EU - An opinion poll bounce with consequences

  • 14 December 2011
  • From the section UK Politics
  • comments

David Cameron and George Osborne must scarcely be able to believe where they find themselves.

Just over a fortnight after the chancellor told the country his economic plan was off course, that growth would be lower and borrowing much higher than planning... two weeks after the biggest public strikes in a generation... and days after the prime minister found himself out manoeuvred one against 26, they have pulled ahead of Labour in two polls - YouGov and Ipsos Mori - and are neck and neck in another - ComRes.

Even if this turns out to be a short term post-veto bounce it is not just remarkable but will have real political consequences.

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls will be worrying about recent polling evidence that shows that despite the fact that the public thinks that slowing cuts would boost growth (69%), Britain is getting a worse place to live (47%), the economy will be worse next year than this (41%), and that women, in particular, are worried about their ability to pay their bills (42% of women, 32% of men), and their children's job prospects (37% of women, 32% of men), and their ability to retire as planned (34% of women, 37% of men), just 29% believe that two Eds would be better than none - ie: they would do a better job with the economy.

The reason is that the public remain unimpressed by an economic policy which appears to propose borrowing more to cut the level of borrowing.

ComRes for The Independent asked people this week whether the Government should not increase public borrowing any further and should pay off the nation's deficit as soon as possible - 74% agreed (including a majority of Labour voters).

ComRes also asked people whether the Government should borrow more in the short term to increase economic growth even if it means reducing the deficit more slowly - broadly in line with Labour's approach. The results suggest 49% agreed but 40% disagreed with 11% don't knows.*

These findings are to sure to fuel the debate inside the Labour Party about the need to say more about past mistakes and future responsibility if the party is to regain economic credibility.

If the economic debate has kept the polls closer than you might expect it is the veto in Europe which seems to have produced the Tory bounce.

It will make those Tory MPs who want a fundamental renegotiation of Britain's position, a referendum and, even, an early election more "tigger-ish" than they already are.

It will encourage them to push harder and to push sooner.

Their next opportunity is an amendment to the legislation necessary to amend the euro bail-out fund.

The more they push the more unhappy the Lib Dems will become.

There is just one polling finding that might cheer Nick Clegg. The Sun/YouGov poll suggests that despite backing the prime minister's euro stance just 24% think the outcome of the summit is good for Britain, while 31% say it is bad.**

*ComRes interviewed 1,002 GB adults by telephone between December 9-11, 2011.

** YouGov interviews 1724 GB adults between 11th and 12th December, 2012

The other polling data comes from a variety of polls taken before the Autumn Statement.