Archive for the 'Podcasts' Category


Opinium: Most of those polled say 2nd Scottish IndyRef ‘not justified’ but only one in three sure of a no vote if one happens

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

With Scottish Independence back on the agenda and Northern Ireland heading for crisis, Keiran Pedley argues that London is far too complacent about the future of the Union.

Following last week’s poll by Ipsos Mori showing an apparent spike in support for Scottish Independence and Jeremy Corbyn’s comments this weekend suggesting that he is ‘fine’ with a second referendum, it feels like a good time to unveil the latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey. Our latest survey focused on UK public opinion on Scottish Independence. It was conducted last weekend (3-7 March) but I held it back to now so as not to clash with the budget last week.

Our first question deals with whether or not another referendum would be justified in the context of the Brexit vote. As you can see, a majority say it would not.

  1. Do you think it is justified or not justified for Scotland to have another Independence referendum following Brexit?
Not justified – the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation” and has settled the issue for the foreseeable future and there should not be another referendum so soon after the last one.


Justified -in 2014 many Scots voted to stay in the UK so that they could also stay in the European Union. Brexit is a significant change in circumstances and Scots should be allowed to revisit the question in another referendum.


Don’t know 14%


Opposition to another referendum is strongest among Conservative voters (77%), Over 65s (74%) and Leave voters (70%). Basically Theresa May’s base. Interestingly, although among a small sample of n=170, Scottish respondents were split on the issue (46% justified, 48% not justified). This reflects a wider trend in other polls where Scots themselves do not seem to be clamouring for another vote. John Curtice explains here that typically just over a third of Scots currently tell pollsters they want another referendum.

Some will look at these numbers and think Unionists have nothing to worry about. I think this is mistaken. Nicola Sturgeon will face a lot of pressure to hold another vote and knows that she may never get more favourable conditions in which to hold one. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour is in disarray and the dynamics of what a ‘No’ campaign would look like in practice are very different to 2014. Granted Ruth Davidson is very popular north of the border but a second Independence referendum would likely be an SNP versus Tory affair. Davidson’s popularity aside I am uneasy about that. Especially considering the ‘don’t go it alone’ argument feels quite hollow in Brexit Britain.

My uneasiness seems to be shared by many Brits. When our survey asked respondents what they thought would happen if another referendum took place only 35% seemed confident Scotland would vote ‘no’. More thought they would vote ‘yes’ (40%) whilst one in four didn’t know (25%). Tory voters think Scotland would vote ‘no’ (55%) but Labour voters think they would vote ‘yes’ (57%).


  1. If there was another Scottish Independence referendum, do you think Scotland would vote…
Yes to independence 40%
No to independence 35%
Don’t know 25%


At this stage it is worth stressing that UK public opinion remains very committed to the Union. Respondents to our poll were more than twice as likely to say that they would prefer Scotland to vote ‘no’ (48%) than vote ‘yes’ (22%) in another referendum. There was no obvious demographic in support of a ‘yes’ vote either beyond (unsurprisingly) SNP voters.

  1. And what would be your preferred outcome?
I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘Yes’ to Independence 22%
I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘No’ to Independence 48%
No preference 23%
Don’t know 7%


UK public – Scottish Independence is unworkable and unnecessary

Our poll also asked whether respondents agreed or disagreed with a series of statements on the subject of Scottish Independence. Looking at the results, we see a clear consensus (67%) that it is ‘better for the UK as a whole if Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom’ whilst 49% disagree that Scotland would be better off financially outside the UK (just 15% agree). A majority (58%) think Scotland ‘gets more out of being in the UK than it puts in’ – a view strongly held by Conservative voters (84%) – whilst the public also think that ‘there is no need for Scottish Independence because Scotland already has its own parliament’ (50% agree, 18% disagree). British public opinion on the subject overall seems part commitment to the Union / part scepticism that Scottish Independence is necessary or viable.

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements related to Scottish Independence?
Statement Agree Disagree Neither
It would be better for the UK as a whole if Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom 67% 8% 25%
Scotland gets more out of being in the UK than it puts in 58% 11% 31%
There is no need for Scottish Independence because Scotland already has its own parliament 50% 18% 32%
Scotland would be financially better off outside the UK 15% 49% 36%


Of course, such scepticism is not particularly relevant to the question itself. It will be Scottish public opinion that decides. That’s why I am uneasy that Unionist confidence seems to rest on Theresa May’s refusal to allow another vote. The idea of London ‘forbidding’ Scotland another vote when the Scottish Parliament has a majority for one is dangerous.  If Nicola Sturgeon asks for one, May says no and then delivers a sub-par Brexit deal in the eyes of Scots then I expect the polls to turn in favour of Independence. Scottish Independence may not feel very likely right now but it is a lot more likely than London realises. The key question is whether Nicola Sturgeon will have the guts to call another referendum – and when.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland  

Finally a brief word on Northern Ireland. On this week’s podcast (see below) I spoke to Mick Fealty of Slugger O’Toole. The situation there feels very precarious with no obvious sign that a power-sharing deal will prove successful. We seem to be heading for a ‘double whammy’ of direct rule from Westminster and a Brexit that raises the prospect of a ‘hard border’ with the Republic. Fortunately, a return to the dark days of the 70s and 80s is unlikely but we must not be complacent about how quickly events can move in the wrong direction there. In any case, with Theresa May dominant in Westminster, it feels that London is far too relaxed about the situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yet a year from now things could be difficult indeed.


Keiran Pedley is the presented of the Polling Matters podcast and tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley.

Listen to the latest episode on Northern Ireland, Labour leadership polling and the budget below.

Note on the above poll: Opinium interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,006 UK adults online between the 3rd and 7th of March, 2017. Tables will be found at early next week.


The PB/Polling Matters podcast: Northern Ireland election fallout, LAB leadership polling, & budget reaction

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

1) Part one: Keiran speaks to Mick Fealty of about what we learned from last week’s elections in Northern Ireland, who the winners and losers were and what happens next…

2) Part two: Keiran discusses this week’s polling of Labour members conducted by YouGov on behalf of Ian Warren at Election Data. Keiran is joined by Laurence Janta-Lipinski and Emma Bean to discuss how vulnerable Corbyn is and who might lead Labour into 2020 if he stands down. The panel also discuss the budget and Laurence explains why budgets are never good for governments.

Follow today’s guests here:

Give your backing to the PB/Polling Matters podcast

Please vote for the show in the British Podcast Awards for ‘Listeners choice’. Just click here and search for ‘Polling Matters’ and click on the avatar with the graph (not the one by Frank Newport). Shortlisted shows get featured on The Guardian so it really helps grow our audience if we make the cut.


The PB/Polling Matters podcast: After the by-elections what next for LAB/Corbyn/UKIP plus a look at Northern Ireland

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

On this week’s podcast, Keiran is joined by Adam Drummond of Opinium and Matt Singh of Number Cruncher Politics.

The panel discuss the fallout from and historical significance of last week’s by-elections in Stoke and Copeland and what happens next for Labour and UKIP. Keiran introduces polling that shows the significance of Corbyn’s leadership in Labour’s situation as well as polling from YouGov on who might replace Corbyn as Labour leader should he be replaced.

Finally, Keiran and Adam unveil new Polling Matters / Opinium polling on what makes a good Prime Minister and Matt gives his impressions on what might happen after this week’s election in Northern Ireland.

Follow this week’s guests here:





POLL ALERT: Labour has a ‘Corbyn problem’ and it’s not going away

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Two-thirds of voters think he’s the wrong person to lead Labour into a General Election

A new Polling Matters / Opinium survey, taken before the Copeland and Stoke by-elections, shows that voters think Corbyn is the wrong person to lead Labour into a General Election, with those considering voting Labour more likely to do so if he is replaced. Keiran Pedley explains.

In the latest of a series of surveys for the Polling Matters podcast, Opinium asked three questions of a nationally representative sample of 2,019 UK adults. The survey asked if people would consider voting Labour, if Jeremy Corbyn was the right person to lead Labour into a General Election and what impact replacing him might have on their likelihood to vote Labour.

The results make clear that voters have made their minds up about Jeremy Corbyn and it isn’t good news for Labour if he plans on leading them into the next General Election.

Our first question asked whether people would consider voting Labour and the results were filtered by likely voters. Political parties will often ask questions like this in their private polling as they seek to understand how they can appeal to voters beyond those currently committed to supporting them. This question serves two purposes in our analysis. Firstly, it gives us an indication of what Labour’s ‘floor’ might be and secondly it enables us to cut our subsequent questions not just by Labour voters but by degrees of support too. (Incidentally, I appreciate the idea that Labour’s ‘floor’ is 25% will be subject to debate but it feels credible. However, that’s for another day).

Our second question asked whether a range of party leaders were the right people to lead their respective parties into a General Election. Before we get into the analysis a few housekeeping things here. The above numbers are a slight variation on a tweet I posted a few days ago related to the same question. That tweet related to the total sample of 2,019 whereas the above focuses on voters only. There is little significant difference in the numbers but I am focusing on voters only here for consistency in this post.

Returning to the numbers themselves they are clearly dreadful for Labour. Two-thirds of likely voters say that Jeremy Corbyn is the wrong person to lead Labour into a General Election. The numbers for Theresa May are almost the opposite with 61% saying that she is the right person (including some 91% of Conservative voters). Perhaps most worrying for Labour on Corbyn’s numbers is that only 9% of voters indicate that they ‘don’t know’. This suggests, unlike for Paul Nuttall and Tim Farron, that voters have made their mind up about Corbyn and they are not impressed.

So these numbers are pretty dire overall but it’s when we cut them further that things get interesting. Here is the same question broken out by Labour voters overall, those definitely voting Labour and those considering doing so regardless of their current voting intention.

These numbers neatly summarise Labour’s problem. Those committed to voting Labour are broadly supportive of Corbyn (though hardly universally so) whereas those that would otherwise consider voting Labour think he is the wrong man for the job. These numbers suggest that Corbyn is a drag on the Labour ticket and that Labour will struggle to grow its voter base from where it is with Corbyn at the helm. Meanwhile, those that would consider voting Labour think that Theresa May is the right person to lead the Conservatives into a General Election by 58% to 35%.

Our final question asks voters to consider the potential impact of Corbyn being replaced on their likelihood to vote Labour. This is never an exact science and should very much be treated as a hypothetical. We shouldn’t start trying to extrapolate what sort of poll boost Labour might get by replacing Corbyn. Several variables would be at play there, not least who actually replaces him.

Nevertheless, there are two important lessons we can learn here. One is that 55% of voters say that Corbyn being replaced would make no difference to whether or not they would vote Labour. To an extent this shows how much trouble Labour is in and backs up Corbyn supporters that say Labour’s problems are bigger than one man. However, the key lesson here is the second one.  Those that would consider voting Labour say that Corbyn being placed would make them more likely to vote Labour by approximately a 3:1 margin. 43% say it would make them more likely and just 37% say no difference. This suggests that there is a body of centre-left opinion in the UK that would look again at Labour under new leadership. It is possibly this finding, more than any other in this post, that Labour supporters should consider most carefully of all when thinking about the party’s future.

Conclusion: Corbyn isn’t Labour’s only problem, but he is a problem

In post Brexit Britain Labour’s problems are bigger than simply who leads the party. It needs to hold together an increasingly fractured electoral coalition whilst dramatically increasing its current levels of support, all versus a popular incumbent Prime Minister. However, following the loss of Copeland last Thursday, it is clear that the party is going in the wrong direction. It is losing support rather than gaining it. Labour is going backwards.

The above numbers clearly show that Jeremy Corbyn is part of the problem. Two-thirds of voters think he is the wrong man to lead Labour into a General Election. Whilst support for Corbyn among committed Labour voters is reasonable (if hardly spectacular) it is clear that he is a liability among those that need to be won over. ‘Labour considerers’ think he is the wrong person for the job and indicate that they would be more likely to vote Labour if he was replaced by quite a margin. The solution is obvious. Labour needs new leadership. Whether it will get it (and when) is anybody’s guess.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran is the presenter of the PB/Polling Matters podcast and tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley.

ICYMI Listen to the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast below where Keiran interviews Margaret Thatcher’s authorised biographer Charles Moore about her legacy, whether she would have voted for Brexit and how Theresa May compares.


This week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast: Looking at Mrs Thatcher & how LAB can re-engage with disaffected working class voters

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

This week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast is split into two parts:
In part one, Keiran is joined by the former Editor of the Sunday Telegraph, Daily Telegraph and Spectator Charles Moore. Charles is also the authorised biographer of former Conservative Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher and still writes columns for the Telegraph and Spectator today. He spoke to Keiran to give his perspective on the recent Polling Matters / Opinium survey that showed Thatcher as the most popular PM of the past thirty years. Why does her legacy surpass that of her successors in the eyes of voters? How does Theresa May compare? Would Thatcher have voted Brexit and what should we make of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon?
In part two, Keiran is joined by Phil Burton-Cartledge. Phil is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Derby and a Labour activist. He also runs the blog ‘All that is solid’. Phil joined Keiran to give his perspective on how Labour would do in today’s by-elections, what is coming up on the doorstep and how Labour can reengage with disaffected working class voters? He also gives a useful background on Stoke and some of the issues facing the city and the surrounding area.
Follow this week’s guests


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.

Follow this week’s guests below:



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.