Two new polls tonight – Populus for the Times (only their second poll since the election), has topline figures of CON 39%(nc), LAB 37%(+4), LDEM 14%(-4). Changes are since Populus’s last poll just after the budget.

YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun meanwhile has figures of CON 41%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%.

UPDATE: YouGov’s government approval rating today hits a new low for the coalition, down to minus 8 (37% approve and 45% disapprove). To some extent this will be an outlier, but it is part of a continuing downwards trend in the government’s approval rating.

Moving onto Populus’s poll in the Times, as part of their poll Populus asked people to choose which of three approaches to the deficit they most agreed with, roughly representing the views of the coalition, Labour, and the trade unions (though the question did not identify them as such). Only 22% supported dealing with the deficit by the end of the Parliament, compared to 37% who supported dealing with it within 10 years. 37% preferred the policy of putting protecting the vulnerable and keeping unemployment ahead of cutting the deficit. This suggests little support for the coalition’s economic policy… except when people were asked if they approved of the coalitions policy 53% did, compared to 45% who disapproved.

Populus also asked who people blamed for Britain’s debt problem, and found most people blamed the banks. I would be cautious about the Times’s interpretation of how bad this is for the government though – Polls have consistently shown that if people are asked who is most to blame for the economic crisis they will pick the banks over the government. However, the banks won’t be standing at the next election.

If people are given a list of groups that could be at fault and asked how much blame each should bear, the overwhelming majority think the last government should have some degree of blame as well. The essential question politically is now whether the public blame the coalition government for the cuts they are carrying out, or whether the government can successfully shift that blame onto their predecessors.

On that front YouGov’s tracker on who people blame for the cuts (on page 5 of this pdf) gives a better measure, and this still shows 45% put more blame on Labour, while 22% put more blame on the coalition. The figures are very slowly drifting towards blaming the government, but very slowly – it’ll be interesting to see how it shifts when the actual cuts start happening and people start looking for someone to direct their anger towards. I suspect it will increasingly be the current government, but we shall see.

UPDTATE2: The graphic in the paper copy of the Times has a bit more info, and actually Populus did ask the blame question separately for each group, so 75% put blame on the banks, but 64% did also blame the last Labour government. Currently 49% blame David Cameron and George Osborne.

The full tables for the Labour leadership poll are now up on YouGov’s website here (for members), here (for Trade Unionists) and here (as a nice summary). There are a couple of other notable findings.

1) How perceptions of the candidates have changed during the campaign. Ed Miliband, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott are all perceived by party members as being more left wing that they were in July. In July 30% of members saw Ed Miliband as centrist (22%) or right of centre (8%), that has now dropped to 21%. In contrast to the other four candidates, David Miliband is seen as increasingly right wing – in July 33% saw him as centrist and 19% as right of centre. That has now risen to 36% centrist and 26% right of centre.

2) Party members and trade Unionists still see David Miliband as the leader more likely to win the next election and as making the better Prime Minister. Despite the shift in voting intentions, amongst members David leads Ed by 55% to 25% as likely to lead Labour to victory, 45% to 28% on making best PM, and 44% to 21% on being an effective leader of the opposition. Ed Miliband still leads his brother on being likeable and sharing members political views. Amongst trade unionists David Milibands leads are smaller, but the pattern is the same. This implies many Labour members and trade unionists are voting for the candidate whose views they approve of, rather than the one they think has the best chance of winning the next election.

3) Labour’s future strategy. 51% of Labour members think the New Labour strategy is wholly (5%) or largely (46%) right and should be retained. 47% think it is largely (36%) or wholly (11%) wrong and should be abandoned. In regard to the coalition’s planned cuts, 25% of Labour party members think the party should oppose them on principle, and 56% think they should accept the principle, but oppose their scale or timing as damaging to the country. Only 17% think Labour should accept the scale of cuts and offer alternate cuts when they oppose specific coalition savings. An insignificant 1% think they should support the coalition cuts wholesale.

4) YouGov’s regular poll for the Sunday Times also asked the general public who they think would make a better Labour leader if they had to choose between David and Ed Miliband. 30% backed David, 16% Ed, but the majority (54%) said don’t know – a reminder that the two men still have a relatively low profile amongst the general public. (Not, it has to be said, that this is necessarily a bad thing. Leaders of the opposition do rapidly become known to the public, and having a blank canvas when it comes to public perception is better than having a negative image).


YouGov have carried out a fresh poll of Labour party members and Trade Unionists for tomorrow’s Sunday Times. Six weeks ago a similar YouGov poll found David Miliband eight points ahead; today’s poll finds the two Milibands neck and neck, with Ed Miliband very narrowly ahead. For those of you with subscriptions, the Sunday Times’s full report can be found here.

As before, YouGov asked people their first preference, their second preference, and then who they would prefer between the two Milibands (based on the, thankfully correct, assumption that the poll would show the two Milibands coming up top on the early preferences). Samples of party members and members of Labour affiliated trade unions were polled, and MPs preferences were based upon updated work by Left Foot Forward.

The main shift is amongst Trade Unionists. In the Labour member section there is only a small movement towards Ed – in July the two brothers were equal on 50% each, now Ed is ahead by 4 points. Amongst the MPs and MEPs section there has been a very slight movement towards David, and Left Foot Forward’s projected split for MPs & MEPs is now David 56%, Ed 44%. Amongst Trade Unionists there has been a large movement, in July we found a lead of 12 points for David amongst eligible trade unionists. Since then there has been a huge shift, and Ed now leads David in that section by 57% to 43%. Prima facie, it would appear that trade union encouragement of their members to back the candidate they endorsed had a decisive effect.

Putting all three parts of the college together this leaves Ed two points ahead, 51% to 49%. David Miliband is still ahead amongst MPs, but it’s not enough to overcome Ed Miliband’s lead among members and trade unionists.

One big caveat is MPs second preferences – Left Foot Forward have a good canvas of how MPs will cast their first preferences, but there is little good information on how MPs will cast their second preferences. In both YouGov projections we have made the crude assumption that the second preferences of MPs who back Abbott, Balls and Burnham will divide evenly between David and Ed Miliband, but obviously this could go either way. About two thirds of MPs are backing a Miliband anyway, so this unknown section makes up a third of a third of the total vote – about 10%. Another unknown is turnout, but notably over 40% of those polled said they had already voted, and these respondents were more likely to backing Ed Miliband, so if YouGov have included too many unlikely voters, the result should be more favourable to Ed than this suggests.

With the MPs second preferences unknown and the two candidates within the margin of error it really could go either way, but Ed Miliband is now in poll position.

Meanwhile, on YouGov’s standard daily polling (an entirely seperate poll, obviously) voting intention stands at CON 42%, LAB 38%, LDEM 14%. YouGov also asked about the future of Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s Director of Communications who was editor of the News of the World at the time of the phone tapping scandal. 48% think Coulson should go, 24% that he should keep his job.

Sky News have just had the front page of the Sunday Times up, with a new YouGov poll of Labour members and eligible Trade Unionists, showing the two brothers neck and neck. It is very close – YouGov’s projection of the electoral college is now Ed Miliband on 51%, and David Miliband on 49%. In comparison, at the end of July David was 8 points ahead.

Nothing up yet on the Sunday Times website, so I’ll update properly later.

Rather a big if…

There is a new ComRes poll of Labour councillors in England and Wales out today. This is fair enough in its own terms, a respectable and apparently well conducted poll of Labour councillors, and shows that amongst Labour councillors David Miliband is a more popular choice than his brother for Labour leader. The BBC though has rather overinterpreted it…

“The ComRes poll for Daily Politics suggests the contest would go to the full four rounds of counting, if the results of interviews with 265 councillors in England and Wales were replicated amongst Labour members across the country.”

Yes, if the views of Labour councillors in England and Wales were representative of normal Labour party members (including those in Scotland) then indeed it would go to all four rounds, and David Miliband would win. That is, also assuming that members of affiliated trade unions and Labour MPs and MEPs voted the same way too. That is rather a big if though, and there is no particular reason to think Labour councillors are representative of the wider Labour party. It does also assume that none of the campaign since mid-August has had any effect, as the fieldwork is a month old.