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. So, the first weekend poll out of the traps and no sign of any Autumn Statement bounce for the Tories.

    Changing the subject a little, but returning to something often debated on these pages, I thought Martin Kettle wrote an interesting piece in the Guardian yesterday. He was giving his thoughts on why the Conservatives were still performing poorly in the polls, and in actual elections, despite a number of political and economic factors, on paper at least, turning appreciably in their favour. We’ve often discussed this ourselves on UKPR, and opinions understandably differ on both the diagnosis and prognosis. In fact, some feel there isn’t even an illness to diagnose!

    Kettle, a long time Coalition supporter, and by no means any longer a Labour tub-thumper, felt that Britain was now a Labour Nation and no longer a Tory one. He argued that “the post-Thatcherite mood that swept Tony Blair to power had still not receded” He thought that It was a “mood that embraced regulated market capitalism alongside a fair deal and a fair chance for all.” He went on to argue that “Much of what the Labour governments achieved gave those voters what they wanted; some of what those governments did fell short. Time has moved on, as it always does. But this remains in many ways the mood of Britain today, a generation on, and crucially the coalition has done little to alter it.”.

    This is something that I’ve detected too when I’ve spoken to people on doorsteps, who aren’t intrinsically or naturally Labour-leaning and who may even had turned away from the party in 2005 and 2010. They had or have no residual hostility to Labour. Those 13 years in power, that ended so abruptly almost five years ago now, contained few horrors for them.

    Kettle quoted a former Minister too, and there’s much truth and sagacity in both the encouragement and the criticism that he gives; ““The country would prefer to live under a Labour government. People want permission to support Labour. But Labour is not doing enough to give them that permission. In some ways it is denying it to them.”

    I think there’s something in this analysis that points to where we are today and explains why the polls are the way they are. Others of course, will have different diagnoses and explanations, but this wasn’t a self-serving or partisan analysis by Kettle. The article contained strong reservations about Labour’s current performance and their ability to form a strong and effective government should they win next May, but I think the gist of what he said was entirely plausible.

    Certainly food for thought.

  2. @Crossbat

    Most of Lab’s time in office coincided with a massive credit bubble (1998-2008).

  3. We’ll need to see the Opinium tables to understand the economic question & the way it’s been answered.

    My hunch is the Tories are trusted to look after ‘their’ voters when it comes to the economy whereas Labour & left leaning voters don’t trust Labour to change the economic ‘game’.

    One thing we can take issue with, is the Observer spin i.e. the “crucial” economic issue. If it’s “crucial” & Labour are miles behind, how come they have a 5 point VI lead?

  4. Amber
    I don’t know what in the link gives trouble. Giving one link does not normally cause a rejection.

    Anyway, there is no link to tables in the article, so I suppose they keep those back on the Opinium web site a wee while.

    (See, I can speak Scottish too).

  5. @ Howard

    I think Anthony still has a blanket ban on linking to the Graun. :-(

    [Actually that can probably go again now. I have put it there a couple of times when I get an outbreak of people constantly linking to news stories with no relation to polling just because they are bad for the party they don’t like, or give a negative story for the government. I’ve repeatedly asked people not to do this. The vast majority of such links go to the Guardian, so it’s better to moderate the behaviour than the people… but the people doing it have ultimately not taken the hint and ended up being moderated anyway, so I may as well take the limitation off. It’ll go back if people go back to “bad story for party I don’t like show-and-tell” – AW]

  6. Amber,
    How nice to hear from you.I also think it is very odd that the Conservatives have this huge lead In economic competence,perhaps the autumn statement
    will change things somewhat

  7. AW (and Amber) on links

    Is that right what Amber just wrote? Whatever is the point of that?

    A in W

    The Cons don’t have the lead. It’s the lead on a provided question, by *most* voters, and that is because the majority of voters are not favourable to Labour (66% in this case, and that 66% is excluding don’t knows and won’t votes). The majority of *Labour* voters will think otherwise (as we will see when the tables are visible). It is true that Labour voters are less keen on voting in a partisan fashion, but we have to remember that does not stop them having a Labour VI.

    I think I’ve made this point before, sorry for the cracked record. To be consistent, it’s the same with the other issues, such as NHS, the combined views are, significance-wise, just a torn sail flapping in the wind.

  8. I have just checked what Opinium was saying at this stage in the last Parliament. There were two such polls within a few days in late November/early December 2009 and both gave the Tories a 7% lead – a margin which closely matched the actual outcome five months later.

  9. BTW I can’t remember whether these percentages about competence include or exclude the DNs and WVs, but you get my drift. If they do include them, my point is ever strengthened.

  10. Try this…
    Check out @MSmithsonPB’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/MSmithsonPB/status/541313553463255040?s=09

  11. That’s the economy pie chart.

  12. Alex Salmond to stand in Gordon, Aberdeenshire in the GE

  13. @Raf

    “Alex Salmond to stand in Gordon, Aberdeenshire in the GE”

    I thought Brown was standing down?


  14. If Rosie and Daisie could opine for thselves (rather than as Croftie’s sock-puppet backing barkers)I’m sure they would say Croftie has a better grip on the economy than next door’s Dalmatian .
    But they’d vote Dalmatian

    AW’s modding is the only (very faint in my opinion) clue as to his allegiance and it’s nevertheless a minor blemish on this site.
    All his articles are beautifully balanced and calibrated so as to conceal his preference

    Those who misinterpret his tolerance as permission to bark their allegiance are the reason some of us rarely post now. The academics are the only ones I read in detail, though I love the repartee when it is funny

  15. According to The Website That Must Not Be Linked To:

    Alex Salmond to run for seat in 2015 general election

    for Gordon (natch). No formal announcement yet just the usual ‘sources’. [Tries hard not to wear smug ‘I told you so’ face. Fails.]

    The piece actually says:

    YouGov samples of 1,103 people in Scotland have the SNP leading Labour by 46% to 26%, with the Tories on 14% and the Liberal Democrats on 6%.

    which sounds as it it was a separate poll or possibly a re-weighting of existing sub-sample data. There’s nothing on the Archive though.

  16. johntt

    Yes, I know what you mean.

    More arbitrary than anything else I feel.

  17. Howard,
    Well that is interesting and to a certain extent comforting.

  18. RAF
    Pie chart
    Yes that’s what’s on the link I gave. Proves my point, more than somewhat, and that’s without seeing the tables.

    I just put this in another way 68% think that someone else than the Tories would be ‘trusted to handle the economy’ or they don’t know.

  19. @ Amber

    One thing we can take issue with, is the Observer spin i.e. the “crucial” economic issue. If it’s “crucial” & Labour are miles behind, how come they have a 5 point VI lead?

    I agree. Issues trackers tell us the economy and immigration are the main issues, they also tell us that the Tories and UKIP are the best on those issues, yet actual voting intention does not follow that.

    I think Jayblanc’s post earlier covers it, along with the Ashcroft post in CH. It comes down to values, which is not reflected in issues trackers. If the election is going to be fought on the economy and immigration, it is Labour’s to lose, as that is not going to swing voting intention, as long as they don’t lose their values lead in the process.

  20. Thanks Paul (I see through your pups) but do you appreciate that I equated you with GO and the daftest dog breed with E M?

  21. And Nigel F loos the sort of Mutt you could trust with your stash of bones

  22. Looks

  23. JTT

    Oh. It’s just a coincidence that next door have a Dalmatian then?

  24. Maybe the answer is that some voters trust the Tories a little more on the Economy but not enough to over their preference for Labour.

  25. Snazzy new rosette and lapel stickers designed tonight. It’s fun playing with Photoshop. Anyway, if anyone’s been watching the Trumpton silliness, you could do worse than following my contribution, @TrumptonSDP.

  26. Opinium article with link to tables is here:


    (Yes I’m shocked too – they’re quite well hidden)

    The actual economic question is Which, if any, of the following would you say you trust more to handle the economy?

    David Cameron and George Osborne 32%

    Ed Miliband and Ed Balls 18%

    Nick Clegg and Vince Cable 5%

    None of these 32%

    Don’t know 13%

    So the Tories are as popular as barring the entrance to Downing Street to a lot more than Andrew Mitchell’s bicycle.

  27. The apparant relapse in SNP activity in NE Scotland since the referendum could be related to Alex Salmond taking time to decide where to stand.

    This is bound to have had a knock-on effect among the other Westminster SNP candidates, none of which seem to have been yet been decided for NE seats.

    Meanwhile the chosen candidates for other parties for been very busy bombarding the electorate. From our Tory candidate, who may end up as the only Westminster Tory from Scotland, we`ve just had a useful calendar for 2015. Which is somewhat more acceptable than the usual glossies.

  28. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11277677/Tories-plot-to-succeed-David-Cameron-as-polls-tighten.html

    Agree with others regarding the oddness of automatically banning one paper’s links but none others, but Newcastle beat Chelsea today, so I’m not bothered.

    The above is a Telegraph story reporting the latest ‘poll’. It would be much more informative if they could report a VI poll alongside the wisdom index, which would give us greater knowledge about how the two diverge, but the most fascinating thing about the story is the headline – “Tories plot to succeed David Cameron as polls tighten”.

    The article talks of plots to stop Boris and stop Osborne. I guess all parties have internal tensions and individual ambitions to deal with, but it’s a surprise to see this hitting the press now.

    It makes me wonder how much resilience there is with Tory ranks were we to see a crop of polls with healthier Labour leads.

  29. Roger M
    Thanks for the link and I suspect we have collectively done to death what could be swallowed by undiscerning poll watchers.

    I don’t really know what question would not raise my hackles. Oh, I know.
    ‘Who are you going to vote for in your constituency, if there were an election tomorrow’.

    That’s all that matters really. I would present the voter (online or otherwise) with a ballot paper facsimile and with the names and parties on it. If not yet decided, I would put ‘to be nominated’.

    Unfair? Not really, the parties’ fault for not getting their act together. They would soon get on with it!

  30. Where has the money gone? That is what the Beatles asked when their financial affairs were in a muddle, and they had lost their manager.

    What about the Nation’s money today? You may like an article, which is not politically partisan which appeared on 26 Nov.

    It is easy to summarise. You may know this. First the growth in national income is coming from government spending and household consumption rather than from business investment. The article gives an easy to read graph taken from the latest statistics. The publication of the statistics is the reason for the article.

    Second, the share of employees in national income has moved to lower levels. In the 1950s and 1960s it was a 64 per cent share. Now, it is around 58 per cent. A lower share of national income for employees means a higher share of national income for company profits. However, the higher share for company profits does not seem to have produced high business investment.

    The article is by David Chu the economics editor of the Independent, The title of the article is “A Bothersome GDP Breakdown”. You can read it on the the Independent web site. The graphs are easy to read, and they are taken from the latest statistics.

    To give a simple example, years ago the large industrial corporation GEC, run by Arnold Weinstock, made profits, but could n’t find anything to invest the money in. Therefore they just kept a big cash mountain which kept growing. I don’t if that is what is happening.

  31. New YouGov according to Twitter –

    Con / Lab 32 / 32
    UKIP 17
    Green 7
    Lib Dem 6

  32. “To give a simple example, years ago the large industrial corporation GEC, run by Arnold Weinstock, made profits, but couldn’t find anything to invest the money in. Therefore they just kept a big cash mountain which kept growing. ”

    Funny enough that’s just what I do. It’s in the upstairs reception room and I actually call it cash mountain.

  33. FWIW a 12.5% swing from Coalition to Labour since 2010 GE.

  34. @Wes
    Thanks. Whose twit, pls?

  35. JOHNTT

    @”AW’s modding is the only (very faint in my opinion) clue as to his allegiance .”

    An interesting conclusion. I broadly reach the same one, but I suspect for very different reasons to you :-)

    Which probably supports the idea of “balance” lol.

  36. @Alec

    “It makes me wonder how much resilience there is with Tory ranks were we to see a crop of polls with healthier Labour leads.”

    And what will happen if they lose the election.

    I spoke the other day with someone who always votes Labour or Green. This time he is hoping for a Tory win. His reasoning is as follows.

    Whoever governs after the next election will face such an economic mess that they will inevitably disappoint their supporters and infuriate their opponents. And so they will lose the election after next. In the Tory case they will also get rid of David Cameron and shift decisively to the right. The result will be a government after the next election but one that destroys the welfare state, leaves the EU and leaves us with South American levels of inequality.

    I have no intention of letting this scenario influence my next vote but I find it disturbing nonetheless,

  37. Rosieanddaisie if the Dalmatian became a border collie the polls would read different
    Colin I read you more in the hope of a laugh than of (SNIP ;) )
    seriously, best wishes and respect to you.

  38. JOHNTT

    If you like a laugh & you read UKPR much, you must be in need of an oxygen mask :-)

  39. I wonder what seat Anthony is planning to stand in?


  40. R and D
    I can’t relate to ‘Coalition’ in terms of swing. Many of the LD voters who voted to give it a 23% were hoping for a Lab /LD coalition. So the result of the opposite is seen when you look at Spearmint’s excellent graphs. (I wanted to say thanks to her, so have now worked that in).

    It would be interesting to see what would have been the result, had there been a Lab /LD coalition. In other words how many disappointed LD voters would have swung right.

  41. Colin , I use the mask before I visit :)
    Latin for mask is of course “persona” as I’m sure you know Colin

    Personality is a big factor in this field of polling. Perhaps your research capability might extend to providing lists of personality traits (which swing votes) and comparisons with character traits (which clearly don’t)?

    Looking forward to reading your balanced report (if you can be bothered to play along with me)

  42. @Charles – I think your friend is daft. If anyone seriously thinks they can foretell political outcomes 10 years down the track they aren’t overly intelligent, in my view. There is a difference between identifying the likely issues and pressures (although even here, forecasting is pretty poor) and how events specifically pan out in response to them.

    It’s equally possible that a Tory victory in 2015 []
    Equally Labour could win, the global economic conditions could stabilise and growth do enough of the heavy lifting such that voters feel comfortable voting them back in after 5 tough years. Or perhaps this might happen to the Tories.

    Or perhaps Labour will win and be crucified.

    Or perhaps Farage will hold the balance of power, get photographed eating live lizards, have his head boiled by the press, government collapses, Labour sweeps in, declares war on Russia to distract from the economic problems, Scotland wins the world cup and Caroline Lucas is exposed as the love child of Lord Lucan and Imelda Marcos.

    I just don’t know, and neither does your friend.

  43. JOHNTT

    Very appropriate for attendance at a Masque.

    I don’t have any polling research capability & I’m no longer sure ( if I ever was) of what swings votes with what I call voters-and what Howard calls………..other names.

    My balanced report this evening is :-

    ComRes-Bloody awfull-Tory Party Dead etc etc ( read CB11 & Alec for details)

    YouGov-Hmmm ?????

  44. @JohnTT

    Time to put the bottle away and go to bed I think!


  45. Well Danny Alexander did say this was in so many words,the last big roll of the
    Coalition dice before the GE.If that is so….

  46. @Howard – “I can’t relate to ‘Coalition’ in terms of swing.”

    Try bebop.

  47. There are indeed some unusual postings this evening. I can’t compete, not that I was attempting to do so.

    I must put out of my mind Alec’s fantasies. Goodnight.

  48. Colin
    Oh well
    There’s prevailing mix of people who will say in may
    A The people have spoken, the bstardes
    B The people have spoken, but the country will never stand for it

    Who are we to judge?

    Re persona I would expect

    A sense of love
    Social approval

    Re character traits:

    Self control
    A sense of rationale
    Tactical nous

    Not polling analysis per se and some traits overlap , but it might be helpful to find distinction between personally and character traits when comparing ed with dave, nick inter alia

    I recogn

  49. I recognise the logic of voting George but I prefer the empathy of (whoever)
    Sorry, iPhone issues

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