I haven’t posted the daily YouGov figures for much of this week – simply because there hasn’t been much change – but after a while that itself is noteworthy. For the last three days YouGov has showed the Conservatives with a 2 point lead over Labour, with the Conservatives on 40-41%, Labour on 38-39% and the Liberal Democrats on 11-12%. If there ever really was a slight narrowing of the Conservative lead after the spending cuts it rapidly disappeared again – YouGov’s polls now are basically identical to those before the spending review.

The political debate for most of the week has been about housing benefit, which clearly hasn’t had any effect on support – not that we would expect it to. Straight after the budget in June when the housing benefit cap was first announced YouGov found 78% of people supporting it, ICM found 68% of people supported the cap. YouGov asked again in August as part of a poll to mark David Cameron’s 100 days in power and found 72% in support.

Of course, that was two months ago and it’s possible the focus on people in London losing their homes may have changed opinions… but I wouldn’t count on it. I expect we’ll see some more up to date polling on housing benefit sooner rather than later.

Public Sector voters

There was also a rather unremarked methodology shift from one of the pollsters this week. Back in 2008 when MORI reviewed their methodology after wrongly showing Ken Livingstone ahead in the London mayoral race, they discovered they had too many public sector workers in their telephone samples and started weighting according to it (quite drastically, it’s sometimes a case of almost halving the number of public sector workers). At the time I pondered whether, if MORI have too many public sector workers in their phone polls, would other phone pollsters have similar problems? At the time Andrew Cooper of Populus pointed out – correctly – that it was worth looking at but if there was a problem it shouldn’t affect voting intention as past vote weighting should sort that out.

Well, this month Populus have gone down MORI’s route and weighted their poll by public and private sector employment. As with MORI’s experience, it’s quite a big shift, weighting public service employees down from 19% of the sample to 12%. This may well still not make any difference to voting intention, but it might well make an impact on questions about the cuts, were there are big differences between public and private sector opinions – for example, Populus found 46% of private sector employees thought the cuts were fair, but only 27% of public sector employees.

Voting intention amongst public sector employees is hard to judge, since the sample size of public sector voters in standard polls is often under 200, so is very volatile (for example, this month Populus found the Lib Dems on 17% amongst public sector voters, ICM found them on 8%). Looking at the handful of polls in recent months that have included a public sector cross break though the rough position seems to be that the Conservatives are at around 25%-30% and Labour around 45%-50%. The polls from the last Parliament showing the Conservatives ahead amongst public sector workers seem to be a distant memory.


Today there have been a couple of interesting posts by Mike Smithson and James Frayne on how salient an issue Europe is, or more to the point, how salient an issue it isn’t. Essentially there is no conflict between their views. Europe is, as Mike says, an issue of very low salience that currently excites no one but Conservative diehards and some UKIP supporters (yes, only some, YouGov polling at the time of the last European election suggested that many UKIP voters were more motivated by immigration than Europe as an issue). However, James is also correct that it has potential to be more salient – you only need to look at the graph Mike uses to illustrate his piece to see that back in the 1990s more than 30% of people used to cite Europe as one of the most important issues facing the country.

248 Responses to “End of the week round up”

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  1. Ha – Danny Alexander’s team reads UKPR too. He copied my red squirrel quip. 8-)

  2. Harman has an excellent record of service to the country and the Labour party going back many years, and can with reason feel that she was unjustly side-lined for long periods during the Blair years.

    She has badly let the side down this time… it is a shame that there was nobody to put a line through the pathetic rabble-rousing rhetoric before it went out. Her friends may forgive her quickly, but she has done damage, and totally misjudged the tone that is required from the frontline of leadership. I wonder if there is a senoir Labour figure who can put her back in her box for a while.


    You misunderstood. Of course the armed forces are “killers”, or are there to support them. Otherwise there is no point in having them.

    The number of ex-forces people in prison, because they haven’t been through rehabilitation to fit into civilian life is horrendous – and fairly typical of the way callous politicians treat those who serve their interests.

    So not a joke, but seeing Eoin’s (?) comment in a different light.

    I’m sorry you were offended, but the above is the context I had in mind when making the comment.

    Incidentally, I don’t want a pacifist Scotland. Simply one with armed forces appropriate to our (non-imperialist needs).

    When they are called into action – whether defending installations against terrorism, or involved in UN military interventions – I don’t want them to be peace-loving hippies, but highly trained and disciplined killers, when that is required.

  4. Syzgy,

    Great post.

  5. Going beyond the obvious fascination with the offensive remarks HH made, aren’t we missing the fact that her speech obviously means Labour have ruled out any coalition with the LDs either in Scotland or in the foreseeable future anywhere else?

  6. I find this “ginger” business a little down market for this board, but having said that, there is some justice in it. This fiercely stupid woman, born with a silver spoon quite as long as Dave’s, masquerading as a woman of the people, deserves this. She is a ring leader in PC’s invention and a bastion of its continuation. What a fool.

  7. Julian,

    I certainly think your are now correct for Scotland at least. I would not underestimate the lure of power at w-minster bringing the two together. Leaders dont lead paties forever.. perhpas we could stipulate that they first remove Clegg?

  8. Eoin

    Has Harman destroyed your dream of Brit Labour fighting elections in NI? After all, 46% of Irish carry the recessive gene for red hair as opposed to only 40% of Scots! :-)

  9. @EOIN
    I do not wish to push the fact that I am a major strategist, but I think some policies which appeal and a significant increase in the polls is required, before you lot demand anything from anyone.

  10. colin

    you are very quick

    2 mins to read a post, check the link and reply

    if i was not certain of your high values i would suspect that you replied before you read the link

  11. “Has the coalition got Labour rattled”

    I just HAD to pop up to say

    “Oh puuurrrlleaaassee.”

    What exactly about their total mash up of the last few days was rattly?

    I’d lay bets that more people laugh at Hatties quip than don’t. Those that don’t will ALL be Tories. Or rodents. (probably best I don’t go on to make the obvious connection there……)

  12. News just through from Westminister, Hazel Blears is taking Harriet Harman to The Court Of Human Rights
    (ginger division) in the Hague, for hurt feelings.
    “Miss Blears was quoted as saying “I am not even a squirrel, I am a bleedin chipmunk”.

  13. @sue

    My Mrs has red hair and votes labour.

    She ain’t happy with what HH said.

    I’m sure she will be grateful that you pointed out she has to be a rodent.

  14. Old Nat

    ” though typing (Fe) might have served. ”

    :-) :-) :-)

  15. Richard in Norway

    “if i was not certain of your high values i would suspect that you replied before you read the link”

    Well I am at least grateful for your caveat !

    It didn’t need long-the picture & the tag line were enough for me.

  16. Sue Marsh

    “I’d lay bets that more people laugh at Hatties quip than don’t.”

    I’d agree with you – but most of these people would be from your part of the world rather than mine.

  17. dawve30 – I Don’t believe a word of it. Tomorrow’s chip paper.

  18. sue

    was the remark offensive, hell yes

    was the remark funny, very much so

    will the remark hurt labour, in a million years

    will the remark hurt DA, only if he doesn’t take it in a jovial spirit

  19. @Julian
    sorry for the late reply – too busy walking the Northumberland moors today; I could have strayed in to Scotland though which once would have been an act of war. No I am not a federalist – if that did happen then I would welcome it, but just getting UKIPers and 1/2 the Tory Party to just see the sense of co-operating with our neighbours is enough of an effort. History is on our side though, we no longer have a Keep Mercia Free of the East Angles campaign, and even England is united despite its regional roots in different cultures (Celtic, Anglo Saxon & Danish) – the SNP want a separate Scotland, but we no longer hear about Highlanders wanting separation from Lowlanders. So life moves on, and just as villages united to create Counties, and Counties became Kingdoms – so too will European States in time (my guess at least 500 years) become a Federation – of course it helps if you know the definition of Federation which is of course not a Union

  20. Sorry OldNat, you are not a Scottish Labour voter. I’d warrant some of them are still laughing now ;)

    “I’d lay bets that more people laugh at Hatties quip than don’t. Those that don’t will ALL be Tories. Or rodents. (probably best I don’t go on to make the obvious connection there……)”

    A not very mature comment from you. Yes a majority may laugh but you should know it is often the minority that feel more strongly that when upset tend to change their voting behaviour.

    If you had listened to local radio programmes in Scotland this pm you would realise that HH has done a lot of harm to Labour in Scotland not least because c14% of Scots have red hair. Also throughout the UK children with red hair tend to be bullied and many of them now adults, or their parents will not appreciate HH’s comments.

    I agree with everything you said although I think it might be shorter than 500 years. A bit shorter anyway.

  23. Sue

    You miss the point.

    Labour tribalists will vote that way anyway – no matter how often they are disparaged, insulted, and sidelined. They would do that, whether Harman had stayed dahn sarf, or come up here to be objectionable.

    The political stupidity of her making the remark is that there are a large number of voters who transfer their votes between SNP and Labour depending on the election involved and the issues in their consciousness at the time.

    That Harman wants to portray Labour as an “English” party in the same way that the Tories are seen to be, is simply political incompetence.

  24. @Sue

    I’m a nationalist, but my Mrs votes labour.

    After being bullied about her red hair at school she was offended by what HH said.

    Fortunately that’s for her to decide and not you.

  25. I’m not sure how I would react if the party I was currently aligned to, suddenly insulted me in a discriminatory way, something that had been with me all my life.

    I certainly wouldn’t laugh it off, I know that much and I certainly wouldn’t e thinking it was a positive move to get an aide to apologise for me.

    Strange to think that DA, the LibDems and SNP have all just received a boost from this. I would also think it’s one of those issues that will be chalked up by the electorate as something important to consider (even if it is a non political one).


    You seem to out on a limb on this. Looking at other blogs there are a lot of fairly solid Labour types who normally would not say anything critical of Labour but have today criticised HH e.g. on Political Betting we have Tim, Gabble and Patrick West Ham fan all recognising Hattie has made a big mistake.

  27. Go hattie! :)


    Chances are that we will contest seats in NI. my good lady friend will most likely be a candidate…

  28. OldNat

    “You miss the point.”

    She does indeed-and would do well to remind herself who was the author of the Equality Act 2010.

    Do as I say & not as I do is always a very unedifying political prospectus.

  29. Eoin

    “my good lady friend will most likely be a candidate”

    No chance. Harriet will never stray outwith the South East of England.

  30. Eoin

    I should have added to my “Harriet will never stray outwith the South East of England.” – “after today.

  31. Beaker

  32. Hattie

  33. Sue Marsh


    Not sure what point you are making, but it does seem likely that the “Beaker People” did have the recessive gene for red hair. So it seems likely that their descendants will have been offended by a Sothern English arostocrat criticising their genetic composition.

  34. Mike – Out on a limb is my default position.
    Immature? Here’s a big fat (soft fruit) *pthhhhtttttttttttt*
    As for the wider web, take a look at Twitter it’s hysterical.

    Really, did you all miss the spending review? Bet it’s a relief to start talking about ginger rodents!! We all say things much worse than this down the pub every day. Beaker is much funnier.

    Get a big fat grip.

    If anyone’s still unsure, I will simply play back the much loved response “It’s 4 and a half years til the next election” Or did you all forget when there was a chance to give Hattie a kicking?????

  35. Sue

    Up here it’s 6 months till the next election. Some idiot in Labour thought it was a good idea to bring up someone from London to make cheap jibes at those with red hair?

    Of course, Harman is going to “get a kicking”. She throroughly deserves it.

  36. If we’re going to decide the economical future of this country on the basis of hair colour (or an insult thereof), then perhaps it’s time the vote was withdrawn and the government decided by scissor, paper, stone. Best of three.

  37. @Starchief – So you don’t think a racial slur is noteworthy, from the deputy leader of the opposition?

  38. Starchief

    Looking at the 21st century in the UK – does it matter? The differences between the UK parties are as marginal as those between Labour in Scotland and the SNP (other than the constitutional issue).

    In England there is no constitutional issue, of course, since everybody just loves Parliamentary Sovereignty!


    Harriet Harman has referred to Danny Alexander as a ‘ginger rodent.’ His red hair is as an inherited trait directly related to his ethnicity in the same way as skin colour. Imagine the uproar if she had called Diane Abbot a black rodent. Is there any difference?

    While I recognised we had different political objectives I always thought you were a caring person who was concerned about minorities and about not unnecessarily causing distress but obviously I was wrong. Goodnight all.

  40. Looking like a rodent aint necessarily a bad thing. I loved dangermouse :) And Ratatouile showed what’s possible if you master French cuisine :) Last not forget Master Splinter – he was cool ! :) I reckon for the first time in his caeer, people ‘might’ now know who danny Alexander is…..

  41. Tony Fisher

    Nothing to do with politics, everything to do with sheer, unbridled hatred of Harriet Harman.

    If you multiply that X 10 you will know how I feel about Thatcher.

  42. I think Thatcher was a ginger as well.

  43. I’m a red (not a red-head) who’s always liked HH.
    But going to Scotland and making a joke about red-heads was a pretty stupid thing to do. Don’t these top politicos have people around them to check out their speeches?
    Bring back Alistair Campbell, I say.

  44. Oh am I missing something? Is it a bigger insult to call someone ginger than it is to call them a rodent? Wow!


    YG tonight (guesstimate)

    Blue 42
    Red 38
    Yellow 11

  45. Julian Gilbert

    “Don’t these top politicos have people around them to check out their speeches?”

    What on earth makes you think HH didn’t mean every word?
    It was pre-released.

    Are you serously suggesting that the Deputy leader of the Labour Party wanders round the UK, making speeches which she doesn’t pre-read, or apply any personal criteria to ?

    This is the woman who can bring a Basilisk’s stare to bear upon any male who dares to voice comments on a woman which are based on that woman’s appearance.

    This is the author of the Equality Act 2010.

    No-we must conclude that Ms Harman has -like all other mortals-dual standards from time to time & is not all that she says she is.

  46. @Eoin,

    Yes it is. Because you insult millions of other people in the same breath. Many a policeman has learned the consequences of this after calling some young ethnic minority suspect a black b**stard after being spat at / kicked / punched by him. Calling him a b**stard in itself wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow.

  47. @COLIN
    You miss my point. Politicians can’t go round telling everybody what they really believe in. They’d never get elected.
    Show me a straight-talking politician of any hue and I’ll show you an unelectable one.

  48. Neil A,

    lol, sorry I struggle to take this one seriously lol. hattie’s fallibility endears me even more :) Gingers of the world will cope, I’m sure. Now the rodents, I am not so sure of.

  49. I have just caught up with the HH story, and I am amazed about the reaction to her comments.

    They were a bit silly, but nothing more. ‘Ginger Rodent’ isn’t racial slur, IMO, as being ginger not a unique characteristic to a particular race. My Wife and two children have red hair, so I like red-heads :-)

    It was no more than a rather silly, but poor joke. Suggestions that HH is racist about Celts is clearly a ridiculous statement. If that statement makes someone racist, I’ve heard racist comments from every work colleague I have ever met in my life. IMO, the negative reaction to this seems grossly disproportionate compared the lesser reaction to the life-changing cuts made by the coalition to the benefits of the Disabled.

    If any poster here has never made a silly joke that was inappropriate, and looked a fool, let me know your address, and I’ll send you some painkillers (your halo must be very tight)

  50. Gingers of the world have always, and will continue to shun the Tory party. :) Harriet’s words will have struck a chord with most politically minded gingers. You English have to remember us Celts are quite lighthearted about these matters…

    The litany of insults we get south of the M25 are a lot worse that the colour of our hair :)

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