Time for a round up of YouGov’s regular cuts trackers. While they’d been pushed aside by other issues over the last few days (perhaps why the Labour lead has shrunk a bit), the cuts remain the defining feature in the current political landscape.

The first point to make is that the criticisms of the cuts have largely struck home. In terms of whether they are fair a solid majority now percieve the cuts as unfair. The government’s initial battle to try and portray their cuts as being done in a fair matter seems to have been lost. Immediately after the emergency budget in June 45% thought the cuts were being done fairly. In this week’s poll 62% thought they were being done unfairly. This includes 25% of Conservative supporters and over half (53%) of remaining* Liberal Democrat voters.

Too fast and too deep. 50% of people now think the cuts are too deep, compared to only 27% who think they are about right (6% would prefer even deeper cuts). 58% think they are being done too quickly, compared to 26% who think the speed is about right (and 5% who think they should be even faster). Again, these doubts are not confined to opposition supporters – amongst Conservatives 20% think the cuts are too deep, 23% too quick. Amongst Liberal Democrat supporters 39% think they are too deep, 50% too fast.

Perhaps most damaging is the growing perception that the cuts are not even good for the economy. Only 34% of people think they are good for the economy, with a majority 51%, thinking they are bad. This is a relatively recent change. By last Autumn people were tending to think the cuts were unfair, but did at least think they were for the good of the economy. Only from January has public opinion swung towards the position that the cuts are bad for the economy.

BUT – despite the perception that the cuts are unfair, too fast, too deep and not good for the economy, there is some good news for the government too. First a majority of the public continue to think that they are required. 55% of people think the cuts are necessary, with only 33% saying they are unnecessary. While between a fifth and a quarter of the Conservative party’s own supporters have doubts about the fairness, speed or depth of cuts, they are almost universal in thinking they are necessary. Lib Dem supporters think the cuts are necessary by 71% to 18%.

While the proportion of people blaming the government for the cuts is growing, there is also still a substantial body of opinion that puts more blame on Labour than the Conservatives for the cuts. In the latest poll 25% of people blamed the coalition most for the cuts, 41% the last Labour government with 24% blaming them both. Adding those who blame one party more to those who blame them both, this means that in total 49% blame the coalition, but 66% blame Labour.

Taking a longer term view this suggests that while the proportion of people blaming the coalition for the cuts has grown steadily since the election (from 36% in June, to around 42% in September to around 49% now), there has not been any corresponding drop in the proportion of people thinking that it is also Labour’s fault. In June 2010 67% blamed Labour, by September it was around 65-66%, the latest results are 65%. The government may not be stopping a growing proportion of people blaming them, but do seem to be making sure that Labour continue to share the blame.

Finally, despite people seeming to agree with Labour’s criticisms of the cuts as being too unfair, too fast and too deep it doesn’t mean they would necessarily trust Labour more on the issue. Asked who they would trust to make the right decisions on the deficit, 38% trust the coalition more, compared to 29% who would trust Labour more. 22% don’t trust either.

In summary, it would seem people dislike the medicine in many different ways and aren’t sure it’s good for us… but equally they still think it’s necessary to take it and would trust the present government more to deliver it than the alternative.


43 Responses to “Tracking opinion on the cuts”

  1. The Great UK public are hedging their bets. If Georgie pulls this off they’ll be able to say “We supported the cuts” if he fails they’ll say “we told you he was cutting too fast too soon to no benefit and unfairly”.

    Their ambivalence is in part caused by Ed/Ed/Alan J/Al Darling’s ambivalence.

    Most red supporters struggle to define their critique of GO’s cuts coherently. They say “we’d cut, but we wouldn’t cut like that” Upon asked how they would cut they reply “How can we say if we didn’t have a spending review”

    And so the merry-go-round continues…

    In effect, until blues are exposed as correct or incorrect the jury will be out on Labour partly to their own woolliness…. All that rambling can best be concluded by the following, if GO pulls this off he’s home and dry.. if he doesn’t the election is going to be very very close. Some might even take the view that if he blows it, then electoral victory will be reds…

    The public are confused for good reason.. the politicians particularly reds are being evasive.

  2. Although it’s important, I really don’t think the economy is going to be the key issue in a 2015 election. Unless a miracle happens and Lansley’s fragmentation policy works, the destruction of the NHS will dwarf everything else.

  3. Asked who they would trust to make the right decisions on the deficit, 38% trust the coalition more, compared to 29% who would trust Labour more. 22% don’t trust either.
    ————————————————————–
    Interestingly, given the above, Ed Balls was a whisker ahead of George Osborne in the YG Sunday times poll (unless I’m mistaken).

    Ed B Confidence +31 Little/ No Confidence -54 DK 15
    GO Confidence +31 Little/ No Confidence -56 DK 12

    Anthony didn’t mention this ‘cos he absolutely knew I would & didn’t want to rob me of the pleasure. ;-)

  4. @ Robin

    You wrote: “I really don’t think the economy is going to be the key issue in a 2015 election.”

    If you are right, it will be the first such election in human history to be so! (since the introduction of a universal franchise I mean)

  5. I guess if the NHS is fine (or even more efficiently run) in 4 years time, Robin will be the first to stand up, say “I was wrong”, and vote Tory…

  6. As Anthony would say “can’t be @rsed to check” previous polls, but their is a divergence between the North of England and Scotland (the “Labour heartlands”) on some of these questions.

    Labour deserved to lose?
    Ans, N.Eng, Sco
    Yes, 50%_, 48%
    No_, 42%_, 42%

    Tory deserved to win?
    Ans, N.Eng, Sco
    Yes, 33%_, 20%
    No_, 59%_, 66%

    Better if Labour still in power?
    Ans, N.Eng, Sco
    Yes, 44%_, 38%
    No_, 32%_, 33%

    Most trusted to deal with the deficit?
    Ans, N.Eng, Sco
    C/D, 32%_, 30%
    Lab, 37%_, 31%

    Perhaps some indications there that Scots are beginning to look at Westminster issues through the Holyrood prism, rather than Holyrood issues through the Westminster prism, as in the 2nd half of last year.

  7. Government U-turns are normally a good sign -showing they are willing to listen and change their minds when people complain or situations change.

    Overall 42% agreed with the above. This included 67% of Conservatives. “U-Turn if you want to…” :-)

  8. The Information is quite remarkable. It doesn’t look great for the Coalition though because the indicators are slowly moving in labour’s direction even if the most important two are still solid against Labour.

    I imagine the quarter growth figures are the big thing, especially for shifting the idea that the cuts are good for the economy. If the GDP figures are revised up and the next quarter shows growth, avoiding a double-dip, we may see a movement on this measure back to the Coalition, and an improvement in their poll figures.

    I imagine if this happens it would firm the Conservatives up relative to labour, but may not help the Lib Dems so much. I get the impression that the Lib Dems lost voters have left over ’emotional’ issues. They don’t like the feel of what the Coalition is doing on principle. Conservative voters are okay with the plan, otherwise they wouldn’t have voted Conservative, they’ll only leave if it looks like the plan isn’t working.

    So if information changes and it looks like the plan is working again, their vote will firm up, but the Lib Dems may not benefit that much. Of course if the plan doesn’t work, and we go into a double dip, then both parties will be screwed, and we’ll be seeing 15pt labour leads by Summer.

  9. Very well argued Stephen W.
    If there is nothing in it for the LDs, even if things go well, it makes me worry a bit what will have to be on offer to keep the whole LD parliamentary party on board if they lose the AV referendum?
    What will voters do if they are made to realise the government may fall if they vote NO. (I realise Clegg has said it won’t – but his control over his parliamentary party over student fees isn’t an encouraging sign – especially for LD MPs facing the abyss with no prospect of “rewards”!)

  10. @Alan

    “I guess if the NHS is fine (or even more efficiently run) in 4 years time, Robin will be the first to stand up, say “I was wrong”, and vote Tory…”

    If the NHS is fine I’ll (a) eat my hat; and (b) acknowledge that it won’t be so much of an electoral issue, in which case #1 issue will revert to the economy.

  11. @AW

    Is there any particular reason the widget is still showing the SunTimes poll, not yesterday’s?

    [Not sure – I have nothing to do with updating it and wouldn’t actually know how to do it! Might be technical problem, or might just have been someone forgetting to do it – AW]

  12. Tony Dean

    I think Stephen W’s point was more about the short term boost the Tories might capture back if next quarters economy figures are good.

    I’m not so sure that this short term “boost” is really that important to the Tories, whether 6% behind in the polls or 3% behind they aren’t going to be rushing to the ballot box.

    I think where the Lib Dems can gain is in the longer term (if the economy picks up, the deficit is under control and prospects look good) if they can show that;

    1) The coalition was good for the country.
    2) They had a moderating effect on the conservatives (things like the raising of the taxation threshold was clearly one of the larger things the LDs were pushing for).

    If they can manage these two things, I don’t think the LDs will do too badly in the next election.

    They need to get the argument shifted from party politics to policy politics in the debates leading up to the next election.

    I think one thing is for certain, in a future hung parliament, Labour can’t take the Lib Dems for granted.

    I think that is where a lot of hatred from the red camp is generated from, the overall assumption that the LDs were as fervently anti-tory as your “gang”. In the end they played both sides and got what they could policy wise from the coalition.

  13. Sun/YouGov poll tonight: – No 41%, Yes 34%.

    If that’s a reaction to the speeches by DC & NC it looks like a win for DC.

  14. @Tony Dean – “… the government may fall if they vote NO.”

    LDs should be ready to say something like this: We cannot support the Conservative “Maoist Revolution”… they have no ‘mandate’ for the wholesale privatisation of public services, therefore we need a general election.

  15. @Alan

    “They had a moderating effect on the conservatives (things like the raising of the taxation threshold was clearly one of the larger things the LDs were pushing for).”

    Read this and tell me that there has been any “moderating” effect.

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/21/nhs-turmoil-tory-ideology-run-wild

    Really, really scary. One can only hope that the LDs have the balls to pull the plug in time.

  16. Amber – the answers to the U-turn question amused me. Tories and Lib Dems tended to think they were OK, Labour supporters tended to think they reflected badly on the government. If you’d asked the question a couple of years back when the government happened to be a Labour one I bet you’d have got the opposite party breaks.

    Goes to show how people’s views of government’s actions tend to become rather more charitable when it’s a party they support (and rather more critical when it’s the other side).

  17. Alan
    “I guess if the NHS is fine (or even more efficiently run) in 4 years time, Robin will be the first to stand up, say “I was wrong”, and vote Tory…”

    I don’t think so. I am sure of whatever the state of the NHS there will be some on the left who will say it is worse.

    Perhaps your challenge should have been ‘If the polls show that the majority of the electorate believe that the NHS is fine…’

    The key to the result of the next GE will be whether an improved financial situation allows long overdue tax cuts for the middle and lower middle earners. If it does the Tories and perhaps Lib Dems are home and dry.

  18. Lower paid and middle income earners don’t want tax cuts. They want good services, good schools and opportunties to better themselves and their families.

    The tax cut thing died with Thatcher’s government. Nobody except the rich want them.

  19. Nick – Any evidence to cite?

    It’s a polling blog, and polls have certainly asked if people would like tax cuts (and indeed, how people think the balance should fall between tax cuts and public spending)

  20. ‘Taking a longer term view this suggests that …the proportion of people blaming the coalition for the cuts has grown steadily since the election ‘ AW

    Given the cliche that a week is along time in politics this is not surprising and will only develop. And why ideas not even originally supported- communities do things as we have cut paying for them- will also not be accepted.

  21. December 2009 c.30% preferred tax rises to tax cuts versus about 40% I think so about -10%.. that declined just before the budget of 2010, but then it would wouldn’t it?

  22. Those two poll were YouGov

  23. Eoin – that’s better. Unfortunately they probably don’t have cross breaks by income, but even cross breaks by social class suggest there is not a sharp as contrast as some might expect.

    (And that’s before you get to individual tax cuts – not all tax cuts are equal – some would be more popular than others. Council tax is rampantly unpopular for example)

  24. Anthony

    “Council tax is rampantly unpopular for example”

    My side spotted that some years ago! :-)

  25. OldNat

    “Perhaps some indications there that Scots are beginning to look at Westminster issues through the Holyrood prism, rather than Holyrood issues through the Westminster prism, as in the 2nd half of last year.”

    The dfference was certainly there before the election. A huge majority reckoned that Labour was “tired and failing” but within that group about 19%, of the whole were expecting to vote for Labour.

    Not that I ever heard Labour candidates claiming “Vote for us, we’re tired and failing, but you’ll like that much better than the other lot.” but there is segment of Scottish opinion that does not identify with any party, but knows that it doesn’t want anything to do with the Conservatives.

  26. re blaming Labour for the cuts! If there was a third option of the banks – i’m sure Labour would be a distant third in who is to blame.

    Wonder why it is just a Labour/coalition worded cuts question????

  27. @ Anthony

    I was amused by the U-turn response for the same reason. I’d bet Labour supporters were quite happy about handbrake turns when [New] Labour were at the wheel.
    8-)

  28. AW

    The elections from 1997 until the crash.

  29. @ Old Nat

    “Council tax is rampantly unpopular for example”

    My side spotted that some years ago!
    —————————————–
    But Scotland still has council tax despite the SNP’s stated preference for a local income tax. What’s holding you back?
    8-)

  30. It’s still quite good for the Conservatives when you delve into the sub questions.
    But the voting figures themselves are now sagging, and there is a danger that Labour could get a lot more votes (from abstentions or Lib Dems) without particularly winning the economic arguments against the Conservatives, but by just getting people who don’t like the cuts.

    I have a feeling there will be quite a long grind of 2 – 3 years, but it will come right for the government in the last year or so.

  31. Alan
    “I think one thing is for certain, in a future hung parliament, Labour can’t take the Lib Dems for granted.”

    Nor can the Cons, I suggest.

  32. Doesn’t anybody find it amazing that despite the TINA narrative, political consensus from the major parties and the overwhelming media propaganda (questions usually prefaced with ‘we all accept these cuts are necessary’), 33% of people believe they’re not necessary at all. Restores your faith in humanity.

  33. @Alan.

    I wouldn’t say that the short term boost is that important. They still have a lot of time to go down and come back up in the opinion polls before any election.

    But I think it’s always better to not have to make that big a climb-up. It’s always better to be up rather than down at any point in the cycle.

    Also, I was just thinking about it in terms of what’s driving the polls and where they might go over the next few months.

  34. If anyone here has been watching the oil price like I have, they should have noted that it has, for want of better terminology, “shot up” from just over 100$/barrel up to $110 this week alone, thanks to the disturbances in the Arab world. If GO is designing a fuel-price regulator, it’s going to have to be a really good one to deal with this sort of thing. Or else do we accept really big swings are beyond any such regulation? Forecourt prices are going to go beyond the point of just grumbling about them, and that point can’t be far off.

    It’s bringing interest rate increases closer, too.

  35. @Robin
    Read the fuardian article, just the usual drivel from Toynbee.
    @Davey
    Bang on post, that is exactly how the next election will be won!

  36. The ambivalence in the current polls is not in the least surprising – a decline in Conservative support but acceptance of the need for cuts. It is no difference to the reaction towards a doctor who prescribes an unpleasant and painful course of treatment – you are unlikely to thank him for it, but if he cures you, attitudes would change completely. However ……

  37. Nick Poole

    ‘Lower paid and middle income earners don’t want tax cuts. They want good services, good schools and opportunties to better themselves and their families.

    The tax cut thing died with Thatcher’s government. Nobody except the rich want them.’

    There have a been many tax rises since Thatcher, and although I would accept that the very rich seem to be immune, the lower/middle income have been hit hard, with little chance to better themselves.

    In fact I think it could be said the rich have never had so good over the past 13 years. Not surprising that footballers wives, celebrities and motor racing supremos queue up to back labour.

    Alot of ordinary people have lost out through hikes in Pensions tax, Council Tax, Small business Corporation tax, Stamp duty, NI hikes, loss of married persons allowance, loss of mortgage tax relief, to name a tiny part of the cost of a tax and spend regime.

    Obviously it does not apply to everyone, both non-workers and the rich have done well and have no reason to shift away from Labour.

    I do not think their will be much political gain in making tax cuts while the current cutback to address overspend continues. However, if the UK current weakness in national Debt, where we are bottom of the league, is addressed then those who have been asked to contribute most, namely the middle and lower incomes may expect some reward.

    Education x 3 is important and obviously the fact that the UK is in free fall against other nations in most subjects must be addressed and hopefully will be by the coalition.

  38. Davey

    Education x 3 is important and obviously the fact that the UK is in free fall against other nations in most subjects must be addressed and hopefully will be by the coalition.

    True. The coalition face an enormous job, in that not only do they need to pay back an enormous debt, but also need to reform education, NHS, the police and local Councils.

    There is unlikely to be an opportunity for tax cuts to the deserving in the short/medium term, although without these it is difficult to see how the coalition will win another term.

  39. Doug

    Doesn’t anybody find it amazing that despite the TINA narrative, political consensus from the major parties and the overwhelming media propaganda (questions usually prefaced with ‘we all accept these cuts are necessary’), 33% of people believe they’re not necessary at all. Restores your faith in humanity.

    If we had no debt yes. But given the fact that the UK is the worst debtor in the world as per GDP, I find it disturbing that 33% believe EB when he says there is no need for cuts or pay back what we owe. At least it appears 2/3 rds of us understand the need to pay our way.

  40. Davey, the debt is nowhere near the levels it reached in the late 1940s and in economic terms isn’t as significant as certain people make out. c/w places like Greece and Ireland (Ireland staggeringly being Osborne’s role model to follow). It is being deliberately exaggerated to provide cover for the real agenda, the destruction of the welfare state. It’s all there, the endless propaganda about beneift cheats whilst the vastly greater problem of tax avoidance goes unchallenged. The poor and vulnerable are paying a grotesquely disproportionate amount in benefit cuts, job losses and services decimation – the distribution of the cuts between different local councils is shamelessly blatant.

    Save money? How about taxing the wealthy more, increasing corporation tax, nationalising the banks (properly this time), closing loopholes that let the rich avoid hundreds of billions in tax, stop taking part in illegal wars, stop dismantling the NHS for the benefit of private health company vultures, stop PFI schemes and end involvement in illegal wars. How’s that for starters?

  41. Doug

    Save money? How about taxing the wealthy more, increasing corporation tax, nationalising the banks (properly this time), closing loopholes that let the rich avoid hundreds of billions in tax, stop taking part in illegal wars, stop dismantling the NHS for the benefit of private health company vultures, stop PFI schemes and end involvement in illegal wars. How’s that for starters

    Some pretty good points, in particular that associated with taxing the rich and ending illegal wars. We have already nationalised two major banks and still allow them to pay vast sums to their undeserving employees. In fact RBS made a billion loss which would not have been a loss if they had not paid bonuses.

    I do not think that the NHS is being dismantled and expenditure on this has been ringfenced. However PFI has been very costly to the british taxpayer.

    I think if the rich, those earning 10 or 100 times what middle and lower taxpayers earn were properly taxed and loopholes closed and as you say they stopped illegally invading countries we could afford to reward the hardworking middle and lower earners.

    One major difference between old and new labour is that old labour taxed the rich until their pips squeaked 98%tax at one time), while allowing the middle and lower earners to keep most of their money. New Labour has done the opposite. Also Old Labour wasn’t keen on illegal wars.

    We do not agree on the national debt. I suggest the economist provides all the evidence needed to show how badly placed we are; in addition we are just not paying our way with massive balance of payment deficit.

    However, it is my view that the party who can offer a fair deal to the workers of the country, namely those on middle and lower incomes, will be rewarded at the polls.

  42. Labour will be very happy to have another double-digit lead from MORI, but there’s also good news for the yellows here.

    If you average Lib Dem ratings from the most recent YouGov, ICM and MORI polls, you get a mildly encouraging figure of 14%.

    I think it’s a mistake to assume that, because YouGov provide five polls a week, they are necessarily the most accurate pollster.

    The MORI results on AV look very good for Yes, but the polling on this does seem to be all over the place, so I’m not going to count my chickens…