Two new polls in the Sunday papers. This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times results are here – topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%.

The YouGov poll also had questions on the end of the Parliament: the majority of people (56%) think that MPs have now started to concentrate on the election rather than concentrate on bringing in laws (7%). Not withstanding that there is little support for an early election – most people think the next election should still be in May 2015 as planned. The principle of having fixed term Parliaments has majority support (56% to 29%), though those who support it are split between agreeing with the current five year set up and preferring a fixed term election every four years. Asked about the fate of the coalition, 25% of people want it to end now (17%) or in the next few months (8%). 33% think it should continue up until the start of the formal campaign in April, while 28% want it to continue until polling day itself. The vast majority of Tory and Lib Dem voters want the coalition to continue until at least April.

MPs themselves continue to have a poor reputation. By 55% to 12% people think they are poor value for money and by 45% to 33% people think they are lazy rather than hardworking. 43% think that the reduction in Parliamentary business towards the end of the Parliament is just being used by MPs to do less work, rather than for constituency work.

Meanwhile a new ComRes poll in the Independent on Sunday has topline figures of CON 33%(+3), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 18%(-1), GRN 2%(-1). Changes are from their November online poll and tabs are here. A quick aside about that very low score for the Greens – as regular readers will recall, ComRes recently made a change to their methodology. They started including UKIP in the main prompt for voting intention, but also made some changes to their likelihood to vote weighting – this is not quite clear from the tables, but as far as I can tell from reverse engineering the tables in their online polls they now apply a more harsh turnout filter to UKIP and the Greens than for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems. The end effect of the combined changes looks to me as if UKIP support is largely unchanged, but Green support will be decreased.

ComRes also asked people to put the parties on a left-right scale, with a surprising result. The average scores for Labour was 4.13, the Lib Dems 4.87, UKIP on 6.61 and the Conservatives 6.91 – so the Tories seen as more right wing than UKIP. This is in contrast to a similar exercise by YouGov earlier this year which found UKIP and the Conservatives the other way round. There are months between the polls, so opinion could simply have changed (especially since UKIP have been putting in an effort to appeal to Labour voters), but there were two significant methodological differences between the polls – YouGov asked people on a verbal scale, ComRes on a numerical scale and, probably more importantly, YouGov included a don’t know option and ComRes did not. In the YouGov poll over a quarter of people said don’t know to the questions (ordinary people don’t necessarily think of parties, policies and so on as being “right” or “left” wing!), so it could just be that lots of people said 5 when they weren’t offered don’t know as an option. That said both versions found people positioning the Conservatives and UKIP in a fairly similar place in the political spectrum, so probably not worth getting too excited over the difference.

157 Responses to “Sunday YouGov and ComRes polls”

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  1. @ Oldnat

    Glad to see you back .. I was beginning to feel a bit of a worry about you. Hope you are not feeling too knocked about. Take it easy!

  2. I wonder how much the weather will or indeed does effect voting intentions? Were being warned almost daily by the press were in for 5ft of snow and a month of freezing temperatures. Many people will struggle to heat their homes (I’ll be one of them) and this IMO could bring back the cost of living crisis.

  3. @Oldnat

    Welcome back. There’s been a decided lack of Scottish posts here while you were away.


  4. Hi Old Nat, it was good to have you pop in for a moment there so that we know you’re alive & will soon be kicking.

  5. @ Charles

    Yes, you are right. I was playing around with equations with the aim of trying to predict how votes might change in individual constituencies. The basic idea was to apply simple regression methods to the Ashcroft constituency polling data, using this approach to identify patterns of vote reallocation (or churn). On the assumption that the findings could be generalised to as yet unpolled constituencies, the exercise was to apply the equations to this wider class of seats and in this way to put together some kind of alternative to the Uniform Swing model.

    In response to your question about how things are going, the candid answer is that I have reached a bit of an impasse. Having estimated the parameters from the Ashcroft data, it is easy enough to plug in the numbers and generate VI profiles for new seats. When the new (Nov 27) batch of Ashcroft data arrived I was able to run the calculations for the seats in question and see how the approach had fared. I tabulated some of the results on AW’s thread about that set of Ashcroft constituency polls. On the face of it the projections were remarkably accurate and I might then have gone on to systematise the process a bit. However, what became clear to me (following a bit of helpful guidance from @ Roger Mexico and other posters) was that the VIs everyone was taking seriously were not the figures derived from Ashcroft’s Question 2, but rather those compiled from responses to Question 3 (prompting consideration of the respondent’s ‘own constituency’). So the situation is that I have a set of equations that make rather good projections about how polling participants will respond to the standard VI question, but are way off target when it comes to the figures that are generally deemed to be most informative (i.e., Q3 tabulations). One possibility would be to jettison everything I have done so far, and redo all the calculations based on Q3 VIs. But to be honest I am reluctant to do this in the absence of concrete evidence that answers to Q3 are a better predictor of real voting behaviour.

    So, the answer to you question is that things have ground to a halt while I try to decide how to proceed. Any advice or suggestions would be most welcome.

  6. Left/right is outdated as a measurement, I mean how reactionary are labour on civil liberties and law and order? On most of these issues they’re more authoritarian than the Tories who by and large (the mainstream ones) have a more liberal approach with a respect for the principles of the justice system. Labour tend to want to just bang people up. So may be authoritarian v liberal would be a better measurement today? And if that were the case the lib Dems, mainstream Tories, plaid, SNP would be on the liberal side with the greens somewhere in the middle (they’ve some bossy tendencies) and UKIP and the far right of the Tory party coupled up with labour on the authoritarian side – labour being the most authoritarian!

  7. Coupar

    People care about oil because the SNP have spent the last 30+ years talking about oil. They included it as part of their post-independence budget, and spent the campaign saying we’ve balanced our budget in government therefore trust us, we know what we’re doing. The 55% who didn’t trust the SNP and voted no will, by and large, be feeling vindicated. It might even have an effect on some soft YES voters.

    However as I’ve said elsewhere it’s all academic until 2016 when people will be able to calculate how much deficit or surplus iScotland would have had. Right now it would have been a massive deficit, but Scotland was never going to be independent right now. And who knows where the oil price will be in 2016?

  8. Unicorn

    Personally I would go with q3 data, but could you run both and compare them as we progress towards May? Would that be too much work? Or not what you are trying to achieve?

  9. Ashley,

    That’s how I tend to see politics, but then again my politically formative years were 2003-2010, when the issue tended to be liberalism (small l) versus Labour on how to handle the War on Terror and civil liberties more generally.

  10. Listening to this morning’s news, I wonder whether contrary to their intentions the Telegraph might be helping Labour with their story today. Miliband’s speech on immigration today is already getting an unusual amount of coverage, including the key policies he is trying to get exposure for, and I think that may be because the Telegraph stuff can be linked to it to make Labour + immigration a more substantial news story generally. And it’s hardly earth shattering that when talking on the doorstep about immigration, Labour candidates are being advised to try and move the conversation on to things such as (say) UKIP’s approach to the NHS or to tax cuts for high earners.

  11. @Coupar2802 – “No one predicted the crash so not predicting the oil price slump, when it is totally irrelevant is not much of a story.”

    Sorry to have to go on about this, but this is totally fallacious. This particular price slump was predicted by many, with a number of market makers pointing out that the oil industry was running on large deficits over the last 18 months and was heading for a major crash. I actually posted a number of articles on here suggesting from authors suggesting the sector represented the next global systemic risk, such was the deficit problem.

    Also, wild price fluctuations in general, and the impacts they would have on iScotland, were also widely predicted. The fact that you and many others choose to stick your fingers in your ears and shout ‘la la la’ very loudly doesn’t actually make the problem go away.

    Salmond’s figures and assumptions of oil revenues were complete pie in the sky, as recent events have exposed. It matters, as oil isn’t, as @Statgeek seems to think, a useful extra on top of a state funding system that is already in credit, but one of the big core items that just about keeps the deficit under control when prices are high. If this annoys you, I can’t do much about that. The truth sometimes hurts, so ignoring it and attacking the messenger can be easier than facing up to the fact that you were fooled.

    Once such a big part of your economy collapses, your much higher public spending is exposed.

    Obviously any critique of the independence proposal clearly means I’m biased and accusing my fellow Scots of being ‘too wee and too stupid’, but perhaps the reality is a little more balanced. As I’ve said many times before, independence would work fine, so long as Scots recognised that they would likely be a little poorer in the medium term, and possibly a lot poorer in the short to medium term, and subject to all manner f market pressures when oil prices dipped.

    To deny this and hide behind such vapid arguments as ‘it isn’t 2016 yet’ does perhaps demonstrate that just because we’re not saying Scots are ‘too stupid’ that doesn’t mean that some of them aren’t.

  12. It makes sense really. We can see from the historic BNP votes that there is 5% approx of the UK population for which racism is the primary reason they are concerned about immigration (this obviously varies geographically), while for a much greater percentage, immigration itself is a proxy for concerns over housing, school places, employment and so on. Any progressive party that recognises that simply shutting the borders is not practical or desirable needs to address the actual issues that prompt immigration as an issue.

  13. Pleased to see a response to Labour’s public finances policy from DC.
    I think it is exactly the right point to make, and under Andrew Neil type questioning , should produce some interesting answers.

    I wish the campaign was here-fed up of this phoney peace.

  14. The effect on Scotland of oil price falls pails into insignificance when you read this morning’s reports about oil industry debt.

    The sector’s developers in key producer nations , now under the cosh of collapsed oil revenue have debts of £135bn-most of it with western european banks.

  15. that should be $135 bn.

  16. @Amber AW and others FPT

    I believe AW is correct and Holyrood List MSPs can only be replaced by those already on the list. For example in NE Scotland the SNP now has no one left who was listed on the 2011 Regional list who is not currently an MSP (or deceased in the case of Brian Adam). Should Christian Allard MSP die or resign before the next election in 2016 he will not be replaced.

    So Jim Murphy can only be elected to Holyrood (pre-2016) via a Constituency. Plugging in the Holyrood Constituency numbers from the Yougov poll to Scotland Votes it suggests Labour will only hold 5 seats (down from 15 in 2011) so there is a limited pool of “Safe” seats to choose from.

    If we look at those 5 we can see 2 Findlay supporters and Dumfriesshire which is to far away from Jim Murphy’s political base to be a sensible choice.
    Eastwood – Ken Mackintosh voted Murphy.
    Glasgow Provan – Paul Martin voted Murphy, Findlay
    Dumfriesshire – Elaine Murray voted Murphy, Boyack
    Coatbridge & Chryston – Elaine Smith voted Findlay, Boyack
    Renfrewshire South – Hugh Henry voted Findlay, Boyack

    So really Eastwood and Provan look the 2 best bets. If I had to guess Jim Murphy’s plans then a straight swap with Ken Mackintosh makes most sense both practically and politically.

    The only question is how to carry out the swap:
    1 Jim Murphy runs as MP in 2015, runs as MSP in 2016 and then resigns at Westminster in 2016 creating a by-election for Ken Mackintosh
    2 Ken Mackintosh resigns as MSP in 2015 to run for Westminster allowing Holyrood by-election (on same day as GE?) for Jim Murphy. (This option may be financially costly compared to option 1 to the tune of £60K for Ken:
    3 Ken Mackintosh runs as MP in 2015, double jobbing for a year and Jim Murphy spends 12 months outside parliament on a “Tour of Scotland” meeting grass roots activists etc before running for MSP in 2016.

    Option 2 probably makes most sense politically but I guess it depends how much Ken Mackintosh wants to be an MP and if that makes up for the financial loss.

  17. Alec,

    Nicely put, lots of people, predicted the crash and cashed in much of their portfolio’s, taking profits and having large cash reserves to reinvest when the market had reached the bottom,and had started to recover.

    Salmond’s assumptions about the price of oil were “pie in the sky” and your comments about what Scotland faced in the medium term if they had gained independence seem perfectly rational to me.

  18. Populus:

    Lab 36 (+1)
    Con 34 (=)
    LD 10 (+1)
    UKIP 12 (-2)
    Oth 9 (+2)

  19. @ OldNat

    Good to have you back and if you have time to go through the old threads there were one or two comments about Scottish Polling to keep you occupied for a while :-)

  20. I wonder how amazingly out of touch with other polling companies Populous has to be until nobody takes it seriously anymore.

  21. OLDNAT

    Glad to see you post, hope all s well and that your are making a full recovery.

  22. Larger down weighting of SNP than normal in Populous – SNP in 36% but dowm weighted 75 to 37

  23. What surprises me is how Populus can go on producing such relatively good figures for Labour when its basic weighted sample from 2010 vote recall is always heavily skewed towards 2010 Conservative voters e.g. today’s 559 Con, 381 Lab, 364 LD.

  24. @Alec

    I very much agree with your 8.44am post.

  25. I recall, from winter 2007, discussions where I was concerned that the ‘sub-prime’ debt contagion was not going to be contained to a simple market correction. So “No one predicted the crash” is an over-statement.

  26. I wonder how amazingly out of touch with other polling companies Populous has to be until nobody takes it seriously anymore.

    It’s not that out of touch. a 2% lead isn’t that different from a tie, if you factor in margin of error…admittedly populus shows consistent, if slim, labour leads, but the other pollsters comres, survation, opinium show the same. only yougov shows a dead heat quite consistently. the other polls show a slight labour lead…

  27. @Unicorn I remember (surprisingly) suggesting at the time that question 3 might be influenced by who the challenger was and that this could be measured by a dummy variable and might also bridge some of the gap between questions 2 and 3. So you might end up having one model for question 2 and another for question 3. This might not help much immediately because as you say we don’t know which of these questions is the best. But when you know that it might help you to make money betting next time round!

  28. Jayblanc

    I am hardly an economics professor, but I saw the sub-prime crash coming over a year before it happened. I only paid attention as I was looking to buy a flat at the time. As a result I waited a while and am in a much stronger financial position as a result.

    Rule 1 on money: Ignore what the papers say on economic forecasts.

  29. The last ten years can be pretty much summed up as “the practical results of politicians only listening to the Chicago school of economics, and ignoring all other economic theories.”

    It confuses me that they still seem to want to persist in doing do.

  30. @James Peel

    Sometime ago I did an analysis of Populus vs YouGov, and for Lab and Con they produced a result that was statistically the same for each party.

    I will check tonight with new data, but regardless, we do not know who is right until the GE, when Pollsters will prove themselves and their predictions vs a real nation result.

  31. @JayBlanc

    There’s none so blind as those that will not see.

  32. Thats a great immigration policy:-

    Leader makes speeches about it.

    Candidates on the doorstep avoid discussing it.

    Neat :-)

  33. “Couper @Alec

    “The reason no one cares about the falling oil price is that it is totally irrelevant. If Scotland had voted Yes and the oil price fall continues until March 16, then it would matter.”

    Err [as they say] yes – and one would have assumed that people campaigning for independence would have factored that possibility into all of their talk about “Scotland’s” oil and how, by extension, you would all have been so much better off [nice socialist attitude…] without the rest of the UK sharing in the proceeds.

    But they didn’t: instead, as Alec keeps pointing out, they claimed higher figures in perpetuity. Why not just admit it?

  34. I wonder how many more POPULUS polls have to be published before people stop spellin’ it RONG.

    It does NOT contain an O.

  35. @ Phil Haines,

    If you reset YouGov’s SNP and Green churn levels to where they were in 2011, Labour would get another 2% or so, which would put their YouGov VI into the Populus range.

    I’m sure that’s what’s doing it. Last year they had the Conservatives too high because of the way they were downweighing Ukip and their bizarre 2010 reweighing figures. Now they’ve got Labour too high. Maybe it all balances out, at least in terms of the lead? A 2% lead is roughly in line with the poll of polls.

  36. I’ve never understood the ‘We didn’t see the crash coming’ line. I’d chat to the women on supermarket check out tills, and they all knew that there was a madness going on that couldn’t last.

    I suppose the point is that the banking crisis was extremely good for some people. The banks that were TBTF became even bigger and the 1000 richest people in the UK have quadrupled their wealth from 90bn to over 400bn.

    There’s none so blind as those that have something to gain?


    I wonder how many more POPULUS polls have to be published before people stop spellin’ it RONG.
    It does NOT contain an O.


    I think you’ll find that it does :)

  38. Interestingly the Scottish Yougov poll looks like it points to a loss of overall majority for SNP in Holyrood in 2016.

    On the numbers given in the poll the SNP come up 3 seats short in the Scotland Votes calculator. This is almost entirely due to the rise in support for the Scottish Greens which sees them rapily gaining list seats (to around 10-11) after they cross the 7% regional list tipping point. These are gained at the expense of all 4 main parties, but SNP, having most MSPs also suffer the most.

    The numbers also look like UKIP and SSP might manage 1-2 MSPs each.

    If you reallocate the Green Constituency voting intention to SNP (assuming Greens continue not to run in the consituency contests) then there is just a chance for SNP to hold on to a slim majority.

    To do so they will almost certainly need to take 5-10 of the 15 constituencies currently held by Labour.

    Lots of water to go under several bridges yet but interesting to observe that despite the current Westminster surge for SNP they have work to do yet to hold on to Holyrood in 2016.

  39. @oldnat

    Great to see you listing again, it was a shame not to have you around for the LiS leadership announcement discussion!


    Not true, there was that brief period of Keynesian policy just after the crash (although inexplicably they reverted to the Chicago school shortly afterwards)

  40. Ppulus???

    Shurely shome mishtake?

  41. I think Keynes would have said that the deficit should be reduced gradually as the economy recovers.

    That is *exactly* what has happened, despite headwinds like the previous unprecedented hike in oil and other global commodity prices in 2010/11, collapsing North Sea oil and gas output, huge private sector indebtedness, weakness in our major export markets etc.

  42. Or maybe we could just ask Rosie and Daisie and call it a ‘Pupulus poll’?

  43. I must have mixed my bookmarks up. I had “” linking to a polling and non-partisan political commentary site, not an economics discussion board?

    Technical assistance, please?

  44. smartarses

    Doesn’t contain TWO Os.

    Anyway: “Too wee, too poor.”

    It is rather droll to see the above placed in quotes by Indy sporters when it is bleedin’ obvious that the ONLY people to have used the phrase would be – um – well, yes ….. Indy supporters in a weedy attempt to parody the BT position.

    Best thing, as I suggested before, is to simply go for a North and Sooth Scotland and have the Indy lot head off to the Highlands where they could moan boot “they Edinburgh-Elite-Bass.”

  45. Interesting to see Jum Murphy’s comments on the Scottish Labour relationship with London and his desire to rewrite SLAB’s clause 4. [This talks of making common purpose within the UK and internationally, but Jim wants it to read first and foremost about serving the Scottish national interest].

    Obviously, they could change the wording and then carry on as before, arguing that serving Scotland’s best interests is best done by cooperating with the UK/internationally etc, but the symbolism is significant.

    Politically, I think this is the right thing to do, but it does fill me with a certain sadness that Scots are demanding an ever narrower, parochial focus from their leaders. As I think R&D put it above, saying you would be better off alone if you didn’t have to share the good stuff isn’t as left wing as some might have you believe.

    There was a comment on an earlier thread from I think @Statgeek about the fact that iScotland would make savings if it controlled it’s own spending, quoting troops into Iraq as a good current example.

    While this makes perfect logical sense, again, as a Scot I worry about the shrinking horizons of the independence movement. This particular action (sending UK troops to train and advise in the fight against ISIS, on the request of a democratically elected government) may or may not be the wrong thing to do, and I can appreciate that it is a legacy from a foreign policy disaster (which I think the Scottish public initially supported) so I’m not wanting to get bogged down in the specific.

    However, it’s the general point about global engagement that troubles me. When ebola strikes, or a huge earthquake hits, or a democratic country is invaded by a dictator, the world doesn’t look to perfectly decent small nations like Portugal, Norway, Italy, etc. Global humanitarian action is virtually always led by the US (boo hiss!) with the UK second, with very often UK contributing more as a % of GDP than the yanks.

    iScotland would involve a retreat to a soft, warm, internally focused comfort zone. I’ve always picked up a lot of those kind of responses to read that iScotland’s global influence would get smaller, not greater, under independence.

  46. @Northumbrian Scot

    With the membership they now have, the Greens would be daft not to fight the constituencies in 2016, and I imagine they’ll be heavily targetting at least one seat per region (Stirling, Inverness (John Finnie), and obviously Glasgow Kelvin and Edinburgh Central).

    I can’t for the life of me understand why they didn’t pursue the latter two seats in 2011. They got 12.6% and came third in Glasgow Kelvin in 2007. Whereas in Edinburgh Central, they could realistically take the seat with 25% of the vote.

    I can’t see the SSP taking seats anywhere except the West of Scotland region, while Ukip has a decent chance of breaking 6-7% in a number of regions (Borders, Highlands, NE Scotland, Mid & Fife). They could even overtake the Lib Dems.

  47. @Alec

    Ok Alec if Scotland is ever to become independent then we first need to get control of the economic levers, so we can change the economy from being overly reliant on oil, which is what Smith Commission and the push to get SNP MPs elected to WM for Devo-Max. I think the SNP gradualists well understand this.

    But, to me your argument makes me more convinced that independence is the way forward if our economy after 300 years of union and 40 years of oil – still couldn’t stand on it’s own feet – the sooner we are out the better.

  48. @Alec

    Jim Murphy is playing the Braveheart card – this is kept in a specially sealed glass box to be broken in case of emergency. His ideas are ‘ethnic nationalism’ and there would have been howls of outrage if the SNP had said what Murphy is now saying. There is a difference between being Scottish and the people of Scotland. One of the best qualities of the independence movement is its inclusiveness everyone living in Scotland is of equal value (yes even Tories sigh)

  49. All I have seen of Murphy’s ideas has been on TV news, but they sound a little odd.

    As reported he is going to rewrite unilaterally the constitutional relationship between the Scottish & GB parties.

    I doubt that very many people in Scotland are that fussed about Lab’s internal arragements and while I’ve always thought that UK parties would do better in Scotland if the representation here was via “bavarianised” partners, this seems an odd time to be promoting such.

  50. Couper2802,

    “One of the best qualities of the independence movement is its inclusiveness everyone living in Scotland is of equal value (yes even Tories sigh)”

    If the Ayes had matched those laudable goals with inclusive rhetoric, they might not have lost the referendum by such a wide margin.

    As a general observation, the Ayes face the same challenge between now and the hypothetical Indyref II that the Tories faced after 1997. The temptation after a disappointing loss is to fall into the bunker mentality, but the only way forward is to start appealing to a wider audience. The Ayes fought (I think) a very good campaign from the left and didn’t win; all the internal pressure will be for them to move farther and farther to the left (“If only we’d promised to abolish the monarchy and leave NATO!”) but their only chance is to appeal to the people who DIDN’T vote Aye this time around.

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