14 weeks to go

Week four of the year we had the regular YouGov, Ashcroft and Populus polls, the first ComRes telephone poll of the year and the first 2015 GB poll from Survation – the first in a regular series for the Daily Mirror.

YouGov/S Times (23/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Survation/Mirror (25/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 30%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 23%, GRN 3%
Populus (25/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (25/1/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 9%
ComRes/Indy (25/1/15) – CON 31%, LAB 30%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 17%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (26/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (27/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (28/1/15) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (29/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
Populus (29/1/15) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 14%, GRN 4%

The polls this week continued to show an extremely tight race – every single poll had the two main parties within one point of each other, and unlike last week there were slightly more polls with the Tories ahead than with Labour ahead. The UKPR average though still has figures of CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(-1), as Opinium and ICM polls from last week are still contributing towards the average. For anyone interested in the differences between some of the polls from different companies, I explored them in this post earlier this week.

Welsh polls

There were also two Welsh voting intention polls out this week, the regular YouGov/ITV/University of Cardiff poll and an ICM poll for the BBC. Westminster voting intention figures for the two polls were:

ICM/BBC – CON 21%, LAB 38%, LDEM 7%, Plaid 12%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
YouGov/ITV – CON 23%, LAB 37%, LDEM 6%, Plaid 10%, UKIP 16%, GRN 8%

Week four

  • At the beginning of the week there was a lot of froth about UKIP’s NHS policy and the Green party’s policies on membership of extremist groups and a citizen’s income. It’s unlikely that either will make much difference for the simple fact that most people have no idea at all about what their policies are on such issues. For UKIP, the majority of people think they have at least a fairly good idea of what sort of approach they would take on immigration and Europe, but on other subjects people draw a blank. For the Green party 54% think they’ve got some idea what the Green party would do on the environment, but on everything else at least three quarters know nothing. It doesn’t necessarily stop people backing them, as broad perceptions of a party’s values, principle and competence are far more important than specific policies anyway. I suspect that maybe even more the case for parties who have no realistic chance of getting a majority and putting said policies into action.
  • As we passed the 100 days to go mark both Labour and the Conservatives put out new policies, Labour on the NHS, the Conservatives on welfare benefits. The Conservatives headline pledge to reduce the benefit cap to £23,000 was supported by 61% to 25% (including amongst Labour voters), even though people didn’t think it made people look for work. The idea of stopping housing benefit for young people was more divisive – 42% supported the idea, 40% opposed it.
  • The NHS is generally a rock solid issue for Labour anyway – last week they had a thirteen point lead over the Tories on which party people thought would handle the issue the best. Welfare benefits is actually much more contested ground, in the same poll 28% of people thought Labour would handle the issue the best, 28% of people thought the Conservatives would handle the issue the best.


The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. All are still predicting a hung Parliament, though Election Forecast and May2015 have the Conservatives catching up with Labour after a week of close polls.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 282(-1), LAB 280(+2), LD 24(+1), SNP 40(-1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 283(+5), LAB 285(-1), LD 27(-1), SNP 32(-2), UKIP 2(-1)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 280(+11), LAB 280(-9), LD 24(-3), SNP 38(nc), UKIP 5(+1)

299 Responses to “14 weeks to go”

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  1. I really find the thought of a Lab & SNP coalition utterly repulsive when it wouldn’t have an English majority. Anybody else feel this? Also, it’s as cynical as it gets, as the two parties can’t stand each other.

  2. Rich

    I agree. Fortunately so will the electorate as your view is increasingly projected.

    Now wait for the partisan users of this site start a defence.

  3. @ AW

    Thanks again for providing a great framework for thinking about the latest phase of the election campaign.

    Following the update in your polling average batch, I am now in a position to update my analysis of VI trends [1]. (I base the current snapshot on the polling data included in each of the successive batches). My contention is that this is a more robust approach than using arbitrary averages or even relying on graphs, and certainly better than building narratives on the basis of individual polls. Others will take different views on this.

    There has been a good deal of commentary about the individual polls this last week, and – albeit a bit belatedly – my trend analysis confirms that there have been statistically reliable changes in Tory VIs relative to established 2014 trends – a change also reflected, as you say, in some of the seat projections out there.

    Of the 20 Polls, 14 had Tory VIs above the projected trend and 6 below it. For Labour there was again no change. (The corresponding tallies were 12 and 8). In addition, all three smaller UK-wide parties showed departures from long-term trends. The LibDems were again polling above trends (16 above, 4 below) and for the first time this was also true of the Greens (14 above, 6below). Also, for the fourth time over five batches UKIP support was below trend (just 4 above trend and 16 below).

    The table below summarises the analyses conducted using the last five batches posted on the UKPR Polling Average page on roughly the following dates: 23 Dec, 8 Jan, 16 Jan, 23 Jan and today (30 Jan).

    Date: 23 8 16 23 30
    Conservatives: = = + = +
    Labour: + = = = =
    LibDems: ? = = = + +
    UKIP: – – = – –
    Greens: = = = = +
    SNP: To follow in a separate comment

    [1] These analyses compare Party VI level with what the figures were predicted to be on the basis of linear regression analyses I conducted in late November. To the extent that new figures cluster around the same straight lines, we have a good idea where things will be by May 7. Departure from the trend (e.g., for the Tories) does not in itself signal a VI rise. It may merely indicate a levelling off in the rate of decline. Note that none of this denies that the Labour/Tory margin is narrowing. This is exactly what has been happening throughout the last year. It is just that the pace of gap-narrowing is pretty well ‘as expected’ (barring the very recent Tory VI trend change). If the Tory stalls at all, we may still be on track for Labour to emerge with most seats on May 7. Further careful tracking will be required in the coming weeks.

  4. Unicorn

    Very impressive !

  5. @ Unicorn

    Corrections to messed up Table.

    (1) HTML seems to have interpreted my abbreviated string of dates as a telephone number. Just read this as referring to the five batch dates.

    (2) the question-mark at the beginning of the LD symbol list shoudn’t be there.

  6. @Rich @Penn

    It’s called democracy. Why does someone governing the UK have to have plurality of English votes or seats (incidentally I think Labour will get both anyway)?

    What about how the Tories governed Scotland for so long without a Scottish majority in UK elections?

  7. RICH & PENN
    You are both right, Labour and SNP would last about 50 seconds in some kind of coalition.

    Population Scotland 3.7 million. Population England 60 million.
    Does that have any impact on democracy? Your view of democracy is about what is expected of your political view.

  8. @RAF

    Abraham Lincoln governed over all the southern states without receiving a single vote there, doesn’t make it right, or wrong, just is

  9. @Roland

    But it’s not an England election. It’s a UK one. Whoever gets the most seats across the UK is the largest party.

  10. Penn

    I agree. Fortunately so will the electorate as your view is increasingly projected.
    Now wait for the partisan users of this site start a defence.”

    Good job we can rely on non- partisan members of this site like you and Rich to be completely unbiased then and tell the objective truth.

  11. I’ll just sit back and watch the Eng Nats & Brit Nats squabble among themselves. :-)


    Thanks for the summary. Just 13 more of these summaries to write.

  12. “I really find the thought of a Lab & SNP coalition utterly repulsive when it wouldn’t have an English majority.”

    I scanned all of Anthony’s post a second time and couldn’t fathom how it managed to get you posting that. Especially when the Conservatives are predicted with the most seats, and Cameron gets first go at forming a government.

  13. @Rich, Penn and Roland

    It’s fascinating that this prospect upsets people so much.

    There are two separate issues you seem to be conflating here.

    Firstly the question of a government failing to have a majority of English seats. This presumably is equally a problem whether the lack of English majority is caused by Labour MPs in Scotland or the SNP.

    I can understand this disquiet, although Scots have a reasonable counter in their having had to frequently live with governments that fail to have a majority of Scottish MPs.

    The answer to this problem is probably an English parliament with control over domestic matters rather than getting upset by the presence of Scots MPs.

    The second question though is why specifically the prospect of the SNP upsets people? I find this more difficult to understand. It can’t just be the prospect of MPs from the other side of the political spectrum as Labour are fairly similar from a UK level policy perspective.

    I’m genuinely interested as to why you find the idea of SNP MPs in government more upsetting than Scottish Labour MPs?

  14. Norbold
    Unicorn’s response was a great rebuff. Fight partisan people with detail and they will soon crawl back under. Or they might stay , do a bit of research to support their input, like our lovely Colin, and get heard.

  15. Northumbrianscot

    11 LDs and David Mundell from Scotland in the current Coalition doubtless caused them equal concern.

  16. The desperate fight to divide and rule might
    Just strengthen a resolve to be ourselves and have the confidence to grow with our allies. I make it a rule to believe the opposite if whatever spews from News TV

  17. @OldNat

    I’m not a “nat” of anything. I’m just pointing out that we will be electing a government for the UK – not for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

    As you know I’m also a UK federalist for pragmatic reasons, not because I have any problems with any country within the UK wanting by referendum to break away.

    I also find some of the discussion tonight rather odd. Let’s say the Tories pick up more seats than Labour in England; in all probability it will only be a few more. And there is more of a gulf politically between the South of England and the North, than between The North and Scotland. Basically the argument appears to be that Southern England matters more than anyone else.

  18. “Rich – I really find the thought of a Lab & SNP coalition utterly repulsive. ”

    “Penn – I agree. Fortunately so will the electorate as your view is increasingly projected.

    Now wait for the partisan users of this site start a defence ”


    Excellent! I’ve always enjoyed satire.

  19. Glad there’s a new thread. Chance to get away from all that nonsense about scarves.

    Not sure why the SNP participating in a coalition should be quite so offensive. It would be a bit more understandable had those expressing that view been campaigning hard for Scotland not to retain it’s MP’s at Westminster, but they seemed quite keen on the idea of the union.

    Presumably this is a case of supporting the union, but only if it elects the people you want.

    I think Greece is going to fascinating to watch. The new government really might not want to leave the euro, but even if they do, they wouldn’t say so. The EZ leaders are bullish that they can contain any contagion, and might actually believe this, but wouldn’t tell us if they didn’t believe it.

    The EZ as a whole is falling deep into defIation, and I suspect Greece may well find some level of support in the other southern nations that are being broken on the anvil of Germanic fiscal righteousness.

    While I never actually claimed that the EZ would break by 2015, others on here were adamant that it wouldn’t, but I do wonder if there is a bit less certainty on this issue now.

  20. I mean, anyone would think Scotland was still part of the United Kingdom or something. Bloody cheek.

  21. RAF

    I was being humorous! Apologies if I caused offence.

  22. @Alec

    Re the EZ – Germany has a decision to make. It can be pragmatic and create a better Euro and EZ in the process or it can see it crash and burn. I don’t see the political case for an inner core EZ.

  23. @OldNat

    I know. I see Andy Murray is British again!

  24. Just looking again at those Welsh polls Anthony posted, having previously lived there for a number of years many moons ago, I find it amazing on two counts –

    Firstly, UKIP polling above Plaid.

    Secondly, Labour polling below 40 % .

    Have these phenomena been constant for a while?

  25. Morfsky

    Have a look at Roger Scully’s analysis of Welsh polling.


  26. @OldNat

    I take the (humorous) point on the 12 / 59 coalition MPs but as I said I do have genuine sympathy at the prospect of England having a government on English domestic matters that does not have a majority of English MPs.

    This is worse than the current situation for Scotland and more reminiscent of the Scottish situation in the 1980s / 1990s, with Michael Forsyth busily running his domestic policy fiefdom on a wafer thin political mandate.

    That we can (hopefully) all agree was wrong.

    The answer however is not to complain about Scots MPs but to demand a separate English parliament (preferably elected on PR). If I were still living in England I’d also be demanding some level of regional devolution to better deliver services like the NHS, Transport and Education at a more appropriate (and responsive) political unit than the whole of England.

    What I find odd is people blaming Scottish MPs for the lack of devolved institutions in England when the blame surely lies with a combination of English voters (for not demanding it) and English MPs (for not offering it).

    Maybe it’s just easier to say it’s all the SNP’s fault?

  27. I do love these “The People won’t Stand for It” posts.

    As Anthony pointed out most people don’t even know what the Parties policies are including the one they vote for.

    I am sure that Daily Mail readers will froth a bit if their is a Lab/SNP to govern but to be honest beyond sites like this the vast majority of Britain’s 60m+ population won’t be bothered.

    They’ll complain much more if the Government does something they don’t like but they would do that for any Government.

    It’s like calls for English devolution, it’s fairly topical but if you look for salience constitutional change and local devolution rarely make the top 10.


  28. @AW
    I think the seat numbers for Lab and Con from Election Forecast are the wrong way round – should it be Lab 285 vs Con 283?

    The SDLP leader is predicting a Lab-SDLP-SNP coalition with MPs from all 4 parts of the UK.

  29. New definition update.

    Any coalition of political parties that prevents the Tories from being in government is:


    *delete as appropriate.

  30. Battmobile

    I agree and nowt to delete.

  31. Northumbrianscot

    “I do have genuine sympathy at the prospect of England having a government on English domestic matters that does not have a majority of English MPs.”

    As do I and (polling suggests) most Scots,

    If the English Nationalists could be bothered to organise, campaign and work for an independent state, that would be fine.

    If they want a federal/confederal UK that would probably match the aspirations of many in all four nations.

    If they simply want devolved status, then that would be their choice. It would actually make far more sense for Income Tax to be devolved to England as well as the other nations, topped up as required from UK taxation and borrowing, to fund their domestic affairs.

    Expenditure on genuine UK matters could be funded from the remaining 70% of taxation.

  32. @SWebb

    Yes – the EF projection is as follows:

    Lab 285
    Con 283
    SNP 32
    LD 27
    DUP 8
    SDLP 3
    Ukip 2
    PC 1
    Green 1
    Others 8.

    Curious that SF is grouped with Others. This must be because it is expected they will not take their seats.


  33. @ Swebb

    “I think the seat numbers for Lab and Con from Election Forecast are the wrong way round.”

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. Your figures are correct at 11.30 pm. But I know for certain that the seat tallies were different earlier today. I see that their most recent update was a little after 4pm, and it my be that Anthony took a record before then. Their output is liable to change each time they introduce new polling data, and so you would have to record the time of day in order to be completely precise in reporting their projections.

  34. @crossbat

    You missed out the full text of “unpatriotic”, as quoted by Bob Dylan in Motorpsycho Nightmare:

    “”unpatriotic rotten doctor Commie rat”.”

    According to our esteemed friends Rich, Penn, et al, non-Tories probably beat their wives and roger their daughters as well.

  35. Raf
    Basically the argument appears to be that Southern England matters more than anyone else.

    I hear that’s going to be in the Tory manifesto.

  36. The previous discussion of scarves was much better natured than this thread is turning out to be.


  37. RICH
    “I really find the thought of a Lab & SNP coalition utterly repulsive when it wouldn’t have an English majority. Anybody else feel this? Also, it’s as cynical as it gets, as the two parties can’t stand each other”

    It’s reading comments like this and the endless barrage of stuff from PRESSMAN on how his media empire was going to bring down EM at any cost that has got me on the verge of wanting to see EM in number 10.

    I rather suspect the SNP would be more welcome in Liverpool than the Tories.

  38. Oldnat
    The scarf discussion was probably the best one I’ve seen here.

  39. RAF

    PC down to 1 MP? Must be a drop in the number of Welsh speakers!

  40. @ Unicorn
    I check the site every day – they typically update around 5pm. The first comment on this latest thread was around 9:45 pm so I suspect Anthony drafted this thread after 4 or 5 pm. I took a note of the Election Forecast figures around 2pm today so I’ll be able to check – I’m pretty sure Anthony has got them the wrong way round.

  41. @RAF
    Yes that would be my understanding.
    The others in Election Forecast are made up of:

    Sinn Fein 5
    Alliance 1
    Independent 1 (Lady Hermon – North Down)
    The Speaker

    I would prefer the Speaker to be included in the Con figure and the other 3 to be shown separately.

  42. @ Allen Christie

    I think you would get a rather short bet on that one. It isn’t worth the bet.

    But UKIP would also be more welcome in Liverpool than the Tories, and perhaps even more than SNP (shame really if I think of the origins of the Scouse accent), which is quite frightening not in terms of polling (Labour will take all the seats with lowest majority in Wavertree) but in terms of social attitude.

  43. @N’scot “I’m genuinely interested as to why you find the idea of SNP MPs in government more upsetting than Scottish Labour MPs?”
    I can only tell you why I find the possibility of a Labour SNP coalition distasteful.
    The SNP’s basic policy is independence for Scotland (correct me if I am wrong), but in last year’s referendum the Scottish people voted by a reasonably large majority that Scotland should not be an independent nation. Now, if the SNP gains say 30+ Scottish seats in Westminster and is invited into a coalition with one of the major parties with say 280 seats, then some of its most prominent members (presumably those holding firmly to the idea of withdrawal from the UK) will gain appointment to be Ministers of the Crown heading Departments of State in a state they do not believe in. I do not think this is a good position.

    I have no objection to duly elected SNP MPs speaking against and voting down any measures by the UK Government which they think against Scotland’s interests – ie against the interests of their constituents. But I do not believe that they should be in a position to develop UK Government policy from within the cabinet. If they are offered such a possibility, the fault lies with the major party offering it, and if they are an honourable party they will decline and offer nothing better than confidence and supply. Because their overall constituency is limited to Scotland’s 3.7 million voters their share of the overall UK popular vote cannot be more than 6% and more likely to be less than 4%. It is quite possible that a party in the UK may gain approaching 20% of the popular vote, yet win no seats in parliament, so that 1 in 5 voters are left with no representatives able to directly influence policy, nor even speak against it in parliament
    Such problems could be addressed by making Commons MPs more directly responsible to their constituencies (no whips, and no ‘carrot’ of ministerial office for MPs) thus separating the Executive from the Commons which would have the tasks of criticising legislation, withholding supply to prevent its passage and holding Ministers to account – but that is unlikely to happen in 2015.

    Study the voting in Wales during the election of MEPs last year, and you may be less surprised.

  44. @ Dave

    I understand your frustration, but most of the post is a Slippery slope argument. You keep on redefining what democracy is.

  45. Re the accuracy of pre-electoral VI polls:
    In Greece just before last Sunday’s GE, VI polls have been published by 15(!) institutes. Their average (“poll of polls”) was as follows (in brackets the real result of the GE).
    SYRIZA 35.7 (36.3)
    ND 29.6 (27.8)
    RIVER 6.6 (6.1)
    GD 6.2 (6.3)
    KKE 5.3 (5.5)
    PASOK 5.0 (4.7)
    Ind. Gr. 3.7 (4.8)
    As one can see, all results are within MOE.
    As far as individual pollsters are concerned, the most “successful” was PRORATA, a minor polling company working for the left-wing radio station “Kokkino” (Red) whose predictions were: SYRIZA 36 / ND 27.5 / RIVER 7.5 / GD 6.5 / KKE 6 / PASOK 5.5 / IG 4. This company predicted with remarkable accuracy both the SYRIZA lead and the vote share of the two main parties. As far as the smaller parties are concerned, there are some slight discrepancies, but nothing spectacular, given the very tight race for places 3-7. For the first time in Greek electoral history, 5 political parties are very close to each other, the difference between the 3d and the 7th being only 1.5%!

  46. Oh, “understand” doesn’t equal “agree”.

    But I do think that if the votes more or less follow the polls, then a constitutional change (at long last) will be inevitable. It would be the best for the nations (or even regions) of the UK and also for the federalises.

  47. I’m not sure why people are so certain that Naomi Long will hold her seat. She didn’t have that much of a lead over the DUP in 2010, and her win can be seen as a protest vote against the scandals going on in Peter Robinson’s family life at the time.

  48. NorthumbrianScot – “I’m genuinely interested as to why you find the idea of SNP MPs in government more upsetting than Scottish Labour MPs?”

    The difference between the SNP and Labour is roughly the same as the difference between UKIP and the Conservatives. Both the SNP and UKIP seem like populist chancers who will say anything to get votes.

    I mean take the referendum – apart from all the fairy-tales about the oil price (against everything the industry analysts were saying, and now shown up by real events), there was also the issue about the currency. You can kinda sorta understand why Greek politicians in the 90’s thought that being in a currency they didn’t control would not be a problem, but no-one today would think such a thing. But the SNP were promoting just this – under the guise of “anti-austerity”, when it would have resulted in Super Austerity. Are they just daft, or did they think, we’ve got to tell people what they want to hear to get a Yes, and if it works out badly who cares, they won’t be able to do a thing about it as it will be too late. There is something very Farage about them. They have in common the “blame the other” tactic too (London or Brussels, it’s always someone else’s fault).

    If you still don’t understand the disquiet caused by the idea of them in a coalition just ask yourself how you would feel about a coalition between UKIP and the Conservatives – and that’s the feeling in a nutshell.

  49. @candy

    You may not have noticed but the SNP have been in government in Scotland for several years. UKIP on the other hand…..

  50. @Candy

    There is one rather large difference between the ‘populist chancers’ of Ukip and that of the SNP (other than the SNP being left-centerist). It is that Ukip has never formed a government, whilst the SNP has formed a government for nearly eight years in Scotland. Oddly enough, the Scots like those ‘chancers’ even better now than when they were first elected back in 2007. Funny that.

    The SNP has a rather large record to judge them by and it might be a good idea to judge them by that.

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