The chart that spells election trouble for the Tories

The last election was about the economy: the macro, hard-to-understand stuff like the debt and the deficit, the credit rating and quantitative easing. The Tories did a brilliant job of framing the debate so it became about Labour’s recession and how they would get the car out of the ditch.

That framing still shapes how people think about the economy. Even this far since the election, more people blame Labour for the spending cuts than blame the government. More than twice as many people say the cuts are necessary as say they’re unnecessary. If the next election is fought on those terms, the Tories will have a real advantage.

But the Tories’ lead on the economy is less important if people stop worrying about it. And that’s what seems to be happening.

MORI’s issues index (most important issues facing the country) shows the proportion who say the economy is one of the top issues has fallen by over a third since 2011. Only 2 in 5 now say it’s one of the main issues, while worries about unemployment have remained steady.

At the same time, poverty/inequality and inflation/prices have been rising as issues for the last couple of years:

The Tories still lead Labour on being best at handling the economy in general (currently 30% to 25%).

But among people who aren’t currently planning on voting Tory, nearly two thirds say they only represent the interests of the rich.

If the election is about living standards, rising prices and inequality – and not the debt and the deficit – it’ll be Labour who have the advantage.

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