Sunday Polls

The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 41%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%. YouGov have had a couple of polls in recent weeks with polls leads up around 9 points, suggesting that beneath the normal random variation the Labour lead has crept up slightly over the last fortnight with energy prices back in the news. The rest of the polls was largely taken up with questions about confidence in the workplace, but there were a few questions on Labour and the Unions and unqualified teachers.

57% of people think the trade unions have a lot (23%) or a fair amount (34%) of influence over Labour, and on balance this is seen as a bad thing: 41% think they have too much influence, compared to 10% who think they don’t have enough and 24% who think it is about right. This is largely due to Conservative voters though, amongst Labour’s own supporters 48% think the level of trade union influence is about right. On Falkirk 41% of people think Unite probably did fix the selection, but almost half of respondents said don’t know, suggesting it is an issue that has not really caught the attention of the general public at all.

People are evenly split on whether unqualified teachers can be as good as qualified ones – 42% think it’s possible for people with expertise in other fields to be just as good, 43% that teachers with proper qualifications and training will always be better. Despite that a clear overall majority (63%) still think that schools should only be allowed to employ qualified teachers.

Meanwhile the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer has topline figures of CON 31%(+4), LAB 37%(-1), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 16%(-1). It shows a sharp decrease in the Labour lead, but it’s almost certainly just a reversion to the mean after the anomalous eleven point lead a fortnight ago. Putting that one unusual poll aside a seven point Labour lead is typical of Opinium’s polls over the last few months.

Opinium also asked about people’s perceptions of BBC bias. 37% of people think the way the BBC covers the news is politically neutral, 27% think it is biased towards the left, 14% think it is biased towards the right.

284 Responses to “Sunday Polls”

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  1. First ? Beautiful day on our beach .

    A growing economy can help Labour, I think. Labour often does better when people feel optimistic and have illusions of being ‘safe’.

  2. Surely a poll on BBC bias permits (for once) a thread discussion on BBC bias?

    Re Unite and Falkirk, the Sunday Times are flogging a dead horse by conducting a poll in a futile attempt to try and keep it in the news.

    Re qualifications, I got the impression from watching “Catch Me If You Can” that when Leo de Caprio portrayed Frank Abignalle he did a pretty good job of impersonating a senior hospital doctor for a period of time. At least, he wasn’t accused of killing anyone in the film and must have been very willing to take decisions collectively by seeking opinions from his talented staff. An excellent management style, then. On that one example I might just answer Yes to a question that unqualified senior registrars can be as good as qualified ones. (You only need one outlier for the word “can” to be operative.) But I still think that hospitals should be able to employ only qualified doctors.

    Presumably public responses on teacher qualifications are driven by a similar degree of insight as to what it takes to teach effectively in modern classrooms.

  3. @Chris Lane

    Good morning to you too on the Hampshire (Dorset?) coast. You’ll be pleased to know it’s a wonderful morning in the deepest vales of Worcestershire too. To complete the feeling of general joie de vivre, I note also that your beloved Man U are now returning to their habitual winning ways!

    Your point on economic recovery and it being helpful to Labour is an interesting one. Major resoundingly won in 1992 when the economy was still in recession, primarily because there was a feeling amongst the electorate that it was best to cling to nurse through fear of something worse. The something worse was Kinnock and Labour. In May 2015, although William Keegan in today’s Observer thinks not, the economy may well be growing strongly and, to follow your line of argument, either the electorate will reward the Government or, alternatively, behave rather ungratefully and decide that it’s safe to take a punt on the Opposition.

    I’m not entirely sure but if, as some polling suggests, more people have a predilection to vote Labour than any other party, it could well be that Miliband could prevail in a “feelgood” election. We haven’t had one of those since 1970, in many respects.

  4. CROSSBAT11.

    Hello to you, and yes United are now doing well. I think in 1945, 1964 and 1997 there was optimism in the air.

    Peter Shore often spoke about the clinging to Mother syndrome as being a negative force for Labour.

    We cannot write off the Tories though.

    Bournemouth, since the 1974 Maud reorganisation is in Dorset, it was in Hants. It is also a Unitary Authority. Christchurch is a separate borough, also, since 1974, in Dorset. The famous 1994 By election disaster for John Major was often marked by people saying Christchurch was in Bournemouth, which got the burghers annoyed!

    Bournemouth West is represented by Conor Burns, who grew up on the Falls Road, Belfast. He is a leading ‘Thatcherite’ .

  5. Phil – well, you’re very welcome to discuss what the public think. Just not whether they are right or not, and what each other think ;)

  6. It’s interesting that Labour’s lead seems to be settling down to about 6 & a bit percent. This is despite Ed Miliband himself not being that much in the news. I wonder if the phone hacking trial could cause further problems for the Conservatives – though that would depend to a major extent on what the verdicts are. The Tories certainly need to do more than simply call Ed Miliband’s energy freeze policy a con – they need to do something which is seen to help consumers, and unless & until they do they will stay on the back foot. Not bad times for Labour.

  7. If people vote Labour when they feel optimistic surely 1987 should have been a Labour landslide

  8. BBC bias. More noticable in recent weeks IMO but some of the bending is subtle and opinion polls may not be a reliable guide to the actual leanings of the Beeb. I have noticed that the utterances by party A are often accompanied by an immediate rebuff from some source or other. But when party B pushes a point there is seldom a balancing comment from those who disagree.
    Or maybe I am biased ?

  9. Attributing the 1945 win to “optimism” is just plain bizarre. Fear of mass unemployment was arguably the single biggest factor in Labour’s victory.


    Optimism may help Labour without guaranteeing victory.

  10. Phil Haines
    “Re Unite and Falkirk, the Sunday Times are flogging a dead horse by conducting a poll in a futile attempt to try and keep it in the news.”

    I saw Kevin McGuire on the Marr show & he said he had read the whole Falkirk selection report in the summer & that todays splash in the ST had missed huge chunks out & gave a completely different meaning to what the report actually said.

    Whodathunked it eh……shocked I was, shocked I tell ya….

  11. @ Phil Haines

    The best unqualified in my humble opinion was Arnie in Kindergarten Kop. I think all aspects of his teaching were “outstanding”- Discipline, child protection, learning and that was without any training whatsoever- even had time to catch the baddies too.

  12. @Barnaby Marder

    The number of Tories interested in energy policy is rather small. Given that at least two Tory administrations since 1970 have collapsed through energy policy failures that’s quite a failing. Significantly the only major Tory who studied it in depth won three election victories.

  13. Chordata – as far as I can tell from the start of their article (I don’t have a subscription), the Sun Times don’t claim to have the whole report, but sections from it (specifically, they’ve seen a response to the report from Unite, which quoted some sections from the report)

  14. @AW

    OK, I’ll try to keep the context to a minimum then in discussing the Opinium finding.

    It’s not surprised that most Conservatives would consider the BBC’s reporting to be biased when from Grant Shapps down those in the party they voted for are now saying routinely that it is and now even going so far as to now threaten consequences.

    Why more of the public don’t perceive a right wing bias puzzles me, but on reflection seems I think to arise from this.

    Firstly, Labour has a strange reluctance to publically take issue with the BBC’s reporting to at least the same extent as the Conservatives do. It’s a bad call by Labour if it thinks it can curry favour by keeping its head down. Perhaps it is an instinctive reaction of public good/private bad, that flies in the face of the facts.

    Secondly, IMO we are still in a period curiously similar to the post 1997 period, when the official opposition is now struggling every bit as much William Hague did to get a fair hearing for its side of the argument, at least in to any degree of detail. (By contrast the Conservatives had no difficulty post 2005, when post Iraq the BBC was clearly prepared to be far more hostile). Nowadays that is compounded by a trivialisation of political reporting which has allowed managed government news agendas to go unchallenged, with political reporters more focused on trying and find some quirky angle with which to report events and above all prevent politicians from giving their first hand explanations (if necessary resorting to talking over them when they try to say something different to what an interviewer wants them to say.)

    The absence of substance and thus effective challenge plays I think into the hands of any serving government, of whatever colour. Now that may not amount to overt political bias as such, and as such may explain the absence of more perceived bias towards the political right. But in the current context it has much the same impact in terms of shaping opinion.

  15. Wolf,

    “The number of Tories interested in energy policy is rather small. Given that at least two Tory administrations since 1970 have collapsed through energy policy failures that’s quite a failing.”

    Don’t you mean at least one?

  16. How can anyone think the BBC is biased in favour of the left when Andrew Neil seems to present every BBC Politics programme?
    He is so obviously right-wing ( especially anti-union ) he would be better suited to Fox News, witness his absurd “interview” with Len Mccluskey this morning – although I’m glad to say Len kept his cool and had the better of the encounter.

  17. Paul A,

    Unease with trade unions is a long-standing tradition on the liberal left in Britain. I imagine the folk who think that the BBC has a left-wing bias think that it is a liberal left-wing bias, rather than a traditional Labour bias (I’m not sure how many people my age would recognise such a thing if they saw it).

  18. @CROSSBAT11

    “…Good morning to you too on the Hampshire (Dorset?) coast…”

    Bournemouth was Hampshire up until the 60s(?), is now Dorset. It grew westwards and merged with Poole. This explains why Bournemouth is in the South-West region but still appears on the South-East England train map.

  19. Regarding BBC bias.
    Odd one this coz obviously those of us behind the barricades of partisanship are going to see bias in favour of the other lot. However, I think that there may be a particular problem for Labour in that I have noticed a tendency for the Beeb to broadcast debateable statements by Govt spokes~persons as though they are Holy writ. There was a particularly egregious example yesterday on the Week in Westminster , when Cheryl Gillan said that HS2 was like Concorde because it was supposed to go very fast,”and we all know what happened to that”,i.e. Concorde. Now, this is a remarkable viewpoint, coz it writes off all the tremendous benefits Concorde brought us, merely because it was publically funded, and was of course a project initiated by Labour. In my view, it’s this kind of Thatcherite trope that Labour is vulnerable to. (As an adopted Bristolian I see the ongoing benefits of Concorde every day in the still buoyant aero industry that keeps the city prosperous).

  20. I try to stay out of BBC bias debates myself, because invariably people only ever notice discrepancies that don’t suit their own views, and never bias in their favour.

    However, I do have one specific gripe about an outright inaccuracy stated by Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics. I won’t go into the issue in question because I don’t want to start a flame war, suffice to say that what he said was 100% wrong, and it a common myth peddled by one side in a controversial issue or order to get their way.

    I complained to the BBC, in the hope that there would be a straightforward factual correction. Instead, they effectively argued as the falsehood in question was preceded by the words “I think”, that makes it OK.

    That may not be evidence of bias in itself, but it is evidence of very sloppy journalism from the BBC – and I expected far better from them.

  21. Martyn
    Christchurch ditto.

  22. It does seem that there is a slight upward drift in Lab scores, although there remain variations that keep us on our toes. Economic news is better, but not yet good enough to provide a decisive feel good factor, while connected cost of living issues are playing well for Labour.

    As we enter winter, Labour still have to face the twin issues of leaders popularity and trust on the economy in the negative column, while trying to develop credibility on issues like energy and living wage, where they are slowly unveiling eye catching policies.

    Tories, I feel, face issues that are slightly more difficult to control. They need the economy to keep moving up the gears, but there are worrying signs from Europe that the EZ story is not going well, with a shock fall in inflation last month and a perversely rising Euro leading analysts to suggest they are very close to deflation.

    Elsewhere, other incidental issues threaten to crowd around Cameron, after what has been quite a successful summer focusing on immigration and similar core messages.

    My best guess is that the NHS will become a significant negative (head of A&E doctors says NHS now in crisis, and anecdotally I’m now meeting more people complaining about waiting for treatment) phone hacking trials will provide embarrassment, and fox hunting could provide awkward and unwanted mood music. I also wonder whether George Osborne’s reported move on trust funds (welcomed by me, if true) will reignite issues with UKIP, as it will undoubtedly be unpopular with certain well off Tories.

    In many ways, Labour is more or less passive, reacting to events and really only facing the issue of when to announce policies.

    Governments are usually in more control of the agenda than oppositions, but oddly enough, I see a range of issues that risk grinding them down, with little real chance of decisively seizing the initiative. If the economy was to prosper, this would be the catalyst for a much stronger agenda, but I see problems here, and I suspect Tories may well fall back into trench warfare on myriad awkward issues, rather than break out onto open ground and initiate a more free flowing campaign.

  23. @Howard


  24. So, let’s think. The BBC obviously recruits / engages the most suitable persons. One might imagine that many of the senior management and editorial etc posts are filled by those who have had more opportunities arising out of their (superior) education and their parents’ connections and wealth.

    It seems reasonable to suppose that those engaged / recruited might therefore come from backgrounds more disposed to rightwing policies and views. Hence, it is a reasonable assumption that over time right wing bias insidiously emerges in the management etc of the BBC whether by design or accident.


    Can you still see Concorde G-BOAF from Filton Abbey Wood station? According to it’s being allowed to rot thru neglect and ‘elf&safety…which is an enormous pity if true.

  26. @Alec
    “Governments are usually in more control of the agenda than oppositions”

    Governments that reduce the ability of government to take action, and move more things out of the public sector into the private one, are also reducing their ability to shape the agenda.

    Worse, is when a Government attempts to set an agenda that involves achieving things that are impossible.

  27. Martyn
    In a word dunno as far as Boatfoxy is concerned,coz being retired l no longer commute that way,but next time l’m in FAW l’ll have a look.

  28. Martyn and EL
    As my father’s quality control stamp is on every Concorde (somewhere) may I assure you it sits forlornly at the western end of the runway they are busily tearing up before anyone changes their mind.

  29. @Bill Patrick

    The pit closure program of 1992 didn’t help John Major , although Black Wednesday arguably did more damage.You can argue the National Coal Board did for most Prime Ministers – Attlee had 1947, Macmillan had to send Quintin Hogg around in a cloth cap, Wilson sacked 80 000 miners in 1968, only Thatcher really came out on top although it was a close run thing.

  30. I think the beeb was slightly left until this new DG took over,now it seems to have gone the other way.I’ts not so much the comments,but the whole articles it leaves out,or only reports for a few minutes.

  31. Having sounded off against the BBC above, it was pleasantly surprising to see Miliband’s plans for the living wage feature in some detail on tonight’s news. (Although one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and May’s embarrassing climbdown over visa bonds was skated over in just 10 seconds).

    Today’s poll confirms the consistent picture that Labour ought to be doing far better with C2DEs – only 44% of whom would vote Labour, just 5% more than the ABC1s. But the living wage tax break policy is exactly the sort of thing that could gain support from and make a big difference to many C2DEs struggling to make ends meet.

  32. @ Jayblanc

    Worse, is when a Government attempts to set an agenda that involves achieving things that are impossible.

    Worse still IMO is a government that refuses to tackle things that are hard. Arguably the best government in living memory (before my living memory, just) was the Attlee one which attempted, and largely pulled off, a whole string of impossible things. Didn’t do much for its VI, however.
    The Blair/Brown govt didn’t try anything much impossible if you discount wars and NHS IT neither of which were either successful or improved VI
    The most impossible thing this lot are attempting is universal credit. Smart money is this will end in catastrophe for both the populace and the tory VI however the idea is sound. Just would be better led by a proven rather than unproven genius.

  33. PH
    I think you need to take into account how many are recording UKIP (15%). Do we really think they will not revert to Labour in 2015?

  34. PH
    That’s 15% of C2DEs of course (same column that you mentioned).

  35. @Howard

    Good point as C2DEs are a consistent source of strength for UKIP. But in terms of “reverting” to Lab, it would have to be to 2001 or 2005 voting patterns, because very few current UKIP supporters in that poll voted Lab in 2010 (17% Con, 5% Lab, 5% LD). These might be people with quite volatile political allegiances, who might in the past would have been drawn to Lab (or the LDs) as an alternative to an unpopular Conservative government, but now have an alternative in UKIP. They might still be persuaded to vote Labour but they could also revert to their 2010 (Conservative) habits.

  36. @Howard
    There’s some gobbledegook in terms of the wording of the above, but hopefully you get my point.

  37. “Opinium also asked about people’s perceptions of BBC bias. 37% of people think the way the BBC covers the news is politically neutral, 27% think it is biased towards the left, 14% think it is biased towards the right”

    In Scotland the BBC are so far to the left they are almost falling into the Clyde.

  38. Wolf,

    I don’t think that the decline of the coal industry had much impact on John Major’s government (it wasn’t as if that was what swung miners and those sympathetic towards their cause against the Tories) and it certainly didn’t bring it to collapse.

    Attlee’s problems weren’t due to the miners themselves. Wilson and Callaghan had the miners for breakfast. Aside from bringing down Heath in 1974 and boosting Thatcher in 1984-1985, the miners had very little impact on British politics.

  39. I don’t watch it (or even have a TV) but I like the BBC. Any institution that draws claims of bias from across the political spectrum is probably doing something right, and there’s a case for a non-commercial media institution in a democracy.

  40. @ Howard & Phil,

    This is the huge question looming over the election for both Labour and the Tories.

    Would the en masse defection from the Tories to Ukip after the omnishambles budget have been a Tory -> Labour switch if Ukip had been unavailable? If so, is it midterm blues that will disappear at the prospect of an Ed Miliband premiership, or does it represent a permanent disenchantment? On some measures the Ukippers look more like Labourites, on others they look more like Tories, and they seem to hate Miliband and Cameron with equal fervour. At this point it seems very hard to predict which way, if any, they will jump.

    Also, where do all these people live? If all the potential Labour voters currently having a pint with Nigel in the Ukip tent are from Manchester and South Shields, or from Newbury and Maidenhead, they’re electorally irrelevant. But the Ashcroft polling does show a lot of Ukip voters in the marginals. (In Lab-Tory marginals some of them come home to Labour when asked “In your constituency?” questions, which seems to favour the “disenchanted leaning Labour” rather than “disenchanted leaning Tory” interpretation.)

  41. PH
    I don’t doubt that there are still some (original) Con who will revert from UKIP to Con but this cohort has generally very decided views (even more decided than the still extant core Con vote) and are less likely to do so, whereas the Labour and LD ones registering UKIP are ‘here today gone (where?) tomorrow’ types. In my view their xenophobia and genuine dislike of other cultures (that they can’t do anything about because those have UK citizenship, most being born here) are likely to be outweighed by other issues, come 2015.

    I imagine an Ashcroft poll could investigate these factors more reliably.

  42. Spearmint
    Our posts crossed. Hope that explains.

  43. I don’t know whether the Beeb is biased or not. It seems to me to try hard not to be.

    In interesting contrast to this site where increasing labour leads are dismissed as outliers until eventually there is a grudging acceptance that the party’s has indeed ‘crept up’.

    Miliband is on a winner with energy and the big six companies charging people ever bigger bills because they are the very people who support Cameron’s party and he can do very little to offend them.

  44. HOWARD

    “an Ashcroft poll could investigate these factors more reliably”

    Prof Curtice has pointed out that the press can’t afford to run detailed polls these days. Such polls will only be conducted on behalf of the very wealthy like Ashcroft, or crowd-funded activists.

    I know little of UKIP, but “values” do seem to have a higher correlation with voting than “class”.

    The UKIP respondents in the YG poll break down roughly as follows –

    2010 vote: Con 69%, Lab 17%, Lib 14%,
    Gender: M 55%, F 45%,
    Age: 18-24 8%, 25-39 9%, 40-59 30%, 60+ 52%,
    Social: ABC1 44%, C2DE 56%,
    Region: London 11%, South Eng 38%, Mid Eng/Wales 21%, North Eng 27%, Scotland 3%,

    Do those seem likely demographics for UKIP supporters? (at 170, it’s a very wee cross break).

  45. OldNat
    Remember my post and that of PH was originally only dealing with C2DE voters. Actually your breakdown summary is intuitively quite resonating (boing!).

  46. The LSE reported Media Policy Project findings in September 2013:

    ‘The results indicate that the BBC, with a 45%-55% left-to-right balance lies more or less in the middle, between the Guardian, and the total of all newspapers. These figures suggest that it is actually harder for left-wing think tanks to get a hearing in the bulk of the UK media than it is for right-wing think tanks.’

  47. Alec,
    Regarding the NHS.Straight from the frontline.Aged Mum in hospital for the third time three months.Confused,wets the bed.Staff take 10 minutes to strip
    Bed,change nightdress etc.Almost immediately she announces she needs to
    Go again.News met with understandable annoyance from nurse.Staff nurse
    Heard to say,there are just not enough of us.Multiply this by goodness knows
    How many.Anecdotal,I know but the winter is still before us.

  48. Berliners vote 83% in favour remunicipalising the electricity grid, but they miss the 25% quorum by 0.9%… so the Volksentscheid Neue Energie (Referendum New Energy) is not accepted.

    Disappointing for those behind the initiative, but there seems to be a likelihood of knock-on effects to energy policy from this result.


    I think you may have issues with the word “Impossible”.

    Things that have been achieved are by definition, not impossible. Things that are very hard to do, are by definition not impossible. To quote Lou Reed, “Impossible doesn’t mean very difficult. Very difficult is winning the Nobel Prize; impossible is eating the Sun.”

    A Government that sets out aims that are contradictory is trying to achieve the impossible. As we have found out, you can not cut the administration staff of the DWP at the same time as trying to create an entirely new system for all out of work benefits, without one or both failing.

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