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Cable is public's choice for chancellor

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 29 March 2010

A Yougov/Channel4 poll finds Vince Cable more popular than Alistair Darling or George Osborne as potential chancellor - and voters want whoever wins to start cutting the deficit this year.

George Osborne, Alistair Darling and Vince Cable

Almost half of voters expressing a preference think the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable, would make a better Chancellor than his Labour or Tory counterparts.

A Yougov/Channel 4 poll carried out on the eve of tonight's Ask The Chancellors debate on Channel 4 asked voters of all parties which of the three men would be best for the job. 26 per cent picked Mr Cable, against 17 per cent for the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, with only 12 per cent opting for the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne.

Even among Tory voters, Mr Cable was neck and neck with their own candidate, with 28 per cent to Mr Osborne's 29 per cent. Labour voters showed more confidence in their man, with 48 per cent backing Mr Darling.

Yougov's Associate Director Anthony Wells said the poll showed Vince Cable was the public’s choice as best Chancellor.

"Cable unsurprisingly leads amongst Liberal Democrat supporters, but Conservative voters are also evenly split between Cable and their own shadow Chancellor, George Osborne", he said. 

"However, for a large proportion of people the three potential candidates remain unknown quantities - 45% of people said they didn’t know who they would prefer”.

Channel 4 News chancellor poll
- Click here to download the poll results (.xls)

The poll found more support, however, for Conservative policy on the deficit. Asked whether the next government should hold off cutting the deficit this year "as it could put the recovery at risk" - current government policy, backed by the Lib Dems - only 26 per cent agreed.

But twice as many, 52 per cent, backed the alternative view - that of the Conservatives - that the next government should start cutting the deficit this year as "the longer they leave it, the worse it will get".

Voters showed a preference for public spending cuts rather than tax rises. Asked what the next government should do in the event that it has to find more money than it  expects, 30 per cent said it should increase taxes more than planned "in order to limit the impact on public services", but 55 per cent preferred to "reduce spending more than planned, in order NOT to increases taxes further".

And in a message for all three parties, more than two thirds of voters - 68 per cent - felt that the parties "could and should set out in far more detail their plans for taxes and spending over the next two or three years".  Only 21 per cent agreed that it was "reasonable for the parties not do decide yet in detail what they will do about taxes or public spending", as we don't know what will happen to the economy over the next few years.       

The poll, carried out by Yougov, sampled 1,614 adults on the 28th and 29th of March.

This evening the three men are to come face to face in an unprecedented primetime televised election debate, which will be screened live at 8pm on Channel 4 and also streamed here on

The debate will feature questions from both a live studio audience and Channel 4 News anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

And viewers can add their comments via our live blog on the website, and take part in an online vote on which of the candidates has performed best.

This morning Mr Osborne dramatically attempted to seize the policy initiative on debate day with a plan to part-reverse a rise in National Insurance, planned by the government for April 2011.

The Shadow Chancellor said taxpayers earning between £7,100 and £45,400 would save up to £150 a year under his proposals. Employers would also see their contributions reduced.

Mr Osborne said the cost would be paid for by cutting £6bn of government "waste".

In the debate, Mr Osborne is also expected to outline his more immediate, faster approach to cutting Britain's record budget deficit.

Mr Darling is expected to concentrate on his stewardship of the economy during the crisis which saw the official recession draw to a close in December.

Mr Cable is expected to stress what he argues is a more transparent approach to public spending cuts.




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