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Coffee House

Voters: It’s not Plan A, it’s Osborne

14 March 2013

5:52 PM

14 March 2013

5:52 PM

A fascinating poll result from Ipsos MORI today. They ask, essentially, whether people agree with the government’s ‘Plan A’ or Labour’s ‘Plan B’. Specifically, they ask:

‘People have different ideas about the best way of dealing with Britain’s economic difficulties. Which of the following do you most agree with?

A1: Britain has a debt problem, built up over many years, and we have got to deal with it. If we don’t, interest rates will soar. That’s why tackling the deficit and keeping interest rates low should be our top priority.

OR

B1: Without growth in our economy, we are not getting the deficit down and are borrowing more. We need more government spending on investment to kick-start our economy and a temporary cut in taxes to support growth.’

Plan A comes out on top, 52-41.

But they then ask a separate group of people the same question, with one crucial twist. They attach George Osborne and Ed Balls’ names to the respective plans:

A2: George Osborne argues that Britain has a debt problem, built up over many years, and we have got to deal with it. If we don’t, interest rates will soar. That’s why tackling the deficit and keeping interest rates low should be our top priority.

OR

B2: Ed Balls argues that without growth in our economy, we are not getting the deficit down and are borrowing more. We need more government spending on investment to kick-start our economy and a temporary cut in taxes to support growth.’

[Alt-Text]


And, guess what? This time, Plan B wins, 53-37.

The difference between the two results is outside the margin of error, so either attaching Osborne’s name hurts Plan A, or Balls’ helps Plan B, or both.

That’s not to say people trust Balls and Labour over Osborne and the Conservatives on the economy. On who has the best economic policies, the two parties are roughly tied: 27 per cent choose the Tories, 26 per cent choose Labour. And only 26 per cent say Balls would make a better Chancellor than Osborne, while 31 per cent think he’d be worse (38 per cent say ‘about the same’).

Osborne himself is unpopular (just 27 per cent are satisfied with his performance as Chancellor against 60 per cent dissatisfied), but this poll suggests that it is not because people oppose deficit reduction itself. Perhaps it’s because they don’t like him personally, or perhaps it’s more a question of how he’s reducing it. This ties with YouGov’s results, showing that most people do think the cuts are necessary, but a majority also think they’re being done unfairly.

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