The full details of this month’s Populus poll in the Times (the first part of the large pre-conference poll that Populus run each year) won’t be available till tomorrow, but the topline voting intention figures are on the front page of the Times here: CON 30%(-4), LAB 45%(+5), LDEM 10%(-2). Changes are from Populus’s last poll back in July.

The fifteen point lead for Labour is the largest any company have shown so far this Parliament – and certainly the largest Populus have produced (the bigger Labour leads tend to come from Angus Reid and YouGov). I hasten to add my usual caveats about any poll that shows an unusual result – sure, it may be the sign of a huge shift in public opinion, but it is equally likely to be down to sample error. Other polls have not shown a vast increase in the Labour lead – ICM and ComRes have been steady, the average Labour lead in YouGov’s poll has perhaps inched up slightly in the last few weeks, but it is so small it is hard to be sure.

Of course we haven’t seen ICM, MORI or ComRes’s polls yet this month – perhaps they will echo this – in the meantime stop and wait and see (and perhaps sob quietly to yourselves at the amount of attention this particular poll will inevitably get, as the media, twitter and political blogs all take their normal route of making the outlier the story and ignoring the underlying trends.)

The only other question mentioned on the front page of the Times is on preferred Prime Minister – despite the large Labour lead, people when forced still say they would prefer a government lead by David Cameron. 23% of people say they are happy with Cameron and want him to stay, 37% say they are unhappy, but would rather have him than Ed Miliband, 31% (I think – bit blurry) say they are unhappy with Cameron and would prefer Miliband. The crossbreaks on that question will be interesting to look at once the tables appear!


236 Responses to “Populus/Times – CON 30, LAB 45, LDEM 10”

1 3 4 5
  1. Phil – I don’t know. It remains an unanswered question – their results should be far more similar than they are.

    Nick – as it happens the weighting made very little difference in the final mayoral poll. Unweighted figures though tell you very little – it is purely an artefact of response rates in particular groups, how many emails YouGov sent out to different groups, what other polls were in the field at the same time, etc, etc.

    Never be lured into the misapprehension that unweighted figures are in some way pure figures unmessed about with by pollsters. Firstly pollsters weight them for a damn good reason – without it they are unrepresentative. Secondly the samples are not pure and unsullied anyway, they will already have been affected by all sorts of sampling and quota setting decisions.

    Report comment

  2. @The Other Howard

    “@Nick P

    I disagree with every word of your 7.40 post”

    In terms of public opinion and polling, I think most people see debt as a major issue, as we are paying £44bn a year in interest at the moment, which is more than the defence budget.

    However, Nick P has a point which is that people will differ in their views, as to how the Government should deal with it and perhaps they may move to support Labours position.

    As far as I can tell, the coalition want a private sector led recovery, with very little public funding used to help. Labour however, would risk about £30-£40bn of public funding (more government debt) to help with growth. £12bn would be a temporary VAT cut and the rest would be various schemes to encourage private sector investment in infrastructure projects/house building.

    To be fair Labour have not actually said how much additional debt they would take on, to try to get growth and they have not said how the money would be spent. But I can see the merits in doing this, rather than have a flat lining economy for many years to come.

    If the private sector won’t invest and the government won’t either, the UK economy could be stagnant for years. Apparently the UK economy has declined by -1.5% since the 2008 crash and the US economy has grown by nearly 5% in the same period. The UK economy has been the 2nd worst performer in the G20.

    At the moment people are on the fence about which party is seen as better on the economy. Tories are ahead in polling at the moment, but Labour have not actually spelt out exactly what they would do.

    Report comment

  3. aw

    You are the pseph…the pserp…

    the perseph…er…

    You are the expert!

    Report comment

  4. My point is, if borrowing more to get the economy going is so very bad, then we can print it.

    If printing is so very bad…..why are we doing it?

    Report comment

  5. @NICKP

    Totally agree. I can’t understand why we can bail out banks and print money for banks but stimulating the economy to get more growth is bad and unthinkable.

    The fact that we are freezing benefits signals to the country that things are not improving and Osborne’s policy is not working. So I am thinking the polls won’t improve anytime soon.

    Maybe Labour can come up with a Growth strategy before the next election – if they can come up with a convincing one then a Labour OM is a good bet.

    Report comment

  6. Thank you Colin and Amber for your replies… but the interest has not been paid to the BoE and it still does not make ‘common sense’ to pay 31+bn interest on gilts that are no longer held by the private sector.

    As for a debt jubilee, Steve Keen suggests that an equal sum which reduced ‘debt’ to 15% GDP should be distributed to the population with the proviso that their debts must be paid off first. This would reflate the economy and automatically curtail the speculative activity of the banks because they trade in ‘debt’ .

    His argument is that the banks have traded unfairly and a debt jubilee is not just economically justified, but would also provide social recompense.

    Report comment

  7. Nick P

    “Osborne is losing, possibly has lost, the argument. How to disguise the u-turn? Even if they do, is it to late to win the next election already?”

    Ay there’s the rub.

    Osborne may be wondering too. How would you advise him?

    Report comment

  8. @Billy Bob

    If the sixes were included, they would be outliers anyway, as is the 13.

    I get 10.4 from the nine remaining. Regarding my 30-poll MAD calculations, today’s poll adds a 43 and removes a 44, so the MAD for the day is 43.1 (down from 43.7). The Con MAD is 33.2 (unchanged).

    Lead of 9.8 over 30 polls. Said MAD calcs omit four Con results (31, 31, 35, 35) and five Lab results (40, 41, 45, 45, 45).

    The next five polls will be of interest, as the leads of the oldest five (which will be knocked out by the new) are 8, 8, 9, 9, 11. Consistent 10+ leads for the next five will lift the average considerably.

    Report comment

  9. @NICKP and @COUPER2802

    Positive money blog have a lot of information about the nature of ‘money’ which is rather different an understanding to that with which we are presented by the media and politicians.

    When something doesn’t make any sense, it is important to ask why/who would be benefiting. IMO the Republican strategy of ‘Two Santas’ and Stockman’s ‘Starving the beast’ makes a lot of sense in understanding why this government’s economic policies are not ‘working’ .

    Report comment

  10. john b dick

    I’d say he should call an election now and stand on the Austerity is necessary Labour will overspend tack.

    Then let the people decide.

    If he lets the economy decide, as we have seen…he will lose.

    Report comment

  11. Syzygy

    It’s obvious who is benefitting and who isn’t.

    The banks yes and us (everybody who isn’t rich with loads of money in banks) no.

    Report comment

  12. @john b dick

    He should wait for the first piece of goodish news then say “That’s it austerity has worked ! It is time to go for growth”

    Report comment

  13. The thing about this debt jubilee idea is, no matter how you try to work this, there is one group of people who are punished massively, and they are the people who did the responsible thing and saved.

    It doesn’t matter how you do it. If you declare debts null and void, or even reduced, banks cannot pay savers what they’re owed. If the government is to compensate savers, where do they get the money from? It can only be through massively higher taxes, or printing more money on an unprecedented scale. Either way, savers lose out big time.

    Even Steve Keen’s idea of giving everyone, borrowers or savers, a set amount of money punishes savers. To reduce debts to 15% of GDP we’re talking about printing trillions, and whilst we’ve printed money so far and got away with it, there’s no way you could print that much without massive inflation. Who loses the most? Savers.

    Not sure how this is supposed to stop banks trading in debt. All this seems to encourage is for people to take out even more debt, safe in the knowledge that the next time the economy goes tits-up there’ll be another debt jubilee.

    Sorry if this is all a bit cynical, but as someone who had the sense not to snap up the easy money or cheap mortgages when I had the chance, and who didn’t create reckless loans that contributed to the crisis, and who has suffered a great deal owing the the economic disaster so far, I don’t see why why the burden of clearing debt should fall on people like me.

    Report comment

  14. @Syzygy

    Paying the price: the poor, disabled, young people… But paying benefits did not cause the recession why the government think that cutting benefits will get us out of it I have no idea.

    The very rich will no doubt benefit from austerity – they can buy up things cheap.

    Report comment

  15. @Colin

    Let’s split your response into several parts

    Part 1: the mechanism of the process

    Did you really think saying “No, it’s not the BoE, it’s the Treasury” affected the thrust of my argument?

    Part 2: the cleverness of the participants

    Saying things like “…BoE think it is working -and I suppose they should know, with great respect to yourself…” has an obvious problem. They certainly should know. But surely we have enough data by now to suggest that they actually don’t?

    Part 3: proof that the process works

    There is an obvious problem with submitting a report written by the Treasury as proof that the Treasury’s actions worked. There is an obvious problem with submitting the opinion of the BoE as evidence that the BoE’s actions worked.

    Part 4: disadvantages of printing free money and giving it to poor people

    As you recall, the reason why I got involved was to answer the question “would it produce hyperinflation” (my answer is “a direct issue of £65billion to the public would not trigger hyperinflation”). I didn’t want to get involved in an argument about the mechanism of QE and whether it was a good idea. So i’m not saying that printing £65billion and just giving it to people is a good idea. It may well be bonkers as you suggest. I am however pointing out that it may be no more bonkers than our present course.

    Regards, Martyn

    Report comment

  16. (reposted with correct tags)

    @Colin

    Let’s split your response into several parts

    Part 1: the mechanism of the process

    Did you really think saying “No, it’s not the BoE, it’s the Treasury” affected the thrust of my argument?

    Part 2: the cleverness of the participants

    Saying things like “…BoE think it is working -and I suppose they should know, with great respect to yourself…” has an obvious problem. They certainly should know. But surely we have enough data by now to suggest that they actually don’t?

    Part 3: proof that the process works

    There is an obvious problem with submitting a report written by the Treasury as proof that the Treasury’s actions worked. There is an obvious problem with submitting the opinion of the BoE as evidence that the BoE’s actions worked.

    Part 4: disadvantages of printing free money and giving it to poor people

    As you recall, the reason why I got involved was to answer the question “would it produce hyperinflation” (my answer is “a direct issue of £65billion to the public would not trigger hyperinflation”). I didn’t want to get involved in an argument about the mechanism of QE and whether it was a good idea. So i’m not saying that printing £65billion and just giving it to people is a good idea. It may well be bonkers as you suggest. I am however pointing out that it may be no more bonkers than our present course.

    Regards, Martyn

    Report comment

  17. Sue

    Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

    BoE uses a special vehicle for QE operations-Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility Fund Limited.

    It produces Accounts-these are they to y/e 29/2/2012/

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/other/markets/apf/boeapfannualreport1207.pdf

    At page 4 you will see that BoE’s interest receipts from it’s gilts & other holdings was £85 m in that year-against which a charge of £83 m is recorded , resulting from changes in fair value of instruments held-ie mark to market loss over the period.

    Report comment

  18. MARTYN

    thanks

    @”But surely we have enough data by now to suggest that they actually don’t?”

    Who is “we”?

    What data?

    What criteria for success / failure?

    @”There is an obvious problem with submitting the opinion of the BoE as evidence that the BoE’s actions worked.”

    Yes-of course. That is as applicable to BoE as to any public body/ profession/ company…..you name it -which is reporting on itself.

    So for my part-and I hope you will not take this amiss-until the estimable Andrew Tyrie & Select Committee tell me that BoE are wrong, I will put your own reservations to one side.

    @”It may well be bonkers as you suggest.”

    Yes-I think it would be-as implicit in the questions I gave you . I have thought of lot’s more since-but will leave it now.

    The BoE is not going to do it-they would surely be in breach of their Core Purposes:-

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/about/Pages/corepurposes/default.aspx

    I can envisage Governments of a certain kind, however, simply borrowing more & giving it away, in the hope that it will all magically come back to them plus a bit.

    It’s a funny old world.

    Report comment

  19. @nickp “I’d say he should call an election now and stand on the Austerity is necessary Labour will overspend tack.”
    Can he do that any more? Did the fixed-term legislation that the coalition government introduced make it difficult for a popular government to call an early election or just make it harder to get rid of an unpopular one?

    Report comment

  20. @ SYZYGY

    Thank you Colin and Amber for your replies… but the interest has not been paid to the BoE and it still does not make ‘common sense’ to pay 31+bn interest on gilts that are no longer held by the private sector.
    ——————————
    The interest is paid to the BoE whether it makes ‘common sense’ or not.
    8-)

    Report comment

  21. @COLIN

    The free money idea was done in the US to stimulate the economy. I don’t know if it worked but it was about $600.

    Report comment

  22. @Peewee

    You need a 2/3 majority in Parliament to call an early election (or a simple majority to no confidence a government and fail to form a new one). Cameron cannot directly call an election, but if the Conservative party call one and Labour is happy to oblige, there would be one.

    Whether this would actually happen is another matter. It relies on both the two main parties believing they can win at the same time. Either that or the country being in such deadlock that an election is the only way forwards.

    No real change though. Everyone calls for a Prime Minister to call an election when they want another party to be elected. No Prime Minister has ever agreed this this request, or is ever likely to.

    Report comment

  23. COUPER2802

    Thanks.

    Yes-but that was a fiscal initiative by the Government in the form of a tax refund.

    The Fed didn’t print dollar bills & post them to citizens.

    Report comment

  24. Chris -

    The thing that I ponder with the Fixed Term Parliament bill is if a government wanted an early election (presumably a government with a stonking great poll lead, since no government without a big lead would want an early election), and called a vote asking for one, would it politically tenable for the opposition party to oppose it?

    Would the public accept an argument that the government should get on with the job of actually governing, or that they were trying to cut and run, or would it result in the opposition being seen as “frit”?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/historic_moments/newsid_8185000/8185773.stm

    Report comment

  25. @COLIN

    Where did the Fed get the dollars from? – it wasn’t from running a surplus.

    Report comment

  26. @Colin

    You said “…Yes-but that was a fiscal initiative by the Government in the form of a tax refund. The Fed didn’t print dollar bills & post them to citizens…”

    If you genuinely think there is a substantive difference, this may explain why we keep on disagreeing. I’d say that “Dear taxpayer. We’ve refunded some tax you paid. We’ve put the money in your bank account.” and “Dear taxpayer. We’ve refunded some tax you paid. We’ve put the money in this envelope.” were logically equivalent.

    Regards, Martyn

    Report comment

  27. @Anthony

    That’s an untested precedent. Looking back to elections back to 1945, early elections have been, at the most, the 4th year (excluding the odd occasion when the governing party have insufficient seats to govern, but that’s a different situation entirely). I guess it would depend how the public react to this. So far, the Prime Minister calling an election after 4 years have gone unchallenged. If it goes to vote in Parliament, that would cause public debate. Would the public see it as giving the people a choice of political opportunism with election timing? Currently this is in the realm of guesswork.

    The bigger issue, however, is the same loophole used by the SPD in Germany. In theory, you could vote against yourselves in a motion of no confidence and refuse to give a vote on confidence in any other government, and that would force an election. Would the public accept that as a legitimate way of calling an election, or see it as a self-serving way of timing an election for your convenience?

    A lot of political unknowns here, and it could be years, even decades, before we learn all the answers.

    Report comment

  28. MARTYN

    I think the distinction rests upon the integrity of the Central Bank and it’s role in preserving the monetary & financial stability of the currency & financial system.

    It is illegal for Central Banks ( certainly in UK/EZ/USA ) to monetize the debt of the State by purchasing T bills direct from the Government.

    You obviously feel -and I can understand the feeling-that the difference between that and purchasing T bills in the secondary market , is marginal.

    For me the difference is this.

    In the former case-were it permitted-monetary stability & integrity ( as defined on BoE website) would have no champion. It would in the gift of government to spend whatever they wanted, regardless of income-printing the notes accordingly. The citizen-particularly the poorest-would be at the mercy of inflation & a debased currency.

    In the latter case-Governments are forced to test their fiscal plans against the market’s willingness to fund them. Yes the Central Bank creates a ready market for T bills in it’s QE initiative, thus easing the borrowing Government’s fund raising task-but that initiative is :-

    To provide banks with liquidity -not governments with a printing press.

    Temporary & defined in scope.

    I note that ECB , in proposing to intervene in the secondary market for Spanish & Italian debt has met with stiff resistance from the Germans to anything which looks like monetizing the debt of those countries. The Germans know full well what a debased currency does to it’s poorer citizens.
    As I understand it, ECB will not intervene to buy Spanish/Italian T bills from banks unless & until the GOVERNMENTS of Spain & Italy agree to certain fiscal constraints.

    This is ECB doing it’s level best to maintain the dividing line which I -unlike you it seems-think very important.

    I am pleased that we have backstops to Europe’s dreadful profligate politicians at Central Banks like ECB & BoE.

    Someone , somewhere has to keep reminding them that paying their way in the world & spending only what they can sustainably earn or borrow is fundamental.

    Report comment

  29. “To provide liquidity to the banks”…why? So they can buy more commodities to put food and fule prices up, or just to pay their bonuses? Certainly it isn’t to lend to small businesses, they’ve had planty of chances to do that.

    Nobody but a madman would recommend unlimited and perpetual money printing to finance Government spending. But then nobody but raving lunatics would continue to pump billions into the banks’ coffers when they have failed to use any of it for the purpose for which it is being pumped.

    Report comment

  30. @”Nobody but a madman would recommend unlimited and perpetual money printing to finance Government spending”

    My point entirely.

    The trick is to make sure the madman doesn’t get the electoral power to use the printing press

    Report comment

  31. @”Certainly it isn’t to lend to small businesses, they’ve had planty of chances to do that.”

    There is certainly a problem here-and I look forward to TSC digging into it when they examine QE.( in November I think)

    However it also has to be said that Banks have been told to be more prudent & to hold more reserves so the taxpayer doesn’t have to bail them out again.

    So we castigate them for their Casino banking-get them to return to Mr Mainwaring Banking slap in the middle of the worst recession in memory-and promptly ask the Mr Mainwairings to stop being so
    persnickety

    Report comment

  32. Colin

    you ignored my follow up point.

    QE is about to restart. If you going to print, use the money to boost the economy, don’t just cross your fingers and hope that it won’t go the way of the previous £350 billion.

    Report comment

  33. @”Certainly it isn’t to lend to small businesses, they’ve had planty of chances to do that.”

    There is certainly a problem here-and I look forward to TSC digging into it when they examine QE.( in November I think)

    However it also has to be said that Banks have been told to be more prudent & to hold more reserves so the taxpayer doesn’t have to bail them out again.

    So we castigate them for their imprudent banking activities -get them to return to Mr Mainwaring Banking slap in the middle of the worst recession in memory-and promptly ask the Mr Mainwairings to stop being so
    persnickety

    Report comment

  34. NICKP

    @”hope that it won’t go the way of the previous £350 billion.”

    Well I can only repeat the BoE assessment of it’s effectiveness which I posted before.

    …and recommend that you follow the TSC’s efforts to test it.

    Report comment

  35. @Colin

    Although I’m still not convinced the distinction between the two is substantive enough to make a difference, at least I know now that your insistence that there is has a solid rationale behind it. Thank you for the explanation.

    Regards, Martyn

    Report comment

  36. MARTYN

    Thanks.

    I accept that vigilance is required at all times-and I for one am comforted that there are people like Jens Weidmann keeping it :-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9551348/Debt-crisis-central-bank-action-is-work-of-the-devil-says-Germanys-Jens-Weidmann.html

    Report comment

1 3 4 5