There is a new YouGov poll in today’s Sun newspaper showing Labour’s lead in line with many other recent polls at a lowly 3%:
Conservative 34% (no change)
Labour 37% (down 1%)
Lib Dem 9% (down 2%)
UKIP 13% (up 3%)
There have been some recent YouGov polls showing Labour 6-7% ahead but that now seems to be the greatest lead they can achieve. Following a dismal summer of relentless criticism of Miliband’s leadership failures the party is barely ahead of the Conservatives.
In further findings YouGov’s results show the Conservatives maintaining a substantial lead over Labour on the crucial matter of economic competence and who is to blame for current austerity policies. Just 25% blame the Coalition for the cuts while 36% blame Labour.
Changes shown are compared to the last YouGov poll I reported on 6 August.
There is a new Populus poll today which shows the Conservatives cutting further into Labour’s previous lead:
Conservative 36% (up 2%)
Labour 39% (no change)
Lib Dem 10% (down 2%)
UKIP 8% (down 2%)
There is no doubt now that Labour are hanging onto a lead by the slimmest of margins. We are still in the mid-term period but the economy is showing clear signs of picking up and unemployment continues to fall. Labour leader Ed Miliband is seen by most people as unfit to be Prime Minister and the Conservatives are about to launch several key policies which will be in the next manifesto.
We will shortly enter Party Conference season when opinion polls usually jump around a bit, so I expect some volatility over the next month or so. We will have to see how it all settles down in early October!
Populus interviewed a random sample of 2,050 adults online between 14th and 15th August 2013. Interviews were conducted across Great Britain and the results have been weighted to be representative of all British adults.
There is a new ICM poll in the Guardian tomorrow showing the Conservatives just 3% behind Labour with UKIP recovering some of the losses shown in last month’s ICM poll:
Conservative 32% (down 4%)
Labour 35% (down 1%)
Lib Dem 14% (up 1%)
UKIP 10% (up 3%)
As the Guardian report says:
“A growing proportion of the public believe David Cameron and George Osborne are more capable of managing the economy than their Labour rivals, according to the latest ICM poll for the Guardian.
The proportion of people prepared to back the Tory team for economic competence has soared to 40% from 28% in June. The findings will make grim post-holiday reading for the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, who along with shadow chancellor Ed Balls has seen a much smaller rise in credibility, with 24% of the public preferring them compared with 19% two months ago.”
This is a very good poll for the Conservatives although not quite as good as last month’s level pegging. That now looks like an outlier but this ICM poll is consistent with other pollsters in the last month or so in showing a significant narrowing of the gap between the Conservatives and Labour.
ICM is considered the “gold standard” amongst pollsters and I have therefore always given a lot more weight to their findings alongside YouGov.
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,001 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 9-11 August 2013. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
Peppard ward’s Conservative Councillors and Reading East MP Rob Wilson have spent considerable time over the last few years in contact with local shop keepers, managers of national chain shops, and writing to the managing agents, of the Budgens Precinct car park in Emmer Green. Last year the then owners set out plans to resurface the car park and cited a letter from Cllr Richard Willis in their planning application for repairs to the surface in front of the shops.
In July this year Mr Karim Rashid (the owner of Budgens shop in the precinct) bought the freehold of the car park land and has appointed new managing agents. He proposes to comprehensively resurface the car park and improve the drainage before the winter sets in. However, this is subject to agreement of all the existing shop-keepers to pay their share of the costs. Mr Rashid has offered terms which would spread the burden for the shop-keepers, thus making it more affordable than the previous proposals which were never implemented.
Cllr Jane Stanford-Beale recently invited senior managers from a number of the national chains at Budgens precinct to walk the site with her. They were shocked at the state of the car park and have pledged to support attempts to bring it up to an acceptable standard. Cllr Stanford-Beale, said, “This is good news and will be very much welcomed by local people who use the shops. Despite periodic patching the car park has usually been riddled with pot-holes and dangerous for its many users. I met with some of the managers of the national chain shops and am pleased that they have pledged to support proposals to resurface the car park. Now we have to ensure that the plans are affordable for and supported by the smaller businesses.”
Cllr Richard Willis, who has campaigned for several years to get the car park repaired, said, “Having written to the previous managing agents several times and got no response the change of ownership is a very positive development. At last we have a proposal which is designed to be affordable and able to be delivered in the near future. It is important that the car park is repaired so that local people do not abandon these local shops for facilities elsewhere.”
Reading East MP Rob Wilson said, “I know how much time Conservative Councillors have spent on this issue over the last few years and am pleased that at last there is a real prospect of a proper resurfacing of the car park. Many of my constituents have contacted me about this and I will be seeking a meeting with Mr Rashid in the near future to discuss his plans and offer any assistance I can.”
Three new opinion polls have been published in the last 24 hours all showing the same picture with each of the three main parties within 2% in each poll:
Populus Poll – 5 August
Cons 33% / Lab 38% / LD 12% / UKIP 9% – Labour Lead 5%
YouGov Poll – 6 August
Cons 34% / Lab 38% / LD 11% / UKIP 12% – Labour Lead 4%
ComRes Poll – 6 August
Cons 34% / Lab 37% / LD 10% / UKIP 12% – Labour Lead 3%
It has been unusual recently to have such consistency across different pollsters. We are beginning to see a consistent pattern of Labour down a couple of points, Conservatives up 3-4% and UKIP falling back from their highs of around 20% following the last local elections. Last month we had an ICM poll showing the Conservatives and Labour both on 36%. It cannot be long before we see other pollsters giving similar results.
It is no wonder that dissent is breaking out again within the Labour Party with senior figures criticising Ed Miliband’s poor leadership and complacency.
The next election is now less than 2 years away and it is looking like it will be a close run campaign, rather than the walkover that some Labour MPs seemed to be expecting last year and earlier this year!
Over the last few weeks the Spanish authorities have been ramping up the pressure on the British territory of Gibraltar. On the southern tip of Spain, Gibraltar is a small territory of 2.6 square miles within the EU, and was ceded to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht (which also ceded Minorca to the British Crown). Gibraltar has therefore been British for 300 years this year. It is similar to the two small Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla which are enclaves within Morocco. Spain also holds onto to some uninhabited islands just off the coast of Morocco.
Spain has harassed Gibraltar for many years, the worst era being during the 50’s and 60’s under Franco’s Spanish dictatorship. Franco closed the border at times and at other times imposed restrictions on transit between Spain and Gibraltar. Franco died in 1975 and Spain later joined NATO and the EU, making them, supposedly, partners of the UK. In recent years relations had been improving to the benefit of communities on both sides of the border. However, the recent behaviour of the Spanish Government is very reminiscent of Franco’s era.
The recent dispute has been rumbling at a low level for some time. Spanish fisherman have long abused the waters around Gibraltar, leading to clashes with the small Royal Navy patrol boats based there. The Gibraltar government decided to create an artificial reef in their territorial waters in order to protect the marine life in the bay and make it more difficult for Spanish trawlers to operate there illegally. This has resulted in an increase in tensions and appears to be the trigger for Spain’s heightened harassment of people attempting to cross the border. The irony is that this has the biggest impact on Spanish citizens who earn their living in the British territory. They have also continued to invade British waters and illegally overfly the airspace. Spain is now threatening to impose tighter border controls and place restrictions on the use of Spanish airspace.
As Spain seeks to force the people of Gibraltar into submission they continue to assert their right to remain British subjects. In a referendum in 2002, on a 88% turnout, the 30,000 people of The Rock voted 98% to remain British and fewer than 2% voted to share sovereignty with Spain. There is no doubt whatsoever about the democratic wishes of the people. They are proud of their British citizenship and have no wish to become Spaniards.
To date the British Government in London has taken a conciliatory stance, seeking to placate the Spanish while not compromising on the essential issue of sovereignty. The Foreign Office has adopted its usual policy of seeking to underplay the tensions and seeks talks. All the while the Spanish have ramped up the pressure on Gibraltar and appears to have endorsed, or at least turned a blind eye to, the actions of the regional authorities. As the tension has risen this stance has become increasingly untenable and today David Cameron has stated his “serious concern” at the situation. Whilst this is welcome it will not stop the Spanish attempts to throttle the economic life out of Gibraltar. Only a resolute stance by the British Government will cause Spain to back off and restore the status quo ante.
Gibraltar used to be a big military base with a major Royal Navy and Royal Air Force presence. This has dwindled over the years and only a token presence remains. Spain appears to see this as an opportunity to ramp up their claim to the territory without consequences. This has the feeling of the run up to the Falklands Conflict in 1981-82. Whilst it is true that Spain is a member state of both the EU and NATO, David Cameron would be well advised to despatch a small contingent of Typhoon fast jets to Gibraltar alongside a Type 23 frigate and auxiliary. The Typhoons would ensure the integrity of Gibraltar’s airspace and the frigate would provide some much needed muscle to the small locally based RN contingent. Both elements would provide much needed deterrence against the stated threat of invasion from some reckless quarters. If the threat ramps up further a Type 45 destroyer could be despatched with its all round capability and excellent radar and anti-air coverage.
The fact that Spain holds similar enclaves in Morocco just highlights the rank hypocrisy of the Spanish and suggests that this is posturing designed to distract from the current economic disaster which is afflicting the country. It is time that Spain acted like a mature European democracy and recognised the democratically expressed wishes of Gibraltar’s people.