Over the New Year the Times had an end of year YouGov poll, conducted in mid-December. The tables went up on the YouGov website today here. Topline figures were CON 39%, LAB 29%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3%. The rest of the poll, covering a lot of the trackers that YouGov used to ask on the regular daily polls, illustrate some of the real problems facing Labour as well as a couple of opportunities.

The net doing well/doing badly figures for the party leaders are minus 6 for David Cameron, minus 13 for Tim Farron, minus 18 for Nigel Farage and minus 32 for Jeremy Corbyn. Not long into the job Corbyn already has pretty dire figures (to be fair, they are up since YouGov last asked when it was minus 41 – albeit at the time of the Syria vote). On who would make the best Prime Minister David Cameron has a solid twenty-six point lead over Corbyn, on 49% to Corbyn’s 23%.

However, on any “best PM” questions we need to keep in mind that Cameron probably won’t be there. Corbyn still trails behind the likely replacements for Cameron, but not by quite as much, head-to-head against Boris he would be fourteen points behind (Boris 43%, Corbyn 29%), head-to-head against Osborne he would be twelve points behind (Osborne 39%, Corbyn 27%).

Asked about which party they’d trust to handle the big issues of the day Labour are ahead on their reliable banker of the NHS (though by only seven points) and on housing (by five points). The two parties are essentially neck-and-neck on education (Con 28%, Lab 27%) and on immigration UKIP lead (29%, to the Tories on 24% and Labour on 15%). On law and order and on economic issues the Tories lead – on tax by 13 points, the economy in general by 23 points, on unemployment by 12 points.

Unemployment is an interesting one here. As I’ve written many times before “best party on issues” questions tend to move in tandem, if the Conservatives improve on education, they also improve on tax, on housing, on transport and so on. Each party has strong and weak issues (so Labour will always do better on the NHS, the Conservatives will always do better on crime) but a lot of the change in figures seems to actually reflect underlying perceptions of a party’s general competence, rather than their specific statements or policies on that subject. What is really interesting on these questions therefore is when a measure moves relative to other ones – over time unemployment appears to have done so. If you go back to old Gallup or MORI questions from the 1980s and 90s, under Thatcher and Major unemployment became an issued “owned” by the Labour party, up there with the NHS. Whatever their other failings, people trusted Labour with the issue of unemployment. A decade ago YouGov were giving the Labour party a lead of 13 points on the NHS, and 25 points on unemployment. Now it’s switched over, the NHS is still a safe issue for Labour, but unemployment is an issue where people trust the Conservatives.

The other economic questions in the survey were also relatively optimistic (or in the case of personal economic expectations, not as pessimistic as in the past). By 35% to 26% people now think the economy is in a good state, and 21% of people expect to be financially better off in the coming year, compared to 25% who expect to be worse off.

Improving economic expectations are a two edged sword for the government of course. At one level, George Osborne still has a lot of cuts to make to hit his targets, and if people think the economic problems of the country are solved it will be harder for him to sell them to the public. Equally, as perceptions of the economy improve people stop worrying about it. On the question of which issues are most important to the country the economy was practically nailed on to the top spot for years after the financial crisis began in 2007-2008. For a while seventy to eighty percent of people regularly named it as a major issue facing the country. Then, as the economy improved, it started to fall. By 2014 it began to dip below immigration, now it’s down in third place behind health, with just a third naming it as an important issue. Despite the Conservative party’s current strong position in voting intention, UKIP and Labour are the parties people trust the most on what they see as the two big issues facing the country, immigration and health. Then again, perhaps that just illustrates that it’s not really issues that drive voting intentions.

Finally YouGov are still finding a very close EU referendum race – 41% would vote to stay, 42% would vote to leave.


271 Responses to “YouGov end of year poll”

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  1. Livingstone and Galloway won independently of Labour.
    The PLP could not win in the country independently of Labour in my view, as many people would like an alternative to New Labour which has been in power since 1997 to present day.
    As Cameron is defenitley the hier to Blair.

    I do not know, if there is any polling on this, but the more people you exclude from the propery owning democracy, as many of the younger generation are without wealthy parents, the less likely they are to vote.
    Corbyn is the first leader of a major party to try to engage with them in a meaningful way and not as Blair did take them for granted, as they had nowhere else to go politically.
    Cameron does the same believing the right have no where else to go.
    One day politics will have to speak to more than the swing voters in a depressing first past the post mentality.

  2. LURKINGHERKIN

    Thanks-I was interested in the Haines idea really-not so much what Oborne thinks of it , which is kind of irrelevant.

    What matters is what Labour MPs think about it.

  3. Colin
    Joe Haines is worth a hearing as Wilson was a brilliant politician to keep his Labour cabinet in the same party from 64 to 76.
    However I do not think his idea can work with FPTP.
    Both major parties are such broad churches, they need PR in a modern democracy,so they can properly represent each section.

  4. DEZ

    Indeed-which is why the idea was worth reading.

    But like you, I can’t see it working in practice in a way which would produce a sustainable PLP at constituency level.. It would take some organising & coordinating too.

  5. Colin
    I agree .
    With the majority of PLP currently opposing the Labour members it looks like a long period of opposition.
    I believe some of Corbyns policies could resonate in a difficult climate.
    However in my opinion he could never win an election, and Labour would need a younger charismatic leader to have a hope , with less baggage.
    Like the Canadian new PM.

  6. I would not describe the PLP today as New Labour. Probably Blairites are as thin on the ground there as Corbynites. I would have though that a soft Left concensus might at some point emerge.

  7. We are back today repeating the 1980s (only as tragedy rather than farce- particular for all those people who would do better with a Labour government than Cameron-Osborne: look at the inequality reduction figures between 1986 and 2000 for example).

    As in the 1980s Labour are only now going to get out of this terrible mess in stages: the first being electing as leader a senior well liked member of the ‘soft’ or otherwise called ‘democratic’ left. Those farlefties still standing in 2020 after that Corbyn Catastrophe will be much more amenable to a ‘dem left’ leadership candidate than they will be a moderate.

    But the UK electorate has never voted in government a party seen as further to left than centre left – defined by the positions/ context of their era. The Atlee government was arguably the greatest *social democratic* in history- it was certainly not a “socialist” government when measured by its domestic and foreign policies, and the definitional conventions if that epoch. Biographers and political scientists are largely agreed on this.

    So the post Corbynism democratic left leader will pick up the chaotic mess that will be Labour; they will change the rules; they will expel farleft 2015 arrivals who have called for undemocratic purges of pragmatists and moderates and who call on people to vote against official LAB candidates that they don’t like. They will do a tremendous job and an enormous service to Labour and to the country.

    But they won’t win in 2025.

    At that stage- after 15 years of Conservative rule- the reconstituted post Corbyn Labour Party will be ready to vote for a moderate as leader again: with- by that time- the support of most Trade Union leaders who actually ARE keen to win general elections even if their behaviour over the summer indicated otherwise.

    2030 will be the next truly competitive general election.

  8. In order to break away and form a separate Parliamentary group, the PLP needs a credible, courageous, charismatic leader. It doesn’t have one -were such a person to exist they would have defeated Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election.
    It’s going to take time for a new leader to emerge from the PLP. I just hope it is in my lifetime!

  9. Rob,

    Yes Andy Burnham is already positioning himself to try to be the soft left leader and, I agree with you that, he or someone similar would lose in 2025.

    (Although with the LDs back the frame by then a Tory OM may be tough after 15 years in power)

    I am hopeful that things will move quicker and AC will go before the next GE (18 hopefully) to be replaced by a soft lefty who whilst they may lose would do so with dignity (Michael Howard) and allow a winnable candidate, from the 2015 intake maybe or 2010 at worse, to emerge to take us to 2025 with a chance of being the largest party.

    Of course, EU referendum, possibly Scottish Independence plus Boundary Changes and other process factors could impact.

  10. I believe it is ridiculous to look ahead with any certainty to 2020 – never mind 2025 or 2030! The Parliaments of 1979 – 1983 and 1983 – 1987 lasted just four years – so on an equivalent basis this one has not even started. I simply do not share the assumption that Labour are now lumbered with Corbyn until 2020 – it is just as likely that he will be gone by 2018! A new leader could pull things back together in the way that Howard did for the Tories in 2005. I know that Howard did lose – but he managed a Lab to Con swing of 3% compared with 2001. If Labour can achieve that next time the two main parties will be neck and neck in terms of vote share – with the Tories probably far too short of a majority even to continue as a minority Government. There are already signs of the economy going ‘tits up’ again – and a lot still to ply for!

  11. @Graham

    Thank you for that piece of common!

    I’ve just been watching three British Economists praising John McDonnell’s economic policies (and his understanding). It was in very curious contrast to mainstream media reporting in this country.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/01/uk-labor-party-departing-from-austerity-to-strengthen-economy.html

  12. @Syzygy

    From the same website, this is salient…

    “The Death of the Professional: Are Doctors, Lawyers and Accountants Becoming Obsolete?
    Posted on January 9, 2016 by Yves Smith

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/01/the-death-of-the-professional-are-doctors-lawyers-and-accountants-becoming-obsolete.html

    Yves here. Many members of the top 10% regard their role in society as relatively secure, particularly if the are in a niche that serves the capital-deploying 1% or better yet, 0.1%. But a new book suggest their position is not secure. And trends in motion confirm this dour reading, such as the marked decline in law school enrollments, and the trend in the US to force doctors to practice out of hospitals or HMOs, where they are salaried and are required to adhere to corporate care guidelines. For instance, my MD is about to have her practice bought out, and is looking hard as to whether she can establish a concierge practice. Mind you, she appears regularly on TV and writes a monthly column for a national magazine [not that is how I found her or why I use her]. Yet she has real doubts as to whether she can support all the overhead. If someone with a profile can’t make a go at it solo in a market like Manhattan, pray tell, who can?”

    I cannot help feeling that some peeps might be deluding themselves about their ability to insulate their offspring from growing inequality, overpopulated elites etc.

  13. @Robert Newark

    “Thanks for your further explanation on Thorium. Very enlightening.”

    ——–

    No probs. To be honest, these days I’ve moved on to fusion and in particular to the Polywell. More elegant, and safer still, much easier than conventional fusion and much more efficient. Use the right fuel and you get pretty much direct conversion of the nuclear energy into electricity without messy turbines and stuff.

    I told Syzygy I’d give an explanation once but struggle to find a way to explain in a sufficiently condensed fashion. It’s really cool and clever stuff though…

  14. @COLIN

    “Thanks-I was interested in the Haines idea really-not so much what Oborne thinks of it”

    Understood. My comment was addressing the original direction of the discussion which was that of support for Corbyn from unexpected quarters; I was just pointing out that Oborne’s discussion of the plan in the Mail wasn’t in contradiction to the earlier article that Syzygy linked. Essentially, Oborne’s take on the plan is a pessimistic one.

  15. CARFREW

    On the subject of Nuclear Fusion, and the Green Party, I am still wondering what their actual policy on this is now. In the 2010 election, they made a specific commitment to de-funding nuclear fusion research. This was policy statement # EN263. This, I considered a deal breaker for me, though it simplified my decision to exclude them from my voting intentions.

    But by the 2015 election, EN263 had disappeared from their policy list.

    “EN260 A green government will phase out polluting and unsustainable power sources.

    EN261 We will cancel construction of new nuclear stations and nuclear power will not be eligible for government subsidy; the Green Party opposes all nuclear power generation and is particularly opposed to the construction of new nuclear power stations……..{justification is then given}…….

    EN262 Money earmarked for new nuclear plant research, development and construction will be reallocated to energy efficiency measures and renewable energy infrastructure, but sufficient funding for decommissioning redundant power stations, and for research into the safe storage or disposal of existing radioactive waste stockpiles will be retained.

    {EN263 MISSING – formerly, a commitment to defund nuclear fusion research}

    EN264 We will halt the development of coal-bed methane, shale gas and similar hydrocarbon exploitation since it is not needed to meet UK energy demands, is environmentally destructive, and will lead to increasing GHG emissions.”

    Now, we might take it that nuclear fusion is considered defunded ‘by default’ under EN261. But I found it a bit odd that they felt the need to delete EN263. It’s almost as if they didn’t want to draw attention to their intentions to shut fusion projects down. Or maybe it’s giving them a bit of wiggle room to say that EN261 only refers to nuclear fission plants.

  16. Sorry, forgot to include the link

    https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ey.html

  17. @LG

    Good spot on the fusion thing. I confess to wondering about the Green stance on nuclear also, but it’s quite hard to find Greens willing to address the matter…

  18. @Carfew

    ‘I cannot help feeling that some peeps might be deluding themselves about their ability to insulate their offspring from growing inequality, overpopulated elites etc.’

    My feeling too… but didn’t Gramsci say something about it being easier to rebuild from the ruins?

    Disappointed not to get the Polywell fusion explanation… I’ll have to look it up for myself.

  19. @Syzygy

    Well, there’s Polywell explanations, and there’s Polywell explanations. Like, a proper explanation would include… Why fusion and not fission, and what’s cool about the Polywell versus other methods.

    Main challenge is you kinda gotta explain fusion to explain the significance of the Polywell.

    Which peeps might explain elsewhere, but not necessarily ideally…

  20. @Syzygy

    Abridged version, in two parts…

    Atoms consist of a central core, or nucleus, surrounded by a cloud of electrons.
    In Nuclear Fission, you get energy released by splitting large atoms, or more accurately, splitting their central core, or nucleus. In Fusion, it’s the opposite: you get energy released when fusing small atomic nuclei together. (Why this is the case is a bit tricky to explain, I may give it a go later).

    Fusion is in theory advantageous, since the fuel can be more abundant and the process can involve less radiation etc.

    But Fusion is much harder to achieve. This is because the atomic nucleus contains protons. Which are positively charged. Just as like magnetic poles repel each other, so do like electric charges. So the positively charged nuclei repel each other.

    If you can get them close enough, there is another, Nuclear force that will overwhelm the electric force and pull them together. But it is only strong over very small ranges. So you have to force the nuclei together close enough for this nuclear force to take effect. Since the electric repulsion is very strong, this takes a lot of energy.

    In the Sun, fusion requires very high temperatures, ten million degrees. But the core of the Sun is under a lot of pressure due to the immense gravity. This pressure assists pushing nuclei together. On earth, without such pressures to get sufficient energy for fusion you typically need to heat the nuclei to something more like 100 million degrees. Then they’ll be whizzing around fast enough so if they collide, they’ll fuse.

    But you can’t let the fuel touch the sides of a container, as it’ll kill the temperature. Because the fuel is electrically charged, it can be controlled by magnets. So they suspend it in a ring formed by lots of big, powerful, expensive superconducting magnets. But the ring of very hot fuel, known as a plasma, isn’t very stable and forms eddies, electric currents that mess with the magnetic field and consequently the plasma touches the sides of the container, killing the reaction.

    In the meantime, the nuclear reaction produces lots of neutrons that whizz off at high energies, damaging the reactor over time and making stuff radioactive…

    The Polywell sidesteps a lot of this…

  21. @Syzygy pt2

    With the Polywell, you don’t use magnets to contain the plasma. You use an electric field, which is much more powerful, so no expensive magnets.

    Also, instead of a ring with its awkward eddies etc., you comply confine the plasma in the centre of a chamber.

    You do need a few magnets, but not to contain the plasma. Instead you can use simple, ordinary magnets arranged in a cube which are used to create a cloud of electrons in the chamber, which being negatively charged attract the positively charged nuclei. Because the electric field is so strong, these nuclei wind up accelerating toward the centre colliding at high energies and some of them fuse.

    The coolest bit, is that this kind of reactor will support what are known as “aneutronic” reactions, ones that don’t produce neutrons, so no degrading the equipment. Even better, some of these reactions, notably one using Boron, produce a stream of Protons. In other words, they directly produce electricity, no need for inefficient turbines etc.

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