During the day yesterday YouGov asked people for their first reactions to the defence cuts – so this was largely conducted before David Cameron’s formal announcement, but after almost the whole contents had been announced in the morning newspapers.

A majority thought that the size of the defence cuts were either appropriate (38%) or too small (13%), with 37% saying they went too far. The details of the cuts however met with more negative reactions. 48% of respondents thought the reduction in troop numbers was too large, with only 28% thinking they were acceptable.

The most controversial decision in the review, scrapping the Harrier Jet early and leaving Britain’s aircraft carriers without fighter planes until around 2020, was rejected by most respondents. 60% thought leaving carriers without fighters was unnacceptable, 23% that it was an acceptable cut until 2020.

The most interesting question there though was who people thought was to blame. 30% said the coalition and 34% said the last Labour government. Compare that to the regular YouGov tracker on who people blame the cuts in general, which is still finding 48% blaming Labour the most and only 18% blaming the coalition most. My suspicion is that this is because people blame the last Labour government when it is just generic cuts, but once specific cuts are announced they may begin to apportion more of the blame more upon the present government as they are the ones who chose to make these particular cuts.

Voting intention was CON 42%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%.

286 Responses to “First reactions to the defence cuts”

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  1. All rhetoric my dear.

  2. The business with the carriers is absurd – the truth is that for the last 40 years (if not more) political management of our military services has been appalling regardless of party.

  3. I see George still struggles with basic mathematics:

    Spending on police will fall by 4% a year (18% over four years)

    Next he’ll be telling us that 2 + 2 = 5…

  4. SimpleSimon

    No catapult or arresters will be fitted in the initial build but the carrier will be built to accommodate a future back-fit. The carrier will be fitted with a steam catapult or electromagnetic launch system and arrester gear, if the option to convert the carrier to the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant proceeds.

  5. h ttp://www.tellyougov.com/topics/5729

    [useful baromter]

  6. MikeN

    “…Osborne isn’t the genius you fear.”
    I agree.”

    Yep- agree with you both: he is a short term thinker (tactics) rather than strategist: which ias why he is aided and abetted by the Tory conference always taking place after the Labour conference.

    The strategic Osborne appears to base itself on a smaller state and the private sector improving the economy creating two million jobs in four years (and employing UK citizens rather that EU citizens with free right to live and work anywhere); that that ‘less is more’ in terms of the quality of public services.

    It is HUGE gamble- but with every gamble there is a chance it will win and a chance that it will lose. Well we shall see if it does by 2013-2014.

    I said weeks ago that Labour would not get any supra-m.o.e lead till (at the earliest) the period of the May elections. In terms of national VI polls no elongated 3-4% plus lead till the end of 2011.

    The people on here either stating the next election is all but over (and that Dave and George can kiss goodbye to all those pesky yellows- but not Nick, Danny and David) or who are arguing that Osborne has something akin to mystical God Like superhero powers are blowing a lot of hot air. To be expected I suppose.

    This is a long haul and the VI numbers will only change gradually over the next three years: either hard in favour of blue or hard in favour of red. So my prediction of Sundays YouGov poll before today was 41-40-10; it is now 42-39-12.

    Instant judgements are that Osborne got his soundbite in for this evenings and tomorrows news- and a clever and funny one it was. That will- of course- unravel over the next week or two as the IFS get stuck into CSR numbers and we see EdM/AJ detailed retort on the back of Mondays initial statement.

    But so much instant vacuous judgement on the impact of this statement :-)

  7. @Mike N

    ‘The gov have cleverly and ably managed/massaged the media stories’

    It takes two to tango. I have been amazed at the amount of coverage given to the CSR by the BBC. They have made the spending review central to nearly every news program for three months. The tone was invariably negative which I attributed partly to the ongoing row over funding the BBC and partly to editorial choice.
    In the end the BBC did the govt’s spin for them by pushing this item so hard that only Armageddon would suffice.

  8. @ Eoin

    Three of the most important issues to any red are
    1. Health Service
    2. Education System
    3. Children
    I have to say for all of these to be making progress under the supposed worse cuts since the 1930s and under a blue gov. leaves me very very happy indeed.

    On Health – The GP’s running the NHS idea could seriously destabilise what is potentially positive news for Cons on the NHS.

    On Education – Direct schools funding may seem like it’s fairly stable, however local councils face massive cuts which may negate the protection of schools’ budget. Then there’s the matter of astronomical cuts to the funding of university teaching.

    Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but it doesn’t look much like progress to me. Over the next few weeks we’ll see what the polling produces on these matters.

  9. Something’s just struck me – GO here has gone for an average of 19% of cuts, one percent less than Labour planned. So basically, what GO has said, is that St Gordon of Brown was absolutely right about what needed to be done with the economy.

    So the public has voted for the ‘economically incompetent’ plan that they voted against in May?

    Does anyone else have the weird sensation of having tumbled down a rabbit hole?

  10. @Rob Sheffield – “The strategic Osborne appears to base itself on a smaller state and the private sector improving the economy….”

    I’m just catching up with things, but while I agree with the above it appears Osbourne has made a much bigger gamble. It’s clear that the review process highlighted the impossibility of the 25% spending cuts he outlined in June. I don’t believe this was posturing.

    The result is that now we have far more ‘efficiency savings’ and welfare cuts, basically to make up the numbers. Efficiency savings never come in at the required level and welfare cuts aren’t actual cuts – these are budget projections. The government rapidly loses control of welfare payments if assumptions on growth and employment don’t materialise.

    He is making much of the 19% average departmental cuts. I have a very strong suspicion that we will see a faillure to achieve the overall tightening as the increased emphasis on efficiency and welfare won’t be deliverable. I just can’t see a plan to reclassify ill people as unemployed and reducing their benefits being a satisfactory avenue.

    Today’s PSBR figures are disappointing and also show we are overshooting now month by month, largely due to the drop in confidence since the coalition took power.

    It’s a rocky road, but my first judgement is that I don’t think we’ve taken the most appropriate early steps.

  11. Cuts less than Labour’s?

    Will they still be calling Labour ‘deficit deniers’, if that GO soundbite becomes the headline.

    Never has a message been so mixed…

  12. Certainly GO is no genius, he has a couple of hard acts to follow………”No return to boom and bust” is the sort of statement we get from a genius…..or so we thought at the time…..Anyway, overall I felt that GO aquitted himself well, at least the economy is now in the hands of a realist. The media seem to be equivocal, especially the right, seems a bit odd but then GO is not an ally of the fourth estate.

  13. A Big Accounting firms observations are already out:

    “The government is relying on “heroic assumptions” in forecasting economic growth while making big cuts to spending, auditor KPMG has warned.

    The economy is forecast to grow by 2.25% next year, factoring in the impact of cuts.

    But KPMG’s chief economist Andrew Smith said this assumed businesses and consumers would continue spending.

    Indicators were already casting doubt on this, he said, suggesting the economy was already losing momentum.

    “The resumption of robust growth is crucial to the deficit reduction arithmetic,” Mr Smith said.

    “But the chancellor is making some rather heroic assumptions”

    Peston on bbc24 also alluded just now to the point I made that any jobs created by the private sector can be taken by EU citizens who have free right of movement and are not subject to any ‘cap’ or other arrangements.

  14. The Unions & the Labour Party are focusing on the PWC report,500k jobs will also be lost in the Private Sector through 2015 as well as the Public Sector.

    I reckon this shows the desperate mess Labour is in on these cuts & the lack of a plan of their own.

    PWC report also says,there will be a net 500k increase in employment,even after the effects on the Public Sector & Private Sector job cuts through 2015.

    I think i would sum it up like this,if this works the Public Sector will be smaller and more efficient in 2015 & with unemployment 500k lower than it is today,so about 2m at the General election 2015,i would expect the tories to win a majority,if it works!

    Labour in oppositon will struggle far more than people think in the coming years,a Labour opposition that cannot promise more spending is always going to struggle.

    The Libs are damned if they do,damned if they don’t,i would see their GE percentage at around 15% In 2015,in otherwords,if these cuts work the tories will get the credit,if the cuts make the coalition suffer the libs will suffer its part,a no win situation for the Lib-Dems in my opinion,except they are getting experience in Government.

  15. @Rob Sheffield……If the EU citizens are more suited to the jobs, bring ’em in, and by the way, UK citizens can dip their toes in the EU labour market, there are rich pickings to be got.

  16. @Rob Sheffield
    “Peston on bbc24 also alluded just now to the point I made that any jobs created by the private sector can be taken by EU citizens who have free right of movement and are not subject to any ‘cap’ or other arrangements.”
    The eleumph in the room?
    The YouGov / Sun survey showed that around 60% of people are worried to some degree about the outlook for jobs during the next two or three years. A slow-burn factor which takes us back to the worries of the 80s ?

  17. I watched the TV coverage & from my rather partisan viewpoint, spotted a few things I think are worth mentioning:

    1. Alan Johnson was short on rhetoric & delivery; but made points that an ordianry voter would understand.

    2. IDS looked very pleased with the All Party support for his reforms.

    3. AJ’s comments about education cuts vs spending seemed sketchy. I do not think he sought/ received much input from Ed B. ;-)

    4. Theresa May actually had to stop herself from nodding in agreement with some of AJ’s points about policing & about equality!!

    5. Whatever we thought of AJ, Osborne certainly did not expect AJ to do as well as he did. Several times, Osborne’s face was a picture – not one I’d hang on my wall, I hasten to add.

  18. alec,

    Good post.

    Yes I think Georgie is anking on the magic word of ‘efficiencies’ making up some of the ground, hich I must say is fine by me. Historically, top line cuts gradually get diluted. There are at least five more opportunities for this to e diulted, without a murmur of dissent. Gradual whittling will see these cuts end up at 13-5%. (in my view).

    Once agin, that is fine by me….

    Howe managed 3% growth in the years after ’81. If GO does not get that (and I dout he will), that is where his trouble might begin.

    I even noticed he factored in interest debt reapyments into his cuts.. Almost impossible to predict on would assume??

  19. @Billy/Amber

    My understanding of the issue with the % cut is down to what is not ringfenced. The Lab fence was larger than the coalition one including police so the same cuts would actually affect the non-ringfenced part more. The IFS is saying that the total departmental cuts are 12% for Lab and 14% for the coalition.
    19% of a larger cake is more than 20% of a smaller cake. Either way GO has got his bite.

  20. @RobSheffield – “… he is a short term thinker”

    Michael Crick’s blog relates how, far from the CSR going to the printers on Monday… they were still looking for extra savings yesterday from the BBC, and trying out different proposals.

    The Media Show just broadcast on R4 reflects a growing concensus among opinion formers: this government makes its decisions “on the hoof”.

  21. Eoin Clarke

    Interest debt repayments

    The tories are hitting Labour on this though,under Labour’s plans debt interest would be the same as cutting 100,000 nurses per year i heard on the BBC today,this is something joe-public can understand.

    The Conservatives struggled with getting their message across a the GE,it was very poor from DC,strange considering he was a PR man in the Privare Sector.If the tories sharpen up on this,Labour will suffer from it.

  22. It’s difficult to make decisions other than, ‘on the hoof’ when your’e charging to the edge of a cliff on a runaway horse. :-)

  23. @ Aleksander

    True enough – although that isn’t the way GO is painting it. Mind, it is an average of 19% so presumably other departments are taking more of a kicking.

    @ Richard

    Hang on, I’m a touch confused. 500k of jobs are going to go. And then 500k of jobs are going to magically reappear by 2015?

    “if this works”

    If pigs had wings they could fly ;)

  24. @Ken

    “@Rob Sheffield……If the EU citizens are more suited to the jobs, bring ‘em in, and by the way, UK citizens can dip their toes in the EU labour market, there are rich pickings to be got”

    I agree with the former point- though I don’t think Dave and George have done their homework on this matter at all ;-)

    On the second point (a) the UK population- partly as a result of English becoming the global language after the fall of the Berlin wall- basically is monoglot.

    There won’t be more than a trickle of people going abroad for the types of low skilled low paid jobs in question- for example where one parent is a foreign language speaker. As an Nation we can’t speak the lingo. Hardly helped by languages being targeted by this government in spending cuts to HE!!

    So we are going to have a build up of people who can’t get a job even where- in certain sub regions- the labour market is reported to be ‘buoyant’.

    (b) Any high skilled overseas jobs won’t make a dent in the unemployment that is caused by this CSR. Incidentally- on high skilled job opportunities: University staff can teach across Europe as- thanks to Lisbon and something called ‘Bologna agreement’- Master of Science degrees are taught in English in Northern Europe (and later in Southern Europe as well). Ditto in places like China and Russia- my place already does teaching in China. So UK academics are in great demand…if you are mobile of course :-)

  25. Billy Bob
    “…this government makes its decisions “on the hoof”.”

    Yes. I think the five years of DC, GO and WH daily devising policy was on the basis of what needed to be said on the day. This appriach has its attractions, but the weakness of adopting/pursuing this approach in gov will become manifest at some point (soon I hope).

  26. Richard,

    Or alternatively, you could just let the debt grow! :) :) As long as GDP goes in the right direction, who cares? :) :)

  27. Billy

    The Private sector creates jobs as well as cutting them,in the last couple of quarters 340.000 jobs had been created according to the CBI,not net,just jobs created as some are cut,thats how an economy works.

    It is desperate and laughable for Labour to pick up on one part of the PWC report,if this is the best they can do!

    PWC’s report says,there will net a jobs increase of 500k,even after 500k PS jobs & 500k PS jobs go in 2015.

  28. Billy

    A better way of explaining it to you.

    If we get say a 20k reduction in unemployment next month,it could mean100k people lost their jobs but 120k people got jobs.

    Or 200k people lost jobs & 220k found jobs,and so on.

    UK workforce approx 30m,even 300,000 jobs is 1%.

  29. @Éoin……….You obviously agree with Gordon, no return to boom and bust, so no need for rainy day money. :-)

  30. A fascinating day.

    DC vs EM & GO vs AJ. – both gave a pretty good indication of how the battle lines are being set out.

    Can’t wait for the first Polling reaction to CSR.

  31. Ken,

    A couple of quarters of negaitve growth is hardly a bust. Barely a recession I’d say! Flash Gordon saved us! Time to spend again :) T’was close tho’ ;)

  32. Colin,

    I am sure it is not too late for Howard to include you in that list of predications?

    Poor Ken and I are out there on our own at 44% 9me) and 43% (him) respectively. would you care to join us? :P

  33. @Éoin……Thank God for that……for one horrible moment there, I thought we were in trouble ! :-)

  34. @Éoin…..crossed post…………but we do need support, so like GO, I’ll kill 2 birds with one message. :-)

  35. One issue that has slipped economists minds,i find it crucial & most of the Public don’t know about it,i would also guess most on here don’t have a clue.

    Since the Great depression the USA has experienced a recession of average every 7yrs,the credit crunch started in the US in 2007.This is not an exact science but on average every 7 yrs,under Labour’s plans for halving the defcit in 4 yrs,that would leave a £85bn approx deficit when the USA could be entering another recession,that would be devastating for an open economy like the UK.

    And it is totally out of our control.

  36. Oh, see the “19% cuts” line backfiring on Osborne!!
    “Is it Labour plans or his plans?” ad infinitum on every channel.

  37. I think that Simon Hughes has been abducted by aliens and they have replaced him with a lookalike who is on BBC News right now supporting pretty much everything which GO, DC an DN have been saying about how fair the cuts are.

  38. sorry – typo – DN = NC

  39. Cozmo, – so were Ming and Farron

    This CSR was a victory on a grand scale for yellow

    pupil premium
    trident delayed
    education, overseas, and nhs protected
    Justice? Less jail numbers? MOD cuts?
    VAT & Browne will hurt yellow but not CSR.


    Tonights YG (total guesswork)

    Blue 42%
    Yellow 12%
    Reds 38%

  40. @Eoin
    “so were Ming and Farron”
    :) :)
    I must have missed the flying saucer but tiz cloudy around here !

    My guess for tonite :-
    41 – 37 – 13

  41. Eoin
    “Poor Ken and I are out there on our own at 44% 9me) and 43% (him) respectively. would you care to join us?”

    Er, no, I’ve predicted 43%…but for Lab.


  42. @Richard
    “And it is totally out of our control.”

    So, the CSR is barely announced and you’re making with the excuses already?

  43. Mike N,

    Polar opposites! You say +6% red lead I say +7% blue lead. Holy moly, are the great masses that unfathomable?

  44. The first piece of good news I am detectin gon the Tellyougov site for reds is the following.

    The difference in presentation and styles between Alan J and George O is comming up a lot on the barometer. It almost seems as if Johnson’s charm has starkly juxtaposed Osborne as uncaring. It used to be an old oppsoition tactic to get the voters to switch off to Brown’s detail and listen to Cameron’s charm. IT largely worked for the latter, and there are some tentative signs that it is effective for reds. A lot of comments of GO’s persona and manner of delivery, rather than criticism of detail. This also suggests that Johnson’s line of attack on the cuts being ideological may have had some resonance. Very difficult to say at this stage how that will play.

    Ed M got tanked at PMQs, which some of the YG panel are picking up on. Not sure how that will permeate into VIs though. Not yet, anyway.

  45. Mike N

    I am not making excuses for anyone or anything,i think the cuts will work,will not be that bad(in terms of how they effect the public) because there is so much fat to cut.

    For instance,the First Minister for Wales was interviewed on the BBC,moaning about the cuts,it was put to him,wales has 20 Local authorities all doing pretty much the same job as each other,when Birmingham manage with one!,paper pushers,as to my astonishment was the claim from the BBC reporter.(who was herself Welsh).

    He then sheepishly admitted that was ridiculous himself.

    As for my comment about the USA,it happens to be fact,dosn’t matter which party you support,that is out of our control.(when USA has another recession) & history shows after 2014 they are overdue.

  46. Eoin, the NHS and education are not protected, look closer.

  47. Sue Marsh has highlighted a Guardian article which explains one of the meanest measures. Here is a snippet:-

    “Taking the measures one at a time, the first – and the biggest – was to “time limit contributory employment and support allowance” for one year, that is the benefit formerly known as incapacity benefit. What this means is that a disabled or seriously sick person who has a working spouse, however low-paid their job may be, will lose their personal entitlement to benefits after a year.”

    h ttp://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/

  48. @Ken & Eoin
    As both your predictions ruined my closeness to the wisdom of the crowds I’m going to do what any reputable polling company would do and treat you both as outliers.

    @Eoin -” It almost seems as if Johnson’s charm has starkly juxtaposed Osborne as uncaring…”
    Why was GO kept away from the media for most of the GE campaign? Is it because he doesn’t tend to go down very well with the electorate?
    IMO, AJ is likeable. GO isn’t. And as the cuts and the economy in general are likely to be the main topic for the foreseeable future, having someone likeable (as opposed to knowledgeable?) as Chancellor may be a good tactic.

  49. Pam F,

    I have a family full of teaching assitants, orderlies and auxillaries, so I will look tomorrow. Tonight, I want them to relax a bit. They have been stressing about this day for some time. But I have your link saved in my favourites until tomorrow. We are having a wee gettogether later and I don’t want to read it in case it spoils my night :) Head firmly in sand until tomorrow.

    Here is a tellyougov link on Osborne. There is a type of analysis political scientists like to run called ‘coding analyisis’ Basically you pick five reference point sand try to categorise these posts. I’ve spent alittle while doing a rudimentary one (since it aint my field) but the results are tentiatively promising for reds long term strategy. If Ed wanted to run with the ‘playing fields of eton stuff’ or the ‘ideological motivation’- there are signs it strikes a chord.

    h ttp://www.tellyougov.com/topics/73

  50. For the avoidance of doubt, can I state that I am simply the messenger with the ‘eton’ ‘ideological’ stuff. I certainly pay no heed to the former whatsoever. :)

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