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. @Roger Mexico,

    It doesn’t surprise me that a cash giveaway to a geographical area containing 3% of the country’s population, but financed by all 100%, was likely to be a big winner in national opinion polls.

    It’s much appreciated down here in the SouthWest though. It’s hard to believe how high our water bills are if you’re not from down here. For many people its higher than their gas and electric bills.

  2. Colin

    I’m not confusing anything, banks can’t do dollar swaps in the marketplace because the cost is prohibitive, the reason the cost is prohibitive is because other banks do not trust the value of the collateral being offered and don’t trust the solvency of the banks offering said collateral. Furthermore it has never before been the central banks job to offer foreign currency loans at below market rates and yesterday they even lowered the already low rate, that is what you call a subsidy.

  3. @TheGreeny’
    ‘had thought that 18 months in the ‘blame Labour’ message would have started to significantly wane allowing them to recover, but there is no evidence of that ‘
    I would suggest that Labour has actually made a dramatic recovery in the polls – rising from 29.7% at the 2010 election to circa 40% now.As far as the’blame Labour’ message is concerned, in the latest Guardian ICM poll 30% still blame Labour whilst 24% blame the Coalition – hardly a huge diffrerence given that the figures predate the Autumn Statement.
    I largely agree with Rawnsley’s Observer article – a new government is given some leeway before being harshly judged for its shotcomings,particularly when the outgoing Government had been in power for a long time.
    My mind goes back to Harold Wilson’s Government of 1964 – 70.It scraped into office in October 64 with a majority of 5 and inherited a record Balance of Payments deficit from the outgoing Tory Govt..Wilson was able to blame the country’s economic problems on ’13 years of Tory misrule’, and after 18 months he coasted to a landslide win in March 1966 on the back of some improvement in the economy which he was able to contrast with his predecessors.Four months later, he was derailed by a sterling crisis which forced him to introduce crisis deflationary measures including a pay freeze- having rejected the devaluation option again.
    By the Autumn of 1967 his economic policy had been seriously undermined by a national dock strike and the closing of the Suez canal following the 6.Day Arab-Israeli war.Devaluation in November 1967 became inevitable – his credibility and popularity plummeted.No longer could the difficulties be blamed on ’13 years of Tory misrule – people were simply no longer open to that suggestion. Nor did he try to use the slogan in the 1970 election campaign.
    I suspect we may be looking at something similar today – the Government has not yet been in power quite long enough to be fully blamed for economic failures – though by this time next year its excuses are much less likely to be accepted.

  4. Richard

    It was done in 2007.

    h ttp://

    “The provision of liquidity is no substitute for other actions that Europe must take to solve its current woes,” said Tony Crescenzi, strategist at Pimco. “The world continues to wait on European actions on fiscal rules, discipline, and enforcement, as well as use of the balance sheet that matters most in the current situation: the European Central Bank.”


  5. Colin

    Your article proves my point, I don’t understand why you bothered. The same crisis situation in 2007 as now. But the lending of foreign currency is not the normal practice of the central banks and is only done when the market freezes banks out because it suspects them of being insolvent, has it been done before this present crisis?? In a non crisis situation??

  6. I am very sad at what is happening to pensions; private sector pensions should ideally be raised to match public sector; BUT the reality is that I have to accept that we cannot afford it. The strike therefore was futile and should not happen again. We do have a strong and determined govt, still surprisingly popular, and unions should accept the recently improved offer or it will be withdrawn and a lesser deal imposed. That’s reality as well.

  7. If the Eurozone crisis isn’t resolved and things go from bad to worse I believe we will need to consider a National Government to steer us through some dreadful times. This would then have 3 years up to the next election to try and keep the country together.

    This won’t need to be like the disastrous national government of the early 30s as we have come along a bit since then politically and economically but just might allow thye best brains across the political spectrum to work together for the national good.

  8. Tony Dean @ Richard in Norway

    “I agree. I think Salmond would take the other three to the cleaners! Even though I’m not a Scotsman I regard him as Britain’s currently most able politician! ”

    … apart from his deputy, that is.

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