This morning’s Sun had YouGov’s first post-budget polling. General voting intention stood at CON 32%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 10% so no obvious impact there.

On the budget itself most of the actual individual measures were widely supported. The increase in the personal allowance and cancelling the rise in fuel duty were by far the most widely supported (89% and 85% supported them). The cut in employers national insurance, interest free loans to help people buying new build houses and the cut in beer duty were all supported by more than half of respondents. Least popular were the revenue raising changes of course, but even then they weren’t very unpopular – the end of contracting out of NI was opposed by 38% to 31%, limiting public sector pay for another year was actually supported by 45% to 41%.

However, budgets are far more than the sum of their parts – there have been cases in the past when polls showed people liked most of the individual measures in a budget, but overall still gave it the thumbs down. It is the whole package that counts.

In this case, there appears to be a cautious thumbs up: 39% thought it was a fair budget, 31% thought it was unfair, a big improvement on last year’s budget which 48% thought was unfair (and that was even before most of the pasty tax coverage!). However, while people support the individual measures and think the budget was fair… they still aren’t convinced it is going to do any good. Only 14% think it leaves the country better off, compared to 52% who think it will make no real difference and 24% who think the country will be worse off.

Neither has it helped George Osborne’s own ratings – only 22% think he is doing a good job, down from 24% at the end of last year and 28% at the last budget. He is still preferred to Ed Balls though – 31% think Osborne would make the better Chancellor, 25% Balls.

210 Responses to “YouGov/Sun post-budget poll”

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  1. Fitch’s have just put UK on watch for an April downgrade.

    Not entirely unexpected, but again, another demonstration that all Osborne once held dear has come to naught.

  2. @Couper 2802

    “Some one charismatic and convincing.”

    As opposed to someone who can manage the finances better than the last guy?

  3. Anthony,

    There is a pre spring conference poll on the Scottish government mentioned here;

    You might have missed it if you didn’t get your copy of the Stornoway Gazette this week.

    I had a look on the Ipsos Scotland site but it doesn’t seem to be there.

    It has approval of the Scottish Government at 53%. In your dreams Dave and Nick!!!


  4. Given the stories about a potential gas shortage, I’m hoping Francis Maude has learned his lesson and doesn’t suggest we all get some spare gas in a carrier bag or two in the garage.

  5. Regarding the poll on the Budget, I suspect we need a few more days before one could conclude that glasses are being raised in appreciation, not at a 0.3 percent saving on the contents of the glass anyway!

    I think the government will be very satisfied at initial reaction.

  6. JIM JAM

    @”Colin my money is on this one whoever gets in next time.
    ” or the date at which we reach fiscal balance will be pushed further out’”

    Yes-that too probably.

    Our Public Finances are really in a dreadful state.

  7. ‘I wonder if all those increases in the Tax Free band at lower income levels through this parliament will just lead to a higher basic rate of IT ?’

    I have always thought it a bit strange that at a time of austerity the Coalition has given such a high priority to reducing Income Tax via higher Personal Allowances. The LibDems have more to answer for here than the Tories . Surely it would have been much more sensible in the circumstances to have simply adhered to Rooker – Wise changes with smaller offsetting cuts in public spending.
    More generally, until the 1980s Budgets were just as likely to raise the rate of Income Tax as to reduce it though I believe we now have to go back to Denis Healey in the 1970s to find such an example.. It does seem a little ridiculous that throughout such an extended period changes in Income Tax rates – other than the higher rate – have all been in one direction regardless of the economic circumstances. It must have had the effect of limiting policy options. Why has it become such a sacred cow – under all governments?

  8. “he UK’s creditworthiness continues to be underpinned by its high-income, diversified and flexible economy – underscored by the rise in employment despite the tepid economic recovery – and the authorities’ commitment to deficit reduction. The independent monetary policy framework, as well as sterling’s reserve currency status, and the long average life of government debt are further rating strengths.”

    Fitch Ratings

  9. Crashing of gears from Clegg on immigration.

    Mandelson tired of “predictable” Balls.

  10. JIM JAM-the risks of forever “taking longer”:-

    “the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that indicate that UK government debt will peak later and at a higher level than previously expected by Fitch. General government gross debt (GGGD) and public sector net debt are forecast by the OBR to peak in 2016-17 at 100.8% and 85.6% of GDP and only begin to decline in 2017-18. Fitch has previously stated that GGGD failing to stabilise below 100% of GDP and on a firm downward path towards 90% over the medium term would likely result in a downgrade of the UK’s sovereign ratings.”

    Fitch Ratings.


    Sorry Statgeek at election timebeing charasmatic and convincing matters more than being right. But of course incidentaly it seems Darling was right about Austerity (although I wouldn’t say he has all that much charisma)

  12. Coupler,
    Regarding Ed Balls.I think that that this a problem.It is easy for the Tories to
    Blame him for the deficit as this fits their mantra of everything being GBs fault
    And there is no doubt that he was very close to GB.However there is also no doubt
    That he knows his stuff and has been proved right economically since 2010.
    Personally I have warmed to him recently, I cannot quite define why.It seems to me that he and EM make quite a good team.If anyone should be got rid of it
    Is Liam Byrne,IMHO!

  13. Apparently ‘Treasury mandarins’ are flying out to Cyprus to help them find a solution.

    All they need to do and you don’t need a mandarin, is to ‘find the bluddy munny’.

    Apologies for attempt at Michael Caine delivery.

    Why do we get involved in matters of no concern to us (at least if our PM is to be believed ‘this is a matter for the EZ’)?

  14. @Carfrew

    “………..a Mansion Tax escalator. ..”

    I like it! – bring it on!!!!! Start point = properties valued over £500,000…..really ramp it up year on year…..till we end up with Danish levels of “gini” as in The Spirit Level proposals AND raise some useful dosh to pay off the defecit. Now that’s what I call “All in it together!”

    But would the two Eds dare to go for this in power? Nope – it will be timid tinkering as usual I suspect……
    I wonder if something bold for once might strike a chord with the voters, even if the press go nuts!?

  15. Tony
    When I lived in NL I paid ‘wealth tax’ in one year. When in the following year, my wealth dived, strangely enough, no offset was allowed. Not only that but I never actually saw the wealth in cash, because the ‘wealth’ was an assessed value of my shares in a private unquoted company.

    The Dutch Inland Revenue got its cash from us though.

    Still feeling a bit sore about that. :-(

  16. AinW

    Byrne is indeed, dreadful.


    I have nothing against Ed Balls either BUT the polling evidence is terrible – lower than GO. I don’t think it is possible for EB to turn this around before the election. The election will be very focused on the economy and the shadow chancellor. I think EB will have to fall on his sword for the good of the party.

  18. Is Ed balls doing that badly for a shadow chancellor? What are the comparable figures for GO v GB or GO v Darling when GO was shadow?
    Is a shadow anything ever taken as seriously by the voters as the real thing? Is it not a case of “The job maketh the man” in the eyes of the electorate?

  19. Colin
    ““he UK’s creditworthiness continues to be underpinned by its high-income, diversified and flexible economy – underscored by the rise in employment despite the tepid economic recovery – and the authorities’ commitment to deficit reduction. The independent monetary policy framework, as well as sterling’s reserve currency status, and the long average life of government debt are further rating strengths.”

    Fitch Ratings

    In other words, Fitch gives huge tick for Labour’s policy of labour market flexibility, independence of decision making in monetary policy and debt re-financing strategy.

    So, whose fault is it going to be when they downgrade us?

  20. Colin – yes the risk of extending the turning point and the debt/gdp peak level is higher interest rates but not sure frankly how much credibility the rating agencies have left.

    I do note their other remark – ”and the long average life of government debt are further rating strengths”

    This was always a strength imo which is why the ‘Like Greece’ stuff from GO and NC was way overplayed in 2010 and unneccessarily dented confidence too much.

    As you know my partial understanding of Econimics means I think the debt interest/GDP is a more crucial figure and if this started to rise significantly could become a worry.

    The length of the debt must be part of this judgement.

  21. @Colin

    And the credibility of ratings agencies is what exactly?

  22. @Colin

    A supplementary. Are the Fitch ratings solely based on the likelihood of keeping up with interest payments on the gilts, or broader than that? Because the chance the UK will not be able to do so is zero.

  23. @Ann in Wales I like Ed Balls. I think he is a very clever man who knows a lot about economics. I would much rather he was in charge of the economy than GO. But for all that and for all the open goals that seem open to him, I personally don’t find that he puts across his case well. I don’t understand why I feel this but it looks as if quite a number of others feel likewise.

  24. AinW and PC
    What;s wrong with Byrne then?

  25. Tony Dean,
    I feel that you may well be right.How popular was Alistair Darling as Chancellor?Not very if I remember rightly.Now in retrospect he is viewed more

  26. Gosh, all this intuition (about Balls and Byrne). If only it was representative of the electorate, what a find!

  27. And now ‘he’s a lumberjack and he’s OK’ about Darling.

    Any more for any more!

  28. I don’t like DA, he’s far too ginger.

    You on the pink side

    ‘Who’s DA, I thought he was a swimmer’s behind’ (to avoid W*rdpr*ss).

  29. @HOWARD

    We are actually looking at the polling showing EB more unpopular than GO and has been for a few years.

    Does Labour need a popular shadow chancellor to win? Personally I think EB is fine but looking at polling I think it is too risky to Labour’s chances of an OM for EB to be shadow chancellor at the GE. I wonder if Labour strategists are thinking this as well.

  30. I think Ed Balls will come across as a lot more convincing when Labour can actually lay out their stall in detail. I also think he needs to be bolder. A good chunk of the electorate are ready for a good tipping of the balance to get the top 5 deciles to really pay up towards being “All in this together”. They might squeal and even scream through the mouthpiece of their press, but Ed B could give some real meatiness to the clear blue water between him and GO on who bears the fiscal pain of digging us out of the hole we are in. What voters seem to really dislike is effete metropolitan leftyness – not swinging taxes on the “richest 50% of the nation” IMO – my fear is that Balls will fail to motivate “his” half of the electorate by falling into the trap of fearing the press and being too timid.
    I may be doing him a disservice, But, we shall have to wait and see?

  31. It’s all a matter of timing. Why should the two Ed’s use up all their political ammunition now, when there’s no election for to benefit.

    Yes, this is keeping their current popularity ratings down, because they’re not grabbing policy headlines. But we see what happens to GO and DC when they ‘grab’ a headline today, and it turns on them tomorrow.

    No matter how many opponents say that they ‘have’ to do such-and-such, the two Eds are not going to be forced into hasty public blunders. And I don’t see Ed Balls being forced out because of “the Labour party fretting about their chances” with polling leads as they are.

  32. I’m afraind the polling looks as though 2 Ed’s are indeed not better than 1, and 1 is not better than none.

    I think Labour can still win in 2015 with Balls, the saying “It’s The Economy Stupid” isn’t quite accurate, the result is down to a large, more than 50% part based on the economy, but it’s not 100% down to the economy.

    As we saw in the US last year, Obama was able to win re-election despite Romney being favoured on the economy and jobs.

    I think Labour will win in 2015 despite Balls, not because of him.

    They really need to break out their top talent, people like Alan Johnson and Alistar Darling, I think with a dream ticket of these two they could be hitting the 50’s especially compared to the current disaster in government.

    But Labour please, keep Emily Thornburry off of my tv, every time I’m convinced I’ll probably vote for Labour in 2015, I see her smug face and it sends me back to the undecided middle.

  33. Peter

    The Ipsos-MORI poll is here.

    YouGov also have a poll on Macbethian issues.

    “The poll found that 52% of respondents thought that the Scottish Government should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland – including oil and gas tax revenue, with 35% supporting Westminster control.

    A separate question found 53% thought that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland, with 34% backing UK Government control.”

  34. Oldnat

    So the majority of Scots want independence in all but name, it’s only sentiment that stops them going all the way? Your just a big bunch of softies, ain’t youse

  35. Ed balls should do a pop video, something along the lines of….I stutter and look rough but at least I can count to 10 unlike Osborne. That’s a bit crude but with a bit more subtlety it would be a smash hit. Because really his problems are presentational, he needs to to make fun of that part of him and then emphasize his smarts

  36. @ Richard iN

    Re fractional banking and gold standard.

    The Peel Act of 1847 tied the bank note issuance to gold indeed (not quite, because the already existing money in circulation deriving from state debt didn’t have to be covered). The quantity of gold was largely a function of the British trade with India (and later also with the US). Some of the recessions in the second half of the 19th century were triggered by the gold standard (it was essentially a conflict between the interest of the City and the industry) and was regularly suspended to ease the recession – essentially allowing printing money and fractional banking. Also in the period bill of exchanges were used more extensively than today and these allowed the artificial creation of money too (refinancing existing bills – sometimes inevitably: if the shipping of cotton took longer than the maximum time allowed for a bill of exchange, it had to be refinanced. It was in effect printing money. The difference is that it didn’t have to be wiped out through inflation if the transaction behind it failed, but was written off).

    Internationally the gold standard operated until its assumed safety mechanisms had not been needed. Once these were needed (1928-1930) they didn’t (primarily because the business cycles of the US, UK, France and Germany became synchronous.

    Capitalism needs the credit system and the credit system always drives the economy beyond its limits ending up in crises. For practical purposes, all money in the circulation is either from credit or printing by the state – and it has been the norm for 150 years.

  37. @Laszlo

    “Capitalism needs the credit system and the credit system always drives the economy beyond its limits ending up in crises. For practical purposes, all money in the circulation is either from credit or printing by the state – and it has been the norm for 150 years.”

    A very good point. So the money has been artificially created (via a debt instrument or QE).

    Taking it a step further, it just proves how artificial the economy really is. The government have to use benefits (finance dvia debt.instruments) to subsidise employers’ low wages. Without this, the cost of living would be exposed as unsustainable.

  38. DaveM/Howard

    It’s worth pointing out that the missing result from the English Elections website – The Stours ward of North Dorset – was that recent rarity a Conservative win according the Council website:

    They retained what was clearly an ultra-safe seat with 80% of the vote against just a Labour candidate. But as Howard suspected this was only a 17% turnout – the Lib Dem gain on the same council had 27%. So a lot of what may be happening is Conservative voters staying away – whether that will be repeated in more significant elections is the question. It’s also interesting that the Lib Dems didn’t bother to fight the seat (they were the only opposition in 2011) – their activists may not be quite as dispirited as recently, but they may still be thinner on the ground.

    Elsewhere the UKIP win in the Gooshays ward of Havering might not be quite the breakthrough it might look. This is partly because Havering politics have always been weird, but more because this was a ward where the BNP had a councillor recently and so there were a lot of votes to pick up there (they still got 9.5% in their current disintegrating state). I suspect it’s one of those Havering wards where Lib Dems don’t stand in favour of the Residents.

    It’s white working class metropolitan Essex (basically Harold Hill), so whether the Tories were wise to put up a candidate called Marcus Llewellyn-Rothschild is a moot point. If the name of the victor sounds familiar, it’s because he was their candidate for London Mayor.

  39. Howard
    “What;s wrong with Byrne then?”
    He’s on the illiberal Blairite side of the Labour party – he’s the one who floated the immigrant ‘bond’ idea that Clegg is now proposing [1].
    If Labour seek to keep the ex-Lib voter, having people like Byrne at the front of the party isn’t a wise decision.

    If they’re expecting the ex-Libs to ‘go home’ and are after Tory voters, he’s probably the wise choice to keep there.
    Of course – going after Tory voters probably isn’t the wisest move, given that Ed Miliband is seen by the public as being on the left and the Con>Lab movement is extremely small (i.e without the ex-Lib vote, Labour would be in the low-30s).

    [1] I find this one interesting – this is a policy that the LibDems rubbished as ‘illiberal’ when Labour proposed it, it’s clearly extremely unpopular with his party grassroots and with politicians like Cable (who recently rubbished immigration controls in an interview), so is Clegg trying to finally completely shift the LibDems to the centre-right?

  40. Just been reading the articles about Job center targets, which don’t exist or maybe they do… will this blow up in the governments face next week, it seems a few whistle blowers are leaking emails…

    If they do exist it is another “nasty party” nail… although that is the wrong tag imo.

    Those on welfare have been complaining about these nonexistent targets for a couple of years now it seems as though there might be, but IDS says not, but evidence mounting to say differently…

    “It was also reported that staff in a jobcentre in the West Midlands were this week told that the team who submitted the most Stricter Benefit Regime “Refusal of Employment” referrals would be rewarded with Easter eggs. The staff were told there was drive on this particular type of sanction.”

    Just how disgusting is that, if true…

  41. Interesting discussion on balls. I tend to agree with those who say he’s a bit of a liability, but not much, I think. The notion that having him there would make it easier for Tories to blame Labour is, I feel, a little weak. He wasn’t chancellor, and while anoraks know he was a key figure, most voters will largely fail to register him in this way I suspect.

    I think his problems are more about his presentation. A bit too earnest and ranty, but a very big plus for him is that, as even right leaning commentators have recently conceded, since 2012 he has called every major economic issue correctly while Osborne has got every one wrong.

    I suspect Darling might be a more vote winning character in terms of public acceptability, but on the other hand, I don’t think this will really matter if Labour get the policies right and Tories continue to fiddle around like at present.

    On the budget – the Telegraph is reporting strong anecdotal evidence from estate agents that there has been a flood of interest from wealthy clients seeking to capitalise on the house loan policy for buying up multiply properties. Nick Boles (Planning Minister) has privately promised a developers conference there will be further planning relaxation in May and that he doesn’t care who buys the houses.

    If we see further conflict on planning relaxation (largely from traditional Tory leaning sectors, I suspect) a house price bubble developing, and wealthy investors benefiting above struggling first time buyers, I think we could see this entire budget, and with it the last vestige’s of Osborne’s credibility and the governments ‘fairness’ claims evaporate.

    I think this is a very, very risky policy, and they don’t seem to know yet how to alleviate those risks.

  42. Alec
    “a house price bubble developing”
    As far as the public is concerned, I don’t think they care if the policy makes a housing bubble worse until the bubble bursts.

    We’ve just come out of the worst financial crisis in almost a hundred years, caused partly by a housing bubble which burst based on giving credit to those who couldn’t really afford it (partially backed by government guarantees) – so the solution is to create a housing bubble, giving credit to those who can’t afford it, partially backed by government guarantees.

    Yet the policy is supported by a majority of the public (59% to 21%), and by a majority across all parties, all age groups, all regions and economic classes.

    The public don’t really have an idea about the risks of policies, as long as the policies continue to work and are popular.

    So I don’t think the policy will fall apart with the public, until the housing bubble (which was kept going by Labour after the 2008 crisis – so hasn’t properly burst yet, only deflated) causes problems again, probably under a government under a different political stripe (who won’t allow prices to deflate to a stable level because it’d be electoral suicide).

  43. Just to clarify the ‘stable level’ point –
    House prices adjusted for inflation,
    Current: Q4 2012 – £162,924
    Peak of 2007 crisis – £218,501 (Q3 2007)
    1997 Q2 (when Lab took over) – £91,479
    Peak of last housing bubble – £133,132 (Q2 1989)
    1951-1985, house prices were stable at £67k-£88k sort of level, they fell briefly to that sort of level after the 80s bubble but continued to rise to unsustainable levels after Labour took over.

    So house prices need to halve in value to go back to stable, affordable levels – and no party is going to support policies (land tax, mortgage controls, etc) that are going to bring them back to that sort of level.
    It’d be absolute electoral suicide, given the numbers of people whose wealth is held in the bubble.

  44. I am still bothered by why I find Balls unconvincing. I think it is partly purely to do with presentation. Sometimes I feel he goes in for a rant which feels a bit contrived when I would prefer something more forensic. But more fundamentally I feel it has to do with a lack of ‘boldness’ and that this in turn reflects a fear of the papers and of various dodgy assumptions that many of us have come to share.

    As an example, I feel that if the budget mortgage changes benefit the rich buying second homes this is probably not something that the Conservatives intended and should be something that should be sorted out. So it is definitely something that is worth pointing out and it is the part of opposition to do this. Trying to say that this is Osborne trying to help his rich friends feels to my mind false and over-the-top. A restrained and forensic analysis of his incompetence would be more to my taste.

    That said, the real attack on the policy is that it is highly risky (see eg Fanny May, sub-prime etc) and will drive up housing costs at a time when we need to be letting them down gently. I suspect the real reason for it is that it looks good, will be popular in the South, and will not appear in the public accounts in the same way as building social housing.

    By contrast a real determined effort to build social housing (perhaps with an admixture of shared ownership) would be much more to the point. It should be within the power of local authorities to deliver, would really help kick start the construction industry, would generate rents, deal with a real social problem, and tend to drive rents and house prices down rather than up. Combined with some shared ownership it might even avoid the appearance of estate ghettos and attract those who aspire and strive,. The downside is that it can be made to look socialist, might involve borrowing and, I suppose, might offer a policy which could be either attacked or stolen by others.

    My problem with EB is that I think he said something like this when I was listening to him, but whatever it was he didn’t say it very clearly and the message I took away was about second homes etc.

  45. JIM JAM

    Thanks- I share your thoughts.

    A very interesting piece by Mathew Paris this morning in the Times about the next GE , and the messages which should ” in his opinion” be given by Cons. THey are messages which would lose them the Election.

    With Mandelson admitting his Government ” abolished boom” , and rounding on Balls’ “predictable” harping on about the pace of deficit reduction, we can perhaps see the start of a look forward to the world beyond 2015.

    Tell you what worries me most about those OBR assumptions-not growth this year ( I think they may have undercooked that for a change).
    -Growth for 2016 /17/18.

    Right now 2.3%/2.7%/2.8% looks like a wing & a prayer. And with that period opening with 85% DEbt/GDP & DEficit of 5%/GDP -you can see why Fitch & Moody are concerned. Any significant shock or undershoot -and bingo we are heading for DEbt at 100% of GDP and over-and Debt Interest taking 15% of Tax Revenues.

    So EM’s article in today’s Times telling us that he will “salvage UK’s lost decade” is a start-provided he is talking about the one which starts in 2015-not the one which ends then.

    …but then he tells us he has urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak against Welfare Reform……..

  46. Tribune has joined The New Statesman, The Economist & The Spectator in saying they will not join the Grant/Miliband/Cameron/Clegg Press Regulation scheme.

    The owner of the Indy has spoken against it too.

    Looks like opposition building on the Left & Right of the Press-those new Quangocrats might be a little lonely , looking for something to regulate.

  47. ALEC

    @”I suspect Darling might be a more vote winning character in terms of public acceptability, ”

    I feel sure that is true at the level of personal characteristics , and modus operandi.

    But to me his biggest appeal is the feeling of a degree of honesty in what he says. And I reflect that when he said , in 2008, that Britain was facing “arguably the worst” economic downturn in 60 years which will be “more profound and long-lasting” than people had expected”…….his “colleagues” didn’t like it at all.

    Those “colleagues” are still running Labour’s economic policy .

  48. I don’t think Labour has anybody as a winningly presentable Chancellor candidate (those who know something about the subject come across quite arrogant or at least angry – maybe understandably – or simply constantly arguing). So, they may as well just stick with EB (he may even grow out of some of the behaviours if Labour’s lead increases). AD has a much bigger problem than presentation – I cannot see a narrative to explain his baggage.

    I don’t think the 2015 election will be a presentational one, anyway, perhaps not even the choice about two alternatives (whatever similar they are) but mainly about the government’s performance.

  49. @Tingedfringe – Interesting that you focused only on one of three aspects of the policy that I mentioned. FWIW, I agree with you on the boom in many ways – it’s only when the bust comes that the public get annoyed.

    However, I don’t see the potential asset bubble as the key electoral issue with this policy. As I said, more arguments over planning relaxation won’t go down well in the traditional shires – the Guardian today reports a ComRes poll suggesting 80% of Tory councilors are opposed to more development in their area.

    Secondly, and I think most important for the public acceptance of this budget, is the potential for this measure to be hijacked for second home investors. I’m really very surprised that a key headline budget measure hasn’t been reasonably well worked out in advance – that’s what autumn statements are for. The Treasury has no clear idea how to restrict this to main residences, and admit that it may not be possible to do this. They have said that they ‘don’t think’ that many second homes will be bought under this scheme, but news reports suggest otherwise.

    My central point is that this budget will be seen as a disaster if we find that demand has been stoked by it, prices rise, there are numerous arguments over planning, and the net effect is most of the benefits are swallowed up by the wealthy multi home owners.

    Non of this is inconceivable, by any stretch, and a number of Tory MPs are already uncomfortable. At this point, it’s worth recalling Osborne’s record of short term tactical prowess but repeated long term strategic failure.

  50. I don’t really see why the general public are so negative about Ed Balls. Can’t help feeling it simply comes down to the negative press coverage that has linked him to the last government and the crash. So the narrative is that Balls spent money like it was going out of fashion and singlehandedly caused the crash and would do the same thing again.

    Quite a strong narrative but not really accurate. It was interesting seeing a clip of his commons spat with Vince Cable the other day with Cable saying something along the lines of not taking lessons on asset bubbles (fair enough) and yet the issue being debated was the government mortgage subsidy which I think most economists agree will keep house prices artificially higher than they should be. So on that issue I would argue well maybe Balls has learned the lesson while others are carrying on down the same path.

    I think he could be a liability because of his link to the last government but other than that he has called most things right when you look at the impact of government decisions on the economy. Of course it is easy to call things without outlining an alternative but nonetheless Balls has said what would happen and been right, Osborne has said what will happen and been wrong.

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