There is a snap Ipsos-MORI poll out, carried out last night after the spending review.

41% thought that the government had made the right decisions, 38% that they had made the wrong decisions. MORI also asked about a few of the specific measures – 73% supported ending child benefits for people earning over £44,000, 61% supporting reducing spending on benefits by £7bn, 60% supported increasing the state pension age to 66 by 2020.Less popular was cutting spending on the police by 4% each year (supported by only 34% and opposed by 62%), and cutting public sector jobs by 490,000, where support and opposition were pretty evenly matched – 45% supported, 47% opposed.

There are also some trackers, which I wouldn’t pay too much regard to (changes there might be a result of the spending review, but could equally just be a result of a very small, quick sample producing strange things – notably the weighted sample included more people claiming to have voted Labour in 2010 than Conservative, not typical of MORI’s polls).

There will, naturally, be a lot more polling to come on this in the next few days. YouGov’s poll for the Sun tonight will have the first regular sample and first voting intention numbers conducted after the review, while weekend polls will be conducted after people have seen newspaper reaction and the political arguments afterwards.

UPDATE: There are also a new set of Scottish Voting intention figures out, topline figures are

Westminster: CON 18%, LAB 44%, LDEM 7%, SNP 26%
Holyrood constituency: CON 14%, LAB 40%, LDEM 8%, SNP 34%
Holyrood Regional: CON 15%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, SNP 31%, Green 6%

Gary Gibbon on Channel 4 has talked about polls plural tonight with bad news for the Lib Dems – so there may be more than just the YouGov/Sun poll to come. Or Gary might just have been being imprecise with his language.

During the day yesterday YouGov asked people for their first reactions to the defence cuts – so this was largely conducted before David Cameron’s formal announcement, but after almost the whole contents had been announced in the morning newspapers.

A majority thought that the size of the defence cuts were either appropriate (38%) or too small (13%), with 37% saying they went too far. The details of the cuts however met with more negative reactions. 48% of respondents thought the reduction in troop numbers was too large, with only 28% thinking they were acceptable.

The most controversial decision in the review, scrapping the Harrier Jet early and leaving Britain’s aircraft carriers without fighter planes until around 2020, was rejected by most respondents. 60% thought leaving carriers without fighters was unnacceptable, 23% that it was an acceptable cut until 2020.

The most interesting question there though was who people thought was to blame. 30% said the coalition and 34% said the last Labour government. Compare that to the regular YouGov tracker on who people blame the cuts in general, which is still finding 48% blaming Labour the most and only 18% blaming the coalition most. My suspicion is that this is because people blame the last Labour government when it is just generic cuts, but once specific cuts are announced they may begin to apportion more of the blame more upon the present government as they are the ones who chose to make these particular cuts.

Voting intention was CON 42%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%.


Ipsos MORI’s monthly poll for Reuters is out, and has topline figures of CON 39%(+2), LAB 36%(-1), LDEM 14%(-1). Changes are from a month ago.

YouGov’s voting intention this morning was CON 41%, LAB 39%, LDEM 12%. There will be the normal YouGov voting intention figures tonight, but unless anything pops up in the papers on Wednesday, those will be the last figures before the cuts announcements tomorrow and will form our benchmark for measuring any immediate impact on voting intentions.

Will there be any? It’s hard to say. The cuts have been very well flagged in advance, but actual details may still come as a shock to voters – there may be an immediate drop in government support, or there may only be a delayed one when the cuts start actually to bite. Theoretically, as with the aftermath of the budget, it could even bolster the government if they are seen to be doing the responsible thing (there could be a combination of that, and then a later drop). We shall see…

Opinion on the cuts

YouGov latest poll for the Sun assesses public opinion on the cuts ahead of tomorrow’s comprehensive spending review.

60% of respondents saw the spending cuts as unavoidable, and most see this as the government’s main motivation in making the cuts. 55% think that the coalition are only making the cuts because they have to and would not otherwise do so; 31% think the cuts are ideological and that the government would be doing similar even if finances were stronger.

Our survey also suggests the public have accepted the argument that the cuts are more the fault of the last government than the coalition. 48% think the cuts are the fault of Labour, 18% blame the coalition and 16% blame both of them.

The Conservatives remain more trusted than Labour on the economy. They lead Labour by 46% to 20% on which party people most trust to cut the deficit, by 34% to 28% on encouraging economic growth, by 31% to 26% on getting people back into work, but by just 28% to 27% on cutting spending in a fair and equal way.

Despite saying they trust the Conservatives more than Labour, the public do tend to agree with some of Labour’s criticisms of the cuts. People are divided on whether the cuts are actually good for the economy – 42% think they are, 39% think they are not. An increasing proportion of the public see them as being done in an unfair manner (47% of respondents), and 44% think they are being done too fast.

While viewing them as unavoidable, respondents also seem apprehensive about the effect of the cuts. Only 9% think the quality of services will be maintained despite the cuts, with 49% expecting they will suffer a little and 35% expecting them to suffer a lot. 56% of respondents view the cuts as having an effect on their own lives.

Asked about specific spending areas, a majority of respondents (53%) think that the NHS should be entirely protected from cuts. A majority of respondents think that the police, pensions, schools and defence should either be entirely or partially protected from cuts. Welfare benefits, international development and local government are the areas the public are most likely to see as prioritised for cuts.

And looking to the future, most of the public are realistic about how long it will be before the government once again has money to spend. Only 12% expect things to be better within two years, 36% expect it to take three or four years, 21% five or six years and 16% more than seven years.

There is a new YouGov poll of London voters here, YouGov’s first for the 2012 London mayoral election.

In London’s Westminster voting intention, Labour is four points ahead of the Conservatives, at 42% (up five from the general election), the Conservatives on 38% (up 3 from the general election) and the Liberal Democrats on 13% (down 9 points, echoing the collapse in support that YouGov’s Great Britain polls have shown.

On the mayoral vote Boris Johnson is doing slightly better than the Conservative party, but still has only a narrow two point lead over Ken Livingstone in first preference votes. The current figures are Johnson 46%, Livingstone 44%, the Liberal Democrat candidate 4% and other candidates 7%. 85% of Conservative voters would back Boris Johnson, compared to 78% of Labour voters who would back Ken Livingstone. Liberal Democrat voters split evenly between Johnson and Livingstone.

In practice the proportion of people saying they will vote Liberal Democrat or “other” in the election will almost certainly rise once other candidates are in place. Livingstone and Johnson have been reselected by their respective parties unusually early with 20 to go until the Mayoral election – too say it is early days yet is an understatement.

My view is these findings are probably pretty positive for Ken Livingstone – at present the Conservatives are still ahead in national polls and about to announce huge cuts, and Boris has only a 2 point lead. By May 2012 they will probably be deep in mid-term unpopularity and I think it’s fair to imagine that the position will have moved against candidates standing on a Conservative platform. The question may well be to what extent can a mayoral contest between two charismatic, very high profile candidates with some degree of independence from their party leadership can seperate itself from the national party battle.

Looking at the other results Boris Johnson himself still has a good approval rating as mayor. 58% of respondents think he is doing a good job as mayor, with 34% thinking he is doing a bad job. On specific issues his highest approval ratings are on his handling of the bus service (54% approval) and the Olympics (51% approval). 46% approve of his handling of crime and 43% approve of his handling of the tube (the only area where he has a net negative rating).

By the standards of British politicians in power, these are pretty positive ratings. They probably don’t translate into a better voting intention figure because the public also have a positive recollection of Ken Livingstone’s period in office – 56% think Livingstone did well as mayor, compared to 36% who think he did badly. Ken Livingstone is almost slightly more likely than Boris Johnson to be seen as competent and in touch. 52% think Livingstone is competent, 44% think he is in touch with ordinary Londoners. In comparison, 45% think Johnson is competent and 40% in touch.