Two voting intention polls in the Sunday papers. Deltapoll in the Mail on Sunday had CON 42%, LAB 38%, LDEM 6% (report here). Opinium in the Observer has CON 39%, LAB 42%, LDEM 5% (report here).

I expect rather more attention will be given to the poll from Opinium as the Labour lead is the first we’ve seen since July 2019. We’ve had a couple of polls showing the main parties neck-and-neck in recent weeks (there was another one yesterday from Redfield & Wilton, showing them both at 40%). Looking across the various polls it is clear that the two main parties were heading towards roughly equal levels of support and, therefore, normal margin of error was going to spit out a Labour lead soon enough.

The question is what impact this starts to have upon the political environment – assuming the pattern continues – voting intention polls this far out have little predictive value (4 years to go!), but do have an influence on how the parties are perceived to be doing by their own supporters, their own MPs and the media. It helps Keir Starmer to be seen as a winner, who has put the Labour party back into the lead. It risks doing the opposite for Boris Johnson, especially given one of his selling points to the Tory party was his popularity with the public.


YouGov’s latest poll for the Times has topline voting intention figures of CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 6%, GRN 5% – the first time that the Conservatives have lost their lead in a YouGov poll since Boris Johnson became leader. Opinium also put out a poll showing the parties neck-and-neck at the end of August, though there most recent poll has the Conservatives ahead again. Other recent polls have also showed a narrowing – Redfield & Wilton had 2 point Tory lead this week, Survation 2 points and NCPolitics 4 points earlier in September.

To some degree this isn’t really a surprise. The Conservatives no longer have the advantage of a more popular leader, with Keir Starmer consistently getting higher approval ratings than Boris Johnson. The “rally round the flag” factor – the tendency for people to support the government at times of national crisis – has now vanished, and public opinion is increasingly critical of the government’s handling of the corona outbreak. In YouGov’s tracker the proportion of people thinking the government are handling corona well is down to 30% (lower than any of the other countries tracked). The question may perhaps be why the Conservatives aren’t doing worse?

Part of that may be the underlying factor of Brexit. Boris Johnson was elected primarily on a platform of delivering Brexit – it is still seen as one of the most important issues facing the country, and the Conservatives still have a solid lead on delivering it. There is also still a lack of confidence in the Labour party – while Starmer is seen as a potential Prime Minister, people still appear to have very little idea what he stands for (the YouGov poll today contained questions asking what issues people cared about the most, and what issues people think the Labour party and Keir Starmer himself cared about. The latter returned an overwhelming Don’t know). Only 28% of people think that the Labour party looks ready for government, and they have negative trust ratings on issues like the economy, Brexit or defence & security. While Starmer’s leadership has had a good start, the Labour party has a way to go.

Either way, at this stage in a Parliament the importance of less is less predictive (after all, there are probably years to go), and more the impact on party morale, and how the parties are percieved. Remember, one of Boris Johnson’s main selling points to the Conservative party was that he was popular with the public. He was the Tory who could reach parties that other Tories could not. What becomes of him if Labour pull ahead and the Tory party realise that he isn’t popular anymore?


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Recent voting intention figures continue to show a moderate Conservative lead of between 6 and 9 points. Voting intention polls published so far this month are:

YouGov/Times (5th Aug) – CON 42, LAB 36, LD 8
Redfield & Wilton (12th Aug) – CON 43, LAB 36, LD 9
Ipsos MORI/Standard (4th Aug) – CON 45, LAB 37, LD 6
Survation (3rd Aug) – CON 44, LAB 35, LD 8

While the media narrative around the government’s handling of the Corona outbreak has turned far more negative, the polling suggests the public are still quite evenly split. So in the latest Ipsos MORI monitor 42% think the government have handled the outbreak well, 40% badly.

Keir Starmer continues to poll positively. His satisfaction rating from MORI is plus 22, by 38% to 24% people think he has what it takes to be a good PM. In YouGov’s regular “best PM” question Starmer led Johnson by 34 to 32% last week – the first time the Labour leader has been in the lead since a single poll straight after the 2017 election. Starmer apparently polling more positively than Labour is an interesting dynamic. MORI have (or used to have) a nice tracker question asking if people like the leader, like the party, both or neither. Over the last couple of decades people have consistently liked the Labour party more than they’ve liked its leaders. I don’t think they’ve asked it yet of Starmer, but all other other polling suggests we may find ourselves in the unusual position of having a Labour leader who is more popular than their party. A different question is to what extent this is because Starmer appeals to the public more than his predecessors, and to what extent it’s a sign that the Labour party’s own brand has been tarnished.

Immigration has started to sneak up the political agenda again, presumably on the back of coverage of migrant boats in the English Channel. YouGov’s weekly tracker on the most important issue facing the country has immigration spiking up 9 points to 29%, though health, the economy and Brexit remain the dominant issues. The Ipsos MORI issues index shows it significantly lower – up 3 points to only 9% – but the fieldwork for that is a little older (conducted 31st Jul-5th Aug), so may have concluded before the story really hit headlines.

The week there was also a new YouGov poll of Scotland. Voting intentions for the Scottish Parliament election next year were SNP 57%, CON 20%, LAB 14%, LDEM 8% for the constituency vote, SNP 47%, CON 21%, LAB 14%, LD 7%, GRN 6%. Translated into seats this would likely give the SNP a solid overall majority despite the Scottish Parliament’s electoral system.

That would increase the chances of another independence referendum in the near future. The same poll found that by 44% to 41% people thought there should be a referendum in the event the SNP win a majority, and that as things stand people would vote yes. 45% of people they would vote yes, 40% no. Removing won’t votes and don’t knows, that translates to Yes 53%, No 47%. Tabs for the Scottish polling are here.


Voting intention polling straight after a general election is probably the least interesting of any voting intention polling, especially a general election that has produced a decisive result. That goes all the more when two of the main parties have leadership contests, so voters don’t know who is going to lead them or what is going to be on offer. Nevertheless, any tracker needs to start somewhere.

So far we have had three voting intention polls since the general election. The first post-election YouGov poll came out in this morning’s Times, with topline figures of CON 49%(+4), LAB 29%(-4), LDEM 10%(-2), GRN 4%(+1). Fieldwork was over the weekend.

We have also had a first post-election poll from Opinium (fieldwork 15th-17th Jan), which had topline figures of CON 47%(+2), LAB 30%(-3), LDEM 9%(-3), GRN 4%(+1), and BMG (fieldwork 8th-10th Jan) which had figures of CON 44%(-1), LAB 29%(-4), LDEM 11%(-1), GRN 5%(+2).

All of them show a bigger lead for the Conservatives than at last month’s general election, probably no more than a honeymoon and a reflection that Labour don’t currently have a leader.


A very quick update on voting intention polls over the last few weeks. As usual August is a relatively quiet period – opinion pollsters have holidays too. The fact that we have a new Prime Minister hasn’t made much change to that. In August so far we’ve had five voting intention polls:

BMG/Independent (Dates TBC) – CON 31%, LAB 25%, LDEM 19%, BREX 12%, GRN ?
ComRes/Telegraph (11th Aug) – CON 31%, LAB 27%, LDEM 16%, BREX 16%, GRN 4% (tabs)
Survation (11th Aug) – CON 28%, LAB 24%, LDEM 21%, BREX 15%, GRN 3% (tabs)
Opinium/Observer (9th Aug) – CON 31%, LAB 28%, LDEM 13%, BREX 16%, GRN 5% (tabs)
YouGov/Times (6th Aug) – CON 31%, LAB 22%, LDEM 21%, BREX 14%, GRN 7% (tabs)

Note that the BMG tables aren’t up yet, hence I don’t know the level of support for the Greens or their fieldwork dates. These polls continue to show the boost in Conservative party support following Boris Johnson’s accession filtering though. It is the first “Post-Johnson” poll for BMG and Survation, and they show the Conservatives up by 3 and 5 points respectively. We’re now at a point where the most recent polls from all the regular polling companies show the Conservatives back ahead, though the size of their lead differs given the variation in figures between pollsters.

Normally I would be speculating about how long the government’s honeymoon boost would last. It’s not really the case here given how many political events are going to be crammed into the next few months. Events will likely preempt its natural unwinding: whatever diplomatic negotiations or stand offs occur between the government and the EU (starting with the G7 meeting this week), whatever Parliamentary moves there may be against the government or against No Deal, the party conferences, whatever preparations or announcements there may be on No Deal and, of course, the actual outcome at the end of October. The current levels of party support seem rather irrelevant in the face of that – the Conservatives are probably happy to have a lead at the moment, but there are ten weeks ahead of us that are packed with events that can throw everything up in the air.