While the 16 point Tory lead on Sunday provided big headlines and no doubt cheered up Conservatives across the country, I suspect even the most rabid Tory suspected in their heart that it was probably an outlier and that the lead would return to more normal levels in the next YouGov poll. The latest ICM poll however suggests there may indeed have been some sort of shift in public opinion.

The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian has topline voting intention figures, with changes from their poll conducted last week, of CON 42%(+2), LAB 29%(-2), LDEM 21%(+1). The poll was conducted between the 14th and 16th, so would have included David Cameron’s speech to the Tory spring conference.

The Conservative lead of 13 points is the largest I can find looking back at ICM polls since 1987. While it’s smaller than the 16 point lead the Tories enjoyed with YouGov at the weekend, this seems to be a pattern between ICM and YouGov recently – the higher levels of Lib Dem support reported by ICM are at the expense of the Tories. Whichever pollster is correct, they seem to be interpreting the same underlying position.

Asked about who they trust more with the economy, ICM found an 8 point lead for the Conservatives, 40% to 32%.

It appears that, for whatever reason, the budget has heralded a fall in confidence in Labour’s economic management and a decisive switch towards the Conservatives. While we’ve got a couple of polls confirming it, what we can’t tell is whether it will last at all. If it does we are in a new game – it’s the sort of lead where David Cameron is going to stop facing questions about why he isn’t doing better, and is instead going to end up facing more criticism from his own troops about why he isn’t being bolder. Labour would start facing assumptions of their defeat in the media and itchy backbenchers with the minds focused by possible unemployment.

UPDATE: Tables now up on ICM’s website here. The difference between the lead here and the lead in YouGov’s poll was actually mostly down to ICM’s topline adjustment for the “spiral of silence” – the theory that some people who say don’t know are actually supporters of an unpopular party who are too bashful to admit it to the interviewer. While people still refer to this an as adjustment to make up for “shy Tories”, for the past five years at least it’s normally favoured “shy Labourites”. This month ICM’s unadjusted figures would have been CON 43%, LAB 28%, LDEM 21%.


88 Responses to “Now ICM shows double-digit Tory lead”

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  1. I suspect what has hurt labour about the budget is that whether people thought the tax increases were right or not they were still tax increases.

    Therefore if we divide the public into those who agree, disagree and the “floaters”.

    I doubt that there will be many people who agree with higher drink or car taxes who would switch to Labour because of it, as most people who support these measures probably support Labour or Libdem and LibDems have other reasons not to vote Labour.

    On the other hand those that don’t agree especially on alcohol or think they already pay enough tax may well have been given the push they need to leave Labour.

    As to the floaters I think with rising inflation and clouds on the horizon they may feel that though it’s not fair to blame the government, but that it doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.

    So the increases aren’t seen as all together fair and from a government that doesn’t seem to be able to turn it around, enough to vote for change.

    Brown and Darlings attempts to portray it as a global thing and in effect “nothing to do with them” hasn’t worked, while Cameron playing Joseph in the technicolour coat with is ” spent in the fat years” line, seems to have struck a chord.

    As I have said before Browns media handling is less a clunking fist and more a ham one.

    Lastly we should remember that if you give people a tax cut they tend to say “about time to we were taxed to much” while if you raise it, then watch out.

    I’ve always liked this quote from the Hobbit as it sums up the public reaction at times like this….

    “His rage passes description – the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted.”

    Most of the people who welcomed the Tory move on inheritance tax probably wouldn’t have had to pay it but they still felt that they were being unfairly treated.

    End result enough to make a couple of percent maybe as much as 3% to switch, but if it’s from Labour straight to the Tories that turns an 65 lead in to a 12% one….

    Peter.

  2. Well this is disasterous news for Labour. All the evidence now points to the fact they have lost ground because of economic management. Indeed, poll after poll is now showing the Tories leading on the question of; Who would best manage the economy? This is the first time in New Labour’s hhistory that they haven’t had the high ground over the economy and now confidence has slipped it may prove incredibly difficult to get it back – Particularly if you think that economic conditions will continue to worsen for the forseeable future.

  3. The most interesting thing I notice from the weekend polls is that the large Tory gains seem to have come directly from Labour. With 4 recent polls (including mayoral poll) with good sample sizes show there seems to be big shift.

    The question is why?.

    Is it a poorly received budget and the tax increases that have resulted.

    An increasing decline in the future outlook of the economy and people starting to blame labour.

    Ed Balls’ “So What” comment during Camerons’ reply to the budget and the negative coverage it received in the press (Daily Express etc).

    Is it down to labour’s refusal to hold a referendum on the EU Treaty and the recent vote in the house.

    Or it down to David Cameron appearing on ITV with his family showing him as likeable, ordinary family man in contrast to Gordon Brown.

  4. Looking at the polls at the end of Nov/early Dec , the Labour position was almost as bad as now and they had pretty much recovered it before last week . It is still possible for them to recover again but it will take rather longer now .

  5. The Tories could be set for some important gains in London and elsewhere on May 1st if these polls are correct.

  6. Jmaie, its all of the above, except probably Europe (which I don’t believe would make enough people switch to really make much differance)

    Mark, of course the big differance to the Labour collapse in November, from which the partially seemed to recover, is that in November they were still seen as economically competent, and the vote collpase was down to a polititical decision, rather than economics. As this is the first time in their history that New Labour has got into trouble over the economy, its very difficult to say how much damage it will do and what it means for Labour long term prospects.

  7. Jamie, its all of the above, except probably Europe (which I don’t believe would make enough people switch to really make much differance in national polls)

    Mark, of course the big differance to the Labour collapse in November, from which they partially seemed to recover, is that in November they were still seen as economically competent, and the vote collapse was down to a polititical decision, rather than economics.

    As this is the first time in their history that New Labour has got into trouble over the economy, its very difficult to say how much damage it will do and what it means for Labours long term prospects.

    (reposted for spelling)

  8. ICM’s polls have put the parties closer than some other pollsters until recently so to have a result
    like this means something seismic is happening and it has happened since the Budget.

    IMHO the general public are now beginning to feel the pinch of constantly escalating price increases and the Budget(for some people) was clearly a watershed in that in this time,of relative economic hardship, the Government was seen to do little to help the situation apart from raise taxes further.

    The “Feel Good Factor” is well and truly gone.

    Its hard to know where we go from here but that’s 3 polls in a row since the Budget where the previous mould has been broken.

    I look for the next tranche of polls to confirm this trend. Labour have clearly lost the moral high ground on the economy and almost certainly the next general election whch won’t now be until 2010.

  9. Jamie – I’m not convinced that the public know who Ed Balls is, let alone what he said during a budget response, and if you’re reading The Express you probably weren’t a fan anyway.

    It’s simpler than that, they’re feeling the pinch financially and are blaming the government, which is being re-enforced by bad press for the budget and the economy in general.

  10. KTL The end of November ICM poll had Conservatives with a 11% lead which did not last long . I agree that this time it will be harder and take longer for Labour to recover but they have 2 years to do so and probably will to some extent , the crux is by how much they will recover .

  11. @KTL
    “this means something seismic is happening and it has happened since the Budget.”

    I just got a £1100 council tax bill for a band B property. Felt pretty seismic to me.

  12. We are still no nearer answering the great conundrum as to whether Yougov or ICM are giving the right sort of levels for LibDem support .
    Looking at Yougov their figure for LibDems in their latest poll for the South of England was 15% if true a LibDem wipeout . ICM/NofW figure for the South was 27% ( higher than at the last GE ) if true minimal if any LibDem losses to the Conservatives .
    These figures are clearly incompatible . FWIW local election results would point to ICM being nearer the truth .

  13. these are the first polls to show Tory support at 40% or over when the Lib Dem support has held at 20% or over. Before the assumption was that the Tories were benefitting from a poor LibDem showing however this could now not be the case with what seems like Labour support starting to split to the Tories and LibDems

  14. Mark, we all know that the Lib-Dems do better in by elections than they do in general elections. I suspect the Lib-Dem position, in a general election, will come out somewhere between ICM and YouGov, but probably nearer YouGov.

  15. Fascinating. I never would have thought the budget could have had such a negative effect on Labour. Will these own goals by Labour ever stop?

  16. How can you have confidence in the government, when it is telling us all save more and borrow less,and then does the complete opposite

  17. whats clear is that if labour do have some sort of limeted come back, it may come from the LD’s and not the conservatives the best chance to see what could happen in 2009/2010 is the up coming local elections to english and welsh councils and the london mayor, if labour poll as bad as in 2006 or lower it could be the final knock-out blow to labour or even the LD’s if their vote drops theirs all to play for and this time with a more even pitch to play on it’s anyones games, at this rate to Con’s could hang on to coventry and that is very bad for the other parties and also some more gains on birmingham council for the Con’s as well. current polling put labour down by about 200-300 seats the lib dems down 100+ and the Con’s up by around 300-350 seats somthing we have not said is the BNP could make gains, big gains at that on some councils in say Yorkshire and a few maybe on other councils but i do hope not as racist right wings like them and others should not stand for council or any other form of elections and if they do they should be voted out and banned from standing ever again, but another good poll for the conservatives, current running average of top line figues for this month is:

    CON 40.5 +7.3 on last GE (+0.8 this month so far)
    LAB 30.3 -5.8 on last GE (-2.7 this month so far)
    LD 19.0 -3.6 on last GE (+2.0 this month so far)
    OTH 10.2 +2.1 on last GE (-0.1 this month so far)

    CON LEAD 10.2% over LABOUR

  18. And it goes on….Hindsight is a wonderful thing ! The only thing that still bothers me about the logic of the British public – is that this government has lasted 11 years at all – i could understand them wanting a change in 1997 – but after seeing what was elected – went on and elected them again and again !!

    Tony’s “teflon” has indeed worn off – but at what cost in many terms after 11 years .

    I saw and felt the need for change in the British electorate way back in mid 2007 – the British wanted an election to oust the government at the end of 2007 – but that chance was taken from them – now they are fed up of waiting and it’s showing more and more in the POLLS !

  19. Perhaps as i quoted in autumn 2007 – that Brown had called an election and the Tories had won as i predicted they would , and they would have ! Brown would have lost by a smaller margin and looked less foolish – but now at each election and finally at the general election both the Labour and Liberal Parties will be dessimated nationally.

  20. WMA is 41:31:18. And FWIW my guess was that the true situation was 41:30:18.

    I think the basic problem is that the voters no longer believe in Brown’s claim to be economically competent. As I said last year, pretty well all serious people had disbelieved this some time ago, and it is beginning to sink in. With the result that economic turbulence no longer helps Brown, it helps sink him. Note how pretty well everyone agreed in the youGov poll that the govt wasted taxpayers money. Serious people will of course contrast the way in which the US handled Bear Sterns with the Northern Rock fiasco.

  21. I think the dramatic switch is due less to the budget and more to the sense of despair about the economy in general – the news is contiual doom and gloom on the media about the world outlook, mortgage repossession, credit crunch etc. I guess the result of the next general election hangs on the outcome of the current global slow down. If things right themselves over the next year then it will be all to play play, if not….

  22. If Cameron is called upon to be bolder (on tax, Europe, immigration) then there’ll be less chance of a change in Brown’s approach, as he’ll simply point the finger at Old Tory-dom.

    Calls from the right for the wholesale privatisation of public services might tempt Brown to play out the old arguments in the hope that his argument will prevail again.

    Already I hear right-wingers saying the voters got it wrong in 97, and that we’d have been better off with the Conservatives. (ie no the minimum wage, less public sector investment, higher unemployment, no BofE independence).

    Bit partisan, but I find it quite offensive to read Mike Richardson’s comments about my level of logic/intelligence.

    I get the sense of a loss of purpose and direction in Labour, rather than a great energising uplift for Cameron. Brown needs to get hold of some new ideas and start selling them effectively. Still up to two years to go.

    Ideas don’t necessarily cost money.

  23. I think that the reasons are fairly straight forward. Brown/Labour have had an unwaveringly bad press for six months, the global economy is stuttering (but still the effects on the UK may not come to much), and it has been 11 years since the Tories, so people have forgotten how tired they were.

    It also shows how out of touch I am. When I see a politician on TV with their family, it makes my skin crawl!!!!

    Personally I think Cameron is okay, but I have my concerns about the party. I think they will fall apart over Europe at the first instance. I’m just glad the Treaty should be out of the way by then.

  24. jon tt – i’d agree that the slump is down to Labour’s failings more than any great Tory revival. For whatever reason (part bad luck, part his own fault) Brown seems to have become mired in the minutiae of government and is coming across as more of administrator of the country than a leader.

    I’d be interesting to know what Cameron’s approval rating is compared to Blair’s at a similar period in opposition. It might provide an insight into whether people are liking the Tories or disliking Labour. Anyone have any figures?

  25. With about 26 months to go before the next election there’s still all to play for. Labour’s chances will depend on (1) whether the current global financial turmoil dissipates by the end of this year (2) whether Brown and his team are eventually seen as having steered the country safely through the choppy waters (3) whether Cameron and friends can convince the public that they really have a ‘moderate’ agenda. Also, the electoral arithmetic seems to indicate that Labour will benefit if the Lib Dems hold up close to their performance in recent general elections and if there’s some peeling off of disgruntled right-wing Tories to UKIP or similar. I would agree with some of the less partisan views in this thread that the public haven’t warmed to Cameron and friends and I wonder whether they ever will really trust a bunch of old Etonians.

  26. “and I wonder whether they ever will really trust a bunch of old Etonians”
    What’s the fact that they are a tiny number of Old Etonians in the party got to do with trust?

  27. John tt I agree with much of what you say,its stupid to say voters get it wrong whichever party wins an election, you may have personal views either way but the results dont lie,if people are not happy with a government they will vote them out and keep them out!
    Maybe that time has now come for Labour,many people over the years have reluctantly put up with the creeping tax burden but things seem to be unraveling now
    Huge increases in household bills, petrol prices,etc along with the tax burden it is becoming a bit scarey, and if the government are unable to reduce interest rates you can`t see things getting much better in the near future.
    I do agree with Mike regarding GB decision not to call a GE in the Autumn, I have mentioned this before I feel he shot himself and his party in the foot, it sent out the message of no confidence in the British Public to decide for themselves, whether or not we were going in the right direction with GB and NU Labour,I belive that no confidence will be returned in a big way unless “events” intervine

  28. There does sometimes seem to be a tired feel to the government (akin to the later Major years) – but, despite the very partisan reactions of many contributors here, I detect disappointment but no general hatred of Labour (as there was for the Conservatives) – and no great enthusiasm for the alternatives either.

    Budgets come and go, and generally make little long-term impact on opinion. It is far more likely that the present dip in Labour support is due to the unrelenting “doom and gloom” – and the government will inevitably, even if unfairly, get the blame. But the gloom still remains a theoretical possibility rather than an actual recession.

    The whole political future probably balances on what actually happens over the rest of this year. If we get through relatively unscathed, opinion is likely to accept that it was caused mainly by problems originating in America and the government helped to see it through. But if we are badly affected, the government will be blamed.

    To a lesser extent it also, as always, depends partly on “events” – luck! And here, Labour has avoided any major bad press stories for several months, while the Conservatives have mis-fired on many of the attacks they hoped would wound Labour. For example, all the fuss over the Lisbon Treaty will have faded to insignificance in a year or two.

    So, while the most recent poll results are potentially significant, they would only be terminal if the general election was going to take place this year. As that is MOST unlikely, any predictions based on them are as tentative as those based on what looked like the beginning of a Labour recovery a month or so ago, before the global markets looked like going into melt-down. We are in a more turbulent period, economically and politically, than any time since the 1980s. (And don’t forget Major won his election, against all expectations).

  29. What does “NU” stand for and why is it appended to Labour?

    The fall-out from the non-election decision has lasted a few months, and I think was expected to last a while.

    Events like the news of the lost data (which I think had been known about at No 10 at the time), the credit crunch, the fact that Brown doesn’t have a “teflon” layer and seems to regard the media as less important (than Blair did).

    For Cameron to be the next PM there’d have to be a critical point of no return to healthy poll readings for Brown. I’m not sure we’ve reached it yet.

  30. “Others” appear to be gaining slightly on this Poll.

    The real surprise is that we did not start to get polls like this after the Northern Rock crisis, and the only explanation is that many voters still remember Tory performance on the ERM. Clearly people have now decided that the worsening economic situation, and Labour’s feeble budget reponse to it (though I don’t see how much different the other major parties could have done), means that Labour are even worse economic managers than the Conservatives.

    My hunch is that the die is now cast, just as the Tories were consistently shown as lame ducks in both polls and bye-elections between 1992 and 1997. This poll is a precursor of what we will get used to until the next election.

    The only major thing Labour could do about this situation is to ditch Brown as well as the Chancellor – which would presumably have to happen next Autumn. Perhaps it is time for the polling organisations to ask questions about how people would vote if Labour had a different Prime Minister. The problem with this is that, as Jon H points out in relation to Ed Balls, many voters have not even heard of the next generation of Labour politicians from which a new Labour Prime Minister would have to come.

    On this poll, Labour would be reduced to a rump of MPs of whome something like a quarter or a third would come from Scotland and Wales. There appears to be a substantial group of voters who vote nationalist in Scotland/Wales elections and Labour for Westminster. There is a long-term issue as to whether this group would continue to support Labour at Westminster if Labour lost office and the prospect of an early return, becuase presumably this group are voting pragmatically because of Labour’s high funding of services in Scotland and Wales. If a Labour opposition lost votes on a large scale to the Nationalists in 2014/2015, as Labour lost votes to the Lib Dems in the 1980s in marginals that went Tory in 1979/1983 (this would probably happen again too), Labour is in very serious trouble indeed (as is UK unity). Labour only survived the 1980s on support in the North, Wales and Scotland, and I doubt whether a future Labour rump could repeat this trick.

    This poll and the previous ICM one should kick into touch the idea that the next election will depend on a tiny number of electors in selected marginals.

  31. John tt; Sorry I dont know why I wrote “NU” Labour I think I must have seen it posted here before and went with the flow

  32. Frederic – while the population don’t know or care who Ed Balls are, I actually think that that may work in his (and the other members of Labour’s next generation’s) favour.

    As I’ve said, I’m not convinced that this is a pro-Tory poll as much as an anti-Labour one. If this is true then a change of leadership and direction and a disowning of the old regime might be the best option for them.

    On the other hand if the world doesn’t go into economic meltdown (which is no certainty) and if Brown can catch a few months without a balls up and get a decent populist policy initiative or two out there, then it could all be very different.

    Cameron hasn’t really differentiated the Tories significantly (the possibility of tax cuts if they can be afforded in a hypothetical second term isn’t a real winner as far as populist policy goes) so his fortunes are very much in the wind.

  33. With respect I think many of you are missing the main point on whether it’s a pro Tory poll or just Labour struggleing with bad press.

    Think back to last October, Labour were in the lead in all the polls, then Cameron & Osborne anounce the Tories plans for inheritance tax and wham they take the lead in the polls, before Brown had made any decision and even though the plans would effect very few people.

    That tells me the public are once again starting look at Labour as the tax and spend party they have always been and that has to be very worrying for Labour.

  34. Jon H I disagree with the last part of your comment,I belive Cameron and the Tories have made a clever move in dismissing short term tax cuts and ruling them out in their first term, I think we all know that having low interest rates helps far more working people in this country than a few pence off income tax will ever do (except for the wealthy)
    But the message sent out by the Tories that they will over time reduce the tax burden, is something that the voters want to hear and belive WILL happen under the Tories, they also know this will never happen under a Brown government no matter how they try and spin it

  35. Glenn – I agree that the overall policy of bringing down the tax burden is a winner for the Tories (though personally I don’t agree with it) but I’m not sure that the delay plays the way you say.

    I think people vote emotionally on financial issues

    The parallel for the Tories matching the spending plans is New Labour doing the same but I don’t see this as being hugely relevant. The issue Labour had was how to answer questions around economic competence. While that’s not irrelevant for the Tories, it’s not the issue of the moment (I think the economy polls way below tax as an issue).

    The risk they have is that people elect them thinking it will get better and are disillusioned when it doesn’t. After all, if you’re not getting a low tax goverment with the Tories what are you getting.

  36. John H
    Bearing in mind John Major got a bigger popular vote than Tony, was Tony really that popular? [Tories sing less?]

    Of alternatively, does it matter? Avote cast agaisnt someone carries as much weight as one cast for someone.

    FWIW I don’t think the fervour with which Blair/Labour were greeted in 1997 will be repeated.

    Too much disillusionment followed. Which one of those cheering people wouldn’t have been stunned to silence if presented with a picture of what was to come in Iraq.

    Its arguable that after that, the country voted for Labour without enthusiasm, more against the Tories, who were still uninspiring and the greater of two electoral evils.

    Anthony.
    ‘Rabid Tory’? No idea what you mean [I’ll come to Mike in a minute]. We enjoyed You Gov but if anything are more surprised by this one continuing the theme.
    It will subside, inevitably, but its the narrative that may be set up if poor Labour polls/good Tory polls are maintained, even if not as dramatic, that will be interesting.

    Mike.
    Don’t know if you caught the Civil Serf blog, now terminated. But in contrast to ‘Teflon Tony’, Gordon is known as ‘Velcro’ [because everything sticks!]

  37. John H
    Bearing in mind John Major got a bigger popular vote than Tony, was Tony really that popular? [Tories sing less?]

    Of alternatively, does it matter? Avote cast agaisnt someone carries as much weight as one cast for someone.

    FWIW I don’t think the fervour with which Blair/Labour were greeted in 1997 will be repeated.

    Too much disillusionment followed. Which one of those cheering people wouldn’t have been stunned to silence if presented with a picture of what was to come in Iraq.

    Its arguable that after that, the country voted for Labour without enthusiasm, more against the Tories, who were still uninspiring and the greater of two electoral evils.

    Anthony.
    ‘Rabid Tory’? No idea what you mean [I’ll come to Mike in a minute]. We enjoyed You Gov but if anything are more surprised by this one continuing the theme.
    It will subside, inevitably, but its the narrative that may be set up if poor Labour polls/good Tory polls are maintained, even if not as dramatic, that will be interesting.

    Mike.
    Don’t know if you caught the Civil Serf blog, now terminated. But in contrast to ‘Teflon Tony’, Gordon is known as ‘Velcro’ [because everything sticks!]

  38. Sorry It told me I’d posted twice, but I just didn’t listen!

  39. Anthony – a general aside – can you recommend any good, readable books on polling? Nothing too statistical or academic, more the pop-science of polling.

  40. Jon H; I think I will have to agree to disagree with you on the tax issue, I also belive it will give the Tories a boost on the economic competence issue
    But I will be interested to how the Tories intend to spend public money if they get elected, they have said they will match Labour so it does not mean they will spend it in the same way, if the public are in tune with the way they intend to spend our hard earned cash, they could have a double wammy come election time, lower taxes over time and more efficient public spending plans, that has to be a vote winner if they can pull it off

  41. Jon H.”Bringing down the tax burden-personally I don’t agree with it” Are you saying that you believe governments/civil servants spend tax revenue wisely? It would be interesting to find someone prepared to agree, and to make the argument in favour.

  42. “We are still no nearer answering the great conundrum as to whether Yougov or ICM are giving the right sort of levels for LibDem support.”

    Could it be that the YouGov methodology is picking up more of a decline in the Libdems support in Scotland vs the ICM certainty to vote weighting?

  43. Bringing down the tax burden is a different concept from spending tax revenue (more) wisely.

    Cameron accepts that it is correct to raise and spend the enormous sums currently raised and spent. His only difference is that the sums should be spent more “wisely”.

    Hence Cameron a policy of building more “good schools” (presumably in contrast to Labour’s policy of building bad ones).

    Cameron also has pledged that the NHS should be “free at the point of NEED” . A subtle difference from Labour’s “free at the point of DELIVERY”, and I look forward to the definition of “need” being addressed if Cameron becomes PM!

  44. Collin, in short, no I’m not convinced that governments necessarily spend money wisely, but nor am I convinced that the free market works in the interests of individuals or society, nor that it is as efficient as some make out.

    One example: the amount spent on administration in the most heavily market driven healthcare system in the world, the United States, is per head greater than the total amount spent per head on the NHS in the UK. Yet despite this enormous expenditure and despite the obvious inefficiency of the NHS which one actually serves the people it serves better. Sure the very rich get great treatment but given the inefficiency, they’re paying through the nose for it.

    Given the choice between these two evils (market driven vs. nationalised) I would rather address public needs through a generally well meaning (if incompetent) semi-accountable government than through the entirely unaccountable market which has, at best, a very peripheral interest in the public good.

    Markets drive profit and efficiency and these are good, but they’re means to an end, not ends in themselves.

    And yes there are arguements about allowing people to make their own choices but *draws breath and prepares to be beaten up* there are too many examples of people making bad choices to take this as an absolute. I’m not saying that people are dumb or unable to look after themselves, I believe that they’re not given a chance.

    When talking about free markets economics talks about “perfect information”, that is that when people make purchasing decisions they understand the product, price and consequences perfectly.

    Under these circumstances I think people would make good decisions but when, to take one example, you’ve got McDonald’s marketing department outspending the health campaigns of various governments 10’s if not 100’s of pounds to one, that’s patently not a case.

    Because of this sort of thing it’s inevitable that many (not all) people will make bad decisions – the odds are so heavily stacked against them they can’t help it.

    So ultimately I like markets, I just believe that they’re a tool we should use rather than something we should be beholden to, and while I don’t especially think governments do a good job, I just think they’re less unappealing than the alternatives.

    Does that make sense?

    Oh, and for what it’s worth I earn enough that I’m putting my money where my mouth is believing and voting for this.

  45. I have changed my opinion over the years with regards to public spending, the evidence is now there that the only way to get value for money in all walks of life is through competion, as to how you can make that work with public services is a huge challenge, something that may be unpopular for a government in the short term, but I feel confident would benifit us all in the long term

  46. Chris , good question but no both Yougov and this ICM poll have LibDems at 16% in the North and Scotland combined . The Midlands/Wales figure at 18% is identical too . The BIG difference is in the South of England vote as I posted earlier .

  47. ICM have detailed data on their website of a special Wales survey done for BBC Wales . Unfortunately there is no voting question but a number of interesting questions on attitudes to the Welsh Assembly .
    One interesting question that struck me was that only 39% of those asked correctly answered who was running the Welsh Assembly ( Lab/Plaid) 26% thought Labour alone 10% Lab/LibDem 8 Plaid alone and 3% LibDem alone . Noone thought the Conservatives were running Wales .

  48. Glenn

    The really important things can only be done by the state – defence, police, Bank of England. And the British people have shown that some other essential provisions, eg the Health Service and Education, come into the same category (allowing private services to remain for those who want to pay extra). In nearly all of these there are some aspects where competitive private contributions can be used as part of the organisation – but I cannot imagine any political party being elected on a platform of privatising the NHS or schools. Some, and not just committed socialists, wish that Labour had been brave enough to restore the Railways to public ownership too.

    It is always open to politicians to look for “waste” – and as the workers and managers involved at all levels are human beings, no service will be 100% efficient. But as my near name-sake Jon H said, a comparison of the NHS and the American system shows how efficient (for the great majority) and how cost effective our system is, despite its many faults.

  49. Remember the argument about the use of official sta by the Gov.
    All is not well, as maany on this site thought!

    link

  50. It is not surprising that there has been a surge in anti-government fervour – there often is following a budget. The wealthy did very well under Thatcher budgets, just as the poor did well under Blair. The Tories are promising anything they think will win them votes: they are now promising more health visitors and more of anything that springs to mind. In the rigorous interrogation of a General Election campaign, substance will have to prevail over style, if they are to win. Their chief spokespersons are somewhat feeble both intellectually and charismatically. After Cameron and Hague, who else is there? I suspect that this increase in their support will fade substantially over the coming two years.

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