Recent voting intention figures continue to show a moderate Conservative lead of between 6 and 9 points. Voting intention polls published so far this month are:

YouGov/Times (5th Aug) – CON 42, LAB 36, LD 8
Redfield & Wilton (12th Aug) – CON 43, LAB 36, LD 9
Ipsos MORI/Standard (4th Aug) – CON 45, LAB 37, LD 6
Survation (3rd Aug) – CON 44, LAB 35, LD 8

While the media narrative around the government’s handling of the Corona outbreak has turned far more negative, the polling suggests the public are still quite evenly split. So in the latest Ipsos MORI monitor 42% think the government have handled the outbreak well, 40% badly.

Keir Starmer continues to poll positively. His satisfaction rating from MORI is plus 22, by 38% to 24% people think he has what it takes to be a good PM. In YouGov’s regular “best PM” question Starmer led Johnson by 34 to 32% last week – the first time the Labour leader has been in the lead since a single poll straight after the 2017 election. Starmer apparently polling more positively than Labour is an interesting dynamic. MORI have (or used to have) a nice tracker question asking if people like the leader, like the party, both or neither. Over the last couple of decades people have consistently liked the Labour party more than they’ve liked its leaders. I don’t think they’ve asked it yet of Starmer, but all other other polling suggests we may find ourselves in the unusual position of having a Labour leader who is more popular than their party. A different question is to what extent this is because Starmer appeals to the public more than his predecessors, and to what extent it’s a sign that the Labour party’s own brand has been tarnished.

Immigration has started to sneak up the political agenda again, presumably on the back of coverage of migrant boats in the English Channel. YouGov’s weekly tracker on the most important issue facing the country has immigration spiking up 9 points to 29%, though health, the economy and Brexit remain the dominant issues. The Ipsos MORI issues index shows it significantly lower – up 3 points to only 9% – but the fieldwork for that is a little older (conducted 31st Jul-5th Aug), so may have concluded before the story really hit headlines.

The week there was also a new YouGov poll of Scotland. Voting intentions for the Scottish Parliament election next year were SNP 57%, CON 20%, LAB 14%, LDEM 8% for the constituency vote, SNP 47%, CON 21%, LAB 14%, LD 7%, GRN 6%. Translated into seats this would likely give the SNP a solid overall majority despite the Scottish Parliament’s electoral system.

That would increase the chances of another independence referendum in the near future. The same poll found that by 44% to 41% people thought there should be a referendum in the event the SNP win a majority, and that as things stand people would vote yes. 45% of people they would vote yes, 40% no. Removing won’t votes and don’t knows, that translates to Yes 53%, No 47%. Tabs for the Scottish polling are here.

4,856 Responses to “Polling round up – August 2020”

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  1. Views matching policies of which government? Denmark.

    This was also the most frequent match to the respondents polled – don’t know they were of course.

    I notice that these islands did not feature in the list, or did I miss something?

  2. Oh dear, sixth form college association challenging the statistics used for re-grading. Claiming that on a comparison with past performance, they have been graded down far too much.

  3. correction “…don’t know who they were… “

  4. The only two countries in Europe that use FPTP are Belarus and the UK. One is now a one-party dictatorship, the other has an autocratic ruler called Lukashenko.

  5. Steve,
    strictly, the Uk system is designed to be a duopoly. All MPs are chosen by one of two parties internal committees, though occasionally it fails and a few others get in.

    In China I gather you also get a choice of candidate, but selected just by one party. Does that create a meaningfull difference?

  6. First public crack in the Tory dam against a second independence referendum. A former party chairman in Scotland and Shadow Scottish Secretary says Johnson should agree quickly to a srcond referendum if the SNP win a Holyrood majority in May:

  7. The exam situation is a fiasco for government on many levels – policy has been vague, execution have been a shambles, but it is politically I find it most incomprehensible.

    Johnson is committed to ‘levelling up’ – supporting the left behind towns and regions to bring them up to the favoured south east and big cities. Recognising the value of the aspiring, hard working voters in Staffordshire, Shropshire, Derbshire, Notts and the parts further north.

    Here is a ‘free’ – as in no cash involved – and highly emotive opportunity to demonstrate that Johnson means what he says; that the Tories will indeed try to help ‘level up’.

    Why in god’s name would you then design a system of A-level assessment that actively penalises students from poorer, more deprived backgrounds who attend comps and 6th form colleges, and favours those already lucky enough to live in the leafy south and attend a private school?!

    It could be incompetence, a failed attempt to be deeply machiavellian (‘only posh parents will complain’), or being too idle to think it through at all… or all three I suppose.

  8. Tony Blair was on R4 this morning. He was proposing mass testing to eliminate covid, but what was interesting was he was assuming total cases around 2-3,000.

    Whereas King’s phone app this morning is at a record low estimating around 20,000 cases aged 20-70, with symptoms. Thus probably a total more like 50-100,000. Against which the numbers being traced looks very small and is not likely to be making much difference.

  9. BFR

    Calls for Boris Johnson to intervene in exams crisis”

    Right. Because that would definitely help.

  10. BFR: It could be incompetence, a failed attempt to be deeply machiavellian (‘only posh parents will complain’), or being too idle to think it through at all… or all three I suppose.

    It would be interesting to hear the views of those who normally defend the government on this site. Do people like TOH think the government has handled this badly, or are they willing to defend the approach taken, and its apparent results?

    I say interesting because it seems to me that it’s not normally the outrage of non-govt supporters on any given issue that shifts VI, but the discomfort of supporters queasily aware that they’re on a hard wicket (and the judgement of floaters, of course).

  11. BFR

    @”I find it most incomprehensible.”

    Me too.

    Agree with your post.

    The answer-ultimately-is lack of Leadership.

    Leadership in asking in ADVANCE of known difficulties what plans are being made.

    Leadership in monitoring those plans.

    Leadership in making personnel changes where there is failure to deliver .

  12. All Starmer needs now is photos in the papers of Johnson on holiday.

  13. @Colin – “The answer-ultimately-is lack of Leadership.”

    Which I think was one of your big fears from 2019 before Johnson was elected. I always felt your fears were very well founded.

    The only surprise is quite how many times I’ve seen the headlines ‘Boris told to get a grip’, and he’s only been PM for barely a year. His personal life to date has been something of a disaster zone, and he is making a good fist of transferring that general approach to high office.

  14. @Somerjohn – ” say interesting because it seems to me that it’s not normally the outrage of non-govt supporters on any given issue that shifts VI, but the discomfort of supporters queasily aware that they’re on a hard wicket (and the judgement of floaters, of course).”

    I think this is a big issue for Johnson for precisely that issue, but as with the CV19 mistakes, probably too early and too time limited to have a decisive and long term impact on VI. However, it is another example of gross incompetence in an already crowded field after a very short time in office.

    In a similar vein, the planning proposals recently unveiled will, I suspect, be another example of natural supporters seeing their own side acting against their interests.

    There is no evidence that the proposals will solve the identified problem, but every evidence that they will lead to the continuation of the current Conservative record on home building, which is to return poor people to what are effectively slum housing, in the guise of cutting red tape and promoting development.

  15. I thought it was silly for Labour, Starmer, and anyone in opposition parties to be asking for Johnson to intervene in the OFQUAL fiasco.

    To suggest that Johnson has the intellectual capability to even understand algorithms and complex systems of marking and schooling, is elevating him far beyond reality.

    The only useful thing Johnson could do now is sack Gavin Williamson and appoint some Tory junior with brains and empathy. Then he/she could force OFQUAL to postpone all grade awards in England until there has been a deep appraisal, including of the statistics of the failed algorithm.

    A clear indication of OFQUAL`s incompetence is that they have not published their methodology, unlike SQA`s c.50 pages that was released on Scotland`s results day.

  16. Davywel: appoint some Tory junior with brains and empathy.

    Ah, but they’ve got rid of all the remainers!

  17. Anyone got a hint of where Johnson is going to have his Scotland holiday in hiding?

    He could come to the NE having had the virus, so won`t catch it again. One of the isolated lodges on the Balmoral estate would be suitable, but I don`t think HMQ would be pleased.

    Charles might let him rent a cottage at Delnadamph for a week – access would be easier to control there.

  18. @somerjohn

    “I say interesting because it seems to me that it’s not normally the outrage of non-govt supporters….”

    Exactly so and the increasing number of Tory MPs calling for the current approach to be abandoned is the key indicator of the depth of the UKGE’s political crisis. Thst and the headmistress of a grammar school in Marlow Buckinghamshire saying the same thing.

    If you are going to do a u turn it’s best to follow the Scottish example and do it early and quickly with the sound of screeching tyres.

  19. @colin

    “All Starmer needs now is photos in the papers of Johnson on holiday…”

    Starmer shouldn’t worry, most of Scotland is on the look out.

  20. I’ve posted on this theme a couple of times already, and I know others have noted similaar trends, but why is this kind of thing happening? –

    In this case, a regular, licensed campsite in the Lake District has taken a unilateral decision to shut down, purely because of selfish campers using the site inappropriately and flouting the rules, not only of the site, but also the government CV19 rules.

    Up at this end of the country, we are also seeing regular news items about ‘festival camping’ taking over beauty spots, with locals now having to do not litter ‘patrols’, but some seriously heavy duty site clearances, after overnight wild campers just left everything there.

    For years now we’ve managed countryside access, wild camping, and the relatively new (for England) open access legislation with little damage and no real conflict, but this year that has all changed.

    For me, this is deeply depressing, not so much for the impact on wildlife and the countryside, but much more because it brings a realisation that there are just so many people who have absolutely no regard for whoever or whatever is around them.

    Something is deeply wrong in England.

    You asked for my view so I will give you a brief answer although to be honest I have been too busy to follow the story in any detail.

    As I understand it the results were basically produced using an algorithm which combines the ranking of pupils with the share of grades expected in their school. The objective being that this years results would generally match the results in recent years.

    That seems to me to be an admirable objective although of course in any such system bright individuals in poor schools could lose out. I have taken the trouble to see what actually happened

    “Results as published by Future of Education News Channel:
    Almost 60% of grades received by students are exactly the same as those submitted by schools and colleges – but nearly 40% were downgraded.
    98.3% received grades A* to E at A level, up from 97.6% in 2019
    Increase in As and A*s awarded at A level, up from 25.5% in 2019 to 27.9%
    Maths remains the most popular subject at A level with a 2.5% increase in entries this year; entries for 18 year olds increased by 7.7%
    Entries for English A level increased by 1.8% despite a decrease in cohort size
    Computing saw an 11.7% increase in entries, with more girls taking up the subject
    A record number of 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in England have been accepted into university – up 7.3% from last year
    96.4% of grades were either the same as the one submitted by schools or colleges or only changed by one grade, testament to the excellent judgement and hard work of teachers
    Results for vocational and technical qualifications are broadly in line with previous years.”

    Assuming the above figures are correct then it seems to me that the system has done a reasonable job so no criticism from me so far.

    The problem appears to be related to bright pupils in poor schools who are possibly losing out. Clearly there was always a need for a robust appeals process. The fact that the appeals process was announced and then withdrawn and is still awaited is a disgrace and Ofqual needs to get it’s finger out. So in one respect I am very unhappy with the Government’s current position.

  22. @STEVE

    Hillary Clinton did win.
    By nearly three million votes.”


    She didn’t seem very happy about winning.

  23. A record number of French pupils gained an end-of-school qualification yesterday, leading to claims that the replacement of exams by continuous assessment had led to a “laughable” fall in standards.

    With schools forced to shut when France went into lockdown on March 11, the Baccalauréat, the equivalent of A levels, was determined by the marks obtained by pupils during the first two terms of the year. The upshot was that 91.5 per cent of France’s 740,594 school leavers passed, compared with 77.7 per cent last year, prompting critics to say the qualification was being given away.

    Every government was on a hiding to nothing over qualification awards, with no exam system in place to provide an acceptable form of fairness. [1]

    Try to keep “the standards” the same, and governments are attacked. Allow more generous grades to be awarded and governments are attacked.

    Politically what matters is the public perception of how their government has handled the response. How it has been handled elsewhere is not the concern of most – though in These Islands, the dominance of English news may give awareness of a comparator polity.

    Opinium did ask about “exam results” in England –

    The government’s handling of the exam results situation is not seen as particularly successful with only 17% of voters in England approving and 42% disapproving. Even Conservatives voters struggle to muster much enthusiasm. While supporters of other parties are predictably negative, Conservative voters split evenly with 27% approving and 27% disapproving.

    We’ll need to wait a bit longer, I think, to see whether the stooshie affects VI anywhere.

    [1] Given the disparity everywhere between attainment levels of the advantaged c/f the disadvantaged, whether the system is “fair” is a matter of political opinion.

  24. @ToH
    I believe the general issues are two fold:

    – No-one has published information about how the algorithms work, so it is impossible to explain why anomalies are arising; it’s all secret squirrel.

    -However the algorithms work, they have the effect of assuming that private school grade estimate are more accurate than state school estimates; however past evidence suggests that the reverse is true -independent school teachers are more over-optimistic than their state peers.

    The algorithm appears to have treated schools in the Midlands and North more harshly than those in the south east – on-one knows why (see first point!)

    There are also specific issuers in improving schools – for instance my physio’s wife was parachuted into a failing school in south London two and half year ago as Head; it has since been lifted two grades by OFSTED.
    However the algorithm appear to take an average of the last three years’ performance (2017, 2018 and 2019), so kids in that school are being forced into an average that includes two years of results taught by a failing head and staff, and only one from the new regime. Results are disastrous…

  25. @somerjohn – “[From @TOH] You asked for my view so I will give you a brief answer although to be honest I have been too busy to follow the story in any detail.”

    This isn’t the first time @TOH has used this defence. Oddly enough, when a stiry gets uncomfortable for Cons, he tends to be ‘too busy’ to have followed it.

  26. Opinium asked those in the affected polities – “In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, A-level and GCSE students are receiving moderated official grades. Teachers provided an estimate of how the student would have performed based on their assessment and results of other work. These estimates are then moderated by exam boards. If a student feels the result they have received is not a fair reflection of their ability, which of the following options do you think should be open for them?”

    Only 5% selected “the moderated estimate should stand as if it were the student’s actual exam grade”, though I don’t think any of the 3 governments affected had suggested that. Some form of appeal had been proposed by all 3.

  27. BFR

    Oddly, the highest support in Opinium (7%) for not allowing any appeals and just imposing the moderated grades came from those in the midlands and north of England

    Davywel: appoint some Tory junior with brains and empathy.

    Ah, but they’ve got rid of all the remainers!

    This is the party after the 2008 crash and winning the election in 2010 went after the poorest and least able to fight back in society, they do not do empathy…nor brains!

  29. Carfew
    There’s clearly a difference between winning the popular vote
    And achieving election through the intentionally undemocratic electoral college system.

  30. “Wanted a Tory mp with empathy”
    Temporary position only required until buck can be passed or squirrel released to be spotted.

  31. @Steve

    Nothing I wrote challenges that, and it’s possible the stock markets might take the electoral system into account.

  32. On the effect of working from home

    It seems that there is a lot of interest in cashing in on inflated house values in certain parts of the UK, and moving to the north of Scotland for better value and a better lifestyle.

  33. Reports that the UK Government will be making an announcement on A level grades etc at 4pm.

  34. CARFREW, I think this time the American election will be different due to how many actual Republicans want Trump to lose.

  35. @Pete

    You may well be right and regarding the article, we will see how the stock market as an indicator performs compared with polling.

  36. Steve, early polls today looking v good for our pair.

  37. @TOH

    Thanks for the response. I’ve tried tracking down the “Future of Education News Channel” that is your source, but google seems to have no record.

    I take from what you write that you’re reasonably happy with how the government has handled this and not too worried about political impact. No surprise there, perhaps. But you are concerned that a robust appeals procedure should be in place. That’s fine, but of course another potential source of unequal outcomes, since well-resourced middle class families tend to be better at promoting their childrens’ interests.

    It may be that this is another issue that looks dangerous for the government, but ends up sliding off the teflon shield protecting VI. Or it may be the straw that break’s the camel’s back. We’ll see.

  38. Denmark on the country “test”. Poss the national service thing?
    A “modern” version of that, especially in times on high/rising youth unemployment would be copying some other countries with a broader view on national service that includes non-military:

    As a “catch” program at least… we’ve clearly “learned” that paying folks to sit on their 4rse is a really bad idea. A lot more folks will be sat on their 4rse soon so get then doing something useful for society and developing some skills and work ethic. Good for their self value, mental health and society.

    Political Compass chucks out some odd positioning IMO. I come out as almost bang on “SNP’19” – although I do share their raison d’etre that isn’t one of the questions ;)

    Given some of the responses from UKPR folks then the “centre” of both axis seem quite a bit out and nowhere near the dots given for GE’19 party positions.

    Someone posted a “better” test on last thread (CL1945?!?) The y-axis is different and came out nearer to something that passes the sniff test IMO.

    I tend to view myself as an optimist so prefer (and believe) tests that produce +ve results for me (on the y-axis at least).

  39. Opinium write-up and tabs:

    Fieldwork touched the start of the exam fiasco and hence is mentioned in the poll but it has “developed” since then and -ve for the Blue Team.

  40. Times reporting that “sources” have told them that all A level and GCSE candidates in England will get their teacher assessed grades.

  41. There is plenty of info on the web about Ofqual’s algorithm and approach. For those that struggle with google then here’s just one summary write-up (and contains a link to the 319 page report):

    Sweden don’t have this problem do they! If we give “prizes for all” this year then that is a can kick to a further sh!t show next year as next year’s year 10 and 12 have also had messed up education, especially those dealt a sh!te hand to begin with – “prizes for all” for them as well? Years below them as well?!?

    There is no “good” way to fix the mess now. Any idiot govt can close schools and enter max lockdown (as per most govts in World) – creating a mass of future socio-economic problems such as this whole exam fiasco.

    Boomers have totally sh4fted the young. They’ve just added to that with ‘Generation Covid’. Screwed up the economy, messed up their education (the greatest social mobility opportunity of all) and landed them with massive debt to pay off for the rest of their lives.

    SLOW HAND CLAP for the lockdown fanatics – numpt!es.

  42. Me: Or it may be the straw that break’s the camel’s back

    Where did that rogue apostrophe spring from? I’ve never done that in my life!

    But while I’m having a second bite at the cherry, I’ll add that it’s interesting to compare Colin’s robust exasperation at the exam grade situation and TOH’s more nuanced (ahem) view. Reflective, I suspect, of the division between unattached rightwingers and party loyalists, which could be a harbinger of recrimination and discord ahead. Interesting times, with brexit fallout forthcoming too.

  43. @Trevs – “SLOW HAND CLAP for the lockdown fanatics – numpt!es.”

    Nice one @Trevs.

    This was nothing to do with ‘lockdown fanatics’.

    There were a thousand and one ways we could have maintained education and run exams, as some on here were posting about way back.

    This is your government’s mess, and yours alone. You backed ’em, so suck it up. Not our fault you voted for the most incompetent bunch of numpties imaginable.

    Did somebody say ‘gullible’?

  44. @TW
    I’m not sure if you had actually read what was included on your link – this does not set out how the algorithm works; it simply sets out a set of outcomes for a single school in a single subject and explains why they are junk.

    In fact the author states that they DON’T know how the algorithm works…

  45. ALEC

    “This isn’t the first time @TOH has used this defence. Oddly enough, when a stiry gets uncomfortable for Cons, he tends to be ‘too busy’ to have followed it.”

    It’s not a defence for goodness sake, just the simple truth, I am obviously not as much a political geek as some who post here.

    Sometomes you get things completely wrong.

  46. Wales now confirming that they are ditching the algorithm and reverting to teacher assessments.

    Looks like England has lost the race to avoid being the last to see sense on this.

    Dull, dimwitted and leaden footed.

  47. @ BFR – ?!?! They even give you examples and highlight the key group that is being sh4fted:

    “So in schools with historically high value added, the prior attainment adjustment will result in grades being lowered”

    You can also read the full 319 report if you like.

    Universities will know the issues and since many of them run as “puppy farms” then loads of clearing places are available.

    I fully accept it is a sh!t show but let’s not kick the can and embed the problem for future years as well. Fix the mess this year and learn the lesson the never shut schools (for so long[1]) and cancel exams again[2]

    [1] Opinium show the ordering of priorities (schools are priority) and as per leaders of both (all?) parties then schools are priority. Giving police more powers, resources and expecting them to use them where behaviour is “fraying” is important (commented on that many times). If we absolutely have to close some schools for some pupils at some times then as few as poss for as short as poss with “catch” programs set up. Sacking Williamson after Thurs.

    [2] A more fundamental review of over reliance of exams will have to wait and we shouldn’t look to lock the door of the horse has bolted. I fully accept the algorithm approach is “bad” – we sowed those seeds when we locked down all schools for all year groups and cancelled exams. A total numpty approach as we can now all see – well maybe not all of us?

  48. Interesting (for sone!) to note that the ruthlessly efficient German’s didn’t need to suspend exams, but instead had a wee think about it and came up with the idea of running them as usually, but in much smaller venues, to prevent unnecessary infections.

    It worked! Grades went up, because young folk had fewer distractions and did a bit more work.

    All you needed was a reasonably clear headed government and some thinking.

    It’s Boris that has shafted the young – no one else….

  49. @TW
    You understand the difference between the output from an algorithm and the algorithm itself?

    The example they give is a set of algorithm output.

    They do not have access to the algorithm; nor (as far as I can tell) does anyone else outside the DoE, unless a whole swathe of educationalists on this morning’s TV and radio are telling porkies…

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