Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9% – another two point lead. Since the local elections the average lead in YouGov’s daily polls has dropped to just over 3 points, compare that to a peak in YouGov’s polls of a 9-11 point Labour lead for a while in mid-March.

The pattern of a shrinking Labour lead is consistent across the polling companies, with all the regular pollsters now showing the Labour lead dropping to the low single figures. There appears to be a genuine tightening of the polls since February and March when the Labour lead was generally between 6 and 10 points. YouGov’s daily government approval also appears to have improved – back in mid-March it got as low as minus 30 on a couple of occassions, and the percentage of people thinking the government was doing a good job fell into the 20s. In the last week has been hovering around minus 20, with the percentage of people approving of the government back into the low 30s.

Part of this will be down to the halo effect of the local elections – rightly or wrongly it was seen as a disappointment for Labour and better for the Conservatives than had been expected. However, I think there may well be an economic factor too. Figures on economic confidence and how well people think the economy is doing remain atrocious… but not quite as atrocious as a couple of months ago. Through February and March 77-80% thought the economy was in a bad state. In the last three YouGov/Sunday Times polls that’s fallen to 73-74%. We see the same pattern with the “feel good factor” (the proportion of people who think their financial position is going to improve minus the proportion who think it will get worse) – between January and mid-March it was around minus 55, since mid-March it has dragged itself into the minus 40s and was -45/46 in the last two Sunday Times polls.

These figures are the sort of thing we were seeing back at the tail end of 2010 – so it looks as if what actually happened over the last few months is that the negative growth and bad economic news at the start of 2011 knocked government popularity and temporarily pushed Labour’s lead up into the high single figures… since then economic optimism (while still dire) has improved marginally, and so has government support. For Populus, ICM, MORI and YouGov at least, we are back in a position where the Conservatives are retaining their General Election support, and the only change since the election is the fracturing of Lib Dem support towards Labour.

Not, of course, that public opinion can be boiled down to a single economic cause. Other factors will be also be wider perceptions of the government’s competence and ability (the rows about privatising forests, for example, have faded away and the NHS reforms have been paused), there may also be an Ed Miliband factor, since his negative ratings seem to be becoming more entrenched. There are no doubt plenty of other possible explanations too.

Will it last? Probably not, a halo effect from the local elections is by definition short lived, the country is certainly not out of the woods in economic terms, and there are certainly many unpopular cuts that still need to be implemented. The Conservatives are doing better than one may have expected (certainly I’ve made many comments here saying I expected Labour to open up a bigger lead after the May elections – I got that one wrong!) but I expect the government’s real mid-term blues will show up sooner or later…


176 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 39 LAB 41 LD 9”

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  1. Bill Patrick

    “Ed has to get it right in order to win decisively.”

    Do you think it even enters his consciousness that public services in Scotland (and Wales) are different, and that he would have to “get it right” simultaneously in all three nations in GB?

  2. Old Nat,

    I think that, up until a few weeks ago, he probably gave very little thought to the matter.

    When it comes to Scotland, I struggle to see what Ed’s strategy will be in 2015. I suppose the old Kinnock strategy might work: Ed has the “keys to number 10”.

  3. @ Neil A

    “Just because a train is hurtling towards disaster, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to step out in front of it and wave your arms about…”

    Agreed.

  4. @ Roger Mexico

    “Typically even up to half of Lib Dems and around 20% of Tories are unhappy.”

    The Lib Dem figures are to be expected. The Tory figures are surprising but I wonder if that’s from Tories who feel that the government has been too far left for their tastes.

  5. @ Bill Patrick

    “I think that, up until a few weeks ago, he probably gave very little thought to the matter.

    When it comes to Scotland, I struggle to see what Ed’s strategy will be in 2015. I suppose the old Kinnock strategy might work: Ed has the “keys to number 10?.”

    See I don’t want to give any advice to Labour because it’s unsolicited and can come off as totally arrogant. But considering how Kinnock lost and how miserably Labour did (performing far below polling expectations), I really think copying him is a bad idea. A really bad idea.

    You gain nothing by losing.

  6. @ Old Nat

    “But you have to feel a bit sorry for the Brits. No election till 2015, and only marginal shifts in YouGov daily polls to sustain them till then.”

    But you’ll have local elections and special elections. I felt even more British today when I went back to the voting precinct (to bring my mom to drop off her ballot) and took my mom’s English dog (a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) with us.

    I’ll tell you what else. Actual election results are great on election night when political parties and political candidates make grandiose statements and predictions of the election results….before the results are in.

  7. @ Old Nat

    “If you chose the best person to lead the party, why would the expectation be that they go and be replaced by someone less able?

    I think the last Labour leader to carry on after losing an election was Harold Wilson.”

    See this is why I’m glad Nancy Pelosi is back as leader and didn’t give up her position as Democratic House Leader after last November’s shellacking. She is without question the best leader and was the only one in power who did her job consistently well. She got punished for what wasn’t her fault. That’s just how politics work.

    @ Alec

    “The Blessed Anthony lives. Praise be – what a relief.”

    Yes. :)

    About recessions, I find it interesting that in California, there have been debates about deep budget cuts because of the large deficit that now are being tamed a bit after it was discovered yesterday that there was over 6.6 billion dollars more in the State Treasury than prveiously forecast. Funny how that works…..economic growth seems to reduce, not expand, government budget deficits. :)

  8. @ Virgilio

    Don’t know if you’re around but spotted this tonight and it made me rather sad.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/imf_head_assault

    I hope he gets through this.

  9. Anybody remember in December when Labour and Tories were neck and neck, followed by a small decline in Labour vote (which hasn’t happened this time) and that showed that Labour were in decline and that the Tories were going to rocket ahead?
    And the LibDems would start winning back their voters from Labour?
    And that the coalition was going to soar to victory, while the Labour vote would collapse?

    What happened in Jan/Feb and then continued for 4 months? Large Labour Leads.
    Yeah.

    I’m not saying that Labour’s vote won’t decline, but the fact that they’re neck and neck again doesn’t mean that the Labour vote will just suddenly collapse and everything will be puppies and rainbows for the coalition.

    I can’t wait for the return of the ’41+9 = 50%. The coalition has the loyal support of a majority of voters!’ talking point.

  10. SoCalLiberal

    The Lib Dem figures are to be expected. The Tory figures are surprising but I wonder if that’s from Tories who feel that the government has been too far left for their tastes

    It seems not. This 15-20% of Conservative voters are the ones saying the cuts are being done ‘unfairly’, are ‘too deep’, or are even ‘bad for the economy’ or are uncertain about them.

    There is a slightly smaller minority who say that the cuts are ‘too shallow’ or ‘too slow’ – I suppose these would be the sort of people you identify – no doubt the ‘smaller state’ types*. They are only about 9-10% of Conservatives, though about 90-100% of the Tory blogosphere. What is it about ‘libertarians’ and logorrhea? Still that explains why ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is an awful lot longer than ‘Animal Farm’.

    Oddly enough it’s not just Conservatives who take this attitude. 9% of Tories may say the cuts are ‘too shallow’, but so do 9% of Lib Dems and even 6% of Labour voters.

    *Though as Lord Ashcroft found, normal people haven’t go the faintest idea what a ‘smaller state’ means and assume it’s about getting rid of Cornwall. Though I’ve never found a ‘smaller state’ advocate who said what bits should be got rid of.

  11. My entiely personal and unsubstantiated opinion is that, since political parties are driven by ideology, they risk carrying out their plans far beyond the level considered acceptable by the electorate. Thus Labour have a tendancy to create a far bigger state than the average voter feels is necessary, and it’s in the Tories to cut far more than the electorate is comfortable with.

    Therefore I think Roger Mexico has hit the nail on the head with his comments regarding the necessity of the cuts. If The Tories can continue to convince the public that the cuts are necessary they will poll well. But if they get carried away with the cuts or if Labour can start to persuade people they have gone to far their vote share will collapse. For me the key question is can the Tories rein themselves in early enough and stop cutting while they still have the support of the public?

  12. TINGEDFRINGE

    ‘I’m not saying that Labour’s vote won’t decline, but the fact that they’re neck and neck again doesn’t mean that the Labour vote will just suddenly collapse and everything will be puppies and rainbows for the coalition.’

    No-ones saying it will be puppies and rainbows for the coalition. The reality is for the coalition is that there will be tough times ahead in terms of popularity; cuts will begin the really hurt in the next 2 years. However, if, as Cameron & Osborne predict, economic growth happens on a substantial rate in the last 18 months of the term, and the coalition can afford to put in place breaks to the cuts and breaks in tax, then I would imagine that the next government will be a Tory majority. It’s a substantial if though.

    I think Labour supporters and leaders need to not forget that even if the Labour party were in power there would be large cuts to government spending that will pinch nearly as hard. The more Cameron gets that message across, the less apathy there will be towards the coalition cuts, and the more this hatred will be pointing towards the party that oversaw the problem, the Labour party.

    I also think that Ed Miliband will struggle as Labour leader if he keeps going the way he is. There needs to be a bit of grace from the leader of the party that borrowed the money that led to the economic crisis, and recognition that the coalition cuts are only happening because of financial mismanagement from his own party. I also think that some of the from within his own party comes from the fact that he slates the government for it’s cuts but doesn’t present an alternative, which would be a far more effective way of going about criticizing the cuts.

  13. @ Roger Mexico

    “It seems not. This 15-20% of Conservative voters are the ones saying the cuts are being done ‘unfairly’, are ‘too deep’, or are even ‘bad for the economy’ or are uncertain about them.”

    Interesting. There’s an opening there for Labour if they can exploit it effectively. They have to look like adults in the room when it comes to the economy.

    “*Though as Lord Ashcroft found, normal people haven’t go the faintest idea what a ‘smaller state’ means and assume it’s about getting rid of Cornwall. Though I’ve never found a ‘smaller state’ advocate who said what bits should be got rid of.”

    Me neither. :)

  14. Bill Patrick

    I can’t really see how Labour can avoid the economy being the main topic of the next election. It usually is and, as OldNat points out, there precious little else Westminster does in the devolved administrations. In any case that has been the battleground both main parties have chosen, so it will be difficult to change now.

    Ironically the only chance that Labour would have of switching topics would be if Conservative economic policy wiped out the deficit and debt and produced a massive surplus in four years time. But that’s not very likely and in any case the Tories would campaign under ‘don’t let labour waste all your sacrifices’.

  15. I wonder if the Government has already lost the election on the 2010 Q4 figures. Once the public start blaming you for the economy, it’s difficult to shake it off. We saw with the Major government that, even though the economy grew in the three years before the election, the electorate still punished the Tories for the recession. The coalition hedged their bets on the economy growing fast enough to soak up all the public sector job cuts, and it now looks like that’s not going to happen, at least not soon enough.

  16. @ALEC

    “but consumers seem to think it is better than it was.”

    I am beginnng to think that inflation looms as a much bigger factor than ephemeral things like ones confidence as a consumer.

    As has been observed upthread , there seems to be an acceptance that the cuts are neccessary. This must mean that some element of the drop in consumer confidence & spending is voluntary & simply cautionary & prudent.

    However losing your job is something else-and the Government will be blamed if unemployment gets out of hand.

    The other thing which is imposed from without is price increases. There are figures in the papers today of a £60 pw increase -for the average family.

    Food & Fuel are necessities-and they are both subject to huge price increases currently. I for one am relieved that summer quarter gas & electricity bills are approaching. But it won’t be long before next winters fuel bills are here again-and for many people these are simply becoming unsustainable.

    Will the Government be blamed for this inflationery squeeze on living standards? If some of it can be pinned on Huhne’s energy policy ( more wind farm subsidies) the answer could be Yes .

  17. Chris.

    It would be very narrow minded of the electorate to blame the Tories for the economic crisis. Yes, they failed to deliver growth in 4Q, but it was their predecessors who created the problem.

    The reason Major was blamed for the recession is because it was created by Thatchers mismanagement. Essentially, the Tories were blamed for the problem they created. But how can we blame the coalition for the economic crisis when they were warning the Labour government about their economic policy all the way through the development of the economic crisis?

  18. @ROGER Mexico

    “Though I’ve never found a ‘smaller state’ advocate who said what bits should be got rid of.”

    It isn’t a question of “which bits”.

    This is the Bob Crowe approach-if the State paid for it yesterday-it must be vital & we can’t get rid of it today .

    Government should always be asking -why are we doing this?-who does it benefit?-how much does it cost?-can a non-state provider do it better?

    The answers to those questions will constantly change as societies priorities change. The state may be required to do things in future which it hasn’t done in the past.

    The State can be Guarantor , Facilitator, Provider , Funder etc …………..but it doesn’t always have to be them all.

  19. @Oli, The problem with your analysis is that you have completely re-written history to get there. The financial crisis of 2007-8 was a banking crisis caused by poor regulation (which Gordon Brown has admitted to) which enabled reckless borrowing and saving in the private sector.

    It was NOT caused by government borrowing. Government borrowing was LOW when the crisis broke and whilst is it somewhat higher now, it is still LOW both in historic terms and also by international comparison. Moreover running a deficit (i.e. allowing the total debt to rise) is the CORRECT policy in a recession, as economists have known since the 1930s.

    (The capitals for emphasis, not actual shouting.) But I have to say the casual mis-apportioning of blame is very corrosive; if we don’t understand the causes of the crisis, how can anyone have a proper debate about the solutions? So to actually answer the point you made in the post, there’s no way Mr Miliband should start apologising for something Labour didn’t do. This would be to accept the cynical rewriting of history by the Conservatives to use the financial crisis to permanently reduce the provision of public services.

  20. @ ROB SHEFFIELD

    “That one simple fact makes “big leads” highly unlikely”

    “What causes 9/10% plus leads (which are for me “big leads”) ”

    So do you believe that Labour will not produce a lead of 10% or more now Rob?

    If not, what is the maximum lead you think they can achieve?

  21. Whether the 2010 Q4 figures is the current or last government’s fault is not important. It’s who the public believes that matters. Labour’s favourite argument before the election (as well as half the Lib Dems) was that cutting too soon would damage the recovery. The Tories were adamant it wouldn’t. We then had a shrinkage which may or may not have been caused by early spending cuts, but it makes Labour’s job a lot easier.

    But the real problems are further down the road. The growth forecasts are being downgraded and that is really going to hamper the coalition’s hopes of a rosier economic picture in 2-3 years’ time, and by then it will be a lot harder to blame the previous government.

    In short: the move to clear 100% of the deficit in four years was a bold gamble, but it now looks like it won’t pay off. It may still be an economic success in the long run, but unfortunately the electoral cycle doesn’t allow you that long.

  22. Oh how refreshing to be discussing polls again. To Roger Mexico, I support Colin’s comment that it is ‘the personal economy’ that is more relevant than ‘the economy’ as an election issue.

    The cuts enjoy support at present (which of course include the extra taxes such as VAT ) because insufficient pain (if any) is being felt by swing voters.

    I feel the pain of VAT and other inflation (cheap red at £3.99 instead of £2.99 a year ago) but clearly the majority are not. So my subjective feeling gives me the opportunity to observe (to my surprise) that others are not feeling it.

  23. @ Howard

    “I feel the pain of VAT and other inflation (cheap red at £3.99 instead of £2.99 a year ago) but clearly the majority are not. So my subjective feeling gives me the opportunity to observe (to my surprise) that others are not feeling it.”

    The problem of the current inflation for families on low incomes & retired people with inadequate pension indexation ( or none) is not one of the price of a bottle of wine, or the viability of that second holiday on the Amalfi coast. That isn’t “pain”.

    The problem is one which involves ever more desperate shopping around to achieve a weekly food bill which you can afford ,and the frigtening prospect of not being able to afford next winters heating bills.

    Mr Huhne might like to ponder his impact on the latter , when he gets a moment free from the status of his driving licence.

  24. Good morning Colin. My wife offered that tracker mortgage holders are of course doing exceedingly well to put it mildly, as Lord Young pointed out. We who have no mortgage may only be really fussed about lower interest when we have a goal for the savings.

    I other words, I agree that it depends where you are in the current phase of your life, and what the polls are clearly indicating, is that, on balance, most are not worried about the future as much as some of may suppose or would like to suppose. next year this time indeed could be very different.

  25. Occasionally i have a way of expressing my points that are not always picked up as I intended. When I talk about tax increases such as the VAT one being a cut, I do not mean it as a cut to one’s income, which of course it is, but also a cut in that one is receiving the same public services but paying more for them. If there are also cuts in the services, then clearly the bad deal is exacerbated.

    I don’t think many see it that way, as most cuts will only affect the needy which most of us are not.

    Thus if the voters are thinking the ‘cuts’ are too deep. it may be a reflection of their sense of fairness to those less well off than they.

  26. By ‘income’ I mean of course net income (what’s left over to save or repay loans)..

  27. So when did the UK come out of recession?

    Summer/Autumn 2009?

    2009: Q4 +0.3%.

    2010: Q1 +0.3%, Q2 +1.2%, Q3 +2.8%, Q4 -0.6%.

    To the layman (I can’t be sure these figures are accurate), it would appear that Osborne has turned the economy around.

  28. Howard

    “We who have no mortgage may only be really fussed about lower interest when we have a goal for the savings.”

    .

    You really should not assume Howard that all retirees are able to holiday in the posher parts of Mallorca & Italy in the same year.

    Retirees have all sorts of income profiles-and priorities ( voluntary & mandatory) for spending it . And those priorities don’t necessarily allow for two holidays a year-or even one.

    And those of us who have first hand knowledge of young families on modest income trying to keep their food , fuel & heating bills at affordable levels are less inclined to adopt your rather haughty & detached approach to the problems which inflation presents.

  29. UK unemployment falls.
    Employment level is at its highest since Jan 2009.

    The number of workforce jobs is at its highest since Sep 2009.

    Employees working full time increased 146k on the quarter.

    Public Sector employment decreased 45k on the quarter. Private sector increased 83k. Over last four quarters public sector employment has decreased 132k. Private sector increased 449k.

    Looks like the private sector is taking up the slack for public sector job looses. Could these figures help the Conservatives take the lead from labour in the polls?

  30. I’ve just returned from Ireland and missed all this excitement of the local elections etc. I was in Cashel where every manhole cover and drain have been soldered to protect HMQ….it’s caused wry amusement though most people are pleased enough she’s coming….

    I’m sorry if therefore my few observations track over things others have already said!

    The election result in Scotland is a warning to the Labour leadership if it thought it might be possible in modern politics to cruise to an easy visctory with an unresolved leadership issue…I think they now no different….

    The Northern England results are not so good for the Conservatives….pace Scotland in the 70s and 80s the voters they lost in 97 are not returning to them….

    It may not on new boundaries be so easy to run up a majority in the UK without a better performance in those regions than 2010….

    The LibDems must wait out another year but another set of elections of this order will cause them a problem…and as there will be no AV they will not have a possible boost from their Conservatives allies and switching voters will have a tougher job since most of the constituencies are being redrawn….and there will be 50 fewer MPs….

    It should not be forgotten that the slump in LIbDem vote will disproprtionately help the Conservatives as it disadvataged them in 92, 97 and thereafter….

    In these circumstances it might well suit the LibDems to have an election under the exisiting boundary dispensation….I’m sure there are studies on this going on as I write!

    I saw Mr Cameron on the TV doing his liason committee….looked very very uncomfotable when challenged about what a rebalanced economy would really mean…..almost stumbling and went a bit red with temper…he was answering a fellow conservative after all…..

    Yet it’s unusual is it not for new governments not to win reelection….only Heath in my lifetime….

    So optimists that the conservatives will necessarily lose the next election should take note of history!

    The NHS policy may turn out to be defining….I suspect the election window-dressing will turn out to be that and no more because if the government don’t go ahead with these reforms their own financial strategy will start to come apart….

    The true effect of the cuts isn’t their short term implications its getting the electorate to assent to a fundamental change in the balance between state and private provision in public services….

    The NHS changes are central to this but Education policy is the same….for ‘choice’ read the right to buy…..and that will appply both to higher and secondary education…The changes in pensions and state social benefits also follow these same principles….and have already…its the ordinary voter who will work longer…not the better-off….

    The use of cuts to elbow in these reforms has been politically astute but the conseuquences will be seen as they were in the 80s and 90s with the lack of investment in public services, NHS and schools.

    Britain will become a less pleasant place to live in….and that will make periphery nations more likely to look to Independence….

    If Scotland were to move in that direction it will have knock on effects both for Wales and Northern Ireland and the Republic…..

    Though much of England is cohesive politically for London in particular there would potentially be good reasons to seek a similar looser financial arrangment as other devolved parts of the UK….

    Still whilst we remain in the EU at least one can escape to sunnier climes with one’s pension…………

  31. Whenever I get indigestion I find that Rennie’s don’t work.

  32. RICHARD

    It is certainly encouraging that the Private SEctor is generating jobs-but frankly if it wasn’t GO could kiss goodby to his career.

    LOng term unemployed & youth unemployment is still a major problem. These factors will not be impacted in any significant way until the Education system is refocussed .

    Finally-the public sector has more jobs to shed yet-it is very early days to see whether the Private Sector can keep pace with those cuts.

  33. @Richard

    “Looks like the private sector is taking up the slack for public sector job looses. Could these figures help the Conservatives take the lead from labour in the polls?”

    Most people don’t care about the figures, they care about their own circumstances. What is important is whether those jobs are solid, secure, ‘living wage’, or whether they are minimum wage McJobs. Both get people off the unemployment register and onto the list the the employed, but only one of those will make people feel good about their prospects.

  34. Robin

    There were 118,000 more people employed in the March qtr. and most of the new jobs – 94,000 – were full-time.

  35. I am not an expert on economy matters, my involvement in politics is rather linked to ideological, social and civil liberties issues, but I have this feeling that, whilst a bad economic situation almost always damages incumbent government, an improved one does not necessarily secures victory. If this were the case, then Frau Merkel would now be flying, yet she and her liberal allies face a disastrous year both in polls and, more importantly, in state elections all over Germany. As for the prospects of the Tories getting a higher percentage in next GE than in 2010, I admit that at the present stage they seem to be real, but this in itself is not a decisive factor. If they get, say, 38-39 and Labour is at 41-42, then there will be either a hung parliament with Labour first party, or a slight Lab OM. For Labour to fall under 38, an LD revival (albeit a partial one) is necessary, but there is no evidence for such a thing now. So, as Woody Allen said, it is not enough to succeed, others must fail.

  36. @Colin

    Full-time – but at what rate of pay?

    The estimate change in employment is half the moe – so not actually any demonstrable change at all.

    In addition, seasonal adjustments may be less accurate that usual for March and April, due to the very late Easter. We need a few more months figures before we can see if there is any prospect of long term improvement – but the data so far are no promising. The current employment rate is near identical to that in mid 2009, and is below that inherited by the Tories.

  37. Richard:

    You are right the March employment figures are good for the government. However, the Labour lead in the polls peaked in mid-March, so how does that square with your idea that employment is driving the improvement to the Conservative poll figures?

    Maybe there’s some unexplained time lag going on? Or are you suggesting the polls point to even better employment figures for April and May?

  38. TINGEDFRNGE

    Labour does have a policy for derficit reduction and if there ws a GE tomorrow that policy would have been fuly explained and costed.

    Ed and Ed do need to articulate that policy more and get their ideas over to all sections of the media. Ed M will probably have to do a bit of exposure stuff in Hello or OK too if he’s going to improve his likeability.

    I’m involved with Labour party policy development and attending events related to this and colleagues on this Board are doing quite a lot of the research for me – many thanks!

  39. I suspect that in the next 18 months, the general public will find inflationary price rises hitting their personal finances noticeably.

    This will have the usual knock-on efect of reducing the government’s popularity. However, the Conservatives have proved to be remarkedly resilient over the last year with the LibDems taking most of the flak.

    The Tories are taking the long term view, eyeing up the election in 2015. You only need to be popular on the day the election takes place. Worked very well for Mrs.Thatcher.

  40. This polling movement is quite interesting. It may just be me, but before May 5th, we were seeing polls along the line of 36/41/12. Now they’re 39/41/9. The movement seems to have been from Liberal Democrat to Conservative, although I’d need to look at the breaks more closely. UKIP also seems to have dipped a bit, heading back to the Conservatives.

    It looks to me like Labour and the Conservatives are consolidating the fragmented electorate again. If an election were to be held today, it would have the highest combined LabCon share since the 1970 general election. My guess would be that as Labour pulled ahead, combined with being galvanized by No2AV, many Conservative-leaning voters have backed what they see as the safer bet – voting UKIP or the Liberal half of Liberal Democrat isn’t as safe when Labour looks to win as voting Conservative would be.

    If this is the case, then I think large leads will be very rare. Prior to and including 1970, but not including 1966 and 1945 as they weren’t exactly ordinary elections, the largest margin of victory in a general election was 5.8%, and most margins tended to be sub 4%. Those expecting Labour to pull strongly away, will, I think, be disappointed.

  41. ROBIN

    “We need a few more months figures before we can see if there is any prospect of long term improvement ”

    I agree

  42. @David B
    What deficit ?

    General

    German unemployment 7.1
    French unemployment 9.2
    However regrettable, I do not see the UK as being terribly out of kilter.

  43. @TOP HAT
    You mention HS2. I am in the thick of it and canvassed for the Tories during the recent elections. Every Tory candidate in Buckinghamshire was 110% anti HS2. However, UKIP did take two wards which will be the most badly affected by the train. In general terms any support UKIP has is with the right wing blue collar. Hate Europe, root of all evil, hate immigrants, far to many, why has’nt Cameron done more about it? Whilst they are a nuisance, even here where they think they have a chance, that is all they are.

  44. Colin

    You don’t necessarily make the state ‘smaller’ by privatising something or getting private companies to do certain things. If the state (national or local) continues to pay for it either directly or through subsidy or by mandate (eg compulsory insurance), then it is still a part of the state. All you’re doing is sub-contracting – as has always been done.

    It then becomes a matter of comparing all costs and outcomes. For example if a private company is cheaper because of poorer workforce pay and conditions, the state may have increased costs elsewhere. This could be immediate – increased housing benefit and family credit – or longer term – the effects of poverty and people not having private pensions.

    It can even be structural – instead of the workforce spending their money in the UK, the company sends it abroad. And of course you may simply be making things worse for the people you are governing – I’m thinking of such things as the privatisation of army housing here – as well as the workers who are part of the country as well. And private companies have not always been good at maintaining infrastructure – or anything else that requires long term thinking.

    Of course government departments are capable of making ‘savings’ by doing this sort of thing too. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

    I think you’re right about the increasing importance of inflation. Back in January I asked Anthony if YouGov were going to add questions on the topic to their regular cycle. He thought not, but suggested I look at Ipsos-MORI’s issue polling which goes back to the 70s.

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemID=56&view=wide

    You can see that Inflation/Prices has doubled as a topic of concern since the election and is higher than since 2008.

  45. The trouble is, there isn’t much we can do about inflation. If you look at the M4 money supply, which is a rough measure of exactly how much money is going round our economy, it’s actually been undergoing negative growth for some time. The inflation we are undergoing is not being caused by excess money in the UK, it’s being caused by rising commodity prices from abroad, and other external factors, over which we have no control.

    Raising interest rates now would be harmful, and I am in complete agreement with Mr. King on this issue. There is not enough money being supplied to the UK economy! Raising interest rates now would risk recession. The only real “advantage” I can see to a rate rise is that it would strengthen the pound, making imports cheaper, which would help with inflation caused by external goods a little. However, that’s still a faux advantage, because much of Britain’s problems are caused by our over-reliance on foreign goods in the first place.

    I think the best course of action we can take is simply to ride it out. 2.0% was always a silly target, and raw inflation should never have really been an aim of the Bank of England, they should have been more concerned with the money supply. If I were in their position, I would not rise interest rates until the money supply saw growth of at least 1.0%.

  46. To the avoidance of doubt, I am just pondering what lies behind the polls. We have the polls. It seems to me to use these pages to peddle one’s political views may not be a hugely successful use of energy, given the rather limited audience and rather decided viewpoint of that audience.

    It is clear to me that whether we are in recession, not in it, or just about to sink back to it, the voters are collectively not so fussed at present. Otherwise the support by the Conservatives and the rump of the LDs is not explicable.

    If the mood was to be summed up, it might be ‘sell in May and go away’.

  47. Howard

    When I talk about tax increases such as the VAT one being a cut, I do not mean it as a cut to one’s income, which of course it is, but also a cut in that one is receiving the same public services but paying more for them. If there are also cuts in the services, then clearly the bad deal is exacerbated.

    I don’t think many see it that way, as most cuts will only affect the needy which most of us are not.

    That’s not actually true. The same YouGov cuts questions I quoted last night also asked if the cuts were ‘Having an impact on your own life’. 65% said they were having an effect – only 25% not.

    Interestingly you would expect this increase steadily month by month, but it was actually down since April (69% v 22%). I suspect this may be because those areas least affected by local authority (rural and suburban) have not been as badly hit as some expected – and the local elections with their debate around such matters may have made people more aware. That said, the region claiming the lowest impact was London which didn’t have LA elections, but they also had a significantly lower score when the question was asked previously.

    The other unexpected fact is that the group claiming least impact is the Lib Dems (so you’re wrong but not untypical ;) ). The latest figures for them are 52% v 34%. This isn’t an effect of small sample size because it has been happening consistently. I can only assume that this is also because of where the remaining Lib Dems are and for similar demographic reasons – normally I would have expected Lib Dems to be more interested in local matters and so more aware of cuts.

  48. Roger Mexico

    Thanks

    The MORI polls are indeed very interesting.

    Inflation has rocketed up the concerns list-alongside Education & NHS now.

    It will become a major issue soon-whether that translates into a political judgement remains to be seen.

  49. @ Roger Mexico

    “The other unexpected fact is that the group claiming least impact is the Lib Dems ”

    You appear to have identified a demographic which we might call “Champagne LibDems”…….vocally represented here at present :-)

  50. Have just read a comment on Twitter that KC should not be “seriously sacked, just sacked”. Despite Cameron being caught off guard by this media storm, and pointedly not defending his justice secretary, the current rumour from No 10 is that Clarke will not have to go.

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