Here are some bits and pieces from polls you may have missed.

ICM did a poll on Faith schools for Channel 4. On the principle of faith schools, 37% thought there should be faith shools, 59% disagreed (although the wording was a bit harsh – the anti-faith school argument said “schools should be for everyone regardless of religion”, so it’s possible some people who picked that option may have supported faith schools if they were not allowed to select on the basis of religion). On the subject of admissions, 37% thought it was understandable the lengths some parents went to get their children into their preferred school, with 60% saying it was wrong for parents to pretend to belong to a religion to get into a school. People were split on whether or not schools should have a daily religious assembly – 45% agreed they should, 44% disagreed.

Moving on, there was a short YouGov poll commissioned by the Ed Balls leadership campaign and the CWU on whether the post office should be privatised or not. 60% thought it should remain wholly in public ownership, 13% that is should be part-privatised and 15% that is should be privatised completely.

Interestingly enough, we used pretty much the same wording for this poll as for this poll of Labour members for Compass back in 2009 – back then 66% of Labour members opposed privatisation, 24% supported part-privatisation and 5% complete privatisation, giving us the rather surprising result that Labour members are marginally more likely to support privatisation than the general public. The reason for this odd answer is straightforward – back in 2009 it was Labour party policy to support post-office part-privatisation – I suspect Labour party members would be much less supportive now it is the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government doing it! On the subject of party supporters becoming more positive towards a policy when their own side puts it forward, there’s a good article here (hat tip to Paul Goodman at ConHome).

Finally, here’s some interesting bits and pieces from the YouGov daily polls. Following Eric Pickles instructions to councils to have less road signs and clutter, 43% of people agreed there were too many road signs on Britain’s roads, 10% too few and 37% that the balance was about right. (here). And finally, on THE BIG ISSUE of the last week, 84% of people said they though the cat-binning lady should be prosecuted for animal cruelty. (here).

The only poll I’m aware of tonight is the regular YouGov/Sunday Times figures at 10pm.

420 Responses to “Things you may have missed”

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  1. Slight typo Anthony. According to your wording, no-one supports public ownership of the Post Office.

    [Cheers Pete – corrected – AW]

  2. @AW
    I think the road signs issue should read 10% think to few. IMPO those who think to few must be non drivers.
    A picture in the DAILY TELEGRAPH the other day showed a junction “somewhere in London” the number of signs was astronomical and likely to cause an accident.

  3. Surely you mean “wholly in public ownership” and that 10% thought there were too few road signs.

    I am pleasantly surprised by the public’s views on sectarian education, but I suppose it may just be down the wording of the question. Does anyone know of other polls on the same issue?

  4. Cat in a wheelie bin? That’s a missed opportunity. I’m building a full sized catapult for getting rid of pests. Much more satisfying and you get a great cat noise Doppler effect going on too.

  5. Colin Green

    “you get a great cat noise Doppler effect going on too.”

    Is your preference for the sound of the cat approaching or leaving you? Or are you catholic in your tastes?

  6. howard

    i just wondered what you think about the present media practice of referring to coalition ministers and almost never including their party affiliation

    i find it very annoying, of course the big-wigs are well known but the junior ministers aren’t. maybe such info is uninteresting? but they could say…jim whatshisname coalition minister for the lib dems, ah! now i see the problem they have. how do they word it, not easy but it’s their job to keep us informed so they should get on and sort it

    after all how can one know when to agree with a policy if you don’t know who is proposing it

  7. One’s political affiliation can trump everything, including logic and common sense.

    Relly good artilce link Anthoy – thanks.

  8. Richard in Norway – Excellent point. I suppose a Tory press might want to maintain the idea of a Tory government.

    Sorry in advance to bore those who AREN’T interested in the Lab contest, but I thought others might like to know I attended a Movement for Change training session today. (Before anyone makes a snide comment, I’ve attended everything I can from ALL the leaders – meeting Ed Balls next week!)

    I really think whoever wins, it is a very good concept.

  9. ** As an amusing aside, I was interviewed by the Romanian press afterwards asking if I thought it was a “kind of revolution” !! Comrade Miliband eh? :lol:

  10. As we already know, approval ratings drop pretty quickly after a government is formed. This is especially true after the honeymoon period has ended. Obama’s were in free fall for a while but they have been more or less stable for quite some time. It is known that I think government’s claw back some of those losses as elections near.

    To illustrate Obama’s stabilisation of his approval ratings, I attach a link (see below). A little bit of context might help on the US stats. Polling on his healthcare reforms show 60% disaprove. People are similalry unimpressed with his handling of the economy. and yet his approval ratings are holding reasonably steady after the initial period of post-honeymoon decline. Blue/Yellow I think will experience something similar. I am trying to track Sarkozy’s down but cant. Merkel (post Opel & Greek procrastination fiascos) has been steadying in the polls.

    h ttp://

  11. Obama’s approval has dropped by around 20 points but he started high, mid 60s, so it’s still respectable at around mid 40s.
    DC’s government approval ratings on the other hand, started around where Obama’s has fallen to.

  12. Julian,

    What did the Uk gov’s start on c.6/5/10? I know they had a 57% approval on the 25/05/10…..


    A party with no leader?

    The Green Party in Victoria (Aus.) are contesting upcoming elections without one… at the national election Melbourne Greens did not have a leader…
    At the national poll, the Greens won Melbourne, their first lower house seat in a general election, with a 10.4 per cent swing, and across the state picked up 12 per cent of the primary vote and 14.2 per cent of Senate votes.

    Hmmm…. I wonder?

  13. @EOIN
    Don’t know what they started at but if they were that high, boy they’re been dropping really really fast. ;)

  14. Eoin, That’s fascinating!!!

  15. On the 14th of May the coalition’s approval ratings were 60%, disapproval just 33% (YouGov).
    Wow. That’s some change in just 3 months.

  16. YouGov; Con 41%, Lab 37%, LibDem 13%
    Government approval rating – 41% approve, 40% disapprove.

  17. Eoin

    Heard of Senator Dr Bob Brown head of the Parliamentary Greens in federal Australia? Not sure of your sub Leaders, but Oz Greens have had Brown has Head for many years. He is the spokesman for the Party across the country at all levels as well.

    Worth noting in Oz the Head of the Parliamentary Party is what matters; the head of the Party is someone else and they are much less important . Local state Heads unimportant.

    And yes, the winners in Oz were definitely the Greens, holding the balance of power in the Upper House and huge swings in Upper and Lower House. Worth noting Green preferences are hugely to labour.

  18. Something I missed was the SNP poll.

    The constituency vote showing them level with the SNP is not where the SNP would need to win to be the largest party. It may not gain them any new seats and if it does they may lose the same number on the list.

    The list vote question was surely asked and the answer not published. That could be because it was to good to be true, from which there could only be a slide into disappointment. Much more likely was the possibility that it was bad news for the SNP.

    I havesaid since 2007 that the Greens were robbed by AS for FM on the ballot paper, and their natural voters would return in 2011. To compensate for that, the SNP must take half as many list votes off Labour.

    They may well take a lot of list votes off the LibDems in the highlands butit would need to be hugely disproportionate to LibDem losses to other parties to gain them any seats.

    If nothing happens other than the Greens getting back half of what they lost last time, Labour will be the largest party.

    Then the fun starts. The Westminster connection, and campaign negativity will ensure that there is no coalition partner available to Labour other than the Greens and perhaps the Socialists. That wouldn’t be enough. An SNP-LibDem-Green coaliton might be an option.

    The Megrahi question on whether it was the right decision may have been suppressed, and I think the DK’s might be high.

    I was at a public meeting on Tuesday and the softball question to Kenny MacAskill was about whether he was considering going to America on holiday this year. It was deftly deflected by Alex Salmond who said that the American Senators had enough to do with their own Justice system.

    It was the only thing in the whole evening that got a significant reaction of any kind from the Audience.

    While there may be many who are less willing to be compasionate than Kenny MacAskill and many DK’s, there is also a body of opinion that thinks the Justice minister is paid (and paid very well) to take that sort of decision, and that if it seemed the right decision on the basis the evidence before him at the time, then it was the right decision even if it was the wrong one with hindsight.

    I could have told Tony Blair how (as George Roberson put it) how he could “see off the SNP” after devolution. Donald Dewar probably told him and he wasn’t listening. What he should have done is use the Home Rule parliament as the model for an English parliament and the reform of Westminster.

    It’s too late now.

    Instead I got the opportunity to tell Alex Salmond how I think he could win people over to independence.

    I’ll let you know if he takes my advice.

  19. for the Victorian Greens website

    It’s why I like AV voting; ‘minor ‘parties matter.

  20. Evidently GB did get us through the worst recession in living memory while minimising the loss of jobs, homes, businesses, and the services that people rely on.

    The Coalition are on a mission to prove that his approach was wrong on all counts.

    What’s not to approve?

  21. John B Dick

    “Instead I got the opportunity to tell Alex Salmond how I think he could win people over to independence.”

    I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that!

  22. Jack,

    Thanks for that. Yes I was being Victoria specific… it has its elections in November. Thanks for the link though.


    Some interesting polls from Japan (yes they’re next) if anyone is interested there is an AFP release…. (They are likely to stay left for another while).

  23. Education in Scotland is different.

    The faith schools debate is about whether Faith Schools (virtually all Roman Catholic) should be abolished because they engender football violence.

    The Scottish Parliament recently considered a petition from an 11 year old schoolboy who thought his RC school should teach him comparative religion.

    Sparsity of population means that over huge areas the state school is the only school and the debate is about threatened closure because of falling numbers.

    The poll seems to have picked up the right number of lapsed Catholics and Socialist atheists of whom there are plenty in the West.

  24. John B Dick

    RC schools in Scotland ARE “state schools” – and have been so since 1918.

    Having spent a working lifetime in “non-denominational” schools in Central Scotland (which generally continued to operate as “Presbyterian” schools), I have always been willing to countenance the end of separate Catholic schools – but only when the non-denom schools have their proper status as secular schools.

  25. @Julian,

    “Obama’s approval has dropped by around 20 points but he started high, mid 60s, so it’s still respectable at around mid 40s.
    DC’s government approval ratings on the other hand, started around where Obama’s has fallen to.”

    True, though they do only have a bipartite system in the US. That is why, I would imagine, approval ratings for governments (and leaders) there are generally likely to be higher there than here in the UK. In the UK, party support is more likely to be dispersed than split.

    “On the 14th of May the coalition’s approval ratings were 60%, disapproval just 33% (YouGov).
    Wow. That’s some change in just 3 months.”

    It’s to be expected really.

  26. “YouGov; Con 41%, Lab 37%, LibDem 13%”

    The Tory vote still holding up rather nicely then, which is perhaps surprising. I wouldn’t expect it to stay this way for too long though, what with the impending cuts and everything. The Tories will have assumed that a slump/collapse in the polls by 2012 was always on the cards, I would think.

  27. John B D,

    did you say there was a poll on faith schools? We tried integrated schools here. 38,000 bambinos in them. It is not a miracle cure that the US funding hoped it would be but the sentiment was nice.

    Labour Party NI is practically a single issue party- Integrated education is the issue. It is with irony that I note Murphy’s stance on it in Renfrewshire.

  28. Why haven’t voting intentions been updated on this site since 19th August

    [Because I’m a lazy bugger, I shall do it today – AW]

  29. OldNat

    I asked him why the SNP was missing the best argument for independence. I said that bundled with Independence you get a parliament fit for purpose.

    He confirmed that I was saying he should put out that argument, but didn’t say he would or wouldn’t, or that he thought it was good idea or not. Perhaps it was a genuinely fresh idea to him.

    There was then some discussion about the differences between the two parliaments. When I said that I had counted 34, he stopped trying to list them, but he must be in a better position than anyone (except Henry McLeish) to give the definitive answer.

    I also told him that I now thought that the reform of Westminster was Donald Dewar’s primary objective. and that he had explicitly said that it was a benefit of the HRP but I now think it must have been his No.1.

    I suggested it the differences between the two parliaments might be a Christmas party quiz question for office colleagues and I though he responded to that as if it might meet some need he was aware of.

    In a separate conversation with Richard Lochhead I urged him to calculate properly what I believe is a geographically skewed change in the SNP vote in the UK election, positive in the areas in which his department is most active. I pointed out that the SG webste listed him at one point as the minister with the geatest number of press exposure items and that virtually all were in local and trade press.

    I also said that

    the NHS employs about 4% of those in work;

    that people complain to friends and family about problems and frustrations at work, and the reverse may also be true if these problems are resolved;

    that NS is probably the health minister most admired within the service in either system in my time in the NHS and after (i.e. since Barbara Castle was in government and NS was in primary 1).

    that the NHS also has a trade press and it needs to find copy.

    He undertook to pass this on to NS on the journey back.

    I’m never in favour of lifting one stone to kill just one bird. If NS were to give an interview explaining the differences in the two systems, and what she has undone of NewLabour’s dafter obsessions, she could fill all the vacancies in hard to fill posts throughout Scotland within a month.

  30. John B Dick

    “If NS were to give an interview explaining the differences in the two systems, and what she has undone of NewLabour’s dafter obsessions, she could fill all the vacancies in hard to fill posts throughout Scotland within a month.”

    Thanks for letting me be the fly on the wall! I think you are right. While it is clearly in SLAB’s interests to pretend that there is a “British” NHS, I think the SNP have missed a major trick in not constantly describing the differences – not only now, but since long before 1948.

  31. Just read Alex Salmond’s press release (AFP). That is quite good positioning, quite early on. Clear, and decisive. I wondered what approach he would use to push his independence narrative. The route he has chosen is a smart one (ie. to avoid blue cuts). If there was ever a year where that might work, it is 2011. By 2015 Scots might ask ‘what cuts’. I wonder if DC sees the advantage to be had in creating this mini headache for Labour? Did I say mini- hell it could be a whopper.

    Sinn Fein pursued a strategy that I am beginning to see in the SNP. It goes something like this: People will be nervous about giving us a mandate, they’ll think we are a risk, inexperienced or not able administrators. Thus, ‘we’ must make good our first shot at it. If we do, then inexperience or risk will not be associated with us again.

    2007 was a bad Holyrood to win (RBS et al).
    2011’s narrative might just go SNP’s way.

    I think an awful lot hinges on the Labour manifesto. At least the SNP did them the favour of setting their stall out early.

  32. Eoin Clarke

    “Just read Alex Salmond’s press release (AFP).”

    Got a link? Being in Scotland, it isn’t always easy to get hold of SNP news – unless it’s from attacks!

  33. Eoin

    “Labour Party NI is practically a single issue party- Integrated education is the issue. It is with irony that I note Murphy’s stance on it in Renfrewshire.”

    He can get away with that because it is NI and not England. It is more difficult when they oppose the SNP on minimum alcohol pricing and then UK Labour adopts the same policy.


    You are of course right. Is the only faith school in Scotland the Jewish school then?

    It is said to be “state-supported” the head teacher isn’t Jewish or Scottish and about a third of the pupils on the falling school roll are muslim.

  34. OldNat

    Tis here…


    h ttp://

    Another 2 cracking articles (objective). Both Danny Alex related, the second one is better than the first.

    h ttp://

    h ttp://

  35. John B Dick

    In the English sense of the term “faith schools”, there are none.

    Latest figures for state schools which have a faith basis are 385 Catholic, one Jewish and three Episcopalian – all of these are, of course, open to pupils of any religion and none.

  36. Eoin Clarke

    Thanks. Just shows the benefits of good international relations! :-)

  37. John B,

    Thanks. I was referring to his stance on faithe schools in Scotland actually. He supports them. (went to one himself I believe).

  38. OldNat,

    I am up at the Giants Causeway tomorrow, I’ll chop my hand off and throw it over to you. :)

  39. Eoin Clarke

    I always like the fact that we both claim Finn mac Cumail as one of our own! In my “history”, he rests just 2 miles from the family home in the Black Isle – waiting to come back and rescue Scotland. I’m fed up waiting. I think we’ll have to do it by ourselves. :-)

  40. OldNat,

    He’s buried on Slieve Donard- didn’t ya know :P An interesting google for you if Gleann na Muice “Black Pig’s Dyke”.

  41. OldNat:

    ” I think the SNP have missed a major trick in not constantly describing the differences – not only now, but since long before 1948.”

    One of the differences is more money. Some more money is needed because of sparsity, but the morbidity used to justify it is disingenuous and not the reason it is there. In fact if the smoking overweight Glaswegian dies of a heart attack at 50, the NHS doesn’t have to pay for decades of treatment as it does for coffin dodgers like you and me.

    Briefly it’s this: Cholera x 3 – Loch Katrine (no expense spared and nothing but the best) – MOH sapiental authority enhanced – loadsamoney – community nursing for the poor paid for willingly on the rates (like clean water and sewage) by the middle class – charity voluntary hospitals – loadsamoney – burgesses ate and danced all winter in fund raising events – also what is now the RSNO chorus sang to raise substantial sums.

    No more cholera – drugs for TB – now geriatric beds – surplus beds called “geriatric assessment” with no ration for GA in England – bed reduction and the money’s still there – % growth.

    Deep at the bottom of it all is a forgotten memory that we are all in it together and clean water and hospitals are public services and a public right.

    There is more money now because there was more money in 1948. It was there in 1848 or soon after.

    Another difference is the reputation of Edinburgh as a place to train doctors and the huge number that pass through, many of them foreigners and a valuable export in an independent Scotland

    Student demand exceeds supply to the extent that they can be picky about taking only the best students and that has set up a virtuous circle generations ago.

    So thank you Burke and Hare for that.

    Plenty of money, high quality training, professional pride, an industry where there is job satisfaction from helping other people: you’d need to be really stupid to get a bad result despite all that.

    There are lot of stupid people around, and NHS top management has its share, but it’s just not enough to mess things up completely except in isolated pockets without help from the UK government.

    Managing the Scottish NHS isn’t difficult unless government makes it so.

  42. Apparently Danny Alexander has ruled out tax cuts for the middle class before the next election. It seems to me likely this might need to change in future if the coalition is hoping to survive beyond that. Another Falklands war or similar might not go so well a 2nd time around.

  43. John B Dick

    Some of that I knew, but not all of it – thanks.

    “Deep at the bottom of it all is a forgotten memory that we are all in it together”.

    That also seems to chime with the range of public health schemes in Scotland which preceded 1948, and were incorporated then. Not only the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, but the Emergency Hospital Service. As I understand it, doctors in Scotland voted for incorporation in the NHS, as opposed to their counterparts south of the Border.

  44. OldNat

    “In the English sense of the term “faith schools”, there are none.”

    It makes a nonsense of the Yougov poll doesn’t it? They should have excluded Scotland. I’m fed up being asked questions about devolved issues when they are probably asking about the NHS in England. I’ve started to answer DK when it isn’t clear.

    Scottish Labour has a large West of Scotland working class Catholic element, many of recent Irish origin.

    [Given ICM conducted it, it doesn’t have much baring upon the YouGov poll! – AW]

  45. OldNat

    I am old enough for one of my earliest memories to be being ill before the NHS. I have told my doctor, in the presence of my wife, that I would rather die on an NHS waiting list than accept private treatment.

    You are right about 1948. Officialy the doctors in Scotland sat on the fence a bit. but it was as you say. The young CA who was the manager of Glasgow Royal Infirmary then was working for a monthly net salary less than his tax deduction the month after national pay rates came into effect. (Tax rates peaked around then of course.)

    I have met people on the lower grades such as theatre porters and wages clerks who recognised that part of their employment package was that they need not be ashamed of the kind of work they do or of their employer.

  46. I thought the YouGov daily tracker might have started to detect a bit of bubble for the Tories as a result of the Cameron baby effect. Seemingly not, as the party ratings appear to remain remarkably static. This interests me because, in this one respect, I rather agree with my bete noire on these pages, Roland Haines, when he argues that few people are really interested in politics and and are much more likely to be influenced by trivia and ephemery. Does David Milliband look like a “geek”, how nice does Samantha Cameron’s dress look, did Clegg make good eye contact in the TV debates etc etc etc. I always thought that the research they did in the US following the Bush v Gore presidential race was fascinating when they found that a key factor in Bush’s narrow win was that a majority of voters felt that he was “the character they’d prefer to go out for a drink with”. Terrifying, isnt it, but maybe, on this very early polling evidence from YouGov, we’re entering more serious and profound political times in this country.

    That said, I may be completely wrong, and Roland absolutely right, and we’ll soon see a surge for the Tories when Cameron’s baby photos get the full treatment in the adoring media. If so, it might be time for all us political anoraks on these pages to really despair. Game set and match to the PR men and the spin doctors (if it isn’t already!).

  47. Fascinating article on Alex Salmond…

    If Scotland goes, NI would most likely follow. Our ‘unionists’ in N I are mostly of Scottish heritage. It would only take about 1/6th of them to change their mind as a result of Scotland’s departure.

    h ttp://

  48. nick H

    I always thought that the research they did in the US following the Bush v Gore presidential race was fascinating when they found that a key factor in Bush’s narrow win was that a majority of voters felt that he was “the character they’d prefer to go out for a drink with”.

    yes i’ve always thought that his gaffe’s were deliberate, a sort of “i’m just like you” PR angle

  49. h

    I know we can draw little from these, but it IS interesting to note (I’ve read it in other by-election results too) that far from the Libs suffering at the hands of the Tories it is the other way round.

  50. John Pugh is a Liverpool Mp for the LDs, he critically engages with the coalition in an objective manner and I always find his views the most worth listening to of any Lib. This link is a good example of it…

    ht tp://

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