The first weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is out this morning here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 31%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14%. Nine points is a larger Labour lead than YouGov have shown so far this week, so normal caveats apply.

17% of people expect their financial situation to get better in the year ahead, 36% expect it to be much the same, 41% still expect it to get worse – a net “feel good factor” of minus 24. While other polls show people starting to think the economy as a whole is improving, they are still pessimistic about their own economic fortunes. That said, they are increasingly less pessimistic. This minus 24 is actually much less bad than most of YouGov’s polling over the last four years, only once last year did they show a less negative figure (-23 in September 2013).

Moving onto the specifics of spending cuts YouGov asked what areas people would like to see prioritised for cuts. As usual overseas aid came top by far (71% want to see it cut), followed by welfare benefits (37%), defence (20%) and local government (11%) – there is no other area that more than 10% of people actively want to see prioritised for cuts. On the other side of the equation, people most want to see the NHS (67%), education (54%), pensions (39%) and policing (33%) protected from cuts. For welfare in particular, 15% want to see it protected from cuts, but 37% want to see it prioritised for them.

Note how overseas aid is widely identified as something people want cut with few people wanting to protect it and, at the other end, many people want to see the NHS, education and policing protected with few wanting to see them cut. Welfare and defence are the two interesting battlegrounds as both have substantial numbers of people wanting them cut and wanting them protected.

Looking at specific potential benefit cuts, large majorities would support stopping immigrants from receiving benefits, even for lengthy periods of time. 76% would support a two year ban, 62% a five year ban. The is also solid support for the current benefit cap of £26,000 (supported by 76%) and 49% would support a lower cap of £15,000. A limit on child benefit so it is paid for only 2 children would be supported by 68%. People are least enthusiastic about stopping benefits for the under 25s – they would support an end to housing benefits for those under 25 by 49% to 34%, but a solid majority (59%) would oppose ending all benefits for under 25s.

On the state pension and the minimum wage, 65% of people support Cameron guaranteeing the triple lock for the state pension until 2020, 12% are opposed (as one might expect, there is a heavy age skew – 87% of over 60s support it, 46% of under 25s); 66% would support a substantial increase in the minimum wage, 19% of people would be opposed.

Moving onto the issue of immigration, 76% of people support David Cameron’s stated aim of reducing immigration to the “tens of thousands”, but the overwhelmingly majority (83%) of people think it is unlikely he will achieve it, only 9% think it is likely. When YouGov asked the same question two years ago 15% thought it was likely Cameron would hit his target, so while net immigration has fallen somewhat over recent years, its not registering with the public.

31% of people in England support free schools, 42% of people are opposed. Looking forward, 24% want to see free schools continue to open, 18% want to see them stopped, but those that already exist retained, 26% of people think current free schools should be brought under local authority control.


The monthly ComRes telephone poll for the Independent is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 32%(+4), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 9%(-2), UKIP 11%(-1). Changes are from ComRes’s previous phone poll (as opposed to their parallel online polls for the Sunday Indy) conducted at the end of last month.

Meanwhile today’s twice-weekly Populus poll also recorded a five point lead for Labour, in their case the topline figures were CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 7%. Populus tabs are here.

Also out are the tables for a recent YouGov poll on immigration (it was published in the Times on Saturday, but tabs went up this morning here). Note firstly that while immigration has actually fallen over the last couple of years, the vast majority of people (73%) think that it is continuing to rise, only 7% think it has dropped over the last couple of years – a reminder that official statistics on the news are often not noticed or not believed. There is an equal lack of awareness of what government policy is on immigration. 37% of people say they have a good idea or a fairly good idea of what government policy on immigration is, but even then people are rather overestimating their knowledge – only 19% could actual pick out David Cameron’s stated aim of reducing net immigration to the tens out thousands.

Also interesting to note is people’s differing attitudes towards different groups of immigrants. 72% of people think the country should allow fewer (or no) unskilled immigrants, but people are actually far more welcoming about other groups. 63% are either happy with current levels or would like to see more skilled immigration, 68% are happy with the current or higher numbers of foreign students coming here. People are even split over asylum seekers (though we deliberately avoided using the actual phrase!) – 48% would be happy with more or the current levels of people fleeing persecution, 38% think there should be fewer or none at all.


The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up online here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%. There is little change in the leaders doing well/badly figures – 37% think Cameron is doing well, 56% badly, a net score of minus 19 (from minus 18 last week). Miliband’s net score is minus 32 (from minus 28 last week), Clegg’s minus 54 (unchanged).

Most of the rest of the poll was mostly filled up with Christmas, though there were a batch of questions on immigration.. UKIP continue to lead the mainstream parties on the issue – 25% would trust UKIP the most, compared to 17% for the Conservatives, 13% for Labour. There is little difference in attitudes towards immigrations from inside or outside the EU, in both cases around 70% would like to see tougher limits.

Looking specifically at EU immigration, 22% of people think there is nothing wrong with EU immigration into the UK, 20% think it is damaging, but that Britain has no practical choice but to accept it. 42% think that Britain should act to limit EU immigration even if it means breaking EU law or British citizens losing their own right to live elsewhere in Europe.


Sunday polls

This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up on their website here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 11%. The five point Labour lead is their lowest this year (the last time YouGov’s Labour lead was this small was back in November 2012). Obviously it could be a bit of a blip – polls have a margin of error – but it fits in with the recent trend of Labour’s lead narrowing a bit as UKIP come off the boil.

The rest of the poll had some interesting questions on immigration. 56% of people think that immigration into Britain has been bad for the economy, with only 19% thinking it has been a positive factor. However, on balance immigrants are seen as harder working than people who are born in Britain. 32% of people think that immigrants who come to work here are harder working, 12% less hard working, 46% much the same.

Asked about various groups of immigrants, 70% of people think we should allow fewer (or no) low skilled workers to come to Britain, 59% think that we should allow fewer relatives of people already living in Britain to come here to join relatives. People are actually far more positively disposed towards other immigrant groups – only 28% want to see a reduction in high skilled immigrants looking for well paid jobs, only 27% want to see a reduction in foreign students coming to study in British universities. Asylum seekers split opinion – 42% want to see a reduction in the number of people fleeing persecution allowed to come here, 47% are content with present numbers or would allow more.

Viewed as a whole it suggests people are far more positive about some types of immigration that you would think. It’s one of those times that, in hindsight, you wished you’d asked an extra question – in this case to find out what proportion of total immigration people think is made up of those groups. Given overall public hostility towards immigration I imagine they think it is mostly unskilled and relatives, rather the skilled workers and students they are apparently well disposed to, but it would be good to test.

Asked about specific government policies on immigration, views are once more the typical anti-immigration responses: 71% support requiring a £3000 bond for visitors from high risk countries, 84% support the idea of forcing benefit claimants to learn English or risk losing benefits.

In the Sunday papers there was also a new Opinium poll for the Observer, which had topline figures of CON 27%(nc), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 19%(-1). No sign of a narrowing in the polls there, although worth noting that the higher level of UKIP support is normal (Opinium are typically one of the companies that show the highest levels of UKIP support, something that they have said is probably due to them not using any political weighting).

Finally there was an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph, largely covering recent benefit changes and the spending review. 87% of people supported stopping benefits if people won’t learn English, 53% supported making people wait 7 days for benefits. 64% support a cap on the cost of benefits that excludes the state pension, 23% think it should include the state pension. However, 56% would also support means testing age related benefits like the winter fuel payment and free television licence. ICM don’t ask voting intention for the Sunday Telegraph, instead asking respondents to predict what they think the shares of the vote will be at the next election – answers this month were Conservatives 29%, Labour 34%, Lib Dems on 15% and UKIP on 13%.


The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is now online here. Topline voting intention is CON 30%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%. Most of the rest of the poll concentrated on immigration and calls for a broadcasting ban on Islamic extremists.

The Woolwich murder does not appear to have led to any increase in anti-immigration feeling – the public remain negative about immigration from Eastern Europe and from outside Europe… but no more negative than they were a few months ago. More interestingly YouGov also asked about people’s perception of whether immigration was rising or falling. Despite recent figures showing net immigration falling, the majority of people (59%) think that immigration has continued to rise over the last year or two, underlining how difficult it would be for David Cameron to convince people that he has met his targets on immigration even if does manage to do so. As I often say on here, public opinion is about perceptions of how the government is doing, which is not always the same as reality – the classic example is crime, which has been falling for about twenty years, but which all polls show people believe to be increasing.

Moving onto broadcasting bans, by 53% to 32% people think it was wrong for the BBC to interview Anjem Choudary so soon after the Woolwich murder, and more generally speaking 59% would support a ban on named Muslim radicals like Choudary from appearing on television or radio. An even higher proportion (76%) think that websites like Google and YouTube should refuse to link to sites encouraging extremist views.

Despite the support for such restrictions, people don’t necessarily think they would do any good (suggesting support for bans is perhaps more a way of people expressing their disgust at Choudary’s views than from people thinking it would do any real good). Only 38% think a broadcasting ban would be effective at stopping radical Muslims like Choudary from spreading their message, 49% think it would not. People are slightly more optimistic about the effect of mainstream websites like Google not linking to extremist sites, with 57% thinking this would be effective at stopping their message reaching people who may be influenced by it.

Overall 36% of people think that broadcasting bans or being excluded from mainstream websites would be an effective way of fighting terrorism, as people who may be radicalised would be less likely to be exposed to extremist messages. However, the majority (56%) think such bans might make us feel better… but wouldn’t actually help fight terrorism in the internet age.