How the mood is shifting against the government’s cuts


8:59 am - May 8th 2012

by Leo Barasi    


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I’ve been following for a while a YouGov question on the central issue of how we deal with the crisis: should the government focus more on growth or on reducing the deficit?

When I last wrote about it the public were quite evenly split, following a shift towards more people wanting attention on growth.

Since then, the government’s emphasis on reducing the deficit regained support in the first quarter of this year.

Perhaps this was helped by Labour’s announcement in January that they wouldn’t necessarily reverse the cuts – though I doubt this did too much to public opinion, and suspect the changing mood was more down to a relative lack of bad news on the economy and the government seeming fairly stable.

But since the budget and double-dip, the mood has shifted.

The proportion wanting more attention on growth, even if the deficit gets worse, is now 11pts greater than the numbers who want to focus on reducing the deficit.

This is a 15pt shift from the position two months ago, and 20pts from where we were in July last year:

In December last year, Daniel Finkelstein argued that the view that we should borrow more to borrow less “is never going to work politically. Ever.”

As Jonathan Freedland wrote in reply, that categorical assertion may be too strong. It might have been the case that the option was unacceptable to too many people then, but “where the economics leads, the politics will surely follow.”

Regardless of the economic validity of focusing more on growth than the deficit, the public have become more receptive to a different economic approach.

But Keynesians should still be cautious: fewer than half support their approach, and even the return to recession didn’t make a huge difference to opinion. The ground may be becoming more favourable but it is still far from secure for an Hollande-style refutation of austerity.

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About the author
Leo is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He manages communications for a small policy organisation, and writes about polling and info from public opinion surveys at Noise of the Crowd
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Reader comments


What cuts? Public spending is going up. Our horribly wasteful and bloated state sector needs to realise that not quite giving every minor official the massive budget rise they demand every year does not constitute ‘slashing’ public spending.

The mood is not changing at the Economist. Here is their view on on François Hollande He is “rather dangerous,” he “genuinely believes in the need to create a fairer society.”

Your global elite masters in all their glory. A fairer society is dangerous. Perhaps these people need to be reminded of what happened to those previous elites who suggested the masses eat cake.

What cuts?
We are still spending much more than we take in: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/uk-budget-what-cuts/

4. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

One group of tories claim the cuts are a necessary evil whilst ruddy faced back benchers scream ‘more, more’ as the towel folder gleefully announces them,

Another group claim the cuts haven’t started.

And yet another claim there are no cuts.

@3

So, after spending more money than they had available for the last year (and actually the same has happened in every year in the last decade), the government will again spend much more money than they even plan to receive.

Does this constitute “budget cuts”? No.

I’m not sure you know what ‘budget cut’ actually means.

Nice to see 1 & 3 demonstrating that the rhetoric behind austerity is false and that it doesn’t actually work to reduce public spending. It does however rebalance power away from workers toward the ruling class. Which is entirely the point and objective. Standard class war. The Tories do not care if the economy collapses as long as the proles know their place at the end of it.

@1

Public spending invariably goes up when the Right gets their hands on the economic tiller because of their propensity to throw people onto the dole.

The stabilisers kick in as the Right haemorrhages money to welfare and so from a high level spending is seen to rise. This is why the Right is so good at racking up budget deficits.

Last year by the way was the first time since 1955 that departmental spending “fell”.

There’s your cuts.

Alongside your double-dip recession – the first since the 1970s.

The two ARE related.

7. Planeshift

Thanks Ben, the right has been pushing the ‘there are no cuts’ line for a while with incredible dishonesty. Spending on public services has been cut, and is being cut drastically.

8. margin4error

Ben covers that pretty well.

The fact that the cuts don’t work because they land people on benefits and cause a significant under-shoot in the tax-take doesn’t mean cuts are not happening. It just means the government is shifting government spending from stuff we want (like educatio, healthcare, policing and so on) to stuff we don’t want (more housing benefit claimants, more people on the dole, more reports of crimes to register, and so on)

Not that anyone said this before the cuts kicked in. Well, except for Labour and the Lib Dems pre-May2010 of course. But no one on the right – and for some reason that I can’t fathom, some people on these boards seem to think the right is the only thing to listen to.

What cuts?
We are still spending much more than we take in:

Yes – we told you that would happen. Its because the cuts you encouraged slowed down growth and increased unemployment!

And we said The Cuts Won’t Work
http://thecutswontwork.co.uk/

@6 / 8 Cuts

I did wonder in 2010 how much money you would actually save by sacking low level public sector workers especially those in areas where there is little alternative employment.

If a worker is the main bread winner in a family and is on £20K (nearer 15K when the government take off tax). If that family are thrown on the dole, how much benefit will they receive, and what is the saving?

It seems lose/lose to me. The service is lost and there is no saving.

11. margin4error

redfish

I’ve seen it estimated that a breadwinner losing their job typically costs the government about £16,000 when you account for benefits and lost tax revenue from income tax and so on.

But I suspect what is hurting is that by shrinking a large chunk of the economy, and by chopping and changing regulations and programes willy-nilly – the government has generated a climate of uncertainty that hurts consumers and business investment badly.

That lack of activity is probably having a bigger impact on the tax take than the cost of unemployment on the benefit bill.

And just for illustration – I know a roofer who hired four members of staff in 2010 to build up a solar panel arm of his small company. He had work lined up for the next six to nine months when the government suddenly cut the feed in tarrif and more than half his contracts were cancelled in a week.

He had to let two of the staff go within three months and, surprisingly for the tory that he unambiguously is, he voted labour in the local elections recently because he’s fed up of anti-business government.

2. Sally ~ Surprised you haven’t dropped dead of cancer yet with the toxic attitude you consistently produce hahah!

Chris/Moser @ 1, 3

What cuts? Public spending is going up.

Just what is it with you backward Tory cunts? What is wrong with you people do you have this pathological need to go through this charade at every turn? We are talking about Tory cuts to services. Of which there have been many.

If your elderly parent is on a ward where the soap supply has been cut, then you have suffered because two Tory posh boys don’t understand the real world have fucked up. Same as when your local library closes or your child’s school sacks a teaching assistant. All the “ah, but public spending has went up” does not mean we are imaging those cuts.

So, if a hospital ward stops the soap ration is that an increase in soap or a decrease in soap?

14. So Much For Subtlety

6. BenM

Public spending invariably goes up when the Right gets their hands on the economic tiller because of their propensity to throw people onto the dole.

Sorry but this is nonsense. Not a single word of that is historically accurate. Public spending has traditionally been restrained under Tory governments. Not gone down. But not gone up as much as under Labour. Who have inevitably spent their way into such disastrous economic times that it was only under the Tory-lite Blair they won more than one election in a row. Well, OK, not entirely fair, but largely so.

Last year by the way was the first time since 1955 that departmental spending “fell”.

And yet the budget was not cut. Dave and George have only promised not to increase spending as much as previous governments did.

Alongside your double-dip recession – the first since the 1970s. The two ARE related.

Indeed. The latter makes the former necessary.

Planeshift

Thanks Ben, the right has been pushing the ‘there are no cuts’ line for a while with incredible dishonesty. Spending on public services has been cut, and is being cut drastically.

Well get your story straight. Either BenM is right and spending on public services has gone up because more people are on the dole, or spending has gone down. Which is it? Both can’t be true. In reality we have not tried any austerity yet. We are spending vastly more than we take in. Cameron shows no signs of wanting to do otherwise. Public spending has not been cut.

Sunny Hundal

Yes – we told you that would happen. Its because the cuts you encouraged slowed down growth and increased unemployment!

How can you have this both ways? Either cuts have taken place or we are spending more on welfare. Which?

Redfish

I did wonder in 2010 how much money you would actually save by sacking low level public sector workers especially those in areas where there is little alternative employment.

More than their salary is worth if they have anything to do with regulation.

margin4error

And just for illustration – I know a roofer who hired four members of staff in 2010 to build up a solar panel arm of his small company. He had work lined up for the next six to nine months when the government suddenly cut the feed in tarrif and more than half his contracts were cancelled in a week.

He had to let two of the staff go within three months and, surprisingly for the tory that he unambiguously is, he voted labour in the local elections recently because he’s fed up of anti-business government.

So this is a story of a man who took money from the government, who took it from actual, real, productive parts of the economy, to waste on pointless gestures related to solar energy? Cutting the feed in tariff is a sensible policy. We do not have enough money to waste on upper middle class welfare of this sort. If only more schemes like this were scrapped.

We have not yet begun to do the things we need to do to restore health to the economy. Ditching the entire renewable energy push would be a good idea. We may have the luxury of thinking there are alternatives for now. But there aren’t. Once the Euro-zone dives we will go down with it. Then we will have to make the hard choices. Deluding ourselves, or yourselves, that there is some alternative to actually making a living in the real world is not kindness, it will just prolong the pain.

15. Albert Spangler

@ 13

Seconded. If the economy is tanking because you’re cutting areas of spending which increase the unemployment bill, not only are you cutting, you’re cutting in a stupid, self defeating way which saves no money, slows the economy and makes people’s lives worse.

I’m suspecting people secretly want to fail to promote growth to provide a justification for more cuts.

I’m thinking of making a text document which I can just write the same sodding argument to the same sodding point which seems to be ubiquitous to internet comments, because I’m sure others are doing the same.

16. margin4error

SMFS

No – this was the story of a business planning his business, investing his money, and taking his risks according to the framweork and rules that the government had put in place.

And it was a story of those rules being changed so fundementally and so quickly that his business lost a lot of work and had to shed staff.

But hey – it’s not like a party that is a friend to business would see any value in certainty for business or at least in giving a degree of fore-warning about changing the rules of the game.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Kim Blake

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  3. Saggydaddy

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  4. Hurstingstone

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  5. Lambeth NUT

    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

  6. Jason Brickley

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  7. Chris Merle

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  8. Doug Saunders

    RT @sunny_hundal: Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/5RJf54yY

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  10. Alison Klose

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  11. Wendy Seabrook

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  13. Ray Sirotkin

    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

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  17. Brian Tomkinson

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  18. David Marsden

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    How the mood is shifting against the government's cuts http://t.co/l19uiPiz

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    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

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    RT @sunny_hundal: Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/5RJf54yY

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    RT @sunny_hundal: Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/5RJf54yY

  26. Janet Graham

    How the mood is shifting against the government's cuts http://t.co/l19uiPiz

  27. Janet Graham

    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

  28. Kamaljeet Jandu

    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

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    How the mood is shifting against the government’s cuts | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/lFjfEZjs via @libcon

  30. Andrew Ajayi

    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

  31. Steve Elsey

    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

  32. Annette Hook

    Polls show British mood is shifting against austerity too, towards jobs and growth http://t.co/zAxidgC9

  33. Pucci D

    How the mood is shifting against the government's cuts http://t.co/l19uiPiz

  34. Ravi Subramanian

    Interesting take on some polling > How the mood is shifting against the government’s cuts http://t.co/GsC0jT0o

  35. Steve Elsey

    Interesting take on some polling > How the mood is shifting against the government’s cuts http://t.co/GsC0jT0o





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