Two new European election polls over the last couple of days. A Populus poll for the FT shows Labour in first place, with the Conservatives and UKIP fighting for second place. Topline figures are CON 27%, LAB 31%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 25%, GRN 3%. It was conducted between the 4th-6th of April, so after the Clegg-Farage debate. Full tabs are here.

Meanwhile a new TNS-BMRB poll also has Labour in first place, but only narrowly ahead of UKIP with the Conservatives in quite a distant third. Topline figures are CON 21%, LAB 30%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 29%. Fieldwork was also post-debate, and tabs are here.

All the European election polling so far is collected here. Note that some of the variation is down to treatment of likelihood to vote. ComRes and TNS BMRB take only those people who say they are absolutely certain to vote, which helps UKIP. YouGov include all respondents and tend to show less positive figures for UKIP (but provide a crossbreak for only those certain to vote which is also very strong for UKIP). Populus weight by likelihood to vote, which is somewhere inbetween (everyone is included, but people who are unlikely to vote are weighted down).

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%. A Labour lead of four points and UKIP at 13%. UKIP are lower than yesterday, but worth noting that they’ve been averaging at around 13% since the second Clegg-Farage debate, compared to around 11% earlier in March.

YouGov also did a Maria Miller question yesterday, now obviously out of date, but which raised some interesting methodological questions. Asking a fair question is often a matter of giving the minimal amount of information necessary in order to get a response. The more information you give, the more you risk leading respondents, the more you risk essentially creating the perception of a public opinion that isn’t really out there. If pollsters ask the public a question, a fair proportion of people will answer, regardless of whether they actually have any real views at all (The classic example of this is the Public Affairs Act, which doesn’t exist, but which 18% of people are willing to express an opinion about.)

When a politician is in a scrape and pollsters ask if they should resign you normally end up prefacing the question with “Harriet Jones has been accused of killing kittens…”, when the respondent might previously have been unaware of the cat murdering rumours or of Harriet Jones. The very fact you are asking questions about Harriet Jones implies there is a fuss about her, and you can never tell what proportion of people would have said she should resign anyway, probably for the crime of being from the wrong party.

Yesterday YouGov asked about Maria Miller resigning, but in a different way. They didn’t mention expenses at all (if people had seen the story, they’ll have seen the story, if they haven’t, they haven’t) and they hid Maria Miller amongst lots of other politicians and asked, for each one, if they should resign or not. 63% of people said that Maria Miller should resign, only 9% said she should not, which is pretty unambiguous. However, 52% also think Nick Clegg should resign, 47% Michael Gove, 46% Ed Miliband, 37% George Osborne. The lowest was for Theresa May, but 30% of people still think she should resign. It seems whoever you ask about a fair chunk want them to resign, though note that in the case of Maria Miller people from all parties wanted to see the back of her, the other cases were mostly political opponents saying politicians from a party they dislike should go.

Two things to take away from this. One, the Maria Miller story was noticed. People did still think she should resign without any prompting in the question about what she was accused of. It still doesn’t imply it will have any effect on voting intention at all (people view these things through the prism of their pre-existing political support, and as I wrote yesterday, looking back it has been incredibly rare for events like this to have any measurable impact on voting intention) but it did get noticed, or her figures would have been the same as everyone else’s.

Secondly, do be careful about “should X resign” questions when you see them asked in isolation. Lots of people will say a politician from a government they are opposed to should resign anyway, regardless of the scandal de jour. Perhaps it’s worth paying special attention to the answers from supporters of the politician’s own party.


This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 14%. The three point lead for Labour is lower than usual, though nothing to get too excited about as it is well within the normal margin of error for a lead of five points or so. The 14% for UKIP is right at the top end of their their normal range. YouGov have had them at 14% a couple of times this year, but you need to go all the back to November to find them any higher.

I saw a couple of people commenting on this poll and on yesterday’s Populus poll in relation to the ongoing troubles around Maria Miller, asking about whether there would be a Miller effect, or pondering why it hadn’t damaged the Conservatives.

Obviously this is just one poll so one probably should read too much into it. More importantly though, I would not expect to see any impact at all from the Miller scandal anyway. As ever, the vast majority of the Westminster soap opera has no discernable impact upon voting intentions. The majority of people do not follow or watch Westminister events, will not be aware of who the people are or what they are supposed to have done. Those people who are interested in politics will tend to view events and scandals through the prism of their pre-existing political loyalties. For example, if a Labour politician is involved in a scandal, Labour supporters will be more likely to see it as a smear, or at worst one bad apple amongst an otherwise decent party; Conservative supporters will be more likely to see it as some major failing and characteristic of a rotten party… and vice-versa for scandals affecting Conservative politicians). I expect all these things have a drip-drip effect upon party image, but not one that is measurable or quantifiable.

A good reminder is to go back and look at the ups and downs of the polls in the last Parliament, or the Parliament before and see what has changed polls. Most of the time they trundle along larged unaffected by short-term events – leadership changes affect them, budgets sometimes do, recessions and recoveries, wars, mid-term elections, party conferences (for a week). The weekly Westminster stories of speeches, policy announcements and scandals rarely do – the main exceptions of I can think of in recent years are the expenses scandal in 2009 (but that was the whole political class, a huge event); Charles Kennedy’s resignation (but he was a party leader) and I suppose Labour’s black Wednesday in 2006 (when Charles Clarke, John Prescott and Patricia Hewitt all managed to get themselves in a mess in the same week). Perhaps Maria Miller will join that list, but I really wouldn’t count on it.

Just catching up on another Scottish poll at the weekend – Panelbase produced a new referendum poll for Wings Over Scotland. Topline figures are YES 41%(+1), NO 46%(+1), confirming the narrower lead we saw in the last Panelbase poll in mid-March. Full tabs are here.

There remains a considerable contrast between pollsters on the Scottish referendum so it’s important to compare like to like. Panelbase consistently show the narrowest leads – for much of last year they were showing leads of about 8-10 points, that’s now narrowed to five points in their last two polls. Survation and ICM are also showing single point leads. YouGov and TNS are currently show leads in the mid-teens (though TNS has far more don’t knows than other companies), MORI continue to show leads up in the twenties. A broad range of leads, but the general trend across pollsters in recent months seems to have been a slow drift towards YES. All the polls so far are collected here.

On other matters, Populus’s twice weekly poll this morning had topline voting intentions of CON 34%, LAB 37%, LD 9%, UKIP 14%. Tabs here.

The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is up here. Topline voting intentions are CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12% – a five point Labour lead, typical of the sort of leads we were seeing before that brief post-budget narrowing.

In addition to Westminster VI, YouGov also asked European voting intention again to see if there had been an impact from the Farage-Clegg debate. Last week we didn’t really see any effect. This week with the higher profile BBC debate (and the more convincing win for Farage) it appears to be a different case.

Up until now YouGov’s European polls have been showing Labour leading with the Conservatives and UKIP in a tight battle for second place. In today’s poll Labour are just two points ahead of UKIP, and UKIP have opened up a five point lead over the Conservatives in third place: CON 23%(-1), LAB 30%(-2), LDEM 9%(-2), UKIP 28%(+5).

If you took only those certain to vote the position would be even better for UKIP, putting them in first place on 34% to Labour’s 27% and the Conservatives in a distant third. Of course, that’s quite a harsh turnout filter and people are not necessarily very good at predicting turnout this far out (especially when it’s the same day as local elections) – the key point is that UKIP voters are significantly more likely to say they’ll turnout to vote in the European elections than supporters of the other three parties, which will benefit them to some extent.

While the poll suggests UKIP have benefited from the debate in terms of European election voting intention, it hasn’t moved attitudes to the EU at all (42% say they would vote to stay in, 37% to leave – almost unchanged from last week) and doesn’t seem to have had much effect on Westminster voting intentions either.