The full tables for YouGov’s weekly voting intention poll are now up here. Topline voting intention stands at CON 36%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, Others 15%. The rest of the poll covered the economy, the pension strikes, Northern Rock, smoking in cars and attitudes to Margaret Thatcher.

The regular economic trackers show their normal dire figures. People remain evenly split on whether the government’s economic strategy is correct, or whether they should concentrate more on growth and less on cutting the deficit. However, people do tend to accept the claim that Britain would risk similar problems to Greece or Italy were we not to reduce the deficit – 27% think Britain’s economic situation is better than Greece/Italy and we could afford to borrow more, 47% think Britain needs to reduce the deficit or risk going a similar way to Greece/Italy. Asked about how different groups of people have fared during the recession, young people are seen to have been hit the hardest. 65% of people think young people have suffered more than most, 48% think retired people have, 39% public sector workers, 24% women.

There is very little support for reducing the minimum wage for younger people to encourage employment, with only 17% of people saying they would support this and 73% opposed. A majority (56%) also oppose the idea of reducing employment rights to make it easier to hire and fire people. On the subject of foreign workers, 51% think employers should give priority to British workers over foreign workers, even if they are better qualified. 69% think the government should do more to give British workers priority in applying for jobs.

Turning to Northern Rock, people support the sale to Virgin Money by 48% to 23% – not a surprising result in itself. Slightly less predictable was that people trended to think it was a good deal: 50% agreed that the government was always going to make a loss and £747m is a good deal, 34% think the government is losing too much money on the deal and should have held on for a better deal.

Turning to the public sector pension strikes, 49% of people now think it is right for public sector workers to contribute more to their pensions, 35% think it is wrong. 52% of people now oppose public sector workers going on strike over their pensions (up from 49% in September), 35% support it (down from 38%). Asked about the threshold for strike ballots 58% of people think that trade unions should require the support of 50% of eligible members to call a strike, as opposed to 50% of those taking part in a ballot – virtually unchanged from when YouGov asked a similar question in June.

On smoking there is majority support for blank packaging (56%), banning the display of cigarettes (58%) and for banning people smoking in cars with passengers (59%). Only 34% of people, however, would support banning people smoking in all private cars regardless of whether they have passengers. YouGov also broke these questions down by whether respondents themselves smoked, around a third of regular smokers supported the restrictions on packing, display and smoking with passengers in the car.

Finally there were some questions on Margaret Thatcher. She came top when people were asked who was the greatest post-war Prime Minister, picked by 27% of people (more than Churchill, though this may very well be people correctly discounting Churchill’s premiership, though clearly the fact that Churchill comes up second suggests many people didn’t!). Blair was chosen by 9%, Wilson by 6%.

Overall, 50% of people think that Thatcher was a great (20%) or good (30%) Prime Minister, 33% a poor (8%) or terrible (25%) Prime Minister. Only 8% of people thought she was an “average” Prime Minister, people either admire or loathe her. Compare this to when YouGov asked the same question about Tony Blair at the end of September, 6% thought he was great, 33% good, 14% poor, 21% terrible, 24% average – this is a far more even distribution, opinions on Thatcher remain extremely divided.

196 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 36, LAB 40, LD 9”

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  1. @ Apocalypse

    …it cannot be denied that public sector headcount rose between 2007 and 2010. On top of this the public sector were getting at least inflation rate pay rises up until 2010.
    Maybe somebody else already pointed out that we acquired one small & one very large bank during the time you refer to. Have you checked that the figures which you are alluding to exclude those workers?

  2. @RiN

    The ‘lady without hair’ was Mo Mowlam, who appeared to be a woman of great courage, although I think some later reports (spin?) suggested that she was not as effective as her press image suggested. I have no idea what the truth of the matter was, but I respected her as someone to whom principle seemed to matter more than party politics.

  3. @Andy C

    “it is simply unworkable to possibly police it”

    Nonsense. It is policed by the large majority of non-smokers, who make very clear to offenders that smoking is no longer tolerated. When was the last time you saw someone smoking in a pub or restaurant?

  4. @ Alec

    One of the problems in the public sector is that it is easier for poorly performing people to hang on to positions of responsibility…
    Unthinking comment, IMO.

    Please think about this: The public sector employs & promotes people who the private sector won’t employ or promote because they have personal issues e.g. can only work part-time because of disability, have variable health due to physical/ mental conditions &/or have home responsibilities (e.g. they are parents, foster parents or have responsibility for an elderly/ disabled person).

    Isn’t that a good thing? Would we rather the public sector ruthlessly weeded out those who are ‘handicapped’ in their ability to get/ keep a job &/or to be promoted if they do, eventually, find employment?

    You may say: The ones I’ve met showed no sign of any disability & didn’t mention any home responsibilities or issues… well, why on earth would they tell you about it?

    I think on-line polls are already on a bit of a sticky wicket with this… because they attract people who want to give their opinions to on-line poll
    I thought the same till I looked up Youguv for the general election and they were the most accurate at predicting the result

  6. @ apollocyclops36

    Sorry, I misread your name first time I posted a reply to you.

  7. @ SMUKESH

    I thought the same till I looked up Youguv for the general election and they were the most accurate at predicting the result
    I think political party opinions are relatively easy to poll – & even then there is some debate regarding weighting, how the questions are asked etc.

    I think issues polling is more difficult. As Anthony says, it’s only rarely that people are asked how much they care or how strongly they feel about an issue.

    IMO, on-line polls probably have more people who know/ care about issues. e.g. Should Liam Fox go? There were not a great many ‘don’t knows’ regarding that question. In my circle of friends/ family, that question was almost certain to generate the reply: “Who is Liam Fox?”

  8. Amber – the apparent difference in levels of support isn’t necessarily between strikes over cuts or strikes over pensions. I suspect the difference will largely be between asking about “sympathy for” and “support for”… one can easily *sympathise* with the situation someone finds themselves in, without necessarily *supporting* the action they take.

  9. I think the research on smoking in cars is based on the window being closed. I can’t recall ever smoking in my car with the windows closed; I might have done, if it was freezing & I wasn’t driving at the time…

    You see, I can’t smoke & use an ashtray. I am right handed & hold a cig. in my RH, so I can’t use the ashtray, which is center left. Therefore, I have to open the window.

    That’s why I think that this is being made ‘political’ when it should be scientific. Maybe somebody needs to go back & look at the research again to see if it comes to this conclusion for cars with a window open….

  10. @ Anthony

    one can easily *sympathise* with the situation someone finds themselves in, without necessarily *supporting* the action they take.
    Thank you :-) So, perhaps the Unions have a different PR challenge. Rather than widening the ‘remit’ of the strikes, they need to focus on turning public “sympathy” into public “support”.

    It’s still not too shabby a position for the Unions & their members to be in, IMO.

  11. You see, I can’t smoke & use an ashtray.
    Of course that should read: Smoke while I drive & use an ashtray… but you all were probably smart enough to work that out. :-)

  12. crossbat11 (from previous thread but ties in nicely with PM discussions on this one)

    @Roger Mexico

    “While she wasn’t as right-wing as say Tony Blair, she started the process under which he thrived”

    That’s uncharacteristically lazy from you, Roger, isn’t it? I agree Blair was a classic centrist politician, with little or no overtly left wing views, but to say he was more right wrong than Thatcher is to stand the traditional definitions of left and right on their head. His attitude to the public services, for example, would make him a Marxist in comparison to Thatcher, as would his outlook on constitutional reform, social policy and the minimum wage.

    No, lazy is entirely characteristic of me. I’m Manx – we’re experts in it. :) However I do like to be accurate sometimes and I think I am here. The constitutional agenda of Blair’s first term was indeed impressive, but it had nothing to do with him. It was inherited from Smith and from previous commitments by the Party. I suspect if he had realised how far-reaching the results were to be he might have done more to stop it.

    Blair’s own interventions in constitutional matters were:

    (a) Failing to even achieve the complete removal of the hereditary peers from the House of Lords and then doing nothing further to reform it while continuing to stuff it with cronies and ‘helpful’ businessmen.

    (b) Promising electoral reform and then ignoring the subsequent report and not even attempting to implement any of it.

    (c) Trying to abolish the post of Lord Chancellor over a weekend. [1]

    (d) Trying to fiddle things so Ken Livingston couldn’t be elected Mayor of London. [1]

    (e) Elected mayors in general. [1]

    It’s rather sad how often Blair’s defenders have to quote the minimum wage, as if without it the cupboard would be completely bare. This was another long-term pledge that Blair would probably have liked to avoid, but instead he watered it down with lower rates for ‘young’ workers. At least the current government lowered the minimum age for the full rate, which must make them more left-wing.

    As far as social policy goes, I think Labour was more carried on the swell of public opinion than leading it as it did in the Sixties. Even most of the work levelling the age of consent had been done by Edwina Currie under John Major.[2]

    As far as His attitude to the public services, for example, would make him a Marxist in comparison to Thatcher goes, well I suppose that’s true if you equate ‘Marxist’ with ‘bloated bureaucracy’.[3] But I seem to recall that he was always complaining that the public services he inherited from Thatcher and Major needed to be ‘reformed’.

    In practice this always seemed to mean:

    more privatisation (including some I suspect Thatcher would have shunned);

    more deferring of costs to the future with PFI (tentative under Major, compulsory under Blair);

    more ‘choice’ (no matter how impractical, unwanted, expensive or illusory);

    numerous pointless reorganisations (each with its own heavy cost and resulting in and ever-more elaborate management structures);

    increasing spending on expensive advice and complicated computer systems from outside consultants (main advice – spend more on expensive etc) despite this resulting in a string of disasters;

    the introduction of much legislation and criminalisation, partly to appease the passing whims of the Press, partly to try to get everyone to behave in the current approved manner all the time.

    Now all these policies had their origins in the previous regime, but in every case New Labour not only continued them, but intensified them. You may believe these are all ‘left-wing’ actions, but since the current coalition seem only too keen to continue with them, this means they must be even further to the left. You must be very happy. :P

    [1] That went well, didn’t it?

    [2] Perhaps I should have phrased that better.

    [3] Admittedly this then requires you to point out that the US health system, pre-Obama, is the most ‘Marxist’ in the world.

  13. Amber

    Smokers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your lungs

  14. @ RIN

    LOL :-)

  15. @ Roger

    [1] That went well, didn’t it? [Blair attempting to intervene in the London Mayoral selection process]
    Yes, it did. Many of us think it went very well… for our Ken. We believe it helped him to get elected. :-)

  16. Another reason to keep the air flowing through your car.

    Toxic at Any Speed… a report by the Michigan ecology center:

    fire retardants (PBDEs), and plasic softeners (phthalates) are being released from the car interior (heat and ultraviolet speed up this process).

  17. @ Roger Mexico

    Great post.

  18. @ Roger

    Equality legislation, FOI, HRA, Devolution, Employment rights, support for/ expansion of H&S, support for Europe…

    …….were all these right-wing policies too?

  19. Amberstar,

    I don’t think that support for Europe, devolution, FOI and indeed much of the HRA are “left-wing”.

    The equality legislation indisputably was. It was also an interesting example of the development of laws that Hayek had noted: laws have become the commands of the legislature, rather than more or less timeless universally applicable rules for society to follow. One only has to look at how politicians excluded themselves from discrimination laws (for a set time!) to see this development. “The legislature” is no longer thus because it produces the laws, but rather the “laws” have become thus because they are produced by the legislature. Quite an interesting shift.

  20. @ Bill Patrick

    I don’t think that support for Europe, devolution, FOI and indeed much of the HRA are “left-wing”.
    In the Uk, I think they are :-)

  21. Alec
    I agree entirely with your detailed post about the EU, prticularly the bit about them sowing the seeds for extremism and civil strife to arise.

    I am particularly concerned about the de facto rule by Germany (not the EU itself) that is emerging. I suspect that this third time round our spineless rulers will just accept German domination of the Continent.

  22. Further to my previous (no, not more you scream) Labour did have some achievements in power not mentioned. In particular there was a necessary increase in many areas of public spending. Some of it wasted due to the policies discussed and a lot of it went on ‘refilling the aquifers’ – compensating for past underspending and its consequences. But it did make some improvements in those services.

    There was also a genuine attempt to improve the lives of the poorest families with children, both through the benefits system and through schemes such as Sure Start.

    But most of this was seen even at the time as coming from Gordon Brown rather than Blair. And as a quid pro quo Blair seems to have insisted that tax rates for the better off be kept low or further reduced, similarly taxes on companies and unearned income were also lessened. The result was that all this extra spending became unsupported except in the most prosperous times.

  23. Amberstar,

    That would have been a surprise to Michael Foot.

  24. I’m always disappointed by how poorly Attlee reforms. He’s without question the best post-War Prime Minister.

  25. Top Hat,

    “I’m always disappointed by how poorly Attlee reforms.”

    When you’re as virtuous as he was, your character doesn’t need that much reforming.

    Of course, you might mean political reform, in a Ralph Miliband way… ;)

  26. In case anyone is interested amongst us politico-geek-spanners (yes I speak for myself) ‘EURONEWS’ (both Sky and Virgin) is covering the Spanish elections and has exit polls coming up shortly.

    In terms of the result: the two main parties shared 83.81% in 2008: it will be interesting to see how much this declines given the ‘indignados’….

  27. @Bill Patrick; I typoed “performs”. :P

  28. Exits


    43 PP
    32 SP

    seat projections

    186 PP
    118 SP
    15 CIU (Lib Dem centrist)

  29. Rob,
    If those projections are about right I think it means a change of government? If so, I wonder whether economic policies will change.

  30. FRANKG

    @”So no point in any budget discussions and no point in proposing any amendments to the budget – ‘Big Brother’ has decided!”

    I think the EZ input & pressure will probably be at the level of total budget balance , rather than political options for taxing & spending.

    But all of this clearly paves the way for tax harmonisation, and by then, national treasuries begin to be redundant.

  31. @Roger Mexico

    But he could have chosen to ignore those constitutional issues. And you didn’t mention Northern Ireland. Although others played their parts their is no doubt that the process could have failed at many points without direct intervention at the highest level.

    As for the Lords, well we tried. Repeatedly. And in the end the changes were the first of any significance since the 60s (also remember that 90% of people really don’t care, so it’s not as if there would be a great political gain from it (other than removing a chamber that blocks far more Labour legislation than Conservative or Coalition legislation)).


    @”The ‘lady without hair’ was Mo Mowlam, who appeared to be a woman of great courage, although I think some later reports (spin?) suggested that she was not as effective as her press image suggested. I have no idea what the truth of the matter was, but I respected her as someone to whom principle seemed to matter more than party politics.”

    I respected her too Richard.

    She said it how she saw it .

    But her story is a very sad one. Battlinh a brain tumour, her relationships in & conduct of the NI job lead to more & more erratic behaviour & unhelpfully difficult relationships with the Unionists .

    One got the impression that TB had to replace her in the end-but her bitterness at being replaced seemed manifest & I felt for her at the time.

    She was a fighter.

    C4 did an excellent docudrama on her political career, some years ago.
    Julie Walters played Mo in a very moving portrayal.

  33. Pete b

    Economic policies don’t change, just the shape of the vessel

  34. Is it morally consistent to ban smoking in cars without also banning smoking indoors in the smaller rooms of a private house?

    I think if there has to be a new law, it’d probably have to be confined to smoking in a car with a child present. And even then, the efficacy wouldn’t be so much in the enforcement of the law itself (I don’t think many mothers would be stopped by the police and stuck on for it), but in the “child protection” message it would send.

    Social workers would start to mention in their reports that parents smoke in their cars with the children present “illegally” which might start to increase the taboo effect.

    On the whole though I am uncomfortable with that sort of approach to law enforcement. Banning things to “send a message” seems to me a misuse of the law, which should be there to prohibit only that which absolutely must not be allowed.

  35. @ Colin

    Thank you for reminding me of some of the details about Mo Mowlam.

  36. @ Richard in Norway

    Re: Smoking. I know Norway is not Sweden but I was curious if the Norwegians had adopted the practice of promoting Snoof (sp?), which was this smoke free chewing tobacco gum. I had heard that it had cut down dramatically on rates of nicotine addiction and incidents of lung cancer among Swedes as many gave up cigarettes for Snoof instead. I was wondering if there was Snoof in Norway or promotion of it.

  37. @ Neil A


    There is a danger that respect for the law will be diminished if laws are passed that people can ignore with impunity. I suspect that to prohibit smoking in a car would have as little effect as the prohibition of using a mobile while driving, as has already been pointed out earlier.

  38. Quote: “Chris – one would be hard pressed to describe Churchill between 1951-1955 as a great Prime Minister. I suspect *most* people who picked Churchill as Prime Minister were thinking of his Premiership before 1945, not his premiership after 1945.”


    I do agree with your point in relation to Churchill not being a “great” Prime Minister in relation to his final tenture – I think few people would cite it as a career highlight!

  39. @ Richard in Norway

    One other thing. Were my explanations on GOP primary debate commentary sufficient last night?

  40. ALEC

    @”One of the problems in the public sector is that it is easier for poorly performing people to hang on to positions of responsibility”

    Particularly true in the teaching sector, which The Times reports today as the most highly unionised at 54%.

    The paper features yet another depressing article on the way it is virtually impossible for heads to sack inadequate teachers- A procedural nightmare , usually accompanied by the sudden disappearance of the teacher in question on sick leave, thus bringing disciplinary proceedings to a halt.

    THe NUT & NASUWT seem to think teaching is a job for life.

    Role on more Academies & Free Schools-plus the increasingly popular Teach First initiative.

  41. @ Bill Patrick

    That would have been a surprise to Michael Foot.
    Michael Foot was rarely “surprised” by anything.

    I’m guessing you are referring to the pro-Europe policies but I’m fairly sure he supported all the other things that I mentioned.

    I think that Michael Foot approved of the social chapter; he was against Europe when it served only business interests & did nothing to serve the interests of workers.

    If any Michael Foot experts post a rebuttal, I’ll be forced to go a-googling to refresh/ support my memory of his later positions & opinions on European issues.

  42. I must admit I find it worrying (it would be funny if it were a joke), that pro-democratic minded people, never mind many ‘liberal’ people spend an unhealthy amount of their spare time trying to work out how to socially manage another section of society.

    Smokers are a minority, and it seems a minority which many of the country, the government and those in the medical profession have declared open season upon. Any other minority would be running to the court of human rights, but smokers don’t get any sympathy (alcoholics and drug addicts do though, and there is much crime from the latter two).

    Here we have one of the deppest recessions in living memory, if not the deepest. Countries are getting ready to financially collapse. Companies are going bankrupt, and people are losing their homes. The answer?

    “Why, let’s ban something. We have no power to slow or stop the economic issues, so let’s focus on something else. Let’s be seen to be doing something, because we’re powerless to do anything meaningful.”

    I wonder if I should start a smokers’ political party. 20% of the votes would certainly be part of the next coalition. :)

  43. @ Richard W & Neil A

    I suspect that to prohibit smoking in a car would have as little effect as the prohibition of using a mobile while driving, as has already been pointed out earlier.
    It’s at least possible with mobile phones to prove, using records, that the mobile belonging to the driver was being used, in the vicinity, at the time of the offence. Of course, this is not fool-proof, if there is a handsfree kit or there were passengers in the car when the incident occurs. But it does provide some supporting evidence.

    With smoking, it is all down to witness evidence: “You were smoking”, “No, I wasn’t”. So pretty hopeless, from a prosecutor’s perspective.

  44. So cal

    We call it snus, and its very popular here. But its not chewing gum its a type of chewing tobacco.

  45. @Roger Mexico

    I think thou doth protest too much. Your long list of Blairite “betrayals”, obfuscations, policy reversals, triangulations, call them what you will, merely reinforce my point that he was a classic centrist politician with finely honed skills of expediency. The point you made that I took issue with was your claim that Thatcher “wasn’t as right-wing as say Tony Blair,”; per se Blair was more right wing than Thatcher. This is clearly nonsense, unless we want to re-define the labels left and right.

    Thatcher was a politician of the right and not the centre. She believed in, to quote Wikipedia, free markets, financial discipline, firm control over public expenditure, tax cuts, nationalism, ‘Victorian values’ (of the Samuel Smiles self-help variety), privatisation and a dash of populism. Her heroes and inspirations, amongst many, included Ronald Regan, Keith Joseph and Enoch Powell. She didn’t think General Pinochet was such a bad chap either!

    Now, in the eyes of many, Blair committed equally heinous sins but to suggest that he inhabited a political world to the right of Thatcher is, I’m afraid Roger, preposterous.

  46. So cal

    They were indeed but to be honest I couldn’t watch the whole thing, it was way too much religion for my liking

  47. @ Colin

    Role on more Academies & Free Schools-plus the increasingly popular Teach First initiative.

    There’s nothing to prevent teachers in Academies & Free Schools joining a Union, is there?

    All the employment legislation which protects the jobs of teachers in state schools applies equally in all education ‘sectors’, does it not?

  48. Re proposed smoking ban.

    Isn’t it just the BMA proposing this? Tories don’t tend to ban things for no particular reason. I don’t know about Liberals, but if they live up to their name they shouldn’t either.

  49. A wonderful piece of work by Prof. David MacKay is reported today-dealing with the comparative footprint per unit output of various energy sources.

    Any mix of renewables delivers about 2.5 watts /sq. mtr.

    A nuclear power station delivers 1,000 watts /

    The power from a 1000MW nuclear plant would require 1.400 wind turbines ; 140,000 sq miles of PV or 158 acres of bio fuel crop.

    Powering a single car on biofuels for a year would require a strip of land 80mtrs wide & 8 km long.

    Professor MacKay says the problem with renewable energy is that it is “inherantly diffuse”.

    Added to the inherantly unpredictable & intermittent variability of wind , this assessment will make interesting reading for David Mackay’s boss-Chris Huhne.

    Dr. MacKay is chief science adviser to Decc.

  50. Felt sort of smug this morning. Martin Lewis (ubiquitous “Money Saving Expert”) was one of a number of people asked what they’d do to stimulate growth in the economy. His answer was very similar to my “shopping and utility bills” vouchers of a few threads ago!

    Martin, are you a lurker on this site??!!

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