Tuesday 11 January 2011

VAT attack sees support for cuts fall further

One reason that public support for both the government and its policies are falling is that deficit reduction and spending cuts are moving from theory to reality.

Anthony Wells of YouGov sets out how the first instalment of the useful YouGov tracker on attitudes to the cuts has people feeling they would be personally affected peaking at 72%, with 18% disagreeing (a net margin of 54%, compared to 37% in December).

The government is losing two out of three of its main claims for its strategy - but it is winning the one that could matter most in the end if it is not also challenged and reversed. These findings were in a poll where Labour had a 3% lead and government approval was -20.


The government's prominent "fairness" defence has proved something of a Maginot line, as my post for Left Foot Forward set out at the weekend, using the YouGov data. 57% unfairness (net -22) is a new low for "unfair cuts".

The government is being advised from the right to abandon the distributional fairness territory and retreat.

Good for the economy?

But being unfair as you cut leaves open the return of the traditional strength of the "same old Tories" Margaret Thatcher's implicit framing of being "cruel but competent" against opponents who are "caring but incompetent".

But that at least requires unfair cuts to be good for the economy.

The number believing that cuts are good for the economy is now net -9.

The government was +25 on this after June's budget.

This never fell below -3 in 2010 after the election, as it only twice briefly dipped into net negative territory.


The sting in the tail for anti-cuts campaigners is that the government's final line of defence remains intact.

Those believing that cuts are necessary is still +17% - 52% to 35%.

Is there an alternative? That's the argument that the government's opponents need to win.

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