The Christmas polling break is over. Opinium have the first poll of 2015 out tonight, conducted for the Observer. Topline figures are CON 32%(+3), LAB 33%(-3), LDEM 8%(+2), UKIP 17%(+1), GRN 4%(-1). The poll has a sharp drop in Labour’s lead, down six points since a fortnight ago, but the previous poll was that rather incongruous seven point Labour lead, so part of the change will just be a correction after an unusual poll.

Note that fieldwork for the poll was the 30th Dec to 2nd Jan, so included New Years Eve and New Years Day. There isn’t actually any real evidence that doing fieldwork on bank holidays when many people are out doing stuff produces odd results… but I’m a bit wary of it. There are examples of polls done on bank holidays producing very odd results, but there are also examples of polls done on perfectly normal days producing odd results and polls done on banks holidays producing normal looking ones.

372 Responses to “First poll of 2015 from Opinium”

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  1. @Roger Mexico
    “….the point is that Labour are certainly trying to get those tactical Tory votes against the SNP on unionist grounds….”

    I’ve yet to become aware of any evidence to that effect (although maybe there are other reasons for the absence of any anti-SNP tactical voting leaflets popping through the door here in the Black Country).

    “If I were a Scottish Tory voter I would be seriously concerned that the election of a Conservative government before 2020 would result in….”

    That sounds like an election winning strategy for Labour if extended to England and Wales. Foster concerns amongst Tory voters about the consequences of electing a Conservative government before 2020.

  2. Iraq – here we go round the mulberry bush.

    Nothing of any significance would have been different in Iraq from 2003 onwards if the UK had not participated. Thus is The Peace Not War-anti Blair brigade mostly self-indulgent and self-righteous. Even after all this time, the sooner they cease self-flagellation the better.

  3. Online Populus poll

    England & Wales only

    Lab 37% : Con 36% : UKIP 13% : LD 9% : Grn 4% : Oth 1% (Lab lead over Con 0.38%)


    Usual wee crossbreak caveats apply – plus Populus’s idiosyncratic weighting back of current party ID to 2010 estimates. SNP ID weighted down by 47% before producing VI figures of SNP 41% : Lab 28% : Con 15% : LD 8% : Grn 5% : UKIP 2%.

  4. I mean, of course, Stop the War.

  5. The above post was for those interested in opinion polls – very much a minority interest on this site. :-(

  6. @ Graham,

    If the SNP are still polling this well in 2016 they may make a second referendum a manifesto commitment for the next Holyrood election, in which case the Westminster government would be a very difficult position if they refuse to grant it. And the SNP will certainly demand- with reasonable grounds- a second referendum in the event of an EU referendum that results in a Brexit vote.

    The SNP are up against a ticking demographic time bomb, especially now with the oil prices, and they know it. And this honeymoon period they’re in won’t last forever. This is their moment; they’re not going to miss any opportunity to seize it.

    @ Phil,

    Heh. They’re trying but no luck so far. Of course, a lot of Tory voters in England and Wales would be quite happy to get shot of Scotland, so I don’t know how compelling the unionist argument would be.

  7. @Spearmint
    I disagree. Westminster can simply throw Alex Salmond’s words back at the SNP ‘Once in a generation’. No further referendum until at least the mid-2030s.


    That’s quite a healthy lead Labour have over the Tories in England.

  9. OLD NAT
    Whatever can you mean Nat? I have no interest in Lab vs Con in 2015, or even Lab vs SNP in 2015. The big issue is, did Blucher save Wellingtons bacon at Waterloo or not.

  10. GRAHAM

    Yes they can but AS is no longer the SNP leader. If the expectations of the Vow is met then I reckon we wont see another indy ref for a long time.

    It’s in the unionists hands.

    0.38%, yes, I think we are history.

  12. @ Allan Christie,

    The SNP have no intention of allowing expectations of the Vow to be met, regardless of the actual terms of the devolution package. Since the unionist parties also have no intention of meeting them, this is a rare moment of cross-party unity that will probably achieve the desired outcome.

    @ Rolandgatinoise,

    Mind you, a 0.2% point lead left you 92 seats behind in 2005, so you may need to do a wee bit better than that…

  13. Roly

    With Con & Lab effectively neck & neck in E&W, there really needs to be much more rigorous testing of the proposition that Labour has an automatic x% lead due to boundaries.

    How true is that with regard to marginal seats in England, given the support levels for UKIP and Greens?

  14. As far as I am aware, and I watch these things fairly closely, Alex Salmond was always careful to preface his remarks on future referendum with “in my view” making it clear that he was expressing an opinion not making a policy statement.

    That could well have been just clever politics to either give him wriggle room or to encourage undecideds to go for it as they wouldn’t get another chance.

    He may have called it “A Chance in a Lifetime” but it has never been Offical SNP policy…. And you can bet we’re glad of that now!

    In fairness although pretty much every major player in Scottish Labour for a generation has at some point stated that” If the SNP want Independence all they need to do is get a majority of Scottish MP’s at Westminster” that has never been Offical Labour Policy either…….I bet they are glad of that now!


  15. the point about labour and the tories being neck an neck in england and wales is really a death knell to the tories.

    The blues beat labour by 11% in E& W in 2010…neck and neck now means that labour are likely to get more seats in GE 2015

  16. @ Spearmint

    “Surely that depends on what you think the long-term consequences for unionism are, though.”

    You’ve not got the time to be pondering this question when there are graphs to be done :-)

    To be honest though I think you can have the month off as there didn’t seem to be anything exciting to report in December unless some of the don’t knows have made up their minds?

  17. Peter Crawford

    You may well be right – but in 2010, the LDs were polling well, and UKIP & Greens had little impact in most constituencies.

    I’d like to see some reanalysis, by those who are au fait with English politics, rather than assuming that nothing/little has changed in the last 5 years.

  18. PC

    … and also that would indicate a swing [on that one poll] of 6% since 2010.

    I listened to some of Clegg’s “why Labour and the Cons are rubbish” speech and still think that the attacks will harm the Tories more – as they are an insider’s view and the further cuts plan has in any case been proudly pre-announced by GO so can’t be defended well.

    But the LDs will get very little benefit at all from it: they are too heavily implicated in the eyes of those who have already deserted them.

  19. @ Shev II,

    I am graphing even as we speak. :)

    It’s worth checking to see if that Labour uptick was real, at any rate.

  20. Does anyone know if there are any stats on average VIs for Labour and the Tories between – say – 1966 and 192 and 1992 and the present?

    [Ideally as graphs running through the life-times of each parliament.]

    I developed because, traditionally and bizarrely, almost all governments, once voted in, became enormously unpopular very quickly [eg Thatcher before the Falklands]

    What then seemed to happen – especially with the Tories – was that the governing party recovered/called an election and were returned again for the cycle to continue.

    My curiosity is twofold:

    One, to check my theory that the Tories have a low top and a high bottom and two, that this state of affairs has accelerated over the past 17 or 18 years.

  21. R&D

    ” the Tories have a low top and a high bottom”

    Oo, Er, Missus perchance?

  22. You’re all political nerds, perhaps you can help – when exactly does the £500 parliamentary deposit have to be submitted by?

  23. PAUL

    @” the Tories have a low top and a high bottom and two, that this state of affairs has accelerated over the past 17 or 18 years.”

    Does that mean they might now have a bottom at the top, and a top at the bottom.

    So that they in fact are all upside down ?

  24. @ Pups,

    You can get it from Mark Pack’s spreadsheet:

    But you’ll have to make your own graphs.

    Alternately, that’s one of the things I’m looking at in my past parliaments analysis, so you could wait for me to finish that and post, and then you’ll have the graphs ready made. (Since I started that in July and then got bored of it and dropped it for six months, you may be better off with Option 1).

  25. @ R&D

    In the 80s and 90s it was always taken as read that the Conservatives had a higher base than Labour. Many Labour activists were most aggrieved by the unfairness of this complaining that they had to work hard to get their vote out while the core Conservative vote turned out regardless. More recently it would seem that this phenomenon has reduced or even reversed possibly partly because of postal voting and the rise of UKIP. Exactly what the core vote of either of the big two is now, is very difficult to determine and I have noticed that relying on past canvas returns is no longer helpful and can be downright misleading.

  26. To whom it may concern

    Bored with please, not bored of. It’s like squeaky chalk on a blackboard.

  27. YouGov are back tonight and are now prompting for UKIP as a main party – we’ll see what difference it makes (to UKIP’s VI, obviously, but also LAB and CON) – for reference YouGov’s Dec range for UKIP was a very stable 14-17%.

  28. R&D/Spearmint

    My own poor offering of MP’s data. 11-point running average. The dates are slightly suspect (not accurate to the day of the month, hence a bit of additional wiggliness in the traces) but the general trends are right (I think! Knocked this together v quickly before rushing to see Donny get Cambridge in the Cup draw.)

  29. I believe it’s the 9th April, Mr N.

  30. Graham and Peter

    I think the one thing the referendum in Scotland actually settled is the manner in which Scotland can become independent – that is a parliamentary majority at Holyrood based on a party or parties manifesto commitment to a referendum.

    There is no going back on that now either with the SNP trying to declare UDI based on a Westminster majority or the unionists trying to deny a referendum that Scotland had voted for. To be fair there is no sign of the SNP trying to do the first and the second I doubt will ever be articulated by any unionist leader for fear of making their current dreadful situation even worse.

  31. Number Cruncher

    Are YG prompting UKIP as a “main party” in Scotland as well?

  32. @Number Cruncher

    It seems reasonable for YG to prompt for Ukip as standard. I believe AW said previously that it (YG) trialled the prompting of Ukip a couple of times towards the end of last year and found it didn’t make much of a difference.

  33. @RAF

    Yes, I recall that too.

  34. Raf – I’d forgotten I’d said that, but yes, that is now the case. I’ll post more later when the results come out, but that’s essentially my thinking.

    Think of it this way. We know that for a small party (and I don’t want to define small here – I don’t necessarily mean low support, it could be about awareness, or media coverage, or simply public consciousness) prompting for a party risks overestimating their support. We’ve made that mistake before and learnt from it.

    However, we also know from the 1980s that you can get it wrong in the opposite direction too. Above a certain level or support (or awareness, or coverage, or consciousness), if you don’t prompt for a party you end up underestimating their support. That used to happen to the SDP/Liberal Alliance in the 1980s.

    Now, with these two known phenomenon, it struck me that there should come a point somewhere in the middle where they crossed over, and that whether a party is prompted or not shouldn’t make any difference… and that would probably be rather a good point to make the switch. If not, at least it wouldn’t do any harm and would be easier for respondents who don’t have to answer an extra question! It was only a hypothesis and might never have happened, but in our recent tests it’s been making hardly any difference, so it made a very difficult decision far easier.

  35. AW

    So the secret is out – prompting for UKIP doesn’t make any difference to their VI.
    You don’t have to kill me any more!

  36. Regarding that VI graph I posted earlier, I’d love to see what future historians make of this fact.

    The past half century has seen wars at home and abroad, the threat of nuclear apocalypse, huge recessions and huge booms, divisive leaders, wildly popular leaders with feet of clay, the rise and fall of political philosophies, the near break-up of the country, the rise of new parties and the near-collapse of old ones, the collapse of industry, the collapse of communism and the near-collapse of capitalism. But the most dramatic changes in VI were due to a few folk having to queue up for a few minutes to fill up their cars and an I experienced politician looking straight at the camera and remembering questioners’ names on the telly.

  37. missis minty

    Working hard on graphs – “graphting.”

    Ta for stats from helpful people.

    Mr N Haven’t you got enough saved up yet? Where will you and? Will it be for the nameless party

  38. A question about opinion polls in previous elections.

    Is it the case that opinion polls change greatly in the run-up to a General election?

    I have read somewhere that voters tend to have already made up their minds, and that opinion polls do not change greatly in the last months before an election. However, I may be completely wrong.

    There is that song,
    That’s life that’s what the people say.
    Someday you’re riding high in April. Shot down in May.

    There was an election in 1970, in which the publication of unfavourable trade figures caused a last minute turn- -around in public opinion.

    However, is it the case that public opinion changes much in the last months before an election? Does anyone have information on this?

  39. Word on the street is that Ashcroft’s Scottish polling has been on the field.

  40. OldNat

    Are YG prompting UKIP as a “main party” in Scotland as well?

    Well, given that YouGov appear to prompt for the SNP as a main Party in England, it would only seem to be fair.

  41. @Oldnat

    Sorry missed your comment. I would have thought so, ie that they’d treat each party consistently (with itself) everywhere that it stands. Obviously one can debate whether UKIP (or any party) is major right across GB but I’ll avoid getting into that…

  42. @ADGE3

    I’m doing some analysis of this, but the fact is plenty of people haven’t made up their minds (this time, or any time) – just look at the number of don’t knows in current polls (especially phone polls).

    Trade figures were very important in those days (when capital controls were in place). Another example was 1986-87 when the oil price collapsed and the government got a big boost.

  43. ADGE

    Good Evening to you.

    Wilson fought the 1970 on the Balance of Payments issue.

    Jenkins pompously refused to give us a nice budget.

    England were beaten by W.Germany having been two nil up.

    Benn made a speech which Wilson thought lost west Midlands seats. He compared Enoch to Hitler.

  44. R Mexico
    What is the evidence that Labour are looking for Conservative tactical votes? This is the big lie tactic. J Murphy is a west of Scotland Catholic from a working class background on a particularly poor housing scheme. His orientation will be, as he has said, on winning back to Labour those who have in the past voted Labour but are indicating support for the SNP in the forthcoming election especially those living in poor west of Scotland schemes..

  45. @ RMJ1,

    But you get “tired of” or “sick of” things, you don’t get “tired with” them, and you only get “sick with” them if they’re a virus. Shouldn’t boredom be parallel?

    @ Barney,

    While Labour’s plans in Scotland are a mystery to me and perhaps to themselves, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that the chap who turned a Conservative seat into a safe Labour seat might have been elected leader over more leftwing candidates because the party seeks to woo voters to its right rather than its left. This is not some kind of crazy SNP propaganda, it’s a plausible analysis of the situation.

    It may be incorrect- you’d know better than we would- but there’s no reason to assume it’s mendacious.

  46. Spearmint
    J Murphy has spelled out his plans repeatedly so no need for puzzlement. If you google Jim Murphy news you will get as I just did lots of headlines about contacting yes voters. And if you read on the reports you will see it is This has been his message since day one.
    And he would be pretty silly if he did prioritise anything else. There are not that many Conservative tactical voters. I mentioned earlier that in Aberdeen, one of the richest cities in the UK, there are two Conservative councillors.

  47. Is it ReutersandDaisie now?


  48. @OLD NAT
    Your suggestion regarding the test of certain long held assumptions, is a very good one. I have often wondered about at least one of them.

  49. The big 3 fighting might work against them, and ukip, greens, SNP, PC, might benefit.

  50. New Statesman reporting Labour is willing to chsnge position on Trident for deal with SNP. I have often thought Ed closer to Nicola than to Murphy.

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