As usual YouGov’s poll in the Sunday Times contains a variety of questions. Looking at the economy first perceptions of how Gordon Brown is handling the crisis continue to head in a positive direction. Last month more people actually thought he was handling it badly than positively (37% to 29%), now people are evenly split with 33% thinking he has done well, 33% badly. Brown and Darling have also increased their lead over Cameron and Osborne on who would handle the crisis better. Cameron and Osborne continue to lead Brown and Darling on being more trusted to raise people’s standard of living, but by 32% to 28%, compared to 34% to 25% last month.

In terms of optimism on the economy, 87% think the economy is in a bad state compared to 90% last month. In contrast 56% now expect a recession over the next 12 months, compared to 51% last month.

Given the discussion in the comments here about the relative numbers of people who the interest rate cut would benefit or harm, I should also highlight a question YouGov asked about how the rate cut would affect people. 22% of people said it would help their finances (if that seems small, it’s worth remembering about half of outstanding mortgages are on a fixed rate), with most of them saying they would save the money rather than spend it. 19%, including 38% of over 55s, said that they rely upon savings so the rate cut would hurt them.

Moving on, YouGov also asked about swearing on television. A plurality (49%) opposed a blanket ban on swearing on TV, with 39% supporting the idea. As might be expected this was heavily correlated with age, with 64% of over 55s supporting the idea and 68% of under 35s opposing it. 30% supported a total ban on “the F-word” on television, with 63% supporting it being banned before 9pm (41%) or 11pm (23%). 55% supported a ban on “the C-word” on TV, 40% supporting it being banned before 9pm (21%) or 11pm (19%). Asked about the role of the BBC in general, 66% thought it should continue to offer a rule range of programmes, with 28% thinking it should concentrate more on public service television “such as news, documentaries and drama” and less on general entertainment.

Finally YouGov asked some more questions about Prince Charles. They found 44% expected him to be a good king, with 32% disagreeing. 65% thought he should continue to speak out when he becomes King, and 49% believed it would benefit the country if the monarch had a voice on current political controversies, with 38% disagreeing – which either suggests lots of cunning republicans, or that people don’t really understand the importance of the monarchy avoiding any perceived political partisanship.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen some apparently contrasting polls – have the Conservative lead dropped to single figures or not? Different polls have told different stories (and sometimes lead to people jumping the gun and thinking the Labour recovery has stalled or reversed). What is the actual picture?

Well, looking at polls since the bank bailout was announced in October the pollsters are actually all showing very similar levels of support for the Conservatives. Leaving aside BPIX whose high Conservative scores we can’t really speculate about given the lack of details about their methodology, other pollsters have ben pretty solid in showing the Tories in the 41%-43% range.

The difference is more in the Labour level of support, and here I think we are seeing a knock on effect from the Liberal Democrat and “Other” scores. The lower levels of Labour support have come from ICM and ComRes who are respectively the pollsters who show a higher level of Lib Dem support and a higher level of support for “Others”. YouGov, who tend to show the lowest level of Lib Dem support, have shown some of the narrowest leads for the Conservatives.

The wider pattern seems to be that the Conservative support, while dropping from their highest scores, has been quite resilient and stayed above 40%. The narrowing lead has largely come from non-Conservative supporters rallying to the Labour party. With that in mind it makes sense that the pollsters with the methodologies that show the highest support for Lib Dems and others will produce a lower level of Labour support.


A new ComRes poll in the Sunday Independent has topline figures, with changes from the most recent ComRes poll of CON 43% (+4), LAB 32% (+1) LDEM 12% (-4). I’m please to note than on his blog reporting the figures John Rentoul is drawing a comparison from the most recent ComRes poll in the Indy, rather than the older one in the Sunday Indy. The poll was conducted between the 12th and 13th November – Wednesday and Thursday – so as with YouGov, the fieldwork straddles the PMQs exchange about “baby p” and it’s hard to say if any effect would show up or not.

This is the first poll from any pollster for a while to show any significant boost in the Conservative vote – the trend has been of slight falls in Conservative support and Labour recovery. As ever, I’d treat a poll that appears to contradict the trend in all the other polls with some scepticism unless we see some other polls showing a Conservative boost – that goes double given the extremely low Liberal Democrat score, equalling their lowest recorded under Clegg.

The other questions in the poll found 48% of people thought that the team around David Cameron was lightweight, 57% thought that Gordon BRown should not take most of the blame for unemployment. 54% of people still think that Labour will lose the election regardless of who leads it (for comparison, 68% thought this in July).

Finally, and most significantly, 75% thought that any tax cuts should be paid for by cutting spending rather than borrowing more, only 17% disagreed. With all the parties proposing various tax cuts the dividing lines are becoming, firstly, the specifics of which tax cuts they are proposing, and more fundementally whether they should be funded by borrowing or not. There have not been many questions directly addressing it yet, but as in this case, those I’ve seen have all show a very hostile public reaction to extra borrowing.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures, with changes from the previous poll a fortnight ago, of CON 41%(-1), LAB 36%(+3), LDEM 14%(-1).

The 5 point Tory lead is the smallest lead since April and the smallest from YouGov since December last year. It echoes the move towards Labour that we saw in Populus at the beginning of the week. Notably, like most other polls, the Conservatives are still sticking above 40%, with Labour’s growing support coming from the Liberal Democrats and “others”. The dates aren’t available yet, but the chances are it was conducted between Wednesday and Friday and most of YouGov’s fieldwork occurs at the start of their fieldwork period, so if there is a “baby p” effect on the polls we wouldn’t necessarily be seeing it yet.

I’m expecting at least two new polls to be published tonight. John Rentoul promises us a new ComRes poll in the Sunday Indy, which also has questions on whether Brown is to blame for unemployment rising, whether the team around Cameron are lightweight, whether tax cuts should be funded by spending cuts or borrowing and whether Labour will lose the next election. There should also be the monthly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times.

The most recent poll we have was Populus, conducted last weekend straight after Glenrothes and the large interest rate cut – that showed the lowest Conservative lead for months at only 6 points. In contrast these polls would have been conducted at the end of this week with the tragic case of “baby p” the dominant news story.