Reuters/Ipsos Political Monitor May 2011

While the government is seen as divided on several issues such as tuition fees, the NHS and immigration, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are seen as united on the key issue of the economy

Conservative vote share falls but most people do not think that Labour is ready to govern

While the government is seen as divided on several issues such as tuition fees, the NHS and immigration, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are seen as united on the key issue of the economy

There is little appetite for full Scottish independence across the country as a whole, and a third of British adults believe that it will never happen

CON 35(-5); LAB 42(+2); LIB DEM 10(+1)

The Reuters/ Ipsos May Political Monitor shows that most people think that the Coalition government is divided over the NHS, tuition fees and immigration. However, on the key area of managing the economy, more think the two Coalition parties mostly share similar views (50%) than disagree with each other (39%).On defence and foreign affairs, more people also think the two parties mostly agree than disagree with each other (45% and 38% respectively). On nuclear energy – a policy area the Lib Dems traditionally hold strong views on – the public are unsure about the Coalition’s unity: 35% ‘don’t know’, while 31% believe they mostly share similar views and 34% believe they mostly disagree with each other.

The public is split on how they want political parties in coalition governments to act. Half (49%) want parties to stand up for policies they believe in even if it makes it difficult to make decision, while a similar proportion (47%) believe parties should work together to reach an agreement even if it means giving up on promised policies and taking on new ones. Almost two-thirds (61%) of those who voted Conservative at the last election think that parties should work together, compared to only a third of those who voted Lib Dem (34%) or Labour (37%).

Two in five people (43%) believe that if the economy improves in the next year the public thinks it will be down to the state of the global economy, while a third think the Coalition parties will be responsible for the upturn (35%).  However, if the economy were to get worse over the next 12 months, the current Coalition government, the previous Labour government, the banks and the wider global economy would all share the blame. At present, 42% predict that the economy will get worse in the next year, while 29% think it will get better, putting our Economic Optimism Index at -8, broadly in line with last month.

Only one in three people (31%) agree that Labour is ready to form a government and even fewer believe Ed Miliband is ready to be Prime Minister (17%). Indeed, more than half of Labour supporters believe Miliband is not ready to be Prime Minister. In 1997, a month away from the General Election, over half of the public (55%) believed Labour was ready for government and a similar proportion (53%) believed Tony Blair was ready to be Prime Minister. A month before the 2010 General Election, half the public (51%) felt David Cameron was ready to be Prime Minister and 47% thought the Conservatives were ready to govern.

David Cameron remains the most highly rated party leader (44% of the public are satisfied with his performance), but around the same number are dissatisfied (47%). However, just three in ten (29%) people are satisfied with Nick Clegg’s performance as Deputy Prime Minister – and twice as many (61%) are dissatisfied. For the first time, satisfaction with Nick Clegg is lower than with the government. Satisfaction with Ed Miliband has fallen this month; a third are satisfied with Miliband (35%) but 43% are dissatisfied.

Scottish Independence

Among the British public as a whole there is little appetite for Scottish independence. Only a quarter (24%) think that Scotland should become fully independent and separate from rest of the United Kingdom. Three in ten (29%) however, believe it should have more powers devolved but remain part of the UK. Two in five (42%) believe Scotland should remain part of the UK with the same devolved powers as at present. Compared with the views of Scottish adults in November last year, a similar sized minority favour full independence for Scotland (22% of Scottish adults agreed with this view in November). However, more Scottish people preferred an increase in devolved powers for Scotland (44%) than retaining the status quo (32%) compared with British adults as a whole.

A third of the public (36%) do not think Scotland will ever become an independent nation. One in ten (9%) believe it will happen within 5 years and a quarter (25%) say within 10 years time. Slightly fewer (15%) think it will happen within 20 years time and 10% think it will take more than 20 years.

The British public is unsure how Scottish people would vote in a referendum on Scottish independence. Half (52%) think most people would vote in favour of independence while 44% think they would vote against it.

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,008 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 20th – 24th May 2011.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

More insights about Public Sector