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Tracker Poll results: February 2013

Author: Maddy Hayes

Published on Feb 11, 2013

Tracker Poll results: February 2013

This survey introduces our new opinion tracker poll which we conducted between 1 and 8 February. The purpose of our tracker poll (of which this is the first) is to track what issues are consistently considered important. This survey is not representative of public opinion (a total of 2,467 respondents) that our supporters were able to complete on our website. As we continue to gather results over the next few months, we will be able to see what issues are popular among our supporters and consider reviewing our priorities accordingly: but we’re primarily interested in looking at trends rather than merely snapshots of opinion.

This month, the top five issues were ‘Lobbying and corporate influence of government: transparency and/or regulation’, ‘Freedom of Information’, ‘Civil Liberties’, ‘Media: regulation, ownership and freedom of speech’ and ‘Electoral reform (proportional representation) in the House of Commons’. The top priority for our supporters was lobbying reform which has been our main campaigning priority over the last few months.

Bearing in mind the current political situation, how high a priority (in terms of resources, research and campaign staff time) should Unlock Democracy give to the following policy areas over the next few weeks? (Summary of responses)
Answer Options 10 (highest priority) %age who gave it a 10 Average Score (Mean) Response Count*
Lobbying and corporate influence of government: transparency and/or regulation 662 25.56% 7.75 2318
Freedom of information 424 18.75% 6.99 2261
Civil liberties 470 20.94% 6.89 2245
Media: regulation, ownership and freedom of speech 359 15.77% 6.88 2276
Electoral reform (proportional representation) in the House of Commons 557 24.36% 6.71 2287
Party funding: reducing dependence of political parties on major donors 334 14.65% 6.68 2280
Electoral reform (proportional representation) in local government 357 15.84% 6.15 2254
The UK’s relationship with the European Union 501 21.98% 6.00 2279
Democratic reform of House of Lords (mostly or wholly elected) 301 13.21% 5.93 2278
Reforming the system for MP’s pay and allowances 247 10.99% 5.69 2248
Recall: the right to petition for a ballot to “sack” elected representatives 270 12.04% 5.63 2242
A new constitutional settlement for the United Kingdom 251 11.37% 5.16 2207
Decentralisation and localism 125 5.64% 5.12 2216

* Total responses to each issue varies because the respondents had the option of not giving each issue a priority.

805 of respondents suggested other topics to include in future surveys. We will be analysing these suggestions and reporting back on them shortly.

We also asked more specific questions about three topics: the European Union, political TV debates and lowering the voting age to 16.

European Union

We asked ‘Should the UK hold a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union?’

Should the UK hold a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union?
A plurality (30%) felt ‘No, we should not hold a referendum on either whether to remain in the EU or to approve any future EU treaty’ although a clear majority (62.2%) wanted a referendum of one kind or another. The current government’s position is that a referendum will be held after the Prime Minister negotiates a new settlement with relation to Britain’s membership of the EU. However, this was an option supported by only 14.9% of our respondents.

Our next question asked ‘If a referendum was held on whether the UK should stay or leave the European Union, which way would you vote?’ We found that 67.1% of our supporters said they would vote for the UK to stay in the EU compared to 21.2% who would vote to leave. Again, we are not pretending this is representative of public opinion - but it does suggest that the idea that only opponents of the EU want a referendum is erroneous.

Last of our questions on the European Union was ‘Regardless of your views on the European Union, how important an issue do you think the UK’s membership of it is?’ For 78.9 % of our supporters, the UK’s membership of the EU is considered either ‘Important’ or ‘Extremely important’. This contrasts with the fact that the UK’s role in the EU only came 8th in our tracking poll question, with the average (mean) result being 6.00 and less than 50% of respondents giving it a “7” or higher rating (although nearly 22% said it was top priority), which rather suggests that although it is an important issue for most people, they don’t see it as something Unlock Democracy should be especially focused on. It will be interesting to see whether this changes over the next few months.

TV Debates

We asked ‘In the run up to the next general election, do you think there should be a series of TV debates with the party leaders?’

In the run up to the next general election, do you think there should be a series of TV debates with the party leaders?
An overwhelming majority (72.4%) of our respondents replied with ‘Yes’ to a series of TV debates with party leaders.

Our next question asked ‘How many leaders should be included in each TV debate?’ 79.3% believed that more than two candidates should be included in TV debates. The median value suggests that four candidates should be included while it was three candidates that had the plurality (24.5%) of the vote.

We then asked which party leaders ‘should be invited to participate in at least one of the debates?’.

The leaders of which parties should be invited to participate in at least one of the debates?
The top three parties our supporters believed should be included in debates were the Labour Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. If four parties were included, then this would extend to the Green Party, although there is very little between them and the UK Independence Party. From looking at the comments, 1% of our supporters felt that the Respect Party should also have been included in the survey.

Votes at 16

Finally we asked ‘Should the minimum voting age be lowered to 16?’

Should the minimum voting age be lowered to 16?
Majoritively (54.5%), our supporters opposed lowering the voting age to 16. Even of those who felt that the voting age should be lowered, a majority (59.0% of those in favour of lowering voting age) felt that ‘it isn’t an important issue.’

If you would like to take part in our future tracking polls, register here.




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