A new YouGov poll for Channel 4 News yesterday found strong public support for many of the government’s planned cuts to benefits. 73% of respondents supported the idea of making the long term unemployed do compulsory work placements or risk losing benefits, 66% supported withdrawing jobseekers allowance from people who turn down job offers or interviews, 69% supported more stringent testing of people claiming disability living allowance and 68% supported capping housing benefit at £400 a week, “even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high”. In all these cases the policies weren’t just popular amongst Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters, they were also backed by a majority of Labour voters.

YouGov also asked if people thought the government should have cut benefits more or less, or had they got the balance about right. 31% thought the government was cutting too much, but 58% either thought the balance was right (34%) or would support even larger cuts to benefits (24%).

These findings are very much in line with earlier polling after the budget and the spending review, which found high levels of support for capping the total amount of benefits a family could receive, reducing the welfare budget and freezing the working tax credit. While some of the coalition’s planned cuts, such as higher tuition fees, higher VAT, or sending fewer criminals to prison are unpopular, polls have almost universally found that cuts to welfare benefits are popular.

This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting benefits is politically an easy option for the government though. Firstly, the cuts have not yet taken place, and when they do come into effect there are likely to be many media reports of individuals losing homes or facing financial difficulties which could turn public opinion away from the cuts.

There is also a risk that while individual cuts are popular, it will play into a broader image that the coalition are cutting spending in an unfair manner, or are interested only in helping the rich and don’t care about less well off people. YouGov’s regular tracker of whether people think the government’s cuts are being done fairly or unfairly has shown an increasing perception that savings are not being found in a fair way. Straight after the budget in June 45% of people thought the cuts were being carried out fairly, 34% unfairly. In our latest polling 37% thought they were fair, but 50% unfair.

In YouGov’s trackers of how people see the parties, the Conservatives are increasingly seen as being prepared to take tough and unpopular decisions (59% thought this description applied best to the Conservatives in our last poll), but they are also seen as “appealing to one section of society rather than to the whole country”.

However, opposing benefit cuts also carries risks for the Labour opposition. At the simplest level, the benefit cuts themselves are very popular, but even if that changes with time there is also a risk to Labour’s image. In polling for the Policy Network earlier this year YouGov found people already percieved the Labour party as being closest to the trade unions, benefit claimants and immigrants. If the Conservatives need to worry about still being seen as a party that cares only for the rich, Labour need to beware of potential middle class Labour voters seeing the party as one only for the dispossessed and poor.

(This article is cross posted from the YouGov website here)


488 Responses to “Polling on welfare cuts”

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  1. @COSMO
    It is my considered opinion that some of your associates on this site could do with pre-moderation because of Nick Clegg & Liberal Democrat “Hate Mail”.
    It is getting quite sickening. As you may have ascertained, I am not even a Liberal and I have got to a point of some resentment. Not every one can reach the perfection of the Labour party you know.

  2. @Eoin
    Thanks, I got my navigation wrong then :(

  3. Whatever else the demo did the police are onside with the Government now. I think they realised just how much they’re hated by middle class socialists.

  4. Neil A

    The problem with Right to Buy was mainly that it stopped Councils building houses and no other sector came in to replace the lost growth. The resultant slowly growing shortage didn’t fuel the house price booms much, but it did prevent the busts that readjust prices.

    Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your circumstances I suppose, but it means increasingly many people will never be able to afford their own homes. Worse it means that we are actually about to see a genuine homelessness crisis without any mechanisms to deal with it.

  5. Roland,

    It is probably going to get much much much worse before it gets better.

    I think provided you stick to these two principles, criticism is valid.

    1.) Blue/Yellow had a massive mandate from the people. I utterly refute any disagreement with this point.

    2.) Yellow are a party in their own right and were entitled fully to choose blue

    _______________________

    Having made their bed, however, they must now lie in it. No quibbling or crying to mammy if things don’t go their way.

  6. @Wolf,

    We’ve never been in any doubt about how we’re viewed by the Guardianistas. As for being onside with the government, the police are a pretty self-interested bunch and that will depend to a large extent on what changes are proposed to their pay, conditions and pensions.

    One account of the trouble at Millbank I read suggested that the police were almost encouraging the demonstrators, in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink kind of way, up to the point where they became a target of violence. Then of course they responded as young men and women armed with sticks generally do when attacked.

  7. roland

    you should try CiF, i’ve given up on the gaurdian it’s so full of hate

    this site is not so bad

    but what gets me is that the policys would have been nearly the same whoever was in govt and the reds on here know that

    if they want to change things they should invent a time machine, go back to 1997 and force TB at gunpoint to have a PR ref

    if the last GE hads been held under PR the commies would proably held the balance of power

  8. @Roland
    You may be surprised to learn that I sympathise with you to some degree! Supporters of all major parties are having to go through a difficult period of readjustment to their new roles.

    We have lived for many years with attacks focussed unfairly on leaders. TB and Gordy had their share, as did Mrs T. and other Conservative leaders. LD leaders took some stick to.

    Alas, it seems to be a ‘sport’ which has been around for ages. I do not like it. A glance at some early copies of Punch tells us that it is the price of being prominent, more so when they have real power.

  9. roger

    the problem now is that a house building program would destroy the housing market

    it’s too late we are trapped

  10. To me the focus on Nick Clegg is 100% tactical. Labour know that they need to persuade LibDems to part with the Tories. They also know that they may need the LibDems themselves in the future. So how to make life hard for the LibDems without p***ing off the rank and file activisits? Engage in personality politics and go for Clegg and Alexander.

    Hattie is too smart a person to have made the remarks she did without planning. They were a mistake, but one of miscalculation rather than impetuousness.

    I have no doubt the Tories would be doing the same to the leaders of the “Rainbow Coalition” parties if that had ever got off the ground. And given the Tory domination of the press it would probably have been worse.

    The LibDems are playing with the Big Boys now, and will have to learn to deal with it. After all, at a local level the LibDems are as devious, two-faced and vitriolic a bunch as you’ll find anywhere…

  11. RIN, The woman who spoke about Finland yesterday remarked about Engliah, how I think it was Y9 students were working from English textbooks, and this was advanced stuff, above what she felt her own, bright, high achieving children could cope with.
    It was very interesting, and she commented how it made her question her own, very English/British attitudes, questioning for example what we regard as “worthwhile”jobs, how everyone respects teaching as a career to aspire too, despite it not being particularly well paid. How high earners were happy to pay back to society via taxes. Quite humbling maybe….
    Is it a class system , and a consciousness we all have, perhaps tribalism which holds us back perhaps?
    Or the idea that the Taxman is a Baddie?
    Comments were also made about high suicide rates, which seems quite contradictory.
    Interesting. Certainly we are very materialist consumers, and are increasingly motivated to be like that, retail therapy. Seems we are mssing something.

  12. @RiN,

    I don’t want to see a massive housebuilding program (although a few more than are currently built would be good), but I don’t actually think it would make a huge difference to the housing market. As I said, I think shortages create a floor rather than reining in growth. So long as the new houses were designed for, and pitched at, those with modest means then I don’t think they’d have much effect.

    I’d like demographers to put their money where their mouth is though. If our housing demand is really created by the breakdown of the family unit and more people living alone, lets build more small homes…

  13. Neil A,

    Yes exactly. “The LibDems are playing with the Big Boys now, and will have to learn to deal with it.”

  14. I’m not sure the penetration of the English language is a bridgehead for US political attitudes. PamF’s observation about Finland applies equally across Scandinavia, and only Iceland was tempted into the wicked world of American Money. The rest of Scandinavia is extremely un-American in it’s outlook.

  15. Eoin, The Lib Dems could walk away if they were of a mind to, but won’t because they have shown there is no new politics, after all , form them.
    I am stil undecided about the advantage of AV following on from what has happened with yellows turning blue.

    In this LIb CON marginal, if there was AV, there would be no point of voting Liberals after having seen this.
    The only alternative for me could be the greens, and it is looking as if they will become the third party.
    Looking at the animal welfare issue in the Independent today, there are more going green.

    It’s clear…. Yellow and Blue makes Green :-)

  16. Roland Haines
    Lay off Clegg
    No
    Quite simply he and his immediates are the achilles’ heel of the Tories and Labour should keep the attacks up at a furious pace. He is defenceless
    As I have posted before and the evidence seems with me, the Tories are indestructable until the Lib Dems are toast.
    On current polling, Lib Dems lose half their crucial Scottish UK seats, roughly equally to everyone. On the Scottish parliament, again they lose all their mainland seats to everyone else. If it is a feeding frenzy, then eat
    As a realist, your only possible point is that Clegg’s position might attract sympathy. I can see no evidence for this or reason for it to develop

  17. Anyway this Red is not red for the next 90 minutes..
    8-)

  18. Pam F,

    when dealing with an enemy… the strategy is simple. You have to flush them out, and then pick them off. I have never trusted fence sitters I must admit. I have always regarded LDs as one great fence sitting alliance. Until LDs were forced to play their hand in May 2010, they had pretensions to be all things to all people. With No record, they were unblemished.

    I said in May that Suply & Confidence would have been a disaster for reds. It would have allowed LDs to retain that unblemished stance. It would have enbaled them to equivocate and remain elusive.

    Tying them, chaining them, padlocking them to the blues, is an absolute gift for reds. PMQs visual imagery is very powerful for reds efforts to cpature the floating voter. Clegg chuckling heartily behind Cameron cements the two as synonomous. It leaves less wriggle room for yellow. They are no longer elusive. They can no longer equivocate. Yellows have been flushed out.

    Stage one is thus complete.
    ________________________________

    Stage two is a war of attrition. Picking off yellow is proving very very hard. Russell and Hancock may yet splinter. Kennedy Ming Campbell and Simon Hughes are much harder to predict their future actions. In party political terms their is stanation in this regard.

    The real area for development appears to be a splintering of the great fence sitting alliance. Taking each of the separate lobbying factions that make up the libs and picking away at them one at a time… Celtic Libs, Students, Environmentalists…. one by one by one, the war of attrition is allowing red to splinter and pick off the yellow family. The 57 icons at the top may for now appear resilient. But their day will come.

  19. Both pb & politicshome now appear to be down.

    Can anyone confirm ?

  20. neil A

    my argument is that if English is your first language then cultural messages in that language will go straight into your brain, there are fewer filters. if german is your first language then the cultural info you recive while watching “dirty harry” will be filtered, but the more a german uses English, the more the effect of that filter will be reduced

    i may be wrong, this is after all my own theory not something that i have read. and as you know i don’t have uni education, so my powers of analytical thought are limited

  21. Eoin, yes they appear remarkably resilient but for many of them, what their party has signed up to must be making many of them question the morality to it as least as much as the Iraq war and other issues of New labour caused Reds to move in the yellow direction.
    Yes, I think you are right there will be a splitter, realignment whatever you want to call it, a reverser of the SDP days, but the Greens are more part of that today.
    But when will at all start? Who will be the first dissenter?

  22. Richard, I can see your point that sharing a language perhaps makes it more likely that we have access to the Americanisms and more vulnerable to Americanisation.
    I would like to believe however that we can avert this; indeed we should.
    The idea that it is an inevitable outcome of sharing a language is depressing.
    We are all sharing a language, and yet have many differing views here.

  23. At this point in the proceedings i would refer all you violent types to the words of Abraham Lincoln : ” Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends ?” It worked. :-)

  24. Ken
    Looks like the Tories destroyed them by being their friends!
    Electorally there is little to befriend. Of course there are good people. Hence the likliehood of splintering
    Antway, there are few similarities between me and Mr Lincoln

  25. Ken, violent types?

  26. @John Murphy

    I appreciate your reply on the previous thread and agree with your main point. There was so much coverage over the break-up of the country and the subsequent civil wars but so little about the conditions that were necessary for that to happen. IMHO we could learn a lot from that period of history rather than just the grim but sensational reporting of the wars.

    @Colin

    Thanks for your kind comment. BTW those sites seem to be working now.

  27. @PamF………….Warlike Celtic hordes. :-)

  28. RiN,

    Your powers of analytical thought are in no way limited by not having attended uni. The four most intelligent people I have ever met, never attended uni. I suspect there is at best a loose correlation between intellect and uni attendance. Of the 17 different intelligences, only two of them are really tested as a pre-cursor to uni entrance. As far as I am aware, analyitcal thought is rarely one of them.

  29. h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences

  30. Eoin

    “1.) Blue/Yellow had a massive mandate from the people. I utterly refute any disagreement with this point.”

    Go on then, utterly refute my disagreement with this point.

  31. Ken, as a quarter Cornish and a quarter Welsh I guess you are referring to half of me,my violent half.
    I am presuming my Aglo Saxon half is therefore peaceful.

  32. Mike N,

    All over the world since 1918, coalitions have been the norm…. Most of Europe has coalition govs. Pre-May all the talk was of a hung parl. The dogs on the street knew it would be. Pre agreed manifestos are not a pre-requisite for leigitiamte government.

    Burkean democracy says that we elect a constituency reresentititve… bar Woolas and the Shinners this has now materialised. the majority of these MPs support the current admin.

    Thus they have
    1. authority
    2. legitimacy
    3. a mandate

    People voted their MPS. Under parliemtnary democracy this is how it works. It is not a presidential system. Thus, under any measurement Clegg, Cameron et al.. have a mandate.

    I have never read a single academic or constiutional expert who would argue otherwise.

  33. Mike N,

    Consider this,

    Shaun Woodward,
    Quentin Davies
    Robert Jackson
    George Galloway

    all defected in their spells as MPs. Was this a legitimate course of action? Yes. Why? They are elected to serve their constituents, and thus are free to affiliate to any party of their choice. This reinforces the degree to which we elect MPs not Parties. We elect MPs not Leaders. Burkean Democracy means that any government who can command a majority of the seats have a madate to govern.

  34. Eoin

    I agree each MP received a mandate from his or her constituency.

    I also acknowledge that DC accepted an invitation from the Q to form a government. Following this DC formed a government comprising Con and LD MPs.

    But you cannot by any stretch say that Blue/Yellow received a massive mandate from the people.

    No one voted for a coalition of any combination. It was not announced before the GE. If it had been I would agree with you.

    I do agree that the coalition gov has an OM.

    IMO you have not utterly refuted my disagreement with your point.

  35. Mike N,

    59% of voters have returned MPs who support this government. that is the highest ever % of the populace to do so..

    Even at LDs current c.12% and blues current c40%, where those two gigures to materialise in an election, it would still make it the most supported government ever.

    Plaid and Welsh Labour did not pre-agree manifesots

    The DUP and Sinn Féin did not pre agree manifestos

    The old Alliance between SLAB and S LDs was not prior arranged…

    Fianna Fáil and the Greens [ROI] did not prior agree a policy platfrom.

    Frankly, I cannot think of a single reason why blue/yellow gov. is not perfectly legitimate, and enjoys an overall mandate, of a size we have not seen since WWII.

  36. @ Éoin

    Dems – no mandate. They were elected on the basis of false pretences. I accept that Parties sometimes are forced to change their madate by circumstances that happen after an election; the Dems were already planning to dump their core pledges on Uni tuition & the economic approach to take, before the election.

    Salisbury convention; if it is in your manifesto, the Lords do not oppose – & nor do the people, for the most part. 14% (more than half of Dem voters) ceased to support them within a very short period of the Dems entering parliament. They have no mandate from their own voters. And that is as plain as day. 8-)

  37. Oddly enough I think the public are more ambiguous about political violence than is usually thought. I think polls in the past have shown considerable support for various forms of civil disobedience, even including violence against property (though never against people). It must be said that this support is usually for the suffragette option – people must be prepared to take the legal consequences of their actions – but it is still support.

    I think as well that many people are cynical about the news values of the media and realise that only disorder gets attention. If the student march had passed off peacefully, I doubt it would have got 10% of the coverage. Many people acknowledge this problem and blame the media for encouraging this situation.

    Of course there’s also a lot of cynicism about the actual coverage. Take the iconic AP photo of the protester kicking the plate glass window at Tory headquarters – widely enough used that a cartoon can parody it here:

    ht tp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2010/nov/13/martin-rowson-student-fees-protests

    Wider shots showed the masked protester within a semi-circle made up almost entirely of photographers – and in any case hadn’t already seen that window broken from inside ? What exactly is going on?

    There’s another point not generally realised. Violence tends to taint both sides in a dispute in the long run. Even if the violence itself is felt to be unjustified, the fact that people were driven to it tends to rebound on those they are protesting against. This depends on general support for the aims of the protesters, but for example the poll tax riots affected Thatcher’s standing and were the beginning of the end for her – even though the riots were condemned and not popular in themselves.

  38. Aleksandar

    Thanks-still can’t connect-even via pb2

  39. Amber,

    8million odds… voted Labour 2005.
    17million odds back this crew…

    Even if we shave a few million lefty libs off that, we still have an overwhelming level of support…

    Under any measurement this current front bench, enjoy the majority of the voters support, the majority of MPs support…

    Coalitions are a good thing. They are also perfectly normal. Psychoanalysing disgruntled libs is a lot of fun, but it does not change the math.

  40. @ Roland

    It is my considered opinion that some of your associates on this site could do with pre-moderation because of Nick Clegg & Liberal Democrat “Hate Mail”.
    —————————————————-
    Admirable, Roland.

    I wish the same courtesy had been extended to Gordon Brown & the Labour Party prior to the GE.

    But it wasn’t. One example amongst many: We had endless comment/ debate about our “unelected” prime minister.

    And now, you chaps will simply have to put up with endless debate about whether Clegg is fit to be leader of the Dems; & whether a Coalition – where the Parties had utterly incompatible manifestos – has any mandate to govern.

    If it within the comments policy, you’ll just have to put the other side of the argument, over & over again until you are utterly bored with doing so…. like we had to do, everytime absolute, unconstitutional rubbish was posted about Gordon Brown being unelected.
    8-)

  41. Eoin

    “Coalitions are a good thing. They are also perfectly normal. Psychoanalysing disgruntled libs is a lot of fun, but it does not change the math.”

    You really are a breath of fresh air here Eoin.

    But they won’t stop wittering-it’s all they have just now.

  42. PamF,

    I hope you are enjoying the destruction of the ‘other’ reds as much as I am
    :-)

  43. Clegg?
    It is nothing personal except perhaps for some who voted Lib Dem. Of course it is a laugh as well. All of us are human. Oh well. I better go and support the Africaaners

  44. Eoin
    “coalitions are good thing”

    Yes-I am certainly beginning to see that.

    A quick Wiki demonstrates what polarised fundamentalists we can be in UK:

    Coalition governments :-

    Europe 32
    Americas 3
    Africa 11
    Asia 14
    Oceania 4

  45. “Mandate” is not a legalistic concept relating to whether or not government actions are legitimate, or whether there is the authority to take such actions. Mandate (= “command”) is a *moral* statement concerning whether the actions taken were commanded by the electorate. Moral authority comes from the idea that voters make their choice on the basis of a candidate’s manifesto, which in a party system is equivalent to the party manifesto – a voter will reasonably expect that an elected candidate will act according to the manifesto they support during the election.

    The almost universally Tory policies being enacted by the coalition have no mandate – only Tory voters endorsed them. LibDem voters endorsed supposed LibDem policies, almost none of which (AV referendum excepted) correspond to the policies now being enacted.

    So, while it is plain that the coalition has the legal/constitutional right to enact whatever laws they choose, they do not have a mandate.

  46. Colin,

    There are times when UKPR really does exist in a Vaccum. There are no constitutional quibbles from any experts on these matters. The only words I have ever read querying a governmental mandate has been on this site. The mind boggles.

  47. Eoin

    A few observations…

    “Frankly, I cannot think of a single reason why blue/yellow gov. is not perfectly legitimate, and enjoys an overall mandate, of a size we have not seen since WWII.”

    One technical point, the ‘mandate’ is not in the number of viotes cast but in the number of MPs returned. Hence, we have seen larger mandates since WWII.

    You mentioned Burkean Democracy. I’ve read Wikipedia and still do not see the connection between Blue/Yellow receiving a massive mandate as you claim, with the mandate the MP receives from his or her constituency.

    I suggest that the MP’s duty is to represent at the HoC his or constituents. Whether he or she applies his or her own judgment is a separate issue.

    Your whole argument flounders here. If each MP receives a mandate then there is no mandate for any particular party (or parties) to govern. Each MP then decides whether to be part of a government or support/oppose a government in Parliament.

    Thus, DC coalition commands the support of enough MPs but there is no massive mandate for Blue/Yellow.

  48. @ Éoin

    Under any measurement this current front bench, enjoy the majority of the voters support, the majority of MPs support…
    —————————————————
    Not the majority of the electorate’s support, though.
    Look at the YG numbers before taking out the don’t knows.
    Heck, even at the election when the Dems were riding high (under a false, leftie flag) the Coalition didn’t have 50% of the potential vote.
    ATTAD = 39% of the electorate at the GE.
    8-)

  49. FWIW,

    Tactically it suits reds to paint yellow as uniformly supportive of blue efforts. Every time we make excuses for the yellow rank and file, we make it easier for yellow to ressurect themselves with a rebranding exercise in 2015. If Clegg is deposed and Hughes say takes over, he will be able to claim with a lot of reds help, that the true libs have returned.

    All my efforts are view a view to closing off that loophole. Thus S & C would have been a disaster. Give Clegg a pat on the back, send him into his grand alliance, declare it a great and glorious affair…. and in 5 years time, knock em out.

    Wiggle room such as that which excuses rank and file libs, is a dangerous game play. A rank and file LIb is still a lib… Let them make their bed, and let them lie in it.

  50. Amber,

    What was the last government to be able to say they commanded a majority of MPs and also a majority of the electorate?

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