YouGov poll: Vince would be the best Chancellor for Britain right now

by Stephen Tall on October 22, 2008

Channel 4 News has commissioned a poll from YouGov in the 60 marginal constituencies David Cameron needs to win to form a Government. LDV doesn’t dwell on individual poll results – the only sensible way to use polls is to look at trends – but it’s worth highlighting one finding which is unlikely to get much publicity.

YouGov asked the question: “If you were to put political party preferences to one side who would be the best Chancellor for Britain right now?”

And here’s what the public said:

Alistair Darling – 15%
George Osborne – 12%
Vince Cable -19%
Don’t know – 54%

A high proportion of Don’t Knows, it’s true – but can you recall the last occasion when a Lib Dem shadow chancellor would have been rated by the public as the best person to do the job for real?

Interestingly, Vince gets his most favourable ratings among the following groups:

Men (27%)
Over 55s (27%)
ABC1s (23%)
London and Scotland (both 22%)

Time for Lib Dems to start putting that EARS and Mosaic data to good use in some direct mail…

PS: You can download the full results here.

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Oranjepan says “Our priorities haven’t changed one bit, we have only adjusted our emphasis in the way we propose addressing them.”

Yes CCF, this has me falling about laughing, too. If we are to make any progress, we will have to apply some sort of advanced semiotic deconstruction technique to this unique linguistic style.

Oranjepan can, when he wants to, be a model of limpid clarity. And then he intersperses crazy paragraphs like the one I have quoted. The only reasonable conclusion then must be – That is when he is deliberately trying to muddy the waters.

Now, that is not necessarily an ignoble aim. There can be times when it is appropriate.

Oranjepan, I think, would like us all to be one big happy family. He would like us all to forget about policy disagreements, and go out and run a united campaign.

Now, you and I might find some problems there. You and I might quail at the idea of canvassing the local ex-council estate, with Lembit’s latest on page 3 of the Focus, and a demand to cut taxes and services on page 1. However, let’s be fair to Oranjepan. I’m sure he would counsel us to be more circumspect. And, perhaps he would have a point.

You see, others do seem to be acting that way, and, perhaps they are getting somewhere. Danny Alexander didn’t actually say “revenue neutral” in the piece he wrote, but as Alix commented, it might reasonably have been interpreted that way. Jo Swinson said much the same last night on Question Time.

Are all these reasonable people gradually talking our party back towards some kind of sense, I wonder? Or are they just trivial minions, who are soon going to get slapped down by the Leader?

My vote is for consensus and against arbitrary rule by the Leader. And if Oranjepan’s convoluted sentences help us towards reaching that consensus, I shall swallow my pedantic objections to his phraseology!

by David Allen on October 24, 2008 at 11:16 pm. Reply #

that sounds pretty much like as close to a compliment as I’m likely to get from you! If the worst I can do is to be incapable of touch-typing a word-perfect speech at your behest, then I’ll survive ok thank you very much!

I’m quite sympathetic to your concerns and I hear your scepticism, but I don’t hear any constructive addition.

Please tell me, how do you think it is possible to balance the opposing demands of revenue and spending whilst we have an ever-more intrusive state and an ever-more unaffordable economy? As I see it the two are very obviously connected.

I don’t think we win by being devious on the doorstep and only presenting half of our policy ideas, I think we are actually more successful by being more honest and drawing the connection.

As it happens I’ve been challenged on a number of occasions by current and former opposition voters about the subject of services and without fail the people I’ve spoken to in both richer and poorer areas are all very receptive to the idea that there are essential services accessible to all and luxury services designed for special interest groups, so it’s advisable to have a few local examples to hand to show them where real wastage exists. I’ve also got into discussions where I’ve been prepared to be convinced over the grounds of definition for particular examples and then changed my mind before going on to make representations to our local council on their behalf.

I’m not personally particularly worried whether we are all saying that our tax plans are to be ‘revenue-neutral’ or not as I think in the current circumstances there isn’t so much room to manoeuver one way or the other – the important thing is to show we are more competent and more trust-worthy of handling the public kitty than either Labour or Conservatives and that we have a clear foundation for making changes as we go forward (ie the tax switch).

Ultimately it is a question of judgement about wher ethe greatest risk resides – where do you think this is?

by Oranjepan on October 25, 2008 at 2:53 am. Reply #

“… the important thing is to show we are more competent and more trust-worthy of handling the public kitty than either Labour or Conservatives …”

I think that is a very dangerous direction to go in, particularly as an argument that policy disagreements don’t matter.

Party divisions are based on policy differences, not competence or trustworthiness. Obviously we want to be as competent as we can, and obviously we aren’t about to sing the praises of our opponents, but fundamentally we have to be sensible and acknowledge that there are competent and trustworthy people in all parties (well, nearly all).

This is why I’m sceptical about tax cuts being funded by “efficiency savings”. Any government would give its right arm for efficiency savings on this scale. The question is whether Lib Dems could achieve them where others have failed.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 25, 2008 at 9:49 am. Reply #

The Govt already requires savings of the order of £20bn each and every year under the Gershon plan.

On economic policy differentiation presents its’ own dangers in the current circumstances because nobody really knows where this financial crisis is heading, so a sense of confidence and decisiveness fostered by cross-party consensus is more important than any particular policy – look at how Cameron has been slated for ‘talking the economy down’ by breaking with agreements to offer bi-partisan support.

Within this showing competence and trustworthiness is the most positive strategy (this is why questions of bad judgement hit particularly George Osborne hard) and can only be built by being as open as possible extolling the virtues of good practice and being first to warn about the risks involved in any particular course of action (George Osborne appears not to be aware of risks in volved in particular courses of action and is actively willing to subvert good practice even after recieving warnings).

In this Nick, Vince, Chris and team are doing a better job than any of the other parties and although the polls may not be swinging in our favour yet the volatility indicates that the public mind is undecided, so there is plenty of time heading into a general election to see events turn in favour of our arguments. All we need to do then is make sure we recieve the credit in order to then sweep up significant gains in numbers of seats.

by Oranjepan on October 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm. Reply #

In a sense, it is dead easy to cut waste. Even Gordon Brown does it. Middle-management programme managers in all walks of life do it. At their annual budget reviews, or whatever, they are forever finding projects that have gone pear-shaped, or gone out of fashion, or failed to deliver what was hoped for. These wasteful projects then get cut, and money is saved.

However, the same programme managers then review their many responsibilities that they are failing to meet properly, their pet ideas that have never yet been tried out, and the new demands that others are imposing upon them. The money that has been freed up by cuts is, very commonly, swiftly reallocated to allow vital new spending.

Meddling politicians of all parties may try to micro-manage the process. Programme managers will generally try to ignore the politicians. By and large, they will be right to do so. There may be some exceptions, for example when Lib Dems ask that local people’s views be paid more respect. But let’s not get too excited about this. Basically, we do not have a magic professionalism, a gene for managerial efficiency, that other politicians do not have.

None of this is to ignore the need for Vince and his colleagues to advertise their economic competence. To show you can cope in government is necessary, if you want to make a serious political appeal. But it isn’t sufficient on its own. You also need policies that are distinctive, realistic, and aimed at specific goals which people will understand. Simply claiming that you are better than the other guys at the efficient micro-management of all the myriad aspects of government is not such a policy!

by David Allen on October 25, 2008 at 7:04 pm. Reply #

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