Two new polls tonight, and both show a one point Labour lead. ComRes’s monthly telephone poll for the Independent has topline figures of CON 37%(-1), LAB 38%(nc), LDEM 14%(+2). Meanwhile the daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%.

The gap between Labour and Conservative is obviously the same (and seems to be very typical of recent polls showing the two main parties pretty much neck-and-neck.) There is more contrast with the Lib Dems: YouGov normally give the party their lowest scores, the 14% from ComRes is one of their better scores of late from a non-ICM pollster.

291 Responses to “ComRes and YouGov both show 1 point Labour leads”

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  1. @Neil A – “OK to think about it but not actually do anything?”

    More a question of whether it is in the power of a government to do anything effective about it… taking steps that do improve the situation somewhat while recognising the reality of structural unemployment perhaps.

    Worse would be to punish those who are affected by it, without actually adressing the problem – or indeed exacerbating the situation.

  2. @Smukesh

    Why would it seem like a increase in Lab lead? I’m not getting this logic. Last week, ICM like a previous ST poll showed a 5 point Tory lead. Then Iposi Mori, and ComRes showed level pegging.

    Then TNS -BRMB, Populus, Angus Reid and some Yougovs showed 1/2 point Labs lead not only in line with previous polling, but Populus, and Angus-Reid like most of the other pollsters’ showed movement against Lab. Only TNS-BRMB showed movement towards Lab. As such, I’d still say the parties’ are very much level pegging.

  3. @Billy Bob,

    For me the influx of hundreds of thousands of unskilled foreign workers into low-paid jobs rather illustrates the true nature of “structural unemployment”.

    Noone takes a job that leaves them no better off than not taking one.

    I am fairly sure that whichever North Wales town “Raymond” lives in has seen its share of minimum wage jobs go to willing immigrants.

  4. BooBoo, It does look like a small improvement in Lab position v cons compared to a week or so ago but not through Lab increase more through some con loss to UKIP.
    No big deal really though.

  5. BOO BOO

    Com-Res yesterday showed a Labour lead and Youguv has shown consecutive Labour leads…
    This might be a lagging effect of negative growth/RBS…We`ll have to wait and see

  6. @ Jim Jam

    A week ago though, Lab were polling two/ one point leads – a week ago, and this week the Tories’ also got a lead. I don’t see any evidence of the Con loss to UKIP many here were predicting – the Tories have been polling within the 38 – 40 point average they’ve been doing so since December.

  7. @Smukesh
    Again, as I’ve stated before 1 point Lab leads are very much within the trends we’ve seen since December. 1 point is well within MOE so I doubt it is a boost especially since ComRes’ one seem to come from a 1 point dip in Tory lead which is well within MOE. YouGov’s lead was Con – 1 Lab +2, which again, is by large MOE movements. There has been no real swing to Lab since the RBS fiasco.

  8. There is no objective way to determine whether it is level pegging or whether Labour have a slight lead. Our instruments do not have sufficient acuity to help us.

  9. Since much of the above discussion seems to be dominated by discussion of the merits of the NHS, could we at some stage take account of a wider sample of opinion by citing the recent polling of attitudes of the general public. On a polling site, that might be a tad appropriate.

    Apparently net public satisfaction with the NHS was at a record high when the present government took office, not that they seem keen to broadcast that fact. A link would be good, if anyone has it to hand.

  10. @Neil A

    Perhaps in other circumstances, “Raymond” and a bunch of his mates could have gone off on a foreign jaunt, slept four to a room and made some money “on the black” for a while, by working well below the regulated minimum for their paticular trade.

    Blame the unemployed, migrant workers. Any other contribution to the debate on structural unemployment?

  11. Phil

    It would be interesting to see that for all four of the NHS systems in the UK.

  12. PHIL
    I have provided a link to two NHS satisfaction surveys polled for DOH.Net user satisfaction from 2008 to March 2010 was 72%.To be fair to Lansley,this had only a slight fall to 70% in December,2010…It is also interesting that the fall in satisfaction was due to non-users having a poorer opinion of the NHS.The report`s authors suggest that this may be due to bad media coverage (I wonder why)

    I don`t have the 2011 figures as they may not be available till May.

    March 2010

    December 2010

  13. @Billy Bob,

    I wasn’t blaming the unemployed or migrant workers. They’re both doing what is perfectly rational and sensible in the circumstances.

    The point is that the current arrangements create a situation where even if there are jobs (and Raymond was jobless throughout the boom years, remember) it is not in the interests of British born people to take them.

    There’s more than one approach to dealing with that reality. Increasing the tax threshold, more generous tax credits for those in work, a higher minimum wage, perhaps (if you could ensure that it didn’t lead to more black-market employment). But I think most people (and the polls agree) think that something has to be done to make the work that is available attractive. Making the alternative less attractive is one very clear way of proceeding.

    When my stepdaughter turned 18, I told her that she had to start paying rent. I set the rate at £25 per week if she claimed JSA, and £15 a week if she got a job. We are in a high unemployment area in the middle of an economic crisis. She got a job.

  14. We’re now enured to YouGov giving the Lib Dems low poll ratings.

    Yesterday’s 14% from ComRes was encouraging. There are now four pollsters showing a significant improvement in LD poll ratings:

    Populus: 13% (up 5 from a low of 8%)
    Com Res: 14% (up 4 from a low of 10%)
    Ipsos Mori: 12% (up 3 from a low of 9%)
    ICM: 16% (up 3 from a low of 13%)

    Some evidence that 2012 may turn out to be a better year for the Lib Dems than 2011.

    Whatever the Labourites on here may say, the Lib Dems are and always have been a progressive party.

    There was nothing progressive about the Iraq War. There was nothing progressive about the ‘light touch regulation’ that allowed the bankers to destroy the British economy. There is nothing progressive about the Labour Party’s infatuation with FPTP. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  15. I’ve noticed something else odd about “Raymond”. His £76 pw housing allowance is significantly less than the maximum rate payable for 3 bed houses anywhere in Wales, and much less than the rate for anywhere in North Wales.

    And why on earth hasn’t he looked for a 4bed and claimed the 4bed rate? Too busy getting p**ed and watching Sky Movies?

  16. @Neil A – as a rampant leftie, my thoughts on the BBC benefits example family are that if that was me, I wouldn’t want the shame of being publicly identified.

    Others have pointed to the expenditure – clearly £60 a month on Sky while no one is working is simply madness – but to go public with denotes a detachment from reality. I’ve no idea what fags cost, but 200 a week and 24 lagers must get you quite close to the £80 deficit, but there were two things above all else that stood out to me.

    Firstly, between them they had 6 children from previous relationships, so they go and have another on the taxpayer. Secondly, he talks of being a educational software designer but there has been no demand for those skills in 10 years. So why not retrain?

    I’m loathe to start frothing at the mouth at examples of people on benefits, but it is unfortunate that there are these examples that degrade everything that is good about the welfare state.

    To provide some balance, Newsnight reported on the head on the Student Loan Company who is now embroiled in a storm over the fact that he is full time employed by the government as a civil servant (on £192,000 a year) but is paid via a service company. This saves him around £40,000 in tax, considerably more that the benefits cap. The deal was apparently approved by Danny Alexander after a special concession from HMRC, which was required as the company auditors didn’t think the deal was legal.

    I make my living as a contractor, and there is simply no way I could ever persuade a client that such a deal was legal – it clearly breaches the tax laws on service provision as it is clear the man was an employee, not a contractor.

    Not only was he scamming from the taxman, but we also paid his travel expenses from Buckinghamshire to the company offices in Glasgow. Most employees have to get themselves into the office, and HMRC don’t allow travel to work as a tax deductable expense, so in my book he is breaking the law here too.

    I’m hoping that we pay as much attention to wasters and scammers at this end of the earnings scale as we do to those hitting the benefits cap, if for no other reason than they are costing us an awful lot more.


    ” the Lib Dems are and always have been a progressive party.”

    Every party (including mine) says that it is “progressive”. It’s a weasel word – utterly meaningless.

    All it suggests that the party concerned is progressing towards its aim. That aim will be different for different parties, hence progression will be in different directions.

    “Light touch regulation” was seen as progressive by those who advocated and introduced it.

  18. @Neil A

    Perhaps Raymond will move to a two-bed with the twins from his first marriage, his wife will move to a three-bed with the three children from an earlier relationship… and the five-year-old could alternate between the two. Double bubble for Sky as well.

  19. Alec
    “I’m hoping that we pay as much attention to wasters and scammers at this end of the earnings scale as we do to those hitting the benefits cap, if for no other reason than they are costing us an awful lot more.”

    Per person maybe, but in total? I’m not so sure. Not always per person even, if the reports of housing benefits of £2000 pw in London are true.

  20. Leftylampton

    “We ought to have the very best of each generation as our leaders. My experience of these two suggests that the HoC is filled with thorough second and third raters”

    Obviously they need to be on pay rates with bonuses in the millions, then we would get talented people like Fred the Shred..

    Good luck with the surgery

  22. @Alec
    Imagine if it had been the head of the Inland Revenue who had engineered a ministerial-sanctioned scam in his personal taxation arrangements. And then remember that the head of the Student Loan Company is in virtually the same bracket, given that repayments of student loans are itemised monthly as deductions on PAYE payslips and also feature in tax returns, a significant number of which were completed online only days ago. Anyone repaying a student loan is going to feel extremely sore about this one through personal experience. This one will run and run.

  23. @Pete B,

    Maximum 5bed rate in parts of London was around £1k pw so £2k is a little exaggerated.

    @Billy Bob,

    That is one downside of the caps, as I’ve pointed out before. Some people may decide “two caps is better than one” and it may discourage the joining of families. Labour’s suggestion of variable caps is interesting and should be explored I believe. I think that’s the lesser of the evils though. What astonished me was the expenditure, and the attitude towards it. This family could save the entire amount lost to the benefits cap, and still spend more money on food than they do now, if they cut out the c***.

    I posted a cynical comment the other day in response to the communist doctrine of “each according to his ability to each according to his need”. This family seem to me to be a classic case of people adapting to exploit that mantra.
    Minimise your own ability + maximise your own “need” = Screw maximum benefit from the system.

  24. NEIL A

    “Minimise your own ability + maximise your own “need” = Screw maximum benefit from the system.”

    Just like MPs etc etc etc then?

    I have no idea how moral behaviour can be inculcated into society, but that so many people at all levels of society operate in that way means that something is badly broken.

    Attacking one type of scrounger rather than another doesn’t achieve anything.

  25. PHIL
    `This one will run and run.`
    How did Danny Alexander sign off on this…Someone on 180 grand paying no tax sounds ridiculous…I mean,accountants may lower your tax but not paying tax or NI contributions at all!!!


    It was Danny Alexander. No further explanation is needed.

  27. OLDNAT
    So there are two types of scroungers,one at the bottom of society and one at the top and the squeezed middle pays for both


    You have missed out all the scroungers in the middle! :-)

    That those in employment – paying PAYE and NIC – are most disadvantaged would appear to be transparently the case.

  29. OLDNAT
    This could be interesting as the Treasury officials are saying that this arrangement saved money for the Treasury…So I`ll be following this story carefully over the next few days

  30. @Oldnat,

    I’ve absolutely no objection to going after people at all levels of society that abuse the goodwill of the state. But each policy should be examined on its merits. A failure of will to deal with, for example, tax evasion, doesn’t invalidate a policy designed to tackle benefit abuse. There is no “rather than another” involved.

    As for Mr Lester’s payment arrangements, they do seem extraordinary. Just to correct one or two impressions though..

    It wasn’t that he “wasn’t paying any tax”. It was that he was paid gross, via his company, and therefore had to sort out his own tax liabilities. This is a common dodge for the wealthy, pretending they don’t have any “income”, just that they own a company that does “business” and increases in “worth”. Lester will have been paying tax, but less of it and in a different form. The BBC reckons about £40,000 a year less. However, this is clearly wrong. The government didn’t hire a company to run the SLC, they hired a person. That person was an employee, not a subcontractor and should have been paid as such.

    Also, it seems the main reason for agreeing to this wierd and dodgy arrangement is that by not putting Lester on the official “payroll”, the government saved themselves a tidy sum. In fact if he had been paid normally it might even have been more expensive, even allowing for the lower tax paid, than doing what they did. However, that just highlights how absurd the payment arrangements and tax system really are, and the paltry sum saved (if any) doesn’t justify the enormous inequity of allowing a well paid executive to escape taxes that the little people have no choice about paying.

    A sorry state of affairs.

  31. Phil

    I can’t think of a poll of the public on the NHS recently but I can think of one of NHS workers done very recently and just released:

    It’s actually about what they think the effects of the various changes will be. They are not enthusiastic and interestingly the clinical staff are even more cynical that the non-clinical ones.

    It’s one of those where the columns for each question go over two pages and I assume the heading “Face-to-face contact with staff” should actually read “…with public” (or patients). Enjoy

  32. And before OldNat says anything, yes they did appear to ask the same questions beyond the North Wind (and in Wales)

  33. @Roger M

    Found it – the source is analysis of the British Social Attitudes survey reported in March 2011.

    “Public satisfaction with the NHS has reached record levels, according to a leading health economist.
    Writing on the BMJ website, Professor John Appleby said 64% of people were either very or quite satisfied with the NHS. Critics have questioned why the government is reorganising the NHS when the public is happy with it.”

    “Professor John Appleby was quoting data from the latest annual British Social Attitudes Survey. It shows satisfaction is at the highest level since the survey began in 1983 and much higher than their levels of 39% in 2001.”

  34. @pete B – every single study, projection, survey and poll I have ever read suggests that fraud, evasion, avoidance and over/underpayments are such that the amounts of income lost to the Treasury are vastly higher at the top of the earnings scale than at the bottom. It’s an absolutely huge problem for society that no one talks about, largely because the media set fall into the same bracket as the scammers like the head of the student loan company. Take a moment to have a look at how many BBC journalists sell their services to the BBC as service companies, for example.

    On the Ed Lester story; I also read that the arrangements ‘saved’ the taxpayer a few thousand, but in all honesty I can’t see how. I think this could well be the government comparing two incorrect or illegal calculations and then drawing the wrong conclusion.

    For a start, all tax/NI remits to the goverment, so I’m struggling to see how a saving on the payments made could be translated into a net saving, as the saving comes from lost taxation.

    I’m also struggling to see how they can produce such a figure, as the final net cost to the Treasury will depend on the tax deductable operating costs of Lester’s service company. He won’t pay 21% on the £182,000 contract as reported – he will only pay 21% on the profit, which may well be very different. At most, the CT would be £38,220. However, we know that £28,000 of the remuneraation package is for a pension, so if all of that is paid into Lester’s pension this reduces the CT tax liability by £5,880. Then he will claim various office and management expenses against his company tax bill – I would expect he can comfortably get this figure to £20,000, but I can’t be sure unless we see the company returns. In total, this would give us a CT tax take for the Treasury of only around £28,000. He’ll probably have a couple of family members on the payroll to reduce further the CT payable with them drawing salaries below the tax thresholds. Drawing income from the company as dividends does incur additional tax if you go over the 40% threshold, but if there are is more than one director you can multiply up the personal thresholds very effectively to draw out substantial sums without any additional Income tax liabilities.

    Had Lester been an employee, I’ve done a quick calculation that he would pay around £6,500 NI, with £45,600 Income Tax, with the figures based on the salary of £140,000 only – not sure about the tax on pension payments, so I’ve left this out. He would be able to reclaaim £5,600 back in pension contribution relief, but he can do this under either arrangement so it isn’t relevant. So immediately we are up to around £52,000, getting on for double what would be payable under the current arrangement.

    VAT shouldn’t be an issue, as I would imagine HMRC will have to pay VAT on the payment to the service company at 20% but the Student Loan Company would presumably be able to reclaim this.

    HMRC theoretically would save the NI payments on the salary, which I reckon would be around £18,300, a big saving but still leaving a fall of around £6000 in the take take done as a company.

    Where I really think thee taxpayer has lost the money is in the treatment of Lester as a contractor and the payment of his travel expenses. These amount to £550 a week – or £28,600 a year. I can’t see any justification for the state paying for travel expenses for an employee to get to work, and this is completely wasted tax money in my view.

    Bottom line is I can’t see any justification for the claim that this arrangement saved the taxpayer money. The gvernment can’t make this claim anyway unless it has full access to the company accounts, so it smells like PR to me to start with. If they think it did save them anything, it’s purely down to their distorted view of what is right and wrong.

  35. I am amazed at the publics perception of the NHS, of course I can only speak from personal experience but my latest experience of the NHS Hospital Service has been shocking. The attention I got from the local cardiology department was totally slapdash, tests not carried out, delays, conflicting advice etc etc. So as I have always had to do over the years when I get anything serious I have now gone private. It will cost of course but I worked hard , saved and invested wisely and can afford to do it. I cannot wait for the real reforms which are needed not the current minor tinkering. The NHS needs total privatisation and funding via a sensible combination of insurance and taxation. Needess to say the care i am now getting is first class!


    @”I am amazed at the publics perception of the NHS,”

    My experience-for what it is worth-is that the medical service is pretty good . The administrative systems are terrible & the nursing very patchy.

    Of course “satisfaction” in any state service can be sustained by spending more & more money on it.

    One of the issues with NHS is sustainable cost. That means reform of working practices must be a target for improved cost efficiency.

    The other aspect of the current NHS reform proposals is the closer integration of Public Health with Medical Care. A more holistic approach to healthcare should, by definition, be more cost effective.

  37. @Colin

    I really think that it will only improve when there is true competition between providers. Incidently I agree some aspects of the NHS are OK, Locally the GP service, and A & E both rate as satisfactory to me but at what a cost ! Enormous sums were wasted for little or no improvement during the Blair/Brown years.

  38. @The Other Howard – “The NHS needs total privatisation and funding via a sensible combination of insurance and taxation.”

    Your obviously not going for breast implants then.

  39. @The Other Howard – “Enormous sums were wasted for little or no improvement during the Blair/Brown years.”

    While I fully agree that not all that is NHS glitters like gold, your line above is an attempt to re write history and your view of the brilliance of the private sector is touchingly quaint. The NHS is remarkably efficient compared to other national systems, and in the UK its’ the NHS that picks up the tab when private sector stuff goes wrong.

    I think anyone trying to use anecdotal evidence or personal experience to assess performance of a large organisation is on very dodgy ground, and it is indeed against the spirit of the whole UKPR philosophy that dictates ‘anecdote = meaningless’.

    All surveys, performance measures, survival rates, treatment counts, satisfaction surveys etc etc show a hugely significant improvement in the NHS during the New Labour years, with signs that this improvement is still continuing today in the early years of the coalition.

    The ‘Other Howard NHS Performance Survey’ isn’t quite so rosy it must be said, but here I suspect some dodgy crossbreaks.

  40. @Colin – “The other aspect of the current NHS reform proposals is the closer integration of Public Health with Medical Care.”

    I agree whole heartedly, but I’m assuming you are aware that your government is proposing to take responsibility for public health from the NHS and give it to local authorities, while squeezing the funding LA’s have to deliver anything worthwhile in this field?

  41. Lord Ashcroft has polled on the unmentionable topic.

    I’ve placed a link on the last Hyperborean thread.

  42. ALEC

    The reports I read suggest that Public Health responsibility will pass together with funding.

    I accept that the latter is not ( so far as I know) ring fenced-and of course LAs will always complain that they don’t get enough money from Central Government.

    By the way-they are your government too-that’s how it works in a democracy :-)

  43. @Alec

    If all is so wonderful i wonder why nearly everyone I have talked to locally has said “” of course I go private now as the NHS hospital service has gone down hill badly” and these are by and large not wealthy people i have talked to. Maybe Surrey has a local problem!

  44. @Oldnat

    I’ve looked at your unmentionable topic PDF from Ascroft, and broadly it’s a 40 for, 60 against Scottish independence. Even 2 years out, those figures would make me think a “No” vote was likely. How are the SNP responding?

    Regards, Martyn

  45. D Abrahams – do you know any Kurds or marsh arabs, I would guess not.

    You main retort to Nick P (I think him) is correct though as (pace Old Nat) progressive hasd become a meaningless word like reform always applied to changes.

  46. ALEC

    @”it is indeed against the spirit of the whole UKPR philosophy that dictates ‘anecdote = meaningless’.”

    Where on earth did you dream that one up?

    Don’t you read Mr. Dick’s posts?

    :-) :-) :-)

  47. @The Other Howard – “Maybe Surrey has a local problem!”

    Possibly, but maybe Surrey likes to boast about how they can afford to go private?

    [Cue smiley thing]

  48. Alec
    “@pete B – every single study, projection, survey and poll I have ever read suggests that fraud, evasion, avoidance and over/underpayments are such that the amounts of income lost to the Treasury are vastly higher at the top of the earnings scale than at the bottom”

    I’ll take your word for it, and fraud and tax evasion should be punished. However, avoidance is a different thing. If you choose to put capital into an ISA rather than a normal savings account you are avoiding tax, which is of course perfectly legal.

    So what is required if you wish to collect more from ‘tax avoiders’ is to change tax law to close some of the avoidance avenues available.

    “He’ll probably have a couple of family members on the payroll to reduce further the CT payable with them drawing salaries below the tax thresholds”

    But how can HMRC distinguish between real and fake payments to family members? For instance, when I was a computer contractor, often working away from home, my wife answered the phone and dealt with customer enquiries and I paid her for that. But on any given day she might not have to do anything for the business. You can’t make employing family members illegal because it would close thousands of businesses including things like corner shops (and News International!).

    I’m not defending Lester, just saying how difficult it is to draw up tax law for these cases.

  49. @ Alec

    A bit of a cheap jibe I think. I tried to use the NHS but it was useless so i was forced to go private, nothing boastful about that but I am afraid typical of the abuse that puts me off commenting on this site.

  50. @The Other Howard – honestly, it really wasn’t meant to be abusive and very sorry if you took it that way – entirely unintentional. It was meant more as a joke at the expense of Surrey in general from a roughtie toughtie northerner, rather than a comment on you personally.

    @Pete B – fully agree. I think the point here is that it is sensible for governments to encourage saving, so some favourable tax treatments are entirely appropriate here. [I would say on ISA’s though, that I fail to understand why there are higher limits for equity ISA’s than for the cash varieties – this alway’s slightly baffles me].

    With the employee/company thing, the Lester case seems pretty cut and dried that he is an employee. The employment of family members as you say, is often highly appropriate, but I think the real issue is people doing a normal job but being paid through and incorporated agency.

    On the Lester rule of thumb, there wouldn’t be anything to stop teachers, roadsweepers or any any other worker to turn themselves into a company. It’s completely wrong, in my view.

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