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. @ mrnameless

    ‘Calling UKIP’s policies “patriotism” is going to raise a few eyebrows. I’m sure pretty well every party right of the SWP considers themselves patriotic, because they think their policies are in the best interests of the country and they want to improve it.’

    Although I agree that the SWP probably wouldn’t want to recognise the epithet, patriotic, I think they would still say ‘they think their policies are in the best interests of the country and they want to improve it.’

    So perhaps that is not exactly the correct meaning of the word patriotic.

  2. MrB
    Also, Arthur’s not historical , try Harold II , ‘The last English King’.
    Now there was a patriot ! But he lost.

  3. Norbold,

    Quite true. I should amend that definition to read “They think their policies are in the best interests of the country and they want to improve it for the sake of bettering a country they’re proud to have been born/settled in.”

    Even if the SWP do think their policies are best, they want to enact them purely as part of an internationalist, Trotskyist agenda, not pride in their country of birth. Getting a bit off-topic, I know, my point was just that being “patriotic” is a bit Motherhood and Apple Pie.

  4. Populus unweighted base;

    Con 31
    Lab 39
    LD 9
    Ukip 20

  5. @Mr B

    Wow, that’s quite some re-weighting:

    CON 32 (+1)
    LAB 35 (-4)
    LD 10 (+1)
    Ukip 15 (-5)

  6. On drunkenscouser’s post…

    80% of people may be concerned about inequality. But it may be low on the list of concerns. A lot of people may agree it is a concern, but they may place many things above it as a concern.

    On the Mori issue tracker, however, poverty/inequality has risen as a concern and is currently fifth, below the economy, immigration, unemployment, and NHS, in that order. And above things like education, crime, inflation, pensions and benefits, and housing. Though the issues below NHS are quite close together…

    A related issue, is “fairness”… a majority think cuts are unfair in Yougov’s polling, but how salient is this? It isn’t in the top ten on Mori’s tracker.

    Thing is, just because it isn’t mentioned by people, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have salience. There may be some things that influence, that they might not think to mention, perhaps because something like fairness is more abstract than the more tangible things that show up on the tracker.

    And maybe some less salient things work in combination in practice. We saw this in a tangible sense in the omnishambles budget. It could in theory happen in a more abstract sense, things like fairness, the out-of-touch thing, polling on who a party is perceived to represent adding up. Though it may not show in the tracker.

    People may focus on outcomes in the tracker, rather than causes. You may think austerity had a negative impact on the economy, but you may just say that the economy is a concern. Or that being in the EU is responsible for immigration issues, but you just say immigration.

    It is still notable that so many think it is a concern, even if not currently that salient. If a party wants to play to it, half the battle is won if people already agree there is a problem. Then you just have to establish greater salience. As opposed to having to establish the concern AND the salience.

    Yougov ask questions on things like fairness, but don’t necessarily try and gauge salience alongside. Which makes analysis more difficult (and makes modding more likely, since folk have to speculate more…)

  7. Carfrew – I’d be surprised if MORI didn’t code up someone who said “fairness” as their answer under poverty/inequality (certainly if they said economic fairness, or people getting paid fairly). I’m not sure to what degree interviewers are allowed to probe (“what do you mean by x?”) when coding up responses.

  8. @Roger

    “If you take that 5.3m away from the UK’s 64.2m. you still have 58.9m which is pretty near Italy’s 59.4 while Spain has 47m. So rUK would retain its 29 votes. But even if it ended up with Spain’s 27 votes, 27 + 7 is more than 29.”

    Indeed. In fact from a certain point of view, Scotland stand to gain more influence in Europe as an Independent nation. I saw this article recently:

    “In all four scenarios, Scotland is better served by having those seven votes of its own in the Council of EU Ministers than not having them. If something is in our favour but not the rUK’s, we can mitigate against the rUK opposition, potentially combining with other member states to change the outcome.

    Conversely, if something is in our favour AND the rUK’s favour, then we form an even bigger voting bloc than at present. You might even say we’d be, well, better together.”

    Interesting, especially if the 5th scenario is rUK voting to get out of the UK.

  9. @AW

    Yes, I am not saying Mori are ignoring data given by respondents. I am saying that respondents may be influenced by something quite strongly, but for a variety of reasons, might not mention it. Or maybe on its own, not a big deal, but in combination…

    People may not even be aware of everything that influences them in practice. I’ve got an educational perspective on this… finding out what is really going on with opinions is the challenge. For example… if someone doesn’t understand something, what is the real reason, or reasons. It can be quite tricky to figure out… Hence, how you design assessments is critical, but some things are hard to assess, which is where the challenge lies. And some of the time, educational issues are attitudinal, making it even harder.

    To me it is vital, but it wasn’t the sort of thing most talked about in the staffroom, or anywhere really. But it has added an extra dimension to polling for me. There’s quite a bit of overlap…

  10. I note that the latest yougov poll shows that if we had an eu referendum tomorrow, we would (narrowly) vote to stay in.

  11. Just received the UKIP flier in the post. Four bullet points on the back were all concerned with immigration. I found it sadly ironic that at the same time I had a normal letter bearing a Royal Mail stamp showing the image of the wonderful scientist Max Perutz. He was an Austrian born immigrant

  12. Good spot about Perutz. These people change our lives in positive ways far more than many politicians…

  13. YouGov find 50+% think immigration is an important issue facing the country… are people second guessing here?
    In other words… do they want to know about my perception of politician’s talking points/the issue which journalists are pushing up the agenda?

    In contrast only 17% think immigration is an important issue affecting them or their family.

  14. @Statty

    Try running those numbers again past around 2060, where we stand to be the biggest population in Western Europe even after Scotland leave us.

    The assumption also discounts the idea that at the moment, it is possible the UK may at times vote in ways to support Scotland that would not particularly be in rUK’s interest…

    And that could happen in the future. Let’s suppose that the EU wanted to enact something potentially injurious to the oil thing. Like with the financial transactions tax etc. affecting banking. Currently, it might be in UK’s interest to oppose that. But if Scotland are outside the Union, with most of the oil, it might no longer be in rUK’s interests to oppose it.

  15. Also, currently UK have an incentive to vote at times to keep Scotland happy and in the Union. Like they give a favourable Barnett settlement, devolution, shipbuilding contracts etc.


    A lot of you consider yourselves extremely well-informed about polling, and some of you combine this with a love of statistical analysis which escapes me.. but I’ve been asked a question by a friend that I can’t answer.

    In the East Of England region, which would be the best party to vote for if your sole motivation was to reduce the chances of UKIP getting seats in that region?

    My instant response was that it was too difficult to say because the d’Hondt carveup is so unpredictable that any vote could inadvertently help UKIP (in that had it gone to a party that was competing for UKIP for the “next available seat” it might have swung it – and we can’t know exactly which parties will be competing).

    But I promised I would throw it open to smarter (geekier?) people than me and see if there was an actual rational answer to the question.

  17. “…and some of you combine this with a love of statistical analysis which escapes me…”


    Stats rule the world…

  18. @Neil A – interesting question, I suppose it would be whichever party was closest to the threshold for gaining (or not gaining) an extra seat. If they’re almost bound to get (for example) 2 seats, it makes no difference – if they’re only just likely to poll enough, or likely to poll almost enough for 3, it could make all the difference. Working that out would be another matter; and working it out *accurately* would probably require a bit of luck – so that overall my personal advice would be to look at the manifestos and vote for their favourite!

  19. I am assuming that East of England is amongst the strongest UKIP regions? (Essex, East Anglia etc) so it seems a slam dunk that UKIP will top the poll.

    Last time was Tory 3 UKIP 2 Labour 1 LD 1.

    I am assuming that nothing can stop UKIP getting 3 this time. So is there a chance they’ll get 4. And if they did, who are they most likely to pip to that post?

    Can we assume that the LDs will definitely lose their one MEP? (They would on UNS). Is it likely that the Greens will replace them? If so is it certain that the Greens will get a seat (in which case wasted vote) or just quite likely (in which case is there a chance that both the Greens and LDs will miss out, creating an extra seat opportunity for UKIP?)

  20. On balance it seems to me that UKIP will almost certainly get 3 seats and have no chance of getting 4, so the answer to the question is almost certainly “Anyone but UKIP, but you’re wasting your time”.

    So I suppose the focus should be on the possibility that UKIP might underperform their opinion poll showing and might be hovering between 2 seats and 3 seats, in which case, who would they be competing with for seat 3?

  21. On balance I am going to recommend Green. I think the seats will split 2/2/2 between UKIP/Tory/Labour, with UKIP topping the poll. So if seat 7 went to one of the Big Three then it would go to UKIP.

    So, logically, an anti-UKIP voter should try to ensure that a 4th party sneaks Seat 7. Last time LDs took it with 13.8% and the Greens missed out with 8.8%. Looking at the opinion polls I think it’s fairly likely that the Greens will be in better shape to claim it than the LDs.

    Anyone disagree?

  22. @Neil

    If your “friend” is still eurosceptic, just anti-Ukip then a vote for the Tories might help them retain the top spot with 3MEPs.

    If pro-EU then a vote for LD might help them to hang on to their MEP, similarly a vote for Green might help them to gain an MEP.

    The object would be to try to limit Ukip to 2 MEPs (same as last time) so my best advice would be to vote Labour helping them get a second MEP and hope for:
    Con 2, Ukip 2, Lab 2, LD/Green 1.

  23. @Billybob

    Isn’t there a chance that both LD and Green will miss out on the fourth seat, giving it to UKIP? Or is that impossible?

    And surely Labour going from 1 to 2 is a given isn’t it, looking at their overall polling in 2009 compared to now?

  24. @NeilA

    “some of you combine this with a love of statistical analysis which escapes me”

    Me too. The numbers are there though and they must be analysed, or bad things might happen. :))

    Regarding East of England, out of 58 seats, 52 were Conservative in 2010. The natural inclination of the majority would be to vote Conservative, so unless there’s been a big change of heart in said region, Conservative is the way to go to battle UKIP.

  25. @Neil

    Yes, it’s a dilemma.

    My reasoning is that Tories retaining three is unlikely… and chosing between LD and Green gives you a 50:50 chance of backing a losing party.

    If enough people thought the same way Labour would be in with a chance of three!

  26. @Statgeek,

    Surely “there’s been a big change of heart in the region” pretty much sums it up?

    Essex, Herts and East Anglian voters seem like prime Tory-UKIP switchers to me. All those Eastern Europeans working on soft fruit farms!! Political Correctness Gone Mad!! (or should that be POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD!!!!!!!)

  27. NEIL A
    “East Europeans working on soft fruit farms”
    Shouldn’t it be; “POLITICAL SOFTNESS GONE BAD”.

  28. The Greens are definitely coming up on the outside. Wouldn’t be surprised if they pip the LDs at the Euros. Now that would be interesting and could be significant if the (excuse the stereotype) ‘sandal wearers’ switch to The Greens.

    No idea why genuine socialists don’t also follow suit. I bet if people took that test as to what party represents their actual views and voted accordingly the Greens pick up a lot.

    Not sure their latest leader has quite the same fluffy red squirrel appeal as Caroline Lucas though.

  29. Neil A – once a party has won one seat in a region, its vote is divided by the number of seats it has already won plus one when awarding second and subsequent seats. This means the marginal effect of a single vote for a party is reduced if that party is likely to win multiple seats.

    On the other hand, if a party doesn’t win any seats at all your votes are entirely wasted.

    If you wanted to block another party from winning seats, then the most effective us of a vote is to vote for another party that is likely to get only one seat… but only just.

    Imagine a region with 4 seats, contested by the Motherhood, Apple Pie, Fluffy Kitten parties and Piers Morgan.

    Motherhood get 27 votes
    Apple pie get 18 votes
    Fluffy kittens get 9 votes
    Piers Morgan steals and forges 10 postal votes

    The first seat goes to Motherhood, the second to Apple Pie, the third to Motherhood again.

    In awarding the final seat Motherhood have 9 votes (27/(2+1)=9), Apple Pie have 9 votes (18/(1+1)=9), Fluffy kittens have 9 votes. Piers Morgan has 10.

    Presumably, like all right thinking people you will want to vote to prevent Piers Morgan. If your one extra vote goes to Motherhood it will effectively be worth only 0.33 of a vote and Piers wins, to Apple Pie it would be worth 0.5 of a vote and Piers wins, for Fluffy Kittens it would be worth 1 full vote… and a kitten would presumably have to draw straws with Piers Morgan.

    Figures carefully chosen, but you get the point.

  30. Mr B. Is that as in,
    Caroline Lucas, Look squirrel !
    Phwoare !!!!

  31. No idea why genuine socialists don’t also follow suit.

    I’ve got a few ideas why, including reasons gleaned from genuine socialists I’ve actually spoken to about this:

    1) Their leader is perceived as unconvincing, weak and sanctimonious.
    2) The “Tories on bikes” view that they’re posing as left wing but swing massively to the right when they get into office (i.e. Brighton).
    3) They can’t win. Yes I know if people vote for them they can win eventually, but for now most socialists are prioritising getting rid of Cameron.
    4) Some of their policies are not highly thought of (specifically, capping salaries at £400k).
    5) Most socialists are quite content in the Labour party. They know what happens when the left splits and they’re not so disgruntled they feel homeless in Labour.

  32. @AW

    “Fluffy kittens get 9 votes”

    Make that 10 cos I like fluffy kittens. Piers Morgan loses. :))

  33. @MrNameless

    It’s the Greens’ science policies that are putting off a lot of the Lefties I know.

  34. Speaking as someone who lives in the Eastern Region, may I respectfully suggest that it would be a jolly good idea for everyone to vote Labour….

  35. That’s a ridiculous and highly offensive slur, he’s working on secret plans for the new ‘caber’ class of ICBMs to keep out the Ruskies with his claymore.

    ‘Mr B. Is that as in,
    Caroline Lucas, Look squirrel !
    Phwoare !!!!’

    I really really don’t know what you mean – wish I did though, is squirrel a euphemism of some kind in your neck of the shire?

  36. I also live in the eastern region.

    European elections – first identify the fluffy kitten…

    District election? Hmm…UKIP won County seat from Conservative last time. This time sitting District Conservative faces UKIP and Labour (third last time).

    Obviously a quiet evening with Barry Edwards work, The Readable Maths and Statistics Book is called for, or alternatively – if I can use that word without conjuring up the spirit of d’Hondt – I could see if a glass of something would make the situation clearer.

  37. @ Neil A “Anyone but UKIP, but you’re wasting your time”.
    As good an answer as any, I thought, and still do after reading the others.
    But the worst thing you can do is not vote at all, on the grounds that UKIP’s support is in my view the most likely to turn out.

    Off topic for your question, but for that reason I think UKIP’s best chance of seats in the general election is a low turnout. That will be different from seat to seat, and UKIP will benefit most in seats where there is less likelihood of a ‘stop UKIP’ vote. Thus I expect them to win a few seats that they are not expected to, while continuing to run a good second in those where they are given a good chance (possibly excepting Eastleigh if Diane James is UKIP candidate.)

  38. MrB
    UKPR Glossary (extract):
    “Look squirrel !” Phrase used to indicate inappropriate attempt by Politician,Journalist or other low-life, to distract attention from valid psephological point/ data. [snip]

    Phwoare !!!! is just my response to Ms Lucas, dunno why.

  39. Thanks AW,

    Advice passed on. I’ve gone with Green rather than LD as although their national polling isn’t any better than it was in 2009, I have a hunch that they are going to be ahead of the LDs in the East of England region.

  40. @rogerh

    It’s a little buggy but it let me see the results at least. Pretty accurate. Though it asked me my preferred party at least twice sooo…

  41. With regard to Neil A’s question I thought I’d look at the only polling data for the region which is available from Populus’s accumulated figures for the FT for March:

    based on a (hopefully properly weighted) sample of 881 from East of England Region. This gave figures of:

    Con 36% (34)

    Lab 30% (37)

    L/D 10% (9)

    UKIP 17% (12)

    Green 5% (3)

    Where the figures in brackets are the comparable Populus national figures. Incidentally East was the strongest of the Regions for both UKIP and the Greens.

    Now if you compare the latest (national) YouGov Euros polls with those figures:

    Con 19% – 34 = -15

    Lab 28% – 37 = -9

    L/D 9% – 9 = +0

    UKIP 31% – 12 = +19

    Green 8% – 3 = +5

    and apply those differentials to the Eastern figures, that will hopefully get rid of the differences in time, voting preferences between Westminster and the EP and Populus’s know anti-Labour and possibly anti-UKIP bias:

    Con 36% -15 = 21%

    Lab 30% -9 = 21%

    L/D 10% +0 = 10%

    UKIP 17% +19 = 36%

    Green 5% +5 = 10%

    Which with two sets of ties makes decisions even harder. For what it’s worth I reckon that Labour and Greens will edge ahead of their rivals because of their superior likelihood to vote (LTV) and what local elections there are in East are nearly all in towns which should help Labour more.

    D’Hondt then gives #1 UKIP, #2 Lab, #3 Con, #4 UKIP. The remaining two seats are then between UKIP 12 Lab 10.5, Con 10.5, Green 10, L/D 10, which really is too close to call. Even if UKIP get #5, they are still in contention for #6 as well, because they are only reduced to 9.

    As Anthony said (and as I tried, badly, to explain to Daodao yesterday) the best tactic in this situation is usually to vote for the strongest Party that hasn’t won a seat yet, which for East at the moment is probably the Greens.

    Incidentally the above calculation doesn’t allow for LTV in the Euros but if you use YouGov’s LTV=10 filter (which at the moment I think is too harsh). You get:

    Con 18%

    Lab 21%

    L/D 8%

    UKIP 41%

    Green 11%

    which gives UKIP #1,#3 and #5, Lab #2, Con #4 and Green #6, but with Lab (10.5) and UKIP (10.25) just behind. I must say I’m sceptical about UKIP polling over 40% in any election, though if it is going to be so it would be this election in this Region.

  42. @ Neil A

    No-one will know the answer until afterwards but assuming someone is capable of getting 3 seats (which at the moment the Tories do have) this means a vote for a party that can only get one seat is worth 3 times as much as voting for the top parties in contention for 3 seats.

    Green or LD seems the obvious answer unless one of them already looks very likely to get a seat anyway.

  43. @Steve2

    “Salmond and Putin both p**s standing up – what pair of bar-stewards!”

  44. Having just applied the methodology outlined by Anthony to this poll as the SNP on 29% and the LibDem’s on 10% we would get;

    1: SNP, 2: Lab, 3: UKIP, 4: SNP, 5: Lab and 6: LibDem!!!!

    Bit of a kick in the teeth for Cameron, a close escape for Clegg and a disappointment for Salmond.

    Although I still think the Scottish sample is an odd one not least as it unusually has the SNP ahead of Labour for Westminster.


  45. At the risk of distracting us from an actual conversation about polling (!), George Eaton over at the New Statesman has made an interesting observation about our old hobbyhorse “What form will the leader’s debate take?”

    Whenever this topic comes up, someone suggests that Cameron and Miliband will try to exclude Clegg, and someone else points out that this would be forbidden under Ofcom’s neutrality rules.

    Which is true, but as Eaton observes, the regulation only applies once the formal campaign has started. If a debate were held before the dissolution of Parliament it would be possible to exclude Clegg without breaking any rules, and since Cameron has already said he thought the debates sucked the life out of the campaign in 2010 and he wants to space them out more…

  46. It would also be possible to hold such a debate through media not controlled by OfCom, such as streaming it online.

  47. What I’d prefer to debates would be more an interview format although these days it might turn out to be more X Factor!

    Have a panel of three or four experts in their field; health, Science, Law, economic sand one by one the prospective, PM’s chancellors, Home Secretaries would take turns to answer their questions on their proposals.

    It would be interesting to see how Osborne, Balls and Cable performed when grilled by three world class economists.

    I did think we could try drawing the experts from the House of Lords ( they’ve nothing better to do with their time) and calling it; “Peer Review”.

    It would at least be different and would hopefully avoid both politicians getting away with quoting dodgy figures are just attacking their opponents policies to avoid talking about their own.

    Even though he is a Labour Peer I think Lord Winston would be a good panel chair for the health debate.


  48. Peter – YouGov’s Scottish cross-breaks are always odd and barely worth looking at for individual days because of the tiny sample sizes. Accumulating over a period will even things out a bit but I suspect there may still be systemic problems which make the Conservative rating some points too high and the SNP one too low.

  49. Seems to me that the biggest problem re the debate is that is Clegg is involved then there are two people representing the coalition govt and only one representing opposition to it.

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see is run, somehow, as Cameron/Miliband – or maybe three two-ways.

    But not all three together.

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