Conservative Diary

Opinion polls

18 May 2013 21:25:03

UKIP surges to a record 20% in an opinion poll as Cameron languishes

By Andrew Gimson
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UKIP has reached its highest level ever in an opinion poll: 20% in the Opinium/Observer poll. A ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror has UKIP on 19%, while ICM in the Sunday Telegraph puts the party on 15%.

The three established parties are all in the doldrums. Taking the three polls in the same order as I have used for UKIP, Labour is at 37%, 35% and 32%; the Conservatives at 27%, 29% and 29%; while the Lib Dems find themselves on 7%, 8% and 16%.

This is a bad time for the Tories to be preoccupied by the question of whether someone in the high command has referred to the party's footsoldiers as "swivel-eyed loons". Nor can Labour feel happy to be recording such modest leads over the Conservatives as 10%, 6% and a mere 3%.

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17 May 2013 07:50:24

When it comes to Europe 17% of voters think Cameron is driven by beliefs but 64% think he's driven by tactical calculations

Tim Montgomerie
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There's an interesting YouGov poll in today's Times (£). We know what most voters think of Europe. They want it changed back to something more like a free trade area. We know what voters think of a referendum. They want to have one. But do voters think the politicians are genuine about the European and referenda policies that they hold? YouGov asked voters whether they thought politicians were holding their European policy positions because "they feel strongly about the issue" or "mainly because they are making a tactical calculation about what to say". The results are telling...

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  • 55% of voters thought Nigel Farage was genuine and only 22% thought he was tactical.
  • 43% thought people like Ken Clarke took the position they did because of strongly held views and only 32% thought they did so for tactical reasons.
  • But when it came to David Cameron only 17% thought he felt strongly about the issue and 64% thought his European position was simply a tactical calculation.
  • Ed Miliband's numbers were slightly better than Cameron's but not much. 20% thought the Labour leader felt strongly about the issue but 52% thought he was largely motivated by tactical considerations.

Continue reading "When it comes to Europe 17% of voters think Cameron is driven by beliefs but 64% think he's driven by tactical calculations" »

14 Apr 2013 14:00:45

The media are taking Ukip more and more seriously – how will the Tory leadership respond?

By Peter Hoskin
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FarageOnce upon a time, only a small gaggle of commentators – including the Express’s Patrick O’Flynn – gave Ukip much thought. That, of course, has changed over recent months, and it seems to have developed even further during the past week. On Friday, my old boss Fraser Nelson devoted his Telegraph column to Nigel Farage and how he’s “extending his message beyond Brussels-bashing”. And today the Sun on Sunday contains an editorial about the same man that is noteworthy in its effusiveness.

“Nigel Farage talks nothing but common sense,” starts the Sun’s leader, before continuing, “It’s hard to argue when he trashes David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, three supposed ‘leaders’ who spend their days being buffeted around by feedback from focus groups.” But, however that sounds, the piece doesn’t end up as a full endorsement of Ukip. It concludes by suggesting that, to win the next election, Mr Cameron should work up a pact with Mr Farage: “Because unless those two can strike a deal, Ed Miliband could wake up in Downing Street on May 8, 2015.”

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8 Apr 2013 08:21:54

IDS and Osborne complain that the BBC isn't representing the majority view on welfare

By Tim Montgomerie
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The graph above comes from YouGov's Joe Twyman. It shows how supporters of ALL three parties agree that the benefit system needs "some significant" or "major" reforms. Overall, 70% of voters want changes. Five other YouGov findings (PDF) included:

  1. 63% thought the benefit system wasn't strict enough and is open to abuse and fraud - just 22% disagreed;
  2. 78% thought the £26,000 benefits cap was fair - just 10% thought it was unfair;
  3. 59% supported the 1% cap on benefits uprating - 28% did not;
  4. 78% thought there are at least a minority of cases who are abusing the benefits system;
  5. 61% thought child benefit should be limited to two children - 29% did not.

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25 Mar 2013 12:12:13

A step closer to English votes on English laws?

By Peter Hoskin
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Amid all the bother about immigration and Boris and Cyprus, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the report being released by the McKay Commission today. This independent commission was set up last year, with Government backing, to look into the question of…

“How the House of Commons might deal with legislation which affects only part of the United Kingdom, following the devolution of certain legislative powers to the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales.”

…and it appears to have reached some significant conclusions about – and for – England. Among them is a recommendation that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs have their influence over English laws curtailed. The report will say that this can be done in a number of ways, including separate votes on legislative clauses that relate only to England.

The Cabinet Office assures us that it will reply to the Commission’s proposals in due course. Here’s hoping it doesn’t dismiss them out of hand. As the best report on this subject – the IPPR’s The dog that finally barked: England as an emerging political community – has already shown, English disgruntlement has spread alongside devolution. One poll in that report found that 34 per cent of English people want a settlement much like that one the McKay Commission will recommend, against 24 per cent who prefer the status quo and 20 per cent who would prefer a straight-up English Parliament. This sentiment could well intensify as the vote on Scottish independence nears.

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17 Mar 2013 08:57:06

UKplc is flatlining but Labour has no lead on economic competence. What will happen if there's a modest economic recovery?

By Tim Montgomerie
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On first reading the latest YouGov poll for The Sunday Times makes grim reading for the Chancellor (see this PDF). Only 17% think he's doing a good job, 67% think he's doing a bad job. Overall 30% think the Coalition is managing the economy well but 61% think it is managing it badly. 11% think their financial situation may get better over the next 12 months - 52% expect it to get worse.

Some of the other numbers are much more encouraging, however. 57% believe that spending should be cut more or cuts should be maintained at their current pace. Only 25% want slower spending cuts.

43% already believe that the Chancellor's economic strategy is working or expect it to work. 45% say it's not working and it's unlikely to work. Given the constant gloom from the BBC and written media about the Chancellor's performance those numbers will encourage Number 11. My strong belief - and, much more importantly, the almost universal expectation of forecasters - is that growth will pick up over the final two years of the parliament. The UK is not set to roar ahead but it is Lord Lawson's belief - set out on Radio 4 yesterday - that even modest progress will be enough to persuade voters that the pain has not been without purpose or benefit.

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16 Mar 2013 20:10:39

Ukip on 17% in latest ComRes poll – Tories on 28%

By Peter Hoskin
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Another poll to enflame Conservative concerns about a split vote on the right: tomorrow’s ComRes survey for the Independent on Sunday has Ukip on 17 per cent, which happens to equal the highest level of support they’ve recorded with any pollster.

The Tories are on 28 per cent, with Labour on 37. That means that, by ComRes’s numbers at least, the gap between the Tories and Labour is only two percentage points narrower than the gap between Ukip and the Tories. Shudder.

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12 Mar 2013 08:26:09

The Guardian discovers that "right-wing" views on Europe and immigration are quite popular

By Tim Montgomerie
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On a whole range of issues - including immigration - very few voters hold 'centrist' positions

On Saturday at the Victory 2015 Conference Stephan Shakespeare of YouGov published fascinating polling that disproved the nonsense idea that most voters inhabit a mythical centre ground. The reality is that voters have strong views on most subjects - strongly opposed, for example, to NHS privatisation and more immigration but very supportive of repatriation of powers from Europe and making the rich pay more into the national coffers.

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11 Mar 2013 08:19:21

Four headline conclusions from Saturday's Victory 2015 Conference

By Tim Montgomerie
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On Saturday ConservativeHome held our Victory 2015 Conference - on how we might win the next General Election. Lord Ashcroft has already written his review of the day and here are a few headline conclusions from me:

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There is an appetite for serious politics. Saturday was quite heavy. There were some detailed polling presentations, a serious philosophical speech from the Home Secretary and some very thoughtful workshops on how the party might reach out to key demographic groups. And from all of the feedback I received people really enjoyed it. Again and again people said that this was what a political conference should be like. There'll be more events like it from ConHome in the future. My biggest regret was that we booked such a small venue. We'd sold out after about three weeks and had barely promoted the event. We could quite easily have sold two or three times as many tickets. Perhaps, one day in the not too distant future, ConHome will have one thousand people at such conferences.

The next election is going to be very hard to win. Even before the Conference started only 7% of Tory members expected Cameron to win a majority. That was before Lord Ashcroft had published his survey of 19,000 voters in marginal seats. The good news from his mega poll was that the Tories are doing better in the marginals than in the country as a whole. The survey also found that, despite Eastleigh, the Tories could hope to win 17 seats from the Liberal Democrats. Overall, however, unless the outlook improves (and Trevor Kavanagh is sure that it must) Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister with a large Labour majority.

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9 Mar 2013 12:37:45

“There is no left and right – except in political imagination”

By Peter Hoskin
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That quote above? It was uttered by Stephan Shakespeare in his presentation to ConservativeHome’s Victory 2015 conference. Stephan revealed some new YouGov polling which shows that most people think that, overall, they sit in the political centre. That’s hardly surprising. But when he polled people on individual policies the results were considerably more striking. Here, for example, is how people responded to a question about NHS privatisation (click for a larger version):

Image 1

But here is how they responded on immigration:

Image 2

Which is to say, most voters are what we’d normally call “left-wing” on NHS policy, and “right-wing” on immigration. And there are plenty of other examples of this bi-polarity. Indeed, Stephan said that one of the few policy areas where the traditional bell curve applies – where people congregating around the centre – is tax:

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