British voters back Hollande’s anti-austerity agenda

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I'm speaking at the launch event of a new think tank - the Centre for Labour and Social Studies - tomorrow.

Today CLASS has published a new survey, showing overwhelming support from British voters for the anti-austerity policies championed by the new Socialist President of France.

Despite 69 per cent of those surveyed being unaware that 90 per cent of Government spending cuts are yet to take effect, the results show overwhelming support for anti-austerity policies championed by Hollande, which include a raft of measures to kick-start growth; expand educational opportunities for young people; redistribute wealth; and embark on a house building programme of 500,000 extra homes a year. Furthermore the results show that 50 per cent of those who voted for the Conservatives at the last election think the redistribution of wealth from the richest in society is important.

The full results of the survey will be unveiled at Class’s launch seminar: Towards 2015 - Strategies for Jobs and Growth in London tomorrow (Saturday, 26 May).

While reducing the deficit is considered ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’ by 85 per cent of those polled, 95 per cent consider creating jobs and reducing unemployment, and encouraging economic growth as  ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important.

Measures that are supported to get the economy moving include:

  • establishing a publicly-owned bank that will lend to small and medium businesses (74 per cent strongly support or tend to support)
  • providing more financial support for young people from low income families, so they can better afford to go to college or university (73 per cent strongly support or tend to support)
  • a national programme of building 500,000 extra homes a year, including 150,000 new council houses (64 per cent strongly support or tend to support).

Class’s survey follows hard on the heels of this week’s warning by Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF that the UK’s growth is too slow and unemployment is too high – and that policies to boost demand are needed.

I am not surprised: the Tories tried to sell the idea of austerity to the people of this country on the basis that the credit card was maxed out. But what people now realise is that whilst for some that's true, for others like bankers, the rich and large companies, the credit is still flowing but that they're paying for it.

The result is that people have now seen through the facade of Osborne's toy-town economics and know that there has to be an alternative to his programme of austerity. Francoise Hollande is showing that there is - and that he can get electoral backing for it. The demand for Plan B in the UK got an enormous boost as a result.

I welcome the creation of CLASS - it's another step on the way to creating the alternative narrative we need - and which many already support.