The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are up on their website here. Questions today are, unsurprisingly, largely about the two cabinet politicians under clouds – Ken Clarke and Chris Huhne. The most interesting (and worrying for the government) finding however is about crime.

Asked whether the current government is more tough or less tough on crime than the last Labour government, 30% think the coalition is less tough on crime than the last government compared to only 9% who think it is tougher (43% think they are much the same). Even amongst Conservative supporters only 20% think the government is being tougher on crime than Labour were.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Labour have become the public’s perferred party on crime. YouGov regularly ask people which party they would best handle the main issues, and the Conservatives retain a strong lead over Labour. There are various ways to explain this apparent paradox, but my guess is that the difference is between the Conservative party’s long-term reputation for being tougher on crime, and people’s short-term opinion of what they’ve seen of the coalition so far. Right now people are saying that generally speaking they trust the Tories more on crime… but that the coalition so far has been weak on the issue. If that perception persists, then it will start to eat away at the Conservative party’s reputation on crime.

On crime policy itself, there is widespread opposition to the idea of increasing the maximum sentence discount for pleading guilty early to 50%. Only 26% of people support the idea, compared to 62% opposed. There is even less support for reduced sentences for people who plead guilty to more serious crimes like rape, where sentence discounts are supported by only 13%.

Notice, however, that public opinion is not always blanket opposition to anything that reeks of shorter sentencing. YouGov found more a more balanced split in opinion over whether there should be more use of community sentences rather than short prison sentences for minor crimes (41% supported it, 45% opposed).

That brings us to the first of our politicians in trouble – Ken Clarke. 64% of people thought that Ken Clarke was wrong to draw a distinction between different types of rape, however, only 32% of people thought that he should resign over his comments. Note that this is significantly lower than when YouGov asked should Ken resign earlier in the week for the Sun – perhaps as a result of Clarke apologising and the media narrative become somewhat less opposed to him in the 24 hours between the two polls.

Turning to Chris Huhne, 62% of people think that the allegations against him are probably true, 58% think it is reasonable to investigate them despite the passage of time since 2003, 79% think that getting someone else to take points on their licence is a serious offence. However, despite all this people are broadly evenly split on Huhne’s future – 37% think he should resign, 35% think he should not.

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%. I’ll do a proper write up of the poll tomorrow morning once the tables go up on the YouGov website.

So far I am not aware of any other polling in the Sunday papers.


Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. It’s at the top end of the Labour lead than YouGov have been showing over the last two weeks, but is probably just normal random variation (before anyone asks, it’s too soon really to see a Ken Clarke effect).

Meanwhile, turning to the other cabinet member under fire, this morning’s Sun also had a YouGov question on Chris Huhne’s future: 49% think he should resign, 29% think not, and 23% don’t know.

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9% – another two point lead. Since the local elections the average lead in YouGov’s daily polls has dropped to just over 3 points, compare that to a peak in YouGov’s polls of a 9-11 point Labour lead for a while in mid-March.

The pattern of a shrinking Labour lead is consistent across the polling companies, with all the regular pollsters now showing the Labour lead dropping to the low single figures. There appears to be a genuine tightening of the polls since February and March when the Labour lead was generally between 6 and 10 points. YouGov’s daily government approval also appears to have improved – back in mid-March it got as low as minus 30 on a couple of occassions, and the percentage of people thinking the government was doing a good job fell into the 20s. In the last week has been hovering around minus 20, with the percentage of people approving of the government back into the low 30s.

Part of this will be down to the halo effect of the local elections – rightly or wrongly it was seen as a disappointment for Labour and better for the Conservatives than had been expected. However, I think there may well be an economic factor too. Figures on economic confidence and how well people think the economy is doing remain atrocious… but not quite as atrocious as a couple of months ago. Through February and March 77-80% thought the economy was in a bad state. In the last three YouGov/Sunday Times polls that’s fallen to 73-74%. We see the same pattern with the “feel good factor” (the proportion of people who think their financial position is going to improve minus the proportion who think it will get worse) – between January and mid-March it was around minus 55, since mid-March it has dragged itself into the minus 40s and was -45/46 in the last two Sunday Times polls.

These figures are the sort of thing we were seeing back at the tail end of 2010 – so it looks as if what actually happened over the last few months is that the negative growth and bad economic news at the start of 2011 knocked government popularity and temporarily pushed Labour’s lead up into the high single figures… since then economic optimism (while still dire) has improved marginally, and so has government support. For Populus, ICM, MORI and YouGov at least, we are back in a position where the Conservatives are retaining their General Election support, and the only change since the election is the fracturing of Lib Dem support towards Labour.

Not, of course, that public opinion can be boiled down to a single economic cause. Other factors will be also be wider perceptions of the government’s competence and ability (the rows about privatising forests, for example, have faded away and the NHS reforms have been paused), there may also be an Ed Miliband factor, since his negative ratings seem to be becoming more entrenched. There are no doubt plenty of other possible explanations too.

Will it last? Probably not, a halo effect from the local elections is by definition short lived, the country is certainly not out of the woods in economic terms, and there are certainly many unpopular cuts that still need to be implemented. The Conservatives are doing better than one may have expected (certainly I’ve made many comments here saying I expected Labour to open up a bigger lead after the May elections – I got that one wrong!) but I expect the government’s real mid-term blues will show up sooner or later…

YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%. Full tables are up on the YouGov website here.

The regular trackers would appear to have been impacted by the elections at the start of the month – David Cameron’s net approval is up slightly to minus 1 (from minus 3 last week), Ed Miliband’s approval is down to minus 21 (from minus 12 last week), which equals his lowest rating to date. Nick Clegg’s rating is minus 52 (from minus 50 a week ago), his lowest rating ever.

YouGov also asked about perceptions of the two main party leaders – primarily aimed at seeing to what extent if any Cameron was becoming seen as arrogant or unpleasant. People saw Cameron as arrogant by 46% to 39%, but he was seen as likeable by slightly more people (45%) than saw him as dislikable (42%) and, overall, public perceptions of him are still positive. His is seen as strong (by 51% to 27%), competent (by 52% to 30%) and as up-to-the-job (by 48% to 36%). His big weakness is not arrogance, but being seen in touch with ordinary people – 30% think Cameron is in touch, but 53% think he is not (which, of course, probably plays into the Conservative party’s wider problem of being seen as a party for the rich).

Looking at how people answered the same questions about Ed Miliband, the most positive findings were that Miliband was seen as honest (by 41% to 18%) and open-minded (by 42% to 22%). The most negative were that Miliband was seen as weak (by 44% to 19%), not up-to-the-job (by 45% to 25%) and unlikeable (by 45% to 31%). I’ve been cautious in the past about concluding too much from Miliband’s negative ratings – he was new in the job and had plenty of time to turn things about once people got to know him. He has now been in the job for well over six months – Labour would be right to be concerned about perceptions of Miliband.

Looking at some of the other questions, a majority of the public (55%) remain opposed to the government’s NHS reforms, and even most of those who support it think the reforms should be amended to address public concerns.

There were also some questions on superinjunctions. A majority (55%) of respondents continued to think super-injunctions are an unacceptable restriction on the freedom of the press, compared to 30% who think they are an acceptable way of people in the public eye to protect their privacy. Despite this, there was not much sympathy for the Twitter account that broke the alleged contents of some of the injunctions – 35% thought this was the right thing to do, but 44% though it was wrong.

While I haven’t had chance to look at it properly yet, there is also a big chunk of new polling on Michael Ashcroft’s website here.