ComRes’s monthly online poll for the Independent on Sunday is out today and has topline figures of CON 42%(nc), LAB 29%(-1), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 13%(nc), GRN 3%(nc). There is no significant change in support since last month. For those intrigued by the big difference between pollsters (ICM had only a four point Conservative lead, compared to thirteen points here), remember that polling methods are in a state of flux, with all the companies looking at their methods following the failures in May. Different companies have overhauled their methods to different extents, and even those who have made changes have said they may yet make more. ComRes have introduced a new turnout model based mostly on socio-economic factors like age and social class, and this is why they are producing larger Conservative leads than other polls. Tabs are here.

On other matters, I’ve finally started to update the swingometers on the site. The new version of the simple GB swingometer is now up here, now with added UKIP. Currently it just assumes a static SNP vote, as GB national polls are of so little use in measuring support for a party standing only in Scotland – the updated version of the advanced swingometer allowing for separate figures for Scotland, Wales and England will be along in due course.

The biggest political news story today is the government’s decision to allow the opening of a de facto new grammar school in Kent (it’s illegal to actually open a new grammar school, so technically it’s a second site for an existing grammar school in another town). Obviously it’s too early for there to be any polling in re-action to this, but it’s a long standing issue so there is plenty of past polling to look at.

On balance, the public tend to support the existence of current grammar schools – only around a quarter of people support the government ending selection in the remaining grammar schools and opening them to children of all abilities. In contrast, around 40% of people support allowing more selection by ability and the opening of new Grammar schools – the balance is made up of don’t knows and people who back what was the status quo of allowing the existing grammar schools to remain, but not allowing any new ones.

In May YouGov asked about the “loophole” that Nicky Morgan today approved – opening up an extension of an existing grammar school at a new campus in a different location. 51% of people approved of that idea, 18% disapproved, 30% didn’t know. So for what it’s worth, it appears to get the public’s thumbs up.

As an aside, whenever the issue of public attitudes towards grammar schools pops up on the agenda I see the same question. Polls that ask about grammar schools normally show the sort of results I’ve outlined above, and critics of grammar schools will normally counter with something along the lines of “Ah, but you only asked about grammar schools, if you’d asked do you want to bring back grammar schools for those who pass the test… and secondary moderns for those who don’t, then you would have got a different answer”.

That’s a reasonable point. So we tested it.

Back in February YouGov asked a question to two different samples. Half were asked if they’d like to bring back grammar schools across the whole of Great Britain – 53% said yes, 20% said no. The other half were asked if they’d like to bring back the system of an exam at 11, with 25% of children who passed going to grammar schools and the other 75% going to secondary moderns. Now 46% of people supported it, 34% of people were opposed.

People are, at first glance, pretty supportive of grammar schools. That support is undermined a little when people consider the other side of the coin – the majority of children who do not pass the exam – but grammar schools still have more supporters than detractors.


There is a new YouGov Scottish poll in this morning’s Times. Topline Holyrood voting intentions are pretty much unchanged from YouGov’s last Scottish poll a month ago, just before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader. Constituency vote stands are CON 19%(+1), LAB 21%(-1), LDEM 5%(+1), SNP 51%(nc), regional vote stands at CON 19%(+1), LAB 20%(nc), LDEM 5%(+1), SNP 45%(nc), GRN 6%(nc). There is no obvious Corbyn effect, positive or negative.

Voting intention in another referendum on Scottish independence is also unchanged from last month, still at YES 48%, NO 52%.

The poll also asked about people’s attitudes towards income tax in Scotland and at what level it should be set once the Scottish government is given greater powers over taxation. There was relatively little support for a cut in income tax in Scotland – 60% opposed a tax cut funded by cuts to benefits or tax credits, 74% opposed a tax cut funded by cuts to money spent on public services. Attitudes towards an increase in Scottish income tax were more mixed, 57% would be opposed to increasing income tax to spend on benefits or tax credits, but 52% would support increasing income tax to improve Scotland’s public services. Full tabs for the Scottish poll are here.

The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian is out today and has topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 3%. The four point Conservative lead is the smallest since the election – while Jeremy Corbyn maybe getting some mediocre personal poll ratings, it does not yet appear to be doing Labour’s voting intention figures any harm. Full tabs are here.

We’ve had two “new” polls on EU membership this week (the inverted commas are there becuase while the ICM poll out today has fresh fieldwork, the ComRes poll earlier in the week was actually done at the end of September). ICM’s latest figures have REMAIN on 44%, LEAVE on 39% (tabs). ComRes meanwhile had REMAIN on 55%, LEAVE on 36% – a far more solid lead for those wishing to stay in the EU (tabs)

There is obviously sizeable gulf in the figures different polling companies are reporting on the EU referendum. ComRes have done several polls on the EU referendum since the election and have consistently shown REMAIN with a strong lead, in contrast two YouGov polls last month both showed LEAVE with a small lead (though they had been showing a modest lead for stay earlier in the year). ICM have been conducting a weekly tracker on EU voting intention, and their figures tend to show a modest lead for those who want to stay.

Polling methodology is in a period of flux as pollsters reassess their approaches in the light of what went wrong at the general election, but I don’t think that explains the difference here. ComRes have indeed adopted a new turnout model based on socio-economic factors… but the nineteen point lead is without that extra turnout weighting, it would be even bigger with it. It could be a online vs telephone difference – YouGov and the regular ICM tracker are both conducted online, the ComRes polls by telephone – but that’s hardly enough evidence to be confident, there will be many other differences in methodology.

While we can’t really tell why there is a difference, we can say where the difference is: Conservative voters. All three pollsters have Labour voters splitting strongly in favour of staying, albeit with some difference in quite how strongly (ICM had 55% of Labour voters backing REMAIN, YouGov had 58%, ComRes 73%). The contrast among Tory voters was larger, ComRes has Tory voters wanting to stay, ICM has them broadly split, YouGov has them favouring exit: in the most recent polls YouGov had only 33% of current Tory voters wanting to stay, ICM had 42% of 2015 Tory voters, ComRes had 56% backing remaining. In practice, of course, how they Tory vote ends up splitting will depend to a significant extent on the leadership David Cameron gives in the referendum and which senior Tory figures come out in favour of leaving – there’s a long way to go yet.