The first weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is out this morning here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 31%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%. Nine points is a larger Labour lead than YouGov have shown so far this week, so normal caveats apply.

17% of people expect their financial situation to get better in the year ahead, 36% expect it to be much the same, 41% still expect it to get worse – a net “feel good factor” of minus 24. While other polls show people starting to think the economy as a whole is improving, they are still pessimistic about their own economic fortunes. That said, they are increasingly less pessimistic. This minus 24 is actually much less bad than most of YouGov’s polling over the last four years, only once last year did they show a less negative figure (-23 in September 2013).

Moving onto the specifics of spending cuts YouGov asked what areas people would like to see prioritised for cuts. As usual overseas aid came top by far (71% want to see it cut), followed by welfare benefits (37%), defence (20%) and local government (11%) – there is no other area that more than 10% of people actively want to see prioritised for cuts. On the other side of the equation, people most want to see the NHS (67%), education (54%), pensions (39%) and policing (33%) protected from cuts. For welfare in particular, 15% want to see it protected from cuts, but 37% want to see it prioritised for them.

Note how overseas aid is widely identified as something people want cut with few people wanting to protect it and, at the other end, many people want to see the NHS, education and policing protected with few wanting to see them cut. Welfare and defence are the two interesting battlegrounds as both have substantial numbers of people wanting them cut and wanting them protected.

Looking at specific potential benefit cuts, large majorities would support stopping immigrants from receiving benefits, even for lengthy periods of time. 76% would support a two year ban, 62% a five year ban. The is also solid support for the current benefit cap of £26,000 (supported by 76%) and 49% would support a lower cap of £15,000. A limit on child benefit so it is paid for only 2 children would be supported by 68%. People are least enthusiastic about stopping benefits for the under 25s – they would support an end to housing benefits for those under 25 by 49% to 34%, but a solid majority (59%) would oppose ending all benefits for under 25s.

On the state pension and the minimum wage, 65% of people support Cameron guaranteeing the triple lock for the state pension until 2020, 12% are opposed (as one might expect, there is a heavy age skew – 87% of over 60s support it, 46% of under 25s); 66% would support a substantial increase in the minimum wage, 19% of people would be opposed.

Moving onto the issue of immigration, 76% of people support David Cameron’s stated aim of reducing immigration to the “tens of thousands”, but the overwhelmingly majority (83%) of people think it is unlikely he will achieve it, only 9% think it is likely. When YouGov asked the same question two years ago 15% thought it was likely Cameron would hit his target, so while net immigration has fallen somewhat over recent years, its not registering with the public.

31% of people in England support free schools, 42% of people are opposed. Looking forward, 24% want to see free schools continue to open, 18% want to see them stopped, but those that already exist retained, 26% of people think current free schools should be brought under local authority control.

219 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 31, LAB 40, LD 9, UKIP 14”

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  1. Shevii – there was a question we used to ask if people preferred a Lab majority, Con majority, LD-Lab or LD-Con coalitions. We’ve overlooked it for a while, but should be back soon.

  2. @L Hamilton – “Exactly right. What’s at stake for the rest of the UK is debt servicing of 3.9 – 5.5 billion a year from a Scottish Government which it is now accepted by all sides has no legal obligation to pay anything”

    I don’t wish to sound rude, and please believe when I say this isn’t intended as such, but I’m afraid that sentiment is particularly stupid. Scotland will have a legal obligation to meet it’s share of the debt – have no fear of that. Payments would be paid the the Treasury, who would pass them onto bond holders.

    Two questions need asking;
    1) Why has the Treasury had to take this move? (that you claim is such a good one for the SNP – odd that Osborne would do something without reason that helps the SNP).

    2) What do you think would happen if Scotland really took the line that it didn’t have to pay it’s debts?

    The answer to 1) is that markets are getting nervous about independence, and will factor in a premium rate to balance this risk. Hence the UK has had to make a clear statement to avoid us all having to pay more in bond interest. It’s a sign that the markets have less confidence in an independent Scotland than in the UK.

    The answer to 2) is that you would face grave difficulties is raising any finance on the markets and when you did, your rates would be substantial. Failing to meet your legal obligations would leave you viewed as a default nation – something not even the Greeks managed.

    Your notion that Scotland will get independence without entering binding agreements with rUK to pay it’s debts seems to be about the level of nationalist thinking these days. It’s as if you believe you’ll be negotiating a settlement with a cabbage.

    The other slightly nutty elements of this are that Scotland will not get anywhere near the point that it can choose which assets it has and which debts it will pay. As @Oldnat says, these will be negotiated, with the ultimate ace in Westminster’s hands.

    There is absolutely no prospect of EU membership without a mutually agreed separation. If London doesn’t like the terms, no negotiations on EU membership will happen. Scotland could walk out of the union, and you would immediately fall out of all EU agreements of any level. Scotland needs rUK assent to anything, otherwise Westminster can block EU membership (even if all other countries wish for it, Westminster has the veto).

    I am wearily accepting a tide of illogical nonsense from the Nats, interspersed with the odd gem of reality. I am surprised, as I really thought I would be wincing in displeasure at the No campaign.

  3. @Alec:

    I’ve no idea myself but according to Greenpeace “in English law if you own land then your rights extend to all the ground beneath it. The Supreme Court held in 2010 in Bocardo SA v Star Energy [2010] UKSC 35; [2011] 1 AC 380 that these rights apply when someone wants to drill underneath your land. That means that if someone drills under your home without permission, or without a statutory right, it is a trespass and trespass is unlawful.”

  4. @norbold

    Clacton is not on the river… but fwiw, here is the best chart/map I can find which shows why a line from North Foreland (via Kentish Knock) to Harwich defines the extent of the Thames Estuary:


  5. @RogerH – that’s probably correct, except when they are licensed to drill for oil and gas – other minerals or water are not covered by this.

    Also bear in mind that many landowners retained the mineral rights when they sold land, so even then, the householder may not have rights below a certain depth.

  6. Mr Nameless,
    Please,not the loins,under any circumstances,no matter how dire.

  7. @Alec

    But they had a licence “to search, bore for and extract petroleum”. What they didn’t have was permission from the landowner to access it.

  8. Oh, I see Anthony started a new thread minutes earlier!

  9. @Colin

    The gas belongs to the crown but in the UK the land down to the centre of the earth belongs to the landowner.

    Interesting legal advice for those opposing fracking:—Publications/Firm-News-(1)/Fracking.aspx

    ie. hold up process with ransom strips and force company to apply for compulsory purchase. No wonder Mr Cameron has decided that fracking companies do not have to inform landowners that the fracking is taking place under their land.

  10. In Bath prospective shale extractors will also need the permission of the local authority, which has additional powers under the 1984 County of Avon Act (to protect the hot springs).

  11. Alec


    The one thing that is now agreed – read the Treasury statement – is that the legal obligation lies with the Treasury who issued the debt. They will, as they put it, take responsibility “in all circumstances” as the “continuing state” There are many international examples of countries claiming the status of a “continuing state” and ending up with all the debts – or as the FT put it today

    “The Treasury announcement and UK insistence that an independent Scotland would be a new state means refusal by Edinburgh to fund shared debts would not legally constitute a default”

    Exactly which is why any UK bond holder is entitled to ask the Treasury to put the position beyond argument – for everyone – except yourself of course.

    Now a different position will almost certainly evolve since the NATS have made it clear that they will SERVICE a share of the debt in return for a share of the assets.

    It is not just a reasonable position. It is a very strong one.

  12. Sue

    Thanks-interesting !

  13. @COLIN

    “I think the general background clammer you describe is different.

    I an talking about things like the rhythmic pulsed trailing edge noise ; and so called infrasound of air pressure pulsations, less than 20 Hz; not audible, but felt.

    There is plenty of opinion on this on-line.

    You can make your own mind up.”


    Well, if they don’t like the thrum, why don’t you just advise them to move? That’s what many opposed to wind turbines would tell others to do. Struggling to pay the bedroom surcharge thing? Well just move then. Local economy devastated by pit closures? Get on the bike!!

  14. And yes, Sue’s point about fracking companies not having to inform landowners they are drilling under their land IS “interesting” as you put it. Still trusting the fracking regulatory framework?

    May I also draw your attention Colin to Sue’s point about investment diverted away from alternatives, as that is also salient. Why bother with a short-term stop-gap that has lots of issues and only kicks the can down the road a bit? When we could be speeding up long-term solutions.

    Eg, the recent development in using Peroskovites for solar panels. Making them 15% efficient. This is significant as they are cheap, and can operate in overcast conditions.

  15. @Norbold

    “Clacton is not on the Thames. It used to be about 400,000 years ago. But not now.”

    I never knew that, but I’m guessing you’re older than I am. :-p

  16. @Alec

    “It’s as if you believe you’ll be negotiating a settlement with a cabbage.”

    Do ginger rodents eat cabbages? (It’s all I could think of, sorry)

    Should England take on debts created by Scotland? Should Scotland take on debts created by London? If you answer both equally, you’re halfway to negotiating the problem.

  17. @L Hamilton – “Now a different position will almost certainly evolve since the NATS have made it clear that they will SERVICE a share of the debt in return for a share of the assets.

    It is not just a reasonable position. It is a very strong one.”

    No it isn’t. You are completely misunderstanding what this means. rUK will service the debts, with an independent Scotland pays it’s agreed share to the Treasury.

    This is being done to reassure markets. Tonight, Pimco said that the market expects Scotland to pay a premium interest rate as a new country (for a while at least) which would be completely normal.

    This move has been made to ensure that market sentiment over Scottish debts doesn’t infect current UK debt servicing.

    As I say, do you really think there is any chance of rUK agreeing to a deal where Scotland does not have a legal obligation to pay to the Treasury it’s share of debt costs? Like – English, Welsh and NI voters would support a PM that suggested such a thing?

  18. Frankly Alec, there are those of us who’d let them have all the oil and none of the debt just to get it over with. We could let them have Andrew Neil and Esther McVey too…

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