Reuters/Ipsos June Political Monitor

The public is split on public sector strikes although most think trade unions are essential to protect workers' rights. Trade unions are seen as more powerful than in the 1990s, although a long way from the 1970s.

Labour leads on healthcare amid concerns about NHS - waiting times in particular

Public is split on public sector strikes although most think trade unions are essential to protect workers’ rights. Unions are seen as more powerful than in the 1990s, although a long way from the 1970s.

Labour vote share falls while the Conservatives’ increases slightly

CON 37(+2); LAB 39 (-3); LIB DEM 11(+1)

Reuters/ Ipsos June Political Monitor shows that Labour has extended its lead over the Conservatives as having the best policies on healthcare. A third of people think that Labour has the best policies on healthcare (37%) compared to 21% who say the Conservatives and 11% the Lib Dems. Labour therefore lead the Conservatives on this issue by 16 points, compared to 9 points in March last year; it is the highest Labour lead on healthcare since 2002.

When asked about the NHS over the next 12 months, the biggest impact of the government’s reforms is expected to be on waiting times; two in five think that waiting times will get worse (44%). Least impact is expected on the service provided by GPs, which over half think will stay the same (55%). A third of people are concerned that standards of treatment will get worse (35%) although half believe that standards will not change (46%). While a significant minority think that the next 12 months will bring greater efficiency to the NHS (20%), twice as many think the efficiency with which the NHS spends public money will get worse (39%) and a similar proportion think it will stay the same (35%). This is supported by separate research by Ipsos for the Department of Health which shows that while perceptions of the NHS providing value for money for taxpayers have increased in recent years, so has agreement that there is waste and inefficiency[i].

The public is evenly split on whether public sector workers are right to go on strike (48% support, 48% oppose). While a third of the public think that trade unions have too much power in Britain today (35%), three-quarters think that they are essential to protect workers’ rights (76%). Since Ipsos first asked the question in 1975, belief that unions are important for protecting workers’ rights has remained consistent at around three-quarters of the public. Agreement that unions have too much power has increased since Ipsos last asked the question in 1995 (35% compared to 24%) although this is much lower than during the 1970s and ‘80s when over two-thirds of the public consistently agreed that unions were too powerful.

Support for the Conservatives has increased slightly this month while the Labour vote share has fallen. Among all those who are certain to vote, 37% would vote Conservative, 39% would vote Labour while 11% would vote Liberal Democrat.

Satisfaction with the government and its leaders remains broadly unchanged this month.  Over a third of people are satisfied with the way the government is running the country (36%) compared to 34% in May. Just under half are satisfied with David Cameron as Prime Minister (45%), while 32% are satisfied with Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister (from 29% last month). A third are satisfied with Ed Miliband as leader of the Opposition (34%) while half are dissatisfied (48%), although one in five do not have an opinion (18%).

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,003 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 17-19 June 2011.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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