This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times results are now up online here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 30%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%. The ten point lead is now on the upper side of YouGov’s recent polling (the Labour lead has started to settle at around 8 or 9 points) but within the normal margin of error.

Attitudes towards the economy remain pessimistic, but less so than the last two years. A majority of people now regard David Cameron and George Osborne being at least a fair amount to blame for the state of the economy. 25% think Osborne should take a lot of the blame, 28% a fair amount; 21% think Cameron should take a lot of the blame, 30% a fair amount. However Gordon Brown is still much more widely blamed for the state of the economy, with 37% blaming him a lot, 32% a fair amount.

Of the people asked about (Cameron, Osborne, Brown, Darling and Balls) Ed Balls is the least blamed, but even then 44% think he should carry a lot or a fair amount of blame, only 35% little or no blame. I’m intrigued by this finding, for the political anoraks amongst us Ed Balls is a man who was extremely close to Gordon Brown and was his political ally, confidant and one time advisor. However, I can’t believe the public, 36% of whom can’t even recognise a photo of Ed Balls are particular aware of that. It does raise the question of why people are so ready to put at least some blame on someone who didn’t even hold an economic portfolio at the last election. Some of it will be a purely partisan answer of course, but even 23% of current Labour voters think Balls should carry some blame for the current state of the economy. Perhaps it’s just some people putting some collective blame on all the last government, or blaming the whole of the current political class.

Moving on to Ed Miliband’s welfare announcements, we knew from previous polling that people supported the idea of stopping Winter Fuel Payments for richer pensioners and supported the ending of child benefit for higher earners – they still do. 62% of people also think that Miliband’s proposal to cap the total cost of benefits is a good idea.

There is less confidence whether Miliband really believes in what he is saying – only 23% think he is capping the cost of benefit because he thinks it is right, 60% think he doesn’t believe it but is only doing it for political reasons. This may well just reflect general cynicism towards politics though, rather than anything about Miliband in particular – YouGov found almost identical figures in the past when we asked about David Cameron and gay marriage.

Finally YouGov asked a chunk of questions about social mobility. People are broadly divided over levels of social mobility in Britain today. 38% think that anyone with talent who is willing to work hard can rise to the top, 43% think that success is mostly reserved for those from privileged backgrounds. 37% think that social mobility has improved, 40% that is has got worse. There is a very obvious difference between supporters of different political parties, the vast majority (71%) of Tory voters think that talent and hard work will bring success, wherever you start from, most Labour supporters (59%) think success is mostly reserved for those from privileged backgrounds.

The perception seems to be that social class is much more of a barrier in the professions than age or gender. Only 21% think that senior professional positions are unfairly dominated by white people, 63% think they are open to people from all racial backgrounds. 39% think they are unfairly dominated by men, but 49% think men and women have equal opportunities. When it comes to social class 56% think the professions are unfairly dominated by the affluent middle class, while only 31% think they are open to people of all class backgrounds. This may, of course, just be an “I’m alright Jack” distinction – most respondents are white, so won’t be personally disadvantaged by race. Almost half of respondents will be male, so shouldn’t lose out through gender. However, for almost all respondents there will be someone higher up the class scale who they can worry they are losing out to.

On nepotism people overwhelmingly think it is acceptable for parents to help their children to get jobs (by 78% to 12%), and would overwhelmingly arrange for a child to get work experience at their own place of work, or call in favours to arrange work experience elsewhere. A majority (55%) do, however, think that it is wrong and unfair for companies to offer UNPAID internships.

146 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 30, LAB 40, LD 9, UKIP 14”

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  1. I think that Ed Balls has officially indicated that the state pension setup can no longer be relied upon as it is now or in the past. This seems to be a logical extension of the coalition’s NEST pension schemes -ie lets get everyone saving towards their future, rather than doing nothing and let the state sort it out.

    Of course everyone would love to think that they can carry on as before and worry about the future when it comes. There’s just too many older people, not enough younger people to support them, and that situation will not improve soon. Whether people will like the sound of this reality is another matter.

    Labour being positioned as the party of the young/workers vs oldies/retired?

  2. I’d say the question should be ‘Is it right for parents to employ their children over other equally qualified applicants.’

  3. @ Colin

    Here’s my take on Ed Balls’s inclusion of pensions & pensioner benefits:

    Ed Balls is taking a risk regarding the welfare debate.

    He wants to shift the debate by drawing attention to the fact that it is not ‘scroungers’ & ‘immigrants’ who are pushing up welfare costs. It is the aging population, with pensioners getting the vast majority of welfare cash.

    He also wants to draw attention to Cameron’s 2010 pledge to protect pensioners’ benefits & draw GO out on what the plan is regarding these benefits come 2015.

    Will Ed Balls’s tactics work? We don’t know. But sometimes you have to take a risk to get a ‘reward’. The ‘reward’ will be a better understanding of welfare spending amongst the voting population, he hopes.

  4. I wonder how people would answer these two questions.

    Would you consider it fair to get your child a job where you worked over the child of someone who didn’t work there.

    Would you co cider it fair if your boss got a job for there child and the firm you worked over your child.

    Actually, I suspect we can guess the answers.


  5. @Martyn

    My mum is a fan of Ian M Banks, I have to say your post was delightful.

  6. AMBER


    Yes -that makes sense.

    prior to recent YouGov Polls I would have said Balls isn’t taking much of a gamble-over 60s vote mainly Con.

    ….but the more recent polls show a Lab majority in that demographic.

    But there is certainly a political stratagem in the somewhere aimed at differentiation from GO Amber- I would agree.

  7. And it looks like this will be pushed out of the News Cycle before a great deal of attention will be paid to it, by William Hague deciding to mount a “The innocent have nothing to fear” defence of GCHQ involvement in Prism. No idea why he felt he had to say anything at all.

  8. @Alex Harvey

    Thank you.


  9. Martyn

    I bought The Hydrogen Sonata for Mrs Lampton a few weeks back. After she finished it, I took it with me on a business trip to the States and left the damn thing on the plane. Having read the first 30 pages, it seemed to be very firmly anchored in the Scottish Independence question (the theme being that a civilisation was wrestling with the idea of whether or not to sublime).

    I’ll get another copy this week. And read it with a heavy heart.

  10. I have my pension but, in future, people should be at least a hundred before they qualify.

    Firm but fair, we’re ali in it together [weli, you are anyway] and this is the way to bring down our debt and safeguard my index-iinking.

  11. AMBER
    “Will Ed Balls’s tactics work? We don’t know. But sometimes you have to take a risk to get a ‘reward’. The ‘reward’ will be a better understanding of welfare spending amongst the voting population, he hopes.”
    A stratagem or getting the debate on the potential bankrupting of the welare system through rigid adherence to state pension arrangements entered into in an earlier generation with a different demographic does not seem to me to deserve the negative implications of “risk” and “gamble”; is EB not right, and clearly acting with shadow cabinet backing, to move this necessary debate up to a grown-up discussion of what can be afforded, how to afford it, and how to do so with some differentiation of state support for pensioners with or without other income?

  12. @ JohnPilgrim

    Yes, Ed Balls is right to raise the subject. But he is ‘gambling’ that it will lead to a sensible debate rather than something less edifying which could cost Labour votes.

  13. MARTYN
    Thanks for your good note on Iain Banks’ death. Bizarre that he should have been writing about a man in mid-life dying of cancer without knowing he was himself in that situation.

  14. AMBER
    Of course. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    I know you weren’t inferring this, but do find tedious the assumption that every party political decision is made for the purpose of winning votes; this is a debate that needs to take place, and strengthening it will, I suspect, add to the seriousness with which EB’s embracing this and related topics on public spending will be treated; including among the over-60’s. We’re not daft.

  15. Bit of a long one this!

    The Pension problem is “The elephant that didn’t bark”.

    Key is the dependency ratio.

    In the days of the Hovis adverts people started work at 15 retired at 65 and popped their clogs at 70 in effect 50 years at work and five years retired a 10:1 ratio.

    Now they star work after Uni at 20 want to retire at 60 and live to over 80, that’s 2:1, 40 years at work and 20 retired. The sums just don’t add up.

    Part of the Independence argument over pensions is about will it cost Scotland more or less than the UK, but the difference is dwarfed by the fact that the burden is going to triple.

    All the parties are talking about it but none are yet facing up to it.

    Back in the Hovis days the husband went to work and the wife stayed to look after the five kids (and sometimes gan as well), effectively a dependency ratio of 7:1, 1 full time wage and six extra mouths to feed as well as your own.

    It was a struggle just to feed and cloth yourselves while keeping a roof over your head and cross your fingers the man didn’t get sick.

    We subsequently by the latter half of the century became the family of four Mum, Dad and two kids, with mum often working at least part time.

    That effectively meant a ratio of 4:1.5, far better and leaving the disposable income to create the consumer society. We had money left over to buy things that other people made and were employed in shops to sell us.

    The main beneficiaries if not equally were women as although they didn’t get as good jobs or fairly paid, consumerism created far more opportunities for them to work.

    A consequence of that was that domestic labour moved out of the reach of the middle classes. When we had a small middle class and lots of desperate poor the supply of domestic labour outstripped demand and was cheap.

    Once the middleclasses grew and there were more choices of jobs demand outstripped supply and fewer could afford servants.

    The point of this trip down memory lane is that as we age the dependency ratio will rise again.

    Thus disposable incomes, be it because of having to give up work to look after gran, pay someone to do it or the tax rises needed to pay for it , will fall. That will impact on the consumer society.

    Less to spend after tax and bills means fewer jobs in the service sector.

    Add to that more and more people needing carers but fewer people available to do it and the price of care is driven up by supply and demand.

    The end result; 2050 starts to look worryingly like 1950, which ironically might just appeal to UKIP supporters.


  16. @ Peter Cairns

    What a lovely stroll down memory lane…

    The looming problem is fit pensioners getting pensions & continuing to work. How can people who haven’t retired expect to earn a decent wage when experienced, active oldies can work for much less because they’ve got their pension(s), their mortgage is paid off & their commute costs are subsidised? A bonanza for employers & pensioners, a nightmare for pretty much everybody else who has not reached pensionable age!

  17. Watching the evening news, and EB has been pushed entirely from the news cycle as the ‘big political story’ focuses on Prism. Slight mixed blessing here, since the early slightly inaccurate reports will be what people saw if they were paying any attention. But people rarely pay attention to political news on Friday and Saturday. Not sure if it was intentional, to lay unpopular ground work while no one is watching. But then why make public announcements on it anyway? Might just be fortuitous that Hague made a sticky public statement along the lines of “The innocent have nothing to fear” just as experts were saying otherwise, giving Ed and Ed space to row back a leaky dingy.

  18. @LeftyLampton

    Scottish Independence? Only if you assume that Independence is some sort of abandonment of reality and generally giving up to head off to a glorified retirement home for redundant civilisations…

  19. Jay

    I’m innocent and bloody terrified

  20. Richard

    So am I.

  21. There seem to be several Deii ex Machina saving politicians recently. First the horror over the Woolwich attack drew fire away from the SWELs, and then Prism has distracted people from a weird week for Labour.

  22. Amber
    “The looming problem is fit pensioners getting pensions & continuing to work. How can people who haven’t retired expect to earn a decent wage when experienced, active oldies can work for much less because they’ve got their pension(s), their mortgage is paid off & their commute costs are subsidised? A bonanza for employers & pensioners, a nightmare for pretty much everybody else who has not reached pensionable age!”

    1. The number of jobs is not fixed, and is at or near the highest ever. There’s no reason to think this trend will change.
    2. Even more jobs available if women stayed at home to look after the children
    3. Yet more jobs available if immigration was stopped.
    4. Some older people will do what I do – I don’t yet collect the old-age pension, but 4 small private pensions mean that I can afford to work just two days a week, thus freeing up half a job for a younger person.

  23. The Sheep.


  24. Syzygy

    Nah, I can’t believe that you are innocent as well!

  25. Very interesting move here by Balls. He clearly thinks nailing the idea that Labour are profligate with welfare and don’t understand austerity and deficit is the over ridding factor, and is prepared to frighten some pensioners to do this. He also thinks he can flush out Osborne, who has struggled with ring fenced budgets already, and will continue to do so again if he insists on expanding the pension element of welfare.

    As others have pointed out, this debate also takes the heat away from the ‘shirkers’ issue – I’m always tickled that apparently welfare recipients are ‘shirkers’ until they reach pensionable age, at which point they are magically transformed into mythical gods who deserve every one of the riches society can bestow upon them. Such is the debate on welfare.

    I rather suspect that the pensions ‘cap’ and the earlier speech touching on universality are linked, and that we will see some hard to counter arguments from Labour on additional pensioner benefits becoming means tested, in the hope that this means they can meet the welfare cap. If Osborne confirms these will continue as they have since 2010, Tories will be on the wrong side of the welfare debate, and if they decide to axe them, they have made Labour’s job on an overall welfare cap easier.

    An additional point for Balls is the proposed new flat rate pension of £144, due in 2016. Ed B is talking about a three year cap, presumably 2015 – 2018, therefore encompassing the time when the new pension arrangements kick in. To date, coverage of the new pension has focused on what it means to pensioners and in individual circumstances, with little comment I have seen over cost. I am assuming it will cost more, as paying all pensioners the full amount will mean some not on other income related benefits end up better off.

    Perhaps Ed B has spotted this, and worked out the numbers. He could delay the introduction of this and save money compared to Tory spending plans, helping to meet his total welfare cap by arguing that this isn’t the time to make wealthy pensioners more wealthy, and welfare should be focused on who needs it most.

  26. Pete B

    “Even more jobs available if women stayed at home to look after the children”

    Right on brother. Apropos of the earlier discussion, you wouldn’t have been 15 in 1960 by any chance?

  27. Totally out of place here, but help!

    I want to rant about the fashion police, and this is the only blog site I ever use. And It’s about the least relevant possible site to go to for a moan at the fact that it’s no longer possible to buy brown or green clothing, towels, sanitary ware, toilet paper, ANYTHING !

    Point me to a suitable blog, please.

  28. @MoG

    Army Surplus does a nice line of green and brown clothes. I don’t know of any place that has a line of brown toilet paper (for sale).

    …that’s the sum of my Sunday contributions. Was it worth it?

  29. @LeftyLampton

    Yeah, me too

    @John Pilgrim

    You’re welcome


    Matalan’s website allows you to select clothing by color. See


  30. I am hoping Ed Balls is playing an interesting game

    Read the above document. I tells you how to reduce the cost of the welfare budget or at least cap it, and continue with the triple lock, basically everything Ed has promised. And get the economy going to boot.

    Hopefully the game looks like this:
    – “I can reduce the cost of benefits and get the economy moving at the same time and reduce the deficit”
    – Tories “ha, what an idiot” of course you can’t
    – Ed, well if you take 1 +1 what do you get? Explain what the document above says
    – Tories – egg on their face. 5 years of soaring welfare expenses and no growth and the solution was staring at them in the face all the time. But they were so blinkered by “free markets” they were blind to it.

    My respect for Ed Balls is growing by the day. I hope.

  31. AMBER
    “The looming problem is fit pensioners getting pensions & continuing to work. How can people who haven’t retired expect to earn a decent wage when experienced, active oldies can work for much less because they’ve got their pension(s)”
    Is this a rational conjecture, or is there evidence of pensioners working at lower than the going rate? In some professional areas this would not be possible, and it should not be beyond the wit of man or government or corporate body to regulate or guide against it.
    At the other end of this argument, what potential is there for the skills and experience of retired craftsmen and professionals, already deployed, for example, in the overseas aid ‘professional retrreads” program to add value to the economy. I don’t mean on a hobby basis but as an integral part of the workforce, earning at its true value. (I confess to a personal interest: I imagine accountants and solicitors and a lot of company directors don’t and cannot undercharge.)

  32. “Prism” was no doubt so named because it is part of the “full spectrum dominance” program.
    We are told that every man, woman and child in this country generates enough personal data to fill a thee-volume novel over the span of a few years… presumably that is why the Utah Data Center needs capacity to handle yottabytes (10 to the power 24 bytes) of data.

    “Miss Letitia Prism: Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.

    Cecily: Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.

    Miss Prism: The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

    Imagine the fuss if the European Council had asked some member of the UK securitariat to sign a secret protocol whereby states agreed to spy on each other’s citizens.

  33. @Martyn,

    Thanks, but just looked at Matalan. Not a single brown formal shirt there,

  34. So he is nailing his colours on a failure of “green shoots”-and making that the excuse for adhering to inherited spending restrictions. Quite how that agenda will sound in the event of say 1.5% to 2% growth this year, and 2% + in 2014 is difficult to imagine.–

    Wow growth of only 8% below long term trend over 5 Years. Combined with a fall of 15% in real term income for 80% of the population over 5 years.

    Let’s party like it’s 1999!

    Actually I suspect slightly less bad economic data would give Balls a bit of wriggle room.

  35. MOG

    ” it’s no longer possible to buy green toilet paper, ”
    Are you trying to camouflage the Kharzi?

    If you must go green Ebay will help you out.

  36. Some Interesting forecasts this morning :-

    From ITEM Club:
    Real incomes to grow 1.2% this year, i% next year & 2% in 2015.
    Consumer spending to grow 1.2% this year, 1.9% next year &2.2% in 2015.

    From BDO:-
    Short-term business revenue expectations at 11 month high.

    Permanent job placements at six month high.

  37. Colin

    Real incomes growing by i% next year?

    As in square root of -1?

    Is that better or worse than the square root of f***-all growth that we’ve seen since the Election?

  38. Colin

    To be serious for a moment, the figures you quote (IF they are realised – there’s previous here…) mean that income and spending growth is 2-3 years behind the expectation in the heady days of the expansionary fiscal contraction craze.

    Table C2, Page 9 here

    Economic historians will tear their hair out over the madness that engulfed the West in 2010.

  39. @ Colin

    Undeniably the economic figures since the start of the year have been at their best for the current government and have moved from being very marginal to currently a definite sign of some growth.

    However I’m a bit gobsmacked at your report that the Item Club are saying real incomes (wage rises less inflation) are going to grow this year let alone by significant figures. Although all forecasters seem to have got it wrong since the recession started Item Club have a particularly bad record.

  40. Nothing seems to change much in these polls. I wonder what David Cameron thinks about it.

  41. SHEV11

    The income tax reductions are a significant component.

  42. LEFTY

    Yes those June 2010 forecasts are now consigned to history-along with so many economic forecasts in the EU-a major UK Export market.

    Past economic forecasts can be interesting can’t they?

    I once read a chart of the successive Borrowing forecasts ( Spending Review/Pre Budget/Budget ) for each year under GB’s Chancellorship compared with Outcomes. There was a pattern I seem to recall.

  43. RiN

    @”I’m innocent”

    …….of what?

  44. I’m a bit less enthused about the economic numbers at present. The last set of stats on household earnings and retail spending was underwhelming, with some previously upbeat commentators suggesting that we might be seeing the recent consumer led recovery peter out, as real wages continue to fall. There is also the issue of employment, which hasn’t been going too well recently.

    There is no question that there has been a mini surge in business confidence since the turn of the year, but it’s a little hard to see why this is really the case. The global economy is still full of weaknesses, including in the former power house China, and our main trading partners in the EU are still mired in deep recession.

    I’m genuinely hoping that better times are about to roll, but my personal expectation is for continued but very sluggish growth, with something of a softening of the high confidence numbers in the months ahead.

  45. Well, the Item Club uses the Treasury’s economic model. It may work, but as it was mentioned the track record is not great.

    I find it weird that all components grow faster than the sum of the components. Perhaps GDP is in constant prices, while consumption, investment and exports in current prices (which would make the GDP forecast very sensitive to inflation).

  46. SHEVII

    Good point. I hadn’t picked up on just how away wi the fairies the IT prefictions have been sibce the crash.

    The IT was one of the most vociferous commentators claiming that Lab’s stimulus would not work, and that we’d come out of recession strongly under Austerity.

    IT predictions since 2010.

    Jan 2010: 2010 growth will be 1.0%
    Actual 2010 growth: 1.5% (even after the “snow” slowdown of Q4)

    Jan 2010: 2011 growth will be 2.5%
    July 2011: 2011 growth will be 1.4%
    Oct 2011: 2011 growth will be 0.9%.
    Actual 2011 growth: 0.8%

    Jan 2010: 2012 growth will be 3%
    July 2011: 2012 growth will be 2.2%
    Oct 2011: 2012 growth will be 1.5%
    Actual 2012 growth: 0.2%
    h ttp://

    In my line of work, with a prediction record like that, I’d be on the dole. In the world that the IT club inhabit, it seems that there are always people willing to listen to predictions that tell them what they want to hear.

  47. Colin

    As you may recall, GB paid a political price for his errors. (And as a balance, I’m sure you’ll also recall that his Treasury had a decade-long record of consistently producing more accurate predictions of growth than any if the independent commentators, most of whom were predicting collapse on an annual basis after 1997).

    The point is that the models which downplayed the effect of Austerity on our growth have been uniformly, consistently and spectacularly wrong since 2010. And yet the predictions from the same modellers are being trotted out to reassure us that it actually IS all coming right. Along with a lengthier-by-the-year set of reasons why their models’ errors are due to everything apart from underestimating the effect of Austerity.

    To be honest, now that the damage has been done, I’d prefer it if the Right retains this mindset right up to 15. They can then have a few years out if power trying to figure out why their numbers didn’t work.

  48. Why is it not possible to have a debate about state pensions, without another party accusing the other of not treating pensioners fairly ? Ed Balls talks about a possible cap on welfare spending to include Pensions and the Tories then immediately say that Labour won’t look after the nations pensioners.

    This is silly. State pensions costs as much as the NHS and are by far the biggest item within welfare spending. But in terms of politics it appears to be a ‘no go’ area, because pensioners are most likely to vote.

    In my opinion there needs to be a full debate about how the government allocates taxpayers money, to ensure it is fairly distributed. It cannot be fair that one sector of society is protected to the extent that another is treated unfairly. Given that those currently under 40 will probably not receive a state pension until they are over 70, surely steps must be taken now to deal with the long term affordability of the state pension system.

  49. @RHuckle

    Not silly, just politics, the Labour Party does the same thing all the time.


    I am quite sure that Osborne will stick to his policy until 2015. I too do not think he is right, he should have cut much deeper earlier but he is more right than the alternative approach suggested by EB

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