There are two new polls tonight. YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 36%, LDEM 15% – meanwhile ComRes in the Indy have their first poll since the end of June, with topline figures of CON 39%(-1), LAB 33%(+2), LDEM 16%(-2).

The Conservative and Lib Dem figures are much the same in the two companies’ polls, but there’s a bit of a difference in the Labour party scores – and indeed between the lower Lib Dem scores that Ipsos MORI and YouGov have been showing in other recent polls.

We saw the same pattern back in June when ComRes released their last poll, when they showed Labour on 31% when YouGov were showing around 35% or 36%, and the Lib Dems a couple of points higher. I’m not going to waste too much time speculating on differences between pollsters at this stage, not until the more regular cycle of polling is established, companies have all made whatever post-election adjustments they are going to make (the previous few ComRes polls have been weighted to actual past vote which I assume is a temporary holding position – I haven’t seen the tables for this one yet) and we’ve had time to digest them.

There were some other interesting questions in the ComRes poll. 73% said it was now difficult to know what the Lib Dems stand for, up from 65% when they asked the same question back in June. In June ComRes found a narrow plurality agreed that the coalition was better than either an outright Conservative or Labour victory (45% to 43%), people now disagree with that by 50% to 36%. Back in June 42% of Tory voters and 37% of Labour voters agreed with the statement – my guess is that at least the latter of those two has collapsed!

There is a new TNS-BMRB poll in the Herald. Voting intentions in the Scottish parliament (with changes from TNS’s poll in June) are:

Holyrood constituency: CON 10%(-3), LAB 46%(+1), LDEM 11%(nc), SNP 32%(+3)
Holyrood regional: CON 11%(-1), LAB 42%(+1), LDEM 12%(nc), SNP 30%(+2)

Since the election TNS-BMRB have been the only company to release any Scottish polling, and they suggest a good recovery for Labour (TNS-BMRB tend to show somewhat higher levels of support for Labour in Scotland than some other companies anyway, but even comparing it to their own polls from earlier this year, Labour are vastly improved).


Sunday Polling

YouGov’s regular poll for the Sunday Times (link behind paywall) has topline figures of CON 42%, LAB 36%, LDEM 13% – which is pretty much the average for YouGov’s recent polls, and presumably a good reflection of where we really are.

As usual in polls for the Sunday Times, YouGov asked questions on a wide range of different topics. First, on the recent controversy over David Cameron’s comments on Pakistan the public agreed with what Cameron actually said about Pakistan and the export of terror by 66% to 15%. However, they also had negative view about Cameron’s abilities as a statesman – 30% thought he was a good statesman, 43% thought he wasn’t (compare that to his overall approval ratings which remain positive). Asked to compare Cameron’s abilities on the international stage to those of his predecessors, he was judged as better than Brown (by 45% to 27%), but worse than Blair (by 41% to 30%).

On council tenure, 62% of people supported the idea that future council tenants should only be given limited tenures of 5 or 10 years, rather the current unlimited tenancies. 32% opposed the idea.

Asked who the second most important member of the government was after Cameron, Nick Clegg came out narrowly ahead on 29%, followed by George Osborne on 28% and William Hague on 12%. Not surprisingly, there was a big contrast between different party supporters here – over half of Lib Dem voters thought Nick Clegg was the second most important figure in the government, Conservative and Labour supporters tended to think George Osborne was.

Finally YouGov asked about spending cuts to the Olympics and Museums and Galleries. On the Olympics, 59% continue to support Britain hosting the Olmypics, but the same proportion said that spending on it should be scaled back. On galleries and museums YouGov asked whether people would be prepared to see entrance charges brought back to avoid cutbacks from reduced government spending – the public were broadly split: 49% would support charges coming back if it avoided cutbacks, 42% would like to see entry remain free, even if it meant some cutbacks.

The only other “poll” I can see in the Sunday papers is what appears to be a voodoo poll in the Sunday Telegraph (i.e. carried out on the street by their own reporters, rather than using any proper sampling or weighting techniques.) The “poll” was about recogntion of politicians from photographs. The Sunday Telegraph normally use ICM as their pollsters, and ICM’s online panel could certainly have been used to do this professionally with a represenative sample. Shame it wasn’t.

Time for an update on this week’s voting intention polls. Here are YouGov’s figures this week:

YouGov/Sun August 2nd: CON 42% LAB 38% LDEM 12%
YouGov/Sun August 3rd: CON 41% LAB 36% LDEM 13%
YouGov/Sun August 4th: CON 42% LAB 36% LDEM 13%
YouGov/Sun August 5th: CON 44% LAB 36% LDEM 13%

The Lib Dem drop to 12% last weekend was slightly more meaningful than I thought at the time. I said then that it was part of a downwards trend, but that we’d probably see the Lib Dems back up at their average of 14% or so in the next poll. In fact, the Lib Dems this week seem to be down to around 13%.

The Conservatives and Labour meanwhile remain steady in the low 40s and mid 30s respectively. Last night’s poll had a Conservative lead of 8 points, the largest for a couple of weeks, but more generally I think we are just seeing random variation around a Tory lead of about 6 points or so.

One of the first challenges for Labour’s new leader will be to identify why the party lost and what they need to do to make themselves electable once more. This is not necessarily an easy task (it took the Conservative party a decade!), they must convince their own party members of any changes and during long years of governing there is a risk of a disconnect building up between the way parties see themselves, and the way the public see them.

As part of our polling on the Labour leadership last week we also asked Labour party members which criticisms of the Labour government they themselves agreed with, and which they thought were the main reasons the Labour party had lost.

A majority of Labour party members agreed with three criticisms of the party – the large majority (71%) thought Labour had been too subservient to the USA over Iraq and Afghanistan, 64% that it became out of touch with ordinary voters and 62% of party members think that Labour did not do enough for working-class supporters. On other criticisms 47% think that Labour didn’t pay enough attention to the trade unions, 41% thought the recession had destroyed Labour’s economic reputation and 33% thought Labour had not been tough enough on immigration. Few (28%) Labour members thought that Gordon Brown had been a poor Prime Minister, and hardly any agreed that Labour had taxed too much (9%) or wasted too much of the money spent on public services (12%).

Asked which three of four of the reasons contributed most to Labour’s defeat, the answers were slightly different. While 71% had thought Labour was too subservient to the USA, only 43% thought it was a major cause of the defeat, rather the economy was seen as a main cause (47%), along with Labour becoming out of touch with ordinary voters (47%) or doing enough for natural working class supporters (44%). Gordon Brown’s own performance was seen as a major factor by only 33% of Labour members, with only 25% thinking that immigration was part of the problem. Hardly any party members (5%) thought money spent on public services being wasted was a factor.

Compare this with the opinions of the general public. There immigration (52%), the recession (43%) and Gordon Brown (43%) are seen as the main reasons Labour lost the general election. Being out of touch (39%) and failing to help working class supporters (29%) were seen as less important factors. Wasteful public spending was only seen as an important factor by a minority (29%) but nevertheless, this was far more important than Labour members perceived it.

With Labour electing a new leader, the amount that Gordon Brown contributed to Labour’s defeat is now largely academic. On the other two main reasons cited by the public, while most Labour members have not themselves lost confidence in the party over the economy, they do recognise that it was a problem with the wider public. In contrast, immigration was seen as a major factor in Labour’s defeat by 52% of the public, but only 25% of Labour members, a major disconnect.

However, we shouldn’t go away from this polling thinking that it says a harsher immigration policy is the necessarily the answer. Firstly, people are not always good judges of what drives public opinion or sometimes even their own decisions, so just because immigration was seen as a main driver of Labour’s defeat, it doesn’t mean it necessarily was. Secondly, it may not make good strategic sense for Labour to change their stance on immigration anyway – while it could please their traditional working class supporters, the Labour party is a broad church and also contains middle-class intelligentsia who would be repelled by an anti-immigration policy.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the next election could be almost five years away. If the current government runs its course, it will have changed the political landscape that the next election is fought upon. Part of the battle ahead for the Labour party be over how the public remembers the Labour government just gone. In the same way that Labour in 1997 managed to embed the Major government in the public mind as one of “boom and bust” that starved public services of investment, the Conservatives will be eager to paint the former Labour government as profligate spenders who wasted money and drove the country into unmanageable debt. While neither Labour members nor the general public saw spending as a major cause of Labour’s defeat, the disconnect between the general public, 59% of whom think most of the extra money Labour spent on services was wasted, and Labour members, only 12% of whom agree, may yet be the most important as Labour try to adapt to the new political landscape.

This is cross-posted from the YouGov website here, Will Straw’s take on the polling at Left Foot Forward can be read here.