Monetary Policy

Osborne’s own constituents don’t understand his economic plan


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Taking immediate action to tackle the deficit must now be the priority

ComRes poll shows only 20% of Osborne's constituents know he plans to increase the national debt

A new ComRes poll commissioned by the Institute of Economic Affairs shows:

  • Only 1 in 5 (20%) respondents from George Osborne’s constituency know he is planning to increase the national debt by around £600bn in the lifetime of this Parliament.

  • Labour (29%) and Lib Dem (24%) voters from 2010 are more likely to correctly identify this plan than Conservative voters from 2010 (17%)

  • Just under half (49%) of respondents from George Osborne’s constituency believe he is intending to reduce the national debt by £600bn in the lifetime of this Parliament.

  • Over half (56%) of Conservative voters think George Osborne is planning to reduce the national debt by £600bn this parliament.

  • Men (57%) are more likely than women (41%) to say he intends to reduce the national debt by £600bn this Parliament.

Commenting on the poll, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“It’s amazing even 20% of people got the right answer given that both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister seem to have fallen for the Chancellor’s implication that he is paying down the national debt.

“The British electorate do not shirk from confronting difficult problems when they are clearly spelled out. But they are being told we are living in an age of austerity when we continue to live a life of largesse.

“The Chancellor has failed to explain to the public the truly dire state of the nation’s finances, let alone begin to address the problem in any meaningful way. Therefore, the public may well have reached the conclusion that after a few years of belt-tightening, the government will return to its traditional habit of gleefully increasing spending year on year. That illusion needs to be urgently dispelled – not only are we continuing to drive nonchalantly to the economic cliff edge but we are engaged in the moral outrage of massive intergenerational theft.”

Notes to editors

Methodology: ComRes interviewed 500 adult Tatton county constituency residents by telephone from 7th to 10th February 2013. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all Tatton residents aged 18+ by age and gender. Data were also weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.