The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up online here. Topline figures are CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%. UKIP at 15 is high by their recent standards, though we’ve seen a couple in recent weeks. Also worth noting is that the Greens are on 4%, once again, high by recent standards but something that’s popped up a couple of times this week. I suspect in both cases there is something of the impending European elections boosting parties outside the traditional big three. This also happened at the last European elections, though back then it was impossible to confidently distinguish it from the effect of the expenses scandal.

There is even better news for UKIP and the Greens on European election voting intention. YouGov have been showing UKIP challenging Labour for first place since the debates, they’ve now overtaken – topline European VI stands at CON 19%, LAB 28%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 31%, GREEN 8% – UKIP in first place, Greens challenging the Lib Dems for fourth.

The strong UKIP showing at the European elections does NOT mean people support leaving the EU. Asked how they’d vote in a referendum on EU membership 40% say they would vote to stay, 37% say they would vote to leave. While the lead is only three points, YouGov’s regular tracker is now consistently showing a lead for staying in. In the event David Cameron managed to renegotiate Britain’s membership people would be almost 2-to-1 in favour of remaining within the EU. This raises the question of what counts as a successful renegotiation – the thing people would most like to see is, by some distance, a limit on EU immigration, picked by 56% of respondents. Presented with Cameron’s actual renegotiating priorities 42% say they don’t go far enough, 15% that they go too far, 25% that they are about right.

Cameron’s own position doesn’t seem to be under much risk as a result of the EU elections or the Scottish referendum. As we discussed with the Maria Miller issue, on resignation questions political opponents tend to say people should resign *anyway* – the relevant thing to look at seems to be more the supporters of a politician’s OWN party. So as things stand 44% think Cameron should remain Tory leader and PM (including 88% of Tories), 27% think he should go (mostly Lab, Lib and UKIP). Asked what should happen if the Tories come third in the European election 40% think he should stay, 35% think he should go (amongst Tories 15% think he should resign, 76% think he should stay). If Scotland votes to become independent 49% think he should stay, 26% think he should go (amongst Tories 6% resign, 87% think he should stay). Of course, this is just public opinion, and hypothetical opinion at that: if Scotland votes YES (which would be the far more unprecedented and unpredictable event we don’t know how Westminster opinion would react, or how the public would react to it actually happening.

Turning to UKIP, most people do tend to see UKIP as a protest party (57%) rather than a serious party (20%) – but amongst UKIP voters themselves 71% think they are a serious party with workable policies. Only 25% of people say the UKIP posters this week are racist – 66% do not. Asked about Nigel Farage personally 27% think he is racist, 50% do not. Judging by this and the European election voting intention figures the fuss over the UKIP posters is more likely to have helped their support than damaged it.

Asked about the leaders debates at the next election half of people now want Nigel Farage included. 13% would prefer debates between just Cameron and Miliband as the only potential Prime Ministers, 19% to have three way debates with Clegg like last time.

There was also the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer last night – they had topline figures of CON 32%(+2), LAB 34%(-2), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 18%(nc)

378 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 31, LAB 36, LD 9, UKIP 15”

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  1. @STATGEEK: “Getting a better look at crowd as we leave. Estimate average age about 40. Less than you’d think.”

    Perhaps they were just the fastest down the stairs:

  2. @Roger

    Nah, the pensioners always hog the queues on the way in to anything. Post office, supermarket and the lot. It’s a 50-year learnt craft.

  3. Looks like Mercer’s gone, so I can retroactively retract my apology for reporting the by-election rumours! :p

    Should be interesting politically because while I don’t think the result will tell us much, it’s just contestable enough to make it a big PR coup for whoever wins. Obviously it would be a triumph for Ukip or Labour, but if the Tories can hold on (as I expect they will, narrowly) it should restore nerves shattered by the European elections.

  4. Ewen Lightfoot,

    “Too many speculative ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in your last post. Best perhaps to stick to what’s in store for next month.”

    I’m a philosopher- I get paid for little EXCEPT speculation!

  5. Ewen Lightfoot,

    “Too many speculative ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in your last post. Best perhaps to stick to what’s in store for next month.”

    True, but it’s an occupational hazard for those of us in the philosophy business, and not a bad pleasure when it’s done without important consequences.

  6. Sorry for the double post- I pressed backspace by accident and must have pressed the enter key beforehand.

  7. A great temptation for Farage, to make himself as unpopular in Westminster as he already is in Bruxelles.

    Perfect chance to create havoc by building alliances with the Tory awkward squad ahead of a GE.

  8. Spearmint,

    Labour have done well in terms of winning power and seats under Blair, but not in terms of popular support. 1997 was the only election during the Blair revival in which Labour did better than John Major’s Tories did in 1992. Labour won big in 2001 and 2005 only due to the nature of FPTP.

    Labour’s decline is masked by their very rough patch from 1983 to 1994, but if you compare their best elections in recent times with their worst elections in the post-war period, the decline is plain. As I said, it is masked for Labour because of FPTP, and they will continue to win impressively in terms of seats even though they can’t do it in terms of votes anymore.

  9. RogerH,

    Quite true- 43.9% is almost as low as Labour in 1997. Yet, in both cases, it did the job.

    As for split opponents, we are now moving into a four party system even in England (this has long been the case for us in Scotland, NI and Wales) and rather than the much hailed unification of the left, we seem to be seeing the continued fragmentation of the left AND now the fragmentation of the right.

    Peter Crawford,

    “I think Miliband will fall just short of a commons majority on little more than 35% of the vote. There is no enthusiasm for labour in the country. The right remains hopelessly split.”

    I agree that Labour will get about 35% of the (GB) vote. I disagree that they will fall short of a majority, because the Labour vote is distributed such that they can easily win a solid majority (I think 15-30 seats) with barely a third of the country voting for them and having no widespead enthusiasm.

    Whoever lost in 2010 had a very good shot to win in 2015, and Labour don’t need even a good performance to win a majority. They didn’t in 2005 or October 1974.

  10. BALBS

    A slight difference though. You weren’t taking a compulsory tax from everyone who bought one of your widgets (or anyone else’s widgets for that matter), then using some of that cash to fund your membership of the CoC, and reporting the views of the CoC to the country, as if it was nothing to do with you.

    Incidentally, James Cook has now unearthed that the Beeb has been a CBI member since 1980 – and that date has some political significance!

    Two points worth making –

    It would have been good practice for the BBC to say during events where they were quoting the CBI (say during elections, Miners Strike etc) that the BBC were members.

    James Cook may be looking for a new job very soon!

  11. “Conservatives had already picked a replacement for Mercer…”

    It was all so much more straightforward the eighteenth century.

    For an unbroken 93 year stretch all they had to do was pick a Manners, a Sutton, or a Manners-Sutton and Newark was theirs!

  12. @ Bill Patrick,

    But as Tony Dean wisely pointed out, the immediate post-war period was an entirely different playing field.

    Permanent majority status on 36% of the vote is the kind of decline Labour will cry about all the way to Number 10. (And don’t expect them to do anything about FPTP in the near future, either- outrage from Lib Dems and Kippers is all very well, but it’s not going to get them far if they can’t form a government. The Liberals have been complaining about this for fifty years and look how much it’s accomplished.)

    I measure decline by a party’s ability to win a majority or form a government. Let’s say every year you have a majority is worth 1 point and every year you lead a minority government is worth 0.5.

    From 1945 to 2000, Labour score 18/45.

    The Tories score 34.5/45.

    From 2000 to 2015, Labour score 9/15.

    The Tories score 2.5/15.

    Someone is definitely having unprecedented difficulties, but it isn’t Labour. If they fail to win even a plurality in 2015, they’ll still be scoring better than their postwar average.

  13. Meanwhile, the new normal:

    YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead remains five points: CON 32%, LAB 37%, LD 9%, UKIP 14%

  14. Spearmint,

    As I have repeatedly said, I’m not saying that Labour are having difficulties; I’m saying that their vote is in long-term decline, i.e. even in their best elections, they don’t get the same support that they once had. Quite WHY this is the case is what one can debate, but THAT Labour’s vote-share is falling in the long-term is not debatable.

    Your dates are also a bit odd- what’s so important about 2000?

    “Permanent majority status on 36% of the vote is the kind of decline Labour will cry about all the way to Number 10.”

    As Labour found out in 2007-2011 in Scotland, permanent arrangements are only permanent until they’re finished, and nothing lasts forever. That the collapse of Labour’s seat share in 2011 was so dramatic was a result of their distributional advantages eventually fading.

    There’s also the problem for Labour that, once the Tories realise that FPTP doesn’t work for them anymore, Labour have to stay in office forever or end up in a very new political environment, and the world of PR looks a lot less promising for Labour today than it did when Blair flirted with the idea. Loads of coalitions where Labour compete for the Lib Dems’ approval against the Tories? Easy work. Loads of coalitions where Labour compete for UKIP’s approval against the Tories? Not so much.

  15. In keeping with my new tradition of reporting unsubstantiated rumours, Tom Dunn at the Sun has tweeted that the Tory whips were pressuring Mercer to stay.

    I guess Cameron doesn’t want to gamble on a loss? If I were him I’d want to risk the by-election. Odds are on the Tories, he doesn’t have much to lose anyway as far as the general election is concerned, and a win would make the second half of 2014 much less painful for him.

  16. @Bill Patrick

    I think you’re getting a little fixated by vote shares at general elections and using these as the definitive yardstick of the health or otherwise of a particular political party. FTPT is a system that hideously inflates the electoral performance of BOTH the main parties, although the current constituency sizes and boundaries, plus differential turnout, make it slightly more ridiculously loaded Labour’s way at present. These factors favoured the Tories once but the baton has changed hands as time has worn on.

    In this context, the vote shares of both the Conservatives and Labour have declined steadily, as has turnout, but Labour are the only one of the two major parties to have won a parliamentary majority in the last four elections (they managed it in three), suggesting their death twitches, as you may describe them, are a little more animated than the Tories. Their vote share, and popular vote size, was less impressive than in past elections, but the Tories best effort in this 20 year period was 36%. Their twitches were more comatose.

    Using a football analogy, if you win the league with 75 points, you win the league irrespective of long gone seasons when you once won it with 90 points. Similarly, if you’re relegated with 40 points it’s no good moaning that a club survived with 35 points a few seasons before.

    Accordingly, a win is a win and if you’ve won three of the last four and your main opponent hasn’t won one for 22 years, then you’re a bit more alive than them.

    And I haven’t got on to other yardsticks like the geographical and demographic spread of a party’s support, the size of its membership, the potential pool of voters available to them, campaigning strength, finances etc.

  17. UKIP could win Newark. It’s possible. Particularly if disgruntled Tories want to send a signal to Cameron.

    But Farage would be a total fool to stand, as even if UKIP win the seat, it’s highly probable the Tories will get it back next May.

  18. Crossbat11,

    “I think you’re getting a little fixated by vote shares at general elections and using these as the definitive yardstick of the health or otherwise of a particular political party.”

    I could talk about voting membership if you really want, but then it goes from the grim to the depressing for the Big Two.

    Anyway, apparently I can’t repeat myself often enough about how I don’t think Labour’s short term prospects are bad (as I said, FPTP means that Labour can be in gradual decline and still win a lot of seats, especially since the Tories are undergoing a similar decline) and nothing you say contradicts what I’ve actually said, so giving up seems the most rational strategy.

    And FPTP won’t protect Labour forever, if they don’t find a way of altering the slide. I would say that their best bet is to reunite the centre-left as a result of the LDs going into an unpopular right-wing austerity coalition with the Tories, but this has actually already happened and Labour still don’t look like beating their result in 1979 after the Winter of Discontent.

  19. Oh, and I don’t think that I was harsh enough on this line-

    “I think you’re getting a little fixated by vote shares at general elections and using these as the definitive yardstick of the health or otherwise of a particular political party.”

    I’m using vote shares to judge popular SUPPORT for a political party. There are some genuine problems with this way of looking at things (which no-one has brought up yet) but the fact that FPTP is a matter of winning the right seats rather than winning votes per se is not one of them.

  20. Lots of politicians using a new expletive (testicles)

    This UKPR correspondent has just returned from Wales, with the Queen, actually nearly bumped into her, literally, by mistake, in Haverfordwest, shooed away in panic by police as I drove down the road at the same time her car was ascending it. Well, they didn’t stop us and we just wanted to see what all the fuss with all the flags was about.

    Looking at tonight’s YG poll, I don’t know why folk are getting so excited. Nothing has changed.

  21. @ Bill Patrick,

    I just picked a nice round number. Any cutoff is going to be arbitrary and disproportionately hurt one side or the other, since someone has to be in office at the time. The overall point remains, though- Labour have been much better at winning elections recently than they were in the past, despite their declining overall vote share. It certainly is in decline, but it seems odd to say they are when they’re more likely than ever to be running the country.

    The SNP defeated them because they are occupying a Labour-y niche more effectively than Scottish Labour. No such competitor has appeared on the English front- indeed one has just disappeared- and if anything the SNP’s success proves there’s still a strong market for a progressive, socially democrat party. It doesn’t have to be Labour, but in England they are currently the only game in town.

    You’re right about the dangers to FPTP if only one party supports it, but the Tories seem to be slow learners when it comes to constitutional reform. The best hope is probably to get a reformed House of Lords with PR so Tory MPs can gradually reconcile themselves to the concept.

  22. “if anything the SNP’s success proves there’s still a strong market for a progressive, socially democrat party”

    In Scotland, maybe (although the Scottish situation is complex, since on individual issues average Scots are to the right of our political masters) but Labour + LD 2010 percentages were about 54%, and now EVEN IF you still regard the LDs as appealing to progressive social democrats, that’s 45%.

    Quite why right-wing parties have more support now than in 2010 is a bit of a puzzle, but my point still stands: the best single event that could realistically happen to the Labour party’s prospects as a party of the united left happened in 2010, and it’s boosted them by at best 7%, even if you disregard all the other positives for Labour over the past four years. Labour need to do some serious talking if they don’t want to move from a 35% strategy to a 33% strategy to a 30% strategy to a…

  23. @ Bill Patrick,

    I’m using vote shares to judge popular SUPPORT for a political party. There are some genuine problems with this way of looking at things (which no-one has brought up yet)

    Tony Dean did bring them up. In an election where many constituencies only had Labour and Tory candidates standing, the vote shares of the big two are naturally going to be much larger than in an election where every constituency had a Lib Dem and the vast majority had some assortment of Ukippers, Greens, BNP, English Democrats, Socialists, and God knows who else as well. Elections since the 1980s were fought on the same terms as the current ones, but of course, Labour has actually increased its vote share in most general elections since then.

    The decline in turnout is a real, worrying phenomenon that’s independent of how many candidates are standing, but that hurts all the parties, not just the big two. It’s not a sign they’re in decline, it’s a sign the public are cynical and defeatist.

  24. @ Bill Patrick,

    Quite why right-wing parties have more support now than in 2010 is a bit of a puzzle

    Because Ukip are not uniformly right wing. They’re right wing + protest votes + poor white lefties concerned about free movement of labour and declining public services. It’s a coalition that may not be sustainable even in the short term, and certainly wouldn’t be if they went into government with the Tories.

    I agree that Labour badly need to shore up their support. Although expecting them to secure 40% of the vote five years after they were on 29% and presided over a massive recession seems unreasonable, even with Clegg’s help.

  25. Seems to me that LD and UKIP support is not so much about left or right as it is about none of the above.
    Witness the sizeable chunk of 2010 LDs who seem to have turned themselves from socially liberal centre (or centre left) LDs into socially conservative, economically right wing kippers at the drop of a hat.

  26. @RAF

    I don’t see the point in gambling Farage either. It’s a bit like using your best players in a League Cup game when you’ve got the Champions League three days later. Better to use squad players or some other upcoming talent.

    And often the people calling UKIP a one man band are the same people who call Farage a coward for not standing in every single by-election going. There’s little point pandering to that crowd.

  27. Spearmint,

    There was a reason why minor parties were very reluctant to stand in that period, and it wasn’t because of the different deposit requirements: check out the history of minor parties from 1918 to 1945. There was once a time when, for example, the ILP could stand and win in Glasgow.

    “It’s not a sign they’re in decline, it’s a sign the public are cynical and defeatist.”

    Those are not two inconsistent possibilities.

  28. In a poll a little while back, over 40% of UKippers were in favour of renationalising public services. How right wing would one consider such a cohort to be?

    The split in the left, then the right is not a given. With the left now reunited in terms of LDs, Labour are now suffering a UKip split, as are Tories of course. If immigration were not such an issue, removing UKip’s main raison d’etre, then vote shares of Tories and Labour might well be up past 40% again. As indeed they have been in polling at times this parliament.

    We’ve had immigration before, but of course we were much closer to full employment.

    Worth noting that if indeed a lot of Ukip votes are protest, and intend to revert to a major party at the GE, then it’s possible Labour may tend to gain those in favour of nationalisation…

    And of course, absolute vote share isn’t necessarily the whole story. E.g., what if a significant chunk of those saying they will still vote LD are doing so tactically to keep Tories out?

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