Tomorrow is a year since the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and there are two polls out this morning on it, covering essentially the same territory – YouGov for the Times and ComRes for the BBC.

YouGov found only 11% of people were able to name the police commissioner for their local area (to put this in context, in 2012 YouGov found 63% of people could name their local MP, in January this year they found 5% could name one of their MEPs). Asked about what difference the PCC had made to their local police force, 63% said they had made no difference to levels of accountability, 64% that they had made no difference to how effective the local police were at fighting crime.

ComRes found a similarly low level of awareness with only 7% of people saying they could name their Police and Crime Commissioner. However in their survey people gave a more positive response on the impact of PCCs – they asked about policing in general, levels of crime, accountability and levels of anti-social behaviour and in every case around 30-40% of people said their PCC had made a positive impact, around 10% a negative imopact and around 40% no impact at all.

I’m not quite certain why the two surveys, similar in their findings on awareness, give such different results on what people think the effect of PCCs have been. It could be a difference between online and phone mode, or perhaps how the questions were worded (e.g. YouGov asked about the effect on “local police”, ComRes on “your region” – or perhaps the option of saying “made no difference” was less prominent in the ComRes script. There’s no obvious answer).

This week’s YouGov results for the Sunday Times are online here. Topline voting intention is CON 32%, LAB 44%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 8% (so towards the higher end of the normal variation around a ten point lead). Approval ratings for the party leaders are minus 16 for David Cameron, minus 18 for Ed Miliband and minus 55 for Nick Clegg.

On the regular economic trackers the increase in the “feel good factor” (the proportion of people who think they will be better off in the next 12 months minus those who think they will be worse off) that we saw after the good GDP figures three weeks ago has now unwound and we are back to the levels of pessimism we saw pre-October. 10% expect their position to get better in the next 12 months, 50% expect it to get worse – we will obviously require more sustained good economic news in order to see a real turnaround in economic optimism.

On law and order, the Conservatives retain a small lead as the most trusted party, with 24% to Labour’s 19%. 41% of people think policing has got worse in the last couple of years, asked about crime levels 20% think they have gone up in their local area, 12% gone down and 53% stayed the same.

Looking specifically at the Police and Crime Commissioner questions, 28% of people in areas with elections say they are 10/10 certain to vote in this week’s election. Turnout is notoriously difficult to predict in opinion polls – people invariably overestimate their own likelihood to vote – but at general elections the proportion of people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote has not been a bad guide to actual turnout. 28% however still sounds quite high considering some of the predictions we’ve seen, just lower than the sort of level more energetically contested local elections usually get.

20% of people support the introduction of elected commissioners, 34% do not, 46% say they don’t know, underlining the lack of interest in or awareness of the policy. People think it will make the police more accountable by 24% to 8%, but very few seem to think it will make any difference to standards of policing or levels of crime.

36% of people see Rowan Williams has having done a good job as Archbishop of Canterbury, 25% a bad job (39% don’t know, perhaps a sign of the role’s diminishing prominence). Opinions from people who identified themselves as belonging to the Church of England were a little more positive, 49% though Rowan Williams had done a good job, 25% a bad job. It’s important to note that the Anglican figures are for people who self-identified as being Church of England – many of them will be Christian in a purely notional, cultural sense. For example, 43% of people who said they were Church of England actually attend a church only once a year or less and only 49% say they believe in God. Practicing Anglicans who regularly attend church may have different views, but there are not enough of them in a national sample to get representative figures.


Or perhaps more accurately, a round up of polling bits and bobs that I’ve missed over the last week or two!


There has been various polling on the BBC and the Jimmy Savile affair, most of it generally damning. Of particular note though is this poll from ComRes, who rather than asking whether the scandal had changed respondents’ opinions managed to dig out some questions from a poll they did for Newsnight back in 2009 to repeat. 62% of people agreed that the BBC was an institution we should be proud of, down from 76% in 2009. 45% of people thought the BBC was trustworthy, down from 62% in 2009. Obviously with a three year space we cannot assume that the drop is linked in anyway to the Savile affair, there could be many causes over the last three years, but either way it is a sharp drop in public regard of the BBC.


There have been several polls on Scottish Independence over the last month. I mentioned the Ipsos MORI quarterly Scottish monitor, but there have also been polls by Panelbase (who are a member of the British Polling Council, but seem to be far from pro-active when it comes to publishing tables! Thanks to Roger Mexico for finally wringing some tabs from them) and two from YouGov that had referendum questions, one for the Better Together campaign and one for The Courier.

Ipsos MORI/Times (amongst those certain to vote) – YES 30%, NO 58%, DK 12%
Panelbase/Sunday Times (amongst those likely to vote in Scot Parliament elections) – YES 37%, NO 45%, DK 17%
YouGov/Better Together (all voters) – YES 30%, NO 56%, DK/WNV 14%
YouGov/The Courier (all voters?) – YES 29%, NO 55%, DK 14%

Party leaders

As well as voting intention this month’s Ipsos MORI poll included their tracker on whether people like the the main parties, the party leader, both or neither, a question I’ve written about in the past. 41% of people say they like David Cameron, down from 47% when MORI last asked the question in January 2011. In comparison 35% of people like the Conservative party (down marginally from 37%), meaning that David Cameron is still a positive for his party, out performing them by 6 points (down from a 9 point advantage in 2011). In comparison 37% of people like Ed Miliband, hardly changed from the 36% who liked him in 2011. 51% of people like the Labour party, up more substantially from 45% in 2011. This means Miliband trails behind the Labour party by 14 points (up from an 11 point gap in 2011).

Police Commissioner elections

Also from Ipsos MORI was this curious poll of voting intentions in the Police Commissioner elections. The quoted headline figures were Lab 16%, Con 8%, LD 4%, Others 3%, Independent candidates 30%, Wouldn’t vote 27%, Don’t know 11%. MORI normally take the approach of only including respondents who say they are 10/10 certain to vote, but in this case only 15% of people said they were certain to vote, and a sample size of about 150 people would be of no use to man nor beast.

I am dubious about the results anyway – polling contests where there are lots of independent candidates who may, or may not, have a chance of doing well is a difficult task. People invariably tell pollsters that they would like to vote for Independent candidates, and invariably fail to do so when actually given the chance – if you just put on a generic “A candidate that is not representing a political party” people tend to imagine some idealised Independent candidate who agrees with them, rather than the somewhat idiosyncratic sorts who actually stand as independents. Time will tell, but I sincerely doubt that independent candidates will get 50% of the poll in the police elections. Given the limited number of constituencies and the uneven pattern of parties contesting them, I think this may be a contest that would be best polled by asking people which county they live in and giving them a list of the actual local candidates to choose from. The expected low turnout however still makes it a tricky challenge to poll.

The full details of the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here. Topline figures are CON 34%, LAB 43%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 8% – so a nine point lead and pretty much in line with YouGov’s recent polls (the seven point lead some people were tweeting last night comes from hypothetical match ups, of which we’ll come to later).

The regular leaders approval ratings stand at minus 21 for Cameron, minus 29 for Miliband and minus 63 for Clegg, this is Clegg’s worst score so far (although only marginally down from minus 61 last week, which itself was a record low).

As I mentioned, YouGov asked several hypothetical voting intention questions. I should start with the normal caveats about these type of questions – they are quite low information, so while they can give us a steer on whether politicians who are very well known, respondents don’t know what policies those politicians would actually put in place if they were leader, what their priorities would be, how the media would react to them as leader and so on.

If the leaders remain as they are now at the next election (which YouGov ask as a control question) people’s voting intentions would be CON 34, LAB 41, LDEM 9 (when asked this way it consistently shows a slightly smaller Labour lead than usual – probably the effect of mentioning Ed Miliband in the question).

If the Liberal Democrats replaced Nick Clegg with Vince Cable they would increase their vote by a third, taking support from Labour – CON 34(nc), LAB 39%(-2), LDEM 12%(+3). If the Conservatives replaced David Cameron with Boris Johnson they would increase their support by four percentage points, wiping out Labour’s lead – CON 38%(+4), LAB 38%(-3), LDEM 9%(nc). And if you combine both changes and the leaders at the next election were Boris, Ed and Vince, voting intentions become – CON 39%(+5), LAB 35%(-6), LDEM 11%(+2): a Conservative lead. As I said, extremely hypothetical and I expect many people are projecting onto Boris and Vince whatever they would like their ideallised Tory or Lib Dem leader to do.

On the Liberal Democrats and the coalition, with the benefit of hindsight 34% of people think entering the coalition was the right thing for the Liberal Democrats to do, compared to 48% who think it was the wrong decision. A majority (52%) think the decision to go into coalition has turned out to be bad for Britain. Asked what they would like to happen in the future, 30% would prefer to see a Labour/Lib Dem coalition, 26% a minority Conservative government, 19% for the coalition to continue. More interesting are the breakdowns amongst party supporters – slightly more Tory supporters would prefer a minority government (49%) than the present coalition (44%), amongst remaining Lib Dem supporters only 38% support the coalition, 26% would prefer a coalition with Labour, 16% would prefer a minority Conservative government. A hefty majority (63%) of Labour supporters would naturally prefer a Lab-LD coalition.

Turning to Nick Clegg himself, he is seen as indecisive by 66% (decisive 14%), untrustworthy by 58% (trustworthy 24%), weak 75% (strong 11%)… but is still seen as likeable by 42% (dislikeable by 38%). Attitudes to the apology are mixed – while people say it had made Clegg look weaker (by 41% to 21%), they are evenly split on whether they feel more positive or negative about him as a result of it – 16% of people say it has made them more positive about Clegg, 17% more negative. They are also quite evenly split on whether the apology was genuine – 35% think it was, 40% think it was not.

Better results for Clegg are that people do at least think he apologised for the right thing – 47% think his mistake was to make a promise he couldn’t keep, compared to 31% think the bigger mistake was to back the policy. 7% think he needed have apologised for either.

Moving on to policing, 64% would oppose the routine arming of police officers, with only 24% in support. A majority (57%) would support the death penalty for the murder of a police officer. There are also majorities in support of the death penalty for terrorist murders, multiple murders and the murder of a child but people were narrowly opposed to the death penalty for all murders, by 42% to 38%. Apart from a slight increase in support for the death penalty for the murder of a police officer, these are pretty much unchanged since the last time YouGov asked.

The figures from the Survation poll last night have also shown up, topline figures there are CON 29%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%.

Full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here, covering Miliband’s leadership, Scottish independence, abortion, alcohol and shoplifting.

Last night I pondered whether the reason the polls were still close between Labour and the Conservatives was a lasting effect of the veto, or a reflection of Labour’s current troubles. The regular trackers in the YouGov poll would suggest the latter – government approval and David Cameron’s approval ratings are both falling back towards their pre-veto levels, government approval is back down to minus 26, David Cameron’s approval rating is back down to minus 10. In contrast, Ed Miliband’s figures get ever worse, dropping to minus 49 (from minus 46 a week ago). Amongst Labour’s own supporters only 46% think he is doing well, compared to 49% who think he is doing badly.

Asked if Miliband had the right policies to be Prime Minister and whether he looked or sounded like a Prime Minister, only 7% thought he both had the policies and the look/sound to be PM. 43% thought he had neither (including, as one would expect, most Tories). The interesting bit is the rest, only 4% thought he looked like a PM but didn’t have the right policies, 27% thought he had the right policies, but didn’t look or sound like a PM. Amongst Labour’s own supporters only 16% thought Miliband had the right policies and the right look/sound, 5% of Labour supporters thought he had the right look/sound but the wrong policies, 59% of Labour supporters thought he had the right policies but didn’t look or sound like a possible Prime Minister.

For all the discussion of Labour’s policy stance on the economy (though in the longer term, that will be extremely important too), this appears to be the ultimate problem with Ed Miliband – people don’t think he looks the part of Prime Minister. It is not, as John Humphrey’s suggested, anything as crude as Ed Miliband being “too ugly” to be Prime Minister (YouGov asked and only 10% agreed), but a general image. It backs up earllier findings like that in December when, despite Labour having been ahead in the polls for a year, only 17% of people and only 37% of Labour’s own supporters thought it likely that Ed Miliband would ever be Prime Minister. This is a real problem for Miliband – policies can be changed, it is extremely difficult to change the public’s perception of a leader once it has settled. Miliband’s ratings did get a good hike after hackgate last year, but it was purely temporary, Labour need to get something like that which sticks.

The rest of the poll covered Scottish independence (which I’ll do a seperate post on later),
attitudes towards alcohol pricing, lobbying, shoplifting and abortion.

On Alcohol pricing, people are pretty evenly split over cut-price promotions on alcohol – 47% think they are a good thing, 42% a bad thing. 53% oppose a minimum price on alcohol, 47% support it, although largely at at quite low levels. 30% would support a minimum pricing at the suggested 45p a unit or less (the equivalent of about £1 for a pint of beer), 17% would support a higher minimum price.

On shoplifting, 16% of people admitted that they had shoplifted at some point in their lives. 50% of people saw it as a less serious type of theft than burgulary or mugging, compared to 45% who thought it was about the same. Asked what the appropriate punishment should be for a first time shoplifter, 23% thought they should be given a caution, 30% a fine, 30% community service, 11% a jail sentence.

Finally YouGov asked about the time limit for abortion. 5% of people supported a higher limit, 34% supported the status quo of a 24 week limit, 37% supported reducing the time limit and 6% supported a total ban on abortions. As you often find on abortion questions, women were more likely than men to support a reduction in the time limit for abortion (49% of women supported a tighter limit, compared to 24% of men.)