Just the two regular polls in Sunday’s papers. The weekly Opinium poll for the Observer has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6% (tabs), the weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has figures of CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5% (tabs). Both very much in line with the broader picture of Lab & Con almost neck and neck, Labour just a touch ahead.

YouGov asked whether people would consider voting for each of the main GB parties and their awareness of their policies. Of the two main parties, 40% would consider voting Conservative, 42% Labour – a slightly bigger pool for Labour but only just. The pool of potential voters for the other three substantial parties is pretty similar – 23% for the Lib Dems, 26% for UKIP, 25% for the Greens.

Asked about how aware of are of each party’s policies, 63% say they know a lot or a fair amount about Tory policies, compared to 59% for Labour, 45% for UKIP and 37% for the Lib Dems, 27% the Greens. Note how more people think they know about UKIP policies than those of the Lib Dems – a sign of how the Lib Dems have struggled to get a clear message out from within coalition.

YouGov also reasked the “protest party” question they asked about UKIP last year about the Greens. They found 15% of people think that the Greens are a serious party with workable policies, 56% a protest party for those unhappy with the main parties. These are very similar to the figures for UKIP, with UKIP 17% thought they were serious, 62% a protest party.

Moving onto other issues, 51% of people would support a ban on MPs having second jobs, but only 25% would support it were it to be offset by a higher salary. Asked about the current £67,000 salary for MPs and the appropriate level or reward for the sort of people they’d like to be MPs, 32% think the current salary is too much, 16% too little, 46% about right.

Finally there were some questions on defence and what sort of threats Britain should be prioritising. 16% of people think that Britain spends too much on defence, 49% too little, 20% about the right amount. By 52% to 18% people think we should be focusing resources on defending against threats from Islamist terrorism and insurgents, like Islamic State, rather than potential threats from states like Russia. 50% of people think that the West’s sanctions against Russia haven’t been strong enough, but on balance people are opposed to even the sending of British troops to help train and advise the Ukrainian army – 43% are opposed with only 36% support.

376 Responses to “Sunday polling round up”

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  1. Primus inter pares?

  2. More pares than primus?

  3. It would be interesting to have the protest party question asked about the Greens, UKIP and the LibDems in the same poll (you could certainly have usefully dropped some of the questions about Qatar)…

  4. @Chrislane1945

    Probably. But for *this* thread…

  5. I think the Observer should get a CMRoP for reporting their Opinium poll as “Ed Miliband on course for absolute majority” (which was subsequently revised to “could win an absolute majority”) http://d.gu.com/8myd13

  6. 34/34 is significant compared with 32/32 -four points less for the rest.

  7. 07052015
    Or,as I have argued, this is the continuation of a trend, mainly associated with a drift back of the UKIP labkipper and conkipper VI, which will accelerate as party policies and leaders become more equally known to the public as the campaign progresses.
    Nb #AW:
    “Asked about how aware of are of each party’s policies, 63% say they know a lot or a fair amount about Tory policies, compared to 59% for Labour, 45% for UKIP and 37% for the Lib Dems, 27% the Greens”

    Very good; I think Ed M may be feeling a little more confident this weekend, with nine weeks and three more full days of campaigning to go.

  9. Looks like a bit of a drift towards the main two parties.

    We could have a result that is both close in outcome to February 1974 and also in the vote share for the main two parties.

  10. Though 37.9-37.2 on a UK basis for the Tories and Labour would very probably result in Labour having significantly more seats, and maybe even a majority.

  11. http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/homepage.html

    Electoral calculus gives some food for thought this month.

    It is often dismissed, because of swingback, but we only have two months left. There will only be 2 more electoral calculus “current predictions”, as the website calls them.

    Currently, it is predicting

    Lab 301
    Con 265
    LD 15
    UKIP 1
    Green 1
    SNP 46
    PC 3
    NI 18

    Obviously, most projections have labour lower and conservative higher, and lib dem higher…but the electoral calculus prediction does highlight the problem the tories are in, given how little time there is left.

    I put this at the end of the last thread, but was interested to see what people think….

    there’s a real dissonance between the current state of polling and its implications for the composition of the house of commons, and various projections and betting….

    Something has to “give” in the next few weeks. Either projections and betting will change, or the polling will shift. An interesting period.


    Good Afternoon to you. Do you think the Lib Dem figure of 15 looks high? I have begun to feel this.

    Big day today, elsewhere at Glasgow Celtic and Manchester City, with the Dublin rugby to come.

  13. Just had my first election leaflet come to the house, from Jeremy Hunt, in SW Surrey.

    The odd thing, is that it reads like it’s punting candidates for the local council elections, not parliament. It’s full of “achievements” – by Con local coucils: paving roads, upgrading a leisure centre, the need to improve parking at Haslemere station

    But it’s clearly attempting to promote Jeremy, whose face is all over it – with not a word about the Tory record in government, or any of the issues that polling usually identifies as voters’ top concerns in a parliamentary election. Nothing on the economy, or on education, or on Europe – or even on health and the NHS!


  14. Saffer,

    Are you having local elections on the same day? If it’s a safe Tory seat at Westminster but a competitive council seat, then focusing on local issues makes sense.

  15. Anyone have thoughts whether the Fixed Term Parliament Act would be easy to remove? Presumably you just need a majority in the Commons. Why would MPs vote against that, other than Lib Dems, whose policy idea it was?

  16. Bill,

    Yes, we do have local elections the same day – but this is not a generic Con leaflet targeting local elections. It’s quite clearly promoting “Jeremy Hunt – working for South West Surrey (the name of the constituency)”, and contact info is for the constituency office.

    The implication, is that he’s more proud of his work as a local rep, than of his time in government office.

  17. @ Peter Crawford

    Electoral calculus gives some food for thought this month.
    It is often dismissed, because of swingback…

    The EC model does not use swingback. It uses a non-UNS algorithm for distributing lost votes across different constituencies, but doesn’t then adjust the VIs or seat projections in line with assumptions about changes expected to happen between now and the election.

    I don’t really know why @AW has never included its projections in the summaries he posts each week. Personally, I treat its projections with considerable scepticism because it doesn’t seem to take systematic account of constituency polling data. It has also proved less accurate than Electionforecast in predicting Ashcroft constituency polls before they are published. It was launched a long time ago and has been through several election cycles, but by turning a blind eye to constituency polling data it has fallen behind the times and I have little doubt that in its prediction accuracy it will be beaten hands down by most of the other models.

    Because of this, I think you are misleading yourself if you think the Tories still have a big mountain to climb. I’m pretty confident that the other models (but not UNS or Advanced Swingometer) have it right and that the two main parties are neck and neck at the moment.

  18. @ProfHoward

    I agree – if there is a hung Parliament then the FTPA goes pretty much immediately. No-one seems to want a coalition, so, oddly, abandoning this Act could be sold as aiding stability.

  19. @ Profhoward

    Re: FTPA

    This was analysed at length in the Simon Heffer article a link to which was posted on the previous thread at 9.43 am by @07052015.

    A very thorough piece in my view and he reaches the opposite conclusion to yours – namely that it would be difficult to get rid of the Act.

  20. On MP’s salaries, I’ve long said that it should be a fixed multiple of median earnings, and that the only debate to be had is what the multiple should be.

    Personally I’m against second jobs. Being an MP should be one of two things. Either a vocation – something that you can’t get enough of – in which case the levels of compensation are more than adequate and you wouldn’t want to do anything else. Or it should be a step along the career path, be that within politics or across a variety of fields. A gateway, an opportunity for personal advancement, but nonetheless a full-time job whilst you are in it.

    Going on that logic, MP’s earnings are fine, and the notion that backbenchers be paid on par with GPs is ludicrous. But if you want the best career-minded politicians, then without question the additional roles are significantly underpaid, especially given the probability and legality of losing the role at the boss’s whim, or because he called a little old lady a bigot.

    Compare for instance the total impact of an out-of-depth headteacher and out-of-depth Education Minister or Secretary, and the difficulty and cost of getting rid of the wrong one. To give a real example, while I have little sympathy for Rifkind’s views on entitlement to earn more on account of calibre (he could have done so very easily post-97, but instead chose to return), it is true to say that he was vastly underpaid for his committee work.

  21. @The Sheep
    @Prof Howard

    The FTPA needs a 2/3rds majority to repeal.

  22. @UNICORN

    I have just re-read Simon Heffer’s article. He seems to be arguing that the Fixed-Term act has no real support (outside Lib Dems) and that it should be repealed now. I don’t see anything in his article that says the Act would be hard to repeal after the election. I think that’s what is puzzling me. Since this Act has no support outside the Lib Dems, why would MPs *not* vote to repeal it? Then we get a second election in the Autumn if this one does not give us a workable outcome.

  23. @Couper2802:

    Are you sure? I thought it can be repealed on a simple majority, like any other act. I don’t think any act can establish that it needs 66% of votes to repeal.

    I think you may be mixing it up with the majority needed to pass a no confidence motion: a No Confidence Motion requires a 2/3 majority to bring down at Govt. But that’s a different thing from repealing the Act, which is much easier.

    If that makes sense.

  24. February Churn Report


    Time’s wingéd chariot hurries near, but the polling situation remains more or less the same. Although the hopeful eye can detect the first hints of swingback for the Coalition parties, nothing is moving at a rate that suggests they will be returned to government. Labour’s position remains lousy but static, with no sign of the swing to the Government most swingback models suggest. Instead the churn seems to be coming from Ukip and the Greens. Meanwhile up in Scotland the SNP remain masters of all they survey.

    The Conservatives


    The Tories were hoping January would be the month of crossover. It wasn’t. February wasn’t either. Still, they can be very pleased with their trendline, which is moving sharply in the right direction. Unfortunately for them they’ve been here before. They were here at the end of January (in mid-February their VI took a hit, possibly from Lord Fink), and they were here at conference, and they were here for the first half of last summer before they moved up to the giddy heights of 34%. Joy is so fleeting.


    The Tories’ rise seems mostly to be due to Bluekippers returning home, and since it corresponds with a long-term decline in Ukip VI I’ll cautiously ascribe it to genuine swingback and say they’re likely to hold on to their gains this time, although it could still just be noise. Whatever it is, it’s not going to keep the removal men away form Number 10 unless it continues at this pace until the election. That hasn’t happened before in this parliament, and I wouldn’t count on it happening in the next two months.



    Labour doesn’t seem to be haemorrhaging voters at the moment. By Labour’s recent standards, this is a significant accomplishment. After a period at the end of January when they seemed to be enjoying some modest swingback, they stuck a flag on their current crappy plateau of 33.5% and made camp there. If they remain there until the election and the Tories can’t get their act together, this will be enough to make Ed Miliband Prime Minister, but with such a weak mandate that no one will be quite sure how he got there.

    He’s been leading the Labour Party on that basis for five years, so he’s probably used to it by now.


    Labour’s big problem remains their terrible retention, which has basically been static (and crap) since October. If they could get it up to where it was last August in England and Wales (Scotland I think we can officially declare a lost cause), their “largest party” status would be secure unless the Tories managed a spectacular resurgence. Unfortunately for Labour the Redkippers have kept Kipping and the… Watermelons? have kept Greening. There are some faint signs they may be drifting back, but until the churn persists for more than a week I think we have to write it off as noise.

    The Lib Dems


    At last the Lib Dems have raised their little yellow heads from the abyss and started to swim upward towards the light. So far they’ve managed to make it to 7.5%, but that’s a 15% gain from where they were, so well done them! They’ve also overtaken the Greens as the fourth party. Unlike Labour and especially the Tories who tend to bump up and down a lot, the Lib Dems’ VI is generally pretty flat, so I’m confident that this is real swingback and they’ll be able to hold on to their gains.


    Most of it is coming from the LD -> Green churn, which has dipped a bit with a corresponding increase in Lib Dem retention.



    The purple tide continues to ebb, as it tends to do whenever the Kippers don’t have an imminent election to drum up media coverage for them. (Farage hasn’t been on Question Time for weeks!) The public are also increasingly convinced the party is racist, which can’t be helping their image. They’ll be disappointed to learn that the recent high immigration figures don’t seem to have boosted their VI.

    If they continue to fade at their current rate they’ll probably be down to 12% by May, but that’s nothing to sneer about for a party that won only 3% of the vote in 2010.


    As Catmanjeff noted in last week’s churn report, the big decline seems to be from the Bluekippers. Churn from Labour and the Lib Dems appears to have plateaued and remained more or less static since October, although of course there was much less of it in the first place and the Tories continue to supply 50% of the Ukip vote. The First In-Last Out Hypothesis is not holding up very well.

    The Greens


    Evidence continues to mount that we have hit peak Green. Specifically, it happened in mid-January and the trajectory has been downhill ever since. I doubt they’ll be higher than 5% by the election, possibly lower.


    The big loss, like the big gains, comes from the Lib Dems, who are now starting to drift home. The Greens got a spike from both the Lib Dems and Labour in mid-February (Fink?) that has subsequently disappeared, and as a result the trend from both parties is downward. It’s worth keeping an eye on those numbers. The Labour -> Green plateau has been around 1% of the electorate since the autumn, and if the churn falls below that we’re probably seeing real swingback. Likewise LD -> Green below 3% would be significant.

    The Nationalists


    Who will challenge the SNP in their highland fortress? Probably not Jim Murphy, at least by May. No change round here.


    On the plus side for Scottish Labour, nothing they’ve done recently has made things worse. Nothing has made things better either. Churn levels are stable across the board.

  25. @Prof Howard

    You are correct the 2/3rds s for an early election

  26. Blech, I knew I was forgetting something.

    Don’t Knows and Not Voting


    Labour DKs remain historically high, but everything has been pretty static since December. On these levels, assuming the Tories and Labour go home and the Lib Dems scatter to the winds in roughly the same proportions as their more certain comrades, Labour will be the slight beneficiaries of the DKs making up their minds. If on the other hand current DKs are more heavily influenced by the campaigns or the possible debates than more certain voters, all bets are off.

    These voters add up to a good 10% of the electorate, so they could prove decisive. They’re also predominantly female, a demographic that’s tended to break for Labour in recent polling (and against Ukip).

    Not Voting remains low as we near the election.

    (Experienced readers will realise this post implies there is a churn report in automod lurking just above it. So there is.)

  27. @Prof Howard

    If would only be repealed if there was a majority government because the junior partner wouldn’t let the large partner repeal it and the opposition won’t want to give the government extra power

  28. As it currently stands it may well actually be an easier procedural motion to repeal or amend the fixed term act, than pass a confidence motion through it.

  29. @Couper2012 and @Jayblanc

    If either Labour or Tories get in as a minority government, with a confidence-and-supply arrangement, which is what many expect this time, perhaps they would want to keep the Act, as it stops what happened to Callahan happening to them?

    But, in that circumstance, what I don’t understand is how easy it is for the opposition parties to just repeal the Act, compared to a confidence vote.

  30. @ Saffer,

    Given the popularity of the Lansley reforms I probably wouldn’t mention them in my leaflet either.

    Plus, considering the nature of the constituency and the collapse of the Lib Dems, the biggest threat (such as it is) seems likely to come from Ukip running an anti-metropolitan-elite attack. He can’t mention immigration because that would just boost it, so he’s telling everyone he’s a good constituency MP instead.

    I reckon you’ll get a “Vote Ukip, get Labour” one and an economy one with Cameron and Osborne in hard hats in the near future.

    @ Unicorn,

    It’s worth noting that UNS with correct figures for Scotland and Wales added in gives roughly the same result as Electoral Calculus. I’m not saying either result is likely to be accurate, but they do back each other up.

    And we’re not sure the other models are any good either. We don’t really know that the constituency polling is a valid metric for assessing the accuracy of the models until we see how it matches the election result.

  31. Fixed term:

    How to make a dog’s breakfast – act in haste, repent at leisure.
    For example
    “Treasury Solicitor’s Department wrote that:
    It is not altogether clear what happens where a prerogative power has been
    superseded by statute and the statutory provision is later repealed but it is likely to be the case that the prerogative will not revive unless the repealing enactment makes specific provision to that effect.”
    That I think would need a PM with a secure overall majority, to get back the prerogative power Cameron gave up. They will regret not adopting the Lords’ “sunset clause”

  32. @ProfHoward

    A Government would still be kicked out if it lost a vote of confidence… If there is a coalition with a workable majority then it might stand. But if there is C&S, or if the coalition looks unstable, why would anyone want to keep it?

  33. @ Prof. Howard,

    Only the Government can table legislation unless an opposition MP gets lucky in the Private Members’ Bill lottery and the Tory Filibuster Team or the Government whips don’t wreck the bill. (Although repealing the Fixed Term Parliaments Act is the sort of thing the Tory Filibuster Team might support.)

    It’s easier to table the confidence motion because you just need an opposition day or a widely supported EDM to do it.

    On the other hand, it’s generally in the Government’s interest for the PM to be able to call an election and the Opposition might be hoping to use an early election to bring down a minority government, so I could see both sides agreeing to repeal the act early in the Parliament before it becomes obvious who’d be favoured by an early election.

  34. Or a Ten Minute Rule Bill, I guess those are actual bills. You could probably try to do it that way although you’d run into the same whips/TFT problem.

  35. Spearmint

    “On the other hand, it’s generally in the Government’s interest for the PM to be able to call an election and the Opposition might be hoping to use an early election to bring down a minority government, so I could see both sides agreeing to repeal the act early in the Parliament before it becomes obvious who’d be favoured by an early election”

    I am trying to think about that if I were Ed Miliband. Would I repeal the act, thus giving me the chance to go to the country again, or would I keep it, which allows me to “hang on” for 5 years, passing laws on confidence and supply.

    Perhaps the latter is the most likely outcome.

    What happens if the parliament can’t pass a budget bill?

  36. The other issue with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act is that it’s not actually repealable- once Parliament removes a royal prerogative there’s no constitutional mechanism by which to give it back.

    So they have to pass a new replacement act with transfers the power over to the Prime Minister, or to Parliament, or something. It’s non-trivial.

    The most straightforward thing would probably be to amend the existing Fixed Parliament Act so that loss of confidence automatically triggers an election without the fourteen-days-to-form-an-alternate-government business. (This would probably be a good idea anyway because otherwise the smaller parties can just use it to troll/blackmail the Government: Day 1: “Ooh, we have no confidence in the Government! Down you go!” Day 13: “Give us X and we’ll offer you confidence and supply again.”)

  37. Spearmint

    Do you think the FT act makes it more comfortable and attractive to run a minority government? You don’t have those Callahan problems.

  38. @Spearmint

    Why do you say that? I would think it would simply be a case of returning to the previous status quo.

  39. @ Prof. Howard,

    If I were Miliband I probably wouldn’t, because I’d have my choice of C&S partners- the SNP/Plaid/Green Bloc, the DUP and Lib Dems will all give it to me, so if I get sick of one I can dump them and the Fixed Term Parliament Act buys me time to haggle with the others, and I know that most of my legislative agenda will have majority support.

    If I were Cameron I might be tempted, because how the hell am I going to pass anything in the next Parliament? The Lib Dems are very unlikely to go into coalition again and not even the DUP support most Conservative policies. So it’s either sit on my hands for five years or go to the electorate and try to win a few more seats.

    What happens if the parliament can’t pass a budget bill?

    They have to pass income tax every year or it would be chaos, but the rest of the budget could probably be detached from that. I suspect the Lib Dems and the DUP will give supply votes to whoever needs them, though, so the only situation in which this problem is likely to arise is if (Tories + SNP) is a majority.

  40. Spearmint

    That makes sense.

    Ironic that Cameron brought through a Bill that is of greater potential benefit to Miliband come a minority government.

  41. Labour will have a majority of at least 35 but maybe slightly more. You will see.. SNP will get 10 seats at most.

  42. @ The Sheep,

    It’s a thing: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/01/stalemate-legal-mechanics-having-two-general-elections-year

    Scroll down to “Second, there is a constitutional/legal problem”. There’s a debate, but at best it’s legally questionable- not the sort of straightforward thing that’s easy to pass without the aid of the Government and its legal experts.

  43. More pares than primus?

    maior pares quam primus, surely?

  44. So to summarise;

    The British Public want to spend more on armed forces that can take on and defeat the current high profile threat in the news as long as we don’t actually use it.

    Strangely enough that is pretty close to UKIPs “Fortress Britain” approach; Strong conventional and nuclear forces but designed to defend the UK rather than get involved abroad. It would also fit in with not liking the EU having an international role or for that matter letting Former Soviet Bloc countries into Nato.

    I wonder if they would expel the New entries or indeed Greece & Turkey in favour of a smaller Aaliance or even just a much smaller “Anglophile Alliance”;

    UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa.


  45. @ ProfHoward

    why would MPs *not* vote to repeal it?

    From the article itself:

    ..hit would require a vote of two-thirds of the House of Commons, something unlikely to happen because it would entail large numbers of turkeys voting for Christmas.

  46. GROUCHO1936,

    As you seem to be a new or infrequent poster, I might just add that on here “You Will See” doesn’t count as evidence based analysis!

    It’s like school, we like to see your reasoning and how you worked it out!


  47. @Spearmint

    Thanks again for your churn report. It looks like we need to closely watch those don’t knows.

    In Ashcrofts smell the coffee he mentioned being able to track them and seeing certain percentages making up their minds when looking at the 2005 election

    “More than a third of voters (34%) had decided how they would in 2004,or even earlier than that. 15% said they had made up their minds between January and April, with a further 16% deciding in the first half of the campaign. But more than a fifth (22%) – and, perhaps by definition, half of all floating voters – remained undecided until the last couple of days before the election”

    But we seem to have less don’t knows than that 22% already and have for a long time now, and they don’t seem to be declining that much as we get closer to the big day. Do we need to be looking at certain to vote vs may change their mind to see what he was talking about?


    Great charts.

  49. @Spearmint

    Good punchy report!

    I would quibble with just s couple of your observations. Referring to the Tories you write:

    Still, they can be very pleased with their trendline, which is moving sharply in the right direction.

    Sharply? As far as I am aware there has been no reliable increase in Tory VI sincd January 2014. Over this entire period, they have been stuck on 32%. There may have been a numerical rise in recent weeks but nothing that can’t be perfectly well explained by random variation.

    Turning to the LibDems, you write:

    They’ve also overtaken the Greens as the fourth party.

    This statement implies that they were demoted to 5th position at some point. Using the full range of polls, there is no point at which this happened. YouGov polls apparently showed such an effect but no one tested it statistically and in any case I would argue that there are strong grounds for following Anthony’s Polling Averages and so basing summaries on data from ALL polls.

    Quibbles, as I say. Very helpful overall.

  50. Anthony

    Thanks for adding a Green cross break to Yougov. Now we just need one more for the undecided voters so we can try and figure out where they are likely to go :)

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