The full results of YouGov’s weekly Sunday Times poll are now up here. Topline figures are CON 34%, LAB 34%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%. The rest of the poll dealt mainly with perceptions of Labour and the Conservatives on tax, spending and business, plus the row over Trident and “stabbing in the back”.
60% of people expect that taxes would rise if Labour won the election and formed a government, including 48% of their own supporters. Asked which taxes they expected to see increase under Labour the top rate of income tax came top (unsurprisingly, given Labour have promised to increase it!) followed by capital gains tax, the higher 40p rate of tax, petrol duty and national insurance.
Asked the same about the Conservatives, only 38% of people expect taxes to rise if they win (including 23% of their own supporters). Amongst those who do expect Tory tax rises, VAT is most expected to rise, followed by fuel duty. I suspect fuel duty being high up for both parties reflects a public belief that its one of those taxes that always ends up going up…but that alone doesn’t suggest that the Conservatives are getting much public credit for repeatedly freezing fuel duty in past budgets.
If there is a 22 percent gap in expectations of whether a Conservative or Labour government would increase taxes, there’s an even bigger gap on increasing spending. Only 11% of people think that a Tory government would increase spending on public services, 52% of people think that Labour would increase spending on public services, including a majority of Labour’s own voters. This could pose a problem for Ed Miliband if he is the next Prime Minister and does stick to his stated plans – if most Labour supporters genuinely do believe a Labour government is going to increase spending, and Labour are genuinely committed to tough spending limits to close the deficit, someone is going to be disappointed.
Turning to attitudes towards business neither leader is perceived as being in the right place. Only 29% of people think Miliband’s attitude to business is right, 33% of people think he is too hostile. 27% of people think Cameron’s attitude to business is about right, 50% that he is too close.
On those figures, while the political debate is often about whether Labour’s positioning towards business is right or not, it’s David Cameron who has the bigger problem. I suspect, however, that this is actually tied into the wider problem of perceptions of the Conservative party and the rich. YouGov asked about that too in the poll with questions on what would happen to the taxes paid by the very richest and wealthiest in society under a Labour or a Conservative government. 69% think that the wealthiest should pay more tax. If Labour win, 75% expect the richest to pay more tax, if the Conservatives win 34% expect them to pay less tax.
Turning to Trident and Michael Fallon, 38% of people think that Britain should replace Trident with a similarly powerful system. 28% think Trident should be replaced with a cheaper and less powerful system than Trident and 19% think Trident should not be replaced at all. Turning to people’s expectations, 44% think that a Labour government reliant upon the SNP for a majority would still replace Trident – getting support from MPs from other parties. 27% think that Labour probably wouldn’t replace Trident if they needed SNP support.
That suggests most people don’t really buy into Michael Fallon’s argument anyway – while most people want Trident replaced, on balance people think a minority Labour government would still manage to do so. The language about Ed Miliband stabbing his brother in the back gets a further thumbs down – 51% of people thought it wasn’t a fair description, and 51% thought it wasn’t fair to link it to Trident.
People reacting badly to negative campaigning only really matters it if is noticed though. Despite the timing of the poll just after Fallon’s comments, there really wasn’t much difference in perceptions of how positive or negative the two main parties’ campaigns were. 22% thought that Labour’s campaign was mostly positive, 34% mostly negative. 23% thought the Conservative campaign was mostly positive, 38% mostly negative. Supporters of both parties perceive their own campaign as being positive, their opponent as negative (and presumably filter out evidence to the contrary!)