Just a quick post on Monday’s regular polls from Lord Ashcroft and Populus. The twice-weekly online poll from Populus has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 3%. Tabs here.

Lord Ashcroft’s weekly telephone poll has topline figures of CON 28%(-1), LAB 33%(-2), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 17%(+2), GRN 7% (tabs here).

In my post yesterday I touched on issues of party image – of how the Conservatives lead on competence, but Labour are more likely to be seen as having it’s heart in the right place. Today’s Ashcroft poll has a much bigger section on party image but you can see the same pattern. The Conservative party are more likely to be seen as being “competent and capable”, “having clear ideas to deal with Britain’s problems” and being “willing to take tough decisions for the long term”. However Labour lead on perceptions that are more about values – so they are ahead on “shares my values”, “on the side of people like me” and have big leads on having its “heart in the right place” and “stands for fairness”.

As a general view, I’d say that gap there is what prevents the Conservatives doing much better. The Tories have a leader who rates far more positively than the opposition leader; they now have a consistent lead on the economy, the big issue facing the country. The thing that holds them back is that people do still see them as a party of the rich (and a party of the white) and don’t trust their motives, whereas whatever Labour’s other failings are (and they have their own image problems), the public do at least still see them as having their heart in the right place and caring about fairness.

496 Responses to “Latest Populus and Ashcroft polls”

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  1. first?

    terrifying for tories that labour’s lead seems to have widened a touch since the european results last month.

    With 10 months and 2 weeks to go, when does swingback start?

  2. Peter

    I think most people have switched off from politics for the Summer – certainly that was the view at our meeting this morning. TK wasn’t concerned about the polls.

    In the Autumn minds will be focused that the GE is just months away and then Conference season will begin and we (and others) can begin the next assault.

  3. @PC
    I think wiser Tory heads will have been expecting it – the Euros just gave Labour voters a chance to stretch their electoral legs a bit (particularly in the Green direction). Didn’t stop those same wise heads saying otherwise at the time.

    For balance just switch Labour for Tory and UKIP for green in the above.

  4. Ashcroft has 1 in 4 intending to vote Greens and UKIP, seems high.
    Greens 3% in one poll and 7% another! Who to trust?
    I still think Labour and Ed are driving vote towards the Greens.

  5. @Jack (from previous thread)

    Lack on interest in formal learning, pccasionally even outright anti-intellectualism, is still a problem among parts of the working class. This itself is probably a hangover of the class system, with some working class people still internalising that education is just ‘not for the likes of us.’

  6. @ Pressman

    What you reveal about the “mind set” of the NI Group is deeply disturbing for the fair functioning of the democratic process.

    What you imply by your posts is that a huge proportion of the press is deliberately and gleefully conspiring to distort reality by petty, barely disguised anti-semitic jibes at the way Ed Miliband presents himself in his personal mannerisms.

    This is being done by focussing on petty personal foibles which have no bearing on what the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition has seriously to put before the electorate.

    It is clear, if your posts are to be believed, that the press wish to prevent voters from making a fair and informed choice between the two potential governments on offer.

    Fair criticism of any potential Labour policies is of course fair game – but anti-semitism, barely and unconvincingly excused as something else, brings total shame upon the newspaper industry IMO.

    Freedom of the press is meaningless if it just the freedom to tell untruths and distort the democratic process.

    If your posts are true and these “planning meetings” are actually taking place to willfully conspire to destroy in the public mind half of our democratic establishment, this is so fundamentally anti-democratic, that I suspect whenever Labour ever gets a majority again Leveson will in hindsight look like a mild picnic!

    Surely the press must realise that one day the boot will be on the other foot, and a Labour controlled parliament will hopefully make all the press be required by statute to provide factual balance as is currently required of TV.

  7. “To put it another way, when it comes to choosing a government, will voters value empathy over ability?”

    Lord Ashcroft.

    Mmmm ??

  8. @Drunkenscouser,

    I think it’s partly that, but I think it’s not just about how working class kids think about their own education, but the way their education is viewed by other working class kids. Some kids fall out of the academic race not because they don’t have faith in their own ability, but because they don’t want other people to think they’re a tw**. Being demonstrably knowledgeable, erudite and interested in the world around you are far more valuable social skills in the middle classes than the working class.

    For me, with a foot in both worlds, the contrast was stark.

  9. @Tony,

    Without wanting to provide any sustenance to Norwegian mythical beings, I share some of your misgivings about NI. But I think the “disguised anti-semitism” is a bit strong. Ed M looks a bit weird, and he looks a bit Jewish. But I don’t necessarily think attacking his weird appearance (whilst in itself puerile) is therefore anti-semitic. Zac Efron, Mila Kunis and Sarah Silverman are all very Jewish looking, but NI would struggle to attack them for their appearance. I’m sure if they ever entered UK politics on the left, NI would find something to attack them on, but it wouldn’t be appearance.

    And the idea that the government should legally enforce “factual balance” sends a little bit of a shiver down my spine. Government views of what is fact and what isn’t can be a tad, well, subjective to put it nicely.

  10. “To put it another way, when it comes to choosing a government, will voters value empathy over ability?”
    Lord Ashcroft.

    IMO some voters will stick to “whose on my side?” Others will go for “Who is more competent?”

    I suspect the GE will be as Wellington said at Waterloo “….. the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life”

  11. hoof hearted

    Greens 3% in one poll and 7% another! Who to trust?

    The 3% comes from TNS who always seem to produce low figures for ‘Others’ parties in their infrequent polls. The remaining pollsters seem to be giving a rating of 5-7%. Ashcroft’s is telephone poll and I get the impression that those tend to give slightly better results for the Greens that online ones (or maybe online is worse for them for technical reasons).

    According to the tables:


    the Greens got 5% with (online) Opinium as well, so it does seem fairly consistent.

  12. @ Tony Dean

    Well said and completely agree … although I don’t doubt for a moment that large parts of the the media do exactly as Pressman suggests. Why else would Murdoch et al so much effort into owning papers .. their love of journalism really doesn’t convince me as an explanation.

  13. @ Neil
    “And the idea that the government should legally enforce “factual balance” sends a little bit of a shiver down my spine. Government views of what is fact and what isn’t can be a tad, well, subjective to put it nicely.”

    I agree that Governments cannot be trusted to supervise what is fact and what is not. However, I cannot see what would be wrong with an Independent Committee of Crossbenchers to oversee statutory political balance on TV and in the print media.

    For me Leveson didn’t go anything like far enough to help to ensure a functioning democracy, rather than the Distortionocracy we have at the moment!!

  14. With respect to Lord Ashcroft’s question, the answer may not be quite as obvious as people may think. If you think a group of politicians are likely to do bad things to you, then competence is last additional quality that you want them to display.

  15. @Tony,

    There are forms of political orthodoxy that are not strictly party political. I agree that there needs to be more recourse and greater consequences for abuse, and I don’t share the media’s kneejerk opposition to anything with the word “statutory” but I still worry. If 50% of the public supports capital punishment, does that mean that the commission has to ensure 50% of the voices on TV do? If 20% of the public is openly racist, do 20% of newspaper columns have to reflect that?

    @Roger Mexico,

    I honestly don’t think that’s how the question of “competence” is meant or perceived.

    I think people that believe that the Tories are ruthlessly efficient in destroying public services and serving the moneyed classes would not describe them as “competent”.

  16. i think it’s all a bit of froth…the tories have been flatlining at abt. 32% for a year. i don’t see a big breakthrough for them in the next 10 and a half months…

  17. As probably the only person with sustained contact with the journalists of the future (sounds grandiose but I mean Journo students) they are very much dead set against the actions of NI. This may change as they enter employment and their ethical considerations are set against professional requirements, but they’re in no way minded to hack phones or perform hatchet jobs on any politician.

    The end result of this might be that in twenty or thirty years there will be no need for regulation, but for now there is great support among students (and much of the faculty) for implementing the Leveson recommendations, or perhaps going further (although I personally find Leveson sufficient).

    Make of it what you will – but a good number of journalists are in favour and opposed to what they see as unfair monstering of people.

  18. @Roger Mexico – That gets at another problem: one can believe that Labour or the Conservatives will do bad things, and one can believe that Labour or the Conservatives intend to do bad things, but those are not the same. The question does not discriminate sufficiently between sincere wrongness and malevolence.

  19. I suspect that journalists like Kavanagh are further out of touch with ordinary people than the average politician.

  20. @MrNameless – Many of us who are older than you are will be able to tell you of youthful friends who started out intending to be investigative journalists / human rights lawyers / etc, but who ended up taking the pieces of silver instead.

    This is actually a useful polling point: respondents tend to present themselves and their intentions in the most flattering possible light.

  21. I wonder about the assumed apples and pears split implied in perceptions of competence in the management of the economy on the one hand and perceptions that are “more about values” on the other ……“shares my values”, “on the side of people like me” and having its “heart in the right place” and “stands for fairness”.
    Are these not economic values and policies? “Stands for fairness” is, in economic terms, to do with compensation and rights in the work place, and social, including health, education and welfare, costs, central to management of the economic system, to enterprise management to employment and training and to the management of unemployment, and in that context the management of immigration.
    It could be argued that these issues and values are more relevant to government management of the economy than, say, financial regulation or manufacturing and trade, in that they are directly, and in some respects entirely, the responsibility of government.
    Are polls not biasing responses on economic competence by defining the one as economic and the other as “more about values”.

  22. It was always thought, by politicians anyway, that the Tory tribal vote was slightly larger than the Labour tribal vote. The Labour tribe are most unlikely to go anywhere, certainly not to green or UKIP. The Tory tribal vote now, for however brief a period, has two possible homes. There are those in the Tory tribe who see UKIP as the real Conservative party. The question is will this last until May 2015?


    @” If you think a group of politicians are likely to do bad things to you,”

    “bad things” doesn’t feature-either in his Poll , or his question.

    His question relates to his polling questions :-

    ie-Will Labour’s top three attributes from those offered to respondents :-
    “Heart in the right place” + “stands for fairness” + “reasonable & sensible ” ; or Cons top three attributes :- “Willing to take tough decisions for the long term” + ” Reasonable and sensible” + ” Competent and capable ” be the greater attractant of votes at the GE ?

  24. Talking of press regulation I saw this story in the independent about parliamentary privilege:


    Surprised the chances of this happening hasn’t been more hyped up by the press and presumably they are allowed to report what is said in Parliament?

    I’m a little bit in two minds on this. You’d welcome anything that brought someone to justice but if enough evidence isn’t there for a court of law and parliamentary privilege is used to make the allegations I wonder if that doesn’t open the floodgates to bad mouth anyone as long as you are an MP.

  25. Debating societies and working-class intellectualism?

    Every Wednesday Mr Josser and Uncle Henry (London Belongs To Me 1945, Norman Collins) attend the South London Parliament and Debating Society.

    Much to Mr Josser’s surprise the PM (Mr Plumcroft) appoints him to Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which is quite an onerous position, this being December 1938.

    The !948 film version omits this, along with many other sub-plots, but then it does have the incomparable Alastair Sim (Mr Squale), along with Fay Compton (Mrs Josser), Ivy St. Helier (Connie Coke) and a young Dickie Attenborough (Percy Boon)… available on YouTube.

  26. Tony

    NI won’t indulge in anti-semitism, I imagine the Mail or some of the old sticks might in subtle or not to subtle ways.

    However everything else is fair game; like in 1992 we face a tight race in which there is a Labour leader on the Left. We didn’t lose then and we don’t think we will next year.

    Ashcroft seems to always have the big boys share at less than other agencies; nobody on here seriously believes Cameron will be at 28% in May.

  27. One problem with vague statements such as ‘stands for fairness’ is that there can be different opinions on what is fair.

    For instance, it could be argued that a flat rate of income tax is fair, because one person with twice the taxable income of another would pay twice as much tax. However I can see that there would be other voices saying that it would be fair to tax the higher earner even more than that. This is just the first area that occurred to me, but I’m sure many other examples could be found.

  28. @ BField,

    That or the NI hacks are getting really desperate.

    Either way, I think Team Red should find him a soothing rather than a disturbing presence.

  29. @RMJ

    ‘The Labour tribe are most unlikely to go anywhere, certainly not to green or UKIP.’


  30. More seriously….
    thanks as ever AW for your summary/analysis.

    It seems to me that the Lab image problem (lack of plans, willingness to take unpopular decisions) has a much better chance of reversal than the Con image problem (nasty party)

    I have thought for a while that Lab need to come up with an alternative narrative, rather than a succession of micro-policies: most often they are in themselves popular, often strongly so, but they have not been knitted together in any visible way into a vision or a plan – cf the Cons who now say ‘long term economic plan’ even more often than ‘the mess’. The ‘cost of living crisis’, while real enough, is a statement of the problem and the policies announced thus far will only nibble at the edges of a solution: and I think the voters know it.

    The Con reputation for competence equally seems to me to be fragile. Yes, we have growth, but they actually inherited growth (which even Lab seem to have forgotten) and had at least 3 years of non-growth in between. Further, there have been plenty of c*ckups from badgers and pasties via passports to universal credit that don’t suggest serene competence to me.

  31. @MrNameless

    As someone who frequently and regularly deals with journalists myself I can assure you that their scruples go out of the window if they interfere with putting dinner on the table.

    I take an exceptionally dim view of the profession, I am afraid. I think the way the Press has gone in the last couple of decade has institutionalised too many very bad habits, the profession badly and urgently needs regulation and they absolutely and unequivocally cannot be trusted to do it themselves.

  32. The Conservatives may score higher than Labour for competence, but this may be similar to the drubbing Lancs are currently handing out to Northants in the County Championships.

    Lancs are going to win, but they’re still not actually very good and being better than Northants doesn’t actually mean very much.

  33. Excellent analysis as usual. Next time I need surgery I will ask for a well-meaning, sympathetic surgeon, rather than one who “knows what he is doing”.

  34. A couple of years ago on this site I posited that some of the attacks on Ed Miliband had a tinge of antisemitism, for which I got rather slapped down. Nothing since has convinced me otherwise. The ongoing comments on Ed’s looks, mannerisms and the way he eats a bacon sandwich (should it matter that it’s bacon?) are in the style of classic European antisemitism as any student – or indeed survivor – of the 1930s would confirm. Weird? Looks a bit not-quite-like-us? Foreign-ish family? A bookish ‘nerdy’ outsider? All code for Jewish. The Mail’s clumsy and awful attack on Ralph Miliband was right out of the antisemitism playbook. Question the patriotism and integrity of a refugee war veteran? The dog whistle is melting from overuse, yet cloaked in plausible deniability. Everyday antisemitism does not come dressed in jackboots and a swastika.

    Ed isn’t the first target. Widdecombe’s ‘something of the night’ about Michael Howard is related to central European legends about Jews drinking Christian blood or using blood to make matzos. Just because we don’t have a French style FN it doesn’t mean that similar strains do not exist here.

    Hopefully none of this will matter next May when people vote on more important matters than sandwich ettiquette. But it does leave a sour taste behind.

  35. @Chris Riley

    As a Yorkie, I really hope Lancashire survive in Division 1.

    Each season is tastier with Roses matches.

  36. And there was me thinking that it was just that Howard looked a bit like Count Dracula.

    I’m all for alertness in the face of neo-nazism, but I think this is all a bit overegged.

    Foot was mocked for looking like a senile old duffer, Kinnock for looking like a blustery ginger windbag. They weren’t spared because of their Aryan purity.

    I don’t think anti-semitism is much of a force in modern Britain. Cameron is part-Jewish and it’s barely remarked upon. Thatcher’s cabinet was disproportionately Jewish. The only place I see significant anti-semitism these days is from Islamists, who are hardly natural allies of the conservative press.

  37. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour ahead by four points: CON 32%, LAB 36%, LD 9%, UKIP 15%

  38. Neil A

    ” The only place I see significant anti-semitism these days is from Islamists, who are hardly natural allies of the conservative press.”

    I see your detective training is paying off.

  39. The fact they have to wibble on about how he eats a sarnie, or have to try trumped up attacks against his dad, show they don’t have that much on him.

    And playing the man not the ball is what people do when they can’t play the ball. It suggests a lack of confidence in the policy debate.

  40. Which incidentally Pressman as good as acknowledged when I asked him about the abstract vs. the visceral. He said the press would also need to put pressure on Tories to serve up some better policy fare…

  41. Footy half time dip into UKPR for latest poll update and what an interesting little selection we find. A 5% Labour lead in the weekly Populus is the largest for some time, isn’t it? I have a feeling the good Lord Ashcroft’s weekly efforts may just be adding to the gaiety of the nation. They look a little suspect to me.

    @Anthony: “As a general view, I’d say that gap there is what prevents the Conservatives doing much better.”

    In a variety of ways, I’ve been saying something very similar for some time, and getting more than a little stick for doing so, I may add! It’s the key to the state of the polls. A good proportion of the electorate just can’t countenance voting Conservative and it’s been that way for 20 years or more. The September 2011 IPPR commissioned YouGov is where the clues can be found. In many ways, the findings were devastating for the Conservatives. It basically said that the Cameron modernisation project had failed.

  42. jcb336

    Hmm. UKIP equal their highest YG over the last 20 days, while LDs have their 2nd highest since the end of May. :-(

    It’s looking like the slow decline of UKIP since the Euros may have halted/been reversed and the LibDems might be recovering a touch from their lows (between the Euro election and last Sunday).

  43. Carfrew
    “The fact they have to wibble on about how he eats a sarnie, or have to try trumped up attacks against his dad, show they don’t have that much on him.”

    Isn’t this just what the press does though? There was his brother and the banana; Blair, Brown and the ice creams; Cameron or Osborne in a pasty shop; Mandelson trying to order guacamole in a chippie; Hague’s baseball cap (not that he ate it); Farage with a pint in his hand etc etc. They just seize on some preferably embarrassing image and it becomes a meme. A lot of these happen when a politician of whatever party tries to do something that his advisors think normal people do. Farage seems to be the only one who can pull it off.

  44. @Pete B,

    Yes, but it’s not a problem when it happens to right-wing politicians. Because they deserve it, for being nasty and all that.

  45. I do think there’s an anti ‘foreign’ element in a lot of the political debate at the moment: Cameron on a ‘Christian country’ (immediately after Miliband had been on TV talking about his Jewish heritage); all the stuff on ‘British values’ and, obviously, some of the rhetoric associated with UKIP. I really don’t know how much anti-semitism there is because I’m not Jewish. I can honestly say that as I go about my daily life I never encounter any racism at all – unless of course I go out with my partner.

  46. Ashcroft’s polls seem to be consistently showing high UKIP scores – which is resulting in the low Conservative score. Is there any obvious reason why UKIP are so high in Ashcroft’s polling?

  47. ” Hague’s baseball cap (not that he ate it)”

    I think he did actually. It certainly disappeared quite suddenly.

  48. i find it strange that ukip, many of whom are undoubtedly former right wing tory voters, are on 15%, and the tories still on 32% or thereabouts…it suggests to me that the 42% the tories used to get in the 1980s and in 1992 is largely spread between these two parties.

    i think the right is split…the crowd who wouldn’t “countenance voting tory” hasn’t increased that much in 40 years, i would contend, it’s just that this left bloc, for want of a better phrase, is more coherent around labour than the right bloc.

  49. @Pete B

    Most of the examples you gave have a political dimension. The ice creams were trying to hide the discord, pasties and the pasty tax, guacamole is emblematic of the Islington/Notting Hill thing, baseball cap was a doomed attempt to appear with it, the pint is the banker trying to be man of the people.

    Later of course they could duspense with ice creams and get Blair on Iraq, get them all more and more on policy, e.g. Omnishambles…

  50. Neil A

    It’s getting to the stage where no white British person will be able to criticise anyone who isn’t for any reason at all without being accused of being racist or anti-semitic or something.

    Going back to an earlier discussion about regulating the press. Hasn’t anyone noticed that circulations are dropping like a stone? If they are only allowed to publish stuff that some Quango approves of, they will become so bland that even fewer people will read them. The internet is the place where more and more people are reading opinions and news. Good luck with regulating that!

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