Comres have a new voter turnout model for ‘Lazy Labour’. The key takeaway from this is that in mainly poor constituencies turnout is 20 percentage points lower than in mainly affluent constituencies. Not too posh to be politically pushy…
This British Election Study survey shows Indy readers are a mixed bunch and as many back the coalition parties as Labour. So that endorsement will please and anger readers in equal measure. No surprises in the data.
It is not so #SexyMiliband according to a YouGov survey bring further proof that we have passed peak #SexyMiliband. Nick Clegg is the housewife’s choice, Cameron is sloppy seconds. Ed comes a distant third just ahead of Nigel Farage.
MiliFandom is clearly a minority interest…
As the spin-room packs up after the only TV debate the PM will take part in, what has really changed? The candidates were prepped for weeks, even Natalie Bennett remembered her talking points, each will have gotten something from the debate. Cameron got to look Prime Ministerial, Miliband looked a lot better than the he does when eating a bacon sandwich, Farage confirmed his Marmite status, fervently liked and disliked, Sturgeon really showed her mettle. Clegg was reasonable, Leanne Wood will have made them proud back in Wales. The spin-doctors will highlight where their candidate won on the issues, satisfied at least that their candidate didn’t screw up.
On the numbers there was a great deal of variation between the pollsters on the key question of who won the debate? Leaving out the also rans of Clegg, Bennett and Wood the pollsters really differed – ICM said Miliband shaded it on 25% and Sturgeon came fourth after Cameron and Farage, YouGov had it in exactly the opposite order with Sturgeon first, followed by Farage, Cameron and then Miliband on only 15%. The double digit difference between first and fourth place and the exact reversing of the order does nothing for the collective credibility of pollsters.
In these circumstances is averaging the poll results really meaningful? There was more clarity with the issue based polling which confirmed what we already know; Cameron is a clear winner on the economy, Miliband wins on the NHS and Farage wins on immigration. No news…
Did the TV debate enhance democracy? Last night two-thirds of TV viewers didn’t even care enough to watch the TV show that the political class has obsessed over for months. With only 7 million viewers it had a million fewer viewers than that other exemplar of participatory democracy, The Voice.
As of this morning there have been 5 polls since Paxo interviewed the two leaders. Averaging them all out it appears there has been no ‘Miliband bounce’ post-Paxo as Labour have hoping, the two main parties are still neck and neck. Both the Tories and Labour are squeezing up towards that 35% mark, while UKIP are feeling it down on an average 12%. The Green surge has fallen away slightly down on 5 points.
Not like the Sunday Times to have an errant poll throwing everyone off guard…
If you want an illustration of just how low trust in politicians is nowadays, Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Report has a classic example from last week:
I mentioned some YouGov polling about which taxes would rise under a Labour or Conservative government, conducted before Prime Minister’s Question time, Cameron ruling out a VAT rise and Ed Balls ruling out an NI rise. YouGov repeated those questions in this poll to see if they had changed. At the start of the week, 31% of people thought VAT would rise if the Conservatives won.
Following David Cameron ruling out a rise in VAT, this is now… 32%. At the start of the week 39% of people expected national insurance to rise if Labour won, but since Ed Balls ruled it out, that has changed to… 40%. A lovely illustration of how much of the politicians’ arguments, exchanges and pledges make not the slightest difference to public opinion.
Savour that. After the Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, the Right Honourable David Cameron and the Right Honourable Ed Balls both solemnly promised not to raise specific taxes, the public now believes they are actually more likely to do it. This is why, in Guido’s opinion, Nigel Farage is on to something with the vote winning campaign slogan: “Sod the lot. Vote UKIP”
As Harriet Harman’s plans to spend her election riding around in a pink bus campaigning on female equality are revealed, ironically it is 40 years to the day that Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Tory party. Labour have still never elected a female leader, though at least Hattie is fighting for the sisterhood in this interview with Mehdi Hasan today:
HH: “Unite has provided us with a driver and blow me down they’ve managed to find a woman with one of these licenses. We’ve had lots of doctrinal discussions, such as: should we be alright with a male driver?”
MH: “Has there been any discussion of the colour of her vehicle? Isn’t driving around in a pink van a bit patronizing? A bit clichéd?”
HH: “Well it doesn’t have big eyelashes on the front.”
A union official driving Labour’s sexist bus on the 40 year anniversary of Maggie becoming Tory leader. PMQs gold for Cameron…
UPDATE: The Times say the eyelashes were actually mooted by a Labour frontbencher and genuinely considered.
The spat between George Osborne and Fraser Nelson over whether or not the deficit has been halved is very much a Westminster bubble affair of little consequence to anyone outside SW1. Interested voters who even understand the difference between the deficit and the debt know that the government’s target to balance the budget in 2015 has been missed by £100 billion or so. As Jonathan Portes over at the Keynesian redoubt of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research gleefully points out, George Osborne has succeeded in implementing the Darling plan, which his own Financial Secretary to the Treasury condemned, for being endorsed only by The Guardian. The Chancellor deserves a degree of Fraser’s ridicule for only managing to execute the very Plan B that Osborne himself once ridiculed as ruinous.
The Tories are arguing, whilst simultaneously carrying the goalposts, that they have managed to halve the deficit in relative terms, relative to GDP. Professional economists seem to think that is a fair method of measuring the deficit. So how are they doing, in relative terms, on other key indicators?
The national debt relative to GDP is up, from 78.4% under Gordon Brown in 2010 to 90.6% last year. It is still rising, which is in the government’s own self-defined terms a big economic failure.
The Tories like to boast that employment is higher now than ever before, as indeed it was every year under the last Labour government, because the population grows. The unemployment rate is relative to the population. That is down impressively from 8% to 6% thanks to IDS, better still the youth unemployment and long term unemployment rates are also down. A trump card in the economic argument.
Per capita GDP was, as Danny Blanchflower and Ed Balls kept pointing out sombrely with smirks on their faces, falling. We were getting, on average, poorer. According to World Bank figures, the answer to Reagan’s famous question for voters “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is a “yes”, just about. After inflation voters are on average 1.8% better off now than they were in 2010.*
Quantitative Easing on a scary scale has rigged other economic indicators like inflation and interest rates whilst pumping up asset prices. Great if you already owned financial assets or prime London property…
It seems a long-time since The Spectator was eulogising George Osborne as “the true Tory leader“, the enmity towards the Treasury from the Speccie is near constant nowadays. Guido notes that in a Tory leadership election it is almost certain that the magazine will back Boris, a former editor, against Osborne…
*Although for higher income earners – the income bracket usually well disposed towards voting Conservative – Osborne’s Guardianista pleasing fetishising of the Gini coefficient will mean they are probably worse off. Only a genius political strategist like Osborne would bash his core vote hardest.