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”

1 3 4 5 6
  1. I can live with the defence cuts. I think we need a sabbatical from invading places anyway. But the justice cuts, in the absence of any actual reform, are a bad idea.

    The courts are bursting, as are the prisons. A reduction in the number of cases being dealt with, and the sentences imposed for them, will simply mean a whole lot of justice not being done. Ultimately that hurts poor people just as surely as cutting benefits or increasing VAT.

  2. Sorry Howard.. I couldn’t resist it….

  3. @ Richard

    The conservatives don’t exactly have a stunning record on the economy either.

    As for the double-dip debate – it depends what you believe. Some say that we never had a recovery from the Great Recession and that we are, in fact, just in the Great Depression Mark II.

  4. Ken,

    You lot got rid of the old and tired image… you have even been creeping up the ‘heart in the right place’ charts…. Give a dog a bad name, and it doesn’t stick. That’s what PM debates etc.. are for? ;)

  5. Howard

    I don’t see what your statistics about Germany have to do with the estimation of how well GO’s statement will go down with voters.

    Its very relevant,Labour’s mantra now & from the start was,its a global recession,well yes,we still have the highest deficit in the G20 though.

    This deficit is Labour’s deficit,the evidence is stark.Labour say its the contraction in the economy that caused the record deficit,the evidence alluded to by me,with my comparison to Germany says otherwise.

    If we had a 5% deficit,we wouldn’t have to be making massive cuts for a start.

  6. Neil A,

    You will know this better than most… but the largest growth sector in the UK economy is now the black market. The are openly selling in city centres etc.. again.. dodgy fast foot outlets, bootleggers, copyright infringers… it is all back on in a big way (not that I am suggesting it went away). But it seems (and this i sonly anecdotal) that crime is less derided (petty crime at least) when it is a blue gov. in power…

    Reds do zero tolerance they get a pat on the back for being tough

    Blue do zero tolerance, and it is the repressive arm of the state back in full swing.

  7. is there a yougov?

  8. @Eoin,

    To me the black market is largely a revenue matter. Most of the crimes going through the system have “real victims”. There is nothing quite so tragic as a person suffering at someone else’s hands and then suffering again from a (preventable) lack of redress.

    I always think of the Ultimate Game behaviour experiment. People would rather lose out financially than suffer from injustice.

  9. Richard
    I could have put your last post in a Harry Enfield Tory Boy script (look back at them) and we would have fallen about laughing.

    ‘No Mother you see…..’.

  10. Howard


  11. @Éoin………..I suppose your sense of natural justice enables you to assume that the guilty should be granted a fresh start following rehabilitation, so be it. I am reluctant to trust their remorse, but then of course I’m a proud member of the party that took 13 yrs to rehabilitate itself. :-)

  12. Latest YouGov/Sun figures in first poll since George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review 20th Oct 2010;

    CON 41%, LAB 39%, LD 11%;


  13. Ken,

    Criminals (neil will hate me for this) fall into two categories. Crime against a human. Crime against property.

    71% of crime is against propoerty (not really crime in my view). It is moslty carried out by 19yr olds in groups in urban areas. (male). the same characters in the mid 30s commit crime in significantly lower numbers when they are older…. why? stakeholder society: they may hae children, job, wife, home.

    Thus crime among this category, and against proporty is a symptom of the failigns of society. that’s my take after a significant amount of research and a lot of experience at dealing with street crime in my area.

  14. @Éoin………..My previous post of course referred to your 9-55 post, Labour’s rehab.

  15. @Éoin………your 10-11 post, I bow to your superior knowledge.

  16. Howard

    Q:One thing nobody ends up with after a Labour Government?


  17. To me, the CSR is beginning to look decidedly messy. Apart from the reliance on the mythical efficiency savings, the fact that the charts in the CSR itself show the bottom 10% of earners will be the second hardest hit group and it’s now clear that the package is highly regressive, I’ve also picked up this minor detail on the environmental side:

    “The efficiency of Feed-In Tariffs will be improved at the next formal review, rebalancing them in favour of more cost effective carbon abatement technologies. This will save £40 million in 2014-15.”

    This is fine, except the Feed in Tariff payments are nothing to do with government spending – the money comes from a levy on the energy supply industry. They might ‘save’ £40m but it will not be from the deficit – some French power companies will have a little more for their shareholders.

    It’s an extremely minor detail, but it does make me wonder about the quality of the document and adds to my doubts that the numbers will actually mean anything in the cold light of day.

  18. Ken/Richard
    Over the years, the Tories have had their fair share of real or perceived economic incompetence in the polls too.
    What is true, however, is that economic competence is a key indicator of electoral success.
    Labour lost the 1992 election. In that year, Labour were behind the Conservatives in the polls on the specific question of economic competence.
    Labour won the 1997 election. In that year, Labour were ahead of the Conservatives in the polls on the specific question of economic competence (wround +14%).
    Labour won again in the following elections and were also ahead on economic competence until 2010 when they lost. Lo and behold, they were behind the Tories again on the question of economic competence (around -10% I seem to remember).

  19. 41:39:11…………Phew !!!

  20. @Eoin,

    I could never hate you! I don’t disagree about the categories. There are plenty of “money” criminals (drug dealers, brothel-keepers, fraudsters) whom I genuinely like. But your 71% figure indicates to me that you are placing certain crimes in the wrong category. Burglary, theft-person etc are crimes against humans, not property. Even a lot of what I would count as property crime has a terrible effect on the victim.

    A poor working woman who needs her 8 year old Ford Fiesta for work and child-carrying but can only afford Third Party Only insurance can be devastated by a joyrider or a vandal.

    And my personal belief is that the reason most criminals are young is because the primary motivation for crime is thrill-seeking, rather than drug-taking. Often the two overlap, because the sort of self-absorbed yob that steals cars or robs people “for a laugh” is extremely likely to take drugs as well.

    People stop committing crimes in their 30s mainly because it’s just not their idea of fun any more.

  21. A few days ago i expressed great concern about the proposed defence cuts. However, when I listened very carefully to what the Prime Minister said yesterday when he made the annoucement. I thought he did very well in explaining the cuts and the cuts were not as bad as had been intimated. I am still not convinced about leaving the carriers without jets for a decade. However, so long as they have done their homework and ensured that the Falklands are adequately protected and both new carriers will be kept for the long term, then I can live with it.

    Absolutely delighted with todays Comprehensive Spending Review announcement. George Osborne got it spot on. The culling of what was a bloated public sector should get the economy right back on track. I was especially delighted by the announcement that funding of the police will be cut back by 20%. The Coalition have already taken several steps to dismantle Labour’s big brother Police state (e.g. by removing unfettered Stop & search (reducing the powers to common sense levels), the removal of funding for speed camera’s). This will help finish the job. This is great day for hard pressed motorists who for too long have been targeted by the pests as a source of revenue. Today, the Police got their comeuppance and its no more than they deserved. They need now to focus upon regaining public respect and trust. That means they need to start focusing upon real crimes (not imaginary ones that exist only in the paranoid minds of political correctness freaks) and it means they need to stop viewing motorists as a source a revenue. Put it this way, when a member of my family was burgled, they did absolutely nothing. Thats because there far too busy targeting innocent motorists to do anything about it.

    My message to the Government is keep the good work up and lets see the closure of more pointless and expensive quango’s

  22. Ignore that poll for CSR impact.

    A minimum of 85% of the respondents could not have even seen it.

  23. YouGov themselves seem to disagree- its a copy and paste from their own website :-)

  24. @JamesW,

    Your caricature of the police is laughable. You’re right about the response to burglaries, but we honestly don’t spend our time chasing motorists. We barely touch them, frankly, that’s what cameras are for (not actually anything to do with the police).

    There is plenty of scope for cutting 20% from police budgets, mainly by abandoning PCSOs, scrapping half of the posts above Inspector (including the entire Chief Inspector and Chief Superintendant ranks), planning deployments better (to avoid overtime payments) and generally ensuring that everyone working for the police feels obliged to work hard all day. Sadly that would all take decent leadership by people who know what they’re talking about. The police simply doesn’t have that.

  25. Neil A,

    I am reluctanlty letting at least two cats out of the bag.

    1. Crime I have studied and observed for more than 15 years, so I have a passion for it.

    2. My motiation is actually gendered but it was once a cummunity activist angle.

    A socialist will always palce a higher categorisation on the property definition. A few scholars guide my thinking on it Foucault is at the top of the list. But the guys you would get the most out of are doleschal and klapmuts. If you google them their work in the field is prodigious. Tis a pity there was not sub-thread option to discuss these matters.

  26. @JamesW – you’re not a motorist who has been caught speeding by any chance?

  27. Amid the welter of PPB’s here tonight, I looked up a few more newspaper headlines and the Sun does not even mention the CSR (except as a strapline to its leader under the one about the giant piranha fish.
    The Mirror was also fixated on getting you to turn to the back page.

    The Mail is worried about pensions (so what’s new).

    I did get a bit fed up with all this corny trash and that is the feature of our country that most depresses me, our ignorance.

    However, as Virgilio will point out, we don’t have a growing neo fascist movement, so it can’t all be bad.

  28. @Éoin………I’m having the temporary plaster cast taken off my leg tomorrow, I’ve had 3 days of frustration….don’t spoil my fun…… 41:39:11…phew !!!

  29. Ken,

    YG poll from 16:00 hours to 16:00 hours daily. Tonight’s poll had 2.5hours of a window in which panle respondents had a chance to take in CSR. You will not get the impact until Sunday. Een a chunk of Thurs crew will not have seen / read it.

  30. JamesW,

    It always makes me laugh when people complain about speed cameras.

    I don’t think they were ever about revenue raising. We have laws (I’m sure Neil A will agree here), and people who break the speed limit are breaking the law. Most drivers over-estimate their ability and under-estimate the risk their speed is to others.

    I have a clean licence. Why? I obey the speed limit. It’s very, very simple. I strongly suspect most people who don’t like speed cameras just want an excuse to break the law. People are quite happy to see crimes that are generally committed by poorer people punished to the nth degree, but when middle class people get caught, they don’t like it.

    BTW, these comments are not personally against you ;-)

  31. @Howard

    “I did get a bit fed up with all this corny trash and that is the feature of our country that most depresses me, our ignorance.”

    Don’t worry and extended Newsnight now to give you hope :-)

  32. @ Howard

    “However, as Virgilio will point out, we don’t have a growing neo fascist movement, so it can’t all be bad.”

    Yet — The United Kingdom Independence Nationalist Party FTW!

  33. @Eoin,

    At the risk of hijacking this thread…. I have been a policeman 21 years and have had a deep interest in crime for professional reasons. Prior to that, I grew up in a children’s home in London. I committed dozens of crimes myself before I hit my teens, and my best friend has a conviction for GBH on a policeman that he picked up when he was 18 (and incidentally received a non-custodial sentence for, despite being black and living under a Tory government..)

    I don’t have all that much faith in “crime academics”. Not because I am anti-academic, more because what I’ve seen of their analysis doesn’t bear up to scrutiny. I attended a course on Sex Offender programs at the Prison Service College about 8 years ago. They were quoting re-offending rates for people who went on the program versus those who didn’t. I very calmly asked about the criteria for joining the program, and then pointed out that as these criteria would exclude 90% of the worst and most persistent offenders, the selection process itself would account for the difference without anyone attending the program at all. Noone seemed to follow what I was saying. Idiots the lot of them.

  34. Neil A

    Don’t worry about your child evil past. If anyone ever arrested me, I would want it to be you.

  35. Neil A,

    We won’t hijack the thread we’ll bore the life out of others. I grew up in North St Flats in Newry. the four most prevelant youngsters in my life were Venables and Thompsonesque in their zeitgeist and disposition. Between the four of them there is more than a dozen ‘serious’ crimes – two murders, one suicide. The flats, thankfully, hae since been demolished. Academia can be deatched (and the guys you describe certainly are) but when you have the benefit of both paradigms, you should be able to pick the best bits.

    Regards reoffending rates of sex offenders, is it true that it has the loest reoffendng rate of all crimes?

  36. And I’d want Eoin to rehabiliate me, but i think im am past repair.

  37. Whoops forgot spell check not drunk, honest guv!

  38. Neil A,

    I put my reply on a different thread for you. Sensible I think.


    Id do a good job :)

  39. Small incident last night: Speeding hit-and-run van driver wrote off/damaged five cars parked in the street outside my house.
    Police arrived within minutes and set everything to rights, including collecting the information that will be vital for insurance claims.
    The response from our marvelously efficient private sector insurance industry… slightly underwhelming in comparision.

  40. @Eoin,

    I don’t know the relative reoffending rates for sex offenders vs other offenders. I think it partly depends on the “sex offence”. Those who download images tend to reoffend without hesitation, frequently being caught a second time before even coming to trial for the first capture. The degree of monitoring may help to keep “real world” re-offending less likely however. My first ever court case for a child related sex case was in 1995 and the defendant was convicted after pleading Not Guilty. He had 15 previous sexual offences convictions, 10 of them for abuse of children. He got three years for my case and was out in less than 18 months. It was my baptism to the world of Crime and Punishment. Of course there was very little monitoring of offenders in those days.

  41. It’s a real problem finding out what “works” in criminology. There’s a resistance on the part of the Courts, police, etc to allocating a particular course of action for a criminal at random. This is partly because of a feeling of justice (though, in cases where different punishments are being trialed, what gets awarded is often pretty random anyway). It’s also because those involved feel that their professional judgement knows what is best in each circumstance.

    Of course similar attitudes prevailed until very recently about, for example, surgical techniques. When they start to be looked at properly with random trials, all sorts of “tried and tested” wisdom was shown to be neither tested nor wise. The same may be true about what works in dealing with crime

  42. @Roger,

    You’re exactly right. Proper scientific method would require two randomly selected groups of criminals who had just been sentenced “normally” to be given either custody or non-custody, regardless of what their crime(s) were deemed to actually merit at the “normal” sentencing hearing. You could then compare their reoffending with a subset of similar offenders from the overall population.

    Of course that would seem a bit unfair to the 18 year old who’d graffiti’d an advertising hoarding and had their 12 month conditional discharge replaced with a “random” 5 years imprisonment, and to the victims of the rapist who’d had his 12 years imprisonment replaced with an Unpaid Work order.

    In the absence of such proper analysis, “academic study” has only a limited place and we’re left with cruder methods such as “what seems just and right”.

  43. re: Speed cameras
    I live near a dual carriageway that is busy in rush hours. The speed limit is 40 mph. This is barely achievable in rush hour, and should arguably be less when the schools let out. However, why should the limit still be 40 at 3a.m., when there are no pedestrians and very little traffic?

    In the modern world, it is technically possible to have variable speed limits on all roads, as used on motorways.

    On crime in general, the victim should be allowed to choose the sentence of the criminal, with legal guidance from the clerk of the court. Where did the idea of judging as a profession come from anyway? It must have been from a pre-literate society. Time for a change!

  44. Neil A

    As you know full well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because the argument is usually over cases where the decision could go either way – short prison sentence versus community service, that sort of thing. After all, those situations are where the information is needed as to if prison works or not. The trouble is even in those cases people don’t like allocating decisions randomly.

    What I don’t understand about the CSR is how they expect to be able to make cuts in this way. Do they think that people will stop committing crime to help them? Are they going to abolish a vast range of crimes? (And I don’t mean the vast number of new ones that Labour created, nobody was ever convicted of most of those). There aren’t the probation officers to handle the community punishments they have already and the prisons are already crammed without reducing their budgets.

    It’s the lack of grasp of reality that gets me. These people have lived in a world of tabloid headlines for so long they have come to believe them.

  45. @Roger,

    It’s only an exaggeration if you accept the premise that there are some offences for which people “deserve” prison and some for which they don’t. Is there actually any evidence that imprisoning people for rape reduces their re-offending? No, not really. But the idea that we should impose non-custodial sentences for that offence is abhorrent.

    There are a massive range of offences that can and do attract sentences of up to a year’s imprisonment. For a lot of them, non-custodial sentences would cause an uproar. I don’t blame the authorities for steering clear of scrapping them in the past, and I wonder just how this government will deal with the cacophony.

    I think on the unreality of the proposed cuts we’re on the same page.

  46. The sorts of offences I’m thinking of include domestic violence, “minor” sexual assaults on children, stabbings, robbery, repeated drink/drive and/or disqualified driving etc.

  47. @ Neil A

    What are your thoughts on elected police commissioners?

  48. The scale of the Welfare budget cuts at 18% is devastating and this together with the insecurity that is going to happen with the changed in tenant contracts makes a double whammy that will make life on our estates even more difficult than it is now.

    Churches and other voluntary organizations are going to have to come to the rescue of many more people who simply cannot make ends meet, but where their funds will come from I have no idea. Remember that these cuts are on MEANS TESTED benefits. May be they are popular for some but they will be horrendous for many and children WILL suffer despite reassurances from GO.

    The cheers at the end of the statement by GO were an obscenity and there’ll be very little cheering in the homes of the poorest of our country, who in the vast majority are NOT feckless layabouts but people who happen to have fallen on hard times for various reasons or have been born into homes where there has been two or three generations of unemployment and underemployment.

    How LD’s can support these measures is beyond belief and sadly marks the beginning of the end for them as a political party.

  49. @Michael,

    I don’t object to police commissioners in principle. I suppose they will provide a focus for the public’s pressure to “get things done” in various areas of policing. I’m not sure they’ll be very effective, and of course they will have to be paid, and so will their “secretariat”. Not particularly helpful in the current climate.

    I’d rather see a much more radical approach to police reform. A national police force, sweeping changes to the rank structure, a much greater digitisation of the record-keeping process. But there’s no appetite for that unfortunately.

  50. Anthony,

    The Scotsman is reporting a Scottish VI poll (Holyrood). Do you know anything about it? I am not even sure that they cited the provenance of the poll.

    h ttp://news.scotsman.com/news/Spending-review-poll-Labour-ahead.6592009.jp

1 3 4 5 6