This week’s YouGov results for the Sunday Times are here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 32%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%. This is a second YouGov poll in a row showing a three point lead. That could possibly be an impact from a week spent on the topic of tax avoidance, but equally it could easily just normal random error spitting out a couple of polls with above average leads in a row.

Most of the rest of the YouGov poll concentrates on that issue: HSBC, tax avoidance and evasion and party funding. Public opinion is predictably hostile towards HSBC – 80% think it’s unacceptable for banks to actively help their clients avoid tax, 75% unacceptable for them to turn a blind eye to clients doing things to avoid tax. By 71% to 15% people think that HSBC should face criminal investigation.

Blame for allowing banks to assist clients with avoiding tax is fairly evenly spread between Labour and the Conservatives. 21% think the last Labour government was more to blame, 14% that the current coalition government is more to blame, but 44% think both equally. Looking forwards, Labour have a lead on which party would do the most to tackle tax avoidance and evasion – 23% to the Conservatives’ 16%, though 50% of people said none or don’t know, suggesting little real faith in any of the parties to address the issue (compare and contrast this to the ComRes poll yesterday that showed Miliband and Cameron equal on 31% on the issue – that may be the effect of asking about leaders rather than parties, or perhaps it was because YouGov made it easier for people to say neither).

Moving onto party funding the public are critical of both the Conservative’s reliance on business funding and Labour’s reliance on Union funding. By 48% to 30% people think Labour should try and reduce Union funding, by 52% to 25% people think the Conservatives should try and reduce their business funding. More broadly only 24% of people think that donors give money purely to support a party, 68% think they do so also (19%) or mainly (49%) in the hope of getting something in return like honours or influence. Around two thirds of people would support a cap on business and trade union donations, 51% would support a cap on individual donations to political parties. There is little support though for state funding – only 19% would support taxpayer funding with 59% opposed. Even a forced choice between the current situation of a labour party getting trade union funds & a Conservative party getting business funds or a system of state funding, people would prefer the status quo by 63% to 37%.


284 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 35, LD 7, UKIP 15, GRN 7”

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  1. @ Mr. Nameless,

    Well, it’s more likely to be C&S, isn’t it?

    My guess is that being a minority government would actually be a net positive for Labour, relative to a tiny majority, because if Labour need to seek the support of the smaller parties on a case by case basis they can’t do anything spectacularly unpopular or asinine. The SNP won’t be blamed for unpopular policies because they simply won’t vote for them, and in the process they may save Labour from itself.

    The big danger for Labour is if Miliband appears to dance to the SNP’s tune. (This is why I think Trident is a potential flashpoint.) But as we’ve been discussing, he can simply call their bluff on C&S votes because they have to support him or risk losing their recent gains. If Labour don’t give Scotland what the SNP demands it’s a problem for Scottish Labour but not really for anyone else.

    As far as the SNP is concerned, they’re really not in that “Minor coalition partner” squeeze position because they’re so dominant in Scotland. I don’t think anything a Labour government can do could hurt them- if they don’t get their policies through it’s “Look, Labour sucks!” and if they do it’s “Look at all these goodies we won for you!”

  2. bm11 I think any journalist who tried that would themselves be criticised. 7/7 never hurt blair,quite right too. people tend to come together in terrorist outrages. even more so now with social media,i’d love to see the reaction from the public to a journo trying to cynically make party political advantage.

  3. The Madrid bombings are the obvious, spectacular exception. But then the Spanish government made the tactical misstep of assuming they related to Basque rather than Islamic terrorism.

  4. Big terrorism attacks and the like do often increase government support (conditional, I suppose, on them responding in a suitable way). Look at Bush’s approval ratings post 911, or Hollande’s ratings earlier this year. It’s probably a case of rallying round the flag.

    The only obvious case of a major terrorist attack actually happening in the immediate run up to an election that I can think of was Spain in 2004:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_general_election,_2004

    It didn’t give the governing party a boost in that case (in fact they did worse than the polls before had suggested, though I suppose its hard to know if the polls were wrong all along or if the government’s handling of the attack cost them votes)

  5. @paul m.

    But blair was PM at the time and a terror attacks will generally help the incumbnet goverment as they can do the whole “address the nation/tough talk” stuff whilst donning their winston chruchill hat. Look at Bush post 9/11.

    Another 7/7 would benefit cameron and would definitely play to UKIPs agenda. And its not journos who would seek to blame labour for it (apart from trolls like rod liddle and littlejohn) – it would be the UKIP minded angry brigade on social media – have you read the reader comments the daily telegraph?

  6. And you can say the end of New Labour was indirectly trigged by 7/7 as it fitted into immigration polices used as campaigning tools in 2010.
    Say if it had happened in April 2005 it may have affected the election through not the total result but the seats each part had.

  7. Amber Star

    The only effective balance of power is one that you can use. The electorate expects the SNP to support a Labour government or, at the very least, not to support a Tory one. So, even assuming the election outcome & the parliamentary arithmetic favours the SNP, their power is limited.

    On the contrary their power could be enormous. As you say the numbers have to stack up right – Labour would have to need to be short of an overall majority by maybe 40 so they couldn’t cobble a majority together elsewhere. And Labour would have to actually want to be in government. It does seem to have its element of the political equivalent of sulky teenagers who would really prefer other people to take all the hard decisions while sitting there shouting “‘Snot fair!”, while others seem to want absolute power or nothing (for both see Holyrood 2007 onwards).

    But given the right arithmetic and attitudes, the SNP has a very strong hand. Just because they have said they won’t support the Conservatives, it doesn’t mean they have to obediently carry out every whim of their Labour masters. They’re very unlikely to want to go in formal coalition and may not even accept being tied down to a written agreement – if only because Clegg has discredited both ideas by association. The commentariat and the City will whinge about ‘stability’, but they have little influence on the SNP (their real agenda will be to promote a Grand Coalition, but I doubt if even Labour is that suicidal).

    So in that situation the SNP can pick and choose. They can support Labour on formal votes of confidence, but oppose measures that will be unpopular. Labour can’t make such things “a matter of confidence” because the Fixed-term Parliament Act says that:

    The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) is—

    “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.”

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/14/section/2

    and the SNP can keep on voting to support Labour on those while vetoing things they don’t like. Labour will then be forced to rely on deals with the Conservatives (causing internal tensions for both Parties and UKIP and the Greens to dance in the streets for joy) or come to some agreement with the SNP.

  8. Populus:

    CON 31
    LAB 33
    LD 10
    UKIP 15
    GRN 5

    Not wanting to reference anything, the Lib Dems look a little high.

  9. Good Afternoon All.
    Mr NAMELESS: I agree with you about the Lib Dem figure; the Cons will probably pick up a lot of the Lib Dem votes in May; I think.

  10. No, they look suspiciously *low* to me, actually.

    Plus a quarter of our 2010 voters still undecided and around 10% we can take back from the Tories.

    = 16-18%

    Must be all those lovely Lib Dem leaflets I’ve been delivering.

  11. #WinningHereApparently

  12. Populuus Scot CB (unweighted sample of 108):

    SNP 44%
    Lab 25%
    Con 13%
    Lib 13%
    UKIP 4%
    Green 1%

    Hmm.

  13. @chrislane

    Why will the tories pick up votes from the lib dems? Al the evidence suggests that the lib dems hemorrhaged votes because they were seen to have betrayed their LoC and ‘protest vote’ voters. This group is extremely unlikely to go to the tories.

  14. That’s an 8/9/10 for LDs in the last three Populus polls, 15/14/15 for UKIP and 4/6/5 for Greens. Labour lead 1/3/2

    On this basis you would say not much movement, other than Lib Dems hardening a little.

  15. ‘#WhiningHere’

    Life’s so unfair for minor coalition partners.

  16. @Reggieside

    I think that the logic goes something like this:
    1) There core LibDem votes – these will tend to vote LD whatever
    2) The left LibDem votes (2010) have probably already left for Labour/Green/SNP etc
    3) Anyone still saying ‘LibDem’ at this stage is therefore either right LibDem or core vote
    4) If those right LibDems go anywhere it will be theTories

    So if you base the argument on 2010, no, but if you base if on the remaining 7-12%, then possibly.

  17. From memory I think that the main reason for the change in polling after the Madrid bombings was because the government tried to exploit them politically. Against whom seemed less important, it was the fact they tried to do it at all that backfired. So a terrorist attack might be less amenable to being misused than some would fear, or hope.

    I’m not really convinced that Hollande has benefited that much either. His rise in support has been pretty modest:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_French_presidential_election,_2017

    and mainly at the expense of Marine le Pen who has been the one trying to exploit the Charlie Hebdo massacre in various self-contradictory ways.

  18. @Roger Mexico

    Correct. The PP government initially blamed ETA, in order to justify that it’s support for (amongst other things) the Iraq war had no bearing on the attacks. Now remember in Spain the war in Iraq was incredibly unpopular. As a result the PP’s approach to the Madrid attacks led to accusations of a cover up which caused them to suffer at the polls.

  19. Its not it’s.

  20. @Bm11

    “It could completely change the result of the election if it happened only days before the election. Say it if happened on the Election Day. British poltical history could Change forever”

    Let’s not go giving Pressman ideas.

  21. What is this obsession with Scotland, which is one of the less important areas in terms of votes?

    LD Voters this Populus versus last one

    Total 125 vs 114
    SE 43 27 +16
    Mids 27 26 +1
    N. 24 28 -4
    W&SW 17 22 -5
    Sc. 15 11 +4

    The main shift has come from the South East. The last poll had us on a very low 8% in the South East vs 12% this time, which looks more realistic given the number of held and target seats in the region where Lib Dems are campaigning hard, so the main upward shift hasn’t come from Scotland, which has only added 4 voters to the total, and is more than counteracted by falls in the North, Wales and South West.

  22. @RC

    “which is one of the less important areas in terms of votes”

    Gobsmacked!

    Surely every vote and every collection of votes is as important as another? Importance is in the eye of the beholder, and with comments such as that, it’s no wonder the three main Westminster parties are on life support (in some less important parts of the UK :-p ).

  23. @Thesheep and @reggieside – over on Political Betting there is a post this morning looking at the Ashcroft constituency 2 stage question with specific relation to Lib Dem/Con battleground seat.

    It includes a lengthy quote and analysis from UKPR’s esteemed AW [see what we do to try and get out of pre mod?]
    and looks at the performance of the two stage question against general VI polling and the actual 2010 result.

    Makes for sobering reading for Cons and some source of solace for Lib Dems. In these seats, it doesn’t back up @CL1945’s initial assumption.

    Oddly enough, PB also has a second post today looking at the proportion of each parties votes that come from other party supporters voting tactically for them. Again, this doesn’t on the face of it back up @CL1945’s point.

    The Tories attract least inward tactical voters (10% of their total, if I recall correctly) whereas Labour attracts the most at 27%.

    Clearly this isn’t broken down into constituencies, so drawing a direct link is difficult, but intuitively it looks like Lib Dems do much better when up against Cons, with anti Con support coming in from Labour voters, and overall, Cons are not good at attracting other party identifiers to vote for them tactically.

    I suspect @Chrislanee1945’s point wasn’t particularly based on evidence, as it his wont.

  24. Guardian/ICM:

    Con 36 (+6)
    Lab 32 (-1)
    LD 10 (-1)
    UKIP 9 (-2)
    Grn 7 (-2)

    Little confusing, I think.

  25. @RC – “What is this obsession with Scotland, which is one of the less important areas in terms of votes?”

    I would say Scotland is of extreme significance in this election. Anywhere were so many seats are set to change hands is significant. Scotland appears to have a far higher proportion of incumbents under severe pressure, so I would argue the reverse – it’s actually more significant than other, similar sized areas.

  26. Don’t understand that at all !

  27. It doesn’t really fit any recent trend, and I would suggest caution. Let’s see if other polls bear it out.

  28. Outlier.

  29. This ICM poll looks highly suspect, but polls is polls, as they say. Any big movement seems out of kilter at present, but who knows.

    Being completely even, their 28% for Cons in December was equally odd, which may raise an odd query over ICM’s sampling.

    I think I’m right in saying that we’ve now had 3 polls in February with Con leading, 2 with a tie and 16 with Lab leads.

  30. In terms of shifts in this poll, which was the matter under discussion, Scotland is only a small part of the sample, so Statgeek’s point about the Scottish sub sample isn’t really valid, as I explained.

    I repeat: In terms of overall UK voting intention in this poll, Scotland is one of the less important voting areas because of its smaller electorate.

  31. Guardian/ICM poll

    Last six polls showing Labour 2-3 points ahead,looks like this one is a rogue poll.

  32. If a minority Labour government was relying on Tory votes to get things through that the Nats didn’t like, there is always a danger that the Tories could resort to the sort of tactics Labour themselves often used in such situations (such as constitutional reform). Invent some sort of fake quibble with the proposals that enables you to vote against them, despite supporting them, in order to inflict an embarassing defeat on the government.

    I doubt that the Tories would try this on Trident, but on pretty much any other policy it might be tempted.

  33. @ Martyn

    Earlier today (at 3.30pm) I posted an analysis in which I used a Eudlidean Distance metric to track the direction of travel of 5-party VI profiles over the 13-month period from Jan 2014 to the end of last month. If the movements conform to swingback the profiles should move progressively closer to the profile recorded in the 2010 election (and this should be picked up by a decline in the ED measures over the 13 month period. The opposite result is consistent with anti-swingback.

    My calculations showed very reliable support for anti-swingback.

    However, you correctly pointed out that I was using the UK profile as a target whilst at the same time using the results of GB-only polls to measure the discrepancy (as well as changes in this measure). You are obviously right that the only logical thing to do is to compare like with like.

    Given this, I have now repeated the analysis based on target VIs that exclude the 18 NI seats and the Speaker’s seat.

    Although the numerical values are of course different, the outcome is essentially the same. As before, the 5-party profiles progressively move further and further away from the 2010 results and the data are stable enough to reject the null hypothesis that there is no movement at the p<0.0001 level.

    So, again clear evidence for anti-swingback over this period.

    Restricting the analysis to the Tories alone there is again reliable evidence for anti-swingback (but this time only at the 5% level). This is very similar to straightforward regression analysis which we already know shows that the Tory VI is slowly moving further away from their 2010 levels rather than swinging back as the theory requires.

    Restricting the analysis to the two coalition parties, the outcome is very similar to the 5-party analysis except that the movement away from the 2010 figures is even more reliable. (This is because the LD VIs have steadily been moving further and further away from their 2010 support levels of 23.6%.)

    So, based on these figures not only has swingback not been happening: the opposite effect seems to be in evidence over this period.

  34. @ Spearmint

    In relation to my swingback calculatons you asked what happened if you restrict the analysis to just to two main parties.

    In this case the analyis does show a steady move back towards the 2010 figures (p < 0.001). The whole of this effect comes from the Labour contribution. (As I indicated in the comment a few minutes ago, the Tories alone show a significant anti-swingback effect).

    As we all know, the Labour VI has been moving steadily down from about 8% above their 2010 figure in January 2014 to about 3% up over the last few weeks. This movement back to 2010 levels is strong enough to swamp the smaller Tory move away from their 2010 figures.

    A swingback protagonist might take heart at this calculation. After all, the political colour of governments is overwhelmingly determined by changes in support for the two main parties. But it is important to observe what is happening to the smaller parties as well. If they don’t participate in the ‘swingback game’ – as none of them have to date – then they won’t release support or regain support to help the main parties on their way.

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