The Times’s first YouGov poll since the election was called has topline figures of CON 48%(+4), LAB 24%(+1), LDEM 12%(nc), UKIP 7%(-3). The Conservative lead of twenty-four points is the highest they’ve recorded from YouGov since way back in 2008. In terms of a starting position for an election campaign this is a huge gap – to put it in context, when the 1997 election was called, polls in the first week put Labour between 21 and 29 points ahead of the Tories. The Tory lead now isn’t as large as Blair’s huge Labour lead then… but you can see we’re in the same sort of territory.

More interesting to me is that UKIP score – the lowest YouGov have shown since 2013. This echoes the ICM flash poll yesterday, which also also had UKIP dropping sharply to a record low. While I’d still like to see it repeated in other polls before assuming too much, it looks distinctly as if an actual election being called has led to some people who were saying they would have voted UKIP switching to the Tories. Perhaps it’s the sudden difference between a theoretical election that could be three years away, and thinking about what they might do in an election just seven weeks away.


564 Responses to “YouGov/Times – CON 48, LAB 24, LD 12, UKIP 7”

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  1. When the Chief Political Correspondent of the Telegraph tweets this –

    Theresa May is reportedly on her way to East Anglia. Political journalists like us are not invited. This will be shape of the campaign./i>

    – it might be worth questioning the wisdom of May’s political advisers.

  2. @Oldnat

    Obviously UNS is a very blunt tool to predict or project properties seat totals from GB polling percentages.
    However, outside Scotland it still works fairly well.

    You remarked earlier that Northern Ireland is treated with a degree of distain by organisations polling UK elections. I suspect this may simply be a case of cold hard economics – after all polling is expensive; there isn’t much of a market for proper NI focused polls; and simply extrapolating NI numbers from UK wide subsamples would be of little real value.

  3. Richard,
    “Buyers remorse.”
    I think you make a good point, that while a lib who votes in parliament as con might have seemed just as bad as a con, voters may now feel he is not.

    But this may also apply to the referendum result. This will be the last chance for voters to try to influence the outcome of Brexit if it has not gone quite as they expected when they placed their vote.

  4. Thanks all, keep them coming.

    What I will probably do, depending on how many we get, is keep some kind of periodic running or weekly/fortnightly average. The idea being that as events on the campaign unfold, your predictions probably will as well.

    It’s nice to have a snapshot of predictions at this early stage though.

    Latest additions:

    **********

    (8) CHRISLANE1945 (20/4)

    Con 44%
    Lab 23%
    LD 13%
    UKIP 9%
    SNP 5%
    Grn 3%
    Oth 3%

    (9) TANCRED (20/4)

    Con 40%
    Lab 25%
    LD 18%
    UKIP 7%
    SNP 4%
    Grn 3%
    Oth 3%

    (10) RAF (20/4)

    Con 39% (337)
    Lab 30% (220)
    LD 15% (14)
    UKIP 6% (0)
    SNP 4% (56)
    Grn 3% (1)
    Oth 3% (21)

    (11) POPEYE (20/4)

    Con 41% (355)
    Lab 28% (205)
    LD 13% (14)
    UKIP 7% (0)
    Oth 11% (76)

    (12) RICHARD (21/04)

    Con (319)
    Lab (202)
    LD (50)
    SNP (56)
    Grn (1)
    Oth (23)

    (13) KEN (21/4)

    Con 47%
    Lab 24%
    LD 13%
    UKIP 5%
    SNP 4%
    Grn 4%
    Oth 3%

    **********

    AVERAGES (to this point)

    Con 41.5% (363)
    Lab 26.1% (196)
    LD 13.9% (21)

    **********

  5. RAF

    So we are agreed –

    UK UNS is a nonsense (though some pollsters do it)

    GB UNS is a nonsense (though most pollsters remain locked in the 20th century, and still publish figures for it)

    There may well be an English UNS – but that is somewhat unproven, as outwith London, virtually no one does regional English polls.

    As to Northern Ireland – internet polling isn’t that expensive and Lucid Talk poll regularly there – and very accurately!

    As ever, the results of the UK election will be decided by voters in the English polity – so including those in “the fringes” is somewhat pointless, unless England is in a close contest (which seems unlikely in June!)

    My point remains very simple.. The polling in Scotland and Northern Ireland is valuable in its own terms. Trying to conflate either or both with E&W is just stupid.

    Those entering the “Election Seats Game” should be required to adopt a single strategy of predicting the English/Welsh seat distribution.

    Additionally, they may care to recognise (as you did) that there are 18 MPs from NI as well as 59 from Scotland.

    Wales does have different options, so it would seem reasonable for SSimon to insist on people producing

    1. predictions for English seat distribution and
    2. as an option, seat distributions for all or any of Wales, Scotland & NI.

    However, those whose arithmetic is so poor that they can’t count the seats in each of the polities should be immediately eliminated [1]

    [1] “Elimination” should be interpreted as in STV elections, and not as a Mafia process!

  6. SSSimon,
    I’m not a pollster, but I think anything other than a constituency by constituency analysis is going to have a pretty big error margin, more so than usual. The historic trend is a shrinking of the tribal party support and much more tactical voting to try to defeat FPP. It is the nature of FPP that it works against this until a threshold is reached, and then the results become highly unpredictable.

    Are we there yet: who knows. Will the country be littered with Twickenhams: who knows. This might become clearer from data collected as we go along.

    The obvious expectation is an improvement in the conservative majority, some recovery for libs and shrinkage for labour, but the potential is there for a step change by polling day. It is within possibility to see everything from the destruction of the labour party, to a labour government. For the conservatives there is not such an existential crisis at this election, but one might come along by the next. Interesting times.

  7. corbyn ruling out a second brexit referendum means he wants to keep the leave votes

  8. @ OLDNAT

    I’ll take whatever people want to give me and try to make some sense of it. People are prone to doing whatever they fancy ;)

    @ DANNY

    It’s just a little light-hearted game we’ve played at prior elections. None of us pretend to have a crystal ball, no claims of accuracy are made, and enter at your own risk :)

  9. So, I’m trying to eyeball Scotland a bit more closely because of the electoral dynamics there: Labour has lost close to half of its support (24% dropping to 14%), ditto the LibDems (8% dropping to 4% in most polls, though there’s a large MoE on crosstabs on this). One thing I’d like to see a little bit of testing done on is whether or not those voters all flipped to the Tories or if there was a more complicated “traffic pattern” a la UKIP.

    My guess is that what we’re going to see is something like this:
    -Labour retains a rump vote in the cities. There were a lot of constituencies where they won 30-40% of the vote; I suspect they keep a majority of this vote.
    -There are probably some deckchairs that get rearranged. I think we’ll get some better insight in early May with the local elections, but at the moment I’m thinking that you’ll see some Labour votes go to the SNP while some “not Labour” votes move to the Tories.
    -I think the Tories will probably walk away with 7-10 seats as a result (there are a decent cluster of seats in the eastern highlands where the Tories ran a strong second or close third, for example).

    ===== ===== ===== ===== =====

    Since projections are a thing, here’s what I’m seeing at the outset:
    Con: 45%/393 seats
    Lab: 24%/174 seats
    Lib: 11%/12 seats
    UKIP: 10%/0 seats
    SNP: **%/48 seats
    Oth: 23 seats (NB I’m including 18 NI, 4 PC, and 1 Speaker; I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Caroline Lucas gets upended in Brighton Pavillion)

    Notably, I’m projecting a Scotland breakdown of 48 SNP, 8 Tory. I think Labour gets wiped out there (I have trouble seeing their last MP holding on with them losing about 40% of their vote) and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the last LibDem up in Orkney and Shetland falls. I know this is, in fact, a bold statement but the state of the LibDems up north is such that I think he falls as collateral damage. I could be wrong here.

    FWIW I also expect that Labour is going to run third in the South…but I’m also, for the moment, giving Labour a slight benefit of the doubt vis-a-vis in holding onto seats in some seats since I do think there are places where a tactical voting campaign may pay off.

  10. Great,
    If the Lib Dems has not won Orkney AND Shetland in the Holyrood election from a very similar poll position I might agree with you on Carmichael.. Voters seem to have forgiven him for his misdemeanours (perhaps because they were not really so bad unless you are a political partisan..)
    Meanwhile though the Lib Dems through ruthless targeting also won Edinburgh W and NE Fife and I would have thought they have a good chance there as well. Dunbartonshire E I am not so sure of since it looks like the Lib Dems has abandoned it (probably because it was going to be boundary changed out of existence and Swinson had moved down south)

  11. Okay time to be bold and make a prediction, please add it to the list – cheers

    Con 36%
    Lab 28%
    Lib Dem 19%
    UKIP 6%
    Others 11%

  12. OK, my bit of nonsense

    Con 39%
    Lab 29%
    Lib Dem 16%
    UKIP 6%
    Others 10%

  13. @sssimon

    Here goes:

    Conservatives – 41%
    Labour – 22%
    Lib Dems – 17%
    UKIP – 5%
    SNP – 4%
    Greens – 4%
    Others – 7%

    My thinking is that the Tories will slide a little at the finish as people withdraw slightly from the thought of a slaughter. With the result known, people can indulge themselves by supporting fringe candidates.

    Labour are already looking incredibly shaky, and I expect internal conflict to break out.

    Lib Dems will gain during the campaign as people vote to restrain the Tories, and tactical voting becomes highly developed. They will also benefit from Labour’s collapse, and from ardent Remainers.

    UKIP are in disarray and are irrelevant. Certain to decline dramatically in my view.

    SNP – I suspect that some people are beginning to think NS is too shrill, and this could be reflected in a slightly less successful campaign. Still dominant, however.

    Greens – they might surprise and overtake UKIP. Some Labour voters might go their way. Their joint leadership is far better this time than last.

    Others – I anticipate some independents doing well, and ‘celebrity’ candidates emerging. I think there will also be a ‘run-on’ from the locals with successful individuals standing for GE. So a much increased share of the vote, but probably no seats.

  14. Con 44 (397)
    Lab 22 (146)
    SNP 4 (47)
    LD 17 (35)
    Green 4 (1)
    UKIP 6 (-)
    Other (24)

  15. Atm instinct says:

    Con 45.3%
    Lab 23.6%
    LibDem 14.6%
    UKIP 7.8%
    SNP 0.1-larger-than-2015-as-a-UK-wide-%
    Green 2.4%

    Turnout 61%

    In terms of performance ceilings: Lab 28%, Lib 19%, UKIP 11%, Tories 55% (with a 5X% turnout caveat)

  16. If anything a short campaign has helped Labour a lot – firstly as ‘the pressured incumbent’, preventing challenger candidates from being properly introduced & campaigns geared up, and also it almost wholly side-steps the (de)selection civil wars of a long campaign.
    The scrutiny and division over their manifesto similarly.

    The LibDems are the big losers from having been denied further gearing-up and small-M momentum.

  17. My prediction really depends on how much tactical voting there will be to save Labour held seats and to target Conservative seats. But right now with the current standing in the polls

    Conservative (38.25%) – 379 (313)
    Labour (25.75%) – 162 (200)
    LibDem (15.50%) – 28 (56)
    SNP (4.75%) – 58 (58)
    PC (0.75%) – 4 (4)
    Green (4.50%) – 1 (1)
    UKIP (8.00%) – 0 (0)

    The integer numbers in brackets are best guess at result with strong element of tactical voting.

  18. I can certainly see a case for UKIP declining and the LibDems rising (Corbyn has taken a variant of a pro-Brexit position as far as I can tell, which leaves them and arguably the Greens as your anti-Brexit parties); I’d probably be friendlier towards the LibDems if not for having been burned by them getting over-touted in 2005 and (especially) 2010. I can also see a case for a total Labour breakdown, especially if Corbyn is seen as not so much U-turning as going in circles while everyone in the car is bickering over the map. That said, there are enough MPs who are set to lose their jobs if this gets much worse that I think you’ll have a lot of them cringing, keeping their heads down, and probably doing their best to stay out of the media limelight. All else being equal, from where we stand now it’s going to be ugly for Labour…even the anti-Corbyn folks don’t need to do much to make it worse for the party in hopes of dislodging him: If Labour goes under 200 seats and they can’t ditch him then, I suspect the anti-Corbyn wing is better off holding their seats and planning to quit the party on June 9 than they are fighting over the wheel through June 8.

    As to UKIP, the one thing that I think will save their vote share is, ironically, their irrelevance in many seats: Enough of the seats they did well in were Tory holds last time that I can see them holding onto some protest votes. If the Tory MP won by 15-20 last time, after all, it’s not like Labour is about to pick them off (which cuts both ways, btw).

  19. @AdvisablyAnon: What would you give as performance floors?

  20. SSSimon

    I previously posted this.

    “Very difficult to predict this election – or rather four elections.

    I am more cautious about a landslide than many, taking into account the unreformed electoral boundaries, the lack of Cons-Lab in Northern Ireland and likely modest seats in Scotland. Factoring in what seems like a collapse of UKIP (temporary or long-term I don’t know), which will benefit Labour in the north of England, I am going to guess

    Cons 39 346 Majority 42 less if anything
    Lab 28 251
    LD 12 24”

    I stand by my percentages, and the guess of a small but workable majority for the Conservatives.

    But apologies, I put these percentages into the ‘Basic GB Swingometer’ to translate into seats. My mistake, as this does not allow for the SNP dominance in Scotland, and my estimate of Labour and Conservative seats must both be very roughly 25 seats too high.

    So please can you simply delete the seat projections, just leave the percentages and overall prediction of a Conservative majority of around 40.

    In the meantime I look forward to seeing the meticulously constructed prediction from Catmanjeff, which I think will be informative.

  21. My view is that I see this as very much the ‘tactical voting’ election par excellence. We will see more tactical voting than ever before. This will collapse the UKIP vote as many of their suppporters flock to the Tories, and will also hit Labour in many seats as much of their pro-remain support leaks to the LibDems.
    The Tories will pick up a huge amount of support – probably getting 45% of the popular vote – but their seat allocation will not reflect this. It will not be a repeat of the 1983 landslide, let alone 1931. Tactical voting will hurt the Conservative vote in many seats with strong pro-remain support though this will be more than offset by gains from Labour.
    The result will probably be a Conservative majority of 70-80 rather than 100+.

  22. UK retail sales fall by 1.8% in March far more than predicted by economists.

  23. this shows how politics is mainly based on likeability of the leaders. if you just look at the message you can’t see why labour shouldn’t keep a core vote of around 30% (like Miliband’s result), if statistics are true that the average salary is 23k which is enough to live only if you stay in parents’ home or you”re in the middle of a mortgage stipulated many yeears ago at better rates.
    So lab will go to 25 and cons near 50 because of the current leaders of the two parties.

  24. Hireton: “UK retail sales fall by 1.8% in March far more than predicted by economists.”

    I guess the potential polling relevance of this is “it’s the economy, stupid.”

    There’s still 7 weeks to go. I wonder if that’s long enough for a worsening economic outlook to affect things (particularly if contrasted with an apparently booming eurozone economy – today’s eurozone PMIs were very strong and point to 3% GDP growth).

    On a different note, I was struck by an item in El Pais today celebrating the 25th anniversary of Spain’s AVE (high speed train) network. Since the Madrid-Seville line opened in 1992, the network has grown to 3,240 kilometres (2,102 miles) at a total cost of €51.775bn (£43.7bn).

    In other words, Spain has managed to build over 2,000 miles for less than the projected cost of HS2. In that time we’ve managed the 68 miles of HS1. What are we playing at?

  25. Is this going to be the Pointless Election?

    I’m sure May will win comfortably or handsomely, but so what? She already has a working majority and no opposition worth speaking of. Her assertions of a united country but divided Westminster, were unbelievable nonsense and I think will be recognised as such if she goes on about it. All the same, it seems a perfectly reasonable political decision – from a Conservative point of view more time and a bigger majority make perfect sense.

    Still there are a few uncertainties:

    1. Tactical voting: Lots of people hate the Tories more than they support a particular party. In my own friendship group I find it hard to tell who supports Labour, Lib Dems or Green; they’re all fairly similar in general outlook and all horrified by the direction Theresa May is taking the country. I’m sure there will be much more tactical voting than in 2015. Gina Miller may help a bit too. Whether it will make much difference in seats is another matter. Half a dozen at most is my guess (and all Lib Dem)

    2. Lib Dems: They’ve been doing much better in actual elections than opinion polls, their organisation round here (South West) seems united and focussed, and my memory is that , before Cleggmania, their polling used to go up at election times to a healthy 16% or so, which probably represents their natural support including some tactical votes. In places where they are the main opposition to the Tories, I think they’ll do quite well (gain a dozen seats). They might do very well and gain 25 seats, but because I rather hope so, I’m suspicious of my own analysis.

    3. Turnout:. I think it will be LOW. Others have taken a different view, but I’m with the lady form Bristol, and wondering whether some of those who voted for Brexit didn’t realise they were voting for continual elections, inflammatory Daily Mail headlines, and general political intensity; and may prefer to simply pretend this unnecessary election isn’t happening. Low turnout usually helps the Tories, but possibly not in this case.

    4. Labour:. This certainly seems to be the moment Jeremy has been waiting for, and I think he’s good at the actual campaigning bit. The Spectre of Theresa Triumphant, a potentially privatised NHS and a no-deal Brexit should focus and unite the party, though they do seem chronically disorganised and demoralised. But their key battles will be in the North West and the Midlands, and I don’t have any idea what the mood is there.

    5. Brexit: I still don’t know whether Theresa May intends to do a pragmatic deal with the EU, or wants to take us out altogether with no real deal to speak of. Because labour seem to have decided to just watch and wait, her plans have not so far been well scrutinised. Will she be able to get away with the same platitudes and ambiguities through an election campaign?

    6. All in all I suspect there will be large regional variations, at least in terms of seats changing hands. Without any confidence in my predictions I’ll go for the following:

    Con 40
    Lab 28
    Lib Dem 15
    UKIP 7
    Others 10

  26. @Somerjohn – probably because the geography and terrain is totally different in Spain – vast openess – while we have to be much more sensitive about our countryside and villages etc – an almost impossible task in some areas – that’s why!!

  27. SSSimon

    GB predictions:

    C 42
    L 27
    LD 13
    U 9.5
    G 3
    SNP 4.5 (or whatever = 45% in Scotland)
    Others 1

  28. Gray

    You only calculated 56 seats for Scotland, not 59. Who will get the other 3?

  29. GB predictions:

    Cons 38
    Labour 28
    Lib Dems 16
    UKIP 7
    OTHERS 11

    Very small Tory majority of 10ish.
    Lib Dems to take back a lot of seats around London and Bristol.

  30. Sine Nomine: “the geography and terrain is totally different in Spain – vast openess”

    Yes, but also huge mountains and valleys. That first Madrid-Seville line needed 32 viaducts (longest 930m) and 17 tunnels (longest 2.54km).

    You see these lines striding across and through mountainous terrain in marvellously assertive fashion; the roads do the same. A couple of weeks ago I drove from Valencia to Huesca on the comparativey new – and free all the way – A23 motorway. Anyone who doubts the utility of consistent, sustained investment in transport infrastructure should do that drive, which in places provides great views of the AVE line.

  31. My current calculation based on existing polls and trying to take account of regional differences and only therefore predicting seats not vote share (UNS is useless IMO for what its worth) is as follows: (I previously put this on the other thread but wanted to join in with SSSimon’s sweepstate90

    363 seats for the Conservatives: Labour falling to 199 seats: Lib Dems 12 seats: SNP 54 seats: PC 4 Seats UKIP nil 18 others;

    This is based on my analysis of the most recent current polling averages I can find: on any analysis a mountain for Labour to climb< limited hope for LD's revival: UKIP not important and a conservative majority of over seventy with a divided opposition:

  32. Somerjohn

    I think GO’s misjudged prediction of immediate economic catastrophe in the event of a Leave vote means people will tend to be more sceptical about economic data.

    The slowdown will only matter insofar as voters are feeling the pinch personally, and then only if they attribute it to Brexit and specifically to how the Tory govt has chosen to respond.

    Comparisons with the Eurozone will get little coverage and be widely disregarded in E+W (NI and Scotland may be more interested).

  33. Incidentally, here’s a link to the original article about Spain’s AVE. It’s in Spanish, but the graphics showing the expansion of the network, growth in traffic etc are self-explanatory and very interesting:

    http://economia.elpais.com/economia/2017/04/20/actualidad/1492675474_811055.html

  34. @BT: My bad; blame the hour in the US when I wrote that. I mixed up the SNP’s 56 seats with there only being 56 seats in Scotland.

    Apply them to the SNP. I’m pulling one from the Tories and two from Labour to compensate. Revised projections:

    Con: 45%/392 seats
    Lab: 24%/172 seats
    Lib: 11%/12 seats
    UKIP: 10%/0 seats
    SNP: **%/51 seats
    Oth: 23 seats

  35. @GRAY

    I completely disagree with you on Scotland. I see no way that the Tories are going to win more than 1 or 2 more seats there, perhaps 3 at the most.

  36. May I ask has anyone else found themselves becoming more and more impressed with Barry Gardiner? Is he a potential interim Labour leader after this election? Of the left but with a sort of John Smith bank managerial persona.
    I saw him last night on C4 news and have seen clips of him taking on Adam Boulton yesterday: Dark Horse?

  37. Gray,

    “I mixed up the SNP’s 56 seats with there only being 56 seats in Scotland.”

    Don’t worry: you’re not the first to conflate the SNP with Scotland!

  38. @WB

    “363 seats for the Conservatives: Labour falling to 199 seats: Lib Dems 12 seats: SNP 54 seats: PC 4 Seats UKIP nil 18 others;”

    The LibDem estimate is ridiculous. There is already a lot of evidence for tactical voting in their favour at local elections and that will be magnified during a GE. Polls do not reflect this as they do not take account of tactical voting. There might be only 12% who are out-and-out LibDem supporters but many more who will vote for them from disgruntled supporters of the Conservatives and Labour.

  39. An interesting article by Janan Ganesh the FT political columnist about whether May will emerge as a centrist manager over brexit or a hard right Brexiter and the likely lack of constraints on her power. it concludes with this paragraph re Scotland:

    “If there is a limit to Mrs May’s power after June, it will be Scotland. Those who ran the successful campaign to preserve the UK in 2014 give some credit to Labour’s poll lead ahead of the general election that was due the next year. Scots who disliked the Tories could vote for the union in the hope they would only be governed by them for a few more months. Those voters can now expect large Conservative majorities in Westminster as far as the eye can see, starting in June. Mrs May must govern magnanimously to avoid provoking them to nationalism. It is not much of a constraint but it will have to do. The others expire in seven weeks.”
    It raises the issue of the Tory approach in the Indy ref )and to some extent 2015 UK GE) and the 2016 UK GE and whether they are repeatable.
    Before 2016 Davidson took the line that it was safe to vote Remain and Tory as Labour were likely to be in power in Westminster. In 2016 she campaigned on a platform which had as little reference to the Tory party as possible.
    In 2017 she has neither option open to her. She can bang the drum on independence and a second referendum but will that shift many votes ( and perhaps it might shift some S Lab votes to SNP as much as to the Tories)? The next batch of Scottish Westminster VI polls will be interesting.

  40. Conservatives gain Kenton Harrow from Labour with 52% – Lib Dems on 2.1%.

  41. is that a council by election?

  42. As to the AVE bit…

    I think the issue in the UK is more complicated. In the 1970s and 1980s Spain’s system was a relative basket case compared to the UK (lower top speeds and a lot of deferred maintenance), so the underlying case for the AVE was more solid vis-a-vis conventional services. I suspect there were also more cases of “cowpath railroads” that went around mountains in Spain.

    In the UK, by contrast, you really did have a system built to the best standards of the Victorian age…which in turn means that you can get quite a bit done with the conventional system.

    Allow me an example: At present I can book an AVE train or a once-a-day conventional train. The AVE trains will take between 2:30 and 3:10 depending on stopping patterns. The conventional train takes 9:40 (averaging about 40 MPH). Now, to be fair that conventional train makes nearly 40 stops (the stopping pattern is worthy of an old passenger-and-mail train in the US…really, the last time I saw that sort of stop-heavy pattern on a timetable it was when I was looking at the once-a-day “Daylight Express” that FEC ran from Jacksonville to Miami stopping all over the place to deliver mail back in the 1950s) and if you knocked a bunch of those out you’d probably knock an hour or two out of the schedule…but that’s still maybe 8:00 versus 2:30-3:10 for a roughly 400-mile trip.

    In the UK, on the other hand, let’s take London and Edinburgh. That’s also about 400 miles (I think it’s about 15-30 miles more than Madrid-Barcelona depending on routing). There the “conventional” train gets you from end-to-end in about 4:20-4:30. While that’s not quite 2:30, it’s also a far cry from 8-10 hours, and the average speed is somewhere a bit shy of 100 MPH. Ironically the UK’s network is almost “too good” to make domestic HSR a policy need. The fact that GB is also smaller than Spain (it’s kind of hard to find major city pairs in GB that are much more than 400 miles; even if I stretch to Plymouth-Edinburgh/Glasgow I’m only getting into the 480 range; I can pull some decent-sized city pairs in Spain that crack 600 miles) doesn’t hurt.

    Moreover, from a policy perspective, a bullet train runs the risk of “crashing out” chunks of the network in the UK, something that I think is underestimated as a risk. It isn’t hard to envision a situation where HS2 is built and suddenly a bunch of franchises are bleeding money and riders to it…and it is quite hard to envision the UK government building a large enough network to replicate the coverage of much of the conventional system with bullet trains.

  43. Meanwhile, the EU’s position is hardening:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/21/leaked-documents-eu-tough-line-brexit-negotiations

    If May thinks that a landslide Tory win will soften the EU’s position she is clearly deluded – as are her supporters.

  44. BobinNorfolk

    It seems that the vast majority of UKIP vote and probably some of the Independent Labour Group went to Conservatives.

    In the other council byelection (West Cheshire and Chester) Labour held (no Green candidate this time).

    In both cases Labour and Conservative vote shares went up, but the Conservatives’ share by more.

  45. @BOBINNORFOLK

    36% turnout for that by-election. Pretty meaningless.

  46. Gray

    If you have a HS line duplicating an older conventional route, it makes sense to use the older route for stopping services, which are not particularly time-sensitive, for commuting, and freight. While you could run a faster limited-stop service on the old lines, as in the UK, that makes no sense when you have the HS line. So I don’t think the comparison between long-distance journey times on UK conventional and Spanish conventional lines is particularly instructive.

  47. @Albert: Yep, council by-election. 37% turnout, four candidates. Though an inexact figure since it’s a three-seat ward, at the last election the three Labour candidates got about 46% and the three Conservative candidates got about 36%. 11% went to the “Independent Labour Group” and 4% to a stand-alone UKIP candidate (who it looks like picked up some second/third votes from Tories but otherwise had no major impact). The LibDems did not contest in 2014 and their one candidate got 7% in 2010.

    So the LibDems did poorly in a seat they don’t have a history of fighting and Labour dropped a seat in a council by-election on extremely low turnout. You can claim some evidence of the Tories doing better nationally than in 2014, but I’d argue that any signs of that are also easily explained off on the nature of low-level by-elections as being dubiously representative of popular opinion.

  48. A wonderfully inspiring intervention this morning by our former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
    Dr Williams was talking about the Overseas Aid Budget and urged the Conservative Party not to reverse the law which demands 0.7% of GDP to be spent on it.
    As Dr Williams said, “Our Good is bound up with others less fortunate than ourselves”.
    I believe it would be wonderful if all the main parties in this General Election pledged to maintain this commitment which helps us to stand tall on the world stage.

  49. Somerjohn:
    That’s why I made the point about what you could do with axing a lot of stops in Spain: Even assuming you could knock five minutes off the timetable per cut stop [1] a limited-stop service on the local line with four intermediate stops still takes 6:45 from end to end.

    [1] Something that I find to be overly-generous in this case, especially since there are a few “stop clusters” in those timetables…again, looking at London-Edinburgh a 3-stop service takes about 20-minutes less than a 9-stop service. Something more like an average of 3.5 minutes makes more sense to me, and that adds about another hour back into the timetable.

  50. @tancred

    It is if the EU has thought, “heavens, they might agree to our last demands!! Let’s add more.”

    Either they are testing us or they don’t care if there is a deal. Or both.

    International agreements do not involve one side’s courts having jurisdiction over the other.

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