Catching Up

I am back from a week’s holiday when I haven’t been posting much. To fill in what I missed, the most recent voting intention figures from Friday and today are:

YouGov/Sun – CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 10% (tabs)
Populus – CON 30%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 12% (tabs)
Opinium/Observer – CON 29%, LAB 36%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%

Also of interest from the last few days, YouGov found that only 20% of (over eighteen!) people supported reducing the voting age to 16, 60% were opposed. Earlier in the week there was also some YouGov polling on the David Miranda affair – people thought it was right that the security services had such powers by 66% to 22%, but by 44% to 37% thought David Miranda’s detainment was not an appropriate use of the law. That’s not to say the general public paid much attention to the Miranda affair – on Populus’s weekly poll of what news stories people noticed only 4% mentioned it, with Egypt (18%), the Peru drug smuggling girls (15%) and Syria (13%) the most recalled stories.

96 Responses to “Catching Up”

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  1. That Observer one looks a bit different.

  2. Polling stuff…yay!

  3. Not first!

  4. @Statgeek

    Yep, but it’s the same old, same old…..

  5. Not too sure about those southern blue seats and HS2. I’d love to see a by election in one of those seats, with a strong UKIP candidate. (having said that, I’m not too sure what UKIP’s policy on HS2 is).

  6. Ian Bell has words for such as we!

    “One sign that something has gone wrong with your life is when you start the day by looking at opinion polls. As any psephologist could explain, this marks you as part of a statistically insignificant minority with too much time on your hands. Ninety nine per cent of real people will vouch for the fact.”

  7. @Alec

    Those True Blue conservative councils have also been spending a fair whack of council tax on legal opposition to and political lobbying against HS2. I would not shed a tear if this worked out as the equivalent of paying for free UKIP campaigning, making Conservative held areas within competitive reach.

  8. @ Alec,

    HS2 wasn’t there in 1950, so I’d assume Ukip are opposed to it.


    Since UKIP weren’t there in 1950 either, are they opposed to themselves?

  10. @Oldnat

    The day I can pronounce ‘psephologist’ without thinking first, I’ll know I’ve been messing in the polling world for too long.


    Same old. Same new. Maybe the (online) poll companies should prevent people from selecting the same party as last time. That would make things more interesting.

  11. Farage wasn’t there in 1950, so I doubt it’s a prerequisite to UKIP’s thinking.

  12. Labour surely in process of ditching HS2. Makes every kind of sense. Looks financially shrewd. Leaves investment for more pressing northern (where the support is) infrastructure. Counter promise: those east-west lines which need electrification and new rolling stock? Oh, and a tranche left over for sweetening the devolved territories?

    And, yes, I hate the constraints of posting on an iPad.

  13. RiN,

    “depending on your viewpoint as to the natural rate of unemployment, is that the rate that gives the highest corporate profits?”

    No. To get a bit technical: the natural rate (one should really say range) of unemployment is an equilibrium number and has no simple positive or negative relation to profits. Even an economy with no profit-seeking whatsoever has a natural range of unemployment. It is simply the unemployment level at which expected inflation = actual inflation, or put another way the level which would be ground out by general equilibrium.

    That said, it would be good for profits and for the sake of the unemployed if we had faster NGDP growth right now.


    I don’t oppose all government investment (I’m not an anarchist or even particularly libertarian- I agree with Keynes that government spending of a little under 25% of GDP would be ok) but I do oppose government investment as a form of stimulus because it lowers the bar; politicians can justify spending on an economic basis, rather than on its long-term benefits. I do think that governments should invest more during times of higher unemployment, but only because it’s obvious public finance i.e. when it’s cheap to hire people, hire people.

  14. AMBER

    I wasn’t aware that the clothing industry was finding competitive suppliers in UK.

    I think that is great news-and if, as suggested in your link that means less pile it high cheap rubbish & more long lasting garments-and the customer will pay the price-that is all as it should be in my book.

  15. While not infallible (I take Statgeek’s point about Nigel), the 1950 test is a pretty good predictor:

  16. Cardiff study on BBC bias finds that Gordon Brown as PM had twice the coverage given to Cameron… but Cameron as PM gets four times the coverage given Miliband.

    Overall Tories were getting 50% more coverage than Labour in 2007 and in 2012.

    Coverage also found to be anti-EU.
    City financiers were given almost monopoly status when it came to a discussion of bank bailouts.
    The ratio of time given to business/union voices was 5:1 in 2007, and 19:1 in 2012:

    “On the issues of immigration and the EU in 2012, out of 806 source appearances, not one was allocated to a representative of organised labour.”


  17. Yep, but it’s the same old, same old…..


    Well this should make things more interesting…

    “The poll of 2,013 people online between August 21 and August 23 gave Labour 32 per cent of the vote, the Tories 30 and the Liberal Democrats 16. The UK Independence Party was on 12 per cent”

  18. @Alec

    I found this link to Guardian on UKIP’s position on HS2:

    htt p://

    Splitting the Tory vote in the shires, just like over equal marriage, is classic UKIP territory…

  19. @Richard

    The poll you quote vs the last ICM on this site (11th August) is:

    Con 30 (-2)
    Lab 32(-3)
    LD 16 (+2)
    UKIP 12 (+2)

    On the 14th July

    Con 36
    Lab 36
    LD 13
    UKIP 7

    I think the ICM data looks out of kilter with the other polls (LD looks higher, Lab lower), but the poll hasn’t really shifted much from the previous ICM poll.

  20. @catmanjeff

    I think the ICM Sunday Telegraph uses a different methodology to the other ICM ones you are comparing to, I think this was their wisdom index which seems to only be done quarterly

  21. @Richard


    I guess we need to see the tables etc.

    I’m not all together sure about the veracity of the wisdom index.

  22. @catmanjeff

    Looking again, I may be wrong in saying it was the wisdom one, seems out of the normal schedule for that one, I guess we need to wait for the tables to see.

  23. Alec

    I’m not too sure what UKIP’s policy on HS2 is.

    They’re agin it. And their voters are too if you look at the July poll I linked to in previous thread, they’re opposed by 66% to 25%, far more than any other Party.

  24. Richard

    It looks to be the same sample size and also online as the STel Wisdom index is, so it may just be that it’s a bit early. The schedule is a bit haphazard anyway and they did do one last August as well:

    but forgot to tag it with the papers name which is why it’s not on that link you gave. They did them monthly to start with, but it tailed off at the end of the year- presumably because the results weren’t exciting enough.

    More recently they do seem to have been trying to combine the Wisdom Index idea with asking other more conventional questions, but apart from all the usual problems there is also the danger that the ‘wisdom’ type questions at the start may ‘infect’ the later ones and people may answer with what they think people think rather than what they actually think.

  25. AMBER STAR………From previous thread……..I take your point about government intervention, however, since governments deliver via bureaucracies, and I mistrust bureaucracy, I feel it might be a good time to break the mould.

  26. Ken

    Business also delivers through bureaucracy, what’s the difference. I think it’s all in your head

  27. RIN………..It’s certainly not in my hands, if it were I would change it.

  28. Ken

    You seemed to be in despair of things working out your way – so your head in yoor hands would seem to be rather appropriate!

  29. OLDNAT…………You deserve a LOL for that. :-)

  30. Thanks for the various replies. It does start to look like there may be some potential for UKIP nipping votes away from Tories in certain seats.

    Of the big issues for incumbent parties, I always think the big impact seems to come less from those who really want you out, but from your more supporters getting tired and becoming unbothered if you lose. HS2 is that kind of issue in certain areas that might entice home fans to stay away on polling day.

  31. @ Ken

    Business & banking were given the opportunity to run themselves without ‘needless bureaucracy’ being imposed on them. It was an epic fail.

  32. Bill

    Two things, first, the natural rate of unemployment is a purely arbitrary number, second what’s wrong with inflation as a market force? Why is it that inflation which evens out wage inequality is bad? These free market fanatics are hypocr!tes, cos when my wages start rising faster than inflation they want the central bank to stomp on the economy but when their earnings are rising faster than inflation everything’s dandy. The whole thing is rigged

    Anther point is that you know perfectly well that profits margins are best at what the powers that be have decided is the natural rate of unemployment, coincidence? Yeah right, free market my @rse

  33. AMBER STAR……..There’s more than enough bureaucracy, incompetence is its main characteristic.

  34. @ Ken

    Okay, describe to me the characteristics of this bureaucracy which you dislike. You could give examples, if that makes it easier.

  35. Amber,

    To add to your point, it’s not the first time it’s happened. 2008 was not an isolated incident. There was also 1989, 1929, 1893, the list goes on.

  36. @ Mr Nameless

    Yes, indeed.

  37. AMBER STAR……..The Admiralty, more Admirals than ships, perhaps I should direct you to, ‘The Peter Principle’ or ‘Parkinson’s Law’ both humorous, but reflecting the reality of human nature in hierarchical organisations, and now acknowledged as management tools.

  38. @ Ken

    The Peter Principle = Your employer always wants a bit more than you have to give. And Parkinson’s Law = If you’re a salaried employee (or a Merrill Lynch intern?), your employer will always find something for you to do, rather than allowing you to leave when you have performed the work which really needs to be done.

    Don’t blame ‘bureaucracy’ for bad employment practises!

  39. I’d be surprised if HS2 actually caused any Home Counties seats along the route to flip to a party opposed. There’s some big majorities to be overcome and not everyone is near the line or bothered enough to worry about it.

  40. KeithP

    Maybe not Home Counties, but definitely some seats along the route could fall with a split vote. Tories very vulnerable in North Warwickshire, Warwick and Leamington, and Labour could squeak in in Meriden if the right is split and they hoover up the Lib Dem vote.

  41. AMBER STAR……..I’m not blaming anything, I’m simply explaining the inadequacy of the bureaucratic model when applied by humans. :-)

  42. Uxbridge and South Ruislip too, very much leafy-suburbs.

  43. It’s more than 30 years since I read any Durkheim and I didn’t enjoy it then but I seem to remember than when he studied Bureaucracy he concluded two things;

    That they tend to grow and slow over time and are a cumbersome form of administration, and

    You can’t run a large complex organisation let alone a government or country without one and no attempt to do so has or could succeed.

    As to Admirals and ships. as ships get more powerful and sophisticated you need lees of them but they still need to be organised planned and procured.

    As processes become more efficient we need less Labour especially manual Labour but they can still need the same management.

    Replacing 1,000 workers with 100 robots in a Car Plant would save on the Personnel department and Catering but you’d still need, engineers, maintenance, marketting and accounts.

    As we cut out low paid manual jobs the ratio of managers to front line staff changes but that doesn’t mean you should believe the nonsense about to many managers sitting doing nothing and not enough Nurses, teachers bobbies on the beat etc.

    My favour defence of bureaucracy is the Gulf War “Tooth to Tail” ration

    As I remember around the time of the Invasion of Kuwait the Iraqi’s had about 2:3, two front line combat troops to every three in logistics and support.

    The Allies had 1:4, four in support for every solider in combat.

    On paper we are far more bureaucratic; in combat we didn’t just beat them we annihilated them.


  44. TSEofPB [email protected]
    Tonight’s YouGov for the Sunday Times

    Lab 38
    Con 32
    UKIP 13
    LD 10

    So we have UKIP matching their highest ever poll with yougov, we have Labour at their lowest ever level with ICM.

    Lib Dems also seem to be recovering somewhat over the past few weeks.

  45. That should be labour at their lowest level with ICM since shortly after the 2010 elections…

  46. Richard in Norway,

    “the natural rate of unemployment is a purely arbitrary number”


    “what’s wrong with inflation as a market force?”

    Actually I have no problem with inflation which results from market forces e.g. a fall in the supply of oil that temporary reduces aggregate output. That inflation is not only usually a short-term phenomenon, but is positively beneficial because the prices make it profitable to invest in dealing with the problem.

    “Why is it that inflation which evens out wage inequality is bad?”

    I have no idea where you get the idea that inflation evens out wage inequality. You can have high inflation with high wage inequality (as in many Latin American countries) and low inflation/deflation with low wage inequality (as in Japan).

    You don’t name the people you’re criticising in the rest of your comment, and I don’t think that I’m among them, so this all goes to prove my point that I don’t think that this will be a useful discussion.

    Moving on…

    Labour on 32% is such an outlier that I’m stunned, but the fact that we’re seeing it all suggests a softening of Labour support. However, I continue to believe that the fall in Labour support is a one-off due to UKIP picking up a lot of the “I’m mad as … and I’m not going to take it anymore” vote, rather than the coalition getting credit for any improvement in the economic situation.

    Labour are still on course to win a small-to-moderate majority, even if there is no general enthusiasm for them right now. One can’t help but be reminded of the 1974 elections and the 1929, when Labour had weak support but even weaker opponents. Even if the UKIP vote imploded, I think that a lot of the vote would go to Labour or to some extremist party rather than the Tories.

    It’s more than 30 years since I read any Durkheim ……
    You can’t run a large complex organisation let alone a government or country without one and no attempt to do so has or could succeed.

    Durkheim was concerned at the growth of a bureaucratised state, rather than at bureaucracy itself, which – to support your point – are, as RIN said, as much part of the private sector of the economy, and of civic organisation, as of the public sector. Max Weber who wrote the main defining account of bureaucracy, saw its characteristics as having continuity of office regardless of office holder, written charter, and returns to officers separate from any value of their service to society or to users. So, essential to the running of any post-agrarian society or economy, or of an army, as you say, and its efficiency and integrity a barrier against corruption.
    It was both the bloating of a state bureaucracy, and its use of its powers to boss people around that Durkheim was concerned at – something he knew a bit about, when, having served the nation as a pioneering head of its educational system, he was persecuted by fascistic elements in government during WW1.

  48. @Turk


    “I’ve been trying to follow your last post but I must admit I can’t tell if your joking or not, if your not.
    Are you suggesting that when a company starts to make what you think is an unreasonable profit the government then steps in to take the company over, or if a company is poorly managed the state steps in.
    What evidence do you have that the state is even capable of managing large busineses, certainly there is no sign of that in the NHS or MOD for example or in other public run industries such as the BBC,all of which are characterised by inefficiency and waste.
    And who are all these experts on running business in government certainly not the civil service, business is about risk taking and it’s not for the government to take on the mantle of business supremo, governments are very good at spending money, but absolutely rubbish at creating it other than through ever rising taxes.”


    It’s ok, it’s not as bad as you think!! There are no limits to the horrors the right can imagine about State intervention, but I’m not the hugest fan of it myself. (Which is why I quite like the free schools thing). This is a way to limit it more to what’s effective.

    No, I am not suggesting the state takes businesses over because excess profits. I am suggesting rival provision that can be scaled up and down as needed, whether because of taking the mick, or market failures. That way you can avoid a lot of the messy stuff like interfering directly in firms en masse, wage controls and so on.

    As to whether the State is good at running such things, they may not always be optimal, but they would have to go some to match the screw ups in the private sector, notably banking. And it’s not like handing things over to the private sector has always resulted in nirvana. Why do you think there’s a healthy number in polling for renationalisation? Even amongst ukippers…

    In any event, state control can be relatively hands-off: a stake in a private firm where the state doesn’t run operations, but has a say in the pricing, for example. Or you can set up trusts and Big Society stuff like that. In some cases you can even return the slack taken up to the private sector later.

    As for running large enterprises, sometimes they can be so big that business can’t handle them; the race to put man on the moon for example was a huge project and would blow the tiny minds of your average banking exec., many of whom had little clue about the toxic debt products they were buying and couldn’t handle the maths, which was handled by a few of the quants. Big projects like the space race pioneered new management methods commonly in use today.

    But as I said, I’m not advocating some massive state takeover and dunno how you reached that conclusion from my post. It’s like you responded to a standard characterisation of the matter, like the Soviet Russia thing. As for business being about risk-taking, they can be really rather risk-averse and thus the state quite often takes on those projects. I dealt with some of your complaints in my response to Bill which you don’t appear to have read properly.

    A lot of money has been created through state action by the way, whether the Internet or GPS, or providing an early market for computer chips, or building the telephone network, building up the business and selling it on later…

  49. @bill

    “I don’t oppose all government investment (I’m not an anarchist or even particularly libertarian- I agree with Keynes that government spending of a little under 25% of GDP would be ok) but I do oppose government investment as a form of stimulus because it lowers the bar; politicians can justify spending on an economic basis, rather than on its long-term benefits. I do think that governments should invest more during times of higher unemployment, but only because it’s obvious public finance i.e. when it’s cheap to hire people, hire people.”


    Well an economic stimulus can provide a long term benefit of course. If you improve the tax take and reduce welfare costs that can have longer term benefits. If we invested in housing that could provide both a stimulus and a number of long term benefits. It doesn’t have to be an either/or…

  50. We need another poll on military action in Syria before it’s too late and there is the inevitable rise in support after the action has started

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