Politics, Government & Current Affairs

Ed Balls and Perceptions of Labour’s Economic Policy – A Relative Game (Mail on Sunday)

The “Bad”

A recent poll conducted by Survation this weekend found that 49% of respondents ‘do not have a clear view on Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls’ economic policies’, while just 19% of those surveyed do. 44% of those surveyed said they would describe Ed Balls as an ‘opportunist’, with just 19% describing him as ‘principled’. 13% said that they would describe him as ‘charismatic’ versus 48% who would not. Similarly, 48% of respondents said that they would not describe the Shadow Chancellor as ‘likeable’ compared to 17% who would and 47% would not describe him as ‘trustworthy’ while 17% would.

The “not so bad”

When asked which team- David Cameron and George Osborne or Ed Miliband and Ed Balls- they would trust to lead the UK out of recession, opinion was still very tight. 29% opted for Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Osborne, while 28% chose Labour Leader Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. 43% picked ‘don’t know’. Finally, a significant proportion (40%) of those asked agreed with the statement: ‘the Labour Party needs to accept more responsibility for their economic actions in government’. 26% said that Labour does not need to accept more responsibility, while 34% ticked ‘don’t know’.

The “relatively good”

Ed Balls- and indeed Labour more generally- should not be too disheartened by our latest findings, however, as we have previously found in other surveys that on other measures Ed Ball has an advantage over his opposite George Osborne and the Prime Minister David Cameron. Our poll on 7th April found that he was far less likely to be seen as ‘snobbish’ (10%) than David Cameron (40%) or George Osborne (33%), and much more likely to be seen as ‘in touch’  (9%) (select one of 7 options) than George Osborne (1%).

The poll also found that Ed Balls is less likely to be described as ‘posh’ (12%) compared to David Cameron (65%) or George Osborne (43%), a factor that we found does negatively affect some voters electoral choices.

Finally, the Shadow Chancellor did exceptionally well when we asked ‘which politician do you think would drive the best bargain when purchasing an item at a car boot sale’, topping the list at 26%, above George Osborne (13%) and David Cameron (9%). This may seem a bit of an “off the wall” question but we thought that it may indicate the public’s general confidence in a politician to secure a goal through negotiation.

In the immediate aftermath of the Budget, our 25th March survey (also for The Mail on Sunday) we found that Ed Balls beat George Osborne on the question ‘who do you trust most on the economy’ by 29% to 28%. This finding was replicated in our Jubilee poll on 3rd June, with 28% of respondents saying that they trust Ed Balls most on the economy,  26% selecting George Osborne.

Finally, despite the danger of stating the obvious, politicians are not held in particularly high regard in these times by the general public.

Although not directly comparable, looking at  “Ipsos-Mori’s Veracity Index 2011” in answer to the question on perceived truthfulness in various occupations “..would you tell me if you generally trust them to tell the truth or not” Government Ministers scored only 17%.

by Charlotte Jee

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