GEORGE Osborne’s Budget is chiefly responsible for the Conservative party’s recent tumble in the opinion polls, according to our readers’ panel.
The single biggest reason our panellists gave for Conservative support crumbling in recent weeks was simply the Budget as a whole, with one in five blaming Osborne’s entire red book for the party’s recent perception problems.
The cap on charity relief has been the most unpopular of the Budget’s new policies for voters, according to our Voice of the City poll, run in conjunction with PoliticsHome.
The coalitions’ other major tax plans – Granny and pasty – are close behind in their unpopularity with the electorate.
But when it comes to their own opinions, our panellists are somewhat more upbeat about the government’s financial plans.
They gave the coalition’s handling of last month’s Budget 4.3 marks out of 10, which is far more optimistic than their verdict on individual Budget policies.
The government’s advice during the fuel tanker strike threats was viewed even more dimly, with our panel awarding its handling of the issue an average of 2.4 marks.
And 15 per cent believe the coalition’s behaviour during the strike threat, including Francis Maude’s gaffe about hoarding petrol in jerry cans, has been the single most damaging issue for the party’s polling levels.
If there was an election tomorrow, more than four in ten panellists believe the country would return a Tory-led coalition to Westminster.
However, a third believe a hung parliament with Labour as the biggest party would be the likeliest outcome.
Just 12 per cent reckon the Conservatives would win outright if the country went to the polls tomorrow – a whisker ahead of the 10 per cent who predicted a Labour victory.