This morning’s Populus poll had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. The five point Labour lead is up from Friday’s poll which had the two parties equal on 35%… but both polls are inline with the average lead of 3 points or so which Populus have been showing lately.

I’ve seen it suggested lately that there’s a pattern of Populus producing better figures for Labour in their Monday polls, better figures for the Conservatives in Friday polls. Such a pattern is possible in theory – one can imagine that you might get slightly different respondents from weekend fieldwork than weekday fieldwork – and on the face of it looks like there could have been a bit of a pattern last month. Crunching the data properly though any difference appears to be minimal – the average figures this year for Populus’s Friday polls are CON 33.4%, LAB 36.5%; for Monday polls they are CON 33.1%, LAB 36.9%. Populus’s Monday polls give a Labour lead that’s 0.7% bigger than Friday polls, less than a percentage point.

Meanwhile Lord Ashcroft’s poll shows another big change in Tory support from last week. Toplines are CON 27%(-5), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 17%(+3), GRN 7%(+1). I wrote about the volatility in Lord Ashcroft’s polling a couple of weeks ago here: essentially, there’s no methodological reason for it, nor are the figures actually particularly volatile given the standard levels of variation you’d expect to find. As ever, it’s the underlying trend that counts rather than the individual bits of data that make it up.

138 Responses to “Latest Populus and Ashcroft polls”

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  1. floating voter

    Spending isn’t going down at all… we’ll end up with a debt/GDP ratio of 100%+ in about five years…

    or, as Liam Halligan says, we’ll be like Greece, Portugal and Italy without the weather.

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  2. @Hookeslaw

    It’s very clear and on record from reports during that time that Brown led and others followed on the steps needed to prevent a domino-collapse of the banking system. I will not comment on why you might have been led to believe otherwise.

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  3. @RMJ1 – “HOOKSLAW May be right.”

    There’s no doubt about it – he is right. This is what the Inland revenue have told us. The question is what he is right about.

    He only commented, quite correctly, that there has been cross year movement of tax payments from rich people, as Mr Osborne was kind enough to give them advanced noticed of tax changes, and these people can structure their earnings to suit.

    It was me that made the connection to the tax take from altered rates – not Hookeslaw. He is, or course, correct in that these two factors aren’t necessarily incompatible, but there have been statements made by the government and others in support of the 50p rate reduction that fail to account for this behaviour in the past, and I expect there will be more in the future.

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  4. But why Peter, surely social security payments decrease in a boom, – I understand the UK is an ageing society and pension payments increase, but payments for economic hardship should decrease

    And tax receipts should be rising exponentially in a boom, with people getting more money in their pockets, businesses making bigger profits – taxes should be pouring in – it seems it is only the stamp duties that are rising a lot and VAT somewhat – it doesn’t seem to be enough

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  5. Today we’ve seen the CBI manufacturing survey show a significant weakening of new orders growth – down from +11 to +2, so barely above negative, plus a substantial deterioration in export orders – slumping to -16.

    The sector still reports growth overall, but there appears to be a distinct slow down and the CBI suggest that the manufacturing recovery ‘may be running out of steam’.

    Only a survey, but it tends to confirm last months poor manufacturing production figures from the ONS, which many said looked odd. Another snippet which backs up the general picture of slippage, alongside some disappointing deficit figures.

    It’s going to be a fascinating run in to the GE.

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  6. Phil Haines (8:55)

    That data from the Ashcroft Lab-L/D marginals is interesting, though by definition unrepresentative (only four seats – one of them a Green target), given that these are seats where there is little danger of ‘letting the Tories in’. The surprise is how many are opposed to Labour rather than the other Parties, and how much this will apply in the Lab-Con marginals where it really matters.

    Luckily Lord A has come riding to the rescue in the nick of time with the figures from his latest poll from 402 Green voters who would not vote for:

    Lib Dem 64% (64%)

    UKIP 82% (84%)

    Con 76% (77%)

    Lab 49% (49%)

    your figures in brackets are spookily close, so the type of seat may not matter much. Though people are notoriously bad at predicting their future behaviour and targeted campaigning might have an effect. As with the Lab-L/D marginals most defectors[1] are ex-Lib Dems.

    But it indicates the need for Labour to attract many of this, perhaps rather sceptical, group over to them if they are win in the marginals.

    [1] As in my previous comment I’m using ‘defector’ to cover those who voted Con, Lab or L/D in 2010, about 45% of the sample here and 51% in the Lab-L/D marginals. The remainder will have voted Green (or possibly a smaller Party) or not voted or been too young to.

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  7. @Peter Crawford

    Liam Halligan can say whatever he likes but the UKs economy will never be like Greece, Portugal or Italy unless it becomes part of the eurozone and starts using the euro. As a sovereign issuer of our own currency, the UK is not at the mercy of the Bond markets, and can never run out of money or be unable to pay its debts.

    It is not just me saying it, Mervyn King and Mr Carney at the BoE have both said the same.

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  8. The tories/lib dem haven’t cut spending in real spending…they’ve simply slowed the rate at which spending increases…at some point, the whole apple cart will hit the buffers…politicians on both sides know the NHS is not affordable on the current basis, but are terrified of dealing with this issue.

    The whole Brownite apparatus of tax credits and other welfare goodies is proving very difficult to unwind and has locked in big spending increases… Health is ring-fenced…the budget continues to increase….most of the boom is in asset values- hence stamp duty going up from house sales- and consumption spending- hence VAT receipts increasing for the exchequer…not clear to me whether a) wages are going up or b) corporate profits are going up….if wages aren’t increasing that much and consumer spending is, one can only conclude that personal debt is also rising.

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    @”the UK is not at the mercy of the Bond markets, and can never run out of money or be unable to pay its debts.
    It is not just me saying it, Mervyn King and Mr Carney at the BoE have both said the same.”

    Could you supply references and/or quotes please Sue .

    I would be very surprised if either Governor ever made remarks like that-because Fiscal Policy is not their responsibility.
    They deal with Monetary policy.

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    @”why aren’t those ax receipts pouring in ”

    Tax receipts vs PY ( excl APF dividends):-

    April to June -+ 1.6%
    June + 4.8%

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  11. @TOH

    The NHS is the cheapest way of delivering healthcare to a national population. Other systems cost more so isn’t it rather odd to suggest that the solution to (allegedly) rising health costs is to move to a system with higher administration and treatment costs together with poorer outcomes?

    (And I say allegedly because I don’t believe that rising health costs are inevitable. Technology and new discoveries can also lead to cheaper and more reliable treatments.)

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  12. ROGERH

    As I understand it the NHS already has a 30bn black hole. Hence my comment that it cannot go on being free at the point of use. I understand that Labour are looking at raising NI to cover the gap, best of luck that will be popular with the voters.

    “Technology and new discoveries can also lead to cheaper and more reliable treatments” Of course that can be true but the evidence so far suggests that overall costs are rising very rapidly due to the ageing population the rise in obesity and the costs of advanced treatment.

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    How much i agree with your last post, encapsulates my main critic of the present government. Glad you share my view of the NHS, and of course you are correct, none of the parties will have the b…s to deal with it so we all wait for the inevitable collapse, which i think will be within the next decade.

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  14. TOH

    from reading your posts over the last year or so, I think we’re pretty much on the same page politically, unlike most of our fellow contributors on this site.

    Our main point of difference has been over the outcome of the next election. I am gloomy in so far as i see a weak centre-left government as the most likely outcome post 2015. You see the outcome of that election differently, i imagine.

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  15. Good Afternoon All

    As far as the NHS is concerned, I think that people have suggested it would collapse for decades. It has not.

    I agree; TOH, that it will be a risky idea to raise NI, politically.

    An all-party conference on NHS and Social Security and Care for the Elderly should happen, I think, to build a consensus, across party lines

    West Germany had this consensus on the public/private debate on the economy.

    in terms of the 2015 GE I think NHS debate is bound to aid Labour.

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  16. I was trying to research an answer for Floating voter and hoping Colin and Alec would beat me to it as I don’t really have a good one! It feels like you would need a very big spreadsheet to get meaningful figures.

    It seems like spending has been tickling up on the core elements of government spending- Pensions, NHS, schools and generally tickling up anyway on all spending- presumably inflationary pressures.

    10%-15% of tax receipts could be on a time lag with Corporation Tax and self assessment. I suspect this is not that significant though.

    Globilisation has almost certainly hit tax intakes.

    Fundamentally I would say taxation has not kept pace with inflation. Government has inflationary pressures (like we all have) and has to pay more for things but doesn’t take in a similar amount in Income Tax just by standing still. Income Tax and NIC accounts for 50% of taxes raised so no pay rises then no increase in revenues. I’d need to know what proportion of government expenditure is on salaries though because that element at least has not been so inflationary.

    In summary- too many factors to get a clear idea so I don’t have a clue!

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  17. cl1945

    “in terms of the 2015 GE I think NHS debate is bound to aid Labour.”

    Is that the one you see the Tories winning and being a dead heat?

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  18. PETER CRAWFORD – ‘we’ll end up with debt to GDP in about 5 years’

    If we used the same statistical methods the Euro nations do then we are almost at 100% debt to GDP now. I believe the UK is committed to adopting them at some point in the future.

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  19. FLOATING VOTER – work related tax receipts are not rising as much employment created is self employed, part time, zero hours or low paid full time. Many people are then receiving tax credits to top them up. Tax credits pay out far more than jobseekers to parents.

    So employment up is increasing welfare spending through in work benefits. Notice how reluctant the gov is to release tax credit claimant numbers and the cost.

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  20. ChrisLane1945

    Yes, I agree re the NHS. Though how much it will help Lab is a moot point I feel.

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  21. @Colin – the press release seems to focus on the quarterly news, which indeed looks generally good. The comments I made were on the latest (single month) figures in the survey, which look decidedly less good, in two specific areas. I didn’t specify this, and should have done.

    Both points are entirely compatible. The key question is whether the significant weakening in new orders and the slump in exports for the latest month is just month to month volatility or whether it presages the start of a slow down.

    I also make an error by implying the CBI had suggested the recovery could be ‘running out of steam’ – this looks to be Reuters who said this, but I mistook it as being attributed to the CBI (although it could have been said at the press conference – I don’t know).

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  22. Like Shevii I think it’s a pity that Ashcroft is still only polling the ultra-marginals. partly this is because they are not where the election will be won, but also because this batch are very skewed towards UKIP-friendly seats.

    Now part of this is because UKIP’s best chances are in such seats, which are easiest for them to win with a low percentage, as they do here in Thanet South[1] (33%) and Thurrock (36%). But it also happens to be a set of seats where the UKIP get 21% (23% before the specific constituency question[2]), higher than the 15% his weekly polls averaged over this period.

    This latest Ashcroft poll also pours cold water on those relying on certain magic spells to bring voters back to the Conservatives. The poll does find a very slight increase since the Spring in those who think the economy[3] will do well. However the biggest increase is among those voting Labour; while the UKIP voters, who are supposed to lured back, are not just the most pessimistic overall but becoming more so. Better times may actually turn people towards Labour.

    As for Scary Ed, preferring Cameron may be widespread, but it doesn’t seem to help much with UKIP. Only 17% are satisfied with him – but so are 16% of Labour voters. And 25% of UKIP actually prefer Ed to Dave – so squeezing them may get people moving in the ‘wrong’ direction.

    [1] The Thanet South poll was only taken recently, so the ex-UKIP Tory candidate doesn’t seem to have dented their vote there.

    [2] Incidentally I think that Ashcroft is wrong in just using the general Thinking specifically about your own constituency and the candidates who are likely to stand there, which party’s candidate do you think you will vote for in your own constituency at the next general election? rather than naming likely candidates. I can see the technical difficulties and it probably doesn’t make much difference in these seats, though it would be interesting to see the effect in for example North Warks, but it will in the Lib Dem ones where people may vote more for the person that the Party.

    [3] Ashcroft asks about “Britain’s economy – including things like jobs, wages, prices, taxes and interest rates” which is quite useful phrasing, I think.

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  23. Ed,

    That’s all very true, but perhaps it’s also just worth acknowledging in there somewhere that large numbers of people moving from very low welfare incomes to a higher level of income from combined low pay and tax credits counts as a “net good” for the country even if it means that the welfare bill doesn’t fall as much as hoped.

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  24. @ Roger Mexico

    And 25% of UKIP actually prefer Ed to Dave – so squeezing them may get people moving in the ‘wrong’ direction.
    I noticed this but didn’t want to make too much of it. I’m thinking that the 25% could mainly be the LD -> UKIP switchers, given LD -> Labour switchers seem to like Ed.

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  25. @ Colin

    Reading that CBI survey, it does look as if Alex has, shall we say, left out some of the details in his summary., Oh wait 2 different surveys, something for everyone then.

    Re, the deficit: i was responding to Hookeslaw, who said that the reason for the poor figures was due to over-inflated tax receipts last year – maybe it was NI, Income Tax and Corporation Tax that are poor this year so far

    And as Shevi says, runaway spending in various departments – I wonder if increases in Tax Credits and other housing and income support measures has also been a factor

    ‘In summary- too many factors to get a clear idea so I don’t have a clue!

    i think the British Establishment quite like general public to feel like that, helps them to do what they want without being bothered, IMO

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  26. I should have made clear in my previous post that this time Ashcroft only polled the twelve Conservative-held ultra-marginals, (but not the twelve Labour-held ones) plus the same two extra UKIP-friendly seats (Thanet South and Great Yarmouth) as before. These two are 115 and 74 on Labour’s target list, so Labour not gaining them in this poll isn’t as shocking as it might appear.

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  27. Roger –

    I think North Warks highlights the troubles it would face at this time. It’s not a fair question to ask would you vote for

    John Bloggs the Labour candidate
    Some Conservative candidate they haven’t picked yet
    Jane Smith the Lib Dem candidate
    Bob Jones the UKIP candidate

    Just doesn’t really work until all the candidates are in place.

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  28. “An all-party conference on NHS and Social Security and Care for the Elderly should happen, I think, to build a consensus, across party lines”

    Hmmm……We had that before 2010, but the Tories walked out on it.

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  29. NEIL A – that is true and one of the reasons for the very generous tax credits for parents was to meet poverty targets. People aren’t stupid though and work the minimum amount to qualify (16 hours a week), and companies pay the minimal to staff knowing the wages are topped up. This level is often below the tax threshold so the claimant is contributing as much as an unemployed person but claiming more. This has never happened in any economic recovery before.

    This is great for parents – not so great for the childless who see wages depressed by employers in sectors who know they can still attract enough staff on minimum wage, who will see it topped up by rather a large amount.

    Instead of looking at JSA numbers each month journalists should look at tax credit numbers.

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  30. “, it does look as if Alex has, shall we say, left out some of the details”

    He’s a VERY naughty boy.

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  31. “Roger –


    “I think North Warks highlights the troubles it would face at this time. It’s not a fair question to ask would you vote for

    John Bloggs the Labour candidate
    Some Conservative candidate they haven’t picked yet
    Jane Smith the Lib Dem candidate
    Bob Jones the UKIP candidate”

    Three out of four doesn’t seem bad Anthony.

    Just doesn’t really work until all the candidates are in place.

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  32. If a secret government agency slipped us all a thousand quid and said

    “Spend it all asap and don’t tell anyone” – and we did.

    Would that help the economy or bugger it up further?

    If the latter how regularly could it be repeated?

    It could be better than pretending to be “self-employed”.

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    I’m getting gloomier Peter, the recent polls have made me so. Not changing my forecast yet though. Either way i will not get the government i want which is a right of center government with a libertarian approach to the economy.

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    Yes consumption tax income is up but it hardly seems positive territory. Stamp Duty up from a housing bubble (we all know how those end up) and VAT up, but also we see credit Card spending back up to levels last seen in 2008 – 6% credit card spending growth on last year according to BBA.

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  35. ROSIEANDDAISIE – Regarding given everyone a grand – it’s almost as if that’s what the PPI compensation scheme was. £15 billion given so far. It’s like a hidden stimulus plan.

    Not one person in banking was prosecuted for it, and public banks have given much of the compensation. Compensation calculated with an 8% interest rate.

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  36. ed

    when do I get mine?

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  37. Ashcroft’s polls of Conservative/Labour marginals are very interesting. However, my understanding is that the Tories are throwing heavy money also into LibDem seats they are targetting, perhaps in particular into these seats. My count is that 19 of the Tories’ top 75 targets (i.e. on Tony’s list) are held by the Lib Dems. Gaining these would considerably diminish the number of seats that the Tories would have to win from Labour to gain an overall majority.

    It would be interesting to have some polling specifically from Tory/LibDem marginals.

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