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. @Colin
    Your analysis is unduly oversimplified and as such does not reflect what Balls has been saying. Contrary to you and others above, I regard the thrust of the economic alternative being put forward by Miliband and Balls to be quite coherent.

    You cannot compare government spending with a static level of government income, unless you buy into the argument that growth under a Labour-led government in 2010 and 2011 would have been no difference to that we are now experiencing, or alternatively that you buy the neo-con argument that the economy will somehow recover much faster from a lower base once the public sector has been decimated by front loaded cuts at this pace. You must do, but Balls does not, and that is why you are misrepresenting what he is saying.

    Balls argues that his growth-led approach to cutting the deficit would have relied on a slower pace of cuts allowing economic recovery to continue in 2010 and 2011 and thus generating a greater level of ongoing government revenue from a higher economic base. Against this higher revenue base the scale of cuts necessary to halve the deficit would be very much smaller than the figures you give above.

    As the OBR has already revised down its growth forecasts by the best part of 1% since last summer, due to the nascent economic recovery apparent then having been stopped in its tracks, Balls’ approach seems to me to have been born out by events so far.

  2. @ Colin,

    I think the argument that could be used on the “halving of the deficit” rather than “eliminating the deficit” discussion, is that Labour are claiming that growth would not have stalled and gone into reverse if:
    1/ the cuts had been smaller in these first two years, and 2/ if they were fewer in number.

    It’s a pretty well accepted and established economic rule that if people are hearing “cuts, cutbacks, job losses” they then retrench their spending out of fear (even though it may not have any bearing on them or their job). I think there is growing belief (although I think the numbers still suggest more people blame Lab) that the current slippage in growth has been because of the coaltion’s cuts agenda (in terms of speed at any rate).

    I think this is the nub of the argument – the illustration of getting the patient out of intensive care first before then taking off the life-support. EM could plausibly say “If you’d stuck with our timetable this would never have happened” (which of course is impossible to prove either way). That’s why I think Q1 will be interesting – my father-in-law, who describes himself as a hard-right Tory (he’s a councillor) says the test of whether GO’s plan is right is whether it results in recession or not (although I would argue that you could still avoid recession but produce stagnant growth for 10 years and that still wouldn’t be a great result either).

  3. @Colin

    LOL. Are you seriously trying to dress up the failure of Tory economic policy so that it looks like Labour’s alternative?

    There are two ways to try to eliminate the deficit. Reduce expenditure or increase income. The Tory approach is almost entirely the former, but at the same time they are stunting growth (they’ve already managed to cut 0.6% off projected growth for 2011), meaning that income is smaller than would otherwise be the case, and benefit expenditure is higher. The Labour approach is to emphasise growth as the means of cutting the deficit, so that the reductions in spending necessary to reduce the deficit are much smaller.

    It may well be that the Tories only achieve the reduction in the deficit that Labour were planning, but the impact on growth and society will be utterly different. Just look at Ireland. Every time they make cuts, their economy gets even worse, cancelling out the effect of the cuts. That’s the path we’re headed down, albeit (hopefully) not quite so catastrophically.

    And of course, if the Tories fail to eliminate the deficit, then their prospects for the next election are dire indeed.

  4. ALEC

    Looking ahead to the first quarter figures I think anything at or below 0.6% will be dire for Cameron/Osborne, anything between 0.6% and 1.1% will be just about manageable in PR terms and anything over 1.1% and they’ll be purring!

    The underlying argument that the deficit reduction strategy is reducing economic activity so much that it results in an increase in the structural deficit is likely to be something we hear more about when the ist quarter figures ar released and i expect Ed balls to make a good fist of explaining something quite complex in a way we can all understand.

  5. Alec

    I think he did mention it -if only to say that OBR still confirmed that the SD would be eliminated by end Parliament.

    What this means is that OBR consider the slippage in deficit forecast to be cyclical.

    That seems reasonable to me -it is clearly the result of that growth downgrade for 2011/12

    As I said Alec-the 2014/15 Deficit forecast grew by £9bn ( 37 to 46). and total borrowing at end 2014/15 grew by £30bn ( 1284 to 1314 )

    For me the key thing is-when does total debt as % of GDP start coming down. in Budget 2010 that was in 2014/15. In Budget 2011 it is in 2015/16.

    In Eds plan it will still be rising well into the next Parliament.

    I think this is a huge weakness to be exploited-but no one seems interested :-)

    If I was GO I would engineer a bond market assessment of EM’s ( AD’s) plan in the current context.

  6. The Sheep,

    Useful data :) will store for a rainy day. Thanks.

  7. PHIL

    “Balls argues that his growth-led approach to cutting the deficit would have relied on a slower pace of cuts allowing economic recovery to continue in 2010 and 2011 and thus generating a greater level of ongoing government revenue from a higher economic base. Against this higher revenue base the scale of cuts necessary to halve the deficit would be very much smaller than the figures you give above. ”

    Yes-I appreciate that-though he has yet to explain how this would work. There are consequences of pushing up debt-higher interest bills for one-higher interest rates are a distinct possibility, & would impact the whole government spend plan.

    Also-which release of expenditure exactly will trigger better growth?

    These are arguments which will not be resolved with certainty.

    ADRIAN B

    Clearly the reduction in spending power is impacting domestic consumption.

    But increasing government spending/ debt/interest to put more post tax income into the hands of public sector workers is not universally accepted as a magic bullet for an economy which needs to shift from debt fuelled consumption, to exports & investment.

    ROBIN

    “The Labour approach is to emphasise growth ”

    Emphasise away-its making it happen which we need. :-)

  8. @Alec, @Clare, @Adrian B, @Robin, @David B
    I suspect that AW will sometime soon issue a perfectly reasonable missive to the effect that comments should get back to concentrating on polling matters.

    To try and do so, given that we all appear to have responded independently of one another to much the same effect, does our own straw poll not suggest that there might be a wider body of public opinion out there that rejects the Government claim that cuts under Miliband/Balls would have been almost as deep as those that Osborne is now putting into effect?

  9. @Roger Mexico – “… the dip in [Labour] support last week.”

    Discounting ICM, there was the singular YouGov/Sunday Times:

    Con 38%, Lab 41%, LD 11%

    Conservatives have not hit 39% since the first day of February, and 38% can be seen as the upper limit atm (lower limit 33%).

    Labour have not been at 40% since mid December 2010, and 41% can be seem as their lower limit atm (upper limit 45%).

  10. There is no reason why a copus mentus adult need fret about the direction the polls are taken. Why?

    Well Anthony on the right hand side of the web page has them plotted into a graph. I’ll provide the link.

    Generally, you wont go to far wrong if you refer to this from time to time

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention

  11. ROBIN

    ” That’s the path we’re headed down, albeit (hopefully) not quite so catastrophically.”

    Don’t think so.

    RoI had a mad credit fuelled binge on real estate construction.

    They built more houses than they needed, because credit was avalable.

    They now have a country full of half finished housing estates, and empty office blocks.

    Wwe don’t have enough houses.

    Our bubble went into house prices…..and cheap imported consumables.

    OUr house prices needed to come down & we needed to curtail our imports & start exporting.

  12. @Colin
    Ultimately it depends on whether or not you accept Keynes view that economic activity is more sensitive to fiscal than monetary stimuli, particularly when interest rates are very low.

  13. PHIL

    Ultimately it depends on whether GO can start bringing Borrowing to GDP ratio down whilst growing the private sector economy.

    If he can’t Ed & Ed will be putting their ideas into action.

  14. I think the big (and barely mentioned) story is the figures for personal debt.

    In order to get the economy growing again, GO and the OBR expect you and me to start borrowing heavily again to finance a retail spending boom.

    Not sure how likely that is.

  15. I do note that the common theme amongst the collapsing economies, has been the governments attempting accelerated austerity measures. Intending to get their deficits reduced as fast as possible instead creating a sudden drop in economic productivity, which fed back into reduced taxes, which meant increased deficits rather than reduced ones.

    It has been mentioned several times here that the Conservative plan is to get the cuts out of the way first, so they can have a year or so of good times before the election. Hence the strong top-loading of the cuts. But the problem is that it *does* come with huge risks.

    The biggest one is that we end up with a “Jobless Recovery” if the private sector doesn’t increase it’s hiring to take on those from the ‘public sector’. And of course, when you cut ‘public sector’ jobs, you also end up destroying the viability of a lot of private sector jobs. Public sector offices buy a lot of sandwiches. There was a reason why public sector offices were moved to depressed areas, because there was a doubling effect of the public sector wages ending up going into the local private sector economy.

    So far, the “Growth Plan” from Osborne has been to revive the 1980s idea of Enterprise zones, and talk about ‘freeing up the Private sector’ which basically means nothing economically.

    The economic growth at the moment, *before* the bulk of cuts start, is pretty weak and febrile. I am somewhat worried by the continuing talk that there is no ‘Plan B’ and front loaded austerity is the only plan Government has. (Shades of Rumsfeld there.) I’m also concerned about dismissal of the economic downturn over the winter as ’caused by the weather’, as it seems to ignore that we’re dangerously at risk to economic shocks from these kinds of events. Isn’t the rational reaction to a bad winter causing problems, to be ready for the next winter?

  16. JOHN RUDDY

    ” GO and the OBR expect you and me to start borrowing heavily again to finance a retail spending boom.”

    As far as GO is concerned I would have thought that all the evidence points to an effort to rebalance growth away from credit fuelled domestic consumption.

    So far as OBR are concerned I would be interested in your source for your contention.

    In the OBR section of the 2011 Red Book ( at p93) they show savings ratio static after a fall from last year to this year.

  17. @AW – Incidentally, clicking on Poll Graphs/YouGov links to:

    h
    ttp://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/31

    which is a blog archive for Sept 11 2005 about Brown/Davis/Clarke (?)

  18. Billy Bob – mystery to me why that was happening! I’ve republished the page and it seems to be working happily again.

  19. Excellent speedy work!

  20. PHIL

    People may not understand the nuanced arguments around the structural deficit and whether or not the national debt rises and falls as a percentage of GDP but they are increasingly feeling that there must be a better way and , therefore,that there is an alternative.

    If you talk to people these days they are liable to say that cuts to day centres, volunteer centres and similar which are curently being highlighted in the local media in virtually all parts of the country are simply going to increase costs somewhere else in the public sector (NHS for instance) or lead to even greater expense in a few years time when hopefully the country can reinstate these services.

    Surprisingly, people have also said to me that they would be prepared to pay higher personal taxes if it would mean lower unemployment and fewer cuts as long as they could be provided with evidence that increased personal taxation was being applied fairly with the most affluent bearing their full share – I assume the ‘most affluent’ relates to people with over £150,000 a year and bankers who get bonuses!

    Most people aren’t economists but neither are they fools and I think that the increasing disillusion and despair being directed at the Coalition is being reflected in a 10 point lead for Labour. I am going to do my best to contribute to the policy review (Peter Hain has just sent round a consultation paper) and whilst I quite understand why EM doesn’t want to overdo the policy pronouncements whilst the review is taking place on the deficit issue he and EB need to talk clearly and simply about the alternatives o the current deficit reduction strategy ncluding the alternatives to the 20% VAT rate which many see as an additional tax on the poor.

  21. Billy Bob – the drop in the Labour lead to 3% was preceded by one of 4%, so there was a bit of a dip for some reason. This was probably due to the concentration on Libya, a topic where the polls showed not much Party difference (and most of that likely to be for partisan reasons), so it emphasised the fragility of Labour’s lead.

    I have long maintained that this is due to the Conservatives main selling point – the idea that getting rid of the deficit is ‘necessary’. This is still held by a majority of voters, whatever disagreements they might have with the actual methods or timetable of the reduction – see here for example:

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-results-210311.pdf

    Unless Labour can re-frame the question of what to do about the economy in different terms that this, then voters will always tend to go back to the Conservatives because they feel they in the end they are doing the right thing – even if they don’t agree with all the details.

    If, however, they can convince the public that the policies of the government are ideologically driven, with the aim of a smaller state, or privatisation or corporatisation or benefiting the rich, all but the most hard-core of Tories will abandon them. And incidentally the Lib Dems will have to as well.

    But to do that Labour has to put forward a narrative that transforms the ‘necessity’ of getting rid of the deficit into one of how best to manage the economy. The very fact that commenters explaining Labour’s policies above come up with different things shows that there isn’t one. Colin claims there is effectively little difference between them and the Tories’ policies; Rob Sheffield says they don’t and shouldn’t exist; Clare advocates ‘clever cuts’; Phil and Robin a ‘growth-led’ approach; Adrian B promotes ‘halving the deficit’.

    All these policies may or may not have their good points or be compatible – the point is there is no coherent whole.

  22. @ Phil,

    Thanks for the warning (are you the third ref or something!) :-)

    I am simply giving qualititative polling information!! :-)

    Actually, I do try and preface a few things I say by “Does anyone have any polling on this?” – helps to keep me out of trouble!

  23. @John Ruddy

    Wow. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops. How is the government eliminating the deficit? By *privatising* it. This is no more than a transfer of government debt to private individuals, to the tune of more than £0.5trillion over 5 years.

    In the process, of course, the banks will get fat. Compared to private individuals, government pays a very small rate of interest.

  24. @DavidB – I think a salient point with regards to polling in regard to the deficit and taxation issues that will gradually emerge is the issue of tax avoidance and the tax base. I think the public is ahead of politcal parties on this, and the stepping up of the attempts in the press to paint UK Uncut as a bunch of violent revolutionaries suggests that there is concern that they might be hitting a raw nerve.

    When even the IMF and the Financial Times start to call for globally coordinated action to tackle the abuse of national tax juristictions by the super rich, you know there must be a problem. Labour’s record on this is somewhere between bad to appalling, so far Osborne’s is even worse.

    The race to the bottom with respect to taxation rates and compliance with the misguided policy objectives of the very wealthy are the single biggest obstacles to overcoming the deficit, and a primary cause of the financial crisis in the first place. In comparison, spending on public services is a relatively minor concern.

    Whether this becomes a mainstream polling issue I can’t tell, but I suspect it might. The cuts will bite, average living standards will continue to fall, but the two speed economy will see very substantial gains in wealth by the super rich, and at some point the penny might just drop.

  25. @Roger M
    In reading the various comments made in response to the initial post of Colin (who is clearly writing from a different standpoint entirely), I’m struck by the consistency rather than inconsistency of views expressed.

  26. @robin

    “How is the government eliminating the deficit? By privatising it. This is no more than a transfer of government debt to private individuals”

    That’s not how I read it. They suggest that the government is going to increase taxes to reduce the deficit. Government is not going to make people borrow money to pay the extra. Their preditcion is that we will choose to borrow more. We don’t have to borrow, of course. We could just live within our means.

  27. @Colin

    “Their preditcion is that we will choose to borrow more. We don’t have to borrow, of course. We could just live within our means.”

    Why has their prediction changed since last year? The increased projected borrowing is alongside forecasts for lower growth – not what would normally be associated with decisions to voluntarily increase borrowing.

  28. @ Roger Mexico – “Unless Labour can re-frame the question of what to do about the economy in different terms that this, then voters will always tend to go back to the Conservatives because they feel they in the end they are doing the right thing – even if they don’t agree with all the details.”

    Not if government policies continue to ADD to the deficit as they are currently doing.

  29. Colin Green
    “Their preditcion is that we will choose to borrow more. We don’t have to borrow, of course. We could just live within our means.”

    But surely, the forecasts of gov revenue and expenditure is predicated on joe public spending x even if that means borrowing y ?

  30. Oddbins goes bust.

    Now we wont even be able to drown our sorrows as the cuts bite ;-)

  31. The details of the Scotsman poll are now on the YouGov site.

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-parliament-scotsman-310311.pdf

    Within the detail, the coalition preferences of supporters are given.

    If no single party wins a majority, a coalition government between Labour and the SNP is by some way the preferred choice of both Labour and SNP supporters (33% and 28% respectively).

    Given the talk about a Lab-LD coalition in Scotland, it’s also instructive that in the absence of majority party government, a coalition with the LDs is favoured by only 10% of Labour supporters, well behind those preferring a coalition with the SNP(33%) , a minority Labour government (21%) the Greens (16%) as well as Dont Knows (13%).

    By contrast, in the absence of majority party government, 52% of LDs would prefer a coalition with Labour, although the reliability of that finding must be open to question as there were so few LDs identified in the polling.

  32. PS re Scotsman poll. The statistics cited above use the identification of supporters by constituency vote. The pattern is similar if based on regional vote although the % of Lab supporters favouring a deal with the SNP goes up to 37%.

  33. @Roger Mexico – “… voters will always tend to go back to the Conservatives”

    I have heard comments from a contingent of historical Labour supporters (for instance from some who marched on Saturday): those who did *not* excersise their vote in 2010 (out of disaffection with Blair/Brown/Iraq/New Labour etc) and who have now woken up to the “smaller state, or privatisation or corporatisation or benefiting the rich” agenda you mention.

    They had possibly been lulled into a false sense of security by Cameron’s professed ‘Blairism’ and his longstanding erstwhile commitment to match Labour spending. Also in 2001 and to a greater extent in 2005 they became habituated to the luxury of disengagment without consequences (or drifted to LD).

    Labour scares about ‘same old Tories’ were effectively turned aside (‘Labour’s outright lies about sure start/winter fuel’, no cuts just efficiency savings etc) during the GE, but those scares have come back with avengence, and Ed Miliband has effectively drawn a line under past pet hates.

  34. Billy Bob
    “…and Ed Miliband has effectively drawn a line under past pet hates.”

    What does this mean?

  35. @Woodsman

    “Oddbins goes bust”

    Blame the French. Castel gutted Oddbins to boost the high street presence of Nicolas, and left behind a ragbag of stores and a fragmented management structure. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Nicolas was a success, but Castel
    couldn’t organise a p**s-up in a winery, and they have absolutely no idea how to run wine-shops in the UK (go into a branch of Nicolas and ask the staff). Many of the successful Oddbins shops that converted to Nicolas have now closed.

  36. @Mike N – An echo of the previous “disaffection with Blair/Brown/Iraq/New Labour etc.”

  37. @Roger Mexico

    “Unless Labour can re-frame the question of what to do about the economy in different terms that this, then voters will always tend to go back to the Conservatives because they feel they in the end they are doing the right thing – even if they don’t agree with all the details.”

    I think you’ve missed that they *have* re-framed the question. The story is no longer about the deficit, the story is about the cuts.

    The conservatives have set themselves up for too many ways to fail. Causing a recession, tax income dropping faster than the cuts, causing a jobless recovery, causing a collapse in a critical public service like policing or the NHS…

    And that’s *before* the other political things that could cause the Lib Dems to bolt.

  38. @Billy Bob
    “I have heard comments from a contingent of historical Labour supporters.. those who did *not* excersise their vote in 2010….and who have now woken up….”

    ICM will count only 50% of these in any of their polls, even if such people now state that they are certain to vote. It sometimes seems to me that ICM are still trying to predict the result of the last election, rather than the next one.

  39. @Phil

    “ICM will count only 50% of these in any of their polls, even if such people now state that they are certain to vote.”

    If people are indeed ‘waking up’, there ought to be a trend in the stated likelihood-to-vote? Now THAT would be an interesting stat.

    AW – is this info available in a readily-extractable form?

  40. I think I’ll stay off this thread as it is back to the same old “100 Reasons Why The Tories Are Rubbish And I Hate Them” debating society.

  41. This probably explains increased government dissatisfaction, from the NOP consumer survey for March;

    “Consumer confidence has stagnated at depths seldom seen outside of actual recession. The last time it was this consistently low was two years ago, and before then in autumn 1990,” said Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research.

  42. @Neil A

    Don’t worry too much, thank god that the socialists are out of power, ignore the economic nonesense from Balls supporters (it’s all balls) and wait for the election in 2015 when we should get a Conservative Government.

  43. ALEC

    Thought your reply to my comments were very interesting and put on a slant on the issue that I hadnt really addressed . I think you will be right as the anger about the way the rich get away wit it is bubbling along beneath the surface at the moment but is sure to erupt on the surface soon – and then we will see!

    NEIL A

    Have just reread the posts on this page ad what I read is intelligent and thoughtful discussion – full stop!

  44. Colin wrote:
    “For me the key thing is-when does total debt as % of GDP start coming down; in Budget 2010 that was in 2014/15. In Budget 2011 it is in 2015/16.”

    This should be a massive flag to Labour about the election strategy for the next GE that will be adopted by the Tories.

    The problem the Tories have is: Once the deficit is gone, the voters won’t care about it. They really won’t. And they won’t reward the Tories because there will be no ‘hallelujah’ moment when our lives improve because it is gone.

    Therefore, it seems clear to me, that if the deficit is looking like being zero by the time the election campaign starts, the Tories will immediately move to making everybody afraid about the total debt.

    Labour need to be thinking about a strategy to counter this because it is likely the economic issue the Tories will choose to focus on.
    8-)

  45. @Amber

    That’s bang on, we need to reduced the oiverall level of debt as well as the deficit but I expect this will be done from 2015 onwards by tax cuts aimed at stimulating further growth and hopefully much deeper cuts in the public sector. In particular we need to privatise the NHS and move to a proper insurance based system.

    You wtill not agree of course, but that’s whats needed!

  46. Neil A

    Agree. The one-sided debate is very in-depth and intellectual (some might say Guardianistic?) on here, and any of us mortals of apparently less intelligence who stray on here seeking to represent the views of a different, perhaps more down-to-earth, section of the population tend to get pedantically pulled to pieces for any ‘rightwing’ view dared to be expressed. It makes this part of the site quite boring at times.

    In a funny way the leftwingers on here are quite like the Labour leading lights of the last few years such as Brown and Balls (Darling was OK, not sure about EM yet, think he’s more of the Brown mould but a bit more diplomatic) who are so full of their own intelligence that they don’t even realise/want to know how other people think. Nothing wrong with having your own convictions and sticking by them, I guess I do too on lots of subjects, but I’d like to think I am interested in how other people are thinking on a matter even if they can’t back it up with reasons/sources/statistics ad infinitum like some.

  47. @The Other Howard
    “….and wait for the election in 2015 when we should get a Conservative Government.”

    Don’t we have one already?

  48. BT SAYS

    I wonder whether you and I are reading the same posts. I don’t see any particular bias and the arguments and data seem well beyond the scope of the Guardian – more like the FT to my mind.

    I don’t deny that the minority in this country who would like to reduce the public sector to the barest of necessities exist and I personally I feel sad that there are people who hold views which if implemented would condemn many to a miserable half existence. I don’t regard it as in any way right wing to believe that the rich should pay ther fair share of taxes and be penalised for tring to get away with it – in fact I would regard such views as boringly centrist these days.

  49. Anthony,

    Is there a MORI due soon do you know/think?

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