I didn’t get chance yesterday to do a full rundown of the Sunday Times poll, so with full tabs long since up, here are a couple of things worth noting.

1) The problems of the new child benefit rules. The principle of withdrawing child benefit from households with a higher rate taxpayer remain very popular, with 64% of people supporting it and only 25% opposed. However, the practicalities whereby a household with two earners paying basic rate could have a higher income than a single higher rate taxpayer, yet still get child benefit, is still seen as unfair by 68% of people.

2) Perceptions of coalition. In principle 22% of people now think that coalitions are a better form of government than single party government, 55% think single party government is better. 21% of people say that the experience of the current coalition government has made them more positive about coalition, 39% more negative (ideally of course there would a “attitudes towards the principle of coalition” question from before the last election to compare things to, but alas, I couldn’t track one down)

3) Selective education. 37% of people would like to see more schools select by academic ability, 20% are happy with existing grammar schools to stay but oppose any expansion, 27% think the existing grammar schools should be opened to children of all abilities. There was a surprisingly positive response to the idea of re-introducing the assisted places scheme, suppored by 67% of people.

4) Religion. 12% of people think religion is more often the cause of good in the world compared to 58% of people who think it is more often the cause of evil. Conversely, only 17% think Britain is too religious while 36% think it is too secular (the apparantly paradox is probably a difference between thinking globally, and the thoughts of terrorism and armed conflict linked to religion that would almost certainly have come to some people’s minds, and thinking locally)


36 Responses to “Some pickings from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll”

  1. My take away from this is that the Conservatives have done a very good job at selling the “Principles” behind their actions, and also then done a good job at putting more media time on those “Principles” than the actions themselves. This re-enforces my continued assumption that there will be big shocks to come on implementation, and a great deal of ‘buyer remorse’ is about to set in.

  2. (Continued from the previous thread)

    LeftyLampton,

    “Fair points about AD policy. But the BoE levers are very much about long-term strategic direction. QE and interest rates set the overall scene for the economic game. What they don’t and can’t do, is to give more focussed jolts to try to get spending/economic activity going again.”

    Actually, I’d argue that under the post-1997 regime, the case is precisely the opposite. However, there are two points here:

    (1) Strategic direction vs. tactical moves: the BoE can move very, VERY quickly. While in practice, they work on a month-to-month basis, they can theoretically change bank rate as quickly as they can announce it. That’s why we were able to have the Black Wednesday fiasco, where we had about four macroeconomic policies in 24 hours.

    In contrast, we rarely have more than one budget a year and the government’s room for maneuvere between budgets is comparatively limited. Back in the day, Brown very sensibly gave fiscal policy the jobs that it can do best: boost long-term productivity and finance expenditure. Although there is an argument for fiscal stimulus in a deflationary situation under current arrangements (the liquidity trap argument) that doesn’t apply when inflation is well above target and expected to stay that way.

    (I don’t agree with the liquidity trap argument, but it is accepted by a lot of economists whom I respect and if it applied right now I wouldn’t think that Ed Balls would be foolish to use it.)

    (2) Can monetary policy create quick jolts to spending? If done seriously, it certainly can even under very unfavourable circumstances. For example, in 1933 FDR made a committment to boost gold prices through an early form of QE (exchanging new money for gold). The results were spectacular: industrial production soared and for a brief time the US economy firmly turned around.

    Equally, most of the fall in output during the Great Recession (or the Little Depression, as it should be known) took place before QE in the UK and US, when interest rates were still above 0.5%. QE2 in the US began to have an impact when markets started expecting it back in mid-2010, i.e. even the expectation of monetary policy has instant effects.

    The big mistake the coalition has made (and in my pretentiousness I warned Vince Cable about this back in 2010 when he came to Scotland) is that it has done only half of the strategy that saved the UK economy from the Great Depression. The National Government’s approach was to have a very loose monetary policy and a tight fiscal policy. That turned the UK economy around from Depression in 1931 to near-record growth in 1934. Instead, we’ve had largely neutral monetary policy and tight fiscal policy, and consequently nominal GDP (real growth + inflation i.e. actual demand/expenditure) is growing about 2-3% less than what we need during a recovery.

    In June 2010 (after the emergency budget) Osborne should have announced a change in the BoE’s mandate from a 2% CPI target to a 5.5% NGDP target (5.5% being roughly the trend from 1992-2007). That would have given the BoE a mandate for stimulus to offset the cuts. Incidentally, the better growth would have probably given the coalition room for some softening of the cuts in 2011.

    If Ed Balls would propose such a change to monetary policy, he’d have done more to lead me to Labour than any politician since Michael Howard.

  3. “the apparantly paradox is probably a difference between thinking globally, and the thoughts of terrorism and armed conflict linked to religion that would almost certainly have come to some people’s minds, and thinking locally”

    Yes, but if it does terrible things abroad, why would you want it here?

    Seriously, the more I read this site…

  4. Has Lansley had a Mrs Duffy moment outside Number 10? Certainly a huge pr disaster.One wonders what the
    media coverage will be?

  5. The” Mrs. Duffy moment” was the result of Brown’s disastrous reaction, nothing whatever to the presence of Mrs.Duffy. Anyone can Rent-a-Mob to attack a politician – this will be forgotten tomorrow.

  6. @Collin

    So, should Lansley be completely and obnoxiously dismissive of the questioning, then he might have a problem? Should he, for instance, fob her off by saying “I promise you waiting times in the NHS are coming down, it will not go private” then later dismissing the protesters as just insulting and to be ignored… Then he might have a problem?

  7. @ANN MILES
    “One wonders what the
    media coverage will be?”

    Ann as usual the right wing press will have a media blackout. If this was Labour being heckled, it would be all over the press.

  8. It is right and proper that the PM. Lansley and this government understand the deep resentment to any changes to the NHS that threaten its existence and indeed promote privatisation.

    We need more confrontations with MPs and Cabinet members.

    And, just as importantly, we want media coverage not blackout.

    I imagine today’s PR disaster for the gov will affect VI in the next day or two.

  9. Com Res tables now up

    http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/IoS_SM_Political_Poll_Final_Tables_20_Feb_2012.pdf

    Q1 ” Thinking back to the general election last year, which party if any did you vote for?”

    They really are making a dog’s dinner out of this poll.

  10. @MIKEN @LIZH

    I think that the polling reaction to Lansley’s barracking will be more nuanced. There were some special factors with GB’s infamous moment that don’t apply here:

    1) He was caught saying something different in public and in (what he thought was) private
    2) It was in the middle of a GE campaign that was ratcheting up tensions
    3) He was making negative comments about people who should have been his core supporters.

    From Lansley’s perspective the issues are very different. People who think he’s privatising the NHS are extremely unlikely to be his supporters, so he won’t lose by upsetting them. Conversely those who think he’s saving the NHS will have already discounted the noises from a set of people they think are dead set against any change.

    That only leaves the undecided centre ground. Unfortunately the polldrums seem to be indicating that we are in a pre-polarised electorate, with people already having made up their minds and largely being unwilling to shift. In this situation I’m not certain that there will be any significant shift in the polls as a result.

  11. PR disaster? Have I missed something?

    Reading the transcript it sounded more like a dyed in the blood ex union rep decided to have a confrontation without actually making any points apart from the fact she hates tories (no surprises there).

    I can’t see it making the left hate the tories more than they do already. Did Lansley call her a silly old duffer or anything else disparaging about her? No, so it can hardly be compared to the contempt that Broon showed Mrs Duffy.

    Reading the transcript Lansley was polite and when it became clear she was just there to create a confrontation (once she brought up 1979 it was clear she had no genuine arguments and was only there to try and grab a headline) Lansley had no business carrying on any impromptu discussions with her.

    The partisan left stirring up trouble hardly surprises me and it certainly doesn’t aid any arguments they may have. I’m sure the left love it though and think it’s a huge success.

  12. Alan

    “…it can hardly be compared to the contempt that Broon showed Mrs Duffy”

    I don’t recall GB showing any contempt for Mrs D. Perhaps you can explain? Indeed, I recall he went back to see her.

    The only thing GB was “guilty” of was hearing something other than “flocking”.

    That it was a PR disaster is not in doubt

  13. I think you may have also missed that this brings the media spotlight back on what Lansley was going to No.10 for… A ‘NHS Summit’ that excluded every Royal College, nursing and doctors group that had voiced their opposition to the reforms. It’s hard for Lansley to come off looking good from that.

  14. This is a PR disaster for the Tories because it diverts from the positive aspects of having a summit(even with few invitees) to the public anger against the reforms…It keeps the NHS reforms in public focus and may start to reduce Lib Dem and indeed Tory commitment apart from No 10 who are very steady in support it seems.

  15. @ Ann and Colin,

    Andrew Lanslay has had his Sharon Storrer moment, not Mrs Duffy moment (Sharon Storrer, you may remember, was the woman who button-holed Tony Blair outside a hospital and just shouted at him). It highlighted an issue but didn’t, on its own make a huge amount of difference (although that might have been because Prescott punched a protester on the same day!).

    My own take is that the rowdy scenes just reinforce the message that there the reforms to the NHS are deeply unpopular. It will be that image that remains from the day.

    As I always say – NHS in the news, Labour boost (and probably behind the inching up of the lead).

  16. I’d say the term “just a sort of bigoted woman” was pretty condescending.

    The flocking excuse that was dredged up even later frankly was pathetic in my eyes (ears?), it was a desperate transparent attempt. Even if he did “mishear”.

    The groups in opposition have made it very clear the only thing they want is to “kill the bill”, I can’t see any productive talks coming from them as to how the changes can be best implemented, as they aren’t interested.

    There are still plenty of groups who are willing to enter productive talks and it’s good these talks take place. Maybe the heckling will further polarise opinions but ultimately what will determine Lansley’s and the government’s fate is what effect the changes will have on the NHS, not how much noise is made about them beforehand.

  17. Back to the poll, I think the main point of interest is the appently paradioxical views on the CB changes.
    Jay may be right about Buyer Remorse but perhaps a more important lesson is the danger of policy making on the hoof having unforeseen consequences.
    It was pointed out on the previous thread that raising tax thresholds also helps 2 earner families more than single earner families.
    Now this does not bother me in itself but it does seems at odds with some conservative family values rhetoric to have 2 policies seeming to reward 2 earner familes more than single earner families. I guess this expains IDS’ tranferable allowance preference.

  18. If Cameron/Lansley are looking to plough on with the NHS reform bill by ignoring opposition from within the NHS, I think they are making a mistake, which will be reflected in polling.

    I see the Royal College of Paediatricians is now going to consult with its members on asking for the government to withdraw the NHS bill.

  19. “(the apparantly paradox is probably a difference between thinking globally, and the thoughts of terrorism and armed conflict linked to religion that would almost certainly have come to some people’s minds, and thinking locally)”

    Agreed, although another factor is probably some people with strong religious beliefs who would not like to see a more secular Britain, but might believe that other religions are false and therefore more often a cause of evil.

    I imagine, also, that a fair few people who believe religion is more often a cause of evil feel that Britain is already pretty secular, and there’s little need for it to become more so.

  20. As usual the usual left-wing public sector Luddites are rolled out, I would imagine that the sight and sound of an abusive harridan, obviously a boxing fan, would be enough to gift a few bonus points to the Tories. :-)

  21. It’s possible that people are thinking of different religions on those questions.

    It would also be interesting to see breakdowns of the religion questions by religious identity/affiliation. It would tell us much more about the responses than the standard crosstabs do.

  22. Don’t know if it’s been mentioned in the previous thread, but there’s a new Guardian/ICM –
    Lab 37 (+2)
    Con 36 (-4)
    Lib 14 (-2)
    So perhaps the last ICM was a bit of an outlier?
    Because if we go change from December, we get –
    Lab +1
    Con -1
    Lib -1

  23. An ex-union rep who hates Cameron and Lansley, now that is a surprise. I don’t think this lady’s screaming remarks will make a huge amount of difference to the argument on the NHS.
    I did think the lady doctor who said that her practice was well on the way to implementation without too many problems, might in fact carry more weight with TV viewers.

  24. The Guardian/ICM poll already shows that Tories have dropped 4 percentage points in a single month. Also 52% say the bill should be dropped.

  25. Link to the Guardian ICM poll:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/20/conservative-support-shrinks-voters-nhs

    Ken’s partisan outburst is rubbished by the ICM finding which says :-

    “A third of Conservatives (31%) and a significant majority of Lib Dem voters (57%) also want the proposed law to be ditched.”

  26. Much as I’d like to believe that the tide has turned and Lab is going back into a strong VI lead, we will have to see a few more polls first.

    Probably it’s just minor fluctuation.

  27. OZWALD………….I think you’ll find that the rent-a-mob faction was well in evidence today, if the majority of Tories were against the changes I would be worried, but they aren’t, so I’m not. :-)

  28. But the five point lead was already denounced on here as an outliner – so those very same people cannot then clutch onto the 4 point drop in the ICM Tory lead which has pretty much reflected YouGov data of a neck/neck with 1 point Lab lead. So did ComRes. I suspect other polls will show the same too.

  29. @LIZH
    I agree, the Tories down the tubes 4 points, does indicate damage to there cause. That only 52 % want “the bill” dropped is a pleasant surprise to me, I would have guessed 60-65%. BTW, the old dear ranting at Ransley got a big hearing on BBC, virtually nothing on ITV. The only people who will consider it a political disaster for the Tories are dedicated Labour voters. The average bod will think she is a daft old bat. There is no comparison with Gordy’s bit of bother.

  30. @Amber, @Roger Mexico

    I have replied to your points on the previous thread. Should you offer further rebuttal, I shall not be able to reply tonight because I’m working and will not be back ’til very late.

    Regards, Martyn

  31. I must say the heckling woman was a bit strange – at one point she shouted “this is like 1979”. I’m not sure in what way (apart from the LDs being at 7% in the polls).

  32. “4) Religion. 12% of people think religion is more often the cause of good in the world compared to 58% of people who think it is more often the cause of evil. Conversely, only 17% think Britain is too religious while 36% think it is too secular (the apparantly paradox is probably a difference between thinking globally, and the thoughts of terrorism and armed conflict linked to religion that would almost certainly have come to some people’s minds, and thinking locally)”

    Or perhaps the 36% who think Britain is too secular are amongst the 42% who don’t think religion has been a greater cause for evil then good in the world.

    I used to believe religion was a cause of evil. But I’ve changed my mind on the subject. I feel that religion typically isn’t the actual cause of evil, it’s just the excuse for evil. People do evil, horrible things and then claim religion as a justification. Well it’s not really the religion that’s the cause is it? No, the people who committed their acts of evil were always going to to do it, they just decided that they could defend their actions by using religion.

    Charles Manson had a church of his own (his blend of Christianity) and used religion to justify what he did to Sharon Tate and Rosemary and Leno LaBianca. Was it really religion that was the cause of those horrifying murders? No. The root cause of his evil was his own screwed up life, the failures of the juvenile penal system, and his way of exacting revenge on people he felt had scorned him. Religion was just one of the ways he justified it. Or take the Zebra Killers in San Francisco. They went around killing random white people. They had some weird alternative spin off of Islam. Was it Islam that actually commanded these men to go out and randomly and brutally murder white people? No. They wanted to do it and found religion as their excuse.

  33. “2) Perceptions of coalition. In principle 22% of people now think that coalitions are a better form of government than single party government, 55% think single party government is better. 21% of people say that the experience of the current coalition government has made them more positive about coalition, 39% more negative (ideally of course there would a “attitudes towards the principle of coalition” question from before the last election to compare things to, but alas, I couldn’t track one down)”

    I like single party government too. I’ll tell you one reason why. When I think of a President, even if I like my system of checks and balances and even if I like having divided government, I feel like the President should get to pick his own people for the executive branch and that includes cabinet secretaries. Generally the President gets to do that (except in extreme cases).

    Now a Prime Minister in a single party government typically gets to do that as well. He gets to pick and choose his own government and which MPs are going to be cabinet secretaries. When you have a coalition government, this becomes more difficult to do because the cabinet positions are doled out according to the coalition agreement. It also makes accountability to the voters more difficult.

    You might have a Prime Minister who’s doing fine but perhaps some Cabinet Secretaries who are just total screwups and do things to offend the population. Now, when you have single party government, you know what you have to do if you want to get rid of them. Vote the Prime Minister out. You vote him out, you get new cabinet secretaries. But in a Coalition government where you have secretries of different parties, who do you vote for? Who do you hold accountable?

    I’m reminded of this December 2009 concerned parents meeting at a high school in Georgetown (it’s a neighborhood in the District of Columbia). Most (if not all) the kids who go there are bussed in from outside the neighborhood and racial minorities. The D.C. Schools Chancellor, an awful labor union hating woman, fired a very popular and well respected principal there who the parents of the kids who actually attended the school liked. The Chancellor, in her infinite wisdom, wanted to bring in a different principal who would work to bring in local students and would be favorable to those living in the neighborhood (fat chance). The parents were unhappy. They showed up at public meeting to voice their concern. The Chancellor was there and she brushed off their concerns and refused to reconsider he decision.

    At the end of the speech, a Councilwoman, Yvette Alexander, got up on stage and gave an impromptu, rousing speech about how the only way to get the schools run the way that the parents wanted would be to get rid of the Mayor. The audience of angry parents responded with cheers. Why’s this? The Chancellor is appointed by the Mayor.

    And the parents did just that. In December of 2009, the Mayor had no opponent for reelection and looked like a lock. In September 2010, the voters fired his ass.

    Now in a single party government, this sort of thing is possible. But not in a European style coalition where you could get rid of the Mayor but you couldn’t get rid of the Chancellor because she’s part of another party that had to be included in order to form a government.

  34. Watched VC receive wave upon wave of Labour support over his appointment of Proff.Ebdon, whilst being castigated by Con. backbenchers.

    All in strange contrast to the YG Poll :-

    “Would you support or oppose universities
    giving applicants from underperforming state
    schools lower entry requirements than
    applicants from higher performing private
    schools?
    2010 Vote-Oppose:-
    Con. 75
    Lab. 52
    LD 61

    ” Do you believe it is the role of universities to be
    involved in improving social mobility or should
    they admit students purely on the basis of
    academic merit?”

    2010 Vote-admit on academic merit :-

    Con 77
    Lab 52
    LD 54

  35. Colin

    Rather leading phrases in my humble.

    I wonder what the response would have been if the question had been posed

    Student A, from a family with a record if high academic achievement, went to a top fee-paying private school and achieved AAB at A Level. Student B, from a family from which no member has ever gone to higher education, went to an inner city comp and achieved ABB at A Level. Do you think it fair that Student A gets a place at University X and Student B does not?

  36. LEFTYLAMPTON

    No I don’t.

    If student B was as able as student A, the I blame the inner city comp for not getting him to university.

    And I wouldn’t think it fair either if University X was instructed by the State to refuse a place to student A in order to give one to student B.