Tonight’s YouGov/Sun poll has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%. The Labour lead is obvously bigger than the 1 point lead yesterday, but it remains much lower than YouGov have been showing for most of August and July.

Throughout most of the last two months (in fact, pretty much since the phone hacking scandal broke) YouGov’s daily polling has been showing a steady Labour lead of around about 7-9 points. We’ve now had four YouGov polls in a row showing a Labour lead below that, between 1-5 points. My impression is that there has been a genuine shift, that the underlying lead has narrowed to something closer to 3-5 points.

The natural reaction when there is a shift in the polls is to ask why – see Paul Waugh and James Kirkup for example, pondering about whether it might be a Libya bounce or a law-and-order effect after the riots. I’m slightly dubious about either explanation – the narrowing in the polls seems too delayed to be a riot effect, and I’m always doubtful about the impact of foreign affairs stories – true, more people think Cameron’s handled Libya well than badly, but Cameron’s general approval ratings and perceptions of his qualities haven’t particularly changed. That said, I don’t really have any better explanation to offer up, and the timing appears to chime with Libya – perhaps the government’s handling of the riots and Libya have just given a generally more competent image, or perhaps it’s merely an absence of conspicous bad news for a few weeks.

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%. This is the lowest Labour lead that YouGov have recorded since back in January, and follows on from a three point lead in the YouGov/Sunday Times poll.

As regular readers will have noted, I don’t normally give much credence to a single poll showing a shift in support – more often than not it is just normal sample variation. Two polls in a row showing a shift looks more meaningful. While it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to get two outliers in a row, and it’s possible that tomorrow will go back to an 8 point lead, it’s starting too look as though the polls are narrowing again.

There’s no overwhelmingly obvious reason for a narrowing in the polls – it seems a bit delayed for a riots or Libya effect – but perhaps they’ve just fed into a perception of things going somewhat better. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.


Full tabs from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here, asking about the normal sort of grab-bag of subjects that the Sunday Times normally choose when the news agenda hasn’t been eaten by a single topic like the riots!

There is very little support for putting British troops on the ground in Libya, even post-Gaddafi. Only 22% would support troops being deployed to help the new regime. Neither is there much support for any intervention in Syria – only 21% of people would support a Libya-style intervention in Syria.

On taxation, YouGov asked about various tax cuts (and in one case, tax increase) that have been mooted. The most popular proposals were cutting VAT and fuel duty, both supported by 86%. A married couples tax allowance was supported by 66% of respondents. Abolishing the 50% rate was only supported by 23% of people, with 59% opposed. The Lib Dem idea of a “mansion tax” was supported by 63% of people.

On petrol prices, YouGov asked whether people thought the oil companies themselves were taking advantage of the public with high prices – 52% of people thought they were, 36% thought the fault lay with world oil prices and the government’s taxes.

The recent deal with Switzerland on taxing private bank accounts was seen as a good deal for Britain by almost two-thirds of people (65%), with 11% thinking it was a bad deal. 40% of people thought it was acceptable for British people with Swiss bank accounts to still remain anonymous, 45% thought it was not acceptable.

In the benefit questions, people are evenly split on whether cuts to benefits are too large (28%), about right (26%) or not large enough (27%). On the specific policy of capping housing benefit, 75% supported it “even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high” (broadly comparable to when YouGov asked a similarly worded question last November for Channel 4). 56% of people think that EU citizens should not be allowed to claim benefits in other countries, 30% think they should.

Finally on planning, people are evenly split over whether current planning laws are too relaxed or too restrictive – 23% think it is too easy to build, 20% too difficult, 33% that it is about right. On the principles of the government’s proposals to simplify central planning rules, give more power to councils and have a presumption in favour of development, 54% support and 21% are opposed. However, asked about the National Trust’s criticisms of the proposals, 44% back the NT and think the change will pose a risk to the countryside, compared to 25% who think the NT are exaggerating.

This is broadly what I would expect on a subject where most people will have little or no detailled knowledge – neutral options on the status quo, a broadly positive reaction to things that sound good on the surface like simplifying and devolving power, but when faced with opposing claims from the government and a charity, people are going to tend to back the charity over the politicians.

Tonight’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll has topline voting intention figures of CON 38%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%. This is the smallest Labour lead YouGov have shown since the start of June, but I’ll add my normal caveat about any poll showing a significant change – it may be meaningful, or may be an outlier. Wait and see if it is sustained in future polls.

Full report tomorrow when the tables are published.

The monthly Ipsos MORI political monitor for Reuters has been published. Topline figures are CON 34%(+2), LAB 40%(+1), LDEM 15%(+4). All the main parties are up, and other parties sharply down, but this will be largely a reversion to the mean after a rather odd MORI poll with a unusual sample last month. The Lib Dems are up to 15% – whereas we expect high Lib Dems from ICM, this is unusual for MORI, who for the last five months have had them between 9% and 11%. I’ll add my usual caveat about any unusual shifts in the polls – it may be the sign of something, or may just be a blip. Wait and see if it is reflected in other polling. Full tabs are here.

Incidentally, given I’m normally so ready to be rude about poor newspaper reporting of polls, I should give credit where it is due to the measured and reasonable reporting of the poll by Reuters, which correctly says that the figures are broadly unchanged and that it is too early to say whether the Lib Dem increase indicates a sustained shift in attitude. Entirely correct!

The YouGov/Sun daily polling results yesterday are here. Topline results are CON 36%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%. On Libya, the proportion of people thinking the intervention is going well has crept further up: 54% think it is going well, 25% badly. However, suport for the intervention has returned to being pretty evenly split – 39% think it is right, 40% think it is wrong.