A quick post about the YouGov poll in Friday’s Times. Topline Westminster voting intention figures are CON 19%, LAB 19%, LDEM 24%, BREXIT 22%.

These are obviously startling figures, unprecedented even. There are historical examples of third parties taking the lead (Cleggmania, for example, or the early successes of the SDP-Liberal Alliance), but I don’t think there are any when the Conservatives and Labour were both pushed out of the top two.

However, even leaving aside the traditional warning that this is “just one poll”, this is one poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of the European elections. Part of what we are seeing is a boost for the Liberal Democrats and Brexit party from doing well in the Euros, getting lots of media coverage and looking like winners. Under normal circumstances we would expect that boost to fade in time (though a success for either of them at the Peterborough by-election could potentially keep it going).

Realistically though, we’ve got several weeks of coverage of the Conservative leadership election ahead of us, followed by the media circus around the elevation of a new Prime Minister. The media agenda will move back towards Labour and the Conservatives, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t seem one or other of them move back into the lead.

Nevertheless, it’s a remarkable poll, and like the election results last week, again brings home the extent to which Brexit is tearing apart the party identities, loyalties and assumptions that have traditionally underpinned our electoral politics. Our party system really does seem to be straining under the pressure. I don’t expect it to break just yet, but looking ahead we still have Brexit itself to deliver (or not, as the case may be). There is almost certainly plenty more political instability to come.

1,623 Responses to “YouGov/Times – CON 19, LAB 19, LD 24, BREX 22”

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  1. Colin,
    “What I want is to hear opinions which some may consider daft, responded to by the candidate being questioned. I want to hear if he can convince me that this opinion is in fact ill founded, by explaining why he thinks it is.”

    Except after the polemicist had used 5 minutes including talking over Stewart as he tried to answer, as you might have wished, then Montague moved on without an oportunity for him to reply. Stewart gave the impression he could have answered in considerable detail, given a lot more time. It was about why Uk farming and motor industry are stuffed, but those were examples I fancy.

    ” to now suggest that the polls are picking up *too much* anti-establishment sentiment may be risky.”

    I think the risk of bias is towards highly motivated supporters who are therefore keener to engage with surveys. So this applies to dedicated leavers as much as dedicated conservatives.

    “As far as Peterborough goes … the Con->Brex swing was about what you might expect from national polling, while the Lab->LD swing was less.”

    I don’t know what is going to happen about Brexit, the wheels are well fallen off the wagon. leavers agree with me that the deal is worse than remaining, so its a deal which cannot satisfy the hard lave supporters. What hasnt been acknowledged yet is the sort of Stuff Stewart was seeking to get across. That the Uk must have deals. Must replace the current EU deal. And in the end that will come down to the only deal on offer, which is the discredited one.

    The logic of Brexit is to break the current trade deal with the Eu and replace it with a better one, but the only deal which could be made is acknowledged as worse than membership. This penny still has not dropped in the target audience.

    It is this battle the caller was trying to fight by refusing to be silenced.

  2. @Sam


    The economics of renewable electrical energy generation demands increased energy storage as explained above. Batteries as here, pumped storage and gravity trains are amongst the technologies that are already tried and tested.

  3. Ah, it’s good to be back in Bonkers Brexit Britain after a few days in Berlin. Cue our resident swivel-eyed Brexiteers to respond with links to impeccable sources showing how Germany is now the sick man of Europe, awash with surging populist right wing parties surfing the anti-immigration wave caused by Merkel’s disastrous …..blah de blah de blah. You know how it goes. The EU is a failed project dragging its member states into servitude and economic stagnation, chained together like witless and rudderless souls on a joint voyage to disaster.

    Well, I have to disappoint these purveyors of doom by saying that I observed no symptoms of such a malaise at all, and this experience is in keeping with all the forays I’ve made into this rotting edifice of a failed European superstate over the last 20 years or so. I must have been extremely fortunate to avoid the piles of evidence that should say otherwise. Of course, Berlin is an utterly civilised, liberal, young, welcoming and effervescent city, and may be atypical in that sense, but it screams enlightenment at the visitor and it’s impossible to resist being sucked into its life-affirming charms. I fell in love with the city when I first visited it 16 years ago and have never needed an excuse to return, albeit the reason for going again last week was loosely justified by having tickets to attend the Fleetwood Mac gig at the Waldbühne arena, adjacent to the Olympic Stadium. The Mac were OK, although McVie’s and Nicks vocals weren’t what they once were, but Chrissy Hynde and the Pretenders, the support act, were brilliant. The open air natural amphitheatre venue as dusk set in was spell-binding, but the scudding and constant thundery showers less so.

    Berlin has a uniquely sad modern history too, and no visit can go by without seeing constant physical reminders of its divided past and the toll that division and dislocation took on its inhabitants. We took some time to visit the DDR Musuem on the banks of the River Speer, in the shadow of the imposing Berliner Dom in what was once East Berlin. There were quasi-comical artefacts exhibited of how the old East German regime attempted to run a totally centralised and state controlled economy, and some examples of a vaguely noble enterprise in the early days, but the lasting impression was of a paranoid police state in constant fear of its own people. We chatted to a couple who had lived in the East during Honicker and Mielche’s doleful days, and they told us about their 16 year wait for a Trabant and the constant food shortages that plagued their lives. The people going short while Honicker’s politiburo lived high on the hog in wooded and luxurious complexes in the mountains, waited on hand and foot by servants and whisked into East Berlin by Volvo limousines to preside over an utterly broken system. My abiding thought was that if you needed a a wall and constant surveillance to stop your people fleeing, then you’d created a society and system that wasn’t worth protecting. But of course, they weren’t protecting a system at all, merely their own power, wealth and patronage. The same the world over with all police states, from Franco to Mao, and all points in between. Tyrants looting their own countries for their own ends. Sadly, there are modern day, current examples of countries and peoples similarly enslaved.

    Of course, it’s easy to draw trite and superficial conclusions from such visits, and it was an unintended irony that my wife and I were in the German capital on the very day of the D Day 75th anniversary commemorations, but you couldn’t help but be moved by seeing how the most cavernous division imaginable had been breached and healed in Berlin and how this extraordinary achievement had turned its citizens outwards and not inwards. It’s not a utopia, nowhere ever is or ever will be, but I sensed a city at ease with itself now, its history and its place in a modern and largely successful Germany.

    And yes, at ease with its place in the the European Union too. I spoke to many Berliners who talked glowingly about the EU’s benign role in German reunification in the early 1990s. Willy Brandt, a politician I greatly admire, is revered in Berlin. He was a great champion of the European Union too.

    Two days back in the UK and about six news bulletins to the good and the comparisons are not favourable.

  4. Good evening all from a damp Winchester.

    Looking at the current Tory leadership candidates and Jeremy Hunt’s opening salvos, I reckon Hunt is a real contender to become the next PM.

    BoJo is cuddly but he is a lumbering buffoon and I honestly can’t see the guy becoming the next PM.

    My aunt Andrea is still my personal favourite for the top job and as for the wee specky Scottish guy…..Christ what a pompous wee git he is. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could chuck his extremely large bifocals.

    The rest of the leadership contenders are just trying to get noticed and I doubt most of the public even know who they are…

  5. Oh good god in Govan as they say in Glasgow…Ruth Davidson has backed Sajid Javid!!

    Wooooff…With such an endorsement from the Scot’s Tory Dear leader I reckon Javid has been catapulted right up there with Big BoJo.

  6. Oh dear oh dear.
    The problem with the drugs is not whether you did or whether you didnt, but is just makes it open season for everyone to take the mickey.

    The trevors,
    ” the higher rate tax threshold was IMHO cloud cuckoo land stuff ”

    I won’t make the drug inspired joke. But if you think this simply isnt a realistic policy, then the same must apply to his others, such as no deal departure or the chance to renegotiate anything.

  7. Will the next opinion polls suggest that regarding Westminster VI that all publicity is good publicity?
    The Conservative Party, admittedly selecting the next PM, is going to be hogging the 24 TV news coverage and front pages this week, next week and probably until the end of July.
    The new Cabinet line up will take us into August holidays with the Tories dominating news space.
    The Lib Dems will get one 24 hour ‘news event’ day when they have their new leader.
    Other than that unless MPs defect or we get a by-election, then Lib Dem leader faces the traditional pushing treacle up a hill task of getting any TV, radio and newspaper coverage.
    Assuming there is no Labour coup as per 2016, then unless Corbyn does a reshuffle of Shadow Cabinet, or changes a big policy, then could be a quiet June to end of August.
    Brexit Party may be able to make the political weather in EU venue or with Farage in Washington, but other than that it is waiting for a by-election. MP defectors or celebrity endorsers might help. If members of Oasis, Take That, Spice Girls, stars of soaps or sport stars come out for them then it might get attention. Other than that they could go off the radar.
    If the Tories dominate the headlines and in direct proportion their Westminster VI goes up, then the drug admissions, name calling, etc will have been worth it.

  8. CMJ

    “Labour seem best set to adapt, but seem to lack the leadership and courage. Currently the middle of road feels safe, but they will eventually get run over.”

    I thought you summed up the whole dilemma very well.

    But to “leadership and courage” I would add what I think is the most important and the most patently missing: desire.

    The Labour leadership must want out. If they didn’t they would have moved by now and attempted to do what I think we both feel needs to be done, which is to convince “soft” leavers that their concerns can be better addressed from within the EU and that leaving will make that task much, much more difficult.

    I don’t even believe that would be difficult for Corbyn – if, and it’s a big IF – he actually believed it himself.

    Ergo he doesn’t.

  9. I was delighted to observe that PTRP has meved from his occasional [sic] comparisons between brexit and Iraq to the American moon landings.

    Very creative indeed.

  10. NICKP

    You are confusing Bank Solvency with Bank Liquidity.

    The former was certainly at risk & post crash BoE rulings forced them to recapitalise -ie to aquire more PERMANENT capital from their shareholders. In some cases the State took a stake for a period of time.

    Shortfalls in the latter were addressed by the BoE Asset Purchase Facility ( QE) under which Banks could swap their Gilts for “cash” **

    ** -actually a drawing right with the BoE.

  11. New thread

  12. Argentina/japan result great for Scotland.

    Thought you Scots guys were very hard on your team. They did you proud and have some very good, competitive players.

    I’m hoping England beat both the other teams and that should give Scotland every chance of getting out of the first group stage.

  13. colin

    the banks’ solvency was at risk without the added liquidity of QE

    Exactly what I said

  14. TW

    I think you will find that EIB has its critics-one being that it is this institution which is deciding whether Italy, Spain, France etc get a road or a factory or ……….

    I don’t think the Central Bank has any place investing in infrastructure.

    In my view Central Banks should -independently-be in charge of monetary policy-Interest Rates & Money Supply.

    Politicians need to be responsible & accountable for their State Spending & its funding-which should be exposed to the sentiment of the credit markets.

    Classically Monetary Policy & Fiscal Policy work in tandem to smooth economic cycles-Tight Fiscal Policy + Loose Monetary Policy-or Loose Fiscal Policy + Tight Monetary Policy.

    The danger of this modern trend to get Central Banks involved in Fiscal & Industrial Policy is that they act pro-cyclically & not counter cyclically.

  15. NICKP

    What you wrote was :-

    “……… it ( QE) was to give liquidity to BANKS which were otherwise basically broke.”

    Being “broke” means having insufficient asset to pay your debts as they fall due-this is a matter of Solvency.-corrected by PERMANENT new Capital.

    Lack of “liquidity” means your asset mix doesn’t contain enough cash. QE addressed that problem.

    Banks -or any other organisation-can be at risk of insolvency , whether they are illiquid or not. QE did not & could not address Bank solvency .

    Insolvency:- You don’t have enough cash to pay all your liabilities even if you sell ALL your assets.

    Illiquidity-you are solvent but can’t put your hand on ready cash quickly.

  16. TW

    @” looking at the names of who is backing Gove then I’d expect most of his supporters would go to Hunt.”

    I hope so.

    But a final BJ vs Hunt just makes Johnson more certain to be chosen by the members.

    Hunt will have to wait for Boris to implode as PM and/or make a complete pigs ear of the job.

    Shouldn’t have to wait too long-and he will get plenty of practice from the Opposition Front Bench every Wednesday.

  17. Wish I’d been at the PLP meeting tonight; sounded absolutely ferocious – as it bloody well should be.

  18. @Trevs

    NB I’m not belittling the economic illiteracy and political stup!dity of SOME of his “policies”, the higher rate tax threshold was IMHO cloud cuckoo land stuff and hopefully would disappear if/when he forms a cabinet.

    Given what he is prepared to do to business, I can’t imagine what he might get up to with economics or his cabinet come to that.

  19. Rosieanddaisie,
    ” I think we both feel needs to be done, which is to convince “soft” leavers that their concerns can be better addressed from within the EU and that leaving will make that task much, much more difficult.”

    Well I agree. I’d go further and say the current EU was made in the image of what successive UK governments wanted. We pushed its expansion into new areas so as to create a more open market. We pushed for new accession states with weaker development to join, not least because we wanted their workers to come here and work for us. We agreed to pay more into the budget to accomplish this.

    But it is awkward for politicians to say the Eu didnt impose this stuff, we asked for it. Even more awkward to say we would do it again because we think it in the national interest. Yet still more awkward to say the negotiated deal is designed to reproduce as much of that as possible, giving up only what we regard as non nessential, which is the UK’s ability to direct the future direction of the EU. Trustng in the EU to make those decisions for us.

    The EU has given us the only deal it could. One which favours its members, which will not include us.The leave camp, including most leadership challengers continue to argue the impossible, that the deal can be renegotiated. If MPs believed that they would have already have acted upon it.

    So far the government has negotiated a deal and sought to convince it is the best deal possible. But at the same time many leavers have said it is so bad it is worse than leaving. Which was rather the government’s point and it has convinced leavers this is the case.

    What comes next logically is to address leaving without a deal, and persuade leavers this is actually worse than leaving with a deal. Rory Stewart seemed to be of that view and willing to argue the case in public. Whether he wins or loses, no doubt he will continue to do so, and it is an important thread in a potential way out for the government.

    May told parliament and the nation the only way to leave the EU was with the deal her government had negotiated. She meant it, her MPs agreed even when they publicly disagreed.

    It was necessary for leavers to agree the negotiated deal is worse than remaining as a first step in convincing the nation (well, conservative voters, labour voters already think this) to choose to remain.

    What it st

  20. RoiseandDaisie,
    “The Labour leadership must want out. If they didn’t they would have moved by now”

    I dont agree, there is a logical case to be made why they wouldnt.

    1) Labour voters are remainers, and if labour declare for remain, they will flock back to the flag. (see 2017 election) So it is a paper loss, easily recovered.

    2) Labour gained ground in 2017 after con called an election based on terrible polls for labour, yet labour ended up better off. The only way the government would allow another election is if polls show them leading, so artificially depressing their own vote is a labour strategy to get an election.

    3) In so far as labour dont get back remain voters, they will be going to the libs. The libs have a chance to defeat con in areas labour couldn’t. Dividing the remain vote could have benefits in the main goal of defeating con.

    4)Labour is trying to appear reasonable to weak supporters of leaving to show it has tried to compromise but there wasnt a viable soft leave position. Logically, there must be votes to be had in the centre ground of brexit, and they want them.

    5) The biggie. Labour isnt thinking about what remainers want, because it is secure it can get their votes. It is thinking about what leavers want, and expect their party con to deliver. If con fail to deliver, then we can reasonably expect leavers to desert con, which is precisely what has happened. Labour want the blame for no brexit to fall on con not them. So it is not in labour’s interest to stop brexit dead right now, which they probably could.

    6) The way agreed by both lab and con to discredit brexit is by exploring the detail. Which means negotiating and concluding what has to happen if the Uk leaves. Eliminating fantasy outcomes. Showing what is left is inferioir to membership, and leave agree it is inferior.

    Which brings us back to Stewart. Could he be the equivalent in this election of May in the last, the from nowhere winner?


    ” I think we both feel needs to be done, which is to convince “soft” leavers that their concerns can be better addressed from within the EU and that leaving will make that task much, much more difficult.”

    The moon land pitch was that we would explore the stars, we would be landing on Mars by the end of the century hence the analogy. Most leaver believe that once we leave lots of things will change my point has been that nothing would change in terms of the people that will be taking us out

    So trying to persuade people to not go for a moon landing would have been a fruitless task because of the promise of what we could do. The fact that the motivations of the people pushing this and leading this were very different to what many people believe is seen as unimportant and immaterial

    The problem is that for Labour there is a genuine belief that they have to win the midland marginals and as yet no one labour supporter has shown me how they keep Bristol North West and win back Wallsall North.

    The problem is and always has been that a large part of the UK electorate believe the EU is responsible for their ills and if they are not responsible then why are we part of them anyway.

    My view is that Labour could win the 2nd referendum but cannot win the election and for the current leadership that is the wrong way round they are indifferent to the EU but they are not to getting power. I don’t think that they keep all the remainers and in some ways I think they have to lose big to change their mind.


    1. I would have agreed 3 months ago but look at the polls now, I suspect that the problem Labour has is many people saying that members are not getting a say and if you are to repeat 2017 you need a GOTV campaign. I don’t see the same level of enthusiasm

    2. The pools were rather more subtle than a massive pro Tory leads. If you look at the DK they were heavily leaning to labour, they just did not think that Corbyn was the person that should lead them

    3. Actually I suspect the greens will also benefit but in truth the problem is that whilst Lib are second in more Tory seats than they are Labour seats they also have enough presence in the marginals that could deny Labour

    4. Agreed but I think it is because their polling says that they need leavers and as I pointed out before leaving the EU is supposed to spark a whole seachange of things

    5 Agreed and the longer it goes on the less likely you have those votes and that is the problem

    6. I don’t think that defeating brexit gets enough votes in the FPTP system. I suspect Labour are as screwed as the Tories because of the problems of their different views of their voters

    I believe that reality will take care of itself, but we will leave the EU sometime in 2020,how we leave is dependent on whether Boris gets in and how much like Trump he ends up

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