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. @Laszlo,

    i won’t hold my breath. It will all die down again no doubt as the focus shifts eastward. Does not bode well for the UK though.

  2. ConDemNation Howard – Theere’s your “n” ;)

    Genius, no?

  3. @ Eoin

    No, it doesn’t. No doubt the FO is in hectic activity behind the scene.

  4. @HOWARD
    Totally agree. At my particular age, my parents would have to have survived the war for me to have been conceived. But were I say from a Polish Jewish background with murdered grand parents, murdered uncles and aunts, older siblings dead before I was born, all cousins dead and, by a miracle my parents got us to Israel in 49 or 50, how hard would I have battled enemies of Judah? Had they been surrounded by friends they might have recovered better, but as it is, the threat of genoside has never ended. They over react and display to many characteristics of the people who tried to destroy them in the 40s. Can we wonder?

  5. @ Eoin

    Especially (the FO activity) as, I just spotted it, BBC’s website describes Hague as “sympathetic to Israel”. It may be a fact/opinion, but it’s different when it’s stated.

  6. @ Roland

    The Jewish population in Israel and people who are considered Jewish elsewhere are just as politically divided as any other peoples (from communists to fascists) and this very heavily influence their behaviour towards particular situations. In my view there’s no Jewish overreaction, but there is Israeli overreaction that may be supported by the majority/half/minority of the Jewish population in Israel.

  7. Israeli democracy has a lot to be said for it. Netanyahu hardly enjoy’s the support of the nation. Sooner rather than later he will be a has been then we can all look forward to a solution.

  8. Sue

    It does not grab my sense of literal fun. it would resonate better when the reality was achieved.

    Artificially constructed states don’t seem to last. Palestine will return I imagine but perhaps has a better chance after all those bereaved peoples you mentioned are themselves passed away. We were debating home here how many more decennial remembrance events on WW2 are left. I guessed 2 but then life expectancy improvements probably mean 4.

    Israel to re-merge with Palestine in 2130?

  9. @EOIN
    The problem is that Netanyahu was already a hasbeen.
    Reminds me of Berlusconi; just when you think he’s finished he comes back like a bad rash.

  10. Everyone’s very serious tonight. Have we STILL not had any polls?

  11. Julian,

    Who would have ever thought that we would ‘deplore’ the loss of Arial Sharon?

  12. Laszlo,

    You know your on shaky ground when Sarkozy goes further than you…….

    Why has DC not made a brief comment? It is customary for the premier to comment on these matters…

    Has the US issued a statement yet?

  13. Sue
    The latest Dutch one is out (general election June 9th)

    – interested anyone?

  14. Howard,

    Yes I am.

    How is Wilder doing?

    Are Dutch Labour still holding up?

  15. Thank you Eoin a genuine internationalist. As background remember that the Dutch structural deficit is 30 billion €. So in proportion not dissimilar to ours and debate thus similar. Additionally because their immigrants are a greater percentage of middle east people than negro people, it’s all about ‘hoofd doekjes’ (scarves and veils) than rastafarian culture (now very much embraced by the younger generation).

    I’ll need about 20 mins to draw up a report because the paper has unhelpfully not given us the files yet.

  16. @SUE
    ConDemNation is brilliant.
    As far as I know, Sharon is still alive isn’t he? Strange how he suddenly seemed to change his stance to negotiating with the Palestinians. Or did he?
    What is the connection (if any) between Wilders and Pim Fortuyn?

  17. Tonight’s Dutch poll

    Party now, one week ago, 2006GE, (my translation)

    PvdA 28, 29, 33 (Old Labour)
    PVV 17, 17, 9 (right anti EU, anti immigrant)
    VVD 37, 37, 21 (right economy, social liberal)
    CDA 25, 25, 41 (one nation tory christian)
    SP 11, 11, 25 (socialist radical)
    GL 11, 11 , 7 (Green left wing)
    D66 10, 9, 3 (SDP liberal)
    CU 6, 8, 6 (cons. one nation christian)
    SGP 2, 2, 2 (fanatical christian)
    PvD 2, 2, ? (Animal welfare party)

    Sample from 2500 responders from 40000 online Panel

    Comments to follow

  18. @ Eoin

    Shame on me :-) :-)

    The US (O.) did issue one, roughly the same line but softer than the French president with whom I share national heritage (his the paternal line).

    DC has been quiet about everything. It seems his policy is that “I’m not distracted by anything, I’m going on my own timetable” – cf Laws and the current foreign affairs issue. So today he talked about open government (1st chapter in Yes Minister). It may work for him.

  19. From previous result I ommitted
    Rita Verdonk, 0, 0, 1 @proud of Holland

    Rita was another escapee from the VVD who ‘went for the Moslims’.

    She followed up on the Pim Fortuyn populist explosion when he came to prominence and then was murdered.

    She had been VVD minister of home affairs and left to form her own populist movement against moslim culture (I should not say Moslims) but blotted her copybook. I imagine the same thing will happen to Wilders eventually if someone doesn’t murder him too.

  20. Bibi N – his stated policy as revealed in memos to the incoming GWB administration was for a clean break with peace process: Crisis = the opportunity to acheive aims.

  21. @HOWARD
    Which of those right-wing parties are likely to go into coalition?

  22. Dutch developments

    Who will form the Government?

    As you can see the population is totally at odds with no one party commanding the trust except VVD which has leapt to first because it is promising cuts and ‘we will look after your pocket’. However, with whom?

    CDA VVD and PVV (Wilders) form 79 seats but the latter is essentially a no no for VVD because of its attitude to immigrants and EU (Dutch ‘UKIP’).

    So numbers don’t help a right wing government and a subsidiatyu poll question showed that 61% of voters are against a right wing government. It was the reason the SP got 25 in 2006 as a counter balance. The bright Dutch are very sophisticated voters in this way.

    The CDa has pronounced preference for a combination CDA, VVD, D66 and GL (Greens).

    That takes some swallowing for me. People always say that ‘shy CDA’ (just like here) hold sway but we know here now that is a myth.

  23. By the way when I described PvdA as Old Labour, some with knowledge could have taken issue with me. It has had its new Labour period but has very strong Brownite roots rather than Blairite. These ‘ites’ are a bit wonky to use but one tries to precise.

  24. @Laszlo – “tacit knowledge”

    Interveiw with Mathew Crawford on Start the Week (BBC R4) this morning. Atrition rate of 693 for every 100 that Henry Ford employed. These were skilled mechanics from cycle and carriage workshops who refused to be deskilled or infantalised and the vast majority walked away from the assembly line . He also claimed that manual work is more intellectually demanding than office work. Repeat on now.

  25. I am trying very hard not to comment on this issue, as there is a very good chance my passion will overtake my reason.

    I will restrict myself to one solitary statement: The rule of international law applies equally to all states. But there will always be some states that are more equal than others.

    There. I said it without saying it.


  26. Dutch again

    I think I wrote before that my bet would be on PvdA D66, GL, VVD. (78 seats at the mo). This in Holland is known as the purple combination and gets rid of those pesky Christians.

    But this needs the component factions to keep up their performance on polling day, particularly the intellectually elitest D66 that have more the reputation of champagne socialists than the by Roland so-admired ‘sandal wearer Lib Dems’ .

  27. Just to bring in Old Nat I am surprised the parties have not splintered in the SP, as from extensive cultural contact, I feel the Scots have more in common with the Dutch than any nation I know (yes I know about the golf). The sophistication and education of the Scots would guarantee this I would have thought. So I think the essential difference is that they have to await independence before, like the Lib Dems in England under PR, scattering to the four winds, as I wrote earlier today.

  28. @Howard
    Purple coalition seems to me the most probable outcome. VVD is clear frontrunner, but Job Cohen remains popular. The Dutch political landscape is so fragmented that any coalition without both VVD and PvDA seems very difficult – PVV is definitely out and has lost momentum and CDA is heading for historical low. The issue of the GL (the party that I mostly like in the Netherlands) joining the purple (or any other coalition) remains open, but I fear that if they enter the government, they will suffer from the “junior partner syndrome”. See what happened recently in the Czech Republic: both junior partners of the former center-right coalition, i.e. the Christian Democrats and the Greens, are now out of parliament, as they failed to pass the threshold of 5%.

  29. Surely the Dutch would be more akin to the English?

    Evidence? There are hardly any right wing parties in Scotland. The Netherlands is mostly right-wing. In fact, if NL had a FPTP system like us, the CDA would have a massive majority. (Labour popularity seems to be confined the the North of NL).

  30. Virgilio
    Good post – actually my arithmetic was poor as GL were ommitted from the 76 votes (87 with them).

    I think I would want to include them if I were PvdA but VVD actually have a policy of building more motorways (in Holland!!!) and making life easier for motorists plus they think climate change is ‘questionable’. (just looked up their manifesto).

    No, no deal with ‘groen links’ possible!.

  31. Matt Boothman

    Yes but they haven’t (FPTP) in NL.

    Yes they are mean and conservative (I know the Belgians make the same joke about the Dutch as do the English about the Scots – two Scots, one cola ordered, two straws).

    But one should not mistake the fact that the central issue is not the deficit but race, and in the South, they do not have the race issues that are prevalent in the north. They do of course have the Catholic vs Protestant history (as NI and Scotland)) but this sleeps because of general good standard of living – unemployment is less than 4% in NL, even now.

    I think that this site (thanks AW) is benefited from deep analysis of other cultures to explain how politics can develop in the UK.

  32. @Howard
    Thanks for the useful information. More generally, one remarks that in most European countries the major parties are suffering losses and the landscape becomes more and more balkanized. In the regional election of NRW in Germany, CDU and SPD reached their historical low, and now the most possible outcome is a three-party “traffic-light” coalition (SPD, Gruene and FDP), which is very unusual in Germany. As for the Czech Republic, last Saturday the socialist CSSD lost 10% and the conservative ODS 15%. Now their combined score is under 50% for the first time (42%), and two altogether new center-right parties entered the parliament (and probably the government) with 27% between them.

  33. @Howard,

    How are PvdA and SP seen on race and immigration issues then? Why are the PvdA so strong in the North, and so weak in the South?

  34. At profound risk of flogging a dead horse, can I firstly echo others in agreeing that there is nothing wrong with what Alexander did (except that it is a laugh). But Laws is a totally different kettle of fish. Are poor people in courts quizzed about their “criminal intent”? It is assumed that if they commited a crime they meant to do it.
    None of those keen to defend Laws has said if the same defence can apply to the millions of poor people who could gain similar advantage by using a partner or relation to claim for example Housing Benefit. It seems that the measurement of Laws lack of criminal intent is based on his wealth.
    Councils face a huge claw back if sampling reveals over-payment of benefit in these circumstances

  35. Virgilio

    Yes that’s what they call the ‘purple’ coalition in NL (i.e. not red not blue) but in fact ‘traffic light’ is better – a marriage of convenience like our Con Dem (happy now Rob S)?)..

    Matt B

    The two left wing parties are totally against any form of ‘imposed integration’ and this is what makes for the polarised polls at present. I actually do not believe that the south is more right wing on this issue than the north because otherwise the polls cannot be as they are. NL is more homogenous politically than we might otherwise suppose from cultural differences. Alot of left wing sympathy still exists in the south from the harsh history there (coal mines, etc).

  36. Australian polls–

    ;Support for the Australian Greens has surged to a record high as voters turn away from the major parties.

    The latest Newspoll shows the Greens have jumped six points in six weeks to score 16 per cent support.

    They usually poll around 10 per cent of the primary vote and were at 12 per cent in the last poll.

    The Greens’ gain was Labor and the Liberals’ ( by that they mean the Tories) loss.

    They both lost two points, taking Labor down to 35 per cent of the primary vote and the Liberals to 41.

    Labor is hanging on to government with a razor-thin majority on the all-important two-party preferred vote. The ALP leads the coalition 51 to 49. (AS most other parties support Labor)

    The federal election is expected later this year’


    With preferential voting in the Lower House the 2 party preferred is crucial. In the Upper House (hey, an elected Upper House so those who make the laws have actually been voted for, what a novel idea) it’s basically PR.

    (What a novelty- a Lower house elected using alternative votes and where the Tories always go into coalition governments and an elected Upper House. And you know what, it works. It also has people forced to go to the polling booth on election nights, elections on Saturday which close early so people can actually see the consequence of the election… Gosh. Too many changes to work in the UK…

  37. I think in terms of traffic lights, our coalition is suffering a festering sore in the Bufton Tuftons who are simply bewildered but are just happy they got rid of Brown. Ultimately they probably don’t care a lot really. Not so sure about the young rightest Tory turks.

    On the Dem side (adopting the new nomenclature) there would have been a similar problem were it not for the magnificent negotiating result obtained by David Laws (no tax under £10000, AV ref, schools budget, etc).

    What do partisans on Blue and red think?

  38. It’s worth keeping an eye on


    which lists all local authority bye-elections results.
    Interesting bye-election on the Isle of Wight on May 20th where Cons gained the seat from LibDems and Labour was second – Cons +10.8%, Lab +19.2%, Libs -11.2%, Independents -18.8%.

  39. Howard,

    Thanks for you report- I was at my nightly visit to the gym (trying to stay young)

    I just cant help but think these three right wing parties (including Wilders might get together).
    You say they have not ruled it definitively out….

    With the collaspe of socialist radicals and old Labour ‘quite’ stagnant… could the Netherlands follow Britain?

    From my travels in that part of the world they are very pro-British…. will the economic conservatives be trying to emulate Cameron?

  40. @Eoin

    This one is for you:

    ht tp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/30/niall-ferguson-school-curriculum-role

    Still think Clemron and ConDem nation should be given a chance to govern? benefit of the doubt?

  41. Xiby,

    Holy guacamole. I’ve read this character’s stuff. Not a kick in _ _ _ _ away from another well known ‘rightwing’ historian.

    Do you know Thatcher done the exact same thing in 1983…..

    One Nationism is a double edged sword —– centre on domestic very right wing on foreign policy yikes!

  42. Xiby

    This quote takes the biscuit

    Ferguson said he had been prompted to turn his attention to history in schools as a result of the way his children were being taught. The problem was not, he said, the quality of teachers, but rather that: “In this country, the vast majority of school pupils learn only about Henry VIII, Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King. That is what teenagers leave school knowing about, and that is not really enough.” His own children, he said, had not been taught who the original Martin Luther was.

  43. Read Thatcher’s 1980 conference speech, and read this gov’s pronouncements to date, and please tell me what the difference is.

    Back then we where talking about inflation, excessive government spending, Europe, trident, Afganistan, Israel-Palestine, freedom of choice in schools, a voluntary based charity society, empowerment to work and getting people off the dole, instimate relationship with America…..

    who can spot the difference will win 1 million pounds ;)

    Maybe the difference that only the Lady’s not for turning ;)

  44. Xiby,

    My partner is writing a book on the Black Panther Party (I think I will keep this little story between you and I- if you don’t mind). I don’t think she would be too enamoured to know that racial equality as an historical topic is in decline.

  45. xiby
    I read the sme Ferguson quote in a FT article some time ago. Should he get paid twice?
    Also Guardian saying Laws offering adviser role to Alexander. This will make him even more of a laughing stock. Alexander being labelled the park ranger joining Yogi and BooBoo

    Matt Boothman
    I don’t know the SP but the PvdA views on race and immigration would be very right in UK context

  46. Howard

    Just checking in! I’m afraid dealing with my grandson’s visit is much more important than the blogs!

    As to parties in Scotland “splintering” – I can’t see it quite yet, but the Unionist coalition seems to be cracking a bit, as the LDs return to their historic position on Scottish autonomy. Whether that is just for political survival doesn’t really matter. Labour have already signalled that they won’t have a coalition with the LDs here, while they are in coalition with the Tories in the UK.

    I suspect that Labour are assuming that if they gain a seat due to the new boundaries for 2011, then they can copy the SNP and form a minority administration.

    It may well be that the the pressure for fiscal autonomy could actually gain a majority of MSPs next year – in which case the LDs in coalition with the SNP in Scotland, and the Tories in the UK might actually be able to deliver DevoMax.

  47. History lessons
    Ferguson was OK on boom and bust on TV. Analysis was greed and self delusion and good examples given with explanations for re-occurrence.

    I think that since Time Team, pupils would be better off just watching those programmes, that they may not be given the opportunity to watch at home with their teacher exciting discussion and provoking analysis. This is surely the way forward.

  48. @ Eoin

    I am not sure what to do… whether laugh or cry.

    Does history tell us which of the above is best to deal with distress?

  49. Do I gather that English politicians are interfering directly in the history curriculum for English school – yet again?

  50. I thought he was irish -sound irish talks irish -yes he’s a duck

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