YouGov’s regular voting intention poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 41%(+1), LAB 42%(+1), LDEM 7%(-2). Fieldwork was Tuesday to Wednesday and changs are from early January.

The regular tracking question on “Bregret” finds 45% of respondents saying Britain was right to vote for Brexit, 44% think it was wrong. This is the first time YouGov have found more people saying right than wrong since last August, though I would caution against reading much into that. On average this question has been showing about 2% more people thinking it was the wrong decision than the right decision, but normal sample variation from poll to poll (the “margin of error”) means that with figures that close random chance alone should produce the occassional poll with “right” ahead, even if public opinion is actually unchanged. As ever, don’t get too excited over one poll, and wait to see if it is reflected in other polls.

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602 Responses to “YouGov/Times – CON 41, LAB 42, LD 7”

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  1. Dear God. How poor is David Davis in his role. Glib, underprepared and clearly with no understanding what Brexit would entail.

  2. Nick P

    There are lots of problems with the “Council Tax” in each of Scotland, Wales and England – and rates in NI.

    A Land Value Tax might replace both Council Tax and Business rates,

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11461293

    It has also been suggested that a more radical version of property transaction taxes (extending how Scotland replaced Stamp Duty in 2015, and Wales will in April this year) could generate enough revenue to replace income tax.

    As to TOH’s comment of ” all that is required is a rise in income tax for middle earners and above and good luck to the Government who brings it in.” –

    YG STILL hasn’t published the tables for its Times question on Scottish income tax which suggested people were rather keen on the Scottish Government proposals.

  3. THE OTHER HOWARD: If additional payment for the NHS is directly related to Brexit (I can’t thnk why but it seems to be what you think) then it is probably the young who should pay as they will be they will be the people who will get all the benefts of our withdrawal from the EU.

    Thus spake Howard the Munificent, who voted brexit for his grandchildren.

    Words fail me.

  4. VALERIE

    “Why not make education parent “specific” . The state will provide education for your first two children; after that, you’re on own.”

    That’s a wizard wheeze Valerie.

    And, by setting the quota at two, there’s a reasonable chance that at least one of the little rascals will remember at least something they were taught and be able to pass it on, for free, to any further siblings.

    That will then offer further savings on teachers’ salaries so it’s win/win all the way.

  5. There seems to be a bit of fudge over the definition of a flat tax. A flat tax is one levied at the same rate on all income (often above a threshold). 10% of everything earned over £5000 would be an example of a flat tax.

    That’s quite a different thing from a poll tax.

    OLDNAT

    I don’t see much of a difference between the Scottish replacement for SDLT and the changes made to the English version by Osborne, other than the rates. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

    Stamp duty is, anyway, far from perfect. It hammers working families and people climbing the property ladder (such as one exists), but leaves people who own property worth a fortune untouched and is an incentive for inefficient use. The burden on today’s housebuyers will be enormously larger than that faced by their parents’ generation. Some kind of annual LVT would be much better.

  6. “The Court of Session will decide on 2 February whether the petition on the revocability of A50 is “competent” given the UK Government’s statement of “No Surrender”.

    It becomes a technical matter of law as to whether the action can proceed or not – not one of opinion on the desirability of finding something out!”

    As it must really, however much an answer might be “nice”.

    In a system such as ours, the courts have an important role in holding Government to account by ruling on real situations where the Government is trying to do something unlawfully. In such a scenario they right a potential wrong and maintain the rule of law. As in the Miller case.

    And since Governments do a finite number of things, and try to do even less that is unlawful, such actions are manageable.

    They have no proper role in ruling on hypotheticals by saying that something that the Government has no intention to do is unlawful, and even less of a role in ruling on double hypotheticals by saying something that the Government has no intention to do would be lawful if they did.

    In neither case does the ruling right a potential wrong.

    And since in both cases it relates not to something the Government is doing but to something the Government is not doing, and while the set of things the Government does might be finite, the set of things the Government does not do isn’t, it has the potential to expose the courts to an unlimited clogging up with theoretical law suits on whatever any pressure group might like to argue would be “nice”.

    Hypotheticals about what a Government could do, and arguments over what Government should do, are a proper subject for the political arena. The Courts should be ruling only on what a Government must not do.

  7. NickP: I’m astonished that people should contort themselves into knots to find ways to fund NHS and tuition fees etc when the answer is bleedin obvious. Progressive income tax

    Absolutely. And although I regard a referendum as an inappropriate way of getting an answer to a highly complex question like EU membership, I think it’s entirely appropriate to the simple question: “would you like to see the standard rate of income tax increased to 22%, and the higher rate to 42%” to fund a 25% increase in NHS funding?” (or whatever the appropriate figures would be).

  8. pete b

    “you have to pay something to have a tooth out, but not to have a wound stitched. Why not?”

    Again, an excellent point. Why not provide free work-books and basic facilities for self-stitching though? Most wounds are easy enough to access.

    [I suppose the do-gooders would want to set some arbitrary, maximum stitch limit though.]

  9. “I’m astonished that people should contort themselves into knots to find ways to fund NHS and tuition fees etc when the answer is bleedin obvious. Progressive income tax”

    Only half the solution.

    As the economy has developed, large pools of wealth, not income, have developed. Much of this is ‘unearned’, in the sense that it is the capital gain on asset price rises, artificially inflated through supply side restrictions (planning policy on house building, for example).

    If we don’t learn to fairly tax assets, along with income, then we will be trying to squeeze more and more from a shrinking tax base. I’m not surprised that retiree like @TOH want to see higher income tax!

    A simple, low level levy on all estates after death would fund a free social car policy, which would in turn free up NHS resources – for example.

  10. Peter W

    “In a system such as ours” Yep. That applies in “our” legal system as well as yours.

    However, your post strays into political discussion of whether or not the petitioners case should proceed or not.

    Their Lordships will decree on the matter in a week’s time, so probably best to wait until we hear their judgment before commenting further.

  11. plus adding extra bands at the top rate of council tax – and no rebate for empty homes

  12. GARJ

    “I don’t see much of a difference between the Scottish replacement for SDLT and the changes made to the English version by Osborne, other than the rates.”

    That’s why I described a “real” property transactions tax as something much more radical than the Scottish and Welsh Governments have done.

  13. MIKE PEARCE

    Dear God. How poor is David Davis in his role.

    I can’t think why, but listening to Davis always reminds of Lehrer’s The Professor’s Song.

  14. A number of posters appear to be slipping into the bad habit of not referencing the person who made the comment they are replying to.

    It’s an unhelpful practice.

  15. Alec

    Your example of a “low level levy on all estates after death” is a reasonable one, although it does suffer from the problem that any inheritance tax “is paid only by those who hate the state even less than their relatives, so haven’t transferred their resources to the next generation”.

  16. MIKE PEARCE

    Re the Lehrer song I just referenced, a more recent and much easier version to listen to is on YouTube, here at appx. 4m35s into the video.

  17. BZ

    The next song – on Sociology as part of “Political Science” seems even more appropriate for this site!

  18. Alec

    Wealth taxes look attractive but they need to take into account that they need to be universal (i.e unavoidable) and also not effectively take away all the value of the asset by being set too high. Personally property should be easiest being registered and possibly based on a % of rental value – but keeping values up to date and including homes and also MP’s homes! would have to happen.

  19. “Their Lordships will decree on the matter in a week’s time, so probably best to wait until we hear their judgment before commenting further.”
    @oldnat January 25th, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    Ah, the enemies of the people, or not, depending on the result.

  20. Nick P

    “Wealth taxes …. need to take into account that they need to …. not effectively take away all the value of the asset by being set too high”

    Isn’t that true of every tax?

    As far as land/property taxes are concerned, their is a fair amount of evidence that the purchase price is affected by the ongoing taxes on that property.

    A Dane buying a Scottish sporting estate, for example, may be influenced by the fact that s/he will have to pay tax to the Danish Government on the value of that estate, despite not having to pay a penny to the Scottish or UK Governments on that estate.

    Adjusting to taxing wealth rather than income may be a difficult transition – especially for those wholly wedded to the idea that “tax” equals taxing incomes – but may be a much more logical way to raise revenue.

  21. old nat

    What I meant was, if you have asset work 100K and you tax that at 10K a year you risk devaluing the asset significantly as you need to factor and additional high maintenance cost. But 1% divided by 12 months might not have that effect. For instance.

    With income it’s not really the same.

  22. Nick P

    “What I meant was, if you have asset wo[th] 100K and you tax that at 10K a year you risk devaluing the asset significantly as you need to factor and additional high maintenance cost”

    That’s also what I said! The “value” of an asset depends on the ongoing costs – like tax,

    When the Tories chose to exempt sporting estates from taxes, they increased the “value” (the amount people were prepared to pay to buy it) rose. Tax it at 100% and it has no value. Tax it at 0% and its value increases enormously.

    Setting taxes at the most effective rate to maximise revenue, while not destroying the asset base that produces that revenue is what governments do (or should do).

    Good taxation strategy applies equally to all revenue sources (unless you are a rich Tory with sporting estates, of course!)

  23. Garj,

    Quite so. A flat tax on income for health funding would involve some wealthy people paying hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to get free access to a service that they could have bought privately for a fraction of the cost.

    On the “income tax” vs “wealth tax” point, I agree that as currently formulated “income tax” is too narrow a focus and that inherited and accumulated wealth (including asset price inflation) should shoulder it’s share of the burden.

    I’d prefer a much broader definition of income, to it’s literal meaning of “everything that comes in”. If the tax rate is 20%, and this year you have £100,000 more than you had last year. £20,000 of that should go to the government. That should be the case whether it’s interest on savings, asset price appreciation, dividends, rental income or anything else. There could always be rebate arrangements if income fluctuated wildly year on year.

    My beef with the rich is not that their tax rates aren’t high enough (I share Thatcher’s “lion’s share of their income” gut feeling) but that in most cases the creative classification of “that which comes in” as not being “income” results in tax rates quite a lot lower than what I pay.

  24. Sorry, there were a few inexcusable “it’s” instead of “its” in that last post. I blame long hours and stress…

  25. I’m not sure that setting taxes at the most effective level to raise the most tax on principal is defensible. In theory you only raise as much as you need.

    In fact nowadays you raise as much as you can because there is always stuff to spend it on!

    No idea why Scottish sporting estates should be exempt.

  26. Neil A

    ” If the tax rate is 20%, and this year you have £100,000 more than you had last year. £20,000 of that should go to the government.”

    But which government? You can’t be referring to the UK in that post, since different income tax bands and rates apply differently here.

    However, I agree with your basic point that dividend income should be treated no differently from other income, and that in Scotland it should be paid to the Scottish Exchequer, not the UK one.

  27. OLDNAT

    I agree that Lehrer’s Sociology is generally more apposite to the academic approach we all strive to live up to on these threads.

    OTOH, my response to MIKE PEARCE was on the specific topic of Davis and his consummate ability to communicate. On reflection, this song is, perhaps, even more apposite.

  28. Nick P

    I wouldn’t disagree that “you only raise as much as you need.” What you “need” is a political choice.

    I understand that sporting estates in (mainly the North) of England were equally excluded from taxation.

    Fortunately, in Scotland, we have the political means to reverse that decision – for now.

  29. I’d like all property taxed at 1% of its potential rental value each year – no exemptions, empty property included – owners in arrears by more than 2 years forfeit property to state in entirety.

    Tony Blair could pay 1% a year on all 8 of his properties based upon the amount of rent he’d get if he rented them out.

    Cameron could shell out for his.

    Let’s get the royals involved!

  30. @neilj

    “” If the tax rate is 20%, and this year you have £100,000 more than you had last year. £20,000 of that should go to the government.”

    One practical issue is that if your house goes up in value that doesn’t mean you have cash or other liquid assets to pay tax on that rise in value unless you are proposing that people should be forced to realise the value by selling?

  31. BZ

    Strangely enough in the build up to that song he mentions Havard and mathematics….I’ve just been watching Manhunt Unabomber!

  32. @nickp

    Well my property is already taxed at well above 1% its rental value. Are you sure your proposal will increase revenue?

  33. hireton

    I haven’t suggested scrapping any existing taxes.

  34. Nick P

    The exact rate of property taxation would be reasonably considered by a Government committed to such a policy

    Hireton

    There’s no reason why if the land your house is on (few are suggesting that it’s the house price that should be the determinant) rises in value, that the tax payment can’t simply be deferred until the property is sold/transferred.

  35. “One practical issue is that if your house goes up in value that doesn’t mean you have cash or other liquid assets to pay tax on that rise in value unless you are proposing that people should be forced to realise the value by selling?”

    That’s why we need to consider the rental value not the sale value. But the same applies, i suppose. Truth is, if you’ve got a valuable house with high rental value and don’t want to sell, you could get a lodger.

  36. Nick P

    I’m not sure that you understand the Land Value Tax proposal.

    It isn’t about taxing the value of the sale or rental of the property built on the land. If an owner has spent cash on improving their property, they are entitled to get the profit on that expenditure (maybe with a small tax take on that, though I doubt that would be beneficial).

    If the value of the land itself (the main part of housing cost, for example) because of the decisions of public bodies – for example by awarding planning permission to build, or because of infrastructure developments paid from the public purse, then the owner of the land is getting a “freebie” at public expense!

    Of course that profit should be taxed in one way or another. Otherwise they are just frerloading on the taxes other people have paid.

  37. Don’t know much about your proposal. I’m giving mine! But happy to consider yours too.

  38. Nick P

    The idea of a Land Value Tax isn’t “mine”, it’s rather mainstream.

    Here’s the SGP version

    http://www.andyIwightman.com/docs/LVTREPORT.pdf

    It may address some of the issues that you have started to consider.

  39. Nickp (7:20)

    “It really is spurious to suggest that people who don’t use a service shouldn’t pay for it!”

    Why? If I don’t shop at Tesco I wouldn’t expect a bill from them.
    ———-
    Crofty (8:45)
    ‘pete b

    “you have to pay something to have a tooth out, but not to have a wound stitched. Why not?”

    ‘Again, an excellent point. Why not provide free work-books and basic facilities for self-stitching though? Most wounds are easy enough to access.’

    Hoho. As a matter of fact I did once pull my own adult tooth out without anaesthetic when a dentist said he couldn’t, so I imagine stitching an accessible wound wouldn’t be too hard. Little anecdote here – my elder daughter once told me that one of the things that attracted her to her (now) husband was that he was the only other person she knew who had pulled his own teeth when necessary.

    You still didn’t answer the question.
    ——————-
    Alec (8:55pm)
    “A simple, low level levy on all estates after death would fund a free social car policy, which would in turn free up NHS resources – for example.”

    At the moment we already have inheritance tax of 40% on estates over £325,000 I believe. So presumably you’re advocating a lower level but on all estates. Wouldn’t that hit the poorest hardest? Just wondering.
    ———-
    Nickp (10:28pm)
    “I’d like all property taxed at 1% of its potential rental value each year ”

    I presume this is intended to be humorous, unless you really want to return to the old rates system.
    —————-

  40. Pete B

    “If I don’t shop at Tesco I wouldn’t expect a bill from them.”

    Your “bill” from Tesco is rather more indirect than that –

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2008/may/31/tesco.supermarkets

    but we are all still paying it!

  41. Cakeism

    This is seemingly not confined to the uK. Apparently we cannot have any deal on financial services because it does not exist elselwhere. Then for the very same reason fisheries ought to be excluded from any trade deal. Not even Norway in the EEA concedes that.
    we will leave Barnier to explain that the french, german and spanish fishermen.

  42. ON (1142)

    I take your point, though the article does say that Tesco pay over £1bn tax. And doesn’t the Guardian itself use similar methods? By their own admission –

    https://www.theguardian.com/money/tax-gap-blog/2009/feb/02/tax-gap-guardian

  43. pete b

    Not a joke, no. Properties should be taxed not two of the people who live in them.

    The Poll Tax was brought in from the USA in an effort to disenfranchise non property owners (just as we are seeing voter ID now being brought in) following on from individual registration.

  44. Nick P
    I think you’ll find that we’ve moved on from the so-called poll tax in 1990 (in England anyway). In the early ’70s there was widespread dissatisfaction with the old rating system because some people who had low incomes had decent property and had to pay high rates.

    I was Treasurer of Aston University Conservative Association when the head office sent round a bunch of leaflets describing various alternatives for local taxation and asking for our views. The alternatives included things like a local sales tax and what came to be known as the poll tax, but there were several others. I seem to remember that the other committee members backed a local sales tax. I didn’t, because of the likelihood of people buying things in a neighbouring town if their tax was a bit lower, and wrote what I thought was a very eloquent paper in favour of the poll tax. The basic argument was that everyone has to pay the same for other goods, so why not for council services?

    Some years later when the Tories got in, they brought the poll tax in. I claim partial credit. It failed because council rents were supposed to include a portion for notional rates but many (most?) councils just added the poll tax on top without reducing the rents, so people in council houses saw it as an additional tax. Anyway it was replaced nearly 30 years ago.

  45. @Oldnat

    My NHS tax would be specifically to pay for the NHS, and the rate would be based on that necessary to cover the cost. Health is a devolved matter so it follows that the tax would be too, both administratively and as a matter of policy.

    Scotland could choose to set her NHS higher to pay for higher levels of care (or vice versa). What I wouldn’t accept would be Barnett consequentials arising from the level at which the English set their NHS tax. (Scotland shouldn’t get more to spend on roads just because the English have chosen to tax themselves more to pay for hospitals).

    @Hireton,

    Two methods have been suggested above. Both have advantages (although opposing ones). Taxing the rental value might encourage people to downsize, to take in lodgers or to live in multi-generational homes. (Actually taxing the value increase would achieve a similar effect, although what people paid would be much more variable. In my case my house value basically hasn’t budged in 10 years so the tax would be zero). Alternatively it could be recovered at sale, as a sort of reverse stamp duty. Duchy of Cornwall leases work in a sort of analagous way. Every time the lease is renewed, part of any increase in value has to be paid to the Duchy.

    My main objective would be to make sure that increases in wealth attracted a similar burden of taxation, however they were achieved or however they were dressed up.

    The one area that I am a bit uncertain is gifts. The person giving the gift should, of course, have already paid tax on that wealth, but it would be the one area where people might be able to get rich without contributing, so I’d give it some thought.

  46. Pete B (3rd attempt at responding while avoiding triggering the silly automod

    That the Guardian behaves in a similar way in resisting paying tax isn’t surprising.

    What is surprising is the number of “ordinary taxpayers” who seem quite happy to pay more income tax than they might otherwise have to and/or suffer poorer public services because those who control the media find mechanisms to avoid paying their dues.

  47. @Pete B

    Interesting anecdote. I was chairman of my own University Conservative Association when the policy was being prepared. I was asked by a Minister of State (who was the MP for the area where the university was situated) what my views were. I told him in no uncertain terms that people just wouldn’t accept a non-progressive form of local taxation and that local income tax would be a better solution. He gave the “wealth redistribution is achieved through UK income tax” spiel. I wasn’t buying it. I feel vindicated.

  48. Neil A

    “What I wouldn’t accept would be Barnett consequentials arising from the level at which the English set their NHS tax.”

    We don’t disagree on that. The determination to continue Barnett was the choice of the three UK Unionist parties. They made it part of their “Vow” in 2014.

    Of course, it was just the irresponsible posturing of politicians, but some were persuaded by it,

    Once we can create the mechanism to assign the taxes on revenues to the polity they are created in, as opposed to assigning them to the HQ address, we might sensibly approach the financing of the governance in the various parts of the UK.

  49. ON
    “What is surprising is the number of “ordinary taxpayers” who seem quite happy to pay more income tax than they might otherwise have to and/or suffer poorer public services because those who control the media find mechanisms to avoid paying their dues.”

    I don’t think they’re happy about it, but it’s the system that needs to change. The only thing I can think of to replace taxing profits (which leads to companies setting up overseas head offices/subsidiaries) is to tax turnover. The problem with this is that it would be very complicated to administer because some industries have much bigger profit margins than others. So a flat rate of tax on turnover would move some companies from profit to loss, which would cause bankruptcies. This would include some supermarkets for instance where I believe a profit of 5% on turnover is considered very good.
    Therefore you would have to have different rates for different industries. Then you would get a group of companies trading in different areas switching notional amounts around between them in order to load most of the turnover onto the least taxable bit of the group. It might be the way forward, but do you have a better solution?
    ———————————-
    Neil A
    I’d temporarily forgotten the local income tax version. I think I wasn’t keen on that for the same reason that I didn’t like a local sales tax. If one town set it’s tax rate 1% less than the next, people would move jobs to take advantage thus hurting the other town’s economy. Perhaps that level of local competition would be good, but I just felt that everyone paying the same was simpler and fairer. Anyway, it’s all a very long time ago.

  50. neil A,
    “Everyone should pay it, even those exempt from paying other taxes”

    deja-vue! Margaret Thatcher beat you to it with the poll tax. What a stunning success that was, nearly brought her down – arguably did.

    It was interesting watching Paul Mason on ‘this week’ arguing precisely the opposite, that the current capitalist oligarch model has reached its end point and a shift towards more redistributive taxes is now inevitable.

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