Over on the YouGov website I’ve an article about what people recall from the Conservative and Labour manifestos. One of the reasons manifestos don’t usually matter is, put simply, that most people don’t read them. The reason policies don’t really matter is that most people are largely unaware of them. The way to judge a manifesto is not whether people approve of the policies in them, but whether people approve of the policies that they actually noticed.

At the start of the week YouGov asked people an open ended question, asking without any prompting if they could remember any of the promises that Labour or the Conservatives had made in their election manifestos

For Labour there were clear cut throughs by positive policies: 32% of people recalled the promise to axe tuition fees, 21% remembered promises to increase NHS funding, 20% recalled promises to nationalise the railways, Royal Mail or National Grid. All of these are policies which polling has found the public generally support, and which are relatively clear and easy to understand.

For the Conservative party only one policy was recalled by more than one in five people – the changes to care funding (which was often described as dementia tax, or taking old peoples homes, or similarly negative terms). In contrast to the simple and popular policies that people recalled from Labour, the one cut-through policy from the Tory manifesto was both unpopular and complicated. The next most recalled policies were going ahead with Brexit (recalled by 12%) and means-testing the Winter Fuel Allowance (10%).

Of course even when people do recall policies, that’s not really what they vote on – voting behaviour is much more about the broad perceptions of the parties, what they stand for, their leaders and their perceived competence. There are clear signs that the poor Conservative manifesto launch fed through into that.

Before the manifesto launches 35% of people thought the Conservative party’s policies seemed well thought-through, 38% did not. A week later only 19% think their policies are well thought-through, 54% do not. Contrast this with the positive impact of Labour’s manifesto. Before their launch only 25% of people thought they had well-thought through policies, now 31% of people do.

When a key plank of the Conservative party’s offering to the country has been the claim that they are the strong and steady party of competence, the drop in the proportion of people thinking they’ve well thought-through policies for the country should be worrying for them.

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163 Responses to “What people noticed from the manifestos”

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  1. Not surprised that labour is turning to Brexit now. They couldn’t touch it while strong and stable was in play, but now that’s crashed and burned it makes it possible for labour to talk about Brexit.

  2. @Prospero

    Thanks for that information. I never thought they would do it but it seems to me their best chance.


    You have a point, my wife is Liberal and is lovely and kind.

    I think when it goes to far is take an atrocity like the bombing. If your immediate concern is how people might respond to the attack, rather than for the victims or how we stop the people responsible, them for me you are also becoming part of the problem. Hope this makes sense!

  4. Good evening all from a very warm and sunny Winchester.

    What this poll shows is that people remember populist and controversial policies more than any other. Labour got a boost from its nationalising this that and the next but its delivery platform (ol Corby) doesn’t cut the Waitrose mustard with middle England voters.

  5. sorrel

    “ungrammatical might be the new style.”

    Must say that I’ve been a bit surprised by more than one poster** here writing “I could of” instead of “have”. Disgraceful !!!!!

    Until recently I thought it was just a thing that singers and some young people did in music and conversation, but one can see it’s use in written language quite regularly now.

    I bet they can’t even conjugate a bit of simple Latin.

    ** Just two so far but that’s still two too many.

  6. Heard a rumour Labour on 37%.

  7. @rich


  8. Can’t see that happening Rich

  9. Porrohman

    “LibDems could hold the balance of power, lol”

    Please, No!! )-:

  10. RICH

    If true, higher than any LAB VI poll in the 2015 election. And this is with the adjusted methodology which depress the headline LAB vote further. Under 2015 methodology I believe it would be 39% – 3% higher than Ed Miliband ever polled in the 2015 election campaign.

  11. Surely not

    Britain Elects? @britainelects 54s
    54 seconds ago

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 32% (-5)
    LAB: 34% (+5)
    LDEM: 9% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (-2)
    GRN: 4% (-)

    (via @TNS_UK / 18 – 22 May)

  12. Britain Elects? @britainelects 1m1 minute ago

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 42% (-5)
    LAB: 34% (+5)
    LDEM: 9% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (-2)
    GRN: 4% (-)

  13. ok first one out, right in the middle of “dementia tax” in line with most others:

    CON: 42% (-5)
    LAB: 34% (+5)
    LDEM: 9% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (-2)
    GRN: 4% (-)

    (via @TNS_UK / 18 – 22 May)

  14. There was a rumour last weekend of 36% – turned out to be 34%

  15. That’s TMS.

    We’re still waiting for yougov.

    I agree, but at 41 -38 I don’t believe the seat numbers will add up to make that viable.

    I was doing no more than to point out the possibility should it become relevant.

    The lottery which is the plurality system of voting is such that either Con or Lab getting an overall majority on either 41% or 38% is perfectly plausible.

  17. That TNS poll is, if not quite a blimey, certainly a raised eyebrow.

  18. Yes, the original tweet had Tories on 32% ! I shouted to my wife from my study about the news. The tweet was removed; replaced by the new, still interesting poll.

  19. Oh bugger…If this sort of polling continues then I might have to recalibrate my earlier GE forecast.

  20. @drmibbles,

    I don’t think it will be 37% on the day, if you’ll believe that you’ll believe anything, that’s 7% higher than 2015.

    Does seem like polls might be unaffected by events in Manchester. Personally, despite voting Cinservative I would be fine with that as these horrid events shouldn’t be allowed to move polls.

  21. They corrected that quickly!!!

  22. Aha Crossbat. Liking the football analogies and talking of promotion I shall be at Wembley on Monday to cheer on the mighty Reading FC

    Tonight’s YouGov and the one at the weekend will make for fascinating reading.I still expect an early night in a fortnight’s time but I am less certain of this than a month ago.

  23. Definitely momentum towards a hung parliament, with 2 weeks to go yet.

    The Conservatives will start the whole Corbyn/SNP fear bandwagon now – but it might be too late.

  24. Are the figures from this survey consistent with the experience of regular posters here who canvas on the doorsteps?

    Are the voters really going to the ballot box so ill-informed that we can’t remember what the parties want to do for us (or to us)? Plato would spin in his grave.

    Since Paul Croft has pitched up again , I might as well emerge from under my rock! I’m neutral and tactical now so promise not to wind up anyone any more x

    I just he that Harold kKng of Kent and Atlas Shrugged have mellowed somewhat if they decide to re-join!

  25. The polls is an old poll 18-22 May so predates recent events. Also the gap is 12 million re than the one showing 9 at the wknd. Not t really up to date though

  26. I gather the fieldwork for the TNS poll was 18-22 May.

  27. Fieldword I think renders this only semi useful, but few rumours Lab are 37% as I said. Rumour was Guido site.

  28. hope not he! I haven’t

  29. Britain Elects polling based on 18 to 22 May,roughly in line with others at that time. Not a new poll based over the last couple of days

  30. @ Sorrel

    “The Conservatives will start the whole Corbyn/SNP fear bandwagon now – but it might be too late.”

    Well they might, but Cons are hoping to make a few gains (up to 10?) in Scotland, and that attack line could scupper their chances for those.

  31. @mike – I’ll be at Wembley too cheering on the mighty terriers

  32. Apparently the fieldwork on the TNS poll was friday – Tuesday morning so most of it was conducted prior to the Manchester atrocity.

  33. @Rich

    I could see it but feel that it’s unlikely now. I’m beginning to think that we might be heading for an election result similar to those of the ’50s and ’60s in terms of percentage share for the major parties. Thus, I see a huge squeeze on the minor parties that diminishes their share of the vote to the lowest since 1970 or even before.

    I think that the Conservative vote is proving surprisingly resilient and that the result is that the anti-Conservative vote could coalesce around Labour. I still think that the Conservatives are still likely to win but that it might be something like 46% to 40% in the end. There’s even a slight chance that as Labour becomes more of a threat to the Conservatives, people who really dread the idea of a Labour victory but currently support other parties switch to the Conservatives and push their share to around 50%. This election could be a real return to the old two-party system.

  34. Britain Elects? @britainelects10secs

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 39%
    LAB: 37%
    LDEM: 7%
    UKIP: 7%
    GRN: 4%

  35. RICH

    Definitely possible for LAB to get 37% – just looking at the 2015 GE results, 2% from Green, 2% from Lib, and 2.5% from UKIP (which is how it’s breaking) would do the job.

    Aligns with the collapse in Green and UKIP vote, and the poor performance of the Lib Dems.

  36. My own forecast is for Cons, Lab and LD to be 1, 2 and 3 on the day.

    And if they were greyhounds that would win me a lot of money.

    I did say a while back that after a zillion years of austerity which, by definition, hits the less well of most, there could be a lot of people thinking:

    “Soddit, I’ll have some of that, ta very much” when offered some possible relief from it all.

    And hang any consequences the “experts” keep banging on about. After all we’ve already been told by ole Govey that we’ve had quite enough of them. {Experts, not conseuences.]

    [Although, as with my choice of a do-gooder if I need a bit of do-gooding done for me, I would probably go for an expert if I was getting an arthroscopy.]

  37. DrMibbles
    That TNS poll is, if not quite a blimey, certainly a raised eyebrow.

    Especially when Baz made a typo!
    YouGov have had Labour much closer so if there is a similar swing, could they end up ahead…

  38. Cheeky Allan.

    You are having us on!

  39. “4 weeks ago, no-one would have predicted this.”
    @drmibbles May 25th, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    As every day moves forward and I read the comments on here I keep thinking to myself, perhaps Gordon Brown was right not to have that election.

  40. Now that is an OMFG poll

  41. Allan that is cruel

  42. I think the way this election has gone guarantees that Mrs May won’t be fighting the next one for the Conservatives, whenever it is.

    If Labour had the same policies but a charismatic leader without all the baggage that Corbyn has I think they’d have this election sewn up.

  43. Harsh and poor form that Allan

  44. @sorrell,

    Yep, a super slick Blair in his heyday would defeat May. Having said that, Thatcher would have Corbyn for breakfast. So it’s swings and roundabouts with the comparisons.

  45. Sorry peeps I couldn’t resist. Promise I won’t do that again.

  46. Unfortunately with the fieldwork over the whole weekend we don’t get to see the U- turn effect, and after the events in Manchester that effect will probably have dissipated now

  47. The danger for the Tories in polls closing is, obviously, momentum – but, in particular, the “permission” it will give undecided voters to seriously consider Labour rather than follow the herd.

    Also, as others mention it could herald a return to two parties, pick which one you prefer choice for most voters.

    Weird – and possibly getting weirder.


    Which company is that poll from?

  49. Surely that’s a moderation offence?

  50. Never mind… thought it was too ridiculous.

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