Reputation Survey: Public unimpressed by Cabinet reshuffle

Latest survey reveals the decision to retain Chancellor George Osborne and reintroduce David Laws to the Cabinet has damaged the Government's reputation.

Critical: OnePoll's word cloud reveals respondents opinion of the coalition government
Critical: OnePoll's word cloud reveals respondents opinion of the coalition government

The public feels George Osborne was David Cameron's biggest missed opportunity when it came to cleaning out the coalition Cabinet during the reshuffle, new research shows.

PRWeek/OnePoll's latest survey revealed the Chancellor was by far the least popular of those to remain.

While 29 per cent said Osborne most deserved to leave the Cabinet, this figure rose to 40 per cent in Scotland, a traditionally difficult territory for the Conservatives.

There was further bad news for the Liberal Democrats. Sixty-three per cent believed that Nick Clegg's position had weakened in the past six months, and the party will have a tough time persuading voters that bringing back David Laws as education minister was a good idea. Fifty-six per cent of respondents said his reintroduction damaged the Government's reputation.

In Cameron's reshuffle, interpreted in the media as a shift to the political right, the Prime Minister also risked alienating younger voters - 23 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds said they would be less likely to vote for the coalition as a result of the changes.

Following the departure of transport minister Justine Greening, who is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport, the likelihood of a U-turn on airport expansion has increased, according to survey respondents.

Those aged over 55 were most cynical about government pledges that the policy has not changed. Of this group, 48 per cent expected a U-turn.

Survey of 2,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll

HOW I SEE IT


Jim Dickson, Director, Four Communications

I don't believe even the Government's staunchest supporters expected the reshuffle to be a political game-changer and this survey demonstrated they were right.

But given the limited terms within which changes of personnel can make a difference, the statistics do not make good reading for David Cameron. Unpopular senior players that the public wanted to be shifted have stayed. Others that the court of public opinion judged as candidates for the sack - notably the new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt - have been promoted.

A chink of light for No 10 can be found in Ed Miliband's poor score - only four per cent of respondents said he was doing a very good job in opposition - which doesn't suggest a PM in waiting.

The PM might also be heartened that the Government's own confusion over whether to support Heathrow expansion finds a ready echo in the public response, which appears similarly divided between the pros and antis.

Key stats

WEAKER CLEGG

 63% of respondents said that Nick Clegg's position appeared weaker now than six months ago

NO CHANGE

55% said the Cabinet reshuffle would not make any difference

STAYING PUT

40% said they believed the coalition would remain in place until the next scheduled general election in 2015

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