YouGov’s Nick v Nigel poll: Clegg wins with Labour, Lib Dem voters; Farage with Tory, Ukip voters

Nick clegg york in europe Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsMy overall view of last night’s Nick v Nigel debate was that Mr Reasonable won it. But then I would think that, wouldn’t I? What did rest of the British public think?

Well, the vast, vast majority of rest of the British public would have had no view either way: they didn’t watch it. But polling firm YouGov did ask those who did watch it – though as Anthony Wells notes, “to get 1000 people for our poll of people who were watching it we had to ask tens of thousands of people”.

The snap verdict of that sample: Nigel Farage was the winner, by 56% to 37%. That finding will, to some extent, shape how the debate is reported – though I suspect the consensus will be that both leaders won on their own terms. Farage from simply being on the platform, Clegg from leading the pro-European case.

However, what’s interesting is looking at the breakdown of those YouGov figures… Clegg won the debate according to a majority of both Labour (51%) and Lib Dem (77%) voters. Farage won the majority of both Tory (69%) and Ukip (93%) voters. Which is, I guess, what you’d expect to happen.

Six months ago, I thought there was a real risk that the Lib Dems wouldn’t just face a wipeout at these European elections, but that we might trail in fifth place behind the Greens. That’s still a risk, but a much more remote one than it was. In that sense, regardless of who is perceived to have won on the night, Clegg’s gamble of laying down the gauntlet to Farage has paid off.

Perhaps the most significant point, though, is this: a debate between the leaders of the UK’s third and fourth parties was regarded (rightly) as a major political event, even though the Conservative and Labour leaders chose to spectate from the sidelines. Some Tory and Labour supporters hoped 2015 would see politics revert to the cosy red/blue duopoly. The reality is multi-party politics is here to stay. Last night showed that once again.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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38 Comments

  • The disparity between supporters of pro-EU parties thinking Clegg won, and the overall opinion suggests this debate was speaking primarily to the staunch anti-EU brigade.

    If so, it won’t matter much in terms of shifting public opinion.

    I don’t know whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

  • You’re basically saying the glass is half full when in fact it’s three-quarters empty.

    Farage won a huge majority with the general audience. He also impressed his own supporters to a far greater extent than Clegg impressed his (by 93 to 77). These figures are a bit of a disaster for Clegg.

    Sadly I didn’t see any of the debate because neither the Lib Dem nor LBC streams were working when I tried them at 7:05, so I’ll have to wait for the next one.

    Anyway, a lot of people on the LDV Twitter feed last night seemed to be totally missing the point of the Yougov poll. It wasn’t asking people who they support – it asked people to ignore their allegiances and say who they thought performed best. This makes Clegg’s showing all the worse.

  • Clegg lost: accept it. His line of argument was a laboured claim that jobs would be lost and we would head for economic disaster.No one knows how future economies will pan out – not even the so-called economic experts who get it wrong so often.Clegg would not answer Farage’s claim that multi millions could travel to the UK anytime they wanted to so.Why? Because he could not deny the truth of the statement. Moreover, he did not address the fact that the EU is anti democratic and that Westminster is not fully in control of the laws of the UK. I predicted that Clegg would stick with the ecomomic ( scare story) argument and so he did ad nauseum.

  • I think Nick did well given that Farage can get away with bandying about inaccurate but populist caims whereas Nick has to stick to facts. My suggestions for how Nick could do even better next week would be:

    1) Take on Farage’s main line of attack that 485 million people could come here at any moment. Nick tried to deflect this into a point about benefits but that looked evasive. Instead just tackle it head on. First, point out that even if other Europeans can move here in theory, the evidence of the past 30 years is that the vast majority (his team can no doubt find the exact percentage) haven’t and won’t! Second, point out that when our economy has been struggling due to the mess Labour got us in, the German economy was doing well and all 63 million of us could, if we wished, have upped sticks to Germany. But again, we didn’t. Or when we retire, every single one of us could move to the Costa Brava. Each year a few thousand of us do, but again the vast majority don’t. And third, there’s also free movement within the UK. So Farage could just as well issue dire warnings that up to 63 million people could move without warning to Aberdeen and therefore Aberdeen needs to withdraw from the UK. Again, it’s a stupid argument that in theory people have this right and therefore in practice we must pull up the drawbridge.

    2) Perhaps at some point raise the fact that when other Europeans do move here, almost by definition we are getting the people with most gumption/get-up-and-go/entrepreneurial spirit. And we are lucky to be getting them. Maybe point to all of the established communities of people – Italians in Wales, the Portuguese in Lambeth, Cypriots in north London (folk like Theo Paphitis) etc, who play a big part in our economy.

    3) Hammer home the point about Farage and co voting against things that are good for the UK purely because of their anti-EU obsession. Find some more examples beyond translators for people arrested.

    4) At some stage mention what the EU has done on things like cleaner beaches and lower phone roaming charges – more relevant to more people than things like the European Arrest Warrant.

    5) Do more of mentioning the comments by Honda, Siemens, Nissan etc about reducing investment if we leave.

    6) Hammer Farage for the comment he made about cars produced in Germany being better than cars produced here, which was a pretty blatant slur on our car industry and the people who work in it. Call on him to apologise for what he said. Point out the car industry is jobs across the UK whereas Farage would turn us into a mini-Singapore, helping only his ex-stockbroker colleages and those who’d do away with all workplace regulation.

    7) Bring up Farage’s bizarre position on equal marriage again, and throw in the stuff on the flooding being linked to it and some of UKIP’s odd policies form the last election.

    8) Do a section on reforms we want to see made to the EU, to show we are not defending it as it is but want to see it improve.

    9) As mentioned by a commenter on another thread, explain that it’s not giving up sovereignty to Brussels but each member state sharing it with the others for the common good. And point out we have some decent MEPs in Brussels (UKIP excepted), our Ministers are good at arguing for what we want, and a highly effective Embassy to the EU who shape what emerges.

    10) Adopt exactly the same tone as last night – Nick never lost his rag and came across as enthusiastic, rational and focused on facts and jobs – just right!

  • “The disparity between supporters of pro-EU parties thinking Clegg won, and the overall opinion suggests this debate was speaking primarily to the staunch anti-EU brigade.”

    No – the sample was weighted to be representative of the whole population as regards attitudes to EU membership. It would therefore have been broadly balanced between the ‘in’ and ‘out’ sides.

    The margin by which Farage won, according to that poll, is just too large for this to be spun as a success for Clegg.

    I think the media will pay more attention to the debate on BBC2. Clegg really needs to perform better in that one.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Mar '14 - 10:40am

    Clegg failed to use what ought to be the main line of attack on UKIP: they get a lot of support on the basis of a vague “we’ll turn the clock back and make things how they used to be basis”, but the reality is they support extremely extreme free market economics, underneath their main gripe with the EU is the way that its international co-operation works against the power of the financial elite (of which Farage is a member as a previous commodities broker), and it is the move to this sort of economics and the domination by the financial elite which has destroyed most of those aspects of Britain that UKIP’s naive supporters are nostalgic about.

    Perhaps if Clegg and his advisers weren’t so starry-eyed about right-wing economics themselves, they’d have been able to use this theme. Perhaps if Clegg and his advisers weren’t so much from the social elite, they’d be able to devise ways of getting across better to non-elite types – in the way our party once had such expertise in doing when the ALC was so influential in directing its campaigning.

    It is astonishing that UKIP which at its heart is about right-wing economics is getting most of its electoral support from people whose are anxious about and suffering from the effects of 35 years of right-wing economics. It is a mark of complete incompetency on behalf of the pro-EU side that they have not managed to show up this total contradiction that lies at the heart of UKIP. It is the same sort of elitist out-of-touch incompetency that led to us losing the AV referendum.

    An important rule for political campaigning is that you should not attack your opponents in a way that builds up their own propaganda. Farage’s propaganda is that he is a man of the people, someone who wants to turn the clock back and make Britain like it used to be – but he is not, he’s a banker type, and his policies would do the opposite, they would turn Britain into a bolt hole for the world’s financial elite, pushing up property prices and marginalising British people, in the way that is happening now, but more so. So the attacks on Farage which make him out to be an old-fashioned conservative patriotic type are just boosting him by helping build up this utterly false image he has been allowed to get away with creating.

  • Peter Chegwyn 27th Mar '14 - 10:52am

    I tried watching the debate in a Wetherspoons pub but gave up as none of the other people there were interested in the debate – they just wanted to laugh and make jokes about Clegg. And that’s our wider problem. Many people don’t want to listen to our Leader however good he may be. They’re not that interested in Europe. They just regard Nick Clegg as a figure of fun (at best) and someone they seriously dislike (at worst).

    Two other points:

    i) The anti-EU, pro-UKIP audience were always more likely to watch the debate, the rest of the public aren’t that interested in Europe, Clegg or Farage. This helps explain the YouGov poll findings. More of the people who watched were sympathetic to the UKIP view at the start and so were always more likely to say Farage won. The problem is that the rest of the public have since been fed a simple newline: Farage won, Clegg lost.

    ii) Looking ahead, I can see the Conservative & Labour parties using the Farage v Clegg debates as an argument for having separate Cameron v Miliband ‘Prime Ministerial’ debates at next year’s General Election with separate Farage v Clegg debates for the minor parties. That would be a disaster for the Lib. Dems. relegating us to the political sidelines. Of course our side will resist it but the precedent for ‘split’ debates has been set. For us, that might be the most damaging legacy of the Farage v Clegg Euro debates.

  • @Mark
    “Again, it’s a stupid argument that in theory people have this right and therefore in practice we must pull up the drawbridge.”

    I agree with everything you say here about immigration. But the problem with Nick Clegg saying such sensible things is that this is the same Nick Clegg who in 2010 was proposing to bring in what Andrew Stunnel has since called a 1930s-Germany-style policy of “preventing” immigrants from moving to certain parts of the country (specifically, the South) because there wasn’t enough water and other resources to support them. So Nigel Farage could easily counter by asking Clegg why, if he was so concerned about foreigners using all our water then, he can be so relaxed about those 485 million possible arrivals now. (Perhaps Clegg could counter-counter by saying the South now has plenty of water after the floods, allowing him to turn the debate to UKIP’s policy on equal marriage..?)

    Unfortunately, though the Lib Dems do say more sensible things about immigration about any of the other parties, some of their immigration policies at the last election were as off the wall as anything UKIP have ever come up with, and if Farage has any sense he will exploit that.

  • “The anti-EU, pro-UKIP audience were always more likely to watch the debate, the rest of the public aren’t that interested in Europe, Clegg or Farage. This helps explain the YouGov poll findings.”

    No it doesn’t. YouGov weighted the sample to be representatives of attitudes to EU membership. In the last YouGov poll that was 37% in favour, 43% against – nothing like the huge margin who thought Clegg had lost the debate.

  • @Matthew Huntbach – >>Perhaps if Clegg and his advisers weren’t so starry-eyed about right-wing economics themselves, they’d have been able to use this theme. Perhaps if Clegg and his advisers weren’t so much from the social elite, they’d be able to devise ways of getting across better to non-elite types – in the way our party once had such expertise in doing when the ALC was so influential in directing its campaigning.<<

    Agree 100% Matthew!

  • 23% of Lib Dems DON’T think Nick won? A little worrying, n’est pas?

  • “23% of Lib Dems DON’T think Nick won? A little worrying, n’est pas?”

    The other thing is that according to a YouGov poll in December, Lib Dem supporters split 65 to 23 on the ‘in/out’ question.

    One danger is that Nick Clegg’s “party of in” strategy could be seen as an invitation for between a quarter and a third for the party’s current supporters not to vote Lib Dem in the Euro elections!

  • Oh dear. Watching Daily Politics now. The 7% figure is being disputed. Ukip chap says ‘read the small print’ ouch!

  • Interesting how the right wing press are spinning this.

    Neither the Mail nor the Telegraph reports the poll results on their front pages. Instead both go on Farage’s comments on Ukraine.

    Clearly Tory supporting papers are still terrified Farage will get a boost from this at the Conservatives’ expense.

  • The representative sample may have been asked “Who beat who?” but I don’t believe that’s the question they answered. Given the tribalism of the two largest parties and the insanity of UKIP thinking otherwise seems naive.
    Liberal democrat voters answered “Who debated most effectively?” biased somewhat by how Farage’s performance was in no way targeted at us;
    UKIP voters answered “Do you support UKIP?” and answered predictably;
    Conservative voters answered “Do you want to exit the EU?”
    and Labour voters answered “Do you hate Nick Clegg more than Nigel Farage?”.
    From this perspective all of the results of the poll make sense, and were completely predictable beforehand.

  • jedibeeftrix 27th Mar '14 - 1:21pm

    @ mark – facts like the three million jobs?

  • Mark “Take on Farage’s main line of attack that 485 million people could come here at any moment”

    I think he actually claims that 485m people HAVE THE RIGHT to come here. He is not saying they WILL all come.

  • UKIP-ers don’t like foreigners having that right,whether all of them come or not. This is part if the ‘losing sovereignty’ argument.

  • Mark ” even if other Europeans can move here in theory, the evidence of the past 30 years is that the vast majority (his team can no doubt find the exact percentage) haven’t and won’t”

    The difficulty is that a MILLION Poles DID come! After everyone assumed that they wouldn’t come in such large numbers! It’s hard to argue your point when the evidence of sudden, mass immigration is right in front of us, washing our cars, cleaning our hotels and serving at our restaurants. (and I’m in favour of immigration) .

  • Peter Watson 27th Mar '14 - 2:19pm

    @Mark “Take on Farage’s main line of attack that 485 million people could come here at any moment. … Perhaps at some point raise the fact that when other Europeans do move here, almost by definition we are getting the people with most gumption/get-up-and-go/entrepreneurial spirit.”
    I don’t disagree with your arguments, but I think the weakness of this in a debate is:
    (1) Farage can still play on the fear that 485 million people could come
    (2) Farage can counter with the notion of a work permit scheme that ensures only those with the most value and entrepreneurial spirit can come.

  • Interesting debate!

    Jedi – yes, I’d include the three million figure provided Nick states (as he was careful to last night) that these are jobs LINKED TO our EU membership – not “dependent on”. None of this is an exact science. And as Nick put very well, even if it isn’t three million, what level of job losses does Farage think is fine?

    Matthew, GP – yes, if I was Nick I would use the stockbrokers’ friend/greater Singapore argument. Poeple hate bankers more than Europe! And more on how UKIP would cut a swathe through basic workers’ rights. UKIP are as weirdly obsessed with “health and safety” and “red tape” (but all of it, not just the extreme end!) as they are with Europe.

    Phyllis, Peter – how would you argue this one then if you were Nick? On the “they COULD come” point, maybe a straighforward “and yes, we might be hit by an asteroid, but we don’t obsess over that to the exclusion of everything else”?

    One thing I forgot to include but have seen elsewhere and agree with – yes, pick up on Farage’s weird apparent fondness for other northern Europeans and loathing for anyone born anywhere near the Med. What’s that all about? He was quite careful not to stray over the line of what it is acceptable to say in polite company but a pretty clear dog whistle message. Is it because his wife is German and Nick’s wife is Spanish?!

  • PS Stuart – I think you, me and the LD hierarchy are all agreed that was a poor policy (the regional distribution of migrants) and that’s why it has been junked! If Farage brings it up I would suggest Clegg simply say, “that was a policy we thought was worth trying at the time but since then we have conluded it wouldn’t work”.

  • Peter Tyzack 27th Mar '14 - 5:11pm

    Peter Chegwyn, I wonder how many of the bar-room pundits in Whetherspoons will actually bother to vote..? and as regards Poll weightings, any poll is weighted in favour of the particular peccadillo of the client paying for it, how else do pollsters stay in business. Polls are worse than worthless, they actually distort the views of the populace by deluding them into thinking the results are reliable.. have you ever been a poll respondent??

  • “and as regards Poll weightings, any poll is weighted in favour of the particular peccadillo of the client paying for it, how else do pollsters stay in business”

    Well, if you really don’t like the result of a poll, I suppose you can always suggest the pollster is lying about the weightings, and has been paid to publish a misleading result. But I don’t think that kind of stuff will convince many people.

  • Julian Tisi 27th Mar '14 - 5:45pm

    Mark – thanks for your excellent comments. Very helpful.

  • Peter Chegwyn 27th Mar '14 - 6:10pm

    Peter Tyzack – Several of the ‘bar-room pundits in Wetherspoons’ vote Lib. Dem. in local council elections here and even put up posters… but I suspect few if any of them will vote Lib. Dem. for Europe or for Clegg in 2015. They like what Lib. Dem. councillors do locally. They don’t like Nick Clegg nationally.

    Adrian Sanders – Thank you! We’re obviously both thinking the same.

  • Peter Chegwyn 27th Mar '14 - 6:14pm

    Oh, and Peter Tyzack, yes I have been a poll respondent, many times, and worked for polling companies as well as employing them many times to conduct polls for my own business clients. You may think ‘Polls are worse than worthless’. I don’t!

  • It went pretty much as I thought it would. Farage looking shifty and vague. Clegg coming across as a well briefed professional. But the reality is that this was a debate with a predetermined winner. For the mostly Right Wing press this was not really about Europe or UKIP v Lib Dems. It’s actually about the soul of the Conservative party and where editorials think it should be in 2015.

  • “It went pretty much as I thought it would. Farage looking shifty and vague. Clegg coming across as a well briefed professional.”

    Now if your assessment had been the other way round, you’d have been accused by the loyalists of being prejudiced … 🙂

  • David Evans 28th Mar '14 - 7:24am

    Sadly to most people Nick comes over as a “well briefed professional” politician whom very few people trust, including a large part of the party he leads, and an even larger part of the much bigger party he used to lead (in 2010).

  • Nick’s problem is that he is a heavyweight but looks and sounds like a lightweight, and can he please stop waving his hands around, it looks contrived.

    Might it also be worth mentioning that our seventy years of peace in Europe began with the European Coal and Steel Community which led to etc. etc. What’s not to like about that? What’s not to like about combined commemorations of the first war involving the combatants on the western front? Not sure if we’ll get Putin to take part but this plays into the desire of other nations to be part of our stability.

  • Hold on folks are we thinking this through? If 485 million Europeans did move to this rain-sodden island doesn’t that mean we would have nearly the whole of the rest of Europe to ourselves? Baggsy a villa in the south of France.

  • AndrewR : thank you for the first laugh of the day 😀

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th Mar '14 - 7:36pm

    Robin Lynn

    Nick’s problem is that he is a heavyweight but looks and sounds like a lightweight, and can he please stop waving his hands around, it looks contrived.

    For as long as I’ve been a member of the party, there’s been a pattern – the party does well by coming across as something a bit different from conventional politics, there’s then a call “What we need is to look more like serious conventional politicians”, somehow people with that way of thinking emerge at the top and take it over, the party slumps in support, and we start again. It’s what happened with the SDP with their “We’ll show you sleepy Liberals how to win votes”, and it’s what’s happened with Clegg’s “If they see me standing at the dispatch box in Parliament, looking like a proper politician, they’ll respect us”. It’s been the long-term theme with the initial exciting idea of community politics taken over and turned into dreary ad-man’s brand management. And so much else in big ways and small ways.

  • Helen Dudden 30th Mar '14 - 8:52am

    Nick Clegg is thinking of supporting the Labour Party, now that is worrying.

    I joined the Labour Party of 21` years of supporting both Don Foster MP and the Lib Dems. Don’t like the views of your Party on subjects like the “bedroom tax.”

    In Bath, the Lib Dems were wishing to cut children’s services to those in need.

  • Maybe on your planet, Jedi, but some of us old Liberals held power longer and with greater success then Clegg.
    In fact some of us were in power when Clegg was being launched into politics by his father’s banking chum Ken Clarke, along with next door neighbour Lord Carrington and his first employer Lord Brittan. We just cannot understand why he ended up in a party other than your Conservtive Party.

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