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.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Angela Rayner - from teenage mum to the woman who could unify Labour

Corbyn-supporting Rayner mentioned Tony Blair in her speech. 

For those at the Labour party conference feeling pessimistic this September, Angela Rayner’s speech on education may be a rare moment of hope. 

Not only did the shadow education secretary capitalise on one of the few issues uniting the party – opposition to grammar schools – and chart a return to left-wing policies, but she did so while paying tribute to the New Labour legacy. 

Rayner grew up on a Stockport council estate, raised by a mother who could not read nor write. She was, she reminded conference, someone who left school a no-hoper. 

"I left school at 16 pregnant and with no qualifications. Some may argue I was not a great role model for young people. The direction of my life was already set.

"But something happened. Labour's Sure Start centres gave me and my friends, and our children, the support we needed to grow and develop."

Rayner has shown complete loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn throughout the summer, taking two briefs in the depopulated shadow cabinet and speaking at his campaign events.

Nevertheless, as someone who practically benefited from Labour’s policies during its time in government, she is unapologetic about its legacy. She even mentioned the unmentionable, declaring: “Tony Blair talked about education, education, education. Theresa May wants segregation, segregation, segregation.”

As for Rayner's policies, a certain amount of realism underpins her rhetoric. She wants to bring back maintenance grants for low-income students, and the Educational Maintenance Allowance for those in further education. 

But she is not just offering a sop to the middle class. A new childcare taskforce will focus on early education, which she describes as “the most effective drivers of social mobility”. 

Rayner pledged to “put as much effort into expanding, technical, vocational education and meaningful apprenticeships, as we did with higher education”. She declared: "The snobbery about vocational education must end."

Tory critics have questioned the ability of a woman who left school at 16 to be an education secretary, Rayner acknowledged. “I may not have a degree - but I have a Masters in real life,” she said. It could have sounded trite, but her speech delivered the goods. Perhaps she will soon earn her PhD in political instincts too.