YouGov have some new questions up on their website on Afghanistan, the alternative vote and – most topically – the government’s spending cuts. These are all questions that will be part of YouGov’s regular trackers over coming months, replacing some of the pre-election trackers that were very election campaign orientated.
Voting intention for the referendum on switching to Alternative Vote currently stands at YES 44%, NO 34%, wouldn’t vote 5% and don’t know 17%. A lead for alternative vote, but not a particularly large one. Prior to the question wording being decided, the yes and no campaigns being organised, and the public being exposed to many arguments for or against AV, I think we can only conclude that the referendum could easily go either way whenever it is called.
On Afghanistan the public have actually become rather more positive since the same questions were asked last year. 25% think British troops should be withdrawn immediately (down from 35% last year), 42% think they should be withdrawn within a year or so, and 24% are happy for them to stay for as long as the Afghan government needs them. Asked if victory over the Taliban is possible 40% think so, compared to 33% last year. 46% think it is not, down from 57%.
The most topical questions at the moment are on the government plans to cut the deficit. 49% think this will be good for the economy, with 31% thinking it will be bad. The public are more evenly divided over whether the government will make the cuts in a fair fashion – 37% think it will be done fairly, 33% unfairly. 48% of people say that the cuts are already having an impact on their own lives. The government does seem to be in strong position to blame their predecessors for harsh cuts though, asked who they blame for the cuts in public spending, 48% say the last Labour government, compared to 17% who blame the coalition (19% blame both, 9% neither).
Today YouGov also published results on what the public consider the important issues facing the country – unsurprisingly the economic remains the most important issue by far (80%), followed as usual by immigration (53%), with other issues a long way behind. Compare this, however, with a second question that asked people the most important issues facing the respondents and their families. The economy remains top by far (64%), but is now followed by tax (34%), health (32%), pensions (32%), family and childcare issues (17%) and education (16%). Immigration is right down on 12%.