Prepare for even more polls

YouGov launches daily tracker as poll puts Labour 9 points behind the Tories.

Get ready for the political weather to become even more determined by polls. YouGov has launched its daily tracker in the Sun, with polls initially published from Tuesday to Friday. This will rise to seven days a week for the final four weeks before polling day.

You may remember that YouGov experimented with a tracker during conference season last year. What was remarkable then was how much the polls fluctuated from day to day. For instance, following George Osborne's austere speech, the Tories' lead fell from 14 points to 9 points.

In an effort to remedy what's known as "early responder" bias, the polling firm has changed its methodology to ensure that it gets a more representative sample. PoliticalBetting's Mike Smithson reports that the polls will now consist of reponses received that day, regardless of when the invitations to take part went out.

There's no evidence in today's poll of a boost for Labour following Gordon Brown's interview with Piers Morgan on Sunday. Labour is down 1 point to 30 per cent, with the Tories up 1 to 39 per cent and the Lib Dems down 1 to 18 per cent.

Labour optimists are likely to point out that, on a uniform swing, this would leave the Tories nine seats short of a majority. But almost no psephologist thinks a uniform swing will take place on polling day. A variety of factors, including the unwind of anti-Tory tactical voting from the last election and the Conservatives' financial advantage, will allow Cameron to clean up in the marginals.

Realistically, Labour needs to be no more than 5 or 6 points behind the Tories for there to be any chance of a hung parliament.

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.