A new YouGov poll in the Sunday Times has Labour on the up again – the headline voting intention figures with changes from the last YouGov poll are CON 37%(-2), LAB 35%(+2), LDEM 14%(-1). Obviously we are in a period of flux, and any explanation for the reasons behind the changes in the polls are largely speculation, but given where we are in the handover my personal gues is that we are now beginning to see an improvement in Labour’s position in the polls due to Brown’s imminent takover, rather than the “Blair boost” from straight after resignation announcement.

Looking at the details of the poll, on which man they would trust more on major issues (a figure that sometimes differs from which party people would trust more) Gordon Brown predictably leads on the economic issue of taxation (the economy in general wasn’t asked about, but I suspect Brown would have had a stonking great lead on it). On the NHS – once a “Labour issue” but one where the Conservatives have recently caught Labour when respondents are asked which party they prefer, Brown has a substantial lead over Cameron. He also leads on education, another “soft” issue that the Conservatives poll well on these days.

Cameron leads decisively on immigration, despite saying little (perhaps suggesting it is still an issue that the Conservatives have ownership of, they don’t need to say anything about it, people think they are the better party on it anyway…though of course, once that applied to Labour and the NHS). He has a smaller, but still significant, lead on another traditionally Tory issue of law and order.

Finally, on the issue of relations with Europe – a low profile issue in recent years but with promises to be one of Gordon Brown’s first tricky issues after entering Downing Street – the two ment are almost even, with Brown ahead by only 2 points, 23% to 21%. On the question of the European treaty presently being negotiated to replace the defeated constitution, 70% of respondents thought a referendum should be granted on any treaty (including 56% of Labour supporters) and, if a treaty included such things as the Charter of Fundemental Rights, a permanent EU President and the removal of the veto on policing, justice and immigration, 43% say they would vote against it, 21% in favour.

On the image of the two men we see the normal pattern. More people see Brown as strong and decisive, but hardly anyone thinks he is charismatic. Few see Cameron as particularly strong or decisive, but he is seen as charismatic. On most of the comparisons in this survey Brown comes out top…but it largely depends upon what you ask. You might remember one for the Guardian earlier this year where Cameron beat Brown on nearly every measurethat was hyped up as being awful for Brown. This poll asked things like strong, decisive, good in a crisis, sticks to what he belives in – the sort of measures where Brown comes out top. Apart from charismatic, it didn’t ask about words like likeable, caring, forward-looking, etc, where we know from past experience that Cameron normally rates batter than Brown. The bottom line is that we have a pretty clear picture these days of where the strengths and weaknesses are in the two mens’ respective public images. I’m still waiting for a survey with directly comparable image questions from just before Blair’s resignation, to see how Brown’s image has changed over the last month.

Worrying news for Gordon Brown in the poll is the question of his legitmacy. Only 35% of people think he has a mandate to govern Britain as the leader of the party that won the last election, 53% think he does not. To a large extent these are partisan answers, with lots of that 53% made up of Conservative supporters. However, 18% of current Labour supporters think Brown has no mandate to govern. In a similar vein, 57% of people think Brown should call an early election having become Prime Minister, including 22% of Labour supporters.

Finally, 85% of people don’t like the 2012 Olympic logo :)

If you ever take the time to wander over there you’ll notice a major redesign at my constituency guide at www.ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide (or via the little button on my right sidebar). It’s still a work in progress, so some of the menu links aren’t working yet, and some of the static pages like lists of MPs will look a bit clunky till I adjust them. The new template doesn’t like long links in people’s comments either, so if you find a seat-profile that is all jumbled up let me know in the comments here so I can correct it. Before anyone points it out, the little targets at the top of the page go a bit skewiff in Internet Explorer 6. They work nicely in IE7 or Firefox, so in time all will be well!

As well as some nice eye candy like the googlemap showing where each seat is, there are four major new features there:

Firstly, every seat now has up to date demographic information (or at least, “up to date” in terms of being drawn from the 2001 census six years ago), that I#ve tallied up from the census information from each council ward.

Secondly, after many requests for it, there is now a latest comments feature on the sidebar. Use it sensibly, i.e. not to chase around political opponents pursuing an argument across different seats.

Thirdly, again something have asked for in the past, there is a nice new static front page with the latest poll from each of the main pollsters.

The final one is not quite finished yet – I’ll let you know when the finishing touches are done.


There is a new poll of British black people in the Voice newspaper, carried out by Johnson Survey Research Inc (who I’ve never heard of, but may be the US company of the same name). According to the survey voting intention amongst British black people is 51% Labour, 3% Conservative, 3% Liberal Democrat. Presumably, unless some minor party is doing quite spectacularly well, don’t knows and won’t votes haven’t been excluded – assuming a few percent support toher parties this means Labour have the support of somewhere around 85% of black voters. Despite this apparent hegemony, 68% of respondents though that Labour took their support for granted.

The poll seems pretty much as expected. I have no idea if it is the first poll of British blacks in twenty years, but MORI did a poll of ethnic minority groups in September 2006 that found a similar level of monolithic Labour support amongst the black community in the UK. Amongst those who said how they had voted in 2005 Afro-Carribean respondents had a split of CON 3%, LAB 87%, LDEM 9%, Other 2%.

Populus June Poll

Populus’s monthly poll for the Times has headline voting intention figures (with changes from last month) of CON 36%(-1), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 17%(nc). The boost in the Labour vote last month has been retained, but there doesn’t appear to be any significant month-on-month change.

The poll was conducted between the 1st and 3rd June, so we should probably be starting to see any effect of the grammar school row upon the Conservative party. As yet, there doesn’t seem to be any. This poll and the last YouGov poll show the Conservative vote pretty static (up 1 with YouGov, down 1 with Populus) and ICM showed them up.

Asking about grammar schools Populus found that 36% of people would have supported the opening of grammar schools in places without them and the re-introduction of the 11-plus exam. However, 60% would prefer not to, instead concentrating upon introducing setting and streaming in all schools. However, amongst Tory voters there is a slight majority in favour of new grammar schools – 52% to 46% against.

Populus also found that Cameron’s image was less positive than last year. The percentage thinking he is strong is down to 37% compared to 44% last October, the percentage thinking he’s got what it takes to be a good PM is down to 33% from 42%. On charisma and sticking to his principles Cameron is almost unchanged. The Times’s coverage assumes this is a reflection of the grammar row, but of course the changes are over eight months so don’t necessary have any connection to the grammar school row at all.

Gordon Brown’s figures are up since last October. 63% think he is strong compared to 51% last year, 57% think he’s got what it takes to be PM compared to 37% last year. Only 20% of people think he is charismatic, down from 23% in October. No sign of whether people think he is more likeable yet. Again, as with the YouGov poll this month, it’s impossible to ascribe the increases to Brown’s recent PR drive – the last poll was taken shortly after Tom Watson’s resignation when Brown’s figures were very low, so it could just be a recovery from that.

More straightforwardly, Blair’s figures are up now he is leaving (the Times describes them as “rocketing”, though the ones they quote – charisma and “has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister” are up only slightly. Sir Menzies Campbell is up too – up 5 to 34% in being strong and up 8 to 38% in sticking to what he believes.

Incidentally, as Mike Smithson notes on politicalbetting.com, in recent months Populus has started to show lower levels of support for the Lib Dems than ICM. The difference in Lib Dem support between ICM and YouGov has been discussed several times here, but ICM and Populus use almost identical methodology, making the difference rather more difficult to explain. So far this year Populus have produced an average level of Lib Dem support of 18.2%, ICM of 20.6%.

I can only see two differences in their methodology that might be producing the difference – firstly ICM re-allocate 50% of don’t knows to the party they voted for at the last election – what we normally refer to as the “spiral of silence adjustment”. Populus do the same for Labour and Conservative voters, but only re-allocate 30% of their former Lib Dem voters who say “don’t know”. In theory this maight make a bit of a difference, but in practice only once this year has it had any noticable effect upon the level of Lib Dem support in Populus polls, so it can’t explain all the difference.

Secondly Populus assume there is slightly more false recall when working out their targets for weighting by past vote – in practice though this doesn’t seem to be making any difference to the weighting of past Liberal Democrat voters. The difference in Lib Dem support between ICM and Populus looks like a mystery.

An ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph has the Conservatives re-asserting their lead over Labour after the narrowing of the gap between the two main parties over the last month. The ongoing row within the Conservative party over grammar schools does not appear to have damaged their standing in the polls – if anything the publicity may have boosted them. The headline voting intention figures in the poll, with changes from ICM’s last poll in the Guardian a fortnight ago are CON 37%(+3), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 21%(nc). The poll was conducted between May 30th and 31st.

The poll found a narrow lead for Gordon Brown on the best Prime Minister question (though it appears to have been a straight choice between Brown and Cameron, not the usual three way option of Brown, Cameron, Campbell.)

Asked which man they trust to deal with various issues Brown leads on “hard issues” like dealing with terrorism. running the economy (by a large margin), and taxation, while Cameron leads on “soft” and public service issues like the NHS, schools and climate change. The exception to the pattern is Iraq, where Cameron has a marginal lead. In terms of the public image the normal pattern that we’ve become used to over the last year emerges. Brown is seen as the more experienced, competent and strong leader. Cameron is seen as the more trustworthy, forward looking, in touch, caring, inspiring and likeable.

Meanwhile YouGov has a poll of Labour party members and trade unions in the Sunday Times, measuring voting intention in the ongoing Labour deputy leadership contest. Hilary Benn’s lead in the earlier polls has now evaporated, with Alan Johnson equalling Benn amongst party members (both are on 24%), with Harriet Harman moving into third place on 17%. Amongst trade unionists Johnson now leads Benn by xxx. With Johnson also ahead amongst MPs (assuming they vote for the candidate they nominated, though in reality we know some have already jumped ship from one candidate to another) the overall first preference votes will, on the basis of this poll, be Johnson 24%, Benn 20%, Harman 18%, Hain 14%, Cruddas 14%, Blears 10%.

However, from there on in second preferences come into play, here Benn and Johnson are almost identical.amongst members, but Been does somewhat better than Johnson amongst trade unionists (though to some extent what will be because Johnson already has the most first preference votes). It looks as though, on the current polling figures, it could be tight between Johnson and Benn. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the poll was conducted prior to the televised Newsnight debate between the six candidates, which could well have shifted opinion.