How Liz Truss is out of sync with the British public
Liz Truss had a terrible start as Prime Minister, judging by opinion polls, which have given Labor a huge lead over the Conservatives since entering Downing Street.
Labor has secured a lead of 30 percentage points or more in four polls since Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini” budget, which includes £45bn in unfunded tax cuts, caused turmoil in financial markets.
But Truss’ position is worse than headlines in voting intent data suggest: According to a Financial Times, there appears to be little public appetite for, and a lack of confidence in, the policies she’s pursuing to achieve higher economic growth Agenda implement analysis.
Significantly, it came after months in which the loss of support for the Tories came mostly from Brits who said they didn’t know who they were going to vote for – a group historically inclined to return to the party they won in previous elections supported – one in six people supported the Conservatives’ intention to back Labor in 2019.
The shift in public opinion away from the Tories was largely driven by Kwarteng’s ‘mini’ budget, unveiled on September 23.
While there was broad support for cutting the basic tax rate by 1p, only one in ten Britons thought scrapping the top rate of 45p for those earning more than £150,000 was a good idea, according to a poll by polling firm YouGov released shortly afterwards Kwarteng’s tax return. This could explain why Kwarteng reversed on Monday and dropped the 45p abolition.
Other measures in the “mini” budget, which set the UK target for annual growth of 2.5 percent, were similarly unpopular. Only 14 percent thought removing the cap on banker bonuses would be a good idea.
Overall, only 19 percent thought the measures were fair. Among those who voted Conservative in the 2019 election, 47 percent said it was unfair.
Chris Curtis, head of political polls at Opinium, another pollster, said there was no doubt what Truss did was proving to be largely unpopular with voters, but “the question is why the Tories are in one place landed that is so far removed from public opinion?”.
He added: “Truss supporters could say it’s because they genuinely believe these policies work, boost the economy and get rewarded for it at the ballot box.” But parts of the Tory party have gotten too used to winning and feel the public has to agree with them on everything.”
Truss and Kwarteng’s struggles stem from the fact that ‘trussonomics’ – which could include drastic cuts in public spending alongside tax cuts – has come at a time when Brits are leaning to the left in the economy, as they have been in the run-up to it of the 1997 election when Tony Blair of the Labor Party won.
More than half of Britons support raising taxes in order to spend more on public services like education and health and welfare, according to the latest UK Social Attitudes Survey, which has tracked opinion since the 1980s.
Only one in 17 thought taxes and public spending should be cut, found the poll released just before the “mini” budget. Among Conservative supporters, 46 percent said taxes and spending should be increased, and just 7 percent said they should be cut.
The same poll reported that two in three Britons said ordinary working people are not getting their fair share of the nation’s wealth, the highest level since the 1997 election.
Truss supporters are right when they say the public agrees that a return to strong economic growth is one of the country’s biggest problems, according to recent polls by pollster Opinium for Progressive Britain, a think tank.
But just 15 percent thought the “mini” budget measures would improve growth, while 53 percent said they wouldn’t help, according to the YouGov poll.
Half of Britons said the measures would actively make the country worse off, compared with 9 per cent who said they were better off.
Meanwhile, 33 percent said they would trust a Labor government with Keir Starmer as PM to deliver growth, while just 16 percent said the same of the Truss government.
The Truss government’s shift to the right on taxes and spending has alarmed some Tory strategists concerned that voters have realized it has a markedly different policy platform to that presented by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019.
“Voters feel whiplash because they see the government doing the opposite of what they voted for,” said a senior Conservative adviser. “They wanted extra spending, investment, a higher level, not benefit cuts.”
But a cabinet minister close to Truss defended her agenda. “Voters will be very forgiving if we get better growth,” she said. “More money in people’s pockets will be rewarded at the ballot box, and until then we have to weather the unpopularity storm.”
Another Tory strategist said examining individual policies is not a helpful way to judge the Truss government.
“If polls on specific policies had played a role, Jeremy Corbyn would have won the 2017 and 2019 elections,” he said, citing the popularity of parts of the former Labor leader’s hard-left platform. “What really matters is the overall agenda and message.”
https://www.ft.com/content/a49f209d-be2c-4813-9fac-d41649ade328 How Liz Truss is out of sync with the British public