A new YouGov London poll has been released here. Westminster voting intention in London, with changes from March, stand at CON 32%(+1), LAB 51%(+3), LDEM 8%(-1), a slightly bigger swing to Labour than the general GB polls are showing.

However, in the Mayoral race Boris continues to lead, with 48% to Ken’s 41%. The diference is because Liberal Democrat voters break in favour of Boris, and about a fifth of Labour’s Westminster voters would vote for Boris in the mayoral elections.

The figures probably flatter the amount of the vote that both Boris and Ken would get given that other candidates remain unannounced, but it does appears that Boris is maintaining a lead independent of his party.

163 Responses to “YouGov show Boris ahead in London”

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  1. Little reported but somewhat noteworthy news this morning is that Allied Irish Bank has now gone into default on a small number of it’s bonds. While the Irish government has gone to great legal lengths to prevent a formal default, all their actions have effectively been pointless as the International Swaps and Derivatives Association who decide when an institution has defaulted have decided that this is what has occured.

    This means that Credit Default Swaps (effectively the insurance against defaults) can now be activated by debt holders.

    It’s a relatively small sum of money but it does cover senior bonds as well as subbordinate holdings. The impact in itself will be small, but it points the way to some much larger defaults ahead. It also means that the Irish governments pledge to honour all bank debts has been broken.

    Along with Greece, its another small along the road to the second banking crisis.

  2. I was struck by this report in DT.

    “”The Deputy Prime Minister said he will act as a “peacemaker” to try to stop Britain grinding to a halt in a wave of national strikes due to start next week. The comments, made during a trade visit to Brazil, are likely to increase the tension between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats….Asked if he was worried that Conservative members of the Coalition were being too aggressive over the talks with the unions, Mr Clegg suggested some were “bristling for a fight”.”

    The shy exchange of smiles & jokes , the hand on the other’s shoulder , and all those self conscious signs of togetherness in the Rose Garden slip into the past as every day brings reminder of the truth dismissed in that brief burst of passion-He is a Lib Dem & I am a Conservative. :-)

    Did anyone else get access to UKPR refused yesterday with an “incorrect address” message ?

  3. @ FrankG

    Thanks so much for that – as always you are encyclopedic in your knowledge.

    This means, on current VI, that Cons are doing worse in London than in the country as a whole, and Lab doing better (and LDs doing just as badly as in the whole of the country).

    From a local elections point of view (next year) this would mean another drubbing for the LDs and possibly losses on a bigger scale for the Tories than this year.

    It also shows that the Cons are not doing that well in the key GE battlegrounds of London. They are probably also not doing that well in Birmingham, although I haven’t seen a recent poll there (anecdotally they are not doing that well, my family lives there!).

    Certainly no benefit for the Tories of jettisoning their electoral human shield of the LDs yet and calling a GE.

    (Btw – did the fixed term parliament thing pass?)

  4. May’s Borrowing figures were encouraging-down £1.1 bn on LY.

    But April/May is still up £1.5 bn on LY.

    In order to meet the current target of borrowing reduction this year-£17 bn, the remaining ten months of the FY will need to see average reductions of £1.9 bn pm

    The momentum needs to increase substantially on May’s performance.

  5. Adrian – the Fixed Term Parliament Bill has now passed the Lords and is due to go back to the Commons next to consider the Lords’ amendments.

  6. The economy is such a mixed picture at the moment – a genuinely encouraging drop in unemployment and then an equally alarming drop in consumer spending and drop in manufacturing.

    What does this mean? People are finding new jobs but they are not spending money as they still feel insecure? Also I know a lot of people in the Public Sector are facing job losses at the moment (my wife’s dept is planning a second wave of redundancies next year) and it’s only really been in the last couple of months that lots of redundancies are hitting the jobs queues.

    Overall it seems that Q2 will probably be pretty flat – Q3 will be the one to watch.

  7. @Adrian B – “The economy is such a mixed picture at the moment – a genuinely encouraging drop in unemployment….”

    Possibly. The lower unemployment (and critically, higher employment figures) were from Jan – Mar, but the more recent April claimant count was up sharply.
    There are also something like 40,000 temporary jobs for Census 2011 that will disappear from the next set of figures and the employment figures, while generally good, showed the highest number of part time jobs ever recorded.

    Stephanie Flanders wrote an excellent blog on the employment data. Essentially we have seen a 2.5% rise in private sector emplyoment for a 2% increase in GDP during the recovery. This is very bad news for productivity. Her conclusion is either that the GDP figures are wrong, or that the recession blasted so much capacity out of the economy that we don’t have the spare production capacity that people thought we had and that therefore the recovery will be very difficult with additional inflation risks.

    The GDP figures seem to be broadly consistent with other data and are not being subject to major revisions, suggesting that the error here isn’t great.

    The second possible reason behind the employment/GDP conundrum is altogether vastly more worrying.

    Emloyment is aways a lagging indicator anyway, and as the economy seemed to grow sharply in Jan/Feb and then go off a bit of a cliff in April/May I think we need to wait a little longer to get a feel for the overall picture on employment.

  8. Robert Newark

    “What do the Scottish Westminster MP’s actually do, with only 50% of the workload of an English MP?”

    Backbenchers are just lobby fodder. MP’s from Scottish constitencies who have posts in UK ministries with major devolved issues are the subject of abuse from the UK/English (and Unionist! )press.

    It’s much less than 50% of the workload generated by constituents.

    MSP’s not only do a proportion of the constituency workload, they are responsiblfor the majority of it because the issues that people write to their MP/MSP about are mostly devolved. So much so that my MP, when he had an MSP party colleague was heavily engaged in backing him up and being photographed with him as he went about his business.

    Since he has been on his own, he has had a much lower profile.

    For the same reasons, the case for separate island representation is much stronger for the Scottish Parliament than it is for the UK parliament, but the Islanders havn’t realised that, and would be offended if the area was combined.

    Also, have a thought for the practical circumstances of travel for the remote Scottish MP. A candidate at the last election from a remote part of my constituency (had he been elected) would have spent 30 hours on a weekly car and rail return commute just to get to Westminster as well as having a huge area to cover in the constituency.

    Including a ferry journey of several hours to bring constituency size up to an arbitary target would make it even more difficult. Travel by air is not always preferable.

  9. Alec

    “… what on earth must they [Cons] do amongst all the cuts and austerity to win next time round?”

    Get rid of Scotland?

  10. The tables from last night’s YG show a remarkable turnaround in Scotland! UKIP on 32% and the SNP on just 2%.

    Has Farage bought a kilt? Or has someone at YG made a typo?

  11. Which one do you reckon? :)

  12. Anthony

    The thought of Farage’s spindly legs in a kilt is just too hideous to consider, so I’ll go for the typo. :-)

  13. I cannot stress enough how different the political map of EU would be if tomorrow a GE was held in all 28 EU countries, except of those who have had already one in 2011 (Finland, Eire, Cyprus, Portugal, Estonia). If VI polls are accurate, we would have the following picture:
    Socialist-led/center-left gvts: Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, UK (All these are actually ruled by center-right gvts except of Cyprus).
    Center-right gvts: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain (the first 6 have already c-r government, the last two are actually socialist-led).
    Grand coalitions: Austria, Belgium, Eire, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands (Netherlands are actually c-r, Greece is socialist and the other 5 have already grand coalition governments).
    So it would be 13 c-l, 8 c-r and 7 grand coalition, instead of actual 19 c-r, 5 grand coalition and 4 c-l.
    The latest change was in Sweden, where, on June the 20th, for the first time c-l opposition, under new soc-dem leader, has OM in VI polls.

  14. @ALEC

    ” or that the recession blasted so much capacity out of the economy that we don’t have the spare production capacity that people thought we had …………..altogether vastly more worrying”

    Another view of that might be quite positive:-

    As demand returns, industrial capacity will have to be re-built-in areas where the emerging economy indicates demand.

    THis would not be surprising in an economy which will need to switch emphasis away from Financial Services & Retail. It would be a significant plus for GDP-and employment.

    As it happens , Industrial investment is lagging at present. Caution still prevails-but when it is replaced by confidence, if a surge of industrial capacity building ensues that will be very good news.

  15. @ OLDNAT

    or possibly it’s the belated influence of Dear old Monkfish at the top of the UKIP List for Holyrood!

  16. @Colin – your scenario could be entirely accurate and is perfectly possible in an ideal world. However, capacity building takes time and needs credit, and experience suggest that in recoveries caused by credit restriction, such capacity building is very sluggish. In turn this brings risks of internally induced inflation (as opposed to the imported inflation we currently have) which would require interest rate rises to combat etc.

    It’s absolutely clear that in the long run any economy or region can re configure it’s economy, but we currently need rapid growth to alleviate the debt concerns and so far the signs seem to be that we have hit capacity constraints miles before we expected to.

    In this scenario, Osborne’s laissez faire industrial strategy of hoping a weak currency will do the trick will be seriously ineffective. Active investment in productive capacity and training is the key to rapid capacity growth, but Osborne has instead chosen to reduce investment and capital allowances in order to pay big multinationals additional tax breaks to retain their finances in the UK.

    In effect, he is pumping support into the financial services sector rather than manufacturing – entirely the wrong approach. He needs to worry much less about where the capital goes and much more about where the jobs are. The taxation from employment and the resulting spending is much more beneficial to the Exchequer than that from capital and Corporation Tax, and he currently has his recovery strategy entirely wrong.

  17. ‘@SWEBB
    Glad to hear that the 6 counties would choose Scotland, before England. Perhaps after independence, the Scottish armed forces can deal with the next episode of your civil war. England has had quite enough of it.

  18. @Howard

    Most people do not watch PMQs, they watch/read/listen to the reporting on PMQs.

  19. Alec


    A familier refrain if I may say so. But it is very early days to decree that GO has “got it all wrong”.

  20. Top Brass very scathing (in tone) of DC’s “You do the fighting, I’ll do the talking” on [email protected], by pionting out that it is military cheifs who are doing the thinking and the deciding atm.

  21. Can I remind some of the same people as last week that we don’t do post-PMQs “Cameron won”, “No, Ed won” type-comments here.

    As I said last week, “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.”

  22. From today’s Scotsman:

    “Dr Rob Johns, from the University of Essex, said: “The numbers tell us that people thought the SNP were a competent government. That is relatively rare and people don’t usually give a positive write up (after a period in office].”

    That’s no surprise, and the main and sufficient reason that the SNP won by more than they or anyone else expected.

    Of course the LibDem vote collapsed due to Westinster coalition associations (and, in my region two incumbents with huge personal votes retring), but these votes need not have gone to the SNP and a fair proportion of them actually did not. Former LibDem voters (anti-Cons, in the main) were minded to make a change, and some other party necessarily gained.

    The choice was between the competent SNP with the risk of encouraging the drift to independance, or avoidance of that risk and voting for the negative and mean-spirited Labour.

    Competence is such a novelty. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

    It also appealed to former supporters of other parties, and a handful of tactical Conservatives.

  23. Forgive me if this has been asked before but given the rise of the SNP & the simultaneous demise of the Tories in Scotland, is it reasonable to surmise that many ex Tories in the country are now Nationalists? Or is that a bit too simplistic. Has there ever been any polling (perhaps by the SNP itself) to analyse where its support comes from.

    On the issue of the Northern Irish would support Scotland before England..thats hardly surprising when that is where a good percentage of them emanate from, 200 years ago.

    On employment I read that JCB are expanding massively in the Midlands and returning their workforce to pre recession levels. One swallow a summer does not make but dare I say…green shoots?

    And finally on the location of the (Con)federal parliament, surely that should be in Gods own County of Yorkshire. If not York, then Leeds. York was after all capital of Britain (as it was then) under Roman rule.

    Apologies for the range of topics, just catching up from last night.

  24. Just popped into the YG website and read some of the copmment about Public Sector Strikes.

    Seems to be a broadly even split of those for and against the strikes/unions/public sector workers.

    Will these strikes and the gov response remind voters (those who can remember) of the appaling confrontations between the gov/police and the miners in the early 1980s? There is a risk for the Cons that people will be remnided of the ‘nasty party’.

  25. Mike N
    Will these strikes and the gov response remind voters (those who can remember) of the appaling confrontations between the gov/police and the miners in the early 1980s? There is a risk for the Cons that people will be remnided of the ‘nasty party’.

    More likely they will remind the voters of the decisive leadership shown at the time, in order to return democracy to Parliament for the benefit of all the people, rather than be at mercy of a few demagogs & their storm troopers, intent on bringing misery to the lives of ordinary people who want to get on with their lives.
    In my view, whilst DC needs to tread carefully, so do the Unions & the Labour party.

  26. Time will tell what public opinion towards the strikes turns out to be (though frankly one day strikes are never going to have the impact of prolonged strikes like the 1980s!)

    For the record though, I looked up what polling I could find from the miners strike.

    Gallup asked a couple of regular trackers –

    One asked if people’s sympathies were more with the employers or the miners in the coal dispute, which started out with a small lead for the employers in Jul 1984 (40% to 33%), and grew to almost 2-1 in favour of the employers by the end of the year (51% to 26%).

    They also asked if people approved or disapproved of the methods being used by the miners, which was strongly negative throughout. In Jul 1984 people disapproved of what the miners’ methods by 79% to 15%, by Dec this had grown to 88% to 7%.

    Sadly they didn’t ask the same question about the government’s handling of the dispute.

  27. Robert Newark
    “More likely they will remind the voters of the decisive leadership shown at the time…”

    There is an alternative view that it was vindictive, but let’s avoid discussing this.

    “In my view, whilst DC needs to tread carefully, so do the Unions & the Labour party.”

    I agree. (I almost said it’s no bed of roses, but realised a rose will appear alongside my post.)

    But of course there is a difference between the miners then and the public sector workers today. There is (as yet) no equivalent of Arthur Scargill and moreover there are many millions of people who are either working in the public sector or are part of a family with one or more working in the PS. Furthermore, people in the 80s remembered the earlier miner strikes. And the power of the unions today is nothing like it was in the 70s or early 80s.

  28. @Mike N

    My memories of the miners strikes in the early 70s and in the 80s were that the public attitude to them was markedly different, mainly because of the tactics employed by the unions. In the long 80’s dispute, sympathy for the miners cause evaporated when Scargill stubbornly and dogmatically refused to ballot NUM members. This split his union and alienated the public who were then further disillusioned by some of the behaviour on the picket lines. The polling figures that Anthony quotes don’t surprise me at all and chime with my memory at the time. It wasn’t so much support for Thatcher, and I remember considerable public disquiet about police tactics too, it was more anti Scargill by the end.

    However, in the 70s when Gormley was leader of the NUM, and Scargill a mere trusty lieutenant, the public attitude was much more ambivalent. Many admired the miners and the hard and brave work they undertook and, while greatly inconvenienced by the strikes and the three day week, they tended to reserve and direct most of their anger towards Heath and his Government. Indeed, when Heath went to the country on a “who governs Britain” theme, shortly after the second miners strike, the public rejected him.

    It will be interesting to see how the public sector strikes play out, if indeed they take place at all. It may all rather depend on how the unions prosecute them and how public opinion is managed by the media. It was ever thus, I suppose.

  29. Crossbat11
    So far, no trade union leader similar to Scargill suitable for villification and sustained hatred by the media/gov has emerged.

    I woudl be very surprised if the gov do not try and avoid a series of strikes that could lead to large swathes of the electorate being alienated against the Cons (and LDs).

  30. @ MIKEN

    “There is (as yet) no equivalent of Arthur Scargill ”

    Try Dave Prentis.

    He plans will make Scargill’s little scrap look like a minor skirmish :

    “It’s no threat that we’re going to create action bigger than the general strike,” he said, in reference to the nine days of industrial action in 1926, held in support of coal miners, which involved more than 1.5 million workers.

    “The numbers involved will be bigger than the general strike,” he said in an interview at Unison’s conference in Manchester.”


    ” Mr Prentis warned of “rolling action over an indefinite period…….”I strongly believe that one day of industrial action will not change anyone’s mind in government. We are prepared for rolling action over an indefinite period.”

    Sky News

  31. Colin
    Maybe DP will fit the Identikit for villification.

    But he doesn’t seem IMO to be in the same mould as Scargill. Indded, nothing he’s said (that you’ve quoted) could be construed as imflammatory – more a warning perhaps?

  32. Crossbat – Alas my little Gallup book of old polls doesn’t have anything on the miners’ strikes in the 1970s.

    Looking back it does have some questions from the Winter of Discontent though. Gallup asked “To what degree do you think trade unions are controlled by Communists?”. To modern ears it sounds as jarring as “When do you think trade union leaders stopped beating their wives?”. For the record, 25% thought a great deal, 26% considerably, 17% a little, 11% very little, 8% not at all.

  33. It would be a mistake to imagine that Mr Prentis’ agenda is restricted to Public Sector Pension reform :-

    “…..The campaign to “break the pay freeze, stop the jobs cull and send this coalition packing” would be extended.
    Prentis accused David Cameron of defending the interests of “fat cat bankers” and sacrificing low-paid public-sector workers. But he also fiercely attacked the Labour party, threatening to withdraw support unless the party backed the union campaign.
    He said of the government’s action on public services: “They’re cutting further now than Thatcher dared. For them it’s unfinished business. They’ve declared war on our public services – with Tory donors, City firms, hedge funders back in the heart of government.”


    To repeat Mr. P :-

    “…..send this coalition packing”

    He is calling his public sector members out on strike to change the government.

  34. Colin

    I think you need to take into account how angry public service workers are about being targeted and scapegoated in this way.

    Kick us enough and we’ll want to bring down the kicker.

  35. Colin
    I note Mr P said “…send this coalition packing”.

  36. Colin
    I repeat what I said earlier:

    I woudl be very surprised if the gov do not try and avoid a series of strikes that could lead to large swathes of the electorate being alienated against the Cons (and LDs).

    I think it would be reckless of this gov, indeed any gov, to not avoid a confontation that could be hugely damaging.

  37. I do tend to agree that modern day union leaders seem much more moderate (in general) than their ancestors. I hear what DP says but he doesn’t seem to quite cut it as a ‘hard man’. Perhaps it’s something to do with his rather high pitched voice. Brendan Barber seems a fairly reasonable top man. In fact the only one I would put in the Scargill mould of hate & envy, would be Bob Crow but somebody must be keeping him quiet, so as not to alienate the public too quickly.

    Given that 45% according to the polls, would still vote Con/Libdem and some of the Labour vote may be soft, DP would need to be careful in trying to bring the government down. Cameron might just call their bluff & I don’t think it would be 1974 again. The public in general, understand the problems of the country and that there is no getting away from the hair shirt in the short term. It’s just unfortunate that union leaders are still as blinkered as they ever were. I knew many traditional Labour voters who voted for Mrs T in the 80’s and there is no guarantee that they would still vote Labour, if EM gets it wrong on the union action issue and is seen to be supporting something undemocratic. He might end up between a rock & a hard place if he’s not careful.

  38. The bottom line is that we can’t really predict the reaction of the public until we know exactly what the unions have in mind. A series of one day strikes would probably not have the public up in arms, but they probably wouldn’t “send the coalition packing” either. Longer or wider strikes, that cause other citizens to lose their own jobs, or their children to fail their exams etc would be a different matter.

    The current generation of union leaders seem pretty shrewd to me. I think they are angling for a partial climbdown from the government, rather than its total defeat over public sector reform.

    I suspect they believe, as I do, that truly militant action would be a gift to the government. If Greece does default on her debt in the next few weeks, then that calculation will become even more important.

  39. Oh come on Colin, are you really comparing Dave Prentis with Arthur Scargill? I think that is the stuff of fantasy! :-)

  40. @Rob Newark,
    Not sure that “45% would vote Con/Lib” thing really stands up to scrutiny.
    If there were a GE, due to the largest party bonus ‘feature’ of FPTP, Labour even losing a few % off their VI would probably lead to a lab majority or another hung parliament.
    If the LibDems had the seat count to make either coalition work, there’d be even more splits in the party with many more pushing toward lab.

    Unless you’re suggesting that the coalition would run as one party – IIRC polling (on a mobile device so can’t check) shows an extra 3% going to Lab and the coalition losing more than 3%.
    That could put Lab on a higher vote share than the coalition and would effectively end the LibDems.

    Either is far too risky so the gov wouldn’t risk calling the bluff.

    Most likely result will surely be just a strenthening of anti-union laws.

  41. Tinged Fringe

    Oh I agree it would be very risky for DC. I’m merely pointing out that DP needs to be careful how far he pushes.

    I agree that a more likely outcome would be tougher union legislation including a democratic requirement for more than 50% of the union membership to be in favour of striking before they can.

  42. Robert Newark

    “…given the rise of the SNP & the simultaneous demise of the Tories in Scotland, is it reasonable to surmise that many ex Tories in the country are now Nationalists? Or is that a bit too simplistic.”

    The rise of the SNP was not simultaneous to the demise of the Tories.

    Cons peaked in the 1950’s when they had more than half the vote, and Labour was not even as dominant in Glasgow and the West then as it was later. The Con decline began not only pre-SNP growth, but pre-Thatcher. She was to blame for many things, and she made it much worse, but she did not initiate it.

    Scottish Tories were a different breed and have effectively died out.

    The current generation, who have inherited Christian Democrat values and beliefs unwelcome in the modern Conservative party have more affnity with the SNP than the non-tribal part of Old Labour, (now also out of favour) to which a few ex-Cons were attracted in the recent past, and they find both NewLabour spin and the Nasty Party repellent.

    What has happened is that decent, middle-class burghers whose Christian values and Presbyterian egalitarianism predisposed them to reject the preaching of the priesthood of the Church of Adam Smith drifted away as the UK Conservatives were gradually taken over by free-market fundamentalists and English nationalists.

    Conservative governments were ignorant of the implications of Scotland’s geography and sparsity of population and had less interest in and knowledge of Scotlands issues and values not least because they had less representation. Lack of interest in Scotlands problems compounded the problem. Labour governments took their large majorities for granted and became backward looking and corrupt in some places.

    John Curtice credits Margaret Thatcher of persuading the Scots of the merits of devolution.

    In the North, first the LibDems, and then the Nationalists supplanted the Cons in the part of Scotland that more than any other found Westminster government incapable because of its remoteness and parochialism. That was not the result of no growth in enthusiasm and committment for Liberal philosophy, or for independence. The smaller parties were used by the voters pour encourager les autres.

    The SNP have never once complained about being used in this way.

    PR in the Scottish parliament gave them experience in the new parliament, a platform and a higher profile that they could not have achieved under FPTP. Until this parliament they were heavily dependent on the list. Now they exceed proportionality and are no longer a regional party. The shattering of the LibDem vote (some of it to Labour) has made both Labour and Libdems less regional too.

    That the Conservatives have declined is the result of the incompetence and mismanagement of the leadership in London who have focused on promoting their own faction. Scottish Conservatives were distinguishable from the one-nation tradition, but as both these streams declined, Scottish Conservatives found fresh fields and pastures new. Their loss reinforced the process.

    In Harold MacMillan’s party, Scottish Christian Democrats could co-exist with hanging and flogging racists in the Primrose League. I didn’t appreciate what an achievement that was at the time, but his successors – every one of them – have been lesser men.

    A new brand manager is wanted for the Scottish branch, the old one having been sacrificed though not as violently as the Aztec rainmaker-kings. Bavarianisation (or independence) is the only option that can save them from distinction.

    Meanwhile, all 15 SP FPTP Labour seats are marginal. The SNP has four years to develop its reputation for competence before the next UK election. Labour are in denial and will keep digging. The three UK parties have sacked the best leaders each of them have. Labour are divided and the LibDems see their problem as being collateral damage and a consequence of the UK coalition. The UK coalition will continue to offer opportunities to the SNP.

    Then we have to look forward to the upcoming Bannockburn anniversary and the BBC surfeit of Thatcher retrospectives and a state funeral as a cheap way of using archive and studio discussion to meet their public service remit.

    Competence is enough if you are lucky in your opponents.

  43. @Mike N/Colin

    There may be an attempt to build a straw bogeyman from amongst the current Union leadership and it’s been a long running theme of British right wing politics to have the spectre of union militancy stalking the land. To some extent it greatly assisted the Thatcher government in the 80s that self-defeating and generally unpopular leaders like Scargill could be wheeled out from time to time to frighten the horses. It worked then but I don’t think it will work now. Firstly, the industrial relations legislation brought in by the Thatcher Government, and maintained by Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron ever since, has greatly reduced union power and effectiveness. Secondly, nearly all the leaders of the now much fewer unions are generally moderate and conciliatory. Thirdly, union membership has greatly declined and it’s difficult to to organise industrial action in a non-unionised workplace. Fourthly, and most interestingly perhaps, the attitudes to unions have changed. I was struck by the ambivalence of the public during the recent BA strikes with as many blaming the gung-ho leadership of Willie Walsh as union militants.

    The recent vast turnout for the TU organised march in London suggests that right wing politicians drooling at the prospect of taking on the “hated” unions in a “Cameron-defining” moment later this year would be wise to think twice about the political harvest that they may reap. I sense changed times.

  44. Nick Poole

    “I think you need to take into account how angry public service workers are about being targeted and scapegoated in this way.”

    I do Nick.

    The question is -do the general public take it into account, when they recall the hammering taken by private sector workers in pay, hours & jobs?
    Do they think that the 20% of the UK workforce represented by the PS unions are entitled to immunity from the need to balance the nations books?
    Do they feel that public sector workers are “targetted & scapegoated”-or do they feel that PS workers’ pay , conditions & job security have become out of balance with the other 80% of the UK workforce?

    We will no doubt find out.

  45. Adrian B wrote
    ‘anecdotally they are not doing that well, my family lives there!’

    Well that’s decisive then Adrian (saw the exclamation mark though).

    Jay Blanc wrote
    Most people do not watch PMQs, they watch/read/listen to the reporting on PMQs.’

    Well this Howard certainly doesn’t. We were overdue a splash of gold.

  46. “extinction” not “distinction” of course.

    I should have added that many Labour supporters see the SNP as “Tartan Tories”. This may have its origins in an historic vote against the Callahan government or just the false conclusion you described.

    The facts are otherwise, and the SNP should be doing something about it.

    Scotlish Voting Compass puts the SNP where non-tribal Old Labour used to be out flanked by only the Greens while Labour are a long way away [somewhat blue Labour but not by English standards] and closest to the Conservatives.

  47. @ Howard,

    I want you to know that my scientific sample of three people in the Birmingham area was weighted to mirror the population :-) (But my Tory supporting mother stuck with Labour last time which was unheard of!)

    @ Anthony Wells

    I know you don’t like PMQs post-mortems but I wonder whether some pollsters might do instant response polls of floating voters on what they think of PMQs. A whole load of questions would be interesting from the obvious (who won the encounter) to the more subtle (what do you think of the tone of the debate? which style of questionning did you most find persuasiv?).

    I’d find it very interesting to see 1/ what people think of the format of PMQs and 2/ when floating voters are confronted with their leaders bickering whether any perceptions change.

    Any plans to do one of these soon??

    (In the states they seem to do these “instant response” polls at every major opportunity, but as Mark Blumhenthal says, they usually make no differerence to overall opinion).

    I fully agree with Colin regarding the forthcoming “industrial unrest”. I note that both sides in this argument on the board, have agreed that “time will tell”, or “we will see”. I predict, that the labour movement and the Labour party will be very badly damaged by the forthcoming confrontation.

  49. Colin @ Nick Poole

    “The question is -do the general public take it into account, when they recall the hammering taken by private sector workers in pay, hours & jobs?

    …do they feel that PS workers’ pay , conditions & job security have become out of balance with the other 80% of the UK workforce?”

    Now how did all that happen? Why does it follow that we should we be making life difficult for public sector workers because conditions have got worse for private sector workers? Would it not be better to restore the balance by improving the situation of the private sector workers?

    Why should we as an objective compete to lower quality of life rather than raise it? The left are sometimes accused of wanting to bring everybody down to the level of the majority, but here the right assume that (nearly) everybody should be bought down, except of course, the “wealth creators” who would flee the country if they were to pay more tax and who include all the people who caused the mess.

    Social class is not the force that it was, and “class” is not the term used, but there is a division in some management thinking between the many expendable low paid and the few highly paid employees who are specially favoured so as to retain their supposedly vital profit earning potential.

    Naturally that includes top levels of management as well as the boffin or engineer even though their tasks may demand little innovation or creative thinking and they merely follow current fashions.

    It’s a justfication of pay differentials of course not necesssarily cynical. Where it is a matter of faith, that’s even worse.

    Pay is a component of job satisfsaction of course, but not the only one. Some public sector workers get satisfaction from the nature of the job they do. Being reviled for their often modest “gold-plated pensions” works in the opposite direction.


    “Would it not be better to restore the balance by improving the situation of the private sector workers?”

    I guess the answer is -yes if someone will pay. Private sector workers realise their someone is the customer.

    Public sector workers don’t have that problem-they just charge the taxpayer.

    ” their often modest “gold-plated pensions” ”

    The problem with these “modesty” asertions is that they only quote a pension figure. It is never related to pensionable service, pensionable pay, or pension content ( Widows/Guarantees/Indexation)

    Only by comparing like for like on those components can one make a comparison between one pension outcome & another.

    However-and in the spirit of the “averages ” so beloved of the PS-lets take UNISON’s ” overall average pension in public service schemes”-£7800 pa.

    Look up an annuity quotation today for a 3% indexed Joint Life/ 50% widows , and you see that a 55year old needs £245k to buy that annuity-a 60 year old needs £220 k ( of course if that UNISON average is for lower pensionable service, the Pot needed is even greater )

    The average private sector worker is said to retire with a pension pot of around £30k

    To build a pension pot of £200k + over whatever that PS pensionable service is , is no mean feat-do the maths.

    ……or to put it another way, it is estimated that, on average, private sector workers would need to put 37pc of their salary into their pension to match the retirement income paid to a public sector worker on a similar wage, if you believe a report by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    So-yep it would be very nice for everyone to enjoy those “modest” gold plated PS pension rights…………….but whose going to pay?……………..the 80% of the workforce who don’t enjoy them?………well you can try asking them ……….which messrs Prentis & Serwotka are just about to do.

    So we’ll see what the answer is :-)

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