First September polls

Two new polls coming out tonight have caused much excitement over at Conservative Home and Iain Dale’s blog.

Firstly, tomorrow’s Times-Populus poll apparently lists the parties at Con 36% Lab 32% Lib 20% – leaving Labour 2 points down on July, the Lib Dems 1 point up and the Tory lead going from 2 points to 4.

That, of course, isn’t very newsworthy, so between the Times looking for news and the Tories looking for good news, we are told that the “real story” is that with Brown as Labour leader, the Tory lead jumps to 9 points, with the parties on 42/33/16 respectively. Iain Dale even reports those figures as if they were the topline results.

This, however, is not real news at all. In fact, those figures are exactly the same as in the July Times-Populus poll, which asked the same question. It’s not great news for Labour, but it’s still old news.

Apparently Labour does slightly better with John Reid as leader. We reported that his poll ratings got a boost over the terrorism crisis, but there’s no reason to assume they won’t fall again, and the Times did not take poll soundings on any other possible leaders.

Also out is a YouGov London poll for the Evening Standard, which has the parties at Con 39 Lab 31 LD 17 Oth 13. That would give the Tories an 8 point lead with minor parties also getting a 6 point boost – no internals available yet but that may be worrying news on the BNP. The London elections are in 2008, but this was a poll asking about a general election so there was no “Ken effect”.

It does mean Labour faces a tough time in the capital, but again it’s not really news – in fact the swing (7.5% on the 2005 election results) is less than that in the YouGov aggregates released in August.

They also asked about Labour leaders – Labour voters preferred Brown 48-9, Tory voters Reid 28-19. However, these are only London voters, and the poll bizarrely included Blair as an option (he was least popular with everyone) so we can’t read too much in to it.

Already the different forces will be arming themselves with cherry-picked facts from these polls to hurl at their rivals, and Blair loyalists Fourth Term are first out of the blocks to wave the 20 point Tory lead among ABC1 London voters as a warning not to renationalise rail.

This stat was the one internal figure quoted at Conservative Home but on its own it means little. The increased Tory lead may well have been reflected equally across all social classes, and even if not there is no evidence that London’s middle classes are pro-privatised trains.

Our recommendation to over-excited Tories, Blairites, Daily Murdoch hacks and other pundits is to calm down and get a sense of perspective. Now what are the chances of that happening?


2 Responses to First September polls

  1. Al says:

    Good post… and yet another poll that has Labour +/-4pts away from 33%.

  2. Populus has been pretty consistent over the past three or four months, both on topline VI and on Brown v Cameron questions. The results are certainly concerning but they don’t justify much of the hype.

    I’ve lost track of the number of times the Guardian have claimed that their last poll showed Labour on a 19-year low this week, but it’s still not true.

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