The biggest political news story today is the government’s decision to allow the opening of a de facto new grammar school in Kent (it’s illegal to actually open a new grammar school, so technically it’s a second site for an existing grammar school in another town). Obviously it’s too early for there to be any polling in re-action to this, but it’s a long standing issue so there is plenty of past polling to look at.

On balance, the public tend to support the existence of current grammar schools – only around a quarter of people support the government ending selection in the remaining grammar schools and opening them to children of all abilities. In contrast, around 40% of people support allowing more selection by ability and the opening of new Grammar schools – the balance is made up of don’t knows and people who back what was the status quo of allowing the existing grammar schools to remain, but not allowing any new ones.

In May YouGov asked about the “loophole” that Nicky Morgan today approved – opening up an extension of an existing grammar school at a new campus in a different location. 51% of people approved of that idea, 18% disapproved, 30% didn’t know. So for what it’s worth, it appears to get the public’s thumbs up.

As an aside, whenever the issue of public attitudes towards grammar schools pops up on the agenda I see the same question. Polls that ask about grammar schools normally show the sort of results I’ve outlined above, and critics of grammar schools will normally counter with something along the lines of “Ah, but you only asked about grammar schools, if you’d asked do you want to bring back grammar schools for those who pass the test… and secondary moderns for those who don’t, then you would have got a different answer”.

That’s a reasonable point. So we tested it.

Back in February YouGov asked a question to two different samples. Half were asked if they’d like to bring back grammar schools across the whole of Great Britain – 53% said yes, 20% said no. The other half were asked if they’d like to bring back the system of an exam at 11, with 25% of children who passed going to grammar schools and the other 75% going to secondary moderns. Now 46% of people supported it, 34% of people were opposed.

People are, at first glance, pretty supportive of grammar schools. That support is undermined a little when people consider the other side of the coin – the majority of children who do not pass the exam – but grammar schools still have more supporters than detractors.

There is a new YouGov Scottish poll in this morning’s Times. Topline Holyrood voting intentions are pretty much unchanged from YouGov’s last Scottish poll a month ago, just before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader. Constituency vote stands are CON 19%(+1), LAB 21%(-1), LDEM 5%(+1), SNP 51%(nc), regional vote stands at CON 19%(+1), LAB 20%(nc), LDEM 5%(+1), SNP 45%(nc), GRN 6%(nc). There is no obvious Corbyn effect, positive or negative.

Voting intention in another referendum on Scottish independence is also unchanged from last month, still at YES 48%, NO 52%.

The poll also asked about people’s attitudes towards income tax in Scotland and at what level it should be set once the Scottish government is given greater powers over taxation. There was relatively little support for a cut in income tax in Scotland – 60% opposed a tax cut funded by cuts to benefits or tax credits, 74% opposed a tax cut funded by cuts to money spent on public services. Attitudes towards an increase in Scottish income tax were more mixed, 57% would be opposed to increasing income tax to spend on benefits or tax credits, but 52% would support increasing income tax to improve Scotland’s public services. Full tabs for the Scottish poll are here.


The Sun had fresh YouGov voting intention figures today, fieldwork conducted straight after Jeremy Corbyn’s speech. Topline figures are CON 37%(-2), LAB 31%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 17%(+1) – changes are since YouGov’s last poll in mid-September, just after Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Tabs are here.

The rest of the poll repeated some of the questions YouGov asked just after Ed Miliband became Labour leader, five years ago. Corbyn’s figures are worse than the ratings Miliband had at the time and as I wrote in relation to the Ipsos MORI poll earlier in the week, while Corbyn’s ratings aren’t that bad at first glance, brand new leaders normally get some leeway from the public, so they are bad when compared to the ratings new leaders have usually got.

YouGov also repeated the bank of party image statements they normally ask at conference time, testing positive and negative lines about the Labour party. The figures are (remarkably) close to what they were five years ago when Labour first entered opposition – 71% think Labour need to make major changes to their policies and beliefs to be fit for goverment (up 2 from 2010), 58% think they have lost touch with ordinary working people (down 1), 56% think they haven’t faced up to the damaged they caused to the economy (down 4), 44% think they care about helping all groups, not just the few (up 2), 39% think their core values and principles are still relevant (down 2), 42% think they would cut spending in a fairer and more compassionate way than the government (up 1).

The only areas* where there is a significant shift since 2010 are the claim that Labour are a party only for immigrants, welfare recipients and trade unionists (49% agreed in 2010, now only 42%) and the claim that if Labour returned to government they’d get the country into even more debt (47% agreed in 2010, 53% agree now).

Afrer five years in opposition, Labour don’t really seem to have made much progress at all in nullifying their perceived weaknesses. There is still an underlying strength in their brand – a large chunk of the public do think their heart in the right place, that they care about the many not the few, that they are more caring than the Tories. The big weaknesses though remain those negative perceptions about the economy and the belief they’ve lost touch with their ordinary supporters – the challenge for the next five years is to address those.

(*There was also a big shift in a question about whether Labour will be ready for a quick return to office after a short period in opposition. We debated whether to keep that statement from 2010, given Labour have now been in opposition for five years. We decided to keep it because it can still make sense if you interpret it as being a short period from now, but given we’re assuming people will interpret it differently I wouldn’t really compare 2010 and 2015 on that one)

There are two new bits of YouGov polling today. First up is the regular Welsh political barometer. The usual caveats apply about it being just one poll, but it shows Labour support perking up in Wales since Jeremy Corbyn’s election – Westminster voting intentions with changes from last month are CON 26%(-2), LAB 42%(+5), LDEM 5%(+1), Plaid 10%(-2), UKIP 16%(+1).

Assembly voting intentions are CON 23%, LAB 39%, LDEM 6%, Plaid 18%, UKIP 13% for the constituencies, CON 24%, LAB 34%, LDEM 5%, Plaid 18%, UKIP 14% for the regional vote. Roger Scully’s commentary is over on the Elections in Wales blog here and has an Assembly seat projection of 29 seats for Labour, 12 for the Tories, 10 Plaid, 8 UKIP and one for the Lib Dems.

The Times also has some YouGov national polling, showing the Leave campaign narrowly ahead in their EU referendum polling – REMAIN 38%, LEAVE 40%. This is the first time YouGov have asked the question using the new referendum question, so some of the shift might be due to that (I discussed here how asking the question as Remain vs Leave seems to produce figures that are better for those who wish to leave than asking it as Yes vs No), but nevertheless it’s the first time since November that YouGov have shown LEAVE ahead. Tables are here.

ComRes and YouGov both had post-Corbyn polls in the Indy on Sunday/Sunday Mirror and Sunday Times respectively. Tabs are here – Comres, YouGov.

ComRes had topline voting intention figures of CON 42% (+2), LAB 30%(+1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 13%(nc), GRN 3%(-1). Changes are since their August poll and show no obvious impact from Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader.

YouGov had topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 31%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 3%. YouGov haven’t released voting intention figures since May, but as you can see, the gap between Labour and the Conservatives is barely changed from the election (the difference between the 12 point Tory lead in ComRes and the 8 point Tory lead in YouGov will be at least partially because ComRes have adopted their new socio-economic turnout model, which weights down younger and poorer voters who are historically less likely to vote. YouGov are still reviewing their methods post-election).

YouGov included some more questions about early attitudes towards Jeremy Corbyn. Most people don’t think he has much chance of being Prime Minister (only 14% think it’s likely), but beyond that attitudes are currently quite evenly divided. 30% think he’s strong enough to be a good leader, 41% think he is not.

36% of people agree with the description that Corbyn has dangerous and unworkable views and would be a threat to the economy and national security, but 32% agree with the description that he’s a man of integrity & principle who has caught the mood of people disillusioned by politics. 7% don’t agree with either, 6% agree with both (which is fair enough – one could be a decent and principled man with unworkable and dangerous views!).

YouGov also asked about a list of policies that have been supported by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in the past, announced by Corbyn or floated as possible Labour policies. Again, they found a mixed bag. Some, like withdrawal from NATO, negotiating over the Falklands and abolishing the benefit cap are extremely unpopular, but other things like a higher top rate of tax, rent controls and nationalising the utility companies meet with wide public approval.

The rest of ComRes’s poll had bank of favourable/unfavourable opinion questions on leading politicians. Boris Johnson had the most favourable net score of those asked about with plus 8, followed by David Cameron on minus 7, Theresa May (minus 11), Vince Cable (minus 14), George Osborne (minus 17), Jeremy Corbyn (minus 18), Nicola Sturgeon (minus 19), Nick Clegg (minus 27).

Tom Watson actually had a comparatively good score – minus 8 – but on a low number of responses (71% said don’t know or no opinion), Tim Farron and John McDonnell got similarly high don’t knows, though more negative scores. At this stage, the public simply aren’t familiar enough with them to hold any strong positive or negative opinions.

UPDATE: I missed a third national GB poll, Opinium for the Observer. They had topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%. Opinium also included a best PM question (Cameron 41%, Corbyn 22%) and had some figures on whether Labour under Corbyn could win that were a little more optimistic for them – 32% think Labour could definitely or probably win under Corbyn, 55% though they probably or definitely could not. Tabs are here.