Saturday 20 November 2010

The cuts aren't fair, are too fast, and will leave me worse off, say most people

John Rentoul blogs the details of a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday, and Sunday Mirror, which asked some interesting detaield questions about cuts.

65% of people think they will be personally worse off as a result of the spending cuts. Lord Young may take some solace from the fact that 16% don't think they will be.

And the government is losing the argument with a majority of the public about their claim that the deficit reduction plan will be as fair as possible. 56% think the cuts aren't fair because they will hit poor households worse than the rich. Only 28% think the Coalition is doing what it can to protect the vulnerable.

And 51% say the scale of the cuts is too harsh and too fast, with 34% disagreeing with that criticism of the government's strategy.

Overall, these findings are somewhat concerning for the government and mildly encouraging for the oppositon. But they also suggest that the public politics of the spending cuts remain finely balanced at this stage. That most of the public don't think the cuts are fair is useful to the opposition - but only as long as they don't - at the same time - believe they are inevitable.

The government has been strongest on pushing that "no alternative" argument since May. Most polls suggest most people accept this broad principle about deficit reduction at some level, but the "too much, too soon" majorities suggest there could be a broad countervailing pressure for a clear argument about how to do it differently.

Nobody can confidently predict how attitudes may shift over the next year. The cuts remain rather abstract until they arrive in real service cuts, perhaps to popular local services - like libraries - in particular. How people will feel about their scale when they are more tangible is difficult to predict. Some anecdotal evidence from the doorstep and focus groups suggest that a number of people believe the cuts have already happened, which can found a 'that felt pretty bad, but we've survived' attitude.

The government might be somewhat relieved that the negative poll findings are not stronger. The one pro-Coalition finding of those reported tonight is that a narrow plurality (42% to 37%) do not think the scale of cuts needed are being exaggerated by the Conservatives and LibDems "for party political reasons".

That 42% is good news for David Cameron - but may offer only scant consolation for the junior Coalition partner in that. For the Conservatives are at 37% in the voting intention poll. Most Tory voters (I would guess at least three-quarters, obviously without having seen the poll breaks) would give the government the benefit of the doubt on partisan exaggeration. Government approval ratings are often quite close to the Tory share too - with Tory supporters consistently much more content than LibDems about the overall direction of the government.

That LibDem support has halved in the polls is well known: it might be worth watching closely how gruntled or not even those who have remained loyal are on the government's economic strategy over the next few months.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the figures fro labour are very encouraging, We now have a poll that shows 50% of the people agreeing with labour and far more agreeing the poor being affected.

It is all very good agreeing with cuts but when they start to affect you ....