Nearly half of all voters don’t trust Labour on the economy, our exclusive poll reveals

2nd June, 2013 9:45 pm

The mountain Labour still needs to climb in terms of economic credibility has been revealed by an exclusive LabourList/Survation poll, which shows that nearly half of all voters (46.8%) believe that Labour “cannot be trusted with the economy”. Less than one-third (30.1%) believe that Labour can be trusted with the nation’s finances.

Securing Economic Credibility

This question kicks off a set of polling data which we’ll be revealing each day this week on LabourList, as we seek to find a way towards “Securing Economic Credibility” for the party in a way that is also true to Labour values and electorally viable.

Yet crafting an economic message that can win through in an election campaign won’t be easy with Labour facing such widespread disdain over its economic plans. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Tory voters don’t believe that Labour can be trusted on the economy (which obviously skews the results somewhat), but a worrying 11% of those who voted Labour in 2010 and 9% of those who are currently planning to vote Labour have also failed to be convinced by Labour’s economic plans. Lib Dem voters – both those who backed the party in 2010 and those who plan to vote Lib Dem now – are also more likely than not to believe that Labour can’t be trusted with the economy.

In none of the segments of our poll (gender/age group/region) do those who trust Labour on the economy outnumber those who distrust the party, indicating that even in Labour’s heartlands and strongest demographic groups there is real pessimism that the party has the necessary answers on the economy and has learned the lessons of the past. This distrust of the party is particularly pronounced amongst voters aged 55+, nearly two-thirds (58.6%) of whom think that the party can’t be trusted to run the exchequer.

Both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are set to give speeches this week outlining Labour’s approach on the economy, and both are acutely aware that as things stand the party lacks the fiscal credibility we need to win in 2015. Yet whilst there has been much talk already of both men using this week to set out “tough choices” on spending, and show that the party can be fiscally responsible (i.e. make cuts), it isn’t yet clear that the party will be using this week to make the case for a genuinely Labour, growth-driven approach to the economy.

Our data, which we’ll be bringing you over the coming days, suggests that there is an audience out there for a message that both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls could advocate powerfully, and would resonate far beyond those who voted Labour in 2010, or even those who are currently planning to back the party in 2015…

Survation interviewed 1,121 adults aged 18 and over via online panel on May 24th 2013. The results have been weighted to the profile of all adults, and the data for the question referred to in this post can be found here

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  • LondonStatto

    Step one: ditch Balls.

  • robertcp

    Of course, the voters are quite sensible not to trust Labour on the economy and the nation’s finances after the disasters of 2007-8! Labour did well after 2008 but the damage had already been done.

    • trotters1957

      Low inflation, low unemployment, high growth for a decade.
      I wish the Tories were doing so badly.

      • JoeDM

        What planet are you on? That ‘growth’ was an illusion built on growth of irresponsible government spending, toxic debt and ‘light touch’ regulation. Once the bubble burst and economic reality kicked in our GDP fell by 4%.

        • Quite correct. Labour countered the neoliberal/capitalist crisis with a debt-fueled boom.

          The boom couldn’t last and was bound to end in tears.

          And of course, the unnecessary and disastrous wars initiated by Bush and Blair, with the resulting proliferation of terrorism and instability, will cast long shadows well into the future.

          It’s very difficult to see how One Nation Labour can regain credibility in any sphere without putting clear blue water between themselves and New Labour idiocy.

        • trotters1957

          Not the fact free planet you are on.
          Look at the figures not the Daily Mail.
          Government borrowing was less than 2% of GDP and went on Schools and hospitals primarily, ie. Investment in the future and our health.
          Toxic debt: British personal debt is less than £6,000 per household with over £40,000 average household income.
          Average mortgage debt £55000 is still very low with average house prices of £160,000.
          Debt defaults are still at very low levels.
          There is a lot of nonsense talked about “debt fuelled ” growth and people like you talk it most.

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Spot on trotters 1957. Some elements of the Labour Party were so keen to dismantle New Labour that they were happy to jump on the Tory lie that the whole world wide banking crisis was somehow all Labour’s fault. Thus the fact free planet you refer to, has a totally different version of history to the one that actually happened.
            The current leadership should not have allowed the Tory lies that have now become “factoids” to have taken hold. This may yet prove to be fatal to winning the next election.
            Oh and of course one other shocking thing that Blair did that some in the party really hate, is that he won three general elections in a row. Now those within the party who want to do nothing but trash the last Labour government’s economic record, may find that they have ensured that this election wining record will never be repeated.

    • Chatterclass

      No party predicted the crash. The Tories certainly weren’t arguing for greater regulation. It was an international event. Labour can be criticised- but not blamed. However, after the 2010 election the party went into a leadership election and then a protracted period of navel gazing, when they failed to defend their record. This allowed the story of economic incompetence to develop. A narrative is hard to shift. I am glad that Ed Balls has belatedly recognised the need to do so. Not a moment too soon. The Tories are trying to rerun 1979-1983. We mustn’t do the same.

  • BenM_Kent

    Labour were never going to convince a majority of the electorate a few years after an enormous economic crash that, although not public spending inspired, did happen on our watch.

    Labour can be thankful that the wretched Tories have insisted on pissing away all the unwarranted credibility they had on the issue by imposing foolish Austerity which has resulted in a choking off of Browns 2009-10 recovery, a flatlining economy, chronic unemployment, stagnating deficit and accelerated levels of national debt.

    This leaves the issue in the run up to May 2015 wide open for winning. What we don’t need is meek acceptance of the failed Osbornomics that has got the economy painted into this corner.

    • BenM_Kent

      …which I notice this morning is precisely what Labour are going to do.

      Sheesh. When will we learn?

  • Robin Wilde

    We’re two years off yet and don’t have many widely-publicised policies. One assumes the Tories aren’t doing brilliantly on economic credibility either and we’ve got steady 10-11 point leads (by the way, that is a lower lead than other oppositions have had, but it’s also far steadier than those who went on to lose, having held relatively firm for nearly a year).

    Hold the line, keep the policies trickling through, focus on the tangible economic damage – that is, to people’s lives and people’s services – caused by this government, and we’ll, if not walk it, not have to break too much of a sweat.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Labour don’t appear very credible because they want to spend more, and the narrative is about spending less. And in addition, the Ed Balls appears to be a foolish choice of Shadow Chancellor, as he is greatly associated with some of the completely stupid mistakes that Gordon Brown made.

  • John Ruddy

    No one is trusted with the economy….

    • JoeDM

      And that is the way it should be.

  • I really like Ed Balls but i think the Tories and the Press have done a complete number on him I don’t think the general public will take anything we say on the economy seriously if he is stil in that role. Make him shadow Home Secretary or something.

    • That’s what I’ve been saying also – Balls is combative and a good hitter but he’s too tainted with the Brown regime unfortunately.

    • John Ruddy

      The most recent polling on Ed Balls – done by Lord Ashcroft – shows that only 2% of the electorate recognise him AT ALL, and of those, half recall him as the Schools minister in the last government.
      Only political anoraks will remember “Oh yes, he was the guy who advised Gordon Brown” – while a few others will recall his advice included convincing Brown to keep us out of the Euro….
      If Ed Miliband moves Balls now, it will look like weakness. Which shadow minister will be the tories and the press want to move next?

      • The question is flawed. Recognise his name? his face what? Furthermore, it doesn’t tell you what impression they have of him. Labour has a huge gap of trust on the economy. Who do they blame for that ?

        Additionally what do you think will happen to that number when the media Liberals and Tories all go for him at once? Finally, you contradict yourself a little bit. You say it will demonstrate weakness to move him whilst arguing that people have no idea who he is. So where’s the risk for Labour if only 2% of the electorate notice there’s been a change?

        • John Ruddy

          Because the media will portray Miliband as weak. The public wont necessarily care why, just that people keeping going on about how weak Ed is…

          • Well that depends on who you replace him with surely. You could replace him with Darling or Cooper … Would that be ‘weak’

          • Darling for me, hands down. He was one of the few to come out of the economic crisis with his reputation intact.

          • They already portray him as that. Another problem is both Balls and Miliband don’t particularly like each other. The animosity certainly isn’t at the TB-GB level (how could it possibly be?) but it’s pretty dysfunctional when the two most important shadow cabinet members don’t trust each other. And if Miiband thought the lightweight Alan Johnson was better than Balls why should anyone believe Miliband has confidence in him now?

          • JohnPReid

            I’m not a balls fan, and Ed as my choice for leader has been a let down,but I know for a fact they do get on well,

          • How the hell do you know this for a fact? Do you metamorphosize into a fly so you can nestle on the wall when the two are in the same room so you can see how chummy they are together?

          • JohnPReid

            I was in a room they didn’t know I was there,and they were all chumminess,

  • AlanGiles

    After all these years of belt-tightening, unemployment, food banks etc, I am sure that very stupid jocular note from Liam Byrne “Sorry – there’s no money left”,still jars with the public, who didn’t find it funny at the time.

    Also,of course,this silly little man is still in the shadow cabinet. Then there is Ed Balls……

  • JoeDM

    Both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls careers up to 2010 were closely associated with Gordon Brown so what do you expect ?

  • Monkey_Bach

    In reality who could replace Balls as Shadow Chancellor? Eeek.

    • Kulgan of Crydee

      Alistair Darling. At the moment, Ed Balls is an election asset, but to the Tories.

    • ColinAdkins

      I have long forecast that if there is a hung Parliament Labour will offer the LDs the Chancellorship getting rid of Balls and Clegg in the same deal.

      • Monkey_Bach

        Surely Vince Cable would be too left-wing for any government in which Ed Miliband was Prime Minister. Eeek.

        • ColinAdkins

          Naughty but true. Cable is a social democrat.

    • Alaister Darling?

      We have an obsession with callow young 40 year old ex-spads in modern British politics.

      Hillary, if she runs in 2016, will be 65.

      • Monkey_Bach

        Darling would outshine Miliband, so I would imagine that’s a no go. Eeek.

    • Jeremy_Preece

      His other half perhaps? 🙂

      • Monkey_Bach

        Monkeys are naturally atheistic but all I can say to that is: God Forbid!


        • Jeremy_Preece

          Oh, I thought that monkeys were mostly Hindu, since in Hinduism there is Hanuman, the so called monkey god.
          I thought Hanuman might be the force at work in empowering a monkey to transcend their natural abilities and type ape like comments on to web blogs 🙂

          • Monkey_Bach

            Hindu? What’s a Hindu? Lay eggs? Eeek.

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Boom boom!
            Shame that the music halls are over you could have made a nice living with material like that!
            Still the joke is on me since I realise that I am sitting here, writing in my own name, in my own time responding to a stranger who uses the absurd pseudo name of Monkey_Bach. So I guess that this makes a monkey of me…. “Eeek!”

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  • John Smith

    The 1960’s, 1978 & 2008 leave a legacy that is hard to refute .. .

  • Gabrielle

    Labour have been subjected to a relentless smear campaign which has blamed
    them for a global banking crisis. It’s this which undermines Labour’s credibility and it is these lies which Labour need to be much more assertive about challenging.

    Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Tory voters don’t believe that Labour can be trusted on the economy (which obviously skews the results somewhat),

    That’s true – and the amount of people who vote Tory are steadily dwindling as they flock to UKIP.

    but a worrying 11% of those who voted Labour in 2010 and 9% of those who are currently planning to vote Labour have also failed to be convinced by Labour’s economic plans.

    However, the salient point is that they still intend to vote Labour – presumably because they feel Labour are still the better option, having seen the effects of Tory policies. And 11% and 9% are not actually huge numbers.

    Lib Dem voters – both those who backed the party in 2010 and those who plan to vote Lib Dem now – are also more likely than not to believe that Labour can’t be trusted with the economy.

    Well, quelle surprise. The few LibDems who haven’t deserted their party in disgust are kidding themselves that their party are bending over backwards for the Tories because it’s somehow ‘sorting out Labour’s mess’. Another poll puts LibDem support on 6%.

    • anothernick

      Yes, well said. the message of this poll appears to be that the majority of people either do trust Labour on the economy or are willing to consider doing so. Given the general negativity about politics and unwillingness to trust politicians about anything these results are not particularly surprising.

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  • ColinAdkins

    I think Ed needs to do something radical. I know it is unfair because Ed has been proven right on austerity but he needs to switch Balls. Come on down Rachel Reeves or Chuka.

    • Rachel Reeves has been very disappointing. Umunna loves himself too much for my liking but he might be okay if he can discover some humility.

      • Yes, the only options available are of a bottom of the barrel character.

        The New Labour years have emptied the PLP of talent. Labour now appears to be embarking on the equivalent of the Tory Duncan Smith/Michael Howard era.

        Hilary Benn may be the best of the bunch. It’s a bit of a shot in the dark but he has shown himself to be generally coherent (particularly if compared to muddle-heads like Jim Murphy). And, thanks to his dad, he may score a little higher than most on name recognition.

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  • Does it never occur to the inner circle that many working class voters don’t trust Labour because it did little to help them. It spent time praising bankers instead, and has Liam Byrne in charge of the DWP brief.

    Bring back Peter Hain.

    • Odd isn’t it, how those once considered to be on the Right become the radical option as Labour lurches further to the Right. The same happened with Hattersley.

      How long before Rob Marchant is considered to be part of Labour’s extreme left?

      • Jeremy_Preece

        It’s even odder Dave, that after years of all the parties scrambling to occupy the centre ground, (or at least claim to be), how there is now an even bigger scramble to occupy what was the extreme right.

        • Hugh

          Cutting a hand out for well off pensioners is an “extreme right” position?

        • Indeed. We now hear once respectable Tories blaming immigrants for the failure of Tory NHS policies.

          I suppose it’ll make the probable hook-up with UKIP much more comfortable.

          Thank heavens for people like Dr Clare Gerada (Chair of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners) for introducing facts* into the discussion and pointing out that immigrants are relatively low users of the NHS.


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  • Russ Thomas

    The article writer seems to think that trust in Labour’s financial management requires that they mimic the infantile idiocy of Osborne economics. Maybe for a few this is so – but for the vast majority of potential Labour voters, what they are waiting for is an announcement of grown up’s economic policy of GROWTH, without benefits and services cuts.

  • markfergusonuk

    How on earth did you get that from what I wrote?

  • Jeremy_Preece

    I think that the point is that the spend less austerity is actually the cause of the economy flat lining.
    Don’t forget that the so called reforms of Cameron and Osborne have cost money, the “reform” (aka privatisation) of the NHS has cost billions, the waste of money on police commissioners that the electorate didn’t want, and so on.
    The point is that when cuts are made they result also in a loss of revenue. If you cut and cut so that you make millions unemployed then all of the businesses that served the now unemployed also loose out, some go out of business and more people end up on the dole rather than working and paying taxes.
    The austerity narrative is flawed and will end up going nowhere. It has never worked in history and it is doing what it always has done, which is to kill the economy. An alternative narrative therefore is actually the right way to go. We need some investment and some major infrastructure projects to kick start the economy.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    Absolutely correct Chatterclass, on all points!

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  • Richard Williams

    Would you hand the car keys back to the idiots who put the car in the ditch? No. They have no credibility at all.

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  • Guest

    The Labour Party have a serious issue: amnesia, literally, amnesia. I’ll never trust Labour again. Brown, Ed & Balls, Brown, Ed & Balls, blubbering babbling fools.

  • John Williams

    Brown, Ed & Balls – amnesia, the Labour party have amnesia – lest we forget how they led the uk into that awful recession. Me is now conservative since.

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