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. Further to my previously-ignored post, having asked around, the consensus is that if Pfizer take AZ over, that’s essentially it for AZ’s UK research operations, and for a measurable proportion of the UK’s R&D spend and science employment.

    Its great news that there’s been modest economic growth, but really not great news that we could lose one of the the most important R&D companies in the country and deep-six UK pharma research.

    Fortunately, Cable is rumoured to be investigating the law to block it if necessary.

  2. Don’t worry Colin, not predicting an MK surge any time soon!

    Luke Akehurst has written an article assessing Cameron’s problems and wonders if we might be witnessing their demise. I know it’s a partisan site, but it’s an interesting talking point. Do we think the rise of UKIP is indicative of something more dangerous for the Tory Party?

    http://labourlist.org/2014/04/could-we-be-witnessing-the-death-of-the-conservative-party/

  3. Anthony,
    I pressed report instead of previous.Apologies to you and Colin.

  4. @Chris Riley

    “ultimately they’d pull AZ’s research out of the UK as well.”

    Not ignored. And absolutely on the money. There is a long history of major UK research centres in a variety of fields being bought up by US companies and then being closed. This is an issue of major strategic importance.

  5. @Chris Riley

    I’m not ignoring it Chris!! You’re right, it’s a big deal, but the impact of science research – which can be far greater than futzing around with pasty taxes and poster vans and Labour’s over 700 education directives while in power – is not necessarily fully appreciated. Bfield yesterday mentioned Max Perutz… this is the guy who invented new X-ray diffraction techniques allowing us to probe the structures of proteins and stuff, got a Nobel for unravelling what was going on with haemoglobin, and founded the molecular biology unit at Cambridge where the structure of DNA was cracked.

    Reading the mobile version of the Graun, I’ve watched as they have steadily migrated towards a page full of things like “features”, “people”, and “comment”. Human interest stuff, of an increasingly marginal and ephemeral nature. But at the end of the day, it usually won’t really make much difference to peeps what some celeb does, but it will matter if there’s a cure for a disease they contract…

    We don’t tend to get polling on this of course…

  6. Pretty good growth figures today.

    Contributions to GDP growth of 0.8% for Q1 2014 with largest sector in brackets.

    Manufacturing 0.1%
    Distribution, hotels & restaurants (wholesale trade) 0.2%
    Transport, storage & communication (computing) 0.1%
    Business services & finance (Manag’ment consulting) 0.3%
    Government & other services (health activities) 0.1%

    Looking at those components, I think you can see why people are still so negative about their prospects, with management consulting/head office activities and computing being very London based.

    Take those out and you are mostly left with shopping and government spending.

    Manufacturing showed good growth, but it is now only 10% of the economy and employs not many people, just look how even good manufacturing growth only bumps up GDP by 0.1%

  7. @Billy Bob

    I imagine there’s always a certain amount of churn but I wouldn’t think that many voters are given to sudden switches of political allegiance. Perhaps encouraging/discouraging voter turnout can be more significant.

  8. The GDP figures are encouraging, but suggest that the over exuberant optimism is a little overdone. Interestingly, construction was the poorest performer of the main sectors, although in the PMI surveys this was seeing the most positive ratings.

  9. @Floating Voter – “Pretty good growth figures today.”

    Actually, they aren’t that good really. We need to get a bit of perspective.

    Have a look at the chart half way down the page here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27203433

    The period from mid ’93 to the crash shows that much higher quarterly figures were very common, occurring more than half the time. These figures are undoubtedly better, but are historically still rather poor.

    This is really rather significant, as post recession, there is generally expected to be a period of more rapid growth as the recovery sets in and redundant assets are brought back into productive use.

    The feature of this recession, in the UK at least, is the slowness of the recovery to catch up to pre crash levels, and the modest pace of the revival.

    In part, this must have something to do with debt levels, but it also has been affected by government policy. While other countries opted to put government money into investment strategies in the 2010 – 2013 period, the UK opted to hit government capital spending hardest of all, alongside inexplicably reducing investment allowances for industry. Partly as a result of this, these lowish GDP figures when taken in their proper context, probably suggest we’ve lost more productive capacity than perhaps we should have done.

    [As ever, this is NOT a venue for discussing or debating if goverment policy is any good or not – AW]

  10. I see a certain Telegraph blogger has settled the TV debate issue in his usual forthright and charmly way. I needed that chuckle after a silly morning.

  11. Chris Riley/Carfew
    The potential takeover of AZ by Pfizer is a very big issue that is being ignored by other posters who can only seem to see headline statistics such as GDP as important indicators of this country’s wellbeing.
    It is yet another example of a major British company potentially ending up owned by a foreign company. Remember Pfizer were the company that shut down its major R&D outfit in Sandwich not so long ago.
    I have to declare an interest. I am an AZ pensioner. Should I be worried?

  12. What happened in the first few years of the Government is irrelevant now. The polling question is, what do people think/want/expect to happen next, and what differences do the parties offer?

    The anti-Tory vote will point at the threat of even more privatisation, cuts and attacks on public servants if teh Tories win. But will Labour be able to do much but cut according to the timetable? It would be a brave opposition that said it was going to borrow heavily.

    The anti-Labour vote will go on about more borrowing and more debt.

    But what will the PRO- voters want? What are the Governments in witing offering that the voter will buy?

    I think it makes little difference anyway. Labour will get a mjority and inherit much the situation that they left as far as debt goes and the Ciyy still untouched and unreformed and running the show.

    It’s the ant-Tories that will decide the election whether they choose Lab, LD or UKIP. they’ll keep out the Cons wherever they can be kept out, which is nearly everywhere except the South and some of the Midlands.

  13. @Bfield

    I would imagine that your pension will be honoured and I can assure you that I would much rather be an AZ pensioner than an AZ employee at the moment.

    I remember Pfizer shutting down of Sandwich very well; I did part of my PhD (sponsored by Pfizer) there.

  14. Thanks to Mr N for a link to an interesting article on the future (not very hopeful) of the Conservative Party.

    I think there will always, or for the foreseeable future, be a modern party that supports business and economic growth. Sometimes this has also been the Labour party, arguably so under Tony Blair.

    The mixture of nationalism/nostalgia/old-fashioned attitudes and so on is what complicates the picture.

    Perhaps it takes an exceptional leader to surmount the situation of keeping the two wings of the Conservative party together. Cameron is just a good one, and the exceptional one they tried was wasted in 2001, and the Cons are unlikely to give William Hague another chance.

    I am not a Conservative, but I think it is risky to have so much raw emotion (as issuing from some political parties to their right, ahem) in the political debate. It could end in tears.

  15. @MrNameless

    Akehurst is a bit aggressive on timescales but the Tories have been in a slow rolling crisis since 1992 and are not really any closer to sorting it out now than they were then.

    They’ve been captured by a group with a rather narrow focus on free market economics and Euroscepticism and don’t have a broad enough ideological base or national appeal at present to revive themselves in the medium term. I disagree with Akehurst that the damage is terminal.

    The Tories have always been a pragmatic party at root and UKIP represents an opportunity as well as a threat. Were I a Tory looking at the long term I would be extremely comfortable with a few of the unbending socially conservative and madly Eurosceptic fanatics jumping ship to UKIP.

    Without their incessant shrill piping it might then be a little easier to bring back some of the more consensual Heseltinists (is that even a word) and so on, into greater prominence, and establish a better offer for the parts of the country that feel that the Tories have little to say to them.

    [snip] ‘why don’t you be more like London and the Home Counties’ has never played well in the North, and it is not a tune that improves with repetition)

  16. Mr. Nameless,

    The Tories’ problems are one half of a coin, which is the decline of the Big Two since the early 1950s, and the other half is the slow death of the Labour party. The Labour party used to be able to win nearly half of the vote; in 2015, despite a very unpopular coalition, the implosion of their main competition on the left, and a period of austerity/recession, Labour may well win only 35% of the GB vote, i.e. worse than in 2005 (when the alienation of Labour from the left peaked) or even in 1992.

    But if you want a really worrying figure for the Labour party, it’s this: even in 1979, after a tremendously appalling period of office (25% inflation, economic stagnation, a big rise in unemployment, the IMF crisis and the Winter of Discontent) Labour could still get 37% of the UK vote. It looks unlikely that they will do as well in 2015, even if one assumes a very modest comeback by the governing parties. Labour just can’t do it anymore.

    Unlike the Tories, the decline of the Labour party is masked by FPTP and current seating arrangemets. This may not last forever (just look at what’s happened to Labour in Scotland and the surge of an ultra-Thatcherite opposition, of all things, in the North of England) but it will delay the Labour party’s slide somewhat, and if present trends continue (which OBVIOUSLY they may not) will make the Labour party’s final crisis all the more dramatic.

    I have long said that Labour should be very optimistic about their prospects in 2015. I think that the experience of the past ten years in particular (but to some extent since 1951) suggests that Labour should be grim about their prospects in 50 years’ time.

    Keynes said that, in the long run, it is ideas that matter, and I have a few hypotheses about how philosophical contradictions within the two main parties have contributed to their slide, but I don’t want to drift into utter speculation.

  17. @BFIELD

    “Chris Riley/Carfew The potential takeover of AZ by Pfizer is a very big issue that is being ignored by other posters who can only seem to see headline statistics such as GDP as important indicators of this country’s wellbeing.”

    ———-

    Well, there was a time in my life when I would have ignored it, and if you’d asked me what Pfizer was I’d probably tentatively have offered “Fizzy drink?”

    It comes back to what is seen as fundamental, in the end. Polling captures media concerns, political/lobbying concerns… in the case of science the public at large probably do not rush out to buy the New Scientist every week, so it may not be a massive voter concern. Polling occasionally has questions on things like GM foods…

    But yeah, I’d been thinking similar about a reply I’ve been meaning to make to Syzygy, about the MMT thing. Many of us, and our politicians, fret over a couple of points of interest rates or inflation here and there, and it’s not like such things don’t matter, but things like the nature of money are rather more fundamental, and stuff like genetic engineering is off the scale in comparison in terms of potential impact.

    And Thorium, of course…

  18. Can Cameron say no to TV leaders debates and for there to be no affect on polling ?

    Personally I don’t think he can say no, as voters will not be happy. The media will also kick up a lot of fuss. There will have to be leaders debates, which include Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Farage. I think the electoral commission have already indicated that if UKIP do very well in the 2014 EU elections, that Farage would have to be included.

    Apparently both Clegg and Miliband have already signed up to leaders debates with TV channels, whereas the Tories have said they will not make a decision until later this year.

  19. @Chris Riley

    Is there any evidence that Euroscepticism and social conservatism are confined to London and the Home Counties? I would suspect that the reasons Mancunians or Geordies don’t vote Tory are nothing to do with a hostility to the EU or to social issues and everything to do with economics.

    To get votes in areas that are predisposed to a government that intervenes directly in industry to create and support jobs, you have to offer that economic platform. That’s pretty much against the core beliefs or Toryism (whereas European policy and social values are more or less irrelevant).

  20. Chris Riley,

    “Were I a Tory looking at the long term I would be extremely comfortable with a few of the unbending socially conservative and madly Eurosceptic fanatics jumping ship to UKIP.”

    I agree. Anecdotally, I am not alone among my generation in favouring a government that’s both small and strong on law & order, but also being repelled by social conservativism and Euroscepticism.

    Perhaps the Tories are a similar position to Labour in 1987-1994: still too stuck in their ways to attract a new kind of supporter, but also alienating the hardline. It was fortunate for Labour in that period that Bennites and their kith never formed a significant splinter group, despite the efforts of Tommy Sheridan and Arthur Scargill.

  21. I’ve long argued that a party needs a strong statement of ideology for it to have any point and grounding. All the major parties have fallen victim at some point to expressing their views in purely managerial rather than ideological terms (Labour under Blair and arguably Brown, the Tories in opposition under Cameron, the Lib Dems in government under Clegg). If your only pitch is “We can manage things better than that lot” it only works until you mess something up or the other lot do really well.

    At the same time, ideology can’t become the be-all and end-all of a party because that way leads to madness, with dozens of factions fighting each other over minutiae and internal procedure. When factions within a party become unable to work together (the Tories in the 1990s and arguably now, Labour in the 1970s and 1980s, the Alliance towards the end) things start to fall apart.

    An ideology has to have grounding in reality in order to remain electable. It’s a scary thing for Conservatives that their current policies are probably the most electorally popular they’ve had for decades, but they’re still languishing in the low thirties. This is not least because their most ideological forces have gone off to UKIP, leaving the managerials in charge. It’s simultaneously the reason both UKIP and the Tories are going to find it a very tough election next year. UKIP’s ideologues on their own look mad. The Tory managers on their own look tired.

    I know it’s stating the obvious to say that the Tories need to win back UKIP voters, but I’m speaking of beyond the next election too. They need back that ideological grounding to remind them of the undiluted theory they should be interpreting and selling to the electorate, so that they can reinvent themselves and stay electable. It’s the same for Labour – though most voters wouldn’t want the kind of policies Dennis Skinner advocates, the party as a whole needs him to remind them of how their supporters think and to show them where exactly the centre of party opinion falls.

    The different between “moderates” now – Blair, Cameron, Clegg, Cable – and the people who used to be considered moderates – Healey, Heath, Steel, John Smith – is that the old moderates, although not advocating anything extreme, spoke moderately out of a genuine belief that centre-left or centre-right policies were the best policies. They did not advocate them because they were least likely to offend. That, I think is the main identifiable problem with much of modern politics, although there are of course still ideological politicians around and I admire that aspect of them.

  22. Neil A,

    But the Tories were able to win repeatedly from 1979 to 1992 without the North of England, the South of Wales etc. The real problem for the Tories is that they can’t even win over those areas in the southern cities or rural Scotland that they could win under Thatcher and Major.

    The Tories don’t need Manchester, just like Labour don’t need Kent. However, the Tories need metropolitan Britain, and Labour need White Van Man. The problem for both parties is that they’re finding it increasingly hard to pull off such a feat.

  23. @Alister 1948
    I’m not sure I’d agree Cam is a ‘good leader’. […but this is clearly not the place to discuss it – AW]

    @Bfield, Chris Riley
    I think if you’re an actual pensioner you are copper bottom safe. I am a deferred pensioner at present of a company that is in play (one agreed merger against a hostile takeover bid) which makes it slightly less secure but – I think – pretty safe.
    It’s interesting to contrast our absent industrial policy with that of France, where it looks like there is a good possibility of the GE bid for Alsthom being rebuffed, largely because of government intervention.

  24. Bill Patrick
    Keynes also said “In the long run we are all dead”.
    Labour should , if they win next year, introduce the ‘German system’ which Attlee ‘s government imposed on the Germans in 1948 and which is still in use.
    However , I suspect that if they win in 2015, then the proponents of FPTP in the Labour Party will prevail and there will be another Tory led Govt in 2020.

  25. Mr Nameless,

    The Tories may need UKIP voters to win in 2015, but the more they win them over, the worse their prospects are for 2035. There has been a long-term shift of the UK population away from social conservativism, and it’s more dramatic among younger generations. And Euroscepticism, even if it is a vote-winner for the population as a whole (is it really?) is an ageing creed.

  26. Chris Riley

    Why do you believe being socially conservative and anti EU is mad. To me it is a perfectly reasonable to have such views, they may be minority views but certainly not mad.

  27. Ewen Lightfoot,

    Keynes was right about many things.

    I suspect that the Tories will be won over to electoral reform before Labour, simply because the self-interest of the two parties is overwhelmingly in those directions. The exception would be if we vote Aye, at which time I suspect that the rUK Labour party will suddenly see that the Lib Dems were right all along about changing the voting system, just like Shirley Williams did in 1981. And if the idea of pro-PR Tories sounds strange, the Scottish Tories have not only accepted PR, but explicitly tried (and failed) to exploit the list system in 2011 Scottish elections, and do very well out of PR at a local level in Scotland.

  28. @MrN

    “purely managerial rather than ideological terms”

    I’ve long argued exactly the same. It means nothing at all to say “this is fair” or “this is what works” unless you have some framework for deciding what “fair” and “works” mean.

    As a solution to unemployment, execution of the unemployed is plainly highly effective. It is a person’s moral or ideological framework that says whether it is an acceptable solution.

  29. Is the cross party campaign to portray UKIP as racist a sign of desperation or failure on their behalf?

    I think it will be seen as yet another smear tactic and so far they have all failed

  30. Re the managerial points. I think that this is one of the major factors behind the drift away from the two main parties. When those parties are almost indistinguishable from each other voters will look for something else, or not vote at all.

  31. Pete B,

    “When those parties are almost indistinguishable from each other voters will look for something else, or not vote at all.”

    I don’t see that historically. The period of great dominance of the Big Two was 1950-1970, i.e. the high period of Butskellism. Meanwhile, 1983 and 2001/2005 mark three key highpoints the Alliance/Lib Dems, and 1983 in particular was hardly an election in which the two parties were “indistinguishable”.

  32. BillP
    I suspect the Tories will cling to FPTP until it is too late, the entire Metro centric, Tory supporting media will ensure that. Talk about pacts with the Devil !

  33. @alister1948

    William Hague neatly illustrates the problem. First half of his leadership backing the modernisers, second half battling against them.

    Btw which came first, Hague’s “24hrs to save the pound” or Ukip’s pound sign (we were promised a new logo for 2014 but it hasn’t materialised yet)?

  34. Ewen Lightfoot,

    I think it depends. If the Tories outpoll Labour in 2015 and 2020, then that would mean three elections in a row in which the Tories won a plurality of the votes but didn’t get a majority. Had Labour won 30 seats more and formed a coalition with the Lib Dems, I have little doubt that we’d already be seeing Tory converts to PR. (IIRC, Heath became very interested after February 1974.) There is nothing intrinsically “left-wing” about PR: UKIP like it, Labour don’t, and the explanation of their preferences is not hard to work out.

    Also, if a shift to PR means coalition with UKIP rather than the Lib Dems, folks on the right of the Tory party may become rather keen…

  35. I certainly hope that Vince Cable can find his spine and stop Pfizers shutting down/exporting AZ’s R&D.

    I’m no great fan of Big Pharma – not least because of their lobbying the EU-US trade deal TTIP for extended patents and blocking generics i.e. increasing cost of their already overpriced medicines. However, this government is leaking research away from the UK in the most frightening way. The latest, only today, was the privatisation of the FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency) – the probable buyers, venture capitalists.

    This is no way to create continuity in the UK’s research base. I have absolutely no doubt that there has to be substantial government investment in research to ensure transparency, reliability, research into necessary but unprofitable (such as antibacterials) and not least retention of research scientists. Like the failure of the construction industry to build affordable housing, there are things that simply cannot be left to the market without undermining the greater good for the majority.

  36. @Roy
    I have no real opinion whether ‘UKIP’ is racist. I guess some of their supporters are and some aren’t.

    However they do themselves no favours by featuring racists in their PPBs, having a candidate who says Lenny Henry should go to a ‘black country’ and one who says some people are genetically programmed to be slaves, whilst the party founder calls the leader racist.

    I don’t know whether there’s a cross party campaign, but if there is, UKIP themselves seem to be the most enthusiastic proponents. Perhaps there’s method in the madness because I agree that it will/is having no negative effect on their VI.

  37. TOH,
    “Now this is really being socially conservative.
    The Russian parliament’s lower house has passed a bill that bans swearing from films, music and other works of art, it’s been reported.

    The measure would impose fines for swearing in films, plays, concerts and shows, the Itar-Tass news agency reports. In addition, members of the public could face penalties of up to 2,500 roubles (£42; $70) for swearing in public and officials would have to pay double.

    The bill says a panel of experts will decide exactly what counts as a swear word. If the measure is approved by the upper house, it will be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin and take effect on 1 July 2014.

    Earlier, the private TVC channel caused a stir by beeping out a word in the classic 1979 Soviet film Garage. The word “hrenovina” – a colourful expression for nonsense – was deemed too offensive for broadcast. But the film’s director, Eldar Ryazanov, called the censorship “an act of idiocy”.

    Another law restricting the use of profanities in the media came into force in Russia in April 2013. The law envisages fines of up to 200,000 roubles as well as confiscation of equipment.”

    Would it be a vote winner here?

  38. @ToH and others

    I do not say that being socially conservative and anti-EU is ‘mad’. It is a perfectly respectable set of views. What is ‘mad’ is, especially, the single-minded obsession that some Conservatives show over the latter issue in particular. It’s lost them election after election, it’s wounded the last two Conservative Governments and Cameron has pledged that it will dominate the next one if the Tories win as well.

  39. Four 15%s for UKIP in the last seven polls. The only other time they had such a high level with YouGov was just after last year’s elections. So this year’s elections should be their best ever.

    They will certainly see big, maybe even disproportionate gains in the Euro Elections. I was slightly sceptical about Anthony’s prediction that they will come first, partly because of local election patterns, and I still think Labour have a chance, but UKIP must be the favourites. They will be helped by what seems to be widespread disaffection among Conservatives, who may see voting UKIP as a painless way of registering that discontent.

    But also Labour and other voters may see voting UKIP as the most effective way of punishing the Tories. We may also see a surge in the Green vote as Lib Dems, both current and ex try to send Clegg a similar message, though the polling only hints at that yet.

    However I suspect that, no matter how badly the Conservatives lose, we may see a UKIP win being spun as a ‘humiliation’ for Miliband, no matter how many seats Labour gains. The Press has realised that, with only a year to go, it’s time to stop bashing Cameron to try to get policies changed and instead go after the main enemy. The fact that Labour has only managed to ‘win’ the Euros twice in seven elections[1] will be ignored.

    The local elections may be a different matter for UKIP. Most of the attention will be on London, their worst region in England, and even in the best parts of there they seem unable to find enough candidates to stand[2], never mind activists to run a campaign. The Evening Standard reports:

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/libdems-fearing-election-disaster-as-party-fails-to-fight-london-council-seats-9297142.html

    that UKIP are only fighting 426 out of 1861 seats and it looks like that where they are fighting wards it is often only with a single candidate[3]. So the number of seats they have a chance of winning.

    Of course being able to find only one candidate was fine for last year’s county elections because the vast majority of county wards are single member. But there were places in for example Kent last time (where some urban divisions return two members) where a second UKIP candidate might have meant winning the seats. They did fight and indeed win some of these with two candidates, but might have gained more.

    Outside London, the vast majority of seats will be single seats available under elections by thirds – notably in the Met Boroughs. However one the whole these tend to be less fertile territory for UKIP and are very disproportionately in larger towns. There are some places where they could do well (eg Castle Point).

    [1] Once (pre-PR) in 1989 under Kinnock and in 1994 under Beckett (after Smith’s death). Blair in all his pomp never managed it.

    [2] I pointed out earlier how they have only got a full slate of candidates in 4 of the 18 (3-member) wards of Havering – by general agreement the Borough with best potential for them. The other wards only have one or in a few cases two candidates.

    [3] This is a different strategy from the old Liberal one of fighting a small number of wards really hard and refusing to put up candidates at all in other wards, though it may produce statistic in total candidates, if you are concentrating your resources like that, you expect to win most of the seats you actually do fight.

  40. Guymonde

    Yes I agree that Ukip seem imune to the obvious smear campaign but the campaign itself makes those involved seem desperate. Instead of trying to blacken UKIP they should be arguing on the issues that give UKIP support. I would seem that they are recruting professional dirt diggers to troll the internet looking for issues to unermine UKIP candidates. The public are not fooled by this and the internet gives the public alternative views on all matters.
    Have a look at this for a desperate measure

    http://www.w4mpjobs.org/

  41. BFIELD

    I agree that is a step to far although personally I do find excessive swearing very offensive and there are films and plays I would not watch for that reason. It very much depends on the context.

  42. Not sure if anyone posted this or not:

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-dividing-line/#more-54153

    Interesting analysis of what might happen over the next two years with UKIP rearing its head and what impact the EU elections might have on Scottish voters.

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

  44. Re Pfizers and AZ. There was a very interesting article a few days ago (DT, I think) which quote a senior Treausry official as saying that UK is now effectively the world’s biggest tax haven, thanks to moves to reduce Corp Tax and remove entirely any tax on dividends paid to companies from overseas operations.

    At the same time, there is an Employment Allowance on offer – a time limited £2,000 saving on employers NI bills, for one year only. My company is making use of this, but it’ all wasted, as far as the taxpayer goes – we’re not creating any new jobs.

    I’ve long felt that the emphasis needs to be not on subsidising corporations tax bills, and competing for company HQ status. Income from Corp Tax is actually rather small, when compared to employment taxes and the VAT that goes with wage spending. Getting companies to employ people here, and HQ elsewhere is fine in my book – that’s how we would do better overall.

    The efforts so far on company taxation are rather about face, in my view, and we would do better concentrating on making the UK a better country to invest in, rather than always bend to what the city believes is best.

  45. @ BillyBob
    “William Hague neatly illustrates the problem. First half of his leadership backing the modernisers, second half battling against them. ”

    William Hague certainly wouldn’t have beaten Blair at the height of TB’s popularity, and his leadership was wasted in that sense. I suspect WH has gained in stature a little since those days.

    But you’re right (and I’d forgotten) that even he had trouble with the Conservative party.

    Interesting times ahead, especially for the losing parties at the GE. Short of a political earthquake that has got to be one of Conservative and Labour, plus in all probability the LDs.

  46. @Roger M
    In one of the wards here (Isleworth) there are 3 UKIP candidates who were late replacements for the ‘genetically programmed to be slaves’ man.
    The local independents – who were wiped out in 2010 after a coalition with the cons – are alleging that the UKIP candidates are Labour stooges put up to split the ‘none of the above’ vote and therefore let Labour retain the seats. In the same ward one of the tories put herself forward for selection for Lab and was rejected, promptly jumped to Con and took her hubby (a prominent Lab activist) along to be another candidate whilst daughter remains an elected officer for Lab.

    I suppose this is local politics in action but it’s not surprising the voters are turned off.

  47. @ Roy,

    I think it’s a sign they like plucking low-hanging fruit, and since Ukip politicians keep saying racist things it’s an easy tactic to adopt. Unfortunately it’s also a tactic that doesn’t work, because Ukip voters aren’t interested in anything the establishment has to say. (This is also why Pressman’s campaign to win them back for the Tories may run on to the rocks.)

    For that reason, it’s not clear any tactic would work, but I think a focus on the cost-of-living and social service provision issues that are driving the anti-immigration fervour would work better. Because when the establishment say “Ukip are racist!” what people are hearing is “I’m all right, Jack.”

  48. @ RogerMexico

    That’s quite an extraordinary article about the LD’s and seems to be confirmed on LD voice rather than being slanted by the Standard:

    http://www.libdemvoice.org/local-elections-2014-your-quickandeasy-guide-to-the-lib-dem-numbers-that-matter-39564.html

    Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into those figures and presumably all seats where they have never done well but in terms of activists it must have an impact in 2015. Quite a few of the posters on LD voice (real people/activists not CIFers) seem to be saying they won’t stand because of feeling they would be defending the current party if they did.

    I think the one thing that can save them next year is a big retention of UKIP support depressing the Tory vote.

  49. In a report published on Tuesday, the IPPR think tank warned that a strong showing for Ukip in the Euro elections could increase the chances that Scots will vote to leave the UK in the September referendum on independence.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tv-debates-leave-lib-dems-poll-ratings-at-their-lowest-point-since-2010-9298990.html

    I have been arguing this point for some time – don’t underestimate the effect on the Scottish referendum if UKIP do well in the Eu elections. A vote for UKIP may well be best viewed as a vote (ironically) to break up the UK…

  50. @Alister1948

    “Interesting times ahead, especially for the losing parties at the GE. Short of a political earthquake that has got to be one of Conservative and Labour, plus in all probability the LDs.”

    Crikey, you’re hedging your bets a bit, aren’t you?

    :-)

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