I haven’t posted the daily YouGov figures for much of this week – simply because there hasn’t been much change – but after a while that itself is noteworthy. For the last three days YouGov has showed the Conservatives with a 2 point lead over Labour, with the Conservatives on 40-41%, Labour on 38-39% and the Liberal Democrats on 11-12%. If there ever really was a slight narrowing of the Conservative lead after the spending cuts it rapidly disappeared again – YouGov’s polls now are basically identical to those before the spending review.

The political debate for most of the week has been about housing benefit, which clearly hasn’t had any effect on support – not that we would expect it to. Straight after the budget in June when the housing benefit cap was first announced YouGov found 78% of people supporting it, ICM found 68% of people supported the cap. YouGov asked again in August as part of a poll to mark David Cameron’s 100 days in power and found 72% in support.

Of course, that was two months ago and it’s possible the focus on people in London losing their homes may have changed opinions… but I wouldn’t count on it. I expect we’ll see some more up to date polling on housing benefit sooner rather than later.

Public Sector voters

There was also a rather unremarked methodology shift from one of the pollsters this week. Back in 2008 when MORI reviewed their methodology after wrongly showing Ken Livingstone ahead in the London mayoral race, they discovered they had too many public sector workers in their telephone samples and started weighting according to it (quite drastically, it’s sometimes a case of almost halving the number of public sector workers). At the time I pondered whether, if MORI have too many public sector workers in their phone polls, would other phone pollsters have similar problems? At the time Andrew Cooper of Populus pointed out – correctly – that it was worth looking at but if there was a problem it shouldn’t affect voting intention as past vote weighting should sort that out.

Well, this month Populus have gone down MORI’s route and weighted their poll by public and private sector employment. As with MORI’s experience, it’s quite a big shift, weighting public service employees down from 19% of the sample to 12%. This may well still not make any difference to voting intention, but it might well make an impact on questions about the cuts, were there are big differences between public and private sector opinions – for example, Populus found 46% of private sector employees thought the cuts were fair, but only 27% of public sector employees.

Voting intention amongst public sector employees is hard to judge, since the sample size of public sector voters in standard polls is often under 200, so is very volatile (for example, this month Populus found the Lib Dems on 17% amongst public sector voters, ICM found them on 8%). Looking at the handful of polls in recent months that have included a public sector cross break though the rough position seems to be that the Conservatives are at around 25%-30% and Labour around 45%-50%. The polls from the last Parliament showing the Conservatives ahead amongst public sector workers seem to be a distant memory.


Today there have been a couple of interesting posts by Mike Smithson and James Frayne on how salient an issue Europe is, or more to the point, how salient an issue it isn’t. Essentially there is no conflict between their views. Europe is, as Mike says, an issue of very low salience that currently excites no one but Conservative diehards and some UKIP supporters (yes, only some, YouGov polling at the time of the last European election suggested that many UKIP voters were more motivated by immigration than Europe as an issue). However, James is also correct that it has potential to be more salient – you only need to look at the graph Mike uses to illustrate his piece to see that back in the 1990s more than 30% of people used to cite Europe as one of the most important issues facing the country.

248 Responses to “End of the week round up”

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  1. Julian

    “Politicians can’t go round telling everybody what they really believe in.”

    She didn’t.

    She said “”Many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists, and we all love the red squirrel,” … “But there’s one ginger rodent we never want to see in the highlands of Scotland – Danny Alexander”

    As has been said-if such a personal remark had been made , by a man, about her , based on her gender , or Dianne Abbott based on her colour, or any uncomplementary remark about any woman, based upon personal appearance, -HH would be in front of the TV news cameras in minutes describing the unfortunate man as a racist bigot.

    What lingers in the air is not the humour in her remark-or DA’s response-it is her hypocricy.

  2. @COLIN
    ”Many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists, and we all love the red squirrel,” … “But there’s one ginger rodent we never want to see in the highlands of Scotland – Danny Alexander”
    Which part of this don’t you think she believes in?

  3. Can I please order 20 sets of step ladders?

    A lot people could do with getting off their high horses tonight ;-)

  4. GARRY K

  5. Garry K

    You got something against “high horses”?

  6. OldNat,

    Garry K

    You got something against “high horses”?</i.

    Yep. The higher it is, the more it hurts when you fall off. (all of us being mortal and all that)

  7. Garry K,

    You’re missing the point.
    Hattie spends her whole time at the top of her equality step ladder moralising at all of us.
    There are plenty of politicians who could say that and get away with it.
    She’s not one.
    It’s not the insult, it’s the hypocrisy.

  8. Garry K

    But even those, like HH, fall even lower when they crawl in the gutter.

  9. Claiming that all horses are high is an insult to all the decent upstanding horses who would never dream of taking illegal substances.

  10. Hooded,

    right of centre Englanders have given me more slus in my life due to my ethnicity than I care to remember. Gingerness is timid in comparison. It actually demeans the racial slurs we do suffer due to being Celts.

    agressive, thick, drinkers, lazy, wife batterers… For a good background see Punch magazine.

    That’s the hypocrisy for me….

  11. Hold the front page.
    Politician in hypocrisy shock.

  12. Julian Gilbert

    “Claiming that all horses are high is an insult to all the decent upstanding horses who would never dream of taking illegal substances.”

    You talked to a bookie lately? :-)

  13. Eoin
    I’d hit them with your knobbly stick if I were you.
    Or the pig you’re carrying under your arm.

  14. Eoin

    So we should ignore the less offensive ones, just because they are less offensive than the normal output from Middle/Upper England?

  15. So would we have all had the same reaction if a politician had stood up and described HH as a “squawking bird”? ;-)

  16. Julian,

    Since they love money so much, I was thinking of bribing them with my crock of gold…

  17. OldNat,

    ginger schminger…. seriously you’re kidding right?

  18. hattie rocks! :) the rodent bit was wrong, i admit, but its not like he aint ginger?

  19. Hooded Man

    If that comment had been made in the context of elections to the governing body of the WRI – probably. Political stupidity is always worthy of adverse comment.

  20. Eoin,

    How dare you lay claim to all those insults!
    Don’t you know they belong to us Scots?! ;-)

  21. I’m afraid I do have a bit of a sense of humour failure over this ginger thing. My stepdaughter won’t walk to school, because to do so she has to walk past a boy’s school (a Catholic one, ironically) where the boys mock her red hair, insult her and throw things at her.

    She even started a Facebook group to campaign against the bullying, and she’s only 13.

    And being ginger may not be strictly speaking an ethnicity, but it is genetic and unavoidable. It’s not a choice.

    Ultimately Hattie herself has apologised, so at least she realises it was wrong. Even if some of you don’t…

  22. hooded,

    to me, scotland and ireland is the one people :) we’ll share em :)

  23. Old Nat,

    Forgive me, was that a yes or a no? :-)

  24. Neil,

    the insults i have witnessed on this board against gays, single mothers, polish workers, pakistanis, scottish people…

    ginger is right down at the very bottom… tell your daughter if it was not ginger, it would her glasses, or her first spot, or her flat chest, or her buck teeth. kids point out difference regardless of how big or small it is… carrot toppers is just too easy to ignore.

    i have a recessive ginger gene that shows itself when i don’t shave… and my good lady is all ginger ;). we’ll cope.

    i never thought i would live to see the day tory posters would lambast celtaphobia :)

  25. Eoin

    On it’s own – trivial.

    Contextualised with the Dimbleby Doctrine on QT (I’m looking forward to that being applied in the next QT from Belfast) – just part of a pattern.

    Upper/Middle England is far more subtle nowadays than 19tyh century Punch cartoons – just as offensive though, and the purpose remains the same.

  26. Eoin,

    You may think so but there are important differences – your crowd are 6% more ginger, so I hear… :-)

    Fair cop, I did see you referred to Celts, missed it first time round…

  27. NEIL A
    I understand you feel strongly about your stepdaughter. But believe me, the boys aren’t mocking her because she’s got red hair, even if they claim it is.
    It’s a 13-year-old schoolboy’s way of getting her attention. They just haven’t quite got the hang of it yet.
    I know, I was a schoolboy once. ;)

  28. Hooded Man

    Don’t try to obfuscate!

    You may have been so long in the South that you have forgotten what the WRI is – or, you were so immersed in the urban jungle of Dundee blaming the English for all your woes that you never gave a passing thought to rural Scotland.


  29. Julian Gilbert

    So Harriet secretly fancies Danny Alexander?

  30. hooded,

    I am lookin forward to your %s (decimals0 on tonight’s poll.

  31. Old Nat,

    My Granny in Murthly was a stalwart in WRI! Her baking kept them
    fuelled and fired for decades!

    It was your second line that muddled me as to your thoughts?

  32. Eoin,

    Sorted in the morning. What are the vague numbers? ;-)

  33. do you think if there was a referendum on the choice between a VAT rise, with no ginger slurs on scots, or ginger slurs on scots with no vat rise, which would Scotland pick? Hmm..

  34. @OLDNAT

  35. hooded, blue 42- red 37- yellow 13

  36. Hooded Man

    Glad that you had the benefit of good WRI baking when young.

    So, is it the lack of that nowadays or the anti-Englishness of your youth that causes your mental confusion?

    :-) :-)

    “Political stupidity is always worthy of adverse comment.” seems a fairly straightforward sentence.

  37. Eoin,

    thanks. I’ll take that for a party so guilty of incompetent and loosely-considered policies ;-)

    in parallel universe, since we’ll never know, I’ll bet you a theoretical pile of money that Labour would have raised VAT….

  38. Old Nat,

    My bad.
    It was just that your penchant for ‘Fe’ sometimes knocks me off the literal

  39. Eoin

    “do you think if there was a referendum on the choice between a VAT rise, with no ginger slurs on scots, or ginger slurs on scots with no vat rise, which would Scotland pick? Hmm..”

    Oh we can all play that game.

    Which would you pick in a referendum – “the extermination of the first born in every Northern Irish family or the extermination of the entire population of Suvalu?”

    In any case – your party along with the other Brits don’t let Scots have a referendum anyway!

  40. Hooded Man

    “penchant for ‘Fe’ sometimes knocks me off the literal”

    That is entirely intentional! :-)

  41. Old Nat,

    I figured that ! :-)

    Canny as ever….

  42. oldnat,

    lol, that brought a chuckle. independance is moslty a false daw. unless you conceptualise a concrete measureable difference to your daily life, what is the point.

    i looked at the dubliners, realised they were more capitalist that the sasenach, and thought to myself, i’ll stick with my welfare state :) An independant scotland would mean the capitalists would consolidate in one new party, get in, and wreck the place.

  43. Eoin

    “the capitalists would consolidate in one new party, get in, and wreck the place.”

    They already have. The party is called Labour – and its nothing to do with what you are trying to achieve with a party of the same name in NI. You are well aware of the corruption that automatically results from one party governance in your part of the UK. The same is true here.

    I have long believed in my father’s “boot” theory of politics – given an extended period of power in any community, the corrupt, the cheats, the liars, the self-interested will automatically join and eventually control that party. The only solution is to “boot” them out on a regular basis so that the criminals don’t get an easy target to control.

    As to independence, we come from different communities with different economic interests. In a Spanish context, I might come from Barcelona, while you come from from Castilla y Leon – we would have very different expectations of what Madrid might give or take.

  44. OldNat,

    almost every fiend i have would agree with you 100%. lol.

    i don’t. but i completely empathise were you are coming from.

    micor-power and localism can acheive the fraternity you seek. Does a national zeitgeist exist? sometimes i wonder. I like community kinship and a consciousness, I do wonder whether such a thing as a nationalist consciousness exists?

    as for Labour, if they went any lefter they would not be in power- ever. we all know that. you have to play the hand of cards your dealt with. On a Uk basis, i am very proud that Labour do that better than anyone. Gordy was a good man.

  45. Eoin

    “Does a national zeitgeist exist? ” No, I don’t think so. But I think you are entirely wrong in imagining that “micro-power and localism can acheive the fraternity you seek.”

    Again we come from totally different political traditions.

    Accepting all the faults that Scots share for what has happened in Ulster (though it wisnae me!) Scotland had never been other than a self-contained political community within the UK, until the centralisation of power that lay at the heart of Socialism – as interpreted by the British Labour Party.

    I remain an unrepentant de-centralist collectivist. A Confederal (not Federal) Europe for the “big” things, and a decentralised Scotland for the rest. Why on earth would I want anyone in London making decisions for me?

  46. Surely the only issue is the survival of the European red squirrel – something that can only be assured by continued membership of the EU.

    Though I suppose localism will allow Parish Councils to breed any colour squirrel they like, red, magenta or green. But will green squirrels be able to pay their rent in Islington with a cap on their nest benefits? Or will we see all poor squirrels driven out into Epping Forest and the South Downs. I guess they can have the comfort of establishing Free Nut Burying Schools

    Apologies to all – but the debate has somewhat deteriorated

  47. Eric Goodyer

    “the debate has somewhat deteriorated”

    I know. I do apologise. This was an issue from a Scottish Conference with comments about a Scots/Irish genetic inheritance, and therefore only relevant in its potential impact on Scottish VI.

    I’ll try really hard, and only comment on things relevant to Hampstead in future – aye right!

  48. I was away from here from early afternoon yesterday and have now caught up with the posts about HH and her ‘ginger rodent’ comment.

    Hopefully this silly issue will not be mentioned any more on here.

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