The first opinion poll researched after this Wednesday’s annual Budget announcement is another deeply depressing one for the opposition Labour Party. The ruling Conservatives advance two points to hit 44 per cent, their best score with YouGov since the early sunlit days of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition back in August 2010. With Labour unmoved, the yawning 19-point gap is the biggest since May 2009.
The Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party and the Green Party all fall slightly. Nationalists in Scotland and Wales see unchanged support.
First public reactions to individual fiscal measures proposed by Chancellor Philip Hammond seem overwhelmingly positive, with eight specific questions all eliciting favourable responses, including 47 to 33 per cent backing for his controversial increase in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed. By 32 to 24 the Budget is considered ‘fair’ (44 per cent ‘Don’t know’).
However, as YouGov’s Matthew Smith points out, ‘many respondents will have taken the survey before the media backlash in the following day’s papers’, and it will be interesting to see if the initial warm glow fades in future polls.
The only negative score for the Government on a Budget question might be an important one in this context: 55 per cent consider that the Conservatives have broken their election manifesto promise not to increase National Insurance (16 say they have kept it, 29 are ‘not sure’).
On six out of seven general questions of economic competence, such improving living standards, keeping prices down or creating jobs, the Conservatives lead Labour in public perceptions. And on all six indicators Theresa May’s government has increased its poll lead over Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, compared to when the same questions were posed under her predecessor David Cameron’s rule in March 2016. Labour’s only remaining lead is on the ability to reduce the number of people in poverty, and even this has come down from +23 points to +7 points.
Voting intention in per cent (change on 1 March in brackets):
- Conservatives 44 (+2)
- Labour 25 (nc)
- Liberal Democrats 10 (-1)
- UKIP 11 (-1)
- Greens 3 (-1)
- SNP / PC 6 (nc)
- Other 1 (nc)
Fieldwork: 08.03-09.03.2017. Release date: 10.03.2017. Participants: 1598. Method: Online, weighted by likelihood to vote. Media partner: The Times. Full tables on the YouGov website.
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