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. In short, the Economist supports a mishmash of right/left wing policies. It’s certainly much more progressive/socialistic in many policy areas than the right-wing political mainstream. :-)

  2. barney crockett

    We both know that the 2011 election will be a close run thing between SNP and Labour for the largest party status. It may well be that you pip us to the post – as we did you in 2007. Who knows? – especially with new constituency and regional boundaries.

    Pronouncements from some of your leaders suggest that you would want to follow the SNP example, and run a minority government, since you couldn’t form a coalition with the LDs who support the Tories at Westminster.

    In the North-East you have a recognition of being a minority, but I wonder if you fully comprehend the mindset of your Central Belt colleagues who will dominate, if you win.

    Minority Government is very different from coalition or majority government, and Labour in the SP have, thus far, shown no understanding of that reality. (Your “screeching harridans” at FMQs certainly don’t help!)

    Is SLAB capable of being consensual and co-operative, when the mindset remains that of being the “inevitable, natural, party of power”?

    Of course, you could always form a coalition with the Tories – two right wing authoritarian parties should find that quite easy. :-)

  3. @ OLD NAT

    Of course, you could always form a coalition with the Tories – two right wing authoritarian parties should find that quite easy.
    —————————————————–
    Do you really think there will be enough Tories or Dems for either of the Scottish big 2 to form a coalition with?

  4. This David Laws thing really is bad news for the Dems. Their first time in government & they barely got past the Queen’s speech before a scandal broke.

    I hope I am not going to annoy you, Anthony. I do think this will have an effect on LD.

    IMO, Laws ought to resign. He has put the PM in a dreadful position. One wonders, in what light this places Clegg’s insistence that Cameron may not remove a LibDem minister from office.

  5. I can’t see Laws surviving.

    There is something very odd about this revelation though-it is all about the nature of the relationship. There has been no breach of permitted expenditure rules.

    Ah well-nice to see John Reid going to The Lords.
    THey couldn’t lay a finger on him!-when Elizabeth Filkin tried she was informed “I’m here to tell you that you have been upsetting a large number of powerful people.”

    And that was that.

    Those were the days-make trouble & it’s the Glasgow kiss for you Jimmy.

  6. In cases where someone claims Housing Benefit when their “landlord” is in fact their partner, this may result in DWP being – err – slightly curious. It is good to know that our new overlords will be clamping down on such practices as part of their efforts to reduce the deficit. They may be rewarded by higher poll ratings.

  7. On a personal note, every document that comes the way of D Laws is closely annotated with ticks, crosses and exclamation marks. Any statement is for him either right, wrong or mad. Perhaps an innovation we could adopt for UKPR?

  8. @ Billy Bob

    :-)

  9. If he goes he will be a loss.

    He was shaping up to be a great First Sec.

    I love the “plant pot “story.
    Man after my own heart!

  10. Anthony,
    This may be unfair, but you originally posted 60% supported cutting benefits to unemployed who refused work, then later that 68% supported cutting benefits to the rich, but added the rider ‘not a hugely surprising finding, taxes (or cuts) that only affect people richer than the respondent are eternally popular.’

    It seems to me the two cases are precisely the same, with the same rider applying to the first case, that cuts which only affect poor people are eternally popular amongst the rich. That cuts which affect someone else are eternally popular amongst those not affected. Thus do these large support figures really mean anything except that a broad range of cuts will be unpopular amongst everyone?

    As to Laws, I dont know the circumstances properly but it sounded a bit as though the justification for claiming expense was that the person to whom payments were being made was not his spouse/partner. A difficult defence to make politically that it was just a guy he had casual sex with sometimes?

  11. @Colin

    “There is something very odd about this revelation though-it is all about the nature of the relationship. There has been no breach of permitted expenditure rules.”

    Since 2006, parliamentary rules have banned MPs from “leasing accommodation from a partner”- whether straight, gay, bi or transgender.

    He did not record the fact he was leasing a room from his partner and he therefore broke the rules and is going to have to pay the price.

    What with the 1922 retreat and this ‘end of new politics’ expenses scandal the honeymoon is definitely over. Already.

  12. @danny

    “It seems to me the two cases are precisely the same, with the same rider applying to the first case, that cuts which only affect poor people are eternally popular amongst the rich. That cuts which affect someone else are eternally popular amongst those not affected. Thus do these large support figures really mean anything except that a broad range of cuts will be unpopular amongst everyone?”

    I was thinking the same

  13. vis a vis Laws (who clearly broke the no renting from a partner rule): IMO what with the 1922 retreat and now this ‘end of new politics’ expenses scandal the honeymoon is definitely over.

    Already…

  14. @ Danny

    I think those figures are more about the values and considerations of people.

    I guess, whether I agree with it or not, people feel that unemployment benefit without timelimit (training, job offers) encourage unethical behaviours (it’s an interesting welfare problem, by the way, because this benefit is not really unemployment benefit, but a version of social support, unlike, let’s say in Denmark, where unemployment benefit is based on the last salary, and it’s really high, but it’s strictly timelimited – it’s a very efficient one). So, I think, this opinion is primarily an emotional one.

    The other figure was related to tax credit. It seems to me that it is more about considerations of pros and cons (also influenced by the current economic climate, while the other one is probably not). Of course, this opinion is not free of emotions either, but it’s primarily a logical one.

  15. @ Colin

    He came across as very talented.

    To me the interesting question: is there another right-Liberal to replace him (I can’t see how he could save his job without serious repercussions)?

  16. From what I’ve read, Laws’ expenses claims are indefensible. He has to go, IMO.

    NC cannot support DL.

  17. LASZLO

    If he does go, & I were DC-I would bring back Hammond & appoint a new Transport Sec of State.

    If NC complained about lack of LDs in the top Treasury teeam-I would say-well we did our bit-you blew it.

    Laws was a Conservative in financial matters anyway.

  18. @ Rob Sheffield – you’re not bitter or anything, are you …

  19. 1. Parliament is full of openingly homosexual people. It is not taboo.

    2. IF this was a housing executive home prosecuton would follow. Poor people aew not allowed to do this.

    3. If your dating someone for seven years- they are your partner.

    4. £950 per month is extortionate rent to be charged by a loved one per month.

    5. After the expenses crisis we were told we would have open and honest government.

  20. @ Colin

    Yes he was. But played in yellow jersey and it can count in the coalition judging LibDem opinions on their blogs…

    I would rather like to see Hammond as Business Secretary (certainly more than VC).

    His odd expense claims could cause some problem if he was in the Treasury.

  21. @ Eoin Clarke

    It can be continued:

    6) He could have sorted it out (without declaring his sexuality) when the expense think was on the high.

    7) He gave speeches about the need for transparency in MPs expenses.

    8) He did not try to sort it out until he was told that the article was about to be published.

    9) He used his partner (or whatever way he wants to call him) to cover up (intentionally or unintentionally) the real issue.

  22. Laszlo,

    As we have to compare this to is Jacqui Smith. IS this more or less clear cut than hers?

  23. LAszlo,

    There was also McNulty and Blears- they survived resignation calls am I correct?

  24. @ LASZLO

    “I would rather like to see Hammond as Business Secretary (certainly more than VC). ”

    That comes dangerously close to having Cable in the TReasury!

    I hope Hell will freeze over before DC contemplates a disaster like that .

  25. @ Eion Clarke

    It’s not the problem of comparison. Gosh, I almost forgot about those :-( :-(

    It’s the problem with the Treasury post. And also for the “mission statement” of the coalition.

    Gardening leave perhaps (from the job, not from HoC)?

  26. Very sensible comments by DC on prostitution. Harriet Harman must surely welcome those words.

  27. @Laszlo,

    Do Laws constiuents now have a right to sack him? This constitues serious wrongdoing doesnt it?

  28. @ Colin

    I see :-). I cannot imagine GO and VC together. But I wouldn’t mind a good Business Secretary. (A few days ago I mentioned VC’s performance at one of the business support organisations…)

  29. @oldnat
    superstition would suggest those active in politics should not speak too much about what happens afte an election! Tempting fate etc. But you do raise an interesting point. There are clear reasons why each party would not be suitable for a coalition with Labour.
    In scottish local government, the primary pattern is snp/lib dem coalitions followed by Labour minority leadership so expertise might be developing there .. or not.
    I do know of one outstanding example in East Dumbartonshire where a very talented leader, Rhonda Reekie presides over a minority administration in a very prosperous area.
    Those outside Scotland may be interested in a study by the electoral commission on the Scottish election conducted under stv.
    @amber
    the list system provides a cushion for the lib dems and tories. Hard to see the Tories going down further. The lib dems will struggle in the urban areas. If the snp make an effort in the rural areas, they will have to sacrifice without a fight the seats they won from Labour last time.
    In rural areas with Labour tradition the vote may spike eg in the south west and in the very far north.

  30. Is there a minimum number of LD MPs in government offices specified in the coalition agreement?

    If so, and LD steps aside, does that mean that another LD has to be appointed as a minister somewhere?

  31. @ Eoin Clarke

    Not until the Act is passed. And we don’t know what would be in it. Retrospective rules? I doubt.

  32. @ Eoin – “Do Laws constiuents now have a right to sack him? This constitues serious wrongdoing doesnt it?”

    The bill hasn’t gone through yet (unless I’ve missed something).

    Can’t see Laws surviving this scandal, regardless. He’ll be gone within days.

  33. oops.

    “If so, and LD steps aside”, should read “If so, and DL steps aside”

  34. LASZLO

    ” But I wouldn’t mind a good Business Secretary. ”

    Yes-of course-it is vital.

    Re-configuring our economy is the hard bit-& it’s vital.

    I’m not at all sure about VC either. He seems to have very uncomfortable body language-?out of his depth- or- ?wants to be in a different Party…..?or both ;-)

  35. @ Mike N

    There isn’t (about 100 positions). Not even for the Cabinet. But there is an agreement that DC cannot dismiss LibDem members without NC’s approval. Now, it does not quite imply, but somewhat suggests that NC would have the first call.

  36. @ Colin

    Or a different job…

    His body language (and approach to dealing with issues) is certainly very uncomfortable. He started his talk with “I’m not here to close you done”. Telling it to people whose wages were frozen, temps given notice, and when they cannot make contractual obligations until the budget and when they have issued a number of tenders and they are under pressures. I was not present (I admit), but talked to different people who were there.

  37. Laszlo
    So, DC as PM has somewhat limited scope for a reshuffle at some future date.

  38. @ Mike N

    Yes, until the current arrangements stay.

    It’s actually a major quasi-constitutional issue.

  39. Laszlo
    “It’s actually a major quasi-constitutional issue”

    That’s because the PM is not forming the government?

  40. Laws position is untenable given what NC and DC said during the campaign.

    This could affect the polls by a couple of %. I had a dream last night of yellows on 18%. Hardly scientific but I once had a dream Everton would win the F.A. Cup and they did lol.

  41. Mike N

    Yes. He cannot take the responsibility for the action of his government, while the no-confidence votes are against the government (although individual members of the government can resign – oddly MPs cannot), and technically it is the government that submits all laws (on behalf of the Queen) to the HoC but only the PM can go to the Queen.

    It’s quasi-constitutional, becasue in spirit, it’s constitutional, but not constitutional in the legal sense of the matter.

  42. @ Eoin Clarke

    Also because not throwing him out (if he does not resign) would be a “courageous” move for both DC and NC (to use Sir Humphry).

    It does seem that he was thrown to the press – the negotiations with the Telegraph must have gone on for some days.

  43. ” the negotiations with the Telegraph must have gone on for some days.”

    Weeks apparently-they “held it over” from before the GE.

  44. I wonder what the Telegraph has held over on David Miliband? It might be nice to know before they elect him leader….

    Hammond would be a competent replacement, or Redwood for that matter.

  45. Hm… Redwood. Yes, certainly. Politically it could be difficult though for the LIbDems, but would be a gain for DC..

  46. Colin “Weeks apparently-they “held it over” from before the GE.”

    I wonder why? Surely, this revelation about DL’s expenses claims is just the sort of thing that would have dented the LD vote and made voters wonder about the veracity of NC’s claims that LD MPs were above the shenanigans of the C and L MPs?

  47. @ Colin

    Then the handling of the whole issue is even worse. Even if he could not cope with it, were there no people around to manage it? I may understand it psychologically, but he is also a politician and not a novice.

    I looked up some of Hammond’s speeches. He’s certainly a good candidate – at least for a shortlist.

  48. @ Mike N

    Perhaps because serving it up to the public during the campaign inevitably would have come out as nasty and dirty.

    Now they have various figleaves.

  49. I wonder how he is going to raise £40,000 to give back. That must be some ask eh? A bankruptcy declaration I wonder?

  50. @ Eoin

    He’s OK financially as far as the reports go.

    If he was bankrupt, he could not continue as MP.

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