After a week and a half with no polling, the first YouGov poll of 2011 is out. Topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%. These are essentially unchanged since the start of the Christmas holidays (which shouldn’t come as much surprise, after all, there are rarely any vast political events during the Christmas break).

73 Responses to “First YouGov/Sun poll of 2011 – 40/42/8”

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  1. Neil A – good fair analysis.
    It is clear to most people in retrospect that the Labour administration got carried away and over-spent from around 2000-2008.
    The underspending for 97-99 (sticking to Tory plans Ken Clarke says they would have broken) meant that the first period of big Labour spending increases was easily manageable and this fooled many(most) people that these levels of increase where sustainable year on year.
    Had it not been for the financial meltdown the structural current account overspending may not have become apparent until later, perhaps beyond 2010.
    My view is than Labour need to acknowledge to big things in the spending arena. The above that we increased too much some years and secondly we did not get value for money. This is understandable when budgets are increasing the easy thing to do when faced with a problem is to spend, either recruit people or buy equipment or both. In a tighter regimes more cost effective solutions can be found in most cases. This is true in private and public sectors.
    In mitigation of Labour the public services did need extra investment and (as others have said) GB/AD dealt with the banking crisis well and will be credited in 15-20 years to come.
    Finally – it is also clear Labour relied too heavily on tax revenues from the City and did not do enough to promote re-balancing, this is not just a retrospective criticism many people including LP members where saying this at the time.

  2. Jim Jam

    That is the most objective post I have read from the left, for a very long time.

  3. @Colin,

    I agree. I often find that if the partisan “everything we do is right, everything you do is wrong” bulldozer is parked for a bit, and everyone applies their considerable intellects to pragmatic good management, there is a remarkable amount of consensus. Sadly the UK political system (and most around the world) doesn’t lend itself to that approach.

    We are all aiming for a healthy economy, that provides sufficient funds to provide the services we deem necessary for our people, and sufficient economic freedom for those people who can make their own way in the world to do so. There are differences within and between parties about exactly what this or that tax rate should be, exactly how this or that should be managed, or which budgets should be prioritised, but I think 80% of politicians within all the main parties (and yes, OldNat, I include the SNP in that) could probably work very effectively together towards finding optimum solutions.

  4. Neil A/Colin,

    It is still my belief that the pace of the deficit reduction programme announced is too deep too soon and I guess that is why I am left of centre and you guys are right of centre without beiong neo-cons or social conservatives etc.
    I polling terms I do not agree with GO but accept he believes it is right and that his position is credible and I think the Conservatives will get some electoral credit (Like Thatcher did) if they stick to their guns, People like conviction politicians, the odd small U turn on Schools sports etc is insignificant.
    Whatever was in the manifestos and campaign positions we all knew that the conservatives would do what they are doing so I have no democratic compalint.
    This is of course why the LDs are sufferring so much and Clegg in particular, having changed his mind 3-4 weeks before the GE he claims re defefit reduction speed but not saying anything.
    Tory compromises are difficult for the right of their party sometimes but to the general public come across as them being grown up accepting they did not win outright etc.
    Fair or not LD compromises are seen as selling their soul and hypocritical and its source is the big change on the deficit reduction issue.
    Pain distribution (fairness) is where the Coalition (and GO) is most vulnerable in this parliament as even if the macro-economic policy does not pan out as GO expects no-one will ever know what would have happened if Labours slower reduction had been used. I think this is where Labour should be spending most time whilst of course saying they would have gone slower in case the amount off-track is big, double dip etc.

  5. Neil A

    I agree very much with your post.

    I cringe when politicians tout their “values”-I think the most fundamental values about the desirable society are held in common when it comes down to it.

    That’s why I was so encouraged by the formation of the Coalition. Clearly there will be strains at the margin-but if that 80% you refer to is a reality, it should see them through.

    I think the trouble is “party”.

    Its almost as though the LDs who were caught exposing their inner thoughts were being drawn back to something which said to them-we shouldn’t be here.

    I certainly detect a huge difference in approach on blogs -including this one-between party animals ( members/activists/politicians) and the “unaffiliated , but basically orientated” ( if I can put it like that ) like you ( I think?) & me.

    I suppose it is too much to expect “party” to fade, because the funding system needs it-and many obviously need the belonging & the “cause”. But it can produce the most awful intolerance in the blogosphere.

    Danny Finklestein has an interesting piece on AV/PR in today’s Times.

    He argues that pure PR provides less reward for breadth of vision , & encourages clearer definition & difference-therefore more “party”.

    He argues that AV rewards parties for being less disliked-for becoming broader bodies that minimise the antagonism felt towards them-pulling big parties towards the centre.

    So-he concludes-if the AV referendum fails, it might persuade the LibDems that if PR was not available for a generation, it might make them feel that long term coalitions -even mergers are more attractive.

    …..he doesn’t address the question they would have to answer-merger with whom :-)

  6. Another great post JimJam

  7. No Labour government will ever be elected with a manifesto setting out plans to make cuts to government spending. Labour appeals to centre left orientated people who like the state to provide them and their families with a range of what they perceive as ‘core’ services.

    I can’t remember either the Tories or Lib Dems before the election demanding that the government makes cuts in spending and at the election the arguments were very wooly, being mainly about how and who spends the money.

    Even under this coalition, if they manage to make the cuts and obtain planned additional tax revenues, the UK’s debts will increase by hundreds of billions over the next four years.

    The Tories argument is that if the government did not look serious about trying to make cuts, the UK would be down rated and it would cost more to fund the deficit, as we would have to pay more interest. The only problem with this approach is that whilst it may reassure the bond markerts for a period, if the UK economy show poor levels of growth, reduced tax revenues, increased unemployment/higher spending on benefits, rising inflation and other signs of decline, the rating agencies might still downgrade and interest rates on bonds will increase.

    Labours approach which was never really explained in any detail was for the deficit to be tacked over a longer period. This to me made some sense in maintaining some additional government spending, while the banks were still not lending at the level required. Their belief is that is that if you help the economy as much as you can through this difficult period, this will help tackle the deficit more than just looking at cuts/tax measures.

    We will all see if the Tories gamble will really pay off. Trying to move provision of services from state to companies and third sector providers, may not be that easy for various reasons. There is no guarantee this will actually save any money and that consumers will be happy with the way services are provided. As an example there is already some evidence of bed blocking in the NHS caused by local government cuts to care services.

  8. Lots of childish tit-for-tat posts above.

    Truth is never as clear cut as such partisans would have it.

    Labour did well. And badly. The Conservatives before them did well. And badly. And the Coalition are now going down the same route.

    If only parties would be adult enough to learn from their mistakes – and from the successess of their opponents – we could reach a rather more mature situation.

  9. Chris

    The problem is the no government really knows whether what they do will actually work or not. It is just a question of luck with economic cycles and events that are mostly outside of their control.

  10. @R Huckle,

    On the I understand your post at 11.43am, although I may disagree with some of it. But this bit, …I can’t remember either the Tories or Lib Dems before the election demanding that the government makes cuts in spending… is interesting.

    My recollection is that the Tories made it quite clear that they were planning to be austere, and took a lot of political flak for it. Whether they were overconfident of victory, and preparing the ground for government, or whether they thought austerity would be a vote-winner, they announced a range of things from a public sector pay freeze, to the axing of tax credits for the middle classes etc. And ultimately their deficit reduction plan told it’s own story. It was always going to lead to heavy cuts in public spending. Labour pointed this out fulsomely, and the Tories (more or less) admitted it.

    Of course the detail of what would be cut was hazy, I grant you. But that’s just political common sense. After all the government itself didn’t set out it’s own financial plans either, despite being officially in charge of the country’s future.

  11. With the LibDems on 8% and ‘others’ on 10% don’t you think it is time you gave the numbers for UKIP?

  12. @ Chris Todd

    “Lots of childish tit-for-tat posts above.
    Truth is never as clear cut as such partisans would have it.
    Labour did well. And badly. The Conservatives before them did well. And badly. And the Coalition are now going down the same route.
    If only parties would be adult enough to learn from their mistakes – and from the successess of their opponents – we could reach a rather more mature situation.”

    I agree with you, Chris (not for the first time!). Whilst we must guard against blandness, faux impartiality and false bonhomie – for anyone who has passionately held political views, there will always be, and should always be, sharply defined, but courteously put, differences of view – the “my party right or wrong” approach is silly. However, I do believe that political parties are essential elements of a healthy democracy because they marshal views and provide vehicles and organisations for a coherent expression of a certain political philosophy. They needn’t necessarily be monolithic or even dogmatic, but a democracy without political parties is like a Premiership without football clubs; unworkable and ultimately pointless.

    Where things get unnecessarily partisan is when people start cheerleading for parties with the blind loyalty of football supporters, although I have to say that, for the most part, this site is blissfully free of such silliness. However, without our elected representatives, mostly aligned to political parties and trying, not always successfully, to implement the wishes of their electors as best they can, our tireless activists and subscription paying party members, campaigning and footslogging their way around streets at all hours, then our democracy would be more or less dead. Heaven forbid, but we’d then be leaving the field to strident and intolerant siren voices sounding off in empty echo chambers on the blogosphere; mainly anonymous, always unaccountable and usually totally intolerant of views that conflict with their own. Countless “political debating” websites can be found on the net with hundreds of such “Mr Angrys” exchanging their tiresome daily insults.

    Give me a public meeting with real people exchanging views face to face any day and, ironically, that’s what you’ll find most elected party politicians and members, of all parties, doing for an awful lot of their time. Arguing and debating, explaining and listening, clarifying and learning. They deserve rather more respect than we give them, in my view.

  13. @ Neil A

    “…but a democracy without political parties is like a Premiership without football clubs; unworkable and ultimately pointless.”

    Actually, I think our democracy is a lot like the Premiership.

    Lots of teams representing lots of people but only two of them ever win the trophy ;)

  14. @ Neil Hadley

    Sorry, above post was for you

    @ Neil A

    Ignore above

    (captcha was TWNF – two letters out from describing myself)

  15. I am amazed all above have been fooled into believing we live in a democracy. The polls are fixed.
    Have you noticed, since ‘others’ are now more than the [Liberal Democrats] they don’t mention ‘others’ let alone UKIP?

    [All the pollsters show the breakdown for others in the tables on their websites. The small levels of support for minor parties mean that the figures tend to be very erratic, and it’s difficult to read anything into their individual levels of support except after European elections when they normally experience a bounce. You probably want to read the comments policy too – AW]

  16. AW, thanks for your reply. As others are now polling more than the LibDems I think we should have the results of the next biggest. party. Do you know how many UKIP polled?

  17. Polark – 4%. It tends to vary between 3% and 5%.

    Here’s a graph illustrating what I meant about the volatility on minor parties:

  18. @Poldark,

    Most of the “Others” will be Scots and Welsh nationalists etc which can’t be meaningfully tabulated due to the fact that there are not weighted regional cross-breaks (much to OldNat’s constant dismay). Even with the LibDems at a historic low ebb, they are not in danger of being replaced by UKIP or the Greens in third place on the UK political grid.

  19. Neil A – Im fairly sure that UKIP get more votes than the Nationalists due to their standing in several times as many seats

  20. For conformation the order of minor parties in 2010 was:

    English Democrat

  21. OK, I retract “most” and replace it with “a lot of”.

  22. jimjam:

    ‘The underspending for 97-99 (sticking to Tory plans Ken Clarke says they would have broken) meant that the first period of big Labour spending increases was easily manageable’

    In what sense do you mean ‘easily manageable’ – in so far as they were easily absorbed into previous current account shortfalls?

  23. Sam – bit late answering but yes and also due to debt interest and transfer payments being lower than in 97 comfortably affordable.
    As you can see from my value for money paragraph I have learnt that it is not a good idea in general to raise real spending too fast in any area as inefficient use is very likely (have to apply proper inflation to sector to get real increase number of course eg Health and Defence)
    As an aside I think in general the capital programmes have been value for money and even PFI is OK although there are bound some examples of bad capital projects. It is the revenue spending which was insufficiently controlled in many areas when increased significantly imo.

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