by Stephen Tall on July 6, 2010
Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of the Coalition Government’s budget, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Over 350 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results of our survey this week.
First, LDV asked: The balance of spending cuts to tax rises announced by the coalition government in its measures to reduce the budget deficit is 77% spending cuts to 23% tax rises. What do you think of this balance?
Here’s what Lib Dem members said:
- 7% – There should be more spending cuts and fewer tax rises
- 43% – The balance announced by the Coalition Government is about right
- 33% – There should be fewer spending cuts and more tax rises, with the emphasis still on spending cuts
- 17% – There should be fewer spending cuts and more tax rises, but with the emphasis on tax rises rather than spending cuts
(Excluding Don’t Know / No Opinion / Other)
A plurality (43%) of Lib Dem members in our survey, therefore, endorsed the Coalition Government’s balance of spending cuts and tax rises to cut the deficit. However, one-third of members supported a different approach, with fewer spending cuts balanced by greater tax rises – which, indeed, was what the Lib Dem manifesto urged, suggesting a balance closer to 71%:29% (while Labour advocated a 2:1 ratio).
A smaller minority (17%) supported deficit-cutting with an emphasis on tax-rises rather than spending cuts; while a smaller group still (7%) reckoned the Coalition Budget had failed to be austere enough, and felt there was scope for further spending cuts and fewer tax rises.
The degree to which this was a budget over which the Lib Dems exerted any real influence has provoked a far degree of comment, so LDV next asked: What is your view of the extent of Lib Dem influence in the Coalition Government’s budget?
Here’s what our sample of Lib Dem members said:
- 6% – The budget was basically a Conservative budget
- 41% – It was mainly a Conservative budget, with disappointingly few concessions to the Lib Dems
- 53% – This was a Coalition Government budget, with a reasonable balance of Conservative and Lib Dem policies
- 6% – The budget was a major achievement for the Lib Dems incorporating many of the party’s policies
(Excluding Don’t know / No opinion / Other)
A majority, therefore, backed the Budget as representing a reasonable balance of measures roughly in accord with the respective strength of the parties in the coalition. However, a significant minority – some four in 10 party members – viewed the Coalition Budget as “disappointing”, with too few concessions to Lib Dem policies. Only small numbers on either side viewed the Budget either as a triumph for the Lib Dems, or a total capitulation to the Tories.
Finally, we asked party members their overall views of the Coalition Budget. First: Overall, do you think it was a fair or unfair budget?
Here’s what they told us:
- 52% – Fair overall
- 25% – Unfair overall
- 23% – Neither fair nor unfair
(Excluding Don’t know / No opinion)
And then secondly: Overall, do you think the budget was good or bad for the country?
- 68% – Overall it was good for the country
- 18% – Overall it was bad for the country
- 14% – It was neither good nor bad
(Excluding Don’t know / No opinion)
It’s an interesting set of results. A majority of Lib Dem members believe the Coalition Budget was (overall) both “fair” (52%) and “good” (68%) for the country. Much smaller minorities reckon it to have been (overall) both “unfair” (25%) and “bad” (18%) – with the rest viewing it as somewhere inbetween on both counts.
Here are a selection of comments submitted by those responding to the survey reflecting the balance of views expressed:
But not as fair as a majority Lib Dem Government’s Budget. I think spending cuts/tax rises should have been delayed by a year or so, to ensure a recovery was under way; however, given the timing, the cuts/taxes are not unreasonable. Very annoyed that political commentators have ignored the fact that the coalition kept the 50% tax rate that Labour planned on introducing. That way they could ignore the extra burden the rich were taking on; made it easier for them to claim it’s an unfair budget. Very cleverly played by Labour. But there are huge risks. With economic commentators so divided, it is almost an act of faith to support the budget. But better than a Tory-only budget would have been. Those at the bottom are being caned whilst those at the top are being being ruffled. The VAT and CGT tax increases are the evidence for this. The bankers levy, when set against the reductions in Corporation Tax, demonstrated that those who got us into this mess have escaped largely unaffected. All the financial papers’ comment was to the effect that they could scarcely believe how lightly they had been affected and just how lucky they were. This imbalance demonstrates just how little influence the LibDems have had over this budget and just how the Tories have pandered to their funding source and their financial backers. Almost all the measures hurt the poor disproportionatly and many of the breaks ease things for big business and the rich. It will be good for the country, but we’ll never really know just how great the disaster averted could be. It needed a mansion tax or a land value tax or something to hit the imobile wealth of the stinking rick to balance out the other measures. Apart from that it was about as good as the circumstances would permit. Time will tell of course – but all in all, I am more satisfied than I have ever been that the govt is aiming in the right direction
You can catch up with the results of all our LDV members surveys by clicking here.