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. @Éoin….It is increasingly obvious that you are an admirer of GO, I share your regard for the CoE, however, temper your enthusiasm, it doesn’t do to be overly influenced by personality, we made that mistake during the Blair years, and look where that got us, so for the time being, much as I know you want to, try not to overdo the worship. :-)

  2. Ken,

    Well first and foremost I only discounted the former ;)

    Second, I spent a bit of time digging round on him in Feb. and the more I found, the less I disliked him it is true. He is quite outward looking in temrs of multiculturalism, which if you forgive me, is rare for a blue.

    As for his actual decisions, I disagree with EVERY single one… NI, inheritance, marriage, VAT, CSR, Emergency budget etc. etc. I can’t think of anything the man has ever done that I would appluad.

    No, I a simply have an old fashioned respect for him, that is all. I am used to disagreeing with people (have done all my life) but that invariably has no impact (at all) on whether or not I respect, or like, them.

  3. The Left does itself no favours by ignoring AJs glaring inadequacies, oh that we had chosen EB, this is his territory, I hear them say, but no, ignoring instinct, EM had to show his,’ruthlessness’ and put a pussy cat in the place that no self-respecting pussy should ever be found, SCoE. As a Tory who watched in agony as the ‘quiet man’ got comprehensively flayed by Blair, I see the problem. Time for a shadow Cabinet re-shuffle. Ed Balls is my worst nightmare.

  4. I have to admit, I have no idea how the public receives the CSR – especially as there are no real figures (and even when the departments will announce theirs, these will be global ones).

    It is certainly true that decisions made ad-hoc (and I have to add, without study – certainly it is the case for the Treasury). For example, the report states that university teaching budgets are to be cut from April, but the tuition fees cannot be introduced before 2012. Interesting times for many universities…

    I think Alec’s tea-time post makes excellent and very important points, some that the professional commentators have so far missed.

    I would go even further: I think there is a good chance that the budget deficit will actually increase in the next 12 months or there will be a major breakdown in certain services. This, if happens, could make an experience for the voters similar to the pound’s leaving the ERM.

    As to Labour, yes, the peformance was not spectacular (but partly because of the difficulty of their position, partly because of the way GO dressed up the presentation). As I said a week or so ago: Labour should stop trying to provide an “alternative” – because they have none (or the party would not agree on one) and go after the details, presenting the contradictions in very basic terms, presenting the lack of logic, etc. and hammer those.

    And should go for the cheap ones as well – eg. how do you cut 7% of labour cost in situations where there are fewer than 15 people? Are you cutting all the limbs of one? I know that it’s cheap, but electorate knows such situations from experience: when there is a little cut, people are not cut, but moved somewhere else and there is no saving – it’s purely the boss’s covering his own back.

  5. Eoin

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

    Thanks Eoin-but I will leave you to it.

    I am interested in the developing polling reaction to CSR-obviously.
    But this is a longer game-well it is for DC/GO/NC

    It’s the opposite for EM-as is clear from his main PMQ question.

    I thought EM’s main question was the only interesting bit of a performance in which he was destroyed .

    He asked DC if he would concede that his economic
    policy had failed if unemployment had not fallen NEXT YEAR.

    DC responded ( though not succinctly enough IMO) that unemployment would fall according to OBR forecasts OVER THE PARLIAMENT.

    That DC’s horizon is on 2015 indicates that knows he needs as much time as possible.

    That EM’s horizon is 2011 & NOT 2015 might just indicate that he is not certain that DC will not pull it off by then.

  6. Ed Milliband’s first mistake was to make AJ shadow Chancellor clealry it should have been Ed Balls. Had David won the leadership I wonder who his choice would have been. I believe you need your strongest people at the heart of the battlefront and ducation and the economy ar surely the key areas of ths Parliament. However, let me give Alan Johnson the benefit of the doubt and hope he can shadow GO in an effective way until a reshuffle.

  7. here it is the first day of winter 5cm(2 inches ken) of snow and -2 C (sorry ken i can’t do fahrenheit)

    the kids are ecstatic, but the parents are not

    i thought i would warm the cockles of your hearts and take your minds off those nasty cuts

  8. @Laszlo

    “For example, the report states that university teaching budgets are to be cut from April, but the tuition fees cannot be introduced before 2012. Interesting times for many universities…”

    What was actually stated today was: The Hefce budget is to be slashed from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion by 2014-15 (as opposed to cut from 7.1 billion down to 800 million as speculated last week). That 2.9 billion gap is to funded by an increase in tuition fees.

    Osborne said in the House today that the government will “come forward with our detailed response to Lord Browne’s report on higher education funding and student finance, including our plans to provide financial support to encourage those from the poorest households to stay in education”.

    He added: “Clearly, better-off graduates will have to pay more – and this will enable us to reduce considerably the contribution that general taxpayers have to make to the education of those who will probably end up earning much more than them.”

    The spending review document itself adds: “Subject to parliamentary consent, universities will be able to increase graduate contributions supported by government loans, with a broadly offsetting reduction in the teaching grant, from the 2012-13 academic year.” It says the government will publish a White Paper “during the winter”. Osborne also said that the government would reject the “unworkable idea of a pure graduate tax”.

    So you are *wrong* in saying that the Hefce grant is cut from April 2011. It is clear from all the official statements (as was widely expected it has to be said) that the HEFCE grant to teaching changes come into effect at the same time as the changes to “student contributions” – namely April 2012 start of financial year for academic year 2012-2013 roll-out.

    Incidentally- the cut to that Hefce budget is 41%: that is compared to the 82% implied by the Browne report and what everyone was expecting after the leak of that VC email last week (which could have been a tactically astute bit of scaremongering) !

    What we *don’t* know- until the white paper- is which subjects will have all their HEFCE teaching grant cut; which will have a proportion of it cut, and which will have none of it cut. The prediction is that Arts, Humanities (History, Politics, Geography, English Literature) and Languages will have to cover all their costs from higher tuition fees; vocational subjects like Law and the range of Built Environment (Architecture, Construction, Property) will get some grants for elements of their field whilst Medicine, Biotech, Engineering will get 100% Hefce funding. All currently speculation.

    That- and the decision on the precise figure of the student tuition fee tapered ceiling- is for the HE white paper due ‘this winter’.

  9. @Epochery

    “Ed Balls. Had David won the leadership I wonder who his choice would have been”

    Purely hypothetical but as a DM fan I would have thought he would have gone for Yvette Cooper.

  10. Colin,

    Well yes, that is correct. If there are two things reds hate (harsh word I know) about blue is that a) Unemployment does not seem to faze them b) in real terms, living costs rise under a blue gov. for the poor. These are perenial image problems and ones which feed into teh ‘nasty party’ image.

    Now as you rightly stated in 08.05.10, DC was blues chance to change all that. To banish forever the vitriol associated with Thatcher, among the lower middle classes and beyond. Rightly, in my view, that was the modus operandi of the new blue gov.
    _____________________________________

    I have always regarded the 2015 election as a referendum on the applicability of the nasty party tag. In May 2010, voters just about gave blue one more crack at proving they had put that behind them. In part thanks to DC’s detoxification of the brand (gays, juskies et al).

    ________________________________________

    So oever the long term, how did today’s CSR play oout in terms of the NP image?

    Schools, sure start, health, MOD cuts = :)

    This 500,000 figure is the big question mark
    As is VAT (nothing to do with CSR I know). So in short today was a gamble. In ’81 growth of 3% made that gamble pay off. Blues point out that there was 300,000 private secotr jobs created in the last 90days. If they continue to be created, and inflation stays under control. (And blue MPs keep their pants on ;) ) Blues have an outside chance of banishing the NP image.

    If the gamble fails, you do not need me to spell out the consequences
    __________________________________________

    Now from a tactical point of view I would have urged Ed Miliband not to allow that paradigm to in effect become the narrative of this administration. Why? Becuase if Ed is honest, he too is gambling. Except there i ssomething about Ed’s gamble that makes me feel a bit queasy. GO is gambling on the UK being a success. What precisely is Ed M gambling upon? :(
    _____________________________________

    He should have opened up new spending committments, opened up new paradigms, been restless in his determination not to let GO set a five year narrative. I would had loved Ed balls to be able to stand up at a despatch box in March 2015 as Shadow C of E and in reply to GO boasting about 19% income tax and eradicating the deficit have said?

    Bully for you Osborne. Kids can’t get a home or an education. Pensioners can’t afford care. You have crippled our youth and our aged. And all you can boast about is a deficit clearance. Blue accusations of red overspend were devestating. But so too, red accusations of blue underspend ‘could’ have been equally damaging. Instead, I see a narrative slowly slipping out of red control.

    To me it seems like the electorate are going to reward blue with another 5 year term, simply for completing a dot to dot puzzle. No offence but to a Keynsian, that is what deficit clearance is.

  11. AJ will grow into the job and the strategy of warning about the impact of an ‘L’ shaped recovery and dealing with specific cuts issue as they arise is really the only opposition strategy in town.

    EM will have a contingency plan for an election in 2011 or 2012 or a successful revival of the rainbow coalition.. Lib Dem disquiet is going to grow and there are various possible consequences from such disquiet, one being the breakdown of the coalition. If the Lib Dems begin to believe that they face a virtual wipe out an the next GE if this Parliament runs its full course, they begin to think that there best cance is to pull the coalition and offer Labour an opportunity to undo some of the damage.

    Interesting times indeed!

  12. @Rob Sheffield…………Thanks for that Rob, good executive summary. :-) (just for you, I know you enjoy a smiley) :-)

  13. [email protected]

    “That EM’s horizon is 2011 & NOT 2015 might just indicate that he is not certain that DC will not pull it off by then.”

    I would have thought that EdM horizon is actually mid 2012. That being the time by which he has to decide whether he is going to step aside (‘I want the labour party to win and I feel it and the people of Britain are best served….”) i.e. unemployment will have increased and people lives damaged. If labour by early 2012 are not a consistent 4% plus ahead then he will have to go.

    BTW Georgies ‘bravura’ commons performance unravelling in the blogosphere and on the media this evening on closer inspection minute-by-minute :-) Snoozenight and tomorrows C4 news will be instructive on that :-)

    The more I reflect the more today reminds me of a classic “hot air and soundbite” Gordon Brown approach where all the contradictory sleight of hand and disappointing numbers reveal themselves in the subsequent days.

    Right out for quick pint and chinwag- my prediction for tonight is 41-38-11

  14. @ Rob Sheffield

    I happened to see a document about April portion of cuts hence the comment. They may not introduce it, but it was there. It was quite explicit on leaving the universities to decide on the distribution of cuts to different departments. The document carried an October date.

  15. Ed Balls was my first choice for leader, very impressed. Other Ed second. AJ is doing OK, nice chap, maybe not his forte maybe but we have five years

    . I have a feeling that he is going to be around for a couple of difficult years , and then there may well be a new face for shadow chancellor, a new optimism. That may well be the time for Yvette, but moving her into taht role just now might not be most effective,

    Fiver years is a long time in… opposition.
    Who know, the ocalition might have borken down by then?

  16. or….. who knows, the coalition might have broken down by then.

  17. @ Richard

    Thank you for that explanation. The figures still seem to be remarkably convenient, but I am a bit of cynic so that probably explains it :)

  18. Now that the CSR is out of the way, the Tories can start managing the result……the responses will give them all they need to assess the next steps….they can sit back and fine tune the most sensitive areas. Unless Labour get a grip, they’ll play into Tory hands, remember Mandy used to nick all the best Tory ideas by stimulating them in the first place.

  19. @Laszlo

    “I happened to see a document about April portion of cuts hence the comment. They may not introduce it, but it was there. It was quite explicit on leaving the universities to decide on the distribution of cuts to different departments. The document carried an October date.”

    I was quoting *todays* statement by Osborne and the HE section of *todays* CSR report.

    Not discussion documents possibly related to the Browne report and- even if published “in October”- clearly predate the final decisions made as contained within the published CSR today.

    Todays statements and reports could not have been clearer on the roll out of the Hefce and tuiton fee changes from April 2012 :-)

    The detail will be down to the winter HE.

    Right I am late.

  20. @ Eoin

    “Now from a tactical point of view I would have urged Ed Miliband not to allow that paradigm to in effect become the narrative of this administration. Why? Becuase if Ed is honest, he too is gambling. Except there i ssomething about Ed’s gamble that makes me feel a bit queasy. GO is gambling on the UK being a success. What precisely is Ed M gambling upon?”

    Who says you need to gamble? Wasn’t Gordon criticized by Cameron for gambling with Britain?

    And you’re incorrect about Osborne. He’s not gambling on the UK being a success, he’s gambling on the export market. And a cursory glance at what the world beating the austerity drum will mean for that plan will tell you that he’s currently floating down a river of sh*t without a paddle.

  21. First reaction from my employers.

    They have 3,500 officers and 3,000 civilian staff.

    They plan to lose 1,000 staff.

    700 of these will be officers, so presumably 300 will be civilian staff.

    That would leave 2,800 officers and 2,700 civilian staff.

    That’s the problem with cuts, management aren’t very good at targeting them.

  22. Just come in, glanced through this afternoon’s messages and have two new predictions from Valerie and Rob S (rather courageous so soon after the statement) and Colin is taking his ball away and won’t play. :-)

    Spurs 4 -1 down against Inter will not do Boris’s polls any good whatever they do to Osborne’s.

    Very poor CSR treatment of CSR in media from what I saw (poor in quality, I mean). I got more out of BBC Steph’s blog.

  23. Neil A
    Am I to understand that my police CT proportion next year will be 1000 divided by 6500 per cent lower?

  24. “Becuase if Ed is honest, he too is gambling. Except there i ssomething about Ed’s gamble that makes me feel a bit queasy. GO is gambling on the UK being a success. What precisely is Ed M gambling upon? ”

    Failure-clearly-and a failure to be defined & accepted asap-in 2011 even!

    No one -politicians-economists knows how this will play out.

    Both factions are gambling to an extent.

    2011/2012 will be a war of atrition-
    EM screaming failure & armaggedon ,opposing every cut & keeping stum about Labour cuts.

    DC saying give it time-the private sector jobs will come-hoping the IDS initiative begins to do what everyone hopes it will do.

    The public-hurting -deciding, gradually which of these two begins to look right.

  25. @Howard,

    I doubt it. The CC will probably go cap in hand to the police authority asking for an increase to plug the gap in central funding.

  26. An interesting indication about the repercussions of cuts in electoral behavior comes from the elections for the Senate (renewal of 1/3 of members) and the municipalities of the Czech Republic (16-17 October). The center-right coalition government, despite the fact that the cuts were announced prior to the elections and received the support of the majority of voters, took a serious blow. I local election, the winners were both the Social Democrats and the independent candidates, while in the Senate the Soc. Dems had a clear victory, and if these results are confirmed in the second round, they will have majority in the Senate, if not alone, at least with other smaller progressive parties, and they will be able to block a number of government’s decisions. The most heavy losses were for the senior partner of the coalition ODS (allies of Tory in EP) and for the second junior partner VV (almost wiped out). On the contrary, the first junior partner, TOP09, did relatively well, and replaced ODS in the (very center-right) Prague as the first party (in all other major cities SD were clearly ahead). Bottom line: cuts are well received as general intentions, but do not go through well when they become specific. It is, furthermore, clear that recently (2009-2010) defeated center-left parties operate a remarkably recovery in Germany, UK and the Czech Republic (but not in Hungary, whilst in Sweden and the Netherlands is too early to tell, since the new government has been formed quite recently). Also center-left is clearly poised to win in France, Ireland, Denmark, Romania and Lithuania (conversely, center-left governments are seriously menaced in Spain, Portugal and Slovenia, but quite remarkably not in Greece, despite the draconian measures taken here by Papandreou to avoid bankruptcy).

  27. The blame everything on Labour mantra could prove to be a bit of a gamble as well, should a double dip occur.

  28. @ Colin

    “DC saying give it time-the private sector jobs will come-hoping the IDS initiative begins to do what everyone hopes it will do.”

    If DC’s in a rut by 2012 he’ll do what he always does when he gets into trouble – panic and start initiating populist measures. ‘Cos guess who, freshly unemployed after the disaster that will be the London Olympics, is going to be looking for a job? ;)

  29. AJ’s appointment may well appear an error to the ‘expert’ politicoes on this site, but for the overwhelming majority of the electorate who do not have their political acumen and esoteric knowledge, Aj strikes chords. Watch his stock rise. Who cares if he is treated with contumely by the cognoscenti, so long as he appeals to the passenger on the bus to Clapham?

  30. Listening to the comments from experts,the CBI & others.

    These cuts equate to about a half a percent of GDP a year,so the cuts cannot ’cause’ a double dip,not my opinion theirs.

    Slower growth yes,a double dip no,they are not big enough.

  31. Michael V,

    Blaming Labour is no longer an option. On the defence cuts today the blame narrowed the usual 24% blue lead to a lead of just 4%. If you read the very start of the thread Anthony explains it well. When cuts get specific, blame increases in its specificity.

    There was an alternative. Blues (and yellows) have chosen this path, to cry wolf simply on some 2007 125% Northern Rock Mortgage approval will not wash in 2015. Blues will be judged on the success or failure of the CSR.

  32. The Tory strategy reminds me of a Microsoft new software launch…….. roll it out, let the public tell you what the snags are, and put ’em right at leisure. Shrewd ploy.

  33. john C

    only if he loses that overcoat, saw a photo of him, he looked a bit del-boy, i guess that would make EM rodney

  34. @Eoin,

    There is a logic in “blaming” Labour for the general cuts but “blaming” the government for the specifics.

    After all, there are lots of ways to cut. It’s easy for the public to look at the things being cut and say “hmm, that’s not what I would have done, I would have cut something else” without actually having a clear, thought out idea of what they would have cut. It doesn’t mean they’ve stopped blaming Labour for the lack of money in the first place.

  35. richard

    you may be right when you say

    These cuts equate to about a half a percent of GDP a year,so the cuts cannot ’cause’ a double dip

    but there will be a double dip, and a triple dip, we are just at the beginning of this meltdown

  36. Eoin Clarke

    Blaming Labour is no longer an option.

    18 years in opposition for Labour proves you are wrong,during those 18 years the tories were lets be honest ‘hated’ for long periods.they still won when it mattered because voters blinked when they thought of voting Labour back into Government.

    Blair has mentioned many times,the only reason Labour got back into power in1997,was because they convinced voters they could be trusted with the economy.

    Just to remind you,

    German economy contracted more than the UK.

    German deficit at its highest 5%
    UK 12%

    Global recession yes,but some went in better prepared,not massive budget deficits to start with.

  37. I’ve taken a look at Sky and ITV and BBC news sites.

    Sky is ‘Poorest take biggest hit’ and
    ITV is ‘Spending Review Cuts’ which is more neutral but then sub-head with the ‘welfare and tax credit cuts
    BBC is ‘Osborne wields spending axe’ but then also emphasise welfare councils and police

    It strikes me that a negative head of steam is building and it will be down to individual reporter’s bias how it develops.

    If you think scroungers are to be hit, you will not be phased, on the contrary but then you will be already in the Con or orange booker lobby. But what of floaters?

  38. Reporters’ (shoots and leaves problem)

  39. Fifth attempt (moderation does not liek this one)

    Sorry Neil A, (and richard) – having your cake and eating it.

    That does not wash. It did yesterday. But you are, post CSR, now well into the job. There was a fork in the road an the public know it. Reds never clearly defined the alternative path but they did convince the voters that one existed (a bit like a hold up at a pharmacy with a toy fire arm if you ask me) but it was enough commit blue to path A and red to path B.

    A new era has been born. Blaming John Major for grime in politics, or blaming Gordon Brown for the unrealisitc growth after the dot. com bubble they are both as historic as each other.

    You have made your bed; the only choice now is to have the courage of your conviction and sleep in it.

  40. Eoin Clarke “Blaming Labour is no longer an option”

    I think that is “wishful thinking”. In terms of blame for specific cuts the impact of blaming Labour may well fall off. However in terms of voters view on Economic Competance, which is likely to be a key issue at the next GE, the Tories need to keep bashing away at Labour’s poor economic record.

  41. howard

    as i say to apathtic people i meet

    “if you don’t vote you’ll get screwed”

    but they always reply with

    “but we gonna get screwed anyway”

  42. Neil A, richard,

    I completely disagree but moderation won’t let me explain why. Sorry about that, I tried a few times. I think my oerused metaphors wind auto-mod up.

  43. Mike,

    You may think so but I suggest the polls will narrow considerably on economic competance. I look forward to finding out who is correct, which ever one of us it may be. Do continue to post.

  44. Richard
    I don’t see what your statistics about Germany have to do with the estimation of how well GO’s statement will go down with voters.

    I could say Germany has almost 8% unemployed but what would be the point?

  45. Anthony,

    Thanks for letting that through so quickly

  46. Funny really, Labour were still blaming Thatcher for stuff right up to the election campaign! But DC has to take full responsibility for everything bad about the country after five months.

    I suppose what I was saying is that poll numbers disagreeing with the specific cuts don’t necessarily indicate a shift in public mood, just a wriggling about cuts to their personal shibboleths.

    Personally I find the Tory conversion to “prison doesn’t work” quite mystifying. I can only understand it as a cop out – a cut masquerading as a more “enlightened” approach to policy. But my unease at cuts in the prisons budget don’t affect my overall agreement with the principle of eliminating the deficit. I’d just prefer that money to be cut elsewhere.

    Of course, if the prisons budget was cut by a 20% reduction in staff salaries and slimming down the admin costs, with the same number of cells as before, I’d be fine with it. Of course that won’t happen though.

  47. The older folk of today,in my case my parents,even though Labour voters when younger,were frightened to death of letting them anywhere near the economy after the 1970’s,this age group is the most likely to vote at a GE now 60 years and over.

    Now the twenty & thirty somethings like myself are now scared to let Labour near the economy.

    Labour does not make it easy for itself,it carries its economic record around like Jacob Marley carries that chain around in scrooge.

  48. Neil A,

    I must say the ‘mothballing’ (I learnt that word yesterday)… of defence and justice must be a blue rag to a bull. If GB ever tried to bring those cuts in, reds would have been finished.

  49. Neil A
    I can only understand it as a cop out

    Groan :-)

  50. Labour will never get rid of the mantle of Economic incompetence because it’s true…..it’s their’s forever and will constantly haunt them.

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