There is also a new ICM poll tonight, carried out for the Sunday Telegraph. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s poll a week ago, are CON 41%(+2), LAB 35%(+4), LDEM 16%(-5). The figures are pretty much in line with those from YouGov tonight, with the Liberal Democrats pushed down into the mid teens while both the Conservatives and Labour are considerably up on their general election support.

The full tables don’t seem to be available yet, but the Sunday Telegraph report suggests similar findings to YouGov when it comes to the budget. 47% thought the budget would improve the economy, compared to 19% expecting it to make things worse. Once again, almost all the measures of the budget recieved majority support with the exception of the VAT rise, which ICM found 60% of people opposed (including 55% of remaining Liberal Democrat voters).

52% of people thought the cuts were necessary, 43% thought that it was tougher than necessary and the government were “using it as an excuse to introduce measures it had always wanted to”.

341 Responses to “ICM/Sunday Telegraph have Lib Dems down to 16%”

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  1. It’s the State Control part I like (Surprise surprise, lol)

    Seriously though, a programme of safe supply, education and rehabilitation, removing the judgement involved, removes the NEED for the organised criminals. Why go to a dodgy street corner and risk getting dangerous, cut drugs and PAYING for them, when the doctor will give them to you for free?

    The micro-crime (nicking tellies, cars etc for funds) and the macro-crime (organised supply and enforcement, international trafficking) is reduced almost entirely. Any remaining criminals can still be penalised severely. Less social crime (violence, unruly behaviour etc)

    The benefits pay for the programme hundreds of time over.

    It is really radical, I accept, but surely you can argue for drugs to be safe rather than lethal in so many ways?

  2. @ Sue

    “Why DO we have to eliminate the structural deficit entirely when the OBR said 40 billion was fine?”

    Not sure what you mean Sue.

    I thought OBR had said Structural deficit would be worse than AD’s last forecast.
    As I understand it GO added £40bn tightening to AD’s £73 bn over the parliament-an additional 2% of GDP.

    Borrowing is now planned to fall from £155 BN ( 11.6% GDP) to £37 bn ( 2.1% GDP ) over the five years.

    Do I think this is right or wrong?

    I don’t know-seems prudent to me -and “right” in principle.

    The answer will be in a) whether the tightening can be done without undesurable social consequences & b) whether a more balanced, private sector driven growth appears in our economy.

    Is it feasible ( ie has it been done before) ?-Kaletsky in todays Times gives some interesting comparisons.

    Compared with the UK-GO Plan 2020/2015 9.5% of GDP fiscal consolidation in 5 yrs.only two of the ten examples he gives were more ambitious :-

    Denmark 1982/86-10.5% of GDP / 4yrs
    Sweden 1993/98-9.3% of GDP / 5 yrs.

    All the rest are in the region of 1.5% pa of GDP -over varying terms.

    So -yes it looks testing.

    @ Laszlo

    “Colin, the structural deficit is a statistical residue and has no economic meaning.”

    Is that so ?
    I’m sure you are entitled to your opinion.

    @ Sue

    “Colin – Eoin and I most certainly didn’t underestimate GO!!”

    Then you were both very wise people-I always knew it ;-)

    @ OLDNAT

    “did the study quote the gains for low and high earners as a % of their income?”


  3. Amber – When I say I didn’t underestimate GO, I mean I didn’t underestimate his Conservative-ness or his ability to know his own party. His Classically right-wing solutions saved Cameron at least three times I think and far from the weakest link, I thought he was probably their best thinker. He knows how to please his own crowd.

  4. @ Eoin and Sue

    Interest rates are a major threat. There was already one hawk in the committee this month. An increase in the interest rates would run heavoc in the rather precarious household budgets (partly because of the indebtedness) that just recovered from rebalancing due to the changed credit card interest rates. The cummulative effects of an interest rate rise right now are just beyond immagination (actually it would be at the same level as the decision of not letting RBS fall).

    That would reinforce the tendency towards stagflation. The US would do anything it could do against it, but I’m not sure if it still has the economic power to oppose it.

    Because Sue brought up Japan. One of the worrying things in the cuts is the lack of information about the cuts in the manfacturing and service capacity. If it’s bigger than people generally think, the cuts can have a major inflationary effect and the type that does not respond to monetary policy. If inflation does not come, then it’s Alice in Wonderland effect (to use the analogy of the chief economist of Mitsubishi a decade ago): there is no bottom limit to the reduction of the capacities (hence only the smile of the Cheshire cat remains).

  5. @ AMBER

    ” His emergency budget was Tory standard”

    I disagree-NC needs to disagree ;-)

    ” nothing new, creative or particularly clever.”

    Your opinion-unsurprising.

    “And 43% are unconvinced by the coalition claims that it was necessary.”


    “Meantime Labour are up 6%; so not really a political win either. ”

    I feel sure that GO is not looking for political winners in the short term-just economic ones-after which political wins may follow-if he is lucky.

    In the meantime I feel sure he expects political downside.

    Only the Labour candidates are looking for political winners-they are less concerned about the economy.
    A head of political steam is what they want.

  6. @ Colin

    ““Colin, the structural deficit is a statistical residue and has no economic meaning.”
    Is that so ?
    I’m sure you are entitled to your opinion.”

    Structural deficit is the deficit of the budget that is not affected by the business cycle. It is residual as I said because there is no accepted financial definition (not even vaguely) for the measurement of the business cycle, so the calculation is arbitrary in every sense.

    Just for making it concrete: what is the current business cycle? Is it from 1992-2008? Or do we count the near recession of 2001? How do we know what part of the deficit accumulated in the last two years is structural? There is no definition of this and if you read the OBR report it is clear that they define the structural deficit as residual (after taking out seasonality from the deficit figures).

  7. Voter Swindle
    This is an expression used by my Dutch friends to indicate such as that perpetrated by Mr Osborne (so much admired apparently by our lefty colleagues?).

    Last December, he stated that we needed swingeing cuts and tax increases. In the new year the fortunes of Blue dived (see polls for March). He then came up in April with not going forward with NI increases (in fact some considerable increase was still to go forward but the press reported otherwise).

    We are now where we are with swingeing tax increases far in excess of what Labour planned and far greater cuts than were admitted to by Osborne prior to the Election and disputed as being needed by Cable.

    Am I the only person on this list not hypnotised by what is taking place?

    More interestingly, why is the Electorate not aware and is it not true that if the present plans had been admitted to prior to the Election, the result would have been a comfortable result for Labour, possibly in coalition with Lib Dems?

  8. Lazlo/Eoin – As a novice, did I understand correctly that GOs approach is particularly risky without having the safety net of being able to cut interest rates if necessary?

  9. Thanks Colin, now I feel like we’re getting somewhere.

    My only gripe with the cuts is the scale of them. I accept the level Darling proposed, I just don’t understand the need for the further cuts. I also don’t believe for one second they are achievable.

    The argument IMO is not about Labour opposing all cuts but about opposing the SCALE of the cuts.

    Obviously there are ideological debates to be had about WHERE the cuts should fall, but it is the scale that I feel should be justified.

  10. Howard – Not at all I agree with you 100%.

    One must never underestimate an opponent, but it does not imply admiration.

  11. I am reading some of the posts on here with great interest. In particular, the George Osborne budget cuts!
    I have managed to contain myself without being baited, but would like to remind some that these cuts need to be deep and quick. People should not worry about the effect of these on the public sector.. The public sector workers by and large are paid fantastic salaries, in fact they overtook the private sector a few years back.

    The economy needs rebalancing amongst the public and private sector, overwise we will all be going to he’ll in a handcart!
    trust GO, he is trying to make this country in better shape for our children.
    Put aside your political alleigances everyone and let’s get behind him with a wartime effort, that’s what we need… Exciting times!

  12. a lot of good comments about drugs and protiosin

    now, being a libdem i know all about prostitution, just ask my mate dave blunket and my view is; it’s my body(party) i can sell it if i want too, i have worked on building sites most of my life and that is also selling your body but nobody every øbjected.

    the right to earn a living, to support yourself and your family is pretty basic and the state should not interfere without a really really good reason. conservatives would go bananas if someone suggested that i should not be allowed to work on building sites because it was bad for my health(just look at their record on health and safety)or any other reason

  13. does anyone have the address of wayne’s dentist

  14. Richard in Norway,

    thigh doo.. itz on furty uth reet (sorry my elocution is flummoxed with all those absent teeth)

  15. Lots Of Laughs is that what løl means

  16. Richard in Norway

    We’ve always had at least one resident nutter on board but they are generally harmless -one just skips over the post.

    I am surprised so few journalists have taken up my theme above.

    Colin on VAT
    My point is that VAt hits the lower paid -not the lowest necessarily but I take your point as I did use hyperbola when referring to ‘sink estate people’.

  17. Howard,

    There are those on the right who criticse the Tory 1981 budget for not going far enough….. (it is rumoured Osbourne is one of them). a blue might shed some light upon it.

    my own view is that you cannot blame Osbourne for the imbecility of the British electorate… our papers have been dumbed down for years. Gradually the skill of critical thinking is about as relevant as an appendix.

    Osbourne is simply capitalising.

    People should google the 1981 budget for context.

  18. howard

    everyone knew that they were being lied to, it was as they say an open secret. the real question is how different things would have been if reds had of won. i suspect that the difference would have been of mood rather than substance, the markets are firmly in control

    myself i think that thew only way out of our troubles long-term is a one off asset tax 2-5% to pay off a large chunk of the debt
    growth isn’t going to happen anytime this decade. oil $80 in a downturn i foresee stop-start-stop-start for at least the next ten years

  19. Eoin – Googled it. None the wiser. Totally differenet views from four sources so far.

  20. @ Sue

    “GOs approach is particularly risky without having the safety net of being able to cut interest rates if necessary?”

    It’s a classic liquidy trap situation. With one caveat. First, the BoE can print money (quantative easing).

    The interesting thing is that in such a situation budget cuts can result in inflation against orthodoxy (oddly Hayek showed this). So budget cuts results in inflation. It’s on the cards.

  21. Sue,

    It was probably the single worse budget of all time (but a red would say that). Blues think it was almost the best budget of all time. Either way it polarised opinion.

    GOs is very similar in my opinion.

    I’ll pick out the best bits (what an oxymoron) in the morning and post them.

    I’m off to the scratcher :)

  22. Huh. That’s why I read two saying it was the best budget of all time and two that said it was the worst budget of all time then :)

    I read GDP went down 2.2%, Manufacturing fell by a third, the recession lasted for 4 years and interest rates went up, while unemployment went up to 3 million and stayed there. I was puzzling over just how that was good?

  23. Oh, I have missed a busy and fascinating day on UKPR :)

    @Eoin, belatedly, JR did not praise anyone (though we can both guess where his sympathies lie ;) )

    @Laszlo, 12.52pm -“the welfare state is about maintaining social peace… [and] the weaknesses and declining competitiveness of the UK economy…

    You put it much better than I could. There are a *lot* of people safely ‘parked’ on benefits who would otherwise be disturbing the peace, and/or creating havoc/inefficiency in the workplace. Not nice but a fact of life.
    Businesses will be less profitable if welfare subsidy is cut.

    Amber mentioned rewarding the fortunate. There will always be sinecure employments for those from afluent families who do not have the drive/ability to succeed… it is just that the relentless efficiency/productivity gains over recent years have permanently excluded the undemanding opportunities for less fortunate people to participate in society.

    @Sue… good luck with your search. I would guess addicts are locked in a more or less permanent panic attack, with very brief interludes of escape before they start worrying again. Remove the anxiety component, and people generally have the mental space to develope a perspective on their problems and can then make progress.

  24. Sorry folks I dropped in a long comment and then went off to a concert without making myself clear.

    Sue – I think the documentary you’re looking for may be about Switzerland. I think that in Zurich they do have a heroin maintenance programme and it’s judged to be a success – I’m not sure about the rest of the country because the cantons have such autonomy.

    Ironically supplying proper heroin rather than methadone to addicts is known as the English system, because it was the way that addiction was handled in Britain up to (I think) the Seventies when it was stopped under American pressure. Some doctors (in NW England, Bolton?) continued using the system till quite recently, again with much lower deaths and with some long term addicts actually able to work and operate normally (that was the reason for my comment about lower benefits). But again this is all from my memory and we know how unreliable that is. ;)

    Laszlo – I think your comments didn’t really distinguish between addicts and users. Even with heroin I think most users aren’t addicts (though of course most heroin is used by addicts). The only possible exception I can think of is tobacco, but I suspect the smoking bans have led to a lot more people on a few a day, who probably can’t be classified as addicts.

    And incidentally I think economy is a function of morality not the other way round. Those who claim the opposite are usually using a nasty and selfish morality to make the axioms of their economy. But then, on a basis of profound ignorance, I tend to share Popper’s opinion of Hegel. :)

  25. roger mexico

    i liked your post but i’m too stupid to understand this

    I think economy is a function of morality

    could you please explain

  26. @Roger Mexico and Sue Marsh,

    Netherlands had a very longstanding maintenance programme (though I think they have become less ‘liberal’ recently). So longstanding that they had plenty of autopsy evidence from natural death (old age) to show there was no organ damage. The damage is the illegal lifestyle (and spending on drugs rather than food etc). The conclusion was that for whatever reason these were people who would otherwise have probably commited suicide if they had not been helped to live constructive lives.

  27. @ Sue Marsh

    There was a documentary about Portugal which decriminalised drugs in 2001. It appears to have stemmed the rise in domestic drug use by offering therapy rather than jail. Drugs are still illegal so the police focus on the dealers.

  28. @ Sue & Laszlo

    I think Laszlo & I must read many of the same books.

    I spent a stormy few posts trying to explain to Colin that the ‘structural deficit’ was an ill defined concept invented to make the deficit sound worse than it is.

    I also completely agree that zero interest rates leave no room for relaxing the money supply by reducing them therefore the only tool available is QE.

    QE has limited success unless it is used by the government to directly stimulate the economy (a revolutionary concept in the UK). When it is put in the hands of the banks, it usually only inflates the value of existing commodities & assets without generating any growth or employment.

    Alternatively, QE can also be viewed, by the markets, as reducing the value of currency thereby causing sterling to fall. This causes imported inflation.

    The upside is it may make UK exports cheaper & therefore more attractive; what usually happens is our exporters keep the same prices & thus do not increase output (& thus employment). They choose to make currency related profits instead.

    Exporters use these extra profits to reduce any (non-fixed) borrowing they have, thereby taking money out of the economy in the short-term (although maybe pay some more taxes). Businessmen are happy but it does not help the economy much.

    In short, UK style QE is a bit useless as a tool for stimulating a stagnant economy. Gordon Brown used it be cause it was the only way to stop some major financial institutions from collapsing – they had no money with which to pay their salaries, payroll taxes, fill their cash machines etc. 8-)

    Sorry – long & involved post.

  29. Richard in Norway

    Sorry it’s me being cryptic rather than you being stupid.

    Laszlo had commented to Valerie at 7:29 saying:

    “Moral is a function of the economy. Whether you say economy (commodity) or moral (bad or good) you are actually saying the same (Hegel in one of the most obscurely written piece (and that’s an understatement) called Spiritual Animal World deals with both sides and that’s more than 200 years old).”

    I disagreed with the indirect quote from Hegel because I think that when morality claims to derive itself from economics (or any other “objective” science) it’s pulling a fast one. In fact any system of economics is based on a particular moral viewpoint about the relationships between people; the way individuals and groups should operate and what people should value.

    Of course you could read Hegel as saying that all morality is based on economic self-interest (Hegel was very good at ambiguity), but I think that economic self-interest is still based on particular moral principles (or axioms to be mathematical about it).

    Actually I think what annoyed me about the reference was that, the last few decades, we seem have fallen prey to an assumption that everything should be assessed on economic and monetary grounds – no other way of looking at things was permissible (or even in a strange way “moral”).

    So a beautiful or historic building or piece of countryside could not be kept because of its own (non-monetary) merits. It had to justified on “tourist potential” or “amenity value” or a whole range of other imaginary virtues. Everything had to be seen through the distorting lens of “economics” as if that was an objective value-free way of looking at things rather than a set of dodgy assumptions manipulated to suit the person putting the case.

    I don’t know if this clears things up, but at least it’s longer than the original. :)

  30. @ Sue

    The 1981 budget was the second monetarist budget of UK. It was simply the proof that monetarism did not work (They could have looked at the NIxon budget of 1970 or the Reagan budget of 1980 to find it out).

    However, the heavoc that such budget makes requires a very different government intervention (hence the beloving of these budget by some) that leads to smaller states. So, in a way it triggered what we know as new economics. In the US the 1983 budget was a particularly interesting – it completely broke with monetarism and in the name of reduced state it carried out the largest state supported capital re-allocation across sectors in the post war period. In the UK the subsequent budgets were not monetarist, but for a number of political reasons the extra resources were used to dampen the effects of the manufacturing crisis, thus the recovery started almost a decade later here than in the US. However, in the dampening it also destroyed the post-war political agreements between the elite, political parties, business leaders and trade unionists. Hence the loving of this disaster-budget by the Tories: the unsackling of the state as an actor of economic performance.

  31. @ Roger Mexico

    ” I think your comments didn’t really distinguish between addicts and users. Even with heroin I think most users aren’t addicts ”

    Yes, it was deliberate. I wanted to highlight the problem from a completely different side: the society – its rights and responsibilites (the individual’s rights and responsibilities are discussed quite extensively).

  32. Amber

    Agree completely on QE – I never saw the point of it myself. Genuine QE would have done something like giving one-off payments to the worst off (because they’re the ones to spend it and keep it flowing round the economy).

    To be fair to Brown he usually described it as stabilising the Banks’ balance sheets and adding to their liquidity. Not that the banks then did anything as vulgar as going out and lending it to anyone – except back to the Government at rates higher than the Government was effectively lending to them.

  33. @ Amber

    It was a neat summary. It also shows that all the figures and functions that we take granted (such as the effect of deficit, the effect of QE, etc.) are actually “it depends” functions [on factors not included].

    Its far reaching consequences have been known for some time in economics in the context of the Ricardian equivalence problem (there was a big debate about it in the 1980s – what a surprise in the environment of those budgets that Sue enquired about and discussed here), but its practical consequences were largely ignored (the whole problem of economic implications of asset price bubbles were settled then theoretically).

  34. @ Roger Mexico @ 12:57

    I would love to discuss Hegel with you – it’s a really great exposition that you made, but we would perhaps put everybody to flight and Anthony would put us under moderation.

    I think I was not clear with what I wanted to say – that moral and economics are just two sides of the same thing. Once you bring in a moral or economics that contradict it, it’s your responsibility to explain where it comes from (and usually you will find a different set of economic principles that support the moral values).

    In any case the relationship between moral and economics has been present for a very long time. Mandeville’s moral tales could be perceived as pure economics (and of course the same is true for English sentimentalist literature Salisbury and others) and Mills version of economics which is philosophical ethics really (and in my view not a very good one).

    And of course, I fully agree with you about the falsness of the “monetary value ethics” – it was and remains horrible.

    But Hegel, even in his cleanly brushed Prussian outfit, remained revolutionary inside and it broke out in his writings, even if most of it is incomprehensible.

  35. The coalition faced its first rebellion last night when two Liberal Democrat MPs voted against a budget proposal to increase VAT to 20%.

    Bob Russell and Mike Hancock voted with Labour to oppose the increase, which has alarmed many Lib Dems who warned during the election of a Tory VAT “bombshell”.

  36. I think top-up fees could be the next ‘bomb-shell’ issue. I am forecasting more than a few Dems will not consider abstention a suitable way to convey their dismay at going from free university to increased top-up fees in a few short weeks. 8-)

  37. @Richard in Norway – “Lots Of Laughs is that what løl means”

    Laugh out loud?

  38. @Colin – re the unions, I worked for many years as a union rep and campaigned long and hard for a reformist approach to labour practices. Much of this time we were calling on management to have the confidence to make radical reforms. There was never a question in my mind that proper working practices benefitted everyone and that a constructive approach, albeit with a hard edge when absolutely required, was the best way to safeguard members interests and encourage greater responsibility and reward at the shop floor level. World’s change – unions should be the people ahead of the curve.

  39. @Roland.

    Local Authority pensions come out as 1/80 of salary for every year worked. So 27/80’s is about a third. I believe changes are in the pipeline but this idea of gold plated pensions for LA employees is absurd. I read somewhere that the average pension for a full time LA worker is 7 – 8K.


    In a Tory/Lib Dem Marginal I would vote Labour. I would not consider voting Lib Dem. Now, I think, Tories and Lib Dem’s are cut from the same cloth. My hope is that the Coalition slowly unravels , by which time (And by God it’s taking time) Labour has a new Leader and can take the fight to the Centre Right in the ensuing GE.

  40. Roger Mexico,

    Thank you for your lucid contribution on the morality of economics.

    The key problem as I see it is that modern society has focused increasingly on monetisation – and if a price cannot be put on something, then it becomes worthless – whereas in reality most such things are truly priceless.

    This calls to mind the famous saying about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    Not sure how this relates to the opinion poll above – save perhaps in illustrating that most people have a ,imited perspective and base their opinions on how any given policy efefcts their personal monetary position rather than adopting a holistic view of the overall value – including such intangibles as liberty.

  41. Lazslo,

    The structural deficit is by definition that part which is not cyclical.

    If over a given period the net fiscal position fluctuates from minus £2bn to plus £2bn, then one can say that it is broadly in balance and the structural deficit is nil.

    If over a cycle, the position fluctuates from nil to plus £4bn, then actually the structural deficit is minus £2bn (or rather, a structural surplus of £2bn.

    If however, the variation is from a defict of £2bn to a deficit of £6b, then the structural deficit is £4bn, and not the £2bn achieved at the peak of the cycle.

    Since the UK fiscal position has not been in surplus for a very long time, we undoubtedly have a substantial structural deficit. We may debate precisely how large this figure is – and juggling the start / finish dates of the “cycle” are one way of doing so – but we simply cannot say that the structural deficit does not exist.

    Does it matter ? Of course it does because the implication is that the country is consistently spending beyond its means and such a position is simply unsustainable in the long term.

    It is often argued that deficits don’t matter so long as they can be funded. This is a very simplistic / short-term position. Do you think a company could carry on reporting losses year in year out and rely on the banks to roll its debts forward just because they are daft enough to do so in boom years ?

    Unless the public finances are brought under control, a crisis will eventually happen.

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