The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is out here. Topline voting intentions are CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%.

These would have been perfectly normal a fortnight ago, but contrast with the average Labour leads of two points or so that we’ve had for the last week. All the normal caveats apply – it could be a sign that the post-budget narrowing of the polls is coming to an end and things are headed back to the pre-budget situation, or it could just be random sample error, and next week’s polls will be back to leads of one or two points. Wait and see.

YouGov also asked about European election voting intention, and found figures of CON 24%, LAB 32%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 23%, GRN 5%. Labour remain in the lead (though more convincingly than mid-week), the Conservatives and UKIP remain in a tight race for second place (though this time it’s the Conservatives who are narrowly ahead). Voting intention in a referendum on leaving the EU remains at 42% stay, 36% leave – the same as before the Nick v Nigel debate.

Most of the rest of the poll dealt with comparisons between how Ed Miliband and David Cameron are seen as leaders. The pattern is a familiar one, and one I’ve discussed here many times before – Cameron is seen as stronger, more decisive, clearer about what he stands for and more up to the job of PM; Miliband is seen as more in touch with ordinary people. We can’t easily quantify how much this helps the Tories or damages Labour. Miliband had rubbish ratings last year too and that didn’t stop Labour enjoying 10+ leads in the polls so it is cleary not a complete road block to success… but then, neither is anything else. There is no one, single explanation to voting intention, no one, single thing that leads to failure or success. Parties have won elections with unpopular leaders, they have won elections when behind on the economy – these things do matter, but they are all part of a package and can be outweighted by other things.


484 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 33, LAB 40, LD 9, UKIP 11”

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  1. Robbiealive

    Bremner, Bird, the late John Fortune as well as their many fans would disagree with you about satire. :-)

  2. John Pilgrim

    I’m not sure what the point of targeting frictional unemployment would be, or even how to begin to. People chop and change jobs a fair bit, particularly in the early parts of someone’s career, the days of a “job for life” has changed and there will be more periods where people move between jobs. Frictional unemployment will be higher than a few generations ago and it’s not a huge issue or one that can be dealt with easily in the short term.

    Reinforcing the idea that he is focussing on reducing the cyclical unemployment, (using economic forces to drive it temporarily below the “natural” rate will come at a cost of increased inflation and interest rates) isn’t a bad thing, it’s the one aspect of the economy that he has greatest control over.

    Any attempts to tackle the structural reasons for unemployment in the country (skills shortages) need to be worked out over multiple parliaments and the reasons for it are many and varied and has never gained much electoral support compared to the largest part of the unemployment. Parties have done bits and pieces (apprenticeships, introducing programming into the curriculum) which helps keep it under control but I doubt any party will be able to have much of an impact with.

    If unemployment is 2% Frictional 2% Structural and 3% Cyclical, it’s the 3% the Osborne is setting out as his target. I have no issue with a politician trying to be clear and precise about his aims.

    Chipping away at the structural happens but by the time certain barriers to employment are removed, (which take time to take effect) the changing nature of the world means other barriers will replace those in time.

  3. @AW – Sorry to be so mistrusting – unfortunately, previously, as you know, we have had some Trolls in the past on here – However, if Pressman is a genuine new poster then I welcome him heartily, and welcome his refreshingly new perspective on what may happen.

  4. Carfrew
    If you visit my son’s pub, he will be able, like Syzygy, to tell you what a syzygy is.

    I do hope that Pressman is getting better and excuse myself for earlier remarks. I do think the press take themselves too seriously, but not as ridiculously seriously as the broadcasters, who make a song and dance about who has left to work for whom, – and on the main news to boot.

    I never heard Trevor Kavanagh ever come out with anything remotely supportive of socialist policy and would assume he had been slipped a mickey finn, were he to do so.

  5. Alec,

    Hull ‘currency’.

    Imagine Hull council creating money to reward ‘volunteers’ who then use the funds to shop at Asda.. The store uses the funds in part payment of its rates so that the council gets back its created money but has to forgo the real money that Asda would have otherwise used. Nothing achieved by the council because the work by the volunteers has, effectively, cost exactly what they would have had to pay their staff.

    Alternatively, the council could start by using real money, say Asda’s rates, to pay proper employees to do the work that the volunteers would have otherwise done. These people go and spend their pay in Asda and around and around we go.

    This is cloud-cuckoo land. And how long, d’you think would we, via HMRC, continue to allow payment in ‘kind’ that has exactly the same benefits as cash to go untaxed? Why wouldn’t every employer put their staff on ‘voluntary’ pay and return to the truck system?

  6. Alec,

    I think that measures since the 1970s to improve training, work incentives and job-search support have made a big difference to UK labour market flexibility, as have reforms to trade union laws. That’s why unemployment (except for youth unemployment) has been the least awful aspect of the past six years or so.

    However, labour flexibility and supply-side reform in general is not enough. If Osborne were to show the kind of courage Brown showed by making the Bank of England independent, then he could switch the Bank’s mandate to a 5% nominal GDP target. The academic literature is now starting to suggest that such a move would not only help stabilise growth and inflation (as monetarist and Keynesian economists have long known it would) but would also help financial stability.

    UK inflation in 2013 was at 1.6% (measured by the superior GDP deflator measure) and 5% nominal GDP growth. Keeping the latter figure going through monetary policy and taking more measures to help the unemployed back into work should be a priority for whatever government forms in 2015.

    UK unemployment is above the natural rate right now (hence falling inflation) and thus it’s unnaturally high.

  7. Apologies to Alec, the above post at 5:34 was mine not his. I don’t know if it was an autocorrect go awry of if I was subconsciously being a twit, but I made no intention to impersonate him.

  8. @ALAN
    Yes that was fun, wondering why Alec was talking to himself. Some of us spend all our lives subconsciously being twits.

  9. @CROSSBAT11: “If Cameron was a Blair, Thatcher, Churchill or Attlee figure then the game would be up for Miliband.”

    Being a Churchill didn’t help Churchill in 1945. We don’t yet have a presidential system and I think the importance of the leader can be exaggerated. The voter’s perception of the party is the main issue, not of its leader.

  10. Agreed. the whole idea that armies of tory voters will turn up and deny labour getting to be the largest party is becoming more fanciful. The tories have to beat labour by 3 clear points for this to be even possible. I think possibly more.

    If you put in C 36 Lab 33 LD 15 into electoral calculus, you get C 296 Labour 298 and LD 29, in terms of seats…even this quite good result for the blues flatters the tories in my view, as they will find winning ld/con marginals much harder than labour will find winning ld/labour marginals. The LD 29 seat scenarios has the Tories winning Aberdeen West, Cheadle, Chippenham, Eastbourne, Eastleigh, St. Ives, and Taunton Deane off the yellows. I don’t think the blues will get any of them.

    Even then the tories are 2 seats behind labour.

  11. The Times reports results of interesting research by Countrywide ( Estate Agents) into the regional effect of HTB.:-

    20% of new homes built in the last 12 mths has been funded through HTB.-but this varies from 10% in London to 28% across the NE ( where house prices are still below 2007 levels) ; and 50% in the North.

    49% of all new homes sold in Newcastle over the last nine months have been funded by HTB.

    Looks like GO’s political instincts have hit the right spots with this initiative.

    With another year to go before the GE, will this sort of effect knock on to VI in those areas ?

  12. The HTB won’t affect votes that much. If you strip out the general economic uptrend from the HTB effect you won’t get much difference. No one is suggesting are they that HTB is the cause of the economic upswing.

  13. People are saying can the negative view of Miliband impact any more at the election ? Well yes it can, back in 1992 Kinnock was hardly facing a ‘Thatcher, Attlee et al..’ but when it came to polling day, the undecideds could not stomach him in No.10.

    Only 1 poll in the month before election day put the Tories at the percentage position that they actually achieved and no polls put the Labour percentage as low as they actually got. Nobody anticipated the Tories increasing their number of votes from 1987.

    We think a similar outcome is possible next year even allowing for lessened press influence and the changed demographic.

  14. @ Colin

    It would be tough to make inroads in the NE but it can only help. Did the conservatives enjoy a 7% swing up that way in 2010?, One of the Sunderland wards I believe.

    It really is a great policy.

  15. Pressman,

    The tories of course slightly lost vote share in 1987, it’s just that the turnout was higher.

    Labour had 229 seats in 1987, while the Tories finished up with 376 seats and a majority of 102. Spot the difference between 1992 and 2015.

  16. @ Pressman

    I agree and believe that will be pretty much what happens, in my opinion of course.

    By the way, please keep posting, there are people on this site that like to keep it to a small select group and would lecture people on grammar to drive them off. Thankfully that seems to have died down.

  17. BLUEBOB

    It is a policy which plays into aspiration & “getting on in life”.

    It isn’t a message that everyone responds to-but it is good to see the reaction to HTB in those areas of the country where aspiration has been so curtailed by general economic conditions.

  18. @CROSSBAT11: “If Cameron was a Blair, Thatcher, Churchill or Attlee figure then the game would be up for Miliband.”

    Being a Churchill didn’t help Churchill in 1945. We don’t yet have a presidential system and I think the importance of the leader can be exaggerated. The voter’s perception of the party is the main issue, not of its leader.

    I agree RogerH.

    The success of both Blair and Thatcher is that they were up and coming when their opponents were in a shambles.

    They both caught the rising tide that going to sweep away the previous regime, regardless of who the opposition Leader was.

    Like all good Leaders, while they did of course have assets, they were lucky.

    Cue various Napoleon quotes:

    “Ability is of little account without opportunity.”

    “I know he’s a good general, but is he lucky?”

    I don’t think the electorate has either fully accepted or rejected the Government or the Opposition.

  19. Bill Patrick

    I agree with your general view. Youth unemployment has been particularly troublesome, although part of that will be due to the fact that young people tend to move jobs quite often so at any time quite a few will be between jobs.

    I do think there is a serious structural problem with youth unemployment, I’ve seen first hand how impossible it is getting work when I was young even with a good degree, someone out of school without qualifications will find it even harder.

    There is an aversion to employing the young and this is something that needs examining closer to determine the reasons why. Offering companies a break on employer NI for young people might be the solution but if it’s down to a lack of confidence in qualifications/grades an employer who thinks someone is useless/incapable of doing work won’t employ them for a small government subsidy.

    I thought the remit of the BOE had changed to incorporate GDP growth into it’s targets instead of a flat “aim for 2% inflation” it might not be as dramatic as you suggest, but typically markets don’t like drama. If the tweak works out well, another tweak down the line could be justified.

    “In August 2013 the MPC provided some explicit guidance regarding the future conduct of monetary policy. The MPC intends at a minimum to maintain the present highly stimulative stance of monetary policy until economic slack has been substantially reduced, provided this does not entail material risks to price stability or financial stability. ” (BOE website)

    I think targeting solely GDP growth might backfire if inflation had to be increased to get to the desired growth (equally targeting solely inflation might require reducing growth to get to the 2% target, something this last tweak set out to explain away why they weren’t targeting inflation while there was economic slack in the system). I think trying to get a balance between the two is a much stronger idea than relying on one or the other measure in isolation.

    I agree that unemployment is still unnaturally high, we still are in the recovery phase of the cycle. If the recovery continues to improve then we may see more measures to bring us up to our full potential faster, there’s a balancing act between the speed of the recovery while maintaining credibility of deficit reduction.

    With unemployment falling faster than predicted and the markets not being overly concerned I think the balance is “about right”. There might be some scope for increased stimulus but I think anything big will wait until after 2015. Mixing anything too big with the uncertainty of a GE (with prospect of more horse trading in a coalition) might create too large a shock for the markets to absorb.

    Post 2015, with a falling deficit it might loosen the financial noose around whoever becomes chancellor’s neck enough to create extra stimulus, although if unemployment is still falling faster than predictions it’s not clear if any meddling is needed.

  20. ALEC

    I think you are getting the Hull Council “Bitcoin” thing out of perspective.

    It is not redeemable for cash.
    It is a very roundabout & no doubt expensive way of paying something to volunteer workers for their efforts.

    http://www.forexlive.com/blog/2014/03/31/you-just-know-this-is-going-to-end-in-tears/

  21. “Looks like GO’s political instincts have hit the right spots with this initiative.”

    Given that 1959 was the last time Newcastle returned a Tory MP I don’t think Osborne’s political instincts can be that accurate.

  22. ROGERH

    That was 12 years before he was borne :-)

    …..and 54 years before HTB lol.

  23. @Pressman: “People are saying can the negative view of Miliband impact any more at the election ? Well yes it can, back in 1992 Kinnock was hardly facing a ‘Thatcher, Attlee et al..’ but when it came to polling day, the undecideds could not stomach him in No.10.”

    He was facing a relatively new Prime Minister still in his honeymoon period only a couple of years after the country had effectively had a change of government. Kinnock may not have been an electoral asset but he wasn’t the reason why the Tories won in 1992; they won because they were seen as a competent government.

  24. @ RogerH

    Well he has allowed thousands of young people to buy their first home who would otherwise not be able to afford it, that must be a good thing, Right?

  25. @COLIN

    My point is that it’s not a policy that has any chance of winning them any seats in the north-east. So not that smart after all.

  26. Pressman
    “We think a similar outcome is possible next year even allowing for lessened press influence and the changed demographic.”

    Which royal ‘we’ is this? As I wrote earlier, hope you are on the mend.

  27. Hull council Bitcoin… reminds me of the exchange schemes that some of my friends were in a few years ago (can’t remember what they were called). You dig my garden for ‘credits’ and spend the Credits with Fred who is an electrician for whom I do some accounting services

    @Colin – haven’t you been paying attention? What you call ‘HTB’ is actually known as the ‘Bedroom Subsidy’

  28. ROGERH

    Can’t do any harm politically-might do some good politically.

    Meantime it is helping a lot of young people to get on the housing ladder-and that is a good thing , definitely qualifying as “smart” in my book.

  29. GUYMONDE

    For people who haven’t got any.

    I think that’s a good thing-interested that you don’t.

  30. The Bristol Pound is changeable for cash and can be used to pay your Council Tax.

    http://bristolpound.org

  31. “can’t remember what they were called”

    LETS?

    http://www.letslinkuk.net

  32. Blueblob

    If he created a policy that targeted specifically middle England would he be criticised for cynically targeting people for electoral benefits?

    If he created a policy that targeted specifically southern England would he be criticised for rewarding the people who vote in large numbers for his party?

    It must be tempting to give up and only help those parts of the country who appreciate being helped but I don’t believe it’s the right way to run the country.

  33. @Oldnat – “We have all been sinners in the past, but to continue to flout your host’s requests is not considered good manners in the drawing room.”

    I’ll leave AW to police his site, thanks very much, but I will content myself with the fact that I was, in the main, discussing English and Welsh polling.

  34. @Alan – thanks for your clarification about the posts in the name of Alec. I was getting really confused there, as the posts didn’t seem too far off what I might post myself, but I was sure I hadn’t. Far too clever for me.

  35. ALAN

    But HTB isn’t “targeted” at a particular region .

    That its greatest take-up has been in the more deprived areas of the country shows that it was well designed to help those who most needed help.

  36. ROGERH

    @”The Bristol Pound is changeable for cash ”

    Because every £B issued is backed by £1 of deposits at the Bristol Credit Union-which is regulated by a BoE agency.

  37. P.S Alan

    Bob has no L in it :)

  38. @Carfrew Wake up and smell the coffee +VAT. Have ye no considered that we may have entered a pollster vortex whereby the four planets in orbit are doomed to equilibrium in which any policy that nudges in one direction is only countermanded by a gravitational pull in another?

  39. I like BlueBlob… it makes you sound like a Telly Tubby :-)

  40. @STATGEEK

    “No, but I don’t sit in Coffee shops. I brew my own. Far nicer.”

    ——

    Lol, well sure, I’ve got a Gaggia, but coffee is a bit like cocktails… different people do things differently with different effects. And it’s a lot easier finding out what is going on, especially stuff that doesn’t get so publicised.

    One can brew one’s own beer instead of going out and meeting others for a drink… stay in and eat, instead of going out to meet others and see a gig while eating etc. etc… but to some extent it comes down to one’s basic take on things, something that became clear in our chat on teacher training a while back, where my perspective was one of how do you get the most out of the teaching, whereas yours seemed to be more one of what are the minimum requirements to get by.

    But anyway, I wasn’t advocating that you should go to coffee shops. In any event, some do get a career out of it, go on to manage coffee shops, then set one up of their own, etc.

  41. Apart from resigning, is there anything Mr Osborne could do that you would approve of?
    ————
    Yes, the ‘irreversible’ QE & hiring Mark Carney were both good ideas. No complaints from me & almost none from the Opposition. The annuities thing was also a useful move, although not that good; which is why I expect the budget bounce to fade away over the next fortnight.

  42. @ROGER MEXICO

    “You live or work in Shoreditch and I claim my free ironic moustache.”

    ——–

    Lol, no, I just happen to live near a lot of coffee shops and being a baristacan be handy for for those pursuing a music/arts career etc., so they know about that stuff…

  43. @Amber

    Don’t forget the more than 50% increase in the tax threshold (or tax code, to differentiate it from the higher thresholds). It’s one of the better things that’s come out of the last 4 years (for low earners).

    £800 per year, or £65 per month better off, which isn’t too bad if one is on minimum wages.

  44. @Colin

    HTB has done nearly nothing where the shortage of affordable properties is greatest – London and the South East, as even with HTB property values are still too high. In fact HTB has actually made matters worse by inflating these Sky high values.

    I’m sure you are also aware that Boris has slashed the percentage of new build flats that need to be “affordable” from 50% to 20%. The Mayor’s office is also looking into raising the threshold on the designation of “affordable” to 80% market rate.

    I can’t see the Tories winning over any voters via HTB.

  45. @MR BEESWAX

    “@Carfrew Wake up and smell the coffee +VAT. Have ye no considered that we may have entered a pollster vortex whereby the four planets in orbit are doomed to equilibrium in which any policy that nudges in one direction is only countermanded by a gravitational pull in another?”

    ———

    Indeed Mr Beeswax, I have not only considered the possibility, but have in the past volunteered the view that numerous moves by a main party that might affect VI are immediately countered by a move by the opposition, and vice versa, thus leading to a bit of a stabilising effect on polling.

  46. £800 per year, or £65 per month better off, which isn’t too bad if one is on minimum wages.

    That might just pay for the increased fuel and food bills……….

  47. @Statgeek

    More than offset by huge cost of living increases in transport, energy, housing and almost every other indirect tax you might care to mention.

  48. Please can we get away from people justifying whether policies will win any votes or not* based on their own personal opinions of whether they are any good or not and try and use some actual polling evidence.

    (*Not that individual policies necessarily have much impact on voting intention, but at least try use some objective evidence)

  49. “Don’t forget the more than 50% increase in the tax threshold (or tax code, to differentiate it from the higher thresholds). It’s one of the better things that’s come out of the last 4 years (for low earners).”

    Although the LibDems will undoubtedly argue that they should take the credit for that, not Osborne.

  50. @RAF

    So we should ignore it then, or highlight it? Should we ignore that under Labour it rose less than 20% in their first four years, despite rising costs in all the areas you mention?

    I’m comparing like for like between two governments. On this issue, the more recent one has been more generous, or less stingy. 54% in four year so far, versus 72% in 13 years (16.5% in their first four years).

    So £800 better off per year if on minimum wage of £6.50 (from October). Instead of £900 per month, that almost £965 per month. Net income increase of 7%.

    I would prefer if the threshold was pegged to minimum wages (perhaps 90%?), but it’s far better than it was.

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