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. It’s TRH here.
    Amber, I send you an electronic hug, given a certain party’s current prospects in you area. You will doubtless remember a lot of huggin’ goin’ on between a few of us including, Sue Marsh, a few years ago.

    I understand Sue is now a ‘social exclusion executive’ or some such designation nowadays.

  2. CB11

    “And why wouldn’t Labour voters vote Lib Dem in Eastleigh? FTPT will bump the LibDem vote up to about 15%, I reckon.”

    Are you assuming that no potential Labour voters already vote tactically?

    Any discussion of the possibilities of tactical voting in any seat should start from some kind of assessment of the current extent of it.

  3. I’m confused. Are there 3 Howard’s? I know we have The Other Howard and just Howard but have we now got “not the other Howard and not just Howard but Howard?

    I thought I could smell something!!

    Hell boy something smells bad enough to knock a dog off a gut wagon

  4. Amber
    You are on a roll

  5. Crossbat

    We all have our own opinions on how things will go. For example in Eastleigh many Tories might well vote UKIP because UKIP were second at the by-election. So might some of the few Lab voters on the basis that they want to vote against the coalition.

    It will be interesting to see which of us is nearer to the correct answer at the GE, but one thing’s for sure and that is that whatever we think is mostly guesswork.

  6. TRH I have honestly never noticed you before and I have been posting for years. However I don’t post all that heavily and I never saw your posts. Let’s not impugn each other’s honesty.

  7. “It’s TRH here”

    The Reverend Horton?

  8. Does anyone know what sort of shape Respect is in? They never show up in the polls, but I believe their small vote is very concentrated in certain inner-city areas. I wonder whether they might win a seat or two, or cause Labour to lose one or two of their strongholds?

  9. Peter Cairns

    I am not an imposter. I have been posting here without being aware of the TRH Howard.

    I don’t post very heavily, but I have been posting here for a long time.

    I don’t intend any harm. Though I post here from time to time, I don’t post here a lot, and certainly I never thought to be an imposter of someone I never heard of before!

    Don’t worry the TRH Howard, I expect I won’t post again for a while.

  10. To the other Howard who is not TOH. Of course I would not do that, but it then shews that I don’t read as assiduously as perhaps I ought.

    There is something in that last sentence that identifies me uniquely.

    OK, if it stays as it is, (if), then the only possible stable coalition is Lab LD SNP. Anything else just does not work IMO. That’s with Con and Lab on 270 to 280 each.

  11. I’m not sure that the arguments in this article hold up

    Ed Miliband’s university tuition fee cut leaves Scotland with £37m shortfall


    since increased state funding of English universities would have Barnett consequentials would come into force for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

    However, any impression of Miliband making policy for England, without considering effects in he devolved nations might be considered unfortunate.

  12. Could one of you call yourself Brian?

  13. @JimJam

    I may be wrong about the Lib Dem vote in May, but they’ve been getting a projected national share of about 15% in the local elections during this Parliament even though they’ve been in single figures in the opinion polls at the time.

    I just have this feeling that they’ll do better than expected although, in comparison to 2010, they’ll be way down.

  14. Could one of you call yourself Brian?

    Or to be more accurate ‘Brian formerly known as One of the Howards’.

  15. This is starting to be like a conversation with Gollum……

    We could all change our profile names to Howard and see how it goes….


  16. Or Drawoh. Or Howard III. Or Howie.

    On the other hand, both Other-Than-T’Other-Howard-Howards have apparently been posting for years with none of us noticing there were two of them, including them, so maybe we should all just go on treating them as the same person?

  17. CB11
    Tough one in Kidders today I understand (won’t mention your other love but I expect Ken will).

    This is all part of establishing bona fide. I do hope ‘new to me’ Howard will keep posting. My best wishes to you H.

  18. David
    Lol. Of course it wouldn’t be long before we had ‘The Other Brian’, ‘The Original Brian’ etc.

  19. HOWARD
    To the other Howard who is not TOH but TRH…….

    Crickey this is getting ridiculous


    What one am I picking up?

  20. @Howard (whichever – you sort it out)

    By my calculations, and if current polling averages are correct, if Lab get 283 seats, they could form a stable coalition with all these Howards.

  21. We’ve had Spartacus, V (for Vendetta), Slim Shady and now… Howard.

  22. There’s scope for someone to write a pamphlet on “Why people named Howard are disproportionately represented on political blog sites”

  23. ALEC @ AMBER

    LOL :-)

  24. Peter

    All of us in Scotland could change our names instantly and legally (unless it was for the purposes of fraud). [1]

    Those in E&W would presumably have to go through the deed poll procedure.

    [1] Two brothers in one of the more “eccentric” families in a local town changed their names to Tutankhamun West and Elvis Presley West. And their names subsequently appeared thus on documents such as charge sheets.

  25. That was meant to be & not @


    One might say the same thing about the remarks about Alex Salmond’s. His appearance has been subject to constant criticism and sniping, and I’ll let you figure out from whom.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, you are quite mistaken about people becoming offended by derogatory remarks about women politicians’ appearance. They are made all the time about women from Nicola Sturgeon to Theresa May to about any female politician you can name or even a politician’s spouse on occasion.

    As for what terrible meanie-heads all the SNP bloggers are, I’ll leave that alone. People can check them and decide for themselves.

  27. @ Amber,

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

    Hey, I was just trying to debunk a fictional front-story! ;) It’s no secret he and Ed Miliband are not bosom friends, though.

    @ Crossbat and others, re. Lib Dem recovery,

    Someone here (Roger Mexico?) once calculated how much influence the Lib Dem fortress strategy was likely to have on their overall vote share (this was back when their overall vote share was ~12%, not ~8%. and we were wondering if it could get up to 15%) and it turns out the answer is “shockingly little”. 57 seats just aren’t enough to balance out the other 550, even if they perform quite well in them. Unless they make a more substantial recovery nationally I think they’ll be lucky to get into double digits.

    OTOH I wouldn’t have expected them to be the third best-funded party at this stage either, so they have mysterious support from somewhere…

  28. J. R. TOMLIN

    Well said. :-)

  29. @ Unicorn

    Your 6.24 post is genuinely admirable.

    I’m not sure about your penultimate paragraph, but it’s splitting hairs.

  30. TRH here. I think I’ll go back to lurking. It was less stressful.

  31. @ Spearmint

    Hey, I was just trying to debunk a fictional front-story

    LOL :-)

  32. @ Howard

    If you are the one with the connections with the Lowlands, please stay.

  33. @Howard.

    Good to have you back, whoever you are!

    Kidder fading in the Conference. Mind you, mid-table mediocrity would be bliss for the Villa.

    As would be a goal, every now and again!


  34. Looking forward to Villa v. MK Dons next year….

  35. Laszlo

    He must be. It was his post about that subject which clued me into realising that he was not me.

    It’s spooky, I wondered for a nanosecond if I did not have a split personality

    CB11 We are playing Kidders at Easter don’t forget.


  36. Spring has reached Liverpool, so it will reach Southern Scotland in a few days. Maybe there will be enough flowers everywhere there for the 8th of March ….

  37. TRH Consider the plight of all the lurking ,with respect, “Colins” (substitute transgressors of your choice!) out there and stay in the name of sensitivity to the comments policy. Perhaps change your moniker to “New Howard”, “Next Howard” “Old Howard” or something resonant with your outlook? I’d change mine to Le Mesiurer if I could be bothered.

  38. Le Mesurier

  39. @CMJ

    “Dodgy poll alert.

    There may be some truth that Muslim voters are increasingly looking towards the Greens. After Iraq a significant proportion of Muslim voters ditched Labour for the LDs. That was the first time anyone could remember Muslims (insofar as they can be said to be in any way a homogenous group) turning their backs on Labour. Some have returned, but others have very grave doubts about the Labour Party – particularly on austerity, immigration, and foreign policy. The Greens are further to the left of Labour on all three, so the article shouldn’t be automatically dismissed. I do know some who have moved from LD (formerly Lab) to the Greens but I don’t have polling dara to back that up.

    One feature that may not have been picked up on is the movement of Scottish Muslim voters to the SNP. I’ve only seen some anecdotal snippets of information about this, but it would be interesting to find out what the real situation actually is. I do know that Jim Murphy is not a popular figure amongst Mulisms generally but think that the movement of Muslims to the SNP has happened over a longer period of time.

    Finally, the key issue with the Muslim vote is that at this moment in time it is really ABT. Muslims are very strongly anti-Tory at the moment and pragmatism is therefore likely to keep most voting Labour this time, even though they see people like the Greens/SNP as more attuned to their issues.

  40. RAF
    Not Respect?

  41. @Norbold

    “Looking forward to Villa v. MK Dons next year….”

    Blimey, you know how to rub it in, don’t you?


    I shall be at the Kiddy v Rovers game at Easter.

    I’m hoping for a Villa resurrection at the same time too.


  42. @COUPER2802

    Thanks, I think I am a bit of an outlier on this list. So which pollsters do you see as not using party id and reallocation?

    I go back to what happened when Survation did not use 2010 GE weighting and Farage got a 10 point lead in South Thanet over Labour a few days ago.

    UKIP is up from the last Survation poll done at the end of November 2013 by 8 points, Labour down 7 and Conservative down 1. What I would expect to see after the 2014 European election:


    But this is what I agree with when Survation says:

    As an additional weighting step, respondents who replied “undecided” and “refused” were removed from the sample.

    No weighting was added that assigned those voters a value, even if they voted in 2010.

    My experience, particularly at the end of a campaign, is that a lot of “don’t knows” simply do not vote, period.

    So why add in people who voted last time, if they are undecided this time?

    Classic Labour voter experience is that when they are really pissed off with the party they stay home.

    The 2014 London European election turnout for Labour showed that, up from 2009 – classic.

    Now on the same website (adress above) look at Ashcroft and see how using 2010 GE weighting inflates Conservative values and supresses UKIP ones.

    One of the things I asked Unicorn the other day was whether anyone was tracking “don’t knows”, “refusers” and “will not vote”. No one is, and again it is classic for those values to rise going into an election campaign.

    It is not that voters are fickle just that some voters really are open to changing their mind and will tell a pollster that – even if they have really made up their mind.

    Why is that important? In Scotland the SNP is in a solid 80% made up their minds situation and “refuse” and “don’t know” crossbreak is 10% on You Gov. Scottish voters are set and it will take an earthqualke to shift them.

    Among the Conservative, Labour and UKIP uncertainty is still high at around 37%, rises to 50% for Green and 61% for LD. So if in England and Wales the dnk, r, wnv values are double Scotland, your overall polling results are statistically compromised by including people, where you basically guess how they are going to vote based on how they voted in one previous election.

    It is a nutzoid way of reporting polling respondent answers, when what you need to do is simply say to dnk:

    “You are undecided, who are you trying to choose between?”

    If they say UKIP and Labour, then you have some way of allocating their voting preferences, if you really want to insist on doing so.

    Anyone who has ever designed and worked a Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) campaign knows how this works. you pull your definites and if it is close your leaners, but you never start radomly pulling dnk – so why should pollsters be allowed to get away with radomly assigning dnk.

    I know because through three campaigns I placed the final vote of what a candidate was going to get in an envelope, gave it to someone, who opened it up after the count, and I was right to the exact number two out of three times.

    It is a science.

  43. @Pete B

    George Galloway is a divisive figure. Popular in some ways, not popular in others. And Respect in any event outside of Bradford and a few other Northern towns are not seen as a serious party.

    Anyway, most Muslims in the UK (proportionately) are poor, urban and working or lower middle class and therefore tend to be attracted to parties that appear to that demographic. Historically that was Labour. It still is for most. But as a result if Iraq and other things there is a drift towards to Greens.

  44. Raf
    I’ve had a look at the Respect website, and they don’t have many candidates yet, but two in Birmingham, where they have had councillors before. So not just the North (unless you’re one of those heathens who think the North begins at Watford Gap).

    Anyway, I just think that Respect will be peripheral but might just sneak a couple of seats, or allow someone else (UKIP?) through in one or two Labour seats.

    Normally this wouldn’t be relevant, but in a situation where there could well be a multi-party coalition it might matter.

  45. Enjoying the 2 Howards show. Encore, please!

  46. @Pete

    It’s not the North that begins at Watford Gap, but the South.

    To a southerner, the territory immediately north of the Watford Gap (i.e northern Northamptonshire) is “the Midlands”. Exactly where non-southerners choose to place the border between “The Midlands” and “The North” is not our business….

  47. Pete B

    A factor that hasn’t been mentioned recently which might make things even more uncertain is the new system of individual registration.

    Do pollsters ever ask whether interviewees are registered to vote?

    Do people think that the potential reduction in registrations is likely to affect all parties equally?

    The only pollster that does seem to ask is TNS in their online polls


    who ask, rather ambiguously[1], So far as you know, are you registered to vote in UK elections?

    Yes, I am registered to vote 88%

    No, I am not registered to vote 5%

    I would prefer not to say 4%

    I don’t know if I am registered to vote or not 3%

    The percentage however is much lower among certain groups. 62% among under 25s; 83% among Londoners and 82% in the North West; six points lower among manual workers,

    How much political difference it makes is less clear though. The difference between Conservative and UKIP (both 96%) and Labour (94%) isn’t really significant. Lib Dems are 90% but on a small sample, though you suspect Greens might be hit hard. So it appears that most of those who aren’t registered to vote probably weren’t going to anyway.

    But of course the real problem is that people may not know if they are registered. People may think that Electoral Registration will be told automatically by someone else. This can be a problem normally but i will be many times increased by the process of Individual Electoral Registration (IER). Many people may discover they are not registered or that members of their household have been omitted.

    A EC report this week showed a big drop in English and Welsh registrations, and although some of this may be due to fewer double registrations by students, there may be a lot of other people missed off. We don’t even know what the situation is in Scotland because the new registers aren’t even published yet.

    [1] Because an EU citizen might be registered for UK local etc elections, but unable to vote for Westminster. The question was asked after VI so people might have felt more obliged to say they were having given a preference.

  48. @Neil
    At least you recognise the existence of the Midlands. So many don’t.

    I might have to start the Greater Mercia party.

  49. Greater Mercia starts on the North bank of the Thames, though, surely?

  50. @Roger M
    Thanks for the detailed reply. There might be another reason for fewer registrations – fraud may have been reduced.

    It’s yet another factor which makes this election very interesting. Anyone professing any degree of certainty at this stage either has special knowledge or is deluded.

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