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. @Roger Mexico

    “In Ashcroft’s figures, three-quarters of the defectors to Green voted for the Lib Dems last time. They may still go back there, vote Green or abstain if Labour fails to convince them there is sufficient reason to do so.”

    The only polling of Green alternative preferences that I’m aware of is from the Ashcroft polling of Lab-LD marginals a while back. The first and only time that I’ve seen separate cross tabs of Green voters.

    In response to the question ” Are there any of the following political parties that you would definitely not vote for at the next General Election?” 248 Green voters opted against the following:
    UKIP by 84%
    Con by 77%
    LD by 64%
    Lab by 49%

    That suggests that Lab has a better chance of wooing wavering Green supporters than the LDs, despite the fact that a high % were LDs in 2010.


    I don’t understand your view that Obama has a different attitude to Putin than EU leaders. If he does, it is that he has been far less circumspect about applying sanctions than have Merkel & Hollande .

    I think it is DC who is singing from Obama’s hymn sheet on Putin.

  3. The Select Committee confirm what everyone in Whitehall has known for some time about the student loans system.

    There is no way back for this policy, which means something has to be in every party’s manifesto. This isn’t going to be a fun section for the Lib Dems to draft.

  4. John B

    “I suspect that this is because many people put their faith in Labour to protect them from the terrible effects of the economic situation – a situation which, we are assured, is going to continue for many years to come.”

    I can only assume that you are right about that. If so then the voters are in for a terrible shock IMO.

  5. I think of the Con & Labour stances on the economy in culinary terms.

    Con will say-We’re heads down in the Kitchen baking the cake. It’s coming on OK -but not quite there yet. Bear with us till its finished & we’ll see you in the Dining Room soon.

    Lab will say-we’re already in the Dining Room-together with a lot of hungry people. Just give us the cake & we’ll divi it up now.

    DC’s Mary Berry-cautious cook , to EM’s Pippa Middleton-Party Planner…………….as it were.

  6. @ Colin

    I agree with you:
    People using food-banks can hope for an invite to Ed’s Party; there might even be cake.

    Meanwhile, back in the Tory kitchen, ‘cautious’ Dave is keeping all the cake to himself.

  7. ToH
    The dear old voters are going to be in for a terrible shock whoever gets in. Labour does not have a monopoly on economic incompetence, vis Black Wednesday , the omnishambles budget, the in-fighting over Europe that did for Major’s Govt. Don’t forget it was Brown who ‘saved the Pound ‘ not Hague, and also Brown who saved the Banks from collapse.

  8. ToH

    ” … put their faith in Labour to protect them …
    If so then the voters are in for a terrible shock IMO.”

    Forgive them for they know not what they do. Yet, on the hand. perhaps …

  9. I am coming round more and more to the view (especially seeing Ed in recent weeks) that there is going to be a wafer thin piece of paper between the Tories and Labour in terms of policy, whoever gets in post next May.

  10. Amber

    There’s an interesting article in the Times today about the tensions in Lab & Con election strategy camps ( well mainly Cons actually):-

    Labour –
    Traditional Fairness +Cost of Living +a hint of class warfare.
    Language of change-A “New” economy which “works for you” etc

    Axelrod warning against the former as “vote Labour, get a microwave) & favouring the latter.

    Crosby pragmatism-economy + welfare +immigration + attack Lab credentials ( plus get rid of the “barnacles” shown by the OPS)

    Gove romanticism-Education + Health + Jobs + opportunity for all & an end to the “moral disgrace” of doing less well in Sunderland than if you were borne in Surrey.

    The articles writer opines that whilst EM has made his mind up-DC is trying to ride both of his horses.

  11. Which party actually is more competent on the economy is not a discussion for this place.

    Therefore what I hope TOH meant was expectation management, which is certainly an issue for both parties. Any government that isn’t going to loosen fiscal policy (and both are saying they’ll run a tight policy) has big cuts or tax increases ahead, yet neither have laid out much in the way of detail in advance.

    If people elect governments expecting one thing, but get lots of tax hikes or spending cuts they didn’t expect then it has a nasty impact on support.

    It’s quite hard to measure though – you can ask about people’s expectations of what will happen if Labour win or if the Conservatives win, but I think the answers are corrupted by partisanship and wishful thinking. It might be worth pushing people a bit further sometime – how likely do you think a Labour/Conservative government would be to do x? Would certainly do it, would probably consider it depending on circumstances, would only do it reluctantly if really necessary, would never do this.

    What I’d like to identify is the sort of things a party’s supporters think a party would NEVER do. I suspect those are the kickers (e.g. I bet many Lib Dem voters would have thought hiking tuition fees was something they’d never do)

  12. @ TOH

    If you look at the tables (as you have done) the point about Labour only leading on 2 issues but retaining an overall lead is not that surprising.

    The vast majority of those issues they are polling at 70-80% among their own supporters including the key issue of the economy at 70% and of the remaining 30% only 10% are saying Tories are better- the rest say don’t know or “none”.

    Because the electorate is now split between 4 or 5 parties and the Tories vote being split by UKIP you don’t necessarily need a majority on these issues among the public as a whole to form a government you just need 37% of the electorate to go along with you.

    I think also what those tables don’t tell us is how much better the public think one particular party is. If the mood is well yeah the Tories are a bit better but basically they’re all the same (a typical UKIP viewpoint) then it won’t impact on voting- if they think the Tories are wrecking the NHS or that Labour will be a disaster for the economy then it might.

  13. ‘Public sector net borrowing excluding financial interventions (PSNB ex) was £11.4 billion in June 2014. This was £3.8 billion higher than last June. ….

    After removing transfer from last year, it is similiar to June 13

    2013/14 year has gone down a little to 105.8Bn down 9 bn from the year before – at that rate the deficit will be gone in 12 years, assuming there is not another recesion of course.

    ‘Britain’s public finances showed a bigger than expected deficit in June, continuing a weak start to the tax year that leaves finance minister George Osborne with a lot of catching up to do to meet his fiscal goals.


  14. Pedant Alert Shevii,

    LABOUR only need 37% of the Electorate (probably) the cons will need more for an OM.

  15. Shev11 10 21

    That is a point I have been batting on about here for months. Taking an overall opinion poll result and not discerning between party support has IMO little value in assessing whether VI is vulnerable in any direction. This has been even more true, now that a substantial UKIP VI is being recorded, as they are quite naturally negative about many issues that they think either Con /LD or Lab have handled badly.

    Just to answer AW’s pondering, education has always been a big issue for LD supporters, so I am quite certain he is correct about that. I am sure that not a few Lab supporters would be unhappy too, and it must be remembered that Lord Browne’s study and report were commissioned by the last Labour Government. ‘What did they (Labour) expect to come out of that process?’, is a question that a searching interviewer might have posed by now. I have not heard that though, has anyone else here heard such, and if so what was the answer? What do the party reps answer now? Will either Labour or LD promise to revoke the charge? (I am assuming that Con supporters think the measure is OK, but actually I bet some of them don’t). Any polls on this?

  16. “LABOUR only need 37% of the Electorate (probably)”

    Not even that. In 2005 35.2% gave it a 160-seat majority. Of course the LibDems seem unlikely to get anywhere near 22% but possibly UKIP (and even the Greens) will compensate for that. The Tory score of 32.4% doesn’t look implausible on current polling either.

  17. COLIN
    “I don’t understand your view that Obama has a different attitude to Putin than EU leaders.”
    Not attitude so much but a different relationship, between the to leaders and commanders in chief of the world’s most powerful military blocks; and a different style. I do not think Obama would to the degree we hear from DC be talking in terms of sanctions, but in terms of long term economic interest and stability.
    My post was in response to Rich’s “Ed cosying up to Obama” post, and I am genuinely interested in how the voting public will respond to what I perceive to be a more softly softly approach, to the Ukraine crisis and to the prospect that Ed would be more likely (as in the Syria conflict) to work with and influence Obama towards such an approach than DC.

  18. What I’d like to identify is the sort of things a party’s supporters think a party would NEVER do.
    That’s a bit open ended. I think: “What should your chosen party definitely not do, were they to be the next majority government?” might be a more reasonable question.


    My impression is that Obama is much more hawkish than EU leaders on applying “costs ” to Russia.
    DC in HoC yesterday was singing this tune.

    It remains to be seen whether Hammond has a hope in hell of overcoming German & French self interest today.

    I don’t give him a .

    As to different “relationships”-compare Merkel’s cosy chats with Putin to that famous Obama remark “”like a bored kid in the back of the classroom.” about Putin-and the body language he was refering to.

  20. AMBER
    They’re different. Anthony is saying, pardon the liberty, that he, him very self, would like to identify what party supporters think their party would never do.

  21. Obama does have the advantage of not being dependant on Russian gas, though.

  22. @ John Pilgrim

    You may be correct; I assumed that Anthony’s interest was a professional rather than a personal one.

  23. COLIN
    Again, Obama is a syndicalist, a negotiator, in the long haul He may be more hawkish, as you say (how do I know?) bu I think he would use strategic weapons, not risk backing Putin into isolation, and not risk the economic interdependency on which long term stability rather than on the repeated and expensive threat of force or economic exclusion would depend.

  24. Ashcroft’s latest marginal poll shows marginal gains for UKIP from Labour:


    @” (how do I know?)

    By reading what he says & does , and comparing it with what EU leaders have thus far said & done.


    And doesn’t Putin know it.

    Well you can’t have your cake & eat it with a guy like Putin-he weighs the relative positions of power with care.

    If you concede a trump card to him -that dictates your relationship with him.
    The Baltic States will be letting Merkel & Hollande know today how relationships with Russia work in practice.

  26. @COLIN

    “You don’t need to go so far back to find positive industrial policy under a Conservative administration, with which KC is associated”

    Thanks to that link for Ken’s photo-op with a pair of estate agents who have done a deal with the local council to market two floors of the civic centre as a tech hub. One of the two is no longer a director so perhaps business is not going so swimmingly as Ken would like.
    If this is Con industrial policy, China had better look out.


    “The dear old voters are going to be in for a terrible shock whoever gets in.”

    Agree with that, that’s my point.


    “Therefore what I hope TOH meant was expectation management”

    Exactly, see my point to Ewen above. I agree both major parties have expectation management problems. I think Labour’s is bigger mind.


    Fair comment, i just found this mornings YouGov
    tables very surprising considering the Labour lead. If housing and the NHS are more important to voters than the general state of the economy then I understand. If so then the voters are in for an even bigger shock than I earlier expressed. The NHS is almost certainly heading for more privatisation whoever gets in and will continue to decline until an alternative funding system is established. The “free at the point of use” consept is bound to disappear within the next decade IMO. It already has in many areas of course.

  28. Ashcroft’s marginal polling is thought provoking.
    1. Labour has lost ground since the last polling in these marginal;
    2. UKIP has gained at Labour’s expense since these seats were last polled by Ashcroft;
    3. Projections still show Labour with a small majority government;
    4. Ashcroft doesn’t mention this, but UKIP gains may have created more marginal seats than were evident at past GEs. This will make marginal ‘targeting’ more difficult.

  29. Anthony’s comments about expectation vs action is probably why Conservative supporters are more upbeat about 2015 than polling would suggest they should be (bearing in mind that even the 2% lead the Ashcroft poll gave them on 29 June would probably leave Labour as the largest party in the Commons).

    If the Tories had secured a majority and taken the “at all costs” approach to eliminating the deficit that they were openly advocating, they would have badly lost the following election regardless of how strong a position Britain was in.

    The fact that the deficit has been reduced by less than Labour said they would, and that most other economic indicators have improved (employment, unemployment, economic growth, inflation and for non-savers low interest rates) should put them on decent footing with Labour when talking about public spending and the economy.

    Ironically the speed of deficit reduction was largely the Lib Dem’s influence, but them losing votes as a result of working with the Tories was inevitable from the day the coalition was announced. That they’ll lose more votes than expected because of fiscally insignificant yet politically suicidal moves such as tuition fees was also an inevitability from the day they voted on it.

    As for the UKIP factor, while more of those who have voted UKIP before would be inclined towards the Tories than Labour, the reverse is also true: that it will be easier for the Conservatives to address the concerns of the voters they’ve lost than for Labour to do likewise.

    Getting back to Anthony’s question, what I’d like to know is what proportion of the main two party’s voters say they would not vote for that party again if they did the exact opposite of something in their manifesto?

  30. Ashcroft’s marginal polling summary:

    Party A retains 2 seats (of 14) and loses 12
    Party B gains 2 seats
    Party C gains 10 seats

    “Compare and contrast the 2015 prospects for the three parties – A, B & C”

  31. COLIN
    “By reading what he says & does , and comparing it with what EU leaders have thus far said & done.”

    Golly, Col, I hadn’t thought of that. You’re ever so clever.

  32. @TOH

    From a Scottish perspective, things look a little different, of course.

    The task of the Nationalists/Greens/Socialists/’Yes’-inclined civil society is to demonstrate that economically Scotland would not be forced to go down the NHS privatisation route were it an independent country. That will be a fairly easy thing to show, as Scottish priorities seem to be a bit different from those in the South and spending decisions have consistently prioritised those in need, whereas the south seems to want to bludgeon them into oblivion.

    Following the No vote, as I said last week, Labour are in a mess – particularly if/when they win the GE. Scotland won’t like being forced to follow the neo-Con route which EM is advocating, when there are perfectly good alternatives available. If Labour win in 2015 there may well be another overall majority SNP govt elected in 2016.

  33. You could be right John, although my general assumption is that the Holyrood vote will generally lean in the direction of the party most likely to get a good deal from Westminster (and therefore that SNP have an advantage with the anti-independence, anti-Labour Conservatives, while Scottish Labour are well-placed if it’s Labour).

  34. Brown did not save the pound or the banks. The likes of the IMF and the USA and others all worked together to ‘save’ the financial system.

  35. Rich – not sure why you are surprised at Labour cosying to the US.

    This particular generation of Labour front-benchers have unusually close Atlantic ties.

    Ed Miliband went to school in Boston for two years, and later spent a sabbatical teaching at Harvard.

    Yvette Cooper got a Kennedy scholarship to study at Harvard in 1991, and then spent the summer of 1992 working on Bill Clinton’s election campaign.

    Ed Balls also got a Kennedy scholarship to study at Harvard.

    Douglas Alexander did his third out of four years at teh University of Pennsylvannia (they had a swap in place with Edinburgh University) and then worked on Michael Dukakis 1988 campaign in the summer, as well as being a SPAD to a Dem senator.

    Strangely there arn’t any Labourites who have similar ties to Europe (it’s the LibDems that have those – eg Clegg)

    There is much discussion about how Eton-Westminster-Marlborough shaped the Tory front bench, but no discussion at all about how Harvard and the US Dems have shaped the Labour front bench. I’m not sure if the public is even aware of the connection.

  36. Ashcroft’s poll is being spun as some kind of reversal for labour…! 9 months out, it looks like labour is on course for 300+ seats. If you add in the labour gains from the lib dems…you’ve got labour on abt. 280 seats already…besides the 25 or so other marginals Ashcroft hasn’t polled.

  37. @ Amber

    Very good summary.

    I’d add that I discern quite a few regional differences and this kind of backs up the comment you were making about UKIP creating more marginals.

    At the last election I sat down with my beer and a marginal list which I may have got from Anthony’s site and was very confused that there was no pattern to which ones were falling and which weren’t- so Tories were missing a target at 15 but winning one at 150 type thing.

    I suspect with the regional differences we may see a similar thing this time. In the North and inner London (if you can call Hendon inner London) the Tories seem to be getting a hammering whereas some of the previously Basildon type areas don’t look so much like Labour gains.

    I guess in a way it is good for Ashcroft to re-poll marginals to look for movements but I think it is a shame he doesn’t use the data to expand his polling. For example, if all the Northern seats in his sample have gone Labour easily then why bother polling them and instead find out how many more might be changing hands that aren’t necessarily considered marginal. This was especially true of his LD Lab marginal sample.

  38. Someone is saying the deficit has gone up – but the Times reports —
    ‘According to the Office for National Statistics, June’s public finance figures were far worse than had been expected. The underlying deficit fell by £100 million to £11.4 billion, but that was around £1 billion more than predicted. ‘
    So its not gone up but clearly its not gone down.
    The treasury say the headline numbers were affected by a number of distortions, such as the ‘forestalling of pay into April last year to take advantage of the cut in the top rate of income tax to 45p and a Swiss tax avoidance deal. Both artificially inflated last year’s tax receipts.’

    The 40 to 50% tax change worked in reverse to help Brown/Darling and hinder Osborne early in this parliament.

    I think we need to wait until later in the year to get a view on revenues.


    Your very welcome :-)

  40. JOHN B

    My comments about the NHS are based on an aging population, a rise in obesity and increasingly expensive health technology. In the medium term i do not think it matters whether you live in England or Scotland or whether or not there is a Labour Tory or for that matter SNP government the “free at the point of contact” idea is doomed.

    Not a nice scenario but that’s what i believe.John.

  41. @ Roger H,

    No, they’re Con -> Lab -> Ukip gains. Which technically makes them marginal gains from the Cons.

    As I’ve been saying all spring, Labour are now in a position where they have to win some of their Ukip defectors back if they want a decent majority.

    I think this is not an insurmountable problem for them for three reasons:

    1) Going by the swing in this poll, they’re on course for a small majority even with the Lab -> Ukip flux.

    2) Ukip gains are almost worthless to the Conservatives because it will be impossible to construct a Lib/Con/Kip coalition, which means Cameron would need enough Con/DUP/Kip seats to put together a majority. If the Tories have that many seats they’d be in a position to form a minority government anyway. So Ukip gains hurt Labour’s chance of getting a majority but won’t keep Miliband out of Number 10.

    3) If you look at the preferred government polling for all these marginals, the only one where the Tories are ahead is South Thanet, which suggests that the electorate is softer to Labour than it is to the Tories in these seats and when the third party vote is squeezed in the campaign it will probably break for Labour.

    But they’re going to start thinking hard about how to win some of these people back.

  42. Going to have to start thinking hard, I mean.

    I wouldn’t dare to presume they’ll actually do it…

  43. @Hookeslaw – remember your last post, next time someone suggests lower tax rates bag more tax income please.

  44. John B has said

    “I suspect that this is because many people put their faith in Labour to protect them from the terrible effects of the economic situation ”

    Firstly the terrible effects are more people in work than ever and unemployment falling. Some terrible effect.

    But beyond this – well if Labour are saying some people are going to be better off then that means that some people are going to be worse off. If being better of in meaningful way then a lot of people are going to be a lot worse off.
    All Miliband ever promises is a free lunch paid for by free money.
    To me Milibands promises are worthless – how will this stackm up with the electorate? Who knows. But it the standard line from the Labour play book.

  45. AMBER
    ‘You may be correct; I assumed that Anthony’s interest was a professional rather than a personal one.’

    I mean he, himself, lord and king of UKPR, so yes, professional of course. But that’s different from your phrasing, which was of a question for polling, I assume.

    And a guddun, as R&D would say :-)

  46. col

    “Your very welcome :-)”

    Not so clever at the ole spelling though.

    Glad to see the foibles of Labour supporters are still giving you so much happiness though…… I s’pose its easier than hoping for world peace.

  47. The other Howard, you say –
    ‘the “free at the point of contact” idea is doomed.’

    Why should this be?
    The National French Health Service (for one) is free at the point of contact. There is a bit of a myth that the NHS is unique.
    The French NHS is (mostely) financed by compulsory insurance from workers and employers with additional funding from the government. In other words its financed from tax and NI just like ours. Compulsory insurance is a tax by another name.
    The French NHS in deficit and has a big debt – this is covered by the government. In reality the French NHS is like ours free at the poing of contact.

    Unfortunately Labour always turn the NHS into a political football and are a roadblock to reform. So too are the LDs. This govt has not done a bad job but I fear Labour will turn the thing on its head again if re-elected.
    All health services are struggling with costs.

    ‘if Labour are saying some people are going to be better off then that means that some people are going to be worse off. If being better of in meaningful way then a lot of people are going to be a lot worse off.”

    I assume your logic is that if more people are able to buy Maseratis, then less people will be able to buy Toyotas or Minis? But what if the wives of the Maserati workers whose husbands bring home more overtime, are able to buy more Burberry raincoats and handbags? Then the Burbery workforce will be able to buy more Toyotas (and their directors more Maseratis) and so on. Or have I not understood?

  49. The point about the public finances figures is that if GDP is growing at over 3% a year and official employment has grown by 929,000 in a year and unemployment has fallen by 385,000 in a year.

    How come the monthly deficit is not falling sharply.?

    why is it rising?

    How fast does the UK economy need to grow to get the government books to balance if 3% is not enough – 4%, 5% – as fast as China at 7% –

    why aren’t those ax receipts pouring in at this growth rate, why is social security spending so high at this growth rate.

    i am sure in the past, fast growth rates equalled a rapidly shrinking deficit, but not now. – plenty of first rate excuses though.

  50. @ALEC

    HOOKSLAW May be right. The two things are not incompatible. The overall tax take May well be lower with higher tax rates but there will still be cross year movement when rates change because this will still reduce tax bills.

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