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. “For example, the Commission would allow nationalisation of passenger and/or freight railway services but not the infrastructure. Or they would insist of not having a state owned monopoly controlling the whole of the railway system.”

    I think this is completely wrong. With Network rail, we have effectively had a form of nationalised railway infrastructure since 1992, after the failure of the private company Railtrack. The takeover was not subject to any form of market competition and remains unchallenged by the EU.

    While Art. 176 of the TFEU commits member states to the expansion of markets, Art. 345 states “The Treaties shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States governing the system of property ownership.” I gather that the ECJ has on occasion ignored Art. 345, but equally the Commission has taken a lenient view of member states in this area, respecting their rights to decide on such matters without recourse to legal action.

    In fact, on railways, I think the complete opposite is true. The infrastructure can be nationalised, but the services must be given out on a competitive basis. State enterprises can bid for these, but on an equal footing, and there is existing case law where rail contracts to state companies have been ruled illegal.

  2. danny: re electric cars ….
    But in particular, they point out the pollution is taken away from cities where there are lots of cars emitting smoke and instead goes to wherever the power stations are making smoke. The outcome depends a lot on what fuel is usd to generate electricity, with the worst being coal.

    Although the technology does open the possibility of running cars on wind or solar. And there are interesting proposals for electric car owners to be parked up on grid and effectively rent out battery capacity to transfer daytime solar excess to night time.

  3. @ DANNY – we are in the EU and therefore rely on the EC to negotiate trade deals on our behalf.

    “Maintaining trade with the EU involves total compliance with EU decisions as if we were a member, so whats the gain in leaving?”

    NO. It does not. Equivalence ensures a minimum common standard of regulation, countries can have domestic regulations higher and IMHO the EU have been very slow and very unwilling to open up not just the EU services market but also put it back of the queue in trade deals with other countries – lots of info on that if you want to look into it yourself. Its been a problem since the 1980s but the EU propaganda machine keep a lot of people believing the EU are something that a little bit of investigating shows that they are not.

  4. Nick P

    “And save yourself the embarrassment of making further cretinous posts.”

    I gather somebody posted something you didn’t like. I find this sort of response typical of the left but not the right in politics.

  5. P.S. The obvious recent example being CETA of course but lots of other countries and companies somehow manage to trade with the EU without being part of the EU or having total compliance with EU decisions

  6. Leaving aside the debate about whether electric cars are less polluting (which IMO lies at the bottom of the same bucket as the one which says bicyles cause pollution by making cars go slower), why anybody thinks that electrification of the car fleet will make existing factories redundant is beyond me.
    Tesla is currently engaged in proving that producing large numbers of cars is pretty difficult: it’s a sight easier if you use factories and workers and processes and logistics that have been developed over decades

  7. TOH – looking forward to the rugby today? Going to be a tough game against a very good Australia but certainly going to be a fantastic game to watch.

  8. The Other Howard: I gather somebody posted something you didn’t like. I find this sort of response typical of the left but not the right in politics.

    That is probably either because the whole of politics is to the left of you [eg Trump], or you have a sort of confirmation bias which classifies everything you dislike as leftist


    I just read what he is reported as saying:-

    “In 2006, McDonnell said that “Marx, Lenin and Trotsky” were his “most significant” intellectual influences.[15] In the past, McDonnell has been open about his support for Marxism by saying to his supporters “I’m straight up, I’m honest with people. I’m a Marxist”. ”


    Is this incorrect?

    No mention of a Mr. Watson.

    I agree that “young people” are angry. Some of it is just……….young people being angry………..its what they do-wake up & find the world full of unfairnesses .

    But some of it is personal. Housing I suspect is in there big time.

    Cons have to get smarter about the young or Corby will keep them fired up.. I read the news of Rudd & the newer Con MPs ; Nick Boles’ Square Deal & so on. But new thinking is fine it -is policies we need.

    So that’s down to Hammond & May. My worry about him is his poor political antennae. Hers are fine-but she doesn’t seem able to act on them.

    Anyway -the Polls don’t yet indicate a Marxian Second Coming. But it is simmering away quietly :-)

  10. @Danny – a couple of points – “Trump favours keeping coal in the US, and the economics back him whether or not the poluution concerns do.”

    This is actually incorrect. The primary reason for coal’s decline in the US is that it is uneconomic. Trump can change environmental legislation, but it won’t change these underly!ng fundamentals.

    On the EV vs petrol debate, you are, along with economists who wrote this research, making a fundamental error. It’s not the EV side of things that is creating the pollution, but the grid supply industry. Rather than tackle EV’s tackle the power supply.

    That aside, it is an interesting bit of research. I’ve personally done a full analysis of a Nissan Leaf EV, based on actual user experience, miles driven, charge amount etc, and compared this to a comparable petrol version, where I used the published mpg figures, which are always overestimated.

    Using the UK grid supply emissions data, the EV provides substantially lower emissions (running only, didn’t look at construction or disposal).

    The other point about the quoted research into the US EV scene is what account the authors took of time of charging. They say they “… also knew the hourly emissions profiles for the five target pollutants at 1,486 power plants across the U.S. So for each county they knew how the grid responded when an EV plugged in, which told them how much environmental damage that car produced at the power plant.”

    I can’t access the actual research article, so we don’t know how they allocated charge time in terms of time of day, which can make a major difference. Central to this issue is the inflexibility of coal fired stations.

    These have to burn constantly to maintain efficiency, so tend to provide base demand 24/7 (assuming the US system operates like the UK system does). This means that if EV’s weren’t going to use power overnight, then there would be very little emissions savings, as the coal generators wouldn’t stop burning. It’s a bit like emissions from air miles – aside from a little additional weight, it’s the flight that creates the emissions, not an individual passenger, and only when more passengers means more flights (eg capacity above 100%) is there a direct link between emissions and passengers.

    It may well be that using more EV’s charging overnight doesn’t actually add anything to overall emissions, but only that existing emissions are now being allocated to EV’s instead of being dumped off the grid in other less productive ways. If more EV’s means more generation capacity, then once again we come back to the problem of the generation industry causing the problem, not EV’s.

    The key point however, is that this research is US specific. It simply doesn’t apply in the UK. It’s also likely to become less relevant over time, as market forces are squeezing coal out, even in the US.

  11. @Danny – the point made by @TO is another issue not taken into account by the report authors.

    The UK (and elsewhere) are currently spending lots on money on grid balancing systems, bulk scale battery banks, short period capacitor stores and other forms of power storage and demand flexing systems.

    EV cars can do this very straightforwardly, and at no cost to the grid network or taxpayer. Millions of batteries being able to flex demand and initiate reverse flows on demand would effectively mean a completely new type of reversible generation that could greatly help balance the future grid.

  12. Colin
    Re: Watson
    You missed the ‘humourous’ exchanges between Laszlo, TO and me late last night. Shame on you!

  13. TCO

    “Sh!t, no Sherlock”

    Very good.

  14. Trevor Warne

    “TOH – looking forward to the rugby today? Going to be a tough game against a very good Australia but certainly going to be a fantastic game to watch.”

    Yes indeed, really looking forward to it. Should be a good game whatever the result.

  15. TechnicolourOctober

    I was merely making the point that really unpleasant comments like the one I referred to seem to come exclusively from the left who post here at the moment. I note you do not deny this.

    I don’t understand your comment about Trump, his politics and mine have about as much in common as mine with yours.

  16. I will happily watch the big Wales and Scotland matches on BBC (or possibly S4C for the former) without forking out for Sky. The highlights (of which there may be few!) of that other little match will be on BBC tonight.

  17. The Other Howard: TechnicolourOctober – I don’t understand your comment about Trump, his politics and mine have about as much in common as mine with yours.

    Youe are making out I have the same politics as Trump? Ouch!

  18. Richard Leonard elected leader of Scottish Labour with 56.7 per cent of the vote

  19. In the most predictable event of the year, Leonard wins the “Scottish” Labour leadership and the far-left grip on the NEC tightens further.

  20. TOH – I shall also be supporting Wales and Scotland in their games. Wales were very unlucky last week, without Beale’s flukey try it could have been a different outcome. Should be an easy one for them this week but they have two great games after that. Scotland’s game last week was a great game to watch as well – very tough game for them today but I’ll be supporting Scotland for sure.

  21. Trev
    Are you virtue signalling, or are you Welsh and/or Scottish?

  22. @ TW
    “In the most predictable event of the year, Leonard wins the “Scottish” Labour leadership and the far-left grip on the NEC tightens further.”

    Wales is now the last bastion of Old “New” Labour!


    Trevor do you have any evidence that the new leader of Scottish Labour is “far left”?

    Or are you saying that just because he has a union background?

    And do you mean “far left” in absoute terms or just far to the left of you yourself?

  24. Trevor Warne,
    “we are in the EU and therefore rely on the EC to negotiate trade deals on our behalf. ”

    Not sure what point you are seeking to make, because I suspect you are trying to make an anti eU one. Whereas you just observed that currently we benefit from the clout of a very large trading block behind all the trade deals we get, which we will lose if we leave the EU. Future deals will be less advantageous.

    And then you say that EU standards are just minima, and we can make more complex ones. Again I agree, but we do that already and the point of leaving was supposedly that we no longer need comply with these EU minima. But we will have to.

    Its a fallacy to assume we would benefit from a completeley open market, We would not. What we would see is yet more destruction of home industry.

  25. @ TE – is that a serious question?

    Far left is a relative term but clearly Leonard is “further” left than Sanwar (and Dugdale).

    I expect SLAB will get a small honeymoon type bounce if we get any Scotland polls but SNP and SLAB look now set on a battle to see who can push “furthest” left.

    The question come the next GE will be whether “left” Scottish voters vote for the party that will give them the highest voice in Westminster or whether they want full Westminster. Leonard has been very clear about no pact with SNP so if Scots want a voice then the choice would seem obvious.

    CON’s bung to DUP further highlights the power of being a kingmaker. Given LAB’s approach to Brexit, SNP will be after a lot of cash, power, etc to support Corbyn and given the reckless view on debt that LAB now have Corbyn IMHO will happily pay out. He’ll obviously deny the need for any kind of C+S pact but without Scotland the task of a clean LAB majority is very difficult.

    IMHO the risk fro SNP is Salmond+co. getting a little too energetic again and push too soon. IMHO Nicola will have learnt her lesson in the recent GE and pick her timing carefully. Keep independence ticking over on the back burner but not make it #1 priority just yet.

  26. @ DANNY – after picking one obvious fact and quoting it you then seem to be replying to someone else’s post or arguing with yourself? You then confuse trade in goods with trade in services?

    @ JONESINBANGOR – watch out, you might be next. Carwyn Jones doesn’t appear to be a full Corbynista so they’ll be coming for him in due course I suspect :-)

  27. Alec,
    it would seem that environmental attacks on coal usage in the US go back at least as far as 1970’s. I imagine they have the same effect as us, that a power plant operating from gas is less polluting and potentially cheaper, given apparently a rise in the availability of gas due to fracking in the US. (in the UK of course, north sea) Thus as plants reach the end of their life, they tend to convert to gas. But this doesnt really alter the issue that petrol exhaust pollution is being swapped for power station pollution. I dont know whether the US has the same issue that occurred in the Uk, of importing coal from abroad because it was cheaper than home production? (so production would fall, even as usage was maintained)

    I’m not clear how polluting electric vehicles are per se, ie in manufacturing terms rather than usage terms, compared to petrol vehicles. Those batteries might be troublesome in terms of pollution, or maybe very recycleable.

    There might be potential for clever schemes such as using the national car fleet as a reserve power system, but this surely implies high current charging points at every home and office in the nation. Quite an undertaking. I dont know if this realistically makes sense, or not.

    The principles of the report seem eminently transferrable to the Uk. We are smaller which implies less separation of the pollution by area, but its still swapping one sort for another, and that is precisely the class of problem which arose from the switch to diesel.

  28. Re Young voters and Labour.

    There appears to me 2 strands to this.

    First, JC and the centre-left platform (how left wing? not now please) has attracted the young and also many middle aged former abstainers to the Labour party.

    Secondly, continuing austerity and more specifically the uneven impact of austerity, plus for some an obstensibly hard Brexit Tory position has driven the young (and former abstainers) to the polling both to vote ABT.

    Both are true imo but I tend towards the view that while Labours 2017 manifesto was acceptable many of their new voters, there are limits as the many of the young as just peed off.

    Some ROC posters, as is their prerogative, will disagree but as a mainstream Labour Party member I do not consider the current platform to be indulgently ideologically left wing. I do hope that the policy programme can stay within those boundaries and also the implied manifesto as attempts to portray the party as left-wing zealots with a hidden statist agenda will be widespread in the media.

  29. 56.7% is not that wide of a margin, would tend to indicate that the SLAB membership is a bit out of step with the party South of the border. Would like to see the actual number of votes but judging by the % I’m guessing the recruitment drive connected with the leadership contest hasn’t been that successful.

  30. A while ago people were discussing house prices. I mentioned a policy to allow LA’s to buy land at current cost and then allocate it for housing, selling the land onto developers at the new inflated price, using the planning gain for the provision of the required services.

    This article says the same thing, and provides an interesting historical perspective –

    It turns out Winston Churchill campaigned for something very similar in 1909 (well know red that he was) and the Town and Country Planning and new Towns acts in the 1940’s finally delivered the ability for councils to buy development land at current cost.

    The Conservatives did away with this in 1961 under MacMillan, under pressure from landowners, and this is what has set the scene for our staggering inability to build enough homes at cheap enough prices.

    Easily rectified, if we learn to face down entrenched vested interests on the landed gentry and the land speculators in favour of the interests of all the other citizens.

    Or is that a bit leftie?

  31. @ RACHEL –
    Candidate Party members Registered supporters Affiliated supporters Total
    Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes %
    Richard Leonard Green tick 9,150 51.8% 38 48.1% 3,281 77.3% 12,469
    Anas Sarwar 8,514 48.2% 41 51.9% 961 22.7% 9,516

  32. That didn’t link very well. You can see it on Wiki:,_2017

  33. TW

    “In the most predictable event of the year, Leonard wins the “Scottish” Labour leadership and the far-left grip on the NEC tightens further.”

    Ooooh! Scary!!!

  34. Breaking: New Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has told @STVNews his predecessor Kezia Dugdale may be suspended from the party in the next few days.

    Whether this has to do with Kez leaving the country to film “I’m a Celebrity. Get me out of here” or not, is not yet known.

    However, those who missed this year’s SLab leadership election should be assured that there will probably be another one next year,

  35. Trevor

    Thanks, not good numbers for Scottish labour, membership is about a 6th of SNP membership. And that’s after trying to recruit more members during the leadership contest. The membership they do have is almost evenly divided between left and right, the union affiliate votes made the vote look like an easy win but in reality it was very close.

  36. COLIN-
    “It is policies we need.”
    And policy implementation with a purpose of reducing inequality over a period of at least a decade, perhaps two.
    The degree of loss of access to home ownership or affordable rental, of income differential and denial of the need to make investments in public infrastructure, especially in areas of high immigration and dependency of the economy on migrants, did not take place overnight. Nor will overturning and reversing it.

  37. Just gobsmacking:

    If I’m reading that right, every time there are 5 paydays in a month (so every third month in general), some people loose UC and have to reapply, presumably waiting 6 weeks to get their money.

    Absolutely barking.


    My impression from my own grandchildren is that “Inequality” is a good word for summing up the ABT feeling which Jim Jam identifies among them.

    Clearly it is a catchall word ,But accepting ( some don’t of course) that Total Equality amongst human beings of diverse character & aptitude is neither possible nor desirable outside a Totalitarian State , this still leaves a massive area of Public Policy in which to look for a ( in my view) a better quality-Fairness.

    But this takes explanation-why do we think policy X is “fair”-why do we disagree that Y or Z aren’t really unfair. Con. politicians rarely if ever bother with this sort of discourse with voters. It is absolutely key to the young vote in my view -just throwing money at them won’t achieve anything. They so often see things in a moralistic black & white sort of way. And Corbyn’s populist approach capitalises on that. Con politicians have to get much smarter at explaining the options & limits of policy within the constraints of Public Finances.

    Regrettably too , the small , administrative unfairnesses all too often are allowed to fester-and become yet another bullet in Corby’ns populist appeal. There is one kicking around this morning on UC to do with variability for weekly paid people. I know Ministers can’t be responsible for every problem in policy delivery but allowing some administrative flaw which a bunch of well paid civill servants are airily dismissing, to continue impacting the vulnerable is just crass.

    The point of elected politicians is to understand the effect of their policies-as well as the theory.

    And to communicate reasons for Policy.

  39. B&B

    Thats the one I was referring to.

    Why the hell does the system WORK like that?

    If this is true-and numbers of people are inconvenienced-Fix It ffs. !

  40. Colin, whilst I am not suggesting your personal vote is soft I have previously raised the point that the mature tory VI may reduce as the “old style Conservative supporters” grapple with the realities of a party that gives the impression of just not caring.

  41. No surprise in new Scottish Labour leader white English privately educated and a former head of economics for the Scottish Trades Union Congress.
    No wonder the other bloke didn’t stand a chance.

  42. Turk, see above, the vote was quite close.

  43. Colin

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. What some are referring to as flaws in UC are in fact design features.

  44. Colin – yes.

    I don’t see an desire to throw away the system amongst the young or a wish for total equality of outcomes.

    What you called fairness and I called uneven impact of austerity is the main driver imo.

    Trevor is hopeful (I trust I am not misrepresenting) that a few initiatives here and there from the Tories will attract enough of these back to the Tories or at least stem the flow.

    My take is that, just as Labour being Austerity Light satisfied neither those who wished to disavow austerity or those who believed in it, ‘fairness light’ from the Tories won’t be appealing enough, although it may make a few comfortably off voters who think they go too far sometimes reassess.

    The bigger risk for me is Labour moving down a statist route with nationalisation for the sake of it etc, leading to some new supporters questioning their choice.

    In simple terms I am arguing for consolidation with refinement where necessary to adapt to developments from Labour; and, not to worry about having to shift to re-widen the gap with Tory policy if the Tories move a tad left.

  45. If the story about UC is true, it is absolutely ludicrous. If people are paid weekly, they should be assessed on a weekly (or more likely 4-weekly) basis to avoid stupid anomalies because of monthly assessments. That should be pretty easy to change.

  46. Pete B/Colin,

    Maybe UC roll out should have been paused to allow proper assessment of pilots?

    Or hold on that would just be opportunistic opposition.


    @”If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. What some are referring to as flaws in UC are in fact design features.”

    It shouldn’t be DESIGNED to cause difficulty.

    It should be DESIGNED to encourage work.

  48. JIM JAM

    @”My take is that, just as Labour being Austerity Light satisfied neither those who wished to disavow austerity or those who believed in it, ‘fairness light’ from the Tories won’t be appealing enough,”

    Absolutely agree.

    And its not a short term “project” -as JP says.

    @”The bigger risk for me is Labour moving down a statist route with nationalisation for the sake of it etc, leading to some new supporters questioning their choice.”

    Well my feeling is that this is McDonnell’s intention. His vision is old fashioned Command Economy/Government knows best Statism.

    But we won;t know till he is inside No.11.

  49. JIM JAM

    @”Maybe UC roll out should have been paused to allow proper assessment of pilots?”

    If the computer programme has to be tweaked I’m guessing that is a serious wait. Maybe thats where the resistance emanates from ??

    But if the system keeps on delivering stress & difficulty to a significant minority it will just keep feeding Corbyn’s agenda………and the Tories are heartless meme.

  50. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told the Press Association MSP Kezia Dugdale should not be suspended from the party for going on reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! (Press Association)

    A nice early demonstration of Leonard’s status as branch manager.

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