LDV members' survey (2): what you think are the most important issues facing the UK

by Stephen Tall on November 25, 2008

Over the last week, Lib Dem Voice has invited the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions about the party and the current state of British politics. Many thanks to the 200+ of you who completed it; we’re publishing the results this week on LDV.

Tonight we look at what you consider to be the most important issues facing the UK. A word of explanation about the categories that were presented as options: they were based on Mori’s political monitor survey, which asks a representative sample of the public to say what they believe is the single most important issue facing the UK. This was for two reasons: (i) it made sense to go with categories already defined by a pollster; and (ii) it allows us to compare the answers of Lib Dem members with the general public.

However, we differed in our approach compared with Mori in one important respect: they ask for the single most important issue; LDV asked our members What do you believe to be the FIVE most important issues facing the UK today?

And here’s what you told us, together with the percentages of those placing the issue in the top 5:

1. Economy/economic situation 84.21%
2. Environment/pollution 52.63%
3. Poverty/inequality 40.67%
4. Energy/fuel/nuclear power 38.76%
5. Constitutional reform/PR/devolution 26.32%
6. Crime/justice/law and order 26.32%
7. Education/schools 24.88%
8. Taxation 24.40%
9. Housing 23.44%
10. Transport/public transport 21.05%
11. NHS/hospitals/health care 19.62%
12. Defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism 18.18%
13. Unemployment 18.18%
14. Public services in general 13.88%
15. Local government/Council tax 11.00%
16. Immigration/immigrants/race relations 10.05%
17. Inflation/prices 8.61%
18. Pensions/social security 7.66%
19. Low pay/minimum wage/fair wages 7.18%
20. Morality/individual behaviour 6.22%
21. EU/Europe 5.74%
22. Other 5.74%
23. Nuclear weapons/nuclear war/disarmament 0.96%
24. Animal welfare 0.00%

No surprises that the economy topped the list of concerns right now; nor, really, (in a survey of Lib Dems) that the environment, poverty, energy and constitutional reform would all make the top 5. Still, that did leave some important issues lower down than I would have expected: for instance, do crime, education or the NHS actually rank below constitutional reform as key issues? In reality, of course, many will have viewed devolution as an essential prerequisite in creating truly local public services, and so improving both perceptions and reality for service users.

But just as constitutional reform loomed higher than it would on the public’s agenda, three issues I thought would attract significant minority support languished fairly low down the list: local government, Europe and nuclear weapons. All are touchstone issues for the Lib Dems, capable of generating huge controversy, and I would have expected at least one of them to have ranked among the top 10 issues as chosen by a group of Lib Dem members.

Below, for interest and comparison’s sake, is the list of key issues published by Mori in May 2008 (the most recent list available on the web). I imagine that today the economy would appear at the top of the list, and others would shift around as a consequence; but, still, it’s interesting to compare the public’s list of top priorities with those of party members who completed the survey. The placings accorded by LDV-reading Lib Dem members are in brackets:

1. (16) Immigration/immigrants/race relations 18%
2. (6) Crime/justice/law and order 17%
3. (1) Economy/economic situation 17%
4. (17) Inflation/prices 7%
5. (11) NHS/hospitals/health care 5%
6. (12) Defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism 4%
7. (8) Taxation 4%
8. (9) Housing 3%
9. (20) Morality/individual behaviour 3%
10. (2) Environment/pollution 3%
11. (22) Other 3%
12. (7) Education/schools 2%
13. (3) Poverty/inequality 2%
14. (-) Drug abuse 2%
15. (19) Low pay/minimum wage/fair wages 1%
16. (23) Nuclear weapons/nuclear war/disarmament 1%
17. (18) Pensions/social security 1%
18. (14) Public services in general 1%
19. (13) Unemployment 1%
20. (24) Animal welfare 0%
21. (21) EU/Europe 0%
22. (15) Local government/Council tax
23. (5) Constitutional reform/PR/devolution
24. (10) Transport/public transport

You can read the results of all our LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.