As part of his speech today Nigel Farage showed off polling for various target seats. A couple of the polls were just the figures from previous Ashcroft polls that showed UKIP doing well, but three are Survation polls for UKIP that we haven’t seen before. They show UKIP well ahead in Boston & Skegness – on 46% to the Conservatives 26%, one point behind in Thanet North and on 37% to Labour’s 48% in Rotherham. Of course, polling conducted for political parties should be treated with a medium sized ocean of salt until you’ve see the tables with your own eyes (I’ll put up a link once Survation put the tabs up (UPDATE: here)), but the previous Survation polls for UKIP donor Alan Bown have used their standard methodology.

The polls got very brief attention as they were rapidly followed by Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP and precipitating a by-election in Rochester and Strood. Rochester and Strood probably won’t be the complete walk in the park for UKIP that polls have suggested in Clacton (Clacton’s demographics are absolutely perfect for UKIP and Carswell particularly well thought of). UKIP came top in Medway in the European elections, but that was hardly unusual and as an all-out unitary authority we have no recent local elections in Medway to judge from. The seat does not appear in Rob Ford and Matt Goodwin’s list of the most UKIP friendly Con seats. The unusual circumstances of a by-election though mean anything is possible – and from a national polling point of view, it keeps the UKIP bandwagon rolling, keeps them in the public eye, keeps the publicity coming, keeps them looking like a viable choice.

321 Responses to “Constituency polls and Rochester and Strood”

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  1. @ Pressman

    Murdoch will most likely do in the GE what he did in the Scottish Referendum – sit on the fence waiting to feel how the wind is blowing. Then he’ll bottle it, stay on the fence & you’ll have to learn to live with your disappointment.

  2. Oh dear, I sneaked the ‘S’ word in again….

  3. And salience for out old friend the West Lothian Question:

    “The Government has more important questions to deal with than whether or not Scots MPs vote on English laws.”

    Agree: 57%
    Disagree: 24%

    I guess that 24% could all be Labour voters.

  4. Outside London and some other big metropolitan cities (e.g. Manchester but not Stoke-on-Trent), there are a lot of Labour voters who believe in social justice but who are socially conservative, aren’t in tune with the trendy metropolitan elite and don’t like the massive influx of immigrants that has occurred in recent years. These folk are repelled by all 3 Westminster establishment parties, but will be tempted by UKIP (or the SNP in Scotland).

  5. And favourability ratings:

    Looking good, Alec and Catmanjeff!

    To our resident Blairites- I think Operation Revive Tony is a no-go.

    Pressman can take some comfort in the fact that Miliband is still about as popular as Ebola.

    And I guess ComRes has stopped caring about the Lib Dems.

  6. I think David Cameron and Ed Miliband are fighting for second place in a beauty contest – behind the winner Quasimodo

  7. @Daodao

    Yes, but even in those areas people are more concerned with the cost of living than immigration.

  8. @RAF

    I support that.

    I live in large urban area of West Yorkshire, and UKIP have done well, but I think the root cause is economic uncertainty that many people live with every day, and immigration is the scapegoat.

  9. @ Catmanjeff,

    That’s just because people haven’t heard about Quasimodo’s policy on asylum seekers yet. It will never wash in the current political climate.

  10. ***** ATTENTION PLEASE *****


    If so then please join us on this new Facebook page:

    (Message to Anthony: I’ve posted this once in the ‘Constituency Guide’ section and am posting it just this once on the front page. Hope that’s okay).

  11. Mike Smithson tweet

    Opinium for the Observer has CON closing the gap Lab 34 (-3) Con 32 (+3) UKIP 17 (-1) LD 7 (nc) Greens 4 (nc)

  12. Regarding people using immigration as a ‘scapegoat’, they really shouldn’t.

    Immigration has been fantastic for this country. Indeed our NHS would collapse without it (and as a resident of Southall I know what I’m talking about – so there).

  13. @Robin Hood



    Very good.

    I nearly choked on my toast (made with home made bread).

  14. @Pressman

    Two numbers for you to chew on:

    Labour vote in England in 2010: 7.042 million.

    Circulation of most popular newpaper in the country: 2.2 million.

    Assuming you work for it, you’re less than a third as popular as the Labour Party is in England. I don’t think you get to tell the people of England how they should feel about a Labour Government. They’d already rather hear from them than from you, son.

  15. @Oldnat

    Opiniom looks like a reversion the polldrum 3-4% Lab lead after their previous poll that was most likely an outlier.

  16. @Pressman

    I don’t think that’s a convincing agenda you just tried to write. Cam and Ed both have to convince swathes of non Con / Lab voters, and it’s not happening as yet. The Lib Dems are struggling, and UKIP probably can’t win too many seats with their current voting intention.

    It might easily be a Lab OM, or it might easily be a hung parliament. Less likely it will be a Con OM.

    You not getting the result you want is no more going to cause civil unrest than the No vote up here. The system in place is there because the AV referendum was primarily opposed by the Con and Lab parties. maybe this time, people will realise that it’s a failing system, and the two-party system days are past.

  17. Regarding the ST YouGov poll, here comes one of my short term predictions (a few hours is my comfortable limit). I suspect the poll may show a narrowing Lab to Con, due to fieldwork having been done just a goldilocks amount of time after the media had a go at Ed Miliband’s speech. The first one was too close after the event (the adverse criticism, not the speech).

  18. Phil Haines
    Your description of smoke filled rooms under PR outcomes, not giving absolute majority, indicates to me that you have not observed how these matters are arranged in countries that have PR.

    Cabinet formation is carried out by a ‘formator’ (my best anglicism for formateur) and he/she or they are appointed by the head of state (either king or president). The parties’ programmes are compared and usually the ‘winning’ party, the one with most seats, will be invited to discuss which coalition partner best will suit a stable government, reflecting the overall wishes of the voters.

    Had this system been carried out in 2010, I have no doubt we would have ended up with what we did, anyway, broadly speaking. It is to the credit of the two parties that they managed it without such steering, but I do think the inadequacies in the Agreement would have possibly have been prevented with a more professional and admittedly possibly more drawn out approach.

  19. Someone above mentioned Bob Marshall-Andrews holding onto his Medway seat by a very tight margin in 2005.

    I don’t know if anyone recalls his hillaruous interview with David Dimbleby on election night where he railed at the Labour leadership’s estrangement from the concerns of his voters and how it had cost him his seat.

    A few minutes later he discovered he had won.

  20. @Robin Hood
    “Immigration has been fantastic for this country. Indeed our NHS would collapse without it”
    Please explain why it is a good thing that basic duties in the largest caring organization in the world do not attract UK citizens.

  21. @Dave – the time it takes to train people?

    It wasn’t till Labour increased salaries for medics that people started going into medicine again (until then it was only saint-like vocational people – who are a tiny minority in any population).

    To become a doctor it takes 5 years at university and another four years as an intern. So we’re only now starting to see the influx of people who decided to study medicine nine years ago. Add in an aging population and increasing demand for healthcare which means more doctors required, and you can only fill the gap by importing people. Especially as the “old” bunch of people imported in the 80’s and 90’s start retiring.

    The USA has the same problem for differen reasons (it costs too much upfront to do medical training there, so cheaper to import doctors).

  22. Isn’t there supposed to be a “polling bounce” for parties after their Conference?

  23. I should have added that bumping tuition fees to £9000 doesn’t help – given the long university course for medicine, that amounts to £45,000 for a medical degree. If you want UK citizens to go into medicine, perhaps waive the fees for what is a “core” subject that the state can’t do without.

  24. @ Old Nat,

    Don’t worry, Ukip are working on it.

  25. Spearmint


  26. I think the game is up for the Tories. The recklessness of a few of their MP’s means they are well and truly kippered.

    No way are they going to get above 33% now. Even a dead cat bounce of next weeks conference looks unlikely.

    All on the back of the least reported Pre-General Election
    Labour conference I can ever remember (I have even forgotten what Ed forgot about).

    Miliband is sleepwalking into number 10 and I don’t think anyone out there really cares that much (except for white van man!)……. and the reason – 5 years of austerity with not a lot to show for all the pain, unless your rich. That elusively felt economic recovery ain’t going to trickle down fast enough to save them somehow.

  27. Amber Star

    RM will not do that. I can absolutely assure you that’s its all guns blazing against Miliband. I don’t know what has been said between RM and Farage, you would have to say that’s its possible that if the polls look as they do now with 3 weeks to polling day RM could take a view, but that won’t be without the fires of hell being launched beforehand.

  28. Paul Bristol

    But isn’t Labour’s agenda to provide the next “5 years of austerity with not a lot to show for all the pain, unless you’re rich”?

  29. @leftylampton – “In summer 12, Lab were on 43, Con on 33 and UKIP on 7.
    Today, we’re roughly looking at 36, 33 and 13 for those three parties.”

    I’ve picked two YouGov’s that accurately reflect that state of affairs (18th July 2012 and 17th Sept 2014). Random, I know, but let’s see:

    Missing elements: LD unchanged on 8%, Green up 3% to 5%,.

    In that time Con have lost an additional 5% of their 2010 vote to Ukip (Lab have lost an additional 3%, LD 8%).

    Con have lost a total of 1% of their 2010 vote to Green in that time. Lab have lost an additional 3%…. losses from LD to Green have remained static at 8% of the 2010 vote.

    Defections to Con have doubled to 4% of Lab 2010, Con defections to Lab have fallen back by a fraction (7% to 6% of Con 2010).

    LD defections to Labour down by 7% of the LD 2010 vote share.

  30. @ Pressman,

    I think there’s a real risk for you that the Sun will do another non-endorsement. Rupe won’t back Miliband but he won’t want to be seen backing the doomed Cameron, so it’ll be the same “Well, I guess you can vote Ukip if you really want to” waffle they put out at the European elections.

    No guarantee, of course, because he really does hate Miliband. But I think he might hate being shown to be powerless even more.

  31. @Spearmint

    That would be the moment when everyone realises the old man has lost his mojo.

    There’s no going back from that position from RM.

  32. It’s like when the whole school suddenly realises the playground bully is a total coward, who nobody likes.

    Once the sycophants desert, it’s all over.

  33. @Oldnat

    I don’t know. Nothing much get’s reported unless it’s amnesia.

  34. @ Billy Bob,

    Looking at crossbreaks from two individual polls is daft- there’s enough day-to-day variation to render it almost meaningless.

    Here are the Ukip sources over time:

    After the Eastleigh by-election the Labour 2010 defectors increased from almost none to around 1% of the electorate, and this May that number jumped to 2%. But the big damage to Labour’s VI has come from the Tory and Lib Dem Kippers, many of whom were supporting Labour in 2012.

    I’d question how reliable these people ever were- they may be the usual mid-term swing voters who would have abandoned Labour anyway by election day- but Lefty is right that by going over to Ukip they’ve substantially reduced Labour’s VI.

  35. @Dave I don’t think that RH said that it was a good thing that the NHS would collapse without immigrants, merely that it was the case. Similar things could be said about our hotels, fruit picking, universities etc etc, Given our demographic and sets of skills this is how things are.

    It is also true that some groups almost certainly have their wages depressed by immigration (although not so much perhaps as by the export of jobs to elsewhere), and some communities may have their services put under stress by it.

    Why can’t Labour say clearly that immigration is a good thing that can have negative consequences and that its policies on a living wage, apprenticeships and housing are steps on this path?..

  36. I’m nominating Toby Helm for worst poll write up of the week blaming the 6 point to 2 point Lab lead drop in the Observer poll down to Mili’s speech.

    Meanwhile Comres goes the exact opposite from 2 to 6 point lead caused no doubt by the same speech…

  37. ie on the path of tackling these problems not exacerbating them!

  38. @spearmint

    Not the first time you’ve corrected me for what you think is the import of my post, rather than on the substance.

  39. @ Billy Bob,

    Er, yes? I don’t dispute the substance- I have every confidence in your ability to transcribe the crossbreaks of two YouGov polls accurately.

    I just don’t think it’s the best methodology for getting at the information you’re looking for.

  40. Are we getting a 10pm ‘top line’ YG poll?

    I’ll go for:

    Lab 35
    Con 31
    UKIP 15
    Lib 8

  41. Spearmint.

    “by going over to Ukip they’ve substantially reduced Labour’s VI.”

    And the corollary is that their is a vein of potential support for Lab to mine here over the next 8 months. Not by pandering to the immigration side of the debate, but by ruthlessly going for UKIP as an uber-Thatcherite party. That’s an open goal for Labour – scare off the angry blue collar ex-Lab voters from voting for UKIP and make it seem even more attractive to the right wing of the Tory party.

  42. @Statgeek

    I thought the ST Yougove didn’t come out till later?

  43. Lefty

    So – a Project Fear strategy?

  44. @Leftylampton @Oldnat

    I picked out the scare off part too.

    For Labour to get these voters back it needs to reconnect with them at a deeper level.

    I’m not sure I’ve heard anything to show this will happen. I don’t think Con/Lab/LD has vocalised they understand quite how deep the resentment of the establishment goes.

  45. @ Old Nat

    But isn’t Labour’s agenda to provide the next “5 years of austerity with not a lot to show for all the pain, unless you’re rich”?
    Here’s my notes from Ed Miliband’s speech. Please don’t quiz me too much about them or hold me accountable for them; I’m just reporting. If you have questions, I’ll report the answer as best I can.

    Policy Goals:
    1. Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025. So we will raise the minimum wage by £1.50 an hour by 2020 to over £8 an hour; a rise in pay of £60 a week for a full-time worker on the minimum wage.
    2. All working people should share fairly in the growing wealth of the country.
    Banking reform
    Business & Unions co-operating
    Self-employed will be included for state pensions etc.
    3. Britain to be a world leader in the green economy
    1M new jobs
    Green investment bank
    Carbon out of electricity by 2030
    4. By 2025 as many young people will be leaving schools or colleges to take up an apprenticeship as currently go to university.
    If businesses want to bring in a worker from outside the EU, that’s ok but they must provide apprenticeships to the next generation.
    Businesses will have control of the money for apprenticeships for the first time but in exchange, if they want a government contract, then they must provide apprenticeships to our young people.
    5. By 2025, for the first time in fifty years, this country will be building as many homes as we need. Doubling the number of first time buyers in our country. We won’t let large developers sit on land, we will say to small developers and construction companies that we will help them to build homes again in our country. We will build a new generation of towns, garden cities and suburbs creating over half a million new homes.
    6. Create a truly world-class 21st century health and care service. In total we will set aside £2.5 billion in an NHS time to care fund. 3,000 more midwives, 5,000 more care workers, 8,000 more GPs and 20,000 more nurses. An NHS with time to care.

    These are the minimum goals, not aspirations. The plan is to over-deliver should that turn out to be possible.

  46. @spearmint

    Who said I was looking for information?

    All the two random YouGovs did was point up the degree of churn.

    You make a good point about the reliability of swing voters though… Thatcher, Blair, Clegg, Farage… Gordon Bennett or should that be Natalie Bennett? Looks like they were even impressed by the two Eds back in ’12.

  47. @Candy
    I was thinking of nurses, porters, etc rather than doctors, though I take your point about time to train. However, with patients worried about doctors not understanding their English, and foreign doctors being here rather than in their own countries where they are perhaps more needed, “Is it a good thing that UK employs immigrants?” is a valid question.
    Back to nurses etc trained to various standards.
    My father trained as a psychiatric nurse before WWII, straight into the RAMC when qualified, then in the local large hospital until he retired. 40 years service.
    I don’t think he would have thought of himself as “saint like and vocational”. Rather that nursing offered better long term prospects at the time than the building trade. However, he did towards the end of his career have what I will call some quite definite uncomplimentary views on the standards of training, care and recruits compared to when he entered the service.
    I suppose what I am saying (and it ties in with your comments on the cost of training doctors) is that we seem to want a gold-plated service at cast iron rates. RH is quite right that the NHS now depends heavily on immigrants, but it seems to be largely true that they are more prepared to do the work for the pay and conditions offered, and I question whether this is a healthy state of affairs.

  48. To lose one MP is Carless to lose two is Reckless. With apologies to Oscar.

  49. Amber

    raising the minimum wage is good but the only way to really reduce poverty and reduce inequality is to have full employment. Where is labours commitment to full employment defined as 2% unemployment or less? To me your list sounds like a continuation of the “moderating the worse effects of neo liberalism” policy of brown. Treating the symptoms rather than the disease

  50. ON

    When someone is beguiling a disenfranchised section of the electorate by promising them what they want and deliberately misinforming them about what would actually come to pass, then reminding the voters of the scary side of the “trust me” face is not only a valid approach – it’s a duty.

    You don’t need to convince me of the need for Labour to re-engage with these voters. They are my friends and family. I care about Rotherham and Doncaster viscerally. It’s where I was born, raised and educated. I have been as frustrated as anyone at the direction that Labour took for the last two decades in neglecting these places. Labour has a generation long job to re-connect there; you’re not going to do it in 6 months.

    In the meantime, the ex-Lab supporters who are beguiled by Farage the showman and friend of the downtrodden need to be reminded forcefully (scared if you wish) of the kind of society that he and his party really want and would support if they hold the balance of power.

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