This week’s YouGov results for the Sunday Times are here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 32%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%. This is a second YouGov poll in a row showing a three point lead. That could possibly be an impact from a week spent on the topic of tax avoidance, but equally it could easily just normal random error spitting out a couple of polls with above average leads in a row.

Most of the rest of the YouGov poll concentrates on that issue: HSBC, tax avoidance and evasion and party funding. Public opinion is predictably hostile towards HSBC – 80% think it’s unacceptable for banks to actively help their clients avoid tax, 75% unacceptable for them to turn a blind eye to clients doing things to avoid tax. By 71% to 15% people think that HSBC should face criminal investigation.

Blame for allowing banks to assist clients with avoiding tax is fairly evenly spread between Labour and the Conservatives. 21% think the last Labour government was more to blame, 14% that the current coalition government is more to blame, but 44% think both equally. Looking forwards, Labour have a lead on which party would do the most to tackle tax avoidance and evasion – 23% to the Conservatives’ 16%, though 50% of people said none or don’t know, suggesting little real faith in any of the parties to address the issue (compare and contrast this to the ComRes poll yesterday that showed Miliband and Cameron equal on 31% on the issue – that may be the effect of asking about leaders rather than parties, or perhaps it was because YouGov made it easier for people to say neither).

Moving onto party funding the public are critical of both the Conservative’s reliance on business funding and Labour’s reliance on Union funding. By 48% to 30% people think Labour should try and reduce Union funding, by 52% to 25% people think the Conservatives should try and reduce their business funding. More broadly only 24% of people think that donors give money purely to support a party, 68% think they do so also (19%) or mainly (49%) in the hope of getting something in return like honours or influence. Around two thirds of people would support a cap on business and trade union donations, 51% would support a cap on individual donations to political parties. There is little support though for state funding – only 19% would support taxpayer funding with 59% opposed. Even a forced choice between the current situation of a labour party getting trade union funds & a Conservative party getting business funds or a system of state funding, people would prefer the status quo by 63% to 37%.


284 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 35, LD 7, UKIP 15, GRN 7”

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  1. So the public don’t want state funding of the parties bit dislike them obtaining revenue from big business or the Unions. What do people expect here? They can’t run campaigns without dosh.

  2. To paraphrase The Thick of It:

    “People hate their politicians being comfortable. They don’t like you having expenses, they don’t like you getting paid, they’d rather you lived in a f***ing cave.”

    It’s only of the many unsquarable circles of British politics, alongside people wanting politicians who are exactly like them but also flawless in every way, and wanting lots more state spending but lower taxes.

  3. “…58% think they do so also (19%) or mainly (49%)…”

    Arithmetic error, I think should read 68%…..

  4. Mother knows best – “they are all as bad as each other” she tells me – which seems to be reflected in current polling on Tax Avoidance/Evasion. However site rules prevent me from revealing who she has finally decided to vote for.

    Perhaps the solution to funding is the very messy one – Unions ask each member is they are willing to join the political fund and pass over a donation to Labour (or whoever) – thus it is personal choice – and the same for business, shareholders have to agree to set up a political fund as a company policy, and also agree pro-rata (based on shares owned) to hand profits over to a political party.

    Clearly too complex to ever happen.

    However people with private fortunes surely have the right to use their money however they like, as long as it is publicly recorded on an open register – as happens now

  5. “Blame for allowing banks to assist clients with avoiding tax is fairly evenly spread between Labour and the Conservatives. 21% think the last Labour government was more to blame, 14% that the current coalition government is more to blame, but 44% think both equally”
    _____

    I’m not at all surprised at the findings and as I said on a previous thread, this latest banking stuff has a dirty trail leading back to the last administration.

    Better together? More like in it together.

  6. “However people with private fortunes surely have the right to use their money however they like, as long as it is publicly recorded on an open register – as happens now”

    Isn’t the problem precisely that people with vast personal fortunes are buying the political process, so that it no longer represents ordinary people? Policies copy pasted from lobby groups’ documents in to manifestos according to depth of pockets….? Hence ever increasing contempt for the whole system…

  7. @ Eric Goodyer,

    However people with private fortunes surely have the right to use their money however they like, as long as it is publicly recorded on an open register – as happens now

    No they don’t. One can’t hire an assassin, for instance.

    The law determines what’s legal or illegal to purchase, and it would be perfectly possible to make party donations illegal. It’s already illegal for private people to purchase political television adverts.

    Of course, rich individuals or businesses or unions would still be able to buy newspapers or commission polls, so they’d still have some influence, but it would be greatly reduced.

  8. ‘80% think it’s unacceptable for banks to actively help their clients avoid tax, ‘

    Hhmm I wonder how may of those people would find it ‘unacceptable’ if they had an opportunity to avoid paying income tax

  9. On the contrary, I don’t think the results here are a coincidence and even they do not show the full picture.

    In the end, DC may also pay a price for what many people see as anti immigrant and anti-EU rhetoric. Even people who wouldn’t vote otherwise, may now come out to support Labour(there is a campaign to get Polish and other EU nationals to vote-those who can).

    A huge number of votes are therefore being ignored because of UKIP.

    We will see.

  10. ERICGOODYER
    Perhaps the solution to funding is the very messy one – Unions ask each member is they are willing to join the political fund and pass over a donation to Labour (or whoever) – thus it is personal choice

    Perhaps I’m wrong but I believe that is exactly what happens now.

  11. @ Mikey
    “So the public don’t want state funding of the parties bit dislike them obtaining revenue from big business or the Unions. What do people expect here? They can’t run campaigns without dosh.”

    Reforming political funding is like reforming the House of Lords. No one likes the current arrangements but no one can think of a way out of the impasse. Parties can be funded by:
    (1) Small, but mass donations from Party members/well-wishers. No chance! When a dogs’ home in Manchester burned down last year, 120,000 people [gruesomely] donated £1.2 mill in 48 hours. Would any of them donate to a political party?
    (2) Large donations from the super-rich/corporations/trade unions.
    (3) The state.The public dislike this & neither Lab or the Tories favour it. Eg., why would the Tories wear it, given the current system gives them far more money than the other parties.

  12. ERIC WATKINS
    @ERICGOODYER“However people with private fortunes surely have the right to use their money however they like, as long as it is publicly recorded on an open register – as happens now”
    ……….
    “Isn’t the problem precisely that people with vast personal fortunes are buying the political process, so that it no longer represents ordinary people? Policies copy pasted from lobby groups’ documents in to manifestos according to depth of pockets….? Hence ever increasing contempt for the whole system”…
    _________

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Large donations can influence policy making and even get some into the retirement chamber in the Lords.

    I like the concept that parties can fund themselves but there really should be a cap on the size of individual donations in any one year.

  13. The Party funding question has been asked before and always gives the same answer. I’d like to see it asked with figures attached – “Would you be prepared to pay x pence a week to keep big money out of politics?” – because without that figure it’s all just big numbers to most respondents, wheras in reality politics is cheap here.

    I’ve no axe to grind on this issue. I’m a funding sceptic, but not a hostile one. I think the question asked without saying what it would cost to each voter is bound to provoke the answer it gets. Would anyone agree to buy anything without knowing the price?

  14. FUNTYPIPPIN
    “Perhaps I’m wrong but I believe that is exactly what happens now.”

    And was introduced as Labour Party policy by Ed Miliband.

  15. Re – the comments above about ‘can parties be funded by small donations’ – seems an apposite moment to mention that the Greens have just in the last hour hit their crowdfunding target to stand a candidate in every constituency.

    £72,500 is a long way short of the millions that can come from big business and the trade unions, of course. And whether this will ultimately be a good thing for the Greens or not is also open to question – standing more candidates means more risk that any given one will embarrass you; and also amplifies vote-splitting issues. All the same, it shows people can be motivated to donate to political parties in the right circumstances.

  16. @Oldnat / Peter / Unicorn (FPT)

    My data is generally saying no massive change away from the ‘norm’ in the Scottish polling. It’s just that the sample shrinkage is resulting in more volatile cross breaks more often.

    Even if we take today’s poll of:

    SNP 37
    Lab 26
    Con 19
    Lib 10

    UNS suggests seats of:

    SNP 32
    Lab 18
    Lib 6
    Con 3

    …and we know that the Libs are unlikely to get 6 seats in Scotland if all the others polling is to be believed. As Couper highlighted yesterday, the reality is probably between the highest predictions and the lowest ones, and I think today’s poll is in the lowest (for the SNP).

    Today’s UNS would have been laughed at five months ago, and today, we’re looking at it almost as a positive Labour result compared to other polls (doesn’t time fly).

    This poll seems to have given Lib +5 and UKIP +2, with SNP -5 and Green -2.

  17. Legislating on party funding is almost impossible. You can ban individual donations for example and make it tax funded – but then the donations will be channelled through party affiliated research institutes, think tanks, cultural foundations, etc. I don’t see how you can legislate against that.

    In a certain Asian country political donations are illegal. One of the war museums in that country received a large private donation. The director of that museum is the brother of the finance minister. It could be coincidence ….

  18. STATGEEK

    “Today’s UNS would have been laughed at five months ago, and today, we’re looking at it almost as a positive Labour result compared to other polls (doesn’t time fly)”
    ______

    It does especially when you’re having fun. :-)

  19. These figures do not show that the week has been a runaway success in terms of public opinion for the Labour party that some have been predicting.

    However, the discernibly more favourable responses on the issue of taxation for the opposition: Labour more likely to tackle the issue than the Conservatives, the appointment of Lord Green questionable – questions relating to the current political parties (rather than ‘the last Labour government’) could explain any possible marginal lead Labour have opened up.

    The other thing that comes out clearly from this set of data is that the banks have suffered another big dent to their reputation and that HMRC are seen as weak. I would expect aligning with big business to be less of a strategy for either party from here on in and that HMRC (and by extension the government that supervises them now) to be a target of concerted opposition attacks over the weeks ahead.

    Quick points – the opinions of the Lib Dem VI group are recorded but not Greens – I wonder how the latter have seen all this play out. Interesting as they have a strong propensity to swing to Labour according to polling.

    Ed Miliband is now on 58% approval with Labour supporters – some people here earlier were quoting the mid 40s as the level of backing. This isn’t great in comparison with the devotion enjoyed by other party leaders, but could it be the beginning of that party ‘getting behind their man’?

  20. Assiduosity

    A modest improvement in Labour’s polling is more than I expected as the news only rarely moves the polls.

  21. The public view on party funding is consistent when you look at it as them being unwilling to be forced to pay towards the parties, but unhappy that the parties can effectively sidestep the need for their funding by using special interest groups. It’s understandable, really. We’re supposed to be a representative democracy but only a tiny minority feel affinity with these parties enough to pay towards them. Even unions are looking increasingly likely to disassociate from Labour.

  22. @Hawthorn

    Agreed.

    We should always be mindful of the figures indicating how few people actually notice the news headlines – I think 11-13% this week were aware of the HSBC / HMRC tax story.

    In that context any movement at all, especially in such a tightly fought race, is noteworthy. If Miliband has motivated his own side and influenced the commentariat in their narrative on the likely outcome of the election that may prove as influential to the polls in the long term as the direct effect of this week’s headlines.

  23. Assiduosity

    I think you’re right…i think we obsess about minutiae since we are political junkies…the HSBC thing will have passed most people by.

    I have always thought that labour would benefit from a squeeze of the minor parties ahead of the election. there will be and has, i think been, some drift from ukip, greens and snp to labour….the tories’ only pool of support is really ukip.

    The greens are not polling as strongly as they were three or four weeks ago, when they hit 10% on YouGov and 11% on lord Ashcroft’s poll in the same week. Interestingly the yougov poll which showed the greens on 10% had labour on 30%, a low for that polling company.

    The slight extension of labour’s lead is coming from the squeeze of minor parties rather than a fall in Tory VI.

  24. Robbiealive
    Small, but mass donations from Party members/well-wishers.
    Why don’t union funds qualify as this?

  25. There was some discussion on here a week or so ago about whether, or to what extent Labour still had an in-built advantage due to the more “efficient” distribution of its votes. This seems to me to be at least as important as whether Labour is one or two (or three or no) points ahead.

    I can see that potentially racking up half a million votes in Scotland in return for half a dozen seats would impact its efficiency overall but that still leaves more than 550 seats where the advantage might still apply.

    If this advantage has been eroded, as some seem here to think, then is a Tories more votes, Labour More seats outcome still a realistic possibility?

  26. @Peter Crawford

    Per the previous discussions on here, I think it’s very tricky to predict where all the votes will go from any decline in UKIP support (if there’s much more to come). But I don’t think it’s all going to the Conservatives as some people have in the past thought!

    With the Greens, polling would surely suggest both that their VI group is a much softer target – up to half expressing openly that they may vote differently come the election – and that it’s much more likely to go to Labour (and possibly Lib Dem).

    The other factor in this is that now almost forgotten ruling that UKIP has ‘major party’ status, meaning they will get more coverage as a matter of course during the campaign but also that the Greens will get less, debates aside, we cannot expect and will not get a Green spokesperson on every issue every day.

    So when the public do tend to pay attention to politics and the news, during an election the Greens will be weaker in terms of profile than they have been recently.

  27. The Greens have been almost totally out of the news anyway since that membership spike. All I’ve heard from them is a couple of fake newspaper style leaflets left lying around the students’ union (as a diligent opponent of litter, I collected and recycled them, as I imagine they would want).

    I do wonder how they muscle their way in, really. I suspect their membership is about as high as it’s going to get before the election, and their previous jump in publicity quickly turned bad for them with that Natalie Bennett interview and some poorly received policy stuff.

    Their next, best chances are in the debates, if they go ahead. Natalie Bennett will have been spending a lot of time recently on media and debate training I imagine, so she may do okay if she can keep herself looking like the principled left-wing alternative some see her as and if Miliband does badly. As we saw with Clegg though (albeit not with UKIP) the New Kid On The Block vote can be quite limited in duration, and they may have peaked too early.

    It does look as though they’re made no polling progress since about summer last year. More of a #Greenhop than anything else recently.

  28. Are you one of the forgotten 81%?

    http://www.statgeek.co.uk/2015/02/forgotten-81/

  29. Its a shame for the Greens that Caroline Lucas is no longer leader because Natalie Bennett is nowhere near as able.

  30. Statgeek

    I fear you might be provoking discussion by all us pedants as to what actually is “the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.” :-)

  31. So, all the congratulations for Mr Miliband’s brilliant strategy is so much eye wash. The voters are, as per usual rather unimpressed with both ,major parties and if anything, see the last administration as being at least as steeped in unpleasant smells as the Tories. You don’t like the Tories being funded by BIG BUSINESS, ok. You don’t like the unions financing Labour, ok. We will put up taxes and fund parties from the revenue raised. ” No thank you”, they shouted loudly.

  32. I follow politics reasonably assiduously but I had never heard of the Pink Van until I read about it on this site. I must have blinked. [Even here it’s been a story pursued by non-Lab & esp. SNP supporters.]

    On women voting: Until 1997 the Tories had a small advantage among women voters: 1997-2010, Lab gained a slight advantage in this respect.
    However, the global figures disguise large shifts in the gender/class basis of voting.
    In 2010 the national swing from Lab to Tory = 5%. Among AB women it was -1%! & among C2 women it was +11%. [The respective turnouts for the two groups were 75%/58%.]
    This was part of a wider story. The swing to the Tories in 2010 among all C2 & DE voters was nearly 3x as great as among all AB & C1 voters. Thatcher was fabled for capturing the C2,DE voters: in fact Cameron did nearly as well. It was his failure to attract middle-class voters which deprived him of a majority: the proportion of AB,C1s voting Tory in 2010 was the same as in 1997 & 20 points lower than in 1979! The largest swing here was to the Lib-Dems & to “others”, not the Tories.

    Things have changed since 2010: tho we cannot assess detail/”churn” as pollsters show little interest in the class/gender bases of voting.
    1. Lab has a consistent but modest lead among female voters. If it holds in 2015, it would be the biggest Lab lead recorded in this respect [tho women DKnows are 2x as great as male, at about 18%.]
    2. Tories have largely held on to their AB,C1s, & Lab has made some gains here, tho 25% of this group have switched to others: UKIP, Green, SNP.
    3. Tory C2,DE support has withered, Lab’s support here has increased modestly, tho presumably collapsed in Scotland. UKIP now hold 15-20% of these.

    The Tories desperately need more female & C2, DE voters, but bizarrely make little attempt to attract them. Ditto Labour, who are making some appeal to women, but little if any to C2, DEs, esp. in Scotland; and none to green-inclined, ex-Lib-Dems & to AB,C1s.

  33. @Oldnat

    “provoking discussion”

    …on a Sunday!

    @Roland

    Why can’t parties be funded from members alone? What’s the problem with them staying within those means…I thought the point was to have the best policies, ideas and attitudes, rather than have the most cash to throw at a marginal.

  34. Allan Christie
    “this latest banking stuff has a dirty trail leading back to the last administration”

    I haven’t read all of the last thread, having jumped to this one.

    Not quite sure what you mean by ‘banking stuff’. Do you mean tax avoidance? If so, the Lab government introduced amongst other things the disclosure of tax avoidance scheme (DOTAS) which enables HMRC to target tax avoidance schemes.

  35. On a point of detail – for which Colin might well scold me – today’s YouGov findings were Lab 35.1 Con 31.5 – a lead of 3.6%. It follows that that if the lead – rather than party % shares – had been rounded Labour would have been given a 4% margin!

  36. its a reverse beauty contest. The public dont trust any of the major parties on issues like chasing up uber-wealthy tax dodgers – but this issue is considerably more toxic for the tories as they are seen by many as the party most willing to do the bidding of the super wealthy and this is reflected in the source of their donations.
    Milliband has made a lot more noise about getting the super rich to pay their share and this will play well with those voters they have lost to green and NOTA. The SNP defectors will be harder to tempt back I suspect.

  37. The voters are, as per usual rather unimpressed with both ,major parties and if anything, see the last administration as being at least as steeped in unpleasant smells as the Tories.

    Only when they’re told to. The question said: “Looking back over the behaviour of banks under the current coalition government and the last Labour government, which do you think is more to blame for allowing the banks to help clients avoid or evade tax?”

    So it doesn’t prove that this is a ‘bad’ issue for the current Labour Party.

    And, as with most political issues, it seems the benefit comes from raising the Party’s profile in the media, rather than being particularly sound on the specific issue.

  38. Unions ask each member is they are willing to join the political fund and pass over a donation to Labour (or whoever) – thus it is personal choice

    I thought that this was already the case. Certainly it was the case when I joined my current union about five years ago.

  39. Robbiealive
    “120,000 people [gruesomely] donated £1.2 mill in 48 hours.”

    Animal lovers were devastated to see the damage to the Manchester Dogs Home & the distress caused to the surviving dogs.

    The money was donated to help find the dogs alternative accommodation that would fulfill their specific psychological needs whilst permanent homes were sourced. Funds will also be used to help rebuild the home.

    Donations were given freely by thousands of us & most definitely not gruesomely !

  40. Amber

    “So it doesn’t prove that this is a ‘bad’ issue for the current Labour Party.”

    Quite right. Though it doesn’t “prove” that it is a good issue either.

    That’s not surprising since polling questions on issues never prove anything.

    They can be indicative, but even then only by trying to tease out the responses of potential swing voters from the noise of party loyalists shouting “My side is right!”

  41. I found the “gruesomely” being appended to the above comment quite bizarre.

    I can think of many weird ways that money is spent but that didn’t seem to be one of them.

  42. @Bramley

    Hear, hear.

    The gesture of those donations was a credit to our nation.

    I would amazed if anyone drew anything negative from it.

  43. So, all the congratulations for Mr Miliband’s brilliant strategy is so much eye wash.

    It clearly wasn’t a strategy, as it was Fink’s ineptitude that upped the ante and allowed Miliband a pr victory…

    Miliband has shown numerous times that he cannot sustain any kind of momentum, so i expect the polls to narrow in the couple of weeks.

    Miliband doesn’t have the rhetorical or persuasive gifts to sustain a solid lead. It is interesting that when he does badly, i.e conference, it is followed by labour struggles and when he does well, labour tends to do better. The individual performance of the tory leaders- cameron and osborne, doesn’t seem to affect their VI much.

    this tells me two things: a) the election is a referendum on miliband and b) labour would be cruising to a decisive victory under a more able leader.

  44. @ Old Nat

    I ‘get’ your point but…

    I used the word “prove” in the context of this site. Here, we are allowed to cite opinion polls as “evidence”, therefore I’d say it follows that “prove” is a reasonable word choice in the circumstances. :-)

  45. Re party funding, we need an independent commission to advise [hasn’t it already done so?] and, if it recommends public funding [hasn’t it already done so?] then tell the “public” [viz – commissioned opinion polls] to sod off and implement everything.

    The main two probs seem that the Tories have got loads more money so don’t want it and, as Mr B says, the public just moan about everything anyway.

    I do not want a situation perpetuated in which very rich people can skew elections; nor do most other people and that disaste should take precedence over any daft concerns about paying for party funding. My guess is that it would add little to the overall cost of the varied governance of the country.

  46. In Canada at a federal level we have strict contribution limits as follows:

    http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=pol&dir=lim/post2015&document=index&lang=e

    The Liberals introduced contribution limits on business and Trade Union funding of political parties of $1,000 per annum, but the Conservatives abolished funding by non-indiviiduals altogether.

    The Liberals introduced a per capita funding formula based on the number of votes over 2% for parties, but the Conservatives have phased it out.

    The Green Party received $1 million a year in state funding after the 2004 election (up from $20,000 in 2003), but last year raised over $3 million under this system of no state funding.

    It will be extremely difficult for a new party to break in to the new political funding system, but we have had a number of scandals in which some parties funded others in elections and our neighbours to the south have unlimited funding and spending.

    In British Columbia one donor gave over $900,000 to a political party for a Vancouver municipal election and that has resulted in new expense reporting legislation and spending limits will be in place by 2018.

    Quebec and Manitoba do not allow non-individual donations either, but there is some evidence that work arounds may have occurred in Quebec.

  47. @Statgeek

    …and we seem neatly back to the 2005 shares, but, crudely, with a ~15% swing from Lib Dem to Others.

    Majority governments achieved with less than 20% will hopefully help FPTP’s continuation to become untenable!

  48. @Peter Crawford

    There may be some truth in your assertion that:

    “So, all the congratulations for Mr Miliband’s brilliant strategy is so much eye wash.

    “It clearly wasn’t a strategy, as it was Fink’s ineptitude that upped the ante and allowed Miliband a pr victory…”

    But is it not possible in closely fought races that elections can be fought and won on such things?

    It may well be that one or a succession of ‘PR victories’ leading to a ‘short-lived lead’ for one of the two major GB parties is all that is required to see that party achieve largest party status and form the next government.

    If the increased voter attention of a campaign delivers even a fraction more VI volatility this effect would be magnified.

  49. @AMBER
    You can put my name when replying to my comments. I will not bite you. All the pedantry in the world, regarding the precise meaning of a word or sentence, does not alter the fact that 44% of people think both Labour and Tory are as corrupt as each other. For those who take a partisan view, 7% more ( 21% to 14%) think the Blair /Brown government was more corrupt than the present Tory led coalition. Therefore, my conclusion is, Labour has no moral high ground in the eyes of the people on this tax avoidance issue. However, IMPO [Snip – please, let’s not get into some pointless exchange of “look, your tax avoiders are worse than/same as my tax avoiders – AW]

  50. The previous YouGov poll that had Labour on 35% (9-10) had UKIP on 13%, Green on 8% and LD on 6%.

    Labour/Conservative have slipped from 68% to 67%, Green and LD have oscillated a point each and UKIP bounced back to 15%

    This is all margin of error stuff, with the three percent lead being on the outer edge of that.

    The biggest movement in comparing this poll is between the three minor parties. Ipsos-Mori and Opinium agreed with YouGov on the 35% range, but not on the Conservative and UKIP positions or the LD-Green positioning.

    A week on the campaiugn trail could wipe all this out and the fact remains that Labour are still not in majoritory territory.

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