New poll: Voters credit low-earner tax-cuts to Lib Dems, Clegg’s ratings spike following Farage debate challenge

Here’s a poll finding that will relieve Lib Dems and worry Tories – according to Ipsos-Mori more voters (45%) credit the Lib Dems with the Coalition’s tax-cuts than credit the Tories (33%):

tax cuts lib dme credit ipsos mori

evening standard tax cutsThe findings are in line with some of the Lib Dems’ own private polling I’ve seen.

While it might seem self-evident to Lib Dems that the party should get the credit – it was the top demand in the party’s 2010 manifesto – the Tories have been trying hard to associate themselves with raising the tax threshold, taking two million of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether.

As I always do on these occasions, it’s worth recalling what the Tory tax pledges were in 2010:

  • reverse Labour’s proposed increase in National Insurance contributions (what the Tories termed the ‘jobs tax’);
  • raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m;
  • freeze council tax for two years;
  • tax breaks for married couples;
  • reduce corporation tax.
  • No mention at all of the personal allowance.

    And here’s what David Cameron had to say about the policy in 2010:

    But for all this “it’s obvious, isn’t it” fact-mongering, there’s always been the risk the Tory propaganda machine could win out – and that one-third of voters do credit the Tories shows it’s had some impact. But, overall, it’s the Tories who’ll have more cause to fret than the Lib Dems.

    Here are a couple of other interesting findings from Ipsos-Mori’s polling…

    First, none of the leaders are very popular. David Cameron has the highest favourability, but Nick Clegg, Ed Milband and Nigel Farage all poll roughly the same (though Clegg’s higher dissatisfaction pulls down his net rating):

    ipsos mori leader satisfaction ratings march 2014

    Better news for Nick Clegg on his satisfaction ratings among the 13% of Lib Dem voters Ipsos-Mori found – his net satisfaction rating of +32% is up massively on the previous month, when it was just +1%. That suggests Clegg’s decision to take the fight to Nigel Farage has achieved at least one of the objectives it was designed to do: galvanise Lib Dem supporters.

    ipsos mori clegg satisfaction ratings march 2014

    * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    31 Comments

    • Firstly, a 4% change could be a spike, or it could just be normal polling variation.

      Secondly, don’t make the mistake of attributing the change to any particular event. It could equally be an effect of the economy returning to strength or the growing evidence that the tuition fees fiasco hasn’t dented student participation.

      The comments on the within lib-dem supporters is even more misguided: just look at the graph you posted! The shift does not depart dramatically from the kind of ups and downs seen over the last four years. Also, remember that “lib dem voters” are not a constant group: an interesting question is whether the shift represents a shift of opinion among potential lib dems voters or a shift in who is voting – if, indeed, it represents anything and not just random variation in the small sample of lib-dem intentional voters.

    • paul barker 13th Mar '14 - 8:48pm

      I would ignore the spike in Cleggs standing among Libdem voters as its within the normal range of variability.
      The other figures should give us quiet satisfaction. I hope tha everyone notes that the idea of Cleggs massive unpopularity has no basis in fact.

    • @paul, apart from, you know, everyones universal hatred and disgust of him, you mean?

    • Little Jackie Paper 13th Mar '14 - 10:02pm

      My feeling is that the Clegg/Farage debate gets the political talkboards excited, but no one else. As such I would suggest that it is a bit of a red-herring here. Although Clegg has fare more to lose.

      What is interesting here though is that tax cuts were not supposed to be the great mission of this Coalition, or at least that wasn’t what I’s understood. I thought that deficit reduction was supposed to be the benchmark against which all was gauged. Who gets the credit (or not) for deficit reduction is the big issue for 2014. Of course, as is pointed out in another article on LDV today, it is not easy to reconcile deficit reduction goals with a very large sum being used to raise thresholds. I just worry that the ongoing commitments will pull in two directions. Is the deficit a national crisis to be fought at every opportunity, or isn’t it?

      My feeling is that what we have seen is de facto Plan B and the differences between what we have had and what Labour would have done are pretty minimal and perhaps we should all remember that.

      The question for 2015 to 2020 is how the political consensus of an absolute surplus will be achieved. I remain deeply unconvinced that fairness and deficit reduction to absolute surplus and further large tax cuts can be reconciled. These questions, not some side-show on the EU are what the voters will look at come the next election.

      Unless, of course, politicians act like the deficit is not the crisis they say it is…..

    • Stephen Tall, do you think that it was my suggestion made on the 16th Feb (copied below) which prompted Nick Clegg to challenge Farage? The challenge was made just four days after I made the suggestion. Are you able to find out please if this is the case?

      Joe King 16th Feb ’14 – 9:48pm
      If Nick Clegg really can tackle Farage, it would go a long way to turning around his own standing, improve our fortunes as a party, and stop the anti-EU rhetoric once and for all. Nick does need to be well briefed before such an encounter. How about a televised debate, just the two of them, ahead of the European election? Cameron wants to ignore Farage, so trying to organise a foursome with Ed Miliband too may not be possible. A televised debate ‘in’ vs ‘out’ would be interesting to watch. It would boost our morale too if Nick lands a few punches.

    • “I would ignore the spike in Cleggs standing among Libdem voters as its within the normal range of variability.”

      Yes – you’ve got to remember the margin of error (as a percentage) gets larger as the sample size is reduced, and the Lib Dem supporters among a total sample of 1000 people are not very numerous these days.

    • @paul barker, no basis in fact? Here is the link to the ipsos-mori polling of dissatisfaction with Nick Clegg since he became leader. —
      http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemID=88

      You will see that it also,goes back to previous leaders and shows just how popular Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown were. They were the leaders who consistently increased the number of Liberal Democrt MPs, who did not lose 8 deposits, hundreds of council seats, tens of thousands of members. Don’t talk about the facts if you want to find reasons for supporting Clegg. The facts show that Clegg is deeply unpopular with voters and indeed with Liberal Democrats . Except for a couple of weeks in April 2010 his poll ratings have usually dragged a long way behind anything that we took for granted under previous leaders. Before the 2010 general election Clegg boasted that he would double the number of MPS. Far from doubing the number of MPs under Clegg has gone down.

    • It is, however, interesting (and I hesitate to be a Paul Barker supporter here!) that there have been signs over the last 2 – 3 months of a turn in “real votes in real ballot boxes”. This has mainly been evident in local byelections with a Lib Dem history over the last 10 or so years which had reverted to the Tories after a decade or so of Lib Dem representation. It certainly hasn’t happened everywhere, for instance this week, in Petersfield, little movement was there, but in Canterbury, and especially in Ludlow reasonable swings back have been there. This has replicated around 5 – 10 other seats recently. It is difficult to attribute to any particular factor, but a revival of activism in certain areas for some reason must have something to do with it. This could also have a link to the claimed turn in the membership figures nationally towards the end of last year.

    • I must add that there is little evidence of Clegg becoming any more popular, apart from (see reports of York Conference) the ranks of the ultra faithful within the party. I don’t agree with LJP in his assessment of the Clegg / Farage debate. Yes, if it goes badly wrong for Clegg it could see all the Lib Dem MEPS lost, but I actually think the likely outcome, of a trashing of Farage (not because I think Clegg is a great debater, he plainly isn’t, but because so many of the facts of this debate are on the pro European side, and because I have rarely seen the pro-European side defeated in one of these debates on a hustings) will leave him and his party in a very vulnerable situation. Knowing the capacity of their MEPs for defection, stupid statements, and the new focus on UKIP by the media, it is quite easy to see it as a UKIP bubble pricking moment.

      LJP also says the debate is one which excites the political geeks, like us. However, there are many out there who are pro-European, who are not geeks, and they must have been getting increasingly fed up that NO ONE has been making a cogent high profile pro case. Clegg’s move at least allows that to be put forward, even by a somewhat distrusted politician!

    • Thankyou John Tilley for the Ipsos Mori figures. It demonstrates pretty poor judgment by our Parliamentary ranks based on their decisions in 2005 /6 is all I can say.

    • Paul In Twickenham 14th Mar '14 - 8:44am

      I agree with Stephen Tall’s analysis: the hint of “marching toward the sound of gunfire” in the challenge to Mr. Farage has undoubtedly played well with the party membership. How much of that is sustained through April is quite literally a matter of debate, but at least for now it is good politics.

      And the party is right to keep banging on about their role in getting the cut in the basic rate of tax: regardless of whether it actually made any net difference to most people, it is critical to have a simple and clear message that resonates – particularly if the 30 million people have seen their take home pay go up is contrasted with the 0.3 million people who would have benefited from the Tories’ manifesto pledge to cut inheritance tax.

      Of course, one swallow does not a summer make and the critical question for the coalition is what George Osborne will do in his upcoming budget to secure the “recovery”. Osborne has acknowledged that the recovery mostly consists of rocketing house prices and increasing personal indebtedness. But he will have both eyes firmly on the prize of securing a Conservative win next year and any “rebalancing” will be dictated by that agenda.

    • There’s talk of who will win the NickVNigel encounter. Define “win”. There will be at least three audiences – UKIP supporters, LibDem supporters and the unconvinced-by-eithers. Either speaker can hope to retain his own camp and make decent inroads into the unconvinced. Both speakers can claim to have to have won, and the pundits in the various camps will have a lot to contribute. Any polling change will be debated hard (not least on these pages).

      The important thing is that the pro-EU argument will have been made, but one event isn’t going to make up for decades of neglect.

    • There’s talk of who will win the NickVNigel encounter. Define “win”. There will be at least three audiences – UKIP supporters, LibDem supporters and the unconvinced-by-eithers

      To a good first approximation the third group does not exist. The number of people who will be interested enough to bother to watch such a debate, but who do not already have an opinion, is close enough to zero as to make no difference.

      The people both of them are really playing to are not the people actually watching the debate, but those who might hear about it on the news bulletins over the following couple of days. ‘Winning’ means ‘getting more positive coverage in those news bulletins’, ie, avoiding gaffes, looking unflustered, getting in some good sound-bites for editors trying to fill a slot.

    • Actually, Tim, I think it is quite likely quite a few of the unconvinced will watch. One of the big issues about “Europe” when people are asked, is that they simply know very little about it (according to polling questions asked). When offered a debate with people from various sides contributing, those who have interest in political topics but say they know little about “Europe” are often motivated to take a look. My worry is that Clegg will try to focus on “patriotic pro-British” points, and avoid the cooperation, decision sharing, smaller world meaning increasing difficulties in keeping it all within national boundaries-type arguments. This will not help him “win”.

    • Pleased to see the Tories’ efforts to claim the credit for increases in the tax threshold are largely failing and pleased to see Nick geting a boost. Comparisons with previous leaders are daft as they were not in power so could just latch on to any passing bandwagon!

    • Mark It would be interesting to learn from you then whether you believe there is, or is even supposed to be, any link between policies, expressed views etc between those in government and those not? I am guessing, but if there is not, which is what you imply, wouldn’t that make everyone outside politics totally cynical? Oh sorry, that’s more or less how they are, isn’t it?

    • Mark, if your argument is that people in power must lose support can you explain why the Conservatives, first elected in 1979 were re-elected in 1983, 1987 and 1992?
      Can you explain why Labour first elected in 1997 were re-elected in 2001 and 2005?
      The overwhelming evidence from the last 35 years is that being in government does not result in an automatic fall in popularity.
      In addition, Nick Clegg’s poor results in the ipsos-mori polling are not confined to the period of the coalition. He was leader of the party for two years before. No amount of putting a brave face on things can hide the widespread and consistent dissatisfaction with Nick Clegg.

    • This has mainly been evident in local byelections with a Lib Dem history over the last 10 or so years which had reverted to the Tories after a decade or so of Lib Dem representation. It certainly hasn’t happened everywhere, for instance this week, in Petersfield, little movement was there, but in Canterbury, and especially in Ludlow reasonable swings back have been there.

      Ludlow was a genuinely good result – a Lib Dem gain on a significantly increased vote (+13.3%) since the last pre-coalition contest in that ward. There was another gain for the party in Canterbury, but that was a gain only since 2011 – before the coalition it was a very safe Lib Dem ward, and since then the vote has dropped by 20-30%.

      The other eight local by-elections this week were absolutely dire for the Lib Dems. In the five wards contested both now and in the last parliament, the average drop in the Lib Dem vote since then was 15.5% – starting from a base of 31.9%, so in percentage terms the vote has halved.

      In another the ward was uncontested in the last parliament, but the vote share has dropped by 14.3% since 2011. In three more, the party didn’t put up a candidate. Not that these were historically weak wards – in Knowsley the party polled 40.8% as recently as 2008, in Kesteven it polled 27.9% in 2011, and in Runnymede the pre-coalition vote had been 19.8%.

      On average, local by-elections provide no reason to doubt the picture painted by the national opinion polls.

    • “Comparisons with previous leaders are daft as they were not in power so could just latch on to any passing bandwagon!”

      Curiously, my recollection of previous leaders – Charles Kennedy in particular – is that they didn’t “latch on to passing bandwagons”, but maintained principled positions, even at the risk of abuse and ridicule (as in the case of the Iraq War).

      Clegg may be in government, but he is by far the most cynical and the most addicted to short-term electoral gimmicks of the Liberal/Liberal Democrat leaders in my lifetime. We are now seeing the results of that.

    • Tim13 – yes, of course parties that get into power should try to deliver as much of their manifesto as they can. And in opposition they shouldn’t promise things that are popular but undeliverable. I think the bandwagon-jumping of the past – confident in not having to deliver in practice – was a bad thing. The LDs gradually ceasing to do it and becoming a sensible party is one reason I have come to support the party more actively. Ed Miliband’s energy policies are an example of Labour doing it now.

      JohnTilley – the Conservative share of the vote fell in every one of those elections. And so did the Labour share of the vote in 2001, 05 and 10! So the overwhelming evidence is that being in power does make you less popular. Hence lots of Tories’ doubts that Cameron can buck the trend and deliver an increase in their share of the vote.

      In any case, the other parties are not really a good reference point as they have both long been very much parties of power with a record of being in and out of government (since WW2 for Labour and much earlier for the Tories). Much as I dislike the Tories and Labour I don’t think either can be accused of being a protest party! Sorry I did not make clearer that I was talking about the Lib Dems.

      I happen to think Nick Clegg is doing very well in very difficult cirucmstances. If you feel otherwise, no worries!

    • paul barker 14th Mar '14 - 2:48pm

      @ John Tilley, we arent talking about General Elections here. In terms of Poll ratings, Byelections, Local & European Elections & Party membership the evidence is clear that being in Government does make you unpopular. That effect increases during Recession & War. Labour lost 60% of their membership between 1997 & 2009, most of that in their first Term when everything was still reasonably sunny.

    • paul barker 14th Mar '14 - 2:58pm

      @ John Tilley, I forgot to mention that The Tories did lose support in 1983, their vote share fell by 1%. Happily for them the official Opposition tried to commit suicide & nearly sucseeded.

    • @paul barker and @Mark, I do not think that you can seriousy protest that the evidence applies to everyone else but not to !Nick Clegg. But I guess you can make your own interpretations on earlier comparisons.
      What you cannot do is deny the evidence in the ipsos-mori polling.
      Nick Clegg has consistently done badly over a number of years and the latest figures are that more than 60% are disatisfied with him.

      BTW – It is simply not true to say that leaders In opposition easily scoop up lots of support – just look at Ian Duncan Smith’s ratings when he was leader of the opposition. He was a disaster in opposition just as he is a disaster in government.

    • JohnTilley – you were comparing him negatively to Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy. Others including me have pointed out that it is different being in government to being in opposition (especially opposition when there is deemed to be little chance of power). I think Charles and certainly Paddy have both validated this!

      No one is denying any pollling. I just think that I, and a few other folk, think that in the circumstances, with almost uniformly hostile media and inheriting a tanking economy, requiring austerity rather than distributing largesse, Nick has done well and shown fortitude, and lately perhaps increased impact and cut through.

      I think IDS just demonstrates that competence is also a requirement for scooping up support!

    • Mark, Fair enough. We are agreed that competence is a factor. We are agreed that we cannot deny the polling data.

    • Mark – We would need to compare policies over a range, but I do worry that when people talk about “becoming a sensible party” they are essentially talking about moving right (ie to policies not calculated to antagonise the rightwing media!) I don’t think I would be quite as “kneejerk” as to say anything that stirs the media up must be good, but you may sense where I am coming from here!

    • Martin Lowe 16th Mar '14 - 6:30pm

      33% of voters thinking the tax threshold raises are due to the Conservatives is still 33% too many.

    • They are probably all die-hard Conservatives, Martin.

    • David Pollard 18th Mar '14 - 9:13pm

      Nick Clegg v Nigel Farage is going to be good television. I predict there will be a lot of people watching, most of them expecting blood on the carpet. It will be interesting to see if the other TV channels broadcast spoilers , e.g. everyone in Emerdale killed by a terrorist bomb, or a chemical release in Coronation Street, which makes all the cast’s clothes fall off.

    • I honestly think the LD parliamentarians are not seeing the wood for the trees with regard to the issue of raising the income tax threshold. The truth is that many people, like myself, do not feel better off and do not anticipate being better off by this inApril. It’s eaten up by all the other increases in costs and pay freezes. In fact the more people draw attention to this, the more it feels like a big fat con!

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