There have been several polls this week showing both the Conservatives and Labour up at 35%, and given it’s a zero sum game that suggests the other parties are getting squeezed. There is a general expectation of this sort of squeeze as the election approaches – the nature of First Past the Post is that votes for smaller parties don’t stand much chance of being translated into MPs unless they are geographically concentrated and as the election approaches the media coverage almost inevitably focuses ever more upon the main contenders (though more on that later).

The graph below shows the average poll scores for the Greens and UKIP across the nine regular pollsters (for those pollsters who do several polls a month, I’ve taken their average across the month).


UKIP have been on a slow but steady downwards trend since their support peaked after Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless’s defections. This last month the decline may have flattened out a bit, but that is largely due to MORI having an unusually low score for them last month that jumped back up this month – without that the line would show a smoother downwards trend. The Green party’s advance seems to have halted last month and started to fade a little this month.

Of course, just because they might be getting squeezed shouldn’t distract from the fact that UKIP and the Greens are still doing incredibly well compared to the last election. In 2010 UKIP got 3%, the Greens 1% – both parties could suffer a bit more squeezing and still end up quadrupling the vote they got last time. For UKIP, there is also good news on the horizon, next week the campaign broadcasting restrictions kick in, guaranteeing them coverage as a major party. For most of the last few months UKIP’s media coverage has largely consisted of the latest row or resignation for inappropriate comments. Next week the broadcasters will have to start giving them more neutral coverage alongside the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems.

In other news, we had the monthly Survation poll for the Daily Mirror out today. Their topline figures were CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4% (tabs.

384 Responses to “Are UKIP and the Greens getting squeezed?”

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  1. This squeeze is not surprising, in fact it could have been more. However, the problem for UKIP is that even a small loss of support could make the differenece between winning any seats or none. Carswell inn Clacton may be a special case, as is Carolyn Lucas in Brighton.

  2. Well wherever the Tories are after the next election I can’t see the speaker being too friendly for a while!

  3. I think it safe to assume the whips will be very busy in the upcoming parliament. Well it’s hardly as if anyone is heading for a landslide victory, whereupon most votes don’t really need much effort to push through.

    I think it’s probably very rare to find a voter who knows who the chief whips are, even rarer who cares.

  4. @Unicorn

    Thanks for the prediction, which IMHO adds to rather than detracts from the discussion here.

    I have a feeling that many across the political spectrum may be coming to similar conclusions, or at least seriously countenancing such an outcome.

    This includes Conservative strategists. as I’m too generous to believe this morning’s events in parliament were motivated purely by spite and ‘pay back’ as the press have reported, but must have been a ploy for advantage in a knife edge HoC post GE.

  5. Reminder that tonight we’re being treated to a Paxo grilling of DC + Ed. 9pm on Channel 4, Sky News and the BBC News channel.

  6. @ Unicorn

    I think Jim jam could well be right about his theories on this “swingback” for Labour.

    We had a lot of discussions about defining swingback but the theory I held with was swingback to who they voted for last time rather than swingback to government. What was very noticeable in the last year was what poor retention Labour had on their 2010 vote and you have to start with the assumption “well if they voted Labour in 2010 surely they will vote for them this time” (although Anthony does warn us about churn and for some Lab 2010 voters Green, SNP and UKIP does give them an alternative they don’t normally have).

    It’s all guesswork but a couple of years back it seemed like Labour had their 2010 vote plus 33% of the LD 2010 vote. If you make the assumption that the 33% of LD vote was outside of normal mid parliament blues but something more like LD voters who had previously voted Labour returning home after a long absence, then base your swingback on that assumption, it makes sense that “focussing of minds” brings them back into the Labour camp however reluctantly.

    We may also be seeing this partly because of the closeness of the polls and voters more willing to be persuaded into ABT and ABL.

  7. PI

    Lord North was the first PM forced out of office by losing a no confidence vote.

    His fellow old Etonian PM today might be another.

  8. @Omnishambles

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Interesting isn’t it that having agreed on a format for the (not) debates, the press and the media not involved with hosting this first event seemed to have largely ignored it.

    I don’t watch much tv, so can’t really say whether C4 and Sky have been promoting their wares much, but it doesn’t strike me as an occasion likely to shift VI unless there are ‘gaffes’ or Miliband suddenly appears anew to the electorate. DC is a reliable performer when not off message.

  9. @Hawthorn 3.37pm

    My little bit of nonsense started from the premise of 29% being close to a third, I guess it’s just as equally close to a quarter.

  10. Only just dipped in to UKPR after another fruitful day oiling the wheels of industry, taking my place, as always, in the vanguard of the march of the makers.

    And what a delight to find a refreshingly objective and interesting discussion on the state of the polls. Unicorn and Assiduosity, as is their wont, have contributed excellent and thoughtful posts, as of course have quite a few others, and it’s nice to get some insights and perspectives that are not always readily aired. The debate about why the Labour vote is holding up is long overdue and it’s not one you tend to hear in a still Tory-centric media world where we’re normally treated to extracts from the best selling “101 reasons why the Tories will win” guide to psephology. This mentality spills into the centre left press too where defeatism and self-loathing is rife.

    For what it’s worth, I think a lot of the debate is wrongly framed, where Tory strengths are routinely overstated and Labour weakness too readily rehearsed. The polls should cause people to question these sometimes lazy preconceptions.

  11. @Old Nat

    Thank you for introducing the salient fact regarding the 2nd Earl of Guildford.

    Another was that he was a Prime Minister who many regard as having devoted too much time to ‘managing the Commons’ whilst matters of state were neglected.

    He lost ‘the American Colonies’.

    There is perhaps a note from history here for whoever becomes First Lord of the Treasury with whatever kind of mandate come May.

    North, luckily for him, had only to worry about an electorate that numbered little over 200,000 at its peak from a uniform class and economic background.

    A poll of 2,000 would have had fairly good MoE you’d imagine.

    “Am I understanding you correctly in that you believe EU ‘social democratic’ regulation across areas such as employment law, the environment and consumer protection has created an political context more conducive to the Labour Party by effectively re-aligning the political norm or centre more to their traditional territory?”
    Yes, well responded, but there are two or three factors which I would take further:
    The territory itself has changed, and continues to do so, to respond to global and technological changes which have enabled massive and instant movements of wealth accessible to a limited class of people and institutions no longer directly governed by political measures;
    The EU has had to respond both to its treaty origins, including the basis of the single market and the social chapter, but also with less well thought out or effective structural funding, which tried to equalise industrial and agricultural production regions which,both culturally and economically, are adverse to any shift in the level and location of production systems based in tradition and culture, and in geographical comparative advantage;
    thirdly, as you say, the shift in attiitudes to behaviour has occurred as much on the right as on the left, so that movement with a European or a global trend is not so much a moral or ideological issue as one of “management by objectives”:
    I would judge that Labour are seen, despite the claims of long-term planning by the Tories, as having an intent of investment, for example, in the integration of health with social care, in the integration of immigrant workers and families, and in housing, including specific social. including sheltered housing, which rings true in terms of a trend in expectations, reinforced by its common origins with other national experience in a European social programme.
    Discussion on this thread regarding an essentially industrial and trade competition with Far Eastern markets, which would support low wages and high immigration regardless of the provision of these social measures – “low wages don’t matter” – is the antithesis of a policy which would, with these social provisions, be based on high and equal earning and investment in the social and physical infrastructure to support it, and which would not be achievable without remaining unequivocally in the EU.

  13. @andyshadrack
    re your comments
    Am I missing something,it did not appear to say what UKIP Potential voting intentions might be eg. how many may switch to a.n.other party.Personally I think this will decide the election

  14. Assiduosity

    I considered adding that other parallel about losing places – but feared Anthony would not approve. :-)

  15. “The debate about why the Labour vote is holding up is long overdue and it’s not one you tend to hear in a still Tory-centric media world where we’re normally treated to extracts from the best selling “101 reasons why the Tories will win” guide to psephology. ”

    The Sun are the champions of this stuff.

  16. @John Pilgrim

    A truly interesting position and extensively thought through as is evident from your post.

    I’m not sure that we can explore it further here without – quite properly – falling foul of the comments policy.

    But it does lead me to wonder whether recent polling on EU membership that shows an up-tick in support for continued membership represents a collective acknowledgement and acceptance of this point of view by the public, even if it’s partly unconscious.

    In a very simplified form, have people become convinced that in a globalised market we can either belong to a club of countries with high standards of living and costs, or compete with low wage low cost economies to our own individual detriment?

    If this is the case, one could expect negative VI consequences for a Conservative Party that takes a line that strays from ‘best deal’ pragmatism to ideological anti European sentiment. This would seem to be what happened in the 1990s. It would also reinforce the idea that there is a definite ceiling on the top level of support for UKIP.

    One thing is certain, depending on the result of the GE and if we have a referendum on EU membership in 2017, we can expect much more enquiry into the electorate’s attitudes towards Europe over the months and years ahead.

  17. “Tory-centric media world where we’re normally treated to extracts from the best selling “101 reasons why the Tories will win” guide to psephology. ”
    The Sun are the champions of this stuff.”

    The rightwing press has been more vocal and partisan about this election than i can remember since 1992, but even in 1992 I don’t remember them quite being so blatant….The Mail quoted the observer poll showing the tories 3 points ahead and made a headline out of it, along the lines of Tory budget bounce rocks Miliband, or something to that effect.

    They barely mentioned the poll that they themselves had commissioned which was published on the same day which showed labour with a 4 point lead.

    As a centre right voter, this concerns me because IF the tories are booted out of downing street, the disappointment and psychological trauma will be that much greater, given how hyped their chances have been in their media. This worries me.

    If a teacher tells you that you will certainly pass an exam, the disappointment is so much greater if you subsequently fail it, than if you simply failed the exam without any expectations of success.

  18. An earlier poster raised the possibility that there was a pollster conspiracy to underestimate Ukip.

    Take heart, there is nothing pollsters hate more than Ukip… apart from getting results wrong.

    Therefore if your theory is correct, the pollsters will be obliged to up the figures just before the election so their fiendish plot is not revealed. Thereby giving a welcome Ukip surge just prior to the election.

    Have a look at the Wikipedia chart, Ukip surges DO happen at election times.

    I would be interested if anyone has a non-conspiracy theory to account for this.

  19. @PC

    Your worries may be connected with the earlier discussion regarding ‘post-war social democracy’. I have felt for some time that neither of the largest two parties is making much headway in breaking out of the ‘core vote’, but there are, at present, it seems to me, two differences between Labour and Tories.

    The first is that the core Tory vote is of an age when quite a few will no longer be with us by any 2025 GE, (and this despite the same sex marriage stuff etc) whereas Labour are still managing to appeal to younger people.
    Secondly, whereas the Tories are the major party on the right of centre, with UKIP still an unknown but not, seemingly, able to offer the Tories much help in terms of a Commons majority, let alone a majority in the country as a whole, Labour are accompanied (albeit to their constant annoyance!) by other left of centre parties who are able to assure them of a fairly friendly majority, not only in the Commons but also in society at large.

    If I were a Tory I would be rather concerned about the prospects not only for this GE but also for the next two.

    Sorry, Anthony, if this is ‘partisan’ – it was not intended to be.

  20. A bit early to write off the Conservatives IMO. I can’t see any polling that has led to this discussion.

  21. Unicorn

    Fairly good summary, and I think we have similar views about where the election (barring a “major” event). I suspect LD will underperform EF VI predictions by quite a bit, but in terms of seats it’ll be fairly close.

    I think tonights debates will be interesting to see how volatile the election might be. If there is a decent movement in the polls (I’d still expect it to wash out this far away from the election) it shows that a lot more scenarios are in play. If there is a clear winner and the polls don’t move, it seems we are likely locked into this stalemate.

    One of the issues with “why hasn’t there been a swing yet” could be very much a case of the swingback portion of the model not being time dependent (yes they reduce the effect as the election draws close to smooth out the transition to the final poll but essentially they assume that the amount of swing doesn’t vary over time), whereas in reality the degree of swing might be back loaded and the model is too simplistic to pick it up.

    It might end up at the right result, but the path might be wrong. Creating a more sophisticated model in the face of limited data sounds like a recipe for over fitting.

  22. @Bristolianhoward

    I was not ‘writing off’ the Conservatives, but expressing the view that they have yet to work out how to generate a wider consensus on the right of centre which will produce a parliamentary majority for them and any potential allies. Labour have the difficulty of herding cats, of course, but the left (if we include the LDs) do seem to have a definite majority, if not in the country then at least in the Commons, (Tories + UKIP v Lab + LD + GR + SNP +PC). How the left of centre parties intend to work together is yet to be established of course.

  23. As I was hearing back in the seventies the line that the Tory vote will just drop off as they are all getting older I reckon they should now be on minus figures in the polls.

  24. So perhaps I was wrong to say ‘in society at large’ at the end of my second point above (5.03). Perhaps it is not easy judging when you live in part of the UK where the Tories think they are doing well if they reach 17% and UKIP seldom gets above 3%!

  25. @Balbs

    Yes, of course – you are correct to point that out.

  26. @bristolian howard

    My thoughts as well. I feel like I should remind everyone (again) that the Conservatives, who now must be averaging 34%, are less than 3% from their 2010 voteshare.

    Less than 3% away from it.

    And they’re achieving that while UKIP is polling 12% compared to 3% in 2010. If you think the Conservatives have the ability to conduct an effect short campaign and you remember the typical under-polling of the Tories in various elections, there are reasons to expect the Tories to do well before you even factor in incumbency bonus or further UKIP squeezing.

    So even if the Lib Dems do badly, the Conservatives are not far from 300+ seat territory in which 20 Lib Dems and 9 DUP seats would push them into a majority. Note that an effective majority is 323 not 326, because of Sinn Fein abstention.

  27. ‘in which 20 Lib Dems ‘

    I see no way that the LDs would go into another coalition.

  28. Panelbase poll

    CON 34
    LAB 34
    LIB 5
    UKIP 15
    GRN 6

    I don’t know the changes – does anyone else?

    “I see no way that the LDs would go into another coalition.”

    Clegg said he would go into coalition with the largest party. Of course if you assume he loses his seat all bets are off. But I’m choosing to believe he’s sincere in my analysis

    Good points. Perhaps both the reality of immigration and the, the apparently continuing and necessary, presence of EU citizens in our work force, and the political position of the SNP, have been forces at work in this osmosis of opinion.

  30. Re: the poll I posted

    Apparently it is their first national poll by them so nevermind about changes

    Many thanks for Panel Base figures; UKIP, LD and Green look quite high.

    Beautiful day here in Bournemouth East seat beach

  32. Omnishambles

    I only see a LD coalition coming about if it’d form a stable government. The risk of signing up to a 5 year deal while other parties have the ability to pull the plug, (or a few by elections from the plug being pulled) could mean they take more pain but never get to the point where their influence comes to pass.

    If they enter a coalition, the other party will be on 310 seats, in which case they might well only be looking for C&S.

  33. Omnishambles

    Are there any Scottish cross-breaks from the Panelbase poll?

  34. Have all the polls this week shown Lab and Con within a point of each and a majority shown them even?

    With MOE of 2% or thereabouts is this just an unusual statistical quirk or does it mean perhaps some of the don’t knows and other uncertainties are firming up so the guesswork element of the polling is being reduced?

  35. @ Mibri

    Your right and that number of UKIP voters considering Conservative is 37%, Labour 14%, Green 10% and LD 7%.

    So equally true if UKIP collapses Conservative vote goes up by 37% of 25, or among definite UKIP considering voters 7% of 11.

    Clearly there are a large number of voters out there considering a number of options other than just one or two parties.

  36. SHEVII
    I would have thought the Tories would take an all square score at this stage, before the real campaign starts, as I think they will ‘squeeze’ UKIP and LD more than Labour

  37. For those of you remotely interested, there’s a council by-election in Glenrothes West and Kinglassie. See 2012 results:,_2012#Glenrothes_West_and_Kinglassie

    Basically the same Craig Walker of the SNP is looking to take the late Betty Campbell’s place. So either a 2-2 draw, or a 3-1 win is on the cards.

  38. @alan

    The coalition agreement is key. That Fixed Term Parliament Act people talk about so much, that was part of the price Conservatives paid for coalition. It’s had a major influence on our politics already.

    As I said before, I think the LD leadership must be very tempted by DC’s referendum promise. It’s great for the Lib Dems. They become distinctive in a way they aren’t now – they will be able to portray themselves as the pro-EU party in a way the Tories and Labour cannot. I think that’s critical for their long term survival – something to differentiate them from the other parties.

    But more importantly, the EU referendum allows the Lib Dems to demand loads from the Tories on day 1. They would be the only viable kingmakers. It’s an incredible amount of power. They could demand big concessions in return for the EU referendum, demand them to be passed ASAP, and spend the rest of the Parliament making showing the public the LDs actually stand for something.


    Not released yet. They will be out later, I will post them unless someone else does it first.

  39. If I’m not mistaken, most polls are national averages based on small samples. Some parties have big concentrations in limited areas, like the SNP. To some extent the Libs and UKIP have the same.
    We have huge indications of large popular support for UKIP form local activists and extra ordinary levels in several recent straw polls, MSN and the Telegraph for example, both with heavy participation.

    I have no more idea than anyone else what will happen in May but there are things going on that do not add up. I guess we’ll all have to wait and see.

  40. I’m surprised that no-one has commented on the link posted earlier by Peter:

  41. @Syzygy

    I posted the same link a few days ago, Catmanjeff replied that it is a similar method to his CUSUM method and he was please to see it matched his analysis.

  42. “As I was hearing back in the seventies the line that the Tory vote will just drop off as they are all getting older I reckon they should now be on minus figures in the polls.”

    I think the prospects of the centre right are better than the equivalent on the left…

    I am more concerned about the tories’ performance against labour in those marginals…

    the high labour vi is worrying. a 35% vote for labour requires the tories to be on 38% to have a chance of being the largest party. I am with smithson on that.

    The real hope of the tories was that the labour vi would continue its downward trajectory. 2014 was a torrid year for labour. I estimate they went down from about 38-39% to 33% in 10 short months….by november there was open revolt among the labour ranks, with leadership coups in the offing etc. The last 4 or 5 months have seen a stop in that decline and a slight increase in labour vi. slight, but significant.

    As Crossbat says the right wing media has simply hyped the tories and hasn’t really paid any attention to the one thing which would have guaranteed tory victory, the decline in the labour vote, which has stopped happening. this is possibly the most significant development in the last 4 months more significant, because contrary to the preceding trend, than the uptick in tory vi.

  43. Omnishambles

    I can’t see a coalition forming that required C&S from the DUP as well, if the LDs are down to 20-22 seats the arithmetic that makes Con + Lib viable and Con + DUP (and likely UKIP but who knows) in C&S unviable is pretty tight.

    It’s doable but requires a very specific set of numbers. If it were

    Con 310
    Lib 20

    I suspect that a deal will be done, a few more Con and C&S with DUP is probably more likely. A few less and a C&S with DUP + Lib.

    On the other side, if Lab hit 310, I can only see a C&S arrangement being offered. It’d be up to Lab to choose between Lib and SNP who’d have much weakened hands.

    I can’t see Lib pushing for a second election weeks after losing almost 2/3rds of their MPs. I think they would rather offer C&S and bring the government down over something unpopular 6 months later.

  44. @Syzygy

    Thanks for highlighting this again.

    I will leave it for others to comment on the statistical methodology, but taking the key messages at face value it seems UKIP and Green down, Conservative and Labour up.

    Everything, as has been much repeated, hangs on the campaign.

    Will it be a squeeze on the smaller parties, if so will who will gain from whom?

    Will UKIP gain a bounce from their major party status and the ‘impartial’ broadcast coverage that Anthony points out they are now entitled to?

    How will the war of attrition between Labour and the Conservatives play out in the marginals?

    Is there even the remotest possibility of a Labour recovery in Scotland?

    I’m of the view that far from being a pre-determined deadlock there is much to be played for if the big two can continue to command 70%+ between them.

    Whether either side has the energy, flair or skill to play a winning final leg is another matter.

  45. Assiduousity

    It could be that there comes a “Tipping point” where right now UKIPers believe their party is due a hatful of seats and will get to run parliament. If their vote keeps falling (below LD say) then this illusion might burst and swathes of them recognise a busted flush and skip out of dodge (Splitting favourably towards Con although a lot will just stay at home). Once they start going, Carswell aside, quite quickly the squeeze could hit hard.

    If they can hold their own in the debates, have no scandals for a week they could avoid this.

  46. Those Panelbase results will be a source of concern for LibDem activists.

  47. @alan

    I thought they would prefer support from both the LDs and DUP in order to form a more stable government. The Conservatives and DUP are pretty much on the same page, so the Tories won’t have to sacrifice much to get their support. I think the key DUP demands are an EU referendum and more defence spending. Not a hard sell to the party.

    Re: your comment about the Tories preferring DUP C&S to a coalition with more MPs – apparently Cameron would prefer a coalition to minority government, if this article is to be believed

    I don’t think UKIP support is likely. They want a referendum “before Christmas” (not happening), and it would tarnish their anti-establishment image, which is their biggest vote winner.

  48. DUP are holding their spring conference this weekend and will be setting out their position in fuller detail then.

  49. Does anyone know if there will be an “instant” poll after tonight’s debates?

  50. Here are Election Forecasts latest seat forecats, together with change since yesterday and since 15th March (when I started recording). Apologies as usual if it doesn’t format properly

    Con 284 = -2
    Lab 279 +1 +6
    SNP 38 -1 -4
    LibDem 26
    DUP 8
    SDLP 3
    Plaid 2
    UKIP 1
    Green 1
    Other 8

    Where nothing’s shown there’s no change. So according to EF’s methodology there does seem to be a slow drift to Labour, especially in Scotland. Does this count as swingback?

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