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Domestic Issues Back Under Spotlight

Published:2 May 2003
Fieldwork:24-28 April 2003
Sub-Theme:Political Monitor
Source:Social Research Institute

NHS and Education top 'important issues' list again

The war in Iraq has been over for just a short time but the British public has quickly re-focused on what's going on at home. The new MORI Social Research Institute Political Monitor , published in today's Financial Times, shows defence/foreign affairs is no longer considered the most important issue facing Britain today.

Since the beginning of the year, this has been the main issue — in March, 64% named defence/foreign affairs as one of the most important issues facing Britain today. This has more than halved in the last month, and now stands at 26%.

Half the British public (49%) say the NHS is now the top issue, followed by a third (32%) who name schools/education. Asylum/race relations is mentioned by 27% — and has now been among the public's top five issues for more than a year.

In the wake of the war in Iraq, Tony Blair records his first positive rating (of +2 points) since January last year: 47% of British people are satisfied with the job he is doing as Prime Minister compared to 45% who are dissatisfied.

Iain Duncan Smith finds his figures little changed — at 22% satisfied (+1 on March) and 47% dissatisfied (no change). This balance of opinion remains negative among Conservative supporters (36% satisfied, 50% dissatisfied).

Charles Kennedy's figures are also in line with those recorded in March, with 40% of the public positive, and 26% dissatisfied).

Today sees the spotlight focusing on the results of the local elections. This national poll shows Labour remaining well ahead in terms of general election voting intentions. Among the public as a whole, Labour stands at 47%, with the Conservatives on 26% and the Lib Dems on 20%.

When we look at the views of those who say they are absolutely certain to vote at the next general election, Labour remains well ahead, on 43%, with the Conservatives on 29% and the Lib Dems on 21%. These figures are in line with those recorded in our March survey.

The public tend to feel that Gordon Brown's budget has been better for the country as a whole than for them personally. By a 37% to 32% margin they feel that the budget proposals are good for Britain. In contrast, 24% describe the budget as good for them personally, with 40% saying the proposals will have a negative impact on their own circumstances. This has been a feature of a number of Gordon Brown's budgets.

Gordon Brown's own ratings now stand at 48% satisfied (up 3 points on March) and 34% dissatisfied. The public is evenly divided in terms of whether they think the government's policies will improve the state of the British economy in the long term (40% agree, 40% disagree). This compares with a -7 balance in March.

In the short term, MORI's economic optimism index, which measures expectations to the economy over the next 12 months, stands at -18 this month, compared with -39 in March. This is the most favourable figure recorded since June 2002.

MORI's "State of Britain" poll for the Financial Times, published earlier this week, looks at attitudes towards the economy and standards of living in more detail. To see the results, see State of Britain Survey 2003

For further analysis of this month's poll, please see the article by Roger Mortimore Blair Cannot Count On Baghdad Bounce

Topline Results

  • MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,008 adults aged 18+ at 192 sampling points across Great Britain.
  • Fieldwork was conducted face-to-face on 24-28 April 2003.
  • Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
  • Results are based on all respondents unless otherwise stated
  • An '*' indicates a finding of less than 0.5%, but greater than zero

Q1 How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?
IF UNDECIDED OR REFUSED AT Q1
Q2 Which party are you most inclined to support?
Base: All absolutely certain to vote (1,074)

  %
Conservative 29
Labour 43
Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem) 21
Scottish/Welsh Nationalist 4
Green Party 1
Democratic/UKIP Party *
Other 1
 
Lab lead (±%) +14
 
Would not vote 1
Undecided 5
Refused 3

Q1 How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?
IF UNDECIDED OR REFUSED AT Q1
Q2 Which party are you most inclined to support?
Base: 2,008 British adults 18+

  %
Conservative 26
Labour 47
Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem) 20
Scottish/Welsh Nationalist 4
Green Party 1
Democratic/UKIP Party *
Other 2
 
Lab lead (±%) +21
 
Would not vote 13
Undecided 9
Refused 2

Q3-6 Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way the Government / Mr Blair / Mr Duncan Smith / Mr Kennedy are doing their job?
Base: 1,057 British adults 18+

  Satisfied Dissatisfied Don't know Index
  % % % ±%
Government 35 53 11 -18
Blair 47 45 8 +2
Duncan Smith 22 47 31 -25
Kennedy 40 26 34 +14

Q7 What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today?
Q8 What do you see as other important issues facing Britain today?
Base: 1,057 British adults 18+

  Q7 Q7/8
  % %
National Health Service/Hospitals 18 49
Education/schools 6 32
Race relations/immigration/immigrants 14 27
Defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism 17 26
Crime/law & order/violence/vandalism 6 19
Economy/economic situation 7 15
Unemployment/factory closure/lack of industry 5 10
Pensions/social security 2 9
Common Market/EU/Europe/Single European Currency 3 7
Poverty/inequality 2 7
Taxation 2 7
Transport/public transport 1 6
Drug abuse 1 5
Housing 1 5
Nuclear weapons/nuclear war/disarmament 2 3
Morality/individual behaviour 1 3
Pollution/environment * 3
Inflation/prices 1 2
Countryside/rural life * 2
Local government/council tax * 2
Low pay/minimum wage/fair wages * 2
Foot and mouth outbreak/farming crisis * 1
Petrol prices/fuel * 1
Privatisation * 1
AIDS * *
GM/GM (Genetically Modified) foods * *
Pound/exchange rate/value of pound * *
Trade unions/strikes * *
Animal welfare 0 *
Beef/BSE/Mad Cow Disease 0 *
Northern Ireland 0 *
Scottish/Welsh Assembly/Devolution Constitutional reform 0 *
 
Other 5 13
Don't know 6 4

Q9 Do you think that the general economic condition of the country will improve, stay the same, or get worse over the next 12 months?
Base: 1,057 British adults 18+

  %
Improve 19
Stay the same 38
Get worse 37
Don't know 7
 
MORI Economic Optimism Index [EOI] -18

Q10 And how likely would you be to vote in an immediate General Election, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means you would be absolutely certain to vote, and 1 means that you would be absolutely certain not to vote?
Base: 2,008 British adults 18+

  %
10 — absolutely certain to vote 54
9 5
8 7
7 5
6 3
5 8
4 2
3 3
2 1
1 — absolutely certain not to vote 11
Don't know 2

Q11 Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Gordon Brown is doing his job as Chancellor of the Exchequer?
Base: 1,057 British adults 18+

  %
Satisfied 48
Dissatisfied 34
Don't know 18
 
Net satisfied +14

Q12 On balance, do you agree or disagree that 'in the long term, this Government's policies will improve the state of Britain's economy'?
Base: 1,057 British adults 18+

  %
Agree 40
Disagree 40
Don't know 20
 
Net agree 0

Q13a Do you think the budget proposals are a good thing or a bad thing for you personally?
Base: 1,057 British adults 18+

  %
Good 24
Bad 40
Don't know / no opinion 36
 
Net good -16

Q13b Do you think the budget proposals are a good thing or a bad thing for the country as a whole?
Base: 1,057 British adults 18+

  %
Good 37
Bad 32
Don't know / no opinion 31
 
Net good +5
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