This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 30%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16% – continuing to show a boost for UKIP from their local election successes. Economic optimism also remains higher (or at least, less strongly negative) than it has been since May 2010. The rest of the poll covered immigration, europe and the monarchy.
The public do not rate the government’s current handling of immigration – only 15% think they are doing well on the issue, compared to 75% who think they are handling it badly. Asked which party they would most trust on the issue of immigration UKIP now have a convincing lead, 30% to the Conservative’s 17% (Labour are picked by only 12%).
Asked about whether some of the government’s recent proposals are workable, a large majority (80%) think fining companies who employ illegal immigrants would work and 60% think stopping illegal immigrants from receiving non-emergency health care would work. Opinion is more divided over whether requiring landlords to check the immigration status of people renting a property is practical – 48% think the idea is workable, 40% think it is not.
62% of people think there should be a referendum on Europe (as usual!), with the vast majority of these thinking it should be held before the next general election (if you support something, why wait?). More interesting is that people also tend to think it would be possible for David Cameron to deliver this if he really wanted to – 48% think that Cameron would be able to get the support of other parties for a referendum if he tried, compared to 31% who think other parties would not agree to holding a referendum before the election. In practice, most people still do not expect there to be a referendum in the near future. Only 6% expect a referendum this Parliament, only 31% in the next Parliament.
Asked how they would vote if there was a referendum, at present 30% would vote to stay, 47% to leave. This is a comparatively large lead for the “OUT” vote compared to YouGov’s recent polls on the topic, although still smaller than the sort of 20 point plus leads that OUT had last year. If David Cameron renegotiated British membership, said that Britain’s interests were now protected and asked for a YES vote, people continue to say they would vote to remain in the EU in by 45% to 32% (the key difference is Conservative voters, who would currently vote to leave, but say they would vote to stay if Cameron renegotiated and recommended a yes vote. In practice, of course, this would depend on whether Cameron could sell whatever he negotiated to his supporters).
A majority (53%) of people think the Queen should remain in her role for life, compared to 33% who think she should abdicate. Asked specifically about what should happen if the Queen were to become too ill to carry out her duties 48% think she should then abdicate, 43% think she should continue as Queen even if many day-to-day duties were carried out by other members of the royal family. This is a turnaround from March when a majority wanted to see the Queen continue even if too ill to carry out her functions. There has also been a significant shift in attitudes towards Prince Charles – 50% of people now think that he will make a good King when the time comes, up from 37% when YouGov asked the same question back in May 2012.
My guess is that the two shifts are not unconnected – the drip-drip of news stories of the Queen cutting down on engagements, stopping flying and Prince Philip’s stays in hospital (perhaps too the abdication of Queen Beatrix or even the death of Baroness Thatcher, who was very close in age to the Queen) is gradually making people consider the Queen’s future, and making them consider Charles as her successor. It has previously been reported that the Queen sees the monarchy as a lifelong duty and that she would never abdicate, but public opinion does seem to be gradually preparing itself for the point when she is no longer Queen.