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. I was in Ireland last week and took note of some interesting polling trends there. After their hammering and ejection from government in 2011, Fianna Fail’s popularity is slowly creeping upwards, but I can’t see them forming a government any time soon. Of the two coalition parties in government, Fine Gael are doing reasonably well, but Labour’s vote has collapsed (compare with similar situation here). Sinn Fein are doing very well out of all this and should be winning seats in the upcoming EU election.

    It seems to me there has been a general rise in nationalism and thus support for nationalist parties in several EU countries (see France).

    There’s a particularly interesting question in an Irish independent poll for the Dublin EU consituency: 54% are said to be in favour of a new political party – that would be an instructive question to ask here.

    I suppose this is hardly an unexpected result: when there is a long drawn out problem such as the EU crisis, and all the various “old” parties have been tried systematically by the electorate. The one who “caused” the problem gets most of the blame, and gets thrown out, then someone else tries to fix it, and depending on circumstances, the electorate may well not have the patience to stick with them. Thus there is ready support for something “new”.

  2. @Spearmint @Amber Star

    Do you think Mercer is going to do a Benn? Stand down to force an election and then (he hopes) win it to force the issue of the Standards Committee vs the will of the people?

    Now that would be interesting…

  3. @Mr Beeswax

    No, it really is a non-story. If the money was used to commission programmes against UKIP then it would be, but it hasn’t and it isn’t.

    If you think the BBC is actively campaigning against any party then you should complain to Ofcom.

  4. Europe elections – I’m guessing:

    1. LAB +4 (over UKIP, +9 over CON)
    2. UKIP + 5 (over CON)
    3. CON

    I’m not going to hazard a forecast of what the specific %s will be. Maybe something like:
    LAB 31
    UKIP 27
    CON 22
    Or thereabouts.

  5. @ Tony: The threshold is implicit, not formal… it’s basically the number of votes needed to win the ‘last’ seat, ie the seat in the round with the highest divisors. As DAODAO said, the implict threshold varies.

    The more parties win seats, (other things equal) the higher the implicit threshold. But the more seats there are, (other things equal) the lower the implicit threshold. So it’s a tradeoff between the two. But the distribution of votes matters too, especially when there are few seats.

    For example, last time in the Northwest there were 8 seats split between 5 parties, and the threshold turned out to be very fractionally under 8%… In the Northeast there were 3 parties sharing 3 seats, so the threshold was a whopping 17.6%

    You can estimate what the thresholds will be this time, but it requires a forecast of what the vote share will be in each region…

  6. Essentially you if you have x seats to allocate, you divide the total votes cast for each party by 1, 2, 3 etc until you get to x.

    Each division is placed in columns – column 1 for the division by 1, column 2 for the division by 2 etc.

    The x highest values win the seats.

    The chart makes it simpler to understand….

  7. @Grhinports

    “This seems to be the standard Con rebuttal about UKIP and to me it seems they might be making a mistake about the rise of UKIP since Im not sure its about the EU all that much.
    Rather its seems a combination of standard anti-establishmentarianism, meeting concerns about immigration, mixed with a social conservative desire to return to a perceived UK of a bygone era.”

    I agree you with here and it’s been my interpretation of UKIP’s appeal for some time. Like a lot of people, I at first mistook them for a single-issue pressure group obsessed with Brussels, but they’ve mutated a long way from that now, tangling their tendrils around all sorts of politically sensitive, mainly right wing, issues.

    It’s essentially why I see them having a longevity, and scope for steady progression, that has eluded parties like the Greens, Respect and BNP. The oxygen they’re breathing is a heady air of anti-establishment and anti-politics and the mainstream parties, cloaked as they are in blandness and uninspired managerialism, only have themselves to blame for the monster that they have unwittingly created.

    I blame the press too for their misrepresentation and parodying of mainstream politics and politicians, but that debate is for another place and time. For now, Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems have to counter the threat that UKIP pose and that means the reinvention of mainstream politics. Bin the pantomime of farces like PMQs and metronomic sound-bite recitations and remember that politics is more than stealing petty advantage and trading anodyne statistics; it’s about raising peoples eyes to something better and making that tantalising prospect exciting and attainable.

    Who can break the inhibiting chains and expose Farage’s essentially fraudulent and superficial bandwagon for the nonsense it is? I’m biased, I know, but I’d love to see the country’s only truly centre left nationwide party, Labour, go for broke over these remaining 12 months before the election. The game’s there to be won, in my view, by a party that dares on issues like electoral reform, party funding, redistributive taxation, restoring trade union rights, shaking up employment practices, climate change, banking reform, pensions, funding care for the elderly, the NHS, local government reform; the list goes on. Lift people’s eyes above immigration, welfare scroungers, dole cheats, Eurocrats – please, somebody, somewhere…please.

  8. @THESHEEP Not a non-story to me, the BBC takes my money to run an impartial service representing all the people. Taking money from the Eu and the CBI undermines my faith. If they are such as national treasure, why not let the people decide if they want to subscribe? If this was any other sphere of life the BBC would be all over this regressive poll tax like a rash, not dragging the poor off to court by the van load.

  9. @ Tony Dean

    I apologise if I have confused you. While d’Hondt does use a divisible system to calculate the allocation of seats, once the votes have all been counted and the seats distributed, the threshold below which a party will not have been able to win any seats or to gain any more seats becomes apparent. It is effectively the %vote required for the last seat to be allocated. Votes for parties (typically minor ones such as the Greens) whose total %vote does not reach this threshold have effectively been wasted and will have been discarded by the end of the calculation; what is more, they reduce the winning threshold (in % terms) for the other parties.

  10. The Sheep

    Ofcom have no jurisdiction over the BBC. Only the BBC Trust can deal with complaints against the BBC.

  11. Mr Beeswax

    Belonging to the CBI means paying them money as a subscription, presumably, rather than ‘taking money from them’.

    Not necessarily any better, since I don’t know what benefits we or the BBC gain from their membership bought by a small percentage of our licence money.

  12. Does anyone know when the Tories last got under 20% in a national election?

  13. In answer to my own question, I just had a quick look at election results for the Tories in UK elections and I can’t see them ever getting less than 20% in any GE in modern times. Even John Major managed 28% in the 1994 European Elections. I think a sub-20% for the Tories will be very uncomfortable for Cameron.

  14. Yes, it will be their worst nation election result in anything, ever. The utter rout that was the 1995 local elections had a R&T projected vote share of 25% for the Tories.

    The Tories have been notably quiet since all the rebellions etc. of last year, but how long many of them can hold their tongues will be entirely dependent on whether the Tories come third.

  15. @ Daodao,

    But none of that alters the fact that the threshold for getting a first seat is by definition much lower than the threshold for getting a second or third.

    So if your goal is to keep the BNP out, your best strategy is to find a party just shy of winning one seat and vote for them to push the BNP down into fifth or sixth place. In most places this means you should vote for the Lib Dems or the Greens, although in Wales you should vote for Plaid and in the Northeast you should vote Tory.

  16. @Daodao, Catmanjeff & Numbercruncher

    Thank you all. I understand what Daodao meant now. Yes, as Numbercruncher kindly explained it is implicit, not formal. Thanks for the link Catmanjeff.

    What occurs to me immediately is that using this system within small regions like the NE doesn’t really give very democratically valid results? Surely it would be better to have electoral regions of between 8 and 10 for more accurate representation?

  17. @ Catmanjeff,

    Good luck in the elections!

  18. The odds on the tories coming 3rd next month are very short. they will almost certainly come behind labour and ukip. i expect the party will show some discipline, before being turfed out of office in May 2015. then the fun will start…

  19. Just been reading the Telegraph article about an LD “bloodbath” in the EU election, being told to expect to lose all their MEPs. I think that’s fairly unlikely, but there will be regions where ~10% is nowhere near enough to get a seat because there are so few on offer there.

    Perhaps 3-5 seats after the election might be more like it.

  20. @BIGD
    The answer is simple: Never!
    The lowest Con score in a GE was 30.7 in 1997. (Highest: 55% in 1931)
    In the history of European Elections (since 1979), their lowest score was 26.7 (2004) and their highest one 48.4 (1979).
    For the sake of comparison, the lowest score of Labour in a European Election was their bad performance of 2009 (15.8) and their highest one was in 1994 (42.6). Their actual average in European VI polls (around 30%) is close to their scores of 1999 (28%) and 1979 (31.2%), but then they were second after the Conservatives (36 and 48.4% respectively). In the history of General Elections, Labour had its lowest score in 1900 (1.8) and its highest one in 1945 (49.7).

  21. @BIGD
    (Continue from the previous post)
    In other words, any Con score below 26.7% will be their worst one in a nation-wide election (GE or EE).
    As for the LDs, their actual VI for 2014 EE is very close to there all-time low since 1979, which was 6.2% in 1989 (their highest was 18.5 in 1984).

  22. The “fact” I’ve seen quoted is that the Tories have never come third in a UK-wide vote.

  23. Billy Bob,

    That is correct. They came 1% from doing so in 1995 when the Lib Dems took 24%.


    It’s a non-story and putting it in the same sentence as the awful behaviour of Cyril Smith is, in my view, bordering on the offensive. That Spectator article is little more than a long anti-BBC whing.

  25. @BigD

    My guess is that the Tories have never been so low in % terms since ‘modern’ politics got going after the 1832 Reform Act. That being the case, we are in the middle of an unparalleled political revolution. Or, it’s just a blip. But, if so, it’s a blip which has already lasted nearly twenty years.

    The word ‘unprecedented’ is used far too often in the media, but the combination of Scotland/EU/Coalition would appear to make that word appropriate for the situation we now find ourselves in.

  26. BigD’s question made me check my records, and interestingly the Tories got less than 20% of the electorate (as opposed to votes cast) in both 2001 and 2005, as did Labour in 2010.

    Further evidence that the old 2.5 party hegemony is collapsing.

  27. @OldNat

    Thanks – actually you can complain to Ofcom about the BBC, but not about bias, oddly.

  28. @ Virgilo

    Wikipedia put the Labour result at the 1945 GE at 47.7% and their score in 1951 GE at 48.8%. Labour of course got 11.9m in 1945, 13.2m in 1950 and 13.95m in 1951. Unprecedented I think for a governing party to put on 2 million votes and lose seats! But that’s FPTP for you.

    Anyway, I predict that a sub-20% for the Tories will a psychological blow to the Tories and will be licence for the Taliban wing to kick up an almighty stink.

  29. @BigD

    But will the Taliban wing join UKIP? In other words, are we seeing the end of the Conservative Party as it has existed since……… when?

    The Liberals disintegrated gradually in the early decades of the last century, and were replaced with the Labour Party which was further to the left. Are we seeing the same now with the Tories being gradually replaced by UKIP?

    Does this really seem likely?

  30. @ Spearmint

    The threshold for d’Hondt is an implicit one and can only be determined after all seats have been allocated. Votes for parties that fail to reach this “threshold” and thus fail to gain any seats are completely wasted and effectively reduce this single “threshold”.

  31. I think we are probably seeing the splintering of the right-wing vote, similar to the splintering of the left-wing vote in the 1980’s. It will probably be better for the Tories in the long-run if the Taliban tendency left the party all together and joined UKIP. That way they can truly be a centre-right party. Keeping them could create similar problems the Republicans in the US are facing with the Tea-Party backed candidates in the tent but pulling all Republicans further to the right, thereby making a General Election victory extremely difficult.

    A big problem for the Tories is their membership. It is extremely low and elderly. In a sense they are dying out. You can’t have a functioning party with so few young and middle aged people. It distorts the views of the party to have one section of the population picking candidates. If the Tories got rid of the Taliban tendency they could attract younger more tolerant members.

  32. ukip is a revolt on the right. the 20th century coalition of working class AND middle class tory voters keeping the blues in power for most of the period from 1900, has been fractured.

  33. Anthony, there is an error in your polls listing.

    The 21 April 33/36/10/13 was a Populus, not a YouGov.

    There was no YouGov due to Bank Hol but there was still a Populus.

    Your numbers are right but name of pollster is wrong.

  34. @mrnameless

    “Yes, it will be their worst nation election result in anything, ever. The utter rout that was the 1995 local elections had a R&T projected vote share of 25% for the Tories.”

    Yes, I remember it well. It meant that some of us in other parties who only stood as “paper” candidates actually got elected!!!

  35. @BIGD
    You are of course right, I misread the 47.7 of Labour in 1945 as 49.7. So indeed their all-time high was the 48.8 of 1951, and this is in fact ironic: they nevertheless lost the election because of FPTP (I think this was the only case after WWII where the first party in vote share obtained less seats than the second one).

  36. Here’s an idea to ponder.

    What if what we are seeing isn’t so much fragmentation as the appearance of normality.

    For all we have a Parliamentary system going back centuries to before the civil war we have only had full universal suffer age for less than a hundred with the first election where women had the vote on equal terms being as recent as 1929, the Flapper Election!

    After that there was on in 1935 I think and then the war, 1945 and 1950.

    Given the circumstances between 1930 and 50 , war and depression we had a hegemony of two parties that predate universal suffer age and to a large extent
    Universal education up to 15 after the Butler act.

    So what if what we are seeing is evidence that a bipolar system with it’s roots in a nineteenth century of limited education and suffer age simply can’t cope in a twenty first century of universal education and sufferage where too many different people want to many different things.

    Could it be that without reform and proportional government we might struggle to get government at all?




    d’Hondt is simple and fair except that it gives party bosses the choice over the order of candidates rather than the voters.

    Suppose the 6 member SW England constituency voted in line with this poll: CON 19%, LAB 28%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 31%, GREEN 8% MK 5% then rounds would go:

    Round 1: UKIP elected; their % halved for next round, so: CON 19%, LAB 28%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15.5%, GREEN 8% MK 5%

    Round 2: LAB elected; their % halved for next round, so: CON 19%, LAB 14%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15.5%, GREEN 8% MK 5%

    Round 3: CON elected; their % halved for next round, so: CON 9.5%, LAB 14%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15.5%, GREEN 8% MK 5%

    Round 4: UKIP#2 elected; their % divided by 3 for next round, so: CON 9.5%, LAB 14%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 10.33%, GREEN 8% MK 5%

    Round 5: LAB#2 elected; their % divided by 3 for next round, so: CON 9.5%, LAB 9.33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 10.33%, GREEN 8% MK 5%

    Round 6: UKIP#3 elected. Seat allocation finished.

    Result in MEPs: UKIP 3 LAB 2 CON 1

  38. @virgilio

    “So indeed their all-time high was the 48.8 of 1951, and this is in fact ironic: they nevertheless lost the election because of FPTP (I think this was the only case after WWII where the first party in vote share obtained less seats than the second one).”

    February 1974. Lab: 37.2% 301 seats; Con 37,8% 296 seats.

  39. Reading the papers today and the political commentary on them ,I have to agree with Yeats :”The best lack all conviction,And the worst are full of passionate intensity.Which actually does not get us very far.

  40. On a GB basis – rather than UK – Labour’s 1945 share was 48.8%..

  41. @Norbold

    “Yes, I remember it well. It meant that some of us in other parties who only stood as “paper” candidates actually got elected!!!”

    Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive! :-)

    As we approach the forthcoming local and Euro elections, we’ll no doubt get into that old debate about whether they have any long term political significance or whether they are just a set of maverick and n’er to be repeated one-off results.

    Those that tend to belittle their significance can call on many witnesses. Low turn out, the preponderance of fringe parties and candidates, the salience of very local issues, the tendency to indulge in protest voting, incumbent governing parties always getting a stuffing (mid-term usually) with nothing at stake. In other words lots of fun and noise, but then we all get back to the serious stuff at Westminster. All soon forgotten and no harbinger of anything, least of all how people will vote at a general election.

    All well and good so far, but these elections coming up in a few weeks time have the potential to make the political weather for some time thereafter, and the events they could trigger, and the mood they set, will have significance way beyond the actual results themselves. The effect on internal party morale will be immense. For the losers, there will be the negative publicity and attached stigma arising from defeat. Humiliation is a sting that lingers and internal ructions can result, especially from nervous MPs with small majorities surveying an election less than a year away. Then there is the loss of councillors and MEPs, foot soldiers and boots on the ground lost to future battles. They will be bitter, especially if they feel let down by their masters in Westminster and/or Party HQ. Losing is not a nice habit to gain no matter how inconsequential the election may be. Don’t forget too the effect the election results may have on the opinion polls and, as we know, any politician who says he takes no notice of opinion polls is telling rather large porkie-pies.

    For the victors, however, comes momentum, renewed vigour, extra foot soldiers on the ground, positive publicity, a spring in the step, increased political power locally and soaring party morale heading into a general election year.

    So, if these current polls are to be believed, then Cameron and Clegg must be looking forward to May 22nd like the proverbial hole in the head and Farage must be thinking all his Christmases have come together.

    I’m not really sure what Miliband will be thinking, although he could be forgiven for feeling that he might be intruding into private grief.

  42. I predict another result like 1974 at next year’s GE, both main parties getting around 37%.

    On another note, I’m shocked at how 87% of Tory supporters think Cameron SHOULDN’T resign if Scotland votes to leave the UK. Will remaining Tory supporters ever think Cameron should resign? I think a majority would probably think he should stay PM even if he’s caught over as deadbody with a blood stained knife screaming “I wish I’d have killed him sooner” (to borrow a phrase and slightly amend it from Blackadder).

  43. @Crossbat11

    I will be surprised if UKIP are able to put forward enough active candidates to capture many local government seats. There will of course be the odd shock and the odd 95 year old will be elected but actually getting people to put their name forward is hard. Many of those who do get in will find that the reality is somewhat different to what they imagined and will not be effective foot soldiers come the GE. Having attended a count last year where many UKIP candidates failed to turn up (and none were elected) I was surprised by their naivety. By elections are different because you only have to find one candidate obviously.

  44. “I think this was the only case after WWII where the first party in vote share obtained less seats than the second one”

    That should be “fewer” seats, not “less

    Less water, fewer bottles.

  45. rmj1

    “I will be surprised if UKIP are able to put forward enough active candidates to capture many local government seats.”

    Could be, but a rapidly growing party can face the opposite difficulty.

    In 1968 local elections, the SNP found sufficient activists to “fly the flag” for the party by standing as councillors – certain that they would be defeated!

    Sadly, they were elected, but having careers etc that meant they couldn’t be effective councillors, many resigned – to the extreme embarrassment of the party.

  46. RMJ1,

    “I will be surprised if UKIP are able to put forward enough active candidates to capture many local government seats.”

    Don’t bet on it.

    As anyone involved in Party politics will tell you, as soon as your electoral prospects rise all sorts of people turn up who want to be Councillors for the Party.

    Unfortunately they often just want to be Councillors or worse Councillors for themselves.


  47. BigD,

    Why should the Scottish referendum result be a resigning issue for the PM ?

    As both Labour and LDs are Unionist parties, would you want Mr Milliband and Mr Clegg to resign too ?

    I can understand why Mr Salmond might feel obliged to resign if the result were to be “no” – though I doubt he would.

    But Mr Cameron is not the leader of the “no” campaign. Indeed,since he does not even have a vote in the referendum, it would be odd if he were.

    There is no obligation on any party leader to resign if they fail to win an election. It depends on the circumstances – including not just the result itself, but also expectations.

  48. BIGD and VRGILIO.
    Good Evening to you.

    The Boundary Commisison which affected the 1950 and 1951 GE’s had a bias towards rural areas, which helped the Cons.

    King George V1 told Clement Attlee to call the GE before his tour to Australia. Attlee obeyed, his colleagues were upset.

  49. @Spearmint

    @ Catmanjeff,

    Good luck in the elections!

    Thanks, I’ll need it. The person I am taking on (Lab) last stood in 2010, and to win the seat I need a 24% swing.

    There’s more chance of the Lib Dems getting 20% in the next GE….

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