Two new polls tonight. YouGov have topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%. It’s a smaller Labour lead than usual, but I’d be surprised if this didn’t turn out to be an outlier from the normal Labour lead of 5% or so – time will tell.

Secondly we have a ComRes phone poll showing figures of CON 34%(nc), LAB 43%(+1), LDEM 10%(-2). Changes are from the last ComRes poll conducted on the telephone at the beginning of January, and show no significant change beyond the margin of error – though, for the record, this the biggest Labour lead ComRes have recorded since the general election.

Interestingly we have something of a contrast between pollsters now – ICM and YouGov have Labour leads of around 4/5 points (assuming today’s YouGov turns out to be something of an outlier), Angus Reid and MORI have Labour leads of 10 points or more, ComRes has a Labour lead almost as large.

At the beginning of the year YouGov re-asked a question on where people would place the parties, the party leaders and themselves on the left-right spectrum – a question we’ve returned to a couple of times a year since we first asked it in 2002. As I’m sure people will point out, political views these days probably can’t be so easily characterised on a single left-right axis, but it still serves as a good measure of how close people see the political parties to themselves.

There are some interesting patterns on display. Firstly the Conservatives and David Cameron are seen as being as almost right wing as they were under Michael Howard. Cameron’s score on the left right scale (where -100 is very left wing and +100 is very right wing) is +48, compared to Michael Howard’s score in 2005 of +52. The Conservative party in general scored +53 in 2006, now it scores +47, not significantly more centrist.

This is not to say that the whole strategy of making the Conservatives look more centrist and moderate failed. It succeeded…for a while, then around 2009/2010 perceptions of the Conservatives moved rightwards again (probably as they were forced to talk about deficit reduction and cutting public spending, as opposed to their strategy of focusing on the environment and public services during the early years of Cameron’s leadership). From +53 in 2006 the Conservatives had moved in to +37 by 2009, before moving out again in 2010. Cameron started at +35 on the scale in 2006, and moved into +28 by 2009 before slipping rightwards. Whereas once Cameron was seen as to the left of his party, he and his party are now seen as equally right-wing.

Moving onto Labour and Ed Miliband, the perception of Miliband as “Red Ed” seems to have found some traction with the public. On the left right scale he is viewed as being as left-wing as Cameron is right-wing, with a score of -45. He is perceived as being more left-wing than Gordon Brown, who as Prime Minister recieved scores of between -20 and -27, and vastly more left-wing than Tony Blair who used to be perceived as slightly right of centre, with scores of +3 to +7.

While it is not seen as being as left-wing as its leader, the Labour party itself is also seen as having moved significantly to the left since the general election. In May 2010 it received a score of -27, in the latest poll its average rating is -39. Coupled with the Conservative move to the right, this means the public perceive our political parties to be more polarised than they have been for at least a decade.

Finally we come to the Liberal Democrats, and the impact their entry into coalition with the Conservatives has had upon how they are perceived. Until the general election the Liberal Democrats had consistently been perceived as a left-of-centre party, scoring between -9 and -17 on the left-right scale. They are now viewed as being almost exactly in the centre, with a score of +1. Nick Clegg himself is now seen as firmly right-of-centre with a score of +10.

Given the public themselves inevitably place themselves in the centre, this should in theory be good for the Liberal Democrats. In fact the Liberal Democrats have managed to secure the worst of all worlds. People who consider themselves as being left-wing tend to view the Liberal Democrats as being right wing. People who consider themselves as being right-wing tend to view the Liberal Democrats as being left wing.

As a footnote, the data also gives us firm evidence of what most people assumed anyway – that the votes the Liberal Democrats have lost since the election have been their more left wing voters, leaving them with a somewhat more centrist rump. “Lost Liberal Democrats” (those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 but wouldn’t tomorrow) place themselves on average at -20 on the left-right scale. Those who have remained loyal place themselves on average at -6.

This post is also up on the YouGov website here – the full tabs for the left-right questions are here.


The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here.

The regular economic trackers have fallen even further since last week, before the GDP figures, when they were already dire. Since then the percentage of people thinking the economy is in a bad state is up to 80% (which I believe is the lowest since the height of the credit crunch in 2008, when it got up to 90%). The “feel-good-factor” – the proportion of people who think their financial situation will get better in the next twelve months minus those who think it will get worse – is down to minus 56, equalling the worst since the bank-bailout in September 2008.

Asked specifically about the drop in GDP, 9% think it was entirely down to snow, 53% think the snow was a factor, but there were other underlying problems too. 30% think the snow was just an excuse. YouGov then asked if people thought the figures were a sign that the government’s policy was failing and they should change course, or if they were on the right course and shouldn’t be put off by one quarter’s bad figures – respondents were split down the middle – 36% to 36%.

Asked about some specific measures, 49% think the top rate of 50p should be made permanent, 33% think it should eventually be brought down. 51% would like to the see the threshold for the top rate brought down to £100,000, 29% would oppose this. 85% thought the planned rise in fuel tax should be cancelled.

There were also a couple of question on the phone hacking scandal. Unsurprisingly 85% thought the behaviour of the journalists concerned was illegal. Asked if there were any circumstances where it would have been acceptable, 71% said no, 21% thought it would be acceptable for journalists to hack into voicemail in some circumstances, such as investigating corruption. Just 1% thought it was legitimate anyway. 60% thought that the phone hacking scandal was an important issue that the police should be spending time investigating.

Finally there were a group of questions about the Sky Sports sexism row, which actually showed a fairly substantial minority thinking Andy Gray and Richard Keys had been ill treated. While an overall majority thought it was right that Gray was sacked (51%), and that Keys was right to resign (53%), a third of people thought that Gray had been treated unfairly.

Having said there aren’t any other polls in the Sunday papers, it turns out there is an Angus Reid on in the Sunday Express. Their voting intention figures are CON 32%(-1), LAB 43%(+2), LDEM 11%(-1). Changes are from their poll at the start of the week.

The 11 point Labour lead is the largest any pollster has shown since the general election, and the 32% the lowest any company has shown the Conservatives – although Angus Reid do tend to show lower Conservative figures than other companies and consequental higher Labour leads (somewhat ironically, considering prior to the election they tended to be an outlier in the opposite direction).

Tonight’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll – the only one I’m aware of so far in the Sunday papers – has got topline voting intention figures of CON 39%, LAB 43%, LDEM 8%.

The Labour lead of around 5 points still seems very steady indeed – YouGov’s daily trackers has shown no obvious decline in government support from the negative GDP figures on Monday, my guess is that this is because it’s already priced into the market. The move from November’s neck-and-neck to December’s Labour lead of around 2-3 points to January’s lead of around 5 points is probably already down people getting more pessimistic about the cuts, the VAT rise, the economy and so on.

I’ll do a bigger update once the full tables are published tomorrow morning.