This week’s results for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are online here. Topline voting intention stands at CON 32%, LAB 43%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 9% – so very much in line with the typical YouGov Labour lead of about 10 points. There’s no sign of any remaining effect from the EU referendum pledge here.

Horsemeat

Almost three quarters of people blame food manufacturers (26%) or meat processors (46%) the most for the horsemeat scandal, rather than retailers (11%) or the government (6%). While a majority of people think that there is more the government could be doing to keep the food chain secure, broadly speaking the government is seen to have handled the horsemeat scandal well – 47% say they have handled it well, 39% badly.

68% of people do not think there is any actual health risk from horsemeat getting into the food chain and 37% say that, if it was properly sourced, they would be prepared to eat horsemeat.

Relatively few people say that they will substantially change their behaviour as a result of the horsemeat scandal – only 5% say they might change which supermarket they use to they buy their groceries, only 13% that they will reduce the amount of meat or beef that they will buy. However, a third of people say that they will reduce the amount of *processed* meat they will buy. In reality all these are likely to be gross overestimates: it is much easier to say in a survey that you will change your behaviour than it is to do so in real life – in practice most people will probably continue as usual.

Eastern European Immigration

On the general principle of the freedom to work and live anywhere within the European Union, 33% of people think it is a good thing, 56% a bad thing.

On balance immigration from western European countries like France and Germany is seen as a positive thing (39% think it has had a positive effect on Britain, 16% a negative effect, 31% neither). Immigration from Eastern Europe and from outside the European Union are both seen as having had a negative effect on Britain by a majority of respondents.

70% of people think that the rules on immigration into Britain from the EU should be tougher, almost the same as the 73% who think the rules on immigration into Britain from outside the EU should be tougher. On the specifics of the extension of the right to live and work across the EU to Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, 20% of people think there is no problem with this and Britain should welcome them, 19% think it will have a negative impact on Britain but we have no choice but to meet our legal obligations, 48% think Britain should limit the right of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to live and work in Britain, even if it means breaking the law.

Foxes

There is little support for fox hunting being legalised. Only 23% want to see the ban lifted, compared to 65% who would like it to remain. This includes 50% of Conservative voters.

29% of people who describe the area they live in as “urban” say the number of foxes in their local area has increased in recent years, but the overwhelming majority, 92%, say that they have never been attacked or felt threatened by a fox. Nevertheless there is significant minority support for a cull of urban foxes – 38% would support a cull, but 41% would oppose it.

Long term care and inheritance tax

52% of people say they support the government’s plans on capping the cost of long term with only 21% opposed. 50% of people say that it is right that the plans to reduce inheritance tax were shelved to fund the long term plans, 26% would rather they had been funded in some other way.

Asked a straight choice of whether they’d prefer inheritance tax to be reduced, or the cost of long term care to be reduced, far more people choose the later – 57% to 18%. This is particularly the case for older voters, people over the age of 60 say they would prefer a cut to long term care costs over a reduction in inheritance tax by 66% to 13%

Workfare

Finally, 76% of people support the principle of withdrawing benefits from unemployed people who refuse to work. On the more specific recent court case, 55% of people think the government should be able to withdraw benefits from unemployed people who refuse to do unpaid work experience, 34% think they should not.


This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is CON 33%, LAB 45%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 8%. The climb of UKIP support into the mid-teens that has been appearing in other online polls doesn’t appear to be replicated in the daily YouGov polls. The rest of the poll dealt with immigration, gay marriage, the royal baby prank call and teachers’ pay.

Two thirds of people (67%) think that levels of immigration into Britain over the last decade have been bad the country, compared to 11% who think it has been good for Britain. 80% say they support David Cameron’s stated intention to reduce net immigration to the “tens of thousands”, although there is very little confidence in his ability to deliver it (only 15% think it is very or fairly likely he will deliver the pledge). On the specifics of foreign students, 50% of people think they have a positive effect on Britain compared to only 15% who think they have a negative impact. Despite this 53% people think they should be included in the immigration figures, only 40% think they should be excluded. Finally on the subject of immigration, people are evenly split on whether British companies should discriminate towards British workers – 45% think they should, 47% think they should not.

People support gay marriage by 56% to 36% who are opposed, pretty typical of YouGov’s previous polling on the subject. There are the same demographic patterns that we’ve seen in other polling on the subject – women are more supportive of gay marriage than men, and young people are MUCH more supportive than over 60s. Asked if David Cameron should continue with the proposed changes in the face of opposition from some Conservative MPs the figures were very similar – 51% think he should continue regardless, 36% think he should abandon the policy.

There is very little perception that supporting gay marriage will help the Conservatives electorally. Only 9% think it will help them, 17% damage them, 66% think it will make no difference (needless to say, people’s perception of whether it will help or hurt the Conservatives is not necessarily the same as whether it will. Polling on how policies directly affect voting intention is extremely dubious, but what there is suggests it is very much a case of swings and roundabouts – they lose about the same as they gain). Asked how they would react to their own son or daughter being gay, 63% of people say they would be very or fairly comfortable with it. 17% say they would be fairly uncomfortable, 8% very uncomfortable.

On the Royal Baby prank call 67% of people think that the Australian radio station should take some or a lot of blame for the suicide of the nurse who took the prank call. However, they are fairly evenly split over whether the DJs responsible should be sacked – 39% think they should be, 43% think they should not. 61% think that the offer of AUS$500,000 to a memorial fund to the nurse’s family is the right way to make amends, compared to only 24% who think there should be greater compensation or people should pay with their jobs. More generally, 50% think that similar prank calls should not be allowed in the future, 41% think they are harmless as long as they are done responsibly.

Finally people continue to narrowly support the existing arrangements for teachers pay over more performance related pay (by 48% to 43%). Asked about the role of teaching unions, 26% think that they are an obstacle to reform and that the government are right to take a hard line, 45% think that the government should listen to them more (28% say don’t know or neither). 31% of people would support a ban on teachers taking strike action.


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Ed Miliband made a speech earlier today talking about immigration, saying Labour got Eastern European immigration wrong in the last Parliament and promising to introduce rules to deter firms from employing too many workers from overseas. I thought it a good opportunity to write about policies and their effect on public opinion.

I expect any poll asking directly about whether there should be changes to deter companies from employing too many foreigners would find it was extremely popular. However, a straight support/oppose question only really scratches the surface of public opinion on an issue. There are three (or possibly four) aspects to public opinion on any issue. The first is simple support or opposition – although even that needs to be seen in the context of party, the second salience, the third the effect on broader party image, perception and narrative, and the possible fourth, the impact on “elite” opinion (which you may or may not think counts depending on how you define public opinion!)

For immigration, almost all opinion polling suggests the public are broadly hostile towards immigration and, generally speaking, would support tighter restrictions upon it. Looking beyond that, Labour normally trail behind the Conservatives when it comes to which party people trust on immigration – it is a “Conservative issue” in much the same way that the NHS, for example, is a “Labour issue”. Generally speaking it is very difficult for parties to establish themselves as the preferred party on an issue that the other parties are strongly associated with. For example, for all his focus upon it in opposition the best David Cameron ever managed on the NHS was to drag the Conservatives to roughly equal with Labour in a handful of polls. Tony Blair made a supreme effort on the issue of crime and did manage to get Labour ahead on the issue for a while… but during the election campaign of 1997 there was still a meagre Conservative lead on the issue.

If Labour put enough effort in on immigration they could perhaps establish themselves as people’s preferred party on immigration, but they are hardly likely to want to make the issue their main focus in the years ahead, and in the absence of such a concerted effort it is likely to remain an issue of Conservative strength (I suspect it will remain so even given that the government are very unlikely to hit their own target of reducing immigration; hardly anyone expects the Conservatives to hit it anyway).

Secondly there is the effect on salience. Immigration is an issue is one that people do consider important to the country, but not necessarily towards their own lives. In questions asking what people think is the most important issue facing the country immigration has for the last few years come second or third. It does, however, tend to register lower down the scale when asked about what issues are important for people and their families. As an issue where people tend to favour the Conservatives moving it up the agenda however is not going to be particularly helpful to Labour.

Thirdly there is the effect on party perception and narrative. Unlike other angles this is almost impossible to objectively test in opinion polls, but just because something is difficult to measure doesn’t make it any less important. For example, the Conservatives tend to be cautious about the issue of immigration because talking about it too much risks reinforcing negative perceptions of the Conservative party as being racist, intolerant or stuck in the past, and would play to a narrative of the party “lurching to the right” or “playing the race card”. I suspect Labour do not have to worry about this to the same extent, as a party they are seen as far closer to ethnic minority Britons and don’t have the same baggage from the past. They can talk about immigration without risking some of the negative associations a Conservative politician would suffer – it takes a Nixon to go to China.

I suspect this angle also tells us why Ed Miliband is talking about immigration. It probably isn’t going to suddenly make immigration a strong issue for Labour, and it’s not an issue that would help Labour by being high on the political agenda. I suspect he is aiming more at tackling a negative perception of the last Labour government having become out-of-touch with the concerns and worries of its supporters.

The final angle one needs to consider is “elite” opinion – by which I mean the commentariat, columnists, party activists and so on. While the public tend to like anti-immigration policies or rhetoric, Labour supporters in the commentariat tend not to, so there has been a muted or sometimes quite negative reaction to his speech in places like the Guardian (though there have also been many voices welcoming it). This is rather beyond my remit – and going against the commentariat is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want to look in touch with ordinary people, but it is certainly a factor that politicians need to consider.


A little later than intended, here’s a full update on the weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, full tabs for which are now up here. This week’s poll covered the Eurozone, immigration and border control, Iran and the upcoming teachers’ strike.

On the Euro, YouGov mostly repeated the Eurozone questions asked for the last couple of weeks. Despite the developing story and contagion moving from Greece to Italy, British public opinion has not much changed. The overwhelmingly majority of people (84%) think it is important for Britain’s economy that the Eurozone debt crisis is solved, but a majority (55%) still think that Britain should not contribute any money towards a bailout. 60% of people think that Greece should be made to leave the Eurozone, compared to 17% who think it should be allowed to remain. For Italy, 45% think it should be made to leave the Eurozone, 29% think Italy should stay.

Turning to immigration and border control, 52% of people think that Theresa May is wrong to blame the relaxation of controls upon civil servants and 56% of people think she should resign (though to some degree this is partisan – amongst Tory voters 38% think she should resign, 49% think she should stay).

On the broader issue of immigration, there is widespread support for Cameron’s stated aim of reducing immigration to “tens of thousands”, supported by 78% of people. However, there is little faith in his ability to deliver on it. 75% of people think it unlikely he will deliver. The Conservatives are ahead of Labour on the party people most trust on immigration, but only narrowly: 18% to 13%. When YouGov normally ask this question they give just the main parties, and the Conservatives normally have a big lead over Labour. This poll gave people the choice of the minor parties too, and found 9% of people who said they most trusted the BNP on immigration and 7% UKIP, both ahead of the Lib Dems. 38% of people said they did not trust any party on immigration.

Moving to the issue of Iran, 67% of people think Iran probably is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, compared to just 7% who think they are not. Around two-thirds of people would support further sanctions upon Iran to prevent them developing weapons, but only 30% would support military action by the US or Israel to destroy their nuclear programme.

Finally, on the teachers strikes 55% of people oppose headteachers going on strike (37% support them), 53% of people oppose teachers going on strike (37% support them). The poll shows support for the strike marginally lower than it was before the last strike in June, when YouGov found 40% support and 49% opposition, but the question itself was slightly different, so I would be cautious of concluding that support is dropping.


First, there is a new YouGov Scottish poll in Scotland on Sunday. Topline figures there, with changes from a fortnight ago, are:

Constituency vote: CON 11%(nc), LAB 37%(-2), LDEM 8%(+3), SNP 40%(nc)
Regional vote: CON 12%(nc), LAB 33%(-6), LDEM 7%(+2), SNP 35%(+3), Green 6%(nc)

There is a significant movement from Labour to the SNP on the regional vote, and these figures fit a lot more neatly with the historical trend than the last lot. A fortnight ago YouGov had the SNP ahead in the constituencies, but Labour well ahead on the regional vote – which would have been an unusual result. The SNP lead on the constituency and regional votes here is much more comparable.

In the SoS John Curtice projects these figures as producing 55 seats for the SNP, 49 for Labour, 14 for the Conservatives, 6 for the Lib Dems and 5 for the Greens.

Secondly the full tabs for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are up here. On the AV referendum, NO remains in the lead, but much less convincingly than the midweek poll for the Sun – YES is on 40%, NO is on 41%. Before adjustment for likelihood to vote the No lead was 3 points, so YES voters do appear to be slightly more likely to turnout. Leaders ratings are Cameron minus 8 (from minus 9 a week ago), Miliband minus 19 (from minus 15 last week), Clegg minus 44 (from minus 39 last week).

Much of the rest of the poll dealt with immigration, and found the usual broadly negative opinions. 40% of people did not feel Britain had benefitted from immigration in any way. 88% agreed that immigrants unable to speak English or unwilling to integrate were creating discomfort in British communities, 93% thought people coming to live here permanently should be required to learn English.

Turning specifically to David Cameron’s comments, 73% think he was right to raise the issue of immigration, but the majority (51%) of them think he did so to score political points. There is also very little confidence that the government will be able to deliver on their plans to reduce net immigration to only tens of thousands – only 16% think they will succeed, 60% think they will fail.

There were also some questions on tuition fees. 35% of people say they support the policy, 44% oppose it. The figures were almost the same when YouGov asked if people thought graduates would still be better off with tuition fees – 37% think graduates would still be better off in the long term through higher salaries, 42% think higher salaries will be outweighed by the cost of tuition fees.