We’ve had a couple of weeks to digest the European elections now, and it looks as if the polls since then have been showing a slightly increased Labour lead. I’ve done a graph below of the last few months of polls – in order to remove any variation from irregularly or infrequently published polls the graph below shows voting intention in just YouGov and Populus polls – the two most regularly published polls. I’ve used a seven poll average, as it means (bank holidays aside) every data point is made up of 5 YouGov polls and 2 Populus polls giving us a nice steady figure.

Looking at the parties one by one, there’s an obvious downwards trend in Labour support, interrupted by the aftermath of the European elections, since when they seem to have enjoyed a minor lift in support. Conservative support wiggles about a bit, but there is no definite trend. UKIP support rises in the run up to the European election, but fades as they actually approach (perhaps the impact of the widespread accusations of racism, perhaps just random variation) before increasing in the aftermath of the elections. The Liberal Democrats are steady, but have perhaps faltered since the European campaign. Finally there is an obvious upwards trend in the previously steady level of support for the Green party.

The question of course is whether any of this will have any long term impact whatsoever, or is the merely the impact of the publicity and campaigning around the European elections. After the local elections last year we got a spike in UKIP support, which by July settled down again. We need to wait a couple of weeks and see if all the apparent changes in party support over the last couple of weeks revert back to the trends they were showing before May, or if they’ve had any longer lasting impact.

Meanwhile tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 37%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%. A lower Labour lead than the last few polls, but nothing yet that couldn’t be normal sample variation.


210 Responses to “Westminster polls and the European elections”

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  1. Thanks for this, Anthony. Interesting to see if Greens maintain that rise.

  2. Lab on the up.

  3. Who can say.But I do think that with friends like Charles Clark,who needs enemies?

  4. Cons graph seems to mirror Ukip graph. When Ukip rises Cons falls and vice versa.

  5. Whoo, look at the Greens go! If they keep increasing at this rate they’ll be at 25% by the general election. :p

  6. @Crossbat (previous thread)

    The May/Gove business is very much a bubble issue. The Populus polls that ask people to name what they’ve noticed in the news this week consistently show that things like this hardly register (last week the Madeleine McCann search was noticed by more than double as many people as the Queen’s Speech).

  7. Oh don’t their supporters are insufferable enough to me on Twitter as it is.

  8. Tony Cornwall,

    You could say the same about each of the following pairs too:

    Con & Lab
    LD & Green

    Paul HJ

  9. More seriously, Labour are going to have a lead problem if the Ukip -> Tory tide flows back faster than the Greenkip -> Lab tide.

    I don’t think it’s serious for them in a deep sense because most of these people will come home at the general election, but a summer of 1-2 point leads would be a massive headache for Miliband because it’ll give the party a nervous breakdown.

  10. @Charles – fascinated by your observations re variability/gross performance on the previous thread. I’m quite tickled that there might actually be some evidence out there to support some of my ideas.

    On whether it affects polls, I would argue that it does so more than we think. Many voters don’t actually believe in anything in a political sense – they just want to see things that work. After a period of government of one type, one set of problems tends to emerge, and the government eventually loses, and then the process reverses.

    AW posted something a good while back now about social attitude surveys, which I recall showed that over time people became more left wing under the Tories and more right wing under Labour. Maybe it’s what defines politics?

  11. Spearmint,

    At a steady improvement of 1% per month since April, the GE would need to be delayed to Feb 2016 for Greens to reach 25%. But, if current trend were continued, they could be around 15% by next May.

    Some might think that could put them in contention with UKIP – except that in the same two month period UKIP have added 5%, which if extrapolated to next May would put them on around 40%.

  12. @Mr Nameless

    Oh don’t their supporters are insufferable enough to me on Twitter as it is.

    Don’t let it both you :-)

  13. The DfE statement that Gove “did not ask Ofsted to halt its plans for no-notice inspections in 2012” sounds eerily reminiscent of Michael Howards “I did not overrule him”.

    We need Paxman to start asking Gove the right question (“Did you threaten to overrule him?”). And again. And again.

  14. CMJ,

    Nothing personal against Greens in general you understand. Merely those who are personal about me!

  15. Mr N

    I sympathise.

    Up here, Lab activists are outraged at the “vile abuse” of identifying a Lab activist as a Lab activist.

    Shameful, I call it!

  16. “Up here, Lab activists are outraged at the “vile abuse” of identifying a Lab activist as a Lab activist.”

    Wot…. all of them?

    That’s a bit of a coincidence then.

  17. R&D

    Oh, I’m sure that some of them are happy with the description – but many on Twitter (including Mags Curran) seem offended by the description.

    Could be that they are actually Tories, and are genuinely offended.

  18. @Robin (11.40)

    Posted this on the previous thread.

    According to Newsnight, Ofsted are sticking with Sir Michael Wilshaws comments re Gove last night and refutes the DfE statement earlier today.

    Someone is telling li*s. This is totally unacceptable – someone should go, the problem is determining whether it should be Gove or Wilshaw.

  19. Peter Bell

    Doubtless (like the Treasury version of the Macbethian scenario) it will turn out that Whitehall “misbriefed”.

    They should stick to boxers.

  20. Spearmint…

    you’re right and shrewd when you suggest that labour’s biggest risk is ripping themselves apart at the first poll weakness. we saw the knives turn on miliband when there were a couple of polls showing tory leads.

    Labour are always very jittery because they’re scared it’s 1992 all over again, but looking at the ground up, i mean actual constituencies as opposed to general polls, the reds are almost a shoo-in for largest party. I know it’s too early to tell, and governments rally before elections, blah blah, but it’s pretty obvious to me.

    I shall be the first to confess my utter ignorance and stupidity, if i’m wrong next may.

  21. @OLDNAT

    I think the Dfe said Wilshaws had “misremembered” his conversation with Gove.

    @JAMES PEEL

    You really should not believe all you read in the press. The criticism from the old Blairites like Clarke today has been constant and probably will continue no matter what the polls say.

  22. Toonie

    you’re right the anti-Ed carping has been constant, but last month it was actual MPs not has beens like Clarke. I think Ed is a very poor presenter, but he’s ok at strategy. I don’t think the left would have been so united under David.

    I don’t like lefty politics but they’ve been quite disciplined compared to the 1980s and 1950s, periods of opposition in which the labour party ripped itself apart.

  23. Persistent (albeit unconfirmed yet) rumors from Brussels report that one of the last remaining allies of UKIP in the EFD group in the EP, the Lithuanian “Order and Justice” (TT) party, defected to the new group European Alliance for Freedom of Marine Le Pen. Now this group includes the formerly unaffiliated FPOE (Austria), PVV (Netherlands), FN (France) and VB (Flanders/Belgium), the ex-EFD LN (Italy) and TT (Lithuania), plus the new (and totally toxic!) party NKP (Congress of the New Right, Poland). So the EAF group, if these rumors prove to be accurate, includes 44 members from 7 countries and can be officially constituted. After the defection of LN and TT to EAF, of Danish DF and Finnish PS to ECR and the failure of SNS (Slovakia) and LAOS (Greece) to reelect a MEP, the only remaining ally of UKIP is the Dutch Christian fundamentalist SGP. So, in order for EFD to continue as a group, five more nationalities are required. Possible partners might be AFD (Germany), Svoboda (Czech R.), SD (Sweden) and 5Stars (Italy), but it is quite improbable to have all these parties work together, and even if this were achieved, there are still 6 countries, i.e. one short. Conclusion: despite his success in UK, N. Farage will probably remain without a group in the EP.

  24. sorry not to intervene in this fascinating eu chat, but eyeballing the graph, it looks as though the steady, albeit slight, rise of the greens is correlated with the steady, albeit slight, decline of the lib dems, or is this too simplistic.

    The libs were flatlining in the polls at 10% for more than three years, then they’ve started a slow descent about 3 months ago….

  25. @TONY CORNWALL

    “Cons graph seems to mirror Ukip graph. When Ukip rises Cons falls and vice versa.”

    ———–

    Yes, but also note the underlying trend. Overall, the Tory VI over the period has broadly flatlined. Whereas Ukip have had a rising trend…

  26. @TONY CORNWALL

    “Cons graph seems to mirror Ukip graph. When Ukip rises Cons falls and vice versa.”

    ———–

    Yes, but also note the underlying trend. Overall, the Tory VI over the period has broadly flatlined. Whereas Ukip have had a rising trend…

  27. @TONY CORNWALL

    “Cons graph seems to mirror Ukip graph. When Ukip rises Cons falls and vice versa.”

    ———–

    Yes, but also note the underly-ing trend. Overall, the Tory VI over the period has broadly flatlined. Whereas Ukip have had a rising trend…

  28. One wonders at the Blairite predeliction for staying further to the right. Especially given the polling showing voter enthusiasm for things like nationalisation and regulation and stuff. Perhaps they reason that by moving closer to Tories they will hoover up more votes overall, a version of the Hotelling law thing.

    Problem is it opens up space on the left of centre for other parties to move into, as we saw with LDs prior to the election. The LibDems, having “coalesced”, are no longer an issue in that regard, but now there are the Greens chipping away in that space instead.

    The other problem is that when Labour move to the right, they dismantle the stuff that gives Labour a chunk of its raison d’etre, changing the landscape to favour Tories in the long run.

    Finally, quasi-neoliberalism plus a bit of redistribution, the Blairite way, is rather a kludge compared to making the markets work properly to create more opportunity and predistributing so that you don’t need the sticking plasters of benefits etc. (or even of mansion taxes!!)

  29. Morning Jim Jam

    A nice YG poll this morning for the Net Approval vs VI collection :-)

    Quite a change in both.

    Await more polls ( AW should have T shirts printed ) :-)

  30. @spearmint – fpt

    Fwiw here are Jose Manuel Barroso’s remarks:

    “I do acknowledge that for historical, geopolitical and economic reasons the case of the UK may be seen as a special one. Precisely because of this, it would be a mistake to transform an exception for the UK into a rule for everybody else.

    “We can, and should, find ways to cater to the UK’s specificity, inasmuch as this does not threaten the Union’s overall coherence,” he said.

    This looks like a way of isolating the UK within the EU… Cameron’s à la carte attitude to the treaties has been roundly rejected elsewhere.

    There are also the reports that Cameron has threatened to bring forwards the date of the referendum (to when?).

    It is too early to say for sure that this little bit of business on the part of Cameron won’t have major repercussions. it’s not impossible that the UK could be headed for a bad-tempered and unintentional exit because of it… there is a fairly impressive anti-UK head of steam boiling up across Europe as it is.

  31. james peel
    “rise of the greens is correlated with the steady, albeit slight, decline of the lib dems, or is this too simplistic.”

    I’m sure some of it is that, but if you look to mid May, there was a spell then when Greens and LDs were both rising simultaneously, and the only party that was falling significanly was UKIP. My theory is that some previous LD supporters considered voting UKIP – some even said they would, but on learning more about UKIP and the Greens, both those who were considering voting UKIP and those who had already decided not to, have headed for the Greens.

  32. @R&D
    Yesterday you said (a propos of Religion)

    “I think that we should have made it illegal decades ago to treat faith within the school system as anything other than an unproven theory which many people believe but of which there are many varieties which often conflict with each other.
    It simply should NOT be taught as a fact.”

    Would you apply the same rule to evolution, and if not, why not?

    And is not religion as a human activity not a major factor in today’s world? Why, then, ought it not to be a subject for investigation by enquiring minds? Surely it is no more open to dispute than, say, economic theories! Would you ban Economics from schools because there are differing models and beliefs, none of them, as far as I can see, any more or less provable than religious beliefs?

  33. @Toonie – 1,24 a.m.

    You asked Old Nat, but the answer to your question has to be ‘No’! The Yes campaign has been too occupied with economics (bogus and otherwise) coming out of the Whitehall black ops unit to have had time to help the Scots see the historical and cultural importance of September 18. In other words, the Yes Campaign has messed it up, IMO. The BBC’s pro-Union ranting hasn’t helped, of course, but the facts remain stark: the Scots have opted for English gold, just as the Scottish parliament did in 1707.

    Of course, there’s still a couple of months to go, but I’d be surprised if the Yes campaign gets much more than 35% in the end.

  34. @”Would you apply the same rule to evolution, and if not, why not?”

    Oh oh !

  35. @Colin – “Await more polls ( AW should have T shirts printed ) :-)”

    I’m think of a campaign slogan that can be shouted out as we all march together;

    ‘What do we want?
    More Polls!
    When do we want it?
    At regular intervals’

    That’ll have the politicians quaking at the knees.

  36. @Carfrew
    “The other problem is that when Labour move to the right, they dismantle the stuff that gives Labour a chunk of its raison d’etre, changing the landscape to favour Tories in the long run.”

    Very true.

  37. just on the statistics……
    running average is a very bad way to smooth data because it gives undue weight to single aberrant values – 7 readings are no longer statistically independent. So the bump in the conservative graph around the 3rd week in march could be due to a single very high value.
    There are ways of weighting the data to improve the problem. like the Weiner filter, for example.

  38. @Colin

    Would you be a bit more specific? “Oh Oh” doesn’t seem to me to be making your views very clear!

  39. @Colin – again!

    And unlike so many points raised on this site (by me, as well as by others), I was not being polemical. I would like an answer from R&D to my question, and if the answer makes sense then I will be happy to go along with what R%D has said.

  40. @Billy Bob

    “There are also the reports that Cameron has threatened to bring forwards the date of the referendum (to when?).”

    To know when I’d imagine. The fact that reports on what he’s threatened changes on an almost weekly basis suggests that everyone in Europe knows he’s bluffing, keeps calling his bluff so Cameron keeps upping the ante in the hopes he’ll eventually frighten them into getting his way.

  41. R&D, of course, not R%D

  42. @Spearmint – “Labour are going to have a lead problem if the Ukip -> Tory tide flows back faster than the Greenkip -> Lab tide”

    That seems a rather simplistic characterisation of the n-dimensional switching dynamics at play here.

  43. You can teach the theory of evolution without making it a punishable crime to marry somebody who doesn’t believe in it.

  44. From the ONS

    ‘There were 2.16 million unemployed people, 161,000 fewer than for November 2013 to January 2014 and 347,000 fewer than a year earlier.’

    The unemployment rate was 6.6% of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work), down from 7.2% for November 2013 to January 2014 and down from 7.8% a year earlier.’

    Good news

    But

    Pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain for February to April 2014 was 0.7% higher than a year earlier, with pay excluding bonuses 0.9% higher.

    CPI in April 1.8% RPI 2.5%

    That is another substantial fall in living standards for those in work.

    A mid April yougov poll
    e.g Sunday April 13th

    In your opinion how good or bad is the state of Britain’s
    economy at the moment? -20% (good 22% bad 42%)

    How do you think the financial situation of your
    household will change over the next 12 months? -18% (better 18% wordse 36%)

  45. ALEC

    :-) :-) :-)

  46. JOHNB

    No-thanks all the same.

  47. John B

    R&D’s use of “theory” was a bit loose. Unlike in everyday usage where theory is often used to describe little more than unevidenced speculation, In science, theories are the best we’ve got – well established, but still provisional, explanations for the behaviour of the natural world, repeatedly tested and verified through observation and explanation. But any theory can be falsified by contradictory evidence. Evolution by natural selection is one of the most robust theories of modern science – supported by mountains of evidence and observation and falsified by none. Evolution as a process is also a fact. It has been observed in both the laboratory and the natural world.

    By contrast, in scientific terms, religions are not theories nor even testable hypotheses, because they rest on supernatural phenomena. There is no test result which is inconsistent with the existence of beings whose powers lie outside the natural laws of the universe. But where religions make specific claims which can be tested using the tools of science (eg on the age of the earth or the occurrence of global meteorological catastrophes), they are frequently and comprehensively falsified by the evidence.

  48. MUDDY WATERS

    What an excellent post-a masterpiece of the brief & succinct.

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