Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Defence, Foreign affairs and Terrorism tops the list of issues

Hat tip to Political Betting for the latest MORI figures on what voters polled think is the most important issue facing the country.

Usually the most important issues on this regular survey, which has continued for many years, are the NHS and core economic issues such as the Economy, Unemployment, Inflation and the Cost of Living. Recently Immigration had a major rise and was top of the chart last time I looked at this survey, but this time it was pipped to the top slot by "Defence, Foreign Affairs and Terrorism."

With inflation at roughly zero for the past six months it is hardly surprising that this problem has dropped to near the bottom of the list of public concerns and as Unemployment is falling that concern too has dropped a long way down the chart, though not as far.

The NHS and the Economy have held on to the third and fourth places on the chart, though neither gets into double figures for the most important issue.

An important learning point, however, for those of us in the small but very highly vocal segment of the population who are interested in European issues is that, as usual, the category labelled "Common Market/EU/Europe/Euro only attracts 1% of votes as "most important issue" and another 4% of voters consider it an "other important issue" which makes a mere 5% of the sample who consider this important.

As the Referendum bill has now received Royal Assent, there is a legal requirement for a referendum on Britain's EU membership by the end of 2017, and it's not going to be held in December unless the government goes completely mad, so the referendum is less than two years away and might possibly be in late summer or autumn next year.

In that context you can argue that the fact that the importance of the European issue has not yet risen in the chart is an indictment of the failure of both "Leave" and "Remain" campaigns to cut through to the public.

Or it may just indicate that most of the British people don't give a damn about Europe, and won't until someone explains in plain English why they should.

Clearly both campaigns need to put a positive case in very straightforward terms about how leaving or staying in the EU respectively will improve the lives of ordinary people.

The fact that a quarter of people think Defence, Foreign affairs and Terrorism  is the most important issue facing Britain today is presumably a reflection of the threat posed by DA'ESH, the so-called "Islamic State."

Not to mention the way Vladimir Putin has been conducting his foreign policy.

And frankly, they have a point.

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