This week’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up here, with topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 8%. The rest of the poll included questions on Labour and business and on intervention in Iraq.

The Conservatives are seen as having the best policies towards British business by 33% to Labour’s 19%, exactly the same split as on the economy in general. A Conservative victory at the next election is seen as being a good thing for British businesses by 44% of people, a bad thing by 23%. In contrast 43% think a Labour victory would be bad for British business, just 19% think it would be good. These questions don’t, of course, tell us whether people want a government to be good for business – when YouGov asked what the government’s attitude should be towards big business only 38% think government should primarily be supporting and helping big businesses in Britain, 49% think government should be doing more to stand up to them.

Turning to those business leaders who have criticised Ed Miliband this week, 45% of people think that the bosses of large companies should remain politically neutral, compared to 38% who think they have every right to comment on politics. There is sharp political divide on the question – Tory voters think by 59% to 31% that company bosses should intervene in politics, Labour voters think by 59% to 26% that they should keep out of politics. The idea of a CEO living in Monaco and not paying British taxes commenting on British politics goes down particularly badly, with 73% saying the intervention of Stefano Pessina is not acceptable. Nevertheless, people tend to think the criticism from business leaders is genuinely felt – 54% think business leaders are criticising Labour because they think their policies are genuinely bad for British business, 48% think they are doing do for political reasons (these includes 22% who think they are doing so for both reasons equally). 52% think that the Labour party is damaged by the comments.

YouGov also asked about intervention against Islamic State/ISIS. British air strikes against ISIS are now supported by 63% of people. YouGov asked this question very regularly last year when Britain began air strikes against ISIS, back in October 59% supported it, this is now up to 63%. 56% of people would support increasing the level of British air strikes against ISIS, but people remain opposed to putting US and British ground troops back into Iraq. 32% would support sending group troops back into Iraq, the same as when YouGov asked in October.

The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times survey is up here and has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%.

Most of the rest of the survey dealt with attitudes towards the Chilcot Inquiry and Iraq. Asked in hindsight whether Britain and the US were right to take military action against Iraq support has now dwindled to 25% (down from 27% two years ago, 30% in 2007 and a peak of 66% back in April 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad). 63% of people now think that the invasion of Iraq increased the risk of terrorist attack against Britain and 54% think it has made the world a less safe place.

Asked about Tony Blair’s role, 48% of people think Tony Blair deliberately misled the public (down 4 points from 2010), 32% think he genuinely thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (unchanged from 2010) – as the years pass, the proportion of people saying don’t know is gradually sneaking up. In a slightly more nuanced question, 29% of people say Blair was essentially correct to warn of the dangers of the Saddam regime, 16% that he misled Parliament but did not intend to do so, 13% that he deliberately misled Parliament, but we should now move on, 24% that he deliberately misled Parliament and should be prosecuted.

Turning to the question of the Chilcot inquiry, 50% of people think the inquiry is worthwhile, 35% of people think it is not. Despite this broad support, only 19% think it will make a genuine effort to get to the bottom of Britain’s involvement in Iraq, 53% think it will be a whitewash. Two-thirds of people think the length of time it has taken to publish the report is unreasonable.


The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is up here. Topline voting intention figures are a very normal CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%. The rest of the poll dealt with Europe, Coulson and Iraq.

Dealing with Europe first, by 40% to 14% people thought Cameron was right to oppose Juncker, 46% of people said don’t know. On the other hand, 36% of people said it has probably damaged Britain’s ability to negotiate in Europe, 7% say it has probably helped. Note the fieldwork was done before the summit.

On Coulson YouGov asked how seriously people took Cameron’s error in appointing Coulson. 34% said it was a very serious error, 36% a fairly serious error, but no worse than many others made by politicians, 21% not seriously at all. Looking at the crossbreaks though is a salient reminder of why things like this don’t really make much difference to voting intentions – people see them through the prism of their pre-existing political views. 59% of Labour voters saw the appointment of Coulson as a very serious error, only 6% dismissed it as not being serious. 48% of Tory voters dismissed it as nothing serious, only 9% thought it was a very serious error. On the wider issues around phone hacking, by 53% to 33% people think the thorough investigation was worthwhile and 69% think the CPS was right to attempt the prosecution of Rebekah Brooks and let the jury decide, despite her ultimate acquittal. People are pretty evenly split over whether the investigations and prosecutions will make journalists behave better in the future – 44% think they will, 47% think they won’t.

Turning to Iraq, public opinion remains extremely negative towards Britain’s role in the Iraq war and its consequences. 59% think Britain and the USA were wrong to take military action against Iraq, 62% think it has increased the risk of terrorist attack against Britain, 48% think it’s made the world less safe and 40% think it has made the ordinary lives of Iraqis worse. 67% of people think that British “jihadists” going to Syria or Iraq to fight do pose a risk when they return to Britain, 17% think the risk has been exaggerated. 63% think Muslim community leaders in Britain should do more to prevent it, 61% think social media sites should do more to remove jihadists recruiting material.

There was also a Survation poll in the Mail on Sunday with fieldwork conducted on Friday (tabs here). Topline figures there were CON 27%(nc), LAB 36%(+4), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 22%(-1). The rest of the poll dealt mostly with Juncker, and again opinions are split largely along existing party lines – so 38% saw Cameron’s opposition to Juncker as a sign of strength, 36% as a sign of weakness… but 75% of Tories thought it was a sign of strength, 57% of Labour voters thought it was a sign of weakness.

YouGov’s weekly poll in the Sunday Times this week has the first questions asked about Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor – asked if his appointment will make Labour stronger or weaker, 24% of people think it will strengthen Labour, 18% think it will weaken them (though to some extent, this is respondents believing what they want to believe – Labour supporters think strongly that it will make Labour stronger, Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters are more likely to think it will weaken them).

More relevant is probably a question asking who will make the better Chancellor of the Exchequer. When we asked it a week ago George Osborne was favoured over Alan Johnson by 25% to 21%. In a choice between Osborne or Balls they are level on 27% a piece, so Balls does get a slightly better rating than Johnson.

Two caveats to this – firstly it doesn’t necessarily translate into any vote of confidence in Balls, it could easily just be people aren’t that enthralled by George Osborne. In my earlier post I noted that people were more likely to think Osborne was a liability to the party than senior Tory frontbenchers. Today YouGov asked how much confidence people had in various figures to make the right economic decisions for the country and people had significantly less confidence in Osborne than in Cameron (31% had confidence in Osborne, 43% in Cameron. 30% had confidence in Ed Miliband to make the right decisions).

The other caveat is, of course, the one I mentioned on Friday – Balls’s upside was going to his vigour and command of the brief that will instill confidence, his possible downsides in terms of party image and positioning would take longer to emerge.

Looking at the rest of the poll, all three leaders have slight drops in their approval ratings. Also note the questions on the economy – 78% think the current state of the economy is bad, one of the worst since the general election. The feel good factor (those thinking the economy will get better over the next 12 months minus those who think it will get worse) is minus 55, the second worse it’s been since the election. As we saw during the last Parliament, economic optimism does have a significant impact upon voting intention, that won’t have been the case so much since the election because the economic state will have been seen as something the government inherited, but over time the relationship will have started to build up again.

The only economic question with even a smidgin of good news was the proportion of people thinking the country will go back into recession was marginally lower on 52%, compared to 55% in September. Everywhere else opinions were still resolutely negative.

On other questions, the government’s NHS plans were supported by 25% and opposed by 39%, with a chunky 36% saying don’t know. Asked how well they understood the government’s NHS policy 43% said they understood it well (37% fairly well, 6% very well), 48% either not very well (39%) or not at all (9%) – which probably explains the very high don’t know figure in the first question.

On education there was a pretty evenly divided response to Free Schools – 33% said they supported them, 35% said they opposed them. The figures were pretty much the same when we asked if people would be interested in a Free School in their local area 32% said they’d like to see one locally, 33% would not. Of those who said they’d like to see one in their area, about a fifth said they would be interesting in helping set it up.

Questions like this, incidentally, are the sort of thing that provoke headlines saying “only 6% would involve themselves in big society” etc, etc. These rather miss the point – if 6% of the population were happy to actively volunteer to help their local schools it would be more than enough (hell, it would likely be beyond Michael Gove’s wildest dreams). The problem is whether people would actually volunteer, rather than telling a pollster they would, which can be an entirely different matter. One requires you to tick a button on a screen, the other requires you to give up lots of your spare time.

Going back to the poll, YouGov also repeated some questions on Tony Blair and the war in Iraq, which were first asked in January last year. Opinions were pretty much the same – 51% think Tony Blair lied over Iraq, 30% think he did not. 24% of people think that Blair knowingly misled Parliament and should be tried for war crimes.

The Guardian carries an ICM poll this morning suggesting that 87% of people think Osama bin Laden is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared to 75% for George W Bush, 69% for Kim Jong-il, 65% for Hassan Nasrallah and 62% for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Other than the fact that British people don’t like George Bush much, which is hardly a surprise, what does it mean? Probably not much. The answers are probably a mixture of peoples’ opinions of the five men, of whether they think they are actually likely to start some form of conflict and of whether they have the ability to start whatever level of conflict people are considering when they answer the question (after all, Hassan Nasrallah is probably an extreme threat to peace in the immediately locality of Israel, somewhat less so on a world stage. George Bush has a military reach that extends across the globe. Osama bin Laden lives in a cave). At the core of the question is the unspoken question of who is the threat to world peace, who carries the moral responsibility for any conflict – the state who defies the world by developing nuclear weapons, or the state that takes military action against a state to stop it developing nuclear weapons?

The story make a very good newspaper headline, but beyond George W Bush’s unpopularity I’m not sure it really tells us anything.

The poll also asked whether the invasion of Iraq was justified. 71% of people said no. This would be a new high in opposition to the war in Iraq, but I suspect that the wording was that normally used by ICM (which mentions approval or disapproval, rather than justification) so it may not be comparable.

UPDATE: topping the poll in the Spine’s report of the figures was Heather Mills-McCartney, somewhat ahead of the Chuckle brothers. These might not be based on the actual tables…