We have our usual rush of Monday polls today, all showing a slightly healthier Labour lead than of late.

The first of Populus‘s two twice weekly polls had topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5% (tabs). Populus’s average so far this month has been CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, so this has the Conservatives a little lower than usual, UKIP a little higher than usual.

Lord Ashcroft‘s weekly poll had topline figures of CON 27%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 7% (tabs). Compared to his recent polls this has the Conservatives down a tad, Labour and UKIP both up a tad.

The daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%. YouGov’s average figures so far this month have been CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16% – so again, the Conservatives lower than usual, UKIP higher than usual.

None of the figures are different enough from recent polls to be sure the difference isn’t just normal sample variation, but the fact all three are showing a shift in the same direction (Conservatives down, UKIP up) means it’s possible we are seeing a bit of a publicity boost for UKIP following Rochester & Strood last week. Time will tell. Note also what it doesn’t show – any decrease in Labour’s support following several days of fussing about White Vans and Emily Thornberry.

365 Responses to “Latest Populus, Ashcroft and YouGov polls”

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  1. Ashcroft is not a surprise as his polls seem a law unto themselves, and I would put the other two down as blips in what the long term trend will be.

    The Tories have to concentrate on their share, it’s difficult to see Cameron remaining PM if he can’t get 35%. But I think he can and he will.

  2. We’ll see.

    Cameron needs a bigger vote share than last time unless Lab lose more votes to UKIP.


  3. Latest YouGov / The Sun results 24th November – Con 30%, Lab 34%, LD 6%, UKIP 18%; APP -30

    This is unusual for Yougov because Lab is weighted up here, normally they are weighted down

    The story here is the drop in the Con vote – voter approval very poor as well

    The combined coalition vote is 36% – that is the lowest this parliament

    Lab has lost 2% of its Red Dem vote in this poll and retention of 2010 vote is poor, but DK and young voter scores are better. 34% is still a weak score for Lab

  4. Just picking up on a couple of points raised earlier in the thread:

    As has been pointed out here before by those who know, Labour has only twice required the Scottish seats in recent elections to provide them with an OM – 1964 and 1974 round 1. But in the present very tight situation (although perhaps Labour are beginning to pull ahead slightly) in which there are many more imponderables than previously (e.g. UKIP, SNP, Greens) it is not clear what Labour needs as a % of the vote in order to ‘win’ the GE,

    The point made about the Tories being unable to contemplate NOT winning is well made. For those who believe (quite genuinely, from my experience) that they have an automatic right to rule, to fail yet again to gain an OM would potentially be a catastrophic blow. For example, the ‘traditionalist’ wing and the ‘economic/business’ wing might simply walk away in opposite directions, as might already be happening over Europe.

    As for Candy’s hopes that the Scots might be less ‘clannish’, I suggest a read of Tam Devine’s book ‘The Scottish Empire’, in which there are many references to such behaviour both at Westminster among Scottish MPs and Lords, and in the wider empire where Scots often (but not always!) made great progress under the patronage of other Scots.

    Scotland is a small community. We often know, or know of, each other. For example, because of the anonymity of this site I have no idea who Old Nat is, but were I to do so it is probable that we would discover links between us through friends or friends of friends – who knows, even professional links. Some might argue that it’s how Scots (and perhaps many other small nations) survive in the world.

  5. Full percentages are

    Latest YouGov / The Sun results 24th November –

    Lab 34%
    Con 30%
    UKIP 18%
    Greens 6%,
    LD 6%
    SNP/PCY 5%
    Others 1%

  6. There have been some on this site who assume that the Tories in Scotland can be ignored in present circumstances. Yet all recent polling results suggest at least one additional seat, and some suggest two additional seats, for the Tories in Scotland (always, I think in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway). It would be strange were DC to survive because of two additional Scottish seats, but this just goes to show what a odd situation we seem to be in.

    Ashcroft and YouGov both continue to have strong SNP support – but YouGov’s questions about the economy and other things give a really mixed picture north of the border.

  7. On the Thornberry issue, could it be that Ed came across as strong? He sacked her straight away

    Tories must be praying for a mild winter, they wouldn’t want the cost of living crisis wounds reopened all over again.

  8. Perhaps the reason why there has not been a more negative reaction to the Thornberry resignation is because Labour acted so quickly and unambiguously!

  9. @Candy and John B

    I take the point re Sectarianism especially as we see it in Northern Ireland but in a modern Scottish context thinking of it as John’s “Clannishness” is probably more helpful.

    The way I have seen it operating is based as much on residency as ethnicity or religion. An English born, catholic, or Asian Scot will qualify just as much for the “patronage” as anyone else in a modern Scottish context.

    It makes sense when faced with a much larger neighbour to have a strong level of solidarity and I believe leads to a strong sense of community cohesion.

    If anything the regions of the North of England could learn from it in terms of ensuring they receive an appropriate level of investment and support by acting in concert across the political spectrum.

    As a native of North East England I grew up watching a political context where there was the same complaints about remoteness from Westminster and lack of investment but without the same strength of community solidarity it’s been difficult to turn that into positive political action. I’m hopeful the lesson has been learned now and we’ll see more support for devolution in the North across all parties.

  10. Very poor set of polls for the Tories. UKIP surge and the admission that the immigration target will not be met is the likely cause.

    My favourite columnist in splendid form this morning. Still feeling euphoric after the Opera last Saturday. Have a good day all.

  11. @Postage Included

    Those are very perceptive comments regarding the impact of Crosby’s dog whistle politics under FPTP rather than AV/SV.

  12. “Tories must be praying for a mild winter, they wouldn’t want the cost of living crisis wounds reopened all over again.”

    A rough winter would be far worse than that. Yesterday, Peterhead power station (gas fired, 780MW) completely failed it’s monthly standby firing test.

    This is one of the power plants brought out of mothballs for backup generation capacity as the supply safety margins are so low this year, following a series of fires and nuclear shut plant safety downs.

    The Peterhead owners get paid to keep the plant on standby, getting paid again if it ever actually needs using. As part of the contract, they need to practice firing every month to check the plant is functioning and available. Yesterday it didn’t work. If that happened when there was a real demand call, large parts of Scotland would blackout.

    A prolonged cold snap with the right (wrong!) weather conditions could well mean widespread power failures, and would certainly mean a hit on industrial production as factories on interruptible supply contracts get instructions to go off line. Any unplanned power cuts would be a disaster for the government.

  13. @JohnB
    The Tories’ inability to contemplate defeat despite not winning a OM in a generation is one of their biggest handicaps. Despite coming short and relying on the LDs to win every vote, they have treated this parliament like an overwhelming mandate. An appropriate level of introspection would have been very useful indeed for them because if/when they use in May they will need to regroup fast.

    Labour, OTOH, have the reverse problem. They navel gaze too much and all they see is gloom and doubt. Remember Blair’s first term? Such timidity. If they themselves don’t believe it, why should the electorate?

    Either away, both sides have a fundamental fear that they don’t have the right to be heard. Blazing on despite not winning and hanging back despite consistent poll leads merely papers over the cracks.

  14. “Some might argue that it’s how Scots (and perhaps many other small nations) survive in the world.”


    This victim thing has a lot of legs. It can even justify nepotism…

  15. Couple of points:

    The polls yesterday were interesting but based on precedent one would assume they represent a bounce that would typically disappear in a week.

    People get absurdly excited about the Ashcroft marginal polls but people seem to miss the obvious point that they are related to national polls.

    There isn’t really any significant difference between the trends in the marginal and national polls – if there was an election today Labour would at least be the largest party, if not a majority.

    However, historical precedent would suggest a swing back to the governing party.

  16. I too read about Mellorgate aka tecupgate. The tabloidisation of the news cycle is complete.

  17. UKIP are on a roll .

    Cons suffering badly from it.

    If Farage keeps this up to Election day there will be one helluva battle after the GE for the Soul of the Conservative Party.

  18. Alec

    Reading your post I suggest you should try Opera. You clearly need cheering up, you seem so gloomy. At my age life is likely to be a relatively short term thing but I love every day I am given and enjoy it to the full.

    For those who are depressed by today’s polls I suggest you try reading the text of the Ashcroft poll and find out who the voters think will win in 2015. That should cheer you.

  19. @TOH – are there any operas about truffle hunters?

  20. TOH
    Methinks you do protest too much.

  21. Pete/Newforestradical

    It is the Conservative vote that has dropped. The Twitter thing is irrelevant fluff…unless you have had your career destroyed over it.

    Personally, I would have thought that legal expertise might be the important factor for a back-room post like attorney general. I have no idea how good a legal mind Thornberry has. But then I believe that politicians would be better served by running the country properly rather than acting like a bunch of back-stabbing bum-fluff covered student hacks.


    Not sure i understand your post, since I’m not protesting about anything.

    Perhaps you should try Opera as well, as I said above I am still euphoric from Saturday. With your misquote in mind, there is an obscure Opera about Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas but you will find it very difficult to see a performance..

  23. @ Couper

    I said a few days ago I have little doubt the SNP would support Labour after May next year. The biggest query would be how that plays out over a 5 year parliament. The likely support would probably be C&S and I guess that can come to an end at any time.

    The biggest “threat” from the SNP would be how readily they would be willing to play Tea Party with various legislation. There’s bound to be unpopular decisions to balance the budget/reduce the deficit and populist issues that can make the SNP look good and Labour bad if the SNP vote something down (and depending on the Maths in a tight parliament it might mean SNP abstaining is enough for the legislation to be lost).

    So there’s two ways of looking at it. One is that voting SNP would keep Labour to the left and keep Labour focussed on Scottish issues. The other is that it produces a parliament where not much gets done and bad compromises are made such as voting down any tax rises and voting down cuts of any sort (populist but not balancing budgets).

    I guess that judgment depends on how mature you think the SNP would be.

  24. LURKER

    You want politicians to stop” back-stabbing” ?

    I’m afraid you are destined for eternal disappointment :-)

  25. In the absence of a recent opinion poll from Wales, it’s possible to get an idea of the polling there from the Ashcroft polls, by deducting the totals for England and Scotland from those for GB.

    For the last 8 polls covering October and November this gives an aggregate sub sample of 190 as follows (change since GE in brackets): Con 22% (-4), Lab 39% (+3), LD 5% (-15), Plaid 16% (+5), UKIP 15% (+13). A small sample but it at least suggests that there’s no reason yet to consider that trends in Wales are diverging greatly from those in England, notwithstanding the small upward tick for Plaid that might or might not be a straw in the wind.

    For those who balk at the domination of this site by discussion of polling in Wales, I should point out that I am only posting this to offer some up to date Welsh figures in the UKPR Advanced Swingometer to better gauge the impact of polling in Scotland on GB seat outcomes. And that there have been two mentions of Scotland in this post, no three now.

  26. @John P

    ‘However, historical precedent would suggest a swing back to the governing party.’

    I don’t think we can be confident that this will happen this time round. For one thing past elections had swingback before the current point in the election cycle. However, as I spelt out in my long post yesterday at 6.14pm BOTH coalition parties have been moving slightly but significantly in the wrong direction since the beginning of the present calendar year. If swingback hasn’t been happening so far, what faith can anyone have that it will suddenly start kicking in over the next few months?

    It occurs to me that past swingback might be a kind of statistical artefact confined to an era when the PM could choose the date of the election. In addition to the actual election dates in the past it is likely that there were at least as many POTENTIAL dates that were strong contenders for elections. In each case party leaders would have chosen to go to the people only if the polls looked good and the omens were generally favourable. So, the selective sample of real past election dates will have included a biased sample of occasions in which there was a rising trend in the polls. For the potential dates on which the polls were trending downwards the PM would have got cold feet, deciding instead to hang on for more propitious circumstances. On this analysis, swingback in not something that happens automatically but is a reflection of the influence past PMs had on the ‘sampling process’. They converted from potential to real only the dates characterised by favourable polling trends, making swingback nothing more than a sampling artefact.

    No doubt Osborne would have liked to have engineered a sense of well-being timed to coincide with the election. But all the indications are that economic clouds will make this impossible.

    In short, I see no case for building swingback into any projections this time round.

  27. Today’s poll has Labour on an OM of 18 seats. Interestingly, they have exactly that number of Scottish MPs on the EC calculator.

    Pretty much sums up my post last night. Labour need a 4% lead (and probably 30% in Scotland) to secure an overall majority. If Labour drop to 25% in Scotland (and the SNP go up to 44%), the 4% is not enough.

    So the burning questions are…can Labour get a 4% lead in May, and will these 40% or more for the SNP carry to the election, and how many seats might they produce?

    Oh and will last night’s / today’s flurry of Labour 3-4% lead polls be a blip or a trend?

  28. @Unicorn

    Fascinating stuff! You could well be right!

  29. “Perhaps you should try Opera as well, as I said above I am still euphoric from Saturday. With your misquote in mind, there is an obscure Opera about Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas but you will find it very difficult to see a performance..”


    Yes, but I don’t think you appreciate the seriousnessness of the situation, Howard. If the power goes out, as Alec suggests, there may be no opera. There wouldn’t even be much UKPR if you can’t power your computer or mobile device.

    I suppose the allotment would be Ok though. Of course, none of this would be much of an issue if we had Thorium…

  30. @unicorn

    That seems a possible reason for previous swingback. More generally, I remain puzzled that the Cons dispensed with the choice of election date – a powerful advantage. If I had the choice I think I would have plumped for last June, but there is an element of hindsight in that.

  31. I can’t help feeling that the big money backers of the Tories and UKIP will not want a EM Labour government and will soon force the two right of centre parties to get together and ensure a right of centre win in May.

  32. @Northumbrian Scot – yours of 7.59

    Yes, the northeast of England and Merseyside also often demonstrate a similar ‘clannishness’ to that of the Scots. In footballing terms, this is seen often on Merseyside where many Reds will give support to the Blues (and vice versa) when facing ;’foreign’ opposition (e.g. Mancs or London). Do Chelsea supporters give encouragement to, say, Arsenal, when the latter is playing against Liverpool or Everton? Would a City supporter give a cheer were United to beat Everton? I don’t know.

  33. @Unicorn

    Well, there are other mechanisms to promote swingback. Eg incumbency, and being in government allows action to stack the deck, including pre-election giveaways.

    But what interests me is that a fair amount of the hit to the government was soaked up by the Lib Dems rather than Tories. Thus one might expect the Lib Dems to experience a fair amount of the swingback rather than Tories. Only they might now be so discredited it’s going to Greens and sNP etc. instead…

  34. “The Twitter thing is irrelevant fluff…”

    My general sentiments, although I sometimes think I’m wrong.

    As with the print media setting the wider news agenda, with attack stories often filtering into the televised news, twitter is a minority pastime, but one that does sometimes get picked up more widely. It can get issues noticed.

    I wouldn’t be so sure that is entirely irrelevant.

  35. @Tark – yours of 8.36

    Very much in agreement.

    But where does it leave us all? The party which assumes it will win seems to be like a cartoon character which continues to run forward after coming to the edge of the cliff. Is next May the moment of ‘the big drop’? The other party, Labour, may still be licking its wounds after 2010 and all that, so no yet feeling confident about taking on the mantle of government once more – especially so as much of the ‘sorting out the mess’ has yet to be attempted.

  36. Colin

    I am aware that politicians will always backstab. However, I would prefer it if they did so over genuine difference of opinion rather than pathetic careerist rivalry. You only need to look at the Australian Labor Party to see where such careerist idiocy leads (i.e. to not having a career any more).

  37. On the SNP, I’m pretty sure they would support a Labour minority government throughout. I can understand that people have doubts given past cooperation between the Tories and the Nats in Holyrood (instigated by the Tories to get them out of the dirty corner of Scottish politics) and potential joint interests (EVEL).

    But one thing that must be appreciated is that the independence campaign has changed Scotland and the SNP too – witness the election of Stewart Hosie. The SNP would not be able to play cynical politics in Westminster without big ruptures at home. (And I also do beliefe that Nicola Sturgeon means what she says.)

  38. “So the burning questions are…can Labour get a 4% lead in May, and will these 40% or more for the SNP carry to the election, and how many seats might they produce?”


    Well, you could put it all down to Scots, if determined to do so, or maybe the votes lost to greens, or UKip, or don’t knows or won’t votes, or failure to hoover up more LD or Tory votes etc.

    Or maybe the Tories doing just enough to thwart Labour, or the press, or etc. etc.

  39. “On the SNP, I’m pretty sure they would support a Labour minority government throughout.”


    They might, but one wonders why given they seem to think Lab in bed with Tories…


    Plenty of solid fuel and logs at home, plenty of candles for light, and a little gas burner for cooking soup. During the day plenty of very good walking locally, and plenty of books to read in the evening.

    Being serious I doubt there will be power blackouts.

  41. We need more polls to see if a trend is emerging post-Rochester, but the early signs are that the Tories have taken the biggest hit so far. I expected this to be so but, with the Thornberry brouhaha and the atrocious publicity that Labour and Miliband have endured recently, I expected Labour to be well down too. Hence my prediction of them all being in the 20s at some stage in a post-Rochester poll. My banker was Ashcroft but he’s failed me!. I’ve obviously overcooked UKIP, although 18% for them in a YouGov is still pretty damned good/frightening/impressive* (delete as appropriate).

    My hunch that Rochester would change the political weather and give Miliband some cover and breathing space has, I think, come true. It’s what he does now with the gift he’s been given that is the key. Can he change the momentum and political mood that’s been running against his party for some weeks now? Can he shift the terms of debate away from Tory and UKIP ground and start hooping the Greens and LibDems back into the Labour enclosure with a clear and positive centre left offer? Can he redefine himself and his leadership in the minds of the voters?

    Big questions for the much maligned and belittled Miliband. The jury’s out on whether he can answer all these questions about both himself and his party, but he’s just come through some extraordinarily choppy political weather with sails just about intact and the old Labour tub still afloat. Remarkably, these latest polls seem to suggest that he’s still very much in the game, and that there is a solid slice of the electorate still sticking with him and his party. However, he’s let some opportunities slip through his fingers before, and I think it’s last chance saloon time for him now if he’s to ever seize the day.

  42. @Carfew – 8.38

    It has nothing to do with ‘victimism’. Rather it needs to be seen as a way of recognising a common inheritance, different from that enjoyed by other, often larger, nations.

    I give, as an example, the fact that every couple of years or so I go to a four day meeting involving folk from all over GB (my employers are not in Northern Ireland). One evening is always set aside socially for those of us who come from Scotland (plus, often, those who have worked in Scotland but are now elsewhere), and often we are joined by Welsh friends. That’s not in any sense ‘victimism’; rather it is an awareness that we share something which is worth celebrating – even with our very real differences. It could be that English folk do the same at a regional level – and that’s fine by me.

  43. @shevii

    “I guess that judgment depends on how mature you think the SNP would be.”

    And on how mature Labour will be to offer options that are reasonable. They can put up unreasonable options, then claim the SNP are not supportive etc.

    We have seen how a junior partner is a coalition gets treated by the electorate over the past 4 years. Factor in a junior partner, that some talk of as ‘akin to the 1930s’ (Nick P), and from a country of sectarianism (Candy). It’s not lost on us that some can’t separate Nat form nat or one scot from another scot (very few Scots are sectarian; but the media loves a sectarian story, and the politically partisan tend to egg the media on.).

    I don’t quite believe that the SNP are stupid enough to walk into being a junior party without something solid and delivered, up front. Perhaps it will be another referendum, or more likely a sizeable chunk of devolution, and I don’t believe that Labour will accept their terms anyway.

    Bear in mind that until the indyref vows are delivered, the Westminster parties will not be trusted by many Scottish voters. Only the other day, Brown and Darling warned against devolving income tax, while Jim Murphy is backing it (so say the FT).

    Lest we forget that Cameron announced:

    “And I can announce today that Lord Smith of Kelvin – who so successfully led Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games – has agreed to oversee the process to take forward the devolution commitments, with powers over tax, spending and welfare all agreed by November and draft legislation published by January.” – He has five days left.

    Actually I imagined the vows being delivered and on time, and wondered where the voting intention would go. Would Labour get their 15% back? Why should they? Wouldn’t it get split between the SNP who secured the vows, and the Conservatives, who delivered them? Who’s to say that some voters find some appeal in Cameron (if not the Conservatives) for delivering the vows, as promised.

    Labour perhaps won the indyref war, but they aren’t in any position to deliver the devolved peace (not until May, at least). They are at present mere onlookers, who jump up and down, and shout a fair bit (Brown / Darling / Murphy and others), but still onlookers.

    Having said that, so are we all really.

  44. @John B

    “It has nothing to do with ‘victimism’. Rather it needs to be seen as a way of recognising a common inheritance, different from that enjoyed by other, often larger, nations.”


    Lol, you were on about “survival” before…

  45. Shevii – 10.08

    Ah, but how do you define “mature”? After all, the SNP have been in government for over 7 years now, dealing with the economic situation imposed on Scotland by Westminster – so it has had to cut its cloth etc.

    Now, much will depend on whether the Labour party wants to build a society based on the financial services industry or one based on people actually making things.

  46. Unicorn

    Good point about previous governments having the ability to choose an election date. Makes a bit of a mess of any attempt to ‘plot backwards from election day’ to see how polls were behaving.

  47. @ John B

    Very complex questions of what footie fans want to happen.

    I was very surprised about 15 years ago to be at a Doncaster Rovers game and hear them cheering when a Half Time score was read out showing Leeds winning- even if Donny were in the Conference at the time and not possibly rivals.

    In London I don’t think any top London team wants another top London team to win ever- even if they are playing in the Champions League final and semi representing England/London. Man United and Man City pretty much “hate” each other although there may be mixed emotions among Man United fans if City are playing Liverpool.

    I also heard that your Liverpool/Everton thing is breaking down and very little love lost between those clubs that might have existed up to the 70’s.

    Ironically the one I think that still holds is that England fans are generally happy to cheer on Scotland. They are equally happy having a laugh if Scotland does badly so Scotland games tend to be win win for the English :-)

  48. LURKER

    I think there is plenty of “genuine difference of opinion” going on at present within both the Labour & Conservative Parties.

  49. Alec

    I don’t think the voters are quite as stupid as to blindly follow some media “narrative” or confected “disaster for X party”. For what it is worth I also never thought the Godfrey Bloom incident would hurt UKIP either (although that did not stop it from being funny).

    I think politicians need to credit voters with having the ability to make their own judgements (however poor) rather than assuming they will blindly follow some spin line.

    If voters agree with the Sun line on an issue, it is because it either reflects their pre-held belief or because the Sun have a persuasive argument. It is not a case of the reader being brainwashed as though they are a sheep. The same is true for Guardian leader arguments and Guardian readers.

  50. Colin

    I’ve met and known enough politicians to know what they are like.

    My point is that politicians would help themselves by resisting the temptation to backstab. Do you think the Tories and Labour are helping themselves by acting like narcissistic rabbles? Do you think that most voters are impressed?

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