I had a cracking cold at the weekend so didn’t post on the YouGov/Sunday Times poll, hence there are a couple of interesting findings in there that really got overlooked. Most interestingly on the so-called “bedroom tax”. As the government gets a thorough kicking on the subject, it would be easy to imagine that the majority of people are up in arms against it. Actually, people supported the idea by it by 49% to 38%.

As one might imagine from a policy that has been a political football for the last few months, answers have aligned along party partisan grounds – three-quarters of Tory voters said they supported the policy and a majority of Labour voters say they oppose it… but a substantial minority of Labour voters (34%) say they support the policy.

Why? Regardless of whether or not is actually is a good policy or not (which is outside the remit of this blog) parts of the media have spent the last two months happily banging on about the evils of the bedroom tax and how it will affect the disabled, or children, or foster families or whatever… yet people say they support it. There are two obvious reasons, not by any means mutually exclusive. One, people really don’t pay much attention to any of the media coverage of the changes and are unaware of what impacts it might have. Two, that they are aware, but support it anyway – either people they think it is more important to cut spending and hard choices must be made, that downsides are exaggerated, that the basic principle outweighs the negative effects to some people or just, when push comes to shove, many people generally support cuts in benefits.

The same poll asked people to pick areas they think SHOULD be prioritised for cuts, and which areas people thought should be PROTECTED from cuts. The top answers to both questions were as you’d expect and saw little crossover between wanting cuts and wanting protection. So, a large majority of people want NHS spending protected with hardly anyone wanting it prioritised for cuts, over half of people wanted education protected with hardly anyone wanting it prioritised for cuts, the picture is similar for crime and pensions. On the other side a large majority thought overseas aid should be prioritised for cuts with hardly anyone wanting it protected.

Welfare benefits are more interesting. 39% of people think that welfare benefits should be prioritised for cuts, including 62% of Tory voters. For a lot of people this is an area where they positively want to see cutbacks. However, unlike overseas aid where the traffic is overwhelmingly one way, there is also a substantial body of people – 16% – who think welfare benefits are one of the area that most require protection from cuts. Benefits are, therefore, an area where there really are totally contrasting views out there amongst different parts of the electorate.

Polling does tend to show that the balance of the opinions is hostile towards welfare benefits. For example, about a year ago Peter Kellner did some polling for Prospect looking at attitudes towards the principles of welfare benefits. Overall 74% agreed that the government paid too much in benefits, and that welfare levels should be decreased. A different YouGov poll carried out for the TUC at the end of last year found 42% of people thought benefits were too generous, compared to 28% who thought they were about right and 18% not high enough. 59% thought that Britain had a culture of benefit dependency that needed radical change, as opposed to 29% who thought that welfare benefits were far from generous and the least a civilized society could do to help people avoid abject poverty.

However look below the surface and it isn’t a blanket opposition to welfare – it is hostile towards welfare for particular groups, supportive of particular cuts. So the YouGov/Prospect poll found people were happy to see support for disabled people and for the elderly to rise (even if it meant higher taxes), the areas where they think welfare is too generous and should fall are those Daily Mail favourites “single parents” and the unemployed. People are more evenly divided over support for low-paid people in work, with marginally more people thinking support should be cut than think it should rise. There is a similar picture when it comes to specific government policies – polls do show strong support for things like the benefit cap, for stopping benefits for those who refuse working, support for limiting benefit increases to 1% (although there appears to be an online/offline mode effect here – online polls show people more supportive than telephone polls)… but opposition to policies like stopping housing benefit for under 25s.

The reason that people tend to be supportive of benefits cuts in general is likely to be related to the fact that they perceive an awful lot of benefits as going to those groups they don’t want to pay for, or indeed for outright fraud. For example, the YouGov polling for the TUC found that on average people thought that 41% of benefit spending went to the unemployed and that just over a quarter of it was claimed fraudulently. The YouGov/Prospect poll found that 29% of people thought that half or more of benefit claimants were lying or deliberately refusing to take work, and a further 39% thought a significant majority were. The general perception is also that benefits are more generous than they are – on average, people think that Jobseekers Allowance is £147 a week (it’s actually £71 a week).

This is not to say that attitudes to benefits are unusual in someway in being based upon a poor understanding of the issues. I expect this is typical and we’d find it in almost any policy subject we cared to ask about. Most people don’t waste much of their time worrying about the details of how the country is run, what the government spends, how policies work and so on. Our views of policies are based not on a detailled understanding of the issues, but on crude impressions and heuristics. In terms of welfare benefits, those crude impressions are, for many people, that a large amount of benefits go to the workshy or the dishonest and therefore it is a good place to save money, rather than on public services like hospitals and schools.

I should finish by taking it right the way to electoral politics. As in most cases, the important thing won’t be whether people actually support individual policies, it is how they feed into wider, longer term perceptions of the parties. For the Conservatives many of the policies are popular in themselves, but they need to avoid them playing into and entrenching perceptions that the party are heartless or nasty or uncaring towards those struggling (it’s not necessarily impossible – remember that the low income person seeing their own tax credits frozen may also be someone who believes that benefit claimants are mostly scroungers and layabouts who deserve their benefits cut – people don’t fit into nice neatly defined boxes of us and them). Labour meanwhile will want to oppose many cuts without allowing the Conservatives to paint them as a party that cares more about benefit recipients than they do taxpayers funding them – in short, despite the ridiculousness of the rhetoric, whether they are on the side of skivers or strivers.


127 Responses to “On “bedroom taxes” and benefits”

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  1. Re the bedroom tax

    So instead of the nanny state we have the anti nanny state(in my family gran is always referred to as nan or nanny)

  2. Good Evening All.

    Habemus Papam. A very moving day, for me, and also, I think for many people not in the institutional catholic church.

    Combines radical social istic theology with ‘trad’ morality teaching.

    Humbly asked the 150,000 people to pray for him.

    Deo gratias.

  3. AW is obviously right when he says that most people know very little about welfare but that this does not stop them holding strong opinions about it. He adds, no doubt correctly again, that this applies to other areas of policy.

    I wonder, however, if the battle over welfare has a rather particular and sinister characteristic focussing as it does on the question of whose lack of moral fibre is to blame for the current state of the UK. Obviously the undeserving poor are not the only candidates – Bankers, Gordon Brown, the Labour Party, immigrants, the cuts, are all blamed from time to time with varying degrees of success,.

    However, my objection to this line of argument in the case of the unemployed is that it smacks to me of Nero’s tactics with the Christians, Hitler’s with the Jews, and so on. It appeals to something strong and deeply unpleasant in human nature and politicians should not risk stirring it up with tales, however graphic,

  4. @Chris Lane 1945

    Gaudium magnum to you.

    I also found it moving and I am not in the institutional Catholic Church.

  5. ” A very moving day, for me”

    Frankly, not for me. I really couldn’t care less about the pope.

  6. charles

    I agree. The lessons from the 1930s and the evils that followed really should warn us off all this scapegoating. But probably won’t.

  7. The real trick about the bedroom tax is when you compare the profile of available social housing with the changes in household composition.

    In the last twenty years or so we have seen a huge growth in single households and smaller families but the housing stake doesn’t reflect that.

    so people with larger homes will lose 14% of their housing benefit to encourage them to move to smaller homes that will almost certainly not be available.

    In addition markets being markets private rents for smaller homes will rise as the supply is limited and largely finite but demand will go up, probably saving the government less than it thinks if large numbers move.

    If large numbers can’t move because of limited supply the government will save money but not because people won’t move but because they can’t.

    Still their is always the US option…. Trailer Parks.
    start those up along with the 20,000 jobs created by the PPI claims industry and the rebalancing of the economy will be well underway.

    I don’t mean that as a party political comment it just that I think this is a particularly mean move regardless of what government introduces it.

    Peter.

  8. Housing stock… not stake, although we could always put single people in coffins overnight… now that is downsizing!

    Peter.

  9. @Chrislane1945

    I am very happy for you – although not a believer myself I find the faith and spirituality of others very heartwarming and hopeful.

  10. Maybe a solution to the bedroom crisis is to reclassify a house as having fewer bedrooms. Apparently there’s no definition of a bedroom in the legislation; it is up to the landlord to decide how many there are.

    And if it can’t be done administratively, a room could be bricked up. Or two knocked into one.

  11. @Charles (fpt)

    “So if we are to get out of it we need an approach to welfare and unemployment that is somehow different from the one we have at the moment. Have to go out for the day, but would be very interested in any suggestions you or indeed anyone else might happen to make on this. (And to link it to what we are supposed to discuss how this suggestion could be made to do well at the polls) .”

    ——————-

    For me, rather than spend lots of time and effort and money trying to fix the benefits system, which is treating symptoms rather than causes a lot of the time, I’d rather put the cash, effort and resources into solving the problem at source by improving the employment situation.

    Which of course isn’t any easier, but it is better. Then you pay less on benefits and can focus welfare better on the smaller number who are unable to work.

    Creating jobs has a bad rep in this country because we haven’t been that good at it. We did have a couple decades growth and near full employment post-war till the oil crisis hit. We could still have done it a lot better and as Heseltine points out we are getting outplayed by other countries on this.

    It’s also about preserving jobs. In the recent discussion on Switzerland, a big part of the reason that they appeared to have a smaller state is not that they actually spend that much less per person but that their producing more: their GDP is quite a bit higher (plus a fair chunk of health spending is hidden – Krugman did an exasperated explanation if this a while back).

    And the reason their GDP is higher is partly down to more higher-end manufacturing and this appears to be supported by some clandestine protectionism. The Americans recently saved their car industry. I doubt it will be easy to show this will have been a mistake.

    It’s a complicated subject – and being in the EU can make it harder – but learning lessons from the past and other countries we should be getting more systems people and experts from industry involved in the allocation of resources to projects, investing in growth areas with lots of spin-off so if one angle fails you have others and you maximise returns, and a wider range instead of a few expensive vanity projects. Basically accepting that as with businesses themselves not all attempts will work out. The goal – as with successful businesses – is to win out rather more of the time.

    Another point of course is that it can be quite expensive keeping people on the dole. Dunno the figures these days but I recall in the mid-eighties the marginal cost if keeping someone on the dole on average was nine thousand squid. Well that wasn’t far off the starting salary for a teacher. You may as well take a punt on employing them in some initially govt-supported business.

    Especially when you factor in knock-in savings like reduced crime and social costs, multiplier effects in supporting supply chains, attracting more private investment etc. Or else employ them to do things we need and which will save money, like housing and flood defences.

    And then we won’t have to worry about bedroom taxes any more!! It’s almost worth it just for that. Frankly it might be better if more effort went intoworrying about what’s the best way to exploit our lead in microsatellites or cutting the cost of flooding than the best way to cut benefits for the disabled even further.

    But the media prefers “human interest” stories like bedroom taxes and polling follows suit. Be interesting if there was polling on state support for business since it is quite important….

  12. Voters’ ignorance polls remind me of all the comments I remember reading about how the MP’s expenses would have paid for the NHS budget shortfall.

    I suppose most of us here would imagine that a better informed electorate would lead to a better informed voting choice, but I reflect that a good three quarters of the posts here among the (ahem) better educated commentators dispute the ‘facts’ produced by those on the opposite side of those political choices.

    What hope Sid on the bus?.

  13. For once I agree with nick (do you get it)

    There is far too much scapegoating going on, and that’s because nobody takes any personal responsibility anymore. Scapegoating is occurring on left and right too, i.e. It’s all the bankers, rich people’s fault, or, the opposite, too many people not contributing and living off state. Neither view is particularly accurate or fair, and both whip up target support groups.

    Richo

  14. Regarding Welfare

    The goal has to be full employment – until we have full employment as a policy we are always going to have a large welfare bill.

    As far as policies are concerned –
    In order to focus resources, I would not care about those that do not want to work (however many of those there may be). I would concentrate on getting every person who wanted a job a job.

    I would encourage unemployed to start their own businesses. Cheap business premises , vocation training etc and I would publicise and encourage individual investment in these businesses – for example retired experienced people could invest in these businesses it could be win-win.

  15. I couldnt agree more. Target those who want to work. Yes perhaps we have become a lazy society with a significant number not wanting to work, by there is at least a million, maybe even two million people out there who want a job and want to work but can’t find one.

  16. @couper2802

    The goal has to be full employment – until we have full employment as a policy we are always going to have a large welfare bill.

    Sadly neo-liberalism doesn’t want full employment – it specifically requires a permanent pool of unemployed to keep wages down.

    Until we run the economy different to Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron it won’t happen.

  17. Hal

    ‘And if it can’t be done administratively, a room could be bricked up. Or two knocked into one.’

    Is it time to buy shares in sledgehammer firms??

  18. The responses in this poll depress me somewhat, not so much in terms of what they say about people’s opinions, although those are fairly dispiriting, but more because of what it reveals about the levels of ignorance on which the opinions are based. What it suggests to me is that propaganda remains an exceedingly effective political tool, particularly when delivered in digestible and easily remembered sound-bites. Superficial perceptions beat hard facts hands down. Hence “benefit tourism” strikes a powerful chord about a too generous and wasteful benefit system, made all the more potent by its dog-whistling conflation with immigration. “Swamping” is another powerful word to use and it was effectively deployed by Thatcher in the 80s when she aroused fears about mass immigration. Tabloid newspaper stories about unemployed families, or single mothers, living high on the hog while “hard working families living by the rules and trying to do the right thing” struggle, cleverly simmer resentment and nurture grievances. We become an ever more angry and resentful country, ripe for the plucking by a party that can garner and marshal the anger.

    Sadly, there’s an awful lot of votes to be had in pandering to mean-spiritedness.

  19. Regarding full employment. Which is something im very much in favour of, however there is a problem with full employment which is that wages have been surpressed for so long that there is latant inflation of at least 20% this is made much worse by our flexible labour market which gives even greater scope for sudden wage snapbacks. Unfortunately unemployment has become systemically necessary

  20. I have seen reports that most if not all of the scronger stories in the daily mail are made up, its said that they even employ actors to portray the imaginary benefit cheats. Of course I dont believe this because a national newspaper couldn’t get away with such a thing

  21. @Richard in Norway

    So the only reason why newspapers probably don’t fake these stories is that they woulCdn’t be able to get away with it?!

  22. Is there a law against newspapers making something up if it doesn’t actually lible a real person?

    If they make something up about a fictional benefits claimant, what’s the legal redress?

  23. Libel

  24. The media have done such a fantastic job about lying about benefits. This is all the evidence you need; people think JSA is double what it is. Benefit fraud rates are absolutely tiny (just google Fraud and Error in the Benefit System: April 2008 to March 2009 – Revised Edition) for proof. Nearly all of them are less than 3%. And yet the public believe that it is over 25%, or even a significant majority. It’s no wonder people hate benefits so much, they’ve been routinely lied to by hate-filled, power-hungry sociopaths who don’t care about anyone but themselves.

  25. RICHARD IN NORWAY
    “Regarding full employment. Which is something im very much in favour of, however there is a problem with full employment which is that wages have been surpressed for so long that there is latant inflation of at least 20% this is made much worse by our flexible labour market which gives even greater scope for sudden wage snapbacks. Unfortunately unemployment has become systemically necessary”

    ————

    Well the way they got around that in the past was with an incomes policy to keep wages in check.

    Thing is, the inflation only gets expressed if there is insufficient production to soak up the increased demand caused by higher wages. Make sure there are more goods to compete for the money and you keep inflation in check.

    Inflation isn’t all bad anyway. It’s handy for eroding debt. And handy for avoiding deflationary spirals in recessions. Also government investment can lower the price of various things. .. you can encourage people to divert money to less inflationary thungs… there are numerous ways to skin the inflation cat.

    Someone (Wolf?) Posted a quote of Healey that he was surprised that inflation led to more saving. This shouldn’t really have been that much of a surprise given interest rates were rather higher than usual to cope with the inflation caused by the oil crisis…

  26. Carfrew

    How do you implement an incomes policy in a flexible labour market?

    About healy, I will have to look into that because its entirely possible that it only seemed like folk were saving if you dont understand what is being measured by savings, paying down debt is also counted as savings, higher interest rates mean higher debt repayments so it might have been that rather than fatter savings accounts

  27. @RiN

    Yes I wasn’t suggesting applying an incomes policy now, just that it was one method used in the past. The other methods I mentioned are still available regardless of flexible labour.

    Sure paying down debt may also be counted as savings but I know people did have proper savings earning quite a lot of interest in that era, ‘cos I had a few grand myself tucked away earning 15% interest…

  28. @RiN

    Yes I wasn’t suggesting applying an incomes policy now, just that it was one method used in the past. The other methods I mentioned are still available regardless of flexible labour.

    Sure paying down debt may also be counted as savings but I know people did have proper savings earning quite a lot of interest in that era, ‘cos I had a few grand myself squirreled away earning 15% interest…

  29. @RiN

    Yeah I wasn’t after using an incomes policy nowadays, I said it was in the past. The other stuff would apply now though…

  30. As for savings you may be right about the debt thing but people did save as well. I had some cash put aside warning fifteen percent…

  31. Warning = earning

  32. Thu March 14, 6 a.m. GMT

    Latest YouGov / The Sun results 13th March – CON 31%, LAB 40%, LD 11%, UKIP 12%; APP -40

  33. The British public is very disappointing sometimes.

  34. @David Anthony

    You don’t seem to like people who disagree with you judging by your extreme comments. The Governments aim of reducing welfare dependancy is very laudable in my view.

  35. @Charles

    You make the point well concerning attacks on minorities, I would add bankers to your list. The majority of bankers are hard working, honest individuals.

  36. Weighted 7 day average pre-UKIP ‘bounce’ (27th Feb) –
    Lab 43.2, Con 32, Lib 10.8, UKIP 8.7

    Weighted 7 day average (current) YouGov:
    Lab 41 (-2.2), Con 30.9 (-1.1), Lib 11.2 (+0.4), UKIP 11.5 (+2.8)

    Or rounded:
    Lab 43, Con 32, Lib 11, UKIP 9
    to
    Lab 41 (-2), Con 31 (-1), Lib 11 (nc), UKIP 12 (+3)

    Pretty clear movement?

    ChrisLane
    How solidly socialist is the new Pope? I don’t know much about him.
    It will make quite a change from Benedict, who had extreme anti-socialist views.

  37. When it gets near to the 2015 election, there will be a major debate about the welfare state and what is affordable. Part of the debate will be about pensioner benefits. It will be interesting to see whether all parties will pledge to retain the current benefits e.g free bus travel, winter fuel allowance.

    It is really unfair that parties will aim their policies at those most likely to vote. As pensioners are more likely to vote, the parties are very reluctant to implement policies which have any impact on their standard of living. Polling shows that pensioners currently support Tories about 5% more than Labour. No doubt the Tories will remind them of Labours 71 pence increase in pensions and by how much they have increased pensions. Of course this is more about the level of inflation at the time.

    Labour really must engage with voters under the age of say 30, who are least likely to vote. If they can mobilise these to vote Labour, it should help to secure the majority that the polls currently predict. It will be interesting whether Labour will look to reduce the current university tuition fees and offer more government help for universities. This would be very popular with under 30’s, as would more funding for apprenticeships.

  38. Can anyone explain why UKIP has so much popular comment on media websites and yet appears to score so low in actual pop polls?
    If we look, for example, at the Eastleigh By-Election, UKIP seemed to do greatly better than any of the pollster oganisations had predicted.

  39. I was interested by your script regarding the so called Bedroom Tax. I am sure that there is a great deal of ignorance regarding this Tax and who it affects. But this is true of all issues and voters carry their opinions into the polling booths at election times.
    Can anyone suggest how FACTS could be delivered to the electorate in a way that is totally free of political party bias, rhetoric and dogma so that people can make informed decisions based on fact?

  40. It’s interesting that although the bedroom tax has more supporters than opponents in all English regions, the situation in London is 38% in favour and 51% against.
    Also, the bedroom tax is clearly being used by the Yes campaign — the SNP have already promised to roll it back after independence.

  41. @Independantchris

    “If we look, for example, at the Eastleigh By-Election, UKIP seemed to do greatly better than any of the pollster oganisations had predicted.”

    I doubt that polls can predict the ‘protest, tactical, two fingers to the coalition’ factors.

    RE: Today’s poll vs yesterdays and the prior ones…fickle I tell ya! :)

    Interesting that Gov Approval is fairly static. Might it be the thing to check if there’s a sudden gain or loss for the Con VI?

  42. I wonder if a polling organisation could slip into their occasional Qs the following:

    Who receives Housing Benefit?
    (tenants)
    (landlords)

  43. @Tingedfringed-‘ChrisLane
    How solidly socialist is the new Pope?’

    This from the Catholic Herald :(http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/03/13/cardinal-bergoglio-profile/)

    “His role often forced him to speak publicly about the economic, social and political problems facing his country. His homilies and speeches are filled with references to the fact that all people are brothers and sisters and that the church and the country need to do what they can to make sure that everyone feels welcome, respected and cared for.

    While not overtly political, Cardinal Bergoglio has not tried to hide the political and social impact of the Gospel message, particularly in a country still recovering from a serious economic crisis.”

  44. Crossbat

    This I found interesting from your link

    ‘A code of conduct says board members must remove themselves from decisions if they could benefit from the outcome’

    How many mps removed themselves from the vote because of a conflict of interests. And that applys to both sides of the house. Even the man who brought the bill to the house had a financial interest in its passage!!!

    But it is as I said at the time, the nhs ‘reforms’ will lead to corruption, but as your link shows its only the small scale stuff at the bottom of the system that will reported on or dealt with. The conflicts of interest at parliamentary, ministerial and senior civil service level will be ignored. Worth noting that in the US the biggest contributor to campaign funds is the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry, and thats by a long way

  45. @Carfrew. – Thank you for responding so thoughtfully to my question (and hence thanks to others who responded your post.).

    In general I strongly agree. We need to bother about work and target those who want to work. No doubt there are idle poor, just as there are idle rich but they are a very small minority and not the problem. The solution, if any, lies with the much larger number who want to contribute and support themselves.

    As others have said, it could be that this approach leads to increasing wages and thus loss of market share and potentially loss of jobs. What strikes me as unfair is that while the workers lose their jobs the system ensures that those higher up the food chain often do rather well. Indeed CEOs etc seem to increase their take home pay in hard times when their knife wielding skills are in demand. Similarly when times are good, the firm can hire more at the bottom and still pay the CEO more. So there is an imbalance of risk and benefit between the top and bottom that makes a nonsense of the belief that we are all in this together. Part of my objection to the attack on claimants is that it entrenches and provides a false moral underpinning to this situation,

    A related concern is that in the attempt to solve this problem we move to a situation where work acts as the social security system and people are officially at work when actually what they are doing is meaningless and they might as well be out with their families. This is a waste of time. not good for one’s self respect and not in the end sustainable.

    So I suspect that in a changing world there is a need for benefits, even in a system that rightly targets those who want to work. The trouble with it is that the benefits are seen as a favour, and a drain on the national exchequer and not part of a system that is integral to the proper functioning of work and society in general and which could act as a life-changing platform for those involved (Viewed in a different way one could see universities as they now are and national service as it once was as a benefit system).

    So for me the major problem with the benefit system is its pointlessness for those involved (and in this way it equates with being in prison). There are a massive number of things that need doing in this country from looking after old people to dealing with the potholes in roads to dealing with the infrastructure costs of the internet, and masses of people who want meaningful jobs and the skills needed to perform them. Why can’t we somehow put the two together?

  46. Arrghh, *Scotland*, not *London*, in my comment above. Why can’t you edit your old comments? :-(

  47. very interesting post which reminds like truth things are rarelypure and never simple….

    rather like the new pope. a Jesuit elected in a conclave that began on the anniversary of the canonisation of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier 12 March 1622. The Jesuits have courted controversy and one were dissolved & in 18th C found refuge only in the Russia of Catherine the Great until their restoration.

    I think it would be a mistake to think of a passion for the poor like that of St Francis himself as anything akin to socialism. but what he will bring is a sense solidarity with the poor and probably social & economic activism to the religious dialogue.

    Unless I misunderstood his words he also did something quite revolutionary in issuing a Plenary Indulgence to all men and women of good will rather than to all believers under the usual conditions of confession, communion and praying for the pope’s intentions.

    Pu the bedroom tax in that obligation towards the poor and whilst I do not cavil with the meaning of the polling on the matter I am reminded about the rich entering the kingdom of heaven being harder than getting a camel getting through the eye of the needle…though of course it is disputed what was meant by the usage ‘needle’.

    I’m still not sure why the rich cannot afford a mansion tax because they are cash poor and asset rich and the poor cannot afford an extra bedroom on the same basis.

  48. I think we can now safely say that today’s YouGov has confirmed that the Tories and Labour are both down slightly since the recent bi-election.

    In the past, it has always been assumed by many that a significant drop/collapse in the UKIP vote in the lead up to a GE (IF it were to to happen) would pretty much solely benefit the Tories. I think recent polling does suggest that although the Tories would undoubtedly benefit most, even Labour would probably benefit from a UKIP drop. It wouldn’t all trickle back to the Tories.

  49. Unless Francis I melts down some of the gold that drips all over the Vatican and donates it to the poor, then I’m afraid I won’t be at all convinced by his social justice credentials.

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