A look back at the polls: July

by Stephen Tall on August 1, 2008

We tend not to be too poll-obsessed here at LDV – of course we look at them, as do all other politico-geeks, but viewed in isolation no one poll will tell you very much beyond what you want to read into it. Looked at over a reasonable time-span and, if there are enough polls, you can see some trends.

Here, in chronological order, are the results of the eight polls published in July:

Tories 41%, Labour 28%, Lib Dems 19% – Populus/Times (8th July)
Tories 47%, Labour 25%, Lib Dems 16% – YouGov/Sunday Times (13th July)
Tories 45%, Labour 24%, Lib Dems 16% – ComRes/Independent (20th July)
Tories 43%, Labour 28%, Lib Dems 19% – ICM/Guardian (22nd July)
Tories 47%, Labour 27%, Lib Dems 15% – MORI, unpublished (23rd July)
Tories 46%, Labour 24%, Lib Dems 18% – ComRes/Independent (26th July)
Tories 45%, Labour 26%, Lib Dems 17% – YouGov/Telegraph (28th July)
Tories 43%, Labour 27%, Lib Dems 18% – Populus/Times (29th July)

Which gives us an average rating for the parties in July as follows, compared with June’s averages:

Tories 45% (n/c), Labour 26% (n/c), Lib Dems 17% (-1%)

The pattern is a well-established one: the Tories in the mid-40s%, Labour in the mid-20s%, and the Lib Dems in the high-teens%. That the Tories have opened up a pretty consistent c.20% lead in the polls for the past three months is, of course, the reason for Gordon Brown’s current problems. The question is: will a new Labour leader make any difference to the party’s polling woes?

There will doubtless be many hypothetical polls in the next few days asking if Labour will do better or worse if Miliband/Johnson/Harman et al were to be leader. I have an instinctive mistrust of the value of such polls. It is how whoever succeeds Mr Brown does the job which will determine Labour’s popularity – and I don’t think any one of us quite knows that yet.

If and when Mr Brown is forced to resign (and the parallels between what’s happening to Mr Brown with what happened to Ming Campbell suggest to me it’s when) British politics will once again be turned on its head. There will have been no modern parallel of a governing party having three leaders within the course of a single Parliament.

Will the voters punish Labour for seeming to be navel-gazing at a time when the nation is experiencing economic distress? Or will they reward a party which demonstrates a certain ruthless efficiency in ridding itself of an unpopular Premier?

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These figures are the same as the Conservative Home rolig pollof olls ave for the fac they go to decimal points. If no one else does I’ll set up a Forum topic on this to allow more detailed discusion. However to briefly look at the glass half full/half empty.

1. the partys rating seems fairly stable though with clear signs of the post election cooling you often get in summer after the May focus blitz and RoPA equal air time fades. Given the turbulence we are having politically it suggets there is a core vote out there. Of course these figures would look very healthy for the mid term of the 92/97, 97/01 parliaments. Its the High of Iraq that makes them look a little cool.

2. If the glass is half empty then they are flat linning. 17% is only one pint higher than the Decemeber score which was the climax of the leadership campaign and result with all the extra publicity that that brought. Consider the headline figures with the 2005 vote shares. Lab – 11 LD – 6 Con + 12.

The last 7 months have seen the almost complete disintergration of the government and there is zero headline
figure benefit to the LD’s.

The trend is confirmed by August kicking off today with You Govs Con 47 Lab 25 LD 16

by David Morton on August 1, 2008 at 1:53 pm. Reply #

I mst say I’m disappointed by our lack of progress in the polls. I also find the present YouGov poll somewhat disturbing. Not just the C47-L25-LD16 figures but also those concerning other potential leaders. Much has been made of the figures showing that if Ed Balls were Labour leader we’d overtake them but the actual figures are C50-L17-LD18. Labour support drops by 8 percentage points but we only pick up two.

I’ve heard various people say “surely if Labour keep haemorrhaging support we’re bound to be the recipients sooner or later” These figures suggest that this isn’t necessarily the case.

by Painfully Liberal on August 1, 2008 at 2:42 pm. Reply #

Painfully Liberal,

I’ve also heard people expressing views similar to those quoted in your last para and that, I suspect, is a big part of the problem. Some seem to see politics as a sort of Buggins’ turn with us due to get a go soon. Well it ain’t so!

Britain needs this Buggins’ turn mindset like a hole in the head. We need a Govt could actually run things competently and that means among other things being proactive and go-getting.

That the Party has been consistently unable to do this suggests a problem with its organization or culture. The policy-making process is one obvious suspect that has mainly delivered camels. (Camel: a horse designed by a committee). However, I don’t think it’s the only issue.

by Gordon on August 1, 2008 at 5:14 pm. Reply #

Painfully Liberal
My take is that Labour has given people something they are eager to vote against. We only get the benefit of that where we are the alternative to Labour.

Gordon
I agree that electors want to vote for a party that looks like being competent. In my 50+ years of being a Lib, then a LibDem, we have rarely looked competent and coherent at national level. What encourages me is that we are now more than beginning to. Vince Cable and our economic team are registering (accurately in my view) as a good deal more on the ball and coherent than either Darling-Brown or Osborne and Co. The image of our green policies as consistent, realistic and for real has begun to come accross just as the other parties greenery fades and sheds leaves. It is getting accross that Tory and Labour approaches to localism are rather poor copies of a LibDem original. Every time constitutional issues come up, the relative cohence and consistency of our position gets noticed.Even in the fog and smoke of the scares and initiatves on crime and justice, Chris Huhne and his team are getting accross as talking more sense than the others. And so on.

Nick Clegg’s policy speeches – and “Making It Happen” – are building on and consolidating this image of competence, clarity and purpose. A lot can go wrong before an election, and politics being what it is, we can confidently expect something to come adrift. But I have the unfamiliar impression that our party leadership is prepared for that.

As for the polls, the only one’s where we really need to make progress are the last one’s before a national election. What we are doing now is laying a basis for that. Even so, I shall be disappointed if we are not touching 20% around January-February next.

by David Heigham on August 1, 2008 at 6:24 pm. Reply #

“Every time constitutional issues come up, the relative cohence and consistency of our position gets noticed.”

?!??

I assume you were out of the country at the time of the Lisbon Treaty debacle!

by Anonymous on August 1, 2008 at 7:29 pm. Reply #

The 1% dip is probably a consequence of the media ignoring us. That is a bad thing, but also a good thing in that our mistakes are ignored as well as the positive stuff. By this token, minimal publicity was given to Julia Goldsworthy undoing our human rights credentials, and nothing much was said about Nick Clegg pulling the party well to the right on taxation. The only piece of negativity that has been front page news is the Michael Brown arrest warrant (yawn).

As the election draws near, the heat will turn on Cameron, and people will start to think of reasons for voting other than hurting Mr Miseryguts and his failing government. What we need to do right now is ensure that once the picture changes, our policies and principles are in a fit state to be presented to the electorate.

If we really are the party of human freedom, then why have we been totally silent on the government’s likely proposals to introduce martial law for under 18s and to raise the legal drinking age to 21, and why has Nick Clegg not been defending Gary McKinnon? Our leaders (and LDV too) have maintained a deafening quiet on all three issues. Why?

by Sesenco on August 1, 2008 at 9:26 pm. Reply #

Sesenco,

Do you not feel “martial law for under 18s” might be just a TINY bit over the top?

by crewegwyn on August 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm. Reply #

I’m not surprised by the difference compared to 2005 (LD down 6, Tories up loads).

If you take a look at http://politicalfundingwatch.blogspot.com, you’ll only scratch the surface on the funding situation.

During a general election, the media has to show balance, but outside of it, they’re far more vulnerable to the high finance PR of Lab and the Tories.

The good news today is that it looks like the government will try to close the “Ashworth loophole” that they seem to have stupidly introduced in the 2000 act (again, see above site for links).

Other than that… I’m off to Climate Camp… where we should all be!

by Neale Upstone on August 1, 2008 at 10:56 pm. Reply #

Crewgwyn wrote:

“Sesenco,

Do you not feel “martial law for under 18s” might be just a TINY bit over the top?”

No. I feel it is a tiny bit UNDER the top. Take off the blinkers, Crewegwyn.

by Sesenco on August 1, 2008 at 10:57 pm. Reply #

Why should we all be at Climate Camp ?

I have no intention of wasting my time with hollow gestures.

by Spanny Thomas on August 2, 2008 at 11:01 am. Reply #

http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/index.htm

by Mouse on August 4, 2008 at 8:36 am. Reply #

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