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actually become rather more positive since the same questions were asked last year. 25% think British troops should be withdrawn immediately (down from 35% last year), 42% think they should be withdrawn within a year or so, and 24% are happy for them to stay for as long as the Afghan government needs them.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

    You recall that NC commented v recently about ‘gold plated’ public sector pensions…? Well, it transpires that the PM’s pension continues to be based on a notional salary of £196,000 despite drawing a lower actual salary of £148,000.

  2. Mike N,

    Good reading of the cuts stats. Yes it would support the fiarly large figure wouldnt it. Another undershoot in borrowing today I see. I wonder if every time an undershoot is announced does Gordy feel like scolding Allisdair Darling.

    I was wrong in the run up to the budget… I believed AD’s conservative (small c) approach might get respect from the voters. Ironically, when GO/DC announced their 1% NI cut (call it what you will) the public bought it.

    A second stimulus package and less pressure of GB to use the cut word might well have done it. I wonder what was said in that 3 hour meeting between Darling nad Brown just after the Hoon letter. I really do think it changed the course of electoral history. I see no reason to conclude anything other than if GB had been left to get on with the job by those jockeying to remove him, we would have done much better.

    Whatever next weeks budget- AD will have some nerve to get up and criticise cuts. He was planning armagheddon himself.

  3. Eoin
    I agree the Hoon/Hewitt botched coup strengthened AD’s position/stance.

    I’m sure AD will find plenty to criticise.

    I wonder how much his comments will influence LD MPs who may be feeling unhappy with the cuts.

  4. Mike N,

    Yes good question

    Since reds are not in gov… and they have less MPs I expect a lot of them to focus on their constituents…. can you imagine the torrent of letters and visits they will receive to complain? AD is reasobaly well respected among rank and file and with good reason he is a steady hand. In ordinary times and without the economic brilliance of GB he would be a good choice for chancellor (much better than balls for example). So I guess what he says will influence the rudderless reds…

    On a brighter note… 30,000 in Ni get to vote on th eleader. AB and EB are coming to Belfast to make their pitch. Hence I will get to meet 2 of my favourite 3. I am really warming to AB I must say. :)

  5. Eoin
    AB is my preference.

    going dark now. need time to prepare for the match.

  6. @Alec

    “In today’s Telegraph they report that the £9.4b annual cost of public sector pensions will cost every household £4,000pa (headline “Public Pensions to Cost You £4,000 a year”) They actually quote 26m households, total cost by 2015 £9.4b. Do the maths. Its actually £361.53 per year. Good value for state pensions, but I really think the Telegraph’s readers should start a campaign calling for basic numeracy among right wing journalists…..”

    June 15th, 2010 at 10:26 am

    More or Less on BBC R4 confirmed your maths today. D Telegraph have ammended their website, but no apology or correction printed.

  7. @Eoin
    “without the economic brilliance of GB”
    This made me chuckle – I spend a lot of my time on investing web sites – like Karl Marx I gamble on the stock market – and anyone who made such a comment about GB on those sites would be laughed out of court. “Gordon the Moron” is one of the mildest of the epithets that was used – at best they questioned whether he was economically literate. Don’t think his repuation will ever recover from his foolish claim that New Labour was going to abolish the business cycle – no more boom and bust!

  8. A disaster waiting to happen. It will make school closures in middle-class areas impossible with the brunt of cut backs falling on poorer areas. I am surprised that while there has been some talk on the religious divisiveness, less has been said about the racial and ethnic conflict that such choice is likely to produce.
    Politically the question will be who will get the blame. Will Westminster get blamed or the LEA? Will it have an impact on, for example, who would wish to be a Conservative councllor? Will you get all the blame while juggling a diminished budget?
    The evidence in Sweden is unequivocal in that free schools lead to more social division, fine by the right of centre government. However an interesting possible distinction is that provision is increasingly and I think now predominently by orthodox profit-orientated companies though activist parents sometimes had an initial lead. A key driver seemed to be English-medium teaching, unacceptable to any Swedish government but desired by aspirational parents.
    The main effect in England is almost certain to be the disruptive efect on LEAs but who will the suffering blame?

  9. Earlier post shpould have started “Free Schools”

  10. @Eoin – “can you imagine the torrent of letters and visits they will receive to complain?”

    11th June D Telegraph article about former Lab MP Nick Palmer (Nottingham West) signing on… to check out the system. Impressed. Less so by the news of new orders to freeze recruitment, lay off of fixed term staff and contract out of services.

    Also… Ming hopes other LDs will join his mutiny over tuition fee increases.

  11. Johnty,

    You are from a different school of thought and that is fine. I respect that. :) Stock markets can produce high growth and make even ordinary people rich very quickly. A fair degree of equality of opportunity one might say. did I tell you I have backed 5 grand national winners? A bit similar I might say (of course an expert would laugh and rightly so). To be specific, gambling is a high risk vice… the poor cant afford the consequnces…. emptying the accounts… siphoning off profits to exective board members… commuting earnings towards paying off loans instigated by the owner in the guise of board members and then declaring bankruptcy only to open up again in a new name…. I dont back many of those I must say…. The question I have is what are all those tory SMEs going to do when the RDAs freeze out the incentivised grants for their small scale fraud operations? Perhaps you could tap into the expertise of the great philosophers of the ‘goron the moron’ phrase….. t’wud be mighty interesting….

    In the meantime, i hope your enjoying Ascot. :) ;) ;) ;) ;)

  12. @Eoin
    Not sure that I am from a different school of thought. FWIW I dislike Anglo-Saxon capitalism – Gordon most certainly does not. I believe many of his summers have been spent consorting with intellectuals in the US – and doubtless he felt that he understood modern capitalism and could manage it. I have never subscribed to the view that all the world’s problems were caused by Gordon Brown – which many in the UK seem to believe – but don’t think many people from any walk of life would subscribe to the notion of his economic brilliance. A reincarnation of Keynes he is not – and he will I suspect be quite poorly rated as a chancellor by historians. Darling I suspect will be rated far higher.

  13. We need some objectivity. GB managed the economy well and was derailed by circumstances outside his cointrol. If nothing else, to get health spending up to European averages was a notable achievement which has saved thousands and thousands lives already and hopefully will save many, many more.

    People are beginning – only beginning – to feel that the coalition is taking a macho attitude towards cuts and this feeling, as it spreads, will do no good whatsoever, especially if economic indicators continue to come in better than expected.

  14. Johnty,

    I doubt many people blame Brown for all the world’s ills. UK’s economic woes on the other hand can fairly be laid at his door. In that respect I agree that he will be judged by history as a far poorer chancellor than he believed himself to be.

    As to Darling, I agree that history will rate him more highly than GB. AD was dealt a very poor hand by his predecessor (unlike Brown) and did his best to keep things under control. I think it is a shame he did not feel able to throw his hat into the ring for the leadership, but I guess he (rightly ?) fet that he did not have the charisma needed to revitalise the party.

  15. @Paul H-J
    “for all the world’s ills” was of course not meant to be taken literally – simply that critcism and hatred of him has gone to extremes.
    Think I agree with you – it was absurd to claim as he did at the beginning that New Labour – unlike the Tories – was going to avoid boom and bust. That is the nature of capitalism. Particularly strange for a historian to make a statement like that. Almost ranks with Calvin Coolidge’s “Permanent Plateau of Prosperity” weeks before the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

  16. @Mike N – “going dark now. need time to prepare for the match”

    Presumably it’s gone very dark indeed now?

    @DavidB – “People are beginning – only beginning – to feel that the coalition is taking a macho attitude towards cuts and this feeling, as it spreads, will do no good whatsoever, especially if economic indicators continue to come in better than expected”

    Interesting point. April’s borrowing revised down by about £2b after coming in £1b below predictions, with the May figure undershooting by another £2b. Regular as clockwork the monthly deficit figures have been undershooting since October, with further subsequent downward revisions.

    There is no question that the deficit issue is poor, but not nearly as bad as expected. If the coalition fails to recognise this but insists of a savage three year program more to fit the electoral cycle than for any economic reasons it will be be rightly judged as wrongheaded.

    I’m afraid the cynics view has to take the lead here – they want fast cuts to give some chance of improvement in time for a 2015 GE. Just as the speed of cuts is motivated by party interest, the 55% majority rule is designed to help ensure the maximum time for the turnaround and is nothing to do with constitutional usefulness.

    The risk is that they don’t get the 55% vote passed, lose public support due to excessive cuts, the coalition crumbles and they face the prospect of an election right in the middle of the worst of the carnage at the least appropriate time for their narrow party interests. Some might smile at the prospect.

  17. Johnty,

    Forgive my assumption. :) please……..

    also I would ask that you empathise with Gb’s engagment with real politick, If we are honest, what puts most of us off politics is the fear of having to compromise one’s principles. Gordy has done many times and I am sure it hurt him less and less every time he done it. but we ‘must’ (forgive me) respect that tough choices he made were in good faith. He is a man of the utmost morals I will always consider myself lucky to have lived during his term in office. :)

  18. @ Colin

    “What? 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.”

    Well, Colin, if you paid attention to proper figures, then you may want to retract your nonsenical comment (as far as I know, the USA is an Anglo-Saxon country, which I explicitly contrasted with the rest of the developed world). These are all from OECD figures 10 years averages prior to the credit crunch:

    Debt/equity ratio: France: 1.8, Germany 1.7, Italy 3.1, UK 1.0, Japan 4.1. – Comment: the City does not allow companies to borrow even if it makes sense.

    Percentage of bank credit in total liabilities: France 24%, Germany 22%, Italy 18%, UK 12%, Japan 40%

    Percentage of long-term bank credit in total liabilities: France 22%, Germany 17%, Italy 7%, UK 6%, Japan 22% – Comment: Well, well, countries with strong manufacturing base seem to perform better with long-term bankloans.

    Percentage of equity markets to GDP: France: 42% (as you see Colin, I’m quite familiar with it), Germany 52% (the Neumarkt that collapsed influence these figures), Italy 20%, UK 160%, Japan 68%. – Comment: one of the curses on the UK industry is the size of the stock market.

    Of investment equity financing: Japan: 11% of all external finance (but quite erratic), the same for Germany is even more erratic, but around 18-20%, UK around 66%. France is in between Japan and Germany, but it jumps so much that the standard deviation is far too high to calculate averages. – So, no, these competitors of the UK don’t rely on equity financing.

    Private equity investment in 2007 in the UK (larger than the GDP) was almost 3 times as much than in France, almost 5 times as much as in Germany and about 25 times as much as in Italy. – Comment: it’s a good thing to include.

    The notion that you advocated (impatient investors who have absolutely have no clue about the operation of the company in which they own shares as the “right way to do”) instead of long-term loans from banks with expertise and corporate bonds to evaluate the companies is one of the major reasons for the destruction of the manufacturing industry in the UK.

  19. Correction: “… and corporate bonds to FINANCE companies”

  20. @Johnty

    “he will I suspect be quite poorly rated as a chancellor by historians. Darling I suspect will be rated far higher.”

    I agree with your post – but I don’t think history will care at all with Brown and Darling.

  21. Laszlo,

    History will of course care with Brown….

    Schaacht, Stressman – history pays close attention to those in charge at the time of financial turmoil… it is still forgotten how close we came to melt down…. perhap it is taken for ganted now… but it wont be taken for granted by historians..

    Gordon Brown will have his place in history for his efforts..

  22. Alec @11.20pm “Presumably it’s gone very dark indeed now?”

    Gloom and doom everywhere, now.

  23. Laszlo

    “one of the curses on the UK industry is the size of the stock market”

    I disagree.

    If you are arguing that economies like Japan, France & Italy are vibrant & world leading, because they eschew permanent equity finance in favour of temperary bank credit-then I am inclined to consider the prefered capitalisation strategies of companies operating in the really vibrant & entrepreneurial economies of the world- the USA and Asia.

    I think your final paragraph is quite misconceived & does not accord with my own business experience.

    Bank Credit has been the bane of industry & commerce in this recession-ephemeral, subject to collapse & withdrawal-reliant ( irony of ironies) on the permanent capital base of the very banks who provide it………….and let me remind you that banks on a global scale are STILL undercapitalised.

    Companies need a mix of funding sources-Permanent Share Capital to support the underlying business & its ongoing structure-and lines of temperary Bank & other Loan Capital to support cash flow , working capital spikes , and other cyclical and/or temperary cash requirements.

    Supporting permanent long term investment with impermanent finance is no way to run a business-as so very many have discovered in the last few years.

    I have the distinct impression that you have some sort of ideological biase against Stock Markets.

    I don’t.

  24. @ Colin

    Of course, you are entitled to your opinion.

    Actually most large companies were self-financing (internal resources) before the credit crunch – about 70-80% of investment funds in the developed world.

    Small, new technology firms are in advantage in capital market based economies (such as the UK and US), although by no means in all and some of the Swedish and German examples clearly show that a major customer (Ericsson and Siemens) can substitute for this very effectively. Also in some high tech sectors capital market financing is not necessary (cf. SAP). The overall cost of the economy (in terms of usage and waste of resources) is actually smaller in those countries when it comes to upstarts than in the UK.

    The issue is with the medium sized companies in any system that advocates equity financing with the exception of the US. It is especially true for the medium-high tech industries. These need debt financing for their growth.

    I don’t really know what’s your reference to Asia. Korea is based on credit and more credit (even after the government managed consolidation of the cheabols the debt/equity ratios are extremely high). China’s capital markets are purely speculative and play a marginal role in financing investment. In India’s investment financing capital markets play very small role (with the exception of one or two service sectors). So which Asian countries do you mean.

  25. It is interesting to note that IN the latest polls the Coalition has 55%.

    Labour only 26%

  26. Glen Otto

    How do you arrive at those figures?

  27. Presumably Glenn is referring to the question in this poll on who you blame for the cuts in public spending? But even then it’s 57% for the coalition v. 26% for Labour (add the ‘neither’ figure to the one blaming the other side for the figures of the 2 sides).

  28. State of the Parties. One Poll in the People tomorrow

  29. David B

    “to get health spending up to European averages was a notable achievement which has saved thousands and thousands lives already and hopefully will save many, many more.”

    Much of it wasted on target driven management systems,PRP, PFI and other gimmickry.

    We shouldn’t need the high levels of cost of continental insurance and cost recovery systems because we don’t need to pay for the acounting systems and fraud.

  30. Couple of interesting snippets.

    Apparently the People is going to break a story regarding ‘what a cabinet minister gets up to away from home’.

    I’ve also seen an analysis of the coalition argument that the free swimming for over 60s and under 16s was cut because it wasn’t good value for money being savaged as ‘b*llsh*t’. A preliminary analysis by PWC seems to suggest the scheme was meeting many positive objectives and their full analysis isn’t released until June 23rd.

    Its a nothing story in many ways, but it shows that cuts will attract a level of scrutiny far greater than the initial spending decisions and the coalition had better make sure it gets it’s facts right or face numerous damaging battles on issues that are not important in the scheme of things.

  31. BBC R4 Any Questions? (>39 minute)
    Lionel Barber (FT):This could be overdone…reducing the percentage of stuctural debt over 5 years… you may be able to spread this… there needs to be some flexibility about how much you cut each year.
    Edwina Currie: Are the cuts a taste of things to come? Oh yes I hope so.
    Barber: You seem to be enjoying this.
    Currie: The last three weeks have been a total joy.

    Currie goes on to mention the free swimming for over sixties, characterising it a part of a crazy scheme to increase the medal haul at the 2012 Olympics

  32. Am I right in thinking that there has to be a vote in the Commons to approve a referendum on AV?

  33. @Billy Bob – I didn’t hear it, but they need to be extremely careful – in the 1980s they gave the appearance of having lost touch with real people – if this response is typical they are risking doing this again but this time only after a few weeks.

    In advance of the budget, I’ve crunched some numbers to illustrate a point about personal taxation favouring the wealthy.

    Taking two single men working full time, A is on £20K and B on £80K. Total income tax and NI bill for A is £4,480 or 22.5%, (earnings too high for tax credits) while B will pay £24,700 or 30.8% in salary taxes.

    The starting difference in % terms is already small, but if A can afford to contribute £500 to his pension he gets £125 tax relief, bringing his net rate down to 22%.
    If B puts £10,00 into a pension he gets £6,650 relief, dropping his net tax payment to 22.5%, but if he can spare £15,000 for a pension he gets £10,000 relief and ends with a net tax bill of 18.3%.

    These aren’t uncommon scenarios with employers deliberately switching wages to pension contributions anyway, and given that VAT will also affect Mr A disproportionately more we can see there is a problem with our highly unbalanced tax system.

    DC’s focus appears to be on cutting the public sector, but I sincerely hope GO has a go at the huge tax anomalies he has inherited.

  34. According to polls, in Poland’s presidential election tomorrow no one candidate is expected to win outright and another round is expected. The two main candidates with a chance of winning are from PO (right of centre) and PiS (further right and populist).
    However, the polls were completely wrong last time around.
    In the last presidential election in 2005, the PO candidate Donald Tusk was expected to win by 6-10% points ahead of the PiS candidate, Lech Kaczynski. Lech however won, albeit in the second round.
    This time, the PO candidate, Komorowski is expected to beat the PiS candidate, Lech’s brother Jaroslaw.
    Have the polls got it wrong again?
    Shy PiS voters?
    We shall see tomorrow.

  35. Ed Miliband today saying that cracks will appear in the coalition this week… can LDs in all conscience vote for this budget?
    Is this good tactics on his part? Criticism from outside usually acts as an enforcer for the whips.
    Or does he know something we don’t?

  36. Julian,

    Thanks for that. Come back and fill us in tomorrow wont you? With the experiences of the USSR, one could forgive the polish electorate I think. Besides, their Catholicism has them a socially conservative bunch anyway. I am sure your wife has this well and truly drilled into you already…

    Have you a link for the Pole/Poll/pole ;)

  37. Billy B,

    Rest assured charlie k and pugh will not vote for it….

    The Hughes’ of this world I expect to vote for it….

    The more I read of their ambitions (Clegg’s in particular) to more horror comes over me… I know I slated him constantly before the election but even I did not think he would be this bad… I am beginning to consider whether or not he is to the right of David Cameron….

    Ps… Billy I have a very interesting quote from Beatrice Webb, which I will type up later for you (it is a reference to Ramsay MacDonald).

  38. @EOIN
    The Polish electorate might be socially conservative maybe, but economically much less so.
    The PO candidate (right of centre remember ) this week placed a legal complaint against the PiS candidate (more right) because he accused him of supporting privatisation in the health service.
    All parties see this as a negative thing.
    A question was asked of all the candidates if they thought hospitals should be privatised in any way.
    They all said no, except one who said no/yes!
    PO are quite liberal socially and they are most likely to win (yes I think the polls are right this time).
    I don’t need to tell you that Catholic doesn’t always mean right-wing. ;)

  39. re. Polish election.
    BTW, the one candidate who said no/yes to privatisation of hospitals sees himself as left of centre.
    Work that one out.

  40. Eoin… intrigued ;) :)

  41. Hard to find anything in English on the Polish election and polls. Most are in Polish, obviously. But here’s something;
    ht tp://

  42. Julian,

    Sure wasnt Jesus left wing :)

    Billy B,

    I had a very stressful meeting in Cambridge earlier so I am having my first glass on wine in 2010. When it numbs the pain- I will type the quote. :) Andy Burnham as the unity candidate is appealing more an more. I accept Balls is a bridge to far for those who the priority is winning the election. I accept David M is a bridge too far for those obsessed with policy. Burnham might just be able to sort all that out. I have resolved that ed Mill is too inexperienced.

  43. @Eoin – talking of wine, news out today shows that the government has spent £18,000 since the election on topping up the government wine cellar that already has more than £800,000 worth of stock.

    We’re clearly all in this together.

  44. @Mike N – as a Scotsman I really shouldn’t, but the BBC website has the headline ‘No Arrests Despite England Display’.

    I know the players underperformed, but really – arresting them?

    Must dash – got a long lost cousin from the Algerian branch of the family taking me out for a drink tonight.

  45. @EOIN
    Jesus was a left-wing, socialist, rebellious, pacifist troublemaker.
    I’m often been surprised how He has come to symbolize conservatism to so many people.
    Strange that.

  46. @ALEC
    I’m an England fan and I think arrest would be an entirely appropriate reaction to yesterday’s display.

  47. Alec,

    Yes the list is getting longer and longer and longer…

    there is already far more sleaze between laws , southampton mp, rothchild, and i hear there is one more on the way tomoro…

    on top of that clegg is running amok…

    sad indeed. I would be especially interested to hear from libs about this

  48. @Alec – ‘what a cabinet minister gets up to away from home’

    Curiously worded statement reported by BBC… he is in a relationship with a woman who worked in his campaign team when he *challenged* Nick Clegg for the leadership.

    Shouldn’t that be *contested*?

  49. Upper libs are still quite stiff but lower might be wobbling.
    When and from where will we see an upper lib wobbling I wonder?

  50. Chris Huhne then? Or charlie boy?

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