From Covid measures and vaccine hesitancy to political trust or sportspeople ‘taking the knee’, it’s been a fascinating year for those of us following public attitudes.
Each month British Future compiles a monthly briefing of new developments in public attitudes research for those who want to stay informed. If you’d like to join the mailing list, contact our Director of Communications, Steve Ballinger, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To round off a year of analysing public opinion, in our December memo British Future’s Director Sunder Katwala looks back at a year of public attitudes research and pulls out some of the most interesting developments – including what they mean for 2022.
After a five-year period when one issue has dominated British politics – first Brexit, then Covid – as we end 2021 this appears to be starting to change.
This Autumn, there was a near five-way tie for issue salience in the Ipsos-MORI issues index – between Covid, climate, the NHS, the economy and Brexit. This was the first time since 1990, when defence and the Poll Tax were tied for most important issue, that the leading issue has been nominated by under 30% of respondents.
During the pandemic, there has been a gradual loss of salience of Brexit, and a continued decline public focus on immigration too. Meanwhile, climate change, poverty/inequality and housing are becoming more salient, as Professor Rob Ford notes, with differing levels of engagement across groups.
A key 2022 question is how far will the government, opposition, media outlets or other public voices succeed in establishing a core theme – or whether there will be a sustained period in which several different issues are top of mind for different parts of the population.