Labour has cut the Tory lead in the polls to just 5% according to the latest YouGov poll for The Times. The LibDems are back to 10% after a small recent drop but are still failing to make inroads with their anti-Brexit stance.
The survey suggests that the gap between the two main parties is down to single figures for the first time since Theresa May called the snap election on 18 April. Labour has made steady gains in recent weeks.
It’s unclear if the Manchester suicide bombing has been a factor but the trend was emerging prior to the terror attack.
It has been a strange few days in an already strange election campaign. The latest polls suggest that we still can’t be certain of the outcome and there is no way of guessing what will happen in the next two weeks.
Only one in twenty voters now say they plan to vote UKIP according to the latest YouGov poll. If that’s right, their share has halved in the first week of the campaign and is down over 60% from the last election. Leader Paul Nuttall has been dodging questions about whether he intends to stand as an MP this time round.
It looks very much as if the former UKippers now intend to vote Conservative, as Theresa May’s party remains on track for a landslide victory. Just under half the electorate say the will vote for her party on June 8th.
With the main objective of UKIP being the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, it appears that post the Brexit vote they are a party without a purpose and with vanishing support.
The Opinion Polls are clearly off again given that two polls today give the Tories 40% (Survation) and 50% (ComRes) respectively, a difference of 10%. One thing however that we can be sure of is that the Conservatives have a big lead and that it has largely come at the expense of UKIP. The Independence party has been steadily polling in the mid to low teens up until now and even reached 19% in the run up to the referendum. It now appears to have lost its way with today’s ComRes polling giving Paul Nuttall’s party just 7%. Aware that interest in the party is draining a way the new leader has attempted to grab media attention with a ‘ban the burka’ policy.
The referendum result and Theresa May’s apparent commitment to a hard Brexit has shot the UKIP fox. Farage won’t stand again and even leader Paul Nuttall hasn’t committed to fighting for a seat. Last time round 13% of the vote wasn’t enough to win a single seat. Single digit support definitely won’t put a UKIP MP in the Commons.
At 11.05am today Prime Minister Theresa May announced that there will be an early UK General Election on Thursday June 8th. In a political speech which marked the start of the campaign , she criticised the other parties in the context of their stance on Brexit: “If we do not hold a general election now, their political game playing will continue” she said.
The election requires a motion in the House of Commons to be passed by a two thirds majority. That motion will be tabled tomorrow. The Labour Party alone could block the motion but May has clearly calculated that they won’t want to be accused of running scared. The current Tory lead over Labour stands at 18 points which if that was repeated in the vote would deliver a Tory landslide.
This general election campaign has been unlike any before it. The date was known almost four and a half years in advance. Before the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, passed in 2011, election campaigns lasted just a month.
The 2015 campaign kicked off in earnest when the Conservatives unvelied their first campaign poster on January 2nd, arguments about the TV debates started a couple of days later, so we are talking four months of solid electioneering. The longest election campaign in British history has made almost no difference at all to voter intentions.
Compare The YouGov poll at 100 days to go:
CON – 34%
LAB – 33%
UKIP – 14%
LDEM – 7%
GRN – 7%
with the TNS-BRMB poll, today the last day before the vote:
CON – 33%
LAB – 32%
UKIP – 14%
LDEM – 8%
GRN – 6%
Note a single party has changed their share by more than one per cent. Given that the polls have a 2-3% margin of error that’s no change at all.
At the start of the week Lord Ashcroft published his latest batch of polls, this time from Scotland. Perhaps the biggest shocker was the 29 point deficit to the SNP faced by LibDem Danny Alexander, in his seat in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.
Today it’s the LibDem leader’s turn. Lord Ashcroft announced today that it had come to light that the poll he had published for Sheffield Hallam included a mistake in the data. The corrected data means that rather than having a three-point lead Nick Clegg should have been three points behind Labour.
The problem is that this poll was done in November, so whether the data was right or wrong, it’s completely out of date. Lord Ashcroft is an erstwhile activist so as I posted earlier in the week there are good reasons for treating his announcements with caution. On the 27 November the day that Ashcroft first announced TNS BMRB put the LibDems on 6% of the national vote, Today a YouGov poll puts them on 9%.
In search of a headline however The Telegraph, The Independent and Channel Four News all carry the line that Nick Clegg is on course to lose his seat. Perhaps he is, it looks as though he was, but a November poll is no basis for a February headline.
Lord Ashcroft grabbed the headlines once again today when he unveiled his seat-by-seat polls in Scotland and added fuel to the speculation that the SNP will deliver a Labour rout in May. His polls are different because he looks at individual constituencies not the national picture.
The headlines today paint a joyous picture for the SNP and there is no doubt that they will do well. The Ashcroft poll suggests that they will win 50 of the
56 59 Scottish seats. Aggregate polls suggest that the number will be nearer forty. So are there reasons to doubt Ashcroft?
- He is a Tory peer and a lifelong supporter of the Conservatives who is estimated to have donated as much as £10m to the party. We might be forgiven thinking that he’s tempted to spin for them.
- In his three national polls this year the Conservatives are ahead in two (by 6 points in one) and level in the other. If you look at all the other polls over the same period it’s nine-four in Labour’s favour.
- His polls are snap shots at a specific point in time so can’t really be relied upon other than at the time they are published.
- He calls into question his own methodology. “Most of my constituency research is focused on marginal seats. But in post-referendum Scotland, the concept of a marginal seat is rather obsolete”.
- The UK General Election 2015 Blog thinks that there is a problem in the weighting of today’s results. Labour is ahead amongst over 65s in Scotland “The over 65s are going to be the most likely to vote it is accepted by everyone. Yet in Lord Ashcroft’s poll he weights the respondents down in his survey for the over 65s from 28% of his actual respondents to 18% of the actual figures used”.
One prediction on which it is difficult to cast doubt is that LibDem Danny Alexander, number two in the Treasury and member of the coalition’s gang of four ‘The Quad’, will lose his seat. According to Ashcroft he is behind in the Inverness seat he has held for a decade by 29 points. If even half-true, it’s an impossible hill to climb.