Economy continues as the coalition's key challenge, according to the public
The Economist/Ipsos MORI November Issues Index shows that the economy remains the most important issue facing the country - over half (54%) place it among the most important issues facing Britain today, and for two-fifths (39%) it is the single most important issue. it has remained, without interruption, the chief issue of concern amongst the public since September 2008.
Immediately after the 2010 general election, concern about the economy peaked at 71%, the highest level of concern that we have picked up about any issue since February 2002, when a similar percentage were concerned about the NHS. The decline in concern about the economy that we have seen since May could be due to a feeling that the coalition government is best placed to tackle the economy; the proportion of those who felt that the Conservatives are the best party at managing the economy rose from 29% in March to 38% in October.
Though concern about the economy has dropped by 16 percentage points since May, it remains 26 percentage points higher than the issue in second place; unemployment, which has increased by six percentage points since May, to 28%. Earlier this month, our Political Monitor showed that four-fifths (80%) of the public were concerned that job losses in the public sector will not be replaced by vacancies in the private sector.
In November, unemployment is more likely to be mentioned by those aged 18-44 and Labour voters (32% and 39%) than those aged older than 45 and Conservative voters (24% and 18%).
A similar division is evident with concern about race relations/immigration; a quarter (27%) are concerned overall, rising to a third of those aged 55+ and Conservative voters (32% and 35% respectively. Concern about this issue has fallen by 11 percentage points since May, perhaps due to the election result, as the Conservatives are consistently seen as the best party on asylum and immigration.
Crime/law and order is placed amongst the most important issues by a quarter (23%), and concern is higher in greater London and amongst Conservative voters (both 29%).
Education as an issue of importance has decreased over the last six months from 23% in May to 15% in November, though, with two-thirds (67%) concerned about university tuition fees in our latest Political Monitor, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.
Technical note Ipsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 983 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The questions are spontaneous - i.e. respondents are not prompted with any answers. Ipsos MORI's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 5th - 11th November 2010 at 170 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.