Findings from this survey of adults in Great Britain, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of new think-tank British Future, offer insights into the public’s hopes and fears for 2012 and their attitudes to issues of identity, integration and migration.
The poll finds that people are more likely to say they feel optimistic about the year ahead for themselves and their families (52%) than for their home area (33%) or for Britain (15%). Only one in ten (10%) say they are optimistic about Britain’s economic prospects in 2012. Six in ten people feel the biggest challenges facing Britain in 2012 will be prices and bills increasing (61%) and unemployment (59%). Almost half (46%) feel that cuts in spending in public services will be one of the biggest challenges.
In the current economic situation, where unemployment is particularly high among young people, the public puts most blame for the for the high numbers of young people being out of work on the state of the global economy (48%), on businesses not providing apprenticeships and training for young people (39%), and on the present coalition Government (33%). Young people themselves were fifth in line for blame (30%).
Looking ahead to the cultural and sporting events in 2012, more people think the Jubilee (68%) will be good for Britain’s mood than the Olympics (64%) but the Olympics is seen as giving the British image a bigger boost around the world (64% Olympics compared with 60% for the Jubilee). The poll also asked to what extent the public thought Britain had changed since 1948, the last time Britain held the Olympics. Just under three-quarters think Britain has become a less religious place (72%), where there is less discrimination against gay people (72%) and the vast majority (88%) thinks women have more choices now. There are issues where clearly not all think Britain has changed for the better. Just over half (56%) thought Britons were no better at parenting than in 1948 and just under three-quarters (74%) feel that Britain is not a more polite place than it was in 1948.
The poll offers insight into the perceived positive and negative impacts that immigration has had on Britain. The most positive impacts of immigration are said to be on food and restaurants (68%) and entrepreneurs/business starters (47%). The most negative impacts of immigration are felt to be on the availability of housing (69%) and jobs (66%). Sir Trevor McDonald and Prince Phillip were voted the nation’s favourite immigrants – those who have contributed most to British society – ahead of Terry Wogan, James Caan, Rolf Harris and others.
People do feel a strong connection to England, Scotland or Wales as well as Britain, and those with a strong connection to their neighbourhood tend to be more optimistic about the future than those that do not. Views on devolution in Britain are mixed. Across Britain, around half (48%) say they would prefer Scotland to stay as part of the UK.
For further commentary on the poll results, visit the British Future website
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 2,320 adults aged 16+ across Great Britain, including a boosted sample of 497 adults in Scotland. Interviews were conducted online over the period 30th November to 6th December 2011. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.