Archive for the 'Podcasts' Category


Polling Matters review of the week: Immigration, Blair and looking ahead to Copeland and Stoke

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Keiran Pedley reviews the events of last week and looks ahead to a big few days for Labour.

On this week’s podcast I was joined by Leo Barasi and Harry Carr of Sky Data. We looked at Trump’s approval ratings in their historic context, YouGov polling for Channel 4 on ‘fake news’ and our latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey. You can listen to the episode below or by clicking here.

Our Polling Matters survey this week was on immigration. Our aim with these surveys is to go beyond the soundbites and try to understand some of the issues that we know are important in more detail. With that in mind we put 9 statements related to immigration to a nationally representative sample and asked whether respondents agreed or disagreed with them.

Perceived impact on public services drives public immigration concern

A summary of the results can be found in the table below. Some findings will not surprise. The public is divided over whether immigration is good for the UK overall and there is consensus that immigration is currently too high (65%). That said, the public do recognise some of the pragmatic arguments for immigration and 65% agree that they want people that come to the UK to feel welcome.

Note: Opinium surveyed a representative sample of 2011 UK adults online between 10 and 14 Feb

However, by far the most striking finding in my opinion is that 68% agree that ‘immigration places too much pressure on public services like housing and the NHS’. For me, this finding represents the untold story of the Brexit vote last June. It is my view that the perception, right or wrong, that immigration places an unreasonable burden on public services is what turns a relatively niche right-wing issue into something to cuts through with the majority of the public. How political leaders address this perception in the future, particularly on the left, is going to be very important in how this debate is resolved in the years to come (if indeed it is resolved).

Blair: right message / wrong messenger?

Tony Blair was in the news this week arguing that the British people should ‘rise up’ to stop Brexit. His plea is likely to be ignored. A Polling Matters / Opinium survey last week showed that 49% of UK adults think Blair did a bad job as PM. Part of Blair’s problem, as Leo Barasi wrote on this site last week, is that his brand is toxic not only among Conservatives but Labour voters too. YouGov data backs this up, showing that some 74%(!) are unfavourable towards Blair overall (including 68% of current Labour voters).

Blair’s supporters will argue that the former PM has every right to intervene and that no one else is championing the pro Remain cause within Labour. Both of these things are true. The problem is that the public are more likely to be turned off than persuaded by Blair’s intervention (see below).  With 82% of Leave voters unfavourable toward Blair it doesn’t look like he is the right person to persuade Leave voters that they made the wrong decision last June.

Looking ahead: Corbyn to limp on?

This week sees the people of Copeland and Stoke go to the polls (well some of them anyway) and the pressure is on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to deliver. Rumours are swirling that even his allies in the Labour Party are pondering life beyond Jez.  However, his opponents are still plagued by the twin problems of the lack of an obvious successor and the burden of low expectations. Labour should be walking both by-elections at this point in the electoral cycle but with expectations so low holding either will feel like a win for Corbyn and holding both will strengthen his leadership further.  At least it will among Labour members.

If Labour does hold both seats, don’t be surprised if the story this time next weekend is Paul Nuttall rather than Jeremy Corbyn. This week’s Polling Matters / Opinium survey will be worth a look. We ask if Corbyn and Nuttall are the right or wrong people to lead their parties into the next General Election. We will be looking at the numbers by all voters, those definitely voting Labour and UKIP and those that will consider voting for each party. The difference between committed voters for each party and those on the fence ought to be very interesting.  Results will be published with next week’s podcast.

You can listen to the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast with Keiran, Leo Barasi and Head of Sky Data Harry Carr below:

Keiran Pedley

Keiran Pedley tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley


Trump’s approval ratings, fake news, leader ratings, and immigration – all in this week’s PB/Polling Matters Podcast

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast Keiran is joined by Leo Barasi and Harry Carr (Head of Sky Data) to discuss Donald Trump’s approval rating and latest controversies, YouGov polling on ‘Fake News’ and the latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey which this week takes a look at immigration (see image above) and the approval ratings of Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders including (topically) UKIP leader Paul Nuttall.

Our poll on immigration looks to take an in-depth view of public attitudes on the issue. Perhaps the most striking finding is that 68% think that ‘immigration places too much pressure on public services like housing and the NHS’. On this week’s podcast, Keiran argues that this perception is key to the Brexit vote last June and often the untold story when immigration is debated by politicians and pundits. Whether this perception is right or wrong it is clearly widely held.

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Tory governments age well in the memory. Labour governments turn sour.

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

No recent Prime Minister was popular as they left office. Each of the last five had net satisfaction scores – the proportion satisfied minus the proportion dissatisfied – below minus 20 points in their final month, according to MORI’s satisfaction data.

Thatcher was the most unpopular, with 71% dissatisfied with the job she was doing. The least unpopular was Gordon Brown, who still had the support of 35% before the 2010 election.

If the Scotsman’s relative popularity seems surprising, that’s because of what’s happened since his defeat. In the time after each Prime Minister left office, the collective memory of their effectiveness has been transformed.

This week’s Opinium poll for the PB / Polling Matters podcast found that Thatcher has gone from being the least popular recent Prime Minister, when she left office, to the most popular now.

Over the same time, Blair and Brown have fallen from being the Prime Ministers with the joint-highest satisfaction scores (along with Major) as they were leaving Downing Street, to being seen as the ones that did the worst job.

With Cameron moving up the ranking, the picture is clear – Tory governments are remembered increasingly well over time, while Labour governments become less popular.

The reason for this is Labour voters. While current Tory voters have views that you’d expect – overwhelmingly believing Tory Prime Ministers did a good job and thinking the opposite of Labour ones – Labour voters are more reluctant to support their party’s leaders.

Only one in three Labour voters thinks Blair did a good job (he’s more popular among Lib Dems) while even fewer think the same of Gordon Brown.

This ambivalence does Labour no good. Tory voters can draw on several examples of what they consider successful Tory Prime Ministers. If even the now-diminished ranks of Labour voters don’t believe that past Labour governments were much good, it’s hard to see who will resist the charge that Labour administrations always spend too much for too little benefit.

Labour supporters might come up with many reasons to justify their unease about Blair and Brown’s governments. But Tory voters have overcome their previous reservations about the woman who left office as the least popular Prime Minister in recent history. If Labour is to become an election-winning machine again, it will need to do the same for its own past leaders.

Leo Barasi


Leo Barasi writes about public opinion at Noise of the Crowd.  Leo is co-founder of the Polling Matters podcast. Listen to the latest episode on this polling, Article 50, and the German SPD surge below.


This week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast looks at Germany, Brexit, an Opinium poll on the PMs of the last 30 years, and Clive Lewis

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

In part one, Keiran speaks to German political commentator and elections expect Nina Schick, who explains what we should look out for in German politics, the SPD surge and what the German government wants from Brexit.

In part two, Keiran is joined by Leo Barasi to discuss the latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey looking at whether the PMs of the past 30 years did a good or bad job and how this compares to current perceptions of Theresa May. Who do current Tory voters favour and what do Labour voter perceptions of Blair and Brown say about the party now? Keiran and Leo also discuss Bercow’s Trump intervention this week and what’s next for Clive Lewis.

Finally, Keiran gives his immediate thoughts in the aftermath of parliament voting to invoke Article 50 and Clive Lewis deciding to resign from Labour’s front bench.

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The enthusiasm gap that spells doom for Corbyn and Labour

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Tory voters love May whereas Labour voters are lukewarm towards Corbyn and that’s bad news for Labour explains Keiran Pedley

On this week’s PB / Polling Matters podcast we unveiled some new data courtesy of Opinium. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with 6 statements related to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. By subtracting the number that disagreed with each statement from the number that agreed we could create a ‘net agree’ score for analysis purposes. The results made grim reading for Labour. May trounced Corbyn overall on a range of measures from strength, capability and electability and also being likeable and ‘in touch’ with people’s concerns too.

The above chart summarises these findings at an overall level and has been doing the rounds on social media this week. The sea of red for Corbyn is obviously not good. However, the really worrying numbers for Labour come when we look at the scores cut by Conservative and Labour voters. These are below.

Some of Theresa May’s numbers are astonishingly strong. The +86 score for ‘is a capable Prime Minister’ means that 88% of Conservative voters agree with this statement and just 2% disagree. In fact, when we look across the range of statements asked, the largest number of Conservatives you can get to disagree with one of these statements about May is the 5% that disagree that she ‘understands the concerns of people like me’.

In contrast, Corbyn’s numbers among Labour voters are much more varied. They generally like him, understand what he stands for and think he is in-touch (though not to the extent that Conservatives think these things of May). However, real doubts persist over his strength as a leader, capability as a Prime Minister and whether he can win a General Election. On the latter point, 32% agree and 35% disagree that Corbyn ‘has a good chance of leading Labour to victory at the next General Election’.

Labour is on the brink, so what happens now?

The upshot of these numbers is that whilst Conservatives are fully behind Theresa May, Labour voters lack confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. This is startling when we consider that Labour is languishing in the upper 20s in the polls and obviously needs to increase its support to avoid annihilation at the next election whenever it comes. It seems obvious, if it wasn’t already, that a change of leadership is needed. Whilst a new leader would not solve some of Labour’s more fundamental problems, it would at least give them a chance to solve them.

Could a change happen? It doesn’t seem likely any time soon. The PLP won’t risk challenging Corbyn again in a hurry. However, it is interesting that many on the left seem to be losing faith in Corbyn and drifting away from him. In private, many on the left support Clive Lewis taking over. In practice, manufacturing the circumstances where that happens is difficult. Corbyn’s opponents are better off waiting it out. Against my better judgement my hunch is Corbyn won’t lead Labour into the 2020 General Election but it will have to be his choice and that makes the timing of any change hard to predict.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran Pedley tweets about politics and polling at @Keiranpedley. Listen to the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast on the upcoming election in Northern Ireland, impact of Brexit on the province and the above poll below.


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: May trouncing Corbyn in the polls and why we shouldn’t take the Northern Ireland peace process for granted

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

This week’s podcast is split into two parts.

On the first part of the show, Keiran is joined by Nicholas Whyte to discuss the upcoming elections in Northern Ireland and the potential impact of Brexit on the province. Nicholas is an expert in politics and elections in Northern Ireland and a visiting professor at Ulster University and has a blunt warning for anyone that is complacent about the peace process there.

On the second half of the show, Keiran is joined by Leo Barasi to discuss the latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey looking at how the two main party leaders (Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn) are perceived. You can see the headline figures above. The survey poses 6 statements to respondents about the party leaders and asks whether they agree or disagree with them. The scores above indicate the ‘net agree’ score achieved, meaning the score you get when you subtract the percentage that disagree from the percentage that agree. Respondents were able to say ‘neither’ or ‘don’t know’ but those scores are not included in the net figure – which is standard practice in such surveys. The survey was conducted over the weekend – which it should be said was not a great one for May given the Trump headlines.


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This week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast looks at Theresa May’s speech and looks ahead to Trump’s inauguration

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

This week’s podcast is split into two parts.

In part one, Keiran is joined in the studio by Adam Drummond, Head of Political Polling at Opinium. Keiran and Adam discuss all things data in the aftermath of Theresa May’s big Brexit speech. They discuss the public’s reaction to May’s speech, attitudes to ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ Brexits (and why numbers are not always what they seem), immigration polling, May’s approval ratings and polling on the NHS. Keiran also explains why he does not think Labour’s polling ‘floor’ is as bad as others make out.

In part two, Keiran is joined on the phone by US political expert (and Polling Matters regular), Jon-Christopher Bua. Keiran and Jon-Christopher discuss Trump’s inauguration, what his transition says about the type of president he will be and what happens next once he takes the oath of office. Jon-Christopher also gives his perspective on the future of healthcare in the US and what a Trump foreign policy might mean for Europe. Finally, Keiran and Jon-Christopher discuss how history will judge Obama’s presidency.

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The PB/Polling Matters Podcast: Labour’s re-brand & why 2017 won’t be all plain sailing for Mrs. May

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

On the first PB/Polling Matters podcast of 2017 Keiran discusses the future of the Labour Party with the General Secretary of the Fabian Society Andrew Harrop. They discuss Corbyn’s recent rebrand as a left-wing populist and Labour’s mounting problems including Scotland, Brexit and the daunting electoral math faced in Westminster ahead of the presumed General Election in 2020 (and what to do about it). Keiran also takes us through some recent polling and explains why he thinks 2017 will be a tough year for Theresa May, regardless of the Labour Party.

Follow Keiran on twitter at @keiranpedley

You can read the Fabians report referenced in today’s podcast here