This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is online here. Topline voting intention is CON 34%, LAB 44%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 7%. On leader approval ratings Cameron and Miliband remain pretty much equal – Cameron is on minus 26 (from minus 28 last week) and Miliband on minus 27 (from minus 22 last week). The rest of the survey covered cuts, trade unions and education.

On welfare spending and tax/regulation changes, 51% of people are opposed to a further £10bn cut to welfare spending, compared to 36% who support the idea. There is also majority opposition to Liam Fox’s idea of temporarily abolishing capital gains tax (25% support, 52% oppose). Reducing employment regulations to make it easier to hire and fire is opposed by 47% to 38%. There is, however, support for means-testing free TV licences and winter fuel payments (57% support, 33% oppose). As one might expect, this is heavily skewed by age – under 25s support it by 57% to 17%, over 60s oppose it by 50% to 45% (and over 60s vote a hell of a lot more than under 25s!)

Turning to questions around trade unions questions, in general 37% support public sector strikes over the cuts and pension changes with 49% of people opposed. The idea of a “general strike” though is significantly less popular, with support dropping to 27% and 59% opposed. Amongst public sector workers there is support for strikes (49% to 40%), but a majority oppose a general strike (52% opposed, 36% support). The suggestion of using the armed forces to fill in for striking public sector workers is supported by a majority of the public (55%) and opposed by 31%.

On education Michael Gove’s own approval rating as Secretary of state for Education is minus 31, so he is seen as doing worse than Cameron and Miliband. However, people are actually fairly evenly split over his policies – academies are supported by 35%, opposed by 35%. On free schools 36% support their creation, 39% are opposed. 41% of people support a more traditionalist approach to education, 36% think it would be wrong.

On GCSEs, 53% of people say they have not a lot or no confidence at all in the exam, and 46% of people think they have got easier. However, this does not translate into support for their replacement – 44% think the exam should be retained, compared to 35% who would like to see it replaced.

Finally on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Bradley Wiggins is ahead on 20%, with Andy Murray and Jessica Ennis second on 13% a piece.


133 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 34, LAB 44, LD 9, UKIP 7”

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  1. But has anyone asked how well the Tories would be polling with Bradley Wiggins as their leader? I think we deserve to know…

  2. THE SHEEP

    … and after his recent performance, would he still be seen as progressive?

  3. Just two years ago- after the new Coalition Government was formed the Tories received an electoral “bounce” in the Polls- and were 10% ahead of Labour. Now it is Labour that are 10% ahead.

    People knew that “Cuts” were coming two years ago- and most supported the Tories who pointed out that cutting spending was vital to prevent the country going bust. Now, and with Government Spending actually continuing to rise- the Tories are more unpopular. WHAT HAS CHANGED?

    Could it be that voters may have supported cuts in principle, but not when it affects their own income and job prospects? Or the tax rises- VAT, Capital Gains, more folk paying 40% Income Tax- which were not Tory Election-Manifesto promises. People must be seriously hacked off to want to go back to Labour (so soon after wanting rid of Gordon Brown).

    People do indeed have short memories!

  4. @R Huckle – fpt ” …14 letters from the usual suspects”

    No 10 is said to be watching Mr Gove very closely, so these mediocre approval numbers will be something of a relief.

    There hasn’t been be a deluge of letters, but it is a case of wait and see. What will Boris Johnson do? How many stop-Boris candidates will emerge?

    Cameron is in a similar position to Blair in that he is not strong enough to sack Osborne (or IDS for that matter), but unlike Blair he does not have a wide range of support independent of Osborne (except Maude and Letwin – perhaps not even them when it comes to it).
    Much of his support outside cabinet may not be as quick on their feet as Bagshawe/Mensche, but they will be sniffing the wind nonetheless.

    The worst outcome would be a premature leadership challenge, with a damaged Cameron narrowly winning the vote of no confidence in the leader.

  5. @Ian Pennell

    “People do indeed have short memories!”

    Indeed they do. So quickly you have forgotten that the manifestos of the parties most people voted for did not include front loaded deep cuts to try and fix everything in a single parliament. “Most people” voted for a Conservative Party candidate, but “Most people” supported more gradual cuts having voted for different manifestos.

    I suggest that the 10% lead bump after the election was nothing more than human nature of “we support, and always supported, the winner”. That was always going to fade. And the following attrition on the Conservative vote share is due to two things.

    The first was the Omnishambles, and going into detail on that would take too long.

    The second is the feeling that the Conservative plan of front loading all the cuts as soon as possible into a single parliament has been too deep a shock to the economy. And the economic indicators seem to support this. This has lead those who opposed front loaded cuts in 2010 to support the main party who is still opposing them, while those who voted for the conservatives solely “to sort out the deficit” are obviously abandoning them.

    Either of those would probably have been fatal to a weak government in coalition. Both at the same time are strong poison.

  6. “We’ll cut the deficit not the NHS”
    “No Student Fees”
    “We’re all in this together”

    Of course a Coalition of Parties who’d made these manifesto pledges was going to be popular; until the voters discovered that the Coalition agreement had been seized as an opportunity to escape from their manifestos & blame each other…oh & Greece, they blamed Greece! :-(

  7. Latesy ONS figures show unemployment down 0.1% from the previous quarter and average wages up. I wonder will this affect polling?

  8. “Maternity and paternity leave is too much of a
    burden on business and should be cut”
    The 60+ age group supports this by a margin of 49% to 4%. But it’s a bit ambiguous how they feel that cut should be effected.

    So I suggest a follow up question along the lines of:
    “The cost of maternity and paternity leave on businesses should be cut by placing an obligation on grandparents to look after their grandchildren, where an employer requires a parent to return to work after less than x weeks.”

  9. Some voters up north and in Wales and Scotland and even a few down south do indeed have long memories.

    The Hillsborough talk is reminding some of what had started to fade too.

    There is an argument that says that the over 60s favour the Tories because they remember and never forget the 70s and union strife, the nest generation down remember the eighties and nineties and won’t forgive or forget the Tories.

    I wonder what the longer term reaction to the 13 years of New Labour? So far it doesn’t seem to have harmed Labour too much, but then we haven’t had a General Election since they lost and got their lowest poll for gould knows how long.

  10. @ NickP

    Hillsborough has brought back my dark memories of those years. I wonder, will it have a similar effect on the electorate in general?
    8-)

  11. I just want to point out that I find it rather frightening that 41% of the public think memorising times tables and past monarchs qualifies as proper learning.

    I get the sense that some people, deep down, just don’t want to encourage independent thinking and character development amongst kids. This is people kids thinking for themselves leads them to them asking all sorts of awkward questions and challenging assumptions. Some people find the thought of that unsettling and want kids to be good little mutes who doff their cap to their elders and speak when they’re spoken to.

  12. “…then we haven’t had a General Election since they lost and got their lowest poll for gould knows how long.”

    2010 saw Labour’s lowest share of the vote since 1987, and the party’s lowest number of votes since 1983.

  13. SEAN
    IIRC Average wages have been rising throughout the parliament – the problem is that wages haven’t been rising anywhere near as fast as inflation (except those on minimum wage).
    So even if people have higher wages, they’re still getting less for it.
    So actual (inflation adjujsted) household income per head in Q1 2012 was £4444, and disposable income was £3640 for the Quarter.
    Q2 2010, when the government took over, it was £4578 and £3755.
    Total income hasn’t been this low since Q2 2005 and disposable since Q1 2003.
    During the worst point of the recession, this was £4480 and £3694.
    So households are actually poorer now than during the recession and all the gains during most of the boom years are gone.

    The employment statistics are also more complex than they first look – a large rise in employment has been due to self-employment and part time work and while that is generally a better thing than unemployment, those who’re forced to work lower hours may

    Another problem with the employment statistics is that RBS/etc workers were lumped, by the last labour government, with public sector workers when they were taken over by the state – so you have to adjust for that.

    Fulltime employment Q2 2010 – 18,178,000
    Q2 2011 – 18,397000
    Q2 2012 (latest data) – 18,308,000
    And full-time employment was falling each Q since Q2 2011, with only Q2 2012 bucking that downward trend.

    So “It’s complicated”.

  14. “while that is generally a better thing than unemployment, those who’re forced to work lower hours may not feel that way on an individual level.”

  15. Tingedfringe.

    Not only inflation, but if we’re to have a fair and prosperous society, wages need to keep up with productivity increases too. Since the 80s they generally haven’t been doing so, apart from a brief spell in the late 90s. This has been a major contributor to inequality and has meant that money is not in the hands of people who will spend it, but all too often going into the hands of corporate executives, or sitting there idle on corporations’ balance sheets. Therefore not only is the wage-productivity gap a slap in the face for the ideal of equity in society, it’s also the economics of the madhouse.

  16. For a more helpful response in terms of polling, you could try the economic trackers from YouGov –
    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ew3d7fftqi/YG-Archives-%20Trackers-%20economy-130912.pdf
    September 2nd –
    “Thinking about the next two or three years, how worried are you that people like you will…”

    “Not have enough money to live comfortably”
    Worried – 68%
    Not Worried – 29%
    Similar figures to what it’s been since the budget.

    “Lose their job / have difficulty finding work”
    Worried – 62%
    Not – 33%
    Again, similar figures each time the question’s been asked since the budget.

    So people’s perceptions of job security and income security are still as low as they’ve been for months.

    Hope that’s helpful. :)

  17. “The suggestion of using the armed forces to fill in for striking public sector workers is supported by a majority of the public (55%) and opposed by 31%”
    ……

    So could we soon be seeing the SAS taking elderly people out for walks when care home staff go on strike?

  18. Sunday Times leader uses the G word & the S word-together-though with caution.

    0.7% growth in 2012 Q3 being mentioned.

    I think that the large shift in the economy from Public to Private sector , together with the flexibility in UK’s labour market have increased the economies “gearing”.
    When things do get moving on a sustainable basis, this could produce a steep take-off.

  19. CEBR forecasts UK real income will increase in 2013 for the first time in three years:-
    +0.7% for richer households.
    +1% for middle-incomes.
    +1.5% for poorer households ( income below £26k)

    They also forecast that the date at which Government Debt/GDP % starts to fall will move out from 2015/16 to 2019/20, when Debt peaks at over 90% X GDP

    I would imagine GO will be happy to weather the storm of Labour’s attack on the latter, following the Autumn Statement ( Dec. actually it seems ?) , if he really can see sustainable growth & rising real incomes from next year .

  20. @TingedFringe

    There’s some interesting disagreements going on within the coalition and the civil service over under-employment. IDS’s ‘Solution’ is to treat benefits the under-employed receive, those on part-time work who need income support/housing benefit, exactly the same as those receiving jobseekers allowance and requiring them to be available for job interviews and actively looking for ‘higher paying work’ or face benefit sanctions. I’m not sure how many part-time employers would tolerate their work force having to constantly take time off in order to keep their income support and housing benefit.

  21. @Amber Star

    My wife and i (both members of the electorate) remember the 80’s with great affection. Certainly my favourite decade, when I felt proud to be British.

  22. @ Colin

    Lets put out the flags and bunting to celebrate when the 0.7% growth is announced !

    Surely this is just catch up from earlier in the year, when various events have had a dampening effect on the economy. The economy is flat as a pancake and probably won’t return to trend growth levels until 2014 at the earliest ? So much depends on what happens globally, with some saying that banks are still in a very vulnerable position. Spain and Italy could go into meltdown at some point. Not sure the ECB and IMF could resolve this easily, as the amounts involved would just be staggering. If sterling goes up in value against a weakened EURO, this would make UK exports to the EU less competitive.

    So tough times ahead. Annual growth of less than 2.5% is going backwards in reality.

  23. Colin
    I can’t access the Sunday Times site (not a subscriber) – do you know if they quote a specific source for the +0.7% growth forecast?

    It’ll be fantastic news if this is the start of the return to growth. But I’m a little sceptical of anybody’s forecasts now – either positive or negative, as they’ve almost all been so wrong since the recession started.

  24. “@ The other Howard

    My wife and i (both members of the electorate) remember the 80?s with great affection. Certainly my favourite decade, when I felt proud to be British.”

    I liked 80’s music and even some of the TV. But in terms of world economic/political events, it was not great for many.

    Some say that the 1980’s were the decade when the world current financial troubles started. While the bankers in London and New York were starting to earn millions, there will many millions of people dying of starvation around the world.

  25. @R Huckle

    I was speaking mostly of events in the UK, including some wonderful classical music and opera, although the Thatcher/Regan axis which led to the fall of the evil empire also comes to mind.

  26. R HUCKLE

    @”The economy is flat as a pancake and probably won’t return to trend growth levels until 2014 at the earliest ?”

    I agree that your question mark is well placed.

    “Trend growth” is a meaningless phrase-one which lulled us over so many years into believing in a Peter Pan economy.
    It remains to be seen what growth pattern emerges in our rebalanced & re-jigged economy.

    @”So much depends on what happens globally, with some saying that banks are still in a very vulnerable position.”

    Absolutely.

    @”Annual growth of less than 2.5% is going backwards in reality.”

    A subjective statement.

    We will be in a different economy to the one which prevailed pre-2007/8. We know now that it was built on sand & unsustainable.
    The first requirement is sustainable growth-then we can think about what Public Revenue that will provide for Government.

    Until then, Government Debt is clocking up at a frightening pace from our knackered Public Finances-it’s like running away from a Tsunami & hoping it peters out before you are drowned.

  27. Tinged.

    THe article is essentially about the CEBR disposable income forecasts.

    The GDP Q3 growth figure of +0.7% is not specifically attributed to them however-
    ” Most economists” expect to exit recession-“the figures are expected to show growth of 0.7%”

    I share your caution.

  28. “I think that the large shift in the economy from Public to Private sector”
    You have to be careful here as both the previous labour government and the current government have fiddled the figures to do with public vs private employment.

    In Q3 2011, 195k people worked in public-sector higher education. In Q4 2011, 196k people did. In Q1 2012, 196k people did.
    But in Q2 2012, mysteriously, nobody works in public-sector higher education.

  29. Tinged

    Yes-aware of that adjustment:-

    In the past three years Public Sector has shed 689k jobs & Private sector added 1.36 m jobs

    These numbers include the re-classification you mention, of 200k from public to private sectors.

    So the underlying numbers are Public Sector down 489k -Private Sector up 1.16m

    That is a huge shift. & provides the gearing I mentioned.

  30. Only a small disagreement on the figures –
    3 years is from Q2 2009 to Q2 2012 (latest *actual* public sector employment I can find)

    If we assume that 196k still work in HE (and haven’t just been taken away by TARDIS), then public sector employment is down 418k (public + public HE – financial institutions), and up 1.14 million in the private (private -HE +financial institutions).
    But what’s 0.02 million between friends. ;)

  31. Tinged

    I was being lazy & using numbers from a ST article.

    Not sure exactly what the writer meant by “three years” therefore.

    We are in the same ball-park though

    :-)

  32. Colin
    Well I think it’s a little disingenuous comparing 3 years ago (when we were in a recession and under a Labour government) to now (in a recession and under a Tory government) as it doesn’t really tell us if the growth in jobs is slowing, if it was higher under Labour/etc.
    However, recent employment growth is encouraging, even if we have to wait until the end of the year to see if it’s a trend or if it’s just an Olympic boost.
    I hope it’s the former.

    But like I said, adjusting for the fiddling of the statistics (by both governments) makes it much harder to see the real picture.

  33. Tinged

    I posted a graph here on a previous thread of Public/Private Sector changes since the GE.

    There has been a steady escalation of the overall trend throughout the period.

    I remember opinions expressed here that there would be no shift from Public to Private Sector-it wouldn’t happen.Unemployment would be 4million plus.

    Well it did-and it isn’t.

    Of course no one can tell what the speed of change to sustainable , significant GDP growth will be.

  34. Colin/TF

    Do the figures you are exchanging differentiate between full-time and part-time employment?

    IIRC there is a significant number (especially women) moving from full-time pubic to part-time private sector employment.

  35. OLDNAT
    Not mine. But I can’t find figures for public sector full time vs private sector part time – only the whole chunk of the separate figures (private vs public and full vs part) –

    But over that period, full-time employment in general is up… err.. 79k.
    But Q2 2009-Q1 2010 saw a massive decline in full-time employment, which grew until Q2 2011, then continued to decline until Q2 2012.
    So like I said, bit disingenuous to pick one chunk of three years, when you lose the context of what’s happened over that period.

  36. Err.. make that me not reading the figures properly?
    Full-time employment of *employees* is actually down 115k over that period with that being the trend.

    Full-time employment in general actually massively declined in Q3 2011 but has grown since then.

    See why it’s so confusing?

  37. Colin
    ““Trend growth” is a meaningless phrase-one which lulled us over so many years into believing in a Peter Pan economy.
    It remains to be seen what growth pattern emerges in our rebalanced & re-jigged economy.”

    Is that a demonstrable fact Colin, or just an opinion?

    See, because since 1955, we have had, with peaks and troughs, pretty much constant 2.1% inflation adjusted GDP growth. That’s a trend growth rate that remained constant through Suez, Wilson’s devaluation, the Barber Boom, the Three Day Week, hyperinflation and the IMF, the Winter of Discontent, the quasi-Austrian experiment of 1981, the Lawson Boom, the DM-peg, the ERM, Black Wednesday, the Asian Crisis, the Dot-com bubble, 9/11 etc, etc and so forth.

    60-odd years of data through different political and economic philosophies and different global conditions. And, peaks and troughs discounted, the trend growth rate has been rock steady.

    Claiming that trend growth rate doesn’t exist is what politicians do when they can’t figure out why their policies are failing to get us back on trend.

  38. TINGEDFRINGE

    Thanks. Confusion also made worse by changing definitions of “unemployment” through more being put on JSA.

    Hence we get numbers showing more people employed and more people unemployed at the same time.

  39. Colin
    Here’s the graph by the way.

    ttp://i46.tinypic.com/2dtdg5d.jpg

    Osborne has made much (and you appear to be following his lead) of the supposed permanent damage done to the economy by the last recession in an effort to manage expectations. Canny politicking. But the historical record suggests that our long term economic performance is rarely knocked of its axis.

    (And while we’re at it of course, the above graph gives the counter argument to those who still claim that Maggie miraculously transformed our economic performance).

  40. I think people’s comments on the economy are missing a key element that there is absolutely no reason for our economy to pick up (whoever is in power). Labour relied on financial services because that was virtually the only thing on which we could compete with the rest of the world.

    Obviously I cannot be sure about what hidden skills exist in this country but you can be sure that there are more engineers, designers etc in China so the idea of an export led recovery seems ridiculous when China can produce things so much cheaper and is gradually developing top quality products as well.

    I saw a 60’s sitcom where a piece of equipment didn’t work and they turned it over to see ‘Made in Japan’ which explained why it didn’t work- now, of course, Japan is seen as the model of reliability. The same will be true of China.

    Failing something going badly wrong with the Euro where it places the UK in a better ligth than the rest of Europe I predict a Labour landslide in 2015 (whether they deserve it or not) because the economy will not pick up under current free trade/globilisation rules.

  41. OLDNAT

    @”Do the figures you are exchanging differentiate between full-time and part-time employment?”

    No-there has been an increase in part-time work.

    Clearly a full time job is to be preferred from an income point of view. Equally, a part-time job is better than no job.

    That UK employers have facilitated this seems like good news-or slightly less bad news if you like.

  42. LEFTY

    @”Is that a demonstrable fact Colin, or just an opinion?”

    I thought that the Financial Services component of the pre-Banking Crisis had been permanently depleted.

  43. Are we sure Bradley Wiggins is a Tory? Looks like a lefty to me.

  44. Colin

    “Clearly a full time job is to be preferred from an income point of view. Equally, a part-time job is better than no job.”

    I wouldn’t disagree with that.

    “Facilitated” part-time work perhaps isn’t the best description. Understandably, employers prefer to reduce their staff costs, and a ready pool of labour means that they can recruit appropriate staff on a part-time basis when those staff would go elsewhere to full-time jobs – if they were available.

  45. Bradley Wiggins is a Labour supporter (or at least he was a supporter of Gordon Brown in 2008)

  46. OLD NAT

    @”“Facilitated” part-time work perhaps isn’t the best description.”

    I thought it was-because I was thinking of reports like this :-

    http://www.midlandsbusinessnews.co.uk/2012/09/reduce-hours-not-staff-says-chamber/

  47. Here we go again :-

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444517304577653512372822118.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    The two key comments for me are on :-

    Practicallity :-

    “”It’s impossible for one single body to control 6,000 financial institutions,” Mr. Vanackere told reporters.

    and

    Politics :-

    “”There cannot be a European supervision where half of Europe doesn’t have a vote in it. That is not acceptable. It cannot stand. It will not be tolerated,” Mr. Borg said.

  48. @Colin – oddly enough, the critique of the EZ banking plans mirrors much of what is being said by Darling, Tyrie and many others over Osborne’s plans for the BoE and its oversight role. These are that it is fundamentally undemocratic and lacks any kind of balance and accountability, and that the concentration of powers is too great and the institution is unable to handle all the responsibilities granted to it.

    It’s not a subject I know much about, but I do get the feeling that we haven’t found our way to a sufficiently bombproof system on financial regulation yet, if indeed such a system is theoretically possible.

  49. @Colin – “I remember opinions expressed here ……….Unemployment would be 4million plus.”

    I also remember opinions expressed here before the last election that unemployment would be 3million plus, possibly 4million. That didn’t happen either.

    Something different is going on in this recession and the labour market is performing differently than in any previous recession in my lifetime. I suspect assigning the praise/blame for this to any one party or government would be oversimplyfying the issues, but it has to be said that Gordon Brown designed the tax credit system that we know operate under.

  50. @Alec

    “…Something different is going on in this recession and the labour market is performing differently than in any previous recession in my lifetime…”

    I think it’s generally accepted that employers were more likely to make their workers go part-time (instead of laying them off) in this recession, resulting in a more cushioned rise in unemployment in the depths and (possibly) a slower fall during the recovery.

    I think this is down to more flexible working practices. If so, then appreciate the irony: a lefty practice (enabling people to go part-time or take career breaks) had a righty result (enabling employers to reduce their effective workforce fast).

    Regards, Martyn

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