Tonight’s YouGov poll has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 45%, LDEM 9% – the Labour lead is back up to double figures.

This particular poll maybe something of an outlier, but even so, the apparent budget boost was certainly very short lived. Perhaps it was just the positive effect of the budget or Libya fading, or perhaps it was cancelled out by the march at the weekend. While the coverage of the march ended up being marred by the violence, it doesn’t mean they didn’t damage the government, in fact the two student protests last year that ended in violence also hit government support – though the poll effect is probably more from the reminder of unpopular policies and opposition to them, than the violence itself!


124 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 35, LAB 45, LDEM 9”

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  1. I don’t think YG have actually reflected any real bounce for the coalition recently in VI terms; there’s definitely been an upswing in approval, but it’s never related to the VI.

  2. The drop in the poll lead was too immediate to have been from the violence in the marches. Normally even large news has a time lag of a few days. It seems more likely it was from either budget, or the success in Libya. Both will have faded as people either realized a) that the budget wasn’t really that helpful as far as petrol was concerned, and b) that the gains in Libya were tenuous (as we have seen tonight).

    I expect to see Labour’s lead hover around the +10% for some time now. The Liberal Democrats have been eroded to the staunchest of the staunch, who won’t leave for hell nor high water, and the Conservative support is holding firm, although I suspect it may be more susceptible to erosion than that of the Liberal Democrats. That’s unlikely to change until a big game-changer comes along. There may be a very mild flow from Con to Lab, but I don’t expect that is really likely to send Labour beyond 46% or so.

  3. I wonder if it is true that Ed Balls is about to announce that Labour will pledge to restore the relative value of the age related income tax allowance when it comes back to power.

    If this becomes Labour policy it’ll be a good strategic move by Labour who need to drive uptheir vote amongst the over 65s.

  4. Maybe I’ll need to eat my words about the usual +6 Lab lead being re-established at the end of the week.

    It seems to me that as soon as the attention shifts to actual cuts (lots on the police cuts this evening) and the effect it will have on the vulnerable (lots about the broken promise on Winter Fuel Payments over the weekend). The Lab lead in VI inexorably rises. Add to that the perceived incompetence when it comes to actually delivering policy and you can see why VI lead slips when attention turns to Libya – there’s not a lot going for the govt at the moment.

    When it is a set piece moment, when the govt can control the news agenda, prepare the public for news, plan for the good announcements they actually get a genuine boost.

    But that also suggests that for a large number of people they still feel far more a sense of anger/betrayal/lack of confidence in the govt rather than a love of Labour.

    All in all this bodes very well for Labour on 5th May, but there does still need to be improvement from them.

  5. Interesting aside – if Lab does maximise it’s vote on 5th May will that boost the chances of AV passing, as EM is campaigning hard for it – or are most Lab voters keener to kick NC and not bothered about AV either way (Amber, TGB any thoughts?).

    And, leaving aside the merits of the systems, which would be in Labs long-term interests anyway? Would the LDs despair if they lost AV and pull the plug (perhaps moving to C & S?) or would the Tories descend into civil war if AV was passed. My hunch is DC has more to fear from losing than Clegg.

  6. Has anybody noticed whether their petrol price has been reduced by a penny yet? None of the garages in my area (Norfolk) have done anything with the price and I include the supermarkets in that. It is maddening.

    I think it may have something to do with the pre-budget polling quickly becoming re-established.

    If it is the case and if nothing happens with prices soon then all GO has done is cost the Exchequer millions while gaining no benefit for anybody (except petrol retailers).

    It doesn’t seem terribly competent.

  7. Were the samples before or after the recent bad economic news?

    1) The very poor balance of trade figures for last quarter, and 2) the ONS revision of growth to -0.5% – yes it is better than -0.6% but would remind people that the economy is declining under the current administration.

  8. Does anyone know when the first estimate of Q1 GDP will come out?

    It seems to have been the pattern recently that the first estimate is over-optimistic, the second estimate is downgraded, and then it is finally upgraded a little.

  9. @AdrianB: in many ways, I get the feeling that the AV referendum will be Miliband’s first big test, his political blooding if you like. From the Labour community (which I am only tenuously part of, I have supported the Liberal Democrats in the past), the majority feeling is apathy, followed by antagonism, with pro-AV trailing in a sorry third place.

    If Labour has a thorough poll lead, and yet AV fails to go through, then Ed Miliband will have failed at exerting his leadership of the party at a very early stage. Such things are difficult to overcome, and it could very well destabilize the Labour leadership.

    If he succeeds, however, it will be an impressive coup de grace. He will have asserted himself as rightful leader, and set about an electoral system which will make Labour victory (if only as minority) nigh-on certainty at the next election, as well as possibly win-over some of the remaining Lib Dems for whom political reform was a sticking point.

  10. Growth 1st Quarter usualy end April – and in time for May elections but after postal votes have gone in.

    Unemployment figures were also recently released, and I doubt if the police cuts are goinf down well

  11. To those who predicted here the budget bounce would last one week…..I bow to your wisdom.

    A very dispiriting poll for the Blues obviously. Time to keep calm and carry on.

  12. @AdrianB – it’s normally around the 21st of the following month, but there hasn’t been any particular pattern of revisions. If you recall, the quarter when we left recession under Labour came out initially as +0.1 and was upgraded twice to +0.3, a similar pattern to the next quarter. They bounce around with no particular pattern.

    The pattern of polls recently has been interesting and certainly adds weight to the argument that set piece events and big foreign stories tend to deflect from domestic bad news. I think there is something in the idea that the petrol price cut was over hyped. Osborne was desperately (and quite correctly) trying to flag up that the cut in duty actually amounted to 6p a litre – a useful amount. But announcing a cut of a rise that would have happened in the future isn’t really a cut, and 1p off when you’re paying £1.40 just doesn’t do it, even if you actually see the cut.

    Over hyped – the curse of the modern politician.

  13. An average YouGov for March is looking something like:

    Con 35.5%, Lab 43%, LD 10%.

  14. Thought that Cameron was pretty poor at PMQ’s today, so Labour should continue a 6%+ lead for a few weeks, but perhaps not as much as 10%.

    Cameron admitted tha tthere would be a reduction in frontline Policing, without actually saying so. Typical politicians answer about it depending on the efficiency savings made, which was up to the Police.

    Then there was the issue of student tuition fees, with 80% of universities wanting to charge £9k a year. Cameron basically did not answer at all. During the passage of the bill though parliament, Cameron had promised that £9k would the exception and not the rule. Another broken promise which will not go down well with Lib Dems.

    As for fuel prices, I think the 1p fuel duty reduction will backfire, as petrol is predicted to increase to £1.50 a litre by the Easter break. If that happens the Tories could be hitting below 30% in the polls. Such high prices will have a massive affect on the economy and make the situation worse for families already struggling. While this may not be the fault of the Tories, the government of the day will always get the blame. I have discounted any affect on the Lib Dems, as I think their polling is at its lowest level.

  15. If the petrol prices don’t go down it makes the government look rather out of control of events. It is perhaps not surprising that the average floater doesn’t have a lot of reasons to back the incumbents right now; one could easily say that this situation with petrol prices shows in microcosm what is being shown elsewhere in macrocosm, and just repeating the mantra about the mess left by Labour will start to grate if carried on ad infinitum. People will start to think “yeah, but you’ve made your own mess now”.

  16. As a Labour Councillor I will not be voting for AV I didnot vote for Ed and Im not to worried about how it will effect him.

  17. I think 45% might be Labour’s ceiling at the moment – the situation isn’t the same as for Blair’s 55%+.

    If the Conservatives go down, I reckon it will be UKIP who benefit – we’ll see if they make any progress in the local elections soon. Saying that, 45% would easily win any of the last 10 elections.

  18. This is about the news agenda switching to cuts again, thanks to Libya story getting a bit tired, and the demo and the police cuts coming to the fore.

    It is very likely in my view that, unless distractions like Libya come up, the drip drip of cuts news all year long should keep the Labour lead reasonably healthy. In a way I think that’s intentional by the government. A year of bad news now, some scope for good news later.

  19. I’m surprised how quickly Labour has re-established a double digit lead because I thought the coalition may have regained some control of the domestic political agenda over the last few weeks and, while I thought Labour were still ahead, I thought the gap may have closed more than tonight’s poll suggests. Even allowing for MOE, and the recent ICM poll showing a narrow Tory lead, for Labour to be on 45% and 10% ahead does indicate a significant shift away from the coalition over the last few days.

    What may lie behind it? The budget was a damp squib and some of the sweeteners have already unravelled and Libya is proving a morass littered with potential elephant traps. What positive effects these two items initially had on the coalition’s popularity have quickly abated and we seem to be back to pubic spending cuts dominating the agenda again. The weekend March and rally seems to have benefited Labour despite the potential damage, predicted by some, arising from Miliband’s controversial appearance and the sporadic violence on the fringes. It would appear the positives very much outweighed the negatives and, if I was a member of the Coalition, I’d be worried about the prospect of many more such public demonstrations of anger and dissent. It would be unwise of them to belittle or underestimate the impact they can have on public opinion.

    A personal observation on the debate now raging on public expenditure and the effect of the cuts now being implemented. I had a “Denis Potter” moment early this morning when I was listening to the Today programme on Radio 4. I call it a “Denis Potter” moment because I remember how moved and inspired I was when I heard him articulating and espousing views that were so close to mine but doing it so much more cogently and powerfully than ever I could. Potter had that effect when I heard him give that now famous interview, as a dying man, with Melvyn Bragg. This morning I heard an author called Zadie Smith giving a five minute lecture defending public libraries and their liberating and empowering place in the educational development of many people, like her, from underprivileged and poor backgrounds. She mourned the forthcoming closures of many of them, citing how they had enriched her young life, and expanded her argument to champion the enduring case for the state as an enabler and liberator. Moving and inspirational and far and away more convincing than anything I’ve heard from a senior Labour politician since, well, as long as I can remember.

  20. Anthony,

    Your end of year review of Labour predicted this. Well done

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8c874c1a-5b07-11e0-a290-00144feab49a.html#axzz1I7neGC7I

  21. @Anthony Wells.
    I agree entirely with your perception of the causes of the widening of the Labour lead, set out in the final sentence of your thread.

    Looking ahead, it seems reasonable to expect this renewed focus on cuts and their impact to continue and perhaps intensify a bit throughout April, in the run up to the local and devolved elections.

    Irrespective of media focus, do not underestimate the impact on polls as the high level budget decisions by public sector organisations, local and national, filters through to specific decisions on where exactly cuts are to fall. Only some time later do those decisions start to affect the lives of those using and providing such services.

    So I’ll stick my neck out and suggest that the reestablished Lab > ATTAD outcome will now become the norm rather than the exception up to May.

  22. @Neil A.
    I posted above without reading your contribution. Interesting that from different sides of the political spectrum we’re essentially making the same prediction (drip drip etc…)

  23. Interesting also that the Lab poll share has already matched its peak so far of 45% even though net government (dis)approval at -26% has yet to reach its low point to date of -30%.

  24. I think its petrol, petrol and petrol…

  25. Totally unsurprising and utterly predictable.

    Some of us- along with AW- had commented on the inexorable certainty that something like this would happen (mainly because it always seems to other than in truly momentous contexts). I’d suggested waiting for Wednesday night though I’d not anticipated that by then we’d be back to 45 and double digits…!!!

    Come *ON* that 46 and highest EVER Labour YG score in their history- now that would be significant….

    It’s just a shame that the usual suspects last week could not resist it and were calling Osborne a genius….oh well.

    “Nuff said”

    ;-)

  26. (Off thread)
    An observation for anyone thinking of making an alternative financial investment.

    Going back to the previous discussion on the Scottish polls, it’s noticable that the betting odds have moved appreciably towards the SNP since the recent TNS and YouGov polls came out, both in terms of who wins most seats (even though the SNP are still second favourites) and also in terms of the constituency markets offered by V Chandler.

    However, it was also noticable that the betting markets took well into the next day (at least) to react to the TNS poll – presumably the bookies don’t stay up into the early hours adjusting the odds and react more to the trend of actual bets placed the next day. This is not the first time that I’ve noticed a slowness on the part of the bookmakers to respond to apparent game changing polls. Likewise, a few weeks ago, they were also slow to react to a poll showing Fianna Fail reaching a particular low point in the run up to the Irish GE, so odds on FF getting below a certain number of seats started to appear very attractive indeed (as was born out by events).

    So to make a general point, the handful of those of us insomniacs who make a point of tuning in for the latest polls seem to be in a position to take advantage of any late night polls significant enough to eventually change the odds, should we be inclined to play the online political betting markets. At the very least, such relatively privileged information must go some way to countering the advantages the bookies build in to their odds.

    Night all.

  27. Um…is this for real? Perhaps it’s an example of life imitating art. Or art imitating life. I’m not quite sure.

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2011/mar/30/davidcameron-arnold-schwarzenegger

  28. Well done for correctly predicting the short term nature of the Budget bounce. Even more short term than usual because of the basically ‘static’ do nothing Budget Osborne enacted.

    Agree that the violence of a few never overshadows the impact of a big public display against Gov. policies. Those hundreds of thousands went home and spread the message of the march to friends and family more deeply than a news cycle of massed fleet street photographers surrounding anarchists and eagerly snapping their window smashing antics.

    I would however caution those who underestimate how important and how fast Libya will turn from a small positive to a big negative on the Lib Dem and Conservative polling. The public really weren’t happy about this with even the supporters having big reservations. Polling on Libya will swing to big negatives relatively fast. The public has been primed by Iraq and Afghanistan to see mission creep and and endless quagmire when no quick victory is forthcoming.
    Those remaining Lib Dem voters in particular will be becoming very nervous about new developments, such as arming Libyan rebels, and that may put further pressure on their already low poll numbers.

  29. @ALEC -Revision of GDP

    About 4 years ago the Radio 4 programme about Stats (can’t recall the exact name) made the statement that they way GDP in the UK and US were calculated meant that UK figures were “always” revised up and US figures revised down from the initial estimates. This was due to the methodology used.

    Until very recently I have noticed this has been true

  30. ICM is doing something entirely different from YouGov. They can’t both be right; it is very unlikely that the difference is due to statistical variation. It surprises me that, after years of experience of polling, there can still be such huge differences.

    I’d like to see the ‘others’ – particularly when the Liberals are on 9 percent, some parties in the ‘others’ can’t be far behind.

  31. @ Top Hat

    Isn’t AV a free vote across parties or have I missed something here?

  32. Cameron doesn’t seem very good at details

  33. @Rob S

    “It’s just a shame that the usual suspects last week could not resist it and were calling Osborne a genius….oh well.

    “Nuff said” ”

    I thought the ICM poll showing a 1% Tory lead was telling us that Labour would “definitely lose the next General Election”. Are you suggesting that we should now question the self-appointed oracles on these pages? If so, where are we to go now for our eternal verities and inviolable laws of psephology?

    Must we now question all that we took to be certain and, therefore, must we also accept that politics is, by its very nature, an inexact and unpredictable science?

    And there was I, poring over the 1983 General Election results, rather like a fortune-teller studying the tea leaves, so that I could tell, and then assert beyond any doubt, what was going to happen in May 2015.

    Rob, you’ve questioned my faith!!lol

  34. I think the other thing about the cuts demos, which many people chose to ignore with the violence, was that how many people were NOT like the usual people at a TUC march (much like the Anti-Iraq War March). For much of the day, focus was on doctors, police, nurses, librarians, teachers etc. marching against the cuts.

    I wonder whether that brought home to people how widespread the nature of the cuts are going to be (irrespctive of whose fault you think it is).

    On the Nick Robinson blog comments, some of the right wing comments were quite frankly disgusting, calling public servants parasites on ordinary tax-payers (I’m sure public servants pay tax like everyone else – my wife certainly does!).

    I think for many (although I would love to see polling on this) they are beginning to realise that these “parasites” are the people who police their streets, teach their children, look after their elderly relatives and serve them in libraries. And that actually public servants are just that – people who serve the public for often a fraction of the salary that they could command in other professions.

  35. AV is a free vote for Labour members and MPs. The party is not allowed to campaign formally for either side of the referendum, and neither outcome will reflect particularly on EM, who has made a personal decision, though he might pick up some reflected glory from a win for AV (even if largely from the absence of NC!). But a defeat will damage the Lib Dems and NC so much more that any disagreements within Labour (and the membership is split down the middle – largely because of hostility to the Lib Dems) will barely register.

  36. Adrian B : My experience tells me that Labour support is fairly evenly split on the AV issue. Therefore, higher Labour turnout is unlikely to shift the result.

    I suspect that there are Tory supporters for whom an element of disillusionment is setting in, and these may stay at home on May 5th. This will affect the outcome of the referendum.

  37. @Crossbat11 – “… a five minute lecture defending public libraries and their liberating and empowering place”

    Zadie sounded all the more coherent because she was up against Shaun Bailey (less than convincing in his set of arguments for letting libraies close).

    Here is a poem by Bernard Kops:

    h
    ttp://www.ideastore.co.uk/en/articles/whitechapel_library_aldgate_east

  38. @keithP

    I think you are off the mark on 45 as Labour ceiling on VI – Labour has acquired 12% of the electorate by default because of lib-dem going into coalition. I think 4-5 % of Tory vote could switch to Labour – these are previous Labour voters up to 2001 and 2005 largely. When the tories hit mid-twenties then that vote will be UKIP’s . I could also see 2-3 % more seepage from Lib-dems as cuts bite and economy stagnates over next two years.

    Mid 2012 could be something close to Labour 50, Tories 24 UKIP13 Libs 6 on VI – that will be the genuine mid-term effect kicking in.

    In terms of actual voting in 2015 I think 45 is close to Labour ceiling – but it should be plenty!

  39. @Adrian B

    “I think for many (although I would love to see polling on this) they are beginning to realise that these “parasites” are the people who police their streets, teach their children, look after their elderly relatives and serve them in libraries. And that actually public servants are just that – people who serve the public for often a fraction of the salary that they could command in other professions.”

    I think, like the Zadie Smith lecture I referred to in an earlier post, you go to the very heart of why what’s happening now is so potentially toxic for the Coalition. Right wing demonology would have us believe that taxpayers money is being poured down the throats of rapacious quangos, benefit cheats, single mothers, the workshy and illegal immigrants, and the media continually serve us up with such isolated anecdotes to further fuel the mythology. However, as you rightly say, the planned cuts in public spending, yet to be truly felt and seen, threaten the very essence of what a good society really means.

    Of course, the task for this broadening alliance of opponents to the cuts is to develop and articulate the alternative to the course the Coalition is currently pursuing. This will require radical new thinking and the willingness to confront powerful vested interests, global corporations and economic orthodoxy. I think it is beholden on the Labour leadership to head this alliance and give it voice and intellectual cohesion. A massive challenge, and one they’ve yet to rise to, but what an extraordinary political opportunity awaits them as they view a centre left landscape deserted by the Lib Dems and now essentialy all theirs to occupy.

  40. We all need to calm down a little . As much as we all think we can read the tea leaves to predict the future any cupps mad this year will be very dry and unreadable by 2015.

    The only way that the current set of polls will mave any importance is if the AV vote is lost and the Lib Dem calculate that thee is no godd reason to stay in their pact with the devil, resulting in an early election. I can not see this happening as NC has too much to loose.

    So lets all have a cup of tea and throw the tea leaves away.

    Having said all of that I will still be trying to read them LOL

  41. Crossbat

    You may dream of a socialist utopia lasting 1000 years but one thing is absolutely certain in Britain. The blues will eventually be kicked out and the reds will be in power once again. Then they will be kicked out and the blues will be in power. Ever has it been thus.

    The terms served by either party will be 1 or 2, or maybe 3 if another Thatcher/Blair figure comes to the fore. Are DC or EM in that mould? DC has 4 years to prove it. EM may, or may not get his chance depending on what DC does in the next 4 years.

    Just to correct an earlier post by somebody. The 4th quarter GDP figures were changed from -0.7% to -0.5%. That is an upward revision not down.

  42. Three factors IMO were recently and are now affecting VI…

    – Libya – DC and the Cons/gov enjoyed a bounce as joe public agreed wiht the need to prevent a bloodbath. Joe public doesn’t now like the way things are going.

    – Budget 2011…It’s plan A and more of the same…and a pointless/wasted 1p cut.

    – The march last saturday – Everyone can associate with the vast majority of those who took to the streets. More of these and gov will be struggling IMO.

    As I posted on UKPR at the time of the student protests last year any demo/protest by ‘normal’ people damages the gov.

  43. I see EM has confirmed that their policy is still to “halve the deficit in four years”.

    It is interesting to contemplate what this actually means , after the last Budget & OBR forecasts.

    The most noteable feature in the Budget was the downgrading of forecasts for growth-essentlially pushing expectations back by a year. TheBudget Red Book therefore showed slippage on the 2010 Budget deficit reduction plan .

    The 2010 Red Book forecast a deficit reduction from the (then) forecast for 2010/11 of £ 149bn to £37 bn in 2014/15

    The 2011 Red Book forecasts a deficit reduction from the (current) forecast for 2010/11 of £146bn to £46bn in 2014/15

    So if EM is sticking to “halving over four years” he is forecasting a 2014/15 deficit of £73bn.

    This is just £27bn more than the Government -after four years. On the assumption that this fiscal loosening will be in the proposed spending cuts programme which EM criticises so vehemently, that means £27 bn pa less in cuts after four years.

    That figure represents around 1% of average total government spending in each of those four years, and 3.5% of government spending for 2014/15

    This begins to look more like a storm in a teacup with every month that passes.

    I do wish GO-or someone would start to explain this.

  44. I’m not surprised by the return to ‘business as usual’ in these last few polls. Equally predictable was the failure of the disturbances associated with Saturday’s march to make the populace abandon Labour as balaclava-wearers in all but name – quite the opposite, indeed. Oddly I haven’t seen any explanation of this failure from those who were rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of Labour’s fall.

    But equally odd is the sang froid of Labour supporters towards the dip in support last week. Even if you discount the extremely anomalous ICM poll, the fragility of the Labour lead should be a worry to them. However there still seems to be a major tendency in Labour to believe the best policy is sit back, let the electorate come back to Mummy in four years time, and then take your turn in the seats of power.

    One poll that hasn’t been much commented on here is the Sun one about last Saturday’s protests.

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-protestmarch-290311_0.pdf

    It gives an interesting insight into line that the Murdoch press would like to take against Labour and Miliband in particular (heavily moderated by YouGov to make the questions as neutral as possible). The results show that there is much confusion over what Labour is actually advocating and some vulnerability with regard to Ed Miliband’s leadership which is still an unknown quantity for many.

    Of course part of the latter problem is that he was not given the usual honeymoon period by the Westminster charmed circle. Partly because his victory showed them all to be wrong (except for our own Dear Leader) and partly because he as seen as a possible threat to the current cosy consensus of how and for whom Britain should be run. From day one, his coverage in the media has therefore ranged from the condescending to the virulent and this must have affected his ratings.

    But he has also failed to put forward a coherent policy towards government spending and income. This may not be his fault. He has no credible figure to appoint as Shadow Chancellor and much of his Party is attached to a policy of cuts from the previous government which is not much different from that of the current one. Putting forward policies in such circumstances could literally be more trouble than it’s worth.

    Without such credible policies, however, Labour cannot really retain a firm hold on the electorate. To oppose nearly every cut, but not say what you would do instead doesn’t convince. If people are beginning to realise that vital services are to be lost, saying that Labour would cut them in two years rather than one will not reassure. In the end “vote for us, we’re almost the same as the other lot, but not quite as bad, honest” is not an election-winning slogan.

  45. @Robert Newark – “Just to correct an earlier post by somebody. The 4th quarter GDP figures were changed from -0.7% to -0.5%. That is an upward revision not down.”

    No they weren’t – they started at -0.5%, were revised down to -0.6% and have just bee revised back up to
    -0.5%, but what’s 0.1% between friends?

    Interesting comments above regarding the views on public sector workers (‘parasites’) and poll movements. I think there is something in this, in the sense that media cannot hold a story for very long and eventually the general tone of news stories has to change.

    A good example is the Japanese nuclear disaster. In the early days, when the radiation leaks were minimal, it was no. 1 story for a week, with very little of real information to report and no serious consequences yet evident, despite the best efforts of the news media to make it look so.

    Now we have a real nuclear disaster, with an actual meltdown and relatively huge and uncontrolled radiation leakage, yet the story is fifth or sixth on the news bulletins.

    I think something similar has been happening with the public sector cuts, with the press largely buying the line from both main parties during the election that efficiency savings would mean painless cuts, then mostly taking on board the Tory agenda of the ‘bloated public sector’ and ‘fat cat council bosses’ etc, but now they need a new focus and its tending towards front line cuts.

    Pretty much alone amongst the media outlets, the BBC has explored the debate from all sides throughout, which is why they have been criticised by the right for suggestions months ago that front line posts would have to go, while also being criticised by the left for talking about savings.

    Presumably tomorrow will see large numbers of ordinary people heading down to their local dole office. We are now entering the crucial period of the cuts and it will be interesting to see whether the media sides with the government over who is to blame for the depth and impact of the cuts. The next GDP figures will also be critical – if they are negative I think this would be a disaster for Cameron. One city forecast yesterday had them at +0.7%, although this was the same forecaster that had them at +0.3% in Q4. Others are saying it’s much tighter.

  46. I think broadly the Conservatives true figure is currently around 35% and Labour 45%

    what we may see in the coming months is Conservatives struggling to get over 35 and Labour unlikely to drop much below 45.

    I think the problem Labour has is to prove what it would do differently from the Conservatives at the moment. They need to outline clearly how they would not cut as deeply as Conservatives are doing.

  47. @colin – I was interested in how the budget numbers affect Osborne’s claim to eliminate the structural deficit in 5 years. Given that growth is now lower with a further loss of long term capacity adding £11b to the annual deficit, I’m has assumed that this means that the structural deficit has just risen by £11b a year.

    I didn’t watch the budget so I don’t know if Ossie mentioned the structural element of the deficit, nor have I the time to read the Red Book, but I wondered if you had any insights on this?

    My long held suspicion is that Osborne’s structural deficit is in the same mould as Brown’s Golden Rule – ie invented and defined within No 11 Downing Street.

  48. @Roger M

    I think it’s wholly appropriate for Labour to give themselves 12-18 months from May 2010 (their second worst ever defeat courtesy if Gordon) in order to complete a full policy reflection and agenda-creation cycle.

    This also has the tactically political positive externality of leaving the Tories to “do their worst” unimpeded by any Murdoch press diatribes against them.

    People arguing for a detailed policy platform er, yesterday, either were not around or cannot remember the 1980’s and that decades lessons.

    I am looking forward to the major public event next year, that will be the policy review announcement.

  49. Off topic, but an interesting bit of research around the impact of polls on public opinion: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/31/worm_of_evil/

    It appears that real time polling of the leadership debate has a direct impact on voting intentions… I guess the same could be said of any poll

  50. I don’t understand this idea that Labour has no credible alternative. They may be struggling to find a way to express it clearly however. Their position seems to be that they do not deny there are financial problems to solve due to an international financial crisis. These problems are serious. They require us to make savings. However the savings must be made in a considered manner that will enable growth to occur and contribute to both deficit reduction and support for new employment. They do not favour front loading the savings as this will risk unbalancing the economy further and defeating any chance of recovery.

    The papers and commentators seem intent on making this into a battle between ‘cuts’ and ‘no cuts’. Labour should be making the case that their cuts would allow change to occur both on the individual and society level at a pace which would cause less hardship and more chance of recovery.

    Clever cuts not any cuts would seem to be the order of the day.

    Finding a simple way to get through to the public and media seems to be the problem but ‘there is an alternative’ seems to be the first part of a long term strategy on this.

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