Ipsos MORI have a new survey for the Economist, exploring attitudes to several areas of the new government’s programme.

On nuclear power stations, 59% supported the building of new nuclear power plants to replace those at the end of their useful lives. This was a question that MORI had asked regularly in the past, and was the highest level of support for new nuclear power stations they’ve found so far – the first time over 50% of people supported it. The national citizen’s service programme also met with support. 82% supported a voluntary programme, 80% a compulsory programme (MORI used a split sample to compare attitudes towards whether it should be voluntary or compulsory, but given the sample size the difference is not significant). A majority (60%) also supported the idea that people who refuse a job offer should not be allowed benefits.

MORI also asked about a series of possible ways of saving money. The most popular was ending tax credits for those earning over £50,000 a year, which was supported by 68% – not a hugely surprising finding, taxes (or cuts) that only affect people richer than the respondent are eternally popular. 55% supported the idea of getting voluntary sector organisation to run more training programmes, and 50% supported outsourcing them to the private sector. Much less popular was raising the state pension age (opposed by 60%) or increasing tuition fees (opposed by 62%). On Child Trust Funds, 28% thought they should be abolished altogether, 42% that they should be restricted to only the poorest families.

Perhaps most interesting though were attitudes towards the “big society”. For the actual phrase “Big Society”, 42% of people said they heard about it, but of that 42% only 31% said they knew a great deal or fair amount about it. A third said they’d heard about it, but knew nothing about it. Questions about the thinking behind it revealed divided feelings, 64% of respondents agreed with the statement that the government had tried to do too much, and people should take more responsibility for themselves. However, they also feared that the government may end up doing too little – 50% agreed with the statement that “I am worried that government and public services will do too little to help people in the years ahead”.

People were also less than happy with some of the inevitable consequences of devolving more power to local communities. Asked if NHS services should be same everywhere in Britain, 81% agreed with only 18% thinking people should be able to decide themselves how they are delivered in local areas. This is a paradox we often see in polls on devolving powers locally – ask people if they want more power devolved to local areas, they say yes. Ask if they want the services to be different in different areas – the natural conesquence of this – they say no. It isn’t just because of the unique importance of the NHS either. MORI asked the same question about recycling, and 70% still thought it should be the same everywhere in Britain, with only 29% saying people should be able to decide how it is delivered in their local areas.

MORI also asked directly how many people would like more involvement in how their local schools and hospitals are run. Only between 9-13% said they were actively involved or would like to be, with between 12% and 22% saying they would like more of a say. This seems small, but it’s worth remembering that the concept doesn’t actually need everyone to be a school governor, etc, they just need enough people to get involved to make a difference. The question isn’t whether everyone wants the hassle of involving themselves in decisions over local public servivces – it’s whether they are happy or not for those decisions to end up in the hands of other local people, organisations or businesses rather than Whitehall and Westminster.


As well as the figures from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll there is also a new ICM poll out today, the first monthly ICM/Guardian poll since the election. Topline figures with changes from ICM’s last poll are CON 39%(+1), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 21%(nc)…exactly the same as the latest YouGov figures. 59% of people approve of the coalition between the Conservatives and Lib Dems, with 32% opposed.

There was also a question on PR – 56% of people said they supported a more proportional electoral system, 38% were opposed.


As far as I can see from their website the Sunday Times only reported the Labour leadership figures from their YouGov poll this weekend. The whole poll is now up on YouGov’s website here Topline voting intention figures with changes from last week are CON 39%(+2), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 21%(nc).

David Cameron’s approval rating as Prime Minister is still in honeymoon mode at +42, Nick Clegg’s approval rating is similar at +44. 63% think the coalition partners are working well together.

YouGov asked people if they supported or opposed a series of policies put foward by the coalition. Most popular was an annual limit on immigration from non-EU countries (supported by 81%), followed by scrapping ID cards (63%), banning cheap alcohol from supermarkets (56%) and removing peoples DNA from the national database if they are not convicted (54%). A plurality of people also supported the immediate £6 bn in spending cuts (by 43% to 34%).

The most unpopular policy was the expected rise in VAT to 20%, opposed by 66% of respondents. A majority (61%) also opposed reducing the number of CCTV cameras and a plurality opposed the part privatisation of the Royal Mail (by 47% to 33%). While asked in isolation the VAT rise was very unpopular, YouGov also asked if they would prefer the rise in VAT or large cuts in public spending – in that context 46% of people prefered the VAT, 38% the larger spending cuts.

On the Labour leadership David Miliband remains the clear frontrunner, with 23% naming him as the person they think would make the best leader. Somewhat surprisingly Diane Abbott is in second place on 9%, followed by 8% for Ed Miliband. Diane Abbot’s popularity though is much higher amongst Conservative and Lib Dem supporters – amongst Labour’s own supporters she is in fourth place behind David Miliband (34%), Ed Miliband (13%) and Ed Balls (10%). As I warned last week though, leadership preference questions are this stage are largely name recognition.

Asked who would be the WORST leader, Ed Balls is top with 21%, followed by Diane Abbott on 18%. Amongst Labour’s current supporters Diane Abbott is seen as the worst candidate on 22%, followed by Balls on 13%.

Moving on, YouGov asked about the BA strike and who was most to blame. They found 32% of people blamed the Trade Union, 20% the BA management and 38% both of them. YouGov also asked if various groups should be allowed to strike – there were three groups where a majority thought they should not be able to strike – for both the army and the police 22% thought they should be able to, 69% thought they should not. For NHS staff 36% thought they should be allowed to stike, 55% thought they should not. A plurality also thought energy distribution workers shouldn’t be able to. For the other professions YouGov asked about people thought a majority should be able to strike, including 61% who thought airline workers should be able to.


What went wrong

In the fullness of time I am sure much more will be said about why the polls overestimated the level of Lib Dem support at the election, but there was an interesting nugget from Andrew Cooper of Populus on More or Less on Radio 4 earlier. Populus’s final poll, conducted on the Tuesday and Wednesday of election week, had the Lib Dems on 27%. However, according to Andrew in the fieldwork conducted on Tuesday the Lib Dems were in the high twenties, in the fieldwork conducted on the Wednesday they were on 24%. That looks like evidence of late swing – that the polls weren’t wrong, people just changed their mind right at the end.

However, there is also some evidence that casts doubt on late swing. Because they published in the Evening Standard on Thursday and had a later deadline Ipsos MORI’s final poll of the campaign had the latest fieldwork of all the pollsters – all their fieldwork was conducted on Wednesday… yet they still had the Lib Dems at 27%.

Also illustrative is Ipsos MORI’s post-election poll. Most companies use some form of past vote weighting, so their post-election polls will be calibrated to the new results and won’t really be directly comparable to pre-election polls. Ipsos MORI however don’t use any political weighting, so their post election polls should be conducted in exactly the same way as their pre-election polls. In their post-election poll for the News of the World MORI asked how people had voted in the election on May 6th, and found figures of CON 35%, LAB 31%, LDEM 28%. No sign there of a big drop off in Lib Dem support compared to pre-election polls.

Of course – we know all about the problems of false recall, there may be people claiming to have voted Lib Dem who didn’t actually do so, so this isn’t conclusive either, but it isn’t screaming out late swing.


Time for a catch up of the YouGov polling over the last few days. Questions on the emergency budget show some pretty negative expectations – 70% of people expect the budget to increase taxes paid by and/or reduce benefits paid to people like them, only 10% of people expect to avoid the cut.

In one sense, I suppose the Conservatives wouldn’t be worried by that – they would want people to be prepared for harsh measures. The other findings though indicate a lot of doubt about how they will be carried out. People were evenly split over whether the cuts will be carried out without harming front line services (34% think they will, 36% think they won’t). Almost half of respondents (49%) thought the cuts would not be fair in the way they affected rich and poor, with only 26% thinking they would be. Looking forward, 24% of people think the budget will put the country back into recession, 35% think it won’t, 41% don’t know.

We have the first government approval rating (as opposed to questions on whether people approve of the coalition). Not particularly meaningful yet of course, 34% of people reasonably enough say don’t know, but it’s a starting point – 43% approve, 23% disapprove.

On the Bill of Rights, 24% of people would like to keep the Human Rights Act, 53% of people would like to replace it with a British Bill of Rights. 61% of people think it is a good idea to set up a commission to look at it (though we can’t tell if people think it is a good idea compared to acting now, or a good idea compared to doing nothing).

Finally, perceptions of the party leaders – scroll down to page 7 and the questions on leader attributes for Cameron and Clegg (Brown has obviously stopped being asked about), and look at the way perceptions of them have shifted since the coalition deal. The big shifts for Cameron are more people seeing him as strong (30%, up from around 20% during the campaign) and decisive (32%, up from the low twenties during the campaign) being seen as good in a crisis is still his weakest rating, but is up to 13% from 10% during most of the campaign.

Clegg on the other hand has seen his ratings fall. On “sticks to what he believes in”, he is down to 19% from 27% before the election, honest is down to 28% from 32%, in touch down to 30% from 37%. Of course, the pre-election figures would still have had something of the Cleggmania about them, so while the deal has damaged perceptions of Clegg, he is still viewed more positively than before the leader debates (indeed, it’s possible the fall is due to the debate factor fading, rather than the coalition. We’ll never know).