Six weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls:

Opinium/Observer (19/3) – CON 36%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Survation/MoS (21/3) – CON 30%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3%
Populus(22/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (22/3) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Mail (22/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 10%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Times (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (24/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Survation/Mirror (25/3) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (25/3) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Panelbase (26/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/3) – CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
Populus (26/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%

It’s been a busy week in terms of voting intention polls – ComRes have now moved to weekly polling for the Daily Mail, Survation did two ones (one for the Mail on Sunday and one for the Mirror) and we got the first UK poll from Panelbase. Five of the polls showed dead heats between Labour and the Conservatives, there were three Tory leads and six Labour leads. The bigger picture remains one of the two main parties being neck-and-neck, but there have been slightly more Labour leads than Tory ones in recent polls, so the UKPR polling average this week has Labour one point ahead – CON 33%(nc), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 5%(-1).

Scottish and London polls

ICM had new Scottish and London polls out this week. In Scotland they found Westminster voting intentions of CON 14%(+1), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 6%(nc), SNP 43%(nc), UKIP 7%(nc), GRN 3%(-1), changes are from their previous Scottish poll in December. At 16 points ICM show a slightly smaller SNP lead than some other companies, but there is no significant change from their previous poll, suggesting its something methodological rather than a narrowing of the SNP lead.

This morning ICM had a London poll for the Guardian. Voting intentions for that were CON 32%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9%, GRN 8%. That represents a four point swing from Conservative to Labour since the general election – the equivalent of a one point Labour lead in national polls – so again suggests that the swing in London is much the same as in the rest of the country.

Week 12

  • David Cameron ruled out standing for a third term as Prime Minister. Unusual not because of the content – if he wins he was widely expected to stand down at some point after the European referendum anyway – but because he said it, out loud, to a journalist. In terms of public opinion 55% of people said Cameron was right to rule out a third term, 18% wrong. A majority of supporters of all parties – including Tory voters – thought it was the right thing to do. 21% of people said it made them think better of Cameron, 9% worse of him, but for the majority of people it made no difference to how they viewed him.
  • The final PMQs of the Parliament was dominated by exchanges on ruling out tax rises. Asked before Cameron ruled out a VAT rise and Ed Balls ruled out a National Insurance rise, at the start of the week YouGov found 43% of people expected tax to go up if Labour won, 29% expect it to go up if the Conservatives win. Under a Labour government, 43% expected income tax to rise, 41% expected fuel duty to rise, 39% expected national insurance to rise… but only 22% expected VAT to go up. Under a Tory government 34% expected fuel duty to rise, 31% expected VAT to rise, 29% expected NI to rise and 25% expected income tax to rise.
  • The debate debate finally came to an end with an agreement to have four events: a Paxman interrogation of Miliband and Cameron; a seven-way debate between Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Uncle Tom Cobley and all; a debate between the five opposition parties and a Question Time special with Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, one after the other. The Paxman interrogation took place last night. An ICM poll straight after the debate found people thought Cameron came out better than Miliband by 54% to 46% – we will have to wait until the weekend to see if it has any impact upon either voting intentions or perceptions of the leaders. Over the last five years Cameron has consistently had better ratings than Miliband, so in many ways a performance that’s pretty even has the potential to help Miliband far more than Cameron. As ever, time will tell.
  • The physical mechanics of the general election have started to kick in. Yesterday Parliament was prorogued, on Monday it will be dissolved and the writ issued and we’ll be off. The start of the formal campaign means various bits of regulation kick in, including the broadcasting restrictions requiring coverage of the main parties and spending limits upon the parties.


The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below (the Polling Observatory team are doing fortnightly predictions, so nothing new from them this week). Three of the models continue to show the Conservatives with just a few more seats than Labour, but Steve Fisher’s prediction from Elections Etc now has them 35 ahead of Labour. This is due to a methodology change rather than a move in opinion – Steve’s model for predicting the vote shares in England & Wales remains unchanged, but he’s no longer assuming such a big drop in SNP support in Scotland, and has rejigged how he translates projected votes into seats based on Ashcroft and YouGov polling (it’s explained in more detail here.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 296(+12), LAB 261(-17), LD 21(nc), SNP 47(+6), UKIP 5(+2)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 283(-1), LAB 280(+2), LD 26(+1), SNP 38(-2), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 273(-4), LAB 271(+3), LD 24(nc), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 5(+2)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 277(nc), LAB 269(+1), LD 25(nc), SNP 53(-1), UKIP 4(nc)

367 Responses to “Six weeks to go”

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  1. @ Statgeek

    One other suggestion, before we wear out Anthony’s patience, is to record a macro of you doing it manually, from the very first step of opening the file, & then ‘step into it’ from VBA & have a look at the code which ‘excel’ has written itself. Compare to your code which works for ChartObjects & edit accordingly.

    I do this as an aide memoir when I can’t remember the coding which I want.

  2. Regarding the Channel 4/Sky interview/question time program;

    The most interesting thing was the response of the kippers. In places they hang out, like the DM comments, they seemed to be bracketing the personal attacks on Miliband with the attacks on Farage, steered by Farage declaring that Miliband had won and tweeting his sympathy for the way he was jostled on his way to the Channel 4 studios.

    One typical comment was “The attacks on Ed and Nige shows that LibLabCon are running scared”.

    Which means we’re in the interesting situation where the leader of Lab is somehow not part of ‘LibLabCon’! And in turn this means it’s harder for the ‘Vote UKIP get Ed’ thing to work because it’s hard to fear someone you’ve just been empathising with.

    And of course Farage understands that, hence the way he’s steering his flock. This election is like a game of five dimensional chess with multiple strategies all interacting with each other.

  3. @Candy

    Farage was always likely to play that hand. Ukip have a better chance of winning Tory seats than Labour ones. Just because he was not a participant in the event doesn’t mean he did not have a vested interest in the post-event spin.

  4. @Bramley

    YouGov and Survation – according to Mike Smithson.

    And in a lowbrow moment, the Lab election launch was greeted by placard wielding people in Salmond masks stating amongst other things: “I will prop you up”; the Tory election launch was greeted by a flock of chickens.

  5. Good morning from Canada.

    I have yet another question for the statisticians and pundits on this list, maybe Anthony Wells himself.

    If the statistical dynamics of “swingback” theory are an attempt to adjust polling respondents answers to the value each Party obtained in the 2010 UK GE, and then slowly switch that statistical adjustment off as the weeks tick down to the actual election day – is there then not a very real possibility for the Conservative and LD that, the cause and effect designed in “swingback”, could actually see their voter values decline as we get closer to the election?

    In other words if “swingback” has not occurred and the various models then switch it off, is not going look like these two parties have declining support the closer we get to the election, when in fact if “swingback” had not been applied it would have looked like their voter value were holding steady?

    Likewise which ever parties suffer as a result of “swingback” being applied is it not then going to look like their voter value are rising when in fact it could also have been holding steady all along?

    In other words is there not an inherent danger in “swingback” theory design that if it does not kick in, but is still applied, that it in effect “swingback” causes some party values to appear as something they are not in reality.

  6. RAF
    “Ukip have a better chance of winning Tory seats than Labour ones.”

    That’s probably true, but I think they will do very well in the Midlands and Northern cities which are mostly solid Labour and Tories are a toxic brand. The anti-Labour vote that does exist may well coalesce around UKIP, especially with LibDems collapsing.

    UKIP may not win any of these seats but I would expect them to come second in quite a lot, providing a springboard for next time round.

  7. @May2015 have published a list of forecasts from a dozen academics; they differ widely, except they all agree on a huge SNP win, and that there will be no winner.


    As we all know, there’s an unprecedented anti UKIP propaganda campaign.

    If we look at that ComRes/Mail poll putting UKIP at only 10%, it is reasonable to assume it was either a rogue poll or it was rigged. As it was for the Daily Mail, which is pro Con / anti UKIP, it is not unreasonable to assume the poll might have been rigged. Indeed, there has been clear evidence that votes for readers’ comments in MailOnline have sometimes been blatantly fiddled as part of the pro Con anti UKIP agenda.

    For you to try and silence comment about this on UKPR only adds weight to what is going on.

  9. Indeed Simon.

    I am an integeral part of a major conspricacy to deliver anti-UKIP propaganda.

    There have been thousands, just like me, despatched to quell the relentless tide of truth rising from project Farage.

    Not really.

    Even my dog doesn’t listen to me ;-)

  10. Simon

    No, I don’t know about this conspiracy.

    Please enlighten me with the evidence that convinced you of such.

  11. Simon
    I don’t think you help your own cause by picking on one poll and inferring a conspiracy. On the same day there was a pll giving UKIP 18%. The average was therefore 14%, pretty much UKIP’s average lately.

  12. Catmanjeff,

    “Even my dog doesn’t listen to me”

    You should use a dog-whistle. Some people on here seem to find them everywhere!

  13. Also, I would have assumed that you kept a cat rather than a dog. Or maybe you have both.

  14. @Bill

    We rescue animals.

    Current tally 4 dogs and 8 cats….


  15. @ Simon

    As we all know, there’s an unprecedented anti UKIP propaganda campaign.

    Any evidence? A) anti-UKIP; b) propaganda; c) unprecedented; d) we all know

    If we look at that ComRes/Mail poll putting UKIP at only 10%, it is reasonable to assume it was either a rogue poll or it was rigged.

    False dichotomy fallacy. I can have thousand more explanations. It was probably an outlier.

    As it was for the Daily Mail, which is pro Con / anti UKIP,

    It’s pro house price increase and pro high interest rate newspaper.

    it is not unreasonable to assume the poll might have been rigged.

    This is what makes it conspiracy theory. Polling companies make most money from commercial polling. It’s a reputation as business.

    Indeed, there has been clear evidence that votes for readers’ comments in MailOnline have sometimes been blatantly fiddled as part of the pro Con anti UKIP agenda.

    Non sequitur fallacy. I don’t really care with newspapers’ comments’ things. It’s frightening to read them, but sometimes quite amusing. Anthony Wells sometimes kills off posts and odd bits are left behind, which could give rise to conspiracies (or even voodoo).

    For you to try and silence comment about this on UKPR only adds weight to what is going on.

    How can CMJ silence you? If you have evidence for deliberate manipulation of polls, UKPR is not the place anyway – it would probably either a criminal or a civil offence. If it’s your opinion, then perhaps evidence would be useful.

  16. Question :

    When was the last time a party who won the most seats at a General Election didn’t go on to form the government ?

    I ask this because I’ve just listened to Nicola Sturgeon’s speech.

    It would seem if the Tories won the most seats , but not enough to achieve a majority , the SNP would side with Labour to form a Labour government.

    They propose to ‘lock out the Tories’ even if the Tories get the most MP’s.

    Would Miliband go along with this ?
    Would the English accept a Labour government propped up by a party who wants to leave the Union ?

  17. Robin Holden
    “lock out the Tories’ even if the Tories get the most MP’s.”

    If he PM cannot command the confidence of the House he’s history, and the Q will find someone who can. End of.

    “Would the English accept a Labour government propped up by a party who wants to leave the Union ?”

    ‘The English’ seem quote content to accept governments that are elected by less than 30% of the electorate. And so what if the SNP wants independence?

  18. @SIMON
    My only real concern about polls being biased in any particular direction is the recalled 2010 vote which in one way or another is used by most polling companies. People who know how this works may well be economical with the truth when answering this question. Even so it would take a lot of false answers to move the polls very much. There could also be a question as to whether the on line, poll answering, community is representative of the country as a whole but that is hard to measure. The chances of a big polling company allowing a poll to be deliberately rigged however, are pretty well nil.

  19. @Amber et al

    The solution:

    Sub ChartResize()
    Dim cht
    Set cht = ActiveChart
    ActiveChart.ChartArea.Height = Application.CentimetersToPoints(16.86)
    ActiveChart.ChartArea.Width = Application.CentimetersToPoints(25.84)
    End Sub

    If I want, I can go to next chart and execute, or I can add…

    ActiveChart.ChartArea.Height = Application.CentimetersToPoints(16.86)
    ActiveChart.ChartArea.Width = Application.CentimetersToPoints(25.84)

    …for each chart, and so on.

    Quite pleased with that. Thanks to all. :))

  20. @Lazslo et al

    There’s nothing new about a profit cap in government contracts. I’ve worked under open book accounting and capped margins since at least the nineties.
    The tricky bit is defining /agreeing what costs are allowable. Not unrelated to ‘not-for-profit’ free school providers who find themselves paying heavy consultancy fees to commercial parent companies, nor indeed to multinationals who find their IPR are conveniently domiciled in Luxembourg or the BVI.

  21. I should add that if UKIP supporters have a look at the readership polls run from time to time by most of the press and where the respondents are self selecting, they will doubtless find some comfort.

  22. @Guymonde

    I work for an automotive supplier.

    The big boys are increasingly expecting ‘open-pricing’ in contracts with them. You have to tell them what it costs to manufacture your widget.

    Some contracts also have binding price cut, year on year on year. If you don’t make annual efficiencies, you quickly lose money.

    We know they exist but I have yet to be convinced that they represent value for money or are an effective method of keeping costs down.

  24. Mike N

    Depends on if the price extracted by the SNP was seen as fair by the public. Arguments about legitimacy would go out of the window if the perception was there was a fast one pulled in exchange for the keys to Downing Street. Perception matters in the court of public opinion.

    I can’t believe Labour would bend over that far anyway, what could the SNP do, bring down both sides and rerun the election?

  25. From Mike Smithson – Tonight’s first poll will be Opinium for the Observer. Last time they had the Tories ahead by 3%.

  26. Interesting footnote to the banking crisis. Andorra is in crisis, as one of it’s banks has been targeted by the US on money laundering charges. With a banking sector worth 20% of GDP, there is a real crisis developing.

    The interesting thing is that Andorra uses the Euro on an informal basis, with no central bank. If the banking sector collapses, there is no possibility of a bail out.

    [Snip – for ***** sake don’t start that! AW]

  27. Charts updated folks (click the statgeek if you’re new to these). Would appreciate feedback on anything that looks odd about them. I tweaked some titles, axis headers and labels to get them a little more easy to see.

    One thing to note. The UK MAD Lead here (chart on the right):

    …should be ignored until informed otherwise. It didn’t really matter when there was a sizeable lead by one party, but now there are lead on both sides, the MAD data is taking leads from both and applying them as the same positive number. I’ll have to deal with that.

  28. Alec

    Even if there were a central bank, it sounds these banks are so much larger than the government they would be helpless anyway. To big to fail becomes too big to save after a certain point.

    I imagine frantic efforts at other banks in Andorra are being made to ensure they haven’t been doing the same sort of stuff. Also reducing the amount of connections to other banks will be a priority.

    If a bank falls due to fines for illegal behaviour

  29. Alec (cont)

    If a single bank falls, due to it’s illegal behaviour I guess it’ll be manageable. If all of them fall, that spells trouble.

    Are the fines going to be large enough that the bank is no longer viable?

  30. @ Statgeek

    I’m taking a copy of that, in case I ever need to do something similar. Thanks for posting it; & I’m delighted to see that you got it sorted :-)

  31. @Andy S

    Yes – that is exactly what will happen if swingback effects are less marked than predicted.

    However the effects of scaling down swingback could be rather complex. For example, you might expect to see Labour VI (and seat counts) rising as the swingback contribution is steadily reduced. However this change might not materialise because of unravelling swingback elesewhere. For instance, the ElectionForecast model currently projects that the SNP will win ‘only’ 39 seats. But their Nowcast has them taking rather more than this. The anticipated swingback reduces the current tally down the 39. Toning down switchback reduces this tally, creating an artificial seat-gain for them. (Artificial because they are not down at 39 in the nowcast, and the ‘increase’ comes exclusively from the inner workings of the model.). As it happens most of SNP’s artificial gains come from Labour. So, the SNP swingback benefits are likely to cancel out Labour’s swingback switch off gains. It would take quite detailed analysis to traces the various effects of turning off switchback.

    But – yes – expect to see VI and seat-tally changes that bear no relation at all to the movements of polling averages.

  32. Opimium/Observer expected at 6pm

  33. Clearly the snp are enjoying themselves and in a sense its win win whoever is the largest party.The anti tory stuff is all about the holyrood 2016 election.

    If its the tories they know there should be a referendum with a sequence of events which could see scotland voting differently to england with the uk voting out.Cue new independence referendum as long as they have a majority at holyrood.

    If its labour they have a bit longer to wind the english up,the tories will probably install a eurosceptic leader and ukip will transform into the english national party.

    But with any minority government they can pull the plug at any time ,and no doubt will.

    Just think they should play their cards with a slightly less excited tone.But then I am Irish.

  34. 07052015
    But with any minority government they can pull the plug at any time ,and no doubt will.

    As you say yourself, their interest will be primarily to secure re-election at the 2016 GE. They have nothing to gain and potentially much to lose by pulling the plug before then.

    But what do you think they have to gain by bringing a Lab minority government down before 2020?

  35. Yes, open book contracting is getting common (and certainly in automotive industry). The trouble here is with the fixed cost (and diverse activities – I know of activity based accounting) which makes margin calculations flawed (they are always that, unless you have only variable cost, but here is a problem, because the announcement is only about profit and nothing about volume).

  36. By 2017 a minority labour governmentt could be very unpopular,the tories will amost certainly have elected a leader committed to Brexit in a referendum,ukip mps could be taking the tory whip.Farage could be shadow foreign secretary.The Eu could be in meltdown .

    It could be tempting ……to pull that plug.

  37. @ChrisLane1945

    Thanks for giving the pointer to that varied set of projections. It is a pity that the piece provided no methodological details or links on to the sites of the different authors.

    In passing, it is a brave projection by Burnap et al that the SNP will come away with just nine seats after May 7.

    This is one of several that I don’t find the slightest bit plausible

  38. @07052015

    If could and should were Yorkshire Pud we’d want nought else but gravy.

  39. SIMON

    Enjoy your conspiracy theory. They are fun but usually nonsense. UKPR is not the place to promote one, but I am sure you can find blog sites that thrive on them.

  40. Opinium/Observer :: Closer-than-close :: Con 34% (-2), Lab 33% (n/c), LibDem 8% (+1), UKIP 13% (-1), Greens 7% (+1)

  41. Neck and Neck then, really. according to Opinium.

    Sturgeon’s speech has got people on twitter saying it will be making Labour stalwarts weep; it seems that the long years of Labour dominance of Scotland are coming to a close, so with Labour probably picking up some tory and LD seats we are looking at stalemate in Westminster.

  42. Simon’s posts illustrate what may be an issue post may 7th: deep rooted disbelief amongst UKIP supporters as regards their elections results – say they get 4 seat on 14% of the vote, i can see large numbers of them crying foul.

    Farage might have his hands full trying to keep the lid on!

  43. @ Reggieside

    Imagine 14% (a bit tall order, but doable) and not a single seat (which is the bet made quite a few weeks ago – moderate sum).

  44. Cameron’s +1 rating may be a turning point. The evidence seems to be that the public quite liked his “no third term” and that he obviously believes there is more to life than politics. The commentators all said this was a terrible gaffe. It seems not.

  45. Opinium field work was before the “Debate” so we can’t judge its effect from this, alas.


    Didn’t notice that. Even more remarkable then. A politician the public actually like, well goodness gracious me!!

  47. @rmj – or that no-one gave a monkeys. It matters a lot to the internal politics of the tory party but beyond that its small beer.

  48. @CHRISLANE1945

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea to watch Nicola Sturgeon’s speech. If nothing else it is already posted on YouTube. It gives an idea of the degree of SNP enthusiasm and (imo) why NS is doing extremely well in opinion polls. She is not a politician it is safe to underestimate which the English dailies have been doing to an astounding degree.

  49. @Unicorn

    re: your earlier post anticipating left-leaning Lib Dem MPs with an inclination to coalition/C & S with Labour, and the potential conflict with a Lib Dem membership which is increasingly ‘Orange Book’.

    Perhaps the problem for those MPs that survive is the conflict between an ‘Orange Book’ membership, and the fact that they have only survived because of support from left-wing voters uniting to defeat the Tories.

    Is it possible that we are seeing a very curious phenomenon emerge, where some Lib Dem MPs will survive due almost entirely to the support of Labour supporters. In other words, Labour would win the seat if tactical voting in the past had not given the Lib Dems the advantage of incumbency.

    You are a right-leaning Lib Dem MP who has scraped home, with a right-leaning but microscopic local Lib Dem membership, and with 90% of your voters supporting the Labour Party. Who do you go into coalition with?

  50. @ RAF,

    And in a lowbrow moment, the Lab election launch was greeted by placard wielding people in Salmond masks stating amongst other things: “I will prop you up”; the Tory election launch was greeted by a flock of chickens.

    I’m so glad people are debating the issues…

    @ Robin Holden,

    They propose to ‘lock out the Tories’ even if the Tories get the most MP’s.

    Would Miliband go along with this ?
    Would the English accept a Labour government propped up by a party who wants to leave the Union ?

    1) Absolutely, because otherwise he personally loses his job and his reputation and the country has another five years of Tory government, which is the sort of thing Labour politicians go into politics to prevent.

    2) Almost certainly, and even if they don’t there’s nothing they can do about it because they don’t have a devolved Parliament to lobby for an independence referendum. English Labour voters especially will probably be okay with it, and in an environment where 36% of the vote wins you an election those are the only people Miliband has to please.

    I don’t foresee big problems for him in this theoretical hostage situation, honestly. He can do what he likes and dare the SNP to bring him down. If they wimp out he stays in power, and if they do bring him down it looks to the English like he’s stood up for them against the wicked Scottish nationalists and their wicked demands and the SNP have to explain to Scotland why they brought down a Labour government and risked letting the Tories back in. Labour have become terrible at spin but this is such a win-win scenario even their communications team probably can’t mess it up.

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