Ipsos MORI have a new survey for the Economist, exploring attitudes to several areas of the new government’s programme.

On nuclear power stations, 59% supported the building of new nuclear power plants to replace those at the end of their useful lives. This was a question that MORI had asked regularly in the past, and was the highest level of support for new nuclear power stations they’ve found so far – the first time over 50% of people supported it. The national citizen’s service programme also met with support. 82% supported a voluntary programme, 80% a compulsory programme (MORI used a split sample to compare attitudes towards whether it should be voluntary or compulsory, but given the sample size the difference is not significant). A majority (60%) also supported the idea that people who refuse a job offer should not be allowed benefits.

MORI also asked about a series of possible ways of saving money. The most popular was ending tax credits for those earning over £50,000 a year, which was supported by 68% – not a hugely surprising finding, taxes (or cuts) that only affect people richer than the respondent are eternally popular. 55% supported the idea of getting voluntary sector organisation to run more training programmes, and 50% supported outsourcing them to the private sector. Much less popular was raising the state pension age (opposed by 60%) or increasing tuition fees (opposed by 62%). On Child Trust Funds, 28% thought they should be abolished altogether, 42% that they should be restricted to only the poorest families.

Perhaps most interesting though were attitudes towards the “big society”. For the actual phrase “Big Society”, 42% of people said they heard about it, but of that 42% only 31% said they knew a great deal or fair amount about it. A third said they’d heard about it, but knew nothing about it. Questions about the thinking behind it revealed divided feelings, 64% of respondents agreed with the statement that the government had tried to do too much, and people should take more responsibility for themselves. However, they also feared that the government may end up doing too little – 50% agreed with the statement that “I am worried that government and public services will do too little to help people in the years ahead”.

People were also less than happy with some of the inevitable consequences of devolving more power to local communities. Asked if NHS services should be same everywhere in Britain, 81% agreed with only 18% thinking people should be able to decide themselves how they are delivered in local areas. This is a paradox we often see in polls on devolving powers locally – ask people if they want more power devolved to local areas, they say yes. Ask if they want the services to be different in different areas – the natural conesquence of this – they say no. It isn’t just because of the unique importance of the NHS either. MORI asked the same question about recycling, and 70% still thought it should be the same everywhere in Britain, with only 29% saying people should be able to decide how it is delivered in their local areas.

MORI also asked directly how many people would like more involvement in how their local schools and hospitals are run. Only between 9-13% said they were actively involved or would like to be, with between 12% and 22% saying they would like more of a say. This seems small, but it’s worth remembering that the concept doesn’t actually need everyone to be a school governor, etc, they just need enough people to get involved to make a difference. The question isn’t whether everyone wants the hassle of involving themselves in decisions over local public servivces – it’s whether they are happy or not for those decisions to end up in the hands of other local people, organisations or businesses rather than Whitehall and Westminster.

897 Responses to “Ipsos MORI on the Big Society”

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  1. Amber – “In the first televised leaders’ debate, Mr Clegg said: “There are MPs who flipped one property to the next, buying property, paid by you, the taxpayer, and then they would do the properties up, paid for by you, and pocket the difference in personal profit. No LibDem ever did that by the way’’

    Ouch :$

  2. @ XIBY

    Governing is hard. It was THIS kind of stuff that made Labour look exhausted & worn-out. It took 13 years.

    The coalition is looking tired & dog-eared after 13 days!

  3. Theres nothing New Politics under the “Sun”
    It seems only a few minutes ago I was saying… For the media the number one target bar none is hypocracy-it’s the easiest to hit and gets the best reception. Also remember just how many Labour and Tory Mps have personal scores to settle withLib Dems over this. All of David Laws’ neighbours in the south-west for a start.
    Alexander’s neighbour Charlie will also be having a good laugh. I saw Ming on Hard Talk getting ready to plunge the knife in deep,all in the nicest possible way of course.

  4. @ Sue

    Clegg’s “honesty” looks more like ill informed spouting now. Had he no idea what his own team had been doing? It’s not like he had many high profile MPs to check into.

  5. Amber – I read a little tidbit the other day. Apparently, when GB was practising for the Leaders Debates, the guy playing Clegg went on and on endlessly about new politics and “the other two”. One day both AC and GB tuned to him in unison and said “Oh stop being so bleeping sanctimonious”
    We would be made of stone not to feel a little mollified by all of this.

  6. Incidentally, I don’t want anyone accusing us of gloating here. Read my post further up about the media.
    I spent years detesting this manipulation for Labour, and believe me, I detest it just as much now.

  7. I know we’re all supposed to consider homosexuality as just a normal lifestyle choice these days, but does anyone else think that they are over-represented in Parliament compared to the proportion in the population as a whole?

  8. @Xiby “…some tories are loving their marriage”

    …the unreconstructed type perhaps? Or like the one in a Daphne Du Maurier novel – where the spouse is safely locked in an attic (until 2015)?

  9. Technically of course Clegg was right. This isn’t flipping in the way lots of Conservative and Labour front benchers did (it also meant you could get both your homes furnished by the taxpayer).

    Lib Dem snouts probably were on average a little less deep in the trough – none of their Outer London MPs claimed second homes for instance. Still Clegg was a bit smug when discussing this over the election which was always tempting fate. Mind you if penalised MPs for being smug . . .

  10. @ Sue Marsh

    I’m gloating. It looks like XIBY is too :-)

    Nobody forced Clegg to be so smug. 8-)

  11. @ Roger

    Mind you if penalised MPs for being smug . . .
    …… no penalty – but we do get to mock them ;-)

  12. Amber

    See my remark about schadenfreude above. ;)

    (I mean how often do you get to use that word :)

  13. @roger
    The red tops will have a field day penalising smug

  14. @ Amber

    Governing is hard. It was THIS kind of stuff that made Labour look exhausted & worn-out. It took 13 years.
    The coalition is looking tired & dog-eared after 13 days!

    100% Agreed.

    Its not that they are messing up. This is run of the ill stuff that is expected from all human beings, especially politicians.

    Its seeing the same cake being served to those that acted holier then thou and served us false indignation for the past 3 years thats giving me a sense of satisfaction.

    Politically it does seem that this gov is suffering the political climate they created. The moment Can can abandon his populist self pleasing politics he can finally start to govern. Tough for him to do that without looking like a political opportunist though.

    Image and narrative is all in the greater scheme of the political scheme and this coalition is already having to recreate itself…. but too early don;t you think?

  15. @ Roger

    Yes, I should reel it in – it’s a bit mean of me 8-)

  16. @ Billy Bob @ 9 pm

    Thank you :-). I love these stories. Very familiar.

    Oddly the standard feature film making in the UK is highly bureaucratic. Now, what does it tell us :-)

    I’m not against bureaucratic control per se. But when the environment, the company, etc does not justify it… and it makes people NOT to use their tacit knowledge… and then we are surprised by the competitive capabilities of many UK firms…

  17. OMG many mistakes in that last post…. maybe just a bit excited, in a naughty way, like a small boy caught of wrong doing relishing seeing others getting the same stick… bit banal really but the irony is to sweet not to relish ;)

  18. @ XIBY

    In all seriousness, I agree. Cameron could not resist going along with Coulson; Clegg slipstreamed along in their wake.

    They have created this climate of personality & personal integrity being more important than policies & skill.

    They fostered this climate with their constant attacks on Brown. I think this coalition will be constantly harried by the press.

  19. So that no one gets ahead of himself, this is definitely not the end of the coalition and this government in any way…. its just the begining of a long and drawn out end. It starts way too early, lets just see if it takes that long.

    It took Lab 13 years, and Iraq, what will it be for ConDem?

    And people say politics is boring ;)

  20. Pete B,

    sexuality is a private matter.

  21. @Xiby,

    “This is all small stuff taken alone, but over the past year the Dems and the Cons made such a big deal of cleaning up politics, they seem to be hanging by their own noose now. Poetic justice or crude cold irony isn’t it. ;)”

    To be fair, Labour also claimed they would herald in a ‘new poilitics’. If anything else, the last few years have proven that MPs from all political parties are equally corrupt. ;)

  22. @Amber Star
    “They have created this climate of personality & personal integrity being more important than policies & skill.”

    Not so sure about the personality bit, but personal integrity should ABSOLUTELY come first. After that, pick the most skilful people, but they must have integrity. Otherwise we will end up being run by Mandelson clones for ever (all skill and no integrity)

  23. Further to my last post, it also shows that Labour’s plans ‘to clean up politics’ of a year/year and a half ago clearly didn’t work. Especially, if took this long to identify past abuses. ;)

  24. give me a Mandelson over Clemron any day. I prefer a self declared master of the dark arts then a phoney saint. The first has more integrity then the latter. But this is just personal opinion and am not looking for controversy.

  25. It’s probably a bit unfair to blame Cameron and Clegg (though keeping Coulson is definitely an unexploded bomb). The Press would probably be behaving like this if Buddha and the Archangel Gabriel were running the Government.

    Even though I suspect Laws’ resignation was completely personal, the Telegraph have let the power go to their head. We can probably expect to see shock! horror!! stories of increasing triviality until boredom or mockery makes them stop.

    The interesting thing is which scandals do we think Murdoch is keeping back till the Times paywall goes up (end June?).

  26. @ PETE B

    Integrity is virtually impossible in cabinet politics. At what point should principle & integrity out-weigh loyalty & collective responsibility?

  27. I’d just like to say that all political parties involved in the expenses scandals of recent years should be deeply ashamed. Politicians are meant to serve the public, not display their own greedy self-interest. People of all political persuasions should unite against their own, as well as other party’s abuses.

  28. If anything else, such scandals have eroded my faith in politicians (and political parties) more generally. The Conservative party also.

  29. @ Matt

    Further to my last post, it also shows that Labour’s plans ‘to clean up politics’ of a year/year and a half ago clearly didn’t work. Especially, if took this long to identify past abuses.
    I completely agree. Labour should’ve used as many civil servants, police & intelligence agents as it took to weasel out everything that could be used to discredit Conservatives & LibDem MPs.

    That would’ve been absolutely appropriate & the right thing to do. Nobody would’ve complained about abuse of government powers.

  30. @Amber,

    I think better enforcement would go a long way to eradicating such abuses. Tax evasion should be treated as severely with MPs as it is with members of the general public.

    BTW, were there any polls tonight?

  31. @ Matt

    There were no polls, that we are aware of. It is a bank holiday weekend :-)

    I’m not sure any MPs have been evading or even avoiding tax. Principle private residence rules are not particularly onerous so there is rarely any need for avoidance ‘schemes’.

  32. Amber

    Don’t use irony at this time of night! You nearly gave me quite a shock. :)

    Mind you, you do wonder what Coulson knows after all that phone tapping at the News of the World and with all those useful police contacts.

    The joke is of course the biggest tax avoiders are the newspaper groups and their expatriate owners. One of the real tests of the coalition is going to be how serious it is in closing up the various loopholes for the rich. In that I think Laws is a real loss, though if he comes back with his head sorted out he might be even more formidable.

  33. @Amber,

    “There were no polls, that we are aware of.”

    Thanks. I wonder what affect the World Cup will have, if any.

  34. I suspect that will largely depend on how England do. Semi Finals, and there will probably be a poll bounce (albeit only in the short-term). Less than the Quarters, and there may be a fall in support.

  35. British Chamber of Commerce

    “It [BCC] also urged the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee to keep interest rates low for a prolonged period..”

    “… significant additional fiscal tightening – beyond the £6 billion already announced – should only be implemented when the recovery is definitively more secure.”

    Oh Sue, how right you are. Within weeks of backing the Tories, the BCC wants Gordon’s policies back, if not the man himself. ;-)

  36. If England win the World Cup, I expect the coalition to get a massive boost – even in the medium and long-term. Hardly likely though, is it? ;)

    “I’m not sure any MPs have been evading or even avoiding tax.”

    It would definitely qualify as tax avoidance IMO. Maybe not breaking the law (as in tax evasion), but definitely deliberately misleading HMRC for personal benefit. :)

  37. (In practice) misleading HMRC for personal benefit, but technically not a breech of tax law, in the strictest sense. :) Therefore, although I would personally count it as tax evasion, the legal system doesn’t. :)

  38. @ Roger Mexico

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself ;-)

  39. Of course, tax evasion is defined as ‘misleading, deliberately or otherwise, HMRC’. Although, to my mind, it qualifies under this definition, the tax system takes a different view i.e. it would probably only qualify as tax avoidance (though many politicians may even dispute this). :)

  40. @ Matt

    I can safely say, I would not mind the coalition getting a boost from England winning the World Cup :-)

  41. @Amber,

    “I can safely say, I would not mind the coalition getting a boost from England winning the World Cup :-)”

    Funny how politics can be affected by something completely unrelated like football. :-)

  42. Good morning all,

    Now that we are seeing higher % in favour of things like Nuclear (59% now the highest yet)- I wonder if as LDs get into government are even their supporters confronting reality never mind the ministers.

    The certainty of opposition allowed yellow voters to oppose Nuclear power but the reality of government appears to have made some of them at least support it.

    Is the 59% broken down by party affiliation? that would be very interesting? I wonder correspondingly if reds will now oppose afghan, oppose trident etc- from the comfort of opposition?

  43. @ Pete B – I know we’re all supposed to consider homosexuality as just a normal lifestyle choice these days, but does anyone else think that they are over-represented in Parliament compared to the proportion in the population as a whole?


    “They” are not over-represented.

  44. Eoin

    And a very good morning to you.

    As it happens YouGov also did an annual tracker for EDF recently on sources of energy. A gradual drop since it started, but, given the amount of climate change “scepticism”* over the last couple of years, not as much as the Telegraph would like.

    Commentary and data link with usual gap below:

    ht tp://www.today.yougov.co.uk/consumer/climate-change-scepticism

    As usual with these attitude surveys, the question wording is important. And as EDF builds and runs nuclear power stations . . .

    *”scepticism” in this case of course meaning “complete gullibility to anything that means you don’t have to change your lifestyle”

  45. Re England winning the world cup. Yes it would give the Gov a massive boost but only in the short term. And folks this is the year when football will come home, so get ready to party ;)

  46. @Roger,

    Thanks for that- I’ll stew over it with morning coffee :)

  47. Uh OH! – Danny Alexander :( CGT avoidance

  48. EOIN

    NUclear Poll :-

    “The large poll of 4,300 people revealed strong support among voters of all three major political parties, including the Liberal Democrats.

    Nearly three out of every five Liberal Democrat voters (58%) believe nuclear energy needs to be part of the future energy balance, compared with just 15% opposed. That compares with the support of 74% of Conservative voters and 64% of Labour voters ”

    Danny Alexander

    BBC :-
    “.Mr Alexander said CGT was not payable.

    Tax rules say that people with two homes are not liable for CGT if they sell the main home within three years.

    On selling the flat in 2007, he said he “was advised that CGT was not payable because of the operation of final period relief, which exempts homes from CGT for 36 months after they stop being the main home”.

    He added: “I have already publicly declared that I will pay Capital Gains Tax if the time comes for me to sell my second home.”

    HMRC rules state that the final three years always qualify for relief from CGT – even if the person was not living at the property – as long as it has been their only or main home at some point during the time they owned it. ”

    I wonder if GO might be looking at the tax exemtions available to residents of Sark ? ;-)

  49. Colin,

    Thanks for both.

    HArdly a good choice to flagship a 40% tax of second homes when he avoided his allbeit technically correctly so.

  50. @Pete B

    I don’t think that gays and lesbians are overrepresented in Parliament or the government. Roughly 10% or more of the general population is gay. Yet only 3.38% of Parliament is represented by openly gay members. I think there are 10 Tories (a massive jump), 8 Labour, and 4 Liberal Democrats including David Laws.

    By contrast in the United States, we have three openly gay members of Congress, only two of whom were out at the time of their elections. What is amazing about the UK and the reason why the UK serves as a role model for the rest of the world is that not only are there gay government ministers but gays stand for competitive seats. I have a feeling that the UK will have an openly gay Prime Minister long before the U.S. elects an openly gay president.


    I don’t believe in forced outings because it scandalizes being gay or lesbian. It’s rare to hear of one being outed for being straight. I only feel it’s appropriate when one who is closeted actively campaigns against the LGBT community. David Laws is clearly no such gay. He wanted to remain in the closet but he never joined the Tories (a natural fit for him) and was a Lib Dem, a party that supports gay rights. And of course he never voted against gay rights. For that, I give him great credit.

    I am inclined to agree with you to a certain extent. I think one has a right to remain in the closet. Privacy is very important. On the other hand, in some ways one’s sexual orientation is everybody’s business. One’s sexual orientation is a defining characteristic and trait that is integral to personhood and identity. For that reason I can’t fully agree that sexual orientation is only a private matter.

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