In terms of support for the strike, there is a pretty clear picture. YouGov have been asking questions on whether people support or oppose strike action for the Sun and Sunday Times quite regularly over the last year and have consistently found people more likely to oppose than support the strike. In the most recent questions the teachers strike was opposed by 49% to 41%, civil servants striking were opposed by 51% to 39%.

This has been broadly consistently since June – while it varies slightly depending upon what sort of workers you ask about and the other questions in the poll, generally speaking around 35%-40% support the strikes, 49%-55% oppose them.

It makes a little difference whether polls ask about public sector workers, civil servants, teachers, headteachers – there is marginally more support for teachers than “civil servants” – but we are talking a percentage point or two, not a vast contrast.

There was also an agree/disagree question on support for strike action in a ComRes poll for ITV this week, 38% agreed that they supported the strike action, 47% did not. There was also a TNS poll yesterday, which asked a rather strange question on whether people thought public sector workers should strike (40%) OR the government should continue with the reforms regardless (37%), which is rather tricky to interpret as it deals with both whether people should strike and whether the government should proceed.

While people are generally opposed to the strike, they are not without sympathy. While ComRes found people opposed the strike, another poll conducted slightly earlier found that 61% of people agreed that strikes were justified, and another found 48% of of people said they had sympathy with people striking against cuts (as opposed to pensions, though my suspicion is the difference is more sympathy -vs- support!).

Turning to the issue itself, people are pretty evenly divided upon the pension changes. 41% of people say they support the pension changes, compared to 44% opposed (although in this case, opinion has moved slightly in the government’s favour – in July the break was 41% support, 46% opposed, in June 37% support, 47% oppose).

Suffice to say, opposition to the pension changes is greater than support for the strikes (albeit, not by a huge amount). This shouldn’t be particular surprising – if you support the pension changes you are hardly likely to support strike action over them, yet there will undoubtedly be some people who oppose the pension changes but think strike action is unwarrented or counter-productive.


258 Responses to “Polling on the strikes”

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  1. Seems with the strikes there is a slight movement to CON as expected, as it reminds people of the perception that Labour are in the pocket of the union.

  2. It would be helpful to know of those who support the strike or are against the pension reforms, how many are public sector workers. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep your pension entitlement as it is, but you’d expect most people affected adversely by any change to object to it. If, of course, 30% of public sector workers were in favour of pension reform, that would be worth knowing.

  3. I think the union/striker narrative that “this Tory led government” is out to reduce my old age from being quite poor, to grinding poverty, is not working. The arguments have been aired on this board till the cows come home, but the fact remains that public sector workers will be very much better off in retirement, than the large majority of private sector workers. Those who say this (and yesterday’s announcements) is a Tory vendetta against the public sector are partially right. The expansion of that sector under the last government, many believe requires pruning big style.

  4. Julian – for the strikes, the poll had a public/private sector employment cross break, so I can tell you between 52%-54% of public sector workers support the strike (variation is between teachers striking, civil servants striking, etc), between 39%-41% of public sector workers opposed it.

    The most recent questions on the pension changes themselves didn’t have a public/private sector cross-break, so I’ll have to dig around old tables to see if any of the previous ones did.

  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15964306

    IMO the best analysis of yesterday this far.

  6. Some voodoo polls on the Grauniad:

    And a great round up of the results in a number of polls from LV09:

    • Evening Standard – Do you think Wednesday’s strike by public sector workers is justified? Yes 32% No 68%

    • BBC – Do you think Wednesday’s strike by public sector workers is justified?
    Yes 61% No 39%

    • Guardian – Do you support the 30 November strikes? Yes 79.3% No 20.7%

    • Daily Mail – Do you support the public sector strikes today? Yes 90% No 10%

    Especially like the Daily Mail one, if it’s correct!

  7. Yes, that Daily Mail poll really stood out when I looked at the list earlier. The other poll results are not surprising.

  8. NickP – that’s appalling. The Guardian should know better than to relay such tripe as if meaningful (scampers off to write cross letter to readers’ editor)

  9. ROB SHEFFIELD

    Interesting article.-thanks

  10. The strike is already making major political trouble for the Government… The Scottish one that is. The SNP are being lambasted by their left-wing opposition and some Scottish press for crossing picket lines and opposing the strikes. The SNP claim they have ‘a duty’ to cross the picket line…

  11. @JAYBLANC

    The breakup of the UK continues. No, nothing to do with devolution and independence, but the splitting of the leftwing from the mainstream once more. From an objective poltical standpoint it might make for interesting times. Sadly, the reality will be the division of sections of society for at least a parliament or two.

    Cynical, but maybe both the two big parties favour this. Just like old times?

  12. Rob – thanks for link.

    A grim but interesting article.

  13. The unions could have saved some money not striking in Northern Ireland. It’s a foreign country to Tories.

  14. Have now sent cross email. Should do this more often.

  15. Rob

    I notice that the article also talks about labours problem, that it almost has to commit to some kind of continuing cuts program. This was something I was thinking about in relation to the libdems maintaining equidistance and Danny’s commitment to cuts post election. The fact is, if we accept this economic model we must follow its logic to the bitter end and all three parties four if you include ukip, have embraced the free market doctrine along with the contradictory bank bailouts (less so in ukip) therefore there is no choice labour either signs up for the cuts or lies and does the cutting after the election. Or rejects the current economic dogma, if that is at all possible(it isn’t)

  16. “IFS director Paul Johnson said that the current cuts were unprecedented in modern times, and that more austerity, in light of worsening economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, would be ‘even more extraordinary’.

    Johnson said that this represented £15bn of additional cuts by 2016/17. However, yesterday’s statement revealed ‘nothing about where these additional cuts might fall’, he added.

    ‘Osborne will wait before clarifying his position. One presumes that he is keeping his fingers crossed that something will turn up which will make such deep cuts unnecessary.”

    OUCH

  17. It really annoys me that when people talk about the public sector pensions that they have to compare it with private sector pensions.

    Yes, I agree, the private sector pension is a very misserable deal and is a depressing excuse of a retirement savings but some people can’t even afford a private pension because the amount of payments they have to pay. And who is ripping the private pension scheme off, not the unions, not the government, not the EU etc. no, this is all due to the greedy pension excutives and CEO’s on the board who use the pension schemes as their own featherbed.

    Why is there not talk about private pension schemes owned by wealthy individuals who can enjoy a six figure retirement. Why is no one talking about that???? If we are going to go down this root of the race to the bottom pension scheme then surely we have to look at the people at the top first.

    But why does pensions reform have to be a race to the bottom. Yes, the retirement age is none compromising. We are living in ageing population and living longer so the retirement age has to go up and the government should probably try to get people over 55 working part time via a new tax credits scheme instead of putting the idea that you have to always work full time. But aside the pension age, why does that mean that pensions have to be devalued. Again, a race to the bottom.

    Sorry for my rant but it really does annoy me that people on private pensions always turn to the public sector as an excuse instead of looking at the greed of their own CEO’s. Seeing all the misserable and depressing comments on BBC just makes me want to learn french, pack up my bags and move their or even Sweden.

    Rant over!

  18. Andy C

    ‘Sorry for my rant but it really does annoy me that people on private pensions always turn to the public sector as an excuse instead of looking at the greed of their own CEO’s. Seeing all the misserable and depressing comments on BBC just makes me want to learn french, pack up my bags and move their or even Sweden’

    CEOs and their wealth is certainly true in terms of FTSE 100 and global companies, but the vast majority of private sector workers work for small firms, whose bosses earn little and work long hours. The CEOs have never had it so good over the last 15 years with massive pay increases and constant invites to No 10.

    Only 12% of private sector workers are entitled to the type of pension received in the public sector.

    You ask who is ripping off the private sector pensions and the answer is the Government, and the culprit GB. Some posters say that this £6 billion a year raid, probably a lot more now, does not affect the situation. I suggest if the Government repaid the tens of billions that it has taken from pensions few private pension funds would be in deficit and the stock exchange would be alot healthier.

    The people I feel most concerned about are those on lower incomes. At least ijn the public sector the Government is protecting pensions; not so in private sector unfortunately.

  19. RiN

    “I notice that the article also talks about labours problem, that it almost has to commit to some kind of continuing cuts program.”

    Yep- as said in recent threads IMO Labour are hamstrung in this debate until they produce their detailed economic policy- and I think they should work like hell on this for next 2/3 months in order to get it out late winter/early spring.

    “The fact is, if we accept this economic model we must follow its logic to the bitter end”

    FWIW- again as posted yesterday- my centrist view is that Labour should propose a little sunlight to contrast with the unending black dog of George, Danny, Dave and Nicks vision of the future yesterday.

    So they most certainly should have a deficit reduction programme BUT over a longer time period AND with significantly more investment and demand support than both he Tories *and* Lib Dems are both now chained the UK to to till 2017 at the earliest.

    That way Labour create a better employment and output outlook (alongside a direction of travel for deficit reduction clearly in place) that will be increasingly important to the markets and CRA’s once the EZ sorts itself out one way or the other.

    Alexander (presumably with Nicks blessing) made a huge strategic error IMHO saying that Lib Dems and Tories will be at one on economic policy (which of course ties your hands on virtually every other policy) at the next election/ have identical economic policy manifesto chapters. Last night I went so far as to say it was suicidal: my opinion has nor changed with bright confident morning !

    “embraced the free market doctrine”

    As far ‘alternatives to the system’ go: I don’t believe in fairies, the end of history or that their is an alternative to capitalism in the 21st century (though- as a star trek fan- I believe it will have gone by the 23rd- as long as we are not extinct by then).

    Moreover IMO the debate is about what ‘kind’ of capitalism/ how ‘mixed’ the economy should be.

    I don’t think the UK population actually support the kind of vision for the UK economy or society that yesterdays Tory and LIb Dem joint statement implies/ will result in…..

  20. The DM link from the Graunard goes to the homepage. No sign of a 90/10 poll. Tis a wind-up.

  21. RinN
    ‘The fact is, if we accept this economic model we must follow its logic to the bitter end and all three parties four if you include ukip, have embraced the free market doctrine along with the contradictory bank bailouts (less so in ukip) therefore there is no choice labour either signs up for the cuts or lies and does the cutting after the election. Or rejects the current economic dogma, if that is at all possible(it isn’t)’

    Yes, Richard, you are telling it as it is, the unpalatable truth.

  22. Henry-

    see my response to RiN just now (I won’t paste/ repot it)

    It is perfectly possible to reject yesterdays joint Tory- Lib Dem statement without abolishing capitalism.

    Cartesian dualisms !

  23. @Anthony Wells

    If you do make a habit of sending cross e-mails to the Grauniad on polling matters, might you also next time suggest to them the following: That in the interests of transparency, they in future choose to publish the results of ICM polls before as well as after the effect of ICM’s presumptions on the future decisions of don’t knows/refusals have been added into the mix. In other words, that they publish the poll itself as well as ICM’s prediction for the future based on that poll.

  24. @ Rob

    “It is perfectly possible to reject yesterdays joint Tory- Lib Dem statement without abolishing capitalism.”

    The current crisis is because the investment cannot be returned with profit in the existing economic system (the credit madness since the early 1980s and the offshoring since the 1990s only masked this problem).The problem exists even in Keynes when the Y (national income) = C (consumption) +I (investment) +G (government expenditure) becomes Y=C+G (used by the most Keynesian state socialist economies between 1960-1989).

    No mixed economy or institutional tweaking can help as it is more fundamental problem: who controls the capital expenditure (consequently consumption too) in the economy and under what terms and conditions.

  25. Rob

    I’m not talking about abolishing capitalism, but major reforms. Over the last 30 years we have surrendered power to the “markets” with the result that your hoped for labour “cuts lite” program will have to be approved by the market, if it included any tax rises on weathly people or proposes any kind of limitations on the market or heavens forbid rejects the concept of debt money, then It will be rejected by the markets. The jaws of the trap are closing, have closed? The markets rule and politicians are just window dressing.

  26. Lazslo-

    so you agree we can’t abolish capitalism?

    Or are you suggesting we can?

    If the latter then I’ll leave you to it!

  27. Laszlo

    Thank god your here!!

    Shouldn’t you have a bright red background with possibly a hammer and sickle, or does AW not provide such

  28. Banks seem to be panicked and the we have more guaranteed liquidity from the main banks.

    Looking shaky.

  29. @ Rob

    I don’t know who is “we”… There is no significant social, organised force that has this aim. In that sense, until there is such a force, capitalism cannot be abolished. Until then it is more likely that capitalism abolishes us.

  30. On the subject of the Markets we need a Government (or Governments) that calls their bluff.

    After all, Governments make the laws.

    I wonder now whether the Human Rights Act was designed to stop the rich being taxed upon their assets in circumstances like we might be about to see, where only a tiny number of people have all the money.

  31. The Government will – rightly – be encouraged by these polls in the context of their negotiating position with the unions. They know they can afford to play a long game, whilst the unions will feel they need to get a deal done before their public support disintegrates.

    Indeed, where do the unions go from here? They’ve had two strikes now, to little discernible effect.

    If I were in their shoes -which I’m not and never will be- I’d take the deal now and move on.

    Labour meanwhile – as the unions’ political wing – should be very concerned about what further strikes will do to their unity, and their VI. How much longer can their leadership wash their hands of this?

  32. @ RiN

    I would be happy with a deep red :-). The other two symbols were more for a historically defined period (I’m not sure if the worker-farmer alliance is on the agenda…)

  33. @ Sergio

    Very good questions. I’m pretty sure that those involved have no answer to them…

  34. Anthony

    NickP – that’s appalling. The Guardian should know better than to relay such tripe as if meaningful (scampers off to write cross letter to readers’ editor)

    [21 minutes later]

    Have now sent cross email. Should do this more often.

    Er Anthony that was a reader’s comment Nick P quoted:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/13514539

    If you’re going to start complaining about every innumerate comment on the Guardian website … :D

    Or you could just click the ‘report abuse (of polling)’ button.

  35. RiN

    “Over the last 30 years we have surrendered power to the “markets” with the result that your hoped for labour “cuts lite” program will have to be approved by the market”

    Once the EZ is soretd out one way or the other the markets and CRA’s will look much more closely at he UK (grizzly bear analogy form previous thread).

    In that post EZ crisis scenario economies that have employment and output crises will be looked upon negatively and this has already been raised by a number of commentators ans also CRA’s themselves.

    The joint Tory Lib Dem statement yesterday (and joint manifesto on the economy at the next election) is unlikely IMO to improve the employment and output outlook.

    Cuts lite- slower deficit reduction/ a longer time frame but a clear direction of travel combined with significantly higher investment and demand support will more likely IMO produce a more positive employment and output outlook which will be the key criteria (in the post EZ crisis) as to whether we get taken to the cleaners and technocratised by the markets.

    That’s the centrist economics of it. The politics of it?

    A said I don’t think there is a electoral majority for the grim middle and working class focussed deflation jointly announced by the Tories and Lib Dems yesterday- EVEN with a coupon agreement.

    So- and this is directed at Lazslo as well- the election will be won or lost not on effete notions from economic theory but on whether (a) individuals and families feel it was all ‘worth it’ and (b) whether they are not frightened by the main (only in 2015) opposition parties prescription for change.

    (a) was infinitely more possible in 2015 election campaign when austerity had ended by then as originally planned.

    But going into 2015 saying ‘stay the course/ two more years’ is going to be a MUCH tougher sell. Not impossible but tougher. This also depends on how effective (b) is.

    It also will end up now being largely a straight Tory V Labour fight with even sitting Lib Dems under sever pressure. UNLESS….Tim and Simon boot out the orange bookers and either renegotiate the CA or pull the plug..

  36. @Rob Sheffield

    I agree re the need for Labour to come up with a proper alternative economic policy. Balls would be far more credible if he had produced a much more detailed outline of the alternative approach that he would have taken, complete with alternative projections of the deficit and growth that would arise. The absence of that has allowed Osborne et al to grossly misrepresent and parody the case for a Plan B, to some effect.

    I am deeply unimpressed by Balls so far. His tactical approach (as above) is wrong. His responses in the Commons seem off target and his presentation can be garbled. He has chosen to largely ignore rather than rebut too many key Government claims – a case in point being Osborne’s feeble case about the impact of an alternative approach leading Britain down the Italian road of rocketing interest rates and market collapse. (On the need for effective rebuttal, have Labour forgotten the lessons of 1992?) And he carries with him the baggage associated with his key economic role in the last government.

  37. Roger – it was originally a readers’ comment, but the Guardian had then relayed the voodoo polls uncritically in their own journalists’ main blog.

    Unless they’ve taken it down, in which case “Hurrah! Victory!”

    [Alas not. Still there :( ]

  38. Rob

    By 2015 it will be clear to most that this austerity has no end in sight, the centrist parties will suffer a collapse in support unless they offer radical solutions I expect ukip to move into that space, possibly dragging the blues with them, but what will the left have to offer? Non voters will win the next GE

    As I have said before we are still at the beginning of this crisis and nowhere near the end.

  39. @RiN
    I agree. But is your “collapse in support” for the centre parties likely to include yourself (as least in terms of moving to a neutral background)? I’m wondering whether Alexander’s commitment yesterday to following Osborne’s economic policies into the timeframe of a second parliament might at least have caused you pause for thought. If not, what would it take?

  40. Phil

    In answer to your question

    Yes I have been giving it some thought, statements by DA do not affect my thinking but actions or inaction by the party conference could. But also my own political leaning are changing very rapidly or I am becoming more aware of where I stand. So I could say watch this space.

  41. JAYBLANC

    “The SNP are being lambasted by their left-wing opposition and some Scottish press for crossing picket lines and opposing the strikes.”

    Yes, I had noticed that both Green MSPs are on strike today, so the left-wing opposition are making a stand. However, so are Labour MSPs (though not MPs or Lords – is there an ideological gulf within the Martin family?), so it’s not just the left.

  42. @Rob Sheffield (and others) – re the Paul Mason argument – he’s been to Greece and seen the future….

    While his article is pretty depressing, to my mind it reveals just how wedded everyone is to an established orthodoxy, when we really need to radically revisit everything we know.

    I found the most interesting comment in the article the mention of how in the UK, the middle class spending power has been steadily eroded and how in this regard we are mirroring the US. This is a structural problem, but one that really came to the fore under Labour.

    Median real earnings nearly matched economic growth in the 1980’s (partly due I suspect to lower growth and increase in poverty at the low end) they increased at only 90% the rate of GDP in the 1990’s, but in the next decade the figure collapsed to 43%. The rich grabbed a much bigger share of growth, and the very poor also did relatively better thanks to redistributive policies.

    As we seek to raise the required finance tp balance the books, this is where the fundamental problem is. We are completely stuck in the mindset that says we raise taxes from those components that make up GDP, while at the same time ensuring the mass of the middle classes get less of that GDP, and kidding ourselves that we mustn’t touch the share of GDP going to the very wealthy as they will scamper abroad with their loot. So we cut services, give less to the poor, and squeeze the middle even harder. Meanwhile, assets grow and asset holder get richer.

    Asset bubbles were the key aspects leading into the crisis, and assets will be the key to getting us out. We are in an absolute emergency – on the cusp of a depression, with massive social and political risks. It is, in effect, a national emergency on akin to war, and we need to adopt a similar response.

    In WW2, farmers (owner occupiers and tenants) were summarily evicted from their farms if the Min of Ag considered them to be ineffective or failing to meet required output standards. They were given days to leave, the state took ownership of the land and farm house, and these were then given to farmer deemed suitable. The evicted owners never got their assets back.

    This is but one example of how the state can act when faced with a peril that threatens the very fabric of our society. We face a similar peril, but everyone remains obsessed with ‘% of GDP’. Get over it!

    The extraordinarily wealthy have done extraordinarily well in recent decades and ammased absolutely vast assets, mainly at the expense of the middle class. This is where we look to reduce debt, reduce debt servicing costs, hold off the markets, and provide the required assets to invest in the rebalancing.

    I sincerely believe the solution is really very simple, but will take a near revolution in how we perceive income, wealth and the balance of power between state and individual.

  43. RiN

    “the centrist parties will suffer a collapse in support unless they offer radical solutions”

    I simply don’t agree with this: its the old “Labour will lose if we are not left wing enough” malarkey.

    Been (Benn?!) there; done that; got the bloodied (and electorally thrashed) tee shirt !!

    The hard left have been tediously predicting this for over a century and it has never ever materialised. I really don’t think now or 2015 is any different.

    Despite the awfulness of our current socio-economic position, we have actually been in worse situations than our current one several times in the past 150 years.

  44. Alec

    “@Rob Sheffield (and others) – re the Paul Mason argument – he’s been to Greece and seen the future…”

    Note I was careful not to say whether I agreed with it or not (and reading some of my posts in last 24 hours you’ll get an indication as to what bits I do, and to what extent I do…)

    But he writes with clarity and with intelligence (like Hutton much better in written form than spoken word IMO).

  45. @RiN

    That’s interesting. One of the benefits of this site is the detailed insights it offers into the nuances of political allegiances, right across the spectrum. A bit like a focus group, I suppose.

  46. @Phil

    IMO RiN is really an anarcho-libertarian (sometimes incorrectly referred to on t’internet as a ‘left libertarian’): which is an honourable and internally consistent political/ philosophical position to take.

    It was also one which had a natural home during the noughties in the Lib Dems. But now I can’t see any party- perhaps the greens. Certainly not the ‘standard hard left’ such as the SWP.

    That’s my view from almost two years debating with him: he’ll correct me if I am way off the mark.

  47. @Rob Sheffield – “Despite the awfulness of our current socio-economic position, we have actually been in worse situations than our current one several times in the past 150 years.”

    In one sense, I don’t believe we have been. I don’t believe we have ever been in the position where so much of the burden for sorting out the mess has to be concentrated on the shoulders of the middle earners, and where the disparities between income and wealth levels has been so stark.

    This is what is having such a stultifying effect on economic growth, and why, under the current increasingly Americanised economy we have, we cannot escape from this mess without more debt. This is what America has been doing for decades, but they have the dollar. They have hidden these great social divides behind a mommoth wall of debt, based on a global currency.

    We can’t do that, and nor will the American’s for ever. At some point great social change will be needed, as much as financial reform.

    @Richard in Norway – I hear your pain. Join me – together we can march hand in hand. It’s time to be angry.

  48. Incidentally – in my last post, that should have been ‘mammoth’. A mommoth is something entirely different. Not sure what though.

  49. Rob

    I think that would be correct, I did once go out with someone from the swp and it was not my cup of tea at all, I might migrate to the greens. Certainly if there was an election tomorrow I would be tempted to vote green especially our I lived in Brighton.

  50. Alec

    “I don’t believe we have ever been in the position where so much of the burden for sorting out the mess has to be concentrated on the shoulders of the middle earners”

    Given that- for the period pre 1945 we actually had a small ‘middle class’ and a very large working class then you are probably correct.

    But the moments I am referring to all came before 1945.

    Useful to remind ourselves that it was the post war social democratic state (with its grammar schools and cradle to grave health care and welfare and pensions) that massively increased the middle class (across the western countries including the USA).

    Later, de-industrialisation and a shift from blue collar to white collar employment rather falsely made a lot of people think they were middle rather than working class.

    That is one idea that has taken a bashing in the last 5 years.

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