By Tim Montgomerie
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On first reading the latest YouGov poll for The Sunday Times makes grim reading for the Chancellor (see this PDF). Only 17% think he's doing a good job, 67% think he's doing a bad job. Overall 30% think the Coalition is managing the economy well but 61% think it is managing it badly. 11% think their financial situation may get better over the next 12 months – 52% expect it to get worse.
Some of the other numbers are much more encouraging, however. 57% believe that spending should be cut more or cuts should be maintained at their current pace. Only 25% want slower spending cuts.
43% already believe that the Chancellor's economic strategy is working or expect it to work. 45% say it's not working and it's unlikely to work. Given the constant gloom from the BBC and written media about the Chancellor's performance those numbers will encourage Number 11. My strong belief – and, much more importantly, the almost universal expectation of forecasters – is that growth will pick up over the final two years of the parliament. The UK is not set to roar ahead but it is Lord Lawson's belief – set out on Radio 4 yesterday – that even modest progress will be enough to persuade voters that the pain has not been without purpose or benefit.
Osborne will then run the double message that saw Obama re-elected –
- We've come a long way and it's been hard, but don't turn back;
- Don't hand the keys back to the guys who drove it into the ditch in the first place.
I will blog again after the Chancellor's interview on the Andrew Marr show. Hopefully he'll be asked about a report in today's Sun that he's preparing a big boost for the housebuilding sector. The Sun dresses him up as Bob the builder. An image for his toilet wall, perhaps… One piece that he won't be keeping, however is Lord Ashcroft's Mail on Sunday article. The owner of this blog and former party treasurer warns the Chancellor that he's heading for "trouble at the mill" if he doesn't do a lot more to convince people that he's on their side.