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. @Roger

    Indeed, and I expected that in at least one reply. Osborne will take some of that credit. If he’s as smart an operator that everyone keeps saying, he’ll notice that the threshold increases are one of the fairest ways to give lower earners a better deal.

    @AW

    If referring to any of my posts, I wasn’t applauding one government versus another, so much as highlighting that it is a good thing in itself (rather than as a political point). I’ll endeavour to make my next post purely about polling, and hope those that take exception to my points do likewise. :))

  2. “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.”

    ———-

    We’ve been a lot closer to full employment and can do so again… part of the role of government is to counter negative external issues and take advantage of positives.

    Following the Second World war we had a couple of decades of doing fine with closer-to-full employment… even during the oil shock of the Seventies the government helped keep unemployment in check and industry surviving. Once government abandoned that role, unemployment shot up.

    Also it is not just about jobs but how much they pay…

  3. [Snip]

    Although this is probably exactly the sort of conversation our good host would prefer us not to have.

    So who else shares Statgeek’s views on Steam? If Carfrew’s government is going to ban VAT on storage, the Spearmint Rainbow Dream Party is definitely going to legislate so that any game you buy can be installed and played on your computer without forcing you to log in to an obnoxious, money-grubbing intermediary.

    My favourite Steam experience was when Steam forcibly installed an update that made the whole programme crash every time I tried to load it, and I had to go online and learn how to hack it and rewrite the code by hand to debug it because they couldn’t be bothered to release a patch. A* customer service there, Steam!

  4. Or it might be a random correct survey.

  5. I think it’s questionable whether raising thresholds is the most effective way of helping the poor. It’s not a targeted benefit and most beneficiaries will be the better off.

  6. @SPEARMINT

    “So who else shares Statgeek’s views on Steam? If Carfrew’s government is going to ban VAT on storage”

    ———-

    Carfrew’s government would do things properly and go further to ensure the building of more storage, to help push the price down and cater to the increasing demand from small business, who find it an easy way to get on the ladder running a web-based mail order business etc.

    Can’t comment on the Steam thing since I lost track of games after Master of Orion…

  7. @ Anthony,

    Wait a sec, the whole previous page is people waxing lyrical about their personal opinions of Treasury policy, how come theeeeeey didn’t get snipped? No fair! *pouts*

  8. Carfrew,

    The unemployment rate rose over the ’70s, despite the efforts of various governments, and it was only as low as it was because of incomes policies that proved to be unsustainable every time they were tried.

    No-one really knows why unemployment was so low in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, but it seems unlikely that government macroeconomic policies were responsible, because (a) governments spent most of the period reigning in demand rather than stimulating it and (b) macroeconomic stimulus on a colossal scale failed to keep unemployment under control in 1970s, in the UK and elsewhere.

  9. (Even before the oil shock in late 1973, it was apparent that the old Keynesian remedies weren’t working anymore and the structural models of the economy were no longer able to predict events with any accuracy.)

  10. “My favourite Steam experience was when Steam forcibly installed an update that made the whole programme crash every time I tried to load it, and I had to go online and learn how to hack it and rewrite the code by hand to debug it because they couldn’t be bothered to release a patch. A* customer service there, Steam!”

    ———

    There’s probably someone in a coffee shop who could have fixed that for you. It’s not all discussing philosophy in Vienna, not that I would be averse to that…

  11. @ Carfrew,

    True. If only I liked coffee. Alas, as things stand I am left with buggy software and uncool iPod playlists.

  12. @Bill P

    Obviously if you ensure closer to full employment (with decent wages) you will have more demand, and while it may be true that economic models may not be able to predict everything, this is distinct from the point that one can do things to preserve employment because we even restrained the hit from the oil crisis until abandoning the effort.

    There is no fundamental reason governments cannot enhance employment, and indeed create whole sectors, eg you are using the internet – developed through state funding – to try and tell me the state cannot create employment viably.

    Business cannot predict everything but can still create jobs, ditto the state. Some endeavours will fail, as with business. But overall, you can create more jobs.

  13. @SPEARMINT

    “True. If only I liked coffee. Alas, as things stand I am left with buggy software and uncool iPod playlists.”

    ———

    Tbh, most of the gals I know do not love coffee as much as me. But many establishments do a Chai latté which appears to be adored. Many of the guys I know would rather move on to a bar…

    If you like soul and funk, a recent tip from a local barista is the “You’re a Melody” mix from DJ Floating Point, on Soundcloud…

  14. @Bill P

    The full employment of the post war period is not hard to understand. In those days we had proper housing programmes, for example. We could have one now, reduce house prices, cut the benefit bill, give the state some assets and… create employment.

  15. Other than Tony Benn, Labour has been invisible recently. Looking at links on the Guardian’s politics page…

    George Osborne:12 (4 pictures)
    Nigel Farage: 8 (3 pictures)
    Vladimir Putin 8 (1 picture)
    Nick Clegg 5 (3 pictures)
    Iain Duncan Smith 2
    Tony Benn 1 (1 picture)
    David Cameron 1 (1 picture)
    Michael Gove 1 (1 picture)
    Esther McVey 1
    Alex Salmond 1

  16. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead at three points: CON 34%, LAB 37%, LD 11%, UKIP 13%

  17. Anthony

    Some here consider your policy to be that discussion of English/Welsh polling on Macbethian issues (and therefore any vaguely connected comment about political parties in Scotland) are wholly acceptable to you.

    Only discussion of attitudes in Scotland, to the dominant political issue in Scotland would be banned, were their interpretation to be correct.

    It’s your palace. You make the rules, but if you are simply an arbitrary despot, then your palace would be little more than a disreputable hovel.

    A little clarity would be useful. Lacking that, I will feel free to respond to Alec’s posts.

  18. Carfrew

    I agree we can get closer to full employment, but it can take quite a while to regenerate the skills base of this country to match the demands of the current world.

    Post war we had a very respected system of apprenticeships which meant when we needed people to go build stuff, we had the people with the skills to build stuff.

    Now far more jobs in IT/coding are required and we don’t really have a system to give people the skills they need to fulfil the demands of the country.

    Without these changes there always will be a structural problem leading to underemployment, added to the fact that jobs for life mean that people now move around a lot more (If someone changes jobs every two years and spends 1 week “between jobs” that represents a 1% unemployment rate)

    Even when the recovery is complete, I think the way the world is today means unemployment will be higher than full employment in the 50s and 60s, trying to push unemployment down to these levels will have a large inflationary effect.

    Absolutely the government can do everything about the largest part of unemployment either through expenditure or tax cuts (both will and have worked in the past). I’d like to see it happen as quickly as possible, without spooking the markets about our commitment to a shrinking deficit. Unemployment is falling, the markets still believe in our plan (at least as well as the alternatives around the world) to reduce the deficit, inflation is being kept under control. I hope as the pressure from the deficit eases further tax cuts* can be implemented to finish the job of getting to full employment.

    *I also have no issue with expenditure on public goods, provided the benefits outweigh the costs.

  19. Maybe a crossover poll will not appear in this period?

  20. “No-one really knows why unemployment was so low in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s…”

    I think more than a few economists might disagree with you there (while not agreeing with each other either).

  21. @RogerH
    ‘Given that 1959 was the last time Newcastle returned a Tory MP I don’t think Osborne’s political instincts can be that accurate.’
    Not so – The Tories had Newcastle MPs as recently as the 1980s.

  22. @R Huckle

    So it seems the 1% leads are off and the 7% leads are off. I’m tinkering with a 25-poll weighted MAD spreadsheet at present. It throws back a MAD average of:

    Con 34.0%
    Lab 37.8%

    Lead of 3.8%

    Which is fairly close to the average of 1% and 7%, so will we call it 3-4%, depending on which polls are included and the methods used?

  23. @BlueBlob, Amber

    I can’t mention what blob meant when I were a lad. It would make me go red rather than blue.

  24. It was a blip then, not a shift.

  25. STATGEEK

    Looks to me like the Budget has taken the lead from over 5 to under five.

  26. @Roger H (6.42)

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

    It must be at least 15 years, if not more, since the Tories had a seat on the Newcastle Council

  27. the budget certainly helped the tories, but the media have the memory of a goldfish. ozzy osborne who is now lauded as the greatest political strategist of all time, was the same man who presented the 2012 budget which was, politically, the worst budget in living memory and initiated the two years in which the tories have not been ahead in a single poll. I can’t think of a single budget which had such an adverse and chronic effect on polling.

    If crossover doesn’t happen this week, I think the tories are in deep trouble. UKIP will get a mini boost ahead of the euros.

  28. Best political strategist of modern times was undoubtedly Tony Blair. I agreed with him on little but he knew how to get what he wanted. Osborne is no Blair.

    Osborne is a tactician, good at generating positive headline policies but seems to lose it a bit on shifting political ground. Cost of living and the NHS seem to still be huge issues, and they’re ones where the Tories are less comfortable than taxes or the general ‘economy’.

  29. @ Guymonde

    “I can’t mention what blob meant when I were a lad. It would make me go red rather than blue.”

    Yes we had better not go there, I have memories of the term myself.

  30. Peter – crossover would only be an MOE thing anyhow.

    As per Colin the shift has been 5+ to 5- on YG.

    If it is 3% a couple of 1 or 25 cons leads may appear I guess.

    IMO apart from a small impact on morale it matters little if a crossover or 2 occurs but the possible modest fall in Lab score to less than 38% on YG seems to have occurred which is the main marker for me.

  31. @ Colin

    “Looks to me like the Budget has taken the lead from over 5 to under five.”

    That settles it then. Osborne is a genius

  32. “As per Colin the shift has been 5+ to 5- on YG.”

    But presumably we need a run of similar polls to judge whether this is a new steady state or there is still a bit of post budget movement to come before the numbers settle again?

  33. I had wondered whether UKIP would continue to slacken off but it doesn’t look like it. Just like the 1983 SDP effect, this maintenance of UKIP support is the clue to the 2015 GE, albeit that it looks as though the strong Lab support will see them through – as it stands of course.

  34. Hollande has gone for a Blairite, inevitable I suppose. The decisions had already been taken on the economy but perhaps this new government is the unlikely casanova’s last fling?

  35. @Alan

    No one says there aren’t any challenges involved in job creation at all. But business creates jobs routinely. It is not like trying to travel to Alpha Centauri, or getting Macbethians to appreciate that it’s no good demanding that the currency be considered a shared asset when not prepared to do that for the oil, something the UK invested in.

    Perfectly normal challenges get hyped as being insurmountable odds, eg the economic prediction thing. Clearly jobs are created despite this. Neither is globalisation an insurmountable barrier. In fact, it creates challenges and opportunity. More competition, but also… new markets to sell into.

    We had a similar, in fact worse problem after the war, when we were forced to open up our Empire markets at Bretton Woods, and we couldn’t compete because we had been bombed really rather a lot, over half our industry had been repurposed for the war effort and we had little money to repurpose with. Still had two decades of rising prosperity and plenty employment though.

    But… it is not all about exports anyway. We can create a fair amount of employment at home, by investing in things that bypass globalisation for the most part, e.g. housing, flood defences (we have great tidal resources, and need flood defences… we could address both with lagoons and create employment). Various infrastructure projects can not only create employment but by increasing business productivity can attract investment and help business compete overseas.

    This is all stuff the government can do without having to compete directly in the global thing. Then there is supporting R&D… we put £50m into graphene, others are putting in many times that. Yet graphene was discovered here. Graphene is a goid bet because versatile: lots of potential spin-off.

    Then there is the stuff where not much competition because it doesn’t suit business in the shorter term. Thorium has a lot of potential, but it is not in business’ interests to pursue it. Why invest in it when you already have a technology which coincidentally allows for healthy charges on fuel processing that Thorium wouldn’t. This is where the state has to step in and fund it till ready for market, then they can sell it on. Business couldn’t fund the space thing either, but boy has business benefitted.

    Then you can back nascent sectors with potential, where we have a lead. E.g. we are rather good at micro-satellites. In short, creating jobs may not always be trivial, but it isn’t rocket science, except when they are building rockets, of course. Business does it all the time. There is ALSO the matter of PRESERVING jobs in a downturn. Like in the Seventies, and like the Americans more recently saved their car industry. We shouldn’t have been losing sectors to temporary adverse conditions. Especially where lots of other jobs depend on them. We saved the banks this time, but not enough of other business taken down by the banks.

    I agree, that more needs to be done re: apprenticeships and training, but again, this is not something insurmountable. We used to have lots of apprenticeships…

    re: public sector involvement, equally I don’t have some commitment to everything being done via the public sector… there are some things the state us better suited to, particularly the stuff we would like business to do but it cannot or won’t. And I would have issues if Cameron and Clegv were providing my playlists…

    Inflation is an issue as we reach full employment, yes. But there are ways to manage it, and anyway, even if we back off it a bit we still get lots of benefits from many more in employment with good jobs.

    And of course the growth that can come from investment can cover the impact on the deficit. How much did the coalition cut the deficit by initially? About £30bn. Which is about 2% of GDP. Which is the growth we had before we tried the cuts. Labour’s stimulus package was about 30Bn… the rest was covering the sudden shortfall in tax revenues and increase in welfare costs… i.e. not new money into the economy.

  36. Tonight’s YouGov is almost exactly in line with the UKPR polling average: Lab 37, Con 34, UKIP 13, LD 11.

  37. @Alan

    Or to put it more clearly, apprenticeships aren’t a dealbreaker: we used to have more and can do so again. There are many jobs the state can usefully provide that to do not involve much global competition. And the state has usefully done so in the past and other countries are still doing it, and business cannot or will not do all that is desirable, even when obviously possible and desirable. It may take a while but that is simply a reason to start sooner. And investment can assist with the deficit, and inflation can be managed… we have to do that anyway.

  38. @Carfrew
    I agree with a lot of what you say apart from the government propping up failing businesses. In the 70s, this led to billions being wasted on Austin-Rover or whatever they were called at the time, the coal and steel industries etc. In the last recession, banks should have been allowed to collapse. Keeping zombie companies alive benefits no-one in the long run.

  39. @GUYMONDE

    “That settles it then. Osborne is a genius”

    ———-

    He’s still not doing my playlists though…

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

    Not that it really matters, but it was actually 1983.

  41. @PETE B

    “@Carfrew I agree with a lot of what you say apart from the government propping up failing businesses. In the 70s, this led to billions being wasted on Austin-Rover or whatever they were called at the time, the coal and steel industries etc. In the last recession, banks should have been allowed to collapse. Keeping zombie companies alive benefits no-one in the long run.”

    —–

    There is a difference between propping up a failing business, and helping ordinarily viable businesses survive through adverse conditions. It is not the car industry’s fault if OPEC decide to quadruple oil prices then double them again a bit later.

    There is also a difference between propping up a sector and an individual rubbish business. Also… our firms have to compete with firms in countries where governments DO assist. And even a zombie firm may be keeping a lot of other business afloat. You have to consider the cost of propping up a firm against the cost of not doing so. As we saw after the pits went, jobs do not always easily return.

    In the early eighties many firms had to deal not just with high oil prices, high inflation and recession, but also swingeing interest rates, cuts, and a near-doubling of VAT. Even being a zombie firm in such conditions is an achievement.

  42. @Carfrew
    Those countries who prop up failing companies will suffer from lack of competitiveness. It is better to let failing businesses go to the wall than to pump taxpayers money into them. If failing businesses are allowed to fail, the useful staff and management will start up new companies or put their talents to use in profitable companies, thus benefitting the whole country.

    If the idea of propping up obsolete industries had always been followed then we would still have flint-axe manufacturers, wheelwrights, stage-coach manufacturers etc.

  43. @ Carfrew

    Power to your passionate post of purple prose about ‘prenticeships, projects and partnership between private and public.

    I agree with everything you say except perhaps Thorium because I don’t understand it.

    IMO we took a catastrophic wrong turn in the 70s. Labour were in the end unable to deliver the reform that was plainly needed and we then spent the next two decades talking ‘post-industrial’ and simultaneously living off and being screwed up by oil whilst traditional industries were destroyed with zealous enthusiasm to make way for the new services paradigm.

    Meanwhile Germany – a nation with whom we have a lot in common – pursued partnership: between employers and workers; between public and private sectors; between financiers and the financed.

    I would add a little something to your prescription: when I was a lad there was something called the RTITB which took a couple of percent of Corporation tax and gave it back to companies if they trained people. I was personally trained and put through a degree by Ford – at no cost to the taxpayer other than forgoing a bit of Corporation tax and my boss subsequently in the motor trade was obsessional about having apprentices – to make sure those b*st*rds in the government didn’t screw him for extra tax. Talk about nudges….

  44. And even if we accept a firm is destined to always be a zombie even when conditions return to something less unfavourable, then maybe not just let it sink, reducing demand, having knock on effects to jobs and investment, but replace it with something better.

    (Especially in an era where it is more profitable for business to make money through inflated asset prices rather than creating new markets and jobs. Which is something else the State should do something about, instead of assisting with the inflating).

  45. @Pete B

    I anticipated your objection!! My last post addresses your concern…

  46. @Pete B

    “Those countries who prop up failing companies will suffer from lack of competitiveness”

    In what way? The ability of a company to run at a loss surely gives them a competitive advantage, since they can price their goods lower.

    And it makes sense for the state. The marginal cost to a country of propping up a strategically important business is the difference between the losses incurred by the business and the benefits that would have to be paid if the business went under. Very often, that will come out as a net gain to the state, at the same time maintaining demand in the economy and potentially improving the balance of payments.

    By a similar argument, one of the major deficiencies in competitive tendering is that the costs to the state are not factored in of poverty wages paid by those bidding for government. Contracts should be awarded taking *all* costs into account.

  47. @GRAHAM: “Not so – The Tories had Newcastle MPs as recently as the 1980s.”

    My mistake. The late Piers Merchant was MP for Newcastle Central 1983-7 (though he later joined UKIP).

  48. Worth comparing what ‘we’ did to BMC/BL/Rover to what the French did to Renault.
    I worked for Renault in the 70’s and it was every bit as much of a basket case as BL, losing £100M per month by 1984.
    Similar issues – interesting cars badly built, constant strikes (though there wasn’t much danger of anyone assassinating the head of BL, as someone did to the chairman of Renault)
    Today BL and all who sail in her is history other than some bits and pieces sold off to foreign companies which have since revived markedly, whilst Renault (though not without its problems) continues as a major manufacturer in its own right and also controls Nissan of Japan, Dacia of Romania and Samsung Motor of Korea. Oh, and the French govt still has a 15% stake.

  49. @ Oldnat
    “Bremner, Bird, the late John Fortune as well as their many fans would disagree with you about satire. [that it palls for mature minds]”

    Bird/Fortune/Cook created characters & helped pioneer modern political satire: which of course has changed nothing. Its targets — politicians, corporations, institutions endure.

    The remarkable recent boom in satirical stand-up draws largely on observational rather than political material: the comedians have one character: themselves. They can make millions from a tour by playing to predominantly young audiences & whose foibles they satirise.

  50. @Guymonde

    “Similar issues – interesting cars badly built, constant strikes (though there wasn’t much danger of anyone assassinating the head of BL, as someone did to the chairman of Renault)”

    It’s funny you should say that but Geoff Armstrong, then a Senior Executive of BL Cars, was kneecapped three times by IRA gunmen when he was addressing an audience at Trinity College Dublin in 1981. He was the keynote speaker asked to talk about the challenges of the British automobile industry specifically and the nation’s competitive challenges in general. He had only just started his presentation when three intruders in paramilitary uniforms and with masks and guns entered the auditorium from the rear of the
    speaker’s platform. After stating that what they were
    to do was on behalf of IRA activists who had been on
    a hunger strike, they shot Mr. Armstrong three times,
    attempting to destroy his knee caps.

    As for your comment “Today BL and all who sail in her is history other than some bits and pieces sold off to foreign companies which have since revived markedly,”, all I’d say is that Jaguar and Land Rover are rather more than bits and pieces, aren’t they? I could bang on about British Leyland and the UK automotive industry, having spent 36 years of my life working within it, but I won’t through fear of boring both myself and others.

    Tonight’s YouGov is more or less aligned with today’s Populus. Might point to it being about more or less right in the middle of MOE and, therefore, not far away from representing a true picture the current state of play, I would think..

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