Last year the election polls got it wrong. Since then most pollsters have made only minor interim changes – ComRes, BMG and YouGov have conducted the biggest overhauls, many others have made only tweaks, and all the companies have said they are continuing to look at further potential changes in the light of the polling review. In light of that I’ve seen many people assume that until changes are complete many polls probably still overestimate Labour support. While on the face of it that makes sense, I’m not sure it’s true.

The reason the polls were wrong in 2015 seems to be the samples were wrong. That’s sometimes crudely described as samples including too many Labour voters and too few Conservative voters. This is correct in one sense, but is perhaps describing the symptom rather than the cause. The truth is, as ever, rather more complicated. Since the polls got it wrong back in 1992 almost all the pollsters have weighted their samples politically (using how people voted at the last election) to try and ensure they don’t contain too many Labour people or too few Conservative people. Up until 2015 this broadly worked.

The pre-election polls were weighted to contain the correct number of people who voted Labour in 2010 and voted Conservative in 2010. The 2015 polls accurately reflected the political make up of Britain in terms how people voted at the previous election, what it got wrong it how they voted at the forthcoming election. Logically, therefore, what the polls got wrong was not the people who stuck with the same party, but the proportions of people who changed their vote between the 2010 and 2015 elections. There were too many people who said they’d vote Labour in 2015 but didn’t in 2010, too many people who voted Tory in 2010 but said they wouldn’t in 2015, and so on.

The reason for this is up for debate. My view is that it’s due to poll samples containing people who are too interested in politics, other evidence has suggested it is people who are too easy to reach (these two explanations could easily be the same thing!). The point of this post isn’t to have that debate, it’s to ask what it tells us about how accurate the polls are now.

The day after an election how you voted at the previous election is an extremely strong predictor of how you’d vote in an election the next day. If you voted Conservative on Thursday, you’d probably do so again on Friday given the chance. Over time events happen and people change their minds and their voting intention; how you voted last time becomes a weaker and weaker predictor. You also get five years of deaths and five years of new voters entering the electorate, who may or may not vote.

Political weighting is the reason why the polls in Summer 2015 all suddenly showed solid Conservative leads when the same polls had shown the parties neck-and-neck a few months earlier, it was just the switch to weighting to May 2015 recalled vote**. In the last Parliament, polls were probably also pretty much right early in the Parliament when people’s 2010 vote correlated well with their current support, but as the Lib Dems collapsed and UKIP rose, scattering and taking support from different parties and in different proportions polls must have gradually become less accurate, ending with the faulty polls of May 2015.

What does it tell us about the polls now? Well, it means while many polling companies haven’t made huge changes since the election yet, current polls are probably pretty accurate in terms of party support, simply because it is early in the Parliament and party support does not appear to have changed vastly since the election. At this point in time, weighting samples by how people voted in 2015 will probably be enough to produce samples that are pretty representative of the British public.

Equally, it doesn’t automatically follow that we will see the Conservative party surge into a bigger lead as polling companies do make changes, though it does largely depend on the approach different pollsters take (methodology changes to sampling may not make much difference until there are changes in party support, methodology changes to turnout filters or weighting may make a more immediate change).

Hopefully it means that polls will be broadly accurate for the party political elections in May, the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and London Mayoral elections (people obviously can and do vote differently in those elections to Westminster elections, but there will be a strong correlation to how they voted just a year before). The EU referendum is more of a challenge given it doesn’t correlate so closely to general election voting and will rely upon how well pollsters’ samples represent the British electorate. As the Parliament rolls on, we will obviously have to hope that the changes the pollsters do end up making keep polls accurate all the way through.

(**The only company that doesn’t weight politically is Ipsos MORI. Quite how MORI’s polls shifted from neck-and-neck in May 2015 to Tory leads afterwards I do not know. They have made only a relatively minor methodological change in their turnout filter. Looking at the data tables, it appears to be something to do with the sampling – ICM, ComRes and MORI all sample by dialing random telephone numbers, but the raw data they get before weighting it is strikingly different. Looking at the average across the last six surveys the raw samples that ComRes and ICM get before they weight their data has an equal number of people saying they voted Labour in 2015 and saying they voted Tory in 2015. MORI’s raw data has four percent more people saying they’d voted Conservative than saying they’d voted Labour, so a much less skewed raw sample. Perhaps MORI have done something clever with their quotas or their script, but it’s clearly working.)

51 Responses to “Will polls overestimate Labour in May?”

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  1. So basically the polls are horrifically underestimating Labour and they’re going to romp home to victory ;-)

  2. “(people obviously can and do vote differently in those elections to Westminster elections, but there will be a strong correlation to how they voted just a year before).”

    Not always, however. There can be points in political history when a sea change occurs.

    Scottish vote in UK GE 2010 – SNP 20% : Lab 42%
    Holyrood constituencies vote in GE 2011 – SNP 45% : Lab 32%

  3. I thought I would share three polls from the October 19th 2015 Canadian federal election, where the pollsters basically got it right – and for those of you who know more about the technical details than me, you may choose to compare technical differences in how the polls were conducted:


    Like the UK election the Conservatives employed Lynton Crosby, but instead of the “Scots” he used the Niqab as a wedge issue – but it backfired.

    But it is this Ekos poll from the 16th of October, three days before the vote that caught my attention:

    Could the difference between the UK vote outcome and Canada be that the younger age demographic showed up as they obviously did for the SNP in Scotland.

    Consequently I am wondering if the reason that the pollsters got it so wrong in the Michigan Democrat Primary is that the younger and more disengaged political demographic also showed up.

    It’s just a thought.

  4. If polling calls are random, why do I get called at least once a year? In the days of door to door poll research I did once complete one. That was in 1999! Yet I have been contacted regularly ever since. I have refused to take part as well since I feel I’ve made my contribution. Which suggests your point that a lot of polling is done with the politically interested is correct. It also suggests harassed staff save time by calling people they have data on. If that was the case then they would have a bias towards Labour as they were unlikely to have many UKIP supporters from 2010 but did have SNP from the Assembly election.

  5. In contrast to John H, I’ve never been asked to participate in any survey. Put me down for SNP please.

  6. Like Alun 009 I have never been contacted by any polling company. Unlike Alun, however, I am not yet sure how I will vote in May.

  7. Does ‘random sampling’ mean that some polling companies are among those very annoying people who cause my telephone to ring (usually at the most inconvenient of moments!) and then ring off as soon as I answer?

  8. JOHN H

    If polling calls are random, why do I get called at least once a year? In the days of door to door poll research I did once complete one. That was in 1999! Yet I have been contacted regularly ever since. I have refused to take part as well since I feel I’ve made my contribution.

    Well it’s partly because there are a lot more polls being taken – there are more pollsters operating than there were in 1999. While much of the extra polling will be online (which is quicker and cheaper) some will involve calling people on landlines or increasingly mobiles.

    But you actually give the main reason why you are being rung up more – it’s that you are refusing to answer! Because you aren’t the only one doing so and pollsters are now finding they need to ring up more people to get a sample – maybe having to make 20 calls before they find someone willing to help. If they are having to make 20 calls where in the past they would have had to make only two, then you are ten times more likely to get rung up in the course of a year.

    It’s not helped, of course, by the increasing number of cold callers, some of whom pose as opinion pollsters[1], which means that most people are increasing unwilling to deal with any type of cold caller[2] or even pick up the phone to an unknown number.

    [1] I’m not quite sure what scam this is. I usually put the phone down on them after tormenting some poor call centre worker (who is pretending he isn’t Indian) with lots of questions about BPC membership and MRS protocols. But I suspect it’s more about gathering personal data that can then be used or sold on to other cold calling companies rather than anything immediately fraudulent.

    [2] Legitimate opinion pollsters and market researchers are actually exempt from legal restrictions on cold calling and being registered with organisations such as TPS will not stop such calls.

  9. If the same mistakes are repeated then Labour will be overestimated.
    Under 35’s will ejaculate passionate social welfare concerns when questioned and not turn up at the polling booth. Oldies who know where their bread is buttered will turn up and vote Tory.


    […] I am wondering if the reason that the pollsters got it so wrong in the Michigan Democrat Primary is that the younger and more disengaged political demographic also showed up.

    That seems to be one of the main reasons, though given the amount they were out by it needs to be a lot of a number of things rather than “a little bit of everything” as one pollster is reported as saying. But looking at the figures in this piece which looked at exit data:

    underestimation of the younger voters’ turnout and how decisively pro-Saunders they are seems to be a lot of it.

  11. Regarding younger voters – be careful about looking at American elections and assuming similar things will happen here. The demographic profiles are quite different.

    Here’s the American profile as at 2014:

    Notice how the 20-24 generation is bigger than the 50-54 generation. The millennials are their biggest ever generation.

    Now here’s the UK at 2014:

    The 45-49 group is much bigger than 25-29 group, who are bigger than the 20-24 group.

    The American profile is shaped like a milk bottle, whereas our profile is a coke bottle.

    The millennials in the USA can outvote the older population if they show up. Millennials in the UK cannot. Our politics are dominated by the 45-49 group – Cameron’s generation. They are the ones who put Blair into power in ’97 when they came of age, and then switched to Tory last year. They’ll be dictating our politics for a good fifteen more years.

  12. @Andy Shadrack

    Justin Trudeau is a Disney Prince. Other countries can’t replicate the Canadian 2015 election unless they too field disney princes, but they’re almost as rare as unicorns I’m afraid!

  13. @CANDY
    I hope you are not asserting that Jeremy Corbyn is not a Disney Prince.

  14. Cold calling may well increase further following the decision that the best way to cut energy bills will be to give the details of those who haven’t switched recently to companies who can then cold call these lucky, lucky people.

    Who woulda thunk energy policy might be at the expense of polling?…

  15. @ Candy

    I’d have to compare the Canadian demographic to the US and UK to agree with you, but the truth is that in Canada and now in the Democratic Primary’s the “millenials” appear to be showing up.

    So how do you explain Scotland, because I would extrapolate that the millenials are showing up there to and making a difference to the political outcome.

    Look at the demographic turnouts in Bristol-West and Brighton-Pavillion, for example.

    Last weekend I was given a short lecture by what I assume is what you call a “millenial”, who said do not show up and ask me what I want and then promise me to do that. I want to know what you stand for and then I will judge whether to support you or not: and I suspect that is how some “millenials” are judging the race between Sanders and Clinton.

    “Millenials”, those who are engaged, are well informed and they are looking for politicians who will lead us out of the mess they perceive their parents and grandparents left them in.

    Do not make the same mistake about Trudeau that I and others did in Canada at the start of the 2015 campaign, as there was a pivotal moment in the Quebec debate when Trudeau turned on Harper and you could tell that this man had a genuine passion for Canada.

    His cabinet is the first in Canadian history to be composed of an equal number of women and men, and judging by some of the comments they are making in media scrums I would say they are getting some really good political advice on how to handle themselves.

    Trudeau clearly has some of his Father’s political acumen, and while the jury is out on what he will eventually achieve, we are seeing some transformative moves around our First Nations file, climate change and gender equality.

    This is the first Canadian cabinet to contain members who grew up post-Cold War, and it shows, and includes at least one person who came to Canada as a “war refugee”.

    I am not a fan of the Liberal Party and disagreed with many of Trudeau’s Father’ polices, but at least we are now having a debate and government scientists are once again being allowed to provide information to the public on what they are thinking.

  16. Regulars may recall I was running my friend’s SU Presidential campaign. What followed last night was one of the tightest elections I’ve ever seen – and he won after eight rounds of counting and preferences, during which the lead changed five times, including one round with a dead tie.

    The margin of victory was 0.169% – good advertising for boosting turnout next year!

  17. Given we are dealing with U.K. (And in terms of England councils, English) voters- not Canadians or Rust belt Amercans…..I would expect the answer to the question posed in thread title to be a resounding “YES”.

  18. @ Roger Mexico

    Thanks for the link, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp TV news piece was very instructive on the race between Clinton and Sanders, in that the female students working for Clinton shown at Wellesey College were all white, whereas the young women working for Sanders were predominantly non-white.

    At 81% of 18-24 year olds supporting Sanders in Michigan this should not come as a surprise, but in Regina, Saskatchewan, in the late 70s and early 80s the womens movement split into two definite factions:

    i. a Liberal feminist and radical feminist group who just wanted to get women, any woman elected

    ii. a socialist feminist group who wanted more women elected, but who were far more discerning about which women they wanted to get elected.

    The Afro-asian women interviewed on the CBC news piece was from the latter camp and I suspect that Madaleine Albright’s comment that…”there is a special place in hell for women who will not support electing a women” may have tipped the scales in terms of Elizabeth Warren deciding to back Sanders.

    I also saw a tv peice of Sanders addressing a rally in South Carolina, and note he went straight to the issue that lower income Americans are facing – when he said…”a $7.25 an hour minimum wage is not good enough, we need to make that $15 an hour”.

    Sanders is speaking directly to the very voters that the Democrats need to motivate to get out and vote in November, just like Nicola Sturgeon and just like Justin Trudeau in 2015.

    My concern with Trudeau, is I’m not sure he can deliver, given who now really holds the levers of power globally, but anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” will understand the status quo is untenable to many “progressive millenials”.

  19. Andy Shadrack – “So how do you explain Scotland, because I would extrapolate that the millenials are showing up there to and making a difference to the political outcome.”

    If we assume that SNP voters are largely the people who voted Yes in the referendum, the following YouGov exit poll for the referendum breaks down where their support came from:

    The only age group that voted strongly Yes were the 26-39 year olds (55% yes). These are not millennials. With the 16-25 group, it was 51% No.

    And even if the millennials had switched to 51% Yes, it wouldn’t have affected the outcome. (The SNP won seats in the general election mainly because the No vote split three ways Lab/LibDem/Tory and FPTP did the rest – it wasn’t anything to do with millennials at all).

    Millennials are a big deal in the USA because they are such a big generation there. In the UK they don’t have much of an effect on anything because they are a small generation.

  20. @MrNameless

    Congratulations to you and your friend!

    Expect the backstabbing to commence immediately ;-)

  21. What definition of millennials is everyone using? I have googled this, but it seems that there are several different definitions, with birth dates varying from the 1980s until the early 2000s (says Wikipedia).

    It seems to me that with such a broad range it’s not a particularly useful term. If individuals here are using narrower definitions, it’s entirely possible that they are actually talking about different groups. i.e. One person might mean those born in the 1980s, and another those born in the late 1990s.

  22. A starting point might be ‘ are you sure you are registered to vote’? If the answer is a definite ‘yes’ then you can proceed with the questioning. It would be interesting to know the political spread of people who were NOT registered to vote (but maybe thought they were) but when asked which party they intended to vote for gave an answer. I think I know the answer to this question but let us try it and see.

  23. @PeteB

    They’re people in their twenties.Generation X are people in their 40’s, Generation Y, people in their 30’s, Millennials, people in their 20’s.

    If you look at the demographic profile I posted above, twenty-somethings are a massive generation in the United States. But are a small group in Britain. It’s a bit like Boomers – massive generation in the USA but not really in Britain because people living under post-war Austerity weren’t having many babies (Brits didn’t let rip till the mid 1960’s). But people like to assume we follow American trends, even though our demographic profile is European.

  24. Candy,
    Thanks for the clarification. So what happens next year? i.e. If millennials are those in their 20s this year, would they be those aged 21-30 next year, and 22-31 in 2018 etc?

    Also, I think there was a baby boom in the UK in the early 1950s of which I was part (classes of 50 at primary school).

  25. @PeteB

    I guess they’ll have to coin a new name for them.

    WW2 had a huge impact on us – proportionally we lost a lot more men than the USA, so lots of the twenty-somethings who would normally have fathered children in the 1940’s died without issue. Then couple that with some serious post-war austerity as the Attlee govt tried to bring down the war debt (pay freezes for five years plus rationing) and people weren’t feeling confident enough to have children.

    I think rationing didn’t get lifted till 1952 or thereabouts.

    The other big social change that makes us different to the Americans is female labour participation from the 1990’s onwards. British women work, American women don’t to the same extent. It might have something to do with Mrs T – a generation grew up with the boss of the country being a woman and this was their norm. Look how many parties have a female head – even the DUP – and look how rare female politicians are in the USA.

    Women have fewer children when they work – they have their families later and then only one child, occasionally two. When the show Desperate Housewives aired in Britain, it fell flat with it’s target audience of women – and that’s because it seemed so unrealistic. Nobody knew anyone who was a housewife, let alone a desperate one! Home-making is still a big deal in the Southern USA though.

    Anyway, the long and short of it is that here, the over 40’s control politics and hence the country by sheer force of numbers, because subsequent generations are small.

  26. We don’t seem to control storage policy…

  27. @MrNameless

    “What followed last night was one of the tightest elections I’ve ever seen – and he won after eight rounds of counting and preferences, during which the lead changed five times, including one round with a dead tie.”


    How did he do compared to the polling beforehand?

  28. Carfrew,

    The polling was awful – sample size of 151 and conducted solely in the SU. He had a five point lead in the poll, but 12 points over his eventual rival.

    Curiously, the polling for the other positions tended to be pretty accurate. They called 6/8 of them right.

  29. Just a couple of observations;

    Firstly it’s interesting just how few people post when the topic is actually Polling, what this site is about, and I suppose that perhaps confirms that on line polling attracts those interested in part in polling but much more in politics.

    Secondly, if the two main issues are that, on line panels tend to attract people “too” interested in politics and that people’s support and votes shift over time then maybe an on line panel could be used to detect “Shift” and perhaps to imply from the “shifters” how non panellists might vote.

    I am just speculating loosely here but;

    If panellists were asked a set of control questions on the issues and then the same issues at regulate intervals what could be measured is the extent to which people views were out of line with there previous ones. The assumption being if I voted A because of X,Y & Z and I have changed my views on X,Y & Z I am less likely to vote for A.

    Perhaps instead of asking if the approved of a Parties policy on an issue panellists were asked “If the Party’s policy was Improving” we would track discontentment more effectively.

    Take the example of Immigration, I suspect on an Approve question people concerned about immigration might still be a fair amount prefer the Conservatives to Labour but if it was an Improve question focusing on how well they thought they were doing the gap might be smaller.

    A key to identify shift might be less about if they liked a policy than if it was being delivered.

    It might come to nothing but it would be interesting if Yougov ran the two types of question side by side to see if they got different results.


  30. @ LoiusWalshVotesGreen

    So what is your prediction for Baden-Wurttemburg on Sunday given the two latest opinion polls:

    I predict as follows:

    Green 48
    CDU 45
    SPD 19
    Afd 17
    FDP 10

    I note the polls tended to overestimate Green support in 2011 and underestimate CDU and SPD so perhaps Afd might do a little better.

    I am also wondering if the Left Party at 4% might just squeak over the 5% mark, which means the above seat totals would be completely off.

  31. In terms of the question being asked by Anthony at the beginning of this thread, my take given, what some Canadian pollsters have said in the lead up to the October 19th election in 2015 – accuracy of polls is now very dependent on getting the turnout demographic right.

    I also think that that a usual turnout can be bucked slightly by a good GOTV strategy, either by a particular party or a particular candidate – but that will only account for turnout numbers that are up to 5% above the regular turnout.

    And if we are talking solely local government elections then people are far more willing to cross their traditional Party lines to vote for an individual whom they think will do a good job.

    Your local government elections in the UK are far more partisan than ours in BC, where it is only in the very large urban centres, Vancouver and Victoria, that we have political parties running at all.

    In Canada local government is the farm team area for those politicians planning to run at a provincial or tyerritorial level, and sometimes leap straight to a federal (national) one.

  32. @Andy Shadrack

    “And if we are talking solely local government elections then people are far more willing to cross their traditional Party lines to vote for an individual whom they think will do a good job.”

    This is true of more Presidential style local elections, such as in London. However, it is dependent on the profile of the candidate. Ken Livingston and Boris Johnson are both huge political personalities and in their wins were able to attract personal votes. In this year’s London Mayoral race the main two candidates (Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith) are not household names and certainly do not have anything like the profiles of Ken or Boris. I would therefore expect the Mayoral vote this time around to follow party lines (and roughly match the Lab/Con margin in the parallel London Assembly elections).

  33. @ Candy

    You stated:

    Home-making is still a big deal in the Southern USA though.

    The United States Department of Labour, Women’s Bureau stats do not seem to bear out your comment. See in particular Chart 10:

    See also Chart 12 which seems to indicate that once children reach school age that participation rates for women average nearly 75% and range from three quarters to over two thirds by ethnic composition – indicating that lack of childcare might be a bigger factor than the desire to participate in the labour force.

    Chart 13 clearly shows that economic support from a spouse is a clear driver, even among women with very young children.

    While chart 14 shows that educational attainment is a big driver in being able to enter the workforce.

    Maybe you and others can read things into these stats that I cannot, but I do not think the evidence is there for your contention.

  34. Hi think “homemaking” is still a big thing in America, but not a big as paying the bills and not going hungry.

    After a decade and more of stagnant incomes, rising debt and job insecurity the traditional Blue Collar Man at the Factory while his Little Women stays at home making quilts and cookies is another part of the American Dream that has faded to dust.

    That may be yet another frustration leading to anger with the established order and the appeal of the outsider…. With the Dream failing to become a reality those offering to “Make your Dreams come true can be very appealing”

    Look at daytime adverts…..Bingo, Loans and Compensation, all offering a quick solution to problems long in the making.


  35. Regarding the question of detecting responders with too much interest in politics, why not ask a diagnostic question first to detect such interest? ie do you know there’s a local election coming up? Do you know what a minority government is? etc etc…

    As regards the situation in Ireland, they’re still struggling to get a government sorted out. This is not really surprising given the election result: the largest party has less than a third of the seats on offer, and of course there’s the usual “party A don’t want to go into government with party B” stuff going on. So it seems a choice between unstable government or another election quite soon. Another vote to elect the Taoiseach isn’t expected until early April, which gives plenty of time for argument, erm I mean negotiations.

  36. @ RAF

    If the Mayoralty race is going to follow the Assembly numbers, are you suggesting that the polls are already reflecting that?

    And given that Corbyn is an MP from London will there be a positive “Corbyn” factor in the Assembly elections for Labour?

    Interestingly in 2012 Comres and TNS-BMRB got the Labour numbers wrong by about 4% below what they actually achieved.

    No one predicted that Green Jenny Jones would beat Liberal Democrats Brian Piddick. TNS-BNRB had her at 3% to Piddick’s 7% and YouGov who correctly predicted that Labour’s Ken Livingstone would get over 40% also had Piddick at 7% and Jones at 2%.

    So in attempting to answer AW”s question, I think there is a distinct possibility that Labour’s support could be underestimated, and I note in the Opinium Mayoralty polls that the UKIP candidate has a slight edge over the Green and that the Liberal Democrats are running 5th.

    The sample, however, is very small and 34.7% of those surveyed either had no opinion on how they were likely to vote or did not know how they were likely to vote.

    Further I would be concerned given that of the 1,011 surveyed in the Opinium poll that 78% said they had voted in the 2015 General Election.

    The problem of surveying over engaged voters has not gone away. As AW correctly pointed out the BES survey was far more accurate because it was face to face, rather than electronic or over the phone.

    In Brighton Pavillion last year our foot canvass results were almost spot on where I was working, during the last weekend, and you could visibly see the undecided coming off the fence – but even a day and half before E-Day I still found about 5% undecided.

    Simply put, nothing beats face to face contact for accuracy, as you hear the inflection in the voice and see the expression on the face and other body language.

    Beyond that only two parties, except for the odd pockets, have the GOTV capacity to pull their vote on E-Day, Labour and Conservative.

    LD may have some remnant enclaves, and UKIP and Green may have some emerging “hot spots”, but London wide it is obvious who the two main players are.

    Finally, as I pointed out in an earlier post the only bounce for Labour can come from a shift in the Green vote as the only other “left” factor in the 2012 election was TUSC, who achieved .8% support.

    Further one has to factor in how much the Women’s Equality Party might draw off from Labour and/or the Greens.

    I also think there is a distinct possibility, as in the 2014 European elections, that the Liberal Democrats could be completely displaced by an insurgent UKIP moving ahead of both them and the Greens.

  37. Off topic but a Britexit question!

    What if we leave and India says it’s Red Line for a Free Trade Agreement with the U.K. is the unrestricted movement of Capital, Goods and…….LABOUR!

    They know we probably need an agreement more than they do so they would want concessions and push for better than they have now through the EU.


  38. PoliticalBetting is reporting a new YouGov Poll for the Holyrood elections that has Labour & the Tories essentially neck & neck…..

    Greens, LibDems and UKIP combined are on roughly the same as Labour and the Tories, so Labour seem to be being squeezed from both sides.



    Re: EU-India FTA I understood that part of the treaty is a Mode 4 transfer

    ‘Moving a motion against “mode 4” transfers – the World Trade Organisation’s term for moving workers across borders – the RMT union’s president Alex Gordon warned TUC delegates (14.09.11) about the new European Union free trade agreements:

    “This is potentially the greatest threat to collective bargaining and workers’ rights for many years,” he said.

    Under Mode 4, Indian companies operating in Delhi and London could move low-paid workers from India to Britain, undercutting workers domestically.

    “Transnational companies will be able to move workers across national borders and nation states will limit their own constitutional authority over these corporations.

    “Workers’ rights will be lost forever to corporate power.”

    As I understand it, the trade deal is essentially a UK-India FTA which is presumably why David Cameron has devoted a lot of time to visiting India. However, signing the FTA has been delayed for many years now and, although more likely under Modi, it must be in doubt whether it will ever be signed in its current form.

  40. Peter

    Not a new poll, but new tables from YG’s latest Scottish poll.

    YG/Times Holyrood poll.
    Const vote:
    SNP 49 (-1)
    Lab 19 (n/c)
    Con 19 (-1)
    LD 6 (n/c).

    List vote:
    SNP 43 (+1)
    Con 19 (-1)
    Lab 17 (-3)
    Grn 8 (+2)
    LD 5 (n/c)
    UKIP 4 (+1).

    Fwork 7-9 March

    FWIW Scotland Votes predicts seats as

    SNP 69
    Con 25
    Lab 20
    Grn 9
    LD 5

    Inevitably, if the Unionists are less divided, the Tories will pick up some extra constituency seats.

  41. via Gerry Hassan

    YouGov poll: 85% of Yes voters support SNP;
    No voters splitting 35% Tory, 30% Lab.
    Good news for Tories; terrible for Labour.

  42. The biggest threat to the polls if there was a behavioural change amount the youth. I think Labour is underestimated in the electorate, and more or less ok (currently) among the voters.

    Even with all the caveats for the local elections – polling companies could test their models in May.

  43. Can we say that the SNP represents the main stream of Scottish political life?

  44. There was an intelligent-sounding commentator on the BBC Scotland coverage of N Sturgeon’s speech. He was reasonably young with quite heavy framed spectacles and spoke with what struck me as an Ulster twang. He said that the SNP is the dominant party for the foreseeable future and that he thought the polls were right on the SNP v Labour.

  45. Laszlo “…polling companies could test their models in May.”
    An excellent idea, and refine the models in succeeding years.

    Andy Shadrack. If the previous LD candidate for London mayor you refer to is the one I’m thinking of I believe he was Brian Paddick, now Baron Paddick.

    Either way, I still have no idea how well Labour will do, this May or beyond. We do need elections to test the polls.

  46. Comres online poll for Sunday Mirror /Independent on Sunday.

    Con 38 Lab 29 LD 7 UKIP 16 Grn 4
    Tory lead drops 5% to 9% compared with Feb.

  47. @Andy Shadrack

    No idea where you got a 75% labour participation rate for American women. In the link you provided, you need to look at Chart 9 – The participation rate is 69.2% for men and 57% for women.

    That is backed up by separate figures for aggregate participation rate (men and women) of 62.9%. See

    In the UK the overall labour participation rate is 74% See

    Our higher aggregate labour participation rate is down to women working – British women work, even if it’s just part time, but American women don’t. And that affects birth rates. It’s the reason why they have a big millennial population and we don’t.

  48. P.S. I see you picked on the chart which showed participation rate once their youngest child had gone to school. That’s a misleading chart in many ways – for example in the case of a woman who had three children, two years apart, she would be out of the workforce for 11 years, assuming her youngest went to school at 5.

    The chart you need is the one that simply looks at the percentage of the females of working age at work. Our participation knocks their in a cocked hat. That’s because in Britain most women delay childbirth, have fewer children and go back to work as soon as maternity leave is over – when the baby is 1 years old.

  49. @ Candy

    The average female participation in the us labour market is indeed 57%, far lower than in Europe, but it is increasing (again, depending what year one chooses). There are two interesting things. One is the age distribution (I.e. Returning to the labour market at around 35-40), the other is the lack of race differences (unlike among men).

  50. @Laszlo

    The overall aggregate labour participation rate in the USA is at it’s lowest since 1977. See

    In Britain, Generation Y and the Millennials are small generations, but we’re all working and contributing. And older generations are also still in the workforce, see how many over 60s have part time jobs now. They’re working as long as they can.

    The difference is down to women and attitudes to women working. It’s been normalized to such an extent that a religious party like the DUP can elect a woman leader and it’s not even newsworthy. But the price of women working is smaller families and smaller generations.

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