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. (pokes head ’round door)

    “Hi folks, well, what about the situation in Greece, eh? You see, there was this Frenchman, this German, and this Greek, and..”

    (exeunt, pelted by rotten fruit)

    “Jeez, tough crowd…”

  2. “His stated opinion is that “capitalism is dying””

    Capitalism is dying because of the banks.

    Allowing low-risk and high-risk banking operations to be combined together in TBTF banks with a tax payer guarantee = worst idea ever

    and Westminster collectively burying the Vickers report with no fuss shows either

    a) they don’t get it


    b) “lobbyists”


    “…Paul Mason on Greece: http://blogs.channel4.com/paul-mason-blog/greece-referendum-euro-die/3978 …”

    I genuinely like Paul Mason, but he’s gone native on Syriza. He’s very good if you want the Syriza point-of-view (too good, in fact), but he left objectivity behind some time ago

  4. Lol, I see Mason is getting repeatedly tarred with the ad hominem of bias, without his actual analysis being shown to be flawed…

  5. Or barely any reference to his analyses at all…

  6. Carfrew

    The problem is that allthe 3 options you suggest are going to give the Greeks a generation of austerity. Their loans are too big, they need debt relief. It would help if Germany and the other stronger counties would be more generous, but I think even that would be just delaying the inevitable.

    IMO the there is no way Greece should have adopted the Euro and for them the best solution is to leave. Germany et al must realise that unless they see they are equally to blame we will just be waiting for the next country to leave.

  7. Ken – I don’t recall reading any bad loser posts on here.
    (maybe I missed some)

    A bad loser to me is someone who says we lost but deserved to win or we only lost because the ref was biased etc.

    To say the Cons are crap but we were even crapper is not losing bad it is just giving an opinion.

    I would say 2005 was the opposite and Labour only won because the Tories where crapper than a continuing LP Government for enough swing voters.

  8. The other thing which CB11’s cry of frustration made me wonder about, is when did it happen?

    Precisely when did all those millions of Labour voters decide to switch from the “Cause & the Flag” to the “arid orthodoxies” of a bunch of Tory accountants; but still keep telling AW & co that they would vote Labour?

    I remember much discussion here on the betting markets. The consensus , I seem to remember, was that they were merely reflecting wish fulfillment , and had no predictive validity.

    So I put forward a suggested date when Labour voters started “slamming their front doors & twitching their curtains”:-

    The day that Frank Field-a Labour MP-walked into that betting shop & put £50 at 5/1 on Cameron winning an overall majority .

  9. John B
    The only thing we agree on is that there is an imbalance between the service sector and manufacturing. There is nothing surprising about this, it is the way all the “mature” economies are evolving as I posted earlier. It’s not London and the south east causing the imbalance, it’s just that London and the south east is where most UK wealth is created these days.
    That the economy of Scotland is run for the benefit of London and the south east is just nonsense. I repeat as you yourself have acknowledged it is London and the south east that prop up the rest of the UK. I have no doubt than independent Scotland, given time could create a sustainable economy. However I have some doubts as to whether this new economy would provide the Scots with what they seem to want in terms of “big government”.


    @” Greece was struggling before then,”

    Actually , in April last year, Greece had returned to the Bond Markets-it sold 3 bn euros of five-year debt -at a yield of 4.95%.

    Today those bonds are hardly tradeable-and yield over 16% .

    But these things don’t feature in Syriza’s manifesto.

  11. FF is such a superior person -knows everything always right -I seem to remember he nominated and voted first for EM in 2010,not much mention of that these days.

    Anyway it will be interesting to see how he uses his role as chair of the Work and Pension committee.Two coming scandals I reckon.

    1 the annuity policy as it plays out -costs,misselling of investments ,silly billy spending by baby boomers and

    2.the new flat rate pension when millions who thought they were gonna get £2k extra a year find they wont as they were contracted out -reckon lady ros altmann will be a regular visitor to the committee .

  12. @Colin

    Can you explain how that bit of info. invalidates my point?

  13. @JAMIE

    “The problem is that allthe 3 options you suggest are going to give the Greeks a generation of austerity. Their loans are too big, they need debt relief.”


    Well, we were worse off after the war, had a long term loan and had a couple of decades of rising prosperity.

    That said, peeps might have been favourably disposed ‘cos had just fought a war, and to get the money we had to sign up to pegging the currency and opening up our empire markets and stuff (not that we were in much shape to sell into those markets…)

    As you intimate, whether countries of the EU would back such an arrangement for Greece is summat else…


    I was responding to your statement as quoted.

    Of course Greek Sovereign Debt had become huge.
    It had lost access to commercial lending markets , and the taxpayers of EZ & IMF member states acquired over 80% of it ( at a loss to previous holders) , promising to fund the Greek State with Bailouts.
    Of course the terms of these arrangements have been very hard on Greek people.

    But the “struggle” which you refer to was having success-in that Greece had in fact returned to the Bond Markets over a year ago.

    That is all I was seeking to add to your comment.

  15. @Colin

    Ah, I see, you’ve jumped rails. I was responding to your comment about interest rates being so low now, in the context of a struggling economy. Struggling in terms of generating the GDP to service debt, and not necessarily assisted by austerity.

    You are now talking about the ability of the government to secure more loans. Which sure, may be more difficult now that austerity has been such a disappointment economically.

  16. It does now seem inevitable that Greece will exit the Euro, and it looks like it will not be in an orderly fashion.

    My guess is that things will return to normal quite quickly in Greece and that their economy will recover relatively speedily with a devalued drachma.

    I suspect this all plays into the hands of Cameron and the Conservatives. Fundamentally, the Greek situation reflects the undeliverability of ‘the project’ and ‘ever closer union’.

    Cameron’s stance of reform and the abandonment of ‘ever closer union’ seems a lot more plausible and obvious now than it did a month ago.

    I have yet to work out whether DC is lucky or astute, but either way, he does seem to consistently wake up smelling of roses.

  17. Returning to AW’s original post, I am not sure that anyone has noticed something interesting about the ORB poll on the Labour leadership.

    AW describes the poll as an exercise in name recognition, which is true up to a point. However Kendall seems to be developing some traction with the wider public. She is much less well known than Burnham or Cooper, and yet she came second behind Burnham in the public’s assessment of who would best help Labour’s chances in the next election. And she topped the poll as to which candidate would do least harm.

    I am surprised that Kendall has penetrated the public consciousness to that degree, and I think it is a significant indicator of her progress.

    I had written off her chances, but now I am not quite so sure.

    And, you heard it here first, are there some ‘shy Kendallites’ out there? Labour activists who know it is politically correct within the Party to rally round the ‘food bank’ themes, but who understand that Kendall is their best chance at the next election.

    I do think the poll is significant, and the detailed numbers are quite striking.

  18. MILLIE

    I agree with you post on the EU situation. Potentially It does play into Cameron’s hands for renegotiation of our relationship with the EU. As to his astuteness or luck I think it’s a bit of both. The Euro without the formation of at least a federal Europe was always bound to fail.

    What I suspect we are seeing now is the very first small signs of the fall of the Euro and ultimately the failure of the European experiment. Something I have expected to happen for a long time now.

  19. Labour activists like tory activists and activists everywhere choose who they is closest to their own politics rather than the most effective in the heat of battle.We all find it difficult to imagine our chosen person doing the job up against an opponent who hits back.And of course this choice is more complicated because the tory leader in 2020 is unknown.The only people who are objective are your political opponents and they arent right all the time.And anyway who is going to vote for the person the tories fear most even if they could work that out.

    A woman leader would be most effective against cameron or johnson -not so against may or osborne.Plus the next labour leader will have to come up with a strategy for scotland ,leave it to LiS being the odds on favourite.And then if you are successful(say 50 seats back from the tories)the miliband dilemma of how you play the possibilty of the snp having the balance of power -and frankly who is going to think that far ahead.

  20. I’m not convinced that Greece will leave the Euro.

    Devaluation is a for Greece-what export markets do they have apart from tourism? And how will the Greek people react to soaring import prices?

    I think the EZ might be angling for a Greek YES vote & the demise of Syriza.

  21. The only way the greeks can make the necessary anti corruption and tax reforms is to stay in the euro and that now means getting rid of Syriza.

    But I wouldnt put it past the greeks voting Yes and then reelecting them.

    This one could run and run (see p94)

  22. The Greeks either vote “no” and leave now.

    Or they vote “yes”, their economy gets crushed by another 5-10% and they leave in December,

    Or they get pushed out.

  23. “And frankly who is going to think that far ahead.”


    I think it’s just possible we might give it a go!!…

  24. Jeremy goes for the LiS vote .But whats your policy on FFS ?


  25. @Colin

    “Devaluation is a for Greece-what export markets do they have apart from tourism? And how will the Greek people react to soaring import prices?”


    Well, they have hitherto been quite good at selling a lot of debt abroad, does that count?

    Anyways, from wiki…

    “A developed country, the economy of Greece mainly revolves around the service sector (80.6%) and industry (16%), while agriculture made up an estimated 3.4% of the national economic output in 2012.[2] Important Greek industries include tourism and shipping. The Greek Merchant Navy is the largest in the world, with Greek-owned vessels accounting for 15.17% of global deadweight tonnage as of 1 January 2013,[30] due to the unprecedented demand of investment on the shipping industry of international transportation between Greece and Asia in recent years.[31] With 17.9 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, Greece was the seventh most visited country in the European Union and sixteenth in the world.[32] The country is also a significant agricultural producer within the EU. With an economy larger than all the other Balkan economies combined, Greece is the largest economy in the Balkans and an important regional investor.[33][34] Greece is the number-two foreign investor of capital in Albania, the number-three foreign investor in Bulgaria, at the top-three foreign investors in Romania and Serbia and the most important trading partner and largest foreign investor of the Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia. Greek banks open a new branch somewhere in the Balkans on an almost weekly basis.[35][36][37] The Greek telecommunications company OTE has become a strong investor in former Yugoslavia and other Balkan countries.[35]

    Greece is classified as an advanced,[38] high-income economy,[39] and was a founding member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)…”

  26. Yes, the Greeks may well vote “Yes” to the bailout and then vote in Syriza again (effectively voting “No” to implementing their side of the bailout bargain they just voted “Yes” to). Indeed, this looks like it may well be the outcome Syriza is angling for!

    And why shouldn’t they? The Greeks, as a whole, seem to want to remain within the EU and the Euro, but not to destroy their society on Angela Merkel’s say so. That doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable. They are effectively saying:

    “We want to remain part of the EU and the Euro, but it’s *our* EU and *our* Euro as much as anyone else’s, so we’re not going to be dictated to on how it’s going to work!”

    And that *is* how the EU and the Euro are supposed to work. The point of friction is someone standing up and challenging the traditional Realpolitik of ‘Germany privately check with France what to do, then everyone agrees with the outcome’ and instead insisting that the European institutions work (as they’re technically supposed to) in the interests of all nations equally. The fact that the Greek nation is being made to suffer for this “impudence” I doubt makes them more amenable to collectively choosing an outcome (“Yes, and not Syriza” or “No, and Syriza”) that makes life easy for their critics. While a satisfactory outcome requires the recognition by all involved that Syriza’s viewpoint is an equally important and valid expression of EU politics as is the stance of the German CDU, I doubt that this recognition is going to happen any time soon.

  27. @Carfew

    Cripes, that Wikipedia entry has shocked me to the core. There was me thinking that our resident FD, Colin, was an expert on the Greek economy and now you come along and puncture my faith in his continuing (nay continuous) scholarly and objective contributions on all things Hellenic.

    I obviously need to revise my hitherto high opinions of the kindly old soul. It may even lead me to question his interpretation of the recent General Election which, up to now, I’d taken to be definitive, indisputable and, in essence, absolute gospel.




    International Trade details here :-


  29. @Colin

    Thanks also, though you might done the maths to help out instead of leaving me with the homework!!

    Okies, so Greece Export approx. $33Bn out of a $280Bn economy, thus exports approx. 11% of the economy

    A similar calc. for the UK gives exports $380Bn out of a $2,800Bn dollar economy, so exports about 13%.

    Not that much in it really, exports are nearly as important to Greece as for us.

  30. @Crossbat

    Good to see you back!!

    UKPR is where Col. – and the rest of us as well actually – comes to get deprogrammed…

  31. Carfrew

    We devalued our currency after the war. Greece can’t do that within the Euro.

    We had steady inflation which made the capital easier to repay, Greece needs to reduce its prices to make it competitive.

    These two factors are huge difference, and as you suggest the other countries are IMO not being generous enough regarding debt relief.

    Regarding their trade as a % of income, that is quite low for a small country. Generally you’d expect a small country to trade more than a big country eg if Scotland were to leave the Union rUK’s external trade would increase as it would now export to Scotland.

  32. @JAMIE

    “We devalued our currency after the war. Greece can’t do that within the Euro.”


    Yes, that was rather my point. Take your point about the other stuff though…

  33. The Only strong export market Greece has I think are Olives and Wine.
    High Import prices would affect tourism a lot I think as it would mean things are more expensive. And Tourism Is the only think which really keeps much of Greece Going.

  34. @BM11

    Colin’s link seemed to have petrol refining as the biggest export IIRC…

  35. Colin

    I think Ian King in the Times sums up the realities of the Greek situation very well.

  36. Looks like juncker has been at the sherry again ,that will teach him to playfully swat Tsipras round the face.


    Reckon nigel will sign him up to beef up the No campaign here.

  37. BM11

    Tourism is technically an export (ggods/services consumed by foreigners).

    I suspect that sector would do very well out of Grexit/devaluation.

  38. @JAMIE “We devalued our currency after the war. Greece can’t do that within the Euro.”

    We devalued our currency after the Great Financial Crash of 2008 too – went from $2 to $1.55. Not an official devaluation of course because we now have a floating currency unlike after WW2. But regardless of whether the markets did it or the govt did it, we devalued…

  39. TOH

    Yes I agree-I wasn’t aware that Greece had accessed the Bond Market last year-albeit in a modest way.

    Juncker seems certain they will stay in the EZ.

    If they vote No in the Referendum I think that will be difficult. But if they vote Yes it will be taken as a sign that they want to stay in-and Tsipras’ next move will be very interesting.

  40. What do people think the effect of Greece is on our own referendum?

    I think we can take it as read that the Kippers and the hard eurosceptics of the Conservative party will vote out.

    But it seems to me in recent days, people on the left, centre-left and the centre are going off the EU too, thanks to the way the Greek situation has been handled (especially the way the opposition was summoned to Brussels who hoped to enact regime change the way they did once before – I’m of the opinion that it was this that triggered the whole referendum response).

    If these groups turn anti EU, that only leaves the soft centre-right and LibDems in favour of staying and there arn’t enough of them to form a majority.

  41. @Candy

    “But it seems to me in recent days, people on the left, centre-left and the centre are going off the EU too”

    It’s hard to say what the impact will be; much as it would be mildly amusing to see the ‘we could become Greece, Greece I tells ye!’ argument trotted out again, for an entirely different purpose.

    It’ll depend, I guess, on how strongly people conflate the EU with the Euro. The EU is a good idea, that is more often than not well executed. The Euro may or may not be a good idea, but it is very poorly executed. I’d expect the Out brigade to make the most effort at confusing the two, so the question is whether or not the In brigade will be competent enough to argue against the confusion (which seeing as how it’ll be led by Labour and the Lib Dems…)

  42. Lots of “objective” comments about Greece. How analysis is influenced by one’s basic beliefs!

    OK. Assumption: as long as Greece is in the Euro, it won’t be able to service its debt (it wouldn’t be able to do it after then either, but that’s a different game). The rest of the argument is non-sequitur, false dichotomy, and the rest. This is because there are many solutions to the assumption and all are subject to social processes, plus a little bit of geopolitics.

    Unless the EU puts forward something substantial, the referendum will go ahead (even if it is suspect). If it is Oix, Greece remains in the Euro and defaults. The implications are just too big to even contemplate. If it is Nei, Syriza may continue, though it would be extremely difficult (probably would play for the worse the better). If Syriza goes, it is even more interesting. It doesn’t guarantee that pro-agreement parties would win (they have no credibility, and almost all the newspapers questioned their little travel to Brussels). The uncertainty is quite high. KKE put out on their website a tactic. While it is implausible, the whole thing is surreal. I don’t think they would get enough votes, but if they do (completely unlikely, I know), negotiation with them would such that Tsipras would be perceived Thomas the Tank Engine.

  43. I think that dealing with the kke would be much easier. They want to leave the eu and the euro (and nato). I think the eu could regard that as honourable and it would be easier for a German politician to ease the money strings for that than for another pointless loan. But I agree they will not have the votes.

  44. @ Barney Crockett

    While this is their official policy – look at their website (no, don’t, it is painful for any centre-left). They actually try to assemble a cross-nation stuff. I think that it is doomed, but I was also wrong about the GE …

  45. Laszlo
    I did go on their site and I agree but it is hard to find a sensible centre left in Greece.

  46. The KKE is currently perceived as traitors. However, in Thessaloniki they have organised a public meeting (with several hundred) and it went down well.

    I wish I knew more about Greece, and the Greeks … Unfortunately all my acquitences are children of immigrants communists even if they moved camps.

  47. Candy -not sure it will have much effect as the tea leaves point to EU referendum in October 2016 and you would think greece might be resolved by then(we can but hope) .

    But its the domino effect in the medium term -at the mo podemos dont look like a syriza nor do sinn fein in two elections taking place in the next nine months.Dont know much about portugal .

    The cameron “renegotiation ” is a rerun of 1975 with tory party interests replacing labours.What I dont see is a 67-33 vote to stay in compared with then tho scotlands yes might well approach 75 this time.Its the 45 ish no in england that will keep brexit and ukip alive for another 20 years.

  48. Media reports that a ministerial edict has been issued closing the courts meaning no evictions or foreclosures can be enacted until at least after the referendum. Greek television is reporting that the limit for atm withdrawals may be reduced to 20 euros.

  49. Good evening all from a rather grey but warm East Renfrewshire.

    Had a lovely two weeks traveling across Canada. Halifax, Fredericton Montreal Ottawa, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver where I flew back to the UK from.

    Anyway a lot has happened since I last commented on UKPR and like everyone else I’m totally devastated by the news from Tunisia. I saw part of the news in Canada but it was only today I really caught up on what had happened.

    Back to polling…
    “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”

    To be honest there is one person on that list I’ve never even heard off let alone identify.

    And as for Greece. They should give the euro the boot and grow some balls. There is a whole World out there to be traded with. The EU and its silly euro are nothing more than a gentleman’s club first thought up by the Nazis for eventual European domination.

    Greece shouldn’t turn her back on Europe but the Greeks should exit from euro and the EU and start trading more with the likes of China and Russia ans I’m sure the Kremlin will be more than happy to step in with a Greek loan.

  50. @ Barney

    I gave some explanation to my comment in a later comment but it went to moderation – I think I know for what word triggered it.

    Otherwise I agree with you.

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