YouGov’s latest poll for the Times has topline voting intention figures of CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 6%, GRN 5% – the first time that the Conservatives have lost their lead in a YouGov poll since Boris Johnson became leader. Opinium also put out a poll showing the parties neck-and-neck at the end of August, though there most recent poll has the Conservatives ahead again. Other recent polls have also showed a narrowing – Redfield & Wilton had 2 point Tory lead this week, Survation 2 points and NCPolitics 4 points earlier in September.

To some degree this isn’t really a surprise. The Conservatives no longer have the advantage of a more popular leader, with Keir Starmer consistently getting higher approval ratings than Boris Johnson. The “rally round the flag” factor – the tendency for people to support the government at times of national crisis – has now vanished, and public opinion is increasingly critical of the government’s handling of the corona outbreak. In YouGov’s tracker the proportion of people thinking the government are handling corona well is down to 30% (lower than any of the other countries tracked). The question may perhaps be why the Conservatives aren’t doing worse?

Part of that may be the underlying factor of Brexit. Boris Johnson was elected primarily on a platform of delivering Brexit – it is still seen as one of the most important issues facing the country, and the Conservatives still have a solid lead on delivering it. There is also still a lack of confidence in the Labour party – while Starmer is seen as a potential Prime Minister, people still appear to have very little idea what he stands for (the YouGov poll today contained questions asking what issues people cared about the most, and what issues people think the Labour party and Keir Starmer himself cared about. The latter returned an overwhelming Don’t know). Only 28% of people think that the Labour party looks ready for government, and they have negative trust ratings on issues like the economy, Brexit or defence & security. While Starmer’s leadership has had a good start, the Labour party has a way to go.

Either way, at this stage in a Parliament the importance of less is less predictive (after all, there are probably years to go), and more the impact on party morale, and how the parties are percieved. Remember, one of Boris Johnson’s main selling points to the Conservative party was that he was popular with the public. He was the Tory who could reach parties that other Tories could not. What becomes of him if Labour pull ahead and the Tory party realise that he isn’t popular anymore?

1,318 Responses to “Labour and Conservatives neck-and-neck in latest YouGov poll”

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  1. @alec

    Re broadcasting, Steve Baker MP has just argued that the appointment of Dacre and Moore would ensure thst the media represent Conservative political views. They are not even trying to hide the motivation. The Americanisation of the British state continues.

  2. ALEC
    “ There are no magic bullets here, no golden scenarios. Just different levels of suffering, depending on how badly governments miscalculate.”

    The suppression strategy only works on the presumption that there is a magic bullet, and that it is found.

    Without that magic bullet, we don’t affect the level of Covid suffering, only it’s timing.

    The presumption is not an unreasonable one to hope for. But it is not a certainty and I note that the “at least eighteen months” of the beginning of the year is now apparently overlain by “and at least another year to scale up”. Remembering also what “at least” means.

    That pretty much rules out an effective magic bullet by 21/22 northern hemisphere winter. Quite likely rules it out before 22/23.

    Whilst I don’t think this is close to played out after six months and one surge, it might be in another two years after three or four more. And then the magic bullet strategy may well turn out to be flawed.

    We need a strategy that is sustainable for at least this period. If we don’t have one, we risk the worst of both strategies. We need more honesty over this from advocates of the magic bullet.

  3. Steve.
    “My son’s girlfriend , whose been living with us during lockdown is shortly returning for her last year at university and will be receiving just 4 hours a week of in person learning, what’s the point of paying £10000 a year plus living costs to sit in a bed sit and conduct study remotely.”

    It gets worse, once you have recorded all those lecture they will mostly do for next year too, so no need for a permanent lecturing staff. Who dont need paying. Who dont need buildings. So far less cost per student on the faculty side. If the reason for having many universities is volume of students to teach, well one internet lecture would do for every student in the country and no point 100 universities all making their own.

    No one has said it yet, but like high street shops, what is the point of high street universities?

    The OU used to manage to do summer schools for the disciplines which needed to do physical experiments, and sent out home experiment kits 40 years ago.

    Yes, what we have is a very expensive way of providing an education which confuses the roles of education and holiday camp. And essentially compelling students to do part time work to pay for it all doesnt help their studies.

    Why arent the lectures simply available free on the internet as a governmnt service, as the OU used to do when they broadcast on national TV? Anyone could just learn the stuff and apply for the exams.

    Its a massive industry ripe for collapse.

  4. Alec,
    “Tegnell now saying they will recommend lockdowns for short, local application. ”

    There are two possible purposes of a lockdown.

    The first is to prevent general spread and try to get rid of all cases, so that it does not spread throughout a population. The risk as per several countries around the world is that any single person in the future entering the country risks starting the whole thing off again.

    The second is after herd immunity has been achieved. Herd immunity point is simple when R is less than 1. But at that level it could take months or years to die out slowly. If at that point you have a lockdown you can slash case numbers, and they will not grow back but resume dying out slowly after the lockdown.

    I fancy Sweden is more likely in the second situation than the first.

    What we have seen is that lockdown in the first situation just bankrupts the nation while extending the problem for longer. Sweden deliberately chose not to do that.

    “There are no magic bullets here, no golden scenarios. ”

    Exactly the conclusion the swedes drew and why they did not lock down.

  5. On line lectures are already commonplace.

    My older so, who graduated last summer, did not attend any lectures in his final year and barely any in his second and third. He went to some in his first year as that is part of Uni life getting to meet knew people.

    For discursive subjects, arts and social science for example, the seminar contact is far more important: Could Zoom or Teams be an adequate substitute? Maybe but what about all that social skills development one is supposed to get from a University Experience?

  6. I should have said my older son did Maths and he found he could skip the bits of the lecture on line that he did not need; often the catch up stuff which Lecturers chuck in to fill time and/or help the students who are struggling (take your pick).

    Not having to go the uni and back and sit through an hours lecture in which if he was lucky 5-10 minutes was useful meant he could achieve more with 4-6 hours a day working from his student house.

    So on-line lectures as one solution to Pareto in academia.

    Different for first years of course.

  7. I have been away for a while to deal with personal tragedies including the loss of my father. when I left there was a number of thing left hanging

    @OLDNAT regard Scittish Nationalist being seen as partners by the England/Governments

    I have always believed that devolution was given to Scotland not for altruistic reasons, I think it was given in a manor that was calculated to stifle the SNP and promote Labour in Scotland . I suspect the ultimate view of Scottish nationalism by the English was summed up by the Tory party’s campaign poster where they pointedly had Salmon at the time leader of the SNP pickpocketing someone (presumed to be the English electorate. That in itself said to me that Scots were seen as at best a nuisance and worst downright thieves. It is not my view but it is part of the political rhetoric that played rather well in 2015 and hit the liberal democrats rather hard.

    On the history of Scotland and the rationale for unification I was wrong to state that it was primarily due to debt. The issue was more complex than I described for one thing I forget in my notes on this but the idea of union was presented James VI of Scotland who had inherited the Crown of England however I believe the act of union by the Scottish parliament which I described was not popular with the masses at the time and the history of act speaks for itself.

    On COVID

    I have always said this is battle between how many lives are you happy to lose to the pandemic and how much value you place on each life versus the economy an the effects of other issues of well being.

    It is clear that much of our economy relies on social interaction and moreover personal social interaction at that. There isn’t an easy answer to this since it is a complex issue of liberties versus health versus the economy. As someone who has had family die from COVID I suspect my views are coloured towards saving lives but I believe that this is a complex discussion and one that will need careful calibration something I think that many governments are struggling with for very different reasons.
    I found this on youtube interesting since in my view many give the WHO a very bad rap

    On Brexit
    I am full of unsurprise at the event unfolding, my boring assertion is to look at what happen in Iraq: essentially the UK is looking for leverage to reinforce their original set of premises. I believe part of that is to have an agreement that is as nebulous as possible indeed my view is No deal is a form of can kicking because it allows brexiteers to claim victory. Yet I keep say that Brexit is a process.
    My ultimate view has always been that their will be a deal but I believe that it will arrive by going for no deal first and then rowing back. The problem we have is that like Iraq as each premise fell away we invent a new rationale to stay the course. What I found fascinating and terrifying on Iraq was that in the end we chose or invented so many options that made no sense until there was only one option left. Brexit is falling into the same category and dare I say t it is the contradictions that is causing this

    US elections
    I think that this has become a battle of narratives as to how to motivate the electorate to vote. I believe that in some ways it has changed the face of the democrats and that has been interesting to watch. because of its subtlety. For example Colin Kapernick kneeling was critised by Justice RBG and yet now I suspect given the situation I believe her view would be different. In the same way as I have seen the polarisation of politics and the changes made due to demographics I think that looking at the polls it seems that Democrats are within a cycle of taking the SW that Biden is within striking distance in TX is amazing, that AZ is basically a senate race already lost IMHO is again mindboggling and that a differen demographic change is hitting GA as blacks return to southern roots makes for whatever the post trump GOP looks like very interesting. I am not sure that progressive in the US see the shift and that is where I think they are going wrong

    As to the polls there is always going to be a tightening as most elections they have had. That Biden has survived thus far largely intact is my only surprise. I still think he should have gone with either AZ gvernor rahter than Harris. not because I think that Harris is unsuitable (far from it ) but I think that Harris has limited appeal in the mid west and I don’t think that a black candidate adds anything to the ticket in terms of GTVO, that she has worked with Bidens son may be a big factor in her selection is something. I think skipping to a relatively unknown would have been a better thing to do in my view so ATL mayor/Gov of MI/Gov of AZ would have been my other choice.
    I still think Trump has a lot to overcome but the tribalism in US politics means that the plague on both houses vote may be the bigger winner here.

    LAB v CON
    Is Starmer doing well? undoubtedly
    Is the Tories doing badly? undoubtedly
    Will that effect the polls? Yes and No

    I think the biggest change to politics on the left is that in the main the consolidation of the fact there is only one left voice in town if you want to win. That has hit the lib Dems into national irrelevance, I say National but not local I have argued that they need to find their local roots and approach again and almost become politically androgynous basically sell themselves as we are best because we are you so in many ways the national figure makes little difference

    As to the actual battle in the red wall seats. I don’t think that they are changing any time soon. I have always argued the Bristol North West versus Walsall North issue. That essentially Labour appeals to those that have seen success in previous labour policies, the expansion in education being a big part of this but those that have not gained from that revolution see themselves being left behind nothing has changed for Walsall North but they have now bought the car and they are driving it which is at the moment a satisfaction. As with everything I think the electorate reactions would be at least 18 months out of date.

    I think Sunaks popularity is overplayed incidentally I believe so is Starmers’. it is easy to give out candy harder to take it away. Moreover I think that what he is doing is being overplayed in itslef there isn’t a country I know of that is not implementing the same sort of policies. Hel even Trump/GOP was doing this

    What I have found interesting is the conservative perpetuating the culture war in the commons as an attempt to try and make Labour seem unpatriotic. it is often crude. The bill to stop vexatious court cases in military action is an example of this. I found that this somewhat disturbing. The idea repeat the same sort of rhetoric that was sed on Corbyn on Starmer. is lazy and I think counterproductive but I also think that this is an attempt to make culture wars amade talking point. That said IMHO abstain on that bill reminded me of the abstention of by Harman on the benefits bill. At some point is becomes a matter of values not just a matter of tactics

    That the Tories are tstill trying to fnd a stick to beat Starmer with is interesting. Normally something comes up in a very short time tha he is boring may be the same sort of issue that gave Major the edge. Saying someone is boring is kind of a meh insult.

    Interesting speaking to my cousin she says Starmer is better looking than Sanuk, her view was that Starmer has a super hero face square jaw and is of bigger build you could draw a cap on him where as Sunak looks like a youngish boy yet to grow into his body.
    My cousin is in her 40s and a size 16…..I ribbed her she would not go for a thinner man because she would crush him. So that other people said their iwifes partners thought he was oood looking was interesting

    Anyway enough of a rambling. hope you all stay safe

  8. Reiterating what I said last night, the Kings app raw reports of illness have the same pattern as the government websete case reports on lginform.

    a low level plateau for months, maybe rising slowly. A jump to a mid higher plateau for a few days. A second jump to a higher pateau still.

    The difference between the two is that kings has more up to date data, presumable because they know immedately at midnight how many people have reported sick on that day. No waiting for testing.

    The most recent kings data shows a fall in reported illness.

  9. Passtherockplease,
    “On the history of Scotland and the rationale for unification I was wrong to state that it was primarily due to debt.”

    History program the other day said it was pushed by Queen Anne, who had no heir and if there was no unification then the scots and english crowns might again become divided because of different rules of succession. Remembering that at this point English monarchs still exercised real power and were very conscious of keeping it. It was accomplished by massive bribery aganst the will of the scots people.

    The goal of English policy has always been to split Scots from other european powers who histoircally have been enemies of England (well, who hasnt). But scotland was always a risk because it was the ony independent nation with a land border to England.

    “There isn’t an easy answer to this since it is a complex issue of liberties versus health versus the economy. ”

    I’m afraid I dont agree. Maintaining a healthy population and preventing early death has always been dependent upon a healthy economy. Kill the economy and you increase deaths. The choice has always been between deaths caused by covid or deaths caused by lockdown.

    My view is that deaths from covid have always been exaggerate, while deaths from lockdown deliberately understated. It depends how long, of course, and whether lockdown really saves any lives at all, but it seems most likely what we have done will have killed more not less.

  10. UK covid cases down another thousand and half the reported deaths.
    Appreciate that it’s the weekend but these figures aren’t the 100 increase suggested from last week closer to 30% cases and 10 less deaths.

  11. Just been reading about vaccines.

    As I understand it, the way a vaccine works is you inject something which is part of, or disabled, or similar to the orgnism you want to create a response to. The body sees it, creates its own cells to trap it, and then these are ready if the real thing comes along.

    So okay…you inject something into the blood and it creates an antibody response. The body creates cells to clean the blood of invaders.

    But suppose we have a virus which rapidly invades host cells. Antibodies arent much good against it because it very quickly hides inside cells. So a vaccine creating antibodies wont work well. Even in the face of a full viral invasion there isnt much in the blood to trigger it. Thats what we see with covid. Little or no antibody response.

    But how do you trigger a killer t cell response? Surely it ought to work by identifying infected cells, creating killer cells to target cells with that signature and destroy them.

    But how can you make a vaccine simulate that?

    You would have to create something which will invade body cells, trigger a response, and then your body starts killing its own cells. Thats a lot more damaging than just injecting something which floats about in the blood until it all gets used up.

    To trigger antibodies you can just inject enough dead virus bits. But to get a t cell response, you have to kill body cells. And kill enough of them that the body really reacts seriously.

    Is that actually possible without making people ill anyway?

    Is such a vaccine actually possible safely?

    A model like this explains why vaccines against at least many viruses simply wont work. Like this one, perhaps?

    Which would be awkward for a government whose strategy is to create a vaccine.

  12. Breaking news:
    Village idiot government minister says it’s an unfair question to ask a government minister what government policies are.

  13. UNITE cut funding to the Labour Party.

    Starmer is making all the right moves.

  14. @Danny

    “Whereas the same research found 80% amongst children last year, assumed because they get several cases a year.”

    Links to the evidence please.

    “The second is after herd immunity has been achieved. Herd immunity point is simple when R is less than 1. But at that level it could take months or years to die out slowly. If at that point you have a lockdown you can slash case numbers, and they will not grow back but resume dying out slowly after the lockdown.”

    Wrong. You know that’s wrong.

    Using the R number as any sort of indication of immunity is wrong. It’s a measure of suppression.

  15. @Danny

    “Just been reading about vaccines.”

    Goid, carry on. The ignorant can learn too!

  16. @IanH

    unusual privilege to have you about! The following are genuine questions (i.e. I have not idea of the answer!). Why do you think that the infection rate is apparently lower in London than in the North? (And similar issues seem to apply to New York, and possibly Madrid, although the rate seems high there). Other things being equal and given the low apparent degree to which the population in London has been infected, one would have thought that London should be the obvious place for the thing to start up again. Is it behaviour? The fact that the highest risk places have been taken out? The fact that cross-immunity etc means that a much lower rate of infection is needed to achieve ‘herd immunity’? Something else?

  17. @Colin

    And just as Pfizer are producing thousands of doses of coronavirus vaccine at their plant in Puurs Belgium too.

  18. Latest from King’s app,

    Well…. West Midlands region scored a 0.1 for R. Errors on their data still look pretty good, so it isnt because everyone has given up reporting. N. ireland has always had few respondents so the data jumps about a lot, but thats not what is happening here. Corresponding estimate of new daily cases is 1-7 per 100,000. For England its averaging 2-3 new daily cases per 100,000 of population and R=0.8

    One think is apparent on the regional new cases data, which now cover 11 months on the revised assessment basis. The graphs for cases from November onwards are very different comparing N and S england. In the N the lockdown in November, relaxation in December and reimposition in Jan seems to have been reflected in new cases, ie resurgence in December. This outbreak was about old variant covid which was aready declining naturally at the start of November lockdown.

    In the S the pattern is cases of new variant took off in November and lowed in December – the exact opposite and the exact opposite of the effect lockdown is intended to create. Assuming lockdown did not actually create more ready spread of new variant than no lockdown, I dont see what other expanation there except new variant simply spread so effectively lockdown had little effect, and it halted because it was already running out of new victims in December.

    They publish overall cases separately at

    Which has cases now about 35,000 total for UK. Compared to the peak in total cases at 12 Jan 2021 of 800,000, and in their first study of 2.2million last April.

    Cases now about the same as end of June 2020. A quick look at restrictions then suggests much the same as now. Overall the lesson of last year was releasing restrictions made no difference when released. They might as well have been released earlier.

    This time round, of course, we have vaccination, which we are told should slash the percentage of deaths. Yet we are acting as if no vaccinations at all had taken place.

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