The government have, needless to say, not had a particularly good few weeks. They have lost two cabinet minsters and have several more under clouds who the media have portrayed the Prime Minister as too weak to sack. You’d probably expect the government to be tanking in the opinion polls.

Yet YouGov’s latest poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 40%(nc), LAB 43%(+1), LDEM 6%(-2). Fieldwork was on Tuesday and Wednesday, so right in the middle of the Priti Patel row but before her resignation, and changes are from mid-October. Labour are ahead, but it’s the same sort of narrow lead that they’ve held since just after the election. As in other recent polls, Conservative support appears to be holding steady at around 40%.

It is a similar case with Theresa May’s own ratings. Her approval ratings are negative, but show no sign of collapse: 31% think she is doing well (unchanged from last month), 55% think she is doing badly (four points down from last month). 29% of people think she is a strong leader (up one point), 49% think she is weak (down three). 42% think she is competent (no change), 38% think she is incompetent (down three).

This raises the question of why support for the government and Theresa May is holding up when, on the face of it, they seem to be in such a mess. One eternal reason is that most people pay far less attention to political news than anyone reading this blog does. Cabinet rows and government weakness will make no difference to the voting intention of people who are wholly unaware of them. As an illustration, the poll also asked people if they thought Theresa May should get rid of Priti Patel (at a time, remember, when the story was all over the news and had been for four days). 17% said she should stay, 30% that she should go, 53% gave a “don’t know”. Government incompetence won’t hurt Tory support among people who are unaware of it.

An alternative possibility is that Tory voters are sticking with the Conservatives, however poor they are, because the alternative is Jeremy Corbyn. To test this YouGov asked people who said they’d vote Tory tomorrow why they were supporting them. Only 7% of Tory voters said it was because they both agreed with the government’s aims and thought they were delivering them, 48% said they agreed with the government’s aims even if they were struggling to deliver them, 22% said they thought the government were competent, even if they didn’t agree with all their aims. 19% of Tory voters, however, said they didn’t think the government were governing well and didn’t agree with their aims… but they still preferred them to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

Why is the government’s support holding up? As ever, there is never a single simple reason, but part of it is that most people don’t pay much attention to the day-to-day soap opera of politics, so individual scandals will not necessarily make a huge difference. Secondly, while even most Tory voters think the government are struggling to deliver their aims, they do mostly agree with what they are trying to do. Thirdly, there are a significant chunk of Tory voters who don’t think they are governing well and don’t agree with what they are doing… but would still vote for them because they aren’t Labour.

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1,230 Responses to “YouGov/Times – CON 40, LAB 43, LDEM 6”

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  1. That 19% on Con voters not liking the government’s aims and not thinking they are doing well looks telling.

    Taken at face value, if Jeremy Corbyn really is the reason why this group is staying blue, then theoretically that’s around a fifth of Con support or 8% that Corbyn is costing Labour. Even if they just sat on their hands, rather than switched across, losing them would still see Labour catapaulted into a double digit landslide lead.

    The counter point of course is that Corbyn has brought new life into Labour, which could be lost if they revert to a more centrist approach, so it’s an intriguingly balanced situation.

    I suspect, however, that this level of reluctant support does matter, as turnout can end up being critical. If a large chunk of your support is very unethusiastic, then it doesn’t take much to make them sit on their hands at election time. I seem to recall that this is what did for major in 1997, in many ways.

  2. @ ALEC – you do make me laugh.

    I’ll cherry pick this one:
    “Only 7% of Tory voters said it was because they both agreed with the government’s aims and thought they were delivering them”

    … for a bunch in the middle then

    ” but they still preferred them to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.”

    As i discussed with JIM JAM on previous thread. Corbyn, and his policies, are very different to Blair and his policies. Centre-CON didn’t mind Blair, they do mind Corbyn.

    With all the similarities to the 1992-1997 situation, this IMHO is the one huge difference.

  3. Lord Ashcroft has a large poll out with lots of Brexit questions. Nothing really new, very similar to the recent YouGov ‘a year on’ findings and every other Brexit poll

    – people (from all x-breaks) are more pessimistic (less optimistic) about outcomes
    – leave and remain want different things
    – large partisan split along Leave and Remain
    – etc

    BUT very little change in Leave and Remain fundamental view.

  4. See the Brexit talks have broken up with no progress.

    Barnier seems to be speaking to a totally different view of the process than David Davis.

    It seems that they cannot agree on even the first three issues that were tabled e.g Irish border, citizen rights, divorce settlement.

    I cannot see this Government implementing Brexit, because they won’t compromise on their ‘cake and eat it’ approach and are willing to contemplate ploughing on without any deal by the Brexit date if necessary.

    Theresa May today asked MP’s not to attempt blocking Brexit, with the EU withdrawal bill due in the HoC next week. The question is how many Tories will vote with opposition to inflict defeats on amendments ? If the bill is amended to include Parliament having a binding vote on Government and requirements Government can’t agree with, then it will be very difficult.

  5. I was listening to a phone in radio show last night about TM getting control of her govt. There seemed to be quite a few that thought the media was playing up the problems TM is having because the media opposes Brexit. What happens to Tory VI when Brexit has been sorted is anyone’s guess but I’d be worried if I was a Tory strategist.

  6. The YouGov headline VI well within MOE but apart from the surprise of CON holding in the DKs barely moved.

    CON 17 (+1)
    LAB 15 (uc)
    LDEM 17 (-3)

    Again well within MOE moves but IMHO this confirms the “Anyone But..” working for CON.

    I had expected DKs up across the board, especially for CON but it does seem to confirm that no matter how bad May and CON are doing, no matter what scandals or ineptitude they commit a “floor” in CON support is around these levels.

    All the Brexit questions also well within MOE but very minor positives for CON and Leave on the tracker questions if you hold the microscope really close. Some of the question they ask do not show a previous but pretty sure a previous did exist if anyone cares to fill in those bits.

    Samll drop in those not wanting a 2nd Ref. LAB view on 2nd ref is 51% for, 29% against. Come on Corbyn – respect the wishes of your VI!

  7. I think it unlikely (but not impossible) Labour will poll much above mid forties, but I also think that is true for the conservatives.
    The question is which of the two parties current supporters will switch to don’t know or a third party.

    It may be that both parties manage to retain their support up to the next election and we end up with another Parliament with NOC, but on average history tells is at some point support will drift away from one or the other.

    Personally in some ways am enjoying the political machinations at the moment, it is an exciting time to be watching politics, the old consensus has broken down, But of course another part of me is worried about where it will lead for the country’s future

  8. One thing is that Blair wasn’t leader of the Labour party between late 1992 and 1994 when Labour had a 15 point lead in the polls, indeed about a 20 point lead just before his death. Then it was John Smith – he was more left wing than Tony Blair but how does he compare to Corbyn? I get the impression that John Smith would have been seen as a more solid character whereas Jeremy Corbyn perhaps suffers from being seen as a pacifist (from having talked to some older people i know).,_1997#/media/File:1997_ge_polls.png

    One difference between 1992 and now is that, from what i remember, the Conservatives won the 1992 election being given the benefit of the doubt on the economy, in a bit of a ‘one last chance’ position amongst quite a lot of swing voters. The ERM debacle blasted that out of the water resulting in a big change in voting intention. The recent problems which have beset the conservatives may well already have been known about or not surprised people so there has not been the same shock. The reasons among swing voters might have been distrust of Corbyn, Abbott and McDonnell, as well as worries over the impact of Corbyn’s policies – i think that these all still apply. If Abbott and McDonnell were to be replaced with more popular politicians, and maybe Corbyn was to back down a bit on the nationalism agenda (but would people believe him?) then i think there would be more of a shift.

  9. @ RACHEL – You beat Alec for the humour award, nice one :)

    What happens to all the Remain in LAB VI if Corbyn just goes along with Brexit?

    @ R CHUCKLE – The same 7 LAB MPs are likely to approve a modestly amended Repeal Bill and with DUP on board the number of CON rebels required looks unlikely. May is not a gambler by nature and once bitten twice shy but the “smart” move would be to allow Nicky, Ken and Anna to abstain then when HoL ping pong it back in Jan(?) crack the whip hard (ie do exactly what they did in A50 votes).

  10. Trevor

    Centre CON might not mind a blair type labour but I and others like me do. The trick in FPTP politics is to energise your base while not scaring the floaters. At this point in time a blair type leader would energise the floaters while the base was running away screaming. The argument has always been that labour couldn’t win with a more left wing platform, that may have been true in the past but right now labour can’t win from the ‘centre’ because the base won’t put up with it.

  11. @ FROSTY – “If Abbott and McDonnell were to be replaced with more popular politicians”

    That is an excellent point. IMHO those two are far more worrying than Corbyn, however removing McDonnell is probably even less likely than May removing Hammond. Both CoEs are IMHO damaging both parties VI (for very opposite reasons of course!)

  12. @Trevor Warne – don’t quite follow your last post. I think you’ve said exactly what I said?

    @R Huckle – I was struck by the impact of the Florence speech on the financial question, which I pointed out at the time and looks like is delivering as I feared.

    Initially, the UK’s position seemed to be to attack the EU financial demands on a legal basis, attempting to unpick the legally enforceable elements of this. They made much play of how none of the EU demands were legally binding.

    Then, in the Florence speech (and in fact, previously by Davis) May said openly that the issues weren’t about legalities, and that we would also cover our moral obligations.

    This I felt was highly confusing. Sticking with the legal approach, or even accepting that this is a political balance, would, in my view, have enabled the UK to keep talking about the money. If we were adopting a strictly legal approach, then the EU would need to make a case for all of their items, or we would simply not pay. If we accepted that this is a political issue, then it becomes easier to say that we will barter the elements of the cash settlement as part of the trade deal.

    By saying the UK will meet it’s moral obligations, May clearly signalled that there are moral aspects that the UK considers it must pay up for, beyond the legal requirements, and based on our judgement of what those morals are, not part of an accepted political response. In doing so, we have accepted that there is a free standing issue of the money owed, which should not be linked to any other aspect of the deal.

    The response from the EU is just as I predicted – we’ve identified the moral issue, so it’s up to us to state clearly how this translates in terms of each of the items under consideration. There is nothing for the EU to negotiate on until we’ve told them what we think our moral obligations are.

    I thought this was a daft mistake at the time, and it does seem to be playing out much as I expected. If May had said that as far as the money goes, everything is on the table for us, but it will depend on just how good a trade deal we are offered, then the pressure on the EU to find a way to talk of trade would have been much greater. We could have said that we would cover costs X,Y and Z contingent on trade deal elements A,B and C, de facto opening up talks on trade.

    As it is, the EUare just twiddling their thumbs, pointing to the clock whenever we say anything.

  13. Nice analysis of why Cons & May aren’t plummeting Anthony.

    Corbyn’s “crowds” & all that Glasto posturing aren’t being translated into mountains of love for him.

    The country seems polarised.

  14. Why does May feel it necessary to put the leave date in legislation? I can only suppose she doesn’t think she/the Tories will be in government to implement it themselves.

    Either that or it’s an empty gesture. Except it’s an empty gesture that will lodge a brick on the accelerator and/or cut the brake lines as we approach the cliff edge…

  15. This is (as always) a hard poll to unpack. Of course there are people that say the government are doing badly but they don’t want the other guys. If you’re a Tory-supporter you might not want to vote for a government in chaos, but you won’t vote for Corbyn’s Labour. You’d prefer a twin of the Conservative party that isn’t in chaos. Of course you’d vote for Labour if you could be convinced they were just going to do what the Tories are advocating, but not do a disastrously bad, incompetent job of it. There are some (but not many) in the Labour party who want that to be the party’s line: same policies as the Conservatives, but get elected by not being useless.

    You might think that people who are, essentially, right-of-centre voters would say in this poll that they supported the government’s aims but think they’re delivering badly. I don’t think they would. Conservatives don’t, for example, want Kensington and Chelsea council to have been as disastrous as they were over Grenfell, but nobody likes to admit that failings are by design. When it’s going well you support cutting taxes, but when it’s going badly you oppose cutting funds for the fire service.

    I suspect that makes up lots of those in the ‘don’t like the incompetence, don’t like the aims’ 19%.

  16. @ Colin

    might we use the neologism Pollarised (you see what I did there).

    But seriously the nation appears split down the middle, which means, without a shift one large group of people is going to end up intensely vexed. That element of the population will have to be assuaged to some extent if the dangers of an instable society are to be avoided.

  17. @COLIN – why does Corbyn need mountains of love? To govern, you need a working majority, or a working coalition.

    You’ve missed completely what has happened in the Labour party if you still think they’re trying to triangulate electors to get every possible vote. Labour as currently constituted has an ideologically-driven position, and is offering it to the voters, in the hope they can form a government on that manifesto.

    Ironically, it’s my view that this will deliver a far bigger ‘mandate’ than the one governments always claim to have. If Corbyn is the next Prime Minister he will have a broad mandate to implement policies that have been honestly put to the electorate, even without a landslide. Compare this to the claimed mandate of e.g. Cameron, who implemented a top-down reorganisation of the NHS after explicitly saying he wouldn’t.

  18. @WB
    I disagree. See my comment above directed at Colin.

    Lots of the population IS extremely vexed already. In previous elections there has been a supposed consensus amongst the major parties, and then policy implemented has been unrecognisable from the manifestos.

    Sure, some people will be annoyed if Corbyn is elected because the Conservatives can’t persuade enough people to vote for them, but this will be a genuine choice put to the electorate, not a sham where policies are deliberately hidden from view and then implemented without any endorsement at all.

  19. WB

    @”That element of the population will have to be assuaged to some extent if the dangers of an instable society are to be avoided.”

    In terms of Brexit-I concede that the “permanence” flowing from the decision is giving & will continue to give rise to the “vexation” you mention.

    I suppose time will heal this-it can’t be healed politically.

    The “vexation” flowing from ones own choice of government not being in power is no big deal is it? It is temporary & can be corrected in a few years time. I don’t understand what other means of “assuaging” are appropriate or possible. Its just democracy in action. But its not permanent.


    I don’t agree that an ” ideologically-driven position” aimed at a section rather than the totality of, the Electorate delivers a ” far bigger ‘mandate’” than a position of broad appeal.

    It merely reinforces polarisation-encourages it.

  21. Very interesting polling. A good summary by Matt Singh here on why the polls aren’t shifting:

    Another point he doesn’t raise here, but is certianly interesting, is that Philip Cowley (political scientist at Queen Mary university) pointed out on twitter the other day that historically, cabinet resignations actually have a positive effect on how voters view the leader and rarely coincide with loss of support. It makes them look strong, as if they’re taking control of the situation. So a slight favourable move towards May as best PM makes sense in light of that evidence. There was also a corresponding slight increase in her net approval from -28 to -24 (although gross approval remains at 31%, unchanged).

    Another factor to consider: May’s colleagues make her look good by messing up all the time. And now that the alternatives look worse and worse (the main one previously being Boris, now even more diminished), it’s logical that people would now prefer to keep May.

    Looking at VI, there’s the real possibility that Corbyn is blocking a lot of potential Tory-voting swing voters, as evidenced in that 19% of Tory voters who don’t like what they party are doing, nor think they are competent. But as Rachel points out (and frankly 2016 showed), I doubt efforts to remove him are going to help – and frankly they won’t work.

    But – although Corbyn may be blocking a particular tyhpe of voter, there’s one rather striking figure which really stuck out of that YouGov poll, but which nobody has yet paid any attention to: Corbyn has had his best ever approval ratings with YouGov, at +5 net approval, up 7 from the last poll (previous highest was 0, a few days after the election when Labour was polling better than they are now). This breaks down as 44 well, 39 badly. YouGov has generally been more pessimistic for Corbyn – hell, he was down at -14 with them just 2 months ago. What’s changed since then? Whatever it is, the change is far too big and gradual to be an outlier. Personally if anything I would’ve thought he would’ve sunk lower since then, but I never understood why it sunk as much as 14 points in the first place.

    So, on this measure, Corbyn himself has never been more popular – even if Labour are overall polling no different to before, and May is still preferred as PM. And Corbyn himself has not had the best few weeks – there’s certainly been a few questionable revalations about him, but they appear to have gone unnoticed. I guess we can’t underestimate just how little gets through into the public consciousness.

    The last time we had a Labour leader with positive ratings 2 years after being elected was Blair. That was in 1996.

    So, much to scratch heads over, in my view. Personally I think polling at the moment is pretty inconsequential and predictive of very little. As we saw with GE2017, we live in a highly polarised and volatile political climate.

    But important to keep in mind the broader trends – in my view, the picture is far more complex than ‘Labour would be miles ahead, but Corbyn…’ (but I do think this is one factor).

  22. In other news, ‘wrong to leave’ remains ahead, indeed significantly at net +4 (+1 on last poll). Seems consistent at this point. More interestingly, as Peter Kellner argued in this article a while back (based off thin evidence at the time, frankly – see this article ), the shift has been exclusively among the working class (C2DEs), with ABC1s still at 60-40 with don’t know removed, but the C2DEs having moved from around 63-37 to (in this poll) 58-42 or so in favour of leave.

    These changes are probably just outside the margin of error, but given they’ve been repeated time after time, it does look like any ‘Bregret’ is pretty much occuring primarily in the C2DE group. But the fact that the change is so consistently isolated in this group makes the shift more likely to be real as we can ascribe it to a particular cause, rather than it merely being noise.

  23. @Smileyben

    Not a good week for Labour either.


    @” Philip Cowley (political scientist at Queen Mary university) pointed out on twitter the other day that historically, cabinet resignations actually have a positive effect on how voters view the leader and rarely coincide with loss of support. It makes them look strong, ”

    I agree entirely.

    And when you see how TM’s approval rating for being “decisive” has collapse-it can only do her good imo.

  25. @ Colin @Smileyben

    I should have perhaps been a bit more precise in my remarks, I thin a great deal of VI at present is focused through the prism of Brexit: It is the instability that relates to that which is of concern not the vagaries of VI for a political party in normal circumstances. The problem is as I see it, the solidity in VI arises from a belief, justified or not that Tories are Brexit and Labour is Brexit-Lite/Remain. The relative immobility of the parties polling ties in too neatly with the immobility right/wrong to leave polling for this analysis to be dismissed IMO.
    It is historically significant that civil wars tend to arise out of constitutional disputes rather than policy disputes (Colin is correct people always feel that they can overcome the policies at some point, whereas disputes about a nations constitution have a feeling of permanence about them).

  26. I do wonder how many of that 19% wouldn’t like what Labour offered under any leader?

    The YG post GE survey IIRC recorded 13% v 14% voted Lab due to JC and voted Tory due to JC specifically him mentioned, not Labour led by JC.

    This poll tells us nothing new but helpfully confirms what Alec summed up, a Corbyn led LP can’t reach parts of the Electorate a Blair of around ’97 (or say Cooper to use a current politician) might but he, Corbyn, energised many voters.

    Labour got an initial post GE bonus, sadly assisted by Grenfell, but since then these trade offs seem to be neutralising each other more or less for now, key question for me is will the ABT sentiment grow, diminish or stay about the same.

  27. A very rare and fleeting visit, motivated by an itch to see what the latest polls were telling us. In so far as we should still take them very seriously, considering how badly wrong they’ve tended to be in recent times, I suppose they do still provide some source for political discussion in the absence of actual voting in elections. I wouldn’t hold great store by them, though and I ceased to do that some time ago; hence my virtual abandonment of UKPR. They’d really made an ass of me too many times!

    Still, let’s play the game for a bit. My first reaction is surprise that anyone’s surprised. Tories down 2% from the June election, Labour 3% up and Lib Dems and UKIP becalmed. Let’s remind ourselves that it’s only about 140 days since people voted for real. Why on earth would many, if any of them, have changed their minds already? A few have, by the way, with polls drifting gently to Labour, but, as Anthony points out in answering his own question, the sort of tittle tattle that’s occurred in Westminster recently goes largely unnoticed amongst the wider electorate. It’s as you were, isn’t it? May and the Tories are still the party of choice for voters where Brexit subordinates all other issues and Labour has virtually locked down the anti-Tory vote, soaking up many Lib Dems and UKIP voters in the process. Those were the rules of engagement 140 days ago, weren’t they? No great economic calamities yet, nobody’s died in a political sense and all the big game changers are queuing up much further down the road. They’re still getting their clothes on and waiting to come out to play.

    My sense is that the ticking clock and incumbency is the Tories enemy, not their friend, but we’re hardly into this Parliament yet. Consequently, I wouldn’t really take any notice of these polls. I would have been staggered if the Tories were plummeting so soon after winning an election.

    Who on earth, apart from the more disingenuous amongst us, seriously thought they would?

  28. WB


    @”I think a great deal of VI at present is focused through the prism of Brexit:”

    I’m not sure.

    First AW’s caveat about voter disinterest is always a salutary reminder to us political anoraks.

    Second-in this poll:-

    Government negotiating = net -41

    Wrong to Leave= net +4

    PM/Opposition Leadership:-
    JC =net +5
    TM = net- 14

    and yet………..

    Best as PM=TM
    Lab VI lead = 3

    Doesn’t that data imply segregation of opinions about Brexit , and Running the Country?

  29. @ ALEC – your post states that you believe 19% of CON VI will simply abstain in the next GE as they don’t like CON policy, completely missing AW’s point! DK’s typically pick up the “abstain” category and that is very high for CON so my guess is you are double counting the same people.

    Now if you’d picked the section below in the tabs (lower p4) that shows the situation from a LAB perspective you could have actually made a very good point (as could RACHEL or another LAB partisan).

    Once someone had made that point I was all set with a reply showing the ABC vote was more like Anyone But Corbyn – FROSTY was close on that one, seeing it more as an issue with Labour than necessarily Corbyn (the poll state’s “Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party” so tough to know if it is Corbyn or something else about Labour that is making a lot of CON VI stick to CON while pinching their nose)

    DANNY will very pleased to see that only 9% of LAB are ABC (in this case Anyone But Conservative) and that the majority of LAB VI are right up their in the “true believer” categories (the most loyal response is 31% for LAB but only the 7% I highlighted for CON). The high party faithful number for LAB does present a serious issue for CON unless they change policy direction fast (cue Hammond!)

    Of course “things they say” is extremely vague and this is one poll at a time when CON are doing horrific in public perception so huge caveats in reading too much into the numbers.

  30. key question for me is will the ABT sentiment grow, diminish or stay about the same.

    I think the key response would be that the Tories are not going to have the same leader come next GE. One of the new crop will take it, and so May will fade into history, and the next person will be better controlled by the party.

    What I think is missed, and I will admit to being a Tory, is that the Conservatives are analysing what went ‘wrong’ in not winning a majority. Labour does not seem to have engaged in this process, assuming victory will just come.

    I think the world will be very different come next election.

  31. If the WNVs in the 18-49 age demographic ( both of which register strong Lab VI) -all actually voted Labour , that would shift Lab’s headline from 43% to 48% ( I think)

    And Momentum / Social Media have demonstrated that they can fire those groups up .

  32. @ WB – back to Repeal Bill if you have time.

    My legal friends gave me a very crude breakdown earlier in the week, do you agree/disagree with following breakdown of amendments (in terms of v.rough %, meaning and likelihood to be included)

    Devolved matters – 50%
    Ranging from spurious to v.important. CON will fight most and few will be included (my view is this is a shame and missed oppo for CON)

    Minor/Irrelevant – 20%
    Ranging from poor use of grammar to wrong application of law. All ignored

    UK specific, non-brexit – 20%
    Specific legal issues that are broader than Brexit. CON might have to climb down on many of these (Grieve, Soubs issues that are more about “doing it right” than “not doing it at all”)

    Brexit specific – 10%
    These are the crunch issues. Art127 and meaningful vote related. CON will fight these to the death. Possible area for defeat but my guess is the 7 LAB-leave (+DUP) will outweigh the Morgan, Clarke pure-Remain from CON.

    Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance

  33. AW,
    Why are polls holding steady? Brexit and austerity. The two big fault lines dividing people. Its a situation where a donkey in a red or blue rosette would get the votes.

    The tories have promised to make Brexit work. So anyone wanting Brexit come what may, or anyone wanting to get away from the EU conditional upon success will stick with them. The latter, at least until they believe the tories cannot deliver, and we have not reached that point yet.

    I am personally sceptical whether Patel chatting with israelis or ministers patting knees is going to persuade most people about anything. Patel has almost become a question of direct challenge to the PMs authority, rather than doing anything particularly wrong. The other scandals might have some real substance, or might be seen by many as political correctness gone mad. (including some high profile women who have said as much)

    I get the feeling the government is setting up a parliamentary showdown. They are going for broke on the withdrawal bill, to give them all the powers they need to complete Brexit, or to surrender control to parliament. The tories need to lose control to parliament, and need to force labour to take a position. Labour needs to avoid taking a position and hold options open indefinitely.

    Although the tories might have the numbers in the commons, I would assume they do not in the lords?

    One more uptick in wrong to leave.

    R Huckle,
    “I cannot see this Government implementing Brexit, because they won’t compromise on their ‘cake and eat it’ approach and are willing to contemplate ploughing on without any deal”

    I agree they cannot compromise, which is why they have a need to be defeated publicly.

    Trevor Warne,
    “What happens to all the Remain in LAB VI if Corbyn just goes along with Brexit”

    The libs go back to 50 MPs and labour drop 100.

    ” it’s an empty gesture that will lodge a brick on the accelerator and/or cut the brake lines as we approach the cliff edge”

    Yes it is. Parliament must therefore become complicit in this national sabotage, or take a stand against it. Its intended to force labour to take some sort of position.

  34. @ COLIN – the battleground IMHO will be the 25-49 category (and upper cohort of 18-24).

    This IMHO is why it is vital Hammond adopts a shift to CPI for student loan interest.

    Only 2%ish of electorate are students (+2% more if you add in their parents). CON will never make much inroads on the actual students and IMHO should be careful who they throw under the bus to win very difficult votes.

    The much larger, and IMHO convertible, demographic is the graduate with student debt. LAB have moved away from writing that debt off and Hammond’s conf move was a total failure (and bad economic policy). Changing the interest rate and tweaking the RAB calculation will cost next too nothing (ie Hammond will like it) and IMHO it will make a big difference in a segment that adds up to nearer 10% of voters using my fag packet maths.

    I’m not too worried about the core CON vote but CON need to seriously consider who they want to win over and how to do it (without overly upsetting the core vote)

  35. PS Hammond also needs to drop austerity – IMHO that goes without saying, however I doubt he will and/or am worried where he’ll try to find the money to make it happen.

  36. Trevor Warne

    @”the battleground IMHO will be the 25-49 category ”

    It will certainly be a key one -I agree.

    @”This IMHO is why it is vital Hammond adopts a shift to CPI for student loan interest.”

    Not convinced. I don’t mean he shouldn’t do it if he can find the money. I just don’t think those guys & gals think like that. Their dislike for Tories goes much deeper -to do with values-a very wide & deep topic centred on Fairness. ( tragically TM came in on that ticket !). Remember too that youngsters who are disinterested in tales of Hamas & Tony Ben & Venezuela , can quite easily think-gifts from Tories must be a con.


    @”Hammond also needs to drop austerity

    Did you read this from the Centre Right ? ( Nick Boles)

    I am increasingly reading that idea of a turnover tax to stop multi-nationals shifting profits. It makes a lot of sense.

  38. @ Crossbat11
    Yeh, God knows why we should bother with YouGov’s polls which were rubbish for the last 2 elections, (tho remarkably accurate with respect to 2017 seat predictions).
    But in fact the Lib-Dem vote is not “becalmed”, but has dropped by 2 points [to 6%), which entirely explains the increase in Lab support.

    (1) Lab is supported by 33% of Lib-Dem 2017 voters.
    (2) The same group?, 28% of 2017 Lib-Dem, voters think Corbyn would make best PM & 42% that he is doing well as leader of Lab.
    (3) Conversely, 70% of 2017 all Lib-Dem voters think May is rubbish.

    Granted the Lib-Dem sample is necessarily tiny, assumes a two-party state, & makes no mention of Cable etc.

  39. Lovely morning here in Texas bit chilly 10c, must say I agree with Anthony and others apart from those of us who have a interest in politics most people seem to prefer getting on with there lives lumping most politicians in the all as bad as each other bag.
    I suspect if May does take any notice of polls she will be encouraged over recent polling mainly because the Tory core vote remains strong even in these worst of times for her government, if she can hang on to post brexit then Tory fortunes may fair better as the remainders at last come to terms that we’ve left and wavering towards Labour in the vain hope brexit won’t happen has passed.
    Then I think we will return to 3 party politics with the resurgence of the Liberals as those wavers return to there natural home in the Liberal party if that happens having a core vote of 40% will look pretty good.

  40. @ TW

    You really don’t rate Hammond do you!!!

    On your question I think its important to divide the legal/constitutional questions from the politics questions in regard to the Withdrawal Bill:

    Devolution: A political reason for retaining powers is control retention: A similar battle was fought over the Wales Act when the move from the conferred to the reserved powers model took place: the schedules to the Act setting out the powers reserved has 200 sections. Westminster and Whitehall do not like devolution and are begrudging in their dealing with it.
    The unionist majority in the commons would usually help in terms of passing this quickly but the complication is that the Labour party has a vested interest in Wales and a political interest in dampening SNP fervour in Scotland: therefore there may be scope for some serious arguments in debate on these.
    UK/Brexit specific: not sure where the dividing line comes: the Henry VIII clauses are Brexit specific, but they are really problematic: firstly giving such powers is anathema to some Conservative Parliamentarians who cherish its sovereignty (many of whom are Brexiteers): secondly there is the fear for some that because of events these powers (which will only take effect after brexit takes place) may fall into the hands of a Government of Labour ministers, finally because the need for such clauses arises out of the appallingly bad preparation for Brexit and debate will expose that.
    The Brexit specific clause announced today of leaving at 11pm on 29 March 2019, should not prove problematic: If Labour has any sense they will ignore it as it could be repealed in a one line Act at short notice if necessary. So I don’t see problems for that type of clause.
    The problems I foresee as those amendments and new clauses on the principle of what Parliament gets to do at the end of all this, the debate on that involves deep levels of principle, and the question, which I posed earlier today is whether those Conservative MP’s who believe that “hard Brexit” is bad put party before country when it comes to these votes:
    The one thing that is clear is that many of the amendments will never even be debated they will simply be lost because of the guillotine which I have no doubt the government will use to curtail this.

  41. Colin

    “I don’t agree that an ” ideologically-driven position” aimed at a section rather than the totality of, the Electorate delivers a ” far bigger ‘mandate’” than a position of broad appeal.
    It merely reinforces polarisation-encourages it.”

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Labour is now consistently polling around 40%. I think by now everyone is clear what Labour’s policies are under Corbyn and they are happy to go along with this because they feel these policies are right for the country. Of course many do not as the Tories are also polling about 40%, so they feel that Tory policies are right.

    What you seem to be saying however is that to avoid polarisation, Labour should move towards the Conservative position and that way they will have a better mandate. Why is the reverse not the case? Why shouldn’t the Conservatives move towards the Labour position to avoid polarisation?

  42. I managed to get myself a little bar work, which made me very happy, only one or two shifts a week but it’s a start. But then I made a fatal mistake, in my eagerness to work I volunteered to cover the shifts of people who were sick. Seemed like a good idea to me but now the job centre has told me that because I did more than 16 hours (19.5) in one benefit week (Tuesday to Monday) I’m now considered to be in full time employment! The fact that the week before I did 12 hours and the week after I did 7.5 hours makes no difference. I’m now no longer officially unemployed but the say I should make a new claim seeing as most weeks I don’t work 16 hours or more.

    It’s beyound daft, also got stung for 8 quid for ringing them up to say I couldn’t make my appointment with them because I was working, just got my phone bill £8 for a 15 minute call most of which was me listening to something pretending to be music.

    So anyway I’m really at the short end now and I’m noticing that everyone in working with has multiple jobs and horribly complicated lives. That if you want to work extra shifts you need to be fast, it comes up on the WhatsApp group and is gone within 5 mins. Talking to colleagues it’s the same in their other jobs, competition for hours is intense. Everyone is just on the edge of financial disaster and as I’ve been learning the safety net is full of holes.

    I have to conclude than when there is a downturn even a small downturn all hell is going to break loose. It’s going to be very very ugly

  43. @ COLIN – thank you for the link, that is an excellent piece of analysis and certainly the kind of economic approach we need for Project After (after austerity and after Brexit). I’m particularly keen on linking to final cuts in corp. tax to specific measures that result in boost in productivity.

    My concern is quite separate and lies more with ensuring CON keep power in order to deliver Project After. For this CON need to win some voters over. This is why I’m OK with putting balancing the budget on hold – temporarily!!

    I’ve also gone through the target segments and tried to consider the “cheapest” ways to win the most plausible “marginal” votes without risking losing some marginal voters. We may be near the CON floor so can take a few chances IMHO but Hammond needs to be careful overly attacking the grey vote.

    My fear with Hammond is people just tune out to the important and successful policies that CON have and continue to develop (simple examples such as higher stamp tax on buy-to-lets are really good taxes but zero spin and hence no voter impact).

    Like it or not (I’m big in the NOT), populism sells and Corbyn’s snake oil charm works on the under 49s as they have no recollection of how bad UK Socialism is.

    Have you ever had a good look at the student loan system. It’s so bad, its disturbing. Market forces have clearly failed in controlling the degree farms and the approach to lending money defies all common sense. It’s nearly impossible to reconcile market needs with social good and its a monster to tackle all in one go. However, spreadsheet Phil loves a little tinkering of the numbers and “40k reduction in lifetime loan interest payments” makes a catchy headline. It’s the one policy I think can make a real difference in the VIs and if you fudge the RAB (write-off) approach a little (as they have done in the past) you can make it zero cost – even without the fudge it is zero cost in the very short-term.

    Thanks again for the link – I’m looking forward to reading their back catalogue.

  44. @ WB – thank you once again for another detailed reply.

    Within CON the “rebels” seem to fall into two, sometimes overlapping camps. As you point out many of the amendments find support from very passionate Leavers and concern important sovereignty issues.

    I also take your point that a lot of the amendments overlap important short-term Brexit implementation issues and longer-term “abuse of power” issues.

    I am confused with the devolution clauses. So many! I had thought the “who does what” was fairly clear but apparently not. CON are not good at sharing their toys and will probably be the same with the toys they take back. I don’t think those amendments will be make or break but I will be sad if they are all thrown out and Westminster try to keep all the toys. I also expect that will result in a lot of future legal challenges!

    Back to the CON rebels. The “remain” rebels IMHO number less than 5 (Morgan and Clarke the two prominent). The “overlappers” possibly another 5 (e.g. Soubs). The “soverign” folks within CON are hard to put exact number on and my colleague that knows the names is away but that area is IMHO going to be where the battle lies – and it is the important battle to be had.

    The LAB 7 that voted against LAB whip can’t be relied on by May but IMHO will be “allowed” to support the bill if enough concessions are made by May.

    It’s going to be interesting!

    P.S. I have no doubt it will be ping ponged back by HoL. Timing wise I see it not back in HoC until the New Year and IMHO this presents a timing issue for DD. He really needs the Repeal Bill in the books before he can compromise IMHO

  45. @ TW

    given that this is committee stage, and it has to come back to the commons for the report stage and then 3 Reading I doubt it will reach HoL much before March 2018, that is when, I suspect, fireworks will start as much of the political heat goes and the technical work sets in (much more civilised in the Lords) I say fireworks in the absence of heat because the debates there will tend to expose real dangers of failing to execute the bill properly, such as aviation regulation etc.

  46. @ DANNY – I don’t see LAB down to 100 seats but for sure the “paradox of Brexit” is a difficult one for Corbyn IMHO. if the GE is after 29Mar19 he is very reliant on a goldilocks scenario IMHO but if he strikes before 29Mar19 he has to commit to a stronger Brexit view.

    My GE model is currently broken – one too many patch fixes and attempting a full rewrite but lacking motivation.

    However, from memory and polling info inputs I did have one very extreme scenario with LAB down to 150 in a post 29Mar19 GE (this is CON dropping austerity asap, Brexit being OK, LAB being seen to have been doormat for Leave, no return of UKIP but some resurgence in LDEM)

    I can’t see LDEM getting near 50. They are more likely just to split the opposition vote and then you get into tactical voting issues. LDEM are also full-bore austerity (something that I used to like about them but is politically toxic at the moment)

    I think all we can say at the moment is that Brexit could make a big impact on a GE result – certainly enough to tip the current almost certain hung parliament with LAB needing SNP C+S into either a full LAB majority or a full CON majority.

  47. @Trevor Warne – “@ ALEC – your post states that you believe 19% of CON VI will simply abstain in the next GE as they don’t like CON policy,…”

    Posting less and reading more could be useful advice here? At no point did I say what you claimed.

    What I actually said was:

    “I suspect, however, that this level of reluctant support does matter, as turnout can end up being critical. If a large chunk of your support is very unethusiastic, then it doesn’t take much to make them sit on their hands at election time. I seem to recall that this is what did for major in 1997, in many ways.”

    I think it’s a statement of the obvious that if a large chunk of your support doesn’t like you or your policies, but only votes for you because they are more worried about the other lot, then you are deep into high risk territory.

    In our system, if a fifth of your vote is extremely unenthusiastic, this does raise the risk of poor turnout or protest votes to other parties, which could have a serious impact of seat distribution in a FPTP system.

    I raised this as a risk for the incumbent government, not as a prediction. Be more careful in your interpretation of other posters writings please.


    @”I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. ”

    I was responding to @ SMILEYBEN’s :-

    ” Labour as currently constituted has an ideologically-driven position, and is offering it to the voters, in the hope they can form a government on that manifesto.
    Ironically, it’s my view that this will deliver a far bigger ‘mandate’ than the one governments always claim to have”

    @” Why shouldn’t the Conservatives move towards the Labour position to avoid polarisation?”

    I think they should-selectively.

  49. @ WB – Looks like I missed a whole stage, thank you. Blimey if HoL don’t even get it by March then we have ping-pong we’re getting into Summer recess territory and still a legal cliff-edge restricting DD’s ability to flesh out a “”

    I’m recently coming around to the view that the EU are just going to dictate a binary choice to us. I had hoped we’d be the ones to put together the two choices but that is looking less and less likely. IMHO.

    If it does end up EU offering us something like:
    1/ EEA+CU (60bn bill, 4bn/year ongoing payment)
    2/ “” – as per the link HIRETON has previously posted

    I can’t see how the current parliament can chose. I think we’ll have to end up with a new ref and/or GE. The majority of CON MPs will go for #2 and LAB will go for #1 but with enough splits to create HoC deadlock.



    PH certainly has a Judgement of Soloman task ahead of him. Unlike your goodself I am happy with a CoE wedded to Sound Money & alert to Fiscal Risk .

    We will see how he performs shortly-not an enviable job. Very easy to turn the taps on, or off. Its the judgement in between which needs political nouse as well as professional competence.

    I agree that the Student Loan system has its faults-but lets not forget the achievements in terms of intake.

    I would be against abandoning any effort to make undergrads own some of the cost of their degree .

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