This evening’s daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%

After a couple of days with the Greens equal or ahead of the Liberal Democrats, today’s poll has them behind. These little variations between one poll and the next are mostly irrelevant of course, the broader picture remains that YouGov show the Greens and Lib Dems essentially equal, but that’s because YouGov tend to show some of the highest support for the Greens and some of the lower figures for the Lib Dems. TNS and Ashcroft have also shown the Greens in fourth place, but other companies are still show them consistently behind the Liberal Democrats.

On that issue, today OfCom published their consultation on which parties should be treated as major parties at the general election – more specificially, they are classifying UKIP as a major party along with the usual big three, but not the Greens. This has been widely reported through the prism of the leaders debates, but I think that’s missing the bigger point – the debates will or won’t go ahead depending on the political realities of what the broadcasters can get the leaders to agree to. The more important impact is probably that broadcasters are required to give due weight to all the major parties in their editorial coverage come the election campaign, so UKIP are now ensured an appropriate level of TV coverage, the Greens less so.

From this blog’s point of view it’s also interesting because the polling plays such a role in OfCom making their decision. It’s not one I envy. In making their decision OfCom take into account both past support and current support. In the past this must have been a comparatively easy exercise for OfCom – there were clearly two and a bit main parties (Con, Lab and LD) and this was always the same for both past and current party support. The difficulty now is that past and current support are different – in the last two elections the main parties were clearly Con, Lab and LD. In the last couple of years opinion polls have put UKIP as clearly the third most popular party, with the Liberal Democrats in fourth place and the Greens advancing. One can easily see how the Lib Dems would qualify as a major party on their past support, how UKIP could qualify through their recent support in polls and in local elections, and how the Greens could fall between two stools. It still just draft guidance of course, the consultation is open until next month.

165 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 33 LAB 33 LD 8 UKIP 13 GRN 7”

1 2 3 4
  1. Anthony,

    good analysis.

    I agree that LDs have a defensive claim and UKIP have a momentum claim.
    Greens can’t claim either, so will end up sidelined in te coverage, not just the debate.

    On the other hand, this may force them to mount targeted purely local campaigns, which could win them a couple of seats.

  2. @ Anthony

    It’s relevant to this whole debate that different pollsters have wildly different ratings… Is it not reasonable to have a prominent-ish reminder of who in the ballpark at recent elections and who wasn’t even in the game in 2010? I’m not just talking about the Greens here…

  3. Ratings as in VI, just to be clear

  4. @Number Cruncher

    Add to that the very real possibility as the Ukip vote has fallen of late that this trend may continue and they may end up at around 10% or so at the next election. If so and the greens ate on 6/7%, Ofcom’s decision to award Ukip major party status (if confirmed) would be considering a party with 10% and 2 seats, to be substantially more important than a party with 6% and 1 seat.

    As I said earlier in the evening, neither party has established themself as a major UK party for GE purposes and will not be able to do so, at least not before the votes have been counted in May.

  5. @ RAF

    I’m going to steer clear of the debate about debates, but I’ll repeat my prediction that the Green VI will go up further.

    Re UKIP I agree that they seem to be slipping – 13 and a 14 in the four polls this year doesn’t look like a blip. *If* UKIP support does drain, the question is, who does it help? They have more 2010 Tories and 2010 Labour, but the 2010 Labour voters came to them more recently, so might not have ‘stuck’?

  6. I did a YouGov poll this afternoon, and not only was I asked the standard VI question, I was also asked to confirm (change?) that VI based on a second Ashcroft-type “in this constituency” question.

    So if you’re there AW, have you done any testing with separate control groups to establish whether the response to the “in this constituency” question is no different whether it’s asked after the standard VI question as opposed to being the first question asked?

  7. I think the Greens on evens to get less than 4% at the GE is pretty good value still:
    – it’s a UK wide figure, not GB
    – they’re bound to get squeezed in any marginal constituency
    – they won’t be fielding candidates in every GB constituency by a long way
    – Individual Electoral Registration is going to play havoc with their core support amongst under 25 year olds

  8. While the Greens must be disappointed with the Ofcom decision, they are continuing to get fantastic publicity out of it. Perhaps we’ll see a couple of double figure poll results for them next week on the back of all the publicity? It also seems possible that they may have moved more unambiguously into 4th place in the polling by May, if current trends continue.

    Whatever happens in the polling between now and May, I understand that it is a near certainty that the total membership of the Green Party of England and Wales and Scottish Greens will shortly overtake the membership firstly of UKIP and then of the Lib Dems. Indeed, on current trends, the GPEW might even manage this on its own by May. I wonder if Ofcom takes membership figures into account? If so, they might want to remember that the SNP are now easily the UK’s third largest party by membership.

    Overall though, it seems clear that the whole major/minor party classification is no longer fit for purpose. Rather, the UK now has two major parties and several medium sized ones.

  9. UKIP support increases when the party is in the news. Over Christmas, apart from silly stories about website crashes, it has not been. Chiefly what puts UKIP in the news is attacks on the party, on Nigel Farage and on other candidates, including defectors.
    The way in which the other parties have attempted to deal with their UKIP problem shows a great lack of political nous which raises questions about their fitness to govern (or run whelk stalls)
    The other things that have put UKIP in the news at particular times in the past two years are their publicity campaigns for major elections, and the numbers who have then voted for them.
    Being regarded as a major party by OfCom will ensure media coverage, which if I am right about its effect, will increase support.

  10. It will be interesting to see what the decision on UKIP from Ofcom will have in Scotland.

    The SNP complained that in the Euros in Scotland UKIP got more coverage than the SNP even though they were the Government with nearly 50% of the vote while they were polling less than10% in Scotland.

    I can see the Scottish government getting upset if Ofcoms decision sees more UKIP coverage in Scotland than the SNP!


  11. OfCom really needs to modernise its party classification process. Today’s publication shows just how flawed it is. There are not two tiers of parties in British politics any more, and regulating the media as if there are is undemocratic and pro-establishment. I’m not opposed to their classification of the Greens as not a major party. They aren’t, although they’re getting closer. I strongly oppose a classification that doesn’t distinguish them from any other minor party, though. Their findings could very well be out of date in a few months, anyway; there’s no sign of the green rise stopping.

  12. If I were the Greens responding to that consultation I would send this poll in

    For each political party please tell me which of the following statements is true.

    I might vote for them
    Conservative 44%
    Labour 60%
    LD 38%
    Green 43%
    UKIP 34%

    43% puts it nearly level with the Tories and above Lib Dems and UKIP, so the answer is clear, voters may vote for them, and need to hear their policies to make up their minds.

    Add that poll that Roger linked to that shows the public want the Greens in the debates, and that makes it quite clear they are a major party.

  13. Luke

    “Rather, the UK now has two major parties and several medium sized ones.”

    Good point – though it might be even more refined to “GB has 2 major parties”, as opposed to “UK”.

    What might make more sense in today’s political environment is to abandon the archaic Stamp Duty style “slab” [1] labelling into major/minor/who? parties, and replace the PPB allocations by a sliding scale.

    As far as party leader debates are concerned, a consumer interest test needs to be applied. It is not sufficient that existing beneficiary parties and broadcasters make the decisions in their own selfish interests.

  14. Phil –
    Evens that the Greens get under 4% doesn’t seem terrible odds, but not great either. Before you place that bet, bear in mind that they plan to stand in over 75% of GB seats, and have candidates already selected in 50% of GB seats (which is currently more than the Lib Dems). Also while Greens certainly do better in GB, there is a Green party in Northern Ireland too.

  15. Peter Cairns (SNP)

    It will be interesting to see what the decision on UKIP from Ofcom will have in Scotland.

    Anthony didn’t make it clear, but UKIP have only been awarded major party status for England and Wales, not for Scotland (or indeed Northern Ireland where they do put up candidates).

    The real problem arises about what to do with GB/UK-wide coverage.

  16. @ Richard – “If I were the Greens responding to that consultation I would send this poll in

    Already done so myself – wrote quite the reply.

    Anyway, it should be very interesting to see how this news affects the polls, if at all. Like UKIP, any publicity is probably going to be good publicity for the Greens. Not being classed as a major party could discourage voters and ease the trend, but I think it’s probably more likely that in the public eye, the result of the consultation will be more or less irrelevant in comparison to there being a result in the media spotlight at all. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a temporary rise in Green support over the next few days, although I certainly wouldn’t expect anything permanent from this.

  17. @Number Cruncher

    I would have been more convinced by your Swingback chart had it included the data for 2001 annd 2005. Beyond that I believe that the data from 1959 -1979 would have pointed much less clearly to the conclusion you have alluded to. Even in 1987 , however, the Tory lead was higher a month before Polling day than on election day itself. As it stands, the data seems a little self-selected!.
    The fact remains that in terms of the final month leading up to Polling Day the Government party has tended to lose ground to the Opposition as shown by 1959 – 1964 -1966 – 1970 – Feb 1974 – Oct 1974 – 1987 – 2001 – 2005 – 2010.

  18. David Cameron called the Lib/Dems a minor party.

    Anyway current polling suggests the SNP may well have the 3rd largest amount of MP’s after the GE so not having the SNP on the debates is ludicrous but then UKIP are on course to win the 3rd largest amount of votes so should they be called up?

    Realistically there are only two people who are likely to become PM, DC and EM so why don’t they have two debates with just both of them scrutinising one another and in Scotland and Wales it can be up to the main party leaders there to hold their own debates and in the English regions they can also have debates involving all four main parties in England plus the Lib/Dums.

  19. It’s pathetic that parties struggling to maintain 30 % vote share are regarded as ” major ” by a typical Westminster Village quango.

    It says so much about Westminster’s view of democracy in the 21st century and will only serve to boost the Greens . There’s a lot of people out there under 65 who feel the need to engage but see no point .

  20. @MOG (end of previous thread)

    Not 100% certain yet, will decide nearer the time, hopefully after debates and manifesto synopses. Could be Green, LD or Lab. As Newcastle E is a Lab cert it is not critical. Based on Euro election broadcasts and what I have read and heard since, it is likely to be Green. However, in the unlikely event of a leftish LD manifesto, I might just return to give them my vote although I could not see myself rejoining the party even though I still support them in local elections. If it was to be a two horse race between Con and Lab (never in a million years)) then the vote would go to Lab.

  21. I think it is fair to say there are four tiers of parties:
    -Primary (Con/Lab)
    -Secondary (LD/UKIP/possibly Green)
    -Regional Primary (SNP/PC)
    -Minor (most others)

    There’s a good case to argue for including the first three in the relevant debates (SNP/PC in their respective regions and the others nationally)…though classifying the Greens is tricky (their national support is still light, relatively speaking, but they have one MP):
    -If you classify by having an MP and some semblance of a presence beyond a localiity, then Respect arguably qualifies.
    -If you argue by sheer polling support, it’s possible to disqualify both the Greens and LDs.

    Anyhow…it’s pretty clear that UK has, at least for the moment, gone from a system that is “two and a half parties” to something that is more properly “two major parties and several smaller ones”.

  22. The BBC is funded by a compulsory tax and should remember that more often .

  23. @Gray I think the Two and a Half Party system is temporarily broken. If it does not sort itself out in a cycle or two there will have to be a shift to PR. No true FPTP system can maintain itself with the two biggest parties getting under two thirds combined. The only example is Inda where multiple parties organize themselves into formal pre-electoral alliances.

    I agree with Chasglas, it is kind of pathetic to call any party that is polling below one third of the votes a major party. In a PR system, OK. But in a FPTP system? Maybe none of them should be invited to the debate.

  24. Today’s YG – proving the wisdom of not relying on a single cross-break!

    Sco – SNP 46% : Lab 24% : Con 17% : LD 6% : UKIP 5%.

  25. @Pthiers:
    Well, the issue is that without a relatively high threshold in place (or some other mechanism), straight PR tends to devolve into even more parties running around and some truly annoying coalition situations. The best example I can think of is the situation in Austria as of late (where the two “main” parties have been stuck in a coalition quite frequently for the last few decades, resulting in swelling piles of votes for other parties…the two main parties have been in a coalition since 2002 and have gone from 79% [low by historical standards but still a broad majority] to about 51%.

    This is a complicated discussion, but I do think there is something wrong when you have a situation where in the end, any party which cannot execute a reasonable proportion of its manifesto can simply put the blame to the coalition it had to form or when the main opposing parties end up joining together outside of a true crisis. I purposefully ignore situations like Belgium (complicated by an internal split and two similar, parallel party systems in the halves of the country), but PR has triggered rather anti-democratic results in many cases (Switzerland, Austria, arguably Germany with the recurring grand coalition). There are other forms of misfunction which come to mind (Israel until recently; with some luck, the raised threshold there will help things), though on the other end I have a problem with any system that triggers a guaranteed majority (as was the case in Italy in the lower house elections).

    In short, I’ve got a real problem with straight PR (or indeed, any system that requires a party to get 50% of the vote to be able to govern). Some sort of FPTP-reinforced PR might work: Though the party system is dysfunctional, Japan’s mix works pretty well for the purposes of generally getting a party a majority while not shutting out smaller parties entirely.

  26. I’m off to Westminster, Inc HQ for my tennis match with George Osborne and Danny Alexander. Before I go though, those two thirds of people who vote for the major parties are just idiots aren’t they? No way they could have made a rational choice, they must have been brainwashed by mainstream media bias.

    The above could have come from either of the parties in the spotlight yesterday.

  27. So the YouGov this week seem to show Lab and Cons just about level pegging. This is better news for the Tories than the last part of December when labour seemed to be back in lead.

  28. It’s heartening that AW highlights the key issue in Ofcom’s draft, that the Green voice will be shut out from the majority of the coverage not the debate.

    I think Ofcom is actually correct that the Greens are not (currently) as significant a party as the other four, and it would have been outrageous if UKIP were excluded.

    But the key issue is that Green POLICIES have widespread popularity, far exceeding the party’s popularity, and it is undemocratic for those views not to be properly aired during the campaign.

  29. The greens might seem like a fuzzy wuvvy choice that you can be proud saying you are voting for.

    But I think when people read the policies on the EU, the military and ending prisons for women.

  30. *they will be a little less welcoming towards them…

  31. OLDNAT
    Today’s YG – proving the wisdom of not relying on a single cross-break!
    Sco – SNP 46% : Lab 24% : Con 17% : LD 6% : UKIP 5%

    Swing back? ;-)

    So the YouGov this week seem to show Lab and Cons just about level pegging. This is better news for the Tories than the last part of December when labour seemed to be back in lead

    I think the polls are also showing that Labour’s negative attacks on the NHS are not working and I reckon that was their main election trump card so if the opposition can’t capitalize on what is probably the biggest single issue in England then they look like being a busted flush.

  33. @Skippy,

    The Green Party policy is that no women should be imprisoned except for serious or violent crimes, or if they are a threat to the public. Not especially controversial.

  34. All the parties described as major parties are pro-Austerty. It seems entirely wromg that the opposing viev is not to be promoted by PPCs or heard in the debates. What is the pount if the debate if alternative views are not represented on such a fundamental policy.

    The anti-Austerity parties SNP/PC/Greens have 9 WM sea and plenty of polling support so should be represented. It seems to be another establishment stitch-up. I wonder if a formal GE coalition would give them major party status and I wonder if they are exploring that option.

  35. I know we shouldn’t take much notice of cross breaks but todays YG is in line with current Scottish polling and gives the following seat projections. If anything it’s probably slightly on the lower end of current SNP VI





  36. @Chasglas

    “It’s pathetic that parties struggling to maintain 30 % vote share are regarded as ” major ” by a typical Westminster Village quango.”

    FPTP maintains the major status. Despite the paltry vote shares, albeit still 60%+ of all voters, they will hoover up about 85% of the parliamentary seats between them at the next election. Accordingly, in parliamentary terms, they remain the two major parties. It would be silly to regard them as anything else, even though the voter drain continues apace.

  37. @Etienne

    The Women for Independence group recently campaigned against building a new women’s prison in Scotland and have actually forced a rethink by the Scottish Government, they put put forward very strong srguments IMO and I think the SG may change their plans.

  38. The Green Party policy is that no women should be imprisoned except for serious or violent crimes, or if they are a threat to the public. Not especially controversial.
    That’s a sensible response to research which shows that women are imprisoned for less serious offences than men.

    It also costs more to imprison women who have children because their children’s carers have to be paid for whilst the women are in prison.

  39. @ Couper 2802

    Lots of women’s groups in Scotland are campaigning against that prison being built. There’s also a 38 degrees petition about it. I’m guessing you’ve signed it already. :-)

  40. I can quite understand why Cameron wants the Greens in the debate, without them the ‘Clegg-effect’ will go to Farage, with them the ‘Clegg-effect’ will go to Natalie Bennett.


    @ Richard re DKs chart 14

    Interesting comments re gender breakdown of don’t knows. Definitely worth further investigation.

    @ Unicorn re swingback charts 9&10

    It looks (I haven’t read the Fisher paper for a while) like his model is different from the chart in exactly the ways that you said – ie the amount of swingback in the last few months vs the year or so before that. So on that measure the Tories are underperforming, hence his downward revisions.

    @ Graham re swingback chart 10

    Two separate issues here. Yes, the lead over the final month can behave differently, but for now I’m just considering polling day vs e-5 (in this case December ’14). As for the years that aren’t included, ideally I’d have a separate chart showing all of the lines and then this one. But instances where the government was ahead aren’t that useful as comparisons with now, when it isn’t.

  42. @Amber Star

    I am not sure those petitions do any good but I do sign them.

  43. I mean, of course the Green Party do have policies that don’t win mainstream support. If all their policies were massively popular than they’d be polling above 7/8%.

  44. I have never been able to see in what context UKIP are a “major party” and the Greens are not.

    The Greens won an MP at a General Election. UKIP have never done that.

    Both have councillors.

    Both have won seats at the Euros.

    Thus either – or neither – should be represented on TV.

    And either – or neither – should be listed on the UKPR too!

  45. If they included the Greens becasue they have an MP, then presumably the delightful Mr Galloway would be asking for a ticket to the studio.

  46. Is Mr Galloway a political party with representation at local, national and European level then?

    I hadnt realised.

    If so, and if he is scoring 8% in the polls, then yes, he too should be there.

  47. Allan Christie

    My sentiments exactly, I’m feeling quite confident about my election prediction.

  48. @David In France

    UKIP won the Euros and they have a good deal more popular support than the Greens. I wish we didn’t live in a world where those things are true, but we do.

  49. Just read the article in the Telegraph about this issue, and it seems that perhaps rival party leaders could invite the Green party leader Natalie Bennett and effectively ignore whatever Ofcom says. Maybe even she could turn up uninvited and dare to make them turn her away?

    It might be considered strange that it is Ofcom who gets to choose which party is important enough to be heard.

1 2 3 4