Archive for January, 2011


Do the blues need to do more to de-toxify the brand?

Friday, January 28th, 2011


What do we think of the MORI leader/party “like/dislike” numbers?

One of Ipsos-MORI’s “hardy annuals” is this series of questions contrasting the like/dislike of the three main party leaders with voters views of their parties.

This is the first time since the general election and formation of the coalition government that these questions have been put and the summary of responses is featured above.

In terms of likeability Cameron comes out top with Clegg in second place and Miliband bottom. Maybe that will change over time as people get to know the latter better.

With the party figures the picture is reversed with more more liking Labour, the Lib Dems in second and the Tories third.

Ever since Cameron was election leader five years ago a key mission has been to “de-toxify” the brand and these findings suggest that there’s still work to be done.

Interestingly the Clegg-LDs like/dislike percentages come out the same.

Mike Smithson


Patrick asks: “Is the left leading a fight against reality?”

Friday, January 28th, 2011

A Guest Opinion Slot on today’s union calls for action

Much has been written about the scale and speed of public spending reductions announced by the chancellor. The political right is welcoming the move as unavoidable and long overdue move to address the dangers of having an enormous deficit and debt position. The left is warning of a double dip recession and civil unrest.

The overall trajectory of the advanced nations since the Second World War has been, until recent years, one of population growth, economic growth and rising living standards. This was achieved, to an extent we are only now coming to appreciate, with borrowed money. We have consumed more than we could afford at both the individual and government level and much of the apparent wealth has been illusory.

We live in a different world today. Multinational corporations have no national loyalties. Intelligent and hardworking people anywhere can communicate and travel and compete globally. Assumed inherent Western advantages may not be as inherent as were assumed.

The Western welfare states were constructed as pay-as-you-go ponzi schemes that deferred the day of reckoning for debt repayments to future generations. But that future is now here. Populations are not growing, the ponzi schemes are unwinding and governments are starting to accept that they cannot borrow as before. The party’s over for deficit funded welfare states.

The political implications are profound. Basically the left everywhere has lost the economic argument. Their approach to public finances has for decades been: ‘We must spend X as anything less is morally unacceptable, and every problem requires a government funded solution’ – and being scared of the necessary tax rises they borrowed. The new reality requires an approach along the lines of: ‘We will raise as tax what the economy can afford without damaging growth and spend no more than that’. In fact most countries need to run surpluses to pay down the overall debts.

In the UK, Labour and the unions and the students will lead the fight against reality. They may do well in the polls or indeed at the next election. But ultimately they are on a hiding to nothing, as the deficit spending economic model is dead. The state of public finances matters and the appetite of the debt markets is finite.

The UK will in future compete – or it won’t. Without a hugely reformed and sustainably affordable welfare state it won’t.

Patrick has been been commenting on PB for several years


YES still ahead in AV polls that ask the actual question

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Latest AV referendum polls Date YES % NO % Question wording
Angus Reid 25/01/11 35 (-2) 21 (+1) Actual wording on the ballot
YouGov/Sun 25/01/11 32 (nc) 41 (nc) Bespoke wording – referring to the fact that this is a proposal from the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition
ComRes/Indy on Sunday 14/01/11 36 30 Actual wording on the ballot
ICM/Guardian 19/12/10 44 38 Actual wording on the ballot

How close a battle is it going to be?

With YouGov’s latest daily poll for News International showing a share for the Lib Dems at barely half what ICM was reporting on Wednesday the battle of the AV polling goes on – and this is about an election that is just three months away assuming that the Labour Lords filibuster doesn’t delay it.

The pollsters that follow the widespread international polling practice with referendum surveys of using the precise wording that’s on the ballot are pointing to a YES outcome. YouGov seek to explain what AV is and remind people that this is a proposal from the Lib Dem – Conservative coalition and in recent months have consistently reported that NO is ahead.

In a way both approaches have merit. For a key part of what’s coming from the Labour opponents of change is to make this a referendum on the yellow tie up with the blues.

A big question is how the campaign itself – which reaches a critical stage during the build-up to the royal wedding – will influence the outcome. That’s very hard to call until we get a clearer idea of how both sides are handling it.

There’s also the question of how high a profile Ed Miliband wants to play on behalf of the YES camp. Labour voters are critical. Tory supporters, whatever the polling, tend to be against – Lib Dems supporters are mostly in favour. YouGov has Labour voters saying NO while the other pollsters have them saying YES.

Mike Smithson


My 1,000 pound wager offer to the Telegraph’s Ed West

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Telegraph blogs

Is UKIP the party it never happens for?

I’ve gone on Twitter this afternoon offering a £1000 wager to Telegraph blogger, Ed West, over his assertionsabout UKIP that it is “only a matter of time before they overtake the Lib Dems” in the polls. I’ve defined the bet as UKIP’s share exceeding that of the Lib Dems in any of the next 36 months, in the PAPA All Pollsters’ Average over that period – the calculation being based on the figures as we have them at the end of a month.

There could just be a fluke month at the time of the next EU elections in May/June 2014 – but that is beyond the three year period.

The great problem for UKIP is that they are rubbish at campaigning on the ground – as we saw yet again in the OES by election.

If ever there was an encounter when they should have been soaking up dissident Tories it was Old & Sad. The Tories weren’t interested and here was a chance to get a reasonable slab of the 26.45 share that the blues got last May. It was there for the taking and they flunked it.

The blues dropped more than half their vote yet UKIP could only scrape a miserable 1.9% onto what they’d got at the general election. Pathetic.

Remember their big hope at the general election. They were going to take out John Bercow in Buckingham and their most well-known figure, Nigel Farage, was candidate. None of the main parties entered the race and this should have been a heaven sent opportunity.

What happened? Farage came in a miserable third behind a pro-EU conservative. Oh the humiliation!

This wasn’t surprising given the approach of Farage to campaigning. His plan was to spend election day flying above the constituency in small plane pulling a banner. Sadly this ended in what could have been a serious accident – but what does the plan say about Farage’s approach to elections?

Mike Smithson


Angus Reid has CON 33: LAB 41: LD 12

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Poll Date CON % LAB % LD %
Angus Reid/Politicalbetting 25/01/11 33 41 12
Angus Reid/ 06/01/11 35 40 12
Angus Reid/ 20/12/10 35 41 9
Angus Reid/ 29/11/10 35 40 13
Angus Reid/ 28/10/10 35 37 15
Angus Reid/Sunday Express 01/10/10 35 38 16

More good polling news for Labour

There’s a new Angus Reid poll out as well and this shows the same broad trend that we’ve seen from other pollsters – the Tory share down a touch with Labour increasing.

Although the changes here are well within the margin of error, compared the firm’s last survey earlier in the month, the direction is clear. Labour is making progress at the expense of the Tories.

Unlike the other firm there’s no change in the Lib Dem total – although AR reported a three point jump earlier in the month.

A characteristic of the firm’s polling is that others are at quite a high level with UKIP buoyant and the Greens benefiting from the squeeze on the LD. The minor party split is UKIP 6, BNP 2, GRN 3: SNP/PC 3.

Unlike Ipsos-MORI the Angus Reid sample is past voted weighted according to what respondents did at the general election. The firm conducted a massive post-election survey of its panel last May and its the responses made then on how people said they actually voted which form the basis of its past vote weightings.

Mike Smithson


The Tories take a big hit with Ipsos-MORI

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Poll/Publication Date CON % LAB % LD %
Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 24/01/11 33 43 13
Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 12/12/10 38 39 11
Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 14/11/10 36 39 14
Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 17/10/10 39 36 14
Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 12/09/10 37 37 15
Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 25/07/10 40 38 14
Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 20/06/10 39 31 19

Labour move to a ten point lead

The Reuters/MORI poll for January is just out and shows a five point decline in the Tory share and a four point increase in Labour’s. The result is a gap between the two main parties of ten percent – the widest in any poll since the general election.

The Lib Dem recovery – seen in recent Angus Reid/YouGov/ICM surveys – has also been picked up by MORI providing some support for the view that the worst for the yellows is now behind them.

It should be noted that MORI operates differently from all the other pollsters. The firm does not apply any measure to ensure politically balanced samples and in its headline figures it only reports on those who are 100% certain to vote. The result is that it can be volatile.

Other findings in the survey, the leadership approvals ratings, are also not good for the Tories. Cameron is at his lowest level since the general election. But the Tory leader continues to be doing much better (79% saying satisfied) amongst his own supporters than Ed Miliband (59%) is amongst Labour ones.

There’s a lot more in the data that I will be covering later.

Mike Smithson


Does it matter that public school boys run Britain?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

What do we think of the Andrew Neil programme?

One of the big talking points today, I’m sure, will be last night’s hour long documentary on BBC2 presented by Andrew Neil – “Posh and Posher: Why Public School Boys Run Britain”.

As the programme blurb states “David Cameron and Nick Clegg seem made for each other: Eton and Oxford meets Westminster School and Cambridge. But does the return of public school boys to the top of our politics say something worrying about the decline of social mobility in Britain?”

Andrew Neil goes on a journey from the Scottish council house he grew up in to the corridors of power to ask if we will ever again see a prime minister emerge from an ordinary background like his.”

The trend is not confined to the Tories and the Lib Dems. Labour’s long years in the wilderness ended when the party chose the public school and Oxford educated Tony Blair who went on to win three general elections. It was said that Blair made the middle classes feel that it “was safe to vote Labour”. They ditched him in 2007 and we all know what happened to the party last year.

The new shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, is a former public school boy who went to Oxford and whose father taught for a time at Eton.

To me the real problem with our political classes is that so few of them come from a working class background – something that’s been accentuated by the departure of Alan Johnson from Labour’s front bench.

Twenty years ago, when Maggie Thatcher was ousted, it was said that no one from a public school, certainly not Eton, would ever lead the Tory party again. It was his Etonian background that is said to have put the mockers on Douglas Hurd’s leadership bid and they chose John Major. Cameron confounded all of that with his 2005 leadership victory.

The question is does it all matter? I’m not convinced.

Mike Smithson


The coalition starts to lose ground in the “cuts blame game”?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Which is most to blame for the cuts? (YouGov) CON-LD coalition Last Labour government Both of them Neither
25/01/11 26 40 24 5
10/01/11 22 40 25 8
11/12/10 23 41 24 7
15/11/10 22 43 23 7
07/10/10 17 47 20 10
20/09/10 21 44 22 7
06/09/10 22 45 20 6
31/08/10 23 45 20 6
16/08/10 22 45 21 6
02/08/10 22 45 20 6
19/07/10 21 48 19 7
05/07/10 21 44 21 8
23/06/10 18 49 18 9

Could this be put down to Ed Balls?

One of the regular polls that I watch carefully is the fortnightly YouGov “Who’s to blame for the cuts?” series. This is one of those non-voting intention sets of numbers that I believe could be as good, or even better guide, to the general election outcome than the standard VI headline figures.

As can be seen the latest figures show quite an increase, from 22% to 26%, in those blaming the coalition. This is the highest level its been at and the gap is only 14 points.

These numbers are politically important because given the pain that is about to be inflicted on voters the more that “the last lot” can be blamed the better it is for the current government parties.

I reproduce the series from last June in order to put the latest figures in context.

The polling for the latest numbers took place on Monday evening and on Tuesday.

Mike Smithson