More evidence has emerged today of the popularity of cuts in the level of public spending, from the most unlikely source: Harriet Harman. New research by Guido Fawkes suggests that the public are not only enthusiastic for tax cuts, they are actively in favour of lower spending.
Guido ran a survey of yesterday's Prime Ministers Question Time using MindTracker, a system that allows people to continually vote positively or negatively on what they hear throughout a speech or debate. This allows you to assess public opinion not just to a whole argument or speech but to specific bits.
Overall, according to the MindTracker analysis, William Hague won the PMQs session versus Harriet Harman. Tellingly, though, there was a notable jump in Tory support when Harriet said they were planning immediate cuts in public spending. No doubt she thought this would damn them in the eyes of the public, but it is apparently actively popular amongst Tory, Labour and floating voters.
The data is shown in the below graph. The higher the line, the stronger the support for Hague. The boxes along the top chart good points for Hague, the boxes at the bottom chart good points for Harman. The first box at the top left points to the moment when Harman said "they have got proposals to cut public spending now", when support for Hague takes a leap upwards. The orange line is floating voters, the red line is lefties and the blue line is right wingers (this was based on a series of questions at the outset of the test).
It is now eight months since the Tories rightly took the decision to ditch their pledge to match Labour's excessive spending plans. Since taking that first step they have been nervous about going any further towards pledging lower spending. If the idea is demonstrably popular amongst floating and Labour voters, even when it is expressed in a hostile tone by an enemy seeking to use it to discredit them, then that should spur them on towards taking the plunge that taxpayers and the economy at large so desperately need.