Leaving aside the headline stories about the BNP’s vote, the rest of YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph had some interesting questions on sleaze, the Conservative party and the NHS.

So far most questions on political sleaze have asked people to compare Labour with the last Conservative government and have tended to find that people think they are just as bad as one another. This month’s poll asked whether people thought that Labour was “very sleazy and disreputable” and, in a separate question, asked if the Conservatives today are seen as “very sleazy and disreputable”. The results were that 62% of people think that Labour are sleazy (a figure very similar to the sort of levels that the last Conservative government experienced) while only 33% think the Tories are sleazy. While the difference is very small, “Tony Blair, Lord Levy and those around them” are seen as sleazy by marginally fewer people than the Labour party in general – only 58% said they were sleazy.

On the Conservative party specifically, people still seem unsure of them, but a majority say they are willing to give them a couple of years to work themselves out (54% said they deserved a year or two to come up with policies, 25% disagreed). So far they haven’t made much progress. 54% of people agreed with the statement that “despite having a new leader, the Conservatives have not changed all that much” and 50% agreed that the party still gave the impression of being out of touch with modern Britain. 60% said it was no longer clear what the party stood for – while this appears a bad thing, it could be something of a two-edged sword. The Conservatives do not want to lose what positive connetations the party retains, but if they are to rebrand their image they need to lose some of the negative things people think the party stands for.

Finally, YouGov also asked about the running of the NHS. 75% of people thought that the NHS was being badly managed at the moment. Asked why this was, 16% thought lack of money with 77% thought it was poor management.

At the weekend Margaret Hodge warned that on the doorstep 80% of voters were telling her that they had considered voting for the BNP. This was followed on Monday by the publication of a report by the JRRT, based largely on research from the London elections in 2004, that showed around a quarter of Londoners would consider voting BNP (this was widely, and wrongly, reported as saying that 25% of people would consider voting BNP. It actually referred specifically to London – the figure for Great Britain was 18%). In covering Hodge’s remarks and the JRRT report the BBC and Sky naturally abided by their duty to be scrupulously fair-minded and gave the BNP mountains of what must be the most favourable media coverage of their history. The first opinion poll since then shows the result.

YouGov’s monthly poll for April shows all three main political parties falling and the BNP’s support rising to 7%. The full figures with changes from last month are CON 33%(-3), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 17%(-1), BNP 7%. In YouGov’s last poll BNP support stood at 0.4% (though since polls are rounded to the nearest whole number, it would have been reported as an askerisk, meaning less than 0.5% but not actually zero). For comparison, at the last general election the BNP received 0.7% of the vote.

Populus also had the BNP at under 1% in their last poll (ICM and MORI don’t even single out the BNP in their results, though their total “other” vote is only 1 or 2% once the SNP, PC, Greens and UKIP are taken out anyway) suggesting that while the underlying causes of the rise in BNP support may be long standing – disillusionment with the mainstream political parties and unaddressed concerns over immigration, etc – the immediate cause of the rise can only be attributed to the publicity the party received over the weekend – a party that is normally a fringe pariah was for a couple of days treated as a serious contender by the BBC and Sky.

The main victim of the advance seems to be the Conservative party, down 3 points on last month. Traditionally the BNP are seen as being strongest in traditional working class Labour areas, but the work in the JRRT study also suggests that they draw more support from Tory voters than Labour or Lib Dem voters, so a possible explanation is that they are picking up the rump working class Tory voters in urban areas.

So what happens now? This poll will probably result in another bout of media coverage for the BNP reinforcing their poll boost in the same way that UKIP rode a wave of publicity at the last European elections. It may well last until the local elections at the beginning of next month and see more BNP councillors elected. Is it anymore significant than that? Probably not. Once the publicity has faded away people will once again forget about the BNP and their support will fade away again into the fractions of percentage points they normally register, in much the same way that UKIP’s support gradually ebbed away again after the European elections.


Following Margaret Hodge’s comments on the BNP on Sunday, the BBC has been giving great play to a new report for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust warning that almost a quarter of Londoners might vote for the BNP.

The figures really needs to be put in some context if not to be alarmist – 24% of people in London told ICM in the JRRT’s “State of the Nation” poll 2004 that they “might vote” BNP as opposed to the 68% who said they could never vote BNP (similar figures came from exit polls in 2004). In comparison, 47% said they might vote Labour, 48% said they might vote Conservative and 50% said they might vote Liberal Democrat. So, to put it bluntly, the BNP getting a quarter of the vote in London is as likely as one of the main parties getting almost 50%. The significance of the finding is not that 24% of people in London are likely to vote BNP, but that 24% of people do not consider them beyond the pale. (It’s also worth pointing out that London is not typical – across the country as a whole only 18% said they might vote for the BNP. Some of the BBC reporting of the study has claimed that it says that almost 25% of people would vote BNP – in fact the finding only applies to London).

In the same survey ICM asked people to say if they liked or disliked political parties on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being “dislike a lot”, 4 being neutral and 7 being “like a lot”. The BNP were still easily the most disliked party – 35% of people in London disliked them a lot and 65% had negative views of them. Only 16% of Londoners viewed them positively in any sense, only 4% liked them a lot.

The JRRT report does contain some interesting research about who actually votes BNP. In the London elections a high BNP vote correllated with a high proportion of skilled or semi-skilled manual workers (C2 and D social classes), especially C2 voters. Wards with a larger number of older voters tended to have a higher BNP vote, as did wards with a low average level of education. There was, however no link between ward with a high number of benefit claimants and support for the BNP. The study suggests that the BNP gain their support from older, poorly educated people, but that their support comes not not from the very poorest, the unemployed and those reliant upon benefits, but from the skilled working class. The study also looked for links between the BNP vote and the ethnic make up or number of asylum seekers in a ward, but found no correlation (though they pointed out the difficulties of drawing any conclusions on this given that you cannot separate out the “white vote” and some boroughs with high numbers of asylum seekers actually house them in other boroughs).

Over the weekend the SNP released the figures from a new YouGov poll that showed them neck and neck with Labour amongst those certain to vote in the Scottish Parliament constituency vote. Gaining extra constituency seats wouldn’t necessarily allow the SNP to catch Labour in seats – that depends upon the separate regional top up votes – but the poll certainly suggests an SNP and Lib Dem advance at Labour’s expense.

The topline figures published by the SNP were based on the 59% of people who told YouGov they were 10/10 certain to vote. The full figures, with changes from the last Scottish Parliament elections in 2003, are LAB 30% (-5), SNP 29% (+5), LDEM 19% (+4), CON 13% (-4), SSP 4% (-2), Green 3% (+3).

It’s worth remembering that “certain to vote” figures are not necessarily the best indicator of which people are likely to vote – for Westminster elections YouGov do not normally filter their results by likelihood to vote, though they have published certain to vote figures for lower turnout elections like the European Elections. The unfiltered voting intention figures for this poll are LAB 30%, SNP 26%, LDEM 20%, CON 14%, SSP 4%, Green 4% which still represents a significant swing from Labour.

Asked who would make the best First Minister for Scotland Alex Salmond had a convincing lead – 30% named him as their preference compared to 19% for Jack McConnell, 9% Annabelle Goldie and 7% for Nicol Stephen. Alex Salmond was also the most well known Scottish politican of those included in the survey – 87% said they knew something about him, compared to 84% who knew something about Jack McConnell, 60% knew something about Nicola Sturgeon, 55% who knew something about Alistair Darling, 41% who knew something about Annabelle Goldie, 36% knew something about Nicol Stephen.

The survey also found a plurality in favour of Scottish independence – 46% in favour, 39% against.

A new ICM poll for Channel 4 news has the Conservatives and Labour level on 35%. The full topline figures with changes from the last ICM poll in mid-March are CON 35%(+2), LAB 35%(-2), LDEM 21%(nc). While the 35% level of support is a long way below the sort of figures the Tory party was enjoying at the height of David Cameron’s honeymoon, they will be probably be pleased to see a poll where the Tories aren’t heading downwards.

The poll also asked several questions about Cameron’s leadership, though there were few surprises. 58% of people said they thought that while David Cameron was a new face, the Conservative party itself hadn’t changed (23% disagreed) and 40% thought that Cameron’s leadership was more spin than substance (29% disagreed).

There were also several questions asking respondents to compare David Cameron and Gordon Brown, the presumed Labour leader at the next election. Asked who has the qualities to make a good Prime Minister Brown was preferred by 37% to Cameron’s 32% – a five point lead for Brown that is much in line with thestandard “best PM” question asked in polls. Asked which man was tougher, Brown won by a landslide – 61% to 29% – which matches the general pattern we’ve seen in polls like this, Brown wins on questions about toughness and competence while Cameron wins on questions of likeability, though none were asked in this poll. Perhaps more worryingly for Cameron, Brown leads on the question of which man most “understands the needs of people like me”, 44% to 34%.

(NB – this poll isn’t up on ICM’s website yet, so no dates for when it was conducted and no info on an methodological differences to ICM’s normal polls for the Sunday Telegraph and Guardian. That said, there’s no reason to think it wasn’t done last week using normal methodology)