There are three polls in the Sunday papers today – GB polls by YouGov and Opinium, and a new Scottish poll by Survation.

YouGov in the Sunday Times have tables here. Topline voting intention is CON 35%, LAB 38%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4%. The main part of the poll deals with Ed Miliband’s image, following his speech at the start of the week. As we know from countless other polls, Miliband’s ratings on best PM, being up to the job being a strong leader and so on are poor. The questions today were prodding at whether that is indeed something to do with “image” or even “looks” (I say “prodding” – I don’t think it’s really possible to answer the question conclusively).

Asked whether each man has the right policies or looks the part of PM Ed Miliband narrowly leads Cameron on policies: 38% think Ed Miliband has the right policies, compared to 32% who think David Cameron has the right policies. On looking and sounding like a Prime Minister 57% think Cameron looks the part, only 13% think Ed Miliband does. Of course, it easier to look like a Prime Minister when you actually ARE Prime Minister, but that doesn’t explain the gulf between the men’s ratings – YouGov also sometimes ask a question about the opposition leader “looking like a PM in waiting”. Ed Miliband tends to score around 20% or so, when Cameron was leader of the opposition he scored up in the forties.

Ed Miliband’s negative rating do not seem to be due to physical attractiveness, it’s not a case of Miliband being “too ugly” as John Humphrys once put it, as quite frankly neither of them are seen as attractive. Only 6% think Ed Miliband is attractive, but only 16% think David Cameron is. However asked if they physically look like a credible national leader Ed Miliband scores only 15%, David Cameron scores 55%. Clearly looking like a credible leader is not the same as looking physically attractive.

Does this matter at all? Well, the large majority of people say it SHOULDN’T matter – 80% said it shouldn’t matter much or shouldn’t matter at all when it comes to how the public vote at a general election. However, in practice people think it DOES – 55% think it actually does matter a lot or a fair amount. I suspect they are correct. I doubt very many people consciously sit down and think “I don’t think they’d make a good Prime Minister because they are funny looking”, but psychologically we all have many prejudices and biases about people based upon what they look and sound like. Unavoidably our views of politicians will be skewed by our gut impressions of their appearance – and the less closely people follow politics the more important those gut instincts and prejudices probably are.

And, my usual caveat about the Ed Miliband paradox: Labour are still in the lead. If people do think Ed Miliband doesn’t look like a leader, he hasn’t suddenly started looking that way; he’s unlikely to start looking less “leadery” as the election approaches. It’s already there in the price and it hasn’t stopped Labour being ahead in the polls. That doesn’t mean his image isn’t a negative for Labour (they could be further ahead without the problem), but it does mean Miliband as leader is not incompatible with Labour winning. The question, which I don’t think is currently answerable (except through wishful thinking one way or the other), is whether or not public perceptions of the opposition leader may become more salient as the election approaches and it becomes not just a judgement on the government, but a choice between two alternative governments.

Moving on, Opinium’s fortnightly poll for the Observer also has a three point Labour lead. Topline figures are CON 32%(+1), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 15%(-2), GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

Finally Survation have a new Scottish poll, which shows very little change on their previous. Topline referendum voting intentions are YES 40%(-1), NO 46%(nc), Don’t knows 14%(+1). Excluding don’t knows it’s YES 47%, NO 53%, the same as Survation’s last poll. Tabs are here

The poll was conducted between Wednesday and Friday so while it isn’t the first “post-Commonwealth Games” poll, it’s the first poll where we can really look for a Commonwealth Games effect. Thus far there’s no obvious sign of one.

206 Responses to “Sunday’s polls – YouGov, Opinium and Survation”

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  1. The public clearly have their own minds but reflect what the media reflects when discussing what does or doesn’t matter.

    Question? What if their wrong?

    If the question of leadership is the public discussing how others view someone rather than themselves; how much of an impact will that have on how they vote. I’d say what Labour need is someone people trust and whose policies they have confidence in.

    In this light, how bad are Eds polls?

    Meanwhile leadership polling compare how good a job people think the PM is doing for them with how good a job the opposition leader is doing for the opposition. Hardly like for like.

    Eds polls are not a paradox; it’s people’s bias (not in favour of any political party ;but on what they think wins elections) causing the issue; you can’t really explain Labour’s polling VS the Tories if you think the negative Ed polls are so important.

    Maybe it’s his positive ones that are leading in the polls. People hardly dislike the guy do they?

  2. Another intriguing SMS business survey by CBI is the continuing suggestion of skills shortages.
    CBI reports that the proportion of companies citing shortages as a factor hampering output rose to 23%-similar to pre-recession 2007.

  3. ALEC

    Whilst I have no disagreement with your central point of the futility of military methods by both sides , I would have a small quibble with “In my view, suicide bombing buses and firing rockets more or less randomly into Israel won’t help Palestinians achieve a stable and viable state,”

    As I understand it , it is the Al-Qassam Brigades-the military wing of Hamas-who are firing rockets at & digging tunnels to Israel. I wouldn’t question the desire of ordinary Gazans for a “stable & viable state”.( though of course it is impossible to interview a Gazan in Gaza & ask what they really think ).
    But does Hamas subscribe to the two state solution?-I thought their objective was the destruction of Israel?

    Another small point-there is much talk of Israel failing to respond “proportionately”. I wonder how those critics define “proportionately” ?
    After every n Israeli deaths?
    After every n rockets?
    Don’t attack rocket sites in/near schools/hospitals, mosques or playgrounds?

    And what about Hamas-how many rockets per day/week are proportionate?

    I think those who argue from proportionality are merely avoiding the fundamentals.

  4. Amber,

    From your time Israel what was your sense of the attitude of typical Israelis to the so called Settler communities.

    Hamas imo should be condemned but I ask how did they manage to grow to such a size as to be able to displace moderate Palestinian organisations in Gaza?

    Has Israeli State actions contributed to this down the years?

  5. Colin

    Interesting. If true that must surely be followed by sustained and substantial pay increments as employers compete for the skills that are around?

  6. ……….and now Nick Clegg says we need to stop “” people arriving in numbers too big for our society to absorb successfully”. !

    So -all three main parties now agree that EU freedom of movement has caused UK a problem. Isn’t it wonderful how europhiles like Clegg eventually see the truth , when its too late.

    Farage must be chuckling into his breakfast pint :-)

  7. JAMIE

    I think those pressures will push pay up-but only in the sectors affected by skills shortages.

    I have a feeling that the use of “average” pay by Labour may not be as potent a weapon as they currently think.

    There is movement in the system which will change things. Averages mask large sectoral & regional differences. And for families , Net Disposable Income is the key factor-and the data on this is not the same as for pay alone.

  8. @JAMIE

    Even in 2007 wages were not racing away but what one would expect is a gradual increase for skilled people as shortages bite.

  9. RMJ1

    @”Even in 2007 wages were not racing away”

    Dec 2007-3mth average yoy change was +3.8% pa

  10. @Colin

    Re: proportionality

    I think you’re basically wrong here – a precise definition of what would be proportionate simply isn’t needed in order to see that something is not proportionate.

    If you asked people to correctly identify 50% grey very few would be spot on, but almost everyone would notice that 90% or 10% wasn’t right.

  11. OLDNAT
    55% of disagreements are based on semantic differences. The other 63% are based on using percentages of different populations and comparing them.

    True enough! ;)


    I wasn’t looking for a precise definition.

    I was trying to suggest that any definition , beyond the mere intoning of the word, will expose the vacuity of the concept.

  13. COLIN
    Since 68 Israelis and over 2000 Palwstinians have dues in this conflict your debate about the meaning of proportionality is mere academic tosh.

  14. BFIELD

    So your logic works like this –

    Since Israeli’s have a missile defence system, and underground shelters, neither of which has been provided to Gazans by Hamas ; Israel must restrict Palestinian deaths to the level of Israeli deaths-regardless of the level of Rocket & Tunnel based attacks on Israel.


  15. COLiN,
    I am sure your logic is the same asthat of the Israelis , so again that is a pointless debate. They have a perfectly good rocket defence system supplied at great cost by the US. Pretty sure UN hospitals do not have such a luxury.

  16. BFIELD

    My logic is that just arguing for Israeli “proportionality” of response, is merely to licence never ending conflict-and to fail to get to grips with the fundamental issues.

  17. Another interesting sectoral report on the economy.

    July PMI for UK Construction shows” the steepest rise in residential building activity since November 2003, ” and “expansion of overall construction activity was one
    of the fastest seen since the summer of 2007. ”

    But again in this sector, lengthening supplier delivery times, and “near survey-record” in the pace of sub-contractor charge rates, both signal capacity constraints & labour cost increases.

  18. Colin

    A Thousand times as many Israelis will die as a result of Smoking than as a result of Terrorist attacks .
    The Chances of being killed in a Car accident in Israel are 50 times as high.

    The chances of being killed in an unrelated murder are 30 times as high.

    You even have a greater risk of being killed in a Jet Ski accident .

    No one is suggesting that Israel shouldn’t defend itself from a perceived threat.

    But proportionality of response should equate to the actual threat level.

  19. STEVE

    I don’t accept the equivalence of voluntary death by smoking ,or falling off a Jet Ski- and involuntary death by rocket or suicide bomb attack.

  20. COLIN,
    On this occasion I prefer empathy with the innocents without homes instead of steely logic. Perhaps to this is not your style. So end of debate as far as I am concerned .

  21. Perhaps this might help You were 10 times as likely to die as a result of terrorist incident the worst years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland as you would have been in Israel in the last 10 Years.
    Yet the UK government didn’t conclude that the answer was bombing West Belfast or Invading the Republic of Ireland.

  22. BFIELD

    I have the utmost sympathy for ordinary Gaza citizens-their plight is appalling.-as is their political leadership.

  23. @Colin (10.43)

    “My logic is that just arguing for Israeli “proportionality” of response, is merely to licence never ending conflict-and to fail to get to grips with the fundamental issues.”

    Totally agree with your comment above.

    However, I suspect that we may differ in our understanding of the fundamental issues. IMO the fundamental issues, which have hardly ever been mentioned except by Gaza residents and Hamas officials, are the blockade of Gaza and the increasing multiplication of settlements in the West Bank on Palestinian land. Resolve these issues (difficult but not impossible) and I believe that the people of Gaza (including Hamas ) can be persuaded to accept the existence of a peaceful state of Israel.

    The first step needs to be taken by Israel in agreeing to this but unfortunately it is a first step which is highly unlikely to happen under the current beligerent leadership.

  24. @Colin

    “My logic is that just arguing for Israeli “proportionality” of response, is merely to licence never ending conflict-and to fail to get to grips with the fundamental issues.”

    I see no action by Israel in the past two decades to indicate they have any intent of ever making a peaceful resolution of the situation that does not involve Israel continually occupying more and more of the Palestinian territories. Israel are not honest peaceful actors in this, territory is continually being sliced away from the Palestinian territories by illegal settlements occupying farm land or even entire villages or towns formerly owned by Palestinians. Then those illegal settlements get guarded by IDF forces to defend the Israelis living there. Then those illegal settlements are declared as being irrevocably part of Israel now so will never be given back and have a wall built around them, because Israel has a right to defend it’s self. Then new illegal settlements get built outside the wall…

    Imagine what kind of country the UK would be if we’d started pushing the border of Northern Ireland fifty miles south every year to ‘protect ourselves’. Imagine if we talked loudly about how we ‘gave catholic citizens more rights than most other protestant theocracies’ while importing Irish labour under terms that treated them as near-chattle. Imagine if every time an IRA bomb had gone off, we’d shelled schools and housing districts in Dublin?

    We’d be rightfully regarded as morally bankrupt.



    I accept that the fundamentals are many & complex-and steeped in history & myth.

    God knows how it will resolve-if ever.


    I agree that the settlements seem to be a provocation of significance.

    I would be interested to hear from Amber , what the view from Israel is on this.

  27. Populus

    Lab 37 (+1)

    Con 35 (nc)

    LD 9 (+1)

    UKIP 12 (-1)

    Oth 9 (+1).


  28. Others still look high. Otherwise not much change – Cons seem a little higher than they were a couple of months ago but maybe that’s just Populus. Let’s hope conferences shake things up a bit.

  29. I think it is unfair to blame the Israeli Government for murderous attack on the UN shelter. The IDF. had been depleting its stock of Tank and Artillery shells at a alarming rate since the conflict began. Luckily the US was able to resupply them with the arms from the US arms dumps within Israel. It is most likely as I write those dumps are in turn being replenished by air from the USA. It would be more honest if in place of using its segregate army the US air force bombed the schools directly. Where now the axis of evil.
    Before anyone shouts I supporting Hamas tactics I believe there is no excuse for rocket and bombing attacks on Israel any more that their is an excuse for killing children playing on a beach or any other of the collective punishment being inflected on the people of the ghetto known as Gaza.

    I agree, they do seem high, to me.

  31. COLIN
    I know this is a site for polling but your ” the settlements SEEM to be a provocation of significance ” is IMO the understatement of the week.

  32. What did internment do for IRA recruitment?

  33. Mr Nameless,

    The political mainstream tend to argue all three of the following:

    1. That the Lib Dems are on course to do as badly or worse in the popular vote than current polls suggest.

    2. That others will fall back because people will not vote for a party with no chance of winning.

    3. That UKIP will fall back because people will not vote for a party with no chance of winning that seat, and every chance of allowing their worst nightmare candidate in.

    For me something in that equation has got to give, because the proportion of the electorate which wants something other than the postwar two party system has not diminished. A lower turnout will almost certainly lead to a rise in vote share for the big two combined, but that alone would not be enough to make all three of the above statements true.

  34. Whilst acknowledging that Hamas do not recognise the right of Israel to exist within its recognised international borders, it is worth remembering that the current (and past) Israeli governments do not recognise the right of Palestine to exist within its recognised international borders either.

    It is also worth remembering that Hamas exists because the PLO was fundamentally corrupt, and that the current government is in power because the last Israeli leader to consider giving up land for peace was murdered by a zionist.

    Both sides in this conflict have totally failed to have the courage to solve the problem. The Israelis carry somewhat more culpability simply because they are in the position of strength in the conflict.

    I do wonder how much the existing conflict helps both leaderships – Palestinians will continue to support Hamas as long as they are being victimised and Hamas is seen to be defending them; Israel will continue to elect extreme right-wing governments as long as there is a perceived external threat to keep the voters nervous.

    I am very sceptical of the chance of peace when it suits the purposes of neither leadership to achieve it.

    As regards polling, I suspect any minimal impact of the continuing violence will only serve to entrench voters in their existing right- or left-wing views….

  35. @Colin,

    For me the question of proportionality is not whether the mortality statistics for Israelis are comparable to those for Palestinians. It’s whether the mortality statistics (or more simply and generally, “the harm caused”) for each Israeli military decision is proportionate to the ojectives that decision sought to achieve.

    That is the basis on which the concept of “proportionality” is set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, and I am very familiar with it as a large part of my job consists of setting out the case for relatively drastic police action in response to a given law-enforcement objective.

    If a given Israeli tank unit is considering whether to engage in shelling a given Palestinian area, the correct approach would be to assess as accurately as possible the threat, consider the range of options available for responding (including, always, the option of doing nothing), consider the risk and degree of collateral damage involved and then balance these factors to decide whether the proposed activity is proportionate.

    If there is verified intelligence that Hamas has a group of 100 militants in the basement of a hospital, armed with missiles capable of striking Israel, and the alternative means of responding have been considered and (for good reason) discounted, then it may be that a volley of shells is “proportionate”. We aren’t going to be in a position to know for sure, of course, because the assessment would be done on the basis largely of covert sources of information that need to be protected.

    However, it is hard to escape the feeling that in practice very little of this process is actually going on and that what is actually happening is either disorganised “collective punishment” (they killed Moshe in Rafah this morning, make them pay!) or a very locally judged “sledgehammer meets nut” approach (that mortar shell came from somewhere in the hospital district – fire!)

    On a grander scale, one assumes that the Israeli government carried out some sort of necessity/proportionality assessment for the entire operation. Again, it is hard for me to see how they arrived at the conclusions they did (other than political imperatives) but then I don’t have access to their information streams. I find it hard to escape the conclusion that public opinion and the “something must be done” phenomenon, combined with a certain “huddled in the trenches” mentality born of Old Testament teaching and 20th century collective experience, is preventing a proper and sober assessment.

  36. NEILA

    As you say we cannot know what pre-attack assessments have been made by the Israeli military-or how accurate they turned out to be.

    Your “conclusion” may be a reasonable one, or it may be completely wrong.

  37. Why do people think the conference season will have much impact on VI? It hasn’t really in the last 4 years with the possible exception of last year on labour….but then it just firmed up their vi on abt. 38, where it seems to be heading back to in the last few weeks.

  38. ChrisH – do all agree with 1) – personally I don’t.

  39. JimJam / ChrisH

    No, I don’t agree with 1) either. I think the LDs will get more than their polling shows because, when it comes to a LD/Con marginal, a vote for anyone but the LD means a Con win & I’m not convinced LD voters past & present will actively vote against the LD by voting Lab/Green/Ukip if it means a Con will win.

  40. CH – also many 2010 LDs who will vote Lab and a smaller amount Cons as the LD vote collapses bringing 7-10% of total VI to the ‘big’ 2.
    I believe, along with others, that 2015 will see the biggest Lab+Con vote share sine 1992 when the LDs were still recovering from the merger (SDP/) squabbles.

  41. The question then is whether the Lib Dem vote in Con/Lib Dem marginals is perceived to have collapsed so far that their voters don’t think they have a chance of stopping the other candidate either. In which case they might as well vote with their hearts, perhaps.

  42. Wes. the LD machine is such seats will be in overdrive to persuade voters that this is not the case.
    Not too many seats for the fortress strategy to work.
    There will be some who will never vote LD again (our very own Liz H for example) so I believe there will be an LD/Con swing in such seats but moderated.

  43. I’m curious as to why the Israel/Palestine issue seems to divide people along right/left lines. I can see no rational reason a right-wing person could not support the Palestinian cause and only slightly more why a left-wing person could not see a point to Israel’s arguments.

    I have theories – Israel being backed by the USA might turn the ultras against them, and Israel as the only non-majority Muslim state in the Middle East might attract those social conservatives who don’t like Muslims very much.

    But really I suspect it’s just self-perpetuating based on the historical makeup of both sides. Right wingers have traditionally sided with Israel so modern right wing people do as well. Ditto left-wingers and Palestine.

  44. Several things on that JJ

    Firstly while it’s too early to predict UKIP’s vote share with any degree of accuracy, there is about as much chance of their share falling from 2010 as there is of the next government introducing compulsory nudity legistlation.

    Secondly, much of UKIP’s increased share is going to come from the big two. I agree that on balance this will be outweighed by LDs transferring over to the parties you mentioned, but not by anywhere near 7%.

    Thirdly, a LD voter abstaining rather than voting for a bigger party would dilute the swing towards the big two.

    Fourthly, on the Eastbourne thread I have explained why I think the LDs are on course for about 12.5%, using a method that even this site’s most outspoken Tory agrees is a sensible way of approaching the topic.

    Fifth, in safe seats where the LDs stood but were never in serious contention to begin with (upwards of 400, arguably as many as 500), the smaller parties and in particular the Greens are well placed to mop up a significant chunk of that share.

    Finally, according to the UKPR average, the big two are currently up by three points. Even those whose estimates are at the lower end of the scale currently believe that the Lib Dem percentage will hit double figures. That would constitute a rise of at least 2%, and if not from the big two, where is that coming from?

  45. That fifth point should have read “upwards of 300, arguably as many as 400”. I was originally going to make a point about the total number of seats the LDs were never serious contenders in, but then relented because in marginals it probably is more likely that they will switch to the bigger parties.

  46. MrN,

    I found reading some of George Lakoff’s writings helps on this point, e.g., the book “Moral Politics” (see the excellent wikipedia page for a summary). Basically, left and right have incompatible world-views that lead to predictably different positions on a range of issues.

    For the right, it is a hostile world in which only the morally superior prosper and the morally weak get punished to force them to try harder. For the left, community values and caring for one’s neighbour are the crucial ingredients that allow everyone to prosper.

    Now apply to the middle east…

  47. @”For the right, it is a hostile world in which only the morally superior prosper and the morally weak get punished to force them to try harder. ”

    What a load of cobblers.

  48. CH – I guess we will see but I agree the UKIP will poll more than 2010 but how much more?


    A very good question I have often asked myself, actually Geore Galloway mentioned in the HOC recently that he and left opinion generally used to support Israel up until the mid-70s. There was still enormous sympathy for the Jewish people ( the Holocaust was still well within living memory ) and it was seen as democratic, progressive, especially its Kibbutz system – almost a middle-eastern Sweden – surrounded by reactionary, autocratic, backward Arab States (however much a caricature that may have been).

    But Israels’s increasingly aggressive stance in more recent decades – the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the growing awareness of the injustices meted out to the Palestinians which led to the intifada, the illegal settlements and yes, the support for Israel by the USA, itself an increasingly reactionary power, have all contributed to the left siding with the Palestinians.

    And if Israel takes the view that “my enemy’s friend is also my enemy” then almost by default the left can be portrayed as “anti-Israeli”.

  50. Labour lead by three points in the last Ashcroft National Poll before the autumn

    Ashcroft National Poll, 1-3 August:

    CON 30%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%.

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