Trust in Tories slides as George Osborne blames Europe for Britain's double dip
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Wednesday 16 May 2012
The Conservatives have lost their lead over Labour on economic competence as doubts grow about the "austerity strategy" pursued by the Coalition and governments across Europe.
Attempts by George Osborne, the Chancellor, to blame Britain's return to recession on the eurozone crisis were undermined by official figures showing that the German economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the first three months of this year, while France escaped recession by flatlining at zero growth.
Speaking in Brussels, Mr Osborne insisted the uncertainty over the euro and the troubles in Greece were having an impact in Britain. He said: "This is a time of considerable uncertainly in the eurozone economies and that uncertainty is undermining the entire European recovery and we are reaching a point where we have to make a decision. We have to see the eurozone standing behind their currency."
Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said: "With Germany, France and the eurozone as a whole avoiding recession, it's now clear that Britain's double-dip recession was made in Downing Street by David Cameron and George Osborne's failed economic policies. As even the credit rating agencies now recognise, extreme austerity is self-defeating."
Labour has trailed the Conservatives on economic trust since the 2010 election after many voters blamed the deficit on the last Labour Government. But two polls published yesterday found that the two main parties are now running neck and neck on the issue.
YouGov showed that 27 per cent of people regarded Labour as the best party to handle the economy, while 26 per cent opted for the Tories, the first time they have not been ahead on the issue since the election. Only 8 per cent named the Liberal Democrats.
Ipsos MORI gave the Tories (on 31 per cent) a tiny one-point lead over Labour on the economy – down from the 10-point advantage they enjoyed last September. It also showed that Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg's personal ratings have slumped to a record low. The Prime Minister has a net approval rating –the number of people satisfied with his performance minus those dissatisfied – of minus 28 per cent, while Mr Clegg's is down to minus 39 per cent. Ed Miliband remains little changed on minus 16 per cent.
That's some guestlist! Stunning images show huge dynastic wedding between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families which attracted 25,000 guests
Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
Exclusive: Suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
Seeing the larger picture: Inspiring images of space
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 5 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.