This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is out here. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%. YouGov’s average for UKIP this week has been running at only been 14%, so the 18% here looks unusually high – it could be an effect of the the events in Paris, or could just be a random blip.

Part of the rest of the poll addressed the attack on Charlie Hebdo – of course, these figures need to be seen in that context and people’s opinions may very be different in circumstances that are not so emotionally charged (it’s an issue I’ve sometimes commented on about polling about the death penalty – people only commission polls on the death penalty when there is a particularly heinous murder in the news, so polls are always influenced by a particular event).

Looking at the polling, a strong majority of people think the press should be free to criticise, mock and ridicule religion, but even in the current context a sizeable minority disagree. Around a quarter of people think the media should not be allowed to mock or ridicule religious beliefs or figures, 18% think the media should not even be allowed to criticise or question religion. More specifically, 69% of people think it was acceptable for Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, 14% unacceptable. In the aftermath of the attack, 63% think that other newspapers should have reprinted the cartoons, 71% that the media in general have an obligation to show controversial items that might offend people if they are newsworthy.

Moving back onto party politics, YouGov asked about the two issues that dominated the first few days of campaigning last week – the economy and the NHS – along with expectations and preferences for the result.

A majority of people (58%) think that the pledges and promises that Labour have made mean they would end up having to increase taxes on people like them. However, people feel almost the same about the pledges and promises made by the Conservative party – 51% think they would end up having to increase taxes for people like them. Overall 37% think George Osborne has been a good Chancellor, 44% a bad one – a net rating of minus 7. This actually compares relatively well to people’s recollections of past Chancellors – Alistair Darling scores minus 19, Gordon Brown minus 18, Ken Clarke minus 8 and minus 19 for Norman Lamont.

Labour maintain their normal lead on the party most trusted to deliver NHS services – 31% would trust a Labour government under Ed Miliband more, 22% a Conservative government under David Cameron (there was a ComRes poll late last year that showed David Cameron more trusted than Ed Miliband on the NHS, which caused some comment. I think that’s probably just a salutory lesson of not paying too much attention to single polls with unusual results – the overwhelming majority of polls on the NHS show Labour are more trusted on it even if you do mention David Cameron and Ed Miliband in the question.

Asked about their own experience of GP services, 15% say their local GP service has got better, 34% worse, 40% that is has stayed about the same. 49% of people say they are normally able to get an appointment when they need one, 36% that they are often unable to. 8% say they have had to go to A&E when they were unable to get a GP appointment. Long waits at Accident & Emergency are mostly blamed on people turning up with minor ailments, rather than funding shortages from this or the previous government. 54% blame people turning up with minor problems, 29% blame immigration and health tourism, 28% not enough social care and 27% lack of GP out of hours service.

Looking towards the next election people are split down on the middle on their preferences – 38% would prefer the Conservatives to have the most seats, 38% for Labour to have the most seats. 52% would like one of the parties to win an overall majority, 24% would prefer a hung Parliament. Asked what they think the result will actually be, 59% expect a hung Parliament, only 18% expect a majority government. The Conservatives are seen as slightly more likely than Labour to be the largest party, 42% to 35%. Asked a more detailed question about coalition preferences, Tory voters would prefer another deal with the Lib Dems to one with UKIP (48% to 37%). Labour voters would prefer a Lib Dem deal to one with the SNP or UKIP (42% Lib Dem, 29% SNP, 12% UKIP).

289 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 32, LD 7, UKIP 18, GRN 6”

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  1. If projections are right, it looks like if Labour or the Tories want a majority government they may well have to go in coalition with the SNP whether they like it or not – the LibDems won’t be enough, especially if they want a stable majority. Whether or not the SNP will allow this, though, is another matter. I imagine they could possibly with Labour, but not tories. Then again I’d have said the same about the LDs.

    UKIP and the Greens look like they’ll both get a decent share of the national vote but that it won’t convert into many seats, so they’ll be unlikely to be part of a coalition agreement. Really, it’s the SNP that will be the biggest news at this election, even though they’ve been ignored outside of Scotland and the vast majority of the electorate can’t even vote for them. Very odd times British democracy is in, and, in my opinion, clearly showing just how deeply flawed FPtP is.

  2. I think the NHS questions in the Yougov are a little bit too much bundled into one issue rather than two or more. One issue is waiting times and one is lack of beds/doctors able to treat/handover from an ambulance.

    The waiting times question really only refers to minor injuries but respondents would probably treat this as everything (hence blaming people going to A&E unnecesarily regardless whether is is the fault of GP’s, out of hours services or the patient themselves).

    Clearly people with life threatening injuries are not going to generally be waiting the 4 hours for some sort of treatment without a serious situation at a hospital. I think most people’s concerns would centre around the latter situation.

    Most of the articles I have read this week, together with talking to people involved in the health service (paramedic, someone working in A&E, patient with pneumonia) suggest a problem with treating the serious cases and admissions, ambulance queuing and so on.

    The danger of the Yougov poll would be that the public read those results in the first question about waits in A&E purely in terms of people clogging up A&E with non emergencies and sort that out and you solve the problem. In fact, where it is happening, the basic problem is lack of beds (mainly to do with being unable to release patients back to their home or care home) and possibly in some cases lack of doctors in A&E.

  3. As ever I struggle with attitudes regarding Osborn’s competence (high relatively) and the economy in general. This should put the Tories somewhere out front, but it don’t.

  4. labour are about to scr*w this whole thing up. Leading on the NHS allows the tories to own the economy space, while it doesn’t address labour’s weakest point with the electorate, its economic incompetence.

    A karl rove would advise labour to attack their opponents’ strongest suit. I thought at the end of 2014 that Labour scored some hits by saying that the tories’ deficit reduction plan wasn’t credible. by going onto their comfort zone of the NHS labour are playing very defensively.

    With Scotland being as volatile and uncertain as it is, for the first time I am beginning to think labour might not be the largest party. An astonishing result given the various once in a generation advantages labour has enjoyed this parliament.

  5. @Roland

    Cancelled out by the cost of living question.

  6. Roland

    Bear in mind that voters can respect competence in a politician for whom they do not intend to vote. I for example accept that if your objective is to temporarily stabilise and repair a deeply flawed economy, without challenging it’s inbuilt injustices, casino values and disregard for the environment, then GO has done a good job. This will be reflected in the polls.

    Good Afternoon to you.
    I fully agree with your view that Labour, as New Labour did, with some not negligible success, should attack the Tories on tory ground.

    A Tory-DUP agreement might well allow a five year Cameron Government.

  8. On any other day I’d just about accept that UKIP +5 is plausibly a random fluctuation. Looking at the YouGov 3-month graph, it is the largest fluctuation in the last three months, though. But coming just after the Paris attacks, this “rare fluctuation” is too much of a coincidence for me. cause and effect is a much more plausible interpretation. The big question is, how long this will last and whether it changes the political weather.

  9. For quite some time I’ve been watching various prediction sites and it seems to me they have long been indicating a hung parliament of some sort, especially once the situation changed in Scotland after the referendum. Even the “nowcast” in the top right seems to be moving toward this situation. Yes I know we might expect some events to change the situation enough to make the predictions invalid. But what if they don’t happen?

    Both main parties seem to be heading for 280-290 seats apiece and nowhere near a majority, even topped up with the (much reduced) LD seat count. But even if the Conservatives are the largest party, it seems to me that they will find it harder to find willing coalition partners with enough seats to help them over the line. And I seem to remember this being discussed during the 1992 election night broadcast before it was known that they didn’t need a coalition.

    Rubs hands at the upcoming very interesting election. And some even more interesting negotiations afterwards.

  10. YouGov Sctland crossbreaks – SNP 39 Lab 25 Con 19 LD 4 UKIP 12 Grn 2

  11. Labour will be able to count on 3 SDLP from NI – and Lady Hermon.

  12. @Peter Crawford – that is an interesting observation, and you may well be correct. One thing to add however, is the easy assumption that Labour ‘should’ be romping home this time.

    I think it’s very difficult, and in the UK historically extremely rare, for a government to go from opposition to majority in a single election. It would be almost unique for a party that suffered such a huge loss of vote share to jump immediately into the majority.

    Indeed, I think the seat allocation in 2010 masked what was a massive defeat for Labour in terms of vote share. Lib Dems probably helped prevent a Con majority, while Labour’s vote spread in E&W enabled them to secure significant heartland seats on a pitifully small vote share, while the Cons legacy issues in Scotland handed Labour a substantial seats bonus.

    In many ways, the drubbing they took in 2010 was actually worse than the Tories took in 1997 and 2001, but thanks to electoral geography, Labour came out with a relatively healthy 258 seats as opposed to the Tories 170 odd.

    I think you are forgetting just how heavy Labour’s defeat was in 2010, and as a consequence you are underestimating the task they face in 2015.

    Under any historical comparison, were Labour to bounce back to a majority, or even largest party, that should be viewed as a pretty substantial triumph.

  13. @Chris lane – “A Tory-DUP agreement might well allow a five year Cameron Government.”

    A Tory-DUP agreement might well completely scupper any talk of EVEL as well.

    Alliances with regional parties (in UK context) are very much a double edged sword for Cons.

  14. “38% would prefer the Conservatives to have the most seats, 38% for Labour to have the most seats”

    If the result at the General Election maybe a close loss for the Conservatives.
    It might help their long term realignment.
    A possible repeat of the 1974-79 situation.
    With a new leader emerging, as Cameron seems to be a leader from the pre Lehman Brothers collapse.

  15. Con 2010 to UKIP at 7.5% pts VI -a full 6% pts VI , net , greater than Lab to UKIP.

    …..and still hanging on to level pegging.

    If DC can find that magic button to press which reverses that flow ; with Lab down at these levels , he can win.

  16. Peter Crawford

    “With Scotland being as volatile and uncertain as it is”.

    The polls are showing the direct opposite of that. The SNP held a 5% lead over LiS in Feb 2014, which it has now extended to a 15-25% lead.

    If we follow OfCom’s example and use GB polls as a surrogate for England, then Lab had a 6% lead over Con back in Feb 2014, which they have now lost, and the two biggest English parties are on level pegging.

    As Scotland has become more certain of its choice, England has returned to vacillation.

    Of course, public opinion may change in either country or both before May, but there is more reason to suggest that, currently, voters in England are those with the more volatile views.

  17. Colin
    Much the same can be said of Labour’s loss of votes to the SNP , Greens – and indeed UKIP!

  18. I’ve looked at the exact seat count in the 1997 eleciton, and I think Labout missed an enormous opportunity to completely alter the nature of political discourse.

    Out of 659 seats, Labour had 418 and the Tories 165. This left the opportunity for 245 Labour MPs to form a government, with the remaining 173 becoming a single opposition grouping (who would abstain in any confidence vote). And as the *largest* opposition grouping, they would have had a substantial, impact on the conduct of the opposition (and might even have supplanted the Tories as the official opposition).

    A particular advantage would have been that it would have given a legitimate and visible voice to the left wing of the party, shifting the nature of debate and presenting the Tories as a dwindling sideshow.

  19. OldNat
    There may be thevaguest hint that SNP support has peaked -this week 3 out of 5 YouGov crossbreaks this week have them dipping below 40%

  20. An alliance with the DUP would up-end Northern Ireland stability, give unionist parties a greater grant of power within Northern Ireland, and risk the break up of the Good Friday agreement.

    It’s important to realise that it’s not just a matter of making all the numbers add up to more than 325. There are reasons tied deep within the entire Northern Ireland peace process that mean it would be madness for any Unionist party to become part of a Westminster Coalition.

  21. GRAHAN

    Don’t think so-not in the same league VI wise:-

    Net Con to UKIP excess over Lab to UKIP 6% pts VI

    Lab to Green 1% pt VI

    Lab to SNP 1% pt of VI

    And of course the small national effect of the SNP defection belies its effect in seats-being representative of that famous Labour “advantage”-the urban constituency with high Labour support levels-OK until those efficiently packed Labour voters decide to vote for someone else.

  22. Alec
    ‘I think it’s very difficult, and in the UK historically extremely rare, for a government to go from opposition to majority in a single election. It would be almost unique for a party that suffered such a huge loss of vote share to jump immediately into the majority. ‘

    That is overstating it a bit. Labour was elected in October 1964 and defeated in June 1970. Labour returned to office in March 1974 only to be ejected in May 1979 .Two elections were involved on both occasions, but despite that Labour’s period in office was just over five years. Beyond that the Heath Government held office for just over three and a half years. Going back in time Baldwin’s Tory Govt was elected in October 1924 with a majority of 200 – only to lose office in Spring 1929. Such an outcome is, therefore, very far from being unique.

  23. Colin
    I would seriously doubt the 6% figure you are relying on re- UKIP.The polls differ a bit but suggest that circa 45% of the UKIP increase comes from 2010 Tories – compared with 15% from Labour. On the basis of a rise in UKIP support of 12% the net loss to the Tories since 2010 would be 3.6%
    However, it has also been suggested that quite a few of the Tory to UKIP switchers are likely to have been Labour voters in 2005 who went Tory in 2010. Such voters are quite likely to revert to Labour -rather than to the Tories.
    Re – Scotland. Polls currently give Labour circa 26% compared with 42% in 2010. That would be a loss of 1.5% in terms of GB voting share.

  24. @Peter Cairns / Couper

    See posts in last thread.


    32% / 32%

    This election is fairly looking like it might be a stormer. Imagine the scenario that Lab and Con have to campaign hard for every single seat (not just the marginal ones).

    It’s going to be dirty and nasty, and as a non-politician and non-activist, I can’t wait. :))

  25. Alec,

    Graham is right. the 1979 -2010 was very unusual in having long periods of one party government. the alternation of parties was something which the late victorians, 1920s, 1960s and 1970s would have thought was normal.

    more particularly, the tories’ failure to secure a majority in 2010 was very significant and unusual. the coalition was unusual and allowed labour to scoop up disaffected centre left voters who propped up the lib dems. For most of this parliament it looked as though the lib dem defectors would secure no. 10 for Miliband.

    When you throw into the mix the rise of UKIP which has gained traction in historically tory parts of the country- lincolnshire, rural norfolk, essex and kent- you could see labour had a golden opportunity.

    2015 was manifestly winnable for labour. indeed for much of the 2010-2015 parliament, labour looked likely to form the next parliament. Even now, I think they are just ahead in terms of likelihood of winning the most seats.

    I am sorry the labour performance, given these advantages, has been woeful. complacency, mixed messaging, lack of courage has meant labour is hobbled at about 32/33%, at a time when the tories don’t seem to be able to get much more than this.

    I think the long term future for labour is pretty bleak, if they do form a government. The SNP will be increasingly dominant in Scotland, while the right, esp. if the tories and ukip form some kind of nonagression pact, will dominate England and Wales.

    Leaving the Tories to “own” the economic agenda is very foolish indeed.

  26. Old Nat,

    If you’re right, the SNP should sweep the board in 4 months’ time at the General Election in Scotland and win 30-35 seats….is this likely in your opinion?

  27. @Amber (FPT)

    “Outlier” – Looking at the Con + UKIP for Scotland (ignore the CBs, I know)…I’m inclined to agree until we see a few more.


    Given that UKIP is being prompted and is now “a major party”, why is Farage not included in the leadership ratings?

  28. Peter Crawford,

    I think that the problem for Labour on the economy has been finding a consistent narrative. The “squeezed middle” was a good start, but it seemed to be dropped because it was too exclusive. Labour were anti-austerity from about 2010-2013, but I think that was downplayed as the economy recovered and it became apparent that the Coalition wasn’t that committed to deficit reduction either.

    The cost of living crisis was a good one around 2011, when inflation was high and real wages were falling (and there was a strange conflation of real wages = standard of living = cost of living that was economically illiterate but it worked) but it has lost traction in the era of falling oil prices and supermarket wars.

    That’s not to say that Labour’s policies are wrong/right or that the Coalition has dominated the economic narrative. It’s just that, despite indisputably tough economic times, Labour haven’t won back the ground they enjoyed on the economy under Tony Blair.

  29. Also there is quite a long way to go in the electoral race and perhaps not good
    strategy to fire all weapons at once.Milliband challenged the energy companies
    today to lower their prices whenever wholesale prices fell and is to force a vote
    on this in the Commons next week.This sounds to me like raising a pretty
    fundamental economic question that effects us all.

  30. Ann in Wales,

    I’m not sure that energy prices going up whenever wholesale prices rise is a vote-winner.

  31. Incidentally, does anyone know what’s going on with Labour’s energy price freeze policy?

  32. Peter Crawford

    I’m not sure that you read my post before replying.

    I was referring to current polling and the conclusions that can reasonably be drawn from that.

    You posted “If you’re right, the SNP should sweep the board in 4 months’ time at the General Election in Scotland and win 30-35 seats….is this likely in your opinion?”

    That’s something of a non-sequitur, since I had already said that opinion in either or both countries could change by May.

    It also seems a tad inaccurate – “sweeping the board” would involve winning 45+ seats of the 59 – which is what current polling indicates.

    My opinion is that the wisest course of action is to judge on the best available evidence, but be prepared to alter that judgement , if the evidential basis changes.

    Anything else is guesswork.

  33. ” Labour voters would prefer a Lib Dem deal to one with the SNP or UKIP (42% Lib Dem, 29% SNP, 12% UKIP)”

    29% for SNP and 12% for UKIP but voters in England will only see Nigel Farage’s mug.

  34. OldNat (fpt)

    Ashcroft poll tweeted as being out at 4 pm today – seems a bit unusual to release on a Sunday.

    It seems just to be his normal weekly poll (admittedly the first for a month). He does have a mega-poll on the NHS later in the week and it could be that he’s doing this just to get his normal poll out of the way.

    On the other hand we seem to have been getting quite a cluster of polls on Mondays recently, so it may well be that Ashcroft has decided to shift publication permanently to Sunday where his results are likely to get greater prominence in a usually slow new period. Normally the Ashcroft fieldwork is Friday to Sunday though, so it could be that they are shifting that as well.

  35. Roger Mexico

    Ta. That seems a reasonable explanation.

  36. SYZYGY @ 12.36.
    Thanks for your kind comment.
    I have been asleep from the after shocksince posting my comment last took place on the A 281 between shaves thatch and the Holmbush centre. the passenger front was crushed despite being of strong german construction. my wife took photos later and said that when she saw the damage she realised how close it was to me dying. as the A and E at brighton saved her life by about an hour as she was being eaten alive five years ago I would never ‘have a go at them’ and the attention I got at this time was top rate. they were busy as angela tells me that after they wheeled me out to scan my spine a trolley arrived to take my spot. the love of my life then said they couldn’t have that spot as it was for her david and they went to another one.
    female lions will guard their aged past for sale date lion mates !!
    Anthony my apology for being off thread but a good news story for the NHS is I think worth hearing.

  37. @Graham

    I love these “if my auntie had a pair of whotsits she’d be my uncle” arguments and these ridiculous arithmetic attempts to attribute slabs of voters to parties to make potential percentage vote shares is silliness.

    Voodoo psephology, really. There are a multiplicity of motivations as to why people are saying they will vote in the way are now, and it’s impossible to predict with any certainty how they may migrate in other directions come election time; or indeed if they will.

    The long, slow death of UKIP has been predicted and prayed for by many for a long time. It ain’t going to happen folks and this cut and paste, let’s stick 6% of the UKIP vote on to the Tories and get 40% is for the birds. In 2010, against a historically low Labour vote, the Tories got 36% at a time when UKIP polled 2%.

    You do the maths, as they say.


  38. @Peter Crawford and @Graham – I don’t agree. Lengthy periods of one party government were present before 1979 (1951 – 1964, for example, as well as in the second half of the C19th) and are a reasonably common feature of traditional UK politics. Single term governments are surprisingly rare.

    The examples you give actually back up my case – 1964 and 1974 both saw two elections for the opposition to unseat the government. 1974 also saw Labour regain power after just a single term, but without a majority – they needed a second election to get a bare majority. 1929 also backs my case – Tories lost a big majority, but the result was a hung parliament.

    The point remains entirely valid that on very few occasions in UK politics has a party overcome a majority government to return to a full majority itself within a single parliament, but I would agree that 2015 complicates this as Labour are not up against a majority government.

    This is why I introduced the idea of Labour’s good fortune in seat allocation in 2010. Given a 29% vote share, Labour should have been completely buried in terms of seats, and Cameron sitting on a 200 seat majority. But the seat distribution, concentration of votes and Tories legacy issues in Scotland masked what was in some ways a worse defeat of any party in most of a century.

    So while technically Labour don’t need to buck the trend and overcome a majority in a single term, given the vote share in 2010, a Labour majority in 2015 would historically be a remarkable achievement.

  39. Bill Patrick

    No idea but it sounds like under the threat of the price freeze, energy companies bought up a large amount of gas and elec. at yesterday’s prices, to minimise the risk of future price rises leading to losses. This will restrict the amount they can buy now and the amount of savings that can be passed on.

    Whether it was a genuine threat or not, the energy companies blinked and moved to protect themselves. Any who didn’t will be in a prime position to undercut the market but it seems the big players all took the same position of minimising their own risk by fixing the price they buy at ahead of time.

  40. GRAHAM
    The stoop down low party (SDLP) helped Maggie to win the No Confidence vote in 1979, as you know.

    May be SF (shinners) will end their abstention policy.

  41. Bill Patrick,
    I was talking about prices going down not up!EM was quite succinct about the
    energy price freeze on the Andrew Marr show this morning.

  42. Re energy price freeze. Being spun today that the energy cos have put their prices up and will keep them there because of the anticipated freeze (they have bought fuel forward etc, allegedly). Whether valid or not, this could spike Lab’s guns on the energy price gig so I’m not sure whether that will be effective this time.

    Re economy. I agree not sensible for Lab not to attack on this (don’t know what the plans are) because Osborne’s genius is (to quote John Major) not proven and the truth is people’s wages are still very depressed, and will be in May [at best they may have clawed back a percent or two of the 15 or so they’ve lost]. However the damage to Lab on the economy was done back in 2010 when the ‘Labour’s Mess’ and ‘No money left’ legend took hold without any serious effort at rebuttal. It will be very difficult to reverse this but they must at least try.

  43. ROBIN
    I think your last post belongs to The Joker, or The Penquin. Not Robin.

    The Tory party is dead and the nation will be ruled by the left wing of the Labour party vs the right wing of the Labour party. I mean really.

  44. @Chrislane
    ‘The stoop down low party (SDLP) helped Maggie to win the No Confidence vote in 1979, as you know.’

    Gerry Fitt abstained in that vote to his eternal shame. However, I think he had resigned from the SDLP by that time.

  45. RAF
    “cancelled out by the cost of living crisis.”

    What cost of living crisis? I do not believe that such a situation exists.
    Have you seen how much money was spent at Christmas, was this all from wealthy Londoners living in £2 million pads in Notting Hill.

    A Labour propaganda phrase.

  46. Chrislane
    I was wrong re Gerry Fitt. He resigned later from SDLP.

  47. GRAHAM

    @”I would seriously doubt the 6% figure you are relying on re- UKIP”

    Its from this morning’s YouGov Poll.

    I’m not saying it is all retrievable-but that is the net loss ( over Labour’s loss) to UKIP as recorded by You Gov today.


    I think the main reason DC is unhappy about debates is the fact that he doesn’t get the synchronised steps properly.

  49. ROLY

    Any visit to major stores at present seems to indicate lots of shoppers about.

  50. GRAHAM.
    Gerry Fitt did not get on with Roy Mason. Frank Maguire came over and abstained, from Fermanagh.

    The play ‘The House’ was brilliant on the 19777-79 era.

    I think Neil Kinnock campaigned with the Tories against the Devolution Bills in that parliament.

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