PoliticsHome have put up the Phi5000 results of their daily tracker on most important issues from the last month. I’ve commented on the way the economy is climbing up the list of important issues in Ipsos MORI’s monthly polls, but these show it finally overtaking immigration to be what the Phi5000 panellists see as the most important issue facing the county.

Hard economic issues are generally on the rise, there have been similar rises in the perceived importance of taxation as an issue and, more surprisingly given it really has been off the agenda for a very long time – inflation.

On the way down, immigration is no longer the number one issue: at the start of April around 50% of respondents were naming it as one of the top three issues facing the country, it’s now dropped to 39%. “Soft” issues are also on the decline, it’s most noticable with climate change and the environment. At the beginning of April 19% were naming it as an important issue, that has fallen to 12%. There have been smaller falls in people seeing education and health as important issues.

Looking at the longer term trends from MORI, back at the end of the last Conservative government the big issues were health, unemployment, education crime and Europe. During the Blair years unemployment and Europe gradually disappeared as major issues and immigration and – at times – international terrorism and the war in Iraq topped the poll. Now we appear to be seeing another shift in priorities as the economy takes centre stage.

29 Responses to “It’s the economy (again) stupid”

  1. Yes people are being hurt in the pockets at the moment and whilst at least some of it is outside the Government’s control it is they who have to carry the can.

    Petrol/Diesel prices continue to soar and this really hurts everyone but particularly the least well off. The big rises in food prices is also hurting people.

    And to make matters worse for the Government a lot of these price rises could go much higher yet.

  2. If there is a weakness in both sets of figures it has to be over the issue of Housing.

    It’s pretty much a statement of the obvious that Housing is the key issue for people who don’t have one. But just how do you poll the homeless. Those in temporary accomadation who have no phone or share a pay phone will be difficult if not impossible for the pollsters to pick up.

    Equally I can’t see many homeless people in B&B being part of the PHI5000.

    Now what follows isn’t a political dig, but I remember last year when wendy Alexander was elected leader in Scotland that she commented that until she had gone round the country she hadn’t realised what a big issue housing was for labour members.

    I remember thinking….. What planet has this women been living on.

    As with 10p tax I think there are dangers for labour in particular if it doesn’t treat studies like these with caution as their are key groups of it’s core support who are concerned with things that don’t necessarily show up well here.


  3. I hate this phrase – the economy “stupid”
    and “credit crunch”.

    They sound like economics in Hello Magazine language.

  4. Peter Cairns is right about housing being a crucial issue. However, it gets subsumed in the wider economic measures. On every level there are considerable pressures and these all come through in the housing markets (regardless of tenure). Housing is also one of the most politically loaded areas – people oppose development or any sort (and especially development that may attract the wrong sort of folk) and then complain that their sons and daughters can’t afford to buy. However, I do not see any prospect of liberalisation in housing markets and we will continue to be both blessed and cursed by housing values.

    Interestingly the only possible way of generating churn within the social rented sector would be to introduce rtb for all social renters. This would provide capital for a major expansion of this sector not currently available from Government.

  5. Interesting to hear Jeremy Vine on BBC2 today talking about there being 5 million people by 2010 on housing waiting lists. Sounds like the Labour Party see a lot of ex-home owners going in to council houses. Can’t see the politics of this working out though.

  6. Housing waiting lists have increased substantially over the past few years – partly through the impact of immigration on the private rented sector and partly through the general lack of supply. Despite this Hazel and her minions at DCLG persist in telling us that Housing Market Renewal with its large scale demolition programmes is the right way forward. Yet we don’t have enough housing? Make sense to you?

    Watched someone from Government office NW give the most political address I’ve ever heard from a civil servant on this matter. It was truly dreadful.

  7. Anthony,

    I have posted BoE/NEBR/The-Economist stats. Why bother…?

    Unfortunately we are about to hit a recession…! As a small businessman I have no-one to protect me. [Thanks Digby!]

    Only the Royal Navy makes me cry more. My bad for being born in England…! :(

  8. There comes a point, when a government has been in power for a long time, that people decide it’s time for a change. I suspect that time may well have arrived.

    The economy is merely the catalyst.

  9. Gotta be honest, I think I must be missing something. Has the economy really gone that bad? …. it might do, but I don;t feel it has yet.

    Yes inflation is up, but that is almost entirely due to fuel (which is massively subsidied anyway) and food (which is running short due to over eating and population growth).

    Latest figures show unemployment is still falling, the economy is still growing, and, okay, house prices have fallen a bit in some areas but they have not collapsed and are still ridiculously high.

    It seems to me that a lot of people really want a serious depression…

  10. I got out of there two and a half years ago – so glad I did!

    Economics / the ‘economy’ have always been cyclical. Whoever deluded themselves that this has somehow changed is due for a rude wake up call.

  11. Alasdair Cameron

    Gotta be honest, I think I must be missing something. Has the economy really gone that bad? ….

    OK, I have to assume you missed yesterday’s FT front-page. Do you know who Mervyn King is…?

  12. Alasdair Cameron

    Latest figures show unemployment is still falling….

    Geesh! And this is someone who comes on to a board that discusses polls, stats, and random-fluctuations! ICM, here he comes…! ;)

    [Anthony, sorry! Where do they come from…?] :(

  13. Beat me to it Fluffy!!

    Will add this re Alasdair’s comments from outer space-

    UK unemployment rose during the first three months of 2008.

    What on earth does “Yes inflation is up, but that is almost entirely due to fuel and food ” mean?

    The reasons are entirely academic to the millions of people who are having to watch every penny now, simply to feed the family, heat the house, and drive to work.

    And lest you failed to notice, the £50bn pumped into the banking system has seen mortgage availability continue to decline-and mortgage rates continue to increase.
    The fall in house prices is a symptom of the credit crunch.

  14. Fluffy,

    There is no need to be rude to Alasdair and if you’re going to criticise try to be a bit more clear.

    What are you trying to say?

    Did Mervyn King say the economy was a disaster yesterday? No. There’s going to be a drop in house prices but they’re still ridiculously high compared to the average wage just as Alasdair said.

    Latest figures do show unemployment falling. Are you trying to suggest that this is not a relevant fact in a discussion about the economy?

    I think the truth is that people are understandably worried about the economy because it’s uncertain and likely to not be as favourable as in recent history. That is very different from saying it is in a terrible state. IMHO only of course.

  15. Ok just checked unemployment figures released this week. Yes they have gone up a bit but still from a very low base. Not the disaster you were implying

  16. I’d say the issues are police state, Stalinist micro-management and Iraq (Christian neo-imperialism and as such, excessive swallowing of USA propaganda )

  17. What Alasdair said was :-

    “Gotta be honest, I think I must be missing something. Has the economy really gone that bad?”

    What BoE said included :-

    There is not likely to be another cut in interest rates for two years, as it forecast that inflation will reach 4 per cent this autumn.

    Inflation would stay above the Government’s official 2 per cent target until 2011.

    Price rises would lead to “a squeeze on real take-home pay, which will slow consumer spending and output growth, perhaps sharply”.

    “Our central projection is for a sharp slowdown of growth and it is quite possible that we may get a quarter or two of negative growth.

    “For the time being, at least, the nice decade is behind us.”

    The most likely scenario for growth is hovering around the 1.5 per cent mark

    Gordon Brown & Alastair Darling say:-

    The economy will bounce back to growth of between 2.25 and 2.75 per cent next year.

    We shall see who is nearer the truth.I know who my money is on.

  18. Has the number of people worried about climate change dropped because they are happy that soaring oil prices will cut carbon emissions?

  19. Hi folks. Okay, if the latest figures suggest that umeployment has increased I will concede that, but the figures I had seen before that suggested it was still falling, which was why I said it.

    House prices are indeed still ridiculously high compared to earnings, and although they are starting to fall they have not yet done so dramatically and in many areas (eg Edinburgh and Glasgow) they are still rising.

    Mt point about inflation being driven by global fuel and oil rises is that these are things which are extremely difficult to control. Cutting the cost of fuel directly goes against environmental imperatives, so if the price keeps on rising other measures will need to be taken to offset the hardship it may cause to the poor.

    The rising price of food is largely due to a surging population and rising prosperity around the world. My point is that these things are beyond any government’s control.

    I just get the sense that there are many in this country, of all political persuasions, who have an interest in talking up a depression.

  20. As mentioned though, this is not really on topic, so I’ll be quiet now.

    However, I was interested to see that someone didn’t see any relevance in the reasons behind inflation. Would one not agree that there is a fundamental difference between price rises caused by short-term supply and demand issues, as opposed to inflation caused by really serious structural problems in the global economic system and world economy that is approaching the limits of what can be sustained….

    right, I’m shutting up.

  21. I’m not sure anyone wants a ‘depression’ – what that is. But there is a case for criticising the Government for over-optimistic forecasting of economic growth especially given that the consensus is a full percentage point lower than the UK Govt Forecast.

    On the economy – history suggests that inflation has a far bigger impact on voting behaviour than does unemployment. This isn’t surprising since inflation affects everyone negatively. And, with the Government in denial over the real inflation rate, people are getting annoyed.

    Finally, do we have a problem dealing with inflation? Usual practice would be to increase interest rates but this would negatively impact on mortgage prices (which is why you don’t include them in inflation measures). And the credit crunch suggests a reduced supply of money -arguing for reduced interest rates.

  22. Please…,

    The economics are extremely bad, any educated person would accept this. Yet we are lucky!

    SkyNews have just reported a 6.1 Richter-scale earth-quake after-shock in Sichuan. My hopes and heart is with the people of the Tibetan-plane.

  23. As your own post points out, Fluffy, “extremely bad” is a relative term. That’s what Alasdair and I were saying too.

    PS How do you do italics in these comment boxes?

  24. Sorry Steve,

    Politics have been on the back-burner for a while. As for HyperText MarkUp it is pure HTML. So you can use a limited sub-set of HTML to emphasise your message.

    Key points I have discovered:

    YouGov use XHTML: any markup must be contained within a well formed layout. DO NOT USE New-Line/Carriage-Returns within a pair of markup-flags as these are translated in paragraph-breaks.

    Only a small-subset is supported: So far these will work:-
    bold, and

    These don’t work:-
    UnderOrderdList, and

    [Not sure if the HTML can be escaped, so have not bothered with the syntax.]

    The following are tests:-


    Basically, it’s trial and error. Also basic emoticons work, but the funnier ones don’t. Also, as we cannot edit posts, you need to check your syntax very carefully…!

    Hope this helps. Maybe Anthony should give us a YouGov-XHTML 101 course…? :o

  25. Re-above,

    OK, underline does not appear to work. Neither does the Horizontal-Rule.

    Headings (H1) do!
    As does CODE!!!so
    will this…? :P

  26. Ok,

    Headings don’t. Neither does font (and attributes)…. :(

  27. The 101 course…

    Things that don’t mess up the site’s formatting work. Things that do mess up the site’s formatting don’t.

    In short, I don’t like long links, they mess the nice little boxes around comments up. So do italics, sometimes. If you want to emphasise things, use bold. If you start leaving messages about POLLS though, I’ll probably delete your comments and IP ban you…. just a friendly warning :)

  28. The fact that the economy goes up then down is nothing new. Thats the silly economic system we have, boom and bust. But there are more losers that winners on this planet remember. The environment is still the most important isuue , like it or not , as there are no other planets to live on. This one is unique and when totally messed up thats it. The people who will get affected and lose their lives first due to climate change will generally be abroad too, so people can get on worrying about house prices while somewhere else burns. I think all politicians of all colours need to work so much harder on these issues as does the public. We havent even started to scratch the surface yet of this issue.

  29. I think that you should be able to get your thoughts across without to much in the way of gimmicks. I probably use ” ” a bit to much but I do find it useful. I can’t stand people you do those speech marks with their hands when they talk so i should be more careful.

    As to upper case I’ve used it to denote a newspaper headline once I think as I was talking about The Sun, but other than that it’s like shouting and by and large if you wouldn’t do it in a conversation you really shouldn’t do it here.