A new YouGov poll for the Evening Standard has voting intentions in the London mayoral election, with changes from the last poll carried out in late February, of JOHNSON 49%(+5), LIVINGSTONE 37%(-2), PADDICK 12%(nc).

The poll was conducted between the 12th and 14th of March, and is the first conducted since Lee Jasper’s resignation. It shows Boris Johnson with 12 point lead and – it would seem – the momentum behind him. Boris has almost enough support to win on the first count, but the poll suggests Brian Paddick’s second preferences would split 41-34 in Johnson’s favour anyway.

Others are way don at 3%, which still seems unduly low – once the campaign proper starts and the other parties receive some coverage I would expect it to rise.

The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are here, no tables yet for ICM, but the News of the World report is here.

As with Populus’s poll in the week, the individual measures announced in the budget were broadly positive received. 68% told YouGov they supported the increase in tax on “large environmentally unfriendly family cars”, 63% supported requiring supermarkets to charge for plastic bags, 77% supporting equiring people on incapacity benefit to attend work focused interviews. A slighlt plurality of people opposed the increase in alcohol duties – 48% to 46% – but this was hardly overwhelmingly opposition.

Despite that, opinion towards the government’s general handling of the economy looked very low – 86% though inflation was higher than the government said, 78% said the government wastes large amounts of money, 66% agreed the government spent too much in good economic times. All the measures of economic optimism were low. 47% agreed Alistair Darling was not up to the job, with only 22% disagreeing and the poll found Cameron & Osbourne had a significant lead over Brown & Darling as the team people trust more to help their standard of living – 33% to 21%. ICM’s poll also found a significant Tory lead on the economy – they were most trusted by 34% compared to 28% for the Tories. A second ICM survey in the Sunday Telegraph found 31% thouht the budget would make things worse, only 7% thought it would improve matters.

It’s an apparent contradiction – the individual measures in the budget are popular, but it looks as though it has really hit their popularity. Off the top of my head I can think of two explanations – it’s possible that people support what Alistair Darling has done given the circumstances he faces, but that the fact the government have found themselves in such circumstances has undermined their previous confidence in Brown’s handling of the economy. Alternatively it could just be that general bad economic tidings, brought home to them by the budget, have made them less positively disposed to the government regardless of whether they actually attribute any blame to them.

On other political trackers Brown’s approval ratings with YouGov slip ever lower – his net score is down to minus 26 from minus 21 last month. David Cameron’s remains unchanged on plus 14. Nick Clegg’s rating was minus 6, but that’s still with 35% don’t knows. In the ICM poll Cameron had a lead of 6 points over Brown on best Prime Minister.

As usual the Sunday Times asked a grab bag of questions of lots of other issues. On Lord Goldsmith’s proposals for Britishness 51% of people supported the idea of citizenship ceremonies, for school leavers… but only if they excluded the suggested oath of allegiance to the monarch, supported by only 15%.

Only 29% of respondents supported Heathrow expansion. 39% thought expansion should be elsewhere, either in East London or in regional airports. 18% were opposed to airport expansion entirely.

Finally YouGov asked about abortion law. 35% supported the status quo, 48% supported a reduction in the legal time limit to 20 weeks and 8% supported a total ban on abortion.


YouGov’s monthly poll for the Sunday Times, one of the the first voting intention polls since the budget, has quite startling topline figures: CON 43%(+3), LAB 27%(-6), LDEM 16%(nc). The poll was conducted between the 13th and 14th of March, so after respondents would have seen the newspaper reaction to the budget.

The 16% Conservative lead is the largest YouGov have ever recorded and the largest any company has produced since October 1987. There are people old enough to vote who weren’t born the last time the Tories were this far ahead. If repeated at a general election it would produce a Conservative landslide majority of 122.

It’s tempting to automatically assume that such a massive shift this must be a rogue poll. My guess is that it will indeed prove to be an outlier – the shift is just too large- but a second poll, this time from ICM in the News of the World, confirms a significant shift towards the Tories since the budget. ICM’s topline figures, with changes from their last poll, are CON 40%(+3), LAB 31%(-3), LDEM 20%(-1). The ICM poll was conducted between the 12th and 13th of March.

More later when details of the polls are available.

An ICM poll for the BBC today is showing a increase in support for British military involvement in Afghanistan. There are still more people opposed than supportive of British involvement – 48% to 40%, but this is down from when ICM last asked in 2006 when the figures were 53% opposed and 31% in support.

I’m inclined to agree with ICM’s Nick Sparrow that Prince Harry’s deployment in Afghanistan may have boosted support, but that’s probably only a part of it. Coverage of Harry in Afghanistan was all positive, but then so is most of the mainstream news coverage of British action in Afghanistan – it is normally reported in the context of brave British soldiers fighting against the Taliban in Helmand, compare and contrast with the more mixed portrayal of British involvement in Iraq.

First budget polling

The first snapshot budget poll – done on Wednesday afternoon and evening by Populus – is up on the Times website. Only 596 respondents and no voting intention, but it is our first straw in the wind and it’s a mixed picture for the government.

The ‘showroom tax’ on the most polluting new cars was indeed popular – 68% backed it – but more surprisingly there was also support for the increase in tax on alcohol; 55% backed the rise in alcohol duties. Respondents overwhelmingly (71% to 24%) supported higher child benefit and winter fuel allowances.

Despite positive reactions to the two main tax rises, overall opinion on the budget seems to be negative. 38% think they’ll pay more tax, with only 4% thinking they’ll gain. 42% of people think they’ll be worse off from the budget. 26% think it will be bad for business, with only 9% thinking it will help. 23% think it will increase the threat of recession, only 6% think it help reduce one.

So – the things the government did in the budget are popular…but people think they’ll lose out and it won’t improve things for the economy or for business. It isn’t clear from that whether this budget will improve or damage the government’s popularity or make no difference at all – there will no doubt be plenty more polling on the budget in the next few days which will give us a better idea.