Con-Dem Nation,  UK Politics

Clegg suffers dramatic loss of public support

Nick Clegg can try all he likes to sell the rise in VAT and other elements of the coalition’s emergency budget, but voters aren’t buying the role the Lib Dems are playing in it. A YouGov poll in The Observer today says that Clegg faces a fierce public backlash.

Apparently people remember Clegg campaigning two months ago against the “Tory VAT bombshell”.Was there small print? In the event of an electoral explosion this progrssive left/centre party you have voted for might turn out to be hopeless Tory.

The YouGov poll is huge. It says a whopping 48% of those who voted Lib Dem at the election are now less likely to do so again. Such a swing could prove catastrophic and for those Lib Dem MPs already having reservation about the infant coalition the poll will make for sobering reading. A swing of even half of that 48% is likely to turf many Lib Dems out of their seats. They’ll be losers.

But well paid MPs selling out their principles aren’t the real losers. A Fabian/Landman Economics study also reported in The Observer today says that the emergency budget will hit the poor six times harder than the very richest.

The study says the poorest 10% of households (earning under £14,200) will see a cut equivalent to more than 20% of their income while those earning more than £49,700 losing just 3.6%.

Howard Reed, the director of Landman Economics, said: “A lot of public spending is ‘pro-poor’, with poorer households receiving a greater value of services to meet their extra welfare needs. Because of this, cuts in public spending tend to hit the poorest hardest.”

Of course the deficit needs to be cut, but the way the way the Tories have gone about it is the way that they have always gone about business with a ruthless disregard for fairness. The budget is a right wing ideological excercise. David Cameron and George Osborne had choices and they made them. Clegg inexplicably, pawn like, defends them.

The whole thing read like a modern day enactment of the scropion and the frog/fox fable — a story that like this coalition can only end in betrayal.

Today’s poll represents  a major opportunity for Labour and as David Miliband writes that means the next party leader “will need to not only fly the flag for fairness, not just oppose cuts that hurt the vulnerable, but provide an alternative economic vision that deals with the crisis while never losing sight of the fairer and more prosperous future we want to create”.