Two polls in the Sunday papers. The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%. That means both the YouGov polls since Cameron’s conference speech have shown a small Tory lead, though it’s worth noting that that the Populus poll on Friday did not show any movement to the Conservatives so the trend is not all one way. The more important caveat is that the polls were taken in the context of very good publicity for the Conservatives from their conference – we don’t know if it will last once the agenda moves on to, say, the expected UKIP by-election win on Thursday.

On that subject the Sunday papers also have the first poll of the Rochester and Strood by-election, conducted by Survation for the Mail on Sunday. Topline figures there are CON 31%(-18), LAB 25%(-3), LDEM 2%(-14), UKIP 40%(n/a), Other 1%(-5). UKIP start out with a lead, but it’s clearly not the complete walk in the park that polling for the Clacton by-election has shown. As commentators have suggested, this one looks like it will be a more competitive fight.

447 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times shows another Tory lead, plus Survation Rochester & Strood poll”

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  1. @Colin
    Thanks for your reply.

    Let me tell you a little true story. I heard about a company who shares were rising rapidly, and bought some. When I got the brochure of the company, I noticed, as you’d except, the directors held shares in the company. They held a higher financial stakes than my little investment. However, I noticed that the finance director held no shares at all. The name of the company was Polly Peck. I sold the shares later as they were not doing much.

    However, as you may know, a certain event occurred. The company Polly Peck which was in the FTSE 100 top shares, suddenly was suspended from the share index and never reappeared, and the shareholders lost everything.

    Now, I am not suggesting that your failure to put any money in the Conservative party suggests a fundamental lack of confidence in its future. However, if everyone failed to put money in, the Party would disappear. It appears the Conservative party and other parties have lost members.

    I am not a member of a political party as you are not. However, unlike you perhaps, I do not have confidence in the voting system. As I say in another post, I think that proportional representation should be offered to the people, and I think that they would vote for it.

    However, who knows?

  2. @ Bigfatron

    I think what you say about the LD’s in fair enough- they will still have MPs and can build again. There will still be people in the South who would never dream of voting Labour but sometimes/always want an alternative to Tories and vice versa in the North.

    However their problem is when you talk about their niche in politics. It isn’t at all clear what that is since the days when they were the Liberal Party with a bit of a hippie flavour to them, big on freedom, quicker to embrace social change and so on.

    The Green party looks to me to hold the ground the Lib Dems used to occupy even if the politics and ideas have moved on. Also you have a Labour party looking decidedly Social Democrat themselves and much closer to the centre than they were in the 1980’s.

    I think also their term in government has weakened public perception of those old Liberal ideas- civil liberties, anti war have all been tested with apparent approval for smashing up Guardian computers and the like. I think it is quite difficult for the public to currently see what Liberal core values are as compared to Lab and Tory ones.


    Thanks for clearing that up but still very impressive membership numbers.


    @”Most voters for whichever party vote f.or that party without being members, or indeed donating money. But they presumably vote for said party because they agree with the general philosophy of that party.”

    That is clearly true-and there are far more of them than party members. Party Membership is an anachronism in the modern world where young people network globally on their phone or tablet.

    Of course it is true that someone needs to propound a political philosophy , find support for its cause, and put candidates into the field , or there will be nothing to vote for.

    But the idea that we all need to be party members has very unpleasant undertones of a different era.

    Party membership , for me would signal abandonment of free thought & the ability to choose. It also seems , for some, to involve deep hatred of opposing viewpoints , and I suppose the the local Party Club & its “Activists” ( the presence of which animal would stop me joining anything ) provides a comforting reassurance for such people.

  5. @Robert Newark

    I have replied to Colin. You may be interested in the reply.

    What was slightly interesting to me in your excellent reply, was when you said that “as Colin will be saying later”. Therefore you must be in contact with Colin and you know what he is going to post.

    You are not living at the same address perhaps, or do you co-ordinate the posts in some other way?

  6. @Colin

    I am not a member of a party, but I used to be and only left because I felt I was obliged to by my choice of profession.

    I have to say that your views on what activists are like are almost as jaundiced as your views on public servants. You should probably join a party for a bit, just to expose yourself to what its really like (not at all rabid, mostly very social) and broaden your perception.

    Perhaps if you ended up in a seat where your only choice was between the CPGB and TUSC, because those sympathetic to your views hadn’t bothered to put their time and money into running candidates, you’d feel differently.

  7. ADGE3


    I have tried to explain my attitude to political involvement in a post to Robert.

    Reference your remark about Poly Peck, I was going to say in that post -you don’t need to be a Tesco Shareholder to shop there.

    So I see no connection.

    I think you are right about membership of political parties. They seem to be dying on their feet . I don’t know what the outcome will be. Social Media must be the way forward for them-its where young people are.

    Re voting system-I kind of like FPTP. I observe the Administrations which emerge from post Election smoke filled rooms on the Continent & they have no appeal for me.

    And having watched this coalition , and the increasingly personal attacks being flung around now, I’m not at all convinced that our politics is ready for Borgen.
    Politics in UK seems much more visceral.

  8. It has been genuinely interesting hearing the LibDems positions on so many issues. The attack the Tories strategy was inevitable of course as they try and appear different. However where I think they will struggle is that on so many of these policies they now oppose, they voted strongly and consistently to support. For a party which has lost so much trust this is a big problem.

    For example they are attacking Tory policies on the working poor. Yet voted strongly for a bedroom tax that mostly hits the working poor….

  9. Colin

    “membership of political parties. They seem to be dying on their feet ”

    Well, except for the three that have recently tripled their membership!

    Also Tories and Labour in Scotland both say that they have attracted new members (though no actual numbers of previous or new memberships are available).

  10. NEILA

    I understand your sensitivity to criticism of ” public servants”.

    Re political activists , ” not at all rabid, ” is a funny choice of words Neil. Perhaps another example of your sensitivity to something I haven’t actually said.

    If I found myself in a constituency where I could not vote for my political preference-I just wouldn’t vote. ??

  11. OLD NAT

    The three being ?

  12. @Roger H
    “It won’t be in the least counter-productive unless you’re in the highly unusual position of having a LibDem candidate who’s more right-wing than the Tory. It could possibly be non-productive but I’d suggest it would more likely be less productive than desired. On the other hand it could be counter-productive if you withhold your vote from the LibDem and end up with a Tory. Which is why LibDem seats aren’t simply about incumbency but also – possibly more so – about tactical voting.”

    I disagree, and you’re ignoring the internal dynamic of the Liberal Democrats. Whether we end up with the Conservatives leading another government depends far more on which party if any the LDs decide to throw their block of MPs behind than on how many MPs they finally end up with. That’s because:

    1. The LDs would be far more likely to regard their coalition as a political experiment not to be repeated if they ended up with say 20 rather than 35 MPs. Clegg would be gone, and so on.

    2. That would be even more the case if the 15 extra MPs lost happened to be those favouring a continuing coalition of the right.

    Look at both of these potential scenarios:
    (a) Lab 285, Con 300, LD 35
    (b) Lab 285, Con 315, LD 20

    I suggest that (a) is more likely to lead to another Conservative government.

  13. Colin

    SNP, SGP, SSP. – All the 3 parties that were part of the Yes campaign.

  14. OLDNAT


    I clearly didn’t take the awakening political activism in Scotland into account .

    Perhaps I was thinking of England :-)

    More seriously-I presume the membership numbers still represent a pretty tiny proportion of the voting population in Scotland ?

  15. Now the dust is beginning to settle after the Lab and Con conferences…

    It would have been good/desirable had EM delivered a great speech but it wasn’t essential that he did. The party is pretty much behind Ed, for now, and it looks as though 35% will carry him into office in 2015. However, he clearly needs to up his game (yet again) as it could all go belly up in the GE campaign. Lab needs to hold Heywood comfortably, otherwise alarm bells will peel and the voices against EM will increase.

    It was essential DC delivered a good speech and (by all accounts) he did. Whether this suffices to keep Con MPs onboard remains to be seen once the two Con-defectors byelections are out of the way. Loss of Clacton will be worrying but loss of R&S will plunge the party into panic and possibly light the true-blue touch paper for more fireworks. DC has ‘created’ an air of nonchalance re losing Clacton but could well be shown to be façade (and PR).

    An interesting week or so ahead.

  16. @Colin,

    I apologise for using the term “rabid” when in fact you referred to activists by the far more congenial description “animals” who have “a deep hatred of opposing viewpoints” and have abandoned “free thought and the ability to choose”.

  17. NEILA

    You usually do better than that Neil. The non-sequitur isn’t normally a tool in you rhetorical box.

    Anyway ……….

    I said “animal”-as in …………Party animal etc etc.
    But it was an interesting thought process Neil.

    @” “a deep hatred of opposing viewpoints”

    For “some” Neil. which means “not all”.

    @”have abandoned “free thought and the ability to choose”.

    What a strange thing to object to. By definition, Party Members have “chosen”-committed-joined..

    Amusing to see you resort to the well known device of apologising in order to emphasise the accusation , rather than to withdraw it.

    Had one of those earlier today-must be catching :-)

  18. @ Colin,

    If I found myself in a constituency where I could not vote for my political preference-I just wouldn’t vote. ??

    Seriously? You have no preference between a Ukip, Lib Dem, Labour, TUSC, or Green government?

  19. Colin,

    Among many things I took issue with in what you said, the most inaccurate was the idea that party activists abandon free thought and have a deep hatred of opposing viewpoints.

    I can only speak for those I’ve met, but I’ve actually found that activists from different parties get along very well. I had some good conversations with rosetted Tories and Kippers in Newark, and when I was in Heywood over the weekend our limited contact with Kippers was basically friendly. Hell, I lived with Tory members and a Green for a year and we got along well.

    There have been a few nasty opposing activists – from the Socialist Party and the Lib Dems – but not many. You’re far more likely to have activists within parties arguing about one another’s views!

    Party membership is largely a way of making friends and meeting fairly like-minded people, and to try to do good work for your community and country. I think it’s quite admirable and would advocate that as many people join parties as possible.



    I really meant , -in a constituency where my own preference could not be found in any of the candidates.

    Of the parties you mention-if there was no Conservative candidate at present-I suppose the Lib Dem might offer some hope. But it would depend on the individual and which wing of the party he represented I suppose.

    Not voting wouldn’t worry me though-thats why I would like to see “None of the Above” on the ballot paper.

  21. Mr N

    Thanks, and I appreciate those views from someone who is clearly involved in political activism.

    I did use the phrase about free thought in connection with myself -ie fearing that membership would militate against it.

    As I have already said, my remark about hatred of opposing views was in respect of “some” people.

    It seems impossible sometimes to make nuanced observations about politics , without someone taking universal umbrage on behalf of some group or other.

    I am sure there are party members and activists who are motivated by the highest sense of purpose and harbour no animosity for opponents.

    Its just not for me MrN-as for the vast majority of the population.

  22. Mr Nameless

    Did I miss it or have you not posted your thoughts about the by-election after your trip to Heywood at the weekend ?

  23. @Number Cruncher – yours of 12.24

    Good graphics – easy to understand is what I mean (no idea if they are technically ‘good’ or not…. that’s beyond me)

    However, you rather underestimate the number of seats the LDs are now defending from SNP – rather as MacTavish underestimated the number of SNP/Lab marginals (see this morning).

    Argyll, Caithness-Sutherland-Easter Ross, Inverness-Strathspey-Badenoch, all now seem vulnerable.

    My point is that to limit the term ‘marginal’ to what was marginal in 2010 without taking into account current polling figures would seem to be less than honest. For example, I doubt Rochester and Strood would have counted as a possible gain for UK in 2010!

  24. I was referring to MacTavish’s question of 11.02 and Statgeek’s reply of 11.51.

    I repeat – it seems to me to make no sense whatsoever in talking only about the 2010 results when referring to ‘marginals’. So much has changed since then.

  25. “A surprising populous and I’m sure an outlier in terms of the general trend of where we are headed.”

    So we’re back to the days when 2 polls showing Tories doing well equals a trend, while two showing Labour extending a big lead equals a pair of outliers.

    Reds do this aplenty in reverse, but polls is polls, as they say. There really isn’t any point trying to deny the evidence by sticking your fingers in your ears and singing ‘la-la-la-la’ loudly.

    At the moment, with have directly contradictory data from two different polling companies.

    I think that’s really all we can say about it – nothing more, and nothing less.

  26. Mine of 2.58

    I ought to have said ‘less than sensible’ rather than ‘less than honest’. Apologies to Number Cruncher et al.

    Also I intended (I think) to write UKIP, rather than UK. Whether, were it not already part of the UK, the constituency of Rochester and Strood would be beneficial to said State I leave to others to say…

  27. Bramley,

    I did post on the constituency guide, but will repost here for the front-pagers.

    Day One:

    Back from a day’s campaigning in Heywood. Must be brief because I’ve come down quite ill and typing on a phone while shivering is hard.

    There is no possibility of a UKIP victory as far as I can see. The Labour inclined working class has stayed remarkably loyal – as H. Hemmelig suggested on the Preston page a couple of days ago. There are pockets of UKIP support, which tend not to be among the very poorest (who are also often elderly) but among the slightly wealthier, privately owned terraces. There were Labour signs on almost every street, which surprised me.

    The middle class areas (which may have voted LD before) are also largely Labour – there were a couple of against but no UKIP that we found. Saw very few other campaigners of every party, except for two UKIPpers in a UKIP branded car.

    Day Two:

    Just got back home after another day’s campaigning in Heywood. Little to say from the doorstep, since I was running the board having lost my voice and there weren’t many people in. We met our first and last Tory, too.

    However, two relevant things to report back. One was that the UKIP leaflets are pitching some Labour policy – exempt NHS from TTIP, repeal the bedroom tax – and running on the theme of “Labour Have Let You Down” (explicitly blaming Labour for the child abuse in Rochdale) and “heating or eating”. We were handed three of them outside the office.

    That brings me on to the second thing I noticed – the UKIP office in Heywood was remarkably empty – in fact only one person was inside. The Labour office by contrast never had fewer than about five party workers inside. Now that could mean one of a few things.

    It could mean that UKIP have poor campaigner numbers, at least in Heywood – and in fairness they’re probably largely working in Clacton and Rochester. It could mean they’re focused on getting as many people out on the ground as possible, as opposed to running a very orchestrated campaign. It could say something about relative campaign strengths in Heywood vs. Middleton – Labour winning in the former and UKIP doing better in the latter (would be good if someone could corroborate that).

    Barring a massive upset before Thursday, this will be a Labour hold.

  28. @MrNameless

    Not having people in the office is universally a bad thing. The ground game really needs someone answering the phones at the local office, think of them as the air support for the ground troops. Of course, it could be UKIP inexperience, with them putting all their people in the field instead of holding some people back in the office to man phones. But I think it’s probably that they just don’t have enough people to do both, even when they could drop national people in to a by-election.

  29. @ John B

    I prefer “less than ideal”, this kind of analysis always has its limits. Ideally I would like to look at projected outcomes, take better account of three-way marginals, fourth parties and so on. But this is a lot more work.

  30. “I repeat – it seems to me to make no sense whatsoever in talking only about the 2010 results when referring to ‘marginals’. So much has changed since then.”

    Can’t see any alternative when there are no later GE results to use.

  31. @ Mr. Nameless,

    Thanks for the on-the-ground reporting. It seems to be corroborated by Lord Ashcroft’s constituency poll:

    LAB 47%
    UKIP 28%
    CON 16%
    LDEM 5%
    GRN 4%

  32. Meanwhile, Lord A’s Monday poll is also showing a Tory lead:

    CON 32%
    LAB 30%
    LDEM 7%
    UKIP 17%
    GRN 7%

  33. Colin

    “I presume the membership numbers still represent a pretty tiny proportion of the voting population in Scotland ?”

    Yes. Although, I don’t think you could realistically describe the total party memberships in the 1980s, at less than 4% of the electorate as huge – and even then that was largely the result of the phenomenal rise in Tory membership in the immediate post-war years, which put all party membership over 9%, which then has slowly declined over time.

    To give a more realistic comparison, the SNP alone has 1.8% of the electorate as members (though that will be a bit inflated by those outwith Scotland), while about 1.1% of the UK electorate were members of any party in 2010, according to the HoC Library research paper.

  34. Here are the changes from last week:

    CON 32% (=)
    LAB 30% (- 2)
    LDEM 7% (-1)
    UKIP 17% (=)
    GRN 7% (+3)

    So apparently there was no conference bounce for the Conservatives but the Green Conference was a rousing success. Must be all that organic cake. ;)

  35. Interesting. On balance I would say a Tory narrowing has occurred, contrary to Survation, but it’s hard to tell when Ashcroft flits all over the place. The question is how long it will last – and also what the true Green share is – it’s been between 3% and 7% in polls seemingly randomly for a while.

  36. OLD NAT

    Thanks-at 1% of the electorate it is a minority sport.

    And I have to remind myself of that frequently when visiting UKPR :-)

    So much has changed in the 30 years you mention. I don’t think people of my age-and all too many businesses-fully understand the effects of mass use of mobile digital devices & social media.

    Perhaps no one does yet-but that is the world young people inhabit today.

  37. Colin

    “And I have to remind myself of that frequently when visiting UKPR :-)”


    I suspect the disconnect between party activists and those who vote for their party is considerably greater than the disconnect between activists of different parties!

  38. @ Mr. Nameless,

    I agree. YouGov seems to be very sensitive to smalls shifts in political opinion- an enthusiasm gap in their polling responses? There has probably been a slight narrowing but not a pronounced as what YouGov are showing, much like the Scottish referendum where it probably did narrow to 48%-52% but not all the way through to a ‘Yes’ lead.

  39. Has Cameron started to make Labour and Ukip voters reconsider? We need more evidence but this is interesting nonetheless…

  40. OLD NAT

    The first part of your last para was what was in my mind when I posted here earlier and got into hot water with the 1% :-)

    Hope your recovery goes well.

  41. Greens actually ahead of Lib Dems on the Ashcroft – even after weighting, it’s Green 7.4%, Lib Dems 6.8%

    Am I right in thinking Populus poll for Ashcroft? The results they get for him, and under their own banner, seem quite different.

  42. The Ashcroft national poll is looking unusual when looking at 2010 vote retention. A full 9% of Labour voters in 2010 don’t know how they will vote at the next election. The current labour VI only has 64% of people who voted Labour in 2010.

    This is at least 10% lower than in most other polling data.

  43. Labour at 30% on Ashcroft is a record low, is it not? seems extraordinary for the reds to be polling roughly where they were in 2010.

    Miliband is the weak link…I think the election will all be about his capacity to be PM. That will be the central issue of the campaign.

  44. Labour’s best hope is to keep miliband hidden from the public as much as possible. the more public the stage the worse impression he makes on the public…what were the unions thinking when they set him up as labour leader?

  45. @ Wes,

    Am I right in thinking Populus poll for Ashcroft?

    You are. The regular Populus polls are an online panel whereas the Ashcroft polls are phone polls, and the regular Populus polls use a weird weighing scheme no one understands, whereas the Ashcroft polls have normal weighing. This may account for the differences.

    @ Gazprom,

    That 9% DK is pretty standard- YouGov numbers are very similar. (The 64% is low.)

  46. By my reckoning, labour’s 30% vote share in the latest ashcroft poll is the lowest since ComRes on 17th June 2010

  47. James Peel

    I think most Tories hope that/will try to make it the big point of the election. It’s never going to be a minor one.

    I think their idea of a 5-3-2 series of debates will be vetoed by labour who will do anything to avoid a direct comparison between Ed and Cameron. Labour will seek to hide Ed behind Clegg as much as possible. “Look over there! That guy is way worse”

    Will labour even go ahead with the debates?

    As to what were the unions thinking? Presumably “the election is in the bag, let’s make sure it’s our man who wins it.”

  48. ALEC

    “So we’re back to the days when 2 polls showing Tories doing well equals a trend, while two showing Labour extending a big lead equals a pair of outliers”

    Make it 3 polls showing a Tory lead..

    Ashcroft Monday poll. (I don’t use the Lord part, bit too elite and snobby for my liking)

    CON 32%
    LAB 30%
    LDEM 7%
    UKIP 17%
    GRN 7%

    So before you go on a tangent of doom & gloom on the cost of living please remember it’s only a poll and there is no need to knock the Tories back off the top of the polling perch.


    “Labour’s best hope is to keep miliband hidden from the public as much as possible. the more public the stage the worse impression he makes on the public…what were the unions thinking when they set him up as labour leader?”

    They were thinking that his brother was a bit far to the right for them.

  50. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact of by-elections on Thursday on the polls.

    With a UKIP victory certain in Clacton, and a Labour victory seemingly certain in Heywood, we live in interesting times!

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