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. RiN – pretty sure those are the figures from last time…

  2. @paulcroft

    I agree with you, as always.

    However, with the monumental character-assassination campaign, run by the largely right-wing media, against Ed M (which he deserves, to some extent, for standing against his own brother) I could see Labour struggling to get above 35%.

    It may be that such a score is enough for a Lab OM but it will, of course, depend on how many votes UKIP take off the Tories.

    Personally, I am betting on the Lib Dems being wiped out :- they’ll get about 10% and under twenty seats. They are a small tribe and I think that it will be impossible for them to differentiate themselves sufficiently from their coalition partners – and appeal beyond that station.

    At the moment, of the three options, NOM is just favourite ahead of Lab maj and Tory maj is still the outsider.

  3. I thought it was David that stood against ed? Or do elder brothers have first dibs like it used to be with the monarchy

  4. Isn’t it the case though that IF this poll is an outlier and that the 4% gap is smaller than it really is then the opinions of the people polled will also be an outlier and will tend to favour the government more than say a poll showing a 6 or 7% gap?

  5. Sorry Neil, I thought it was a wild prediction

  6. @Norbold – maybe, but the trend is still there. A tie for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ wasn’t even within MoE last year.

  7. @Iananthonyjames

    “Personally, I am betting on the Lib Dems being wiped out :- they’ll get about 10% and under twenty seats. They are a small tribe and I think that it will be impossible for them to differentiate themselves sufficiently from their coalition partners”

    *Personally* I think that is an absurd projection. Taking even current polling, two years out, the worst case scenario on current voting patterns is about 25 seats, excluding any incumbency effect, which Ashcroft’s polling has already shown is substantial for the Lib Dems. So let’s say a base level of around 35 seats. Actual voting patterns in the local elections according to Rallings and Thrasher took that up to 50.

    Plus there’s the fact that the Lib Dems have taken the biggest hit from mid term discontent, an effect that now seems to be unwinding as the economy improves.

    As for differentiation from Labour and Tories, it will be very, very easy. Economically competent and caring. There. Done it. Simple.

  8. If you’re suggesting that the LibDems will run on a “caring” platform I honestly think they’d struggle. LibDem MPs have voted for every regressive policy opposed by the majority of their former voters. Indeed when you look at voting records LibDem MPs have been more loyal to Tory policies than Tory MPs.

    If the LibDems replaced Clegg and could make a break with the coalition then anything is possible – sheer preservation surely will drive them to ditch him.

  9. @RC
    ‘So let’s say a base level of around 35 seats. ‘

    A very optimistic base level indeed!

  10. Clegg went from +53 to -53 in personal ratings on the YouGov tracker within a year of becoming deputy PM… he’s been a tad lower at times, but he is still there or thereabouts.

  11. It seems that my (previously controversial) claim that Labour need to start setting out more of their policy agenda is becoming increasingly the “common-sense” viewpoint on here.

    Miliband made the right decision in 2010-2012: focus on party unity, winning sub-Westminister elections to rebuild the party at the local and regional levels after 13 years of protest voting against them, and most importantly work out the basics of a coherent, distinctive and popular policy platform for 2015.

    This is the stage where he has to be willing to sacrifice party unity a little in order to move beyond being the Leader of the Opposition and become Prime Minister in Waiting.

  12. I think that, in stark contrast to previous elections, the LDs will do better (in terms of seats gained/lost) than their vote % suggests. I would be amazed if they win a seat, but I think that tactical voting and incumbency will mean that they lose fewer seats than expected.

    My estimate is that their vote will fall by a little over a third and their seats will fall by less than a third to about 38 seats.

  13. neil a

    “Ahem. Make that C37, L30, LD24.”

    Too late I memorised the first lot.

    I’M SIXTY-EIGHT YOU KNOW.

  14. jamie

    “Presidents are broken most elections”

    As are, sometimes, precedents.

  15. OK – RC – we’ll see.

    The Lib Dems have been at the disastrous level of around 10%, for the best part of two and a half years.

    While I concede the “less than 20 seats” meltdown is an outside bet, I am attracted by it.

    It is always very hard for the LDs to carve out any room for themselves. In 2015, it will be even harder.

    I wouldn’t have thought that was controversial.

  16. @PC

    I can’t predict GE 2015, and nor can you (and nor can anyone). At best it spoils the fun of polling, and at worst it’s partisan.

  17. If I were to predict the outcome of the next GE at this point, I’d say the Tories to marginally get the most votes but Labour to win the most seats but be short of an OM.

    But then again there’s a very good reason why I don’t bet.

  18. IAJ

    “I wouldn’t have thought that was controversial.”

    Everything is here.

  19. I mean fewer than 20 seats not less. Bad marks for English usage. Top marks for Lib Dem-meltdown punditry!

  20. stattso

    “@PC

    I can’t predict GE 2015, and nor can you (and nor can anyone). At best it spoils the fun of polling, and at worst it’s partisan.”

    Well actually everybody can – and does. They even gamble on it. Why it would spoil the “fun” [lol] I don’t know; seems fairly innocent to me.

    As for it being partisan – how so? I could bet that Chelsea will win the prem and Barcelona the Champs Lge – and I am an Arsenal supporter.

    I think you are conflating different issues.

  21. I’m excited by Chris Leslie’s promise of goodies. At least it’ll be something to get our teeth into once silly season is over.

  22. colin

    Not up with the news on Mrs Colin but I trust all is well for her – and you both.

  23. @Paul,

    “As for it being partisan – how so? I could bet that Chelsea will win the prem and Barcelona the Champs Lge – and I am an Arsenal supporter.”

    I bet that Spurs keep Bale and go on to win the Premier League, and that Arsenal will get relegated. How’s that for partisanship?

  24. Ambi

    I don’t think the Arse have EVER been relegated.

  25. Looking at all the fancy graphs and analysing them then it looks rather positive for the government and its austerity measures.

    It also might explain…. CON 34%, LAB 38%

    The gap appears to be shrinking with the economy growing.

  26. ambi

    Actually RM get away with murder: apparently they bandy all these fihures about but then want to pay with ten quid deposit and the rest in pesetas.

    Cheek.

    Still I hope they get him nut think it more likely we will get Luis [as I now know him]

  27. General elections always have their fair share of upsets. Seats lost that should have been held, holds where a loss was expected.

    Lab are likely to pick up a number of LD/Lab marginals. For there to be an meltdown then a lot of LD/Con marginals would have to fall. It’s possible there’ll be monumental muddles like Eastleigh, where UKIP put up a Con-type candidate and Con put up a UKIP-type candidate… but I’m not convinced that Con/UKIP won’t have sorted out their differences by then.

  28. @PaulCroft,

    “I don’t think the Arse have EVER been relegated.”

    I’ll refer you back to the earlier discussions on historical precedents.

    More seriously, it’s a pretty amazing record to have only been relegated once…and that was all the way back in 1913. Don’t be impressed with that snippet of information….I googled it.

  29. @Paul Croft,

    “Actually RM get away with murder: apparently they bandy all these fihures about but then want to pay with ten quid deposit and the rest in pesetas.

    Cheek.

    Still I hope they get him nut think it more likely we will get Luis [as I now know him]”

    lol. I get the feeling a deal is imminent. If Spurs get £90 million plus for him, I suppose they can’t grumble. Will be sad to see such an exciting and professional player leave though.

  30. Interesting figures, Anthony. They seem to demonstrate that Labour have played a not-so-great hand very poorly. It’s not entirely clear what they should have done instead, but the current appeasement strategy appears to be “hurting not working”. The decline in the “bad for the economy” figures in particular seem to track their acceptance of the spending envelope- maybe Ed Balls should have stuck to his guns.

    (Alternatively they just track the recovery, and Labour would have been in this position no matter what they said.)

  31. Also not sure how impressed I am by “Don’t worry, we’ve taken a monastic vow of silence all summer but we’ll pull a rabbit out of a hat at Conference!” Not that they don’t need to pull a rabbit out of a hat at Conference, but it might be better coming on top of a baseline of, you know, actual opposition, instead of this deafening silence.

    If they’ve decided to go on holiday for three months I think we should dock their Short money.

  32. IANANTHONYJAMES,

    “with the monumental character-assassination campaign, run by the largely right-wing media, against Ed M ”

    Sauce for the goose, Ed Miliband gets off light compared to what SLAB and the Scottish press dish out to Alex Salmond on a daily basis.

    Peter.

  33. “Arsenal holds the record for the longest uninterrupted period in the English top flight and would be placed first in an aggregated league of the entire 20th century”

    That’s my boys.

    [The girls are jolly good too]

  34. The Tories will run a don’t let Labour in the back door campaign and Labour will run a don’t let the Tories in the back door again campaign. Lib dems will be toast, they will lose all the lib/lab marginals and all of the con/lib marginals. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if blairites weren’t talking with senior Tories planning how to destroy this third party nuisance for ever. It really is a golden opportunity for both the main parties and it would fit right into the blairites and conservative vision of British politics being like US politics, a one party state in all but name

  35. “Arsenal only finished in fifth place in 1919, but were nevertheless elected to rejoin the First Division at the expense of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, by reportedly dubious means.”

    It gets better Ambi !

    So big centenary in 2019.

    100 years in the top flight and cheating Spurs out of their rightful place.

  36. RIN,

    That would be incredibly bad for political discourse, which is why I share your prediction that that’s what will happen. I think there is a place for the Liberal Democrats in our political system and it would be a great shame to lose them, even if I don’t myself support them.

  37. UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom says [on video] that we should not be sending aid to bongo bongo land.

  38. Paul

    You know that partisan comments are not allowed here

    Please desist

  39. @PaulCroft,

    ““Arsenal only finished in fifth place in 1919, but were nevertheless elected to rejoin the First Division at the expense of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, by reportedly dubious means.”

    It gets better Ambi !

    So big centenary in 2019.

    100 years in the top flight and cheating Spurs out of their rightful place.”

    This confirms what the rest of us already know…that Arsenal are not just called ‘jammy Arsenal’ for no reason.

  40. As a matter of interest does anyone know if you lose your jobseekers allowance if you refuse a zero hours contract job

  41. The worst thing about football at the moment is the way the top clubs complain about approaches / alleged illegal approaches etc to their players, accusing teams of lacking class, disruption etc. You couldn’t make it up, you honestly couldn’t.

  42. @PeterCairns

    That’s quite true. I used to read the Scotsman website occasionally. Partisan? Civil war, more like.

  43. (I mean the comments)

  44. @Rich,

    I agree. Even as a Spurs fan, I don’t blame Real Madrid for the Bale situation. When will people realise that football is a business nowadays?

  45. As a Spurs fan, I think that when someone offers you several times a player’s weight in gold for him, you take it.

    @RiN,

    Not sure about JSA, but I do know that part of the government’s Universal Credit plan is to have a more coherent weekly assessment of income, via the internet, which will mean that people can earn money from occasional shifts without having to submit a new JSA application afterwards (as now).

    One of the practical benefits of the reform, if it works. Whatever you think of the IDS plans in general.

  46. Thanks neil

  47. I was listening to Natalie Bennett on Radio Derby yesterday, talking about zero-hours contracts. I thought the interviewer was very rude and clearly hadn’t done any research, since he got her name wrong and said she was an MP. Oops.

    Still, it was interesting – the person they had on to defend the practice was employed on one and liked it, but then immediately conceded that her friends were struggling on zero-hours.

    Interestingly, I’ve noticed nobody from the government coming out to defend their position – we’ve had Cable criticizing it, but they need to be careful.

    From a damage limitation point of view, it’s best for the Coalition if they just do something quick to stem the tide and take Labour’s stick away before they get beaten too much. Unfortunately, they can’t actually do a thing until parliament is back in session.

    To the public, there’s a difference between the sort of ‘tough but necessary’ policies (budget cuts) that people dislike but tolerate, and the stuff that seems gratuitously mean, like refusing to address the fact that in 21st century Britain people have to rely on food banks. If Labour can play up the aspects that are seen as cruel, they’ll have an in.

  48. Cuts? What cuts? This government is spending and borrowing more than ever.

  49. @Sandywinder,

    I agree to a large extent. The narrative from some that we are in the grips of huge and crushing austerity is almost ludicrous.

    If this growth really kicks off, it will also mean the chances of future cuts will probably recede as we grow away some of the debt too.

    Rich

  50. RIN

    “As a matter of interest does anyone know if you lose your jobseekers allowance if you refuse a zero hours contract job”
    _______

    As far as I’m aware you’re already on zero contacted hours if you’re on JSA.

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