare. Secondly because its decay chain produces some nasty waste. Thirdly because, while Thorium can be cooled using molten salts, traditional Uranium reactors use solid fuel in rods, cooled by water under pressure. This is inefficient because only a small percentage of the fuel gets used before expensive processing is required, and because water boils at 100 degrees, where higher temperatures would extract more energy.

    Water is kept under pressure to raise its boiling point, but still only to around 300 degrees, and it adds to the danger. If the reactor is breached, you get an explosion of radioactive steam. And the water can dissociate into hydrogen and oxygen, an explosive mix as at Fukushima. Meanwhile, solid fuel can melt down, requiring extensive backup systems in case some fail, and at Fukushima, all the cooling systems got taken out by the tsunami.

    With Thorium, you can use molten salt for cooling, at higher temps for more efficiency, without needing it to be under pressure so no explosion of vapour. You can dissolve the fuel in it for much better mixing so nearly all the fuel gets used, which means more efficiency but also a lot less waste. The waste itself decays much more quickly (most within 30 years, some within 300), so you don’t have toxic waste issues for thousands of years, and a fair amount of the waste is useful medically, or for food irradiation to kill e. coli etc… the Thorium reactor can even use up existing waste from other reactors.

    Dissolved in the salt there’s no risk of meltdown, and it is inherently stable: if the temperature rises the salt expands, cooling it back down again. If tbe power fails, you can just drain the salt and fuel into a tank, stopping the reaction. Without the need for extensive cooling systems it can be cheaper and more compact… and no fuel reprocessing cuts running costs majorly.

    And it is very abundant. Known concentrated reserves of around 2 million tons, enough for the World’s energy for 400 years at current usage. But they haven’t really looked, since no one needed it before now. There’s around 120 Trillion tons in the earth’s crust, though a lot of this is in tiny amounts. There should be realistically enough for thousands of years, and you don’t even have to explicitly mine for it, since they get a lot as a byproduct of mining rare earth metals, so it is cheap as well.

    Basically Thorium has the potential to solve the major issues of nuclear power and usher in an era of cheap, green energy, where it’s so cheap you could even use it to resynthesize petrol from atmospheric CO2.

  2. @ Crossbat

    I enjoy your tales from the BL ‘trenches’! :-)

  3. April Fool! LOL.
    The Graun have got theirs in early this year.

  4. They must have had fun with the Lego.


    “The unemployment rate rose over the ’70s, despite the efforts of various governments, and it was only as low as it was because of incomes policies that proved to be unsustainable every time they were tried.”


    Sorry Bill, missed this bit out earlier. It’s a bit of a logic fail, an example of saying something which is true, but off the point.

    It is true that incomes policy took a hammering, particularly during the Winter of Discontent. But that is not an argument against full employment, or even against income policies.

    Any available economic strategy would have struggled when faced with the oil shock and energy crisis, coupled with recession and rampant inflation. Labour’s policy worked to bring down inflation while preserving jobs, but then they got hit by the second oil price spike. That’s hard for anyone to deal with, and it threw other countries into recession too. But the Thatcher response fared worse in terms of inflation and unemployment, until oil prices fell back.

    But even if we accept a problem with incomes policy (or indeed any policy) during extreme conditions, this does not mean income policy cannot be used to control inflation under more normal conditions. I mean, it’s likely that any flood defences would be overwhelmed by an extinction event following the impact in the North Atlantic of a 10km-diameter meteor, but this does not therefore mean we should not bother with flood defences the rest of the time.

    And yes, unemployment rose in the seventies with the oil shock, but just because one cannot always get close to full employment does not mean there isn’t any value in trying to get any closer than currently pertains. The closer we get, the better in terms of tax income, benefits costs, reduced knock-ons of unemployment etc., and benefits of the extra workforce doing useful stuff. Like building lagoons…

    And if inflation becomes an issue, then we can back off employment a bit if nothing else works.

  6. @HOWARD

    “Carfrew If you visit my son’s pub, he will be able, like Syzygy, to tell you what a syzygy is.”


    Lol, I had to look up what a syzygy is. If I’d done it sooner then I could have used it in my answer to Mr Beeswax about the gravitational pull thing. Still, there may be other opportunities…

  7. ALEC
    “If unemployment is 2% Frictional 2% Structural and 3% Cyclical, it’s the 3% the Osborne is setting out as his target. I have no issue with a politician trying to be clear and precise about his aims.”
    (I assume this was you rather than Alan?)
    “Frictional” unemployment (between jobs) appears to me to be not one animal, and does have solutions which are affected by policy. (BTW I do, pace Anthony, think polling has consistently reflected party recognition of this, and that there are clear divides which continue to be reflected in the polls, as under)
    Carfrew is right, for example in seeing housing investment as a no brainer in both employment creation and in social policy and as a counter-inflation process.. Its function in respect of ‘frictional’ employment is determined by the contract nature of the industry, which is organic in terms of the training systems in the building trades, which tend to be institutional rather than on-the-job. The very different approaches of the two main partiesto both scale of house building and its mechanisms and to pre-employment training are certainly reflected in their public image (one in which LD are closer to Lab than to their Con partners in the coalition.)
    By contrast in the defence and aeronautical industries, just in time and out-sourcing have visibly weakened long-term skills development and their welfare basis. This is part of a wider shift from long-term full-time jobs to contract, self-employment and part-time employment, again areas in which the parties have different public perception of “intent” in respect of the function of government in addressing training and regulatory systems in reducing between jobs unemployment.
    The rise in the car industry of Jaguar, Land Rover and Nissan, as major, well-conducted high-end employers and producers, is interesting in bringing in policies in relation to international investment and relations with the EU as policy areas which are clearly having a major impact on economic growth and unemployment reduction.

  8. @ Roger Mexico

    “Please, please tell me this is being made for television. District 33 already sounds so HBO, it just has to be.”

    Lol, sadly not. Though it’s a good idea!

    As for your your show, District 33. I like it.

    “Where politics stops conforming and starts getting real. District 33”

    “What happens when some of the wealthiest people in the United States elect the last FDR Democrat to represent them in Congress………..then he retires at the last minute……and his people have no successor in mind…….Madness ensues! District 33.”

  9. @ Roger Mexico

    Here’s what’s got the local party activists in a real tizzy (and led to Betsy Butler losing endorsements from the Legislative Black Caucus in her Senate campaign). Well Betsy was running for the 62nd Assembly District. She filed paperwork with the California Democratic Party to get the endorsement for that race. She then decided to file paperwork for the 26th State Senate District. But she didn’t declare which race she was actually getting into. The caucus for the 62nd Assembly District occured the day before the caucus for the 26th State Senate District. She attended both.

    At the AD-62 caucus, she did not say definitively but indicated that she was running for the Assembly seat, gave a speech, instructed her Delegates to vote for her, and succeeded in getting a “No Endorsement” vote at the caucus. That’s where no one candidate receives 50% of the vote at the pre-endorsement caucus.

    The next day, she showed up at the SD-26 caucus, announced that she would be dropping out of the AD-62 race. And while I don’t think this is actually the case (it could be), it seems that she continued to run in AD-62 and showed up at that caucus just for the sake of blocking her former opponent Autumn Burke from receiving the California Democratic Party endorsement. And no other reason. That has some people very unhappy.

    Well, the interesting thing is, she didn’t get the endorsement at the pre-convention endorsement caucus. But she was close (she had 58%, needed 60% at the Convention). She thought she just had to win over a few extra Delegate voters and would get the endorsement (plus some who voted against her at the pre-endorsement couldn’t vote at the Convention). And during the Convention, I saw her hanging out on the floor with her friends and not doing all that much. She seemingly thought she had the endorsement in hand. That was in contrast to her opponents (well one of them anyway) who were busy working the floor and working the Convention. Well, she didn’t have it in hand and in a VERY tense SD-26 caucus (I escaped and hid out in another caucus for a contested Bay Area Congressional race), there was a No Endorsement vote. I heard some supporters of her former AD-62 opponent saying that night at Gavin Newsom’s pool party, “you no endorse us, we no endorse you!” Of course they’re ridiculously cynical and they had nothing to do with it. But now it seems that there might be some people from Autumn’s Assembly campaign who might be attempting to sabotage Betsy’s Senate campaign. Which is stupid because it won’t actually help Autumn win her race.

    I might have played a role in this Roger. I might have been covertly whipping votes for one of the candidates (not named Betsy) all weekend long. I’m not ready to be on an HBO show though.

    I think I’m going to have to confess to Betsy that I’m not backing her. This is going to be tough because it’s going to break her heart and I like her. I think I’m one of the few people she actually likes and doesn’t want to bruise. Plus, she might hold a big grudge against me. Which won’t be a good thing if she becomes a State Senator.

  10. @ Roger H

    “Being a Churchill didn’t help Churchill in 1945. We don’t yet have a presidential system and I think the importance of the leader can be exaggerated. The voter’s perception of the party is the main issue, not of its leader.”

    If I was British and you had the U.S. presidential style system, I’d probably cast a vote for Cameron and a vote for Labour.

  11. Labour lead drops five points in a day!
    Cons on 34
    Labour on 37

  12. Again this morning,answers to the “approval” questions look encouraging for Cons, but VI drags it feet slowly towards even steven.

  13. @Roger H

    Yours is quite believable.

  14. Ignore the ST poll, which was clearly a blip, and toady’s is quite encouraging for Labour. The budget has not produced parity and its effects look to be wearing off. I doubt we will move quickly back to 6/7 point lead territory, but a steady run of 4/5s will calm nerves. Now would be a good time for some eye-catching policy ideas,

  15. “It is time today to open a new chapter,” Hollande said in his televised remarks

    Why do they say things like this ?

    I sense that in UK there has been a stoic acceptance of the effects of reform of Public Finances. A lot of pain , and a Government with a VI deficit for a long period.

    But nothing like the collapse of faith in Mr H.

    I always get the impression that the French people are very attached to their State spending-57% of GDP.
    They won’t accept the Anglo Saxon” approach-even a watered down version from a Socialist.

  16. @Panther

    Maths questionable?


    “Carfrew is right, for example in seeing housing investment as a no brainer in both employment creation and in social policy and as a counter-inflation process…”


    Yes, good spot John. I didn’t actually mention the counter-inflationary aspect, but I should have. Various forms of state investment can have counter-inflationary effects, to offset the inflationary effect of wages rising as we near full employment (because as workers available for hire become scarce, there is more competition for their services). Housing can cut rent costs, new motorways can reduce transport costs etc. etc.

    When Bill wonders how we did it in the Sixties, how we got so much employment without inflation running wildly out of control… the state created a load of jobs, that would assist the economy, while helping to control inflation. Which was the plan, and it worked pretty good, until the oil crisis. Even then, despite extreme conditions, in conjunction with an incomes policy to limit wage inflation, inflation was brought back down a lot of jobs were preserved, until we gave up with it…

    There is, of course, a political dimension, which makes things trickier. If Wilson had devalued on taking office in 1964, we might have performed even better economically. He didn’t do it because it was politically toxic back then, and when he finally did it, there was a VI hit. There’s an argument he should have done it sooner, instead of denying he’d do it.

    Equally, after years of wage restraint, when the second oil shock hit, shoving prices up again, the Unions broke ranks with the incomes policy and we had the Winter of Discontent. Despite the strikes, it was still economically a better policy, in terms of preserving jobs and bringing down inflation. But not voter-friendly. Callaghan should probably have relaxed the policy at this point.

    (Maggie learned the lesson, and caved to the miners in her first term, at least for that moment. Later, under different conditions, it was different…). In the end, the real problem was not having a sufficiently diverse energy mix. You can rapidly bring any economy to its knees if you control its access to energy. Like the banks can rapidly do the same.

    Economic policy can ordinarily rely on pulling on certain levers, but you also have to defend against potential shocks that will overwhelm the levers. We learned another lesson and diversified our energy mix since then. Of course, Thorium is both abundant and also available in many places, and you could stockpile relatively small amounts and be set for years to come…

  18. @SoCalLiberal – ” …at Gavin Newsom’s pool party”

    Listen to yourself. Was Jennifer Siebel there? Jennifer and Gavin make such a beautiful couple.

    Do keep the updates coming… sounds like you might be walking on thin ice with Betsy though. Interesting also to read up on Autumn, her mother Yvonne Burke and the Maxine Waters – Diane Watson connection.

    I’m taking it from your last comment that you think our own dear Ed might have trouble keeping his head above water in US politics?

  19. @John Pilgrim –

    “(I assume this was you rather than Alan?)”

    So did I, until I read it and realised it far too interesting to be one of my posts.

  20. Surely another candidate for an April fool, since new registers take effect on 1st April, and you wouldn’t introduce an untested experiment just weeks before a general election, would you?

  21. Socal
    I accused Crossbat11 (actually complemented him of course) of being a reincarnated Alan Coren (a British humorist) and I now ‘accuse’ you of being the same of Alistair Cooke. Your piece on Betsy whatsername was a first rate ‘Letter from America’. Incidentally, they have just turned up a shed load of his recorded broadcasts to us made in the 70s, lying in a barn.

    In the ‘three in a row’ stakes, we would need another YG Labour lead today of more than one before one could accept that the budget bounce (more of a hop) was definitely behind us.

    I am very interested in Colin’s report on HTB. Will both sides of the Coalition claim credit and also for ‘freedom to blow your pension’?

  22. My post contains the word *ccuse so hopefully merely a technical mod item. I am PS-ing to add that when I took Mrs H a cup of tea. I caught her with ‘Look Squirrel’ which I admit was not original thought. Works every time though.

  23. @COLIN

    “I sense that in UK there has been a stoic acceptance of the effects of reform of Public Finances. A lot of pain…”


    I think it’s just possible, that when we look at the polling, we might find that the stoic acceptance is more common amongst those who have been insulated from much of the pain…

  24. Colin

    I agree the budget seems to have got the average lead down below 5 and the average Labour vote down a little as well, now below 38.
    Looking at the detail of today’s poll, as you say most indicators have improved for the Tories……………..

    NHS up 3 to 24
    Law & Order up 2 to 35
    Education up 2 to 27
    Tax up 4 to 31
    Unemployment up 4 to 29 and now lead Labour on this issue.
    Economy in General up 2 to 34, lead Labour by 11.
    Welfare Benefits up 2 to 29, now lead Labour on this issue.

    If I was Osborne & the Tory strategists I would be feeling quietly the movement since the budget, but of course they need a great deal more.

    For Labour they can take comfort in the fact that they have only dropped to 37.5.

    Interesting move by Osborne on unemployment yesterday with his target of getting to be the lowest in the G7. On the latest national figures he only has Germany and the USA to beat but I suspect that will be very difficult. More importantly it will increase attention to the unemplyment figures and if they keep going down he will get extra publicity for it.

  25. Just to clarify I was being sensansalist it is a four point drop of course clearly sunday was an outlier

    I read this morning that yhe fabian society is to affiliate with the conservatives that really made me giggle

  26. @ToH

    Labour are making the occasional response that might help shore up VI a bit, but without harming Tory VI. Eg tuition fees. Question is do they have some moves planned that would put Tories on the back foot, like the energy thing…

  27. I think it’s a touch too early to assess the final effect of the budget. My sense is we are still in the readjustment period, where there is some unwinding on the hefty bounce. By the end of the week we should have a clearer idea of whether it has completely unwound or had a longer term effect.

  28. @Carfew

    “I think it’s just possible, that when we look at the polling, we might find that the stoic acceptance is more common amongst those who have been insulated from much of the pain…”

    Rather well said, if I may so. JK Galbraith couldn’t have put it better!

    @Amber Star

    “I enjoy your tales from the BL ‘trenches’! :-)”

    Thanks. I’ve often thought that in my fast approaching retirement I might write a personal memoir of my life and times in the British car industry. I’m mulling over a possible title, but “My Part in Michael Edwardes Downfall” is one that appeals to me!

    Or possibly, “The Lame Duck that wouldn’t stop Quacking!” lol

  29. UKIP have announced that if elected into government in May 2015, they will ban Brussels Sprouts, as their contribution towards climate change goals.

  30. R HUCKLE, nice try

    April Fool! LOL.
    The Graun have got theirs in early this year.’

    Every dya is April Folls’ day at Teh Grauniad

  31. Alec

    I agree with your comment, it is to early but at least today’s poll has some measure of the changes taking place in the voters perceptions.

    I’m sure Labour do have some plans to discomfort the Tories, I would be amazed if they didn’t. In a similar way the Tories will have plans to do the same to Labour.

  32. TOH

    I agree that there are good signs in the Polls.

    Re GO’s “full employment” target-I am less than enthusiastic about these phrases. Like “One Nation” etc, they mean what you want them to mean & are full of wriggle room. I do wonder if they have any resonance with voters.

    GO should just crack on & demonstrate real jobs growth across the country-that’s worth a million empty mantras.

  33. Also so check out ‘Hullcoin’ still genuinely not sure if that is April fool or not.

  34. French elections seemed very predictable to me. Hollande’s economic policy of tax and spend fell flat on its face as I expected.


    “Carfrew I’m sure Labour do have some plans to discomfort the Tories, I would be amazed if they didn’t. In a similar way the Tories will have plans to do the same to Labour.”


    I’m kinda assuming Tories have such plans, with the advantage of being able to enact them while in office. It’s possible on the other hand they are constrained in terms of interventions they might find acceptable. Interesting times…

  36. CROSSBAT11
    “How we saved the Japanese car industry”?

  37. Colin

    I think that’s what he plans to do. As I said i think it was all about getting publicity. I totally agree about meaningless phrases and i too suspect they don’t mean much to the voters.

  38. I’ve just caught up with the weighted 2010 vote shares on the latest Populus, and they’re just about the most bizarre yet.

    Con 573 = 40.9%
    Lab 358 = 25.5%
    LD 334 = 23.8%

    So the Conservatives in their recalled vote sample had a lead of 14.4% at the GE. That would have given an overall Conservative majority of 66.

    Yet Labour still emerged from that sample with a 2% lead in VI. Not too bad for them.

  39. MrB
    Hullcoin came out yesterday , so it would be cheating if it was to be taken as an April fool item. There are protocols about these things you know !

  40. Very impressive EU-wide poll on Ukraine today (see YG web site).

    AW please pass on my congratulations to the organisers. One hopes we could see more of these on other subjects. I notice that responses to one’s own leaders are predictably partisan in every country! Merkel is still enjoying honeymoon I suppose although I think she would probably top the poll here if there was one!

  41. Sorry, that should have been
    “Yet Labour still emerged from that sample with a 3% lead in VI.”

  42. Just to add that if Putin reads this poll, it’s a green light to invade the Ukraine (except unless he is scared of what USA might do -he certainly does not need to worry about EU states opinion apparently).

  43. 85% of Labour supporters disapprove of the Government and 30% of LD voters. That’s all Mr Miliband needs to get the tactical FPTP victory he needs for the ‘ABT Party’.


    @”I think it’s just possible, that when we look at the polling, we might find that the stoic acceptance is more common amongst those who have been insulated from much of the pain…”

    You may be right.

    But I used the word “Stoic” because memory tells me that whenever the question ” was it necessary ?:” is asked, a majority say “yes”.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

  45. Pressman wrote: “People are saying can the negative view of Miliband impact any more at the election ? Well yes it can, back in 1992 Kinnock was hardly facing a ‘Thatcher, Attlee et al..’ but when it came to polling day, the undecideds could not stomach him in No.10.”

    I agree Pressman. If the undecideds cannot stomach him the Tories will be the largest party.

    However, I do not think the negativity about Miliband is the same as it was about Kinnock.

    Miliband seems to IMPROVE his ratings the more coverage he actually gets. Whereas Kinnock used to LOSE support for Labour the more people saw of him – especially when he was in “triumphalist” mode. I cannot imagine Miliband doing an “air punch” and shouting “alright!” – Labour’s VI took a dip after that!

    I suspect Miliband’s team are gearing up for a Mr Nice Guy offensive. The more rabid the attacks by your chums are in the press, the more “Mr Nice Guy” will look like an injured party. Sometimes I think the nasty streak in the Tory press can be very counterproductive for their cause and don’t realise that the voters are by-and-large quite nice – and recoil at some of the mud slinging.

    I remember well how in the Vauxhall By-Election our LibDem stategy team, having just come back from learning from the Democrats in the US, over-did the negative campaigning against the Labour candidate. It back fired horribly and our canvass returns showed it.

    American style negative campaigning works only up to a point in the UK – but for those using it the line is easily overstepped, as partisanship allows the practitioners to get carried away – and then it backfires.

    Just some thoughts from experience long ago!

  46. HOWARD

    @”Just to add that if Putin reads this poll, it’s a green light to invade the Ukraine ”

    If you refer to the YouGov Poll this morning-I didn’t read it that way at all.

    In fact there wasn’t a question about invasion-just trade sanctions.

    However it is certainly interesting to see the opinion in those bastions of neutrality in Scandinavia.

  47. Productivity on the move :-)

    Alec will be pleased .

  48. Regarding my conversation with RogerH yesterday. Could anyone provide a list of constituencies where, in 2010, Labour came within say,10% of the winning total, regardless of whether they were second , third or even fourth.
    What l am interested in is how many potential ‘Hastings and Rye’ situations there might be( referring to the startling Labour victory in this constituency in 1997).

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