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New Ipsos MORI Poll – Tories Narrow Labour’s Lead to 2%

There is a new Ipsos MORI/Reuters poll reported today showing the Conservatives significantly narrowing Labour’s lead:

            Conservative              37% (up 2%)

                                                        Labour                       39% (down 3%)

                                                        Lib Dem                      11% (up 1%)

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,003adults aged 18+ between 17 and 19 June.

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 2 Comments

Leading Labour Councillor to Step Down?

Cllr Mike Orton

A correspondent has informed me tonight that a long-serving Labour Councillor and current Cabinet member has decided to step down and not contest next May’s local elections. Councillor Mike Orton is currently a Whitley ward Councillor and Cabinet member for Adult Social Care. He has represented Whitley ward for 36 years, since 1975.

Seen by some as a potential Labour Group Leader, Orton has loyally served successive recent Labour Leaders, becoming known as something of a specialist on housing issues. He has something of a laid back style in the Council chamber, lacing his speeches with occasional dry wit but in recent years he seems to have lost some of his passion for the job. Perhaps that is why he is calling it a day!

The interesting thing will be to see who Labour chose to replace him. Whitley ward has been one of Labour’s strongholds for many years but the Conservative vote share has been respectable. They will have some difficult decisions over the next 10 months and it will be interesting to see how their vote reacts.

UPDATE: It has been rightly pointed out that Mike Orton previously served as Labour Group leader. However, it has also been noted that in recent years he has again been touted by some as a candidate for the leadership.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Local | 6 Comments

New ICM Poll – Labour Lead Just 2%

There is a new ICM poll in tomorrow’s Guardian showing the Conservatives and Labour continuing to be very close in ratings:

            Conservative              37% (up 1%)

                                                  Labour                       39% (up 2%) 

                                                  Lib Dem                      12% (down 3%)

Cameron remains more popular than either his party or the coalition, but only just and he is now in negative territory for the first time. While 42% say he is doing a good job, 47% say bad, a negative of -5. In March, his score was +5 and in June 2010 it was +23.

Miliband’s net negative is -21, down eight points since March. His rating is one point worse than Clegg’s and 16 points worse than Cameron’s. The Labour leader seems notably unpopular among older voters and men. His popularity ratings now resemble those of Iain Duncan Smith, whose net negative rating in ICM polls averaged around -20 when he was leader of the opposition. His rating is notably worse than those of either William Hague or Michael Howard as opposition leaders.

Miliband Minor seems to be a drag on Labour’s poll ratings as they struggle to open up a decent lead over the Conservatives.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and above by telephone on 17-19 June 2011.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 3 Comments

New ComRes Poll – Labour’s Position Deteriorates Further

There is a new ComRes online poll published in tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday which shows Labour now having lost its lead entirely and deteriorating ratings for Ed Miliband:

              Conservative             37% (down 1%)

                                        Labour                      37% (down 2%)

                                        Lib Dem                    11% (no change)

Changes shown are compared to last month’s online poll rather than the previous telephone poll.

There is further very bad news for Labour and Ed Miliband:

Ed Miliband is turning out to be a good leader of the Labour Party.
                                    Dec      Jan       Apr      May      June
Agree:                         17%      22%      24%      22%     18%      
Disagree:                      32%      35%      38%    39%      45%
Don’t know:                  50%      43%      37%     39%     37%
Net agree:                    -15        -13        -14       -17       -27
Andrew Hawkins, ComRes chairman, comments: “The problem for Ed Miliband is that when voters come off the fence, they are more likely to disagree that he is turning out to be a good leader.”
Of Labour voters 41% agree; but 25% disagree and 34% say that they do not know
Nick Clegg is turning out to be a good leader of the Liberal Democrats.
                                    Dec      Jan       Apr      May      June    
Agree:                         26%      28%      24%      21%     20%
Disagree:                      49%      49%      55%    56%      57%
Don’t know:                  25%      23%      21%     24%     23%

Net agree:                     -15        -21        -31        -35        -37

·         52% of Lib Dem voters agree as well as 33% of Conservative voters

David Cameron is turning out to be a good Prime Minister.
                                    Dec      Jan       Apr      May      June
Agree:                         38%      38%      37%      39%     37%
Disagree:                      41%      43%      46%    43%      44%
Don’t know:                  21%      19%      17%     18%     19%

Net agree:                     -3         -5         -9         -4         -7
We asked whether David Miliband, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper would be a better Labour leader.

David Miliband would be a better Labour leader than Ed Miliband
Agree: 27%
Disagree: 17%
Don’t know: 57%
Ed Balls would be a better Labour leader than Ed Miliband
Agree: 10%
Disagree: 40%
Don’t know: 50%
Yvette Cooper would be a better Labour Leader than Ed Miliband
Agree: 7%
Disagree: 37%
Don’t know: 57%
Andrew Hawkins, ComRes chairman, comments: “Worryingly for Ed Miliband, more Labour voters agree that David would be a better leader than disagree – 29% to 19% with 51% who don’t know. David Miliband appeals far more to men, and – importantly – to the wealthier income group AB.”

The Labour party is unelectable as the party of government as long as Ed Miliband is its leader
Agree: 33%
Disagree: 28%
Don’t know: 39%

  •       17% of Labour voters agree (52% disagree)The NHS would be safer under Labour than under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
    Agree: 34%
    Don’t know: 30%
    Nick Clegg

    Nick Clegg deserves some credit for making the Conservatives think again about their NHS changes.
                            May                  June
    Agree:              49%                  49%
    Disagree:          26%                  27%
    Don’t know:      25%                  24%

    The Liberal Democrats would be more popular if they replaced Nick Clegg as leader
    Agree: 25%
    Disagree: 34%
    Don’t know: 40%

    Spending cuts

    The Government is cutting public spending in a way that is fair to every section of society
                                Nov        Dec            Feb       June
    Agree                   32%        30%           25%      25%
    Disagree              52%        53%            59%     60%
    I expect to be worse off personally as a result of the spending cuts
                                Nov        Dec            Feb       June
    Agree                   65%        66%           69%      67%
    Disagree              16%        16%           16%      16%

ComRes interviewed 2,008 GB adults online on 15 and 16 June 2011.

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 6 Comments

UK Unemployment Falls Sharply

The Government was boosted today by the news that unemployment has fallen by 88,000 over the three months to April this year. This is the biggest fall recorded in more than 10 years and is matched by the number in employment which rose by 80,000 over the same period. Commentators today have been suggesting that this may amount to evidence that the economy is doing much better than the official growth figures have suggested to date.

It is true that the claimant count has increased but this is now accepted as an unreliable measure and may reflect the fact that some unemployed people who had wrongly been claiming disability benefits are being moved onto the correct benefit.

The figures support some anecdotal evidence that the construction sector particularly, has been growing more strongly than the Office for National Statistics has so far measured. It will also been seen as evidence that the Government’s view that the private sector would take up the slack being created by cuts and job losses in the public sector, is being borne out on the ground. It will be interesting to see whether the ONS revises previously published growth figures upwards over the next few months!

June 15, 2011 Posted by | National | 4 Comments

New Populus Poll – Tories Narrow Labour’s Lead to Just 1%

There is a new Populus telephone poll in tomorrow’s Times which shows the Conservatives continuing to erode Labour’s lead, which is now just 1%:

            Conservative              39% (up 2%)

            Labour                       40% (up 1%)

                                                           Lib Dem                       9% (down 2%)

This poll will be a further blow to Ed Miliband and his chances of retaining the leadership of the Labour party in the longer term. For an opposition to be unable to open up a reasonable lead at a time of big cuts in public spending and some difficult decisions on the NHS is an indication of how far Labour has to go to regain credibility in the eyes of many voters. The Lib Dems continue to struggle in the polls, having now lost more than half of their General Election support.

June 13, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 1 Comment

Labour’s Leadership Crisis Explodes into the Papers

Ed Miliband

Following Labour’s poor local election results and the huge damage done to their electoral base in their Scottish heartland by the SNP it was probably inevitable that questions would be asked about the leadership of Ed Miliband. It is worth remembering that a majority of Labour MPs didn’t vote for him, neither did a majority of Labour members; he won the election due to the block votes of the Trades Union, over his older brother. In recent weeks his leadership has been criticised for the lack of vision and his refusal to apologise for Labour’s economic failures, of which he and Ed Balls share much responsibility.

The last week has brought the added revelation of the plotting and divisions with the Labour party during the latter days of Tony Blair’s premiership. The “Brownites” were determined to remove Blair and install Gordon Brown soon after the 2005 General Election. The two Ed’s have been shown as key conspirators in the plotting. Now it seems that the younger Miliband is facing growing troubles over his own leadership, or lack of it. The papers today are full of articles questioning whether Ed will survive until the next General Election and bemoaning his poor start in the job. David Miliband has even had to issue a denial that he still covets the leadership and he has urged the party to unite behind Ed.

The one thing which seems to be saving Miliband’s face is the continuing (albeit small) lead in most opinion polls. The daily YouGov poll continues to show Labour over 40%, although few others do. The respected site Political highlights the poor ratings Ed is receiving when the public is asked about his leadership.

Some Conservatives are worried that if Ed Miliband is toppled by the Labour Party that we will face a more credible opponent. The betting markets are already open for his successor, with some seeing David Miliband as a likely candidate and others siding with the Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy. That of course is possible but it is unlikely that Labour will be able to get rid of him, unless he is persuaded to go of his own accord.  Whatever the speculation may be at present, I am convinced that Ed will still be leader at the time of the next General Election and that he will lead the party to an historic defeat comparable to Michael Foot in 1983. It seems that at least one other commentator agrees with this conclusion.

In the mean time the Labour party will no doubt make some gains in local elections and by-elections but fall well short of what they need in order to be on course to win a General Election. Individual donations to the party have plummeted in recent years as business people conclude that the party has no chance of winning a national election any time soon. The party is therefore increasingly dependent on the Trades Unions to stave off bankruptcy.

Is it any wonder that Labour is now led by someone who has earned the nickname of “Ed Moribund”?

June 12, 2011 Posted by | National | 7 Comments

Apprentices More Than Double in Reading Under Conservative Leadership

The positive economic legacy of the previous Conservative-led coalition in Reading continues to pay dividends as new figures show that the percentage rise in the number of 16 to 18 year olds recruited in Reading over the last six months is the highest in south-east England. In the period July 2010 to January 2011 – the most up to date figures available – a total of 310 16 to 18 year olds began an apprenticeship in Reading . This is up from 155 for the same period in 2009/10 under Labour.

The impressive figures equate to a 100% rise in apprenticeships starts, almost twice as much as Brighton and Hove on 52 % who lie second in the south-east ‘league table’ of improvements.

The sharp rise in 2010/11 is an improvement on the progress made in the previous year when Reading had the 5th highest rise in the South-East and is an indicator of the sustained efforts made in Reading to drive up the number of apprenticeships on offer across the town for youngsters leaving school or college.

The number of apprenticeships recruited in Reading for all age groups – which include 16-18 year olds, 19 to 24 year olds and 25-plus – totals 686. This represents a 83% year on year increase and puts Reading second in the south east. The latest figures are a major boost for the effectiveness of partnership work between Reading Borough Council and a range of public and private sector organisations that have been working together over the past year to increase the number of apprenticeships available to Reading people.

On February 10 this year while the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition was still in charge, Reading launched its 100 in 100 campaign, which aimed to recruit 100 apprentices within 100 days. The 100 in 100 campaign is a partnership initiative involving, the National Apprenticeship Service, Reading UK CIC, Reading Borough Council and nine Training Providers delivering apprenticeships within Reading . As of the end of May, 166 pledges had been made by employers to start apprenticeships. Of these 78 had actually started.

Reading Borough Council and its partners is encouraging local employers to take some time to research the advantages of taking on apprentices. Apprentices provide businesses with opportunities to train up and mould employees to meet their own specific needs. Employers may not know that for 16-18 year olds training is fully funded by Government and for 19-24 year olds the Government part funds all training.

June 8, 2011 Posted by | Local | Leave a comment

New YouGov Poll – Labour Lead up to 5%

There is a new YouGov poll published in today’s Sunday Times newspaper showing Labour’s lead over the Conservatives increasing slightly to 5%:

                Conservative 37% (down 2%)
                Labour 42% (up 1%)
                                                 Lib Dem 9% (no change)
   The Government’s approval rating is at -23% (31% approve and 54% disapprove).YouGov has recently been showing higher Labour shares and leads than other major pollsters.

Changes shown are compared to the last daily YouGov poll I reported on 17 May.

June 5, 2011 Posted by | Polls | 4 Comments

Reading’s Alternative Vote Referendum Results

For those of us who followed the recent referendum result with some interest, it would be fair to say that the result was surprisingly emphatic. Reading was little different from the national outcome but there were some interesting differences across the various wards of the borough.

The overall Reading results were YES 17,605 and NO 27,571, with 306 spoilt ballots.

I have been sent the results of the referendum by ward:

   Abbey – YES 1264: No 1360 (Spoilt 21)

   Battle – YES 1121: NO 1312 (Spoilt 32)

   Caversham – YES 1306: NO 1721 (Spoilt 11)

   Church – YES 914: NO 1698 (Spoilt 18)

   Katesgrove – YES 1121: NO 1119 (Spoilt 26)

   Kentwood – YES 918: NO 2074 (Spoilt 13)

   Mapledurham – YES 733: NO 1377 (Spoilt 11) (This includes all postal votes cast on the day)

   Minster – YES 1107: NO 1808 (Spoilt 16)

   Norcot – YES 964: NO 1607 (Spoilt 26)

   Park –  YES 1938: No 1538 (Spoilt 30)

   Peppard – YES 1058: NO 2548 (Spoilt 16)

   Redlands – YES 1430: NO 1363 (Spoilt 18)

   Southcote – YES 787: NO 1861 (Spoilt 18)

   Thames – YES 1371: NO 2497 (Spoilt 13)

   Tilehurst – YES 838: NO 2159 (Spoilt 11)

   Whitley – YES 735: NO 1525 (Spoilt 26)

It is interesting that three wards appear to have voted “Yes” – Park, Katesgrove and Redlands. I say “appear” as the postal votes for every ward that were cast on the day are included in the Mapledurham totals and therefore Katesgrove may in fact have voted “No”! Two voted narrowly for “No” – Abbey and Battle; and the rest voted strongly “No”. Since Park, Katesgrove and Redlands, saw strong Green or Lib Dem campaigns, both of whom supported the “Yes” campaign, it is perhaps not surprising that they appear to have delivered “Yes” votes but it is surprising that such a long-standing Lib Dem held ward as Tilehurst voted so strongly for the “No” side.

UPDATE: I have been contacted by a reliable source who was at the count and who tells me that the Mapledurham totals only include the PVs that were cast on the day itself. All others were included in the relevant wards.

June 1, 2011 Posted by | Local, National | 2 Comments