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.


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

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  1. @Jim Jam

    attempts to portray the party as left-wing zealots with a hidden statist agenda will be widespread in the media.

    ————————————————————

    And attempts to portray Labour as left-wing zealots are pretty widespread here on UKPR.

    I think of its practitioners as afflicted by RUBS (Reds Under the Beds Syndrome).

    Some even seem to think that JC is a latter-day Manchurian Candidate and McDonnell a sinister puppet master.

    Quite funny really.

  2. MarkW

    “The vote was quite close”

    Well if you call getting 56.7% of the vote on a 62.3% turnout close ,personally I’d call that a walk over.

  3. It is pretty clear that, should Corbyn/McDonnell and up in Downing Street, they are not going to be like Blair/Brown with the luxury of a landslide majority.

    Whatever plans McDonnell may or may not have too refashion the British economy, he won’t have enough MPs onside to get his way.

  4. I would call the Labour leader vote in Scotland fairly close.

    It will be interesting to see how he does I suppose.

  5. As one new leader steps forward another steps down – or so we are told, Gerry Adams. He will announce something tonight at 9pm.

    You can watch his speech online on BBC2 NI at 9pm. Love how he schedules his conference speech so it goes out live on prime time.

    I am a little skeptical of whether he will ACTUALLY stand down.

    Remembering his approach in the decommissioning saga, it seems more likely that he will indicate “a strategy for a process in which to take forward a historic commitment commitment to stand down when the conditions are right”, etc.

  6. Valarie,

    I think I would insert ‘probably’ in to your post above as Trump, Brexit and the last GE result have dented ‘pretty clear’ and similar prefaces accuracy.

    ”It is pretty clear that, should Corbyn/McDonnell and up in Downing Street, they are not going to be like Blair/Brown with the luxury of a landslide majority.”

  7. Colin

    If you didn’t see the House of Lords debate on UC the other day, it would be worth looking at the Hansard record.
    Patrick Cormack (Conservative) was particularly devastating, I thought, as he was able to read off a list of problems quoting a relative who is a vicar in Lancashire, whose parishioners live with the effects of UC’s failures day in day out.
    The junior government minister given the job of replying seems to have completely ignored everything said during the debate and merely re-stated the aims of UC without seeming to acknowledge any problems.
    As you say – if this is allowed to continue it will be Theresa May’s Poll Tax (though in her case, hardly her fault, perhaps).

  8. Re: Gerry Adams

    Well, with the Conservative government doing everything in its power to undermine the Belfast Agreement by refusing to talk seriously with our EU partners about what is to happen post Brexit, Gerry probably thinks he’s on a hiding to nothing trying to be a democrat…..

    Or perhaps he can see the approaching end of all his struggles to bring about a united Ireland, as it would appear to be the only possible outcome of said UK government policy.

  9. MarkW

    It was because as usual for Labour when electing leaders the union vote was crucial Trade Union affiliates voted 77% to 23% in favour of Leonard why because brother McCluskey’s Unite backed him.
    Sarwar never had a chance.

  10. JOHN B

    Thanks.

  11. @Jim Jam

    Fair point. We live in interesting times.

  12. I do think you are probably right though Valarie but it won’t stop the scaremongering

  13. One interesting aspect of the SLab leadership announcement is that, for the first time they have published some numbers as well as %s.

    Of course, it’s been done in a way that still hides the actual number of members – which is why they stopped publishing numbers originally – the 62.3% turnout is a % of all those who could have voted – whether members, supporters or affiliates. It seems likely (though we don’t know for sure) that a higher % of members rather than those just affiliated via their union membership, would have voted.
    Only 6% were those who had paid to vote (so would have little effect anyway) [1] They split 52/48 for Sarwar
    75% of those voting were SLab members – they split 52/48 for Leonard.
    19% were Affiliated supporters (so mainly TU) – they split 72/23 for Leonard.

    What may well play more importantly in Scottish politics is “Kezgate”.

    Abandoning your position as an MSP to head off to eat cockroaches (or whatever) in Oz as a “celebrity” is probably against the rules of most political parties. Considering her suspension would seem to be inevitable (though a little embarrassing, perhaps).

    For Corbyn to undercut the new SLab leader so publicly and so quickly, will certainly be seen as a slap-down to any ideas that SLab has any autonomy.

    It may not have been meant that way. It’s entirely possible that Corbyn was just giving an “off the cuff” comment, without remembering who he is and who Leonard and Dugdale are (if he ever knew).

    A trivial matter in Islington, no doubt – but then, that’s part of the problem.

    [1] This is perhaps why the numbers were published. In the bitter battle of this election, much was being made of Sarwar’s side signing up voters, while Leonard’s supporters were accused of controlling the TU vote. In the next Slab leadership struggle, the right wing will deploy the numbers to seek a rule change.

  14. Opinium/Observer:

    CON 40 (=)
    LAB 42 (=)
    LD 6 (+1)
    UKIP 5 (=)

    14th-16th Nov

  15. Trevor Warne

    Hope you enjoyed the England match. It was a tough game, in awful conditions, with England ahead, but rather luckily for 65 minutes. Two Aussie tries disallowed, correctly but still choking for them, and an English try which probably should have been disallowed but wasn’t. However when the English finishers came on they blew Australia away with 10 minutes of superb rugby in which they scored three tries. Danny care made two with beautiful kicks in to space and scored a third set up by Johnny May.

    Wales were pushed all the way by Samoa and Scotland went down fighting against the All Blacks. Ireland and Fiji are currently 23-20, with 5 minutes to go. Much improved Fiji side really taking it to Ireland.

  16. Opinium poll seems to support the ICM poll showing that the Conservatives dreadful fortnight, losing two cabinet ministers seems to have had zero effect on the voters.

    I suspect May is quite chuffed at those two polls.

  17. Colin

    On McDonnell

    It doesn’t really belong here (on the other hand very much does so).

    Labour’s key policies are based on the: maintaining the system, while correcting it with government interventions. It is fair enough, but the government interventions would be driven by consumption and not production (what these policies contain about production has absolutely no supporting evidence in research – actually just the opposite).

    My comment on Weston (apologies again for the autocorrect) was that the view and the underlying assumptions of the governance of the economic system by McDonnell is no different from Weston with some Keynesianism (at its worse) and a good proportion of economic nationalism driven by corporatism.

    Considering the number of left leaning academics (and many of them are very practical in their outlook), the ignorance of the leadership of the Labour Party about it is just astonishing.

    So, the key policies of the Labour Party in economics is basically Lassalleian small town (or small region) focused approach ignoring cross-industry, and cross-regional relationship. it’s really medieval. It’s difficult to detect this as they use a Keynesian language to present it.

    Because of the electoral distribution they take sides with the disadvantaged – this is good, and an absolute must, but in terms of economic policy it is directly translated to taking side with the phased out (they promise compensation for the losing, thus they are increasing the time of suffering). Moreover, they plainly refuse to listen to the meaningful contribution of these people (these workers are extremely knowledgeable): I was in an industrial plant where one of the Corbynite leaders talked about industrial policy, but when the workers actually came up with some smart solutions, it was cut off by saying “we will find the money to maintain [the existing model that has no future] your job].” Well, it’s the second best.

    The problem with Labour’s economic policy is that if they follow it, it will lead to bankruptcy (it’s not to say that the conservative one doesn’t), and if they don’t follow it, I really don’t know what comes after that (as there is no Marxist party for solid social reasons), but I don’t really want to see it.

    So McDonnell is not a second Marxist coming, and although there are causes for such a thing, the intermediary mediators (the more concrete causes) are simply not there. It’s the ideology of sentimentalism.

  18. Laszlo

    Thanks.

    I think Mr McDonnell is keeping his real cards face down-for fear of frightening the horses.

  19. Yes ToH,

    Time to trot out Amber’s Polldrums.

  20. Colin

    I’m sure that we all are quite prepared to believe that you do, actually, think that!

  21. I have just had my sister to stay. She is extremely unhappy with the way the conservatives are governing the county but fears an economic disaster if McDonnell gets his hands on the levers of power, On this latter point she is obviously of common mind with Colin and I asked her what she thought McDonnell would do if he got his way that would be so disastrous. She said that she did not know what he would do but that everyone said that he would be a disaster. I also don’t know what he would do but am less willing to believe that he would be a disaster simply because he is influenced by Marx and many papers don’t like him. After all the Chinese are influenced by Marx and at tbe moment they are not doing badly, although the Marxist North Koreans are, Can anyone give me a reasoned analysis of what McDonnell will do and why it is certain to be a calamity?.

  22. Interesting my darling wife has just popped her head around the door to tell me there’s a cottonmouth snake in the hen house, I’ve just had a look rather bigger than the grass snakes back home and a lot more dangerous I blame Trump there seems to be more snakes around since he got in.

  23. Lazslo

    “It doesn’t really belong here (on the other hand very much does so).”

    Oooo….. Solo Quibble !!!

    I suppose there could be a market for it.

  24. Charles,

    The Chinese government seem to be much more influenced by Gordon Gecko and Pinochet than by Marx.

  25. Interesting perspective on the Ireland strand of the Brexit negotiations:

    https://www.rte.ie/amp/920981/

    It seems that the UK Government has been leaden footed, too narrowly focused, and cloth eared and the Irish Government has played its hand cleverly.

  26. profhoward: Gerry Adams. I am a little skeptical of whether he will ACTUALLY stand down.

    John B: Well, with the Conservative government doing everything in its power to undermine the Belfast Agreement by refusing to talk seriously with our EU partners about what is to happen post Brexit, Gerry probably thinks he’s on a hiding to nothing trying to be a democrat…..

    Or perhaps he can see the approaching end of all his struggles to bring about a united Ireland, as it would appear to be the only possible outcome of said UK government policy.

    Obviously, he won’t give up influence, but I think he sees that the advantage now very much lies in making way for someone who has less baggage standing in the way of being perceived as a democrat.

    I think he and McGuinness had this gamed out already when they collapsed the NI executive, not to get suckered into the NI Assembly giving Legislative Consent to brexit. RHI is something of a pretext, I imagine that the inquiry will be done in time to get the Assembly running again in time to put the LCM, so hence we have Irish Language Rights as a back up.

    DUP have not been very bright, I feel. If Arlene Foster had stood down for RHI, it would have been very difficult for SF to collapse the executive. I don’t think DUP are very honest in claiming not to want a hard land border – I suspect that they would be happy with that outcome but can’t be seen to want that.

    And now Varadkar has put ROI in the centre, with its own demands which take the heat off the EU to a small extent. If the logic is was not clear on the supposition that ROI would not play hardball, it is nw very clear:

    Hard land border => No SM, CU, EEA or trade deal for UK
    Hard sea border => SM and CU or EEA required for NI, Canada deal possible for UK

    Not a lot of room for manoeuvre for the UK any longer. And I reckon that unless the UK climbs does enough to avoid both hard borders, Irish reunification is now the closest it has been in my lifetime. You bet Gerry Adams is standing down.
    No hard borders => EEA minimum required for UK
    No

  27. Sorry, mangled last para – should be

    And now Varadkar has put ROI in the centre, with its own demands which take the heat off the EU to a small extent. If the logic is was not clear on the supposition that ROI would not play hardball, it is nw very clear:

    Hard land border => No SM, CU, EEA or trade deal for UK
    Hard sea border => SM and CU or EEA required for NI, Canada deal possible for UK
    No hard borders => EEA minimum required for UK

    Not a lot of room for manoeuvre for the UK any longer. And I reckon that unless the UK climbs does enough to avoid both hard borders, Irish reunification is now the closest it has been in my lifetime. You bet Gerry Adams is standing down.

  28. Sun apoplectic about Varadkar. Not linking directly, you can read about it here and use the key phrase ‘brexit buffoon’ to find the source.

    http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/brexit-buffoon-uk-tabloid-the-sun-tells-varadkar-to-shut-his-gob-in-scathing-editorial-814764.html

    Interestingly, the Sun editorial is saying The effects of a “hard Brexit” could be catastrophic.

  29. So I was wrong: Gerry Adams was very clear. He will not lead the party into the next conference and so will be replaced early next year. He will also not stand again as an MP (or TD in Irish).

    At the same conference SF have voted for a big change in their abortion policy, and that is in fact divisive for them I believe.

    It seems SF is adopting a position that may be more popular in leftist Dublin circles than traditionalist rural ones.

    I am not sure if SF will do better without Adams as leader, or if it will be a bit divided without him. Transition can be hard when a big figure stands down.

  30. I imagine Kez doesn’t care – she is moving on from politics I guess.

  31. I think Varadkar’s position and that Sun article is very good news for Fine Gael in the Republic. He needs to stand up at this time for his own country’s interests. It remains to be seen how strong he will be when it comes to the crunch. Weakness will kill him and his party electorally.

  32. How awful that a British newspaper would tell the Irish Prime Minster to “shut his gob”.

    Embarrassing.

  33. Prof Howard

    Good to see you back.

    Agreed about Kez though in sticking 2 fingers up to SLab, she is doing the same to SLab voters in Lothian, which is unfortunate.

    In reality, of course, her office staff will actually deal with any problems referred to her (not that many for a List MSP – constituency MSPs get most of the caseload), and a SLab MSP more or less won’t make a significant difference to votes at Holyrood.

  34. @TOH

    “Opinium poll seems to support the ICM poll showing that the Conservatives dreadful fortnight, losing two cabinet ministers seems to have had zero effect on the voters.

    I suspect May is quite chuffed at those two polls.”

    She’d be even more chuffed if Labour were 15 points ahead as that would make her job even more secure.

    Strange world we live in when someone’s position is more secure the worse they do in their job.

    Time for May to start worrying when the Tories take a small lead in the polls.

    Methinks May and her team are useless enough for there to be no chance of that happening any time soon.

    As I said a few days ago. Polls are pointless at the moment as normal politics have been suspended until after March 2019.

  35. @Bill Patrick The Chinese government seem to be much more influenced by Gordon Gecko and Pinochet than by Marx.

    it may appear that way! But then again they will surely have read Marx and McDonnell will have read things other than Marx. So the question is what will McDonnell actually do if he gets power?

  36. I liked Kez’s pluckiness. She could be a bit hit and miss but she was a good fighter. And I thought she had a lot thrown at her. Such a tough profession she went into.

    In fact I think the same of all three of the female Scottish leaders.

    I don’t know if this new guy will be better. Perhaps it will work to take on party-of-government SNP from the trade-union left if that’s what he is. Don’t know. really.

  37. @TOH

    Given the party which leads the ‘Best PM’ and ‘Best Party on the Economy’ tends to win a GE, TM must be happy. TM is level with JC as ‘Best PM’ and the Conservatives are comfortably ahead on the economy.

    Of course, the next few years will be bl**dy awful for the Government, but they have quite an easy fix – leave TM in Number 10 until the final deal is done, then replace her with someone from a younger generation, without the baggage.

    Labour need to persuade voters that JC is the best choice for PM and they are best the economy, a harder proposition in my view. I think JC has an edge on TM, but the next GE won’t see the Conservative led by her, but a fresh face.

    The current Labour poll lead is no comfort, as Ed Miliband led the polls for long periods quite comfortably, and that ended badly for him in the final reckoning. Quite simply too few people saw him as PM material, and by the 2015 GE the Conservatives had a big lead as best party for the economy.

    Interesting political times indeed.

  38. Alec,
    ” (well know red that he was)”

    Standards are different, but he did swap parties several times, and had he currently been leading labour, I am sure that would have been the attack.

    Colin,
    “Why the hell does the system WORK like that?”

    Because someone designed it to work that way, with full understanding that it would, and that this was deemed an advantage.

  39. CMJ. The next Tory leader may be a disaster though. We just don’t know who it will be so it is a risky affair for them.
    Thank God I missed the Wales v Georgia game as I was at the Reading game where we lost. again.

  40. @Mike Pearce

    Agreed.

    Any political bet beyond the next week looks very dodgy indeed.

    Regarding Reading, I have sympathy. I’m a Leeds fan, and two months ago we looked like champions elect.

    How times change quickly!

  41. @TECHNICOLOUROCTOBER

    I think the EEA is a red herring in your analysis. Membership of the EEA does not in itself create or require a common customs area. Norway is outside the CU for instance.

    I’d also argue with the logic of the first line:
    Hard land border => No SM, CU, EEA or trade deal for UK

    First I think cause and effect should be reversed, as it would be the UK’s decision to leave the CU for all its territory that would produce the hard border as a consequence and not vice versa.

    Also at the very least, it needs to be accepted that a land customs border makes the lack of any deal a political choice, not a logical impossibility.

    The EU has external land customs borders with countries in the EEA (eg Norway), with countries with a full FTA (Switzerland and some microstates), with countries with an association agreement with some FT provisions (eg Moldova) and with countries with no trade deal at all.

    If all these arrangements currently exist at some or other EU external customs border, all are evidently possible, and having the last is a choice not a logically necessary consequence.

    Indeed, this is surely implicit in the idea of playing hardball. It’s hardly playing hardball to insist that the only logically possible consequence of the UK’s action will apply. It’s only playing hardball to insist that, even though there are other options in principle, you ain’t offering them.

  42. Peter W

    You may disagree with RoI’s assessment of the effects on them of a hard border across the island, and whatever action they decide to take to minimise or avert such.

    The reality is that they have a veto over whether trade talks between the EU and the UK begin or not. You don’t.

  43. Autumn no Westminster by-election. When did this last happen ?
    Hard to know whether Ukip or LibDems are still players without by-elections to plunder the protest vote.
    Is Corbyn now the ‘protest’ vote ?

  44. peterw: I’d also argue with the logic of the first line:
    Hard land border => No SM, CU, EEA or trade deal for UK

    First I think cause and effect should be reversed, as it would be the UK’s decision to leave the CU for all its territory that would produce the hard border as a consequence and not vice versa.

    Well, slightly more complex than you are suggesting

    No SM, CU or EEA for NI => Hard land border => No trade deal for UK

    Also at the very least, it needs to be accepted that a land customs border makes the lack of any deal a political choice, not a logical impossibility.

    It is the choice of the ROI entirely, given the support of the EU as a whole. Given that choice, for the UK it is now a logical impossibility.

  45. JSB

    It is 5 months since the last GE.

    In the 2015 Parliament, the 1st by election was in December, so the answer to your question is “the previous Parliament”.

  46. JSB

    And the one before. 1st by election after the 2010 GE was January 2011.

  47. Re: McDonnell

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/john-mcdonnell-first-socialist-labour-chancellor-corbyn-quit-inevitable-a7722271.html

    He claims he will be the first socialist chancellor if Labour get in.
    This presumably means he will be to the left of :

    1) Snowden “His strident rhetoric, well-laced with statistics and evangelical themes, contrasted the evil conditions under capitalism with the moral and economic utopia of future socialism.”
    2) Dalton “Dalton in 1935 published Practical Socialism for Britain,”
    3) Cripps “He argued that on taking power the Labour Party should immediately enact an Emergency Powers Act, allowing it to rule by decree”
    4) Gaitskell “On his appointment Gaitskell told William Armstrong, his Principal Private Secretary, that the main job over next few years would be the redistribution of wealth”
    5) Callaghan ” Callaghan gave his first budget and announced increases in income tax, petrol tax and the introduction of a new capital gains tax,”
    6) Jenkins “He quickly gained a reputation as a particularly tough Chancellor with his 1968 budget increasing taxes by £923 million, more than twice the increase of any previous budget to date.”
    7) Healey ‘he said, “I warn you that there are going to be howls of anguish from those rich enough to pay over 75% on their last slice of earnings”‘
    8) Brown “According to the OECD UK taxation increased from a 39.3% share of gross domestic product in 1997 to 42.4% in 2006, ”
    9) Darling “In September 2007, for the first time since 1860, there was a run on a British bank, ”

    Now I know that a good few of these are right-wing by Labour standards, and my quotes are all from Wikipedia (and very selective!). However, McDonnell seems to be an intelligent and widely-read man and would surely know about Snowden, Cripps and Healey for instance. Therefore the assumption must be that he will be a very extreme left-wing Chancellor if he ever gets the chance. I suggest buying gold, a boat and a gun.

  48. Re: McDonnell

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/john-mcdonnell-first-socialist-labour-chancellor-corbyn-quit-inevitable-a7722271.html

    He claims he will be the first socialist chancellor if Labour get in.
    This presumably means he will be to the left of :

    1) Snowden “His strident rhetoric, well-laced with statistics and evangelical themes, contrasted the evil conditions under capitalism with the moral and economic utopia of future socialism.”
    2) Dalton “Dalton in 1935 published Practical Socialism for Britain,”
    3) Cripps “He argued that on taking power the Labour Party should immediately enact an Emergency Powers Act, allowing it to rule by decree”
    4) Gaitskell “On his appointment Gaitskell told William Armstrong, his Principal Private Secretary, that the main job over next few years would be the redistribution of wealth”
    5) Callaghan ” Callaghan gave his first budget and announced increases in income tax, petrol tax and the introduction of a new capital gains tax,”
    6) Jenkins “He quickly gained a reputation as a particularly tough Chancellor with his 1968 budget increasing taxes by £923 million, more than twice the increase of any previous budget to date.”
    7) Healey ‘he said, “I warn you that there are going to be howls of anguish from those rich enough to pay over 75% on their last slice of earnings”‘
    8) Brown “According to the OECD UK taxation increased from a 39.3% share of gross domestic product in 1997 to 42.4% in 2006, ”
    9) Darling “In September 2007, for the first time since 1860, there was a run on a British bank, ”

    Now I know that a good few of these are right-wing by Labour standards, and my quotes are all from Wikipedia (and very selective!). However, McDonnell seems to be an intelligent and widely-read man and would surely know about Snowden, Cripps and Healey for instance. Therefore the assumption must be that he will be a very extreme left-wing Chancellor if he ever gets the chance. I suggest buying gold, a boat and a gun.

  49. Sorry for the double post :-(

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