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Labour has a five-point lead over the Conservative Party, according to the latest Opinium/Observer poll of voting intentions, but – even after George Osborne’s Autumn Statement revealed the extent of his party’s economic mismanagement, 14 per cent more voters said they trusted him to run the economy.
Perhaps it is because so few people believe any of them know what they’re doing.
Osborne has made it perfectly clear that he will fail in any stated intention that involves more strenuous mental activity than towel-folding:
- He promised to pull the economy out of deficit and into surplus by the end of the current Parliament – he failed.
- He promised to start reducing the national debt – he failed.
- He promised to spread the impact of his spending cuts so that they impacted on rich and poor evenly – he lied (the poor have been hit much, much harder).
- He promised austerity would be a temporary measure – now he is planning to return government spending to its 1930s levels (pre-NHS, pre-welfare state) and keep it there indefinitely.
And these are just a few of the cock-ups he has made as Chancellor. Here’s another – remember our Triple-A credit rating? He promised to defend it – of course we were downgraded.
Tellingly, 32 per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t trust the Tories, Labour or the Liberal Democrats with the economy. Add in the ‘don’t knows’ and almost half the respondents were against giving any of the main political parties another chance to dabble with the national finances.
This scepticism shows again in responses to questions about individual policies. Asked for opinions on Coalition plans to boost NHS spending by £2 billion, less than half those questioned believed it would happen. Spending plans for roads received a similarly lukewarm response (although in both cases, even fewer people believed it would not happen). Both these plans are unfunded – that is, the government has either failed to explain where the money will be found, or its explanation has fallen apart under analysis. Roads, in particular, suffer from optimistic funding promises that fail to materialise when the money runs out.
Asked about tax cuts, the polls respondents were on much firmer ground, with changes to stamp duty, the plan to further raise the personal tax allowance, and plans to raise the 40p tax threshold to 50p all regarded as believable by a clear majority of respondents.
In other words, they believe Conservatives will cut taxes, but they don’t believe they’ll fulfil their spending promises – possibly because of the very same tax cuts?
Perhaps the real perception problem isn’t that the Conservatives are better-able to run the British economy than anyone else – clearly they are not.
The real problem is that the national press is unwilling to admit that the public doesn’t trust any of our elected politicians with our finances.
It follow – inexorably – that the UK has a serious democratic – as well as financial – deficit.
We only vote these clowns into office because we are not allowed the ability to demand better.
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