There is a Survation poll in the Daily Star on Sunday with topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LD 12%, Others 22% (including UKIP 11%, Green 4%, BNP 2%). Clearly 22% is a very high total for Other parties, and while I don’t have a spreadsheet of past UKIP polling figures, their highest rating in a GB Westminster voting intention poll that I’m aware of is this 10% from Harris in 2009, so this would be their highest.

The reason for these high figures is fairly straightforward: Survation prompted for the minor parties in their voting intention question. In other words, instead of asking something along the lines of “If there was a general election tomorrow, would you vote Con, Lab, Lib Dem or another party” they asked something like “If there was a general election tomorrow, would you vote Con, Lab, Lib Dem, UKIP, Green, BNP or another party” (in fact, they randomised the order of Con, Lab, LD & UKIP).

These days all the main pollsters include the name of the main three parties in their voting intention question, but none of them list the smaller parties. This makes a clear difference to the answers you get – if people are reminded of the existence of minor parties, then more people say they would vote for them. This Survation poll itself is good evidence of the effect – when they ran a poll without prompting earlier this month they found UKIP on 4% (though some of the difference could also have been between telephone and online methods). There is also the case of YouGov’s Scottish election polling in 2007, where the prompt was changed half way through the campaign to include minor parties – the effect was to increase support for “others” from 11% to 19%, and to change support for the Scottish Greens from 4% to 9% (in the event, the Scottish Greens got 4%).

Now, I sometimes see supporters of minor parties complaining about pollsters not including their parties in the prompt and saying it is unfair. I suppose in many ways it isn’t, and if one was arguing from first principles one might very well think that, given all the parties are on the ballot paper, they should all be in the prompt.

The reason other pollsters don’t include minor parties in the prompt is, however, because in practice not including them produces accurate results. There is no particular logic to it, it is just what has worked in the past. At the last election no pollster included minor parties in their main voting intention prompt, and the polls were pretty accurate in their predictions of support for minor parties:

UKIP 3.1% 3% 3% 2% 3%
BNP 1.9% 1% 2% 2% 2%
Green 1.7% 2% 1% 1% 1%

Including minor parties in the prompt would lead to significantly higher levels of support in polls, yet when compared to actual election results polls do not appear to be significantly underestimating support for minor parties. Certainly in the case of UKIP, most polling companies were pretty much spot on at the last election.

The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 43%, LDEM 11%, Others 12%. Typically of late YouGov have been showing a Labour lead of around five points, a nine point lead is the largest YouGov have shown for Labour since August, and 12% is the lowest for minor parties since mid-October. I can’t think of any obvious reason why there should be a sudden shift from minor parties to Labour, so I’ll leave it with my usual caveat about not getting too excited about polls showing anything unusual: sure, it could be the start of a trend, but the chances are it’s just a blip.

As usual I will do a proper post on the YouGov poll tomorrow once the tables are up. Also out tonight is another large poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft (presumably carried out by Populus) – full tables for that are here. Again, I’ll look properly at this tomorrow.

Finally, there is supposed to be a Survation poll for the Daily Star which shows good news for UKIP and the Greens. I’ve seen nothing of it yet, but will update later or tomorrow if and when it appears.


I expect we’ll have some more polling on Wednesday’s strikes over the next week or two, but there were a few questions on YouGov’s dailing polling for the Sun earlier in the week.

Firstly, asked about changes to public sector pensions, 41% of people said they supported them, 44% opposed them, a pretty even divide. There are some conflicting polls on this, people are more supportive of some of the changes than others. The most enlightening is probably YouGov in the Sunday Times at the start of November, which broke the pension changes into three parts – people were more positive towards making public sector workers pay more into their pensions (by 51% to 35%), linking pensions to average salary rather than final salary (by 49% to 30%). The part that met with more opposition was increasing their retirement age (44% thought this was right, 45% wrong).

Going back to this week’s poll, YouGov also asked about support or opposition towards the strikes themselves. Teachers going on strike were opposed by 53% to 37% in support. Civil servants going on strike were opposed by 54% of people with 35% in support. Compared to very similar questions straight after the strikes at the end of June, it suggests a slight drop in support since then.

I expect I’ll return to this issue in coming days! Meanwhile tonight we have the usual YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, while Patrick O’Flynn is suggesting there is a poll of some sort with good news for UKIP. We shall see.

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, Others 16%. The five point Labour lead is bang in line with recent YouGov polls, but it’s worth noting that within that 16% for others UKIP are on 8%, their highest since the European election in 2009.

The monthly Ipsos MORI political monitor poll for Reuters is out here. Topline figures with changes from a month ago are CON 34%(nc), LAB 41%(+3), LDEM 12%(nc). Labour have a increase since last month, but at the expense of others (Populus also had “others” sharply down this month… though there was no similar movement from ICM, ComRes or YouGov, so is probably pure co-incidence).

MORI also had some good questions on Britain and the Eurozone crisis – 80% of people thought that the state of the Eurpean economy had a great deal or a fair amount of influence over the state of the British economy, compared to 71% of people who thought the same about the decisions of the British government. Asked to compare the British and European economies over the next 12 months, 27% expected Britain to be better off than the rest of Europe, 16% worse off and 54% about the same.

Asked about how Cameron & Osborne has handled the economic crisis in Europe people were broadly positive – 52% think they have handled it well, 37% badly. Asked the same question about leading European politicians “such as French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel”, 44% think they have handled it well, 41% badly.

MORI also asked about attitudes to Britain loaning money to other countries in trouble. They found 40% of people supported Britain loaning money to countries on the verge of bankrupcy, as “our own economy relies heavily on others”, and 55% opposing such loans as Britain has its own problem. This is slightly different to the similar question YouGov has been asking for the Sunday Times: both polls found 55% of people opposed to Britain contribution, but YouGov found only 27% in favour. I suspect the reason may be MORI asking about helping out other countries, YouGov asked about helping the Eurozone.