Posts Tagged ‘wallet line’

Labour’s Nothing Year

23/09/2011, 08:59:27 AM

by Atul Hatwal

“Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all, the needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before. And we’ll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow”

While I was looking at the latest polling earlier this week, this melancholic eighties gem, Nothing Ever Happens, by Del Amitri, came on the radio. It couldn’t have been more appropriate.

At the start of the year in this column I highlighted Labour’s poll challenge by tracking responses to three specific questions asked intermittently by YouGov in their daily and weekly polls.

These questions go beneath headline voting intentions to examine voters’ attitudes on what are likely to be defining issues at the next election.

They chart three things – first, how the public feel the government is hitting them in the wallet; second, their view of how the government is cutting the deficit and third, who they prefer as a leader – David Cameron or Ed Miliband.

The answers over the past nine months have involved hundreds of thousands of responses and reveal that the entire Labour party might as well have not turned up for work this year.

Nothing has happened. Nothing has happened at all.

The wallet line tracks voters’ financial self-interest. Because it focuses on peoples’ perceptions of their own financial future, it gives quite a different perspective to the general doom and gloom about the economic position.


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The clouds in last night’s silver lining

06/05/2011, 10:01:59 AM

by Atul Hatwal

As Ed Miliband surveys the results after his first major test as leader he will have mixed emotions.  Great in England, good in Wales, bad in Scotland and rapidly forgotten on AV.

A curate’s egg, whatever one of those might be.

While the dynamics of devolved government mean the results in Scotland and Wales are driven by regional factors, and AV is done for a generation at least, it’s the English local elections where the tea leaves for the next general election can be best read.

England is where Labour needs to win the key seats, and its England where Labour has proportionately lost most voters since 1997. Ostensibly, the results give a sound basis for hope.

Not quite street party territory, but at least a couple of glasses of sherry.

On this happy path, the numbers of new Labour councillors elected take Labour back to respectable mid-2000s levels of representation in local government. Gains in a single election on this scale have not been seen since the mid-1990s.

This is not to be lightly dismissed. Revival in local government is an essential pre-requisite for national success.

Then there’s the overall vote share. While not spectacular, it was much improved over the election last year and progress at this rate would lead to a solid Labour majority at the next general election.

But still, there’s doubt.

Can a national result be extrapolated from local elections? Is this really a foundation for victory built by winning back Labour sceptics? Or a house of cards made from passing protest votes?

A few months ago in this column, I highlighted Labour’s poll challenge by looking at three specific questions asked intermittently by YouGov in their daily and weekly polls, and tracked their responses over the previous three months. These questions examined voters’ attitudes to the defining issues for the next general election.

The updated results to Labour’s poll challenge hold the key to interpreting last nights mixed election results.

The three YouGov questions look below topline voting intentions to reveal how voters feel the government is hitting them in the wallet, their view of how the government is cutting the deficit and who they prefer as a leader – David Cameron or Ed Miliband.

The public’s answers over this year have involved responses from tens of thousands of people and give a clear view of the scale of the problem.


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The trend beneath the Barnsley triumph is that Labour’s poll lead is soft

04/03/2011, 07:00:40 AM

by Atul Hatwal

What a result in Barnsley. To increase the numerical majority in an already safe seat as the turnout halves, this is the stuff of psephological fantasy. For the Libs to come sixth, losing their deposit, is the dark matter of disreputable dreams.

So, what does it tell us about the national picture? About voting intentions in the next general election? About how we’re doing?

To be honest, sadly, it tells us nothing.

By-elections are almost entirely beyond interpretation at the best of times. A by-election in a highly atypical constituency, caused by extraordinary circumstances, fought by asymmetrically effective candidates and teams is entirely so.

The polls, by contrast, are just starting to have tracked long enough since Miliband took over to show trends. The latest YouGov tracker poll posted a Labour lead of 5% and it was as high as 9% earlier in the week. On Wednesday, Anthony Wells, YouGov’s resident polling guru, assured us that Labour’s lead is “still going strong”.

So perhaps Barnsley really is a sign of things to come?


Progress is being made, but nagging doubts remain about a Labour poll lead that feels very 1980s. Something doesn’t quite sit right.

Systematic polling evidence to back-up these doubts has been patchy. Underneath the headlines there have been individual questions that cast doubt on its solidity, but not enough to build a narrative that describes where voters really are.

This changed last month.

In the mass of polling conducted by YouGov for the Sunday Times and the Sun, some of those questions that are asked infrequently, but which shine a light on voters’ core motivations, were finally repeated. It means a consistent pattern of questions can now be tracked back over the past few months.

These questions fall into three areas: the impact of cuts on voters’ wallets; support for the Tories’ approach to the deficit now it is being implemented, and voters’ views on whom they prefer for PM.

The results are unequivocal and give some hard numbers to quantify that intuitive doubt.

The top line on the graph shows that for all the angst and outrage on cuts as covered in the media, at a time of global downturn, most people are pretty sanguine about their personal prospects. (more…)

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