Budget hurts Tories but doesn’t help Labour

Peter KellnerPresident
March 23, 2012, 9:57 AM GMT+0

Latest YouGov/The Sun poll shows the Budget hurts the Tories but doesn’t help Labour

YouGov’s first post-Budget poll for the Sun finds that Wednesday’s announcements have dented Conservative support; they are now on 34%. They have never been lower since the 2010 election, though they have touched this number on a few occasions.

In contrast, Labour, on 42%, is broadly where it has been since early March. If our figures are exactly right, then the new ex-Tory voters have moved to minor parties such as UKIP.

As ever, we should be wary of small changes in a single poll. The fluctuations could be the result of sampling variation. In the next few days we shall be able to see whether the Tory decline is a blip or a trend. However, the questions we asked about the Budget are consistent with the view that the Tories have suffered without Labour benefiting:

  • A year ago, 34% thought George Osborne was doing a good job as Chancellor, while 40% thought he was doing a bad job, a net score of minus 6. After this week’s Budget, his rating is: good 28%, bad 50%, net score minus 22

  • Last year, 44% though the Budget was fair, while 31% disagreed. This year’s figures are 32-48 – a big shift that should worry ministers

  • 37% think the decisions that the Government has taken since 2010 have made Britain’s economy weaker; just 24% think they have made it stronger

  • The “granny tax” is deeply unpopular. 64% oppose the decision to phase it out; among the over 60s the people who turn out to vote in greatest numbers ar general elections – the figure rises to 79%

  • As many as 56% think the ‘richest people in Britain’ will pay less tax as a result of this week’s Budget; only 21% share the Government’s view that they will pay more


  • When we asked people which party they trusted most to tackle Britain’s deficit, the Tories are down four points since last year, from 38% to 34%, but Labour remains stuck on 24%

  • On who would make the best Chancellor, George Osborne retains the six point lead over Ed Balls he established after last November’s Autumn statement

  • When we tested one of Labour’s frequent charges that the Prime Minister is out of touch, we found that both Cameron and Ed Miliband scored equally badly – just 21%, while Nick Clegg scores 11%. By far the biggest number, 38% says ‘none of them’. This reinforces what we have found in other surveys: that public disenchantment these days tends to be with politicians as a whole, not just with specific parties or their leaders

That’s the instant post-Budget verdict. We shall explore public attitudes further in this weekend’s Sunday Times. Of course, the verdict that matters will not come for three years, at the next general election. In the meantime, both Cameron and Ed Miliband have clear lessons to draw: Cameron to persuade voters that his medicine really will strengthen Britain’s economy, and that the impact of his policies is fairly spread; Miliband to show that he and Balls are more in touch with voters and can offer a practical alternative strategy to the Tories without weakening the public finances

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