Following on from ICM’s poll on Saturday, Sunday’s Observer also features a poll showing an increase in Conservative support following the PBR. The Ipsos MORI poll has topline figures, with changes from MORI’s last poll conducted a fortnight ago, of CON 43%(+3), LAB 32%(-5), LDEM 15%(+3).

MORI’s previous poll, as you may remember, famously showed the Conservative lead cut down to only 3 points. That may have been something of an outlier – the Lib Dem figure of only 12% was particularly difficult to believe – and hence the very large shift in this poll may be exaggered, but all the same it suggests a swing back towards the Conservatives since the PBR.

There don’t seem to be any fieldwork dates in the Observers coverage of the poll, though it does make clear it was conducted after the PBR.

The ICM poll we’ve been waiting for these last few days has finally turned up in the Guardian. The topline figures, with changes from their last poll a week ago, are CON 45%(+3), LAB 30%(-1), LDEM 18%(-1). It was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, so this is the first voting intention poll conducted after the full press coverage of the pre-budget report.

It shows an increase in Conservative support and a small drop in Labour, though as ever no single point shift is significant. While this is only a single poll, it is the first poll to show any significant trend away from Labour and back to the Tories for a while. While ICM have been showing the largest Tory leads in recent months, this is still their largest lead since August. As a note of caution though, this poll was conducted at the exactly the point when the media was full of negative coverage about the PBR and secret plans to raise VAT to 18%. Not only is this a single poll that is yet to be corroberated by other companies, we also can’t yet tell if it’s a real shift in opinion, or just reflecting bad publicity for the government at the time it was taken.

Looking at the other questions in the poll, 50% said they approved of the measures in the PBR, with 41% disapproving. Brown and Darling also have a 9 point lead on being the best team on the economy, backed by 46% compared to 37% for Cameron and Darling. The weak point for the government appears to be borrowing. 74% agreed that it was important to “keep borrowing under control so as not to store up problems later”, compared to only 22% who chose the option that “it was important to boost the economy now, even if it means more borrowing and taxes later”.

On the question of whether it is time for a change from Labour, 58% agreed, with 35% disagreeing.


The Times have released a new poll following the PBR. It isn’t the first since the PBR, but unlike YouGov’s respondents would have had chance to see the media reaction following the PBR and start to digest it. It sadly doesn’t have any voting intention figures, but the other questions don’t look particular promising for the government.

As in YouGov’s poll a large majority backed the new 45% tax band – two thirds tough it was “fair and right”. However, it does appear to have sent an unfortunate message: 54% agreed with the statement that it “signals the end of New Labour and a shift to the left”. While a majority (51%) disagreed, a very substantial minority (42%) saw it as an attack on “aspiration and entrepeneurship”.

The most important question in there though, simply because they have the best chance of giving us the best evidence of which way the headline polling figures, are the tracker questions. Brown continues to lead Cameron on who will be the best leader “right now, to deal with Britain’s economy in recession”, but his lead has slumped. A fortnight ago he lead Cameron by 20 points, 52% to 32%, now his lead is down to 6 points, 42% to 36%.

We’ll see if it is reflected in voting intentions when ICM’s poll finally turns up, though the rumour mill is suggesting another big story is brewing…

The full details of the YouGov poll are now up on their website here. Looking at the regular trackers the movement continues to be strongly in Labour’s direction. 28% are now satisfied with the government, compared to 23% last month. David Cameron’s lead as best Prime Minister has fallen to only 3 points, compared to 7 last month. Gordon Brown’s net satisfaction rises to minus 27, from minus 38 last month. On the forced choice question the Cameron/Conservative lead is only 3 points, compared to 10 last month. The Conservative lead on the economy is now just 2 points, compared to 4 last month.

I’ve also had a chance to look at the figures for all the PBR measures YouGov asked about. There is no real surprise – the most popular are give aways and taxes that other people pay, taxes that everybody pays are least popular.

The most popular were the extra money for pensioners and recipients of child benefit (approved of by 81%) and (unsurprisingly given that polls have consistently shown support for a higher tax rate for the rich) the new 45% tax rates for people earning over £150,000 a year. The least popular were “increasing national insurance rates […] so that people earning up to £20,000 a year pay less while those earning more than £20,000 a year pay more” which met with majority approval (51%) but was opposed by 40% and the increase in tobacco, alcohol and petrol duty which was opposed by 49%.

Relatively few people thought they or their families would benefit much from the PBR – 2% thought they would benefit a lot, 26% a little, most not very much (42%) or not at all (25%). As a whole the package was at least seen as fair by 44% of people, unfair by 32%.

While people supported the changes, in every single case a majority thought they would do “not much” or hardly anything at all to lessening the economic downturn. The one seen as most effective was making the increase in tax allowances introduced earlier this year permanent, 41% of people thought this would make either a fair amount or great deal of difference, with 47% thinking it would be ineffective. As a whole a paltry 2% thought the package would do a great deal to help the country, 25% thought it would do a fair amount. The large majority thought it would do not much (53%) or nothing at all (12%).

The level of borrowing was also viewed negatively. While a third of people supported short term borrowing as it would “help Britain’s economy to recover in the longer term”, 50% thought the government was wrong to borrow so much “because Britain’s economy will suffer in the longer term”.

Moving on, YouGov offered people a list of statements about the Conservative party. Rather unenlighteningly, they agreed with all of them! Two thirds of people agreed that the Conservative were right to warn people that increased government spending now would lead to tax rises later, a plurality (45%) thought they were right to abandon their pledge to match Labour’s spending and 42% thought they were right to oppose the PBR as “unaffordable and unlikely to work”. However, people also thought that they were spending too much time criticising the government and that they were dithering. In short, people seem to agree with the Conservative criticisms of the government, but are turned off by the Conservatives making them!

The first poll since the PBR is in the Telegraph tomorrow. The YouGov poll has topline voting intentions of CON 40%(-1), LAB 36%(nc), LDEM 14%(nc).

The poll was conducted Monday evening and today, so was entirely after the PBR, though as I said in my earlier post, it may be too soon for the full effect to be apparent: most respondents will have filled in the survey before seeing the newspaper coverage of the polls this morning. So far there doesn’t appear to have been any significant effect from the PBR: there is no significant change in levels of support, though in the one minor change there is the trend is continuing to run against the Conservatives.

The full figures are not yet on the Telegraph or YouGov websites, but there are some figures mentioned in their report: the Conservatives have maintained their lead on the economy, but Labour continue to be seen as best to handle the current crisis. Looking at the specific measures contained in the pre-budget report, the main ones meet with widespread support…60% supported the cut in VAT, 72% supported the new 45% tax band. However, according to Anthony King’s analysis a large majority of people think none of them will do much to actually help the recession.

Moving to the Conservatives – two-thirds agreed that the Conservatives were right to warn people that tax cuts now would inevitably lead to big tax increases in the future, and about half of respondents said it was wrong for the government to borrow so much as the economy would suffer in the longer term. However, their problem is still that people don’t think they are offering much of an alternative. Two thirds think the Tories are spending too much time blaming the government and not enough saying what they would do.