During the day yesterday YouGov asked people for their first reactions to the defence cuts – so this was largely conducted before David Cameron’s formal announcement, but after almost the whole contents had been announced in the morning newspapers.

A majority thought that the size of the defence cuts were either appropriate (38%) or too small (13%), with 37% saying they went too far. The details of the cuts however met with more negative reactions. 48% of respondents thought the reduction in troop numbers was too large, with only 28% thinking they were acceptable.

The most controversial decision in the review, scrapping the Harrier Jet early and leaving Britain’s aircraft carriers without fighter planes until around 2020, was rejected by most respondents. 60% thought leaving carriers without fighters was unnacceptable, 23% that it was an acceptable cut until 2020.

The most interesting question there though was who people thought was to blame. 30% said the coalition and 34% said the last Labour government. Compare that to the regular YouGov tracker on who people blame the cuts in general, which is still finding 48% blaming Labour the most and only 18% blaming the coalition most. My suspicion is that this is because people blame the last Labour government when it is just generic cuts, but once specific cuts are announced they may begin to apportion more of the blame more upon the present government as they are the ones who chose to make these particular cuts.

Voting intention was CON 42%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%.

286 Responses to “First reactions to the defence cuts”

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  1. Anthony,

    On re-read, it apears to be a YouGov poll.

  2. @garryK – “I don’t think they were ever about revenue raising. ”

    Oddly enough, if they were, it would make me support them even more. I just can’t see the issue with complaints about them being revenue raisers first and foremost.

    ‘Government raises revenue from people who break law’ would be a Daily Mail headline writres dream, but somehow they get very sniffy about this in when it comes to speed camera’s.

    I would go further. I would love to see a justice system that promotes full cost recovery for all criminal offences where there has been a conviction. The full costs of damage, police action, court and prison process should be laid at the door of the villains.

    Howls of civil liberties protests. Would I care? Not much. Just don’t do the crime.

    [PS – I got done by a speed camera when driving slightly over the limit on an unfamiliar road. My fault, no complaints, and since then I have been a much more attentive and safer driver].

  3. The full details of the YouGov Scottish poll are included below (fieldwork pre-CSR).


    Labour 40 (+1%)
    SNP 34 (+5%)
    Conservatives 14 (-2%)
    Lib Dems 8 (-3%)

    • (REGIONAL)
    Labour 36 (0%)
    SNP 31 (+5%)
    Conservatives 15 (0%)
    Lib Dems 8 (-4%)

    The biggest pieces of news are as follows:

    1. SNP make gain at LD expense, particularly in the regions.
    2. Greens are now 6% in the regional vote, which is just 2% behind LDs. Potentially a race on to beat yellows into 5th place in the regional vote.
    3. A further sub-plot is that blue losing out in the constituency vote.

  4. Folks,

    Ignore those figures, the blasted Scotsman has done it again. It’s put the wrong figures in their newspapers. The correct figures are up on the YG site. Which if anyone else wnats to disect they are very welcome. IF they aint up when I get back, then I’ll do a repost.

  5. Re Scotland YouGov: The figures above are correct for the constituency and for the regional votes. So the three main conclusions still stand.

    • In addition YG also included a headline voting intention (Westminster). The results were as follows [including changes from May G/E]:
    Labour 44% (+2%)
    SNP 26% (+6%)
    Libs 7% (-12%)
    Cons 18 % (+1%)
    • The main conclusion to draw from that is in a manner akin to Wales, it is the nationalist party that is benefitting the most from LDs coalition with Blue. The double digit losses since May in the headline, fit with the losses reported for YouGov Wales.

  6. Another interesting snippet from the CSR. In June, Osborne said he wasn’t going to bury stuff in the small print.

    Yesterday he didn’t mention the Carbon Reduction Scheme (CRC) but buried in the small print is a significant change. The scheme (introduced by Ed Milliband) will charge medium size energy consumers £12/tonne for CO2 emissions, with the original plan being to redistribute this back to those participants who reduced their consumption.

    The Treasury documents now show that Osborne will now keep this money himself – amounting to a £1B pa additional tax on businesses. Business leaders aren’t happy (it will amount to around 10% on fuel bills if your energy bills are around £1m pa) so it’s quite a hit.

    I think we can also bury the idea that Osborne is delivering statements in an open and honest way – hiding a new £1B tax in the small print is a move Godon Brown would have been proud of.

  7. The End of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland?

    There is now increasing evidence that the LDs are all but finished in Scotland as a political force. YG’s political tracker from 2005 covers the LD % in the headline (Westminster), Constituency, and Regional (list) vote. In all three categories the LDs are setting new records for the depths they have sunk to in VI polls.

    1. Westminster their 7% in the recent poll is a full 4% below their previous worse performance.
    2. In the regional LDs 8% is a full 3% below their previous worse performance.
    3. In the constituency vote the LDs 8% is a full 3% below their previous worse.
    • That their previous worse performance occurred so recently means in effect that the collapse in most cases is even bigger that the 3-4% below the threshold.

    • Perhaps worse of all, Scotland used to be a growth area for LD support. In May 2005 Charles Kennedy’s leadership saw the party attract 23% of the Scottish vote in the Westminster election. With LD figures of 7%, and the Greens climbing to 6% (regional), are we seeing the eclipse of the Liberal Democrats?

  8. Anyone got any ideas what the 490,000 who are due to lose their jobs are going to do ?

    I didnt see the Chancellor say where any new jobs are coming from to plug the gap. Presumably they will just add to the growing benefits class we have in this country.

    when this starts going wrong for the govt I can’t see either the Tories or their chums in yellow being elected for years to come.

  9. @Alec
    it just goes to show the ol’ Max Headroom saying is true ” you can always tell when a politican is lying… his lips move”

    in discussion with a colleague today, we were trying to identify what these cuts would mean to us and our client base. The feeling that i am getting at the moment is that in the short term, certain projects (including ours) will be cut but in in the southwest we have options.

    I am caused by recent discussion with Eoin to think of the north and particularly the northeast where there is a strong public sector employment base and of course they will be much harder hit up there. The only hope i feel would be to bring pressure on the banks to ensure lending again to new business growth. This IMO would head north as that is where there is a cheap labour market and cheap land.

  10. This YouGov shows two things.

    One we could be witnessing the elimination of the Libs as a poltical force for a generation. If this carries through to the Holyrood poll then it will mean big strains on the coalition.

    Two the NATS are still in the running. Four years into Government and Salmond’s team are more popular than at the last election.

    Pretty impressive.

  11. Ex Pat,
    Nationalist thinking (I used to be one) goes as follows: The more the public get to see of them acting responsibly in government, the less they fear independance. Some nationalist thinking would state the colonial oppressors deflated the indigenous people’s confidence in its own ability to govern, that much, that people fear independance because of a perceived inability to govern themselves.

    If we translate that into the Scottish scenario, we are certainly seeing signs of it. I have been of the opinion for soem time that Labour & SNP will see gains at Holyrood’s elections. I suspect we a re heading towards an era of two party politics in Scotland. It will be a straight shoot out between populist leftism & old fashioned social democracy.

    Where this leaves SNP hopes for independance, I have absolutely no idea.

  12. Eoin,

    Are you talking about LD support across all of Scotland?

    Some of the LD seats in Scotland are some what ‘oddball’ (no offence meant).

    I would have thought that Ross and Skye, and Orkneys and Shetland would remain.

    I think that CKs seat will safe until he steps down, as he seems to have a strong personal vote. If the seat was fought with a new Candidate, it may be much tighter.

  13. Garry K,

    Between seat reduction sand yellow fall back, I see blue and red gain in these seats. Two of them could become SNP/Lab/Yellow three ways, but even then I see yellow losing out.

    1. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
    2. Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine
    3. Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross
    4. Argyll & Bute
    5. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
    6. Edinburgh West
    7. Dunbartonshire East

  14. GArry K,

    apols. for 1 & 5 replication :(

  15. @Eoin
    Curiously enough, the political landscape of Scotland becomes more and more similar to the one of Catalonia. There also, there are two main parties, the Socialist (PSC), which is a branch of (but not completely dependent on) the Spanish PSOE, and the local CiU (Convergencia i Unio = Convergence and Union), of center-right tendency. For the upcoming (Nov. 28) the polls indicate that the left-wing allies of PSC will loose ground (especially the leftist independentist ERC, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), and CiU will be by far the first party, with PSC remaining second, whilst the national center-right, the Popular Party, remains marginal, around 10% and with no influence on government formation. In other words, if PSC=Labour, CiU=SNP (albeit of different orientation on left-right axis) and PP=Tory, we have a very similar situation, which is nowhere else to be found in Europe

  16. Eoin,

    A few weeks ago I listed the LD marginal seats on a spreadsheet, and those long Scottish seat names and my typing are not a good mix.

    I hate to be the returning officer in Inverness…

    I have Gordon requiring a 8%swing for Labour to take it. Both Labour and SNP are very close here.

    I guess Malcom Bruce is one one of those lovely, warm LD MPs. I note a certain Mr Barney Crockett came third…..

  17. Virgilio ,

    Thanks for that. The SNP, I guess, would class themselves a little bit more ot the left than Gavarró’s crowd. But yes, the comparison is a good one. How is the Green aprty doing in Catalonia? It did well last time out, I wonder if it is consolidating?

    The Irish Labour Party is making good strides in the ROI polls at the minute. Unfortunately any coalition they enter into will take them back to the right (Fine Gael).

  18. Garry K,

    You are working, understandably, on the Holyrood constituencies… do you have a link I can view them. The 6 I listed were Westminster.

  19. “Anyone got any ideas what the 490,000 who are due to lose their jobs are going to do ?”

    THis figure equates to the 8% of total Public Sector employees who leave voluntarily each year.

    Any ideas where they go Steve ?

  20. @Eoin
    In fact the Greens are stable, just below the 10% mark, but they will be in opposition because of the diminishing of PSC and ERC vote (they actually form the so-called tripartit). To be more precise, the Iniciativa Catalunya Verde is in electoral alliance with Esquerra Unida i Alternativa (United and Alternative Left), a branch of the national Izquerda Unida (United Left). So the ICV-EUIA is rather similar to a hypothetical alliance between Scottish Greens and Scottish Socialists and is considered to be “moderately Catalanist” (CiU and ERC= resolute Catalanists of center-right and radical left respectively, PP= resolute “Espaniolists”, and PSC somewhere in the middle). Another interesting development in Spain is the agreement between governing Socialists of L.R. Zapatero and the Basque Nationalist Party PNV to vote for the Budget next month (PSOE is 7 seats short of overall majority in Parliament) in exchange of extended financial prerogatives for Basque Government, despite the fact that the PNV is the main opposition to the Socialst First Minister (Lehendakari) of Basque Country (Pais Vasco/Euskadi) Patxi Lopez, who leads a minority government supported (with no participation) by the Conservatives of PP.

  21. Colin/Steve,

    100-120,000 retire every year. It is absorbable, provided with get growth in the private. 300,000 vacancies arose in the last 90 days (private sector) so there is tentaitve signs it is possible. When Howe acheived growth after his ’81 budget (3% p.a.) Unemployment continued to rise for 6 years back then. That gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘lag’. Statiticians are watching and there are no hiding places. The proof of the pie will very soon be in the eating. Let’s hope GO is right, and deficit deniers like my good self are wrong. Because if he aint, we’re all in it.

  22. Eoin,

    My data for this seat is from Wikipedia:

    htt p://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_%28UK_Parliament_constituency%29#Election_results.

    It is the Westmonster seat.

    I actually got most of my data from the BBC 2010 Election results page and typed them into a spreadsheet manually.

    Gordon is interstesting (2010 result)

    LD 36% -9.0%
    SNP 22.2 +6.2%
    Lab 20.1% -0.1% Our Barney :-)
    Con 18.7% +1.1%
    Green 1.5% +1.5%
    BNP 1.4% +1.4%

    I think the lost LD vote will probably fragment and Leave LD safe, unless people vote very tactically.

  23. Steve

    “I didnt see the Chancellor say where any new jobs are coming from to plug the gap. ”

    The Private Sector created 175k new jobs in the last quarter.

    The Private Sector employs four times as many people as the PUblic Sector-and that’s after an administration whic increase the Public Sector payroll by 20%-over 800k additional jobs.

    A CBI economist on tv has just said that the Public Sector has skewed the skills availability. The Private Sector cannot fill some of it’s current vacancies.

    Ultimately, UK can only have sustainable public finances, and all the services which it pays for, if the Private Sector generates the tax revenues to pay for it.

    Like the thread which runs through most of the Coalitions policies-this is a neccessary precursor to rebalancing the UK economy.

    It goes with rebalancing Primary & Secondary education with supply side & academic standards reform , UNiversity education prioritising Science, Technology & Mathematics, Welfare reform focussing on making work pay.

    All of these policies will feed into private sector expansion & job creation.

    That is the plan.

    Have faith :-)

  24. Just dropped in to see what reaction there might be to defence cuts, but most of this discussion is about cuts generally.So was there information about how defence cuts were received?

    Some accusations have flown about that these cuts were based on picking a number and then cutting to it rather than a considered view of defence needs. I dont really agree. The carrier policy seems to lead to no conclusion except that as we are now going to manage without one for 5 years, we might as well do without for 50. Since the matter will be reviewed when the ships actually exist there can be no real decision now, but this does seem to be the conclusion. Plus cuts in fleet numbers, which once again makes carriers less and less viable as they only make any sense in the context of a fleet of other specialist ships. It seems nonsense to me for the UK to be building carriers just to work together with an american fleet when they already have more bigger and better ones. That only leaves a cooperative effort to create a European fleet. Does Europe need a fleet, or is it even capable of operating a joint fleet? Carriers are to project air power at a distance, so only make sense for operations overseas. Who are we going to invade?

    SO how does a conservative decision to finally abandon any pretensions of a world power fleet go across? It would be ironic but such a truism that this conservative government be known as the point the RN finally ceased to be a world fleet but accepted the role of coastal defence.

  25. @Don’t tell em Pike – Max Headroom – now that takes me back….

    @Steve – there is (or has been) plenty of private sector recruitment in the first part of this year, but it is heavily geared to part time posts and much of was due to previous stimulus measures that are now being withdrawn. Half a million jobs isn’t much to create in 4 years, but…..

    There are three issues I think are relevant here.

    Firstly, there have been comparisons with the early 1990’s when we achieved 3%+ annual growth coming out of the recession. However, that was largely due to Black Wednesday and a massive overnight currency devaluation that was unique to the UK. We won’t have that this time.

    Second, historically growth out of conventional recessions tends to be pretty strong, but not when he recession was caused by a major financial shock. The more traditional inflation related busts were relatively quick to turn around when interest rates were cuts and the taps were turned back on. After the financial collapse the taps are full on but there is no credit in the tank.

    Finally, the theoretical link between reduced state spending and increased private sector output is the idea that private enterprise can allocate resources more efficienctly. Diverting resources from state to private means (in theory) better productivity and therefore more economic activity. This probably works up to a point where spending cuts are returned in the way of tax cuts. While this will happen over the long term in the current scenario, because we are paying off debt the spending cuts won’t reappear as lower taxes, so the philosophical case suggesting faster growth with privately distributed assets is bogus, at least over the next 5 years. On the plus side, lower deficits should mean lower interest rates for longer but this might not mean much – see point 2.

    In summary, what does this all mean?

    I don’t know.

  26. “like removing child benefits”

    Child Benefit hasn’t been removed.

  27. @Steve

    ‘Anyone got any ideas what the 490,000 who are due to lose their jobs are going to do ?’

    The second quarter figures show that public sector employment fell 22k to 6.05m. The private sector employment rose by 308k. This compares with 40k per quarter from the CSR for public sector job losses forecast over the next four years. The private sector is about four times the size of the public sector and is forecast to more than cover the job losses.

    This will require a shift of the workforce from public to private. There is an 8% turnover rate in the public sector as it is.

    If you average the 6m public sector employees over a 50 yr age range then we can expect 120k to retire every year i.e 480k over 4 years. Obviously there is a similar number of entrants to the job market who would have taken their jobs. The problem is finding jobs for the new people and it is seems that the private sector is capable of that. Whether it can/does deliver is a different question. Whether it can match the workers with the jobs based on skills and location is an even tougher question. The answer to these two will IMHO determine the outcome of the next election.

  28. @john Murphy – “To cover the bankruptcy of their proposals the coalition whips up storms of……..”

    It didn’t have much to do with polls but I was enjoying a rattling yarn there, until Anthony’s stormtrooper brigade of non partisan enforcers presumably tracked you down, kicked your door in and hauled you off mid flow.

  29. I have concerns about the difficulty of getting people out of unemployment.

    Many of the long term unemployed in the older traditional parts of West Yorkshire where I live are in a difficult position. The local economy is not thriving at all, so I do not see a big surge in the private sector happening here. The cuts will just reduce the spending power of many people, so where will the jobs come from?

    The jobs section of the local paper is very small. The long term unemployed have been that long out of the jobs market, they need a serious amount of intensive work to get their skills levels and confidence to where they need to be. Trickling down are much better qualified people taking a lesser job, as that is all that is available at the moment. This squeezes the long term unemployed even more.

    On top of this, due to a reliance on older, heavy industries in the past, there is a pool of people their forties and fifties with health problems.(Please note that the effect of working decades in heavy industry creates real problems for people in later life.)

    Improving the private sector locally and creating real, quality jobs that pay a living wage will be very hard. Without major support (of which I have heard no convincing plan of) this marginalised group will drift further away from the world of work.

  30. @ Colin

    As has been explained the 490,000 job losses in the public sector are over and above natural retirements.

  31. Re: 500,000 jobs.

    We do not have very long at all to wait to find out whether GO was correct/incorrect. i wish him well, and hope he is correct. If we get growth but unemployment then that is not worth it. Growth for whom? Real growth is families up and down the country having security to build/grow their future.

    Capitalists measure growth without the human face, I think it is where they go wrong.

    But in fairness 308K private sector jobs were created in the last 90 days. If that keeps up, perhaps capitalists and humanists alike can win.

  32. XIBY

    “As has been explained the 490,000 job losses in the public sector are over and above natural retirements.”

    I was refering to “turnover”-leavers/joiners-not retirements.

    Turnover for LA’s is has been around 10% pa.

  33. It seems to me that we’re not really talking about needing to find 490,000 new jobs for existing public sector workers, we’re talking about finding 490,000 new jobs for people coming into the labour market who would have gone into those public service jobs and now can’t.

    There will be a lot of redundancies, but they will be a small proportion of the total posts shed. Police forces certainly aren’t talking about making officers redundant (which they’d need new legislation to be able to do). Just forcing officers to retire on the dot when they reach 30 years service, when many used to carry on for a few years if they are willing and working well.

  34. Barney,

    Procurement: = construction

    What did reds do about these?

    h ttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/Divis_tower_falls_road_belfast.jpg

  35. @NeilA

    “Police forces certainly aren’t talking about making officers redundant (which they’d need new legislation to be able to do)”

    A private members bill got through its first hurdle in Parliament this week.

    A blue member was sponsoring it and it got a lot of support on that side of the House.

    The bills aim is to change the law so that Police Officers can be made compulsorily redundant…..

  36. Wonder if the Tories will make a decent recovery in Scotland any time soon..

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