Polling news round up

Labour leadership

Regular polling remains sparse given the ongoing inquiry and that we’re in that odd sort of political interregnum with Labour yet to elect their new leaders, but there have been a couple of polls on the Labour contest and the EU. A new ORB poll on the Labour leadership earlier in the week showed Andy Burnham was seen as the candidate most likely to help Labour’s chances at the next election (36%), followed by Liz Kendall on 25%. Full tabs are here.

I would be extremely cautious of polling about the Labour leadership election. Essentially there are two real questions about the Labour leadership – who is going to win, and who would be best at winning votes for Labour. For the first one, we need a poll of Labour party members, and we don’t have a recent one (there is some data from a YouGov poll of party members for Tim Bale & Paul Webb, but that was done straight after the election before the candidates were clear). For the second, I suspect any data is fatally flawed by the public’s low awareness of the candidates – right now, polls about the Labour leadership are little more than name recognition contests. Looking at the tables for the ORB poll it looks to me as if the main reason the prospective leaders scored so highly is that the question didn’t offer a don’t know option, if it had, I bet the don’t knows would have had a runaway victory.

Worth looking at as a corrective is this ICM poll on the Labour leadership that asked people to identify photos of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn. 23% were able to identify Burnham, 17% Cooper, 10% Kendall and 9% Corbyn. Essentially, if 90% of the respondents to a poll can’t even recognise a photo of Liz Kendall or Jeremy Corbyn, how good a judge are they going to be on what sort of Labour leader they’d be? “I’m a particular fan of the one I’ve never heard of and know nothing at all about” said no one, ever.

Sky poll on the EU

SkyNews have released a poll they have carried out themselves amongst a panel of BSkyB subscribers. The poll itself shows nothing particularly new (people think the EU is good for the British economy by 39% to 31%, etc, etc), but the concept itself is interesting – it’s a proper effort to get a representative sample from their subscriber database, weighted by age, gender, past vote, Experian segment (as an alternative to class), ethnicity, tenure and so on. It is, however, unavoidably only made up of Sky subscribers, which will bring with it its own biases. The question is to what extent those biases can be cancelled by their weighting and sampling. We shall see. The tables for this first poll are here.

Parliamentary debates

Last week there were two Parliamentary debates on regulating opinion polls. The first, last Thursday, was prompted by Lord Lipsey and concerned whether polling companies needed regulating to prevent them asking leading and biased questions – though it was largely made up of the specifics of one single poll on mitochondrial donation. The other was the second reading of George Foulkes private members bill regulating opinion polls, which includes a good response from Andrew Cooper of Populus. Lord Bridges for the government stated they had no plans to regulate polls. Lord Foulkes’s bill was nodded through to the committee stage, so will trundle on for a little longer.

Herding pollsters

Finally there’s a great piece by Matt Singh on pollster herding here. Matt mentions some of the possible reasons for herding, but more importantly actually does the sums on whether there was any herding… and finds there wasn’t. The spread between different pollsters in the final polls was very much in line with what you’d expect to find.

230 Responses to “Polling news round up”

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  1. @John B

    “That’s not what I meant — the exact opposite, in fact.”


    Oh, so you meant the opposite of what you said? So are you now saying that the Greeks shouldn’t have austerity after all?

  2. Reports ?

    Boris to call for EU No vote –seems to think this will help Dave get a better deal but maybe connected to speculation that Heathrow will get the third runway -surely not ,boris to get runover by a bulldozer?

  3. JOHNB

    @” the blame lies squarely with those north European politicians who went along with the false prospectus at the start.”

    If production of a “false prospectus” is your criterion for bearing responsibility, then I’m afraid we are back to the Greeks again ( with a little ( well paid) advice from Goldman Sachs.


  4. “57% of Greeks in favor of a deal with creditors / 29% against (Alco Poll, June 24-26)”

    That means little – a case I think of 57% being in favour of a deal on terms the Greeks think would be reasonably fair to them. i.e. a deal on what are by and large Greece’s terms.

    What will be meaningful will be the first poll that seeks opinion on accepting all the specific measures that the creditors are now asking of Greece.

  5. BBC news just reported that ECB will end ELA to Greek Banks ” later today” .


  6. Oh for the good old days, when you’d get up on a Sunday morning and read the latest Sunday Time/YouGov poll:
    Con 32, Lab 41, LD 8 (seems a bit high – yes, thank you, Chris), UKIP 12, Green 5…

    Was it the real thing; was it just fantasy? Labour in a landslide, escape from reality?

  7. Over in Denmark it looks very like there will be a minority government by the third largest party (the Liberals), who have just 34 seats and less than 20% of the vote. Danish People’s Party have opted not to go into government rather than be a junior coalition partner.

  8. Mason is showing his political leanings a little more than usual there.

    In particular his view of the ECB role is flawed.

    First the ECB is independent of politicians & their machinations.

    Second-as the Bloomberg report points out :-
    “To receive the ( ELA) funds, banks must be solvent and have adequate collateral. Because of Greek lenders’ holdings of sovereign bonds and their reliance on state guarantees for their asset valuations, both conditions would be in doubt if the government misses debt payments to its creditors. ”

    To treat Greek Sovereign Debt as sound collateral was a huge concession by ECB during the negotiations for Bailout extension.

    After yesterday it would become a purely political decision to continue doing so.

  9. @ Colin

    Do you really think that any central bank around the world is independent of political influences (ECB in particular)?

    There is a minor legal issue (it is minor because it doesn’t matter): officially Greece is under the bailout plan until Tuesday, so it is difficult to refer to technicalities when suspending the liquidity help.

    Greek newspapers haven’t yet made up their mind apparently. They have lines like: if you want to join the yes supporters click here, if you want to join the no, click here. Most of them are quite cynical about both.

    The KKE now took the position of fighting both fronts, the government and the creditors. This seems to me quite delusional, but could get an echo in the North.

    The tourist season is now supremely important for Greece … What times we live in …

  10. So, ECB maintained the liquidity programme, but didn’t increase.

    It’s like in bath, when I pull the plug, but then put my heel in, so I can enjoy the water a bit more, but the water still goes down … I can regulate some of it though …

    Unless the government can bring back money from abroad, it’s probably bank holiday on Monday (including the stock exchange). And they will have to pay salaries and pensions by Tuesday. They will probably reserve that money at any cost.

  11. I think most things EU and Euro related are about political decisions and not about economics.

    Economics is not a science. Different economists have totally different outlooks. I find Paul Mason refreshing because he’s a rare voice that is not an orthodox one.

    Everything about the Greece/Euro position now is highly political, and not economic. It;s not a matter of policy, it’s about maintaining an ideological position.

  12. Colin
    You beat me to it. I don’t think Mr Mason is a good source of predictive information. Terrible prospects for the Greek people which I suspect will have a major rightwards effect on polling across Europe.
    There is an election coming up in Ireland and polls suggest that Fine Gael as implementers of the hard line austerity plan will be biggest party but in a hard position to form a majority because of the current collapse in support for the Irish Labour Party. Events in Greece may propel Sinn Fein’s vote up or down as arch-opponents of austerity and supporters of Syriza.
    A significant decision for the UK as trading partner and possible recipient of migration if things start to go radically wrong in the Republic.

  13. @ Barney Crockett

    The ECB maintained the liquidity programme. So Mason was correct … It doesn’t help the Greeks, but that’s a different matter.

    There is a major shift from traditional left to the petty bourgeois parties all over in Europe, so Ireland is not that surprising.

  14. They had to cap liquidity rarther than end it to allow the yes campaign a chance to win.

    There is now a chance of getting rid of syriza who would have to resign if the greeks vote yes but there would then be another technocrat and another election which could give the same result.

    Meanwhile the penny is dropping that camerons negotiations are no more serious than wislons in 75.Then it was all about cheap meat from new zealand but now its all about immigration a rather more potent issue.

    In 75 ,the vote was 67-33 to stay in and by way of explanation for the big majority woy jenkins said the people trusted the politicians they normally trusted.

    Do voters trust cameron ,osborne ,nicola, leanne and the new labour and libdem leaders ? rather than Farage etc .I guess we are going to find out.

  15. LASZLO

    I don’t know anything about central banks ” around the world”.

    But I do think that both ECB & BoE are independent of politicians.
    That is not to say that political ( fiscal) & Central Bank ( monetary) interests & imperatives would not coincide from time to time.

    Indeed co-ordination of the two is a sensible thing.

    But ultimately , Central Banks should be free of the politically motivated dictat from the government of the day.

    And I believe ECB is.

  16. BARNEY

    His stated opinion is that “capitalism is dying”. :-)

  17. @ Colin

    Fine. They they are independently (based purely on monetary considerations as required by their statue) decided what they did today.

    Anyway, in general. I don’t know if the commission is blinking, or they try a different game now.

  18. LASZLO

    I accept that Draghi has acted independently within the ECB brief.

    This still leaves them holding huge amounts of collateral for existing ELA to the Greek Banking system.

    Perhaps we will see how secure this is when some of their bonds fall due this month.

    I note these comments in the ECB announcement :-

    “The Governing Council stands ready to reconsider its decision.”


    ” we strongly endorse the commitment of Member States in pledging to take action to address the fragilities of euro area economies.”

    ie-The stability & credibility of the EZ economy & fiscal policy is the responsibility of you politicians.

  19. @carfrew

    I’m not trying to be deliberately obtuse. What I’m suggesting is that the comes a point when austerity becomes economic suicide. That is the situation the Greeks now find themselves in – and although some of the fault lies historically on their shoulders by no means all of the fault is theirs. Those who agreed to their entry to the euro in the first place are as much to blame as those Greek politicians who refused to cut their cloth according to euro rules.

    As for Scotland, the point is that Scots seem to me to be more disciplined than the Greeks, though I may be wrong, of course. The Scots are quite willing to tighten their belts provided you can show that it makes economic sense. What many Scots object to (and many in the north of England feel the same way) is the entire UK economy is dictated to by the ‘needs’ of London and the south east of England. This has been the case now for a generation.

  20. Bank holiday in greece tomorrow ,capital controls to be introduced .

  21. The way this is going it will be the first time since I was 3 I wont have a summer holiday abroad this year. As I cant see why my dad accepting an holiday anyway outside of Greece unless the hotel is perfectly situated.

  22. JohnB
    “What many Scots object to (and many in the north of England feel the same way) is the entire UK economy is dictated to by the ‘needs’ of London and the south east of England. This has been the case now for a generation.”
    I think you have got that the wrong way round. It’s not the needs of London and the south east which dominate the economy. The economy is dominated by the service sector which equates to about 78% of UK GDP. London and New York equally are the largest financial centres in the World. It is London and the south east which supports the rest of the UK, as you pointed out yourself in an earlier post.
    Since World War II there has been a marked shift in economic power from manufacturing to services in the UK. This is true of all G7 countries but has been most marked in the UK and France. The Government is trying to achieve some rebalancing of the economy towards manufacturing, so far with only marginal success. There has been rebalancing though, and funny enough the greatest rebalancing has actually occurred within the service sector itself. Public administration and financial services have contracted significantly in terms of output and employment in the past four years, but this has been more than offset by strong growth in professional, business and support services and the health sector.
    Most significantly, services growth seems to be increasingly focused on exports. The UK is the second largest exporter of services in the world behind the United States, and export-oriented service industries account for at least a third of our GDP. And the UK is now running a services trade surplus of £80bn, 5% of GDP in the past 12 months.

  23. I wonder if Adair Turner had a Wildeian moment he might describe what is happening in Greece as the “socially useless in pursuit of the economically desperate”? A blood sport for accountants and their arid orthodoxies, and a playground for corporate placemen masquerading as democratic politicians. Banks and corporations should bow to democratic governments, not the other way around. States baled out the banks in 2009 and banks should bale out states in return. Seems a fair deal to me. The mountain of debt that Greece has accumulated simply cannot be repaid within the context of a functioning democratic state governed with the consent of its people. The troika is tipping Greece towards anarchy and my sympathies are with the Syriza Government and the Greek people, battling to retain a functioning state. They’re on a precipice and staring into an abyss. Why on earth would anyone in Europe want to push them into it?

    On the subject of polling, some belated reflections on the election and why I think the pollsters got it so horribly wrong. My diagnosis is based on something that struck me about the mood of the 2015 general election. Of all the elections I’ve been involved in, and I go back to 1970, this was the most joyless and dismal of them all. An event of slammed front doors, twitching curtains, invisible and unstated, guilt-ridden intentions. No posters in front windows, the stump was untrodden and the hustings muted at best. It all had the feel of a group of grieving relatives waking up to the cold reality of having to select an undertaker; a dismal yet unavoidable decision that inevitably comes along in life. The undertakers of choice were the Conservatives and we had, for the first time in a quarter of a century a majority Tory Government, albeit ushered in on the back of the most unrepresentative result in electoral history with unprecedented numbers of our fellow citizens giving it a miss. 34% of the electorate plus 7 million who didn’t even register to vote. No celebration greeted the outcome, just a collective shrug of the shoulders from the population. It seems to me that elections are now places where politics goes to die. A fiesta of sound bites and media orchestrated pseudo-controversies. Is it any wonder that its now populated by identikit politicians and I give you the current Cabinet and the Labour leadership contenders as irrefutable evidence. Maybe we should just get rid of the lot of them the next election should be between Barclays and Tescos with the key debate between whether we prefer free banking to discounted food prices and reward points?

    So, within this baleful political context, is it any wonder that opinion polls are doomed to fail? Forget the pseudo-science of weightings and likelihood to vote predictions, the reason they were so hopelessly inaccurate in May was that a good number of respondents refused to tell the truth about how they intended to vote. And why would they in a world where politics has become a furtive and shamefaced expression of expediency.

  24. TOH

    We are in agreement, it would seem although you would disagree.

    It is the imbalance, both economically between ‘service sector’ and ‘manufacturing’ and geographically between London/South East England and ‘the rest’, which is causing the problem.

    In the days when manufacturing was the major earner and was spread around the whole of the UK things were a lot better. Now London is not only the political capital but also (excuse the pun) the capital capital. It is London and the South East of England which is causing the huge imbalance in the UK’s economy.

    The argument from the SNP is that an independent Scotland would be able to disengage from this imbalance and run an economy suited to Scotland and not be one entirely run for the benefit of the south east of England. (And I don’t count handouts from the rich south east of England as the least bit beneficial to the rest of us: it just undermines us morally).

  25. @CB11

    A welcome posting from someone with genuine political insight. Yes, the current apathy will always favour those parties that benefit from it, especially under our UK FPTP arrangements. In fact at least UKIP did very well indeed, let’s at least acknowledge that.

    Is it not noticeable that that the political weather is already changing? It has nothing to do with the fortunes of Labour’s aspirant leaders; it has more to do with a sense of political drift.

    These political doldrums will always be followed by a fresh wind. We don’t know where it will blow or where it is blowing from; at least I don’ pretend to know.

  26. CB11

    “And why would they [tell the truth about how they intended to vote] in a world where politics has become a furtive and shamefaced expression of expediency.”

    Since the polling seems to have been wrong primarily in England (outside London), your description may well be accurate as an explanation of polling disaster.

    From the perspective of someone living within a political system, where the polls were accurate, I can recommend getting “rid of the lot of them” – though without handing everything over to the retail service sector! :-)

  27. @CrossBat

    Fine piece. So it wasn’t the ‘shy’ Tories, but the ‘disenchanted, baleful, mischievous’ Tories.

    A propos the Greek situation, I seem to remember that at the time of the Irish property crash, the banks decided not to force the over-borrowed property companies into liquidation, which wold only have made the market even worse, leading to further company failures.

    Instead they simply told the companies that they would be charging no interest on their loans, but would expect them to be repaid in due course, as and when circumstances allowed. They, of course, retained the right to foreclose at any time. A very bad situation was thus prevented from becoming even worse.

    Would it not be wise for those lending to Greece to do something similar, and simply say that no interest will be charged on their debt, and that they should pay it off, when possible, over, say, a 20 year period.

  28. @Millie

    That’s what we did after the war when facing a mountain of debt. We were given large, very long term loans we only paid off relatively recently (the last payment was only £2million or summat, not a very big proportion of current government spend…)

    We also bailed out the banks, doing whatever it took, including injecting billions in liquidity, then taking a stake in the banks,, and injecting hundreds of billions via the Central bank buying up their dodgy debt.

    Greece had austerity trashing its economy alongside injurious interest rates and currency valuations. While we could drop interest rates and devalue the currency.

  29. @JOHN B

    “I’m not trying to be deliberately obtuse.”


    I asked you if you’d changed your mind on the Greece thing. What I got was your thoughts on the dangers of austerity, which is OK, but you still haven’t made clear whether you now think maybe the weather is not such a key factor in who should get austerity or not and if Greece should also be exempted from austerity.

    And that’s ok, I’m past caring, it’s just that it’s not very helpful re: the obtuse thing. Glad I got to see it though…

  30. @Carfrew


    I am generally in favour of austerity, shrinking the state, and balancing the budget, but there are limits.

    And the best time to rein in expenditure is when the economy is going well, not when, as you say, it has been trashed. I think Keynes said something along these lines.

  31. @COLIN

    “His stated opinion is that “capitalism is dying”. :-)”


    Yes Col., one can tell you used to do financial reports or summat!! Put like that, it sounds like some traditional lefty, Marxist dream of the overthrow of Capitalism.

    It’s entirely likely you are more of an authority on all things Mason than me, and if you got summat to show otherwise then fair enough, ‘cos the stuff I’ve seen was neither wishing for an end to Capital, nor was it definitive, but simply pointing out how technology is undermining Capital, and its demise is just one of a number of possible futures.

    Basically the point being that booms in Capitalism come in waves, and technological developments can drive these, or changes in the “means of accumulation” (e.g. the rise of global corporations currently).

    Mason speculates that the greater prevalence of the network allowing collaboration and non-hierarchical structures, and the prevalence of lots of free stuff cheaply distributed undermines the ability of capital to corner markets and profit from scarcity. We see it with information-based products now, but the rise of 3D printing could take it to another level.

    The outcome is in part dependent on legal protections that may be put in place…


  32. @Millie

    I think the IMF acts like doorstep lenders.

    What you suggest is reasonable, but it seems to me that the IMF don’t want to appear soft, as the other nations they have beggared would come back pleading for help.

    In addition, the IMF are not just about money. They apply conditions, such a privatisation and others that leave a nation open to global capitalism. The IMF agenda is ideological too.

  33. So now we have it-the authoritative verdict on the Great Polling Error-

    Labour supporters voted “expediently” for the Tories-and didn’t dare tell anyone.

    The Greeks had a word for this I expect-as they do for most unmentionable human proclivities.

    The vote which daren’t speak its name .

    I should pack it in Anthony -expedient voters -you stand no chance. . :-) :-)

  34. A Greece total collapse could affect many jobs in the UK as well, more than many would think. For example holiday companies would suffer a lot if holidays to one of their biggest markets has to be cancelled and mass refunds needed to be offered. After Tunisia this could put them in risky states especially if Spain collapses at some point.

  35. MILLIE

    Greece’s interest rate is not significantly different to “no interest “, and its average debt maturity is 50% higher than the one you suggest.

  36. The key difference between the Uk in 1945 and Greece is that we had our own currency, which we devalued when we needed to.

    There is no way that Greece can ever pay of it loans it needs debt relief to move forward. Defaulting and exiting the Euro is much the best in the long term if handled well.

    Germany needs to understand that they have huge surpluses which are directly resulting in either deficits in the other countries or poor growth in Other countries. They need to get real before the Euro project crashes. Portugal, Spain and even Italy are all week.

    Yes the Greeks should not have borrowed they money, but the facts are they did, to humiliate them, empoverish them, and create a generation of unemployed is the height of ignorance.

  37. The online Thesaurus is a wonderful resource.

    I was really wondering what the opposite of an ” invisible, un-stated, guilt-ridden, furtive intention to vote expediently” is.

    It is a Visible, asserted, proud, forthright certainty to vote injudiciously.

    Thank gawd they all made the right decision then !

  38. @Colin & Millie

    “Greece’s interest rate is not significantly different to “no interest “, and its average debt maturity is 50% higher than the one you suggest.”


    Yes, this doesn’t give the full picture, just one fortuitous little bit: last year, the ECB slashed interest rates, but Greece was struggling before then, and you also have to take into account the currency…

  39. Carfrew

    Thanks for the link to the Mason address.

    What, I think is true about the “big changes” in human activity is that –

    Few people see them coming – and often those who claimed to didn’t really
    Those trying to retain the status quo will end up losing
    Those who try to shape the future – end up losing too
    Polls will be useless in suggesting what will happen. :-)

  40. “There is no way that Greece can ever pay of it loans it needs debt relief to move forward. Defaulting and exiting the Euro is much the best in the long term if handled well.”


    There are different ways of loaning money.

    One way is to loans enough, on terms that allow the beneficiary to take time to invest and profit and be able to repay down the line.

    Another, is as a sticking plaster… They have enough to keep going, but not to profit, so they just wind up accruing debt. But if the reason they are struggling is market conditions, given time they should recover, and you kept them in the game, like a bridging loan for a mortgage.

    A third way, is to loan enough to get by while imposing conditions that erode their position, making it even harder to repay, leaving them forever indebted, whereupon you can impose more conditions, leaving them even worse off etc., while all the time blaming them

  41. @Carfrew

    The third way is IMF to a tee.

  42. In my view, Greece should exit the Eurozone, renege on all its debts, to banks, IMF, bond holders, start with a clean slate……deal with it. Necessity is the mother of invention. :-)

  43. @KEN

    “As a supporter of the Blue side in politics, I am obviously not suffering from the depression characterised in the musings of our Red friends on here, however, since I don’t share their pain, I have no sympathy for their plight, they just seem to be poor losers, to me. :-)”


    Ah, well Ken, there’s the empathy thing to consider. One of the things with empathy, is experiencing reciprocal emotions. Thus, if someone else feels happy, you feel happy, if they feel sad, you feel sad.

    This isn’t a conscious, rational process, but is more of an automatic visceral response, happening even if you don’t want it to. They cry, you struggle not to cry yourself. Thus, even if someone is unhappy about summat, you feel similarly, even if you don’t share the same experience and their well-being isn’t in your interests.

    (This can happen even if someone is indeed a poor loser…)

  44. @CB11. Thank you. Totally agree. Never been a more depressing campaign (I go back to leafletting in 1964). And for the first time I would (if I had a vote) strike through the Labour leadership ballot and write “none of the above”.

    As to Greece, I’m sick of the blame game. Greek membership of the Euro is (and always was) a killer to both the rich northern countries and the Greeks themselves. I like the idea of a long-term interest-free period of grace, but since it ain’t gonna happen I have to agree with Ken (probably for the first time ever) and say the best thing is for Greece to pull the plug.

  45. @Oldnat

    “Few people see them coming – and often those who claimed to didn’t really”


    I certainly didn’t see the storage thing coming…

  46. CARFREW………Empathy! In my ‘umble opine, should never be a word associated with politics, I delight in the discomfort of my political opposites, loved the moment of truth on election night, Tory majority, ‘ get in ‘. :-)

  47. @ken

    Empathy’s a factor for others regardless of whether you like it or not Ken!!* And it has its virtues…

    *(Though I don’t think many empathise with my storage plight, to be fair…)

  48. CARFREW………On storage, sympathise, I might, empathise, I don’t. :-)

  49. @Ken

    That’s ok Ken, I wouldn’t want for you to feel how I feel about it!! And, there is always coffee. They haven’t taxed that yet…

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