UK opinion formers are not confident about the UK economy, and see it as worse than the USA and China. A plurality believes that the Conservatives would be best at dealing with the economy.
In light of the recent downgrade of the UK’s sovereign debt by credit ratings agency Fitch, new YouGov research can also reveal that a majority (68%) of UK opinion formers believe that the earlier February downgrade by Moody’s will have a negative impact on the UK economy. More than half (51%) believe that the Government should ignore the ratings agencies and do what it thinks is right.
These findings come from YouGov’s March survey of UK opinion formers, who are drawn from politics, business, media, academia, NGOs and the public sector.
A majority of UK opinion formers do not feel confident about the state of the UK economy, giving it a mean score of 40.7 on a scale where 100 represents ‘very confident’ and 0 represents ‘not at all confident’. Opinion formers have far more confidence in the US and Chinese economies, with scores of 57.1 and 64.7 respectively. Only the eurozone fares worse in the eyes of the opinion formers, with a low score of 31.8. However, of the four economies asked about in the survey, only the UK economy has seen its confidence scores decrease since last year.
Asked to consider which political party they believe would be best at dealing with the economy in general, opinion formers are strongly divided by party lines. 39% believe the Conservative party is best at managing the economy, but 27% believe Labour is more competent. A similar split emerges when respondents are asked about the party’s leaders: 43% would trust Cameron and Osborne more to run the economy, but 30% place their trust in Miliband and Balls. Respondents working in Business are particularly likely to believe that the Conservatives (50%), and Cameron and Osborne (55%) in particular, are better at running the UK economy than their Labour counterparts.
Respondents were also asked to evaluate the impact of the downgrade of the UK’s sovereign debt by ratings agency Moody’s. Over two thirds (68%) of respondents believe that it will have a strong or slight negative impact on the UK economy, although a further quarter did not see the downgrade as having any effect.
Nevertheless, only 14% of opinion formers do not believe the Government should now do everything necessary to regain AAA status. A majority (51%) believe that the Government should ignore the ratings agencies and do what it thinks is right. This view is widely held among Conservative voters (55%), as well as among Labour ones (43%). A further three in ten (31%) however believe that the Government should make sure that the UK’s rating with Moody’s does not deteriorate further.