There is a new ComRes poll in today’s Independent. Topline figures with changes from last poll a week and a half ago are CON 40%(nc), LAB 27%(-1), LDEM 18%(-1).

Clearly there is little change in the levels of support for the main parties. Notably this is also only the second poll since the BNP’s appearance on Question Time. Like YouGov at the weekend, there is no significant boost for them – they are at 2% in this poll, up from 1% in the last poll, but pretty much par from the course (ComRes already had them at 2% in their poll at the start of October).

Of course, it does still leave us with the contrast between YouGov, ComRes and Populus, who are all showing a narrower Tory lead than before the Conference season, and ICM and Ipsos-MORI who are showing the lead up at 17 points. If it persists in next month’s polls I’ll have to have a closer look at what’s causing it.

On other questions, ComRes have had a stab at measuring tactical voting. Thay found 36% of non-Labour voters agreed with the statement “I would consider voting for a party I do not support just to try and keep Labour out of government” – that included 41% of Tory voters and 33% of Liberal Democrat voters. Of course, to put it in context we’d really need to know what people would say if asked the same about the Conservatives, and how people would have answered the question at previous elections. More grist for the mill, but we still haven’t really got a good way of predicting levels of tactical voting.

There is an ICM snap poll on the BNP in today’s News of the World, but what’s online really isn’t enough to do a proper analysis – we really need to see what was asked. From first sight, while it’s reported as a “shock horror people agree with BNP poll!”, a glance at the article suggests it actually shows small majorities of people don’t want gay sex taught in schools and think Islam has a poor record on women’s rights, which really isn’t the sort of thing I’d find particularly surprising. Only 10% think there should be a total stop to immigration.

The one surprising finding from the News of the World article is that ICM apparently found a third people agreeing with stopping benefits to British-born people from ethnic minorities to pay for them to leave the country. That seems counter-intuitive, after all, if only 10% of people want a stop to immigration, stripping benefits from British people based on their skin colour and paying them to leave would normally be regarded as a lot more extreme, but the News of the World claim ICM found it was three times more popular. I think we’d better wait and see ICM’s tables, rather than the News of the World’s interpretation of them.

Moving on, the Observer has an article saying that Labour strategists think that UKIP could cost the Conservatives 50 seats at the next election. Quite frankly, while a good performance by UKIP might well disadvantage the Conservatives, the sums here don’t even begin to add up.

If we take the Conservative’s 60 most winnable seats, the majorities range from 31 to 2686 (0.1% to 5.7%). Of course in reality these aren’t the seats that are under question, the Conservatives are going to win these anyway. Different levels of support will give us different distributions of required swing, but since we don’t know what the actual swing will be at the next election, these make as a good an illustration of how the majorities in seats are distributed as any.

If one assumes an even level of support for UKIP across these seats, UKIP would have to take an extra 5.7% of the vote, above and beyond the 2% they got at the last election, and take it all from people who would otherwise have voted Conservative in order to prevent the Conservatives winning all 60 seats. UKIP getting 8% at the next election seems pretty damn unlikely to start with, given they are currently on 4% and have been in decline since their boost at the European elections. In fact, even if they did, it wouldn’t cost the Conservatives 60 seats.

The Observer’s article has that old canard that UKIP cost the Conservatives 27 seats at the last election, if one starts from that basis, 50 seats sounds entirely plausible with a higher level of UKIP support. Unfortunately, it’s rubbish. Firstly, it’s only actually 24 seats where the majority over the Conservatives in 2005 was smaller than the UKIP vote (the 27 comes from lumping Veritas in with them). Secondly, for the Conservatives to have won all of them they would have had to win every single vote that went to UKIP.

In reality, some UKIP voters are people who would otherwise vote Labour or Lib Dem. A large chunk of UKIP’s voters are people who probably wouldn’t vote at all in the absense of UKIP or an alternate fringe party to cast a protest vote for. I’m pretty certain that UKIP take more people who would otherwise vote Conservative than people who would otherwise vote Labour, but once you also take out people who wouldn’t vote, or would vote for another minor party, the difference won’t be massive.

In the Observer’s report, they are assuming that UKIP takes about two-thirds of its support from Conservative minded voters and a third of their support from Labour minded voters – so every 3 votes for UKIP reduces the Conservative performance relative to Labour by just 1. On that basis, UKIP cost the Conservatives all of 10 seats at the last election, and for UKIP to prevent the Conservatives winning 50 seats, would take a performance in marginal seats equivalent to them winning 19% nationally. On that front, we really are into fantasy land.


YouGov have a poll in tomorrow’s Telegraph, the first since Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time. It was carried out late yesterday and all day today. There isn’t actually very much detail in the Telegraph’s report, but there’s more at ConservativeHome.

The topline voting intentions, with changes from the poll last weekend, are CON 40%(-1), LAB 27%(-3), LDEM 19%(+2), BNP 3%(+1). So while the BNP support is up, it is nothing significant. 2-3% has been pretty much the norm for their support over the last couple of months, and the most recent YouGov/Telegraph poll at the end of September also had them at 3%. For the other parties, Labour are down from the 30% to 27%, more in line with the ICM and Ipsos MORI figures in the week. YouGov still have the Conservatives down at 40% in comparison to 44% and 43% from ICM and MORI.

Anyway, the poll will really be looked at for evidence of how the BNP’s Question Time appearance has gone down, rather than the main parties. As well as voting intention, YouGov asked whether people had positive or negative opinions of the smaller parties – questions that it last asked in June straight after the European elections. Back then 11% of people had a positive impression of the BNP and 72% a negative impression, today’s figures are 9% positive and 71% negative, so no sign of any improvement in people’s opinion of the BNP either. Despite all the hoohah and protests, despite the millions of people who watched Question Time, it doesn’t seem to have made any significant difference to how the public view them, or how likely they are to support them (or at least, not yet).

Asked how likely people would be to vote BNP in a future local, general or European election. 66% said there were no circumstances at all, 15% said it was “possible”, which I suspect is more of a “never say never answer”. More significant are the 7% who would definitely or probably consider voting BNP at some point in the future.

What has changed was attitudes to the BBC’s decision to invite Griffin onto Question Time. At the weekend 63% thought it was right, 23% wrong. Now the balance of opinion has shifted further in favour of the BBC’s decision, 74% thinking it was right, and only 11% wrong.

There are two new polls on the postal strike out today. YouGov for Channel 4 actually asked who people blamed for the strike, and it wasn’t the government (see yesterday). Blame was pretty evenly distributed between the Royal Mail’s management and the CWU – 39% blamed the management, 37% blamed the union, 13% blamed the government.

A second poll by ComRes for Newsnight suggests that, while people might blame the two sides pretty equally, their sympathies are with the workers. Asked who they sympathise with, 25% said the management, 50% said the postal workers, and 16% said neither.

ComRes also asked whether the Royal Mail should be privatised, 22% thought it should, 68% thought it should not. Asked about its future, only 39% of people expected it to still be the sole provider of door-to-door letter delivery in five years time. Finally they asked if people knew the name of their postman – 14% of people saif it they did (this was, incidentally, very skewed by age. Almost a quarter of retired people knew the name of their postman, but only 1% of under 25s did).

Royal Mail strike

Compass have commissioned a poll from YouGov asking about the postal strike. 60% of respondents agreed with the suggestion that the government should set up an independent review into how the Royal Mail should be modernised, 55% thought Lord Mandleson should be more involved in solving the stand off and 55% said that the government should force the unions and management to go to ACAS.

The Guardian reports this as putting “blame on government”. Unless there are other questions that haven’t specifically been mentioned, it doesn’t. It says people would like the government to be more active in trying to solve it. The polls conspicuously doesn’t ask who is to blame, or whether the public think postal workers are right to strike.