12 weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls

YouGov/S Times (6/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
Opinium/Observer (6/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
Ashcroft (8/2/15) – CON 34%, LAB 31%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
Populus (8/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (9/2/15) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (10/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
Ipsos MORI/Standard (10/2/15) – CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 9%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (11/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (12/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (12/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%

The big picture remains stable, with Labour and Conservatives very close. There were a couple of Conservative leads at the start of the week, but a couple of three point Labour leads at the end of the week mean the UKPR polling average continues to show a two point Labour lead – CON 32%(+1), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 14%(-1), GRN 7%(+1). Whether those two larger leads at the end of the week are anything more than normal sample noise remains to be seen. The MORI poll showing UKIP on just nine percent was their lowest since last September – I wrote on Thursday about the difficulties of actually telling what’s happening to UKIP support given changes in methodology, it looks like they might be declining slightly, but it’s hard to be sure.

Scottish and marginal polls

There were two other voting intention polls this week, a Scottish poll from TNS and a marginals poll from ComRes. The TNS poll showed a significantly smaller SNP lead than other recent Scottish polls. Survation, MORI and YouGov are all showing the SNP twenty points or more ahead; TNS produced an SNP lead of only ten points. This is presumably something to do with the methodology (TNS is a traditional face-to-face poll, rather than an online or telephone poll) as the long fieldwork for the TNS poll actually overlapped with all three of the other polls, meaning it can’t have been that opinion has changed. Meanwhile the ComRes poll showed a 4.5% swing from Con to Lab in the 40 most marginal Conservative vs Labour marginals – the equivalent of a two point lead in national polls… exactly what the national polls are currently showing!

Week 6

  • The sixth week of the long campaign started with Tristam Hunt defending comments he had made about nuns, then went through whether Labour’s women’s campaign was right to have a pink van, before settling on the rather more serious matter of tax evasion, the role of HSBC and an abortive legal threat against Ed Miliband by Lord Fink, a Tory donor with a swiss bank account. I expect we shall see some polling about tax evasion and party donors come the weekend, though possibly not about nuns.
  • UKIP launched their election campaign in the seat of Castle Point on the south coast of Essex, a potential target seat that may or may not have had UKIP’s first MP (it was never quite clear whether the defector Bob Spink formally joined UKIP or not) and where the party have formed an alliance with the Canvey Island Independents.
  • The Lib Dems launched the front page of their manifesto, showing us their main points (and their presumed demands in any coalition negotiations) will be promising to increase the personal allowance to £12,500, balance the budget fairly, invest £8bn in the NHS and provide equal mental health care, guarantee education funding and provide qualified teachers and pass “five Green Laws”.


The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. The long promised seat model from the Polling Observatory team (Rob Ford, Will Jennings, Chris Wlezien and Mark Pickup) finally made its debut this week too. I don’t think it’s up on a website yet, but they put it out at the NCRM’s conference on election forecasting and tweeted it, so I’ve included it below.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 281(-1), LAB 281(+2), LD 23(nc), SNP 41(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 280(-2), LAB 283(nc), LD 27(+3), SNP 37(nc), UKIP 2(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 269(-1), LAB 274(+2), LD 24(-1), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)
Polling Observatory – Hung Parliament, CON 269, LAB 293, LD 21, SNP 37, UKIP 1

209 Responses to “12 weeks to go”

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  1. Me first !

  2. Ken

    Making partisan political comments is discouraged.

  3. Mark Pickup?

  4. AW

    Scottish and marginal polls

    “TNS produced a Labour lead of only ten points. This is presumably something to do with the methodology ”

    Not just methodology but probably due to a typo as well . ;-)

  5. @oldnat hahaha, that was quality.

  6. Allan Christie

    I hope you aren’t suggesting that they were confusing it with a tax return! :-)

  7. Catmanjef, other thread. Its not just northerners who’d vote SNP given the chance. I’m from Cheltenham and I’d vote SNP if I could.

  8. Pete

    Nicola would like you to vote Green.


    I wouldn’t Fink of such a thing. :-)

  10. I note that my generation is improving the health of the young, by ensuring that they don’t have enough money to indulge in alcohol.

    Meenwile, were shupporting businesh by shpending lotsh of our ill-gotten gainsh on the shtuff.

  11. Opinion polls are snapshots (with the usual rubrics). But are projections really worth anything this far out from the GE?

  12. OLDNAT………..I’ll, hic*+”* drink, to that. ;-&

  13. On these forecasts, which presumably take account of anticipated swing back, everyone seems to be agreed that Cameron won’t be PM by May 8th.

    Of course, all the polls could be wrong, they could be right but change, and the forecasts could all be wrong, but it is odd that the general impression given by the media and many commentators is one that expects Tories to be ahead, if not in a majority.

  14. MikeB

    “But are projections really worth anything this far out from the GE?”

    We’ll know on May 8th!

    If it is possible for statisticians to predict human behaviour, then psychohistory becomes depressingly possible.

    Where is the Mule when he’s needed?

  15. AW
    “The Lib Dems launched the front page of their manifesto, showing us their main points…invest £8bn in the NHS and provide equal mental health care,”

    LD’s proposing that we spend more money to treat depression?

    Bloody typical of politicians! Look after themselves first…

  16. Just been reading through the Lib/Dem manifesto.

    “Liberal Democrats unveil five priorities for the next five years”

    However in their Scottish manifesto they list 6 key pledges

    I feel spoiled.

  17. Lefty


  18. I observe that the percentage of UK voters prepared to vote Labour/Conservative has gone up from 64% to 66% and that UKIP have gone down a tick. The battle between LD and Green for fourth place has not abated, but I am still puzzled by the notion that LD will get between 27 and 21 seats but UKIP at double the vote support only merits 1 to 4 seats.

    That said I did a straw poll of the ladies out here in colonies of Bristh Columbia (where we stll celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday as a public holiday every year). By an indicative vote of 5:1 the pink bus was nixed, with three ladies indignanly proclaiming they voted according to the party platform.

    As for class. There was a poster of a Nicaraguan peasant women leaning on a fence in the 1980’s. The caption underneath read:

    Class knowing which side of the fence you are on and who is there with you

  19. That Ashcroft poll on February 8th starts to look like a bit of an outlier when set in the context of the other 9 polls conducted during the week, doesn’t it? A 3 point Tory lead with Labour on 31 has the appearance of a very sore thumb about it to me.

    Also, am I right in thinking that this is the first time that three of four election result forecasters have Labour as the largest party after the votes are cast in May and none show the Tories ahead?

    P.S Listened to Any Questions on Radio 4 tonight as I had a bath [snip]. Thought Soubry and Harman were poor advocates for their respective parties and Ming Campbell his usual avuncular and ramblingly endearing self, but Alex Salmond the most impressive by some considerable distance. [snip] but it’s his effectiveness as a politician I admire. I’m partial to good politicians and he’s a very, very good politician. It’s simple really. Demonstrate some capacity to be verbally dexterous, show some humour, reveal some passion about the views you hold, don’t recite vacuous soundbites, and sort of suggest you’re a paid up member of the human race. You’d then be surprised how many people connect with you.

    Soubry and Harman would do well to learn from Salmond’s master-class tonight, although I doubt very much they will.


    Very fair analysis on ole Salmond. He does resonate well with people and is one el of a formidable opponent.

    I reckon if he was to stand as an MP in the North of England he would get a fair amount of votes.

    However…. “Also, am I right in thinking that this is the first time that three of four election result forecasters have Labour as the largest party after the votes are cast in May and none show the Tories ahead?”

    You know you’re bloody right!! ;-)


    ” The battle between LD and Green for fourth place has not abated, but I am still puzzled by the notion that LD will get between 27 and 21 seats but UKIP at double the vote support only merits 1 to 4 seats”

    You need to do some homework on FPTP and party seat concentration

    Right that’s me done for the night. And please can someone make sure AW corrects his “10 point Labour lead” in the TNS poll. I wouldn’t want it to make headline news on the front page of the Scotsman.

  22. What got snipped in your bath, CB? I hope it wasn’t to painful.

  23. too

  24. Allan Christie,

    “I feel spoiled.”

    It’s down to the Barnett formula… we 6/5th of what you get!


  25. @ MikeB

    Opinion polls are snapshots (with the usual rubrics). But are projections really worth anything this far out from the GE?

    Yes – they are vital.

    How would you make sense of a Polling Average if you didn’t have some kind of model to convert it into seat projections?

    From the VIs themselves, you could tell that some parties currently enjoy more support than they did at the time of the last election and that fortunes have dipped in other cases. But would this change manifest itself in the exchange of just one or two seats (and perhaps the continuation of the present coalition government) or might one expect hundreds of seats to change hands (resulting in completely different types of government)? The significance of the raw numbers comes exclusively from the various models which provide their differing answers to this question.

    So the projections are not just ‘worth something’. They are fundamental to almost all discussion about VI-related polling data.

  26. Anthony

    Probably worth adding the most noticed stories of the week to the weekly summary


    Although the pink bus seemed to attract a lot of attention in places, it didn’t even feature on the list of most noticed stories. The only political story making the list was HSBC/Tax avoidance.

  27. I think tax avoidance has hurt the Tories this week and will always hurt them because of the perception its their own who are up to no good.

  28. Looking back at the archives, that is actually the first UK political story of the year that is actually visible in the word clouds.


  29. @ Crossbat11

    Harman would do well to learn from Salmond’s master-class tonight, although I doubt very much they will.

    I don’t rate Salmond.
    Margaret Curran, Nicola Sturgeon, Harriet Harman & Kezia Dugdale are all better at connecting politically with their audience than Salmond is. They tackle issues head on, Salmond just wants to be the popular kid in the playground.

    And the political skill with which Nicola Sturgeon shoved Salmond out the door, it would have had ‘kremlin watchers’ gasping with admiration, had she been a man!

  30. I’m very surprised that nobody mentions AS’s high pitched voice, so from the non-representative sample of UKPR it seems that it’s not a disadvantage (unless you live inLiverpool, where it is the norm and who cares).

    So we have a hapless toff, a lefty who doesn’t know how to eat a sandwich, a high pitched nationalist, a quiet nationalist (a few days ago mentioned), a yellow and blue mix (green), who doesn’t perform well on TV (I also learnt it here), a fruit coloured man who pretends to be some sort of deputy who whatever says the answer is “I don’t agree with Nick”, a bishop coloured who cannot decide if he said on his tax form if he said that he employed a tax avoidance scheme, but the UK should follow Switzerland. I left out some but who cares.

    These were snippets from analysis from the media and some here. I actually think that the polls suggest that the public doesn’t swallow all this, and it’s quite reasonable,even if at the tails there are some opinions that …

  31. Based on this week’s Polling Average batch, the trends are not particularly newsworthy and all will already have been observed by those who pounce on each new poll as it is tweeted.

    But the departures are at least statistically reliable, which is more than can be said about any comments based on individual polls.

    So…Comfortably sticking to their 2014 trends are the Tories and the Greens. (That is, in each case these 19 VI scores are not statistically different from projections made last November: both are still keeping to their original (llinear) trajectories.

    Ahead of their long-term trends are Labour (for the second time this year) and the LibDems (for the fourth week in succession). Ukip is the only party running below trends (as it has for every week but one this year). The Ukip VI is now 1.5 units below where it would have been if they had continued to advance at the pace they established last year.

    Finally, for this batch although the LibDem is still numerically higher than that for the Greens, this difference is not statistically reliable. Depending on working definitions, this could be taken as a first stage in a crossover process. (The rising VI has to edge up close enough to be indistinguishable from its rival before the full crossover manoeuvre can be completed.)

  32. @ Amber

    I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but do you really think that HH connects with the electorate? There is a soft side in me that appreciate her views, but it’s not the same as connecting …

    I don’t know enough of the internal workings of the SNP to comment on AS and NS as a Sovietologist problem.

    Who develops their policies? Who allocates the resources? who selects their candidates (at all levels)? What power the party has to keep the executive, especially the Scottish government accountable? And so forth.

  33. Laszlo

    “a Sovietologist problem.”

    Surprisingly, you don’t have to look at the positioning of the SNP Politburo members on the podium as they review the march past of the Atholl Highlanders and the Royal Company of Archers as they parade down the Royal Mile on St Andrew’s Day, to work such things out.

    This may come as a revelation to you, but this site is based on mutual exchange of information.

  34. @Unicorn

    I agree with the overall thrust of your observations

  35. @ Unicorn

    Looking at YouGov polls since the last elections I can say that there are no long term trends.

    There are events: some LiBDem voters moving to Labour via DK in 2010-11, that’s not a trend. Especially as conservatives pick up – unless it’s their right.

    Osborn making interesting statements that he believes to be the budget, Labour comes up again, but it’s really Conservatives going down. Quite important: at around that time I asked and AW confirmed that the statistical adjustment is not applied to DK.

    Now, a man appears who claims that all this discord is because the two main parties (he doesn’t know the third that is still dutifully recorded in the polls) don’t recognise that it’s all because of the foreigners. So we have, instead of the long term trend of choosing two types of wine (and some cider), quite an event driven choice. “I haven’t tasted this for so long, it’s so refreshing, I’m having another glass of it”. And we have UKIP on 16-18%.

    Then unexpectedly the Northern neighbours are all agitated, and by the incomprehensible workings of the Flying Spaggetti Monster, Labour seems to be losing everything in the aforementioned Northern neighbouring country. It’s not a trend. It’s the making of the FSM.

    I don’t know if there’s a need for conclusion. Just a single sentence: as long as we talk about mainstream parties, there is no long-term trend by any measure.

  36. @ Andy Shadrack

    I am still puzzled by the notion that LD will get between 27 and 21 seats but UKIP at double the vote support only merits 1 to 4 seats

    If this is a serious question, then the best way to do the ‘homework’ suggested by @AC would be to build your own UNS model. Start with the 2010 election results across 631 constituencies (650 minus NI seats and Speaker’s seat). Convert recorded votes into VI percentages for the 5 or 6 parties of interest. Then in each seat add 5% to each Labour VI (representing the VI in the current Polling Average minus the 2010 vote share). Similarly reduce each Tory VI by 4%, each LD VI by 16% and increase each Ukip VI by about 11-12%. (These numbers are not precise – just from memory, but it doesn’t affect the exercise.)

    If you do this, you will find that the highest UKIP 2010 share was about 8% and so the strongest Ukip seat rises to about 20%. Except in a few many-way marginals this is not enough to secure a seat. For the LibDems you will find that there were several shares in the 50s and 60s. Reducing these by 16%, still leaves them with the highest VI in 20-30 seats.

    The UNS model is almost universally regarded as unrealistic but it provides a very simple illustration of how these peculiar seat projections can emerge. Other models use more sophisticated algorithms but produce the differential effects for essentially the same reasons.

  37. @ OldNat

    It was a gentle response to Amber’s point of “Kremlin watchers” that you may have missed.

    I am always interested in information here, including the workings of different parties. Maybe not the standing on the pulpit for the May Day Parade is the important in the SNP, but the relative position of a signature for releasing a convicted criminal?

  38. Lazlo

    Just to keep you in the loop as to the SNP. If it does actually become the 3rd largest party in the UK Parliament, then it would be sensible for those furth of Scotland to know the basics at least.

    Who develops their policies?

    Policy development is conducted in a variety of ways. There are Working Groups in a many areas which take advice and guidance from both party and non-party members.

    While National Conference is the ultimate policy making group, like every other party it is largely a media/boosting the membership event. However, really major changes like that on NATO membership can only be taken at that level.

    Otherwise, policy is determined by National Council, comprising delegates from every branch.

    Manifestos have previously been determined simply by the National Executive, but Nicola has opened up the consultation on it to every individual member. I don’t know of any other party (maybe Scottish Greens?) which has taken that step.

    Who allocates the resources?

    Depends on who raises them! Like every other party, I imagine.

    < who selects their candidates (at all levels)?

    Candidates are vetted centrally (like everybody else – not always effectively!) and are selected via preferential voting by all members at constituency/ward level.

    What power the party has to keep the executive, especially the Scottish government accountable?

    Quite properly – none at all. The Government is there to operate for everyone in Scotland – not just the party. To their credit, Labour operated in exactly the same way. Obviously, internal party pressures exist where the membership is dissatisfied with Government decisions – rather like every other democratic government everywhere else, I would think.

  39. Lazlo

    “release of a convicted criminal”

    The signature has nothing to do with party structures. Nor would it be with any other party in charge, or in any other jurisdiction that employs compassionate release.

    The power lies with the Justice Secretary, as it lay with Jack Straw in England when he released Ronnie Biggs.

  40. @ OldNat

    Thank you for the factual information. i appreciate it and I think it is very democratic and effective.

    As to the rest, there was no need to go personal in my view.

  41. @ Old Nat

    Arguably, Annabel Goldie and Ruth Davidson have been much more effective as politicians than some on your list.

    Annabel Goldie could’ve got much more from Salmond than she did; or at least got more credit for it. But she is definitely a memorable character.

    Ruth Davidson connects personally but not politically, which is why I didn’t include her in my list.

    Margaret Curran can ‘work’ an audience better than Salmond or Blair; & is more resilient than both of them put together. And she’s one of the easiest people to talk to that I’ve ever met.
    Nicola Sturgeon needs no supporting argument from me because we’re in agreement.
    Harriet Harman is Labour’s deputy leader having won (what was probably the hardest fought contest ever) against Party ‘legends’ like Alan Johnson & Peter Hain. Furthermore, most of Labour’s policies for women & much of its success in connecting with women voters has been driven by Harriet Harman.
    Kezia Dugdale’s rise has been meteoric; she goes toe to toe with Nicola Sturgeon, no quarter asked or given, yet they turn out together for cross-party initiatives without a hint of animosity.
    Rather than attending a Salmond ‘masterclass’, I think all of these women could teach Salmond a thing or two!

    But it’s really Crossbatty ;-) who should be on the receiving end of this ‘rant’, not you.

  42. Lazlo

    I apologise if you thought my remarks were “personal.

    It was probably due to surprise that anyone interested in UK political parties would even raise such questions in a post that (doubtless inadvertently) suggested that the SNP operated in an undemocratic fashion.

    However, I readily accept that it was because you had been listening to Amber.

  43. Amber

    People are allowed to recognise the political skills of those in other parties than their own (indeed any competent political activist or observer does!)

    Ranting is somewhat inappropriate.

  44. @ OldNat

    On paper many parties in the UK (deliberate) follow one set of rules in forming policies, monitoring them, changing them, and keeping the executive to the agreed principles. Tthen when you look at in practice, you see that the party actually doesn’t have capabilities to develope policies, it may not have enough resources to monitor, and the executive is very independent from the party.

    I was genuinely interested how it is with the SNP – beyond what I can read.

  45. Lazlo

    Thanks for the explanation of your questions. Glad I could help.

  46. Lazlo

    I should add that my comments were an outline of the current position – I have no faith whatsoever that the longer that the SNP are in power, the more it will resemble other established parties.

    I am no party loyalist, and am already eyeing up the Scottish Greens as my next political home! That will be my 4th party membership.

  47. Badly constructed first sentence, but hopefully the meaning was clear.

    Must be all that booze us oldies are consuming! :-)

  48. @ Laszlo

    I was using the term ‘Kremlin watchers’ as a generic term for people who are interested in the internal politics of political parties.

    The events leading up to the 2004 SNP leadership election were fascinating for people interested in such things.

    The current efforts of Salmond to resurrect his career, having been side-lined by the more politically astute Nicola Sturgeon, are also quite interesting to watch.

  49. @ Laszlo

    there are no long term trends..

    I suspect your theory could be put to empirical test if you were minded to do this. If all VI changes were just responses to random events then you would not expect to see correlations between changes over Month [N], and those over Month [N+1], Month [N+2] and so on. The VI-shifting events would be expected to produce just random changes, and therefore autocorrelations that do no differ reliably from zero.

    However, the outcome should be different if the VIs are being driven by some systematic (albeit indefinable) process that is sufficiently influential to override the short-term, event-related fluctuations.

    Using your events-only theory are you prepared to predict that lagged autocorrelations will be impossible to find?

  50. @ OldNat

    My questions came from two very basic questions: do the executive (party leadership) choose the party or vice versa (the latter is assumed, but I have my doubts). Do the party members directly or indirectly have any control of the executive?

    If you look at my questions they probe these: is it the party or the executive who develops policies (to whom the think tanks are accountable in English tem), who and what ways monitors the implementation of policies and are thei ring fences? If the executive turns away from the principles, what can the party do?

    In England there would be more probing questions about councillors and councils.

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