I have been hearing about what the polls say. This matters, as polls help drive the attitude of politcal parties. They are one of the main ways politicians in their party groupings try to stay in touch and to understand the public mood. I personally tend to rely more on the emails, letters, doorstep conversations, web comments and the rest that I receive. The polls can provide some useful additional information, if the right questions are asked and the quantitative work is done professionally.
The polls confirm that the economy is the overriding issue to most people. The rising cost of living and unemployment dominate as concerns. People have been very worried about the price of fuel and energy, fares and Council tax, all items that goverment has considerable influence over through the tax and regulatory systems.
Immigration is the next biggest concern. People are very critical of the open borders policy of the previous government. They accept that the Coalition government is seeking to do something about it, but they want more progress and more results more quickly from the changes. There is very substantial support for cutting the deficit as a necessary precondition for economic improvement, and very strong support for moves to limit the welfare bills in an attempt to end the “something for nothing culture” which people think grew up on the fringes of the welfare system under the previous government.
The EU does not poll as a top concern. Attitudes to the EU are heavily sceptical, with only around one fifth in favour of all the powers and policies of the current EU. It is not clear, however, that there is a majority for simple withdrawal. Many want a common market type relationship, falling short of complete exit.