There is a new YouGov poll in tomorrow’s Sunday People. I can’t find an online source yet, but Sky TV reports it as showing topline figures of CON 45%(nc), LAB 27%(nc), LDEM 17%(-1).

These figures are almost identical to the previous YouGov poll, not particularly surprisingly given it was only carried out a a few days ago for the Daily Telegraph.

Sky News also reports a majority of people supporting the actual measures contained in the budget, echoing the YouGov/Telegraph and Populus/Times polls. 64% said the supported the increase in income tax, 82% the increase in tobacco tax and 66% the increase in beer tax.

As I wrote after the Populus snap poll came out however, budgets are often more than the sum of their parts. While people said that they supported the measures in the budget, only 5% said it made them more likely to support Labour, 23% said it made them less likely to vote Labour.


153 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday People poll shows 18 point lead”

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  1. @ Wood – “It is true (hard to deny if you stick to the facts) that the UK seems to be in one of the best positions of any of the big western economies,”

    Eh? It’s not true at all. According to the EU, Britain will suffer the worst of all the big European economies. And according to the IMF, Britain’s recession will be be deeper than those of America, other major EU economies, and Japan.

  2. Keir said:”@Chris – I think you’re making my point for me , so I don’t quite know what to say. Can you confirm that you agree that the change argument won the 92 election or at least helped it along.”

    ….you may want to look up the result of the 92 election, I think you’ve made a tactical error…

    @Alec:Glad I’m not the only one being mistaken.

  3. James, when I say the UK is in a better position that other big western govts, I mean that when the recession is over the long term effects will be less of a burden on the UK, mainly in terms of national debt: we have less than the usa, germany, france, canada….and definitely japan, although I wasn’t originally thinking of that as a western country :)….therefore the govt (present and future) can far more easily afford to borrow for stimulus packages, to make up for lost income, higher benefit bills etc etc.

    The UK IS, definitely, in a better position to deal with the situation that it’s western rivals….but we’re also in a worse position than many smaller countries….or non-western biggies. My basic point was that people saying GB has put us in a terrible situation, and people saying he’s prepared us excellently, are both wrong/exaggerating…although going by statistics there is more of an argument towards being in a good position because we compare well to similar countries….but as I’ve tried to make clear, personally I don’t think being the best of a bad bunch is something to be happy about.

  4. @ wood – sounds like a lot of doublespeak and spin to me :)

    The EU and the IMF say we’ll suffer a deeper, longer recession than other comparable economies. And here you come basically saying “oh yes, it will be worse … yet somehow better …” Sorry, I don’t buy it.

  5. Wow – The partisan comments from the left are well out of control on here now at these latest batches of poll reports. The polls are only scratching the surface of discontent in this country – wait another 12 months and watch the country erupt in mass hysteria in the streets when the results start coming in at the general election – it will be like the watching the fall of communism in Europe all over again – the relief on the peoples faces will go down in the history books !

  6. When assessing poll impact of a budget we should bear in mind that, in general, budgets fall into one of four categories:

    (1) well received initially, and remain so
    (2) well received initially, but fail to stand test of time
    (3) poor immediate reaction, but on reflection prove worthy
    (4) poor immediate reaction, and, on reflection, remain so.

    No prizes for guessing which category this one falls into.

  7. Chris;

    You are forgetting that D.C is probably going to fight a re-run of 1979 election; where my lot get in without making any real detailed policy commitments (or at least many of them) because the next government has to reduce the size of the state, and dealing with the level of debt and borrowing will be more important than unemployment.

    But turkey’s never vote for X’mas, thats why we can’t afford to be too detailed- just re-run 1979 and once in prove ourselves as radical, reforming, a stable pair of hands- in short the natural party for power.

  8. James….you’re entitled to your opinion, but what I said is based entirely on statistics and facts, trying to go against the spin that Brown has either ruined the UK economy or will save the worlds….and I don’t see anything I wrote could be remotely considered double speak. We could just agree to disagree but I really think if you re-read what I wrote and possibly look into it yourself you’ll understand my point.

    Since when does anyone doublespeak and spin towards the position of ‘both sides are wrong, in reality the situation is more in the middle’ anyway? :p

  9. Wood,

    External economists believe that the UK now has a structural deficit of c£90bn – approx 6% of GDP and twice the maximum limit to qualify for EMU. That gap will need to be plugged long after the recession is history. How then could you say that Britain is in a better position than other leading economies ?

    As for the choice between spending constraint or tax rises to plug the gap, is anyone seriously suggesting that Labour can credibly portray this as a straight choice at the election ?

    The choices for the next government will be what spending to cut and by how much. Any party which pretends that there is no need for real and substantial spending cuts is either deceiving the voters or itself.

  10. @Wood – sorry but that was my point exactly. The cons won as JM was the change. It could have happened for Gordon too if he had gone to the polls when he did. However having missed his chance, he cannot be seen as the change. Sorry perhaps I was not being simplistic enough

  11. @ Wood – but you don’t actually give any statistics. You simply claim to know them. Perhaps you could share them with the EU and the IMF, because they are obviously lacking both your statistics and your confidence.

  12. I know people will eventually want to know what the Conservatives policies are, but consider that Darling’s growth forecast of -3.5% was made to look ridiculous only 2 days after the budget. What are the chances that any Conservative policies formulated today will still apply to the situation whenever the elction is called?

    Broadly speaking, the Conservatives will be cutting. Read John Redwood if you want to know some of the first cuts identified. You’ll just have to wait until the election if you want to know more.

    No point getting angry about that though. Perhaps Labour people might want to consider just why it is that their party is polling less than 30% rather than attacking the Conservatives for ‘doing nothing’ and still polling double-digit leads.

  13. Paul: I’m assuming you made a typo there and meant 60%, as this is(roughly) the %age of GDP given by the OECD…though other’s give slightly different results depending how they get their figures.

    I agree that this is a bad thing.

    “How then could you say that Britain is in a better position than other leading economies?”

    Because, non ideal is that level of debt is, it really…genuinely is better than the other big western economies (and japan obviously). I wasn’t making it up, honest :)

    Keir: Okay, misunderstanding I guess, never considered anyone thinking of 92 as a victory for change before :)

  14. @Dean – “a stable pair of hands”

    Wow – that’s a classic re writing of history if ever I saw it. My memory of those 18 years was wildly swinging inflation, not one but two big recessions, interspersed with unsustainable booms, collapsing public services, and ever widening gap between rich and poor, as well as a then record public debt when they left office and an increasing tax burden, crime rates etc.

    As I’ve said before, I don’t support Brown and I believe Labour has made serious blunders in their fiscal policy and regulatory regime and the mangerial approach to public services has not delivered the required reforms. However, I have to be honest and say that I believe a 1980’s approach to this recession would be disastrous, and would probably leave an even bigger hole in the public purse for the future.

    If everyone takes a mature approach to this we would all be much more honest and admit that the Tories from 1979-97 made some necessary and successful changes but left behind other very major problems for the next government. In turn, Labour have had a number of successes, particularly in repairing public services, but still have an equally patchy record. I don’t think either of them really tackled some of the basic, structural social and economic issues as they were both obsessed with the city and the massively wealthy to the exclusion of the ‘real’ economy.

    I just tire of anyone who believes their party was/is brilliant, never got it wrong, will sort everything out, and that the ‘other’ lot are utterly corrupt, totally useless, worst ever etc. It’s basic tribalism which has never impressed me.

  15. James, statisics can be argued over a lot….since you ask I’m gonna give the ones for the countries I listed, these are estimates of national debt as % of GDP given by the IMF at the end of 2008.

    I want to make it clear, I’m not claiming these are absolutely accurate, I’m not saying you have to take these over others that are generated in different ways, or include different things, I’m not even going to say that you have to consider debt as % of GDP and not an absolute number, just take it as what it is….a list of numbers.

    Canada 60.7
    France 65.2
    Germany 76.4
    Japan 198.6
    UK 43.4
    USA 61.5

  16. Several posters on this and other threads have speculated as to whether / how Brown could be forced out early. In particular, on the Turkeys voting for Christmas line, why would any Labour MP rebel ?

    However, leaving aside the fact that there may well be 10 or so backbenchers willing to rebel, let us consider the prospect of Labour MPs defecting in order to save their own skins. There is one group of MPs (have not checked the numbers) for whom a switch to LDs may be an attractive escape route.

    Lab MPs (in England) with a maj of 10-20% over Con, and where LD are less than 10% behind Con.

    Assuming LDs agree to allow them to stand as the LD candidate, they can offer LDs a more plausible chance of winning in such seats where the LD vote might otherwise be squeezed to bits.

    Strategically, this could be a good long-term bargain for LDs, even if the gamble fails and Con take the seat, since it could position LDs as a strong second and so be well-placed to challenge Cons at election after.

    I would be surprised if Nick Clegg has not already got a team working on potential candidates – but don’t expect any announcements until after 7th June.

  17. @Paul”As for the choice between spending constraint or tax rises to plug the gap, is anyone seriously suggesting that Labour can credibly portray this as a straight choice at the election ?”

    Something I meant to reply to in a previous response but forgot…..credibility is questionable, but I think this is at least a part of what labour are trying to do yes…not a straight choice perhaps, but they are trying (IMO) to label themselves with tax rises, and the tories with spending cuts…I think Brown is thinking that people will prefer the rises when they perceive them as being against the richest whatever% of society and not themselves, and when the conservatives struggle to name/avoid naming specific big cuts.

    That was a large part of my original intended point, that this budget was less about making them look good right now and more about positioning themselves, and trying to force the cons position, ready for the election.

  18. Wood,

    No I meant 6%. The structural deficit is the difference between planned revenues / spending over the cycle (which of course assumes a surplus in good years to offset the deficit in bad).

    The debt/GDP figures are important because they determine the cost of debt service. However, over time, they can be eroded by inflation provided that the ongoing budget is generally in balance (over the cycle). If the current fiscal balance is positive, the surplus will reduce the debt/GDP ratio, and so create more leeway to deal with future crises.

    If however we have a structural deficit, then that implies that the debt/GDP ration will continue to deteriorate. At 6% p.a., it will not take long (one parliament) for 79% to beome 103%.Once a country reaches that level, then debt-service becomes a major element of teh budget and crowds out other public spending or limits scope for tax cuts.

  19. @Paul, I can well imagine some MPs jumping ship, but don’t think there’s any chance of them coming in 2nd…much as I think it could be a good thing, their best hope of power is still to be the deciding group in a hung parliament.

  20. Wood,

    I agree that the budget was primarily about political positioning in preparation for an election campaign, and had little to do with dealing with the appaling fiscal situation the country is in.

    But, what does that tell us about the Government’s priorities ?

  21. Paul:Ah okay, my bad….I see your point, but stand by mine…..all the points I’ve made above assume that the yearly deficit will be lowered, if it wasn’t/isn’t, then of course….we’re in for disaster, but…I didn’t/don’t really consider that a possibility, we’re borrowing so much atm because we’re in recession, I don’t think any govt of any party will continue to do so after the election/recovery….

  22. Same thing Keirs theory of Camerons silence tells us about the cons, that they want to win at the expense of honesty/integrity because they honestly believe that the coutry would be better off for it with them in power.

    That’s the system we have, all parties feel that they’re best off misleading the electorate in order to get into/keep power, and that the country is better off for them doing it.

  23. @Wood

    There’s also the surplus/deficit to think about. Japan may have 198% debt but was running a surplus at 5% in 2007, Germany nearly 9%. UK and USA were both running deficits of around 5% in good years. Countries like Germany may see a bigger hit GDP-wise, but they will be better placed to come out of it because they won’t be adding as much to their debt as we will.

    What I think your numbers show more than anything is that the western world leaders all got sucked into this “never ending boom” idea, and dismissed any suggestions that the good times wouldn’t last forever.

  24. Wood,

    While you may be correct in your analysis of Keir’s view ( I leave that for him to acknowledge / refute), if so, you are both belied by the facts.

    It may have been true in the past, but it is clearly not the line being taken by Cameron and Osborne in recent weeks. They make no bones that there are painful choices ahead and we will need both tax rises and spending cuts.

    Historically, politicians pander to what is popular, and that does not normally include telling people that they are going to be worse off. Making plain the horrible truth is uncomfortable, and a big gamble for any political party.

    Personally I believe that Cameron is right to take this gamble, since the risks now are far less than they have been in the past. It also helps that this stance can be portrayed as being consistent with an overall philosophy of trusting the people, as well as the fairly obvious need for a little more honesty and integrity from our leaders.

    There may be screams of outrage from the Heffer tendency, but this may mark the turning point in creating a positive reason for voting Conservative as opposed to the (many) negative ones for voting against Labour.

    The measure of success will be whether we now see the Conservative share rise and remain consistently above 45% in the polls over the next few months.

  25. “That’s the system we have, all parties feel that they’re best off misleading the electorate in order to get into/keep power, and that the country is better off for them doing it.”

    Wood, that might say as much about the electorate as the system.

  26. I can understand the varying opinions on how the ‘Economy’ has been handled by Labour. I don’t believe that it’s the main reason for their loss of vote share however.

    Before the current difficulties the Tories were gaining simply because of, in the minds of many voters, poor policy by the Government.

    I won’t be voting Tory because my house has lost value but because I believe the social fabric of my society has been damaged by years of over- bureaucratic, meddling, PC governance.

    Many believe that a lack of morality is bad. A reduction in standards in Education is bad. A surveilance culture is bad. A lax attitude to promiscuity among the young is bad. A need to spend more and more money, without anything expected in return, on those who will not work or look after themselves is bad. A total lack of any ‘investment’ in road building is bad. A ‘fine’ instead of proper punishment for shoplifting is bad.

    These things and a list of others as long as your arm were hidden well from the public during the early Blair years but have, slowly over time, become more obvious.

    As a still fairly ‘conservative’ bunch I suspect Brits have just seen more to dislike than like. No GDP collapse or house price crash to it. Just a desire to rid the country of bad governance.

  27. @Mark, agree with your last paragraph, but suggest that the democratic system comes into it a fair bit as well, all capitalist parties are under pressure always to spend more and tax less in the short term…..

    Yes, good for Japan and Germany, they were heading in the right direction but the fact remains they were still in a worse position. I guess that’s a good word to use to describe difference, direction vs postion…..we are in the best position, but we were heading in the wrong direction.

    There’s no reason why we can’t change direction, and I hope that we do after the election under any party/alliance of parties.

    IMO position is more important than direction, because a country can change direction with far more ease than it can position….indeed all UK parties are laying out policies or hints at policies that will at least slow down our speed of travel…if not reverse it.

    And I would point out that actually the UK ran a surplus in good years :p

  28. Are the Brits “fairly conservative”? I thought we were “fairly” centre-left. Is it Comres that asks the “party identifier” question? And doesn’t it consistently put Labour slightly higher than Conservative (though both at a level of around 27%?

    The sheer number of posts here indicates that the debate has more life in it than it did 18 months ago. I remember thinking at the time that Brown needed a breath of wind to counter the inevitability of decline. He’s had more than a gust – at least now there’ll be a proper debate.

    I think there’s a difference between ethics and morality. It may or rmay not be morally right to increase income tax on the highest earners, but it isn’t ethically right, as the decision means breaking a promise. The New Labour Party hamstrung itself by announcing its low-tax ethos (yes, it is lower now than under Thatcher as a % of GDP), and has had to cover its investment commitments by borrowing and encouraging gambling.

    Now it’s seeming to abandon its new low-income-tax ethos. Ethically, therefore, not right. However, the time to change an ethical position is at a General Election. Labour now needs to put across a new ethos that is seen to be morally correct. It’s not certain in my mind that he’d get the job of “New New Labour” Leader if it were put out to tender, so I won’t be at all surprised if he decides to go himself in a year’s time.

  29. Economic News Front
    The number of mortgages approved for people buying a home fell by seven per cent during March (Telegraph).

    Just thought I’d balance up those who post only good economic news :)

  30. All I know is, whoever wins the election is not going to be particularly popular come 2015. Even if we are out of this recession by the end of the year or early next year, the next five years are going to be extremely tough. Many are suggesting there will be *another* recession during the 2010-2015 parliament or that we will be in and out of positive growth constantly. And then you look at darlings forecasts for growth. And thats whats worrying. He has made his borrowing assumptions on his GDP estimates. And yet Darling is so consistently out of step with those estimates.
    His terrible GDP estimates last november drove him to suggest we would be borrowing 118bn this year. That has already increased to 175bn in just six months. And still his GDP estimates are ridiculously out of step for the next few years. So what is next years 173bn going to actually be? Or the following year’s 140bn? (original Nov 08 forecast 87bn.)

    We have a chancellor in denial. People that think we are just fine and that debt will be as AD says 79% or whatever are really burying their heads in the sand. There is a real danger of it tumbling out of control very quickly. Much the same way it did between november and now. How many credible sources are saying ADs growth forecasts are not optimistic?

    Then we can easily have the problem of selling all that debt. Its cost going up etc.

  31. @M whats worse is that this is the seasonal peak for house sales.

  32. The stabilisation of the housing market is directly attributable to credit becomeing more available.

    So house sales rose by 40% in March, and prices, though still falling, are bottoming out. The only people with an interest in cherry-pickiing figures to “prove” prices are crashing are the ones heading for the auction rooms, armed with “evidence” form housepricecrashdotcom

    There a still relatively few distressed sellers out there, and the protection scheme is about to kick in. The figres for repossessions will be interesting.

  33. why would labour change their policy of the last decade???

    Because it failed?

    Higher taxes would make more sense than higher borrowing. I suspect Cameron would prefer that too.

    Labour were elected only when they made a commitment not to raise income tax. If they get in again, they will not be bound by that, and will therefore lower borrowing , but tax more in order to pay for the public services that they think the voters want.

  34. I recommend the IFS analysis of the Budget-it helps one to forget the waffle & cant to be found in some the posts here.

    Some key figures from IFS:-

    Darlings plans :-

    09/10
    Tax reductions £1.6bn
    Spending increases £6.0bn
    Total Fiscal loosening £7.6 bn

    10/11
    Tax increases £2.8bn
    Spending increases £3.4
    Total Fiscal loosening £0.6bn

    11/12
    Tax increases £5.2bn
    Spending reductions £3.3bn
    Total Fiscal tightening £8.5 bn

    12/13 Tax increases £7.3bn
    Spending reductions £10.2bn
    Total Fiscal tightening £17.5bn

    13/14 Tax increases £7.7bn
    Spending reductions £18.8 bn
    Total Fiscal tightening£26.5bn.

    ie Labour plan pre-GE loosening & post GE tightening consisting of both tax increases & spending cuts.

    No post 13/14 forecasts for Public Debt is made.

    IFS projection is -return to 40% X GDP by 2030……..assuming Darling is right about growth for 2010 & after.(!)

    IFS assessment-on Public Debt repayment :-

    “Whoever takes office in the general election after next will still have to find another £45 billion a year in today’s money by the end of their parliament to eliminate this deficit, from tax increases and cuts in non-investment spending.”

    The GE will be about who is best able & qualified to manage the correction of this mess, whilst giving our children a better education, improving social justice, maintaining our health care , reducing crime. & returning our economy to a more balanced portfolio.

    Tall order-not too many candidates!

  35. @Paul: Both the cons and lab are saying broadly the same thing about the future, with minor differences of focus more on either cuts/rises. I do not agree that Cameron is making plain the horrible truth, if he was he’d be laying down exactly what he’s going to cut but he won’t do that because it’d be politically awful, for the same reasons Brown isn’t talking about what cuts(or tax hikes) he’ll be making if he’s still PM after the election.

    Probably the cons are perceived as slightly more honest with regards to the economy after darlings highly optomistic estimates, but I don’t think David ‘bicycle’ Cameron stands much chance of generating an entirely trustworthy image between now and the election.

    I really really don’t agree that either party is being open and honest, this is politics we’re talking about…and I’d have particular difficulty swallowing that about Cameron (him specifically, not particularly cons over lab or lib dem).

    @M: “Wood, that might say as much about the electorate as the system.”

    I couldn’t agree more, afterall, education education education has produced such a knowledgable youth :/

    @John TT, I see him leaving either immediately after the election if they lose, or a couple of years after if they win…..unless by some miracle darlings predictions come true and he can be Mr Economy again…don’t think they’ll get rid of him before the election though, it’s too late.

    @M again….I broadly agree with what you say with regards to his estimates, but think it’s a little harsh to blame him for not anticipating the recession….if anything I seem to remember him getting criticised for talking about the….shockwave? stormwave?…whatever that phrase was he used way back when and everyone thought he was worrying over nothing.

    @M again again, dya mean cherry picking carefully by choosing the exact same source that Mark M is using himself now? Which Mark M clearly cherry picked himself out of a rather more mixed bag in the telegraph piece in an attempt to counter all the one sided info given by others? :p

    @Keir “@Wood – firstly please don’t use my arguments to make your point, it makes me feel dirty.”

    Well thanks….I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth at all, I don’t think I did…if I’ve misrepresented what I thought you were saying please let me know.

    @Keir still “Second, you say you cannot imagine any government increasing the debt burden once we are out of this recession”

    Actually no, I wasn’t saying anything like that, I was saying that I can’t imagine any govt generating the same deficit in normal running that has occured during this once or twice a century level recession….

    I expect either govt to continue the post war pattern of generating deficit overall, but I hope I’m proved wrong.

  36. Colin – I assume you’ve simply added the two figures to get to your (?) “Fiscal tightening/loosening” figure?

    I’m not a professional economist, or statistician, but wouldn’t those figures be easier on the eye if you included weighting for growth and inflation? And perhaps the “spending” figures are distorted slightly by the natural flex in the spending on welfare ?

    your list is a big one – many to the right of you would cross most of it off, and add defence of the realm. I suspect their voices will be heard loud and clear over the next year.

  37. @John TT”I’m not a professional economist, or statistician, but wouldn’t those figures be easier on the eye if you included weighting for growth and inflation? And perhaps the “spending” figures are distorted slightly by the natural flex in the spending on welfare ?”

    Sure….go find us some figures for growth, inflation & welfare costs for the next 5 years that we all agree on and we can do that :)

  38. “that we all agree on” ?
    I think we all agree that would be impossible about anything :)

  39. “I think we all agree that would be impossible about anything ”

    I disagree :)

  40. “The only people with an interest in cherry-pickiing figures to “prove” prices are crashing are the ones heading for the auction rooms,”

    And Labour supporters (Chris Newey) trying to convince people things are better than they are. You know this. You were posting in the thread.

    ” armed with “evidence” form housepricecrashdotcom””

    The info at that site is taken from directly from Land Registry, Nationwide, Halifax, Right Move. You know that too. You may not like the figures, but they are the figures.

    There may well be people there cheering prices down (I honestly wouldnt know-I visited their message board once and that was oct 08), but that doesnt mean they are making the figures up. Attempting to discredit the figures, just because a site like HPC is reporting them is tragically desperate.

  41. HPC exists to find bargains for its visitors. it isn’t an independent surveyor (like the RICS), and its figures shouldn’t really be relied on to give an accurate picture.

    House prices are still going down, but they seem to be reaching the bottom. A 40% increase in sales isn’t tragic, and any dramatic increase in sales without an increase in prices has to be a good thing.

    A few more relatively positive months of house sales and mortgage approvals figures will increase general confidence.

  42. John TT @ 2.17pm

    The figures are straight from the IFS analysis.I recommend it to you & anyone who wants to understand Darling’s last Budget without having to plough through the Red Book-or simply waffle without understanding.

    I give them to demonstrate that Labour’s increasingly threadbare resort to “Tory Cuts” is pure cant. Those figures are Darling’s cuts -and best case at that if you believe most commentators.

    They show that Darling plans more fiscal tightening via spending cuts than tax increases.As you say-these spending cuts are net of the effect of automatic stabiliser/recession driven revenue spend increases , and so-as shown in the IFS analysis- cuts in Investment are higher than the net figure & very significant.

    Re your last para, I don’t know about people to the “right” of me-I just believe that that list would be most people’s priorities regardless of political geography.
    I am increasingly sure that Cameron & Osborne are the sort of Conservatives I can be happy with.
    The statements & leaks from Cheltenham are very encouraging from my perspective-and very interesting.

    Yes certain mega defence projects are being targetted it seems-as are Tax Credits for people earning over £50k pa !

  43. “HPC exists to find bargains for its visitors. it isn’t an independent surveyor (like the RICS), and its figures shouldn’t really be relied on to give an accurate picture.”

    You keep trying to imply the site attempts to mislead people with its own (made up) figures. You are misinformed, or lying. I thought this was settled the other day. The site reports figures from other, widely used sources. Land Registry, Nationwide, Halifax, Right Move, Communities and Local Government House Price Index.

    So actually yes, its figures should indeed be relied upon. As much as you dont like it, John.

  44. I suspect next John TT will be attempting to discredit anyone that has a problem with Alistair Darling’s GDP forecasts.

  45. @John T T – “Labour were elected only when they made a commitment not to raise income tax. If they get in again, they will not be bound by that, and will therefore lower borrowing , but tax more in order to pay for the public services that they think the voters want.” – John they have not been bound to it this time or any other manefesto promise. Unless you remember having a referendum or wish to discount the 50% on higher income (I don’t have a major problem with it, but please understand that this is a poor excuse to keep borrowing beyond your means)

  46. “I suspect their voices will be heard loud and clear over the next year.”

    John-I suspect you want them to be-just as I might wish for “Old Labour” voices to be increasingly heard on the left of centre.

    So maybe we are both waiting for the Emperor’s clothes of our respective “oppositions” to disappear in a puff of smoke.

    Blairite Labour-Cameronian Conservatism.

    Will either be exposed to stand naked before the crowd ? -both? -neither?-just one; & which one?

  47. Wood: re your post at 2.10

    First –

    “Both the cons and lab are saying broadly the same thing about the future, with minor differences of focus more on either cuts/rises.”

    I would dispute both that the parties are saying broadly the same thing and that the differences between them are minor. If that were your impression, then the budget has failed the political test as well as the economic one.

    Second:-
    ” I do not agree that Cameron is making plain the horrible truth, if he was he’d be laying down exactly what he’s going to cut but he won’t do that because it’d be politically awful, for the same reasons Brown isn’t talking about what cuts(or tax hikes) he’ll be making if he’s still PM after the election.”

    Cameron has made plain that there will need to be significant cuts and that it will be painful. Several pointers have been laid down as to where those cuts might fall, along with a clear direction for future aspirations.

    But, given that we do not yet know how bad the position will be next spring, it seems a bit pointless to get into a debate over £50m here or £100m there when the hole to be plugged is more than the entire revenue from any one of the major Tax groups.

    Why should the Tories be obliged to pinpoint specific cuts when Labour have not identified any of the minuscale reductions in the pace of spending growth
    or the taxes they propose to make the books eventually balance ?

    I am not accusing you of being a leftie, but you do seem more inclined to put the onus on Cameron to provide solutions than on Labour to explain why they have created such a problem. You are also trying to play down the extent of the problem.

    What is the relevance of bicycles to fiscal policy ? Or was this a gratuitous ad hominem attack ?

  48. @Wood

    “And I would point out that actually the UK ran a surplus in good years”

    And I would say that you are wrong :)

    For reference, download a copy of the 2008 pre-budget report and go to page 222, and read the column for ‘public sector net borrowing’. For 2001-02 it was 0% GDP. Since then it was 2.3%, 2.9%, 3.3%, 3.0%, 2.3% and 2.6% in 07-08.

    And actually I’d rather be in the Germany situation too, as we wouldn’t have to find £175bn just to balance the books. You do realise that we are spending £4 for every £3 we take in tax right?

  49. @Mark M

    Just to fill those stats out, Labour did begin to generate a surplus for 2 years (1997-9) after their election.

    These were the years where they had promised to follow Tory spending plans.

    Immediately after that, the deficit began, and grew, and hasn’t stopped.

  50. Paul: Yeah, I see your first point…there are differences, but that’s really an argument about the exact definition of words like broadly and minor….I wasn’t particularly trying to say that the parties are the same in their policies (although they both say the same things, try to get the middle ground), but disputing any suggestion that Cameron was bravely telling people the future wouldn’t be all sweetless and light while Brown was. With the exception of the disputed darlings predictions, which I did mention, I think both parties are trying to give the impression of ‘telling it like it is’, and neither are being completely open and honest, or anywhere near it.

    “Cameron has made plain that there will need to be significant cuts and that it will be painful. Several pointers have been laid down as to where those cuts might fall, along with a clear direction for future aspirations.
    But, given that we do not yet know how bad the position will be next spring, it seems a bit pointless to get into a debate over £50m here or £100m there when the hole to be plugged is more than the entire revenue from any one of the major Tax groups.
    Why should the Tories be obliged to pinpoint specific cuts when Labour have not identified any of the minuscale reductions in the pace of spending growth
    or the taxes they propose to make the books eventually balance ?
    I am not accusing you of being a leftie, but you do seem more inclined to put the onus on Cameron to provide solutions than on Labour to explain why they have created such a problem.”

    Cameron has talked about cuts (and mebe some tax rises, though not that I’ve noticed), and Brown/Darling has too, neither of them has particularly mentioned what those cuts/rises will be…(have been some things I know: Darling was forced to by the budget, Camerons preexisting ID card stance is obvious and he had to naturally make some kinda promise on the NHS…but there are big big gaps for both parties).

    Obliged is a tricky word, let me put it like this….in reality, as I said, it would be politically insensible for either party to give such (somewhat speculative) plans, but in an ideal world I do think both the cons AND labour, and the libdems and anyone who wanted to be taken seriously should…however in that ideal world they wouldn’t have to worry about people screaming u-turn if they changed their mind.

    I think any party should be obliged to be as specific as possible about what their plans are should they be elected, it shouldn’t be a situation where people are having to HOPE that Cameron will purposely generate some small surplus over time because we actually have no idea whether he intends to or not. This applies to all opposition of any party, and, naturally, the incumbent.

    I’m not a leftie, though not entirely a rightie either, I actually made a post earlier specifically assuring people of my non-labourness but it seems not to have made the moderation grade….I have never voted for Labour, and I almost certainly won’t be next year. I don’t think I’ve been putting the onus more on Cameron, I’ve made a point of specifically mentioning things from both sides even when I think it’s unecessary/irrelevant to try to stop people assuming I am…I think perhaps I seem so because the points I am disagreeing with/disputing are coming from the right wing, but I’m equally likely to dispute innaccuracies from the left.

    Having said that, I have issue with your claim that New Labour has created this problem….of course it very much depends on what problem you’re referrring to…

    I’m going to assume it’s not the recession itself, no-one even vaguely reasonable is blaming GB for the worldwide situation…which means probably the level of debt the UK is in. This is perhaps a matter of semantics, but I would say that New Labours rule has failed to fix, and exaggerated a preexisting problem, every govt since the war has essentially been borrowing and borrowing and telling themselves that inflation and growth will make it not matter, although I think I’ve made clear that I think Labour should have taken some steps towards fixing it, to say they alone are responsible for it is a little iffy….it’s not as if we weren’t in debt in 97….

    “What is the relevance of bicycles to fiscal policy ?” Very little relevance, I don’t recall saying it did….I was specifically talking about your suggestion that Cameron is being more honest than the other parties, and referring to an incident….if you can call something which went on for 18 months an incident…..which has damaged all hope of…at least myself…thinking of him as an honest man.

    @Mark M:….well Rich has already corrected you so no worries. I am rarely wrong :p

    @Richard: Labours public opinion restrained tax rises with Tory public opinion minimally restrained spending is apparently a good recipe for a healthy budget :)….it seems that one possible scenario after the next election is Cameron wins having promised to stick with most of Labours large spending, and then cuts taxes…quite the reverse and not a tempting prospect at all….

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