Tonight’s Populus poll also apparently shows that only 45% rate their chances of voting in an immediate general election at 10/10. This compares to 51% in Populus’s last poll, and 57% in the one before the expenses row began.

Populus don’t normally include the details of the likelihood to vote question in their published tables, so we can’t really put it in a wider context. ICM however do, and we can see a similar pattern there. The graph below shows likelihood to vote in ICM’s polls since early 2006 when they began including it in their standard published tables.

The blue line is the proportion of people who rate their chances of voting at 10/10, the orange line people’s average answer. On both you can see the sharp drop in ICM’s last poll, which equalled the lowest proportion of certain to votes (47%) since 2006, and was the lowest average likelihood to vote (7.25).

39 Responses to “Is the expenses scandal driving turnout down?”

  1. Anthony – is there an effect stronger for one party than the others (i.e. is the drop across the board or more pronounced for certain parties)?

  2. I’ve seen a recent Mori poll that puts likelihood to vote at around the 53% mark.

  3. I don’t really believe the 45% figure; I think there’s a good chance it’s simply people expressing their disgruntlement with politicians by declaring that they won’t be voting. Actually turnout might be better than expected in the Euro elections because people, in the end, will probably want to register their vote even if it is for minor and/or fringe parties.

  4. Anthony,

    I think I asked this before, but if this holds up over time would it mean your Election Predictor might need to be changed to reflect more the 10/10 figure.

    Equally, you say;

    “I make some assumptions about the effect of personal votes and incumbency, in benefits for the incumbent in a seat where the MP was newly elected in 2005 and penalties where a sitting MP is standing down”

    At the moment, with the expenses scandal,shouldn’t that perhaps be reassessed.


  5. Peter,
    If nothing else, there should probably be a reassessment for Scotland in particular. The SNP is set to run up about 30% of the vote, comparable with their performance in 1974 (and with Labour likely doing somewhat worse than they did then, too), which should net them at -least- 10 seats on a uniform swing, possibly more like 20 (which Salmond has said is his target), and with most of those coming from either the LDs or Labour.

  6. This same poll says that 54% of people want a general election now, yet only 45% say they would definitely vote in it. Strange. Very strange.

  7. The expenses scandal is getting out of hand.
    Yes there are MP’s in all parties whose behaviour to quote the Prime Minister is ‘totally unacceptable” but many more than that have committed no more than what might be termed venal sins.
    I am beginning to find the holier than thou attitude of a considerable part of the public to be be full of cant and hypocrisy. We don’t need McCarthy like witch hunts here. The public should face up to the fact that if they want quality representatives in Parliament then they must pay the going rate. People do not generally go into politics to make money but they do expect to be able to sustain a decent life style as befits their station in life and provide for their families.
    The British Public should grow up.

  8. Richard B: I don’t think it’s that strange, it’s just people being disgruntled. It reminds me of that kind of situation where someone angrily demands to be included in the invitations to a party or event they’ve been excluded from but when they’re finally given an invitation they respond by loudly saying that they’re not coming after all.

  9. Nick – it’s perfectly ok to tell te tax man your buy-to-let property has become your main home, and then minimise yourt CGT liability upon sale. Perfectly lawful.

    What is generally regarded as sneaky and hypocritical is to tell the taxpayer (via the commons) that the home is a second home, claim expenses for it, and at the same time tell the taxpayer (via HMRC)the opposite and avoid CGT.

    It’s not juvenile to expect MPs (who earn a living by screaming about getting taxpayers value for money) to give value for money themselves.

    If our representatives are relatively underpaid, they should ask us for a pay rise, not dodge the issue by fiddling the expenses.

    It is they who “should grow up”

  10. John T T

    I agree.

    Although, as a side-issue, perhaps a different approach to money might be useful: encourage MPs to have 2nd jobs. That way, we might be able to ensure that they have half-a-foot in the real world.

    After the unfortunate experience of Valerie Davey as our MP (briefly), one of “Blair’s Babes”, who never let independent thought get in the way of her vote in Parliament, I wonder if having so many MPs who’ve never really tested their worth in the outside world is a good thing. Of course, this is no guarantee of an MPs’ worth!

    Also with “everyone” doing a 2nd job, perhaps scrutiny will be easier as the jobs themselves will be in the open. Or perhaps I’m being naive…

  11. Richard – I agree as long as we can agree a list of approved jobs for them to choose from. Ones that don’t normally come with expense accounts!

  12. ICM Telegraph Poll this weekend ?

    Did I hear somewher on here that we are getting an ICM Telegraph Poll on Sunday ? It will be interesting to see how it compares with ICM Guardian

    I am guessing at Con 41, Lab23, Lib 22

  13. Brown feels entitled to maintain that Hoon and Purnell did nothing wrong because for CGT purposes you only need to maintain that teh property was your main residence within teh past three years.

    However, it does seem hypocritical to purchase a property, live in it for a few months, then let it out for a couple of years before selling at a profit and still maintain that it qualifies as exempt from CGT.

    Brown is in danger of demonstrating that so long as something is “within the rules” that is okay, however dodgy it may seem to an impartial observer.

    He is also in danger of creating an “us and them” approach as between Ministers and backbenchers which seems a bit short-sighted with confidence motions likely in the not too distant future.

  14. This will blow over given time. Things will return to normal after the summer.

    The public have been betrayed because some MPs have ‘robbed the taxman’. We should be betrayed. Not one person is the Question Time audience last night has ever done such a thing. Only MPs.

    You’d never find us going on a booze trip to France, bringing back lots of fags from Spain (for personal use of course, paying cash-in-hand or being paid cash-in-hand.

    Oh no. We would never do such a thing. And journ’s and others would never overclaim on expenses. Never.

  15. Sunbeam – I’m surprised you didn’t go on to say “None of us has ever over-spent the household budget, overstretched the credit card, given too much of the bank’s money to other people,. Oh No, Never. Or told our friends we were going to do something and then backed out at the last minute with cold feet. Or told any fibs whatsoever. Never, etc.

    The difference is that we out here don’t claim to be above reproach, and aren’t shovelling taxpayer’s money into our families’ pockets at the same time as telling taxpayers to tighten their belts.

  16. Paul – I inderstand that the taxman would require full and frank disclosure before determining the level at which CGT would be charged. A lot of the tax rules are probably steeped in dodginess, ethically speaking, so there’s nothing I can see as special about this particular wheeze.

  17. John TT,

    If inheritance tax is voluntary, in many cases CGT is equally so. Most people who end up with two properties at a time, for whatever reason, will endeavour to sell the second in a manner that reduces their CGT liability. It ain’t dificult, especially if the property has not been continously let since purchase.

    In all probability Hazel Blears is no more guilty of tax evasion – or even avoidance – on her CGT than either Hoon or Purnell. She may have been trying to maximise her allowances, but I don’t think she deliberately set out to reduce her tax bill. It strikes me that she has shown herself more as naive than deceitful. Which makes Brown’s lack of support for her all the more political rather than moral.

  18. John TT –

    The problem is John, right now the impression is that some do seem to think they are above reproach.

    I’m not justifying the MPs – I’m just fed up of the hyperbole about it. The bottom line is that this is much bigger news because we are in recession. What they’ve done hacks people off far more in this economy. It’s the economy, stupid. Always is.

    The same thing happened with the Poll Tax. All about timing. If it was 1999 I doubt this would have caused such a stink. Personally I’d pay them £80k p/a and dump the expenses.

    What I found far more of a joke yesterday was Premier Brown’s tea and biccys with the Gurkhas. Now that was first class hypocrisy.

    On the 6th May 2010 I expect turnout to top 60%. Some Labour voters will stay away as they’re fed up. Some Tories will not bother because they’ll know the Tories will be set for a landslide.

  19. John TT –

    The problem is John, right now the impression is that some MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC do seem to think they do behave above reproach.

  20. Sunbeam – Not sure if we are disagreeing, but I had exactly the same feeling of nausea when I saw Cameron doing high fives with Ms Lumley in the ridiculous attempt to put his party on their side for the first time ever.

    They are all the same. It will be interesting to see who the replacement PPCs are.

  21. @Nick Keene at 8.34am – I have to agree. It’s all very silly and mostly overblown. Everyone agrees the system of expenses is wrong and needs reform, and that in 2009 there really isn’t any excuse for some level of outside overview of parliamentary behaviour. However, most MPs operated within the system – they need to feel comfortable about presenting themselves for election again, but it ends there.

    Much, much more serious is how parliament actually works. Governments only concern these days is the media, and there is no effective scutiny of departments. Parliament is supine and stripped of effective powers where the sitting government has near total control of the agenda. Hence everything is put into winning the media debate leading to crass soundbite politics with no underlying principles. If the public cared about this I might be more interested, but for heaven’s sake, we’ve just been through a probably illegal war that killed thousands and cost billions – what’s so important about a duck house?

  22. I think Sunbeam makes some good points. To be slightly tongue-in-cheek, surely if most people break the rules every so often we can’t complain about MPs doing the same since they’re supposed to be representative of the people? I’ve never actually heard an MP claiming to be better than the public. Maybe that’s something that the public imagine MPs think because they use words like”honorable” and have funny procedures, etc.

  23. John TT –

    I agree that DC jumped on the Ghurkha bandwagon. It was Clegg’s victory. However, AFAIK Cameron never opposed the Ghurkhas and then pretended he did not do a U-turn. Nor did claim one thing one week (they’ll cost us £1.4bn) and then another the next week (they’ll only cost £300m).

    But yes, I think we both agree that all politicians say what suits them usually. Lots of hypocrisy all around.

    Incidentally, good luck to the politician who has to sell raising taxes (such as the new 50p band) with the line that we all have to pay our bit.

  24. Andy – I actually agree with far more of what I read than I let on – I just like an argument :)

    as far as “and have funny procedures, etc” I can personally confirm that I am a kettle and they are pots.


    Euro voting intention

    Con 30%
    Lab 24%
    LD 18%
    UKIP 10%
    Grn 9%
    SNP + PC 4%
    BNP 1%
    Oth 3%

  26. That 1% for the BNP looks very suspicious to me.

  27. Hve we had a euro poll from YouGov yet? I remember they got the mayoral result absolutely spot on, so it’d be interesting to see what their polling is telling them re. this european election?

  28. Anthony – how does decreased “likelyhood to vote” potentialy distort the picture? Presumably if filters are based on how someone voted last time then if there is a “likelihood to vote” decrease this would filter out many of the so-called “floating voters”. Do we have the unfiltered raw data without the filters?Maybe it wishful thinking (as I am a conservative), but is there a possibility that the Tory vote might be being underestimated here?

  29. Paul H-J

    I think the issue here is that Hazel Blears has been deceitful. I am inclined to believe that what she did was entirely legal from a CGT perspective (avoidance not evasion). However, to simultaneously tell the HoC that it was her second home to maximise the allowances she received is what is unacceptable.

    The public has a right to expect that those who we elect to represent us (and those who are appointed to the Cabinet in particular) will behave in a fair and straightforward manner.

  30. “I think the issue here is that Hazel Blears has been deceitful”

    ….mmm yes…if you read the Accountancy press comments, there is some question as to who actually received that cheque.

    There was no liability to CGT, so it has been suggested’ the “tax” paid with such a flourish by HB will have simply been returned by HMRC…??

  31. So I will go for a 30% turnout instead of 35%.
    Anyone challenge that with their pediction?

  32. In talking about the group of MP’s I deem to be behaving in an unacceptable fashion I should have thought it was fairly clear that I was referring to those MP’s who the likes of john tt have now rushed out to condemn. Mind you even then each case should be judged on ite merits.
    I sense without having done a head count that most of the MP’s who are perceived to have milked the system are from the pre 2001 intake ie the longer standing members who have grown accustomed to treating their expense form as a kind of entitllement so over the years they have become more and more casual about what exactly they put down and all of it with the encouragement of the fees office. In lieu of the pay rise they should have had ages ago but dared not take because of the public outcry. I repeat that the public need to grow and realise that if you pay peanuts then you will get monkeys.
    I have met many MP’s through my job over the years from all parties and I simply do not agree that these people are felons.

  33. I am a little puzzled, the LibDems are supposed to be the Party that supports Europe most, and in the Euro elections this normally means they get a much lower vote then at other elections.
    The latest opinion polls put them at 18% for the Euro’s
    at this rate for the Counties they should be on 22/24%
    Can someone throw light on this ?

  34. Laz,

    Too high, nearer 25% – probably 27-28% on average.

    Remember that the turnout in 2004 was inflated by all-postal voting in several regions. That is not happening this time, and with no local elections in Scotland, Wales, London, North East and large chunks of metropolitan England (affects NW, Y&H and WM most) we could see some areas drop as low as 20% turnout with 30% at the top end of the scale.

  35. “if you pay peanuts then you will get monkeys”

    We certainly have some of the latter at Westminster.

    Are they being paid “peanuts”?-when you compare the salary with those in a profession say who have had to gain a qualification by years of study?

    Some may have professional qualifications of course, together with the associated expertise one hopes…..but it is not a requirement in order to be an MP.

    You can just be a monkey-all you have to do is get elected.

    I heard Nadine Dorries on radio this morning describing MPs as “professionals”. I think they get themselves way out of focus sometimes-that’s why they started troughing.

  36. “Richard B

    This same poll says that 54% of people want a general election now, yet only 45% say they would definitely vote in it. Strange. Very strange.”

    Not really – many people feel overworked and underpaid and would be happy for someone else to do their voting for them!

  37. …anyway it’s not the expenses scandal that’s driving turnout down, that’s just the surface of the ocean of resentment…. the straw that’s broken the camel’s back etc…

  38. Paul H-J
    Thanks for your opinion – just a little under my guestimate!
    In my area 22% have postal votes and I realise some have moved etc but many will use them. I wonder if the figures holds up in all parts of the country?
    Certainly there is a feeling of ”why should I vote” and of course the postal votes go out now, this the feeling gets voted on now (or not) and not on 4th June!
    Any other guesses please?