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. No edit function here? I would have added it to my previous post, but I actually popped in to see if anyone knew what had happened to those Ashcroft constituency polls for Scotland I had heard were supposed to be out this week. I haven’t seen a thing. Does anyone know if they’re still expected?

  2. Nick Clegg was wonderful tonight on The Last Leg.

    Showed real gumption for a politican to go on what was basically a comedy ambush – and he pulled it off with aplomb.

    It’s noticeable how positive twitter is about him this evening – and it will be really intersting to see what happens, if anything, to his popularity rating.

  3. DAVE
    “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 don”t see why not. It might lead them to support a strong and universal NHS, including the melding of care and health services, and strong reform of the banks to serve local enterprise, both policies supporting a programme of subsidiarity while reducing the power and cost of a bureaucratic State. Chuck in retention and reform of the EU, including the single labour market, and the strengthening of universal and free access to education from pre-primary to higher education, and you have a programme which will suit both parties to a coalition.
    Living and working in Scotland, I recognise the vigour and value of the continued drive for independence and its cultural basis, which resides quite comfortably as far as I can see with acceptance, when shove came to push, that the country is better off economically and politically within the union. The referendum and its outcome continue to be great catalysts for progress towards a system which achieves that balance.

  4. TOH
    By the way, congratulations on your son’s professorship and your presence at his inaugural lecture. I feel sure that he must owe some of his success in that field to your deep concern with compost, though whether the link is genetic or nurture in origin noone – except perhaps he – is qualified to know.

  5. @Zack – completely agree, I haven’t seen such a widespread proclamation of support for a politician some time. Actually I think it might have been 2010. Who was that fellow, now…

    It was noticed, too. The #cleggleg hashtag not only topped UK trends, but was actually the third highest twitter trend *in the world* at one point.

    Goes to show two things –

    – the public are always more fickle than you think, and

    – never underestimate Nick Clegg(!)

    It will be interesting to see if his personal ratings shift, you’re right.

  6. Thanks Dave and Candy for your perspectives on why the SNP upset you.

    I can understand both your positions and suspect you’ll both be safe as it seems to be the executive element of SNP in a coalition that worries you most and I’m fairly sure they will only offer C&S to Labour.

    However it’s 99% likely that Independence won’t be a policy in the SNP manifesto (partly for the Constitutional reason that SNP policy is that the Scottish Parliament should make such decisions, partly for the practical “too soon” reason.)

    Therefore the concerns mainly boil down to the fact that they might support policies you don’t like. That’s a reasonable position to hold but not really a principled stand.

    I suspect a lot of Scots are like me, in the position of currently disagreeing with the SNP on its Constitutional raison d’être but our experience of them in Government has been positive so we’re relaxed about the prospect of them having power at Westminster too.

    For people who haven’t had that direct experience of positive government the prospect must be more concerning.

  7. @ Allan Christie. “PC down to 1”. I think my only comment on this is to follow Roger Scully rather than election forecast; there’s only 1 way the PC majority in Carmarthen East is going….. and it ain’t down

  8. Thanks Anthony.

    Great stuff as usual. Cuts through all the guff.


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

    Its a very interesting question.

    I think you first need to insert the words ” the UK” into your sentence , between “in” and “government” .
    Then I think that the answers to some thoughtfully constructed questions might be informative .

  10. ALEC

    @”The EZ as a whole is falling deep into defIation”

    A word replete with perceptions of disaster-which may be no such thing :-


  11. Wes,

    Definitely not all the use of that hashtag was supportive. But yes, it was very annoying to some of us for obvious reasons. I’m being interviewed by John Harris of the Graun in the near future. Maybe that’ll swing things back.

  12. @Laszlo I was not aware that I had defined democracy at all. I did indicate some different forms of rule through an elected parliament and problems arising, and hint at how I think the present system might be improved. As for democracy, I cannot see that it can be a good result if a party gains a significant role in the government of a nation of 60 million people when it submits its policies to only 4 million of them, and achieves that role only because more than half the remainder do not support the other larger party in the resulting partnership.


    Thanks John, but however hard I try I cannot link his work to compost.


  14. I posted the message going around on social media not my personal opinion. I didn’t know how to fully explain all the details of situation in my own words.

  15. @ J. R. Tomlin

    Re: Ashcroft constituency polls in Scotland

    In a commentary on a poll he published on Monday 29th Lord Ashcroft wrote:

    My constituency polling in Scotland, which will be released next week, will help to clarify this picture.

    Most – but not all – of his previous constituency batches have come out on Thursdays. So, Thursday Feb 5th is probably the best bet.

  16. @John P. An interesting and optimistic view. I wish I shared your optimism that those who I see as “holding firmly to the idea of withdrawal from the UK ” (as evidenced by the name of their party and some of their statements post-referendum) would in fact “accept when shove came to push, that the country is better off economically and politically within the union”.

    @N’Scot “they [SNP] might support policies you don’t like”. Most of the UK governments in my lifetime have supported (and implemented) policies that I didn’t like. They did this from the position of being elected, if not by a majority of the electorate, at least by gaining most support under the system in place. I think that the problems I indicated are not dependent on whether I think any of the parties involved will govern in the way I like, but on whether they have gained the right to govern at all. But then I do not think that devolved assemblies for a “united” kingdom are a good idea. As I see it they stem partly from politicians wishing for a somewhat smaller pond to get to be frogs in, but mainly from a general failure of good local government coupled with frustration at that failure and the disconnect between local government and national party politics.

    But explaining my position fully would need a book.

  17. Oh joy, another de facto Scottish thread!

    I have no particular views about the SNP being involved in UK government. They are a UK party and their MPs sit in the UK parliament. Seems reasonable to me. Noone raises similar issues about the NI Unionists.

    But I do think an SNP-supported Labour government would probably lead to some reduction in Labour support in at least some parts of England. Casual racism is a very easy fire to stoke.

  18. NEILA

    @”Casual racism”

    Last time I looked Scots were part of the same race as the rest of us:-the Human Race aka Homo sapiens sapiens.

  19. @Oldnat – “The previous discussion of scarves was much better natured than this thread is turning out to be.”

    Well, I did my best.

    I am reminded though of what my old Uncle Vanya used to say. He was a Russian emigre, and often quoted an old Russian saying – “Scarves are like haircuts – you never see a poor barber!”.

    But I am eternally grateful for his other sound advice. From way back when, in the days of my childhood, he used to tell us ‘Listen to your Uncle Vanya. Never, never, never invest in tartan scarves.

    People love them, people hate them – no one can ever agree on a tartan scarf. Remember your old Uncle Vanya – tartan scarves are toxic I tell you!’.

    I’ve stuck with his advice ever since.

  20. In an early comment on this thread I posted a comment updating trends for five of the parties .. but not including SNP.

    Like others, I have been battling to find some order in the rather dramatic SNP changes over the last year. Linear trends would probably have done quite a good job between January and August 2014. But then the referendum lifted their VI sharply. A new linear trend starting in August would have failed by November when the SNP surge seemed to top out.

    Linear trends can be likened to the movements of objects in deep space. In the absence of gravitational pull, they continue to move straight on in their current direction. Given the manifest failure of these accounts, I turned to treating the SNP VI trajectory rather like that of a ballistic missile – shooting up and returning to Earth under the influence of gravity.

    Without much conviction I described what I dubbed my ‘Mayfly’ trend model – posted at 12.17 pm on January 23rd:


    This used a quadratic equation to capture the rise and following levelling off the the SNP VI over the second half of last year. In essence this is a kind of Swingback model in that it posits that what goes up must come down. Indeed, the formula dictated that the fall should be just as sharp as the initial rise and – implausibly – the equation predicted that the SNP vote-share would fall to around 9% by May 7.

    I used the sobriquet ‘Mayfly’ because I didn’t expect this proposal to survive very long.

    Well, I have now carried out trend tests benchmarking against the Scottish crossbreaks in the last 10 YouGov polls and – surprise, surprise – the outcome is that the SNP VI is reliably abov the ballistic prediction. (Nine out of 10 of the polls were above trend, and most by quite a wide margin).

    So, the mayfly has died and I still don’t have any working account of the SNP trajectory.

    Perhaps the best suggestion – made by another UKPR contributor – is that we are dealing with a form of ‘punctuated equilibrium’. On this account the referendum changed everything and moved the SNP VI into a different gravitational orbit, with a new balance established after November. On this hypothesis the VI might be expected to remain stable until the election.

    This is not what Peter Kellner and other pundits expect, but who knows? Certainly not me as is evident from all these contortions.

  21. BM11

    I’d be gobsmacked if they were that stupid but then again…….

  22. Alec
    Your uncle Vanya may have known that Russia was the key market for tartan scarves. The highest quality product was produced in a mill in Keith which went bankrupt after the fall of the Soviet Union. Such scarves were status symbols in the USSR

  23. Unicorn

    Granted that there is little historical NI polling from the time, but the replacement of SDLP and UU by SF and DUP as the dominant parties within their respective communities does demonstrate that “significant events” can bring out these dramatic changes in party fortunes, and that they can last a long time.

  24. I’ve been having a little think about the Green Party, and their electoral prospects. I’ve come up with something I don’t think I’ve seen before.

    A lot of the present decent polling and increased membership for the GPEW has come from increased publicity leading to some people considering them for the first time, when previously they weren’t on the radar.

    But in areas where the Greens were already reasonably strong, people already know about them – Green candidates have been leafletting and doorknocking for years in Norwich, Bristol, Brighton. So when there’s all this hype, people in those places don’t look at them with interest, they stay just as aware of them as before.

    They may even, in those places with Green councillors, be able to compare the coverage to the reality.

    What this amounts to is a solid prediction on my part: the swing towards the Greens will be lower in their existing areas of strength than it will be in areas where they’ve previously done badly.


  25. @Bill Patrick – East Belfast
    Also last time it was the 3-way split of the Unionist vote and tactical voting from the small number of Nationalists in the constituency that handed her a narrow victory. There might be up to another 2000 votes for her in further tactical voting, but the DUP could be looking at anything up to 9000 extra votes this time. Long actually impressed many and her vote should hold up well but it would be astonishing if she wins again. Plus South Belfast is always precarious for the SDLP if the Unionist vote unsplits. I’d guess at least one of the seats will go Unionist in May.

  26. @Unicorn 10.38

    Thanks for you continuing efforts to come to terms with what is going on in Scotland. Much appreciated!

    FWIW, I believe that we need to remember two things:

    1. as pointed out by others above, the SNP has been in government in Scotland for some time now, and the Scots have not found the experience to be 100% negative; the level of trust for the SNP (insofar as any such thing is possible in politics!) has risen over the past few years, not in the sense that the SNP is trusted more than Labour but that it is now trusted as a possible alternative to Labour; Labour will be back in government in Scotland at some point, I do not doubt, but it seems to me that the SNP is here to stay because it offers an alternative understanding of Scotland which now makes sense to many Scots;

    2. if we go back 100 years we see in the years following the first world war a fundamental shift taking place on the left as the old Liberal Party gave way to the Labour Party. The Labour Party did not suddenly ‘arrive’ – it had been building up support for some time – but at some point there was a major change to voting patterns. My point is not that the SNP has replaced or will replace Labour in Scotland, but that over a relatively short period of time the voting patterns changed radically. It must have been as bewildering back then for those used to well known and trusted models as is the present situation to those who think of Scottish politics in pre-2007 terms.

    I don’t know if any of this is useful, but I offer it as a minor contribution to those who think about these things.

  27. Thomas,

    It may depend on the candidates, e.g. if the DUP pick a candidate who is acceptable to many Ulster Unionist voters.

  28. The Alliance have also done Naomi Long no favours with their policies on flegs and their recent tendency to have high-profile figures speak out in favour of a United Ireland. If they wanted to lose the liberal Unionist vote, they’ve done their best to alienate it.

  29. neil a

    I tend to agree with your post: the problem is that the increasingly and oddly fragmented nature of the four bits of the United Kingdom mean it is very easy for people to respond to the idea of a Lab/SNP coalition with “How would they like it if an English party joined in the government of Scotland in the Scottish parliament.

    Conveniently forgetting that that is not a possibility – but that thought will be aired I am sure.

    As things stand the SNP are not enormously different in nature to either Labour or Cons, both of which are unrepresented in rather large areas of the UK.

    The sahf east for Labour of course and, ironically for the Cons, Bonnie Scotland.

    I doubt there will be a formal coalition anyway and the only sensible solution will be for regions of England to have similar responsibilities to the Welsh and Scottish parliaments.

    Apart from making sense anyway it is also the only way to ensure that the dichotomy of Scotland being both a nation AND a region [smaller in population than many of the mooted English ones] is met and dealt with.

    And – as EM has suggested – such a solution is both long term and complex and the last thing required is a quick fix. It requires a lot of thought and planning in my view.

  30. @MrNameless

    You prediction is quite logical.

    There is probably some low hanging fruit to collect quite easily, and once a party’s VI rises, it get’s harder and harder to convince more voters as you approach a natural ceiling.

    For example, UKIP seem have a Westminster ceiling of about 17% -20% across the board.

    I would put Conservative and Labour at about maybe 38% ish.

    The Greens I would guess are about 10%.

  31. More importantly I have got so many scarves that I could open a scarf shop.

    Because I quite like the one or two I had everybody who has bought me a present for the last half-century has thought [without a lot of effoert I feel]

    “I know! I’ll get the miserable ole bugger a scarf – he likes those.”

    There are certainly enough to pay for my funeral – not that I have any intention of dying, it seems a rubbish idea.

  32. Unicorn

    Thanks for the punctuated equilibrium shoutout. There is nothing to stop a sharp move the other way, but it is not clear what might cause it before May.

  33. CMJ,

    I think it’s logical, but you can bet there’ll be all sorts of predictions from ill-informed pundits of enormous swings in Norwich South, Bristol West etc. Actually their biggest swings are likely to be in places they’ve done well since 2010 – Sheffield, Solihull, Liverpool.

    I broadly agree with your ceilings – I’d put UKIP and the big two a touch higher – 22% and 40% apiece.

  34. @CMJ

    Have you recently done any of your VI change analyses using 2010 ID? I am curious where the Ukip VI is going. You did post something suggesting that Tory-ID respondents who had recently aligned themselves with Ukip might now be drifting back to the Conservatives. But, if I remember correctly, that analysis was based on just two polls. Are you likely to post a fuller analysis any time soon?

  35. @ Statgeek

    I always find it informative to pore over your regional VI charts. Have you ever put the figures into a regionalised version of the UNS model? It is now common practice to handle Scotland (and sometimes Wales) in separate sub-models. But, as your charts clearly show, other regions (e.g., the ‘North’) have their own quite distinctive characteristics. It would be easy enough to put together a Uniform Regional Swing (URS) model that acknowledges variation other than that in Scotland and perhaps provides a more accurate picture of what is going on. Since you have all the raw material at your fingertips I wondered if you had given this a try.

  36. Australia have won the Asia Cup. Asia?

  37. @ John B

    Reasonable points, in my view. What causes difficulty is that in the past Scottish voters seemed to compartmentalise things and vote completely differently in UK and Holyrood elections. But now that separation seems to be gone.

  38. @Unicorn

    I will do that on Sunday when the five poll sample is complete :-)

  39. labour morale seems low at the moment

  40. RAF

    Well, there wouldn’t be many preliminary games in the Australasian Cup!

  41. Peter Crawford,

    Labour morale has been low since April 1992.

  42. Regarding Ashcroft Scottish polls: Ashcroft asks a ‘Thinking about your own constituency’ question. How reliable is that likely to be, when the SNP candidate would not have been in place when the poll question was asked?

    The SNP are just getting their candidates selected now, and many of them are from the independence movement so will be fairly well know in the area. I really hope a lot of them get elected, they will be a bit of a change from the normal suited, text-book politicians. So I am thinking that the VI% would be lower than when the SNP could achieve and that Ashcroft should have saved his money and started polling once we knew the SNP candidates.


    On SNP being in UK government it is not their preferred option but that is democracy under the union and since Scotland normal puts up with some hue of non-stop Tory, it will be a bit of balance. However I suspect it is a moot point because it looks like another Tory government with or without the LibDems.

  43. @unicorn – 11.29

    I think Scots still compartmentalise as over the past ten to fifteen years and will continue to do so; it’s just that, as when planets occasionally line up, in this precise moment two of those compartments (Westminster and Holyrood) are aligned in the same direction. (1)

    I don’t expect this situation to last for ever, but VIs will only change once a large number of Devo-Max/Home Rule supporters (such as myself) become satisfied with the constitutional set up. If current Tory and Labour proposals are anything to go by that may be some time off yet.

    (1) I remind the reader that it is possible also to be aligned in opposite directions!

  44. Couper2802,

    “since Scotland normal puts up with some hue of non-stop Tory”

    Though it’s worth emphasising that (at least in the modern era) Scotland has never had a Tory government with <24% of the vote in Scotland or a Tory-involving government with <16.7% of the vote, while the SNP are unlikely to do that well in May in England and Wales.

  45. @CMJ

    Much appreciated!

  46. Looking at my Yougov 7 day average chart, it looks as though both Lab and Con VI has edged up over the last week, but remains at a historically low level.

  47. @BP

    You know fine well what Couper means! Though it might be as well to specify which government is intended when using the word.

    More generally:
    Can anyone explain to me why, after throwing everything into the campaign to keep Scotland in the Union, suddenly Unionists are saying that the Scottish choice for some of its MPs is somehow ‘ultra vires’? You can’t have it both ways! Either Scotland is part of the UK or it isn’t. If it is, then Scots MPs have just as much right as anyone else to be involved in the forming of a UK government, or in bringing one down, for that matter. Same thing applies to Northern Ireland and Welsh MPs, and even to English MPs as well, I guess.

  48. John B,

    I think that it’s perfectly understandable, if you are wavering between voting Labour and voting for some other party, and you think that voting Labour would make it more likely that the SNP would be in government, and you don’t want the SNP to be in government, to decide not to vote Labour. It’s the kind of consideration that also could lead people to favour English devolution of some sort.

    After all, that was how devolution was sold to Scotland in the 1990s. The SNP could be seen as a hostile alien force by English voters.

  49. @Couper2802

    It is a matter of complete speculation how respondents handle the CVI question. It must place them in a very odd position. They have just indicated how that would vote and they are then given the ‘own constituency’ preamble to Question 3. In a sense this is a leading question the strongly suggests that the respondent has inadvertently forgotten to take account of some local consideration. I have commented in the past about how this might elicit misleading responses and so I won’t say more about that now.

    It is my hunch that in Scotland most voters are quite politically alert at the moment. There have been one or two things in the media over the last six months. Given that, they are unlikely to be nudged into supporting a different party in their response to the CVI question. More likely, they will think: “My mind is made up. I’ve told you already.” and then stick with their SVI answer.

    So, personally I don’t think that the absence of local (named) candidates will make any difference. Most respondents probably don’t have this information in any case. As I’ve said in previous comments, the most likely effect of sticking to their guns will be that the LibDems won’t receive the CVI boost they have enjoyed elsewhere. And that is why I am expecting some of the models to have overestimated LD support in Scotland.

  50. John B

    I don’t think “Unionists” are saying that the Scottish choice for some of its MPs is somehow ‘ultra vires’?”

    “Unionist” is a useful descriptive term in Scotland and other devolved nations for a political principle.

    I doubt if it has much resonance in England, where there is less differentiation between “Englishness” and “Briitishness”.

    The complaints appear to be dominantly from those types who commented extensively during the Brown years about how dreadful it was for England to have a Scots PM and the “Scots Mafia” in control.

    While I fully sympathise with their wish for England to control its own affairs, their unwillingness to change the UK constitution to have a Federal UK Government and equitable arrangements for all its component parts leaves them looking a bit like the League of Empire Loyalists lamenting the loss of their superiority in the world.

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