So far we’ve had three polls conducted since the end of conference speech – YouGov in Friday’s Times, Opinium in today’s Observer and ICM in the Sun on Sunday. The first two included voting intention figures.

The YouGov/Times poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday after Theresa May’s conference speech. Topline figures there were CON 40%(+1), LAB 42%(-1), LDEM 7%(nc) and changes are from immediately before the Labour conference. Tabs are here.

The Opinium poll for the Observer was conducted between Wednesday and Friday (so once again, after Theresa May’s speech) and had topline figures of CON 40%(-2), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 5%(-1). Changes are from just before the Labour party conference began. Tabs are here.

The two polls show identical two point leads for the Labour party, suggesting that Theresa May’s disastrous leader’s speech hasn’t radically changed levels of party support (the changes since the previous polls are in opposite directions, but neither are statistically significant, so I expect we’re just seeing noise there). Perceptions of the Prime Minister herself may be a different matter, though the public do still seem to be divided on her future.

Opinium did pick up a fall in Theresa May’s own ratings, with her net approval down to minus 16 compared to minus 11 before the conference season. Jeremy Corbyn’s figures were up, from minus 10 before conference to minus 5 now. Theresa May had a three point lead over Jeremy Corbyn on preferred Prime Minister.

YouGov asked about the future of Theresa May as Tory leader and found the public split down the middle – 39% think she should stay, 38% think she should go. As ever, answers like this fall out along very partisan lines – 68% of Tory voters think she should stay, 55% of Labour voters think she should go. Her ratings are mediocre across the board though, her lead over Jeremy Corbyn as best PM has shrunk to only three poonts (36% to 33% – 32% of people said don’t know, suggesting a fairly large chunk of people aren’t enthused by either of them.) 59% of people now think she is doing badly as PM, 31% still think she is doing well.

A third poll by ICM for the Sun on Sunday doesn’t appear to have voting intention figures (or at least, I haven’t seen them yet), but did ask what people thought Theresa May should do now. 29% wanted her to just continue as she is, 32% wanted her to confront her party opponents (18% by having a big reshuffle, 14% by making a “back me or sack me” demand), 13% want her to go immediately, 13% want her to name a future date when she will go.

There was also a BMG poll in the Independent today, but the fieldwork was conducted prior to the Conservative conference. Figures in the newspaper were CON 37%(-2), LAB 42%(+4).


There were two new voting intention polls yesterday, plus ICM’s fortnightly poll this morning. Topline figures are

ICM/Guardian (22nd-24th): CON 40%(-2), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 8%(+1)
Survation/Mail on Sunday (22nd): CON 38%(nc), LAB 42%(-1), LDEM 8%(+1) (tabs)
Opinium (19th-22nd): CON 42%(+1), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 6%(+1) (tabs)

Changes are from a fortnight ago for ICM, last week for Opinium and the start of September for Survation.

One Conservative lead, two Labour leads and no consistent trend in either direction. Survation and ICM were both conducted after Theresa May’s Florence speech, so give us the first chance to gauge reactions to it. Survation asked about whether people supported or opposed paying £20bn to the EU during a transition period when Britain had access to the single market – 34% of people said they would support it, 47% said they would be opposed. ICM asked a similar question, but found 41% of people supported the idea and 31% were opposed – the ICM tables aren’t available yet, so I don’t know what the particularl wording was and whether it might explain the difference.


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Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor has topline figures of CON 40%(-1), LAB 44%(+2), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 2%(-1). Fieldwork was over the weekend and changes are from July.

Leader satisfaction ratings are May minus 17, Corbyn minus 3 and Cable minus 1. While Vince Cable has the least negative net rating, this is because he has far higher don’t knows than the other two leaders (39% compared to 10%) rather than any great surge of “pro-Vince” feeling. MORI also asked some more detailed questions about perceptions of the leaders’ qualities, underlining the collapse in perceptions of May’s and the rehabilitation of Jeremy Corbyn since last year. In September 2016 Theresa May had better ratings on almost everything (the sole exception was being marginally more likely to be seen as more style than substance). Now there are obvious areas where the two leaders outshine each other – May is still more likely to be seen as a capable leader, good in a crisis (though her leads are vastly reduced – in 2016 she beat Corbyn by 44 points on being a capable leader, now it’s only 7 points), but Corbyn now has strong leads on personality and honesty, and is much less likely to be seen as out of touch.

MORI also repeated their regular question comparing the popularity of leaders and their parties – do respondents like the leader and party, the leader but not their party, the party but not its leader, or neither of them? 46% of people said they liked Jeremy Corbyn (up 9 since last year), putting him eight points behind Labour on 54% (up 8) – that means both Corbyn and Labour have become more popular, but Corbyn continues to be less popular than his party. Compare this with the Conservatives: a year ago Theresa May vastly outshone her party, by 60% to 38%. That gap has now vanished – the Conservative party is still only liked by 38%, but Theresa May is now on the same figure, down by 22 points (At the risk of pointing out the obvious, note how much stronger the Labour brand remains than the Conservative party – while they may not vote for them, most people have a broadly positive perception of the Labour party, far more than can be said for the Tories). Full tabs are here

There was also a poll by Opinium at the weekend, which had movement in the opposition direction. Their topline figures were CON 41%(+1), LAB 41%(-2), LDEM 5%(-1), UKIP 5%(+1). Looking at the broader picture, the polls still appear to be clustered around a very small lead for the Labour party. Tabs for Opinium are here.


I’ve got an article over on the YouGov website about the difficulty on polling on the Brexit financial settlement (or “Brexit divorce bill” as the more Eurosceptic elements of the press tend to call it). Brexit is obviously a very complicated issue – the Brexit deal will almost inevitably dominate the next year of British politics, yet the complexities of it mean it’s very hard to ask about until there’s actually a deal on the table.

The financial settlement between Britain and the EU should, on the face of it, be one of the more simple issues. On the face of it you might expect it to be fairly simple to ask people what sort of financial settlement the public would think was reasonable and what sort of settlement would have the public thinking Theresa May has struck a poor deal. In fact such questions give us a very poor guide, simply because most people are not particularly good at comprehending very large numbers.

If you ask a question about what a reasonable price is for, for example, a pair of shoes, it should work very well. Everyone knows roughly what shoes cost, and know the value of £10 or £30 or £100. The same does not apply for government spending – £50 billion is an unfathomably large amount of money… but then, so is £20 billion, or £10 billion or £5 billion. Most of us don’t really have any good yardstick for judging just how big or small these huge numbers are, nor whether they are a good or bad deal for Britain.

Nevertheless, if you ask people about a financial settlement people will still express opinions. Back in August there was an ICM/Guardian poll that found 41% of people though a £10bn settlement would be acceptable, up from just 15% in April. This seemed like a startling rise, but as both ICM and the Guardian cautioned, it could just be the way the question was worded. In April ICM first asked about the lower figure of £3bn, but in August £10bn was the lowest they offered.

This seemed like a more plausible explanation to me, but just to be sure we tested it at YouGov. We used a split sample – one half of the respondents got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £5bn, £10bn and £20bn. The other half of the sample got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £25bn, £50bn and £75bn.

On the first bank of questions 38% thought £5bn would be acceptable, 18% thought £10bn would be acceptable, 11% thought that £20bn would be acceptable. Looking at the other half of the sample, 29% thought that £25bn was acceptable, 9% thought that £50bn was acceptable, 6% thought that £75bn would be acceptable (full tabs are here.)

Taken as a whole we get the the rather perverse finding that while support generally falls as the size of the settlement increases, £25 billion is far more acceptable to the public than £20 billion. This is nonsense of course, and the reason is simple enough – people take their cues from the question itself. In the first half of the sample, £5bn was the lowest amount asked about, £20bn the largest amount, and many respondents presumably took this as an implication that £5bn was a low settlement, £20bn a high one. For the second half of the sample £25bn was the lowest figure asked about, so many respondents presumably took the implication that this was a low settlement. Whether people said a sum was acceptable or not was less about the actual number, more about whether the question implied that it was a low or high figure.

The point is that questions about what level of “divorce bill” will be acceptable to the public don’t really tell us much. People don’t have any good way of telling what is a good or bad deal and are really just expressing their unsurprising preference for a smaller settlement. When (or if) Britain and the EU do finally agree on a sum, it won’t be so much the particular figure that determines whether the public see it as a victory or a sell-out, but whether the media and political class present it to them as a good or bad deal.

Meanwhile, lastest GB voting intention figures this week are below – both show the parties pretty much neck-and-neck, neither show any obvious movement:
YouGov/Times (12th-13th Sept) – CON 41%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 3%(-1) (tabs)
ICM/Guardian (8th-10th Sept) – CON 42%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 4%(+1) (tabs)


The Times this morning report that the government are to drop the 600 seat boundary review and start again with a 650 seat review. A few technical points on this:

  • The rules and timetable for the Boundary Commission are set out in statute, meaning that any changes will require primary legislation. Until the law is changed the current review will continue, based on 600 seats and a deadline of 2018. To go back to a target of 650 seats the government will need to pass new legislation changing the rules to 650 seats, and starting up a new review from scratch.
  • That legislation will be an opportunity to change other boundary rules. In the Times article there’s a quote from Labour saying they’d support the change back to 650 seats, but no doubt they’ll have some other recommendations too were the government to try and get cross-party support for the Bill. Even if the government aim to change only the 600 seat rule, there will be opportunity for the Bill to be amended in other ways as it passes through the Commons and Lords. Two things to really keep an eye on are how close to the quota the boundary review requires seats to be (currently 5%, but the Private Member’s Bill that Labour supported last year would have changed that to 10%) and how often they need to happen (currently 5 years, but the Labour Bill last year suggested ten years). Either change would make things a bit better for Labour – as a general rule, strict equality requirements and frequent reviews favour the Tories, more flexible equality requirements and less frequent reviews favour Labour.
  • Timing will be a little tight, especially if the Bill doesn’t get cross-party support and gets tied up in the Lords. On the current rules it takes three years to carry out a review, and that was achieved by cutting the process down as much as possible. If the government want a review conducted in time for 2022 they need to get that legislation going soon so the Boundary Commissions can scrap their current review and start again on a new one next year.
  • If the review happens it will still favour the Tories a bit, regardless of tweaks to the rules. The current constituency boundaries are based on the electorate in 2001, so updating it for sixteen years of demographic change is still going to move things about quite a lot. Taking the electorates from the 2017 general election, by my reckoning a boundary review on 650 seats would still produce 7 extra seats for the South East, 3 extra seats for the South West and 3 in the East (presumably mostly Tory), and seats being lost in the North East, North West, Scotland and especially Wales.

Meanwhile there are two voting intention polls to update on:

YouGov for the Times had voting intentions of CON 41%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 6%(-2), UKIP 4%(+1). Fieldwork was Wednesday and Thursday last week and changes are from a week before. Full tables are here. YouGov also released some interesting European polling on Brexit, asking other EU countries how they’d react if Britain did an about face and decided that we did, after all, want to remain in the European Union. This would be welcomed in Germany – 49% of Germans would rather we stayed, 25% that we left and the most common emotional reactions to Britain staying after all would be “Relieved” (23%) and “Pleased” (22%). Contrast this with France – 32% of French respondents would prefer that Britain stays, but 38% would rather we go. The most common French reaction to us changing our minds would be “Indifference” (23%) (tabs for the EU polling are here.)

Meanwhile Survation in the Mail on Sunday had an online poll in the Mail on Sunday with topline figures of CON 38%(nc), LAB 43%(+2), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 4%(-2). Fieldwork was Thursday and Friday last week, and changes are from Survation’s last online poll in July. For the record, there is a very minor method change in the Survation poll – UKIP are no longer prompted in the main question. Full tables are here.