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. @ Éoin

    I am everso ‘fond’ of you – but your 2:40pm is Machiavelian nonsense.

    The Dems will be ousted by Labour calling a spade a bl**dy shovel; not by us calling Tories & Dems gardening implements of a similar ilk.

  2. Eoin

    Maybe you’re right that S&C would have been a disaster for Lab.

  3. @ Hooded Man

    We’d need to go back & check the unweighted polls from around 1997.

    Blair’s new Labour had a 63% approval rating (which includes don’t knows), so that could well be the nearest thing to having most MPs & the most public support that the UK has ever had.

  4. @ Eoin

    “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.”

    I think you are wrong. If the act on recalling the MP ever gets through and in the form as it was promised, there will be extremely few LibDem MPs in Parliament. Because it’s not only about individuals. In a large northern city, where the LibDems have quite popular MPs, there is a movement co-ordinated through internet, pubs, restaurants, public meetings (Big Society?) to initiate the recall of these MPs as soon as the Act is passed. Many of the participants did not vote in May. I asked them if they like their sitting LibDem MP. “He does a good job, but you cannot trust anymore this lot.” The person who said it was a 66 years old – he voted in the last 30 odd years for Liberals and LibDems.

    I’m quite sure Leeds is not isolated.

  5. @ Eoin

    “Hughes say takes over”

    He’s burning his political capital quicker than an internet company during the dot.com boom…

  6. Hooded man, I was until lat 10 mins but then we gave it away again. Thought we might just have managed an overall majority since I cast observed 15 years ago when “they won it with kids”
    Another predicition bites the dust!



  7. Former prime minister Gordon Brown said: “There will be joy round the world at the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s most renowned and courageous prisoner of conscience.
    Gordon Brown has relentlessly campaigned for the Burmese junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi – a good day for Gordon.

  8. robin

    i thought this was a newer nu labour govt, or was the last govt a new old tory govt

    so far all the govt has done is to put labour plans into action

  9. @ Éoin
    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.
    You don’t get about much, if this is the only place where you’ve read or heard quibbles.

    There is a huge grassroots campaign determined to define as a recallable offence, planning to dump your manifesto prior to being elected on it.

    The ability to recall for this reason, of course, will not be in the recall legislation – if it ever sees the light of day. But there are a huge number of people in Dem constituencies who would be willing to test the law on this point when/ if it is enacted.

  10. I think that revelations in today’s Guardian that Clegg had wanted to ditch the tuition fees pledges, even before the election, may be the most damaging thing yet for him and possibly by extension the coalition. It’s been the most popular item on the Guardian’s website all day (beating even an interview with Justin Bieber!), which is unusual for a political story, and is attracting extraordinary number of comments.

    The trouble is that it is damaging in two ways. The wider electorate feels that it has been tricked, and that includes very powerful components of the Lib Dem vote. With the Woolas case in the news, this (although legally very different) will strike many voters as similarly dishonest. Till now the Lib Dem leadership has been able to put the extra pressure on students (and their parents) down to the compromises of coalition. That excuse isn’t available to Clegg any more.

    But even more dangerously Lib Dem activists, and those MPs outside the inner circle, will feel they were also tricked. I’ve commented before on the loyalty of the Lib Dems so far, but I suspect this may be a breaking point. There probably won’t be defections in any number, but we will see discontent sooner than otherwise and perhaps local revolts against the leadership. Pressure will certainly increase on Clegg to get better deals on a range of issues.

    Actually a third group may also be feeling bamboozled. Tories, especially on the Right, felt that too much was given away to the Lib Dems. To discover that concessions may have been given, in order to obtain policies that Clegg and co believed in anyway, will not please them. Pressure may also come on Cameron to be tougher from his side as well.

    The situation is oddly not even without dangers for Labour. Their real problem is a lack of trust from the electorate as the eloquent comments from Frustrated Voter showed earlier. But the Browne Report was set up by them and it was they who introduced the fees in the first place, breaking manifesto promises along the way. Unless Ed Miliband is able to convince the electorate that Labour has changed and can be trusted again, people may just stick with the (dishonest) devils they know.

    To do that he’s going to need to alter a lot of New Labour policy and attitudes. As RiN points out most of the coalition’s policies are just a logical continuation of the previous government’s. But if he tries that, he still has far too big a proportion of the old New Labourites around (look at the support Woolas has been receiving), to make it an easy transition.

  11. Eoin

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

    “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.”

    There is no quibble about the rights of DC to form a government. He received mandate from the Q to be her PM and form a government, which he accepted. Constitutionally correct – no problem.

    But to claim that Blue/Yellow have a massive mandate is incorrect. You said each MP can apply their own judgment and switch allegiances. Although these MPs have a mandate from their constituencies this does not therefore translate into a mandate for a party.

    So, I believe you have failed utterly to refute disagreement with your point.

  12. i wonder if there was PR in britain now and asuming there were 7 parties if the polling breakdown would look like this

    greens 10
    very old labour 20
    new labour 10
    pinko dems 15
    orange bookers 5
    nice tories 20
    nasty tories 10
    others 10

  13. Amber,

    Would be close. Unless DKs and WNVs were 20% or less Blair would have still not had support from a majority of the electorate.

    And he probably only peaked at that level once for a very brief period of time…… his stamina lay in other areas he’d have us believe ;-)

  14. Amber

    Re recalling MPs. As I said six months ago (almost to the hour):

    With respect to the MP recall provision,I can’t believe that anything has been allowed to remain of this daft proposal [in the coalition agreement]. It’s one of those examples of gesture politics where the language and emotions of the tabloids are allowed to enter law-making with the result that no one has the faintest idea what the law means and prosecutions take place on whim or malice…

    Since few MPs have a majority of the vote and getting signatures is easy, you’ll all be voting every fifth Thursday. However if “serious wrongdoing” isn’t tightly defined, every case can be judicially appealed up to the Supreme Court; and, if it, is why [shouldn’t the HoC] not just throw the MP out anyway?

    (Slightly edited for sense).

    Oh if only they listened to us on UKPR instead of all those expensive special advisers. :lol:

  15. @ Roger Mexico

    Absolutely right – there will be no likelihood whatsoever that an MP can be removed because the Party put forward a manifesto that their ‘top brass’ knew would not be adhered to.

    In fairness, most of the Dem MPs would not have known that Danny Alexander, David Laws & some others were ‘binning’ the manifesto before the GE.

  16. Roger

    I was one of the posters here before the GE who also said this recall idea was completely stupid (or words to that effect). (There were some posters here who at the time thought it was a great accountability idea.)

    I still think it’s crazy – but hey, it will be hilarious viewing when in action.

  17. From the Guardian;
    “The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald’s and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease.”
    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/12/mcdonalds-pepsico-help-health-policy

    It’s the satire writers I feel most sorry for. ;)

  18. It is not my job to defend the LDs or their leader, however Ceggs leading of his party into this coalition government is something for Liberals to decide upon for good or evil. As I have said before and will continue saying, it is not for a defeated Labour party, jealous beyond all reason at the LD “treachery” to commit daily character assasination on individual LD polititicians. The LDs who think the Labour legacy is a millstone around the neck of the nation are not that odd, over 50% of the voting public agree with them.

  19. @ROLAND
    No Roland. Reds are HAPPY that the LDs went into a coalition with the Tories.
    C&S would have been a disaster for Labour (see Eoin’s posts above).

  20. Amber/Mike N,

    Help me out then guys:

    Which constitutional expert agrees with the argument you guys put forward?

    I read widely on these matters and have not come accross a single sentence in either fo your arguments favours.

    Is there a new school of constitutional thought opening?

    ps… Mike N, all people have the reight to refute, I continue to refute… just because I do, does not mean you can not do so also…. :)

    Come on Julian, you may well mean that, but if I had £1.00 for every Labour supporters post on this site to the contary, I would personally be able to take care of all the poor you are so worried about.

  22. Roland

    Don’t fret so. Sooner or later we’ll focus exclusively on DC and his minions.

  23. @ Roland

    …to commit daily character assasination on individual LD polititicians.
    And Clegg was entirely unpartisan about individual Labour politicians prior to the GE. His laser like focus on policy not personalities was a joy to behold.

    Oh, hang on a minute – no, it wasn’t. Clegg publicly trashed Gordon Brown at any & every opportunity.

    Do as you would be done by, Mr Clegg?

  24. Amber,

    How legitimate do you think it was in 2005 when c.8mill of the nation’s 60 million residents voted red? We can play games with numbers, but it is simply undemocratic to pretend reds were legitimate with 8.5ish and this not are illegitimate with 17million ish.

    I grew up in a state where gerrymandering was the norm. Reds in my view ere not noted for their appetite for it.

  25. @R I N
    Would you consider reducing nasty Tories to 5, in order to introduce vile ranting Tories at 5. This would give me an inclusion.

  26. @ Eoin

    Which constitutional expert agrees with the argument you guys put forward?
    Well, if you are shifting the goal posts to only including constitutional experts……… how many of those are there? Do constitutional experts make up the majority of the electorate? I think not.

    And many of the electorate (could even be a majority) believe that the Coalition do not have a mandate for the policies they are introducing.

  27. Eoin

    “Help me out then guys:”

    No, I challenged you to utterly refute my disagreement with your statement that Blue/Yellow have a massive mandate.

    So far you have failed IMO to do so.

    I’vw also responded to your comments about MPs mandates and drawn your attention to the constitutional position re the PM.

    You also referred to an 18th century parliamentarian and I put forward a counter view that was wholly compatible.

    You resorted to counting votes cast to support your position and I reminded you that it’s not votes that matter.

    The ball is in your court.

    But hey, if you want to call it a day no prob.

  28. @ Éoin

    How legitimate do you think it was in 2005 when c.8mill of the nation’s 60 million residents voted red?
    Not legitimate at all. 1.5M people marched against the Iraq war & still Blair’s New Labour were elected with a majority. I was utterly astonished & so were the majority of reds, IMO.

    How many contencious policies, that were not in the manifesto, did New Labour introduce after 2005? I’d guess about zero. We knew we didn’t have a mandate despite winning the election.

  29. I think AW must be away, as I asked a question about the tables but no answer yet. It was:

    In the tables linked, when asked ‘to which party does this statement apply more, Labour or Conservative’ substantial numbers of voters are responding ‘Lib Dem’. (!!).

    Is there something I am not understanding here or is a great proportion of voters just thick?

  30. @ Howard

    AW did reply. He added it to the bottom of your question, I think. Go back & check the thread, you’ll find his answer. 8-)

  31. @amber

    Dont think they introduced any but they took away a referendum from me…and i cant seem to find the bit where Gordon Brown would be prime minister in 2007 either

  32. Mike N,

    Labour got 29-30 % of the vote.
    Blues got 36-7% of the vote
    Blues got 2million more votes in 2010 than red got in 2005.
    Blues have more voters and more seats than red

    In 1834 there was a coalition
    In 1885 there was a coalition
    in 1910 there was a coaltiion
    during WWI and WW II there were colations
    after the coupon election there was a coaltion
    In 1974, and 1996 minority governments were kept in with S & C

    This is not unprecedented.

    A mandate to rule is granted when 325 MPs back a front bench.

    This convention pre-dates party politics. the party system & whip system grew out of HoC politics, they did not influence its strucutres. The whip & party system was deemed expedient for making the business of government run more smoothly.

    The party system has no place whatsoever in law…
    The Queen needs to pick who she thinks can “command a majority of support within the house” that can be from 10 parties or one.

    there is no legal, conventional, or constitutional basis to argue that DC does not command a majority.

    This gives him legitimacy authority and yes, a mandate. None of this is opinion. It is the way it is….
    Now I gather Mike your interest is real politick; even on those terms Clegg said he would not do a deal with Brown. Clegg said he would talk to the largest party. Clegg made it clear that the party with the largest number of votes had a right to seek to forma government.

    A mandate can be retained by a PM who does not even have the support of his own party but can still command a majority. lloyd George did not command the support of his party, but his did command the support of a majority of MPs thus, he retained a mandate to govern.

    There have been many times throughout UK political history where a mandate has been derived from an eclelctic range of sources.

    How anyone views it differently completely confounds me I must say.

    Each MP’s constituency is a sub component of the electoral system. They select their MP to represent thei interests. They do not select a PM, they do not select a party. They select an MP. He then enjoys the powers invested in his position to vote as he sees fit. In 5 years time his constituents have a chance to remove that power.

    Theoretically speaking an MP has the right if he chose to vote his constiuency out of existance, to vote to hang his constituents, to vote to bankrupt them. Representitative democracy gives him the right to pass (in cohort with his colleagues) whatever legislation he sees fit, even if every single one of his constituents disagree…

    This was designed to prevent Tyranny of the Majority [see Alex De Tocqueville].

    I fail to see a single reason of merit why this government does not have a mandate. I can think of countless reasons why they do.

  33. @ Bullman

    Have you forgotten “Vote Blair Get Brown”? A Tory 2005 election campaign sogan that backfired & was withdrawn. At the time of the 2005 GE, Gordon Brown was more popular than Tony Blair.

  34. @amber

    I cant say i do remember no lol.

    But nonetheless…..it wasnt written in any plan….only the verbal agreement of 2 people

  35. roland

    i lumped you in with old nat as others

    but if you really want vile tories………………………..

  36. A coalition assembled after an election cannot , by definition , have placed it’s manifesto before the electorate.

    Presumably one can state with reasonable certainty that implementing the manifestos of all the parties to a post-election coalition is very unlikely:-

    a) The legislative programme is likely to be overcrowded.
    b) There will have been differences on a given policy area,so one or all manifestos -after the election -will see ommissions or alterations.

    THere are over 30 coalition governments in Europe.

    It would be interesting to know how many were assembled post election, and what conventions are adopted with regard to mandate to govern.

  37. Eoin

    good heavens!

    I have not said this government does not have a mandate. DC has a mandate from the Q to form a government. This is the constitutional position as I understand it.

    Each MP recives a mandate from his or her constituency.

    Each MP is not constrained to his or her party allegiances. You rightly drew attention to this when referring to those MPs who have moved across the floor of the HoC.

    Each MP can choose therefore whether to sit on the government benches or the opposition benches.

    DC commands the confidence of the HoC.

    The votes cast for the parties is irrelevant in all this.

    However, if you wish to discuss their relevance then only 37% of the voters voted Con. Only 24% voted LD. No one voted Blue/Yellow !

    A coalition of B/Y did not exist before the GE. Therefore one can argue that many of those who voted for a LD to be their MP would not have done so had they known that the LDs would enter coalition with the Cons. That is evident by the collapse in LD support immediately the coalition was formed.

    But I agree that the B/Y coalition gov is valid consitutionally.

  38. @RiN

    “so far all the govt has done is to put labour plans into action”

    Free Schools
    Abolition of the PCTs
    End of Regional Development
    Cancel Welfare to Work
    Restore postcode NHS (removing authority of NICE)
    Child Benefit
    Centralisation of Quangos putting them under political control
    Dogma-driven destruction of public services
    Withdrawal of state support for universities
    Putting MacDonalds and CocaCola in charge of UK food and health policy (seriously).
    26 civil service posts for the Camerons’ personal stylists, haiordressers, photographers etc
    aircraft carriers without aircraft
    social cleansing of central London
    etc etc etc…

    Yeah, exactly what Labour would have done.

  39. Eoin

    “How anyone views it differently completely confounds me I must say.”

    Simple-so they can go on hammering that wedge in.

    It party politics-not constitutional law.

    Good post by the way.

  40. colin,

    It is by definition impossible to have two identical manifestos. If that were the case, they would be the one party.

    Green/Finna Fail form their programme after the elect
    Lib/Lab formed their programme after
    Lab/Plaid formed their programme after
    Sinn Fein/Dup are still working it out
    Schroeder/Merkel figured it out afterwards
    Prodi and his motley crew never got round to figuring it out
    Burlesconi and his crew have recently fallen out over how to proceed
    Howard can give us an update on the Netherlands…
    Vrigilio if was about could explain the mediterrrean countries…

    This is normal.

  41. @ Éoin

    “In changing his mind and enabling the formation of a government which is now implementing the opposite policy – not only on fees but on other basic Lib Dem policies – Clegg has subverted his own election as MP, his party, and the whole UK electoral process. What is the point of parties, what is the point of elections, if the MPs duly elected immediately shape-shift into their political opposites? For this reason, the government has no mandate for its existing programme. But we need to take the argument further: Clegg and the other Lib Dem supporters of the government have cheated the electorate. In these circumstances, civil disobedience is not merely an option for us to consider, but a duty in defence of political rights.”

    Dr Peter Jones writing in the Guardian

    So not only being said on UKPR, then.

  42. Robin

    “Dogma-driven destruction of public services”

    Did you enjoy writing that?

    Nice alliteration.

    Even better hyperbole.

    Somewhat lacking in veracity I feel though ;-)

  43. Any guesses/predictions on tonight’s YouGov poll?
    I’ll go for 39/41/10

  44. mike

    the lib dem support would of collapsed if we went into the rainbow suicide pact

    we were f*cked anyway

    we all knew it as soon as we saw that we were unable to increase our seats and were unable to increase our vote by a significant amount

    such is life

    but we have been achieving miracles for years, so who knows what we might pull out of the hat next

  45. Amber,

    Mandate for programme of gov.
    Mandate to govern

    are two comletely different things…

    Blue/Yellow do not hava mandate for VAT, for 55%- that’s why I go hopping mad at both…

    Essentially one could take the view that if it appeared in Either manfiesto then fine but if it appeared in none then there is no mandate for it.

    But there is a significant gap in the understanding of a mandate.

    some constituional theoriests recognise mandate as a fluid concept… ie.. how large is the mandate? This removes a majoritarian benchmark, and thus quallifies smaller parties to claim they have a mandate. It is this fluid option that Sinn Féin opted for in 1983.

    But I think if you re-read the Lib Dem organ’s comments you will not that Jones challenged the mandate for a policy programme, not to govern.

  46. robin

    i have problems with this computer and the other one is being used by the kids, i will reply in detail later when i’ve got the kids in bed, 12ish

  47. amber

    i voted labour in 97 even though i knew that blair was……….. and then they betrayed me by keeping their promises. i only voted for them because i thought they were lying to get elected

    “we won as nu labour, we will goven as nu labour”

    oi i voted for old labour you pr*ck

  48. @ Éoin

    I don’t think that I said the Coalition had no mandate to govern (you would need to point me to a comment where I said that). I believe what I said throughout is summed up by this comment I made:

    And many of the electorate (could even be a majority) believe that the Coalition do not have a mandate for the policies they are introducing. 8-)

  49. RiN

    “the lib dem support would of collapsed if we went into the rainbow suicide pact”

    No-Gordon said it would be fine-realignment of the left-historic objective-stable government-all getting on fine-no horse deals- Labour prime minister ( again)….mandate to govern.

    It was only Balls that ruined it -wonder why……….? ;-)

  50. @ RIN

    i only voted for them [Nu Labour] because i thought they were lying to get elected
    ROFLOL :-) Priceless.

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