This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. Topline results are CON 30%, LAB 41%, LD 12%, UKIP 12%, so again suggesting that the budget has had no significant effect on voting intention (though as I’ve said before, that’s isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the government. In recent years budgets have more often had negative effects on government support, so it should perhaps be seen less as an positive opportunity missed, than a pitfall avoided).

The Budget

There is little change in people’s attitudes towards the economy, the overwhelming majority still think the economy is in a bad state and very few expect their finances to improve in the next year. Confidence in the government’s ability to deal with the economy has ticked up very slightly… but not by much. 33% say they have a lot or some confidence in the government’s economic ability (up from 29% last week), 24% think the government’s economy strategy has started to work or soon will (up from 19% last week).

Looking more specifically at the budget, only 19% think it will be good for the economy, 25% bad for the economy with 40% thinking it will have no effect either way. Asked how it will affect them personally 30% of people think they will be worse off compared to only 10% who think they personally will be better off.

YouGov also asked who people thought had benefitted or suffered from this year’s budget – the biggest winners were seen as people trying to buy a home (39%) and rich people (36%), followed by small businesses (22%), big business, people in low paid jobs and working parents (all on 19%). I suspect the government would be quietly pleased if people went away with the perception that the budget was one that helped people trying to buy a home or run a small business if it wasn’t accompanied by the continued perception that it was helping the rich. In contrast the people who are seen as suffering from the budget are public sector workers (24%), people on benefits (22%), people in low paid jobs (18%) and stay at home parents (18%).

On specific measures, the increase in the personal allowance has extremely wide support – 89% are in favour. The mortgage guarantees are supported by 50% with 28% opposed. The reduction in beer duty, despite being seen as crowd pleasing measure actually produced mixed feelings. 41% of people were supportive, 42% opposed.

Finally, the budget does seem to have tempered hostility towards George Osborne slightly. A week ago only 17% wanted him to remain as Chancellor and 51% wanted him replaced. The figures now are 27% stay and 46% go.

Press regulation

YouGov also asked about the new system of press regulation, finding people broadly supportive. Overall 52% of people support it, 23% are opposed. There are similar splits on whether it is threat to press freedom (27% think it is, 53% think it is not) and whether it is right that newspapers who do not join the regulator should face larger damages (55% think they should and 23% think they should not). People are much more divided over whether the system will actually work – 40% think it will help stop intrusive and unethical behaviour by the press, but almost as many (37%) think it will not.


Last night we also had the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer. Topline figures there were CON 28%(+1), LAB 38%(-1), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 16%(-1), though fieldwork was conducted partly before the budget. The poll also asked what result people expected from the next election – 25% expect a Labour majority, only 9% a Conservative majority, 45% another hung Parliament (two thirds of which expect Labour to lead the subsequent government).

A note for polling pedants, as far as I can tell from the question text in the graphic the Observer’s headline “54% of voters expect Ed Miliband to be next Prime Minister” is not true. Opinium seem to have asked which party people expected to form the government after the next election, which is a slightly different question. People could expect a difference Conservative MP before the general election, or expect Labour to win under a different leader… but more importantly, people may well have answered the question differently if they had asked who will be Prime Minister after the next election. Logically unless people think the two main party leaders might change before 2015 the two answers should be the same… but as we have seen again and again, that is not the way answers to polls actually work.

179 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 30, LAB 41, LD 12, UKIP 12”

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  1. I wonder what would be needed (short of the start of the campaign) to shake these figures…

  2. Tories will probably be quite pleased with this I guess. For them, they must hope to keep in touch and hope that people start to question Labour more as the GE approaches, so no change is not too bad a position for them after handing out some really very poor economic downgrades.

    This morning twitter seems awash with pundits (both left and right) saying that Boris bombed on the Marr show this morning. Didn’t see it, so can’t judge, but all the talk seems to be about Eddie Mair deconstructing the chummy image and exposing the reality in a way not seen before. If true, Cameron will also be pleased at this.

    Possibly something for him not to be too pleased about is the weather. March is going to be critical for the GDP figures, and this snow is really quite serious across significant parts of the country. We know from last years bank holidays that losing the odd day of economic activity when you are hovering around zero can be headline changing news, and if this cold snap does knock a fraction of a percentage point off growth – that could be triple dip.

    Another problem is the energy supply. It’s going to stay properly cold for at least another week, with long range forecasts for the next couple of weeks also cold. With gas consumption running 25% ahead of normal already and reserves down to 1.4 days supply we are already right on the edge. One little broken valve or emergency closure on the gas networks and we are literally a few hours away from gas rationing. I wouldn’t like to be the PM if that happens.

  3. Alec

    I would have thought that the govt would be very happy about the cold weather. They have a decent excuse for the triple dip now!

  4. Re the boom/bust and growth/inflation debate, I find it really interesting for about 5 minutes.

    What people all have to remember is that politicians are always taking part in one big ‘job interview’, that is continuously ongoing. All they are trying to do, is sustain their jobs in parliament and government, so will selectively pick the information that they want you to believe, which may be better than other candidates.

    The truth is that politicians actually make very little difference to the overall performance of the economy, as we are a little country just paddling along with the tide.

  5. One positive – and both huge negative – for the Tories is that their current support probably can’t really go much lower! The 28-31% or so that remain would probably pretty much vote Tory whatever happens.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt now that Labour’s vote has now fallen to somewhere in the 38%-41% range. The labour lead is pretty stable at around 10 points or so (across all pollsters), but the declining vote for both parties is probably more worrying for the Tories because, on anything like current polling, Labour would still romp home with a landslide.

  6. I can’t really understand any calls for the Tories to change leader. For me, David Cameron has always been much more attractive than his party, and this is, indeed, reflected in poll after poll. The same definitely went for Tony Blair – before the Iraq war, I liked him as a leader and PM and considered him an asset to the Labour party.

  7. @ R Huckle

    The truth is that politicians actually make very little difference to the overall performance of the economy, as we are a little country just paddling along with the tide.
    Actually, almost the opposite is true. The private sector has very little influence to the overall economic performance; it is government which drives our economy albeit often in response to what the mythical ‘market’ allegedly demands.

  8. Looking increasingly like large parts of the Press will not sign up with the new regulator.

    Beginning to wonder if this what what DC foresaw-Let Grant / Clegg / Miliband get on with it to keep them quiet.
    Then say oh dear-I did my best-when the Press don’t join.

  9. Not the budge-it.

  10. @Amber Star

    I agree, and in my view it is why the UK is in economic decline. We need private enterprise driving the UK economy and a much smaller state.

  11. R HUCKLE

    @”The truth is that politicians actually make very little difference to the overall performance of the economy, as we are a little country just paddling along with the tide.”

    A lot in that, I think-particularly in the context of global competitiveness. Private sector employment hugely more significant than public sector.

    Natural resources are a big factor & politicians don’t conjure those up-though they can exploit them-or fail to do so.

    The effect of shale gas on the US economy is a startling example.

  12. I agree with both Amber and the Other Howard to some degree – though I do think external influences undoubtedly play a huge part also.

    As an eternal pessimist (and realist, I prefer to think), I am of the opinion that we (and I) am pretty much scr**ed whoever is in power. But the question for me is who would scr** up the most?

    Whoever’s in power over the next 50 years, I expect living standards in this country to decline. I also expect that financially I am going to have a very hard time of things.

  13. Also Panelbase poll in Sunday Times/Real Radio

    Yes 36% : No 46% : Undecided 18%

    Voting for Scottish Parliament – Greens would replace LDs as 3rd party.

    Scotland Votes calculator would give Greens 8 seats – 2 each from SNP & Lab. 1 each from Con & LD.

    SNP would take 6 Lab & 2 Con constituencies.

  14. @ Colin

    “Then say oh dear-I did my best-when the Press don’t join.”

    Maybe then there would a proper legislation on the press? Or licensing? I think it remains open ended for the time being – and anyway it will be blamed on DC.

  15. @AmbivalentSupporter

    I would agree with your comments, at the present time it does not matter which of the main parties are in power , they will not take the action required. I happen to think that the decline would be slower under the Tories, but that is just personal preference. Sorry to hear that you feel that you expect to have a hard time of it in future and I hope your wrong. I have advised my children and particularly my grandchildren to emigrate to achieve a better future.

  16. @The other Howard – Thanks for answering my question the other day. I am afraid I failed to pick it up.

    Fair enough that you don’t like the Scandinavian model – to me it seems like Paradise compared to what we have. (The Danes according to some dubious statistic or other are supposed to be the happiest people on earth). But I do hope that if we were to have anything like such a model we would have a place for the sturdy individualism that seems to me a hallmark of the kind of society you want to promote.

    As for whether such models will always (economically speaking) end in tears, I personally see no more reason for thinking so in this case than in others – rather less as it happens. But again I don’t see how anyone can really tell. Which is probably why in the end I think choices between such models have to reflect values rather than economic analysis.

  17. I realise that David Blanchflower may not be everybody’s favourite economist, but he has a paper out on underemployment in the UK that people may be interested in[1].

    [1] Given that our economy has adapted to the employment situation by offering lower hours, rather than higher overall unemployment.

  18. @Charles

    Glad you saw my post. Interestingly I have a Danish daughter in-law and she certainly cannot stand the Scandinavian model, not that she is a fan of the current UK model. She shares a lot of my views and would prefer a smaller state as i would.

  19. @Colin – “The effect of shale gas on the US economy is a startling example.”

    I’m not altogether sure the impacts of this are as great as some make out (usually those promoting the shale gas industry) or that government actions have little impact on economic performance.

    I’ve read a number of reports indicating that while shale gas is clearly providing some benefit to US manufacturers, it isn’t providing particularly cheap energy. When oil prices recently dropped to $120 a barrel lost of shale gas fields were turned off, as they couldn’t run profitably below these (relatively high) energy costs.

    Prices are generally set globally anyway, so reductions in input prices probably have more to do with the economic implosion in Europe. Where shale gas does seem to be having a benefit in the US is in long term energy security – which is clearly important to heavy users.

    This is where we can link to government actions. US manufacturers are relocating back to the US from China for a number of reasons, with shale gas being quite a long way down the list. Issues such as quality and security of intellectual property rights are cited frequently, but the single biggest factor seems to be the medium term jobs market in China.

    Recent IMF reports suggest that China will experience a very severe labour shortage in less than ten years time, largely due to the one child policy. Their economic development hasn’t matured sufficiently to overcome the natural shift in population dynamics, and their chosen method of population control has made the crunch worse.
    Foreign firms are leaving, as they see the effective end of cheap labour just around the corner, and they are also increasingly concerned about he social consequences.

    In the UK context, I also reject the notion that governments are powerless to alter our economic fortunes. Investment, security of energy supply, support for training etc – all things that have been neglected by UK governments for many years, and all having a big impact on how our economy will perform.

  20. TOH

    I would agree with your comments, at the present time it does not matter which of the main parties are in power , they will not take the action required

    And what action would that be pray

  21. Surely the press saying “Ta very much but we’re not joining” underlines the need for the framework to be legally set?

    If the govt sets rules for railway safety they can’t say “Sod off, we don’t like them” can they?

  22. Alec

    Some jobs are going back to the states and Europe from China because of the high oil prices, transport to market being a significant cost variable in some products.

  23. @The Other Howard,

    Thanks for your very kind words.

  24. @ Roger Rebel

    And what action would that be pray
    Yes, praying seems to be the plan. ;-)

  25. ALEC

    I read a much more positive impact on US economy of shale than you do.

    And you downplay the effect on the relocation too-in many cases of industries which were effectively dead.

    “Shell is planning an ethane plant in a near-derelict steel valley near Pittsburgh. Dow Chemical is shutting operations in Belgium, Holland, Spain, the UK, and Japan, but pouring money into a propylene venture in Texas where natural gas prices are a fraction of world levels and likely to remain so for the life-cycle of Dow’s investments.
    Some 50 new projects have been unveiled in US petrochemicals. A $US30bn ($A29.4 billionn) blitz is under way in ethylene and fertiliser plants alone.
    A study by the American Chemistry Council said shale gas has reversed the fortunes of the chemical, plastics, aluminium, iron and steel, rubber, coated metals, and glass industries. “This was virtually unthinkable five years ago,” said the body’s president, Cal Dooley.”
    The US cost of ethane – the raw material for plastics and much else – has collapsed by 70pc since 2008. It is why Exxon and Westlake Chemical are building new ethane plants in America, while loss-making Mitsubishi is closing its unit in Japan. Credit Suisse said ethane production is barely viable in Japan, Korea or Taiwan.”


    Sadly-for Europe , all of this simply increases the gap in competitiveness .

    “The implications are momentous. America will no longer need a drop of oil from the Islamic world. The strategic burden will fall on Europe, currently disarming itself to meet austerity targets.
    Europe’s leaders have done almost nothing to face up to this new world order, or to prepare for the energy crunch ahead. They have spent the last decade wrangling over treaties that nobody wants, tinkering with institutional structures, and holding 22 summits to “save” the Economic and Monetary Union.
    Germany is to shut down its nuclear plants within a decade, reluctant to admit that this can only be replaced by coal. It is opting instead to raise the share of renewables from 20 per cent to 35 per cent by 2020 at a cost of €200 billion ($A250 billion), and then to achieve green supremacy by mid-decade for another €600 billion.
    Germany seems to think it can power Europe’s foremost industrial machine from offshore wind in the Baltic. “It is a religion, not a policy,” said one German official privately, warning that his country is already “very near blackouts”. He fears a national disaster.”


    I agree that governments are not “powerless” . All of the things you mention are important factors.

    But set alongside the massive effect of a domestic energy resource like shale gas in USA , they do not come into the same category.

    There are clearly factors at work in UK which make such a bonanza more difficult to release-ownership of mineral rights, planning rules, denser population etc.

    But all the same-to watch what is happening in USA whilst we fanny about with our shale & take years to address the looming energy gap facing this country, and continue to worship windmills is pretty depressing.

  26. Laszlo

    @”Maybe then there would a proper legislation on the press? Or licensing? I think it remains open ended for the time being – and anyway it will be blamed on DC.”

    …or a “proper” police force to enforce the law when journalists break it.

    If anything approaching licencing is contemplated, I imagine that would finish off what is left of UK’s print press.

    We might as well just let the Government of the day print a weekly bulletin.

  27. @ Alec

    Foreign firms are leaving, as they see the effective end of cheap labour just around the corner, and they are also increasingly concerned about the [economic &] social consequences.
    It’s nice to see that ‘foreign firms’ & the IMF are finally catching up with facts which I have been writing about for years. The only reason for manufacturing in China was to open up a market in China for ‘our’ goods & services.

    China simply did not follow through on their promises to become a consumer society; therefore the forecasted economies of scale did not materialise & the cost to manufacture in China is higher than in the US & UK.

  28. Anthony,

    There have been a couple of Scottish Independence polls this weekend – one mentioned in the Guardian yesterday (covering views on what currency and independent Scotland might use), on in the Scottish Sunday Times today (which one SNP MP touted as “needing only a 5 point swing to yes” a nice spin on being 10 points behind).

    Planning on writing anything on either of them?

  29. Squeaky-bum time for Cyprus.

    There seems to be little agreement on anything, except that for some reason they think that staying with the euro is a good idea.

    I suppose that leaving would be the ultimate small-depositors’ haircut, so the Cypriot politicians are trying to avoid that, even if it means years of austerity afterwards. I wonder if there is any public support for leaving the euro.

  30. “At least ten police officers are suspected of attempting to “smear” Andrew Mitchell over the ‘plebgate’ incident, according to the Sunday Times.

    The newspaper reports the officers come from four police forces and are accused of either fabricating claims about the former Chief Whip’s outburst on Downing Street or leaking details afterwards.”

    politics home.

  31. Right on cue:

    (Reuters) – Most Dutch think Cyprus should leave the euro zone even though the cost of a bail-out for the country would be tiny compared to the rescue for Greece, a poll published on Sunday said.

    So, there is support for pushing another country out…

  32. @RogerRebel & AmberStar

    Prayer is not the answer, cutting the size of the state is.

  33. Must say I’m very pleased to see some sections of the press lining up to give legislation the elbow, can only hope the rest follow. As to the comment that DC will be blamed, well he might be, but not half as much as EM and his celebrity friends in Hacked off.
    If they bring in licencing in it’s place then I agree with colin the press might as well give up or transfer to the internet, incidently I cannot see DC agreeing to licencing so it will be very much Labour and the Liberals trying to push that one through.

  34. @Colin
    “Looking increasingly like large parts of the Press will not sign up with the new regulator.”

    I don’t really give a fig as to whether they choose to sign up or not. What matters is that those who don’t nonetheless change their often appalling and immoral behaviour. What they can’t wriggle out of is the latent threat of exemplary damages faced by those who choose to carry on regardless.

  35. @ Jon H
    … “needing only a 5 point swing to yes” a nice spin on being 10 points behind.

    Do you have another interpretation of the difference between ‘gap’ and ‘swing’?

  36. Chart update folks. UKIP’s MAD pops up to 11.2% (from 9.5%) as the poll averages shift.

    Little else happening really. The 29% Conservative VIs seem to have been short-lived, while approval for March is down on February.

    Is there anything obvious on the political horizon, or are we looking at fairly static polling (post-budget stuff aside) ?

  37. @Colin

    “We might as well just let the Government of the day print a weekly bulletin.”

    They do already. It’s called the Sunday Express! lol

    As for the first few polls conducted after the Budget, my hunch that Osborne’s set of well trailed, largely low key announcements would have zero effect on voting intentions has been largely borne out. Anthony has extracted what positive Government juice can be squeezed from the polling data and, as far as I can tell, this amounts to Osborne’s Chancellorship being viewed with a little less disdain than before and the Government’s economic credibility twitching slightly upwards from a very low base. However, the political ground has not shaken and party VIs and government disapproval remains stuck.

    I’ve always thought in politics that you judge the depth of the hole you are in by what constitutes relatively good news. It would appear that this Government and its supporters are pleased with anything that isn’t either a political and/or economic calamity. In the context of those very low expectations, I suppose this Budget was neither of those things and, accordingly, constituted a modicum of rare good news.

    Mind you, doesn’t it just remind us too of what a gargantuan sized political hole they’re in, though.

  38. Finally I make my first post on a site I have been following closely for a fair while.

    I believe Tory backbenchers gave DC 5 tests:

    Eastleigh – FAILED
    Credit Rating – FAILED (and other agencies poss soon to follow)
    Budget – I would say NEUTRAL as clearly better received than last year’s but as polls suggest it is unlikely to result in much of a bounce for Tories.
    GDP – going to very close, at best very low growth.
    Local Elections – UKIP is likely to do well, hurting Tories in the main. Btw have there been any polls on LE VI? Or signs in local by-elections of UKIP surge?

    Conclusion must be that challenge to DC will be on cards this year.

  39. @Statgeek

    “…Is there anything obvious on the political horizon, or are we looking at fairly static polling (post-budget stuff aside) ?…”

    Well, apart from the threatened resignation of the Cyprus president, the collapse of the EU/ECB/IMF bailout, the withdrawal of EU support for Laiki and the Bank of Cyprus, the collapse of the entire Cyprus banking system followed by the Cypriot government, the emergency readoption of the Cypriot pound requiring the corralito from hell as they are converted from worthful euros to worthless CYP…no, there’s nothing much happening. Yourself?


  40. I wonder if Darling will come back post Scottish elections. It might change my view of a potential Labour administration if he did. I had so much admiration for the way he stood up to Brown & Balls and kept his job. Most of what he has said has been proved roughly correct in my view. Other than perhaps Yvette Cooper, I don’t think there is a single person in that shadow cabinet who can hold a candle to him.

  41. @Hal

    “…There seems to be little agreement on anything, except that for some reason they think that staying with the euro is a good idea…”

    * Everybody wants to go to Heaven. Nobody wants to die.
    * Everybody wants their sons to go to a mixed-gender school. Nobody wants their daughters to go to a mixed-gender school.
    * Everybody wants to leave the Euro. Nobody wants their savings converted out of Euros.

    Humans, eh?

    Although having said that, if Cyprus goes bankrupt tonight, they won’t have the choice any more..:-(


  42. @ Rory Bruce

    Hello & welcome.

    We are not aware of any local elections polling so it’s difficult to say how it will go & whether it could be a problem for David Cameron.

    Apparently his alleged #1 rival, Boris Johnson, didn’t do too well on the Marr show (hosted today by Ed Mair). It’s looking unlikely that David Cameron will be ousted; he could choose to resign of course, if he ever believes winning to be mission impossible & doesn’t want to go down with the ship.

  43. Martyn
    You seemed to have missed the now withdrawn El pais article which had this byline…..

    “Merkel, como Hitler, ha declarado la guerra al resto del continente, ahora para garantizarse su espacio vital económico.”

    It was later changed to a more boring Germany against europe

  44. @RiN

    Oh,. those wacky spanish…


  45. Amber Star,
    Thanks for the welcome. Yes you are right, Boris was perhaps the only one who could have succeeded in ousting DC but it would take quite an about turn for him to quit his job. And as you say the skeletons in his cupboard are beginning to rattle.
    But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a challenge. And even though it is likely to fail it will further weaken DC.

  46. @James 2612

    I’m not disputing that they’re the same thing, swing just wouldn’t be the “normal” phrasing outside certain circles so it felt a lot like spin.

  47. @rorybruce

    In eighteen local by-elections so far this month there have been two UKIP gains from Con: Runnymede BC, Foxhills (14th) and Havering LBC, Gooshays (21st).

    In some other byelections this month UKIP either didn’t stand or there was a negligible Con>UKIP swing, however, there were also some with 15-20% swings… a result of which in North Dorset DC, Lodbourne and Arun DC, Aldwick East… two LD gains from Con:


  48. @Jon H

    I have rarely heard a report of an election saying that party A took it from party B by ‘making up a 10 % gap’. On the other hand, reports of winning with a ‘5% swing’ are commonplace.

  49. @”“Merkel, como Hitler, ha declarado la guerra al resto del continente, ahora para garantizarse su espacio vital económico.”

    What is the Spanish for” Merkel-like her taxpayers, is not going to pay up for the Cypriots unless they dismantle their ridiculous tax haven, and the Russian billionaires take a hit”

  50. JAMES 2612

    Yes. Swing is often a fairly useless concept in lots of Scottish elections, designed as it was to describe a two-party system.

    Swing is, however, exactly the correct term for a referendum in which there are only two possible choices!

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