Sunday round-up

Results of this week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times are here, with questions on the usual grab bag of subjects – most notably on tax avoidance and energy. The topline voting intention figures are CON 32%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9%, so despite several YouGov polls in a row showing single-figure Labour leads things still appear to be averaging up around the 9-10 point lead that has been the norm for six months or so now. Leader approval ratings are Cameron minus 19 (from minus 20 a week ago), Miliband minus 18 (from minus 14), Clegg minus 56 (from minus 58) – Ed Miliband’s conference boost is still evident, but continues to gently unwind.

On tax avoidance, 64% of people think it is unacceptable to avoid tax compared to 26% who think it acceptable… however, 42% of people say that they personally would avoid taxation if they had an accountant to show them how. 71% of people think that high tax rates on business and the rich encourage tax avoidance, however only a minority (19%) think that this means tax rates should be reduced. The majority (52%) think that government should crack down on avoidance rather than cut taxes.

Turning to energy, the energy companies themselves are by far the most widely blamed for increasing energy prices – 58% think they are most to blame, compared to only 17% saying rising gas and oil prices and 11% the cost of carbon emission targets. Asked about shale gas and fracking people were evenly split – 32% think it should go ahead, 30% that it shouldn’t. 38% said don’t know, probably indicating it is an issue that many people have very little awareness of.

In the Mail on Sunday there was also a Survation poll, which had topline figures of CON 30%(+1), LAB 43%(+2), LD 8%(-2), UKIP 12% (nc). Changes are from the previously published Survation poll on the 23rd September. The Mail on Sunday’s write-up appears to be a prime example of how not to report opinion polls. It begins with a subheading of “Conservatives 13 points behind Labour, one point ahead of UKIP Party” which is clearly untrue, though probably an innocent error. The rest of the article though is worse – Conservative support hasn’t “fallen to 30”, it has increased to 30. They haven’t “dropped five points in ten days”, they have increased one point.

In the absence of any other polls from about ten days ago showing the Conservatives at 35 I can only assume that the 5 point drop comes from comparing the poll to the YouGov poll conducted on the 11th of October. This is doubly wrong – first it is deliberately cherry picking an unusually high score as a point of comparison to exaggerate the movement. Secondly (and assuming there was not some unpublished Survation poll they are comparing it too), they are comparing polls from different companies using different methodologies that produce consistently different results. Since April YouGov’s polls have shown an average Conservative support of 33% (the 35% was either a blip or a party conference publicity boost), since April Survation’s polls have shown an average Conservative support of 30%. In other words, the poll does not show Conservative support “plummetting”, it shows Conservative support at exactly the same level that the pollster in question has been showing them at for months and months.


158 Responses to “Sunday round-up”

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  1. Doh!-why does it do this ???

  2. Oldnat, so let me get this right? Scots hate Tories, and see them as toxic, ok we’re used to that.

    They not hate Lib Dems and see them as toxic as well??? Why because of Clegg alone???

    Now you’re saying that even Labour faces the same treatment??? That’s just stupid. Says more about Scotland than any political party if you ask me (if what you say is true).

  3. Colin:

    D’you reckon there might be an implosion at the BBC?

  4. MANINTHEMIDDLE

    Have you seen the polling the LDs achieve in Scotland – or their seat loss in 2011?

    Tying themselves to the Tories has made the LDs toxic here too.

    Labour is an entirely different issue – as should have been clear from my post.

    Their problem is to appeal simultaneously to sufficient Scots on the constitutional issue in 2014 (which involves Scots perception of Milliband’s UK Labour Party) and simultaneously to present themselves as an appealing option for England in 2015.

    They may do it, but it’s not an easy strategy to pull off.

  5. Well Oldnat, if you and I get the result we both want in 2014, then Labour will not have that problem in 2015 :)

  6. MANINTHEMIDDLE

    You mean that GB Labour wouldn’t have that problem in 2020.

  7. I’m not sure I follow? Why 2020 instead of 2015?

  8. All the UK parties could have improved their position and fended off the SNP by Bavarianising soon after devolution.

    They missed the chance and Its too late now.

  9. MANINTHEMIDDLE

    7 months is too short a time to turn round a party. Position Milliband as an attractive option for Scots in Autumn 2014, and its too late to appeal to Middle England by a different strategy by May 2015.

    Not impossible, but damned hard to do. Also a distinct danger of trying to do both – but failing to appeal sufficiently to the two groups.

    Whatever the 2014 result, 2020 will be an easier call for Labour.

  10. Regarding Independence campaign

    I watched QT from Easterhouse and developed a theory regarding. Labour’s Lamont positioning on Universal Benfits etc.

    The SNP strength started in the rural areas in the North East and Perthshire, Angus etc They are still very strong in those areas. And these folk are definitely not Socialist. That is why the SNP was tagged ‘Tartan Tories’ because Tory constituencies went SNP.

    These voters are unlikely to be impressed by the idea of a Socialist Utopia espoused by the West Coast public figures and politicians.

    So the No vote tactic would be to scare the rest of Scotland with west coast post independence socialist dreams.

    IMO : That is why Lamont seems to be going right – to garner the erstwhile Tory votes for the No campaign.

  11. COUPER2802

    Very unwise to base anything on a BBC QT time from Scotland!

    The audience is “balanced” on a very different basis from actual Scottish election results.

  12. @Colin

    Isn’t it worth reflecting on the fact that the BBC is running a programme tomorrow night (Panorama) that is likely to be very critical of a sister current affairs programme (Newsnight) for its failure to broadcast the edition that investigated the allegations about Jimmy Saville? Can you imagine Sky or ITN, or any other commercial broadcaster for that matter, doing the same thing? I think not and rather than hound the BBC for its many perceived failures, we should sometimes laud it for its ability to investigate itself objectively, even when it knows that it is likely to be damaging to its own image.

    The Saville scandal is indeed desperately damaging and it saddens me to see that it has given the BBC’s many enemies further ammunition. I do hope that it isn’t a big enough stick for the corporation’s detractors to finally destroy what still is a treasured institution and such an important part of our national life.

  13. @oldnat

    Yes QT had a very unusual studio audience.

    But the fact remains the west coast is far more socialist than the east and if ex-Tory now SNP voters are persuaded that post-independence the socialist west will hold power – it could scare them into voting No.

  14. How is the BBC a treasured part of national life? They give us Doctor Who, Eurovision, and Merlin, and it’s nice not having ad breaks.But does all that qualify them as a national treasure?

  15. COUPER2802

    I understand the argument you are making. It’s the strategy successfully used in 1979, and deployed again – but this time ineffectively – in 1997.

    You may well be right in your theory as to why Lamont decided to move a neo-liberal agenda. Given SLab’s recent history of disastrous strategy decisions, that wouldn’t be altogether unbelievable.

  16. About language….

    The split infinitive malarkey is idiocy. To boldly put it: there’s nothing wrong with them. The “rule” was an 18th century bit of tomfoolery to try and make English behave like Latin, which actually has a wholly different syntax. It’s from the same stable as the “don’t end a sentence with a preposition” nonsense which Churchill so effectively debunked (“… up with which I will not put”).

    There is only one rule about language, namely: THERE ARE NO RULES!

    Spoken language, which goes back at least 35,000 (and possibly 100,000) years is dynamic and evolving. English itself is only 1,500 years old. Spoken language has changed enormously in my lifetime.

    Written language is very different. It’s much more recent (only a few thousand years), and wholly artificial (unlike the genetically primed spoken language facility). It is more rule-bound and conservative (small c), due to the influence offered by and accepted from “authorities”. However, whilst less dynamic than spoken language it still has to follow it, albeit with a time lag.

    I, like Anthony, hate the greengrocers’ apostrophe. But that’s down to me, not to linguistic “rules”.

  17. STEVE COBERMAN

    “There is only one rule about language, namely: THERE ARE NO RULES!”

    There is probably one reasonable rule. if you want to communicate with others, then you need to make your language comprehensible to them.

  18. @ couper2802

    Are you living in Scotland? I ask because it is the lack of socialism in the SNP agenda which puts people off independence, IMO.

    I have discussed it with friends, some of whom I considered to be very centerist, very east coast. They would like a Scotland in which a constitution (not a manifesto, a constitution) says that water, power, hospitals, schools, roads & rail etc. belong to the people of Scotland. That they are to be held by the state for the benefit of the people of Scotland for all time.

    Their reluctance to vote for independence is because too little will change; to say: It will be all up to the people after the referendum is not what they want to hear. People want a compelling vision of post-independence Scotland; they want a commitment that things will be very different.

    This surprised me; I thought centerist people were supposed to be afraid of radical change. People with whom I speak are much more afraid it will be: Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss. And this is why they think we may as well stick with what we know.

    Such musings may be all mouth & no trousers but I find them interesting all the same. Perhaps we shall have some polling about it, in due course.
    8-)

  19. Amber

    Interesting post. As you say, no doubt (well I have some doubts!) there will be polling in due course.

    People can be strangely irrational in their views – just as much in your circle of friends, as in mine.

    It’s odd, however, to see some of your pals wanting to subject themselves to UK Tory governments on a regular basis because they see an independent Scotland as having less possibility of left-wing government here.

    I presume that they have abandoned all possibility of there being a Scottish Labour (in the sense you and I would understand that) majority in Parliament.

    Why do they think that would be more achievable in the UK?

  20. couper2802

    “That is why the SNP was tagged ‘Tartan Tories’ because Tory constituencies went SNP.”

    Yes

    “And these folk are definitely not Socialist.”

    They are not, but no more are they Thatcherite. They are (Protestant) Christian Democrats with an erroneous non-biblical understanding of the word “Talents” as in the modern sense, rather than the monetary sense as meant in Matthew 25.

    That error makes easy to reconcile with the Sermon on the Mount, (which is where their core values come from) whereas they were repelled by the sermon on the mound.

    Tories as we now encounter them, they are not. Not so far from the one-nation sort perhaps, but not English nationalists and a long way from being free market fundamentalists.

    Foolishly, the Nationalists have been confused into accepting the rhetoric of their opponents.

    There is no such thing as a “Universal Benefit” in Scotland.

    As the FM keeps telling us, sovereignty comes from the people in Scotland. Free education is not a benefit bestowed by the grace and favour of a monarch, landowner, bishop or factor. It is not something to be granted or taken away on whim.

    Nor is it a right.

    It is something which the people expect the government to organise on their behalf and pay for from taxation.

    “These voters are unlikely to be impressed by the idea of a Socialist Utopia espoused by the West Coast public figures and politicians.”

    Rather it’s the Picts that don’t trust Edinburgh or Glasgow.

    “So the No vote tactic would be to scare the rest of Scotland with west coast post independence socialist dreams.”

    It is of course possible that they think that. It would be inept.

    IMO : That is why Lamont seems to be going right – to garner the erstwhile Tory votes for the No campaign.

    I don’t think so. She is just aligning policy more firmly with UK Labour.

    Its a huge mistake, conceptually and tactically, and will be a great help to the Nationalists.

  21. @MITM

    “Says more about Scotland than any political party if you ask me (if what you say is true).”

    Not really. It just shows that the Scots are actually prepared to demonstrate that they don’t trust any of the b******s. :)

  22. @OLDNAT

    “The audience is “balanced” on a very different basis from actual Scottish election results.”

    Yes. I noted the location that the BBC picked for that, knowing that week would have the referendum agreement. Easterhouse, in Glasgow East. One of the safest Labour seats in the country, and they allowed said seat’s MP to be on the panel.

    Of course, holding the show in Ellon or Inverurie would have been biased. :roll:

  23. JOHN B DICK

    “Universal Benefits” is a valid term (if you restrict the concept of “universe” to a sensible one in this concept). Of course, they need to be paid for out of taxation.

    NHS care is universal, in that it is available free to all individuals in the state (and to those with which we have sharing agreements).

    Some benefits are age restricted. School education is universally free to children and young people, but normally not for 70 year olds – though I (and many others) ran a very successful adult education programme by giving adults free access to available spaces in school classes.

    Bus passes are universally available to all those over 60. It would remain a “universal” benefit if it was restricted to an older age range and/or limited to travel outwith rush hours.

    Such provisions are not an “absolute” right. However, they are “rights” if a society so determines.

  24. STATGEEK

    “Of course, holding the show in Ellon or Inverurie would have been biased.”

    It would have been (although the BBC concept of balance would have been maintained by bussing in the required number of partisans from elsewhere).

    What was odd, was not having it in Perth. Weren’t the QT’s during the GB Conferences held in the cities where the conferences were taking place?

  25. @JBD

    “Rather it’s the Picts that don’t trust Edinburgh or Glasgow.”

    That’s a fair point (not sure if “picts” is a fair description though).

  26. Amber

    Not just schools but universities. Why are schools free but universities (in England) not? Because even the plebs need that level of education to service the needs of the rich, but they don’t need more.

    Its easy to see why the SNP don’t want to change anything they don’t have to in case it puts anyone off.

    The certainly should keep the Queen during the transition. Nobody, ever, had more experience of this sort of thing. A dab hand with a SI she is, is the Queen of Canada, and in both the languages in which she is fluent too. The Duke of Rothesay has a few words of Gaelic.

  27. @OLDNAT

    Well spotted:

    27 September 2012 Brighton, England Danny Alexander, Harriet Harman, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Kirstie Allsopp, Steve Coogan
    4 October 2012 Manchester, England Kenneth Clarke, Douglas Alexander, Susan Kramer, Willie Walsh, Janet Street-Porter
    11 October 2012 Birmingham, England Grant Shapps, Caroline Flint, Simon Hughes, Cristina Odone, Benjamin Zephaniah
    18 October 2012 Glasgow, Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Margaret Curran, Alan Cochrane, Mark Serwotka

  28. JOHN B DICK

    “Not just schools but universities. Why are schools free but universities (in England) not? Because even the plebs need that level of education to service the needs of the rich, but they don’t need more.”

    Tragically (for England), that fundamental difference in attitude runs in direct threads from the English 1870 Education Act and the Education (Scotland) Act 1872.

  29. Oldnat

    It’s “Benefit” I object to.

    If you are my boss and you buy me a pint, its a benefit.

    If a group of colleagues go to the pub and put money in a kitty its a buyers co-operatve.

    Its not a right either.

    Amber’s got the right idea.

  30. OLDNAT

    No. From the reformation.

    Couper 2802

    I agree withh OLDNAT above. Under any Labour FM, maybe even any previous SLAB leader, we would have discounted you theory. Now, we wouldn’t be so rash.

    To be sure the policy was Made in England.

  31. JOHN B DICK

    The best arguments always resolve themselves into a semantic difference! I see “benefit” as meaning the “benefit” of being part of a society.

    Hence why the Sermon on the Mound was so important in defining attitudes (probably more so than the “no society” quote – which is usually taken out of context).

    As to the Reformation and the education argument – I’m a great fan of Ninian Wintzet, the Catholic educational reformer who trounced John Knox in debate at Crossraguel Abbey. Sensibly, Knox nicked some of Wintzet’s ideas when creating the 1560 settlement of schools!

    Knox and Wintzet both came from a community where the first Act requiring compulsory education (of at least landowners) had been passed in 1496, so they shared a heritage of education thinking that predates the Reformation.

  32. PAUL CROFT and NICKP
    Of course you can split infinitives; go ahead and help yourselves – there is a fissile energy about “to bravely go” and it makes for an iambic pentametre suitable for epics such as the Aenaeid or Star Wars, which you don’t get from the unsplit form. No poll required.

  33. OLD NAT
    Re indy, frankly I don’t think the Labour Party should give a damn, except straighforwardly to oppose it, and to think out and implement good socialist policy for the whole of the UK,and to allow Scotland to have their own brand in areas and to an extent they want it, a la Amber..

  34. @ Amber Star

    “This isn’t as contradictory as it seems. Let’s agree that people believe that stealing is wrong (evasion) & that’s that dealt with.

    But let’s say Tesco allows people to make a case for not paying (avoidance). Tesco also says: If we let too many people avoid paying, the prices will have to increase.

    The shoppers say: Make everybody pay.
    Tesco says: We’re not going to do that.
    The shoppers say: Okay, where is the queque for people who want to ask for free groceries?”

    Maybe it’s a linguistic or semantics issue. I think there’s a huge difference between illegally avoiding taxes that you rightfully owe and legally taking advantage of tax loopholes to pay less in tax. So not sure where I’d fall in that poll.

  35. For any of you mourning George McGovern, who passed away today at the good old age of 90, here’s a great article on his campaign and the lasting impact of it:

    http://www.salon.com/2012/10/21/george_mcgovern_he_deserved_better/

    @ Billy Bob

    h ttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/09/waxman-gets-obama-endorsement.html

  36. @ Old Nat

    You’ve often argued that politics becomes most hostile when there is little to no difference between the two sides. Although I’m not entirely sure that I agree, this cringeworthy news item proves your point.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/brad-sherman-howard-berman-fight-california-congress-house-2012-10

    It’s rare to see your MPs fighting each other (maybe your MSPs do) but if it happenned, you know John Bercow could always step in and take care of it. Where is he when he’s needed?

  37. CROSSBAT11

    @”Isn’t it worth reflecting on the fact that the BBC is running a programme tomorrow night (Panorama) that is likely to be very critical of a sister current affairs programme (Newsnight) for its failure to broadcast the edition that investigated the allegations about Jimmy Saville? ”

    It is -I agree that this is a redeeming feature.

    The resignation has been denied.

    I agree that the BBC should be treasured institution. But it needs to be much more open , accountable & truly impartial to deserve that accolade.

    Also it too often forgets who pays for it.

  38. Mmmm so the Salmond line will be look-Labour are promising cuts just like the Tories.

    [Snip – AW]

    Can’t help feeling there is something missing -and I think Darling is the man to explain what it is.

    ……..sadly, because I would love to see them go, and to take Labour’s Westminster prospects with them.

    This is truly a Labour / SNP fight.

  39. @MitM

    They not hate Lib Dems and see them as toxic as well??? Why because of Clegg alone???

    Now you’re saying that even Labour faces the same treatment??? That’s just stupid. Says more about Scotland than any political party if you ask me (if what you say is true).

    I doubt it’s Clegg alone since he needs the party on board to successfully prop up the Tories and allow all manor of horrific policies to be passed (meanwhile ditching their own platform) – and in case you didn’t notice, the Lib Dem’s newfound toxicity isn’t restricted to Scotland. Then there’s Labour who have in the last couple of decades adopted the belief, like their US inspiration, that they can continue to offer nothing and rely on the oppositions unpopularity to get them in, and once in power will adopt those unpopular reforms anyway. I’m not sure how much it says about Scotland, since the parties face the exact same unpopularity here, but unlike Scotland, we’ve no other credible alternative, so end up holding our noses and voting for the lesser evil. If anything’s stupid however, it would have to be the belief that the unpopularity of the three parties was undeserved!

  40. Two interesting comments on Radio 4 this morning.

    The first Lord Blair (not TB the other one) calling on people not to vote in the police elections next month in protest at the concept.

    The use of the phrase “in government but not in power” about number 10 by a Tory back bencher.

    It will be interesting to see which one plays out in the media today and which one will have loner term impact, if any.

    I would guess that the dont vote call will be todays news and tomorrows fish wrapers and the in government but not in power will have the longer term effect on the stability of Cameron.

  41. NICKP

    Some of those things are funded by the State in rUK I think.
    And rightly so.
    But , unless you feel that the level of taxation should be completely elastic there is a point at which the State’s take of national income begins to effect the economy in general. ( That bastion of Social Democracy, Sweden, came to this conclusion).
    I heard AS wielding some simplistic percentages to prove that Independence would see Scotland better off than now, to the tune of £1000 per capita ( I think).
    I expect your former Chancellor, a man for whom I have some regard, to begin examining some of AS’s numbers in a bit more detail.

  42. colin: “… something missing”

    Indeed: you’ve just been snipped.

    So not only no implosion at the BBC, no resignation neever.

  43. And with one bound they were free; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/9623863/IMFs-epic-plan-to-conjure-away-debt-and-dethrone-bankers.html

    On Gropegate – some tiresome attacks on the BBC by the usual suspects, but it’s worth noting that it’s Panorama that has delivered the serious blows on this story, and also that the freelance journalist who was trying to break this story last year was turned away by 7 national newspaper titles.

    I very much doubt we would ever have seen a News International or Express title launch a damaging scoop against their own management.

  44. Alex

    Damm it I was going to post the DT link, I do encourage folk to read the IMF paper its quite interesting

  45. state control of money!

    Them IMF socialists need to be stopped!

  46. @”Gropegate ”

    What a trite & trivialising word to coin.

    When all is revealed , I think you will need a different word entirely , for what young children have endured.

  47. PAUL

    Yes I was wrong to believe the resignation report.

    I think I will wait a while before deciding the Beeb is fine & dandy , until all the evidence is in .

  48. There have been other “simple” plans to end the current difficulties. One which sounds simple was to place a one of property tax on all land and property of 10% to be paid now or when the property as sold or passed on at death.

    Most people would elect to pay at the point of sale or death which ever came first. The sate would then hold assessts which out striped the debts and with one bound we are all free!

    However the effect of such a tax would be to depress the property markets and cut off a future engine of growth.

    The piont being that there will be a number of “solutions” however we must look at all of the side effects.

    I am temped by the state money idea and know that in the past individual states have wiped out the debt of their citizen, however this was in pre industrial days and before the power of the markets. So I urge caution, but welcome new thinking.

  49. @Davem – “However the effect of such a tax would be to depress the property markets and cut off a future engine of growth.”

    You say that, but there is a legitimate argument to say that rising property prices are not ‘an engine of growth’ but instead a symptom of unsustainable asset bubbles.

    Also, if a property tax is seen as cutting future growth, you then need to explain how this is worse than immediate spending cuts and future tax rises.

    On the face of it, the idea of property levy payable on sale or death is rather attractive, in terms of the impact on growth, as we wouldn’t see a one off ‘big bang’ effect as we do with sharp spending cuts, but rather the effects are spread over years and decades, making this a less damaging strategy in terms of maintaining growth.

  50. Can anyone help with poll details?

    What is this Sunday Times poll on Independence referred to in the papers today?

    Does it have Party ratings etc

    I can’t get it on line as you have to suscribe.

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