A couple of interesting YouGov findings in yesterday’s Sun and this morning’s Times. Both had questions about perceptions of the state of the economy, and both showed a stark decline since earlier in the year. Regular readers will remember that there had been a pattern of the public still being pessimistic about their personal finances, but becoming more optimistic about the state of the economy as a whole. That appears to have changed.

In the YouGov Sun poll poll yesterday 25% of people expected the economy to get better in the year ahead, down from 39% in March. 32% expected it to get worse, up from 23% (tabs here.)

A similar poll for the Times RedBox done a day later found the proportion of people thinking the economy was either on the way to recovery or showing signs of recovery was down to 40% from 50% in August, and the percentage of people thinking the economy was getting worse was up from 13% to 22% (tabs here.)

Both questions were run prior to the government’s Autumn Statement, and while I doubt many people actually watch it the media coverage of the economy over the last few days may yet make a difference – either positive or negative. Beyond that, as with most political events, I wouldn’t expect the Autumn Statement to make much difference.

432 Responses to “Falling economic optimism”

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  1. Labour


    If the Blue Team need cheering up, they can always look across the floor. Labour would give anything to have spent the last few months becalmed. Instead, they collapsed dramatically after the Tory Conference to 33%, and after stabilsing for most of November they’ve started falling again.

    How low can they go? Nobody knows.

  2. http://i.imgur.com/DqgQ9zP.png

    Like the Tories, their problems are largely down to retention: LD -> Lab churn has fallen slightly, but by far less than the 2010 Labour vote. Despite the exciting increases in the Green and SNP votes, the big October drop in Labour retention was mostly down to Ukip, as you can see on the graph. It’s hard to tell at this point exactly what’s causing the current drop, but early signs point to the SNP.

    Thus far in this Parliament Labour have shown a very limited capacity to reverse losses (Ed Miliband’s energy pledge was their one success), so this situation is pretty dire for them, especially since it’s hard to chase voters scattering in three directions. If their position doesn’t deteriorate further FPTP will probably put Miliband in Downing Street, but they need to start thinking seriously about minority government or coalition.

  3. The Liberal Democrats


    If the Red Team need cheering up, they can always look back across the floor. Although they probably won’t spot Nick Clegg there, as he seems to be in hiding.

    While the Tories bob gently on the ocean surface, becalmed in the polldrums, their coalition partners continue their exploration of the abyssal plain. They fell off their 8% plateau at the end of August (Chris Lane was right, it was too high), and are now stuck on 7%.

  4. http://i.imgur.com/ZiAdJNA.png

    Underneath this bleak picture of electoral dooooom some fun things are happening on the Lib Dem churn graph. LD -> Lab switching continues to be greater than Lib Dem retention, although it’s falling. Meanwhile, the Tories, Ukip and the Greens are locked in a tight battle for second place in the “Hoovering up the Lib Dem defectors” contest. For the first time, the Greens have edged ahead. The nationalists have also claimed an increasing share of the 2010 LD vote, possibly explaining where some of those LD -> Lab defectors have gone.

  5. Ukip


    All is well in the land of Ukip, where breastfeeding women know their place and sit in a corner behind the fridge. After the exciting peaks of by-election season, they seem to have settled on a solid 16%, not earth-shattering stuff but easily enough to win them a few MPs with their regional concentration. So far there is no sign of a swingback to the major parties as the election approaches.

  6. The Greens


    The Greens are having a good year. Many of us predicted they’d fall back after the European elections. It hasn’t happened. Instead, they’ve been steadily ratcheting upward in the same manner as Ukip: up to a 4.5% plateau after the European elections, up to 5% after Carswell’s defection, and now up to a solid 6% after Labour’s October collapse. And it’s possible they’re still rising.

  7. http://i.imgur.com/1w1bvs8.png

    Where are all these Greens coming from? Most of them are former Liberal Democrats: the other leftwing protest party is at long last claiming its fair share of the Lib Dem carcass. They also got a lot of Labour defectors in November, although that flux seems to be dying back. And last but not least, don’t forget the Tories, who at current levels are contributing half as many defectors to the Greens as Labour. By “green crap”, did Cameron mean his voters?

  8. The Nationalists


    The big story of the past few months has been the rise of the SNP, and here they are, rising. It’s worth putting this in perspective: there just aren’t that many people in Scotland, so this meteoric ascent amounts to about 2% of the GB electorate. But that’s hell of a lot of votes in Scotland. And being a party that people actually like is worth something too, in this day and age.

    It’d be interesting to know how Plaid Cymru are faring, but for the moment I think we have to assume that virtually all of this movement is down to the SNP.

  9. http://i.imgur.com/q8zpRJr.png

    Where are they coming from? Lib Dems and Labour. Mostly Labour, although the Lib Dem contribution has doubled since September. Crickey, that’s a steep red line. I actually went back and checked it to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake. I hadn’t.

    Can Jim fix it by May? I doubt it.

  10. Don’t Knows and Not Voting


    Lib Dem and Tory Don’t Knows are holding steady. Labour Don’t Knows rose to their highest level all year after the October collapse and are now holding steady. After declining in the first half of the year, Not Voting from all three parties appears to have stabilised.

  11. @Spearmint

    Yes, you’re wittier. That drilldown tool of theirs is good eye-candy, but I get script error with all browsers except Opera (it doesn’ work in IE9).

    Cracking analysis. “Wir aw dooom’d”

    The SNP’s rise of 2% (23% regionally) is a stunning example of how voter concentration can win seats, make you third in seat in the Parliament, and piss off your political opponents. UKIP should swot up on that.

    All assuming that their VI translates into seat, of course.

  12. Statgeek
    Appreciate your point (see my targeting posts) but difficult for a Nat to target in Godalming.

  13. ‘The SNP’s rise of 2% (23% regionally) is a stunning example of how voter concentration can win seats’

    They are a regional party with a regional identity and motive (to turn the region into a country).
    This sudden surge supports a party also determined to join the EU and use someone elses currency no matter whose it is.

    That hardly seems a blueprint for UKIP.

  14. @Spearmint

    Thanks for the hard work. Excellent as usual and I feel far better informed (and entertained).

  15. @Spearmint,

    “But I like to think I’m wittier.”


    Would have to agree with that. Particularly liked tbe blue octopus thing. And good show with the analysis…

  16. @Hookeslaw

    I didn’t mean it literally. Being that it’s Friday night, I thought a little levity was in order.

  17. “All is well in the land of Ukip, where breastfeeding women know their place and sit in a corner behind the fridge.”


    I’m not sure you should be bigging up UKip like that, giving them another USP. (And giving guys on the board ideas…)

  18. Spearmint
    You have lifted my spirit, I had no idea things were that good.

  19. @Spearmint

    “It’d be interesting to know how Plaid Cymru are faring, but for the moment I think we have to assume that virtually all of this movement is down to the SNP.”

    There’ll be a Welsh Political Barometer Poll out shortly; recent trends show Plaid around 15/16% which is historically high for them for UK GE but not likely to win them many more seats (if any); the UK stats are as you imply very likely to be driven almost entirely by the SNP; bigger country, bigger party. Labour in Wales have also decided, at last, to go strongly against UKIP which robs PC of a USP to the left so they may shrink again

  20. Fourteen posts on the trot without an interruption. I’m pretty certain that’s a UKPR record for @Spearmint.

  21. @ Spearmint

    Outstanding analysis. Really enjoyed it, but my own experience sees Labour voters (Father in law, sister in law, brother) all going to the Greens because “at least they are socialists”. Cannot say I agree, but there you go.

  22. @Alec
    “Fourteen posts on the trot without an interruption. I’m pretty certain that’s a UKPR record for @Spearmint.”

    @Spearmint’s a rebel without a pause.

  23. @ Alec,

    Lol. It’s all these emerging parties, each needing its own graph. Back in 1950 I could have done it in four posts…

  24. @Artair

    Ironic really given that Ed is probably the most left wing Labour leader since John Smith.

  25. @Spearmint

    Anthony should really give you guest contributor status and your own monthly post for your churn report. Too good to get lost in the comments.

  26. @ Richard,

    Aw, thanks. :) But don’t worry, I think this one ate up too much of Page 6 for anyone to miss it.

  27. I don’t think Labour need to worry, even on present polling and my reasoning would run as follows.

    Despite Labour’s fall-away over the last six months, there remains an anti-neo-liberal consensus among something approaching 40% of the electorate, possibly more. If Labour are to lose in 2015, this 40-ish per cent must splinter ‘at the poll face’ to a greater extent even than current polling suggests it has. But what the entire consensus has in common is its fierce opposition to the neo-liberal, small state philosophy, and this unifying factor makes it likely that a great proportion of that 40% will vote tactically.

    E.G. I live in Taunton. The LD leaflets say, “Only a vote for the LDs will unseat the Conservative candidate.” This isn’t speculation, it’s as near fact as a prediction can possibly be. Will the socialist voter flirting with Green stay with Labour, follow its principles and go Green, or take the LD option in spite of all the damage such a voter will perceive the LDs to have done in the last four and a half years? I know where I’d put my money if i were taking a bet.

    I don’t think there is any evidence of a balancing anti-socialist consensus between Tory and UKIP voters, is there?

  28. The Green voters that I know tend to be middle class and politically aware. Does this make them more likely to vote tactically than say UKIP voters?

  29. PS the ones I know will vote ABT and ABU – it would be interesting to know the views of Greens other than the 3 I know!

  30. Perhaps that should be ABTorU?!

  31. @Spearmint
    It’s actually 5 months to the election – not 6!

  32. “PS the ones I know will vote ABT and ABU”

    I think that’s the gist of the green lib core in the places they can no longer win hence their initial drift to Lab but at the end of the day I’m not sure green libs see Lab winning as them winning really hence their gradual drift to Greens. If they can’t win as Libs then they might as well not win as Greens.

    It might be different on the day – hard to tell.

    On the other hand I’d have thought the green libs who live in Con-Lib seats that still remain will carry on voting Lib and the red libs in those seats will likely carry on voting Lib also even if they say Lab to national polls (unless in their seat it looks like Lab could win).


    where they can’t win green libs -> Lab -> Green (but on the day who knows)

    where they can still win green libs stay Lib

  33. @nameless – keep going. Win the seat. You’re on the ground- so you know if the seat has become a winnable marginal. I did it in the locals in a non key but strategically important ward. We got a councillor elected.

  34. GE projection found on the Conservative Home website here, http://instinctif.com/insight/can-any-party-achieve-a-commons-majority/, which I haven’t seen mentioned on UKPR.

    As it’s dated 19th November excuse me if I’ve just woken up. Actually, I have.

  35. @Spearmint

    Just wanting to join in the general vote of appreciation for yesterday evening’s graphic work – not the artistic content, of course, but the analysis!
    Many thanks!

    And being a nationalist, I have to find fault in the comment about turning ‘a ‘region’ into ‘a country’ – we are a nation already, with our own regions, thank you very much! What we are not is independent.

    Otherwise excellent work.

  36. @MrJones

    “Cool, so we agree then that deficit spending might add money to the economy in the short term but takes it out in the long term (through debt repayments) *unless* the borrowed money makes a profit?

    (directly or indirectly i.e. a sewage system might not make a profit (in tax terms) directly but might indirectly through fewer sick people -> more money made -> more tax)”


    As explained, you won’t be getting much of a return on the deficit if much of it is being used to cover interest payments rather than being injected into the economy. And if the deficit is being used to cover a shortfall – say a drop in tax revenues and increase in welfare costs in a recession – rather than providing new money as a stimulus, then again returns will be limited. But you’re kinda getting there…

  37. @Stutter

    Thanks for that link. Presumably a good few folk are now setting about serious analysis of the current polls and potential mayhem come the GE if things remain more or less as they are at the moment.

    The tone of the piece indicates that the writer(s) have given up all hope of a Tory majority. Even Pressman seems to have quietened down a bit of late….

  38. @Carfrew

    and don’t forget that fewer sick people might help relieve pressure on NHS budgets…..

    One of Whitehall’s biggest consistent failures is the lack of joined up thinking. This is replicated, of course, across the whole of the UK – and is just as prevalent in Edinburgh as anywhere else……. and does immense damage to our financial situation IMO.

  39. @AW

    Are we still not allowed “IMO”?

  40. Any news from Old Nat? – or did I miss something?

  41. @RAF – “Ed is probably the most left wing Labour leader since John Smith.”

    Smith was generally considered to be from the “old right” of the party, though that didn’t stop him setting up the Commission for Social Justice in 1992. (He appointed D Miliband to lead it, and many of its recommendations were implemented under Blair).

    Smith was Hattersley’s campaign manager for the leadership in 1983. (Hattersley was Healey’s campaign manager in 1980). Like many on the “old right” Smith was never going to join the SDP, but politically he did have a lot in common with Jenkins, Williams, Rodgers et al.

  42. Billy Bob,

    All true, but many of the Old Right (Hattersley especially) went on to criticise Blair from his left flank. The lie of the Old Right was in the name – they were centre left.

  43. Spearmint

    Very nice summary of where each party stands at the moment which I agree with and thanks for it. However I do not agree with many of your comments on the possible situation going forward., but i guess that’s no surprise to you.

  44. Lovely bright frosty morning :-)

  45. @ Spearmint

    I can’t keep thanking you every month for these graphs but they are fantastic for clarity and understanding. The best thing I’ve seen on this site from a poster (although RogerMexico also deserves credit for his drill downs).

    In the words of a poetical 1970’s football commentator Spearmint milks the applause that she so richly deserves!

  46. @John B

    Oh yeah, I’m all for investing to save more in return. That’s why I mentioned the flood defence thing the other day. Spend 2Bn quid to save 30Bn. (This idea ought to be clear from my occasional asides about Thorium)…

  47. Colin

    Yes, bare twigs sparkling with frost in the sunshine. I fed my birds at 7.30 this morning. The robin comes bouncing along as soon as I open the back door. Rose-ringed Parakeets on the nut feeders this morning.

    Another of those “great to be alive” days.


  48. @mrnameless

    I’d probably put Smith alongside Mandelson in terms of their attitudes to business/the EU etc.

  49. The Other Howard

    Rose-ringed Parakeets on the nut feeders this morning.

    They come over here. They take our nuts and seeds…

  50. Sometimes I despair of hearing any sense from the various economic commentators, especially those thrust in front of the tv cameras. If wee Georgie wants to reduce public spending to 35% of GDP over 5 years then all that is needed is for public spending to remain at its present level plus inflation. Assuming the growth forecast is more or less correct then GDP will rise by 15% in real terms over the 5 years and that will take care of it. It means that the government has to be careful but Armageddon it ain’t.

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