So far we’ve had three polls conducted since the end of conference speech – YouGov in Friday’s Times, Opinium in today’s Observer and ICM in the Sun on Sunday. The first two included voting intention figures.

The YouGov/Times poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday after Theresa May’s conference speech. Topline figures there were CON 40%(+1), LAB 42%(-1), LDEM 7%(nc) and changes are from immediately before the Labour conference. Tabs are here.

The Opinium poll for the Observer was conducted between Wednesday and Friday (so once again, after Theresa May’s speech) and had topline figures of CON 40%(-2), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 5%(-1). Changes are from just before the Labour party conference began. Tabs are here.

The two polls show identical two point leads for the Labour party, suggesting that Theresa May’s disastrous leader’s speech hasn’t radically changed levels of party support (the changes since the previous polls are in opposite directions, but neither are statistically significant, so I expect we’re just seeing noise there). Perceptions of the Prime Minister herself may be a different matter, though the public do still seem to be divided on her future.

Opinium did pick up a fall in Theresa May’s own ratings, with her net approval down to minus 16 compared to minus 11 before the conference season. Jeremy Corbyn’s figures were up, from minus 10 before conference to minus 5 now. Theresa May had a three point lead over Jeremy Corbyn on preferred Prime Minister.

YouGov asked about the future of Theresa May as Tory leader and found the public split down the middle – 39% think she should stay, 38% think she should go. As ever, answers like this fall out along very partisan lines – 68% of Tory voters think she should stay, 55% of Labour voters think she should go. Her ratings are mediocre across the board though, her lead over Jeremy Corbyn as best PM has shrunk to only three poonts (36% to 33% – 32% of people said don’t know, suggesting a fairly large chunk of people aren’t enthused by either of them.) 59% of people now think she is doing badly as PM, 31% still think she is doing well.

A third poll by ICM for the Sun on Sunday doesn’t appear to have voting intention figures (or at least, I haven’t seen them yet), but did ask what people thought Theresa May should do now. 29% wanted her to just continue as she is, 32% wanted her to confront her party opponents (18% by having a big reshuffle, 14% by making a “back me or sack me” demand), 13% want her to go immediately, 13% want her to name a future date when she will go.

There was also a BMG poll in the Independent today, but the fieldwork was conducted prior to the Conservative conference. Figures in the newspaper were CON 37%(-2), LAB 42%(+4).


256 Responses to “Post conference polling”

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  1. The S*n Newspaper seems to have ramped up the pro Boris anti May rhetoric in a major way over the past week or so. Does Uncle Rupert have some inside info, considering how he always backs the winner? (*C2015)

  2. “Theresa May’s disastrous leader’s speech”

    Aren’t you being a bit partisan AW? I thought the party faithful thought it was marvellous to see how she overcome the odds.

  3. The disastrous odds, you mean?

  4. So everybody agrees Lab on 42%. Tories could be anything!

  5. @trigguy:

    “I thought the party faithful thought it was marvellous to see how she overcome the odds.”

    My reading of the new reports was that SOME of the party faithful thought that way. Others were less pleased – or thought that even though they were impressed with personal stamina and courage, they saw the multiple disasters as not her fault, but as metaphors for the problems facing the party.

  6. “suggesting that Theresa May’s disastrous leader’s speech hasn’t radically changed levels of party support …”

    …or that it will take a few days for its symbolism represents to sink in.

    Given the shambolic nature of the government, those continuing to express a Tory VI are presumably pretty strongly wedded to that opinion, probably through their opinions on either Brexit or Corbyn, or as an expression of their “tribal” vote. That is not going to shift overnight, it will take a few days, perhaps at a subconscious level, before it shows up. Quite possibly first as an increase in DKs.

    I haven’t been paying much attention to the polls themselves recently. Is there any move in DK?

  7. *for what its symbolism represents…

  8. Arguably Labour are more split on most policy issues than the Tories. I can’t see that most Labour MP’s would support a massive increase in national debt to renationlise water, energy, railways etc.

    Corbyn has recently become more popular with Labour MP’s because of the surprise election performance and increased membership, particularly recruitment of young supporters.

    IF Corbyn was to become PM, he would have to compromise to gain support from Labour MP’s and Lords. If Corbyn and McDonnell tried to plough on with the type of policies they have been salivating about, then i think they would find it very difficult.

    In regard to Brexit, Corbyn quite clearly sees it as an opportunity to move away from EU state aid and fiscal rules. Corbyn would find it more difficult to implement some of his policies, if Brexit did not happen.

    As for the Tories they really need a cabinet reshuffle to bring new blood into Government and that might avoid a leadership contest. I don’t think Boris demoted to the backbenches would risk splitting the party while Brexit is taking place. As long as another Brexiteer was promoted to cabinet, then it should not be a problem.

    If Theresa May does not reshuffle her Government to enforce her leadership, then i think she won’t last more than 6 months.

  9. RJW

    Thanks for that, nice to know Rachel Pofger is a nice person. Her playing is sublime.

    Alec
    I heard Davis say it a number of times. I have the same opinion of the Guardian as you have of the Daily Mail.

    Somerjohn
    The money will be better spent preparing to get out without a deal than spending it to stay in. Just IMO of course.

  10. Thanks AW for an interesting write up. It seems to me that Labour have nor received any great bounce from their conference and the Tories not any great fall from theirs.

  11. One point that concerns me about Opinium’s polling is that they only found 9% who said that they had not voted in 2017 and another 1% who could not remember (past vote 2017 tab), while the 2017 turnout was 68.7%. So, either Opinium’s polling method is selecting respondents who are not representative of the population or their respondents are not answering their questions truthfully.

  12. SVEN HASSEL SCHMUCK

    The S*n Newspaper seems to have ramped up the pro Boris anti May rhetoric in a major way over the past week or so. Does Uncle Rupert have some inside info, considering how he always backs the winner

    The Sun has been promoting Boris against May for some time now. I think Murdoch wants a pliable PM to do his bidding – particularly in the Sky takeover, which the current government is (unexpectedly) showing a lot of resistance to. Boris’s time in London shows that he is always willing to do what the rich and powerful tell him to, so he’s the perfect candidate. Even more than his Eton contemporary, Cameron, you get the impression that he wants the position of PM without any of the inconvenience of actually running the country.

    I also rather disagree that May’s speech was “disastrous”. BMG’s focus group though she handled the problems rather well and it made here seem more human:

    http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/independentdiscussions/

    though they were less impressed by the content of the speech. Andrew Rawnsley in today’s Observer reckons that she was lucky in her mishaps, because it directed attention away from the (lack of) content, but when does impartial assessment of a leader’s speech based on what is said ever happen in the media? Their reaction was predetermined according to who they or their proprietors or editors want to occupy Number Ten next. So even if it had gone smoothly it would have been denounced, praised or sneered at as appropriate to the writers’ interests.

  13. LEFTIELIBERAL

    One point that concerns me about Opinium’s polling is that they only found 9% who said that they had not voted in 2017 and another 1% who could not remember (past vote 2017 tab), while the 2017 turnout was 68.7%. So, either Opinium’s polling method is selecting respondents who are not representative of the population or their respondents are not answering their questions truthfully.

    This is inevitable and something that all polling companies have to put up with. The sort of people who don’t vote are also the sort of people who don’t answer political surveys. Normally this doesn’t matter, because pollsters aren’t normally interested in the sort of people who never vote, they want a representative sample of those that do.

    Indeed including too many people who don’t vote will actually make the survey less representative – at least if you’re trying to find out how people will vote rather than what toothpaste they buy. And trying to compensate for the lack of non-voters by ‘weighting up’ the views of those you do have, may actually distort things. Because the latter will almost certainly be unrepresentative of non-voters in general.

    However a problem can arise where those who normally don’t vote decide to do so. This happened to some extent with the EU Referendum. The difference wasn’t great but it was enough to tip it from the narrow Remain victory the polls predicted to a narrow Leave one that actually happened.

  14. The worst aspect of TM’s speech was its policy content which is basically thin gruel when it comes to important domestic issues – housing (virtually nothing), adult social care (nothing at all), student finance (not enough). Seems she worries that having Boris out of the cabinet may cause her more problems than within it. Yet she is seen as weak for not being able to control her foreign secretary or sack him.

    Perhaps she could move him sideways to a new cabinet level post with the brief of taking charge of the housing crisis, and with a substantial budget to be spent solely on new build social housing. It could be funded by scrapping HS2 plus new borrowing. I think much of the electorate would welcome such spending even if it does increase the national debt. Somewhat of a U turn by the Tories but TM seems keen on U turns. Would get Boris off the diplomatic stage where he is a disaster, would give him something important enough to do that he might not regard it as a demotion, and keeps him inside the tent rather than causing trouble outside. And creates a top level vacancy which will help her in bringing on new talent.

  15. Latest polls seem to show little change both parties fairly even. Who should be most worried depends on which side of the fence you sit .
    Labour supporters would say we had a good press got our noses just in front even the dear leader is almost as popular as TM bearing in mind both are pretty dismal in the eyes of the public.
    Tory supporters would say we’ve had a poor press these last few weeks and still were polling around the 40% mark it wouldn’t take much of an improvement in fortune to nudge ahead ,our not so dear leader has had an unbelievable bad press this last week and still manages to poll just above the opposition.
    So as there is unlikely to be a GE or change of Tory or Labour leader for some time , both sides have a long way to go to convince the public they should form the next government.

  16. That polls have hardly moved, maybe Labour has a slightly bigger lead on a moving average esp if that BMG is included, is not surprising with the LDs in, eh, well now-where really.

    It seems to me that the Labour VI is fairly solid and the main movement between polls in E&W will be Tory 2017 vote to WV/DK. Depending on how pollsters handle these the Lab VI and lead will vary; they may get the odd 45% with moe and no DK reallocation but the fundamental closeness will be slow to change if it does.

    Difficult to see much direct movement after Churn between Lab and Con although Brexit policies may encourage some.

  17. The messages are flowing quite slowly while the Tories regroup and we wait to see in what direction Theresa May will move.

    But why no comments on the SNP proposal to pay the “residency” fees that the UK government will attempt to charge EU national working in the UK after a Hard Brexit.

    This is planned to be paid by the Scottish Government to the EU nationals in the public sector, but the SG will also expect private firms in Scotland to follow suit.

    An estimate of the cost is “up to £25.6 m.

    I think the present UK government will not be happy with this plan. But they ought to be expecting continual turmoil if they force through a Hard Brexit.

    We need continued immigration of young EU citizens capable of doing skilled work in our beleaguered NHS and elsewhere in Scotland.

  18. DAVWEL

    “An estimate of the cost is “up to £25.6 m.”

    Why not, so long as the SNP are prepared to increase income tax in Scotland to pay for it?

  19. Baldbloke.

    Well I reckon private firms at least won`t be happy, particularly as the pay penalty now being endured by public-sector staff might also be reduced soon.

    This too will need an increase in higher rates of income tax in Scotland.

    And it may cause recruitment problems to private firms.

    But personally I approve the SNP proposal.

  20. It’s interesting that May loyalists and their opponents ( including a Cabinet minister) have both been talking to Tim Shipman of the ST.

    The message from the loyalists is that May will demote Johnson in a Cabinet reshuffle after the next EU Council meeting in October. If she does not now do so, it will underline her lack of authority over major Cabinet appointments. If she does, will Johnson accept demotion or choose that moment to leave? Now that this hare has been set running its difficult to see someone not losing face.

  21. @davwel

    Something we can agree on! We are a long way from Gove’s “suggestion” during the EU referendum campaign that Brexit would enable Scotland to have a tailored immigration policy of its own.

  22. Demoting Johnson is the sensible thing to do. He should be given a Cabinet portfolio directly related to Brexit, that is very difficult, and which he will hate. I’d suggest Northern Ireland but he’d probably start a war, or Agriculture except Gove appears to be making an unexpectedly decent fist of it.

    Transport might be a good bet, it would get rid of Grayling and Johnson could be given the job of making sure lorries can continue to get through if a hard Brexit happens and of taking the blame when they don’t. He can then flounce off to the backbenches in a huff if merely being a Cabinet Minister is not enough for him.

    The question of who would take Johnson’s job is interesting though. I suspect Green or Clark would make a good job of it, but Clark is in the rare position of having a job he genuinely wants and would take some convincing, whilst Green is too Remainy for many. The problem could be finding a Brexiteer who is capable of speaking to world leaders without making them want to destroy the United Kingdom to shut them up and there are not many of those around. Michael Fallon?

    They’d have to find some other stooge to go on Newsnight and make up ridiculous stories about Corbyn with a straight face, though, as nobody beats Fallon at that.

  23. This is interesting from the Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/08/post-brexit-invisible-border-is-impossible-says-irish-report

    Seems that the options are narrowing to:

    1.a hard land border with customs posts
    2.special CU status for NI, with a customs border in the irish Sea

  24. This is interesting from the Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/08/post-brexit-invisible-border-is-impossible-says-irish-report

    Seems that the options are narrowing to:

    1.a hard land border with customs posts
    2.special CU status for NI, with a customs border in the irish Sea

  25. This is interesting from the Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/08/post-brexit-invisible-border-is-impossible-says-irish-report

    Seems that the options are narrowing to:

    1.a hard land border with customs posts
    2.special CU status for NI, with a customs border in the irish Sea

  26. (oops posted that by accident…)

    I don’t expect either of these options to appeal to Arlene.

    If labour came down for CU membership for the whole UK, might she be tempted?

  27. @R Huckle

    “Arguably Labour are more split on most policy issues than the Tories. I can’t see that most Labour MP’s would support a massive increase in national debt to renationlise water, energy, railways etc.”

    I usually agree with you but can’t here. I am pretty confident that almost every Labour MP would renationalise public utilities if they thought they could get away with it politically and I think they can now.

    I don;t think the cost is a barrier. I think the barrier is stopping the Tories immediately flogging the lot off to their mates again regardless of the consequences the first chance that they get.

  28. Howard

    “Thanks AW for an interesting write up. It seems to me that Labour have nor received any great bounce from their conference and the Tories not any great fall from theirs.”

    Regrettably and regretfully I would concur.

    If, post election “triumph” and multiple Tory problems the gap is only around 5% I’d hardly call that terminal for the government.

    Only caveat is [sorry Anthony] can on believe polls anymore? And especially at election time.

  29. Seems Mrs May is going to bite the bullet and get rid of Mr Johnson.

    What consequence ?

    (Anwers on a post card to : The Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London).

  30. When May quits, how long will it take to get a new one? I assume the deputy will take over for a while. Is that Damian Green?

  31. Four months after an election is still honeymoon phase, shambolic speeches or not.

  32. Paul Croft

    The 5% lead was a September poll. THe latest two polls show only a 2% lead. Of course you are correctly asking how accurate the polls are? We just don’t know do we?

  33. i dont think johnson will accept a demotion. he will flounce out for sure and battle for his vision of brexit from the backbenchers.

  34. Did not Fallon vote to remain?

    Seem to recall he said Putin would like a leave vote.

  35. What has happened to the DUP, very little talk about them even though Arlene was the star of the Tory conference. Have the been incorporated into the Tory party? That would explain people talking about the Tories having a slender majority, which is a phrase I’m reading more and more.

  36. PR
    Does that make Arlene and Theresa The Girls of Slender Majorities, a la Muriel Spark?

  37. @Chris Riley

    “I don’t think the cost is a barrier. I think the barrier is stopping the Tories immediately flogging the lot off to their mates again regardless of the consequences the first chance that they get.”

    ——-

    Indeed, especially since we now know via the QE experiment that injections of magic money needn’t be that inflationary, so it might be used for renationalising.

    Of course, Blair and Brown’s solution to the problem of public assets being sold off, was to flog them off up front via PFI. Which has its own issues of course…

  38. Sad that Scotland didn’t get to the WC playoffs. Especially when the critical result was England scoring that last minute equaliser at Hampden and we didn’t need the point..

    Shame that they didn’t start the qualifying games better ‘cos they certainly finished them very well.

  39. @Danny “yes of course, but the yardstick is the success we have benefitted from while a member. Everyone understood the terms for remain and the likely economic outcome. Remain would have meant –no change.”

    That is patently not the case. The idea that the EU is a static entity is risible. You seem to be forgetting that a lot of the Brexit debate was not just what we were Remaining in now, but how the EU was likely to unfold.

    Read Junker’s recent speech. Or Macron’s. Or any number of EU apparatchiks. The final destination is clear and has been since the Treaty of Rome. How and when they get there is more murky of course. Still they have made great strides. The EU is nothing like the EEC we joined in 1973. However, as correctly pointed out by the likes of Enoch Powell and Tony Benn, the destination in 1973 and 2017 is still the same.

  40. @ Turk

    Latest polls seem to show little change both parties fairly even. Who should be most worried depends on which side of the fence you sit .

    The overall average is a Labour lead of just over 2 points at the moment. If this were reflected in a General Election, then on UNS, Lab would make about 40 gains (mostly from Con) and would be the largest party (about 300 seats to 280).

  41. One thought on the polls, which have been remarkably static, given all the Government drama is just how badly the Lib Dems are doing under their new leadership.

    No cut-through and I’ll dare to say it, Uncle Vince seems even more of an inconsequential non-entity than Farron. Which takes some doing!

    Let’s call it “the Vince Cable dead cat bounce effect”.

  42. @NICKP

    My recollection is that PMs tend to resign as party leader but stay as PM until a successor is elected. Blair and Thatcher did that as I recall.

    For death or incapacity there is no pecking order as there is in the US for example. Peter Bone introduced a Private Members’ Bill in the 2010 Parliament to create one, primarily I think to make sure no one would argue it fell to Cleggy, but it didn’t get anywhere.

    If exigent circumstances demanded a temp I guess we’d find we got one though.

  43. ROBIN

    I haven’t been paying much attention to the polls themselves recently. Is there any move in DK?

    Not really, though it varies between pollsters and polls. The latest YouGov shows all three Parties with about the same level of DKs among their 2017 voters. Opinium is still showing more rootless Tories however. It’s probably what is driving their opposing changes in VI direction, which is within margin of error, anyway. Indeed it’s pretty much a demonstration of how margin of error works in polling.

    So the situation remains that it looks like Labour has a lead of around 2 points. You wouldn’t necessarily expect much change so soon after an election of course. The only unusual circumstance with 2017 is that the winner’s bonus and honeymoon period seems to have ended up with the ‘losers’ instead.

    This is due mainly to the Conservatives losing more voters to WNV/DK and UKIP than Labour has to WNV/DK and Greens, there’s little direct switching. So it’s possible that the Tories would benefit more from strays returning to the fold (and UKIP failing to put up candidates). But equally DKs may move elsewhere and UKIP voters stay at home – it’s not guaranteed.

  44. Well-she seems to have weathered the storm in her Party-that old resilience thing :-)

    The consensus view seems to be keep her in post for now & change leader for a 2022 GE. Changing leader now prompts calls for a GE which would be irresistable & which Cons would lose.

    So bringing on new blood would seem to be a pre-requisite for this plan.

    Hence a Reshuffle presumably. But she has to get it right-they can backfire terribly.

  45. ………..and then there is this :-

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/programme-for-fifth-round-of-uk-eu-article-50-negotiations

    Roll on Thursday & the Michel & David Show. :-)

  46. “Latest polls seem to show little change both parties fairly even. Who should be most worried depends on which side of the fence you sit.”

    ——–

    Well one question is whether there’s an attrition rate for Cons owing to a shift in the balance of the ratio of boomers and younger people, and what this rate is in terms of percent swing per year.

  47. @ Chris Riley

    Re nationalisation and costs of doing this.

    Many Labour MP’s would want to be persuaded on how they would finance taking water, energy and railways in public ownership. With railways, it is easier, as they can wait for a franchise to come up for renewal and decide to end it. With water it is more difficult, as Government is likely to get sued, if they tried to pay less than market value. With energy, i an not sure how they would go about this, as there are about 40 energy companies. Government could set up a energy supplier that undercuts other suppliers, but not under EU rules.

    I would personally support taking essential services into public ownership, but provided this does not mean a massive increase in annual interest cost on national debt. It has to be done in an affordable way.

  48. Debt binge of £203bn threatens to sink the UK economy

    http://dailym.ai/2g3pheV

    IMF warns the UK on the £203 billion personal debt binge.

    I can remember George Osbornes budgets where he deliberately encouraged consumer debt to assist the economy. The problem comes when consumers stop spending and start defaulting on credit.

  49. @R Huckle

    Well we’re able to borrow long term at low interest rates. But regardless, like I said, we now have QE and don’t have to borrow at all.

    The way QE is currently structured, to help the banks, it technically involves borrowing though in practice it may not be paid back or may keep being rolled over till inflation erodes it away, but you can do it without borrowing anyway.

    It’s not a bottomless pit, because as the economy nears full employment inflation will become an issue. (This is why inflation was a bigger deal in the post war era). But you might be able to do quite a bit before then, and you can invest in counter-inflationary things too.

    The other aspect is return on investment. For example they borrow to build a load of council houses they could reduce housing benefit costs, and do something counter-inflationary, and then have an asset to sell.

  50. Sea Change,
    The latest figure in the Britain Elects poll tracker has the Lib Dems on 7.7%, making them the most “stable” of all the Parties since the GE.. why do you single them out as doing particularly badly under Vince?
    The GE came at the worst possible time for the Lib Dems and considering the polarisation of politics throughout the media they are doing well to hang in there. There will be no major recovery until there is a Labour govt. in my view and survival is the name of the game until then.

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