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. Sorry Howard. I didn’t know about you.

  2. @Howards

    Don’t worry. We’re not going to hurt (either of) you :)

    [Doffs cap towards Mr Rory Bremner.]


    The problem in Scotland is that you can have a very occasional poster, ie a member of the public, post some sort of irate and defamatory comment against a party or a politician on a blog which probably has around 50 to 100 followers and depending what party and who the comment was aimed at, the Scottish media will label that person with a particular opposing party.

    I very rarely comment or visit Scottish blogs because quite honestly its like trying to convert the already converted but that aside what I find remarkable is that I don’t think I have ever heard a member of the public complain about what you have highlighted.

    To me all the huffing and hissing in the Scottish blog bowl is only highlighted by a few scrupulous individuals in the Scottish media and in the political scene who have an obvious warped agenda.

    Meanwhile for the rest of us 99.999999999999999% we couldn’t really care who said what when why.

  4. @ Barney 8.36

    Well said sir.

  5. @CL 45

    Labour end the month with a YG average rounded to 34. They have to be quite pleased with that, as conventional wisdom had them falling back which has not happened.

  6. YouGov:

    CON 34%
    LAB 34%
    LDEM 8%
    UKIP 14%
    GRNS 5%

    Big Two on 68% – in 2010 that was 66%.

  7. Just to clarify 34 is Labour’s average for Feb 2015, not AW’s rolling Labour average which is calculated differently.

  8. @ Howard

    And there is already another Howard called “the other Howard”- can I suggest you change your UKPR name to “the other other Howard”?

    At least you forced Howard to stop lurking!

  9. MRN

    “Big Two on 68% – in 2010 that was 66%”

    And it will climb even higher when the inevitable happens, the implosion (pop) of the UKIP bubble.

  10. Shevii

    But I have been posting here for many years. I noticed The Other Howard and assumed it was because of me.

  11. In your dreams Allan.

  12. 68% is just one poll, and with the Lib Dem melt down, the big 2 should both be in the high 30’s.

  13. Bill Patrick

    I’m curious about the public’s reasoning behind a cut in tuition fees, even if this results in a reduction of university funding. Maybe the assumption is that the cuts to universities would fall on research and salaries rather than teaching.

    I suspect they believe the same as they believe about most public institutions – that vast amounts is wasted on ‘administration’ and that somehow more than enough money could be found be cutting this back. This ignores the age-old problem that, even if it were true, the people doing the cutting would be the said administrators who might be of the opinion that their own work was the most important part of the institution.

    Now it is true that the amount spent on admin and associated activities such as marketing has soared in higher education since they have been urged, indeed forced, to become more ‘commercial’. But even in their current bloated state they represent a fairly small percentage and in the end if you want services they have to be paid for. Now matter how much the Vice Chancellor has upped his ‘remuneration package’ there’s not enough there to make things run. Unfortunately people have been told for so long that all that is needed is endless ‘efficiency savings’, that they have come to believe it.

    I suspect Raf may also be right in his implication that many people may believe that the fees were extra money for the universities rather than replacement for withdrawn public funding. So they probably think that there’s loads of cash going spare.

  14. @Mr N

    Are the SNP on 4 or 5?

  15. @Barney Crockett

    You seem to have overlooked in the blogsphere the shrinking Labour violet Ian Smart? And others.

  16. JOHN J
    In your dreams Allan

    Sorry John but you’re not my type.

  17. @ Roger Mexico,

    I broadly agree about Mr. Murphy’s motives. We might also be generous and ascribe to him a desire to see the survival of Scottish Labour, which seemed somewhat uncertain in the hands of the people who’d been running it for the previous decade.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think he’s so power-mad that he’s likely to risk challenging Sturgeon for her seat, since he must know he’s almost certain to suffer a humiliating defeat that even his friends in the media will struggle to spin in his favour.

    @ RAF,

    The Labour plan at least is to make up for the shortfall in university funding from the tuition fee reduction with state subsidy.

  18. @Howard

    I blame @AW ;)

    It should not be possible for more than one active poster to use the same name. Maybe he thought you were dormant.

  19. Minor crossover event: the last 5 YouGovs have an average Tory lead of 0.2%. I don’t think we’ve seen one of those for a while.

  20. Hireton
    I think you help to make my point. You have to be like I Smart..and you shouldn’t.

  21. @ Old Nat.

    Well yes but I think you really know what I’m saying in terms of gains/losses. The losses in Scotland will make it very difficult for Labour to command a majority.

  22. RAF

    I don’t think the Yougov tables will be up until tomorrow morning.

  23. @Spearmint
    “@ RAF,
    The Labour plan at least is to make up for the shortfall in university funding from the tuition fee reduction with state subsidy.”

    Thanks. I wasn’t sure whether the proposed pension relief changes would make up the whole of the shortfall.

  24. RAF:
    Yes, I agree, that Labour would have taken 34% at this stage, when Ed M was under serious pressure.

  25. I am somewhat surprised by Labour’s move on tuition fees as it did not seem to be a burning issue. The system operated like a tax on the higher-earning graduates so was quite progressive. In a way this was a tax on the rich.

  26. Big 2 inching towards 35% which imo they will both exceed.

  27. Re university funding.

    I’m not sure how much was actually saved by moving from largely central funding to largely ‘consumer’ funding and I’m not sure whether the government actually know: I do know they saved a lot less than was originally billed because many people will not pay off the ‘debts’.

    The universities are a very powerful lobby and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the changes, but my guess is that in the end they did pretty well out of it all. Of course what they didn’t do well out of was the changes to the rules around overseas students, which damaged them both directly (due to less student visas) and indirectly (due to damage to the UK’s image as a non-discriminatory centre of learning)

    I haven’t seen the details of the Labour proposals but I’d be prepared to wager a small sum on the proposition that (a) the universities will do OK out of the change, (b) there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how they are being victimised and (c) the Further Education sector will pick up much of the bill, as per.

  28. Mikey

    Equally, the projected near wipe out of the LDs in Scotland (where they have 18.6% of the constituencies, compared with only 7.3% of constituencies in E&W makes it much less likely that the LDs will have the numbers to put Cameron back in as PM.

    Scottish LDs make up 19.3% of the Parliamentary LD party. If they are reduced to one, and the good folk of E&W ensure that proportion is maintained, then Carmichael and his 5 colleagues from E&W can share one of Allan’s people carrier taxis.

  29. Guymonde

    You make good points.

    But I am in the Uni sector and I could see no wailing and gnashing when fees were introduced. Indeed the main complaint was the ceiling was too high.

    There was also a condition on those universities setting fees over £6000 that they spend a high proportion of the extra revenue on access initiatives. There has been a lot of work and preparation for the future on the assumption of £9000. So it actually is quite disruptive to change the system again.

  30. I mean “ceiling was too low” of course.

  31. @ Howard

    I wasn’t talking to you Howard I was talking to the other Howard. No- not “The Other Howard”. Hmmm… I think we better leave it there :-)

  32. The Liberal Democrat tradition is quite strong in rural Scotland, and may well be less affected by changes in urban locations such as Glasgow. Charles Kennedy is something of an installation up there.

  33. No one has ever explained to me why, if it is fair to charge university students for tuition, it isn’t equally fair to charge school students proceeding beyond compulsory school age in the same way.

    The last time I looked at this (some years ago now) the lifetime earnings differential between leavers at 16 and those proceeding to later years was greater than that between 17/18 year olds who went/ didn’t go to Uni.

  34. JIM JAM.
    Good Evening to you. I agree that 35% is feasible for both Cons and Lab. Cons will pick up more from the LD and UKIP supporters and Lab will pick up more Green supporters, I think.

  35. @ Howard.

    Installation? Or institution?

  36. @Andy Shamrock

    You could be onto something.

    The SNP have a problem with propensity also known as party id and were down weighted in Populus who then changed that method.

    The SNP are down weighted in this Opinium who use propensity. This results in an SNP VI of 31% which is out if step with all other cross breaks and polls.

    Populus used to use propensity which they called party id but changed this year. Populus changed because they had full Scottish polls to compare their result with, so realised it was nonsense, though they still do tend to down weigh the SNP a bit.

    The problem is this:

    Propensity relates back to the % of party identification in 2010. So the poll tries to get the same proportion of party identifiers as in 2010. So they ask ‘which party do you normally identify with, normally support’. Now in the case of the SNP someone who ID’d as Labour in 2010 but has voted SNP in the three elections since (SG,L,EU), Yes in the Referendum and intends to vote SNP in the GE is now unlikely to give Labour as their propensity. This had the effect of far too many SNP identifiers as compared to 2010 and they were heavily down weighted.

    So companies using propensity will miss movements in party ID and this could be the case in this poll. However, not all pollsters use propensity so it wouldn’t explain the Green score in other polls.

    What you could do is group pollsters into two sets:

    1. Anti emerging party methodologies (propensity/id & re-allocation)
    2. Ones that don’t

    Then see if there is a difference between them for Green and UKIP VI

  37. OLDNAT

    “Scottish LDs make up 19.3% of the Parliamentary LD party. If they are reduced to one, and the good folk of E&W ensure that proportion is maintained, then Carmichael and his 5 colleagues from E&W can share one of Allan’s people carrier taxis”

    Cheers OLDNAT, I’m already on to it.


  38. Jim Murphy – the man is a legend in his own lunchtime. ;-)

    He’s even got (otherwise sensible) people like Spearmint & Roger Mexico writing imaginative, fictional back-stories for him.

  39. Allan Christie


  40. @ChrisLane/JimJam

    Steady on boys. There are some very tentative signs in the recent YouGov and Ashcroft polls that the Labour and Tory VIs are edging up together, but it’s not that long ago, five days in fact, when we had a Survation showing the combined Tory/Labour VI on 62%. Too early to tell in my view whether we’re on for both of them getting over 35% on May 7th. Frankly, if that turned out to be the case, I’d be staggered. The Tories recovering to their 2010 performance and Labour up by 7 or more on 2010, despite the SNP surge in Scotland? A very big hmmmm on that one, I think! :-)

    You also need to factor in the Lib Dems probably getting into the mid teens come election day and UKIP and the Greens benefiting from the extra exposure they will receive during the campaign.

    I still think it’s a 34 v 33 contest on May 7th, but I could be proved wrong, I admit.

  41. Howard,

    “The Liberal Democrat tradition is quite strong in rural Scotland”

    It’s more that they have very often absorbed the “Anyone but Them”vote.

    They often do well against Tories when you see the LiS & SNP vote collapse and in soak up the Tory vote when facing Labour in Edinburgh?

    In the same way in places like Perthshire the SNP pick up the anti-Tory vote.

    Add the Better Together vote splitting three ways…under 20% each and the SNP taking the bulk of the Yes vote 40% to the fact that the traditional Libdem vote of about 24% being LibDems, tacticals and A plague on both houses and you can make a good argument for their vote halving in most of their rural Scottish seats.

    That pretty much puts them all in danger! We’ll know more when we see the R,S&L constituency poll!


  42. LD’s in mid-teens would be some swiingback.

  43. None of the posts since I complained are from me.

    Neither could this interloper have been posting for years because I would have noticed (so would he have).

    I will sign off with TRH (The real Howard) until this is sorted out.

    Not that I have anything to comment about unfortunately (or perhaps otherwise)..

  44. Last 10 YGs average 33.5% Lab/Con

    Alternativley last 5 polls ave Lab+Con 67.

  45. @Howard

    “I am somewhat surprised by Labour’s move on tuition fees as it did not seem to be a burning issue.”

    But it does, very effectively, highlight the actions of one N Clegg. That has to be a very significant factor in the decision. It reminds everyone, especially students (then and now), of what he said and did, and then attempts to contrast what Labour claim they will do. I see it as a form of negative campaigning, without appearing to be negative.

  46. @ The Real Howard

    But it’s nice to hear from you!

    And if you are stuck for something to say, just invent some ‘what’s his motivation’ stuff about Jim Murphy & you’ll fit right in. :-)

  47. @JimJam

    The LibDems getting about 14-15% would be an utterly disastrous performance compared to May 2010, but they’ll outperform their current polling, I’m absolutely sure of that. They’ll get some tactical votes in Con/Lib Dem and Lab/LibDem marginals and their very streetwise local campaigning teams will squeeze every last LibDem vote out of the woodwork.

    They’ll be way down on 2010, and will probably lose 20-30 seats, but 7% vote share? No way in this world.

    Incidentally, I can see Clegg hanging on in Hallam by dint of some Tories voting tactically for him. Why wouldn’t they? And why wouldn’t Labour voters vote Lib Dem in Eastleigh? FTPT will bump the LibDem vote up to about 15%, I reckon.

  48. CB – agree with the above but think mid teens highly unlikely.

  49. Howard,

    Don’t worry about it Anthony will sort it out.

    He did for me when I had the same problem a while back.

    There was a period when my posts were quite good, but once we got rid of the imposter I managed to get back to the normal drivel!!!


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