The weekly YouGov/Sunday Times results are now online here. Voting intention is CON 31%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%. The leader ratings are Cameron minus 18 (up from minus 25 last week, and his best rating for a couple of months – perhaps on the back of statesmanlike coverage at the G8), Miliband minus 33 (from minus 35 last week) and Clegg minus 52 (unchanged). The rest of the poll largely covered the NHS and education.

58% of people don’t trust the NHS much, if at all, to be to open about its standards, a drop from last weekend as cover-up stories continue to come out. Neither are people confident that the rules will be changed to stop future cover ups.There is widespread support for the sacking of staff found to be involved in cover ups (88%), their criminal prosecution (71%), and slightly less so for stripping them of their pensions (54%).

Labour continue to have a narrow lead as the most trusted party on education, 26% to the Tories’s 22%. Michael Gove’s approval rating stands at minus 27%, and his flagship policy of free schools is supported by only 29% of people (38% are opposed and 33% don’t know). The balance of opinion is that British schools are worse than those in other western countries, and that standards have dropped over the last three years. In contrast most people think our universities are equal (33%) or better (31%) than those in other western countries, though a majority (63%) think that tuition fees do not represent value for money.

179 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 31, LAB 39, LD 10, UKIP 13”

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  1. The concept of theft as a way of improving a nation’s finances has a long and ‘honorable’ history stretching back to the dawn of civilization, indeed it could be argued that it’s the very definition of civilization. Henry the eighth did it with the church, Elisabeth did it with the Spanish using pirates like drake to plunder Spanish ships laden with plunder from Spain’s empire, colonialism was all about stealing resources. In modern times we have the invasion of Iraq which didn’t go quite to plan and the highly convenient rebellion in Libya, lol

  2. I worked for a company once where a put together a suggestion for a different approach to obtaining and charging customers (basically more maintenance contract than ad hoc repairs). i spent some time with it on costs and risks. looked pretty good to me.

    The Managing Director was more risk averse but he asked whether i wanted to put some of my money into the scheme to offset some of his risk. i said i’d consider it.

    I asked him what shar of the profits i would get. he looked aghast. He was expecting me to put my money where my mouth was, but didn’t want to share any of the profits.

    We parted company…and his company died out a year or two later.

    Not sure what the point of that is…except that the way things are managed in the UK defies any sense.

  3. WOLF
    I was comparing the UK regions and Northern Ireland may have higher percentage London has lower.

    Big Fat Ron
    I you seriously saying that for example the American Health System which costs per capita over twice as much as the UK Public Health System and by all objective criteria overall is at best no better in clinical outcome (but probably worse) is in fact better because it’s private?

    There are clearly huge areas in the public sector such as the Fires Service, Defence ,Policing, Accident and Emergency , Ambulance Service where how much individuals do is dependent on the level of activity they need to respond to.

    It is nonsense trying to compare these to production levels in Private Companies whose purpose is generally the production of goods and services, that is why in general private organisations are not remotely interested in running social enterprises, there is no profit in it and it is difficult to quantify the efficiency of staff.

    Your argument to have validity would have to show when privatising a previously state run service has significantly improved efficiency and reduced the cost to the public.

    If we take as an example the Railways which were publicly owned between 1948 and 1996 When the Major Government sold it off as more than 100 separate companies.

    Prior to privatisation net government financial support fell to as low as 2% and averaged less than 10%.Since privatisation despite rocketing fares net public support has risen to around 40%. Salaries of CEO are more than 20 Times that of British Rail Mangers and Billions have been diverted into profits and bonuses.

    Turning to health

    The impact on the delivery of NHS services of outsourcing to private providers has now been analysed quite broadly. A review of 33 studies looking at the provision of a wide range of NHS services found negative impacts in 18 cases but positive impacts in just 4 cases. The study concluded that “much of the evidence demonstrates either the negative aspects of introducing competition into the provision of health care services or inconclusive results”.

  4. I don’t know why when I suggest that the answer to any financial problems I might have is to rob a bank I’m accused of being leftwing. Most if not all bank robbers I know are decidedly rightwing!!

  5. @Nickp – “problem is, under this new scheme of yours, Alec, if I owned a plot of land with no planning permission and the council offered me some loot for it, i’d decline and apply for permission to develop it.”

    I think the idea is that this couldn’t happen. Land would be released for planning only by this route, ensuring that the planning gain is retained by the people, acting through the council. That’s the whole point of it.

    @Petercairns – I understand what you say about councils being neutral in planning, but at some level, we can’t afford neutrality now. We need around 250,000 homes a year to cope with the rising population, and councils have to be pro active if making land available. This is a good way of doing that, but without the side effect of concentrating wealth in the hands of a lucky few.

  6. Richard
    How many do you know?

    I know quite a few myself in a professional capacity and am inclined to agree .

    Back in the 1980’s and 90’s I considered them shining examples of the lodsamoney Thatcher Culture and there was a tear in my eye every time I had to arrest one.

  7. @ Sine Nomine

    You know exactly why I made the comparison but yet again you trivialised it.
    Actually, I found your comparison trivial but with some relevance from a political perspective. That was addressed in the ‘neighbour’ analogy in my first reply to you. i.e. Governments are not tightening their own belts, they are tightening other people’s. They must be aware of the political consequences of doing so, namely: it is likely to be unpopular.

    If you did not ‘get’ that was my point then no worries, I’ve explained it to you now.

    And I will add that my comments were no more trivial than yours (the personal finances = government finances argument has been done to death & is generally regarded as the last refuge of the economic illiterates).

    My previous comments were an attempt to point this out to you in a good humoured way but you are determined to have a ‘serious’ response – so now you have it, I hope it gives you satisfaction.

  8. @Sine Nomine – “If your home finances were deep in the mire – would you go out and seek yet another loan to pay off your debts or tighten your belt a little and perhaps do without a holiday or buying a new car or having an extension built etc
    It really is quite simple.”

    Actually, it isn’t that simple.

    Refinancing is very common in business, and is very often recommended by the CAB debt advisers when households are in trouble.

    If you can identify a new loan that pays off the old one at a lower rate, then yes of course you would borrow more to pay off your debts – only an idiot wouldn’t, and this reduces your outgoings.

    I would agree that there may also be a need for the tightening of belts as well – all sensible stuff, so long as you make the savings in the right areas, where the savings don’t jeopardise your earning capacity.

    In the case of the national debt, it’s altogether more complex, as borrowing can be for a multitude of things, some of which earn a return. However, the principle is the same. If you can borrow at X% in order to get a return at X+1%, so long as the risk profile is reasonable, it would be foolish not to do so. Indeed, by not borrowing we would be guilty of saddling our children with a poorer future by borrowing too little.

  9. If a household which is struggling could go to their own bank & have it give them the equivalent of £375billion (& more, if necessary) with zero interest & no repayment date then the comparison might be worth dealing with in detail. The household can’t do this. The government can & this one has actually done so. The household analogy is therefore pointless & irrelevant.

  10. Looks like all hell is breaking out in China, the central bank is refusing to bail out the financial sector, it’s says there is plenty of money but it’s in the wrong places

  11. LeftyLampton,

    “I guess it depends whether you see city centres as having the sole purpose of facilitating commercial transactions, or whether you see them as being, in part, communal civic spaces.”

    I see private businesses as having the purpose of commercial transactions. City centres don’t have to have shops to be “communal civic spaces”, so your comment is based on a false dichotomy.

    “And, crucially, making the city centre an attractive place to live, work and shop boosted the city centre housing, retail and office markets.”

    Of course, subsidising businesses and corporations in a particular area will benefit businesses and corporations within that particular area. Similarly, taking money from local people to encourage them to shop in areas they wouldn’t otherwise shop will get them to shop in areas they wouldn’t otherwise shop, though clearly all this pork for high street businesses hasn’t been enough and now they want more e.g. there have been calls for a “supermarket tax” on people who don’t shop where local councillors want them to shop.

    “It’s not ALL about the Market. Even on the High Street.”

    I think that it’s either all about the market on the high street, or it’s not all about the people. Poltiics should be for people.

  12. @ Sine Nomine

    Fair enough, I don’t want to cause any problems so I’ll buzz off for a while until you are feeling less irritable. :-)

  13. Looks like all hell is breaking out in China, the central bank is refusing to bail out the financial sector, it’s says there is plenty of money but it’s in the wrong places

    -A large proportion of it is in the hands of the members of the National People’s Congress so they got that one right.

  14. @Steve
    No, I wouldn’t suggest the US health model as a way forward – it’s a complete crock, delivering marginally better outcomes for those on private insurance at a massively inflated cost, while delivering worse outcomes for those without insurance at a comparable cost to the NHS.

    I specifically said that SOME public service areas are woefully inefficient, and reinforced in my comments with Laszlo that the NHS is NOT one of them, at least IMHO. So you are creating a strawman here…

    In regard to your second point, private sector companies ARE getting involved all over our public services, our ‘social enterprises’. They are making a profit by taking on inefficient processes, making them more efficient (but not always better) and pocketing a chunk of the benefit for themselves. G4S in the police, HSA in healthcare, numerous companies starting to get in to education. These companies aren’t in it as a charity case.

    To me, that is a scandal – not because private sector companies are involved per se, but because public sector management can’t seem to get the efficiencies without bringing them in. Why not?

    How much better if ALL the benefit of the improved efficiency was retained in the public sector? But that requires opponents of public service efficiency on the left to accept that the public sector can and should do better – public sector apologists are its own worst enemies, by denying improvement is possible they set the scene for privatisation.

    My final point: you have brought privatisation into the discussion as if this was some kind of issue. But I have no argument at all with public sector services remaining public sector – however I want them to be subject to expectations for efficiency similar to those in the private sector where those expectations are relevant.

    Pushing paper in the NHS or the council housing office is no different from pushing paper in an insurance company. If government was as efficient as most of the private sector at the dull stuff then there would be more money and resource for the important stuff…and saying this shouldn’t be viewed as a party political issue.

  15. Big Fat Ron
    How are you supposed to measure the relative efficiencies of organisations if you don’t look at those which have been in both public and private sector hands.

    Which parts of the public sector are you actually referring to?
    It’s possible we might agree on some of them.

    Regarding social enterprises private companies unless their motives are non profit are only prepared to participate where there is tangible profit to be made either by the ability to charge for the product or where payment for services is made irrespective of performance and as with my example of Railways there is little evidence that private control produces better outcomes or greater efficiency.

  16. Paul
    “That’s why I love my pups so much.”

    How are Rosie & Daisie ? I haven’t seen much mention of them lately.

  17. chordata

    I think they are a bit bored with politics and squabbling.

    Funnily enough so am I……………….

  18. As this doesn’t appear to have been discussed, is YG planning to poll on the Snowden affair? I would be particularly interested to discover in what circumstances (if any) respondents felt it would be justified to breach confidence obligations by leaking data into the public domain. I’d also be interested in what the public thought the applicable punishment (if any) should be for Snowden.

  19. bigfatron

    It’s prefectly clear what the “efficiency” savings made when the likes of G4S, Capita or Serco move into the public services “market”. They pay less than the public secctor and pocket the difference.

    hard to find a single example where formerly publicly owned bosies provide a better service or even cost the atxpayer less overall. it’s just that the Board gets more of the money and the staff gets less.

  20. RAF
    I often wonder whether polls are held in secret but we only hear about them when the client wants us to do so. I don’t know whether a pollster would only agree to do public polls (that is, the results made public) as a matter of principle, but i cannot think why one would turn down business on that basis.

  21. Research by the Meteorological Office suggests that for much of the 20th century, sooty particles generated by industrialisation made conditions unfavourable for hurricanes. But efforts on both sides of the Atlantic to improve air quality since the 1980s seem to have once more unleashed natural forces that lead to the formation of gigantic storms, such as Hurricane Sandy which devastated parts of New York last October and was the second costliest in US history.

    The British researchers found that pollutants, spread through the atmosphere as aerosols, have the effect of brightening clouds, causing more of the sun’s energy to be reflected back into space. The knock-on effect of this process, on ocean temperatures and circulation patterns, makes it harder to create hurricanes. When the aerosols are removed this brake on storm-generating conditions is released.

    Dr Nick Dunstone of the Met Office, who led the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, said: “Since the introduction of the clean-air acts in the 1980s, concentrations of aerosols over the North Atlantic have reduced, and model results suggest that this will have contributed to recent increases in hurricane numbers.”


    And here’s the bit I really like :-

    “The researchers underlined that the increase in hurricanes had to be balanced with positive effects from the reduction in pollution, in particular the reduction of droughts in Africa and wider benefits for human health.”


    Don’t you just love these weather people?

  22. Sine Nomine.

    On the face of it your right in the respect of joe public borrowing money, rule of thumb don’t borrow more than you can afford to repay.

    However when I first started farming the cost of new equipement and buildings ran into several thousands of pounds which over the years which I borrowed against the farm and it’s produce.

    Now all this borrowing certainly increased productivity however the increased yields mostly went into repaying the borrowing and paying for an increased Labour force and not much into profit.

    My point is although borrowing more money than you can afford is like you say a silly thing to do, in business after making cuts which can remove waste and save capital expenditure, sometimes you have to borrow more than you like to remain competative/ profitable and stay in business.

    It’s that combination of making cuts while increasing borrowing which is the fine balancing act, to many cuts you lose productivity and profit, to much borrowing you increase productivity but have little or no profit to invest in making the business grow, because you pay down debt instead of making profit, those are the every day decisions most business face.

    Governments however in a nut shell spend every penny business and working people give with there taxes and then borrow vast amounts above that to pay for things the country can no longer or never could really afford.
    To pay for that borrowing they expect business to forever expand along with tax revenue.
    So when a world recession sets in fuelled by a banking collapse and business contracts along with tax revenues, instead of cutting back, governments borrow more just to stand still, all the time increasing the countries debt until it all goes bang.

    Then we have austerity followed by more borrowing and the circle goes round and round ah capitalism its a wonderful thing.

  23. RAF

    It would indeed be interesting.

    There is a developing context here, with today’s news of a whistleblower on the Met smear campaign in connection with Stephen Lawrence coming on top of the NHS whistleblowers , & CQC accusations.

    A distinct impression is emerging , of the Secret State, acting covertly in it’s own interests to subvert the interests of the aggrieved citizen.

    My guess is that any OP at the moment would show support for whistleblowing per se-whatever the nature of the information revealed.

  24. @ Steve
    Well, I’d start with the administrative sides of a lot of local government services such as housing, social care, etc. I’d also throw in NHS administration, HM Revenue and Customs, and procurement across Whitehall.

    For some of these (e.g. the tax authorities) I would be very much in favour of efficiency gains being ploughed back into better services, e.g. more and better investigations.

    If you want examples of public service functions that have improved dramatically when forced/given the chance, how about telephone services, water & sewerage and rubbish collection?

  25. Berlusconi is off to gaol. Or maybe not… can we look forward to an appeal by him & his legal team?

  26. Seven years for bungabunga.

    How much will he actually serve?

  27. Bill P

    I understand where you are coming from, but I take a more less dogmatic stance

    Meadowhall is a perfect example of leaving retail and leisure to the market. It has worked, undoubtedly, in its own terms. It has produced a retail environment that attracts shoppers and a big multiplex cinema where you can watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster in as many dimensions as you wish. But if the result is a hollowed-out ghost-town of a city centre, inhabited after dusk (and before) by junkies and winos (which it was) then it’s not a world that I wish to inhabit.

    You could, as you suggest, use planning to allow such city centres to be re-built with housing and let everyone drive out to Meadowhall. You could also develop a city centre that gave up on retail and concentrated on the civic, although whether that would be sustainable without the commercial is debatable. Or you can use public money to encourage a vibrant mix of housing, leisure, retail and cultural facilities and produce a space that people choose to spend time in. You can produce a space in which people choose to shop, go to the cinema, eat, watch a movie, go to the theatre and lie on the grass in the sunshine in the wonderful space of the Peace Gardens – and whilst doing so, feel good about THEIR city.

    Now. Maybe, left to the market, a city centre like Sheffield’s would have emerged spontaneously. Maybe.

  28. “If you want examples of public service functions that have improved dramatically when forced/given the chance, how about telephone services, water & sewerage and rubbish collection?”

    The telephone one is arguable and confounded by huge modernisation and advances, but water has hardly improved (drought affecting supply, larger bills and tax evasion by owners) and rubbish is completely arguable quite apart from the squeezed wages and terms and conditions of those doing the collecting.

  29. @NickP
    ‘hard to find a single example where formerly publicly owned bosies provide a better service or even cost the atxpayer less overall.’

    Really? I would think there are loads of examples, starting with my local rubbish collection, school meal provider and thousand upon thousands more.

    They are all definitely cheaper than the previous state provider; the question about quality of service and product is open however.

    I don’t know why you would say something which is just demonstrably wrong…but it illustrates the difficulty in having a rational debate on this when political views intrude.

  30. Whats the point of even talking about evidence about the improvements or otherwise of privatisation when it will be done anyway?

    @Steve, have you a ref for tge NHS study? I’d like to send it to my MP so I can at least feel like I’m doing something. I can’t sleep at night sometimes thinking of the American horror and what the govt. is doing to the NHS.

  31. Depends if your MP is in the pocket of Capita or one of the health companies waiting to feast on the NHS corpse.

  32. @ BFR

    I think it is not appropriate to lump local, regional & UK wide services together.

    Your private provided, local government funded rubbish collection my be cheaper but in in other local areas it may not be.

    Water & sewage is regional; different regions have different experiences. There seems to be little doubt that the main point for privatisation i.e. that private water & sewage firms could raise capital for infrastructure investment has not been the actual outcome. The majority of privatised water firms have sold assets, paid dividends & steadfastly refused to invest in infrastructure unless the government are willing to fund at least part of it.

    Telecoms was a UK wide service. BT continues to own the majority of the UK telecoms infrastructure. They appear to have taken their duty to invest in infrastructure with at least a modicum of seriousness – I believe that the government have applied pressure &/or regulation to ensure that they did. However, when it comes to providing high speed, high volume capability to remote regions (potentially unprofitable infrastructure investment), BT wants the government to pay for it.

    Of course private sector companies can provide more cost effective services, given they simply refuse to provide anything which, standalone, is unprofitable – regardless of there being a need for some unprofitable services to be provided within the over-all envelope of providing that service.

  33. Italy’s former PM Silvio Berlusconi is sentenced to seven years in jail for having sex with an underage prostitute, and abusing the power of his office.

  34. Big Far Ron
    There is considerable logistical difficulties in only privatising the administration of the public sector it’s a bit akin to moving the HR department of Shell to Barclays .

    I am glad your Bin service has improved mines been privatised and its crap!

  35. The Stephen Lawrence undercover allegation are interesting. This is exactly the point I tried to make a couple of times regarding spying and the recent revelations of data capture.

    I completely accept and support the need for a very active secret service/undercover investigations, but where we always have difficulties seems to be in controlling who the targets are. Large, secretive organisations tend to be run by a restricted group of people, who by definition need to be ‘insiders’. Their views of who and what constitute a threat doesn’t necessarily compare well with what the country at large thinks, and these decision makers are often just plain wrong.

    The Lawrence allegation at present remain just allegations, but I think you would really struggle to find a single normal person in the UK who felt it was a worthwhile use of taxpayers money targeting the family of a murder victim in these circumstances.

    If this story proves to have any truth in it, it will be yet another shameful episode in recent Met Police history, and would prove again the notion that the watchers need watching, simply because we cannot afford to give them blanket trust to choose the right targets.

  36. @RiN – interesting also to see EZ bonds beginning to spike again.

  37. Chasing efficiency is probably why the NHS is struggling; less staff doing more work until something breaks…

    Private care homes are also struggling, home care is also going to be shown to be struggling, again it is going to be poor staffing levels combined with poor pay levels (Chasing efficiency) you only get what you pay for…

    There should be minimum staffing levels for hospitals, nursing and care homes, I believe at the moment we have guidelines for staffing levels which means hospital managers will run at the lowest staff levels possible within the guidelines but no built in redundancy (Chasing efficiency), which was one of the faults of mid staffs hospital problems I believe.

    I think people would be very surprised at just how low staffing levels are… it did surprise me…

  38. Just leaving things to market forces is fantasy economics.

    Because in the actual capitalist world we live in, the goal of business is commonly to accrue capital. Happily, some of the time that can be done by providing a good service at a good price.

    However in reality it may also be done by cornering the market, buying up rivals, bjying up superior (but less profitable) technologies and sitting on them, spreading FUD about rivals, price collusion, asset-stripping, misselling, polluting, behaving in various anti-competitive ways and generally taking the mick.

    Plus, markets can make horrendous mistakes, as we saw with banking.

    So let’s not just leave things to market forces, it’s rubbish. As is my rubbish collection. Water’s a disgrace: costs loads more while they sell off assets.

    G4S? Did so badly and wound up changing their name!!! And then had to bring the army in for the Olympics.

    Then Hospital cleaning? Welcome to MRSA!! ATOS? Would take ages to go through all those misgivings.

    There’s plenty to moan about in the public sector but the idea the private sector is a panacea is a joke.

    Even telecoms, supposedly a success story… took BT long enough to roll out Broadband. Those dial-up rates being rather lucrative being entirely coincidental.

    And I’m just dealing with the claimed successes. Haven’t even got started on things like energy or the railways….

    And anyway, we tried leaving the town centres to market forces and it was rubbish too!! Inflated the price of property, made town centres homogeneous, then when “market forces” made malls and then online shopping cheaper they fled leaving ghost towns?

    Currently “market forces” has betting shops moving in en masse. Maybe not, eh?

  39. “The household analogy is therefore pointless & irrelevant.”

    Don’t forget “and silly” Amber.

  40. Close down the Internet & open State Shops-that’s the answer to the High Street’s problem.

    We could call them GUM. Or E Bah Gum in Sheffield .

    All employees on the State Payroll-Living Wage & Living It Up Pension.

    Think of the service levels we would get-and the variety of products.

    …..bit more pricey I expect ….still.

  41. Yes Colin, faced with plain facts about the many and varied genuine ills of the private sector, respond with a facile caricature. That’ll save the day!!

  42. Could someone remind me what this age-old debate about private vs public (yawn) has to do with polling and voting intention?


    The many & varied genuine ills of the Private Sector are but a match for the many & varied ills of the Public Sector.

    I was talking about Retail-the point being Carfrew-that the customer decides whether your shop is worth patronising.
    The ONLY way to avoid the consequences of his / her choices is to remove the choices.

  44. Colin

    The point is the “choices” are polluted by the various mechanisms of capitalism to accumulate more capital in the ways I described.

    There are still more. Cornering key resources, patent wars, messing with standards, regulatory capture etc etc.

    “Choice” isn’t automatically a good thing anyway. I have the “choice” nowadays to pay a lot more for a rail ticket without clear and easy connections…

  45. Lets call it a day.

    Probably best to look at reality and for everyone to accept that there are some things that the private sector can’t or won’t do, and there are somethings that the public equally doesn’t have the capacity to run. I don’t seriously think anyone is saying that one system or the other should do everything – that would be daft, and as @Howard points out, unless there’s a poll on it, it really doesn’t merit much debate on here.

    Lets talk about badgers instead……

  46. “The many & varied genuine ills of the Private Sector are but a match for the many & varied ills of the Public Sector.”

    Eh?? I made clear in my post there is much to moan about in the public sector. The problem is the idea we can just leave things to markets.

  47. Alec

    I have some Sea Scout badges. Well, I had them is more accurate: they are now lost – but almost definitely not at sea [not that I’ve looked.]

  48. I don’t know if anyone here remembers, but I despaired at finding a job a while ago, and you all gave me really good advice and encouragement. Just wanted you to know I had my third monday at a new job today, my first real day of work after training, and I loved it.

    So thanks to those who gave me advice, and thanks to all of you for giving me something to read in my lunch breaks :)

  49. Congratulations Alex.

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