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. @Chris Green
    Because I would intuitively expect women to be more, not less, supportive of other women who have been assaulted.

    In the same way that I would expect a jury including members of ethnic minorities to be more receptive to the prosecution in a racially-aggravated case.

    Clearly I am being naïve in this view.

  2. @Amber Star, @BigFatRon – But to me it would only seem surprising if one believed the conspiracy theory that women’s problems are the result of oppression by a patriarchy of men. There’s no evidence for that conspiracy theory, and if one tries to act based on evidence, then this fact would simply confirm the evidence-based view, and not seem surprising or bizarre at all.

  3. Colin

    Very pleased to hear about your grandson and i wish him well. Great to see that he had an inspirational teacher. They can make so much difference to a child not least in embuing that child with a life long love of a particular subject or subjects.

  4. TOH

    Thank you.

    I think that concentrating on the nature of the “school” deflects from the absolutely key issue-the quality of the teaching.

    In our case, the school in which the A Level study took place is in Special Measures !

  5. Re Unis, I went to a school in Gibraltar where, in the summer, lessons went on right until 1-30 in the AFTERNOON before you were allowed to bugger off to the beach.

    Man, them days was tuff.

  6. @ Carfrew

    1. “Oxbridge are preferentially selecting candidates who at the least have done rather better than the norm in “A” levels etc.” Self-evidently TRUE, tho the “at the least” & “preferentially” are redundant & the “etc” is meaningless.

    2. “Which in turn allows them to start the degree syllabus a bit further along and maintain a higher pace throughout.” Maybe, tho you have slipped from something which can evidenced to assertions.

    3. “Even if you are determined to believe that Oxford would not raise the standard to suit their intake, consider that they have to differentiate when it comes to exams so have to set harder questions to suit the more able, or mark more stringently.”
    Now anyone who disagrees with you is “determined” to be wrong; followed by a plethora of assumptions: why do they have to differentiate; how do you set “harder” questions in law, medicine, or indeed history? & do tell us how academics in Ox/Cam set about marking exams more “stringently” than those in Leeds/Mancs.

  7. @Chris Green
    I think the terms ‘conspiracy’ and ‘oppression’ here are unhelpful, as are the attitudes of the ultra-feminists, as they create a straw-man which is easy to attack by those who are keen to deny the very real problem that exists.

    Almost all sexual assaults are carried out by men, on women – if this was a discussion about race with those facts then there would be no debate at all about who was responsible for originating the problem.

    Women are conditioned to feel responsible and guilty for being attacked – this is a long-term, deep-seated societal problem, not something new (it’s only fifty years since a raped girl was considered disgraced and unmarriageable). Victims I have spoken to almost invariably feel both ashamed and guilty for being victims, which makes holding the perpetrator to account all the more difficult.

    It’s stupid to describe these facts as a male conspiracy, because that implies conscious decision making by men, however they remain true, and they result from very deep-seated and pervasive prejudices throughout society.

    Connecting two parts of this thread, it is a sad fact that – if you have a teenage daughter – they are roughly ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted than to get into Oxbridge.

  8. @Chris Green: “This is one of the points that people have been trying to make to you…”

    I’m afraid that being patronising doesn’t help advance your rather weak argument.

  9. @ Chris Green

    But to me it would only seem surprising if one believed the conspiracy theory that women’s problems are the result of oppression by a patriarchy of men.
    —————-
    What a very strange thing to say.

    It is much more likely that the actual reason is because women are taught, from an early age, that dressing & behaving ‘correctly’ and avoiding bad company & bad situations will keep them safe from harm. This is a message which is dinned into women from a very early age; it would be easier to unlearn one’s multiplication tables than set aside these ‘safety’ rules which are dinned into girls from an incredibly young age.

    As I said, women are beginning to pushback against this cult of women being held responsible for their own safety when the responsibility should lie with society to prevent these assaults or punish the attackers.

  10. @JIMR: “one of those 5 schools is state funded…”

    That’s makes it OK?

  11. @RobbieAlive – “how do you set “harder” questions in law, medicine, or indeed history”

    By requiring wider and deeper knowledge. Even at a basic level we can show that this is possible, for example in history: “What year was the Battle of Hastings?” is easier than “What led to the success of the Norman Conquest of England?”; or in medicine: “What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?” is easier than “Describe the suggested mechanisms by which autoimmune diseases might affect the body, stating which you think is most plausible and why.”

    “& do tell us how academics in Ox/Cam set about marking exams more “stringently” than those in Leeds/Mancs”

    You seem to think that this isn’t even possible in theory. There’s one very straightforward way, which is that marking at degree level is done to an extent on a relativistic level: a certain proportion of students are more-or-less tacitly guaranteed to get a particular grade. So, assuming that Oxbridge have successfully selected more capable students, someone at the 25th percentile will be more capable than their equivalent at Leeds, but about as likely to get a particular grade.
    The other main way that this can be done, in marking schemes that are against a standard, is to make the standard easier. So in our earlier basic example (way below anything at degree level at any British university!), one university might give marks for knowing what year the Battle of Hastings took place, whereas another university might consider that to be so basic that a mention of it would not itself provide any extra marks.

  12. @RogerH – It’s not my fault what you find patronising: I am not accountable for the thoughts of persecution that go through your head. But that you find bluntly-stated disagreement with you to be “patronising” goes a long way towards explaining why you would dislike the idea of intellectual centres of excellence.

  13. @Amber Star – But who teaches girls those rules? If it is other women who teach them those rules, then BigFatRon’s finding is neither surprising nor bizarre, is it?

  14. @BigFatRon – “Women are conditioned to feel responsible and guilty for being attacked”

    But who conditions girls to feel that way? If it is other women who teach them those rules, then your finding is neither surprising nor bizarre, is it?

  15. @ BigFatRon,

    While the vast majority of sexual assaults are carried out by men it is factually correct to say that men – as a category – are statistically less likely to impute blame for sexual assaults on the victim than women are.

    I find this bizarre, but it is true and well known amongst those who work in the field.

    The psychology is fairly straightforward. If rape is the victim’s fault, then by doing “the right things” the jurors can prevent it from ever happening to them. If rape is the fault of rapists, then anyone can encounter a rapist and be raped. For their own sense of security, women have a vested interest in blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator. Men don’t live under that constant threat, so they can make their judgement more freely in such cases.

  16. I suspect Anthony will be along shortly with his snippers.

    Very tetchy in here this last 24 hours – sun getting to everyone ?

  17. @CHRIS GREEN

    Did they not teach you the meaning of patronising at university?

  18. @Bramley – Or being able to see the sun outside, but not being able to get to it!

    How is the weather where everyone else is?

  19. @RogerH – So what’s the weather like where you are?

  20. “Women are conditioned to feel responsible and guilty for being attacked – this is a long-term, deep-seated societal problem, not something new (it’s only fifty years since a raped girl was considered disgraced and unmarriageable).”

    There are many countries and regions where things are far, FAR worse than that right now.

    The idea that men – who casually use rape as a weapon of war – are not directly responsible is utterly ludicrous and reprehensible.

  21. Interesting comparison of student intake from poor backgrounds (based on free school meal and, for US, Pell grants):

    http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/dec/22/oxbridgeandelitism-oxforduniversity

    Harvard manages 15% intake from a low income background against 0.8% for Oxford and Cambridge.

  22. @RosieAndDaisie – I don’t think from the above that anyone denied that men who rape – and it is invariably men – are the ones who are solely responsible for that act. Speaking for myself, I was discussing the rates at which men and women are willing to convict accused rapists, and suggesting that the difference in those rates was not “bizarre”, as was claimed, but in fact entirely predictable, because there is not a systematic oppression of the mass of women by the mass of men, despite what is often claimed.

  23. @Chris Green
    I suspect it is both men and women that ‘teach’ the ‘rules’ to girls, both through a positive desire to keep them safe and a negative desire – amongst some men – to retain the ability to dominate and intimidate.

    However I am still baffled by the fact that – in general – women are MORE likely to hold the victims responsible for the actions of their attackers than men are. Surely there should be some element of ‘There but for the grace of god go I…’?

  24. @BigFatRon – Does the fact that you state go any way towards persuading you that it is not both men and women who “teach the rules” to girls, but is instead primarily women who do so?

  25. My last post went into Anthony’s cyber-cooler and while I thought it was within the spirit and intent of the comments policy, it probably fell foul of the current embargo on all things News Corp.

    However, the general point I was making was intended to shed some light on why, despite a multiplicity of potential game-changing political events coming and going, the polls remain largely unmoved and unaffected, albeit stuck in a configuration that would have been thought highly unusual only two years ago.

    I couched my argument in the context of a deep disillusionment with the two main political parties that I think is abroad in this country. Here was/is the gist of it: –

    Mr Farage will be smiling most as he surveys the polls. Labour and Tories locked in relegation battle (36 v 33 territory), and the electorate ever more receptive to the “they’re all the same” UKIP mantra. That’s what politics is like, and has been for years; two old Leviathans yah-booing each other in an echo chamber, blithely unaware that the audience is filing out of the theatre.

    There’s an old fable, although it may be factually true; I’m no zoologist. It’s called the barrow-load of crabs. If we take British party politics to be the barrel, imagine that the crabs inside are evenly split between red and blue. All of the crabs are desperately trying to escape but none ever do because as soon as one gets near the rim of the open topped barrel, another pulls it down to rejoin the rest. This endless cycle is repeated until all the crabs die.

    Think party politics now. “I know we’re bloody hopeless but you lot were even more hopeless than us.” The electorate agree. 33 plays 30 is the evidence. Mr Farage smiles.

    Which crab can escape in May 2015?

  26. @RogerH – Those figures are not comparable. 41% of US students receive a Pell Grant. 14% of UK students receive free school meals.

    Also, Harvard’s extreme wealth allows it to give extraordinary bursaries. Poorer Oxbridge cannot match that. Your argument really supports diverting money away from bottom rung universities to fund generous bursaries at Oxbridge and other top universities.

  27. @Spearmint
    I suspect you are right.

  28. @ Chris Green
    “& do tell us how academics in Ox/Cam set about marking exams more “stringently” than those in Leeds/Mancs” “You seem to think that this isn’t even possible in theory.”

    I know it’s possible! I wanted some evidence. Again, “a certain proportion of students are more-or-less tacitly guaranteed to get a particular grade.” Leaving aside the imponderable of how “one tacitly agrees a classification system”, is this how it works it works? maybe they just award more 2:1s & 1:1s. Evidence?
    Besides, any standardization would be achieved by the classification scheme not by the marking of individual answers.

    On difficulty of questions. I suspect that questions, eg., about the Norman Conquest, would be much of a muchness across universities, as the question setters have been trained in a similar way & read the same tomes, but now I’m falling into the assertion trap.

  29. @ Chris Green
    “Does the fact that you state go any way towards persuading you that it is not both men and women who “teach the rules” to girls, but is instead primarily women who do so?”
    No, because the rules are ‘taught’ and the lesson is ‘learned’ in so many different ways. Spearmint’s perceptive comment illustrates just one of the complicating factors.

  30. @Chris Green: “Those figures are not comparable. 41% of US students receive a Pell Grant. 14% of UK students receive free school meals.”

    Isn’t that the point, though? Or are you suggesting that 41% of Oxbridge students would meet the requirements for a Pell grant?

  31. Bit short on polls at the moment aren’t we?

  32. Actually ignore that last comment.

    Even if 2.9 times as many US students are assessed as low income it wouldn’t explain why Harvard’s intake from that income group is 18.75 times that of Oxbridge.

  33. @RobbieAlive – “Leaving aside the imponderable of how “one tacitly agrees a classification system”, is this how it works it works? maybe they just award more 2:1s & 1:1s. Evidence?”

    Students at Oxbridge get only a slightly higher proportion of First-class degrees than students at, for example, the University of West London, despite the former having vastly higher entry requirements. Either Oxbridge is somehow managing to intellectually cripple its objectively talented intake, or they have a different set of marking criteria. Indeed, no matter what the university or what the selection criteria were for admissions – even the applicants who barely scraped into Oxbridge would have been accepted instantly by most of the UK’s other 130-odd institutions – universities all give Firsts in the range of 10-25%, with most clustered towards the middle of that range.

    So, I don’t think you can claim that the marking standards are exactly the same at all UK universities without also claiming that no qualifications earned before degree level have any correlation at all with underyling ability or subsequent ability at degree, which would be a ridiculous claim to try to make.

  34. @ Chris Green – But who teaches girls those rules? If it is other women who teach them those rules, then BigFatRon’s finding is neither surprising nor bizarre, is it?
    ————-
    I think BFR meant: he finds it bizarre that women have been led by society (mostly male but also female society) into perpetuating violence against women whilst believing that they are preventing it.

    As I said, women are making progress towards ending this peculiar ‘cult’. At times I share BFR’s view, i.e. it is indeed bizarre that women have not entirely embraced the simple message: It is the perpetrator who is to blame, not the victim. But, perhaps because I’m a woman, I have a little more insight than BFR into how insidious & pervasive are those early lessons (promoted, as I said by men as much as, or perhaps even more than, women).

    I look forward to a time when it does indeed seem bizarre that anybody would blame the victim of such an assault.

  35. @RogerH – “Even if 2.9 times as many US students are assessed as low income it wouldn’t explain why Harvard’s intake from that income group is 18.75 times that of Oxbridge.”

    a) You are assuming that Harvard’s intake from the economic bottom seventh is proportional to its intake from the economic penultimate two-sevenths. Harvard probably doesn’t have as many as 5% of students from the economic bottom seventh, which is the comparator to Oxford’s <1%.

    b) But Harvard probably really does have a higher proportion of economically bottom-seventh students than Oxford can manage, because Harvard has vastly more money than Oxford does, and can give extremely generous bursaries to students who wouldn't be able to attend university at all otherwise. This suggests that we should give Oxbridge a lot more money.

    c) Harvard is also a private institution, and has a lot more leeway in positive affirmative action discrimination than does Oxford, who have to stick broadly to the nationally-defined rules of UCAS. UCAS's rules are good things in general though.

  36. @ Chris Green – But who teaches girls those rules? If it is other women who teach them those rules, then BigFatRon’s finding is neither surprising nor bizarre, is it?
    ————-
    I think BFR meant: he finds it bizarre that women have been led by society (mostly male but also female society) into perpetuating violence against women whilst believing that they are preventing it.

    As I said, women are making progress towards ending this strange ‘cult’. At times I share BFR’s view, i.e. it is indeed bizarre that women have not entirely embraced the simple message: It is the perpetrator who is to blame, not the victim. But, perhaps because I’m a woman, I have a little more insight than BFR into how insidious & pervasive are those early lessons (promoted, as I said by men as much as, or perhaps even more than, women).

    I look forward to a time when it does indeed seem bizarre that anybody would blame the victim of such an assault.

  37. @ Chris Green

    “Students at Oxbridge get only a slightly higher proportion of First-class degrees than students at, for example, the University of West London”.

    Always good to have some evidence [& I will overlook your split infinitive.] However, HESA’s data contradict yours. The 2012/13 figures:

    “The percentage of [Uni] graduates [getting a first] rose to 15.5% from just 9% a decade ago. In contrast, the percentage of students achieving firsts at Oxford has remained relatively steady. 22% of students graduated with a first in 2000/2001, while 29% achieved the qualification last year.”

    So Oxford has consistently issued 2x as many 1:1s as the average.

  38. Okay, maybe I’m holding an archaic view here, but surely the primary concern of a jury in a sexual assault case is the same as any case: was the law broken? And in the case of most sex crimes, the question usually comes down to whether or not the sexual activity was consensual.

    It’s a horrible area of the law, and there are sadly a lot of rape cases where the accused must be acquitted because of lack of proof it wasn’t consensual, rather than proof it was. But that isn’t blaming the victim – that is respect for the principle that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    Yes, there will always be jurors of both sexes who will come to a verdict one way or the other for the wrong reasons (either thinking the victim was asking to be raped, or he must be convicted to show rape is wrong irrespective of guilt), but lack of evidence will always be a barrier ton conviction unless you wish to remove to age-old safeguard of burden of proof falling on the prosecution. And that, to me, is far too high a price to pay.

  39. @Chris Green

    “Students at Oxbridge get only a slightly higher proportion of First-class degrees than students at, for example, the University of West London”

    This statement is incorrect. Only Imperial and, for some reason, Surrey, of all the non-specialist institutions in the UK, awarded more Firsts as a proportion of the cohort than Oxford last year (and you would struggle to convince a lot of people that Oxford science graduates are better than Imperial’s). For the record, the Royal College of Art, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Guildhall also awarded a higher proportion of Firsts – as world-class specialist institutions, it does not surprise me that they get exceptional students.

    And Oxford and Cambridge both award far more Firsts as a proportion of their graduate cohort than any institution outside the Russell Group.

    Last year, 28.9% of Oxford graduates got Firsts. 13.9% of UWL graduates got Firsts.

    I have been observing this argument with interest, but don’t force me to bring more data into it as nobody wants that.

  40. I believe Harvard tuition is now free for all undergraduates.

  41. @Chris Green

    It is not actually ridiculous but logically follows.

    If some students are given a better education through fee paying schools and other means, their results will be better at A-level. Oxford admits more of these students. However, now the students have to compete on equal terms with the less advantaged students. The less advantaged students will soon catch up.
    This and explains why Oxford % of first is roughly the same as other Universities.

  42. This is so borinjg can we have a Scotish pole, anything is better than this

  43. “This is so borinjg can we have a Scotish pole”

    Here’s where I’d start looking-

    http://polishscottishheritage.co.uk/

  44. Newspaper influence on VI is an interesting point (a few pages back).

    Using the ABC circulation figures, I did a quick adding up of the circulation for the Tory supporting press (Mail, Express, Telegraph, Sun, Times).

    1997 – 9,413,393
    2005 – 8,347,940 (11% fall on 1997)
    2014 – 5,178,180 (40% fall on 2005)

    What is particularly noteworthy is that the decline appears to be accelerating rapidly, with the lions share of the fall in circulation occuring since 2010. A fair prediction of Tory-supporting newspaper circulation in May 2015 at current tragectories would be perhaps 4.7m.

    When you cross-reference this with VI polls aligned to newspaper readership, what is striking is how little influence the newspapers can now wield.

    VI aligned to newspaper readership over time is relatively fixed, and seems to move independently of editorial lines (that is, Tory or Labour support rises or falls at roughly the same levels in any newspaper, irrespective of who they tell their readers to vote for, reflecting wider national mood perhaps).

    I’ve always thought that the newspapers influence over VI is greatly over-stated. But now I’m completely convinced – no matter how vitriolic they become in the run-up to 2015, they are mainly shouting among themselves and Labour can afford to largely ignore them.

  45. RogerReb
    “This is so borinjg can we have a Scotish pole, anything is better than this.”

    Is “Scotish Pole” a Highland sport like tossing the Caber?

    I agree it’s v. boring. [I had an hilarious post on yesterday’s big news which you would have loved. But it seems to have disappeared.]

  46. @ Drmibbles,

    They still set the agenda for the broadcast media, though, and people do watch that.

  47. @Chris Neville Smith
    Agreed, there has to be a presumption of innocence, where consent could be a factor, but the question is often not just about consent.

    A common defence tactic is to imply that consent could be assumed by the accused because the complainant was acting in a way that was provocative. However, we don’t assume that a drunk banker waving his wallet around on Walworth High Street should be assumed to have given his money away when he complains.

    Another common tactic is to contrast a confident, ‘suited and booted’ defendant with a defendant who is often distressed, poorly educated and easily intimidated.

    Professionals can judge quite closely how many accused are extremely likely to be guilty, based on when multiple victims make independent accusations that show a similar operating method – the best professional estimates are that around 95% of accusations are founded in reality, but less than 5% result in a conviction. That is a huge problem for effective justice.

    However, when the complainant is a child consent is irrelevant, so the case rests on the actuality of the assault. When the allegation is related to a point some time in the past and particularly when the complainant was a child at the time, the legal prejudices against delayed complaints and against child evidence play into the hands of child molesters.

    I accept that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is a foundation stone of justice but, equally, allowing one class of crime to take place almost with impunity is highly damaging to the concept of justice.

    I can’t help feeling that if this was about theft or mugging then something would have been done years ago…

  48. Re Unis, when I was at Sunday school in Kingstamerten Road in Plymouth that was REALLY tough.

    You had to study on an ACTUAL Sunday [!!!] and sometimes my brother and I were so exhausted that we would fall asleep instead of colouring in pictures of Roman soldiers and stuff.

    We think that is why we didn’t graduate.

  49. @Couper2802 – Your argument relies on the assumption that all – or even a majority – of the variance in grades is explained by state / private school status, rather than by underyling ability. Yes, a small part of the variance is explained by that, but not much.

  50. @DrMibbles

    I tend to agree with you on the waning influence of the printed press and people who select a newspaper on the basis of its political stance are usually doing so in order to have their political prejudices pandered to, not to be persuaded. Most people, however, buy newspapers for different, apolitical reasons and are blithely oblivious to its political posturings. They may like the paper for its sports coverage, business sections, puzzles pages, female sections, TV guides, health features, holiday guides, colour supplements etc. As you say, this idea that newspapers “turn” readers politically is dubious, although I take Spearmint’s point about their tendency to set the daily news agendas of the broadcasting media. However that influence tends to be more politically balanced with the Guardian and Independent as likely to set the agenda as the Mail or Telegraph. The Guardian’s campaign on phone-hacking is an example of a newspaper setting the news agenda. The Telegraph’s on MPs expenses was another.

    This is where I think poor old Pressman may be sadly deluding himself when he believes that NI are going to “get Miliband beat” (sic) in May 2015.

    Looking at these recent polls, the only thing that’s going to get Miliband beat is Miliband himself!

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