The full details of the YouGov poll are now up on their website here. Looking at the regular trackers the movement continues to be strongly in Labour’s direction. 28% are now satisfied with the government, compared to 23% last month. David Cameron’s lead as best Prime Minister has fallen to only 3 points, compared to 7 last month. Gordon Brown’s net satisfaction rises to minus 27, from minus 38 last month. On the forced choice question the Cameron/Conservative lead is only 3 points, compared to 10 last month. The Conservative lead on the economy is now just 2 points, compared to 4 last month.

I’ve also had a chance to look at the figures for all the PBR measures YouGov asked about. There is no real surprise – the most popular are give aways and taxes that other people pay, taxes that everybody pays are least popular.

The most popular were the extra money for pensioners and recipients of child benefit (approved of by 81%) and (unsurprisingly given that polls have consistently shown support for a higher tax rate for the rich) the new 45% tax rates for people earning over £150,000 a year. The least popular were “increasing national insurance rates […] so that people earning up to £20,000 a year pay less while those earning more than £20,000 a year pay more” which met with majority approval (51%) but was opposed by 40% and the increase in tobacco, alcohol and petrol duty which was opposed by 49%.

Relatively few people thought they or their families would benefit much from the PBR – 2% thought they would benefit a lot, 26% a little, most not very much (42%) or not at all (25%). As a whole the package was at least seen as fair by 44% of people, unfair by 32%.

While people supported the changes, in every single case a majority thought they would do “not much” or hardly anything at all to lessening the economic downturn. The one seen as most effective was making the increase in tax allowances introduced earlier this year permanent, 41% of people thought this would make either a fair amount or great deal of difference, with 47% thinking it would be ineffective. As a whole a paltry 2% thought the package would do a great deal to help the country, 25% thought it would do a fair amount. The large majority thought it would do not much (53%) or nothing at all (12%).

The level of borrowing was also viewed negatively. While a third of people supported short term borrowing as it would “help Britain’s economy to recover in the longer term”, 50% thought the government was wrong to borrow so much “because Britain’s economy will suffer in the longer term”.

Moving on, YouGov offered people a list of statements about the Conservative party. Rather unenlighteningly, they agreed with all of them! Two thirds of people agreed that the Conservative were right to warn people that increased government spending now would lead to tax rises later, a plurality (45%) thought they were right to abandon their pledge to match Labour’s spending and 42% thought they were right to oppose the PBR as “unaffordable and unlikely to work”. However, people also thought that they were spending too much time criticising the government and that they were dithering. In short, people seem to agree with the Conservative criticisms of the government, but are turned off by the Conservatives making them!

43 Responses to “More from YouGov’s PBR poll”

  1. The Times Leader is scathing about the PBR, the Public Finances,. & the financial burden of The Labour State ,in particular .

    It says” There is now no option other than fundamental reform of the State”.

    In the Daily Mail today there are maps of Britain showing the increase in public sector & private sector jobs between 1998 & 2006.The regional & gender pictures are interesting, some 60% of the overall increase having been in the Public Sector.

    Anthony ,is there any data available on the proportion
    of total registered Voters who work in the Public Sector-1998 & currently ( or recently) ?

  2. The YouGov detailed poll figures are interesting.

    The Tories still have a 50% advantage in London and the South East, where much of the economic misery is concentrated this time, compared to 29% in London and 26% in the SE for Labour.

    Labour is ahead in the North but women are 42% for Conservatives and 33% for Labour – they don’t like Brown, do they? Brown has women problems.

    The Tories are also 10 points ahead amongst the ABC1s.

  3. Congratulations on the new design of the website.

    Just one small point – when you click on the link under the UKPR Polling Average on the front page (showing 41, 34, 15) you get to the workings for the previous average (42, 33, 15).

  4. Maybe you need to refresh your cache!

  5. Interesting that the Conservatives are being seen as inactive.

    From where I sit it’s pretty obvious that this would be the case, and it’s even less forgivable that they did nothing because all, any proposals they might have put forward would never be implemented so as long as they’re broadly sensible the risk is minimal.

    Anthony, on another note – are there any seasonal trends to / from particular parties or to / from the party in power that you’re aware of? For instance is there a Christmas spirit effect where people become more inclined towards the current government? Or a January effect where people are disgruntled that they’re having to pay for it all?

    Oh, and not strictly about this but how come the home page majority predictor says hung parliament, conservatives short by 24 but the actual page says a majority of 16 or 10 (depending on method)?

  6. I wondered if someone could tell me why this poll wasn’t published on the last Thursday night of the month, as usual?

  7. Looking at the responses to some of these questions does make me wonder what all the fuss about democracy is. Its like a nodding dog answering every question.

  8. Yougov Scottish figures are;

    Labour 43%, Tory 15%, LibDem 6%, SNP 29%.

    That seems to suggest that the PBR and the fact that it looks more old Labour has gone down well for Labour in Scotland. This is the highest Scottish Labour figure I have seen in a long time, although the SNP vote seems to have stayed relatively high, all be it down slightly.

    The Tories who have been up at around 20% seem to have been hit in a straight Brown v Cameron fight and as for the Libdems this seems a new low for them. If this is repeated elsewhere in other polls then the Libdems should be starting to get very worried for some of their Scottish seats

    It’s as ever a small sample so I’d say that though the figures themselves should be taken with a large pinch of salt the trend to a Labour recovery at everyones expense while the SNP are marginalised by the focus on the PBR seems hard to challenge.

    Comparing Brown to cameron the difference with the UK figure is stark;
    Brown 48% (+17), Cameron 18% (-15). Brown even has a slight majority satisfied with him as PM.

    On the next government Camerons 44% to 41% lead in the Uk becomes a 55% to 29% lead for Brown.

    When you look at the effects of the various measures in the PBR and what peeople think of them the answers from Scotland aren’t that different from the rest of the UK but Scots tend to give brown more credit and support none the less.

    With luck if there is a rash of polls (rash seems like an appropriate collective noun) there might be a Scottish poll at the weekend.


  9. One thing nobody seems to be commenting on is how the PBR will put the Tories in a difficult position when it come time for them to make tax and public spending proposals ahead of the next election.

    By that time the PBR will have already been implemented and people will want to hear a little more than “we wouldn’t have borrowed so much in the first place.” The Tories will have to come up with a plan for balancing the budget, and considering the criticism they’re giving Labour (tax bombsehell etc.) it’s going to have to be pretty good.

    Their natural inclination will be to promise massive spending cuts, but that leaves them open to the charge of cutting public services which has lost them the last three elections. Nobody is going to believe that so much money can be saved from improved efficiency.

    So from what I can see, they are going to have to promise tax increases in one form or another. That puts them in a difficult position because they have made two key accusations against labour – that their sums don’t add up, and that as a result they are planning a “tax bombshell.” If the Tories promise smaller tax rises than Labour they could hardly continue to claim that Labour’s sums don’t add up, and if they promise larger rises that blunts the bombshell attack.

    The other problem for them is that they will not be inclined to match Labour’s 45p income tax band so they will have to make the difference up elsewhere. That could turn the election into tax the rich vs tax everyone else.

  10. Jakob-the reduction in Public Spending will go far beyond “efficiency savings”.

    Darling has built massive reductions in spending into his forecasts-and of course increased taxation.

    All of this is both economically mandatory now-but also politically expedient.-leaving the Tories to say we will have to cut more than them and/or tax more than them.

    It’s a measure of the absolutely horrendous legacy left by Brown, rather than a criticism of the Conservatives.

  11. Only one thing to say about this. As before Labour will leave a horrific mess for the Tories to clean up. They did it before and now we are back in the same position. I just cannot understand the logic of the polls shown here as there is no one and I mean absolutely no one I talk to not only supporting labour on the contrary they are very outspoken against them. By the way I travel around the country and do not remain in just one spot.

    Who are these 30 odd % then…Makes you wonder.

  12. If I were to say that this poll was more realistic and the 11% lead in the other poll was a rogue would that be looking at this poll from my own politicl stance??

    Poll wise these really are interesting times with the varience getting larger.Is there going to be a time where some show a Labour lead and others a Conservative one?Time will tell.If it does come to that,will one set of pollsters need to look at thier methodology.Or the polls could swing back to the Conservatives, however in the current climate whereby the incumbant government, against all predictions by the posters on here, have sen thier percentage rise.

    To actually say with all honesty you know what will happen in 18 months time is well dishonest, more like total guesswork.Given the total guesswork and its results by posters on here, it should be ignored and put to one side.

    In current circumstances everything and anything can happen in the said 18 months.To coin a well overused saying.”It is now game on” for all the political parties.

    Except in Oracle World obviously.

  13. Colin,

    That’s not the way the electorate will see it. Whether the Tories promise larger spending cuts or larger tax increases, it gives Labour an easy line of attack. They are going to have to be very careful when they write their manifesto, and they’ll have an uphill battle convincing the public.

  14. As somebody who was being drawn towards Cameron earlier in the year I find myself increasingly turned off by the allmost rabid attacks on everything Brown or Darling. It smacks of desperation not conviction. Brown may have a number of things to answer for but Cameron’s insistance that Brown is wholly to blame for everything (including the Baby P situtation) takes the shine off his credibility. His plans to mitigate the effects of the recession were if anything underwhelming and he needs to take stock –

  15. Jakob,

    In regard to your question about what the Conservatives will promise on the 45% tax band, I imagine they’ll say that it is their aspiration to remove it but Labour have made such a mess of the public finances that they will be unable to in the near future.

    If they do that they can continue to be seen as the tax cutting party without scaring the lower paid to much.

  16. Jakob-We shall see-but I certainly agree that Brown & Co will have no shame or embarrassment about criticising Tories for Public Expenditure cuts &/or higher taxes, when they themselves have just written a 5 year plan which incorporates both.

    The Economic Mess faced by all political parties means the GE will be fought on confidence & trust. For Brown to garner much of either-whether or not Cameron is able to do so-depends IMHO on one key factor.

    If Darling is right & the economy starts to grow again by 2H 2009-they can say they got it right. & the public just might foregive them the years of restrain ahead.

    If , on the other hand we are still in recession then -or into 2010, the Tories will point to the meaningless 2008 PBR figures and tear Labour,s forecasts & their credibility to pieces .

  17. Looking at the current forecast with a hung parliament but the Tories the largest party, who would get first dibs at forming an administration. DC as leader of largest party or GB as incubant?

  18. Steven – I think the line is that they oppose it in principle, but in practice they would concentrate on relieving the tax burden on the less well off.

    Adrian – GB as incumbent.

    The incumbent gets first bite of the cherry. The way it works is that the incumbent Prime Minister remains Prime Minister after an election until he choses to resign. It is a relatively recent convention that a Prime Minister resigns having lost their majority in a general election – if one goes back to the 19th century the convention was that the Prime Minister would remain until the Commons reassembled and they were voted out. Only after the PM resigns does the monarch invite the leader of the largest party.

    The best example is Feb 74. Labour won more seats than the Conservatives, but Ted Heath as incumbent remained Prime Minister afterwards and spent several days afterwards trying to arrange a deal with the Liberals before giving up and tendering his resignation. Only at that point the Queen invited Harold Wilson to have a go.

  19. Good posts Jakob.

  20. I’m obviously not a politician. I’d be falling over myself not to win the next election. I suspect whoever gets in next time will have some very hard decisions to make that could tarnish their parties image for a long time.

  21. Paul, people were saying the same thing in 1997. The Conservatives had just had a very tight budget (knowing they would not stick to it after the election).

  22. Why all this talk of what the conservatives need to do to get in power?

    They don’t need to do anything. We live in a democracy (as much as Gordon Brown wishes we didn’t). They need to offer the people a choice. No political maneouvering. Just give them the choice of a different type of government and let the people decide who they want.

    If they lose, so be it. They’ve shot themselves in the foot so often recently by choosing to oppose the government rather than think of what their solution would be. If they happen to agree with Labour on one or two things, that’s not bad. It’s good for the country if two different principles lead to the same outcome.

    At the moment they offer nothing clear to those undecided voters who are seeing Brown and Darling taking decisions (I disagree with those decisions but it’s not my place to say what others should think) and are thinking ‘Maybe these are the guys I should go with’.

  23. ‘We live in a democracy (as much as Gordon Brown wishes we didn’t). ‘

    I really get tired of this sort of comment. Brown has many faults but I see no way he has done anything to support such a statement.. I prefer this site discussing polls and methodology. I cope with discussion of possible poll impacts caused by current decisions. But I suspect the given comment is libellous; I, certainly, can see no evidence from any action Brown has made to support such a comment.

    So, an unsubstantiated, potentially libellous comment should not exist on this board.

  24. The challenge for the Conservatives is to come up with solutions that are consistent with their philosophy and popular.

    The wind is blowing away from competition towards co-operation. People want their nation to be safely ashore, protected by big government rather than out there competing in the storms with other nations.

    For that to work, all countries have to take similar actions.

    The conservatives need to find a set of policies that say to the voters “we would do more or less the same things to get us and the rest of the world out of the hole, and then, afterwards, we’ll put in place the safeguards to prevent re-currence.”

    At the moment, they look and sound isolated. Maybe better co-operation with (rather than competition with) other countries is the next step in Cameron’s project.

  25. Jack – I’m pretty sure it’s OK to throw in the odd suggestion as to why the polls are moving, and to how they could be changed by policy changes.

    I agree with your anti-libel attitude, though.

  26. I’m sure whoever said GB was undemocratic didn’t really mean to imply he was a dictator in waiting. It’s just one of those things.

    Personally I find it far less annoying than those who consistently refer to him as ‘unelected’.

  27. Did you spot George Osborne doing it in his pre-budget report reply? ;)

  28. “People want their nation to be safely ashore, protected by big government rather than out there competing in the storms with other nations.”

    Yes -in times of personal uncertainty, and fear over their financial future, I have no doubt that many people feel that way.

    But , of course, those working in the private sector-the job & wealth creation sector know how the real world works.

    They know that once “co-operation” has plugged the holes in banking regulation & oversight , and the recession has corrected the consumption bubbles of the last decade,& destroyed the false asset values it created; job & wealth creation will once again be on everyones agenda.

    And in a global economy, that means “competing in the storms with other nations”.

    The Conservative’s task -urged on them by The Times-is to concentrate on this long term reality, as much as the short term personal suffering of individuals through the recession. They can be sure that the wealth creating sectors of all the vibrant economies-USA, China, India etc etc will never forget the realities..

    There are signs that Cameron-now talking about the unsustainable burden of salary related, indexed state sector pensions so ably exposed by Cable yesterday-will begin to focus on the dead weight and unfairness ( to use a Brownian view of our current tax rates) of some of our bloated State structure.

    That will be focussing beyond the current storm & his task is to persuade voters that he, rather than Brown is able to prepare for the competitive calm which lies beyond it.

    He already has good case to put on Social Justice, diligently constructed by IDS-and beginning to attract support from deep thinkers like Frank Field.

    It is not easy to sell this perspective to voters who will become traumatised after Christmas by unemployment. But he has to try.

  29. Perhaps Cameron should seek advice on getting his message across from Germany :-

    “The latest British decisions on VAT [value added tax] and income tax, for instance, are inconsistent. Better to wait a bit longer and put forward more durable solutions.” adviser to Merkel

    And Mrs Merkel said leaders must resist the temptation to “overcome the crisis” and instead “build a bridge so that we at least can start recovering in 2010?.

  30. Colin i could rattle off a list of world leaders to counter your one, and a list of other things Merkel has said to counter the one you’ve picked, but the process of rebuttal and counter-rebuttal is unutterably dull so I won’t.

    The more people work together, the less unfair will be the competition. There isn’t a trade off between wealth creation and co-operation, they go hand in hand, even across the sea.

    I think a desire to co-operate will remain with the voting public after the crisis is over, and the public appetite to return to good old-fashioned conservative ways of competing won’t necessarily return.

  31. “Brown has many faults but I see no way he has done anything to support such a statement”

    You mean apart from reneging on the manifesto pledge on the EU Constitution? If he thought we’d have voted yes we’d have been allowed a vote.

    Anyway, you are right that this is not the place to be expressing such thoughts, so I retract it from my comment, although I am still allowed to hold that view.

    And Alasdair Cameron, it is annoying when people refer to him as unelected. To me, it shows a lack of understanding about our electoral system and I was surprised to see Osborne call him it. Yes, he came in through the back door, but he was not unelected.

    And given the way the polls are heading, if the Conservatives don’t pull their finger out, he won’t be ‘unelected’ much longer.

  32. Colin – I agree that in the long run wealth creation and competition will be back on the agenda, but I doubt (and hope) that we will return to business as usual. We need to seize this opportunity to seriously restructure the economy to deal with the impending environmental crunch. I frankly hope that this crisis represents the death of traditional economics. We need to be factoring larger issues in our thinking, and not just for fun.

    To be fair, I see little real indication of this from either party, so this is not a partisan point.

  33. Sorry, what I mean is that I hope we will not return to business as usual. I wrote that in a weird way…

  34. “I doubt (and hope) that we will return to business as usual”

    Alasdair-if you mean unregulated cheap credit to consumers, packaged as tradeable derivatives to gullible bankers-I agree.( and hope)

    If you mean the cut & thrust of global commercial competition-I disagree.

  35. We won’t go back to the automatic assumption that free market solutions are always better than state involvement. In the future people will actually look at individual cases rather than resorting to bland generalisations about how “socialism doesn’t work.”

  36. “Colin i could rattle off a list of world leaders to counter your one, ”

    No doubt john!!

    But it’s what countries do ( and do not do) which interests me in trying to form a view on this matter.

    Since the received wisdom is that a concerted global stimulus is what is most effective , I looked at the scale & nature of what the 4 largest economies on the Planet are doing-USA,Japan, Germany & China ( UK is fifth)

    It is interesting.

  37. Actually Colin I think France and Italy now have larger economies that the UK when expressed in Euro or Dollar( because of the recent fall of Sterling)

    Picking up on another comments – people and/or the government may want a more regulated, safer world where fewer risks are taken but it is the cut and thrust of risk taking and business that has brought us 10 years of good growth. if those days are gone forever then the Government will basically have £60-100BN less per year in tax revenues so it had better start cutting public spending accordingly otherwise we will be running huge deficits forever and be going to the IMF for a loan before long.

    Whilst on the topic of Government debt the current PM likes to compare debt in the UK with Germany and France but its’ not a far comparison. I’m pretty sure those countries include things on the balance sheet that we don’t , namely PFI and Public Sector pensions. when you include those our debt is already much higher than Germany or France and set to get much higher over the next few years. .

  38. Are expecting any polls today?

  39. Thanks KTL-France/Italy/UK economies are pretty much the same size-so I can see that might happen.

    Entirely agree with your second para. If it is true that Unison is now Paymaster for the Labour Party , that conflict between private sector job creation & public sector job protection will arise in a serious way.

    Perhaps that’s why Mandelson said that top rate of tax was raised ‘out of need, not envy or spite’ and party will still reward hard work (!)

  40. Mark M

    ‘“Brown has many faults but I see no way he has done anything to support such a statement”

    You mean apart from reneging on the manifesto pledge on the EU Constitution? If he thought we’d have voted yes we’d have been allowed a vote.’

    Same sort of libellous comment again. Unsupported. How do you know what he thinks? I don’t want to support Brown, but I really dislike people assuming to know what others think.

  41. “it is the cut and thrust of risk taking and business that has brought us 10 years of good growth”

    I’d say it was more down to the business brought into the City (which has now gone). There wasn’t anything inherently risky or entrepreneurial about it.

    Real wealth is created when people actually make stuff that others want. They are the risk takers that you and Colin are talking about, not the bankers/traders whose long hours don’t of themselves justify the rewards. And I suspect you aren’t talking about gamblers when you talk about the cut and thrust of risk.

    Those days are gone I hope for good when silly risks were lauded. Let those brains drain away, I say, and leave the serious business of investment and wealth creation in the City to those who are driven by a desire to do some good (there are lots of them I know!)

  42. Jack,

    The facts are

    – Labour promised a referendum on the EU contitution
    – Polls showed that a ‘No’ vote was likely
    – the constitution was re-written into the Lisbon treaty following ‘No’ votes in France and Holland (the author himself acknowledged that the Lisbon Treaty is the EU Constitution written in a more complicated way, with the sole change of removing the flag and anthem)
    – Polls still showed a ‘No’ vote was likely
    – Labour decided that we would have no referendum. The reason given is that the Treaty is too complicated to have a referendum on (even though we’ve been told it’s simply the EU Constitution in a more complicated language)

    I will take back my comment about his thoughts, but those are the facts above. Draw your own conclusions. I know what mine is.

  43. Mark M – you said earlier to Jack that “you are right that this is not the place to be expressing such thoughts, so I retract it from my comment”

    You were right…