The voting intention figures from YouGov’s poll for the Evening Standard last week have been released in today’s paper. The topline figures, with changes from the last general election, are CON 43%(+11), LAB 37%(-2), LDEM 13%(-9) – equating to a 6.5 point swing to the Conservatives. The poll was done at much the same time as the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times yesterday, which showed an 8 point swing to the Conservatives, so does suggest that the Tories are doing rather less well in London than elsewhere in the country.

On a straight uniform swing this would see the Conservatives winning 37 seats, up from 21 at the moment. Labour would win 34 or 35 seats (depending on Bethnal Green and Bow), down from 44 at the moment, losing Battersea, Brentford & Isleworth, (notionally) Croydon Central, Finchley & Golders Green, Hampstead & Kilburn, Harrow East, Hendon, Poplar & Limehouse, Tooting, Westminster North and Eltham. The poor old Lib Dems would be left with just one seat in London, that of Simon Hughes in Bermondsey. In reality, as we saw in the large PoliticsHome poll of marginals last year, they will likely to somewhat better than that because of tactical and personal votes, but that only goes so far.

The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now available here.

Looking at the other tracker questions they follow the same trends as the voting intention. Brown’s net approval rating is minus 25, down from minus 17 last month and minus 13 the month before, a month ago Cameron & Osborne’s lead on which team people trusted to raise their standard of living had withered to just 1 point, now it is back up to 7. As ever with the Sunday Times poll though, there were a large number of questions on a wide variety of other subjects – here’s some highlights.

The economy

As with Populus’s poll, economic optimism has again fallen. The proportion of people who think the economy is doing badly has gone from 88% a month ago to 92% now. More importantly, given that almost everyone thinks things are bad and the issue is really how bad, the proportion of people who think things are “very bad” has grown from 42% to 52%.

People also seem to be more worried about the economic turmoil affecting their own lives – last month 42% said they were afraid that they, or someone else in their family, might lose their job; that has now risen to 47% (in some ways of course, in the longer term that might not be so bad for Labour. 47% of households are not going to see someone lose their job, so if it is an expectations game, that’s probably one Labour can exceed!).

Most of the blame for the economic crisis is still being placed firmly upon the banks. 82% of people agree with the statement “This is a global recession caused by the banking crisis”. A bare majority (50%) reject the statement that “This is ‘Gordon Brown’s recession’ caused mainly by this Government’s management of the economy”, 37% agree.

On the face of it one might think those figures aren’t too bad for Labour – people blame the banks, not the government. Actually it’s probably just a result of putting statements that are rather too black and white – asking people who the main culprit is, rather than whether people share some of the blame. Even if one believed that Gordon Brown had handled the economy badly and contributed to the recession, it would be rather stretching things to claim that the government’s economic management is the main cause of what is very clearly a global situation.

YouGov also tested the “Conservatives are a do nothing party” line again. This time 39% of people agreed and 41% disagreed, split, unsurprisingly, very much along party lines. The same question was asked back in December, when the split was 38% agree, 39% disagree, so while the tiny move against isn’t significant, we can at least conclude that it hasn’t gained any traction in a month.

Taking a slightly wider view, YouGov asked how they thought the economy should be balanced between the private and public sector. On average people said they would prefer an equal balance, with a slight preference towards the private sector. The question gave them a 10 point scale, and 44% picked the dead centre, with 26% picking a point on the private sector side and 20% a point on the public sector side.

Asked how they perceived the British economy at the moment, 60% of people thought the private sector played more of a role than the public sector. On average, therefore, people would prefer an economy that they perceive as more balanced and less dominated by the private sector. However, if you look at the party breaks this is not the same across the board. Labour voters see the economy currently as very tilted towards the private sector and would like things to be tilted towards the public sector. Conservative voters see the present economy as slightly tilted towards the private sector…but would like it to become more so.


Nationwide support for the Heathrow expansion stands at 29%, with 42% opposed. On the face of it this suggests people outside London are slightly more hostile to Heathrow expansion than those in London, who a YouGov poll last week found divided 35%-43% against. In fact, the questions that were asked are different, but looking just at the London break in this poll, Londoners appear to be very marginally more in favour, but the difference really isn’t much to get excited about.

Asked about airport expansion in general, 26% of people opposed expanding our airports at all. 59% said airports should be expanded, but were split evenly between whether that extra expansion should be at Heathrow or elsewhere (interestingly there wasn’t much difference in regional splits – one could easily imagine people wanting airport expansion, but not near them, or people wanting airport expansion in their own region, rather than always in the South-East. Actually neither of these happened (or they cancelled out); apart from in Scotland there was no real difference at all).

Prince Harry

YouGov also asked a couple of questions about the royal family and racism on the back of the Prince Harry story. A large majority of people backed Harry – 68% agreed with the statement “it was used in a good-natured way and wasn’t racist”, 19% said it was unacceptable. An even larger percentage of respondents – 78% – were unconcerned about Prince Charles calling a friend “Sooty”. 66% of people said the royal family were not racist, 17% thought they were.


Finally – though these are just my selection, there is some other stuff in the poll if you follow the link – YouGov asked about the conflict in Gaza and who was to blame. 18% said Israel, 24% said Hamas, 39% thought they were equally to blame.


The ComRes poll in the Sunday Indy also has a swing back to the Conservatives, albeit, the lead isn’t quite as big as YouGov’s. The topline figures, with changes from the last ComRes poll, are CON 41% (+2), LAB 32% (-2), LDEM 15% (-1). The poll was conducted on the 14th and 15th January. We now have ComRes, Populus and YouGov all showing a shift back to the Tories since Christmas.

Despite the shift to the Conservatives, some of the other questions in the poll are less good for them. 50% of people still think they are not ready for government, 41% disagree. 47% agree with the statement that Barack Obama will have a better relationship with Gordon Brown than he would with David Cameron were he PM. On Labour, on 24% said they agreed with the statement that Labour were less divided under Gordon Brown than they were under Blair, 63% disagreed.

YouGov’s monthly poll for the Sunday Times seems to pretty much confirm that the Labour advance we saw last year has now gone into retreat. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s previous poll, are CON 45%(+4), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 14%(-1). The poll was conducted between the 15th and 16th January.

This is the biggest Conservative lead in a YouGov since early October – before the bank bailout, though of course it doesn’t compare to the sort of leads YouGov were recording at the height of the summer. I’m writing this from just the PA report, there were plenty of other interesting questions included in the Sunday Times poll, and there may also be a ComRes poll tonight for the Independent on Sunday, so I will update again later.

There is a YouGov poll of Londoners in the Evening Standard asking about Heathrow expansion. Slightly more people oppose the 3rd runway than support it, but it is hardly overwhelmingly: 43% opposed compared to 35%. Unsurprisingly, people in West London are more hostile towards the runway, 50% to 37%. Also, like nuclear power, is it one of those rare issues where there is a really stark gender divide – 45% of men support a third runway, but only 26% of women do.

Questioned on the issues surrounding the expansion, 58% of people think that expansion would be good for jobs and good for the economy, but 58% of people also believe that it would cause unacceptable levels of noise. On the wider question of principle, 39% of people agree what “Given the dangers of climate change we should not be expanding air travel at all”, 47% of people disagree.

Note that someone on Guido’s blog posted some figures claiming to be voting intention figures from this poll. I can confirm that they are total nonsense (for the record, the sample size and dates the person gave were also rubbish. My guess is that it was entirely made up).