An ICM News of The World poll found that 57% of people thought Gordon Brown was responsible for the current shortfallin pension funds, with 44% of people saying that Brown’s handling of pensions will harm Labour at the next election.

Meanwhile, a BPIX poll conducted last month for the Observer for a special on ten years of Blair as PM, shows the public recording a negative verdict on his premiership. Only 6% of people rated Blair’s record as very good, with 20% rating him as a good PM. 29% said average, 21% poor and 21% very poor.

27% of people think the UK is a more successful place now than in 1997, but 38% disagree. Only 10% think the UK is more pleasant, with 61% disagreeing. 69% think Britain is more dangerous, 58% disagree that Britain is happier. The only areas where people do think that Britain has improved in the last ten years is attitudes towards minorities – 35% think the UK is better for disabled people, with 21% disagreeing; 51% think it is better for people from ethnic minorities, with 16% disagreeing and 61% think it is a better place for gays and lesbians, with only 5% disagreeing, though of course, for some people with socially conservative views these may not necessarily be seen as positive ratings for Labour.

Asked how they have performed on specific policy areas the economy emerges as Labour’s only saving grace. 38% of people think they have handled it well, with only 27% thinking they have done poorly, a positive rating of 7. In every other area BPIX asked about they had a net negative rating, on education minus 27, the environment minus 22, public sector reform minus 42, NHS minus 43, crime minus 51, transport minus 53. The lowest net rating for for “cleaning up politics and sleaze” – only 5% thought Labour had done a good job, with 67% thinking they had done poorly.

Asked about Blair’s biggest achievement, 23% said the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, suggesting that perhaps Blair may yet have a positive legacy in the public’s mind in at least one area (although the poll was conducted about a week after the Northern Ireland assembly elections, so it was having a huge amount of publicity at the time). Second was Bank of England independence and the stable economy, both on 11%. His biggest failure was, unsurprisingly, unambigiously seen as Iraq – named by 58% of people.

Asked to rate how much they liked or disliked Blair himself on a 0-10 scale, 66% said they disliked him, with 26% saying they liked him. 56% of people said their opinion of Blair had become more negative over the last 10 years. When asked what words they associated with Blair, 49% thought he was too associated with spin, 45% out of touch, 43% untrustworthy, 38% insincere. The highest positive associations were “his own man” on 17%, competent 14% and principled 12%.

57% of people think that Blair has already stayed in office for too long, with a further 22% thinking a Summer departure would be about right. Only 9% think he is going too soon. And the future? 25% of respondents thought that history would treat Blair kindly and that he reputation would improve with the passing of time…35% of respondents thought it would get even worse.

A YouGov poll in the Telegraph suggests continuing unease over ID cards and the national database, and the potential for outright refusal to co-operate with any scheme from a minority of the public.

50% of people said they were in favour of ID cards, with 39% of people opposed. This is very similar to the last two times YouGov asked the question.

Asked how much they would be willing to pay, only 11% of people said they would be willing to pay extra, although it may well be that people misunderstood the question. The wording asked how much people would be willing to pay for a combined biometic passport and ID card, given that passports currently cost £66, and I suspect some people interpreted as how much extra they would be willing to pay.

Of the 39% opposed to ID card, 25% think they will do more harm than good and 30% think they will be too expensive, but 43% say they are opposed on principle. The poll suggests that many of those people would refuse to co-operate once cards were introduced. 21% of those opposed to cards said they would refuse to have a card even if it meant paying a small fine, 7% said they would refuse even if it meant a long fine. 15% said they would refuse even if it meant a prison sentence.

This works out at about 17% of the population who say they would refuse to co-operate with the ID card scheme. Of course, a large proportion – probably a large majority – of this will turn out to be empty bravado. It is far easier to claim in a survey that you would be willing to go to prison rather than have a card than to actually go to prison. However, if even a small proportion of that 17% of people actually do stand firm then there could be a severe problem with non-compliance and media focus on “ID card martyrs” (not having an ID card will not be an imprisonable offence, but the ultimate punishment for not paying fines for not having an ID card would be).

The survey also asked about the national database that will back up the ID card system. 43% of people thought that the information held upon it would be accurate and reliable, but 48% thought it would not. 66% said they did not trust the government to keep such data confidential and 82% thought there was some danger than civil servants working on the data would divulge it improperly to others. Taking these things into consideration, 52% said they were unhappy about a national database 52%.

The survey also asked about CCTV cameras, also regularly cited in articles about increasing state surveillance, and in contrast to ID cards and the national database found strong support for them. 37% of people said that “CCTV cameras and so forth” made them feel they were being spied upon, but when asked if they approved or disapproved of CCTV in various places, approval was overwhelming. 97% of people approved of CCTV in banks, 93% on public transport, 86% outside pubs, 85% on high streets. The lowest support was for CCTV in taxis, but even then 65% of people supported it.

On other facets of the “surveillance society”, 72% supported photographing airline passengers, 56% of people supported roadside fingerprinting of alleged suspects, 50% supported speed cameras and 45% supported fingerprinting airline passengers (39% were opposed). A majority of those expressing an opinion of people (48% of people overall) were opposed to maintaining DNA records of people who have not been charged or have been acquitted, with 37% of people supporting it. The idea of using the chips within ID cards to track people’s movement met with sharp opposition – 70% said they would disapprove with only 16% approval.

Overall people are supportive, but uneasy, about increasing state surveillance. CCTV cameras have wide support, as do security provisions on flights (presumably because of memories of past terrorist atrocities). However, there are doubts about whether the national database will be secure or accurate and public attitudes towards ID cards are ambivalent – around half of respondents still support them, but a minority seem to be staunchly opposed to the extent that they claim they will be willing to break the law rather than accept them.


A new ICM poll commissioned by the No2ID campaign is the first to show a majority of people opposed to the introduction of ID cards. I normally advise some caution on polls commissioned by pressure groups trying to push an agenda, but No2ID’s approach has been admirable – over the last year they have periodically commissioned ICM to ask a straight identically worded question to produce solid trend data.

The latest poll shows that 47% of people think the introduction of ID cards would be a good idea, 51% think they would be a bad idea – a straight 5% swing compared to the last ICM/No2ID poll in February and the first time (apart from a very strangely worded BPIX question a year ago) that a poll has shown a majority opposed.

ICM also asked about attitudes towards the National Identity Scheme and the proposal that “everyone is required to attend an interview to give personal details about themselves for use by the police, tax authorities, and all other government departments.” 41% of people thought this was a good idea, 56% thought it a bad idea.

UPDATE: Lovely response from the government in the Evening Standard: “a Home Office spokesman said the poll might have given a more positive result if it had focused on the benefits of ID cards”. Yes, the poll almost certainly would have given a more positive response if, instead of using neutral wording, it have used leading text extolling the virtues of the ID cards.

ID Cards

Further results from YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph suggest that people largely agree with the arguments against ID cards, but continue to support them. Overall 52% of people support the introduction of ID cards with 37% of people opposed. This is almost identical to the proportions supporting and opposing ID cards after YouGov’s last poll on the subject, taken last Summer.

Having asked people about whether they supported ID cards or not, YouGov gave people a list of arguments for and against ID cards. The pro-arguments met with somewhat mixed support – there was strong agreement that ID cards would help prevent benefit fraud (64% agree) and “health tourism” (62% agree) and with the statement that people with nothing to hide would have nothing to fear from ID cards (60% agree). A majority (55%) of people also thought that ID cards would help the police track down bogus asylum seekers attempting to avoid deportation. People were far more sceptical about whether ID cards would help catch criminals (43% agree, 45% disagree) or help make life more convenient or easier (42% agree, 43% disagree). A clear majority (63%) rejected the suggestion that ID cards would help prevent terrorist atrocities.

On arguments against ID cards, 50% of people thought that machines to read ID cards would often break or fail to read cards accurately and 55% thought a lot of cards would envitably end up containing false information – though given that some error and mechanical breakdown in any project this size would be enevitable, both these questions depend more on respondents’ definition of “often” and “a lot” than anything else. More importantly, 80% of people think that determined criminals would always find a way of forging the cards, 75% think the cards will be far more expensive than the government says, 60% say their introduction will cause huge inconvenience, 71% think the data on people’s cards will not be secure and will be hacked into, sold on, etc and 61% think the data would be passed on to foreign governments.

All in all, people are dubious about the arguments for ID cards, and broadly receptive about the arguments against them. Despite this they continue to support ID cards, implying that people give greater weight to the perceived benefits than the perceived drawbacks – yes, they think ID cards will be expensive, inconvenient and open to abuse, but they want them.

Prior to the July 7th bombings support for ID cards had appeared to be in serious decline. Back in 2003 YouGov had found a net approval rating of +63 for the introduction of ID cards, with support of 78%. By the week prior to the London bombing net approval had fallen to only +3, with support down to 45%.

The London bombing had an immediate effect upon public attitudes towards ID cards, with a YouGov poll just a week later showing support back up to 50% (net approval of +12). Populus and ICM polls through July showed similar leaps in support, with ID cards once again enjoying the support of over 60% of respondents.

A new ICM poll for No2ID, the campaign against ID cards, seems to indicate that support is back on a downwards trend. In June 2005 ICM/No2ID found that 55% of people thought ID cards were a good idea, while 43% thought they were a bad idea. ICM asked the question again this week, using identical wording, and found that 50% of people thought they were a good idea, while 47% thought them a bad idea.

Many people are (reasonably enough) suspicious about polls commissoned by pressure groups for campaigning purposes. In this case though, it is trend that matters – both polls were carried out using the same methodology, and the same wording and are therefore directly comparable. The poll suggests that levels of support for ID cards have returned to the levels we saw prior to the London bombings and that the rise in support was a purely temporary reaction to the bombing, furthermore support for them may still be falling.