December’s opinion polls
December 17, 2014 1 Comment
The table below shows the state of the opinion for the first half of December.
It is a dangerous thing to assume that these numbers will mirror the outcome come May’s likely General Election, but whilst some movement is to be expected these at least give us an idea of the mood in the country at present.
These polls show a small Labour lead, a lead that has gradually shrunk throughout this year. The occasional poll shows the Conservatives just ahead, and I imagine they will be reasonably content with this. As the election draws nearer it is the norm to see polling numbers improve for governing parties, which suggests that we could see a small lead for the Tories come May.
The polls also show significant numbers for UKIP, though not as high as some of the chatter would suggest. They are registering at around half of what the two main parties are getting, although some way ahead of the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems are engaged in a battle to stay ahead of the Green Party, which they are just about managing. One would not bet, though, that this will remain so, although equally the Lib Dems could benefit from improved numbers as the election draws nearer.
It is obvious I guess that these number represents the views of the mainland as a whole, and that there is much regional variation. For instance Labour are struggling In Scotland, which suggests that they are doing better in England. UKIP’s polling appears to be much better in the south and east of England than elsewhere. The Lib Dems vote seems to be holding up in some areas, whilst being decimated in others.
If these numbers are repeated in the General Election then we would see a governing party with the lowest vote share in modern times (I have checked back to 1935 and the lowest percentage for a winning party in a general election was Labour’s 35.2% in 2005). It would be miraculous for either Labour or the Conservatives to hit 40%, which was the norm up to 2001 (the two 1974 elections excepted). The rise of the Liberal vote put paid to both main parties going over 40%, and their collapse (they are back to 1950s vote share levels) has merely seen the votes redistributed all over the place rather than moving straight to Lab and Con.
Does UKIP’s presence signal a new, four-party, politics? Maybe, but it could also signal the replacement of the third party. It is difficult to judge based just on vote share – I expect to see the Lib Dems still managing to win more MPs than UKIP, despite polling around half of what UKIP look set to get. This goes to the our heart of our old-fashioned electoral system, which favours efficient tactical voting patterns.
This is all guesswork. What this means for Essex is another matter. My home county remains far more Conservative than the country as a whole, and whilst UKIP will be eyeing the coastal constituencies I still expect most of Essex’s MPs come May will remain Tory. Of course, ultimately this will be decided by the voters, who may decide to wholesale change – we shall see.