We’re clearly heading towards the Christmas polling break – we’ve still got the usual Populus poll this morning and YouGov poll tonight, but the weekly Lord Ashcroft poll has shut up shop for the year.

All the regular polls tend to stop over Christmas – ostensibly because it’s difficult to get a reliable sample over holiday periods when people have better things to do than answer polls, but I expect there’s a touch of us pollsters needing to have a holiday sometimes too. Last year Populus’s last poll was on the 22nd, so we should have a couple more from them and YouGov normally stop just before Christmas so there are few more from that front too. We also still have the monthly ICM and Ipsos MORI polls to come. ComRes’s monthly telephone poll has been right at the end of each month lately, so we might see that brought forward, or saved until after Christmas. Scratch that last bit – it’s being brought forward to before Christmas, out later tonight.

Anyway, our one poll so far this Monday is Populus’s, with topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

UPDATE: The daily YouGov/Sun poll today has toplines of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 8%. YouGov have had the Greens sneaking ahead of the Lib Dems quite a few times lately, but until today it’s only been by a single point.

Meanwhile the monthly ComRes/Indy telephone poll has topline figures of CON 29%(+1), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 12%(+3), UKIP 16%(-2), GRN 5%(-2). A much better score for the Lib Dems there, the highest that ComRes have shown for over a year.

274 Responses to “Latest Populus poll and a word about the Christmas break”

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  1. Rolandgatinoise

    Well, I am sure that the Russian population can quickly bounce back to a longer life expectancy given the right policies.

    I remain uncertain about why health inequalities in the UK are a subject on which politicians want to say very little. Have you heard anything from the main parties on the subject? The first step before doing anything to re-distribute power, wealth and income is to enlist advocates and leaders at all levels. Nothing like that is happening in UK politics and there is no sign that it ever will.

    In Scotland, the SNP has chosen to focus on the Early Years strategy. This looks to improve educational attainment, health and early years development and protect families from the effects of welfare changes. Health researchers keep reminding everyone that this is insufficient and the fundamental causes of health inequalities have to be addressed.

    In Westminster all three main parties and UKIP could make a case for doing this. Successfully addressing health inequalities is likely to reduce crime, domestic violence, violence, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, substance abuse, single parent families. It would improve life expectancy at the lower end of the scale. It would improve educational achievement and lead generally to better management of family finances. It would free the poor of stigma and help to reduce human misery.

    Your view of the missing British “stoic robustness” might be something you would re-consider.

  2. I’m really getting into this ‘ gib ‘ thing, just Googled it, and ‘gib’ also means, a castrated cat ! :-)

  3. LEFTY

    “Point 2: as for why Labour were voted back in in 2001 after presiding over such a sharp drop in public spending, I guess it’s a question of what the alternative was”.

    You will have to stop this pretence of being sensible. You comment is right. The Elvis Works in Our Tesco Party would have beaten us in 2001.

  4. Re the LibDems – it’s possible that their vote in their heartlands is hardening as their 2010 voters gloomily conclude they have no other choice.

    UKIP have been trying quite hard in the south-west, but Lab haven’t really bothered, so where else do left-leaning voters in those areas have to go?

    @Sam – regarding life-expectancy and health – you might be interested in the following life-expectancy map of Europe and the USA.

    h ttp://i.imgur.com/fAlG1e6.png

    To me it looks like a drinking map – all the wine-drinking areas (including a southern England in love with merlot) have long life-expectancy. The beer drinking areas such as Germany lag, despite their wealth. The spirit drinking areas – Scotland, Russia, southern USA fare the worst.

    I don’y know how the govt can persuade Scots to give up whisky in favour of wine though – they’ll probably view it as an assault on their “culture”.

  5. SAM
    My only knowledge regarding the matter, is a military perspective.
    The army struggle to find enough infanteers and SF these days.
    There was much to be said for the 22 year old, toothless, 9.5 stone, 5ft 6″ tall, slum bred Thomas Atkins of the 1940’s.

    PS Those they do recruit today are ridiculously good.

  6. Anthony


    Presumably it is ones’s own finances-rather than the countries-which informs VI :-)

  7. Re this ICM poll: My hunch was that the publication delay (the fieldwork took four days) could have been due low response rates over what is likely to be one of (if not the) busiest shopping weekends of the year. Since 85% of interviews are by landline, this matters.

    But anyway, look at the tables: In November, their raw poll contained 129 2010 Lib Dems, so the weighting adjustment needed to achieve a representative sample of 131 was extremely small. In December, however, the raw sample contained only 102 such respondents, requiring a rather hefty 28% weighting-up.

    There are two consequences of this. Firstly, large weighting adjustments of this kind magnify the sampling error in that portion of the sample. Secondly, if a lot of people were indeed out shopping, it follows that there is a significant risk those that were home to answer their landlines could have been unusually unrepresentative of the 2010 Lib Dem cell as a whole.

    Unfortunately we have to wait until Jan for the next ICM!

  8. Here are the tabs in question…These are with the DKs left in, so the numbers all look smaller:


  9. That ICM poll does look poor for Cons. A big movement always shouts caution in a very clear voice, but as has already been noted, most pollsters are now showing some minor reopening of a marginal Lab lead.

    I do feel that thr Autumn Statement was an issue for the Tories. There is no question at all that they had wanted a far more positive press at this stage, and had expected to have some ability to spend a little.

    In the end, the pre announced additional goodies got bogged down in media arguments about re-announcing good news, and fiddling numbers to make old money look like new.

    The odd thing was that both sides of the press were critical. The Labour sympathizers were able to pick wholes in the announcements about not being new money etc, while the Tory right were suddenly complaining about Osborne having started making unfunded promises, with even the OBR saying that the funding mechanisms were temporary, but the spending was permanent.

    The headline measure, stamp duty reform, caused a flurry on here and elsewhere, but was never going to be a game changer for some very obvious reasons. As I said at the time, if I had a pound for every time someone on UKPR said an announcement was a gamechanger, for me, it would be a gamechanger. Personally, I was quite struck by the rough reception Cameron had at a press conference when lots of journos questioned his definitions of the deficit cut. It just seemed that something had changed.

    The overall impression of the last couple of weeks has been a government that seems to have lost it’s way on reducing the deficit, has become completely bewildered on stemming immigration, and decided that it needs to repeat it’s promises, but even louder this time, even though by doing this people note that they broke them the last time.

    To me, this looks like a typical credibility problem for a government after a few years in office. It wasn’t meant to be like this.

  10. LEFTY


    You seem to have rationalised it to your satisfaction.

    Of course GO “never openly argued for a smaller state as a matter if philosophical principle.”. But that doesn’t stop EM saying he does. EM says this all the time-though he uses the word ideology, rather than philosophy.

    After the ocassion in HoC , (which we must not discuss ), today, Robinson suggested that economic exchange was the format for the GE campaign .

    It goes something like this :-

    EM-Tories want to take us back to the thirties for ideological reasons. We will cut-but more slowly & much more kindly.
    DC-Spending will be at 2001 levels when we go into budget surplus-EM didn’t talk of Wigan Pier then. We will reduce Debt -they will run deficits forever.

    So It will be EM trying to introduce the notion of “size of the state” into proceedings. Whether it pays off for him we will see.

    Re Peston, it was interesting stuff, though I was very surprised that his puzzlement over French bond rates ( compared to ours) didn’t lead him to inflation rates-a key determinant which he didn’t even mention.

    I don’t think there was ever an “existential threat” in the sense of failure to fund borrowing. There is a question of sustainability of debt servicing costs. And this is a function of Debt levels, and the risk of bond rates rises.

  11. Colin

    YOU might never have believed that there was an existential threat. But that degree of common sense wasn’t common in April 2010. The spectre of Greece was used to support a TINA argument.

    We both seem to agree that the debate now should be an honest, open one about the size of state that is desired. That’ll be a far more sensible state of affairs should it happen.

  12. @Colin

    Re Optimism:
    I’m not an avid watcher of the personal/national split, but my impression is that the two figures diverge more often than they don’t and that the current situation isn’t unusual. An interest question would be “is there a lag relationship?” but I’m not or clever enough at rooting round the internet to answer it without huge effort – perhaps others might know.

    I have always assumed that optimism about the economy is more dependent on how well the government is setting the narrative than optimism about personal finance, because very few people understand what the word means and none of us actually experience “the economy” directly and personally.

  13. Roland
    You are on a roll. My grand dad was from Paisley. 6st 5ft. Gasssed on the Western Front aged 18. Sent to Peshawar and spent 3 years fighting the same tribes as are fighting now. He taught me a lot.
    On to the uplands!
    David W

  14. LEFTY

    THe “spectre of Greece” was a reality. -Too much Debt for comfort -and starting with 11% GDP deficit pa-a helluva lot more inevitable. GO believed TINA to cutting spending.

    Its how you tell’em isn’t it?

    Is EM any different?
    Is EM really asking questions about the “size of the state that is desired” by quoting 35% as an “ideological” public services waste land ? when Labour presided over such a % -of their own volition ?.

    Or is his evocation of “the thirties” a quite deliberate attempt to plant a picture in voters minds of a society & welfare system which EM knows will never be returned to. ?

    Yes-I yearn for an honest debate-but we aint going to get one.

    Watch AN on DP today trying to get Ummuna to say whether Labour will balance the Current Budget, or the Total Budget, and if the former ( as indicated by EB) what would the Net Deficit after Capital Investment be ?

    AN’s expression after a fruitless exchange is the face of the next six months economic debate-whichever politician is being interviewed.


    I agree with you second para conclusion. How else would the average voter have any understanding of the state of the national economy, except by reading the papers & watching tv?

  16. BARNEY
    Your grandpa was pretty unusual in that day and age. In the “next lot”
    with Americans, (US and Canadians) in profusion, photographs of Jock or Tommy make them look like children in uniform.

    Glad he got out of the trenches anyway. The North West Frontier was not Butlins, but had to be a healthier life.

  17. Candy @ 5.46 pm:

    I am in a LibDem “heartland” with a sitting MP, and we have been receiving substantial communications from him and his Tory challenger in the last few weeks.

    From the Nationalists there has been nothing at all since the referendum. The message I have heard from many folk here is that the SNP ought to accept the NO vote and stop trying to obtain YES by back-doors. So their efforts elsewhere in Scotland, and by Alex Salmond, have received flak in our NE Scotland newspapers.

    In driving several hundred miles around the NE in the last two months, I have not seen a single YES poster still up. Whereas in the central Belt I saw several in November.

  18. Some posters -Roland Gatinois, Barney Crockett and others are discussing the small size of British soldiers in the Second World War.

    My grandfather was a civil servant. Between the wars he was a manager of a work camp for unemployed men. The men were sent to the work camps because they were unhealthy and needed fattening up. They would have been rejected for military service on health grounds. The camps were in pleasant rural areas, i believe. One was near where Doctor Finlay’s casebook is set.

  19. roland gauloise

    …………… these people who say ridiculous things, (given the very tight situation that exists,) need reminding that saying “Nick Cleggs gonna walk it” doesn’t make it happen. ”

    This is the prob with speed reading: not only hadn’t I realised that was your job I didn’t even know it was in the rules!

    Anyway, well done for taking it on………………….

  20. David Welch

    “The message I have heard from many folk here is that the SNP ought to accept the NO vote and stop trying to obtain YES by back-doors.”

    Sounds like I missed out on political earthquakes while I was in hospital! Independence via back doors? That sounds an interesting idea.

    Alternatively the message you are hearing may be from those who confuse independence with greater autonomy (since they dislike both).

  21. Colin

    I gave you my two pennorth a few days ago.

    In 2001, public spending bottomed out ABOVE 35% for ONE YEAR.

    The BSA data suggests that 60-odd% of our compatriots were not particularly chuffed with that situation.

    As for the difference in the Con and Lab spending plans, it’s there in the Peston article. By 2020, it will be £50bn per year. That is a significant sum. That Labour still fight shy of shouting this from the rooftops is a testament to Osborne’s skill in closing down discussion on the topic. I salute him. He is a superb political operator.

  22. NAT

    Good to hear from you again so soon.

  23. COLIN
    “Re the retention of labour thing-it seems to me that bthis must be a factor in the poor productivity we have experienced . I wonder whether-as private sector capital investment picks up , as it is now doing, we will see productivity increase at the expense of headcount.
    The other side of the coin as it were .”

    The aeronautical and defence industries in the South West went for out-sourcing and just-in-time supply systems in the early Nineties in the face of genuine and expert opposition from the unions, who argued that the consequent saving on labour and its social costs was at the expense of long-term continuity in their skills base and therefor productivity: of course in the interests of their members, but with a genuine awareness of their commitment to management policies which would maintain long- rather than short-term gain for them and the industry. A similar set of factors has been apparent in the automotive industry, with less dependency on the government order book, and with some virtuous policy nods to Japanese industrial philosophy: result, a thriving industry twenty years later.

  24. @Roger Mexico

    I’m in Bristol West and I’ve been a bit by perplexed by the Green claim that they’re targeting it. I’d personally be quite surprised if they managed third and I don’t think even Labour will be able to shift Stephen Williams.

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