There is a new ComRes poll up for the BBC’s daily politics. It has David Cameron being rated as being more open and honest than Gordon Brown on the need to cut spending (39% to 25%), and the Conservatives seen as likely to be better than Labour on managing the public finances were they to win the next election – though more people think it would make little difference (28% better, 15% worse, 48% same).

ComRes gave people three suggestions to cut the national debt and a majority of people disagreed with each one of them. 67% said they wouldn’t be prepared to pay higher taxes, 58% said public sector workers shouldn’t have their pay frozen, and 65% said there should not be spending cuts on things like schools and hospitals. It’s tempting to say this begs the question of “well, what the hell would you do then!”, but of course, there are options other than those ComRes suggested (e.g. spending cuts on other things, tax rises that hit other people) that would probably meet with more public support, whether they would address the problem is a different matter.

Finally ComRes asked whether, if the economy did improve, it would be due to the government’s rescue package. 42% said it would be, 51% said it would not.

(In case anyone’s unclear, the normal comments policy is in place for this and other threads. If you want to argue and let off steam, please keep on using the open thread).

Open thread

Since it went rather well last time, and I haven’t had a poll to ramble on about for a day or two, this is an open thread for discussion – normal rules on non-partisanship do not apply.


A lot of interpretation of the polls now is rather skewed by the 20% or so that is still going to others. For example, the Conservative share is still seen in the light of whether they need to be over 40%, and we gasp at Labour being down in the low 20s. Both these are a factor of the “others” being up at 20% or so, suddenly there is less support for the main three parties to share.

This makes rather a mess of our heuristics. Normally saying the Conservatives need to be 40+ is a pretty decent rule of thumb, because its very rare for Labour to drop below the high 20s, so 40+ is what the Tories need to have a lead large enough to win a majority. With a big chunk of support going to “others” and Labour pushed down into the low or mid 20s, suddenly it’s perfectly possible on paper for the Conservatives to get a stonking victory below 40%. In terms of national swing it’s the lead over Labour that counts: Conservatives 42%, Labour 38% has the Conservatives above 40%, but might well leave Labour the largest party. Conservatives 38%, Labour 22% has the Conservatives under 40%, but would translate into a towering landslide victory.

There is also a tendency to talk about what happens when the other vote recedes. The largest chunk of it tends to belong to UKIP, and the broad assumption is that those voters are more likely to move to the Conservatives rather than Labour (though it’s not a given – the assumption that UKIP voters would all otherwise vote Conservative is false). It does depend, anyway, on the assumption that the other vote will go down. It hasn’t so far.

On balance I expect it will, but not yet. The reason is on the graph below.

This shows the level of support for “others” in the polls in the last Parliament. The effect of the European election is obvious – a great big spike in support in mid 2004. Notably, it did not immediately disappear once the European elections had passed, it decayed very slowly, but steadily, over almost a year. Now, the present increase in support for others is, to some extent, almost certainly due to the same reason – the publicity and respectability given to smaller parties by the European elections. With that it mind, I wouldn’t expect it to vanish immediately either, as in 2004, I’d expect it to decline only slowly over several months.

The complicating factor here, of course, is the expenses scandal. Part of that increased support is probably nothing to do with the European election, and is instead down to the expenses scandal. I’d expect that to decay as well to some extent, since the exposes have finished and the news agenda inevitably rumbles onwards, looking for new stories, new issues, new focus. To what extent these people come back, however, is much more of an unknown quantity.

My broadband at home has decided to go down, so apologies if I’ve been something of an absentee landlord for a couple of days. Normal service should be resumed at the weekend. In the meantime, here are some voting intentions for the Scottish Partliament from TNS-BMRB (what used to be called System Three).

Holyrood Constituency vote: CON 12%(-7), LAB 32%(-4), LDEM 11%(+2), SNP 39%(+7)
Holyrood Regional vote: CON 10%(-3), LAB 29%(-1), LDEM 12%(+2), SNP 39%(-1), Green 5%

Fieldwork was 23rd to 29th June, and changes are all since the last System Three poll.