Following two YouGov polls in a row showing a two point Labour lead, today’s voting intention figures are CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%. A five point Labour lead is the largest any pollster has shown since the general election (and the largest Labour lead since the election-that-never-was).

This is also the lowest Conservative share of the vote since the election. Of course, the low Tory share and the size of the Labour lead may just be a blip, but the wider picture is that the underlying position now looks like a small Labour lead.

I used to occassionally link to awful newspaper reports of polling and give out the coverted UKPR prize for atrocious newspaper reporting of polls. I’m happy to report today that I can link to a journalist dealing properly with polling evidence, and actually going back to the archives and seeing what the polls did show. Hats off to Peter Hoskin at the Spectator for answering the question of whether Charles and Diana’ wedding in 1981 actually gave the government a boost in the polls by digging out the MORI voting intention polls at the time and seeing what actually happened. The answer is, incidentally, that no, the royal wedding had no obvious impact on voting intentions at all.

For the record, the Gallup polls from 1981 show the same absence of any royal wedding boost.


When yesterday’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times showed a two point Labour lead I gave my normal cautious “might yet just be margin of error, wait till tomorrow” type reaction. Well, today’s YouGov voting intention poll for the Sun has voting intentions of CON 40%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%, suggesting that Labour have indeed moved ahead. That said, I expect we will still see the parties swapping the lead back and forth between each other until Labour establish a larger lead (or until the Conservatives get back into a bigger lead).

As to what the reasons for the movement are, whenever there are movements in the polls people jump in to say “Oh, it’s because of this or that or whatever”, and the this or that or whatever is normally things the person talking finds particularly objectionable or welcome, and hence they’d like to think the movement in the polls is a result of it.

In this case the timings line up with the tuition fee protests, so one possible explanation is that it highlighted an unpopular policy or crystalised disatisfaction on that front. However, it’s easy to over analyse the timings of these things and Labour moving ahead could just as well be the continuation of the slow upwards trend in Labour support we’ve seen over recent months, the slow, culmulative drip-drip-drip effect of cuts.

The full tables for YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times are now up here.

Things worth noting in the regular trackers are the continuing decline in Nick Clegg’s approval ratings, now down to minus 14. Ed Miliband’s approval rating is at plus 2, so no baby boost (not, it should be said, that I’d expect one. Personal issues do sometimes impact on politicans approval ratings – after the death of Ivan Cameron for example – but I think those tend to be those things where people feel such sympathy for the politican in question that it feels harsh to give a negative opinion about them to a pollster. Just having a new baby doesn’t really do much.) David Cameron’s approval rating is plus 8.

The rest of the poll had the normal wide variety on questions, on the Ashes (people are evenly split on whether England can retain them or not), David Cameron’s photographer (65% think he’s wrong to employ him) and Cameron’s trip to China. The most interesting bits to me thought are on the tuition fee demonstrations and Phil Woolas.

On tuition fees only 35% support the government plans on tuition fees, with 52% opposing. 62% think the Liberal Democrats are wrong to drop their pledge to oppose tuition fees (including 36% of the remaining Lib Dem voters).

Asked about the protests, 65% of people said they had some sympathy with the demonstration, but the vast majority of those disapproved of the damaged caused to 30 Millbank. Only 13% of respondents said they had sympathy with the direct action against the Conservative party headquarters. Asked if the violent scenes had helped or hindered the protesters’ cause, 69% thought it had damaged their cause, 11% that it had helped it (16% think it did neither). 87% expect their to be further violent protests against the coalition’s cuts.

More generally, YouGov asked if people thought violent protest was ever acceptable in a democracy. 19% thought it was, 75% thought it was not.

There were also some more questions about Phil Woolas. 67% thought that Phil Woolas should accept the court’s ruling and move on, compared to 17% who think he is right to appeal. Asked about Harriet Harman’s condemnation of Woolas, 34% agreed with the criticism that she had acted too soon and should have waited until the appeal process was exhausted, but 47% backed her and agreed that Woolas’s behaviour would still be unacceptable regardless of the outcome of the appeal.

Asked about the Labour MPs backing Phil Woolas’s bid, 45% agreed with the statement that it made them look out of touch and that they didn’t understand the seriousness of his actions, but there was also some sympathy (34%) for the view that he had the right of appeal and it was natural for his friends and former colleages to support him in it.

YouGov also asked if people thought Woolas was an isolated case, or whether people took the view that MPs from other parties were probably just as bad, and were just lucky no one had taken them to court. Unsurprisingly given the generally low opinion the public have of MPs, 49% thought other MPs and parties were just as bad as Woolas, 26% thought he was an isolated example.

YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%. It’s the first time YouGov have shown Labour ahead since the conference season.

The normal caveats apply – it is just one poll, and it could be just as much of a blip as the 5 point Conservative lead we had earlier in the week – but it does come after a week when the coalition’s unpopular policy on tuition fees has been very much in the forefront of the news.