New poll shows public prefer Darling’s deficit reduction plan to Osborne’s

A new poll shows that the public remains sceptical of George Osborne's economic strategy. Alistair Darling's slower approach to deficit reduction is supported by 55% to 45%.


Today’s Times (£) carries a new Populus poll detailing an “unhappy anniversary” for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems. But the poll also shows that the public remains sceptical of George Osborne’s economic strategy.

When read out two different views about the economy – one corresponding to George Osborne’s plans to eliminate the deficit in this Parliament and the other in line with Alistair Darling’s proposal to halve the deficit in four years – excluding don’t knows, the public favour Darling’s approach to Osborne’s by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

The Times highlights (£) that the remaining Lib Dem supporters are changing their view on this:

“One result that is likely to cause alarm in Downing Street is the first sign that Lib Dem supporters are turning their back on the coalition’s deficit reduction strategy. In February, 61 per cent backed the coalition’s speed and pace of deficit reduction, putting them broadly in line with support for the strategy among Conservatives.

“Now, the number of Lib Dem supporters endorsing plans to eliminate the current structural deficit within a Parliament has dropped to 46 per cent. Tory support remains largely unchanged.”

A recent YouGov tracker found net support for the coalition’s management of the economy at -12. This compares starly with the picture just 11 months ago, after Osborne’s emergency budget, when +25 thought the strategy was good for the economy.

Sadly, it seems that neither economic stagnation nor public opinion will shift the coalition’s determination to stick to Plan A.

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  • Robert

    yes but of course in three years time they may well all be falling over them selves saying he had it right, then again maybe not.

    But of course Darling has long gone now, the bloke we have now is Balls a Blairite who will more then likely tell us in four years he knew the Tories had it right.

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  • David Dickson

    this should be circulated as widely as possible and in Scotland where SNP are giving priority to minimum pricing for alcohol,regressive tax.Profits for supermarkets,but no gain for public finances.

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  • oldpolitics

    Robert – by what unusual definition of “Blairite” do you consider Ed Balls to be one?

  • Robert

    You are totally right I have Blair on the brain, I did mean of course a Brownite, I was just reading the new medical test for DLA a few minutes ago, and Blair came to mind, Ed was of course a great mate of Brown. even worse then because Brown stated DLA disability living allowance should be stopped, and i think he has his way, after seeing what the Tories have planed.

  • Ed’s Talking Balls

    Slightly confusing, when you look at the breakdown and what the media has been telling us.

    We have been told by the Fawcett Society, for example, that fiscal consolidation will have a disproportionately harsh effect on women. Yet more women than men agreed with the first statement, i.e. the George Osborne plan.

    Similarly, I have read that the cuts will hurt the elderly more than the young. Yet in the 65+ category, more people supported the Osborne-type wording than the Darling strategy.

    On the headline poll result, I’m not entirely surprised. People often like the idea of putting off the unpleasant, while wall-to-wall media coverage tells us incessantly how awful the cuts are going to be. I would say, however, that the gap is narrow (nothing like, for example, the comprehensive caning that AV took in the referendum) and that public opinion could go either way in the future, depending on how Osborne’s gamble works out.

    Finally, given that the wording of the poll I’m even less surprised that Darling’s plan comes across as, marginally, more popular. The statement used to sum up Darling’s plan doesn’t use the words ‘spending cuts’, which instinctively make people recoil.

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  • 13eastie

    The question seems very badly posed.

    There are potential down-sides for voters to both approaches. More aggressive deficit reduction may well require a steeper decline in spending.

    But to delay cutting the deficit will mean paying back a much bigger debt overall and far more interest in the mean time. Over the long-term, the amount of cash available for public or individual spending will be smaller, the longer the deficit is retained. Furthermore, the more time is taken to take definitive action, the more potent this effect will be.

    The “Darling” plan (is this really what Labour, now on their third Treasury spokesman since Darling, are calling their economic strategy?) has been presented as having no drawbacks whatsoever. It’s more of a Balls plan.

  • Dave Citizen

    It’s pointless just talking about speed – if someone suggested taking the £60billion increase that apparently flowed to the 1000 richest last year i’d say do it tommorrow (banks are shut now). As the saying goes, the rich get richer, so we should get even more next year!

    We could also factor in some associated savings if the deficit was tackled in this way – according to a mass of research, reducing extreme inequality in the uk should help bring down crime, reduce drug problems, improve health and a variety of other benefits that would reduce the need for many of the most expensive services and make our economy more competitive.

    For some reason our leaders don’t fancy this route. They think public services, the disabled and middle and poorer income families should pay it all off – that’ll really reduce the costs of crime, health demands, drug addiction etc won’t it. Derrrrrrr

  • mr. Sensible

    David I actually agree with minimum pricing; the current low prices charged by supermarkets are in no one’s interest.

    At any rate, on this, people are seeing that the Coalition’s strategy is hurting but isn’t working.

  • Ed’s Talking Balls


    Completely right.

    That the debate is framed as being cuts versus growth is ridiculous. It suits Labour of course, but it’s disingenuous. For a start, the two are not mutually exclusive. Secondly, and importantly, debt isn’t free. You can’t just borrow more and more without having to pay it back along with substantial interest. Every day we don’t address the deficit we delay the punishment but ensure that it’ll be much more severe when the time comes to take it.

    It’d also be more intellectually honest for people to admit that they don;t have definitive answers. Clearly, Osborne can’t show doubt publicly (wouldn’t go down well with regard to domestic and international confidence) and, in fairness, Balls is entitled to assert aggressively that he believes his party’s approach to be correct.

    But I think talking in certainties is misguided, particularly where commentators are concerned. No economist has the definitive answer, although they might pretend to, and neither do casual observers know what is going to happen. Osborne’s tactic is a gamble in that it is risky. However, cutting slower or even not at all are not tactics without risk. Far from it. In fact, in my opinion, those options would be far worse.

  • Richard

    Nobody has argued that cuts and growth are mutually exclusive, least of all Labour. Quite the contrary in fact. Why do you think the economy’s flatlined? Take a closer look at what the actual arguments have been, I’d say.

  • Richard

    “You can’t just borrow more and more without having to pay it back along with substantial interest.” Tell Osborne that. He’s just raised his borrowing requirements by £46bn.

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