If I could teach people one thing about public opinion it would be how little most of the political soap-opera actually matters. Lots of the stories that obsess the Westminster media hardly break through to the public at all. Those people who do notice it tend to be the most political, meaning they view stories and scandals through the prism of their pre-existing political support. They believe accusations against politicians from opposing parties and think their misdeeds are awful, but doubt accusations about their own party and give their own party’s politicians the benefit of the doubt. The result is that most political stories don’t actually have that much impact on political support.

The row over Jeremy Corbyn and whether or not he laid a wreath to commemmorate people connected to the Munich Olympic Massacre is a classic example of this. It has been the main political story for the last four days, yet YouGov polling today suggests it will have little impact. Only 6% of people say they are following the story closely, 20% fairly closely. Over half of the public say they aren’t following the story at all all (27%) or are completely unaware of it (26%).

Amongst the three-quarters of respondents who were at least aware of the story people think, by 44% to 21%, that Corbyn has not given an honest account of his attendence, and by 44% to 25% people think he probably did take part in a wreath laying ceremony for some of those responsible for organising the Munich Olympic massacre. However, this does not necessarily mean it has actually damaged Labour, as most of those who have reacted negatively to Corbyn are people who were opposed to him to begin with; most Labour supporters have given him the benefit of the doubt.

Overall, 16% of those who were aware of the story (that’s 16% of 74%, so about 12%) say it has made them think worse of Corbyn, but 68% say it has made no difference (21% because they had a good impression of Corbyn and still do, 47% because they had a negative impression of Corbyn and still do). Even that 16% is mostly made up of Conservative and Lib Dem supporters, who presumably were not Corbyn admirers to begin with. So while this affair may entrench existing negative views of Corbyn among those who already held them, it seems unlikely to do much to reduce his support. Full tabs for the YouGov polling are here.

Meanwhile there are two new voting intention polls from the last couple of days (note they were both conducted mostly or wholly before the wreath controversy).

BMG for the Independent have topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5% (tabs here)
NumberCruncherPolitics have topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 40%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 5% (tabs here.


Two new voting intention polls out today, one from ICM in the Guardian and one from YouGov in the Times.

Topline figures from ICM are CON 39%(-1), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 6%(+1). Fieldwork was Friday to Sunday, and changes are from a fortnight ago. Clearly there is no significant change from the previous poll, and Labour and the Conservatives remain extremely close. Tabs for the ICM poll are here.

YouGov meanwhile have topline figures of CON 39%(+1), LAB 35%(-3), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 7%(+1). Fieldwork was a little more recent, between Wednesday and Thursday, and changes are from last week. The 35% figure for Labour here is their lowest since the general election. The usual caveats apply – it’s a single poll, so while that could be an indication that the ongoing Labour infighting over antisemitism has knocked their support, it could also just be normal sample variation. Wait to see if other polls show a similar drop before getting too excited. On best Prime Minister May leads Corbyn by 36%(+4) to 22%(-3), with 39% of people saying not sure. YouGov’s regular Brexit tracker found 42% saying Britain was right to vote to Leave, 45% saying it was wrong.


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A quick update on recent voting intention polls. When I last updated in mid-July, there was a clear trend towards Labour across the polling companies, with YouGov, Opinium, Deltapoll all showing the Conservatives dropping backing significantly in the wake of the Johnson & Davis resignations (whether one attributes that to the Chequers agreement or the resignations it is impossible to say from the evidence given they were so close together. My guess is that it is a combination of the two).

The later polling towards the end of July suggested that movement had flattened out a bit – the last four published polls are below:

YouGov/Times (20th Jul) – CON 38%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 6%
ICM/Guardian (22nd Jul) – CON 40%, LAB 41%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 5%
YouGov/Times (23rd Jul) – CON 38%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 6%
Ipsos MORI/Standard (24th Jul) – CON 38%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 6%

As you can see, two had Labour a point ahead, the later two had the parties neck-and-neck again. That clear Labour lead we breifly saw appears to have quickly faded again once the media was no longer focusing on Chequers & the resignations. That’s not to say there is no lasting impact at all. Back in May and June polls were showing a consistent Tory lead – that has gone; UKIP appeared dead in the water, but in these latest polls they are still up at 5% or 6%. Finally, and least noticed, polls showing the Lib Dems breaching double figures are increasingly common. There were five of them in July, compared to just one in June and just one in May.