Osborne receives backing from the City

Shadow Chancellor's approval rating soars in Independent survey

George Osborne’s reputation among businessmen has bounced back after his speech to the Tory conference outlining tough measures to rein in public spending.

Labour has branded the shadow Chancellor the Tories’ “Achilles heel” and a “boy in a man’s job” and tried to exploit doubts in the City of London about his credentials.

But a ComRes survey of 184 leading businessmen for The Independent found a dramatic improvement in Mr Osborne’s ratings since his conference speech, in which he announced plans to freeze public sector pay, raise the state retirement age and curb tax credits for people on middle incomes.

The number of businessmen who say they are confident in Mr Osborne’s ability jumped from 36 per cent last month to 55 per cent this month. The proportion who think he is “out of his depth” dropped from 46 to 36 per cent, while the number who believe he “lacks experience” fell from 75 to 68 per cent.

Seven out of 10 business leaders believe the shadow Chancellor understands business, up slightly from 65 per cent last month; 64 per cent think he has the right ideas about how to manage the British economy, up from 49 per cent.

Seventy-three per cent feel he would make a better chancellor than Alistair Darling, compared to 60 per cent last month. In contrast, Mr Darling’s “confidence rating” has dropped from 25 to 21 per cent in the past month, while Gordon Brown’s rating remained at 20 per cent.

Mr Cameron’s “confidence rating” rose from 60 to 67 per cent, while Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury spokesman, who was criticised after launching plans for a “mansion tax”, saw his rating slip a little from 60 to 58 per cent.

Nick Clegg enjoys the confidence of 24 per cent of businessmen (up from 20 per cent last month). Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary (41 per cent) is outgunned by his Tory counterpart Kenneth Clarke, the most highly-rated politician among business leaders on 73 per cent.

According to ComRes, business leaders see little sign of “green shoots” in the economy. The proportion who detect signs of recovery in their sector dropped slightly from 49 to 48 per cent over the past month. The number who see no signs of recovery rose from 41 to 43 per cent.

This finding chimes with yesterday’s official figures showing that Britain remains in recession, dashing the Government’s hopes of a return to growth.

Ministers insisted Britain was still on course to achieve the Chancellor’s Budget prediction of growth by the turn of the year, and that the Treasury always expected negative growth in the third quarter. But the figures undermined Labour’s claims that Britain is “better placed” to withstand the slowdown in the global economy. Mr Brown said last month that “we are now coming out of recession” and Mr Darling said on Wednesday: “The worst of the recession is behind us.”

Mr Osborne said the “deeply disappointing” figures showed the Government’s anti-recession measures were not working. He added: “There are many millions of people who will be deeply concerned to see that Britain is still in recession six months after France and Germany came out of recession. It destroys the myth that Britain was better prepared.”

Mr Cable said that despite the Government's stimulus package, the economy still faced massive structural problems: “This news adds to serious concerns over the realism of Government plans to deal with the burgeoning public debt. It is critical ministers spell out a credible path as to how they will deal with the deficit.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before