Tomorrow is a year since the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and there are two polls out this morning on it, covering essentially the same territory – YouGov for the Times and ComRes for the BBC.

YouGov found only 11% of people were able to name the police commissioner for their local area (to put this in context, in 2012 YouGov found 63% of people could name their local MP, in January this year they found 5% could name one of their MEPs). Asked about what difference the PCC had made to their local police force, 63% said they had made no difference to levels of accountability, 64% that they had made no difference to how effective the local police were at fighting crime.

ComRes found a similarly low level of awareness with only 7% of people saying they could name their Police and Crime Commissioner. However in their survey people gave a more positive response on the impact of PCCs – they asked about policing in general, levels of crime, accountability and levels of anti-social behaviour and in every case around 30-40% of people said their PCC had made a positive impact, around 10% a negative imopact and around 40% no impact at all.

I’m not quite certain why the two surveys, similar in their findings on awareness, give such different results on what people think the effect of PCCs have been. It could be a difference between online and phone mode, or perhaps how the questions were worded (e.g. YouGov asked about the effect on “local police”, ComRes on “your region” – or perhaps the option of saying “made no difference” was less prominent in the ComRes script. There’s no obvious answer).

This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 10%. This is the first time YouGov have shown Labour’s lead in double-digits since the beginning of October. Normal caveats apply of course – it’s probably just the top end of the normal margin of error – but the underlying average lead in YouGov’s polls does seem to have crept upwards. In mid-October it was around 5 or 6 points, now it’s around 7 points. Full tabs are here.

YouGov have also reasked their question on the under-occupany charge/bedroom tax, which now shows 42% of people support the policy, 45% are opposed (the equivalent figures in September were 40% support, 48% opposed). Tabs are here.


Tables for the weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%. In the lack of any really big news stories this week, the rest of the poll was a bit of a grab bag of issues – Labour and Falkirk, accident and emergency, cyclists going through red lights…

The ongoing Falkirk story still doesn’t seem to be having a particular impact with the general public. Only 26% of people said they were following the story very or fairly closely – 48% were not following it at all or were totally unaware of it. On most of the questions YouGov asked they found a high level of don’t knows – for example, 19% think Miliband has handled Falkirk well, 36% badly, but 45% don’t know.

On wider trade union issues, 55% would support changing the law so strike ballots required the support of 50% of eligible members, not just of those voting. 65% think the “leverage tactics” used by Unite in Grangemouth were unacceptable and 54% would support a ban on trade unions involved in a dispute protesting outside the private homes of directors.

Moving to the NHS, amongst people who have used their local A&E in the past few years 82% say they received a good service. 18% thought their local A&E services had got better, 23% worse. However 41% thought waiting times had got longer. More generally 50% are confident that A&E will be able to meet people’s needs this winter, 38% are not. If they had to choose, 46% would prefer retaining A&E services even if it meant resources were stretched, 26% would prefer fewer but better resourced A&E.

Finally 44% of people have personally seen a cyclist go through a red light in the last month, 43% have not. 63% think it is fairly or very common for cyclists to go through red lights. 87% of people think this is unacceptable even when a cyclist can see the way ahead is clear and 78% think cyclists who go through red lights should be prosecuted. Amongst regular cyclists themselves (that is, people who say they cycle at least once a week), 18% say they have gone through a red light in the last six months. 24% think it is acceptable to go through a red light if they can see the way ahead is clear and 69% would support the prosecution of people who cycle through red lights.

TNS-BMRB released a new poll on the Scottish independence referendum this morning, showing very little change from their September poll. 25% say they would vote YES (unchanged), 43% no (down one point), 31% say don’t know. Full tabs are here.

Meanwhile this morning’s YouGov/Sun poll had topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. Full tabs are here.

There was an interesting poll the other day from MORI, which found only 20% of people agreeing that rising house prices were good for the country, with 57% disagreeing. This was generally reported as being against the conventional wisdom, and perhaps suggesting that increasing house prices might not be a political positive for the government after all.

Regular readers will be familiar with Twyman’s Law – if a bit of data looks unusual or interesting it is probably wrong. If a poll finding is particularly surprising, then be careful of it. In this case there’s nothing wrong with MORI’s poll, but the reality is a bit more complicated than it suggests. It doesn’t take much hunting about to find other polls showing that more people want to see house prices rise than fall. For example, MORI again from their Halifax housing tracker last year found 33% wanted an increase, 23% a decrease, 31% to stay the same. Much more recently this June YouGov found 32% of people wanted prices to rise, 28% to fall, 30% to stay the same.

These polls make the public look more positive about house price rises, but aren’t actually contradictory. YouGov, for example, might show 32% of people wanting to see house prices rise, but add together those who’d like to see a fall and those who like them to stay the same and 58% don’t want to see a rise. More importantly, they aren’t actually asking the same thing. What people think would be good for the country, and what people actually want to see, are not necessarily the same. In a perfect world we might all wish housing was cheaper, but if house prices fell it would bring with it problems of negative equity and more bad mortgage debts in the banking sector. On a simpler level, what’s good for the country is not necessarily the same as what is good for the respondent personally – the YouGov poll went on to ask homeowners what they would like to see happen to the price of THEIR house, and miraculously support for falling house prices vanished! 64% wanted their own house to increase in value, only 4% wanted it to fall. Presumably people would only like to see the price of other people’s houses fall.

Anyway, from a purely political point of view I suspect we are being somewhat distracted anyway. As with so many things, the political impact of issues is much more than just simple approval/disapproval, it is the wider associations. Increasing house prices are a positive because they are part and package of economic growth, associated with a growing economy, the feel good factor and with homeowning people feeling more prosperous and well off (even if in reality we aren’t, as if we sold our houses we’d only have to buy another one at a similarly inflated price!). Falling house prices are associated with economic decline, falling prosperity and negative equity. Perhaps a day will come when there will be economic growth but falling house prices, and perhaps at that point those associations will change. Until then I suspect that rising house prices will continue to be a political good, whether or not they actually are one.