However, these grim figures are not terminal. Theoretically, this parliament has another four and half years to run. More than 60 percent of the population believe cuts are necessary, but 75 percent contest that retrenchment must come this fast. That's healthy scepticism rather than mass-revulsion. Providing the coalition holds, time is on its side. The longer Labour opposes measures that the majority recognise as necessary, the more credible the government becomes.
But these results key into this week’s predominant theme: the coalition must make a clearer case for arresting Britain’s decline now. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been voluble; but the message is yet to cut through. To be fair, it hasn’t had the chance to as the government’s only just begun to make it. There is no need to run in flight at this poll.