YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%. Full tables are up on the YouGov website here.

The regular trackers would appear to have been impacted by the elections at the start of the month – David Cameron’s net approval is up slightly to minus 1 (from minus 3 last week), Ed Miliband’s approval is down to minus 21 (from minus 12 last week), which equals his lowest rating to date. Nick Clegg’s rating is minus 52 (from minus 50 a week ago), his lowest rating ever.

YouGov also asked about perceptions of the two main party leaders – primarily aimed at seeing to what extent if any Cameron was becoming seen as arrogant or unpleasant. People saw Cameron as arrogant by 46% to 39%, but he was seen as likeable by slightly more people (45%) than saw him as dislikable (42%) and, overall, public perceptions of him are still positive. His is seen as strong (by 51% to 27%), competent (by 52% to 30%) and as up-to-the-job (by 48% to 36%). His big weakness is not arrogance, but being seen in touch with ordinary people – 30% think Cameron is in touch, but 53% think he is not (which, of course, probably plays into the Conservative party’s wider problem of being seen as a party for the rich).

Looking at how people answered the same questions about Ed Miliband, the most positive findings were that Miliband was seen as honest (by 41% to 18%) and open-minded (by 42% to 22%). The most negative were that Miliband was seen as weak (by 44% to 19%), not up-to-the-job (by 45% to 25%) and unlikeable (by 45% to 31%). I’ve been cautious in the past about concluding too much from Miliband’s negative ratings – he was new in the job and had plenty of time to turn things about once people got to know him. He has now been in the job for well over six months – Labour would be right to be concerned about perceptions of Miliband.

Looking at some of the other questions, a majority of the public (55%) remain opposed to the government’s NHS reforms, and even most of those who support it think the reforms should be amended to address public concerns.

There were also some questions on superinjunctions. A majority (55%) of respondents continued to think super-injunctions are an unacceptable restriction on the freedom of the press, compared to 30% who think they are an acceptable way of people in the public eye to protect their privacy. Despite this, there was not much sympathy for the Twitter account that broke the alleged contents of some of the injunctions – 35% thought this was the right thing to do, but 44% though it was wrong.

While I haven’t had chance to look at it properly yet, there is also a big chunk of new polling on Michael Ashcroft’s website here.


454 Responses to “YouGov’s Sunday Times poll”

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  1. @Amber

    It was only the tiniest of digs… There is no doubt that public sector employment is more secure (most of the time) than private sector employment. Since we didn’t specify what Mr Rich’s job was I thought it fair to point out that it might be £150k this year, and £zero next year. I only have limited experience of the private sector, but my experience of the public sector is that many, if not most, of its employees don’t work at anything like full-tilt.

    @Oldnat,

    Don’t blame me for Mr Rich’s decision to send his darlings to private school. RAF had already specified that. I was merely crunching the numbers. As an aside, my wife and I are probably about to fork out a whole heap of shekels we don’t really have to send her youngest to a (cheap) private school for two years. This is despite her currently attending a church school that has a better than average reputation locally. In our experience it is abysmal, she is miserable there and we can’t get any kind of meaningful dialogue going with the school. The alternatives don’t appear any better. It’s nothing to do with the socio-economic status of the other children. Her friends, with whom she stays and who stay with us, are from a variety of backgrounds from “sleeping on a mattress in a festering hole” upwards. We sincerely hope she stays friends with all of them. But of the various things we could spend the money on, giving her some relief from her pitiful education seems the best choice.

    @Nick, Sapper etc.

    I have been trying not to think about the Brown Trousers. Away with you!

  2. @SocalLiberal

    “Well it worked and I think that is what Murphy is doing here for
    Labour in Scotland.”

    Oh I’ve no doubt they do need a pep talk and said that part of the message was required. Your illuminating stories help illustrate that.

    My point about the downside is that this is still the Jim Murphy parachuted in by EdM and it looks somewhat crass for a newcomer to their grief to be telling them it’s not as bad as it looks. Murphy has some good scottish credentials and for Labour he is a polished performer but he’s still going back to westminster after this postmortem while the SLAB contingent have to live this result for the next four years.

    Murphy’s problem is messages like that should be delivered idealy by the scottish leader while Murphy stands next to him/her and backs them up 100% in that view.
    That there is no scottish leader yet is unfortunate but just underlines how far there is to travel and how carefully he must tread if he doesn’t want to start a factionalising war by being seen to support one candidate or another by echoing or rubbishing a view any leadership candidate holds.

    I doubt he went into this with any illusions but Murphy will soon be reminded how acrimonious things can get in SLAB. There are long memories and unfinished fueds from time immemorial still festering in the ranks. The breakdown in relations between SLAB and Labour and the conflicting views about the campaign did not come out of a clear blue sky.

  3. @NEIL A
    Very sorry to hear your step daughter is unhappy at a church school and that it is not up to much. My kids went to church infant, middle and in my sons case secondary schools. They were superb in each case. If one took the ultimate biscuit it was the C of E direct grant secondary school my son attended which had considerable financial help from Lord Rothschild. A source of some amusement to me. A Jewish nobleman funding a Christian school.

  4. @neil A – “Or do the drugs companies actually have mind control rays?”

    That’s pretty much the size of it. There has been considerable comment on this topic in the scientific press for some years now – concerns among scientists were one of the key issues leading to the establishment of NICE in the first place. [For all New Labour’s faults, at one time they were actually quite good at listening to scientific evidence in many areas].

    There are several key areas of concern. Someone above touched on lobbying, and that will become extremely important in the new style NHS. Many of the campaigns for specific drug treatments to be allowed under the NHS are run by charitable groups set up by patients relatives – often with very sad backstories. Many of these are directly funded and briefed by drug companies, with – surprise surprise – the drug companies own treatment being the immediate target of the campaign.

    At present GPs cannot make such prescribing decisions, but as soon as they can, I really wouldn’t want to be a GP sitting opposite a man whose wife is dying, begging for 3 more months life for £16,000 and armed with some highly selective supporting ‘facts’ supplied by the manufacturers.

    What none of these campaigns are honest enough to admit is that if patient X has three more months of life, patient Y has another two years of painful hips or alcohol abuser patient P doesn’t get the transplant. NICE had a very effective way to balance these.

    The most insidiuous problem though is in the field of the actual research that forms the evience base. Drug companies fund the vast bulk of research. While they have a duty to state any adverse effects and would get into serious legal trouble if they tried to bury these, where treatments are found to have very little impact they are under no obligation to publish.

    Much of the ‘successful’ research is tainted by trial design and various ways to interpret the results in a more favourable light, but while research publications know this and could be more vocal in their peer review process, they also know (they have been told) that an overly critical review process could mean the few large companies stop presenting papers to those publications and they would then fold. The nearest easily understood analogy I can think of is cosmetic reviews in women’s magazines. Have you ever read one that says ‘skin cream Y is overprice sh*t’? Of course not, as that would be the last time the magazine ever got advertising from the cosmetics firms.

    NICE was powerful enough, both intellectually and politically, to impartially assess evidence and did move to commission fully independent research in some cases. GPs will not be able to withstand the pressure, and they are not particularly knowledgeble as a whole in the field of prescribing. They are generalists, not specialists, and they like the time to keep up to date with current research.

    Overall, it would broadly speaking be fair to say that drug companies do have some form of ‘mind control’ over many parts of the medical establishment, operating at various levels and in various ways.

  5. @ Alan

    My issue with NICE is it’s no less corrupt, just a different set of people involved in the corruption.

    Look at ME, the advisor to NICE is Prof Simon Wesseley, a psychologist with lots of interests in providing talking therapies. His advice for ME, (Recognised as a neurological condition by the WHO.) A course of talking therapy of course.
    ———————————————————
    And the interesting thing is: You have the information to hold this opinion because the information is available to you. It is transparent because NICE is a state organisation. With consortia, there will not be any transparency unless the NHS bill is changed or stopped.
    8-)

  6. Neil A @Nick, Sapper etc.

    “II have been trying not to think about the Brown Trousers. Away with you!”

    Do you mean the old joke about the captain of the 18th naval ship who explains that parts of the ship are painted red so that in the event of hand to hand combat, it doesn’t show up the blood? He’s told that the enemy is in sight.

    “Quick, bring me my Brown trousers!”

  7. Having spent some time in the US, I’ve seen the kinds of TV ads for prescription drugs. They provide vague enough descriptions of what the drug does so they’re not promising much, they’ll show a cheerful elderly couple walking their dogs, or a happy mother playing with their children. And list the conditions that “could” be helped, often described in a way that minimises significance, so a drug intended for clinical depression and schizophrenia is marketed as helping ‘not feeling yourself for long periods’. All with the small-text at the bottom of the screen saying ‘Patients should consult with a medical professional before…’

    And of course, the drug companies pay for ‘conferences’ at resort hotels in Las Vegas to push the GPs towards more use of pharmacology fixes.

    So that often much of a US GP’s time is spent with appointments with a ‘patient’ who tells them the list of symptoms they heard off the TV ad, and say they want that drug. And the sad fact is, they often give them a prescription for it.

  8. @Alan

    NICE also investigated the studies, and did come to the conclusion that it was not a psychological condition but a physiological one, albeit one that could be managed better with cognitive therapy. And that the milder cases could be treated by physiotherapy to aid recovery and prevent remission. The Wesseley/Peto psychological cause position has been pretty firmly discredited.

  9. “A course of talking therapy”

    Sorry I can’t find the reference atm, but there was a landmark case in the US many years ago whereby big pharma established a kind of precedent whereby the psychiatric profession could be sued for malpractice if the *didn’t* prescribe drugs as a first resort.

  10. @ Neil A
    I have been worryig all night about poor Mr Rich & his miserable £150K a year. If Mr. R. worries about job security might I suggest he puts aside £40K a year by living in a smaller house & sending his chidlren to state schools. Mr. R. has choices (unlike Mr. Poor) & if he chooses to spend so much of his disposable income on buying privileges for his children, so be it.
    He could also boost his pension contributions, consoling himself with the thought that 55% [sic] of the £15 billion paid in tax relief on pensions is granted to the 1% [sic] of the population that earns £150K or more. This subsidy — £6 billion — is greater than that paid to the whole of public sector pensions!
    The Lib-Dems’ tax plans before the election were hinged on ending higher-tax pension relief. This was silently scrapped when they entered the coalition: not the least of their many apostasies, tho it passes without comment.
    I would write more on whether the UK is the only country in which we would be invited in a public forum to focus our sympathies on the top 1% of income earners, but I must hoik round to my local library & berate the librarians about how well off they are, before they shut the place down.

  11. I loathe the TV ads for drugs. I find them repetetive & insistent i.e. that you are bound to have a medical condition of some sort that you are in denial about. You are missing out on life, short-changing your friends & family by being ‘substandard’ & you could be within hours of dropping dead.

    I have found – anecdotally – that children & teen-agers are most affected by the message. They worry about grand-parents, parents, friends & siblings.

    And of course such advertising can build resistance to thinking about one’s health as a bulwark against such incessant clamour to think about it all the time. That can lead to real symptoms being ignored by oneself or, if noticed by relatives, dismissed as ‘advert induced nannying’.
    8-)

  12. FYI, I don’t hate all advertising. In fact, I love ‘beauty’ product ads, especially now they have to admit that hair extensions, lash inserts & CG enhancement has been used. Also, the advertiser having to state that some scenes of the ad are ‘fantasy’ makes me LOL because, in a back-handed way, this implies that part of the advert isn’t! :-)

  13. @ROBBIE ALIVE
    I think the moral of your heart rending story is “don’t be a librarian if you want earn £150, 000 PA”. It is a waste of time and effort trying to point out to someone like yourself, that there is very often a price to pay for earning a good salary. If only life were more like your Leninist world whereby the 5 bed detached and Beamer for him, Golf GTI for her was a stress free secure bed of roses. In my experience you get out of this life, what you put into it. Take a leaf from Norman Tebbits dad. Now there was a proper chap.

  14. SAPPER

    “In my experience you get out of this life, what you put into it.”

    What a divisive, consumerist, middle class, workethicist , aspirational , right wing extremist outlook on life.

    Where do you think that leaves all those disadvantaged people who “choose” not to put anything into it ?

    ;-)

  15. JayBlanc

    I appreciate there are no alternatives at present, however what is worrying is the supposedly independent arbiter on this matter has his reputation on the line and has shown he has a deep rooted opinion and interest in this matter.

    There is no real way to challenge NICE as Wesseley would be in charge of any review to policy. This is the flaw to NICE.

    There is no room for a patient who does his own research reads what is happenning elsewhere in the world and presenting the evidence to be considered. In the case where there is an established treatment, I can understand that being the first port of call for a doctor, if that fails it seems doctors hands are tied by NICE to try something that others have benefited from.

  16. @AMBER STAR
    It is all right for you Amber, you have a natural beauty that does not require highly dubious cosmetics. Not many woman have your advantage.

    Regards
    Roland Crawler.

  17. @COLIN
    I know, I am an abomination in the eyes Trotsky.

  18. Anthony is clearly away.

  19. @neil A/Amber/Jayblanc

    The other intriguing aspect of NICE’s work has been to assess illnesses themselves.

    Particularly in the phychiatric field there have been well documented examples of new ‘illnesses’ requiring new treatments.

    In the old days, ENT specialists believed whipping out your tonsils at the earliest opportunity was de rigeur. When that was found to be unnecessary, operations for glue ear took off. largely (some believe) because ENT specialist were worried about a fall in demand for their services.

    I hesitate to say this with Sapper/Roland stalking the board, but in modern times there have been a string of ‘conditions’ like ADHD that have apparently erupted within the population with widespread drug prescription seen as the answer. Classifications for mental health conditions are getting wider and wider, and drug companies have an ever expanding range of products to cure the newly found ‘diseases’.

    Some of this is bound to be due to specialists themselves wanting to elevate the importance of their own sector, but drug companies are also well versed in the promotion of ill health. NICE was very effective is acting in this sphere as well.

  20. @ALEC
    Please do not think twice about me Alec when you discuss ADHD. I have a long history of it.

  21. @ Neil A & any Lib-Dems.

    Back from the library, where they pelted me with heavy tomes. The librarians reminded me that their pay is frozen for the nx two years & that they will pay 2% more in pension contributions, thus reducing their real incomes by 10-12% in 2011-13. The Coalition originally promised to pay a flat rate of £250 per year to those earning <£18,000 per year but the councils cannot afford these payments, due to the severity of their cuts. Again, this reneging on the Lib-Dems' "fairness agenda" [lol] has received no publicity.
    The Lib-Dems, pre-election, proposed to raise £17.7 billion "by cutting reliefs, closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest and a 1% levy on properties over
    £2m." None of this has been implemented which means that £17.7 bill of extra cuts have had to be made to the Public S., thus nullifying for the low paid the benefits received from the higher personal allowances: the only part of the Lib tax agenda that survives.

  22. @ Sapper

    Roland Crawler & ADHD. I have a long history of it.
    ————————————–
    LOL :-)

    You are on form, today.

  23. @ Alec, Old Nat

    FYI: Allyson Pollock is answering questions for the Guardian today. Below is her introduction & a link to her web-site.
    My key concerns about the bill are set out in a recent paper published in the British Medical Journal in April and available on my website
    h ttp://allysonpollock.co.uk/. The bill, which abolishes the duty upon the secretary of state to provide or secure healthcare for all citizens, heralds the introduction of mixed private insurance system through GP consortiums which will have new powers to determine entitlement for NHS care and who is eligible for care and which services will be charged for.

  24. Amber

    Thanks

    (I was going to post a similar comment to Sapper’s on your “I love ‘beauty’ product ads” :-) )

  25. @ RobbieAlive

    @ Neil A & any Lib-Dems.
    “Back from the library, where they pelted me with heavy tomes.”

    Obviously none of them included works by Rawlings & Thrasher. Which bit of the Lib Dems getting 8% of MPs to the Tories’ 47% in the last election did you miss?

    Sorry to have to respond to your partisan comment, but do you think we would have hesitated in negotiating further tax rises for the rich if we had not come up against a Tory brick wall in the form of George Osborne?

    All very well to taunt us about the management of public finances, but who got us into this hole in the first place? How would Labour have cut “fairly” exactly?

    Actually, the mansion tax will be a very handy stick to wield in the next election, policy wise, as will the other policies. All examples of “fairness” that the Conservatives refused to enact.

  26. Here’s a plan which will get the Government a pile of Brownie points just before a general election.

    A plan to transfer the government’s stake in RBS and Lloyds to individuals is gaining ground.

    http://www.fool.co.uk/news/investing/company-comment/2011/05/16/get-your-very-own-four-figure-bank-bonus.aspx?source=ufwflwlnk0000001

  27. @Alan

    Being an advisor to NICE didn’t make him the arbiter, as demonstrated by him being overruled in the end by NICE. Wesley wasn’t in charge of NICE’s decision making with regards to CFS/ME in any way.

  28. @Tsitsikama

    Brownie points from whom? If you’re not in a position to buy any of the RBS stock options offered, then it’s hardly a redistribution to the people. And it seems very odd to take RBS off government’s books before economic recovery brings it back to a normal price for a bank, that’d result in a clear loss for the government. Surely it makes more sense to keep RBS making profits for Government, and reducing pressure for cuts/tax hikes, rather than a one-off political gain.

  29. jayblanc

    The article deals with some of the points you raise.

  30. @OldNat

    I don’t see how taking a profitable RBS off the government’s books helps with the deficit. Yes, it reduces total *debt*, because of RBS’s liabilities, but it will *increase the deficit* because RBS is running at a profit even including those liabilities. The original plan was to only take RBS off the government’s balance sheet when it was the best benefit to the tax payer over all, not for a quick fix political boost.

  31. jayblanc

    I’m not arguing for or against the idea. I just read the article. :-)

  32. I think the only reason why RBS is being pushed off government books at all, is because of the ideology that ‘government shouldn’t be in business’. But really, they’re not, they just happen to be the majority share holders of a bank. If they treat this as an investment, something to keep the deficit down from dividends, then I don’t see the problem. It’s not like owning RBS makes them any more influential in banking than they were before.

  33. Robert C

    I don’t quite understand your post but I doubt very much that increasing taxes on property will be much of a vote-winner. You can argue that taxes on property should be increased in order to cut taxes on manufacturing and that this would help the UK economy greatly but unfortumately the electorate think otherwise.

  34. Re the RBS bank shares plan. It’s not a new proposal and is ‘one of a number of options the Treasury is considering’ so we shouldn’t jump the gun. The plan is in itself not too bad in many ways – at least it isn’t selling shares we already own to the public.

    I suspect it will fall down due to growth rates. With the 4 year outlook much poorer than Osborne wanted, he needs other ways to shrink the deficit. A cash sale of assets would be one way to do that, whereas this plan sees cash benefit to the treasury only accruing over time.

  35. @Sapper and Colin

    “In my experience you get out of this life, what you put into it.”

    Alas, if only that was true. This is lazy moralising in my view and an argument quite often used to defend entrenched privilege and, in many cases, pure luck in terms of life’s outcomes and rewards. There are exceptions, of course, where people have become wealthy and affluent as a result of extraordinary hard work, personal sacrifice, courage and diligence, but in many cases, fortune is the key, where an individual’s life chances have been loaded very heavily in their favour from birth. Inherited wealth and all that it entails in terms of access to education and career opportunities, makes it almost impossible not to prosper later in life. No guarantees, I accept, but enormous inherent advantages in life denied to others from the cradle to the grave. As in athletics, most people who receive generous head starts in life are rarely caught

    I think most who’ve read my posts over the months know my social background and it’s one that entitles me to some knowledge on these matters. I came from an affluent and extremely comfortable background and mixed with children and parents from similar, if not in some cases even greater, privileged backgounds. What, with a very few honourable exceptions, did they tend to have in common? Firstly, a rather heady mix of entitlement and self-righteousness. Secondly most, but not all, had either inherited their wealth, speculated successfully on property, flogged financial services or worked in the professions (law, accounting etc). Not many heroic entrepreneurs or rags to riches Tebbitesque legends to be found, I’m afraid, but I tell you what there was in abundance. A sense amongst them that those who did not share their affluence or status in life were obviously undeserving of it, either through their pursuit of worthless employment or because of their innate indolence and unintelligence.

    These early life experiences deeply influenced what was to become my political credo.

  36. For those interested the YG website ahs details of the result of a poll about Laws’ return to gov.

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/politics/brits-split-over-laws-return

  37. Jayblanc,

    If you actually read the article it says the idea is that all housholds or taxpayers ( not yet certain ) will be given a portfolio of shares. They will only pay for them ( at the rate the gov. originally paid ) if and when they sell them, and then pocket any profit.

    That, it seems to me will generate a fair bit of goodwill ( brownie points ) just before a general election, so may even call it a bribe.

  38. Mike N

    That seems a fairly thorough going condemnation of Laws.

    Those within the Westminster bubble, still don’t seem to realise the depth of revulsion among voters to the expenses scandal.

  39. Last sentence, so should read some.

    I agree with you about the deficit Jayblanc but that wasn’t my point.

  40. Oldnat

    Aye, and I was pleased with the findings.

  41. @ ROBERT C at least someone understands that parliament is effected by those little things called seats….

    @ CrossBat You are mixing up the idea that everyone has the right to something with the idea that everyone should have something. While it is a sadly unavoidable truth that most if not everyone is defined to a large extent by their social-economic background, that does not mean all poor people should be made rich, but that they should have a right to riches:-
    -Many poor people are happy in their current position, now before you say that is evil capitalist brainwashing in action…hold on; because I generally agree it is and this is where need to tackle the problem, because need to allow people to realise they have options out of their current position, not force them out of it. This is the exact reason labour made social movement worse, not better; they foolishly believed by throwing money blindly at the poor, the poor would suddenly get taste for riches and social boundaries of past would disappear as everyone begun moving up/down the ladder till got to their righteous place in society…why did this not happen? Simple because gave poor a sense of instant gratification, instead of showing them how to engage with society and how to work there way out of provety, it lead them to believe things like X-factor where real options out of poverty for the masses, not the lucky (or unlucky, depending on how view it) few.
    =Seeing as you used your upbringing to make very slanted exemplification of class problem, I will use mine. My real father is the perfect example of the normal working man (I use that term with respect, because I greatly respect my father) in that his idea of perfect life is to work on machines earning very little money, living in poor area, but doing a job which while not glamorous or one he loves, affords him ability to provide for his family. He never questions that he could have been more, he is a very intelligent man and I don’t say that as some starred kid, I actually mean he is intelligent, he knows more about law than me because he is sort of man who can teach himself about law, however it never even occurred to him to go to university, he was even against me doing it, believing it was against norns of society, because that is way society has shaped his view and it is sadly this view that labour failed to engage with, because it never occurred to labour politicians to consider one fundamental factor……the reason my father never wanted to be a lawyer or business man is because he liked working on machines and would have hated a life in an office……Labour tried to force people up the social ladder instead of showing how to use it, if they wanted it. I may not understand my fathers view on life, but I know he is happy with it and it is the height of ignorance to assume that is all down to brainwashing….because where would all lawyers be without their machines?????

  42. @LIBERAL STUDENT
    A pity all Liberals are not as wise as you.

  43. @Liberal Student

    Going to quote you back at yourself.

    “I may not understand my fathers view on life, but I know he is happy with it and it is the height of ignorance to assume that is all down to brainwashing.”

    “however it never even occurred to him to go to university, he was even against me doing it, believing it was against norns of society, because that is way society has shaped his view”

    So, which one of those is the true one?

  44. @ tsitsikama

    They will only pay for them ( at the rate the gov. originally paid ) if and when they sell them, and then pocket any profit.

    That, it seems to me will generate a fair bit of goodwill ( brownie points ) just before a general election, so may even call it a bribe.
    —————————————————————
    If 100% of the government shareholding will be offered to “tax payers”, this is going to be LOL funny.

    Anybody who doesn’t understand why, ask me & I’ll explain.
    8-)

  45. @ Liberal Student

    …they [Labour] foolishly believed by throwing money blindly at the poor, the poor would suddenly get taste for riches and social boundaries of past would disappear as everyone begun moving up/down the ladder till got to their righteous place in society
    ————————————————–
    Let me stop you right there. We [Labour] didn’t believe anything of the sort.
    8-)
    8-)

  46. @Amberstar – have I misread the RBS report? They are actually planning to sell us shares we already own, rather than give them to us with the claw back of excess profits on sale?

  47. @ Old Nat

    I’m not arguing for or against the idea. I just read the article.
    ——————————————-
    LOL. The SNP will likely try to get an injunction stopping the Uk government giving away ‘Scottish’ assets before the potential divorce settlement.
    8-)

  48. @Liberal Student
    What a bizarre set of beliefs you mistakenly attribute to us reds.

    One belief that I did hold was that there couldn’t surely be any Liberal (Democrat) students left. You’ve disabused me of that, but I still can’t believe that there’s more than one of you.

  49. @ Alec

    First off, any such move by the government, unless sanctioned by the free market (which, in theory, can’t collectively sanction anything which is why it is a free market) would cause both banks to collapse. It really would. It is the fact that the government holds the shares which, IMO, is preventing those banks from being in danger of collapse when e.g. the payment protection insurance mis-selling liability was disclosed.

    Now, to answer your question: As things stand, we’d not be getting the shares, we’d be getting an option to purchase shares; & the options are currently ‘underwater’.

    The article seems to imply that nobody would be allowed to sell their option. They’d have to wait until the shares were above water to benefit. Therefore the ‘feel good factor’ would likely turn into a ‘feel cheated factor’

    Furthermore, it’s likely a huge number would take up & sell their shares as soon as they went above water, thinking they’d get ‘loadsa money’ – only to find that fees & paying the treasury left them with a loss.

    In addition, the potential flood onto the market of shares, as soon as the shares go above water, will actually exert a downward pressure on the value of the shares. Thereby making it take much longer for the shares to get above water!

    The market is currently valuing on the basis that there would be an orderly & carefully managed disposal of the shares by the government – or even that RBS & Lloyds will buy back from the government, as & when they have the funds to do so. They would then sell or rights issue the shares in the normal way.

    So any new, ‘serious’ plan to give away options, could be seen as seriously disadvantaging non-government existing shareholders, due to the probable downward pressure this would exert on the price. These shareholders may well take legal action to prevent this type of plan unless the government buys back their shares at the same price they paid for the share-holding the government already has.

    Therefore, this is either a truly deluded idea that should be quickly shelved, or it is going to be used as cover for some rather ‘naughty’ sleight of hand.

    If anybody is remotely interested, I will suggest what that ‘sleight of hand’ could be directed towards achieving. ;-)

  50. Please do go on Amberstar this is interesting.

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