Saturday, 16 July 2011

New poll shows public attitudes in wake of News International crisis

James Murdoch and David Cameron in happier times
An opinion poll for tomorrow's Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday is worth taking note of. It's largely good or reassuring news from a left-wing perspective.

The popular backlash against Rupert Murdoch and News International is fierce. 81% agree with the statement 'All of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, the News of the World, The Sun, The Sunday Times and The Times, have been damaged by recent reports of illegal methods used to get stories.' Only 8% disagree.

63% agree with the statement 'As a result of reports of police officers being paid for information by newspapers, I trust the police less'. 22% disagree.

Only 7% agree that 'Rupert Murdoch and his son James are fit and proper people to take full control of Sky TV'. 73% disagree.

What about attitudes to the cuts? 24% agree with the statement 'The Government is cutting spending in a way that is fair to every section of society'. 60% disagree.

67% agree with the statement 'I expect to be worse off personally as a result of the spending cuts'. 16% disagree.

These findings should of course be treated with some caution. It is well established that some people can regard the cuts as unfair and expect to be worse off personally, but still broadly support the austerity programme. This may seem odd, but there's a huge ideological effort to persuade us that - even if cuts will mean you suffer, even if they aren't fair - they are nevertheless 'unavoidable' or 'necessary'.

51% agree with 'In most cases I have sympathy for people going on strike against public spending cuts'. 38% disagree. Interestingly, 73% of Labour voters agree with the statement. Ed Miliband, take note.

Only 33% agree that 'It is right for the UK to take military action against Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Libya'. 40% disagree. Who speaks for the anti-war 40% in parliament? Just a handful of MPs.

The findings on party leaders' personal ratings show a fall for David Cameron, but an increase for Ed Miliband. Cameron has declined from -7% to -12% since June. Milband has improved from -27% to -14%.

This is hardly a ringing endorsement for the Labour leader, but could prove to be a turning point. It isn't clear, though, that News International's crisis is quite as toxic for Cameron personally as some of us might wish. It is still uncertain how things will play out.


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