Peter Hoskin over at Coffee House has forced my hand into looking at budget bounces, or the lack of them. The graph below shows the Labour lead in two YouGov polls immediately before the last seven budgets, and the two YouGov polls immediately after each one.

graph

As you can see, there is hardly a history of Budgets leading to big improvements in Labour’s position. They crept up a point in 2003, but realistically 2006 is the only one where the budget can really have been said to have resulted in a boost for the government (for the record, there was nothing particularly outstanding in the 2006 budget. There were no real headline grabbing tax changes and the centerpiece was simply more money for schools).

In contrast, the 2008 budget shows how badly they can go down. The 2008 budget made the recession real – suddenly all the talk about recession hit home when Alistair Darling actually stood up and said there were hard times ahead. I suspect Alistair Darling will have to relay some quite grim news at the next budget too, so wouldn’t count on a boost for the government there.

So while Peter is right there, I would take issue with another assumption in the article. In Martin Kettle’s original article (which Peter was responding too) it is taken as read that the European and local elections will be a disaster for Labour. I have no doubt that the local elections will be – the last time the county council elections were fought was the same day as Labour’s 2005 general election victory, now they are being fought on a low turnout and normal mid-term protest voting Labour will be decimated.

The European elections on the other hand may be a different matter. In the YouGov poll on the Euro-elections conducted last month it showed both the Conservatives and Labour gaining support as UKIP collapse. Translated into seats, this would mean Labour receiving the biggest increase in seats at the election – a result emminently spinnable into a good news story. The local government election results are announced two days before the European results, so if it did happen Labour could get the bad local election news out of the way and then get good publicity from the Euros.

Still a long way away of course, polls could change and UKIP might not collapse, but don’t assume Labour will lose MEPs.


25 Responses to “Budget bounces and European elections”

  1. I have a feeling in my water that UKIP will do better than currently expected.

    There is resentment among Conservative members that they were denied a proper say in the candidate selection process, UKIP has got its act together a little, and I think a lot of people might well vote for their usual Party in the Local Government elections, but decide to give their own Party a kick in the backside over the Europe thing just to show the strength of feeling.

    People are getting more and more cynical about Europe, and the Irish referendum (second referendum) issue will gain prominence in the next three months, and things like making people change their lightbulbs may be silly but bring home (to those inclined to think that way) that Europe is meddling more and more in places where arguably it has no good cause to be involved.

  2. It is certainly going to be an interesting Budget.

    By then the analysis of GB’s initiatives & their effects will be under substantial scrutiny.

    As things stand the revisions from last PBR are going to throw up more horrendous Public Finance numbers & all the resultant Press commentary.

    With our French friend pointing to a bit more of the Emperor’s non-existant clothes today, GB seems caught in a slow motion involuntary strip tease .

    If the last two Budget/Poll interactions are anything to go by the 10% Con lead could double.

  3. This will be another smoke and mirrors budget.

    Interesting graph though and I am glad I saw it

    Thanks

  4. It would be extremely difficult for Labour to do worse than the 22.6% they polled in 2004. I agree it will be an amusing moment to hear the Labour spokesperson in the election studio using that fact to prove what a good election Labour is happening, as they inevitably will.

  5. To illustrate the variability in polls, if you take Moris polls, which werre nearer the budget as YouGov’s before it in 2008, but further away afterwards, you get 2&9 before going to 5&6 aftewards, which is the same.

    I think other polls were more like YouGov’s however, so the point stands.

  6. why am i being moderated? I’ve posted here before?

    New poll out!!!

  7. Telegraph website reporting

    40 / 28 / 22 for their poll tomorrow

  8. Paul P,

    I think you get automatically moderated if you post a link.

  9. I don’t think anything should be read into UKIP’s polling figures at this point, even in polls specifically asking about Euro voting intentions. They will get much more publicity than normal during the campaign and they’ll be able to remind people of their existence. They may do better or worse than last time, they may even do as the poll says, but I wouldn’t put any weight on what a poll says at this stage.

  10. “Whats that coming over the hill is it the BNP”?
    Times move fast in uncertain times friends & people are not as daft as the Euro elite imagine not for a minute! We all got access to the net these days & an hour round the political sites will show who has the momentum. The Brits are terrified by Gordon & the reds and don’t see anything definate in Cameron.
    Nick Griffin the BNP leader is solid & has taken every piece of muck the might of the state can throw.
    “Yet still he comes” They all cry aghast!
    The BNP internet propaganda machine censored through mainstream media is blairing out a message online that is striking a cord with all these worried & frightened people & frightened people sieze the day! They know who is their enemy & of their children especially. We will all see in June .
    Another thing that happens in uncertain times the Sophists suddenly appear out of the woodwork & jaberwocky until 1 man defines the moment.

  11. “The European elections on the other hand may be a different matter. In the YouGov poll on the Euro-elections conducted last month it showed both the Conservatives and Labour gaining support as UKIP collapse.”

    Good, we need to have some good europeans representing britain, not eurosceptics’!

    Super Ken-to the max! Lets really sell the EU to the people this year!

  12. Dean,

    The EU has been around for over 50 years. The more they try to sell it, the less the people like it. The breadth of that dislike may become more apparent this year as these are the first pan-European elections since the EU high command tries to force through their Cionstitutional treaty despite negative votes in a majority of member states which have been offered a say.

  13. “Lets really sell the EU to the people this year!”

    The people who read the expose about MEPs in Sunday Times today will think that remark is a joke.

    The recessionary impact on the lives of it’s citizens makes the insulated unaccountable institutions of the EU seem more & more remote from them.

    People will not go on paying for their pampered largesse forever.

  14. Colin,

    “he insulated unaccountable institutions of the EU”

    Sorry, do we not have an EU election coming up, can you not vote for a party seeking to reform these so called ‘unaccountable’ institutions? Oh, and by the very fact that the council of ministers (where our government has a minister) and the parliamentary elections not make these institutions at least partially accountable?

    Dean

  15. MEPs have no interest in “reform”.

    Their interest is in the £1 million they can accumulate from taxpayers in a single term, by writing the rules and taking advantage of them.

    No the Council of Ministers is not accountable to the people of Europe, and the Commission is absolutely unnaccountable.

    The Accounts of EU have never been signed by it’s auditors.

    The EU exists for the benefit of its employees-not it’s citizens.

  16. Colin,

    “MEPs have no interest in “reform”.

    Their interest is in the £1 million they can accumulate from taxpayers in a single term, by writing the rules and taking advantage of them.”

    We get the politicians we deserve.

    If regardless of who we elect from whatever party from this country none of them will reform the European parliament, then that tells us something about our politics not Europe’s.

    “No the Council of Ministers is not accountable to the people of Europe, and the Commission is absolutely unnaccountable.”

    The Council of ministers is made up of representatives of elected european governments. If you don’t like that then you could replace it with a europe wide election for a government or direct elections to top European positions.

    But then I suspect you’d probably be even more opposed to those than the current system.

    “The Accounts of EU have never been signed by it’s auditors.”

    Then one or other of the governments should stop paying the bills till they are, but no democratically elected European government is willing to.

    “The EU exists for the benefit of its employees-not it’s citizens.”

    And yet as Dean says, the people of Europe don’t seem to want to vote in any numbers for Parties that want to get rid of it.

    Peter.

  17. Peter,

    On your last point, is that not why UKIP came from nowhere to overtake the Lib Dems in 2004 ?

    On the other hand, we know that whenever the people vote for any option other than that pre-determined by the EU Comission and its consorts, they are invited to “think again” until they come up with the “correct” result.

    Funny how that option of voting again is not open to any member state once the “right” result has been delivered. The “acquis communautaire” is the legal name given to the EU’s ratchet for centralising power.

    Do you think that the EU would seriously allow any member state to vote for repatriation of any powers ? How about abolition of the CFP and allowing Scotland to control its fishing industry ?

    It may be that this June will see a massive increase in votes for “Eurosceptic” parties across Europe. On the other hand, the EU will (accurately) point out that this is a collection of individual “nationalist” parties, while the Federalist parties will continue to gang together and ignore any viewpoint not in support of their own.

    The real danger is that this attitude, so amply demonstrated by MEPs in their disrespect to the Czech president last week, will force increasing numbers of voters to extremist nationalist parties.

  18. Peter:-

    “if regardless of who we elect from whatever party from this country none of them will reform the European parliament, then that tells us something about our politics not Europe’s.”

    No-it tells us that EU is a gravy train of other people’s taxes for the enrichment of its MPs & its employees. It is the way EU works-run by & for a priviledged elite.

    ” The Council of ministers is made up of representatives of elected european governments. ”

    So …?

    “If you don’t like that then you could replace it with a europe wide election for a government or direct elections to top European positions.”

    That would make people think-So this is really a “State” then-is that what I want?
    Not going to happen though-the last thing they want is voters having direct power over their cosy club.

    “Then one or other of the governments should stop paying the bills till they are, but no democratically elected European government is willing to.”

    Indeed-wonder why?…..couldn’t be because they all like the exclusive club they belong to.
    Commissioner Kinnock just about sums up the lot of them-in charge of rooting out fraud-sacks the whistleblower.!

    “And yet as Dean says, the people of Europe don’t seem to want to vote in any numbers for Parties that want to get rid of it.”

    Paul-HJ pretty well answers this one. the “people” of Europe know that “voting” in EU means voting for the status quo-or if you don’t , vote again until you do.

    Vaclv Klaus was right-which is why they shouted him down.

    The undemocratic, insular , patronising attitude of the pampered EU elite , will foster “direct action” from the people as their only means of influence-Spain Greece, Ireland……..

  19. ……….

    Meanwhile, the Economic Research Council and Global Vision have just reviewed the work of 36 EU quangos which cost €1.8 billion pa,

    ERC find that much of their work is duplicated by national governments, and that they are “not fit for purpose”.

    ” Europe is entering a deep recession, but the EU bureaucracy is stuck in a 1970s timewarp, continuing to churn out more quangos” says one of the report’s authors.

    Ruth Lea, director of Global Vision said :-

    “The EU’s quangocracy is quite simply beyond a joke. They are symptomatic of an EU which fails to appreciate that member states’ economies can only recover and eventually prosper in a world which favours innovation over bureaucracy and flexibility over centralised rigidity,'”

  20. Colin,

    “No-it tells us that EU is a gravy train of other people’s taxes for the enrichment of its MPs”

    So what you are saying is, that as long as the EU exists every person elected to it regardless of from what background is either already corrupt or will be corrupted.

    “Not going to happen though-the last thing they want is voters having direct power over their cosy club.”

    That seems to suggest that there is no party or government in Europe willing to suggest that the EU should either have less power at the centre or more democratic control over the centre.

    If that is the case then there seems to be two possibilities that are more likely that your “Rule by the Corrupt Euro-elite” one.

    Firstly that there is no democracy anywhere in Europe because a majority of elected representatives in every single party support gravy train politics or that on balance a majority of the “people” and their elected representatives find the current system if not ideal then at least acceptable.

    I go for the second because, when all is said and done across Europe 150 millions people voted in these elections but probably fewer than a few thousands hold your “the EU is the root of all evil views.

    For all your quotes and rhetoric the odds are firmly against you.

    Peter.

  21. Peter,

    “That seems to suggest that there is no party or government in Europe willing to suggest that the EU should either have less power at the centre or more democratic control over the centre.”

    That is what the Tories under Thatcher and Major stood out for, until Blair gave it all away. Today there are lots of parties across Europe suggesting precisely that. Did the EU take the least bit of notice when drafting the “Treaty of Lisbon (aka the Constitution) ?

    The EU has now set up a “Heads we win, tails you lose” approach to increasing centralisation. More and more new powers can be accumulated by the EU institutions on the basis of qmv, but any instance of the much vaunted “subsidiarity” needs unanimity to be agreed.

    Yes – “the odds are firmly against you” – but only because the EU refuses to accept any form of democratic legitimacy or control.

    On the question of the unaudited accounts, only two countries are sufficiently large net contributors to make this worthwhile. Germany has, until now, been irredeemably federalist in its attitude – though that may be about to change. When the UK government had the guts to stand its ground – remember Thatcher’s handbag? – rebates were agreed. But under Labour, Blair keeled over since he did not want to upset his pals whom he hopes will one day make him EU president.

    What do you suppose might happen were Cameron to say the UK should refuse to pay up ?

  22. Peter:-

    “on balance a majority of the “people” and their elected representatives find the current system if not ideal then at least acceptable…. because, when all is said and done across Europe 150 millions people voted in these elections ”

    So what?-many many more people didn’t.

    Turnout for elections to the only directly elected body in EU has been as follows:-
    !979 – 63%
    1984 – 61%
    1989 -58%
    1994 – 57%
    1999 – 49%
    2004 – 46%

    I don’t know about you Peter, but those figures tell me that the 785 MEPs efforts at engendering a feeling of democratic involvement in the people they represent has resulted in an inexorable increase in voter apathy.

    But why should this surprise anyone?
    The Galvin Report by EU’s internal audit dept into expenses abuse & fraud was suppressed by these “democratic” MEPs.
    If it was not for the brave & principled Chris Davis ( LibDEm ) MEP who refused to sign a confidentiality agreement, and leaked a part of the Reort, we would be none the wiser.

    And the MEP’s response-they voted to keep it confidential-but fortunately the Times got a copy & recently exposed it.

    So Peter-I think the facts speak for themselves.

    EU’s citizens think that it’s institutions afford them no democratic opportunity to bring about influence & change…..and they feel more like that as each election comes around.

    And here’s another “quote” for you:-

    In February 2008, Eropean Commission “President ” Manuel Barroso said that the European elections, regularly marked by voter apathy and low turnout, create a legitimacy problem for his post.

    “The question is of substantive legitimacy,” he said.

    He was & is correct .

  23. Colin,

    “So Peter-I think the facts speak for themselves”.

    A fact on it’s thing is a lonely thing.

    A quick check of wikipedia on Euro elections will show that many of the new EU countries, particularly the new democracies, have very low voting turnouts, so the EU average has dropped as a result.

    Peter.

  24. Lonely or not Peter-they are rather important-speaking of which you really must try harder.

    Those countries voting for the first time in 2004 averaged 40% turnout-a touch less than the EU average of 46%.

    Of course these countries are tiny when compared with the populations of the big 5.

    Their record of turnout is as follows:-

    ( figures are for First time-1979/Spain 1984
    and Last time-2004)

    Germany 66 – 43
    France 61 – 43
    Italy 85 – 73
    UK 32 – 39
    Spain 69 – 46

    The citizens of EU living in it’s largest countries, and oldest members have uniformly & progressively turned their backs on EU elections.

    Around two thirds of them do not vote -with the “honourable” exception of the Italians.

    It must surely mean something that only the Italians believe that EU Elections are more interesting than their own shambolic domestic political system.