YouGov’s latest poll for the Sunday Times is now up on their website here. Topline voting intention figures, with changes from the end of last month, are CON 40%(+1), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 18%(-3) – that’s the first time the Conservatives have been at 40% and the Lib Dems below 20% since the first leaders’ debate.

There are slight drops in Cameron and Clegg’s approval ratings, but both are still up in honeymoon territory at plus 41 for Cameron and plus 38 for Clegg. 66% think the coalition are working well together, 48% think they are running the economy well (24% disagree, with 28% saying don’t know).

On the Labour leadership, support amongst the general public is now David Miliband 22%(-1), Diane Abbott 13%(+4), Ed Miliband 7%(-1), Ed Balls 5%(-1), Andy Burnham 4%(nc). Amongst Labour supporters the figures are David Miliband 38%(+4), Ed Miliband 11%(-2), Diane Abbott 9%(+2), Ed Balls 8%(-2), Andy Burnham 6%(+2). We are still awaiting any polling of Labour party members or eligible trade union members, which may or may not bear any resemblence to that of Labour voters!

Asked about the potential for cuts in public spending there are the usual rather contradictory answers – asked where the government should cut, the most popular option is (as usual) international aid, followed by benefit payments then public sector pensions. Asked which areas should be protected, the NHS unsurprisingly comes top. Asked specifically if the NHS should be protected even if it means deeper cuts elsewhere, 70% agree. However, asked if they think a properly managed NHS could be better for patients even if the budget was cut, 60% agree. 66% thought most government departments could and should make cuts of 20%.

Perhaps more enlightening are questions on specific cuts in spending. YouGov gave respondents a list of eight spending cuts and asked people if the government should or should not do them. Most popular was cutting international aid (75% thought the government should), followed by ending final-salary pensions for new public sector employees (63% agreed), a majority also supported ending higher rate tax relief on pension contributions (61%). After that it got tricker – pluralities supported means-testing pensioner benefits like free-bus passes (48%), and freezing welfare benefits other than pensions for three years(43%). Other suggestions were rejected – 42% supported taxing child benefit compared to 45% opposed, 31% supported ending final-salary linked pensions for current public sector employees, with 49% opposed. Freezing the state pension for a couple of years was overwhelmingly rejected (18% support, 68% opposed).

Asking about the other side of the balance – tax hikes – 49% of respondents said the government should raise taxes as part of their strategy for reducing the deficit, compared to 39% who said the government should not do so, even if it meant larger cuts. YouGov then asked people to say whether – if they had to choose – they’d prefer income tax to rise, national insurance to rise, or VAT to rise. VAT came ahead on 39%, followed by NI on 27% and income tax on 19%.

The nominations for the Labour leadership are now closed, leaving us with 5 contenders: Ed Balls, David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott. John McDonnell withdrew earlier today and endorsed Diane Abbott, she also recieved a nomination from fellow leadership contender David Miliband.

The latest published polling on public preferences for the Labour leadership were in a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times at the end of last month, which had David Miliband leading on 23%, ahead of Diane Abbott on 9% and Ed Miliband on 8%. Amongst Labour voters, who may or may not be a better reflection of Labour members, David Miliband also led with 34%, ahead of Ed Miliband on 13%, Ed Balls on 10% and Diane Abbott on 7%.

Public preferences of course are largely a matter of recognition – it is worth remembering that in early polls of public prefences in the last Conservative leadership election David Cameron barely registered. What will be more insightful is when we start getting polling of the actual Labour party members and trade unionists who make up the non-Parliamentary part of the electoral college.


The Herald has a new TNS BMRB poll of Scottish voting intentions, I think it’s the first since the general election (the Herald certainly claim it is, and I haven’t seen any others).

Holyrood constituency vote stands at CON 13%(nc), LAB 45%(+8), LDEM 11%(-1), SNP 29%(-6)
Holyrood regional vote stands at CON 12%(nc), LAB 41%(+4), LDEM 12%(nc), SNP 28%(-2)

A solid boost for Labour since the election, especially in the constituency vote. If repeated at the Scottish election next year it would leave Labour on about 60 seats, so not a long way short of an overall majority of 65.

In the light of the Cumbria shootings (they weren’t mentioned in the question, but will obviously have been in the minds of people answering), YouGov have a question in this morning’s Sun on gun control. 69% of people wanted to see tighter regulation of guns (made up of 31% who supported a total ban, and 38% tighter restrictions), 23% were happy with the current situation and 4% thought that existing gun laws should be relaxed.

YouGov have a poll in this morning’s Sun on Israel’s boarding of the Gaza convoy. Asked about the principle of the Israeli blockade of Gaza 22% thought it was the right thing to do, 53% were opposed.

Turning to the specific incident, 55% of respondents thought that Israeli troops over-reacted to people on the ship who were on the whole non-violent, with only 18% saying they were probably acting in self-defence. Only 23% of respondents thought the intention of the convoy was a confrontation with Israel, with 44% believing its genuine intention was to take humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

YouGov also asked a general question about whether people were more sympathetic towards Israel or the Palestinians. 13% were more sympathetic to Israel, 25% more sympathetic to the Palestinians, 41% were not particularly sympathetic to either.

Bear in mind the timing of that final question – no doubt the fact that Israeli soldiers had just shot lots of people on a convoy affected people’s answer to this question, and it if had been asked at a time when there was not a particular controversy about Israel in the news there would probably have been a different answer. However, the point of the question was to repeat of a question YouGov asked back in July 2006 at the time of the Lebanon conflict, a time was Israel was also facing widespread international criticism, and since them public sympathy for Israel has declined significantly (in 2006 20% were sympathetic to Israel, 18% with the Palestinians).

Looking at the crossbreaks, Conservative supporters do indeed tend to be more sympathetic towards Israel, but not by a vast amount. Even Tory voters say by a large margin that they think Israel over-reacted and that the blockade is wrong. There is also a noticable gender difference, with men more sympathetic to Israel and women more likely to be non-committal.