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. Ah, yes, but can you get your tongue round ’em? (Probably a banning offence, I know!)

  2. mrnameless
    I did sociology at A level. So I know about as much as anyone else on here (satire!)

    You did Eng Lit as well then? Good, good, as my childhood friend used. irritatingly, to say, while thinking of something else; untill he dropped dead of overweight at the age of forty.

    Yes, funny old bunch, occasionally quite brilliantly catch the mood music and language of bystander Britain. But I genuinely regret the lack of professional sociological response to some basic questions of VI, such as that of the part played in politics by organised and sometimes manipulated religion; or, as you may be indicating, that of a demographic factor in an imbalanced pensioner relationship with and dependency on the rest of the population in poll responses, VI and UKIIP’s rise .

    Now must really give it a rest. Thanks for your response.

  3. NEIL A

    ITV News reporting that the lawyer for one of the accused took the “unusual step” of addressing the jury prior to evidence being led.

    Is that really unusual in English courts? If the prosecution can use an opening statement to put the evidence in context, don’t the defence automatically do the same?

  4. I did Language actually, which really should just be called Linguistics because it is!

  5. Isn’t it strange how we do not get any 10PM polling Yougov exclusive tweets from Tom Newton Dunn and Sunpolitics anymorre ;-)

  6. except to say, isn’t it odd that, as far as I know, noone made the connection in the great psophological debate with Marshall McLuhan’s “the Medium is the Message”? EM made, I thiought, pretty cheekily, conscious use of it in the pallet imagery: “a pallet, not a soap box” he said, to let us in on the wheeze at Conference. Better, I thought, as psophology – industrial, export oriented, rought hewn timber, stable, but a head above the crowd – than TB’s “I’m a straightforwrd kind of guy.””
    Enough, already.


    Alas, the days when you would have got funding for that thesis for your doctorate are long gone (Obviously that would be an additional doctorate to all your others).

    Given that CV, you could probably have successfully submitted a bid to take over a significant chunk of NHS England.

  8. @ Red Rag,

    Whatever will we do with our evenings now? Well, here’s a bit of fun, as Peter Snow would say:

    Our two tracking polls plotted on the same axes. (Populus are lines, YouGov are points. No smoothing for YouGov because the Populus polls are too infrequent to do comparable running averages, so it’s just the raw data.)

    Our suspicions were right, Populus were weirdly volatile in late summer when YouGov were static, and then completely missed the conference bounces. (This may have something to do with their Ukip down-weighing. It’s the Tory numbers that tend to bounce around, varying inversely with Ukip. And if they return Ukippers to their 2010 party automatically they can’t register any movement in response to conference speeches.)

    Still, the overall trends match up- Tories basically flat since July (if you average out the Tory bounces), Labour slumping a wee bit at the end of August but recovering in October and possibly picking up a bit now.

  9. @ David

    No need for apologies; I thought your comment was very amusing. I considered posting my prisoner cell block H spoof but I remembered in time that nobody except me finds it funny. ;-)

  10. Amber

    On Newsnicht, Eric Joyce and BBC interviewer both stressing the 2nd syllable of Lamont’s name. That seems to set the matter beyond doubt.

    Mea Culpa.

  11. @ amber star
    please post it, I laugh at anything.

  12. OLD NAT
    Another one for the doctoral grist mill:

    Former boss Sven-Goran Eriksson says winning the World Cup is beyond England in Brazil – but has hopes for 2018.

    Discuss in the context of John Gray’s analysis of western millenarianism in linear concepts of time. ho ho ho.

    Really must go.

  13. @OldNat

    Eric Joyce seems to think Unite is to blame for everything.


    Mmm. Needs a more international conceptualisation.

    Combine it with a gender based analysis of Scotland qualifying with its women’s team?

    Has fascinating possibilities for examination of parallels with the rise to power of women in the political sphere.

    A contra-instinctual comparison of Johann Lamont, Theresa May and a Lib-Dem female prospective candidate could provide insights into much of today’s realities.

  15. RAF

    “Eric Joyce seems to think Unite is to blame for everything.”

    New Labour thought he was the ideal candidate when he was selected, so presumably his thoughts resonated with them.

    I doubt that we will ever know what the current Labour leadership (and here it’s not wholly clear who it is that provides leadership for Labour) thinks about the whole sorry mess.

  16. Johann Lamont, hmm yes, how are her passing skills? The Scottish women’s futba team?
    I was once in close proximity to the England women’s rugby team during their post-match bath after the international with the Dutch women at the Saracen’s ground. Not a subject I would deal with lightly

  17. @OldNat,

    I’ve never known of a Defence Opening Statement before. I didn’t even realise it was a possibility until I heard it on R4. I assume it is an exception made in the most complicated of cases, perhaps to counterbalance what must be a very long prosecution opening.

    The Prosecution Opening is to set out what the Crown is trying to prove. It’s sort of a yardstick against which the evidence can be judged. It’s not supposed to be especially partial (although obviously by its very nature it is). In most cases the defence case is really quite simple (I wasn’t there. She consented. It was self-defence. I didn’t realise it was stolen. That kind of thing). I suppose with phonehacking the defence itself may be quite complex and nuanced.

    In other news. I got a good conviction today at Crown Court.

  18. neil a


    Close to worst of all offences to my mind.

  19. Thanks. Sad that such a young boy can be capable of such things, but given that he very much is, best to have him locked up.

  20. @Neil A

    I could not do your job. Thank goodness you can.

  21. Neil A,

    That’s an utterly depressing case. Glad justice will be served.

    I second what the pups (or their dad) said. It’s why I’ve taken to tearing down SWP posters around uni.

    Speaking of which, I was musing on Twitter about this. Why is it damn near impossible to get protest placards that aren’t either SWP-printed or homemade? Can’t Labour or the Greens print some up? I feel distinctly uncomfortable marching around under the banner of a bunch of nutters.

  22. NEIL A

    Well done on the conviction!

    As to opening statements “It’s not supposed to be especially partial (although obviously by its very nature it is).”

    That was actually my original point (let’s ignore your regrettable appendix to your response).

    That you had never heard of a Defence Opening Statement before frankly astonishes me. What are your defence lawyers thinking of, to allow the prosecution to fix their key points in the mind of the jury before any evidence has been led?

    As I posted originally, English Law is better than Scots Law in a number of respects, but this particular practice (rather taken to extremes in the USA) seems a bit offensive in terms of the administration of justice.

  23. @OldNat,

    I see it as a “necessary evil” really. I can see big problems with just unleashing evidence on a jury that has no idea what it’s about to hear. We already have problems with jurors not understanding what the lawyers are talking about.

    If you don’t give them a bit of an “index” then they may be 1/3 of the way into the evidence before they begin to realise what the case is about, and by that point the evidence they’ve already heard may be a bit lost on them.

    As for the defence not making an opening statement. I imagine in most cases they’d actually prefer not to. Imagine requiring, by law, that the defendant sets out exactly what his defence is before the prosecution witnesses have even given their evidence. The way things currently stand, the defence have some flexibility to exploit any wobbles that emerge in the prosecution evidence (although if they want disclosure of unused material that might assist their case, they will have submitted a Defence Case Statement, setting out in a few lines the nature of their defence).

    Is it fair and balanced? Probably not. But in my opinion it is more than compensated for by the overall tilt our system gives in the defence’s favour. I’ve certainly never once heard any barrister or solicitor express any reservations about Prosecution Openings.

  24. @Mr Nameless,

    In this digital age, I am pretty sure anyone could knock up a decent looking placard in a few minutes on their computer. If you don’t have an A2 or A3 printer, stick it on a disc and take it down a printshop.

  25. What are your defence lawyers thinking of, to allow the prosecution to fix their key points in the mind of the jury before any evidence has been led?
    They are thinking of not tipping off the prosecution about what the defence strategy will be. ‘We will show the defendant wasn’t there at the time,’ said on day 1 of a trial could e.g. allow the prosecution to place more emphasis on forensics which prove the defendant was there at some point rather than on eye witnesses who say they saw the offense happen at a particular time.

  26. amber

    Owr dad says you’re dead clever for a soppy gurl.

    I think it was a compliment.


  27. Sorry, x-posted before seeing Neil A’s similar comment about why defence lawyers don’t give opening statements.

  28. @Amber,

    If you and I agree, it must be true (or some bizarre Dr Who episode where the space-time continuum is under threat in some way).

  29. NEIL A

    I understand that most people are comfortable with the systems that they know. Foreign systems can seem strange and uncomfortable.

    I’m as subject to that as anyone else, but there is a further concept involved – having a legal system based on an overarching legal philosophy (no matter how badly implemented!) as with systems based on Roman Law.

    It’s hardly surprising that a police officer would want court practice to advantage the prosecution. Given the scum that you want to bring to justice, that’s not a bad position!

    But systems require to be fair to both prosecution and defence. In the English system, Amber’s point may well be relevant – though it may be that it is also the case in England, that evidence from the defence needs to be disclosed to the prosecution as it needs to be the other way round. Neil A will know.

    People are people, juries are juries, regardless of the legal jurisdiction they operate in.

    What appears to be the case (from what has emerged in the discussion so far) is that in Scotland the jury is assumed to be competent to comprehend the evidence, while in England they need to be guided to their conclusion via prosecution opening statements, and then judicial examination of the quality of witness statements (which judges in Scotland are strongly discouraged from doing).

    There is no perfect legal system, but on this aspect I’m happy with our version.

  30. @OldNat,

    I don’t know very much at all about the Scottish system (Constables in England and Wales are not Constables in Scotland, as you know), but of all the problems I see with the current system in England and Wales this is not one that has ever reared its head. Of course police officers have a slant in their view of the system, but I honestly haven’t heard anyone, not even full time defence barristers, express any concern about opening statements.

    On your specific point, there is no rule of “reciprocal disclosure” in England and Wales. The prosecution are obliged to disclose all of their material to the defence, but the reverse doesn’t apply. The only thing they are expected to do is provide a “Defence Case Statement”, setting out where they take issue with the prosecution evidence. We don’t even know until half-way through the trial if the defence are proposing to call witnesses (they seldom do so actually, other than the defendant).

    Even the Defence Case Statement is optional. It’s primary purpose is to ensure that the police Disclosure Officer can trawl through the unused material and look for anything that might assist the defence (as set out in their statement).

    As for your point about the competence of juries, we’ve pretty much arrived at the point that my previous slightly caustic comment was aimed at. It may well be the case that Scots juries are smarter than English ones. I certainly believe that English juries would struggle without Prosecution Openings. I would dispute that they are designed to “guide the jury to their conclusion”. I see them more as a detailed and comprehensive version of the indictment. i.e. “The allegation against the accused is this”. As for judicial examination, I take it you mean the Judge’s Summing Up. I don’t know what method, if any, the Scottish courts use, but again I don’t think it is quite as prescriptive as you think. The judge gives a series of directions as to the Law. He then summarises the evidence the jury have heard. It’s a bit like listening to a slightly tedious, potted version of the trial in a dull Sunday supplement. The judge may give a view “clues” as to what weight the jury might want to lend to particular bits of evidence, but it usually isn’t particularly helpful to either side (and a biased Summing Up is a strong ground for an appeal).

    Overall, I can assure you that defendants are extremely well protected in English law – hence the common complaint that certain offenders (rapists, and police officers accused of crimes, are the two most often cited) are seldom convicted.

  31. Re: place names and “mind your Rs”

    Pronouncing “Falkirk” with the accent on “kirk” is just weird because English and Scots words (including placenames) are nearly always accented on the first syllable. I suppose the newreaders are modelling their pronounciation on “Dunkirk” in France – an indication that they think of Scotland as “foreign parts” where you can’t trust the spellling*. I can understand Scots being irritated by that.

    I’m glad to hear that “Rhoticity” (the pronounciation of R at the end of a syllable) still has it’s advocates in the Southwest of England, and rather surprised at Laszlo’s assertion that where he is it’s making a comeback.

    The R has died out in most of England since the 50s. Apart from the SW only North Lancs is still rhotic and (from personal observation only) it isn’t thriving among the younger generation. It has disappeared from it’s old haunts in the SE and you need to hunt down rural ancients to find a speaker who uses the the “Northumberland Burr” (more like French R than the Scots or Wessex variety) that my great grandmother used. I’m not rhotic myself, but I like variety, and it seems a shame that we have less it.

  32. The Scottish prosecutor generally calls the lead investigating officer as the first witness &, between them, they use the initial examination as a way to make what is pretty much an opening statement regarding what the evidence will be & what it is intended to ‘say to’ the jury.

    That Scottish juries are ‘smarter’ is not supported by any evidence of which I’m aware.

  33. That’s interesting Amber. In English courts the lead investigator is traditionally the last prosecution witness.

    Although, in two large organised crime trials I was actually the only prosecution witness, all of the evidence having been distilled down into a series of diagrams, charts and timelines which I presented and explained.

  34. @ Neil A

    An outline by the prosecution was performed/ allowed in the Pan Am case, according to Wikipedia
    Court proceedings started on 3 May 2000 with the prosecution outlining the case against the accused and previewing the evidence which they expected would satisfy the judges beyond reasonable doubt that the sabotage of PA 103 was caused by etc…

    This was not a jury trial, of course. However it seems our ‘smart’ Scottish judges felt that an opening statement by the prosecution would be useful. ;-)

    Not only place names: Ooh Aar, or Oh Ah, are different though both mean something like “I take note of what you say”,
    In a Hampstead bar it would mean, Oh yes? Do get on with your gin and tonic”,. In Shepton Mallet in the mid-Sixties, a response from my old neighbour to my pointing to my half-painted garage door, “O Arr, her’ll be foin when you’m finished she.”, repeated at the cricket club as an example of local dialect, drew the chorussed response: “O Arr, them buggers up bl–dy Radstock, you can’t understand a bl–dy word they say” in both cases with the rear palatal r, if I have right phonetics.
    Now I’ll b-gg-r off.

  36. @ Old Nat

    “I understand that most people are comfortable with the systems that they know. Foreign systems can seem strange and uncomfortable.”

    Yeah, I get that. I’ve been through it a lot. Here, the defense doesn’t have to say anything at all (well at least in a trial…….don’t get me started on the radical right wingers who make up a bare majority of the SCOTUS and dominate the federal courts).

    Btw, I wanted to share this story with you.

    Why? Well we’ve all had embarrassments within our own respective parties. And this certainly counts for one in mine (you once shared one from the same county about an unfortunate fried chicken dinner coupon). I know laughing at the misfortune of others is wrong but there is something kinda funny about this story.

    Elections are tomorrow (off-off year elections) btw. Should be interesting because I have a feeling that the media will spend most of its time discussing Chris Christie’s reelection (a foregone conclusion) even though that will likely be one of the only major races happening tomorrow where there is no party switch unlike the other two (keep our fingers crossed in VA).

    If only Mary Whitehouse was still alive. I could really see her taking to and liking VA Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken ‘The Cooch’ Cuccinelli. I don’t know that the Cooch knows who she was but he certainly carries her guiding spirit in his quest across the Commonwealth.

  37. @Spearmint

    A few days ago I ran through VI data from Populus vs You Gov (mid July onwards).

    First Mean ans Standard Deviation:


    Party – Mean – SD

    Con – 32.97 – 1.50
    Lab – 38.59 – 1.02
    LD – 11.86 – 1.09

    You Gov

    Party – Mean – SD

    Con – 33.04 – 1.27
    Lab – 38.68 – 1.24
    LD – 9.74 – 0.98

    Next I did an F Test to establish if the variances were the same (Populus vs You Gov):

    Con – 0.27
    Lab – 0.24
    LD – 0.45

    As all are above 0.05, they have the same variance.

    That led to a T Test (two samples, equal variances):

    Con – 0.80
    Lab – 0.72
    LD – 0.00

    Therefore we can conclude, based on that data, that Populus get the same VI for Labor and the Conservatives, but are significantly different for the LDs.

  38. 40/33/12/LD 9

  39. We could do with the voice of Sid Waddell with


    on these occasions.

  40. Latest YouGov / The Sun results 4th November – Con 33%, Lab 40%, LD 9%, UKIP 12%; APP -27

    8 out of last 10 Labour at 39% or better

  41. The Cross-breaks make interesting reading as well.

    Conservatives now primarily regional party of the rest of the South with a scattering of the very old elsewhere.

  42. @catmanjeff
    I think your conclusions are correct, but it is not quite that simple. SD is not a “pure” measure here as it is confounded with trends and real fluctuations in VI – for example, as an extreme example, if you repeatedly and accurately measured the height of somebody who was growing over the period of measurement, you could calculate an SD but it would be pretty meaningless. I don’t think this matters as far as differences between polling companies are concerned, as we can assume that both companies have the same underlying trends and fluctuations. However, It does mean, I think, that SD is over-stimated, which is itself interesting (to me at least!)

  43. “The R has died out in most of England since the 50s. Apart from the SW only North Lancs is still rhotic and (from personal observation only) it isn’t thriving among the younger generation. It has disappeared from it’s old haunts in the SE. ” (Postageincluded)

    I have heard the r pronounced in fenland Cambs, Chatteris for example, and in Raunds Northants. Also occasionally in the more rural parts of Hertfordshire. I think the change is partly to do with people moving out of towns in search of housing.

    If you want rural accents, and can get up before 6 am, you can hear authentic local accents on the BBC R4 Farming Today – perhaps with half an ear on the dialogue, as sometimes farmers have moved to a cheaper area to buy land.

    Coming back to the subject, polling (revenons à nos moutons as the French say) speech does matter in how parties are perceived, and I suspect that the Conservatives might be a little more acceptable to electorates north of the Trent if they used as their spokespeople some who sounded more northern.

  44. @Catmanjeff
    “Therefore we can conclude, based on that data, that Populus get the same VI for Labor and the Conservatives, but are significantly different for the LDs.”

    Strictly speaking, we can only conclude that over the period as a whole there was no statistically significant (95%) difference between YouGov and Populus for Lab and Con.

    i.e. It doesn’t mean that they were the same, rather that the differences were too insignificant to feature.

  45. Rergarding the living wage, energy price freeze etc. Does anyone think Labour are unveiling these a little too early given we are 18 months from an election?

    It could be a response to the problems for EM over the summer and the narrowing in the polls and this has forced Labour to unveil them now.

    Or do you think that it is necessary to start to build a narrative this far out?

  46. “Does anyone think Labour are unveiling these a little too early given we are 18 months from an election?”
    Nope . Too many reasons to list. What Lab have said is clear enuf. I am waiting to hear whether there will be any real action taken in the next few weeks to ease the pain of energy costs. I am not interested in window dresssing or PR waffle. I expect some sort of VI movement when real bills pop through letterboxes.

    Sadly, I think there are many people who don’t really understand percentages and have not really taken it all in yet. But they do understand pounds and pence.

  47. Couper – Lynton Crosby has a saying, “you can’t fatten the pig on market day”. Parties need to get some policies out early so the public have time to pick them up and remember them, the party can build out its narrative and offer and so on.

    The potential downside is that governing parties have time to locate the flaws in opposition policies and rip them apart, copy ones that are good and just carry them out themselves, or undermine them in some other way (e.g. say an oppostion promised to carry out a nice new education policy, funded by a new tax on energy companies. A government could put its own tax on the energy companies and spend the money on, say, the NHS. The opposition would then be left with an unfunded education policy).

    It’s a balance that needs to be struck – what an opposition really wants to do is announce earlyish only policies that are bulletproof (normally the simpler ones, with less room for horrid complications), don’t need lots of funding that can be whipped away, and which for whatever reason the government are unlikely to nick.

  48. @Catmanjeff

    Those are quite interesting findings of yours, and apologies in case my earlier post came across as nitpicking.

    They may cast some further light upon how Populus have constructed their methodology. When they introduced their online polling, they didn’t have the ability to compare party identifiers to actual vote as disclosed in May 2010. (YouGov do of course). Now Populus will be aware of the example of Angus Reid, who before the last GE also introduced online polling without such a benchmark, and came a cropper (predicting big Con majority). They know that they have to do better than that for their own credibility. They’ve already said something cryptically to the effect that the methodology that they use for identifiers has been tweaked to produce plausible results.

    What did Populus do? Here’s my best guess, informed by your findings. They realised that YouGov has the data and track record and so will be able to do what they can’t with identifiers and come up with something pretty close to the mark. So I suspect what Populus did was to track YouGov’s published online polls with their unpublished test online ones of around the same time, and tweak their methodology until they found a benchmark (earlier British Social Attitudes Survey) that happened to give a Lab-Con lead that was pretty consistent with that of YouGov. And they then adopted that methodology.

    I suspect also that they realise that that methodology treats UKIP identifiers wholly implausibly as a by product, but that they couldn’t square that circle with otherwise keeping Lab and Con in line with YouGov. So they were prepared to run with it because they think that (a) the Lab-Con figures are those which they’ll ultimately be judged on and (b) it’s quite likely that the current UKIP VI with other companies won’t be matched at the GE itself, in which case Populus could come up smelling of roses for all the wrong reasons.

    That said, the limitations of their approach is that it has worked so far over a summer period where the UKIP VI share has proved pretty stable, which is the period of your findings. If the “wasted vote” argument etc starts to cause UKIP identifiers to transfer allegiances to other parties, then we know that as the Populus methodology all but ignores those people, that transfer will also be ignored. And if so, there is still plenty of potential for Populus to come a cropper.

  49. @AW

    Makes sense and certainly applies to the two policies in question.

  50. @John Pilgrim

    “But I genuinely regret the lack of professional sociological response to some basic questions of VI, such as that of the part played in politics by organised and sometimes manipulated religion”

    Well I do a PhD in sociology, so I guess that makes me the resident sociologist (to everyone’s great misfortune!)

    I’m not too sure exactly what you’re asking here, but something related to religion that I’ve always thought interesting is that Ed Milliband is the only major party leader who is openly atheist. Whether that will play a role in voting intentions I don’t know (it could play a negative role in that some Christians don’t vote for him – or a positive role in that other religions become more likely to vote for him, or none at all. All idle speculation on my part, though.)


    “Rergarding the living wage, energy price freeze etc. Does anyone think Labour are unveiling these a little too early given we are 18 months from an election?”

    No its best to put out some policies before the election to demonstrate competence/that you can do more than just attack government policy.

    With the energy price freeze its a particularly shrewd move; Miliband knows that Cameron would never countenance doing such a thing (so the policy won’t be stolen) but it also means that, as we’re seeing, in the desperation to do something about energy prices he takes the energy company narrative that its all green taxes fault and resolves to remove those (which may or may not help consumers, but what it definitely does is feed into the other narrative line that Cameron is ‘weak at standing up to the strong’).


    I attended a lecture yesterday by a man from Ipsos Mori on the nature of surveys – naturally political polling came up. He mentioned the problem of self-selection, specifically in relation to online panels for voting intention (but didn’t really elaborate). IIRC YouGov uses online panels – in which case how is the problem of self-selection dealt with (or is it reluctantly accepted as a necessary evil)?

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