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. Re. the Tory/Labour terminal decline question, I’d say it’s clear in the Tories’ case but more ambiguous in Labour’s.

    Labour had never governed for two full terms before New Labour. Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson were the only Labour leaders who had ever won a general election (Blair brings it to a grand total of three). They have never returned to office after a single term in opposition. There are broad swathes of southern England in which they have never been competitive. To put it bluntly, this is not a party that has ever been particularly effective at winning power.

    That after a single term in opposition immediately following the longest recession in British history they are unlikely to win a landslide is not remarkable, especially considering the 2010 leadership slate. What’s remarkable is that they are in a position to win at all. (And it has to be said, this is largely attributable to the good offices of Mr. Clegg rather than anything Labour have done for themselves, although Miliband at least positioned them to take advantage of Clegg’s services.)

    They’ve been coasting on tribal loyalties in post-industrial areas for a long time. Miliband is to be commended for actually coming up with a strategy to win them a new mandate for the first time in fifty years. (Whether or not it works remains to be seen.)

    The problem the Tories have is that they’ve been captured by people who have absolutely no interest in seeking a new popular mandate, and their current one expired around 1994. I’m not sure it’s fatal, but it’s put them in a weak position for twenty years and the next decade isn’t looking much better than the last two. When you look at how über-Thatcherite most of the 2010 intake are you do wonder how this party is planning to win a majority ever again.

  2. @Crossbat11

    Stating the obvious has never held me back, but I don’t think I’m quite alone in that.

    It did at least rule out a grand coalition.

    I did think posters might be getting a bit fed up with my prediction of December last year, repeated a couple of times, that the percentages at the GE would be
    Lab 35%, Cons 32%, LDs 13%, UKIP 12%.

    This based on the polls as they were then and assuming not a huge change until the GE, and resulting in a Labour majority of a little more than the 20 seats (IIRC) under uniform swing, owing to UKIP’s larger spoiler effect in Cons-Lab marginals, and possibly LDs disproportionally keeping their vote in LD-Cons marginals.

    I’m more pointing up at the moment the long period out of office for a losing party under fixed term parliaments, and what losing one or two elections might do to those parties.

    I will try to be a bit wittier next time. I thought the Green PPB was quite funny by the way, so it can be done.

  3. spearmint
    I agree ad where I think Cameron and Milliband have got it wrong is their resistance to allowing Farage into the election debate. Yes they may well argue that Farage will not become PM but using that line looks like an excuse by the scared. A far better ploy would be to engage in debate with Farage and undermine his arguments if indeed they can.
    Timidity is not a sign of strong leadership and renders them both to cries of cowardice which is not good.

  4. @alister1948

    Thanks for your post… even William Hague had trouble with the Conservative party.

    I’m tempted to say that towards the end they were too busy fighting amongst themselves to even notice him, or Amanda Platell for that matter.

  5. “Another law restricting the use of profanities in the media came into force in Russia in April 2013.

    Would it be a vote winner here?”

    Would it bol*ocks.

  6. R&D local election seat prediction:

    CON -160
    LAB +500
    LD – 340
    Ukip ???

  7. I really think it is an exageration to say that either of the two big parties are in terminal decline. Neither are.

    When comparing share of the vote with the 1950s or 60s we must remember that we are not comparing like with like. Back then you needed 12.5% to save your deposit, which at £150 was a heck of a lot of money then. Today it is only 5% and encourages many more to have a stab at it. That automatically reduces the Con/Lab share.

    Until the early 70s there was no recognised tradition of “standing in every seat”, although the two major parties tended to get near it in that they were the main contenders. Liberals tended to stand only where they fared better or there was a wealthy individual candidate who fancied “having a go”.

    Only from the early 70s did it become fashionable to start counting national shares of the vote rather than just seats won other than in learned tomes, and from then on parties tried to put up as many candidates as possible.

    From the 70s onwards society fragmented with many single issue and minority candidates appearing beyond the big two and the Liberals, this has drawn away votes and membership numbers.

    These factors have inevitably led to decline in the Labour/Conservative share of the vote, and social change has diminished local constituency association/party member numbers as people enjoy more individualistic pursuits with other entertainments so readily available, rather than propping up the bar in a political club.

    However, we must remember that nobody seriously thinks that anyone other than the Leader of the Conservative Party or the Leader of the Labour Party will occupy No.10 after the next however many General Elections.

    Conservative and Labour parties have throughout their histories slightly re-invented themselves as politcal fashions and agendas have changed throughout the democratic west. The change to New Labour only reflected a delayed change in the UK which Social Democratic parties throughout Europe had gone through in adapting to accepting free enterpise, and the Tories evolving from post-war consensus to neo-liberalism only tracked shifts that took place in US politics. They may each go back the other way as necessity dictates in the future – but neither are seriously under threat of extinction IMO.

    They both still dominate politics when voters think that an election “really matters” – European Elections are considered by voters akin to a by-election – a chance to be wacky without consequences and do a very rude sign at the establishment parties – but they will stick to the two big parties like glue when the chips are really down, which is why Labour/Conservative still dominate our body politic.

  8. Tony Dean
    I agree with some of your points, but Con/Lab votes as a percentage of the electorate since 1992 are:
    1992 59.3%
    1997 52.8%
    2001 43.0%
    2005 41.5%
    2010 42.3%

    as percentage of votes cast
    1992 76%
    1997 74%
    2001 72%
    2005 68%
    2010 65%

    Certainly looks like a decline to me

  9. @BILL PATRICK: “But the Tories were able to win repeatedly from 1979 to 1992 without the North of England, the South of Wales etc.”

    Because the opposition was split. The best the Tories managed in that period was 43.9% in 1979, which was pretty much what Gaitskell got in 1959.

  10. I think it is a bit silly to be still arguing that Labour won’t get enough to beat the Tories.

    in 2010 Con got 36% and won’t beat that. Lab got 29% and will cruise away from that.

    The best the tories can hope for is to improve apun 2005, but that depends upon Lab dropping more. I think they are more likely to gain as they firm up a manifesto.

  11. Tony Dean makes a lot of good points – I didn’t realise the threshold for saving a Deposit was 12.5% back then!
    Whilst the 2 main parties have certainly declined no party has come close to replacing them and therefore, by default ( and with a bit of help from FPTP ) they remain “the two main parties” and the only ones whose leader can actually be PM.

    And in a funny sort of way the decline of their combined vote share from above 90% to below 70% has lowered the bar for them – Labour can win an OM and the Tories can be comfortably the largest party on not much more than 35% – a humiliating vote share until about 1970 and likely to lead to defeat as recently as 1992!

    So long as this is the case they will remain the two parties who the truly ambitious ( not necessarily most talented ) politicians will join and support.

  12. Roger H

    The tory vote was incredibly stable across 4 general elections in 1979 it was 43.9%, in 1983 it was 42.4%, in 1987 it was 42.2%, and in 1992 it was 41.9%, a fall of 2% across four terms.

    Such a retention of vote share by a single party, across such a long period, was and remains unprecedented. You can think Thatcher was an evil spirit from the nether regions of Hell, but there’s no doubting her electoral success and hold over a certain portion of the electorate.

    The tories in the 80s were an electoral winning machine. They mastered the principle of base politics. energizing a core support, always over 40%, which delivered them victory. Yes it was a minority of the country, but no party has won more than 50% of the vote since 1931. Even Labour in ’45 fell (just) short. Every government since the 1931 national government has been, in a strict sense, a minority government.

    Labour’s vote share tanked 8% from nearly 44% in 1997 to 2005. The collapse and splintering of the right from 1992, and it has been from that date will be the subject of endless debate and seminars and PhD theses.

    I think the Tory party is in terminal decline unless something drastically changes. The party doesn’t seem to have the brains to recognise and analyse the full depth of the problem, let alone the capacity to come up with an answer.

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

  13. Statgeek.

    I read the Wings article that you referred to.

    As the Rev points out, the idea that Scots voters are somehow “sophisticated” because they often vote in different ways in different elections, to try to achieve what suits them best, is obvious nonsense.

    Scots do exactly what voters in most others do in federal systems around the world.

    Since English voters are just as “sophisticated” as “foreigners” :-) it seems likely that voter behaviour there will reflect that.

    I see phrases on here such as “Lib-Dem defectors” (and I understand that the term isn’t meant in a literal sense), but language can colour interpretation.

    The proportion of the population who are party “loyalists” has been on the decline for a long time.

    In periods when the difference between parties focuses on judgments of their competence to deliver largely similar policies, then managerial competence becomes hugely important.

    When there are issues of principle which matter to many, then votes are most likely to be cast in the direction that will tend to achieve that aim. (Sophisticated it ain’t, normal it is.)

    UNS has always been a highly flawed concept, but it was useful while most people tended the same way.

    Even apart from how voters in England respond to whatever the outcome of the September referendum is, many will look at their own constituency and cast a vote coloured by whether they are more/less/make no difference to get an EU referendum.

  14. Another point to consider is the “no go” areas of the UK for the 2 main parties.

    Labour have certainly declined in Kent and Essex since the 1950s/60s but other than that they have very few hopeless parts of the country that weren’t pretty dire for them even in the good old days – eg the Home Counties, the rural Southwest and rural North Yorkshire.

    The Tories on the other hand are an endangered species in Scotland and the urban North and even Birmingham.

    They are also weaker in London than they once were and still can’t win back former strongholds like Cheltenham, Surbiton or Bath. ( If you had told somebody as recently as the 1980s that those seats were comfortably held by a party other than the Tories they would have wondered what lunatic asylum you had wandered out of! )

  15. Excellent growth figures today, and more importantly, it’s starting to look more balanced.

  16. Oh dear, looks like Patrick Mercer’s definitely off to the Chiltern Hundreds this time.

  17. @PETER CRAWFORD: “The tory vote was incredibly stable across 4 general elections in 1979 it was 43.9%, in 1983 it was 42.4%, in 1987 it was 42.2%, and in 1992 it was 41.9%, a fall of 2% across four terms.”

    I don’t see it as incredible in the context of a divided opposition. Compare with Labour up to 1974:

    1945: 46.1%
    1951: 48.8%
    1955: 46.4%
    1959: 43.8%
    1964: 44.1%
    1966: 48.0%
    1970: 43.1%

    The Tories won in the 1980s with a share of the votes that would have previously seen them in opposition. It was a divided opposition that kept them in office.

  18. Rich

    “Excellent growth figures today, and more importantly, it’s starting to look more balanced”

    At this rate we’ll soon be growing as fast as we were in Q2 2010 – the last quarter before Osborne got his grubby mits on the economy!

  19. Spearmint
    Mercer excluded from Westminster for 6 months, is that enough of a shove to make him resign?
    Nick Robinson on the 6 o’clock news with a report on UKIP potential support which confirmed what l have been banging on about , which is that Farage would sweep the country if he can convince people that UKIP are a kind of ‘League of Empire Loyalist’ (non-racist 2014 version of course !)

  20. Going … going …

  21. Channel 4 news thinks Mercer will resign, announcing it tonight….

  22. Interesting what BBC Scotland journalists are discovering (and publishing elsewhere than on BBC) about BBC membership of CBI.

    NUJ members overwhelmingly voted that the BBC should immediately resign from the CBI – thought the BBC response is that they’ll think about it and respond “in due course.

    However, James Cook now reporting that ‘The BBC says it’s been a CBI member for “at least ten years” and is paying £22,191.94 per year for membership.’

  23. BBC are reporting that Farage has given a broad hint that he personally would be the candidate if a byelection came up in the immediate aftermath of the EU elections.

  24. I thought I had read somewhere that the MP in question had stated that he would resign if he was barred for more than six months, so could be a finely judged penalty.

    If I am wrong we will know quite soon it seems.

  25. BBC website reports that he will resign, in a statement due at 19:15.

  26. The most exciting kind of by-election. Safe seat but winnable in the circumstances. Less than a year before GE.

  27. The question though is for whom is it winnable? I’d suggest it could be the Tories, Labour or UKIP, in that order. A three way fight is even more interesting!

  28. Unlike others I just can’t bring myself into a lather about the BBC having membership of the CBI – I ran a small business five years ago and was a member of the chamber of commerce, and most of the members I suspect were of a rather different political viewpoint than myself – but I wasnt there to debate politics all the time, and Im pretty confident that the Beeb belongs to quite a few ‘clubs’ like this and is pretty savvy about how it would behave at such get togethers. Ok if they started spouting a pro CBI line that would be out of order, but is there any evidence for that? I rather think its the CBI themselves who have got into a mess about this by siding themselves in the independence debate to one side rather than the other, instead of acting as a sounding board and evidence researcher and then leaving it up to their individual members to state their case.

  29. C N-S
    Gone !

  30. I was thinking for Labour. I don’t think UKIP have the muscle to actually win a by-election (Euros are special – they don’t really matter to anyone).

    What they can do is draw 20-25% of the vote and drag the Tories low enough that Labour can pip them.

    I am guessing the government will want the date set ASAP so the whole episode is over with and can be “packaged” with the Euros as the electorate letting off steam.

  31. Just a shame it isn’t a London seat… Boris vs Nigel, with an unknown Labour councillor pipping them to the post.

    @Neil A

    I was under the impression that there had been a rule change, and Wythenshawe and Sale East was the last byelection that could be moved on such a short timetable (like Eastliegh for instance).

    Someone will correct me if that is not the case, no doubt.

  32. “BBC are reporting that Farage has given a broad hint that he personally would be the candidate if a byelection came up in the immediate aftermath of the EU elections.”

    I wouldn’t put any money on him actually doing so, though.

  33. Michael Crick in C4 news said the earliest date for the by-election was May 29th.

  34. @Roger H

    Fair to say neither of the two main parties will poll over 40% at the next election.Apart from 1983 and 1987 Labour’s share of the vote in 2010 was the lowest since 1931.

  35. The Newark by election will be fascinating as gauge of Labour’s chances in 2015.

    In April 1996 Labour got a 22.1% swing from the Conservatives in taking South East Staffordshire.

    In the 97-01 Parliament, Labour didn’t lose a by election.

    In 01-05 Labour lost two, both to the Lib Dems (not many MPs died in that Parliament!)

    In the 05-10 Parliament Labour lost one seat to the SNP, and crucially Norwich North in July 2009 to the Conservatives with a Lab to Con swing of 16.5%.

    Labour won seats from the Conservatives in 1982 and 1986 with about a 10%, a year out from the election. They led to nought in the GEs.

    Can we therefore conclude that unless Labour can obtain a mid-teens swing from the Conservatives, winning well in 2015 looks unlikely?

    Of course the b*ggeration factor is UKIP.

  36. @ Balbs

    I might be wrong on this but Chambers of Commerce tend to do “useful” stuff- help with export documents, tenders etc. Maybe some politics involved at local level but more specific hands on.

    Not sure that the CBI does anything other than politics?

  37. Wings over Scotland are attending the Farage Conference and have tweeted:

    “EXCLUSIVE! Farage says he’ll decide tomorrow morning whether to stand in Newark byelection.”

  38. UKIP facebook page just overtook Libdems

  39. Tricky for Farage I would say.But then fortune favours the brave.Not that I think
    He is the brave of course.

  40. I think it’s fortune favours the bold, innit?



  41. Labour’s candidate is Michael Payne, selected three weeks ago.

  42. @statgeek

    I like to think I know a thing or two about tinfoil hats, and I’d say Mr Campbell was definitely wearing one when he wrote that ‘Farage will Marshall his forces’ paragraph.

  43. I’d heard that Mercer couldn’t stand the sight of Cameron, but I didn’t know he hated him this much!

  44. Stan j,
    It depends whether you follow the authority of Terence or Pliny.But as I suspect
    You have to be brave to be bold it is arguable.But as you say wot ever !

  45. Only other tweet from the Farage thing that is ‘interesting’:

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

    From what I read, it sounded like a watered down version of a non-specific, non-committal pep-talk for the politically disappointed.

  46. The UKIP candidate in 2010 was the Rev Major Tom Irvine who is a URC minister and ex-padre. He was one of the few UKIP councillors to lose his seat in 2013 (to be fair it was a three-way marginal and he actually increased his vote slightly, but Labour overtook him and the two Conservatives who won in 2009. But his area of strength is in Hucknall outside the constituency and he must be 74 or so, so he’s maybe unlikely to stand if a higher-profile candidate is found.

    Looking at the County election results it should be safe Conservative territory – except for one independent they won every division the seat covers. In fact you get the impression the boundary was drawn include the bluest bits of the county. A lot of county divisions are split with only part in the seat so direct calculations are difficult, but the UKIP candidates mostly got results in the upper teens – a bit under average.


    It’ll be fascinating but it’ll tell us very little about the General Election. No one will be electing a government and voters will be placing their votes for reasons other than who they want in No. 10.

  48. Conservatives had already picked a replacement for Mercer – Robert Jenrick who is a director at Christie’s:

    He may come across as a bit of a ‘member of the 1%’ which could possibly leave him open to attack from UKIP, though it looks like a wealthy enough constituency for that sort of thing not to matter.

  49. UKIP winning from a base in recent local elections of upper teens would be no more incredible than some of the Libs by-election successes on enormous swings (pre-2010!)

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