Populus’s twice weekly poll earlier today had topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 7%. Unlike the YouGov polls since Ed Miliband’s conference speech Populus has not shown any sort of boost for the Labour party. The poll was conducted over the weekend, so would have partially got the start of the the Tory conference and their marriage tax announcement… but in past years when there is any sort of conference boost it has tended to show up after the leaders’ speeches.

Still to come tonight we have the monthly ComRes poll for the Indy, then either tonight or tomorrow morning the daily YouGov poll for the Sun. Let’s see if they give us any consistent picture of whether Labour have retained a conference boost or not.

UPDATE: The monthly ComRes poll for the Independent has topline voting intention figures of CON 33%(+2), LAB 37%(nc), LDEM 11%(-1), UKIP 11%(+1). Changes are from a month ago, and full tabs are here. As with Populus, no sign of any Labour conference boost.


YouGov’s weekly results for the Sunday Times are out here and show Labour continuing to enjoy a boost from their conference. Topline voting intention figures are CON 31%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, the first double-digit Labour lead this month. Ed Miliband’s own ratings are also up – 30% now think he is doing a good job as Labour lead, up from 22% last week. In YouGov’s polls at least there appears to be a real change from Labour’s conference – what remains to be seen is whether it lasts, or is rapidly cancelled out by the Conservative conference next week.

For now though let’s look at the post-Labour party conference polling. 50% think it is true to say that Miliband has moved his party to the left, but they are divided over whether this is a good or bad thing – 23% see it as a positive, 27% see it as a negative. More empirically (since people aren’t very good at comparing their views now to their views in the past), YouGov asked people to place the parties on a left-right scale, from very left wing to very right wing. 34% now see Labour as very or fairly left wing, up from 26% last year and the highest since YouGov started asking this question back in 2006 (under Blair and Brown it tended to be around 20%). Note however that the Conservatives are seen as very or fairly right wing by 39%, so Labour may been seen as having moved more to the left, but it does NOT mean they are seen as less centrist than the Conservatives are.

Looking at some of the specific policies Labour promised at their conference, 63% support the energy price freeze, but the most widely supported policies were actually increasing the minimum wage (71%) and increasing corporation tax for big companies and cutting rates for small firms (71%). There was majority support for seizing land from developers who don’t use it (53%) and making firms offer an apprenticeship for each immigrant they employ (52%). The only major announcement from the conference that people did not support was giving the vote to 16 year olds, opposed by 61%.

Looking more specifically at the energy promise, while people support the principle of it, there are some doubts about whether it would actually work. Asked it if would actually deliver better value and no big prices rises for ordinary people 42% think it likely would, 47% that it’s unlikely it would. While only 27% of people thought it likely there would be power cuts and shortages because of a price freeze, 58% thought it was likely that it would lead to less investment in renewable and green energy. 53% did think it would likely reduce the profits of the energy firms (while the poll made no judgements as to whether that was a positive or negative outcome, I suspect many respondents would have seen it as a plus!)

Another worry for Labour is while people support the policy announcements, there seems some doubt about whether they are actually affordable – 52% think Labour are making promises the country can’t afford, 23% disagree. To put that in context only 35% think the Conservatives are making unaffordable promises, 36% do not (though who knows what they’ll announce in the week ahead that might change that).


[This is crossposted from the Spectator Coffee House - the original is over here]

In YouGov’s poll this morning for the Sun the Conservatives had 33% support, Labour 40%, the Liberal Democrats 9% and UKIP 11%. While it would be a gross exaggeration to say all of UKIP’s support comes from the Conservative party, they do gain a disproportionate amount of support from ex-Tories and it’s natural for people to add together that Conservative 33% and that UKIP 11% and think what might be.

The reality though may not be as simple as adding the two together. In yesterday’s poll YouGov also asked people to imagine that UKIP and the Conservatives agreed a pact at the next general election where they would not stand against each other, with UKIP backing the Conservative candidate in most constituencies and the Conservatives backing the UKIP candidate in a small number of constituencies. We then asked how they’d vote under those circumstances. Once you’ve taken out the don’t knows and wouldn’t votes, the new Conservative/UKIP alliance would be on 35% of the vote (up just two points on their current support), Labour would be on 45% (up five points on their current support), the Liberal Democrats on 11% (up two points), 9% of people would vote for other parties (down eight points).

So what goes wrong, how does 33 plus 11 equal only 35?

The bottom line is that parties don’t own their voters – even if the Conservative party and UKIP were to want a pact, it wouldn’t follow that their voters would be happy to play along. Amongst people who currently vote UKIP 56% would vote for the new Conservative/UKIP Alliance, but that leaves 44% of them who wouldn’t – who would go to Labour, or stay at home, or find an alternative non-mainstream party to back. Many of the people voting UKIP are doing so because they are unhappy or disillusioned with the government or the Conservative party (or in many cases with *all* the mainstream parties). A deal between the Conservatives and UKIP is not necessarily going to make them any less unhappy or disillusioned, many would just find a different way of expressing it at the ballot box.

Meanwhile a quarter of current Tory supporters wouldn’t vote Tory if they entered a pact with UKIP – 5% would switch to Labour, 4% to the Lib Dems, 16% would stay at home or are not sure what they’d do. A deal with UKIP might get many UKIP voters back on board, but it would lose voters in the centre to Labour and the Liberals. Equally the Conservative core selling point at the moment is the claim they are the safe pair of hands, the party willing to make the tough and hard-headed decisions needed to get the economy back on solid ground. UKIP’s well documented teething-troubles with amateurism, gaffes and somewhat eccentric people who have attached themselves to the party during its rapid growth may not be exactly complementary to that message.

But if parties don’t own their voters, can’t buy and sell them in electoral pacts, that also means the Conservative party can target UKIP’s voters without necessarily needing to deal with UKIP – although once again, the difficulty is doing so without alienating more centrist voters. The overwhelming majority of current UKIP voters say they would be more likely to vote Conservative if they promised harsher policies on immigration… but that would risk the Conservative party losing more moderate votes and playing to negative perceptions that it was bigoted or racist. However, 57% of UKIP voters say they will be more likely to vote Conservative if the economy improves, 40% if they thought it was the only way of stopping Ed Miliband being Prime Minister. There are ways the Conservatives can appeal to UKIP voters without necessarily apeing their policies.


Populus’s latest twice-weekly poll is out, and has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 9%. Full tabs here. Meanwhile YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun this morning has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11% (tabs here.

YouGov’s seven point Labour lead is down from the nine points in yesterday’s poll but still suggests some degree of conference boost. Populus meanwhile doesn’t show any conference improvement for Labour at all. Funnily enough we saw the same pattern last week – YouGov showed the polls briefly narrowing after the Lib Dem conference, Populus didn’t. It could be some subtle methodological difference, or could be a co-incidence. Better not to worry too much about it during conference season, just enjoy the ride and see where the polls end up once all three have faded from the news.


The Sun have tweeted tonight’s YouGov voting intention figures – toplines are CON 32%, LAB 41%, LD 8%, UKIP 11%. The Labour lead is up to nine points, the biggest for three weeks or so, and suggests a positive reaction to the conference announcements.

Usual caveats for any poll showing interesting movements apply, especially for the sometimes up and down polls of conference season (some years it doesn’t have much effect on polls, some years they are up and down like a rollercoaster after each conference). Last week we had a narrowing of the Labour lead following the Lib Dem conference, this week a boost in the Labour lead following their conference. Next up we have the Conservative conference – will the Labour conference boost be sustained so they end up the net beneficiaries of conference season? Or will it fade away again once the immediate publicity passes? Or indeed will the Conservatives get their own conference boost next week?