The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is up here and has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%. There are some questions on the political leaders (particularly Ed Miliband in advance of this week’s Labour conference), but they show the usual pattern – David Cameron is more trusted than Ed Miliband on the Conservatives’ strong issues like law and order and the economy, Ed Miliband does better on Labour’s strong issues like the NHS. Ed Miliband’s own ratings remain mediocre.

On the Scottish referendum 32% think David Cameron handled it well, 54% badly. 25% think Ed Miliband handled the referendum well, 48% badly. Asked about English devolution 71% of people thought that Scottish MPs should not be able to vote on issues that affect only England (including the majority of Scottish respondents in the poll), 15% of people thought they should. On the Barnett formula there was a predictable result – English respondents thought it should be scrapped and Scottish funding reduced, Scottish respondents that it shouldn’t.

Survation also had a poll out today and found similar levels of support for some sort of re-arrangement of the constitution for England: 65% said that Scottish MPs should by banned from voting on English laws at Westminster, 59% would support an English Parliament. There is a crucial caveat though – Survation also asked what the top priority should be for the government – 31% said immigration, 20% the economy, 9% jobs, 9% public services, 6% combating terrorism and down on 5% constitutional reform. Don’t look at polls showing large majorities supporting English votes on English Laws and assume it also means people think the issue is urgent or important. It only means support is widespread, not that people necessarily think it should be a priority.


455 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 31, LAB 36, LD 7, UKIP 16”

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  1. Neil A

    I don’t know who you talk to in the Tory party but the circles I mix in want the NMW abolished.

  2. I’m thinking DC will be in for a tough time over the next few weeks from angry/worried Tory MPs and members.

  3. In a poll in today’s Mail On Sunday, in answer to the question ‘Who persuaded Scots to stay in the UK?’ the poll showed:

    Brown 26%
    Cameron 14%
    Darling 9%
    The Queen 8%
    Miliband 3%
    JK Rowling 2%
    Don’t Knows 38%

    There’s no doubt that Miliband in particular was just awful.

  4. @Neil A
    Re the Barnett formula, I don’t hear Scots saying they should get more money than the English. I hear some Scots saying they want full fiscal autonomy. Although I understand the Scottish Parliament already has the power to alter tax revenues.
    I prefer Spearmint’s analysis to yours and why should Scotland and Wales have their own assemblies in different locations elected by different voting systems while the English MPs double up.
    Sure the argument is that this saves money, but to make such fundamental changes on the basis of what is cheapest is shortsighted and cheese paring. Surely it needs more debate and a referendum.

  5. @Pressman,

    I’m agnostic really. I think that setting the NMW too high would do economic damage, but I recognise that without it employers would undercut local workers with foreign labour to an even greater extent than they do now. When the last government announced the level of the NMW, it was sufficiently low that I basically stopped worrying about it.

    There’s no doubt from the rhetoric around the last budget, however, that Osborne and at least some other Tories are cottoning on to the populist value of the thing.

  6. @Valerie,

    I actually agree with you. For me the best solution (short of ending devolution, which is not possible) is a new institution, in new premises, in a different city.

    I don’t mind if that’s a new UK parliament (in which case Merseyside would seem the obvious place) or a new English one (in which case probably somewhere near Birmingham. Coventry could use a boost – and some new architecture).

    What I am arguing though is that the parliament-within-a-parliament solution, if it was combined with an English executive, is perfectly feasible and would not cause anything like the problems Spearmint believes.

    I actually came up with another alternative 10 mins ago when I was doing the washing up. How about we keep everything the same as now, and rather than banning non-English MPs from voting on English matters, we allow English MEPs to vote in Westminster on English matters (but not UK ones). MEPs are hopelessly underemployed. They are elected by PR, on a regional basis. It would give a little bit of representation in Westminster to the UKIPs and Greens of this world, plus the occasional maverick. And due to PR the MEPs are never going to overwhelmingly one party or another, so it would be very rare for Labour to lose an England-only vote if they were in UK government. Elegant, eh?

  7. Spearmint,

    1) Thank you for the clarification, I see what you mean. But it would be completely unworkable: English Tory MPs could (and would) pass, in the English section of the HoC, a motion of no confidence in UK Health Secretary Andy Burnham. He would not be able to continue in his job.

  8. Survation: LAB – 33% CON – 30% UKIP – 23% LDEM – 8% GRN – 3%

    UKIP polling at same vote share the Lib Dems got in 2010…

  9. Neil,

    You’re onto something there.

  10. @Hal

    Surely only the UK section could affect vote of no confidence on a UK Minister?

  11. Neil
    Food for thought certainly. Funny how these ideas come when washing up, brushing teeth etc. must be something to do with water.

  12. The Survation poll for Mail on Sunday only polled in England & Wales.

    Tables >> http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Referendum-Reactions-Results.pdf

  13. @NickP

    “Do you think a UK Thatcher Government wouldn’t have dissolved a Labour English Parliament or at least block it from doing anything collective?”

    This is a central issue. Not only what the appropriate democratic devolved structures are, but how to embed them so that they can’t be reversed the first time they are inconvenient to the UK government.

  14. Jim Sillars: “Let Yes assert new indy rule – no more ref – majority votes and seats at Holyrood 2016 enough #the45”

    Bleedin ‘Eck. Speaking of Eck, it seems weird that Jim’s basically directly contradicting the head of the Yes campaign.

  15. @MrBruno

    “The promise of a protracted constitutional convention will simply not do it.”

    I think it will do very nicely, although no reason why it’ll be protracted. Cameron’s option is superficially attractive but won’t survive close examination.

  16. 10 years or so ago, when Blair was using Scottish MPs to impose unfavourable policies on England (top up fees, foundation trusts) that didn’t effect their constituents, in the face of an English back bench rebellion, I would have agreed: EV4EL now, sort out the knotty issues later. However in light of the likely outcomes in the next election, it could cause havoc.

    English voters would be using one vote to vote for effectively two legislatures with separate responsibilities leading to the kind of paradoxes outlined above.

    Then consider a couple of not unlikely outcomes. Firstly a small Labour overall majority for the whole of the UK, but falling short with only English constituencies. They’d be reliant on confidence and supply from a rump Lib Dem party, which would likely be leaning more to the left, plus possibly Caroline Lucas, George Galloway and any others, in order to implement most of their domestic policies. In my view this would be quite exciting an might lead to a more consensual politics.

    On the other hand consider a hung parliament with a Labour plurality in the UK but with a Conservative plurality or majority in terms of English seats. It could mean a Lib-Lab coalition not being able to implement most of their domestic policy. Alternatively if it was Lib Dem choice of coalition party, might they choose the Conservatives on the grounds that that would be the only combination which would result in a Government working majority for most policy areas? Would this not entail Engand imposing a continued Lib-Con coalition on the whole UK?

  17. Re Neil A: ”How about we keep everything the same as now, and rather than banning non-English MPs from voting on English matters, we allow English MEPs to vote in Westminster on English matters (but not UK ones).”

    Interesting suggestion, but it still leaves things unbalanced between the various regions of the UK, doesn’t it? Unless of course the MEP vote also determined representation in the Scottish, Welsh and Irish assemblies as well. That would indeed ensure MEPs did actually do some work, however, as you said.

    I go with Spearmint’s argument at the end of the last thread, and – following that through – the problem with EV4EL becomes the cabinet, surely? Say Labour won a GE with Scottish and Welsh support. The new PM appoints a Labour Health Sec. If, however, Tory MPs effectively control health spending, a Tory MP should be Health Sec, which is a recipe for stasis – as when the Republicans prevented Obama from setting a budget in the US for a dangerously long time.

    A Labour PM could throw in the towel and say to the Tories, ”Go on, you control the English spending accounts;” but what happens when the majority of Labour MPs demand revenge. The whole country stalls.

    Mr Cameron will be egged on to push for this recipe, I am sure, but he’s not looking beyond electoral advantage in the shortest possible terms. My imaginary scenario may be ill-chosen, I’ll be the first to admit that. I’m thinking ‘on the back of an envelope’ – and please no more fag packets, they’re history – as well. But if we can all come up with possible problems in a day or so, the dog-eat-dog world of politics will sure as hell produce some monstrous ones in no time at all.

  18. @VALERIE

    “Re the Barnett formula, I don’t hear Scots saying they should get more money than the English. I hear some Scots saying they want full fiscal autonomy.”

    Even without the benefit of the Barnett Formula it’s London that does better than anyone else with 124% of ‘UK average identifiable expenditure”. (Scotland, thanks to Barnett, gets 117%.) And it’s Northern Ireland (at 127%) which benefits most from Barnett.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnett_formula

  19. @ Neil A,

    The only way that a UK government and an English government could interfere with each other is if the UK government used block grant funding to try and interfere with the English government’s decisions. ie Labour trying to interfere with the Tories. Do we really think that is likely?

    Yes! As I explained, Scotland is different because it’s too small to matter much even to Labour, so messing with the English budget to screw the SNP via the block grant makes no sense politically. But England is the keystone.

    So, the Tories run into an emergency like an ambulance crisis, or the Education Secretary blows all his money on a pet project and finds he’s short of primary places. They then run to the Treasury demanding more money for the block grant. The Labour Chancellor either a) gives it to them, creating moral hazard for their irresponsible budgeting or b) refuses to give it to them, the crisis gets worse, and Labour campaign on the terrible consequences of electing Tories while the Tories campaign on how the Labour PM is refusing to help in a crisis. Either way, it’s a bad outcome- the good outcome is for the Treasury to enforce discipline on budgeting but have the flexibility to deal with an emergency. But this politicises all the funding arrangements in a way that rewards bad actors.

    Watch any FMQs and see how much time Salmond or Jones spend blaming the UK Government for anything that goes wrong, and then imagine that with the two executives competing for the exact same seats. It’s a recipe for a finger-pointing, accountability-blurring mess. The beauty of the current system is that George Osborne doesn’t want to spend any money but for his own political survival he needs Jeremy Hunt not to fail. Break that link- and EV4EL would, in whatever form it took- and you create perverse incentives.

  20. Hannah

    Nail on head. The Cameron proposal is more or less designed to hobble any future Lab UK Govt, but to give a free run to a Tory UK Govt.

    As I said earlier, someone like Cameron who performed so admirably on the Oxford PPE course must be able to see the constitutional and democratic problems here. In fact, I can’t think why it wasn’t the first idea that came to mind when he started considering this proposal.

  21. HIRETON

    Thanks.

    I was trying to find the rationale for the official Tory line which seems to be Barnett will fade in importance as Devo + kicks in. My only conclusion was that as more taxes are raised by Holyrood, offestting adjustments were made to the block grant.

    I heard Joel Barnett interviewed today explaining what a short term stop gap it was supposed to be!-and now three UK party leaders have guaranteed it in perpetuity I believe. And without consulting Parliament.

    I believe and hope they will be reminded of this when the voting starts. They will certainly be reminded that Barnett himself thinks they had no right to make that pledge.

    To be honest I think the whole system of allocating funding to LAs and Devolved Administrations is a dog’s breakfast .

  22. Mike Smithson

    “SNP take 16% lead in post-IndyRef 2016 Holyrood election (const) from Survation has %:- SNP 49.2 LAB 32.7 CON 13.4 LD 3.4 UKIP 0.2 GRN 0.6”

  23. PAUL A

    thanks.

    Andrew Neil was on to it though & suggested the resultant marginal tax rates to Ummuna-who looked non-plussed & said he didn’t agree :-)

  24. Hannah,
    “On the other hand consider a hung parliament with a Labour plurality in the UK but with a Conservative plurality or majority in terms of English seats. It could mean a Lib-Lab coalition not being able to implement most of their domestic policy.”

    But isn’t the point that the UK government wouldn’t have much domestic policy? If there is large-scale devolution to Scotland, and presumably similar level to England (and let’s not forget Wales), the UK government would just be left with foreign policy, defence, and what else?

  25. @Hannah,

    “A Lib-Lab coalition not being able to implement most of their domestic policy” – that’s the whole point isn’t it? Why should a UK government have a “domestic” policy for England when they don’t have one for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

    You’re highlighting the issues with simple EV4EL, but they are resolved by creating an English executive.

    @RogerH

    You really want us to not even start resolving this until almost a year’s time? The constitutional convention is simply a device from Labour to try and ensure that they are in government when the decisions are made, and can therefore impose their will. If I had any confidence that the “convention” would put all available options to the electorate I might agree, but I am 99% sure that Labour will not allow any proposal which they don’t think is to their benefit, even if the opinion polls show overwhelming support for it (in fact, especially if that is the case).

    The issue is complex, yes. But a convention is not going to magically find a perfect solution that satisfies everybody. It will simply consider all the proposals, dismiss all the ones it doesn’t like and plump for strengthened local authorities but with no actual balancing devolution for England. Which is what Labour want anyway.

  26. @Oldnat

    I’m not surprised.

    It feels like the ‘vow’ made was significant, and already DC has tried to add on an additional condition, and that had led to a Con/Lab squabble.

    I wonder how many late yes to no switchers would like to go back and change their mind?

  27. Mr N
    Re Survation poll you quote above. No record on the Survation site, interested in fieldwork dates, any pointers ?

  28. @Paul A (& @Hannah) –

    “Well spotted – I’ve often thought of that irony, the “Peoples Party”, many of whose members and voters are more concerned with Health, Welfare and Social Services issues will be in control of the Defence of the Realm and the highest economic policies while the more traditional of the two main parties, largely supported by the military and financial establishment will be deciding on Bin collections in Gateshead and hospital organisation in Godalming!”

    This sits well with the point I made on the last thread – that Cameron’s idea of a HoC committee for English affairs disenfranchises the English compared to the Welsh, Scots and N Irish.

    They get two votes – one for national affairs, and one for UK matters. They can and do vote very differently. [In fact, they get three votes, give the electoral system for national elections, which again are often used differently].

    I may wish for a Green MP to manage national matters, but a Labour one for UK affairs. I don’t get that choice. We would be electing one MP to do two different jobs.

    It is such a completely dumb idea.

  29. Is there some reason not to start the constitutional convention tomorrow? That has to be better than having Hague look at everything in secret.

    Anyway, unless the Lib Dems cave- and they probably won’t, differentiation strategy plus Lib Dems love a good constitutional convention and would hate to miss a chance to hold one- Cameron can’t pass anything. So it’s going to have to wait for the next Parliament regardless.

  30. @Spearmint,

    If a Tory run England gets itself into trouble with bad spending decisions, then it should live with the consequences. It would be wholly immoral for the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish to have to cough up more cash, or underwrite more borrowing, to support England’s mistakes.

    Your assumptions are based entirely on the belief that the English, because we are daft t***ts who sometimes stupidly vote Tory, can’t be trusted to run our country’s domestic policy. I obviously don’t share that view, but even if I did, I don’t think it would be grounds to treat England as “special”.

    I don’t doubt that on the rare occasions that the English and UK governments were controlled by different parties, there would be name-calling and backbiting. But that’s not the same as gridlock.

    @Robin

    I’d like to see the GE that produced a Thatcherite Tory UK government and a Labour English government.

  31. The constituents of West Lothian are, and are going to remain, citizens of the United Kingdom.

    They are as entitled to use the health services, schools, universities and roads in England as anyone else in the UK. Why should their MPs not be able to vote on public services in England until such time as the English people decide that they want to have proper devolution?

    The answer to the question “Why should the MP for West Lothian be able to vote on matters in England which if there had been English devolution would have been devolved to an English Parliament?” is very easy. –
    “England has not devolved any matters to an English Parliament, it does not have an English government, nor an English cabinet, nor an English First Minister. Until that happens and while all these matters are dealt with by the UK Parliament and UK government, the MP for West Lothian has the right to vote on English issues. “

  32. @Killary

    I am entitled to use Scottish health services, schools, roads etc.

    I look forward to my postal vote for Holyrood 2016.

  33. And in point of fact, opinion polling suggests that the English do want their own devolution. Labour just don’t think they want it enough to justify giving it to them.

  34. @NEIL A

    Like it or not, your proposal isn’t going to happen before an election (if ever). All MPs of the current Parliament were elected to the same job. Cameron has no mandate (or sufficient votes) to remove powers from one group of MPs. It certainly wouldn’t get through the House of Lords.

  35. On top of everything, Cameron’s solution is complicated. Not in theory, no, but in practice, yes. People would lose track of who was responsible for what (that was a Spearmint point too, I think) and feel even more detached from politics than ever. And a UK Parliament is even more complicated. I think.

    Despite the anomalies, I suggest, we should kick this one well into touch and do absolutely nothing – at least until a trouble-free alternative becomes blindingly obvious.

  36. @RogerH,

    There we can probably agree. Labour and the LDs have the votes to stop Cameron implementing his plans. They will then be hoping the English electorate aren’t really bothered about this. They may well be right.

    But this discussion is about what the right solution should be, not so much the party political realities.

    If there is a compromise, it should probably be a convention starting work tomorrow, with a motion passed to put proposals to a referendum in England with 12 months, and a commitment to include an English parliament as one of the options.

  37. @Bluey

    There are no “trouble-free alternatives”. This trouble has been caused by Scottish devolution, as was explained and predicted by opponents from the outset.

    As for the confusion re: who is responsible for what, that is already an issue. OldNat has to remind us half a dozen times per thread that when we are talking about “health policy” we are talking about “English health policy” and when we talk about the “Health Service” we are talking about the “English Health Service”. I am not sure the need to explain to the public how their country actually (already) works is such a problem. English structures would actually make it less confusing not more.

  38. Survation poll
    http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Where-Next-for-Scotland-Tables.pdf
    according to Scotland Votes, would see SNP gain 5 seats, Labour lose 3, Tories lose 2 compared with 2011.

    For Westminster 2015, Lab 38.6%, SNP 34.7%, Con 18.4%, LD 3.4%, with Undecided / Refused removed.

    BUT of all those answering 45.9% are undecided as to how they would cast their vote and only 7.9% said they would not vote, compared with 21.2% who said they didn’t vote in 2010.

  39. Neil – UK MPs, including yours in England, have decided that the best way for a part of the UK to make decisions on health etc is for a devolved parliament to make them.

  40. ”There are no “trouble-free alternatives”. This trouble has been caused by Scottish devolution, as was explained and predicted by opponents from the outset.”

    Sure, Neil A, but is it much of a trouble, honestly? Scottish devolution came about because a lot of Scots wanted it – and the constitution proved malleable. It may not prove double-jointed though.

    The simplest solution is leave well alone in the short term. If the situation causes real problems – and there’s absolutely no evidence as yet that it will – then deal with it in the simplest way possible when that actually happens.

    The issue has been hanging about for ages because it’s not very significant, I suggest.

  41. Neil A

    “half a dozen”? 5 at most. :-)

    I want the State in which I live to be well-governed. Since I’m now stuck with the UK as that State, I’m keen to see the structures properly constructed so as to avoid needless difficulties.

    Of course, if England is incapable of constructing a proper democracy for itself, within a UK, the English might want to campaign for independence for England, in which they can ignore all these difficulties that including the other nations creates.

  42. @Neil A

    “and can therefore impose their will”

    Aren’t you forgetting the House of Lords?

  43. Pressman – “Pete, it won’t be just the press. It will be business and celebrities. The latter will be important in influencing the younger voters – ‘if Miliband wins I will leave the country’ etc…”

    Does that still work? I think it’s more likely people will shrug and say “See ya!” Especially if it’s a celeb that doesn’t pay their share of tax (i.e. all of them).

    I think you mistake why people are interested in celeb lives. It’s not because they “worship” them. It’s because they enjoy seeing them screw up and humiliate themselves. There’s a massive dollop of schadenfreude involved. Look at all the biggest stories – they highlight the flaws – cellulite, wrinkles, wardrobe malfunctions, failing marriages and so on. People like seeing celebs in pain or in trouble – makes ordinary people feel superior. Having them spout political stuff is just another excuse to laugh at them. Did Russell Brand manage to persuade the Scots that voting is a waste of time? I rest my case.

  44. The arguments against EV/EL, as made by Hannah, are compelling, but is it claimed that these will be sorted out by having an English executive, with English MPs at Westminster fulfilling two functions, a UK-wide one as at present, plus also being members of a de facto English parliament based in the same building?

    If there is to be a separate English parliament I would much rather it had its own buildings and own members. Not least because if the English Westminster MPs were to act as members of an English parliament, that would mean that the English parliament was the only one of the four whose members would be elected by FPTP rather than by PR – a constitutional anomaly in itself as well as a fix in favour of the Conservative Party.

    It has also been questioned whether it would be workable for one of the four federal units to be as large as England. If this does happen, the responsibilities need to be clearly defined. I have no objection to the alternative, dividing England regionally, but this problematic as well given that regional assemblies were rejected in the 2004 NE referendum.

  45. @ Neil A,

    Your assumptions are based entirely on the belief that the English, because we are daft t***ts who sometimes stupidly vote Tory, can’t be trusted to run our country’s domestic policy

    Not at all, and I have to say I think that’s rather unfair- I’ve been engaging with you as if you were arguing in good faith for the setup you felt was in the best interest of England rather than trying to secure an electoral advantage for your party, and I’d appreciate it if you extended me the same courtesy.

    My assumptions are based not on my view of the virtues or vices of any particular party or nation, but on the (well-substantiated) belief that politicians tend to put party interest before the national interest if you create a system that rewards them electorally for doing so.

    The EV4EL problem would be even worse if Labour were the English majority/UK minority party- they could blow their Health budget in the first year, demand extra funds from the Treasury and then accuse the Tories of trying to wreck the NHS if the Chancellor refused, with reasonable confidence that they would be believed in the ensuing slanging match. But I didn’t use that example because it can’t arise in the current political landscape.

  46. Neil A

    How about we keep everything the same as now, and rather than banning non-English MPs from voting on English matters, we allow English MEPs to vote in Westminster on English matters (but not UK ones). MEPs are hopelessly underemployed

    Not possible. As Wiki explains “[…] it is now European law that a member of the European Parliament (MEP) may not be a member of the legislature of a member state”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_mandate#United_Kingdom

    It means if a member of the Lords is elected to the EP, they have to take leave of absence.

  47. Neil A

    The only thing that was truly a GLC-only responsibility was the LFB, which had to have a new authority created just for it (the LFCDA).

    Heavens no! There were dozens of the b*ggers. Wiki says ‘over 100’ though I assume that includes the 32 Boroughs plus the City. And of course none of them elected except those.

    Some of them were only temporary, but the sheer amount of bureaucracy that the abolition created was notorious at the time. It wasn’t helped much by the London Boroughs being in a particularly ‘cats in a sack’ mood in the 80s.

    It’s also worth remembering that the main emotional reason for abolishing the GLC was how much it offended Thatcher just be being there across the river from Parliament. How much easier to abolish this unnecessary thing and replace it[1]. Imagine how much worse it will be with your opposing institution in the same building.

    [1] It was envisaged that it become a hotel serving the international super-rich. It ended up with a mixture of touristy uses (some of them not particularly up-scale – the London Dungeon, a Premier Inn) and large amounts are unused or became derelict. While of course New Labour erected a new expensive ‘iconic’ building elsewhere. Some may see all this as symbolic.

  48. That footnote wasn’t very clear – I should have specifically said it referred to County Hall:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_County_Hall

    which in the early 80s was much bedecked with banners aimed at annoying the inhabitants of the Houses of Parliament diagonally over the Thames.

  49. @NeilA
    I was enjoying reading your posts and contribution to the debate.
    Not sure why you should suddenly accuse Speamint of painting Tories as ignorant t…s.
    Unfair of you.

  50. PRESSMAN

    You and yours are going to have to run a very long and voluble campaign to get this English parliament uppermost in peoples minds leading up to the GE. If not then Labour will be more than happy to kick the issue into the long grass and keep their advantage.
    Milliband needs to be forced to answer why he thinks that Scottish labour MPs should vote on English matters. And if he won’t answer the question, then keep asking it.

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