Friday, 26 October 2012

Green Party at 8% in National Opinion Poll

The national monthly (September) political tracker voting intention opinion poll by Ipsos Mori, put the Green party on an astonishing 8%. Regular readers of this blog will remember that I recently highlighted the strong showing of late of the ‘Others’ in voting intention polls. UKIP have generally been getting the largest share of the ‘others’ vote, regularly out polling the Lib Dems, with the Greens doubling our share, but still usually only half that of the UKIP share.

In the Ipsos Mori poll for September though, this situation was reversed with UKIP polling 4% against the Greens 8%. Unfortunately, the Green party is back to 3% in the October poll with UKIP on 10%, but you would expect some volatility in the polling figures for small parties, where the sample surveyed is usually around only a thousand respondents, and so smaller party support is harder to detect and predict than that for the main parties.

Another polling company,Survation, who very accurately predicted the Green party vote share in this year’s London Assembly election, have an interesting piece on another, methodological reason why some polling organisations understate the strength of small party support in their polls. Basically, companies like Yougov, prompt respondents when asking which party they intend to vote for, (Con, Lab, Lib Dem or Other), so people need to first select Other, then select the particular party from a secondary prompt, (UKIP, Green, BNP etc).

Also, Yougov list the party options in the order Con, Lab, Lib Dem, Other, whereas Ipsos Mori change this order randomly, except in the case of Other, which is always last. According to the Survation piece, this explains why the Conservatives always poll higher in Yougov polls, and therefore logic would indicate that these polls will understate the Other vote, for the converse reason. Survation themselves, do randomly prompt on the main parties, and now UKIP too, and UKIP polls higher on their surveys than any of the other polling companies.

One thing that seems to be fairly certain is that this trend of UKIP and the Greens polling well is set to continue, with the next UK wide elections being the 2014 European Parliament elections in which both UKIP and the Greens do best at. Expect some gains for both parties in the Euro elections and probably the local authority council elections that will be held on the same day. Unless something dramatic happens, the Lib Dems will be down to their ‘core’ vote of 8 or 9%, and so will not affect the outcome of elections as much as they have done in recent years.

More importantly, if this trend continues all the way to the next general election which is expected in 2015, and if between UKIP and the Greens they can take approaching 15% of the national vote, with UKIP taking their votes mainly off the Conservatives and the Greens taking them mainly off Labour, this could have a significant impact on which of the two main parties wins the election.

What’s more, Labour and Conservatives will know this is the case, as they study these opinion polls very closely, which makes them more likely to steal policies off UKIP and the Greens in an effort to minimise the votes lost to their smaller rivals. This is potentially a strong position for us Greens, where we can perhaps influence Labour policy leftwards, and for UKIP to drag the Tories rightwards (I know, it’s hard to imagine the Tories being even more right wing, but there you go).

The days of the Lib Dems maintaining ‘equidistance’ between Labour and Conservative, and so peeling votes off their right and left wings respectively, looks to be well and truly over. A new dynamic will shape the next general election, and the Green party will be right in the thick of it.


Peter Allen said...

I think the Euro elections in 2014 are crucial.If the Green Party can win 10% + in that election then I think we may be able to exert some real influence.

IMO it will be extremely difficult to run against Labour in the 2014 general election, at least in seats that are in any way marginal, such will be the desire to get rid of this appalling government among left leaning voters who will hope (however misguidedly) that Labour will return to office to save what are left of decimated public services.

The Green party might wish to consider offering a deal to Labour in such circumstances, only running candidates in a handful of seats (one in each region perhaps) and calling for a labour vote elsewhere, asking Labour not to run candidates against us in our "target" seats.

Labour probably won't agree to this but we may wish to adopt it as a strategy anyway, "demanding" that Labour commit themselves to crucial parts of our programme in return, in particular a commitment to create a million climate jobs perhaps.

Mike Shaughnessy said...

I take you mean the GE in 2015, unless you know something I don't Peter?

I'm exactly suggesting we have a deal with Labour, more that we frighten them so much electorally that they move to the left to take our voters.

Robert Jones said...

Agreeing with Labour to give up most of our votes outside target constituencies when this doesn't look like being necessary - polls give Labour clear victory over Tories - or a plan aimed at encouraging another party to steal our voters, are both terrible strategies.

Labour will struggle to take Green votes, provided we give a robust defence of our positions and focus on Labour's own failures and inaction whilst in govt.

Mike Shaughnessy said...

Well ,at our present rate of gaining seats at Westminister, we will be all long gone before we anything approaching a Green govt.

Look at UKIP's strategy (not a party I have any time for), but they are more successful than us at getting their agenda listened to by those with political power.

Robert Jones said...

Things may be slow, but the experience of many political parties around the world shows that a few breakthroughs such as we have seen in Brighton can be turned into an avalanche when the political context provides for it provided we are ready to present ourselves as a viable alternative to other parties. Standing candidates in as many constituencies as possible around the country is absolutely necessary for this to happen.

And as for UKIP, they have money and friends in high places, as well as a policy which is, unfortunately, increasingly popular as people perceive (wrongly in my view) the EU as an economic threat. UKIP have too many political weaknesses for their success to be sustainable in the long term.

Mike Shaughnessy said...

I agree with you Robert that we need to be ‘ready’ for political opportunities, whether it’s worth standing hundreds of candidates losing their deposits, I’m not so sure about.

The EU is an economic threat, and it’s anti-democratic too. The Green party has a mildly Eurosceptic stance, which I think we should make more of.

Mike Shaughnessy said...

I agree with Mike that UKIP at least has a strategy that goes beyond putting its own point of view and hoping to one day win a majority. We need a better idea than that, and we don't have the luxury of any kind of proportional system.

I'm not convinced that there is any kind of pre-election 'deal' on offer from Labour,or that we should take it if there were. It comes down to what strategy we can pursue on our own. For me that has to take into account the fact that the Tories are vile, and actual climate change deniers (as opposed to Labour, which is only de facto deniers).

Comment by Jeremy Green who is having trouble with his captchas.