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Sunday, 11 March, 2001, 06:59 GMT
Voters give thumbs up to Budget
News Online 1000 graphic
By BBC News Online's political correspondent Nick Assinder

Gordon Brown's pre-election Budget appears to have received a massive thumbs up from voters.

An ICM poll for BBC News Online suggests an overwhelming 63% approve of Mr Brown's package - even though the majority don't think they will be better off as a result. Only 23% disapproved of it.

And, in a piece of bad news for William Hague, even 36% of Tory voters who took part liked what the chancellor did last week.

The figures indicate that Mr Brown managed to pull off the delicate balancing trick of limiting tax cuts to specific groups while still increasing spending in the key areas of health and education.

Only one in 10 people believe they will be worse off as a result of his taxation and spending measures.

However, the bad news for the government is that voters clearly believe the Budget failed to do enough to help pensioners and motorists.

Gordon Brown; high satisfaction rating with voters
Gordon Brown; high satisfaction rating with voters

A majority of 58% of those questioned said they believe the chancellor should have done more to help pensioners, while a massive 72% wanted more cuts in petrol tax.

Some 49% thought he had not done enough for motorists overall. Only 33% thought he had got it right for drivers.

That will worry ministers who have been eager to placate the two groups after last summer's crisis which saw the government plunge to its lowest ever poll ratings as a result of protests over fuel tax and pensions.

The poll suggests that an overwhelming 65% of people are satisfied with the chancellor's performance, including 35% of Tories and 91% of Labour voters.

The figures will delight the government and help secure Gordon Brown's reputation as the most successful Labour chancellor ever.

Disappointment for Tories

However, the poll will make disappointing reading for William Hague and shadow chancellor Michael Portillo whose charge that Labour is all about raising taxes clearly has not stuck.

Exactly half of those polled now believe Labour is the best party on the economy, an increase of 8% over last month's BBC News Online poll.

Support for the Tories as the most trusted party to run the economy has plummeted over 10% from 33% last month to just 22% now.

Mr Brown's Budget was greeted with almost universal praise and many in the press suggested it made a spring election a certainty. These results would appear to underline the message.

It is usual that any post-Budget euphoria wears off fairly rapidly and Tony Blair will be under intense pressure to seize on the current advantage and call the election sooner rather than later.

ICM interviewed 1032 adults aged 18+ via the Internet and by telephone between the 8th and 10th March 2001. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

The BBC News Online 1000 will continue to give their opinions on political issues over the coming months as momentum builds towards a general election.

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See also:

10 Mar 01 | UK Politics
17 Feb 01 | UK Politics

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