Back now, and ready to go through the rest of the Sunday polls apart from the voting intentions and pick out some of the more interesting findings:

  • YouGov’s poll for the Sun on Sunday asked about tactical voting (it didn’t actually use the term, as I think many people use it to refer to different things. It asked if people were voting for their first choice, or a different party that would beat a party they disliked from winning). 77% of people said they were voting for their first choice, 11% tactically. A word of warning about interpreting this – 8% of Tory voters said they were voting tactically, 11% of Labour voters, 12% of Lib Dem voters, 11% of UKIP voters… but we don’t know if that means 8% of Tory voters are voting Tory for tactical reasons, or that 8% of would-be Tory voters are actually going to vote for someone else for tactical reasons (or a mixture).
  • The YouGov Sunday Times poll had a number of questions on British Muslims and on terrorism. People were split over how well integrated British Muslims are into British society and the extent to which they share British values. 46% of people think the majority or almost all British Muslims share British values, 46% of people think that only a minority or hardly any British Muslims share British values. 42% of people think that most or the majority of British Muslims are well integrated, 50% think a minority or hardly any are. UKIP voter’s attitudes towards British Muslims are far more negative than supporters of other parties – 73% of UKIP supporters say most Muslims don’t share British values, 79% say most British Muslims aren’t well integrated. Nigel Farage’s comments about areas of Britain being like ghettos with sharia law were rejected by most respondents – 33% though they were broadly true, 41% thought they were false. 75% of UKIP’s own supporters believed them.
  • There was a particularly interesting immigration question in the Sun on Sunday poll, essentially asking people to choose between a multicultural approach and an integrationist approach. Slightly to my surprise a multicultural approach was the more popular – 36% thought it better that immigrants leave their own cultures and traditions behind and integrate fully into British culture, 48% thought it better than immigrants retain and celebrate some of their own cultures and traditions.
  • Going back to the terrorism and surveillance questions in the Sunday Times poll, just over half of respondents (52%) thought that the security services do need more access to the public’s communications in order to fight terrorism, 31% thought they already have all the access they need. A similar proportion (53%) would support requiring internet and phone companies to retain users data for 12 months and provide it to the security services on request, though by 51% to 35% people think accessing someone’s personal communications should require the consent of the Home Secretary. While people think accessing personal communications data should require the consent of the Home Secretary, when asked whether they trust the authorities to use the information they obtain responsibly they actually trust Ministers & the Home Office less than the police and the intelligence services. 50% trust the police to use the information responsibly, 63% the intelligence services, 45% the Home Office, Ministers and civil servants.
  • In the ComRes poll they asked (via my old favourite the agree/disagree statement, grr!) whether people agreed with the statement that “Ed Miliband is using the issue of the NHS for his political advantage, not because he cares about it”. 49% of people agree, 26% disagree. That looks bad, but I have my doubts about questions about politicians’ motives. I suspect they largely just reflect a general cynicism towards the motives of all politicians, rather than opinions about particular politicians or decisions. YouGov asked a very similar question in their Sun on Sunday poll, but asked it about Ed Miliband AND David Cameron, and got answers that were almost the same. 46% thought Ed Miliband was using the NHS for political gain, 19% doing what he thought was best for it, 20% both equally. 48% thought David Cameron was using the NHS for political gain, 15% doing what he thought best for it, 19% both equally. As you’d expect, in both cases supports of the Conservative and Labour party both thought their own leader was doing what was best, but the opposing leader was just using it for political reasons.
  • The debate over the debates rolls on, and so do poll questions about it. Opinium asked about whether particular leaders should be invited – 61% think the leader of UKIP should, 46% the leader of the Greens, 30% the leader of the SNP, 23% the leader of Plaid Cymru. The current proposals for debates between Con, Lab, Lib Dem and UKIP leaders was supported by 37% of people, opposed by 31%. YouGov in the Sun on Sunday asked people to pick from some possible combinations. The most popular individual option was the widest, the Lib, Lab, Con, UKIP, Green and the SNP and Plaid. This was picked by 35% though, so while it was the most popular single option, 49% favoured a narrower option – 20% favoured the proposed Con, Lab, LD & UKIP, 17% Con, Lab, LD, UKIP and the Greens (but not the two nationalists). 12% supported an even narrower option, excluding UKIP. In their Sunday Times poll YouGov found people still think David Cameron should take part even without Natalie Bennett – if she is excluded 31% think Cameron should refuse to take part, 52% think he should take part anyway. However, asking about the other side of the deadlock, if Cameron refuses to take part without Bennett 52% think the broadcasters should call his bluff and invite her, 28% think the debates should go ahead without him, 8% think the debates should be cancelled.

Sunday polls

I’ve been caught up with various family commitments this weekend, so a very brief summary of the polls in the Sunday papers. We have the monthly ComRes poll in the Independent on Sunday, the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer, two YouGov polls (one in the Sun on Sunday, one in the Sunday Times) and a Panelbase Scottish poll in the Sunday Times.

Opinium in the Observer have topline figures of CON 28%(-2), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 20%(+3), GRN 6%(+2) – a return to decent Labour lead after their poll a fortnight ago had shown things tightening up.

ComRes’s monthly online poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror has no such movement, with the race remaining very tight. Their topline voting intentions show virtually no change from last month’s, with topline figures of CON 33%(nc), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 18%(nc), GRN 3%(+1)

YouGov in the Sunday Times also show a one point Labour lead with topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 7%. There is a second (and completely separate) YouGov poll in the Sun on Sunday but with fairly similar topline figures, CON 31% and LAB 33%.

Finally the Panelbase Scottish poll in the Sunday Times has topline Westminster voting intentions of CON 14%(-1), LAB 31%(+3), LDEM 3%(nc), SNP 41%(-4), UKIP 7%(nc). The SNP lead of ten points would still be pretty good for them by historical standards, but it’s a drop compared to the very large leads they’ve been showing in other Scottish polls since October, which have varied between 16 and 29 points. As ever, it is only one poll – it may be the first sign of that SNP lead narrowing a bit, or may just be random sample variation.


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The Christmas polling break is over. Opinium have the first poll of 2015 out tonight, conducted for the Observer. Topline figures are CON 32%(+3), LAB 33%(-3), LDEM 8%(+2), UKIP 17%(+1), GRN 4%(-1). The poll has a sharp drop in Labour’s lead, down six points since a fortnight ago, but the previous poll was that rather incongruous seven point Labour lead, so part of the change will just be a correction after an unusual poll.

Note that fieldwork for the poll was the 30th Dec to 2nd Jan, so included New Years Eve and New Years Day. There isn’t actually any real evidence that doing fieldwork on bank holidays when many people are out doing stuff produces odd results… but I’m a bit wary of it. There are examples of polls done on bank holidays producing very odd results, but there are also examples of polls done on perfectly normal days producing odd results and polls done on banks holidays producing normal looking ones.


We’ve almost arrived at the Christmas break. Today we have new polls from Opinium (their last of the year) and YouGov (their penultimate of the year – there is one more to come on Monday night). I’m not sure when Populus put out their final poll of the year, and Survation have a Scottish poll being published next week, but that should be it for the year.

Topline figures for today’s two polls are:

Opinium/Observer – CON 29%(nc), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 6%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3), GRN 5% (tabs)
YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8% (tabs)

The Observer write up of the poll, incidentally, is particularly poor, or at least, contains one particularly poor sentence. Toby Helm writes “It is the second poll in a week showing that the Tories have lost ground since chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement earlier this month”. Now, I have long whined about newspapers treating only their own poll as being meaningful and pretending others don’t exist, so well done for putting a poll in context… but it’s a rather extreme case of cherry-picking context to create a narrative that doesn’t exist.

The Opinium poll is the second one this week to show Labour’s lead growing, in fact it’s the third as there was also TNS. But there were also rather a lot of other polls that didn’t… there were another ten polls who the Observer has chosen not to mention. There was an Ipsos MORI poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes phone poll this week (no change in lead), a ComRes online poll last weekend (shrinking Labour lead), two Populus polls (who have shown smaller Labour leads in their four post-Autumn Statement polls than their four before the statement) and five YouGov polls (whose post-Autumn statement polls have shown essentially the same Labour lead as those before). Lord Ashcroft hasn’t polled this week, he’s already finished for the year, but his post Autumn Statement poll had Labour’s lead down one point. As you can see, there as as many polls showing Labour’s lead falling post Autumn Statement as rising, and overall I expect what we’re seeing is a simple case of normal random sample variation. Taking a crude average of the Labour leads in November would give you an average lead of 1.6 points, take a crude average of the polls in December so far gives you an average Labour lead of 1.6 points.

There’s always a temptation to see narratives in polls, to ignore those showing no movement, latch onto those showing exciting looking changes and build an explanation and a story around them. It’s normally wrong to do so.


This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is now up here. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 17%, GRN 7%. With Labour and the Conservatives still neck-and-neck this is very much in line with the YouGov polling before the Autumn Statement. Note the level of Green support though, YouGov and Lord Ashcroft have both shown the occassional one-off poll with the Greens ahead of the Liberal Democrats in the past, but YouGov have now produced three polls in a row with the Greens in fourth place ahead of the Lib Dems.

The rest of the YouGov poll had some questions on school nativity plays, free schools (still unpopular) and childbirth which I don’t plan on writing about today, and a few questions on the Autumn statement and stamp duty. Cameron & Osborne have a solid lead on the deficit – 41% trust them compared to 22% who trust Miliband & Balls. However, asked what the government’s policy should be on the deficit people’s views are significantly out of line with the Conservatives’. Only 20% think cutting the deficit mainly through spending cuts should be the priority, 19% think it should be cut mainly through tax increases, 36% think the government should not prioritise the deficit at all and should instead spend more or tax less to try and encourage growth. A reminder, perhaps, that people’s perceptions of who they trust on the economy or the deficit is not necessarily based on what their policies are.

By 77% to 8% people think that George Osborne’s changes to stamp duty are a good idea, and 73% think it is a fair way to increase the tax paid by the better off. Asked the same questions about Labour’s proposed mansion tax by 63% to 23% people think it is a good idea, and by 61% to 25% people think it is a fair way of increasing taxes for the better off. Asked to pick between the two, the stamp duty changes are marginally preferred – 45% think it is a better way of increasing taxes on people with expensive homes, 33% prefer the idea of the mansion tax (as you’d expect, this is largely a partisan affair – Tory voters prefer the stamp duty changes, Labour voters the mansion tax. I suspect had the Conservatives announced a mansion tax and Labour promised the changes to stamp duty the answers would be the other way around).

Opinium also had their fortnightly poll in the Observer, which had topline figures of CON 29%(-1), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 6%(-1), UKIP 19%(nc), GRN 6%(+2) (tabs here) – there is no significant changes from a fortnight ago. There was also a new Populus poll yesterday which showed a two point Labour lead, wholly inline with the three point average Labour lead the company showed in November. With three companies now having conducted polls since the Autumn Statement there is no obvious short term impact on voting intention… which is very much as we’d would expect!