Tonight’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll has topline voting intention figures of CON 38%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%. This is the smallest Labour lead YouGov have shown since the start of June, but I’ll add my normal caveat about any poll showing a significant change – it may be meaningful, or may be an outlier. Wait and see if it is sustained in future polls.

Full report tomorrow when the tables are published.

80 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 38, LAB 41, LDEM 9”

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  1. Amberstar,

    I think even his biggest detractors will have to acknowledge that George Osborne has defied expectations as a chancellor. I thought that he was the weakest major member of the Tory shadow cabinet and regretted his appointment as chancellor. However, he’s been notably pragmatic (accepting a rise in capital gains tax and all this bluster about tax evasion as part of the price of coalition) and has his head in the right place about monetary stimulus.

    There was an interesting article in the Economist that showed Spanish and UK statistics side-by-side. While the two countries are similar in many respects (same growth rate, similar deficit) and Spain actually has less public debt, the UK’s cost of borrowing is much lower. This is because we (a) have monetary sovereignty and (b) we have a credible medium-term plan for deficit reduction, which is notably lacking in many Western nations.

    That’s not to say that this is all Osborne’s work or even necessarily an endorsement of the coalition’s strategy. However, I think the consensus 12 months ago was that Osborne was the weakest link. No-one believes that anymore and Ed Balls hasn’t chewed GO up like he did with Michael Gove.

  2. Ding0,

    Muhammad Ali famously won several fights by covering up, letting his opponent tire out and then coming on in the later rounds. The coalition’s strategy is essentially to do the same thing: front-load cuts and get unpopular reforms over with quickly, then ride an economic recovery and deliver tax cuts come 2015.

    There’s many a slip between cup and lip, but the coalition will be quite content with the rounds so far. Labour haven’t yet even worn them down well thus far, let alone landed a Black Wednesday-style early knockout. However, I think this is because Ed Miliband is playing the long-game and avoiding Hague-style opportunism. He’s conserving his energy; it’s just he doesn’t want to conserve it too long!

  3. I too think that there is a subtle shift back to the ,governmen largely down to the shift in news agenda. It has, rightly, focused on the perceived success of the operations in Libya at the expense of the continuing worsening of both the British and world economies. Hence the improvement in Tory VI. For me the fundamentals remain unchanged – we have had one great shift from anti coalition Lib-dems to Labour – everything else is largely as it was with small vatiations around 37;42;10.

    I don’t expect to see any real shift of electoral importance before the latter half of 2012 – when I believe mid-term decline in government support will kick in. At present Tory VI is broadly in lihe with its vote in 2010 – no shift of significance and no anti government protest vote. Cameron is not unpopular with those who voted for him and the 2010 Tories are sticking firm ( broadly)

    My gut feeling is that the next GE will end up with figures like these – give or take a crucial couple of points either way – unless events dictate otherwise..

  4. LD 9% – looks more in line with doorstep intelligence than 15%. Never forget, they got 23% at the last UK GE, and that was on the back of the final YouGov poll measuring Lib Dem VI at 28% (and I can’t recall the Lib Dems criticising YouGov methodology then!)

    Mike Smithson,

    – “Has there been any change in the newspaper weightings?”

    Nice to see that the Mark Senior Fanclub is alive and kicking.

    I wonder when the Lib Dems will actually start to face the horrific reality of the situation they are in, rather than trying to pellet the messenger with flak? The longer they continue in denial mode, the better for their opponents, especially (ironically) the Conservatives.

  5. @Amberstar – ““Tax evasion is morally repugnant” from a Tory chancellor.”

    Who also happens to be the beneficiary of a £4m family trust fund designs to avoid millions in Inheritance Tax liabilities. Phil Hammond saves himslef thousands by naming his wife as a director of his company and shifting shares into her name weeks after the 50p rate is announced and Andrew Mitchel made a big profit from deals via tax haven the British Virgin Islands.

    Of all these complete legal methods to avoid tax, the one I find most odd is the trust fund dodge. I’ve never quite understood why normal people have to pay IT at the going rate, whereas if you place your family wealth in a fancy wrapper you don’t have to.

    My first action in Osborne’s position would be to make the contents on any trust fund that was established for the benefit of a closed group of individual family members liable to a tax at exactly the same rate as IT at the point at which the fund was established.

    It’s just another classic sign of how the tax system is designed to avoid going after the big money and instead loads the pressure onto normal earners.

    That’s what I call morally repugnant.

  6. @alec

    That’s what I call morally repugnant.

    So why didn’t Lab change the tax law to take this into account during their 13 years in power?

  7. @ Stuart Dickson

    “I wonder when the Lib Dems will actually start to face the horrific reality of the situation they are in, rather than trying to pellet the messenger with flak? The longer they continue in denial mode, the better for their opponents, especially (ironically) the Conservatives.”

    Maybe they have but they’ve realized they can’t do much about it.

  8. @Stuart Dickinson

    Your posting is so partisan it is difficult to know where to start.

    Of course you would choose to highlight the 9% from Yougov (who always underestimate the Lib Dems) rather than the recent 15% and 17% figures, which are actually very creditable for the Lib Dems between elections.

    The reality is that Labour are coasting on opposition to cuts and difficult decisions that they themselves would have to have made, while voters have yet to be able to examine what their alternatives might be.

    Once Miliband actually has to propose a budget that actually stacks up (more borrowing or higher taxes anyone?) and policies like his graduate tax (unlimited liability for life after you graduate), I predict that this much vaunted “voting shift” will evaporate very quickly. Until the fabled policy review comes up with its results (and the party can approve them without a major bust up), the current VI figures remain in the realm of fantasy politics.

  9. @ Alec

    “Of all these complete legal methods to avoid tax, the one I find most odd is the trust fund dodge. I’ve never quite understood why normal people have to pay IT at the going rate, whereas if you place your family wealth in a fancy wrapper you don’t have to.”

    I’ve never had a problem with legal tax evasion. If the government wants to close the loophole, they should.

  10. @ Stuart Dickinson

    I would also add that much of the loss in LD Vi has come from C2DE demographic voters. These are precisely the ones who will benefit most from the £10,000 personal allowance. By the next election, there will be millions who will no longer pay any income tax and millions more who pay considerably less of it, mostly concentrated among these groups.

  11. Unless this poll is a Bank Holiday weekend induced outlier, and we’ll find out soon enough on Tuesday I guess, it may well be the first indication of the mild boost to Tory ratings that I always felt would occur in the wake of the rioting and after relatively positive news from Libya. The prime time TV spectacle of recalcitrant looters and rioters trooping through the courts and on to prison, coupled with joyous Libyan rebels trampling through the detritus of Gaddafi’s compound, may well be playing well for the Government at the moment, especially as these images have largely displaced the continuing dire to disappointing economic news from our news screens. It’s also worth noting that Labour, certainly for now, appear to have vacated the political stage.

    As Iceman has already commented, however, the Party Conference season now awaits us and this carries potential hazards for all political parties. If, which is possible although unlikely, the Tories are more or less neck and neck with Labour in the polls by the time of the Labour Conference, then the sullen internal party sceptics may make some unhelpful noises off stage for Miliband. Clegg could come under pressure too from his rank and file if the news agenda still appears to be dominated by the imposition of hard line right wing social policies emanating from Downing Street. Cameron’s problems might come from further poor economic news and continuing chaos in Libya.

    Don’t you just love politics!!!

  12. @ John Fletcher

    That’s what I call morally repugnant.

    So why didn’t Lab change the tax law to take this into account during their 13 years in power?


    The obvious answer to that is that both parties are equally in tow to the super rich.

    Neither wish to risk their wrath.

    Which is why the majority of cuts and tax rises – regardless of government – are always aimed at the poorest and the middle-classes.

  13. “So why didn’t Lab change the tax law to take this into account during their 13 years in power?”
    Tu quoque.

    Do we have to have every criticism of Tory policy with a reply of ‘But Labour!’?
    Same with criticisms of Labour with, ‘But Tories!’ – or LibDems and Labour or X with Y.

    Don’t people get tired of the talking point?

    It doesn’t actually answer the criticism, it just redirect it elsewhere.

    Labour were wrong on tax avoidance – but that doesn’t mean that because Labour were wrong, that the Tories are right because Labour were wrong.
    It’s bizarre twisted logic.

    I’m surprised that nobody’s actually posted the approval figures, etc –
    Government Approval -24 – that seems to confirm a move from averaging -27.
    Also implying that Tory VI has also moved (since Tory VI correlates to approval).

    Leadership approval –
    Cameron -10 (+1)
    Miliband -23 (-2)
    Clegg -45 (+2)
    I’m actually really surprised at Cameron’s approval figure. I was expecting a much larger jump.
    Last week there was only a +1 to Cameron’s approval too.
    But the Cameron-Miliband gap widens by 3, which should please Tories.

    Approval weighted (against last 4 weeks)-
    Cameron -11.5 (+0.4)
    Miliband -21.2 (-1.5)
    Clegg -45.8 (-0.4)

    As far as I can tell, Miliband’s approval is starting to fall back to his pre-NOTW approval while Cameron’s is stabilising at 9 to 11.
    While that is good news for the Tories, by virtue of the ‘Neil Kinnock effect’, it’s still laced in bad news.
    When the NOTW story broke, Miliband’s approval jumped from -34 to -15 over a period of 3 weeks – Cameron has seemed to have no such luck from Libya (despite the jump in Tory VI and approval).
    But, as always – we’ll see next week.

    Right-Wrong for Libya now stands at 41-36 and Well-Badly at 51-25.
    So a majority of people think things are going well.

  14. Asked about various tax changes –
    Abolishing the 50p rate –
    For – 23%
    Against – 59%
    Even Tories are 37-50.

    Perhaps Osborne really needs to rethink his strategy toward the 50p tax – telling everybody we’re all in this together and then scrapping the 50p tax may lead to a small loss of support.

    Mansion tax –
    For – 63%
    Against – 27%
    Good news for the LibDems as it’s their policy.
    If they can get it passed, it should be a PR boon.

    Tax cut for married couples –
    For – 66%
    Against – 22%
    Which is a little strange, as I’m sure when asked if the government should promote a certain type of marriage a majority were against.
    I guess ‘promote’ and ‘a tax cut sounds nice’ are two different things.

    Cutting VAT from 20% to 17.5%
    For – 86%
    Against – 9%
    Tories – 82-15
    So perhaps it would be politically wise for Ed Balls to keep banging on a VAT cut, with the Tories having to publicly defend being against.

    Reducing fuel duty on petrol –
    For – 86%
    Against – 9%
    No surprise there. I’d imagine you would have got similar numbers back when petrol prices were reasonable.

    Interestingly, the LibDems are closer to Labour, than the Tories on every single tax issue.
    If Labour wanted to sap support from the LibDems (at least, support for coalition), perhaps tax reform is one of the areas where they could make some big noise.

  15. “Cameron’s problems might come from further poor economic news”
    Except for continued stock-market tumbles, I can’t see what worse economic news could be coming.

    Our economy (like the rest of the world) is struggling to stay above water – the poor economic news is already here.

    Worst case scenario is another banking crash, but I find it unlikely that it would happen by the October 5th (the last day of the Tory conference).
    If we’re looking at another banking crash, I’d (with my limited knowledge) expect it to happen after November, when the Q3 figures come out.

    If across the west, figures are negative, people will scream ‘Recession!’ and the whole thing could come crashing down.

    Let’s hope not. ;)

  16. Have the Libs given any details of their proposed mansion tax?
    I should think to raise any serious money some fairly ordinary homes in London will get a bill.
    IJust seen a piece on Russian TV saying that the UK and France are allied with the westerners in Libya while Italy supports Benghazi. Italy allegedly is worried its oil interests may be damaged unless Benghazi takes control.

  17. “Have the Libs given any details of their proposed mansion tax?”
    From what I’ve seen, originally it was a tax on properties over £1 million.
    I did hear that it was raised to £2 million after LibDem members complained they would be affected by it.

    But as far as I know, the official policy is properties over £1 million.

  18. .ttp://
    2009 article on the change to £2 million.
    .. and it seems like that was actually in the manifesto.
    I don’t know why I thought it was still £1 million.

    However, there are hurdles – Eric Pickles is solidly against the mansion tax, but he is only really a minor (and relatively unpopular) figure.

    The 50p tax also offers an interesting challenge – Nick Clegg is signalling he’s for abolishing the 50p tax, but many LibDems seem only sure they’d back it *if* they got the mansion tax.

  19. @TingedFringe

    “Do we have to have every criticism of Tory policy with a reply of ‘But Labour!’?
    Same with criticisms of Labour with, ‘But Tories!’ – or LibDems and Labour or X with Y.”

    It’s called yah-boo politics or, in other words; “My party right or wrong”! To some extent, these antics will go on as long as party politics goes on but, as Anthony W said very aptly a few days ago, it doesn’t make for either edifying or enlightening discussion, I’m afraid.

    My side’s better than yours, na ne na ne na na……………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  20. @john Fletcher – “So why didn’t Lab change the tax law to take this into account during their 13 years in power?”

    Er – I don’t know – perhaps you should ask them?

    While I’m not a Labour spokesman or supporter, my guess is that it might be something to do with the fact that Brown was trying to negotiate a global deal with the Swiss for the last ten years, resisting the temptation to cut a bilateral deal as he was hoping to use the UK’s influence to help poor countries secure a deal with the Swiss that would, for example, prevent corrupt leaders in places like Libya from hiding assets in secret Swiss accounts.

    This was boiling up nicely with an EU backed agreement nearing completion, which oddly enough was being blocked by Osborne. This deal would have been tougher on the Swiss and it is almost certain that the rather rushed (and poor value deal for UK taxpayers but oddly enough, a good deal for UK banks)the Treasury has announce was designed to effectively scupper the EU initiative.

    However, this may yet come unstuck. In discussions today I understand that the EU has the power to effectively strike out this deal if the multilateral agreement goes ahead and are examining the legality of the agreement as we speak.

    Since the 1980s, all Chancellors, in my view, have been criminally negligent in allowing the City of London to become the hub of one of the biggest tax haven operations in the world, with repeated failure to act on the dependent territories like the Chanel Islands, Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands, Gibralter etc.

    The latter years of Labour did see some notable successes in this area, but nothing like the action that is really needed. However, what is so galling about this current round of action is that it is being dressed up as a moral crusade, led by a tax evader with the objective to protect the city financiers who back his party from more thorough accountability and provide political cover for a more lenient tax regime on the wealthy.

    @Socalliberal – “I’ve never had a problem with legal tax evasion. If the government wants to close the loophole, they should.”

    Neither do I have a problem with it, in terms of whether it’s legal or not. But that isn’t the issue Osborne raised. He raised the question of moral acceptability, and morality is not the same as legality.

    We had a debate on here over the last few days regarding the wealthy being unable to voluntarily contribute more tax via a direct payment to HMRC, as this would apparently automatically go towards future tax liabilities.

    If Osborne is talking morality, he could very easily ask for his share of the family trust to be removed from this legal distinction so the full amount of inheritance tax is paid as it arises. This would, in my view, be morally acceptable for a man lecturing the nation of fair taxation.

    The bottom line is that I have always failed to understand why we have trust funds for individuals or small family groups, that are in effect mini tax haven mechanisms designed to enable the wealthy to pass on wealth at preferential tax rates.

  21. @Tingedfringe – “Worst case scenario is another banking crash, but I find it unlikely that it would happen by the October 5th (the last day of the Tory conference).”

    Cut out and keep. I don’t share your optimism on dates. We’ll know well before the Q3 figures are out, and looking at the bank lending markets I don’t think some of the European banks will survive until the end of September.

  22. Oldnat: “The management of the project by the Unionist parties in Edinburgh Council has been worse than anyone could have imagined.”

    “Imagined” is the right word. Last time I looked, Edinburgh was run by a Lib Dem/SNP coalition.

    The SNP are therefore partly responsible for the management of the project, by dint of being the ones in charge. Indeed, I believe that the highly capable SNP leader was appointed as a sort of ‘Trams Csar’.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it…

  23. @ Old Nat

    Yes, I think that if things turn really sour in Libya, say Gaddafi fights back and the civil war goes on and on with many more deaths and atrocities, then Cameron could be a big loser. If the NTC turn out not to be too much better than Gaddafi, I don’t think that will harm Cameron too much, though it will be bad for the Libyan people.

  24. Landocakes is correct, the SNP has not come out of this well at a local level in Edinburgh and voters can make a distinction.

    That’s not to say any of the parties have come out of this well but this is no time for point scoring.

  25. @Alec

    Before the last election when Tory policy on IT was still a rise in the threshold I wrote to GO suggesting that in light of the economic situation this was a non-starter. However I suggested that he should remove a number of the allowances and introduce a second lower rate of , say, 20% from the threshold to £1m. This could have been done in a revenue neutral way whilst reducing the tax on the middle at the expense of the very rich. This would have achieved his political objective without the monetary cost. I got the standard reply thanking me for my interest.

    Inheritance tax is a poorly designed tax because it is both progressive at the lower end and regressive at the higher end. The rich, as you have stated, can arrange their affairs to reduce the tax rate whereas those with insufficient assets/opportunity/knowledge cannot. The seven year rule is a big issue. You require enough assets that you can give away some without affecting your lifestyle and good health/luck that you can survive the seven years. It seems very unfair that the tax penalises those without enough ‘spare’ assets or just poor health/bad luck. I think the tax would function much better if the range of allowances were scrapped and a lower interim rate was used for a band that with the nil rate band would cover almost the entire population.

    However the total take from the tax was only £2.8bn in 08/09 and was forecast to fall to £2.2bn in 09/10 so my guess is that it may well disappear totally if we moved to some form of land tax. There is a lot of heat generated by this tax but in fact not that much revenue compared to the big guns of income tax (134bn), NI (95bn) and VAT(67bn). Even stamp duty raises £7bn to put inheritance tax in perspective.

    On the Swiss banking deal the Germans had already concluded their own bilateral deal similar to our one. As the Germans are funding the bulk of the Eurozone bailout I’m not sure that the EU will get very far with their complaints. As for Gordon Brown pursuing a better deal I’m sure that the change in economic conditions has altered the negotiating positions of all parties. If nothing else the ten years of ‘lost’ revenue would come in handy now.

  26. @ Socalliberal

    Yes, I had heard of Jack Layton’s death. My sister and her husband were visiting when he gave up leadership of the NDP, so I was able to get a first-hand Canadian perspective. They both liked Layton a lot, thinking that he was a good man, even though both of them are Liberal voters.

    My sister and her husband were of the view that the NDP did well in the recent election for two reasons, one that Jack Layton was a good leader and well liked across the political spectrum and the other being the Michael Ignatieff was an absolutely dreadful leader. I think that they thought that Ignatieff was more responsible for the Liberals’ failure than Layton was for the NDP’s success.

    What happens in the Canadian polls next will be interesting. It will be interesting to see if Stephen Harper has transformed the Conservatives from a primarily socially conservative party to a primarily fiscally conservative party. As a whole, Canadians, like the British, are more likely to support the latter. The kind of fundamentalist Christian social right-wing agenda of the Tea Party, that has more or less taken over the Republican Party, gets no truck in any of the UK’s mainstream parties or the UK’s electorate and very little with the Canadian electorate, though the Canadian Conservative Party was largely built from that small minority of ultra-right religious conservatives.

    Stephen Harper seems to have realized that such ultra-right policies scare 85% or more of the Canadian electorate and he’s steered the party away from that course. Has he shifted the party sufficiently? Observe the next few years and the election due in 2015.

  27. @Alec,

    I’m interested in your comments on Brown/EU negotiations with the Swiss. Do you have any links for further reading?

  28. Pete B @TingedFringe

    “That’s his problem – he says the ‘right’ things, but nothing seems to actually happen as a result. He risks losing support from the left of the party because of his rhetoric, and from the right because of the lack of action.”

    Heir to Blair

  29. Hi all,
    Sorry to Miss Howard and Richard in Norway earlier, was looking at this Land Tax yestersay, seems a good idea in parts, but not sure of some bits, perhpas on large estates and second homes.. need to sort out off shore I think….. Not totally convinced about the polls (1%) at the moment see how things go aftet the conference season. i Is it the riots, I wonder if there are signs of The Libs moving away….

    If you click on name you can see where syzygy and I are… Pity about the other place… But funny how everyone is comng back here. AW must be very tolerant. School season restarting tomorrow! september already! Could be a tough winter politically.

  30. PamF – “Pity about the other place”

    Huh? Eh?

    Sometimes I feel like a rather out of touch parent round here. Now don’t you lot stay up late, school in the morning.

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