Unless it is called off I have no doubt there will be more polling on the teachers’ strike in the next few days, but as I promised yesterday, here’s what we’ve got so far.

Firstly on the issue of public sector pensions themselves. 38% of people think public sector pensions are too generous, 25% about right and 11% not generous enough (meaning there is a broadly even split between people who think they are too high, and people who think they are about right or not high enough). There is also a broadly even split (38% support, 43% opposed) towards Lord Hutton’s proposals (YouGov, June 18th). A more specific ICM question asked only if people would support raising the retirement age for public sector workers, and not including higher contribution rates and lower payouts – on this specific point 49% supported the measure, 41% opposed (ICM, 19th June).

Secondly, people support the principle of strike action. 54% think it is legitimate for unions to take strike action to protect the pay and conditions of their members, with only 18% disagreeing (Populus, 19th June). While many people think that people like police officers and doctors should not have the right to strike, a clear majority (68%) of people believe that teachers should have the right to strike (YouGov, June 18th).

That brings us to the specific strike this week. There are a couple of questions that have asked this – ComRes asked if people agreed that “public sector workers” were right to take strike action over maintaining their pension plans. They found 48% agreed and 36% disagreed (ComRes, 19th June), a second ComRes poll today asked if people agreed that “In their dispute over pensions, public sector workers have a legitimate reason to go on strike” – 49% agreed, 35% disagreed (ComRes, 27th June) – very similar figures.

Of course, thinking that someone has a legitimate reason to do something, isn’t necessarily the same as actually supporting them in that action, so finally we have a MORI poll and two YouGov polls that asked if people actually support the strike action. MORI’s poll asked if people supported strike action by “people in a numbre of public sector jobs” over job cuts, pay levels and pension reductions – they found 48% in support, 48% against (Ipsos MORI, 19th June.) The first YouGov poll asked if people supported strike action by two teaching unions and the PCS over pension changes, job cuts and a pay freeze – 39% supported it, 42% opposed it, so a pretty even split (YouGov, 16th June). The second poll on the 24th June asked specifically about teachers taking strike action on the 30th June over changes to pblic sector pensions that “mean teachers will have to work longer and pay more towards lower pensions.” This found 38% support, but 49% opposition. (YouGov, 24th June)

So, all that aside, do people support or oppose the strike on Thursday? It’s hard to see – people do seem to think strikers have a legitimate grievance and say they are “right” to strike… but ask if they “support” them going on strike they are evenly divided or opposed. Alternatively, the difference may be because ComRes and MORI has asked about public sector workers, YouGov have asked about teachers. No doubt there will be more polling on the issue to come over the next few days.

UPDATE: Missed out a MORI question, added it to the main text!


224 Responses to “Strikes polling so far…”

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  1. Nick Poole

    “Can Ed come up with a credible alternative to austerity? I would favour a jobs programme which would cost money (but not as much as paying university fees up front, reforming the NHS and various other initiatives that could be dropped or postponed. Although it might be too late for both.”

    Yes there will be initial set-up costs whenever it’s done, but I didn’t think that we could afford to delay any further the reform of the NHS if we want to preserve it’s usability and quality.

    What’s your alternative to university fees?

    Various other initiatives – didn’t know there were any (spending initiatives) that would be more than a drop in the ocean for helping austerity – even if dropping them, whatever they are, didn’t damage efforts to stimulate the economy.

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  2. Socal Liberal

    Your succinct summary of the 2011 election says all that needs to be said.

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  3. AW: I fear you consider me a culprit – I’m sorry for where I have over-stepped the mark. I do try to keep within the remit, but sometimes an exchange drifts.

    …while I have your attention Anthony, can I repeat my request (at post 13 in this thread) that Brighton Pavilion could have a nice green band at the top with the constituency name, not the grey one that is there at present?

    I was, as it happens, intending to respond precisely to a polling-related point about the strikes

    SoCalLiberal June 28th, at 11:13 pm

    “Here’s a question. Do you guys think the length of the teachers strike will lower support for it? That is, the longer a teachers strike draws out, the more support will fall for the strike.”

    I suspect that yes, the longer a series of strikes goes on, the less support there will be for the strikers. BUT I also suspect that there will be an adverse impact on Govt popularity, if the strikers create a good impression (aka Mary Bousted) (hence my earlier post, page 2, yesterday 12:34 pm about polling evidence of Tory supporters vs Lab opponents of the strike).

    Can anybody point me to any evidence based on polling in previous disputes? I guess the miners’ strike in 1984-5, but that didn’t have a Mary Bousted making the miners’ case. Any more recent disputes?

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  4. Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
    May by thy mighty aid,
    Victory bring.
    May he sedition hush,
    and like a torrent rush,
    Rebellious Scots to crush,
    God save the King.

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  5. Socal, you do need to stop being quite so gullible and believing everything oldnat tells you.

    May I suggest you check everything he claims, which is overwhelmingly a significant pile of bovine excrement.

    For example, the second verse of the UK national anthem hasn’t been used, or even recognised, for several centuries.

    A rule of thumb is that if oldnat provides an example of, say, how Scots are a peace-loving race who are being somehow unjustly treated, undemocratically oppressed and/or generally held back by a dominant larger/inferior neighbour…it’s time to check other sources for confirmation and corroboration.

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  6. Is it true that public service unions began threatening strike action in 2005 over pension reform, and that by 2007 agreement had been reached with the government?

    The union case this time is that the government has already ruled out negotiation on the three key principles and this is why strikes are going ahead; the Labour party while it does not support the strikes is saying that the government has taken a deliberately provocative approach, possibly as part of a wider campaign against the public sector, and relying on public opinion being instinctively averse to strikes.

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  7. @Ambivalent Supporter & others

    (Sorry to interrupt) Picking up a theme from earlier postings this week, I would challenge the assumption particularly dear to Blairites’ hearts that the South of England is the decisive killing ground for the next GE. I checked quickly on GE 2010 results – on my count 51 of the 87 seats which changed hands from Labour to Conservative were outside Southern England. Isn’t it truer that if Labour do well outside the South, and OK in London, and one or Southern areas with significant deprivation and/or progressive electorates (East Kent, South Sussex) they have no need to worry about Milton Keynes and the Medway towns. Some seats may also fall to Labour with the major switch from Libdems (eg Portsmouth S). If I was Ed Miliband I would be far, far more worried about Scotland at the moment than the South! Losing 20 seats there to SNP could mean no OM….Ed there are regular flights and trains to Edinburgh and Glasgow …! How about appearing at a Scottish public sector strikers rally tomorrow ? Or one in Wales ? You might be surprised at how many people outside Westminster and the Daily Mail would appreciate that..

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  8. If the Government are trying to provoke strike action to deliberately create a ‘summer of discontent’ then they’re playing with fire. Maybe they remember the ‘winter of discontent’ as being what produced their great victory, but forgetting that the strikers actually won most of their demands and the government of the day was harshly punished over it.

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  9. Ben –

    I had meant to do a nice Green band for Brighton Pavilion, but forgot all about it until this week when there was a lot of discussion about boundary changes on the page.

    I may do… but considering the seats pages will all be replaced with new seats and new versions in the not too distant future, I may not!

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  10. ANTHONY WELLS

    I think your warning about partisanship was unwarranted. Colin and others engage in perfectly rerasonable debate in a respectful and civilzed manner over a matter which is going to be subject to debate and polling over a long period of time.

    As you have said to me on a number of occasions, this is your private website and you can do what you like but none of the major contributors are ever unreasonable or rude or unpleasant in the way that RH used to be and that surely is a blessing.

    Many of us see this site as a place where we can be exposed to other views expressed in a considered way and you should be proud of the way you facilitate this.

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  11. Re: presumed equivalence between govt and union propaganda : there is no vehicle for union progaganda that has natonal reach. The govt has access to all media for its propaganda.

    And in any case the union’s job isn’t to win the public over to its case – in the teeth of a dishonest propaganda campaign against them – it is to win the strike for its members.

    Those are two different things and the demand that unions first win the propaganda war and then win the strike is, in reality, itself govt propaganda.

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  12. WELSH BORDERER

    A really useful take on the situation regarding Labour and the south and I support your idea about whast Ed M should do tomorrow. Noting AW’s recent strictures, you were being a bit partisan – watch it!

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  13. Looking to keep within AW’s strictures, I wonder if the Unions have made a poor fist of the presentation of their case.

    Even so, the polling evidence seems to be less antagonistic towards them than Cameron possibly hoped for, but I don’t really buy the argument that the government were deliberately provocative as they actually wanted strikes for political reasons.

    I was struck this morning with Greening’s problems in the R4 interview in explaining away the central charge that changes already made will mean that public sector pension costs will now fall in proportionate terms by a very substantial amount, and that on any reasonable measure they will be emminently affordable.

    I take a generally close interest in politics and economics, but even I was unaware of the forecast reduction in pension costs. This tells me that unions have been very poor at making their case to the public.

    I would be very interested to understand whether poll support for teachers and other unions could increase if the central fact that their relative pension costs will fall by over 25% thanks to already accepted reforms? The central message currently appears to be a mix of protecting members rights and getting rid of the government – neither of which go down that well with many electors, in my view.

    I suspect that if unions employed a much smarter technique to put across their message, allied to a vigorous instant rebuttal regime to counter constant scare stories (like @Colin’s assertion this morning that teachers can still get 3xpension as a lump sum on retirement, for example) they might see their quite substantial support climb a little higher?

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  14. Ben Foley

    I believe in November 1984 there was a poll that showed 90% approval for the Government’s action. Of course the economy was booming at that time which helped.

    Heard a quote from Thomas Jefferson which I found interesting ‘ A Government strong enough to give you all you want is strong enough to take all you want from you’.

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  15. I wonder what level of polling support for the strikes would be needed to drive the Governmment back to the negotiating table to do a deal?

    50%?

    That’s about the level now. That must worry the arch PR man. Will he be hoping to see that fall?

    If it doesn’t…what then?

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  16. Wolf, it wasn’t one-off polls I was interested in.

    Something more like h
    ttp://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemId=2437&view=wide

    which, if I have got the dates right, shows a fall in govt satisfaction as the miners’ strike went on, which it didn’t regain until winter 1986-7, reflected to similar trends in voting intention at http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemId=2449&view=wide.

    But while I can remember that as being a big, much covered ‘govt vs union’ strike, I instinctively feel there have been others since that would give a better/more recent parallel, but I can’t remember dates clearly enough.

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  17. Mike M S

    “Re: presumed equivalence between govt and union propaganda : there is no vehicle for union progaganda that has natonal reach.”

    Essentially – and I appreciate this may sound controversial to some – it’s called the Labour Party (remember that union bosses are stridently anti-Conservative), even if they are sharp enough not to support the unions per se. They do it by opposing the policy rather than supporting the unions.

    The anti-government slants also gain a lot of subtle traction via the BBC for a start, not to mention that the union leaders aren’t quite as media-shy, worker-loving, peaceable people as you make them sound. :)

    They are also as good as the government at making a show of being “prepared to talk/negotiate” with the other side when in reality they will never change their views to accomodate the needs of the economy even if they end up accepting some kind of inevitable deal after diiscussion.

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  18. @ John B Dick

    “Your succinct summary of the 2011 election says all that needs to be said.”

    Thanks.

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  19. @ Ben Foley

    “I suspect that yes, the longer a series of strikes goes on, the less support there will be for the strikers. BUT I also suspect that there will be an adverse impact on Govt popularity, if the strikers create a good impression (aka Mary Bousted) (hence my earlier post, page 2, yesterday 12:34 pm about polling evidence of Tory supporters vs Lab opponents of the strike).”

    I see what you mean.

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  20. @ Steve

    “Socal, you do need to stop being quite so gullible and believing everything oldnat tells you.

    May I suggest you check everything he claims, which is overwhelmingly a significant pile of bovine excrement.

    For example, the second verse of the UK national anthem hasn’t been used, or even recognised, for several centuries.

    A rule of thumb is that if oldnat provides an example of, say, how Scots are a peace-loving race who are being somehow unjustly treated, undemocratically oppressed and/or generally held back by a dominant larger/inferior neighbour…it’s time to check other sources for confirmation and corroboration.”

    I’m not gullible and I don’t believe or agree with everything Old Nat says. I will point out that he’s made a number of statements/predictions that have proven to be correct.

    And honestly, I’ve got so much work to do, I don’t have time to fact check every last thing he says.

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  21. Socal Liberal @ Steve

    OldNat drew attention to the theoretical possibility of a high vote for one party producing a majority government on less that a majority of votes.

    He didn’t predict that it would happen, but that’s closer than most.

    I’ve just read reflections by 28 nationalists in the souvenier edition of the Scots Independent, not one of whom claimed to have anticipated an outcome of the nature of what actually happened.

    I myself expected an SNP lead over Labour in the range 2-5, not 22.

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  22. John B Dick

    In the old CSYS History course, although students might be studying different topics with other staff, I included a “use of evidence” module which encouraged students to bring in evidence from contemporary issues that future historians might come across, and need to understand how much reliability they could place on that source.

    Even at the beginning of the module, most would bring in something from the letters page of a newspaper, and suggest that the level of venom in a letter about the character of another letter writer should warn the future historian that the source would need to be treated with extreme caution.

    Were I teaching that module today, political blogs would provide rich pickings for my students.

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  23. On the subject of the strike I would say that there is not an overwhelming opposition to them according to the polls. I think that this reflects the understanding of many people as to the difficulty and, the stress and more recently the frustration of being a teacher.

    I have been a governor of two schools in a tough area of Yorkshire and I’m always amazed at the dedication of staff, both young and old.

    I have also been a teacher, albeit thirty years ago and i know from experience that it is a hell of a stressfull job and thirty years on its much, much more difficult.

    BUT the prospect of a teachers continuing to work until they are 68 is a joke. Taking it to the extreme can you imagine a teacher of PE continuing until 68? If this goes through, more teachers will die before they reach 68.

    This decision on pensions that seems to have been made by the government will cause a massive cut in the number of young people going into teaching AND it will certainly make many excellent teachers question as to whether they want the prospect of of being a teacher for 47 or 48 years.

    The stupidity of it all is that nothing has been said publicly of the healthy state of many of the “local pension pots” for teachers and others in the public sector.

    Is it also the case that people will be living longer, which is another “mantra” of this government? With obesity and type 2 diabetes being at epidemic proportions, as well as the significant increase in the consumption of Alcohol, I wonder if the increasing life expectancy that is forecast is justified.

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  24. @ John B Dick

    “OldNat drew attention to the theoretical possibility of a high vote for one party producing a majority government on less that a majority of votes.

    He didn’t predict that it would happen, but that’s closer than most.

    I’ve just read reflections by 28 nationalists in the souvenier edition of the Scots Independent, not one of whom claimed to have anticipated an outcome of the nature of what actually happened.

    I myself expected an SNP lead over Labour in the range 2-5, not 22.”

    At the begginning of this year, if I remember correctly (and right now I can’t remember much), there were polls that showed Labour with 50% of the vote in Scottish elections and looking at an actual majority. And even when those leads dissipated, Labour still had a lead. Old Nat acknowledged the lead but suggested that the numbers would shift in favor of the SNP once the election camapign began and voters began paying attention to Holyrood rather than Westminter politics. He was absolutely right.

    He’s not right about everything (he’s wrong about me being an imperialist). But to say that he’s wrong about everything he says is (in addition to being overly agressive…..I think some people here need to chill out sometimes) simply incorrect.

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