This morning’s online Populus poll was the third to show a Tory lead after the Ashcroft and ICM polls last week. Topline figures were LAB 34%, CON 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%. Tabs are here

Ashcroft’s own poll – the second of his new weekly series – shows Labour back in front. His topline figures are CON 29%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%. Until we get some more of Ashcroft’s polls under our belt it’s hard to judge the trend – was last week’s just a rogue, this a return to normality, or vice-versa, or a shift to Labour. I don’t know, we need to give it some time and see how it compares to figures produced by other companies. Tabs are here.

59 Responses to “New Ashcroft and Populus polls”

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  1. A week is a long time in Ashcroft polls.

  2. Come on, let’s be honest, does anybody really know what’s going on out there?? The Ashcroft poll looks a bit of an outlier to me, and the latest Populus a bit at the margins of MOE. I tend to agree with a poster on the previous thread who said that it’s all fairly consistent with a Labour lead in the region of 3%. Much down on 12-16 months ago, but not a great deal different to what we’ve been seeing for 4 or 5 months now. If you look at the polling archives, the mysterious case of the dissolving Labour lead is fairly easy to crack. The Labour VI, rather like gently falling snowflakes, has slowly fallen from 40% to where it has settle for some time, in the 35-37% range. This started happening as far back as August 2013. I’m talking YouGov here because other pollsters have had them lower, as of course they have for the Tories.

    I’m still looking for the much mooted impending Tory surge. Triumphalism must stay on hold until this much awaited phenomenon occurs.

  3. FPT

    I’ve just looked at the 2014 Populus polls.

    I think Labour are at about a 2 % lead (from about 7 % at the start of the year).

    That is very close to the YG poll lead for Labour.

    At those averages, Labour will lead in about 8/10 polls, and the Conservatives about 1/20 polls. given the usual MOE and standard deviation.

  4. r. haines

    “Canvassing in Milton Keynes @ the w/e, certainly made me see the basis of Labours arguments regarding the cost of living. Whilst some people have 50k plus Merc 4×4?s and Beamer’s, many others are making do with 30k Audi’s. Tragic.”

    Good grief.

  5. Anyway, in answer to ole SN, probably not “official” crossover quite yet.

    I shall say it again: the Tories have a high bottom and a low top, Unless something really dramatic happens
    IN THE PUBLIC’S PERCEPTION OF THEM [i.e. not the much feted “events”] that is not going to change in my view.

    That may even be unfair but fairness has bugger all to do with it. Most voting is based on gut instinct and added to that they will have two parties at them in 2015 – one from outside saying we’ll do it differently and the other from sort of inside saying “Oooo they’re awful, WE would have done it differently.”

    Meanwhile the Tories will be [as far as a large proportion of non-Tory voters are concerned] will be saying:

    “We can be even tougher without the dead weight of the Lib Dems. You’ll like that very much: give us a stonking majority.”

  6. From the other thread-


    A move of the Tories to the centre would certainly make Miliband’s plans for realignment difficult. It’s much easier to shift the centre when your opposition doesn’t hold it, e.g. Labour in the 1980s or the Tories in 1994-2007.

    It’s quite the conundrum for the Tories, I think: carrying on the Cameroonian project opens up the centre ground for them, but alienates Blue Kippers; attracting Blue Kippers with tough talk on immigration and muscular Christian talk alienates those younger voters like me (who might have even been young Tories in a different era) who could be attracted by a more cosmopolitan Tory party.


    Interesting analysis. So it really is the economy, sir? (Let’s avoid American vulgarity!)

  7. @CROSSBAT11

    I would agree with your analysis on this, Labour probably 3-4% ahead though the continuing reduction in lead can be simply tied into the improving economy over the last eighteen Months.
    It may sound counter-intuitive but from a Conservative viewpoint they wouldn’t like a surge at this point, a steady increase onto the shoulder of Labour’s polling would be preferable and then an increase in the last few Weeks before the GE would be preferable. As you can see from Labour’s dwindling lead it provides commentators with an opportunity for critical discussion on a Party’s Leadership and policies etc.

  8. So Con is either 35% or 29%?

    the Populus poll has labour well ahead before weighting, despite not being ahead on 2010 representation. The “certainty of voting” seems to change a healthy Lab lead to a small Tory one.

    I am, once again, reminded of the poll twisting in the US to prove how close the presidential election was going to be.

  9. Is it not Populus that did both polls? Different fieldwork dates possibly?

  10. Howard – very different methods. One is done online, one by telephone. They are weighted differently, and don’t knows are treated differently.

  11. “It may sound counter-intuitive but from a Conservative viewpoint they wouldn’t like a surge at this point,”

    Well, that’s one word for it. Two I suppose. I’d go for a different one meself.

  12. Populus figures for Scotland give Labour 33 seats (down 8), SNP 18 (up 12) Tories 2 (up 1) LDs 6 (down 5). Danny Alexander being kicked out, and Robin Cook’s old seat (Livingston) going SNP. And that’s with the Yes campaign going badly!

    Three questions:
    1. Is this credible? I believe it is, and I know Bill Patrick disagrees with me on this, but my feeling is that these are realistic figures;

    2. Can Labour in England make up those losses? Of course they can….. say some of you. But it will be another sore blow to Labour’s pride in Scotland, after losing two successive Holyrood elections.

    3. What effect would a failure on Labour’s part to do well in the run-up to the GE have on those ‘No’ Scottish voters who suddenly realise that the UK they voted for no longer exists?

  13. @R&D

    Being conspicuously tall and suffering from middle-aged spread I find that I have a high top and a low bottom. Does this mean I should vote Labour?

  14. John B,

    I don’t doubt that the SNP are doing well. I DO doubt that they will do well in the event of a Naw vote.

  15. So much is made by commentators , and even the wise ones here , when the tories get a modest lead(sometimes the day after a Labour lead that would put them handsomely in power). It is good to see this site is run by someone who knows about plus/minus errors and standard deviations. One problem is ALL polls do not use exactly the same proceedures on the same day. Of course they are , at least partly in it for money , eg market research so they will compete by using the rules that suit them. I keep reading ALL abide by a set of rules.clearly ALL do pick and choose as well.
    One poll done as well as statisticians construct them so as not to have to count each ball bearing for quality. MIGHT produce a genuine prediction for the election that is not going to happen tomorrow.
    So we have still to wait and see as one poll will not happen.
    An average of the conservative and labour polling results for (say) the last three months. would I guess. perhaps i will do it ! , show the Tories have a fairly large hill, not a mountain, to climb to get more seats than 2010. and labour either stand still , or make few gains . So far (I can’t recall) the Tories are stuck at the failed 2010 % , and that only a good day
    I enjoy the comments and some may well point up my argument as failing. That’s what in science we should want !

  16. @Bill Patrick

    “…….those younger voters like me (who might have even been young Tories in a different era) who could be attracted by a more cosmopolitan Tory party.”

    Oh good grief – that sounds like me in my late teens – 40 years ago when I was a Greater London Young Conservative Constituency Chair – we were called “Red Guards in Blue Berets” by I think the Daily Telegraph then, for a protest we made at the 1973 Blackpool Conservative Conference against the passing of the pro-Hanging Motion when we shocked all the ranks of geriatric “blue-rinsettes” by dropping a dummy on a rope over the balcony as they voted for hanging!!!! Happy days?!?!

  17. I thought you were a Liberal, Tony?

  18. I forgot to say that the Scottish % figures in the two polls are almost identical. Ashcroft gives an additional LD seat to the Tories (thus 3) and Labour hold onto one more at the expense of the LDs (LD’s lose one more to SNP but SNP fail to gain one more from Lab).

    I think my three questions still stand…..

  19. BP

    My disagreement with you is probably down to our differing expectations as to what will happen to the SNP following the No vote. IMO some hard thinking will ensue, but unlike 1979 there will not, I think, be any bitter infighting. This is due, in part, to the fact that they are in government. Should they lose power dramatically (and I mean by that an outright Labour victory) in 2016, then all bets are off….

  20. @ John B

    I take it your 3 questions are rhetorical, like the last time…

  21. Just got another election communication from our good friends the Liberal Democrats. It’s the most powerfully negative leaflet I think I’ve ever seen. Only a single bullet point of positivity throughout the entire thing, and what space it doesn’t use on big pictures of Nick Clegg is spent attacking the other parties.

    Someone at their HQ needs a serious rethink.

  22. @ Amber


    I just leave them hanging there, awaiting further developments….

  23. Tony Dean,

    I can imagine no time in post-war British political history that would be more depressing, for me, to be young and interested in politics than the early 1970s: the Liberals post-Davies, the Tories pre-Thatcher, the SNP at their most anti-European and left-wing, and the Labour party. Just awful. Usually I can work out how I’d vote in past elections, but the 1974 elections… Nope.

  24. “I just leave them hanging there, awaiting further developments….”

    Are you Tony Dean in disguise?

  25. In fairness to Lord Ashcroft, he isn’t afraid to publish polls which are mildly encouraging for Labour – he does put on a bit of a favourable spin for the Tories for his commentary on Conservative Home but I can cut him some slack there!

    This suggests to me that his polling is fairly accurate and can be trusted, although some of us had doubts last week when his poll did seem to slightly round up the Tories’ VI and round down the Labour VI to produce a 2 point lead for the blues instead of being neck and neck.

    I’ve no doubt if next week’s poll is good for the Tories I’ll be questioning his integrity again!

  26. PI

    Everyone should, whatever shape they are.

  27. John B
    “my feeling is that these are realistic figures”

    Ah, those feelings. We can’t argue with those can we?

  28. AW
    Are the methods used are expected to account for the differences? They are considerable (I mean MOE doesn’t come into it).

  29. Bill Patrick

    “I can imagine no time in post-war British political history that would be more depressing, for me, to be young and interested in politics than the early 1970s”

    You should try the 1990s and early 2000s:-

    Labour defeated for the fourth time in a row, Britain now ruled by Sid Little ( replacing, for all her faults, the charismatic Margaret Thatcher ) and politics dominated by endless internal Tory bickering about Qualified Majority Voting in Brussels, the thoroughly decent John Smith dying, Labour eventually get back to power but by now led by an obvious fraud and Tory in disguise, but everybody else ( including your own family ) thinks he walks on water to such an extent you start to doubt your own sanity, only to eventually be proved right but in the scarcely believable circumstances of an illegal war in alliance with George W Bush!

    I envy young people who are getting interested in politics today!

  30. Paul A
    I think it is relevant, as you are delving into history, to point out that the Iraq war was sanctioned by an overwhelming Commons majority. Democracy is about getting most of the votes and that was achieved by the then PM. All who voted for it share joint responsibility, for good or ill.

  31. ComRes Europe:

    UKIP 33%
    Lab 27%
    Con 20%
    LD 7%
    Others 7%
    Greens 6%

  32. All this nostalgia about the “bad old days”, makes me glad I came of political age in the 1960s. What with the Profumo scandal, the white heat of the technological revolution, Civil Rights in America and the Viet Nam War there was never a dull moment.

    Which reminds me you will be able to read all about these political life and times as they affected us youngsters in the East End of London in my next book, due out in March 2015.

    Are shameless plugs allowed on here?

  33. Norbold

    I envy you – and I will certainly be buying your book which sounds fascinating but better get back to polling analysis before we’re moderated by AW!

  34. @Colinjackson
    “It is good to see this site is run by someone who knows about plus/minus errors and standard deviations. One problem is ALL polls do not use exactly the same procedures on the same day”
    Well said, but random errors are not the whole story. You raise two problems not one. The first is that if polls are conducted at different times, the figures which the polls are trying to measure may have actually changed, though if the timings are close such changes are unlikely to be large.
    The second problem is more significant. If polls use different procedures, than that means that there will be systematic errors (errors always tending in the same direction) in each one. These are not easy to identify (see AW’s comments on whether UKIP is prompted for, or whether on-line and telephone polls are comparable. If a polling system is subject to several unidentified systematic errors (as is the case if you try to compare results from different pollsters) and these errors may point in different directions, then the effect is to increase the +/- range over that due to genuine random variation due to small sample sizes.

  35. @ Norbold

    Please shamelessly post the ISBN :-)

  36. Paul A,

    That WAS the first time I got interested in politics. I even stood (and won) a primary school classroom mock-election as a Lib Dem in 1999 (partly for their policies and partly because their colours best matched Dundee United’s) and I remained very keen on the Lib Dems until the 2005 election temporarily drove me to Scottish nationalism, because I couldn’t stand to be part of a country that reelected the party that had taken us to war in Iraq. And after all that interest in politics, I’ve never done so much as attend a political party meeting- no wonder party memberships are in decline!

    I really like John Major for some reason (probably inverse class-snobbery and my distrust of charisma) but certainly the Tory party in that era was nothing that anybody could be proud about.

    Also, Labour from 1997-2001 was probably their least objectionable period for me, insofar as they did relatively little, spent prudently, and what changes they did make were usually in the right direction e.g. the New Deal, tentative but good moves towards better rights for homosexuals, the Human Rights Act, and academies.

    Today is definitely good, not least because it feels so unpredictable, and every major political party is actually thinking a bit about what they stand for.

  37. UKIP are thundering ahead in the European polls but appear to be hitting the buffers in Scotland.

    SNP look like taking the Lib/Dem seat brining their total to 3 out of the six seats.

    Professor John Curtice said.. “”The LibDems are stuffed,”

    Oh dear.

  38. This morning’s online Populus poll was the third to show a Tory lead after the Ashcroft and ICM polls last week. Topline figures were LAB 34%, CON 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%. Tabs are here

    Ashcroft’s own poll – the second of his new weekly series – shows Labour back in front

    Who knows who is in front but the polls south of the border are tightening that’s for sure and I still predict a Tory to be in number 10 after 2015.

  39. Allan Christie

    “I still predict a Tory to be in number 10 after 2015.”

    Why, is Tony Blair making a comeback?


  40. @Amber Star

    “Please shamelessly post the ISBN :-)”

    As soon as I know what it is, Amber, you’ll be the next to know…along with the rest of the UKPR regulars.

  41. ComRes poll was for ITN and as usual restricted to those who said they were 10/10 certain to vote (48%):

    UKIP 33% (27%)

    Lab 27% (30%)

    Con 20% (21%)

    L/D 7% (8%)

    Green 6% (7%)

    SNP 4% (4%)

    PC 1% (*%)

    BNP 1% (1%)

    Other 1% (1%)

    Figures in brackets are those for all people who gave a voting intention (81%) as again ComRes did not give any intermediate figures. As usual there is quite a difference.

    The problem with using the strict filter is that people answer differently. For example 56% of men but only 40% of women say 10 in this poll; similarly only 27% of under-25s but 67% of 65+s.

    While there may also be some disparity in voting behaviour between these various groups, I doubt it will be as dramatic. But they also choose different Parties (only 23% of all women said UKIP for example). So using the very strict LTV=10 filter (rather than say LTV=8-10) may bias the headline VI.

    Tables are here:

  42. Crossbat

    ‘I’m still looking for the much mooted impending Tory surge. Triumphalism must stay on hold until this much awaited phenomenon occurs’

    Why do you want a surge when incrementalism is working in your favour? Give it another year with good economic news and the polls will likely be where you (but not I) want them to be.

  43. @MSmithsonPB

    LAB has 3% EP2014 lead with ComRes EP2014 for ITV NEWS based on all expressing voting intention

  44. Norbold – definitely not, though regular posters may be interested in this page: Norbold’s books


  45. Lol, Ashcroft’s Populus is the new ComRes. I think we just have to accept that the phone poll sample sizes are too small to give consistent results.

    @ Catmanjeff,

    You can’t compare the leads in the (online) Populus polls from January to the current ones, because the Great Methodology Shift substantially reduced Labour’s topline VI. (I actually think they had it too high before, but regardless of what the “real” Labour VI is, the change from January isn’t meaningful.)

    @ Marco,

    If the reduction in the lead is due to the economic recovery, why hasn’t the Government recovered any voters? (This is not a sarcastic question- I’m genuinely curious what you think the explanation is. “Recovery vindicates Osborne -> people no longer trust Miliband and Balls on the economy -> people won’t vote Labour” seems a plausible explanation for the falling Labour vote share, but presumably you’d expect those people to go over to the Tories or back to the Lib Dems. Why are they voting for Ukip or the Greens instead?)

  46. Or what Roger said. Though I wouldn’t feel particularly confident with a 3 point lead against UKIP in a Euro election. I’d consider it more or less a dead heat and hope for the best.

  47. @Newforestradical,

    I don’t think CB meant to be taken literally. A Tory surge is the last thing he’d want.

    So far I think the Tories have made it about halfway down “the creek” without a paddle. So far so good, roughly on course to make it, only 50% of the creek to go. But still no paddle.

  48. It doesn’t do in France to be in a position of responsibility. Manuel Valls, the new PM, has dropped from 62% approval to 52 % approval, a few weeks after taking office (source Le Figaro).

    I have always regarded the position of PM in France as National Scapegoat. However, only 23% of French voters approve of their President, and so he changed the PM to see if that position could change.

    But how can a few weeks be of any significance whatsoever? I get the impression that, in France, moaning about one’s government is a national pastime, whereby the incumbents merely shrug their gallic shoulders (plus ca change).

    Perhaps francophiles, like Colin, (hee hee), can inform us.

  49. Neil A
    They haven’t even dragged themselves of the mud at the end of the creek. Only when it’s Con 40 Lab 35 LD 10, can Conservative enthusiasts start to enjoy some ‘what-if’ excitement.

    I don’t really see any immediate signs of that ‘surge’ – do you?.

  50. Thank you Anthony and I promise not to mention my next book, “Pie ‘n’ Mash and Prefabs”, again…

    at least probably not until next February or March….

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