The full tables for YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times are now up here. As one might guess from five point Tory lead in voting intention, they are unremittingly dire for Ed Miliband.

On leader ratings David Cameron stands at minus 3 (from from 7 last week), Nick Clegg at minus 50 (from minus 49 last week) and Ed Miliband at minus 53, his worst so far and the first time he has dropped below Nick Clegg. Only 18% think Miliband is doing well, compared to 71% who think he is doing badly. Amongst Labour’s own supporters 50% now think Miliband is doing badly.

Asked if Labour had the right policies and the best leader for them, only 8% thought they had both. 31% think they have the right policies, but only 14% think they have the right leader. Even amongst the 31% who think they have the right policies (and are therefore must be somewhat well disposed towards them), three quarters think they don’t have the best leader for them. Only 24% of people, and only 26% of Labour’s own supporters, think that Miliband should lead the party into the next election.

Turning to Labour’s policies, YouGov asked how well people think they understand the Labour party’s position on the cuts. 37% say they understand it very (4%) or fairly well (37%). 54% say they don’t understand it well or don’t understand it at all. Asked about Labour’s decision to support the 1% cap on public sector pay rises, 50% said they agreed with the decision to not reverse the cap. Labour supporters were evenly split – 41% supporting the decision (and therefore the cap), 38% disagreeing with it.

As well as this there were a series of questions on the “Boris Island” airport, which generally speaking found people opposed to the idea by about 2 to 1. YouGov also found opposition to the idea of a new Royal Yacht – only 24% of people supported it, compared to 64% who were opposed (of the 24% who supported it, 62% thought the taxpayer should contribute, with 37% thinking it should be funded wholly from private funds)

Finally there were some questions on the Falkland Islands. 57% of people think they should remain British, 12% think they should be given to Argentina. Were the Islands to be invaded again today, 58% of people say they wouls support military action to defend them, 27% say they would oppose it.

YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 41%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, Others 14%. The five point Conservative lead is the YouGov’s highest since October 2010 and the Labour score the lowest.

Normal caveats about outliers apply – while Thursday’s YouGov poll also showed a 3 point Tory lead, tonight’s ComRes poll still showed the parties neck-and-neck. The YouGov polls could be the start of the Tories opening up a small lead, or could just be an outlier.

I’ll do a full update tomorrow morning when the tables are published.


The monthly online ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror has topline figures, with changes from their last online poll in early December, of CON 38%(+2), LAB 38%(-2), LDEM 11%(+1), Other 13%(-1). A neck-and-neck tie between Labour and the Conservatives is very much in line with the YouGov polling we’ve seen so far this month.

In the rest of the ComRes poll today they asked voting intention questions with various alternate Labour leaders. Questions like this are incredibly popular with the media when a party leader starts to teeter, but are extremely dicey methodologically. Firstly, if you want to compare them to current voting intention questions with the incumbent leader you need to treat them in the exactly the same way as a normal voting intention question – if you measure normal voting intention using three questions (likelihood to vote, voting intention and a squeeze question) then you need to do the same for other candidates. If, for example, you just do one likelihood to vote question and use it for all questions then you’d miss out on voters who might sit on their hands if X was leader, but come out if Y was leader.

There’s also the fact that normal voting intention questions don’t mention the party leaders, while by definition these questions do. There is a risk of skewing things if you mention only the leader of the party in question but if you get round that by mentioning the other leaders too, how do you know any difference is not down to mentioning them?

In short, the caveats on comparing hypothetical leader questions to current voting intention questions are significant.

More interesting are comparing the voting intentions with one alternative leader to another, though again, be careful. They are to a great extent defined by a lack of public awareness of most politicians, if you recall a few months ago only around 60% of respondents were able to recognise a picture of Ed Balls…if 40% of people don’t even know what Ed Balls looks like, they are not likely to be a particularly sterling judges of how they would respond to an Ed Balls leadership.

Hypothetical questions about how people would vote with leaders who are very little known are virtually useless, as voters of that party naturally say don’t know, while other parties’ support holds up, giving the illusion of the party performing hopelessly under their leadership. For example, in this ComRes poll 50% and 45% of people said they didn’t know how they’d vote with Chuka Umunna and Yvette Cooper as Labour leader, creating the false impression of Conservative leads of 26 and 20 points under their leaderships.

That’s not to say these polls are always useless – they can give a good steer on how people might respond to a leader who is already very well known to the public. For example, the hypothetical polls in early 2007 showing Labour doing worse under Gordon Brown, a figure very well known by the public, were saying something worth listening to (though even then, were a rubbish predictor of the Brown bounce).

With the caveats out of the way, the ComRes poll found people saying that with David Miliband as Labour leader the party would have a 3 point lead, compared to a 6 point deficit with Ed Balls (or Tony Blair!), a 13 point deficit with Alistair Darling and a 15 point deficit with Harriet Harman. As far as I can see, the hypothetical voting intention questions were just done as a grid, without the likelihood to vote weighting or squeeze question that ComRes normally use, meaning they are not comparable to normal ComRes voting intention polls.

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 41%, LAB 38%, LDEM 8%. It’s the biggest Conservative lead YouGov have shown since December 2010, but normal caveats apply: it could be the start of a trend, or it could just be normal random sample variation.

Over the last fortnight YouGov’s figures have ranged between CON 38-41%, LAB 38-41%, LDEM 7-11%… so while this is at the top end of recent Conservative numbers and the bottom end of recent Labour scores, it’s not out of line with them.

There is a new YouGov poll of London out today, the first for over six months. Last June YouGov had Boris Johnson ahead, the latest figures have Ken Livingstone overtaking him to secure a very narrow lead – topline figures for the first round are Boris 44%(-4), Ken 46%(+5), Brian Paddick 7%(+5), Others 3%. Asked to choose just between the top two candidates, Ken leads by a whisker – 51%(+5) to Boris’s 49%(-5).

Note that this is the first YouGov London polling since Brian Paddick was confirmed as the Lib Dem candidate, so the boost for Paddick will at least partially be that fact that there is now a named Lib Dem candidate in the question, rather than “the Liberal Democrat Candidate”.

YouGov also asked about Westminster voting intention, and there was no such swing towards Labour here – in fact, Labour’s lead has dropped since last June. Current Westminster voting intentions in London are CON 34%(+2), LAB 49%(-2), LDEM 8%(nc), Others 9%. This reflects a 6.5 swing from Con to Lab since the general election, larger than polls are currently showing in the country as a whole.

The contrast of a shift from Boris to Ken in mayoral voting intention, but Lab to Con in Westminster voting intentions appears to be because the proportion of “Labour for Boris” voters is falling: last June 23% of Labour voters who expressed a preference opted for Boris over Ken, in the latest figures that has fallen to 12%.

That said, Boris is still polling significantly above his party. In Westminster voting intentions Labour have a very solid lead in London. In mayoral voting intentions it remains neck and neck.