From the TUC

Is opinion turning on the cuts?

14 Sep 2010, by in Politics, Public services

The Times has a fascinating new Populus poll on the cuts today, which is unfortunately behind their paywall here. I can’t find the full tables on the Populus website either.

But Sunder has a good summary at Liberal Conspiracy. As he notes:

The poll finds that 51 per cent of Conservative voters prefer the Labour deficit policy to that of the Coalition, which wins the support of 31 per cent of Tories.

Only 23 per cent of LibDem supporters back the government’s deficit reduction plan. Their most popular choice – with 42 per cent of LibDems – is prioritising unemployment and the vulnerable over deficit reduction, the argument of the TUC.

These findings are significant. The questions are good, and there is a real sense here that the “there is no alternative” message from the coalition that undoubtedly resonated after the election has become vulnerable. 

And as Adam notes, at least some ministers are now beginning to worry about the backlash from the cuts they will announce in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

But as someone who has presented polling evidence to many meetings in my time, we must always beware just picking the findings that we want to see.

Another way of cutting the figures is to put together those who agree that we have a major debt crisis against those who say that “protecting the vulnerable and keeping unemployment low” is the priority. That breaks 59 per cent to 37 per cent.

In addition 53 per cent say the coalition is handling the economy well and 45 per cent say they are handling spending cuts well (though this is down 10 per cent from June).

So what should we conclude?

I would suggest that we can say that the public mood is beginning to change, and that growing numbers are prepared to believe that there are alternative policy options. But we cannot say yet that the majority are opposed to substantial cuts in spending.

There is still a very significant battle for public opinion ahead, but at least we can now see that it is winnable if unions campaign effectively and strategically.

But there are still pitfalls we have to avoid. Most importantly we must resist what the pro-government press is already trying to do. They want unions and “feather-bedded” public sector workers to be the dividing issue. We need to make  fairness and public services the issue.

UPDATE:

Sunder has another post  on polling which also provides some grounds for caution. He concentrates on the YouGov poll on the labour leadership. I didn’t spot that this included questions about cuts.

One Response to Is opinion turning on the cuts?

  1. The Squeeze
    Sep 14th 2010, 3:26 pm

    What big cuts are you all on about. My numbers on the June budget say that public sector current expenditure (PSCE is basically spending less capital spending) minus debt interest is forecast to rise in cash terms as follows:

    2011/12 +£11.6b or 1.95%
    2012/13 +£7.5b or 1.24%
    2013/14 +£7.2b or 1.17%
    2014/15 +£8.9b or 1.43%

    Why is everyone harping on about ‘massive’ cuts?