Concern about defence/foreign affairs climbs to highest level since the Libyan crisis in April 2011, though the economy celebrates its fifth anniversary as the most important issue facing Britain.
The Economist/Ipsos MORI Issues Index shows that a fifth (21%) of the British public include defence/foreign affairs in their list of the most important issues facing Britain. This is an increase of 13 percentage points since last month, and the highest level of concern about this issue since April 2011.
Those who are more likely to mention this issue include Conservative voters (33%) and those aged 55+ (26%). Our recent poll on Syria shows that six in ten Britons (58%) agree that “the problems in Syria are none of our business and we should not interfere”, and that 77% of Britons believe taking military action in Syria will encourage attacks on the West.
Despite this increase in concern about foreign affairs, the economy remains the most important issue facing Britain, as it has done every month without exception for exactly five years. Nearly half (45%) mention this issue, though it has fallen from 55% in December last year. Those who are most likely to mention it include men (52%), ABs (56%) and Conservative voters (55%). Our September Political monitor shows the highest level of economic optimism in nearly four years (an Economic Index of +23), with optimism higher among the same subgroups who highlight the economy as an important issue (men +32, ABs +37, Conservatives +59).
A third (33%) are concerned about unemployment, indeed this is higher amongst those who are more pessimistic about the economy (including DEs (41%) and those aged 18-34 (38%)). This indicates that those who are more pessimistic about our economic future are closely focused on the issue of unemployment rather than the wider picture.
A similar percentage (32%) are concerned about race/immigration, representing a six percentage point fall since last month. A quarter (23%) are concerned about the NHS, which has fallen by the same margin.
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 970 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 30th August – 8th September in 176 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.