YouGov’s weekly results for the Sunday Times are out here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%.

The poll started with an interesting question on the economy – directly addressing the queries you sometimes see on whether the GDP figures are actually reflected in ordinary’s people’s experience. 34% of people think the economy is now growing again across Britain as a whole, 41% do not. Asked about their own local area though, 22% think the economy is growing, 55% do not – people in London and the south are more likely to see the economy as growing, the north and Scotland less so. (Note more than half of the fieldwork would have been completed before the new GDP figures came out, so they won’t yet reflect that). You can look at this a pessimistic or optimistic way (or vice-versa, depending on one’s preferred outcome to the election) – one that the government isn’t benefiting from economic growth because many people aren’t feeling it in their own areas, the other that given many people don’t think the economy is growing yet, there’s plenty more potential upside for the government if/when they do.

Most of the poll deal with questions about energy prices. On the cost of living Labour have a lead, but only a tiny one – 26% trust Labour more, 24% the Conservatives. Solid majorities support all the energy price proposals made over the last few days, 72% support Miliband’s price freeze, 73% Major’s windfall tax, 64% Cameron’s reduction in green taxes. Asked to choose just ONE of them though the price freeze is the most popular, picked by 39% to the green tax reduction’s 28% and the windfall tax on 23%.

Looking more specifically at green taxes, only 15% of people support the continuation of the green levy on energy bills. 39% would rather the spending was funded directly from generation taxation, 34% would rather the money was not spent at all. In a forced choice question 52% would rather the government acted to cut bills, even if it mean less action was taken to cut CO2 emissions and protect the environment.

Looking to future energy needs the parties are exactly matched, 22% would trust the Tories more, 22% Labour more. On the principle of the new nuclear power station 49% support the deal, 30% are opposed. There are more concerns about the details – 55% think it’s unacceptable for French and Chinese companies to be involved, 49% think it is unacceptable for the government to promise to pay a minimum price for the electricity generated.

There were also a couple of questions on drug legalisation. 47% of people would support the decriminalisation (25%) or full legalisation (22%) or “soft” drugs like cannabis, 45% would prefer their sale and possession to remain a criminal offence. There is far less support for softening restrictions on harder drugs, 71% think that drugs like heroin and crack should remain illegal.

Looking at the rest of the Sunday papers, there is also a Survation poll” in the Sunday Times which has topline figures of CON 29%, LAB 35%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 17%, and a Panelbase poll in the Herald (but commissioned by Wings over Scotland) which has referendum voting intentions of YES 35%, NO 43%, Undecided 20%. This is broadly typical of Panelbase – with the exception of a single poll in Jan 2013 and the SNP commissioned poll with leading questions, they’ve been consistently showing a lead of between 8-10 points since summer 2012.


271 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 33, LAB 39, LD 9, UKIP 12”

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  1. I think it’s a stretch to imagine UKIP on 8. 10 seems more realistic.

    Speaking of UKIP, what’s happened to them? I’ve not heard a single mention since Mr. Bloom’s unedifying incident.

  2. @Oldnat

    “Public = bad while private = good is a remarkably simplistic approach to anything.”

    I agree. Equally, the reverse is simplistic and just as pointless. The balance has to be right.

    Too much or too little public = bad, if that’s a better, if still simplistic way of putting it.

  3. @Statgeek

    It’s not really about the proportion of public/private, but how well each are managed. More private sector isn’t good if it winds up like the banking crash, or if energy companies put prices up regardless of their true costs.

  4. Infrastructure has to be built I agree, but I do not agree with rail subsidies, when the railways were sold off or auctioned off for a period the public were told by politicians that it would save us money by not having to paying subsidies to keep the railways going… were are still paying subsidies only now they go towards shareholders…

    Like the utilities… market forces will force bills down, and if we want gas storage banks so we don’t pay through the nose, ops we already are…we will have to pay for them so the private companies can make even more money off them… don’t figure.

    It seems like the people have to pay at least twice or even three times so private companies can make a £.

    Oh then companies will not pay taxes on said £, just to make it sting more… you really could not believe it unless it was actually true and happening…

  5. CARFREW

    “More private sector isn’t good if it winds up like the banking crash, or if energy companies put prices up regardless of their true costs.”
    ____

    Not all economies act like the UK. Of course you need to get the balance correct []

    Having a social just society looking after the needy but at the same time promoting private sector growth and less central and gov red tape and interference is what any country should aspire to.

  6. Re the public/private debate, Stefan Collini had this to say earlier in the month

    “Future historians, pondering changes in British society from the 1980s onwards, will struggle to account for the following curious fact.

    Although British business enterprises have an extremely mixed record (frequently posting gigantic losses, mostly failing to match overseas competitors, scarcely benefiting the weaker groups in society), and although such arm’s length public institutions as museums and galleries, the BBC and the universities have by and large a very good record (universally acknowledged creativity, streets ahead of most of their international peers, positive forces for human development and social cohesion), nonetheless over the past three decades politicians have repeatedly attempted to force the second set of institutions to change so that they more closely resemble the first. ”

    Hard to disagree with a word of that. Collini then goes on to say a number of things that Anthony would immediately have moderated, but that essential core is really rather pertinent.

  7. @ STATGEEK

    Public v Private.

    I would advocate that essential services such as power and water, for which people have little choice, should be heavily regulated if they are in private hands. Their accounts should be subject to much more scrutiny and the consumer should have more rights than is currently the case. For example, I would suggest that all customers are offered the lowest tariff available and that all customers receive the same discount for payment by DD. At the moment, the poor who cannot pay by DD, miss out on a discount that is offered to DD payers.

    There is also no reason why the state cannot set up their own utilities company to compete with the private companies. The government don’t have to renationalise. They can simply have a state owned company who can generate/buy energy and then sell on at a price point that covers their costs.

  8. “Infrastructure has to be built I agree, but I do not agree with rail subsidies, when the railways were sold off or auctioned off for a period the public were told by politicians that it would save us money by not having to paying subsidies to keep the railways going… were are still paying subsidies only now they go towards shareholders…”

    True. The original vision of privatisation was that private finance would make the railways self-funding, when the reality was that BR had been chronically under-invested, and it was only a matter of time before we learnt how much it *really* costs to keep the railways going.

    But the argument over subsidies is out of date. There used to be a net contribution from the government towards the train operating companies – not any more. Today, the income from companies to pay a premium to run services is more than the expenditure to the companies who still receive a subsidy to run. Network Rail does get a direct subsidy from the government (on top of its income for track access charges), but it’s a roundabout argument to claim that’s for shareholders’ pockets. You could just as easily argue the resurfacing the M1 is a subsidy for the shareholders of National Express.

    If there’s one problem I have with the current franchising system, it’s the lack of arguments in favour. Privatisation was supposed to bring forward private investment and empower decision making to businesses. Instead, all major decisions are firmly the Government’s, and the direct private investment is unimpressive. The franchising process is a logistical nightmare, and I’m not convinced the benefits of franchising justify the hassle.

  9. Statgeek is obviously right. The question is what the mix of public and private should be. And Carfrew is obviously right that in many cases what matters is management and either would do if well managed. However, there is also an issue of what things tend to make one or the other work better in the private sector or vice versa, and whether the balance varies in different kind of industries or services. Relevant issues seem to me to include whether the thing supplied is something people have to have, whether there is a ‘natural monopoly’, whether the over-riding criterion is profit (or this can be aligned so that you make a profit by fulfilling the main criterion) and so on. Presumably someone has had a go at sorting this out. Does anyone know who and what was concluded? (And incidentally Chris’s considerations are also clearly relevant, so all quite complicated!

  10. @JIM (The Other One)

    I total agree and it is very annoying. I hope EM and Labour can take a new direction.

  11. @Jim

    I’d use ORR figures if I were you. Subsidies peaked of £6 billion in 2006-2007, partly due to the catch-up in investment following the Hatfield crash, and partly due to the massive cock-up that was the West Coast Main Line Upgrade.

    Subsidy fell in £4bn by 2010-2011 for a number of reasons: clearing the worst of the backlog on investments, gradual efficiency improvement, and partly an increase in fares above inflation. Bear in mind this includes capital investment – if it’s the cost of simply running the railways, that’s lower.

    It went up to £5bn for 2012-1013, but this includes Crossrail which is now at its most expensive stage. Subsidy for the remainder of the existing network is continuing to fall.

    In any case, the £6bn today claimed by the IEA has no basis in fact whatsoever, But the IEA has a blatant anti-rail agenda and a poor history of accuracy, so this doesn’t surprise me.

    Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone listens to think tanks at all. The all exist to push the point of view of their donors. Any research that decides on conclusions first and findings second is not worth the paper it’s written on.

  12. @Chris Neville-Smith

    Think-tanks are quite active in my field, but nobody serious takes the slightest bit of notice of them and all of their work is third-rate, with one exception which I will not name.

    However, they are popular with politically-motivated journalists and with politicians looking for evidence to fit their existing beliefs.

    That think-tanks exist is a symptom of a debased political and journalistic culture in the UK, but not the cause.

  13. @R Huckle

    In my perfect world of ‘statgeek solves the nation’s problems’, all the utility-type services (essential) are nationalised at the wholesale level.

    Water, electricity, gas, and broadband (yes the latter is pretty much an essential service in the modern day, if the country is to operate as efficiently as other nations).

    Then a government could apply maximum pricing (say a fixed percentage above wholesale levels, such as 30%). Then it’s up to retailers to compete, by offering the services to consumers.

    …in fact, on reflection, broadband has many flavours, while gas, electricity and water are hard to offer in different levels of quality or quantity on variable pricing plans. With that in mind, there might be two categories. Pure utilities, and infrastructure utilities (broadband, road, air-travel and rail).

    The ‘British problem’ is that governments don’t know how to manage these services efficiently, so allow them to fall into disrepair at excessive costs, and unions get too much power to use against the taxpayer.

    How can we have nationalised industries that are efficient, without union interference (perhaps not from the beginning, but 20 years into the plan)?

    The other problem with nationalisation is the inclination of parties to outbid each other to get elected. The race to the bottom of the worst sort.

    If I find an answer to these problems, I’ll be sure to sell it on to the highest bidding party (at bulk discount of course :)).

    The simple answer might be to devolve wholesale infrastructure responsibility to local councils, so that residents have to deal with the cost and mismanagement issues locally, and unions have less national power. Even then, in an interconnected national system, be it rail, broadband or gas, a single council might hold other areas of the UK to ransom. So then we need a more complicated and expensive network to prevent that…sigh!

  14. I don’t think that Scotland no matter how socialist it becomes would ever have to endure the kind of economic sanctions that the US has imposed on Cuba. What we don’t know is how Cuba’s economy would look like without those sanctions, therefore it’s difficult to say whether or not socialism has been a success in Cuba. All we know for sure is that Cuba has the highest rates of literacy in central America and the lowest infant morality(and beats the US on both measures) but it’s economy is a wreak but then so the are economies of Honduras and Guatemala which are most definitely not socialist. In fact that brings up another problem, who should we compare Cuba with to evaluate how they are doing?

  15. Another curious thing about Cuba is that it has a much smaller proportion of its population in jail that the US, which is very odd considering that the former is a authoritarian one party state while is neighbor to the north is the land of the free

  16. Mr NickP

    We can argue about why the miners union got crushed, or we can agree that the leading figures on both sides were never going to get along.

    As for France / Germany:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d7eb57c6-c920-11e2-bb56-00144feab7de.html

    Regarding Grangemouth:

    h ttp://www.efinancialnews.com/story/2013-10-24/grangemouth-is-this-the-uks-most-generous-scheme?ea9c8a2de0ee111045601ab04d673622

    or how you might prefer to read it:

    h ttp://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/10/28/gran-o28.html

    Don’t let facts get in the way of things though.

  17. STATGEEK

    Well said, totally agree.

  18. Anthony

    True: I shall tell the pups.

  19. Anthony

    Just checking: is referring to a party leader, derogatively, as “wee” Ruth acceptable?

  20. Damm I thought my tools were made in Germany but they might have been made in France!! Most of my kitchen stuff is made in France, I don’t know why but Tupperware makes a lot of stuff there

  21. “Wee Ruth” is she 4′ 8″? Then I think it might be purely descriptive

  22. “The original vision of privatisation was that private finance would make the railways self-funding…”

    Don’t recall that myself and even if it was claimed I’m surprised anyone would have believed it. No railway in the world survives without subsidy regardless of ownership. (At the time of nationalisation GWR’s shareholders hadn’t received a dividend for 50 years.)

    “Today, the income from companies to pay a premium to run services is more than the expenditure to the companies who still receive a subsidy to run. ”

    Pretty meaningless when the infrastructure they use is subsidised instead (not to mention the administrative costs of managing the franchising system). The bottom line is that more taxpayers’ money goes on the railways now than under BR yet at the same time passengers are paying a higher proportion of their fares.

    Incidentally the public subsidy now is far greater in real terms than the losses used to justify the Beeching cuts.

  23. ROSIEANDDAISIE

    “Wee Ruth” in the context in which it was written appears to be a term of endearment, it’s possible that Allan is in secretly in love with Ruth, but not so secretly now, in which case he has serious problems because that is a love which will never be requited

  24. RogerH
    GWR always paid a dividend right up to nationalisation and one of the highest to boot, out of the 4 main companies.

  25. RiN

    That is both an excellent and serious point that you make.

  26. Howard
    My father,who was a railwayman all his working life and who started off working for the LMS railway company, always maintained that the old companies’ shareholders were still getting a payout from the taxpayer decades after nationalisation.

  27. “Don’t recall that myself and even if it was claimed I’m surprised anyone would have believed it.”

    You’ll have to be surprised then. The #1 reason Railtrack was such a disaster is that they promoted the West Coast upgrade as a commercial venture, with great rewards promised for investors.

    “The bottom line is that more taxpayers’ money goes on the railways now than under BR yet at the same time passengers are paying a higher proportion of their fares.”

    But that would almost certainly have been the case with or without privatisation. Yes, subsidy under BR was moderately lower in real terms, but that was only achieved by going cheap on long-term investment, as did Railtrack. That is what we are paying for now.

    “Incidentally the public subsidy now is far greater in real terms than the losses used to justify the Beeching cuts.”

    And that is precisely why Beeching and co were wrong to use that excuse. In the 1960s, the popular view was that trains were the past and cars are the future. Nowadays, it is broadly recognised that there’s far more benefits to rail than fare income. They prevent cities becoming gridlocked, and are an economic lifeline to rural communities.

    There is a balance between subsidy, fare levels, and economic benefits. But renationalisation will not be the magic bullet to make it all better.

  28. In interesting article on the Kowloon-Canton railway (KCRC):

    http://www.academia.edu/2624386/Running_a_Profitable_Railway

    “One of the primary reasons why both railways in Hong Kong are relatively pro?table is because the Government decreed that they should be run under prudent commercial principles. This has a major impacton managerial behaviour. KCRC’s managers have a freedom of decision-making and act more rationally, with more motivation, because they cantake commercial and entrepreneurial decisions to create wealth for the Corporation and ultimately for society. They are not at the mercy of the political whims of government, which in many countries takes the sideof the trades unions in any con?ict with railway management. Moreover,such governments often create requirements that are uncommercial and lead to high levels of waste.”

    In other words, what I was trying to describe in my ‘utilities’ post. Let the government own it, as directors, if you like, and let more capable, not-political individuals manage it directly.

  29. Reposted, due to cut and paste errors.

    In interesting article on the Kowloon-Canton railway (KCRC):

    http://www.academia.edu/2624386/Running_a_Profitable_Railway

    “One of the primary reasons why both railways in Hong Kong are relatively profitable is because the Government decreed that they should be run under prudent commercial principles. This has a major impact on managerial behaviour. KCRC’s managers have a freedom of decision-making and act more rationally, with more motivation, because they can take commercial and entrepreneurial decisions to create wealth for the Corporation and ultimately for society. They are not at the mercy of the political whims of government, which in many countries takes the side of the trades unions in any conflict with railway management. Moreover,such governments often create requirements that are uncommercial and lead to high levels of waste.”

    In other words, what I was trying to describe in my ‘utilities’ post. Let the government own it, as directors, if you like, and let more capable, not-political individuals manage it directly.

  30. “You often hear people talking of railways making a profit. What they are actually referring to is that the railway takes in more fare revenue than it spends on operating costs. People ignore the value of the infrastructure, they ignore interest payments, they ignore repayment of loans and they forget future renewals.”

    http://www.railway-technical.com/finance.shtml

  31. “The #1 reason Railtrack was such a disaster is that they promoted the West Coast upgrade as a commercial venture, with great rewards promised for investors.”

    Railtrack wasn’t ‘the railway’ though. Government could section off bits and claim that they were individually capable of making a profit but any idea that the privatised railway would be profitable was never more than an elaborate accounting trick.

  32. “GWR always paid a dividend right up to nationalisation and one of the highest to boot, out of the 4 main companies.”

    I stand corrected. I believe LNER never made a profit in its short life, though.

  33. Not an expert on the subject but I understand that East Coast is making a profit since it was taken back into government hands. Polls a few months ago showed that a significant majority were against privatisation of the organisation. That majority increased among those from regions likely to use the trains. Nevertheless the government has decided to privatise East Coast. Once again the leading contenders are foreign, including some owned by foreign governments. I won’t give my opinion on this to try and avoid mod.

  34. @Statgeek

    “In other words, what I was trying to describe in my ‘utilities’ post. Let the government own it, as directors, if you like, and let more capable, not-political individuals manage it directly.”

    I think you’ll find that this is the way that most nationalised industries worked in the past and, to a certain degree, how the few enterprises still left in public hands continue to be run. When I joined BL Cars in 1977, it would have been ludicrous to say that it was being run by politicians. This parody was the stuff of people who wanted to caricature, and denigrate, every nationalised industry as some British version of a Stalinist tractor factory. BL was run and managed by people steeped in the car industry and while the Secretary for Trade and Industry (Eric Varley at the time, if my memory serves me right) sanctioned the investment plans, all these were developed by Lord Stokes, Lord Ryder and Michael Edwardes and their respective management teams, not by the politicians. BL actually made a profit when I joined it, although an inadequate one in relation to its size and turnover, employing as it did over 120,000 employees in 60 plus locations across the UK.

    The pre-nationalised, private British car industry had been caught in an economic vortex in the 60s and 70s, hamstrung by years of under investment in new technologies and products, weak management, conservative unions clinging to outdated restrictive practices and, the killer blow, lean and hungry overseas car makers all exploding onto the market simultaneously, particularly the Japanese. The formation of BMC, then British Leyland and finally BL Cars before Lord Young put paid to it in the mid 80s,, probably saved some of the most famous of British car brands from extinction.

    As a car-maker all my working life, and with the green pastures of retirement now looming, I often look back to those turbulent times and reflect with irony when I hear politicians now scrambling to hitch their flags to the mega profitable Jaguar Land Rover cause. Both those companies and brands were dying in the 1970s and public ownership in the shape of BL Cars kept them alive to breathe again profitably in the private sector.

    You could argue that it was another example of us nationalising the debt and then privatising the profit, although in the case of the British car industry, the debts were incurred long before the profit materialised.

    Of course, Ted Heath got in on the nationalisation act in the early 70s with Rolls Royce and the good people of Derby and elsewhere are probably eternally grateful that he did so.

  35. Grangemouth and its aftermath is now shaping up as a gamechanger in Scottish politics.

    Salmond has attracted near universal support for his handling of the crisis while Labour is moving ever deeper into a mire of their own making.

    I do not know if there is any relevance to the referendum but there is little doubt who people will want running the parliament!

  36. @ L Hamilton

    And yet, on the day the Grangemouth crisis was resolved, Dunfermline experienced a 7% swing from SNP to Labour.

    An inconvenient fact which you have singularly failed to address in your comment.

  37. Amber

    Everyone on this site knows that there were special circumstances in dunfermline, your last post was a cheap shot

  38. Peter Bell

    You probably know this but when considering the issue of privatising or nationalising it should be remembered we are only talking about the business of running passenger trains over the specified route (“East Coast” in this case).

    The actual railway in its entirety was already effectively renationalised by Stephen Byers in 2002 after the debacle that was Railtrack.

    The franchisees do not generally even own the trains; these are leased from companies (mainly owned by the banks).

    When a franchisee loses its bid to continue, we are only talking about a few ‘suits’. All the staff are guaranteed their employment and are taken over by the winning team. The trains lease will be taken over by the new team.

    So the issue of privatisation or renationalisation could be viewed as a somewhat fringe event.

    How many people, polled on these issues, understand any of the above? From comments I read and hear – very few I suspect.

  39. @L Hamilton

    Why is Labout in a mire?

    As far as I can see Grangemouth seems to be another example of big business winning out against the workers. I think the guarantees to keep the plant open etc are hopeful though and just think that all the parties in Scotland – Gov’t, unions, and the local Lab MP did well.

  40. sorry old report

  41. @ RiN

    The US infant mortality rate looks bad because of the way it is calculated. It is actually as low as any Western European countries using the same measures (ie not counting the babies who die unfortunately in the first 48 hours).

    Usual stuff with statistics…

  42. @ RiN

    “Amber
    Everyone on this site knows that there were special circumstances in dunfermline, your last post was a cheap shot”

    Amber’s birthday?

  43. Laszlo

    I don’t really follow Scottish politics but Oldnat and Amber were discussing the unfortunate case of the snp candidate? Or former incumbent, not sure which it was, which they seemed to agree had some bearing on the result

  44. Cllr. Brian Lodge has resigned in Sheffield after not paying his business rates, so we’ll have a by-election here sooner rather than later.

    No prospect of Labour losing the seat (they hold it with ~63% of the vote) but it’s a seat where UKIP came a reasonably respectable 2nd in 2012 and we’ll see how they do.

  45. Couper : Gov’t, unions, and the local Lab MP did well.
    I don’t think anybody did well apart from Jim Radcliffe. He trampled all over everybody and got everything he wanted. Lower wages, lower pensions, grants, soft loans, and all from the comfort of his £5 million yacht, I don’t know which one, he has two.
    Ineos is registered in Switzerland so we can add tax avoider to the other names he is called.
    We have been done like a kipper, and by that I mean the taxpayers and workers of the UK.

  46. I agree with Trot

    If AS is such a gem, he should have taken Grangemouth into public ownership.

  47. @NickP

    I was watching BBC News the other day and the newsreader asked if Unite had simply overplayed a weak hand.

    I felt like yelling at the screen that there was one option that could have strengthened Unite’s hand, and that was the option of nationalisation if all else failed.

  48. Happy Birthday everyone! Just me? Ok.

    Today’s news seems to have been swept away by the St Jude’s Day storm. Did AW make it into.the office?

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