Tomorrow’s Times has the start of their annual big conference poll. Topline voting intention figures are CON 34%(nc), LAB 38%(-1), LDEM 12%(+1), Others 16%. Changes are from Populus’s July poll, there was no poll in August.

The paper tomorrow has the first slice of data from Populus’s annual pre-conference poll, which normally gives a good overview of party image. The Times is focusing on a rather cutting finding for Ed Miliband – 63% of people agree that it is difficult to imagine Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, including 49% of current Labour voters. The Populus conference poll normally has some good regular questions in (not least a good bank of party image questions) which I’ll post on later when the tables arrive.

Meanwhile tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 43%, LDEM 10%. That’s the highest YouGov Labour lead for several weeks, back into the 7-9 range as opposed to the 1-6 range we’ve seen of late. I’ll offer my usual warning not to read too much into a poll showing a change in support until it’s backed up by other polling though, chances are it will turn out to be a blip.

For those who missed them earlier tonight, my post on the effects on the provisional boundary changes is here.


I’ve now had chance to plug the English Boundary Commission’s provisional recommendations into Excel and calculate some proper notional results for the proposed seats. My projection is that the provisional English boundaries would reduce the number of Conservative seats by 5, the number of Liberal Democrat seats by 7 and the number of Labour seats by 18. On the new boundaries, the Greens would not have won a seat in Brighton (but see the caveats below).

Labour do worst in London, the West Midlands and Yorkshire, where they would have won 5 fewer, 4 fewer and 3 fewer seats respectively. The Liberal Democrats would have won 2 fewer seats in the South West and the North West, and one seat less in the South East, London and the North East. The Conservatives only do really badly in the North West.



Clearly the Conservatives have come out the best, which is to be expected (boundary changes always favour the Conservatives, because of the general population movements in the UK – population in Labour voting areas like Northern cities is falling relative to Tory suburbs), Labour lose the most numerically, the Liberal Democrats lose the most as a proportion of their seats (though, again, see the caveats at the bottom of this piece)

As I’ve said before, the notional change in seat numbers doesn’t tell the whole story. We’ll get a better understanding when we get chance to look at the changing patterns of marginals – are there more or less winnable marginals for each party on particular swings, do the swings needed for each party to win change to any significant degree? We won’t have full answers to that until we have the Scottish and Welsh boundaries, but I’ll try to have a stab in the coming days.

I’ll also put up some more detailled analysis of regions, which seats are shifting hands and which MPs are losing seats in coming days. It’s taken time because of the extent of change – in many places the pattern of seats in a county has changed to the extent that it’s hard to say which seat is the successor to another.

For those interested in the mechanics of the projections, I’ve used a method that is basically the same as that used by Rallings & Thrasher for the “official” notional figures used by the BBC, ITN and Sky when boundaries change (see here for the detailed explanation from when I did the same calculations at the last boundary review).

There are a couple of important caveats about notional results – they are an attempt to show what would have happened if the votes cast at the last election had been counted on the new boundaries. They are NOT a prediction of what would happen in an election tomorrow on these boundaries – clearly Labour have gained support since then and the Lib Dems have lost support. Neither are they a prediction of how people would have voted in an election in May 2010 on the new boundaries, as some people would have voted differently if the tactical position in their seat was different, and parties would have campaigned differently. This is particularly important for the Liberal Democrats, notional projections can often paint too bleak a picture for them because their support and campaigning is so focused upon winnable constituencies, some of the apparently bleak areas brought into the constituency may in reality have potential for them. The same applies to the Green party in Brighton.

The final caveat is, of course, that these are only provisional recommendations. Boundaries recommendations can and do change after the consultation stage.


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Last night’s YouGov poll had topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%.

I’m still looking through the provisional recommendations of the boundary review. In the fullness of time I’ll produce some proper analysis, lists of which seats are abolished (though the changes are very extensive, and in many cases it’s difficult to say which seat is really the successor to another seat), which notionally change hands and the overall partisan effects.

The Guardian have a crude estimate up already, based on the assumption that party support is uniformly distributed within seats, which has the Conservatives losing 6, Labour 14, the Lib Dems 10. I’m aiming at getting a proper projection completed today.


The boundary review

The English Boundary Commission gave its recommendations to MPs at noon today, with an embargo for midnight. Unsurprisingly they did not remain secret for long! I am busy crunching the numbers and will hopefully post something more substantial tonight with my first reactions. In the next few days I will hopefully be able to provide full notional figures for the provisional recommendations.

Some first observations are that the Boundary Commissions has gone to extreme lengths to avoid split wards. There are cases where the BC had a choice between splitting wards, or crossing local authority boundaries (or between splitting wards or coming up with strangely shaped or unnatural seats). Their earlier statements indicated that they would only split wards in extreme circumstances, but in practice they almost entirely avoided it (looking through the recommendations so far I haven’t found any). In some cases this has resulted in some rather odd seats (the oddest I have found so far is Mersey Banks, though there is also a seat in Lancashire taking wards from four different local authorities.

The other early observations are which MPs see their seats dissappear. A lot of early comment was around Vince Cable, whose seat is apparently merged with Zac Goldsmith in the new Richmond and Twickenham seat. A closer look suggests that most of his seat actually ends up in the new Teddington and Hanworth seat, which will notionally have a 11% Lib Dem majority… so Vince has a more vulnerable majority, but is not left seatless! George Osborne’s Tatton seat is no more… but forms the core of the new Northwich seat, which has a comfy 27% majority. Just because a seat’s name disappears or is merged with another, doesn’t mean they are left without a seat! Elsewhere of course, there are 50 MPs who really are losing their seats.

Meanwhile, out today there was also a new poll of the South West from Marketing Means – tables here.


911 Ten Years On

YouGov also have some polling out for the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. In a same way that older generations say they remember where when Kennedy was assassinated, 91% of British adults say they can remember what they were doing when news of the 9/11 attacks broke. 53% of people say that the 9/11 attacks changed the world completely, 38% think it changed the world a little. Only 7% of people think the attacks did not change much or anything.

In comparison 84% of people remember where they were when Princess Diana died, 68% when the 7/7 attacks on the London Underground took place, 25% when Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister, 22% when Nelson Mandela was released from prison and 29% when the Berlin Wall fell, the oldest event asked about (on the older ones I suspect some people have false memories – under 25s were around 3 years old at most when the Berlin Wall fell, so I do rather doubt 7% actally remember were they were. Perhaps it’s people who’ve been told by their parents where they were on the day!)

YouGov also repeated some questions that were first asked for the fifth anniversary of 9/11, five years ago. Back then YouGov asked if people thought there was a “War on Terror” and if Britain and the US were winning. While the phrase “war on terror” has fallen out of use – a relic of the George W Bush years – compared to five years ago, people are more likely to think there is a war (69% think there is, compared to 63% five years ago) and slightly more optimistic about whether the West is prevailing – perhaps because of the death of Osama bin Laden, or the absence of recent major Islamic terrorist attacks on targets in the West.

In 2006 only 7% thought Britain and the USA were winning the “War on Terror”, 22% thought they were losing and 50% thought they were neither winning nor losing. Now 13% think Britain and the USA are winning (up 6), 11% losing (down 11).

There is not, however, much difference in how worried people are about the chances of terrorism affecting them as they were five years ago. 7% of people think there is a very or fairly high chance of them, a friend or relative being caught in a terrorist attack (compared to 8% in 2006), 60% think there is a low chance (compared to 59% in 2006), 25% think the chance of being the victim of a terrorist attack (unchanged).

Neither have attitudes towards British Muslims and Islam itself softened much over the last five years. While respondents overwhelmingly think that the great majority (63%) or practically all (17%) British Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding, a significant minority of respondents (15%) said they though a large proportion of British Muslims would be prepared to condone acts of terrorism, down from 18% five years ago. The religion of Islam itself is still seen as a threat to western Liberal democracy by 51% of people, barely down from 53% in 2006. 37% think Islam poses little or no threat to the West.