Hi – still offline most of the time, but here’s a quick update on the two polls that are out today.

Populus’s December poll had topline figures of CON 40% (+4), LAB 32% (-5), LDEM 16% (nc). The poll was conducted between the 7th and 9th of December.

Populus’s methodology tends to produce figures that are slightly better for Labour than, say, ICM or YouGov – in fact, they are the only pollster who until now had not shown the Conservatives back in the lead. There isn’t any nice formula you can plug a poll into and say “well, an 8 point Populus lead is thesameas an X point ICM lead”, but 40% for the Tories in a Populus poll is a good thing from Populus. The picture heeis much as we’ve seen elsewhere, the Tories advancing up into the 40s, Labour falling into the low 30s and the Lib Dems back off the canvas but now semingto be somewhere around the mid teens, depending on the pollster.

Ipsos MORI’s political monitor for December has topline voting intention figures of CON 42%

(+1), LAB 35% (+3), LDEM 14% (-3). The poll was conducted between 29th November and 7th December.

The figures here would appear to show Labour recovering, in contrast to all other polls. In recent days the news coverage has moved away from negative stories about the government to obsess over canoe man, and if this poll was very recent I’d guess it was a genuine recovery. Given some of it is almost a fortnight old and Populu’s more recent findings, I suspect the changes are more down to the fact that last month’s MORI poll was done on the phone omnibus while they reviewed their sampling points, rather than their standard face-to-face interviews (or even just random sampling error).

Populus Poll

I’m moving house tomorrow so may not be around to write about the monthly Populus poll that should be out on Tuesday or Wednesday. Feel free to use this thread to discuss it when it appears!


There is a sorry absence of Scottish voting intention polls these days. Once upon a time the Scottish press used to commission regular polls, often from TNS System Three. More recently they only really crop up in the run up to elections. All we have to go on are the published results from the SNP’s private polls carried out by YouGov.

As ever, polls commissioned by a political party need slight caution – the methodology should be exactly the same and if carried out by a BPC member the tables will be published, allowing you to check for any funny business with the way the questions are worded. If they are from reputably pollsters you can be confident that they are kosher polls (certainly the SNP have been regularly commissioning these polls from YouGov and they appear entirely legitimate). The one thing you should be wary of is that clients do not have to release all the figures from private polls – the SNP are presumably happy to publish these findings at the moment because they are positive. If somewhere down the line the polls stop being rosy for them, you might find them less ready to publish their findings.

Anyway, the lastest voting intentions for the Scottish parliament are, in the constituency section, CON 12%, LAB 29%, LDEM 13%, SNP 40%. In the regional vote support stands at CON 13%, LAB 26%, LDEM 13%, SNP 34%, Green 9%, SSP 3%. The poll was conducted between 28th and 30th of November, so was prior to Wendy Alexander’s recent funding problems.

Compared the most recent YouGov poll in Scotland that asked about Holyrood voting intentioned, conducted back in August for the Sunday Times, this has the SNP up significantly at the expense of Labour in the constituency section and Labour significantly down, presumably to the benefit of “others” in the regional section. However, I think there may well be significant methodological differences in the way voting intention was asked in the two polls, in terms of the blurb explaining the two votes and in terms of which parties were prompted for (the 9% support for the Greens seems quite high, I suspect YouGov prompted

Job approval for the SNP government in Edinburgh still seems to be riding high, with 63% thinking they are doing well and 26% thinking they are doing badly. The next figure of +37 is marginally up from the last poll at the beginning of October, which had the Scottish government on +33.

YouGov have carried out a survey of political academics for the Political Studies Association and asked who the best Prime Minister we never had was. Previous surveys of PSA academics showed they were mostly Labour supporters, so no surprise to see Labour figures take the top two spots – Denis Healey and Roy Jenkins – followed by Ken Clarke.

The rest of the top ten were Neil Kinnock, Hugh Gaitskell, Aneurin Bevan, Shirley Williams, Michael Heseltine and Tony Benn (as a write-in candidate). Barbara Castle, Rab Butler, John Smith and Charlie Kennedy all got 3%. The highest rated identifiably right-wing figure (as opposed to centrist Tories like Clarke and Hezza) was Enoch Powell on 2%.

The views of the PSA aran’t partially interesting in themselves, but it gives us the excuse to have a fun thread – so who do readers think the best PM we never had was?

On Tuesday Newsnight had an ICM poll showing that 57% of people thought that Gordon Brown was “tainted by sleaze”. We’ve had a flurry of polls showing people think horrible things about Gordon Brown at a time when the government is getting a bad press, so it’s hardly really newsworthy in itself.

The finding that actually caught my attention was that 15% of respondents thought that Vince Cable was was “tainted by sleaze”. This seems quite flagrantly unfair to me – even if you think the Lib Dems are sleazy, poor old Vince has only been filling in for a couple of weeks, and seems to have done in it an entirely blameless fashion. Why do 15% of people think the poor man is tainted by sleaze?

My automatic assumption was that it was down to partisan responses. I am becoming somewhat dubious about the value of questions about party leaders attributes (and for that matter, questions about which party is best on particular subjects) because I think many people answer them in a purely partisan manner. Many people who support the Conservatives will probably give a negative response to any question about Gordon Brown, and vice-versa. They aren’t really saying if they think Cameron is more competent than Brown or vice-versa, they are just saying they support the Conservatives and don’t support Labour.

They only become interesting when you look at the party support breaks and see if it’s all just partisan fluff (or when they are traced over time so you can look at trends). In this case the more worrying figure for Labour is probably that 53% of 2005 Labour voters think Brown is tainted by sleaze, rather than the negative opinion of the 74% of Tory supporters who probably aren’t going to vote Labour whatever happens. The other questions are answered on broadly partisan lines – 79% of 2005 Tory voters think Cameron is cut out to be PM, 82% think he is competent; 67% of 2005 Labour voters think Brown is cut out to be PM, 67% think he is competent.

Going back to the original question though, this doesn’t actually explain the Vince Cable figures. The people casting uncalled for aspersions on poor old Vince aren’t gangs of partisan Tories and Labour voters – even 14% of 2005 Liberal Democrats voters think Vince is sleaze-tainted. The only explanation I can offer is that they are ‘a plague on all your houses’ voters who think all politicians are by definition sleazy!