Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Cut public spending, say voters – or do they ?


How do people think of what to blog about ? Sometimes I can’t think of a thing, and even if I try to write something, nothing comes out. Other times something just gets my goat – and off I go.

Tonight it was a series of tweets from @theredbox which generally is Times OnLine’s political link service, which riled me into action.

One of the things they like to do is wind Labour supporters up on a Saturday night, with early releases of tomorrows Sunday sensations. This Saturday was no different.

I could pick any from about half dozen articles to get irate over – however I’ll stick to this one : Cut public spending, say voters

According to a times/yougov poll published “today” ( the date of the article is the 13th of September, but it’s quite clearly still only the 12th )  “Voters are overwhelmingly in favour of cutting public spending rather than tax rises to close the budget black hole”

“The survey finds that just 21% would prefer the government to raise taxes to close the growing gap between what the Treasury spends and what it receives in revenue. Sixty per cent want to shrink the size of the state to curb the £175 billion deficit amid mounting government disarray over the public finances.

Of course they don’t actually show you the full survey results or what questions were asked so it’s impossible to evaluate  the findings critically – doubtless they’ll be drip fed to us in the morning.

I just wonder what the questions were though – because in all honesty I’m not sure that 62% of the electorate actually understand what “shrinking the state” means (I’m not really sure that I do). So let’s just examine this for a few moments :

“Overhwelmingly in favour of cutting spending rather than tax rises” – hmm, so not necessarily in favour per se – just preferring it to tax rises.

“62% want to shrink the size of the state” – right, so how many % was it in favour of spending cuts ? Oh, actually they don’t say. Maybe shrinking the size of the state is the same thing – who knows ?

“mounting government disarray over public finances” – and there’s me thinking that there’d been quite a rash of news articles this week saying that the recession was on its way out ( this one for example Recession is officially over, according to leading thinktank )

“Just 21% would prefer to raise taxes” – just 21% – a bit more than 1 in 5. That’s compared to the approximately 3 in 5 they say support cutting spending. So there are presumably another 1 in 5 who are undecided. So around 3 to 2 overall in favour of . That’s a clear majority. Clear. Not overwhelming.

So all this is a becoming  a bit less convincing. Let’s not forget though that this isn’t just The Times doing an unscientific survey – no they’re using YouGov to do this, which according to its website, is the “authoritative measure of public opinon and consumer behaviour” who’ve got lots of experience in mounting objective survey’s of public opinion.

Which makes the Times’ poll even more astonishing, because there’s clearly been a seismic shift in opinion in just a few short days.

According to YouGov’s Peter Kellner’s blog Cameron ditches the negatives, but has not yet nailed the positives a poll published last Monday, not for the Times, but for the Telegraph, shows some radically different results :

7% think that taxes paid as a share of   income would be lower under the Conservatives.  Or should that be “Just 7%”

more people think David Cameron would govern in the interests of better-off people (45%) than think he would govern in the interests of the country as a whole (38%)

And here’s the beauty – 69% of the general public, and 63% of Tories, think one of the top priorities for the Government should be to raise the taxes of those earning more than £150,000 a year.

It doesn’t actually say how many want to “shrink the size of the state”

It does conclude though : “the Conservatives appear to be on course for a modest overall majority. If they can enhance the positives, they could win big. But there remain enough weaknesses in their image for the party to be vulnerable to an effective fightback by Labour”.

I think I can believe that. So don’t forget – sometime in the next year you’ll have a chance to vote in a real poll. Don’t miss the chance – vote Labour !


September 12, 2009 - Posted by | politics | , , , , ,

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