Voters have given an "a-plague-on-both-your-houses" verdictby Peter Kellner / March 18, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: The numbers in the Budget just don’t add up
As a loyal Conservative backbencher, Boris Johnson doubtless wishes George Osborne well. London’s Mayor will be hoping —won’t he?—that the public will approve of this week’s Budget, and see it as a springboard for a prosperous future, flowing from successful Conservative policies.
If so, Boris will be severely disappointed by YouGov’s post-Budget poll for The Times. It finds that this is the second least popular Budget since the Tories returned to government, and that the Chancellor’s personal rating is on the slide.
Only the omnishambles Budget of 2012 went down worse. Then, of course, Osborne made some obvious political errors, such as the pasty tax. This time, he must have hoped that his political antennae were better tuned to the public mood. He did not increase fuel duty (despite the fiscal and environmental case for doing so, following the sharp fall in oil prices), nor did he upset millions of people by undertaking a fundamental reform of our creaking pension tax-relief system.
True, he did announce a sugar tax, and got roundly condemned for this by the Sun and Mirror (which unusually embraced the same anti-government cause). But YouGov’s survey finds that the public rather like the idea, with 62 per cent backing it and only 27 per cent regarding it as the wrong priority.
No, Osborne’s real problem is a return of economic gloom. Before Christmas there were signs of rising optimism. In Late November, 39 per cent thought the economy was recovering. Not a brilliant figure, to be sure—but far better than the post-Budget verdict. Now just 25 per cent say the economy is on the mend. Only slightly more, 28 per cent, think the Budget is fair.
That’s not all. Only 13 per cent think this week’s Budget will leave…