Last week I wrote about the unusual YouGov poll showing a four point Conservative lead and said I personally thought it was more likely to be statistical noise than the first sign of the Conservatives opening up a lead in voting intention.

However, at the weekend we also had a new poll from Opinium that had topline figures of CON 42%(+2), LAB 39%(-1), LDEM 7%(+1). Fieldwork was Tues-Thursday and changes were from mid-January (tabs). This morning’s Independent reported partial figures from a new BMG poll that apparently had Labour and Conservative equal on 40% each – this would be an increase of three points in the level of Tory support since the last BMG poll in December.

The government have done little to endear themselves to the public in the last few weeks, nor have Labour done much to lose support. There is no obvious reason for movement in the polls, so I’m still a little sceptical (in themselves the changes are within the margin of error, and it’s perfectly possible for random chance to spit out a couple of polls that just happen to show movement in the same direction). Nevertheless, it’s possible we’re seeing some movement in the government’s direction. If we are, what should we make of it?

This far from the next timetabled general election voting intention polls have very little predictive value, all the more so when we have a known unknown as large as Brexit looming ahead of us and at least a fair chance of a change of Conservative leader before the next election. However for better or worse, mid-term voting intention is the barometer that we tend to use to measure how well the government and opposition are doing against each other, and that is reflected in the morale of the political parties and media perceptions of how well or badly they are doing. If it turns out to be genuine it may bolster Theresa May’s position a little, and may put Labour on the back foot, but we shall see.


536 Responses to “Latest Opinium & BMG polls”

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  1. The Home Affairs Committee looks at how the Home Office is handling Brexit in respect of immigration. The first section of the conclusions is here with a link to the full report.

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2017/home-office-brexit-immigration-report-published-17-19/

    “The delays to the Immigration white paper and lack of clarity over the Government’s intentions on immigration are creating anxiety for EU citizens in the UK, uncertainty for UK businesses, preventing proper planning and putting already overstretched immigration officials in an ‘impossible position’. That is unacceptable.
    With little more than a year to go, the Government is still failing to set out crucial details on the registration of current residents.
    Urgent clarity is needed over the Government’s immigration objectives for the transition period so that Parliament can debate and scrutinise the proposals before they are finalised.
    Insufficient resources have been allocated and insufficient staff are planned to be sure of a smooth registration process or to cope with additional border requirements on people or goods.
    Given the delays, lack of decisions and resources, UK Visas and Immigration will not be able to deliver two EU citizen registration schemes (one for existing residents and one for new arrivals) effectively by March 2019.
    An already overstretched Border Force does not have the capacity to deliver additional checks at the border by March 2019 – and the problems will be worse if they are expected to deliver additional customs checks as well. The Government should aim to keep customs arrangements the same in the transition period. Rushed and under-resourced changes will undermine border security.”

  2. via Britain Elects

    On bringing back compulsory military service for young people:

    Support: 48%
    Oppose: 36%

    18-24 yr olds:
    Support: 10%
    Oppose: 62%

    65+ yr olds:
    Support: 74%
    Oppose: 18%

    You would have to be 75+ and male (a significant minority among 75+ year olds) and have avoided higher education or an exempt job to have actually done National Service.

    Looks like lots of elderly middle class women really HATE young folk.

  3. Dublin port prepares for Brexit customs checks

    “The port currently handles 1.3 million Ro-Ro and container units a year, with 400-500 trucks arriving daily from the UK. About 200,000 of these units originate outside the EU and therefore require customs and other checking procedures in three dockside terminals, but CEO Eamonn O’Reilly expects this number to jump to at least a million after Brexit so four more terminals are needed….

    “We have to put in place border controls that are required by various State agencies.We’re talking booths the trucks will drive by, canopies, inspection areas, sheds where goods can be taken out and inspected. It’s the sort of stuff that would have been here in the early 90s before the single market came in.””

  4. sam: RTE reports that relations between SF and DUP had improved in the course of discussions and sufficient agreement had been reached to reach the point of drafting an agreement. At that stage it seems that some of the DUP MPs objected to what was being proposed. Whether this is something that can be fixed we may know soon. We know, anyway, that Brexit has destabilised NI politics

    My thoughts are that DUP Westmister are of a mind for hard brexit and that they know that the price is a hard border with the RoI. So they want direct rule in place to avoid Stormont refusing to pass the necessary Legislative Consent Motions. Meanwhile DUP NI, lead by Arlene Foster are concerned about a hard border and became rather keen to do a deal with SF to get Stormont back.

    For me, this is putting a different slant on December and the Phase 1 EU agreement. I suspect that Foster’s agreement had been sought and given for the initial draft, but DUP Westminster got wind of it and left Foster to kill that one off. In part, I think DUP Westminster do not want to be seen having influence at Westminster and want their interventions to appear as grass roots opinion.

  5. @Oldnat

    While interesting, I’m not it’s worth asling those quesions.

    When asked whether:

    a) We should have capital punishment
    b) Beat up childrenHave corporal punishment in schools
    c) Return to imperial measures
    d) Have national service

    …the answer is often yes.

    Not that there is any chance of it happening….

  6. OldNat

    If you look at the actual question (and it’s one of YouGov’s Live Surveys, so not the same as a proper poll):

    https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/4f4a8615-1239-11e8-abab-f9e75fbb5f97/question/c746c64b-1239-11e8-960d-2d3eccb856b3/toplines

    the actual question is Would you support or oppose bringing back compulsory military service for young people, who would serve for a month with the armed forces?

    (my bold)

    So it’s not quite as drastic as the Twitterverse seems to think. This might explain the rather surprising fact that women (50-32) are more in favour than men (45-41), though again that may be because people don’t associate National Service with women.

    You’ll be pleased to see that Scotland was most sceptical (tied at 46%) and shocked that UKIP supporters were 82-12 in favour. Apparently the 12% didn’t think a month long enough.

  7. Obviously, if we’re going to have polling on compulsory national service, AND query the questioning, then there is the inevitable Yes Minister clip on national service and getting the polling results you want…

    http://youtu.be/G0ZZJXw4MTA

  8. Norbold
    Thanks for link to that interview!

    Gives me real hope for the trade negotiations!

  9. Roger Mexico

    Thanks for the detail.

    Maybe that month’s service was the origin of the suggestion by a letter writer to the Guardian that the solution to the shortage of fruit & veg pickers was the (rather Cultural Revolution idea) that those in Higher Ed, should have to spend time doing manual labour on the land.

  10. Carfrew

    But Anthony would NEVER allow such a poll! (unless the money was exceptionally good) :-)

  11. What about National Service for boomers? About time they gave something back. Things might be very different if boomers had to endure whatever they happily vote for others!

  12. Sam

    I wonder how impartial the Home Affairs select Committee actual is ,it consist of Yvette Cooper as chair which gives it 11 members in total 7 of which voted remain at present it has including Cooper 5 Lab 1SNP 5 Cons one of which voted remain.
    Normally I would say so what, but on such a emotive issue as brexit maybe any report from Westminster concerning brexit should contain a health warning as to the authors leanings regarding how they voted.

  13. @oldnat

    Maybe he’ll go for the new, National service for boomers idea…

  14. Turk: I wonder how impartial the Home Affairs select Committee actual is ,it consist of Yvette Cooper as chair which gives it 11 members in total 7 of which voted remain at present it has including Cooper 5 Lab 1SNP 5 Cons one of which voted remain.
    Normally I would say so what, but on such a emotive issue as brexit maybe any report from Westminster concerning brexit should contain a health warning as to the authors leanings regarding how they voted.

    The composition of Select Committees is for Parliament to decide. I can’t see too many leavers complaining, because we had a referendum about Parliament making decisions.

  15. Carfrew

    Given that Anthony has a kid/kids he might prefer that National Boomer Service should be looking after the grandkids.

    An alternative form of exhausting the grandkidless boomers would need to be found.

  16. Turk

    “on such a emotive issue as brexit maybe any report from Westminster concerning brexit should contain a health warning as to the authors leanings regarding how they voted.”

    So we can ignore anything said by the UK Cabinet on the topic?

    I was there long before you!

  17. TCR/ON

    Always nice to look beneath the surface when viewing any report especially from politicians.

  18. Turk

    On the contrary, it’s seldom “nice” to see the grubbiness under the surface of political decision making.

    I refer the Honourable Member to my previous answer.

  19. Evening All from a balmy Bournemouth Evening.
    In early 1979, living in Manchester after the ‘Winter of Discontent’ gave way to an appallingly wet Spring in my PGCE year, I watched as the Unionists, Liberals and SNP joined with Maggie Thatcher in bringing the Labour Government down, while the Independent MP for Tyrone came to the House in order to abstain, alongside Gerry Fitt.

    Ulster Politics periodically influences Parliamentary affairs in the UK, as it did, fatally in 1886, 1894, 1918 and 1967-72.

    Ted Heath’s assumption of Direct Rule and imposition of OMOV for elections was controversial at the time.

  20. ChrisLane 1945

    Of course there is an” Ulster politics”. Elections to the Ulster Council representing all 9 counties in the GAA can be riven with politics.

    That’s nothing to do with the MPs from the 6 counties of Ulster that chose to seceded from Ireland to form a Protestant dominated enclave on the island.

    Indeed there wasn’t even an “Ulster politics” in the 19th century or even in the early 20th century – except for that brief period when the UK Unionists demanded that Ulster should be exempt from Home Rule.

    That is until they realised that including all 9 counties wouldn’t guarantee them a Protestant majority. and promptly dumped the idea.

  21. @OLDNAT

    “Given that Anthony has a kid/kids he might prefer that National Boomer Service should be looking after the grandkids.
    An alternative form of exhausting the grandkidless boomers would need to be found”

    ——–

    Yes, that might be Ok if national service for the youngsters was also just babysitting.

    Otherwise, it’s just another case of boomers giving themselves something rather different to others.

    I mean, it’s not like we’re suggesting boomers should do assault courses and stuff. Not at first anyway. We can ease them in with a bit of Pilates, some light trampolining, Parkour, that sort of thing.

  22. Carfrew

    “it’s not like we’re suggesting boomers should do assault courses and stuff.”

    Tell that to my grandkids! A bit of Pilates would be far less exhausting.

  23. @oldnat

    If looking after grandkids was that much effort, boomers would have outlawed it by now, or made a law to make the youngsters do it instead.

    Honestly, you’re not giving this a fair crack of the whip. What about another idea: Boomer Reparations!! Everything where they benefitted but denied others the same, they have to pay back, if they have the assets*. If not, then it’s community service or summat.

    I got loads more ideas…

  24. Carfrew

    “Everything where they benefitted but denied others the same, they have to pay back”

    Already done that – OK only within the family and to Foodbanks, but I’m all in favour of proper taxation of us oldies.

    Making working folk pay the NI tax while we are exempt is fundamentally immoral.

    Still, I think you’re falling for the old trick. You’re listening to the very rich telling you that it’s the folk in the middle who stole your biscuit, when the super rich stole the biscuit factory!

  25. @oldnat

    Of course, one is aware of the stealing-the-biscuit-factory thing, although numerous boomers were ok with that so long as they got their freebies, inflated assets etc.

    (It’s possible some reparations may happen anyway once the demographics shift a bit)

    Moving on, following the gun thing earlier, here’s a U.S. comedian’s take on buying a gun…

    http://youtu.be/QHqB2t-DGb8

  26. Carfrew
    Didn’t we establish some time ago that you yourself are a ‘boomer’.

  27. Anyone know what happens to a political party when it is financially bankrupt?

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/15/ukip-edged-towards-bankruptcy-by-judges-decision-on-legal-costs?CMP=share_btn_tw

    (Moral and policy bankruptcies may be essential for office)

  28. BBC seem to have answered my question about a party going bankrupt.

    They’re going to keep putting Farage on QT till his fees pay off the bill.

    UKIP just went from 1st to 6th in a by election in Tendring!

    FFS

  29. UKIP do seem to be on their last legs, but their voters numbered 4m at their peak. No party can afford to ignore that many people. It’s easily enough to swing a GE. They’re not all going to tamely go back to whoever their previous allegiance was to.

  30. @Pete B

    “Didn’t we establish some time ago that you yourself are a ‘boomer’.”

    ——-

    I’m on the cusp, by some definitions I am, by some not. (Not that it makes any difference to what I was saying).

    I know you whine a bit whenever boomers are the subject of some ribbing, but strangely, at other times, when it’s other people who are the focus, you’re very keen to defend the right to do that, and have issues with being PC! No one knows why…

  31. Pete B

    ” They’re not all going to tamely go back to whoever their previous allegiance was to.”

    I agree (even though the BBC will do its best with our cash to keep them in play).

    Many, I suspect, just won’t vote – although that may actually be a return to their previous behaviour.

  32. @Oldnat

    Next week’s QT has Farage, Diane Abbott and Ken Clarke on.

    Should be nice and quiet…

    ;-)

  33. Technicolouroctober: “The composition of Select Committees is for Parliament to decide. I can’t see too many leavers complaining, because we had a referendum about Parliament making decisions.”

    You might also say we had a referendum about the EU not decisions. And most of Parliament appears to be intent on letting the EU continue to decide lots of things.

    But the votes for Committees, particularly Committee chairs, were used by backbenchers to signify their opposition to Brexit.

    The basic problem for Leavers like myself, is that you need greater strength of feeling to carry through a project like Brexit. At the election, Remainers defected to Labour in the expectation that the party would turn its coat sooner or later; but Leavers did not defect to the Tories in such numbers, and many were happy to believe fairly transparent reassurances that about leaving. There was insufficient strength of failing amongst Labour-leaning leavers up north.

    Which means that the Commons has never embraced the idea of looking at “how can we get the best deal”, or “which demands by the EU are off the scale outrageous?” It is steadily rerunning the referendum, determining the arguments lie in favour of staying in this or that part of the EU. Steadily, it will have convinced itself that nothing in the EU was really worth leaving. So a Brexit where you don’t leave anything will be the only option…

    In one sense that will Parliament taking back power – but from the electorate, not the EU.

  34. @TechnicolourOctober @Chrislane1945 – DUP Westminster

    I’d agree with @TO’s assessment. They are in a far stronger position to have leverage over the UK Government rather than possibly collapsing it by rejecting May’s “Clean Brexit” agenda for some flavour of BINO.

    @Chris Riley – Helen Lewis’s NS piece

    That may be how you feel too but Helen Lewis had nothing helpful to say in that piece. It was a rant. She doesn’t accept the result of the Referendum and wish it had never happened. Not really constructive.

  35. @B&B “I tried reading Tales of a Dying Earth under the Fantasy Masterworks label years ago, but couldn’t get into it. That branch of the genre (Moorcock etc) now seems a bit dated to me, with lots of things just happening to a character that we are a bit ambivalent about. Have you read any Roger Zelazny though? Utterly weird and wonderful.”

    Yes, Roger Zelazny has some wonderful stuff. He was an expert on drawing from mythology. Not sure if you knew but he was highly influenced by Jack Vance. His book “Jack of Shadows” was a homage to Vance. Likewise Gene Wolfe’s “Book of The New Sun”. The very much in-vogue George Martin of Game of Thrones fame sites Vance as a major influence even naming a character “Lord Vance of Wayfarer’s Rest”. Even D&Ds magic system was called Vancian Magic.

    To your point on the first book in the Dying Earth series, it was published in 1950 and was a heavily magazine-edited selection of pulp fiction short stories from the likes of the SF/Fantasy magazine “Amazing Stories”. It’s therefore somewhat disjointed and really should be read as a “set and setting” piece to the following books – The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel’s Saga and Rhialto The Marvellous. I doubt there has ever been a more amusing amoral, sardonic, fatalistic character as Cugel. That particular character is not for everyone I admit.

    It was Vance who primarily pioneered “Science Fantasy”. He was extremely prolific and if you like Zelazny I recommend starting with some of his more acclaimed works like “The Last Castle”. If you like high fantasy (something Vance didn’t write that much of) then the Lyoneese trilogy is excellent.

  36. Old Nat

    “UKIP just went from 1st to 6th in a by election in Tendring!”

    As someone living in Tendring I can tell you this was due to special circumstances.

    Which are that UKIP are finished!!!

  37. @Carfrew
    I don’t understand that pointing out that you yourself are a ‘boomer’ can be construed as whining. The rest of your post was even more unintelligible.
    ——————————-
    @Oldnat
    “Many [ex-UKIP voters], I suspect, just won’t vote – although that may actually be a return to their previous behaviour.”

    You may well be right. No party represents them, which is a dangerous state of affairs IMO.
    ————————————————–
    G’night all

  38. Norbold

    Local by election results are seldom very informative – especially FPTP ones or STV/AV ones where there are no transfer votes.

    That Tendring one does suggest that your analysis is accurate :-)

    Despite the 26.5% turnout in Bonnybridge and Larbert, there may be some points of interest in the transfer reports which should be on the Falkirk council website tomorrow [1]

    http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/news/article.aspx?aid=4409

    Only the 1st preference votes are up at the moment, but since the SNP held the seat at round 5 of the transfers, it could give some indication on tactical voting.

    [1] My grandkids will be putting me through the assault course tomorrow, so I won’t have time to look at them.

  39. @Pete B

    “I don’t understand that pointing out that you yourself are a ‘boomer’ can be construed as whining. The rest of your post was even more unintelligible”

    ——–

    You’ve complained before. The rest of the post is really straightforward. You were happy to support the recent jokes at expense of the Germans for example and have complained about the PC thing. I’m just suggesting some consistency is all.

  40. “The British public thinks it is more important secondary school children have PE lessons than study history, according to a study by YouGov.

    The survey asked British adults which subjects they felt were the most important to study in schools, and physical education ranked more highly than many other subjects, including history and religious education.

    Out of 1,648 respondents, 42 per cent ranked PE as very important, compared to 39 per cent who think history is very important and 12 per cent for religious studies.

    Experts have said this could be because of changing attitudes towards childhood obesity as public health campaigns sink in.

    Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, told The Telegraph: “People are getting the message that exercise is equally important to good health as nutrition.”

  41. Carfrew

    Sport pays better than history

  42. Carfrew

    Sport pays better than history

  43. Joseph1832,
    “The basic problem for Leavers like myself, is that you need greater strength of feeling to carry through a project like Brexit.”

    Many posts on here are just chatter, but this struck me as one of the most significant ones, which I would completely agree with. The problem with brexit is, as you say, that the referendum was 52/48 to leave, amounting to only about 1/3 of the electorate for leaving. It isnt enough.

    Although we usually assume that non voters will go along with a decision, what this result really means is that a big chunk did not care enough to vote. They plainly do not have a ‘great strength of feeling’ to push brexit through.

    A few years ago I would have said, based on polling, that most people were in favour of the EU, but at least as important, most people had it way down on their priority list of concerns. The campaigning changed that to some extent, and polling now places Brexit as top issue.

    However, you puzzle why leavers did not move to tories in larger numbers. The answer may well be that the referendum was a one issue vote, and did not ask people how important they placed this issue. It was sold as a question in isolation: People were not asked would they want either Brexit, or a labour government. When this question was asked at the general election, the block you are thinking of failed to vote tory, because they believed a labour government was more important.

    Polling generaly shows labour voters less concerned about Brexit than tories. Presumably most of these putting Brexit as a top concern are in fact remainers. I have argued before, that labour has little or nothing to lose by going hard remain, because those who voted for labour last time, who expressed concern over Brexit or indeed said they support leave, are either remainers or value something more than leaving. Labour understood this perfectly in their campaigning. Or if they didnt understand it, they lucked out and pitched it very well indeed.

    The tories needed to test the strength of support for Brexit. They argued the only credible kind of Brexit is a hard Brexit, and I think they are right. But in fact people do not want a hard Brexit, they do not believe it is viable, it would not have won in the referendum. Leave only won by confusing the nature of Brexit, including soft in the mix of possible outcomes. The tories failed to get support for hard brexit, and do not believe in soft brexit. (though nor do they believe in hard brexit and nor do I, but logically it is the only alternative to full membership which makes any sense)

    It is probably also relevant that UKIP had already gathered together a lot of the people who strongly wanted to leave, from both conservative and labour. While most of these went tory last time, in a sense the test of whether you value leaving more than party had already been applied for leavers and that switch was built in already. What happened in the election was the same sort of thing, but now remainers motivated to move to the remain(ish) party, labour. So I dont see it as a surprise of many more remainers came out of the woodwork and clustered around labour, while there was no big increase for tories. Some people would have voted UKIP who could not stomach voting tory.

    It is of course relevant that all we see is the net result. There might be all sorts of switches below the surface where people are switching vote in opposite senses or circularly, which arent clear to us. Yougov might have a handle on such trends, from accumulated data over the years from polling panels.

    “Which means that the Commons has never embraced the idea of looking at “how can we get the best deal”,”

    On the contrary, i think both parliament and the government have looked at this far more carefully than they are willing to admit. Because they know the result, and Barnier is right: the best course is to remain. But if voters insist, then they will leave. Hence the need for the election. But the result of the election was not enough support for the only logically coherent alternative, a hard Brexit. Most people seem to agree that remaining is preferable to soft Brexit, but if voters have said they do not want remain and they do not want hard brexit…. The campaign now will be to switch from soft Brexit to remain, because remaining is simly better for all the issue which leavers feel most strongly about.

  44. @PRINCESS RACHEL

    “Sport pays better than history”

    ———

    Ah. I suppose I should ask if this is a recent development, or recent perception, to explain why history might have hitherto been preferred, but shall leave it to the historians to explain it…

  45. Technicolouroctober

    Re DUP decision. I too was struck by the possible similarities of events within the DUP. Might this explain it – power without responsibility, for the foreseeable future?

    https://www.irishnews.com/news/politicalnews/2017/12/06/news/arlene-foster-no-longer-in-the-dup-driving-seat–1203942/

  46. TURK

    The test is whether what the Home Affairs Committee says is true, surely?

  47. CARFREW

    “I got loads more ideas.” @10.54 pm

    Got any grandchildren?
    Got any assets?

  48. Danny

    My comment with regard to the reasoning behind May’s decision to call the last GE is based on a fairly substantial view that she did so in order to secure a large enough majority to nullify the threats from the right of the party.

    But that, deviously, to keep them on board, she made the right noises to suggest a hard brexit.

    That rather fits into your own theory that she – and others – are perfectly aware that leaving the EU is a very dangerous action to take. Obviously there a very few people who really know the truth.

    Secondly, just like in the referendum itself, a large percentage of voters answered a completely different question. For example a survey in Middlesbrough suggested that people voted leave in the referendum to “shake things up” and with no understanding at all about the implications of leaving.

    Which is why I suggested that your idea that May asked for support for a hard brexit and the voters said “no” is somewhat fanciful; Corbyn made sure that a large number of other questions were answered also – for which he received, and deserved, a lot of praise.

  49. “The Irish Times understands that the Irish Government largely shares Sinn Féin’s view of what happened at the talks and senior sources were pessimistic about the chances of achieving agreement with the DUP, citing both Ms Foster’s weakness in her own party and the DUP confidence and supply agreement with Mrs May’s Government in London.”

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/governments-play-for-time-after-collapse-of-stormont-talks-1.3394066

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