The economy blame game

April 20, 2010, 10:03 PM GMT+0

The British public consider David Cameron and Gordon Brown to be equally capable of getting the economy out of the recession according to our poll for the Sun newspaper. Both leaders receive 30% of the total while Nick Clegg, who has seen a huge surge in popularity since his appearance on the ITV TV debate last week, is interestingly trailing behind at only 19%.

And support is not split solely on predictable party lines. Although there is consensus among the Conservative and Labour supporters in trusting their own party leaders, significant amounts of Liberal Democrat supporters are less trusting of Clegg’s potential on the economy, with ten percent and 17% trusting Cameron and Brown more than their own party leader respectively.

However, the public have a different opinion on who is best placed to cut the deficit. When asked which of the three main party leaders they trust the most to reduce government borrowing, the majority of the public put their faith in the Conservative leader, giving David Cameron 34% and seeing Gordon Brown slip into third place with just 18%. Nick Clegg marginally beat Brown with 21%.

When asked about the recession, the country is almost evenly divided on the extent of Gordon Brown’s responsibility. While the majority (45%) agree with the statement that ‘the recession is the result of a global economic crisis that was outside Gordon Brown’s control’, a considerable 39% of the public believe that his decisions as Chancellor exacerbated the recession and that he should therefore take the blame for the state of the economy. This time though, blame was overwhelmingly split down party lines, with 80% of Conservatives placing the blame on Gordon and 90% of Labour blaming the global economy instead. Liberal Democrat supporters arguably reflect the view of the nation on this issue, as 33% blame Gordon Brown compared to 39% on average nationally, while 48% blame the global economy compared to 45% on average nationally.

Although fewer than two in five people (39%) blame him for the crisis, Gordon Brown has admitted that he should have regulated the banks more during his Chancellorship. However, his admission has made very little difference to the majority of the public’s trust in the Prime Minister on the economy. 46% state that his announcement did not change their opinion because they didn’t trust him anyway, and 21% state that his announcement did not change their opinion because they already trusted him with the economy, putting the total of people whose opinion hasn’t changed since the announcement at 67%.

It seems that where the economy and the main party leaders are concerned, people have already made up their minds about whom to blame for the crises – and whom to trust to put them right.

For survey details and full results, please click here