This morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 12%. The four point Labour lead is lower than YouGov’s recent average, but well within the normal margin of error.
Today’s poll also had YouGov’s regular bank of tracker questions on the government’s cuts and these produced one striking figure. For the last couple of years public opinion on the cuts has been pretty steady. On balance people think the cuts are bad for the economy, they think they are unfair, many people think they are too fast or too deep… yet people think they are necessary. In short, people don’t like the medicine, they think it may be making things worse, but they don’t see any alternative to taking it.
However in the latest figures people were evenly split on whether the cuts are good or bad for the economy. 41% think they are bad for the economy, 41% think they are good for the economy. As ever, one should not read too much into a single poll, but this finding does reflect an ongoing trend. Over recent weeks and months public opinion has been moving in favour of the cuts.
Below is the tracker data on if people think the cuts are good or bad for the economy. They turned against them very early in the Parliament, at the tail end of 2010. Opinion got even more negative after the 2012 “omnishambles” budget, but since late in 2012 the trend has been moving in favour of the cuts, eventually reaching towards figures where opinion is evenly balanced.
Looking at whether the cuts are fair or unfair we have a different balance of opinion, but the same pattern of change. An overall majority of the public still think that the spending cuts are being carried out in an unfair way, but it bottomed out after the 2012 budget and since then there has been a slight movement away from “unfair”.
On whether the cuts are too deep, you can see the same pattern. By the time YouGov started this tracker in early 2011 public opinion had already decided that the cuts were too deep. Having moved in a bit it spikes back towards too deep after the 2012 budget, since then opinion has been moving towards the cuts being about right or too shallow (I’ve put about right and too shallow together in the graph – in the latest figures it’s 27% about right, 16% too shallow). I haven’t graphed the figures for whether people think the cuts are too fast, but they are very similar to those for “too deep”.
Finally here are the figures for whether people think the cuts are necessary. There isn’t really the same trend here – there’s a little bump after the 2012 budget, but broadly speaking the proportion of people who think the cuts are necessary has remained stable throughout the Parliament. However unfair or too deep or economically damaging they were seen to be, people have consistently thought the cuts were necessary. In some ways it will be interesting watching this question as we go forward – it’s possible that increasing economic confidence will make people think that cuts are working and, therefore, that it’s necessary to continue with them. Alternatively, people might think that if the economy is on the rise it is no longer necessary to continue with cuts. We shall see.