Opinium’s latest voting intention poll has topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 31%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. The seven point Conservative lead is much tighter than we’ve seen in other recent polls, which have almost all had double-figure Tory leads. While the lead has dropped in this poll, I suspect the difference is methodological somehow – most of Opinium’s recent polls have had Tory leads that are smaller than those from other companies. One of the results of the 2015 polling error and polling companies’ efforts to correct them is that we can’t really tell for sure which are right. Is it that some companies haven’t done enough to correct the errors of the past, or others who have done too much?

Given I’ve flagged up the increase in Lib Dem support in the last three polls I should also point out the absence of one here, they are down one point. We’ve had four polls since the Richmond by-election, two showing a small increase, one a small drop, one a substantial increase. Taking an average across the four polls, a very modest impact on national levels of Lib Dem support. Full tabs are here.

The same poll had a couple of questions for Keiran Pedley – the first asked people if they preferred a Brexit where Britain left completely, but got a harsh deal meaning the economy suffers, unemployment increases and there’s less money for public services… or a Brexit where Britain remains in some EU institutions, has freedom of movement, is subject to the EU courts and so on. Faced with that stark choice, people went with the “soft Brexit” option by 41% to 35%. However, it does, of course, assume that people can be convinced that a “hard Brexit” option would result in the economy suffering, unemployment increasing and so on. We’ve just had a salutary lesson that lots of experts telling people that leaving the EU would have negative economic effects is not necessarily effective. I think the most we can say is that it suggests if people can be convinced that a hard Brexit would damage the economy, jobs and public services and that a soft Brexit would not, then they would prefer a soft Brexit… but that “if” is doing a lot of work.

Keiran also asked two questions about a second referendums, both finding a majority of people do not want one. The first asked if people would like a second referendum after terms are agreed, the second asked if there should be a second referendum if it becomes clear that Brexit is damaging the economy. In both cases 33% said yes, 52% said no – suggesting that a declining economy wouldn’t necessarily make people want to reconsider the issue.

That second question is key in a lot of current discussion about public attitudes to Brexit. It is clear from current polling that that has not been any significant shift in public opinion since the referendum, most people think the govt is obliged to deliver on the referendum result and that most people do not currently want a second referendum. The hopes of some of those who would like to stay in the European Union are pinned upon the idea that as the negotiation period progresses the impact on the British economy will begin to be felt and at that point the public will change their mind, want to stay after all, and therefore be open to the idea of a second referendum.

Whether there is a chance of this happening is very tricky to measure in a poll. It’s asking people to predict how their opinions might change as a result of future economic developments, when respondents themselves don’t know the answer. We don’t know what’s going to happen to the economy in coming years, and we certainly don’t know what the public will attribute it too. It would be naive to think that an economic downturn will necessarily be blamed on Brexit by those people who supported Brexit. People view new events and information through the prism of their existing views, and many Brexit supporters will blame it on other economic factors, or on the rest of the EU trying to punish us, or pro-Europeans wanting Brexit to fail…. or take it as short-term pain that will be outweighed by later gain (in the same way, many pro-EU people will be liable to blame things on Brexit that have nothing to do with it. This is not a comment about supporters of one side or the other, but on human nature in general).


986 Responses to “Opinium – CON 38, LAB 31, LDEM 6, UKIP 13”

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  1. For those more interested in actual election and polling analysis than legal and constitutional niceties, there’s a useful summary by “middelenglander” of local gov by-election results since May, at the Vote UK Forum (local govt board). ( http://vote-2012.proboards.com/thread/8714/election-result-summary-september-december)

    It’s notable that his analysis shows (among other things), that of the major national parties,

    Con retained 64% of wards contested (gained 13, lost 28)
    Lab retained 67%, (gained 9, lost 20)
    LibDem retained 93%, (gained 25, lost 1*)
    UKIP retained 40%, (gained 3, lost 6)

    This particular post summarises earlier, similar analyses in the same thread for more restricted time periods, in which he names the specific wards concerned.

    Well worth a look.

  2. @R Huckle

    Both polls were newspaper voodoo polls, therefore not a valid representation of the public view.

    The polls were self-selecting and unweighted, as well as allowing repeat votes too (if you know what to do to your browser).

  3. @Saffer

    Thank you for link.

    What is important who seats were lost to and taken from.

    I’ll check it out!

  4. These are the gains/losses posted on :

    The Conservatives contested 97% of all seats, Labour 89%, Liberal Democrats 80%, UKIP 60% and Greens 43%. SNP contested 100% of the Scottish seats with Plaid Cymru 68% of those in Wales.

    Conservatives gained 13 seats: 6 from Labour, 2 each from UKIP and Independents and 1 each from Liberal Democrats, Green and SNP
    – whilst losing 28 seats: 16 to Liberal Democrats, 4 each to Labour and Independents, 3 to Resident Groups (in Farnham and Limpsfield) and 1 to Green

    Labour gained 9 seats: 4 from Conservatives, 2 from SNP, 2 from UKIP and 1 from Independent
    – whilst losing 20 seats: 6 to Conservatives, 5 to Liberal Democrats, 3 to UKIP and 2 to each Plaid Cymru, SNP and Independents.

    Liberal Democrats lost 1 seat to Conservatives and gained 25 seats: 16 from Conservatives, 5 from Labour and 2 each from Independent & UKIP

    Plaid Cymru gained 2 seats from Labour and 1 from an Independent
    SNP gained 2 seats from Labour whilst losing 2 seat to them along with gaining 1 from and Independent whilst also losing 1 to Conservative and 1 to an Independent

    Greens gained a seat from the Conservatives whilst also losing 1

    UKIP gained 3 seats from Labour whilst losing 2 each to Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats

    Independents gained 4 seats from Conservatives, 2 from Labour, 1 each from SNP and Tower Hamlets First
    – whilst losing 2 each to Conservatives and Liberal Democrats along with 1 each to Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru and No Description
    Farnham Residents gained 2 from Conservatives, Oxted & Limpsfield Residents 1 from Conservative together with No Description gaining 1 from an Independent
    – with Tower Hamlets First not defending a seat won by an Independent.

  5. It looks like the Lib Dems doing well in the locals, and especially against Conservatives.

  6. @ R Buckle

    You should look at the latest ICM poll instead, it isn’t a voodoo poll.

  7. @OLDNAT

    “Being reported that “Israel just suspended ‘working ties’ with UK & 11 others who voted to condemn their illegal settlements in Palestine.”
    So, no free trade agreement with Israel then.”

    Israel is like a spoilt child who throws his toys out of the pram every now and then. The Israelis think the world owes them – unfortunately for them they’re wrong.

  8. @TOH

    “Very sensible balanced comments from Lord King, ex GBE can be found at:-
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38421769

    LOL!!! You should be a stand-up comedian.

  9. Saffer, thanks for link.

  10. CATMANJEFF
    SNP gained 2 seats from Labour whilst losing 2 seat to them along with gaining 1 from and Independent whilst also losing 1 to Conservative and 1 to an Independent

    Quite correct, but not really compatible with the plurality elections in E&W.

    As in NI, all Scottish council seats are multi-member STV, whereas by-elections are almost invariably for single vacancies. These are therefore effectively AV by-elections, and establishing how good or bad the result is for any party can only really be established by comparison with the first preferences achieved in the previous [2012] “whole ward” elections.

    That said, the transfers from defeated candidates are also interesting.

  11. @Barbazenzero

    Those comments are taken from the forum Saffer referenced, and are not my own words.

    Of course you can’t compare apples and pears!

    ;-)

  12. @Saffer @Catmanjeff

    Thanks for the info.

    It would be interesting to look at the Libdem gains and see whether there is a correlation between wins and Remain areas or whether this is simply a return to the solid Lib Dem local election ground game they have traditionally played well at.

  13. @Tancred

    Lord King’s wiki bio:

    Mervyn Allister King, Baron King of Lothbury, KG, GBE, DL, FBA (born 30 March 1948) is a former Governor of the Bank of England and Chairman of its Monetary Policy Committee from 2003 to 2013. He had been Deputy Governor from 1998 to 2003, Chief Economist and Executive Director from 1991, and a non-executive director of the Bank from 1990 to 1991.

    King is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of King’s and St John’s Colleges, Cambridge, and holds Honorary Degrees from Cambridge, Birmingham, City of London, Edinburgh, London Guildhall (now London Metropolitan University), London School of Economics, Wolverhampton, Worcester and Helsinki Universities. He is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, sits on the Advisory Council of the London Symphony Orchestra, is a President of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, Honorary President of Ekenäs Cricket Club in Finland, and a Trustee of the National Gallery.

    —-

    King worked at the Bank of England for 23 years, so to dismiss his opinion in the way that you have, makes you look foolish.

    Also you can’t maintain his opinion is worthless and therefore carries no weight on the one hand and then angrily complain he is undermining Carney on the other (it would have to have weight to undermine him).

  14. In conversation with David Axelrod, President Obama says the Labour Party under Jeremy is disintegrating. He feels Labour has no grasp of reality.
    The relaunch of Jeremy in the New Year needs to give Labour a poll boost otherwise the vultures will be back again.

  15. CATMANJEFF
    Of course you can’t compare apples and pears!

    Fair enough. I wasn’t complaining at you or SAFFER but merely pointing out the oddities which are bound to occur when the different types of election used in the UK are listed [on proboard] as though they were uniform.

  16. Barbazenzero

    The bit I found most interesting in Saffer’s link was –

    “England had 156 seats contested with 52 (33%) changing hands, Scotland 13 and 10 (77%) whilst Wales had 19 and 7 (37%).”

    That more than 3/4 seats changed hands in Scottish by elections isn’t surprising – given that frequently the former councillor’s party didn’t have the largest share of the first preference votes in the STV election.

    Theoretically, that could cause instability in the considerable number of councils where the executive is formed by the largest minority party, or a coalition of two or more minority parties. However, I don’t see that taking place in reality.

    My own council changed from a minority SNP to a minority SLab one, but policies and practices are unchanged.

    The only change I see is that, instead of the SNP using the administration for political posturing, SLab get to do that. :-)

    Minority administrations have limited freedom of action anyway, as they require to seek consensus, and the councillors from both these parties seem perfectly competent in agreeing with what their officials advise. :-)

  17. Jasper, the vultures have never rested they just stopped squawking so much recently.

  18. Tancred

    “LOL!!! You should be a stand-up comedian.”

    Only one comedian on here and it’s not me. :-)

  19. SEA CHANGE

    Many thanks for taking the trouble to point the Mervyn King is a man of both interlect and achievement.

  20. re Voteukforum:

    Excellent site, I thoroughly recommend it. Lots of people on here, but the threads on local and parliamentary by-elections are separated from more general discussions which has big advantages!

    There is another thread in which 2015 is compared with 2016:
    http://vote-2012.proboards.com/thread/8943/council-elections-2010-2016

    In 2015 the Tories made 16 net gains, Labour 3 net losses, and the Lib Dems stood still on zero (probably losing quite a lot of local by-elections on General election day, I suspect).
    In 2016 the Tories made 32 net losses, Labour 7 net losses, and the Lib Dems 28 net gains.

    If you want to look up the SNP, Plaid and UKIP, feel free, and if you want any local by-election result going back years, you can find it somewhere on the forum! As said above, the gain and loss results in Scottish seats are misleading under STV/AV, but you can find the % votes if you like, which show the Tories doing very well and the Lib Dems reviving slightly, with Labour generally the losers. There are signs that the unionist parties are increasingly ganging up on the SNP in the preferences, which may make the council elections in May interesting, probably very good for the Tories…

    To answer a question above, a lot of the Lib Dem gains have been in areas of former strength such as the West Country, but some have been coming from nowhere in places like Derbyshire… There does not seem to be any Leave/Remain pattern, and I would simply interpret it as the Lib Dems regaining their activist base and enthusiasm under Farron, and being forgiven for the Coalition by most voters, in places where they have some credibility at local level.. There are still many places where Lib Dem paper candidates are getting tiny vote shares. I think it is a good sign for the Lib Dems where they need Labour and Green tactical votes to defeat the Tories in Westminster seats… But they are still far from where they were in 2010

  21. I see Britain Elects just posted the same figures (almost) for 2016 with a lovely bar chart!

  22. TOH
    Yes, quite the member of the Metropolitan Elite, our Mervyn!

    I assume that means his views can be disregarded?

  23. @seachange

    “I would be very surprised if the SC does not throw out the Scottish Government’s challenge to Art 50. Even if we were to give the Sewel Convention the full weight of a statute, it specifies “would not normally legislate”. ”

    The SG did not challenge Art 50.

    Its case was essentially twofold.

    Firstly that Scots Law also prevents the Royal Prerogative being used to trigger Article 50 (the divisional court in England obviously only having considered English and Welsh law on that matter.)

    Secondly, that the Sewell Convention applies to the triggering Art 50 and that its inclusion in the Scotland Act 2016 gives it a statutory basis. The SG does not assert that the interpretation of “normally” is justiciable.

  24. More seriously, I was a little mystified by Mervyn King’s comments about Ireland…

    If we leave the single market and the customs union, and Lord King suggest, the immediate effect is that we will be outside the EU tariff walls on various products, and Ireland will be on the other side of them. All exports and imports will be subject to the paperwork associated with trading with non-EU countries today (not a big problem for big business, but an extra significant marginal cost for small business). Eventually we may be able to negotiate a tariff-free trade deal with the EU, but experience suggest this may take many years, as with Canada, a smaller economy. Meanwhile it seems self-evident that trade with EU countries including Ireland will be more difficult than now, and the Irish certainly seem to see Brexit as a potential disaster for them…

  25. ANDREW111
    and the Irish certainly seem to see Brexit as a potential disaster for them…

    And that’s where the commitment to the NI people in the Belfast Agreement comes in, unless Westminster repeal it, of course.

  26. BARBAZENZERO

  27. BARBAZENZERO

    Presumably if there is any negative consequence for NI from Brexit, Theresa will just make it good from our “Leave bonus” as she will for scientists, farmers, car manufacturers etc etc etc etc…. After making good the £350 million pledge to the NHS of course…. And cutting VAT on petrol as I recall…

  28. Sorry about the duplicate blank comment! Must have hit the wrong key!

  29. @Andrew111

    And VAT on electricity as well I seem.to recall.

  30. ANDREW111
    After making good the £350 million pledge to the NHS of course…

    You could be right. OTOH, I still think that there is a chance that she wasn’t a closet leaver but simply biding her time. She did go on about the “precious union” in the early days of her PMship, and blaming everything on the Celtic fringes of her bailiwick could be her get out of jail free card.

  31. ANDREW111 & HIRETON

    Pat Leahy of the Irish Times from Xmas Eve: Brexit is looking worse and worse for Ireland includes:

    Like much of what Theresa May says on the rare enough occasions when she speaks on the subject in public, “Brexit means Brexit” is meaningless piffle, as Boris Johnson might say.

    Indeed, Flanagan’s observation that the British had not moved beyond slogans seems directed especially at May’s tabloid-headline explanations.

    May says she wants “no return to the borders of the past”. Again, this is an empty wheeze disguised (not very well) as a statement of firm determination to do something or other. What about the borders of the future? Would that be okay?

  32. Eire could also leave the EU if it is so bad for them.Why put themselves through the pain of such an economic disaster.Without the UK they are going to become more and more isolated as the EU recentres itself on continental Europe.

    The uk forming an advantageous trade agreement with uS and Canada might be the final straw. Of course the elites , the media . experts etc in Ireland will shout against it.

  33. Andrew111

    Well quite. Lets hope May and her colleagues can bring in some excellent trading deals with other countries because boy are we going to need them.
    May cannot hide behind meaningless soundbites in 2017. Lets see what she is msde of.
    Similarly Corbyn needs to stop hiding behind social media and stsrts needing to address the whole country.

  34. @bz

    It seems the Brexiters haven’t noticed that a protectionist is about to become President of the USA.

  35. HIRETON
    It seems the Brexiters haven’t noticed that a protectionist is about to become President of the USA.

    Quite so, unless it’s just a fit of pique at Farage not being appointed as ambassador to the US.

  36. I suspect giving planning permission to replace Richmond Park by a giant golf complex will speed up our trade arrangements with the USA

    Serve those people right for voting Lib Dem as well! Two birds with one stone!

  37. Best of luck to everyone for 2017.

  38. Andrew111

    Though there is a municipal golf course at Richmond Park already.

    Tomorrow, you and a friend could have a frustrating round of erratic drives, fluffed chips and missed putts for just over £20 each.

    Presumably, if the council extended the number of courses to cover the whole park, the cost could drop even further.

    Using all available high ground (if any) to install wind turbines would also help to generate income for the council – and keep foreign blowhards away!

  39. I am aware of King’s achievements and intellect, but I am suspicious of how this ex-remainer has miraculously ‘seen the light’ of Brexit and is now a hard-line Brexiteer. It seems like a Damascene conversion to me – so what has prompted it?

  40. @MIKE PEARCE

    “Well quite. Lets hope May and her colleagues can bring in some excellent trading deals with other countries because boy are we going to need them.
    May cannot hide behind meaningless soundbites in 2017. Lets see what she is msde of.
    Similarly Corbyn needs to stop hiding behind social media and stsrts needing to address the whole country.”

    Indeed. May has been the mistress of obfuscation up to now, but this won’t wash for much longer. I expect her to come clean early in the new year and admit that she is aiming for a ‘clean break’ hard Brexit, as I suspect. Given the choice, this is the option that gives her the least hassle and she will prefer it.

  41. Tancred

    “I expect her to come clean early in the new year ”

    Or, she might not. Once the legalities of who can authorise the tabling of Article 50 is out of the way, and any appropriate mechanisms required by the Supreme Court are adhered to. she could simply table Article 50 in the form of “I hereby give notice, according to our constitutional requirements, that the UK of GB & NI intends to leave the EU.”

    Then, do nothing.

  42. @bz

    Brexiters don’t seem.to deal with facts very well do they?

  43. Hireton

    To be fair, cognitive dissonance is not restricted to Brexiteers.

  44. @Hireton

    You will see that time and again they’ll just recalibrate though. Whatever additional downside of Brexit is uncovered, they will just say it’s a price worth paying. People who will sweat copious amounts over some minor bureaucratic inefficiency, will happily see the demise of summit major like they banking…

  45. @oldnat

    It may semi like dissonance, but ultimately to some it’s rational. For eggers, the kind of peeps tending towards the more narcissistic, with empathy issues, will find it more difficult to read and cope with people more different to them. To ordinary peeps, the adjustment isn’t that major. But to the peeps you see pacing up and down and rubbernecking, you realise your presence constitutes a crisis, one which they’re not necessarily aware of precisely why…

    This can be so visceral it can override other, eg economic, concerns…

  46. Carfrew

    Sorry. I understood little of that comment of yours.

    I normally write in Standard Scots English which (while it might vary a little from your Standard English) should be generally comprehensible.

    It would be useful if you could post in your version of Standard English, instead of whatever the language you post in is called.

    Then we might all understand what the hell you are saying!

  47. Carfrew

    On second thoughts (and a second reading of your post), you do seem to be using a lot of Standard English words – just not in a way that conveys meaning.

    I’m reminded of Eric Morecambe’s “They are the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order”. :-)

  48. HIRETON

    Sad but true. A sense of humour might help, but Brexiteers seem a dour lot. Perhaps they’d appreciate this Children in Need effort from 2008.

  49. “@oldnat

    It may semi like dissonance, but ultimately to some it’s rational. For eggers, the kind of peeps tending towards the more narcissistic, with empathy issues, will find it more difficult to read and cope with people more different to them. To ordinary peeps, the adjustment isn’t that major. But to the peeps you see pacing up and down and rubbernecking, you realise your presence constitutes a crisis, one which they’re not necessarily aware of precisely why…

    This can be so visceral it can override other, eg economic, concerns…”
    @carfrew December 27th, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Can I have what you are drinking? :-)

    I think I get your drift. What I think you are saying is that when the Brexiters hear of difficult topics, such as borders, who we can trade with[1], immigration from outside the EU as part of new trade deals, they la la la la la la, … etc.

    Is that what you mean?

    [1] Australia has sheep and iron ore. What else?

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