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. A combined VI of 46% for Cons + UKIP is the lowest for a long time.

    Suggests that either Cons are leaking VI on the centre ground or red UKIP are going back to Lab

  2. @Sam S

    The poll inside Allan’s y#twisted mind ;-)

  3. On the basis of the TNS 8% Tory lead Labour would lose six seats – but, in fact, could well hold all those seats due to the first term incumbency factor.

  4. Allan C

    Tancred couldn’t help himself either. Do you want to be like that? Do you? You’ve spent too much time on footie boards!!…

  5. Wouldn’t the tories preferred scenario be to have say a majority of 30 – 40 with Corybn still in place and then a better campaigner than May in charge for the next go……

  6. “Surely that’s a moderation offence?”

    Well it’s certainly childish and if more people did it the site would become ridiculous.

    The problem is that moderation after the event doesn’t really help a lot does it?

  7. Any movement of economic competence scores? Looking at the downgrading of growth for q1 , the increase in inflation and the uncertainty relating to Brexit – could economic factors be a key driver in Labour’s recent surge? Mcdonnell has arguably been Labour’s best performer on TV, perhaps this area, like the leadership/competence will not be as much of a negative for Labour as at first assumed.

    I know everyone is focusing on the manifesto’s and leadership atm but I have been surprised at the low level of attention the economy has been getting in the campaign. The Tories don’t seem to be focusing specifically on it .

  8. Smithy. Enjoy the game but not too much.

  9. porrohman

    “Wouldn’t the tories preferred scenario be to have say a majority of 30 – 40 with Corybn still in place and then a better campaigner than May in charge for the next go……”


  10. It’s just one poll, but it’s the narrowest Con lead so far (albeit only just). Interesting.

  11. Tables for the TNS poll


    They give a useful measure of opinion after the Tory manifesto, but before the Manchester attack.

  12. According to Electoral Calculus these numbers predict a conservative majority of 56. Collapse of UKIP obviously helping CON.

  13. Interesting that the so called progressive parties higher in this poll. Green have high VI at 4% same as UKIP. It might be from the leaders debate on ITV last week

  14. CON: 43% (-1)
    LAB: 38% (+3)
    LDEM: 10% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (+1)

  15. RP

    And if the Yougov poll is also in the 8% – 9% region then it might confirm that the lower end of the range of 9% – 13% is the likelier real position (pre atrocity) That really will be worrying for the Tories.

  16. Yep – hung parliament here we come.

    The question is whether those voters who have gone back to Labour are prepared to see it through as far as Corbyn as PM.

  17. Britain Elects @britainelects

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 43% (-1)
    LAB: 38% (+3)
    LDEM: 10% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (+1)

  18. From TNS tables

    “Since our previous poll, we have made a change to our headline voting intention. If an individual is planning to vote Green or UKIP but lives in a constituency where a candidate from the party of their choice is not standing, their voting intention has been reallocated to their second preference (as given at “Otherparties”). Without this change the headline voting intentions would have been Conservative (42%), Labour (34%), Lib Dems (9%) and UKIP (5%).”

    Net effect not a lot.

  19. OMG. What’s happened to the lead?! What are the dates?

  20. 24-25th May too

  21. F me.

  22. Well I hate to say I told you so (well okay I actually quite like it) – but the theory that terrorist atrocities improves VI for the right is one again shown to be not quite accurate.

    This election is suddenly wide open. Incredible.

  23. Britain Elects? @britainelects · 2m2 minutes ago

    ? More

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 43% (-1)
    LAB: 38% (+3)
    LDEM: 10% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (+1)

    (via @YouGov / 24 – 25 May)

    This one is real – not an Allan Christie special

  24. daniel

    Completely unclear what your figures refer to. [?]

  25. anybody planning to protect their assets yet??!

  26. Question is, will those Lab voters who dont like Corbyn, but were voting Labour because there was no chance for Corbyn to become PM, will they still vote Lab if there is a probability of Corbyn getting in?

  27. Just saw the TNS figures (thanks for the link OLDNAT) – not sure if my eyesite is correct but the Tory lead on the economy is down to 4%.

  28. As I have been saying, all to play for.

  29. Britain Elects? @britainelects 3m3 minutes ago

    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 43% (-1)
    LAB: 38% (+3)
    LDEM: 10% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (+1)

    Squeaky bum time for TM

  30. So this represents a small swing from the Tories to Labour now, if I’m not mistaken?!!

  31. Chipping away…

    Remains to be seen though whether Con will recoup in the day or so after the bomb.

  32. Allan Christie

    Unlucky – you were close

  33. DANIEL

    Okay, clear now from other posts. But after previous silliness there is a tendency for uncertainty.

  34. I think if Corbyn wins the election – which I think is not far off being a likely outcome – then maybe parties will not put such a premium on unity in future.

    This is not just in terms of Labour being obviously disunited, albeit in a state of truce right now. But the Conservatives forgot that the party is there not just to serve the leader, but to tell the leader when something is a poor idea. As in any monarchy, centralised leadership means a central cabal.

    At present, there hasn’t been such a turnaround in public popularity since the original Palm Sunday.

  35. Omg my betting site has crashed

  36. One thing is for sure – no prime minister will go for a snap election in this way again.

  37. Think May would have called the election seeing the direction of traffic during the campaign?

  38. We are actually close to having some self confessed marxists at no 10 & 11?!

    This isn’t moderation stuff, they have said it themselves!!!

  39. Looks like lots of people watched the May meltdown on Monday night 10pm news before Manchester broke

    The Times have also noticed


    “Mrs May has been rumbled as not very good”

    Do we have any new leadership ratings?

  40. @Rich

    Some of the finest economists in the world are students of Marx.

    Marxism isn’t a swear word.

  41. New thread

  42. Well at least it’s interesting, but does anybody think Labour can really do their manifesto? Any impartial views, not Con or Lab supporters?

  43. If we now hypothesize a narrow win for either May or Corbyn, where does this leave the Brexit talks. I have a horrible feeling that the answer is ‘not in a good place’. Perhaps a strong chance of it never happening?

    but of course there are 2 weeks left

  44. Rudyard

    Yes, and congratulations. You must be very elated by the change.

    Tomorrow’s Corbyn/Neill interview will be important and my guess is that JC will be well prepared and do well.

    Of course very few people will actually watch and my guess is that close to 100% of those will be committed voters. Even I, although I am politically aware, never watch any of the political stuff as I simply can’t bear listening to the arguments, talking across each other and so on.

    But, even so, the stuff somehow filters down and, even allowing for bias [the Mail is unlikely to have a “Corbyn triumphs” headline] somehow it permeates to the rather less interested general public.

  45. YouGov: Best Prime Minister:

    Theresa May: 45%
    Jeremy Corbyn: 28%

    Not sure what, if any, this will have.

  46. On normal timetabling I would have expected a Panelbase poll tonight. Perhaps they had not started in the field before this week’s tragedy.

  47. @Daniel

    Question is, will those Lab voters who dont like Corbyn, but were voting Labour because there was no chance for Corbyn to become PM, will they still vote Lab if there is a probability of Corbyn getting in?

    I think the answer is yes. For fear of incurring the wrath of Curfew, I think his unpopularity amongst a section of Labour voters was that they had convinced themselves he was unelectable and that there wasn’t an appetite for such a shift left amongst the electorate. The popularity of the manifesto, Tory troubles etc has changed peoples minds. Also many of these voters would love to deny the Tories an overall majority.

  48. YouGov figures suggest CON majority of 26. “Events Dear Boy, events…….”

  49. Might be linked to the leaders TV debate last week an the care issue. Suprised to see Labour at 38% with Lib Dem VI holding at 10%. Also the TNS poll had high Green VI

  50. OLDNAT

    Thanks for the TNS link. Some interesting data there, albeit perhaps somewhat out of date.

    Tiny Scottish sample but surprising to see SLab ahead of SCon on p6. I can’t help wondering if that’s a judgement on Davidson and the rape clause or May and Con generally.

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