Six weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls:

Opinium/Observer (19/3) – CON 36%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Survation/MoS (21/3) – CON 30%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 17%, GRN 3%
Populus(22/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (22/3) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Mail (22/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 10%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Times (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
YouGov/Sun (23/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (24/3) – CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Survation/Mirror (25/3) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (25/3) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
Panelbase (26/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/3) – CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%
Populus (26/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%

It’s been a busy week in terms of voting intention polls – ComRes have now moved to weekly polling for the Daily Mail, Survation did two ones (one for the Mail on Sunday and one for the Mirror) and we got the first UK poll from Panelbase. Five of the polls showed dead heats between Labour and the Conservatives, there were three Tory leads and six Labour leads. The bigger picture remains one of the two main parties being neck-and-neck, but there have been slightly more Labour leads than Tory ones in recent polls, so the UKPR polling average this week has Labour one point ahead – CON 33%(nc), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 5%(-1).

Scottish and London polls

ICM had new Scottish and London polls out this week. In Scotland they found Westminster voting intentions of CON 14%(+1), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 6%(nc), SNP 43%(nc), UKIP 7%(nc), GRN 3%(-1), changes are from their previous Scottish poll in December. At 16 points ICM show a slightly smaller SNP lead than some other companies, but there is no significant change from their previous poll, suggesting its something methodological rather than a narrowing of the SNP lead.

This morning ICM had a London poll for the Guardian. Voting intentions for that were CON 32%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9%, GRN 8%. That represents a four point swing from Conservative to Labour since the general election – the equivalent of a one point Labour lead in national polls – so again suggests that the swing in London is much the same as in the rest of the country.

Week 12

  • David Cameron ruled out standing for a third term as Prime Minister. Unusual not because of the content – if he wins he was widely expected to stand down at some point after the European referendum anyway – but because he said it, out loud, to a journalist. In terms of public opinion 55% of people said Cameron was right to rule out a third term, 18% wrong. A majority of supporters of all parties – including Tory voters – thought it was the right thing to do. 21% of people said it made them think better of Cameron, 9% worse of him, but for the majority of people it made no difference to how they viewed him.
  • The final PMQs of the Parliament was dominated by exchanges on ruling out tax rises. Asked before Cameron ruled out a VAT rise and Ed Balls ruled out a National Insurance rise, at the start of the week YouGov found 43% of people expected tax to go up if Labour won, 29% expect it to go up if the Conservatives win. Under a Labour government, 43% expected income tax to rise, 41% expected fuel duty to rise, 39% expected national insurance to rise… but only 22% expected VAT to go up. Under a Tory government 34% expected fuel duty to rise, 31% expected VAT to rise, 29% expected NI to rise and 25% expected income tax to rise.
  • The debate debate finally came to an end with an agreement to have four events: a Paxman interrogation of Miliband and Cameron; a seven-way debate between Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Uncle Tom Cobley and all; a debate between the five opposition parties and a Question Time special with Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, one after the other. The Paxman interrogation took place last night. An ICM poll straight after the debate found people thought Cameron came out better than Miliband by 54% to 46% – we will have to wait until the weekend to see if it has any impact upon either voting intentions or perceptions of the leaders. Over the last five years Cameron has consistently had better ratings than Miliband, so in many ways a performance that’s pretty even has the potential to help Miliband far more than Cameron. As ever, time will tell.
  • The physical mechanics of the general election have started to kick in. Yesterday Parliament was prorogued, on Monday it will be dissolved and the writ issued and we’ll be off. The start of the formal campaign means various bits of regulation kick in, including the broadcasting restrictions requiring coverage of the main parties and spending limits upon the parties.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below (the Polling Observatory team are doing fortnightly predictions, so nothing new from them this week). Three of the models continue to show the Conservatives with just a few more seats than Labour, but Steve Fisher’s prediction from Elections Etc now has them 35 ahead of Labour. This is due to a methodology change rather than a move in opinion – Steve’s model for predicting the vote shares in England & Wales remains unchanged, but he’s no longer assuming such a big drop in SNP support in Scotland, and has rejigged how he translates projected votes into seats based on Ashcroft and YouGov polling (it’s explained in more detail here.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 296(+12), LAB 261(-17), LD 21(nc), SNP 47(+6), UKIP 5(+2)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 283(-1), LAB 280(+2), LD 26(+1), SNP 38(-2), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 273(-4), LAB 271(+3), LD 24(nc), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 5(+2)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 277(nc), LAB 269(+1), LD 25(nc), SNP 53(-1), UKIP 4(nc)


Seven Weeks to Go

Here are this week’s polls:

Opinium/Observer (12/3) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/S Times (13/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
ComRes/Indy on Sunday (13/3) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 4%
ICM/Guardian (15/3) – CON 36%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 9%, GRN 4%
Populus (15/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (15/3) – CON 31%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (16/3) – CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
TNS BMRB (16/3) – CON 33%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 17%, GRN 4%
YouGov/Sun (17/3) – CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (18/3) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (19/3) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Populus (19/3) – CON 31%, LAB 34%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 17%, GRN 5%

After a wafer thin Tory lead in the UKPR polling average last week, this week Labour and Conservative are neck-and-neck: CON 33%(nc), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 14%(-1), GRN 6%(nc). The consistent small Labour lead we had for most of the year has vanished, but the Conservatives have not managed to open one of their own.

Scottish and constituency polls

Survation put out a new Scottish poll this week (in fact they put out new – a new one for the Daily Record, and an older one for Unison). Both showed the SNP lead in Scotland holding strong, and no sign of any movement back to Labour. There was also a new batch of Ashcroft polling which I discussed here

Budget Week

This week was the most significant fixed event of the year before the general election. We still have the parties’ manifesto launches and (perhaps) a debate or debates of some sort, but the budget was indisputably one of the most important known unknowns that could potentially change public opinion before the election. The commentariat invariably spend the run up to the budget speculating about what rabbits the Chancellor will pull out of the hat to make a major impact on the election – history suggests it very rarely happens. There are examples of government support slumping after bad budgets – one of the biggest shifts in public opinion this Parliament came after the bodged 2012 “omnishambles” budget – but precious few of them of them giving a government a substantial boost.

We are not yet in a position to judge whether or not the 2015 budget had any effect. The initial post-budget polling from YouGov gave it a thumbs up – more people thought it was fair than unfair, more people thought it would make them better off than worse off. Most however thought it made no difference, and even a positive reaction does not automatically lead to any impact on the polls. The two voting intention polls we’ve seen since the budget do not point to any big shift – YouGov showed the Conservatives up, but Populus showed them down.

Beyond the budget there was another tiptoe forward in the debate debate. The broadcasters are reportedly now offering one seven way debate on ITV, a Paxman grilling of Miliband and Cameron on Channel4/Sky and two Question Time style events on BBC – one for UKIP, the SNP, Plaid and the Greens, one with Miliband, Clegg and Cameron, but separately. Cameron has agreed to the seven way debate, but all else seems unconfirmed. The first event – the Paxman grilling – is pencilled in to take place next Thursday though, so one way or another, decisions will be made next week.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below, as well as the new model from the Polling Observatory team. As usual all the models predict a hung Parliament – most have the Tories with marginally more seats than Labour, Polling Observatory have Labour with a 20 seat lead.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 284(-1), LAB 278(-1), LD 21(-1), SNP 41(+1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 284(-4), LAB 278(+7), LD 25(-1), SNP 40(-2), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 277(-4), LAB 268(+5), LD 24(nc), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 3(-1)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 277(-2), LAB 268(+3), LD 25(-2), SNP 54(+1), UKIP 4(nc)
Polling Observatory – Hung Parliament, CON 265, LAB 285, LDEM 24, SNP 49, UKIP 3


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Eight weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls

YouGov/S Times (6/3) – CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%
Opinium/Observer (6/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
Populus (8/3) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (8/3) – CON 34%, LAB 30%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (9/3) – CON 35%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (10/3) – CON 33%, LAB 31%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (11/3) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Ipsos MORI/Standard (11/3) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (12/3) – CON 33%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%
Populus (12/3) – CON 29%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%

After two months of very little movement there is finally some sign of a shift. YouGov’s daily poll seems to have flipped over into showing a Tory lead – four of their five polls this week showed a Conservative lead. Populus is still showing a Labour lead, as did the monthly Ipsos MORI poll this week, but it’s the underlying trends that count and, for now at least, the UKPR polling average puts the Tories into a tiny lead – CON 33%(nc), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc).

Scottish and Welsh polls

YouGov also produced Scottish and Welsh polls this week. The Welsh polling is here, and had topline Westminster figures of CON 25%, LAB 39%, LDEM 5%, Plaid 10%, UKIP 14%.

The Scottish polling is here and has topline figures of CON 18%, LAB 27%, LDEM 4%, SNP 46%, UKIP 2%. The SNP lead is down two points since the previous YouGov Scottish poll at the start of February, but remains at a formidable 19 points.

The Scottish poll also included some questions designed to tease out how effective Labour attempts to fight the SNP with a “vote SNP get Tory” sort of message. The short answer is not very. Essentially, for such an approach to work SNP voters would need to believe that returning SNP MPs really would make a Tory government more likely, would need to think a Conservative government was significantly worse than the alternative and would need to consider avoiding a Tory government as more important to them than the opportunity of returning lots of SNP MPs. All of these requirements are quite weakly represented amongst SNP voters – only 27% of SNP voters buy the argument that more SNP MPs will make a Conservative government more likely and while 38% of SNP voters think a Labour government at Westminster would be better for Scotland than a Tory one, only 15% think there’s “much” difference, and 49% think there’s little difference at all. Finally, even if SNP voters did think that returning SNP MPs would make a Tory government more likely, by 46% to 31% they’d rather have a Tory government and lots of SNP MPs than a Labour government and not many.

Week 10

  • The debate debate was still rolling at the start of the week, but has thankfully now faded out a bit. The rival bid to host the debates online by the Guardian, Telegraph & Youtube have said they they would host a five way debate before the end of March, so meeting David Cameron’s demands on timing. Otherwise there has been no further progress
  • There was debate earlier in the week about whether the government should commit to the NATO target of 2% spending on defence. YouGov asked about Defence spending last month and found 49% think we should spend more on defence, 16% less and 20% about the right amount. Defence spending is an interesting subject as it does at least divide opinion. Most spending issues are really one way streets – the vast majority of the public think spending on things like the NHS, policing and education is a good thing and would like more of it, it’s just a case of what governments can afford and how they fund it. Equally opinion polls asking what should be priority for cuts always find overseas aid top of the list. Defence is one of those few issues where there is both a significant chunk of people who think spending money on it is a bad thing that should be cut, and a significant chunk of people who think it is a good thing that should be protected. Welfare is another.
  • Nigel Farage got into a row over discrimination laws – appearing to say that UKIP would repeal discrimination laws, but later saying he meant only laws on discriminating on the grounds of nationality. When it comes to discrimination on grounds of nationality, I expect we will find most people agreeing with Nigel Farage – there has not been any polling on what he said yet, but looking back YouGov found in 2011 that 51% of people thought companies should prioritise British workers, even if there are better qualified foreign workers. What may be less good for UKIP is if the political row around Farage’s statement damages the party’s already somewhat shakey image on racism – last month ComRes found 44% of people agreed with the statement that UKIP were racist, up from 32% last year.
  • By the end of the week the main political issue appeared to be how many kitchens Ed Miliband has. I think it’s fair to say that’s the sign it hasn’t really been a huge news week. Onwards to…
  • Budget week. The budget is on Wednesday, one of the few big set pieces we’ve got before the election that we can reasonably assume most people really will notice, and which does have the possiblity to actually shift votes. As I say most years, people are often too ready to assume that the budget is an opportunity for the Chancellor, when often it’s a bullet to be dodged – there are plenty of instances of budgets damaging a government and not that many of them providing a real boost. Nevertheless, the timing means this is likely to be an extremely political budget and we shall see if it has any effect

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015, Elections Etc and the Guardian are below (the Polling Observatory team’s projection should finally make it’s proper debut this coming week). All predict a hung Parliament, and all continue to predict the Conservatives winning the most seats.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 285(-1), LAB 279(+1), LD 22(nc), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 288(+2), LAB 271(-9), LD 26(+2), SNP 42(+4), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 281(+5), LAB 263(-8), LD 24(+1), SNP 55(nc), UKIP 4(+1)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 279(+4), LAB 265(-6), LD 27(+1), SNP 53(+1), UKIP 4(nc)


Nine weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls – just the regular weekly, twice-weekly and daily polls this week.

Opinium/Observer (26/2) – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
Populus (27/2) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%
YouGov/S Times (27/2) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Populus (1/3) – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%
Ashcroft (1/3) – CON 34%, LAB 31%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (2/3) – CON 35%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (3/3) – CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (4/3) – CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (5/3) – CON 31%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%
Populus (5/3) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%

There was a little group of polls showing the Conservatives ahead at the start of the week, provoking some speculation about whether or not we were seeing some sign of movement. By the end of the week though we’d had five polls showing Labour leads, two showing a draw, three showing Tory leads. For now, at least, the UKPR polling average continues to show a one point Labour lead – CON 33%(+1), LAB 34%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc).

Sub-national polls

YouGov had a London poll earlier in the week showing topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 44%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 5% – a five point swing to Labour since the general election. I wrote more about it here.

We also had a batch of Ashcroft constituency polls which I discussed here. He polled four Conservative held seats in England and Wales and a fresh batch of Scottish seats. The first lot of Scottish polling Ashcroft did which concentrated on Labour seats in areas that voted YES. This set were more evenly spread across different areas of Scotland, but showed the SNP surge also happening in NO voting areas. They included polls showing the SNP ahead in Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, ahead in Charles Kennedy’s seat and just a point behind Jim Murphy in East Renfrewshire.

Week 9

  • The week began with reaction to Labour’s tuition fees policy. A lot of the reactions to it in the media were critical, claiming out that because graduates who earn low wages don’t pay off their loans, it would only really benefit better off graduates. As ever, it’s perceptions of a policy that counts – and YouGov polling at the start of the week found that, while more people thought it would help better off graduates, 32% of people still thought it would help out graduates earning a low salary, and overall people supported it by 49% to 31%.
  • UKIP announced their immigration policy, with Nigel Farage surprisingly rejecting any form of cap or limit in favour of a general reduction. More polling on that to come, but again, remember that people don’t necessarily pick up on the details of policy. In the same way that many people will simply have picked up that Labour will cut tuition fees, the details of UKIP’s immigration policy probably don’t much matter – most voters will just be aware that UKIP are generally in favour of cutting it.
  • And the debate debate may finally be nearing its endgame. The Conservatives wrote to the broadcasters saying Cameron’s final offer was to take part in one, seven-way debate in the last week of March. The broadcasters wrote back saying they would still do the 7-7-2 debates in April without him. I wrote about the potential polling impact of the debate debate here – the weekend polls on Sunday will be our first opportunity to see if it actually has had any effect

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below, along with the Guardian’s new election projection (note that May2015 have got a problem with their site, so the figures below are the corrected ones they should be showing). As usual, everyone is projecting a hung Parliament, though all four are now projecting the Conservatives to have the most seats.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 286(+7), LAB 278(-5), LD 22(-1), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 286(+1), LAB 280(+4), LD 24(-3), SNP 38(-1), UKIP 1(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 276(+6), LAB 271(nc), LD 23(-3), SNP 55(-1), UKIP 3(-1)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 275(nc), LAB 271(nc), LD 26(-1), SNP 52(+1), UKIP 4(nc)


Ten weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls.

YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Opinium/Observer (20/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 8%
Survation/Mirror(23/2) – CON 28%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 19%, GRN 4%
ComRes/Mail (23/2) – CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (23/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (24/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (25/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Populus (27/2) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%

The voting intention polls are continuing to show the same stasis we’ve had for the whole of the year so far, Con and Lab almost neck and neck, Labour just a smidgin ahead. Of this week’s polls five showed Labour leads, three Tory leads, three with a draw. The UKPR polling average is wholly unchanged from last week, remaining on CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc). Perhaps the most notable change among some very unnotable polls was a change in who commissioned them – ComRes had been the pollsters for the Independent since 2006, but this week switched their monthly telephone poll over to the Daily Mail (they will continue to carry out online polls for the Independent’s Sunday stablemate).

Scottish, London and Constituency polls

TNS put out a new Scottish poll this morning with topline figures for Westminster voting intention of CON 14%(-2), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 3%(-1), SNP 46%(+5), UKIP 3%(+1) (tabs). The previous TNS poll had shown an SNP lead of only ten points, this TNS poll is far more similar to the Scottish figures being shown by other companies.

YouGov put out a new London poll earlier in the week for the Times with topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 9%, GRN 6%. This gives Labour an eight point lead in the London, but given they won the vote in London at the 2010 electon is actually a slightly smaller Con>Lab swing that in the country as a whole. I wrote more about the poll here.

Finally there was a new Survation poll of Thanet South for UKIP donor Alan Bown, showing Nigel Farage with an eleven point lead. This compares with the Lord Ashcroft poll of Thanet South last November that had, once corrected, shown Farage one point behind the Conservatives. It may be that UKIP have managed to open up a lead in Thanet South since November, but there were also substantial methodological differences between the two polls – the new Survation poll prompted using the candidates names, which may well have helped Nigel Farage as the most well known of the candidates. There were also differences in weighting – Lord Ashcroft weights by recalled vote and by social class, whereas Survation don’t; Survation weight by council wards within the constituency whereas Ashcroft doesn’t. Finally there were don’t knows – Survation exclude them, Ashcroft assumes some vote for the party they did last time. And of course, this is a poll commissioned by a party – that should make no difference to how the poll is done (apart from adding candidate names this is Survation’s regular methodology), but it brings with it publication bias: if parties commission polls and don’t like the results, they don’t publish them.

Week 8

  • Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind were caught in a newspaper sting on MPs taking second jobs. Rifkind stepped down, Ed Miliband promised a ban on second jobs. YouGov polling found only 26% thought that MPs having second jobs helped keep them in touch and was better than full time politicians, 60% thought they should concentrate on their main job and second jobs risked corruption. 54% would support a ban on MPs having second jobs.
  • Immigration figures came out showing net immigration way above David Cameron’s stated ambition to reduce it to “tens of thousands”. I suspect the Conservatives failure to meet the target has long been accepted by the public and priced into their opinion though – early last year the proportion of people thinking it was likely the government would hit their target had already fallen to just 9%. Still, coverage of immigration will likely keep UKIP’s strongest issue high on the agenda.
  • Labour announced their policy on tuition fees. On the principle of who should pay for higher education the public are actually quite evenly split – 43% think it should be paid from general taxation, 42% that students should pay it through tuition fees or a graduate tax. For a reduction in the level of tuition fees though I expect Labour will get the thumbs up – in December YouGov found people were in favour of a reduction in tuition fees by 54% to 21%, even if it meant less funding for universities
  • And the debate debate struggled onwards. At the weekend the papers quietly suggested that the debates may now be dead, on Monday the broadcasters announced the order of the debates (the two big ones first, followed by the Cameron-v-Miliband head to head). For the moment though, it seems to have gone quiet.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below, along with the Guardian’s new election projection. As usual, everyone is projecting an extremely hung Parliament, with the two main parties close together in seat numbers.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 279(-2), LAB 283(+1), LD 23(nc), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 285(+3), LAB 276(-4), LD 27(+2), SNP 39(-1), UKIP 1(-1)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 270(+4), LAB 271(-4), LD 26(nc), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 275, LAB 271, LD 27, SNP 51, UKIP 4