The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is here and has topline voting intention figures of CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 5% – continuing to vary around what appears to be an underlying Labour lead of a point or so.

Once again the poll included a batch of hypothetical questions with different Labour leaders, and again suggested that Alan Johnson would attract more public support than Ed Miliband. The control question asking how people would vote if the leaders remain Cameron, Miliband and Clegg shows a Conservative lead of three points. If the Labour leader was instead Alan Johnson Labour would be 2 points ahead, with Andy Burnham Labour would be one point behind, with Yvette Cooper Labour would be four points behind. Usual caveats apply – respondents don’t know what policies or priorities alternative leaders would set, so questions like this measure only first impression perceptions of leaders, and take no account of what effect a party actually dumping its leader and perhaps having to have a contest would have.

Asking about Miliband himself, his ratings this week have improved since a week ago, albeit from a low base. 27% now think he’s made it clear what he stands for, up from 20%. The percentage who think he is a strong leader is up 2 points… but is still only 9%. The percentage who think he is up to the job of PM is up three points, but is still only 21%. Overall 33% of people think Miliband should remain Labour leader, 43% think he should stand down, but many of these responses are from Labour’s opponents. Among Labour’s own voters 47% think Miliband should stay, 34% think he should be replaced.

Moving on 26% of people think that the rise of UKIP has increased the chance of Miliband & Labour winning the election, 16% that it has increased the chances of the Conservatives winning, 58% say don’t know or that it has done neither. Amongst UKIP’s own voters – the people the Conservatives would be seeking to reach with a “Vote UKIP get Labour” message – only 16% think their rise is helping Labour. 22% of people think that David Cameron has responded well to the rise of UKIP, 57% that he has responded badly. However they are evenly divided about what would have been a good response – 34% think Cameron would be better off adopting more of UKIP’s policies and being more like them, 33% think he would be better off distancing himself more and arguing against their polices.

There remains comparatively little support for any form of UKIP-Conservative pact. Only 18% of people overall would support it, and both UKIP and Conservative supporters are opposed. If the Conservatives lose the Rochester by-election 53% of people think Cameron should retain his job, including an overwhelming 92% of Conservative voters.


Tonight we will have new polls due from ComRes in the Indy on Sunday/Sunday Mirror and YouGov in the Sunday Times. In the meantime though, a quite update on the other polls this week.

Thursday’s YouGov poll had topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%; Friday’s poll had figures of CON 33%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%. In other words, YouGov’s figures continue to show normal random variation around an underlying average of an Labour lead of one point or so.

Populus’s Friday poll had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. The two point Labour lead is bang in line with Populus’s polls over the last month.

Polls over the last few months have got much tighter, and now seem to be averaging at a Labour lead of around a single point, compared to around six points at the start of the year. The eye catching ICM and MORI polls earlier in the week made some think this was a result of last weekend’s stories around Ed Miliband’s leadership but looking at this week’s polling as a whole that really doesn’t seem to be the case. The polls remain very, very tight… but there isn’t any great change from a week ago.


Time for a round up of Sunday’s polls, with new stuff in the Sunday papers from YouGov, Survation, Opinium and ICM.

YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%. The poll also asked a series of questions about how people would vote with different Labour leaders. In a control question asking how people would vote if the leaders remained Cameron, Miliband and Clegg the answers were CON 33%, LAB 31% (so the effect of reminding people of the current party leaders still seems to produce a slight positive Cameron effect or negative Miliband effect). If Yvette Cooper were Labour leader the position would be the same, a two point Conservative lead. If Ed Balls was the leader it would be worse, a three point Conservative lead. In contrast with Alan Johnson as leader Labour would be two points ahead (CON 31%, LAB 33%.

I’ll give my usual caveats about questions like this – people are answering them when on very little information, they don’t know what policies or priorities those alternative leaders would set, how the media would react to them and so on. In the same poll, YouGov found that only 42% of people think they could recognise Yvette Cooper from a photo… if you don’t even know what Yvette Cooper looks like, I’m guessing you don’t have a thorough understanding of what she would prioritise as Labour leader. It’s a response based on a very crude impression of those potential leaders based on what tends to be the very limited public awareness of opposition politicians. Nevertheless, those crude first impressions count, so it’s a good sign for Alan Johnson.

Survation also had a new poll with topline figures of CON 29%(+2), LAB 34%(+3), LDEM 6%(-3), UKIP 23%(-1), and they too asked a series of hypothetical voting intention questions with different Labour leaders. In the Survation poll they displayed a biography and played a video clip of each potential leader and asked people questions about them before the questions. This allowed them to include people with extremely low public awareness like Chuka Umunna, though does of course rely upon the choice of biogs and video clips (given bias is often in the eye of the beholder, choosing clips that even those who don’t like the eventual results think are fair is incredibly tricky). The control question with Ed Miliband had a Labour lead of 4 points. In the Survation poll Yvette Cooper did worse than Miliband (neck and neck with the Tories), Andy Burnham just the same (4 point lead), Alan Johnson and Chuka Umunna did best – both extending Labour’s lead to 8 points. A voting intention question asked after video clips of Labour leaders is obviously skewed towards Labour, but it’s the relative performance between the different leaders that counts, and again it’s good for Alan Johnson, and now also for Chuka Umunna.

Meanwhile the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer has topline figures of CON 29%(-4), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 9%(+3), UKIP 19%(+1).

Finally there was an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph. As usual with ICM/Sunday Telegraph polls, this asked the public to predict vote shares rather than ask people how they would vote themselves. The average response now has the Conservatives getting slightly more votes than Labour.


Over the last year couple of years Labour’s lead has gradually been whittled away, from ten points in 2012 they are now holding onto only the very narrowest of leads, with many polls showing them neck and neck. At the same time we have seen UKIP’s support getting ever higher, with polls regularly putting them in the mid teens. One naive assumption could be that supporters have moved directly from Labour to UKIP, but in reality there is a lot of churn back and forth between parties. A political party could be picking up support from one group of voters, but losing an equal number of voters somewhere else. The voters now backing UKIP could be people who earlier in the Parliament were backing Labour, even if they didn’t vote Labour in 2010.

Every month YouGov carry out around twenty polls for the Sun and the Sunday Times. In any individual poll the crossbreaks of 2010 Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat voters are too small to be robust, but by aggregrating up the polls from a whole month we have enough responses to really examine the underlying churn, and by comparing the figures from 2012 and 2013 to today, we can see how party support has changed.

All these charts are based on YouGov’s figures. For simplicities sake the movement between the parties are always *net* figures – for example, there are a very small number of people who voted Labour last time but said they’d vote Lib Dem this time, but the vast bulk of the movement is in the opposite direction. I’ve netted them up to get the overall movement between each party. I’ve also excluded very small movements made up of less than 0.2%. The percentages are of the whole of the sample, not of each parties support, and because the sample also includes people who say don’t know or won’t vote things don’t add up to 100%. You can click on each image to get a bigger, readable version. With that in mind…

2012churn550

Here’s October 2012, a high point for Labour when they were enjoying an average lead of around 10 points in YouGov’s national polls. Labour’s vote at the time was very robust, they were making a very small net loss to UKIP, but otherwise their vote from 2010 was solid and they had added to it small amounts of support from 2010 non-voters and Conservatives and a large chunk of former Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem support had already slumped, with the large majority of their support going to either Labour or to Don’t know/Would not vote (DK/WNV). The Conservatives had started to lose support to UKIP, but it wasn’t yet a flood – they were also losing some support to Labour and a large chunk to DK/WNV.

2013churn

Moving onto October 2013, Labour’s lead had now fallen to around 6 points in YouGov’s national polls. They were still holding onto their 2010 support, but their gains from the Conservatives and non-voters were starting to falter. The movement of support from the Conservatives to UKIP had vastly increased, but part of this was balanced out by fewer Con-to-DK/WNV and Con-to-Lab switchers. The number of lost Tories was growing, but lost Tories were also switching their destination, saying they’d support UKIP rather than saying Labour or don’t know. The Liberal Democrats and Labour were also starting to see increased movement to UKIP, though at this point the big chunk of LD-to-Lab voters remained solid.

2014churn

Finally here is the picture from October 2014. Labour’s average lead in YouGov’s polls last month was just 1.5 points and their retained support from 2010 is now faltering. In 2012 20.6% of our polls were made up of people who had voted Labour in 2010 and would do so again, that has now dropped to 16.6%. Those 2010 Labour voters are now flaking away towards UKIP, the Greens and the SNP. Movement from Con-to-Lab has now dried up completely. The chunk of CON-to-UKIP voters has continued to grow, but mostly at the expense of CON-to-DK/WNV, meaning Tory support has remained largely unchanged. Most importantly that solid block of LAB>LD switchers has started to wither, down from 6.6% of the sample to 4.6%. The Liberal Democrats themselves aren’t doing any better, but their former supporters are scattering more widely, moving to the Tories, UKIP and Greens.

Comparing the churn from 2012 and now you can see Labour’s issue. In 2012 all arrows pointed to Labour, they were picking up support from everywhere and holding on to what they had. Today they still have the benefit of a strong transfer from the Liberal Democrats (though even that’s declining), but they are leaking support in every direction – to the Greens, to UKIP and to the SNP.

One of the reasons the Conservatives ended up falling short at the last election was that they failed to clearly identify themselves as THE party for change – the public wanted rid of Gordon Brown and Labour, but following the debates Nick Clegg managed to make many people think the Liberal Democrats were the more convincing alternative. Ed Miliband may face a similar problem, the government still isn’t popular and still has a relatively low level of support, but the anti-government vote seems to be fracturing away from Labour to alternative non-Conservative parties like UKIP, the Greens and the SNP.

(This post is also featured on the New Statesman’s May 2015 here)


The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll today has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%, continuing YouGov’s recent trend of showing a wafer thin Labour lead (tabs are here.)

For the first time in YouGov’s polling Ed Miliband’s net ratings on if he is doing a good or bad job have sunk below Nick Clegg’s. 18% now think Ed Miliband is doing well as Labour leader, 73% badly – a net figure of minus 55. Nick Clegg’s figures are 18% well, 72% badly, a net figure of minus 54.

In a referendum on EU membership 37% of people say they would vote to stay in, 43% would vote to leave. For most of this year YouGov have been showing a small lead for staying in, so this is slightly unusual, especially since another YouGov poll mid-week also showed more people wanting to leave. It could possibly be the impact of the £1.7bn story in the news. On that subject, 11% of people think David Cameron should pay the extra money, 24% say he should try to persuade the rest of the EU to drop the demand, but should ultimately pay up if he cannot. 52% think he should just refuse flat out to pay. However while people would like Cameron to take a stand, most don’t actually expect it to work – 61% expect Britain to end up paying either the full £1.7bn (31%) or slightly less than it (30%). Only 22% expect Britain to get a substantial reduction (17%) or get away without paying (5%).