Both Populus and ICM have new polls out tonight – two phone pollsters who have broadly similar methods, but today show somewhat differing results.

ICM in the Guardian have topline figures, with changes from December, of CON 40%(+3), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 16%(+1), Others 9%. In this Parliament ICM have tended to show by far the highest scores for the Liberal Democrats and, as a result, some of the lowest scores for the Labour party. This is partially to do with their reallocation of don’t knows (ICM, and to a lesser extent Populus, assume that half of those people who say don’t know will end up voting for the party they backed last time. This gives a big boost to the Lib Dems)

Meanwhile Populus in the Times has topline figures of CON 37%(+2), LAB 38%(-1), LDEM 13%(+1). Still to come tonight we also have YouGov’s daily poll in the Sun.

Looking at the rest of the questions in the polls, Populus also reasked a question from September on whether people thought it was difficult to imagine Ed Miliband running the country as Prime Minister – 68% of people agreed, up from 63% in September. Populus went on to ask those who said yes why they had done so – 38% said because he wasn’t up to the job, 33% because they didn’t know enough about him, 9% because Labour are unlikely to win.

On Labour’s economic policy, ICM had one of my much disliked “will X make you more or less likely to vote for party Y” questions on it. 10% said the change in policy made htem more likely to vote Labour, 13% less likely. They also asked who people trusted more on the economy, Cameron & Osborne were on 46%(+2) to Miliband & Balls on 28%(+5).

UPDATE: YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 40%, LDEM 8%, so Labour back in the lead again after the 5 point Tory lead in the Sunday Times. My impression taking into account today’s polls, YouGov’s recent numbers and the ComRes at the weekend showing the two main parties neck-and-neck is that the underlying position is probably a very small Tory lead of a point or so.

Also worth noting is the sheer contrast between different pollsters’ Lib Dem figures, with YouGov at one end with the Lib Dems at 7-10, ICM at the other extreme with the Lib Dems at 14-16, and the other regular polling companies somewhere inbetween, mostly showing them at 10-13. Some of this is down to how don’t knows are treated, but it probably also involves the minutae of weighting, when party ID or past vote data is collected and so on.


287 Responses to “New ICM, Populus & YouGov polls”

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  1. ALEC

    @ By my calculations, anyone contributing £39,000 to a pension will get £26,000 in relief, ”

    The tax relief on pension contributions is restricted now.

    As I understand it :-

    Tax relief is available each year( 2011/12) on up to a maximum of £50k contributions.The rate of tax relief on pension contributions will continue to be available at the individual’s marginal income tax rate .However, the charge arising if the Annual Allowance is exceeded
    will be at the full marginal rate of relief that an
    individual would otherwise have benefitted from
    i.e. no net tax relief will be available on excess
    contributions.

    There is a Lifetime Allowance for the value of an individual’s pension fund.From 2012/13, the overall lifetime allowance for an individuals pension funds will be reduced to £1.5 million .Funds that exceed this limit when pension benefits are taken will suffer a penalty
    charge of 55% on the excess if the excess is
    taken as a lump sum, 25% if taken in the form of a
    pension.

  2. Two interesting bits in The Times this morning.

    The Leader points out that the “founding idea” in Beveridge’s 1942 Report , was helping people back to independence with a reward for contribution which smoothed income through difficult times.

    Roland Watson writes that the “goodwill” in the coalition is eroding.
    He cites the working of The Quad ( DC/GO/DA/NC)-which used to be a “cosy fireside chat to iron out difficulties” ; and is now a formal “bargaining” forum in front of aides & civil servants.

  3. ROBERTC

    @”I find the term “Homosexual” to not be offensive”

    Nor me -any more than the word “Heterosexual”.

    Why should anyone consider either word to be offensive?

  4. COLIN @ ROBERTC

    A split infinitive, on the other hand ……. :-)

  5. @Colin – “goodwill” in the coalition is eroding.

    Evvery few weeks there is some comment about how David Laws is “desperately needed” in the cabinet … Cameron first started calling for his return this back in November 2010.

  6. I think Romney has no chance of becoming president. He earns too much to understand the lifes of the average American citizen.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16696347

  7. Re talk about coalition friction. Yes there probably is, but it would be worse if Brown was still PM and he was trying to work with Clegg. I am not sure that would have lasted 6 months.

    There is a difference between the relationship of coalition ministers and that of backbenchers who share different politics. There are probably 20 or so Tory backbenchers who can’t stand the Lib Dems. Most of these don’t hide this and regularly make comments. but often with good humour.

  8. @Colin

    As I understand it, the problem with the word “homosexual” is that it was, at a time, treated as a medical term with the insinuation that this was some kind of disability.

    However, that meaning of the word seems to have been long since forgotten. Whilst, in theory, I can understand why some people might find it offensive, I don’t know anyone who finds that offensive in practice.

    Not that this stops the muppets in charge of equality and diversity in most government departments. The Civil Service’s idea of equality and diversity is to come up with lists of new and exciting words to tell minorities to be offended by without actually asking them what they think. This enables government departments to be seen to be equal and diverse without the tedium of actually doing something effective.

  9. @Billy Bob
    “It came as a complete surprise to him that Labour had enjoyed a polling lead at any time in this parliament.”

    Anecdotal, but it rings very true, thanks.

  10. Personally, I find it astonishing that Laws should be considered for office again at all. Might as well give Huhne day release to attend cabinet meetings if he gets found guilty. And Brooks could take Coulson’s old job.

    Shameless.

  11. COLIN
    Coalition friction is to be expected given the Tories are trying to increase their popularity while governing…And the only way the Lib Dems are going to get attention is to publicly disagree with the Tories…Cameron seems to have pissed-off Ashdown,who is very close to Clegg and Paddy has publicly denounced Cameron on a couple of issues-Europe and Scotland…And privately Clegg possibly shares the same concerns that Ashdown has.

  12. “Not that this stops the muppets in charge of equality and diversity in most government departments. The Civil Service’s idea of equality and diversity is to come up with lists of new and exciting words to tell minorities to be offended by without actually asking them what they think. This enables government departments to be seen to be equal and diverse without the tedium of actually doing something effective.”

    Got any evidence of this?

  13. Borrowing came in lower than expected but public sector debt reached one trillion,a headline grabbing figure…If Labour were more organised,they could advantage of this to say austerity isn`t working

  14. Somebody did tell me this, but is a trillion what used to be a (British) billion (a million million)?

  15. @Colin – (10.10am) That is also my understanding of the situation. In otther words @Amberstar is incorrect in her earlier post, and it is indeed true that once you contribute in excess of £39,000 to a pension you will be receiving more in pension tax relief than the proposed £26,000 benefits cap. I’d say it’s a fair chance that Cameron is taking more in pension tax relief than the benefits cap – and it staggers me that absolutely no one seems to have asked him the question.

    If you extend the contribution to tjhe maximum relief limit of £50,000 you will qualify for £33,333 relief, significantly more than the benefits cap.

    It’s then well worth factoring in the employers contribution and the cost of this to the tax payer. Many top earners have remuneration packages that are skewed towards pension contributions, as these are effectively free of income tax (if under the £50,000 threshold) but at any level are free of 2% employees NI and 13.8% employers NI and also attract Corporation Tax relief at between 20 and 24% depending on the company. So the taxpayer is funding yet greater diversion of wealth towards the already wealthy, while we are told we have to cut public services and benefit levels.

    As I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily disagree with the benefits cap, I support the idea of trying to ease down housing benefit levels, and I have always firmly believed in creating incentives at the bottom end, if necessary by creating some level of pressure on benefit recipients through things like time limited benefits. For a leftie, I’m actually quite aggressive in my approach to benefits and the benefit culture.

    What I just can’t stand though, is to see the higher earners trousering shedloads of benefits (although neatly called something else) while lecturing the rest of us that times are tough.

    For example – abandoning completely the top rate pension tax relief would yield sufficient savings to increase the basic state pension by 25%. Not necessarily a sensible policy option, but a good illustration of how much we are spending on the wealthy and what we could do with it if we chose differently.

  16. NICKP
    Yup…And that`s the highest it`s ever been apparently…Even during the last recession and Brown`s borrowing spree,it didn`t go higher

  17. smukesh

    Even though I am a red, I am not sure that the borrowing can all be loaded on Osborne’s shoulders. Yes, I think we should be seeking growth first, and the austerity chop jobs first approach has increased borrowing, but even if Sarling’s plan had been followed, or a tweaked version of it, we would have seen borrowing grow.

    I think we should worry about debt and deficit later, when the economy is growing healthily. Until it does, cutting spending will lead to more debt and/or more joblessness/social unrest/crime/whatever.

    Putting a cap on benefits won’t force the jobless into work if there are no jobs to be had.

  18. NICKP
    `Even though I am a red, I am not sure that the borrowing can all be loaded on Osborne’s shoulders.`
    That is admirable of you and non-partisan…However,we both agree that austerity isn`t working…And Labour could use this to highlight that message.

  19. CHRIS N-S

    :”The Civil Service’s idea of equality and diversity is to come up with lists of new and exciting words to tell minorities to be offended by without actually asking them what they think. This enables government departments to be seen to be equal and diverse without the tedium of actually doing something effective.”

    I entirely agree

  20. Going over a trillion was inevitable. Even at the rate the coalition is cutting spending, the government will always expected to be still increasing the debt until 2014 at the earliest. Had Labour cut spending less, the trillion figure would have been passed sooner (although this may have been offset by a better economic outlook, depending on whose arguments you believe). Unless you wanted to cut spending even faster (which is politically unthinkable), this was unavoidable.

    If it’s any consolation, with debt as a %GDP, it’s not that different to France and Germany. And unlike the UK, France and Germany’s debt level have been like that for years.

  21. SMUKESH

    @”And privately Clegg possibly shares the same concerns that Ashdown has.”

    Exactly-was Ashdown a “front” for Clegg?

    I hope not-I make the assumption PA acted from principle on his own behalf.

    If it was a put up job that spells more & more problems.

  22. @Colin

    I haven’t even started yet.

  23. I think the problem with the spin and counter-spin is that nobody wants to say anything they think might be unpopular.

    Defending benefits is deemed to be dangerous. So we have Government and opposition agreeing that “something must be done”. But the solution never seems to involve more public servants actually helping get people to work, pursuing fraud or targeting landlords.

  24. Deficit/Borrowing December ( 9mths into FY 11/12)

    Deficit Dec £13.7bn ( PY £15.9bn)
    Deficit YTD £ 103.3 bn ( PY £ 114.6 bn) **
    Debt @ Dec £1004 bn *** -64.2 % GDP ( PY £ 883 bn)

    ** Autumn Statement forecast for end 11/12 £ 127 bn
    *** Autumn Statement forecast for end 11/12 £1044 bn

  25. ALEC

    Thanks.

    I remember your views on this topic ! :-)

  26. Poll Alert! – Well – not exactly. Petroplus have gone bust and closed a major oil refinery in Essex that supplies mainly London and the South East with immediate effect. There is speculation that there will be petrol shortages as a result, and I would imagine there is bound to be a price hike in any event.

    Fuel shortages have led to sharp but short term poll movements in the past, so it might be interesting to wacth any effects on London polling.

  27. Alec

    Another triumph for private enterprise over public ownership.

  28. SMUKESH
    @”And that`s the highest it`s ever been apparently…Even during the last recession and Brown`s borrowing spree,it didn`t go higher.”

    Brown’s “borrowing spree” provided the underlying impetus for the catastrophic deficit figures which emerged from the collapse of Tax Revenues in 2007/8.

    Labour bequeathed this Government an ANNUAL deficit of £157 bn pa -over 10% of then GDP

    The only question from then was-how high will Total Debt go before Budgets are balanced?

  29. ALEC

    @”f you extend the contribution to tjhe maximum relief limit of £50,000 you will qualify for £33,333 relief, significantly more than the benefits cap.”

    How?

    Tax rates are 20%, 40% & 50% ( over £150k)

    How is your figure of £33,333 on £50k (max) contribution possible please?

  30. @Alec,

    I saw the news item about Petroplus being in difficulty. I didn’t realise they’d actually folded.

    My first reaction was “how on earth does any company manage to get into debt when their core business is making petrol?”

    I suspect there will be some underlying mismanagement or even fraud involved somewhere.

    I wonder if the refinery will be sold off to someone else? It seems counter-intuitive that it would be unable to turn a profit. We have more people, and more cars, than ever before in the UK. And I don’t see that changing!

  31. @ Colin

    Re the deficit and overall debt, the chances are that any party currently in power, would have roughly the same levels at this stage. Had Labour won the election, they would have been making cuts, perhaps a little more slowly trying to keep growth going and people in job, but the overall deficit/debt I am sure would have been similar. It is just a slightly different approach, with Labour policy appearing to be more balanced between growth and spending cuts. The Tories on the other hand wanted to get the deficit coming down quickly to reassure the bond markets and it could be argued that they achieved this, with low interest rates achieved as a result. I am not saying that either approach was necessarily better, but that outcomes may have been the same. We won’t know and people will have to make up their minds at the GE in 2015, as to which party they believe.

  32. Colin

    You are right to highlight the collapse of tax revenues after the crash. But tax revenues need to rise not stagnate. That’s why we need growth.

    Spending cuts cannot deliver increased tax revenues…but they can lead to increased debt, as we have seen.

  33. @Chris N-S – “If it’s any consolation, with debt as a %GDP, it’s not that different to France and Germany. And unlike the UK, France and Germany’s debt level have been like that for years.”

    Have a look at this and be a little more frightened;

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/9031478/America-overcomes-the-debt-crisis-as-Britain-sinks-deeper-into-the-swamp.html

    This shows that total UK debt is getting on for double Germanys and 160% worse than in France (% of GDP). We are nearly 200% more in debt that the basketcase of Italy. Our government debt is quite good in comparative terms, household debt is just about the worst, we are very near the top end for non financial corporation debt, but financial sector debts are streets ahead of everyone else.

    In my view, this tells me we have the completely wrong strategy. By focuing on government debt – the more minor part of the problem – Osborne has expressly said he will make the other areas worse, in particular household debt, as his strategy depends on a massive rise in household debt to 2015.

    The US, by contrast, has been more expansionary and has seen their overall debt come down. Austerity is actually creating the conditions for a future debt crisis by applying the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

  34. @Colin

    However, in Labour’s credit, the national debt prior to the credit crunch was one of the lowest in the EU as a % of GDP. The only reason we’re at similar levels of debt to France and Germany now is that the credit crunch hit the UK’s tax revenues particularly hard.

    The debt problem we have now is nothing compared to what would have happened had we followed our northern European neighbours’ examples on acceptable levels of debt.

  35. Colin

    “How is your figure of £33,333 on £50k (max) contribution possible please?”

    A net contribution of £50,000 is assumed to have had 40% deducted if the contributor is on 40% tax rate.

    So 50,000 divided by 60 multiplied by 100 will give you the gross figure and the Government will make up the difference of £33,333.33

    Scandalous but true and Alec is right. Pension tax relief should be limited to basic rate relief.

  36. NICKP

    @” net contribution of £50,000 is assumed to have had 40% deducted if the contributor is on 40% tax rate.”

    Nick-I’m way past the time when I needed to understand this for my own tax bil-but could you provide a link to HMRC advise which states that pension contributions are deemed to be net of tax relief.

    I assumed that tax relief applied to the contributions made -ie the contributions are gross before tax relief.

  37. @Neil A

    Don’t know if this has any bearing… but petrol sales in the first six months of 2011 were 1.7bn litres less than in the same period three years ago (equivalent to 40,000 delivery rounds by fully-laden petrol tankers) – a 15% drop in consumption.

  38. CHRIS N-S

    Yes-agreed.

  39. Angus Reid
    Lab 37%
    Con 35%
    LD 11%

    Lab just ahead but with a big narrowing since November.

    http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/44297/tighter-political-scene-in-britain-as-labour-and-miliband-lose-points/

  40. R Huckle

    THanks.

    Broadly agree-AD’s growth assumptions would have been shot to pieces too.

    Its anyone’s guess what his revised plans would have looked like.

    As it stands-on the basis of the Autumn Statement-OBR now forecast a deficit at end parliament of almost precisely 50% of the deficit at it’s commencement :-)

  41. @colin – NickP is correct. If you are a top rate taxpayer and want to put a total of £1000 into a pension, you need to contribute £600 only – the other £400 is claimed as tax relief.

    What actually happens is that the pension provider will automatically claim the basic 20% relief, so you don’t have to do anything about this. Top rate taxpayers then claim the additional 20% back which is normally set against their personal tax bill, as opposed to actually going into their pensions.

    In my case, I was paying £100 pcm, into my pension, so I got £1200/80 X 20 as tax relief automatically added to my pension – £300.

    My accountant then wanted me to get my income at a few pounds over the 40% threshold, so I could then pay 40% on a hundred or so pounds of income and reclaim a further £300 in relief, so paying less tax for higher earnings.

    I felt this was a complete dodge and so while it was perfectly legal I instructed her not to do reclaim the additional pension relief.

    To be honest, I was quite surprised that both you and @Amberstar appear not to understand the mechanics of pension tax relief. If you two haven’t spotted this, it’s no wonder I remain a lonely prophet in the wilderness on this one.

    I must be even more boring than I thought.

  42. @Colin – from http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/incometax/relief-pension.htm

    “Personal pensions
    You pay Income Tax on your earnings before any pension contribution, but the pension provider claims tax back from the government at the basic rate of 20 per cent. In practice, this means that for every £80 you pay into your pension, you end up with £100 in your pension pot. If you pay tax at higher rate, you can claim the difference through your tax return or by telephoning or writing to HMRC. If you’re an additional rate taxpayer you’ll have to claim the difference through your tax return.”

  43. @Alec

    Some at least of the disparity must be down to much higher rates of home ownership in the UK than in Germany for example. In other words, the higher UK debt will be offset by higher levels of tangible assets in the form of brinks and mortar. So long as people need somewhere to live, rent is still a financial commitment, even though it isn’t a debt.

    Nonetheless, I can well imagine that UK households are up to their necks in non-housing personal debt..
    Are there any comparative stats which separate this out from mortgages?

  44. @COLIN

    I assumed that tax relief applied to the contributions made -ie the contributions are gross before tax relief.

    They are Colin.

  45. @alec
    Is that not what Colin is saying?

  46. @ALEC
    BTW, you mention specifically Personal Pensions, for those lucky enough, or old enough to have them, defined benefit works just the same.

  47. @Phil

    “Angus Reid
    Lab 37%
    Con 35%
    LD 11%”

    So three of the last four polls published have Labour in the lead. Surely this useless waste of space Miliband has to fall on his sword now, doesn’t he?

    Tee-hee, chuckle, chuckle, smiley face and all that.

  48. “That’s why we need growth.”

    Yes – but SUSTAINABLE growth. Not keeping going a blurgeoning (is that a word?) Public Sector whose benefit consistently is outweighed by its cost (financially speaking anyway).

    And Smukesh’s suggestion that the net debt reaching 1 trillion was a point for Labour to exploit was the funniest thing posted on here today! That would be a certain backfire, given that it’s the Government’s policies that have stopped us reaching this inevitable figure as soon as Labour ‘wanted’ us to reach it with their policies. Could lose Labour another couple of points if they pursue these lines?

  49. Billy Bob
    “Was having a conversation with an old friend recently – someone who takes way more interest in the political situation than most. It came as a complete surprise to him that Labour had enjoyed a polling lead at any time in this parliament. Not alogether surprising in that only polls showing a Tory lead are reported – and only those questions the client has requested are given consideration.”
    ____________________________________________

    I posted something almost identical a week or two back about my (politically aware and interested) family, who also believed that Labour we floundering in the polls.

    It’s reinforced by shoddy BBC reporting like the article on Breakfast before Xmas which stated that Miliband was under pressure as Labour was struggling in the polls – this despite Labour having been consistently in the lead for 12 months.

    But there’s no point whinging. Labour really should go on the offensive and get the message across. Every time they are accused on TV of being unpopular, they should respond “But the British people, when asked in opinion polls, have consistently put us in the lead for the last 12 months.” They should repeat it ad nauseum.

  50. ALEC

    @”To be honest, I was quite surprised that both you and @Amberstar appear not to understand the mechanics of pension tax relief. If you two haven’t spotted this, ”

    In my case-because when I was contributing to my company pension scheme -my pension contributions were tax deuctible-ie they were relieved at my marginal rate of tax.

    For £1000 of contributions, at a tax rate of 40%-£400 of tax was saved.

    This is as described in this HMRC advice :-

    “Occupational or public service pension schemes
    Usually your employer takes the pension contributions from your pay before deducting tax (but not National Insurance contributions). You only pay tax on what’s left. So whether you pay tax at basic, higher or additional rate you get the full relief straightaway.
    However, some employers use the same method of paying pension contributions that personal pension scheme payers use – read more in the section on ‘Personal pensions’.
    If you’re a GP or dentist and contribute to a public service scheme you are taxed as self-employed for part of your earnings so should claim tax relief through your Self Assessment tax return.”

    THe advice you quoted was in respect of Personal Pension Scheme contributions, where the pension provider claims the tax relief back.

    Two different methods it seems.

    I was thinking of Occupational & Public Sector Schemes-where you get relief at the appropriate rate on the contribution you make.

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