The monthly Populus poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 39%(+2), LAB 40%(+1), LDEM 9%(-2). This is the lowest level of Lib Dem support that Populus have shown so far, and the first time they’ve shown them dropping into single figures (YouGov have regularly shown single figure Lib Dem scores, but Populus have tended to show them a couple of points higher).

Populus also asked whether people trusted Miliband & Balls or Cameron, Osborne & Clegg to run the economy better. Cameron, Osborne and Clegg led Miliband & Balls by 41% to 23%, a significant shift from when Populus last asked the question in March when the lead was 44% to 33%.


258 Responses to “Populus/Times – CON 39, LAB 40, LDEM 9”

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  1. @Colin – “It is for the employer to specify what sort of pension fund it offers , and what proportion of its cost it is prepared to bear.”

    That’s nonsense if applied retrospectively to final salary schemes, which is the point I was making. There is a huge difference between guaranteed final salary schemes and money purchase schemes where the benefits are not defined and contractually promised.

    If you are in a final salary scheme, with clearly defined benefits that are part of a contract made between employer and employee it is, in my book, tantamount to theft to retrospectively change pension entitlements that have already been earned unless it is agreed with the individual employer.

    As I said previously, negotiating a change to the basis on which future pension entitlements accrue is perfectly reasonable, but to take pension rights already promised and earned by employers is unacceptable, just as it would be unacceptable for an employer to tell it’s workforce that it is taking back 5% of last years salaries because there’s a bit of a cashflow problem.

  2. @The Other Howard.

    Well I worked for 27 years as a social worker with children and families. I was happy in my work but it was hard graft and I don’t think any of my colleagues were a waste of space.

    I was in a trades union as there was no effective professional body for social workers. I was glad to havethe protection of the union should things go awry.

    I think since their inception,trades unions have brought about improvements in pay and conditions or all working people.
    I don’t think employers would have done these things off their own bat.

    Maybe I’ve read too many 19th-century novels! 8-)

  3. @ Valerie.

    I am not against Trade Unions as such although with good manangement there is less need. However I am dead against Unions taking on an elected Government just because they don’t like its policies.

  4. @ Valerie.

    I meant to say I quite like 19th centuary novels with the exception of Thomas Hardy who I cannot abide.

  5. AW a question please
    I am being taken to task within my own circle by people who are saying that those ‘LD Lovers’, ICM polled 36 37 15 on May 3rd and the national projection of the May 6th local election results was nearly the same and indeed thus give LD those extra points that YouGov can’t find in its own surveys.

    So I’m being told that ICM is reliable and YG is …….(I won’t use the words).

    Do you have take on the last local election results (May 6th) that differs from the above and if so what are your reasons?

  6. @The Other One

    OT on Hardy
    Indeed, don’t read Hardy if you are depressed. It is powerful stuff and i can tell you that since I retired back to Dorset, I could relate enough real anecdotes that could equal TH’s misery with ease.

    It’s all that sucking of straws (now worsened with insectide chemicals).

  7. A very interesting You Gov poll on PB.
    Who is responsible for the state of the economy.
    LABOUR 40%
    COALITION 24%
    BOTH 24% (in my PO a cop out, might as well say I don’t
    know)
    NEITHER 6%
    Whatever, succour they get from being anywhere from 1 to 6% in front on voting intention, this has got to be a worry for Labour.

  8. Many thanks to all those who have sent me their good wishes – I am very relieved to be able to inform you that I’m leading a normal life and doing well t the moment.

  9. Alec

    ” There is a huge difference between guaranteed final salary schemes and money purchase schemes where the benefits are not defined and contractually promised”

    Erm …. yes…agreed-did I say not?

    You said pension rights are “deferred pay”-thata what I disagreed with.

    The employer doesn’t decide pay as a function of pension rights.
    Pay is decided on the basis of market rates & demand for particular skills.

    Pension benefits-at least in the Private Sector are decided on the basis of cost & affordability.

    “If you are in a final salary scheme, with clearly defined benefits that are part of a contract made between employer and employee ”

    Erm….yes-but not as a function of pay rate as you claimed.

    If you are given a 60ths scheme rather than a 50ths scheme………..or a DC scheme rather than a DF scheme -you dont try to adjust the pay you get.

    “As I said previously, negotiating a change to the basis on which future pension entitlements accrue is perfectly reasonable, but to take pension rights already promised and earned by employers is unacceptable”

    Yes-of course.

    Where has this been done ?

  10. Howard –

    ICM didn’t do any polling on the local elections, so we’ve nothing to compare to.

    YouGov did do an eve-of-poll question asking about voting intention in the local council elections (tabs here), and had topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 37%, LDEM 15% (pretty much the same as the BBC projected national share, but slightly off the Rallings & Thrasher National Equivalent Vote).

    Comparing local election vote shares with polls of Westminster voting intention is silly – people vote differently in local elections, and more to the point, give pollsters different answers if you ask about different elections.

  11. @ LORDT

    “A very interesting You Gov poll on PB.
    Who is responsible for the state of the economy.
    LABOUR 40%
    COALITION 24%
    BOTH 24% (in my PO a cop out, might as well say I don’t
    know)
    NEITHER 6%”

    Do you here DC make that aside at PMQ about EB refusing EM’s request that Labour now “apologise” for their economic failures?

    Don’t know if there was any truth in that-but the poll you quote & EM’s mea culpa on welfare reform might suggest there is.

  12. Valerie

    I’m pleased you feel Unison has supported you. I’m sure you appreciate that many social workers in the UK have abused children or colluded in abuse. Can you give me an example where Unison ( or Nalgo before it ) has helped to get criminal social workers arrested and convicted?

  13. @Howard

    Anecdotally, Yellow score ~6 percentage points higher in local than nationals. The local election results of CON 35%, LAB 37%, LDEM 15% and the current YouGov 37% LAB %42% LDEM 10% for the nationals are not incompatible.

    My rule of thumb is that Yellow lose half their MPs at 10%, then by 8% they’re down to single figures remaining, then by 5% they have none. And that’s in a 650-seat House – the numbers for a 600 seat House are worse. Yellow’s current 8-10% range is unequivocally very bad for them.

    In normal circumstances. Yellow would deal with this by ditching their leader, but I don’t know if Yellow has an internal protocol that enables them to eject a leader without his consent – I know this is traditionally Red’s Achilles heel (cf Brown), but I don’t know anything about Yellow’s internal constitution.

    I’m genuinely sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I fear I’m telling you something you already know.

    Regards, Martyn

  14. Just in case anyone is interested, I made a fool of myself yesterday.

    IpsosMori do in fact state that the figures on their achive page show “… the voting intentions of all respondents who name a party that they say they intend to vote for, whether or not they are certain that they will vote. This is not our “headline” voting intention figure.”

    “We currently regard the voting intentions of those ‘absolutely certain to vote’ as the most useful trend indicator.”

    So UKPR does show the “correct” Ipsos Mori figures… which indicate that currently by the “absolutely certain” criteria Cons rise 2%, Lab rise 1% and LD fall 1% (cutting the Labour lead from +8% to +7% compared with basic VI).

    In contrast AW has indicated that the “likelihood to vote” measure cut the Labour lead from +6% to +1% in the latest Populus poll.

  15. Those who were wanting EM to come up with something in Question Time have been answered… The evening news reports are very negative towards DC’s answers to the “Benefit Cuts for Cancer Patients” questions.

    This is exactly what I was talking about in the way that QM can have an impact, in that it could play out outside of the QM session. With McMillan Cancer Care almost vilifying DC over this policy and it becoming a news story in it’s own right, this takes it out of the realm of ‘political anoraks’ and puts it right into the main stream headline news.

    I think the “Ineffective Ed” tag goes the way of “Red Ed”…

  16. Well,I am very wary of this easy agenda for the right that
    any public sector strike will be an easy and foregone victory for the goverment.We have all seen what has happened in the so called Arab Spring,a popular uprising
    by people who did not have a voice.We obviously live in a
    democracy,but why did the AOCs comments have such
    resonance that the Tory press immediately launched a
    huge attack on EM.I would argue that his main complaint
    was that he believed that the coalition did not have a mandate for what it was doing.For people who wish to oppose the goverment,it is only the Unions who have the funds and the muscle to be able to do so.

  17. @JAY BLANC
    Depends what paper you read. “Using Cancer patients as political footballs, what right has a non political (by law) charity got getting involved in this” are some of the quotes.
    I am happy to say the beeb 6pm was even handed.
    Despite Miliband asking a very very specific question to the PM, which really should have gone to the relevant departmental minister, Miliband still could not really hurt Cameron. Those who pretend he did are Labour tribes people who read the Guardian. I have also heard the expression “cheap shot using cancer sufferers” stated.

  18. @Lord Tory

    DC told parliament in his answers that they had consulted with McMillan in forming their policy, and said that McMillan had not raised complaints about what was going to happen.

    Something that has now been directly contradicted by McMillan.

    Can you really ascribe this to Labour “smokescreen” politics, or do you claim that McMillan are lying and tricked poor innocent DC into this?

  19. @colin

    You very well may be right. I think longer term a bit of honesty would be the best policy. Clearly, the only people being fooled are our electronic friends and university academics, who would not recognise a commercial profit, if it defecated in their shoe.

  20. @jay blanc
    I take your word for it that McMillan have repudiated Cameron’s comment. I do not think McMillan would lie, so I must wait and see. However, this is not a famous victory for E Miliband.

  21. @colin
    May I congratulate you on the 88,000 people who are back in work. You may congratulate me for the same thing.
    That way this happy statistic will get 2 mentions on UKPR.

  22. @Lord Tory

    Quoting from memory the McMillan rep on ITV News… “McMillan appealed to all parties to review and halt this.”

  23. LordT

    Happy to oblige, since no one else was going to mention it.

    It’s one swallow-but I’m sure , lke me you refrain from turning it into summer.

    Actually I don’t quite understand how unemployment can go down whilst numbers on JSA go up.

    Perhaps the two stats relate to different periods ?

  24. Colin

    “Actually I don’t quite understand how unemployment can go down whilst numbers on JSA go up.”

    As I understand, it’s due to people being moved off other benefits onto JSA.

  25. A reminder to those that should know better – we don’t do post-PMQs “Cameron won”, “No, Ed won” here”.

    They are tiresome, predictable and pointless. Conservative supporters think Cameron won, Labour supporters think Ed won. It’s a waste of bandwidth and pixels. End of story.

  26. @Colin

    Those in full time training or education, for instance the growing numbers in train-to-work schemes, don’t count as unemployed in that figure. But they can still claim out-of-work benefits.

  27. LordTory,
    Just to correct you – the number of unemployed people fell by 88,000. The number in employment increased by 80,000.

    Which is a good figure, but it’s still a bit of a mixed message.

    The Good –
    Public sector employment fell by 39,000 but private sector employment grew by 104,000.
    So the private sector replaced those jobs and then some.

    The Mixed –
    But the number of full-time was only up 49,000 while part-time was up 31,000.
    So full-time employment still isn’t near where it should be, considering the near stagnation of full-time employment since the recession (Hint – both Labour and Tory govs have hidden the poor full-time employment figures by placing them with part-time).

    The Bad –
    This is a problem that both Labour and Tory governments shy away from.
    Employment for UK nationals was up 177,000 compared to a year earlier. But only 77,000 were UK born.
    Employment for non-UK nationals was up 239,000 on a year earlier.
    So 42% of jobs went to UK nationals, with only 18% going to those born in the UK.

    Actual hours worked is down 0.6 hours to 31.2 hours – which is linked to the problem of part-time employment.

    Other things ignored by the press –
    Average UK pay is £432 (excl bonuses), down 0.1% – bad when inflation is at 4.5%.

    Just for a little bit of balance.

  28. OLDNAT & JAYBLANC

    Thanks for that-should have done my own research.

  29. TINGED FRINGE

    Fantastic-thanks very much for that

  30. ANN (in Wales)

    Well,I am very wary of this easy agenda for the right that
    any public sector strike will be an easy and foregone victory for the goverment.We have all seen what has happened in the so called Arab Spring,a popular uprising by people who did not have a voice.

    Politically motivated industrial action against a recently elected Coalition Government, formed by Lib Dems and Tories, who between them received over 50% of the vote, is about the furthest you can get from an Arab Spring.

    Those who voted for the Coalition Parties may question the reasons for this action and as the Unions are the paymasters of the Labour Party it could damage the Party.

    I do not understand why those on the left, including our Archbishop feel somehow that receiving over 50% of the vote is undemocratic or unrepresentative whereas when Labour governed, or in many people’s eyes misgoverned following the GE in 2005, having received slightly over a third of the vote there was no problem.

  31. @Wolf,

    Please don’t resort to that kind of insulting comment with regard to social workers (comment to Valerie above). There are bad apples in every line of work, and social work is not exempt.

    However, you can take it from me as someone extremely familiar with the subject, that abuse or collusion in abuse by qualified social workers is vanishingly rare. I suspect what you are referring to is the professional failure to recognise and prevent abuse. That is absolutely not the same as “abusing” or “colluding in abuse”. If you truly believe that is what social workers get up to then I suggest you choose a different red top.

    On the other hand, I have to also respond to Valerie’s comment about never having met a social worker who was “a waste of space”. I have met dozens (at least) to whom I would happily apply that label, although I don’t think any of them were intentionally negligent. It takes a special something to be a good social worker and many of those in post simply don’t “have it”. A truly great social worker is in a position to do more good than almost any other public servant, but many social workers are merely “poor to adequate”. There is a longstanding tradition of taking a post, battling at it (often ineffectively) for a couple of years and then moving on somewhere else, leaving a pile of hopelessly ill-managed case files for temporary staff, poorly qualified SWAs and overworked colleagues to try and navigate.

    As for whether union militancy will extend to the police. No it won’t. There will be angry words from the Police Federation (indeed there already have been) but broadly speaking even the PF accept the need for government cuts. The main complaint is that Theresa May has not adequately “fought the corner” of the Home Office and that the police are enduring disproportionately heavy cuts to spare blushses in other departments. I would imagine the prospect of a general strike will have the PF looking to gain some sort of political advantage, but I doubt that it will be in the form of backing the strikers or passively interfering with efforts to deal with any trouble. More likely they will pressure the Home Secretary to use the “pressing need” for the police as a lever to obtaining a better funding settlement.

  32. The average wage drop during high inflation should be a warning sign. Stagflation is one of the worse case situations for economic failure during austerity measures.

  33. Wolf,
    You have obviously misread or not understood what I
    posted,please go back and read it again.I personally
    would not wish people to think that my intellectual capacities were greatly superior to the AOC.

  34. Wolf, I beg your pardon,the previous comment was for
    Henry.

  35. Henry,
    “I do not understand why those on the left, including our Archbishop feel somehow that receiving over 50% of the vote is undemocratic or unrepresentative”
    Have you seen any polling figures lately?

    You do realise why the LD figures have collapsed and subsequently why the Lab figures have risen?

    If the coalition were running on 50%+, the largest recipient of the 2010 LD vote wouldn’t be Labour.

    Or how about adding some actual polling figures –
    Nov 2010 Lord Ashcroft poll of LD voters in LD seats.

    “Had you known on election day that the Liberal Democrats would end up forming a coalition
    government with the Conservatives, would this have made any difference to your vote?”
    62% would vote LD anyway.
    21% would have voted Labour.
    7% would have voted for other parties.
    6% would not have voted.
    2% would have voted Tory.

    So that gives us 62% vs 36%.
    36% of 23% (the LD vote share) is 8.28%.
    So that automatically brings us down from the 59.1% to 50.87%.
    Just about scraping through at 50%.

    But you also have to remember that this poll is a poll of LD voters in LD seats, which means that it’s going to be more pro-LD than other areas – which knocks a small part of that percentage off.

    This also doesn’t mean that all of those who would have still voted LD would support the policy (or that these figures wouldn’t have rapidly declined as LD VI did after the tuition fee vote).

    So the whole ‘the coalition has 50%+ support of the public’ is a misleading abuse of the figures at best, and a wilful partisan pointscore at worse.

    Hopefully my response wouldn’t have been seen as too partisan itself. o_o

  36. Tinged Fringe,
    Thank you,I had begun to feel that I was a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

  37. @Colin
    “22.5% of income from council tax in 2009/10 went on pensions for council employees – up from 19 per cent in 2005/6.”

    Those are sensational figures, which is no doubt why Sky News chose to use them. But given that council tax accounts for but a small proportion of total council expenditure, most of which is funded from other sources, they are just about as absurd a comparison as they and you could make.

    What you don’t seem to understand from your later comments is the meaning of a contract of employment as applied to pensions. It’s a legal obligation of a defined future benefit in return for a defined current contribution from the employee. In the public sector, the employer is contractually bound to take the reward as well as the risk – and rewards were indeed taken in earlier decades through “holidays” from pension contributions when fund performance exceeded actuarial expectations. Contracts are not a promise which an employer can willy nilly renege on retrospectively. So the downgrading of the value of existing contributions through retrospective legislation (ministerial statutory instrument) to change the terms is indeed “legalised theft”, as Alex points out.

    The increasing costs over the last decade are mostly the result of stricter accounting standards governing valuations and of the reversal of the long term growth in the stock market, which actuaries has based their planning on. The deficits that resulted are mainly why the employer contribution went up. But in response, terms of the local government and other schemes were changed towards the end of the decade – by negotiation – to extend the date of retirement and increase employee contributions towards future benefits (as opposed to those already earned). You say “it can’t go on like this”. Indeed it would be very unlikely to do so, thanks to those changes.

    Finally, I happen to agree with you that defined benefit schemes have had their day in the public sector, and that a move to money purchase schemes is overdue to ensure that costs are more predictable henceforth. That change is not the point though, much as though you seem to think that it is. Money purchase schemes can provide just as much in the way of benefits, with the employee sharing the benefits if their pension plans perform well as well as the risks if it performs badly.

    What is the point is that whatever new schemes are imposed, the benefit of future pensions earned will have been unilaterally cut, while both rates of contributions and the length of time taken to earn them increase. That in addition to the 15% retrospective reduction in accrued benefits for the switch to the CPI. And all in addition to a two year freeze in public sector wages over a period when the RPI looks like increasing by around 11%.

  38. @ Henry

    “Politically motivated industrial action against a recently elected Coalition Government”

    While it is likely that some of the unions are politically motivated, can I point it out that currently the unions are acting against the government as their employer and not as a political organisation.

  39. When is a public worker strike ever not politically motivated?

  40. As to the legalised theft… It’s an interesting conflict between the British case law and the statutory legal systems. Under the former one, it is legalised theft, under the latter it is not, Parliament can do whatever they want. This is the reason why the Commission refused to be drawn into similar pension raids in three EU member states in the last three years (just to make it even more complicated the ECJ is on the basis of case law but uses statutory instruments as guidance in their decisions – most clearly in the case of Lex Britannia).

  41. @ Jayblanc

    “When is a public worker strike ever not politically motivated?”

    All strikes, directly or indirectly, politically motivated as they question the monopoly of private property to act in its own interests, hence the intervention of the government in the world of work.

    However, my point in the previous post was that technically the unions are acting against their employers and not against the political organisation called government.

  42. @TINGE FRINGE & ANN IN WALES
    I get fed up with this bad loser “the coalition have no right to govern” bulls..t. Had Clegg told Cameron that he was in love with another last year, the Tories were still the largest party, compared with any other party they won the election.They would have had to govern as a minority. Not ideal, but its been done before.
    That the LDs chose to form a coalition, to prevent the uncertainty of further elections every touch and turn, this is to their credit. Particularly when the nations finances are considered. One thing is totally irrefutable, Labour were booted out with bigger loses to the Tories than since before the second world war. For Christ sake get over it.

  43. Lordtory,

    A lot of debate at GE time as the coalition was being formed over whether the Tories should go solo.

    I doubt a minority government would have survived for long. The ideological differences that could (and probably would) arise from the mass of tough economic and foreign policy decisions needed, among others, would have led to constant legislative gridlock and another GE quite quickly.

  44. @PHIL
    It is hardly a state secret that large private companies began to pull out of Final Salary Schemes 15 or 20 years ago. Now they are almost extinct in the private sector. The reason is quite simply cost. Why then should public sector workers be entitled to these massively costly pensions when the vast majority are not? The nation could not afford this luxury for public sector workers, before the late crisis, so it certainly cannot now. As for your contracts of employment, they will have to be rewritten. Rewritten to a level of pension the nations tax payers can afford. Who the hell do you think you are, that your vastly superior pension is being funded by workers who don’t even have a pension. Very socially democratic I am sure. We cannot afford you, you are to expensive, your pension will need more money from you. That is it.

  45. LordTory

    “I get fed up with this bad loser “the coalition have no right to govern” bulls..t.”

    It’s an odd position to take. Those (like Labour) who love the English idea of Parliamentary Sovereignty need to realise that it is their preferred system which results in any group of MPs that can cobble up a majority in the HoC has free reign to do as it chooses.

    In English only matters, like NHS and education reforms, not only does the coalition have the right to govern, but the Tories had an absolute majority of 31 seats in England.

    It seems a strange definition of democracy that the party that gained a majority of the seats and 40% of the vote in England (64% and an overall majority of 149, if you count the Con/LD votes together) shouldn’t get to decide how to mess up English health and education.

  46. @STEVE
    As I say Steve, the LDs did the right thing for the country, but they did not have to. And if they hadn’t, Labour were in no position to do anything about it. I just wish their supporters would look at the figures from May 2010 and shut up.

  47. @old nat
    You worry about who messes up Scotland my friend.
    We will worry about England.

  48. @Anthony W

    “They are tiresome, predictable and pointless. Conservative supporters think Cameron won, Labour supporters think Ed won. It’s a waste of bandwidth and pixels. End of story”

    Excellently put. My only enhancement would be “Conservative newspapers think Cameron won, Labour newspapers (those few that there are!) think Ed won. It’s a waste of paper and rain forests. End of story.”

    Now I’ve written that and thought about it a bit more, the rule could be applied to quite a few subjects of debate. The scourge of partisanship, I suppose.

    As for PMQs, those few that I’ve seen that is, they seem to be more often that not scoreless draws with no clear winner in sight.

    @Phil

    I’m a very fortunate member of an occupational pension scheme that is one of the few remaining in the private sector that still offers a final salary defined benefits pension on retirement. It’s only open to existing members and was closed to new employees some time ago, although most new hires these days are usually agency and part-time anyway. That said the scheme has had real difficulties and accrued large deficits for the reasons that you outlined in your post. It’s been rescued by having a very effective Board of Trustees who have discharged their responsibilities excellently, trade unions who have fought tooth and nail to protect the hard won benefits of their members and employers who have made large lump payments into the scheme whenever required. Employee contributions have increased but, as you and Alec have said, the employee contributions are regarded as savings and the employer contributions as deferred wages. That’s the mutual understanding and obligation that exists between employer and employee and a cornerstone of the contract of employment that is a legal undertaking between the two parties.

  49. @Lordtory,

    Completely agree.

    ‘Political debate’ throughout the land is becoming more and more childish with each passing day. Having the last word, or getting in some tiresome soundbite, is now considered more important than mature, fact-based, ideological debate.

  50. LordTory

    That’s the great thing about democracy. People get to choose which group of politicians get to mess things up! :-)

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