Public point finger at Osborne ahead of reshuffle

Osborne's Budget U-turns and his handling of the economy appear to have dented his popularity with the public
Osborne's Budget U-turns and his handling of the economy appear to have dented his popularity with the public

By staff

George Osborne is the most unpopular senior member of the Cabinet, another poll has suggested.

Public opinion appears to have turned decisively against the chancellor in the wake of this year's Budget and amid the ongoing double-dip recession.

Research by ICM for the Guardian newspaper found 24% saying they thought Osborne was doing a good job – and 56% saying he is doing a bad job.

His net job satisfaction rating of minus 32% compares to minus 12% for David Cameron and minus 36% for Nick Clegg.

Neither of the two coalition party leaders' jobs are at risk in the impending Cabinet reshuffle. But Osborne's position remains theoretically vulnerable.

Forty-eight per cent felt they thought Osborne should be sacked, a higher proportion than any other senior minister. Health secretary Andrew Lansley came in second with 37% wanting him out. Michael Gove on 36%, Ken Clarke on 28% and Jeremy Hunt on 24% were next on voters' hitlists.

Of those ministers it is Clarke who appears the most vulnerable. The Tory veteran of Margaret Thatcher and John Major's Cabinets has insisted he is "laid back" about the prospect of losing his job, but has made clear he would rather press on with the liberalising criminal justice reforms which have made him such an obvious target for Tory right-wingers.

Following their wishes would mean Cameron would have to go against those of voters, polling is suggesting.

A Survation survey for the Mail on Sunday newspaper found 44% of voters want Clarke to remain in the Cabinet, compared with 27% who want him out of office.

That contrasts with 43% wanting Cameron to fire his chancellor, compared to 28% thinking Osborne should remain at No 11.

The prime minister will be returning from a break in Cornwall in the middle of the week where he is expected to continue work on the reshuffle.

The Guardian/ICM poll put the Conservatives unchanged on 34%, five points down on Labour's equally static 39%. The Liberal Democrats were up one point to 15%.


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