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actually become rather more positive since the same questions were asked last year. 25% think British troops should be withdrawn immediately (down from 35% last year), 42% think they should be withdrawn within a year or so, and 24% are happy for them to stay for as long as the Afghan government needs them.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%.

265 Responses to “Latest YouGov trackers”

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  1. @ COLIN

    Economic growth will be prioritised.
    Then zero growth will be all the more embarrassing, if that’s what happens. 8-)

  2. AMBER

    What a little ray of sunshine you are ;-)

  3. John B Dick,

    Oh I do love Scottish politics…..

    I do think under STV the Greens would be a serious option… in the Westminsters that is…

  4. BillyBob,

    Do you know how the Suez came to be in British posession?

    Disraeli borrowed a couple of million (£2.25 I think) to buy it… the french also had a stake. He borrowed it off none other that the Rothchilds….. how the world travels in circles eh?

    But yes- of course healthy criticism….. better than providing a harbour for Pinochet’s transportation

  5. Eoin
    “I do love Scottish polotics”
    For anyone interested, the best-known pro-SNP blogger has a response to current polling evidence on “snp tacical voting”
    Also D Milliband making quiite a biig point about Scottish Labour in his commuications

  6. @ Eoin

    Even more interesting that the French holding in the Suez Canal was private, while the British was state…

    Having said that the French encouraged the aggression against Egypt because they hoped that that would stop the Algerian liberation movement.

  7. D. Milliband surprisingly aggressive, precise and effective on Newsnight. Might change my mind (not so quickly though). Though I have to admit that when his Tory opponent devided the 80 million by the number of jobs to be created to show that it was not value for money I switched off.

    It seems the government parties were not properly briefed about dealing with today’s announcement (Huhne clearly struggled on QT even though he had really easy opponents).

  8. Laszlo,

    Yes DM has his personality and intelligence sorted. It is very luring… and would make him very electable. Very very hard not to like

    But how important are policies?

    That is my downfall- I think they are the only thing that is important

  9. @ Eoin

    Yes. That’s the only important thing… He does not talk about policies… Thinking about it… There are not many talks about policies… Or it’s just too late in the night…

  10. I think there ia real anger on the Labour benches, contrasting to smugness on the tory side. The question is how long can the likes of Simon Hughes support an economic policy diametrically opposed to the Lib Dem manifesto, which is ideologically not economically driven.

  11. In today’s FT Samuel Brittan has an unusually scathing attack on the government’s economic policy. He wrote: “David Cameron and George Osborne are behaving like owners of a whelk stall rather than economic managers of a nation with its own currency.” (he also calls Cameron a populist demagogue).

    It could be important in forming opinions (though not the mass opinion) – his ideological change reflected in his articles in the 1970s was one of the channels in which the end of the great compromise and the disillusionment with Keynesianism was disseminated.

    Before the elections there was a poll among City people and leading businessmen that was not favourable to GO. The FT is their paper, so instead of the Sun, we can see how the FT influences opinions, if at all.


    Simon Hughes sent out a 6 page (A4) justification of the coalition to all those who emailed him after the election. He was clearly very edgy about the whole enterprise. I expect to see Hughes break ranks by the Autumn and if he does so this will put great pressure on Vince who like Hughes has a Labour party background,

    Interesting times!

  13. @Laszlo
    Some of the dislike of GO from City people is because they do not like his desire to regulate them and to apply a windfall tax. They were very happy with the previous regime with light touch regulation and CGT at 18%. The City’s opinion is usually based on self-interest.
    The FT stopped being the house journal some time ago. It sells more copies abroad esp in Europe than domestically.

  14. @Laszlo – the Prestons and Flanders of this world read the FT as will business editors of other papers etc.
    GO is very young for a chancellor, especially from the perspective of the Brittan bros. Listening to DC the other day his focus is day to day, keeping people on board.
    Coalition need some narrative beyond ‘we’re in a mess/it’s all Labour’s fault’ – Nick Clegg last night sounded like every teenager’s nightmare dad “The money doesn’t exist!”

  15. @ Aleksandar

    “The FT stopped being the house journal some time ago. It sells more copies abroad esp in Europe than domestically.”

    Thanks. I did not know it. The European edition is quite different.

    I agree with you on the self-interest basis of the City opinion (but I suppose it’s true for most of the electorate). However, the article is vehemently against fiscal austerity.

    If you are right about the fallen influence of the FT in the City, then it is quite possible that it was written for the civil service or the Conservative Party.

  16. @ Billy Bob

    OK, probably I far overestimated the influence of the FT. Though I have no doubt that the article will be on the desk of ministers and politicians in the daily media digest.

    Your point about the narrative is interesting, because, although not in so many words, he suggests that DC should kind of accept Labour’s narrative and that the British establishment turned the “whether to” into “how to” and he calls it a trick.

    Huhne on QT offered a different narrative – the danger of the Greek example, but I attributed it to LibDem justification for the policy change since the election campaign.

  17. @Laszlo
    Thinking about it, the Sun probably is the house journal on the dealing room floor.

  18. @ BILLY BOB

    ” every teenager’s nightmare dad “The money doesn’t exist!””

    Having watched the proceedings in the HoC, and the antics on the opposition benches, I think “teenagers” is a very aposite description of the latter.

    Byrne only needed some hair & a baseball cap to be Harry Enfield’s Kevin to perfection.

    Though, in light of the pork barrel list revealed by the Chief Secretary, a different accent and a stetson might have been more appropriate. ;-)

  19. @Colin – “Economic growth will be prioritised” – I’m afraid there is little real sign of that. GO’s election plans to reduce corporation tax were good in parts, but he proposes to fund these through removing investment tax reliefs that help industries develop. In effect his policy will help business profits and shareholders but not encourage investment for the future and has rightly been criticised by industrialists.

    Cancelling the forgemasters loan is just another example of wrongheaded thinking. The Tory spokesman mentioned above calculating the cost per job created by dividing £80m by 400 shows just how
    little they understand their own policies – it’s a loan, that will be repaid, vastly reducing the long run cost to the taxpayer, if indeed there is any cost. Additionally, these are extremely high value jobs, not so much in the salary rates but in the high profit margins of the contracts gained and the CT this will bring.
    I’m not surprised about Sam Brittain’s view although I am not yet going that far until I see a little more.

    There is theme emerging of misapplied policies. Gove’s academies plans are another example. If local education authourities are the ‘problem’, why offer fast track academy status to excellent schools where there isn’t a problem?

    According to Gove’s analysis it’s failing schools being held back by LEA’s – but he is releasing schools from the opposite end of the performance spectrum. Clearly LEA’s can’t be the ultimate problem, otherwise we wouldn’t have successful schools ready for academy status. If academy status is the answer, it’s the poor schools that should be liberated.

    In the 1980s the Tories rewarded success and forgot about the rest. I’m getting increasingly worried that we are seeing this mindset return one again.

  20. The trouble with Cameron and the Conservatives is not that they’re populist, but they are nothing but populist. Even on genuinely popular policies such as the weekly bin collection, Eric Pickles is going around making himself look stupid (yeah, I know) denouncing the Audit Commission for advice it never issued about saving money (which is its job).

    On a more serious topic, Gove’s pet project of do-it-yourself schools seems to be about to finally push education policy into complete chaos. In theory of course the “let a thousand flowers bloom” idea should be fine, but it’s hardly going to work at a time of financial cutbacks. Given that it was mainly promoted by a handful of pushy metropolitan parents (admittedly all Daily Telegraph columnists), it was never going to enthuse most people. When extreme Islamists, Scientologists, etc start wanting them, they’re going to get really popular.

    In the meantime, of course, they could well bring down the whole structure of LA education, already undermined by Labour’s Academies.

    It all goes back to the lack of any defining principles in the Cameroons. Their populism has become an end in itself and there’s no underlying feeling of where they want the country to go.

  21. @ Aleksandar

    “Thinking about it, the Sun probably is the house journal on the dealing room floor.”

    Don’t know if I should cry or laugh…

    But of course, if you mean the youngsters slaving away… Yes, I can agree.

  22. Colin “Byrne only needed some hair & a baseball cap…”

    Your comment reminds me of a mental image I retain of William Hague shortly after becoming leader of the Con party. If I recall correctly his cap carried his name (just in case he lost it?).


  23. ALEC

    re Forgemasters-do you know of any reason why a company with the excellent prospects it claims, cannot raise finance in the markets, or from the banks?

  24. ROGER

    “they could well bring down the whole structure of LA education, already undermined by Labour’s Academies.”

    Ah-so the important thing is that LAs control the provision of schools -rather than that the provision of schools meets the requirements of parents & children?

  25. “Their populism has become an end in itself and there’s no underlying feeling of where they want the country to go.”

    This is a beauty Roger.

    Sums it all up for me. ;-)

  26. There are two things about yesterdays announcement that rile. Firstly the continuing false hoods “Things are much worse than we expected” and ” Labour went on a spending spree to buy the election/leave the economy in a mess because they knew they were going to lose”. I thought the OBR stats would have killed the effectiveness of this line off. Secondly the sheer willful ignorance expresses in cutting things like the Forgemaster LOAN. There arguments could make sense if it was a grant but this deal would have probably turned a profit for the government as the interest was going to be above inflation.

  27. Colin

    It’s not so much that LA’s control the provision of schools – it’s just that someone has to. At the moment, like it or not, that’s the LA’s. I suspect that the parent without any school to send a child to will not be much reassured by being told that the market will provide or much pleased by being told to set one up themselves.

    At least local authorities and their schools are susceptible to direct political pressure from the public. Strange really, that for all the calls for Big Society organisation to run things, when faced with institutions that actually are local and democratic, like all its predecessors, start throwing rocks.

  28. Sorry, that should end:
    “this Government, like all its predecessors, starts throwing rocks”

    And it should be “Big Society organisations”. (I nearly wrote “BS organisations” – not clever with abbreviations this lot). ;)

  29. @GrahamBC
    I’m sorry but it is not the govt’s job to be lending money to projects , good or bad. This is clearly the job of the banks and the debt market. It is the failure of the banks to return to sensible lending practices that needs attention. I am surprised that RBS or Lloyds have not been lent on to ‘improve their lending figures’ by lending to Forgemaster. We are more like a silent partner than a majority shareholder.

  30. @Colin – “re Forgemasters-do you know of any reason why a company with the excellent prospects it claims, cannot raise finance in the markets, or from the banks?”

    I do beg your pardon Colin. For a moment I forgot myself and had this mad idea that for the last couple of years the entire credit market had crashed, with banks in crisis and a complete lack of available credit for worthwhile industrial investments.

    Goodness me. What was I thinking?

  31. ROGER

    “I suspect that the parent without any school to send a child to will not be much reassured by being told that the market will provide or much pleased by being told to set one up themselves.”

    I think you have misunderstood entirely what the drivers are.

    Teachers, as well as parents , are queing up to start Free Schools.( of course there will be specialist organisations to set them up)

    Free schools will respond to gaps & failures in provision left by LAs.

    Humphries interviewed two such on R4 this morning.

    The teacher wanted to teach, free of the dead hand of State micro management of every hour & element of his working day.

    The parent was asked by JH-where are you going to find a building. The answer was-the one occupied by the “middle school” which my child now attends, and which my LA is closing down to merge with a mega school in another area.

  32. sorry ‘leant’ on rather than ‘lent’ on. Easy mistake under the circumstances

  33. ALEC

    You are telling me that NO bank credit is available for viable companies?

    You are telling me that share offers cannot be got away for companies with good prospectuses?

    I don’t believe it. If it is true, how on earth were we going to grow our economy by 3% + next year?

    ………and by the way -if government support for Forgemasters is important because of its technology lead in a booming global nuclear industry…….why did the last government sell the acknowledged leader in world nuclear plant construction in 2005 to the Japanese?.

    The irony is that Westinghouse is a key customer of Westinghouse.

  34. s/b -The irony is that Westinghouse is a key customer of Forgemasters. !!!.

  35. @ Colin

    Because it’s close to impossible to get debt financing in the UK at acceptable terms for a long-term investment especially at this scale. Oh and they didn’t ask government loan for the whole investment cost. Mezzanine financing – there is not enough information if it was feasible.

    80 million is too much for VC financing. IPO is probably possible, though for the size of the firm it could be too much. Also, considering the lack of patience, the time of first dividend payment is perhaps too far away. 3.5% interest rate vs dividend rate could also be a factor.

  36. @Laszlo – wasn’t suggesting you were overestimating FT influence… a kind of trickle down to opinion formers. As to the ‘whether to/how to’ trick that has been effected, this may become a millstone of shrinking expectations that is harder to shift.

    @Colin – we all have an ‘inner Kevin’ :)

  37. Yes, Colin, there’s no bank financing for large investment projects in the UK with acceptable terms for a company like FMs. Hasn’t been for decades.

  38. Re Forgemaster-just done a bit of reading .

    The new press was going to cost £140m-the balance over the £80m wa coming from Westinhouse-owned by the UK taxpayer until it was sold by GB in 2005.
    The Westinghouse funds are still available.

    The Government did not cut these projects :-

    Bristol and Bath Science Park – £2.6 million;
    International Space Innovation Centre in Harwell – £12 million;
    Discovery Research Ship – £75 million;
    National Renewable Energy Centre (NAREC) Offshore Wind Blade Test Site, Blyth – £11.5 million;
    NAREC Offshore Wind Turbine Test Site – £18.5 million;
    Offshore Wind Demonstration and Development – £12.4 million;
    Offshore Wind, Mitsubishi Collaborative R&D to support Mitsubishi and partners – £30 million;
    Support for the Post Office Network – £180 million ;and
    Spectrum clearance costs.

    It seems clear from this list that the Forgemaster decision is a function of the “no subsidy to the nuclear industry” policy.

    VC is supposedly active in helping Forgemsters to access commercial credit-I hope he puts his best hob nails on.

  39. @Roger Mexico

    Today on R4 this morning had a young teacher who has been in education for eight years (he may be a excellent), but he obviously thinks he knows better, and wants to be head of his own school straight away, and accountable to no one but the parents. One or two rye comments about schools for ‘our type of children’.

  40. Laszlo

    Large investment projects , with a significant life, which alter the scale of a business should not be financed with ( temperary) loan capital . The business should be increasing it’s (permanent) capital base-and that means share capital.

    I am not aware that the capital markets are a problem for good company expansion projects.

    “accountable to no one but the parents.”

    No-it won’t be like that .
    The Dept of Education will have significant oversight & monitoring. Gove has explained all this

  42. @ Billy Bob

    I thought teachers should be accountable to the children and through them to all of us rather than to the parents and pupils accountable to the collective of the school and through that to all of us. But I perhaps too influenced by the concept of autonomous school.

  43. Returning (briefly) to the thread topic…I repeat a part of AW’s blog:

    “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).”

    I’ve looked at the actual stats, and am not so bothered by this. A massive 88% of C voters blame the last Lab gov, with only 3% of C voters blaming the coalition. No surprise here, but this somewhat ‘distorts’ IMO the stats.

    the option of blaming the banks was not provided, and
    the question refers to ‘current spending cuts’.

    Indeed, it’s possible to argue about what respondees understood by the phrase ‘current spending cuts’ and possibly that ‘attributing’ the cuts to Lab is not in itself a bad thing anyway.

    I don’t see anything ‘bad’ about these stats, but of course the coalition will be blaming Lab for everything. It is and will be however a matter of public perception.

  44. Colin

    My point was that there needs to some organisation that has responsibility that there are schools for children to go to. There are already problems in some areas finding places due to the increased fragmentation of the system.

    If not the LA, who? You can bet the Department of Education won’t want to do it and will do a far worse job.

    At the moment the LA do have the responsibility to find places for all children in their area, but if you take away their power to provide those places there’s no way they can guarantee that enough places will be there.

  45. @ Colin

    It’s a very British or Anglo Saxon concept to use raising capital for investment and not debt financing. Barely any country in the world follows this. Maybe it’s a factor of problems with manufacturing in the UK – cf. germany, Japan, Korea, Scandinavia, France – all use debt financing for investment.

  46. Mike N

    I’m just about old enough to remember “thirteen years of Tory misrule” being Wilson’s mantra until it became a running joke.

    Presumably thirteen years of Labour misrule will have as long a lifespan.

  47. Roger Mexico “Presumably thirteen years of Labour misrule will have as long a lifespan.”

    So, how long before “it’s all Lab’s fault” has ceased to resonate?

  48. LASZLO
    “Barely any country in the world follows this”


    Are you familiar with the size of Stock Exchanges in USA, France, Asia……..?

    I have just looked at the international stats for IPOs-what you asert is really quite wrong.

    I will look at Rights Issues later-going out now-but I am sure you are quite wrong about this.

    I am sure Forgemaster will get its funds if its project is viable.

  49. @Colin – I also heard the R4 interview on schools. In terms of where they will get the money to buy buildings from, one participant (the teacher) didn’t answer, while the other one from Kirklees assumed they would be able to use a current school that was going to be closed.

    I can’t comment on whether this is true or not as I am not familiar with Kirklees education plans, but I would say that if I was a local taxpayer I would expect the council to seek maximum benefit from the disposal of any buildings or assets, and I would expect any transfer of an existing state school to a private free school operator to be based on full commercial terms for the taxpayers benefit. Especially considering that Gove has said clearly that there will be no block on free schools making a profit. In light of this I would expect any asset sales to be accompanied by a claw back so that local taxpayers can benefit retrospectively from any increase in value of the site or future profitable development, a mechanism quite common in property developing circles.

    The lady in question was implying that they would simply take over the building with neither of the participants able to answer the key question about who fronts up the capital to buy a school building in the first place.

    This is the nub of the free schools problem, with even the IFS stating categorically that unless new and additional funding is found, development of free schools is likely to mean severe cuts in budgets for other state schools. This is the same general philosophical approach of the Tories I referred to earlier that deeply worries me. They have a track record of taking from the many and giving to the few, and while there is plenty of criticism to place before the last Labour government I remain deeply concerned about some of the proposed changes.

  50. Alec @12.44pm
    Excellent post.

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