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Voters: It’s not Plan A, it’s Osborne

14 March 2013

14 March 2013

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.’

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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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Show comments
  • P Windsor

    We cannot reduce the deficit never mind the debt, without growth and Osbourne is not creating any. He is now running out of time and will leave office having failed. Will Labour do any better? We will see.

    • HJ777

      To be fair, he already has reduced the deficit by a quarter during a period of very little growth, albeit I concede that further progress seems to have stalled.

      Growth would definitely help, but spending cuts will also help reduce it.

  • Grrr8

    That there is parity between Labour and the Tories on the economy should be deeply worrying for DC and GO.

  • Jules

    Great poll for Ed Balls. It shows he has a positive effect on Labour’s position and people believe a policy when his name is attached to it. It should shut his critics up.

    Osborne made a fatal mistake in cutting the top rate of tax from 50p. It’s made no difference economically but politically it’s just toxic. It’s cost the Tories the next election or even just the chance of being heard. Balls & Miliband knew, they had two responses prepared because they genuinely didn’t believe Osborne would not be silly enough to do it. He was. By cutting the 50p tax for the wealthiest at the same time as ordinary working people are suffering like never before and also cutting tax credits for the low paid, cutting council tax benefit, cutting benefit in real terms and imposing a bedroom tax on the poorest, Osborne might as well have just got a loud haler and shouted into the camera, live on BBC News at Six:

    WE ARE THE PARTY OF THE SUPER RICH AND WE DON’T GIVE A FVCK WHO KNOWS ABOUT IT, HAVE THAT PLEBS!!

    • OldSlaughter

      The 50% tax is a ruse, a game, a bear trap. Basically you advocate a real politik position of treating the electorate like idiots. Fine, They probably are. but they will never be more for as long as they are assumed to be less.

    • 2trueblue

      Well what did Liebore do over 13yrs for the average Joe? They killed any aspiration on any level. Can not think of one of them who really dealt with poverty. During their time the whole theme was to borrow and that is the real legacy, which frankly did not improve anyones life in the long term.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        I never heard any complaint from Osborne or Cameron in 2005 with respect to Brown’s policies

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      and firing the Head of the Independent Military Pay Review Body to save £40 million !!!!

  • liamsmith

    Think clearly guys! If you think about it, Osbourne’s doing a bit of both! As he says that while cutting expenditure, he’s cutting the deficit and spending on key infrastructure to raise growth to build more jobs and he’s cutting taxes.

    What he doesn’t tell you is he’s got the deficit down by 25%, with the debt far higher than he, the OBR and the IMF had planned. He’s spending on jobs which are untaxable, IE part time jobs, just so the unemployment figures go down, but that won’t actually help the economy as he won’t get any extra revenue. He’s putting money into the HS2, which is already over budget through planning and committee stages and it won’t even start being built until 2020, and it wont be finished until 2032 (Approx). AND he’s cutting taxes for the richest in society, by allowing them to keep approx 100,000 of their money while making it difficult for the working class in society to ‘get on and do well’, as him and cameron keep saying.
    To be honest, the part time chancellor needs to go back to university. What he’s doing is trashing the economy even worse. And the ‘best’ bit? At the 2015 election, the conservatives have a scapegoat that they can blame for the worsening economy: The Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives don’t care about anyone, all they care about is being in power, they are power hungry. And theyve used the Lib Dems, and they will demonise them in the next election.

    • OldSlaughter

      “AND he’s cutting taxes for the richest in society”

      No he isn’t.

      “The Conservatives don’t care about anyone”

      Oh, there we go. The people you disagree with are evil sociopaths etc. Self-serving infantile nonsense. Even when you are wrong you’ll still be in the right.

      Yawn

      • petermorris

        Cutting the tax rate from 50% to 45% for people earning more than £150,000 per year “isn’t cutting taxes for the richest in society”? Blimey, I’d like to see what you think is cutting the taxes for the richest in society.

        • OldSlaughter

          No. It is cutting one tax. If it had not escaped your expert notice. There are many different taxes in the UK. Not to mention the fact that the 50% rate was none but a bear trap left as they exited the door. If was a real policy they should have enacted it whilst running a deficit.

        • HJ777

          But Labour only had such a rate for one month of their 13 years in power and described it as temporary.

          Neither is it clear that those earning over £150,000 per year are necessarily the richest. Wealth is not necessarily a function of earned income. For example, asset price booms (as the Labour government engineered) tended to favour the richest vs the poorest.

          • petermorris

            Just because Labour may have got it wrong during their 13 year economic boom, it doesn’t justify the coalition getting it wrong too. People with incomes of over £150,000 certainly have a greater ability to pay a little extra, compared to someone on the average wage and someone on the minimum wage. The UK doesn’t really have a wealth tax as you appear to be proposing, or defending. I am not aware of exactly how the previous Labour government “engineered” asset price booms – perhaps you could elucidate? And perhaps tell Gidiot Osborne how to do it as well because he appears to be clueless.

            • HJ777

              The 45p rate is higher than Labour levied for all but one month of their 13 year time in power. HMRC says that it will raise no less than the 50p rate, so what is your objection? Stamp duty on expensive properties and other taxes have been raised on the richest, so overall, they are paying a higher proportion of the tax take than under Labour. Low earners have had income tax cuts through the raising of personal allowances.

              The previous Labour government engineered an asset price boom by deliberately removing any measure of asset prices from the inflation target, which then only reflected the prices of consumer goods and services, not assets such as houses. They also ignored rampant increases in the money supply – and instead kept feeding the boom through fast rising government spending and low interest rates.

              You appear to have rather less of a clue than does Osborne (although I am hardly his biggest fan).

              • petermorris

                Stamp duty on expensive properties is not paid by the richest. They use off shore tax haven companies to own the properties and instead of buying and selling the properties, they buy and sell the companies off shore, so a change of ownership is not registered in the UK and so no stamp duty is paid. One very rich property developer even purchased a block of apartments using off shore companies in a tax haven and then developed the properties using the off shore tax haven companies to make sure he did not pay any CGT on the property development. If you think that increasing a highest income tax rate by 5% would make rich people change their affairs, then why would you think they would want to pay 7% stamp duty on multi million pound properties?

                Your analysis about the inflation target and asset prices is naive.

                • HJ777

                  Wrong. You are out of date. That loophole has been closed (something that Labour never did):

                  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f9e403da-42db-11e2-a4e4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2NbfayKzK

                  My analysis about the inflation target and asset prices is precisely correct. As is the fact that it was obvious that rampant asset price inflation and a rapidly rising money supply would end in disaster. Describing it as ‘naive’ is no substitute for providing the counter-argument which you obviously do not possess.

                • petermorris

                  You are naive if you think rich people buying multi million pound properties will be happy to pay 7% stamp duty on those hugely valued properties whilst at the same time organising their affairs to dodge the extra 5% income tax on incomes over £150,000. Gidiot Osborne needs a general anti tax avoidance law, not plugging one loophole after another like he has done.

                  I don’t think asset values have ever been included in the CPI or RPI so you are being disingenuous in saying Labour removed them from the inflation target.

                • HJ777

                  The HMRC figures contradict you.

                  The fact that instead of having a reasonable discussion you are more focused on using an insulting name “Gidiot’ because you disagree with him speaks volumes. I think that Gordon Brown was the most disastrous chancellor in my adult lifetime, but I will always refer to him by his proper name. If you have a good argument, insults are unnecessary.

                  I didn’t suggest that asset prices ever were included in CPI – that’s the problem. It was the switch to CPI from RPI that removed any element related to house prices (RPI includes housing costs which are closely related to house prices). The Labour government also ignored the explosion in the money supply and filled the MPC with placemen (such as Blanchflower).

                • petermorris

                  I see you have forgotten that it was Gordon Brown who kept the UK out of the Euro. Just for that, he should be admired from all political viewpoints in the UK.

                • HJ777

                  So did the previous Conservative government (in fact, they negotiated the Euro opt-out) and they had no intention of ever joining and it was never their policy to do so.

                  I never suggested that everything that Brown (or Labour) did was wrong. Brown was also correct to stick to Tory spending plans for his first few years. I also congratulate Labour on introducing the Freedom of Information Act. I am not uncritical of Osborne either, but he is not an idiot.

  • Democritus

    I can see why people would choose plan A but the problem is that even George Osborne isn’t working to plan A. The deficit hasn’t been tackled in the time frame laid out at the beginning of parliament and government borrowing has soared while the economy has remained in recession.

    The poll should have asked; Do you prefer plan A, Plan B or the plan that’s in operation now.

    • HJ777

      The problem is more the way that he has tried to achieve Plan A, i.e. so far mostly by tax increases rather than spending cuts.

      He should have cut taxes but also cut spending (particularly current spending) far more drastically. Cutting public sector wages (which have increased by over 9% since the election) as they did in Ireland would have been a good move initially, followed by drastic selective pruning elsewhere.

      • Daniel Maris

        Evidence for your claim that public sector wages have increased by 9% since the election? – given there has been a pay freeze in the public sector since the election.

        • http://twitter.com/jackmustard1997 jack mustard
          • Daniel Maris

            1. The wages haven’t risen. The income per head has risen. That’s because huge numbers of lower paid workers are now in the private sector.

            2. We’ve had inflation of about 15% since the election. So the 9% “rise” is in any case actually a 6% reduction.
            3. I am still surprised by the figures and would like to read up on them more. If, for instance, redundancy payments are being included in the “Pay bill” then that would explain the rise. The reality is that for the vast majority of people in the public sector there has been no pay rise for three years.

          • Daniel Maris

            To be even clearer: Flanders only claims a 2% rise in the central and local government pay bill. That’s 2% during a period of 15% inflation. That equates to a reduction in pay of about 13% . I find it incredible she hasn’t made that clear in the article.

            • HJ777

              You are confused.

              The 9% figure is for average wages. The 2% figure is for the overall pay bill, which reflects lower numbers employed in the public sector. Flanders makes this perfectly clear.

              9% is a far greater increase than the private sector has seen, and various comparisons show that like-for-like public sector workers were already better paid (and that’s before you take pensions, shorter hours, etc. into account).

              • Daniel Maris

                Where is your evidence that 9% for income PER HEAD is far higher than for the private sector. And as already indicated, with inflation in the period about 15%, it’s not in any case an increase, it’s a decrease.

                • HJ777

                  You think that inflation since May 2010 has totalled 15%? That’s a period of slightly less than 3 yrs , which would mean average annual inflation of nearly 5%. From where did you get the idea that inflation has been that high? Even if you look at RPI (which has been considerably higher than CPI) the average has been well under 5%.

                  In any case, even if 9%, taking inflation into account, represents a decrease (which it probably does), so what? I never said otherwise. I argued that the government should have gone for an initial cut, as in Ireland.

                  The ONS says that the pay per hour differential between the public sector and the private sector has widened since 2010 (the public sector being paid more). Why don’t you check these things out for yourself? The data is readily available.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Usually circumvented by re-grading

        • HJ777
  • Russell

    It depends who exactly was in the second ‘different’ group of people. All in all a nothing story.

    • HookesLaw

      No it shows how pointless opinion polls are. One poll was on policy and the other was a beauty contest.
      The Chancellor is taking money off people (and of course being misrepresented in the process by the press and the lefty BBC). Who expects him to be popular?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        He has made a mess. He has made a labour Disaster a Conservative one and taken full ownership of the Depression

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    After 3 years of Osborne it is game-over. He is discredited and the policy has failed because the pain is so unevenly distributed

  • Makroon

    When Osborne and Balls are mentioned, the lumpen supporters (who don’t know a deficit from a donkey), suddenly twig which plan they are supposed to like.
    The questions are highly misleading anyway.
    Osborne as the “Chancellor of Cuts” with his rather un-photogenic smirky sneer, was always bound to turn into a hate figure, and Balls is well remembered and not trusted.
    If that “nice” Danny Alexander bloke was the figurehead of either Plan A or Plan B, he would probably win.
    After 6 years of economic strife, it’s a question of ‘better the devil you don’t know’.

    • telemachus

      Wrong

      I have been telling you for months about the charismatic one

      It pleases me not just a little to have documentay evidence

      • huktra

        “The Chancellor needs to strike a consistent tone in his Budget,”
        So said our august editor in a post here last Saturday

      • HJ777

        “the charismatic one”

        Who?

        • huktra

          This is his obsession with Balls.

          • HJ777

            You’re joking.

            He really thinks that Balls is ‘charismatic’? Only in comparison to Miliband but by any other measure he has all the charisma of a slug.

    • Democritus

      But surely it would help to have a chancellor with at least some experience in economics.

      • HookesLaw

        Most economists do not know anything about economics.

        • petermorris

          Most historians, like Gidiot Osborne, knows even less about economics.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            Manifestly so especially when Oxford has a Modern History Course that stops around 1500

            • HJ777

              That may be so, but Ed Balls did PPE and is clearly weak on economic history (in his Bloomberg speech, he claimed that the 1981 budget caused a recession – surely everyone knows that the recession had already finished and that the economy grew thereafter).

              • http://twitter.com/jackmustard1997 jack mustard

                Since the UK’s GDP fell by 2.2% in real terms in 1981, I don’t think you can argue that the recession had finished by the time of that year’s budget.

                • HJ777

                  That’s strange because the official ONS statistics say that UK GDP quarterly growth in 1981 was as follows: Q1 -0.7%, Q2, -0.2%, Q3 +1.3%, Q4 0% (all real terms figures).

                  The Guardian kindly put the figures in an accessible format:

                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/nov/25/gdp-uk-1948-growth-economy

                  Thereafter, there were not two successive quarters of negative growth (the official definition of a recession) until the last two quarters of 1990.

                  Let me remind you that the 1981 budget was at the end of Q1 and its measures didn’t come into effect until April 1981, so the budget cannot have affected the Q1 figures.

                  It is perfectly reasonable to argue (as is still debated) whether the 1981 budget was helpful to the recovery or whether it hindered it, but recovery there was, not a recession.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Stupid comment

      • HJ777

        Too late to bemoan Gordon Brown’s chancellorship now.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          it is continuing……

      • 2trueblue

        Well, we had Brown, Balls, and Millipede for a long time and they got us where we are.

  • chforsyth

    I think he didn’t understand the tax system well enough. (I long suspected he didn’t do his own tax return.) He then proceeded to make it *even more* complicated and intrusive, which takes some doing, including rapidly dragging many more into the “higher-rate” band previously reserved for the “rich”, and forcing them to consider tax planning more carefully, which had not been necessary since Lawson.

    Bring back Lawson! Nigel or Nigella? It doesn’t matter: either would do a better job.

    • Makroon

      Yes, I have always filled my own tax return and it has become more difficult year on year, the calculation is a mine-field. It is not just the complication of the regulation (that is bad enough), it is also the very lax and enigmatic English used in the regulation – designed to confuse, and make work for accountants.
      I think HMRC would actually prefer everyone to use an accountant.

      • Democritus

        I have to admit I use an accountant. I just hand over a big box of paper!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        It is one of the worst tax forms in the OECD and deliberately contrived to be narrow-minded and abstruse.

      • HJ777

        To be fair, I use the HMRC online return service and it has been simplified and improved.

        However, my tax affairs are pretty straightforward.

  • Daniel Maris

    FINALLY! The message is beginning to get through. :) Osborne was a liability from the beginning because he was a poor decision maker. But he is even more so, now everyone can see the results of his incompetence.

    • HJ777

      Perhaps, but everyone can see the catastrophic results of years of Balls’s and Brown’s incompetence far more clearly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        what a consolation as the country heads towards implosion. Just look how much fraud Bruno Iksil was able to conduct in LONDON and run up a position of $157 BILLION in 2012………….so much for control of Banks and Risk

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