Archive for April, 2014


YouGov finds that a remarkable 45% of the over 60s say they’ll be voting Ukip in the Euros

Monday, April 28th, 2014

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Probably the most remarkable feature from the latest YouGov Euros poll is the split amongst the 60+ age group – featured in the chart above. As can be seen some 45% of those who expressed a voting intention said UKIP.

We’ve always known that the purples have a greater appeal as you move up the age scale but this split took me by surprise.

It looks as though there is something special about the Euros. For only 20% of this same subset said they would choose UKIP when asked who they’d been voting for at the general election,

This is one poll and there are the usual caveats about sub-sets – though this segment represented 525 people.

The oldies are, as is well known, much more likely to turn out to vote. In this poll 58% said they were 10/10 certain to vote compared with 46% for the sample as a whole.

Let’s see if other Euro polls show the same trend.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


The minor parties – A quiet consolidation?

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Election analysis by Corporeal

The long term trend through the seven European parliament elections we’ve had since 1979 is the growth of minor parties. Even with the rise of UKIP the level of dominance of the vote share by the parties in the top two, three, or four positions is in long term decline.

Or at least it has been, the most recent opinion poll ratings suggest that this trend will be broken with a sharp jump upwards (I’ve used the most recent ICM poll, but the figures are similar in polls from other companies and have been quite consistent for some time now).

We have an unusual wealth of polling for this particular European election cycle, for the 2009 elections the first poll was conducted on the 8th of January 2009, with regular polling beginning a month before polling day. For the 2014 elections the first poll was on the 5th of January 2013, a full year further out, and the regular polling has also started much earlier. This increase is an early sign of how much the profile of the European elections has risen, amongst the poll commissioning classes at least. I have also looked for polling done in the run-up to the 2004 election and struggled to find more than a couple (it is entirely possible I have missed some polls, but I think the level of difference is sufficient to demonstrate the point).

So what we have is two separate sets of polling, the near election polling of 2009 and the further out polls of 2014. Here I’ve dated each poll by the last day of their fieldwork and the number of days between that and the election date in order to overlay them. I’ve used the aggregate polling for the parties in 5th place and lower, but the numbers for 4th and lower, or 3rd and lower show very similar trends (day 0 is the actual election result).

The dull and sensible answer is we lack the comparative data to say whether 2014 will see a repeat in the rise of the minor parties, but it is at least something to consider. If we don’t see a rise by election day then it will be a decades-long trend being bucked and a possible reversal of the vote fragmentation that’s been happening.

I’ve tried and failed to find any betting markets implicated by this, so I can only offer it as an interesting talking point for use when chatting with friends and family about the European elections (use at your own risk).


Topping the polls 2-4 weeks out is not always a guarantee of success – just ask Nick Clegg

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

This YouGov poll from April 20 2010


Suddenly a by-election possibility in CON-held Newark comes into the frame. A chance for UKIP or LAB gain?

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

After a spate of boring LAB heartland contests this could be mega

The Sunday Times is reporting this morning that the CON MP for Newark, Patrick Mercer could be on the point of quitting which would force a by-election over a cash for questions scandal.

    The story states that “the Commons standards committee will meet on Tuesday to ban him from parliament for six months. The MP for Newark, a winnable seat for UKIP, has told friends that if he is suspended for more than a month he will have to stand down.”

One thing we’ve commented on many times is the rarity of by-elections in CON held seats. There’s only been one in this parliament – Corby in 2012 caused by the resignation of Louise Mensch, a seat that was lost to LAB.

Now, with UKIP surging and threatening a breakthrough on May 22nd the East Midlands town could be the ideal platform for the purples to get the prize that has so far eluded them – a Westminster seat.

The chart above has the core data about the seat which on the face of it looks pretty safe. But back in Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide it was taken by LAB on slightly different boundaries. There are a lot of 2010 LD voters to squeeze and Labour would compete hard in what would be a fierce three party battle.

A big question could be timing. The last thing the Tories would want is to have to defend the seat in the aftermath of the May 22nd elections.

Remember the CON record of defending by-elections while in office is pretty appalling.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


UKIP move into the lead for first time in YouGov Euros poll

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

LAB-2, 28,
UKIP+4, 31
CON-3, 19
LD-1, 9
OTH+2, 13


Tonight’s Opinium online poll for the Observer sees the gap getting closer.

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

LAB 34-2: CON 32+2: LD7=: UKIP 18=

After yesterday’s Populus poll which had both CON and LAB on 35% each the latest online poll from Opinium for the Observer sees a change from a 6% lead to a 2% one in the past fortnight.

This is all within the standard margin of error and the usual caveats apply.

Opinium is unusual in that it is the only online pollster that doesn’t past vote weight or use some other mechanism to ensure a politically balanced sample. It has tended to show UKIP at higher levels than most other firms.

There is no Euro Election poll which is a great shame – because that is less than four weeks away. The general election is a year off.

    Given the high level of media attention that UKIP has been enjoying because of the Euros I’d have expected this to be reflected in this survey. It isn’t The 18% share is the same as it was two weeks ago.

Nigel Farage, however, is the only one of the four leaders not to have negative approval ratings in the poll. His approval and disapproval figures are the same, Cameron is a net minus 8%, Miliband minus 22%, and Clegg at a net minus 42%.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The House of Lords: UKIP’s backdoor into Westminster

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

GE2015 could mark the end of peerage pensions for the Lib Dems

If the Commons was once considered “The best Club in London” then the Lords must these days be the best retirement home.  The nature of the role is such that working peerages tend to be awarded to those whose first career has either ended entirely or is at least winding down – so allowing them the time to work in the Upper House, as well as having provided the evidence to justify the award.  Add in that awards are for life and inevitably, they’re an aged bunch: a study two years ago revealed that more peers were over eighty years old than were under sixty.

One group that does particularly well for peerages is ex-MPs.  Former cabinet ministers are almost guaranteed a peerage, for example.  That’s understandable – they know the Westminster system and are reliable nominations as working peers without allegations of deals or shady rewards – though it might not do too much for diversity or introducing new thinking.

However, one group that doesn’t do at all well is supporters of minor parties: the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour parties enjoy the support of 95% of peers aligned to a party (and most of the rest were nominated by one of the same three parties before the peer resigned their whip, defected or were booted out of their party). 

    That runs in conflict to the Coalition Agreement, which said that “in the interim [before reform of the Lords is passed], Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election”.

The suggestion from the Agreement is that the principle applies to all parties; the appointments in practice suggest otherwise.  If peers for minor parties had been created in line with the 2010 vote shares, there’d now be about 18 UKIP peers rather than three (all of which were defections), 11 for the BNP, five Greens rather than one, and an English Democrat.  We might accept the exclusion of flash-in-the-pan parties, of those with very limited support or of those extreme views where it would be inappropriate grant full-life honours but UKIP doesn’t fall into any of those categories (nor do the Greens).

Instead of looking back to 2010, a more intriguing question arises looking forward past 2015.  While the Coalition Agreement was only designed for one parliamentary term and is far from a constitutional principle, if UKIP were to poll at anything like current levels, it would be far harder to justify their continued exclusion from the Lords – even more so if they outpoll the Lib Dems into third.  For example, were they to realise their current 12%, that would imply an entitlement to around seventy peers: a block that would have a transformative effect on the upper House.

The flip side is that the Lib Dems would be significantly over-represented if they can’t improve on the 10% they’ve been stuck on for over three years.  That equates to around sixty members of the Lords, rather than the hundred or so they have now.  Put another way, the retiring or defeated Lib Dem MPs next year might find it a lot harder to come by a peerage pension than their predecessors from earlier elections.

Would it happen?  I’m highly sceptical.  The Westminster parties have a vested interest in protecting the limited membership of their club and would no doubt claim that the Agreement was only ever meant to apply to parties with significant representation in the Commons, or that the principle it espouses isn’t a convention, or whatever other justification happens to fit the end result desired.  And if there is some similar statement in another Agreement, you can bet it’ll be more tightly worded next time.

David Herdson


The May 22nd Euro Elections look set to be a good test for internet polling against traditional phone surveys

Friday, April 25th, 2014 » Blog Archive » The May 22nd Euro Elections look set to be a good test for internet polling against  (1)

Which firm/form of polling will get its closest?

Of the 2014 polls the only ones not to be carried out online are the two from ICM which has been showing a very different picture – notably UKIP has been third in each case. TNS-BMRB operates a sort of hybrid system – interviewers hand over a computer for the interviewee to fill in.

There have long been complaints from purple backers about the way the phone polls seem to mark them down. May 22nd will be a good test of whether they are right.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble