I expect we’ll have some more polling on Wednesday’s strikes over the next week or two, but there were a few questions on YouGov’s dailing polling for the Sun earlier in the week.

Firstly, asked about changes to public sector pensions, 41% of people said they supported them, 44% opposed them, a pretty even divide. There are some conflicting polls on this, people are more supportive of some of the changes than others. The most enlightening is probably YouGov in the Sunday Times at the start of November, which broke the pension changes into three parts – people were more positive towards making public sector workers pay more into their pensions (by 51% to 35%), linking pensions to average salary rather than final salary (by 49% to 30%). The part that met with more opposition was increasing their retirement age (44% thought this was right, 45% wrong).

Going back to this week’s poll, YouGov also asked about support or opposition towards the strikes themselves. Teachers going on strike were opposed by 53% to 37% in support. Civil servants going on strike were opposed by 54% of people with 35% in support. Compared to very similar questions straight after the strikes at the end of June, it suggests a slight drop in support since then.

I expect I’ll return to this issue in coming days! Meanwhile tonight we have the usual YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, while Patrick O’Flynn is suggesting there is a poll of some sort with good news for UKIP. We shall see.

The full tables for YouGov’s weekly voting intention poll are now up here. Topline voting intention stands at CON 36%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, Others 15%. The rest of the poll covered the economy, the pension strikes, Northern Rock, smoking in cars and attitudes to Margaret Thatcher.

The regular economic trackers show their normal dire figures. People remain evenly split on whether the government’s economic strategy is correct, or whether they should concentrate more on growth and less on cutting the deficit. However, people do tend to accept the claim that Britain would risk similar problems to Greece or Italy were we not to reduce the deficit – 27% think Britain’s economic situation is better than Greece/Italy and we could afford to borrow more, 47% think Britain needs to reduce the deficit or risk going a similar way to Greece/Italy. Asked about how different groups of people have fared during the recession, young people are seen to have been hit the hardest. 65% of people think young people have suffered more than most, 48% think retired people have, 39% public sector workers, 24% women.

There is very little support for reducing the minimum wage for younger people to encourage employment, with only 17% of people saying they would support this and 73% opposed. A majority (56%) also oppose the idea of reducing employment rights to make it easier to hire and fire people. On the subject of foreign workers, 51% think employers should give priority to British workers over foreign workers, even if they are better qualified. 69% think the government should do more to give British workers priority in applying for jobs.

Turning to Northern Rock, people support the sale to Virgin Money by 48% to 23% – not a surprising result in itself. Slightly less predictable was that people trended to think it was a good deal: 50% agreed that the government was always going to make a loss and £747m is a good deal, 34% think the government is losing too much money on the deal and should have held on for a better deal.

Turning to the public sector pension strikes, 49% of people now think it is right for public sector workers to contribute more to their pensions, 35% think it is wrong. 52% of people now oppose public sector workers going on strike over their pensions (up from 49% in September), 35% support it (down from 38%). Asked about the threshold for strike ballots 58% of people think that trade unions should require the support of 50% of eligible members to call a strike, as opposed to 50% of those taking part in a ballot – virtually unchanged from when YouGov asked a similar question in June.

On smoking there is majority support for blank packaging (56%), banning the display of cigarettes (58%) and for banning people smoking in cars with passengers (59%). Only 34% of people, however, would support banning people smoking in all private cars regardless of whether they have passengers. YouGov also broke these questions down by whether respondents themselves smoked, around a third of regular smokers supported the restrictions on packing, display and smoking with passengers in the car.

Finally there were some questions on Margaret Thatcher. She came top when people were asked who was the greatest post-war Prime Minister, picked by 27% of people (more than Churchill, though this may very well be people correctly discounting Churchill’s premiership, though clearly the fact that Churchill comes up second suggests many people didn’t!). Blair was chosen by 9%, Wilson by 6%.

Overall, 50% of people think that Thatcher was a great (20%) or good (30%) Prime Minister, 33% a poor (8%) or terrible (25%) Prime Minister. Only 8% of people thought she was an “average” Prime Minister, people either admire or loathe her. Compare this to when YouGov asked the same question about Tony Blair at the end of September, 6% thought he was great, 33% good, 14% poor, 21% terrible, 24% average – this is a far more even distribution, opinions on Thatcher remain extremely divided.


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.

The news agenda has rather moved on from the strikes now, and is dominated by News International’s travails – however, I expect we’ll have to wait until the weekend to get any substantive polling on that (though I believe there is some Survation stuff tonight, which I’ll include in my 10 o’clock post. In the meantime, there are a couple of YouGov polls from earlier in the week looking back at the strikes.

Firstly on Monday YouGov repeated the questions on the strike and pensions that were originally asked a week ago, to see if the actual strike had changed views. In terms of support or opposition to the strike there was no substantive difference. Last week people opposed the teachers’ strike by 49% to 40%, this week people opposed it by 50% to 41%. There was a similar lack of movement on opposition to the civil servants strike.

On the subject of pensions though, people were marginally more *supportive* of the government’s pension proposals. Last week 37% said they supported them, this week it was 41% . Normal caveats apply about small movements not necessarily being significant, but certainly the argument does not appear to be moving against the government.

On a different measure, the strike action does appear to be keeping pensions firmly near the top of the political agenda. It remains third on the list of what people consider the most important issues facing the country and second on what people think are the most important issues facing their families (both percentages up since last month).

Will post again later tonight with today’s YouGov VI and the Survation figures on hacking.

The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are here, mainly covering the strike and public sector pensions.

40% of people said they supported teachers going on strike last week, with 49% of people were opposed – exactly the same split YouGov found when they asked a similar question for the Sun before the strikes. There was less support for the other workers who went on strike on Thursday though – only 35-36% supported strikes by immigration, job centre and court staff, with 52% opposed.

This is an interesting pattern, teachers going on strike probably cause disruption to more people than immigration officers, job centre staff and so on, yet they have more support. It suggests to me that the difference in attitudes towards the different groups on strike is more down to people having more respect or sympathy for some occupations than others, rather than the different amounts of disruption caused by different occupations going on strike.

Note that parents of schoolchildren were not more opposed to the strike (in fact, they were marginally more favourable – the reason is probably demographic – over 60s were by far the most hostile towards the strikes, and are obviously much less likely to have school age children. If you compare people with school-age children’s views to to those of everyone between 25-59 (the age groups most likely to have school age children), views are almost identical.)

People blame the government and the unions roughly equally for the strikes. 36% blame the government most, 33% blame the unions the most, 22% blame them both equally. They are slightly more likely to think the unions are behaving reasonably though – 43% think the trade unions are being reasonable, 36% think the government are. People are also evenly split over whether the trade unions are primarily concerned about protecting their members’ pension rights (41%), or are primarily using it as a way of combating the government’s wider cuts (40%). There is an overwhelming expectation there were are more wide-scale strikes to come.

Respondents thought both Cameron and Miliband handled the strikes badly- Cameron by 53% to 28%, Miliband by 49% to 19%. There is an interesting difference in the partisan balance though. Opinions on Cameron were largely and predictably partisan – most of Conservatives thought he handled the strikes well, most of Labour supporters thought he’d handled them badly. Compare this to Ed Miliband, where his own Labour supporters think he has handled the strikes badly by 47% to 24%, suggesting that criticising the strikes is not chiming with his own supporters.

Turning to the issue of pensions themselves, YouGov asked specifically about some of the changes proposed to pensions. People tend to think it is right that public sector workers should have to pay more towards their pension (by 51% to 34%) and that pensions should be based on average salary rather than final salaries (by 46% to 32%). However, they are less supportive of making public sector employees work for longer before receiving their pensions (44% think this is right, 44% wrong).