There were two new voting intention polls yesterday, plus ICM’s fortnightly poll this morning. Topline figures are

ICM/Guardian (22nd-24th): CON 40%(-2), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 8%(+1)
Survation/Mail on Sunday (22nd): CON 38%(nc), LAB 42%(-1), LDEM 8%(+1) (tabs)
Opinium (19th-22nd): CON 42%(+1), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 6%(+1) (tabs)

Changes are from a fortnight ago for ICM, last week for Opinium and the start of September for Survation.

One Conservative lead, two Labour leads and no consistent trend in either direction. Survation and ICM were both conducted after Theresa May’s Florence speech, so give us the first chance to gauge reactions to it. Survation asked about whether people supported or opposed paying £20bn to the EU during a transition period when Britain had access to the single market – 34% of people said they would support it, 47% said they would be opposed. ICM asked a similar question, but found 41% of people supported the idea and 31% were opposed – the ICM tables aren’t available yet, so I don’t know what the particularl wording was and whether it might explain the difference.


Yesterday I got a few questions about a new BMG poll in the Independent that had voting intentions in a hypothetical EU referendum tomorrow at 52% remain, 48% leave. The Indy wrote this up with a pretty hyperbolic “Majority want to stay!!!”. The full results – along with a fair more reasonable and caveated write-up by BMG themselves – are here.

So, what is the bigger picture in terms of attitudes to Brexit, and is there any sign of people changing their minds?

I should start by pointing out that how people would vote in a hypothetical referendum tomorrow is not necessarily the same question as what people think should happen now (perhaps surprisingly!). If you ask people what should happen now, a clear majority say Britain should leave the EU. If you ask people how they’d vote in a referendum now, they are split down the middle between Remain and Leave. The difference appears to be because there is a chunk of people who personally favour remain, but think the government has a duty to leave following the referendum. Neither of these is necessarily a “better” measure of public opinion, opinion is best understood by looking at both: that is, the public are split equally on what they’d prefer, but some remainers think that the referendum means Brexit should go ahead anyway.

If we do look specifically at how people would vote in a referendum tomorrow, there is comparatively little change since 2016. Most Remain voters would still vote Remain, most Leave voters would still vote Leave. People who did not vote at all in 2016 tend to split in favour of Remain, meaning that the overall figure tends to be around a 50-50 split. Polls, of course, typically have a margin of error of around 2 or 3 points. This means if the actual position is a 50-50 split, then normal sample variation will inevitably spit out some results that are 52-48, or 48-52, or whatever. This is the unavoidable result of normal statistical variance, however, it does mean that now and again there will be a poll showing Remain with a small lead, which pro-Remain sorts will get wrongly overexcited about.

In terms of a trend, my impression is that there is some small degree of movement against Brexit… but it is very small. It is hard to discern a trend from questions asking the referendum question because they are infrequent, different companies use different methods and there may be different “house effects”. BMG have probably asked it more regularly than any other company, and looking at just their figures (in the link above) there is a slight trend towards Remain.

YouGov regularly ask a question about whether Britain was right or wrong to vote to Leave the EU (below), which also shows a very tight race, but a slight trend towards Remain. Last year it tended to show slightly more people thought it was the right decision than the wrong decision, now it tends to hover around neck-and-neck.

In summary, there hasn’t been any vast sea-change in attitudes towards Brexit. Most people who voted Remain would do so again, most people who voted Leave would do so again. There is some movement back and forth, but it mostly cancels itself out. If you look at the two most frequently repeated questions, the BMG question on referendum VI and the YouGov question on whether the decision was right or wrong, then there does appear to be movement towards Remain… but it is as yet pretty small and pretty slow. In short, there are some “bregrets”, but not enough to really get excited about. If there is going to be a big change, I still wouldn’t expect to see it until the leaving deal (and the consequences of it) become a bit clearer.


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Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor has topline figures of CON 40%(-1), LAB 44%(+2), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 2%(-1). Fieldwork was over the weekend and changes are from July.

Leader satisfaction ratings are May minus 17, Corbyn minus 3 and Cable minus 1. While Vince Cable has the least negative net rating, this is because he has far higher don’t knows than the other two leaders (39% compared to 10%) rather than any great surge of “pro-Vince” feeling. MORI also asked some more detailed questions about perceptions of the leaders’ qualities, underlining the collapse in perceptions of May’s and the rehabilitation of Jeremy Corbyn since last year. In September 2016 Theresa May had better ratings on almost everything (the sole exception was being marginally more likely to be seen as more style than substance). Now there are obvious areas where the two leaders outshine each other – May is still more likely to be seen as a capable leader, good in a crisis (though her leads are vastly reduced – in 2016 she beat Corbyn by 44 points on being a capable leader, now it’s only 7 points), but Corbyn now has strong leads on personality and honesty, and is much less likely to be seen as out of touch.

MORI also repeated their regular question comparing the popularity of leaders and their parties – do respondents like the leader and party, the leader but not their party, the party but not its leader, or neither of them? 46% of people said they liked Jeremy Corbyn (up 9 since last year), putting him eight points behind Labour on 54% (up 8) – that means both Corbyn and Labour have become more popular, but Corbyn continues to be less popular than his party. Compare this with the Conservatives: a year ago Theresa May vastly outshone her party, by 60% to 38%. That gap has now vanished – the Conservative party is still only liked by 38%, but Theresa May is now on the same figure, down by 22 points (At the risk of pointing out the obvious, note how much stronger the Labour brand remains than the Conservative party – while they may not vote for them, most people have a broadly positive perception of the Labour party, far more than can be said for the Tories). Full tabs are here

There was also a poll by Opinium at the weekend, which had movement in the opposition direction. Their topline figures were CON 41%(+1), LAB 41%(-2), LDEM 5%(-1), UKIP 5%(+1). Looking at the broader picture, the polls still appear to be clustered around a very small lead for the Labour party. Tabs for Opinium are here.


I’ve got an article over on the YouGov website about the difficulty on polling on the Brexit financial settlement (or “Brexit divorce bill” as the more Eurosceptic elements of the press tend to call it). Brexit is obviously a very complicated issue – the Brexit deal will almost inevitably dominate the next year of British politics, yet the complexities of it mean it’s very hard to ask about until there’s actually a deal on the table.

The financial settlement between Britain and the EU should, on the face of it, be one of the more simple issues. On the face of it you might expect it to be fairly simple to ask people what sort of financial settlement the public would think was reasonable and what sort of settlement would have the public thinking Theresa May has struck a poor deal. In fact such questions give us a very poor guide, simply because most people are not particularly good at comprehending very large numbers.

If you ask a question about what a reasonable price is for, for example, a pair of shoes, it should work very well. Everyone knows roughly what shoes cost, and know the value of £10 or £30 or £100. The same does not apply for government spending – £50 billion is an unfathomably large amount of money… but then, so is £20 billion, or £10 billion or £5 billion. Most of us don’t really have any good yardstick for judging just how big or small these huge numbers are, nor whether they are a good or bad deal for Britain.

Nevertheless, if you ask people about a financial settlement people will still express opinions. Back in August there was an ICM/Guardian poll that found 41% of people though a £10bn settlement would be acceptable, up from just 15% in April. This seemed like a startling rise, but as both ICM and the Guardian cautioned, it could just be the way the question was worded. In April ICM first asked about the lower figure of £3bn, but in August £10bn was the lowest they offered.

This seemed like a more plausible explanation to me, but just to be sure we tested it at YouGov. We used a split sample – one half of the respondents got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £5bn, £10bn and £20bn. The other half of the sample got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £25bn, £50bn and £75bn.

On the first bank of questions 38% thought £5bn would be acceptable, 18% thought £10bn would be acceptable, 11% thought that £20bn would be acceptable. Looking at the other half of the sample, 29% thought that £25bn was acceptable, 9% thought that £50bn was acceptable, 6% thought that £75bn would be acceptable (full tabs are here.)

Taken as a whole we get the the rather perverse finding that while support generally falls as the size of the settlement increases, £25 billion is far more acceptable to the public than £20 billion. This is nonsense of course, and the reason is simple enough – people take their cues from the question itself. In the first half of the sample, £5bn was the lowest amount asked about, £20bn the largest amount, and many respondents presumably took this as an implication that £5bn was a low settlement, £20bn a high one. For the second half of the sample £25bn was the lowest figure asked about, so many respondents presumably took the implication that this was a low settlement. Whether people said a sum was acceptable or not was less about the actual number, more about whether the question implied that it was a low or high figure.

The point is that questions about what level of “divorce bill” will be acceptable to the public don’t really tell us much. People don’t have any good way of telling what is a good or bad deal and are really just expressing their unsurprising preference for a smaller settlement. When (or if) Britain and the EU do finally agree on a sum, it won’t be so much the particular figure that determines whether the public see it as a victory or a sell-out, but whether the media and political class present it to them as a good or bad deal.

Meanwhile, lastest GB voting intention figures this week are below – both show the parties pretty much neck-and-neck, neither show any obvious movement:
YouGov/Times (12th-13th Sept) – CON 41%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 3%(-1) (tabs)
ICM/Guardian (8th-10th Sept) – CON 42%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 4%(+1) (tabs)


The Sunday Times at the weekend had a Panelbase poll of Scotland, their first since the general election. It doesn’t look like Westminster voting intention was asked, but they have figures for Holyrood constituency vote intention, I think the first figures we’ve had from anyone since way back in March (and the first from Panelbase since the Holyrood election in 2016). Topline figures there are SNP 42%(-5), CON 28%(+6), LAB 22%(-1), LDEM 6%(-2). These changes are from the 2016 election. The SNP continue to have a solid lead, but it’s no longer those 20 or 30 point leads we used to see back in 2016.

On Independence the topline figures were YES 40%(-1), NO 53%(nc), Don’t know 6%(nc). Changes are since June, and obviously don’t suggest any meaningful change. NO seem to have consolidated a double digit lead, not the sort of lead that couldn’t be overturned in a referendum campaign, but not the sort of lead I’d imagine would encourage Nicola Sturgeon to push for one too early.

On that question of timing for a referendum, 17% of peple would like a referendum in the immediate future, while Britain is negotiating to leave the EU, 26% would like a referendum after Britain has finishing negotiating to leave the EU, 58% don’t want one in the “next few years”. As I’ve written before, questions like this are very vulnerable to the timebands you offer, but when you add up the pro and anti answers they tend to fall in similar proportions to support for independence – those who’d like independence tend to favour a referendum on independence sometime soonish, those who don’t want independence anyway don’t particularly want a vote on it either. Full tabs for the Panelbase poll are here.

There is also a new YouGov poll of Wales, conducted for ITV and Cardiff University, and also the first since the general election. Westminster voting intention figures stand at CON 32%(-2), LAB 50%(+1), LDEM 4%(-1), Plaid 8%(-2), UKIP 3%(+1). Labour have strengthened their position marginally from what was already a very strong position.

Voting intentions for the Welsh Assembly are:
Constituency: CON 25%, LAB 43%, LDEM 5%, Plaid 19%, UKIP 4%
Regional: CON 23%, LAB 40%, LDEM 5%, Plaid 19%, UKIP 5%
According to Roger Scully if these figures were repeated at an actual Assembly election then on a uniform swing Labour would narrowly regain their majority with 31 Assembly seats.