This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%. A Labour lead of four points and UKIP at 13%. UKIP are lower than yesterday, but worth noting that they’ve been averaging at around 13% since the second Clegg-Farage debate, compared to around 11% earlier in March.

YouGov also did a Maria Miller question yesterday, now obviously out of date, but which raised some interesting methodological questions. Asking a fair question is often a matter of giving the minimal amount of information necessary in order to get a response. The more information you give, the more you risk leading respondents, the more you risk essentially creating the perception of a public opinion that isn’t really out there. If pollsters ask the public a question, a fair proportion of people will answer, regardless of whether they actually have any real views at all (The classic example of this is the Public Affairs Act, which doesn’t exist, but which 18% of people are willing to express an opinion about.)

When a politician is in a scrape and pollsters ask if they should resign you normally end up prefacing the question with “Harriet Jones has been accused of killing kittens…”, when the respondent might previously have been unaware of the cat murdering rumours or of Harriet Jones. The very fact you are asking questions about Harriet Jones implies there is a fuss about her, and you can never tell what proportion of people would have said she should resign anyway, probably for the crime of being from the wrong party.

Yesterday YouGov asked about Maria Miller resigning, but in a different way. They didn’t mention expenses at all (if people had seen the story, they’ll have seen the story, if they haven’t, they haven’t) and they hid Maria Miller amongst lots of other politicians and asked, for each one, if they should resign or not. 63% of people said that Maria Miller should resign, only 9% said she should not, which is pretty unambiguous. However, 52% also think Nick Clegg should resign, 47% Michael Gove, 46% Ed Miliband, 37% George Osborne. The lowest was for Theresa May, but 30% of people still think she should resign. It seems whoever you ask about a fair chunk want them to resign, though note that in the case of Maria Miller people from all parties wanted to see the back of her, the other cases were mostly political opponents saying politicians from a party they dislike should go.

Two things to take away from this. One, the Maria Miller story was noticed. People did still think she should resign without any prompting in the question about what she was accused of. It still doesn’t imply it will have any effect on voting intention at all (people view these things through the prism of their pre-existing political support, and as I wrote yesterday, looking back it has been incredibly rare for events like this to have any measurable impact on voting intention) but it did get noticed, or her figures would have been the same as everyone else’s.

Secondly, do be careful about “should X resign” questions when you see them asked in isolation. Lots of people will say a politician from a government they are opposed to should resign anyway, regardless of the scandal de jour. Perhaps it’s worth paying special attention to the answers from supporters of the politician’s own party.

47 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 33, LAB 37, LD 10, UKIP 13”

  1. “Harriet Jones has been accused of killing kittens…”, when the respondent might previously have been unaware of the cat murdering rumours or of Harriet Jones.”


    It’s true, it’s the first I’ve heard of it. Definitely should resign though…

  2. Not sure whether you intended to use the fictional MP from Doctor Who…

    Anyway, I had to laugh a little at the idea that Labour supporters really want Clegg to resign, seeing as he’s the greatest asset they’ve got.

  3. It seems that UKIP are on a bit of a rise. Interesting to see if this continues or they drop back to the 10-11% mark.

  4. I like the ‘ratchet’ theory about events that affect voting intention. Events affect polling data temporarily then it bounces back down but to a slightly changed mean. So there is say a 4% boost to the Conservatives from the budget, then two weeks after everyone says the effect has disappeared but really they are 1% higher. I think it is something in this order though perhaps statgeek could attempt an analysis.

    It looks very like the stock market where something crashes then rallies then crashes in a series of aftershocks that end up with a lower general level.

  5. Sajid Javid replaces Maria Miller. Another George Osborne placeman in the Cabinet, GO certainly strengthening his position. He seems to be the man pulling the levers, has to be a good bet to replace Cameron.

  6. JTE,

    I wouldn’t have thought so. George Osborne strikes me as a Keith Joseph, Tony Crosland or Roy Jenkins: not leadership material, but someone who perhaps shifts the ideological direction of a party and pulls many strings within it.

  7. Indeed, in an increasingly image-conscious political landscape, it would make sense for parties to reduce the power of the leaders and go back to more of a cabinet-orientated governance approach, as the most marketable figure will rarely be the most natural leader from a strategy/policy perspective.

  8. It’s probably pretty fair to put “X politician should resign” into the same category of “Do you want a Referendum on X” questions. There’s always going to be a core weight of people saying Yes.

  9. I take the point in AW’s last sentence about every question of the ‘do you agree’, ‘which do think is best’, ‘who do you dislike most’ ‘who is to blame’ categories, in other words all of them except ‘for whom are you going to vote’. The nuances are interesting but just that.

    The other point is that both UKIP and LD scraped up a point or two following the EU debates, publicity again, just that. Same with the Budget, not to do with the content of it.

  10. I wonder if Theresa May’s low score is simply a product of her relatively low profile, i.e. that it’s akin to “Who do you think should be leader of party X?” type questions, which seem generally to measure the degree of notability (or notoriety) of a politician.

  11. I note that the site is being blanketed with advertisement for the announcement of a prize for creating an economic “solution” for a successful british exit from the EU.

    Interestingly, the solution is to be Norway, but also somehow not have to agree to any of the EU regulations that Norway still has to agree too. And the prize winner is an econo… Ah, no, apparently they couldn’t find any economists who were saying the right things. It goes to a middle ranking trade envoy in Manila.

    It’s a shame I hadn’t heard of this prize before now, it’s not every day you see the chance to win £100,000 by making up comforting and over-simplified prognostication.

  12. The cases of last two Chancellors who went on to become party leader (and PM) didn’t end well. Osbourne might well take note.

    On the Miller case, if we get a rash of this sort of thing, then that will change things. It just depends which party they come from. If it’s just an isolated case then it’ll soon be forgotten, in favour of those issues that won’t go away: the Economy, Immigration, the EU, etc.

  13. If we take the averages before and now, to try to detect the joint effect of the budget and Euro debates (no way to separate them), it looks to me as though Con and UKIP haven’t moved, but LDs have taken 1% from Labour. This matches a small but discernible reduction in the proportion of 2010 LDs now supporting Labour.

    The effect is really small, and may not last, but for me the message is that, contrary to general opinion at the time, the winner from the Euro debates was Clegg. Albeit a very small win.

  14. Bill Patrick

    Yes, I’ve always thought of GO as the ideas man behind the scenes but I’m sure he has ambitions to be more than that. IMO lacks personal charisma (needs to do something about that sneer/smirk) but I believe he has carefully built up a lot of support within the Tory party. You don’t have to like him but if the right people believe he can deliver the goods, he’s got to have a chance. I’m not sure how the process for choosing the leader works in the Conservative party but I suspect some have more influence than others.

    GO wouldn’t be my choice but then I’m not a Tory supporter. I’d certainly agree we could do a lot better than just having another PR man as leader of any of the parties and certainly as PM.

  15. Surely a resignation clears the decks for the party that MP represents, so therefore, opposition supporters shouldn’t want a resignation (if they are being purely partisan when responding in polls). They should want said MP to stay and the toxicity to remain.

  16. JTE,

    Leaders in the Tory party have to pass two main hurdles: the parliamentary party and the constituency party. Anne Widdecombe was popular with the former and not the latter, whereas (if I remember correctly) Ken Clarke had more of the opposite problem.

    This is quite different from the Labour party, where weakness at one level can be counterbalanced with strength at another level (and there are the additional complications of the associated organisations and trade unions).

    So Osborne would not only need to get past the parliamentary party, but also win over a majority of the party members.

    As far as I can tell, Osborne is like Harriet Harman, in that he knows the reasonable bounds of his ambition, and seeks to maximize his success within them. Like her, I doubt that he would even bother running.

  17. How well is the UK economy actually doing ? We have had recent reports that the UK’s current account deficit is at a record low level, so we are importing a lot more than we are exporting. There is now a report that UK exports are at a three and half year low.

    If the growth is based on a property boom and retail spending, it could be short lived. The current government may not get any credit for its economic policies come the next election, if people don’t believe that the UK economy has recovered.

  18. R HUCKLE

    you probably noticed this bit of the DT report :-

    “Longer term, the trade deficit is falling sharply, but this is largely due to a slide in goods imports.
    In the three months to February, the trade deficit has almost halved to £4.8bn, compared with £8.7bn in the previous quarter. In that time, goods exports fell 2.5pc to £72.7bn, while imports of goods dipped 4.7pc to £99bn.”

    Putting aside our difficulty in raising export volumes as we would wish, a fall in imports , particularly one large enough to reduce the trade deficit, is very welcome.

    It has always been a feature of our economy in recent years that when it grows, we seem to suck in foreign goods to meet UK consumer demand.

    We appear to be growing our economy , without pushing up imports of goods-or indeed workers ( most new jobs have gone to UK citizens).
    These are good sign of “re-balancing”as is the long awaited increase in investment.

    There is more to do -certainly on Exports-but there are good signs too.

  19. @R Huckle

    One big problem is that a small correction to an over-heating property boom now is going to be a lot better than a large correction later. But doing so would lead to a direct economic hit on home-owners (or rather mortgage owners) during the lead up to an election.

    People are predicting that Interest Rates are going to go up sharply at the start of 2015. But I suspect there will be heavy pressure to keep punting it down the road for the next government to deal with, and there’s been predictions that the BoE will “have” to put Interest Rates up soon for quite some time now with no resulting action…

  20. @Colin

    It’s less to do with the UK economy, and more to do with the growing global cost of “importing”. China’s internal modernisation, and enlarging ‘special economic zones’ is producing a growing middle class and increasing the standard of living in China. This increases costs of labour, at the same time as increasing China’s internal demand for it’s products. There are already several class of items where it’s no longer excessively profitable to import from China, and there’s been a fall in exports over all from China.


    Imports from China are up in the ONS report-both for Feb & the last Qtr.

    The big reductions have been in imports from Germany, France, Netherlands, USA & Spain.

  22. Bill Patrick

    Thanks for info on the Tory selection process. Glad to hear it’s not a decision made behind closed doors in some smoky boozy back room. What I really meant was there are usually people within any organisation with sufficient clout to influence events and decisions to achieve their own ends.

    GO like Harriet Harman, I’m struggling a bit with that. I see him more like Littlefinger or the Eunuch fella in Game of Thrones with eyes and ears everywhere and a finger in every pie. Come to think of it you’re probably right it’s hard to imagine either of those two ever becoming The Hand. (Apologies if you don’t follow Game of Thrones.)

  23. R HUCKLE

    @”If the growth is based on a property boom and retail spending,”

    ONS sector analysis of GDP growth shows the following:-

    Q4 2013 vs Q3 2013
    GDP + 0.7%

    Sector growth & Sector component of total GDP growth:-

    Agriculture +0.2% & 0%
    Production +0.5% & +0.1%
    Construction -0.2% & 0%
    Services + 0.8% & + 0.6%

    The Services sub-sector with largest growth was Business Services , with +1.0% growth & a GDP contribution of +0.3%

    Q4 2013 vs Q4 2012
    GDP + 2.7%

    Sector growth & Sector component of total GDP growth *:-

    Agriculture -2.4% & 0%
    Production +2.2% & +0.3%
    Construction +3.4% & + 0.2%
    Services + 2.5% & + 2.1%

    The Services sub-sector with largest growth was Business Services , with +2.7% growth & a GDP contribution of +0.8%

    * Rounding may cause components not to add to Total.

  24. @Colin

    The UK’s imports from China are mainly trans-shipped through the US or mainland Europe. For instance, if you buy a Macbook, it’s imported to the UK from a brokerage firm in Koeln, Germany, but was originally shipped from Shanghai, China.

  25. Incidentally, I’d entirely support an EU reform to do with trans-shipments what the VAT reform has done with the Luxembourg loophole. Duty revenues should be going to the country of consumption, not the country with the trans-shipment hub and favourable import rates.

    I don’t see why the UK hasn’t been publicly at the forefront of these kind of EU reforms.

  26. The current account is so poor because the balance of earnings on investments have turned hugely negative for the UK. Partly this is the downside of encouraging inward investment, as foreign companies seek to repatriate their profits.(also poor investment returns in Asia)

    To fund the trade deficit, the UK has to sell more of its domestic assets, which then leads to bigger current accoubt deficits later – one of the UK’s chronic economic problems

    The 3 month difference in trade narrowed by 3bn

    ‘in the three months ending February 2014, the deficit on trade in goods was £26.2 billion, compared with a deficit of £29.2 billion in the preceding three months’ ONS–february-2014.html#tab-Value-of-UK-Trade-in-Goods

    As you can see from the ONS page this was due to very large declines imports of

    Oil 500m
    Capital goods 600m
    Chemicals 700m
    Semi manufactured goods 1000m
    Aircraft 500m

    Imports of consumer goods (including cars) actually increased by 600m

    Some of this is erratic – Aircraft (December trade balance was unusually low partly because of a big order for the UAE airforce).

    Oil is because of a mild winter.

    I would be concerned about the declines in capital goods as UK industry should be tooling up for investment

    I feel the trade balance will be a net drag on growth GDP Q1 of about 0.5%

  27. I also note another simple reform that could do wonders for out trade balance. The UK has a highly skilled work force, and we could be assembling low cost raw materials and components into high cost end-user goods. But in a master stroke of legislative inertia maintaing short term measures past their usefulness, it costs less to import fully assembled end-user electronics that it costs to import the components used to make it!

    Dropping the duty on semiconductors and electrical components down to the same rate as assembled electrical goods would be a huge shot in the arm for the UK Tech industry.

  28. Osborne will only take over if Cameron is PM post may 2015, and even then his chances are slim.

    Portillo had half the shadow cabinet behind him in 2001 and didn’t make the last 2.

    Talk of “placemen” and GO’s men doesn’t really understand politics. these guys are highly ambitious individuals. just because someone gives you a break it doesn’t mean everlasting fealty and obligation. even the guys in a strong feudal society like Game of Thrones turn against their liege lords.

    Osborne is still a very long shot for the leadership.

  29. @Jayblanc

    ‘The UK has a highly skilled work force, and we could be assembling low cost raw materials and components into high cost end-user goods’

    that is very good. I like that.

  30. Miller’s replacement as Culture Secretary is the current MP for Bromsgrove. The previous MP for that attractive market town in Worcestershire, the birthplace of A.E. Housman*, was none other than the fragrant Julie Kirkbride who, along with her husband and fellow Tory MP, Angus McKay, got into a terrible pickle with second homes, mortgages and expense claims. They both fell on their respective swords before their electors had a chance to express their opinions on them in May 2010.

    I do hope this isn’t a ominous precedent for Sajid Javid as he settles into his new role.

    * Famous for his collection of poems, “A Shropshire Lad”, Housman was in fact a Worcestershire man by birth. However, he wrote some wonderful poetry about the beautiful rural county of Shropshire; his “Land of Lost Content”.

    Into my heart an air that kills
    From yon far country blows:
    What are those blue remembered hills,
    What spires, what farms are those?

    That is the land of lost content,
    I see it shining plain,
    The happy highways where I went
    And cannot come again.

  31. @Mr Beeswax
    Regarding VI pre/post budget.
    There have been 14 polls post budget, so I compared those with the 14 previous for balance.

    Pre mean = 33.1%
    Post mean = 33.9%
    Not statistically significantly different(p=0.08)

    Pre mean = 38.6%
    Post mean = 37.6%
    statistically significantly different(p=0.03)

    Liberal Democrat
    Pre mean = 9.4%
    Post mean = 9.8%
    Not statistically significantly different(p=0.29)

    Pre mean =12.0%
    Post mean =11.7%
    Not statistically significantly different(p=0.54)


    I read that table as saying imports of “consumer goods other than cars” are down for the latest month & quarter.


    I’m not convinced that all Chinese imports to UK are included in re-exports from other countries.

    In any event, I do not believe that ALL the exports from the countries I cited derive from China! They clearly include3 those countries own products.

  33. @Crossbat

    Housmans isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m all for poetry generally, so, as a late celebration of equal marriage, here’s another.

    Oh Who Is That Young Sinner

    Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
    And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists?
    And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
    Oh they’re taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.

    ‘Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his;
    In the good old time ’twas hanging for the colour that it is;
    Though hanging isn’t bad enough and flaying would be fair
    For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.

    Oh a deal of pains he’s taken and a pretty price he’s paid
    To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade;
    But they’ve pulled the beggar’s hat off for the world to see and stare,
    And they’re haling him to justice for the colour of his hair.

    Now ’tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet
    And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat,
    And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare
    He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.

  34. @CATMANJEFF. Thanks that is very illuminating.

    Would I be right in assuming that ‘p’ is margin of error which at 95% probability i.e. .05 is deemed significant?


    Gingerphobia is a terrible thing.

    Playing devil’s advocate here… the thing people seem to object to about the gay lobby (which I broadly support) is that it is a bit ‘in yer face’ and has become ‘the love that won’t shut-up about it’s name’.

  36. @Mr Beeswax

    Not sure I could really. Try:

    That’s the UK data for 2014 in a ten-poll rolling average trendline. There’s a noticeable lift for Con at the budget (21st March), then it drops again at the date of BBC EU debate (2nd April). Labour has dropped throughout, with a slight tick up on the 4th April (guesses anyone?).

    The Lib Dems don’t seem to have benefited from the debate.

    I would say that before the budget the Con VI of 33% we saw was less solid, and after the budget more so. The current Miller stuff leaves that open to debate of course.

    I’m curious to see if UKIP get some form of lift at the EU, and we end up with:

    Con 31%
    Lab 34%
    Lib 9%
    UKIP 18%

    …which is fanciful, but not completely outside of reality, given recent polling. The most notable bit will be Con + UKIP being far greater than Lab + Lib. It’s not a point of either pair teaming up, so much as how it affects Con and Lab marginals.

  37. @Mr Beeswax

    Yes. P = probability

    At a 95% CI, p<=0.05 is statistically different.

  38. JTE,

    I’m a 25 year old university student. To say that I watch Game of Thrones is an understatement!

    Varys is a good comparison, in that I think that people focus on aspects of George Osborne’s personality (which shall go undisclosed) and ignore the fact that he’s very clever. The same is true of Harman, I think; people focus on her views on some issues, and ignore her tremendous success within the party; she’s a very smart person, whatever you think of her various opinions. Then again, I believe that almost all politicians are smarter than most people think…

    “Glad to hear it’s not a decision made behind closed doors in some smoky boozy back room.”

    No! … Not anymore. “Elections” prior to 1965 were quite farcical, being a matter of taking informal “soundings” from the MPs, and then picking someone out of a hat of Eton graduates’ names.

  39. Statgeek,

    “Con 31%
    Lab 34%
    Lib 9%
    UKIP 18%”

    I think that Crossbat11 would regard the LDs as a little high in that scenario.

    (This should have been on the last thread but I assume you are no longer reading that one)
    Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

    It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

    It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

    Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

    It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
    Booby Kennedy 1968,
    What a loss that man was to social democracy.

  41. @colin

    I was including cars as consumer goods for the purposes of grouping into different sectors (oil, capital goods, conumer goods etc)

    3 month comparision
    import up 485m exports down 81m = 566m increase

  42. Playing devil’s advocate here… the thing people seem to object to about the gay lobby (which I broadly support) is that it is a bit ‘in yer face’ and has become ‘the love that won’t shut-up about it’s name’.
    Not at all – even in central Edinburgh, with its famed ‘pink triangle’, it takes a lot of nerve for gay men to hold one another’s hand whilst walking along the street.

    Older gay people have years of ‘shame’ to overcome. It’s a good thing that ‘in yer face’ gay people are inspiring others to be honest with their friends, family, work colleagues etc.

  43. @STATGEEK thanks, that shows the trend really clearly.

    Not trying to make work for you or anything – but I’d be interested to see ‘significant events’ on such charts.

    I realise this may go against the grain for you as an impartial person who wouldn’t want to be cast in the role of subjectively deciding what events those were. If you wanted to maintain impartiality those events could be decided by ‘number of mentions in posts’ but that sounds like a right drag!

    Anyway thanks again to yourself and CATMANJEFF for the real trends more than any comment could. It’s remarkable how many people, myself included, see trends when really there are none.

    So it seems The Budget, Clegg-Farage and Millergate combined have thus far produced Labour down 1% and nothing else significant.


    @” was including cars as consumer goods ”

    About 50% of all UK car registrations are Private Consumers & 50% are Company/Fleet Purchases

  45. @Mr Beeswax

    “I don’t know why you have to keep going on about it”, or whatever.

    First heard that argument about 40 years ago. It’s no truer now than it was then.

    Most gay people don’t make a fuss, it’s just too much hard work, and generally we don’t think you’re worth it.

  46. The link to the repeal of the public affairs act question is really interesting.

    24% of UKIP supporters would like to repeal an act that does not exist. Against 9% overall.

  47. @AW

    Have I strayed over some line? Reference to a military coup was a little bit tongue in cheek…..