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.

Full tabs are here.


1,227 Responses to “YouGov/Times – CON 40, LAB 43, LDEM 6”

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  1. Sorry – correction

    Crucifixion, but no death (saved by a miracle), or someone else got crucified instead.

  2. S Thomas

    Re: Anna Soubry

    How many pro-remainers would need to be removed from the Tory Whip before any hope of a majority re: Brexit goes by the board?

    Now there’s a thought……!

  3. St H
    “Tory whip
    what act of treach*ry do you need to do to lose the tory whip these days.”

    You missed a question mark off the end.

    Unless it was to distract the pedants among us from noticing that while for weeks you’ve been defending Tories regardless of accusations made against them, and more than once belittling and mocking those who claim to be their victims, you’ve just made what, even by your own standards, is possibly your most stupid yet.

  4. Dalek,

    I think you are mistaken. I am sure there have been several contributions by ST which were much less hopeful in their implications…..

  5. RE: Anna Soubry

    Broxtowe Leave vote: 52.5%

    Maybe she’s just standing up against the tyranny of the majority.

  6. @ PTRP – austerity was supposed to end when May took over then we had the manifesto disaster! If May wanted a CoE that was Remain and full bore austerity why did she get rid of Osborne?

  7. S Thomas,

    “Tory whip
    what act of treach*ry do you need to do to lose the tory whip these days.”

    A Majority in Parliament you clown!
    If your outnumbered and surrounded you don’t start putting your own people up against the wall!

    Peter.

  8. The Other Howard: TechnicolourOctober
    “Gove’s signature on their letter is tainted by being next to Johnson’s”

    That’s just partisan twaddle, cant you do better than that?

    People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

    Will that do?

  9. @john b

    Muslims do regard Jesus of Nazareth as a very important prophet. Indeed, there is an empty tomb for him next to the Prophet’s tomb in Medina.

  10. Trevor Warne,
    “NUS studies have shown the youth vote pick-up was most highly concentrated in students”

    Do I recall another statistic from somewhere that labour had been picking up amongst working class brexiteers? Probably they would be non student sorts, and this might imply the likelihood of labour gains amongst non students too?

    “To stop Brexit (as opposed to just frustrating Brexit) then Corbyn needs to firstly whip his quiet life group”

    No, I dont think so. Brexit will be stopped by the tories turning against it. Labour tactics are to force the conservatives to take responibility to undo what they have done. (and simultaneously shatter their voter base, but that is a ticking bomb anyway)

    The Other Howard, (to technicolour october)
    “That’s just partisan twaddle, cant you do better than that?”

    It was funny though.

  11. I suppose that Britain under Corbyn’s labour party could become like Venezuela, I remember watching a tv show “a very British coup” which basically showed a British leftist govt being venezuelaed. But the events in that show took place over a short period of time. Venezuela has been in a state of lukewarm war with the most powerful nation on earth for 20 years. It’s difficult to imagine a state of lukewarm war existing between the UK and USA although this in fact happened during the Suez Crisis and the UK capitulated very quickly.

    The other thing it’s difficult to imagine is leading opposition figures in the UK encouraging foreign business interests to destroy the UK economy or asking foreign govts to do the same. And as much as I dislike Tories I find it difficult (not impossible) that they would finance and direct terrorism against their own country. But then again there was that army general…

    So in summary the

  12. Peter CAirns

    @”Venezuelas economy is a mess because it has been appalling badly managed by economic incompetents, but the same can be said for a whole string of other countries that have been firmly free market.”

    But only one country has reduced its population to starvation whilst possessing the worlds largest Oil Reserves.

    So -as you say-the political leader(s) who delivered this state of affairs must answer a charge of incompetence.

    And it doesn’t seem unreasonable to enquire of those who supported the policies in question, what they think went wrong.

  13. “Muslims do regard Jesus of Nazareth as a very important prophet. Indeed, there is an empty tomb for him next to the Prophet’s tomb in Medina.”

    Blimey, gone again !! It’s a miracle.

  14. @S Thomas

    That’s right. What loyal Ministers do is send letters full of threats to the PM.

    How dare Soubry act on the well-publicised and long-held principles she has and upon which she was re-elected (albeit only just) at the last General Election.

    Why don’t you write to her and tell her off? It might have even more effect than your amusing UKPR tantrums.

  15. @theexterminatingdalek

    Please don’t write posts that could be taken as challenges by some of our more remedial-level posters.

  16. “So in summary the ”

    I think you’re giving “succinct” a bad name Rachel. That’s the shortest summary I’ve ever not read.

  17. @jonesinbangor

    As Soubry is not trying to stop Brexit she seems to be quite happy with the tyranny of the majority.

  18. @peter cairns SNP

    “A Majority in Parliament you clown!”

    That is a very inappropriate comment. Clowns are entertaining.

  19. Chris Mullin wrote the book Rachel and said the TV drama was much better.

  20. @Paul

    Very harsh. ‘The’ is extremely succinct. It is also probably in the top half of the most useful and insightful comments on UKPR this week (above all of mine, for a start).

  21. A friend has pointed me to the attitude survey that shows 23% of Leave voters like their steaks ‘well done’.

    The monsters. I am a supporter of democracy but surely people with such defective judgement should not be allowed to vote?

  22. Hireton

    “Clowns are entertaining.”

    Unless you suffer from coulrophobia of course.

  23. @TREVOR WARNE

    she got rid of Osborne because she felt he was tainted by the Remain campaign. She cleared house liek a lot of leaders do Cameron cleared house. Corbyn was never given the chance to clear house everyone ran away ;-)
    Even Blair put his mark on his cabinet. changing the person whom is the number 2 is an obvious thing.

    Her speech about the JAM mirrored the we’re all in this together speech from Cameron. She had plenty of opportunity to change tack but they decided not to. the question was why did they go for NI tax increase when they promised not to why did they not talk about building more houses, why did they talk about the magic money tree. They thought that austerity would sell because Corbyn was prepared to borrow and spend money and they believe in smaller government and austerity would be what the country wanted it is really that simple.

    The point is the narrative has changed and the Tories are playing catch up. You have tories selling Corbyn as the second coming of Mao and Stalin, while half of them are neo liberals wanting less employment regulation ( and tell their paid customers not tnvest in the UK ) at the same time you people espousing the magic money tree. that was being rubbished just a few months ago.

    Yes there is a debate to be had. I have no doubt the problem as I see it is that the debate has not really happened. and there is no real policy from either Tories or Labour (I fear the difference between you and I is that I agree with your criticism of Labour I just believe your blue tinted glasses cannot see that the Tories are in the same merde but they are in power and the fan is spinning.

    I felt her JAM speech was basically what Ed Miliband said but a year before and he lost the election decisively because enough people were persuaded in the West Country to desert the Lib Dems and Labour party supporters could not tactically vote because they did not know what it would mean (last time it meant Tory). Cameron has played most of the Tories tactical moves. now the problem becomes a straight up issue of policy. Corbyn does have problems he is marmite man you either love him or hate him but polticially he has played a blinder in my view. he does not need declare anything because he is the opposition he does not need to have policies since he is not in power. he does not even need a brexit position although he clearly stated he would voe remain again and was sensible in his view of the EU giving it a 7/10. May could bring this all to a head and go for a second vote or say no deal or go for a minimal deal she is not doing any of these things because she has a party that is in power and split. they do not want a GE because it will not be about brexit it will be about how you put food on the table, how you pay for NHS, create housing after all we are leaving the EU are we not and whether we leave or not these are now issues and hence the MMT. people already think it is a done deal even if a majority believe it is not the best decision. The problem is that we kind of stuck in two forms of limbo, Brexit and Domestic policy

    What is clear is that they are being separated, this is in many ways interesting. You see leavers and tories being more about identity (immigration brexit ideas of nationality ) where as remainers and left leaning supporters are more about the economy, education and well being. The reality is the EU referendum has created a split which was identified by Lord Ashcroft it is more cultural and mirrors that of the US.

    I accept your hope is that the Tories don’t do a GOP route and in fairness they are beginning to have the debate. The interesting thing is for me is that they are not setting the agenda. They are reacting to it. Corbyn was in my view either lucky or inspired he is the anti austerity movement. it is for that reason that if you swapped him for anyone else I feel the Labour party will flop, he brings an enthusiasm that I don’t think that Cleverly will match for example. Does he have enough to push them over the hump I don’t know. Is there a Tory knight in shining armour that will fashion a new party policy that is distinctive from that of Labour? Again I don’t know but what I see at the moment is that both parties are in a form of chaos. but if you ask me which one I would prefer to be in at the moment. it would be easy to say Labour. They have less to contend with whilst th Tories look like ferrets fighting in a sack there is a level fo tribalism within the party that a cross between the pink panther and house of cards with a touch of the thick of it. Tories voters will by an large stick to their party, even if they don’t support any of the policies that what tribal politics is all about. labour has a similar set but you will find that the left are actually less tribal than people think and what is more there is a choice.

    My betting is that the next parliament is as hung as this one is I just don’t see either side giving making a big breakthrough and I feel that May will basically soldier on.

    I fear that we leave with a minimal deal because f we do not it will feel like a major climb down I think the EU have now given up the issue of RAL is going to be a real issue because it has become for the EU 27 a matter of principle almost as much a matter of pride as the UK government has sold the idea of not paying any RAL is.

    The trade deal will be independent of the money which is why I think there is a minimum deal. I am not sure of the fall out but i would suggest that in the short term there will be some winners (I think Nissan stays for example they have too much invested.) I think BMW stays but does final assembly as indicated in their approach with the mini I see an accelerated movement to eastern europe for the car industry anyway. As to services I see lots of energy to push EU centric policies to leverage the economies of scale and forsee a much harder road to the FTAs than I believe peopel had first thought. My problem is that we will soon find out it is not the EU which is our problem and that to me is the sad part of all of this

  24. “Clowns are entertaining.”

    No they’re not.

    [And that’s no way to talk about our Foreign Secretary by the way]

  25. it is good to see posters in such fine spirits today. It gets more like a remainer sunday mail every week on this site.especially where aggreived scots nats posters can vent their spleen now their dream of independence lies buried.

    I put it down also to an increased frustration from some posters that the Government is still in power, TM is still prime minister and jezza is making important decisions about whether to go for the latte or the Americano of a morning.

    It must also be frustrating that Brexit seems to be continuing a pace relentlessly ticking away to 2300 on the 29th of March. I am contemplating whether to have a bonfire party with Guy Barnier playing a prominent part.

    I fear that the various straws that posters clutch at will continue to of comfort to them in these dog days.

    But cheer up Chris can continue to smoke whatever he is smoking, hireton can look down on us from a croft on Mt Olympus and PC can continue being a poor mans old nat. so cheer up gentlemen and go and order your fireworks

  26. S Thomas,

    yes, other people have different views to you. Crikey.

  27. Racel’s succinctness makes a refreshing change from essays like PasstheRockplease’s. 1100 words! If I wanted to read anything that long I’d buy a book.

  28. @TREVOR WARNE

    here is my point

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2017/nov/14/theresa-may-ally-accuses-hammond-of-vetoing-politics-promoting-economic-justice-politics-live

    Steve hawkes and George Freeman arguing over the fact that we have a major issue regarding our economy brexit has become the issue which is why I think we will screw up whatever we plan (if we ever get to planning)

  29. Princess Rachel: So in summary the

    Talking of coups, the fascists have shut Princess Rachel down.

  30. Colin,

    “But only one country has reduced its population to starvation whilst possessing the worlds largest Oil Reserves.”

    The vast majority of which aren’t economically viable at the current oil price…

    It’s a bit like saying Scotland has the vast majority of the UK’s granite reserves… it’s true but it doesn’t mean you can make money from it.

    Peter

  31. @PETEB

    I never write for you but you seem to be able to count the words congratulations

  32. pete b

    “If I wanted to read anything that long I’d buy a book.”

    Or get stuck into one of Trevor’s posts.

  33. @TREVOR WARNE

    I agree with the fact that at a constituency level Leave had a majority indeed it brought up some very interesting conundrums. Maidenhead voted over 60% remain for example. but I doubt that May will vote against the bill.

    On the other hand voting against the bill and voting in favour of your party in a vote of confidence is not difficult to do. it says think again. Indeed you can vote against your own queens speech (cameron did when he forgot a piece of important legislation(oh for those comedic days)

    Basically MP can do what they like it is their club and so if they want to change the bill and yet keep the government afloat I could see them doing it indeed considering where we are at I suspect that will a normal set of events

    As I said interesting times

  34. Interesting evidence from Honda UK to the HoC Business Select Committee:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/14/honda-uk-warns-mps-of-consequences-of-leaving-eu-customs-union

  35. MPs vote specifically to repeal European Communities Act by majority of 250

    Close then :-)

  36. @ PTRP – Well if it had all gone to plan and May had won the GE with a comfortable majority then Hammond and Boris would both have gone by now.

    IMHO her attempt to form a x-Brexit coalition within the CON+DUP chaos was always going to be a mistake.

    The Frank Field approach is now impossible. IMHO the only option now is to form a united CON cabinet and for numerical and VI reasons that would be a Leave cabinet.
    I doubt she’ll do that which is why I think she might be replaced in Jan and/or we might well have a ref on terms in 2018.

    The replacement of like 4 like was an error in Osborne to Hammond. The Williamson for Fallon and Mordaunt for Patel are starting to look ridiculous.

    FWIW I thought Osborne was the right person at the right time but his time was over after he went nutter with his Project Fear absurd claims of emergency punishment budgets, etc.

  37. @ DANNY – automod knocking out my reply to you, must be some new word added to the naughty list?

    I think you mistake LAB for Remain picking up CDE types and that is 1-2% and in MoE territory. LAB VI hasn’t moved for months, despite all the -ve CON news.

  38. Trevor Warne

    re HoC votes

    Labour have, reportedly, turned only to practice their skills in mass abstention. :-)

    Though 1 Lab MP voted for the Plaid amendment that LCMs from the devolved chambers should be required.

  39. “turned” should have been “turned up”. Labour abstaining would certainly not be a “turn”! :-)

  40. s thomas: it is good to see posters in such fine spirits today. It gets more like a remainer sunday mail every week on this site.especially where aggreived scots nats posters can vent their spleen now their dream of independence lies buried.

    I put it down also to an increased frustration from some posters that the Government is still in power, TM is still prime minister and jezza is making important decisions about whether to go for the latte or the Americano of a morning.

    It must also be frustrating that Brexit seems to be continuing a pace relentlessly ticking away to 2300 on the 29th of March. I am contemplating whether to have a bonfire party with Guy Barnier playing a prominent part.

    I fear that the various straws that posters clutch at will continue to of comfort to them in these dog days.

    But cheer up Chris can continue to smoke whatever he is smoking, hireton can look down on us from a croft on Mt Olympus and PC can continue being a poor mans old nat. so cheer up gentlemen and go and order your fireworks
    Meanwhile the country becomes more divided by crowing hubris.

  41. @ OLDNAT – :-)

    I haven’t studied all the devolved nation amendments. They were never going to be given a veto but it was amusing to see LAB doing exactly what they slammed CON for doing. HoC has become a farce.

    I hope the devolved nation amendments that involve appropriate powers going to the devolved parliaments/assemblies pass but sadly I expect we’ll see LAB use the same tactic and CON don’t like sharing. Might end up in the courts if CON try to grab powers that cover areas devolved from Westminster?

    With Corbyn’s choice winning tomorrow it should be easy for SNP to show SLAB are ELAB and shore up the left vote under the NAT banner.

    While your on, what are your thoughts on the kind of terms SNP would need in order to provide C+S for a future LAB govt? More power, money and everything right up to accepting IndyRef2 (at SNP’s time of chosing)?

  42. Trevor Warne: @ OLDNAT – :-)

    While your on, what are your thoughts on the kind of terms SNP would need in order to provide C+S for a future LAB govt? More power, money and everything right up to accepting IndyRef2 (at SNP’s time of chosing)?

    I’ll have a go as a new Scot. I would not be in favour of C&S, it would have to be measure by measure support [is there a proper name for this?], as Labour is so flaky on brexit.

    As for the price, I would want substantial revision of brexit legislation and substantial constitutional reform of the Union such that a new parliament or parliaments dealt with E only or E & W issues [actually, there should no longer be E & W issues] and Westminster as we know it to deal with UK wide issues only. Plus powers for E or S or W or NI to declare their own Indyrefs. And may be AV rather than FPTP.

  43. Trevor Warne

    “what are your thoughts on the kind of terms SNP would need in order to provide C+S for a future LAB govt? More power, money and everything right up to accepting IndyRef2 (at SNP’s time of chosing)?”

    I haven’t the faintest idea what their shopping list would be!

    At the moment, thoughts seem to be concentrated most on protecting the Scottish economy from Brexit effects., and preventing powers that Holyrood already has being stripped away.

    I don’t know if you saw the chat between Davwel and me a few days ago?

    In Scotland, regardless of our preferences for an eventual constitutional restructuring in these islands, there is widespread opposition to the idea of Westminster/Whitehall simply imposing English-appropriate solutions on the rest of us.

    As TO suggests, it would be useful if England were to stop being Castilian Spain (but with better manners and worse weather).

    That’s probably the main difference between “Devo-Maxers” and “independistas”. The former still hope that the UK political class can change their ways. The latter have decided that there is little hope of such a conversion to democracy ever happening.

  44. BBC News:

    “Several Tory MPs have joined Labour in demanding Theresa May withdraw a key Brexit legislation amendment to set the exact time of EU departure in law.

    Ministers say being “crystal clear” about when the UK will leave on 29 March 2019 will give maximum certainty.

    But ex-chancellor Ken Clarke said the move was “silly” while Dominic Grieve said it would “fetter” ministers’ hands if talks dragged on to the last minute.

    Labour has branded it a “gimmick” and said it will vote against it.”

    Uh oh!

  45. In summary I’m easily distracted

  46. More from the Conservative camp:

    “former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve said that fixing the precise time of withdrawal at this stage would “fetter” the government’s hands if negotiations dragged on longer than expected and the process needed to be extended in order to reach an agreement.

    Describing it as a “mad” idea that had not been discussed by the cabinet, he said it had been “accompanied by blood-curdling threats that anyone who might stand in its way was somehow betraying the country’s destiny”.

    “I am afraid I am just not prepared to go along with it,” he told MPs.

    And former chancellor Ken Clarke, the only Tory to vote against triggering Brexit, condemned what he said were “silly amendments thrown out” solely to get positive coverage in Brexit-supporting newspapers.”

  47. It’s odd the number of pro brexit MPs who know exactly what the main reason was that the voted so decisively to leave.

    Even odder is the fact that all the main reasons are different.

  48. ON @ 9.40 pm

    I support what you say. And add I would be in the Devo-max group.

    TO @ 9.25 pm

    I strongly disagree with your wanting a parliament for England. This will play into the hands of the far-right in Southern England, who will insist on their sovereignity overruling Northerners even if just being in power by 2-3% of the England vote. The folk like ToH and ST will be delighted, these Southerners are the special ones intrinsically gifted for ruling but oblivious of problems outwith their home regions.

    And the upshot will be that this strong power in England will much influence and curtail what actually happens in Scotland.

    Instead, I want regional assemblies and decisions within England. Which might sometimes allow co-operation between the NE, NW and Scotland unimpeded by the Southern Tories. .

  49. PETER CAIRNS

    @”It’s a bit like saying Scotland has the vast majority of the UK’s granite reserves”

    You do come out with some daft things.

    I can see where the SNP benches at Westminster get it from.

  50. PETER CAIRNS

    You forgot to mention that getting on for half of Venezuela’s oil sales go to China and Russia as payment on more than $50 billion in loans.

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