This week’s YouGov Sunday Times poll results are here, and have topline Voting intentions of CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. As you’d expect, the poll has questions on the Liberal Democrats for their conference, as well as some about Ed Miliband and the Unions.

By 45% to 34% people think it was the wrong decision for the Lib Dems to go into coalition with the Conservatives, though this is mainly driven by Labour voters. Amongst the remaining Liberal Democrat supporters three-quarters still think it was the right thing to do, but of course that’s largely because those opposed to the coalition are no longer voting Liberal Democrat! On the principle of coalition, 22% of people think it is better to have coalition governments that force parties to compromise, 53% think that a single party government is better.

22% think that the Liberal Democrats have been a positive influence on government, 25% a negative influence and 43% don’t think they’ve had much influence either way. Asked more specifically about Clegg’s claim that the Lib Dems have prevented the Conservatives from being more right wing, 46% think this is true (30% think it’s a good thing, 16% a bad thing). Asked which best reflects their view, 36% think that by entering coalition Clegg was doing what he thought was best for the country, 44% that he was betraying his principles for power regardless of the interests of the country.

Turning to Labour and the Unions, on balance people still think that Ed Miliband is too close to the Unions (32% think he is too close, 17% too distant, 20% about right, 31% don’t know). Miliband’s proposals to change how trade unions affiliate members to Labour are widely supported and by 43% to 14% people think he is right to try and reduce Labour’s links with the Unions (although a further 20% think that he isn’t actually trying to do this). Despite this overall he is not seen as handling his party’s relationship with the Unions well – only 25% think he’s done it well, 46% badly.

Only 16% of people think Miliband is ever likely to be Prime Minister, 70% think it is unlikely. Even amongst Labour supporters only 42% think he is likely to be Prime Minister, 45% unlikely. This is a strange finding given Labour’s consistent lead in the polls and when polls ask people which party they expect to win the election, far more tend to say Labour. I suspect this is speaking more of people’s difficulty in visualising Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, rather than their considered prediction.

Also buried away in the poll was a repeat of the “bedroom tax” question from back in March. Back then YouGov found more people supported the policy than opposed it, since then opinion has switched round, and there are more people opposed (48%) than in support (40%).

As I mentioned yesterday, there was also a second Scottish poll in the Sunday papers, Panelbase in the Sunday Times. They had topline figures of YES 37%, NO 47%, practically unchanged from their last Sunday Times poll which had topline figures of YES 37%, NO 46% (it also demonstrates pretty conclusively that the answers to referendum voting intention in the Panelbase poll for the SNP were influenced by the two preceeding questions). Panelbase have done the most regular Scottish polling over the last year and a bit, and leaving aside that SNP poll have shown very consistent figures, with YES support between 34%-37%, NO support between 44%-47% and no obvious trend in either direction. I’ve updated the page on Scottish referendum polls so far here.

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 38%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13% (tabs here. Meanwhile the twice weekly Populus poll has figures of CON 34%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 7% (full tabs are here

The Sun also had a batch of YouGov polling about the Liberal Democrats in advance of their conference (I expect there will be more Lib Dem polling to come at the weekend).

The broad picture is still pretty miserable for the party. 42% think that the Liberal Democrats have influence in government (8% a lot, 34% a little), and 40% said they had contributed something positive to the coalition (the most popular choice, on 20%, was more moderate and centrist policies, followed by more interest in the less well off on 15%). However, 44% said that the Lib Dems had not contributed anything positive to government at all. Perhaps most worrying for the party, only 19% said they had an idea what the Liberal Democrats stand for these days, down from 26% a year ago.

Few people thought the Liberal Democrats had delivered on many of their specific aims in government. The one area where Lib Dems are seen as delivering is on tax, 10% think they have gone a long way to reducing the income tax paid by low earner, 38% some way. People rated them much less well on all the other aims YouGov asked about, just 22% think they’ve made at least some progress on protecting the environment, 22% on increasing taxes on the wealthy, 20% on reforming banking, 15% on constitutional reform, 13% on improving civil liberties.

Of course, this all has to be viewed in the context of the Liberal Democrats being quite a small party. While I am sure the Lib Dems would like it if a majority of people thought they were wonderful, realistically they are not aiming at majority support at the next election. Rather they will be looking to limit the losses from 2010, to increase from their current poll rating and hold on to a core of support, possibly in the mid-to-high teens. If there is a core of people who think the Lib Dems have contributed a lot to government, have delivering on their aims, and those people can be pursuaded to vote Liberal Democrat, then that’s something for them to build on.

Even so, things look difficult looking forward. 4% of people say they will definitely vote Liberal Democrat at the next election, a further 14% that they’ll consider it. Another 31% say they might vote for them in the future, but not at the coming general election.


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%.

Lots of polls tonight. We have figures for ComRes, Opinium and ICM with YouGov and Survation to come.

Looking at voting intentions first, ComRes in the Independent on Sunday is the most unusual (and hence probably the one we should pay least attention to), with topline figures of CON 35%(+2), LAB 39%(-3), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 8%(nc). The Labour lead is the lowest ComRes have shown since before the budget. Normal caveats about polls showing unusual movements apply – sure, it may be a sign of Labour’s lead falling, or may be normal margin of error. Let’s see if other polls are showing a similar pattern…

An Opinium poll in the Observer meanwhile has shares of CON 30%(-2), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 10%(+1). In contrast to ComRes, this is the largest lead Opinium have shown for Labour, although not radically different from their recent polling which has been showing an average Labour lead of ten points or so.

YouGov’s full figures haven’t been released yet, but the Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott has tweeted that the poll shows a 9 point Labour lead, so in line with YouGov’s normal polling. Nothing at all yet from the expected Survation poll.

ICM don’t ask a standard voting intention question for the Sunday Telegraph, instead asking respondents to estimate what they think the shares of the vote will be at the next general election. Public predictions have the Conservatives on 31%, Labour on 37% and the Liberal Democrats on 18%.

Looking at other questions, all the polls seemed to have gone for questions asking people to compare Clegg and Cable as Lib Dem Dem leader. They all suggest Cable as a better bet… but not by a radical amount. ComRes asked if people agree that Vince Cable would make a better leader than Nick Clegg, 27% say yes, 25% say no, 48% don’t know. ICM asked people who they thought would attract more voters to the Lib Dem party – 21% said Clegg, 32% Cable. Opinium asked how likely people were to vote Lib Dem with Clegg as leader and how likely they were with Cable as leader – 12% said they were very or fairly likely to vote for them with Nick, rising only marginally to 14% with Vince. YouGov have done some hypothetical “how would you vote with Cable” as leader questions, with Lib Dem support going from 9% with Clegg to 12% with Cable. I will update on that properly tomorrow.

Today’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 44%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 7% – so the 6 point Labour lead in the Sunday Times certainly looks as though it was an outlier.

As I mentioned yesterday, YouGov also asked a hypothetical “how would you vote if Vince Cable was Lib Dem leader” question. YouGov’s control question naming the current leaders had figures of CON 33%, LAB 43%, LDEM 8%. Asked how they would vote if Cable became Lib Dem leader the figures switch to CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%.

Both ComRes and YouGov show the Lib Dems doing better with Cable, and by roughly similar amounts (3 or 4 percentage points). The difference is that ComRes found it coming equally from the Conservatives and Labour, YouGov find it effectively coming straight across from Labour.

Still, while the speculation is fun, all the usual caveats about these sort of hypothetical questions apply. While Cable is quite well known and people can give some sort of educated opinion, they will be making complete guesses about what sort of leader he would be, what policies he would pursue, what the narrative would be around the appointment and so on. Most of the time hypothetical leader polls are probably more important for the impact they make on the Westminster village than what they actually tell us about how leaders would perform.