People divided on prospects for 2014, “Britain’s Year of Identity”

Posted on 12 January 2014

People are three times more optimistic about the economy in 2014 than they have been for the past two years, according to new research released today by Ipsos MORI for British Future.

The State of the Nation report, which has tracked public opinion since 2012, finds that optimism about the economy has more than trebled in that time, from 9% in 2012 to 29% today. While the number feeling pessimistic still remains higher, it has almost halved in two years, from 74% in 2012 to 40% in 2014.

Some may feel that 2014 will be tumultuous year for British identity. It could be the year when everything changes: Scotland could vote to leave the United Kingdom, ending a union that has lasted three centuries; A widely-anticipated victory for UKIP in May could put Nigel Farage’s party at the heart of the General Election debate and propel Britain towards an exit from Europe; Views on immigration could harden, fuelled by political rhetoric in the run-up to the May ballot, if some predictions are correct and large numbers arrive from Eastern Europe.

But our survey shows a Britain where people will ‘keep calm and carry on.’ People are confident that Scotland will remain in the Union. They think we should fix our relationship with the EU – not get out – and most will welcome those EU migrants who work hard, pay taxes and make an effort to fit in by learning English.

People are twice as positive than in 2012 about the year ahead for Britain more generally, with 29% of those polled feeling positive about 2014, compared with only 14% who could muster any hope about the 12 months to come in 2012. And when asked if 2014 will be a good year for their family and the town where they live, more people are optimistic than pessimistic.

But when it comes to the prospects of Roy Hodgson’s England side in the World Cup, things look more gloomy. England’s footballers may offer little to those looking for a resurgent Englishness in a 2014 dubbed “Britain’s Year of Identity,” as nearly one in four (37%) of those expressing a view feel that England will be knocked out in the first round.

State of the Nation is the annual Ipsos MORI survey for British Future which takes a wide-ranging look at public attitudes to the key events, pressing issues and big questions which will impact on British identity over the coming year. Other key findings include:

  • 50% of people in Scotland think Scotland will be weaker if it leaves UK, compared to just 34% who think it will be stronger (3).
  • People in Scotland predict, by 58% to 20%, that Scotland will vote to stay in the UK (4).
  • 38% of people think Britain should stay in Europe but try to reduce the EU’s powers, while 28% want us to leave the EU.
  • More than half (56%) of UKIP supporters in the European election say it’s a protest vote, twice as many as think the party has the best policies on Europe (27%).
  • 68% of people agree that “Romanians and Bulgarians coming to the UK have got to learn the language, work hard and pay taxes, fit in and be part of the community. If they do that we should welcome them to the UK.”

View the slides above to see other key findings from the survey and read the full report here.

Click here for more on “Britain’s Year of Identity.”