Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cut it out

My suspicion that shouting ‘Tory cuts’ isn’t going to do Labour much good in the coming months is supported by two recent polls.

First, YouGov asked whether people thought is was possible “in principle” to reduce public spending by up to 10% "by running our public services more efficiently, and without reducing the quality of public services or the level of welfare benefits".

33% thought it definitely possible, 44% probably possible, 12% probably not possible and 3% definitely not possible.

In practice, though, the spending cuts that parties would actually make were judged less optimistically – but this finding won’t help Labour. YouGov asked whether the Conservatives could reduce public spending by up to 10% “while preserving the quality of public services and the level of welfare benefits”. 27% thought yes, 49% no. But for Labour, just 17% thought yes and 63% no.

Second, ComRes asked: “Which party do you trust most to decide where public spending cuts should be made?” 31% picked the Tories, 21% Labour and 14% the Lib Dems.

Labour is absolutely stuffed unless it can convince people that it will protect services while the public finances are squeezed. And there’s no way it can do this while hamstrung by the clumsily implausible Brown/Balls line that there wouldn’t be spending cuts under Labour. This slippery nonsense, to quote Talleyrand, “is worse than a crime: it’s a mistake”.

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