YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph has topline figures, with changes from the previous YouGov poll, of CON 41%(-3), LAB 31%(-1), LDEM 15%(+1).

While the poll still shows them at 40% and with a double point lead, the poll suggests a slight fall in Tory support. It’ll be interesting to see if that is reflected in other polls, although sympathy for David Cameron’s loss of his son Ivan may well lead to some temporary blips in figures anyway (a lot of the fieldwork for this poll would have been conducted before people had seen the news).

It looks as though “others” are also up in the poll. This follows a similar pattern to some of the other recent polls. You may remember that Populus’s last poll showed the BNP moving up. Given that support for minor parties fluctuates rather a lot in polls, I warned that the Populus poll alone didn’t mean much, but it’s worth keeping an eye on in case a pattern does emerge.

Other questions in the poll showed Gordon Brown’s approval rating continuing to fall, the Conservative lead on handling the present economic crisis increasing, and that 48% of people thought Ken Clarke would make a better business secretary than Peter Mandelson, with only 17% prefering Mandelson.

The Telegraph headlines on a finding that immigration was supposedly the top issue people want dealing with – the actual question asked isn’t stated in the report, but I’d be incredibly surprised if immigration was seen as a more important issue than the economy. I suspect it was the most important issue out of a list that didn’t include sorting out the economic crisis…

19 Responses to “YouGov’s February Poll”

  1. As you say, we will need to see the exact questions asked, but most people’s view of the economy revolves around things like whether their own job (and those of friends and relatives) is safe. They look at the number of immigrants in the country, and wonder how many jobs they are taking that could be available for native British people.
    Therefore immigration is intricately wrapped with the economy in most people’s experience.

    Also, people aren’t stupid. If nearly 10% (on official figures, likely underestimated) are first-generation immigrants, what percentage would it be if you include second- and third-generations?

    I can see why people are concerned about this issue, and why BNP support is on the increase. The change in the cultural and ethnic make-up of the country since the 1950s and 60s is staggering. Politicians ignore the effect on the indigenous population at their peril,

  2. Interesting. It certainly seems strange that immigration registers higher that the economic crisis though, as Pete B says, it’s a hugely important issue and one that needs sorting decisively and fast. We need to see the wording and the options available in that particular question.

  3. “What percentage would it be if you include second- and third-generations?”

    Why stop there?w

    Why not fourth or fifth, all those people from before that used to get blamed, like Irish and Jews.

    If you want to go back at all the only reason to only go back and draw a line where you do would be colour. Can we really count people who have lived in this country longer than the age of the average worker.

    How much tax have they paid, how many jobs have they created. Should a retired Asian businessman who has created a business that employs hundreds be treated as less British than an unemployed teenager.

    Immigration is falling and fast and I fully expect that the number leaving this year will be far larger than entering, especially as both construction and leisure are shrinking.

    However, while we are tightening up on immigration I wonder if we will be targeting emmigration as well.

    Are we really going to let skilled people leave when we need them. Maybe we should put a sort of inheritance tax on people wanting to leave.

    Then there are all those that left in the good years, if things go bad where they went, should we let them back in.

    Our should we say to skilled workers and pensioners that left, “You made your bed now lie in it”.

    As you may have guessed like my party I don’t have an issue with immigration or the free flow of people in and out of the UK or Scotland.

    I don’t know how many people saw it a week or two back that post Independence there might be border posts between Scotland and England.

    Now that is a claim that the SNP has always said was nonsense, as two EU countries we would have an open border, Scotland happy to accept that anyone coming from England had a legitimate right to be there and therefore to come to Scotland.

    However the border story came from Westminster where it would be the UK government that put up customs posts because of fears that Scotland would become the “Backdoor in to Britain”.

    Immigration may well be an issue with a minority of people but it is based very much anecdote rather than fact and it is a lot more of an issue in the South than in Scotland.


  4. Peter – Are there enough people in Scotland in order to grow economically at optimum rates in the future?

    Perception in the south is that the UK as a whole has too many (particularly too many older people). Does the SNP have any targets for population growth?

    The fighting over jobs at ports hasn’t exactly taken root – perhaps those involved actually heard the truth – that the UK is a net exporter of workers and woiuld be a big loser if protectionism reared its heads.

  5. Could I ask some basic questions? Does this poll, and indeed do other polls, take its sample from the entire United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland)? If so, since the nationalist parties and all the Northern Ireland parties are restricted to sparsely populated parts of the Kingdom, shouldn’t the figures be presented separately for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? What is largely going to determine the result of the next general election is the polling in England and it would be interesting to see the figures for that area only, from poll to poll, uncluttered by various minority parties which do not field candidates there.

  6. John TT,

    As Alex Salmond said ” Scotland isn’t full”.

    We have 5 million people in a third of the UK. We also, like elsewhere, have an ageing population so we do need to expand and change the population profile.

    Over the next twenty years we need to attract young people of working age who want to live here and have families who will go on to live and work here and have families of their own.

    Post independence I would like to think that many of them would come from elsewhere in the Uk and to be honest if the mood stays as it is I wouldn’t be surprised if an above average share of them came from second and third generation UK immigrants.

    I’d also expect that if we get the economy right ( Yes I did say If), we could attract Scots from abroad, although if we do get the open borders that we want i think a lot of people will travel and work as if the border didn’t exist.


  7. Thanks Peter. So a Scottish poll could conceivably put immigration high up the list, but with the opposite attitude, namely that young talent is required for growth. “Not full” isn’t quite the same as “under-populated”.

    I would imagine a newly independent Scotland could well attract back many ex-pats, for all sorts of reasons.

    Obviously that would be a more manageable development than the wholesale immigration of non-English speaking talent – the question is really how to manage the process of change so that ignorance and fear are minimised.

  8. Christopher – no, practically all polls only cover Great Britain and exclude Northern Ireland from the sample.

  9. @ Peter Cairns – “Immigration may well be an issue with a minority of people”

    Neat bit of slipperiness there. Clearly it’s not only “an issue with a minority of people”.

    The rest of your comment is a daft Derridean deconstruction worthy of The Guardian c.1998.

  10. Re immigration; I always find it interesting that we forget it is two way street

    a) according to OECD figures we have the second highest about of people living in other countries at 3.2 million (other than Mexico 3.8 million). That’s more than the amount of migrants in the country so if migrants are all evil as the tabloid press is inclined to argue, we are doing it better than anyone else.

    So if migrants are bad how will we deal with the population increase when all UK migrants are sent home to the UK??? (Okay, a joke, but you see my point that we actually have more UK people out of the country than we have migrants in the country…)

    b) My second point is that when the issue of migration is raised normally the next comment is a ‘grass is greener comment’ and the person says they are thinking of migrating to Australia; forgetting that makes them a migrant. And worth noting that a half of all Australians are either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. A mixed population can happily work together…

  11. John TT

    “the question is really how to manage the process of change so that ignorance and fear are minimised”

    … OR the very real fears (not always borne of ignorance) of overcrowding, drain on services, too-swift cultural shift and disease control.

    You don’t have to be a foaming mouthed racist loon to find excessive, unmanaged immigration to be a problem. Indeed you would have to be a bit of a loon not to!


    I take your point but would just point out that a good result has been obtained from immigration in Australia using very, very strict controls on who is allowed in.

    No such measures have been taken in the UK.

    For all I know we’ve been leaking millions of highly educated, hard working and literate emigrees and ‘taking in’ millions of ill-educated and illiterate layabouts.

    Point is, we wouldn’t know.

  12. Ivan – I neither said that “fear” was not “real”, nor that fear is “borne” of ignorance.

    Minimising fear and ignorance by using appropriate management is the key.

    I assume you were directing “excessive” at some-one else.

    Mouth-froth is immaterial.

  13. @all

    Surely the point is not what our own personal opinions might be, but the fact that there are reasons (whether you agree with them or not) why many people think immigration is an important issue. This may well influence how they vote – particularly if only one party is seen to be taking a strong line on the matter.

  14. Well said Pete B.

    It is very easy to characterise someone elses concerns as being due to”fear & ignorance”.

    There may well be “fear”-and local politicians should ask why it exists-not tie it conveniently to “ignorance” so that it can be discounted.

    The blanket characterisation of immigration as “good” or “bad” , and the unfortunate conflation with attitudes to “race” has done much harm.

    If people have concerns about immigration in their locality, it may well be because it is impacting their lives in a way they see as detrimental-the availability of jobs or municipal housing for example .

    Any local politician who ignores such concerns, leaves the way open for the BNP to exploit them.

    And any national politician who, from his ivory tower tells people that their fears are born of ignorance, and racist attitudes, puts us all at risk.

  15. Historically, the subject of immigration has been (deliberately ?) linked with race – which gives rise to the misplaced “fear and ignorance” approach.

    Attitudes to migration (both “im..” and “em..”) are usually coloured by one’s local experience and perception. While some of this influence may be cultural, hence the ability to exploit the “race” angle,
    in the main it is an economic matter – in particular as regards infrastructure – ie housing, schools and other public services.

    There may be sound economic reasons for promoting immigration, but these need to be looked at in full context – i.e. the impact on infrastructure as well as GDP. There should be a reasoned debate as to what level of net migration is desirable – and on what grounds. It should be part of a national vision for economic and population development. That is something that we have not had, with uncontrolled migration being used to boost aggregate GDP with no consideration for either per-capita GDP or the ability of the country to absorb and support increased population.

    Also, any government which ignores the cultural element, and represses any attempt to discuss it, is storing up potentially explosive problems for the future. That merely plays into the hands of parties like the BNP – as can be seen in recent years.

    Finally, just to reinforce that immigration and race truly are separate issues, most recent immigrants have been from Eastern Europe, while there are now many second and third generation Britons of Asian or African origin. The best way to confront the racist element is by addressing migration related issues, in particular their impact on jobs, housing and public services, openly.

    Oh, and there is now also an EU angle to this debate. What is the point in controlling migration from non-EU countries when any EU citizen can move here without let or hindrance (unless they are a Dutch MP) ? Maybe that’s why the government gave up on border control ?

  16. @ Pete B – you’re right, and I think there are various reasons why people are concerned about the staggeringly high levels of immigration in the last decade.

    1) Added competition for jobs, undercutting of wages etc

    2) Multiculturalism, especially of the sort that manifests in calls for Shariah law

    3) A feeling of alienation when people see neighbourhoods and even entire cities drastically change demographically within a very short space of time

    4) A view that certain minority populations constitute a Fifth Column

    Some people hold all of those views. Others hold only one or two of them.

  17. @ James Ludlow,

    Could not have put it better myself, these are the very reasons why people are concerned about the levels of immigration to this country, and in particular the uncontrolled nature of immigration. I do think that the subject, although partly social, is also inextricably linked with economic matters, and so it is bound to have an effect on the way people vote.

  18. Weighted Moving Average 43:30:17. It seems extraordinary that Labour support is still 30% and that Ipsos/Mori could have been so wrong on the 15th (a Retrospective error in the CLead of +6 from a pollster that has an anti-C bias of nearly 1) but it appears so.

    I’d expect the next poll to show something more like 44:29:17 but we shall see.

  19. Brown’s personal ratings continue to decline, but coupled with the previous ICM poll there is a slight but distinct improvement in Labour’s position vis a vis the Tories, even though the actual share of the vote is down. No Labour person however would be happy if any amelioration in the Party’s position is down merely to the BNP doing too well. The best one can say is that, as things stand, Labour’s prospects are still short of completely hopeless.