I am expecting at least two new polls in the Sunday newspapers, our first chance to see how the public have reacted to the email smears and the political fuss around it over the last few days. I will update here as soon as the figures are available.

UPDATE: The Sunday Telegraph has a Marketing Sciences Ltd poll. My understanding is this is a sister company to ICM, with the poll presumably done by the sister brand because otherwise it would clash with ICM’s contractual obligations to the Guardian. The poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday.

The topline figures are CON 43%, LAB 26%, LDEM 21%, putting the Conservatives 17 points ahead. With the exception of a single MORI poll in February that in hindsight screamed “rogue poll”, this is the largest Tory lead since September.

On the assumption that this poll was conducted in exactly the same way as ICM’s polls, the changes since their last poll are Conservatives down 1, Labour down 5, the Lib Dems up 3 and presumably the “others” up 3 or so. It appears from this poll at least that Labour have suffered damage from the smear emails, but that it has been to the benefit of the Lib Dems, others (and I expect, non voters) rather than the Conservatives.

I’m expecting at least one more poll tonight, so we’ll see if it confirms this pattern.

Looking at the rest of the questions in the poll 36% of respondents said they blame Gordon brown for presiding over a dirty trick culture at number 10, 50% did not.

Asked who they would most like to see replace Gordon Brown were he to resign as Labour leader, Jack Straw lead on 23%, followed by David Miliband 14%, Alan Johnson 7%, Harriet Harman on 6%, Ed Miliband on 4%, Ed Balls on 3% and James Purnell on 1%. As usual, questions like this probably say a lot more about how well known Brown’s potential successors are, rather than how popular they woulb be as PM.

UPDATE 2: There is a second poll from BPIX in the Mail on Sunday has topline figures of CON 45%, LAB 26% – Lib Dems to be confirmed. It has been 6 months since the last BPIX poll was published, so changes can’t tell us much about reaction to the email smear scandal alone (Tim Montgomerie on ConHome is comparing it to YouGov’s last poll – you shouldn’t, my understanding is they use different weighting.)

There is normally some scepticism regarding BPIX polls because their methodology isn’t open. Their polls are weighted by past vote, but to what shares we don’t know. However, in the past their figures have been broadly in line with other companies, albeit, towards the more “Tory friendly” end of the scale. This one appears roughly in line with Marketing Sciences – the Tory score isn’t too different and they too show Labour being pushed down into the mid-twenties.

UPDATE 3: You’ve probably seen it by now, but for the record that BPIX figures for the Lib Dems is 17%.

UPDATE 4: Just had confirmation that the Marketing Sciences poll was done using the same methodology as ICM, so should be directly comparable.

The “email smear” story is all over the media for a fifth day. What we don’t yet know is how the public will react. We might normally expect an ICM poll around now, but pollsters do not normally conduct polls over the Easter bank holiday weekend in case it skews their sample. YouGov’s poll for the Sunday Times would also normally be mid-month, but it was done early in April. The next scheduled poll we can expect is ComRes in the Independent on Sunday, which I would expect to see this coming Sunday, though if we are lucky a newspaper will have taken the opportunity to commission an ad hoc survey to find how the public have reacted to the scandal.

What should we expect? Well, given the level of media coverage it’s reasonable to expect that this will have a large effect, but it is not a certainty. Damian Green’s arrest, for example, was given huge media play for a few days, before the polls received it had no effect whatsover – it was a Westminister village story people didn’t care about. Similarly the Jacqui Smith expenses row didn’t seem to have much effect, perhaps because it was cancelled out by a successful G20 summit, or perhaps because the public assumed that politicians from all parties were on the take.

That may be the vital factor in how the public respond to the story – will it be seen as the Labour party making up lies to smear their opponents, or will it be seen as politicians in general making up lies to smear their opponents. If the former, then one would expect it to damage Labour, if the latter and people think all the other parties are probably just as bad, then perhaps not.

Even if people aren’t unduly worried by the story itself, it may have a wider affect upon the party standings anyway, since it will build into the image of a dying government, interested only in arguing with itself and smearing opponents. Currently Labour’s defecit in the poll is around 10 to 13 points, compared to 20+ points last Summer. Despite (or perhaps because of) the economic crisis Labour are doing better than they were a year ago – apart from the economy the difference is that back then Labour were horribly divided, fighting one another over the leadership. If this story moves public perceptions of the Labour government back towards seeing them as divided and incompetent then we’ll see their figures drop. We’ll know by Sunday (and hopefully before!)


Burson-Marsteller have again commissioned Simon Hix and Michael Marsh (this time joined by Nick Vivyan) to carry out a prediction of the European Parliament election results. The whole prediction has a rather fancy website here.
Hix and Marsh produced a similar prediction for the 2004 elections, which predicted that the EPP-ED would manager 285 seats, the PES 217 seats and the ELDR 73 seats. UEN 28, Greens 40 and the then EDD would be eliminated. In the UK they predicted that the 2004 result would be CON 32, LAB 27, LD 12, SNP 2 and PC 2, with the Greens and UKIP loosing all their seats. Of course, that didn’t happen. In fact UKIP didn’t lose all their seats, they tripled them to 12 seats.

This time round they have a rather fancier model, which takes into account the latest opinion polls, the last national election, who is in government, how close the last national election was to the last european election. They also factor in whether the party is an “anti-European” party, who apparently tend to do better in EU elections and which they presumably hope will deal with the “UKIP effect”.
For the over predictions and the prediction in each of the other member states visit the website here. For the UK, Hix, Marsh and Vivyan predict that the number of seats for each party will be CON 27(nc), LAB 22(+3), LDEM 13(+1), UKIP 4(-8), SNP 2(nc), PC 1(nc), GRN 0(-2).

(UPDATE: There were problems moving the server over, so there may still be outages over the next few days until it’s finally all sorted out)

(UPDATE2: Another server change, this time to a new provider, so comments from the last day have sadly vanished. Fingers crossed this should be the last switch, so you can now leave comments without worrying they might vanish!)

Switching servers

UKPollingReport is moving servers, so there may be outages over the next 24 hours, and comments may disappear and reappear!

Populus have a new poll in the Times tomorrow, the second since the G20. The topline figures are CON 43%(+1), LAB 30%(nc) LDEM 18%(-1). The poll was conducted between Friday and Sunday.

This is the second poll since the G20 conference but, unlike YouGov, shows no boost for Labour. In fact the Conservatives are up slightly, though clearly the 1 point change is not significant. Of course, polls vary and are subject to a margin of error, so perhaps other companies will produce better figures for Labour, but with only a small boost from YouGov and no boost at all from Populus, I think we can conclude that the G20 has not had a major effect.

In Peter Riddell’s commentary he ponders whether there was a small boost picked up by YouGov, which had already evaporated by the time Populus finished their poll. That’s just about plausible – both polls went into the field on Friday, but the vast majority of YouGov’s would have been concluded on Friday, while Populus were still interviewing on Sunday. Perhaps the G20 boost didn’t last once the coverage had finished and the media got back onto MP expenses claims.

On the subject of expenses, a substantial majority (69%) of people thought that most MPs were absusing their expenses to some extent. 20% thought many MPs did, but a majority did not, and only 8% thought it was just a few bad eggs. Polling on many subjects shows a contrast between people’s perception of public services at a national level and their own local area – polls typically find, for example, that people have better opinions of their local hospitals or schools than they do the NHS or education system as a whole. The same applies to MPs… but not by that much. 34% think their own MP is abusing the system, with 38% thinking their own MP does not. 28% didn’t know.

A week or so ago when YouGov asked if people would prefer keeping MPs expenses but tightening them up, or abolishing their expenses and giving them a higher salary instead I said that my guess was that “had the option been given to just stop giving MPs lots of their expenses it would be been a preferred option”. Populus did just that, and my guess was right: 19% thought the allowances should be scrapped and replaced with a higher salary, 22% would prefer the allowances to remain, but be more tightly regularly. 56% however would rather MPs second home allowance be scrapped without giving them any replacement.

Finally, on the G20 itself we saw the same pattern as YouGov and ICM reported – the great majority of people were supportive, but there was very little enthusiasm. 74% of people had some degree of confidence that the measures would help the economy, but that was made up of only 8% who had a great deal of confidence and 66% with a “little confidence”. Figures were marginally higher on confidence that it would help the global economy recover (11% and 68%).