There is a new poll by Opinium in this morning’s Observer. Topline voting intention figures are CON 40%(+1), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 6%(-1). Changes are since December, and fieldwork was on Thursday and Friday (so after the reshuffle, though reshuffles are not the type of event that typically has any impact on voting intention).

Full tables are here.

345 Responses to “Opinium/Observer – CON 40, LAB 40, LDEM 6”

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  1. @ GUYMONDE – members v voters! However, let’s go with 80% and question why despite Corbyn (and more recently Starmer) having stamped down on Remainers hopes we haven’t seen the likes of Umunna (led by Khan perhaps) leave LAB and set-up a new party (I don’t see them joining baggage laden LD). They can talk Soubs into it if they like, doubt Ken would go.

    I’m not sure if Lansmann has ever expressed a strong Brexit view? He talked his faction out of forcing a vote on it at conference and has hid under ambiguity but now he is in the spotlight let’s hope he clarifies his position!

  2. There’s some interesting polling this morning from Lord Ashcroft about (among other things) the popularity or not of a new EU Referendum:

    full tables are here:

    (Excel file, though there’s a pdf summary linked to from the comment articel above)

    On the subject of whether people want a second one, he tried out a variety of questions[1] and while support for a referendum appears apparently constant at around 39% (it’s made up a bit differently each time) the balance between Leave and Don’t know shifts each time (% for ALL, Remain in 2016, Leave in 2016 in each case):

    [A] Do you want a second referendum on Brexit?

    Yes 38 68 8
    No 51 25 83
    Don’t know 11 7 9

    [B] Would you support or oppose holding a new referendum on whether or not to continue with Brexit?
    Support 40 69 17
    Oppose 47 20 75
    Don’t know 14 11 8

    [C] Once Brexit negotiations are complete would you support or oppose holding a referendum on whether to accept the terms, or leave without a deal?
    Support 39 57 24
    Oppose 31 19 52
    Don’t know 30 24 24

    [D] Once negotiations are complete and the full details of Brexit are known, would you support or oppose holding a referendum on whether to go ahead with Brexit or not?
    Yes 40 69 18
    No 42 19 68
    Don’t know 18 12 15

    This indicates that despite what we’re told about opposition to a second referendum (eg in Option [A]) when asked about any specific referendum the lead narrows. And there’s actually a narrow lead for a particular option [C], although with a high DK. Interestingly that DK is equal at 24% for Remain and Leave (I would have expected to be higher for Remain, given most would dislike both options).

    I wonder if what we are seeing here is a split between pragmatic and idiological Leave voters. Maybe half are convinced that the UK must leave the EU under any circumstances, either from long-term conviction or because they have made a decision and don’t want to admit they were wrong. The pragmatists want to leave if the UK gets a good deal, but want at least a second say if it’s not going well.

    In contrast Remain voters seem pretty firm in their previous opinion. I suppose some might be tempted by a really good deal, but they probably think it unlikely. Some of those opposed, in [A] especially, are waiting to see what the deal is, but most of the 20% or so opposed Remainers will either have changed their mind on Brexit (though not many have either way) or think that Parliament should rejoin without further referendums.

    Since June 2016, I get the impression that this was not what Brexit supporters expected. They though those namby-pamby remainers would meekly acquiess and support for the ‘inevitable’ Brexit would grow. Instead all polling seems to show that few minds have been changed and Remainers are actually firmer in their opinion than Leavers. Paradoxically both the referendum result and its aftermath show what bad judges of public opinion the commentariat are.

    Ashcroft didn’t ask how people would vote in the various options (it would be difficult for [C] and [D]), but did ask how people would expect it to go. 45% to 35% thought Remain would win this time, but then they also thought they would last time. Sometimes the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ is no better than the commentariat – especially if the former have listened to the latter.

    [1] These were asked of four different sub-samples (n = 801 – 853) so people couldn’t choose between them.

  3. Looks like the rise of Momentum/Corbynist control of the Labour Party is going to be a very good thing.
    For the Tories.

  4. Nice to have your unbiased insights, Turk, they add so much to this site.

  5. @Hireton – “On the whole, it is unproductive to engage with you as it seems you are either not able to understand what you are reading or choose to misunderstand it.”

    I sometimes wonder on here whether some posters even understand what they are writing, let alone reading.

  6. Trevor Warne

    Glad you found Boyle’s article interesting, although I’m puzzled as to why you were struck by its having been written by a Professor of German and published in an Irish newspaper.

    Some might take your comment as implying that those factors themselves mean that the discussion points he raises are automatically to be discounted.

    From someone who has written extensively on philosophy, theology and international politics, his observations are worth examining (though overstating them is a weakness)..

    Perhaps his most famous observation was on an article in the FT in July 2017 in which “it was stated that the pro-Brexit wing of the Conservative Party are to be known as ‘f***ers’, while their opponents are to be known as ‘w***ers’. Boyle opined that “this rhetoric inverts the truth”, as “it is the Europhobes who shut themselves away in self-gratifying fantasies, while the Remainers know that real life is possible only through interaction with others”. (Wiki)

    You raised an interesting point about evidence, so I had a quick look to see what was around on the power of “national psychology” (as Boyle calls it).

    There is some statistical analysis from the HoC Library and YG polling evidence in England which may cast some light on the matter (or at least suggest that the issue is worthy of deeper investigation) – though the indications are contradictory!

    In January 2016, YG polled on attitudes to the British Empire and the choice of an English national anthem. Sadly, back then we didn’t get crossbreaks by Leaver/Remainer, but have to use Con/UKIP as some sort of Proxy for Leaver and Lab/LD similarly for Remainer (inadequate proxies, of course, but may point in the right direction for future polling).

    On the British Empire, 43% in GB said it was “a good thing” compared to 30% in the Scottish polity.

    The 2017 HoC analysis, on the other hand, shows a correlation between identifying as “English only” and voting Leave. That might indicate that Boyle got his analysis the wrong way around!

    The HoC Library does come to this conclusion, however, “national and ethnic identities (and education) probably do not exclusively determine how people voted, they may have played a role in as much as they are themselves associated with a set of social values and attitudes.”

    To understand public attitudes (and, therefore, polling) it’s an area that probably needs more attention than it has received.

  7. Good Afternoon from a sunny and windy Southbourne on Sea in Bournemouth East seat.

    Good Afternoon to you. In respose to your point about the deleterious impact of Momentum on the Labour Party and the concomitant benefits to the Tories; you may be referring to negative effects of anti-semitism, deselections, admiration for Trotsky, pacifism and focus on protest instead of reaching out to the well off voters.
    IMO that is correct.

  8. Roger,

    Thanks for this.

    What is good about this poll is the range of questions.

    D would need to move more in favour imo for a second ref on in/out to be called for by the Labour Party or Tory remainers.

    I expect the LDs and SNP to do this at some point this year.

    What chance 2 stage process, deal rejected by UK population followed by second in/out v WTO ref?

    There is a majority for the first and the consequence of rejection would be a second in/out almost automatic.

    What would remainers do vote against the deal but risk WTO winning the send ref?

    Odds still against further refs it but shorter now perhaps?

  9. Norbold

    Much like your unbiased insights .


    Quite correct and as important the likely force for fracture between the unforgiving left of the party and the more centralist Labour MP’s fearful of deselection by the party members should they step out of line .

  10. OldNat,
    Your pondering on Englishness and great Britain should perhaps bear in mind that great Britain was the nation ruled by the English, not the british. British was perhaps more a territorial descriptor than a nationality. Thus the English ruled the british Isles.

  11. I have had great difficulty signing in to this site for some time. My original username RMJ1 login has not be accepted for some time and all attempts to reset the password have failed. I have now attempted to use a different username and email address but although I can log in, everything is moderated out. Is the fact that I travel (a lot) using different internet providers a problem? Could the saintly AW advise?

  12. @ OLDNAT – ‘English only’ correlation with r2=0.55 versus Leave %, sounds reasonable but the report itself states the risk of reading too much into that. I would expect ‘Scottish only’ to correlate very high with Yes % and quite high for Remain % as well. I think we’re onto a tangent here and you say yourself there are contradictions.

    There is likely to be a high correlation of age v pride in UK’s past (Empire) which happens to coincide with age v CON VI or age v Leave but I’d suggest that is a dangerous stereotyping path to go down. Correlation is not causation and I’ll add some old statistician sayings:
    “if you torture the data enough it will confess to anything”
    “if you keep mining the data you’ll eventually find gold (or set of an unexploded bomb)”


    “Nice to have your unbiased insights, Turk, they add so much to this site.”



    “Much like your unbiased insights .”

    Top banter !!!

  14. @ ROGER – yes, interesting. AW has pointed out the difficulty of asking hypothetical questions but Ashcroft has asked some pertinent questions. One issue is the timing:

    A – could be instant but would be very messy as we currently don’t know either Remain (same terms of via A49?) or Leave (good, bad, ugly deal). Voter fatigue also an issue I expect

    B – could be instant if we knew for certain if A50 was revokable otherwise seems like a wording change v A and hence shows the wording issue problem

    C – clearly one for the future and the one I’m happy to have in due course but only if we have to solve a deadlock in parliament. Barnier suggests we’d be into transition before we know the terms and that presents a serious problem for both Remain and Leave

    D – again for the future and the one Remain would want to have. Similar issues to C

    Some suggest a new ref could be 3 options and combine C+D (ie i/ Remain or Revoke+Return, ii/ Leave on EU terms, iii/ Leave on govt terms). To get to a new ref we have to assume a split in parliament such that parliament did not agree EU terms.

    The Leave splits between the 4 types of new ref seem obvious. A lot of ‘pragmatic’ Leavers worry that even talking about a 2nd ref is making the chances of a good deal less likely (so low % for A and B). I would guess Barnier is very happy to wait and hope UK has either option C or D after we’re in transition. The Tusk and Juncker comments keep that hope alive and the Remainer pilgrimage to Barnier’s office play into the EU’s hands to give us a very bad deal then hope we beg to return via A49. IMHO.

  15. Article 49 (Rejoin) – Juncker’s not so cunning plan!

    “Any European State… may apply to become a member of the Union.”

    So we leave A50 then reapply with A49. Now that is the polling question to ask! Would you:

    a/ Having left would you re-apply to rejoin the Union (add details on terms)
    b/ Leave with a minimum deal (add details on terms)

    The ‘add details’ for both is subjective of course:
    Rejoin: would they write-off the divorce bill (probably) in return for which would we lose some/all rebate, lose some/all vetoes, have to accept Schengen, join EU army, Euro…
    Leave: pay legal minimum which might buy us some transition (save est. 20bn v the 40bn on offer), no further payments, no ECJ, full ability to negotiate own immigration policy, own trade deals, etc….

    IMHO that is closest to C in Ashcroft’s questions but clearly some wording and interpretation issues (e.g. “without a deal” ought to be “with a minimum deal comprising… “ but it then gets subjective – subjectivity that needs to be sorted out asap IMHO – should have been sorted back in October!)

  16. There was me thinking Turk was a died in the wool socialist.

  17. Odds (stated as implied probabilities) on GE, new ref. Current betfair mid-market (rough change in last few months).

    GE in (specific year):
    2018: 20% (-10) less likely
    2019: 25% (+/-5) bit jumpy
    2020 or 2021: 10% (dull)
    2022: 35% (+10) more likely

    2022 now has highest probability where as it was 2018 before Xmas – both have been trending in direction shown

    EU ref ** (by end of):
    2019: 12% (+/-5) bit jumpy
    2020: 25% (+/-5) bit jumpy

    The various comments from Farage, etc have jumped it around a little but neither has moved much for months.

    ** usual notes about betting, etc. in particular ensure you know exactly what your betting on (Betfair’s EU ref states “In/Out” so be careful with what “In” means with them! Others simply quote for “referendum” and hence slightly higher probabilities but that is more to do with bookies profit margin!)

  18. Anyone interested in Germany?

    Merkel’s implied probability has dropped back to 90% (from 95% earlier in the week and a 85-95% range in the last few months).

    CDU/CSU minority govt a very low 8% mid implied IMHO – worth a cheeky tenner at 11-1?
    Grand coalition with SPD obviously most likely at around 85%

    Highest implied probability is for new govt to form in March (about 50%) with Feb and ‘after March’ both around 25%

    ** again be sure to read the rules about which bets are voided if new elections are called

  19. “There was me thinking Turk was a died in the wool socialist.”

    The phrase is normally ‘DYED in the wool’, unless you were expecting him to suffer a death by woolly socialism.

  20. Danny

    “Thus the English ruled the british Isles.”

    Any reasonable analysis would suggest that was inaccurate.

    A subset of people in the UK ruled the “British Isles”, and half the world, for a period of years.

    After the World Wars, the same subset ruled part of the “British Isles” and a few pockets of territory scattered around the globe.

    Suggesting that a factory worker in Newcastle had any greater influence that her counterpart in Selkirk is to give a rather ludicrous importance to whatever they perceived as their “nationality”!

  21. Carillion contracting

    Our local papers have been suspiciously silent on whether any Carillion employees have been doing any work on the (Aberdeen) AWPR since Monday`s collapse.

    Given the papers` general support for the SNP government and their constant condemnation of the Labour/Tory coalition running Aberdeen City, especially for their handling of major delayed infrastructure projects, I don`t think the papers will give much column space to further delays to the AWPR, and government struggles to avoid these.

    Just before Xmas the constructors` joint company received a £280,000 fine for polluting the Dee and tributaries, and I feel it likely that the remaining two partners will baulk at paying Carillion`s share – that event wasn`t in the small print (?).

    I noticed in the article that the Royal factor for Balmoral Estate (R. Gledson) was in the lead in pushing the prosecution. Could it be that Prince Charles had a hand in this?

    I ought to say that this last half-jocular comment is just as unlikely as mine yesterday on Carillion supporting the SNP like they do the Tory party, which drew a merited reply from Old Nat.

  22. Another of the unfortunate incidents that have happened in the AWPR construction is a bus stop being shut without warning reaching the driving crews, and an 84-year-old getting dropped off into the central reservation by it.

    But this maybe a fault of the shockingly incompetent private bus company rather than the Carillion consortium.

  23. JAMES E

    I should have known better!

  24. Davwel

    Good post, and an interesting question as to who pays the penalty for the silt pollution.

    Though, since the Enforcement Undertaking was a formal acceptance by the consortium that they were responsible would seem to make it hard for them to wriggle out of paying

    Were Carillion actually doing any of the work on the AWPR, or had they subcontracted all the actual work, and contented themselves with taking the profit from the work that other companies did?

  25. Rebelling against Kier Starmer as well I guess.

  26. Not good but half a rebellion as Labours’ position was to abstain.
    Also was 64 in December so less this time.

  27. Trevor warne,
    ” a bit cakeish to think EU would welcome us back and then allow us to dictate the terms by which they should reform?”

    You know better than that. But you are right, the best situation for the UK is to be a member of the EU. Then we get market access, AND we get to control how that market is run. It is quite disturbing that you now consider what we enjoyed as a right and was the status quo, as ‘cakish’. it show what the UK has lost, or will lose if it leaves the EU.

    Absolutely right, the Uk has an absolute veto on reform of the EU in terms of treaty change, and also a veto on many aspects of how it is run under the current treaties. We have used this power to create a two speed EU, with us opting out of anything we do not like. A truly ‘have cake and eat’ situation. But leave want to throw that away and turn the Uk into a vassal state of the EU.

  28. trevor warne,
    “So we leave A50 then reapply with A49.”

    No. I took it the EU is confirming we just have to withdraw notice to quit, and we are back as members.

    “Suggesting that a factory worker in Newcastle had any greater influence that her counterpart in Selkirk”

    i’m not suggesting factory workers anywhwere had any say in running the empire, at least not until the labour party came along, and that has now gone native and become an establishment party too.

    I was reading an old school book from probably between the wars, and it was quite clear it was the English running great britain. Now, I can’t say if the same school books were used in scotland, maybe they had some saying Scotland ruled Great Britain, but I doubt it. I am old enough to remember when England and Great Britain were synonymous. When it was England which ruled (or had ruled within living memory of those old then) the world, and England which saved the world from Nazism.

    So what i am saying is that when asking survey questions, it might be no contradiction at all if an English nationalist subsumes the concept of ruling Great Britain. Wales is just part of england really, and the scots and irish will do as they are told. (and while this might be considered provocative now, it is no more than the historic truth, and the pragmatic reality right now)

  29. Davwell,
    ” I feel it likely that the remaining two partners will baulk at paying Carillion`s share”

    Do fines owed to government have priority amongst creditors in a bankruptcy? There was 29 million left in the kitty.

  30. Justine Greening apparently making waves by suggesting Brexit will be reversed by the next generation of MPs. The question is, did May remove her from a ministerial job so that she would be free to say this publicly (on behalf of the cabinet). Another tory move for remain?

  31. I wonder if the collapse of Carillion will have any effect on this. Much will depend on the judicial review.

  32. ON:

    On whether Carillion were doing any work themselves on the AWPR, I have seen no evidence from signs on my numerous crossings of the constructions.

    And the DTel article last July (link below) suggests that much if not all their share of the work had been subcontracted by them:

    Subcontracting is an absolute pain for those responsible for picking and supervising. I well remember an Aberdeenshire employee telling me of his nightmares when the Tories (Queen Maggie) forced this on councils, and he saw one of the persons he had contracted grass-cutting the central reservation of a dual carriageway by going along the fast lane in the wrong direction. He had his orange flashers on, he explained, but was sacked instantly.

    I also see that Galliford Try reported in May 2017 that they had lost £80m on the AWPR and Queenferry Crossing, whereupon their shares plunged 9%. With another possible loss of £50m from taking on Carillion`s unpaid debts on the AWPR, and the route by no means finished, I wonder if they too will be brought down.

    The cost of labour in the NE and the difficulties in recruiting people to work here might not have been fully taken on board in 2012-2014 when contractors were estimating and bidding.

  33. DAVWEL

    Carillion contracting

    Our local papers have been suspiciously silent on whether any Carillion employees have been doing any work on the (Aberdeen) AWPR since Monday`s collapse.

    Well it’s good to hear that the NE is completely unaffected by the snow that the rest of Scotland has been getting (to the astonishment of the media – apparetly it’s unknown for it to snow in Scotland in January). Not that such a thing would ever slow down building work.

    Anyway according to Wiki:

    the successful bidder was “Connect Roads (Balfour Beatty Investments Limited; Carillion Private Finance (Transport) Limited; Galliford Try Investments Limited)”

    so if the remaining two (both FTSE 250 companies) go under, there will be problems, but it seems unlikely and they should be big enough to cope.

    Which won’t stop a lot wrangling I suspect as they attempt to avoid responsibility. There may be all sorts of complications involving sub-contracts and attempts to blackmail governments by go-slows and court actions. But they should still be bound by existing contracts.

    The AWPR is listed as one of the contracts that got Carillion into trouble in this interesting piece by Nils Pratley

    Though may be less of a problem than with Carillion’s exclusive contracts. As to whether any of these consortium members are financially supportive of the SNP, it seems unlikely. Actually companies with government contracts tend not to make political donations, leaving it to their very well rewarded bosses to make the payments personally and do the general smootching.

    Apparently the Carillion chairman was an adviser to the Tories on corporate responsibility. So at least in future politicians should know to stop taking advice from people called Philip Green.

  34. @JIM JAM
    The December lab-remain rebellion was for a plausible amendment as I recall.

    This one commited the govt to remain a ‘member’ of the customs union and single market. Starmer has repeatedly and correctly pointed out that this is not as such legally possible, at least as those arrangements are defined Uber th Treaties.

    Last night’s amendment presented an impossible condition so was a wrecking amendment pure and simple. You could see Starmer in the whip comments “It is not a serious amendment and it is not one the Labour frontbench will be supporting.”

  35. Danny,

    Yes, Wales was considered by some here in NE Scotland as part of England when we first arrived.

    I once asked for the Welsh new potatoes in our village greengrocers` shop, only to get a sarcastic reply “you mean the English” – they were actually labelled Pembrokeshire. And in my (former?) argumentative way, I answered back with a very definite you`re wrong. And we plunged into a row.

    Then there was the dear Press & Journal on the morning after a general election. They had given the whole double-spread middle page to a big headline “The Results from England”.

    It began with a string of places Aberavon, Aberdare, etc. I ought to have given the printers credit for working through the night and getting the paper through our letterboxes by 9 am, instead of being amused.

    Times have changed, and knowledge about who was running UK is confused by our assumptions that word usages haven`t changed .

  36. Danny

    Thanks. Glad to hear you were just commenting on the confusion between “England”, “Britain” and the “UK” among some folk. Hopefully, less common than it once was.

    Such confusion is, of course, not restricted to or about England. Always funny to hear Scots getting angry about GB getting confused with England, then blithely talking about our next game against “Holland”! (or as Davwel points out, copying the pollsters by incorporating Wales into England)

    On this site, the more interesting aspect is that “Britishness” tends to have different political connotations in the different bits of GB (NI is the most extreme example).

    It seems reasonable to suggest, however, that there is a certain commonality across the UK nations in stressing the importance of GB/UK (Britishness?) with regards to constitutional issues.

    The same people who advocate a conservative stance of keeping the UK also often embrace the revolutionary idea of leaving the EU – and they are predominantly older (50+).

    Those who advocate the revolutionary idea of Scottish independence and the more conservative notion that all of the UK remains in the EU are predominantly younger.

  37. Sorry “different bits of GB” -> “different bits of UK”

    We all do it!

  38. Davwel

    At least the welsh have found ways of upsetting the English as it’s believed that at least 16 of the 56 signatories of the American Declaration of Independence could claim direct Welsh decent.

  39. Turk:

    And we in Aberdeen consecrated the first bishop of the US Episcopal Church because the authorities in Canterbury wouldn`t have any dealings with the American rebels.

  40. Turk

    But 38 were of English ancestry so, on your reasoning, the English were the dominant group who found ways of upsetting the English.

    Were they the indecent English, as opposed to the decent Welsh?

  41. Thanks Guy for that interesting and shrewd piece by Nils Pratley on Carillion, including info on their increased dividend last year.

    Thanks too for thinking of us in the North during this throwback winter. Our problem latterly hasn`t been snowfall but the ground hard frozen, so there`s only been three days since c. Dec 8th when digging has been possible – for leeks (ToH) and replanting Xmas trees.

    The interpretation of our Scotland weather is made harder especially for those further South because of the distorted BBC maps. The difference between the NW coastal ground (Ullapool, Assynt, Lochinver) and the NE coastal plain (Easter Ross, Dingwall, Tain, Golspie) can often be great especially in an airflow from the W, but it`s hard to show and the forecasters can think the coastal strip not worth their time.

  42. PeterW,

    I take your word about Decembers but agree with you about tonight.

    48, at best, Naïve Labour MPs; some of whom will be in strong remain seats supporting for local electoral reasons, some misguided if well intentioned strongly pro-EU and some just rebelling to be awkward.

    Labour Party leadership shrugs shoulders and says shame but no big deal.

  43. Oldnat,
    “On this site, the more interesting aspect is that “Britishness” tends to have different political connotations in the different bits of GB”

    Just as the stats we have show a difference in voting intention across age groups, I would suggest there is likely to still be a difference in perception of the meaning of these terms across age groups. The stress on england, scotland, Wales, Ireland having separate identities, and even the others having some sort of equality with England, is modern political correctness, and some of the Brexit sentiment is probably reaction against this.

    I can well imagine a certain faction of brexiteers voting to leave the EU so as to restore the freedom of England. What was that about not repatriating EU powers to Scotland but keeping them at Westminster?

    “We all do it!”
    I dont really see a difference between UK and GB. The issue is whether England=Uk=GB. And it mostly does. Yes, people have brought up issues here over ‘United kingdom of Great Britain AND northern ireland’ (plus all the odd bits), which do sometimes have direct bearing on polling, but in normal usage would not be considered.

    Maybe the DUP have reminded voters Ireland exists. The PR value could be more than the money they get. Like ‘Game of Thrones’ being filmed there.

  44. New thread

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