Curtice warns that YouGov poll putting Reform ahead proves ‘things are going backwards’ for Tories

The YouGov poll putting Reform ahead of the Tories for the first time has divided two of Britain’s leading polling experts over the real state of support for Nigel Farage’s party.

Professor Sir John Curtice suggested on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that while Reform’s average rating of 16 percent in the polls “may be slightly on the high side” he believes it is around 15 percent.

The average 16 percent rating for polls was the finding of Techne UK fo The Independent yesterday.

The polling guru put the rise in support for the rightwing party down to Nigel Farage’s decision to run in the general election as a candidate in Clacton and said that the results of surveys “fit the broad trends” of the election so far.

John Curtice believes Labour and the Tories are going backwards (Getty Images)
John Curtice believes Labour and the Tories are going backwards (Getty Images)

Prof Curtice warned that both the Tories and Labour are “going backwards” since the election was called with the Tories four points below their starting point and Labour three points down on average.

He suggested that with the Tories averaging 20 percent in the five polls in the last 24 hours noted, Reform are now “four or five points behind.”

The renowned pollster went on: “One has to say however one looks at it [rReform] may be four or five points behind [instead of ahead of the tories] but this is still bad news for the Conservatives.

“The only way Rishi Sunak could get to base camp was to squeeze the Reform vote. Things are going backwards not least because of Nigel Farage’s decision to fight this campaign.”

However, he said that the picture is not as rosy as it may seem for Labour either and suggested that the Lib Dems are now taking votes of Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

Farage claimed Reform are the opposition to Labour now (BBC)
Farage claimed Reform are the opposition to Labour now (BBC)

He noted that at the start of the election one in three 2019 Lib Dem voters were preparing to vote Labour but “are now going back to the Lib Dems” who are averaging 12 percent with their average vote going up by two points over the course of the election.

“Both the Conservatives and Labour are losing ground to smaller parties,” he said.

However, another pollster and Tory peer Lord Robert Hayward hasd told The Independent that he is sceptical of the polls.

Lord Hayward has noted over the election campaign and in the months up to the election being called that when voters actually vote the result is different to the picture in the polls.

Lord Hayward was the one who predicted that the Labour lead in 1992 was wrong and that the Tories would get a surprise victory although this time he believes Labour will win but not by as much as suggested.

He pointed to the latest council by-election last night in Greenwich which was won by the tories as part of a trend of by-election wins or strong performances for Rishi Sunak’s party at local government level.

He said: “This was a better result over Labour than 2022 when Labour topped the poll in a split three member result.

“The YouGov poll will be all over the place but last night in a marginal split ward in a marginal seat - Chislehurt and Eltham - the Conservatives beat Labour and received six times as many votes as Reform.

“Reform put in a real effort. i went there twice and saw Reform campaigning hard.”

He has previously noted that while the polls are worse for the Tories now than in 2022 asnd 2023, they are producing better results in elections than in those two years. These included the May local elections where the Conservatives easily outdid their poll rating to an extent that if the result was predicted there would be a hung parliament.

This included the mayoral races in London, the West Midlands and Teesside.

Lord Hayward said: “The polls are all over the place. YouGov is getting the publicity but is in a small field of outliers. Labour still has a clear lead but not as per YouGov.

“On one day this week Tories led Reform by 1 percent, 9 percent and 15 percent depending on which poll you looked at.”

He has questioned both the collection and calculation methods of the polling companies.