There was a Harris poll in the Daily Mail yesterday. Voting intention figures are incomprehensible. To quote from the Mail “The Tories are down from 36 per cent at the election to just 29 per cent, while Lib Dem support has collapsed from 23 per cent to just 12. Labour are on 28 per cent, down from 29 at the election. But a huge 17 per cent of people said they were undecided.”

Where to start? Firstly the Harris poll was of Great Britain, not the United Kingdom, so they should be comparing it to the GB result (CON 37%, LAB 30%, LDEM 24%). Secondly, 17% for don’t know isn’t huge, it’s comparable to other polls. Most importantly, they haven’t repercentaged to exclude don’t knows, so obviously all the parties are down. It is unclear whether or not they have also excluded won’t votes, so it’s not even possible to repercentage yourself. If they have excluded won’t votes, it implies 17% support for other parties, which seems unfeasible (though the newer online pollsters did tend to produce some very high scores for others before the election). If they didn’t exclude won’t votes either then it implies shares somewhere in the region of CON 36%, LAB 35%, LDEM 15%, but we can’t be sure.

On other questions, Harris found 26% thought Cameron had done better than they expected, 22% worse. 42% said he had been in line with expectations, though obviously we don’t know if those people’s expectations were positive or negative! For Osborne 12% thought he had exceeded expectations, 20% that he had done worse, Clegg was 19% and 29% respectively and Cable 13% better and 21% worse.

On opinions of the government, Harris asked people which words they’d use to describe it, with particularly unenlightning answers! All the words quoted in the paper were agreed with by about 52%-59% of people, included positive and negative ones – so 59% thought they were honest, 52% effective, 59% united… but 57% thought they are disappointing, 59% unpopular and 52% unbalanced. At least, I suppose there is an answer that everyone liked.

The only poll I’m aware of from the Sunday Papers is YouGov’s regular tracker survey – voting intention stands at CON 42%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%.

UPDATE: Tabs for the Harris poll are here now. Had the poll been repercentaged it would have shown voting intentions of CON 38%, LAB 36%, LDEM 16%, Others 10%.

261 Responses to “Harris/Daily Mail poll”

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  1. Eoin

    There is a job for you in this :-

    Big Society co-ordinator for NI-or even certain areas of England ;-)


  2. @ Colin

    Yes, the cover was awful – as bad, if not worse, than the Conservative’s ‘tome of national importance’ cover ;-)

  3. Colin,

    There is a children’s novel… “The silver sword” I think Joan Lingard wrote it but I cannot be sure… The sentiments, I share…..

    i accept there are those who need the state in times of adversity. Hell that is what it is for… but for those around us who adversity brings out the best in them, then this is their chance…. DC’s big society is their moment to show that they can shoulder some of the responsibilities for societies ills…. when the time comes for the state to turn the tap on again, maybe we’ll be surprised by the sectors that have in the intervening years thrived…

    You would not believe it but I have witnessed several such ventures refuse state aid because they value their independance.

    That is a win win for everybody, since it frees up resources that can be deployed elsewhere.

  4. Yes indeed Eoin.

    I hope they don’t let us down-I really do.

  5. ‘tome of national importance’

    “Invitation to join the Government of Britain” actually Amber.

    Quite a few Labour MP’s & former ministers seem to have accepted ;-)

    …..I know you refered to the cover…yes it was a bit tomelike.

  6. @EOIN
    There’s a very good book called the Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier about a Polish Jewish family during the war.
    Joan Lingard wrote a few books for children set in NI, the most famous is The Twelfth Day of July, probably what you’re thinking of?

  7. The Big Society indeed does some excellent work.

    The inner city drug programmes run by ex addicts, the music studios to give young gang members an interest they relate to, the unpaid carers, and youth workers and hospice supporters and crime rehab charities and on and on.

    They exist, they are often ridiculously effective and an army of warm, caring people give their lives to them.

    Certainly, there is massive scope for improvement, but did nobody care for anyone else before 2010? More importantly, how much did the government already do to support such schemes?

    If Cameron can increase this activity, it will indeed be a great thing. Cutting support up and down the country for voluntary schemes and charities seems like an odd way to start though IMO.

    I have seen little about HOW the Big Society will be encouraged and achieved and will be interested to see what the results are from Liverpool and what will happen to take it forward.

    So, nothing at all wrong with the idea, just waiting to see about the implementation.

  8. Colin,

    It is a question of expectations. If nobody understands the concept (which polling shows many dont) and reds talk down its merits as simply an excuse for cuts (which they often do), then DC cannot really fail- in temrs of expectations.

    There is only really one way of holding him to account. Help make people aware of what it is, raise the hopes of what can be acheived and participate constrcutively. that way if it failes, it will not go unnoticed. It will be there for all to understand.

    If it succeeds, then we all win. I thin with these things, the result is likely to be patchy but it is better than simply waiting around for the state to turn the tap on again.

  9. julian,

    thanks for that

    Yes you are correct… It was Ian Serraillier who wrote it… very good indeed

  10. Invitation to join the Government of Britain
    So not to be partisan;
    The Labour Way is the Better Way
    Double yuck.

  11. @ Éoin

    The state is not just there for times of adversity. The NHS is a proactive force for good… vaccinations is one example from many.

    Education – It should not be only for those who cannot pay. It should become a positive choice, with fewer people every year opting for fee paying schools.

    Energy – why should our money be invested in alternative energy (e.g. nuclear plants) via private companies? If I’m paying for it through my taxes, I want to own it.

    I was never a fan of PFI. I always believed a separate tax should have been raised for investment programs. Levy it on the top 5%-10% of earners; issue separate accounts for it. We taxpayers would’ve ensured the country got value for our money, I can assure you.

    I could go on & on about how a citizen involved state is a very different thing to with being passive claimants in times of adversity. It is also very different to being part of a big society that is cut off from its representatives – the government.

    I do not cede the argument that the state is a separate entity from the citizens. 8-)

  12. Sue,

    that was a good post. The most crucial word being ‘wait’. It would stand a better chance in Liverpool if the CLPs for reds told their activists to give it their blessing…. Afterall, not many blue activits up there to implement it.

    Money is important but willing foot soldiers are arguably more important.

    the narodniks tried soemthing similar in the 1880s in the russian countryside, I think Mao Tse Tung did also.

  13. @Amber,

    I was about to start a sentence with the words “Well, I don’t consider myself part of any state” and then reflected that, as a police officer, that’s probably not entirely accurate….

    The state is a seperate entity to the citizens in the sense that it is a subset of us. It belongs to us. We can change it, dismantle it, feed it steroids or mostly ignore it but it isn’t co-terminus with us. If there was no state, there would still be a people.

  14. Just had a quick look at manifesto titles.
    In 1959 Labour had the truly awful; Britain belongs to you. No wonder they lost.
    There’s a lesson here. The 1979 win by the Tories may have had nothing to do with the winter of discontent. Their manifesto didn’t have any title at all. ;)

  15. Amber,

    Philisophically speaking I must disagree. The state for the foreseeable future has a crucail role (perhaps the most important role) in our lives. Granted. Not just for adveristy- eg. it has an active role- granted.

    But the ultimate dream of all socialists is the abolition of the state. IF you believe in the inherent good nature ofhumanity, then a day will come surely where its ineqaultiies have been ironed out and mankind coexists in harmony.

    Marx & Engels called it the ‘withering’ of the state.
    Bakunin and others were even more optimistic about removing the need for the state.
    robert Owen the founder of British Socialism compeletely bypassed the state…

    We become monsters if all we seek to serve is the monster we created. That is where communism went wrong.

    There is probably not a creditable theorist on the left that wishes to see the state exist indefinitely.

  16. Sue @ 1.55pm
    “but we will certainly be a voice for the millions of people who support us and don’t agree with the Big Society”

    Sue @ 2.58pm
    “So, nothing at all wrong with the idea, just waiting to see about the implementation”

    I’m a bit confused there Sue ;-)

  17. @ Neil A

    I completely agree – without the people there would be no state. Thank you for eloquently helping me to make my point which was not intended to be party political; it is about my over-all belief in the state as an expression of society &, hopefully, the best of our aspirations shorn of the pettiness that we are free to indulge in as individuals.

    I know that is not always what we actually get… but I will continue to make the case for it. 8-)

  18. Julian,

    how about the three Fs title that the Labour campaign had devised? Unrepeatable but have you read them?

  19. I have to admit there’s something annoys me about the Big Society idea but I’ve not quite been able to put my finger on it before.
    I think I’ve just worked out what it is. It offends the part of my character that is most pragmatic.
    It’s aim is, and I quote; “to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will take power away from politicians and give it to people.”
    I can’t argue with this idea because I simply don’t know what it means.
    This is all word play for me. ‘Society’, ‘people’, ‘state’, ‘community’ – these are all meaningless words. Or words which have a lot of meanings to different people.
    If I need my heart replaced, I want the most professional team of people doing it with the best resources. If I need my home protected from a gang of criminals, I want something similar.
    The question of how to get the most professional people and the best resources is down to education and investment. Isn’t it?
    The fact that some people think we need to cut investment because reducing the budget deficit is the most important issue facing the country at the moment is a much more honest discussion.

  20. @Julian,

    Very well put.

  21. @ Éoin

    But the ultimate dream of all socialists is the abolition of the state.
    No – abolition of the state is a nightmare for socialists. Neil A is closer when he says we are free to dismantle it when/ if we choose to do so.

    Therefore the dream is of the day when the organs of the state antrophy & are dismantled (not abolished) because they are no longer needed. That day comes when the collective good within each individual actually outstrips the pettiness.

    Personally, I can be as petty as the next person. I want the state to be an expression of our best selves & not wait until we achieve ‘goodness’ individually. 8-)

  22. EOIN

    Sorry to come back to the death tally issue but I’ve been thinking about the point you made that such a website would be ethically questionable.

    When the government decides to go to war against another country or regime we actively remember and celebrate the lives that are lost. When the government goes to war against its own people (and some of the proposed cuts will definitely be life threatening) perhaps it would be reasonable to celebrate and remember those lives that are lost?

  23. @EOIN
    A three F’s title that is unrepeatable?
    A Future F*** For All?

  24. Amber,

    Your post has just ignored 200 years of writings on socialism. I am sure you know only too well Amber than socialism and the ultimate achievement of it means that the need for a state does not exist….

    After hungary 1956 and Prague ’68 Socialists the world over vowed never to let the obsession with building a state ruin the ideology again.

    Your pronouncements of your own ‘pettiness’ indicates that you would prefer the state to remain. That is fine of course, your perogative – but there is a philisophical gap in your understanding if you think that it espoused by socialism.

    The state serves a purpose, when that purpsoe passes so will the need for a state. All socialists in theory should look forward to that date. wallowing in pettiness is only going to slow the matter…

  25. @Amber,

    In a way its the reason I’ve never disliked Socialists. If we were the sort of species you would like us to be, I’d be a Socialist too (not that “isms” would mean much in such a world). But given the world, and the human race, we actually have to deal with, I think the greatest good is served by a light-handed state that exists to mitigate the worst excesses rather than an iron-fisted state that exists to iron out the slightest imperfection.

    As for the “Big Society”, my fear is that although the principle is sound, there are simply not the levers available to pull to make it a reality. To get that degree of involvement from the public you’d need some kind of mass hysteria event. I am as bad as the next person, walking through rubbish-strewn parks thinking “why doesn’t someone pay someone to clean this up” when I have a perfectly good grabber and bin bags at home.

  26. David,

    Commemorate or celebrate? Perhaps the two are the same…. i do not know.

    If a rural local had three ambulances with a maximum response time of 54 minutes to the treatment tabel… one ambulance breaks down and is not replaced., after wich someone dies because they did not get to a treatment table within the targetted 54 minutes, is this to be one of those cases that you refer to? If so, can we be certain that reds would have fixed the ambulance? Afterall, they had not ring fenced the NHS. Aside from that, what if the perosn had underlying health concerns that meant, the treatment table would not have been able to help. What if there was an accident on the motorway that help up the ambulance. What if the driver had only recently passed his HVG II equivalent. The what ifs could go on forever. It is an unsavoury can of worms…

    Why not let the ofice of national statisitcs report annually on Ambulance response times? Or meaure the size of the ambulance fleet. Much more ethical in my view.

  27. @ David B

    Civilian casualties of the war against the state. As a private effort, with the blessing of the individuals’ families, it is no more tastleless than the anti-NHS sites that enumerate (& sickeningly almost celebrate) every error & medical accident that happens within the NHS.

    Such sites were a feature of the US anti-Obama healthcare campaign.

    I can see how the site may be useful to individual activists or pressure groups. Any politicians leveraging it would be taking a big risk (& I am sure there will be some who are tempted to do so).

  28. re. abolishing the state.
    It’s all about semantics again.
    Imagine we lived in a perfect country, with no state. We all help each other to clean the streets and protect each other etc etc.
    I might suggest to everyone that we pool are resources with the streets next to us and we will be able to clean our streets more efficiently. Have we created the beginnings of a state street cleaning service?
    Why not pay a joint weekly amount to pool our money so we can afford even better services?
    That would be tax.
    The farm next to us produces some really nice hops. We’re experts on producing malted barley.
    Let’s get together and make some beer!
    Is that socialism?

  29. Julian,

    but- and it is a crucial but- if we accept (and i wholeheartedly do) that the states function is to remedy societies ills, then what type of socialist stands in the way of socieities efforts to remedy itself.

    If we are not to abolish the state in one instance then when exactly do we begin the process whereby we take society of a life support machine and see can it breathe?

    i have my deep suspicions that it is a century too soon but i would not much of a socialist if i did not welcome an attempt to promote micro power in the form which letwin envisages…

    It is why i have made the claim before that cameron is in some ways left of Nuu Labour.

    and before anybody throws their dummy from the pram, I do not think anyone is saying sack all bin men and doctors…

    this is more about the functions of the state we can take responsibility for ourselves…

  30. @ Neil A

    You have it exactly right – we are not the people we would like to be. Even if Big Society is intended to enable us to become those people, who directs it?

    I am going to pick up you point & run with it as a general illustration:

    A worthwhile initiative, cleaning up parks, how many times do you – with bin bags & grabbers in hand – clear up somebody else’s mess? How long before you think: People will just keep dumping their garbage & expecting me to clean it up. I will put my hand in my pocket for more bins, perhaps that will help.

    You raise the money & buy the bins & put them in the park. Very nice bins they are too. But they belong to you & you’ve put them in a public place. So half of them are stolen. Your colleagues say: “Neil, what did you expect, spending money on nice bins & putting them in a public park?”

    And, because these (remaining) bins belong to you, it is up to you to empty them & dispose of their contents responsibly. But you get busy at work & don’t have time so the bins are overflowing. Your neighbours start knocking on your door & berating your wife for you failing to discharge your self-appointed role as park litter attendant.

    You have done good but the pettiness of those around will almost certainly turn it into a thankless task – or even an expectation that you cannot hope to meet on your own. :-(

  31. Amber,

    Shall i tell you what we did in our area to help with litter. We lobbied the government for permision to build a permanent skip site. We thed got builder within the community to build it.. we raise funds through a weekly Lotto on the easte to pay for a skip every 6 weeks. The state’s only role was to rubber stamp. The unemployment levels of the said estate was a third. I supervised the site for 2 years as it was close to my house… it was only vandalised once. The same can be done with street signs, ramps, traffic lights etc etc…

    Admittedly that was done during a tory gov. when we had little option but to do it oursleves…

  32. JULIAN

    “If I need my heart replaced, I want the most professional team of people doing it with the best resources.”

    Of course-who suggests otherwise?
    But a grateful & involved citizenry might-as they do in many hospitals-help to raise funds for that team-or their staff-or whatever seems to help.

    “If I need my home protected from a gang of criminals, I want something similar”

    Of course you do -you want a professional police force to catch criminals.
    But if your area’s incidence of crime is made worse by local drug dealing, or feral children, or gang culture, a concerned & involved citizenry might -as they do in some areas-raise funds for & organise youth activity centres, mount street protection initiatives, make life difficult for drug dealers-and get involved with the local police strategy.

    You seem to imagine the outsourcing of all State provision for citizens to “volunteers”. This is not the concept at all.

    The idea is -for me-is two stranded:-

    The individual citizen, together with other others can devote time in the cause of a better community-supplementing & enhancing State activities.

    Social Enterprises , run by specialists, can replace or enhance State provision of services to citizens if they can do it more effectively. They may be funded by the State to provide those services, or they may rely on voluntary funding-or a combination of both.

    Both of these strands are important, but I think the first is what critics concentrate on, and the second is likely to have the greater impact.

    I recommend a trawl through the many many websites of the Social Enterprises of this country. It is a humbling & uplifting experience.

  33. @ Éoin

    I have read some of the literature of which you speak. And some of it is pretty good but in my worst moments I call it: “The state as a sticking plaster until we ascend to join the angels” syndrome.

    I know about the good that is in people, Éoin. I know about the instinct for self-preservation too. Christ’s miracle in feeding the multitute was in persuading them to share the food each had brought, instead of hoarding it for themselves, so as not to be hungry on the journey home.

    Joseph’s wisdom: Persuading the pharoah (the state) to store & share with everybody, the surplus grain. A CAP by any other name…

    So yes, I have read of academic, intellectual socialism. And I have read more important collectivist writings!

    I now have my own ‘socialist handbook’. It says don’t wait for the individual good samaratin, don’t wait for the second coming & don’t wait for yourself to be the person you would like to become. Harness the synergy of all our fledgling best selves, invest it in the state & help it exceed our own limitations. 8-)

  34. Eoin @ 4.37pm

    Great story.

    I think Amber misses a point-the transforming power of example.

    Yes there will be eternal reprobates.

    But these people thrive on two things :-
    * Welfare benefits which allow them to idle the day away spoiling & destroying.
    * A public who walk by on the other side, and massage their egos as untouchables.

    If the former is addressed by welfare to work changes, and the latter is replaced by an involved & angry citizenry & an active police force -such people are no longer untouchables, but outcasts.

    Your post simply describes the problem Amber-it does not suggest a solution-and The State does not have one for your example. It is far too remote.

  35. @ Colin

    If the former is addressed by welfare to work changes, and the latter is replaced by an involved & angry citizenry & an active police force -such people are no longer untouchables, but outcasts.

    Well done, you have just described a Big Bully Society, using a police force to literally force people to do ‘voluntary’ things against their will.

    Please tell me you were being ironic or subtly making a point I have failed to get. 8-)

  36. “Well done, you have just described a Big Bully Society, using a police force to literally force people to do ‘voluntary’ things against their will. ”


    ……erm ….where did I say that?……or even imply it?

  37. @ Colin

    I have quoted your post – has a mischief maker been using your moniker again? Or have I misunderstood the part of you post that I quote? 8-)

  38. Well I’ve read what I wrote again-and again.

    And I have no idea what you are on about Amber !

  39. Alec and others
    Re – self employment – legalities and tax law

    This is off topic, and perjhaps a little late, but I though I’d add some comments.

    There is no law that says that a person cannot claim to be self employed. Nor is there any penalty for the individual for making an erroneous claim. And why should there be? The person is liable to income tax and national insurance (Class 2 and Class 4) contributions.

    The penalties of treating a person as self employed when in fact he or she is an employee apply to the employer. The employer can be held liable for underdeducted PAYE income tax, and also to Class1 NICs and a penalty for lost revenue imposed. Furthermore, there are many cases submitted by workers to employment tribunals seeking awards (eg for unfair dismissal) even though the parties to the contract treated the relationship as other than employee/employer.

    There is also the so-called IR35 legislation that applies to ‘one-man’ service companies. This legisaltion seeks to prevent the kind of arrangements where workers cease being employees of an employer but then create a service company of which they are en employee, and then undertake work for their former employer under a contract between the service company and the previous employer. There is nothing wrong with this either, but IR35 requires copanies to make a declaration annually.

  40. @ Colin

    You wrote (at 4:51pm) of people who are “eternal reprobates”. An involved & angry citizenry (mob) & an active police force should turn them into outcasts!

    Who decides which people are “eternal reprobates” to be cast out of society? Do you want to set the criteria, Colin? If not you, who?

  41. @COLIN -“…. a grateful & involved citizenry might-as they do in many hospitals-help to raise funds……..”
    Agreed, but it’s not enough. We need a well funded education service which produces world-class heart surgeons. For that, we need an enabling state with adequate funding.
    “….involved citizenry might -as they do in some areas-raise funds for & organise youth activity centres…..etc..”
    Agreed. But again it’s no replacement for a well trained and professional police force who are able to respond at the speed of a bullet.
    For that, we need an enabling state with adequate funding. It costs.

  42. @Amber “I do not cede the argument that the state is a separate entity from the citizens.”

    I wholly agree – citizens are the state. We create and shape it, and support it via taxation.

  43. Amber-for goodness sake!


    I will try once more

    There are reprobates in our society ( read some of Eoins posts about his local area) who appear to have the time to swan around all day destroying & vandalising -whose only visible means of financial support is welfare benefits . These people , and others involved in crime make the parks you referred to, and peoples lives in their area a nightmare.

    Citizens have taken to walking by on the other side -out of fear-thus making these reprobates feel untouchable.

    If-& yes it is a big if-local citizens can become active in a variety of ways that we have been discussing,which counters the damage these people do , whilst welfare to work changes deprive them of their State support, and a more engaged police force back up local initiatives-then -I tried to argue- these reprobates will no longer be untouchable , but isolated .

    You may say that this is wishful thinking by all means-but I have no idea where Big Bully Society criticism came from.

  44. JULIAN

    “We need a well funded education service which produces world-class heart surgeons. For that, we need an enabling state with adequate funding.”


    I doubt there is much difference between us in reality.

  45. Colin – “But a grateful & involved citizenry might-as they do in many hospitals-help to raise funds for that team-or their staff-or whatever seems to help.”

    I know you’re no stranger to hospitals, so you know better than most how much fund-raising already goes on in most hospitals – MRI scanners,WRVS, day room appeals for tellies and sofas, new research etc etc. The places are crammed with volunteers – I sometimes wonder just what it is doctors and nurses were there for.

    the Big Society already exists, but it’s nice DC is making it a central part of his government

  46. Mike N,

    How was the state of Lombardy? :) I hope you enjoyed yourself.


    Quite a phlisophical gap exists between us I think… I think you understand where you diverg from othodox socialism but then it is not a science is it?

    I have lived in areas at times in my life we there was no state worth writing home about…. we learned to cope- good things happened some still survive. They would never have been born had the state been ever-present.

    The superstructure is super indeed but I have since my time posting here made it clear that my preference is for Michel Foucault and his writings on micro-power :) :)

    It is all very well trotting out the usual left wing chat up lines about “well funded education” and “a health service that is the envy of the world” ect ect ect. This in reality is simply throughing billions of tax payers money at certain holy cows to very little avail.
    Education for a large number of people these days and for many years past is a complete disaster which equips them for very little, yet has cost a large fortune.

  48. DavidB – a lot of people wouldn’t accept your analysis that Thatcher caused damage to British society, quite the reverse in fact.

  49. @ROLAND -“Education for a large number of people these days and for many years past is a complete disaster which equips them for very little, yet has cost a large fortune.”
    Agreed. But is the answer to stop funding it?
    I have a question for you as a military man.
    Would you prefer a military run by the state or split into small local militias?
    I would much prefer the first. If you would also prefer the first, then you and I agree on well-funded state services being necessary.
    I simply take the logic one step further. If it’s good enough for the military, why is it not good enough for schools and hospitals too?

  50. @ Colin

    The process required to target ‘eternal reprobates’ will sweep up innocent by-standers in its net.

    Welfare to work… who will decide those who are fit to work & those who aren’t?

    Are Big Society volunteers to provide jobs for all the welfare to work people? Surely, if the work is worth doing it should be a ‘real’ job at a living wage.

    Tax-payers demanding extremely low cost services from those unfortunate enough not to be able to secure a fair wage in an unsympathetic market place. If we tax-payers want the service, we should pay for it to be provided at a living wage through our taxes.

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