An ICM poll for ebay suggests that 29% of people in the areas affected by the hose pipe ban have flouted it. Of those who had broken the ban (a very small sample this, once you’ve removed people who don’t live in the South-East or haven’t broken the ban), 35% did so to water flowerbeds, 26% to wash their car and 21% to water vegetable patches. 27% said they had refilled a paddling pool or swimming pool from a hose (although actually, that isn’t covered by a standard hosepipe ban – you can’t water your garden or wash your car with a hose, but you can do anything else you so desire, including filling swimming pools).

22% of people said they had spotted a neighbour defying the hose-pipe ban, thought 54% said they would turn a blind eye rather than report them to the water company.

Channel 4 has commissioned a NOP poll of British Muslims for Dispatches. Some of the results are in a pdf here, other questions are included. The Channel 4 website has all the questions here, but with results that differ slightly in places – possibly because they haven’t yet been weighted. Either way, the differences between the two sets of figures are trivial.

The pattern that emerges from the survey is familar from other surveys of Muslim opinion in the last year or so. There is no universal, monilithic Muslim opinion – there is as much variety as among non-Muslims. While a small minority of Muslims sympathise with extremism and Islamist terror, the vast majority do not.

Asked how important religion was to them 78% of British Muslims said very important, but 48% of them also said they never attended a mosque, with another 6% saying they only attended for special occassions. The actual religious observance of Muslims doesn’t seem to match with how important they say religion is to them (in some ways this is comparable to Christianity in Britain – in the census around 70% of people self-identified as Christians, but many of them say they don’t believe in a god and only a fraction attend church aside from for weddings and funerals).

61% of British Muslims said they thought of Britain as “my country”. There was support for some degree of integration – 94% of respondents disagreed that Muslims should live separately from non-Muslims but at the same time, given the choice 36% would prefer to have fellow Muslims as neighbours. Asked if they would prefer to live under Sharia law or British law, 30% said Sharia while 54% preferred British law. I mentioned in my comments on an earlier ICM poll Sharia law does not necessarily equate to the hand-chopping, adulterer-stoning version in the tabloid press, Western countries like Canada have in the past allowed the use of Sharia law under limited circumstances for things like inheritance law, so it was then impossible to tell exactly what people were supporting. In contrast NOP specifically stated in their poll “Sharia law, as practiced in such countries as Saudi Arabia and Iran” – perhaps explaining why the proportion of British Muslims supporting it was 10 percentage points lower than in ICM’s poll.

28% of British Muslims agreed that they dreamt of Britain one day becoming an Islamic state. Again, it’s worth putting this in proportion – I am sure many evangelical Christians would dream of the day when the whole world would embrace Christianity.

Asked about attitudes towards free speech, there was little support for freedom of speech if it would offend religious sensibilities. 78% of Muslims thought that the publishers of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed should be prosecuted, 68% thought those who insulted Islam should be prosecuted and 62% of people disagree that freedom of speech should be allowed even if it insults and offends religious groups. This is one of those areas where it would be useful to have parallel polling of non-Muslims – we know from past polls that the general public think that things like the cartoons should be able to be published, but then, non-Muslims are not the ones offended by them. Perhaps the closest parallel of something that Christian groups thought was offensive and wanted banned was Jerry Springer the Opera – in that context a poll of the general public suggested that only 17% of people thought that programmes that might offend religious sensibilities should not be shown at all.

Back to the Muslim poll, NOP also asked if British Muslims thought that relgious leaders who supported terrorism should be removed – 68% agreed, with 22% disagreeing. Cross-referencing these results, NOP characterised 9% of the Muslims they surveyed as “hardcore Islamists” – people who thought that it was perfectly okay to speak in support of terrorism, but thought people should be prosecuted for insulting Islam. This small minority tallies with NOP’s other questions on terrorism – 9% of respondents said it was acceptable for religious or political groups to use violence, 13% of people said they understand why young British Muslims might become suicide bombers (though again, this needs to be put in context. Parallel polls of Muslims and non-Muslims have shown that there are a small minority of non-Muslims who think terrorist attacks on civilians can be justified).

NOP also gave respondents a list of people and asked them if they respected them or not. The most respected figure amongst British Muslims (out of those in the survey) was the Queen (69% respected her highly, or a fair amount), followed by Sir Iqbal Sacranie (48%) and then, perhaps surprisingly, Tony Blair (44%), narrowly ahead of George Galloway on (40%). More worryingly 19% say they respect Osama bin Laden (6% say they highly respect him), 17% respect Saddam Hussein and 16% respect Abu Hamza.

NOP also found a tendency for British Muslims to believe some, well, strange things. 45% thought that 9/11 was a conspiracy between the USA and Israel. 36% thought that Princess Diana was murdered to stop her marrying a Muslim. More seriously, only 29% thought that the holocaust occured, 2% denied it happened entirely, 17% think it was exaggerated (which is the stance proposed by most of today’s holocaust deniers), 24% said they had “no opinion” and 23% didn’t know what the holocaust was. Again though, putting this in context, non-Muslims think odd things too – an ICM poll in 2004 found 14% of people in the UK thought that the scale of the holocaust had been exaggerated, 27% of the general public told NOP in 2003 that Princess Diana had been murdered (a poll commissioned, unsurprisingly, for the Sunday Express). I can’t find a British poll on whether 9/11 was a US conspriracy, but I have little doubt that a substantial minority would say it was. Yes, a minority of Muslims believe bizarre things, but then a minority of non-Muslims do too!


  • Opinions of Israel and USA down
  • Blair’s job approval at new low
  • Popularity boost for Jack Straw after criticism of Israel

Below are the latest findings from YouGov’s daily political tracker polls, conducted as part of their Brandindex surveys. Opinions of Israel have continued to fall since the last report – their net positive/negative impression is now down to minus 50 from minus 45 a fortnight ago and minus 41 prior to the present hostilities with Hezbollah. Compare this to Iran on minus 60, the lowest rated country out of those tracked by YouGov – and it’s worth noting that a large part of the difference is due to the fact that a very stable 5% of respondents always say they have a positive opinion of Israel, while hardly anyone says they have a positive view of Iran. Opinions of the US have also dropped, down from minus 25 before the conflict to minus 34 now.

Given the public’s hostility to Israel’s actions this should come as little surprise. What is more interesting in the domestic arena is how the responses of British politicians have gone down with the public.

Tony Blair’s ratings have unsurprisingly fallen – bottoming out at a net job approval of minus 38 following his meeting with President Bush on the 27th July. On the questions asking about positive or negative impressions of politicians, Tony Blair now has the most negative net rating of any of the politicians tracked. The wider image of the Labour party has also suffered, the percentage of people saying that the Labour party “stands up for Britain’s interests” has fallen to 17%, while the proportion of people saying they “represent the interests of people like me” has dropped to 14%. The percentage of people thinking that Labour are the most trustworthy party on Britain’s relations with the rest of the world has dropped from 24% to 17%.

The responses of the main opposition parties doesn’t seem to have had much effect. The proportion of people who think the Liberal Democrats have the best party on dealing with foreign affairs has risen marginally – up 2 points from 8% to 10% – but Menzies Campbell certainly hasn’t benefited: his net job approval is down to minus 24. In contrast David Cameron’s job approval is up to plus 15 from his low of plus 11.

I suspect neither of these changes has any connection with the two mens’ comment (or lack of comment) on the events in Lebanon. Rather Campbells’ decline is the fading of the boost he received after the Liberal Democrats’ near miss in Bromley, while Cameron’s rise is the fading of the negative effect of his “hug-a-hoodie” speech.

The one man whose reputation has benefited from his response to the conflict in Lebanon is, rather surprisingly, the former foreign secretary Jack Straw. After publicly criticising the actions of Israel public perceptions of Straw rose markedly – his net postive/negative perceptions went up from minus 21 to minus 12, making him suddenly one of the most popular members of the government. Like his predecessor as foreign secretary publicly dissenting from Blair’s foreign policy is making Straw popular – the difference is that, unlike Robin Cook, Straw remains a member of the government.

pdf Download full report HERE.

We’ve seen what Britain thinks of the USA, but the USA still likes us. A Harris poll in the Wall Street Journal shows that Britain is still the country that the largest number of Americans think of as an ally. 74% see Britain as an ally, 11% as a friend, but not an ally, 8% as neutral and 3% as unfriendly or an enemy. The next closest allies were Canada, Australia, Japan and Israel.

Those of you who aren’t on holiday will have noting the lack of posts – alas, once Westminsiter shuts down for the Summer the media stop conducting polls about what they are up to. There is no Populus poll this month and little else worth commenting on except for PR bumpf like 2% of people asking someone out because they liked the book they were reading and people in Brighton feeling luckiest (based on a sample of 50 or so).

The most interesting poll I’ve managed to find this week is one by ICM for the BBC that supposedly showed that 53% of people would consider emigrating (it was actually a rather strange multiple option question. The 53% seems to come from subtracting the 47% of people who said they would never consider emigration and the 1% of don’t knows from the total). Personally I dislike questions along the lines of “have you ever considered?”, since they give no guide of how seriously someone considering something. Strictly speaking I’m sure most people have pondered living abroad as some fleeting fancy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be on a plane next week. The more interesting answer was the 13% of people who told ICM they were hoping to emigrate in the near future.

It is likely that in mast cases this is a rather vague hope – annual emigration from the UK is around a quarter of a million, and it would be surprising were it to suddenly jump to 5 million – but it does indicate that a substantial proportion of the UK population would seriously like to emigrate. There was an obvious age disparity on the question – 25% of under 25s said they hoped to emigrate soon compared to only 3% of pensioners. Single people were also more likely to want to emigrate than those who were married or living with a partner.

The most popular locations for people who would consider emigration are, unsurprisingly, the white Commonwealth and Spain. Australia was top on 40%, followed by Spain on 31%, Canada on 24% and New Zealand on 22%. Then came the USA (21%), France (18%) and Italy (10%). No other country appealled to more than 9% of respondents.

Asked why they would like to emigrate (in what appears to be an open ended question), the most oft cited reasons were the generic “better quality of life” (37%) and “better weather” (32%). More critical reasons were the expense of living in Britain (24%), that they didn’t like what Britain had become (12%), to much government interference (5%) or too much taxation (5%).