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Polls narrow again to cut Conservative lead to just five points

Last night the latest YouGov poll cut the Conservative lead from nine points to just five – in the first survey the pollsters have done since the Manchester terrorist attack on Monday night. YouGov put the Conservatives on 43, Labour on 38, with the Lib Dems and UKIP trailing on 10 and 4 respectively.

This represents a closing of the polls, with the Tories down from 44 and Labour up from 35 in the same poll conducted for the Sunday Times last week. That poll had been conducted on the Thursday and Friday before the tag ‘dementia tax’ had caught on and filtered back through into the news cycle.

This poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday this week, after the manifesto had fully sunk in. The results, if played out in the election, could see the Conservative majority cut to just two. 

What are we to make out of it?

Firstly, a qualification. YouGov also re-ran questions on party and leadership favourability, both on Monday but before the Manchester attack, and then again on Wednesday and Thursday, to assess whether the attack had any bearing on favourability with voters. It did. In a month from April 19/20 to May 22, May’s personal rating had fallen from +10 to -8, while Corbyn’s had risen from -42 to -11. Those figures are now +1 and -16 respectively. So while Corbyn had cut May’s lead massively on favourability, that trend has reversed since Monday.

Second, the weighting. After the 2015 General Election, when polls repeatedly showed Ed Miliband’s Labour party in a narrow but stable lead only to finish seven points beyond Cameron’s Tories, pollsters adjusted their weightings to account for ‘shy Tories’. This is the first General Election they have had to test their new weightings, and we don’t yet know whether they’ll overstate the ‘shy Tory factor’ (thus artificially suppressing Labour’s vote), or fail to deal with original problem – in which case we could be in for a nasty surprise on June 9th.

Thirdly, the turnout – or more specifically, who turns out and where. Dr Jonathan Birch of the London School of Economics wrote in the Guardian that, “it is concerning that the voices of the young and the working class are given less weight by polling agencies than the voices of the old and the middle class – and that, for ICM and ComRes, your opinion as a young or working-class person still merits less weight even if you tell them you intend to vote.” While YouGov do not practice such an exercise, that we know of, aggregated polls or ‘poll of polls’ will include an element of this. In one sense there is a good reason, younger people are much less likely to vote, but we are living in exceptional times. The independence referendum in 2014 and the EU referendum in 2016 showed very large youth turnout. Labour will need to drum up similar turnout in young voters to swing this election in their favour. Labour enjoys a 37 point lead among 18-24s, and a 17 point lead among 25-49s. The British Election Study estimate as much as 65% of under-25s may have voted in the 2015 General Election, while YouGov gave Labour’s lead among under-30s in that election just four points.

But whatever can be said about these polls, they do represent a dramatic turnaround from the start of the campaign. Theresa May has thrown away 35 points in her favourability lead in just three weeks, while the voting intention lead has been cut from a terrifying 20+ points to a manageable five.

All that is left to do is get on the doorstep and fight for every seat.


  1. jeffrey davies says:

    there are13million sick disabled people in our isles most would have thought would vote labour but with others corbyn should get past the post allowing labour in

  2. Steven Johnston says:

    I confess I have to take my hat off to team Corbyn. If they keep this up they stand a good chance of, if not winning the election, increasing the amount of seats labour actually have.
    Well, that is why they elected him leader.

  3. JohnP says:

    This is indeed a totally stunning improvement in our Party’s electoral fortunes ! Out canvassing and leafleting again in Oswestry today in hyper Tory North Shropshire (MP the bovine uber right winger Owen Paterson, 16,000 majority in 2015) I was much boosted by the enthusiastic response we received.

    Interestingly a couple of lifelong Tory voters told me they intended to vote Labour this time “because of the Tory assault on our local NHS services” (one of our only two A&E units to close).

    The expected post Manchester terrorist atrocity “poll bounce” for the Tories doesn’t seem to have happened. Most people seem aware that May was warned about the danger of policing cuts in 2015 at the Manchester Police Federation Conference.

    Strange , and mucho optimism-boosting , times ! But the Tory press will now go APESHIT with their lies and hate ! “Zinoviev Letter” time ?

    1. Tony says:

      It is important to get along though to seats that Labour actually has a chance of winning:

  4. James Martin says:

    Obviously any poll can be wrong and needs to be treated with caution, but every poll has showed the same thing over the past few weeks – Labour is gaining support and the Tories are losing it.

    And I will repeat – and Blairites take note – Labour is now polling higher than the 35% of the popular vote won by Blair in his historic third election win in 2005. We can do this!

  5. Pat Sheehan says:

    There is a glow on the political horizon: a new dawn of hope and opportunity. Yes, for the ‘many’ and not the ‘few’!
    If sufficient numbers can put aside their own self interest for just long enough.
    If enough sleepwalking voters wake in time.
    If the built-in ‘barricades’ within the established, failing, political system that bars fair representation and all and every chance of Democratic Government can be smashed there is a chance that we can all start over again – and get it right this time.

  6. Don Draper says:

    Despite the Tory press, the biased TV questions and misrepresentations, could Labour pull this off? I for one would be happy with status quo or a reduction in Tory seats, but a win ….it would be the biggest upset in political history, beating the Brexit and Trump wins. Go Jezza, just keep on talking straight and honest, it’s working.

  7. Laurie Rhodes says:

    I think the polls are even better than they seem.

    All the catchy headlines involve surveying a large sample of people & then applying formulas based on recent elections to predict what the election day vote will be. The weightings can be misleading and if this election is fundamentally different to the last, the past patterns actually screw up the data instead of assisting a more realistic projection.

    In this last poll, 2052 people were surveyed. 649 said they would vote Conservative and 649 (exactly the same number said they would vote Labour). Suggestions of the Conservatives having any lead at all is only due to weighting theories.

    Yougov is useful because if you dig into it, you can find data on “don’t know” and “wont vote”. Normally these categories are removed or massaged from poll headlines with weighting. When you look at the data with these categories represented a different picture seems to be emerging.

    The percentage of Conservative support really hasn’t changed much over the past few weeks. It’s appeared so in incredibly high because the “don’t knows” and “won’t vote” weren’t shown.

    Importantly, Labour’s support has been increasing from the “don’t know” pool of voters. The last poll has Labour with significant leads over the Tories in the North and London while Wales and the Midlands are almost a dead heat.

    Yougov polling geographically shows the UK as 5 regions:
    London, Rest of the South, Midlands / Wales, Scotland.

    12-May-17- % % % % %
    Conservative—- 28 41 37 29 27
    Labour ———- 36 17 24 30 15
    Would not vote- 5 8 11 12 6
    Don’t know—– 20 19 15 21 17

    19-May-17- % % % % %
    Conservative—- 29 39 32 29 23
    Labour ———- 30 18 24 34 20
    Would not vote- 6 8 9 7 6
    Don’t know—– 15 16 17 19 11

    25-May-17- % % % % %
    Conservative—- 29 37 32 27 23
    Labour ———- 37 23 31 38 18
    Would not vote- 10 10 9 5 9
    Don’t know—– 12 15 15 17 10

    1. JohnP says:

      Hopefully you are correct, Laurie. Also, as I understand it, the “youth vote” polling returns are modelled such as to reduce their weighting (probably because “da yoof” have proven to be more prone to proclaim intent to vote, but then “can’t be bothered”, than other demographics). However there appears to have been a major very recent development amongst younger voters to register to vote (and why not – our promise on tuition fees is pretty damned attractive to actual or potential higher education students !). So the eventual youth vote in this election may be being excessively reduced in the overall , adjusted/weighted poll conclusion.

      It has to be said though that the extremely diverse nature of the contemporary UK electorate, and relatively low turnout, (compared to , say, 30 years ago) must make the typical poll sample sizes of usually no more than 2000 people, pretty dodgy as a useful statistical base for projection. Nevertheless “something” major , and surprising, IS undoubtedly happening in the rapid decline in support for the Tories, and a corresponding rise in support for Labour – and all completely contrary to the “expert” received wisdom of the entire commentariat (particularly the ghastly anti Corbyn Guardianistas) leading up to this election. Which is deeply satisfying in itself.

      1. Peter Rowlands says:

        Yes, as John Prescott said, something is definitely happening. I’m bound to say that I was fairly pessimistic until recently, because of consistently large leads by the Tories since last October, but all that has changed, partly because TV exposure has helped Corbyn, who seems to have acquired extra confidence, gravitas and force of argument as these have deserted May. The election will hinge partly on an improved turnout by younger voters, and on a switch back to Labour by some older voters, who need to be reminded that it is only Labour that has sought to protect and enhance their living standards, recently most notably in the Pension Credit reforms of the late 90s, one of the best things that New Labour did but which remains, surprisingly, largely forgotten.

    2. Don Draper says:

      Hope you are right Laurie, just hope you are right.

  8. Don Draper says:

    After seeing the Channel 4 car crash interview with Michael (Comical Ali) Fallon, when the questioner sneakingly threw a Boris quote in, which was prettty much what Corbyn was saying about Foreign Policy, and Fallon poo pooed it, I honestly believe we can do it. The arrogance of the Tory snap election thinking it was a push over, really will go down as the biggest blunder ever in world wide politics. The Labour Party were ready for the snap election, the Tories were not. I am leafleting over the weekend with a right old spring in my step.

  9. Bazza says:

    The Tories are kegging it as Labour cuts their poll lead and hence the bile and vitriol from them and the Lib Dem opportunists- funniest comment from illiberal Lib Dem Lord practically saying we should not THINK, but after the heartbreak and the tears, we are nothing as citizens if we do not think and try to increase the protection of citizens at home plus as calm and rational human beings analyse and try to also address any potential global reasons for attacks.
    Perhaps when we have an independent foreign policy which treats all countries as equals and values all human life then there is hope for humanity!
    Labour has been doing well because with a critical thinker like Jeremy many of us have been engaging with citizens on the doorstep about our IDEAS (and treating citizens as equals and not insulting their intelligence) and we are sharing our ideas saying what we want to do and if you like these ideas THEN COME WITH US.
    But if they attack us perhaps the Tories could answer a question I have been posing which has been met with silence.
    Our first bombs in Syria against so-called IS were dropped on oil refineries and petrol distilling stations, but were these unoccupied at the time?
    And if they were occupied by workers (who were probably trade unionists) these would have been NON-COMBATANTS (and when so-called IS comes to town you probably have little say in the matter) so IS THIS A POTENTIAL TORY GOVERNMENT WAR CRIME?
    We need to care for diverse working people in every country of the World!
    Yours in international peace and solidarity!

    1. Steven Johnston says:

      Bazza, there is a vacancy you might be interested in. For the chairperson of the Islington LGBT & heterosexual community against the fascist dementia tax & ending corporate wage-slavery!

  10. C MacMackin says:

    It’s definitely been an encouraging weekend. Even if the poll mentioned here was at the higher end of the range, there’s been substantial improvement for Labour across all of the polling companies. I’m still not convinced Labour will win, but I hope to be proven wrong; you never know how things will shake out under First Past the Post.

    At the start of the election I was wondering what our plan of action should be if Labour looses (as looked likely). Now it looks like Labour will secure enough of the vote for Corbyn (or someone like him) to justify staying on. The question now is, “what happens if Labour wins?” Richard Seymour wrote a very good piece on this yesterday. Those of us on the Left should probably start thinking about how we’ll respond to a capital strike in the event that Labour won. Right now I don’t think we have the social forces which would be able to fend one off, so what would we need to do in order to build them after the election.

    1. Steven Johnston says:

      To have a lead cut from 24 points to just 5 shows just how toxic May actually is. I think the conservatives will dump her after the election. Surely their love affair with this “bl**dy difficult woman” must be over?

  11. Bill says:

    Theresa May will not remain Prime Minister even if the Conservatives scrape to victory. The whole premise of the election was vote for Theresa May. The Labour Party between now and 8th June should question should throw a dead cat into the room and have the media speculate who is in the running to replace her.

    This information helps:

    The bookies going 3/1 the Prime Minister is replaced some time between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.

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