As with Populus’s poll in the week, the individual measures announced in the budget were broadly positive received. 68% told YouGov they supported the increase in tax on “large environmentally unfriendly family cars”, 63% supported requiring supermarkets to charge for plastic bags, 77% supporting equiring people on incapacity benefit to attend work focused interviews. A slighlt plurality of people opposed the increase in alcohol duties – 48% to 46% – but this was hardly overwhelmingly opposition.
Despite that, opinion towards the government’s general handling of the economy looked very low – 86% though inflation was higher than the government said, 78% said the government wastes large amounts of money, 66% agreed the government spent too much in good economic times. All the measures of economic optimism were low. 47% agreed Alistair Darling was not up to the job, with only 22% disagreeing and the poll found Cameron & Osbourne had a significant lead over Brown & Darling as the team people trust more to help their standard of living – 33% to 21%. ICM’s poll also found a significant Tory lead on the economy – they were most trusted by 34% compared to 28% for the Tories. A second ICM survey in the Sunday Telegraph found 31% thouht the budget would make things worse, only 7% thought it would improve matters.
It’s an apparent contradiction – the individual measures in the budget are popular, but it looks as though it has really hit their popularity. Off the top of my head I can think of two explanations – it’s possible that people support what Alistair Darling has done given the circumstances he faces, but that the fact the government have found themselves in such circumstances has undermined their previous confidence in Brown’s handling of the economy. Alternatively it could just be that general bad economic tidings, brought home to them by the budget, have made them less positively disposed to the government regardless of whether they actually attribute any blame to them.
On other political trackers Brown’s approval ratings with YouGov slip ever lower – his net score is down to minus 26 from minus 21 last month. David Cameron’s remains unchanged on plus 14. Nick Clegg’s rating was minus 6, but that’s still with 35% don’t knows. In the ICM poll Cameron had a lead of 6 points over Brown on best Prime Minister.
As usual the Sunday Times asked a grab bag of questions of lots of other issues. On Lord Goldsmith’s proposals for Britishness 51% of people supported the idea of citizenship ceremonies, for school leavers… but only if they excluded the suggested oath of allegiance to the monarch, supported by only 15%.
Only 29% of respondents supported Heathrow expansion. 39% thought expansion should be elsewhere, either in East London or in regional airports. 18% were opposed to airport expansion entirely.
Finally YouGov asked about abortion law. 35% supported the status quo, 48% supported a reduction in the legal time limit to 20 weeks and 8% supported a total ban on abortion.