Ten weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls.

YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Opinium/Observer (20/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Ashcroft (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 8%
Survation/Mirror(23/2) – CON 28%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 19%, GRN 4%
ComRes/Mail (23/2) – CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (23/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (24/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (25/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (26/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
Populus (27/2) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%

The voting intention polls are continuing to show the same stasis we’ve had for the whole of the year so far, Con and Lab almost neck and neck, Labour just a smidgin ahead. Of this week’s polls five showed Labour leads, three Tory leads, three with a draw. The UKPR polling average is wholly unchanged from last week, remaining on CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(nc), GRN 6%(nc). Perhaps the most notable change among some very unnotable polls was a change in who commissioned them – ComRes had been the pollsters for the Independent since 2006, but this week switched their monthly telephone poll over to the Daily Mail (they will continue to carry out online polls for the Independent’s Sunday stablemate).

Scottish, London and Constituency polls

TNS put out a new Scottish poll this morning with topline figures for Westminster voting intention of CON 14%(-2), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 3%(-1), SNP 46%(+5), UKIP 3%(+1) (tabs). The previous TNS poll had shown an SNP lead of only ten points, this TNS poll is far more similar to the Scottish figures being shown by other companies.

YouGov put out a new London poll earlier in the week for the Times with topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 9%, GRN 6%. This gives Labour an eight point lead in the London, but given they won the vote in London at the 2010 electon is actually a slightly smaller Con>Lab swing that in the country as a whole. I wrote more about the poll here.

Finally there was a new Survation poll of Thanet South for UKIP donor Alan Bown, showing Nigel Farage with an eleven point lead. This compares with the Lord Ashcroft poll of Thanet South last November that had, once corrected, shown Farage one point behind the Conservatives. It may be that UKIP have managed to open up a lead in Thanet South since November, but there were also substantial methodological differences between the two polls – the new Survation poll prompted using the candidates names, which may well have helped Nigel Farage as the most well known of the candidates. There were also differences in weighting – Lord Ashcroft weights by recalled vote and by social class, whereas Survation don’t; Survation weight by council wards within the constituency whereas Ashcroft doesn’t. Finally there were don’t knows – Survation exclude them, Ashcroft assumes some vote for the party they did last time. And of course, this is a poll commissioned by a party – that should make no difference to how the poll is done (apart from adding candidate names this is Survation’s regular methodology), but it brings with it publication bias: if parties commission polls and don’t like the results, they don’t publish them.

Week 8

  • Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind were caught in a newspaper sting on MPs taking second jobs. Rifkind stepped down, Ed Miliband promised a ban on second jobs. YouGov polling found only 26% thought that MPs having second jobs helped keep them in touch and was better than full time politicians, 60% thought they should concentrate on their main job and second jobs risked corruption. 54% would support a ban on MPs having second jobs.
  • Immigration figures came out showing net immigration way above David Cameron’s stated ambition to reduce it to “tens of thousands”. I suspect the Conservatives failure to meet the target has long been accepted by the public and priced into their opinion though – early last year the proportion of people thinking it was likely the government would hit their target had already fallen to just 9%. Still, coverage of immigration will likely keep UKIP’s strongest issue high on the agenda.
  • Labour announced their policy on tuition fees. On the principle of who should pay for higher education the public are actually quite evenly split – 43% think it should be paid from general taxation, 42% that students should pay it through tuition fees or a graduate tax. For a reduction in the level of tuition fees though I expect Labour will get the thumbs up – in December YouGov found people were in favour of a reduction in tuition fees by 54% to 21%, even if it meant less funding for universities
  • And the debate debate struggled onwards. At the weekend the papers quietly suggested that the debates may now be dead, on Monday the broadcasters announced the order of the debates (the two big ones first, followed by the Cameron-v-Miliband head to head). For the moment though, it seems to have gone quiet.


The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below, along with the Guardian’s new election projection. As usual, everyone is projecting an extremely hung Parliament, with the two main parties close together in seat numbers.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 279(-2), LAB 283(+1), LD 23(nc), SNP 40(nc), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 285(+3), LAB 276(-4), LD 27(+2), SNP 39(-1), UKIP 1(-1)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 270(+4), LAB 271(-4), LD 26(nc), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)
Guardian – Hung Parliament, CON 275, LAB 271, LD 27, SNP 51, UKIP 4

375 Responses to “Ten weeks to go”

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  1. All of those projections look like Con or Lab + LD isn’t enough.

    Ms, Sturgeon looks like the kingmaker.

  2. Though it’s very close, it’s interesting that 2 of the four projections have Tories ahead. Are they predicting the infamous swingback I wonder?

  3. @Pete B

    I was scolded earlier for suggesting that the Guardian’s model included swingback, as its published methodology says it doesn’t.

    What we do know absolutely for sure is that the seat model people are not reflecting GB UNS.

  4. Raf
    Thanks. It’s a bit of a puzzle.

  5. Great summary as usual Anthony.

    “stasis” indeed.


  6. These then are my stats for the month of February for weeks one through four, with 2010 GE and 2014 EU elections in first bracket. and difference between week one and four in final bracket

    Labour 33.1%/34%/32.8%/33.55% (29%/25.4%) +.9%/-1.2%/+.7% (+.45%)
    Conservative 30.8%/32.9%/32.1%/31.8% (36.1%/23.9%) +2.1%/-.7%/-.3% (+1%)*
    UKIP 15.4%/13.7%/14.8%/14.45% (3.1%/27.5)-1.7%/+1.1%/-.4% (-.95%)
    Liberal Democrat 7.3%/7.6%/8%/8.3% (23%/6.9%) +.3/+.4%/+.3% (+1%)*
    Green Party 7.3%/5.9%/6.9%/6.5% (1%/7.9%) -1.4%/+1%/-.4% (-.8%)
    Other 6.1%/5.9%/5.4%/5.4% (includes 2.3%/3.2%(SNP/PC) +5.5%/5.2% other) +2.5% (SNP/PC) -.2%/-.5%/nc (-.7%)

    After a month of watching the UK election polling, from Canada, I am not convinced that anything statistically confirmable has changed, other than to express a continued concern that weighting using 2010 voter values may have shifted the election outcome polling in favour of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat “coalition” by up to two points*. The truth is, however, that the combined support for Labour (still clinging to a narrow lead) and Conservative appears to be stuck at around 65.4%, which if you add in LD means that support for the three largest parties since 2010 has dropped from 88,1% to 73.65%.

    The biggest danger facing the new third largest party, UKIP, is that they will suffer the same fate as the Green Party in the1989 European election when they attained 14.9% but no seats. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party remain deadlocked as to who will achieve fourth place, in which the Green Party could retain one seat, none or gain two while the Liberal Democrats look like they will achieve their worst result since Jo Grimond was their leader in the 1950’s.

    In fact only in Scotland does the SNP look like they may come out ahead as the clear winner in that they will probably end up with the third largest number of seats in the House of Commons, as they appear to have the strongest backing from their supporters after losing the Independence referendum in September. Tepid is the best description I can come up with to describe support for Labour and Conservative and tentative for UKIP, LD and Green. With nine weeks plus to election day it is anyones guess who and which parties might come out winners in this election – stayed tuned it will be an interesting nine weeks.

  7. So , the news is Jim Murphy is to fight his Scottish seat at the GE.

    What effect will this have on the Labour vote in Scotland ?

    Won’t the SNP jump on this with a vengeance ?

  8. Andy Shadrack

    “stay tuned it will be an interesting nine weeks”

    What I don’t have a sense of is how many of the electorate have not yet “tuned in”, and how many of those that have will have “tuned out” by the end of this long, long campaign.

  9. I think the most significant political news this week may be the newly nuanced Lib Dem approach to coalition partners.

    The Tim Farron comments in the New Statesman are particularly interesting:
    “We will not have a choice. We will be presented with an arithmetic by the electorate and all parties must be grown up enough to accept it and not say, ‘well, thank you for your opinions, we didn’t like it, tough’. Whatever the electorate give us through this fruit machine of an electoral system that we have, we have to be big enough, grown-up enough to make sure it works.”

    To me that’s suggesting that the Lib Dems will only back a coalition / government that has a realistic majority rather than slavishly only doing a deal with the largest party even if that deal won’t have any chance of working.

  10. Northumbrianscot

    What Con & Lab need is a jolly good war. Then they can patriotically set aside their manifest differences and work together for the good of the country.

  11. @Oldnat

    What with the lack of an overall majority for Con or Lab, and the Russian thing on the horizon, a national government might just be “necessary to carry us through the tough times”.

  12. @OldNat Could always invade Heligoland.

    The Navy have never forgiven the Foreign Office for swapping it for Zanzibar in 1890.

    Angela Merkel’s busy with other matters so I’m sure it would all go well.

  13. I wonder what the effect of Labour’s proposed raid on pension savings by reducing the non-taxable increase in one’s pension pot to £30k pa (and total pot to £1m), will be on the voting intentions of the modestly well-off with socialist leanings. A similar tax bombshell in 1992 proposed by the late John Smith was a gift to the Tories and contributed to Kinnock’s defeat then.

  14. @N’Scot

    Farron’s comments may mean that. Or they may mean that the Lib Dems intend to present whatever they do as being nobly acting in the national interest.

  15. @LRR

    I think that’s exactly what Farron means.

    They don’t want to get forced into only negotiating with one side. So the beauty of this is they can pick either side so long as there is a chance of a workable majority.

  16. @NorthumbrianScot

    It suggests to me (and maybe just me) that Farron expects to be LD leader after the next election. Something I would welcome by the way.

  17. @ Andy,

    Support for the three largest parties is ~ 80%. (33% + 32% + 15%). It’s just that the Lib Dems aren’t one of them anymore.

    @ Northumbrianscot,

    I took it to mean they’re going to slavishly give confidence and supply to the first party that can put together a workable majority, and then refuse to bring that government down come hell or high water.

    This seems to me to defeat the whole purpose of standing for Parliament, but that’s probably why I’m not a Lib Dem. It’s completely consistent with their behaviour in coalition, so it does seem to stem from some mysterious underlying philosophy rather than just being Farron flying a kite with Miliband’s face on it.

  18. Daodao
    Anyone who can put more than £30k p.a. into their pension is more than ‘modestly well-off’ when the median wage is some way below that.

  19. At their conference Clegg,baker and others clearly said they would talk to the party with most votes.This was interpreted as the coalition ministers wanting to keep their perks.

    Some lib dems ,and I can see their point,believe that strategy would kill their party for a generation.

    So Farrons line is just common sense and is a defear for clegg.In truth farron is said to prefer not being in government.

    And the Fixed term parliament act ,a libdem invention,means coalition is less necessary these days anyway.

  20. @LRR / NS

    I hope he doesn’t mean that. If even Farron is flirting with the idea of another coalition with the Tories, the LDs really do risk becoming the National Liberals.

    Also, this whole “national interest” thing is a flag of convenience. Voters don’t vote for a hung parliament. They vote for an individual party – or in some cases an individual representative. It could be argued that they vote for a government but even then, unless your voting for a party who can’t actually win the election (SNP for example) you’re still voting for a single party to govern alone. That may not happen, but it’s what you want to happen.

  21. Brighton council failed to set a budget last night after six hours debate .Many greens want a 6 per cent council tax rise which would require a referendum .

    Discussion resumes on Tuesday.

  22. Individual voters may not vote for a hung parliament but it could be argued that the electorate as a whole sometimes do. In fact that line was trotted out after 2010 by various politicians.

  23. Well, they can talk to whoever they like, can’t they? At the end of the day they still need a number that adds up to ~320, or there’s no deal, whoever gets the most votes or the most seats and whoever wants to keep their ministerial car.

    It would be funny to see them in a pact with Ukip though.

  24. @Pete B

    Did you find that line convincing?

    I don’t think collective will arguments work under a FPTP electoral system.

  25. Robin H
    The SNP jump on everything with a vengeance and have a particularly pavlovian response to J Murphy. He will present himself as the calm, moderate and cheery person he is.

    Many of you will have been very surprised at the confidence A Christie showed that the SNP would do terribly well here in Aberdeen. It will probably not be quite so surprising that I am not so sure. In my own campaigning my biggest surprise is that so many people, as Old Nat querie,s don’t think it is yet time to think about the election.

  26. @Spearmint

    It was interesting to see Steve Fisher’s projection today, labeling the SNP in his pie-chart as “kingmakers”.

  27. @ OldNat

    “What Con & Lab need is a jolly good war.”

    As far as I’m aware a LibDem minister (supposedly one of the liked LibDem MPs) is doing everything he can to deliver it.

  28. @ Spearmint

    “It would be funny to see them in a pact with Ukip though.”

    I still have my bet on zero UKIP seat, so hopefully no. And it wouldn’t be funny for me (in many ways).

  29. AW

    I really enjoy your end of the week ( polling terms) recap of the polls and the projection forecasts from the various sources at the bottom.

    It’s comforting to know (with only 10 weeks to go until groundhog day for some) that if we miss something during the week we can catch up on it on Friday.

  30. Allan Christie

    I’m trying to decide whether you are one of the BBC Scotlandshire team – or whether someone there has been nicking your words from UKPR.

    See tonight’s article (if you didn’t write it).

  31. @Andy

    So for the month of February, you have Lab on 34 and Con on 32? Interesting.

  32. RAF
    The argument about collective will is more like collective apathy in that neither of the potential governing parties have convinced the electorate that they deserve their vote.

  33. Barney Crockett

    ” In my own campaigning my biggest surprise is that so many people, as Old Nat querie,s don’t think it is yet time to think about the election.”

    When an elected politician chaps at a door and get telt that it is not time to think about the election, they are being politely telt that no support is forthcoming. If this happens 10 weeks out from the vote, you are either ignoring the message or just simply refuse to believe it.


    “Many of you will have been very surprised at the confidence A Christie showed that the SNP would do terribly well here in Aberdeen. It will probably not be quite so surprising that I am not so sure. In my own campaigning my biggest surprise is that so many people, as Old Nat querie,s don’t think it is yet time to think about the election”

    What you have to bare in mind is that I’m no statistician, don’t belong to any political party and above all anything I write is of my own opinion but even above all that…………………I’m an ordinary voter who speaks to colleagues at work, family members, mates and even my dear ole neighbours from time to time about politics and they are voters too.

    The common theme from most of them is how bad Westminster Labour in Scotland will perform in May and that is where I get my confidence that Labour will be elected out of Aberdeen in May and at the subsequent local elections.

    In retail they say the customer is always right!!….well if we’re speaking of Lidl customers then He’s so cheap he wouldn’t give a nickel to see Jesus ridin’ a bicycle.

  35. OLDNAT

    Allan Christie
    I’m trying to decide whether you are one of the BBC Scotlandshire team – or whether someone there has been nicking your words from UKPR.
    See tonight’s article (if you didn’t write it)

    I’m away to have a look.

  36. Some predictions:
    Tim Farron will take over as Lib Dem leader soon after the election
    There will be a minority government (no coalitions)
    The parliamentary arithmetic will make it very difficult for the minority government to legislate without Lib Dem support
    The British public probably needs to get used to the fact that the days of any single party achieving an overall majority are over
    Many Lib Dem activists (including me) will see this as a pretty satisfactory outcome given the drubbing we’ve had since May 2010.

  37. Anyone who can put more than £30k p.a. into their pension is more than ‘modestly well-off’ when the median wage is some way below that.

    the pension stuff won’t swing the election….in 92 smith said anyone earning under £22k would be better off….even in 1992 for anyone living in the south east, £22k pa wasn’t that much…it killed labour with essex man et al.

  38. @ Laszlo

    “I still have my bet on zero UKIP seat.”

    Even Clacton?

  39. OLDNAT

    “Hell boy, she’s hotter than a billy goat’s ass in a pepper patch.”

    LOL. well you never know who reads the comments on UKPR

  40. It’s difficult to look at those four election forecasts, with the SNP between 39 and 56 seats, and not conclude that if Labour were performing in Scotland anywhere near their May 2010 level, then the election in two months time would be more or less in the bag for them, certainly in terms of them being the largest party. Staggeringly, in one of the forecasts they’re still predicted to be the largest party with the SNP winning 40 seats!!

    I’m still a bit sceptical of these forecast models, I have to say, and there’s still so much that could happen between now and May to confound all of them, but one thing looks pretty obvious to me. If Labour can make a recovery, even if it’s only a modest one in Scotland, then they’re very likely to be the largest party in Westminster after the election in 69 days time.

    The Labour v SNP battle is now emerging as the key one in determining the colour of the next UK government.

  41. @AW

    As I’ve argued before, there are some gaps in the projections you summarise at the end of your weekly report. In two of the cases the seat counts are based on the premise of an election being held ‘tomorrow’. The other two build in fairly substantial adjustments to take account of swingback/regresson-to-mean they assume will occur between now and the election. There are currently no published models that assume different (i.e., non-swingback) patterns of VI adjustment over the remaining weeks before the election.

    To redress the balance slightly I would like to present an update of my trends-based tweak to the EF model. (This just starts by using the EF current snapshot database and calculates the changes that will occur if long-term trends continue. I then add further small adjustments to take account of the fact that in reality we are able to detect departures from these trends.

    Party: trend-based projections: (after adjustment for departure from trends)

    Con – 266 seats (276)
    Lab – 290 (283)
    LDs – 19 (19)
    SNP – 48 (48)
    PC – 1 (1)
    Greens – 2 (2)
    Ukip -5 (2)
    other -19 (19)

    These projections put Labour in a more positive light than is the case for models assuming that The Tories will gain VI. The adjustments (in brackets) acknowledge the fact that there is now good evidence that Ukip and the LDs are now shifting away from their long-term trends. The resulting VI reallocations are based on now rather dated (early December) Ashcroft poll of second vote preferences for the (then) Ukip and LD supporters. The bulk of the shift here is produced by Ukip- as opposed to – LibDem influences.

    The current pattern of trends and departures from trends is essentially unchanged over several weeks. As for much of this year, the Tories and Greens continue to stick to their (long-term, pre-Nov 2014) trends: CON (14 polls above trend and 7 below) and Greens (9 above, 12 below). LAB (15 above, 6 below) have shifted marginally above their long-term trends; The LibDems are still running above trends (17 above, 4 below) and UKIP are well below trends (3 above, 18 below). There has been a good deal of discussion this week about whether the Ukip VIs have actually dropped since Jan 1.

    The summary for the eight different Polling Average batches this year so far is as follows:

    CON ( = + = = = = = =); LAB (= = = = = + = +); LD (= = + + + + + +); UKIP (- = – – – – – -) and Greens (= = = + = = = =)
    [= implies on trend, + above trend and – represents below trend]

  42. What I love about LIb Dems is their optimism. ;D

  43. @Crossbat11

    As many others have observed, largest party isn’t really the point, it’s who can put together a voting bloc of 320+. I think it’s too early to call that but, if you pushed me I think that’s more likely to be EM than DC. How strong/effective/durable EM’s government will be is a different question!

    “Anyone who can put more than £30k p.a. into their pension is more than ‘modestly well-off’ when the median wage is some way below that”

    Anyone who uses “median” and not average gets a big tick in my book. So many people use averages which can be obscured by a bulk rump top 10% or rock bottom 10% diluting or inflating everything in the middle.

    Where as the ole median is far more simple giving those who are below the middle and those who are above the middle of the said median wage.


  45. @ J R Tomlin. Yes. Optimism is in the Lib Dem DNA! :)

  46. @J R Tomlin @David

    I read tonight in my local paper (The Batley and Birstall News) a letter from the LIb Dem PPC for Dewsbury and Mirfield.

    His letter concludes:

    The more I speak to local residents the more confident I am that in May I will be elected as the Member of Parliament.

    He will be lucky to save his deposit.

  47. CB11

    “The Labour v SNP battle is now emerging as the key one in determining the colour of the next UK government.”

    Under current circumstances, I don’t see anything of the ground campaign here – just what’s on TV, in the Scottish press or on internet sites I visit (all of which suggest that their party is heading for glorious victory! :-) )

    My impression is that, having set out their Westminster positions, the parties have almost accepted the result of that in May (they would all deny that, of course) and moved on to campaigning for 2016.

    Which means, we have another bloody 14 months of this rubbish!

  48. @Catmanjeff
    There is optimistic and then there is deluded. I’d like to think I’m the former rather than the latter! Having said that, I am full of admiration for all the LD parliamentary candidates in what is clearly going to be a difficult election for us.

  49. CB11

    The point I meant to make (but failed to!) was that this May’s result could be a by-product of the campaign for next year.

  50. Well in the spirit of this obviously Scottish thread, Fairport Convention opened their set tonight with Sir Patrick Spens…

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