This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 11%. The four point Labour lead follows a lead of seven points yesterday and three points on Monday. Normal caveats apply about taking a single poll out of context – a four point lead is clearly towards the lower end of YouGov’s current range – but the underlying average does appear to be falling. Full tabs are here.

While I’m here, I’m seen comments on twitter getting excited/concerned about today’s poll showing the Conservatives ahead amongst under 25s. This is something I wrote about last month. The brief version is that age cross breaks are only small so have large margins of error, especially for under 25s which tends to be the smallest age group with the largest proportion of don’t knows or wouldn’t votes. This means figures for under 25s are extremely volatile, and will swing about wildly from day to day. Taking just one unusual looking one is extremely misleading! Looking at the trend in YouGov’s recent polls it is very clear that, on average, Labour still enjoy a solid lead amongst under 25s.

Tuesday round up

There have been several interesting polls out today. First up Lord Ashcroft has released some polling of members of the Unite trade union. Many of the answers are what we’d expect, although not entirely comfortable for the Unite leadership – as you’d probably expect, Unite members don’t universally support the Labour party (amongst those who would vote, voting intention was Conservative 23%, Labour 49%, Lib Dem 7%, UKIP 12%). Shown a picture of Len McCluskey only 24% said they could recognise him (and only 16% actually got it right!). Again, rather awkward, but not wholly surprising – turnout in McCluskey’s election was only 15% and I suspect many members join up for protection of their rights in their local workplace, and have little concern for national trade union politics.

The core of the poll though is naturally about political funds, party affiliation and opting in. Asked if they contributed to the political fund, 37% of the Unite members polled said they did, 30% said they had opted-out, 33% didn’t know. This is interesting. The reality is that only about 5% of Unite’s membership have opted out of the political fund… so it could be that the sample is strangely skewed (though I can’t think of any obvious reason why it would be skewed towards opt-outers!), or that Unite’s rank and file members really do have little idea whether they are contributing to the political fund or not. Asked if they think the political fund should be opt-in or opt-out, 57% of members said they thought it should be opt-out, and asked what they would do if it was opt-in, only 30% said they would opt-in (comparing that to the 95% who currently contribute to the political fund I can’t imagine Unite going down that route!)

Ed Miliband’s proposals don’t affect Trade Union’s own political funds of course, rather he has suggested that Trade Union members should only be affiliated to the Labour party if they opt-in. Asked what people would do under these circumstances, 12% of Unite members said they’d opt-in to affiliating to the Labour party. Whether this is good or bad news for Labour is a matter of perception – yes, it’s only a small minority of Unite members, but it would be well over a hundred thousand new party members for Ed Miliband so I doubt it would upset him too much (in terms of finances for the Labour party, who knows, whose to say the affiliation fee wouldn’t be higher under the new regime to make up for lower numbers and, as others have pointed out, if the political funds themselves were still opt-out the money would still be there for Unions to donate if they wanted to).

Secondly, there is a new YouGov poll of Wales, carried out for Roger Scully’s new website Election in Wales. Voting intentions there are below (note the very sharp differences between how people say they’d cast their constituency and regional votes – the difference in Labour support in particular looks startling).

Westminster: CON 23%, LAB 48%, LDEM 8%, PLAID 9%, UKIP 8%
Welsh Assembly (constituency): CON 19%, LAB 46%, LDEM 8%, PLAID 17%, UKIP 6%
Welsh Assembly (regional): CON 12%, LAB 25%, LDEM 9%, PLAID 23%, UKIP 16%

Finally TNS BMRB have a voting intention poll out with topline figures of CON 28%(+1), LAB 38%(+2), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 16%(-3). There is clearly no obvious narrowing of the Labour lead here, though the drop in UKIP support is interesting. We’ve seen a decline in UKIP support amongst the telephone companies and YouGov who tend to show lower UKIP support anyway, but this is the first time the companies that tend to show higher UKIP support have shown them coming off the boil a tad.


The Sun politics team have tweeted out tonight’s YouGov poll already, the topline figures are CON 35%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 10%. This is the lowest Labour lead YouGov have shown for over a year, and the highest Conservative share since the end of the January. I’ll just give my normal caveat for any poll showing unusual figures – sure, it could be the start of a further narrowing of Labour’s lead, or it could just be normal variation within the margin of error. Don’t get overexcited unless it’s maintained in polls later this week.

The weekly Monday poll from Populus is out and has topline figures of CON 32%(+1), LAB 39%(nc), LDEM 12%(nc), UKIP 9%(-1). Changes are from last Friday and obviously show no significant change – Populus are planning to release a weekly poll on Mondays, and sometimes more. Full tabs are here.

While I’m here I missed some Ipsos MORI polling on attitudes towards trade unions at the end of last week. This is something that quite often comes up in discussion – we know, for example, that a proportion of people think that Ed Miliband is too close to the Unions, but are the Unions themselves any longer seen as some great threat as they might plausibly have been seen in the 70s or 80s?

Essentially, the answer is no. And while people still don’t approve of how closely linked to the Unions Labour is, it’s not such a widespread view as it once was.

The general principle of Trade Unionism still had widespread support – 78% of people agree that Trade Unions are essential to protect workers’ interests. Fears that trade unions have too much power and are controlled by extremists have declined greatly since the 70s and 80s – back then around three-quarters of people agreed that Trade Unions had too much power and two-thirds thought they were controlled by militants and extremists. Those same two questions now find only 35% think the Unions have too much power and only 23% think they are controlled by militants and extremists.

That’s not to say people are supportive of Labour’s links with the Unions, people agree by 53% to 28% that Labour should not be so closely linked to the Unions and 55% disagree that is good for Unions to have a role in selecting Labour’s candidates.

The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now online here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%, giving Labour a seven point lead that’s in line with YouGov’s recent averages.

The Labour party maintain their traditional lead on the issue of the NHS, they are trusted by 29% to the Conservatives’ 19%. Asked more specifically about issues of patient care and NHS finances, Labour also have a ten point lead on NHS patient care (31% to 21% for the Tories), but a slightly lower lead on ensuring the NHS has sound finances and is value for money (27% to the Conservatives on 23%).

47% of people think the NHS has got worse under the coalition, with only 12% thinking it has improved. People’s perception of what happened to the NHS under Labour is somewhat better, but still negative – 43% think it got worse, compared to 22% better. Asked about cover-ups 41% of people think the last Labour government probably did cover up failings at hospitals for political reasons, 31% think they probably did not. However the main blame for failings in the NHS not being discovered earlier is placed not upon politicians, but upon hospital management.

There were also a couple of questions on compulsory plain packaging for cigarettes, still supported by 58% of people with 26% opposed. Asked why they thought the coalition delayed their proposals to introduce plain packaging 25% think it was for the quoted reasons of wanting more evidence it would work, 60% think they have been leant upon by the tobacco companies (though as I normally say on questions like this, on Cameron on gay marriage and Miliband on Trade Unions, I think it generally reflects a cynicism towards politicians’ motives rather than anything issue specific). Only 18% think it is acceptable for Lynton Crosby to advise the Conservative at the same time as he works for other commercial clients.

A general warning here, which I’ve made before, is to be careful about confusing support/oppose in polls with salience. Most people don’t notice most political news stories, especially rather insidery ones about the workings of government (and the people who are most likely to notice will have the most fixed political views). So if you ask people if they think that the PM’s advisor should be working for other companies too people say no… but if you ask people who Lynton Crosby is only 11% know who he is, what he does and something about him. Ask people what news stories they noticed this week cigarette plain packages, Lynton Crosby and so on don’t even show up (suggesting they must have got below 1.5%). Doesn’t mean it can’t be an issue of course, that it won’t get noticed if it has legs and Labour can keep it going past the impending firewall of the royal baby (there are questions on that to in the poll if you can bring yourself to care), but that’s not necessarily an easy thing to do!

People will answer polling questions if asked (they’re helpful like that!)… but remember it doesn’t mean they necessarily had an opinion before the pollster forced them to have one, nor that they were even aware of the story.