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. @ Cosmo

    “IMHO the only way to squeeze the real waste out is to freeze departmental budgets and set a long-term framework for this e.g. A straight freeze, no inflation rises for , say, the next ten years. Protect front line posts, remove bureaucrats. We won’t miss them.”

    I agree with all these. However, simply the mechanism does not work like this – neither in the public nor in the private sector.

    The only way to achieve it is the shared common values and beliefs at all levels. Since it is not there, and we have target numbers and quite shallow ideological sessions – these are bureaucratic measures. Bureaucracy will be fought with bureaucratic controls resulting in cutting services in two main forms: cheating and shirking.

    The other consequence of these bureaucratic measures against waste and bureaucracy is that orders will be given but there will not be checking on how the orders will be met. The par excellence bureaucracy is the government as it is constituted here (not government as such). In Labour the waste was a trade off for the achievement, in thecoalition the pain and suffering is a trade off for achievement. Horrifying really.

  2. @Laszlo – agreed – company taxation is very hard to ‘get right’.

    Overall though my point is that while people like Roland can tut tut and hide behind the fact that we need to make savings as an excuse to cut disability payments or increase VAT, which may or may not be justified, many of these same people avoid commenting on some huge items of expenditure or tax avoidance that lie outside of a particular political ideology.

    I would have thought for example, everyone (or about 99% of people) could agree that £10b should not be spent on subsidising pensions for the top 1% of earners. That’s the same as a 5% real terms cut in the entire welfare bill, at no immediate cost to the wider economy.

    Likewise, if we simply have to take a tough stand on housing benefit, why don’t we have to take an equally tough stand on the need to tax assets? The Tories rejected out of hand Labour’s rather good idea of a graduated levy on property up to a maximum of £20,000 payable after death to fund spiralling costs of care for the elderly.

    We are watching an incredibly one sided debate with none of the imaginative and transformative approach we were promised before polling day. It’s the same old same old – VAT rise, benefits cuts, departmental spending slashed.

    It may or may not work in fiscal terms, but it won’t solve the ‘structural social deficit’ to coin a phrase. In years to come even if the economy looks right we’ll have a huge backlog of public service spending to catch up on, and we’re back to the starting point.

  3. @Eoin
    Like me you don’t expect Labour to promise to put up Income Tax!
    Re corporation tax the problem is that the big companies earn a high proportion of their earnings overseas – if the tax regime becomes too high they will be off. I understand that HSBC is already considering relocating. Capital will always seek out the highest profits (and the cheapest labour of course). Unfortunately most people don’t really understand what is going on. Party politics can be a useful diversion.

  4. @ Alec

    I agree with you. My point was only the necessary grounding of such policies (which I exaggerated quite a bit, I admit). And yes, all the things you listed would be sufficient and also shows the hypocrisy.

    There’s an social ideological factor against it (“they worked for their money” versus “I can work, why they cannot”). It requires quite a personal experience at a mass scale to overcome this belief and then helping people to process these pieces of experience.

    And there is an economic ideological factor against it – that the budget has any economic meaning. It does not, has never had and will not have. It’s an artificial construct for economic modelling and gets in policy making quite impertinently :-) (sorry for the smile, it’s tragic really). To overcome this would be easier, if economists were less dogmatic and if politicians stopped the comparison between the household budget and the state budget.

  5. JohnT,

    Big corps use scare mongering to say they are relocating…

    There are many advantages to being located in London that have to be weighed against corp… lets face it they had 13 years of New Labour to move…

    I accept the basic premise that low corp can have higher yield.. but it has to come with strings attached eg.. a promise on job security – no outsourcing of employment etc…

  6. @ John T

    “Capital will always seek out the highest profits (and the cheapest labour of course).”

    Within limits it’s true, but the limits are very sharp. True that many UK firms compete on this basis, but not all and it’s certainly not the main competitive advantage in general. The extraction of surplus value and realisation of large rate of profits have many ways.

    The government could use similar methods as in the business sphere – e.g. low purchase prices for high self-space allocation, low sales price for long-term purchase agreements, etc. But it’s very alien to the fiscal policy orthodoxy (this is the main reason I feel sorry for the end of Mendelson’s rule in the Dep. of Business – he definitely made attempts to get out of this orthodoxy).

  7. I think some are living in cloud cuckoo land re. the popularity vs unpopularity of the cuts, required to bring down our humongous budget deficit. People by and large are “atuned” to what is necessary and this is reflected recent Tory poll surge, which looks like its going north of 45%. When was the last time the torys hit 43% ? – answer after their closing conferance speech last year! weve seen 43 twice in a week!

    The public aren’t silly. They know that action had to be taken, albeit painful but big juicy cuts.

    Personally I think the government should act even faster and cut deep, deep dep NOW .. We are doomed anyway so may as well go out with a bang!!

  8. Correction: self – shelf

  9. Wayne,

    Put that in a valentines card to Nadine Dorries. I think you two could have something special

  10. Wayne – “We are doomed anyway so may as well go out with a bang!!”


  11. @ Wayne

    “Personally I think the government should act even faster and cut deep, deep dep NOW .. We are doomed anyway so may as well go out with a bang!!”

    Then don’t forget to invest heavily in riot police (preferably mercenaries), even if it means even bigger cuts, otherwise other types of cuts may come into the perspective.

  12. @ALEC
    I am not tut tutting, nor am I hiding, I have nothing to hide from. That this present situation would come about has been obvious for many months. Now of course, the very people who supported the administration who oversaw the handling of the financial crisis are pulling to pieces every move the coailition make to repair it. What a pity all these cuts and reductions are required at all. However, dont try to deny me and those like me the right to denounce the cause of our problems, while people like you tut tut about the effects.

  13. Breaking off from my attempts to get the jokes in Asterix and Obelix in Corsica (in French), I think the honeymoon is just that and the Coalition will indeed take a knife to the NHS and anything else, while the going is good. After the first six months of any Government it will be stranded by events, in this case perhaps the double dip, so it has to do it all now. I expect a big Lab recovery by next spring.

    Eoin and others are right on IT hike in preference to VAt hike. The latter is not only unfair to lower paid but will be dampening to the economy, which is why Labour chose a VAT reduction last year. cable himself moaned about its restitution to 17.5 as being a dampener, so now to 20% -what must he be thinking?

    You only pay IT if you are in a job (or have similar unearned income) and you only pay NI if you are in a job – so the Budget will, by this time next year, have robbed the poor and given to the rich, by omitting these hikes.
    We can all agree on that surely -they are facts after all?

  14. Howard,

    I have the Asterix 6 episdoe set :) Money well spent (although with added VAT I am not so sure I would bother now)

    Vince Cable has obviously decided if he is in for a penny he is in for a pound… (actually £1.025 but you get the point). :)

  15. @ Howard

    I agree with your points about the tax system.

    If the BMA conference can be believed (there is quite a bit of vested interests there and lots of ideology), the cuts in NHS has been ongoing and yes, these will be bigger. After all, everybody has to die and poor people can die without seeing a doctor, while the rich can pay for seeing a doctor and die then – somewhat later than the poor (ok, it’s a bit too much, but I cannot really apologise as it seems to be coming).

  16. @ Eoin and Howard

    I’m really backward, I still have only the paper version of Asterix :-(, but quite a bit of it :-)

  17. @HOWARD
    Sorry Howard, dont agree at all. The one thing the worse off can get from the next few years is dont ever vote Labour again. This self inflicted boom and bust cycle will continue to hurt them whoever is in power. This pitying concern for “our people” has not worked to their benefit at all, has it ?

  18. Dissecting the last 3 YouGov polls it is very clear that the support for cuts has risen not fallen!

    The public are putting what is necessary ahead of what they would like in an ideal world, hence the popularity and tory poll surge…. interesting !

    Once the public sector has gone through the shredding machine and the waste is binned!.

    we will soon see job growth through the private sector once the corporation tax cuts filter through … exciting times !!

  19. Roland,

    A lot of people were cushioned from the bust by low inflation and low interest rates…

    Hence the bust hit big business much more…

    VAT automatically puts inflation up 2.5%. That’ll be close to 6%. If the recovery pushes oil back up we could be at 8% inflation this time next year….

    The immediate response will be a rise in interest rates and all of this with increasing unemployment…

    Aint you seen ground hog day? Or should i call that Ground Howe day?

  20. @ Wayne

    It will be a harsh awaking for you. I’m not envious of it. But being awake right now (and for some time) is not particularly pleasant either. So, maybe I’m not envious after all.

  21. @Anthony Wells

    Have ICM changed their methodology / weighting since the GE?

  22. Wayne,

    I do hope you keep posting :)


    I’ll swap you my electronic copies…. when wayne’s ‘big bang’ happens at least I’ll be able to read the paper version.

  23. Let’s be clear – this budget strategy is not about working hard for your money & being allowed to keep what you earn & pay only when you spend.

    This is about those of us with mobile & marketable skills being utterly indulged at the expense of those who are not capable of achieving our level of marketable skills.

    Those who bought property before the boom, those who spotted an opportunity at the right time. They (we) are to be rewarded.

    Even within our skill sets & organisations we all know colleagues who earn more for doing &/or achieving less. So why do we pretend that it is all about ‘hard work & thrift’?

    It is not about hard work being rewarded. It is about good fortune being rewarded. Can’t we be honest about this? And then question why this government sees fit to reward most, those who are already ‘blessed’?

  24. Ground hog day

    Wayne’s World


  25. Mike N

    :) :)

    I have consulted mystic meg- she forsee’s blueys on 60% by xmas…

    oops, she also said that refers only to buckinghamshire

  26. Roland
    I merely pointed out what I thought were facts about the three taxes IT, VAT and NI. Which fact do you think is incorrect in my post? You say you do not ‘agree’ -what’s there to not agree about?

  27. @roland – “What a pity all these cuts and reductions are required at all”.

    But that’s the point – these cuts aren’t required. Reductions in spending are – in my view they are a necessity and we need to get on with them reasonably quickly, but the government has gone down a familiar path and has (so far) left unaddressed many serious and long term drains on our resources that are much more of a contribution to the fiscal ills than the things they are going after.

    You might recall that for a couple of weeks shortly after the formation of the government I was highly critical of Labour as they navel gazed while DC and NC talked about a major reassessing and refocusing of the functions of the state. I welcomed this, and repeatedly pointed out some of the iniquities of billions of pounds of state spending that goes to middle and upper earners, quite unnecessarily, saying that there were substantial avenues for a huge fiscal rebalancing that was highly progressive in its impact and that Labour needed to take up DC’s challenge and argue the case. I even coined the phrase ‘the grabbing middle classes’ to put alongside the more traditional ‘welfare cheats and scroungers’.

    Unfortunately the budget has seen a retreat to traditional Tory methods, and in large part the notion of a radical overhaul of the state’s function seems to have been replaced by an old fashioned cuts and VAT rise mentality. There is still time, and I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll have to wait and see. I’m certainly not advocating that no spending reductions are necessary.

    I’m reminded of a line from the BBC adaptation of Casanova with David Tennant. As he flees from an irate husband after another indiscretion he shouts ‘You love your wife. I love your wife – we’re on the same side!”.

    You and I actually share the same view, but somehow we just don’t agree.

  28. @Eoin Clarke

    Well it had to be said… someone has to tell it the way it is!

    The polls don’t lie – I think we are seeing the public warming to the big swinging axe being taken to the public sector, its become such a monster to feed!

    George Osborne’s popularity is rising faster than the temperature in the england dressing room !

  29. Eoin

    Ground Howe day


  30. @Eoin Laszlo
    BP paid12.6bn tax in 2009. Shell paid about 1 billion.
    In 2007 Shell shifted its main tax-residence to Holland. Rights to its brands were shifted in 2005 to Shell Brands International AG, in Switzerland, where tax rates are as low as 8%, and there are low tax rates for expatriate executives. Shell is now a British public company, tax-resident in Amsterdam, whose brands are Swiss.
    How long before BP and others do the same I wonder. As I said earlier, HSBC is rumoured to be doing so.

  31. @ Wayne

    According to ICM they are still weighting according to how people voted in 2005! So I suspect the answer is no.

    ICM now have the detailed figures up here:

    ht tp://

    I assume they are still considering what methodological changes to make and will switch to using 2010 voting then.

    If I recall correctly, when they did a call back to see how people actually had voted, they got a response that matched their polls rather than the actual election results. So are probably still pondering that. (It also indicates that the last minute change in the polling booth might not be correct).

    Alternatively some eejit’s forgotten to update the methodology section. :)

  32. @Wayne – “The polls don’t lie – I think we are seeing the public warming to the big swinging axe being taken to the public sector, its become such a monster to feed!”

    I think you need to take a slighly more mature approach to polls and polling. No one here is suggesting the polls are lying, but many of us have experience of previous periods of fiscal retrenchment and all of us have experience of polls moving over time as perceptions and events change.

    What these experiences tell us is that announcements of budget spending limits rarely meet with massive poll responses. It’s what happens when these spending announcements are put into practice that really counts, particularly when looking at cuts. these will be painful and I can gurantee that when they do come they won’t be met with ecstatic dancing in the streets.

    Another point worth noting is that (although the comparison is a little unfair for all kinds of reasons) the net changes from the actual GE result to this poll show the coalition parties with a net loss of 2% while Labour has a net gain of 6%. Not many people would see that as a massive vote of confidence.

    I suspect that the other reason why people here get a bit irked by your posts is that you seem to delight in the prospect of cuts. They will be painful, and they will hurt real people – many of these are people who don’t deserve to be hurt and who could not be blamed in any way for causing the problems which we now face. Appearing to rejoice in this isn’t useful and frankly, isn’t very pleasant, whether or not the cuts themselves are justified.

  33. Johnty
    Never be under any ilusion about Royal Dutch Shell -it’s Dutch and their own majesty (Queen Beatrix is the ‘Royal’ in the title) owns a considerable amount of it! There are several Dutch companies who never pay a cent in tax in NL (or anywhere else) being ‘resident’ in the Antillies or somewhere similar.

    BTW high rates of VAT on the mainland does produce a considerable shift to the black economy. I wonder if the Coalition has factored that development in?

  34. Roger Mexico “If I recall correctly, when they did a call back to see how people actually had voted, they got a response that matched their polls rather than the actual election results.”

    What? If this is true, it makes me wonder about the reliability of polls.

  35. @Mike N

    Sorry, I lied. It was Ipsos/MORI

    Anthony’s post is here

    ht tp://

    Serves me right for relying on memory (well at least it begins with “I”) ;)

  36. Roger Mexico

  37. Roger Mexico

    oops, meant to say thanks .

  38. Roger and Mike N
    My dutch friends have recorded what their respondents polled on eve of election and have purposely recontacted the same people from their 40,000 online panel and have discovered that the extreme right wing party (PVV) which has been excluded from the formation talks has now reached highest party status! It would appear that people who hovered to vote for them but could not hold their noses long enough now feel that the PVV has been unfairly treated. The cost was from both other right wing parties (CDA and VVD).

    In this case the actual elelction result proved understatement of support for PVV (shy racists?) whilst, as I reported, the other parties were nearly spot on.

    I have wondered if our own pollsters might not have tried to recontact eve of poll panellists?

  39. Howard

    I guess that reinforces the view that only GE polls (and perhaps local election polls) actually record VI whereas opinion polls are just that – opinion which is subject to change according to prevailing issues and the topic currently being played out in the media.

  40. The MORI figures were not a call-back, they are just normal recalled vote from a post-election survey. Note that in the latest ICM poll the unweighted 2010 recalled vote is actually pretty close to the actual 2010 election result.

    The methodology section in that ICM poll saying they weighted to 2005 recalled vote is an error I believe, I think they are weighting to 2010 recalled vote.

  41. @Howard
    Transocean, one of the companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico disaster has also (before the disaster) shifted to Switzerland, along with a number of other oil companies I understand. The Queen of Holland may be less of a factor than you think!
    What you say about VAT and the black economy is obviously pertinent – how many of us have not paid cash to tradesmen to do jobs. Raising income tax seems the fairest solution – but no political party will bite the bullet.

  42. @Johnty – “Raising income tax seems the fairest solution – but no political party will bite the bullet.”

    This still wouldn’t solve the problem of undeclared cash payments of course.

    But something that might help…..
    The treatment of gin in the C18th is quite interesting. It was a major social harm, caused all manner of problems and in due course was regulated and taxed to greatly assist the Treasury. Drugs and prostitution spring to mind. Legalise, regulate and tax and we could have a budget bonanza for any politician not afraid to take the flak.

  43. @ Johnty

    Royal Dutch Shell is a peculiar company – the date you refer to is when the two businesses were really merged (the Dutch and the English), hence the result of having the HQ in the Netherlands and the registered office in London.

    As with all of the relatively large Dutch companies, the subsidiaries have big autonomy and there is less overall optimisation as in MNCs of other countries.

    But, of course, firms do relocate – but it’s quite easy in the case of Shell. When I worked in Leeds, some of my colleagues commuted from Amsterdam.

  44. @ Johnty

    “What you say about VAT and the black economy is obviously pertinent – how many of us have not paid cash to tradesmen to do jobs. Raising income tax seems the fairest solution – but no political party will bite the bullet.”

    The same problem would appear – black market, cash changing hand. The only way to do it is the abolishing of cash payment. I don’t think we are too far from it by the way (cf. the desire that everybody has a bank account). The technology is there (kind of Oyster card), the only thing required is poltical will.

    But of course, you will catch the small fish only in this way.

  45. @ Alec

    “The treatment of gin in the C18th is quite interesting.”

    Very much so. It have rise to beer (ale) drinking and decent looking pubs. But the whole thing was not as easy as it seems from now. If your read the pamphlets (or some of it) about the issue in the folowing two hundred years, you will see the ambivalence.

    The drug is perhaps even more interesting. Nobody on the field of taxation of and dependence of drugs refers to the period in the UK when drugs were freely available. But all the time (pro and cons) about other countries. The same applies for prostitution…

    Having said that both are dependent on the social conditions…

  46. Correction (again :-) ): “would have given rise to beer”…

  47. @EOIN
    Thanks everso for the economics lesson, I will pass it on to George, Vince and the gang.
    No, I did not see groundhog day, is ground Howe day a detrimental reference to Sir Geoffrey Howe ?

    If it is, I think you have a bloody cheek in light of socialisms recent financial triumphs.

  48. @HOWARD
    I do not agree that raising Income Tax would have been an improvement on raising VAT. I also think that time will prove it.

  49. @ALEC
    I understand now Alec, stupid me. I thought you were going to cancel the Royal Air Force and all the usual left wing stuff. But wow, putting a tax on serious drug dealers and whores, wht a plan.

  50. @Alec
    Absolutely. legalise and tax drugs and prostitution and as well as raising taxes , and improving the quality of these products,there will be an improvement in the nation’s health and a decrase in crime.

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