If I could teach people one thing about public opinion it would be how little most of the political soap-opera actually matters. Lots of the stories that obsess the Westminster media hardly break through to the public at all. Those people who do notice it tend to be the most political, meaning they view stories and scandals through the prism of their pre-existing political support. They believe accusations against politicians from opposing parties and think their misdeeds are awful, but doubt accusations about their own party and give their own party’s politicians the benefit of the doubt. The result is that most political stories don’t actually have that much impact on political support.

The row over Jeremy Corbyn and whether or not he laid a wreath to commemmorate people connected to the Munich Olympic Massacre is a classic example of this. It has been the main political story for the last four days, yet YouGov polling today suggests it will have little impact. Only 6% of people say they are following the story closely, 20% fairly closely. Over half of the public say they aren’t following the story at all all (27%) or are completely unaware of it (26%).

Amongst the three-quarters of respondents who were at least aware of the story people think, by 44% to 21%, that Corbyn has not given an honest account of his attendence, and by 44% to 25% people think he probably did take part in a wreath laying ceremony for some of those responsible for organising the Munich Olympic massacre. However, this does not necessarily mean it has actually damaged Labour, as most of those who have reacted negatively to Corbyn are people who were opposed to him to begin with; most Labour supporters have given him the benefit of the doubt.

Overall, 16% of those who were aware of the story (that’s 16% of 74%, so about 12%) say it has made them think worse of Corbyn, but 68% say it has made no difference (21% because they had a good impression of Corbyn and still do, 47% because they had a negative impression of Corbyn and still do). Even that 16% is mostly made up of Conservative and Lib Dem supporters, who presumably were not Corbyn admirers to begin with. So while this affair may entrench existing negative views of Corbyn among those who already held them, it seems unlikely to do much to reduce his support. Full tabs for the YouGov polling are here.

Meanwhile there are two new voting intention polls from the last couple of days (note they were both conducted mostly or wholly before the wreath controversy).

BMG for the Independent have topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5% (tabs here)
NumberCruncherPolitics have topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 40%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 5% (tabs here.


This week’s YouGov poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 42%(nc), LAB 40%(+1), LDEM 9%(nc). Fieldwork was Monday and Tuesday and changes are from last week. The two point lead is a little lower than YouGov have been showing of late, but nothing outside normal sample variation.

On the other regular YouGov trackers, 44% of people think that Britain was wrong to vote for Brexit, 43% think it was right. Just 22% of people think that the government are doing well at negotiating Bret, 62% think they are doing badly (including a majority of both Leavers and Remainers). While the poll was taken after the government’s announcement of extra funding for the NHS, it has unsurprisingly has little impact on which party people trust more on the issue – 34% of people think Labour would handle the NHS better, 24% think the Conservatives would. Full tabs are here.

While it’s not a particularly new poll (the fieldwork was conducted the weekend before last) there was also a newly published BMG poll yesterday. Topline figures there were CON 38%(-1), LAB 41%(+2), LDEM 11%(+1). Changes are since early May. This is the only poll since mid-April to have shown Labour ahead. Full tabs are here.

UPDATE: A third poll out tonight. Survation have topline figures of CON 41%(nc), LAB 38%(-2), LDEM 7%(-2). Fieldwork was Tuesday to Thursday and changes are from the start of the month. The poll has some more questions on Brexit – full details are here.


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Three new polls over the last few days. Firstly, the regular ICM poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 43%(+1), LAB 40%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc). Fieldwork was over the weekend and changes are since the start of the month. There is no signficiant change from last month, but it is the fifth ICM poll in a row to show a (very small) Tory lead. The full tables are here.

The ICM poll also contained a couple of Brexit questions. By 43% to 38% people were opposed to the idea of extending the transition period beyond 2020 (as you might expect, this largely split along Remain/Leave lines). On the customs union, 35% of people wanted Britain to Leave the customs union, 24% wanted Britain to stay, 26% wanted a compromise. I suspect many respondents do not have a good idea what the Customs Union is, and that questions like this are heavily influenced by the wording. As it is, it once again splits very much down Remain/Leave lines – the reason that leaving the customs union came up ahead was because most Leavers picked it, while Remainers were more evenly split between staying and a compromise.

Secondly there was a new BMG poll for the Independent. Topline figures there were CON 39%(nc), LAB 39%(+1), LDEM 10%(-1). Fieldwork was right at the start of May, before the local elections, and changes are since mid-April. Full results are here

Finally, at the weekend there was a new online Survation poll. Fieldwork was Tues-Thurs last week and topline voting intention figures with changes from April were CON 41%(+1), LAB 40%(nc), LDEM 8%(-1). As regular poll-followers will know, Survation tend to produce figures that are more favourable to Labour than average, so while this poll too shows Labour and Conservative neck-and-neck, it’s very much in line with the trend that most other companies have shown. Essentially, Survation have gone from showing a Labour lead of around 5 points late last year, to showing the parties neck-and-neck now. Companies who were showing the parties neck-and-neck last year are now showing the Tories with a small lead. The overall leads are different, but the trend is the same. Full tabs for the Survation poll are here.

Survation also asked voting intention in a hypothetical second referendum (the only company who regularly publishes this with proper likelihood to vote) – topline figures there were Remain 50%, Leave 50%.


There have been three more voting intention polls out today (or more, if you count BMG publishing their back catalogue). The regular YouGov poll for the Times had topline figures of CON 42%(-1), LAB 38%(nc), LDEM 7%(-1). This was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, so is the first poll we’ve seen conducted since Amber Rudd’s resignation – not that it has had any obvious impact. Asked specifically about that 51% of people thought she was right to resign, 19% think she should have remained in the job.

Asked about immigration policy, the Windrush scandal does not appear to have led to any wider perceptions that immigration policies are too harsh – 21% of people said they thought the government’s immigration policy was too strict, 15% that it was about right, 44% that it was not strict enough. Full tabs are here.

Secondly, BMG released a new poll with topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%. Fieldwork was in mid-April, so before the Windrush scandal really below up. While this is the first published BMG poll we’ve seen for months, they have apparently been conducting them, and have published the backdata for the last four months at the same time. All of that is on their website here, along with the tables.

Finally Survation published a poll containing voting intention for the London local elections overnight. It recorded very similar vote shares to those in the YouGov/Queen Mary University poll a week ago, with CON 31%, LAB 51%, LDEM 12%, Others 6%. Full tables are here.


Last week I wrote about the unusual YouGov poll showing a four point Conservative lead and said I personally thought it was more likely to be statistical noise than the first sign of the Conservatives opening up a lead in voting intention.

However, at the weekend we also had a new poll from Opinium that had topline figures of CON 42%(+2), LAB 39%(-1), LDEM 7%(+1). Fieldwork was Tues-Thursday and changes were from mid-January (tabs). This morning’s Independent reported partial figures from a new BMG poll that apparently had Labour and Conservative equal on 40% each – this would be an increase of three points in the level of Tory support since the last BMG poll in December.

The government have done little to endear themselves to the public in the last few weeks, nor have Labour done much to lose support. There is no obvious reason for movement in the polls, so I’m still a little sceptical (in themselves the changes are within the margin of error, and it’s perfectly possible for random chance to spit out a couple of polls that just happen to show movement in the same direction). Nevertheless, it’s possible we’re seeing some movement in the government’s direction. If we are, what should we make of it?

This far from the next timetabled general election voting intention polls have very little predictive value, all the more so when we have a known unknown as large as Brexit looming ahead of us and at least a fair chance of a change of Conservative leader before the next election. However for better or worse, mid-term voting intention is the barometer that we tend to use to measure how well the government and opposition are doing against each other, and that is reflected in the morale of the political parties and media perceptions of how well or badly they are doing. If it turns out to be genuine it may bolster Theresa May’s position a little, and may put Labour on the back foot, but we shall see.