As usual the Sunday Times commissioned questions on a wide range of subjects, so here are some of the other findings from the weekend poll.

The Beijing Olympics. 49% of people said they would support a boycott of the Olympics by British athletes in response to China’s policy in Darfur and their past record.

Rowan Williams. The story seems to have blown over now, and there were no polls on the issue at the time. The YouGov poll found that 67% of respondents thought the Archbishop had damaged his authority through his comments. People were eqaully split on whether he should stand down as Archbishop of Cantabury, with 40% agreeing and 40% disagreeing.

National identity. Asked to chose just one word to describe themselves, 42% of people chose British, 54% chose one of the constituent nationalities. The YouGov tables don’t offer a single break for England, but in the English breaks people identifying primarily as English and people identifying primarily as British are pretty evenly matched. In Scotland 68% of people identified themselves primarily as Scottish, with only 22% saying British.

Phone tappling. YouGov gave respondents a list of scenarios and asked whether it would be appropriate for the authorities to tap telephones under those circumstances. Large majorities were opposed to the authorities bugging people organising peaceful demostrations against the government or trade unionists planning a strike (though even in those circumstances 9% and 8% of people respectively thought bugging would be OK with just the permission of a senior police officer). Only 34% objected to the bugging of people planning illegal (but non-violent) protests. For people suspected of more serious offences there was overwhelming support for the principle of bugging – 88% thought it fine to bug suspected drug dealers, 91% suspected terrorists. In both cases a majority thought only the permission of a senior police officer should be necessary.

There was, however, some support for the idea that conversations with lawyers or MPs should be sacrosanct. 28% thought suspected drug dealers conversations with lawyers should not be monitored. 22% thought suspected terrorists conversations with their lawyers shouldn’t be moderated. For conversations with MPs the figures were 23% and 18%.

27 Responses to “More from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll”

  1. Usual stuff on British/regional question. One would expect that giving people only would word to describe themselves will get this kind of response…

  2. one word.. not would word… I have new keyboard. It makes typing difficult…

  3. Anthony,

    Where are the detailed tables, I still can’t get the PDF to display them even when I try “Click Here”.

    The 68% Scottish doesn’t surprise me, but then like Independence/devolution you get a higher score when it’s one or the other rather than “mostly”. I think the religious question is interesting as a only 1%, it seems to underestimate the UK’s Muslim population.

    I know YouGov goes to lengths to have a balanced panel for it’s surveys but I wonder if it can get a panel that is balanced both politically and religiously.


  4. here:

    I think the actual proportion of Muslims in Great Britain is somewhere around 2-3%, though for over 18s it will be lower, since the Muslim population is heavily slanted toward young people and children.

    Religion isn’t used as a weighting variable by any of the pollsters (presumably because of the huge variation in how people discribe themselves as you blur between Christians and people with no real religious belief at all, but who are “culturally” christian. Asian women are a very difficult demographic to poll – it’s one of the hurdles in polls of British Muslims – so unless a pollster went to particular lengths to get a religiously representative poll it probably wouldn’t be.

  5. Anthony,

    Thanks that’s great.

    Scotland’s scores are; Labour 36%, SNP 30%, Tories 16%, LibDems 12%, Others 6%. Which seems to me pretty realistic for the moment with the SNP doing well but behind labour in Scotland for Westminster.

    The Tories would be happy with this but hoping for better, and the Libdems have polled lower recently. So pretty much someone for everyone.

    Brown still ahead of Cameron in Scotland, the reverse of the UK (on who best they are 40% to 15% as opposed to 25% to 31%), while Clegg lags behind his UK level.

    against stereotype Scots are still more optimistic about the economy and house prices.

    Scots not surprisingly aren’t anywhere near as keen to connect Britishness with British History or the empire, but marginally higher on tolerance and fairplay.

    Finally we seem more pro democrat than republican and have Obama a little higher on 40% 10 points ahead of Hilary, pretty much what you would expect from a part of the UK in general to the left of the rest of the nations.

    All in all although I had expected ( and yes hoped) to see the impact of the scottish budget, this poll looks like the same stability as the UK has settled in up here too.


  6. Interestingly Conservative voters are the most likely to agree to *not* tax ‘non-doms’–against their party’s much-publicised policy.

  7. Anthony:-

    Religion isn’t used as a weighting variable by any of the pollsters

    Thank God for that.

  8. Conservatives, I note, are the most keen to see the back of Rowan Williams. Also, Conservatives are most likely to be Christians, Lib Dems are most likely to have no religion.

    I think that religious belief (or lack of it) correlates quite strongly with political affiliation.

  9. Is there any chance of YouGov splitting the Midlands/Wales region into its English and Welsh parts? Otherwise, the question asking about national identity doesn’t produce useful results for either the Welsh nor the English living in the Midlands.

  10. Intrigued by Peter’s comment about Scots not wanting to connect Britishness to the empire.. Scotland always saw itself as an integral part of the empire (driving force even?) and it is only since the collapse of empire that the SNP have grown to fill the a space left by the decline of the tories… Is the SNP trying to dissociate Scotland from the british Empire….?

  11. Alasdair,

    Scots were instrumental in many aspects of the empire with Glasgow it’s second city.

    But it was a city built on slaves and the tobacco they were forced to grow and a city that throughout the Empires so called golden age was rife with poverty and in equality.

    So I suspect the Scottish attitude to empire is a bit like our attitude to WW2, we are proud we stood up to fascism but not of the fact that we firebombed Hamburg. We don’t have a “We Won the War” attitude, but a respect for those who were willing to die to keep us free.

    It’s more stoic that triumphal. We did what we did and that’s it.

    It’s not about saying the Empire was nothing to do with us but rather, It did Scotland a huge amount of good but it did so by inflicting huge misery on others.

    That’s something we should teach our children to understand, but not to be proud of.

    I don’t really see it as a decline of the Tories and the rise of the SNP, but the generation who volunteered and were cheered by the crowds as the marched off to the front in 1914 are all gone now as is the education system that invoked Britannia and Empire to their children.

    We look back at the empire now much more clearly seeing it warts and all and I think we are better for that.


  12. Anthony,

    “English” was actually slightly more popular than “British” in all 3 England-only regions; and English + Welsh was more popular than British in the combined Midlands and Wales regions.

    This reinforces the very solid data we already have, especially from the British Social Attitudes Survey, charting the rise and rise of English national identity, over a long period of time.


    Interestingly, the Scottish sub-sample (Scottish sample size = 230) of this GB-wide Sunday Times pole finds almost exactly the same levels of support as the last ‘proper’ Scottish poll of Westminster voting intention (which in addition to having a far better sample size weights properly by Scottish demographics and not by GB-wide demographics).

    Scottish Westminster voting intention
    YouGov/Scottish Daily Express
    sample: 1343
    fieldwork: 3 – 8 Jan 2008

    Lab 36%
    SNP 30%
    Con 18%
    LD 12%
    oth 5%

    (Anthony, that January YouGov poll result is not yet listed in your Scottish Voting Intention – Westminster section.)

  13. The Scots want to disassociate from the Empire…?

    One’s history teacher at school – a proud, stubborn Yorkshireman – used to inform us that the Empire was administered by Scots (whilst the English ran the businesses). They imported nationalities from various parts to run the administration with them.

    Post-Empire we can all see the results. Tamils in Sri Lanka, Asians in East Africa, the Caribbean, and Polynesia, Indians in Malaysia, etc….

    The Scots may wish to turn their back on Empire. Unfortunately Scotland’s imperial legacy is causing damage to it’s [revisionist] history each-and-every-day. [England hides nought!]


  14. Fluffy,

    “One’s history teacher at school – a proud, stubborn Yorkshireman – used to inform us that the Empire was administered by Scots”

    Well that must mean it’s an undeniable historical fact then, as opposed to a widely inaccurate broad brush assertion of someone with a chip on his shoulder.


  15. Hi Peter, I understand what you are saying, and I was making no comment about the morality of Empire, I was simply expressing my surprise at the ‘Scots not surprisingly aren’t anywhere near as keen to connect Britishness with British History or the empire’ comment.

    The views you have expressed about the Empire are pretty much exactly what most people say in the UK.

    Ignore fluffy thoughts – not sure what is going on there….

  16. Alasdair,

    There is a distinct difference in attitude to the whole issue of “Great Britain”. Much of what passes in the media and in England as Britain’s history, particularly the John Major version is actually English history.

    The Magna Carta, Agincourt (?), the Spanish Armada, Cromwell, all these things weren’t part of Scottish history, apart from the fact that most of the time we were backing the French.

    The Involvement in the Empire tends to be associated with the act of Union which most Scots have mixed feelings about, the may think it was for the best but didn’t like the way it happened or what we gave up to get it.

    For many whether it be the clearances or the colonies it was go abroad or starve at home. The Empire brought huge benefits and also spread Scots around the world, but Scots never felt we were in control of it, more just tagging along.
    having said that, lot of this could be me as I was brought up in a Labour household in Glasgow, so things like WW1 were seen as working class people slaughtering each other for the sake of their masters.

    One of the oddest illustrations of the cultural difference is over France and Germany.

    By and large Scots like both nations and peoples, particularly the French, but the attitude of the media particularly Fleet Street and it appears much of the population of England are almost relentlessly negative.

    For us playing Germany at football is just another game and playing France is seen as old friends rather than rivals and that suggests that as nations we see history and our neighbours in a different light.


  17. Anthony,

    Do you know of any polls that ask people what the key events in “British History” were, as I’d be interested in any evidence as to if Scotland features much in it at all.


  18. Peter,

    I have a vague recollection of something like that…but if there was it’s unlikely to have been unprompted, so it would probably depend largely on what options people were given.

  19. Anthony,

    Thanks I remember the BBC did one a while back but I think it was individuals rather than events and it was a web poll rather than a sample.

    Selection is an issue but I think if you had a list of say 25 events from 0 BC to 2000 and asked people for the top five you would probably get a good idea of what people saw as the key events.

    To check different attitude for parts of Britain, it might need to have things like, The Blitz and The Atlantic convoys rather just WW2.

    Another question.

    In 2005 YouGov asked about attitudes to other nations, where the poll showed the French to be the “least” friendly.

    Do you have regional breakdowns on this anywhere as i’d be interested to see if Scots really do see the world differently. I think we do but that’s not evidence.


  20. Hi Peter. I understand the distinction between Scottish, English and British history, particularly with regard to the medeival and late rennaissance stuff.

    I was just questioning the assumption that most Scots would have a more negative or different attitude to the empire.. I dislike the tactic of separating Scotland from the empire as a way of creating further distance with England (not saying you are doing that, but plenty do). I have also seen attempts to equate Scotland with a colony, implying it is the last part of the empire yet to get independence – an argument which IMHO couldn’t be further from the mark.

  21. Alasdair,

    I agree, I’ve no time for the “it was all the nasty English who did it we were just missionaries like Livingston” brigade, or the “we were a colony too” idea.

    I am however quite a fan of dependency theory which looks it in terms of elites rather than nations.

    Thus poor people across the empire be they slaves, natives or Scots got a pretty raw deal, while the rich be they British businessmen, Local chieftains, or Indian princes did rather well.

    Like they say about scandals… Follow the money.

    It could just be that as by and large Scotland had fewer benefits than London we have a more jaded view, that our the fact that we’re just whinging complainers.

    I would still be interested in a look at the Scottish figure for attitudes to other countries, especially the French and Germans. The 2005 survey has them at 30% and 23% for least friendly nations and I just don’t think Scots see it like that although i could be wrong.


  22. “Thus poor people across the empire be they slaves, natives or Scots got a pretty raw deal, while the rich be they British businessmen, Local chieftains, or Indian princes did rather well.”

    Undoubtedly, by our standards, although that would have been true of almost any society that existed prior to c.1900. We are the lucky beneficiaries of 250 years of industrialisation, and the rise in overall living standards that it produced.

  23. Just some totally pointless facts about the Scots and the Empire taken from Niall Fergusons’, subtley/modestly titled book…
    ‘Empire. How Britain made the World’.!!!!

    ‘In the 1750s little more than a tenth of the population of the Britsh Isles lived in Scotland. Yet the East India Company was at least half Scottish.
    Of the 249 writers appointed by the Directors….119 were Scots. Of the 116 candidates for officer corps…..56 were Scots*.
    Of the 371 men admitted to work as ‘free merchants’ by the Directors 211 were Scots. Of the 254 assistant surgeon recruits to the company 132 were Scots’

    [*By contrast the Irish were overrepresented in the lower corps]

    I could go on. He does. I won’t….Just love history. Sorry.

  24. Sally,

    Not true…

    I watched “Pirates of the Caribbean” last week and the only Scot working for the East India Company was Davie Jones, and he was only half Scots….. and half Octopus….


  25. Peter,

    Thanks for making me smile !

    What would be your reaction to the notion that one effect of the Empire was that the majority of entrepising Scots upped sticks and travelled the world ?

    Is this perhaps why Scotland is generally left of centre when compared to England ?


  26. Peter.

    I must take issue, despite the obvious authority of your source.

    They were all indoors busily ‘assimulting’ with with the native population.
    [‘Pirates’ is a cert 12!]

    The Scots were responsible for an ‘Indio-Celtic fusion’. Apparently.
    Several generations later they mutinied.
    Quel surprise?

  27. Alasdair Cameron

    “Ignore fluffy thoughts – not sure what is going on there….”

    Having personal pops is not nice. One is big enough to accept that this reflects less on me those who make them.

    As for accusing we English of being associated with Dr Livingston and his crew [sic], the great man was a Scotsman, but a respect his contribution to my country’s and world history. So not sure what the point of such a statement is.

    Peter, one is pretty certain that the Scots played a pivotal role in running the Empire. [My history teacher may have had a chip – he considered the English as “bloody barbarians” – but he was always a proud Yorksireman!] One is also aware that educated Indians (many of whom were Tamils) were used throughout the civil-service. This is one of the root-causes of the current insurgency in Sri Lanka. [By-the-bye, my sister-in-law is a Sri-Lankan of Tamilese and Sinhalese extraction.]

    One is aware that mistakes were made in Imperial policy. However mistakes should not be buried by history (or rewritten by Disney) but observed and learnt upon. A lesson Scotland should choose to remember and not wish to forget.

    But, hey….