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. NC

    “We really, really, need Ashcroft’s polling now”

    Agreed, but a series of Ashcroft’s Batches of constituencies, over several weeks, will give us a much better picture of the extent to which the Murphy/McTernan NLiS Triangulation project has an appeal to possible converts like Tories or ex-Lab Yessers.

  2. @NC

    Interesting graph on the SNP and Labour VI trajectories over the last few months. Based on a visual inspection alone, it rather looks as if SNP may have peaked late last year – rather too soon to do the serious damage that some posters have been speculating about.

    A number of contributors have been saying that there are *hints* of an SNP downturn over the last six weeks or so, but I haven’t seen any post confirming (or challenging) the statistical reliability of such a change. If Catmanjeff doesn’t get out his CUSUM package I might have to check it myself…

  3. @AC,

    I refer you to my previous comment about hyperbole in reacting to efforts to tackle terrorism.

    Israel’s armed forces certainly carry out some morally questionable strategies and tactics. And you could probably characterise the barely-targeted shelling of Gaza a terrorist act if you were so inclined, but the attitude that Israel as state is some sort of terrorist organisation is just the sort of thing that convinces previously peacable muslims that it’s alright to blow up buses in Tel Aviv.

  4. Colin/Batty

    Next time I visit Bexhill we should ALL meet up at the De La Warr.

    Re. whether nous sommes toutes Charlie or not [I heard a French Muslim woman all covered up saying that she wasn’t] what seems not to have been mentioned is that the cartoons that are considered offensive are just at the top of a slippery slop.

    To be followed by women wearing bikinis, women in general, men not having a beard [or maybe having one for some faiths], wearing a hat, playing the guitar, singing, dancing, laughing, crying…….. it would be a very long list.

    That is why we ARE all Charlie.

    We are ALL in the f^cking firing line – literally.

  5. NEIL A

    I’m not questioning Israel’s right to exist and of course they have a right to defend themselves against terrorist attacks and like most people in the world I deplore violence and attacks on civilians.

    However illegal occupying, slamming missiles into s strip of land around the size of the Isle of Man with 1 million people living in it, denying them the right to properly exist rather than live an existence in my view is state sponsored terrorism.

    I hardly think Israel is a beacon for democracy.

  6. PAUL

    Will keep it brief for obvious reasons :-) lol.

    I agree completely

    ( Actually I think “je suis ahmed” should receive as much prominence )

  7. Unicorn

    There has been plenty of Scottish full polling over the last few weeks – YouGov, Survation and ICM.

    All three showed an improved SNP lead while the YouGov daily sample into January shows a continuing SNP lead and Labour stuck in mid 20s.

    What number cruncher is postulating is a ONE per cent uptick in Labour support post Murphy election.

    If correct then this must rate as the most limp political honeymoon in history!

  8. Ashcroft doing Hallam again would be peachy after the recent press coverage – not least today’s Guardian piece.

    The rally I attended in Barker’s Pool, Sheffield today was generally a pleasant if cold experience. The Lord Mayor, Deputy Leader of the Council, and others spoke, as well as representatives from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in the city. It was heartening to see hundreds of people from a city with little connection to Paris turn out to show their support for free speech and opposition to terror.

    The event was marred by the presence of some nationalists with a banner, and the SWP who thought it was an appropriate occasion to go around pushing their squalid little paper. A plague on both their houses, but that was sort of the point – letting them be there helped demonstrate how small their support really is. That is why we let the unpleasant speak out.

  9. @ AC

    The prime minister of Izrael was there to tell the French Jewish population that they are welcomed if they want to immigrate to Izrael. Somewhat under reported, but he said it.


    “If correct then this must rate as the most limp political honeymoon in history!”

    I expect (not counting cross breaks) Westminster Labour in Scotland to gain some VI over the next couple of months but like you say, it’s been a limp of a honeymoon for poor ole JM.

  11. LASZLO
    @ AC
    The prime minister of Izrael was there to tell the French Jewish population that they are welcomed if they want to immigrate to Izrael. Somewhat under reported, but he said it

    Why anyone in France would want to move to Israel is beyond me?

    I never knew that’s why he was over but i don’t think many will take him up on his offer.

  12. @ Hal

    Yes, there are some tentative signs of that – UKIP also did a higher-than-normal score in one of the Holyrood polls

    Something to keep an eye on, but unlikely to affect too many seats

  13. @ OldNat

    Either way is good, but it would be helpful if he did a Scotland-wide poll at the same time… Then we’d have a good idea of the ‘shape’ of the swings vs a comparable benchmark.

  14. @ Scotslass

    “All three showed an improved SNP lead while the YouGov daily sample into January shows a continuing SNP lead and Labour stuck in mid 20s.”

    So, whilst some see hints that Labour is gaining ground on the SNP you (and no doubt others) see signs that the SNP is still pulling ahead.

    That’s why we need dispassionate checks to see what is *really* happening.

  15. Also it goes without saying that 1% is WAY inside the margin of error for that sample…

  16. NC

    You could always suggest that strategy to him?

    (btw I loved your subtle #FoxNewsFacts tweet!)

  17. Amber
    shooting in the hand? I thought that was only the Lone Ranger!
    J Murphy?
    J Murphys all over the world will be puzzled to receive terribly humorous social media messages about their ever so limp honeymoons.

  18. @ Old Nat

    …the Murphy/McTernan NLiS Triangulation project has an appeal to possible converts like Tories or ex-Lab Yessers.


  19. I’d better be careful so!

  20. @ Oldnat

    Thanks, well I could have accused them of confusing East and West Midlands (which would be like confusing Edinburgh with Glasgow) but I though better of it!

    Re the polling I’ll have a word with sheik Ashcroft…

  21. It is seldom that Northern Ireland gets any attention – and even then, frequently lazy assumptions about past links being automatically available to GB parties after May, are often trotted out.

    Useful, then, to see an article on its relevance now.

    At the same time I wouldn’t assume, as the author does that SF would continue to refuse to take their seats at Westminster, if they felt that the threat of doing so and subsequently voting, would further Republican interests. Unlikely, but not inconceivable.

  22. Persuading SF to take their seats would be a prize so worthwhile I’d almost not care that it was to prop up a Labour minority government.

  23. Amber Star,

    Tories, ex-Labour Ayes… Same thing, surely?

  24. Neil A

    I fear you misunderstand if you imagine that you could ever persuade “SF to take their seats”.

    If they felt there was a big enough gain for Republicanism/Ireland they might decide to hover somewhere near the possibility that they might park their backsides in a location most disruptive to the Westminster Establishment.


    More and more Jews are leaving France. They usually go the place they are most welcome – Israel.

    Truth is Israel is a very xenophobic nation; but I’d argue that the world has given the Jews in Israel very little reason not be quite afraid of it.

  26. Wasn’t the reason for SF not taking Westminster seats that they had to swear allegiance to the Queen in order to do so? Or did that change at some point?

  27. @Oldnat,

    Although there is room for a bit of procedural compromise, taking your seat in parliament is one of those things (like being dead) that you can’t really equivocate over.

    SF voting in a confidence vote to sustain a Miliband government would be a tacit acceptance that Westminster has authority over Northern Ireland. They wouldn’t of course have to accept that it should have that authority, but they would have to accept that it does.

    To a certain extent this would be a logical extension of the direction of travel of SF, from entering the power-sharing government, to supporting the PSNI, to shaking hands with the Queen. But it would still be a very welcome bit of additional progress. I’d rather have SF inside the tent p***ing out.

  28. @Fraser

    One of the greatest threats to Israel is the divergent birth rate between Jewish residents and Arabs. I’ve read that Palestinians, when enquiring after each other’s children, sometimes jokingly ask “So how are your demographic problems today?”

    Fresh influxes of European Jews will always be a welcome opportunity to redress (slightly at least) the balance.

    But that’s probably too cynical a view. Israel’s entire purpose is to shelter Jews from persecution. They don’t need an ulterior motive.

  29. @RosieandDaisie

    ” Next time I visit Bexhill we should ALL meet up at the De La Warr.”

    Your company would be good I think, certainly from on the evidence of your posts, but the old Ironing Man, Col as well?? Surely not?

    As I heard somebody say on the gogglebox the other day, I don’t mind dying of old age, but not boredom. Please, not boredom!

    The silly old sausage said he’d been an FD once. I think he still is, but it’s quite possible my initials may represent entirely different words to his! lol


  30. NC/Neil A

    I think the opposition to swearing the oath was the dual one of not recognising the authority of Westminster, nor the Queen over NI.

    Most things in politics can be fudged, however, if the gains are sufficient.

    SF MPs could take the oath – “I (name of Member) do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.” – as citizens of the Irish Republic, and not as British Citizens. I don’t know what legal duties an Irish citizen has to the UK monarch, but there may well be some wiggle room in there.

    While the current rules of Westminster Parliament are rather discriminatory, in not allowing Irish Gaelic as an additional language to take the oath, I doubt if many MPs (who gave a damn) could tell the difference between that and a Scots Gaelic oath.

    What I’m not clear on from the Parliament website is whether there is a time limit between the date of election and taking the oath. Anyone know the answer?

  31. Neil A,

    That is a very valid point. It is a typical response – yet if challenged as a double standard, what do you expect the reaction might be ?

    It is for this reason I believe that Sajid Javed is right to point out that British Muslims need to do more to make clear that these people do not represent their community. I thought the comment by Eva Simpson on Sky News attacking Sajid Javed in that context was quite feeble.

    For a Muslim member of the cabinet to encourage his own community to do more highlights how little is done by British Muslims to denounce such terrorism. The long-term consequences for acceptance of Muslims as being truly British are not auspicious. This needs to be tackled now or it will feed an eventual backlash which could make UKIP’s current policies appear modest.

  32. Neil A

    I’m rather looking forward, after May, to seeing a sizeable number of MPs just inside the tent p***ing in! :-)

  33. @Paul H-J,

    I don’t think muslims should be put on the spot and required to make any kind of specific demonstration of their disapproval.

    I honestly think it’s a bit of a red herring. The muslim voices I hear in the media are overwhelmingly making it utterly clear that Islam and Islamism are not the same thing. They are generally self-appointed spokespersons, of course, but that’s the inherent nature of decentralised Islam. The only terrorism case I have any direct knowledge of (the Nicky Reilly bombing in Exeter) demonstrates that actually, ordinary muslims were extremely responsible and helpful – absolutely sharing the concerns and priorities of the rest of society.

    After 9/11, I remember footage of Palestinians (Yasser Arafat included) attending clinics to give blood. Mahmoud Abbas was arm in arm with other leaders in Paris today (albeit about 8 leaders removed from Netanyahu – but at least in the same daisy chain). There have been countless examples of French muslims expressing support for the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign.

    But the false equivalences that some muslims (and some on the left, opportunistically drawing parallels with other pet grievances around race relations, anti-authoritarianism, anti-imperialism etc) draw between terrorism and the policies of Western governments are the base of the pyramid which, at its zenith, supports terrorism.

  34. @Oldnat,

    You nationalists are a veritable herd of incontinent cats, I don’t doubt…..

  35. @Hal

    “I assumed that was the aggregate for December, but then it could be January. Hard to tell as the graphs are not labelled.”

    If you visit the main Calendar month page:

    “and the last value in each series will be an incomplete month.”

    I could label them, but it becomes a messy chart.

  36. And with enough polling data out since the holiday break, I’m posting updates from my Model again –

  37. Jayblanc

    “I should note that the model currently applies a strong revert to mean on Scottish vote share, which allows Labour to retain more seats than it would if there was an election tomorrow and Scottish polling has been correct.”

    Isn’t it fairly obvious that if you randomly allocate “a strong revert to mean” then you will produce a larger number of seats that remain unchanged?

    It might happen in practice, or the party VIs may remain unchanged, or VIs may shift against LiS.

    Ashcroft’s polling may give us a guide, but as it stands, your statement smacks of “special pleading”.

    [btw You have a formatting problem at the top of the page]

  38. @OldNat

    Revert to mean also punishes Labour. And UKIP. The main beneficiary of revert to mean is the Conservatives. And when I say strong, I mean ‘Labour don’t get entirely wiped out, merely reduced to a tiny rump of Scottish seats’. And yes, I should have guessed that you would still find fault with a prediction that the SNP have a chance to be part of the next government. If the SNP surge is sustained closer to the election, then the model will increase the already massive lead it gives them.

  39. @Statgeek,

    Oh I see. So the last bars are January and the difference to the previous month (UKIP up, SNP down) could be due just to the YG methodological change.

  40. @ Jay Blanc

    As you know, I have previously expressed concerns about the workings of your model. In particular, I don’t understand its apparent bias against the Tories (and also in favour of Labour) compared with other models.

    You have explained that the future shifts in VI support are governed by ‘reversion’ which in turn is modulated by ‘momentum’ but as you are not prepared to share your formulae it is well nigh impossible for the rest of us to understand how this works.

    A specific example might give some indication why I am sceptical about certain aspects of your procedures.

    Your projection places the Conservative vote share at 32% on election day. This compares with a 33% VI for them in today’s UKPR polling average (as presented at the top of this web page). Now, the Tory vote-share in 2010 was close to 36% and so any standard interpretation of ‘reversion’ would lead us to expect to see their VI move *up* from today’s 33% to a level somewhat closer to their starting point at the beginning of this cycle.

    Granted, the Tory VI stuck at close to 32% for the whole of the past year and so they have no momentum to speak of. In some potential modulation formulae I can see how momentum in the ‘wrong’ direction might reverse the polarity of the reversion effect. But I can’t see how a momentum of zero would have this effect.

    Can you therefore explain why your model doesn’t project a Tory VI rise between now and the election?

    As it stands, it seems to be a reversion model thwt doesn’t produce reversion effects.

  41. @Unicorn

    The model also thinks that Labour will be tied with the Conservatives on vote share, despite currently having a lead in the average, and having had a lead in the vast bulk of polling conducted over the last few years. You seem to have missed that, in order to make accusations of anti-tory bias.

    Momentum is a common english word, you can look up what it means, and then work out how that would be applied to moving numbers. If I apply a revert to mean, moderate it by momentum, and reference to the recent average, I can produce an estimate of a future result. I’m not going to give you the exact ratios I use or how those are determined. For the same reasons polling companies don’t hand out their weighting.

    You seem to want me to solely apply swing-back, despite swing-back not having reflected the current poll movement at all. Again, reversion and *momentum*. It is not solely a reversion model. If polling for something has been on a downward trend, then that momentum moderates how much reversion will occur.

  42. I await the complaints from the Labour supporters for underestimating their ability to win a majority, and the UKIPers for not predicting that they’ll retain their by-election seats…

  43. what’s happened to the election guide section of this website?

  44. @ Jay Blanc

    I certainly don’t want your model to eschew momentum and use only Swingback/reversion. I acknowledged in our earlier exchange that I think the use of momentum is a a good idea. Moreover I welcome the availability of *any* model or tool that might help us to grapple with projection issues.

    So, I’m not asking for a different model. I am just asking for your own insights about how your model comes up with some of its calculations.

    Are you not just a little surprised and concerned that your model lowers the projected Conservative VI by *any* amount over the next four months?

    Reversion to the mean should shift this value upwards and – dictionary definition or not – I think we can agree that the Tory VIs have zero momentum at the moment. So I still don’t understand how the model you have described could have produced the 32% Tory VI projection in the summary you have posted today.

    Note that some of the regression analyses I have carried out have placed the Tories at 32% on May 7. But these calculations are explicitly premised on the assumption that current (linear) trends will continue unchanged, and so include no provision for reversion-to-mean beyond what might already be embedded in the regression equation.

    This makes it look as if the Tory reversion process may have inadvertently been switched off in your model. If not, why are the expected changes not appearing in the output?

  45. NEIL A
    The expression “shoot to kill” always amuses me. If a police officer shoots someone, they are always shooting to kill.

    -When I was trained as a firearms officer I was instructed that in the unfortunate situation that I had to shoot someone it would be because of the fear of imminent death or serious injury to myself or others.

    We were instructed to shoot to incapacitate normally by shooting to the torso rather than the head (because it’s an easier target to hit) and if the individual died that was their look out but it isn’t entirely true to say that the intent was to kill.

    The majority of individuals shot by police in the mainland UK don’t die.

  46. @Unicorn

    Considering that the Conservative VI has been coasting downwards on average for over a year, economic confidence is falling, and Conservative VI rallies have been short lived, no I’m not surprised. Reversion to mean is keeping their head above water. They’re currently tied because Labour have a downward coasting momentum too.

    Also, I have to correct you, in that even if Conservative VI were static, inertia is not the lack of momentum but the lack of change in momentum. A static VI has momentum to continue being where it is.

    Also, keep in mind, reversion to mean diminishes the closer we get to the election. We’re getting ever closer to the point where it’s irrelevant to continue using it at all.


    @”Why anyone in France would want to move to Israel is beyond me?”

    Is this a good enough reason for you ?

  48. Jayblanc

    My concern with your model is not with the actual number of seats you predict for any party, but with why you appear to apply a strong revert to mean specifically to Scottish polling.

    An explanation of your reasoning would be useful.

  49. @OldNat

    No, it’s because SNP (somewhat like UKIP) have had a such big increase over 2010, that they are the most affected by revert to mean. That should be obvious.

  50. @Neil A

    Re moderate Muslim spokesman. Tariq Ramadan wrote a pretty sound piece in the Guardian a couple of days ago which had me nodding along with most but not all of what he was saying. ( I believe he is a professor of Comparative Religion at Oxford)

    However, in the comments section, someone pointed out the following:-

    “Tariq Ramadan’s words to a Muslim audience in Germany, on May 21, 2008, quoted by Dr. Sami Alrabaa:
    Ramadan said,

    My brothers and sisters, we must exploit the so-called democracy and freedom of speech here in the West to reach our goals. Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the Koran teach us that we must use every conceivable means and opportunity to defeat the enemies of Allah. Tell the infidels in public, we respect your laws and your constitutions, which we Muslims believe that these are as worthless as the paper they are written on. The only law we must respect and apply is the Sharias’

    I admit to being totally stunned by that and I am beginning to wonder if we are not being incredibly naive about the problem we could be facing.

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