This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 14%. The three point lead for Labour is lower than usual, though nothing to get too excited about as it is well within the normal margin of error for a lead of five points or so. The 14% for UKIP is right at the top end of their their normal range. YouGov have had them at 14% a couple of times this year, but you need to go all the back to November to find them any higher.

I saw a couple of people commenting on this poll and on yesterday’s Populus poll in relation to the ongoing troubles around Maria Miller, asking about whether there would be a Miller effect, or pondering why it hadn’t damaged the Conservatives.

Obviously this is just one poll so one probably should read too much into it. More importantly though, I would not expect to see any impact at all from the Miller scandal anyway. As ever, the vast majority of the Westminster soap opera has no discernable impact upon voting intentions. The majority of people do not follow or watch Westminister events, will not be aware of who the people are or what they are supposed to have done. Those people who are interested in politics will tend to view events and scandals through the prism of their pre-existing political loyalties. For example, if a Labour politician is involved in a scandal, Labour supporters will be more likely to see it as a smear, or at worst one bad apple amongst an otherwise decent party; Conservative supporters will be more likely to see it as some major failing and characteristic of a rotten party… and vice-versa for scandals affecting Conservative politicians). I expect all these things have a drip-drip effect upon party image, but not one that is measurable or quantifiable.

A good reminder is to go back and look at the ups and downs of the polls in the last Parliament, or the Parliament before and see what has changed polls. Most of the time they trundle along larged unaffected by short-term events – leadership changes affect them, budgets sometimes do, recessions and recoveries, wars, mid-term elections, party conferences (for a week). The weekly Westminster stories of speeches, policy announcements and scandals rarely do – the main exceptions of I can think of in recent years are the expenses scandal in 2009 (but that was the whole political class, a huge event); Charles Kennedy’s resignation (but he was a party leader) and I suppose Labour’s black Wednesday in 2006 (when Charles Clarke, John Prescott and Patricia Hewitt all managed to get themselves in a mess in the same week). Perhaps Maria Miller will join that list, but I really wouldn’t count on it.


191 Responses to “A reminder of what moves polls”

1 2 3 4
  1. chrislane1945

    Good morning to you Chris. I certainly think they will do well in the Euro elections. As I have always done I will be voting in May. Not made up my mind yet between UKIP and Conservative. No Council elections for me this time round.

    Report comment

  2. The problem that Maria Miller had was that she was so convinced that she was in the right that she got in a strop about being investigated. As it happened she had made a mistake in her claim which previous scrutiny had not picked up and she should certainly have been more contrite. She has fallen victim to the “never apologise, never explain” mantra which politicians have followed for generations.

    There must be dozens of MPs on both sides who claimed for interest on re-mortgages and even more who made or stand to make substantial capital gains. That is why so many have been quiet on this. No doubt their claims were within the rules at the time but that cuts no ice with the press in their current mood. One gone, there may well be more.

    Other than a possible temporary boost for UKIP I don’t see the polls moving much on this.

    Report comment

  3. Some of you are defending the Press’ behaviour. If it were not against site policy, I’d list the Cabinet Ministers who would have been out of a job had the DT actually genuinely cared about Tory misdemeanours.

    I suppose you could argue that at the fag-end of Parliament, the DT could just about have finally realised it’s defended a few too many indefensibles, but personally i am a little too cynical for that, and that the next time a Tory is found to have his or her hands in the till, the DT will be backing them to the hilt as long as they toe the DT’s preferred line.

    I personally think that, regardless of political affiliation, that the prize of getting an accountable Press is more important than the career of a third-rate Cabinet Minister, but it won’t happen now and we can continue to enjoy the worst Press in the developed world.

    Report comment

  4. Better news from Ukraine – which is far more important than the Miller story I think.

    Report comment

  5. RMJ1

    There will be no more.

    Report comment

  6. @Bill Patrick

    Yours came up whilst I was writing mine. My response to you is two-fold:
    1. A post-Independence Scottish Tory party would no longer be tarred with the brush of you-know-who, and would no longer be toxic – though like the Jacobite Tories there will always those who look back with rose-tinted spectacles; it may even be that the SNP moves rightwards a bit;
    2. The SNP have shown quite clearly that Scotland is no longer Labour’s slave.

    Of course, every now and again Labour will regain power in an independent Scotland – but it is very unlikely that they would even come close to an overall majority. After all, 2011 was a freak….. wasn’t it?

    Report comment

  7. @Alec

    Agree with yours of 9.26

    I’m not sure if care a hoot about Miller and Cameron (yours of 9.31). This isn’t the first time he’s completely misread the runes, is it?

    If UKIP do very well in the Euros, will we be looking at a new Prime Minister come September?

    Report comment

  8. HOWARD

    @”According to the author of this thread it will have no effect on voters worth shouting about ”

    Maybe not, but I doubt it will increase Cons’ VI.

    The commuters of Basingstoke, however will remember the story of conveniently located ( & financed) houses, I feel sure.

    Report comment

  9. John B
    “If UKIP do very well in the Euros, will we be looking at a new Prime Minister come September?”

    Not a chance. The govt are in it until the bitter end. The passing of the fixed term Parliament law was done for a reason, regardless of what might happen in between time.

    Report comment

  10. Strange to read this and think that if “UK” was substituted for “Germany”, the article would have been critical.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/04/09/uk-germany-trade-idUKBREA380FC20140409

    Report comment

  11. John B,

    No. Much like Miliband, there’s no credible replacement and the damage caused by a leadership contest would be too great.

    Report comment

  12. @ Chris Riley

    I tend to agree with your sentiments. As we have an electorate that is increasingly apathetic and alienated from the political process (quite a rational viewpoint IMO) the power of the press to manipulate the political agenda and political outcomes has become ever stronger.

    I expect that after being virulently anti-EU in their coverage for years that the Mail, Telegraph, Express etc will turn their attack guns on UKIP in the run up to GE2015 in order to help the Tories and nobody will notice the hypocrisy. The dirt on UKIP I am sure will already be hidden away ready to be brought out just in time to manipulate the GE agenda.

    I have been active in politics all my life because I rather naively as it turns out thought you could make a difference but now I simply observe it much like a spectator sport. I now think of myself as living in a quasi-democracy where change is only possible so long as it doesn’t detrimentally affect the 1% in a serious way.

    Not sure I can see it ever changing but despite my cynicism I shall continue to enjoy Anthony’s excellent blog!

    Report comment

  13. Your wrong about Maria Miller not moving polls, people are very angry about expenses.

    And many see it as hugely hypocritical when welfare frauds is punished so harshly.

    Its also been reported widely in the papers and on TV news.

    I reckon CON will lose a couple of points over this for the next couple of weeks.

    Report comment

  14. Miller episode seems to have had far less impact than the first ceremonies of the gay weddings which sent the Tories polling back down to their pre budget levels.

    Report comment

  15. @Bramley

    Aye, but the fixed parliament doesn’t include being stuck with the same PM does it?

    @MrNameless

    You may be right and there may be no alternative to DC (though see below) – but given a real UKIP threat continuing beyond July (their Euro peak ought to be noticeably on the decline by then as attention shifts to the next GE) then some Tories might start to get really worried. And if the economy picks up noticeably then perhaps some will suggest that GO take over?

    Report comment

  16. Cameron needs some better PR people – his tin ear for reading the public mood is really quite striking.

    It was abundantly clear as soon as the story broke that Miller was in an indefensible position in the eyes of the public. Exploiting the expenses system – wether it was within the rules or not – and then refusing to act in the least bit contrite – was guaranteed to provoke public anger.

    []

    Report comment

  17. Is the Culture, Media & Sport job now worse than Home Secretary ? It seems to be more of a hot potato these days, dealing with press regulation and issues which attract a lot of critical response.

    Report comment

  18. I’m not sure replacing the PM (even if there was an obvious replacement) would change anything much. It’s not like 1990 when the leader clearly was the issue. No cabinet ministers have been resigning over Cameron’s actions.

    Report comment

  19. @OllyT

    Couldn’t agree with you more.

    I would also say that the fact that the public is alienated from politics suits the Press just fine and that they have actively encouraged that alienation because, as you say, the less other people feel that attempts to influence the political process will have any effect, the more power is held by those who can.

    Having dealt with both groups regularly, frequently and over a long period, I would trust a politician over a journalist every day of the week, but unfortunately the journalist dictates the public perception of the politician.

    Report comment

  20. @RogerH

    It is very clear that Cameron is, by some considerable distance, the best candidate for PM that the Tories have.

    (Interestingly, he’d probably be rotten at most of the other Cabinet jobs. He might make a decent fist at DEFRA or DCMS, and he might make a useful Foreign Secretary if he could polish his diplomacy skills but, realistically, he is probably currently in the only big politics job of his career and I expect him to leave politics entirely when he is no longer PM).

    Report comment

  21. Sajid Javid has been given CMS. He’s MP for Bromsgrove, a safe Tory seat but with a significant UKIP and BNP vote.

    Report comment

  22. Surprised at Javid’s appointment. He will be a loss to The Treasury team, and DC has not promoted one of his excellent women ministers.

    Perhaps a sign that Javid’s star is on the rise though-a very competent & media savvy chap.

    Report comment

  23. @Oldnat – “I expect that after being virulently anti-EU in their coverage for years that the Mail, Telegraph, Express etc will turn their attack guns on UKIP in the run up to GE2015 in order to help the Tories and nobody will notice the hypocrisy.”

    I think you need to be extremely careful about applying your own prejudices here. There really isn’t any logical reason why you can’t be virulently anti EU but dislike UKIP. Pointing out the failings in UKIP need not equate to supporting the EU.

    I also think @Chris Riley, and yourself by implication, are fundamentally and completely wrong about the Miller story. This was not a storm created by the media for their own purposes.

    The nub of the story was actually created by the democratic process. An MP raised a complaint, and has followed it right through to the conclusion. The media picked up and helped drive the story in the public eye, but that’s the media’s job. If they weren’t doing this, then we would have some serious problems.

    Report comment

  24. Ah-Nicky Morgan replaces Javid-that’s good. She seems good on tv too.

    Report comment

  25. Todays trade figures show a narrowing gap, which sounds positive, but goods exports have fallen to their lowest level since November 2010. This really doesn’t sound like the type of recovery we have all been waiting for.

    Report comment

  26. @ Chris Riley

    Maybe I’m being a bit naïve about this but without comparable examples I do not have anything to go on. Not sure if this would necessarily be against AW’s policy as you are being critical of the press rather than the politicians- especially if you had a Lab example as well!

    Report comment

  27. Alec – indeed. Not only were exports down to the lowest since nov 2011 but imports also the lowest since 2011. Seems a bit odd. I think the fact that GDP per capita is still stagnant, rather than GDP as a whole which is rising, due to population growth, is affecting spending.

    As for miller, I would like to see just how much mps of all parties have made from the housing bubbles pre 2008 and the new one. Personal financial gains may be influencing policy which have been to build as little as possible, even from the late 90s to 2008, and prop up prices which numerous tools.

    Report comment

  28. There’s a piece over at the New Statesman on Nate Silver’s attempt to expand this 538 site into “data-driven reporting…”

    “When Nate Silver relaunched an expanded version of his “data-driven” reporting website FiveThirtyEight last week, he did so with a bit of a bang – a “manifesto”, to be precise, one that was likely drafted (per his suggestion) in the middle of the night with the aid of a lot of Red Bull. It’s cogent enough, if a bit rambling: Silver lays out the ills of the state of modern journalism, with its hunches and false trends and big, blustery ideas, stuff that’s rarely backed up by hard facts. He posits his own analytical methods – the ones that predicted the winner of the 2012 US presidential election correctly in every single state – as the antidote:

    ‘Narrative accounts of individual news events can be informative and pleasurable to read, and they can have a lot of intrinsic value whether or not they reveal some larger truth. But it can be extraordinarily hard to make generalisations about news events unless you stop to classify their most essential details according to some numbering or ordering system, turning anecdote into data.’”

    http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/03/nate-silver-and-fivethirtyeight-it-possible-data-driven-journalist-tell-good-story

    “In an interview with New York Magazine on the eve of the site’s launch, Silver had a go at op-ed sections more broadly, especially the New York Times, his former employer. (“They don’t permit a lot of complexity in their thinking. They pull threads together from very weak evidence and draw grand conclusions based on them.”) “

    Report comment

  29. Alec

    What are you on about????

    Report comment

  30. @ Chris Riley,

    In what way would better press regulation have altered the course of the Maria Miller scandal?

    I agree with you, the Leveson proposals need to be implemented. I agree the Government had no intention of pursuing it and now really have no intention of pursuing it, and I agree the rightwing press were gunning for Miller because she was a figurehead for press regulation and gay marriage.

    But she is also 100% guilty of the charge for which the public and the press have condemned her, it really is a genuinely bad thing she did, and it’s exactly the sort of thing the press should expose. The fact that the Telegraph has an agenda and pursued this story for the wrong reasons doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have pursued the story, or that a robust press regulator would have prevented it.

    Report comment

  31. John B,

    I don’t know about the idea of de-toxification. Left-wing politics and Scottish national identity are actually intertwined, according to many nationalists, and labels like ‘Thatcherite’, ‘neoliberal’ and ‘conservative’ are very effective methods of shutting down debate and closing off thought; I don’t see why that would change any more rapidly given independence. The tar-brush is a very useful tool of the Scottish left, that has enabled them to dominate Scottish politics despite (according to detailed research) being to the left of average Scottish opinion. Why would they drop that brush, just because we’d split from the UK?

    I also don’t draw much distinction between the SNP and Labour, except on the constitutional question. From my POV, their various virtues (the SNP on tax, Labour on welfare reform) roughly balance out, although I prefer the personalities in the SNP. As I said, my concern is Labour OR SOMETHING LIKE THEM. Calling Labour the “New Social Democratic party” or “the Social Alliance” or “the SNP” or whatever wouldn’t make matters better as far as policy goes.

    Report comment

  32. (Put another way: if I were in the SNP or Labour, I’d NEVER allow detoxification of the Tories and the Scottish right in general, if I could possibly help it. I’d even discourage people getting away with using the term ‘Scottish right’- far more useful to have it be conventional wisdom the right in Scotland are English or wannabe English. No true Scotsman would be anything other than a good socialist or social democrat.)

    Report comment

  33. @BP

    No true Scotsman would waste time with politics. :))

    Report comment

  34. For a midlands bellweather seat I’m surprised the constituency I work in, Birmingham Edgbaston, isn’t selected.
    If the Conservatives are to get an overall majority it is must win for them.

    Report comment

  35. @Bill Patrick

    “I don’t know about the idea of de-toxification. Left-wing politics and Scottish national identity are actually intertwined, according to many nationalists, and labels like ‘Thatcherite’, ‘neoliberal’ and ‘conservative’ are very effective methods of shutting down debate”

    Yes, but in the (still unlikely) event of independence, Scots who were more to the right politically would no longer be forced to align themselves with the policies and history which are still seen by many middle aged and older people as toxic. A Scottish equivalent of, say, the German CDU, could be a broad alignment of middle to right-wing views; or the SNP could gradually move in that direction.

    Obviously a total change won’t happen overnight and Scotland will continue to be predominantly left of centre for the next ten years or so, but once the whole independence think is over and done with the emerging Scotland would be free from the political ties to the 1980s and 1990s. After all, there is now a whole generation for whom Thatcher is ancient history. The question has to be simply this: whether those to the right of centre in Scotland can put together a coherent alternative which can challenge the left. Surely it’s not beyond the wit of people such as yourself…! Especially if the first Labour-led government in an independent Scotland makes a compete cock-up of the economy…….

    Report comment

  36. @JohnB

    Regarding Industrial change in Scotland and its effects on voting habits. I think the big realignments in Scottish Industry happened 20 years ago. The majority of Scotland is already a post-industrial economy and while this potentially does loosen trade union based ties to voting Labour it obviously has not completely transformed voting patterns so far.

    If we look at somewhere like North East Scotland the nature of the economy here is such that if it were in England you would be looking at strong Conservative territory.

    The SNP has been astute at capturing votes of the aspirational upwardly mobile working class and middle class voters. The Thatcher supporting “Basildon Man” of Essex votes SNP for Holyrood in Aberdeen. However this same voter seems quite prepared to vote in a Labour MP for Westminster.

    I agree that the SNP wouldn’t engage in civil war following a No vote, In many ways the current iteration of Independence put forward by the SNP is only just beyond a federal model which would be the obvious thing for them to propose post No while promising to continue to campaign for independence in the long term to keep the grassroots happy.

    Scottish Labour are difficult to call. In some ways the 2011 Holyrood election did them a favour as a number of promising new young MSPs were swept in (ironically thanks to their misguided prohibition from candidates standing in both regional lists and constituencies). People like Jenny Marra and Kezia Dugdale have a much more thoughtful view on the future of Scotland.

    The problem is the majority of Scottish Labour MPs are a real liability (with some honourable exceptions). I suspect a clear majority of Labour MPs in Scotland are privately opposed to the existence of Holyrood as it is now, never mind the devolution of more powers to Scotland, particularly if this involves reducing their role / numbers at Westminster. I struggle to see how a coherent vision for Devo Max can come out of Scottish Labour while these MPs continue to have the level of influence they do.

    Perhaps the best hope is for a renewed cross party constitutional convention to drive a future vision, Given previous experience (Calman etc) this would need to have SNP representation to have any credibility and I’m not sure how happily Scottish Labour could embrace that. Henry McLeish is probably the one person who could reasonably head up such a body and come up with a workable plan.

    Getting any plan through a Westminster parliament hostile to such moves especially if a No vote was viewed at Westminster as having “Won” the constitutional debate in favour of the status quo is also a tricky prospect. That’s why I see the 2016 Holyrood election as the most likely route to further devolution via another referendum (2018 or so?) to overcome Westminster’s objections.

    Of course we might just vote Yes instead which would certainly simplify matters and you can see why those who are in favour of Devo Max and against independence might be wavering over their decision as its tricky to plot a course where Devo Max succeeds within the current Westminster system.

    Report comment

  37. John B,

    “Yes, but in the (still unlikely) event of independence, Scots who were more to the right politically would no longer be forced to align themselves with the policies and history which are still seen by many middle aged and older people as toxic. A Scottish equivalent of, say, the German CDU, could be a broad alignment of middle to right-wing views; or the SNP could gradually move in that direction.”

    You can always give up your views. Independence doesn’t make that task easier, nor does it make the “same old Tories” hump any lower.

    “whether those to the right of centre in Scotland can put together a coherent alternative which can challenge the left. Surely it’s not beyond the wit of people such as yourself…! Especially if the first Labour-led government in an independent Scotland makes a compete cock-up of the economy…….”

    I’m sure that, if Labour were to make a cock-up of the economy, some other left-wing party would get in. And I don’t find much of a difference in attitudes between young Scots and old Scots on left-right issues.

    Going by the logic of independence arguments (“Change the constitution to get the government you want”) it’s irrational for right-wing people to support independence, short of the heroic assumptions of Michael Fry et al, i.e. that Scots will suddenly open up their copies of Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Hume’s Political Discourses come independence. Political balance doesn’t necessarily come to a country: look at Venezuela or Switzerland.

    In fact, it’s a bit of a muddle for nationalists: to win over Labour-orientated voters, they have to promise a “Tory-free Scotland!”; but that means putting off those of us, otherwise patriotically Scottish, who get queasy at the prospect of being governed by social democrats and socialists forever.

    When Labour works out how to do well in the south-west of England, I’ll reveal my strategy for turning Scotland into a liberal right-wing country!

    Report comment

  38. @Bill Patrick

    ‘A liberal right wing country’

    – you mean such as proposed by the US Republicans?

    I can see you having your work cut out there; you appear to be against the whole European social market etc, so presumably anti EU. You could vote ‘Yes’ to get Scotland out of the EU and then organise a military coup to kick out the trendy lefties….

    What you have to do is to present Scotland with a package which encourages the social cohesion necessary in a small country with the dynamic of an enterprise culture. Surely there are small countries around the world which have achieved that combination, aren’t there?

    Nil disperandum!

    Report comment

  39. @NorthumbrianScot

    “Of course we might just vote Yes instead which would certainly simplify matters”

    Would it? doesn’t look simple at all to me.

    Report comment

  40. John B,

    ” – you mean such as proposed by the US Republicans?”

    No. The US Republican party are neither notably good at controlling government spending nor liberals. In UK political terms, imagine Caroline Lucas and John Redwood forming a party together; that’s close to where I stand.

    “you appear to be against the whole European social market. You could vote ‘Yes’ to get Scotland out of the EU”

    No. I’m in favour of EU membership, not least because we force it to be more of an Anglo-Saxon style trade-orientated institution rather than an imperial superstate project for the French and Germans who miss the pre-1945 programmes of civilizing natives. (With the poor Greeks as the new Africans…)

    “What you have to do is to present Scotland with a package which encourages the social cohesion necessary in a small country with the dynamic of an enterprise culture. Surely there are small countries around the world which have achieved that combination, aren’t there?”

    Yes, but why assume that an independent Scotland will be like that? Especially when the SNP- by no means a gang of imbeciles- have decided that promising Sweden circa 1985 is a better way to persuade the Scottish people to vote Aye?

    Report comment

  41. @Guymonde re Simplifiying matters

    I mean from the perspective of someone in Scotland who is in favour of more devolution but against independence voting Yes might look a simpler option than waiting for unionist parties to come up with a plausible option for Devo Max.

    This for me is the one way that Yes might win. For some reason though no one in the No campaign seems interested in putting forward a positive vision for the future. Maybe this will change as polls tighten further?

    Report comment

1 2 3 4