YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has voting intention figures of CON 42%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%. It’s a higher Conservative lead than YouGov have shown recently, and the highest Lib Dem score from YouGov for a while – but nothing that couldn’t just be normal random variation. What it does suggest is that the continuing row over housing benefit is not damaging the government. Full tables are here.

On that specific issue, YouGov asked again about support for the cap on housing benefit, and found 72% of people in favour (this is much in line with the levels of support YouGov found when the cap was first announced in the budget back in June, althought the question itself was not the same so you cannot draw a conclusion about support going up or down).

The regular trackers are broadly positive for the government. David Cameron’s approval rating is up to plus 15, from a low of plus 8 a week ago and people’s opinion of whether the government is managing the economy well is back in positive territory after falling into negative territory a week ago.

Ed Miliband’s approval rating has dropped to plus 2, as those thinking he is doing a bad job rises to 32%. This is largely following the normal pattern for party leaders – when they first become leader people give them the benefit of the doubt for a couple of weeks. After a while supporters of other parties start giving them negative answers and leader’s net ratings fall.

Impressions of the state of the economy have risen following the announcement of GDP figures – 7% think the economy is in a good state, 70% a bad state. While extremely pessimistic, the net figure of minus 63 is actually the highest since the end of July and start of August… straight after the last lot of GDP figures were announced. The boost in optimism then didn’t last very long.

YouGov also asked some questions about Europe. Unsurprisingly people overwhelmingly thought that Britain paid too much towards the European Union. Attitudes towards an expansion of the EU’s powers to limit government borrowing and impose greater budget discipline were more positive though. 29% supported the idea of gving the EU greater powers to stop countries borrowing too much, including the UK. 37% supported the EU having such powers over the Eurozone, but not the UK. We did also ask a question about David Cameron supporting the economic powers in exchange for a freeze in EU funding, but it was alas overtaken by events.


336 Responses to “YouGov show 72% in favour of housing benefit cap”

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  1. Blues have now established a tried and tested method of landing blows on reds. It is quite disheartening to see it in action, and even more painful, when it occurs in slow motion over a period of days. Blues pursue a populist line, that conflicts with red principles. It does so with a view to showing how out of touch reds are. It seeks to tap into public sentiment, in a bid to provoke a high minded moral rebuke from reds, that simply does not resonate with the public. Inheritance, NI tax, CB for the rich, and now HB. On each and every occasion, reds apply a high minded an abstract political argument, while blue simply focus on populism. It hurt Gordy twice and now it has hurt Ed twice. I hope when the next punch comes, reds see it coming.

  2. MIkeN

    “We have a minority Con gov propped up by LD stooges etc.”

    Any Lib Dems going to quibble with that-can’t decide whether “stooges” is more or less offensive to LDs than “mutants”.
    Labour must have invested in a new Thesaurus.

    Mike-who are “etc” ?

  3. There seems to be a fallacy here that if the polls show support of something, it means they must be right economically or morally or whatever.
    It means nothing of the kind. It simply means one party has presented their case to the public better.
    I mostly know what blues think of these policies. And I mostly know what reds think too. But all the discussions about whether or not the benefit cap for example is right or wrong, unfortunately will not be the deciding factor as to whether the coalition wins the next elections or not.
    And public perception is measured by the polls.
    As I’ve posted before, completely opposite policies can be supported or rejected by voters just by the way they are successfully or badly presented by the different parties.
    Now public perception is fickle and often illogical. One voter can say, hey these policies are fantastic one day and the next say they are the worst idea imaginable.
    So lets have less talk about how great or terrible the policies are and more about how they are going to affect public opinion, rightly or wrongly.
    On this basis, a blue (for example) will sometimes be telling us that this Conservative policy is terrible, not because he personally thinks it is but because it could adversely affect public opinion because ……..
    Likewise reds and others.
    I have to admit, this is what fascinates me the most about politics; not so much the policies, which are ‘right’ and which are ‘wrong’, but rather the battle for the public perception.

  4. eoin

    you have a point, the reds have already lost a large part of their base to the apathy party, if they don’t care for their base it will shrink further

    was the last GE the first where the Stay At Home (SAH) party was the largest?

  5. @EOIN
    Spot on.
    Blues are doing a good job on that at the moment. Reds are losing every battle.

  6. @MIKE N
    Why is it that the minority Tory government is “propped up” by LD stooges. Whereas, an extreme minority Labour government would have been “supported” by the flotsam and jetsom of British and Irish politics to form a “rainbow coalition” ?

  7. Richard,

    Good point. The most ironic thing is that Ed M give us the impression, that it was this element of old red support that he sought to reclaim. I had a sister join reds a month ago on the basis, that Nuu Labour was finito. She now gives me earache about why Red Ed is championing the top 15% of the social strata. I have to admit, I find it exceptionally difficult to give her an answer.

  8. @JULIAN GILBERT
    You show real courage just as Eoin always has. Its not what you want, its the way it is. Top marks.

  9. mike

    you seem to be confused

    frist you say we have a minorty govt and then you say we have a coalition

    you must make your mind up

    colin

    stooges is much more offensive than mutants. really such talk belongs on non-serious sites such as CiF

  10. @ NBeale

    Interesting comments.

    Labour haven’t made any inroads of significance since EM became leader.

    Ed’s attack on HB has just not resonated. It’s the same with CB.

    He seems to be talking to an audience of his own imagining-one which doesn’t represent the voter at large.

    What Eoin describes as “populist” policies are-at least for CB/HB -popular policies-which is to say that voters appear to see the proposals as “fair”.

    So we have Ed fighting a battle against “unfairness” on policies which a majority perceive as “fair”.

    It is early days of course-the effect of cuts are yet to be actually seen in practice. The vexed question of private sector job creation vs public sector job losses has yet to play out.

    But I get the impression EM’s initial foray has run out of steam-and direction.

    He has lot’s of opportunities to refocus in the months ahead-but he must not allow a feeling of “second wrong leader” to set in.

  11. Julian,

    What makes these two battles the most disheartening to have lost, is that they months in the making. The dogs on the street new that GO on the 21-3 October was going to roll out some trimmings to the welfare bill. IT ‘should’ have been basic strategy to appoint a small team to sort the wheat from the chaff. Ie spot the good policy, from the bad policy.

    That Ed M took a week to reply on the child benefit issue tells me two things. Reds were contemplating it themselves. And also that Ed saw the conflict between populism and principle. I think we have to accept that it was an occasion where he listened to teh right of the party, in pursuing a catch all strategy.

    There will be more battles, that is true. In late November, GO will publish a pre-budget report (equivalnet). It might be early december, who knows. This will come at a time when Xmas costs are biting, inflation is still stubbornly high, unemployment might begin to grown, housing will still be sluggish and an impending VAT rise will be in the offing. In short, early December is the ideal set of circumstances to ram home the Keynsian line of argument. What we need is a VAT reduction, not a VAT rise… that might be a nice populist line to pursue. I hope team Ed take the time to think it through and that red response is not limp, and abstract.

  12. @ Eoin @ JULIAN GILBERT

    Quite agree with you both. The narrative is being very successfully controlled by blue at the moment.

    We are living through a period of conceptual politics (the idea of a coaltion, the idea of a smaller, less debt dependent state), the tangiable effects, or real outcomes, are yet to emerge from the fog of the election and the recession.

    It seems to me that Obama is similarly a very effective conceptual politician, but that he struggles to present the tangiable benefits at a policy level. Healthcare and his tax cuts have or will benefit millions of Americans – but he hasn’t been able to present a narrative of that which Americans understand on a day to day human level. In a year or two Labour may have some lessons to learn from (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) the Tea Party in terms of how to shape a mood of ideological public anger.

    Laszlo argues that Red need to find the human impact angle to illustrate their arguments and he is absolutely right in my view.

    Simplesimon points out that these cuts are popular. I don’t know who he thinks is arguing with him on that point. We are all people who follow opinion polling and (with many caveats!) accept what they tell us. The question is whether they are populist, and whether they will have a longer term impact on opinion and the political weather.

  13. The Office of Budget Responsibility is now responsible for official forecasts. They announce it in December. Anything in and around 2% gives reds a chance to push a Keynsian line. That ‘should’ be another opportunity for a red gain.

    December also sees credit problems for the high street. Traditionally as VAT bills etc are due, it is a period of high profile bankrupcies/administrations. Again, an ideal opportunity for reds to mount a coherent argument.

  14. @Mike N,

    Sorry, I’m a Londoner. If I capitalise City I mean the Square Mile.

  15. Two populist policies red should push…

    1. A VAT holiday of 12 weeks for struggling businesses.
    2. A suspension on the VAT rise of 12 months.

    That would put them over 40%.

  16. @EOIN
    I agree. The populist versus policy battle is as old as the hills.
    You’d think Labour would have got it right by now.
    @ROLAND
    Re. courage in admitting things. Isn’t there a small part of your blue heart which is a bit disappointed the defence cuts don’t seem to have affected the blues negatively in the polls ?

  17. @ Eoin

    Agreed, but only if announced after the rise. Until then the rise is a concept, not a reality.

  18. Spencer,

    Yes you are correct- conceptualisation is a constant dilemma, especially with VAT. …… VAT is a horrible sneaky kinda tax… it is hard even for the most numerate to conceptualise. It is not in a pay packet monthly for example. It is barely noticed, something akin to a slow growing tumour. I think the 2.5% symbolism might be worth going after….

  19. @ Eoin

    There was a Glaswegian builder on QT this week who had strong views on VAT. He seemed very aware of the reduction to 15% which had been made, but didn’t seem to have registered it going back to 17.5%. He was very aware of the plan to go to 20% though.

    I guess what I’m saying is that arguing for a 2.5% cut back to 17.5% will be a more attractive policy than arguing for the retention of an unpopular tax at current levels.

  20. @ Eoin

    I’m not sure if these are populist policies, rather than popular.

    The first one would actually be a rather good economic policy, but with one caveat – going after VAT evasion (it’s massive) at the same time.

    Not to mention that it would reduce the contribution to the EU budget :-)

  21. @SPENCER
    The Tea Party have been masters at manipulating public opinion in the US.
    In the Guardian there is a piece about a Tea Party supporter who is out of work and has no healthcare. She’s asked why she’s supporting a candidate who wants to get rid of healthcare and stop unemployment benefits.
    This is her reply;

    “To be honest I have not been paying too much attention to the whole ‘Obama-care’ thing. He doesn’t care about people like me. I have been concentrating on just getting these illegal people out of my country.”

    :(

  22. Spencer,

    Yes I see now what you mean… killing two birds with one stone. Ie let blue put it up so we can offer a cut, which in real terms is not a cut, but a retnetion of the old level. Crafty! :)

    I thought that once a rise had been instigated, the battle moment would ahve passed… but now I see a populist line in a future manifesto. That is tactical, I’ll give you that. (I was thinking of the poor blighters who would have to pay it in the meantime).

  23. Laszlo,

    I do not meant to present the would populist in a negative light. That would be an oxymoron surely? :) The epitomy of aloofness.

  24. Dear oh dear what a waste of time YouGov doing daily tracking polls,absolutely meaningless. I can’t understand why everyone on thses pages actually think they are significant??

  25. Laszlo,

    Sorry for the typos :( No excuse!

  26. On the Populism arguments put forward, I am inclined to resist moves that are populist.

    I am involved with Politics as I have a firm idea what I think is right. That is what I fight and argue for, even if I am in a minority. I am passionately against the Death Penalty. I could not give a monkeys if (as I know) most people disagree with me. I think I am 100% right on it. I am also a Vegetarian, as I think that from my own view point eating animals is unethical. Again, a firm minority position, but no matter how many times an idiot tells me I should eat a bacon sandwich, my position is solid.

    The great Social movements did not start being popular – abolishing slavery, votes for women and so on. They were thought to wrong, and fought against with considerable force and probably violence by those vested interests who were against change.

    I want Ed to set a firm course of action based on principles – Universality benefits for instance. Even if unpopular to start with, keep the debate going. I do want Ed to effectively have policies by focus group. That is temporary and superficial, and weak leadership.

    To conclude, if Labour’s ideas are not popular vs the coalitions, it just has to try harder, not change to a popular policy.

  27. @ Eoin

    Touche! The same point struck me as soon as I clicked ‘submit’. It is easy to view these policies strategically whilst forgetting the impact they have.
    :)

  28. John Healey tells Sky: ‘Those top level (housing) benefits do need to be capped.’

    It’s a bit incoherant isn’t it ?

  29. correction

    I want Ed to set a firm course of action based on principles – Universality benefits for instance. Even if unpopular to start with, keep the debate going. I do not want Ed to effectively have policies by focus group. That is temporary and superficial, and weak leadership.

  30. GARRY K
    I think the idea isn’t to abandon your ideas if you think they’re right just because they might not be popular.
    It’s to present them to the public in a way that ensures they are supported.
    I believe any policy can be made popular. Any.

  31. Colin
    “etc” referred to all the other adjectives which could be appended to ‘LDs’. I’ve opreviously called them the fallguys, the Cons human shield.

    Jus t looked up ‘stooges’… and found an example of its use: “party stooges put there to do a job on behalf of central office”. Also there is the meaning “a performer whose act involbes being the the butt of a comedian’s jokes”.

    I leave it to others to decide who the comedian is, whose butt is involved, and the jokes that are being perpetrated.

  32. GarryK,

    A good post, and one I respect and understand. I can see how anyone supporting universality would struggle to support the CB cut, and I can sympathise why you would wish to retain it for everyone. There is a sound principle behind it.

    Housing is different. Two basic socialist principles in relation to housing are 1) every human deserves a roof over their head regardless of wealth. Ie. a nation has a duty to house its poor. 2) The marketisation of housing creates instability for ordinary working class community cohesion. These are commendable principles. If you listen to what Cozmo writes about on these topics, you will see him echo these two principles at length.

    The probelm is this, however, letting some self centred inconsiderate eejit clock up £20,000+ on annual rent, is not the upholding of these principles, but the abuse of these principles. You can retain your principles, by simply stating a preference for buildign social housing.

    In short, one should always be guided by principles, but one should be open minded about how to fulfil these principles.

  33. Roland
    “@MIKE N
    Why is it that the minority Tory government is “propped up” by LD stooges. Whereas, an extreme minority Labour government would have been “supported” by the flotsam and jetsom of British and Irish politics to form a “rainbow coalition” ?”

    Er, we don’t have a rainbow coalition.

    I have noticed just how wedded to the LDs the Cons seem to becoming. It’s really sweet to watch.

  34. RiN
    “you must make your mind up”

    You’re right! I apologise. I slipped into using the ‘c’ word again. I must do better. Thanks

  35. @ Garry K @ Julina Gilbert

    Inheritance tax is a good example of what Julian is describing. I passionately believe it is a fair tax but can understand why others passionately believe the opposite. I’ve seen both cases made very persuasively. The blues won the most recent round on this hands down in the public’s eyes.

    Similarly, in Education, you can make a passionate and persuasive pitch for Grammar schools as effective engines of upward social mobility. I think that’s dangerous nonsense, but I’d have to be prepared to polish off my best rhetorical skills to persuade some parents of that. I could do it mind ;)

    In the end winning the election isn’t the same as winning the argument. If you see what I mean!!??

  36. Neil A

    “If I capitalise City I mean the Square Mile”

    Ah, that ‘city’.

  37. mike

    no apology needed, it’s just good to know where you stand

  38. @ Roland Haines

    “@R HUCKLE
    I think if the tribal anti -Tory attitude retreats for 5 minuets Mr Huckle, you would see that Cameron & Osbourn realise a very great deal more than you or the Labour leadership understand. But as they say in the Peak District of Derbyshire, “you can live in Hope if you die in Hathersage”.”

    We have all seen that some of the announcements made by this government so far are only that, announcements. They have not put forward specific fully worked out processes that would be applied to cap HB and other benefits. Even Boris as Mayor of London, is not aware of what the government are planning exactly. If he had been aware, perhaps he would not have gone on the radio talking about central London being cleansed of the poor.

    This is not a case of me being tribal. I want to see a sensible programme of cuts. I am just not sure that Cameron, Osborne or other members of this government have actually worked out how they implement change. This was something that Tony Blair admitted to. That making announcements is easy, but actually implementing any changes is far more difficult.

  39. Eoin and Julian,

    Thanks for the responses.

    With regard to HB, I do see the high cost as tied to effective privatisation of the housing stock used for Social Housing.

    The cap is not the answer, as it does not deal with the core issue – the lack of affordable housing in the public sector. The long-term benefit to the state of a large social housing rebuilding project would be great. This would stop relying on paying silly money in HB to the private sector, create huge numbers of jobs and apprenticeships and give councils a solid source of income for years to come.

    The coalition plans I have heard on this are feeble. Labour’s don’t seem to have a policy.

    This would be principled and popular.

  40. @Mike N,

    I picked the City as an example specifically because, when I was posted as a trainee detective to Islington Borough, I was genuinely astonished to find that there are blocks of council flats that are walking distance from the Lloyds building (many of the flats are, of course, unlawfully sublet for far more than their nominal “social” rent).

  41. Garry K,

    In fairness to Ed Balls- he called for a house building programme of £12bn a couple of months ago :) On all the main issues, he has the best policies :)

  42. Garry K,

    Unless the new social housing is rented out at rates that pay for itself, it’s a form of housing benefit anyway. And one that isn’t means-tested.

  43. spencer

    i’m always surprised that the left doesn’t make auguments about what works

    ie, income inequlity is bad for the country not because it’s unfair but because it desablises the counrty, or because it’s unsustainable in the longterm, a perfect exsample is the HB row

  44. I see Shelter are criticising the HB changes.

  45. @JULIAN GILBERT
    Regarding the defence cuts, I think we came out better than we might have, although the overall situation could reduce me to tears if I let it. I certainly did not wish to see any reduction in Tory popularity as a result of the cuts. I am, as I think you know one of those poor sick deluded people who blame Labour for money shortages. And, more so in defence than any other area. Anyway Eoins assessment of not what he wants British politics to look like, but what they do look like is in MHO very accurate. Knowing your politics I do applaud you for seeing and admitting the same truths.

  46. RiN

    “…not because it’s unfair but because it desablises the country”

    IMO, all govs of whatever hue need to keep this mind.

  47. Eoin,
    It is sad to see Em being out manouevred by DM.

    TB warned about this.

    But at least Neil’s ‘got his party back’- they lost, as you know, the vast majority of elections from 1951-1992, then won three, but got fed up with winning.

    ‘A prophet without honour’ etc

  48. garry

    why hasn’t this been done already

    oh yes i remember, it’s because house prices are votes, if they go down the govt is out if they go up the govt stays in

    it’s called addiction, i don’t know how you can break this one

  49. mike N

    yes all govt’s

  50. Chris Lane,

    I disagree as it happens. When Blair won those whopping majorites, they were not a vote for Foundation hospitals or Iraq…. but bog standard investment in public services. People when they deemed public services to have recovered sufficiently, went back to caring about personal taxation, and immigrants. Britain has a cyclical attitude to these things. It seems reds must wait patiently for waiting lists (What are they says you) to rise, and schools to crumble. People will then turn back to Labour to turn on the investment tap again…

    The oscillation between these two basic positions strikes me as a habitual mode of thought for Worcester Women and Mondeo Men.

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