The monthly ComRes telephone poll for the Independent is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 32%(+4), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 9%(-2), UKIP 11%(-1). Changes are from ComRes’s previous phone poll (as opposed to their parallel online polls for the Sunday Indy) conducted at the end of last month.

Meanwhile today’s twice-weekly Populus poll also recorded a five point lead for Labour, in their case the topline figures were CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 7%. Populus tabs are here.

Also out are the tables for a recent YouGov poll on immigration (it was published in the Times on Saturday, but tabs went up this morning here). Note firstly that while immigration has actually fallen over the last couple of years, the vast majority of people (73%) think that it is continuing to rise, only 7% think it has dropped over the last couple of years – a reminder that official statistics on the news are often not noticed or not believed. There is an equal lack of awareness of what government policy is on immigration. 37% of people say they have a good idea or a fairly good idea of what government policy on immigration is, but even then people are rather overestimating their knowledge – only 19% could actual pick out David Cameron’s stated aim of reducing net immigration to the tens out thousands.

Also interesting to note is people’s differing attitudes towards different groups of immigrants. 72% of people think the country should allow fewer (or no) unskilled immigrants, but people are actually far more welcoming about other groups. 63% are either happy with current levels or would like to see more skilled immigration, 68% are happy with the current or higher numbers of foreign students coming here. People are even split over asylum seekers (though we deliberately avoided using the actual phrase!) – 48% would be happy with more or the current levels of people fleeing persecution, 38% think there should be fewer or none at all.


The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up online here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%. There is little change in the leaders doing well/badly figures – 37% think Cameron is doing well, 56% badly, a net score of minus 19 (from minus 18 last week). Miliband’s net score is minus 32 (from minus 28 last week), Clegg’s minus 54 (unchanged).

Most of the rest of the poll was mostly filled up with Christmas, though there were a batch of questions on immigration.. UKIP continue to lead the mainstream parties on the issue – 25% would trust UKIP the most, compared to 17% for the Conservatives, 13% for Labour. There is little difference in attitudes towards immigrations from inside or outside the EU, in both cases around 70% would like to see tougher limits.

Looking specifically at EU immigration, 22% of people think there is nothing wrong with EU immigration into the UK, 20% think it is damaging, but that Britain has no practical choice but to accept it. 42% think that Britain should act to limit EU immigration even if it means breaking EU law or British citizens losing their own right to live elsewhere in Europe.


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Sunday polls

This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up on their website here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 11%. The five point Labour lead is their lowest this year (the last time YouGov’s Labour lead was this small was back in November 2012). Obviously it could be a bit of a blip – polls have a margin of error – but it fits in with the recent trend of Labour’s lead narrowing a bit as UKIP come off the boil.

The rest of the poll had some interesting questions on immigration. 56% of people think that immigration into Britain has been bad for the economy, with only 19% thinking it has been a positive factor. However, on balance immigrants are seen as harder working than people who are born in Britain. 32% of people think that immigrants who come to work here are harder working, 12% less hard working, 46% much the same.

Asked about various groups of immigrants, 70% of people think we should allow fewer (or no) low skilled workers to come to Britain, 59% think that we should allow fewer relatives of people already living in Britain to come here to join relatives. People are actually far more positively disposed towards other immigrant groups – only 28% want to see a reduction in high skilled immigrants looking for well paid jobs, only 27% want to see a reduction in foreign students coming to study in British universities. Asylum seekers split opinion – 42% want to see a reduction in the number of people fleeing persecution allowed to come here, 47% are content with present numbers or would allow more.

Viewed as a whole it suggests people are far more positive about some types of immigration that you would think. It’s one of those times that, in hindsight, you wished you’d asked an extra question – in this case to find out what proportion of total immigration people think is made up of those groups. Given overall public hostility towards immigration I imagine they think it is mostly unskilled and relatives, rather the skilled workers and students they are apparently well disposed to, but it would be good to test.

Asked about specific government policies on immigration, views are once more the typical anti-immigration responses: 71% support requiring a £3000 bond for visitors from high risk countries, 84% support the idea of forcing benefit claimants to learn English or risk losing benefits.

In the Sunday papers there was also a new Opinium poll for the Observer, which had topline figures of CON 27%(nc), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 19%(-1). No sign of a narrowing in the polls there, although worth noting that the higher level of UKIP support is normal (Opinium are typically one of the companies that show the highest levels of UKIP support, something that they have said is probably due to them not using any political weighting).

Finally there was an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph, largely covering recent benefit changes and the spending review. 87% of people supported stopping benefits if people won’t learn English, 53% supported making people wait 7 days for benefits. 64% support a cap on the cost of benefits that excludes the state pension, 23% think it should include the state pension. However, 56% would also support means testing age related benefits like the winter fuel payment and free television licence. ICM don’t ask voting intention for the Sunday Telegraph, instead asking respondents to predict what they think the shares of the vote will be at the next election – answers this month were Conservatives 29%, Labour 34%, Lib Dems on 15% and UKIP on 13%.


The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is now online here. Topline voting intention is CON 30%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%. Most of the rest of the poll concentrated on immigration and calls for a broadcasting ban on Islamic extremists.

The Woolwich murder does not appear to have led to any increase in anti-immigration feeling – the public remain negative about immigration from Eastern Europe and from outside Europe… but no more negative than they were a few months ago. More interestingly YouGov also asked about people’s perception of whether immigration was rising or falling. Despite recent figures showing net immigration falling, the majority of people (59%) think that immigration has continued to rise over the last year or two, underlining how difficult it would be for David Cameron to convince people that he has met his targets on immigration even if does manage to do so. As I often say on here, public opinion is about perceptions of how the government is doing, which is not always the same as reality – the classic example is crime, which has been falling for about twenty years, but which all polls show people believe to be increasing.

Moving onto broadcasting bans, by 53% to 32% people think it was wrong for the BBC to interview Anjem Choudary so soon after the Woolwich murder, and more generally speaking 59% would support a ban on named Muslim radicals like Choudary from appearing on television or radio. An even higher proportion (76%) think that websites like Google and YouTube should refuse to link to sites encouraging extremist views.

Despite the support for such restrictions, people don’t necessarily think they would do any good (suggesting support for bans is perhaps more a way of people expressing their disgust at Choudary’s views than from people thinking it would do any real good). Only 38% think a broadcasting ban would be effective at stopping radical Muslims like Choudary from spreading their message, 49% think it would not. People are slightly more optimistic about the effect of mainstream websites like Google not linking to extremist sites, with 57% thinking this would be effective at stopping their message reaching people who may be influenced by it.

Overall 36% of people think that broadcasting bans or being excluded from mainstream websites would be an effective way of fighting terrorism, as people who may be radicalised would be less likely to be exposed to extremist messages. However, the majority (56%) think such bans might make us feel better… but wouldn’t actually help fight terrorism in the internet age.


This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 30%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16% – continuing to show a boost for UKIP from their local election successes. Economic optimism also remains higher (or at least, less strongly negative) than it has been since May 2010. The rest of the poll covered immigration, europe and the monarchy.

Immigration

The public do not rate the government’s current handling of immigration – only 15% think they are doing well on the issue, compared to 75% who think they are handling it badly. Asked which party they would most trust on the issue of immigration UKIP now have a convincing lead, 30% to the Conservative’s 17% (Labour are picked by only 12%).

Asked about whether some of the government’s recent proposals are workable, a large majority (80%) think fining companies who employ illegal immigrants would work and 60% think stopping illegal immigrants from receiving non-emergency health care would work. Opinion is more divided over whether requiring landlords to check the immigration status of people renting a property is practical – 48% think the idea is workable, 40% think it is not.

EU Referendum

62% of people think there should be a referendum on Europe (as usual!), with the vast majority of these thinking it should be held before the next general election (if you support something, why wait?). More interesting is that people also tend to think it would be possible for David Cameron to deliver this if he really wanted to – 48% think that Cameron would be able to get the support of other parties for a referendum if he tried, compared to 31% who think other parties would not agree to holding a referendum before the election. In practice, most people still do not expect there to be a referendum in the near future. Only 6% expect a referendum this Parliament, only 31% in the next Parliament.

Asked how they would vote if there was a referendum, at present 30% would vote to stay, 47% to leave. This is a comparatively large lead for the “OUT” vote compared to YouGov’s recent polls on the topic, although still smaller than the sort of 20 point plus leads that OUT had last year. If David Cameron renegotiated British membership, said that Britain’s interests were now protected and asked for a YES vote, people continue to say they would vote to remain in the EU in by 45% to 32% (the key difference is Conservative voters, who would currently vote to leave, but say they would vote to stay if Cameron renegotiated and recommended a yes vote. In practice, of course, this would depend on whether Cameron could sell whatever he negotiated to his supporters).

Monarchy

A majority (53%) of people think the Queen should remain in her role for life, compared to 33% who think she should abdicate. Asked specifically about what should happen if the Queen were to become too ill to carry out her duties 48% think she should then abdicate, 43% think she should continue as Queen even if many day-to-day duties were carried out by other members of the royal family. This is a turnaround from March when a majority wanted to see the Queen continue even if too ill to carry out her functions. There has also been a significant shift in attitudes towards Prince Charles – 50% of people now think that he will make a good King when the time comes, up from 37% when YouGov asked the same question back in May 2012.

My guess is that the two shifts are not unconnected – the drip-drip of news stories of the Queen cutting down on engagements, stopping flying and Prince Philip’s stays in hospital (perhaps too the abdication of Queen Beatrix or even the death of Baroness Thatcher, who was very close in age to the Queen) is gradually making people consider the Queen’s future, and making them consider Charles as her successor. It has previously been reported that the Queen sees the monarchy as a lifelong duty and that she would never abdicate, but public opinion does seem to be gradually preparing itself for the point when she is no longer Queen.