Golley Slater National Survey Shows Government Has Uphill Struggle To Build Public Support
on: April 29, 2010, 2:03 pm
Whichever party forms the next Government faces a major
challenge in restoring battered public confidence and this is brought
home forcefully in Golley Slater’s latest quarterly monitor - Dialect 2
- which tracks consumer opinion throughout the UK.
Published today, Dialect 2 revealed that the vast majority of people (over 2,000)
questioned want a change in government with 71% of those in the Midlands, followed
by London & South East and South West of England tying on 67%, and Yorkshire coming
in third at 64%. People in Scotland are happier with their government than the rest
of the UK as less than half population (48%) want a change in government.
Commenting on the report’s findings Golley Slater’s Chief Executive Chris Lovell
said: “Many issues are exorcising the public’s minds and highlight the difficulties
facing the new Prime Minister post-election. As you will see from the results,
there are concerns across the spectrum of public services. The million dollar
question is whether we are prepared to pay higher taxes for better public services.
We put this question to respondents in our survey and the overwhelming majority were
against this suggestion. Less than 27% would be willing to pay higher taxes for
improved services. The loudest dissenters were those in the Midlands (61%), East
Anglia (58%) and Yorkshire (56%). As consumers, we want it all, but don’t always
want to foot the bill! This is a big challenge for the next government,
particularly in the current economic climate.”
Summary of Dialect 2 (full report available from www.golleyslater.com/dialect.php)
Weak Government Policy: The majority of respondents do not believe that current
government policy is addressing big challenges. Top of the list of concern is care
for the elderly. The over 85 year old age group is predicted to increase from 1.33m
(2.2% of the population) to 7m (8.2% of the population) by 2080. Faith in
government policy to deal with growing elderly care needs stands at just 14.2% to
30% of respondents across the regions, with the Midlands having the least confidence
at 14.2%%. By contrast, government is seen to give much greater attention to areas
such as equality, ethnic minorities, equal opportunities and religious tolerance.
Failure to Improve Public Services: Despite a desire to see positive outcomes from a
newly elected government, the majority of respondents do not believe there will be
an improvement in public services. The most sceptical are those living in Scotland
with 64% feeling there will not be a positive change, closely followed by Wales on
60% and the North West and Yorkshire tying on 56%. [The results for Wales and
Scotland may be due to the fact that public services are devolved in these countries.]
Shortcomings on Jobs, Education and Skills: Respondents did not applaud local
government track record on job creation, education and skills development. In
relation to employment opportunities, in most regions over 50% of respondents said
government had not helped to develop employment opportunities in their region. The
result was worst in the North of England with 61% responding negatively to the
question. This is compounded by the fact that across the regions there is a very
low level of confidence in job security, with the figure standing at 7% of
respondents in East Anglia, falling to 3% of respondents in the South West of
On the education/skills front, the Midlands leads with 65% stating that they do not
believe school leavers are being equipped and skilled for employment in the 21st
century; closely followed by Yorkshire and South West of England on 62%, with the
remaining regions and Scotland standing at 53%-58% negative response. Respondents
felt government should focus on skills that are transferrable and sustainable in an
economy that is highly geared to service over manufacturing.
In Poor Healthcare: The debate about postcode lottery in public healthcare may lie
behind the feedback on the quality of free public healthcare. Sixty-three per cent
of the respondents in the South West of England said healthcare was very good/good,
with Scotland on 62% and the North of England at 60%. Others were less
complementary – for example, only 48% of the population in Wales were positive and
the rest of the regions stood between 45% and 59%. All regions were asked to rate
the level of healthcare from very poor to average - the poorest results were from
Wales (52%), North West (45%) and Yorkshire (44%).
The UK media regularly covers stories on undesirable social behaviour and Dialect 2
asked for views on a range of these including diet & exercise, sexual behaviour,
drug abuse, alcohol consumption, drink driving, domestic violence and crime. The
majority of the respondents across the regions are not convinced that government is
changing attitudes and behaviours to more responsible/positive ones:
• Drug Abuse – Just 20% to 31% of respondents across all regions felt government was
making an impact on drug abuse, leaving large numbers of people feeling that
problems were not being addressed. The majority felt government is not changing
attitudes and behaviours, with the highest levels of concern coming form Wales at
67% of respondents, Scotland and Midlands tying with 61.90% and then North East on
• Domestic Violence – Another disturbing set of figures. Just over 7% to 28.40% of
respondents felt that government was not changing attitudes and behaviour. The
highest negative responses came from the South West, Midlands and Wales, with
figures ranging from 61% to 62%.
• Sexually Transmitted Infections/Teenage Pregnancy – Again, the majority of
respondents felt that the government is not making significant impact in this area
with between 43% and nearly 56% giving a negative response to the question. The
most negative responses came from London & South East (55.60%), Wales (52.90%) and
the Midlands (51.80%).
• Crime Prevention – Between 50% and 69% of respondents were not convinced that
government is addressing criminal behaviour. Most believe the UK needs more police,
longer prison sentences and a reduction in drug abuse.
• Drink Driving – Between 38% and 50% of respondents felt that government messages
on drink driving were getting through to the public, with the best results coming
from the North West (51.10%) but dropping off significantly to 38.20% in London &
South East. The majority of the figures were in the 40 per cents.
• Alcohol Consumption – By contrast to the results on drink driving, the majority of
respondents do not believe that government is changing attitudes towards alcohol
consumption. Just 27% to 34% responded positively to this question, with the
highest percentage of disbelievers being in the Midlands (60.20%), followed by the
South West (59.60%) and London & South East (58.20%).
• Diet & Exercise – On a more positive note, across the regions between 46% and
58.70% of those questioned felt government is changing people’s attitudes towards
diet and exercise. The highest results came from Yorkshire (58%), North West
(55.1%) and the South Wet of England (53.80%).
Further details on the results, together with respondents’ views on public spending
on cultural activities, transport and quality of life/lifestyle can be seen in the
full Dialect 2 report.
Golley Slater’s Dialect 2 Report also highlights trends in traditional and new media
consumption and the trust consumers have in both traditional and new media,
comparing this quarter’s results with the previous report.
As each political party vies for our attention and tries to persuade the British
public that only they will bring about positive change, they are embracing new media
(eg Gordon Brown was interviewed on Twitter last week) to reach audiences. How
effective their efforts are will depend on whether they shift from one-way dialogue
(pushing out messages) and start listening to both offline communities and
communities on social networks such as Facebook which now has 23 million members in
the UK alone. Dialect 2 shows an upward trend in the uniform levels of use of new
media across the UK, particularly Facebook.
Despite the growing passion for new media, traditional media is still king in terms
of public trust, so the use of traditional media is still vital. National TV news
comes top of the list in Scotland and all regions in England. Taking pole position
is London & South East where over 22% of respondents place the greatest trust in the
National TV, closely followed by South West and North West of England where over 21%
of communities in each region trust national TV news more than any other news
source. The Golley Slater survey shows that TV is the most important medium as
demonstrated by the large numbers of the people tuning into the political Leaders
Seven to ten per cent of respondents across all regions trust radio (national and
regional). Of the online news sources monitored (blogs, Twitter, Google, specialist
websites), Google ranked highest, with trust levels ranging between 6.9% (Yorkshire)
to 3.7% (South West of England). Locally, regional newspapers are still top dog,
followed by local radio, regional TV and then the internet.
Dialect 2 Report also covers respondents’ views on public spending on cultural
activities, transport and quality of life/lifestyle. The full report can be
downloaded from Golley Slater’s website – www.golleyslater.com/dialect.php.
Golley Slater is a full service marketing agency.
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