Welcome to our Review of 2006. Inside you will find results from the huge range of different projects we have undertaken this year. It is research which illustrates the value of the Social Research Institute’s ability to offer an integrated approach – using both qualitative and quantitative methods where relevant, able to call on genuine experts in diverse policy areas and specialists in researching various target audiences or in different research techniques, combining seamlessly into single project teams.
This was the year when the government struggled on with public service reform, but hit new lows in terms of public confidence in the NHS (despite levels of satisfaction with actual treatments remaining higher than before). It was a year when, for the first time ever, race and immigration became the key issues that Britons saw facing the country. A year when ratings of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition fell. A year when, compared to the rest of the G6 countries, Britons were the most negative about their government's handling of crime.
At the same time, of people in all the major industrial economies we were most positive about our own and about the country's economic circumstances. It's a funny old world, and with our new international network, we will be looking at it in ever more detail.
Of course, some things never change. In a more diverse society than ever, it is revealing how little attitudes to both the monarchy and the principles of the NHS and welfare state change over time.
In our own world, we see the same pattern - we undertook one million on-line interviews but also more traditional in-house face-to-face interviews (albeit using laptops) than ever. Continuity and change. Perhaps it's what helps keep us all sane.
Finally, 2006 has been the year when the British public started to wake up to its biggest challenge - climate change - but we need to become more worried!