Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%. A five point Labour lead is larger than we’ve seen of late from YouGov (the last time they showed a lead that large was early February which, in hindsight, looked like a blip). Normal caveats apply: sure, it could be a sign of Labour’s lead growing beyond the point or two that YouGov have been averaging at of late, alternatively it could just be normal sample error.

There was also a Harris poll in the Metro this morning with some extremely odd figures. In the newspaper they are quoted as CON 32%, LAB 23%, LDEM 12%. There is no indication if the balance is others, don’t knows, won’t votes or whatever. I think I’ll come back to this one when the tables appear on Harris’s website.

UPDATE: The tabs for the Harris poll are here. The rather bonkers voting intention figures were, in fact, not really voting intention figures at all, but answers to a question on what party people were “most inclined to support” (the low percentages were, as many people guessed, because it included 19% who said “No party”).

Policy Exchange have released a new poll by YouGov looking at perceptions of fairness, poverty and benefits (Policy exchange’s report is here, full tabs are here.)

Looking first at fairness – since the coalition was formed this has been something of a yardstick for the government. Initially at least they put a lot of effort into attempting to show that cuts were being made in a fair way. The importance of this is underlined by this poll – asked which two or three values people most wanted to see from political parties, the two top ranked values by some distance are economic responsibility and fairness (59% and 50% respectively). What actually is “fairness” in this context though? Or more specifically, what do the general public understand it to mean in political terms?

The main theme of the polling seems to be that people see fairness more in terms of reciprocity not equality. Whatever politicians mean when they talk about fairness, in the eyes of the public, to be fair seems to be about giving people what they deserve. Hence 85% agree that in a fair society income should depend on how hard people work and how talented they are, only 41% agree that in a fair society no one should get an income a lot bigger or smaller than anyone else. 73% agree with the statement that “You can have a fair society even if people’s incomes are quite unequal, as long as you have equality of opportunity”.Giving people a forced choice between a definition of fairness in terms of reciprocity (“those who do the wrong thing are punished and those who do the right thing are rewarded”) and in terms of equality (“treating people equally and having an equal distribution of wealth and income”) the first one was chosen by 63% to 26%.

Turning to perceptions of poverty, the public’s perception of poverty seems to lie closer to absolute terms, rather than the relative terms that are more commonly used by politicians and charities and pressure groups working in the sector. Asked what they thought was the best description of being “in poverty”, 70% said people were in poverty if they didn’t have the basic essentials of life (“a place to live, or enough to eat or live on”). Only 18% thought people with a place to live and enough to live on, but nothing else was a better description of poverty, only 7% that it meant people who had the essentials to live upon, but not enough to buy those things others took for granted.

There is also widespread agreement with the concept of “deserving” and “undeserving poor” – 71% of people think that there are some poor people are more deserving than others, and help should be concentrated on them. That said, people clearly don’t dismiss the idea that many people are poor through the hand life dealt them rather than their own fault – asked which of a number of experiences are most likely to lead to people ending up in poverty later in life, three of the top four were growing up with parents who were addicts, unemployed or abusive.

Attitudes towards benefits for the unemployed generally remain pretty robust. 50% think out of work benefits are too high, and discourage people from finding work, 70% think people on jobseekers allowance who refuse work or fail to attend interviews should lose half or more of their their benefits (YouGov also asked people whether this should apply to people in various family circumstances – they were more sympathetic to people with dependent children, with most respondents thinking they should lose at most a small proportion of their benefits for not seeking work, and for carers, who a majority thought should not face any sanctions for not looking for work). 80% agree with the idea that people who have been out of work for 12 months should be required to do community work in return for their benefits.

Turning to tax breaks or benefits for children produce some interesting results. People are broadly split on the idea of giving tax benefits to people with children (44% agree, 47% disagree), but opposed to giving people higher benefits for having children (by 36% to 55%) – I suspect the latter on is a case of repondents thinking about extra means tested benefits for people with children, rather than some hitherto undetected dislike of the existing child benefit provisions! 66% of people would support limiting child benefit to the first three children only.

In terms of marriage, people are pretty evenly split on the principle of whether the government should be encouraging marriage through the benefit system – 40% think they should, 45% think they should not. However, they are more supportive of the idea of the government discouraging people from becoming single parents, 59% think they should be discouraging it, 31% disagree.

Finally there are some questions on how people view their income compared to Britain as a whole, and how people view their social class. In terms of income YouGov asked people to say how they fitted in to a scale where 1 was the poorest tenth of people in Britain, and 10 was the richest tenth. People has a strong tendency to cluster towards the low-mid range. Only 24% of people saw themselves as being in the richest half of the population, 72% saw themselves in the poorest half. Virtually no one was of the impression that they were in the richest 20% of British people and at the other end of the scale, 9% of people thought they were in the poorest 20%.

This is important in terms of things like the “squeezed middle” (most people tend to see themselves as being in the middle, even when they aren’t), and support for taxes on the more affluent (most people think there are loads of people much richer than themselves, even when there aren’t).

In terms of class, 48% of people percieve themselves as working class (36% working class, 12% upper working class), 42% perceive themselves to be middle class (17% lower middle class, 23% middle class, 2% upper middle class). Note that people’s perceptions don’t tally particularly well with the occupation based socal class classifications used for ABC1C2DE cross breaks – amongst ABC1 people 55% self-identify as middle class, 38% as working class. Amongst C2DEs, 62% self-identify as working class, 28% as middle class.

(On unrelated matters, there is a “New” Harris poll on AV in the Metro today showing YES on 31%, NO on 32%. However, the fieldwork for it was conducted well over a fortnight ago, so it was week earlier than the YouGov and ICM polls showing a big shift towards NO. For obvious reasons, it can’t tell us anything about the current state of opinion)


At the start of the week the Daily Mail ran a headline saying only 20% of people thought David Kelly committed suicide. The Mail claimed it was an overwhelming rejection of the official verdict – it wasn’t actually quite as overwhelming as it seems, by only mentioning the 20% the Mail implied that a large percentage of people thought he didn’t commit suicide, in fact a large majority of people told Harris they didn’t know whether David Kelly committed suicide or not, the proportion of people who disagreed with the statement that he committed suicide was only around 22% (the tables aren’t on the Harris website anymore, so I’m taking the figure from memory – apologies if it’s a point or two out). The Mail could equally have headlined the poll report “1 in 5 disagree that David Kelly committed suicide”. Though actually, that itself would still have been quite a striking finding.

The way Harris asked the question on David Kelly was perfectly valid, but considering alternatives I thought their way was quite likely to show a high score for people rejecting the suicide explanation – it is likely to be easier for a respondent to say they disagree that Kelly committed suicide than to actually say he was murdered as part of some conspiracy. The proportion of people who thought David Kelly was murdered would surely be lower than 22% if asked outright? So we asked.

We ran a question on the YouGov daily polling and reasking the question YouGov first asked back in 2003 during the Hutton inquiry. Now, I don’t think the wording YouGov used is perfect either. For starters, if I was writing it from scratch, I’d have given people the option of saying other or none of these. However, since YouGov had asked the question back in 2003 I wanted to use the same wording to draw direct changes.

Back in 2003 11% of people thought that David Kelly was murdered, 75% that he committed suicide (most thinking he had done so due to the pressure placed upon him) – given it was at the height of the controversey, only 14% said don’t know. Looking at the same question now 30% of people think David Kelly was murdered, 32% think he committed suicide and 38% don’t know – meaning in the 7 years since his death the proportion of people thinking he was murdered has almost tripled. The Daily Mail’s headline was rather sensationalist, but the underlying fact is that a large minority of people do indeed think Kelly was murdered.

Not of course, lest I be misunderstood, that this makes it any more likely that he was.

There was a Harris poll in the Daily Mail yesterday. Voting intention figures are incomprehensible. To quote from the Mail “The Tories are down from 36 per cent at the election to just 29 per cent, while Lib Dem support has collapsed from 23 per cent to just 12. Labour are on 28 per cent, down from 29 at the election. But a huge 17 per cent of people said they were undecided.”

Where to start? Firstly the Harris poll was of Great Britain, not the United Kingdom, so they should be comparing it to the GB result (CON 37%, LAB 30%, LDEM 24%). Secondly, 17% for don’t know isn’t huge, it’s comparable to other polls. Most importantly, they haven’t repercentaged to exclude don’t knows, so obviously all the parties are down. It is unclear whether or not they have also excluded won’t votes, so it’s not even possible to repercentage yourself. If they have excluded won’t votes, it implies 17% support for other parties, which seems unfeasible (though the newer online pollsters did tend to produce some very high scores for others before the election). If they didn’t exclude won’t votes either then it implies shares somewhere in the region of CON 36%, LAB 35%, LDEM 15%, but we can’t be sure.

On other questions, Harris found 26% thought Cameron had done better than they expected, 22% worse. 42% said he had been in line with expectations, though obviously we don’t know if those people’s expectations were positive or negative! For Osborne 12% thought he had exceeded expectations, 20% that he had done worse, Clegg was 19% and 29% respectively and Cable 13% better and 21% worse.

On opinions of the government, Harris asked people which words they’d use to describe it, with particularly unenlightning answers! All the words quoted in the paper were agreed with by about 52%-59% of people, included positive and negative ones – so 59% thought they were honest, 52% effective, 59% united… but 57% thought they are disappointing, 59% unpopular and 52% unbalanced. At least, I suppose there is an answer that everyone liked.

The only poll I’m aware of from the Sunday Papers is YouGov’s regular tracker survey – voting intention stands at CON 42%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%.

UPDATE: Tabs for the Harris poll are here now. Had the poll been repercentaged it would have shown voting intentions of CON 38%, LAB 36%, LDEM 16%, Others 10%.

There is a new Harris poll in this morning’s Metro, I think it’s their first since the general election. Voting intention stands at CON 36%, LAB 30%, LDEM 25%. Unlike all the other companies we’ve seen reporting post-election voting intentions (YouGov, ICM and ComRes), who are all showing the Lib Dems suffering from their decision to go into coalition, Harris have them above the level of support they got at the general election (in fact, they don’t have any significant change from the general election shares of the vote at all). 52% of people said they did not expect the coalition to last the full five years intended, much in line with similar findings in polls conducted at the time the coalition was announced.

It’ll be interesting to see which pollsters continue to produce regular political polls in the wake of the general election. Newspapers don’t tend to have much money to spending on polling after general elections, and it tends to be the time that contracts are not renewed. This time round there were several new entrants to the market, presumably polling in the run up to the election to get the publicity. We know that ICM, YouGov and ComRes are continuing to poll for their respective clients and I assume we will shortly see Populus polling for the Times again and that Ipsos MORI will soon resume their monthly political monitors. It looks like Harris will still be polling for the Metro, but only time will tell whether we continue to see regular voting intention polls from Angus Reid, Opinium and TNS BMRB.

There was also a new BPIX poll in the Mail on Sunday yesterday, their first post-election effort. Topline voting intention figures were CON 39%, LAB 32%, LDEM 19%.

Finally, there is a YouGov poll for Migration Watch reported in the Telegraph here. Despite the Telegraph’s report the poll does not say that half of Labour and Lib Dem voters would have switched to the Conservatives if they had boasted a stronger policy on immigration, rather it says that amongst people who said the Conservatives were their second choice – which was under a fifth of Labour and Lib Dem voters – over half included a tougher stance on immigration amongst the things that would have made them switch. Of course, that would still be a notable amount (a couple of percent points would have given the Conservatives a majority), but I will voice my normal extreme caution over polls asking about things that would make you likely to vote for X or Y. It doesn’t mean people would actually change their vote, rather people tend to use questions like this merely to indicate which policies they like (or dislike) – and we know from almost all polling on the subject that the British public tend to support stricter limits on immigration.