Labour have caught up with Tories on best government to manage the economy

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 19, 2022, 2:51 PM GMT+0

Two thirds of Britons say the government is currently handling the economy poorly

Perceptions of the government’s economic competence have been falling since May 2021.

Now, for the first time, the latest round of YouGov tracker data shows that as many people say that a Labour government led by Keir Starmer would be better at managing the economy as do a Conservative government led by Boris Johnson (27% in both cases).

This puts Labour tantalisingly close to securing the final element of what YouGov’s Patrick English has described as the ‘holy trinity’ of measures Labour must meet in order to win the next election: being ahead in voting intention, best prime minister, and economic management.

Of the seven economic trackers YouGov runs in this series, the only one in which the Conservatives are ahead is on which government would be better to tackle the government deficit, by 28% to Labour’s 20%.

In good news for Labour, given how much the cost of living is dominating the agenda, the party holds a strong lead when it comes to “keeping prices down”, at 28% to the Tories’ 15% (although 36% say neither, the highest for any measure).

Britons continue to think the government is handling the economy badly

When it comes to specific assessments of the government’s economic performance, two thirds of Britons (67%) say they are handling the economy badly. This represents effectively no movement from their low point of 70% at the end of March. Currently, only 23% of Britons think the government are managing the economy well. Conservative voters are split, with 45% saying the government is doing well and 48% poorly.

When it comes to inflation, perceptions are even worse: almost three quarters (74%) say the government are doing poorly in this regard. A mere 14% say they are doing well. Those who voted for the party in 2019 are likewise damning, with 64% thinking the government is failing on inflation compared to 28% who say they’re doing a good job.

Rishi Sunak sees his reputation take a big hit

This is the first wave of the tracker since the Spring Statement to include the batch of questions about the chancellor.

About a week prior to the spring statement, 33% of Britons said Rishi Sunak was doing a bad job as chancellor, compared to only 27% who said he was doing well.

Those figures have since changed dramatically. Fully half (50%) now say he is doing a bad job, compared to only 20% who think he is doing a good one.

Conservative voters remain more likely than not to think he is doing well at the treasury, by 38% to 29%. Nevertheless, this is down from 49% well / 14% badly in mid-March.

Likewise, there is now virtually no difference between the number of Britons who think that Sunak would make the better chancellor (21%) over his Labour counterpart, Rachel Reeves (19%). Nevertheless, 60% are unsure, doubtless in part because of low name recognition for the Labour shadow chancellor.