Over on the YouGov website I’ve an article about what people recall from the Conservative and Labour manifestos. One of the reasons manifestos don’t usually matter is, put simply, that most people don’t read them. The reason policies don’t really matter is that most people are largely unaware of them. The way to judge a manifesto is not whether people approve of the policies in them, but whether people approve of the policies that they actually noticed.

At the start of the week YouGov asked people an open ended question, asking without any prompting if they could remember any of the promises that Labour or the Conservatives had made in their election manifestos

For Labour there were clear cut throughs by positive policies: 32% of people recalled the promise to axe tuition fees, 21% remembered promises to increase NHS funding, 20% recalled promises to nationalise the railways, Royal Mail or National Grid. All of these are policies which polling has found the public generally support, and which are relatively clear and easy to understand.

For the Conservative party only one policy was recalled by more than one in five people – the changes to care funding (which was often described as dementia tax, or taking old peoples homes, or similarly negative terms). In contrast to the simple and popular policies that people recalled from Labour, the one cut-through policy from the Tory manifesto was both unpopular and complicated. The next most recalled policies were going ahead with Brexit (recalled by 12%) and means-testing the Winter Fuel Allowance (10%).

Of course even when people do recall policies, that’s not really what they vote on – voting behaviour is much more about the broad perceptions of the parties, what they stand for, their leaders and their perceived competence. There are clear signs that the poor Conservative manifesto launch fed through into that.

Before the manifesto launches 35% of people thought the Conservative party’s policies seemed well thought-through, 38% did not. A week later only 19% think their policies are well thought-through, 54% do not. Contrast this with the positive impact of Labour’s manifesto. Before their launch only 25% of people thought they had well-thought through policies, now 31% of people do.

When a key plank of the Conservative party’s offering to the country has been the claim that they are the strong and steady party of competence, the drop in the proportion of people thinking they’ve well thought-through policies for the country should be worrying for them.

Full tabs are here.


YouGov Welsh poll

The latest YouGov Welsh poll for ITV Wales and Cardiff University has topline figures of CON 34%(-7), LAB 44%(+9), LDEM 6%(-1), Plaid 9%(-2), UKIP 5%(+1). Changes are from a fortnight ago. Full tabs are here.

The polls in Wales in the election campaign have been a roller coaster, perhaps exaggerated a little by timing – the first was at the very start of the campaign when there was that burst of Tory enthusiasm that produced twenty-plus point leads in Britain and a ten point Tory lead in Wales. This most recent one was conducted straight after the Conservative manifesto launch, when they were reeling from the badly received policy on social care, and has Labour back to a solid lead. Labour now have a ten point lead, essentially the same as they got at the 2015 general election in Wales.


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There have been two new polls out today – both show a sharp reduction in the Tory lead.

The weekly ICM poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 47%(-1), LAB 33%(+5), LDEM 9%(-1), UKIP 4%(-2), GRN 2%(-1). The Conservative party’s support drops only a little, but Labour jump up five to 33% (their highest since June 2016 according to Martin Boon). The fourteen point lead is larger than most other polls – this is for methodological reasons (ICM’s demographic based turnout model gives a large boost to the Conservative party, otherwise it too would likely have been producing a single-digit lead). Note that ICM have also tweaked their method slightly to hide the option of UKIP for respondents in seats where UKIP aren’t standing, though this will likely have only a small effect. Full tabs are here.

Meanwhile a Survation poll for Good Morning Britain has topline figures of CON 43%(-5), LAB 34%(+5), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 4%(nc). Changes are from the previous Survation telephone poll a week ago, rather than their online poll at the weekend. Full tabs are here.

Fieldwork for both polls was over the weekend, after the Conservative manifesto launch. While there was already a general movement towards Labour before the manifestos, the post-manifesto polls suggest a further and sharper movement since then. I wrote a while back about how manifestos rarely have much impact in general elections – while it’s impossible to prove a causal link, the timing certainly suggests this is an exception! Perhaps it’s because when elections are five years in the making most policies have already been announced and focus-grouped into things that won’t scare the horses. Or perhaps just because manifesto launches rarely go as wrong as the Conservative party’s appears to have.

Whatever the reason, the question now is whether this is a temporary narrowing that will reverse when (or if) the focus of attention moves onto other subjects, or whether we are heading for a somewhat tighter race than many people expected.


YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline voting intention figures of CON 44%(-1), LAB 35%(+3), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 3%(-3). Changes are from the YouGov/Times polls in the week. The fieldwork was, as usual, conducted on Thursday afternoon and Friday, so was wholly after the Conservative manifesto launch (though, of course, before much of the media reporting and discussion of it)

The nine point Tory lead is the lowest we’ve seen so far this campaign, the first in single figures. As ever, one should be cautious of unusual polls and wait to see if the trend is backed up by other polls before getting either too excited or too panicked (depending upon one’s point of view!). Perhaps it could be that the Conservative manifesto and the coverage of the changes to care funding has knocked their support. Perhaps it’s just a continuation of the gradual narrowing of the Tory lead that we have been seeing anyway over recent weeks. Perhaps it’s just a bit of a outlier, and the next round of polls will go back to showing a larger Tory lead. Time will tell.

There is also supposedly a Survation poll in the Mail on Sunday. No idea yet if that was after the manifesto launches and whether or not it will show a similar tightening.

UPDATE: No figures from the Survation poll yet, but according to the front page of the Mail on Sunday it was done after the manifesto launch and shows a Tory lead of 12 points.

UPDATE 2: The Survation figures are CON 46%, LAB 34%, LD 8%, UKIP 3%. Tabs are here. Changes are complicated – Survation’s previous poll had an 18 point lead, but that was conducted by telephone for Good Morning Britain, while this one is online. Survation’s last online poll using a comparable method was, I think, back in April, and had only an 11 point lead for the Tories.


We normally have several polls on a Saturday night in the election campaign – this week is no different. We definitely have polls from ORB for the Telegraph, Opinium, and YouGov in the Sunday Times, plus whatever else comes along in the Sunday papers.

ORB for the Telegraph has topline figures of CON 46%(nc), LAB 34%(+3), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 7%(+1). The trend of a gradually narrowing Conservative lead continues, with Labour creeping up above their 2015 share of the vote. Fieldwork was on Wednesday and Thursday, so this will have been mostly conducted prior to the launch of the Conservative manifesto.

Opinium has topline figures of CON 46%(-1), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 5%(nc). The same trend is present – a gradual narrowing of the Conservative lead, though a twelve or thirteen point lead would still give them a very solid majority. Fieldwork for Opinium was on Tuesday and Wednesday, so wholly before the Tory manifesto.

I’ll update later with the YouGov/Sunday Times poll later…