There’s an interesting MORI question in Total Politics here: they asked people to imagine that at the next election the candidate of the party they would normally vote for had been caught up in the expenses scandal, would they still vote for the party they wanted to win the election? 53% said yes, 38% said no, they would vote for a different candidate.

That implies a major effect – the majority of MPs would be defeated if 38% of their supporters went elsewhere. I suspect, however, that this vastly over-estimates the effect we’ll see in reality. If asked a question about the expenses scandal most respondents are probably imagining the “big ticket” headline scandals, the duck houses, moats and non-existant mortgages. The MPs who had to pay back a couple of hundred quid for accidentally claiming something twice probably don’t come into it.

There are 148 MPs seeking re-election who had to repay more than £1000 pounds of misclaimed expenses. Taking the worst cases, there are only 29 seeking re-election who repaid more than £5000. Therefore, in the vast majority of seats, expenses will not be an issue for a single candidate (it may still have coloured peoples attitudes to the government, or the political system as a whole, but there won’t be one candidate with a huge expenses issue round their neck). I expect local supporters of the party the MP represents will also be more likely to convince themselves that their MPs was unfairly traduced, or had a good explanation.

There was also a significant party difference – supporters of the Conservatives or Labour party were far less likely to care if the candidate in their own seat was implicated in the expenses scandal (or at least, less likely to vote against them if they are!). Liberal Democrat supporters were far more likely to vote against a Lib Dem MP involved in the scandal, but there are fewer of them anyway (looking at the list of eventual repayments there are no LD incumbenets seeking re-election who had to repay more than £5000, and ten who had to repay between £1000 and £5000).

I would still not expect the expenses scandal to produce more than a couple of particularly unusual constituency results.

(hat tip to Iain Dale, and observe the beautiful example of TFAQ number 4 under the Total politics story)

172 Responses to “Ipsos MORI poll on expenses”

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  1. “The YouGov 10% can not be described as a rogue. It was within the same range as other polls.”

    True. I guess what I meant personally by ‘rogue’ was that the voting would probably settle down more after a few days. I agree that it is unlikely that both polls were outliers though.

    “Today Sun Report

    DAVID Cameron is winning the crucial “grey vote”, a poll showed last night.

    The Tory leader has a 22pt lead with the over-55s – those most likely to vote in the election – after pledges on winter fuel payments, bus passes and free TV licences.

    The Age Concern and Help the Aged poll has the Tories at 46 per cent, Labour on 24 per cent and the Lib Dems on 16.

    That doesn’t surprise me. A lot of older people hold conservative social views. They are also more likely to be religious.

  2. I expect a small narrowing in the lead, with Labour perhaps reaching 31% of the vote. I still expect the Tories to remain 7 or 8% ahead, however.

    I’d say if the Tories can keep a 9 or 10 point lead after the past few days, we could be more confident that they have a very good chance of achieving a majority. A 7 or 8 point lead would obviously please Labour supporters more and take us just short of a Conservative majority.


    There are some unpleasant comments developing on this thread; I particularly object to Bill Roy’s comments on homosexuals and ‘going to live in Australia’. I’d be grateful if you could do something about this as much asI enjoy this site I do find the way the comment section is going unfortunate!

  4. Sean Fear – “Final comment. Still think it’s strange that everyone happily saw the 10% YouGov lead as a real result and not a rogue. I predict 6% next.”
    It’s part of a trend.
    As were the two pointers Sean, which was in fact my point

  5. David B – please retract your comment on me immediately – I have not made any comments regarding homosexuals or going to live in Australia.

    Please retract immediately your comments!

  6. “Sean Fear – “Final comment. Still think it’s strange that everyone happily saw the 10% YouGov lead as a real result and not a rogue. I predict 6% next.”
    It’s part of a trend.
    As were the two pointers Sean, which was in fact my point”

    To be fair, most Labour supporters have been just as guilty as Tories when it comes to ignoring polls when they show what they don’t want to see!!! I think most people, by their very nature, see what they want to see.

  7. @Matt,

    I would be inclined to disagree… I thought the 10% was accepted by all.

  8. @DAVID B
    I made the comment not Bill Roy. Further more I do not retract one word of it. Get a sense of humour, get a life and dont treat this site as if we are living in Stalins Russia.

  9. “I would be inclined to disagree… I thought the 10% was accepted by all.”

    I would agree with you on the last poll. However, in most cases previous polls have been interpreted according to the political orientation of the holder.

  10. Peter Warwick – “Final comment. Still think it’s strange that everyone happily saw the 10% YouGov lead as a real result and not a rogue. I predict 6% next.”
    I think the two point lead was seen as a rogue, not simply because it showed a small lead, but because it was so out of line with all the other polling companies; the ten point lead actually brought itself back in line with other pollsters, in the same way that the AR poll is seen as having more credibility because its fallen in line with other pollsters.

    Thank you for perfectly illustrating my point. 2 points suited labour and there were three of them remember (and a one according to AW) You all shouted the loudest that they were rogues
    10 suited the Tories and not ONE comment on how quickly YouGov had gone from 7 to 10.
    If you want to comment on a pollin g website, you really need to trust that the polls have some validity.

  11. Roland Haines – I have no problem with your comments at all, I just will not accept being accused of something that I have nothing to do with. But perhaps it was just another ‘mis-speak’ ?

    Either way an immediate apolgy from DavidB would I feel not be too much to expect.

  12. EOIN – The 10% was out of line for YouGov – if it was part of a trend we’ll know soon enough. My point was that when YouGov fell into line with the others so quickly that was fine, but not when it was going in the other direction t was roundly abused. What’s more, the “others” it fell into line with had broadly been giving a lead as unrepresentative of the Tory position as YouGov had allegedly been giving Labour

  13. Anthony,

    Are you not concerned that this site is just going to get ultra partisan in the run up to the election? Not sure how you will control it?!

    There is already a few blinkered Tory posters on the right, as well as Rebecca Dunlop and Legoman on the Labour left to name a couple of obvious ones.


  14. @BILL ROY
    I fully understand Bill, if he was so upset poor baby, you would think he would have got the culprits name right. This kind of police state PC is just totally unacceptable and these people get no change from me.

  15. The MORI question seems flawed to me, since the question asks about “the party you would normally vote for”, while the answer options refer to “the party you want to win the election”, which may not be the same party. When breaking down the figures by party, they have apparently done so according to current voting intention and past vote, which may each be different again.

  16. Pink News have published a poll – 1200 respondents following Grayling ‘gaffe’.

    Con: 20% (-5)
    Lab: 28% (nc)
    LD: 29% (+5)

    (change from 1 month ago)

    Official estimate of gay/lesbian population c. 6%

  17. Greengrass – good find, it shows that Cameron will lose no sleep over this then.

  18. Greengrass – just worked the figures as per 2005 General election. Voter turnout in England, Scotland, & Wales was 26,433,655

    Calculating on this figure

    26,433,655 x 0.06


    Were going to vote Conservative (25%)


    Now not going to vote Conservative because of comment (20%)


    That is a total loss at the polls (on a knee jerk reaction) of 0.3% of total voters in 2005. Most of whom will return I would imagine when the human knee jerk reaction subsides.

  19. @BillRoy

    My impression is that DC’s poor performance in the Gay News interview shown on C4 has also contributed, in which case it would not just be a knee-jerk reaction.

    I would also hazard a guess that it might have a knock-on effect on non-gays who are sympathetic to the gay community. It would be interesting to see if one of the pollsters asks the question.

  20. Greengrass,

    polls like those are without context, authentication, transparency or proven rigour.

    Saying that, I do not anticipate a big impact from the Grayling furore

  21. @Eoin

    “polls like those are without context, authentication, transparency or proven rigour.”

    From which one deduces – what?

    Disagree that it is without context though – and in what way is it opaque?

  22. @GreenG,

    Who conducted the poll? ie, which polling company?

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