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. Just checked the figures.

    100 years ago it was 41m a hundred years before that it was only 13m it is currently 62m. Some forecasts for 2050 put it below 60m.


  2. My understanding is that the percentage of the population of the UK that is Muslim is less than 5% at last count.

    So it might take a while before Sine Nomine’s Mail-fuelled nightmares become reality.

  3. @Amber

    So what’s your point?

    I exist therefore I am. If you mean, “What is the point I am trying to make”, then the point I am trying to make is that ‘just getting the government to pay for it’ is just getting the taxpayer to pay for other peoples’ life decisions.

    As per Colin’s post, the thrust of my posts were more about how SMEs would struggle to operate if they lose 33%, 25% or 20% of their workforce.

    Would they get as good a candidate for maternity cover, as they would for a permanent position?

    So in short, SMEs will make their decisions based on what’s goo for their profit margin, their overall workforce, and their long-term ambitions. Similarly, they might not want to employ people too near to retiral. It’s maybe not fair, but it’s how many businesses plan for long-term continuity (and SMEs rely on continuity far more than large orgs, as they can’t adapt (financially and operationally) to massive changes as readily.

  4. @ Peter Cairns

    Failing other changes a population of 100m is likely to be uncontrollable if this is the stage that you start to consider we need to do something. The word exponential comes to mind. If you reach a point where water becomes a problem as it is starting to do in some of the drier areas of the world, combined with energy shortages then things become nasty.

    A lot of the arguments I have heard for not worrying about population growth seem to be based around the need for younger people to produce stuff and to look after an ageing population. Eventually we will have to admit we are full up whether in 10 years, 100 years or 1,000 years. Making a transition then will be far more serious than it would if we started now. More older people needing more care.

    I’m happy to start from a position of no further population growth which I think is achievable with semi closed borders and no forced measures simply by encouragement (financial if necessary) and education/indoctrination.

  5. @ Peter Cairns

    “Some forecasts for 2050 put it below 60m”

    Not according to the ONS which has 70m by 2027- unless they are expecting a war after that point!

  6. If we really want to decrease the population, it will mean making some quite large societal changes which will certainly offend those with traditionalist beliefs.

    This includes, but isn’t limited to:

    – Massive rollout of free, easy to access contraceptives, not just to students as currently but more widely, through employers, etc.

    – Large extension of access to abortion, including lengthening the time limit.

    – Encouragement of smaller family sizes in sex education classes, GP surgeries, etc.

    – Agreements with countries with shrinking populations whereby the government gives a one-off cash grant to everyone who emigrates to one of those countries – rising per person in the family.

    – Voluntary euthanasia with VERY heavy restrictions, to allow those who are chronically or terminally ill and suffering to end their lives (and strain on health services).

    – Starting a war with China.*

    *May not be serious.

    Any government which tried to implement these policies would make a permanent enemy of the religious establishment, although as the number of religious people declines that may not be such a problem.

  7. @Paul Croft (PC might confuse with Peter Cairns)

    “No: you’ve come to the shouting and arguing forum. Polling is on yer left.”

    How partisan. It might be on your right, depending on your political compass results.


  8. UK @ 100m=+ 37m.

    = ( London+ Manchester + Birmingham +Liverpool + Leeds + Glasgow & Edinburgh) X 3

    =( South East + West. Mids + Wales + Scotland ) X 2

  9. @Peter Cairns

    “I am a Catholic married to a Catholic and it’s been a long hard slog!”

    I’m an atheist not married to an agnostic. She’s not sure our relationships going anywhere, and I refuse to believe that.

  10. @Statgeek,


  11. I have a radical idea, I know of a nice sunny area with lots of empty apartment buildings and huge numbers of unemployed people, why don’t we buy the apartment buildings cheap and convert them into nursing homes/ retirement homes and send most of our old folks there, it would free up housing stock and reduce the need for immigration

  12. Statgeek,

    I should have written;

    ” I am a Catholic married to a Catholic and we both feel guilty about it”.


  13. @Peter,

    I think you’re going to have to explain to me why I need to explain what the difference between Emigration and Immigration is (ethically I mean). For me, emigration is between the emigre and the new host country. So emigration to the UK is between the immigrant and us, emigration from the UK is between the immigrant and somewhere else (ie not us).

    Of course there is an argument for forced “emigration” of asylum seekers to safe third countries (a la Australia) but it’s not a case I’m making.

    As for a 1:1 birthrate (I am probably not using the correct nomenclature – but what I mean is each adult produces one child) is less than replacement, as some of those children will never grow up or will grow up to be childless. I expect a 1:1 birthrate accompanied by a small amount of immigration (for asylum seekers et al) plus a gradual increase in longevity would mean an overall tiny decline in population each year. (If it doesn’t then I am advocating whatever birthrate does achieve that).I am perfectly happy that the decline in UK population be a slow one. 30m in 2200 is fine by me. Just so long as this endless assumption that we must always build hundreds of thousands of new homes, and hundreds of new roads, on green land every year is broken.

  14. Will there be a poll on “Bongo bongo land” being seen as rascist .I have to say personally i find it horrendous to think that politicians can come out with such disgusting remarks ,and then be able to fob it off as some sort of mish mash garbage speak.
    Would it be seen as more rascist coming from say the BNP or EDL.
    I would say it is very rascist and the guy should be sacked for being rascist,would it be acceptable if he said gollywog land,i think not.I am not some sort of bleeding heart ,liberal ,love everyone type of person either.

  15. I actually wrote a post earlier about the thread. I think I have the wrong end of the stick about this blog.

    So, about my holiday, Dordogne, just back from first visit. Very beautiful, only spoilt by too many English residents. Very sad it was to see the abandoned crumbling honey-stoned farmhouses with their defiant line of hollyhocks at the gate awaiting conversion to Dutch holiday homes (I was staying with my daughter’s family in one such, just up the road).

    And you lot are worried about ‘swamping, fecund immigrants’.

    What about our swamping invasion of lovely France!.

    Anyway, about those FGF questions in this thread. Do they really break down in VI partisanship?

  16. @RiN,

    Actually experiments with converting high rise accommodation for elderly communities have shown benefits. With good security, and proper 24 hour concierge facilities (and extremely prompt attention to any issues with the lifts) high rise is actually excellent for old folks. Other than those who like gardening I suppose.

  17. @sine

    I have read a few of your posts,you seem a bit irrational at times.To say having Muslim communities next to yours scares you, makes you worry.How do these people feel living next to the likes of you accusing them of being dodgey people and ready to blow you up and what not.I think deep down you have the hatred of other cultures buried in your soul.These people 99% of whom just want to get on raise their kids and live a happy life,but sadly like most things the tiniest of minorities dictates how people feel towards another group.Same with the tiny minority of scroungers dictates the policies of the coalition towards social security.Sad way to live a life pointing your finger and accusing instead of integrating.Makes me ashamed to be English at times and i say English because it is a very English thing.Politics of hate doesn’t help anyone ask Hitler.

  18. Neil A and R in N

    Mrs H reckons the elderly would be safer (and better looked after) in prison and turf out the delinquents to the outer world where they could no longer pester and rob the elderly.

    The gated community is just an extension of this concept.

  19. Shaun
    Godwin alert.

  20. I always lose my arguements to the right.was ment as a little tinshy jest.Damn you Godwin.

  21. @Howard

    “The law and its corollaries would not apply to discussions covering known mainstays of Nazi Germany such as genocide, eugenics, or racial superiority, nor, more debatably, to a discussion of other totalitarian regimes or ideologies, if that was the explicit topic of conversation, since a Nazi comparison in those circumstances may be appropriate, in effect committing the fallacist’s fallacy.”


  22. Hmm, I expect if you were to ask Hitler (via some time travel, or through necromancy of some kind) whether the politics of hate helps anyone, he might refer you to his meteroric rise from a socially backward nobody to the ruler of Germany (and, almost, Europe) by the simple expedient of being nasty to a group of people that rather a lot of his countrymen already hated.

    He’d probably have some views about fighting land wars in Asia, the efficacy of bombing cities rather than military targets and the wisdom of declaring war on industrial behemoths, though.

  23. @Howard,

    If you’re ever in South Florida, check out the condo towers on the beach in Fort Lauderdale (and everywhere on the coast for 30 miles in both directions). You’ll find some very contented wrinklies who are more than happy with their “prisons”.

  24. Spain is going to start knocking down unused homes in a bid to drive up prices, sounds crazy? Maybe a little. I can’t understand why the the northern European countries aren’t buying up those empty apartment buildings, except that it’s not within the rules of the free market enterprise dogma

  25. Neil A
    I won’t mention the Zimmerman incident, whoops I have. I was to add that the jury was still out but of course they are since ‘in’. If I thought I had to live in such circumstances, then I would apply for the early voluntary termination, recommended for consideration by some correspondents here.

    IIRC the Thatchers bought a place in one of these (in Dulwich, again IIRC).

    Rin N

    You’ve not seen these Spanish developments I assume. Demolition is doing the visual and social environment there a huge favour, especially for the demo chaps (it’s an ill wind, etc).

  26. Statgeek

    I knew about that one but i don’t accept its premise. You don’t start talking about these things, it just gradually sinks into them after supposedly intellectually-grounded consideration of statistics and demographics. Sooner or later you will end up at the same place is the fundamental proposition, even if you just praise halal lamb (which I do, as does R in N). When i lived in the far north of Holland (well, at least 30 kms north of Amsterdam!) it was the only way to eat sheep, as otherwise it was pork, pork, pork.

  27. Eid is tomorrow :)

  28. Niel A
    ” by the simple expedient of being nasty to a group of people that rather a lot of his countrymen already hated”

    Yes your right! so there is a comparison,Muslims ,scroungers,malingerers and johny foreigner.All hated by the Little Englander.Wish i had chose Stalin now.

  29. Celtic through to the next round of the Champions league, a 0-0 draw plying on a carpet in Sweden. Still 1-0 on aggregate will do for me.

    How’s about we put unwanted Spanish houses on trucks and bring them over here. To deal with our housing crisis… Simples!

    Now that’s what a single market is all about?


  30. Whilst I have all sorts of opinions about methods of slaughter, I find it hard to believe that meat from lambs that have bled to death whilst conscious tastes significantly different to meat from lambs which got a bolt to the head.

  31. @”.Sad way to live a life pointing your finger and accusing instead of integrating”

    Indeed-but you have to want to integrate with culture you have decided to live in , if you really want to be part of it.

    That goes for immigrants everywhere doesn’t it? Asians & Africans etc etc in UK ; The English in Spain ; The Dutch in the Dordogne.( apparently)

    What do they want?- to really be part of their chosen country of residence-or to live in a culturally isolated gated community in an attractive foreign land ?

  32. It’s not the difference in taste which would occur to me if presented with halal meat-it’s the difference in suffering.

    But I always understood that the degree of stress in death does affect the meat-so who knows.

    I don’t, and have no inclination to find out.

  33. Halal/kosher slaughter does not cause more suffering. And it’s not just method that makes halal/kosher meat heathier. It’s also what is binned, rather than offered up to the consumer as food.

    p.s. My wife is a veggie – I don’t think she distinguishes between methods of killing animals for meat.

    Anyway, each to their own.

  34. We eschewed foie gras in the Dordogne, I am sure you will be proud of me to know. Also, I never asked whether my lamb meat was halal as, at the time I was too ignorant to know what that meant anyway. It was just that the Islamic butcher was the only bloke in Alkmaar who sold lamb. Otherwise it was a choice of cluck or oink.

  35. @ Neil A

    I have no idea whether halal meat tastes different, but if it does, the reason could be a difference in the age of the animal when it was slaughtered. I’ve just tried and failed to find out whether halal lamb is always more mature, for instance.(All I could discover is that the slaughterer has to be at least 13!) It also has to be drained of blood, which may affect taste.

  36. RAF

    @”Halal/kosher slaughter does not cause more suffering. ”

    I don’t believe it.

    UK Farm Animal Welfare Council & Compassion in World Farming don’t think so either.

    There are videos galore online of animals being slaughtered , in dreadful conditions, and in full view of the dead & dying who went before them.

    You will need to provide a lot of evidence to convince me.

  37. @ Colin & RAF

    “There are videos galore online of animals being slaughtered , in dreadful conditions, and in full view of the dead & dying who went before them.”

    That doesn’t sound that much different from what occurs with factory farming though (and indeed some elements of farming generally).

    Not speaking in defence of halal meat killing practices mind; I find the mass slaughter of animals to be rather disgusting all round.

  38. I find the slaughter of animals for human use appalling, regardless of the method used.

    This discussion reminds me of the oddities of talking about warfare and battles, where some argue that certain methods of killing are abhorrent or ‘just not cricket’.

    All method of killing are terrible.

  39. Howard,

    Where were you? I spent three weeks in Saint Antoinne Cummond just beside Aubeterre. Thank god we had a pool in was 35+ every day.



    “Celtic through to the next round of the Champions league, a 0-0 draw plying on a carpet in Sweden. Still 1-0 on aggregate will do for me”


  41. I had some mates that worked at a normal slaughter house, some of the stories they told were really gruesome, in theory it should be humane but in practice…….. btw I know from experience that slitting a lambs throat is a quick and relatively painless death, I wouldn’t eat meat if I wasn’t prepared to do the killing myself

  42. Just popped in to get a few insights into, ‘ Attitudes to the cuts ‘ expected Coalition, got, abattoir techniques, wrong sort of cuts I suppose, mistake easily made. :-)

  43. Folk need to be aware that in the 80s many animal eights groups were infiltrated by national front type people who had an agenda of using the halal slaughter process to whip up hatred against muslims

  44. R in N is correct -better not to think of any slaughter method if it gives you the heebie jeebies. I am ‘from the soil’ and don’t have those problems.

    Peter Cairns
    Yeah we had a pool. I wonder what the peasant farmers of the 50s would think, probably chuckling at the easy sale they made to the incomers when their own business was failing. Actually the truth is they just died and the children had left for the cities or abroad. The executors flogged them off as french law demands that inheritance is divided among the children equally.

    I was mostly near and in Cadouin and ended up at the Esplanade hotel on the top of Domme (and this is me who has vertigo!!). The things I do for my marriage.

    I ate duck the whole time. Quacking fayre in that area. Oh the wine is so good, pity it doesn’t travel.

    France is still heaven on earth, even at 36 degrees.

  45. @RiN – never heard that one before, and to be honest, it sounds highly dubious.

    Oddly enough, I eat meat, and I don’t particularly like killing the animal. I crap in my toilet, but I don’t clean out the sewers either. I’ve always found the slightly morally superior argument about only eating meat if you are prepared to kill it yourself a bit odd, as the principle never seems to be applied to everything else in life we do.

    As a green, I have no moral objection to eating meat per se. It’s about quantity and ecology as far as my personal morality goes. Too much meat eating is bad for health reasons and for the environment.

    In certain cases, meat is the most appropriate ecological option. Pigs and chickens are excellent at processing waste (including appropriately treated human excrement) into protein, and there are many areas of land that cannot produce crops, with wild and semi wild animal crops the most appropriate environmental option.

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

  46. Aggressive nationalism always features some kind of very narrow definition of “culture”… one which only ever existed in the imagination of a small group of fantasists.

    Was having a conversation with an 89-year-old yesterday. She left her “home” in 1946 and married an Englishman. He’s dead now, and because she still has her Swiss accent, people are all of a sudden treating her like a foreigner again.

    Inclusivity makes much more sense. Integrate? Integrate into what exactly?

  47. Alec,

    I find your position interesting because I’m a vegetarian but almost purely for health and environmental reasons and I suspect that people who care about animal welfare could make a more effective stand elsewhere.

    I think it was David Mitchell who put it best when he said there are some species who owe their existence to us eating meat. Some of them are useful for other products, but imagine a vegetarian world –

    “Where are the pigs mummy?”
    “In the zoo, now eat your nut roast”

    I can see the rationale for people not eating meat for ethical reasons, but also I know that it’s a cultural tradition and I’m not likely to change that, so I don’t try.

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

    I am sure I could slaughter an animal without much compunction, but I take Alec’s point about double standards (however I can and have cleaned out toilets and done pretty much every miserable task God can ask of Man – I once had to “package” a mildly decomposed stillborn infant on the floor of a hospital chapel once).

    I understand the argument that if we were all vegetarian, the planet could feed more people. I say to Hell with that. Let’s distribute free condoms and still eat bacon in the morning…..

  49. @Neil A – as a former caterer, I can tell you that meat actually tastes very boring. Without seasoning, meat can be really, really dull to taste. In a simple nothing added and nothing taken away taste test, fruit and vegetables would trump meat any day. But I too really like the taste of ‘meat’.

  50. @ RIN

    Your comment about National Front infiltrating animal rights groups is believing the propaganda far too easily.

    My judgment would be that the hardcore among the animal rights movement were focussed on animal rights as being more important than anything else (which people could criticise) the majority would be ‘lefty’ types and quite a few blue rinse (known as “granny sabs”) – very respectable middle class and just as likely to be Tory voters as Labour.

    I was quite active in the movement and NEVER saw anyone who could be described as far right. I think the National Front made a vague attempt to latch onto this but were never active in the movement and would never have been accepted.

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