Two new Sunday polls

We’ve been a fortnight without a poll, but after a bit of a drought we have two tomorrow, ICM in the Sunday Mirror and YouGov in the Sunday Times.

Topline figures for ICM are CON 43%(+2), LAB 26%(-1) LDEM 19%(-1) – changes are from the last ICM poll, conducted all the way back in early/mid July. I think this is the second largest lead ICM have ever recorded for the Conservatives, the highest being 20 points in June 2008.

Topline figures for YouGov, with changes from a week ago, are CON 42%(+1), LAB 28%(+1), LDEM 18%(nc). Presumably, with all the main parties up one point, the drop comes purely from the “other” parties continuing to return to normal as the European election effect declines.

Two polls, neither showing much overall change. I haven’t seen the actual dates of the fieldwork confirmed yet, but they were likely both done on or around Thursday and Friday, so in the middle of the “WeLovetheNHS” fuss, suggesting no vast effect.

I would be slightly dubious about any big shift in Summer polls anyway. In theory there is a risk of samples being slightly strange because of people on holiday, although in practice summertime doesn’t normally produce too many wierd and wacky polls. I’ve always believed the summer break has the potential to help out a government in trouble, since the August diet of human interest stories about skateboarding dogs is a break from political bad news, though obviously there isn’t any sign of a summer recovery for Labour yet.

More to come later on, ICM apparently includes questions on Peter Mandleson as Labour leader.

UPDATE: Whoops, the YouGov figure for the Lib Dems should be 18%(nc), not 19%.

128 Responses to “Two new Sunday polls”

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  1. The left & right labels are completely inadequate to summarise modern political, economic, moral views….but if they’re used at all, they’re definitely relative….directions afterall. So Cable probably is fairly left to Rich, if a little right to me.

    The Labour conference stands out as major for me, in part because it depends on the other things. Experts are saying we will be out of recession in teh 3rd quarter, if that’s looking a certain result labour could have a solid, offensive, conference…..if looking a little shaky, they could go to pieces.

    Quickly on another note….many of those mortages due to be paid in full are likely to be sold off again for old person costs.

  2. “However is it so terribly wrong to do what one can for one’s own grandchildren? If so why?”

    That’s the big, possibly unsolvable problem….most sane people would agree that everyone deserves an equal chance in life, but most sane people would also agree that people should be able to provide for their kids….and the two go against each other.

  3. @Colin – if you carefully read what I said, I touch on exactly those issues. I only said it was an odd position ‘in some ways’ given their historic approval of wealth creators and reward for effort. And the point about decimated pension plans is another point I touched on – this is why I said governments need to work on a value for money scheme, perhaps where asset values are calculated over a long period, and not on the day you retire, giving some protection from market swings.
    I also said the inheritance issue is a problem, as you pointed out.
    The one area where you refrained from engaging in the debate is the central question – why should the taxpayer (who the Tories love to protect in all other circumstances) be forced to fork out large sums of money to look after the ailing elderly, while allowing them to keep a hold of high value assets that could be used to fund their care?
    It is a genuinely difficult area and I have no great ideological hang ups about finding a system that works. But the simple truth is that we have an elderly population growing by about 1% per year. The long term growth trend of the economy is about 2.5%. Therefore, although there is a pensions/care home cash crisis looming if we only think about income based taxes, as a shrinking workforce will need to pay more, there is no crisis if we think of new ways to unlock long term growth in asset values and direct a proportion of these towards the problem. So long as the trend growth outstrips the growth of the OAP population and we get this policy right there’s absolutely no reason to think there will be a problem in the future. Your responses however are fairly typical of many, particularly Tory leaning supporters. Somehow you’ve got to come up with a better solution.

  4. @David D – “However is it so terribly wrong to do what one can for one’s own grandchildren?”
    No it isn’t – that’s the real difficulty here. But at the same time, if you require expensive care in your old age, should I pay for it, just to make sure your grandchildren ‘get a good start in life?’. It’s a real toughie. One other consideration though. If less money is passed down from middle class parents but used to fund retirement/care etc, this would have the effect of restricting younger generations home purchases to a price level they could afford through their own economic activity (smaller deposits, larger loans etc) and would help to suppress house prices to more responsible levels over time. This is something all young people would benefit from.
    As I say – I’m not ideological about this. I just feel that we’ve long undervalued assets and wealth in the UK tax system, and as a result those in work have had to shoulder an excessive tax burden.

  5. Well Alec-my responses derive from my core beliefs-which in this regard could be summed up as follows:-

    Adequate care for the aged is a priority , and a defining marker for a civilised society.

    People who have income inadequate for their care must be subsidised by the State.

    People who have adequate income in old age will clearly use it to care for themselves.

    To quote Tony Blair – “I don’t want my children growing up in a country where older people have to sell their homes to fund their long term care”. I don’t think he meant what you describe as “high value assets”-he meant the average owner of the average sort of home.

    For people with substantial wealth in old age, there is clearly a level beyond which the State should have no need to intervene-and most of those people , I imagine will have no wish for the State to do so.

    So it’s all a balance of contribution between the State & the Individual , with the State recognising that earned lifetime income converted into a housing asset has already been taxed, and should in general be freely available to the owner for bequeathing as they wish. Equally the individual must recognise that the Taxpayer has limits.

    All stating the obvious -but the principles are important.

    I’m happy to leave the detail to a Cameron Government safe in the knowledge that they won’t see “middle class ” taxpayers purely as an arm of the Treasury.

    Digressing, it always amuses me to hear Obama refering to the “the middle classes” . In USA that term defines the vast majority of hard working taxpayers. In this country, under this government, it is a term of social abuse & a taxation target.

  6. @Alec:-

    “As I say – I’m not ideological about this. I just feel that we’ve long undervalued assets and wealth in the UK tax system, and as a result those in work have had to shoulder an excessive tax burden.”

    You seem to make a value judgement about those who posess “assets & wealth”. And its interesting that you conflate the two.

    Are “assets” wealth?

    If a lifetimes earned & taxed income is converted into assets, why should that be considered available to subsidise those with no such assets?

    Why are savers & the prudent, not to mention those with the skills & enterprise to generate wealth, to be considered not amongst “the vast majority of hard working taxpayers”?

    It’s as though you feel that the fruits of a lifetime’s effort must be put in a box at the end of that lifetime, and disposed of at the State’s discretion, rather than the discretion of those who generated it. Why is that desirable & what is it’s purpose?

    If you are yearning for that nirvana of the left-equality of outcome-you will not find it-and certainly not by penal fiscal redistribution policies.

    Equality of life opportunity is difficult enough to strive for because people’s intellect, abilities, skills, desires, initiative, & personal characteristics differ.

    Equality of life outcomes is impossible-and debatably not even desirable.

  7. @Colin
    “It’s as though you feel that the fruits of a lifetime’s effort must be put in a box at the end of that lifetime, and disposed of at the State’s discretion, rather than the discretion of those who generated it. Why is that desirable & what is it’s purpose?”

    The purpose is equality of opportunity, every person born to a rich family is, by default, a result of other people being born into poor families. If you’re due to inherit a few million, or even just a few hundred k, you’re set for life….

    It’s a very tricky subject, personally as far as home ownership goes I’m something of a geoist…..but even that doesn’t stop people inheriting businesses, or a bankfull of cash….and many would say it shouldn’t. It is, a very difficult question and I don’t think there is or can be a right or wrong answer to it.

    The specific point of old age care, I think most would agree it should be a given….like the NHS, that everyone is entitled to a decent minimum standard of it, regardless…..although perhaps the minimum should be a fair bit lower than the standard of care we expect from the NHS, as people don’t get left with no money in old age by pure chance so much as they get sick….

    I think perhaps that may be the way to do it, no government pension….but a free minimum standard nursing home for citizens over a certain age….possibly work out cheaper, and relatively fair. The rich would be entitled to a place…..but wouldn’t want it, the poor would get it, those inbetween could choose between providing for themselves, or living there and boosting it a little with what money they have.

    Any far left notion of equality of outcome is long since dead, and equality of opportunity is difficult….but we can do, or at least aim for….a decent guaranteed minimum standard of outcome and reasonable opportunity for all.

    Still leaves the problem of how to fund it of course. Some form of stiffer inheritance tax seems the most sensible in the short term, in the long…pension tax and a norwegian style fund seems the clear leading option.

  8. @Wood

    ” every person born to a rich family is, by default, a result of other people being born into poor families”

    Nonsense-complete bollocks-please explain how.

    “The purpose is equality of opportunity,”

    No it isn’t-it’s equality of outcomes & it won’t work.

    “Opportunity” derives from Education,Parental care, Initiative & Hard Work-spreading everyones wealth around like jam won’t provide it.

    “Any far left notion of equality of outcome is long since dead, ”

    Oh I don’t think so Wolf!!-they may say equality of opportunity, but what they mean is equality of wealth.

    Just wait & see how the class warriors react if Brown goes down-and if Harman is still around the “equality ” bandwagon will role as Labour revert to type.

  9. Yes I know the question of inheritance I raised is difficult but related issues are just as problematic. How, at age 65 plus, do you relate the following?

    Someone who sells a house in say London and moves to a flat in the cotswolds? Net gain in cash terms up to £1M or may be more.

    Same person equally conscientious sells house in cotwolds and buys the same flat there? Net gain £150K.

    Finally same person lives in rented accommodation and buys top of the range cars and spends money on short term lifestyle benefits. Net gain NIL

    We have freedom of choice but who picks up the tab if assets not available?

    In my view these questions cannot be answered entirely satisfactorily but the nearest I can suggest is that if assets are acquired from taxed income then they should be free to use as desired. State to provide a minimum level available to those without assets but an additional top up to a fixed level for those with limited assets.

    Not perfect of course but alternatives seem rather thin on the ground!

  10. @Colin – “If you are yearning for that nirvana of the left-equality of outcome-you will not find it-and certainly not by penal fiscal redistribution policies.”

    I’m afraid this characterization of my comments is nonsense, and I think you know it. At no point have I mentioned anything to do with redistribution of wealth. What I’m saying is that I believe there are better ways to provide prudent hard working people with better options to fund a more comfortable old age while allowing a more comfortable working life also.
    “Are “assets” wealth?” – well yes, absolutely. All I’m doing is suggesting treating wealth tied up in bricks and mortar in exactly the same way as we treat wealth tied up in cash deposit accounts. The reactions to this demonstrate the emotion tied up with this issue.

  11. @Alec
    “At no point have I mentioned anything to do with redistribution of wealth. ”

    so what did you mean by this then?

    “I just feel that we’ve long undervalued assets and wealth in the UK tax system, and as a result those in work have had to shoulder an excessive tax burden.”

    And I don’t really understand this :-

    “All I’m doing is suggesting treating wealth tied up in bricks and mortar in exactly the same way as we treat wealth tied up in cash deposit accounts”.

    Interest on cash deposits & rental income on property are both taxed-in addition to which capital gains tax & IHT may be levied on property values depending on circumstances.
    What makes you feel property should be further taxed?

  12. Colin – be careful. Before you know it the Treasury will be suggesting a tax on the imputed rental income from a property even if it is owner occupied. Sounds far-fetched ? Not at all. In France Mitterand introduced such a tax on imputed rental income from second homes even if they were not let (along with a wealth tax on the capital value of assets).

  13. There are many different types of “equality”

    A – equality of ability
    B – equality of circumstance
    C – equality of opportunity
    D – equality of outcome

    Plus, one should never confuse “equality” with “uniformity”.

    A is a nonsense. No matter how much “progressive” educationalists propound their theories for disrupting the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, there will always be children of different gifts and abilities: some academics, some dullards, but most distributed somewhere between the two. To suggest that all children are equally “able” and that relative educational success is down to the level of “privilege”
    flies against the facts.

    B is determined not just by the accident of birth, but
    also by random events through one’s life. It is neither desirable nor possible to achieve equality of circumstance, but as a society, we need to take account of how we help those on whom fortune has smiled less favourably.

    C is desirable in principle, but very difficult to deliver in practice. This is where political discourse should be focused. However, this is also an area where we should most beware the difference between equality and uniformity.

    D is only achievable by imposing uniformity at the lowest common denominator. This is where redistribution of wealth is at its most pernicious. I would argue that this is most definitely not desirable.

    Only when the body politic accepts that social and fiscal policy should be directed to the promotion of equality of opportunity, and that this will not result in equality of outcome, can we then move on to debate how we address the consequences of different outcomes arising from:

    a – different abilities
    b – different circumstances of fortune
    c – different application of ability to opportunity (i.e. the choices made during life)

    Unfortunately, too many people have gone into politics to offer equality of outcome with a total disregard to either ability or effort.

  14. “Unfortunately, too many people have gone into politics to offer equality of outcome with a total disregard to either ability or effort.”

    Indeed so Paul-let’s call a spade a spade-the politics of envy & victimhood.

    If Labour lose the GE, we will , I think see the “equality of outcomes” brigade & the class warriors flex their muscles in what’s left of the PLP-possibly lead by Ms. Harman, the equality queen.
    It’s where Labour feel really comfortable when there is a Tory Government.

    I have a feeling Cameron’s Conservatives will leave these people looking & sounding out of time & out of date.

  15. @Colin and Paul HJ – I agree wholeheartedly with Paul’s A-D analysis. I’m not aware of anyone on this forum who supports D (nor does Harriet Harman – I understand she wants to see women get paid the same as men when they do the same job with the same abilities – does Colin have a problem with that?).
    You’re also missing the point that, in general, a fair tax system would normally not involve low and middle earners paying the highest proportion of their incomes in tax, which is what we currently have in the UK. This is what I see as Labour’s biggest failure, but the Tories have also failed miserably on this. I find it quite staggering that someone working a 38 hr week on minimum wage has to pay something like 16% of their wages in direct taxes at a 32% marginal tax rate. The tax system was devised in an era when wage income was the predominant form of economic activity within families, and when property and asset holdings were much less widespread and smaller in relative terms – relying on income based taxes made sense. Today the situation is different, yet the tax system hasn’t substantialy altered.
    You need to understand, I’m not for high tax/high spend. If this plan works, I would see it as a vehicle to help families and individuals develop much more efficient savings methods for their old age, and the money released would enable governments to genuinely rebalance and reduce taxes on earned income to encourage more jobs and greater incentive to work.
    While I’m their, I’d like to see a move towards a lifetime limit for benefit claims and a law stating that if an individual is convicted of any crime involving attempted financial gain (however small) they would have to prove legitimate and legal ownership of every single asset in their name, and if they couldn’t it would be forfeit, with no right to benefits. Neither of these policies are what you, Rich and others might normally call ‘left wing’. The general characterisation of my comments as a ‘nirvana of the left’ does not reflect my thoughts or views, but does avoid the need to actually think carefully about the ideas and whether they would produce a better system than we have now. Something needs to be done, as there will be significant integenerational conflicts soon, as the transfer of wealth from current earners to the retired really kicks in.

  16. Britain’s public finances plunged far deeper into the red last month than the City expected, recording a record July deficit of £8bn as tax receipts slumped.

    This was the biggest July shortfall since records began in 1993 in a month that traditionally records a surplus.

    Public-sector net borrowing was £8.016bn – much worse than analysts’ forecasts of a £500m shortfall and the first time the government finances have been in the red in July since 1996. This was in sharp contrast to the surplus of £5.2bn a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said.

    Analysts now fear that Alistair Darling’s prediction of a record £175bn deficit this fiscal year is too conservative. Stephen Lewis, at Monument Securities said: “Very disappointing figure on public sector finances. It indicates that the downturn in the economy is making deep inroads into tax receipts and that we may well end the year with an even larger deficit than was projected in the Budget.”

    Source the GUARDIAN!!!!!!!

    What will the anti Labour media be saying if this is their friends response?

  17. Julys deficit was 16 times!!! bigger than expected.

  18. Alec,

    Long before we can devise a truly fair tax system we have to first of all address the fundamentals of what we expect / demand from government by way of public services, how those services are to be delivered, how much we are willing to pay for those services, and thus what the overall tax burden (averaged over the economic cycle) should be.

    It obviously follows that the more we demand from government by way of services, the higher the burden will be. But it is also the case that if we are content for the government to manage those services in an inefficient manner, and/or for our tax system to be operated in an opaque and unduly complex way, that this will add to the cost and so too to the tax burden.

    We need transparency in public servcies, both in terms of what they cost and how they are financed.
    We also need simplicity in our services – not just for the sake of transparency, but also for the sake of efficiency and cost effectiveness.

    Finally, it is self-evident that most individuals would prefer to retain a greater share of the wealth they generate and exercise greater control over how it is spent for their personal benefit. We would not be content for someone else to take a slice of our earnings and decide for us how it is to be spent on our housing, motoring, or holidays. Why should we be content for that to be the case in so many other areas ?

    If politicians bore this in mind, it would help focus government expenditure on those matetrs which truly do need to be provided collectively, and stop interfering in other areas which should be a matter for private individuals to determine in free and fair exchange with each other.

    The horrific state of the public finances will force the next government (of whatever party to carry out a fundamental review of public services to determine what must be continued and where savings must be made.

  19. All of the comments about the state of the public finances are spot on. sadly, all of our political parties are peddling lies about how we will fund them in the future. The Tories want to increase spending on the NHS and Labour want to carry on spending on everything regardless.

    There is total dishonesty about the NHS. It is awful and the evidence that it is can be found in the fact that we come bottom in just about every league table to do with health. The media actively promotes a ridiculous sentimentality about the NHS without actually giving room for any proper anlysis of whether it actually serves us well now. It is incredible that people do not realise that we are the only country in the world with this system. Only the truly arrogant would put that down to the fact that we are very clever; the more sane would realise that everyone else in the world can recognise what a hopeless model it is.

    Quite possibly the only opportunity we will have to get some debate will be when the country is finally and totally bankrupt.

  20. @ Paul H-J – “Long before we can devise a truly fair tax system”

    “Fair” is an interesting concept. There are so many different ideas about what this means with regards wealth distribution and redistribution.

    For example, for some people “a truly fair tax system” means the reallocation of wealth according to perceived need and an idea of the “equal” society.

    But for others “fair” is about reward for effort, talent etc. So Joe X thinks “I’ve worked 80 hour weeks for 10 years to build up my business. Why should I pay even more tax to support workshy Fred W and his 9 children?”

  21. James,

    By “fair” I mean equitable and not “equal” (see my post above on the subject of equality).

    In terms of Taxation, “fair” would include both clear and consistent as well as not being punitive. The Tax structure should be based on raising needed revenue in a simple and cost-effective manenr without distorting behaviour. Tax ought not be used as a tool of social engineering (though that is what most proponents of redistribution want).

    The funding of the workshy and redistributive aspects arise in terms of what government spends. Obviously, the more government spends, the more it needs to raise in taxes – unless one believes in endogenous growth theory and its ability to abolish the economic cycle.

  22. Soon we can all expect a nationwide Postal strike YIPPEEEE!!

    Its not like we are trying to come out of recession is it.

    Of course the Government of the day would be strongly agianst it & would say so in public,its not like they need the communications union money to help fight a GE in 9 months is it,OH WAIT!!!

  23. @Paul HJ – I fully agree, although I suspect there is also a case where people will support higher taxes if the money is well spent. Waste is very prevalent in government spending, and this probably more than anything else is what upsets people. However, it is undoubtedly true that the public needs to be grown up about what we want and how much we are prepared to pay for it.

  24. Alec,

    Call me an old cynic if you will, but the idea of the public behaving in a grown-up way about public services and spending (especially on health) strikes me as a bit fanciful.

    As for higher taxes – people will always support thenm if they believe the new taxes – even VAT – will be paid by other people . Ah how naive the public can be.

  25. Paul – You’re probably right. The media has a lot to answer for also, but it’s swimming against the tide to try and generate any kind of sensible public debate if it can’t be summed up in less than 140 characters or a 10 second soundbite. It’s why I don’t see any improvement forthcoming under Cameron and no sign of the kind of politics we need to sort out the problems from any of the parties.

  26. I think the inherent danger in an over-progressive taxation system is that those who have the ability and inclination to make money simply won’t bother.

    Being taxed at 60% on your income, then spending that on a home and being taxed another 3% stamp duty, and taxed at 17.5% on any improvement you make to that home, and paying £2,000 a year in council tax and then incurring inheritance tax on the property when you want to pass it on to your children is enough to make some people think “maybe I’ll just go into social housing and let some other dumb prat do the work”.

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