The 50% tax rate
|The 50% tax rate for those earning Â£150k +? (YouGov)||All sampled||CON voters||LAB voters||LD voters|
|The 50% top rate of tax should be made permanent||37||23||53||42|
|The 50% top rate of tax should eventually be brought back down to 40||46||60||37||45|
|Penal policy â€“ which best reflects your view? (YouGov)||All sampled||CON voters||LAB voters||LD voters|
|Prison works, and sending more criminals to prison would do more to reduce crime||35||36||39||21|
|Prison is often expensive and ineffectual, and making better use of community sentences would do more to reduce crime||40||44||38||60|
Did mention of Michael Howard and EdM affect the findings?
The above are a couple of surprising findings in the latest YouGov poll which have been picked up elsewhere and which, in their own ways, go against what we’ve seen before. For the general assumptions has been that the public is for higher taxes for the very rich and wants convicted criminals to be locked up preferably for a long time.
Looking at the detailed wording of the questions and we see that policies are “attached” to named politicians – in these cases Kenneth Clarke, Michael Howard and Ed Miliband – and I wonder whether some of the responses have been not about the policy issues but respondents views of those individuals.
The tax question was worded like this: “Ed Miliband has said that Labour would make the 50% top rate of tax for people earning over Â£150,000 permanent as it is “about values and fairness”. Other people have said that the 50% rate of tax should be a temporary measure to reduce the deficit, and should eventually drop back to 40%. Which of the following best reflects your view?”
The penal policy wording was: “The Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke, has claimed that short prison sentences are costly and ineffective and do not reduce re-offending, and that community sentences are better at reducing crime. He has been criticised by former Conservative leader Michael Howard who claims that “prison works” and reduces crime by keeping criminals off the streets. Which of the following best reflects your view?”
All this is why non-voting intention questions have to be looked at very carefully to see if there is something in the drafting that could have influenced those being questioned.
Would more support higher taxes for the rich if Ed Miliband had not been linked to it – and what does it do to views of penal policy when you name Michael Howard – famed for his “prison works” approach?
This is hard for the pollsters. They try to put questions on current issues into context but by doing so they could be influencing the outcomes.