This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 12%. The four point Labour lead is lower than YouGov’s recent average, but well within the normal margin of error.

Today’s poll also had YouGov’s regular bank of tracker questions on the government’s cuts and these produced one striking figure. For the last couple of years public opinion on the cuts has been pretty steady. On balance people think the cuts are bad for the economy, they think they are unfair, many people think they are too fast or too deep… yet people think they are necessary. In short, people don’t like the medicine, they think it may be making things worse, but they don’t see any alternative to taking it.

However in the latest figures people were evenly split on whether the cuts are good or bad for the economy. 41% think they are bad for the economy, 41% think they are good for the economy. As ever, one should not read too much into a single poll, but this finding does reflect an ongoing trend. Over recent weeks and months public opinion has been moving in favour of the cuts.

Below is the tracker data on if people think the cuts are good or bad for the economy. They turned against them very early in the Parliament, at the tail end of 2010. Opinion got even more negative after the 2012 “omnishambles” budget, but since late in 2012 the trend has been moving in favour of the cuts, eventually reaching towards figures where opinion is evenly balanced.

Looking at whether the cuts are fair or unfair we have a different balance of opinion, but the same pattern of change. An overall majority of the public still think that the spending cuts are being carried out in an unfair way, but it bottomed out after the 2012 budget and since then there has been a slight movement away from “unfair”.

On whether the cuts are too deep, you can see the same pattern. By the time YouGov started this tracker in early 2011 public opinion had already decided that the cuts were too deep. Having moved in a bit it spikes back towards too deep after the 2012 budget, since then opinion has been moving towards the cuts being about right or too shallow (I’ve put about right and too shallow together in the graph – in the latest figures it’s 27% about right, 16% too shallow). I haven’t graphed the figures for whether people think the cuts are too fast, but they are very similar to those for “too deep”.

Finally here are the figures for whether people think the cuts are necessary. There isn’t really the same trend here – there’s a little bump after the 2012 budget, but broadly speaking the proportion of people who think the cuts are necessary has remained stable throughout the Parliament. However unfair or too deep or economically damaging they were seen to be, people have consistently thought the cuts were necessary. In some ways it will be interesting watching this question as we go forward – it’s possible that increasing economic confidence will make people think that cuts are working and, therefore, that it’s necessary to continue with them. Alternatively, people might think that if the economy is on the rise it is no longer necessary to continue with cuts. We shall see.


350 Responses to “Attitudes to the cuts”

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  1. PETER CAIRNS.
    Likewise I too have had the same slog, and it is worth it.

    On this rock .

  2. @Chrislane1945

    Tu es Petrus

  3. @ Alec

    “Oh dear. First I queried maternity rights, and now I’m up against the veggies. I best retire for an early night.”

    Nah- go for a treble. What’s your views on Whales? Take up a lot of room don’t they? :-)

  4. With Sir Alan Beith retiring at the next election I wonder if it is a sign of things to come.

    If the LibDem’s are still around 10% a year from now h ow many older LibDem MP’s will decide to reach for the Ermine rather than risk defeat?

    Peter .

  5. @Alec

    “as the principle never seems to be applied to everything else in life we do.”

    Perhaps it should. I think you’re conflating two different things in your reasoning here, but I don’t really want to start another argument over something.

    For what its worth, though, I don’t think there’s a moral issue around eating meat in the abstract, as it were. I do think, though, that there’s a moral issue with eating meat that comes from factory farming, and places that use similar techniques, though – as buying it supports the practice as a business model.

    That and I’ve always been curious why certain meats (dog, cat etc.) are off limits.

    @ Neil A

    “I eat meat because it’s fcuking delicious and my life would be a sensory desert without it.”

    Really? I’ve always thought it tasted quite bland to be honest. There’s more flavours in vegetables I reckon :P

  6. @Alec

    “as the principle never seems to be applied to everything else in life we do.”

    Perhaps it should. I think you’re conflating two different things in your reasoning here, but I don’t really want to start another argument over something.

    For what its worth, though, I don’t think there’s a moral issue around eating meat in the abstract, as it were. I do think, though, that there’s a moral issue with eating meat that comes from factory farming, and places that use similar techniques, though – as buying it supports the practice as a business model.

    That and I’ve always been curious why certain meats (dog, cat etc.) are off limits.

    @ Neil A

    “I eat meat because it’s fcuking delicious and my life would be a sensory desert without it.”

    Really? I’ve always thought it tasted quite bland to be honest. There’s more flavours in vegetables I reckon :P

  7. Yes, I’m a vegetarian & I rather like whales although they are scarily big; dolphins are human sized which makes them easier to get along with.

  8. @ Neil A

    “I eat meat because it’s fcuking delicious and my life would be a sensory desert without it.”
    —————–
    Maybe you should get out more; smell the flowers, walk by the sea & feel the wind in your hair (such as it is).

    My father worked as an apprentice undertaker; he had three child deaths to deal with in a single week & jacked it in – I don’t envy you your job, that’s for sure. I think you might need some beauty in your life – to balance it up – & I doubt you’ll find it whilst chowing down on a greasy sausage.

  9. Identity politics, yay!! It’s like a CiF thread!!

    Over at PB, they were contrasting the approval ratings of leaders versus parties, using the recent Survation poll data.

    Cameron, at minus 15, leads Miliband on minus 22 by 7 points.

    But Labour, on minus 11 lead the Tories on minus 25 by 14 points.

    Thus the difference in party approval is double that for leader approval.

    There’s a school of thought that says leader approval is particularly important in elections. But is it powerful enough to trump such a deficit in party approval?…

  10. Latest YouGov / The Sun results 7th August – Con 31%, Lab 39%, LD 11%, UKIP 11%; APP -30

  11. Latest YouGov:

    Con 31
    Lab 39
    LD 11
    UKIP 11

    Based on 5 poll moving average Labour lead steady at 6.2%.

    Measured by CUSUM analysis, after 13 polls on the up for the Conservatives, this one is a step back. On the same chart/method Labour have been stable for 10 polls.

  12. Not a million miles from that benchmark 30/40/10/15 with UKIP having slipped back a wee bit.

    Question: is a 2% fall for Lab as bad for them as a 2% fall for UKIP or LD? Proportionately it’s much smaller.

  13. More trouble for Stafford hospital consultation process the perception is more and more looking like a fix to close certain services at the hospital and the people of Stafford are getting really angry, incorrect figures and new services that have actually been in place for 18 years seems to be cover for closures, the first meeting went really bad with people not able to get into the meeting; and more importantly the administrators were unable or refused to answer questions according to local radio, which was what the meeting was intended to do… answer the concerns of the people

    It seems as though “consultation” means something entirely different, interesting reads below

    “The heads of critical care nursing, midwifery and children’s services all revealed at a public meeting that none of them had been consulted before the proposals, which deliver cuts to all their departments, were published.”
    h ttp://www.standard.co.uk/panewsfeeds/healthcare-shakeup-criticised-8750820.html

    h ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-23609547

    I still think this is going to sway many at the GE 2015

  14. Interesting ! When Mark Carney from the BOE announces that interest rates should remain at 0.5% until 2016, the Tory polling for over 60’s appears to drop and government approval slips as well. Perhaps negative thoughts amongst the over 60’s who rely on interest on their savings ?

    Worrying for Labour is the unweighted sample of nearly 1000 from London and rest of south, which has them on 29%. Perhaps economic recovery is underway in the south of England, but is not being experenced elsewhere.

  15. 41.41 didn’t last long !

  16. Good Morning All.

    R. HUCKLE.
    The Fabian Society paper on the 2013 Local Election results identified Labour’s weaknesses in key southern seats.

  17. Having had a lead apparently yesterday in the Midland /Wales Area for the Conservatives the Cross Break today is Conservatives 24% Labour 51%!

    Presumably Aberystwyth Conservative Club is closed on a Wednesday.

  18. Doctors say a British woman has given birth to the biggest baby ever born naturally in Spain – a girl weighing 6.2kg (13lbs 11oz)

    -Who says Osborne’s Export led Growth Plan is failing.

  19. I think England is a very divided place politically.

    Labour’s weakness in the South is a mirror of the Conservative’s in the North.

    Unless something start to shift in a major way, then I expect a period of close elections, with a serioius north/south, Labour/Conservative split.

    The role of Lib Dems and UKIIP may be significant.

  20. Hmmm. According to ONS if you are on a zero hour contract but only work for one hour in a given week then you are counted as ’employed’. In some cases you can be given no work at all for umpteen weeks and still be counted as employed. Not that unemployment figures have much effect on VI IMHO

    http://www.newstatesman.com/economics/2013/08/how-zero-hours-contracts-hide-real-unemployment

  21. Anthony

    Today’s YouGov contains a repeat of the cuts questions that were asked only two day ago and indeed the nominal subject of this very thread. Is this an adjustment to the schedule of tracker questions or was there some query over the previous sample?

    Certainly today’s results don’t make the closing of the gap as dramatic as shown above, though that could be more a reflection of the different VI (a Labourlead of 8 rather than 4), some of the differences are significant, but not massive.

  22. Roger – just re-asking them sooner than usual to get a stronger steer on where we are (and yes, I suspect the difference is because one was a bit of a Toryish sample, while today’s is a bit of a Labourish sample – as ever, it’s the longer term trend that counts not the single poll)

  23. Anthony,

    Occasionally I do the Brandex survey which asks you to select from a range of companies or products.

    Has Yougov ever considered doing the same with a range of words, positive and negative about a politician, party or the economy and then presenting the results as a word cloud rather than the usual tables or percentages.

    Not that. Iam being condescending but it might look work better for Sun readers.

    Oh and have people reported problems doing surveys on the iPad some of mine don’t completed on the last page?

    Peter.

  24. @AW
    It would be more accurate to describe today’s sample as a bit anti-Toryish, given that Labour’s VI continues to be ultra stable in the range 38%-39% and there are a few more Greens than is usual.

    I tend to treat the movement in the various trackers as a possible pointer to the make up of the VI sample, in that sample variation is a plausible explanation for a simultaneous change over a wide range of questions.

    With a repeat set of the same questions within days that’s so in spades. But the downside is that it means that your lovely graphs above are already out of date.

  25. carfrew

    Over at PB, they were contrasting the approval ratings of leaders versus parties, using the recent Survation poll data.

    Cameron, at minus 15, leads Miliband on minus 22 by 7 points.

    But Labour, on minus 11 lead the Tories on minus 25 by 14 points.

    Thus the difference in party approval is double that for leader approval.

    There’s a school of thought that says leader approval is particularly important in elections. But is it powerful enough to trump such a deficit in party approval

    I think you have to careful with this, not least because different pollsters tend to ask subtly different leaders questions and so get diverse results (perhaps something for Anthony to look at when he’s feeling meditative).

    One way to get round this is to ask a joint question. YouGov used to have a tracker If you had to choose, which would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative government led by David Cameron or a Labour government led by Ed Miliband? (see page 13 of the Leaders trackers) which for some reason stopped being asked when Labour/Miliband started coming out ahead last year (though by a smaller margin than they had in VI).

    They recently asked a very similar question, for the Times rather than the Sun, over two days with a good sample:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/owvnao69w8/YouGov-Times-results-Forced-Choice-130802.pdf

    This showed the two Parties tied on 41% (there were still 18% DKs) in contrast to a 6 point Labour lead in VI on both days. Most of the difference is due to Lib Dem (by 45-38) and UKIP (by 59-20) voters choosing Conservatives and Cameron, but there’s no guarantee that they would actually vote that way rather than sticking with their own Party. So either the leaders are already “priced-in” to VI or at most it’s only worth a maximum 3 point swing.

    Now it may be that leaders are more important when it comes to an election campaign, (1992 would be the case everyone gives), but that could be a two-edged sword for the Tories and their supporters in the media. Miliband gets and always has had such dreadful treatment that even a half-competent performance might make him look good when he gets the greater coverage, while Cameron lost ground in the last campaign.

  26. AW, a technical question about YouGov –

    Since we had that odd 4% for the BNP based on that one old woman in Wales, how far out could an individual throw a poll if they were being deceptive?

    Say someone was posing as a 55 year old Southeastern Daily Telegraph reader who said they were voting Labour, or a DE labourer from Glasgow voting Tory?

  27. Who on earth are those oddballs who are voting Tory but want a Labour government?

  28. Cameron lost ground in the last campaign.
    ———–
    I think David Cameron has had a little more practise in public speaking since then though.

  29. Who on earth are those oddballs who are voting Tory but want a Labour government?
    —————-
    Sarah Woollaston’s constituents?

  30. MrNameless,

    Could be Labour supporters in a Libdem seat that hate the LibDem’s for the coalition.

    Peter.

  31. I suppose, but then wouldn’t they vote Labour?

  32. But that might let the Tories in who they hate more!

  33. In today’s sports news.

    The sixth World Dwarf Games is taking place in the US state of Michigan.

    With nearly 400 athletes from 17 nations competing, it’s the largest sporting event in history exclusively for athletes with dwarfism.

    The primary purpose of the games is about sporting competition on a level playing field.
    As one of the competitors said

    “it’s great to speak with others at the same eye level. People whom you can naturally pat on the back in sympathy or throw your arms around in celebration. Not having to explain anything, nor have strangers gawp at you, is like having a week off from real life.”

    A good news story and it makes a change from the overpaid Prima Donna shenanigans in the Premier League.

  34. @AW

    “I suspect the difference is because one was a bit of a Toryish sample, while today’s is a bit of a Labourish sample – as ever, it’s the longer term trend that counts not the single poll”

    Looks a lot like it.

    The M&W break is Con 24, Lab 51%, and at 21% of the national vote (31%, 39% respectively), that amounts to 5% and 11% respectively from M&W. The 24/51 is an outlier (get away!), and if the M&W break was more normalised at 35/41 the break would amount to 7.5 / 8.5.

    Which would amount to a national poll of Con 33.5 and Lab 36.5%, so on the surface of that data, it looks as if the M&W break is throwing the poll off the norm.

    Having said all that. The whole poll is ‘off key’ if compared to a running average.

  35. Nah…reading my last post…it just doesn’t make any sense at all. LoL!

    Rounding to 0.5%

    Con gets 24% of 21% of the national vote. However, that’s not 21% of 31%, but 24% of 21%, which is 5.04 (5%).

    Lab’s 51% of 21% is 10.71 (11%) of the national vote.

    The ten poll average prior to this has been Con 37% Lab 40%. This works out as 7.77 (8%) and 8.4 (8.5%) respectively.

    So add 3% to Con and subtract 2.5% from Lab, so the normalised poll would be:

    Con 34% Lab 36/37%

    Hmm. It seems right, but yet it doesn’t seem right.

  36. If there had been a GE last Thursday, we would now be putting the polling companies under a bit of scrutiny.

    YouGov/Populus/ComRes/Opinium/TNS BRM/IpsosMori/ICM/Survation…

    Con: 33/34/34/28/28/29/36/28%
    Lab: 38/39/37/39/38/40/36/36%
    LD: 10/11/10/8/9/10/13/9%
    UKIP: 14/8/12/16/16/12/7/20%

    Lab lead: 5/5/3/11/10/11/0/8%

    Variation: Con 8%, Lab 4%, LD 5%, UKIP 13%; Lab lead 11%

    Where is Angus Reid when you need him?

  37. Statgeek
    That of course if you ignore the Conservative lead in the 18-24’s which doesn’t seem right either

  38. Did the Sun have a headline today of ‘ Labour lead doubles in 48 hours!’

  39. “Did the Sun have a headline today of ‘ Labour lead doubles in 48 hours!’

    AC will do that later: he places great faith in the daily boys.

  40. ROGER MEXICO

    -Callaghan was more popular than Thatcher in 1979

    Major was more popular than the Conservative Party in both 1992 and 1997.

    Brown was less popular than the Labour party on 2010

    The Cult of Personality which the Media likes to engage in falls a bit flat at GE’s

    After all and God Knows why quite a lot of people like Farage and yet I doubt anyone is expecting him to be the Next PM.

  41. I thought the polls were closing but Anthony`s projection shows Labour majority increasing.Is it the Populus outlier which is responsible for this?

  42. “Miliband gets and always has had such dreadful treatment that even a half-competent performance might make him look good…”

    I seem to remember an article in Autumn 2010 where someone made the point that leaders (in a really high profile positions) have around 100 days to establish their personae… either that or it becomes defined for them by others. I don’t know if that is entirely true, but it probably is true that it is increasingly difficult to shift perceptions once they have beome entrenched .

    He will certainly face an all-out attack on his suitability for the role of PM during the election campaign… does he have some masterful slow-burn strategy for winning the confidence of the electorate?

    Cameron and Clegg, for all their faults, have managed (up to now at least) to do the job of PM and deputy PM. At one point I was thinking the Coalition might end in massive recriminations over trustworthiness, motives, or competence… but it is just as likely that they will try to safeguard their collective reputation in the hope of a repeat performance.

    It’s less clear how the media campaign will pan out. Attacks on the LDs got started rather late in 2010 (after Cleggmania had reared its head). Before that LDs were largely ignored. It was said that News International hadn’t sent a single journalist to cover the LD conference.

    There is a danger that Labour will get less coverage in 2015, with much of it being very negative and/or dismissive.

  43. Smukesh – I last updated the average towards the end of July, and I don’t think there has really been much narrowing *since* then – I think we’re settling down into summer stagnation (though last time I said that there were riots ;) )

    It’s up a bit just because of the calculations – it’s the time decay and the downweighting of multiple polls from the same company. So we know the YouGov average is about 6 points, but because subsequent polls from the same company are heavily downweighted the YouGov contribution to the calculation is mostly the 7 and 8 pointers, with the 4 pointer heavily downweighted. The Populus 11 lead is still a factor, but the ICM poll showing them neck-and-neck has now dropped off the average.

  44. I dont see the problem with the under 24 vote occassionally drifting towards the Cons, the modern generation doesn’t perhaps view it’s self as naturally left or right as days gone by. The youngsters that come onto the farm for work experiance, seem to be much more interested in getting a full time job and making money than any great concerns of political ideology.

    The over riding impression I get from them is an almost complete disinterest in politics of all kinds and rather suprising a lack of tolerance/knowledge on a range of issues that bother these pages.
    I find that more suprising than a lack of interest in politics to be honest, because it challenges my preconceived ideas as schools being the bastion of liberal thinking.

    On the up side there are certainly a lot of bright interesting students keen to get on in life although sometimes I wish they had more practical, skills, but that’s from my point of view as a farmer I appriciate in other walks of life those skills are not so important.

    I can’t say how the wide spread of university students view politic’s as my boys and girls, mainly girls of late, come from local farming college ,but there doesn’t seem to be the same cause celebre of days gone by, being generated by this coalition to get students excited. But many of you have more contact with university students than I do and may have a different view.

  45. @Steve,

    Not sure what the point of that last post was.

    If Major was more popular than his party in 1992 and his party squeezed a victory, doesn’t that suggest the “cult of personality” may have singlehandedly kept him in power?

    And how do we know that Labour’s performance in 1997 and the Tories’ in 1979 wouldn’t have been even better if their leaders had been more popular?

    And… Brown was less popular than his party in 2010… well yes, whatever. They were both very unpopular and Labour lost heavily.

    If all your saying is “the most popular leader doesn’t always win the election” then of course that’s true. But I think the question is “does the popularity of the leader affect their chances at the election” and the answer is “we don’t know for sure but probably”.

  46. The answer is we don’t know and there is no evidence that the leader makes any difference to the vote in a GE

  47. I was looking at AW’s excellent target seats list (I think I used it or something similar on the night in 2010 and it made things a lot easier to understand than what they were saying on the Telly as to how the results were going).

    What interests me most is what we have all pretty much agreed that Lab has taken about 1/3rd of the Lib Dem vote and there must be firm reasons for believing that these will not go back to Lib Dems in seats they do not have a chance. There might still be a query over turnout and enthusiasm to vote but to my mind this seems pretty solid.

    Based on this in the marginals it feels like looking at the top 20 Tory targets against Labour that they have very little chance of winning these. Most of these constituencies had a sizeable Lib Dem vote of 15%-18% so top up the Lab vote with another 5% share of the vote and whatever else goes on around this it seems a big task for Tories to win any of these.

    Equally you have to go to about 50 on the Lab target list before you come up with any examples where if the Lib Dem vote (again often around 15% to 18%) goes 1/3rd to Labour that Labour does not take the seat.

    Obviously there are other factors that come into play (incumbency, changes in polling over the next 18 months, the possibility that the Tories can get some of the other 2/3 of Lib Dem support) but this is a very strong starting point for Labour where if they do claim the Lib Dem votes they currently have then they are very close to a majority even if they end up with just 35% vote share.

  48. Steve –

    Here are the British Election Study analyses of drivers of voting intention for the 2010, 2005 and 2001 elections which all found opinions of the party leaders to be major drivers of voting intention:

    http://bes.utdallas.edu/2009/papers/electoralchoice2010.pdf
    http://www.essex.ac.uk/bes/2005/Team%20Publications/jepoprev2.pdf
    http://www.essex.ac.uk/bes/bookfiles/Sanders-ch04.pdf

    Naturally, it is not the ONLY factor – there are other factors that are just as important such as party identification, most competent party on the economy or perceived important issues, etc, hence a popular leader could lose if outweighed by other factors, an unpopular leader could triumph if other things worked in their factor. Models of voting behaviour change over time to – the valance model used by the British Election Study team here seems to be the most en vogue, and certainly best models the data from recent elections, but in previous generations political scientists would have been more sceptical about the importance of leaders (which may reflect evolving academic understanding… or a changing electorate, or both!).

  49. AW

    “(though last time I said that there were riots ;) )”

    So it WAS your fault.

  50. @Roger

    Sure, polling questions may vary across polling companies, in which case we might debate which is the best way to ask about approval, much as we might debate the best way to ask many other polling questions.

    But assuming we can come up with a question to fairly gauge approval at all – without which most discussions of party or leader approval are somewhat moot – then the issue remains: to what degree might leader approval trump party approval in practice? What’s it worth in VI terms?

    And is the difference between party and leader approval of any use as a factor in gauging VI? I’d quite like to see a comparison of the leader/party approval difference with VI over time.

    Btw, I’m not really seeing how the combined question thing would assist in determining the separate leader and party approval ratings and hence determining how much import each has, which is what I was of course interested in with my post.

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