Firstly, from reading the Telegraph’s headline you might have expected to find the public slavering after swinging cuts in public spending. Only 15% of people think spending should be maintained at its present levels or cut. Look at the actual question though, it doesn’t suggest the public are ready to swallow harsh cuts.

A significant majority – 68% – did back cuts, but only 9% went for the more radical option offered of “cutting spending significantly, and hand over the financing and running of some public services to the private sector”. The vast majority of those backing spending cuts went for the option of “cut spending on administration, but make sure spending on all front-line services such as health, education and the police is maintained.” We shouldn’t be hugely surprised that 59% of people want to have their cake and eat it.

In reality politicians of all parties always promise to cut waste and administration in office and spend the money on frontline services or tax cuts, depending on their bent. Polls also invariably show that the public do indeed accept the premise that there are bucketloads of wasteful government spending that could be cut without affecting frontline services. Whether there is any political capital in promising to do so, or basing spending or taxation decisions upon an intention to do so is a different matter.

Anyway, moving onto the rest of the the figures, while the topline voting intentions figures in the Telegraph today were static, the underlying figures showed a continuing shift towards the Conservatives. Their position on issues is now similar to their position at the end of last summer when they enjoyed a much larger lead in voting intentions (The Conservatives are ahead by 20 on law and order, 24 on immigration, 7 on education, 10 on tax, 4 on unemployment (traditionally a “Labour issue”), 8 on the economy. The sole issue where Labour still lead on the NHS – and that only by an insignificant 1 point.)

Cameron’s lead as Best PM has crept up to 11 points from 8 points a month ago, his approval rating is up to plus 21. The tide still appears to be flowing in the Conservatives direction, but it isn’t reflected in the topline voting intention figures.

It is possible that this is because their is a counter-pressure in the opposite direction: people are becoming more optimistic about the economy again. We saw it very clearly in MORI’s monthly poll. The increase in optimism in YouGov’s poll is much smaller, but the trend is in the same direction. Only 14% of people expect things to get better in the next 12 months, with 54% thinking it will get worse…horrible figures, but up from last month and the month before. 2% of people think the government’s actions are working now, 13% think they will start to work soon, 28% think they will work, but not for some time.

YouGov also asked people what they thought the rate of income tax should be on incomes over £150,000. 73% of people wanted to see an increase, with 43% saying they favoured the proposed 45p rate and 30% saying they favoured a higher rate than that. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise – polls have consistently shown that the majority of the public favour a higher rate of taxation on people they perceive as very rich… getting other people to shoulder the tax burden enjoys perennial popularity.

8 Responses to “More from today’s YouGov poll”

  1. Does anyone know if the current polling levels of the parties would lead to any “Portillo moments” at the next election?

  2. Redditch?

  3. It would be more illuminating if the 45% taxation question had also asked respondents to identify whether they themselves would be paying it, you are quite right to highlight that it is very easy to spend other people’s money. Is this not part of the economic problem that the country now faces.

  4. Not really, The more marginal leadership positions for the Labour cabinet are Alistair Darling (Edinburgh South West) and Scottish Sec. Jim Murphy- both of those need a bigger Tory lead however. (and remember its Scotland, where we Tories are dowing well by holding on 20%)

  5. I think most people have got the Governor of the Bank of England’s message that the United Kingdom Government will, for a number of years, have to Cut because nobody will lend them money, as is shown by the Government’s failure to sell all the bonds it offered earlier this week. In consequence, the traditional difference between a party offering additional services and one cutting taxes is no longer relevant. Any incoming Government will have to spend as much money as it can raise, not least on swingeing interest payments. And asking opinion poll questions about “Cuts” will become pointless, because inconsequential.

  6. the most at risk minister is MIss Jackie smith (reditch) 4.2% or their abouts majority 2.1% swing would finish her off.

  7. Ah, Jackie Smith. She of the authoritarian tendency. Wouldn’t be sorry to see her go whatever the outcome of the next election.

    Interesting how every Home Secretary since Woy Jenkins has turned into a power-crazed fanatic having started as a liberal (small l). I guess that’s what happens if you spend your days reading worst-case scenarios from MI5.

  8. Leslie,

    I think that you may find that David Waddington made his journey in the reverse direction – so was promptly shipped off to a colonial governorship for re-education.