YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph has topline voting intention figures (with changes from the last YouGov poll a week ago) of CON 43% (+2), LAB 32% (nc), LDEM 14% (nc). The last poll was a snap one done straight after the furore over the missing benefit data discs was announced, so that in itself showed a three point drop in Labour’s support. This poll suggests the earlier fall in Labour support has been sustained and now the Conservatives are starting to benefit from Labour’s woes.

The poll was conducted between Monday and Wednesday, but it’s important to note that in YouGov’s online polls at least half the responses tend to come in on the first day. While the story of David Abrahams’ donations to the Labour party was broken by the Mail on Sunday, the story has progressed through the week and most of the respondents to this poll would have filled it in before this had become the major crisis for the Labour party that it undoubtedly had become by mid-week. That means this probably isn’t reflecting the full damage that the funding row will end up doing…things are likely to get even worse for Labour.

Tony King’s analysis in the Telegraph reads to me to be somwhat over the top – “among the most devasting for any Government in the history of opinion polling”. I constantly caution people not to compare figures these days with figures from a decade or two ago prior to the major changes in polling methodology that came after the 1992 debacle, and you shouldn’t. But even if you ignore pre-reform polls, ICM recorded deficits of 25 points for the last Tory government. We really aren’t in that sort of league yet.

The 11 point Conservative lead is the largest that YouGov have ever recorded for the Conservatives. The underlying figures also show a shift against Labour, but not an unprecedented one. On the “forced choice” question, asking people to chose between a Brown-led Labour government and a Cameron-led Conservative one the Tories now have a seven point lead, but Cameron managed a nine-point lead in the same question against Tony Blair back in June 2006. The Conservatives have a one point lead on the economy, an improvement from the last couple of months when Labour had regained their lead…but on the same question the Tories had a 3 point lead in March 2007. The figures show that 60% of people think Labour are sleazy and disreputable, compared to only 31% who think the same about the Tories…but at the time of Lord Levy’s arrest in 2006 69% of people thought Labour were sleazy and disreputable. Gordon Brown’s net approval ratings are down to minus 36, about the same level as YouGov used to record for Tony Blair.

In putting the figures in context I am only trying to counteract some of the hyperbole about it being polling doomsday. Governments have seen worse, some of the underlying figures really aren’t that astounding, I’m not trying to say these figures aren’t awful for Labour, because they are. Essentially they are back where they were in the dying days of Tony Blair’s leadership. Labour were in a very weak position during Tony Blair’s long goodbye, but then at least they had the hope that Gordon Brown’s accession as Prime Minister would renew the government, be the change from Blair that people wanted. They can no longer look forward to the dour, Scottish hope charging over the horizon to save the day, now they have to fight with what they’ve got.

The rest of the figures are worse. 53% think Alistair Darling is doing a bad job as Chancellor with only 11% beliving he is doing a good job a net rating of minus 42. We obviously don’t have YouGov figures for the last Tory government to compare to, but to put it in some context the worst figures ever recorded by MORI were for Ken Clarke in 1994, when 17% thought he was doing a good job and 70% a bad job – a net rating of -53.

On competence 52% of people think the government is neither competent nor efficient, only 36% take the contrary view that they’ve just had bad luck and are basically competent. On specific subjects 89% think they have handled the missing data badly, 56% think they’ve handled the NHS badly, 64% the armed services, 68% criminal justice (with only 8% thinking they handled it well or excellently!), 54% Northern Rock, 78% asylum.

These are still figures from a poll conducted during a truly appalling period for the government. On another day when the newspapers aren’t full of negative stories about the government, when (as will happen in the fullness of time) the media are kicking the Conservatives or Lib Dems or whoever, Labour will do better. That said, given that the fieldwork for this poll was mostly conducted at the beginning of a week that got worse for Labour as it went on, things are quite likely to get worse first.

UPDATE: The sleaze question in this poll were actually done separately between Tuesday and Thursday and the voting intention figures are the combination of the two polls. There was no difference between the two, they both showed 43% to 32%. This means some of the fieldwork would have been carried out while Labour’s funding crisis was indeed in full flow. The likelihood is still that most of it was still done early in the week, so later polls may yet show things getting worse.

33 Responses to “YouGov give Conservatives double-digit lead”

  1. I think we can safely assume another poll ‘hit’ for Labour once the latest blow sinks in.It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a uniform drop in labour’s share in all polls or the least favourable Labour pollsters pick up a bigger drop.We’ve already had the CR poll showing Labour at 27%.

  2. I can only see things getting worse for Labour. House prices falling, and super-inflated train-fare rises in the New Year.

    One has a cynical side though. As a ‘Sarf Lunduner’ this will hit us pretty hard. Maybe a few “Blairite” seats will be lost in the long-term, but I feel Rusty Brown has a shorter-term objective: Bye-bye Red Ken!

  3. Anthony,

    What are the Scottish figures like.

    Given that Wendy Alexander has just admitted that she received an illegal donation from Paul Green who lives in the Channel Islands things could get worse for Labour in Scotland too.


  4. Weighted Moving Average:41:32:16 C Lead 8.4 which is the highest since June 05. On the retrospectives YouGov is seen to be very accurate, with a mean error of C lead of -0.04(!) and a Std Deviation of 1.8. It may seem amazing that 32% of the electorate say they’d vote Labour but this is falling steadily (down 9 points in 2 months) and it seems only a matter of time before it drops below 30%. Remember this poll was before the latest twists in the Abrahams fiasco.

  5. This is Paul Greens version,

    To be honest I think this is not a case of fraud even if illegal, but rather a symptom of party workers under pressure to get results not being vigilant enough or just trying to get ahead in their careers by getting the money in.

    Whether it be Brown or Alexander the front line Labour politicians must be pulling their hair out that people in their employ have just been so cavalier about something this important.

    I am sitting watching Tom McCabe squirming on Newsnight Scotland and to be honest I feel a huge amount of sympathy for Alexander as she tries to rescue some credibility from a complete mess that has her being torn to shreds.

    Given that she has lost two press agents in as many months and now parts of her campaign team and inner circle their is speculation that Wendy Alexander, the only candidate to be labour leader in Scotland, might not survive this.

    Like Brown I don’t think she was directly involved, but she like Brown should have made sure everything was above board. At the end of the day these Leadership campaigns were being run at the time of the cash for questions enquiry so they should have been double checking everything.

    So muddle or fiddle?, I am for muddle.

    Politician or not I don’t like to see it when people act like sharks when there is blood in the water. Unfortunately there is blood in the water.


  6. Very good analysis Anthony – same as i think – the POLLS will get more and more exciting as the weeks move towards Christmas / this funding item will grow bigger now that the Metropolitan Police are involved .

    Now would’nt it be a good Christmas present if the Queen intervened and dissolved the government – taking the choice of when to go to electorate out of Brown’s hands !!

    After all – this will now be the 2nd time this Labour government have had the police interviewing them at top level .

    Even if the election is in 2 years time – the skeletons in the Labour closet will slowly come out as the media go on a witch hunt during that time – then when the closet is finally opened in 2 years by the Tories – all sorts will come out – WATCH THIS SPACE !

  7. I’m convinced Labour’s position will become steadily worse over the course of the next month. Remember those disk’s containing the information of 25 million people still haven’t turned up and anything could happen with this debacle and the Labour funds fiasco. I’m expecting one of the major players, ICM, MORI, POPULUS or YouGov, to have Labour under 30% by Christmas. The position is becoming incredibly serious for Labour now.

  8. Based on these latest YouGov figures alone – not taking in the +3% for the Tories and the -3% in elections compared wilth POLLS – There are an interesting list of names in Labour and Liberal parties who’s heads will roll :-
    Mark Oaten
    Vincent Cable
    Susan Kramer

    Interesting that the Liberals have only had 2 POLLS showing them with an increase in support – they should be doing much better than 14% with all the media coverage they’ve had.

  9. There isn’t a +3 and -3. At the last election none of the pollsters were that far out, and certainly YouGov weren’t. (and Mark Oaten won’t be standing anyway, so he can’t lose!)

  10. YouGov are always worse for the Lib’s than any other pollster. But whichever way you look at it, the Tory revival is bad news for Liberals, and really it doesn’t matter how much the change their leader or come up with funny jokes at PMQ’s, at the moment we’re seeing a two horse race between Labour and Conservatives and its squeezing the Lib Dem vote. This will continue up to and including the election.

    However, the Lib’s still have their unique position as party of protest, so at local level, they should do alright, and of course when the Tories have been in power for a year or two, voters will start to go back to the Liberal Demorcrats to protest once again.

  11. So we just have to wait until June 2012 for the start of the LD recovery then?

  12. I wonder how many Labour activists and left-leaning journalists are desperately rooting around trying to dig up questions over Tory finances?

  13. GIN The 2 horse race between Labour and Conservatives in Rochdale last night resolved itself with the Conservative vote collapsing and dropping to 3rd place . I think we should wait and see what Mori and Populus bring but I have a feeling that Yougov will be isolated in their low LibDem ratings .
    If I am correct then perhaps we should be analysing why this is the case , I have a couple of theories concerning the nature of the restricted range of their panel base with a much greater number of political party members than the population as a whole but let us wait and see .

  14. Mark Senior
    Why Mark are you still trying to spin selected local by-election results as evidence that the opinion polls are wrong? Rochdale has- save in 2001 -been a Lib Dem enclave as far back to the days of Cyril Smith who I think was first elected the MP in 1973. Indeed at the last election in 2005 the Tories got just 10% of the vote.Need i say more.
    I will however say this about the Lib Dems-as the acting leader Vince Cable has been a revelation. He is head and shoulders above the two pygmies currently contesting the leadership post-why on earth Mark do the Lib Dems appear unable to sort themselves out at the top and why should the public vote for them until they do?

  15. “Grasping at straws” comes to mind Nick.

  16. I have seen another private poll, it doesn’t confirm
    what Mark wishes to see.
    That’s the most I can say.
    He must be pretty desperate if on every single poll
    he does a detailed spin on how good it is for the LDs.

    I think Vince Cable is doing well as Lib Dem leader,
    and this has been the reason for their slightly stronger opinion poll ratings since late September/early October.

    My best advice to them (to stem the squeeze) is to keep him in post.

  17. Mark,

    I think that that Lib Dem figure is to low but to suggest that a council by election result is silly.

  18. Anybody want to buy my Labour Memebership card off me? It’s a collectable – very rare!

    In all seriousness, it’s looking pretty bad but I still think it’s retrievable. I thought that finance minister on QT last night did a stirling job of defending the indefensible last night.

    What I’m really praying for now is that some of the more rightwing Tories will get over confident and start speaking up a bit. That’s the one thing that could really destroy Cameron’s lead. (fingers crossed)

  19. Mark Senior, we know that its difficult to draw too many conclussions from national local elections, never mind a handful of individual local bye-elections. Nevertheless, its to be expected that the Lib-Dem’s will continue to do well as the third party at the local level. The situation would be somewhat differant at a national general election, as we all realise.

    The Rochdale result does open up one interesting possibility, that Labour may become so unpopular that we could start to see tactical voting against Labour, similar to that what we saw in the 1990’s against the Conservatives. If that happens, the Lib’s vote may hold up OK in Labour’s Northern Heartlands, but conversely, the Lib’s vote may collapse in the south. Personally I don’t think Labour are unpopular enough to suffer from such tactical voting, yet, but it could happen.

  20. Nick the Middleton byelection is not in Rochdale constituency but in Heywood and Middleton a relatively safe Labour seat with Conservatives 2nd narrowly ahead of the LibDems . I am sure that you must be scratching your heads looking at the polls showing an upsurge in Conservative support and then wondering why when they get the chance to show that support they feel so strongly that they can’t be bothered to get out of their armchairs . Looks like support based on a foundation of quicksand to me .

  21. Steven Wheeler has a point. There could and surely will be a quieter period when the government will see the polls move back towards Labour.
    I think this has been a close situation throughout 2007 actually, and the supposedly big changes one way or the other have been less dramatic in reality.

    But the Tories do seem to have a fairly good chance of stabilising on 40 or more, and I do doubt that Labour will gain enjoy the kind of unassailable leads that seemed to be building up at the end of August and in September.

    This is likely to remain an open election with a close race all the way.

  22. The 36% who believe that Labour has ahd a run of bad luck but is basically competent interests me. Clearly, it weill include many “core” supporters, but there must also be quite a few people who think “well, OK, they may be competent, but I’d vote Conservative/LibDem/Other to-morrow despite that. In other words, it would be more worrying for Labour if they were scoring high in the competence charts, and low in the voting intention one. Darling’s first budget, the outcome of Northern Rock, and of the CGT controversy might still improve his score. Whether such improvement would transfer to the voting intention is debatable.

    Stephen – I can’t see the “right-wing whackadoo” types (fewer by the month I’d have thought anyway) ruining it for Cameron unless the lead reduces considerably first.

  23. Stephen
    Put membership card on ebay, quickly before the rush begins.
    You might get 5 grand for it.

    John’s right, the Tories are not as divided as Labour supporters would like to think. The old f…ts are few and far between and pretty much marginalised where it matters. They only have to think of Brown; a common enemy. He is so utterly loathed by them all, regardless of the shade of blue. They don’t seem to take into account he gave their young general a new lease of life. Ungrateful wretches.

  24. “Looks like support based on a foundation of quicksand to me .”

    It could well be, we’ll have to wait and see.Personally I think it’ll take the economy to take a hit to firm up Tory support above 40% come the general election.

    As for Mark R’s comment about the Queen dissolving parliament, do calm down. You’re letting the Tory blogsphere’s current hysteria get the better of you.It was only August when people were seriously questioning Cameron.

  25. Steven

    A heartfelt cry!
    Actually I thought Caroline Flint did a good job on QT.I thought the anger she expressed seemed genuine .She made be begin to think along the lines Peter Cairns outlined upthread.I think there has been some appalling complacency & arrogance.There may well have been some deliberate & conscious concealment-but I don’t think the PM is guilty of the latter.

    As has been said I think you can forget about a posse of old farts proposing withdrawal from EU and the flogging of illegal immigrants coming to your rescue.

    But I do think your prospects are still in your own hands to some extent judging by this Poll. Labour has spectacularly lost it’s competence credentials-but the Tories haven’t picked them up. DC isn’t even gaining much ground on the “Good Leader” question.

    Less cock-ups would level the playing field.

    On the downside Immigration & Crime are big negatives for Labour-both strong Conservative territory.The economy looks set to go south-be it slow or fast that will rub off on Darling & Brown (who I think is perceived as the real Chancellor!).

    I suspect you will have to wait until after the Council Tax increases/Local Authority elections before Labour can start to retrieve things-six months isn’t long to wait though!

  26. Mark,

    You need to look at overall vote shares with local by-elections, rather than gains and losses, or big swings in individual seats.

    Currently, PA estimate Conservatives support at about 40%, and Labour support at about 30%, which is consistent with recent opinion polls. The Lib Dems are on 23%, which is above their opinion poll rating, but then, it’s well established that the Lib Dems do better in local elections than in Parliamentary ones.

  27. Sean , I totally agree overall vote shares are the more imortant and also that LibDem vote share is higher in local than Parliamentary contests ( though there are exceptions where a LibDem MP can reverse this ) . My estimate is 4-5% higher which would put LibDems at 18-19% nationally in line with Comres/ICM and not Yougov .
    I have some interesting analysis of the last 3 polls but will wait for Populus to come out and possibly Mori before discussing it .

  28. Ipsos-MORI reporting:

    ‘Absolutely certain to vote’

    CON 41% (+1); LAB 32% (-3); LDEM 17% (+4)

    ‘All naming a party’

    LAB 37% (-1); CON 36% (n/c); LDEM 17% (+3)

  29. IPSOS-MORI have just given the Conservatives a 9-point lead.

  30. The above results are C 41 (+1), Lab 32 (-3), LD 17 (+4), others 10 (+2).

  31. The full YouGov results are up and the Scotland figures are;

    Labour 36%, Tory 18%, LibDem 9%, SNP 32%, Others 5%.

    In most of the Uk Labour and the Tories make up 78% of the vote (80% in the North the only area Labour are ahead in England).

    In Scotland it is the SNP and Labour that make up 68% of the vote. Not as high as England but it is a four party system. It still looks like a two horse race in Scotland with both the LibDems and Tories being squeezed.

    The LibDem figure of 9% wouldn’t be much different from their UK showing in a three party system.

    It shows Labour as ahead of the SNP, but in general terms 36% isn’t a good score for labour in Scotland. Given the fall out over Wendy Alexander and donations i wouldn’t be surprised if we get a poll in one of the Scottish Sunday papers.


  32. Stating the obvious. A lot of Labour’s support in England comes from Muslims who are increasingly radical ( well after Bosnia can you blame them). A lot of Labour’s money seems to be coming from Jewish sources , none of whom are vocal in condemning Israel. Draw your own conclusions.

  33. Wolf,

    From the way you represent it, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Labour is part of a secret anti Israel militant Muslim conspiracy.

    Problem with that theory is….. it’s completely loopy.