As usual, the Sunday Times commissioned questions on quite a grab bag of topics. The full results are here, and here are a few of the other interesting findings therein. Firstly, asked about the pre-budget report, the majority of people supported the measures – 54% to 30% – but there was also little confidence that that they would help make the recession shorter or less severe. 28% thought they would definitely (3%) or probably (25%) make things better, 17% thought they would make things worse, 45% thought they would make little difference at all.

Borrowing still appears to be the weakness in the government’s approach. 27% agreed with the statement that ‘It is right for the government to increase borrowing sharply at a time like this, in order to support the economy and stop the recession becoming too deep’, but 48% agreed instead with the statement ‘It is wrong for the government to increase borrowing so sharply: any short-term benefits will be less than the longer term costs to the economy and to taxpayers’. Notably, this is the same question that YouGov asked for the Telegraph on the day of the PBR – back then the figures were 33% to 50%, so the balance of opinion has shiftly marginally against borrowing since then.

YouGov went on to give respondents a list of other statements about the economic debate. On the idea of Gordon Brown as a major global figure, taking a lead in deciding world policies was narrowing disagreed with, 44% to 40%, though given the normal public cynicism towards politicians I’d regard this as a very positive finding for Brown. Other findings were less good, 53% agreed that the government weren’t actually interested in doing what was best for the economy, only what would help win the election (32% disagreed), 43% thought David Cameron was right to say that Labour’s spending plans can’t be afforded (32% disagreed). Finally, as with ComRes’s survey, there was surprisingly little support for the accusation that the Conservative were a “do nothing” party: 38% agreed and 39% disagreed. As with the question of Brown as a world leader, I’d expect normal public cynicism about politicians to produce support for this statement, but it hasn’t.

It would seem from these figures that a weak point for the government seems to be the accusation that they are borrowing too much, a strong point Gordon Brown being seen as a global figure in the forefront of the global effort to manage the economic crisis. The Government attack on the Conservatives as a “do nothing” party meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have as much traction as one might have expected.

Moving on, for what I think must be the first time in several years they asked about attitudes to the Euro. 31% of people said Britain should rule out joining on principle, 22% said Britain should not join for the next four or five years at least, 27% supported joining when economic condiction were right, 11% supported joining now. Asked how they would vote in a referendum on joining the Euro, 24% would vote yes, 59% no.

Finally, YouGov asked about airport expansion. 50% of respondents agreed with the statement that “we have to expand out airport capacity or else suffer long-term economic damage”, 30% that “we shouldn’t expand airport capacity anymore even if it does hurt the economy” (there were 21% don’t knows, which I suspect may be high because of respondents who believed you could stop airport expansion without damaging the economy”). On the specific question of the Stanstead protesters, while 48% sympathised with their motives, 81% disapproved of their methods.

62 Responses to “More from YouGov’s Sunday poll”

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  1. The airports questions are of interest. I’d like to see them ask people which of these statements they agree with:
    “We have to expand our airport capacity even though we will suffer long-term environmental damage”
    “We shouldn’t expand our airport capacity because we will suffer long-term environmental damage”

  2. Yes it looks as though the polls are relatively settled in the 4/5/6% lead range. I’d be interested in whether some of the upcoming polls show any change on the question of whether the public view Brown as a major global figure. This poll was done over the 11th and 12th December so it was just as the German Finance Minister’s attack was breaking, so perhaps we might see that perception undermined slightly.

    I am very surprised that more people disagreed with the line “the Conservatives are a do-nothing party” than actually agreed with it. I thought we had seen the lines of attack drawn for the forseeable future; on one hand the Conservatives claiming the government is borrowing too much while on the other the government claiming the Tories are a do-nothing party. Based on these results the governemnt may have to re-think that slogan.

  3. The latest polls all seem to be heading in the same direction:
    Mori Conservative 41% Labour 36% LibDem 11%
    YouGov Conservative 41% Labour 35% LibDem 15%
    ComRes Conservative 37% Labour 36% LibDem 14%
    Populus Conservative 39% Labour 35% LibDem 17%

    Will be interesting to see if this trend is repeated in the ICM poll tonight. Once again I will be more interested in the Conservate figure, will it be below 40%?

  4. If the next general election does result in a hung Parliament, then it may not be long before whoever is Prime Minister decides to call another election within a year, as happened in 1974 and 1910! Whoever resides in 10 Downing Street will want a proper mandate to carry their agenda forward.

  5. “Whoever resides in 10 Downing Street will want a proper mandate to carry their agenda forward.”

    The incumbent PM didn’t seek such a mandate when he first came into office – what makes you think he would seek it as PM of a hung parliament?

    NB – I’m not saying he is ‘unelected’, to say such a thing is to demonstrate a lack of understanding about our electoral system. As a country, we voted to give Labour up to 5 years in power, whoever was leader. The fact is that Brown has demonstrated an unwillingness to call an election if he doesn’t have to (at the same time, why should he?) so if he is PM of a hung parliament, I wouldn’t expect another election any time soon after.

  6. “The incumbent PM didn’t seek such a mandate when he first came into office – what makes you think he would seek it as PM of a hung parliament?”

    Gordon Brown was sitting on a majority of over 60 when he became PM, which he was not prepared to risk.
    A hung Parliament, however, would be likely to prevent any PM from getting his or her legislation through Parliament, and make him or her extremely vulnerable to losing a vote of no confidence.

  7. Brown wouldn’t necessarily have the ability to call a second election while the Parliament was still young. Any request would be into the murky territory where the monarch could refuse a dissolution on the grounds set out in the 1950s that the Parliament was still viable and the opposition were capable of forming an alternate government.

    In February 1974 Heath remained Prime Minister for several days while he tried to cobble together a coalition with the Liberals. Once he failed to do so, he resigned. If instead of resigning, he had gone back to the Queen and asked for a second dissolution, I think it is accepted that she would have refused. In contrast, when 7 months later Wilson requested a dissolution it was granted. They get one bite at the cherry, they can’t keep going back to the public and saying they don’t like the result .

    In practice the monarch would have to make the decision based on whether the Conservatives would be able to form an alternate government. If they could do so without it being clear that the Liberal Democrats would immediately vote with Labour to oust them, then the monarch would presumably refuse the dissolution.

  8. Hmm, actually in that case I think I’d prefer him not to call an election. If a government is unable to do anything then it is unable to do anything wrong.

    How is the PM, and the cabinet for that matter, decided in the case of a hung parliament? I have to confess it is an area I know little about.

  9. The incumbent Prime Minister remains PM until they resign, meaning they get the first attempt at forming a government (as Heath did in F1974, despite having fewer seats than Labour).

    If they resign or fail to pass a Queen’s Speech, the Queen will then invite the leader of the party with the most MPs (other than the chap who has just gone) and invite them to form a government.

    If they decline the invitation, the Queen will then invite anyone else she believes is capable of commanding a majority in the House of Commons (in practice, there would be lots of negotiations between the parties and the Queen’s Private Secretary and something would be hammered out).

  10. All the indications are that the Lib Dems would support a minority conservative administration not clear that any other parties would support a minority Labour one

  11. Don’t forget to include us along with the LibDems if we top 10 seats and the biggest party is only 20 short.

    it would be on a support and supply basis but it could still work.


  12. So who would the SNP support?

  13. I think after 3 terms of Labour it would be difficult for a minority party to keep Labour in power by joining a coalition. It would be ironic although very plausible if the Lib Dems finally became part of a coalition government after an election in which they lost a significant number of seats

  14. I wonder if it is wise or unwise for previous leaders to be wheeled out to comment on governments? Would their interventions affect the polls? Mrs T. certainly did John Major no favours after she was ousted. Major himself was interviewed again yesterday. Will he simply remind voters of why he produced the worst result for his party for more than a century? His deceitful affair with Mrs Currie would also be remembered by many. Should previous leaders take a vow of silence in the better interests of their parties?
    With regard to the current crop of polls, it is clear that minor parties will be vigorously questioned as to their willingness to support one of the major parties in the event of a hung parliament. Perhaps their responses will affect their standings in the polls.

  15. The prediction that Labour would be the largest single party, 20 seats short of an overall majority, based on 35% of the popular vote, with the Conservatives behind on seats but with probably over a million more votes puts the result into very interesting territory.

    There are several angles to this, but perhaps the most pertinent would be that if we assume that turnout in a more keenly contested gneral election will be back over 70%, then Labour would be closer to 2 Million votes behind the Conservatives in England 11.2 Million Vz 9.2 Million.

    This would certainly put the cat amongst the West Lothian Pigeons, especially if SNP and /or a Scottish heavy Lib Dem party (after losing a lot of English seats to the Tories) kept Labour in power (which might be a good reason for the SNP to do just that although perhaps suicidal for the Lib Dems)

  16. Anthony – How come the Mori poll from Todays Mirror hasn’t got a thread?

    Is it not one of the normal polls?

  17. Forget that, just spotted it….sorry.

  18. The SNP would look at both parties and ask, “So what have you got for us then”.

    we’d support the formation of a government by the party that offered Scotland most. but there would be no formal coalition or ministerial posts.

    After we voted for it, it would then be Bill by Bill. where it gets tricky is that when it came to legislation that didn’t have an impact in Scotland it couldn’t count on us as we don’t vote on it.

    Technically you could have a UK government that had to compromise on English legislation and could lose a lot of votes but which we kept in power on confidence votes.
    It may well face a vote of confidence after losing on a Bill on English schools, but as it being replaced with another party would clearly have an impact in Scotland we could vote for it.

    Of course it would still be more acceptable to Scots to back Labour than the Tories by a long way and I am sure the irony of a Labour party that lost in England being kept in power in the UK by a party that wants the end of the UK wouldn’t be lost in Westminster or English voters.

    Equally it Labour felt it was being yanked on Salmond’s chain I bet that would chaff. It might even be too high a price for them if they thought it would do them long term damage in England.

    I should point out that I am not saying this is a likely scenario or getting ideas above my station. If we get over 10 seats which on current polling is a real possibility then we are in a position to have a real say on who forms the next government.

    Having been asked who we would support I’ve tried to lay out my understanding of my parties negotiating position and policy.


  19. I think the SNP would be most likely to back a Labour administration than a Conservative one, though having said that I can’t see them actually supporting either. The DUP might back a Conservative administration.

  20. Andy,

    We’d probably back one, as there has to be a government anyway so you either play the game or watch from the stands.

    The hard bit might be for who we support if our support is resented by England. That resentment might actually be seen as a good thing by some nationalists but I have my doubts as I think it’s in the long term of Scotland that at independence we do so as smoothly and on as good terms as possible.

    I am for whimper rather than bang.


  21. Traditionally, the main opposition party is granted meetings with senior civil servants up to 15 months before the next general election. Before the 1997 election, Labour was given access to civil servants 15 months before and in April 2006, the former Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party, to confirm the agreement would continue for the next election.

    Yet, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the head of the Civil Service, has admitted that although Cameron has written to Brown regarding the agreement, Brown is still yet to respond. The delay in his response is said to mean the Conservatives will have to reschedule meetings they planned to hold in January.

    According to The Times, sources in Whitehall have said it is highly unlikely Brown will grant the Conservative request.

    Is this just another example of GB’s uncompromising focus on partisan political adavantage in everything he does & says…….or might it have something to do with a GE early in 2009?

  22. I’d say two things on the issue of a hung parliament. The first is that I think the electorate is actually more discerning than some people give them credit for. They know the mess that a hung parliament can get the country into (particularly if the economy is still in recession). And so if one Party gains momentum during the campaign then they are likely to be given an overall majority.

    The second is that I would be very surprised if the Lib Dems come out in absolute support of either Party. This is not the left wing Party of Paddy Ashdown or even Charles Kennedy, it is now a party more concerned with the curtailment of government. So I think they have sympathies with both parties and are likely to offer support on a bill by bill basis.

  23. “Is this just another example of GB’s uncompromising focus on partisan political adavantage in everything he does & says”

    Yes, he is without doubt one of the pettiest, egotistical and cycnically tribalistic Prime Ministers of modern times. I think most political journalists would agree with that.

  24. John- “he is without doubt one of the pettiest, egotistical and cycnically tribalistic Prime Ministers of modern times. I think most political journalists would agree with that.”

    Did I miss the poll with that question? Does saying “without doubt” and “most would agree” make something incontrovertible or are you just trying to justify your own partisan views?

    We could all indulge in name calling when polls aren’t going our way, but there are plenty of other sites to do that on. Please.

  25. I agree with Warren.

  26. YouGov figures for Scotland;

    Labour 39%, Tories 21%, LibDems 7%, SNP 32%, Others 1%.

    About what I would suspect and it doesn’t have the odd LibDem above the Tories result we saw last week.

    When Anthony gets his Scotland predictor working it will be interesting to see how these kind of figures effect the LibDems 12 seats in Scotland.

    On all the other questions as ever the Scots are more pro Brown than the rest of the UK and although it’s only by a narrow margin, a majority support the Euro either now or when the time is right.


  27. Come come Warren, that’s a touch disingenuous I think.

    You don’t need opinion polls on John’s assertion-you just have to read the newspapers. Where were you during the great Plot against Tony?

    If you want some light reading on the topic try Cherie Blair,or Lord Turnbull-or Alastair Campbell.

  28. Colin,

    I am no fan of Brown, but as everyone you quote was in the opposite faction within Labour it’s hardly an objective assessment.

    Like Warren I think there is a difference between saying you think Brown is petulant and saying “Everybody knows Brown is petulant”.

    Ones a personal opinion the other an unsubstantiated assertion.

    Having said that, I suspect a majority probably think George W Bush is an idiot…….


  29. “I agree with Warren”

    Me too to a certain extent. It was a rather uncharacteristic concise diatribe, brought about because I plain don’t like the guy.

    However, if I may be so bold I think your insistence that every opinion given should be explicitly backed up by polls is slightly feigned. Are you suggesting that no one should utter the phrase ‘I think’ or ‘I believe’ without a reference to a specific poll? I think (!) it is perfectly creditable to claim that most political journalists would agree with the description of Brown given.

  30. Peter, that was a very good answer. And a very honest one.

  31. Gary,

    I have my moments……


  32. John & Colin, as Anthony most probably gets bored saying this,.In fact I believe he said it in the previous thread. This is supposed to be a board with regards the polls, not one for slating the government.

    If you want to slate the governmenrt Guido,ConHome Political Betting or any messageboard for The Sun, The Mail or the Telegraph has plenty of likeminded people, and you can all compete in who can abuse Brown and the rest of the cabinet the most .

    God help us if a poll ever shows Labour in front, this place would go into an anti-Brown meltdown.

    Speaking of PB, someone posted that the reason the poll from ICM has been delayed is because the change from the last one is so big that they are re-checking the figures.He then says it could either be back to 20%+ Conservative lead or Labour draw level.

    It would also be right to say that the last time someone on there said they had a leak for a poll, they said the Conservatives were 22% in front when in fact it was the last months ConRes 1% lead.

  33. “Speaking of PB, someone posted that the reason the poll from ICM has been delayed is because the change from the last one is so big that they are re-checking the figures.He then says it could either be back to 20%+ Conservative lead or Labour draw level.”

    Considering that ICMs last poll showed a Tory lead of 15, it wouldn’t be surprising if this one did show a huge swing.

  34. “Ones a personal opinion the other an unsubstantiated assertion.”

    But for the vast majority of people-who don’t know GB ( or any senior politician ) personally -personal opinion is all they have,

    But this is not plucked out of thin air.GB (along with other politicians) is on public display permanently-in word & deed.That’s where our personal opinions are formed of politicians-plus one other source-Press commentary & reportage.
    And Press commentary on Brown, consistently highlights his petulance , vindictiveness & partisan outlook.

    Peter I note that you are happy to rely on “unsubstantiated assertions” masquerading as public opinion when they suit you.

    That’s not a criticism-everyone here does it-it’s called biase.

    But I think you might be as hard pressed to find any credible medical commentary on congenital brain malfunction in George Bush, as you would to find a comment in the Press from anyone describing the essential Gordon Brown as good natured, forgiving & bipartisan .

  35. Peter “Having said that, I suspect a majority probably think George W Bush is an idiot…….”

    Just shows the majority isn’t always right (after all, we’ve had a Labour government for 11 years now j/k). I’m fairly sure he isn’t an idiot. He’s just not as good at speeches like Obama. And did your respect for him not go up when you saw his Matrix like dodge move of that shoe? That old guy can move.

    Colin – he did get kicked in the head when he was younger (some might say not hard enough), so there’s a risk he might have brain damage. Has anyone seen or released medical documents to show otherwise?

    And as for the polls, I’m continuing with my ‘5% Tory lead is the end of the Brown Bounce’ line. Even if it’s not true, I’m going for the Labour party tactic of repeating it over and over again in the hope people will believe me (did you know we are best placed to see out the recession? €ordon says so, it must be true).

  36. “he did get kicked in the head when he was younger (some might say not hard enough), so there’s a risk he might have brain damage. Has anyone seen or released medical documents to show otherwise?”

    That is perhaps the most unpleasant remark I have seen on this site .

  37. Sorry, I misread what you wrote before. “…congenital brain malfunction in George Bush…” looked, in my early morning eyes, like “…congenital brain malfunction in Gordon Brown…”. The GB and the fact it said Gordon Brown on the line below threw me.

    I would be quite happy for someone to censor or delete that paragraph as it does look completely out of context, as no-one mentions brain issues in Gordon Brown beforehand.

  38. I’m clearly partisan, enjoy the cut and thrust and all that, but some of the knuckle-headed personal attacks really are boring. Can we just ignore them and rely on the more data-inspired among us to guide us back to sense?

  39. Here, here John.

  40. John,

    I find it hard to understand the mentality of the people who make these vitriolic personal attacks. I can understand if people think Brown is underwhelming or if they just disagree with his policies, but I’m not sure what he’s done to inspire such enormous levels of hatred. I’m sure some of the Tory supporters will give their usual laundry list of grievances, but it’s just not normal for disagreements over the appropriate level of public spending (or whatever) to result in such emotionalism.

  41. On my comments about GWB,

    Idiot in no way denotes any kind of brain abnormality, it is derived from the Greek for ignorance.

    Fpr many people it is Bush’s simplistic view of the world, and his dogmatic adherence to it i the face of evidence to the contrary, that shows his limitations.

    Many of his positions whether it be on Climate change or WMD seem to be more based on blind faith than analysis of the information, a case of dogma over pragmatism.

    Secondly in saying “most people probably” I was making a comment very much based on what polling evidence in this country tells us about what peoples opinion of GWB is, which is not the same as ” without doubt” with regards to GB.


    Just when have I relied on unsubstantiated assertions?


    I didn’t say the majority were right, just that it is what they believe. Most polling is about peoples beliefs rather than what is true and certainly don’t confuse the two.

    That most people believe that GWB isn’t the smartest guy on the block is probably a fact, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t smart, just that people don’t think he is.

    If in it’s next poll Yougov asked 2,000 people;

    Does the sun come up in the morning and go down at night”, I suspect the vast majority would say yes. But the sum doesn’t come up in the morning and go down at night…… The sun doesn’t move at all, it’s the earth that rotates.

    (Go on Anthony, get them to put it in for Christmas to see what happens)

    A perception can be a fact, while being factually inaccurate.


  42. Re Brown – journalists in particular seem to loathe him because he appears to hate them. I liked the comments of the Whip recently in the Sun comparing Brown with Mugabe – unelected, having opposition politicians arrested, wrecking the economy.I don’t think Rupert Murdoch will be supporting Brown this time.And what is Brown doing in Pakistan?

  43. Wolf’s comments are so intemperate that I wonder if he’s really a sheep wearing another animal’s clothing, and in reality a closet Brownite garnering sympathetic support for his hero.

  44. Peter – I never said that you said the majority were right. Certainly true that we shouldn’t confuse popular belief with truth.

    Wolf – the comments in the sun about Brown being ‘unelected’ are partly the reason why I don’t read the Sun.

    ‘The Great Unelected’ is a wonderful nickname for satire, but it is simply not true. I tend to go for ‘Gordon Brown, the Great Economic Saviour of our Time’ when referring to him.

  45. Great blog it’s good to see someone using a blog for what it is actually meant for look forward to seeing further comments.

  46. Peter – Heresy! You and your Galileo-type scoundrels!

    All we need to do is get a judge to find fact that the sun rises and sets, based on the overwhelming evidence of the polls, and you’re going where the sun don’t shine at all mate!

    I can seasonally recommend Miracle on 34th Street as a real-life example of the power of public opinion to uphold absolute truths.

  47. John,

    “I can seasonally recommend Miracle on 34th Street as a real-life example of the power of public opinion to uphold absolute truths.”

    Except of course, that being a film sort of rules it out of being a “real-life” example.


  48. Jakob – I was a Labour supporter prior to Brown taking over. Now I’ll be a Tory supporter until the day Brown goes and is replaced by someone better. It’s possible that I am the only person in Britain who finds Brown so dismal that it’s compelled me to defect but somehow I doubt it.

    Anyway, we’re going to get told off soon (and rightly) for partisanship so back to the pooooooooolllllllssss!

  49. Oh yeah, the polls. I knew we were here for a reason. ComRes suggests they’ve stopped moving (hence my labour-inspired-oft-repeating tactic of saying ‘end of the Brown Bounce’ call), YouGov, ICM and Mori suggest a Conservative lead of about 5%.

    That would result in a hung parliament, Labour 20-odd seats short despite having around 1.3 million fewer votes. I’d call for PR, but that would still mean the Conservatives being some 60 seats short of a majority so it’s hardly a better solution (although perhaps the %ages would be different if parties didn’t focus solely on marginal constituencies when campaigning).

  50. James, Im shocked to hear you were once Labour as I imagined from what you posted you were right of Cameron.

    Hope the poll comes quick tonight as this place is turning into a politicalrantathon and hardly anyone mentions the polls.

    Speaking of which, nice to see Cameron having a pop at the Sun’s chief political writer. Thats one way of getting him on side.

    Still no early leak from other forums/blogs. Usually when there is a big change someone always likes to be the first to spill the beans.

    Will ICM stand as the last double digit bastion?

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